Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 A Mixed Bag For Me

Things could have been better, but things could have been worse (I’ll resist quoting Dickens). I guess the biggest thing is that I’m still here, though with Heaven to look forward to, even THAT is a mixed bag. Still, like I read somewhere, we all want to go to Heaven, we’d just rather not take today’s bus. When I was OFFICIALLY diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure a little over a year ago (I had already figured it out), I read a few places online that I had a 33% chance of croaking in the first year after that diagnoses. If you survived, you had a 10% lesser chance of croaking each year for several years. It sort of sounded like that, if you lived past a certain point, you’d be immortal. I knew I wasn’t going to be immortal but, somehow, I knew in my heart that I was going to survive that first year. As a result, I simply wrote off the idea that I was in imminent danger and was determined to keep living. I believe that it was my faith in the Lord that gave me that determination and maybe His Holy Spirit that told me (subconsciously) that I would be okay. Regardless, here I am.

The Bible tells us that seventy years is about all we can count on, and that if we live longer, it may come at a price. My wife is discovering the truth of that; she has a lot more health problems than she used to have. Still, she’s outlived the prediction of the doctors who more-or-less said that she’d be dead in five years, since she wouldn’t take their chemo, when she had cancer. That was nearly ten years ago. She and I both knew that the chemo would have killed her THEN, had she taken it.

We ARE poorer than we’ve ever been in our married life. We probably have double the net income that we did 30 years ago (but HALF what I was making on my last job), but it goes absolutely NOWHERE by comparison. It’s aggravating to know that I’d have been a little better off if I hadn’t needed to cash in my 401-K where I used to work at the factory, before their management company stole it all, but that’s life. My wife doesn’t qualify for either her own Social Security OR Medicare, since she didn’t work enough quarters, so she has to wait until I turn 65 before she can draw anything. If we both live that long, I’ll also get a little retirement from the factory at that time. That should help a little bit, especially if Trump can return some value to the dollar.

Having alluded to politics now, I will say that I hope to never again see such a presidential election as the one we had this year. The election was Clinton’s to lose and, Thank God (literally), she became so blatantly, in-your-face hateful that she insulted every single thinking American. Fortunately, there were a handful more thinkers in the country than non-thinkers and she DID lose. Those who disagree and cite the popular vote wouldn’t want a recount, since the illegal votes would be found and Trump would STILL win. Sadly, I think the democrats have found their new campaign style, and all future elections will be that bad or worse. If Trump didn’t possess the personality of a New York street fighter, Hillary would STILL have won, since the other candidates would have been shrinking violets by comparison. There are a lot of nay-sayers about Trump, even among many who voted for him, but every other candidate, EVEN HAD THEY WON, would have been either impotent in opposing the status quo, or were already a part of the problem. If Trump succeeds in doing HALF of what he wants, I’ll be happy with his performance, since the others would have done NOTHING.

In a display of our declining physical abilities, my wife had a horrible fall when we returned home from the store today. She has trouble lifting her feet upward anymore and tripped on the step into the house. She’s a tough ol’ broad, as she likes to tell me, but she’s sore already, and will probably be three shades of purple tomorrow. As for me, I’m still fat, stiff, pained and easily winded, but there’s 30 pounds less of me than there was a year ago, so I guess not everything is negative. We can’t do what we once did, but we’re still “percolating,” as my great aunt used to say.

Unfortunately, television is even worse now than it was a year ago, at least what I see. Right now, the missus has a “reality” show on that’s filmed down south. The main guy has the requisite accent, but he’s so sissified-acting and whiny, that you’d swear his picture should be on a three dollar bill, despite his wife and three kids. Just the sound of his voice makes me want to run to the woods screaming. And she wonders why I spend so much time on the computer!

Still, I must confess that I’m not QUITE as down on 2016 as the guy who posted on Facebook that he was going to stay up until midnight JUST TO SEE 2016 DIE! – LOL - Thanks for reading my drivel this past year; I hope 2017 is a good one for all of you. © 2016

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Chainsaws And Calendars

I’ve been reading on a Facebook group of home sawmillers that a lot of folks replace their regular bar oil with USED motor oil. I’m sure the EPA wouldn’t approve, but that would be cheaper than the expensive stuff they sell at the saw shop. I was down to a half gallon of bar oil, so I topped off the jug with used motor oil. That way, there will still be some stickiness to it. I’ll see how it does. If you dribble any around the fill-hole on the saw, it certainly shows up.

I filled the oil reservoir and poured the last of my two-year-old gas mixture into the gas tank. I’m surprised the saw is burning it okay, but it is. I then put a bottle of mix oil in the two gallon gas can and let it drain. I left the saw in the basement, so it would stay warm and start easier.

This afternoon, I went to the saw shop and picked up a couple file handles and a 13/64 file to use on half-worn-out chains, rather than 7/64, which I have plenty of. I also double checked with the owner as to what setting I should file the rakers to, since it had been ages since I’d filed any. I used to file chains every day when I worked in the woods for a living, but that was over eleven years ago. I’ve used chainsaws so little in the last five years, that I’d just put on a new chain whenever the saw quit cutting well. Unfortunately, I’ve finally used up my supply of extra chains, so it’s time to start filing again.

I then swung by town and put a couple gallons of gas in my chainsaw can. I’ll be glad to have some new gas for a change. I wonder if I’ll notice a difference in how the saw performs?

The main reason I went to the saw shop was in hopes they still had some calendars, but I checked by too late in the year. I thought about dropping by the tire shop that I use, but I saw no calendars there the other day, either, though I forgot to ask. In the old days, nearly every business had many advertising calendars to hand out; often, they had trouble getting rid of the last few. Heck, I used to even get them in the mail. Printing is so expensive anymore, though, that most businesses don’t pass them out anymore, and those that do don’t get as many in. Guess I’ll have to look for one at Chinamart. The times they are a changin’! © 2016

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Another Christmas Come And Gone

Christmas was a bit better than I’d expected really. We got to see “the kids” (stepson and wife) yesterday at lunch. I’d planned on taking the missus out for lunch, but since they had plans for the evening (meaning that we couldn’t drop by), they insisted that they take us out. The youngest and oldest granddaughters were along, and the oldest one’s boyfriend. I don’t know how that latter situation will work out. He’s back in town with a good job, while she still has another year in college, about 2-1/2 hours away. He seems like a good fellow, so I hope they make it work.

The youngest girl is 10, and the only one in the family to whom we still give gifts. Her tastes are beginning to elude us though, so I gave her a copy of “Alice in Wonderland,” which she seemed to genuinely appreciate, and the missus gave her a $20 bill, which she REALLY appreciated. They learn young! Like us, the little one only sees the older one about once or twice a year, so she spent a lot of time talking to her and hugging her. They have different mothers, so they never have spent much time together, but they seem to get along well, despite that and the age difference.

We’re blessed to have a very sweet daughter-in-law. Both her and my stepson have good jobs at this point, so I hope their lives travel an easier path than the missus and I have traveled. Lunch in a restaurant doesn’t really give you the time you’d like with kinfolk, but it was enough to put my wife in a better mood. Technically, I guess we were invited to have lunch with them today, but the invitation didn’t come soon enough, so the duck was already thawed and the rest of the stuff put together, so we ate at home.

We watched a few hours of Bill O’Reilley’s docudrama on the American Revolution this afternoon and early evening. Part way through, my wife remembered that she’d forgotten to give the Mighty Dachshund her Christmas gift, a little stuffed reindeer about eight inches tall. She was in seventh heaven, holding it in her mouth while rolling on her back, and then “grooming” it like it was her pup. She doesn’t know that her nibbling is engrained in her genes to kill nits on her pups, but even though she was spayed young, some of the mother instinct remains.

The series we were watching stopped at seven, and O’Reilley’s show on Lincoln starts at eight, but I think I’m a bit “over-historied” for now, so I may stay on the computer (or read), unless the missus finds something else interesting. I hope your day was a pleasant one. © 2016

Friday, December 23, 2016

Forgotten Ancestors, Crazy Shoppers And Bah Humbug Holidays

Yesterday, I took the flowers Mom had put together for Christmas and placed them on Dad’s grave and the graves of my grandparents. It appeared that only two other graves in the little country cemetery had been decorated. When I was younger, the graves would have been awash with greenery and other decorations. Most of the folks who once decorated those graves are now dead themselves. The younger generation never knew a lot of the folks who are buried there. Unfortunately, most of them wouldn’t care if they did. I realize that the departed never know when their graves are decorated and when they’re not. It speaks volumes about those left behind, though.

I noticed that my own stone, which I set a couple years ago, had settled a bit and was entirely covered with leaves. It’s tempting to go back and put an inch or so of sand under it, but I guess it doesn’t matter. I leave no-one behind who will ever see it anyway, unless it’s at a grave-side service. I’m not pitying myself, just being realistic. The only ones that would care if I croaked would my wife, my mother, the Mighty Dachshund, and a few online friends who will never know if I croak anyway. I may well outlive the first three, so I guess I’d better be sure and make necessary arrangements before I go. I cringe to think that whichever one dies last may be one of those old folks they find in their homes who’ve been dead for a year.

The missus and I went over the river and through the woods to a Chinamart in enemy territory today. That’s about as much excitement as we can afford these anymore. When I’m in any store, I notice how many people plow out of the side aisles at 90MPH without ever looking. They wouldn’t (or at least SHOULDN’T) do that when they’re in a car, but they think nothing of doing it when their carelessness could bowl over a child or an old person. Naturally, they either have some far-away look in their eyes, or they’re looking down at their phone. I saw one fellow that I know vaguely, walking along, looking for an open register, his skin was flushed and it seemed that fear was on his face. He never saw me.

This Christmas is shaping up to be another lousy holiday. We’ve grown estranged from a few family members over the years, and those who remain seem less desirous of our company now that we’re poor. I doubt if we can afford it, but it would be nice if the missus and I could go out of town for Christmas next year; there’s nothing going on around here anyway. The older I get, the less I enjoy holidays. They remind me of what used to be, but will never be again.

Still, I have a lot of online friends that boost my spirits, and I greatly enjoy reading about the good times some of them are having. Despite not buying into the whole Christmas deal, I DO miss having a church this time of year. There’s been a lot of beautiful music written for the occasion over the centuries, and SOME people actually do manage to show a little more kindness during this season. Still, I must confess, I’m sort of looking forward to Monday. Call me “Scrooge,” or “Grinch,” if you prefer. LOL © 2016

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Another Thrilling Day

It wasn’t quite as cold as it had been lately when I took the dog out at 4am. I heard a barred owl in the main hollow, but only one, I think.

After a small and early lunch, we went to the Chinamart across town. I haven’t had any vitamins for ages, so I stocked up a bit. Not only did I get some stuff that I used to take for my heart, I also got a couple that might help the “cardboard on the bottom of my feet” feeling that I’ve had for ages. The operative word here is “might.” They’ve bothered me for long time, even though I’m still not diabetic. But a couple places online said such feelings could be caused by shortages of a couple vitamins, so I thought I’d see if they helped.

Even though I was using money budgeted for me, I still didn’t have enough to pick up the joint stuff I used to get, or the saline solution, Vicks or extra inhaler that I wanted. The remainder of my money went in the gas tank. I DID buy some groceries along with my stuff though, or I would have had enough for what I wanted. I took the stuff to the truck and returned to the store, since my wife was picking up groceries still. I’d planned to buy an “Old Farmer’s Almanac,” but they’re $7 now and, frankly, I’m not sure it’s worth that. I don’t plant by it anyway.

My wife got another snide remark today for riding one of the handicapped carts, this time from an old lady who was either too proud or too stubborn to use one herself. My wife looks about 15-20 years younger than she is, so people seem to assume that she’s just too lazy to walk. She has a bad left hip, though, so she needs a rider anymore, as do I. I keep telling her to bring her cane in and put in the basket, but SHE’S TOO STUBBORN. I’ve noticed that folks act more tolerant when they see a cane, as if it’s any of their business in the first place.

I’d hoped to do some small chores outside when we got home, but the wind was picking up and I had a headache. I took my new vitamins, ate a small supper with the missus and the pooch, watched the 700 Club with the missus and took a nap. When I got up, my headache was gone, and so was the pain in my feet, but NOT the feeling of cardboard on the bottom of them. It will be interesting to see if the pain stays away, or if it was just a fluke.

I’d hoped to watch Hannity at 10, but the missus has the sound down on the TV and is snoozing away, so I won’t wake her up. I’m getting “over computered,” though, so maybe I’ll go to the “library” and read a while.

I hope your day was more exciting than mine, but as they say, any day above the sod is a good day. I’m not so sure about that, but it makes a good quote to throw around. © 2016

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Gloves, Mittens And Memories

I haven’t been able to get much done this week; between my wife’s unpredictable schedule changes and the cold, I’ve just been sort of coasting along. The morning before last, it was only 25 degrees, but I SWEAR it felt like it was five below. The frost was so thick that it looked like snow.

Yesterday was trash day for us and I’d forgotten to bring my gloves inside from the truck the night before. I’ve got a pair of lined buckskin gloves, which are fairly warm IF they’re warm when I put them on. If they’re cold, though, they sap the warmth right out of my old man fingers with their poor circulation. Remembering a trick from my youth, I put a pair of thin cotton socks over my hands and did my task with warm hands. The trick works for two reasons, first – the socks were already warm, second – they act like mittens and let your fingers warm one another. In fact, they’ll keep your thumbs WARMER than mittens, unless you have the thumbless ones like they use in the arctic.

That’s something you can’t buy in my area is a pair of men’s mittens. I’d love to have a pair of lined buckskin ones like I’ve seen northerners wear, but I’d probably have to order them online, IF they even make them anymore. I think we’re far enough south here that a lot of guys just think it isn’t macho to wear mittens. Wear socks on your hands then, ya dummies! LOL

I know I’ve probably told this in the past, but when I used to work with my dad on the farm, we wore heavy cotton work gloves in the winter. They were pretty warm, unless you got to working in snow, then they’d gradually get soaked through and we’d have to warm and dry them by the fire that we usually built in our work area, as we cut firewood and logs. I remember seeing the steam rise off hot cotton gloves many a time.

 Once in a while though, we’d work somewhere and not build a fire, usually because we thought we wouldn’t be there long enough to be worth the trouble. At those times, if your gloves got soaked, and you had no extras, it could feel like you were going to freeze your fingers off. Back then, I was thinner than Dad, and his hands stayed warmer, so he’d insist on switching gloves. The heat in his gloves soon warmed my fingers right back up, even if HIS gloves were wet, too.

Eventually, my weight picked up (more than it should have) and the circulation in Dad’s fingers went bad due to “white finger” from running a chainsaw all those years. There were a few times then that it was I who insisted that we switch gloves and Dad’s fingers that were warmed by the change. I think that was one of the first indications that the roles were starting to change some in our relationship. I’m sure that they would have changed much more over time if Dad hadn’t passed away too soon.

 I guess there are times that our memories travel back one thought too far. Stay warm, my friends. © 2016

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Sundry Thoughts On This Sabbath Day

We didn’t go to Chinamart today, as my wife wasn’t in the mood and we didn’t have any money to speak of anyway, but I can’t say that I’m crest-fallen. I’m one of those weird folks who insist that GOD ALMIGHTY made and blessed the Sabbath and told us to KEEP it holy. GOD never changed the Sabbath, Pope Sylvester and the Emperor Constantine did. As far as I’m concerned, every major denomination in the world has been in apostasy ever since. I try not to get disagreeable about it, since most folks will defend the customs of men far more fiercely than they will the law of God, but I always cringe when we go shopping or dine out on the Sabbath. Still, I don’t want to spend my WHOLE life fussing with the missus. She doesn’t approve of my views on Christmas and Easter, either.

She chose not to wander around Big Lots like she planned, either, so we basically just took a drive to town and back. At least she bought us and the dog an ice-cream cone apiece from the Tarnished Arches Restaurant. I was glad to get home, as the drivers are more insane than usual this time of year.

I read a bit in the Bible every evening, but I used to make more of an effort to actually due some study in the scriptures on the Sabbath. I’ve been rather lax on that lately and need to get back to it.
If it had been any other day of the week, I’d have made a few cuts with the chainsaw when we got back but, instead, I waited to see if The Woodwright’s Shop was anything I wanted to watch. It wasn’t, so I took a nap.

Facebook isn’t letting me post anything of my own today, or even repost stuff by others without a third try. I don’t know if they’re having technical problems, or if I’m just on their permanent black list now.

I did get some old photos better identified when I visited with Mom the other day. I also accepted her old hair-drier base with the now defunct plastic cap. I can use the blower to power a brake drum forge if I ever get around to making one. You can use boughten charcoal for fuel, especially if you have a blower to get extra oxygen to the embers. I sold my anvil, but I still have an old piece of railroad track to beat small items on, like knife blades. I need a toaster oven to do tempering, though, and that would require a small cash outlay, unless I use the mineral oil method, which is trickier.

I’ve been looking for a piece of steel to make a blade for a froe and came across a set of small trailer springs the other day in my stuff. I don’t think I’ll ever use them for anything else, so one of the leaves should suffice. I have an old mattock from which I can take the eye to use on the froe blade. That should certainly allow for a sturdy handle. The other option is to take my great grandfather’s froe to a blacksmith and have him enlarge the eye to where it would fit a standard eye-hoe handle. That would actually be my preference, as the existing handle and eye leave something to be desired, and I’d rather use a tool with a history.

My last hunting rifle didn’t sell from the ad I put in the local trader’s paper, so I guess I’ll keep it. There’s an extra weekend in this month and we needed some extra grocery money, but we got through the pinch anyway, thanks to laying back a little extra when we can. My next funds show up Wednesday, so we’ll do fine. The main reason I was holding onto the rifle was because I thought I might need it to defend against United Nations troops if Hillary got in. Of course I would have died in the process, but that beats being put in a camp, like she said she wanted to do with old people (except herself, of course). I should be safe from that concern for now.

I was going to go spend a little “quality time” with the missus and the dog in front of the boob tube, but it sounds like the “Irish ego” (Bobby Flay) is on and watching him is more than I can stomach. Maybe I’ll go take my shower and get it over with.

I hope you’ve had a more interesting day than mine, but if not, I hope it was at least moderately pleasant. © 2016

Thursday, December 15, 2016

I May Scrap My C-PAP!

I said something recently about my sense of smell going bad on me. I wondered if it might be a couple different things, since cooking odors are especially nasty to me these days. I’ve pretty well ruled out being pregnant, plus, I really don’t think it’s the brand of butter my wife is using, either. In my mind, that pretty much leaves my C-PAP machine. Currently, any cooking odor smells to me like vegetable oil being burned in a smoky lamp. My head is filled with a greasy, nauseating odor that I then carry around in my sinuses night and day, nearly making me sick. Looking the problem up on the internet proved that the machines can, indeed, make you go “nose blind,” PLUS make you lose your sense of taste.

I didn’t use the machine last night, and I won’t use it again until my sense of smell returns to normal, IF it ever does. One place said that some folks got relief from the problem by putting essential oils on a pad by the air intake of the machine, but NOT in the water inside the machine. I may check with Dave at the local health food store to get his input.

The C-PAP machine is to control sleep apnea, which I’ve had untreated for probably 30 years or more. Failure to breathe five times an hour is considered the dividing line for using a C-PAP or not, though my nine times an hour isn’t considered too bad. Thirty times an hour is considered to be getting in the danger zone. Failure to breathe, for an extended time, can make your heart go crazy and can bring on a stroke or heart attack. Still, I had it all those years, and I’m on meds that pretty well control my heart rate and blood pressure.

At this point, I’m basically putting it in the Lord’s hands, at least until I know more. If I can live another 15 years, I’ll feel that I’ve had a long life. Until then, I’d rather keep my sense of smell and taste. Naturally, any prayers that you might say for the resolution of this situation will be appreciated. © 2016

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Dern Such Weather!

My dad used to tell me that there was a small cartoon of a little old guy who appeared every day on the front page of our local paper saying those words. Someone else told me that it was Snuffy Smith. I must say that are many days that I’d agree with ol’ Snuffy on that subject; today is one of them.

It was fairly cold this morning when I took the trash out. I knew that rain, snow, or some ugly combination of the two were supposed to be coming, so I cut up the wood that I’d drug out by the wood stack. Putting the saw in the basement did the trick, as far as warming it up, so it would start easier. I had to sit and rest a few moments at times as I worked, but I just set the chain brake and let the saw run. After getting it all cut, I began stacking it. I was disappointed that I didn’t have enough to finish the stack, but I’ll cut and drag some more when I can. I had four pieces that needed split, so maybe I’ll do that later.

It didn’t do anything while I was outside but, about 11:30, it began snowing. Luckily, it stopped without any accumulation. Who knows what will come later, though. The weather man is predicting some miserably cold weather, and so is the Old Farmer’s Almanac. I’m glad we have a warm house. © 2016

Monday, December 12, 2016

Stupid Nerds!

Yes. I know that nerds are supposed to be smart, but there's a world of difference between factual knowledge and common sense. My mother had to replace her old tube TV after many years and, of course, got one of the flat screens. I doubt if you can even buy a new tube TV in America these days. Now, Mom is 86 years old, so she's even less tech savvy than I am. You SHOULD be able to simply hook up the cable and watch TV, but nooooooo!

The companies have the ability to make things that simple, but they choose not to do so. First, the nerdish designers assume that everyone is as tech savvy as they are. Most of us know what flawed reasoning THAT is. Second, they assume that if you don't buy a set with all the bells and whistles, it's because you will be adding them after the fact. Again, that's often not the case. Third, it might cost the companies an extra dollar a set to make them truly idiot proof, and they are not ABOUT to spend an extra penny just to make it easier on ANYBODY, especially old folks, who should probably be dead in their opinion anyway.

This is the third evening that my mom hasn't had a TV, despite four different people trying to help her set it up. One fellow has decided that the problem may be that the manufacturer assumes (Remember the old saying about ASSUMING?) that the buyer will be hooking the set up to a VCR or its DVD equivalent. He thinks that an extra loop of cable may be required to fool the TV into thinking all connections are made. If his theory doesn't pan out, Mom will probably have to get the cable company come out and try to set the thing up.

Incidentally, don't try to tell ME how to do it; I was one of the four who's already tried. There really isn't any excuse for things being that difficult, but companies really don't care about their customers these days, especially the older ones. Copyright 2016

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Another Little Brown Book (w/pic)

Click image to enlarge.

Well, I finally finished reading Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar.” I started it long ago, putting it in the truck to read when I was waiting on my wife at various places. I discovered though, that in spite of having read his play “Hamlet,” as a young man, that I have lost my patience for reading plays. WATCHING them is still fine, READING them, not so much. After many months of lying there unread, I finally picked it up the other day and finished it. I can’t really say that I enjoyed it, but the task is done.

Now, I’m starting ANOTHER little brown book as I call them. It’s one of the Macmillian Pocket Classics, printed in the early 1900’s, primarily for students, I suspect. It’s actually TWO small books in one, both travelogues written by Robert Louis Stevenson as a young man, before he became a well known author. The first, “Stevenson’s Travels With A Donkey,” was actually entitled “Travels With A Donkey In The Cevennes” (mountains in south central France). You can get additional information here:

The second volume is “An Inland Voyage,” the story of his canoe trip through France and Belgium, accompanied by his friend, Sir Walter Grindly Simpson More information on that book is available at the link below:

Incidentally, the little book is only about ½” thick, 4-1/4” wide and 5-3/4” tall. It really WOULD fit in many pockets. A note on the front fly shows that it was a Christmas gift to my yet unmarried maternal grandfather, Harley, in 1923 from his future brother-in-law, Carl. He and my great uncle-to-be were neighbors and friends. My granddad would probably have been in high school at that time, though he was born in 1900. The reason being, his dad moved a lot and my granddad actually got a year or two in at Marshal College (now University) in Huntington, West Virginia, without finishing high school. When they returned to his hometown of Spencer, he went back to high school and got his diploma. He and Grandma didn’t marry until 1928, when he was 28 and she was 31.

On a side note, when my granddad started showing up at his friend’s house (my future Uncle Carl) to see Carl’s sisters, they couldn’t figure out whether he was there to see Carrie, my future grandma, or her sister Lucy. Granddad was so bashful and well behaved that it took them nearly two years to figure it out! Times were different then, I guess.

I expect to enjoy this book much more than the last, and I’ll have to think twice (or thrice) before I read any more plays. © 2016

P.S. - Don't you just love how Blogger leaves some sections with no background color, despite everything being typed at the same time in Word?

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Cop Laws, Hate Crimes And Gun Crimes

I don’t know WHERE common sense has gone. Even conservatives now want to pass ridiculous, feel-good laws. With all the cop-killing by people of “the darker persuasion,” there’s a howl by those on the right to make killing a cop bring an automatic death penalty. First, some cops may be brave, honest, decent people, but let’s be honest; some are murderers and criminals of various types themselves. As a group, they are no more honorable or important to society than any other honest profession. Why should someone be put to death for killing a cop, but not a priest, a preacher, a nurse, a doctor, a factory worker, a mother or a child? If there’s an automatic death penalty for killing a cop, then killers should meet the same fate for killing bakers, auto mechanics, salesmen, clerks, models, actors, garbage men and anyone else. The REAL question is: Why did we ever get rid of the death penalty in the first place?

The most recent thing I’ve seen is to make killing cops a “hate crime.” Isn’t EVERY deliberate murder a hate crime of sorts? Is it less hateful to kill a janitor or soldier than a cop? The thinking here simply doesn’t jive with logic. Furthermore, any government that can outlaw hatred can outlaw love. Think I’m exaggerating? Then explain the number of cities that have made it illegal to feed the homeless.

Furthermore, hate crime laws are simply another name for “thought crime laws.” Don’t know what I’m talking about? Read “1984” by George Orwell. EVERY despot believes in thought crime laws. Simply disagreeing with some folks, or telling the truth about them is now a crime some places in this country. Whatever happened to freedom of speech? Do you think it’s coincidental that such things have been pushed by the left?

And what about stiffer sentences for criminals using guns during their crimes? Is the bank out more money if the robber used a gun, rather than a knife or a bomb? Is a woman less raped if the rapist had a knife against her jugular, rather than a gun against her side? Is the murder victim less dead when his brains have been bashed out with a baseball bat than if he was shot with a gun? I left the NRA over this last bit of brown-nosing, feel-good stupidity. Use your brains people. That’s why God gave them to you! © 2016

Friday, December 9, 2016

Just Stuff

My wife got me up at 7am to ask if I’d planned to get the studded tires put on the truck today. I had, but I’d been up late and was planning to get up at nine. Oh well, SINCE I WAS AWAKE, I got dressed and left for the tire shop, since they open at 7:30. I noticed when I got in the truck that the Mighty Dachshund’s water bowl had a skim of ice on it. That didn’t surprise me, considering that it was flurrying at 4am when I took her out to drain. The wind wasn’t particularly comfortable to a guy wearing only a pair of jockey shorts and camp mocs during those nightly wanderings. When I looked at the read-out on the dash, as I exited the drive-way, it said 20 degrees. On the trip in, I passed a guy in his forties with a shaved head, walking along as if it was summer, the wind blowing the lapels on his jacket. The sight like to froze me to death!

Once at the tire shop, I made my usual amble around the lot looking for wheel weights. I found more than I did last time. Since my muzzleloader is a smoothbore, I don’t need pure lead. In fact, I could probably shoot ½” bolts, as long as I patched them. On a related note, Trump really should see to it that some lead smelters return to this country. In case of war, it wouldn’t be good to depend on foreign sources for ammo material.

When I got home, I took my chainsaw from the back of the truck, hoping to cut up the poles I drug up from the backyard this week, but the saw wouldn’t start. Too cold from being in there all night, I guess. I put it in the basement to warm up, so maybe it will start tomorrow. On the way back from the basement, I put the foam thing over the outside faucet so it wouldn’t freeze so easily.

I saw a couple bluebirds in the side yard a couple days ago. They’d be wise to head south!

My wife said that our neighbor was on the news telling how he and some others were going to restart the local livestock auction. I hope he does. For several years, farmers around here have had to travel two hours south or two hours north to find a stockyard. The local TV channel is staffed by kids, and usually runs the same news three days in a row. However, since there was something that interested me, they’d switched gears on the very next broadcast.

I saw an interesting article on making shingles from old racing tires on Facebook today and saved it for my files. You wouldn’t want rubber shingles for a major structure due to fire, but for a rabbit hutch, chicken coop or small tool shed, they should be fine. I have a red oak in my yard that I want to cut this winter, so maybe I’ll try splitting some oaks shingles later. Then again, maybe I won’t.

I’ve mentioned before that I drive rather slow. Well, the other day, one of my neighbors got in front of me and kept stopping and starting, thinking that he was upsetting me, I guess. I didn’t realize who it was at first and almost called 911 about a drunk driver. After figuring out who it was, though, I remembered that he no longer can hold a job and sometimes goes off his medication. It’s partly guys like that who convinced me that I’d better pack heat, since you never know when they are.

I sent in my last check to Highmark West Virginia (Blue Cross Blue Shield) the other day. They aren’t using their head. We were only paying $1.49 a month for my wife’s Obamacare, but it had a $6,000 deductible, so we never would have used it. They had to raise the price up to $268, though, which we can’t afford on our budget. It’s cheaper to pay the fine, if Trump doesn’t get the “poor tax” removed. Highmark got $700 a month from Uncle Sam for covering us ($8,400 a year), but since they couldn’t settle for less than $3,200 a year from us, they lost the $8,400 for a policy that they would never have paid out on. Yep, some folks just don’t know when they’re well off.

My wife doesn’t let me use “her” pots and pans, since she’s sure that I’d ruin them, so I recently added a second pot to my collection of cookware. It’s stainless, but it’s VERY light-weight. Whenever I yell at the dog in the next room to quit licking her paws (nervous habit, I think), the new pot rings like a bell!

Later this evening, I should try to print out some of the photos that I want my mom to identify. I almost never see her, since my wife decided that she wasn’t going to tolerate any more rudeness from her and my sister (I’m sure they tell a different story). So, a couple times a year, I go in town and have lunch with her. I’ll be going in Monday and she has a couple things that she wants me to do for her and I’ll pick her brain about the photos. Of course, I call her every evening anymore.

Well, as you can see, nothing exciting is happening in my life, but I still wanted to flap my gums. Maybe I can think of something more interesting next time. © 2016

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Knot’s Out! (w/pic)


I’d mentioned in an earlier post that I had a piece of nylon rope that had a knot that I couldn’t untie. I also mentioned marlinspikes. Well, the old-fashioned marlinspike was actually like a big, flat, dull needle, not the roundish style that comes in the sailor’s knives that are seen in some rare stores and catalogs. So, when I happened to see my paternal grandmother’s letter opener lying on my desk, the proverbial light came on. It was shaped nearly identical to the old-style marlinspikes, and was just the right size for 5/16 rope. And yes, used VERY carefully, it worked like a charm. The only thing that I had to watch was not to put any pressure on the handle, or I would have ruined the opener. Below is a photo of the now knotless length of rope and the impromptu marlinspike.

Click image to enlarge.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Home-Made Bark Spud

Click images to enlarge.

I realize that most folks have never heard of a bark spud, but there really is such a thing. It’s an old-fashioned hand tool for removing bark from logs. We never had a spud at our family sawmill. We had a four block manual Corley swinging a 52”, 40-tooth saw that handled the bark easier than we could. The only time that we normally fooled with debarking a log was when we sawed someone else’s logs that had been drug through the mud with a dozer. (Chestnut oak and tulip poplar were probably the worst about collecting mud, due to the texture of their bark.) At such times, we’d attack the log with axes, spud bars, peavey hooks, grubbing hoes and anything else that we thought would work to remove the bark. Leaving the mud in place would cause the saw to dull quickly, necessitating refiling and resetting it. For that reason, large sawmill operations have automatic debarkers, through which they pass every log they saw.

A lot of old-timers used to chop the bark off in a circle around a tree they were planning to fall with their crosscut saws. They believed that bark was more dulling to a saw than wood. Some folks even did likewise before bucking a log (cutting it to length). At one time, vast expanses of forestland were felled strictly FOR the bark, to be leached for the tannin used in tanning leather. Often, the wood was wasted, though sometimes it was sawn into lumber. I’m sure a lot of the tanbark workers used some form of bark spud, most probably made by the local blacksmith.

All of the bark spuds that I’ve seen pictures of have short handles on them, since they were generally used with the log lying on either trestles or support logs. Most were in the 20-30 inch range. After Dad passed away, and I was often forced to run the mill by myself, I looked for ways to speed up my work. One thing that I decided to try was a bark spud. Our skidway was made of 16”-wide cross-ties several feet in the air so, unlike the old-timers, I worked standing at the same level as the log.  So, I wanted a spud with a long handle that wouldn’t cause me to work in a stoop.

At that time, there was an elderly gentleman in the neighborhood who turned my ideas into reality, so I consulted him. We came up with the object that you see in the photos. It’s made from an auto leaf spring, a piece of electrical conduit and a replacement handle for a shovel. I believe the taper for the shovel socket was cut off the handle, or at least most of it. The handle went into the conduit socket snugly, yet reasonably easy, and was fastened in place with a rivet through the socket of the tool. Sometimes, I think the angle should have been ground on the other side; however, the old gentleman ground it before asking me and it seems to work fine, so I’ve never changed it. The spud isn’t very clean or sharp at this time, since it was last used for a few weeks to scrape the asphalt from the tail-gait of the dump truck that I used to drive. I got it out to clean and resharpen, so I decided to take a photo of it and do this article while I was at it.

I’ve included a link to a place that sells a traditional spud, but in looking for it, I also learned that Peavey now makes a long-handled one like mine. © 2016

Saturday, December 3, 2016

A Farm Boy “Thermos”

When I was a kid, we didn’t lack for anything, but there wasn’t money to throw away, either. Dad had a typical domed lunch box that he’d purchased in years past, and I had an old hand-me-down one that had been painted green at some point. It worked as good as any other. I suspect that an insulated bottle once fit in the top of Dad’s box, but they were glass-lined then, and I figure that it had been dropped at some point, because I don’t remember ever seeing it. What we BOTH had was a low-budget way to semi-insulate a quart jar of iced tea to go with our lunches.

Back then, no-one had yet dreamed of plastic shopping bags, so paper bags were used and saved by nearly everyone. Of course they came in various sizes, some of which were just the right size to envelope a quart canning jar and let you roll the top to “seal” the paper container. So, when Mom packed our lunches to take on “the ridge” three miles from our home to work at our sawmill, we took our fancy drink jars with us.

One bag wouldn’t have had much insulation value so the system usually started with at least three. As sweat from the icy drink jar softened the bags and they gradually went to pieces over the course of a week or more of use, another bag would be added as needed. Sometimes, a five pound sugar or flour bag would be used as part of the system, as they held up pretty well. I’m sure that, since the worst damage to the bags was on the bottom, a piece of round cardboard inside the inner bag would have done much to lengthen the life of the bags, but we never thought of that. This paper package was then placed inside a one gallon paint can, thus giving the unit a hard, unbreakable bottom and sides, and providing a handle (the bail).

We’d take our lunch break when Paul Harvey was on (12:30, I think). We’d pull the truck over close to the skidway, turn on the radio loud enough to hear a few feet from the truck while the door was open, then sit on a skid and eat our lunch. Often, we had cold hamburger sandwiches with pickles (mine sweet, Dad’s dill). Sometimes I had bologna and cheese and Dad had pickle loaf or pimento loaf. When we pulled out the ice tea, there would always be some ice still floating at the top of the jar. A couple upside down shakes and the weak tea on top (from the melted ice) would be blended with the stronger tea in the bottom and we’d wash down our sandwiches, and whatever we’d have for dessert, with our favorite drink.

Incidentally, those little gallon buckets were handy things to have. We used them for nail buckets when we were either building or dismantling something. They could be used for egg baskets, waste cans in the truck, picking berries, or even holding paint! Containers are one thing that EVERY homesteader or farmer will always have a use for. I want a clean gallon bucket to use for dipping saw chains in naphtha to degrease them, so I called the paint store today. I leaned that I can buy new, unused ones for $4.07. I may get more than one, since they’re so handy to have around. © 2016

"All Things Old Are New Again"

A nice little girl that my wife sometimes talks to at Chinamart told her the other day that she had something neat to show her."Something new and really pretty," she said. When she showed my wife some bubble lights, my wife chuckled before she could catch herself. She told the girl that they are sort of rare these days, but that they had them when SHE was a little kid, and that was many decades ago. The girl was surprised, and maybe a bit embarrassed, but she took it well. On the way home, we agreed that we were glad that the little clerk had discovered bubble lights; they ARE neat.

When I got home, I looked them up online and Wiki said they were first made in England in the late 1920's, but production didn't start in this country until 1946. We had them when I was a kid, and my wife's family did, too. We don't put any on our tree, but the missus has a little bubble light display in our two front windows. I swear, I think I could sit and watch them almost like a flickering campfire or a lava light. Remember THOSE? © 2016