Saturday, August 31, 2013

This One's For You, Vlad!

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One of my readers got upset the other day when I linked an article that contained some worthwhile information, but also had a paragraph of childish, selfish, hate-filled, anti-capitalism and pro-communist bull sh_t. I fully understand his concern. It got me to thinking about how I would describe communism in a nutshell. The average proponent of communism HAS NEVER LIVED UNDER IT, and thus is ignorant of how it really plays out, and of the horrors that it perpetrates on the people who are forced to live under it. Knowing that American schools mostly turn out idiots these days, I knew it had to be dumbed-down for many of those under 40 to be able to understand (not that they're actually READING anything anyway). As a result, I came up with the definition of communism below:

"Communism - an oppressive, atheistic form of government proposed by jealous, small-minded people who are too lazy to work for a living, and are too cowardly to do their own stealing."


It's a somewhat juvenile definition, but remember that I wanted to make it understandable to those educated in the last quarter-century or so. © 2013
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Friday, August 30, 2013

Another Hair-Brained Conspiracy Theory (Mine)

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I really, deeply, sincerely, overwhelmingly hope that I’m completely off-base here. However, after watching people all my life, reading a lot of what goes on BEHIND the scenes, and becoming a complete pessimist in the process, I’m not thinking many rosy thoughts about America’s future.

For the last few years, many articles that I’ve read have predicted SOMETHING big will happen around 2012-2013. Some of the articles have been looking at things from a financial perspective. Some were from a political view. Others were from a military angle. Yet, ALL pointed to this time period. Obviously, something big DID happen when the majority of American voters proved their gross immorality and utter insanity by re-electing Barrack Obama (or whatever his name really is) to the presidency. The worst is yet to come, I fear.

Most knowledgeable people accept the fact that the world is actually ruled by a large handful of extremely wealthy people, mostly bankers, NOT the figureheads that we citizens elect to “represent” us. Money is power, and money is produced for the elite by either simple market manipulation or by war against nations that attempt any sort of independence from domination by “the powers that be.” The last I heard, there were only three nations in the world that were still free of their control. I remember that Iran is one of those countries. I think that North Korea is another. I don’t remember the third. This information came from multiple sources, but not recently, and I make no claims as to the dependability of those sources.

Here’s what I think I see playing out. The West wants to sack Iran, but hasn’t yet had the courage. It appears that there is no proof the Syrian government used chemical weapons recently, and that it may have been the REBELS who actually gassed their fellow citizens, hoping to incite trouble with the West. However, a war with Syria would draw Iran into a war with the U.S., and maybe other nations. A victory against Iran would soon give the Rothschild’s and other such bankers their foot in the door. The A-rabs at large have promised retaliation against US and ISRAEL if we enter the fray. An attack on Israel would make Obama very happy, since he’s a typical muslim. Muslim retaliation, or even the threat of such, would also give Obama an excuse to declare martial law, making him the dictator that he so desires to be.

The Constitution would be useless; the population would be legally helpless. Civil war COULD result, or at least sporadic rioting. Obama would then take away our remaining firearms “for our safety.” It would be an excuse to use the United Nations troops (that are ALREADY in our country) against American citizens. The combination of the castration and “muslimization” of our military would make them useless in defense of our citizens. There might never be free elections in this nation again.

Never ones to waste an opportunity, the Chinese and Russians have vowed dire consequences if we go to war with Syria OR Iran. Russia would instantly be at war with us. China, who the government has already admitted can shut down our grid through hacking, may do so. Since they also own most of the bad paper that the U.S. has been selling as government securities and bonds, they would cash in all mature bonds, crashing our economy, and leaving the dollar utterly worthless, even to us. The banks would probably close, making access to any residual value unreachable anyway. There would be people starving within days. Violence would soon rule the land, because we are a nation that has largely lost its morals. Even cannibalism is a possibility. THEN, the Chinese might make war with us, too.

Ideally, NONE of this will ever happen. Then again, some folks are saying that we are within weeks of this happening. Only GOD knows.And THERE, ladies and gentlemen, is your only hope. If you are to escape the tribulation and Armageddon, it can be ONLY through accepting Jesus as your savior and trusting in HIM for your protection. Even then, we may still die an earthly death, but the consequences will be downright heavenly. Or, if you prefer, you can believe in hope, change, Kool-Aid and unicorns. © 2013

For a little light reading, check out the links below:



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Thursday, August 29, 2013

Accidental Prepping And Getting Old

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Yesterday, I was looking through boxes in my bedroom for one particularly saleable item to gain a little extra cash for the weekend. I didn’t find what I was looking for, but I DID find two three-inch magnifying glasses, a multi-tool that I forgot I had and a small abacus. The abacus can go with a few other small items I came across and be put in a yard sale if we ever have one. The neighbor-lady would like for us to have one when she does, so she can draw more people. We may oblige her. The magnifying glasses will go in a couple preparedness kits (for starting fires and looking at splinters), and the multi-tool will go in a kit, too. Basically, I have one for the truck and one for the house. Since a have a basement full of tools, and some extra food laid back, it’s not so much that I need a kit here, but that I want to have something portable, ready either for a back-up, or to give a family member if needed.

We’ve decided to sell our beautiful Amish-made oak bed and night stands. We hate to part with it, but we haven’t used it for years and it’s just collecting dust. I’m sure we’ll only get about a third of what we paid for it, but since I’m not working yet, the money will come in handy.

I’ve sold a few small heirlooms this summer to help make life easier. As I’ve said before, I have no-one to pass most of my stuff down to, and I figure if my mind lasts, I’ll always have the memories of the people those keepsakes represent. If my mind DOESN’T hold out in my old age, the keepsakes might not be enough to jog my memory anyway.

I’ve been cleaning out my desk drawer today. Its contents have begun to overflow the drawer, in part due to the fact that my wife’s way of cleaning my desk is to put everything in the drawer. To be fair, thought, I’ve stuffed a lot of things in there myself, when unsure what to do with odd-ball items. Its contents are being sorted into the categories of “keep in drawer,” “move to basement or prep kit,” “sell” or “throw completely away.” There were SIX folding knives in the drawer. One will be sold, two will go in prep kits, two will go to the basement, and one will stay in the drawer.

The back of my left hand has three purple spots on it. I have no idea where the bruises came from, but I’ve apparently reached the age where my skin is thinning and getting tender. I sometimes find myself bleeding these days without remembering even getting a scratch. I remember my various ancestors going through the same thing. Gettin’ old ain’t no fun! © 2013
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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Monday Musings And Tuesday Ruminations on a Wednesday Morning

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Before I mowed the lawn Monday, I thought I’d change the plugs in my riding lawnmower, since it’s been running a little rough lately. Step one – lift the hood. Step two – search for the spark plugs…….and search……..and search…..and—well, you’re starting to get the idea. Not only could I not even see the plugs, there were no obvious plug-wires to give away their location either. Apparently, you have to completely remove the hood to see where they go, and I didn’t want to take the time. I’ll say again, “the people who design machinery and automobiles should be FORCED to work on them!” I DID clean the air filter for the first time in far too long; it was amazing how much smoother the thing ran afterwards. I guess that’s why they talk about REGULAR maintenance!
 
I can tell autumn is coming; the broom sedge and fall grass is making itself known. My grass clumped a little for the first time this year; I think the main culprit was some kind of miniature fox-tail that shows up this time of year. It and the others were just so lush that it was a little like mowing a water puddle, though the ground was dry and I had the mower set as high as it would go.
 
The last leaves have died on one of my white oaks in the yard and borers are already working on the trunk. I hate to lose it, but it’s been hit by several things in the last five years, root damage by loggers, sawflies, some sort of anthracnose from two or three wet springs, and a couple droughty summers. During a horrible drought 20 or more years ago, a forester told me that trees would be dying for 25 years or more that were first weakened by that drought. A guy stopped by that has been cutting some firewood on my place, and he said that I’m losing a lot of white oaks in my woods and he is on his place, too. I hate that for several reasons, including that the white oak acorns are the most palatable for us and the critters both.
 
I clipped the top off a rabbit’s nest in the very MIDDLE of the front yard, but didn’t hurt any of the bunnies, thankfully. By the next pass around, they’d pulled themselves into a deeper part of the nest and were all but invisible to the naked eye. This was despite their own eyes not being open yet. I hope their mama moves them, if need be, before something finds them. Here I go and build brush heaps in the edge of the woods around my yard so the rabbits will have a place to live and they nest right in the middle of the lawn! This nesting seems a little late in the season to me, but maybe not.
 
I tinkered a little more on my “sawmill” base after I finished mowing. If I’d just go at it straight endwise, I could probably have it done in an hour, but it’s been so humid that I’ve just been doing it 10 or 15 minutes a day. How’s THAT for being worthless? I remember when I used to work outside all day no matter what the temperature. Of course I picked jobs in the shade when possible and I was a lot younger, too.

I took my truck to the dealer to have the oil changed yesterday. They had a courtesy driver take me down to the unemployment office where I had an appointment, while they worked on my truck. I got a paper in the mail Saturday telling me that I had a Tuesday appointment. I thought it was nice of them to ask if I had that time available. They always forget that they work for US, not we for them.
 
After getting back to the dealership, I was told that it’s time to get the plugs changed in my truck. Can you believe it’s a $300-plus job? It takes over three hours they tell me. Remember what I said about engineers being FORCED to work on their creations? I think it’s time that I check another garage. I guess I’m showing my age to admit that I changed my own plugs on my last truck (a ’79 GMC). *
 
The neighbor-lady is getting ready to have a yard sale. She spent her working years hoarding thousands of dollars worth of knick-knacks, seasonal decorations, and “home accessories” in her attic and upstairs rooms. Now that she’s retired and living on a shoe-string, she’s decided to sell her stock for pennies on the dollar. I can only imagine how much easier her life would have been had she simply saved her money. My great aunt always used to quote one of her own aunts who said, “The time to be saving is when you have plenty.” I wish I’d done a better job of it myself.
 
Incidentally, the meeting at the unemployment office was a group meeting that was about as pointless as certain female appendages on a boar hog! © 2013

* P.S. - Thinking back, I believe that price was for a full tune-up, something I remember getting at $29.95 at times in the past.
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Saturday, August 24, 2013

A Saturday Archeological Expedition


Yep, it was an expedition alright; I had to walk nearly 200 feet from my truck! I’d been parked under a shade tree behind the local mall, while my wife walked around a bit, when the urge to answer nature’s call became strong enough that it seemed unwise to resist. Driving around the perimeter of the back lot, to get to the nearest burger joint, I noticed a mound of fairly fresh dirt and an eight-foot by 50 foot patch of bare ground from which the piled sod had been taken. It looked like they were getting ready to replace a storm sewer connection and had removed the sod before starting to dig ant deeper. So, on my way back from using the burger joint’s little room, I parked in the lot near where the soil disturbance was.

The Ohio River Valley was the home of Native Americans for many thousands of years, and they left a fair amount of sign here. I found several flint chips and one small arrowhead behind the current mall location  many years ago when they were converting the former grass-strip airport into the current shopping mecca. The river was only a couple stone-throws away from the dirt pile and the bare patch, and it had obviously been rained on a few times, so I figured they would be worth checking out.

The pickings were pretty slim, though there WAS some sign of an earlier time. Those times were represented by the small pieces of crushed limestone, asphalt and brown beer-bottle glass that occasionally showed up in the sandy soil. There was nothing from any earlier eras, however. It was clear that a lone white-tailed deer had slaked his thirst at the little puddle of water at the lower end of the shallow excavation. I say “he” since most does are either traveling with their young or with other does at this time of year. The goose poop was plentiful, but old. I saw the resident flock grazing along a small stream on my way to and from the burger joint.

What I DID find was a half-dozen poke plants about five inches tall. Had I taken a trowel or digging stick with me, I’d have brought them home to replant for next year. Maybe I can make it back before they bulldoze the place level again. I want to start a poke patch, since they’re perennials. I may try planting some poke berries, but existing roots would be my preferred method. Not today though. I’ve got a few pursley plants that I need to stick in the ground this evening anyway. Plus I’ need to do a little more work on the frame for my chainsaw mill. © 2013
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Friday, August 23, 2013

A Couple Of Friday Observations

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We paid our property taxes today. For another year (actually for about another year-and-a-half since we paid them “early”), our land, home and autos are safe from being stolen by the county in which we reside. Once stolen, they would have been to be sold to the highest low-ball bidder to provide money for the county to squander and misallocate for our own “well-being” and their continued employment. That isn’t my main complaint, though. Corruption and fiscal irresponsibility are two of the things that we all hold most dear about government, after all.

No, my amazement is for the way that government offices handle their flow of customers. “Customers” is a good word, I think, since they wouldn’t have jobs without the action of separating us from our hard-earned money. Now, it’s common knowledge that most folks try their best to conduct their business with the government during their lunch break, if possible. That’s because, in its infinite wisdom, the government always keeps the same hours that other businesses do. SO, if you have to get a driver’s license, pay your taxes, or take care of any such business, you have to do so during hours when your boss fully expects you to be on the job making money for HIM. He isn’t usually concerned with your petty problems, like holding onto the roof over your head. Obviously, neither is the government, or they’d keep different hours.

Now businesses like restaurants, who KNOW in advance that they will have a rush of customers that will show up between 11 o’clock and two o’clock, make sure that they have extra employees on hand to cover that rush. So what do government offices do to deal with that same type of customer influx? Simple, they either close their office completely, OR leave behind a couple of the slowest, least experienced workers to deal with the long lines of understandably impatient people who want to do business during their lunch break. Problem solved!

The other thing that amazed me today was an article in one of the country’s “big two” hunting and fishing magazines. Now, being a former archer, I slowed down my customary pre-trash 20 minute scan of the normally irrelevant magazine to check out an article comparing bows that are currently available. The first thing I noticed was that every “bow” looked like some gothic torture device. I remember when words like “symmetry” and “flowing lines” were used to describe bows. Of course, dinosaurs still roamed the earth at the time. Frankly, the devices that I saw that were called bows would have given me nightmares. I’d be afraid they’d morph into some other life form when I was alone in the woods with them and that I would forever remain “missing in action” to my friends and family.

The other thing that I noticed was that the prices STARTED at $799 and went up to $999. Now I’m all for separating the proverbial fool from his money, but there comes a time when a company can be as corrupt as a government agency. Apparently, the selling of arrow-launching machines is one of those times. The other thing that amazed me is just how HUGE a fool some folks must be. For thousands of years, “primitive” peoples have fed their families with two sticks and a string; the “bow” companies had better hope that no-one remembers that fact! © 2013
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Thursday, August 22, 2013

Hard Times, Banks And Good Neighbors – A Story From The Great Depression

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As with all of my stories, the names and places have been changed, at least slightly, to protect both the guilty and the innocent.

Dyss O’Dell was an oilfield contractor, a driven man and a hard worker. He built derricks back when they were made of wood, and then relearned the trade when steel derricks became popular. He was a stickler for getting everything lined up just right, so that a driller only had to throw a belt on the boiler’s wheel to start drilling. As a result, he pretty much had his choice of who he did business with. He was the first man in the Waddington Valley to have a telephone or an automobile, but sadly enough, he was also one of the first in the valley to get foreclosed on by the bank during the depression.

Dyss was used to the feast and famine cycles of the oilfield, and lived his life along the same lines. When he made big, he spent big; when things got tight, he robbed Peter to pay Paul until the next big check came in. His situation was helped only slightly by the fact that his wife could squeeze a penny until poor Abe squalled for mercy. When oil prices went down in the middle of the depression, so did Dysses work. The problem was that Peter no longer had any money for Dyss to “rob,” so Paul started screaming for payment. To be more precise, the bank, always his “friend” in good times, foreclosed on the past-due loan for his farm. Like the banks in the more recent housing bubble crash, their greed and fear blinded them to the fact that refinancing loans to allow lower payments would allow them to continue to have money coming in, as opposed to none. As a result, many of the banks went belly-up, themselves.

It was probably an embarrassment to Dyss when the notice of the sale of his farm came out in the local paper, but he had a plan. His eldest daughter was 25, single, living at home and gainfully employed. He wouldn’t be allowed to bid at the auction, but SHE could. A few days before the auction, Bertram Showalter, a friend, a neighboring farmer and the son of Swiss emigrants, came to him and asked Dyss if he was going to bid on his farm to get it back. Dyss told him his plan and Bertram assured him that he would not be bidding against him then.


When the day of the sale came, his daughter dutifully bid on the place, but his neighbor across the road, Ned Horton, kept bidding and running the price up. No doubt, the hilltop farm would have made a nice addition to Ned’s farm in the valley. Dyss and his daughter finally ended up with the winning bid, but only after paying considerably more than would have been necessary without Ned’s interference. Dyss was surprised by Ned’s actions, considering how often they’d helped each other put in their crops and knowing that their children were friends. His friendship with Ned cooled a bit after that, but he had a heightened respect for Bertram, a hard-working fellow that he already held in high esteem. Sometimes, you just don’t know who your friends are until the chips are down. © 2013
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Sunday, August 18, 2013

Rainy Day

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It was raining before dawn when I put the dog out for the first time today. She doesn’t like the rain, so wasn’t happy about me taking her out in such a mess. I went back to bed. I was up at nine to visit the little room at the foot of the stairs, and it was still raining. My wife was still asleep from being up half the night, so I lay down once again. I got up again about 11, and my wife was still snoozing. I went online and checked my blog and Facebook page for visitors and answered a few comments, plus looked up a few things I’d been curious about. I also saved a few articles of interest, and put them in the appropriate files.

Finally, I went downstairs and put the dog out again, though she showed no interest in doing so. She was down a while, so I think she was putting off letting us know that she needed to go, since she could still hear the rain outside. After she did her thing, I sat in the porch swing and she lay by my feet as I watched the rain and listened to the sound of the drops hitting the forest leaves only 30 feet away. It reminded me of when I lived at home and I’d sit on the old metal glider on the back porch, or on a hay bale in the barn and watch the rain come down. I usually had a dog at my feet back then, too. If it was in the barn, sometimes my dad was with me and we’d talk about this and that and the old days. We talked a lot about the old days, Actually, I guess I mostly asked questions and HE talked about the old days. I miss those times.

One of the early Chinese philosophers said that water is the gentlest and most powerful force on earth. I think one of our Native American chiefs from the 19th century said something similar. Maybe a lot of people have said such things over the years. Solomon said that there was nothing new under the sun. The gentle drops of rain in the highlands sometimes turn into raging, murderous waters that roar their way to the ocean, at times leaving death and destruction behind them. On a slightly less dramatic note, I’m reminded of the song I’ve heard on the Gaithers, “Then The Rains Come.” It’s one of my favorites.

My wife isn’t very thrilled with such days. I believe she may suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder to some degree, and may be slightly claustrophobic besides. She feels penned up and depressed when there’s no sun and she feels trapped in the house. She gets rather cranky at such times, which adds to her aggravation at our current “poverty.” I sort of enjoyed the day, but she needs some sunshine. I need a job; six months of togetherness is about five months too much. It’s a shame Utah can’t get some of this rain; they’re desperate for it. It’s supposed to rain again tomorrow. I guess we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it (if it isn’t washed out). © 2013
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Friday, August 16, 2013

The Kraut Stomper

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Click image to enlarge.



I only remember my folks making kraut one time when I was just little. I don't know why they quit, maybe because they filled in their snaky old cellar (an unwise move, I think) and didn't have any place to keep it through the winter. We always had big stone jars sitting around, until Mom let them freeze and bust, one by one, from using them to store water too late in the year, The kraut rock and the kraut stomper remained on the back porch until Mom moved to town, at which time I brought them home with me.

The kraut rock was a large piece of petrified wood, although I think I've got another one of fossilized bones of some sort. The stomper sort looks like sassafras, though I can't be sure. It's about four inches across the wide end, and about 30 inches long. I never realized that you have to stomp it pretty well for it to ferment properly, I just thought it was to force out as much air as possible.

Regardless, the old stomper got full of powder-post beetles at some point in the past, so I let it go with the stuff that I took to the auction house/antique dealer today. I'm thinking of trying to make some kraut at some point, but it won't be any trouble to make a new one if that time ever comes. Believe it or not, you can buy them from Lehman Hardware, along with the boards that go under the rock.
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The Hobo Chairs

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Click image to enlarge.



It was the middle of the Great Depression and during the Dust Bowl years. Hardly anyone had any money. Even in West Virginia, dust coated everything during the summer and farmers often resorted to chopping down trees to feed their cattle, when the grasses in the pastures gave out. My granddad was working away in the oilfields while my grandmother ran the farm and the dairy with what friends and relatives had ended up on their doorstep destitute. Those folks received little or no pay, but they got room and board, and Grandma had a reputation as a fantastic cook.

An unexpected knock on the back door wasn’t an uncommon thing in those days, as bums and hobos stopped to ask for work or for food. The difference between bums and hobos was that hobos would work for their food, bums wouldn’t. And so, it was no surprise when a soft knock came at the back door one morning, and a dusty, unshaven white-headed old gentleman stood there with his hat in his hand. He asked my grandmother if she had any small jobs on the farm that he might do for a meal, but my grandmother told him that he didn’t have to work for a meal, and that she’d be happy to fix him some breakfast. He politely, but firmly, told her that he’d worked for his living all his life, and wished to do so as long as he was able. He reminded her that the Bible said men were to earn their bread by the sweat of their brow. (He didn’t know that he was speaking to a preacher’s daughter.) She said that she was sure she could find something for him to do, but that she wanted to feed him first, since people work better when their stomach isn’t growling. He reluctantly agreed.

After he ate, they spoke of work and Grandma learned that he had done split-bottomed chairs earlier in his life. She struck a deal with him to put new bottoms in a couple old chairs in exchange for lunch and supper that day, a night’s sleep in the barn and breakfast the following morning. As he walked slowly up the hill to cut a white oak sapling for material, she recalled that his hands seemed awfully stiff and his vision appeared to be less than ideal. He finished doing the two chairs not long after the family shared their supper with him, and Grandma let him wash up in the cellar house, before he turned in for his night’s sleep in the barn. He ate breakfast with them the next morning and Grandma put some food in a flower sack for him to eat for his lunch and supper on the road. After thanking her profusely for the chance to earn his room and board for a day, he started on his way in good spirits.

The work that he’d been so happy to perform was coarse and loose by any expert’s standards. His stiff fingers and bad vision, combined with his limited time, made the chairs into objects that many wouldn’t use. Still, with an old cushion thrown on them, they were useable. And used they were. Anytime someone asked about them, Grandma told them the story of the proud old gentleman who insisted on earning his way in life. And so they remained on the farm, even when the depression was over and the extra seating wasn’t needed any longer. They were kept not for their value, but for the honest man they represented. When my grandparent’s had passed away, and their home was torn down by an opportunist aunt, my dad took the chairs. When Dad passed away, and my mother moved to town, I took them to my own home. For twenty years, they’ve been in my basement, used only rarely, when I was tinkering down there.

I’m no spring chicken, so I’m looking to thin down a lot of my stuff, so my stepson won’t have to wonder what to do with it all after I croak. He’s a pretty good guy, but he’s not into antiques, especially “rustic” ones. I’m going to take them to a guy that has an antique shop and an auction house and see if I can get a few dollars for them. I’ll run off a couple copies of this story and attach one to each of the chairs. Maybe someone else will want them as a reminder of old times and good people long gone. May God bless them if they do. © 2013

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Thursday, August 15, 2013

It’s A Different World

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Back when I was young, if you wanted a job, you could get one. It’s not so easy these days, especially for a fat old hillbilly only a few years from retirement age. I had too lousy of a job for too long to dress decently, plus too many years of sitting on my backside at work has “broadened my horizons” to where the decent clothes I once had were “outgrown” along the way. Also, when I was young, the people running the personnel departments were middle-age and older. Now, they seem to be nearly children. I believe I told you sometime in the past about an interviewer I had a few years ago. He was unshaven, his hair hadn’t seen a comb that day, he was wearing shoes with no socks, Bermuda shorts, a print shirt, and he was rude, arrogant and gave the over-all appearance that he was a beach-bum recovering from an all-night party. I was tempted to turn him over my knee like the two-year-old he was acting like, but was afraid he might have enjoyed it.

I drove a straight-frame truck, off and on, for over 20 years, but now, I can’t get a CDL unless I prove that I’m BRIGHT enough to drive a truck and then borrow someone’s truck to take the driving part of the test. Yet our country is filled with Mexican and A-rab drivers that can’t even read the road signs. (I know, I’ve spoken to a few of them, and they can’t really speak the language either.)

A lot of companies now hire through either government or private job-service programs. Very few seem to feel the need to see anyone face-to-face until the last interview stage. I can remember the day that you could walk in off the street, and if you had the right attitude, you could be hired on the spot. Those days are forever gone. Companies are run like government bureaucracies these days.

I complimented a fellow for returning my call the other day. He was only the SECOND person in SIX MONTHS to do so. In my day, that wasn’t only considered good manners, it was part of the job.

I had an interview recently, and due to being out of the loop for a while, forgot to send the requisite “thank you” note on my way home. The guy was to let me know the outcome by the middle of the next week so, since I wasn’t sure it would get there before his decision, I chose not to send it the next day, either (bad decision). Now, I consider the middle of the week to be closing time on Wednesday. So, when I hadn’t heard from him by the end of the day Thursday, I called. He wasn’t there, but a co-worker of his promised to let him know I’d called. (Who knows?) He hadn’t returned my call by closing time Friday, so I called back. He was with a customer, but the young lady who answered the phone responded to the affirmative when I asked if the position had been filled. It’s now Thursday again and I never DID hear from him, so in my book, that makes the man a liar. Maybe the Lord was protecting me from working for a jerk.

I know ONE thing; it’s not the world I grew up in! © 2013
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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Feminist My Foot!

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I hope that I don’t lose any female readers over this post, but I guess I chance losing one reader or another anytime I speak my mind. A few folks may just think that I’m a male chauvinist raging against females, if so, so be it.

I watched a show on TV last night where they look up the ancestry of “famous” people I’ve never heard of. I suppose they ARE famous in some circles, just not in mine. Still, being a history buff, I find the show somewhat interesting. The girl at the center of things last night seemed like a likeable enough kid, but she classed herself as a feminist, so I paid a bit more attention than normal. Feminists, from the way that I see the term used, generally means single, radical, man-hating abortionists that are often lesbian. Many women who CALL themselves feminists are often merely for true equal rights. Sadly, THAT term has been stolen by people with a homosexual agenda who are actually after “gay” privileges, NOT equal rights.

Since the young woman considered herself and her grandmother to be “strong women” (I don’t know where her mother failed), she decided that she must be descended from a line of strong women. I found it amusing that it never occurred to her that there might have been some “strong” men involved along the way, as well. It takes a strong person to LIVE with a strong person, regardless of the sex. It turned out that one branch of her family was made up of Quakers, who were very active in the Underground Railroad before the Civil War. In fact, she made much of the fact that a battle between slave-holders and escaped slaves was fought on family land as her grandmother watched from the distance. (I wonder what she thought her grandfather was doing, tatting lace? His life was as much on the line as hers at the time.)

They chose not to search any other family lines, and the girl sort of ignored the ancestor who actually owned a slave, assuming him to be a nasty fellow, without seeking to know WHY he might have owned another human being. (Some abolitionists actually bought slaves to remove them from slavery, and retained “ownership” so they couldn’t be rounded up and sold back into slavery again.) In other words, the kid found what “truth” she wanted to back up her pre-conceptions and was thrilled to learn what “strong women” she was descended from, and that some of her ancestors were also “feminists” in their own way.

She went back a total of five generations on only one blood-line and concentrated on ONE woman. She ignored the dozens of other ancestors who contributed to her being the person she is today. NO-ONE is the product of one or two ancestors; we are the sum-total of ALL of our predecessors. The most important influences are those of our parents, of course, but most of all, we are what WE DECIDE to be. As likeable as the girl seemed to be, I think her willful ignorance is an example of what is wrong with the country these days. She has reason to be proud of the ancestors that she learned about; I just hope that her learning doesn’t stop there. There’s a big difference between being a feminist and preaching the equality of all that Jesus taught. (And please don’t misunderstand that term “equality, either.) © 2013
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Sunday, August 11, 2013

Guerilla Foraging

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My recent excursions in search of herbal edibles have got me to thinking about a few things. Take them for what they’re worth to you.
The first thing is don’t be discouraged if you live in town. Several of my recent outings have taken place while my wife was window-shopping in some of the bigger stores, or at the local mall. I’ve actually found more edibles on my city sorties than I have in the country. The trick is to look for areas like the sides and backs of stores where they mow the grass and weeds occasionally, but not regularly. That allows the weeds to resprout between mowings and actually allows you to find TENDER plants on a more prolonged basis than in many areas in the country that get mowed only once or twice a year. A look-around a couple weeks to a month after a mowing will often yield a nice mess of greens.
While some edibles, like milkweed, may be found in the center of a field, field edges and forest edges have done best for me. The upper edges of stream-banks seem to do well for me, too. Since it’s illegal to get herbicides in a flowing stream, stream-banks are relatively safe, also. City “fields” are also unlikely to be contaminated with herbicides, unlike lawns and golf-courses. Herbicides are more likely to be used around buildings and the front lawn areas of stores. Beware ANY type of utility right-of-ways, particularly those of electric companies—they tend to use herbicides every few years to keep brush down, rather than pay for mowing. Also, railroads are notorious for spraying herbicides, and since they often spray high enough to kill the nearby TREES, the spray can go a long ways. Therefore, NEVER pick anything along a railroad track. The tracks CAN give you access to good foraging areas, but step completely off the right-of-way if any cops or railroad employees are around, since it is supposed to be illegal to even be on such right-of-ways.
Also, I would advise you to stay off any posted property or government land. With unposted property, you can always plead ignorance if someone hassles you, and you’ll probably just be asked to leave. Not so if the land is posted. Also, some poor old codger in one of the northern cities was recently fined $75 for picking some wild greens in a city park.
Even on unposted land, it would probably be best if you could get in and out as quickly as reasonably possible, just not so quickly as to draw attention to yourself. If the owner, or some local busy-body, calls the cops on a “suspicious person” gadding about the neighborhood, it would be best if you could be gone when he/she shows up. We all know how most cops like to flaunt their authority. It’s probably best to make it look like you’re just walking for your health, rather than gathering wild edibles. Land-owners are understandably afraid that if your purpose is known to them and you get sick or die from foolishly eating something you shouldn’t have, they might be open to a lawsuit. They might feel similarly about you walking there for exercise, too, but they may be more likely to just ask you to leave, rather than call the law or make you dump what you’ve picked.
There may be SOME places best foraged after dark, but it would be harder to justify your presence if you DO get caught, plus there’s the safety issue of taking a chance with local hooligans. If the area is fairly open and you have a dog, walking the dog might be a good cover, IF the area is safe for him. That would also make it easier to explain the plastic bag hanging from your belt, just be sure and have a few paper-towels with you for good measure. Personally, I won’t be doing any night-foraging unless things get desperate. When I forage, I wear a cap, put a plastic bag on my belt and carry a walking stick. To most folks, I’d just look like some slightly eccentric old codger out for his daily constitutional.
Lastly, I mentioned safety concerning the dog and about herbicides, three other things you need to consider are knowing your plants, snakes and poison-ivy. You need to know the plants you pick at all stages of their life, since they are most edible when young and tender, yet most photos you’ll find are when the plant is in bloom, LONG after the tender stage. Also, some poisonous plants look very similar to some edible plants. As for the latter two, wear heavy boots if you plan on stepping into the tall weeds and avoid the ivy even then! © 2013
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Friday, August 9, 2013

Friday Brain Blurbs - Off-The-Cuff Wisdom From A Crackpot (Me)

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Different thoughts went through my mind as I was chauffeuring my wife around today, I’m going to see how many I can remember.

Learn how to forage for food NOW, before you HAVE to. Don’t turn your nose up at FRESH road-kill, either; I’ve had the venison equivalent of veal that came from the highway and it was superb! Besides, living on cooked greens alone would get old real fast.

To cut down the amount of unneeded light, when boobing around after dark in somewhat familiar areas, tape a toilet-paper roll to the end of your flashlight. (Yes, the end with the bulb! (I knew some smart-alec would ask if I didn’t clear that up.)) It cuts the available light to a small spotlight, but it also makes it harder to see the source of the light from the side, or above (Think of the louvered light covers on some military vehicles.) Spray painting the inside flat black would be even better.

If I had any money in the bank (I don’t), I’d get it out and buy junk silver with PART of it. The crash is coming, and it will be world-wide; but like the second coming, the timing is up in the air. Sadly, when I’ve wanted to buy lately, I’ve needed to sell instead.

Plastic food jars like peanut butter and fruit come in are the greatest thing since sliced bread. They have the see-through convenience of mason jars for storing screws and nuts and bolts and so on, but without the breakage worry. You can even fasten the lids to the ceiling joists and have them out of your way, but easily accessible. I would not advise this on the end of the house where the clothes washer sits, or it might vibrate the suckers loose.

When foraging, look for places where there’s no danger of spray, but also where most people wouldn’t bother to look. You might be surprised what’s growing right under your nose.

There are a few wild roots that are edible, usually just in first-year plants. They can add something different to a boring diet of greens and road-kill. (I just love to spring that word on you!)

If you live in the country, try to locate a natural source of water. In a catastrophe, the city water may not be available, or may be poisoned.

I saw a restaurant today that appears to have gone out of business. They made the same mistakes as most other area eateries that go belly-up. They over-priced themselves for the local market, but they did okay until everyone had tried the place. Then their profits started going down as folks started drifting away. They then tried to match the market by offering cheaper, but lower quality food, and tried to boost their profit on regular items by scaling back the portion size and cutting quality. Once they cut the quality, they rarely last more than a year—two at the most.

Don’t trust ANYONE except you and God, and don’t be TOO sure about yourself! © 2013
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Thursday, August 8, 2013

A “Messed-Up” Mess Of Milkweed

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I picked a pretty good mess of milkweed while the little woman was window-shopping at the craft store. When I got home, I decided to wash them outside, so as to save time spent in “my wife’s” kitchen. I put them in a plastic bucket I’d gotten from the donut shop and gave them a gentle spraying with the garden hose. Then I drained them and refilled the bucket and gave them a few minutes of manual sloshing around.

After draining them again, I switched them to the cooking pot and boiled them lightly for ten minutes. During that ten minutes, my wife was carrying on that I was stinking up the house (they smell like green beans to me), and that she was getting sick from the odor. (It was all in her head, but what can I say?) After a little salt and pepper, plus a generous helping of butter, I started eating. Unfortunately, they weren’t as good as last time. They seemed to have a distinct flavor of chlorine and…….garden hose! Guess I won’t do THAT anymore.

Unfortunately, I had to promise the wife that I wouldn’t cook them inside the house anymore, so I need to get some lose bricks and throw up a little outside cooker. If I’m going to that much effort, I really should get a smaller pot and a frying pan. Maybe I’ll start up a TV show and call it “Redneck Gourmet!” © 2013
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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Through The Years

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I’ve been looking through old yearbooks lately. Having no-one to pass them to, I may sell my dad’s old yearbooks (’41, ’42, ’43 and ’45). He graduated in ’43, so I don’t know where the ’45 came from. Maybe it was my mother’s; she graduated in ’46. I also have one of my maternal grandfather’s yearbooks from 1924. He was from another county, but we visited there a lot when I was a kid, to see the relatives he left behind, so I know the area.

What surprised me is how many of the names I was familiar with, even from 1924 and in another county. Despite all the building and suburban expansion, I guess this is still a small town at heart. Some names from 1924 were just ones I’ve heard in the conversation of relatives. Others were people that I’d actually met, some of whom lived in other counties by the time I met them. Also, it turns out that many of the kids that I went to school with had parents that were about the same age as my father (understandable). What was a bit of a surprise was that Dad would have known the parents of several of the girls I dated. He never mentioned it, so I don’t know if they were people he didn’t care for, or if he just figured it wasn’t any of his business. Dad got along with just about everyone, so I’d guess the latter.

Another thing I noticed was that things seemed to be taken more seriously then. Maybe that was because so many folks just dropped out to go to work, making those who valued education a greater percentage of the group. Granddad’s yearbook could have passed for a college yearbook, with all the clubs and “societies” and such. I’d never heard of having “Greek” societies in high school before, and that was in what would have been considered a “back county.” The kids looked a little older than some of today’s students; maybe that was just co-incidence. My grandfather WAS 22 at his high school graduation, though, for he’d moved and taken two years of college, then CAME BACK to finish high school. Apparently, such things could be done back then. In the case of Dad’s class being more serious, there was a war going on, so that was to be expected. Three obituaries from the local paper are stuck inside the front cover of one book—all three young men killed at war. They were former classmates of his, no doubt. I’m sure many others succumbed to the same fate. Dad served, but he was one of the lucky ones.

I hate to part with the old yearbooks but as I said, I have no-one to pass them on to that would treasure them. If I can’t sell them, maybe I’ll just give them to some local genealogical group or historical society. I’m getting too old to have all this stuff around that holds meaning only for me. I don't have any of my own yearbooks; they strangely "disappeared" from my home many years ago, though I think I know their fate.© 2013
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Monday, August 5, 2013

Tidbits Of The Day

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Last night, the lady brought us the monthly payment for the house we sold them a few years ago. I took it to their bank first thing this morning and it wasn’t any good. She’ll make it right tomorrow, but why do some people operate in a constant state of carelessness? I’d already learned NOT to deposit her checks. We’d wanted to pick up some groceries, but will have to wait a day now.

I picked up five items when I got home and took them to an antique dealer. I did okay on three, but got ripped off on two. Oh well, it was stuff I’d planned to get rid of anyway, and it DID put some cash in my pocket.

Since the deer have discovered my Jerusalem artichokes behind their four-foot fence, I rigged up a couple tires for growing pursley and put a piece of hardware cloth over it so the deer would have to step on the wire to reach the ‘chokes. On the other side, I just put a piece of the screen so it would gouge them if they rubbed against it. It seemed to work last night anyway.

My most recent round of poverty has given me an epiphany; baked-bean sandwiches are pretty good!

I posted the graduation ceremony program from the year my father graduated on a local history site today. I was surprised how many of the names on the list of graduates I was familiar with. Most are dead, of course.

We gave the dog a bath tonight, then watched her roll and stretch and roll for probably twenty minutes on the two bath towels my wife had put down for her. When she finished, she was so worn out that she’s slept all evening.

Guess that’s it for now; hope all is well in your world. © 2013
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Sunday, August 4, 2013

Sunday Sundries

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If George Zimmerman is a WHITE Hispanic, why isn’t Obama a WHITE black?

For lunch today, we had sewage-fed fish from Thailand (purchased by mistake), instant mashed potatoes made with powdered milk, plus some gravy from a mix packet. It was all a bit salty, though my wife added no salt. Otherwise, it was delicious. My wife gets creative when the cupboard gets low on stock.

I deleted a very likeable fellow from my Facebook “friends” list yesterday. He thought that he should lecture others while being what Jesus would call “lukewarm” on many important issues himself. Call me self-righteous, but I hate to waste time with folks like that anymore.

Our relatively new flat-screen TV is starting to jerk like a download that’s not keeping up. The one in the kitchen doesn’t do it, so I have to wonder about it.

Our dog has finally gotten tired of Burger King cheese-burgers, the trouble is, she hasn’t yet decided what she wants to live on NOW!

I was thinking about something today. I’m not saying that I’m old, but I can remember when our town still used Greyhound-style buses for city transit. (That won’t mean anything if you’re not a local.) I know what L.S.M.F.T. stands for. I now count the time to my retirement in years, rather than decades (if the economy will ever LET me retire). I can whistle the theme to “The Virginian,” know who Lee J. Cobb was and what part he played in the show. “The Twilight Zone” wasn’t reruns when I watched it. Plus, I remember a certain mystery type show that always began with a man’s silhouette and the words “Good eeeevening.” I remember when no-one used gas grills and everyone who grilled used charcoal. I remember variety shows. I remember women wearing hats, and a few that still wore bonnets. I remember when most people dressed up a little bit to go to town. I remember saying the Pledge of Allegiance in school and the principal saying grace before we ate our lunch. I remember when most folks raised the greater part of what they ate. I remember when neighbors visited on the front porch. I remember before the interstate went through when you could often hear a car coming out the country road before it even appeared around the bend three-quarters of a mile away. I remember when kids were still taught right from wrong and had good manners (MOST of them, anyway). I remember when it was still safe to use snow to make home-made snow-cones. I remember when most country homes were still heated with wood. I remember Sunday drives and family re-unions.

No, I’m not old; my memories are just more plentiful than some people’s! © 2013
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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Aunt Marie Was Right

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I went to the neighbor’s place today to ask for some scrap (used) baling twine. I need it to tie up my two tomato plants and for a couple other projects. Being summer, he didn’t have much, but he gave me what he had. Poor folk’s farms used to be largely held together with baling wire. When the old stationary balers went the way of the dinosaur, we had to use the twine from the pull-behind balers to hold our fences and equipment together. With round bales and plastic twine taking over, even that is changing. Never did I dream that the day would come that we didn’t have cattle, or that baling twine would be a scarce commodity.

When taking a ride this afternoon, my wife and I were discussing how the farms were all growing up. You can’t see across the hills like in the days of our youth because of that change in land use, so the views are less panoramic than they used to be. Most of the old farmers we knew are dead, and there basically ARE no young farmers in our area. These days, living in the country means living in the woods. I like the woods, but I miss those views across the hills.

It’s been six months since I’ve had a job; at one time, there was plenty of work in the area. I was shocked the other day when a personnel manager actually returned my call, despite having no work for me. He was only the second person in six months to do so. So much for consideration and good manners.

My Great Aunt Marie always used to tell me that “time changes things.” How right she was! © 2013
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