This is one of those times when I feel led to interrupt my current story for a couple of posts, just to keep you up to date on current events. I will finish telling you about Norway and Denmark a little later. I am hoping I can talk Barbara into posting some of her totally beautiful Norway pics then. She can do it, but I could just never do something like that. This computer generation just mostly passed me by, except for just what I have to be able to do to blog and write my stories. Hope you don't mind this interruption. Thanks for your time, and your attention. Oh, I almost forgot. I told another of my stories at Tales from the South, in Little Rock Tuesday night. It went well, at least they laughed an awful lot. But I couldn't tell for sure when they were laughing with me about the story, and when they were laughing at me, about my hillbilly talk in general. I told about my city cousin, Mike, and I protecting our corn patch from the raccoons and the crows, as twelve year olds, in 1956. One lady even came up and asked me for my autograph. Now THAT fired me up for a while. It will come out on National Public Radio in a few weeks. I'll keep you posted about when.
I went to Wing to see my oldest brother Harold this week. Harold is 82. He's getting around pretty slow, as he has for some time. He survived a ruptured aneurysm in his brain a lot of years ago while fighting the Yellowstone Fire, but survive it he did, partly because he was so big and strong, the doc said. It was an eight hour operation, and he had to be cooled down to stone cold, stop his heart to empty that blood vessel. Then a lady surgeon had to reach those tiny, slim fingers into the brain stem and clamp that now empty blood vessel. Then his heart was started again. When he woke up, I shook his hand, which was still stone cold, and headed to Arkansas. I was not needed there. His wife Lou was on guard. Lou was a powerful force in that Intensive Care Waiting Room. Just the kind of person one needs, looking over them, when they are at death's door. That started slowing him some, but fortunately, his brain is as sharp as it ever was. Harold has said for the last 25 years or so that he would love to meet someone who is also a survivor of that same kind of operation, so he could compare notes. But so far, he hasn't found anyone.
Harold always keeps a project going, though, and he thinks through each step very carefully. This time, the project was to get rid of a very `intellectual pest. Harold's house has a small room off the porch where the cat's sleep. But it had been invaded by some sort of mysterious animal, which continues to eat up all their cat food. He expelled the cats for the duration of this project, and comes up with one idea after another for catching this unwelcome visitor. The room has access to the house underneath area, but closed off from the outside.
The first idea was to put out his homemade armadillo box trap, with lots of cat food as bait. The next morning, the bait was all gone, but the trap was not thrown. Seeing this was not going to work, Harold got a wire box trap from Walmart. The next morning, all the bait was gone, the trap was thrown, but no animal inside. There had been enough cat food inside these traps to feed an army, and every bit of it was always gone. This is where I came into the picture. We discussed this problem in great detail, for a good part of the day..
Since the animal had already defeated the two traps designed for relatively large animals, such as a stray cat, coon, or possum, we determined it must be smaller. And since it carried off tons of food, we decided it was carrying it off and hiding it. We put our heads together and came up with the logical solution, a pack rat! Once we agreed on this, we spent the rest of the day on strategy.
We got a rat trap, just a glorified wood and wire mouse trap, but much larger. We discussed bait. I recommended a chunk of cheese, as it would be harder to get it off the trap without throwing it. Harold wanted to stick some pieces of cat food around on the cheese, as this animal had already shown an affinity to cat food. I tried to convince Harold that everybody, and everything, just loves cheese, and a good round chunk of it, alone, would be sufficient. He finally gave in. We set the trap right beside the two useless traps already there, topped by a really nice chunk of ripe cheese. Harold suggested we had to tie that trap down, because that animal might get a leg or something caught, and drag his only rat trap off. I said the trap didn't need that, because once a rat was securely in it, it was going nowhere anyway. We debated this for a good part of the afternoon, and by sundown, Harold had won out. It was his trap, and his house.
Big Dan, Harold's youngest son, was there, temporarily recovering from some medical issues, and he was not to be left out of this discussion. Dan allowed as how, in case it didn't get caught, it might circle the trap a time or two, to inspect the cheese, and we should sprinkle flour on the floor in the whole area, and that way, we might at least see a track or two, and get some idea about what we were up against. We discussed the merits and shortcomings of this idea, we each had our say, but in the end, nobody came up with a good reason why we should not do that, so we did.
As bed time approached, we were all anxious to see what the morning would bring. I wanted to peek in on the situation at bed time, but Harold said leave it alone. This animal never stirred before midnight, he said.
Now, I didn't really understand how Harold knew that, as he is always asleep by eight o'clock. But, I didn't mention that, because I knew it would only trigger a new round of discussions on that point, and we were all pretty well worn out from debating all day, as it was..
Big Dan has had a wild and adventure filled life. But Big Dan has now found the Lord, and was anxious to talk about it. He and I probably talked more that night at Harold's than we had ever talked before in our lives.
I lived for a time with Big Dan, in the Gas Fields of Western Oklahoma. I was working one summer on a large gas well, and Big Dan roared up one day on his Harley, and easily got a job there, when the boss saw how big and strong he was. He made my life there a lot easier. The other Roughnecks stopped throwing large chunks of iron off the tower at me, just to see how well I could dodge, once Big Dan was on the scene. And life was sure a lot simpler in that roughneck town, also, hanging out with Big Dan. He was just a skinny kid then, about 270 pounds or so. Nobody messed with Big Dan.
When I headed for bed that night at Harold's, I turned and held Dan's eye for a moment across the room. “I'm proud of you, Dan. You're a good man.” Dan flashed a smile. “Thanks, Uncle Pat. You've ALWAY'S been a good man.” That was a good exchange to end that visit on. I slept well.. Continued