Monday, May 25, 2015

The Stone Work Of Calhoun County, West Virginia (w/pics and link)

My first acquaintance with the stonework in Calhoun County was 36 years ago when I drove a feed truck around the area on deliveries. The house beside the main store in Big Bend was of excellent stonework, unusual in our local area. The store owner at that time told me that the store owner during the depression provided room and board for a gang of Italian WPA stonemasons in exchange for them building him a stone house. The story made sense, so I never questioned it. Below is the house today.

Click photos to enlarge.

I really didn't pay so much attention to the other stonework in the countyb at the time, though I knew it was there. Recently, though, I've been hauling limestone and blacktop through the area, and it's piqued my interest in the quality and quantity of such work in the county. For instance, there's the grade school in Grantsville.

Notice the stone walls in the four photos, also. There's quite a bit of such work in the town. Notice the stone garage in the next photo; there are four in town, I think; I suspect there may have been more at one time.

Here's a photo of the back of their courthouse and jail, though prisoners are no longer kept in the jail. I didn't get a shot of the front, but found one online.

Here's the one of the front from online. I brightened it considerably to make things plainer to see.

Here's another example of the area stonework found online, it's of the old high school, no longer in use. Both it and the grade school are now boarded up.

A few miles away, near Millstone, also in Calhoun County, a DOH garage shows the same quality stonework as many other buildings in the county. (Taken through a wet windsheild in the rain.)

 All this time, I'd been thinking that this was all possibly done by a group of Italian immigrants working for the WPA, and that could be partially true, but the main story, I discoverd almost by accident in an old article at The Hur Herald. Please take a look:

I hope they find a way to save this part of their heritage. If these buildings were in Parkersburg, They'd likely have been torn down years ago. © 2015

Remember Them (a link)

_It Don't Make Sense_: Remember Them

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Waste (w/pic)

I hauled some “dirt” (contaminated sawdust) to the dump a couple weeks ago for about a week, at five trips a day. Once again, I was amazed by the things that I saw going there. The construction and demolition debris going there continues to be downright sinful. Having come from a sawmill family, I cringe every time that I see absolutely UNUSED material going to the dump to be covered over with filth and wasted. Some landfills refuse to accept yard waste and lumber, insisting that they be recycled or composted. I wish ours was that way. It wouldn’t put the contractors in such a bind, either, if everyone had to live by the same rules.

This past week, I worked for another company that our employers had farmed some of us out to. Once again, nearly perfect farmland is being used to enlarge an industrial park, while a swamp (aka “valuable wetland) sits unused next door. On the job where I was hauling, there were TWO state inspectors sitting in their cars, not really communicating with each other, making me think they were from different agencies. Neither one seemed to be serving much purpose, other than to slow the work down occasionally. The one was so young that I was surprised his mother let him out of the house, so I couldn’t help but wonder if us taxpayers were getting our money’s worth.

A little piece down the road, the renting farmer got the field plowed and disked before the owners came in and drove survey stakes all over the place and put up little plastic erosion barriers. I don’t know what’s going in there. In front of another industrial property, a bunch of maple trees are being cut, with no indication that it’s for any reason other than to have a more manicured front lawn. The entire trees are being chipped, logs and branches alike. Next door, a two foot thick walnut tree was cut into firewood because it was too close to power lines. I don’t blame them, but they could have sawed that tree into at least $500 worth of beautiful lumber, rather than $50 worth of firewood.

I found out, this week, that an old stone school building, probably from WPA days, was being demolished. It was one of the few remaining stone structures in town, and was solid as a rock, so I guess it just HAD to go. This area seems to have no appreciation either for quality structures, or history. It would have made a good apartment building or something, but I guess the land is freed up for “development” now. No wonder we have nothing in this area, we keep destroying what we DO have.

The Roosevelt School, Parkersburg, WV, stands no longer.
(Photo from online source.)

© 2015

Still Sounds Like A Rip-Off To Me

Thirty-some years ago, I visited South Bass Island in Lake Erie. There wasn't a lot to do there at the time, but one thing that sounded interesting was to tour a reproduction Viking Longhouse. Interesting wasn't the word I used, once I saw it. Only the frame was done in anything similar to the viking style. The rest of the building was normal living area and studio for the "artist" who lived there. You couldn't even call it a house-tour, since we weren't shown the living quarters. The only thing I found to my liking were the pair of Scottish Highland cattle on the property.

The bad thing is, they CHARGED ADMISSION! All you really got to see was the guy's poorly-stocked studio! The fee was collected by their children, placed out along the road where you couldn't see the house and guess at the rip-off in store.

On a lark, I just looked it up and the place is STILL THERE and still doing what they did 30+ years ago. I would have thought the law would have considered it a scam and shut them down by now.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Ditching The Duggars

Well, the heathens among us will be happy. They dug deeply enough that they found some dirt on the Duggars. They had to go back 12 years, but they found it. Now, they can use it to insinuate that the whole family, and even all of Christendom, is corrupt. TLC has dutifully cancelled the show, I’m told. I assume because they’re spinelessly giving in to politically correct pressure to paint all Christians as guilty for the sins of one 15-year-old kid.

I don’t know the details of what Josh did, and I’m not sure that I want to, but I certainly don’t approve of child molesters going unpunished. Still, he came forward on his own back then; he wasn’t discovered and accused by others. That shows me that he was raised right and was under the conviction of the Holy Spirit. God can forgive him, even if people can’t. Since this was apparently dealt with back then, exhuming the long-past crime at this point serves only to provide ammunition for the haters. There will be calls for blood, maybe literally. One homosexual commented that perhaps his lifestyle now didn’t look so bad by comparison. Perhaps he’s right, but I doubt if he’s 15 any longer, either.

When accusations and hatred fly thick in the media, I frequently find myself remembering a line by Sinclair Lewis from It Can’t Happen Here (a book I highly recommend): “Every man is a king, who has someone to look down upon.” © 2015

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

How Sad!

The mechanic where I work has little if any formal training, yet mostly manages to keep the trucks on the road, without the need to send very many to the dealer. However, he's shown little respect by either the company or the drivers. I've always clearly shown him my appreciation for all he does for me, and he's always gone the extra mile to take care of me. Today, I tried to give him a gift card to a restaurant as a token of my appreciation but he wouldn't take it. He told me that my "thank you's" meant more than I'd ever know. He said that I was about the only one around there who treated him like a human being. I told him that was pretty easy, since he IS one! He was adamant about not taking it, so I just had to say thanks again. I happen to appreciate windows that roll up and down and an air-conditioner that works. It's a shame that so many others take them for granted. © 2015

Sunday, May 17, 2015

They're teaching the kids WHAT? (a link)


Gold-Plated Skivvies

One should never be too tall, too short, too skinny or too fat. If you are, you’ll have trouble finding clothes and will pay through the nose for them. If I was an average size person, I could buy jockey shorts (briefs) at the Chinese Emporium for only $9.64 for SEVEN pair. As it is, I’ve been paying about that for three pair of 3X. I need a larger size, but that’s as large as they carry. I can’t continue doing that, though. The last couple of packs have had less fabric in them (actually making them a smaller size) and almost NO elastic. As a result, I feel like I’m wearing a white Speedo when I’ve got a pair on. Not surprisingly, they’re made in Honduras.

Today, I checked a small, independent store on the other side of town and found 4X, 5X and 6X. I bought a package containing a couple pair of the 6X to see if they’d work. I guess I’ll know tomorrow. The problem is that they were $19 for those two pair. Some of you will laugh at me balking at the price, but remember what I’ve been paying. To make matters worse, they were made in Bangladesh, and by muslims, no doubt. If I’m going to have to pay that for skivvies, I’m going to go looking for American made. Wish me luck! © 2015

Saturday, May 16, 2015

An Old Road Warrior (pic)


When I was a kid, it seemed like every other truck on the road was one of these "off-center" Macks, as I called them. You almost never see one on the highway these days, but a few show up as maintenance trucks at construction and oil well sites ocassionally. This one hides in a shed at the local landfill.I think it mostly hauls fuel to their other equipment.

The Pope Doesn't Know When To Stop Digging. (a link)

_It Don't Make Sense_: The Pope Doesn't Know When To Stop Digging.

Ravens, Groundhog Pancakes And The Last Pawn Shop Visit

The experts say that I live in the area where ravens can be found in this country. Over the years, I thought that I’d seen a few, always one at a time. The ragged-looking crows seemed slightly larger than normal, so I wondered if I was looking at a raven, but I never knew for sure. Lately, I’ve been hearing a crow near my home that seems to have a sore throat. His (her?) voice seems lower and a little raspy. At the dump the other day, however, there was no doubt in my mind. While crows were all around, three of their larger cousins sat on a yard-high ridge of red clay and croaked at one another as they watched me drive by in the dump truck. I wouldn’t have had time for a shot, even if I’d had my camera, but they were RAVENS, by golly. Thankfully, they weren’t rapping at my chamber door.

Yesterday morning, on a long, straight section of roadway a few miles up the Ohio from my home town, I saw a young groundhog quickly scoot out to the center of the highway and lay down to sun himself. I knew what he was doing from being around animals, both wild and domestic, all my life. He drug his rear legs out behind him and splayed his front legs to make the maximum contact with the sun-warmed pavement, after exiting his cool den and waddling through the damp grass. The problem was, he was laying just on my side of the center line, and where my wheels would pass, unless he moved. There no cars behind me and no cars ahead of as far as the eye could see. So, I did what any self-respecting, animal-loving truck driver would do—I laid on the air horn. MY but he was a fast little feller! I have to wonder, now, how many groundhogs meet their demise simply because they take a minute to warm their dew-cooled bellies on the sun-warmed asphalt of some country road.

After cashing my check yesterday evening, I went to the pawn shop and picked up my last gun that was in hock. It tells the story that I’ve been working nearly 10 months and have just now been able to reclaim my deer rifle. Trying to catch up from over a year with no work, and low hours this winter didn’t help any. I paid out more money that the rifle was worth, to keep from losing it, but it’s set up just the way I like it, and I’d never bother to get another. So I did the illogical and kept paying their 20% interest per month and paying on the principle until it got down low enough that I felt I could afford to pick it up. I won’t miss seeing the place.

That rifle was the one that sat in the corner all year, except for the day that it would fire one shot and put a deer in the freezer. Then it would go back to the corner (after cleaning, of course). That went on for about five years, until I quit bothering to shoot a deer at all. Still, it feels good to have it back. © 2015

Friday, May 15, 2015


No, not the one about sex - the REALLY important one - about Jesus. Indications are that He will be coming back soon, and some scholars believe that those not taken with Him will be forever doomed.
37 But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,
39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. (From Matthew 24)
Tomorrow may be too late - do it today, and the next day, and the next, until they accept Him as savior. They have Heaven to gain, or Hell to pay. If you love them, do it now.

The Little House On The Hill (w/pics)

One thing about about being an over-the-hill truck jockey on water pills is that it has helped me develop the ability to spot a plastic privy at 1000 yards. Of course, some are placed in some pretty obvious locations. (Thank goodness!) One case in point is the "welcome station" at our local landfill. You can see it at the top of the grade as you head for the hinterlands of the fill. In fact, it almost appears that the reason for the road is access to the privy.

As you get closer, it warms the cockles a' yer 'eart to know that the garbage folks saw fit to provide this service to those who bring them their trash, their junk and their putrid refuse. One thought: this hilltop location, while well venilated, might make it an unwise place to sit and ponder the deeper problems of life during a thunderstorm.

Like most guys, I actually make use of the facility on the way back out, since you can drive right up to the door and barely take two steps to get inside ( a good thing at a landfill). Incidentally, they've chosen to use a large size that is handicapped accessible. It's nice and roomy, unlike some that I've been in where a big guy like me can just about rub on all four sides at once!

It;s said that babyhood and extreme old age are the only two stages of life when it's acceptable to make bowel movements the center of your life. Unfortunately, for anyone with an artificially active bladder, there's also a stage where plastic privies (or restrooms of ANY kind, including BIG bushes) maintain a large part of your thinking! I ,for one, never dreamed that the day would come that I'd be telling folks that true happiness comes from having an empty bladder. Of course, there might be one thing worse - being so bored that you read this drivel! lol I hope your day is filled with nobler thoughts. © 2015

Friday Night Steam (a link)


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Gorges Smythe - Goose Wrangler (pic)


This is about half the goose "herd" where I've been working the last couple days. They like to hang out on a football field length section of pavement where we go in and out. It never dawns on them to step to the side and let us pass. Instead, the goose couples take their broods and saunter down the length of the pavement to a wider spot at either end, where they exit the pavement. At least I've got the proper steed to drive geese - a dump truck; You're not getting ME around their little darlings on foot!

Rural Security (a link)


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Another Dead Church

When speaking to my mom the other night on the phone, she told me that the Methodist Conference had finally decided to close the church where my family attended when I was little. It was full then, but a gathering of six is considered a good crowd these days. It’s getting to where the offering doesn’t cover the utilities, so the utilities will be turned off soon.

They’re letting members and former members take a memento from the place, like a hymnal or church pew. I’d love to have a piece of the altar (prayer rail, actually) on which one of the former pastors used to pace when wound up, jumping to the wooden floor flat-footed when he wished to make a point. The neighborhood has more people than ever, but you can’t interest folks in attending a church where the spirit died 50 years ago.

I guess the land is supposed to go back to the family that originally donated it. That must gall the church higher-ups. I assume that it will be sold eventually. It would be nice if they’d give it or lease it to some beginning church, but I doubt if that will happen.

I can’t say that I have a LOT of memories there, but I have a few. For instance, the older ladies didn’t jump on the pillbox hat fad, just because Jackie Kennedy did, so I remember having to look around some impressive-sized hats to see the preacher. I vaguely remember a pretty little dark-haired girl that taught my Sunday School class. AND, I remember seeing the only bobcat that I’ve ever seen in my life, as I came back from the outhouse one day during Vacation Bible School. And I remember the bell—even years after we started going elsewhere, we could hear it ringing before service, if we were running late or not going anywhere that Sunday.

I would like to toll the bell for the death of the church but, of course, folks would think me weird for doing such a thing. Besides, should I toll it for the number of years the building was used, or just until the spirit died all those decades ago? Either way, it’s sad. © 2015

Rent A Homestead? (a link)

Don't forget "caretaking," either!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Honoring Parents (a link)

Spreading God's Love: Honoring Parents

Jack The Younger

“Jack The Elder” is my first cousin on my dad’s side of the family. His older sibling was an inconvenience to his mother’s social life when he came along, so she pawned him off on the rest of the family at every opportunity. Ned was a likeable kid, though, so no-one minded. However, Jack turned out to be bratty know-it-all, so he was harder to get rid of. This started a life-long effort on the part of my aunt to brag about him for all of his sterling qualities (mostly imagined) and noble actions (done usually with an ulterior motive).

Jack had the unfortunate luck to be in the lower genius level of society so, of course, it went immediately to his head. No-one could tell him anything, because he already knew it all so, naturally, common sense was not something that he acquired in any appreciable quantity. That would explain why his girlfriend became pregnant while still in high school.

Patti was cute as a button, vivacious, fun-loving, equally as intelligent as Jack, and the life of any get-together. No-one could figure out just what she saw in Jack, but she must have had her reasons for being attracted to him. They “did the right thing” and got married and proceeded to raise their son, Jack Junior. Both sets of parents helped out, and the young couple managed to get their college degrees and get decent jobs. By necessity, young Jack had to spend a lot of time with one set of grandparents or the other. Patti was an only child, and Jack one of two so, when it worked out that Jack The Younger turned out to be the only grandchild for either set of grandparents, it was only natural that they should spoil him rotten. My aunt even did all the things for him that she should have done for her own sons. Needless to say, he thought the world of his grandparents.

As is often the case, Jack and Patti had a marriage that was probably doomed from the start, partly by their youth, but perhaps more so by Jack’s “charming” personality. Jack’s family silently blamed him; I don’t know who her parents blamed. I’m sure there were some flaws on both sides; there usually are. Young Jack mostly stayed with his mom in the beginning, but when his hormones kicked in, he got a little much for Patti to handle, so the boy was moved in with his father and his father’s new girlfriend. The resultant clash of raging hormones (made worse by divorce) and raging ego on the father’s part often sent young Jack to the grandparents’ homes. Not only was it more peaceful there, he got doted on, so he understandably grew to love his grandparents even more.

Both grandmothers were just plain silly over him, but the grandfathers made some effort to teach him manly and honorable conduct, mostly by example. Young Jack seemed to have the personality of his uncle, rather than his dad, so that was a blessing for everyone, including himself. His paternal grandfather tried to teach him how to be gracious and sophisticated without being stuffy, and how to be comfortable being whoever he was. While that was a wonderful thing, his maternal grandfather did him the biggest favor—he taught him a trade. From earliest times, he tried to get young Jack to go with him on heating, refrigeration and air-conditioning calls. When the grandfather retired (more like when he died), Jack simply took over the business and stayed busy.

It’s that business that caused me to contact him recently, when my brother-in-law left that sort of business to work in an office. Our aging appliances may supply him with a small stream of steady work, as most new appliance aren’t worth bringing home from the store, and I plan on keeping the old ones until they’re no longer repairable. It’s been nice to renew contact with him. I’ve missed his younger perspective and his easy laugh. Of course, I think Jack The Younger is probably about 50 these days. However, his father is still living, so the term yet applies.

Jack is learning to prioritize his life. Not every battle needs fought, and not every labor is worth the effort. He’s learned, for instance, that he likes working for older people, as opposed the younger, richer consumers. He says they’re more pleasant to deal with, and more appreciative of his efforts. They also are less likely to quibble over the price than the better-off younger folks. Of course, it may help that he seems to cut older folks a slightly better deal. I think it all goes back to his relationship with his grandparents. While he plans on trying his best to keep up with technology, he told me that he’s going to target the older segment of the market. Other businesses don’t seem to want them, and he PREFERS them.

He doesn’t have a wife or kids, so with both sets of grandparents now gone, his world is shrinking. His dad lives one state to the north of us, spending his retirement playing video games day and night. I don’t know what his wife does for entertainment. His mom, single for the second time, is doing a sort of legal work for a friend after “retiring,” and is active on the board of a local wildlife park. Over the years, she’s gotten multiple college degrees, and has worked as everything from a college professor, to an EPA scientist to a long-haul trucker. She’s also an author. I suspect that she’d STILL be the life of any get-together. Jack now lives in the house where she was raised (as was he, largely), while she bought a house two doors away. My guess is that they’re close.

I suspect Jack is a bit lonely for family. We’ve thought about having him out sometime. If we feel mentally energetic enough, maybe we’ll invite his mother, too! ;-) © 2015

Sunday, May 3, 2015

For Science (a link)

_It Don't Make Sense_: For Science

Japan Doesn't HAVE a Muslim Problem! (a link)


The Not-So-Still Of The Night

It was 3:30 am when I took the pooch out. Along with her leash, I had my large DeWalt rechargeable flashlight and my great grandfather’s hickory livestock cane in my hand. The light is a constant now that it’s warm enough for snakes, the cane has been a sometimes thing recently, since I’m having trouble with either a stone bruise or a heel spur. This time, I take the cane more as a weapon; its strength and the pipe-collar extension on the tip make it a force to be reckoned with.

Once the Mighty Dachshund takes a prolonged drain, I keep pressure on the leash, to assist her with her jump back up on the porch. Then, I do something usually reserved for daylight hours; I lead her over to the porch swing and have a seat. She is a touch slower than normal taking her place at my feet, I guess because this is something new to her. In a few seconds though, she’s in her usual spot, and at her usual angle, so she can watch both the side yard and the road that goes by the front of our place, 200 feet in the distance.

There’s a bright moon above and our security light out by the road sheds some light on the porch and the lawn, even from that distance. Since the two light sources are from nearly opposite directions, the trees and grass before us are lit up fairly well. I can even enjoy the beauty of the wild dogwood blossoms at the edge of the woods, thirty feet away. The pooch lies there, sniffing, looking and listening.

She turns her head nearly over her shoulder when two or more coyotes raise a chorus on a distant ridge. There seems to be some awareness with her that the sound would be dangerous, were it closer. Sometimes, on warm nights when the windows are open, we can hear the screaming of little animals (probably rabbits) being carried to their deaths. I stroke her velvety side with the cane tip, reminding her that “the big dog” is here to protect her. The fact seems to put her at ease. The chorus soon ends and no more is heard from the furry choir.

A whip-poor-will chants far away in the hollow. Eventually, he moves far enough away that all you can hear of his song is the first note. A mocking bird sings a couple ditties out near the security light, but soon fades back into restful silence. Some day-bird braves a note or two down in the words, as if to say that she’s still there, but waiting for brighter hours.

I hear a couple bugs droning, I think, but it’s hard to tell with the light ringing in my ears that I’ve always had. In the distance I hear the engine of a semi on the distant east-west highway, and the whine of the tires on the north-south road that intersects it. Neither day nor night has been silent since the first four-lane went through, when I was about 10. Still, it’s an almost quiet night. Soon, a car approaches on our little country road and, eventually, goes by our home. It’s moving at a reasonable pace as it passes, so it’s probably not a young person. It hums off into the distance and relative quiet returns.

Normally, the pooch arises and walks the short distance to the door when she’s had her fill of porch-sitting and wishes to rejoin her mistress. Tonight, she seems content to stay a while longer, even when I specifically ask if she wants to go inside. I give her another five minutes and then arise and turn to the door myself. She remains rooted on the porch until I tell her to come. I hate to make her go in, but I need to go back to bed. Of course, I’ll have to type this up and post it first. © 2015

Saturday, May 2, 2015

A Song Worth Hearing, especially Vietnam veterans and their friends and families (a link)


Interesting boat! (a link)


In The Land Across The River

Wednesday and Friday of this week found me making deliveries into the hinterlands of what I sometimes semi-jokingly call “enemy territory.” There is always some friction between people living on opposite sides of any border, and so it is with the two states that share the bulk of the Ohio River as their boundary. Buckeyes like to think of mountaineers (aka “hillbillies”) as hicks, while mountaineers tend to consider buckeyes to be arrogant jerks (or worthless nuts). I’ve found there to be plenty of both on either side of the river, but still, I have to admit, there IS a difference. A couple small experiments bear this out.

I’ve mentioned in times past that I’m a “waiver”—one of those strange country souls who waves at nearly everyone. Needless to say, I waved at all the other dump truck drivers that I met on the road over there, and there were dozens of dozens of them over the course of Wednesday. At the end of the day, only two had waved back, plus one semi-driver who actually waved first. In my home state, 90% of them would have waved back.

Friday, I was delivering to the same well-site again,….and waving again. There were probably only half as many trucks on the road that day, but the total of those waving back was six. Those had a familiar look and were, I suspect, guys that remembered me waving at them on Wednesday. Still not very many, but progress, I suppose.

I was tempted to write it off as being an influence of northern city mentality, since some of the trucks could have been from larger cities to the north, come south to find work. However, that wouldn’t jive with the second experiment. You see, I also waived at anyone caught outdoors, such as feeding their cattle, mowing their yard, getting their mail and so on. In two days, NOT ONE SINGLE PERSON WAVED BACK! They just looked at me as if I must SURELY be insane. (Maybe I am, but I don’t mind.) Back home nearly all would have waved.

There IS a difference folks, though I’ll leave explaining it to the “experts” on the government dole somewhere. My wife does offer an opinion on the matter; she says that it’s because of the high incidence of German blood in Ohio, as opposed to the mostly Scots-Irish of West Virginia. I find that both interesting and amusing, since both she and I have more German blood than anything else!

The well-site that we were delivering to was about ten miles back Rt. # 556 from Clarington, on the Ohio River. It was located in Switzerland Township of Monroe County. It was rugged, but beautiful country, similar to the hillier regions of Doddridge, Richie or Tyler counties of my own state. Most of the hill farms were in various stages of reverting to forest, but there were still more active farmers there than in many of our counties.

It was the sort of land that I’ve always said God intended to grow trees. Still, if the people who settled it came largely from Switzerland, it probably seemed downright tame, compared to the Alps. The Swiss influence is still somewhat evident in the number of bank barns that remain, though you can tell that many more used to be there. Many of the old barns have been replaced by the featureless metal-boxes-on-concrete-pads that pass for barns these days. Oh well, at least some of the land is still being farmed. Most of my own state is growing up into those trees that I mentioned. A little green grass DOES add some welcome contrast to the beautiful monotony of rolling, wooded hills. © 2015

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Snobbery In The Woodyard

It never ceases to amaze me what some folks will pay for bragging rights. The world's finest splitting HATCHET (not an axe or a maul, but a HATCHET) is available from Granfors for only about $150. It's not for professional woodcutters, they'd use full size splitting axes and mauls at one-third the price. This is for weekend warriors who want to go camping and carry TWO hatchets, instead of one, and want to be able to use their phone to take photos of it in use to send to their idiot friends to make them jealous.

Don't get me wrong, it really IS the absolute best commercially-made splitting hatchet in the world. BUT, who cares? We're talking short pieces of wood that are handled perfectly well by ANY decent hatchet that you happen to have with you. Mine cost $2 at a yard sale, plus the cost of a new handle. AND, I only have to carry ONE hatchet, instead of one to chop with and one to split with. Incidentally, it says "Boy Scouts of America" on it.

Here's the world's best if you'd like to see it:

Whatever Happened to Posse Comitatus ? (a link)

"Rational Preparedness" : The Blog: Whatever Happened to Posse Comitatus ?

Jade Helm Has Prisoner Trains - For WHO? (a link)


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Firewood Splitting For Seniors - Lesson 1 (w/pic)

Click photo to enlarge.

Always save the largest diameter log and split it last. That way, when you need to take a breather, you have a stool handy! lol © 2015

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Swingin’ In The Rain

I got sent home early from work today, since the job that I was on got rained out. The rain came earlier than predicted, but at least I got in six hours today. I’m sitting in the porch swing beside our front door, with the Mighty Dachshund on her leash and at my feet. I moved the welcome mat over to where she likes to lay, so she wouldn’t be on the cold concrete. It’s much cooler since the rain began. 

I’m not actually in the rain here, since I’m on the porch, but a soft rain is falling, and the pooch and I are enjoying the scents, sights and sounds of the day. I notice that the breeze is from the ESE, rather than the usual west. That probably means that the rain has set in for a while, rather than blowing through quickly.

We sat here about five minutes when I brought the pooch outside before dawn, also, and listened to a couple barred owls in the hollow. Now, the little birds have taken over and seem to fill the woods, beginning only 30 feet away, with their chatter. I guess they realize that they have to eat, rain or shine. It’s been 20 years since I worked in the woods regularly, and I’m losing the memory of which calls go with which birds, though I still remember the birds themselves. It’s something that I hate to lose.

As we sit here, a couple crows fly back and forth through the woods and caw to one another. I think they have a nest somewhere down the ridge, to the west of the house. A couple little flycatchers would like to explore the porch (or maybe they have a nest I haven’t noticed), but they see me and the dog, so stay in the white oak limbs, 20 feet away. A hundred feet away, a squirrel scurries across the upper half of a small (4-5”) cherry that has broken part-way off and whose upper end now rests in the fork of a scarlet oak. The natural bridge lets him leave the woods, enter the scarlet oak, then jump over to the limbs of the big white oak in the front yard, without endangering himself further by getting down to ground level. A pair of red-headed woodpeckers arrives, one on the ground, the other in a nearby tree limb. I’ve been seeing them often the last week or so, I suspect they have a nest nearby. It’s probably been 10 years since I’ve seen any others, though we have plenty of hairy, downy, and pileated ones, plus flickers.

Sitting here, I see a good selection of wild greens in the lawn before me, as well as some violets and bluets. Plus, there are hundreds of tiny green oak leaves, showing where some of last fall’s acorn crop has germinated. The Mighty Dachshund begins to growl, and I laugh when I realize that she has just now paid attention to the pieces of firewood in the front yard that I stood on end last night to split. I tell her what they are, and that they’re harmless, and that she should be quiet. She obeys, but she still eyes them suspiciously. Finally, my wife comes to the door and suggests that we go to town and get the dog a burger for lunch, not that she’s spoiled or anything, so we do.

After running the original errand, I drive my wife around a bit and take her a couple places to give her an outing, then we head home. It’s not raining by the time we get there, and the pooch and I reclaim our spot on the porch for a while. It’s obviously later now; you can tell that the darkness of the day isn’t due solely to the overcast sky. The unseen sun is getting lower. The birds are getting quieter, except for the crows. A couple new voices are added to the chorus, though. One of the area roosters is sounding off and a tom is occasionally gobbling on my back ridge. It seems a little late in the day for his vocalizations. People are getting home from work now, and kids are getting out of school. I don’t know which is which, but the sound of cars racing out my ridge-top road is added to the sounds of nature. Then, too, so are the whistle of a far away train, the rumble of passing jets and the whine of truck tires on the old Northwestern Pike (about a mile-and-a-half away as the crow flies). Sometimes, even those sounds are interesting.

The dog finally makes it obvious that she wants to go in, so I let her in the door and close it behind her. I then take the eight-pound splitting maul from the back of the truck and begin to split some of the pieces that the dog growled at earlier in the day. Within a minute or so, a soft rain begins again. Now I really AM swingin’ in the rain—swingin’ a maul, that is. Soon, I get wet enough that I call it a day and head back to the porch. The air grows colder yet, and the breeze picks up, as I sit in the swing once more. Eventually, my shoulders begin to ache, partly from the cold, perhaps, but probably more from the affects of atmospheric pressure on my arthritis.

Soon, my wife comes to the door and tells me that the pooch is barking for me and that my presence is required. What can I say? It’s a command performance, so I go inside and leave the swing empty as the rain continues to fall gently on the quiet woods and the spring grass. © 2015

ANOTHER Shot Fired In The War On Cash! (a link)


Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Idiotic And The Evil

Being on the road every day has convinced me that the proper attitude for safety is to assume that every other driver on the road is a raving maniac. Some days, it seems nearly true. Friday was one of those days.

Maybe it has to do with some folks getting their checks early and rushing around to spend them. Maybe it has to do with some folks getting distracted, thinking about how far they need to stretch their check to survive. Some may be unable to see through the tears they’re shedding, remembering the days when they HAD a paycheck. Then again, maybe they just smoke too much wacky-weed, or are affected by the phase of the moon.

I had a lot of aggressive drivers that day, acting like they owned the road and that I was an unwelcome trespasser. There were quite a few “what-do-you-think-you’re-doing-passing-ME” drivers on the four-lane, also. They’re the ones going slower than you, so you begin passing, only to find yourself going 10 miles over the speed limit to get around them, or give up and fall back in behind them. If you do the latter, they usually slow back down to what they were doing before you began passing. I think it’s all about ego and control, but I guess only the Lord knows what goes on in their minds. These things are so common, though, that unless you chose to let them define your day, you tend to let them pass and move on to new adventures. The deliberately evil ones are out there, but sometimes, we don’t even know HOW evil until later.

And so it was yesterday after I’d turned in my time card and was in the office to ask when to come in Monday. At that time, the big boss asked me if I’d had any problems on the road that day. My reply was, “Other than the usual crazies, not really.” Then he asked about a particular location, a light bulb came on and I replied to the affirmative. When asked about it, I described it thusly:

"I was headed out a four-lane, and was in the lane to turn into the mine access road across the way. There was a “wolf-pack” of cars coming at me, but they were far enough away that I knew that I had plenty of time to safely make my turn. However, as I turned across the first lane, it appeared that one of the lead cars accelerated at a mad pace and wished to plaster itself on my rear axles. Not wishing to give them that opportunity, I accelerated and entered the access road faster than I’d ever done before. Looking in the rear-view mirror, I saw the car go speeding by with plenty of room to spare."

The boss then told me that the woman driver (I’d assumed it was a man, due to the aggressive nature of the driving) had called in and told them that I’d cut her off and that she had to slam on her brakes and stop, to keep from hitting me!

The boss, and the others in the office, seemed to buy my side, but he warned me to always be careful and err on the side of safety, because some folks seem to feel that all trucks are their enemy, and they’re out to cause the drivers and the companies any trouble that they can. And, as we all know, some folks are just looking for a reason to sue.

I told him that I had my business name on the side of my truck when I was self-employed and understood the responsibility and possible repercussions of doing so. I told him that it made the situation even MORE important to me when it was someone else’s name on there that could suffer damage from my actions. I also told him that the woman was flat-out lying, but that neither he nor I could defend against that. I mentioned that I could have somehow misjudged her individual speed in comparison with the pack and accidentally been at least partly to blame, but that still didn’t explain her saying that she’d jammed on her brakes and stopped, when she hadn’t.

I left to come home, but with a bitter taste in my mouth. How do I know if the boss really believes me, or thinks that I’d just said what I did to save my own hide? Knowing that she’s a liar, my guess is that she was hoping to cost me my job. What in the world ails people? My only guess is that the Devil has them.

These things I know. She appeared to accelerate, not slow down. There was no squealing of brakes or smoke from the tires. There was no downturn of the front of the car that you see when someone brakes suddenly, and there was no right-to-left shimmy to show that she was fighting to control a car that was pulling left or right in a desperate braking situation. Plus, I saw her shoot by in my rearview mirror. Since humans are fallible, my observations could be less than 100 percent accurate, but this I know, the woman called my boss and LIED! I can do nothing, but the Lord will deal with her. © 2015

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Picking Up Lead

I've mentioned before here, that one way to accomplish gun control is the make some of the components unavailable. Few people have probably noticed that lead is increasingly harder to get and more expensive. Then, there's also the simple concern of having supplies on hand if hard times come knocking. So, whenever I get my tires changed, I look around the lot for wheel weights. The owner discovered the price of lead a few years ago and now tells his employees to pick them up so he can sell them, rather than give them to customers who ask. However, they don't bother to claw any out of the cracks like I do.

Yesterday, while waiting on my truck, I picked up 9.7 ounces of lead weights. If I knock off 1.7 ounces for waste, I still have half a pound. According to info that I found online, that would let me cast 17 of the.500 balls that I use in my smoothbore muzzleloader. Seventeen balls would put a lot of meat in the freezer. I think I'll keep looking, whenever I go back!

Yes, I Really DO Know How To Spell "Maul!"

I don't know where my mind was the day that I wrote the post about finishing my maul, but I just went through and corrected the FOUR places where I spelled it m-a-l-l! I can't believe no-one called me on it! Such things are why I used to have the guru proof all my posts, until I began to feel guilty taking up so much of his time.

Another Shot Fired In The War On Cash ! (a link)


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Seen Along The Way (pics)

The following pictures were taken Tuesday, April 21, 2015, during the course of hauling six loads of limestone from the mine, to a city sewage facility.

This photo was taken looking west on the old Northwestern Turnpike; I thought the redbuds were pretty. They lined the road for miles. Click images to enlarge.

Here's Mt. Trashmore (local landfill) rising from its original pit to tower over the nearby landscape. It looks nicer than it smells. I consider it a memorial to the wastefullness of man. For those who'd like to see this man-made marvel, drive the last few miles of the Northwestern Turnpike toward the Ohio River, while keeping an eye to your left.

I think I can remember when this area along the Northwestern Turnpike near town was gardens and pasture fields. The last time they "new and improved" shipping and flood control on the river by building a new dam, this former botttom land became virtually unusable, due to frequent flooding. Everything comes at a price.

This bridge was built in 1935 with two luxuriously wide lanes and a nice wide sidewalk on each side. Thirty or 40 years ago, they tried making it a three lane, with two lanes headed toward the downtown of a morning, and two coming out of an afternoon. Unfortunately, folks got confused and ran into one another. SO, they went ahead and squeezed FOUR lanes onto the formerly two-lane bridge. I'm not saying that it's too narrow for that, but the lane across the yellow line from the nearest car allows me three inches on each side between my tires and the lines that mark the lane. Even worse, there's a curve in a rise at the far end, making it even harder to stay in your lane, especially for semi's, since they track off more than straight frames.

Need a phone? Check out your area Department of Health and Human Resources office, they may have people on THEIR sidewalk (just like ours does) collecting information that's none of their business so you, too, can have an Obama-phone!

A hundred years ago, our town had brick streets and a profitable street car system. Traces of both can be seen where the "new and improved" asphalt pavement keeps peeling off (as does the appliqued "brick" street crossing). New layers of asphalt seem to last about two years, while the old, "obsolete" bricks keep hanging in there. The profitable street car system was originally replaced by equally profitable large diesel buses, which eventually became unprofitable. We now have a tax subsidized fleet of small buses providing some folks with transportation that they wouldn't have otherwise.

I didn't take a picture of the big hole at the sewage-treatment plant that we were filling. I was afraid some bureaucrat would raise a stink about it if he saw me with a camera (terrorist concerns and all that). © 2015

Sunday, April 19, 2015

A Very Short History Of The First JADE HELM (a link)


What Is Wrong With the World? (a link)

Medley of Worship: Opus 2015-101: What Is Wrong With the World?

A Good Read!

1 The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.

2 Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.

3 There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.

4 Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun,

5 Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race.

6 His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.

7 The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.

8 The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.

9 The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.

10 More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.

11 Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.

12 Who can understand his errors? cleanse thou me from secret faults.

13 Keep back thy servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, and I shall be innocent from the great transgression.

14 Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.

Psalm 19

C'est Fini! (w/pic)

Ya didn't even know that I knew that Frenchity stuff didja? Well I don't, but my maul is finally finished. I used a draw-knife, a small handplane and a fine rasp to get the handle smooth enough to use with gloves, and MAYBE bare-handed. The handle isn't completely uniform in diameter, nor is it without a little swing and sway in its length, but it will do fine as is, I believe.

I took about an inch off the length of the handle, due to a slightly battered end from an glancing sledge blow. At that point, it weighed 20 pounds and 12 ounces. If I were going to use it in timber framing, I would have left it there. However, this maul will probably be used for driving wedges and small posts, so that made it seem cumbersone, especially one-handed, as when starting posts and stakes.

To remedy the situation, I cut about three inches off it's 12 inch head. Interestingly enough, removing one-fourth of its length reduced its weight by about a third, to 14 pounds, 10 ounces. It seems much more "user friendly" at that weight. It wouldn't surprise me if it loses another pound or so when it's finally fully seasoned. The overall length has been reduced from 40" to 35-1/2."

I suspect the weigh being concentrated at the butt end is due to three seperate influences. First, the butt IS slightly larger in diameter. Second, the sloping cut of the shoulder gave the air more surface from which to draw moisture than the straight cut on the butt. Thirdly, the maul has spent a lot of its time standing as you see it, so moisture in the wood has probably settled some from simple gravity.

The maul is done now, though I MIGHT chamfer the rim of the lower end a little bit. Then again, maybe not. I probably should put some boron or linseed oil on it soon, so the powder-post beetles don't discover it. Incidently, the apparent crack of the head in the photo is actually only in the bark, though the wood may also eventualy develop a crack, as well. Most of the old ones did the same, so I don't suppose it hurts them. Click the photo to enlarge it. © 2015


Saturday, April 18, 2015

04-18-15 – Riding Shotgun – Friday

Rain was predicted for Friday, and the dispatcher told me to come in at 7, instead of 6:30, so I was expecting to wait around a couple hours for the paychecks and then be sent home. Surprisingly, it hadn’t rained yet by dawn, and I was able to do my pre-trip with no flashlight or umbrella. (Yes, EVERY self-respecting truck-jockey needs a bumbershoot!)

The sky was overcast by 8, when two other guys and I were dispatched across town to Mount Shrinkmore, to get some fill dirt for a customer. It started raining enough on the way over that I already seriously doubted our ability to get to the top of the dig, from where the dirt is currently being taken. Just as we were ready to turn into the site, the bottom fell out of the clouds and the rain came down in buckets. Instead of turning into the site, I turned onto a lot across the road, owned by the same company, to wait and watch. The other two fellows followed.

When the monsoon stopped five minutes later, there was a small stream flowing down the access road of the site. I called the dispatcher on the radio and he said to go ahead and try to get the fill dirt if we could get to it. I knew the impossibility of climbing a hill of red clay, but I agreed and proceeded to drive to where the guy in the track-hoe was working at a location that was mostly rock. He said that we’d never make it up the hill and, if we did, would probably slide over the hill on the way down, so he wanted no part of trying to get regular fill dirt. I radioed the dispatcher with the news and he told us to go ahead and load rock for the next order.

That order was actually for a branch of our employers’ own company. They’re filling in a low section of their property which floods, so they can put mini-storage or rental buildings there. That site was unusably muddy, too. However, there was a small unused section of asphalt road where we could back in and dump, and the boss could then doze the dirt a short distance to where it was needed. The dispatcher pulled the third guy off the job after his first load and put him on another job, leaving me and the new guy they hired this week. (The kid actually has far more experience than I and has worked for the company before.) And so, we spent our day driving from one side of the river to the other.

A side note here—this tributary river has a total of three bridges joining the north side of town with the south. The Ohio, into which it flows a mile downstream, has only two bridges joining West Virginia with Ohio. Yet, the state says that when the older bridge, (originally privately owned, but now owned by the city) gets unusable, they will take no part in replacing it. That would leave only two bridges joining the two states in this area, one here, and another about 15 miles upstream. Go figure! ADENDUM - (For some reason, I forgot the relatively new bridge a few miles downstream.)

The track-hoe that was loading us had a good-sized bucket, and since the mud between the rocks helped hold everything together, it often took only three buckets to give me an 18-20 ton load. When leaving and pulling onto the three lane going by the site, I tried to get into the center turn-lane to let the mud sling off my tires in the least-used part of the highway. It’s always interesting to see how some folks will let you out, while others will speed up to try and keep you from getting out ahead of them. I’ve also spent enough time in that traffic area to know that some of the same cars run some of the same red lights every day.

My nine-mile round trip took me by the homeless camp I took a few photos of recently—22 times in fact, before the day was over. That was often enough to start figuring out which of the folks who frequented the bridge area were residents of the camp. One looked like a typical wino. Another looked like he was well enough fed, but down on his luck otherwise. A third looked like he could have been a Harvard graduate—neat and clean, well dressed, and concerned that someone would see him slipping off the sidewalk and walking toward the camp. He acted like he was just out enjoying the scenery and waited until he thought no-one would see him before heading for the camp. I wouldn’t have seen it either if I hadn’t kept an eye on him in my rearview mirror. Obviously, not all folks on the street are shiftless characters who want to live that way, they’ve just run out of other options.

Since the job form that I was using had lines for either load or dump times, so I recorded the dump times to see how long every trip took. Most of the 11 round trips took about 45 minutes, but some took only 30 minutes and a couple took an hour each. Variations included waiting for the track-hoe man to return from lunch or to move his machine for a better reach of the materials. It also made a difference how you caught the traffic lights and how heavy the traffic was. Of course, my water pills tend to complicate things, so three of the 45 minute cycles included a much-needed “pit stop.”

I had one interesting case of road rage to observe on the next-to-last trip. Waiting at the stop light before entering onto a bridge access road, the car in front of me remained stationary while the about ten cars ahead of him went through the light. When I looked closer, I could see a young fellow busily texting away, blissfully unaware that anything was happening. Perhaps it was my own rage that caused the situation, but I gave him a sort of medium blast on the air horn. He stuck a heavily-tattooed arm out the window and flew the bird as he started off. Then, he slammed on his brakes, slung open the door, stepped one foot out of the car and started screaming what I suspect were some rather unkind words at me. I just shook my head at him as I steered around him and went on. I had work to do. Besides, I doubt if my employer would have been pleased if I’d been the instigator of violence. I might not have been pleased, either, if his twenty-year-old speed out-fought my sixty-year-old sneakiness!

I mentioned the incident to one of the owners and he said the only thing he’d have done different would have been to LAY on the air horn. He then went on to tell of a similar situation, back when he was a hot-tempered young man, where the other guy ended up running away while he was chasing him and throwing wrenches at him. The next day, the guy’s name was in the paper for shooting his grandfather in the back with a shotgun. He said that he began thinking things through a little more after that, just in case some crazy might start shooting.

I guess some things are just all in a day’s work, as they say! © 2015