Thursday, June 25, 2015


So, how are things going out there in the wilderness, Jon?

I'll make it short and sweet. I have problems up to my ears. I'm inundated with unpleasant situations. On a scale from one to ten - ten being no problems at all - I'm teetering around minus 152.

I thought that life on a mountain in the proverbial middle of nowhere would be simple and carefree. My Disneyesque naivety has turned vicious and is biting me on the ass.

Anyone remember The Willows by Algernon Blackwood? - - that haunting novella about two men trapped in the vortex of the unforgiving wilderness, slowly being devoured by unseen entities of nature?

Although I'm not in those Hungarian regions of the Danube - - I am experiencing the same uneasy (horrifying?) feeling here in the Tennessee mountains.

 My back yard

The birds, the wildlife, the insects....

....the untold multitude of bugs......moths, beetles, spiders, gnats, ticks, flies, bees, wasps - - unknown winged creatures that haunt my nights and plague my days.......

I've finally eliminated the 40 (no lie) nests that the carpenter bees made in my wooden porches. And now the wasps have the hundreds....

Yesterday, as soon as I stepped outside, three wasps attached themselves to my clothes. I shrieked, then stripped faster than a Chippendale dancer. Ripped off my T shirt. Peeled off my jeans (no easy task, with the high boots that I wear to discourage the ticks). Didn't get stung.

One of numerous lizards
that resides near my back porch
(hopefully he'll eat plenty of bugs)

Moisture, anyone?
It rains here every day. It's like a Peruvian rain forest. Or South Vietnam during the monsoon.

My distant neighbor - the mysterious someone who owns the cow meadow adjacent to my property - kept shooting a rifle all day Saturday. Very close to my house. I didn't dare go outside. I won't venture a guess as to the reason for the gunfire.

Late Sunday afternoon.
It cooled down, from 95 degrees to 92, so I decided to resume painting my back porch (I already finished the front porch). 
A horrendous thunderstorm blew in with a torrential downpour and wicked lightning. I said to hell with it and continued painting.

my front yard

 Don't go away. I saved the best for last.

Yesterday, early evening. I'm exhausted, so I laid down in bed. Fell fast asleep. Was dreaming.

The ringing phone woke me up. It's pitch dark, no lights on in the house. I stumble out to the kitchen, still half-asleep, puzzled by the sound of rushing water. I turn on a light. The kitchen is flooded. Water is pouring from two hoses connected to (or near?) the water heater (the water heater is in an area adjacent to the kitchen). The water is hot. Steamy.
In a groggy panic, I call my cousin Nancy because I figure she's the one who just called me (she was). I'm babbling, incoherent. I tell her I'm flooded. I have to go outside and turn off the main water valve.

The valve, of course, is unnervingly far away. It's extremely dark. I'm barefooted and shirtless - maneuvering blindly through tall, wet grass and tangled weeds (places where I'm afraid to tread in daylight, with boots on).

Note: I should mention that I was wearing beachwalkers, but it was so wet and muddy that the mud sucked the shoes off my feet!

I'm on my hands and knees, clawing through thick mud and weeds, trying to locate the friggin' water meter. Insects are biting me everywhere. I'm drenched in sweat. I hear the howls of nearby coyotes (I'm not kidding). Finally, finally I find the damn thing and manage to shut it off.

By the time I get back to the house I feel extremely faint and near cardiac arrest. I call my cousin (she's already in her car, on her way) and tell her not to come. I'm still incoherent.

One of my cats (Scruffy, of course) managed to escape from the house during the excitement. She ran off into the woods and was gone for over an hour. 

I took an aspirin, tried to catch my breath, went out searching for Scruffy. I finally found her, soaking wet but fine.
I spent the duration of the night cleaning up the water.

Discovered that the busted hoses had been carelessly repaired with duck tape (!!) by the previous owners of this place (thanks a lot, morons.....).

Wish me luck in trying to get a plumber to come out here in the boonies. I sure as hell will need it. 

 A deer, just after dark, near the back porch. I didn't use the camera flash because I didn't want to scare it.

Update: the plumber can't come until the middle of next week.


  1. Are you painting your porch ceiling HAINT BLUE? "According to Southern tradition, the blue porch ceiling has made its way north and is being introduced to new generations. There are numerous theories as to why – from fooling spiders and wasps into thinking the ceiling is the sky, so they do not nest, to blue being a harbinger of good luck, to the color extending daylight, to scaring away evil spirits." As for the water problem. Can you call that plumber guy who fixed the problem you had over the winter???? Get on his waiting list and pray he makes time for you. The deer is a sweet distraction to all these problems.

    1. I've never heard of haint blue - but it's a very intriguing concept. In fact, I love it!
      I did call the guy who fixed the pipes last winter. He's very nice and honest. Unfortunately he's booked up until the middle of next week, but it's worth the wait.

  2. Time to move to a condo in the nice, safe, city.

    1. I'm not quite ready for a condo yet, but life here in Green Acres is slowly but surely perpetuating the condo option.

  3. Jon, I commiserate profoundly. The hoses you mention are probably flex-line connectors that have come into popular use in this new generation of hot-water tanks. Ours is still stiffly piped into the system as it has been for 50 years, but I live in fear of the day it wears out and I have to upgrade fittings to ride out earthquakes. Glad you were able to get your main shut down --heroic effort-- and replacing flex-lines shouldn't be too expensive. Do remember my earlier mention of Spectracide aerosol wasp and hornet spray --Raid makes a good one too-- and go after those nests when the sun is going down or early morning before heat hits. Wear eye protection! Don't get the can backward! And don't climb --these products shoot a stream 20 or 30 feet. That's all I know because it's 110 degrees here and brains shut down.

    1. I'd like to do the repairs myself, but I'm worried about making a bad situation worse. I hate those flimsy flex-line connectors but they're everywhere nowadays. This house is only twelve years old, but everything in it looks cheap and Mickey Mouse. My house in Texas was well over 50 but everything was built sold.
      I called the guy who fixed the pipes last winter. He can't come until the middle of next week, but he's honest and it's worth the wait.

      I've been using some stuff called Spectracide Bug Stop and it has a good spraying mechanism.
      I'll probably use 10 gallons of it before summer is over.
      You have my deep sympathy for enduring 100 degree heat. It's only around 90 here, but the humidity is intense.

  4. I was dreaming of beautiful mountain scenes with no ugly Walmart stores or loud neighbors in your blog when you moved. Oh well bet you can handle it and live to write about it.

    1. I still love the peace, privacy, and rural surroundings. I don't like all the inconveniences, but it's still better than an ugly Walmart and annoying neighbors.

  5. Wasps and plumbing-from-H*ll aside, I'd be seriously concerned about your rifle-toting neighbor! I wonder if he/she doesn't realize your property's occupied?
    Have you mentioned anything about the Sheriff before? Maybe it's time to strike up a quasi friendship with the Man who wears the star.

    PS - Your cousin sounds like a saint!

  6. Sheriff? What sheriff??
    There ain't any kind of regular law enforcement in this neck of the woods, pardner. The chintzy police department is far away in town. Gunfire is very common out here with the hunters and the loons - - I just never heard it so close by in the cow field. In Texas they used to shoot to scare birds away from the crops.

    My cousin truly is a saint.

    1. I wonder if your neighbor was doing some practice shooting with friends, or shooting at clay pigeons. Up here in Northern MN we, well, not me, but a lot of people get together and "shoot" for the day. Good hobby, but maybe visit with your neighbor and ask what was going on. With humor, since you write wonderful humorous posts :-) I found this post on Just Me, she is a hoot also.

    2. Krueth - I'm delighted to know that you appreciate my humor (not everyone does). When I lived in Texas, a lot of people used gunfire to scare birds away from crops. I'm assuming that's what my neighbor did. If not, he was probably just shooting for the fun of it.
      Not exactly my idea of fun.......

      Thanks for visiting my blog!

  7. Next time I'm having an off day, I'll re read this post just to remind me that my life isn't bad at all. But in spite of all you say, I think you still like being there for the peace and solitude. At least I hope I'm right about that. But if I'm not, at least some of your stuff is still unpacked from the last move...

    1. I do love the peace and privacy (and I deserve it after all the hell I went through in Texas). If I could just iron out all the kinks and TRY to get settled, I could get used to it.

  8. Thank you for reminding me why I live in a high rise condo, in a nice city.

    1. It beats the hell out of trying to live like Daniel Boone.

  9. Smarticus and I just returned home from Tennessee a few days ago, and I can certainly attest to what you say about the bugs! We have a bazillion here in Georgia, too, but it's downright ridiculous in TN! At night, we could actually hear their wings beating against the windows, and they sounded like little birds trying to break in. I'm a bit reticent about walking in the woods behind their house because of the ticks, but what reeeeeeally makes me think twice are the chiggers. OY! If you haven't encountered those miserable little SOBs yet, beware! They have GOT to be one of the most hellish insects in the world. Worse than fleas and ticks and snakes combined.

  10. I never knew what chiggers were until I moved to Texas - - and you're right, they're worse than anything.
    I haven't encountered them yet here in TN, but I have a feeling I will.......

  11. That just about sums it up.

  12. OMG the insects alone would be enough for me. I get bitten by everything going, even when there is hardly anything. Can't imagine how it would be where you live.

    1. I never realized just how many insects can congregate in the mountains - - and it is astounding. Insects always enjoy biting me, but - incredibly - I haven't yet been stung by bees or wasps.

  13. thank God no
    coyote Scruffy snack

    1. Scruffy INSTANTLY runs out the door every time I open it. Faster than a speeding bullet.
      She doesn't realize that hungry coyotes are waiting.

  14. Jon,
    Now while some would say "I told you so", I won't (smile). Oh yes, the "country" is beautiful as was our place in the middle of the woods (6.875 acres) on a steep hillside (walk lopsided - sloped ground); the problems were many. Even though we weren't in the "wilderness" as you are now nor did we have redneck neighbors exercising their 2nd amendment Constitutional rights to play with their deadly guns (and did I mention ticks?), I knew I had to get out of their, especially in my advancing years. Thank God (and I'm not religious, just using a exclamatory phrase of thankfulness) that I did considering what I've been through the last nine years here in the totally flat coastal plains of southern Delaware. Now when I have a plumbing or electrical problem (air conditional went out in the middle of a heat wave last summer), I call Service Today (which really is SERVICE TODAY) and they're here within minutes (seriously). I can't begin to list all the reasons why I am SO GLAD I live where I do (having good neighbors literally within feet of my house and they're CONSERVATI VE!) who have helped us out numerous time during medical emergencies is the least of it. I am so glad to go through a summer without one tick bite (I was always getting them in Pennsylvania). Jon, I an reluctant to say this but you gotta get out of there. I know where you live is beautiful and peaceful (really?) but you HAVE TO MOVE. I don't know how old you are but it doesn't get any easier. This last year you had a couple close calls (falling down, injuring your back, etc). I would make plans right now to sell your house and over back to California (like me ending).

    1. I was initially hesitant, Ron, because I knew there would be drawbacks - - especially in my declining years. Unfortunately I didn't realize how many things could go wrong. I am , however, savoring the peace and privacy.

      California is still my favorite place on earth - but the cost of living is too expensive, and it has changed drastically (for the worst) since I lived there.


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