Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The First Time I Drove a Vehicle

1950s Tractor

This may be more difficult than one might anticipate.  When I was but six years old, my Uncle Murray, was driving his tractor along a dirt road, and picked up his kids, as well as my older sister and I.  We were riding along standing on a rear rail of the tractor, when suddenly, I was being picked up and landed in my Uncle's lap.  He told me to drive his tractor.  Really it was only steering, but I was so caught off guard, that I sort of panicked, and began turning the wheel more than I should have, which almost landed us in a ditch.

I had never even ridden on a tractor before, as we had previously lived in Hamilton, Ohio, and my dad was an electrical contractor there, not a farmer.

This was in a small rural community in Sumner, Georgia, and here, there were fields of corn and peanuts all around.  My Uncle grew watermelons, cotton, corn and peanuts depending on seasons and crop rotation, so he had taught his son to drive a tractor when he was only three years old.  But his kids grew up on the farm, and I was just getting adjusted to that sort of thing.

1940s Crosleys (Sedan and Wagon)
My next attempt a really driving a vehicle was under my father's guidance.  He was an excellent teacher, and I had watched him drive all my life.  I had taken note of how he managed the steering wheel, the brakes and the clutch.  When we moved across the country from Texas to California, I was the navigator, and this required reading the map and telling my dad well ahead of time which roads and towns we were approaching, as well as which way to turn to get to our desired destination.

I was about thirteen when he allowed me to move a vehicle on our property.  I learned to drive a four on the floor, in an old 1948 Crosley wagon.  This was before the VW Bug even existed, at least in the United States.  Somehow, my dad had found this little gem for sale in 1959 or maybe 1960.

1949 Dodge Coronet
1950s Dodge Coronet
Then, after I got my learner's permit to drive, my dad and I were out taking care of business here is Southern California, when he suddenly pulled off to the side of the road, and told me to drive his 1950 Dodge Coronet 2 door sedan.   Here we were in even ing traffic, and it was long before Southern California was criss-crossed with freeways that now exist.  I was driving from Long Beach to Westminster, California, all in one dose.  My heart was pounding, as I was concerned about being the cause of some horrific accident and maybe killing us both as well as innocent people in other vehicles.  He coached me in controlling how fast or slow to move out after being stopped fro traffic lights, and how to merge with oncoming traffic, as well.

This car had what was then called a semi-automatic transmission, which meant that I would start out in first gear,  and I could either shift it into second, or allow it to slip into second, and I would then change into third.  It had a button on the end of the steering column shift that you pushed to go into overdrive, for overcoming slower traffic for passing, or speeding up to merge into moving traffic.  I really loved that car.  It had a glass-packed muffler, and really roared when you gunned the engine.  I wouldn't mind having another one of those cars even today.

That was my dad's work car, which I would eventually inherit when he bought a new Turquoise long-bed 1961 Dodge 1/2 ton pickup truck.

He was nearly killed in his truck, when a women lost control of her 1948 Ford car, and careened across the center divider on a heavily driven main road in work traffic on Hwy 39 between Westminster and Hunting Beach, CA in 1962.  She was killed, and my father's truck was totaled.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Competition in Many Interests

Barrel Racing
Cutting it a bit wide
While I try not to be really competitive, as in competing with someone, in life in general, we all have to compete to some extent. I don't really compete to beat someone, but to have fun. Even writing is competitive in a sense, and we all would like to have others read and enjoy or learn something from what we write.

Happy Contractor
In contracting, things are by necessity competitive, as in submitting bids, to perform a contracted task, service or construction project. While some are only interested in the bottom line, that being cost, many others are also interested in the finished product, as well as the honesty and craftsmanship that is the quality of design, and installation of the contracted product. They are also interested in the reputation of the contractor(s) they deal with.

Well Bred Yorkshire Terrier
I enjoy playing games, which by their very nature are competitive, someone has to win, and someone also has to lose.

 When a dog or cat breeder/handler, shows their own or someone else's dog or cat, they are out to prove the animal they are showing is one of the very best available, and will improve the breed.

When I was showing my Boston Terrier, there was seldom real competition, as he was of the line of the winningest Boston Terriers in AKC history. Rocky seemed to know he was the best there, and seemed to say, "Im here, and the rest of you guys can just go on home." He got his championship in short order. Rocky had personality to spare, and energy that just didn't stop.
Jumping Horse

Even riding horses gets competitive, whether it's the horse or rider. When I rode almost daily, with a friend or friends, we often ran out horses full out when we were in a wide open area. They knew we were going to have some fun, and they were up and ready for it. Dusty loved barrel racing, pole bending, and keyhole, too. Yet, when we were just trail riding, she was eager and not out of control.

While a horse is barrel racing, pole bending, and performing keyhole, the horse is only mentally challenging itself, as there is no head to head running as in horse racing.  I never did barrels in shows, but certainly did with a friend, just for fun, to see how Dusty performed. We timed each other's horse to see if they actually had what it takes for the real thing. We were careful to place the barrels at official placement, too. Dusty had plenty of heart, and I recall her timing to be about 14.6 seconds to run the barrels. That is very respectable in anybody's time book.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Why I'm Thankful for Caller ID

Coyote in Wait
I've managed to pretty much stop most, if not all telephone solicitors calls, as I have my numbers listed with the "Do Not Call Registry." I have had my phone numbers for many years, and I still occasionally get calls for the people who had the number previously from creditors trying to locate them, and collect on some debts. I have also been told by at least one creditor that these people are still listing my number as being theirs. I also have had someone giving my home number to several local schools, as if it's theirs. I was receiving automated calls telling me of lock downs, and notifications of other school related things.  I believe I have finally stopped these calls. It took several calls not only to the individual schools, but even to the district school superintendent to finally get it straightened out.

I do receive calls from two people who call quite frequently, and though they are both nice people, they both are very stressful to talk with. One want to constantly gossip, talking about neighbors, or giving me just about everything reported on the afternoon TV news. If I don't answer, they leave a message saying they need to speak with my urgently. I can't seem to get this person to understand that if they don't stop leaving these fake "urgent" messages, that one day it may well be urgent, and no one will return the call, as they have" yelled wolf" too many times.

I really care about both of these people, but they cause me a lot of stress. One is a relative, and the other is a gentleman whom I had helped save some thirty cats that the county was going to trap and destroy. He says he likes having the cats around, but living at the base of the local mountains makes his cats fair game for hungry coyotes.
Three Rescued Stray Cats

He has way too many cats, (ranging from 15 to 30 or more) and really cannot afford proper veterinary care. He rationalizes that they love to have kittens, and get into fights, and roam the neighborhood, getting killed and torn apart.

He is a lonely man, who has OCD problems and who though he cares, he will not do anything about getting his other cats spayed or neutered, or let me find homes for any of them. All except one of the original cats have disappeared, over the past two and a half years, or were killed and eaten by coyotes and/or owls.

Cat Trying to Survive

I have finally had to tell him to stop telling me about what's happening to the cats, as it's obvious that I care more what happens to them than he does, but I have no power to do anything about their lives or their  safety, nor to get them spayed or neutered.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

My Must-Sing-Aloud Songs

There are so very many songs that I have always just had to sing aloud with every time I hear them, or they come into my head.
Julie Andrews
"I Could Have Danced All Night"

1-"I Could Have Danced All Night"
2-"El Paso"
3-"Wayward Wind"
4-"How Much is That Doggy in the WIndow?"
5-"Secret Love"

And the list goes on...  Below are the lyrics to four of my favorites:

"I Could Have Danced All Night"

Eliza Bed! Bed! I couldn't go to bed! 
My head's too light to try to set it down! Sleep! Sleep! 
I couldn't sleep tonight. 
Not for all the jewels in the crown!
I could have danced all night! 
I could have danced all night! 
And still have begged for more. 

I could have spread my wings 
And done a thousand things I've never done before. 
I'll never know What made it so exciting;
Why all at once My heart took flight. I only know when he 
Began to dance with me I could have danced, 
danced, danced all night! 

Eliza I could have danced all night! 
I could have danced all night! 
And still have begged for more.
I could have spread my wings 
And done a thousand things I've never done before.

I'll never know What made it so exciting. 
Why all at once my heart took flight.
I only know when he
Began to dance with me. 
I could have danced, danced danced all night! 

Mrs. Pearce I understand, dear. 
It's all been grand, dear. 
But now it's time to sleep. 

Eliza I could have danced all night, 
I could have danced all night.
And still have begged for more. 
I could have spread my wings, 
And done a thousand things I've never done before. 

I'll never know What made it so exciting. 
Why all at once my heart took flight. I only know when he 
Began to dance with me I could have danced, danced, 
danced All night!

"El Paso"

Out in the West Texas town of El Paso
I fell in love with a Mexican girl.
Night-time would find me in Rosa's cantina;
Music would play and Felina would whirl.

Blacker than night were the eyes of Felina,
Wicked and evil while casting a spell.
My love was deep for this Mexican maiden;
I was in love but in vain, I could tell.

One night a wild young cowboy came in,
Wild as the West Texas wind.
Dashing and daring,
A drink he was sharing
With wicked Felina,
The girl that I loved.

So in anger I
Challenged his right for the love of this maiden.
Down went his hand for the gun that he wore.
My challenge was answered in less than a heart-beat;
The handsome young stranger lay dead on the floor.

Just for a moment I stood there in silence,
Shocked by the FOUL EVIL deed I had done.
Many thoughts raced through my mind as I stood there;
I had but one chance and that was to run.

Out through the back door of Rosa's I ran,
Out where the horses were tied.
I caught a good one.
It looked like it could run.

Up on its back
And away I did ride,
Just as fast as I
Could from the West Texas town of El Paso
Out to the bad-lands of New Mexico.

Back in El Paso my life would be worthless.
Everything's gone in life; nothing is left.
It's been so long since I've seen the young maiden
My love is stronger than my fear of death.

I saddled up and away I did go,
Riding alone in the dark.
Maybe tomorrow
A bullet may find me.
Tonight nothing's worse than this
Pain in my heart.

And at last here I
Am on the hill overlooking El Paso;
I can see Rosa's cantina below.
My love is strong and it pushes me onward.
Down off the hill to Felina I go.

Off to my right I see five mounted cowboys;
Off to my left ride a dozen or more.
Shouting and shooting I can't let them catch me.
I have to make it to Rosa's back door.

Something is dreadfully wrong for I feel
A deep burning pain in my side.
Though I am trying
To stay in the saddle,
I'm getting weary,
Unable to ride.

But my love for
Felina is strong and I rise where I've fallen,
Though I am weary I can't stop to rest.
I see the white puff of smoke from the rifle.
I feel the bullet go deep in my chest.

From out of nowhere Felina has found me,
Kissing my cheek as she kneels by my side.
Cradled by two loving arms that I'll die for,
One little kiss and Felina, good-bye. 

"Secret Love"

Once I had a secret love
That lived within the heart of me
All too soon that secret love 
Became impatient to be free

So I told a friendly star
The way that dreamers often do
Just how wonderful you are
And why I'm so in love with you

Now I shout it from the highest hills
Even told the golden daffodils
Just how wonderful you are
And why I'm so in love with you

Now I shout it from the highest hills
Even told the golden daffodils
Just how wonderful you are
And why I'm so in love with you

"Wayward Wind"

The wayward wind is a restless wind
A restless wind that yearns to wander
And he was born the next of kin
The next of kin to the wayward wind

In a lonely shack by a railroad track
He spent his younger days
And I guess the sound of the outward-bound
Made him a slave to his wand'rin ways

And the wayward wind is a restless wind
A restless wind that yearns to wander
And he was born the next of kin
The next of kin to the wayward wind

Oh, I met him there in a border town
He vowed we'd never part
Though he tried his best to settle down
I'm now alone with a broken heart

And the wayward wind is a restless wind
A restless wind that yearns to wander
And he was born the next of kin
The next of kin to the wayward wind
The next of kin to the wayward wind

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Some Really Up and Down Weather in Southern California

Early Morning Sunrise-Late January From My Front Yard
©2011 PK Hawk
This has been a most unusual winter.  Thankfully, we have at least had some rain, and though it has gotten rather cold, it certainly could have been worse.  This past week in the area that I live, it has gotten to about 30 degrees Fahrenheit at night, and only into the mid fifties during the day.  Of course in the midwest, and on the east coast of the United States, they have had seriously cold weather, even getting snowed in, and airplanes being grounded.

The next few days in SoCal, it is actually supposed to get into the 80s.  The whole winter has been more or less up and down when it comes to the temperatures out here.  It really makes it so that many people seem to be getting sick, though my family has been very fortunate and no one has really been ill enough to miss work.  Personally, I haven't been ill at all.

My Pond Fish
©2010 PK Hawk
My pond fish are eating like crazy, and I can already tell they have grown since last fall.  Even with the chilly mornings, they are looking for food, which is a bit out of the ordinary with temperatures as they have been.  I'm pretty sure we will have an early spring, as this is the first time my outdoor pond fish have ever has such ravenous appetites since I got them about three years ago.  They were only about an inch to an inch and a half long when I purchased them from the feeder tank at my local Walmart.  Now, they range from about five to about nine inches, and are fat and sassy.

Ripe Oranges
I have family living in Warner Robins, GA, and in South Dakota, who have had some serious cold weather this winter.  I started checking the weather in Dutch Harbor, Alaska against the weather in Warner Robins, since they actually got snow in many parts of Georgia this winter. It may surprise you to know that there were several weeks, that where my cousin lives in Georgia was almost the same temperature as Dutch Harbor, AK.

The last time I checked, it had leveled off a bit, but not by much.  I remember living in southern Georgia when I was about six to eight years-old, and it really got very cold and even froze there.  We were weren't even very far from the Florida state line, either.  Of course Florida has always had occasional freezes, that have wiped out their citrus crops off and on over the past sixty or so years.

What with apparent climate change, and with the magnetic pole shift moving around, I suppose that would affect the climate in many places.

Breakfast, Lunch, or Dinner?

Campfire Breakfast with Grits

This one's a bit hard to nail down, as many times, I will eat something for breakfast that might be considered dinner, or lunch. I might eat breakfast for dinner, too.

I have never been really nailed down to eating one particular type of meal for any meal in particular.

Haven't you ever eaten pizza for breakfast, or an omelet for dinner? I have done all the above, and sometimes I love beef stew for breakfast, or a bowl of yogurt for dinner. There are many times, that I will eat a ham and cheese omelet with polish sausage and a Mediterranean vegetable mix for breakfast. Sometimes, I even add blueberries on top of the veggies.
Homemade Chili Beans
©2010 PK Hawk

I also will eat homemade chili beans with meat for any meal.  This photo is one I took while preparing one of my variations on chili beans.  Sometimes, I make it more simple, and other times, its got all sort of things added.

I also love my homemade butter beans (dried lima beans) with ham shanks.  Things like these, I can eat any time, and it really doesn't matter the time of day or night.

I really do love eating something like cherry crepes, or eggs and bacon mixed in with either gently fried potatoes with onions, or with hominy grits, with melted cheese, all mixed up with my over easy eggs and crumbled bacon.
Baby Octopus
©2010 PK Hawk
Baked Cheese & Crab on the Half Shell
©2010 PK Hawk
Fried Bananas
©2010 PK Hawk

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Friday, February 4, 2011

Haiku, Haiku, Haiku, Haiku 4 4 1

Unequal Share?

Why do some people

Seem to think that you owe them

'cause they're family

Kind love is sharing

Ungracious ones think it's owed

Taking advantage stinks

Give 'til it hurts. right?

But it must come from both sides

Or it's just taking

Room and board for free?

When you're well able to work

How selfish they be

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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Seventeen Moras of Frustration

Oh No, Not Again

Haiku:  Stressful, unwelcome phone calls

A certain caller phones

At most inopportune times

Barely out of bed

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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

My Experience with Natural Disasters

Fires, Earthquakes, Floods, and Tornadoes... Oh My!

Oh my! This opens up a whole list of events that I have lived through, witnessing up close and personal, as well as at a relative close distance.


Richter Scale Graft
Living in California, I have been through many earthquakes, of various magnitudes, ranging from barely noticeable, to at least two that practically threw me out of bed in the morning, as well as in broad daylight. I have gotten pretty good recognizing the magnitude as well as the distance and direction of the epicenter of quakes from my home. The valley in which I live is literally crisscrossed with fault lines. What people first thought were only dry gullies, have now been identified as actually being earthquake faults. These are literally everyplace in this area. There are many pieces of land that it is not permitted to build on, due to their being at least one fault line on the property.


a fact of life in
The whole state California is well known to be wildfire prone.  Living where I do, we get many wildfires each year, with hundreds more scattered throughout the state. I'm sure many of you have heard of the devastation wreaked on thousands of residents of several areas in California. We are affected to some extent, from hazy skies, to total blackout conditions, depending on out proximity to these fires.

My youngest daughter and my eldest niece and their families live at the base of the mountains that I have used in several photos I have posted online, and have on occasion had to evacuate due to the proximity of a nearby wildfire. My younger sister was a volunteer firefighter/paramedic for many years, and she has actually fought in many of the local wildfires. Now that she is no longer a "spring chicken" she assists people with evacuating their livestock when fires are approaching their property, transporting horses, llamas, cattle, and various other livestock to locations considered safer, where the animals will be kept, fed and watered, until it is safe to return home, that is unless the place may have been lost in the fire.

Once a fire that started in the San Diego are, about one hundred miles from our community, gathered such momentum, that it burned to within half a mile of my sister's property. While she was busily evacuating the horses that belonged to others in more immediate danger, my brother-in-law and I were loading things onto his truck, and getting their eight horses ready for evacuation. Fortunately, somehow, the winds suddenly died down, and the fire fighters were actually to stop the fires progression toward there place. We have had many friends also affected by wildfires in this locality. 

One older couple, whom we have known for more than fifteen years, own about ten acres, with several out building, such as barns, etc. Just a few years ago, they were evacuated, as the fire burned right up to the rear of their barn. They were not home at the time, so friends, all headed over, emptied the house and carted everything off to safety. The couple got home in time to see their loyal friends all lined up on their property, loading their belongings onto pickups, trailers, and even into horse trailers, to save everything possible, in the event the home were to be lost.

Thanks again to our wonderful, very experienced firefighters, the whole place was saved, and all the furniture, home and all out buildings on their property were saved.  There have been many deaths of firefighters who were caught in what is called a "fire storm," which is generated when the heat of the fire  become so intense, that it creates its own climate, and becomes much like a hot, burning tornado, overwhelming firefighters before they can escape.  Nowadays, it is standard that all firefighters have emergency blankets, which they can get under, for protection, and still have some air to breathe while the storm will hopefully pass on by.  Unfortunately, there are still deaths from time to time, when a firefighter may not even have time to get under his fire shield blanket.

Muddy Floodwaters
When I was about seven years-old, we lived in Albany, Georgia. We lived in a small apartment complex made up of about ten buildings consisting of duplexes, which were in a circular design. The one we lived in backed up to a wooded area, which was maybe fifteen feet above the Flint River. To get to the river, we descended a rather steep slope, which I really didn't realize at the time, would eventually be filled almost entirely with rainwater from a massive storm. When things were dry, we often went down to the water to play, and even fish. That time, we came very close to losing everything from the rushing water that had breached the banks and then some.  Again, when I was about nine, we lived in Texas.  There was what is known as a cloudburst, which is rain falling exponentially heavier than what most people will see in their live time.  We had such a rain that seemed to come out of a clear sky.  That was the first rain we saw in Texas.  The rain began falling, and the streets began to flood.  My mother, having never seen such a thing, out of concern for neighbors who were living a bit lower, and along the road, went out to see the flooding water, which was running like a fast moving river, taking everything in it's path.

Realizing she was not going to be able to help anyone, she turned to come back inside, only to discover that she was standing on the only dry patch of soil around.  The water had been coming from behind her, as there were some rather nondescript little hillocks on the property where we lived, and beyond.  Amazingly, no water came inside out home, and we were safe.


Destructive Funnel Cloud
When I was about sis years-old, we lived in a small southern Georgia town named Sumner. While living there, there was a tornado that ripped through the nearby town of Sylvester, that actually ripped grave markers out of the cemetery of one of the churches, and did extensive damage to the church building, as well. 

There was another one that came right into our area, on our road, actually. It ripped a huge oak tree right out of the ground on our next-door neighbor's property. When the tree fell, thankfully, it just missed their home, just knocking about three or four bricks from the chimney, and crushing two rocking chairs that had been sucked off their front porch. It was just amazing that they and their home were intact.

Well, that's my personal experience with various natural disasters. There have been more things, but they would not be considered as coming from nature.