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Posts published in “Columnists – Two Cents’ Worth”

“Gentlemen, start your engines”

At least football season is all in, all done for now. Basketball is in and the Mrs. would rather watch Duke play than eat.

Tis the season for, “Gentlemen, start your engines,” as NASCAR cranks up their season run starting in Daytona. See that Danica Patrick has won the pole position — good for her. Reading a book or bending a hook is my thing rather than watching a bunch of television, unless, of course, you get to go to a race in person. The Masters is not for another month or so come April 14th — that I’d like to go to in person.

Mardis Gras is starting and got a dose of the beginnings while in Baton Rouge over the weekend, the Louisiana State Patrol was passing out tickets like food stamps and even the local parishes had their men checking for speeders, etc.

If they see you drive across the solid white line on the roadside to make a turn or move into the lane of traffic or simply cross it, you will get a ticket. $85.00 for an improper turn.

The garden has officially started as potatoes have been planted in two laundry baskets. Additionally heirloom tomatoes were planted as well as the chili pequin plants; these were planted in buckets and hopefully they will produce an abundant supply of tomatoes and peppers this year.

Going to make some super hot chowchow for one of the boys, as he says he likes it hot so we’ll give the chili pequin peppers a try in the chowchow.

My gone but not forgotten buddy Thomas Earl Fabian wanted some hotter chowchow one time so I used the food processor to do a couple jars of pure jalapeños, prepared in the normal manner of chowchow and took one to the slaughter house. Boy howdy did he ever fuss about how hot it was and wanted to know if I was trying to kill him.

The Baytown Shriners have a big Oyster Fry this coming Friday, so a ticket for the fried morsels was pre-purchased from a local Shriner. The Shriners do an awful lot for the Burn Hospital and other hospitals, so support them please.

The oyster is a gout kicker as is any shell fish. Am going to see if the meds the doc prescribed work, as a plate of the fried oysters has my name on it.

Charlie Farrar can be reached via email at: xuscg [at] yahoo [dot] com.

Merry Christmas

Me and the Mrs. Wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and a happy next four years.

It might take that long to get all the household goods squared away or at least learn where everything is now. Frustrating when you try and find a kitchen item or wonder where she put it.

Pesky old fruit flies have already found a home. They gather around the items of fruit and the onion pile. Will have to put up one of those sticky strips near the kitchen sink light and leave it on at night. Those things sure did work in the other house with a fluorescent bulb.

Have to buy bananas on a regular basis for my monkey or at least that’s what I tell the cashier at the grocery checkout. Maybe a mini net would help keep the pesky gnats off the fruit.

Had to repaint the shutters again at the old place, she didn’t like the color of green selected by yours truly. The color was of what would sell, got two calls on it but the excessive chatter was not worth it so I give in and broke out the roller with a darker color green.

Painting and moving furniture is something women should not be allowed to do once moving begins or the first daub is daubed. Had to paint the hall bathroom three times before a certain yellow color could be achieved a while back.

For instance back in my banking career, it involved moving furniture, file cabinets and going to get the paper order. We had a dozen or more large legal file cabinets used in a department of the bank. There were some asbestos lined cabinets also, they’ll hurt you.

Bet we moved those files (full) many times over. Have moved them more than once in a single move as opinions differed among the movers as to where the files should go.

Reading on Facebook and all these people being blessed and giving thanks again. Felt like yours truly has been blessed along with all them blessed people.

Got some deer sausage links from Du, something you cain’t buy at the Kroger or Wal-Mart.

Got a sack of home grown tomatoes from my gardening guru in Highlands, Texas.

Had Thanksgiving with one of the twins, been almost 20 years.

Blessed out by the Mrs. on the color of shutters I painted over at the old house. Shoot fire, if I don’t get blessed out occasionally, I might feel like I’m doing something right.

Charlie Farrar can be reached via email at:

Moving out

After living in the same house for 34 years, the Mrs. finally decided she was ready to move on. Needless to say, yours truly was more than ready and tickled that she finally consented to move. Yours truly has spent several years of looking at houses on Lake Rayburn and Lake Livingston, but she couldn’t live there and continue to work, saying the commute is too much.

Found a nice house less than two miles from the old house and made arrangements to move there. Gone is the little garden of weeding and no more getting to watch the sights of birds and other creatures of the wild along Goose Creek. Will miss the one butt kitchen and all the yard plants but hope to transplant a few to the newer house.

Nothing but headaches and frustration dealing with getting everything turned on and hooked up at the newer house. The local cable TV provider failed horribly as did their telephone people. One girl wanted to charge 35 bucks to have the cable hooked up by the field man. They tried desperately hard to get me to sign up for the phone service and get the complete package. It did not seem they understood the meaning of not only no, but hell no. Read my lips! Spent 58 minutes on the phone thinking my battery would run out.

Amazing how companies have picked up the practice of banks, charging for any and everything they can stick to you.

Called Sears about our propane gas grill which had quit igniting and had rusted through in several places. So glad that a five year warranty was purchased with the grill. Spent much time on the computer talking telephone and it does not understand my Southern accent, but got down to near the end of what I was wanting, and be Johnny Brown if their phone did not start back at the very beginning again. Got in the car and rove to Sears and ultimately completed ordering new parts for the grill. Also set up an appointment as to when to expect a man to come out and install them.

The parts arrived by UPS and the repairman came out. Had three parts which were not needed and another piece to the side burner which has never been used. Don’t get me wrong, the grill repairman did a good job but the person doing the phone work must have been pre-occupied in doing the parts order.

Bigger house, smaller yard but still close to all. Old house was total electric with no complaints; the newer one has gas stove and heat. Gas top stove has already singed some hairs and taught the cooker not to pick up a pot of boiling water because the handles get very hot cooking with gas.

Don’t care what they say; I’ll take electric any day period.

Charlie Farrar can be rached via email:

Spring Fever and Spring Cleaning…

Spring is so close one can smell it. That must be why all these sneezing fits have occurred. The neighbor’s Arizona Ash tree is budding out and the other neighbor’s pear tree will be in bloom once it gets a good drink of water as it is full of buds. Pear trees are so pretty full of white blossoms.

Spring will officially be here next month just after you turn your clock forward one hour. Looking forward to the time advance, although Spike cat will not know the difference as he likes to walk around the pillow before daylight so someone will go get his breakfast snack of Whiskas Temptations treats. Spring Fever as defined by Ms Merriam-Webster is “a lazy or restless feeling often associated with the onset of spring”.

You can tell its spring when all the male dove start cooing to the nearest female dove. It is also time for the white perch AKA Crappie to bite. Actually the Crappie are already biting on Luce Bayou above Lake Houston. Spring runs from March into May down here in Texas and at the end of spring is the beginning of hurricane season.

Spring is also the time to do your spring cleaning and, being the head janitor of the house the job has already begun. The biggest chore at the house is washing the fascia and eaves on the house; next biggest is the blinds and windows. Guess I’ll have to turn the ceiling fans on high to dust. Don’t care what she says, that’s woman’s work. About decided when she retires, I’m going back to work.

Drove to the fresh water pond in the big city last week to check out a crappie hole found over the web; hope to wet a hook this coming week, but weather forecast says it’s going to be cold so Charlie might not make it.

Got a box of Jerusalem artichoke to plant one day this week, hope to have a pint or two of them pickled as Pop and Pearl Farrar grew them out at their place on the Liberty Hill Road. Pearl would pickle them and they were right tasty, crunchy too. Of course she would put a pod of red pepper in the jar for a bit of spice, hot but good.

We used to take the mattresses out each spring on a pretty day to air out; it was a job momma always had me help doing wrestling those heavy cotton mattresses out to the back yard for a day. Nowadays you have febreze.

Going to the birds…

Me and the Mrs. took a little R & R and a four day weekend down the coast to Port Aransas. We stayed on Mustang Island and spent a couple of days in Rockport, Texas attending the Hummingbird Festival.

A fun trip indeed visiting various homes watching the hummers at people’s numerous feeding stations.

More fun than that was the “Last Chance Forever” live birds of prey show that is dedicated to the rehab of sick, injured and orphaned birds of prey. Hawks, Owls, an Eagle, a Buzzard and a Falcon were on display Friday night and Saturday morning.

The birds were allowed to fly in the school auditorium Friday evening and awesome cannot describe this event. Additionally, vendors had their bird wares available from T-shirts, feeders, blown glass hummer ornaments, high dollar binoculars and scopes were available for purchase. The Mrs. noticed and purchased a 72 ounce sugar water feeder that hopefully will last more than one day without having to be refilled.

They had rain down in that part of the country a week or so ago and the skeets were out in volume. Finally found a place that has the skeets as bad as we do in the back yard. They should name it the Skeeter Festival because they outnumbered the hummers 10 to 1.

This ole Georgia Boy never has been a big fan of chowing down on fish and bait. Back in the Coast Guard in Boston on Fridays they served seafood and lobsters in abundance, back then related to a Catholic requirement of no meat on Fridays. Of course, I never had eaten the big crayfish much less any other seafood, giving mine away and opting for a bologna sandwich.

Time changes all or most anyway. Had my first taste of Mahi-mahi fish and found out just how good tis. Ate it five times and consider the grilled much better than the fried. Speaking of fried fish, the restaurants down there do not serve catfish or at least the six eating places we visited. The Mrs. put two of her shrimp on my plate reciprocating for a piece of the fish yours truly gave her. Later that evening, the shrimp were still swimming and I swear they were cooked in coon oil.

The Mrs. agreed we might move to that part of the country and it sure beats the fire out of the Smokey Mountains that she has wanted. We spent the better part of a day riding around Mustang Island, Rockport, and Fulton looking at homes for sale getting a sampling of the area. The house she wanted was $399K and mine was over a Mil so we have to wait on her to reach retirement age and maybe our ship will come in so we can buy down there.

We are back at the poor house now and it do feel good, peas and cornbread for supper, back to basics.

Tales from the garden

Labor Day weekend, tis. This time last year we were in preparations for Hurricane Ike to come to town. It also reminds me of the blackberry wine which was started after we lost power. The wine has been working the entire year now and it’s still working; might end up knocking your socks off.

The blackberry patch is No Mas (that’s Spanish for No More) as it has been cut to the ground being nearly dried up. That is good soil where the blackberry patch was, been thinking of getting some thornless blackberries or maybe something else we can eat to plant in its place. Should be a rule, nothing is planted that you cannot eat.

Only have five things in and around the yard besides grass (weeds) that you cannot eat. A Confederate Rose, a Seven Sisters Rose, a Tuberose (has the fragrance of the Gods), a Red Apple Ice plant and a palm type plant that is leftover from my father-in-law’s funeral, not sure what it is so it is called Don McAninch. The two rain containers under the back roof and porch contained a bit of water but not enough to amount to anything. It is used mostly to sustain the Tuberose lately.

Out on Liberty Hill Road at the little house on the hill there were three large washtubs that gathered water as it came off the side of the tool shed. The water was used to wash the clothes and all. Out from the edge of the tool shed past the water tubs was the artichoke patch.

A Jerusalem artichoke is one that you dig and not like the globe shaped artichoke one sees in the stores nowadays. The roots are knobby and Ma Pearl used to make pickles known for their sweet, nutty crispness in turmeric spiced pickles. A South of the Mason Dixon line recipe with onion and red pepper. Makes me wonder how the artichoke would do in the old blackberry patch. If the plant is ordered now, it will not be shipped until spring. Time will tell as they are ordered.

Memories of the wash day chore out in the country come back then – laborious as all get out with the ringer type washer. It was fun to put the water soaked clothes up and into the ringer only it was not so much fun when my hand went up into it. I squealed like a cut hog and my grandma came running and set me free. No longer did I think it was so much fun ‘cause that hurt. No Mas.

Fall brings festivals and hummingbirds

Fall is in the air, you might not be able to tell it but it will be here this time next month.

The big city paper has already published their edition of FALL BAZAARS & FESTIVALS. Bazaars are fun things to do should you have the desire to get out of the recliner and stay on your feet.

It is time to plant your fall crop if you are a gardener. The garden of weedin already has tomatoes in the ground and hopefully there will at least be some nice green tomatoes before first frost. Not my idea of fun back there picking tomatoes with the wind whooping and the temperature is in the thirty’s and forty’s.

It is hummingbird migration time, now thru September. We have about six hummers buzzing around out front in and around the sugar water feeders. Only have five feeders out now although in the past there have been over a dozen scattered around the house. Those feeders need to be washed out once a week and in the peak time of the season; we have put out a gallon a day of the sugar water mixture (4 to 1).

Tried to make a bet with the Mrs. this morning saying I would catch a hummingbird this year. She would not bet as she knows one of the little things will fly in the garage and ain’t got enough sense to fly down a foot or so and go back out the garage door. They will continually fly upwards bumping into the ceiling until they get so tired they can no longer fly.

That is where I come in; I pick up the little thing and take it out the garage and release or set it in the tree to rest. The garage door is now kept down during hummer migration time.

Caught a hummingbird and showed it to the neighbor kids last year and they wanted to know how I caught it; told them I am quick. Put a couple feeders out with sugar water, it does not have to be colored red. They are fun to watch and they will not harm you as their long beak is as flexible as a straw.

The loan game…

Having spent over 30 years in the banking and finance business, my start in the finance company came soon after being discharged from the Coast Guard in Wilmington, North Carolina. The position was titled Customer Service Representative AKA collector, not a bad job but dealt entirely with past due accounts and sometimes rough people.

That was back in the corn liquor days as they still had liquor stills in that part of the country. The fellow who trained me was from Ash, NC and he went to collect from this one person going into his garage. Next thing he knew, he was surrounded by a bunch of men and they got into a shoving match.

That same customer was having his power cut off for lack of payment. The customer held the power company man with a gun making him go back up the pole and cut the guy’s power back on. Nice people huh.

After getting hired by a bank to assist in the collection of its loans, I was making an outside call to a customer’s residence only to find nobody home. Arriving back at the bank at the day’s end and reporting to the respective loan officer of my attempts to collect, he informed me that this way past due customer had come into the bank. The loan officer had loaned him more money, however the father-in-law co-signed the note. That did not make much sense to me, but loan officers are known to do some really squirrelly things.

Had two lenders quit one time because the holding company had sent a big time lender to the bank who had been promoted over the two that quit. Reckon it hurt their feelings. Did not hurt my feelings, it gave me more job security because this hot shot was loose as a goose with his lending. Apparently he did not know the meaning of No!

Had another big time lender come in from Dallas and a big shot he was. He even had to find a place to send his shoes to be shined. I thought good grief! Rather funny, this hot shot loved to frequent topless bars and soon after his arrival in town he made the Houston circuit of a few bars spreading word of how big a banker he was. Needless to say, the next day a stripper showed up in the bank, fully clothed of course, and was going to hit him up for the loan per his evening before. Thought the hot shot was going to crawl under his desk. It was so funny; he closed the door to his office and told the assistant that he would be in conference for the rest of the day.

Had one lender with a drug problem and it too was comical for a while; but not so funny when I inherited his portfolio as the loans had to be collected. I do believe the man would have loaned Jessie James money. Of all those college boys, we had one who simply could not compose a letter. He had his secretary write all of them and to think they got the big bucks.

Those Summer Daze…

Finished reading an eBook this weekend, a first for me and enjoyed it so much, I ordered another eBook to download. An eBook is read over the computer once downloaded for a nominal fee.

The program to read the eBook was free so I am good to go. The particular book just finished was LONG HORN II by Dusty Rhodes. AMAZON.COM has the book for $35.95 + S & H and it is a paperback edition, used at that.

The eBook was purchased for $5.50 with the only drawback being it must be read over this computer and one cannot go lie down to read and catch a snooze. It cannot be copied, printed, transferred or forwarded. Like the Vegas theme, “What you read here, stays here”.

Our oldest boy by 9 minutes and his clan are down from Pennsylvania. They head back up and across the Mason Dixon Line tomorrow, none too soon for the cats. Must admit the boy has become a good cook over the years and gladly turned the cooking over to him while he was home. Reckon we’ll be eating leftovers for a week after they leave.

Grandkids sure are nice and fun loving to have. Some good, some bad and folks say you reap what you sow. The reason kids today are such picky eater is because the parents ask them if they want some of this, that and the other to eat. Prepare the kids a plate and expect them to eat. If they do not, do not reward them with cookies and ice cream. GOOD GRIEF!!!

That is old school maybe but I am sure there are some of you who will agree with me. Took the granddaughters (7 & 12) to Wal-Mart the other morning @ 0600; advised them to stick close to me because somebody might get them and they be making tamales for the rest of their lives. Do not have to worry about the girls running around whooping and hollering like some you see in the stores. Reckon you could say that is why little brother got left behind because I too would whoop and holler too if I had to tag along with two girls in the girl’s britches department.

These kids do not know how good they have it. All they did while in Texas sure beats sitting outside in a swing shelling beans and peas, shucking corn and putting stuff up, canning and all. That may be productive and it sure beats watching SQUARE BOB WET PANTS or the Nick channel. Guess that is why they are at their great aunt’s house swimming in the concrete pond and not in the creek outback.

Government money…

The eagle screams this week. In case you do not know what that is, it is payday for government service. That is what it was called aboard ship in the Coast Guard and they paid us in cash. Generally the supply officer and a gunner’s mate, both armed with .45’s, made the trip to the bank to pick up the ship’s payroll.

Those once a month paydays are back now that yours truly is drawing social security. While working in the banking industry for years, we were paid on the 15th and 30th of each month. Never received an actual paycheck, everything was direct deposit, still is. During my last year, the bank changed our paydays to every other Thursday and that was a nice treat. Sometimes before on those long weekends before payday, you would have to wait for payday to do something and to buy groceries.

One thing about the social security, and you have probably heard about it before,I’ll tell you flat out if you expect to live just on social security alone when you retire, you best move on into the poor house. You might think you are there now but you are in for a big surprise. Ma said if you think we are poor this week, wait until next week.

What I draw from the government is just enough to pay required insurance on the old truck and old car, the old house plus all the various and assorted taxes one must pay to live in the great state of Texas. Not to mention the light bill, water bill, phone bill, cable bill, Dr bill, drug bill, and incidental bill, and still out of your check is the income tax Uncle Sam charges you to pay you. Ain’t nothing wrong with cornbread and peas but some good fried streak-o-lean is good every now and then.

Enough of the poor mouth but fortunately for me, I married a woman younger than me and she is still working. She has a ways to go before she retires and continues to work to this day. As my old buddy would say, you cut a fat hog on that one.

Uh-O, that almost got me in trouble, I had to explain what that saying meant.