As a certified country curmudgeon, it's been said that I have an opinion on everything and a story for every occasion. Other folks just say that I'm a windbag. I, on the other hand, consider myself a purveyor of nostalgia, humor and social commentary from the country perspective. I also occasionally link to posts dealing with current events, politics, religion, prepping, history and homesteading. Please be aware that all entries are copyrighted and may not be used without permission.
COMMENTS from anyone are very WELCOME, pro or con, as long as they aren't needlessly disrespectful. Any comments deleted after posting have merely been removed for privacy reasons.
Many names or place names used in stories will be changed to protect the privacy of myself and others.
- ...I was watching a video on Facebook that showed how the tapes of the planes hitting the towers on 911 were obviously bogus, when it disappeared from Facebook! Obviously, they're in cahoots with the establishment. So much for free speech on Facebook. They've apparently decided that it's their ball and if we don't play the way they want, we can just go home! -
Old Ebenezer and I might have seen eye to eye on a
few things. I went to Chinamart today and was accosted by some little (and not
so little) girls in skimpy little outfits, some of them holding batons. They
were collecting for their cheer-leading club, I assume. I only half heard what
they were pitching. It wouldn’t have mattered; my response is always the same
anymore, except for some veterans groups and the Salvation Army. Besides, I’ve
seen a few of the routines they teach those girls, and some were called “bump
and grind” back in my day.
I was a Boy Scout, but I no longer donate to them.
It’s been a long time since they taught kids the things that they SHOULD be
teaching them. It tells you something that the “God and Country” award is no
more, nor are most of the merit badges that once required that they know survivalist
and preparedness skills. Most things that I saw the last time that I tried to
look it up were either rather useless in real life, were about social issues,
or were downright PC. THEN, they decided that it was okay to have gay scout
masters. Nope; not on MY nickel!
I don’t donate to the Girl Scouts any longer, either,
OR buy their cookies. Their cookies have been notoriously over-priced for years
anyway; you really were just donating, not BUYING anything to speak of. Their
agenda is all PC now, and rather urban-oriented from what I can tell. Then
there’s that whole link to Planned Parenthood thing that they try to deny, but
which is as real as the murder that group perpetuates. Nope, once again, not on
Then there are all the various school teams and
little leagues and peewee football teams wanting help. I really couldn’t afford
to help them all if I wanted to. Besides, I’m not as sold on sports as most
folks. Then again, when I was a kid, those who needed money for sports mowed
yards, raked leaves and ran errands to raise funds to pay for what they needed,
even fairly young kids. Now they stand at the door at Chinamart and look at you
like you’re from outer-space if you give them a smile and a “no thank you.”
Begging is socially acceptable these days; work apparently isn’t.
Something is going on in Charlotte. Four different links about out-of-state rioter reinforcements and military Humvees with top-mounted machine guns are being blocked by Facebook. I doubt that we hear anything on the news until after the fact, and it will be lies then. News blackouts are a bad omen. Maybe our demon-in-chief is beginning his martial law.
I just tried them all again, and the links STILL won't load. NOR will they load on Google. There IS a news black-out in Charlotte, and that is NEVER a good thing!
- Something is going on in Charlotte. Four different links about out-of-state rioter reinforcements and military Humvees with top-mounted machine guns are being blocked by Facebook. I doubt that we hear anything on the news until after the fact, and it will be lies then. News blackouts are a bad omen. Maybe our demon-in-chief is beginning his martial law. -
This was sent to my paternal grandmother at Parkersburg, West Virginia, by granddad at Blue Creek, WV, on April 10, 1912. The back reads, "Hello, _____. Received your letter today. Write me another one. I am well and hope this finds you the same. Here is the well that was on fire. I saw this fire. I will try and get a colored one and send you. Expect to come home soon. Have a rig to build at Joker, so I will be up this week. Write every day anyway. Yours, _____" -
This was probably taken about 1939 when my dad would have been 14. It appears to be a '37 Ford coupe that he's leaning against. It looks like there might be tents in the background, suggesting a fair grounds, possibly the Ritchie County Fair in West Virginia, or maybe the Wood County Fair.
This is a long one, folks. Save it until you can sit a few minutes.
Don’t think for a second that I really know what I’m
talking about. I’ve probably felled about two trees with a crosscut saw in my
entire lifetime, though I HAVE cut THOUSANDS of Christmas trees and similar-sized
hardwoods over the years with a bow saw. However, my dad grew up when that was
how things were done, and he told me and showed me a few things.
You’ll notice that I speak of “felling” timber
instead of “falling;” maybe that was a colloquialism, or maybe it was just a
family thing, but the first term was used at least as much as the second. Plus,
there were felling axes and felling saws referred to by others, so maybe the
usage was more common at one time.
Old photos of my country neighborhood from 1940 and earlier
show hills largely denuded of timber to make pasture for milk cows and horses.
I know the last time that much of my home farm was mowed was in 1937, by my
12-year-old father, using a one-horse mower and a horse named “Duke.” The
hillsides that he mowed then became the second-growth pine woods that I grew up
with. Dad, on the other hand grew up with a little virgin timber that NEVER got
cut, and the very steepest of hillsides that had returned to second-growth
hardwoods (mostly oak) from being cut long before he was born.
Like most farm families back then, my ancestors
heated, at least in part, with wood (mostly hardwood) and some coal. That was
before the days of chainsaws, so they used axes and crosscuts, naturally—axes
for the smaller trees, say six inches and down, and crosscuts for those that
were over that size. Of course they used crosscuts for cutting their wood to
length, until it got too small to hold still for them. A sawbuck always helped
with that task. Smaller diameter limbs and saplings were cut to length with a
bucksaw. Really small pieces (kindling) were simply lopped to length with an
axe on a stump or wood block. They cut enough firewood that they actually sold
some in town during the winter.
If a tree was perfectly straight and
balanced-looking, it could be cut with most any kind of crosscut saw. You just
made a level cut for the notch above the worst of the butt-swell, and in the
direction that you wanted the tree to fall. Then you chopped out the top of the
notch with an axe. OR, you could just chop the entire notch with the axe to
save wear on the sharpened saw teeth.
You then went to the opposite side and made another
level cut a couple inches or higher above the deepest part of the notch. If you
were dead sure that the tree would fall okay, you just kept sawing until the
tree started falling. Otherwise, you put a thin felling wedge in the second cut
as soon as you could, so the saw wouldn’t get pinched while you were sawing. If
the tree wasn’t very large, though, this situation would be where you needed a
narrow felling saw. While felling saws came in many lengths and widths, I’ve
seen two man felling saws as short as five feet and as narrow as three inches
from the gullet to the back of the saw.
Once you sawed as close to the notch as you deemed
wise, you’d take the handle off one end and slide the saw from the cut. That
would leave a “hinge” of wood to control the direction of the fall, in
conjunction with the notch. Then, you’d begin driving the felling wedge in
until the tree began to fall. If the tree had a back-lean, or heavy limbs to
the back, you might have to use a second or third wedge closer to the hinge.
Whenever a tree began to fall, you’d take your saw and walk back, at a 45
degree angle, away from the stump. Naturally, you always checked ahead of time
to be sure the path was open.
There wasn’t much pulpwood cut in my area before the
days of my childhood. Since pine is a pioneer species in my area, the fields
that began growing up during the Great Depression were just coming to maturity.
I was probably about five years old before Dad began cutting any pulpwood to
reclaim some of the fields on our farm that had been lost since the lean years
of the depression. By that time, he had a chainsaw but, in the old days, pine
trees would have been cut the same way as hardwoods. The buyers around here
purchased pulp only in five foot lengths back then, so the crosscut was used to
cut the logs to length, until they got down fairly small, then they might have
used a bucksaw, since pulpwood was taken down to 3-4 inches in diameter. I
remember reading somewhere in the 1949 Yearbook of Agriculture that the BOWSAW
revolutionized the pulpwood industry. Can you imagine, then, what the chainsaw
did for timbering in all forms?
Here’s a little story about crosscuts from my
paternal grandfather: The two sons of a gentleman he knew had filed their
father’s saw “really sharp,” and the guy was impressed. He wanted granddad to
see it before they began using it. Granddad said it WAS really sharp, but when
the boys tried using it, it wouldn’t go into the wood, but kept jumping all
over the place instead. The guy couldn’t figure it out and wanted granddad to
look at the saw again. The father and boys were in shock when Granddad ran a
file down the length of the saw two or three times, right on the sharp points
of the teeth. He then handed the saw back to the boys and told them to try it
again. They couldn’t believe how well it cut with dulled teeth. He told them to
be sure and stop filing the split second the shiny spot disappeared when they
were sharpening a floated (teeth made the same length) saw. Otherwise, the
teeth would be all different lengths and the saw would jump around.
Incidentally, Granddad always said that the rakers should be filed “the
thickness of a thin dime” shorter than the teeth.
As a reminder of the physical condition that folks
were in back in the days right after World War II, my dad and a friend used to
take the old farm truck (’37 Ford ton-and-a-half) into the woods of a morning,
fill it with wood as they cut and split it, eat lunch and deliver it. They’d
then return to the woods and load the truck again with wood they cut and split
that afternoon, eat supper and deliver that load. All the cutting was done with
axes and crosscut saws. They would fall a tree and cut everything possible into
firewood, including the larger limbs, before stopping for a breather. Heck, I had a hard time doing that with a
- I spent a little bit at Chinamart today and got 100 yards of 8# fishing line, an assortment of 78 sinkers and a pack of 50 plain shank #4 fish hooks. I won't do anything with them THIS year probably, but maybe next. More importantly, it's one more aspect of being prepared for hard times. I reckon I'll never outlive the Boy Scout motto. LOL -
- They say Old Man Bush is voting for Hillary, I couldn't care less, I never liked the guy in the first place. He was the first president to mention the New World Order and did so in a positive way. He also condoned the federal murders at Ruby Ridge and spoke against the NRA (and dropped his membership) for speaking against it. -
- I just did something that I haven't done before. I prayed that the Lord would get through the thick skull of Georges Soros and bring him to salvation. Barring THAT, I prayed that God would remove him and his money from the scene. The man is an enemy of all mankind and is bankrolling much of the evil being directed towards our country. If you are a Christian, I hope you will consider praying the same prayer - salvation as the first option - his removal as the second. Since it's for the good of mankind to remove his influence, I don't believe the Lord will mind. David prayed for the destruction of HIS enemies, and God answered those prayers. Think about it. -
“Some forms of craftsmanship required highly intensive
training of very young hands by a master, and only a small portion of dedicated
apprentices reached that zenith of competence. Once the masters are buried,
even the world’s billionaires (should they desire that quality again) cannot resurrect
them.” - Peter Vido, from the second
section of The Scythe Book, Second Edition
I believe this applies not just to the manufacture
of quality tools, but also to once common skills now being made “irrelevant” by
technology. Einstein said that World War III would be fought with nukes but
World War IV would be fought with sticks and stones. Sadly, we have lost the skilled usage of sticks and stones for even peaceful purposes.
- There was a piece on Facebook's splash page this morning where a "journalist" was calling Facebook the number one enemy of newspapers and JOURNALISM. I beg to differ. The "journalists" killed true journalism long ago by deciding to be propagandists INSTEAD of journalists. That being the case, folks decided that if they were going to be lied to anyway, they'd choose the lies they listened to on their own. As for newspapers, if they'd start publishing news, instead of drivel, they might still be selling papers. -
I bumped into one of my neighbors I hadn’t seen for
a while when I was in the restaurant in Chinamart the other day. We sat down at
a table and chewed the fat a spell, caught up on some things and swapped a
couple jokes. At one point, we mentioned that our wives were as likely to bump
into one another as they shopped as we had been while beating in time at the
restaurant. He said something that I now forget, but I remember making the
wisecrack that wives are always “right.” Suddenly, his face took on a serious,
in fact a sad look about it. I sort of wondered what nerve I’d struck.
He said quietly, “You know, I don’t know how true
that may be for other couples, but it’s sure true in my marriage. I’ve been
told that my wife and I both have a reputation for being a little difficult,
but in going on 40 years of marriage, my wife has never started an argument.” I
almost smiled, thinking he was going to make a wisecrack, but something told me
not to do it.
“According to her,” he went on, “every argument we’ve
ever had has been MY fault. Now, I don’t buy that, but that’s what she says,
and I think she really believes it. In the beginning, when I realized that I
was in the wrong, I’d apologize, but you know, she never once accepted one of
those apologies. And of course, since she’s never wrong, she never once made
one to me. In fact, I eventually quit apologizing, not because I’m too proud,
but because she somehow figured that she then had the right to try brow-beating
me all over again. Sometimes, I just gritted my teeth and bore it, but
sometimes it was just too aggravating and the fuss would be on again. It ended
up being simpler to just not apologize in the first place.
“Of course that means I get the silent treatment.
Usually it’s only for an hour or two, but it went one for three days once. It
was kinda peaceful, but it likes to break my heart to be on the outs with her.
She really IS a good woman at heart, and I still love her, though I don’t think
she’s ever believed that. I used to tell her every day, but she just acted like
I was lying to her.
“There are times when I think down deep she realizes
that she’s been unfair. If it was a really minor squabble, she’ll eventually
just act like nothing has happened and go on. There are other times when she’ll
fix one of my favorite meals, or bring me some unexpected snack at my desk. I
guess it’s her way of trying to make amends without having to admit that she
was wrong. You know, though, I’d trade all those years of fine meals and treats
for just one time that she said simply, “I’m sorry, I was wrong.”
“It’s not that I want to feel that I’ve finally won
an argument, it’s just that I wish she had enough respect for me, and enough
confidence in herself to do it. I think maybe it all goes back to the rough
treatment she got as a kid, and she’s trying to avoid blame by “being perfect.”
It seems to me that would be an awful burden to bear. I suspect a lot of guys
would just stay angry at her, but I can’t do that. I do feel sorry for her,
though, because I think she puts herself through a lot of unnecessary misery”
A few days ago, I bought an eye-bolt to put in the
end of a “tongue” on my chainsaw mill-frame so I could pull it like a trailer.
I’d have liked to have gotten one large enough that I could drop it over the
1-1/2” ball on the back of my lawn tractor to pull it. Unfortunately, the
little mom & pop hardware that I went to didn’t have one that big, so I got
a smaller one, planning to use a short piece of rope to make a loop to pull
with. Today, I checked Lowe’s, just in case they had something larger. They didn’t.
The best they had was one with a 1-1/4” eye. I thought about widening the eye
to MAKE it work, but the threaded section was so short, that I was afraid it
would pull from the wood. I think it was only 5/16” stock.
At one time, the mom & pop would have had larger
sizes. At one time ANY building supply place would also have had larger sizes.
That was then, this is now. Apparently, no-one does anything anymore, and those
that do have to custom-make the things they use for their projects. It was the
same when I tried to buy some rope recently. These days, if you want something
particular, you have to order it from a specialty supply place, like timbering
and arborist supply companies.
Take axes for example. You used to be able to buy
good quality axes all over town, but very few folks use them anymore. I can
only think of one place where I can buy a good axe, and it’s at a chainsaw
dealership a few miles out of town. Crappy axes are still available at some
hardware stores and, naturally, you can buy SUPER CRAPPY ones at Walmart.
Replacement axe handles are another example. There are only two, maybe three,
places in town where you can buy them, and the quality isn’t what it SHOULD be.
You can’t buy a good scythe blade in this town to save your soul, either, OR a
The bottom line is that stores only stock what they
sell a lot of these days. It’s a financial necessity in these troubled times, I
guess. Plus, the fact that I even know how to swing an axe and a scythe makes
me a living anachronism. Even the Amish don’t use such things anymore.
Apparently, no-one uses eye-screws anymore either. In fact, I doubt if most
folks even know what they are, except for builders and country folks.
A 1940's or '50's postcard of the Harper House at Harper's Ferry. I've been to Harper's Ferry a couple times, but will never go back. The National Park Service has destroyed what was once both a fun and historic little town and turned it into a huge, boring history lesson. AND I NORMALLY LOVE HISTORY! -
I’ve probably said all I’m about to say in earlier
posts, but probably just as bits and pieces. Today, I’ll lay it ALL out.
My dad grew up when baseball, not football, was the
American game. He lettered in it in high school, and I’m sure he was in on the
action at the game shown in a photo taken on March 31st, 1946 at Ashiya
Airbase in Japan, that I posted earlier (now deleted). When I was little, I
remember him sometimes having a small game or doing some batting practice with
my older cousins and an uncle or two. When I was a little older, he’d pitch for
me as I worked to improve my horrible batting ability. If he was in the house
for some reason, and a baseball or football game was on, sometimes he’d watch
it, sometimes he wouldn’t. He NEVER passed up a chance of gathering at the
table with his family for eating in front of the TV to watch a game. Even on
holidays, he’d often go back outside after lunch and tinker on small farm
chores that got put off through the week, rather than sit and watch the game.
He WAS a little more likely to watch a game during bad weather.
When I was in school, we played the usual games in
PE, and I noticed the coaches assumed that we all knew the rules already. I
guess it’s supposed to be genetic if you’re an American. I never joined the
other teams, but I did throw the shot-put and discus in 9th grade. Amusingly
enough, a homeroom buddy and I were the school badminton champs in high school
(because he was tall and I was sneaky). I went to most of the home games in
high school, partly because I knew the boys playing, and partly because it made
for an inexpensive date for a poor country boy. After high school, I made a
slight effort to follow the boys that went to college and played on their
teams, but after they graduated college, I couldn’t have cared less about the
Though even some of my country class-mates were into
organized sports, I was into archery, hunting, fishing, camping, hiking,
horseback riding, wild foods, farming, sawmilling, old-time country ways,
history, target shooting, coin collecting, stamp collecting and trapping. You’ll
notice that most of those things have an obvious practical tie-in for a guy who
likes country life. Nearly all can be handy skills in hard times, even history,
if you’re willing to learn from it.
Now, a lot of those defending sports tell how it
fosters teamwork. Yet, even though my interests were sometimes solitary
pursuits, I’ve never had any problem with teamwork on the job. I think it’s
simply a matter of maturity. Sports ARE good exercise for folks who might
otherwise be lying around watching TV, but ONLY if THEY are the ones playing
them! THERE, is my main point. Sports should be played, not watched. If you’re
only watching someone else play a game, you need a life. Yet, sports ARE some
people’s life. They spend enough money to take their family on a week’s
vacation just to go to a big game and eat, drink, scream and cuss. Parents have
literally killed referees and parents of the opposite team at their child’s
game. “Sports fans” have literally killed gotten into arguments, and then
fights, with supporters of opposing teams and killed them. Thankfully, very few
fans are that extreme, but I’ve seen MORE than a few ready to throw punches
over a ballgame. It’s childish and it’s ridiculous.
We don’t want to admit it, but many of us are no
better than the heathens who filled the ancient coliseum, to watch gladiators
fight to the death. The guy that yells “kill the ump” is no different than the fellow
who gave the “thumbs down” at the coliseum. Football, boxing and cage fighting
are all gladiator “sports.” People are perfectly fine with the “players”
getting hurt. In fact, I believe many WANT to see that sort of thing, just like
some race fans love the crashes and some folks watch high-wire acts waiting for
someone to fall.
With all the concussions they’re discovering in football
players, I think it’s time we go to flag football. Boxers should wear helmets
and win by points, not knock-outs. Cage fighting, like dog fighting and cock
fighting, should simply be illegal. Yes the games would change, there would be
fewer concussions and other injuries in football and it would become more of a
running game, and less about bone-crushing force. Boxing fans would no longer
get the satisfaction of seeing a man lying unconscious in the ring. Maybe it’s
time we act as civilized as we like to think we are.
And then there’s the money. Some folks will jump to
the conclusion that I’m jealous, but no, I don’t mind folks who become HONESTLY
rich in business. Others will say that it’s entertainment (which it is) and
singers and movie stars make big money, which is true. But who says that they
SHOULD? Yet, we live in what remains of a free market society, so people with
warped priorities will continue to support the huge salaries of sports figures,
while sometimes lying on their couch at home, not even bothering to vote or go
to a town council meeting. (Yes, I KNOW that many of you are active, but fewer
than would want to admit it.) Some folks will point out that sports figures
only have a few prime years and that they have to make their life’s fortune
while they can. No-one can argue that point, but that is why they SUPPOSEDLY
went to college on scholarships, so they would have something to fall back on
when their glory days are over.
Like a lot of fat folks, I didn’t start out that way
(see photo at bottom of post); things just sort of crept up on me. Even during
my teen years, work on the farm and sawmill kept me reasonably trim and
muscular. My uncle had a clothing store downtown at the time, and I bought a
lot of my clothes there. His son (10-15 years older than I) worked there and
was often the one to fit me. (Remember those days, when stores had
seamstresses?) He always laughed and told me that I had a “nigger butt.” I was
wide enough in the shoulders, and less so through my stomach and hips, and
actually a bit narrow front to back through the waist. He was right about my
butt, though. Needless to say, as my belly got bigger over the years, so did my
backside. I guess that makes me better balanced, front to back, but I don’t
know if that’s a good thing.
Starting about 20 years ago, most stores quit carrying
sizes for fat guys. There was only one place left in town where I could still
get jeans and, sadly, they were made in China. I always got about three sizes
too large, so I’d have plenty of room in the seat and thighs. Then, the
manufacturer got the bright idea of cutting 8 inches of fabric from the seat
and 4 from each thigh. They no longer fit well enough to be worth buying. I
checked even larger sizes, but they keep the same seat and thigh sizes and just
blow out the waist.
SO, I found ONE place on the internet (DXL) that
stocked what was supposed to be my size. Knowingly, I STILL ordered a waist
size 6 inches larger than I should require. The jeans came in two days ago.
They SEEMED to fit at first. They didn’t give me as much room as I expected,
but standing there, they felt okay and my wife said that they looked good. They
COULD have used a couple more belt loops. It always amazes me that companies
add inches to the waist, but never add belt loops. They sure try to save money
in strange places.
Then I tried to squat to put the leash on the dog. It
might have worked if she was an Irish wolfhound, but there was no way that
those jeans were going to let me put a leash on a dachshund. Then, I went to
put my wallet in my hip pocket and there WAS none. My wife assured me that
there was, but it was clear around just at the back of my hip bone. When I went
to put my penknife and keys in my front pockets, I discovered that they, too,
were around by my hipbone, only about two inches in front of my “back” pockets.
Plus they were barely big enough to put my hand in. I guess I’ll keep them,
since the only pair of jeans I own that isn’t patched currently NEEDS patched.
I won’t be ordering any more of this type, though. I thought that it was
interesting that they were made by Wrangler, yet Wrangler’s website doesn’t
list anything beyond 6 sizes below what I ordered. If I ever get the money to
spare, maybe I’ll try their carpenter jeans, but I suspect they’ll fit even
worse. I realize that some fat guys are buttless wonders, buy I ain’t one of
My dad didn’t go into the Philippines during the
main assault, but as part of the “mop-up crew.” Their job was to bury any dead
Japanese that they came across and to root out any hold-outs hiding on the
islands. One of the first things he came across was encountered while taking a
stroll on the beach. There in the sun was a huge pile of dead Japanese, stacked
up like cordwood, awaiting a bull-dozer to excavate a mass grave. As he walked
by, he noticed the smell of the dead bodies and the flies swarming over them.
He said that a deep sadness came over him to remember that each one of the
young men lying there was some mother’s son.
They slept under shelter halves, buttoned together
at the top to make what we would call a “pup-tent.” Each tent held two men.
Several times, camps had been attacked at night by Japs running through the
camps in the darkness, stabbing their bayonets into the tents where they
thought a GI would be lying. Word soon got around to other camps, of course.
One night, Dad looked out the open end of his tent and saw a “bush” that he
didn’t remember from earlier. They were taught not to stare at something they
were unsure of, but to look away and then look back. Otherwise, the human mind
can convince itself of most anything. Not quite sure what he was seeing, he
clicked off the safety of his M1. After a few more minutes, he was convinced
everything was okay, clicked the safety back on and went to sleep. The next
morning, when he told the guard, the guard said he’d heard the safety go off
and was just waiting for all hell to break lose. Dad joked that if that bush
had moved, it would have been a very DEAD bush!
Another time, it started pouring down the rain while
they were sitting in their tents, out of the sun. They hadn’t had a shower in
days, so nearly all of them grabbed a bar of soap and quickly lathered up. Then
the rain stopped as abruptly as it had begun. Dad said that one feeling worse
than being unwashed for days on end, is being in the jungle as soap dries on
your skin. Of course, they tried to wipe off all they could, but they had
limited success. Copyright 2016
I took the Mighty Dachshund out to take care of
business yesterday morning and the first thing she did was to drop right by the
front porch and soak the place where we step up. Apparently, she was in more
dire need than I realized. She was down so long that I thought, surely, she
couldn’t have another drop in her. However, on our way over to the “dumping
ground,” she stopped, smelled a spot where I was sure that SHE hadn’t peed for
ages, dropped and marked her territory. Both before and after dealing with the
other matter, she stopped, apparently smelled some night-time interloper and
marked territory again. She obviously saves a little bit back at all times,
just in case she “needs” it!
I’ve read that dogs can decipher an amazing amount
of information from smelling the “scents posts” of other dogs. They say that
they can get a good indication of the other dog’s age, health, breeding
readiness and, of course, sex. I guess you could say, then, that a doggie
toilet is a cross between a community bulletin board, a gossip column and a
singles site. All from a few drops of pee. That’s some way to communicate. I
won’t even go into their butt-sniffing ways!
It was a nice morning, so I sat in the porch swing a
while, with her at my feet. A little tufted tit-mouse was in a white oak 30
feet away, at the edge of the woods, raising all kinds of racket. Between bursts
of chatter, it was pecking the bark looking for bugs and worms. Soon, I heard
another one about a hundred feet down in the woods, then a third, and then a
fourth. All seemed to be hunting for food, as I slowly located each one, but
they made sure that all the others knew where they were. They may have been
having actual conversations for all I know, but I don’t speak tit-mouse.
Before long, a bunch of crows invaded the woods,
also looking for food no doubt. You could tell that they were some distance
apart from one another, but staying in touch with constant chatter. That went
on for perhaps twenty minutes until they worked their way out of my hearing.
About then, a car pulled into the driveway across
the road. Soon, three women walked arm-in-arm toward the house, chattering and
laughing as they went. The two younger women were on each side of an obviously
elderly lady, so I’m sure they were being certain that she didn’t stumble. They
were having a good time as they went, though. A member of the little herd of
deer grazing about 100 feet from that house gave a warning snort and all looked
up from their dining. They decided that the ladies presented no danger, though,
and soon went back to grazing.
When Dad was at one location in the Philippines,
they had to watch showing themselves too long at a time. The Japs had a big gun
up in the mountains mounted on a short section of railroad track. Normally, the
gun was hidden either in a brush arbor or a hand-dug “cave;” I don’t remember
which. When they wanted to fire it, they’d pull the brush off the track and
roll it out. It had a range of several miles, and was high enough up in the
mountains that it could see much of the land, clear down to the seashore. There
were some forested sections and small hills, however, which did provide some
places for our troops to hide and stash their equipment.
One day, a truck stopped in too open of an area to
load some soldiers. Right after the first few got on, the Japs lobbed a shell
at the right range, but too far to one side. The soldiers kept hurriedly
climbing on the truck. A few seconds later, a second shell hit, also at the
right range, but exactly the same distance to the other side. Dad said that he
couldn’t help but laugh, despite the danger, as he watched from safety, as the men
jumped in the truck like jack-rabbits, not even worrying how they’d land
inside. The truck quickly sped away before a third shot was fired. Had they
been a couple seconds longer, the whole group would have probably been wiped
Another day, a Seabee was trying to take a dozer
across a solid rock ridge that lay between it and the big gun. Unfortunately, every
time he just topped the ridge, the cleats would lose traction and he’d spin the
tracks. Then, a shell would land nearby and he’d have to back down before the
gun could zero in on him. He’d try again soon, in another location, but it
would be the same thing. A guy in a jeep, though, drove up and over before the
gun could get off a shot. Dad said that just proved that everything has its
place. Cleats don’t work well on solid stone, but rubber does fine!
Dad was lucky to have never been on the leading edge
of the fighting. Once they learned that he could type, he spent way more time
than he wanted in Headquarters Company. Still, he made it out near the front at
times. The only time that he was actually on the front was when he was assigned
to help carry some wounded guys off a mountain the Philippines.
My service provider allows you to have up to five
email accounts. I’m not sure why most folks would need that many, but that certainly
seems generous. At one time, I actually used all five. I had my personal
account, my blog account, my “legal” account where all official stuff went and
one account each for two small LLC’s that I then had. When I closed the LLC’s,
naturally I closed those two accounts. I also used my legal account for online
ordering and such. Over the years, despite clicking on every company’s unsubscribe
option, nearly every one of them continues to spam me to this day. I even went
through the process to bar them from the account that the service provider
offers, but I either don’t know how to use it or it doesn’t work. The few times
that it did seem to work, the companies just used a different account and
spammed me anyway.
It’s gotten so ridiculous that I recently considered
closing the account altogether. I moved the three folks that I actually wanted
to communicate with to another account. Then, I had to order a pair of jeans
online, since no-one in town wants to stock clothes for blubber-butts anymore.
I KNEW that if I gave them one of my other accounts that the whole cycle would
start over again, so I gave them my “legal” account when I saw that it was a “required”
field. So, my new plans are to keep that account after all. Anytime I check it,
I just delete everything, unless I’m expecting something particular.
Life was certainly different on the base. Back home,
I had the whole house, a big garden and half the farm chores to do, it seemed.
On the base, all I had to take care of was a tiny little trailer. It was kept
spotless; you can be sure of that. I was used to working all day, so I couldn’t
just sit around. I cleaned just about everything every day. The mahogany walls
and ceiling were kept polished and the outside of the trailer washed.
Occasionally, I even took my little cookstove apart and cleaned it, including
all the screws and the holes they went into. At monthly inspection, the
sergeant always said that it was the cleanest trailer he’d ever seen. That was
why, when I finally wrestled the bed upright and found a hole underneath big
enough for an animal to crawl through, that it got fixed so quickly. The
sergeant replaced the whole floor in the bedroom and then went on to do the
whole trailer. Some of the other wives were jealous, but I never told them the
reason that I got it. I figure they’d have been offended.
Roy was thrilled to discover what a good cook I was.
I guess he figured most girls my age didn’t know their way around a kitchen,
and maybe that was so. However, I’d been cooking for a large family almost from
the time that I could stand at the kitchen stove. When we had money to spare, I’d
bake cookies and he’d have his friends and their wives over for coffee.
“Money to spare,” that was a dumb thing to say, I
guess. No military couple or family ever has money to spare. It was made worse
for me and Roy because neither of us had ever lived on our own and didn’t know
how to shop for groceries or manage our food supply. Roy had lived at home
until he entered the service, and while I knew how to cook, I never shopped for
groceries. Dad always stopped at the store on his way home from work if we
needed anything, and we always had big gardens and home-grown meat, eggs and
milk. We tended to buy too much of the wrong things and then eat it up too
soon. Before Roy’s next paycheck would arrive, we’d be living on coffee and
donuts that he’d sneak home from the mess hall, and there was precious little
I remember that a sergeant that lived close by once
bought a huge pizza, ate a couple pieces and gave the rest to use, saying that
he knew that he just couldn’t eat it all. We didn’t like pizza that well, but
we were so hungry that we didn’t care; we were thrilled. We knew, though, that
he just did it because he somehow knew that we were going hungry and wanted to
help us out. May God bless that man!
I practically owe my life to Maria, my Panamanian
friend next door, for teaching me to plan our meals ahead, buy food accordingly
and to ration everything so it would last. Things got easier after that, but
they NEVER got easy. The military doesn’t really give couples or families
enough to live on, and then they wonder why so few good men re-up. (Unless you’re
an officer, of course, then you get the best of everything.)
I grew up on a farm. My paternal grandfather had
been a rig-building contractor who’d remarked that “unions will be the
ruination of this country.” My dad didn’t feel quite so strongly about it, but
his feelings were similar. I must confess, due to their influence, my feelings
were also similar. It didn’t help any that I saw unions on strike for wages and
benefits far greater than anything we earned as farmers, even though we had to
buy some of the high-priced products that they produced.
Times changed, though. My grandfather died when I
was eight and my dad when I was 29. We’d given up regular farming by that time and
concentrated on Christmas trees and sawmilling. Nine years after Dad passed
away, lumber and Christmas tree prices both tanked, so I began looking for work
off the farm. It took a year, but I finally was hired by O. Ames Company, then
the world’s largest producer of lawn and garden tools. Lumber prices were back
up by that time, but not Christmas trees, and I was playing catch-up so badly
that I had no choice but to accept the job.
The main thing that I disliked was that it was a
union shop. If you survived 90 days of work there (many quit), you
automatically became a member of United Steel Workers of America Local 1651. I
wasn’t all that pleased, but I had to work. Interestingly enough, I had already
begun to see why the union existed. You had no protection from the union those
first 90 days, so the company really took advantage of their new hires. People
were asked to do things that wouldn’t have been allowed for a union man, and
they worked us a ridiculous amount of overtime. All we could do was work,
sleep, eat and go back to work. The first thing I did, once I was sworn into
the union, was to turn down about half of the overtime that I was offered.
Now, I’ve always been one to take the bull by the
horns, so I figured that if I had to be in a union, I wanted to know what was
going on and I wanted to have my say. The first year, I don’t think that I
missed a single monthly meeting. They had one meeting for first shift, and one
for second (afternoons), which I worked. I only went to the one for afternoon
shift, of course. At about the one year point, the president of the local came
to me and asked me to be shop steward on second shift. Apparently, none of the
older guys would accept the job. I guess they had better sense. It didn’t pay
anything, involved a lot of paperwork and required a high tolerance for temperamental
people on both sides. The president warned me that by the time that I left the
position that I wouldn’t have any friends in the company OR the union. I laughed
and told him that was okay, I didn’t have any friends the way it was.
The position was certainly an eye-opener. I would
never have dreamed how petty, immature, hot tempered, and/or whiny some of my
coworkers could be, especially the “veterans.” Nor could I believe all the
stunts the company tried to pull, especially a couple of the foremen. It did
keep me busier than I liked, but I certainly learned what was happening on
It wasn’t exactly true that I’d leave the position
with no friends. I didn’t really do much to irritate the higher-ups. Plus, the
second shift supervisor was a fellow Christian, so we didn’t give each other
any unnecessary grief. A couple of the foremen thought I was a jerk, but they
were always trying to do things that weren’t allowed in the contract. A handful
of veterans considered me a company s_ck, since I would also remind them that
they had to honor the contract the same as the company. Some folks always think
Something that amused me was the union elections.
The things that people would do to one another and the things that they would say
about their coworkers amazed me. You would have thought that they were
for president of the United States, not for an office in a piddly little union
local. There was corruption right in our own local. There was even more on the
state and national levels. As we were losing our jobs, we had several thousand
dollars in our local’s bank account that we wanted to donate to local charities,
but the powers-that-be wouldn’t allow it. Interestingly enough, we could have
had a big party and spent the money on booze and hookers and they wouldn’t have
cared a bit. That was how they rolled.
Contracts were interesting, too. The first two years
after a three year contract went into effect, the company would brag to the
high heavens about how great our productivity was and how much money they were
making. Contract year, though, they twisted and massaged the numbers to make it
look like they were losing their shirts. Once the contract was settled, they returned
to bragging all over again.
I remember in one of the meetings they had with the
workers before contract negotiations, that one of the brass was whining about
the fact that they paid us more than their non-union plant in Pennsylvania. I
stood up and asked if their production per man-hour wasn’t only about 2/3 of
ours, while their wages were ¾ of ours. He admitted that was true. So I asked
if, based on man-hour production, were we not underpaid compared to the Pennsylvania
plant. He hemmed and hawed and finally admitted that someone could look at it
that way. As I sat down, I heard him whisper to the guy next to him, “Who was
I worked there 11 years and 9 months; I was a shop
steward about ten of those years. What I learned was that nearly every company
that had a union, DESERVED that union, due to the mistreatment of their
employees. The local companies that treated their workers well managed to stay
non-union. Ames had a history of conflict; their strikes in the old days were
famous. By the time I got there, times were changing and the union couldn’t
make the demands that it once did, even to keep up with inflation.
The chains in the basement where convict workers
slept during WWII were still there. They probably volunteered to be there, but
you can be sure that Ames profited immensely from their presence. I truly
believe that had slavery still been legal, Ames would have had slaves, and
color wouldn’t have mattered.