Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Notes On Rehafting Tools (replacing handles) (w/pic)

Click image to enlarge.

If you have a hammer or axe handle with a broken-off handle in it, the first thing you need to do is get the remainder of the old handle out. I normally do that by letting any handle stub hang between the jaws of my heaviest vice, so it just barely has room to move. Then I drive the old handle out using an old bolt and a heavy hammer. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE do not follow the advice that I’ve read a time or two and throw the head in a campfire to burn the handle out. That removes the temper and RUINS the tool, unless you’re an expert at retempering.

No doubt, there are better ways to get a handle (haft) in place, but after driving a handle in an axe or hammer head until it’s very tight, I simply use a half-round file to make a very slight groove around the handle, right against the head; then I drive the handle in a bit further. I keep repeating this until the handle extends beyond the tool head the desired distance (1/8” to 1/2”) and then wedge it in place. On picks and such, you pretty much have to drive in the handle (you can do this by thumping it on the ground, or floor), then take the handle back out. Look for marks where the head is tight on the handle and rasp those places down a little. Then you keep repeating the process until the head is where you want it on the handle. You then cut the extension off ¾” or more beyond the handle. (I left about 1-1/4” on my last one) Finish by rasping the edges smooth, so they’ll be less likely to splinter from being thumped around.

I must confess that I’ve only made a handful of handles in my life. I found that I could buy handles cheaply enough that it never paid me to take the time. (That may be changing, now that I’m a poverty-stricken retiree.) Of course, since handles are now made from sawn lumber, rather than split blanks, you really have to inspect the grain carefully before you buy. The least bit of run-out in the grain may cause breakage in the future, especially if the cross-grain is in the half of the handle towards the head. I prefer the grain to run from front to back in the handle, though I HAVE read of folks who prefer side to side. The only problem with front to back grain is that the handle may bow, if left out in the weather. The solution to THAT problem should be obvious.

On those tools where the handle is inserted from the top, like adzes, picks, mattocks, eye hoes, tomahawks, etc., the extension is left above the head to allow for wear and wood shrinkage. If the handle is 100% dry, it may not shrink. However, if you keep the tool for years and use it a lot, there will be some wear, since it isn’t wedged in place, but is only a friction fit. If you were to be using a pick or mattock for old-fashioned excavating, where you would be working a vertical face higher than the blade is long, you may not be able to leave as quite as much handle extended beyond the head, as it may hit the “wall” of the hole. If you’re only working blade deep, as in a flower bed, you could probably get by with more.

A lot of old picks and mattocks that I’ve seen have the protruding handle worn into a dome shape, rather than the straight cut as it began. This is usually from hitting the wall, but is also caused by storing the tool by standing it on dirt or concrete. That allows moisture to wick into the handle and rot off a bit at a time. The same thing can happen with axes and sledge hammers and such. I’ve seen tools where the handle was sound, but the wood in the eye of the tool was too rotten to allow the tool to be used. To prevent that problem, either hang the tool up when not in use, or put a brick or something under the end of the head so the handle stub won’t come in contact with the ground or concrete. It’s best to put something water-proof, like a piece of asphalt shingle atop the brick, too. Naturally, if you store the tool in a building with an above ground wooden floor, there is no concern at all. Incidentally, I’ve seen some really old tools that had shims of tin, rawhide, or leather in the eye to make an otherwise worn-out handle serve a while longer.

On tools that have a handle that fits in the head from the bottom (axes, hammers, etc.), little extension is needed. Since the eyes of those tools normally have a double taper, they are wedged in place. When installing the handle, I’ve learned to take a file and chamfer the top of the wedge slot a little, which makes it easier to start the wedge, once the handle is driven in place. After the wooden wedge is firmly in place, I trim the stub to the desired length. If there’s a gap front to back in the eye, use the little metal wedges made for that purpose and drive them in cross-wise of the wooden wedge. They can usually be placed near the center in a hammer handle. On an axe handle, I use two if any are needed, and place one about an inch from each narrow edge of the handle. If the handle shrinks a little more with time, just drive the handle in deeper and drive the wedge(s) in further.

This article doesn’t cover everything, of course, but if you have any questions, I’ll answer them if I can. © 2016

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

A Mish-Mash Of Mush-Mosh

I haven’t got much done this past week, between my cold and the weather. Two days, I did absolutely nothing. I have managed to get a little wood drug up by my wood pile and throw some smaller limbs down by the brush heap, plus trim a couple poles on which I’ll stack small piles of wood (about 1/5 of a face cord). Next year, I may try selling some bundles, as they would bring more money per cord than selling “bulk.” I cleaned some tools out of the back of my truck, in preparation for putting a couple other things in for winter driving. I also whacked the extra length from my mattock handle. I may do a picture and a few comments on the subject later this week. Incidentally, feel free to follow me on Facebook, too. I repost links on religion, politics, homesteading, gardening, survival, prepping and anything else that strikes my fancy. Look for MY name, though, not the blog name.

I found some unopened multi-symptom cough syrup under my bathroom counter which came in handy for a couple days. I had to back off on it, though, as it was making my sinuses TOO dry and seemed to be affecting my sense of smell. My wife’s cooking smelled like she was using a mix of stale olive oil and paraffin to cook with and it nearly made me sick every time she cooked. She just switched to Chinamart butter from the good stuff, though, so it might be that. Then again, I guess I could be pregnant.

Finally, my doc’s office called back yesterday (the 28th), after leaving a message on the 18th for me to call them on the 21st. I called them then, and on the 22nd, and yesterday. It turns out that now that the staff is back to doing their job, the doc is off all week. I’m planning on being in his office when he comes in Tuesday and waiting to see him, even if I have to camp there a couple days. I’m hoping to get some hormone replacement for what my meds (or my age and weight) have killed off so I can resolve a certain problem that I’ve discussed here before. The nurse told me, though, that Medicaid won’t usually cover that sort of thing, and it costs $150 a month if you buy it yourself. Maybe I’ll just get a sex change; Obama would probably pay for it!

It’s supposed to rain here tomorrow, but I’d gladly give it to Tennessee and Israel if I could. Terrorists set the fires in Israel, and they plan on doing the same here, I’ve read. Who knows, some of the ones down south may have been started by ragheads. I’ve said all along that it’s time that we go back to shooting looters and vandals on sight; maybe it’s time we do the same with arsonists, especially if they think that they’ll be rewarded with 72 perpetual virgins. We’d be doing them a favor; don’t you think?

They keep showing the picture and giving the name of the campus cop that killed the latest terrorist at OSU. I guess they want to set him up to be murdered in revenge by another raghead. People have no sense. Of course, what can we expect from folks who probably voted for Killary?

Well, that’s probably as much of my blather and diatribes as you can handle for today; I hope you recover if it was too much. I WILL ask you to pray for the folks where the wildfires are burning, both here and in Israel. May God bless the ones who do so. © 2016

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Fighting A Cold And Visiting Chinamart

About a week ago, I worked outside for about a half-hour in the wind and ended up with a head-ache. It hung on for a week and wouldn’t respond to acetaminophen or ibuprofen, so I figured it was either turning into a sinus infection or a cold. Since I wasn’t really showing any obvious signs of a cold, the missus thought I was just being a hypochondriac, which is her usual thinking. However, the sneezing and snotting kicked in yesterday, so she finally realized that I wasn’t blowing smoke. I got some over-the-counter cold dope and the head-ache is gone and the sneezing and snotting is greatly reduced. Still, I spent so much time sneezing and blowing my nose last night that I didn’t fall asleep until sometime after 3am. Also, my sinuses were blocked badly enough that I couldn’t use my C-PAP machine. I doubt if I can tonight, either.

Yesterday, despite barely being able to walk anymore (because of pain in her hip), my wife decided that she wanted to go to the mall and take a round. We had just barely got into the beginning of gridlock when we remembered that it was “Black Friday.” (Remember when that meant the supposed day of the crucifixion?) We managed to drive around a block and change directions, so we headed for the Chinamart on the far side of town. It was busy, but bearable. The missus got about half what we needed before she got tired of the crowd and we went home.

While there, I cornered the store manager and thanked him for having the only store in the area that had a reasonable number of handicapped scooters. Most stores have only about half of what they need. Most stores are forgetting that we baby-boomers are hitting retirement age, and a lot of us aren’t in very good shape.

Today, we went to the Chinamart up next to the mall. Traffic was heavy, but not like yesterday. My wife picked up most of the stuff she hadn’t gotten yesterday, while I tried snoozing in the truck. They have a big Toys-For-Tots thing up there and some other things that may or may not be related. They have a fake steam train that they blow the “whistle” on every few minutes, and there were some elves and the Grinch dancing around to deafening music and hugging any little kid who would let them. Darth Vader and three of his “friends” were there, too, for some reason. I found it amusing that it was mostly adults who wanted their picture taken with the galactic goofball. You have to wonder if some folks ever grow up. (Incidentally, Word recognized “Darth Vader” with no problem, yet many common words of the English language get underlined—more proof that the system was set up by under-educated “kids.”

I watched the last 40 minutes of a Gaither musical/history program called “Circuit Rider,” a little while ago. One of my great-grandfathers started out as a circuit rider. I told my wife that if those old-time preachers could hear a lot of what passes for religious music these days, they’d probably think it was the work of the devil. They sort of got to rockin’ and a-rollin’ a couple times! Oh well, to each their own; we enjoyed MOST of the show.

I’m feeling tired, though it’s only 9pm. I may hit the hay soon, but that doesn’t mean that I’ll sleep. I guess if I don’t, I can always do like I did last night and study in Genesis a while. © 2016

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Log Chains For My Log Skidder (w/pics)

Well what’d ya expect; I’m a po’ boy ya know!

Click images to enlarge.

I’m not sure that it was a good investment to sell my farm tractor to afford truck-driving school. However, I had no way to know that I’d develop heart problems and have to quit driving after less than a year-and-a-half. So, my tractor and equipment are gone. That leaves only my pick-up, my lawn tractor and a pair of weak legs to work with. I’ll make do, though.

My truck has a hitch tube, so if I want to pull a chain with it, I just insert a ball and make a loop in the chain. Those who’ve used trucks for such things know that more depends on traction than power, so a little extra weight in the back, good tread, four-wheel drive if you have it, and an easy touch on the gas pedal can achieve wonders.

As for my weak legs, they used to be strong legs, but bursitis in both hips has pretty-much confined them to moving light loads for short distances.

That leaves my lawn tractor for loads heavier than I want to bother with or, more often, distances that I can’t handle anymore. My lawn tractor is a twin cylinder, 20 horse Snapper, a far cry from the old 20 horse farm tractors that some companies used to put out. Weight and torque make a BIG difference in performance! Still, it has more power than I do, so I decided to put it to use.

The first thing I did was to measure the size of the little hole in the back rim of the tractor body which the company expects you to use for attaching toy trailers. Somehow, I just didn’t want to try pulling from a half-inch hole only a half inch from the edge of a thin piece of steel. Therefore, I got a ball that normally is used to pull the sulky on a Gravely walk-behind mower, and mounted it like a regular hitch, instead of upside-down, like on a Gravely. I used a couple fender washers under the hitch and a regular washer below two more fender washers UNDER the steel lip to help distribute pressure over a larger area. Then I rigged up a five foot length of ¼” chain with a grab-hook on one end and a 2” ring on the other. That was a few years ago, and the rig served me well.

Unfortunately, that little chain walked off and hid somewhere in the past year, so I’ve been using a much longer chain of the same link size that I once used as a binder chain, back when I actually worked in the woods. Since I’m going to start fiddling with cutting a little firewood and hope to get my chainsaw mill running this winter, I wanted to get a another short chain set up. Sadly, being a poor old codger, I was going to have to wait until next month to afford the chain I wanted.

As fate would have it, when poking around in the basement, I discovered 10’ of chain that I’d bought long ago for some long forgotten project. It was one size smaller than ¼”, but it looked like it would hold all that my humongous log skidder could pull, so I cut it in half.  I raided my change jar and found that I had enough to buy four ¼” S-hooks. Using the vice, I attached one to each end of the two 5’ chain lengths. I was planning to put a grab hook on one end of each chain, and a ring on the other. I didn’t find any grab hooks that small, though, and realizing that the S-hooks would stand the pressure and would hook INTO a link, rather than across one, I decided to save the money and just use the chains the way they were. Without putting the ring on the other end, I can shorten the chain length by making the loop around the ball larger. As you can see from the photos, the set-up works fine. © 2016

Sunday, November 20, 2016

I Almost Didn’t Type This Up

The missus and I had a very enjoyable time with “the kids” (my stepson and his wife) and our youngest granddaughter yesterday. They’re good kids and we love them dearly; unfortunately, they’re also a couple of third party voters. As many of you know, I’ve been rather vocal this election on folks throwing their votes away, so I was concerned about putting this out there, since they might think that it was done for them. It isn’t, but you KNOW that I can’t keep my mouth shut when something’s on my mind!

All across the country, there are hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of people who chose to waste their votes. I’ve said enough as to why I think that is, for the most part, so I won’t dissect that political corpse fully today. As I think about it, though, the only way that I can fathom a person squandering their precious vote on an obvious loser in a race between multiple candidates, is if they believe that the outcome is a foregone conclusion. I’m not saying that’s really the case, I’m just saying that’s the only conceivable reason THAT I CAN UNDERSTAND.

This election was such an obvious night and day situation that no-one could think otherwise without lying to themselves. Trump may not be very likable at times, but he is NOT deliberately and thoroughly evil like Hillary. Unfortunately, the last couple of generations have been turned into “touchy-feely” wimps by our socialist school system. As a result, they just didn’t “feel” that they could vote for Trump, since he wasn’t all warm and fuzzy.

Despite what some folks like to say, this election was NOT a landside, only the Electoral College, that system that prevents places like New York and California from running the whole country, made it LOOK that way due to the winner-take-all rules in most states. Let’s pretend for a minute that the election eventually came down to awaiting the voting results of ONE state. Perhaps, even a small one like West Virginia with its five little votes in the Electoral College. And let’s further pretend that the vote was so close here that Hillary had won by ONE vote, and so she won the election. Would those third party voters still feel so smug about their “feelings” and their righteousness, KNOWING that THEY were the ones responsible for electing the most vile, corrupt person to the presidency in the entire history of the United States?

THAT is the danger of throwing your vote away on predictable losers to spite someone else. EVERY election has the potential to be that close. YOUR individual vote might be the one that throws your state’s electoral votes to one candidate or the other. It is the nation’s very survival that can be at stake; it is the future of your children and grandchildren that is ALWAYS at stake. All-in-all, I see very little difference between the maturity of throwing away of a precious vote, that past generations have LITERALLY fought and died to give you, and the “snowflakes” with their coloring books in the “crying rooms” of America’s colleges. © 2016

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Old Yeller…….PAINT!

My maternal grandfather was a hard worker, but he was never very well off. Over the years, he’d worked in an ice plant and a shipyard and had spent the last couple decades of his working life as a drywall contractor. His favorite thing, though, was gardening, with farming a distance second, and he ALWAYS lived on a farm. Not being particularly well off, he well understood the wisdom of not buying cheap tools, though he occasionally made an error in judgment on the matter.

Naturally, when you invest the money in a good tool, you don’t want to “lose” it. Unfortunately, he and Grandma lived at the mouth of a small hollow, at the intersection of two country roads. There was a fair amount of traffic on those roads, and the access to the back of his barn was nearly impossible to keep an eye on. And of course, night has its “creepy crawlers,” who sneak around looking for things to “liberate.” As a result, Granddad had more than one tool over the years that grew legs and walked off. He scratched his head and tried to think of how he might protect things that he couldn’t see for hours at a stretch.

His answer was paint, and not just ANY paint, but canary yellow! For one thing, he figured that color would be easier to spot when working outdoors. That meant that he WOULD be less likely to actually lose a tool unless, of course, he happened to be working in an aspen or maple grove in autumn. Then, it wasn’t as perfect an idea as it first seemed. Also, something I noticed, when I went in his barn to get a tool, was that I was confronted with a great mass of yellow, where everything blended with everything. Finding tools there was harder than you’d imagine.

However, the idea DID seem to greatly reduce the tools that grew legs by miraculous evolution. For one thing, Granddad didn’t just paint them with a light coat that might be easily removed. He completely saturated those tools with the bright yellow paint. Some tools, like axes, saws and chisels didn’t even work as well as they should, since the paint wasn’t nearly as “slippery” as polished steel, and he painted right up to the cutting edge. He also soaked the joints between wood and steel to the point where it would take a monumental effort to clean the tool well enough for a midnight requisition worker to pass it off as his own tool, if he went to sell it. Not surprisingly, all the country neighbors for miles eventually noticed that his tools were all yellow. If one fell off his farm trailer and onto the county road, more than likely, a neighbor would see it and bring it to him. I guess I’d have to say that the idea worked for him.

Granddad has been gone for 21 years now. I have several of his tools in my basement, but I’ve used very few of them. The wrenches are so covered with multiple layers of paint that they often don’t fit the nuts they’re supposed to fit. Also, the lettering is covered and you have to guess the size to begin with. Jointed tools, like tin snips and pruners, often have so much paint on them that they simply refuse to work anymore. It’s always been simpler just to maintain my own tools, and even buy a new one if I must, than to remove all the paint and restore them to working condition.

Now that I’m retired, though, I have more time and less money, and that pile of yellow tools seems to be taunting me. Besides, in my old age, I much prefer hand tools to power tools, and a few of those tools are ones that I could put to use, IF they were “depainted” and restored. So, the other day, when I went to Rural King to get some naphtha, I instead got a heat gun that was on sale for the same price as a gallon of the solvent. Voila! I now have another project for this winter! At this rate, I can’t croak for several more winters, or I won’t get my work done. © 2016

Friday, November 18, 2016

We ALMOST Had A Good Day

It was a warm and beautiful day here today and, since there was a place several miles east of town that I wanted to go, I asked my wife if she’d like to take a ride. So, we headed east on the four-lane incarnation of the old Northwestern Pike until we came to the first loop of the old two-lane. We prefer the back roads when they’re available. We had a good time seeing the countryside and an occasional splotch of color on the otherwise leafless hills. It had been over a year since I’d been out that way driving dump truck. It may have been TWO years since I’d taken my wife out that way. There’s not much money for gas anymore, so we stay pretty close to home.

The missus wasn’t thrilled when I stopped at a gun shop to see if they carried a couple spouts for my black powder flasks. Unfortunately, they didn’t stock them. I guess I’ll have to order them online, since the local shop that used to stock them doesn’t seem to be open anymore.

Not two minutes after we left the shop, still heading east, the truck started acting like it had a tire out of balance or lose lug nuts. It came on so suddenly, that I pretty much ruled out the latter. I stopped and checked to see if a low tire was the problem, but they all looked normal. With my wife, everything is either perfect or unbearable; there’s never any middle ground. SO, instead of proceeding cautiously, nothing would do but that we end our trip several miles sooner than intended, turn around and flee homeward on the four-lane. I was pretty disgusted, but neither logic nor argument has any clout with her, so we came home.

The truck behaved perfectly the whole way back, so it may have just been a matter of traveling a rough stretch of road at just the wrong speed. I’ll double-check the lug nuts tomorrow, but if it acts up again, I’ll take my salsa red Toyota lemon to the tire shop Monday and have them check the balance on the tires. I guess one of the wheels could have thrown a weight, considering all the potholes we have around here.

I DID manage to salvage my own day slightly, by installing the tires on my sawmill frame and using the lawn tractor to pull it from the bench below the house to the backyard. Naturally, that didn’t please the missus, but I can work on it easier there and get it finished up. Having always been used to having a sawmill in the family until about 15 years ago, it really torques me to see lumber prices so high that I can’t even afford to buy stock for SMALL projects anymore. I plan on that changing soon.

The pooch and I had a good porch sit before it got dark, so the day ended pretty well for the two of us. Bad weather may soon be here, though. BAH! HUMBUG! © 2016

Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Results Are In (to my blood test)

I’ve mentioned here before that, for the last year or so, my chest has begun to look slightly like Bruce Jenner’s. The problem IS, that I’d rather it didn’t. It’s just barely noticeable, since I’m a butterball anyway, but I get really tired of having a sore chest like a 13-year-old girl, or a nursing mother. The problem could be my age, my weight or, more likely, the fact that I’ve been taking up to four medications at one time that can have that side effect.

I’ve mentioned it to both my regular MD and my heart doctor. As a result, they’ve changed my medications a couple times. However, the problem continues to wax and wane. SO, I asked my heart doctor at the last visit if they ever treated the problem with male hormones. He said not unless I test low on them and told me to have my doctor do a blood test. I reminded him who my doctor was and he laughed and ordered the test himself.

About 10 days after the blood was drawn, I finally got a call from the heart doctor’s nurse saying that my hormone level was indeed low, and that I should contact my doctor, meaning my MD. I WILL get treatment, unless I have to pay for it myself. I tried calling today, but I was through the entire menu, and ready to leave a message, when the answering machine hung up on me because it was their lunch time. You see, they only run their machine when they’re there to ignore it. I’m NOT joking!

The thing I wonder is, why did I have to be the one to get the ball rolling? They’re doctors, for heaven’s sake; they should have found out about this a LONG time ago. I can guarantee you that if it was THEM growing boobs, they’d have been right on it. I consider it incompetence and a lack of caring on the part of my MD, and a false assumption on the part of my heart doctor that my MD was doing his job. It’s obvious that, from now on, I’m going to have to be a LOT more proactive concerning my healthcare. © 2016

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

No Work Today

The third Wednesday is the day that my disability funds become available each month. So, I went to the bank and withdrew them, gave the missus her spending money for the month, bought us a salad at Wendy’s and then picked up a couple things that I needed.

First, I had my air tank filled at a local auto repair shop. I’ve dealt there for years, so they don’t charge me anything. I’d love to have an electric powered compressor, but can’t spare the funds and would have no safe place to store it anyway. The only time that I need it, normally, is to pump up a tire on my lawn tractor. I need to take it off and have the slow leak located; then, I’d rarely need the tank at all.

Next, I went to the mom and pop hardware store a couple blocks further on and picked up some things. First, I needed a new tip for my cane. The newer ones cost 50% more than they did a year ago, have less material in them, and only last about half as long. “Progress,” I guess. I also got a couple wire wheels to use in my portable drills to clean metal parts, especially the tools that I plan to rehaft this winter. Since I can’t currently locate my spade bits in the basement, I bought a 5/8” bit to drill a couple holes I need in my sawmill frame. I think I put all my bits in a box, so I that wouldn’t misplace them. Unfortunately, I can’t find the box. I hope I will, if I can reorganize the basement this winter.

I wanted to go to Rural King and check out their blue jeans and pick up some naphtha to degrease saw chains, but we got a later start than I’d planned on originally, so I decided to do that another day. Instead, we went to Chinamart and picked up a couple things the missus and I needed for our holiday meals. On the way home, we stopped and got the pooch a grilled chicken sandwich, since she hadn’t had one for a long time. She enjoyed it. After putting the groceries away, we went back in and got a cheap pizza for supper. We felt that we needed something terribly unhealthy to help offset the salad we’d had for lunch. Except for my wife’s birthday dinner tomorrow, today will be our main food splurge for the month. I’ll probably take her to Olive Garden, but that’s up to her.

When I finish typing this up, I’ll divide up the paltry amount that I get into weekly budgets, put them in envelopes and give them to my wife. She’ll then put them in her purse with her pistol and they’ll be guarded with her life. I used to handle everything, but she always complained about my management style, so I gave her the job. It seems to make her happy, so life is more peaceful now.

I’m pretty sure that I won’t get anything done on the wife’s big day, so I guess it will be Friday before I can get back to work on my firewood project. One thing about work, if you don’t get it finished, it will always be there taunting you! © 2016

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Playing In The Wood-Yard

It was sunny here today, so after putting out the trash, and then eating an early lunch, I went outside to play. Play is about what I have to call it anymore, since I no longer have the ability to do a day’s work. Still, I stacked a few pieces of 20” long wood in the rack that I showed you in some previous post. There were a few sticks of cherry that didn’t need split, and a few aspen of a similar size, so they went in the stack first. Then it was time to start splitting the larger pieces.

First, I retrieved the splitting maul that I picked up cheap in Amish country a couple years ago and replaced the duct tape wrap over the somewhat splintered area next to the head. I had purchased “Duck Tape” at Chinamart for the task, but I won’t make that mistake again. It’s thin as tissue paper and not very sticky. I reckon it’s that old “you get what you pay for” deal. Still, I think it will do the job,…….for a while.

It’s probably been WELL over a year since I’ve split any wood. On the first swing, it felt like I’d broken my left shoulder, which also threw off my aim. (How’s THAT for an excuse?) The doc told me that surgery for the problem would involve whacking out some bone to make more room for the tendon there. That didn’t sound good, especially when combined with the knowledge that the hospital blood-suckers had collapsed every vein in both arms when they put in my defibrillator back in February. I swore then that I’d never willingly go into surgery again.

Since pain is a part of life, I swung again. It was still extremely painful, but seemed less so. The next swing hurt a little less, and the next even less. The biggest problem was that the 10” diameter piece of aspen kept trying to eat the maul, and STILL wasn’t split. So, I walked over to the truck and got a splitting wedge and went back to work. The small strokes of tapping in a wedge were much less painful than a full-out swing, but the wedge was nearly buried before the piece finally opened enough to allow me to finish with the maul. (Spell-Check doesn’t like the word “maul,” but refuses to allow me to add it to the dictionary. Charming! (Gee, as if I didn’t know that “Charming!” is a fragment!))

Each swing of the maul still hurt, but my shoulder DID seem to be loosening up a little. Each piece of aspen down to 6” had to be split with a wedge, though all except the first three could be split from halves to quarters with the maul. Unfortunately, I could split two pieces at the most, and stack them, before I had to sit down to catch my breath and rest my back.

I still get light-headed when sitting down after the slightest exertion. The docs can’t figure it out, since it’s NOT when I stand up. Sometimes, doctors are kinda worthless. The guru put out a theory that my body maintains a certain amount of blood pressure as long as I’m moving a bit and standing. Upon sitting though, it senses that degree of pressure is no longer needed, so it crashes for a minute. That’s more than the doctors could come up with, so I think I’ll go with it. After a few seconds of feeling like I’m going to faint, the light-headedness and the spots before my eyes gradually go away. (Here, Spell-Check doesn’t know what constitutes a sentence fragment.) Then, I take a sip of water; wait until my breathing is completely normal and go split another piece or two.

I was well over an hour splitting and stacking only a quarter of a face cord, but that’s a start. Every time the breeze stirred a little extra hard, I was surrounded with falling leaves, reminding me that this is my favorite time of year. Then, my wife called me to come inside and perform my husbandly duty of visiting with her and the dog until the 700 Club came on. I’d hoped to return to my task afterwards, but the missus (and the dog) wanted to go for a drive in the autumn sunshine. How could I refuse them? © 2016

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Weeping Socialists – A New Era

The times they are achangin’. Socialists used to get in power by the their supporters protesting in the streets and then voting in whatever form of elections there were in their home countries. As they infiltrated the government and society, they passed more and more laws allowing them to live on other people’s money. They also got bureaucrats in place who would achieve through regulation what was unable to be done through legislation. We’ve seen FAR too much of both in this country, but socialism usually comes by gradual, peaceful transition. What we’ve seen in this country has often been called “creeping socialism” for that very reason.

A few younger folks that I know like to call it “democratic socialism,” since it IS usually brought on by voting, as opposed to the point of a bayonet. The long range effect is the same, though, it gradually stifles small business (and even large business, but to a lesser degree). It frequently turns a nation into a system of what has recently been called “crony capitalism,” but which is actually a form of fascism. Fascism normally allows the continued ownership of property, though it may become prohibitively expense to hang onto. However, socialism CAN turn into communism eventually, at which time the point of the bayonet WILL appear.

Communism is ALWAYS brought on with bayonets. The revolutions may be small and seemingly unproductive for many years. However, if they don’t outright conquer their opposition, they eventually either convince the majority of the population into voting for them, or simply frighten them into silence, usually the latter. Communism ALWAYS demands gun control, since they don’t want the populace to be able to resist them.

A speedy conversion to Fascism may also demand gun control, however, such as Hitler’s Germany. It should be remembered that Hillary Clinton is a fanatic about bringing on gun control. I believe that is because she was seeking to bring on neither the socialism that she pretended, nor outright communism, but a Hitler-like form of fascism. Fascism, like communism, is ALWAYS corrupt, and Clinton certainly had that part down pat.

Most of her supporters, though, don’t fit the profile of normal socialists. Most pretend to honor freedom and personal ambition, however, many are part of the entitlement generation. Most of the remainder are like the whiny little kiddies we saw weeping after Hillary lost, gathered in piles, like flotsam on the beach. They didn’t protest, though they may have shouted obscenities at anyone who didn’t agree with them. (Nearly all the protesters have been hired to do so by Soros.)  Instead they are a part of the “sensitive” crowd who believe that anyone who disagrees with them hates their guts, is racist or has some other major character flaw.

They need their safe places on college campuses, where they can quietly come to grips with the fact that not everyone believes as they do. (I’ve always wondered if the colleges provide safe places for CONSERVATIVE cry babies. I doubt it, but then, conservative young folks AREN’T CRYBABIES IN THE FIRST PLACE!) It says everything that needs said about the maturity of the new weeping socialists that they needed a “cry day” after the election, where they didn’t have to take any tests at their college. It says even more that Cornell University gave them COLORING BOOKS AND PLAY-DOH to help calm them down. Remember, at that same age, their grandfathers were conquering the evil empires of Germany and Japan!

As has been said elsewhere, we have raised a nation of “snowflakes” that will melt at the least sign of upset in their life. These sad excuses for human beings will age, will raise children, will vote their “feelings” and will ultimately bring us into full-fledged socialism. More than likely, that socialism will be only a short transitory stage before full-fledged fascism or communism.

 I fear for my grandchildren, but maybe I shouldn’t—the schools are thoroughly training them to make the transition and they seem to be learning it well. Please forgive me the sarcasm when I ask, “Why doesn’t that console me?” © 2016


Friday, November 11, 2016

I wonder

As usual, I got up on the wrong side of the bed today—twice. Suffice it to say that it involved the little woman and the little dog. Order was restored by early lunch time, so I sat in her nib’s bedroom/TV room and watched Obama “place” a wreath at the Grave of the Unknown Soldier in complete silence. The silence was due to the TV being on mute, the missus being in the kitchen and the remote being lost somewhere in her tangle of covers on the opposite side of the room. Watching a silent TV isn’t ALL bad, I’ve learned, for you can supply your own script.

This time, though, I was watching and thinking about our out-going so-called president. Unless I missed something, he seemed to behave himself today. He looked somber and respectful as the situation should merit. There was no crotch salute or arrogant rhetoric from what I could see. I had to wonder, of course, whether his somber demeanor might be due to the knowledge that he would soon be kissing his position as big cheese good-bye forever. After Trump’s inauguration, he’ll have to pay for his own golf games and vacations. I’m sure it troubles him that his so-called “legacy” may soon be only a small, ugly pimple scar on America’s backside.

Could it be, at this late moment, that he was realizing the years of lost opportunity to do something positive for the nation? Could it be that, far too late, he was realizing the great privilege that he had been given by being entrusted with the leadership of this nation? Could it be that at the last moment, he has gained a tiny mote of wisdom about what he had won and squandered? Sadly, I seriously doubt if that’s the case. © 2016

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Measuring And Marking Logs And Firewood (w/pic)

Click image to enlarge.

For nearly 70 years, my granddad, dad and/or I sold firewood, logs, and/or lumber. My granddad passed in 1963, my dad in 1984. I stopped sawmilling in1995 and selling logs and firewood in 2005.

Logs and lumber generally need to be certain lengths, so as to not lose money from cutting at non-standard lengths. For most markets, that means even lengths, like 8, 10, 12, 14 and 16’. A few places buy as short as 6’ and/or odd lengths like 7 or 9’ and so on.

The earliest measuring device that I remember Dad using was a 12’ pole. It was only about an inch wide and ¾ or 7/8” thick. It was either hexagonal or octagonal in shape, with all sides planed or sanded in some way, with the corners VERY slightly relieved. On the widest two sides, a shallow groove ran from end to end. It seemed to be made of a light-colored, hard, close-grained wood, but I don’t know what it may have been. I do know that he’d gotten them from my maternal grandfather, but I have NO idea what they may have originally been made for. Dad had made tiny grooves around the pole every 2’, plus one at 11’. That allowed him to use it either for measuring logs or 2’ firewood, which was the most common length back then. All logs were cut 3 or 4” longer than the base length, to allow for end trimming. Cross-tie logs were required to be 6” longer than base length, as were the ties themselves.

Eventually, both of our poles got busted up and Dad used a ½ x 2” lath, 10’ 2” long, for the same purpose. When we began selling Christmas trees, we used the same pole to measure them. After Dad passed away, I used it to measure trees, but I just used the 3’ handle of my double-bitted axe to measure logs. That usually required either estimating the trim length by eye, if adding, or by using a hand span, if subtracting. Eventually, a guy who hunted the farm gave me a little camper’s tool kit that included a small single-bitted axe with a stamped and riveted head and a 27” handle. I used a pen-knife to score the handle slightly at 20 and 24,” since by that time, I cut more 20” wood, but I could still use the axe to mark logs and trim SMALL limbs.

Before too long, I got a logger’s tape and often didn’t mark my logs at all, but simply walked along one side of the trunk and cut the logs where the tape showed that I should. Of course, you have to add the log lengths and the trim length in your head, so you won’t end up with the wrong length logs, but that’s no problem.

I no longer deliver firewood, but I DO occasionally sell a load here at the house, when I trim a little around the edge of the lawn, or a tree dies or blows over nearby. I use my little marking axe for measuring and marking the firewood still. It’s about 20 years old now, but age doesn’t hurt its marking ability. To use it, I just make the top of the pole even with the butt end of the log, look to see where the 20” mark is, make a mark there, and then put the top of the pole on that mark and repeat the process to the end of what I want to use for wood. The photo of my marking axe shows the two marks at 20 and 24”, but you may have to look close to see them. © 2016

Sunday, November 6, 2016

“Modern” Voting In West Virginia

West Virginia is two-thirds democrat, so the state doesn’t do ANYTHING, unless it benefits the democrats in some way. A few years ago, my county went to computerized ballots. I told my wife that it probably had nothing to do with ease of counting or with “hanging chads.” Older folks tend to vote more conservative than younger folks, and many older folks don’t feel comfortable voting by computer. As a result, the democrats KNEW that some older voters would quit voting, and that was apparently fine by them. Also, unlike the old days when paper ballots presented a certain amount of physical evidence to be overcome to rig an election (though it was often done), computerized voting can be rigged so even an expert has a hard time detecting it. I figure that gave the democrats in West Virginia a double advantage. My wife was one of those who quit voting when we said good-bye to paper ballots.

This election, the state won’t allow you to vote a straight ticket. You must vote for each office separately. Once again, some older folks in BOTH parties will decide that it’s too cumbersome and confusing, and simply stop voting. Once again, the democrat leadership must feel that’s just hunky-dory. Even older democrats would balk at some of the donkeys on the ballot THIS year, so the state committee probably hopes the old folks WILL stay home.

Naturally, they have a great humanitarian excuse for the change. They say that many folks who voted straight tickets didn’t bother to vote on the levies and bonds at the end of the ballot. They say that since folks have to go clear through the ballot this year, many more will vote on the school bonds and such. Maybe they’re right, but they’re thinking those voters will SUPPORT those levies and bonds. I think they may be in for a rude awakening. Old folks have NO desire to raise their own taxes, especially since most live on a fixed income.

I certainly won’t be voting for any school bond; I haven’t for years. The board’s method is to refuse to maintain what properties they have, so they can say that their buildings are falling down and they need new ones. This year, it also includes tearing down the school in one town and closing the school in a country community. They then plan to bus them to the new building that they hope to build in the town. I’ve watched the board keep throwing money at education for half a century, and they turn out dumber students every year. Maybe more folks WILL stay and vote for the levies; then again, maybe they’ll just vote for president and go home.

Interestingly enough, I have yet to hear of any voting irregularities in the early voting in West Virginia. Ironically, some states that often look askance at West Virginia have had all kinds of problems with their voting machines changing republican votes to democrat. These are “interesting” times. © 2016

The Good, The Bad, And The Boring

I had a really upsetting dream after I took the pooch out before dawn. My dad has been gone for 32 years now but, in my dream, he and I were working out in our tree fields and caught someone stealing limestone from our driveway. The two scoundrels ran off with Dad in hot pursuit, but left their truck in place. In the distance, I saw about a dozen guys join the other two and start beating Dad to the point where he ended up on the ground, apparently unconscious, with a couple guys still beating on him. I started to go to his rescue, but knew it would be the same for me if I did, so I hoped he’d still be alive on my return and started running for the house to get a rifle. That’s when I woke up, heart racing and breathing like I’d been running.

That’s the first time that I’ve ever had such a dream. I had to wonder why and asked the Lord if there was a lesson in it. I can’t say that I received an answer, but the thought went through my head that we live in dangerous times and I hadn’t been packing my pistol lately. Who’s to say?

This afternoon, I took the missus to the Chinamart on the other side of town to pick up a couple things the other one didn’t have yesterday. While she was shopping, I went next door to Lowe’s and picked up a couple blades for my battery-powered reciprocal saw by DeWalt (think little yellow Sawzall). Sadly, the blades are made in China anymore. I suppose the saw motors are, too. I don’t think they were when I originally bought mine several years ago. At least I can get out onto my roof now, with a little work at cutting out my bedroom window.

When I got home, I discovered that I’m blocked from posting on Facebook for 24 hours, because I advertised a firearm on a buy-sell-trade site. Actually, I’ve done it before, and so have others, but some “Good Samaritan” must have complained. I can’t even “like” someone else’s post. In fact, the system tried its best to keep me off Facebook entirely, but I persisted and it finally let me on, for whatever difference it made. They may allow the next thing to porn on there, and tell lies as big as all outdoors, but at least they’re doing their thing to fight “gun violence!” Kinda makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, seeing how they care about us like they do.

I had a headache, when we got back from Chinamart, so I didn’t immediately go outside and do some work as I should have, so the “early” darkness caught me before I felt any better. After missing three hours of sleep after my dream this morning, I could have used a nap, but didn’t get it. It’s gonna be a looooong evening. We’ll watch the Kilcher’s at nine, I realize that even on THAT show, some things are probably primarily for the camera, but being country folks, the missus and I find it the most realistic “reality” show on the air. A couple of the folks are a little goofy, but I don’t think that part is put on.

I hope to get up a little earlier this week, so I can cut some firewood to sell. It’s supposed to be cool, but nice, all week. Hopefully, my chainsaw will start without the carburetor needing “de-gummed” from sitting too long (probably three months at this point). I may cut a few bean poles and tomato stakes this winter to sell next spring, too. We used to sell a LOT of them, but life was very different then. I guess I’ll find out if there’s still a market. © 2016

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Trivia Du Jour (2 pics)

I took the missus to Chinamart today. Before I went in, I picked what I’m sure is the last batch of wild greens for the year. I got about an even mix of dandelion and dock, with a little plantain thrown in. I got a handicapped cart from a lady who was leaving and went inside and got the bottled water, so my wife wouldn’t have to lift it. I tried looking around, but was bored to near death, so I finally just parked in the magazine section and tried to snooze until the missus was ready to go. I hated to tie up the cart, but I didn’t have any cash on me, so I couldn’t pay for the water and go to the truck. That’s the problem with letting the missus handle all the money, I guess. It seems to make her feel “empowered,” as the libbers like to call it, so I figure it’s good for her, though.

The first Woodwright show today didn’t interest me, so I set the alarm for an hour later and was nearly asleep when my wife brought a bowl of chili, a stack of saltless saltines, and a bottle of green tea upstairs to me. Apparently, she was hungry, so expected me to be, also. I wasn’t, but so as not to make a scene, I thanked her and ate it anyway (only half the saltines, actually). Of course that ruined any chance for a nap, at least until my meal settled, so I unset the alarm and watched Ol’ Roy anyway. Then I channel surfed for a half-hour, hoping against all hope to find something worth watching, but I didn’t. Then, I watched Ol’ Roy on the OTHER PBS station. He’s getting rather stupid in his old age. Today, he tried linking Muhammad Ali’s comment about butterflies and bees to antique woodworking tools. To call it a stretch would be an understatement. To call it just plain stupid would be perfectly accurate. Of course, he probably burned out a lot of brain cells in his younger days, so maybe it’s understandable. His newer shows are getting disappointing.

I haven’t mentioned yet that I got my lawn’s final mowing done the day after I started it. It was supposed to rain later that day, but never did. So, I got up a little earlier than normal (for me) the next day before it rained THAT day. Unfortunately, it had sprinkled just enough before I arose to get the leaves thoroughly wet. We did a few things around the house, then I took the missus on a short jaunt to town to get her out of the house. When we came home, it still hadn’t rained, so I decided to take a nap and then mow even if the leaves WERE still a little damp. When I got up, it had sprinkled AGAIN, but not enough to wet the leaves too badly, so I started mowing anyway. About halfway through, it began misting. Then, it began sprinkling. Gradually, it sprinkled a little harder and a little harder. Finally, it began to actually rain. Then, about a half-hour into my mowing, and about two minutes before I finished, the bottom completely fell out of the clouds above me. I was soaked to the skin, but BY GOLLY, I GOT’ER DONE! I then parked the mower under the deck, covered it with a tarp and hobbled to the porch. There are a couple spots along the edges of the lawn that could be tidied up a tiny bit more but, if I don’t get to them, no harm done.

I finally got tired of looking at cow butts on my computer screen (first photo) so I changed to the shot from my porch you folks have seen before (second photo). © 2016

Click images to enlarge.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Thoughts And Observations For The Day

The other day, the missus pulled her small Christmas tree down that she puts in the back room. Today, she had me steady her while she pulled a couple boxes of Christmas CD’s off the top shelf in the laundry room. I’ll be bombarded with joy, sentimentality and melodic religion for the next couple months, but at least I may get a break from a few moronic TV shows during that time. I wonder if she can wait until after Thanksgiving to put up the larger tree in the front room. Some years she makes it and some she doesn’t.

I got the front of the yard mowed yesterday, since it was supposed to rain today. My backside couldn’t handle the extra half-hour needed to mow the back section around the house, so I got up a little earlier today to mow it before the rain came. Alas, it had sprinkled just enough to make the fallen leaves too wet to mess with. Instead of blowing away and being dispersed, they would have turned into mushy windrows on the right side of the mower. I guess I’ll wait until a cooler but drier day to finish.

The Mighty Dachshund and I did a little porch sitting this morning, since I couldn’t mow. Though it had sprinkled, it wasn’t raining, but it SOUNDED like rain. Distant traffic, trains and airplanes were easily heard. Unfortunately, so was the music coming from the workshop of the roofer next door. He apparently decided not to chance getting on a roof today, only to be rained off. The birds were quiet, though, even though they were plentiful and active in the edge of the woods. Except for the sounds of man, the natural world was in a hush, as if the sprinkle had settled something more than a bit of dust. Maybe it’s just the near silence of winter settling in early.

We had another good crop of acorns from the white oaks in our lawn this year. I’ve always wanted to try making bread with them, but it’s awfully hard for me to reach that low for the amount of time needed to harvest them. Plus, you have only about a week before they start trying to sprout. I think next year I’ll lay down a tarp to let them fall on. That should make them much easier to collect.

The missus fixed a good lunch today—pork chops, corn and sweet potatoes. After nearly 34 years, I’ve almost learned to bite my tongue when it comes to my wife’s antics. I was eating in the back room with the dog, and the TV was on mute. The missus was eating in the kitchen so the dog wouldn’t beg her for HER food, which was the same as she’d been given anyway. For some reason, the missus came to the back room, turned the TV to one of those infernal “cooking” shows, turned up the sound and went back to the kitchen! She has a TV in there, so I don’t know her reasoning. She honestly didn’t do it to spite me; her mind was just in some other world. Later, we were watching the local news, when she thought of something in the kitchen she wanted to do, so she turned down the sound and left. It wouldn’t have been so bad, if it hadn’t been right before the weather, which is the only part of the local news I really care about. I think she spent so many years here by herself when I was working that she’s just never adjusted to the fact that there’s another person in the house now.

The pooch turned up her nose at the pork. Eventually, she’ll get hungry enough to eat it anyway. She loves to snub her food, whatever it may be. I guess it makes her feel superior, like a cat.

I seem to have a headache, I think I’ll lay down a spell, before I have to take my wife out later to battle her ennui. As I sit in my minuscule office and post this, Kenny and Dolly are in the back room singing “I’ll be Home With Bells On!”© 2016

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Feeding Our Addiction

I grew up wandering several thousand acres of nearby property, the land of my family and neighbors, plus several miles of nearby streams. Sometimes, it was with fishing rod or firearm, sometimes with a few traps, and sometimes only a walking stick. Occasionally, I had a dog, friend, neighbor or relative along but, often, I was alone. For a few years, I’d sometimes be on horseback. I camped some, but never alone, though it wouldn’t have bothered me to do so. I also studied wild plants and dug a little ‘sang.

I did the same work as my father—farming our land (gardens, hay and beef cattle), custom farming (brush-hogging, mowing, raking and baling for fellow farmers), sawmilling, logging, raising Christmas trees, cutting and selling firewood, and selling tomato stakes and bean poles. The indoors was where you went when it was too dark, rainy or cold to be outside, if then. I was definitely a child (and adult) of the outdoors. Nearly 20 years after my father passed away, I began working at the factory. Some may call it self-pity when I say what I’ve said here before, that I began to die the day that I left the woods, but in some ways, it’s true.

Beginning several years ago, stiffness and pain in my back and legs began keeping me from even walking my land as I used to do. I’ve never seen what kind of a job that a friend of mine did when he timbered the place a few years ago, because I can’t walk the place and no longer have a tractor. Unless something changes, I’ll probably never again see any of our 98 acres beyond the bench below my ridge-top home. It’s a bitter pill for a guy like me to swallow.

And then there’s the Mighty Dachshund. She would be mostly an outside dog if I’d stay out there with her. She prefers the house only because my wife and I spend so much time in it, and she wants to be with us. When she gets cabin fever, she starts whining to go outside, as if she needs to pee. Often, though, she barely wets the ground and then commences sniffing anything she can. She’s a natural hunter, too. The first time she saw a squirrel, she ran him up a tree and kept looking until she saw him in the treetop. Then she gave me a look to say, “What are we going to do next, boss?” She’d run rabbits as fast as her stubby, but powerful, legs would carry her, also. But, of course, the missus doesn’t want me to bring home wild meat or let the dog off the leash. The poor pooch is probably as frustrated as I am.

So, here we are, two outdoor addicts, whose only fix (at least together) is to porch sit, or make an occasional patrol of the perimeter (of the half-acre lawn). And so that’s what we do whenever we can, especially the former. The recent autumn weather has been a godsend to us. The heat of summer is gone, and the cold winds of winter have yet to arrive. With the things that I try to do, and my wife’s daily plans, the pooch and I don’t get too many long stretches outside, rarely do we make it to an hour. We could have more time outside together, but the missus refuses to let me stake her near where I’m working. She’s afraid that a hawk or coyote will get to her before I can and hurt her, or that some aspect of my work will somehow hurt her (and then there’s the lonelies that the missus suffers from).

So we walk a little in the yard and porch sit a lot. We listen to and watch the birds. We hear the faraway traffic and trains when rain is in our future. We watch the cars go by on our country road, and she scents everything the breeze brings her way. There we sit, just two outdoor junkies feeding our addiction. © 2016