Sunday, September 17, 2017

The Good, Bad and Ugly of Returning Home to East Texas

     An IRS tax due notice was waiting for me in East Texas with a reply due date of last week! Good reason to hurry through New Mexico and Texas' Guadalupe Mountains National Park on my way home. Took this photo while driving . . . . see how clean my window looks? Hold that thought.

     Enroute home I took a short cut on a 10-mile gravel road, driving less than 15 mph, headed toward East Texas. A nearby farmer on a tractor gave me a huge smile and wave. Probably hadn't seen a visitor on his road (below photo) for a long while. Even the cows stopped eating grass and stared at me. Overheard one cow say to the others "Mable, Bessie, looky here! a visitor!"

     Closer to the southeast corridor of Texas, I realized the semi-annual "lovebug fest" was in full force. This is one reason I rarely return to East Texas before October 1 each year (below photo is interior shot of windshield).

     An hour later, my windshield was really ugly (below photo is exterior shot). Stopped at a gas station to wash the window but if you're familiar with lovebugs, you know a mere wash won't work. A solvent foam (let it soak overnight) and a pressure washer are the only things that will work.

     Had to drive the last 20 miles home with my face six inches away from the least obscured part of the windshield.

     My neighbor Chef Jim welcomed me home with a fantastic steak and shrimp dinner. And my sister reminded me to check for snakes which are displaced and seem to move near homes following a major rain storm (my place is near a ravine, had more than 12" of rain from Hurricane Harvey). I made this sign a couple decades ago to warn visitors to keep a watchful eye on my undesirable neighbors.

     Yes I kill snakes, mostly copperheads, that slither onto my property. In the woods, I leave them be. So I dusted off my BB gun which I keep handy inside the front door and did a practice shot. I used it just last April when there was a long patterned snake on my front doorstep (blurry photo below of that snake). I shot it a bit later as it quickly escaped along my concrete foundation under the leaves. I always laugh when folks tell me I should first check the snake's head to figure out whether it's diamond shaped, has pits under its nostrils or has a forked tongue to determine whether it's poisonous or not. Yeah, right, I've never met a snake that looks directly at me in open territory so I can figure out whether or not to shoot. Those folks don't live in the Piney Woods of East Texas.

     See my first practice BB shot from 40 feet away (photo below)? An inch away from the bulls-eye.

     By the way, I never owned a gun until I moved to Texas. When I noticed there's lots of snakes in East Texas that slither onto my property, I went to Walmart about 25 years ago and asked the gun clerk to show me one of their BB guns. She asked me, "How old is the child you're buying the gun for?" And I nonchalantly replied, "Forty-one".
     So far, no snakes. But there are critters that have taken over my place. A few friendly mud-daubbers built their pretty tubal nests on a bird-box at my front door (had stuffed the hole with paper to deter nasty red wasps a few years ago).

And this critter has been waddling under my deck daily.

     Below is a better look at the armored beauty (but with few brains and poor eyesight). Marty Stauffer once said on his TV show Wild America, "If ignorance is bliss, then the armadillo is in ecstasy." 

     It was also good to see good friends Sally and Boyce again. They take care of Topaz for me. Sally was anxious to ride Boyce's new horse in a more challenging environment so she loaded my horse Topaz (white Arabian on left) and Reba (chestnut Missouri Fox Trotter on right) and trailered them near my place. Sally is trying something new, a red bug-collar, works similar to bug-collars for cats and dogs.

     The reason she wanted to ride Reba was to "test" whether Reba would take advantage of Boyce's good nature. Hubby Boyce is a major softy and some horses (and people) take advantage of his loving good nature.

     Topy was in good form and we had an enjoyable ride. See her ears in photo below? She's paying attention; that's what I love about her, despite being 26 years old, she's always alert, eager and willing to go and explore. 

     Although it was a good ride, it was too hot! Almost 90 degrees when we quit with 90 percent humidity. The sweat on Topy made her white hair look gray!

      Sally finished her ride with a couple little scratches on her cheek. There's a pretty curvy woodsy single-file path that begs for a fast-paced trot. I don't even have to encourage Topy, she trots fast on her own. And if you don't duck low or fast enough on a horse that's zig-zagging on that pretty woodsy path, tree twigs hit your face, arms, legs, etc.

Whew-hoo!! Love it! I've had my share of scratches too :)

     And waiting for me at home was a USPS priority box from mon ami Chef Renauld de Montana, a huckleberry cheesecake made with Montana wild huckleberries, peaches and Amaretto! He makes his wonderfully unique cheesecakes with very little sugar so there's zero-guilt on my part :)

Yes, good to be home despite the bad (IRS) and the ugly (lovebugs).

PS: Update October 31, the IRS reviewed my submitted info and agree I owe no additional taxes, yeehaw! :)


  1. It was fun reading your recent post !!!! Love your stories/adventures !!

  2. Looks like you significantly reduced the lovebug population in Texas! or, NOT!

    1. I pity all the truckers :( they have more square footage to clean daily.