What is a "tiehacker"?

"Tiehacker" is a term originating in the Ozark hills of southern Missouri. It referred to a class of people from WAY back in the hills that made a living cutting trees into ties for the railroad. I first heard the term from my wife shortly after we married. I had been working outside all day and was dirty and stinky. She had learned it from her father, and thought it just meant "a bum". Never having heard it before, I looked it up. Although I am not really a bum, I thought it was interesting, and I do have a life-long love affair going with the Ozark hills, so ... there you have it!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

A family loss, a pet saved, and more ...

We lost my mother-in-law a month ago. At age 92, Mary Miles Hicks finally went home to be with the Lord. I haven't written about that yet, because we are still trying to come to grips with it. But soon I will devote some space here for that wonderful woman, whose greatest accomplishment, in my eyes at least, was giving birth to the Debster.


Well, I didn't make it to the gym today. That makes five years in a row now! A new record! Go me!


Earl and Bubba were sitting in the boat, quietly fishing and drinking beer and chewing 'baccy. Earl suddenly says, "I think I'm gonna divorce the Wife. She ain't spoke to me in months."

Bubba thinks on it for a spell, leans overboard to spit, takes a long slow drink of beer, and finally says, "Well, you better think that over some more. A woman like that is mighty hard to find."


Mom didn't live long enough to see her beloved Cardinals choke in the NLCS against the Giants. She would have been very disappointed in her team. I know I am. But, they are still my team, and always will be. A TRUE fan is ALWAYS a fan, even when things don't go as well as we would like. Those fair-weather "fans" that bailed just because the Cards lost the series can go sip their wine and stick their snoots in the air. The rest of us will root for the Kansas City Royals, the other Missouri team, to whip the Giants all the way back to California and into the Pacific Ocean in the World Series. And then, we will sit and stare out the window and wait longingly for Spring Training to begin again in February.


Gotta give a shout-out to my wonderful niece, Jessica Johnson. She trained as a veterinary technician, and it came in useful for us this week. 

The Debster has an old black cat named Bull. The other day, she asked me if I had seen the cat recently. I thought about it and replied that I hadn't seen him in a couple days. Now, the cat has had a habit in the past of staying out of sight for long periods, only making his presence known if his food, water, or litter box needs attention, so I hadn't paid any attention.

Well, later that day, I went into the pantry in the basement, and found Bull on the floor curled up in a corner. I thought for a second he was dead, but he opened one eye and looked at me, then closed it again. But he wasn't moving.

I picked him up and took him into my office. The Debster called Jess to see if she had any ideas. Jess came over and checked him out. She thought he might have low blood sugar from not eating right. (The dogs sometimes steal his food when he isn't looking, and we don't always catch that right away.)

So, on her advice, we fed him a little Karo corn syrup, just a few drops off the end of the Debster's finger. He perked up some. We got some good moist food, and he nibbled at that, again off the Debster's finger. So, we put him in a box with bowls of food (dry and moist) and water, and continued giving him a little Karo a couple times a day.

Three days later, he is wandering around and pestering everybody, just like his old self. He's lost a little weight, and seems just a little weak and wobbly yet, but definitely on the mend.

Thanks, Jess!


Many of you have probably heard of the puzzle game Sudoku. I have been doing them for quite some time myself. Well, recently, I discovered a new puzzle game, called "Kakuro". The only place I have seen it is in the web version of our local St. Louis Post-Dispatch newspaper (StlToday.com), under the Entertainment / Comics & Games tab.

It is a lot like a numeric crossword puzzle. 

Here is one from the other day:

Here are the rules, as they appear on the website:

And here is the completed puzzle:

I wish I could find a print version of this that I could take to work with me, to work on during slack periods.


Speaking of work, I mentioned before that the company I work for had lost its contract with the railroad, and we were all going to lose our jobs. Well, God is good! The company that is taking over the contract has agreed to hire most of us, at our current pay rates. There will be some losses in terms of accrued vacation and so forth, it won't be a union shop, and in general perhaps not quite as good to work for all around. But, at least I will continue working, pretty much as if nothing happened. Same thing, just in a different vehicle. 

Actually, in that respect, I'm looking forward to that aspect of it. The Ford Expeditions that the new company is bringing in are much better suited to the rough'n'tumble usage in a railroad yard than the Dodge Grand Caravans we have been driving. The Dodges are great vans for family use on regular roads, but just aren't built for the rough bouncing and pot-hole filled gravel pits that pass for roadways within the railyard.


That's enough for today. As always, thanks for reading, and may God bless you!