You’uns ‘re gonna think I’m loco

When I think of how cowboys talk, at least these days, the voices I hear are Chris LeDoux (actual rodeo cowboy as well as one of the last popular — as in, non-niche — cowboy singers) or Keith Carradine.

The cowboy accent does have a drawl — but at the same time a clearer enunciation, by and large, than most Southern accents. I call it “Texas meets Minnesota.” The distinctive cadence is decidedly un-Southern. And one thing you’ll hear more clearly from a cowboy than from a Georgian or Tennessean is the R after a vowel. A Southerner will say “yo’.” A cowboy, “yore.”

Sam Elliot‘s deep baritone voice and slightly slower speech may seem to the unwary ear to be a more typical Southern drawl, but the cadence is still cowboy, recorded at 45 rpm and played back at 33⅓. Besides, Sam grew up in California and Oregon.

The truth is, accents evolve continuously, sounding different from one generation to the next. Today’s Texas accent and modern cowboyese share an ancestor, but having split off long before the advent of the phonograph, let alone radio and television, they’ve followed different evolutionary paths.

Cowboys on the northern plains were more likely to meet up with people speaking the ancestor of today’s upper Midwestern accent as heard in Fargo, while Texans had the Southernness of their accent subtly reinforced rather than subverted.

Since my mustache’s recent growth spurt I’ve been working on sounding less Southern and more western. For when we move back to where folks don’t complain about bad weather, but brag about it.


Future Imperfect

When Mrs. McG and I relocate out west, whoever is elected this November will either be well into his or her second-term slump, or will have been ejected from office the previous leap year by a mob carrying torches and pitchforks into the polling places (where poll workers won’t be sure whether said implements constitute illegal electioneering).

In all seriousness, I can only think of one candidate still in the running today who has a chance of winning a second term. The alternatives would usher in another succession of one-termers, though probably not such as occupied the White House between Andrew Jackson’s retirement in 1837 and Abraham Lincoln’s re-election in 1864.

Jackson was the 7th president, Lincoln the 16th. In between, eight men held the presidency over the course of 24 years, the greatest presidential turnover in American history — but inflated by the in-office deaths of William Harrison and Zachary Taylor. The presidents from Rutherford Hayes through William McKinley might have come close to matching the adjusted rate, except for Grover Cleveland’s two non-consecutive terms and McKinley’s 1900 re-election.

More recent high-turnover periods ran from 1960 to 1992, when seven men held the presidency over a period of 32 years. Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan were re-elected during that period, but only Reagan served two full terms. Kennedy was assassinated, Nixon resigned; Ford, Carter and George H.W. Bush were all denied re-election.

How often have three consecutive presidents served two (or more) full terms, as Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama have (nearly) done? Jefferson, Madison and Monroe did it, as did Franklin Roosevelt, Truman and Eisenhower. And no one else. Three-peated eight-year presidencies are the exception in American politics. A four-peat would be unprecedented.

All this leaves me kind of looking forward to 2020. There have been times I’ve wanted to brandish a pitchfork while at the polls, but I’ve never done it.

Real Estate, 4

No new inquiries, but one of the three has repeated his. Much as I don’t relish the idea of moving with so few more years before we would pull up stakes and move west, we may discover it’s too good a chance to pass up — and if it gets us to a place without highway frontage (however tertiary this highway may be at present) I suppose I could grin and bear it.

If we found a place we liked, and the sellers on one side and the buyer on the other were willing, maybe we could use the proceeds from selling these home acres to buy the new place.

Meanwhile we’ve been talking about taking a serious look around at our more futurely stomping grounds when we visit there this summer, to see what’s available and what would be needed to build the house we want in the kind of location we want.

At present the more remote move is still more real than the purely speculative near(ish)-term one. We’ll see how pushy these would-be buyers get.

Titled Mobility

Eight months from now, if we still own the 2013 Chrysler minivan I’ve taken to calling “The Hippo,” we’ll need to have it emissions-checked before renewing its tags. We don’t want to do that, and with only two drivers in the household now, we don’t need to.

We’ve been keeping the Hippo because the shed we had built on the home acres last year still hasn’t been filled up with the stuff we’ve been keeping in a rented storage unit for the last few years. Neither of our other vehicles has the van’s capacity to move large amounts of stuff in a single load.

But since the shed’s completion we’ve had distractions, just one after another. The shelving is in the shed, but we haven’t gotten around to putting it up.

One of Mrs. McG’s co-workers has apparently expressed interest in the van, so a few days ago she suggested instead of making a project ourselves of hauling the stuff from storage, we hire one of these little “two guys and a truck” moving outfits to do it for us.

In the meantime we could be free of paying for insurance on a vehicle neither of us uses often enough to be worth it, and the carport space it’s been occupying next to the shed could be just the spot for our utility trailer, which has been getting buried under pine needles and leaves in its present spot.

There’s been an outstanding recall on the Hippo almost since we’ve had it; my late mother-in-law’s attempt to have it dealt with last year didn’t work out because the dealership didn’t have the part, but we can afford to leave it there until it’s done, which is what we’ll do tomorrow. I just don’t want to foist that issue on its new owners, whomever they might be.

It took us a couple of years to fill that storage rental. It would take at least all summer to empty it if we did it ourselves, even with the van. And that’s after we’ve gotten the shelving set up.

I’m really glad she suggested hiring the move done instead.


In the last few weeks a certain New York liberal’s quest for the Republican presidential nomination is sounding less like an F-14 Tomcat piling up enemy kills and more like Jack Benny’s Maxwell wheezing to a gentle death while backing out of his driveway.

Where, oh where has the momentum gone?

It doesn’t help that Trump and his campaign organization either don’t know the rules, or (by some accounts) those who do know are prevented from pursuing a successful strategy either by their candidate’s stupidity or because he never actually wanted to win the nomination.

His supporters’ triumphalism (Drumpf-alism?) of last month has given way to a new seething anger at the Republican Party — distinct from the old seething anger at the Republican Party — over what Trump is telling them is a system rigged to thwart the people’s will.

Pointing out to them that Trump never had a majority of the vote before the field narrowed down to two, and that he’s still getting the exact same share of the vote now that it has, makes no dent in the tinfoil. They were drawn to Trump by a preconception that the game was rigged, top to bottom, and the events of this phase of the delegate chase is only confirming that dogma.

Republican voters in New York are Trump’s current focus, as Ohio was Kasich’s (and Kasich hasn’t won any other state), but even if he were to win all 95 delegates that would still leave him 400 delegates shy of the winning 1,237. And Ted Cruz’s multi-pronged strategy has already ensured that Trump cannot win at all unless he wins on the first ballot.

A month ago Donald Trump was widely considered likely to be the 2016 GOP nominee. Now he’s an ineffectual candidate running a hemorrhaging campaign. And some polls are showing him under 50% in New York.

To be honest, I will not be surprised if Ted Cruz arrives at the convention with just enough delegates to win on the first ballot. I don’t see him as the kind of man who bets everything on Plan B.

Conspicuous Lawbreaking

A Wyoming-based online news aggregator tells of a proud trophy hunter tripped up by the conspicuousness of his trophy.

In November of 2015 a non-typical mule deer buck was taken in the Big Piney area by a hunter [after mule deer season had closed in October]…

This case was brought to the [Wyoming Game & Fish Division]’s attention by concerned citizens who had witnessed the mule deer buck on display at the Salt Lake City 2016 Western Hunting and Conservation Expo.

The reporting parties had noticed the same buck in the area after the October mule deer season had closed, they inquired information from the hunter and learned that it had been taken in November and notified the WGFD.

The picture here and those at the link give an idea what “non-typical” can mean, and why the informant had reason to suspect a violation. An animal so conspicuous that photographers were taking pictures of it earlier in the summer should have been a red-flag warning to the hunter in question not to take the shot unless he was absolutely certain it was legal. It was a deer-hunting equivalent of stealing the Mona Lisa and offering it for sale on Craigslist.

Mule deer are distinguished from whitetails by, among other traits, larger ears and, in typical animals, a distinctly different antler pattern. This buck, while non-typical, still obviously had mule-deer antlers.

Timing Is Everything

It’s raining on my lawn this morning, which has — during my current infirmity — gone from the short-stubbly winter carpet it was when last I mowed it six months ago, to a shaggy, unruly (and thistle-flecked) mess.

My scheme had been to make sure I had enough gas in the red can, then use one of the battery chargers in the shop downstairs to see if I could jump-start the mower without using my car, and if that worked, get a pre-shag mow in before replacing the mower battery for yet another season of hot, humid, spiderwebby landscape work.

I’m a whole lot more open to the idea of just hiring a service and being done with it, than I was a few weeks ago.

For the Sake of the Song

The rash is still hardly worth noticing. In fact it remains the least of my symptoms.

I no longer think the biggest nuisance has been deep nerve pain; rather, due to the lidocaine ointment I’m no longer using, I was misinterpreting the pain, which has turned out to be stubborn muscle cramping in a group that’s not so easy to stretch loose.

Which finally led me to relocate temporarily to a spare bed with a much firmer mattress, offering support our superannuated Select Comfort bed no longer can. This morning I awoke with that same pesky pain in that same pesky place, but it has disappeared now, without medication. If it returns I will be ruthless, but I’m hopeful the improved sleeping conditions will have turned the tide.

Let the Devil Take Tomorrow

There are three aspects about this personal comfort crisis I’m going through, that I’m having to learn for myself.

One is that the rash, and the relatively shallow nerve pain associated with it, are easy enough to deal with, though the process is unpleasant. The ointment they prescribed is an anaesthetic that’s very good at penetrating the skin and numbing for some ways down, right where you put it. When it wore off the first day I was using it, the returning skin-deep irritation was so far within my normal margin of discomfort that I didn’t reapply it until bedtime.

But this thing isn’t necessarily always limited to shallow nerves. And if the pain is down close to the big muscles in the hamstring chain, there is no sleep sound enough to stay closed over it.

So I move around and stretch out as best I can to work the knots out, and for a man of my age and weight class I’m finding I can make my hip and knee joints do things that could probably have gotten me a spot on Johnny Carson, back in the ’70s or so. Not to brag, but even when I weighed near 400 pounds my range of movement was more limited by my clothing than anything else.

Which led me one night to wondering whether a dislocated hip could keep me in the hospital until this thing ran its course. At least Mrs. McG would sleep better.

Last night, between the ointment and a muscle relaxant scrip I still had from my first, misdiagnosed round, I managed to get the cramping under control pretty easily. But that bone-deep nerve pain is less tractable. I think I wound up just falling asleep for lack of any other strategy. I have a much higher pain threshold than a lot of people I know, but it’s a skill rather than an inborn trait.

I can train myself for this, if it lasts long enough, but this far into an ordeal that is costing me so much sleep, the long term is not high on my list of priorities.