Sunday, May 19, 2019

On Wisconsin!

A very long time ago, back in the 80's in fact, I was comfortably ensconced in my bed in the middle of the night. I was living off base with a young lady who was also a sailor (known in those evil days as a WAVE or even (shudder!) a sailorette) and stationed at Oceana. I had the SAR duty and my pager went off.

Those old Motorola pagers made you look and feel cool. You clipped it on your belt and everyone you encountered noticed that you were wearing a pager and were therefore really cool and engaged in very, very important work.

When the damme thing went off in the middle of the night, however, it wasn't all that cool. The pager would emit a series of piercing beeps and then give forth a voice message. In our case the message was something like, "SAR ROLLOUT, SAR ROLLOUT, SAR ROLLOUT!"

Cool or not, when the pager went off that night I was out of bed, into flight suit and boots, and out the door in about a minute. In those days I was a rude bastard, which I suppose hasn't really changed. When the pager tones sounded my entire being instantly focused on the mission, leaving exactly zero part of me invested in exchanging pleasantries or reassurances with the girl sharing my bed. In today's vernacular we shared a domestic relationship, but I wasn't exactly domesticated.

Four minutes after leaving the house I screeched to a halt and hopped out of my car, leaving it illegally parked next to the guard shack. I left the keys in it, knowing that the duty section would park it for me. From the guard shack it was a 50-yard sprint to the SAR hangar.

For some reason that's a memory that sticks in my head, the pager going off and my extremely rude but adrenaline-fueled dash to the hangar. I don't have any recollection of the mission. I know we fired up and flew but I don't recall any details.


Flash forward some 35 years or so. It's zero dark thirty and I'm sound asleep. My phone, set to vibrate, goes off. I can hear the thing rattling on the bedside table better than I can hear any of the ringtones. I snap instantly awake and answer before the first vibration stops. It's Mom. Considering the time and my Dad's health, there's no possibility the call can be good news. It's either something bad or something really bad.

"Dad's on the floor and I can't get him up."

"I'll be right there."

Even after half a lifetime I can go from dead stop to full ahead more or less instantaneously. I still leave my clothes and shoes pre-positioned for quick donning. I've no one to rudely ignore. Do the math.

The distance I need to travel is just over four miles, about half the distance between my former abode and the SAR hangar. The travel time is about the same.

Dad's on the floor next to the bed. He was trying to get out of bed and slipped to the floor while reaching for his walker. He's okay and uninjured, but he can't get himself up. There's of course no way at all my Mom can get him up, he's easily twice her size. And she's no spring chicken.

I'm no spring chicken either, but I'm big and strong and I've got years of experience behind me. It takes a lot of strength and proper technique to dead lift a 250 pound human who can't provide any help or apply any strength to the endeavor. I've got both the strength and technique, and within only a few seconds Dad is safely back in bed. He's exhausted by the ordeal, and I sense that his condition and helplessness are very hard for him to bear. I wish I could make that better, but I can't. Life is full of hard stuff, and it doesn't magically become easy stuff just because you don't like it hard.

Back home again the night is pretty well shot. I read for a few hours, then fall into a restless slumber as the sky begins to lighten in the east and as I wait for the phone to vibrate again. It almost certainly won't (and it doesn't), but it might.


Following five days of cool, damp weather, including an inch of snow, we had a week of beautiful springtime weather here in the southwest corner of the Nebraska Panhandle.

About time, too! Spring has been a bit slower to warm up this year than usual; you have to go away back to 1979 to find a similarly cool spring.

Extended longing for warm morning sunshine and leaving the windows open overnight makes the nice weather feel even better, and there are very few things that feel as good as a beautiful spring morning.

Now I just need to get the garden planted. That'll hasten the arrival of a last snowstorm or two, and then it'll really be spring!

On May 17 a slow moving weather front brought more cool and damp as well as some evening thunderstorms. Two-hundred miles to the east in Cozad, Nebraska, where my brother lives, nature threw down some tornadoes. As far as I know, no one was hurt and there was little if any property damage.

As an aside, I'll just point out that Cozad was in the area of all-time-horrific-catastrophic-death-flooding recently. You may recall that for about 36 hours the media reported said flooding as sensationally as possible. Many, many witnesses and experts and countless reporters and news anchors did their best to make the world understand that nothing so horrible had ever happened before.

Then (as always) the reports shifted to the next horrible, never-before-been-seen harbinger of the end of the world. By the end of that 36-hour period, the all-time-horrific-catastrophic-death-flooding had been completely forgotten. The media never told you that within a day and a half the flood waters had gone. You never heard about the farmers who planted fields, the cows that had calves and grazed springtime grass. No one mentioned that Insurance companies adjusted and contractors and construction crews worked. The mess was cleaned up in short order, and while that was happening, everyone kept on keepin' on, living life just as they had before things got wet for a few days. The forever hole of death and destruction is nowhere to be found. It never existed.

Yesterday there were reports about the all-time-horrific-catastrophic-death-tornadoes in south-central Nebraska and north-central Kansas.

Do the math.

(Remember, I did warn you that I'm a rude bastard.)


Ever had one of those days? Looks like he was first caught by the tail, then ran headfirst into a second trap. Daisy chain ambush. Sometimes panicked flight is a bad choice.

The mouse was collected in my Mom's car. The mice simply invaded, making their way inside via the cabin air supply. The car smelled rank and putrid, and when I turned on the sir conditioning dog food shot out of the vents. There was a whole bleedin' commune living in there. Wednesday I took the car to Scottsbluff where Maintenance tore down the Environmental Control System, evicted the mice, replaced destroyed wiring and ducting, and ordered a new glove box.

I took the car home and detail cleaned it, which was a lot of work but well worth the effort. On Wednesday I'll go back and have Maintenance install a new glove box. In the meantime, Mom has given the cats run of the garage and they've slaughtered at least three mice so far. Perhaps we've got a solution in progress.


Today while I was doing Dad's abdominal drain Mom went for a pasture walk. She walks most days and she can hike with the best. She's got a stout walking stick and good hiking boots, a cell phone with a hiking app, and three dogs that love to hike along with her.

When she returned from her journey she was bubbling over with excitement, having discovered both a badger and a bull snake. Dad was doing fine and back in his chair, so it didn't take much prompting to convince me to go with her and see if we could find and photograph the Snake and badger.

The snake had vanished, but the badger was still there!

All in all a nice day. Weather forecast calls for a few days of rain and cool temps with a possibility of snow Tuesday evening. Springtime in Nebraska.


  1. Pagers. My first one took two D Cell batteries.

  2. Never had a pager, not sure they had been invented yet when the Cowman and I were first married. He was a type 1 diabetic and often had bad reactions in the middle of the night. I learned to sleep with one hand on him, and a slight change in his body temp or something would wake me out of a sound sleep so I could take care of him.

    Can hardly wait to see what Scott has to say about you tease'n that badger...

    1. The middle-of-the-night stuff is always challenging.

      I'm thinking the same thing re Scott!

  3. Those are deer mouses! They are extremely evil carriers of all sorts of diseases. I have trapped about a dozen of them in the last 7 months. I use the same type of traps you do, that is a VERY good trap! I wish the cats good hunting!

    Since you seem to have thrown a orbital sander sheet backing paper at the Badger, I take it you caught him outside his burrow, doing some woodworking?

    1. Nasty, stinky, verminous, vermins!

      He'd dug a 13-lined ground squirrel out of his burrow and was just finishing his snack. And that was actually a whiffle ball that Nona rediscovered after losing it a couple of years ago.

  4. You're luck he didn't come at you with his Sawzall!

    1. I am indeed. Made me nervous. Those badgers have a rep...

  5. You should take him some of those mouses as a treat!

    1. If I didn't think he'd rip my face off I'd take him home, name him Fred, and let him live in the garage in return for eating all the mouses he wants.

  6. We had a fair amount of rain yesterday and last night, so you should see it by Thursday, or so.

    Happy to read that your parents are as well as they are. I understand about your father's inability to get up of the floor, I'm real close to being there myself. My best wishes to everyone.

    Thanks for the post.
    Paul L. Quandt

    P.S.: You always seem to sneak a post in when I don't check in; so I guess I need to swing by every day, several times a day.

    1. I snuck (okay, sneaked) a new one in just for you Paul.

      We got the rain as snow overnight and this morning. Spring. Whatchagonnado?

      Thanks for the kind thoughts.