Saturday, February 27, 2010

Hungry Squirrel

We tossed a few kernels of corn out the back door and they promptly disappeared in the snow.  This morning I happened to see a small squirrel having a field day around the back stoop, finding the kernels lost in the snow and satisfying his appetite.  I suppose he finds them by the smell.  He didn't seem to mind having his picture taken or having me standing so close to him; I was about three feet away, albeit partially hidden by the back door.

Snow Storms and Trips

Today I was out in the lousy weather running errands and generally trying to make someone else's life a little easier.  Ain't I a great person?  Don't I got class?  I'm told that running around in weather like this builds character.  If that's true, I have accumulated a year's supply in one afternoon.  I'll have to warehouse some of it.

This snowstorm is getting set to hammer us with six inches of snow overnight, and there's the promise of more on Saturday.  Guess who doesn't own a snow blower.  I think I'll pour a snort and take a trip down memory lane, otherwise known as bad news alley.

Three years ago today a company in Madison, Wisconsin expressed a very tentative interest in a man of my considerable talents, so I flipped a two headed quarter and decided to give them a chance.  Besides, I was between migraines and my bank account was tanking as fast as the real estate market.  I packed my bag and put my nose into the setting sun, heading for a bright new future.  I hoped.

At that time my younger brother, Shotgun Bob, was living it up in Eau Claire, Wisconsin which is about three hours Northwest of Madison.  I called Bob and told him I was headed for Madison on a job interview, and he told me to come on up to Eau Claire for a little vacation.  I could stay at his place and we'd open a brand new bottle of Beefeaters gin, Bob would buy me dinner at Houligans restaurant and we'd generally live it up a little.  Since Houligans is one of the select few restaurants worth traveling across the country to patronize, I didn't hesitate in accepting his kind offer.

My trip out was uneventful, and the interview was a success.  Around 2:00 PM the director of I.S. told me that a near fatal snow storm was on the way, and if I wanted to get out of town I should leave now, right now, without fooling around.  He sounded serious, so I put it on the street and called Bob to beg off.

"What the Hell for?"  Bob wanted to know.  I explained about the snow storm and good old Shotgun Bob blew my concerns right off.  "Storm?  What storm?  They'll only get an inch or two, and anyway it's going to miss us up here in Eau Claire.  Come on up!"

I needed some convincing.  Not to put too fine a point on things, but my brother has been known to be overly optimistic on occasion.  Some have called him short sighted.  Then there was that business with the white gas and the campfire.

"You sure it'll miss Eau Claire?"  I really wanted to get up to Eau Claire, you see.

"Sure.  Absolutely!  I've been watching and it'll hit 'way East of us."  Bob was full of confidence, which was not unusual.

"Okay.  I'm making a U-turn and heading for Eau Claire.  See you in a few hours."  And so I did.

The short of it was that we had a great evening.  We had a drink or two, then went over to Houligans for a five star gourmet meal.  I ordered the Irish Whiskey Tenderloin Tips which is a signature dish at Houligans, and naturally we had to order desert.

We ran into people at the bar that were friendly and one little bar maid thought I was cute.  Another waitress, a real hottie, thought Bob was cute but we were on our way out and I think Bob failed to notice.  I did observe that a little snow was falling, just kind of a light powder, and I recall making a joke about the snow storm everyone was worried about.

Foolish me.

Here's what my car looked like when I got up the next morning.

I didn't even bother brushing it off or trying to drive out.  The roads were as bad as my car looked, so I remained in Eau Claire at Bob's, watched a movie or two and generally relaxed until evening, whereupon we went out again and had a good time at Houligans.  Bob drove, his truck having stayed in the garage all day.

The following day I got my car cleaned off, threw my bag in the trunk and headed East for the Glass City.  The streets were bad in Eau Claire, but surely the State government of Wisconsin would have the highways cleared by now - or is that the Federal government that is supposed to handle that?  The highway didn't look so good to me.

Well, I thought, maybe it's just the city of Eau Claire not doing the job.  I continued to drive out of town in the face of opposition.

Clearly I needed some convincing to turn back.  I was making about 35 on the highway, less on patches of ice.  Then I passed this little mishap.

Perhaps this truck driver's misfortune was caused by a momentary lapse in concentration.  Maybe it was just bad judgment, or maybe a stupid motorist cut the trucker off and he swerved to avoid killing a family of five... okay, maybe he was really dumb, like me, and decided that the roads would get better later on.

I went back to Shotgun Bob's house and waited another day.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Who knew that this would be the start of something? On November 30, 2005 Clay Hausenfleck, his two children and his girl friend moved into their new home in the Lincoln Woods neighborhood. Here's the notice from the Toledo Blade real estate transfer, which I stumbled over on my way to my morning bourbon: Judith Weiss Crouch to Clay Hausenfleck, 6945 Williamsburg Dr., Sylvania, $193,600. (11/30)

Bright and early Friday morning on August 28, 2009 the quiet neighborhood is turned into a crime scene and attendant media circus. It seems that three men and a woman armed themselves and broke into Clay's home. Being no slouch, Clay hauls out his gat and puts some lead in the air, reducing the criminal element of our fair city by one felon: The Lucas County Coroner's Office confirmed to FOX Toledo that the Toledo man, identified as 28-year-old Louis M. Mason, was shot twice in the back. Presumably the other three criminals fled when the shooting started. The local talking heads interviewed a few neighbors who were properly outraged by the whole thing. The room temperature criminal is Louis Mason, who broke into the home and was shot by Clay. Louis is described as a fun-loving young man courtesy of The Blade, who neglects to mention that Louis was armed. He was a real funny fellow, was Louis. We'll miss him. Two of the other three are arrested later on by Sylvania police. They are Billy D. Wilkinson, 33, of 5123 Ryan Rd. and Julie Britton, 25, of 2345 Saint Roberts Lane. The third, David A. Irving, 31, of 3907 Bancroft St. is arrested by federal marshals in Flagstaff, Arizona. Nice job, federal marshals.

Possibly of greater interest to everyone are the 200 Cannabis sativa plants that the police find growing in the basement. Well, these things happen.

The grand jury refuses to indict Clay on murder charges , which is fitting. Clay enters a plea of not guilty to all drug charges in spite of the evidence against him. Well, why not? Clay has nothing to lose and everything to gain. The commercial media continues to misrepresent the home invasion by referring to the criminal, Louis Mason, as a young man who apparently broke into the home and was subsequently shot twice in the back by Clay. No mention is made of Mason being armed.

Clay Hausenfleck made bail and cut a deal with the prosecutor, where Clay admits to growing marijuana and enters a guilty plea to one count each of possession of marijuana and illegal cultivation of marijuana. Clay faces up to 10 years in prison when sentenced Feb. 22. However, the Toledo Blade informs us that As part of the plea agreement, a count of trafficking in marijuana will be dismissed, the felony level of the cultivation charge was reduced, and the prosecutor's office will recommend that Hausenfleck be sentenced to community control. The idea that Clay gets to run around on an electronic leash is unacceptable to me.

I will not criticize Clay Hausenfleck for defending his home against an invasion, armed or not. We are well rid of Louis Mason and with any luck at all his partners will be sent to prison for their part in the home invasion. I don't care if someone wants to smoke some pot in the privacy of their own home. That's their business. Furthermore, I know that the pot they smoke has to come from somewhere, meaning someone has to grow it, and I don't care much about that either. What bothers me is this: Clay Hausenfleck decided to get into the pot business, and instead of renting a trailer or a barn somewhere, this recreational substance entrepreneur set up shop in his basement. This means that during harvest time the rest of us get to live in a drug dealer's neighborhood, complete with SUVs blasting rap music at two in the morning while they drive around trying to find Clay's place so they can make a buy, the possibility of a gun fight breaking out in the street and the petty theft and vandalism that these mental midgets bring with their cash. I really do not want to put up with this crap. I'd also like to know just how an electronic ankle bracelet is going to prevent Clay from setting up shop again. The Lucas County prosecutor, Julia Bates, doesn't seem to share my view on putting Clay away for a while. I would suppose it's easier for her to accept a plea bargain rather than do her job and prosecute the criminal.

By contrast, Main Lady doesn't like any of it and wants Hausenfleck sent away for life without possibility of parole or sent away for 99 years, whichever is longer. Taking a horsewhip to Hausenfleck in the village square possibly has a certain appeal to Herself as well, though She won't admit it.

In order to restore some semblance of tranquility to the household, I suggested that Main Lady and I each write a letter to Judge Stacy Cook and tell her we'd like Hausenfleck to do some prison time. My suggestion was met with enthusiasm well beyond my expectations, and unable to let well enough alone I also suggested that Main Lady design a little flier with the judge's name and address on it along with a helpful paragraph or two explaining the seriousness of the situation and why we should write. The very next day I was pushed outdoors into the bitter cold winter weather with a stack of fliers. I'm a genius.

Here's the flier I personally distributed to homes in Lincoln Woods:

Dear Lincoln Woods Neighbor,

Clay Hausenfleck, who lives on Williamsburg Dr, pleaded guilty to growing a huge quantity of marijuana in his basement - which brought armed robbers into our peaceful neighborhood (one of whom he killed). Prosecutors are recommending that he not receive a prison sentence.

If you are among those of us who feel that this crime should result in imprisonment, please write ASAP to express your opinion to the judge. The final decision about his punishment is up to her.

Judge Stacy L. Cook
Lucas County Common Pleas Court 4th Floor - Courtroom #8
700 Adams St.
Toledo OH 43604-5678

Excerpt of article published in the Blade on January 23, 2010
Sylvania man guilty of growing marijuana - Plants found after intruder shot, killed

After stating the Sylvania address where he lives with his wife and children, Clay Hausenfleck admitted in Lucas County Common Pleas Court yesterday that he grew numerous marijuana plants in his home - more than 1,000 grams worth.

"I did knowingly grow marijuana in my basement," he told Judge Stacy Cook during a brief hearing.

Hausenfleck, 46, who killed an intruder at his home in August, pleaded guilty to one count each of possession of marijuana and illegal cultivation of marijuana. He faces up to 10 years in prison when sentenced Feb. 22.

Hausenfleck called 911 about 1 a.m. Aug. 28 to report he had shot an intruder. Officers found the body of Louis M. Mason, 28, of Toledo, who died of two gunshot wounds.

They also said they found about 200 marijuana plants growing in the basement at 6945 Williamsburg Drive. It was later determined Hausenfleck had 1,285 grams, or nearly 3 pounds of marijuana.

A grand jury declined to indict Hausenfleck for murder but indicted him on three drug charges.

As part of the plea agreement, a count of trafficking in marijuana will be dismissed, the felony level of the cultivation charge was reduced, and the prosecutor's office will recommend that Hausenfleck be sentenced to community control.

What truly surprised me was the reaction I got from the neighbors. Some refused to answer the door, peering at me from the safety of their living room windows. Who or what did they think I was? Others were completely apathetic or were afraid to get involved, and I believe that these people comprised the majority. I did meet three neighbors (all women) that were very vocal in their support of a letter writing campaign and agreed that we didn't need a drug dealer in Lincoln Woods. According to the local commercial news service, ABC, ...some of Clausenfleck's [Clay Hausenfleck's] neighbors wrote Judge Cook asking that he face prison time for growing the drugs and bringing armed robbers into a normally peaceful neighborhood.

Clay got three years in the slammer.

See you, Clay.