Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Neighbor-Hoods

Sometime ago evil FEMA said the magic words and this happy kingdom by the pond was suddenly plunged in the long dark of the "100 year flood plain".

Biblical darkness, that is. Homes not selling. Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies. Rivers and seas boiling. Years of darkness. The dead rising from the grave. Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together - mass hysteria.

FEMA was here to help. Emboldened by the Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973, (part of US Code TITLE 42 CHAPTER 50 Sec. 4001 ), they sent around notes requiring Homeowner's Association members to pick up flood insurance. It's the law. Those homes noted by a survey or mortgage lender to be in the "100 year flood plain" require flood insurance for their mortgage.

Hrothgar's other shoeless hillbilly cousin took FEMA to task over the declaration. He said that FEMA was wrong. He said that FEMA couldn't come down here with their skinny pointed lizard shoes and big city ways and push us good folk around with their weird science, polysyllabic silly speak and extra-crispy legalisms. No, by God, he hired surveyors, engineers and wild-haired witch doctors from the church for the mediocre to come out and prove them government boys wrong.

So they set up the equipment, blocked off traffic, had some KFC and a few beers, then got out the magic chicken bones and chanted. Directly the ground began shake, the ducks bolted from pond, and eerie voices came from from beyond the veil. Then Joe Ed Twitty grabbed up something big and purple and labelled "ATOMIC" from the magic toolkit. "Hey, y'all, watch this," He said. Everyone jumped down and hugged the ground. There was a terrible clap of thunder and blobs of spectral energies rained down like biscuits out of Baptists. In no time at all, the whole durn place was knee deep in that kind of Inevitability that only comes from watching a tornado twisting through the prairie with your back to a trailer park.

Then the FEMA man drove up with bonafide FEMA maps now showing that all of our Association homes are outside of the 100 year flood plain. Woo hoo! Mighty Hrothgar's battle with FEMA is over, and victory is ours. This is the official communique from Hrothgar Triumphant:

All our Association homes are outside the 100 year flood plain. This means no one is required by their lenders to have the expensive flood insurance. However, most people located near creeks, streams, rivers or near areas with water back-up should probably buy flood insurance at the discounted rate which is outside the 100 year flood zone. My 101 class at the State Water Resourses Board revealed that 30 % of flood claims occur in the 500 year flood zone with 70% falling within the 100 year zone. The maximum annual premium is just a little over $300 at my brothers' agency just off of Main Street down by the railroad tracks.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Titus the Armadillo

Had a rude surprise in the lawn today. Appearently the armadillo that has created "An Impression of the Surface of the Moon" in my neighbor's back yard has decided to begin excavating around my house. He dug this nifty patch out of the grass by the trusty gas grill in the east-facing back yard. He dug in the flower bed in the west-facing front yard. He dug an east-west trench under the gate in the fence. He dug a north-to-south tunnel connecting my neighbor's cratered back yard to mine. Lastly he dug a passageway under the south fence to escape into the greenest lawn in the Association.

How to handle a rogue armadillo? This is a red state so the consensus around the water cooler was - by gun. As exciting as turning the backyard into the OK Corral sounds, it'd be a shame to get planted in Norman's I O O F Cemetery with this on my headstone . . .

Here lays AtomicZebra7,
We planted him raw.
He was quick on the trigger,
But slow on the draw.

Someone suggested killing the rogue armadillo with an arrow. Unlike the Canada geese down at the pond, I don't think the arrow would actually go through an armadillo's armored hide. That narrowed the advice down to getting a German Shepherd from the pound, or ...

This catch and release live trap was recommended at the Atwood's. Appearently all you have to do is arm the thing, put in the path of mighty Titus the Armadillo, and bada-bing!
We'll see.

The last bud of the season

Well, winter finally came. The pond is full and the ducks are happy (although I have no idea why their feathered butts don't freeze in that water). The old rose on the northeast corner of the house popped one last bud before winter. Here it is. The day after this picture was taken was our first frost of the season so this bud never got to bloom outside. It's doing nicely in a vase on the dining table.

For some odd reason ... farm geese have decided to move to our pond. In years past it didn't matter so much because just one would appear in Spring and then magically disappear around Thanksgiving. This year four appeared after the Invasion of the Canada Geese. The four farm geese drove off the wicked Canadians so every tolerated their honking and territorial displays. Sometime around Labor Day, another farm goose magically appeared. Before there were two matched couples - 2 odd wobbling poofs and 2 uberdominant, human-hating bitch birds. The newest arrival was a strutting, old school gander who famously would mount (and remount, rinse, repeat) the females on the sidewalk in front of the Pony Ride during the neighborhood Fall Picnic celebration. When the scandal reached the Homeowner's Association Newsletter, no one claimed ownership of the fowl, so the Association kept feeding them along with all the other critters who call the Pond their home.
Thanksgiving Day (or, Judgement Day for those who cover their buttocks with feathers) came and went quietly enough at the Pond. All of the farm geese are still alive and kicking although I have no idea how much longer. MSNBC sez "Roast goose makes Christmas dinner special" ...

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

One in every crowd

Took this photo near Corning, New York last week.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

A visit to Cincinnati

Last week I went on a work related trip to Cincinnati, Ohio. There's a lot to see and do in Cincinnati, and naturally, I didn't have the free time to do much of anything really. I did have a good time with what little there was though.

I arrived at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky airport at night in a driving rain storm. Finally got my luggage and picked up the rent car. The airport is not only out of town, it's out of state. So a drive was required to cross the Ohio River and pass through to Sharonville on the north side of Cincy.

When you crest the last hill in Kentucky on the interstate, Cincinnati shines like a golden city across the river below. It's a magnificent view. I can only imagine what it was like looking at that same view in the time leading up to the Civil War. Kentucky was a slave state and Ohio was a free state. The area was a part of the Underground Railroad and was home to Harriet Beecher Stowe.

We don't have White Castle in Oklahoma for some reason, so I made the mandatory visit. This one was right off the interstate just past downtown. There was only one employee on duty at the time, and he was working the drive-through lane. See the cars queued up below. After a few minutes of waiting, all of the other employees and the manager came in from a break, and ignored me and the other customers waiting in line. I eventually got four sliders, some fries and a drink.

The next day was a work day. Here's Gary with a tie. He had just taken a photo of me with my tie. There's C.L. from S.C. on the left.

It was Wednesday and the Cincinnati Art Museum had special hours, so I went over for a visit. They are open until 9:00 pm on Wednesdays and there were lots of people there. The admission was free. I wanted to see the two John Singer Sargent paintings in the collection.

'A Venetian Woman' is HUGE. She's life size and there's plenty of canvas above her head and below her feet. The dimensions are 93 3/4 in. x 52 1/2 in. (238.1 x 133.4 cm). It was painted in 1882. The artist was 26 when he finished this painting. Sargent's career would explode two years later when he exhibited the scandalous 'Madame X' at the Salon of 1884.

Sargent painted 'Two Girls Fishing' in 1912. It's much smaller [22 x 28 1/4 in. (55.9 x 71.8 cm)]. See how effortless and natural the work appears. Sargent worked to develop his skill and improved as he got older.

I've heard that Cincinnati is famous for its unique culinary delicacies, one of which is 'Cincinnati chili'. So after another work day, I stopped in at a Skyline Chili across the street from the Ford plant in Sharonville. This is their interpretation of a chili cheese fries. Marks for the presentation: shocking, splattered, and skidmarks. Marks for the taste: well ...

After having tried some of Cincinnati's best ... whew ... let me recommend a dish of chili cheese fries from that jumping little juke joint in Stillwater, Oklahoma - Eskimo Joes. For the straight up best chili cheese fries on the planet, you can't beat Eskimo Joes.

After all the work was finally done, I had a choice. I wait several hours to come home either in Atlanta, Georgia, or in Salt Lake City, Utah. I choose Atlanta because it is a much more fun place, even if you are stuck in the airport. I found this little bit of New York City in Terminal D. On the television to my right, they were running an advertisement for 'Gone With The Wind' on one of the cable channels.
The irony was so delicious, I went back for seconds.