Bayou Renaissance Man: The economy: "Things fall apart", Part 2
Saturday, July 23, 2016
Friday, July 22, 2016
I don’t even know how to get in touch with “Rick,” but he used to be a “work friend” back in my telemarketing days. I hadn’t seen him for several years, but I bumped into him at Chinamart the other day and we had a nice conversation. Rick was pretty popular with most of his coworkers. He certainly projected a recognizable image. He stood about six feet tall and had Guy Fieri hair long before anyone ever heard of Guy Fieri. He often wore a leather jacket, boots, and sun glasses. He had multiple tattoos and body piercings and sang with what I’m tempted to call a punk rock band, though I’m no expert on rock music classification.
Rick was born on the Emerald Isle, but his mother, soon moved to England. I believe he lived in both Birmingham and London, but mostly London. His mum wasn’t well off, so I think they lived in the poorer sections of town and Rick sort of grew up on the streets and reached his adulthood doing what most poor city kids do, drinking, partying, dancing, and probably fighting on occasion. Still, Rick was a jovial soul, so I suspect that he was as popular there as here. Somewhere along the way, he became an honest-to-gosh stone mason of the old school. That always sort of impressed me, since it’s a dying art over here. I think he moved here because he married an American girl. I’m not sure how he ended up in telemarketing, but his good manners, smooth voice and English accent served him well, especially with the ladies.
Rick had a tiny bit of burr up his backside about church, Christians and Christianity, though. He was polite, but firm; he wanted no part of any such thing. Usually, such folks have been badly mistreated by so-called Christians. In his case, I think it was actually his mother who suffered some sort of self-righteous abuse at their hands, so she avoided church from then on. In the process, she raised a son with no respect for anything Christian. He wasn’t out to change anyone else’s opinion; he just wanted no part of it himself.
It’s hard to get such folks to understand that many people who CALL themselves Christians actually are not, and that even sincere Christians are too often far from perfect. I tried on occasion to talk to him about the Lord, but to no avail. He was simply closed to the subject, though never rude. After out little visit was about over the other day, I asked if he’d ever given the Lord a chance to work in his life, but once again, I got the jovial brush-off. His little girl was with him, so I didn’t push the issue, but I told him that I was very happy to have seen him and that I’d be praying for him. That doesn’t seem to insult him, I’ve learned.
Thursday, July 21, 2016
Animal Fair (I went to the Animal Fair, the birds and the beasts were there)
Botany Bay (Oh, there's Glasgow and Berwick and Penterville, ....)
Wait for the Wagon
Down in the Valley
Row-Row Your Boat
I don't think that I remember the second and third
Wednesday, July 20, 2016
I went to a three room country school the first five grades, and one thing we had at least once a week was singing. I can't remember all the songs we sang, but here's a list of the ones that I DO remember. They would be considered folks songs by most. One thing they did was instill a sense of history in us without us even thinking about it. I guess the lyrics were altered a bit on some songs to make them more suitable for kids, but they weren't changed a lot.
I was watching a Memorial Day show from DC recently and was sorely disappointed at the modern version of the army song. It turns out that I learned a slightly sanitized version of the original song, while the song was rewritten in 1953 as it is currently used. While they feel that the new version gives a broader view of the army's history, the original history of the song is completely lost. I think they should have just written a whole new song, rather than ruin the old one.
Regardless, here are the songs I remember. Some can be found by googling them. Others seem lost to history. Feel free to mention songs that YOU remember!
Who’s in the Kitchen with Dina?
Wreck of the Old 97
The Ballad of Casey Jones
The Ballad of John Henry
Skip to my Lou
Red River Valley
America the Beautiful
Star Spangled Banner
Old Joe Clark
Little Liza Jane
Goodbye Old Paint
Battle Hymn of the Republic
Oh My Darling Clementine
Oh The West Virginia Hills
God Bless America
Jim Along Josie
Three Spanish Galleons
I’ve Been Working on the Railroad
Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair
My Old Kentucky home
Old Folks at Home
Hail Columbia Gem of the Ocean
The Caisson Song
The U.S. Air Force SongThe Marine Hymn
Tuesday, July 19, 2016
Have you ever heard your house creak and groan for no apparent reason? No, it’s not ghosts. It’s just that most houses are built largely of wood, and wood is sometimes called a “living thing,” even after it’s cut, dried and fastened in place. The reason is that wood changes size as the humidity and temperature changes. When things are fastened together, yet are changing size, something is bound to give a little, and when they do, we hear those creaks and groans. Wind can also move things around a little, too.
I remember coming home from work at four in the morning once and hearing someone walk the entire length of my upstairs. It sounded so convincing that I investigated with a shotgun. What caused it, though, was that my woodstove was running low and a cold front had just blown in and my house was shrinking. (Or maybe it was shivering!)
Another example was this morning, when I took the trash out to the road. I laid the two black bags near the back of the truck, so I could raise the tonneau and drop the tailgate. The bright sunshine caused immediate warming inside the bags and several plastic bottles popped and crackled as the air in them expanded.
There is another example of shifting things making noises that is a little more disconcerting to me. Almost every night, my entrance into bed begins a long, drawn out adjustment in my body. A day of compaction by gravity on my vertical frame is slowly released and my joints loosen up and expand lineally. Hip joints, shoulders, elbows, and seemingly every vertebra from backside to skull pops, clicks or clunks as it slides into new-found freedom.
The shifts are not only heard but felt, though it’s not what I’d call painful. This would be bad enough if it happened all at once, but it doesn’t. No, each joint moves only in its own good time. As a result, every few seconds for several minutes, I feel something move and hear it click or clunk into its new position. Sometimes, it actually interferes with me going to sleep for a while. I could be wrong, but I think it’s gotten worse now that I can’t afford the expensive supplements for my joints and since I’m on water pills.
I guess I shouldn’t complain. As with my aging house, I guess it’s a sign that I’m still standing, figuratively at least. © 2016
Monday, July 18, 2016
Today the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported the first known case of female-to-male sexual transmission of Zika virus, in a couple from New York City.
The case was discovered after a routine investigation by the New York City (NYC) Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH), and a detailed account of their illnesses was published today inMorbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). The CDC said the case will change its sexual transmission guidelines for the virus.
"The CDC will be updating soon the existing recommendations to address potential women-to-partner transmission," the CDC's John Brooks, MD, said in an interview.
"That includes women with female sexual partners, pregnant or not. Zika will be treated like any other STI [sexually transmitted infection], and we will be recommending barrier protection or abstinence."
Brooks is a medical epidemiologist in the CDC's Division of HIV/AIDS Prevention.-
Sunday, July 17, 2016
My wife and I like to watch “The Alaskan Bush People.” We know that it’s only partly true and the rest bogus, but it’s clean and is entertaining. There are times, though, that I really do wonder just who’s fooling who. The other night, the show had two brothers going grouse hunting. Fine and good until they started talking about “tracking grouse.” Now the area where they were was a mixture of gravel road, surrounded by a mixture of tall-grass fields and forest land with umpteen inches of duff atop the soil. Anything less than 50 pounds probably wouldn’t have leave a track at all. Grouse weigh a pound or so. Get the idea?
What really cracked me up was when, even after mentioning several times that male grouse “drum” to attract a mate (though they didn’t seem to know to use the term), one of the boys said that the male grouse flies up to a high tree limb and HOWLS to attract a mate. I cracked up. I don’t know if he was just trying to be humorous, was trying to fool the camera man, or was trying to fool the viewers. I do know that he didn’t fool any country folks or grouse hunters.
With TV being as worthless as it is these days, I guess I should just take my laughs where I can get them! (So I do.) © 2016
I’ve written on this before, but it’s been a long time.
A neighbor of mine was a sniper in Vietnam. The price on the head of any sniper was $20,000 dollars; the price the Cong would pay for his gun was $25,000. Understandably, it was a dangerous job.
He quickly learned something. When he had to go on patrol with American troops and those troops came under fire, they would return fire until the Cong quit shooting. When the Cong stopped, they figured the episode was over.
When he went out with a Korean patrol (part of UN forces there) and they’d come under fire, they would also keep firing until the Cong stopped. The difference was what they did next. They would go to the closest village and kill every man, woman and child. They would even kill the animals, so they couldn’t be used by other Cong. After a few times, the Koreans could travel the country at will unmolested by enemy fire. Needless to say, my neighbor soon preferred to travel with Koreans.
And THAT my friend, is what it takes to win against terrorists. You must meet barbarism with overwhelming barbarism in return. Only then will the terrorists decide it’s not worth it. If we would bomb into oblivion the entire home-town of any terrorist caught in the act, terrorism would soon stop.
Saturday, July 16, 2016
Friday, July 15, 2016
First, I believe that the Republican National Convention was completely brain-dead in picking a democrat-led city for their convention. It was even more ridiculous to pick a hot-bed of democrat corruption and resulting economic decline like Cleveland. Republicans, like democrats, can no longer be counted on to use what little grey matter they have left.
That said, Cleveland does have a black democrat mayor by the name of Frank G. Jackson:
Not surprisingly, then, the cops have been ordered to stand down during the republican convention, because it would be “too dangerous” to do their jobs:
If Ohio had any sort of a governor, he would call in the National Guard, but he hasn’t, despite him being a republican:
Then again, what could we expect from a man who’s already taken $600,000 in contributions from Georges Soros, former Nazi Collaborator and global meddler:
It’s rumored that Soros will be funding protests in Cleveland, just as he did in Ferguson and Chicago:
Not surprisingly, these protests are being done on Clinton’s behalf:
There may well be a bloodbath in Cleveland. If so, that blood will be on the hands of Soros, Clinton, Kasich and Jackson. But watch; the media will blame it on Trump and/or the republicans. © 2016
Thursday, July 14, 2016
As I was driving along flapping my gums to my wife yesterday, I seemed to choke over a crumb. I’d eaten something just recently, but that particular crumb seemed to stay put and only moved from the back of my mouth to the left of the entrance of my throat only with much coughing and gargling of water. There, it seemed to reattach for a while.
Once home, I noticed some swelling and unsuccessfully prodded around with both ends of a toothbrush to see if I could feel anything. As the swelling grew worse, I began gargling with salt water, thinking that I might have scratched my throat with the toothbrush. When I finally went to bed about 11:30, I took a couple Tylenol and a couple Chlortabs. Having slight difficulty breathing, and much difficulty swallowing, I stayed awake until three o’clock, at which time I arose.
Downstairs, I took a couple aspirin and watched some lousy TV with my wife for an hour. Then I took another Chlortab, showered in expectation of going to a quick med place at eight, and went online for a while. By 5 o’clock, I noticed that the swelling was going down some, so I went back to bed and finally managed to fall asleep. When I got up the final time, about 9:30, the swelling was down considerably, but had settled into my voice-box, making me hoarse. And so I’ve been all day. I decided not to go to the quick med place.
When I looked into the very back of my mouth, I saw a red spot. Crumbs don’t make red spots, or make your throat swell, so I deduced that SOMETHING had bitten me INSIDE my mouth. Had it been hard-shelled, I’m sure that I would have felt it, so it must have been something soft. A lot of spiders have been hatching around here lately, so I think that in my blabbing, I sucked in a tiny spider, which then nailed me in the back of the mouth. It’s not an experience that I’d care to repeat.
I’m going to hit the hay soon, so I just took another Chlortab, and will take some aspirin before going upstairs. Being on blood thinner, I hate to take aspirin, lest I pee some blood, but I figure it’s worth the chance to get the swelling down a little more. I guess that’s what I get for talking so much! © 2016
Wednesday, July 13, 2016
Sometimes, we look around us and think the world has gone mad. Perhaps it has, but perhaps our vision is merely too limited. It must have seemed like the world was ending to those immediately affected by World War II, when a hate-filled madman was conquering Europe and Japanese imperialists were raping and ravaging the orient. It must have seemed likewise during World War I to the people affected. Many of our own citizens thought similarly during the great Uncivil War, The War of 1812 and the American Revolution when they saw the people around them murdered and their homes and cities destroyed.
Indeed, the history of mankind is the history of man’s inhumanity to man. There has always been hatred, inequality, greed, war, murder, rape, robbery, tyranny, lies and apathy. Few people have cared much except for themselves and MAYBE their families. If you happened to be royalty, your nights would often be filled with planning how to murder your own relatives before they murdered you. The leadership of nations was decided not by elections, but by who had the sharpest sword, or who could muster the most men to fight. The wisest man who ever lived is said to be Solomon, who lived about 3000 years ago; he said that there was NOTHING new under the sun. In other words, the world isn’t going mad, it’s always been mad.
The problem is that there are two warring forces in the universe. One is good, the other evil. It’s not like Star Wars, where both good and evil can tie into a single powerful but neutral force. These forces themselves are good and evil. Most religions of the world understand this. Many individuals do not, because these forces are both normally invisible, so “scientifically-minded” folks refuse to believe in them. Strangely, they can’t see the wind either, but they believe in it.
Good and evil are both laughed at today, and one is often confused with the other by ignorant or evil people. Yet, there are games galore where the forces of evil and good collide that some folks are absolutely fanatical over, while still denying the REAL realms of good and evil. Our politicians and news media now worship at the throne of evil and common citizens seem to think that two wrongs now make a right. The world IS indeed mad.
Sunday, July 10, 2016
Some of you know that I have an ornery streak. Some of you may even remember that I’ve told you that it used to be worse than it is. Well, it used to be even worse than I’ve told. Back in high school, I was entirely too ornery (read “sinful”) for my own good. My mind wasn’t exactly what you might call “turned to Godly things.” Now I wasn’t extremely foul-mouthed, but I was a little bit and despite having been raised in a Christian home, I LOVED to poke fun at some Christian kids who were overly impressed with their own righteousness. Two girls come first to mind.
The first girl, I’ll call “Jackie.” She was the younger sister of a friend of mine. She could be sweet and kind and polite and all those virtuous things. Indeed, she was the epitome of a “nice girl.” The problem was, NO-ONE knew better than her just what a nice girl she was! Now, my way of dealing with such girls was to speak in double entendre almost constantly. While my words were all innocent-sounding if taken literally, they could have some very ornery meanings, even nasty and foul sometimes, IF you took them figuratively. Invariably, that’s the way Jackie took them. She would grow increasingly agitated with me until she would often simply tell me to leave. (Who could blame her?) After this went on quite a while, she got REALLY “righteous” with me a time or two, and I REALLY got her goat. I reminded her that if I was being as nasty as she thought, she wouldn’t even know it if her mind was as pure as she let on.
That pretty-much ended the slightest possibility that we could ever be any sort of friends. But I finally backed off and we were able to be civil with one another until our paths quit crossing. She went on to marry a very nice guy, and I’m sure they have nice kids. At this point, I don’t even mean that facetiously. I’m sure adulthood has taken her out of her youthful self-admiration. I believe her and her family are considered good and decent people by everyone who knows them.
The other girl I’ll call “Jenny,” since that was her name. I was originally somewhat attracted to her until I saw the way she was. I began dealing with Jenny, then, the same as I did Jackie. Unlike Jackie, Jenny kept her cool, though visibly flustered. In fact, it was obvious that she continued to like the attention. She got her revenge our senior year, though, when I asked her to sign my yearbook. Three years of pent-up frustration came pouring out on the page, and though she didn’t use one foul word, I got called everything but the proverbial white man. I was shocked, but somewhat amused. I had it coming, but I was a little surprised she’d do it in ink in a yearbook, instead of just giving it to me verbally.
Those days are long gone, and I like to think that I’m a little better behaved. I’d certainly BETTER be, since I’ve been calling myself a Christian for 33 years. I haven’t bumped into either of the two for many years, but, even now, they’d probably give you a less than flattering opinion of my moral character if you asked. I wouldn’t fault them, though; some things can’t be undone. Do I regret doing it now? Well, yes, but less for their sakes than because I lowered my own self by doing it. Unfortunately, it took me a LONG while to grow up. Some guys are like that. © 2016
Tuesday, July 5, 2016
I get amused sometimes as I watch the “traveling cooks” on TV interviewing local commercial cooks around the country in their restaurant kitchens. A LOT of folks think this dish or that originated in their area or was invented by their granddad or some other local individual. No doubt they believe it, but dozens of other folks from other places often make claims just as valid, or invalid, as theirs. The one I find most amusing is how glibly some black folks call certain foods “soul food” and act like blacks invented it. And, of course, the white, liberal, politically correct hosts nod their heads in either solemn agreement or downright awe. Now don’t get me wrong, blacks HAVE had an influence on American cuisine, especially southern cuisine, just not quite as much as they think.
A LOT of what is thought of as soul food is really just poor people’s food. Let’s start at the beginning. Back when folks lived in caves and mud huts, they didn’t eat so regular. As a result, they ate nearly every part of any animal, including brains, tongues, feet, tails and internal and even sexual organs. It wasn’t much different with the Native Americans or Eskimos when the Europeans arrived. It’s STILL that way with most people who live primitive lifestyles anywhere in the world.
Europeans were no different back then; many aren’t even today. In the old days, though, the royalty got the “good” meat from any wild game the hunters killed, and the ones who actually killed the game got only the “humbles,” another name for guts. From that situation, we get the expression “eating humble pie,” a saying most young folks have never heard. Incidentally, back then, a pie was a meat dish, not a fruit dish. Interestingly enough, organ meats are often richer in nutrients than muscle meat. So the poor man and his family may actually have been healthier than the royalty, IF they got an adequate volume of such food.
When the Europeans came to America, they not only found a native people still eating every part of the animals they hunted, they also found them eating fruits and vegetables that they’d never seen before. Among them were avocados, peppers, corn, papayas, peanuts, pineapples, potatoes, tomatoes, sunflowers, squash, wild rice, pumpkins, and cranberries, but there were many more. These foods were often prepared by whites in a manner very similar to the way the “Indians” used them, but gradually, some variations crept in.
When African slaves were imported to this country, they were usually given the scraps and left-overs from the tables of their owner’s. This included both meat and vegetables. Note the similarity to the Europeans eating of humbles; in fact, they got the exact same parts as their European predecessors, just from different animals, perhaps. They DID cook things a bit differently than the Europeans, usually making their dishes spicier when they could. They also added more greens to their diets than many whites were used to eating, which made the diets of the whites healthier, too, when they used black cooks. In addition, the slaves brought black eyed peas (though the Indians had various types of beans also), okra, watermelon, sesame seeds, millet and probably a few other things.
Except for the foods just mentioned, black cooking was more about combinations and seasonings than ingredients. Unknown to many modern blacks, most poor whites in both the north and south ate very nearly the same foods as their own ancestors did. Poor is poor, no matter what color your skin may be. The rich, like the royalty of old, or the slave masters, usually got the best parts of slaughtered animals, the poor got what they could beg or afford to buy. Even when I was a kid, many families that I knew (all white) ate a lot of cornbread and beans, wild and domestic greens, ox-tails, pig’s feet, soups, and vegetables that they could grow themselves, including watermelon. Those who raised a pig also ate chittlins (intestines), cracklins (connective tissue cooked out of the fat when making lard) and “pork rinds” (deep-fried skin). Some even ate the “mountain oysters” from the males.
I remembered two things while writing this. The first was the surprise of a black coworker years ago when he learned that my ancestors ate almost exactly like his. The other was the delight on the face of my beloved (and prim and proper) great aunt when I’d take her a jar of pickled pig’s feet! The bottom line is this—unless they choose to deliberately make themselves different, poor folks is poor folks pretty-much all over, both then and now. © 2016
Monday, July 4, 2016
I’m not sure it’s true, but I’ve heard that white domestic turkeys are so stupid that you don’t dare leave them out in the rain. They’ll spend so much time looking up to spot the source of all that water (and end up with so much water in their lungs) that they’ll drown. Personally, I think the folks that tell that tale are probably pulling our leg, but it does illustrate how overzealous selective breeding might negatively affect a species.
People, too, are selectively bred, apparently. Generation after generation of stupid people have had offspring for so long that most modern folks really don’t have sense enough to come in out of the rain. I’ve come to this conclusion from looking at people on the streets during rainy weather. When a downpour comes up, most don’t wait it out like I used to see people do. They just walk around without rain boots, raincoats, hats or even a newspaper over their heads. Worse, many pedestrians start off a rainy day by walking out of the house and into an already falling rain without any protection whatsoever. That’s far more foolish than being out and getting caught in a rain unexpectedly.
Now, this isn’t to say that I always used my best sense when I was younger, but I’m a wise old geezer now and know better. They say that getting wet and cold will NOT give you a cold, and that colds are caused solely by germs. They’re half right. What they aren’t telling you is that being wet and cold puts physical stress on the body, MAKING IT MORE SUSCEPTIBLE to such germs. Any livestock farmer can tell you that, but many medicos like to be technically correct while being completely devoid of common sense.
There IS a handy little device which can keep a lot of rain off your body—the umbrella. Most folks today seem to have never heard of one, if we are to judge by their actions, despite the fact that they’ve been around for about 4,000 years now (literally). It seems that only some women, but nearly no men, carry them on rainy days, except for a lot of old people, who were born before all the common sense was bred out of our species.
Back when I was still driving dump truck, the weatherman predicted a day of intermittent downpours. Since I’m old and slow and the parking lot at work was rather large, I took my big black umbrella with me. The old codger who ran the loader (only a wee bit older than myself, really) was teasing me about it in front of the other drivers. My reply was that any self-respecting rock truck driver ALWAYS carried his bumbershoot. Some of the drivers got a good laugh from my silliness, but the loader man looked as if I’d completely lost my mind. The last laugh was on him, though, when he got soaked to the skin running to his loader. I couldn’t resist pulling alongside in my work truck and asking if he’d like to borrow my umbrella. I SWEAR the man growled at me!
So, now you know what I think of the intelligence of the average modern American. AND, if you go out unprepared, get soaked and end up with the sniffles, just remember, you’ve been warned. (My mama would be so proud!) © 2016
Sunday, July 3, 2016
(Above store name stolen from Sixbears.)
Obviously, I was in ChinaMart today. My first stop was in the sporting goods section. Of eight .22 rifles, four were bolt action and four were semi-automatic. Of 20 shotguns, every last one was a pump. Of 11 high-powered rifles, one was lever action, one was semi-automatic and nine were bolt actions. When asked, the lady who was at the counter said there would be single-shot shotguns and rifles coming in before hunting season. I didn’t ask about auto shotguns. I have to wonder if those guns are what didn’t sell last year, or if they just stocked them for the summer expecting that they would sell better. Maybe I should have asked her that, too.
I prefer double-barreled shotguns; but who can afford such luxury these days? After that, I prefer single-shot shotguns, though the Remington 1148 that I had many years ago was a good enough gun. I like semi-auto .22’s, specifically Ruger 10/22’s. I’ve got one with a 3x9 scope, a Mannlicher stock and custom trigger that I’d sure hate to part with. After it, I like shotgun-style single-shot .22’s. What can I say; I love light weight and simplicity!
Also, in that section, I was looking at the caps. (Some folks who don’t know any better call them “hats.”) They ran anywhere from $5 to $15 and EACH ONE had a company logo on it. I’m showing my age to say that I remember when companies GAVE AWAY such caps for the advertising value. A certain very warm place will freeze over before I pay $15 for a cap with somebody else’s name on it. Heck, I wouldn’t pay that for one with MY name on it. Most people are such lemmings, though, and want something that makes them part of the “cool” crowd. (I have no idea what the current term is that means “cool.”)
Over in the tool section, I found a nice little Chinese tape measure for a buck and a very accurate Chinese plastic torpedo level for $1.75. No wonder your average weekend warrior buys such things instead of the high-priced “American” brands that are probably made in the same factory anyway. A set of Stanley bolt-cutters were only about $19, but they were Chinese also. I would NEVER buy any Chinese tool where the steel needed to be of any quality. I remember seeing truckloads of Chinese steel scrapped at the Ames factory where I used to work because it was completely unusable. I DID find an American made poll hatchet by Vaughn for $20 that seemed to be of excellent quality. If I didn’t already have a collection of quality, usable antique hatchets, I’d probably buy one.
Saturday, July 2, 2016
It seems strange that water should flow from the ground 50 feet from the top of a steep hill, but so it was with the spring where we got our water for several years. Beneath the gnarled roots of a giant oak was a tiny cliff-like rock formation, about four feet tall. From a horizontal crack near the bottom of that rock ran the sweetest, coolest water that you could imagine. It flowed onto a small flat area of stone, perhaps three feet across then, at one time, down the hill no doubt. However, soon after he bought the place in 1946, Granddad made two sides and a partial front around that stone with hard red brick and lime mortar, so a catch-basin of about 30 gallons was formed. A rough lumber screen door of half-inch hardware cloth kept critters and leaves out of the spring, for the most part.
Jutting into that catch basin, through the short front wall was an iron pipe through which the water flowed, by gravity, to a square wash tub about 400 feet away in the valley below. The wash tub was held in place by iron rods driven into the ground through the two hinged handles, so it wouldn’t get knocked from its position by the jugs and buckets that dipped water from it. The pipe ended just high enough above the back rim of the tub that the tin cup, which always hung upside down on the iron rod on the right, could be filled directly from the pipe without getting it in the water that filled the tub. I have no idea how many folks drank from that tin cup over the years but, as far as I know, no-one ever died from using it.
The water flowed from that pipe winter and summer, through soggy seasons and droughts, with little variation in volume. In warm weather, the tub was surrounded by water mint and wild touch-me-nots, with a few day-lilies thrown in for good measure. Dragon-flies (snake-feeders we called them) often perched on the weeds and hovered around the tub. Invariably, your presence would result in some sprig of mint being crushed and the air would suddenly have a sweet spiciness to it. When ripe, the touch-me-nots could be wonderfully entertaining to a kid in no hurry to fill his containers and be off. From the front edge of the tub, the water spewed into a tiny ditch that ran to a small brook about 15 feet away.
Before the days of hauling water, which meant before our old hand-dug well silted in, the tub and the stream held much fascination for a small boy. With the same weeds along the stream as were by the tub, the area always smelled good and provided entertainment. So did the snake-feeders darting around and the water bugs skittering over the surface of the quieter areas of the little run. Sometimes, there were minnows or crawdads to be seen, and strings of green algae that would make you slide on the rock bottom if you weren’t careful. Even water snakes occasionally made a hasty escape, making me jump from surprise nearly every time. I guess you’re a little cautious about long, skinny things that wiggle when you’re barefoot.
A few years later, when carrying water was a way of life, it was often my chore to drive the family car up to my grandparents and fill the jugs. We had two and five gallon jugs for water to bath in. They would be filled, as much as possible, from the tub. The drinking water, though, went into recycled gallon milk jugs, which were always filled straight from the pipe. Then, I had to carry the jugs back across the narrow footbridge to the car, which waited in the driveway, on the other side of the stream. The footbridge was made of two decent-sized poles with rough lumber nailed from one to the other. It always developed a nice up and down motion when walked on, giving me a chance to develop my “sea legs.”
I wasn’t the only one to walk the footbridge, though. Several other area families had no running water in their homes, either temporarily or permanently, and depended on the spring. Also, some of Granddad’s city acquaintances would come out to get “real” drinking water, rather than the chemical-laced poison that came from the public water system.
Wednesday, June 29, 2016
Morning honestly wasn’t too bad. I woke up too early and couldn’t get back to sleep, so I took a shower. It wasn’t long, though, that I realized that if I didn’t get a LITTLE more sleep, I was going to feel like crap at my noon doctor’s appointment. So, I set the alarm and lay back down. I STILL woke up way before I needed, but I felt okay, so I guess my rest was enough. The sleep doc said that my apnea wasn’t too bad, but that I’d still benefit from a c-pap, so I said “fine, sign me up.” I came home sort of glad that I was still over a half-step from death’s door.
After munching on something that I don’t even remember now, I got the yard half-mowed before the mower went kaput. Same as last time—when I put the blades in gear, the engine dies. Plus, the mower deck is low on the “driver’s side” again. Now my lawn will be half-mowed for the Fourth. Rah! Rah!
I then called the trash company to ask them explain why my bank paid my last check to them, but they show that bill as unpaid. Of course they had no record of my payment, even though I gave them the date of my check, the account number, the routing number and the check number, and the fact that my bank had paid it. Of course, that wasn’t enough, I now need to contact my bank and have THEM fax a copy of the cancelled check to them. That’s okay; I’ll have them do that. I had to discuss this problem with someone in a company office clear out in Phoenix, Arizona, rather than the local office, so I think it’s time to switch to the local trash company.
My wife and I then took a jaunt to town to allow me to pick up some dope at the Kroger’s pharmacy. There were six people ahead of me and by the time I was done at the counter, my water pill had kicked in again, and I had to visit the filthy pig sty that Kroger’s calls a restroom.
On the way home, I stopped at the little country cemetery, where much of my family is buried, and retrieved some flowers and a flag from Dad’s grave before the guy that mows the place pitched them. That’s when my stomach cramps started. Thankfully, I made it home without having to stop the truck and dive into the woods. Apparently, last night’s mushrooms in Fettuccini Alfredo didn’t agree with me. Hey, I just remembered what I had for lunch—left-overs! I better take a little green pill if I don’t want a repeat of that experience!
Oh well, my day is done and TOMORROW IS A NEW DAY! (Of course I’ll have to start it with a call to the bank, though.) © 2016
Monday, June 27, 2016
My wife was awake all last night, so slept way past noon. I decided to try napping a little more myself, but it didn’t work. I finally just did everything I could think to do on the computer, in order to stay quiet enough not to wake her. After arising, we talked a while, she fixed some lunch, then finally decided that she needed to go to the Chinese Emporium to pick up a couple things. She goes there partly for exercise, as she pretty much walks around until she wears down.
I did my best to beat in time, but I’ve spent so many hours there in the last few months that it’s almost like torture to have to stay inside while she wanders the aisles. Still, it’s too hot to be outside. I tend to drift from the tools to the sporting goods, to the lawn and garden section, to the magazines, to the restroom, repeat, repeat, repeat.
I very nearly “bumped into” my ex-wife there today, when we almost collided at an intersection. I think we both smiled, I said “excuse me,” she said “hello” and we both moved on. That’s the first time we’ve spoken in 30 years. Actually, I would like to have spoken to her a second and congratulated her on the two teaching awards that she’s received over the years, one state and one national; I always knew that she was good at teaching.
I had to smile after seeing her, thinking about how she got all concerned when I was about 20 pounds over-weight. No doubt, she was shocked at the blimpish old man she saw in the handicapped cart. I have to admit, she was slim and trim and didn’t look her age. Good for her; her life will be the better for it. I suffered a lot of grief when we split up, maybe she did, too; I really don’t know. It was probably for the best, though, especially for her, as we were hopelessly mismatched. I could give some details that would explain some things, but it’s all water over the dam at this point. I wish her a long and happy life.
When the missus and I got back out to the truck, it was 100 degrees in the parking lot. It dropped to 95 as we passed through the “burbs,” and 86 a quarter mile after we hit the country. It was 84 as I parked the truck in front of the house. There’s a lot to be said for country living!
I heard only one locust hollering yesterday; I think they’ve about run their course. I doubt if I’m here to see (or hear) their next invasion; I’d be 78 if I was. I’m not sure that I want to live that long, at least not if this world stays on the same path and my health declines much at all. I have a much better place waiting for me. Still, the drive to survive is so strong, I’ll probably do everything I can to see that next horde of locusts (or the next day). Like they say, we all want to go to heaven, we just don’t want to take today’s bus.
Sunday, June 26, 2016
Click image to enlarge.
During World War II, my grandfather lived on a small farm near Point Pleasant, West Virginia and worked in a ship-building yard there. With their fields in the flood plain of the Kanawha River, it’s not surprising that they turned up a few arrowheads as they plowed with their horses or mule. I suspect these arrowheads were all found by my grandfather, but some could have been found by my uncle or great-grandfather. Regardless, it was my uncle that put them on a small board and took them to grade school for a project.
As I said when I showed the photo of my dad’s collection, I can only say for sure that the smallest ones are truly arrowheads, though the others might have been. The rest could just as easily been points for lances (not spears) or atlatl darts. Something to think about – any complete point was probably lost in use; otherwise, they would have reused it until it broke. That brings us to the roundish pointed one – my guess is that the point broke in use and the owner reworked it to use either as a blunt arrow point for small game, OR as a skinning knife. Naturally, that’s only a GUESS.
My uncle passed away several years ago and I inherited these because everyone knew that such things interested me. He DOES have one adult grandson, though, so I’ve decided to pass them along to him. With them, I’ll include a small, three compartment mahogany box that my uncle gave me, which he picked up in Haiti, when he was in the navy. Also, I’ll send him a brass belt buckle with Granddad’s initial on it (his great-granddad) that he wore for years on his work belts. I hope he appreciates them. He seems like a good guy, so I suspect he will. © 2016
Thursday, June 23, 2016
I was complaining recently of sticker shock on some small hardware items. It’s easy for companies to make excuses for the higher prices, but the lack of production in this country and having near monopolies on the market encourages many companies to severely gouge the consumer, whether we’re speaking of drugs, food, hardware or other goods.
A case in point is common nails at Lowe’s. From a reliable source, I’ve learned that Lowe’s buys their nails from China at $350 a ton if they buy 25 tons and more. I can’t even imagine them buying ONLY 25 tons EVER, considering the size of their company. That’s about 17 cents a pound. In 30# boxes at $45.43, they get $1.47 per pound. In 5# boxes at $11.98, they get $2.30 per pound. In 1# boxes at $3.87, they get (obviously) $3.87 a pound. Remember, they paid only 17 cents a pound; I’m sure that boxing them didn’t cost $3.70 per box!
If I’m thinking correctly, their mark-up is approximately 850% for 30# boxes, 1350% for 5# boxes and 2000% for 1# boxes. Keep in mind that jewelers used to be considered greedy with a 400% mark-up.
If you look around, you’ll notice that the things people NEED the most, have gone up the most. Now I fully understand and support supply and demand, but I also understand monopolies and GREED! The market will deal with the former. God Almighty will someday deal with the latter! © 2016
If you look around, you’ll notice that the things people NEED the most, have gone up the most. Now I fully understand and support supply and demand, but I also understand monopolies and GREED! The market will deal with the former. God Almighty will someday deal with the latter! © 2016
Monday, June 20, 2016
Language is a living thing. Otherwise, we’d still be saying “ugh” and using pantomime to communicate (if we ever did in the first place). Still, some changes are technically improper English and I don’t condone them, even if I sometimes use them. Other words simply replace the terms of the previous generation; perhaps that’s why old geezers like me sometimes object. I don’t care so much for change, and I don’t always enjoy being reminded just how old I’m getting.
One word that I get tired of hearing is the term “tsunami.” Why must we always use the word from some other culture? I thought “tidal wave” was just fine. Then there’s “lanai” being used for “porch.” Now, I realize that if you’re in Hawaii, that IS the proper term. I also understand that it can be used to differentiate a hard-floored, roofed area furnished as a room and maybe even with removable wall panels. However, more and more, I’m hearing the term used for a plain old porch on any house within sight of a body of water, anywhere along the coast of the continental U.S. Get off your high horse folks, it’s just a cotton-pickin’ porch.
I notice, too, that the terms “twister” and “cyclone” have pretty-much disappeared from the American version of the English language. Every circle of wind is now called a “tornado” if the wind speed is judged fast enough. I suppose it’s because the term is of Spanish origin, thus making more politically correct.
And what about “dinner?” Everyone today assumes you mean supper when you say the word. Dinner is at or about noon, folks. That’s why those big noisy things are called “dinner bells.” They called the farm workers into the noon meal, or dinner. Now, we say lunch, which is a corruption of the French term “luncheon,” which originally meant a snack, NOT a full meal. Even worse, restaurants often serve “brunch” these days, a meal for people too lazy to get up for breakfast and too impatient to wait for dinner!
I guess I’d best shut my trap. Most of you probably feel that I’ve blathered on long enough (for those of you familiar with the term). ;-) © 2016
Sunday, June 19, 2016
…of the expression “Wednesday week” (or Monday week, and so on)? I used the expression on the phone with my mom today and, of course, she understood. A lot of folks these days wouldn’t, though. It’s a term that I don’t hear anymore, except on rare occasions from old geezers like myself. I suppose it’s a dying piece of American terminology. To those who’ve never heard, it simply means “a week from Wednesday.” Have you heard the expression? Do you STILL hear it in your “neck-of-the-woods?” © 2016
It was grey dawn as I stepped out the door at the hospital annex where I’d been overnight for sleep testing. As I had done first thing when exiting my truck at sundown last night, I surveyed the parking lot. There were no drunks, suspicious characters or questionable critters, so I proceeded. (Not that I wouldn’t have anyway; I just like to be aware.) There had been no-one inside the unlocked automatic doors as I’d come last night, and there was none this morning. The guard house on the far edge of the lot had obviously been abandoned long ago. I suppose the hospital will wait until some madman kills a few folks before they reinstate the funds to have meaningful security. I call my wife to tell her that I’m on my way home, and notice that the read-out on the dash says 65 degrees.
I pull onto the deserted Sunday morning downtown street, go around a couple blocks to get headed the right direction and find myself alone on a three-lane street, headed for my “end of town.” I check my mirror again at the first light and hear the driver who just pulled up behind me give a slight beep of his horn. I return my gaze forward to discover that the light has turned green in the second that looked into the mirror. As I pull away from the light, the guy changes lanes and shoots around me. I can’t help but be amused at the next light when he has to stop, but I go cruising by in the turn lane.
The streets remain nearly deserted as I go through the north end of town. Even the church crowd hasn’t stirred yet. At the edge of town, an almost painfully bright area glows on the horizon, as the dew on the grass makes the golf course appear to have suffered a heavy frost. One of last year’s raccoons trots away from the playground equipment of the nearby school, where he’d probably been checking for treats the neighborhood kids may have dropped. The read-out on the dash now says 63 degrees.
It seems to be grit-gathering time for the birds, especially the cardinals, as I drive along and spook them from their stations along the side of the road. At the first valley farm, a thin layer of fog, perhaps only four feet thick, rises from the over-ripe heads of grass yet unmowed, due to a rainy spring. At the next farm, mown hay lays in the dew, the owner hoping that it will dry enough to put up before the predicted rain comes on Tuesday. At the next farm, a mist rises from the waters of two ponds that cover ground where cattle grazed when I was a kid.
As I turn up the hollow on the road that takes me home, I notice that the little valley is filled with a light fog. I wind up the road of the high ridge where I live, remembering that my wife said it felt like she was driving in the mountains the first time she drove it. It even has a hairpin curve. At least the road has guard rails now. It didn’t until about ten years ago. Of course, I can remember when it was gravel, too. As I top the hill, I exit the forest that lines both sides of the drive up, and enter between fields of another farm. This one, too, has hay down, the owner hoping for a couple days of dry weather.
Before long, I pull into the driveway and park the truck in front of our porch. The sun is now one finger above the horizon and the read-out says 61 degrees. My wife waits in the doorway, glad to see me after a night of deliberate wakefulness. She can put the gun back now. Even the dog seems relieved that “the BIG dog" is back to keep an eye on things. We don’t usually eat breakfast but, today, my wife has gravy and biscuits prepared. After some food and a little chatter, we all go to bed to get a little more rest. © 2016