Sunday, May 26, 2013

 This is supposed to be a woodpecker. That'll mean something to you later

 "Rooftop Bird Watch"

    ROOFTOP – It’s looking overcast from up here this morning. In the west it seems almost intimidating. Not to worry, we won’t get a drop of rain.

No telling how many times I’ve waited for approaching dark clouds to bring precipitation. It’s generally just a tease. Our neighborhood has something going on that chases away the rain. My guess is cats.

Speaking of which, do you know how many birds in this country are murdered by cats each year? I don’t either, but somebody does. I read about it. It’s like a kazillion million. That’s just slightly less than the number of chickens we consume each day. If the cats ever figure out how to get to our chickens, we’re gonna be in some deep stuff. 
 It'll mean something to you later.

I can see where my birds down there in the front yard might be easy food for cats. They’re not the smartest. One nut short of a Mars Bar. Hey, I don’t care if they can  hear me. – “You’re not smart! You guys give the term ‘birdbrain’ meaning!”

Do you know who keeps that birdfeeder full, and who cleans the birdbath and refills it? Kay? No, it’s the guy sharing the roof with you. Kay takes care of the hummingbirds. Puts water in the little glass thing once a week. Big whoop.

Me, I’m hauling out the bag of seed and painstakingly scooping it into the squirrel-proof contraption. A job that any team of three able-bodied mechanical engineers could manage.

I’m ever vigilant to make sure the fortress of seed is full. I have to keep lookout ‘cause no one tells me. You’d think onee or two of the little tweeterheads would kindly peck at the window in my study, but noooo. – “Hey, I can’t get any seeds out of this thing. You give it a try.” – “I just did, but I’ll try again. Nothing. Now, you try.”

Crazy thing is, when I head out there to replenish the supply, the lookout bird gives the universal signal for an approaching Bengal Tiger. I’m out there wrestling with the feeder and cleaning the birdbath, and they’re headed for Willis. Unlike everywhere else, there’s never been a tiger loose in Willis.

The point is, the numb nibs don’t seem to realize that I’m the nicest animal around. I’m the one that feeds their rumpled butts! – Please excuse my vile speech.  This is something that just really grates.” – Birds must think it’s some kind of moon god that keeps the water clean and the sunflower seeds coming. And the god only appears after the mean human life form leaves.

Kay’s hummingbirds are much smarter. I was at the kitchen sink Monday replacing the Brita filter. I hate that job. Anyway, there was a hummingbird sitting on the metal post about three feet from the window. He’s looking at me with a stare that could cut okra. I expected it to say – “Hey, what’s wrong with this picture, Mac? There’s no nectar in that weird container with the fake flower petals all over it. Contact the lady in charge and take care of this, you worthless piece of man flesh!”

Hummingbirds are not the most patient fowl in the bird kingdom. They know what they want, how much they want, and that they want it now. And, they’re not too crazy about sharing what they get. Anyway, Kay took care of the little rotor-winged goobers. Was there a thank you? It was more like an “About time!”

Oh, and while we’re on the subject, if you think you’ve got it hard in this world; if you think you’re overworked and unappreciated, you need to take a look at what is making all of that thumping noise. See? It’s up there on top of the telephone pole. That woodpecker is beating the daylights out of the top of a giant pine pole that’s saturated with creosote.

What’s it hoping to find? I can’t imagine. We’d have to call in one of those military drones to find out. There’s probably one in the neighborhood this very moment. You’ve got to admit, some of you look just a bit suspicious up here.

Regardless, that woodpecker is viciously pounding the pole with its nose. You can’t tell me there aren’t plenty of insects on trees that it could peck to death. No, it’d rather keep smacking its head against the top of a treated pole. That’s just sad. 

Sadder still is the reappearance of lovebugs. I haven’t spotted one up here yet, but one landed on the windshield when I stopped at a red light in town. The pathetic bug couldn’t wait for me to pick up speed. It saw a windshield and wanted to become one with it. The thing didn’t have enough spit to hang on when I took off.

And, I think it’s about time we took ourselves off this metal-sheeted rooftop. Hey, I can’t believe it either. It’s actually starting to rain. Where are the cats when you need ‘em?

It will be a slippery dissent, so take it easy, rooftoppers. I’ll need you around for next time. I’ll leave the birds out of the discussion. Promise.


To view some uplifting spiritually-centered videos go to and click on “Just a moment.” You may contact Mark at

Thursday, May 16, 2013

“Mom in Juvenile Court?”

    A couple of weeks ago I was invited by Conroe Municipal Judge Mike Davis to be his guest at Juvenile Court. Truth be told, I didn’t know courts had guests.

Judge Davis put me at ease by saying that he hoped to glean from me any advice I could offer on the proceedings. I thought it a kind gesture, along the lines of a seasoned soldier in a trench allowing a non-combatant to suggest when he should duck.

    I wisely kept my mouth shut during the hearings, but not my mind. This brain of mine is like a closet of marbles. You just try to shut the door.

    During one of the cases, Mike, I mean “His Honor”, said something that made me think of my mother. He was looking down from the bench at a 15 year-old young man who had his chin in his chest and was apparently counting the slats on the floor. The boy’s mother had been much more attentive, nodding in agreement anytime Judge Davis said anything.

    Before announcing his verdict, The Judge asked the boy to raise his head and look over at his mom. The boy slowly did just that. The Judge said, “Young man, do you think that when your mother had you, she said, ‘Oh, boy, a son! I hope I get to humiliate myself one day and stand next to him in a court of law and beg the judge to go easy on him.’ Do you think she hoped for that?”

    I don’t know how well that line would go with most young people, but it seemed to land on a soft place in the boy’s heart. For a minute I thought he might cry. I wish he had. It would’ve given his mom, Judge Davis and me a little lift. Of course, you can never know how long a moment’s emotional tug will last.

    That’s what made me think of my mom. It would’ve broken my heart had Mom had to stand there for me. It hurt enough when she had to pay for a lost library book for me. Hey, I was a kid during simpler times. Oh, there was the same stuff going on, but not so much that you knew.

    It was a time when you could leave your kids in the car while you went shopping for groceries, and no one thought two hoots about it. Would you want seven Hayter kids following you all over the store? Fortunately, back then we had the good sense to roll the windows down.

    We had to ask Mom permission for practically everything. It was no big deal, ‘cause Mom let us do just about anything that didn’t require guy wires, a sledge hammer or cherry bombs. Everything else got the thumbs up.

    Mom not only let us do stuff, but she even recommended stuff for us to do. No telling how many times she said, “You kids, get outside and play. You heard me. Get outta here!”

    I’ve mentioned it more than once, but the best thing Mom ever recommeded I do happened during one of my weekend’s home from college. Dennis had just headed out on a date, and I was moping around the house on a Saturday night. Mom said, “Mark, why don’t you call that Cross girl? Y’all were good friends in junior high. See if she’ll have anything to do with you.” I made up the last part. Mom may have thought it, but was too sweet to say it.

    By the way, I don’t recommend taking dating advice from a friend at the bar or out on the docks, when your mom suggests someone, you might should listen. I’ve been married to that Cross girl for over 41 years now. The best advice Mom ever gave me. That and, “Don’t run with that stick in your mouth! What are you, crazy?”

    Mom wasn’t a perfect mom. She yelled a lot like most Moms back then, she spanked me too often, and she got way too much mileage out of a can of tuna. Oh, and she was lousy at sports. The worst. If you were pitching to her, you had to aim for her bat, ‘cause she couldn’t hit a sleeping yak.

    And, football? The lady couldn’t catch worth beans. And if she ever did get lucky enough to grab hold of the ball, she never knew where to run. Mom cheered for Dennis and me at many a football game, but the poor soul didn’t understand a thing. Just beats all.

    Other than those important issues, Elsie was a perfect mom. The best thing she ever did was pray for each of her kids everyday. Every single day that Mom and I were on the planet, she mentioned me to God. If you don’t think that can keep you out of a world of hurt, you just don’t know.

    Yeah, right there in the courtroom I was thinking about Mom. I could just see a young Mark standing before a Judge Davis. If I had been looking down at my feet, Mom would’ve said, “Mark Scott, you look up at the Judge before I knock you cross-eyed!” Back then, Moms could say stuff like that and get away with it. Something tells me that Mike, uh, Judge Davis would’ve let it slide, too.

You can contact Mark at

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Breakfast with JIll, Cheryl and Flint Rock

“Breakfast conversation”

    If I hadn’t just finished breakfast at IHOP with Jill, Cheryl and Clint Rock, I’d be so much less informed than I am at the moment. Did you know that Clint’s dog ate his expensive running shoes? Well, you should’ve been at breakfast with us.

    By the way, Clint Rock is Big Al’s boy. His real name is Clint Ross, but when Dennis heard the name, he changed it Flint Rock. Over the years the “Flint” vanished, but the “Rock” stays on. Isn’t this fascinating?

    Oh, and Cheryl? Cheryl is my niece. My sister Lynda’s daughter. Cheryl and Jill got up this idea to go to Wimberley during their Market Days weekend. I have never visited Wimberley on a weekend. On a Market Day weekend, you would have to duct tape me to the top of your Dodge Caravan to get me there.

    One big draw to the Central Texas trip is zip-lining. Jill actually made zip-line reservations. Zip-line? Oh, a cable stretched down a hill, and you sit on a small contraption attached to a pulley that zips you down the incline. I’ve done it once on a rather small scale, and it was a blast.

Oh, and I should probably tell you that the trip to Wimberley was the reason for eating breakfast out. I told Jill and Cheryl that if they visited Kay and me before leaving, I’d buy ‘em breakfast. They bit. So did Clint Rock.

Clint is not going to Wimberley, but he enjoys eating breakfast out. I didn’t tell him I was buying till after he ordered. His Uncle Mark is not a complete idiot.

    I also got Jill and Cheryl a big bag full of snacks for their trip. I’m the best snack buyer in the universe. Well, maybe the galaxy. I always buy people what I like, and I like only the good stuff. A trip without cashews and peanut M&Ms is wasted mileage.

    The conversation during breakfast was cool as all get out. Did you know that Clint’s dog ate his high priced running shoes? Well, it did. The dog is shrewd as all get out. No fence can keep it in. The dog will climb, dig, and chew it’s way out of any enclosure.

Get this – Clint is a roughneck on an oilrig near Odessa. The mangy mutt took up residence at the rig, so Clint took it home after one of his shifts. An oilrig dog? For the kids? Fenced up in the backyard? Of course it’s gonna eat your shoes. It’ll eat your shoes, garden rake, Hotwheels track, Swifter duster and garden hose. It’s an oil rig dog! Sheesh.

Oh, and something else. Both Jill and Cheryl are now vegetarians. Did you know that? After watching a documentary on meat processing, they both swore off meat. I haven’t seen the documentary. Don’t intend to. It must’ve been sadder than sad. So sad that Jill and Cheryl gave away their sausage and bacon at breakfast. How great is that?

By the way, Clint is training for an Iron Man competition. That’s where you swim, bike and run for a really long ways. I think it’s the same distance as from here to Des Moines. You might wanna check me on that.

Clint has participated in some Mud Runs. Mudders. That’s where you run on an oval linoleum track… or over a muddy obstacle course. I get ‘em mixed up. After the Mudders, Clint now thinks it’s time he moves on to the Iron Man competition. Only problem is, his dog ate his running shoes. He’s gonna get him some better ones… ones made of oilrig-dog hide. It’s a newly processed synthetic material recently developed in the area.

Can you believe that Jill, Cheryl and Clint each have been experiencing leg cramps at night. I told ‘em about how Kay and I manage to stave off our leg cramps by keeping a bar of soap at the foot of the bed under our fitted sheet. I’ve written about it before.

However, if you’re not gullible enough to try soap, it might be good to know that mustard will cure the cramp once you get one. Only, don’t spread the mustard on your fitted sheet. Just keep some on the nightstand and when you get cramp take a spoonful. Assuming you can balance a spoon while cramping.

Pickle juice is supposed to do the same thing. Scientists say that mustard stops cramping because it’s, uh, yellow. The pickle juice works ‘cause it’s got ribitonans in it. – No, I do not remember the actual reasons, but these are close.

    We talked about a bunch of other cool stuff, but the editor is signaling me to wind it down. Let me just say that Clint left IHOP for the grocery store and Jill and Cheryl headed out to The Hill Country.

Me? I’m up here in the study recommending that you take someone to breakfast this week. Just don’t tell ‘em you’re buying till after they order. I’m just saying. – Next time.


You can contact Mark at

Saturday, May 4, 2013

A wonderment in the midst of blue

Hayter Get-together 

ROOFTOP – Okay, before you get situated, I’d like you to turn slowly and face the backyard. Slowly! If just one of you falls, it could start a chain reaction the results of which would end up being a pile of elbows and rear ends down there in the hedge. Stuff like that doesn’t just happen to lemmings, you know?

    All right, now look beyond the oaks to the small field of bluebonnets. Yes, they’re beautiful, but that’s not what you’re looking for. Do you see it? There, that speck of red. Yep, it’s a poppy. Kay sowed a bunch of seeds out there in the fall. And, that’s what we’ve got to show for it – a lone red poppy in a healthy clump of bluebonnets.

Looks cool, doesn’t it? More of ‘em may bloom in late spring, early summer. If so, the flowers only last about two weeks. That’s not nearly enough bloom time, you ask me. Even if this is the first and last of the flowers, when seen amongst all the blue it’s still a worthwhile sight. A wonderment, even.

You wanna know what’s weird? I’ll tell you what’s weird. We have never been able to grow anything in that little patch back there. Weeds aren’t even that crazy about it. But, bluebonnets thrive on the plot. If I were to try to fertilize or water it, the bluebonnets would disappear. Weird plant. The blooms are on the wane, but still beautiful. 

Hold it! I don’t want anybody chasing that piece of dandelion fluff that’s drifting past us here. It’s tempting, I know. But, if you reach for it, you’re going to end up following it over the roof. Then we’ve got the whole lemming going again.

Boy, if you had been here Saturday, you would’ve seen a yard full of Hayters. And, you would’ve feasted on a couple of smoked pork shoulder butts. I didn’t know pigs had shoulder butts. I knew they had shoulders and butts, but not a shoulder butt.  There’s at least one butcher in town who seems to think they do. Anyway, I served pulled pork and link sausage sandwiches. No one complimented me on the meal, but some of ‘em wrestled for the leftovers.

A tribe of cannibals in Papua New Guinea compliment the cook by belching loudly after the meal. The Hayters show their appreciation by taking all the leftovers.

The get-together reinforced my belief that I would’ve been a bad father. There were four young grand nieces and nephews running around down there. Each wanted someone to play ball with. Trouble is, not a one of ‘em could throw worth spit. They’d grab the ball and throw it over your head or in the bushes or down the driveway.

I don’t have the patience for stuff like that. Grandpa Big Al sure does. Grandparents will do stuff with grandkids that they never dreamed of doing with their children. Just beats all I ever saw. I just sat in the lawn chair, sipped my coffee and watched. Do you think any of those little bad ball-throwing youngsters will remember their Uncle Mark? – “Oh, yeah. He’s the one who wouldn’t play with us. Is he still alive?” -- Sad. Not sad enough to get me off my shoulder butt, though.

Okay, enough of that. We can now turn and face the front yard. I want you to look at the birds around the feeder. They’re goin’ nuts down there. I used to put out “wild birdseed” or “seeds for wild birds.” (I’ll let the grammarians sort that one out.) Anyway, the birds around here don’t care two hoots for seeds that are non-sunflower. They just pick through all the little round tan seeds and grab the sunflower seeds. Just like me with a can of mixed nuts. As soon as I’ve picked out all the cashews, I’m at my wit’s end. Brazil nuts? What’s that all about?

Yes, the sunflower and cashew seem to be the seeds of preference around here. Oh, that and suet cakes. Those go pretty fast in the winter. The woodpeckers particularly love ‘em. Kay says they like it during the winter because it’s a provides a source of fat. Fat is apparently good for cold birds and Eskimos. Not so good for people who live in the South. 

Still, suet cakes look fairly appetizing to me. You pour a little syrup on one of ‘em, and I might just take a bite. End up chirping like a gnatcatcher. That’s the name of a bird I ran across on the Internet. Creamy bellied gnatcatcher. Eats tuna. (I made that part up.)

And speaking of honeybees, I saw six of ‘em last week. May have been the same two bees on three different occasions. They had the same features. Small, chubby, torso stubble, short wings. I couldn’t pick ‘em out of a lineup. – “Mr. Hayter, which bee did you see on the petunia?” – “I’m not sure. Could you get number four to turn sideways?”

Bottom line? Honeybees are rare around here. There are blooms aplenty, but few bees to appreciate ‘em. Maybe they’re waiting for the poppies to bloom. Kay said that she planted corn poppies, not opium. I didn’t even know corn had poppies. I knew Kellogg had Corn Pops, but…

No, I don’t know much. I’m just a guy sitting on a roof tempted to pour syrup on a suet cake. Hey, you were thinking it, too. Don’t say you weren’t. – Later.


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