Tobie’s bed needed a wash…

Somebody had a big accident on Tobie’s bed. Don’t know what happened or why, not mentioning any names, maybe a posse of ground squirrels burst in and held him down while others peed all over the window side of the bed. Not pointing any fingers here. And dark stains aren’t that rare, since he commonly chews up bones on the bed – but they fade, and these didn’t which was what got me thinking the unthinkable. This was very uncharacteristic behavior, and dammit Tobie that’s a new bed.

Tobie hates disruption of his living space, don’t blame him, so do I but this clearly called for something that had never happened before…

First thing, even before morning walkie, I took his bed away from him and out to the porch. There was some preliminary work needed, like removing the padding and a good vacuuming – and breaking out the vacuum cleaner first thing in the morning, Uncle Joel? Why are you doing these crazy things?

I hoped to have the bed back to him by evening but didn’t want him being all drama queen all day so I had an alternate plan…

…in the form of an old dog blanket that Neighbor L gave to me a few days ago. Didn’t really believe he’d accept it as a substitute but it was worth a try and to my surprise…

…he said, “yeah, okay.”

So we went for our morning walkie, taking along the bed cover to the washing machine at Ian’s place…

…where it got a good scrubbing and a long session in the machine. I was happy to see that this actually worked.

It being high summer at last, the cover dried very quickly and now…

Good as new. Probably back to not smelling right.

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Oh Frabjous Day, Mk. II

A couple of Generous Readers bought gel socks from the amputee stuff supplier, but that was a while ago and I’ve been awaiting their arrival with increasing anxiety. But today the first batch landed!

I think this is from Anon, who specifically said he bought five. A princely gift, these things ain’t cheap. This is a huge help. Thanks!

Also, to make our day complete the dollar store finally had one of Tobie’s favorite toys…

Not that it immediately matters because his current one isn’t completely dead yet. But it’s getting there, and I’ve had my eye out for a(n inevitably necessary) replacement.

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How to abuse your lungs without really trying…

or, Revenge of That Bush in my Yard.

So a couple of days ago I cut down two of the many intrusive bushes that have taken over my yard between the woodshed and the wash…

…and I really should have paid more attention to the fluffy stuff on the ends of the second one’s branches…

…because as soon as I started cutting that one I was constantly in the middle of a cloud of pollen. And I thought at the time that given the state of my allergies so far this warm season this might not be a good thing. But I was expecting to just spend the rest of the day emptying another tissue box.

Instead I was wheezing before I even got indoors. My windpipe basically closed, and though I seem to be better this morning I’m still constantly clearing my throat.

I am undeterred! I own a paint respirator, and I’m not afraid to use it! But it does seem as though everything’s trying to hurt me lately…

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The bushes in my yard are out of control…

I don’t know why but in the past couple of years what used to be mostly bare dirt has broken out in big dense bushes. Not just here, either – it’s happening all over.

I wanted something like a string trimmer but with substantially more authority, one that could reach into a bush and slice the branches out. The sort of thing I’d normally use loppers for, but these bushes are too thick and tangled for that.

Finally got something I hoped would work…

Allergies or not, I’ve been really looking forward to trying this out. I started with two bushes that have been bugging me for a long time…

My new brush cutter isn’t very expensive, and as feared the price of that was a not-very-powerful electric motor. But it does have reach and at least a little authority, so once I figured out something resembling a technique…

…those two bushes became big piles of brush in the driveway in less than one sweaty hour.

Now I’m paying for it with barely being able to breathe again. But that will pass. I must demand a little more respect from the plants in my yard. Still have some raking to do.

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Allergies are wearing me down…

After a pretty good day I had a night that seemed to last about 48 hours. Some of that was the heat – the first heat wave of the summer has arrived to smite us sinners in its righteous wrath – but also because I can’t sleep if I can’t breathe

On the plus side, I was able to restock my tissue supply at the Palace of Food day before yesterday. So I have that going for me.

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“Moms Demand Action” makes a lot more sense now…

This made my morning. You’re familiar with Markley’s Law, right? It refers to the musty old joke that an interest in owning/carrying guns is driven by a desire to compensate for small male genitalia*. Guns are phallic symbols, people unhappy with their own phalluses are drawn to carry them in order to project power and aggression that they would not otherwise feel.

It was always just a slur, nobody ever tried to actually quantify whether it’s true or not.

Or have they? Actually it seems somebody did.

I don’t know who sponsored the above-linked study but I can only assume they didn’t get their money’s worth. Because the study** turned out to purport the exact opposite.

Size Matters? Penis Dissatisfaction and Gun Ownership in America

In this study, we formally examine the association between penis size dissatisfaction and gun ownership in America. The primary hypothesis, derived from the psychosexual theory of gun ownership, asserts that men who are more dissatisfied with the size of their penises will be more likely to personally own guns.

We find that men who are more dissatisfied with the size of their penises are less likely to personally own guns across outcomes, including any gun ownership, military-style rifle ownership, and total number of guns owned. The inverse association between penis size dissatisfaction and gun ownership is linear; however, the association is weakest among men ages 60 and older.

😀 I’m not suggesting that the above is in any way important or meaningful or even truthful. But it did get a chuckle out of me.

*the fact that it may or may not be true in my case is not an indication of truthiness in regard to the general population. No part of my aspect has ever graced the cover of a romance novel, or ever would – on the other hand I don’t actually own that many guns.

**which may or may not be any more accurate than the slur it was intended to reinforce, I’d have no way of knowing.


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Back from the Palace of Food…

First Wednesday of the month is senior day. Yay. We went early this time and it wasn’t very crowded but this is my first visit in three months and I started out kind of hyperventilating anyway. But I got over it.

Somebody knew right away there’s something in those bags for him…

Abandonment issues and all, Tobie kind of likes it when Uncle Joel goes to the Palace of Food.

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Worst Spam Ever…

I think this was composed by an AI whose first language is not English.

You know you’ve addressed this to someone who can’t confidently define what an app is, right? No. You didn’t know that, Robbie Robot. I award you no points.

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The Four O’Clocks are out early this year…

This is normally an autumn flower…

…but they’re already showing up in May/June. A little confusing, especially since it hasn’t been wet.

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Sorry, guys, but allergies have got me…

I had a few days’ reprieve, where I was getting work done and feeling pretty good about life, but now I’m back to barely being able to breathe, see or sleep. Otherwise I’m fine, nothing is seriously wrong, but I don’t promise scintillating blogging in the very near future.

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Oh frabjous day!

It was a TUAK reader quite a few years ago who turned me on to gelsocks. The prosthesis I had before my current one, I got so long ago that there was no such thing then, and when it no longer fit very well I frequently walked in – I don’t think it’s too theatrical to call it extreme pain. Gelsocks fill the gaps and cushion the pressure and they’re so ubiquitous now that my current prosthesis really wouldn’t work without them.

Alas, they’re very expensive, like $42+ each, and not particularly durable. Even before they get all rotten and tattered, they pretty much lose their squishiness and you end up doubling and tripling them to fit in your socket at all. As such, ever since I discovered them they have been both the salvation and the bane of my life.

So naturally when I got on social security last month, I planned to remedy the sad state of the socks in my nightstand drawer. A little at a time, of course, because $42+ each. I bought two earlier just to make sure I was getting the right thing, since I hate buying important things online but really have no choice*, and then I just took delivery of five more. And! Two Generous Readers heard about this and pledged more which I’m informed are inbound. So I’m gonna be set for a while.

* The big noise in prosthetic and orthotic devices is Hanger Clinic, which demands you get a doctor’s prescription before they’ll sell you any. Apparently there’s a scourge of orthopedic textile abuse of which I was previously unaware. The online companies like Amputee Supply never heard about it – they just sell them.

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Second coat on the east wall complete

And a first coat on about half the south wall of the main cabin, just to use up what was in the tray. The south wall got complicated a lot with the bedroom addition, what with door trim and downspout and such; a lot of that will be brush work.

The plan now is to move to the porch roof and railing and window/door trim, most of which is brush work and will go really slow because it’s fiddly and bendy (hard on old Uncle Joel’s back) and boring as hell. I’m leaving the west bedroom wall until last, to give Phoebe time to raise her babies and begone. I may not do more than clean bird shit off the north wall of the main cabin, which doesn’t get a lot of sun and doesn’t really need painting.

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“I immediately regret this decision,” said the coyote…

I’ll be damned. Quarter to five in the morning and I just took my first shot at a coyote in something like 11 years.

In all the time I’ve been here I have only ever killed – or at least wounded, I never recovered a body – one coyote, a female that came into the yard when the dogs were elsewhere and the chicken yard was new. That abruptly ended coyote incursions into the vicinity of the Lair for a really long time. But beginning last Fall I started getting scat in my driveway closer and closer to the cabin, until at last in December I got a picture of the evildoer in action. I resumed my old practice of dumping bottles of pee on bushes at all the likely entrances to my yard and that seemed to close the issue for a while.

Lately poor Tobie has been getting serenaded just before daybreak, day after day. This morning was no exception and he really didn’t appreciate it. Seemed very close, too. I leashed him up to go out for a pee as soon as I was vertical, not expecting to see any coyotes. Mind you, I almost never see coyotes when I’m afoot: It’s very rare.

But there was a small ‘yote in the wash, sauntering to the north like it owned the place. And while I watched it stopped and stared at me – I must assume insolently.

Okay, I’m loath to actually kill things without a very good reason. By far the majority of the times I fire my pistol for realsies I’m really just trying to make something rethink its decisions without bloodshed. But this thing was crossing a pretty serious line. If it’s not afraid of me, and if its packmates aren’t afraid of me, they could conceivably become a threat to me or Tobie. And this sort of thing, rare as it is, is why I have a strict policy of never leaving my porch unless I’m ready to go to war.

I missed high, either because the zero’s off on the new pistol (see previous post) or because I was ambivalent about killing the coyote and really wasn’t aiming carefully. Pretty long shot at a small target anyway. But I missed close, and the ‘yote got the message. Wiped that insolence off its face in any case, and saw how fast a coyote can run.

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Into each new relationship, some rain must fall.

I put a red dot on my S&W m69 two years ago and it worked without difficulty, but the Smith is a revolver without that pesky steel slide that automatics have, slamming back and forth with every shot. I’m certainly sold on the concept – in fact with my deteriorating eyesight an optic is pretty much a non-negotiable necessity – but I await concrete proof that it’s a good idea in practice.

Still, in the past several years red dots on automatics have become very popular so I can assume it’s not a big problem, right?


So how come the optic damn near fell off my new gun the other day? It’s held on with two screws, both of which backed out so far it’s a miracle I didn’t lose one or both. Naturally I assumed the screws had been installed without thread locker. But upon inspection…

Nope. They had thread locker. So WTF?

I went to town this morning and got my own tube of Locktite, and the screws are snugged down again. I’ll have to recheck the zero, of course, but I don’t know how long it’ll be before I trust the optic to stay put because I can find no reason for this to have happened.

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Getting to work on the east wall…

In June of 2015 the longsuffering Lair finally got its siding. This was like six years after the structure was otherwise complete, by which time the underlayment was not in great shape.

2015 was deep into my “you too can live on $30 a week” phase, which is why it took so long to buy the siding – only TUAK readers made it possible – and except for the south wall which sees most of the weather and all the drippage the siding was, shall we say, not of the finest. Not of the worst, but…

Well. It’s been nine years.

And the last coat of paint was five years ago, which is going too long between coats. In particular, the east wall turned out to be rather more susceptible to weather and sun damage than I expected.

So I’ve been spending all my work time so far on the east wall and haven’t yet cracked a bucket of paint. Doing a lot of caulking to catch up with shrinkage and in one case where the siding had delaminated and peeled…

…sort of adding material.

Anyway, I’m ready to paint at last. Actually painting that wall doesn’t really take any time at all. Having tried every method of working from a ladder I could think of, which resulted mostly just in stress, I finally just invested in a very long paint pole.

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May is traditionally my favorite month, but…

…the past couple of years it has done me dirty. I mean, I know the weather and the flora haven’t changed, and I’ve always gone through Spring spells where I shouldn’t get too far from a handkerchief. So I’m assuming that it’s just another one of the joys of aging that last year and this, once the junipers get frisky I’m damned near incapacitated. I really thought last year was a fluke – until the past couple of days. Can hardly breathe. Can hardly see. Seemingly can’t sleep at all, which means I spend my afternoons in a sleep-deprived haze. Which probably isn’t aided by the fact that a measurable fraction of my blood content right now likely has a Claritin logo on it.

Anyway I’ve just been fuzzing through the past couple of days, which grieves me because – putting the wind aside – this really is my very favorite weather of the year. I’m okay early…

We had a really nice walkie and got some laundry going, and except for constant handkerchief use I was fine through that. Tobie, meanwhile…

…was being a very good boy. So much so I almost wanted to ask what he was up to. Sometimes we have great engagement and sometimes we do the other thing, with him wanting to hare off after every errant interesting scent. This morning he was really on, looking up at me for direction every time there was any decision to be made. He did so well I delayed going back inside the cabin and went through his basic commands with him, just so we could swap dopamine hits. He was so into it that when we came inside and he had his water and his treat, instead of going off to lay down he stood in the middle of the cabin and stared at me expectantly as if wanting more. So I smiled and whispered – since this phrase is often spoken in a tone suggestive of punishment – “Go lay down.” And he teleported to his bed, still locking eyes with me, as if wanting to make sure I knew what a Good Boy he was being. So yeah, he extorted another treat out of me.

We’ve been using a 14-foot lead, which given the abundance of bushes often causes a problem that reminds me of the difference between Tobie and Little Bear. My Big Black Monster constantly wrapped his lead around whatever was available, and we played a game called “Go Around” where he tried to guess whether he should go clockwise or counterclockwise to unwrap it. His success rate was never more than random to the point where it really did just become a funny game we played together, with him getting a big kick out of my laughter. When I wanted him untangled I almost always had to do it myself. I mean I loved him like a son, don’t get me wrong, but when they handed out brains that dog thought they said syphilis, and he avoided even the slightest dose.

But Tobie really understands the issue, proactively walking on my side of any approaching bush, and when it happens anyway “Tobie Stop” and “Go Around” means stop and reverse direction to avoid getting tangled up in that bush. I’m not sure if he’s the smartest dog I’ve ever had here, because I was never entirely sure just how smart Ghost was. Ghost had a cat’s sort of smarts – he understood what was needed for safety in the boonies but never really cared whether I was happy with him or not. I’m hoping that when he’s fully mature Tobie will stay close enough that old control-freak Joel can maybe let him off the leash. But so far he’s really only interested in obeying when he knows he has no choice even if the horizon beckons. And there are too many things out here that can kill a dog. I’m really hoping Tobie will be my first old dog, if you get my meaning.

Anyway: I am determined that I will get at least a little done this afternoon toward painting the cabin. I have a plan, and there’s no rush, but this is the third day since I bought the paint and tools and so far I’ve just been drowsing in a chair when I should have been working.

Or maybe a nap first…

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Time to get busy…

Sometimes the problem with living in the boonies is that the logistics of doing something is harder than actually doing something. Example…

One thing I was absolutely determined to get done this season was at least one good coat of fresh paint for the Lair, which is starting to look faded and neglected. But social anxiety kicks in: It takes so long to get paint mixed, can I get [the neighbors I catch rides to town with] to wait that long? My inner skinflint complains: It costs so much, can I do that and also buy socks for my prosthesis?

Well yes I can, especially since a Generous Reader recently took some of that burden from me. And my neighbor wanted to go get her hair done, which meant I waited for her to finish. Problem solved.

Now I just have to gear up for the first big chore of the season. And I’m motivated, because the Lair is my darlin’ and I hate to see it looking neglected.

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Beware of the attractive menace…

I know better than to do this. But I confess it’s not the first time I’ve done it…

“I’ll go back and finish cleaning up after lunch.” Uh huh. So there the old antifreeze sat, totally forgotten.

Tobie had probably been smelling it all day and all night and really wanted to check it out. So first thing this morning we came outside and he made a beeline for it. And absolutely ignored my commands to get away from it; happily I could physically drag him away. Don’t be like me. That stuff will kill dogs.

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New Jeep Radiator…

Got a new radiator Friday, and installed it this morning.

This one went considerably faster than the first one did, since (unexpected benefit) in the interim the Jeep got a whole new trans cooler and so the bottom tank on the radiator isn’t even connected to anything.

The leak turned out not to be much…

As I thought, a solder seal on the core broke but it was a small leak. Seemed pretty cataclysmic last Monday when the consequences announced themselves but it had obviously been leaking a little for a long time. Funny I never smelled it.

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I’m proud of my boy!

Tobie seems to have achieved total snake aversion all on his own! Last time he seemed to be getting it, but that was a long time ago. Last year I don’t think he encountered any snakes at all.

But this morning he rounded the corner of the powershed and then for some reason teleported to as far on the other side of the yard as his long lead permitted, and strained for more. The reason…

A smallish bullsnake that came out from under the powershed to warm up. Harmless to the point of benevolence and very welcome to hang around the (mouse infested) shed all it likes as far as I’m concerned. But Tobie has decided that “no legs bad.” And that’s a decision I’ve devoutly wished him to make, since rattlesnake bites are a leading cause of dog injury and death around here. I can’t exactly rush him to the nearest vet.

When we got back from our walkie he refused to even enter the yard till I went first and proved the snake was gone. That might be taking the snake aversion thing a little far, but better that than heedlessness.

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