Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Pleasant Memories

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Looks like they weren't too pleasant for one individual!

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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Pistol-Packin' Papaw

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Today I got my training for concealed carry. The instructor focused mostly on safety, rather than trying to turn us into effective gun-fighters. That was fine by me. The next step will be to take $100 down to the sheriff's office for a background check. I guess I'll learn then whether Obama's DHS has labeled me as a terrorist for being a conservative former republican, that supports the Constitution, the Second Amendment and the rest of the Bill of Rights, believes that Jesus is Lord, and says so in no uncertain terms two different places online. I may also learn if the sheriff still considers me a mortal enemy for opposing some of his actions in the local newspaper a few years ago. Time will tell.
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Friday, April 26, 2013

A Skunk-Cabbage By Any Other Name

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I have been blessed to meet some very interesting folks on my travels through life, but there are a few with whom I wouldn’t want to share a home. One was a fellow from the mountains of West Virginia who lived “in” a one-room cabin with a couple hounds. Jack had been a professional man with a Master’s Degree when his wife divorced him and took everything he had, and then got a sizeable alimony besides. He quit his job, built a cabin on the property of a friend and told his ex to sue and prosecute for all she was worth; jail would just mean free room and board for him. He literally lived off the land. All year round, he slept on a big wooden plank on the front porch of that cabin, even in sub-zero weather. Wool blankets and a couple good dogs kept him warm he said. Surprisingly, he never smelled like dog when he came to town, but it was obvious that he didn’t use deodorant. He’d hitch a ride with a friend, all the way from the mountains to the muzzle-loader shop by the Ohio River, where I worked at the time. That friend must have had no olfactory senses left, is all I can say.

Now Ed, another memorable fellow, lived in nearby Salzburg, and I met him while I was working a stint at a feed store downtown. He was as friendly and talkative a guy as you’d ever meet, but he was also the single most odiferous fellow that I’ve encountered during my nearly six decades on this earth. You see, he dearly loved coon dogs and coon hunting. Naturally, he also tended to enjoy the company of other coon hunters. Sadly, many of those coon hunters were married to women that didn’t seem to appreciate the finer things in life, like the sound of a pack of hounds howling in the back yard when they were getting impatient to be on the trail (or if the golden retriever next door happened to be “in season.”) As a result, many of them sought an individual with enough patience and room to board their dogs for them.

Enter the Ed. He was just past retirement age, so he had the time to fool with dogs. His wife had left him years earlier for some strange reason, plus he had a double lot in the middle of a quiet bedroom area of Salzburg. To say that he didn’t smell like a hound himself would be understandably false, since he hugged and petted each dog at feeding time to keep them friendly. (For those who don’t know, hounds have a smell totally unlike the long-haired breeds.) He paid no attention to his high-falutin neighbors when they complained about the smell, or about the noise that 28 hounds could make when they took a notion. UNTIL the city came by and wrote him a ticket for running a kennel without a permit, that is. It turned out that no zoning laws were broken, though, so he got a kennel permit and happily kept the hounds. By the time the neighbors got their wishes incorporated into the city zoning laws, the old fellow was grandfathered in.

He told me all about it one day while standing on the loading dock at the feed store, when he’d come to get his monthly pick-up load of dog food. I stood upwind from him, of course. Even then, I don’t think I fully realized the strength of his “presence” until he’d been gone for about a half-hour one day. I’d spent most of the time since his farewell in the sales office. When I walked back into the warehouse, all three of the 10x10 freight doors were open on the windward side, plus the man door. On the leeward side, a 10x12 freight door was open, plus a man door. Yet, his presence still lingered on. Now THAT’S staying power!

I liked both of these fellows, and you know, I don’t think they will ever fade from my memory. They both simply had an unforgettable air about them. © 2013

Read about Skunk-Cabbage HERE!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Custom Rifling Options

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I used to attend the Stonewall Jackson Jubilee each year. When I could, I'd spend a few minutes talking to an elderly muzzle-loading rifle builder that always set up his display inside the back end of the livestock barn there. He had a slightly derogatory nick-name which he'd earned honestly and embraced quite openly. He usually wore buckskins or bib-overalls, had a long grey and white beard and was always willing to talk.

He rifled his barrels the old-fashioned way - hand-cut on a rifling jig. He specialized in ratchet rifling and sang its praises loud and long. (They may have been progressive (gain twist), too, but then again, maybe my aging mind is grafting two old men into one memory.) His rifles were supposed to be good shooters, from what I've heard. I have to wonder though; was it because of the type of rifling, or simply good workmanship? I'll never know, I guess, since I could never afford one of his rifles. The show isn't what it used to be and he may now be dead, for all I know. He was an interesting fellow, though. © 2013
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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

(Almost) No Greens For Me!

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The last time that I had a mess of wild greens was when my mother cooked some lambs-quarter 30-some years ago. My wife doesn’t know her plants well enough to feel safe picking them, and considers me too stupid to be trusted, so that pretty much settled that. Today, though, I decided I was going to pick some and cook them myself. What a joke!

Yesterday, I noticed where some individual plants were, as well as a few little patches of edible plants. That was yesterday. The deer were hungry last night, apparently. The young dock plants were completely gone, as were the coltsfoot plants. It took me over half-an-hour to cover my half-acre lawn, plus 100 yards of logging road and get enough greens for ONE serving for ONE person (about four inches in one end of a bread bag). That was comprised mostly of dandelion and violet leaves, with a few winter-cress, three dock leaves, a few of clover, a few plantain leaves, a few small day-lily leaves, and one small clump of wild onions.

I washed the little granite-ware stew pot that I got the other day and then used it to give the greens a good rinsing. After pouring the water out, I put enough clean water back in to cover them well and started heating them on the gas stove. My wife went off to the other end of the house screaming like a banshee that I would forever ruin her stove and her kitchen. After boiling the greens at an easy boil for ten minutes, I poured the water off, sat my porcelain dish under hot, running water for a minute to warm it up, and then emptied the greens into the dish. There was only about a cup, after cooking. I put in TWO pats of real butter and a dash of salt and stirred until the butter was melted.

I must say that they didn’t taste bad. Of course the butter and salt helped, but they didn’t have the grassy flavor I was thinking they might. While I could smell the wild onions as they cooked, I didn’t taste them at all in the final product. Guess I can add a little more next time. If there IS a next time! The deer make it hard to have anything around here. They’re supposed to dislike forsythia and irises, but they’re eating MINE! I’d probably find more wild greens growing in sidewalk cracks in town than out here.

Afterwards, I washed and dried my stew-pot, plus dried up any errant drops of water and the kitchen looked spotless. After she took a nap, my wife apparently decided that we were still on speaking terms and pretended like nothing happened. I guess I really SHOULD make a hobo stove or something and cook outside the next time just for the heck of it. I haven’t made one of them for 20 years! DARN, I’m getting old! © 2013
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Monday, April 22, 2013

Semi-Disconnected Observations

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It was three fingers ‘til sundown (about 45 minutes) when I sat down in the porch swing a few days ago, our little dog at my feet. It was a fairly warm evening and she and I both were glad for a chance to be outside. She’d already watered the grass and fertilized a white pine, so she was ready to just lay there and sniff the breeze for interesting odors. Across the road, behind the empty vacation home of a North Carolina couple, a gobbler was sounding off. I usually hear them more of a morning, as they announce their presence to the world, instead of an evening. Maybe he had some company that he was trying to impress.
A backing breeze was blowing, adding a touch of coolness to the otherwise warm evening, and giving observant folks a warning of foul weather to come. It’s funny how a breeze from the east (in my area) often warns of bad weather coming from the west. We rarely realize all the levels of wind above us. I remember lying on my back many years ago, gazing at the light clouds in a fairly bright sky. I was amused at the number of clouds passing one another in different directions and started keeping track of the different levels. After a few minutes, I’d counted seven different directions of wind, moving wispy clouds along, one layer above another.
Judging from her vibrating sides, the dog appears at first to be panting, but her mouth is closed, so I know that she’s sniffing instead. Not having her keen nose, I can only use my ears and eyes. A mockingbird sings one song after another in the white pines out by the road. A lone crow stalks bugs in the front yard. For a moment, I wonder where its mate is, finally deciding that it’s probably on a nest nearby. They’ve been traveling by two’s lately, rather than the usual three’s and four’s. I took that as a sign that they were getting ready to nest. I haven’t heard any young crows yet, though.
Earlier, I’d noticed dandelion, day lily, violet, plantain, winter-cress and dock plants still usable for greens. Sitting here in the swing, I spot a little patch of violets with large, but tender-looking leaves, that haven’t bloomed yet. I haven’t picked any wild greens for ages, but I got a little cooking pot the other day, so I’m thinking of picking a mess.
The following evening, it was only two fingers ‘til sundown when I sat down with the dog again. It wasn’t as warm that evening and the backing breeze still threatened bad weather coming. It had a distinct chill to it that evening. The weather men were predicting storms after midnight. A group of five blue-jays flew from the nearest white oak on the south side of the house to the white pines along the road that borders the east side of our lawn. I wonder if it’s possible for a jay to travel quietly; I don’t think I’ve ever seen it. They remind me of some families that I see in public, fussing and bickering every inch of their travels. From where I sit, I can see a handful of quaking aspen lying on the forest floor straight ahead and over the brink of the hill to the north. I should use them if I ever get started building my hugelkultur mound for a milkweed patch. Until then, I should check to see if any morels are growing near them. You rarely see morels around here anymore, though, due to the out-of-control deer herd in the state. I’ll resist the urge to start DNR bashing.
The storms never materialized, thankfully, but we did get a little rain from the system, though not what we needed. I notice that since the rain, the leaves are out enough that you can’t really see into the woods. Turkey season started here today, so things are about the same as every other year, despite any weather differences.
A couple days ago, I finally went against my wife’s wishes and put a hasp and padlock on the basement door, so I could get into it from the outside. Previously, there were bolt latches on the inside, but nothing on the outside, to make it harder for burglars to get in. Unfortunately, we have a storage area shortage in our house, aggravated by having entirely too much “stuff.” As a result, the door to the basement usually is blocked by my wife’s exercise machine and her DVD collection. Naturally, whenever I wanted to get to my tools, she had to move her stuff and we fussed. I assured her that I installed the hasp in such a way that it would still take a very determined man with an eight pound sledge to get through the basement door. I’ll probably go ahead and put a keyed dead-bolt lock on it as well. That should ease her mind even more. It’s certainly nice to be able to get to my tools again!
I had the dog outside just before typing this up, and it looks like if I don’t pick the winter-cress soon, there won’t be any left that isn’t too far along. My wife will probably think that I picked it from amongst the dog pucky and won’t eat it. I’ll just let her believe what she wants; the more for me! Now, where’s the bread bag I saved for the task? © 2013
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Saturday, April 20, 2013

REPENT! THE WORLD ENDED YESTERDAY!

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As a smart-alec teenager, anytime I saw some spaced-out hippie or unwashed, self-proclaimed prophet carrying a sign that said the world would end “tomorrow,” I thought it would be amusing to walk behind him and carry a sign with the words above. After all, the same sign seemed to be used the next day, and the next, and the next, et cetera. I understood that there were a few rare spiritual folks with legitimate reasons for similar warnings, but they were as scarce as the proverbial hen’s teeth. Most were just kooks. Still, I knew that this world as we know it WOULD end someday, and that there would be one day in all of history when even those kooks would be correct. The Old Testament prophets were mostly ridiculed or ignored, so I guess those well-meaning goof-balls of yesteryear were in good company.

I’m still a bit of a smart-alec, but I’m certainly no teenager. Yet, the sign I thought would be amusing all those years ago, would be very true today, in my not so humble opinion. I’ve read Revelation, so I know how the story ends. Still, not everyone agrees on the details. While the term “rapture” is used nowhere in the Bible, that event, call it what you will, is foretold by God. The way I understand the scriptures, the rapture comes BEFORE the tribulation. Some others believe at the mid-point, others at the end. Regardless, we’re only talking about a seven-year difference. The things that happen during that seven years, however, create a virtual hell on earth. I refuse to worry about it on a personal level, since the Lord “has my back” (soul, actually) either way. I DO worry about the unsaved, especially those in my family and my wife’s family. All I can do is pray for them, though, as most of them don’t want to discuss it.

When I remember the horrors foretold during those seven years, then look around at our world, I see the pieces falling into place. Things have been moving this way for a long time. The earliest that I can personally vouch for is the continuing, though fruitless, “War on Poverty,” the theft of Social Security funds, and the 1968 Gun Control Act, all done under the leadership of Lyndon Johnson. Every president since that time has contributed in some way to the readying of our nation for the tribulation. The democrats generally did the most, but the republicans did no small amount of such work, either, especially the second Bush. The current president, however, has done more than all the rest of them put together. Previous presidents have, collectively, been doing the equivalent of getting our roller–coaster car to the top of the main peak. Obama is taking us down the dizzying descent to the very bottom. Once there, we’ll soon meet the anti-Christ, I believe.

The world as we know it DID end yesterday, or SOME yesterday in the past. I told my wife on the day the planes slammed into the towers that we were seeing the beginning of the end. I said that not because I was fearful of being killed by muslims, but because our nation had deteriorated so far that such a thing could even happen in the first place. Our parent’s America is gone, never to rise again. We are ruled by idiots and little Napoleons. And we are RULED at this point, NOT governed, resist though we will.

I TRULY believe that the end is near. Yes, I know people have been saying that for nearly 2000 years, but never have so many pieces of the puzzle been in place. If you haven’t accepted Jesus as your savior, you better hop to it if you don’t want to spend eternity with the likes of Attila, Nero, Hitler, Mao, Stalin, Mohammad, and Obama and their henchmen. It’s only going to get worse; see to it that you’ll be among the least likely to suffer through the worst time in the history of the earth. Jesus died on the cross so you wouldn’t HAVE to suffer the fires of hell. He loves you THAT much! Give your life to HIM and plead with your loved ones to do the same. Tomorrow may be forever too late! © 2013
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Sunday, April 14, 2013

Defying The Laws Of Nature

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Katrina reminded us a few years ago about the wisdom (or lack thereof) of trying to live below sea-level. Already, the lesson seems forgotten, if it was ever learned in the first place. Just because we don't like the laws of gravity and hydraulics doesn't mean that we can ignore them without penalty. The guru sent me a couple maps a while back showing that the flooded areas in New York from Hurricane Sandy were all filled ground. I would have included those maps in this post, but they wouldn't download.

High ground that previously existed on the island had been demolished to provide fill for the low ground. Whether that "new land" sunk over the years, or if they simply stopped filling too soon, thinking that it was "good enough," may never be told, but obviously, they needed more fill. Even the former high ground would probably be vulnerable to a tidal-wave (tsunami, if you prefer the word of the moment), since it had been destroyed for “progress.” Also, they built an underground rail system on low ground, and had a hundred years to think about putting a method in place to seal the entrances and exits, but never did. I guess that’s what we get for letting the “experts” and politicians run things.

Another thing that amazes me is that not only are people allowed to rebuild where water has swept their home away, they are actually ENCOURAGED to do so by government-subsidized flood insurance that you and I are paying for. As a result, not only are poor folks with a plot of low ground rebuilding in the same flood plain, but rich folks are building vacation homes at the very edge of the ocean, and then rebuilding WITH OUR MONEY when the first one washes away. (And the second,…and the third,…and…)

The bottom line is that I don’t believe in government subsidized insurance. I can’t afford simple home-owners for my home, so I’m living without it. No-one is going to help me if my house burns down or is blown away by some freak hill-country tornado (we’ve had a few nearby). Why should my tax dollars go to rebuild a rich guy’s vacation home when I can’t even afford to insure my primary (and only) residence?

If we ARE going to have subsidized flood insurance, I think it should only be good for one rebuild ABOVE any normal flood plain. The original tract of land should be included in the settlement (at a fair price), and then go to the natural resources department of that state. It’s time that we let floodplains return to nature anyway; they might even provide buffer-zones against some of our stream pollution problems. To do otherwise continues to invite loss of property and loss of life. © 2013
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Friday, April 12, 2013

The Rip-Off Of Traffic Tickets

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It looks like not wearing a seat belt will soon be a primary offense here in West Virginia, meaning that the cops can stop and ticket you for that reason alone. Considering that it doesn’t generally affect the safety of others, except on rare occasions, I don’t think that it should even be a secondary offense. Understand, I’m not AGAINST wearing seatbelts; I just don’t think it’s the government’s business to be forcing us to do it. Despite the percentages being in favor of seatbelt wearers, I’ve spoken personally to several folks over the years that would NOT be alive today had their seatbelts been fastened. Two of them were truckers whose steering columns punctured completely through the backs of their seats. Needless to say, the “safety” people aren’t about to tell you about those times.

Of course, they SAY it’s all about safety, but most bureaucrats and politicians don’t give a rat’s backside about safety. All they really care about is control and money. I’ve heard that the feds are only going to give the state one million dollars for passing the bill. I think our legislators are selling our freedoms very cheaply at that price. What they’re REALLY after is that innocent sounding thing called “court costs.” Many traffic tickets in this state are only about $25. The court costs, however, are usually around $200! Now, you can’t convince me that it costs anywhere NEAR that much to process a little paperwork! If we’re going to rip off the citizenry, let’s be at least a LITTLE bit honest and call the ticket $200 and the court costs $25. Oops, that might affect which corrupt bureaucracy gets which funds; wouldn’t it?

I’ve got an idea! If it really runs that much for court costs, let’s leave the tickets at $25 and CONTRACT OUT the paper processing to a private company. I’m betting they could do it for under $50. Think of all the money that would free-up to feed the homeless! OOPS. That would mean sharing it with some OTHER corrupt bureaucracy; wouldn’t it? © 2013
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A Be-Addled Sort Of Day

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I meant to get up a bit earlier and get the winter treads off my truck this morning. My wife decided to go with me, though, and by the time we both made ourselves presentable, we decided to have a late breakfast at Bob Evans. Since the old man died, it seems the quality has gone down and the prices have gone up. We won’t be going back for a while.

When we got to the tire dealer, I decided to store the winter treads for next winter instead of retiring them to the tater patch. I’ve got a new set of studded tires already in storage there, but they’ll hold okay. I looked around the lot and found a small handful of wheel weights in the cracks of the concrete. Probably enough for a dozen balls for my muzzleloader. I recently managed to get a .500 mold for my .54 smooth-bore rifle, so I won’t be buying the lead balls for it anymore. I went with a smoothbore so I could feed it lead, ball-bearings or even bolts if things got desperate. Also, it can serve as a 28 gauge shotgun. The only thing that would make it a better survival gun would be if it was a flintlock.

The truck ran SO much quieter when I left the tire shop. Not only are my winter treads studded, but they also have rough tread and are TEN PLY. The smooth six-ply summer treads are MUCH quieter on the pavement, and ride smoother besides.

I went to Wally World afterward to see if they’d found my phone where I’d left it on the toilet-paper dispenser in the bathroom yesterday. AMAZINGLY, someone had actually turned it in instead of stealing it. I was very thankful, since I’d given that number out on several job applications.

I then called and got an appointment tomorrow to get the air-conditioner fixed on my truck. They surely had a cancellation for me to get in that soon. My wife then called her brother to come out and put Freon (or whatever they use these days) in our home unit. She found out that he had to put down his dog of fifteen years today. He was already half-dead from a horrible cold and working too long of hours, and now he’s upset over his dog. Of course, THAT got my wife upset.

When we came home, she finally worked up nerve enough to have me read the information about how our two youngest granddaughters had basically been living ill-fed and ill-cared for with their mother in what is basically a crack-house. That REALLY upset her. At six and 14, they’ve become fairly adept at looking after one another, but thankfully, they’re currently living with my stepson and doing very well. Until the mother can pass a urine test, there won’t even BE any custody hearings. We’re praying he’ll get full custody when that does occur. Your continued prayers are solicited. © 2013
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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Lazy Day And No Thoughts Of Importance

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I finally got brave and bought a couple things on eBay this week. Last night, I even figured out how to sell there and put up my first item for sale. Budd, at The Lazy Farmer, was kind enough to start the bidding. I’m sure it was just to be charitable, but it’s appreciated. He was the first to do a shout-out about my blog when I was just starting, so he’s sort of high on my “good guy” list.

Also last night, I got a friend request from an attractive and obviously buxom young woman who knew a couple of my followers. It was with some doubt that I went ahead and confirmed it. This morning, I had a message from her asking what I looked for in a girl and requesting my number so she could text me. Now I don’t fault her reasons for being on Facebook, after all, she’s young and apparently single. I resisted the urge to tell her that I’m 57 years old, married for 30 years, weigh 400 pounds, don’t text, and am not looking for a girl. However, it seemed simpler just to unceremoniously unfriend her. Of course, that “buxom young woman” could actually be a middle-aged Nigerian dude on a phishing expedition. Better safe than sorry on either count.

I slept with the window open and the fan on last night for the first time this year. It was in the 80’s here yesterday, and is supposed to get up to 88 today. Interestingly enough, neither the house air-conditioner, nor the one in the truck is working. It looks like I’ve got a couple phone calls to make.

Our drive-way is only 200 feet long, but for a pudgy little short-legged dog, out and back a couple times is enough to get her bowels percolating. I sat in the porch swing after walking her, and she lay on the cool concrete at my feet and sniffed the air. There’s a stiff breeze going today as storms approach from the plains but, for now, that breeze feels really good.

We’re lazing around today, waiting to get our youngest granddaughter at 3:30. We did the same yesterday, but with little notice, so we were somewhat wore-down before we got her. We love having her, but a six-year-old is pretty good at helping you realize how old you are. We had a day’s notice THIS time, however, so we’re planning our day around HER and saving our energy for the same. We’ll probably take her to Walmart, since our air-conditioner is on the fritz. We’ll have a good time! © 2013
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Monday, April 8, 2013

Sticker Shock And Aggravation

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I was very blessed to grow up on a West Virginia hill farm and in a loving family that had an old manual sawmill. My father loved the field and the forest, so it’s not surprising that I do, too. Unlike most of today’s fathers, my dad taught me all he could about what it took to make a living the only way he knew how. As a result, I sometimes joke that even though I may not really understand modern technology, if you ever need to get a tree bucked into the highest grade logs, or get some firewood split, I’m your man.

I still have nearly a hundred acres of woodland behind my house. For understandable reasons, then, using wood plays a big part of my SHTF plans. I figure I can get a lot of my needs from the woods and trade some of the excess to others. That means I’ll need to keep my tools sharp. THAT means that I better have a small stockpile of files. So, I went out to the chainsaw dealer where I used to spend so much of my time and money to buy a box of a dozen files to set back, even though I still have several. It turns out that his supplier doesn’t stock dozen boxes anymore, but “three-packs.” Two three-packs cost me what a box of a dozen did the last time I bought any.

Next, I went to the last remaining decent hardware store in town to get a box of a dozen 8 inch mill bastards (a type of flat file). They only had singles in cardboard and shrink-wrap. I decided to look online for dozen quantities instead, though I haven’t looked yet. I also needed a square taper file for a small project, but I knew the answer before I even asked. So, I ended up paying as much for one 6 inch slim-taper triangular file as I used to pay for a dozen box.

Times have certainly changed. I guess stockpiling some files will take longer and cost more than I thought. © 2013
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Tuesday, April 2, 2013

And Away We Go!

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Bill’s wife, Annie, said that her father learned to drive sort of late in life. She remembers going to town by horse and wagon, when she was little. He always kept horses to work the farm, but sometime after World War II, he bought a car and had a worthless brother that lived with him chauffeur him and the family around. Finally, after failing the test a couple times, he got his license, but he still had a tendency to pull back on the steering wheel and holler “whoa” when he wanted to stop.

Once he had his license, he insisted on taking his wife and seven kids on a two week vacation every summer. Annie said that crossing mountains with him was more exciting than any carnival ride yet invented. Her most memorable experience with his driving, though, happened on the way to church one Sunday.

The family lived on a high hill a couple miles from the north side of town, while their church was on the far edge of the south side of town. Their long journey began by driving down a gravel road in the hollow behind their house and turning right on the brick county road toward town. Just before getting to town, there was a golf course on the left preceded by a two-story white farm house. A gravel road turned left just before reaching the house, and between the house and the gravel road was a patch of huge, healthy-looking tomato plants.

Annie’s dad meant to make the turn a little slower, but he’d gotten no response back on the pavement when he’d pulled back on the steering wheel. By the time he remembered to hit the brakes, he was already slipping sideways a bit on the gravel road. The brakes just made it worse. When he got stopped, the car was sitting in the edge of the tomato patch, and four hills lay flattened beneath the car. The old couple that lived there had been sitting on their porch watching the whole episode.

Normally as honest as the day was long, Annie’s dad was so embarrassed that all he managed to do was yell “sorry,” back the car onto the road, and continue on his way. The rest of the family was laughing their heads off. © 2013
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Monday, April 1, 2013

A “Tie” To The Past

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I could cut a dashing figure at one time. I sort of enjoyed dressing up in my younger days. I wasn’t the best at coordinating things, but with the help of female friends and family, I didn’t do badly. Plus, some of my clothes, I bought from a cousin that had a clothing store and he had a good eye for color and knew what was in style far better than I did. Between them all, I had a limited, but good-looking wardrobe.

Times have changed, and so have I. Now that I’m old and arthritic, I go for what feels good on my over-weight, achy old body. I wear blue-jeans, colored tee-shirts and a pair of L.L. Bean camp mocs as my “uniform” of laid-back lifestyle. I don’t own a single pair of slacks. I DO have a very expensive wool suit that I wore only a handful of times before outgrowing it. I have a couple dress shirts, two ties and a couple pair of dress socks to go with it. I need to find someone who can use the suit so that it won’t go to waste by just taking up space in my closet. One of the ties is a cheap but attractive polyester wonder that looks like silk, but feels like barbed-wire. The other is an expensive silk tie that even at half-off cost five times what the polyester one did. I’m tempted to keep that one.

I had to ask myself why I desired to keep something that I would probably never use. It took me a while to figure it out. It takes me back. The beautiful colors and slippery texture remind me of the ties that used to hang in Dad’s closet. He probably had two or three dozen or so big, wide silk ties. They were out of style when I was little—temporarily replaced by skinny little fabric bits of nothingness. Still, he chose to leave those silken beauties in the closet and use the clip-on, barely belt-width strips of polyester then popular. Looking back, I sort of wish that he’d stuck his thumb in the eye of “style” and wore those classy old ties to his heart’s content.

I remember having a certain fascination with those ties when I was little. Sometimes, when he’d left his closet door open, I’d take a good look at the ties and feel the smoothness of the silk. Some were big, flowery prints, some were simple stripes, and a few were variations of paisley. Quite a few, though, were beautiful scenes of Pacific islands, perhaps bought in memory of his time spent there during World War II. Those were my favorites. He lived long enough to see wide ties come back in style for a while. He’d wink and quote the old saying, “All things old are new again.” He didn’t wear the ones with the island scenes, though; I guess he figured that their time was gone.

A few years after Dad passed away, Mom asked if I wanted the ties. Wistfully, I thought of my limited storage and declined. She gave them to the Salvation Army, where I’m sure they were probably bundled up and sold as rags. I wish now that I’d kept them. If nothing else, they’d have made a nice wall-hanging for the bedroom! So, do I keep the one tie as reminder of the old days, or just in case I should need a tie one more time before I croak? That sounds silly when I put it on paper. I can recall Dad’s beautiful ties without a prompt for my memory. Plus, if I’m ever so insane as to be tempted to wear a monkey suit again, I can just have my wife shoot me. © 2013
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