Earl

Earl is a distant cousin on my father’s side. He has had a long run of entrepreneurial escapades. Most of them are catastrophic failures. But there have been a few successes which provide seed money for the next round.

About four years ago, he got into construction to make ends meet. It’s been awhile since he sold the chain of Gentleman’s Clubs ™ and he’s run through the money he made there. Well, he said a pretty little lady drove by the work site one day and asked for help with a ‘tiny house’. Earl figured she meant a doll house and agreed to help. He couldn’t figure why a dollhouse needed a sink plunged, but what the heck, she was paying cash. He wasn’t entirely certain that wasn’t a euphemism for something else (ahem). Anyway, he followed her out to a half acre lot with her tiny house or camper with siding as he described it. They got to talking and he learned she paid sixty thousand dollars for this place that was maybe 200 square feet, not including the land.

And that got his gears churning. He had an old single wide just sitting there on the back of his property that he used to go sleep in when he and his wife Suzanne are in a snit. He ‘borrowed’ some lumber from the job site and went home. He worked into the wee hours and by day break, he had three tiny house shells. Earl visited every junk yard in a fifty mile radius picking up plumbing systems and cabinets from RVs. He bought remnants of carpeting and liberated left over tile and granite from the work site of his day job.

They didn’t sell for more than a month. Suzanne took over the marketing, called them ‘bespoke’, and they were gone by the end of the week. Earl took his garden shed, fitted it with a loft for sleeping and a handmade spiral staircase. He put in the basics of a kitchen and bathroom. Suzanne called that one ‘quirky’. It was sold by the end of the next day.

Now he’s made a business of buying up single wides and garden sheds and converting them into tiny houses. Suzanne just slaps on the labels of reclaimed, artisanal, unique, handmade, and hand-curated. They sell like no decent thing should. He’s even had to get warehouse space and a workforce. This is usually the point at which he’d sell the business and disappear for weeks, but he says he’s having too much fun.

Fishing for iron

Fishing with magnets for lures is, apparently, a thing that people do. Now this doesn’t work for fish, except hammerheads and saw fish….

These are the jokes people.

So, you get a really strong magnet, tie it to the end of the rope and cast your line out into a body of water and see what you can reel in. People have caught shopping carts, bikes, and metal folding chairs: your standard junk. But it does get more interesting. Other catches have included safes, motorbikes, a novelty suit of armor, and firearms.

I’m thinking maybe don’t magnet fish in places with a strong organized crime element. Poor Joe. He went magnet fishing and hauled up a 20 year old gun that implicates current Mob Boss in a murder he committed while he was just a junior guy in the org.

What if someone accidentally snags a SCUBA diver? I wonder. The tanks are steel, aren’t they? But then, they’re round and the magnet would have less surface area to work with. It’s amusing to consider, at first. Just swimming along, looking at the coral and then BAM! You’re being hauled backwards by an unseen force.

Then, it gets less amusing. You’ve got decompression issues. And a diver is probably going to get a shot of adrenaline and start breathing fast. Then, you’ve got air supply issues.

Has anyone tried this while ice fishing? But the holes for ice fishing are usually small. So, it’s probably not worth it.

Song lyrics

I think it was Robin Williams’ character in Dead Poet’s Society who said that language was invented to woo women.

I listen to the popular music occasionally while shopping or riding in my car. I can’t say I’m impressed by the lyrics. If “I’m in love with your body” is any indication of the state of the culture, we’re in trouble. A new to me song on the radio this week featured a chorus of “I want to do you on the backseat of my car”. Really? Granted, I know the male mind is plumbed in this direction.

Listening to the song, I question if those lines have ever succeeded in fulfilling their libidinal goals. “Really? You love my body?? Take me now.”

Has that ever happened? I have to think that it has. Otherwise, why put it in a song? I’d like to just blame alcohol. But I think it’s worse than an ethanol induced seduction. There are women who are so sincerely unaware of their worth that even the most base compliment will get her to lift her skirt.

When I was a teen “The Rules” had just hit the shelves. It was rules for dating. I didn’t agree with all of them, but the point was to not get so wrapped up in a guy that he was your everything. You don’t wait by the phone for hours hoping he’ll call (obviously before cell phones were omnipresent). You have a life. If he calls, great. If not, you’ve spent your time productively. The point was to be your own person, to develop, and to find the guy that thought you were awesome enough to pursue.

What, pray tell, are the rules now? Don’t answer on the first ring? No nudes until the third texting session? Wait, don’t answer that. I really don’t want to know.

Achievement Unlocked

I’m an author now. As in, I have stuff published. For reals. And you can buy it. Two of my short stories got published in two different anthologies.

First up, is an anthology that benefits a possibly haunted library. The theme for the anthology is… Haunted Libraries. Both volumes are bound to be good. But, if you especially want to read my contribution, check out Volume 2. All proceeds to benefit the Tom Burnett Memorial Library in Iowa Park, Texas.

And then, for something completely different. Or maybe not. There’s a decent chance there’s a ghost or three in the next offering too. The first volume trended toward historical fiction with elements of fantasy.

I think the story that goes along with this anthology series is a hoot. I’ve been a longtime reader of Lawdog’s blog the Lawdog Files (https://thelawdogfiles.com/). Well, he was telling some folks in the writing group about Malta and the amazing history it has. And his enthusiasm is a might bit infectious. So, the instigator in the group dared him to put out a call for short stories for an anthology. He did, thinking there wasn’t enough interest for one anthology. And Lawdog was right. There was enough for two, possibly three. The second volume dropped this week and I am pleased as punch to be among those authors published.

Being acquainted with some of the authors, I’ve read snippets and whole stories from all three of these books. You’re in for a treat whichever you happen to choose.

Cheers,
Tuvela Thomas

Manscaping

Just saw an ad for a manscaping kit for intimate areas. “It’s a great gift for the man in your life: Husband, Son, or Boyfriend!”

Screech!!! Whoa, whoa, whoa. Back that truck up.

Your son. Your son? Who gives their son a manscaping kit? This presumes that you know how your grown son keeps his parts. I do not need to know that and no parent does.

Maybe some parents would buy this as a gag gift, but for any other purpose… Hurk!

Venting

The kids went back to school last week.

It seems Constance’s social studies teacher decided to drop a snide remark about a major world religion in the first couple days of school. So, we’re off to a smashing start.

How the hell do you get a job at an international school when you have the cultural awareness of a slug? It’s a decent bet that at least a few of his student belong to that particular religion, especially since the local students are at least nominally members of said religion that got dissed. So those students know right off that their teacher is NOT on their side.

Social studies in 6th grade is supposed to let kids debate a bit. But if the teacher can’t hide his bias for longer than 48 hours, I severely doubt he’ll be a fair moderator. And the more I think about it, the more pissed I am.

Teachers these days are getting churned out of college thinking they know every damned thing. They’re so full of themselves and their dogma! Teach the kids to read and write. Teach them to spell and write cursive. And the more I think about it, the more I think this bullshit nonsense needs to be nipped. I’m usually diplomatic in my approach on this sort of thing, but this may not be Mr. Teacher’s day. He may see the bitch smiling sweetly as she poses questions such as:

“How do you plan to recover your credibility with your students after you torpedoed a major world religion???” *Bats eyelashes*.

“Bless your heart, your mama never taught you manners, did she?”

“How can your students – who follow said religion – trust you to be intellectually fair and honest?”

And that’s if I’m feeling nice.

Traveling and other business

It’s been a busy summer to say the least. We kicked off by traveling, of course. We went to a resort in Antalya, Turkey. After all of our adventurous traveling, it was lovely to sit by a pool and read or sit by the beach and watch the waves roll in. Joy, Constance, and Nerdling had a good time. They especially enjoyed riding the “Crazy Shark”. This was a raft pulled behind a speed boat. All five of us fit on. And it did get crazy. We hit a combo of a wake and an incoming wave and the raft bounced a good five feet above the surface of the water. Shockingly, no one fell off the raft.

I also started a new job this summer with more consistent hours than what I’ve been doing since fall. It’s ideal, really. I’ll be doing office management stuff for 30 hours a week. Now that’s not exactly my preferred career path, but it’s work that I can do fairly happily. It also allows me to build up something of a resume and references. I haven’t worked outside of the home (for $) in well over ten years. It’s been a blessing that I’ve been able to be home with the kids, but with some of our future plans, it’s best if I’m working again.

Open War

Open war is upon you, whether you would risk it or not.” -Aragorn, The Two Towers

I’m seeing some things on social media which bother me. Lots of things, actually. But to be specific, it’s about school shootings and what our response should be. There are teachers who are appalled at the idea that they or their colleagues might carry firearms on campus. Now, I would never support forcing anyone to carry. That would be stupid. Not everyone has the skill set or disposition to use one safely and effectively.

Many moons ago, I lived by myself in a cheap apartment near Dallas. I was chilling out, watching TV after a long day of driving. And something made me turn and look out the sliding glass door. In the gathering dark, I could see a man peering in at me. I slid off the couch, grabbed my phone and dialed 9-1-1. The nearest weapon was a fireplace poker. And I’ve got to tell you, if you’ve never had a tense moment like that, time stretches. You can do a lot of thinking in the minutes that follow.

If it came down to a fight, I’m not useless. I could give an attacker quite a lot of trouble. But, even with a couple extra feet of reach that poker would give, I’d have to be awful close to the bad guy. As I stood there, phone in one hand, poker in the other, I realized something. I never want someone with an unknown ill intent to get that close to me.

I didn’t ask for a prowler to lurk outside my apartment. The question that must be answered in such moments is “How will you respond to this threat”. What skills do you have to counter it? If Uvalde has taught us anything, it’s that we can’t count on the police to respond decisively.

So, you’re in your classroom and hear gun shots and they’re close. How do you answer that threat? Are you going to shelter in place waiting for the police to come and help. Uvalde waited an hour. An hour for a shooter to openly roam the halls is an eternity. Literally, for some. It’s a long time to watch as your students bleed out. Are you going to be a sitting duck? Or are you going to do something about it? That’s a decision you have to make NOW. Because if you wait for that moment, it’s too late.

If a teacher decides they can’t carry for some reason, that’s understandable. If that is their choice, then they need to take some first aid courses. And I don’t mean how to treat a second-degree burn or scrapes. How do you deal with a sucking chest wound? How do you properly apply a tourniquet? Those skills are needed, too.

Teachers, war may come to your classroom. You didn’t ask for it anymore than I asked for a peeping Tom. As long as schools are seen as easy pickings, there will be more of this. If you want it to stop, make it known your school is ready to respond.

Caves

Agilitis Cave in Greece

We’ve gotten into the habit of touring caves with the family when we travel. Everyone is so different from the others. I especially liked this one in Greece. You don’t usually see a stream running through the cave. Ponds and puddles, I’ve seen plenty of those. And we were the only people on the tour for this particular cave. On a lark, I started singing as we walked. The tour guide looked back and said “Wait”. I looked at him quizzically and we carried on. We came out into a large chamber, “The sound is better here. You sing now.”

“I Wonder as I Wander” has a haunting melody in a minor key. Singing that in a cave with the echoing sound coming back from the side tunnels gave me chills. I wish we’d had good recording equipment for that. Singing in caves: highly recommend.

The Brain and the Magpies

There are lots of little birds in this neighborhood. I’ve been trying to learn about the kinds of birds we have here. There are a LOT of doves. I’d call them ring-necks but, google says they don’t live here. It’s some other variety that looks almost exactly the same. They say ‘Hoo HOO hu’ all the time. I used to think that was an owl I was hearing. After sitting outside several evenings, I know better.

We have another sort of bird. I haven’t gotten an ID on them, yet. They’re small and round. And they like to sit in one of our shrubs and gab over seeds. They frighten easily, so I’ve not even got a good look at one.

There is also a pair of Magpies in the backyard. They like to tease the Brain when he slips outside. I can tell when the game is afoot from their cackling. They land near him and cackle loudly. They know they’re faster to get in the air than he can turn and snag them. At least, they hope they’re faster. The Brain is getting on in years, but I think he’s a bit sneaky. I can see it in his posture when they’re teasing him. He’s measuring the distance, gauging just how quickly he could snag one of them. He’s hoping that one of these days they will get cocky and he will be waiting. I may hear “cackle,cackle,cackle, SQUAWK”.

I hope he doesn’t catch one. It’s fun to watch them entertain each other.