Friday, May 31, 2013

My Thursday

My wife got up in the wee hours this morning and did a bit TOO much work around the house and wore herself out. Then she fell backwards as she is sometimes prone to do and hurt her back a bit, but not seriously. As a result, I didn’t go job-hunting as I’d planned, but just spent some time with her. We got some lunch out, I ran a couple errands and we came back home the long way. She lay down and rested a while, and I napped a bit myself.

About six o’clock, I fixed me a cold-cut sandwich and started mowing the yard. Last week’s rain had made it really sprout up. I don’t know why it is, but it seems like I always end up mowing the yard just when I wish that I could pick some more greens. I mowed off some nice sheep-sorrel, plantain, violet and dandelion plants today and cringed as I did so. I raked some more leaves from under the porch and mulched them. I’m guessing that it will take four more times to get them all. They’ve been accumulating under there for several years, since they’re really hard to get to there. I need to underpin the porch to keep them from blowing in, but we can’t agree on what to use for underpinning, so we do nothing. Hmmmmmm……I may have just thought of a compromise that I’ll have to run by her.

After I mowed, we finished off a small watermelon we had left over from yesterday. She’d cut it (I had actually) with her new handy-dandy watermelon cutter. It looks like an apple-corer/slicer on steroids, with thin steel blades around a center circle. It takes a man, or a stout woman, to use it and you have to cut the ends off the melon first to get it to cut. The outside ring is made of plastic, so it won’t TAKE too much pressure. We eat maybe three or four watermelons a year and she goes and gets that silly gadget! She’s a gadget freak, so it’s par for the course. She grabbed the center “core” before I could, the little stinker!

After eating watermelon, undeveloped seeds and all (I suspect it was supposed to be “seedless.), I ate a handful of pumpkin seeds, and some corn chips and guacamole, plus I finished off some popcorn I’d gotten at Wally-World days ago. Knowing what watermelon CAN do to me and what corn products nearly ALWAYS do to me, I took and anti-diarrhea pill for dessert. Then I sat on the hall floor with the dog and went online with my laptop while watching the boob-tube with the missus. Then, I wrote this garbage (after throwing out the REAL garbage out for the possums and taking the dog out for the last time before bed). Hope your day was more exciting. © 2013

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day Weekend

Amongst other things, my wife and I went to a couple cemeteries Saturday. She put a flag at her father’s grave, and at the grave of her first husband. While she was doing the latter, I put a couple little sprigs of flowers on the graves of some relatives whose kids and grandkids never visit. I went back to the truck to give my wife some time with the only man she ever loved. Understandably, she gets watery-eyed at such times, so I let her have her privacy. Eventually, she called to me and asked if I’d help her down the long steep bank to the road where we were parked. As we both hobbled down the bank, we joked that if either of us fell, they’d take the other along and we’d break our necks together. Old age ain’t for sissies, they say. Later, I picked up a couple “Mortgage Lifter” tomato plants at Wally-World.

Yesterday (Sunday), along with other things, we dropped by another cemetery and I put flags on the graves of three uncles. The other cousins aren’t getting around too good anymore, so when I’m no longer able to put out flags, I guess their graves will go unnoticed. One of them has two stones—one shared with his first wife who died young, where he was supposed to be buried, and one he shares with his second wife where his body actually lies. Everyone liked the second wife, and she actually spent more time with my uncle than his first wife, but we were a little disappointed that she’d do such a thing. There are several plots between the two stones, but at the time, there was an empty slot right beside my aunt and uncle’s marker on his side, so she could have been buried beside him anyway. I could never understand how she couldn’t share a dead man’s bones. The REAL “him” wasn’t there anyway.

Late in the day yesterday, I planted my two tomato plants with the Jerusalem artichokes, since there was room for them inside the little rail fence I put up to protect them from deer. I hope they’re compatible. I put a couple tire casings around my hill of volunteer potatoes, but I didn’t get any dirt put in the tires yet. They should be safe from the deer a few days, though I’d better get some wire around them soon.

I was noticing how many veterans’ graves were undecorated this year. Even many of their kids are dead by now, and the younger generation doesn’t seem to care. Also, like some folks I know, there are people who just can’t handle the emotion, so don’t ever visit their relative’s graves. That in turn teaches their kids not to go, so the graves go untended and forgotten.

We’re not doing anything special today, nor have we this weekend. My wife refuses to invite anyone up, and has for years, so no-one invites us over anymore either. Fair is fair, I figure, so I don’t blame them. Most people just eat and run anymore anyway, so I guess it’s no big deal. We’ll spend our time reminiscing about old days and family get-togethers as we pass our day alone. Come tomorrow we’ll be glad to greet the week.

I put a question on Facebook this morning; to quote, “If Jesus comes today right after the barbeque, will you be ready?” With the world in the shape it’s in right now, I think it’s a valid question. © 2013

Sunday, May 26, 2013

A Quote From ME

"There are those in positions of power who truly wish to subdue the common man into near nothingness. What they fail to understand is that when people have nothing left to lose and nothing to live for, they start seeking causes to die for." © 2013

Friday, May 24, 2013

Lookin’ For Work, Dissin’ Da Prez And Takin’ A Walk

I left resumes at some auto dealers this morning for driver’s positions. A lot of folks don’t realize it, but they have folks who transfer cars from auctions, shuttle customers while their cars are being repaired and deliver parts. One large local dealer has TWENTY-FIVE drivers. Most of them are part-time, but hey, ya gotta start SOMEWHERE!

After a fast-food lunch, I took my wife to some stores she wanted go to, then we headed for our little cabin in the woods. On the way home, we stopped at the little country cemetery down the road from where I was raised and I put a flag on my dad’s grave. At home, we did a few chores and then watched the evening news.

The MSM somberly reported on tornado country, thrilled to have an excuse to ignore the treason occurring in the nation’s capitol. AND, our fearful leader gave Medals of Honor to the four little black girls killed by a bomb back in the 60’s, as they attended church. Those little girls are now with Jesus, I’m sure, while their killer is suffering the fires of hell, I suspect. BUT, that doesn’t make the girls “heroes.” My first gripe is that, being female, they would rightfully be called “HEROINES,” but there’s apparently something shameful about being a female these days. Another thing is that they are VICTIMS, NOT heroines, because they did nothing brave to earn that title. That isn’t to their discredit, but it IS a discredit to the man who chose to make racial and political hay from their tragic deaths. You can be sure that our panty-waist president would never have given such recognition to four little white girls.

After supping on a bite of this and a bite of that, I took my new walking stick on its maiden journey. I didn’t go far—a patrol of the lawn’s perimeter and a short stroll to the little graveyard across the way. During my travels, I made some observations. My little patch of Jerusalem artichokes responded well to the rain we got from the tail-end of the “tornado system” that was only a series of thunderstorms by the time it got here. I apparently missed a couple small potatoes when I harvested my two-hill “crop” last fall. Guess I’ll have to put a tire around them and throw in some dirt.

I’ve got a good crop of Black Indian Hemp coming on at the northern edge of my lawn (as usual), and wish I could find the time to try making some cordage with it. Something is causing the leaf edges of one of my apple seedlings to turn brown; I’m a bit concerned about that. I saw a poke weed along the south edge of the lawn. I guess I could let it grow and save the seeds for my planned but yet unplanted “poke patch.” The old-fashioned irises that I brought from my old homeplace are blooming well this year. One lone VERY HEALTHY Four O’clock is blooming to a fare-ye-well. It showed up about three feet from where I originally planted the now defunct clump that I brought here from my grandparent’s home many years ago. Gracious, the lawn needs mowed again already!

My staff felt good in my hand. It was more useful to this old geezer than I might normally admit, but hey, it was a test run! I put it back under the tonneau cover on the back of the truck and locked it up before sitting on the edge of the front porch a few minutes. By that time, the warmth of the house seemed like a good idea, so I headed in to spend the rest of the evening with the pooch and the little woman. © 2013

A New Walking Stick

It’s been several years since I’ve had a dedicated walking stick for my increasingly rare rambles in the woods. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I used to have one, but gave it away. After too many years of working a job where I sat all the time, I’m many pounds too heavy and, even worse, in frighteningly poor wind. Just looking at a flight of stairs these days makes me pant for air. So recently, when weather permits, I’ve been taking a daily constitutional to get my blood flowing to parts it may have forgotten. Considering that I live in the country, I’ve been wishing that I still had my old walking stick.

A couple years ago, I spotted a small maple that had succumbed to crowded conditions and thought that it would make a good walking stick. So, I grubbed it out, root-ball and all, and whacked it off about six feet long. I later cut off the individual roots leaving the knob where they joined, then cut the stick so I had to raise my chin just a tad to rest it on the end of the staff. For me, that turned out to be 63 inches. That’s a good height to rest my hands on when I want to lean on the pole a bit, plus it’s a good level for steadying a camera or a pair of binoculars. Apparently, the little maple had spent at least one season standing dead, for the bark at what could be called the root collar (ground level) was a little loose and the sapwood beneath it was a tiny bit punky on the surface. After taking off the loose bark and punky wood with my penknife, I stuck the piece in the basement and forgot about it.

Yesterday, having decided to write about my old walking stick, I also decided that it was time that I had a new one. Remembering and searching out the stick I’d put in the basement, I took some sandpaper to the knob to smooth up the edges where I’d cut the roots off with a bow-saw. I also smoothed the rest of the staff a bit, but not too much, so it wouldn’t be slick in my aging hands. Like me, it’s still a bit rough around the edges. I figured leaving the bark on would not only be quicker, but would be more in keeping with my “crusty” character. When I worked at a muzzle-loader shop years ago, they used a 50/50 mix of rubbing alcohol and boiled linseed oil to put some moisture in wood they didn’t want a shine on. I did the same with my stick. I also hoped it might kill any powder-post beetles that made the half-dozen little holes in the root collar area if they were still alive. Afterwards, I put a one inch, black cane tip on the bottom of the stick, since I’m more likely to run into pavement on my walks than I used to be be.

The finished product should last my remaining years and is shown in the photo below. (The linseed hadn’t all soaked in yet when I snapped the picture.) © 2013

Thursday, May 23, 2013

"Good Medicine" Wasted

Like most country kids from the old school, I grew up with a walking stick in my hand. Whether looking for the cattle or just hiking, a third “foot” made walking on our West Virginia hillsides a little easier. On really steep hillsides, I’d sometimes end up with a staff in each hand. A walking stick also came in handy for extending your arm when handling cattle (NOT beating them), putting the bluff on strange dogs and for killing the occasional copperhead. I never had to use one for that purpose, but I always felt a little better knowing that if I ever had to defend myself against man or beast, at least I wasn’t empty-handed.

Sometimes, we’d use native saplings for our sticks, but since we had a sawmill, our sticks were often stout edging strips from the mill. Frequently, there would be a collection of them leaning against the house outside the kitchen door, ready for any family member or guest. At times, you could tell if you had company by the strange sticks outside the door. Other times, you knew who they were because they brought their favorite stick and put it with the others while they visited.

When I was in my mid teens, my dad and I were working in the woods one day as the leaves were beginning to turn. As I grubbed out a dogwood tree by the roots, I noticed it was a good size for a walking stick. Rather than trim off the limbs, I left them on, so the leaves would continue to draw sap from the trunk. Leaving it at one edge of the clearing, I waited a few days until the leaves all dried up and then trimmed off the limbs. When I returned to the barn that day, I put a loop of baling twine on the root end and hung it up out of the weather. I left the bark on so the stick wouldn’t dry too quickly and crack.

The following summer, I cut the roots off with a bow-saw and cut the stick long enough that I had to raise my chin slightly to rest my chin on it. The bark had dried tight to the stick, so it had to be whittled off with my Barlow. I then rounded the “corner” around the top of the stick and kept whittling until all the saw marks from the bow-saw were gone. I didn’t sand it, but left the little facets from the knife cuts to show. I scraped all traces of remaining bark off the stick with my knife and then carved checkering on the bottom end for traction. I prefer a wooden tip over metal for my part of the country. Lastly, I rubbed some mineral oil onto it. It wasn’t white, but it was a lighter color than I really cared for, but it felt good in my hand.

That staff was a frequent companion until I eventually married a second time. During those years, it helped bring in the cows, aided my ascent of many a steep hill, was a steadying force when walking through the swift water of mountain streams and walked with me on many a mountain trail and woodland path. I had to recarve the checkering on the bottom end of the stick a couple times, and probably re-oiled it with mineral oil a couple times over the years. It had gradually turned a warm, toasty gold color. My hands sliding on and gripping the staff over the years had given it a slight sheen. Eventually, though, the cows were gone and my days in the woods were rare and getting rarer.

Eventually, I found myself working in a factory and friends with a fellow worker a few years older than myself. He was a millwright and had done a lot of “government work” for me over the years and I was always looking for ways to help even the score. After a knee operation, he was having some trouble getting around, and I decided to give him my walking stick. I told him its story and where all it had been and what it had done. I wanted him to understand how special the walking stick was to me, so he would realize how special his friendship was to me. I told him, mostly joking, that the Indians would consider such an item “good medicine,” and that if he took good care of it, it would take good care of him.

I inwardly shuddered when the first words from his mouth were that he should dip the top end in a bucket of rubber coating to give him a better grip. I smiled and told him that might ruin the “good medicine” and suggested he not cover up the hand-whittled top. A few months later, when I asked if he was getting any use out of the stick, he told me that he’d broken it weeks earlier PRYING ON A LOG! I could have strangled him! Lesson learned. Good medicine isn’t transferable to those with bad judgment. © 2013

Monday, May 20, 2013

Another Mess Of Greens

We’d bought breakfast out, since my wife’s car was in the shop for some repairs. After we ate, she beat in a little time at the mall, while I went online to do a few things. After picking up her car, we came home. We ate no lunch per se; we just sort of “pieced around,” as the old folks used to call it—a bite of this and a piece of that. I was getting a bit hungry by supper time and ate some cereal, but that didn’t quite do it.

It had been a while since I fixed my first mess of wild greens, so I went out into the yard looking for some edibles. The mix changed a bit from last time. It ran mostly plantain and violets, with a little dandelion, sheep sorrel, heal-all and sassafras leaves. I knew sassafras was edible from its use as filet in southern cooking, and from drinking the tea made from its root bark. They had enough flavor raw that I was rather sparing in adding them. As it turned out, I could have used more sassafras, since the strong flavor cooked out.

As last time, I rinsed the greens well, boiled them for 10 minutes, added butter and salt and enjoyed them. As a side dish, I finished off a piece of drying French baguette that needed eaten. It was improved with a slathering of butter and a slice of cheese. I washed it all down with a bottle of cold water. I smiled to think my supper might have been very similar to that eaten by my French peasant ancestors a millennium ago. The farthest known ancestor back on that side was supposedly named “Herbert de Forest,” or as I jokingly call him, “Herbie from the woods.” Funny, where a meal of greens can take you. © 2013

Sunday, May 19, 2013

A Mother’s Love

I’ve heard a few people over the years say that the mother who adopts can NEVER love her child as much as the one who carries a child. After more than a half-century of observation, I can say in all certainty that statement is a lie. I’ve seen too many doted-on adoptees and too many abused natural children to buy into that crap. Love is love; you either have it or you don’t.

The same can be said for the animal world. I’ve seen cow’s that ignored their own young, and other cows that would let any youngster nurse. The latter can be good or bad, depending on if you are aware of it and how you manage it. We’ve probably all seen pictures of one species of animal adopting a youngster of another—cats adopting baby squirrels—dogs letting pigs or kittens nurse. As humans, we may not understand it, but it happens.

When my dad was a kid, my grandma had an old setting hen they used to raise replacements for the flock. You could have put an eight-ball under that hen and she would have tried to hatch it. A neighbor once gave Grandma a half-dozen duck eggs and she put them under the old hen. Every one of them hatched! The old hen proudly led the ducklings around the barnyard and pasture teaching them how to hunt bugs and such, and they thrived.

With my grandparent’s home being only a hundred yards from Waddington Creek, though, it wasn’t long before floodwater covered the lower pasture for a few hours. Over where the slope started up toward the chicken house, the water was probably only six inches deep, but it was enough for those little ducklings to discover and swim in! They took to it like…….well….like ducks to water. The poor hen, though, was certain her babies would drown. Frantically, she ran back and forth along the “shore,” screeching and calling to them and trying to get them to come back on solid ground where any sensible chicken would remain. Eventually, they tired of their fun, or got hungry, and followed mama back toward the henhouse. Only then did mama calm down.

NO-ONE could have convinced that hen that those weren’t HER babies! And so it goes with people. Love is found where love is found, and where it exists, none is stronger than that of a mother, natural or adoptive. © 2013

It's 5 AM

The little dog must be glad for the opportunity to go out, since she's lying in the middle of the floor in the semi-darkness of the back room, with her tail wagging. My wife lies asleep a few feet away. I give her the "pick-up" that she was hoping for and she rewards me with a lick to my beard. My beard saves me from the less than pleasant sensation of doggy slobber. I put her down at the door and put on my rubber mocs and pick up the flashlight. Then we step out onto the dark porch.

It seems to me that the only glow in the east is from the big security light out by the road. Dad had it put in when he had the sawmill here and we never had it taken down. My wife won't LET me take it down now, even if it WOULD save us about $8 a month. I can't blame her, it makes aiming easier, so we keep it.

The neighborhood roosters must see light that I don't. One is crowing at the home of our neighbor to the north, about 300 yards away. Another sounds off at the second mobile home to the south, about 200 yards distant. Two whippoorwills to the east, on the ridge behind the empty McMansion across the road, refuse to concede the night and sing on. A steady rustling in the trees around us reminds me that it's trying to blow in some rain today. There's no dew when we step down into the grass.

The dog squats and drains, then stands up looking relieved. I check her with a with paper towel to see if there's any trace of the urinary tract infection we've been fighting, but all is well. The cranberries I'm feeding her must be working. Then, before I can take her to the area that I save for such things, she quickly hunkers and pops out a rock-hard deposit. She looks up at me with a sneaky look on her face when I scold her for her ill manners, then gives a whole-body shake as if to say, "There, I feel better!" No doubt she does.

We move to the porch. I don't think either of us want to go in, but standing here in the darkness in my skivvies, I know the mosquitoes will soon find me if I tarry too long. The breeze is still whispering in the trees and the roosters and the whippoorwills are still disputing the time of day as I close the door behind us. Soon, the little dog will return to her bed, and I'll go upstairs to mine. © 2013

Uncle Charlie’s Husking Peg

I was reminded of one of my great half-uncles today. Looking through my desk drawer, I came across a husking peg he’d made. For folks who don’t know what a husking peg is, it’s a small, pointed, dowel-like piece of wood held in the hand, which is inserted into the silk end of an ear of field corn and then rammed down the length of the ear, ripping a slot in the husks surrounding the ear. That allows you to pop the ear out that slot and break off the husk. Usually a leather loop went around the thumb or the two fingers next to the thumb, so you wouldn’t drop it while working. The simple tool, about five inches long and a half-inch thick, lay in the drawer of the Hoosier cabinet in the kitchen of our farm home from my earliest memory until the time my mother finally sold her personal items and moved to town. It was one of the few things in the home that I ended up with, since I don’t believe in paying for family heirlooms.

Charles Devol was an older half-brother of my paternal grandmother. He lied about his age to get into the Army, probably about the time of the Spanish-American War. He went to France during World War I and got gassed in the trenches, but recovered. He went on to be a 30 year man. I heard he made Master Sergeant; I know he was a gunnery sergeant for most of his career. The only story I remember from his years in the service was that he was stationed at a fort in Texas during the years when they still used horses. The mud was so bad there that scoop shovels were used to clean out the barracks as much as they were to clean the stables. The only other thing I remember hearing was that one day after his retirement, he went up the road to my uncle’s place to help at haying. When he walked into the barn, the big hay fork in the mow dropped unexpectedly and stuck in the barn floor just beyond the toe of his shoe. He stood stock still for a moment, turned white as a sheet, turned on his heel and left without saying a word. He helped his relatives on their farms as long as his health allowed, but then died in a military hospital sometime in the 60’s.

Charlie is the one in front of the doorway of the tent in the picture below. It was probably taken well before his retirement and is the only picture I have of him in uniform. A rather poor photo of the husking peg that he made (probably sometime between 1930 and 1950) is in the photo at the bottom of this post. Not having anyone to leave it to who remembers him, I’ve decided to put it on eBay. © 2013


Friday, May 17, 2013

Better Late Than Never

After looking several days for a place to buy a 3" by 30" piece of black pipe with an end-cap to drive some wooden stakes to hold some wire tubes that I planned to make, I finally had to change plans. Yesterday, I put my hog rings to use and made four 10" by 36" columes of 1/2" hardware cloth. Today, I used some rebar stakes from my trapping days to hold the wire tubes until I make better arrangements. One of the grapes I was wanting to protect got eaten back a couple weeks ago, but it's already put on new leaves. For now, at least, they should be safe.

What I learned from the experience is that large sizes of black iron pipe aren't easy commodities to come by anymore. I checked several places that used to carry a small stock and discovered that they don't stock anything over 2" anymore. Of course the REALLY good places to buy any hardware items now exist only in my memory. The old store-keepers have died off and most folks these days hire contractors to do their plumbing, so the newer stores don't stock the larger sizes. By the time I re-adjusted my thinking and figured out where to get my pipe, I had decided to wait until another time to spend the money. I'm still looking for work,after all. © 2013

War Memories From The Lighter Side

Some memories of war are buried deep by those who carry them, in hopes that they never surface again, though they usually do. However, amusing or stupid things happen all the time, no matter where you may be, so some memories from war are a little more light-hearted. One is about my dad’s Purple Heart. He was in the Philippines during WW II, but the war was over, and life was pretty laid-back where my dad was stationed. I don’t know if they had movies every night, but they were pretty common. One day, he decided to make himself a stool, so he wouldn’t have to sit on the bare ground to watch the movies.

He got some bamboo and some twine and was working away on his creation when he decided that one piece would be better split. He was putting a fair amount of pressure on his trench-knife in the effort when he realized that if the bamboo split all at once (as it was prone to do) that he could stab himself in the leg. Unfortunately, the thought became reality before he could even ease off the pressure on the knife. He felt stupid going to the medic with a self-inflicted stab wound. He felt even more so when, some time later, he was presented with a Purple Heart. He did his best to get them to keep it, knowing that some men had nearly died getting theirs, but no doing, they told him that he had to keep it. He said that he reckoned it could have been worse. Another guy had been boot-legging gasoline when a barrel got away from him and broke his leg. So, HE got a Purple Heart for selling stolen government gasoline. (Sounds sort of like politics; doesn’t it?)

The next memory wasn’t amusing at the time to those in the middle of the situation. Dad and some other GI’s were in the edge of the woods at a field not far from the shore on some Philippine island. In the center of that field, some Filipino troops were climbing onto a truck to be moved elsewhere. As they were about half loaded, a huge Japanese gun back in the mountains dropped a shell a hundred yards or so beyond them. They picked up the pace markedly in boarding the truck. Less than a minute later, another shell hit nearly the same distance to the other side of them. Knowing the third shot would be spot-on, the native soldiers leapt onto the truck willy-nilly, packs, rifles and men literally flying through the air. By the time the third shot would have come, the men and the truck were long gone. It was a life-or-death situation, but even the native soldiers were laughing about how well they could jump, when my dad bumped into them a couple days later. © 2013

Thursday, May 16, 2013

When Profit Becomes Treason

Some of us who know a bit about gun control believe that the Gun Control Act of 1968 was the most damaging blow to the Second Amendment of any legislation yet. Some would reserve that distinction for the Capone-era laws that took machine guns and silencers out of the hands of the average citizen, since it was the first gun law of consequence, but I would disagree. Few Americans used machine guns or silencers, but the law passed in ’68 basically prevented private citizens from getting affordable, bolt-action, military surplus rifles, a common entry-level gun for new hunters back then. I can remember some excellent foreign military rifles selling for as little as $35 in those halcyon days before its passing.

What a lot of folks don’t know is that some American firearms manufacturers actually helped push for that legislation. Years ago, I saw a list of those companies. I wish I’d saved it, for it seems to be nowhere to be found now. You see, they wanted to sell more guns. Unfortunately, some folks who MIGHT have bought one from THEM, chose to buy a military surplus arm instead. Poor folks were just plumb out of luck; since when has anyone TRULY cared about them? In MY mind, those companies were putting their profits ahead of their country, their fellow citizens and the Constitution. I realize that many of those companies have changed ownership in the last four decades, and that most of those in management then are now dead and gone. However, I STILL wish I could find that list!

For one thing, I’d like to compare it to a list of ammunition manufactures currently making millions from those worrisome Department of Homeland Security purchases. Strange thing—I can’t locate any mention of those companies either! (YET!) A lot of factors enter into the current ammo shortage, but the main reason is the suspiciously large volume of ammo being purchased by the DHS. I believe they’re buying that ammo not just to shoot us with, but also to keep it out of our hands so we can’t defend ourselves. (They don’t realize that the folks they REALLY need to worry about probably stocked up under Clinton and have it buried somewhere.)

I don’t hold it against the ammo companies that they took the original order. What I find disgusting is that they took the second round of orders, knowing full well the reasons for those mega-purchases. Several smaller companies have recently refused to sell their firearms and accessories to governments that have passed restrictive gun laws. Obviously, their bottom-lines took a big hit due to their high moral standards. May God bless them for their morals and patriotism!

Now some folks will consider me a reactionary for saying this, but I believe that the gun companies (like the responsible politicians) that supported the Gun Control Act of 1968 were guilty of treason, since they were knowingly weakening the Second Amendment. Considering that we have a government ready and willing to destroy our Second Amendment that is currently buying ammo to shoot American citizens and to keep that ammo out of the hands of those citizens, I think the companies now supplying that government are guilty of treason as well.

There’s nothing that I can do to stop those companies from selling ammo to the government, of course, but if I can find out who they are, I darned sure won’t buy any more of their products! I hope you wouldn’t either. If you know who they are, please respond here. I’ll keep looking for information myself and let you know if I learn anything. © 2013

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Original Nose Ring And It’s Uses

Rings have been put in the noses of unruly animals (and UNWILLING people) for hundreds or, perhaps, thousands of years. A rope or rod fastened to a ring in the nose provided a persuasive method of controlling an animal. The ones in humans were usually to mark the wearer as a slave or servant. The most common use for nose rings in America, however, used to be in keeping swine from rooting.

Despite appearing rather tender to the eye, a pig’s snout can be used by the pig to dig in the ground for grubs and roots with surprising power and dexterity. That’s not a problem if you keep your pigs confined to a small lot, or use your pigs to cultivate your garden. However, if you wish to put your pigs on grass pasture through the summer, they’ll soon turn your land into one big dirt lot if you don’t keep them from rooting. That’s where hog rings come in.

Hog rings are “C”-shaped staples with sharp ends. Using special pliers, a proper-sized ring is clipped either into the top part of the rim of the pig’s snout, or in the flesh between the nostrils. The ends don’t close in a perfect fit, so there is no clean hole through the flesh as when a human gets a piercing. This results in two holes that never completely heal and, in fact, are probably always the site of low-grade infections. When the pig tries to root, the rings cause pain for the pig, so it learns not to root. However, the pig will always root at least a little, and if the ring comes out, the pig quickly unlearns it’s manners.

I don’t think I would ever use rings with pigs, as I think they’re rather inhumane. However, those rings have OTHER uses! My mother did a little upholstery when I was a kid and she frequently used them to fasten cloth together, or to fasten clothe to springs underneath pieces of furniture. It’s a trick that goes way back. Also, the rings are sometimes used in making small animal cages and are nearly always used in putting up chain-link fence. While the rings used for pigs are copper-covered, the ones for cages and fences are galvanized.

Recently, I wanted to make some hardware-clothe cylinders to protect my new grape plants and went looking for hog rings. Times have changed! The hardware stores where I expected to find them knew what they were, but no longer stocked them. Farm supply stores are scarce around here, so I went online and found that I could order them from Home Depot. Hoping that the local store would stock, I found that they didn’t even know what they were. Remembering the Tractor Supply store on the far end of town, I checked there and got a small box of copper-coated ones. Deciding that they might react with the galvanized wire when wet and corrode, I decided to go ahead and order them from Home Depot. When they arrived, I thought they appeared to be more the right size anyway. Below are the two types of staples and the special pliers that are used to install them. Incidentally, the copper ones come in different sizes for different sized pigs, while the galvanized ones come in different sizes for different sized fences. © 2013

The thumb-screw on the pliers allows it to be adjusted for different-sized rings and various amounts of closure.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Watching “Survivor”


I wouldn’t watch the show if I was alone, but my wife likes to watch it, for some reason. It’s just tolerable enough that I watch it with her so she’ll think we’re having some “quality time” together. The show does appeal some to the people-watching side of me. It’s always interesting to see just how low some people will go to get a million dollars (which the government will take half of). Most decent people would never go on a show where they know they’ll have to cheat, lie to, and use other people. The decent folks who DO end up on the show usually get voted off first.

Something a bit different happened this time. A basically decent woman made up her mind that she would lie and mislead like everyone else, in order to have the best shot at winning the game. Then, at the end, they held it against her for acting exactly like themselves. Apparently, they wanted her to be a patsy that THEY could use and throw away! In my years of watching, I've never seen a more angry, bitter jury (comprised of also-rans).A little oriental girl that was a real witch last time, seemed to be a changed person in this game, but when she didn’t get the million dollars, she showed that she was as mean, cruel and vindictive as ever. I was sort of sorry to see that; I’d actually thought that she’d grown up a little.

The basically decent mother of six didn’t win. The female millionaire didn’t win either. The Harvard Law School student with the doctor father won. He started out likeable, but as he gained confidence, he started acting more like the rest of them. That was a bit of a disappointment, too.

Frankly, I would enjoy the show more if it was an actual survival show, rather than a social experiment. No-one ever seems to do any homework to learn any survival skills before they end up on the show. They build flat-roofed huts that leak rain like a sieve. They’re never able (except once) make fire without flint and steel. And they are surrounded by monkeys, snakes, rats, fruit bats and a whole ocean full of fish and yet very nearly starve to death every time. I guess there are just a lot of stupid people in the world, including the ones who waste their evenings watching such shows. © 2013

Friday, May 10, 2013

Mountain Memories

We went to the mountains a lot when I was a kid. My folks didn’t have much money, but every month or so, in decent weather, we’d head for the mountains. With some food and drinks in a big ice chest, and maybe a cooler of iced tea besides, we’d enjoy a day or two’s jaunt through West Virginia’s beautiful rugged landscape. Roadside parks were found every few miles, so lunch was taken pretty much wherever our hunger would hit us, sometimes even just at a mountain pull-over, served from the tailgate of our old station wagon. If the folks felt a little flush, they might treat my sister and me to lunch at the old Chimney Corner’s Restaurant. It was located just across the Maryland line in a crook of the road on the way to Blackwater Falls State Park. If we were headed south rather than east, they occasionally sprung for lunch at Hawk’s Nest State Park. We usually managed to see some historic site along the way as well.

When I got a little older, I sometimes headed for the mountains with one of two friends. Tim and I sometimes camped in my tent, and sometimes slept in the back of his Chevy Blazer. He learned that I snored and I learned that he passed gas in the night, but we saw some beautiful scenery over the years. His pistol was always under his pillow at night and my pistol was under mine.

Craig and I backpacked and camped in the Cranberry Back Country and in various other places over the years. He was a rough and tumble sort and wouldn’t have thought twice about fighting two or three guys at once. Two things scared him to death, though—bears and spiders. The fastest I ever saw a guy come out of a sleeping bag was one night when a deer snorted about 10 feet from the tent and he thought it was a bear. Another night, it sounded like an elephant was jogging around our tent. He thought for sure that it was a bear. I replied that it was making WAY too much noise for a bear, and said that it was probably just a chipmunk with insomnia. I got the flashlight and took him outside. The grass and weeds there stood about eight inches high, and whatever it was running laps around the tent continued to do so, but we never did see the culprit.  Being the former Boy Scout that I was, though, the disassembled 12 gauge that spent days in my pack, spent it’s nights assembled, loaded and lying between me and my buddy. As for Craig’s arachnophobia, I’ll just say that it sometimes made backpacking woodland trails rather interesting.

One scene I’ll always remember is the time that Craig and I stopped at a mountaintop pull-over to look at the scenery. In the valley far below, an occasional car or truck raised a slight cloud of dust on a gravel road. I could just barely make out a farmer baling hay. The hawk riding a thermal far above him was still far below us. I guess in our own spirits, we were sailing with that hawk. An old man sat alone on the guard rail smoking his pipe and silently taking in the scene. When we left a few minutes later, he smiled and nodded and returned to his vigil. I’ve always wondered why some scenes stay with us for life.

I don’t go to the mountains anymore. The missus says there’s nothing to do there. Some folks just don’t understand that sometimes, the journey is the destination. © 2013

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Thursday Thoughts...!

Coffee with the Hermit: Thursday Thoughts...!

She MIGHT Be Spoiled!

They say that a lot of dogs like to chew on the cardboard tubes inside of paper towel and toilet paper rolls. Ours is no exception. However, ours seems a little overly excited when she thinks a toilet paper tube is about to become available. She watches through the day, and when the person enters the bathroom that might need to change the roll, she follows them in and faces the holder on the wall. Then she hops up and down and squeals in anticipation. Sometimes, her voice is so shrill and loud that I make her leave until the actual “event.” When I remove the tube and toss it a short distance, she charges across the room in pursuit. She then returns with the tube in her mouth and waits for me to put the next roll in place before she’ll chew on the tube I’ve given her.

You see, a couple times, the spring-loaded plastic rod has come lose and shot across the room. Figuring that such a thing must be a toy, she had it nearly before it hit the floor. Now, she waits EVERY time to see if the plastic gizmo takes flight before she’ll go to work on the tube she has. Today, I knew I was using the last roll, so I put the plastic rod on the bathroom counter, until I could get a new package from the cabinet. Nothing doing! She sat up on her hindquarters and watched what little she could see of the rod and sat there like a statue. So, I hurried my “work” and then got the new roll in place. She then settled down and chewed on the cardboard tube for a couple minutes, until it got ratty enough that I took it away from her.

A couple minutes later, I put the leash on her to take her out, but she refused to stand and walk. That’s her way of saying that she wants a little lovin’ and wants CARRIED to the door. I picked her up and headed down the hall. Her tailed wagged the whole time and she reached up and gave my beard a lick. What can I say; she’s got me trained well! © 2013

Monday, May 6, 2013

Pleasant memories

The other day, my wife and I couldn’t agree what sort of take-out to get while we were running errands in town. So, we went to two different restaurants to get our food and took it to the city park to have a little picnic. As fate would have it, Bill, a former co-worker, and his wife, Annie, pulled in at the same time. We decided to share a table and, as often happens with old folks, conversation soon turned to the old days. We all admitted to getting a little misty-eyed sometimes, while looking at old pictures, or thinking of old times. Annie mentioned that the park and its surrounding area held a lot of memories for her.

She was born at the far end of Lynndon Street at her maternal grandmother’s house. One of her uncles (her mother’s brother) had a bakery on nearby Seventh Avenue. In a few years, though, the uncle prospered greatly and had built a new bakery up near the high school. Jefferson Avenue runs from the high school down to the park, and the uncle bought a home on that street, amongst many of the upper crust of the area. He rented the largest shelter in the park every year and hosted family re-unions for his many cousins, siblings and nieces and nephews, and a couple kids of his own.

Behind the big yellow-brick bakery, he built a large home of the same material and moved his mother into it. She had a heart condition, so he hired her a live-in house-keeper who worked week-days and went home on the week-ends. He also hired a woman to come in and cook dinner (lunch) for her every day. The cook also cooked things to leave for supper and to have for the week-ends, when she was off, also.

Not wanting his mother to be alone, Annie’s uncle would get one of his older nieces or nephews to stay with his mother on week-ends and pay them a little for it. Annie was the woman’s eldest granddaughter, and the uncle felt she was the most responsible, so he got her whenever possible. Annie said that he also realized that she had a hard life at home and needed a break herself. Even though she did a little minor cooking and a little housework (the latter more out of occasional boredom than need), most of the time, she just visited with her grandmother.

Their mornings usually began with home-made biscuits with orange marmalade, and all the hot tea she wanted. The tea was a special treat for her, since her folks didn’t normally let their kids drink coffee, tea or soft-drinks. Then, her grandmother would unlock the back door of the bakery and take her through the place as she spoke to the workers and picked up any baked goods she needed for the day. Many of the workers were relatives and they plied young Annie with fresh pastries just from the ovens. Her favorite thing, though, was to get a loaf of bread just from the oven and tear off pieces and eat them while the loaf was still hot.

The big brick house fronted on the high school campus, and large oak trees shaded the row of houses along that edge of the school property. Many afternoons, Annie would sit with her grandmother in the front porch swing, watching the traffic go by on the street in front of the high school, or watching the kids taking their physical education classes on the campus. Sometimes, they would go sit on the neighbors’ porches and visit with them, or the neighbors would come and visit on her grandmother’s porch.

Nearly every day, a quiet knock would sound on the kitchen door in back and some hobo would ask about work or a meal. Her grandmother never gave them any money, but she always fed them a decent meal of whatever she had on hand. “Never turn anyone away from your door hungry,” she always told Annie. Some days, there were several knocks on the door and the food ran a little low, but there was ALWAYS bread!

At night, her grandmother would draw Annie a hot bath in the big claw-foot tub upstairs. Like many farm kids of that era, a bath for her usually consisted of a pan of water and a wash cloth. On Saturdays, there was a washtub to soak in. For obvious reasons, then, the big bathtub was pure luxury to Annie. She would lounge in the tub until her skin looked too big for her from head to toe. Her grandmother would sometimes call to her to ask if she was okay, she would soak so long.

Her grandmother didn’t have air-conditioning by her own choice, but she had plenty of fans. Annie didn’t need them in the room she slept in, though. The exhaust fans from the bakery weren’t far away and kept a steady breeze coming up the alley at the back of the house. And so, Annie drifted off to sleep with the muffled sounds of the city in her ears and the wonderful smell of baking bread filling her nostrils.

There was a certain mistiness to Annie’s eyes as she ended her story and the conversation moved on to slightly different subjects. I remember thinking, though, how many of us are blessed with some wonderful memories from our childhoods. But, then I thought of those poor souls who DON’T have any such memories to look back on, and that sad thought made my own eyes get just a bit misty. © 2013

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Old, Slow And Armed

I’ve driven country roads for almost 42 years. In my youth, I knew exactly how fast I could take every bend on the county road in the valley, and did so often in the wee hours of the morning. I sometimes drove almost that fast during the day on rare occasions. I began driving more carefully the evening that I topped a rise and nearly dropped into a group of little children walking the centerline on the far side. Only their quail-like flights to the ditches saved their lives.

I was driving the same ’66 mustang, when I learned just how little rain it takes to bring the oil to the surface of the highway. I was on my way to my high school graduation after a “heavy sprinkle,” when I took a bend too fast and started skidding. If I’d had the whole road, I could have pulled out of it. Unfortunately, a learning driver was coming out of town with his eyes glued to the pavement about thirty feet ahead of his daddy’s Caddy. He didn’t even see me, so he had no way to know that he might want stop before some idiot (me) slammed into him. So, I chose to hit the hill instead of him. It didn’t seem to move much, and I was lucky to escape with only a busted lip. I started driving a little slower.

Then the deer got so thick that it was almost dangerous just to drive at night. Soon, the deer got so thick that it seemed dangerous to drive even through the day. Worst of all, city-slickers started moving into the countryside in my area. They drive like they’re on a dry four-lane, even in the rain and the snow. Plus they drive in the middle of the road, or even completely on the wrong side in bends. During the winter, the tow trucks get a lot of business from them. I started driving a little slower.

Probably a dozen people have died on just that one road over the last 30 years, and I’m no longer in a hurry most days, and it shows in my driving. The speed limit on our crooked ridge-road is only 25mph, though it could easily be 30 most places. At the intersection with the main county road, the road to the left, toward town, is posted at 35, the one to the right is posted at 45. I usually do about five miles under the speed limit either direction.

A month ago, I followed the road to the right until it intersected with the county’s main two-lane north/south state highway. The speed limit on it is 55, but if you blend with rush-hour traffic, you’ll find yourself doing 65. It was well AFTER rush hour and I drove at 45-50 mph about two miles up the road to another county road and turned left. A couple vehicles had followed me for the last half-mile, and one turned off behind us. Soon, he passed on a double yellow line while laying on his horn, nearly clipped my bumper pulling back into the lane, got 50 feet ahead of us and jammed on the brakes. He then proceeded to lurch forward and jam on his brakes several times. Eventually he drove on and pulled off on a side road and kept moving.

I made the mistake of stopping a moment to see if he went on to some house on the lane, so, when he started to turn around, he saw me and jumped out of his vehicle. He looked to be about six-four and built lean but muscular. He was a good hundred yards away, but walking my direction waving his arms and cursing, so I drove on. Five minutes later, I saw him in my rear-view mirror, as he came flying around the Cadillac that had just arrived at a more leisurely pace. He started a repeat of his earlier stopping and starting, only leaving when he apparently noticed my wife talking to the folks at 911, and the woman behind us taking pictures of him with her cell phone.

After some thought, I decided to try to get my pistol permit. Like my neighbor said about himself, I’m getting too slow to win a fight and too old to take an  _ss-kicking. I took the day-long course from an acquaintance of mine last Saturday and took the certificate and a hundred dollars to the sheriff’s office Monday, along with a completed application that I’d down-loaded. I was told it might take 2-3 weeks to hear from them.

Yesterday, we were taking a drive on another crooked country road when I accumulated three cars behind me. I pulled off at the first decent spot to let them around, when a guy with his business name on his truck door stopped just long enough to give me a cussing. Today my permit showed up in the mail. I’ll have to check the law concerning vehicles and carry permits, but I may be armed if I’m on the road tomorrow. I’ll have to be very careful of legalities, but if someone tries dragging me out of my truck, at least I’ll have something to whack him on the nose with! © 2013

Friday, May 3, 2013

First Mowing – 2013


When I took the dog out in the night, the pollen was falling so thick that it appeared to be misting rain. The vehicles were yellow this morning. I pumped up one front tire on the riding mower, held my breath and turned the key, but there wasn’t enough juice to crank the engine. After sitting all winter, what could I expect? I jumped it with a spare battery and was on my way!

I was the first person on the ridge to mow their lawn last spring; I believe it was sometime in the second half of March. I was the very last person to give their lawn its first mowing this year. That was yesterday, May 2. Between tall grass and a thick carpet of leaves from last year, it was getting to be an eyesore. The empty house across the way got its second mowing as mine got its first. I don’t know if it’s a grandson who mows it or just some kid they hired for this year.

It was perhaps the dustiest mowing I’ve ever done. Here we live in a home with woods on three sides, it’s fire season, and the forest floor is bone dry. I raked the leaves from around the base of the house and mulched (mowed) them, so I guess we’re a LITTLE safer than we were.

I kept an eye out for plants as I mowed. The Foxfire Book (Vol. 2) reminded me that chicory is edible, and I mowed some off today. There’s still some tender dandelion available, should I wish to pick more greens. The early crop has its fuzz already blowing in the wind. My wife remarked about blowing the fuzz from the heads when she was a kid. I wonder if there have ever been any American kids who HAVEN’T blown dandelion fuzz? I pity the poor protected souls if there are. I thought that I’d spotted some chickweed, another edible plant, but it turned out to a relative known as “mouse’s ear,” also edible though not too desirable because of its fuzziness.

I’d gone through the yard a few days ago and picked up what winter-fallen limbs I thought were big enough to be a problem for the mower. As much thunking and banging as I heard, I apparently should have been a little more thorough. The folks had done a trash pick-up along the highway last Saturday, so I only had one beer can to pick up. THAT was appreciated!

I noticed that the deer have already found one of the grapes I planted. The wire to protect it is in the back of the truck. It doesn’t seem to help much from that location. The irises are finally getting ahead of the deer, so there must be more for them to eat now. I’m worried they’ll knock my apple tree cages over again this year, but this is supposed to be a locust year for us, so only the Lord knows what damage THEY may do to EVERYTHING.

After I finished the yard, I mowed a few swaths along the road in front of our property. I left the Easter flowers, though they’ve already bloomed, figuring the longer they stand, the stronger roots they’ll grow. They seem to be spreading nicely. I still don’t have any day-lilies in the old spot where they used to be, before the state road and the power company sprayed them and killed them. I DID notice the beginnings of a couple little patches a ways out the road, so I left them in hopes they’ll spread. They’re where they will at least be safe from the power company. © 2013

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Ditching Deodorant

No, I promise that I won’t go stinking. In fact, it was my wife who was ditching HER deodorant today. She didn’t ditch it all, just the ones that had aluminum as an ingredient. For some strange reason, she actually listened when I mentioned the link between aluminum and Alzheimer’s. They don’t know if it’s a cause or a symptom, but Alzheimer’s patients have an accumulation of aluminum in their brains. We’ve made it a point for several years not to use any deodorant that has aluminum in it. My wife has gradually replaced our old aluminum cookware with cast-iron or stainless steel for the same reason. She recently realized just how often companies change their ingredients and found that some of her choices had added aluminum since she first started using them.

Recently, I read that they’ve also found a link between antiperspirants and breast cancer in women. I figure that even non-aluminum compounds that stop your body from functioning normally can’t possibly be good for you. So, I’ve started buying only deodorants WITHOUT antiperspirant action. My current choice is made by “Tom’s” of Maine. I used to be able to get it at our local Mother Earth Foods, but they quit carrying it. Surprisingly, Walmart has started stocking it, and at a much reduced price. I notice my underarms are easier to wash without all the sticky antiperspirant compounds. I realize that this will be a little too much information for some of you, but if it keeps anyone from getting cancer, I hope you’ll feel that it’s worth it. © 2013