Sunday, October 30, 2016

Sunday Grump

Anyone who’s followed this blog for any length of time knows my propensity to growl, gripe, grump and grouse. That’s why I turned the verb “grouse” into a noun for the name of my blog. I believe in exhaustively complete labeling by all companies and truth in advertising for EVERYBODY. So, today, I’m once again going to give you what my blog name promises.

This afternoon, the missus wanted to go over on the wrong side of the river that flows through our town and visit their Chinamart. There’s a Lowe’s next door, so that was fine with me. I used to only go into Lowe’s when I had a project in mind and money in my pocket. However, since they now have handicapped carts, I sometimes just go in to scout for things I’ll need for future projects. Today, it was to find the cost of putting a post out along the road in front of our home with our house number on each side. Hopefully, that will keep UPS and FedEx from leaving me packages for the house across the road. I found the post, but not the numbers, and there wasn’t anyone to ask, SO, I went over to where a couple of my fellow bloggers told me the outdoor tools would be.

A little background here—I spent a large part of my life using tools like shovels, rakes, axes, sledge hammers, picks, mattocks, splitting mauls and so on. Then, I worked for O. Ames Company for nearly 12 years MAKING shovels and rakes. Believe me, I KNOW what a quality tool looks like. Eventually, Ames, who was making money hand over fist, bought out True-Temper, which was going down the tubes. Interestingly enough, the powers that WERE in the company let all the Ames management go and KEPT the losers from True-Temper. THEN, they brought in a CEO, named John Stoner, that had run every company that he’d ever headed into bankruptcy. Soon, all the most profitable items had been stolen from us and sent to the previously struggling True-Temper plants. Once he was able to make our plants look unprofitable, he closed our plants down, and sent to China any work that the old True-Temper plants couldn’t handle. This was done in part to spite our union, even though our cost per unit was well below what the non-union True-Temper plants produced. Needless to say, a certain very warm place will freeze over before I ever spend one red cent on a NEW Ames or True-Temper product.

Back to today—I’m actually in the market for a good hay fork (as opposed to a pitchfork for manure), a bucksaw and a grass hook (think sickle with a 3’ handle (but NOT a scythe)). I’ll probably have to either get a used hay fork up in Amish country, or make one from wood, like the old-timers did. I can order a grass hook from the Ace Hardware store in my area, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it would be made overseas. Once again, I might find a used one in Amish country or else make one from an old sickle in the basement (probably my best option). The bucksaw can only be had from two sources that I’ve found online, one being Lehman Hardware up in Amish country, OR I can buy one from an antique shop, OR make my own frame and buy only the blade. I prefer the latter two options. Bucksaws can be resharpened, unlike the blades that now come in bow saws.

Fiskars has the only bow saw I know that has a decent blade and Lowe’s sells them. They also claim to stock replacement blades for them. Alas, when I looked at the replacement blades, they were made in Thailand and were NOT Fiskars brand, plus the grinding on the teeth looked atrocious. I can order new blades direct from Fiskars, so I’ll do that when I can and have some extras. Even though they have “hardened” teeth, I suspect that they can be sharpened, though I may have to use diamond files. I have my doubts, though, whether they can be set.

While there, I looked at their shovels, axes, splitting mauls and so on. The shovels all had the name brand EMBOSSED INTO THE BLADE!” Only a moron would deliberately make it more difficult for the shovel to clean itself. You can be sure some idiot in marketing came up with the idea. Some of the shovels were made in Mexico, and showed it by their weird shape. Others were “assembled in America of foreign and domestic parts.” All were pieces of crap, despite their prices. The axes and striking tools were all at the $25-$30 level and had mostly fiber handles (eventually good for splinters even worse than wooden ones) and were either foreign made or were the bastardized hybrids that I already mentioned. I wasn’t impressed. There were a couple tools with wood handles, but they were obviously made from boards with no consideration as to grain.

Before leaving, I checked out some 6’ stakes literally made from wood so ROTTEN that I could actually see the rot from 20’ away (of course I have the trained eye of a 30-year sawmill man). The one that I picked up broke with only about five pounds of pressure. They were asking $3 each for them.

I finally made it over to Chinamart to hook up with the missus and checked out THEIR tools. There were very few, but they actually had a better shovel than Lowe’s, and for only $6, if you don’t mind a pine handle with the grain turned any old way.

Incidentally, if anyone cares, it appears that “Ames” now sells tools under their own name, True-Temper, Truper and Kobalt. They also make most of the shovels for places that sell them under their own store brand. It’s kind of depressing if you appreciate good tools. © 2016

Saturday, October 29, 2016

A Disgusting Evening, But A Better Next Day

Yesterday, we decided to run up to Amish country today and needed to do a couple things first. The truck had set up a really bad vibration on the way home the evening before, but I couldn’t tell if it was caused by a rough road or if I had some loose lug nuts or something. So, I checked the lug nuts yesterday morning and found them all to be tight, so it must have been a bad section of highway. However, I did find that one of the nuts was missing.

So, when I was in town that morning to have the tire shop check the inflation and look for bulges (I can’t get up and down like I used to), I also stopped by the auto supply store and asked the boy at the counter what size I needed. He did an exhaustive search of the computer, cross-checked a couple things, stood on one foot while muttering some sort of incantation, walked over to a rack, picked up a pack of four and told they were what I needed. When I got home, I discovered that they were not.

In the early evening, we took a little ride and splurged and got a grilled chicken sandwich at one of the not-so-fast food joints for our pampered pooch. We wanted her to eat well that evening, since we knew that she probably wouldn’t eat anything on the road today. We were a mile down the road before we thought to check the sandwich, only to find that it was a cheeseburger with everything, and that it was SLATHERED in mustard. The pooch doesn’t like mustard. SO, we took the sandwich back and traded it for the correct thing.

Then, I took the lug nuts and the receipt back the auto supply store (Grammar Check says that I should put an “s” on either receipt or back. IDIOTS!). Another youngster checked the catalog and told me that he had no idea in the WORLD where the dayshift guy got that number. He walked over and pulled another pack off the rack, and we went outside to check them. Success! Next time, I’ll check any parts possible before I leave the parking lot. Lesson relearned.

Today, we had a pleasant but non-eventful trip to Amish country and back. It’s a little sad to see so many once beautiful farms on the way up growing weeds and brush, instead of the corn and cattle that I used to see. Oh well, I guess the rabbits and grouse will appreciate the change. Most of the corn was still unharvested on the way up, but a few fields had been started or finished. I saw no pickers at work though. The soybeans were mostly done, except for some really grey fields that were still standing. I did see one combine working the beans, though. It looks to me like the reel would be knocking the beans off into the field at that stage, but maybe not, since I’ve never run one of the beasts.

The Amish country that we once knew and loved is dead. The quaint little shops have mostly been replaced by mega-stores, and the local handmade items mostly replaced by knock-offs from China. Many of the northern Ohio folks who are bussed into the area from around the lakes probably don’t know hand-crafted stuff from assembly-line China crap, though, so they seem happy to be there. The old board walks are now concrete, and the Mennonite waitresses have mostly been replaced by “English” girls and women.

Still, it was a beautiful day, and some color remained in the woods. Also, there was enough farmland still in use in the Amish and Mennonite areas to make for a nice drive. We ate in a big restaurant that started out as a tiny little place when we first went there, but the food is still pretty good, and the waitress was nice. Neither one of us can walk like we used to and my wife was having a worse day than usual, but she managed to hit her favorite places.

Our memories were stirred at one place, when we SMELLED a barn being cleaned out, though we didn’t see either the barn, or the field where the manure was being spread. AGED cow manure has a smell all its own, as do pig, horse and chicken “leavings.” My wife and I have both spent enough time on the clean end of a manure fork to tell the difference.

We left in the early afternoon, when many folks were still arriving. We got home long before dark, but we were just as glad to get there as we had been to leave. Even the mighty Dachshund seemed to enjoy the “big ride,” but she also seemed happy to get home. Things may not be the same up there, but they are what they and we both decided the trip was worth it. Maybe we can do it again in the spring. © 2016

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

A Not-Quite Wasted Wednesday

I didn’t sleep well the first part of the night, so when I took the dog out at 3:30, I stayed up an hour-and-a-half on the computer so as to get a little sleepier. Not surprisingly, when I woke up at 7:30, I didn’t feel much like getting dressed and heading to the chiropractor as I’d planned. So, the NEXT time that I woke up, it was 10am.

I then went downstairs and got back on the computer, while the missus fixed a VERY early lunch (brunch?). She wanted to rest a while and watch a couple shows before she headed to the chiropractor with me (just for the ride) so I didn’t get there until 2pm. The doc gave me a full twist and shout, so I was there a bit longer than I expected. We then stopped at the greasy arches restaurant and got a 50 cent ice cream cone apiece for us and the Mighty Dachshund, who was in the back seat. The missus then wanted to take the long way home, via the small town up the river. During all this, my water pill, which I’d taken late, was working all too well. In the two hours that we were gone, I had to drain three times, plus upon leaving and returning home.

I’d originally hoped to put the wheels on my chainsaw mill frame, which is stored on the bench below the house, and pull it up here to finish it. I knew that would involve getting my battery drill and bits located, along with a jig to help me drill straight holes, so the 5/8ths bolt axles would be set right. So, I just aired up the tires and called that project good enough for the day.

The small end of a small wild cherry treetop that has been hanging below the edge of our yard for 4-5 years recently deteriorated enough that it broke and hit the ground. So, I rounded up three chains and connected them to the treetop and gingerly gave it a pull with the truck. I knew that it was still somewhat attached, but it broke and pulled up the grade easily up to my wood rack, where I’ll try to cut it up tomorrow or the next day. I’d thought the treetop was dead, and that the leaves around it belonged to the tree next door. I was surprised to see that not only were the leaves attached to the treetop, but that MOST of the treetop was still alive.

By the time I got the chain all disconnected, the missus was calling from the door that our leftovers from lunch were warm, so I called it a day. Oh well, I didn’t get much done today, but at least there was a little progress. They’re calling for rain tomorrow, so I don’t know if I’ll be outside or sorting things in the basement but I’ll try to do SOMETHING at least. © 2016

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

I Knew America Was Lost When

…Bill Clinton was elected the second time. I understood that he was a likable sort, at least from a distance, but his TOTAL lack of morals was clearly evident by the time that he ran again for president. Still, the majority of voters seemed not to care. I knew that the country could easily survive four more years of his quasi-leadership, but I also knew that it could NOT survive an electorate that had lost all moral discretion. Later, I liked “Little Bush” better than his dad, but I was no a great admirer of him.

Then, America once again showed its lack of morals, or at least common sense, by electing an Arab president, when we were basically at war with some Arab countries. That was just as insane as it would have been to elect a Japanese or German president during World War II. Such individuals might have been good men, but our voters had sense enough back then that they would NEVER have taken the chance. Obama pretended to be black, though, so every liberal nutcase in the country voted for him, mainly for that reason, along with those who simply hated all republicans.

Four years later, American voters AGAIN showed a total lack of morals by re-electing that same Arab, despite him having proven that he was grossly immoral, and either unbelievably incompetent, or completely treasonous. Now, the same folks who supported Obama a second time (and would for a third, if they could) are rooting for an obviously and thoroughly communist liar of unimaginably amoral character. Only time will tell if enough folks have come to their senses to slow down our descent into political hell.

One thing about this election is that it’s clearly illuminated the voting blocs in this country. For Hillary, you have mostly hell-bound heathens, and I’m NOT exaggerating. Hillary stands FOR everything that Almighty God stands AGAINST. The day has long passed when you can be a Christian and vote democratic.
The other main bloc is made up of pragmatists; they may love Trump or loathe him, but they fully understand that he is America’s last hope to avoid a quick demise.

The third group is small, but might make a positive difference if they would join the pragmatists, but they won’t. This small group, however, is actually made up of three even smaller groups—those voting for Hillary to spite Trump, those voting third party because they are just too “righteous” to vote for either major candidate, and those poor deluded souls who honestly think a third party has a chance of making a difference in this country at this time. The latter are basically Peter Pan types. The first two, at one time, would have been said to be cutting off their nose to spite their face. They are apparently unaware or uncaring of the fact that they are helping the hell-bound heathens to sell their children into full communist slavery.

Personally, I continue to believe that our country is doomed, just as I did back in 1996, when Billary was re-elected. All that remains to be seen is whether we go into the sewer madly paddling with the current or slow our descent by paddling against it. © 2016

Monday, October 24, 2016

An Almost Profanity-Free Visit To The Veterinarian

I had a less than complimentary post on here a year or two ago about the vet clinic where I’d done business for 46 years at the time. I’ve learned that most vet offices are similar though, so I continue to deal with them, since they are the closet to my home. The pooch was a little late on her distemper and rabies shots and her heartworm meds so, unfortunately, I had to take her there today. I didn’t bother making an appointment because the last I knew, such things weren’t needed just to get a dog’s shots. Times have changed. They now tie an exam to the distemper shot and insist there’s no charge for the exam.

I asked when the first open slot was, and they told me that the little red-headed %$#@*&(+ who was willing to let the Mighty Dachshund die the last time that I was there (for lack of $100 in my wallet)  had a 9:30 open (it was almost 9:30 then). I managed to bite my tongue and not tell them that I’d drive my dog clear to California rather than let him ever touch her again. I DID ask if the doctor was available who I’d dealt with for many years, but he was off. When asked if any other doctors were available, they mentioned that a lady doc who’d we’d had before was available “right now.” I told the girl at the desk that would be great. “Right now” turned out to be 45 minutes later. The whole time, the Mighty Dachshund was a shivering, shaking, leg climbing, whimpering jumble of nerves. She’s not so mighty at the vets; after all, nothing good ever happens to her there.

Interestingly enough, the distemper shot with the “free” exam cost me $47, as opposed to $22 for the rabies shot. Free exam my _$$! THEN, they charged me $4 for a “Biohazard Disposal Fee!” I got a real break on her heartworm meds, though; they would have been about $156 had I bought the six-month supply a month at a time. Lucky me, I got them for ONLY $111.86! My total bill came to $184.86. The $50 that I’d planned to give the tire shop was GONE. So was the few dollars of mad money that I’d saved in case we made it to Amish country this month. And, naturally, so was the $100+ I’d allowed for the vet. I had $10 in ones left in my wallet when I returned home.

Once upon a time, veterinarians would come to the farm for large animals. Now, farmers have to be their own vets, since the “good doctors” prefer to stay in the office where the small animals and the good money are found. And it IS good money anymore. They’ve apparently decided that they should be paid as well as people doctors, and who am I to say they shouldn’t. Most used to go into the profession because they loved animals, though; today’s vets seem to go into it just for the money, like most medical doctors of this era. Understandably, my respect for both has taken a giant nose-dive.

We won’t be having any more pets after this one passes; we can’t afford to properly take care of this little pooch the way it is. I blame that both on the vets and the pet med companies. I wonder what they’ll do if most people begin feeling that way and their business goes to hell in the proverbial hand-basket? Hopefully, we’ll both outlive our pooch; I’d hate to think what would happen to her if we didn’t.

I spent $8 of my $10 this evening buying my own meds. The co-pay went up from $7 last month. That’s only a dollar, but my wife keeps telling me that she’s seeing stuff on TV saying that they’re going to quit paying for meds. I certainly can’t afford them on my own, so if they do that, I guess it will be strictly up to the Lord whether I live or die. Truth be known, it’s actually in His hands as it is, and I’m pretty contented with that idea. © 2016

Sunday, October 23, 2016

A “Sort Of” Visit To Lowe’s

I took the missus to “the other” Chinamart today, to get a few things we forgot or couldn’t find at “ours” yesterday. Since we had the Mighty Dachshund with us, we picked up a plain double cheeseburger from McD’s for me to hand feed her as my wife shopped. After leaving my wife at the far door of Chinamart, I drove to the Lowe’s next door and parked. There, I stood at the open rear door and tore off one little bite at a time for the pooch. After she finished, I gave her a good combing and brushing, and then I put the leash on her and headed for the entry to Lowe’s.

It makes no sense to me, but the handicapped spaces at Lowe’s are beyond both the entry and exit, rather than between them, as would be the best way to actually benefit the handicapped. However, since all those spaces between the doors were filled with “non-handicapped” vehicles, I did end up using one of the outlying handicapped spaces. At least the electric carts were reasonably close the door inside. (No, Grammar-Check, I meant CARTS, not CARS!)

The Mighty Dachshund had never been in the store before, let alone in the basket of a cart, and it was obvious that her courage was waning fast. Finally, I took her out and let her walk, but I had to watch closely, as she just didn’t seem to know how to heel with an electric cart. After a couple minutes, I put her on the cart, between my feet, and she seemed better. She was still a nervous wreck, but she was comforted some by feeling my feet at each end of her little carcass.

My reason for going to Lowe’s was to pick up a couple spare bow saw blades that their website mentioned that they are supposed to carry. When I asked a couple young female employees standing in the front aisle just where I might find the blades, they directed me to their “Tool World” section. Needless to say, the girls didn’t know their backsides from a mole hill. Not only were there no blades for bow saws, there were no “outdoor” type tools of ANY kind—no shovels, no rakes, no axes, no mattocks, no pole saws, no nuthin’. There WERE, of course, multiple electric tools and manual “inside” tools, like hammers, squares, chisels, etc. I knew there had to be another section somewhere that contained such tools, but the Mighty Dachshund was acting far from mighty by that time, so we left. Maybe I can go back another day when she’s not along (or leave her in the ventilated truck now that weather is cooler and not tell the missus).

After THAT little fiasco, we went to a far corner of the lot, and I backed the truck up to the curb next to a grassy area. Then, I put the harness on the pooch along a retractable 25 foot leash, put down the tailgate, had a seat and let her roam and sniff. For about half-an-hour, she wandered around, watched the traffic and the people, barked at those returning to their cars at Bob Evans (until I reminded her that it wasn’t her turf), sniffed incessantly, pooped once and peed thrice. When she finally came and sat down to my left, I knew that she was done, so we went over and checked out their plastic tool sheds, a few feet away. Then, I returned her to the back seat and drove over next to the door where my wife went in and waited until she returned.

Incidentally, I was both shocked and amused at the prices for their plastic tool sheds—$299 for a 5x2 and $429 for a 5x4. I’ve seen children’s toy-boxes almost as big for a whole lot less. © 2016

Saturday, October 22, 2016

For Want Of A Nail

“For want of a nail the shoe was lost,
For want of a shoe the horse was lost,
For want of a horse the rider was lost,
For want of a rider the battle was lost,
For want of a battle the Kingdom was lost,
And all for the want of a nail.”

The above English parable has been around since at least 1640, since that’s when it was first published. My maternal grandmother used to quote the parable to me when I was little, trying unsuccessfully to ingrain morals and good sense into my developing mind.

Nails were actually a precious commodity in the early days of this country, when they were still handmade. Old, unused houses and barns were often burned down just to salvage the nails from the ashes. Poor folks often salvaged nails whenever possible over the last couple centuries to avoid having to buy them. I know that anyone who grew up during the depression was so inclined, including my father. We NEVER threw nails away when I was a kid, but saved them and straightened them for re-use. If my memory serves me correctly, there were a few salvaged nails used in my own house as we built it many years ago.

When we tore the back ell off the farm house where I grew up, to replace it with new construction, I saved some of the old square nails, The house was started in 1865 and finished in 1866, so I know the age of the nails precisely. No doubt they were made upriver at Wheeling, West Virginia, then the nail capitol of the world. I’d originally planned to make rustic crafts and primitive furniture as a hobby in my old age, so that was my reason for saving them. I’ve kept them in two buckets in the basement these last 20 years or so. There’s perhaps a gallon-and-a-half in each bucket.

I really need to clean and organize my basement workshop, and will probably try to do so this winter. Maybe that will keep me from going stir-crazy on cold windy days when my ears and old bones can’t handle it outdoors. It was wet, cold and windy outside today, so I gathered up some empty plastic fruit and nut jars from items purchased at Chinamart the last few months and headed to the basement. I sat the first bucket of nails on an overturned mud bucket and began sorting. I knew that I’d have three sizes of cut nails, but I found that I had even more. As it turns out, I’ve got 3d, 4d, 6d, and 8d nails, and a few 20d spikes. I also have a small duke’s mixture of more modern wire nails and spikes from patches and repairs over the decades since the original construction.

The framing was under-sized pine post and beam with in-filled studs inserted into shallow mortises. The frame was held together with oak pins, but an occasional 20d spike was used here and there. (For those who don’t know, the “d” stands for “penny,” and the number is the cost in pennies for 100 of that size nail back in fifteenth century England.) The 3d and 4d nails were used to nail the lath to the inside of the walls for plaster. The 6d and 8d were used mostly on the tongue and groove flooring, if I remember, and on any original sections of siding.

Burning the houses in the old days left most of the nails still straight, but I didn’t have that option, since we were saving the front of the house. Instead, we had to pry the boards loose with mattocks and wrecking bars and pull the nails manually. That put a bend in many of them. From past experience in reusing square nails, I know that they have a crystalline structure to the steel, unlike modern wire nails. As a result, they break easily when you try to straighten them. That was probably another advantage of burning, as it would anneal the nails (make them softer). I’m thinking that it might be wise to put these nails through a fire before I try to straighten them.

One thing is for sure, I’ll have a lot of time invested in these nails before I can ever use them. It will take time to anneal them and time to straighten them, but first, time to sort them. The time will be compounded by the fact that there are many more 3d and 4d’s than I remembered, and each one must be looked at separately. Oh well, what’s time to a retired old geezer (especially when it’s cold outside)? © 2016

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Another Day, Another Grump

Two times recently, I’ve stopped by my regular doctor’s office to get a blood draw that my heart doctor wanted. Both times, the paperwork had yet to arrive. Yesterday, I called the heart doctor’s office and spoke with his nurse, who admitted that the computer showed that the request had never been sent out. She promised to do it as soon as we hung up. When I got to my MD’s office this morning, for a scheduled check up, the paperwork STILL wasn’t there.

Both times that I’d been there before, it was when they’d just opened, and I hadn’t eaten yet, in case they wanted a fasting draw. I told them that they should ask my doctor if HE was going to want a blood draw for my appointment, and if so, that they could do it while I was there. They must be scared of the likable little fella, because they wouldn’t do it. My appointment this morning was at 10. I hadn’t eaten since supper the night before and was starved. SO, on the way, I made the decision to invite my wife, who was along just to get out of the house, to a cheap breakfast at the home of the fallen arches. I figured if they wanted a fasting blood draw, they could just wait a few days.

I had gone inside a few minutes early to give the phlebotomist time to do the blood draw for my heart doctor, but of course, that wasn’t to be. The office was packed and it was 10:50 before the doctor finally made it to the exam room. He didn’t need to see the bag of pill bottles the nurse had told me on the phone to bring. He DID say that he knew what the heart doctor would be testing for and that I could go ahead and have the draw, which I did. I’d been inside an hour-and-a-half when I rejoined my severely irritated wife.

The rest of the town visit went a little better. I took the missus to the mall to take a round and she found the calendar of country scenes that she buys every year, so her mood improved. Then, we went to the Chinamart on the far side of town, and I snuck over to Tractor Supply and found two small pneumatic tires that I needed for the frame of my chainsaw mill, so MY mood improved. I didn’t get anything done outside today when we got back, due to the weather, but hey, you can’t have everything!

Oh, while I was waiting in the doctor’s office, a former co-worker sat down beside me and visited a few minutes. He was saved while we were still working at the factory and now visits Chinamart nearly every day and subtly witnesses to the employees that he now knows by name. He also visits a couple nursing homes every week with cookies and bananas and visits and prays with anyone who’ll let him. He says that some call him “the banana preacher.” He also fills an empty pulpit now and then. It was really good to see him. Few of us manage to serve the Lord so well in our “retirement.” © 2016

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A Day In The Life

I had to get up early (for me) today, so the missus and I could be at the bank when it opened. There, I withdrew my grossly inadequate monthly stipend, gave my wife her cut and headed to the DMV, so that she could renew her license/registration. The crowd at the DMV was pretty light today, possibly because it was raining. I think my wife was the fourth person in the door and we were out in 10 minutes. THAT’S never happened before. I’ve always noticed that there are only 2-3 folks out front when the door opens, but gradually, more women drift in. On days when the wait has been long, I’ve seen them still drifting in a half-hour after opening. I don’t know if they purposely schedule them that way, or if they just come in when they feel like it.

Afterward, we went to Chinamart, where I got a little stainless steel cooking pot for “camping.” I actually got it for cooking foraged items, including sassafras tea. (In reality, there’s a second, smaller pot that nests in the big one that I’d use for teas.) I HATED to buy the $10 off-brand Chinese version, but the $25 American brand was made over there, too.

When we got home, I took the pooch out and kept her with me while I put a tarp over the lawn mower, in case it rained again. I also broke the handle out of the brush hook that I mentioned the other day, to prepare for making it into a bill hook. As I looked at it, I decided that I could probably save the stamped steel socket and cut about 3-1/2 inches off the lower end and make a light axe for trimming and carrying in the woods. I think there’d still be more than enough blade to make a bill hook. That way, I’d get TWO tempered tools out of one.

I also stood the old grubbing hoe under the deck out of the weather. I sort of dread cutting a hickory tree for a handle, since I don’t have that many hickories around. (Grammar-Check tells me that last sentence is a fragment, but it lies all the time, so I usually ignore it.) Since the Emerald Ash Borers are in the area, I might be wise to settle for an ash handle, before they're all ruined, but they aren’t as strong as hickory.

After a nap, and watching The 700 Club with my wife (I’m not Pentecostal, but watch it anyway), I took the pooch out again and sat on the porch with her until the mosquitoes finally found me. Then, I came in and did a few things on the computer. From the sound, I can tell that the missus is watching “The Little Floosies Women of LA” right now for lack of anything better to watch. Things get desperate sometimes, I guess.

I tried to find my phone a little while ago, to make my usual evening call to Mom, but couldn’t locate it even after checking the truck. I had the missus call my number and was soon reminded that it was charging at the wall socket beside the chair where I was sitting. Yup, senility, thy name is Gorges! Guess I’d better wrap this up and get it posted so you folks can thrill at all the excitement in my life. Hope your day was more productive than mine! © 2016

Monday, October 17, 2016

The Useful And The Useless (pic)

Click photo to enlarge.

In today’s photo, you’ll see two severely neglected tools. In the foreground is an antique grubbing hoe that was my father’s, and probably his father’s before him. I’ve used it a lot myself, when I was young. It was used for cutting light brush and heavy weeds in the pasture and elsewhere, in those out-of-the-way spots where the cutter-bar of the tractor wouldn’t reach (corners, steep hillsides, etc.).

If you look up the term “grubbing hoe” on the internet, you’ll get all kinds of pictures of round-handled eye hoes. I never really considered a common eye hoe a grubbing hoe, even when made heavy-duty, as some are. For one thing, they’re cast or forged as one piece. The grubbing hoes of my youth (and I’ve seen many) were made in TWO pieces, so the heavy blade could be replaced by cutting or grinding the heads off the three rivets holding it and putting another piece of tempered steel in its place. Most blades were 5-6 inches long and 4-5 inches wide. I’ve seen the thickness vary from that of a recycled plow coulter to nearly a half-inch. It DOES have to be tempered though, or it won’t keep an edge or last very long.

Also, the eye of all the grubbing hoes that I’ve ever seen weren’t round, but were a modified rectangle—full round on the bottom and with the corners rounded on top, and taller than wide. The handle was like that of an axe in the hand, including a swell at the end of the 4’ handle, but it still slid in from the top of the blade, like a regular eye hoe. It was also swung full overhead like an axe when cutting really heavy stuff, but it could also be used like a regular hoe in the garden. In fact, most folks back then much preferred a grubbing hoe in the garden, as the weight made the work easier. The handle in this hoe was getting to the point of replacement long before I forgot and left it under a pile of salvaged lumber that I’d brought up from the farm when I sold it. It definitely needs replaced now, which means that it will probably take at least a couple years, since I’ll first have to find a good hickory (or MAYBE ash), cut it, split it, dry it and then make the handle myself. I’ve never seen these sort of handles in the stores, even back when I was a kid. I hope I get it done someday, since there’s been many a time over the years when I could have used it.

Behind the grubbing hoe in the photo, you’ll see a brush hook. I bought it new many years ago, used it a few times, stood it in the barn and never bothered with it again. Maybe I just don’t know the proper way to use it, but I always used it in a chopping motion, like an axe. The only thing is that I found an axe to be ten times better. The one thing that it WAS good for was slapping me in the head with half-severed brush, briers and vines. I think I’ll throw the loop away and put a one-handed handle on the end of the blade to turn it into a bill hook, also known as a fascine knife. Small ones are good for corn and weeds and brush THAT YOU ARE HOLDING WITH THE OTHER HAND. They’re still used a lot in England to lay hedges and for other agricultural purposes.

In times past, some were made with handles from four to ten feet long for orchard and forestry use, before the idea of pole saws came along. They were also used in war with devastating results. For both tree and battlefield use, they were generally hooked behind a limb (or a chink in someone’s armor) and pulled quickly downward, or forward. Halberds are closely related, and are still carried by the pope’s guards. One thing is for sure; I don’t plan on getting whacked on the head anymore. © 2016

Sunday, October 16, 2016

My Front Yard Wood-Yard (pics)

Click images to enlarge.
Viewed from the porch.

In these photos, you’ll see my wood-yard and “workshop” beneath the big white oak in the front yard. The shop is composed of a 20” chunk of wood for a stool, and a 12” chunk for my workbench. It’s mostly just axe-work and hatchet work that I do there. The stool also gives me a place to catch my breath when I’m cutting and splitting firewood. There’s a big white oak in the back yard that would serve just as well for such a workshop, but it’s at the edge of the woods and tends to be a bit mosquito-ridden. Besides, the wood rack needs to be near the drive-way so that strangers can pull alongside to load their pickups. I’ve had the rack there for a couple years now, but I had to refurbish it this year.

First, the runners on the ground (one white oak, one bitternut hickory) had deteriorated just enough that the bark was loose and bug infested. I used my eye-hoe to cut any grass growing around them and scrape off the bark and remove it from the area. Then I swept the poles with a broom to remove any loose material. Following that, I poured a mix of about ¾ cup of Twenty Mule Team Borax and one gallon of water over the two poles to make them less susceptible to fungus and insect damage. I don’t know if that mix was the right strength, it just seemed adequate to me.

Secondly, the rather puny stakes that had been at the ends of the stack rotted off this past summer. I found a couple reasonably straight saplings in the nearby woods that were a bit bigger than what I’d originally used and cut them off at double the length of my cane. The poles ended up being 70 inches long, and about 1-1/2” at the small end. One was a dead black gum and the other a live red oak. I gave them a long point on the small end with my trusty little Boy Scout hatchet (one of my favorite tools). Then, I made holes with a crowbar where I wanted them to go by raising the bar over my head and driving it into the soil. Following that I’d ream the hole a bit, then repeat the process until I felt that the hole was both deep and wide enough to accept the pole. I tapped the poles home with a few blows from my 14 pound sledge until they were even heights. (Incidentally, no country place is complete without an old-fashioned crowbar. Mine is an inch thick and 54” long. The tempered bar was forged to a point on one end, and flat on the other. It appears to have been made from an ancient drive shaft. I’ve used it to move logs, stones, buildings, and timbers and have set many a tomato stake and bean pole with it, the latter not too deeply, of course.)

Thirdly, the baler twine from post top to post top had gone bad on me. I looked around for more baler twine, but I’d apparently used up the few pieces that a neighbor gave me when I first made the rack. Growing up, baler twine seemed like grass and autumn leaves, one of those things in life of which there would always be aplenty. Even though I used it for dozens of purposes, there were times that we would accumulate so much used twine that we’d have to load it onto the farm trailer and dump it somewhere to get it out of the barn. These days, I’d dearly love to have a few barrels full of used twine. It’s strange, sometimes, the things that can become valuable to us. I could probably still buy a two-roll bale of the new stuff at a farm supply place, but I have neither the money, nor a good place to store it. I looked in the basement for something else that might work, but found nothing, so I ended up buying 50 feet of American made camo parachute cord, found in the sporting goods section at Chinamart for about $5, just to get the eight feet plus that I needed. I found a bundle over in the hardware section for a dollar less, but it was made in China, so I paid the extra dollar.

It’s eight feet between the posts of the rack, so I made a mark four feet up on each post so that it would show the needed height to make a face-cord of firewood. (Actually, I made them at 4’1” so no-one could complain that I was shorting them, plus I always round the top of the stack slightly, for the same reason.) For 50 years, my grandfather and father sold such a measure as a “cord rick,” a common term in this area at one time. However, the term was gradually replaced by the modern term “face cord.” I quit using the old term when some dufus with a dictionary tried to argue me into selling him a full cord for the cord rick price. He stopped just short of threatening to take me to court. I told him that I’d buy every full cord of wood that he could find at that price, then easily resell it to folks happy to pay the price at which I had it advertised. He finally hung up on me.

It took me a few minutes of three different days to get this tiny task completed. In the old days, I’d have had it done in one hitch. Times have changed. At least my wood-yard is ready for business now. At the rate that I have to work these days, I’ll do well to get a face cord every couple of weeks, since there will be brush to stack and briers to cut. But, even if I AM that slow, that will buy me a tank of gas when it’s sold. Who knows, maybe I can get out a load a week; that would be a lot better. The missus will soon start telling me how ugly my little wood-yard looks there in the front yard, but that’s okay; I’ll be outside and enjoying myself! © 2016

Friday, October 14, 2016

Wouldn’t It Be Great?


Wouldn’t it be great if voters would start treating this presidential election as having the life and death importance that it has for our nation, instead of like it’s some junior high school popularity contest? Wouldn’t it be great if people looked at a candidate’s past performance, business success, voting record or other proof of competency, instead of just whether that person has some phony smarmy, bland, “harmless” personality? Wouldn’t it be great if voters quit voting for one person just to spite another? Wouldn’t it be great if people took Christ seriously in noticing the beam in their own eye, before they get all apoplexic about the splinters in the eyes of the candidates? Wouldn’t it be great if some folks quit living in the fairy tale world where third parties matter? Wouldn’t it be great if voters considered which candidate would provide the best future for their children and grandchildren, instead of whether they find them perfect enough to meet THEIR “high” moral standards? Wouldn’t it be great if everybody just grew up? © 2016

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Another One Bites The Dust

I hadn’t been out of high school for a year, probably, when the first of my classmates passed away. Since then, quite a few others have done the same, along with many, many other people that I knew from other places. While talking to my mother on the phone this evening, she told me that my ex-brother-in-law passed away Monday. I hadn’t seen him for 35 years, or longer (when I got divorced), and had wondered where he’d ended up. It turned out that he still lived here in town and was co-owner of a bar that I drive by a couple times a week.

He and his mother were the only two people in life that I ever hated. My feelings were due to the way they treated my ex before we were married. I finally figured out that my feelings were hurting no-one but myself and got a handle on my emotions. However, I never developed any respect for either one of them, but once married, I managed to get along with him and his mother for my wife’s sake. Sometimes, I wonder if the reason she married me was a subconscious desire to get out of a bad home situation.

He was one of those rare individuals who could do anything he turned his hand to doing. He was an excellent brick and block layer, could do ANYTHING related to construction, was a very talented mechanic and a pretty good guitar picker from what I remember. He wasn’t afraid of hard work and supported his family well enough from all I’ve ever heard. Unfortunately, when he was young, he liked to spend his spare time smoking weed and running around with his friends, or staying home drinking and beating his wife. I don’t think that marriage lasted long. I don’t know if he had any others. He DID have a fiancée when he died.

He left behind his sisters, a son, three grandkids and a deceased daughter, I think Mom told me. I closed that chapter of my life long ago, so I won’t go to the funeral or even send a card, but I still feel bad for the family. Like me, he was 61 and had weight problems, so I suppose his heart got him.

The saddest thing is that I doubt if he, OR any of his family ever accepted the Lord. © 2016

I Give Up

I believe this presidential election is the most important election in the history of the United States. We have a choice between a candidate that is literally serving Satan, and one that is talented, patriotic, and savvy, but who sometimes has all the charm of a bull moose. And then there are the “also rans”—the third party candidates; even their names don’t matter.

The intelligent folks long ago realized that there really WAS no choice if they valued the future of their nation. The haters, of course, are continuing to serve Satan, like their leader in the White House, and the one who is running to replace him. The third parties, for better or worse, are so minuscule in numbers that they serve no purpose, except to pull votes away from the patriotic candidate.

Amazingly, there are a huge number of folks out there who just can’t make up their mind about who they’re going to vote for; I call them “the mindless middle,” and I think that’s being overly kind. Now I’ve been reposting a LOT of political stuff that I see on Facebook, hoping that some of it will reach those poor mindless souls and get them to thinking. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Even more interesting to me are the Christians, who somehow think that deliberately allowing Satan to win (by not voting, or going third party) somehow makes them more moral. I’ve had discussions with a couple of them lately and it seems to me that they like to cherry-pick Bible verse to back up their warped views of morality. I believe that God gave us a brain because He meant for us to use it, but many don’t seem to look at it that way.

Yes, I know that I don’t have the corner on the market on either morality or intelligence, but this election is so day and night that there’s no excuse for indecision or self-righteousness. Still, I’ve grown tired of the insanity. I’m old and in ill health, and this election is making me older by the day. I give up. I’m going to do my best to post no more candidate-oriented posts from here on out, though I may slip up on occasion and do it before I think.

This world is going to hell on a banana peel anyway (and is supposed to, temporarily, if you read Revelation), so let it go. From here on out, I’m just going to try to sit back and let the Satan-servers, the mindless and the self-righteous go skipping off to tribulation hand in hand. One last thought for the self-righteous, though, I was raised being taught that the church is raptured BEFORE the tribulation, but the more I study Revelation, the more it appears that just isn’t so. I might croak before it comes, I hope so, but guess where that leaves YOU! © 2016

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

So Disappointed

Life has held a lot of disappointments for me, but I can’t complain much about most of them, since so many have been my own fault. There is a GREAT disappointment, however, that is NOT my doing, and it’s the most heartbreaking of all. That disappointment is seeing what this once-great nation is becoming. The “American Dream” was still viable when I was a kid but, looking back, I can see how the decline was already starting. When I was in high school, and maybe before, the “dumbing down” of America’s future voters had already begun in the schools. That means that three generations have now fallen under the brain-washing of the communists and socialists that quietly took over the field of education long ago, though most of the third generation isn’t quite voting age yet.

A perfect example is the support of Bernie Sanders among young folks. While it’s good that most of them loathe Hillary Clinton, they still support socialism, completely ignorant of the fact that socialism automatically turns to communism and that communism is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of millions of people during the 20th Century. Globalism (world-wide socialism) is the newest worry, though it’s not “new” at all. Old Man Bush was the first president to actually mention the NEW WORLD ORDER in a positive way. Eisenhower and Kennedy had spoken against it; most since then have just pretended that it didn’t exist.

This election, we have vast numbers of people who just can’t bring themselves to vote either for Trump or Clinton. They’re just too righteous, to hear them explain it. Many fully understand that the election of Clinton, after eight years of Obama, will be the final nail in America’s coffin, but they don’t care. Others really are so stupid that they don’t realize. Some say they simply won’t vote; others plan on throwing their vote away on one of the third party candidates. One is no better than the other, nor any nobler.

I actually have more respect for the gun-grabbing, sodomizing, baby-killing heathens that openly support Hillary than I do for the pseudo-righteous idiots who are literally selling their own children into globalistic slavery. They just can’t bear to dirty their hands voting for a talented, proven leader who, sometimes (unfortunately), has all the charm of a bull moose.

I’m VERY disappointed in those people, some of whom I know personally or online. Most KNOW better, that’s the irony. Sadly, if they get their way, I’m sure that the day will come when their enslaved children and grandchildren curse their very names. I’ll probably be gone. Unfortunately, many of them will be also, thus their delicate sensitivities will never have to see the death and destruction that they are wreaking on their heirs. What a pity. Nothing would be more fitting for them than to have to live in the hell-on-earth that they are ushering in for their children. © 2016