Friday, April 29, 2016

Sittin' 'n' Fussin'

I was sitting on the porch alone this evening. The pooch has an ear infection, so the missus has decided that the poor little thing shouldn't see the light of day for a long while. I was enjoying watching what appears to be a resident pair of towhees come and go. An Indian Hen (Pileated Woodpecker) was carrying on down in the woods, but all I saw was movement, no actual bird. Bluejays were flitting from tree to tree, and a couple robins passed through my little area of observation. The view of 300 feet into the woods has become only 30 feet to the edge of the woods, as everything has leafed out.

I was sitting there soaking it all in when the missus came to the door and began to rekindle a disagreement that we'd had earlier in the day. I'm the sort that means what I say and says what I mean. If I have a particular view on something, it's usually based on cold, hard facts or personal experience. If my wife would listen to the words I say, and take them at face value, there usually wouldn't be a problem. Unfortunately, she's one of those folks who never hears what I actually say but hears, instead, what she THINKS I'm GOING to say. Even after 33 years, I have a hard time not responding to such foolishness, but I HAVE made some progress lately. Regardless, she sure ruined a good dose of porch sitting. Copyrighted 2016

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

It Was A Dark And Stormy Night…

leading to a dark and stormy day. THAT in turn, led to a dark, rainy, foggy night. The semi’s could be heard on the four-lanes a couple miles away, as the crow flies. Occasionally, a distant car would come into hearing and grow louder as it neared the house and then passed on the country road a couple hundred feet away. The pooch and I were at our stations on the porch, listening for whatever we could hear, but there wasn’t much to be heard. One jet made quite an uproar as it climbed into the sky five miles away at the “regional” airport. It USED to be called the “county” airport, until they decided to make the nearly abandoned facility sound more important.

For the second night, the mouthy mockingbird at the far end of the lawn was silent. I hope it’s only that the rain has dampened his spirits, and not that something has had him for lunch. There are only two sounds of nature here tonight—the sound of gently falling rain, and calling of two or three tree-frogs near my neighbor’s home, a short distance to the south. Their carryings-on more than makes up for the silence of the mockingbird. As usual, my lonely wife eventually comes to the door professing concern for our safety, so we rejoin her in the TV room—until next time. © 2016

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

I Still Find It Amazing!

As he has begun mellowing his BS and back-pedaling on abortion and transgender bathrooms, I actually like Trump a bit less than I did. The last thing we need is for him to start sucking up to the republican hierarchy or turning liberal on us. Still, what truly amazes me is the brazenness with which Cruz and Kasich have colluded to thwart the will of republican voters. People used to run for office to WIN, NOT to keep someone else from winning. Although I'm sure that both of the slime-balls are hoping to rope the nomination in an open convention, it's clear that they would rather let Hillary win than have Trump as president. With Kasich accepting $600,000 from international Communist George Soros, it's obvious why he doesn't want anything to rock the boat in DC. An un-buyable president might have a dampening effect on the value of the gravy train from which most national figures feed like hogs. Still, I consider the attitude exhibited by Cruz, Kasich and their ilk to be the equivalent of treason. Anyone who tries to thwart the will of the people has become unworthy to hold ANY office, even dog catcher. Copyrighted 2016

To The Porch An Hour Early

Usually, it’s about 5:30 AM when I wake up and take out the Mighty Dachshund. This morning, she got up on her own and started whining at my wife. She, in turn, rang the special doorbell that’s my cue that the pooch has a full bladder. When I got downstairs, she was rolling on the carpet, happy to see me. Once outside, she peed less than normal, so I suspect that she just woke up thinking she’d like a trip outdoors.

I sat down in the swing, with her at my feet and we both listened to the night sounds, as she sniffed the slight breeze coming from the west. It was surprisingly quiet, even for the early hour. The main thing was that the loud-mouthed mockingbird that’s been singing 24/7 at the far end of the yard was silent. In fact, the only creatures that I heard were the 4:30 rooster, the next place to the north, and a couple crickets out in the lawn. Thank goodness the neighbor’s black cat didn’t show up like two nights ago, or it would have been the Mighty Dachshund’s voice tearing up the night, as she protected me from that dastardly menace.

Above, the stars shone brightly through an almost clear sky. The moon must still have been out, for the yard seemed too brightly lit for it to have been only the street light at work. To the west, I heard the low howling of wind on its way, as it rushed through the limbs of the tree covered hills. Far to the north, beyond the horizon, there was lightning, but it made only the tiniest flash of white on the clouds there. It was too far for the sound to travel the distance. I’d say it was across the river in the neighboring state.

Suddenly, the breeze picked up, but it was a backing wind, coming from the east, not the west from which the sound of wind grew still closer. I was reminded of the words of Jesus, where he compares the moving of the Holy Spirit to the wind: "The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit." (John 3:8)

The door slowly opened and the soft, warm light of a pathetic modern light bulb fell on the pooch. My wife voiced concern that some woods creature might get us, so the Mighty Dachshund and I went in to appease her, she to snooze once again on the floor, and I to type these words before sleep dulled the memory. © 2016

Monday, April 25, 2016

Rocking Chair Memories (w/pic)

Click to enlarge image.

The two rocking chairs you see here are currently sitting on my front porch, but that’s not where their service began. The one on the left was a wedding present to my parents in 1948. My maternal grandfather’s dad had refinished it for the occasion, including having a new split seat woven, I think. I believe he also put new rockers on it, as they are fastened to the legs with bolts, rather than mortise and tenon joints. According to Great Granddad, the chair was over 100 years old when he gave it to my folks. That would make it over 168 years old today. I suspect it had just been a dinner table chair at one time that someone put rockers on, but I can’t be sure.

I always remember it sitting near the side door of our old farmhouse, where company always entered. That placed it near the woodstove, too, so it was an especially popular seat in winter. Mom rocked both of us kids in the chair as she nursed us, she said. I sat there a lot when I lived at home, as I could keep up with the conversation and still keep an eye on the outside through the storm door. It was popular with company, too, I suspect due to its relative novelty in the 20th century. In later years, the old farmhouse developed a low spot in the corner behind it, with almost a break-over line, where the sills were slowly rotting into the ground. At certain times, too large of a rock would leave you feeling like you were going over backwards, but no-one ever did. It was good for laughs, though, to see the look on people’s faces. The chair was often used during large holiday meals when there wasn’t enough room at the table, and it became my great aunt’s favored spot to sit and talk, when she moved in with my folks during her last few years. The finish got a bit warty and bubbly during those years, as my great aunt would sometimes park herself a little too close the woodstove to warm her aching bones.

A few years after Dad passed away, and then my great aunt, my mom moved to a senior high-rise in town. When offered me the old chair, I eagerly accepted it. For several years, it graced our living room. I was too large to safely use it anymore, I thought, but my wife would use it so company could have “the good furniture” when they came. Once again, it also was used during family get-togethers when there were more people than table space. Eventually, though, we quit having family get-togethers, or company, and my wife condemned it to the attic. There it sat the last few years, collecting dust, until my wife pulled it out recently to sell. I hope Mom doesn’t catch wind of it, it might upset her.

For those who don’t recognize the lines, the chair on the right is a shaker rocker. It spent quit a few years in the barn, down at the farm, before I cleaned it up and brought it here. Before that, it sat for many years on the front porch of a Jenny-Lind house at Volcano, West Virginia. Some elderly half-first cousins of my dad’s lived there, before my aunt moved them to town and into nursing homes in the 1970’s. They were an old oilfield family and had lived there for many years. There were six kids, three boys and three girls. I think only one of the boys married, had a child, and soon divorced. The rest remained single and lived in the family home, except when the boys worked out of town. The youngest girl died of TB at age 20. The brother who’d married was killed in an auto accident a few years later. The middle brother lived there until he retired, I believe, and died a few years afterward. The oldest brother and two remaining sisters lived there until they were no longer able to care for themselves. I don’t know if the house predated the big fire in Volcano (1870, I think), or if was built afterward, but the oldest brother was born in 1874, and I think he always lived there. I’m thinking the chair had probably been there the whole time, too, so it could easily be over 146 years old. I can remember sitting in it when I was a kid and we visited a few times.

Sometime after my dad passed away, I got the old chair out of the barn, cleaned it up and stripped off what tiny bit of purple paint remained on the frame. I suspect it was originally blue, but had faded to purple from all those years of weather on the porch. For several years, my wife used it for decoration in the living room, with a big doll or stuffed animal sitting in it. It too was condemned to the attic when her son bought her a nice rocker from Cracker Barrel that was actually usable. Since we’re currently selling things to thin down our “stuff” and to raise a few bucks, she decided it was a good time to get rid of both of the rocking chairs. Of course, were it up to me, I’d keep all my old stuff and sell her “good stuff,” but I try to keep the peace.

The bad thing is, 20 years ago, I could probably have gotten $100 each for the chairs, these days, I’ll be lucky to get $25. Forty years of declining standard of living in this area, including seven years of Obama has pretty well shot our economy. Oh well, such is life! © 2016

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Dumb Lil Crackas!

I get really tired of ghetto music. It’s just not my thing. Unfortunately, I seem to hear it everywhere I go. While it’s true that we DO have more blacks in the area anymore, mostly hauling drugs down here from Columbus, they still make up a only small minority in this area. Yet I constantly have to listen to the foul-mouthed, slurred, unmelodious noise that some call music. It’s not usually coming from cars of passing black kids though; instead, it’s coming from the open windows of mindless, copy-cat white kids who think the rest of the world needs to hear about “hoes,” drugs, killing cops, and shooting “crackas.”

When they climb out of their vehicles, their pants are down around their thighs, their caps are on backwards, their shirts usually sport words that would have gotten you arrested at one time, and their language is even worse. Sadly, you can’t escape the Satan-inspired hate “music” by going indoors, either. We recently splurged and ate at Applebee’s, only to be bombarded by ghetto music the whole time. All the servers but one were white and all the customers were older at the time, yet there we were, a captive audience for non-present “entertainers”, who probably can’t even comprehend the meaning of the term “melody.”

The crazy thing is this: if those mindless little white morons that dig that stuff were unexpectedly dropped off in “the hood,” they’d probably never make it out alive. Their idols would have them shot and maybe eviscerated and torched before they got to the end of the first block. Not all blacks are of that ilk, thank goodness. Some are good decent people, just like SOME white folks are. Unfortunately, most of the people who listen to that rot are immoral trash. I really regret that immoral brats of my own race are so enamored by the immoral brats of another. © 2016

Thursday, April 21, 2016

More Greens, Porch Bird List And A Work In Progress

I finally got the greens cooked that I’d picked around my porch two days ago. They were dandelion and chicory, mostly chicory. I picked them quickly and got a lot of long stems on the chicory leaves, so I’d wondered if they might be tough. They weren’t, though I DID sort of wind them around my fork like spaghetti. The greens tasted good; the salted butter helped, but they did have a somewhat bitter taste. I learned that a half-sip of sweet green tea, taken about halfway through “the chew” and left in the mouth, did wonders in neutralizing that bitterness.

Once the greens were picked the other day, I mowed the lawn. My wife doesn’t know that I put off mowing this past week just to give the plants more time to grow. Incidentally, she’s decided that I’m eating greens to diet, so I can lose weight and catch another woman, if something happens to her. I find that to be sad with a capital “S.” Besides, I’m sure that a 60+ year-old man, with heart trouble, arthritis, fifty pound of sagging skin and no decent retirement would be a hot commodity on the elder marriage market. Some days, ya gotta laugh or ya cry.

I’ve decided to start recording the birds I see each day from my porch (and maybe elsewhere). I’m not sure why—something else to do, I guess. I’ve got several of those little pocket-sized “Holstein-colored” composition books, so I won’t have to buy anything. This morning, I saw a buzzard (turkey vulture), redbird (cardinal), and a nuthatch. I can’t be sure, but we may have an ovenbird nesting by the base of a small greenbrier-enshrouded oak at the edge of the lawn.

My foraging journal still leaves a lot to be desired, mainly because I started it so late in life. Suddenly, the world is filled with the beautiful yellow blossoms of wild mustard (wintercress), which means it’s all past the eating stage. Most wild edibles get tough and bitter once they bolt. I DO have three locations marked now, so next winter, or early spring, I should be able to pick some greens. I’ve never had wintercress, so I’m curious. We’re never too old to try something new! © 2016

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

There IS A Simple Answer To The Bathroom Debacle


All we have to do is have an open, video monitored lobby where people can wait, surrounded by lockable doors to tiny private rooms containing a commode and a small sink. Each room needs an automatic indicator as to whether the room is occupied (to prevent flashers from leaving the door unlocked, hoping for an audience). There is no need to allocate for which sex or perversion any individual room is intended. First come, first serve. Of course, that isn’t REALLY what the perverts want, but how could they complain, since EVERYONE has equal opportunity? Remember, you saw it here first! © 2016

One Happy Little Dog

Before I was waylaid by congestive heart failure, I used to get down on the floor with the Mighty Dachshund for a while each evening. That stopped sometime in June or July of last year. The poor little thing just couldn’t understand it and would whine and pout for me to come down to her, but I couldn’t. Since I started sleeping downstairs in the chair, she wants the three of us together at all times, and we mostly have been. However, when I began sleeping upstairs again last week, she became depressed when I went upstairs and whined and barked quietly for an hour or more. Last night, it was TWO hours.

This evening, I mowed most of the lawn, rather than sitting in the TV room with her and my wife. When I came in, she was in a full-blown fit of depression. Since I’ve been sleeping lying down in bed, I decided to get brave and try getting down on the floor again. Getting down wasn’t easy, but I made it, and lay on my left side, as I used to do. The little gal came right over, stopping only long enough to pick up her rawhide bone. Down she laid right beside me and began chewing her bone as I stroked her back.

Finally, I had to change positions and lay flat on my back. She immediately picked up her bone, went above my head, and began chewing the bone against my hair! I put my hand up there to keep the slimy thing out of my hair, and she laid the bone in the palm of my hand and continued chewing it. I figured what the heck and let her continue. After several minutes, I needed to change positions a while and sat up. Again she moved also and lay where I could reach her to stroke her back and continued working on the bone. Finally, she had the bone all chewed up and eaten, so she got a drink of water, lay down by my wife’s bed where she spends the night, and drifted off to sleep. There she remained for another couple hours as I got up, sat in my chair and watched TV.

She may whine again, when I go upstairs in a few minutes, but for a while tonight at least, she was one happy little dog. © 2016

Monday, April 18, 2016

Warm Weather Porch Sitting

The Mighty Dachshund LOVES to get out of the house, either just outside or going for a drive. Now that it’s getting warmer, my wife won’t take her in the truck through the day, even though I would stay in the truck with her. So, I’ve been trying to sit on the porch with her more. Often, we stay on the porch a while after she comes back from answering nature’s call. Eventually, my wife gets lonely and comes to the door and wants me to bring her in. For some reason, she has yet to sit WITH us, even though they supposedly spent hours on the porch when I was working.

Between the dangers around here that didn’t exist 20 years ago, and her own boldness in desiring to chase things, we can NEVER let her off the leash. She’s just the size of a good meal for some of the critters out there these days, including the largest owls and hawks. Especially when we sit there at night, our “guardian” soon comes for us, due to her concern for the pooch’s safety and my heart condition. SO, my favorite time is now about five in the morning. That allows me to stay in my skivvies without being seen by the neighbors, or passing motorists. Our house is about 200 feet from the road in a straight stretch, so I’m pretty safe from prying eyes. ALSO, the missus is usually sound asleep, so is unaware of our escape.

It was about 5:15 when we went out this morning. In a few moments, the pooch had drained and we were back on the porch, I in the swing and she on the welcome mat by the door. The bright moonlight of last night’s witching hour had been replaced by the light from the dusk-to-dawn light we have on a pole out by the road. It didn’t look like daylight, but once my eyes adjusted, I could have gotten around without the flashlight lying on the swing beside me.

There seemed to be a slight glow at the horizon, but I didn’t know if it was dawn aborning, or just a faint trace of the sky-glow that I sometimes see from a small Ohio town several miles away and upstream. Within five minutes or so, I could tell that the glow was bigger, so I had my answer. Little by little, the eastern sky grew brighter higher and higher, finally, I saw the slightest trace of pinkish-orange along the black treetops in the distance.

Things were silent, except for one insanely joyous bird out by the road. From its extensive repertoire, I could tell that it was a mocking bird. It must have sung for 10 minutes when another bird joined in—a robin from the sound of things. The six o’clock rooster, to the north, began crowing nearly a half-hour early, which seemed to offend the previously sung-out four-thirty rooster, to the south, who began to answer him. A sort of sporadic dialogue seemed to go on for a few minutes until they finally declared a truce and shut up.
Through the trees, red and white lights from the airport, five miles and three hills away, twinkled through the darkness. A car came flying from the south on the road, and after its lights got just out of sight in the distance, I heard it shoot into a gravel driveway. A few minutes later, I heard a vehicle roll out a gravel drive and a slower moving small pickup soon went by passing to the south. By that time, the sky was getting much brighter to the east and the orange glow was at least one finger wide. I called it time well spent and we returned to our beds.

A little while after lunch, we returned to the porch and watched and listened. Traffic was much heavier on the road and a small jet passed over on its way to the airport. Various and sundry birds sang in the distance. Much closer, a tiny bird with a loud mouth flitted around in the treetops hollering “teacher, teacher, teacher, teacher.” Later, I would learn online that it was an ovenbird, a member of the warbler family. After a few minutes, the missus showed up, supposedly concerned about the ability of our log-haired pooch to deal with the growing heat. We went inside.

After supper, the pooch and I again spent a few minutes on the porch. I had to keep her on the welcome mat again, as the sun was creeping in toward the house, despite the porch being on the north side. All the normal daytime noises were present, but a pair of towhees soon appeared at the edge of the woods 30 feet away and began sorting through last year’s leaves looking for crawling protein. It’s funny how much two little birds can sound like a whole flock of turkeys. After spending several minutes watching them, I took the pooch inside, so I could watch the news. Old people always have to watch the news, you know, even though it’s always the same. But don’t worry, in a few hours, the pooch and I will return to our post. Plus, there’s always five o’clock. © 2016

Thursday, April 14, 2016

We’ve Separated!

Yes, you read it right. After six months of 24/7 togetherness, my wife and I have reached the point where ol’ Popeye found himself so often. We’ve had all we can stands, and we can’t stands no more. So, for the last three nights, I’ve slept upstairs—in my bed of all places. Until I started having ticker problems, we’d slept separately for years anyway, due to my horrendous snoring.

For the folks reading this who haven’t followed my misadventures this year, I took the pooch out to pee in the wee hours of the morning sometime in June or July, and ended up praying to God to get me back in the house. I felt queasy, couldn’t breathe right, and had the uneasy feeling that something might be wrong with my heart. I finally got back inside and upstairs to my bedroom but, as had been occurring some before that, I soon felt like I was suffocating and had to get up and try napping in the swiveling office chair in front of my computer. I didn’t sleep any more the rest of the night.

I had many nights similar after that, plus, I got out of breath easily and often had to stop halfway across the parking lot to catch my breath as I walked to my work truck of a morning. I felt semi-sick a lot, but I got sort of used to it. Some days, I slept sick, worked sick and went home sick. Other days, I seemed to be pretty good. A couple times when I went to the doctor, everything checked out okay. He thought maybe the blubber inside my ribcage was shifting when I laid down, causing the suffocating feeling at night and the daytime shortness of breath. I did a lot of praying for the Lord’s protection during that time.

Finally, on arriving home on the second day of October, I felt so bad that I told my wife that I needed to be checked out by a doctor. At the quick-med place, my heart wasn’t beating; it was sloshing like a washing machine. They tried to send me to the hospital in an ambulance, but I prayed and then drove myself there. I was there four days as they pumped stuff into me to help me pee off a few pounds, and gave me other stuff to regulate my then diagnosed Atrial Fibrillation.

Arriving home I discovered that my wife had moved the parlor chair from the living room, where I’d been sleeping a lot, to the TV room, which also serves as her bedroom. I preferred where I’d placed it before, right by the front door. It was handy when the dog needed to go out plus, with my legally-shortened shotgun within reach, I was in a good position to guard the front door and our vehicles just outside. Country folks have to think like that sometimes. My wife wouldn’t hear to me returning there, however. I think she just wanted to be the first to know if I croaked, as opposed to the dog finding me by the front door.

For a long time, she was more tolerant of my snoring than she used to be. And I seemed amazingly tolerant of the fact that she ran her TV all night. The pooch LOVED the fact that we all slept in the inner sanctum of our cave-like “cabin.” I got a defibrillator installed about six weeks ago, though, and I believe that the missus has decided that I’m going to live to aggravate her for many years to come. For whatever the reason, she’s been increasingly irritated about my snoring, the fact that she feels she has to keep the TV turned lower than she likes, so as not to wake me up, and the fact that my presence keeps her from doing the washing and vacuuming at weird hours of the night like she used to do. I too, have found myself less and less tolerant of an inane 24 hour diet of drama-filled TV “chic shows.”

So, I took her suggestion and tried sleeping in my bed again, as my doctor had recently suggested also (to let my legs drain off fluid at night). I’m not getting any MORE sleep yet, but it’s far more peaceful. I’ve traded butt pain, from sitting so much, to temporary back pain of a morning when I get up, as my vertebrae settle back into their daytime positions. My shins are much smaller of a morning, causing me to instantly lose two pounds (fluid). Plus, when I can’t sleep, I can either turn on a light and read, which I couldn’t do downstairs, or turn on the TV and watch something that interests ME. Yup, it looks like we’ve separated for good! © 2016

Monday, April 11, 2016

A few Thoughts On BRUCE Jenner

For lack of anything decent to watch on TV late this evening, my wife watched part of a show on Bruce Jenner and his family. I couldn’t stomach it and went online. She told me later that he now has his daughters calling him “Caitlyn.” If I were them, I’d continue to call him “Dad,” after all, he WAS the one who fathered them. She also said that the girls and their mother profess to be Christians, though one of the girls is pregnant by a rapper related to Kanye West of all people. (How’s THAT for a “respectable” reference?) Oh well, accidents happen, especially when you’re out fornicating around. I’m ashamed to say that I was doing the same at her age.

My wife mentioned that someone asked him if he could only live as one, would he rather live as a woman or a man, and he said a man. I wonder why he doesn’t do it then; I guess there has to be some reason that he chooses to hold onto his “parts.” I wonder if maybe he’s come across a way to get a lot more “action” by swinging both ways, maybe as a sort of carnival freak-show for those involved.

The family is apparently still in near constant touch with him. At least that’s what it looked like when I sat down before the silent TV later. My wife had long ago gotten bored with watching the weirdness and had muted the TV and drifted off to sleep. Watching them interact, even in silence, you could tell there was a lot of hurt in the hearts of the daughters and ex-wife. I noticed one of the daughters turn her head away when he hugged her, despite smiling to his face. They were at a fancy restaurant having dinner, and I couldn’t help but notice what a masculine, almost homely excuse he was for the woman he professes to be now. Earlier, I’d noticed that he’d kept his manly voice, too.

It was when they left the restaurant that I may have gotten a clue to what it’s really all about. The paparazzi were snapping pictures galore as they left the restaurant. You know, at one time, Bruce Jenner was America’s golden boy. He even had a picture on the Wheaties box. As the years passed, though, he slowly faded from the forefront. Some folks get addicted to all that attention and try to keep it going. Perhaps, with all the sexual perversions in the news these days, he figured that was the way to revive being in the spotlight, and maybe even up his income. So, throwing the emotional well-being of his wife and daughters under the bus, along with his own reputation, he decided to become a Frankenstein sort of half male, half female being. I guess he got the attention back. Sadly he doesn’t even have a clue as to the ultimate price. © 2016

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Baby-Sitting The Mighty Dachshund

We like to take the pooch with us whenever we can. So, since my wife wanted to go to Wally World today and pick up a couple things that she forgot yesterday, we loaded her into the back seat. (The pooch, not my wife.) As a change, the missus decided to go to the store on the far side of town. I was sort of glad, because I wanted to see if the cattails were sprouting yet.

I’ve learned that if I don’t take the pooch for a short walk after I let my wife out at the door, she spends far too long whining about her missing mistress. So, I went over to the tiny swamp (250-300 square feet) by the edge of the lot, which is marked in my foraging journal, backed into a parking space facing the little swamp, and put the pooch on a spring-loaded leash that extends to about 20 feet. Then, I flipped up the tonneau and flipped down the tailgate. Since the ground outside the berm was higher than the concrete lot, my feet just barely touched the ground when I sat on the tailgate. I was comfortable and she was happily walking through the grass, sniffing up a storm.

She slowly meandered back and forth along the little swamp, going as far as the leash would allow, then turning to do the same thing in the opposite direction. She stopped and squatted a few times to mark the new territory as her own (I suppose). I was glad that she avoided the slightly taller strip of Crown Vetch which grew on the last four feet or so before the water’s edge. I had no way of knowing what dangers may have lurked there. Eventually, she decided to rest a spell, so sat down and watched the little swamp and the cars that went back and forth about 75 yards away. The whole time, I could see her nostrils working the wind.

I knew that the cattails in the country hadn’t sprouted yet, but I thought they might have in the slightly warmer city areas. They hadn’t. A lot of folks don’t know that you can eat the very center of the first 6-12 inches of inner stalk of a cattail, when the cattails are about 2-3 feet tall. They’re white and crunchy, fairly bland, and taste a little like asparagus. Also, when the heads first start to form, and they’re only 3/8 to ½ inch across, you can eat them like corn on the cob. Most folks only eat the top half, but I’ve eaten the lower half, too, if you catch them early enough. The problem is that you have to go looking for them, as if you wait until they’re noticeable, they’ll be too ripe to use. You literally have to separate the “sheath” of the center blade to find them. Of course, you can get a lot of starch from cattail roots, but that’s a lot more effort, requiring getting into the mud with both feet and hands.

The center of the tiny swamp was long-ago eaten out by muskrats, but they hadn’t yet annihilated about a six-inch ring of cattails around the edge. Those will be easy to reach when the time comes, if I catch them before they get over-ripe. Through the shallow water in the center (about two inches) of the swamp were several criss-crossing channels, perhaps only two inches deeper some places, but still deep enough for a muskrat to paddle through. I’d seen a ‘rat there the two previous times I’d stopped by, so I held still and watched the muddy spots by the far banks that showed the recent passing of a ‘rat through the water and the entrance to its dens.

Finally, one exited a den on the far right side. Swimming nearly through the middle of the big puddle, it seemed unaware of our presence until the dog happened to see it and stood up. It picked up its pace a bit. As the pooch began to walk parallel its path, it picked up the pace a little more. When she began a slow lope, it swam faster yet, but still not in a panic. It soon reached the other end of the swamp and dove into some muddy water near the bank. As soon as the pooch realized that it was gone, the she sat down and watched the spot for maybe five minutes, until she finally bored of the “hunt” and began wandering and sniffing again.

Eventually, she left the grassy area for the asphalt and walked around to “her” door of the truck and sat down. I knew that was her way of saying it was time for a nap, so I put her on the rear seat and took off her harness. She went into her box, turned around and laid down her head. I then drove over next to the door where I’d dropped off my wife, parked and read a bit in “Julius Caesar” until the missus returned. © 2016

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Busy Afternoons And Dreading Change

Yesterday, just after lunch, the guy made his payment on a mortgage that I hold on my old home place, so we spent the afternoon paying bills. Some months, utilities are such that I run out of money before I run out of bills. This winter, I’ve actually had a few bucks left over most months. Technically, it would be cheaper to mail in all my bills but, by running all over the place, I can pay them all locally. It makes my wife happy to see them all paid in one day and it gives us “something to do.” In other words, besides being a necessary evil, paying bills has become a form of entertainment for us.

After getting home, I got a call from a fellow to whom I’d sold a sawmill frame. He’d apparently changed phones lately, and I couldn’t reach him to let him know that I’d found some more parts that I’d promised him. So last week, I put an ad in the local buy-sell-trade paper for him to call me and told the reason why. Despite having never seen the ad, he just happened to call me anyway. I told him what was up, and he came out later and got the parts. I also gave him three sawmill magazines and one book on the subject. While he was here, he also bought a couple more things from me that I hadn’t counted on.

This afternoon, we took the money and went to town. We bought a cheap lunch and then went to Wally World to stock up on some much-needed groceries. With our aging memories, it took quite a while to gather all the loot, even though we tried to combine our “knowledge” on the matter. After going home and putting the stuff away, we scooped up the Mighty Dachshund and went BACK to town, so my wife could walk a round in the mall. While she did that, I hand fed a cheeseburger to the pooch and made a couple phone calls. I’d already looked in the Chinese Emporium and learned that they didn’t carry alum. So, I called a local hardware store that sold canning supplies, but to no avail. Then I called the Kroger store and learned that they had it in stock. I stopped there on our way home and got a small can.

As we were driving around yesterday, my wife mentioned selling some more stuff, plus, selling our home in a couple years and moving to town. I know it’s the best thing for her, but I would hate it. After we got home the second time, I sat in the porch swing a few minutes, despite the cold, and thought about it all. I hate to part with the last three quilts I have that were made by my beloved great aunt, besides, such things aren’t bringing the money they were 20 years ago. I also hate to part with the little wooden rocking chair that was a wedding present to my parents from my great grandfather in 1948. It was supposed to be over 100 years old at the time. Money can’t make up for those kind of memories, still, we could use the cash and we really DO need to declutter.

As a Christian, I should probably be ashamed to say that I believe I began to die, both physically and emotionally, when I left the woods to go to the factory 22 years ago. Still, at least I was living on the land. Now, that may be only a temporary thing. As I sat in the swing, enjoying the cold country scene, I wondered if I wasn’t actually beginning the long last good-bye to my preferred lifestyle and the mourning process that it would entail. I guess at this point in life, it doesn’t matter much. In a few more years, I’ll be with the people I love and in a far better place. That’s certainly nothing to sneeze at! In the meanwhile, I’ll take my pleasures where I can find them. For one thing, my online friends have become almost like family over the years, so I’ll keep blogging and reading the blogs of others for as long as I can. © 2016

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

I’m Reading A Little Brown Book

My current read - click to enlarge.

I think I mentioned long ago that I had a few old, small books along the classic vein. Now that I have more time on my hands, I’ve decided to begin reading again, starting with some of my “little brown books,” as I call them. They’re all about the same size (approximately 4-1/4 X 5-3/4), though the thickness varies a good bit. The one I’m reading first is only a half-inch thick, including the cover, but it’s probably the thinnest of the lot. To be fair, the print is a little on the small side, too. It’s an abridged version (think Reader’s Digest condensed books) of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. It has the title printed near the top, and "Macmillan's Pocket Classics" printed closer to the bottom.

It originally belonged to my maternal grandfather. He was a different sort of fellow, the son of a different sort of fellow. Leaving the high school he was attending due to his father changing work locations, he found himself near a well-known state college. So, he started going to college. He wasn’t there long enough to even get an associate degree before they moved back to their hometown. As a result, he graduated high school at the same one he’d attended earlier, but a couple of years late.

A few years later, he got married, and he and Grandma moved to Detroit so he could go to a college there, working on the side. Sadly, he developed some severe health problems that caused him to lose his job, and he had to return home before he graduated. Eventually, he enrolled in a correspondence college and I THINK got some sort of degree, for whatever it was worth. I know that it didn’t make it any easier for him to get a decent job in this area, because he did manual labor all of his life.

Granddad was born in 1900, and probably came back from Detroit about 1929. This book was, no doubt, purchased by him either during his high school or college years, but I have no way of knowing which. Since it was printed in 1923, I suspect that it was purchased either for the Detroit or correspondence college. I’ve had the little books for over 30 years, but have only read a couple. I guess it’s time that I change that. © 2016

They had a pretty good list of titles, though I've only got about a dozen. Click image to enlarge.

Affordable Rain Barrels

For those who want rain barrels, but can't find or afford the barrels, I recently saw large plastic trash cans being used for the purpose.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Book Excerpt # 18

This is the story of Annie Weber, as told to Gorges Smythe. This entry is actually an insert for a previous post.

I’m pretty sure that I was a teenager the last time that my father beat me. I have no idea what it was that set him off; it never took much. He beat the other kids a little, but it was mostly me that he poured his raging anger out on. It may have been that he was beating Mom and I was begging him to stop. That happened a lot, and when it did, he usually worked me over when he was done with her. She never did anything to deserve such treatment either.

I remember that Dad had slapped and punched me until he finally knocked me to the floor between the woodstove and the wall. Then he started kicking me in the head and body. By this time, my mom and brothers and sisters were screaming for him to stop, that he was going to kill me. Not done, he took a broom handle and worked me over some more, while the others continued screaming. When they tried to grab his arms and legs, he’d throw them off like they were rag dolls. Finally, he DID stop.

I was bruised and bloody all over and couldn’t move. I lay there several minutes, wondering if I was going to die. Eventually, he yelled at me, “Get the hell out of there and go to bed!” I couldn’t get up, though I tried. My sister began helping me, though, and I finally managed to get up and go to bed. I remember that as much physical pain as I was in, it was nothing compared to the pain of seeing the anger and hatred that my father had for me. I never learned what it was that caused him to hate me so. I wish I could have made some sense of it, but nothing about it made any sense.

Somehow, I avoided getting beat anymore after that. Maybe, he realized just how close he’d come to murdering me and going to prison. I do know that his attitude changed very little toward me as long as he lived, only his actions. Still, he’d sit in his chair of an evening and read his Bible. I know very well that it said the same thing that mine did, so I could never figure how he justified his actions and attitude toward me. One of the last things that he said to me before he died at age 88 was a deliberate insult, despite everything I’d done for him and mom over the years. © 2016

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Last Pickin’ Fer THAT Patch!

My first picking of primarily dandelion greens at Wally World was on March 16. They were a bit small, but tender. The second picking was on March 28. I gave them to my mother, but she thought they were great. On the first of April, I picked a third time. I tried picking the right side of the patch, where I hadn’t picked before, but I discovered that the ground there was poor and the dandelions were all bloom and no plant. However, the dock was larger than last time and helped make up for the shortage of dandelions. I did find one large clump of the yellow bloomers and pulled the greens off in bulk, nearly like a cow would grab them and tear them off near ground level. Since Mom had told me that she used to eat the blooms with the greens, I took everything from that clump. That included several wide-open blooms with their stocks and several flower buds. Between the dandelions and the dock, I had a decent mess gathered, so I stopped. Later, as I sat in my truck, a big clump of clover kept waving at me in the breeze, so I hobbled back to the top of the bank and picked most of the clump.

Getting home, I put them in the fridge. My wife kept shoving food at me that evening, though, because she was hungry (she won’t eat unless I do). As a result, I didn’t feel up to eating greens. Late the next evening, I finally cooked them. I was tempted to add a couple packs of pink sweetener to help allay any bitterness, but decided I’d learn more if I didn’t. In general, the dandelions were a bit tougher and more bitter than last time, though neither was enough to complain about. The blossoms WERE tougher than I cared for, though the stems were fine. The dock was good, too. The clover leaves were fine, but the stems were a little wiry. I ended up throwing the clover stems out. All in all, I’d have to say that this picking wasn’t really worth the effort. That means that the life of this patch is somewhat less than two weeks. Next year, I’ll know that. © 2016

Saturday, April 2, 2016

35 Years In The Making!


I've lived here for 35 years now. Each spring, one lonely, stunted daffodil sprouts in the northern edge pf the parking area by my driveway. The soil there is poor, gravelly and as hard as concrete. Each year, the poor little plant either gets run over and mashed or is so delayed in its grow, that it gets mowed off before it can bloom. This year, we aren't using my wife's car much and haven't had any company. That, combined with an early spring and no mowing yet, has allowed the beleaguered little plant to finally bloom.

I think that anything so determined to add its beauty to the world deserves a break. Once it's done blooming, I think I'll move it to a safe place where it can bloom untortured. © 2016

Friday, April 1, 2016

The End Of Hammered Chicken

My wife has always been good at producing tender fried chicken breasts, though they are, sometimes, nearly wide enough to fill the plate. I learned that her secret was a one-pound claw hammer. She puts it in a plastic bag, turns it sideways and wallops the piece of chicken until it looks more like a pancake than a chicken breast. Then, she rolls it in whatever batter and seasonings that she uses and fries it up. Invariably it’s both delicious and TENDER.

I asked her once, how she came to use this method. She told me that when she began cooking for her family, when she was a little kid, that she’d heard that pounding would tenderize chicken. However, she couldn’t find anything to use the first time she tried it. So, she got her father’s hammer from his toolbox, put it in a plastic bag (rare back then) and beat the daylights out of the chicken. Since it worked so well, she didn’t bother looking for any other tool from then on.

Over the years, she continued to use the same method wherever she went. She used her first husband’s hammer until he passed away. By the time I married her, she had her own little toolbox and her own hammer. It’s been well used over the last 33 years.

A couple months ago, she went into the kitchen store at the mall and picked up one of those handy-dandy little meat mallets that the cooks on TV use. I don’t like the fact that it’s aluminum, but I bite my tongue. The chicken that she makes now seems to look and taste as delicious as what she’s always made. Still, somehow, there seems to be something missing, just the tradition I guess. © 2016