Thursday, July 12, 2018

More Mower

It has been a wetter than normal year so far here at the shallow northern end of deep southern nowhere and the vegetation growth across the breadth of the Colonel's vast holdings has been a small percentage of nitrate short of explosive.

The Colonel and his child bride -- the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda -- spend an inordinate amount of their retired time maintaining scores of acres of the Colonel's vast holdings in a state of manicured perfection the likes of which won "Yard of the Month" several times when they were stationed at Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island.  

The yard at Parris Island was less than an acre.

The Colonel has -- he kids thee not -- a veritable fleet of yard machines (in various states of repair and disrepair) and a bushog attachment for his tractor, Semper Field.  The Colonel has worn out his tractor and needs a new one, but the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda hasn't been convinced of that need just yet.  What she has been convinced of -- because she is the primary driver of them -- is the need for a new yard machine.  But, not just a new yard tractor...

She wanted something bigger.

She wanted something stronger.

She wanted a commercial grade machine that would cut grass quicker than the clippers cut recruits' hair at the Parris Island barber shop.

She wanted a machine that would mow a four foot swath of yard at velocities approaching the speed of stink at a chitterling cooking contest.  

She wanted a machine that would plow through the acreage surrounding the Big House here aboard Egeebeegee like Sherman through Jimmy Carter's home state.

She wanted a machine that she could strap on and fly. 

The Colonel and the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda will celebrate (with appropriate pomp and circumstance) forty-two years of wedded bliss on the last day of the current month.  The Colonel has expended considerable effort finding just the right gift to symbolize his appreciation for the unwavering faithfulness, indomitable patience, and indefatigable fighting spirit displayed by his bride over the last forty-two years.  

He got her a Husqvarna MZT52 zero turn mower pushed by a 23 horsepower Kohler engine (imagine the Colonel's best Tim the Toolman monosyllabic man grunt here).

The Colonel wonders what she'll get him.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Sleeping Beauty

For years -- forty-one years and eleven months, to be exact -- the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda has complained bitterly about the Colonel's snoring.

She's a very sensitive soul, so the Colonel never really took her seriously.

Besides, the Colonel never heard himself snoring.

A few years ago, the Colonel began to detect that the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda was becoming even more sensitive.  Her nocturnal activities were becoming more pronounced and increasingly directed at the Colonel.  

He was starting to lose sleep.

Where a gentle midnightly nudge had heretofore roused the Colonel from the depths of slumber just enough to cause him to adjust his sleep position to a supposedly snore-safe modified prone position, the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda was now resorting to an ever so-slightly increased physical pressure...

Whooomp! "Breath!!!"

"Wha..!  Sweetie!  Why did you just punch me in the chest?"

"You weren't breathing!"

"Whaddaya mean the Colonel wasn't breathing?  He'll die if he stops breathing!"

"I know!" The comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda was clearly concerned with the Colonel's health and welfare.

"Look, Honey, the Colonel appreciates your clear concern for his health and welfare, but let him explain to you how respiration works.  Involuntary muscle contractions expand and compress the chest cavity, forcing air in and out of the lungs.  There's a slight pause between exhalation and inhalation -- that doesn't mean the Colonel has 'stopped breathing'."  

"I know how breathing works, knucklehead!  Remember, I'm the one in the family with the real education.  You had stopped breathing for a longer time than just a slight pause!"

"Dear, a business degree from Mississippi University for Women hardly qualifies you to make medical judgments." 

"Well, a Master of Science in Human Resource Management from Troy State doesn't make you a scientist!"  The comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda was adding educational insult to sleep injury.

"Okay, Babe," the Colonel recognized that the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda was clearly not sleeping well and her mood was suffering as a result.

"The Colonel can tell that you aren't sleeping well and it's making you a bit cranky..."

"Cranky!  Why, you old goat!  You stop breathing for almost a minute and then you make this loud snort and gasp, and it wakes me up thinking the roof is collapsing!"

"Dear, you needn't fear for the structural integrity of the Big House..."

"Knucklehead, a BA in Poli Sci from Ole Miss hardly makes you qualified to make engineering judgments!"

The comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda's sleep-deprivation driven agitation was elevating the animus in the room and making it hard for the Colonel to keep the discussion focused on the facts.  He switched to his tried and true method of marital conflict resolution.

"Yes, ma'am.  What do you want the Colonel to do?"

"I want you to go have a sleep study done."

"Yes, ma'am."

A month ago the Colonel spent the night at a sleep clinic in town.  The sleep study specialist wired up the Colonel with more leads than an ANTIFA riot investigation.  The Colonel quickly fell into a deep sleep -- old infantry habits die hard -- and he was soon dreaming the dreams of a clear conscience...  

Okay.  His dreams are actually quite disturbing, but that's not important right now...

Suddenly, bright lights and a strident voice disturbed the Colonel's disturbing dreams... "Mr. Gregory!  Wake up!"

"It's Colonel!"

"Excuse me, sir?" 

"Never mind.  Man, that was a quick night..."

"Oh, no sir, you've only been asleep for two hours.  You have severe sleep apnea, Mr. Gregory, and we need to..."

"Colonel.  Colonel Gregory."

"Okay, that's cute Mr. Gregory."  The sleep study specialist was clearly in need of some remedial training in military customs and courtesies.  "You stop breathing for extended periods of time.  We need to put you on a CPAP machine."

"A cee, what?" 

"CPAP."  The military customs and courtesies challenged sleep study specialist was struggling to pull a velcro-strapped contraption over the Colonel's head.  The Colonel was not cooperating.

"What is this velcro-strapped contraption you're trying to put on the Colonel?  Just go away and let him get back to sleep -- the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda ain't here punching him in the chest every hour..."   

"Mr. Gregory, why are referring to yourself in the third person?"  The question was just enough of a distraction that while the Colonel paused his physical resistance to formulate a witty, yet educational, response, the military customs and courtesies challenged sleep specialist was able to slide the velcro-strapped contraption over the Colonel's lead-covered noggin and position a soft plastic cup over the Colonel's nose.

High pressure air was pumping from the soft plastic cup over the Colonel's nose.  He opened his mouth to tell the military customs and courtesies challenged sleep specialist that there was a high pressure air leak somewhere in the system...

"Gaaaaaaahhhh!  Aaaaraaagh!"  The Colonel's open pie hole provided an escape route for the high volume air pushing into his nose and he felt like he was recreating a scene from "The Exorcist." "Aaaooogaaahaarrr!  Maaagoorafff!"

"Try to keep your mouth closed, Mr. Gregory, and breath normally through your nose."  The military customs and courtesies challenged sleep specialist's calm voice told the Colonel that not only had she not yet grasped the fine points of addressing a senior, if retired, Marine officer; but, she was still completely unaware of the high pressure air leak in the system.  

"Iaat's Caaawnuull!  Caaawnull Graaawgaawwry!"  The Colonel was beginning to gain control over the high pressure air demon possessing his respiratory passages.  "Yooovv gaaawtaa haaah praaasssa aaar leaaak aain yooorrr saassstiiim!"  

"Try to relax, Mr. Gregory.  The CPAP machine's positive airflow will help keep your air passages open so that you won't snore and won't stop breathing.  Go back to sleep, now."

"Oawwkayy.  Bahhtha waayy, iaaht's 'Cawwnull'."

"Good night, Mr. Gregory."  

Funny thing, the Colonel is not only waking up each morning far more rested than before, but his chest isn't sore and bruised anymore. 



Saturday, June 23, 2018

Punctatus Park

The other day, the Colonel and his bride -- the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda -- took their evening stroll down to the dock on Lake Brenda to feed the fish.  As the Colonel watched his best friend ladle handfuls of fish food pellets into lazy catfish mouths, he was struck by a enormous inspiration...


"What are you whining about now, knucklehead?" The comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda is always closely and carefully attuned to the Colonel's health and welfare.

"The Colonel was just struck by an enormous inspiration!"

"Greeaat.  Another project.  You haven't finished the last forty-six projects you've started over the last ten years."

"What are you talking about?  The Colonel has mostly finished most of his projects.  Besides, if he completely finishes a project, you'll just start adding your projects to his list, and..."

"Watchit, there, Marine.  The things I ask you to do are not 'projects.'  They are requirements to keep the house from falling down around our ears."

"The Colonel would hardly call setting up your quilting frame a requirement related to the structural integrity of the Big House."

"Careful there, knucklehead...  And, why must you always refer to our modest abode as the 'Big House'."

"To differentiate it from there other dwellings on the property, dear."

"What other dwellings?"

"Well, the cabin, for one."

"Cabin? What cabin?"

"The cabin the Colonel is gonna build down here next to the dock on Lake Brenda."



"That makes forty-seven projects." 

The Colonel paused for a minute, allowed his lower jaw to relax in the slack position favorable to mental calculations, and began counting his projects.

"Are you having a seizure, knucklehead?!?"

"No. Why do you ask?"

"Your pie hole was hanging open, your tongue was hanging out, and your eyes were rolled back in your head!  That's why!"  The comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda was clearly concerned.  "You looked goofier than a Mississippi State fan with a traumatic brain injury from too much cowbell."

"The Colonel was counting..."

"Well stop!  It's getting dark and I don't want to be out here all night.  Besides, what was this great inspiration you were babbling about."

"Huh? Great insp...?  Oh! You mean the Colonel's enormous inspiration.  Well, it occurs to the Colonel that one of the things missing the most here at the shallow northern end of deep southern nowhere is a family oriented animal attraction theme park.  You know, with the price of gas and restaurant groceries climbing through the roof, folks hereabout just can't afford to drive all the way to Orlando to watch Shamu and his siblings and cousins leaping and splashing."

"Wrap up the preamble ramble, Marine.  The mosquitos are starting to bite."

"Well it occurs to the Colonel that we have the makings of a first class family oriented animal attraction theme park right here on the shores of Lake Brenda."

"Why must you persist in using my name in reference to this scummy mud puddle?"

The Colonel ignored the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda's shade thrown on what will soon become the central aquatic feature in the region's newest family oriented animal attraction theme park and held forth with his vision for economic development of his vast holdings at the shallow northern end of deep southern nowhere.   

"So, the Colonel is thinking it is about time these catfish start earning their keep around here.  We've been shoveling tons of fish food pellets down their lazy gullets, and..."

"Yeah, about that, knucklehead.  How much does this stuff cost?"

"You don't wanna know.  Anyway, the Colonel is thinking we've already got these fish trained to achieve vertical orientation in the water column, with mouths protruding above ALL..."

"A L L?"

"Above Lake Level.  We got 'em trained to do that to have food poured into their mouths.  Seems to the Colonel that we ought to next be able to train them to leap out of the water to get their food. Then we can train them to do flips and spins and tail walks..."

"They're catfish, knucklehead!  Nobody's ever trained a catfish to do that!  

"Exactly!  We're gonna be rich!"

"Not if the fish food bill gets out of hand, we won't.  Besides, isn't a catfish brain kinda small?  We aren't talking about dolphin or killer whale level intelligence here."

"Seems to the Colonel that's an advantage for us -- they won't know they are being exploited.  And, conditioned response is a much stronger stimulus than reasoned intelligence."

"You just made that last part up!  Your degree was in political science -- not psychology.  Besides, you didn't even go to college.  You went to Ole Miss, instead."

The Colonel ignored the rapidly darkening shade thrown and finished with a flourish, "We shall call it...  'Punctatus Park!"

"Punky what!?"

"Punctatus.  Ictalurus Punctatus -- the scientific name for the channel catfish." 

"You just made that up, too, didnya knucklehead?"

"Nope.  Look it up.

"Welp, knucklehead, if you don't get me back up to the big house before dark, you can look up the legal name for spousal abuse."

"Why, my dear, the Colonel would never lay a hand on you!"

"Yep. I know that, knucklehead.  But I am not so constrained."

The Colonel has an appointment Monday morning with a patent attorney -- this is gonna be huge!