Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Too Cute, Too Useful And WAY Too CHEAP To Pass Up!

Click to enlarge image.

I was at the antique dealer's to sell some knick-knacks that had been laying around various family drawers, boxes and shelves for 50+ years when I saw it hanging on a rack behind me. It was love at first sight. I KNEW that I had to have it, especially when I saw that the price was only FOUR DOLLARS! I felt guilty even thinking about spending money for anything that we didn't absolutely need in the next week, so I turned back to the task at hand, and worked out a fair deal for the stuff I'd brought. I was actually pleased with what I was paid for a change. It was about double what I feared that I'd get. The silver baby dining set helped a lot. The dealer never cheats me, but he has to make a profit, too, so I never give him a hard time. I think he treats me as well as he can, considering the local market.

Turning back around,as the dealer helped a customer, I weighed the pro's and con's. My wife would fuss if she saw I'd bought something when I was supposed to be selling, but I'm sneaky enough to keep it from her sight. I have two manual hand-drills, but they're geared for speed, not power. They're good for wood, but less so for metal. The little brace before me had no gearing; its power was limited only by the strength of my arm and the grip of the chuck on the drill bit. With patience, it should drill metal quite nicely, and still be good for wood. The chuck seemed froze-up, but a little WD-40 should cure that - a little heat from my torch could be used if it needed more convincing. Both handles turned easily.

I looked again at the $4 price tag. I remembered that even though I'm sorting through and selling, or giving away, a few of my old tools, I'm also trying to hang onto anything that could prove useful if the grid goes down. This tool fit that bill, but it wasn't mine. Then it hit me what an idiot I was for even questioning my own good taste and excellent judgment!

I laid the little brace on the counter and the shop owner's eyes widened while his lips formed a grin. "What!" he said, "You mean I'm going to get some of my money back?" I assured him that he was. I was so pleased with the deal that I even gave him my blank penny that I'd had since I was a kid! (Heck, it was only worth 2-3 dollars anyway.)

So, my wife and I both came home happy people today, she - because I gave her more grocery money than she expected, and me - because I'd snuck the little brace into the back of the cab without her noticing. © 2016

Monday, May 30, 2016

The Three Amigos

My mom has been telling me lately about three old fellows who recently moved into her senior high-rise. The three met, hit it off and now buddy around together. One of their common interests is drinking beer. They sort of commandeered a shady spot under a big tree near the building and sat there on the benches drinking their beer without bothering anyone. However, the gaggle of little old ladies who used to sit there and watch everyone come and go (and gossip about them), apparently felt uncomfortable being in their company and moved to the building entrance to gather. That may, or may not, have anything to do with the fact that the building manager told the old gents that it didn’t look good for the business (which the high-rise IS after all) to have them sitting there drinking, so they would have to do their drinking in their apartments. They raised no argument. They DID continue to gather there, however, lunch boxes or backpacks in hand, and sip beverages from foam cups.

Mom has learned a little background on them, and told me that the youngest of them moved there from the Salvation Army. The SA began requesting that the folks who spent the night there leave by a certain time every day and return by a certain time every night. Their bed was assured, but the SA apparently didn’t feel that they had the staff to keep an eye on them 24 hours a day, so chose that method to avoid difficulties. The old gentleman began looking for a new place to stay and finally managed to get into the high-rise. He apparently was getting a small government check or something, or they probably wouldn’t have taken him.

The second old fellow moved there straight from the streets, where he’d been living and pan-handling for quite some time. He, too, must have gotten a government check, for they accepted him. When he first moved there, it was believed that he was still going out some days and pan-handling, but that seems to have stopped. Maybe he’s discovered that he can get by without it.

Mom doesn’t know much about the other fellow, except that he looks sort of rough, uses a wheelchair and seems to have few if any teeth.

A big church one block away has a meal once a week for anyone who needs it, and several of the folks from the high-rise go there. The three amigos have learned the drill and now go there regularly, too. The church often has someone there who cuts hair and shaves any of the men who want it, and the younger one recently took advantage of those services. Mom said that he looked downright distinguished afterwards.

The folks at the high-rise had their Memorial Day cookout today. The building owner furnished the hotdogs, but everything else was covered dish. As you know, most old ladies can still cook circles around the new generation, so the food was good and it was abundant. The three amigos were there and Mom said the guy in the wheelchair acted like it had been a long, long time since he’d seen such a good spread. I’m glad he had the experience.

I told Mom that maybe she should make him her project, but she didn’t take me seriously for some reason. She DID tell me though that, from her seventh floor balcony, she can see pop-top cans in the lunch boxes of the three amigos when they sit under the big tree and sip from their foam cups. Hey, what else do they have to do? If I was there, I might join them. © 12016

Sunday, May 29, 2016


We tend to spend a lot more time doing that as we get older. When I was younger, we spent this weekend, in part, traveling to graveyards in nearby counties to put flowers and flags on the graves of our ancestors. There, we often bumped into relatives we hadn’t seen for a long while, and we’d pull lawn chairs out of the trunk and sit and visit a while in the shade of the trees surrounding the little country cemeteries. Often, we’d get invited to one of their homes for a meal. Other times, we’d pull the coolers out of the trunk and have a picnic there in the shade by one of the old churches. Quite often, we’d swing by my great aunt’s little house and she insist on fixing us a full meal before we were allowed to leave. She’d have been heart-broken if we’d refused, no matter if we’d just gorged ourselves elsewhere. It was a social thing of course, as she didn’t get out-of-town company very often. Other days, we’d have family get-togethers at home, cook out, picnic, make ice-cream and visit with everyone attending. My “job” back then was mostly just to sit and listen as the older folks remembered aloud the days of the war and the depression, and of doing things the old ways. I learned a lot from those times.

These days, very few graves get decorated. People are too “busy” with their own little lives. There’s no time for remembering, or visiting, or getting together with the relatives. Heck, unless you’re one of the invading minorities, your family is probably dying off like mine. Most of my family is waiting on the other side. Those remaining never get together, even though I have some right here in town. I’m one of the old folks now, but there’s no-one to listen to my stories. Most of the younger generation has no respect for or interest in their elders. History, family, tradition and meaningful sacrifice mean nothing to them. My wife and I have learned how to make the best of our time and our own company, but I still miss the old folks and the old days, the old ways. © 2016

Saturday, May 28, 2016

The Days Go On

My funds didn’t come yesterday as they were promised; nor did they come today. So, I sold my class ring today and got enough to take the missus out to lunch and then stock up on groceries afterwards. Such items don’t seem to hold much meaning for me anymore. I told the lady at the jewelers that I have five grandkids and every one of the little stinkers go to the high school across town. Since I rarely see them anyway, I couldn’t see any reason to save the ring for any of them. I came across the sterling silver set my uncle gave my folks for me when I was a baby, too. Plus, there’s an engraved sterling fork and spoon with my name on them that must have come from another relative. Those sorts of things are harder to sell than jewelry, but I have a lead.

Yesterday evening, I picked up flowers and a flag from Mom to put on Dad’s grave. Neither she nor my sister is able to traverse the uneven ground of the little country cemetery where he’s buried. I may be slow, but I can still do the job. I went there today and took off what was on the grave and put the new flag and flowers on it. Dad was one of the lucky ones; he came home. I came across his dog tags yesterday, and I don’t really know what to do with them. I was thinking of laying them atop his gravestone, but I suppose some pervert would steal them.

The last couple days, I’ve been gathering up my CB’s, walkie-talkies and transistor radios (including a hand-crank one) to wrap and put in an EMP-proof box. Always expecting the worst, I am. I’m rarely disappointed! LOL!

I hope everyone has a nice Memorial Day and remembers with thankfulness those who have served our country, and especially those who paid the ultimate price. May God bless them, and YOU. © 2016

Friday, May 27, 2016

Aggravation And Celebration

I probably mentioned at some point that because I went in the hospital the second day of the month, many moons ago, qualification for disability was delayed for a whole month (6 instead of 5). Then, I had to wait for an additional seven weeks for my first payment. That payment is now a week past due, so I called the SS Administration about it. Some young guy with a foreign accent told me to call the card company that handles such things. He also told me that they ALWAYS pay a month behind, so I would get no double first “check” as I believed that I would.

When I called the card company, some young, know-it-all girl told me that the card hadn’t been mailed out until the day before, but should be here in 10 days or less. I mentioned to her that I’d been living on savings for 6-1/2 months and that those savings are now gone. When I asked her what I was supposed to live on, while I waited on the card that was apparently mailed out a week late, she offered to send me an expedited card to be here in two days by UPS. BUT, I had to pay $13 for the service, to be deducted from my funds upfront. All things considered, I agreed. SHE insisted that the SSA owed me TWO payments and that I need to go to the local SS office and file a report. She told me that the guy I talked to at the national office (WAS it?) didn’t know what he was talking about. UPS was supposed to deliver it today between 7am and 7pm. It’s 4pm and he hasn’t come yet.

Regardless, we did make some headway yesterday. I’d been saving our tax refund to pay property taxes, but we decided to spend enough to get the inspection sticker on both vehicles, oil changes and the needed Freon added to my truck. I hated to spend the money, and we ARE counting on eventually getting my check with which I can replace those funds. At least now we can go somewhere in the middle of the day without suffering for it, worry about the vehicles being overdue for an oil change, or get a ticket for an expired sticker (they go out the last of the month). If we can swing it, we even feel safe taking a day trip up to Amish country before long.

On an unrelated note, among a myriad of other glitches, I’ve noticed that Word’s grammar check on my computer doesn’t like the terms “both vehicles” or “the sawmill.” The folks who set the program up may have been computer nerds, but they surely weren’t English majors. © 2016

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The "Plague" Begins

There are a few of the little singers every year it seems. Like people, some are slow to develop and some are faster. I suppose that over the eons, that can make for some imperfect timing for a cyclical "plague." I'm speaking of the 17-year locust, you've probably figured out. Of course, there are also "13-year locusts," plus the cycles occur on different years in different zones. In addition, those zones tend to overlap by quite a few miles. I guess it's simple logic, then, that we'd hear at least a few every year.

As most of you know, it's not a locust at all, but a cicada. I imagine they were dubbed "locusts" by settlers to this country who'd never seen a real locust, like the ones in the Bible, but knew a plague when they saw one. Our country's version of an insect plague can certainly do a lot of damage to young trees of any kind. Fruit growers and nurserymen must knash their teeth during locust years. I have no idea their effect on corn, cotton, cane and other erect field crops. I know that there are actual grass-hopper plagues that do a lot of damage to crops and forage in some areas. The hoppers are sort of miniature versions of the locusts of the Bible, I guess you could say.

In another allusion to the Plagues of Egypt, My dad always told me the locusts were saying "pharaoh." From what I can gather, a lot of fathers have told that story over the last century or two. Can you imagine a new settler in this country seeing a locust year for the first time. They must surely have felt that it was a punishment from God, especially if they were starting an orchard.

Though I'd heard and seen a few of the big bugs before that time, my first locust year was in 1965. It was memorable not just for the sight of all those homely bugs keeping the air all aflutter at times, but also for the deafening hum that arose from the trees in the warm of the day. Like the night-time cacophony of the frogs on my granddad's swamp during a certain time of year, I can see how the sheer volume of their combined voices could drive a person "buggie." (Sorry, I HAD to say that!)

I was thinking that this would be a good year for folks with free-ranging chickens, geese and ducks, but my wife told me of seeing a few of their chickens nearly choking to death on the giant tidbits of protein. Still, some wildlife must surely have full bellies during the plagues. I was thinking that they should make good fish bait, too.

I've only heard of one person having been "stung" by a locust. He was old fellow with a history of sleeping late after a night on the town. I think he often woke up places in the out-of-doors. I suspect some maternally-driven locust climbed up on him and figured she had the softest "limb" she'd come across. That would HAVE to be a rude awakening!

We have a couple young apple trees I'm concerned about, and a pink dogwood, but I guess what will be will be. If you have them, I hope your damage is light. © 2016

Monday, May 23, 2016

Now COP’S Want A Revenge Bill!

Of course, it’s not called that; it’s being pawned off as a “hate crime” bill. The idea is that a person who murders a cop in cold blood will get a stiffer sentence if he/she did so because they “hated” cops. I guess that hatred must somehow make the cop “deader.” Funny thing, all MY life, I’ve noticed that if someone killed a cop, they nearly ALWAYS got a WAY stiffer sentence than if they’d murdered your common garden variety of citizen, like a plumber or a milkman. I guess plumbers and milkmen need hate crime bills, too! Some ignorant black dame on TV complained that if everyone was “protected,” then no-one really had any special protection. BINGO! I think that’s called “equality,” the very thing blacks and others have been saying for years that they wanted. Wonder where that “special protection” idea came from?

Hate crime bills are as moronic as “gun crime” bills. The person attacked, maimed, crippled, or murdered is no more or less dead or damaged whether the attacker hated them or not, or whether they used a gun, or an iron pipe. Assault is assault, murder is murder, and trauma is trauma. What we’re REALLY talking about is revenge. How DARE they kill one of US instead of one of those OTHER folks? We’ll show THEM! We’ll lock’em up and throw away the key (if they won’t let us hang’em)!

The problem with laws is that they ALWAYS get abused. ANY black or muslim that gets hassled or murdered by a white guy is now AUTOMATICALLY a victim of a hate crime. (It’s funny how it never works the other way around.) Every person who uses a gun to kill someone is now guilty of gun crime, even though the bank is no less robbed if the guy uses a note and his finger in a pocket. The black, the muslim, or even the cop is no less wounded or killed, whether the perp hated him or not.

I’ve got a great idea, let’s just convict criminals of the things of which they are guilty, and leave their tools or their attitudes out of it. It’s called common sense. Besides, hatred (in this case) isn’t what kills people; it’s just the emotion that LEADS some folks to kill others. Try as we might, we will NEVER be able to actually outlaw emotions. Any attempt to do so merely ushers in the Thought Police. Naturally, that’s EXACTLY what the so-called liberals (read socialists) are wanting. © 2016


Praise God, GOOD News For A Change!

Yesterday, I reasoned that the problem with my truck might be a bit of crud in an ejector. So, after letting the truck warm up, and saying a prayer, I tore out the ridge as fast as I could make the thing go in the short distances of straightish road available. I mean I FOGGED the gas to it. I was determined to either blast out the injector or two causing the problem or clog them ALL! It was running almost normally when I returned.

This morning, after putting a letter in the box for the mailman and saying another prayer, I repeated the performance. The truck is now running fine. I still,didn't find the letter in the box that I was hoping for, but I DID find our refund from the IRS. They said that I'd made a mistake and sent us an extra $100 dollars. That means that I can deposit the original amount for property taxes, as I'd planned, but I can hold out the $100 and have a little more gas and grocery money. THAT will certainly be a help. There are certain times in life, both good and bad, when $100 seems like a million. For us, this is one of those times. Maybe the other letter will come tomorrow. I'm praying! - lol

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Shame On Me!

I realize that you folks have dutifully read my whines more often than you should have to, and I apologize for that. Life can get frustrating at times, though, as you know. Things seem to have been thrown at me and my wife fast and furious lately. Added to the other stuff, my antibiotic, which often causes dizziness in others, has now decided to cause it in me (big-time), though it’s never done it before.

 As a Christian, it’s very easy to wonder why the Lord let’s some things happen. My faith is generally strong and my prayer life is pretty active. However, I often find myself apologizing to the Lord for so many of my prayers being self-centered instead of Christ- centered. I don’t go to church these days, for reasons that many of you understand. What bothers me more, though, is my lack of witnessing for the Lord, especially now that I’m basically off Facebook.

After one dizzy spell earlier today, I faced the fact that I felt tired and not altogether well, and decided to take a nap. As I do sometimes at night, I pulled my Bible from a shelf of the night-stand, only to see several days-worth of dust on it. Granted, I also keep one in my office and two in my truck, but I knew I hadn’t used them during that time, either. I was rightfully ashamed of myself for not living up to the Lord’s expectations of regularly studying His Word. Why should I expect any favors from God, when I can’t keep up such a simple part of the relationship? Luckily, God doesn’t seem to keep score too closely.

Also as I often do, I closed my eyes, asked the Lord to show me the words I needed, dropped a fingernail somewhere in the pages and opened the book. My finger rested on the first verse of the 22nd Psalm: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Why art thou so far from helping me,…” For those unfamiliar with the crucifixion, those words were quoted by Christ on the cross. Still, I’m sure every Christian has felt that way at times. Here the Lord humbled me by letting me see the dust on the Bible, but then choose a verse for me that let me know He understood how I felt. He’s that way, I’ve learned over the years.

Whenever I land on the first verse of a chapter, I consider it a cue to read the whole chapter, so I did. It had some more things that applied to me personally, but much more that applied to Jesus Himself. I was reminded of some things. Mostly though, I learned the lesson of the dust on the Bible. © 2016

Field Hawkweed - Hieracium caespitosum

Click image to enlarge.

Sorry this isn't a better photo. I left it indoors too long before I took the photo and the single blossom you see closed up. At the bottom are some links about it. Remember, I make no medicinal claims. Thanks to Deborah Harvey for putting me on track. Below is the photo that Deborah identified by the local name.



Saturday, May 21, 2016

Hodge-Podge By Gosh

This is a mixture of useless recent information about my boring life. Any resemblance of the title to a once-famous advertising slogan is strictly coincidental.

Just call me “Dolly!” Ever since my defibrillator went in, I’ve noticed that I’m growing man-boobs. The appearance is cause for enough concern to an ex-logger like me, but I’m getting REALLY tired of saying “ouch” every time I roll over in bed. About a month ago, I asked my regular doctor about my meds causing it and he said that I wasn’t taking anything that should have that effect. I’d already looked things up and knew better, but I thought I’d give him a chance to redeem himself from my opinion that he’s as worthless as certain female appendages on a boar hog. Unfortunately, he didn’t.

As it is, four of my seven prescriptions have caused man-boobs in at least some of the guys in the studies, though in a couple cases, the percentages were extremely low. I suppose it doesn’t matter if you’re not in that percentage. Still, it looks like a perfect drug cocktail to give guys of Bruce Jenner’s ilk. The main culprit, I believe is Spironolactone. Since I’ve already got a chest reminiscent of my poorly-endowed first wife, I quit taking that drug today before I began to look like Dolly Parton. Since my regular doctor can’t be trusted to know anything, I’ll call my heart doctor’s office Monday and see if there’s an alternative, or even a need for one. I didn’t take the drug until the implant went in.

I got the lawn fully mowed yesterday for the first time this spring. Still not trusting the riding mower not to break down, I started out mowing close the house and worked my way toward the road. It took about twice as long as normal due to high grass and a few leaves still remaining from winter, but it’s done now. During the process the wild turkey hen made her daily jaunt across the yard. Due to me making so much noise, she was in over-drive. Also, the guy across the road, who already mows about every couple days, decided that if I was going to mow, he was too. I finished before the rain came, but he mowed on in the rain, clumping up the grass as he went. I guess it must be an obsession for him.

I came across the straggly iris growing in the poor soil next to the woods where someone dumped some flower bed material many years ago. After seeing what my night-water did for the iris I brought from my old home place, I decided to put a half gallon around the straggly one. I’ll give it some more as time goes on. It would be something if it would bloom after all these years. I have no idea what color it would be, of course.

I went out to start my truck this morning to find that it had magically developed a miss overnight.  Like the folks on Hee-Haw sang, “If it weren’t fer baaad luck, I’d have no luck at all!” The worst thing is that the post office is taking forever to get my check to me, so we’ll be staying home until it arrives and I’ve got some repair money.

Poverty, like old age, ain’t fer sissies! © 2016

Friday, May 20, 2016

Losing Weight A Mixed Bag

I was hoping to lose 50 pounds by this point (seven months), but it’s a real struggle, mostly with water consumption. I AM down 45 pounds, anyway. Starting at nearly 430, that’s about a 10% loss of body weight. I know my heart is safer with that amount of weight off, but I occasionally have a few seconds of dizziness from some of my meds (nothing dangerous). I DO watch what I eat a little closer than I used to, but I’m really not “dieting” per se. I have noticed that my backside fits in the chairs at the doctor’s office (or anywhere else) a little easier. Plus, I don’t have such a tendency to “take the chair with me” when I stand up. That’s a decided advantage.

Unfortunately, my remaining weight still puts a lot of pressure on the sitting parts of my anatomy. That, in turn puts a lot of pressure on my aged hip-bones (as in “dem bones, dem bones, dem achy bones”). The missing padding is truly missed in that respect.

Water loss has turned out to be a funny thing to me. I expected it to be only at the lower part of my body, due to gravity. Strangely enough, I now have a crater in my belly around my belly button. The rest of my belly remains, for the most part. It HAS resulted in tightening my belt by about five inches, which is good, However, I don’t DARE take the dog outside without a belt in my jeans, or I may find my britches suddenly around my ankles. Still, the last pair of jeans I bought seemed made for Humpty Dumpty, as in all belly and no butt or thighs. As a result, my next pair will still have to be a huge size, in order for me not to blow the seams if I bend over. Fat folks get NO selection!

One other negative—I now have to sit down on the commode more carefully, because all that belly is still there, but without all the water to keep it plumped-up, it sags down so much that it tries falling into the hole before other things do. I can see how that could really make for a dandy mess if a person got careless.

If you aren’t overweight already, don’t let yourself get that way. Being old and fat ain’t no fun. Heck, even being old and getting thinner ain’t no better; it’s just different, and a little dangerous! © 2016

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Beating The News To Death

The FDA guidelines for C8 in municipal water changed today. The water is the same water that local folks have been drinking for years, so the water hasn’t changed. However, a local mayor has water being shipped in by truck and by rail, the local health bureaucracy is involved, the National Guard is going to be involved, the local 911 center is involved, as is Homeland Security. You’d think we’d been hit by a Russian atomic bomb, all because a number changed on a piece of paper. Yes, precautions probably need to be taken, but if it ain’t killed anyone in ten years, it probably ain’t gonna kill anyone overnight. Let’s get real. Of course, our local pretend TV station spent most of the newscast this evening on this bit of non-news. I got up and found something else to do for a few minutes.

A few minutes later, the national news came on. An Egyptian airliner didn’t make it to its destination. It was probably bombed, but nobody knows. It could have been pilot error, but nobody knows. It could have been mechanical failure, but nobody knows. They’re pretty sure that it DID go down, but nobody knows. They haven’t found any trace of wreckage yet, or any signal from the black box, yet speculation is rampant. They drug out information from past crashes and bombings; they went over security measures; they told us one irrelevant thing after another. The bottom line, though, is that no-one knows nuthin’! Still, they went on and on with their non-news. Once again, I left the TV and found something else to do. I just wish they’d all shut the heck up until somebody knows something.

The bad thing is that both stations will continue beating these subjects to death for weeks UNTIL NO-ONE EVEN CARES! I wish someone would simply report the news and move on. © 2016

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Conservatives Still Can’t See islam

Eight years ago, it was obvious to me that Obama was an Arab and, probably, a muslim as well. We were at war with Arab muslims at the time, so it seemed ridiculous to put an obvious enemy in the White House. America didn’t see an Arab, though; they saw a “black” man, though he’s 44% Arab, and only 6% black. (Incidentally, the government requires that you be at least 12% of a certain race before you can claim that race as your own; ask the Native Americans.) So, they elected a man with no track record, No answers to our national problems, and an obvious dislike for the very nation that had allowed him to become the “success” that he was, MOSTLY BECAUSE HE WAS “BLACK” Of course conservatives didn’t vote for him, but they’re in the minority now, anyway. They DID, however, refuse to believe that he was a muslim. Besides, it was only the “radical” muslims we were at war with!

Seven years have passed and Obama has bowed before muslim kings, acknowledging their rank over him and his subjection to Sharia law while in their kingdom. He has prayed at various mosques, armed our enemies, turned his back on our friends, and imported thousands of muslims into this country, including many KNOWN terrorists. He has openly attacked Christianity, while actively promoting and protecting islam. Yet most people, including most conservatives, still refuse to label him as a muslim. Worse yet, they still pathetically insist that we are at war with “radical islam.”

NEWS FLASH – ALL muslims are what we call radical, it’s just that we only recognize the ones carrying guns, blowing up innocent people, raping women and children, and torturing and murdering non-muslims. We won’t accept that those quiet, sneaky muslims living next door are simply waiting for the right opportunity to join their more active brothers in evil. READ their Koran. READ world history concerning islam. They are ALL out to ultimately convert the world or destroy it!

And STILL, even most conservatives won’t admit that Obama is a muslim, and that we are at war with ALL OF ISLAM, NOT just a radical few. It turns out that we are a nation of morons, so I guess we deserve our coming destruction, at least those who voted for Obama and those who will vote for his bought and paid for follower, Hillary (or worse yet, not vote at all). © 2016

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Still Saving Water And Sawing Wood

No, the two aren’t related except that it’s me doing it. I’m still taking sponge baths every day or two and trying to shower only once or twice a week. The smell of my hair is what my wife sometimes complains of. She has quite arid skin and hair; I lean a bit the other way. So, if she mentions my hair, I shower. Still, I notice that our water bills are about $5 lower these days. As near as I can figure, I’m saving about 800 gallons a month. The $5 is no biggie. However, if a person is using a small spring, or shallow well as a water source, that translates into 27 gallons a day. That could make a big difference to some folks. Remember, too, that by bathing less, I require fewer towels and less soap; plus, since I try not to change clothes as often, that’s less laundry (as with the towels). Therefore, the water savings has to be attributed somewhat to the other changes, not just bath water. And there’s a slight savings in detergent costs. Just thought I’d pass that along for other strange folks like me.

I sawed quite a few branches off the fallen oaks in the backyard this evening. I’m using a 24” bow-saw left over from my Christmas tree growing days. The blade is dull and needs more set, but it eventually gets through the 2-5” limbs, despite running a bit to the right. I have the skill and the tools to remedy that situation, but when I was working, the money spent on a blade was less valuable than the time I’d spend sharpening one. Now that I’m not working, I should probably reacquaint myself with the saw vise, the tooth setter and the three-corner files that the job requires.

Despite having to take a breather occasionally, I was ready and willing to keep going, but I forced myself to stop after a few minutes. I quit cutting Christmas trees nearly 15 years ago, so I didn’t want to be so sore in the morning that I couldn’t use my arm to help me climb out of bed in the morning. It’s only four hours later and I already feel some slight soreness. I wish my legs had retained the same proportional strength that my arms have. Oh well, Good Lord willing, I’ll drag those limbs to the brush pile tomorrow and give those legs a workout. © 2016

Monday, May 16, 2016

Frailty, Thy Name Is Old Age (apologies to Shakespeare)

Remember the name of my blog? “Grouse” isn’t only a noun meaning a bird. It’s also a verb, meaning to gripe or complain. Knowing my own negativism, I used the verb meaning as a noun (improper, I’m sure) to sort of mean “Gorge’s Complaint.” The bird sitting on my lap is strictly a visual pun; I don’t really have a pet grouse. I have Photoshop and the guru to thank for that picture. That said, on to my curmudgeonly grump.

Today, I started the lawn mower for the first time since it came back from the shop. I was hoping to mow a little bit around the house. That would make it easier for the dog to do her duty, and make it a little less snaky. Unfortunately, only the left-hand blade would cut; both  of the blades were working fine when it left for the shop. Strange!

I mowed the doggy bathroom part of the yard, even though I had to cover the ground twice. I remember thinking that the blade bearings didn’t sound too good. Just after I finished that section, and was going to the front of the house to mow a little in along the porch, there was a big “clunk” and the left blade quit turning, also. I can’t get down and check things out like I did when I was younger. It’s aggravating.

I called the shop and they said that they could probably pick it up this evening. I asked about a loaner, but the guy said that he didn’t have any used mowers left in stock. So, despite noticing that the rest of my lawn is dry enough to mow, also, it remains shaggy. Between rain coming all too frequently and the mower being gone for a couple weeks, the front lawn is beginning to look like an African savanna. I’m beginning to get a little nervous about lions. The neighbor across the road mows his lawn nearly every day. I suspect he’s hoping that I’ll take the hint. I’d mow our yard if I could, but I really couldn’t care less if it bothers the neighbor when I don’t. He’s only “distantly friendly” anyway and besides, I’m a curmudgeon; remember?

As I sat there in the porch swing stewing, I remembered the leak in the roof above my office that I can’t get to. And then there’s the slight leak around the chimney, which needs torn down anyway, except I can’t currently climb a ladder to get on the roof. (I seem to have lost most of the strength in my hips for some reason, and it looks like it’s not coming back.) Of course, that means the gutters still need cleaned, too. I AM making a little progress on the downed trees in the backyard, but it’s slow.

My truck needs a state inspection sticker by the end of the month, but I have to wait until my money comes. I need an oil change, too. I remember my days of employment when I could either do such simple things myself, or more easily hire them done. Oh well, at least I’m above the sod.

To close on a more positive note, the irises are looking especially nice this year; maybe it’s all that “night-water” they’ve been getting since I moved back upstairs to sleep. My wife would raise a fuss if she knew where it was going, but “what she don’t know don’t hurt her” as they say.  ;-) © 2016

Saturday, May 14, 2016


I don’t know how else to describe my feelings after talking on Facebook to the young man that I’ll call Jack. I met Jack on a previous job and enjoyed getting to know him, despite him being young enough to be my son. He was grossly overweight, like me, and struggling with the problem. Maybe the sympathy factor was part of the attraction, since I knew one of his demon’s personally. However, he was also very intelligent, more intelligent than I, I’m sure. And his knowledge was surprisingly eclectic. There aren’t very many fellows that age who can carry on an intelligent conversation. Though his father is still living, I developed a sort of paternal feeling towards the young man. I even went to the boss when I felt that he was wrongly accused of causing some ongoing vandalism there. Unfortunately, he was let go for the vandalism of which he was supposed to be guilty. I should NOT have been amused when the vandal stuck again two days after Jack left, BUT I WAS!

The problem is that Jack, for all of his intelligence, has been thoroughly and completely brainwashed by the educational system and the modern media. He was planning to vote for Bernie Sanders, and I’m sure he did, despite 100 million people being murdered by socialist countries in the last century. He doesn’t see the connection with the white-headed little old man who’s never done an honest day’s work in his life, yet wants to take money away from anyone who has. Surprisingly, he IS against gun control, but he spouts the gay rights dogma and the beliefs of the “pro-choice” crowd. I’m sure his live-in girlfriend is of the same thinking. He claims to believe in God, but he doesn’t accept that God considers homosexuality an abomination and that a woman’s body belongs to GOD, NOT to her (as does a man’s).

Indeed, “religion” is my greatest concern about him. He’s the same age (28) that I was when I was saved, but I fear he’s far, far away from that decision himself. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry a few years ago when he told me that he was “many things” in a sage-like manner. He believes that he’s a combination of Christian, muslim, hindu, etc, believing that they all have strong and weak points. I don’t think it sunk in when I told him that anyone who claims to have many religions actually has none at all. After all, any actual religion demands 100% commitment, so you can’t truly be part one and part another. Like many folks, I guess he’s created his own religion. Despite what he may think, that makes him his own god.

By worldly standards, Jack is a really good guy, generous, kind, understanding, and friendly. By godly standards, Jack is just another hell-bound sinner. Naturally, he can change that fact, but he has to take God more seriously and his own opinion a whole lot less so before that happens. We’re saved by the blood of Jesus, not by the mind of man. I pray for Jack every day. It would be such a shame for such a basically good young man would go to hell. The sad truth, though, is that hell is full of well-meaning, lovable people who never conquered their ego long enough to hear God’s truth. I hope Jack doesn’t end up being one of them, but things don’t look good. Still, I’ll keep praying for him, and a whole lot of other Jacks and Jills; but THIS Jack breaks my heart, because I know him so well. © 2016

Friday, May 13, 2016

The Power Of Persistence

Persistence is all I have these days, or maybe it’s just stubbornness. I don’t have the energy to work at anything headlong like I could at one time. Five or ten minutes is about all I can handle, and even that is distributed between numerous stops to rest my muscles or catch my breath. I’m no good on slopes, either. My balance isn’t so bad standing, but I have trouble moving on any ground that isn’t flat these days, I don’t know how to explain it. Of course, it would help if my weight loss hadn’t made my shoes at least a size too large. I’ll be glad to get some new ones soon, when I begin having a little cash to spare again.

Of course, the treetops that I’m working up in my back yard are on a slope and are being drug about 50-75 feet to a brush pile on an even steeper slope. Still, my five or ten minutes a day is already making a difference in less than a week. Someone else might not see it, since so many folks only see done and not done. Being the one doing it, though, every day, I notice there are fewer limbs that need moved and the brush pile is a little bigger. I’ve been using a little bow-saw to cut limbs to length. It’s lighter to carry than a chainsaw, isn’t hard to start, and is SO much quieter! Besides, it gives me a little additional exercise. Unfortunately, I’ll soon be at the point where I run out of limbs small enough to cut with my little saw. Then, the Stihl 660 comes out.

I wasn’t always so persistent. In my youth, I’d sometimes fly into a project like I was killing snakes and then throw up my hands when things seemed to be taking too long. Then it was off to the next project. I think a lot of kids are a bit like that. Some never grow out of it.

I may be old, but I’m not stupid. A few things actually sunk into my thick skull over the years. One of them is if you don’t have the tools or the skill you need, use what you DO have. It sure beats sitting around complaining about things. Another thing I’ve learned is that ol’ Aesop was right; sometimes the tortoise DOES win the race. © 2016

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Philadelphia Fleabane (Erigeron philadelphicus) (w/pic)

Click image to enlarge.

This is another plant common to my area that I can spot from my porch swing. I probably would have called this Early Fleabane with the book. That’s where a good, clear photo from online can make a big difference. Below are three links for those who wish to read about it. Remember, I make no claims for its usefulness for any purpose.


Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Lyre-leaf Sage (Salvia lyrata L.) (w/pic)


Click image to enlarge.

I’ve got a book on wild plants that I’ve had for 43 years now. It’s not the greatest, but it’s all I’ve got. It’s been on many a trip to the mountains and quite a few outings for camping, fishing or hunting when I was a young man. I still use it occasionally, when something rouses my curiosity. I decided years ago that a plant which grows commonly in my area was heal-all, and have told others that was its name.


Like the Rattlesnake Weed from the other day, I’ve got a few of these plants growing in sight of my porch swing. Today, I just wanted to check my memory, and be sure that I wasn’t confusing it with skullcap, so I looked it up in the book. The more I looked at it and read the description, the more I decided that it was something else entirely. In the book, it wasn’t so clear, but online photos decided the matter. It turns out that it wasn’t heal-all a bit more than anything, but Lyre-leaf Sage. Like many plants, it has some supposed medicinal properties, though I make no such claims for it. Here are some links if you’d like to read a little about it. © 2016










Rattlesnake Weed (Hieracium venosum) (w/pic)

Click image to enlarge.

There are at least four plants in America called “rattlesnake weed,” so I guess it depends where you live, which one comes to mind, if you’re a knowledgeable person on wild herbs. The species that’s growing in my backyard is Hieracium venosum, a member of the hawkweed family. I’ve seen it all my life, but never knew what it was until I looked it up yesterday. The hairy leaf stems and lower edges, and the hairy bottom veins and lower stalk confused me for a while, since the book said the leaves were very smooth. Technically, though, the flat parts of the leaf WERE very smooth, and pictures online made it much more obvious than the line drawings in my book exactly what I had on hand. It was supposedly used by Native Americans and early settlers for various medicinal purposes, including the treatment of snake bite. I remember it being mentioned in an article in the Foxfire series. I make no claims for the plant, but I did put three links below, for those who’d like to read a little on it. © 2016


Tuesday, May 10, 2016

"Uncommitted" Delegates

My county only sends 22 delegates to the Republican National Convention. Amazingly, there were over 300 candidates for those 22 positions. I believe that shows how deeply emotional this election is for many of us. Personally, I simply voted for the first 22 candidates in the alphabetical listing that had admitted that they supported Trump. The time for such statements must have been long ago, for every former presidential candidate was represented, though all but Trump had dropped out.

The shocker for me was the number of uncommitted candidates. I've never had much use for people who can't make a decision. Sometimes ANY decision is better than none. Plus, everyone has the right to change their mind. I just don't see how anyone paying attention to the news, whatever the source, cannot have formed an opinion about which candidate is the most responsible in their eyes. Frankly, I have more respect for the supporters of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton (though they should be shot for treason) than I do for uncommitted delegates. Since they don't have the ability to form an opinion, they really have no business running for a position where such a monumental decision is required. Besides, after the first vote, if no decision is reached, they ALL can choose to change their vote.

The scariest thing to me is that voters in the general election are the same way. Think about it, the very survival of our nation is not decided by dedicated liberals or conservatives who work and slave to forward their ideals, however right or wrong. The fate of our nation ultimately is decided by the wishy-washy, indecisive, often ill-informed people who have no idea just who in the heck they will cast their vote for until they reach the voting booth.

Still, I have more respect for those voters than I do for uncommitted delegates, because I feel that vast numbers of those delegates are simply advertising that they’re for sale to the highest bidder. Yes, I’m a cantankerous, opinionated old curmudgeon, but that’s the view from my ridge! © 2016

Random Thoughts And BUY MEPPS SPINNERS!

Some new-found grocery money was burning a hole in our pocket, so we hied off to the Chinese Emporium this afternoon. First, though, I went up the valley and voted. Then, I had to go to Kroger’s and get some dope. I have seven prescriptions now, plus a Vitamin E supplement that I take every day. I then stopped at Mom’s and gave her a belated Mother’s Day hug, since I hadn’t been able to make connections with her Sunday.

I’m sorry to say that neither my mother nor my wife has voted since they went to electronic voting here (10 years ago?). I truly believe that’s why they went with it, since so many older (and thus more conservative) voters would feel uncomfortable with it. I was against it because I realized the ease of hacking it, but progressives wanted it, citing “hanging chads.” Interestingly enough, the first case I heard of hacking was down south, where someone had it rigged so Trump votes were deleted in the REPUBLICAN PRIMARY. If they find a way to steal the nomination from Trump at this late date, I may do like Pumice is considering and not vote for the office of president. Unlike many folks, I see Cruz and his ilk as being part of the same herd of swine swilling slop at the government trough as is Hillary.

You know, I used to think that stores had way too many handicapped spaces but, over the last five years, I’ve seen them get to be always full, instead of always empty. We baby-boomers are fading fast! I had to stand my ground at both Kroger’s and the Chinese Emporium to keep others from stealing my spot.
Once inside, I was amazed at the number of people parking buggies in the middle of the aisle and going way down the aisle somewhere to gawk. It also aggravated me to see so many people having chat sessions in the aisle intersections, thus blocking folks in four directions People are so self-centered anymore!

There was a poor robin flying around in the store, not knowing how to get out. I suppose they just fly about spastically until they drop from dehydration or starvation.

Anticipating coming into a few bucks at a later date, I’m thinking of getting my fishing and hunting license this years for the first time in MANY years. Looking at fishing equipment, I noticed that everything that I picked up was made in China, even one-time American standbys like Zebco and Shakespeare. I decided to stick with my original plan to just use a green branch for a pole. At least it will be made in America! However, good ol’ Mepp’s is still churning out spinners right here in the good ol’ US of A. SO, PLEASE, anyone who uses spinners, buy MEPP’S spinners and keep America working!

I worked a little in the backyard when I got home. Just a few minutes a day is already showing some progress in cutting up the trees lying there. Also, though it was catastrophic in some ways my loss of computer files recently could have been worse. The same glitch that moved some files and deleted them, moved and saved others. It’s still aggravating, though. © 2016

Friday, May 6, 2016

The Only Tool You Need

Many moons ago, a lot of poor but adventurous souls hiked into the wilderness to forge a new life with only two pieces of hardware, a muzzleloading rifle (or a fowling piece), and an axe. With those two tools, they would shoot game, build traps, clear a spot in the forest, build a cabin and start a garden patch. Of course, some who were better-heeled would take a few other tools (picks, hoes, froes, etc.) without handles, which they’d then make and install once they reached their destination. I remember reading once that the Scandinavians used to say that saws were for people who had no skill with an axe. They often used theirs not just to chop, but to hew, plane and carve. I wouldn’t have wanted to give up the chainsaw or sawmill in my younger days but, even then, everything started with the axe.

Dad always used double-bitted axes. One bit was kept with a slightly blunt grind and was only moderately sharp. It was used to grub brush around any tree to be felled, so we wouldn’t trip and be hurt in the process. The other bit was literally razor sharp, to the point of being capable of shaving hair from your arm. We always had bald spots on our arms in those days, from testing the sharpness of the chopping bit and chopping was, indeed, what it was used for.

Chainsaws were a real godsend compared to doing everything with a cross-cut saw (though Dad was expert with it, too, and I was passable). Back then, however, chainsaws were heavy, awkward things compared to what we have today. As a result, after the tree hit the ground, we would grab our axes, take opposite sides of the tree and cut the ends from limbs and chop the small and moderate-sized ones from the trunk. We’d then put the small end of each limb on the ground, hold the larger end with our left hands and whack the smaller limbs off the pole that was left. That required choking up on the handle about 2/3’s of the way, in order to maintain good leverage and safety. We’d then throw the poles in a pile for firewood.

Lastly, using the axe and a rule, we’d mark the tree into log lengths, cut off any large limbs that remained with the chainsaw, and cut the logs to length. The main change that I made after Dad passed away was to use the newer, lighter saws to cut the limbs off, and use a logger’s tape, or even my marked axe handle to measure logs to length as I went. I’d then return later for the limbs, if I wanted them. Times were changing, though, and the firewood was growing less valuable proportionally. In my area, it still brings about the same money that it did 20 years ago, so its value hasn’t even begun to keep up with inflation.

One last point about the axes we used is that we always used “eastern” style axes, which had sharp angles at the corners of the blade, as opposed to “western” style, which had rounded corners. The reason was that we did so was that the heel of the blade (lower corner, next to the handle) could be used as a pickaroon (or hookeroon) to roll and shift logs. Western timber was, undoubtedly, too large to be handled that way, so no corner was needed. Incidentally, despite one link I used, I DO NOT advocate buying any axe from Mexico or China. Stick with American made, Canadian or Scandinavian axes. © 20106

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Tools Of The Trade (pic and links)

I mentioned in a previous post that I used to roll logs with cant hooks. That’s not the only tool that we used for such things, though. A Peavey hook (originally made for use on log rafts) was equally good for rolling logs, but also had a pike point, so you could use it like a crowbar to “jump” a log forward or backward, or to chock the log, so another worker could roll against you, to swing an end around to better align the log with where you were going. They also had the advantage that you could jam them in the ground and they’d remain upright, sometimes a handy thing, especially when you were working by yourself and didn’t want to waste time bending over to pick up your tool. The point got lost from the last peavey we had, so I replaced it with an old harrow tooth and poured lead around it to hold it in place and it worked fine. I later donated it to a local museum, along with some tools from my granddad’s oilfield days. Incidentally, the crowbars that I speak of aren’t the little nail-puller type, but simply a long, heavy, straight rod of steel, with a point on at least one end.

The other day, when dragging poles out of the yard, I used two other tools; one was a pair of “pulp tongs,” like a miniature version of skidding tongs for pulling logs, but with a handle instead of a ring. They could be really handy for moving the old five-foot lengths of pulpwood, or firewood, for that matter.

The other was what we always called dad’s “log hook,” a yard-long piece of 7/16 steel rod with a cross-handle on one end, and a sharpened hook on the other. It was like a long-handled version of a pulp hook, but used very differently. He used it on the skidway of the sawmill to roll logs down TOWARDS himself from the sawyers position. Sometimes, he could do it without getting in front of the log. Other times, he actually stood in front of the log and rolled it, not a good thing if your eye-foot co-ordination wasn’t good. He could have used a pickaroon the same way, and sometimes did. (Ours was technically a hookeroon, but we called it a tie pick.)

His log hook was made by the old gentleman who used to live across the road. You can see where he tapered the end of the rod, so it would fit tightly in the straight-sided hole bored in the handle. The slightly protruding end of the rod was then peened over a washer to hold it in place, possibly while red hot. Of course, the crook on the end was made by pounding the other end around the horn of the anvil and sharpening it. My time in the shovel plant lets me see that the handle is a rejected “cob,” the wooden cross piece in the “D-handle” of a short shovel handle. The big worm-hole that caused its rejection is still obvious. They used to give such scraps away for firewood, so I know how the old fellow came by it.

The other day, I used the log hook as a cane part of the time, and to pick the end of some of the poles up, so I wouldn’t have to bend over so much. Then, I used the pulp tongs to hold onto the poles as I drug them to the brush pile. Just because something was made for one job, doesn’t mean that you can’t use it for another! © 2016

Dad's log hook and my pulp tongs - click image to enlarge.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Faltering, But Forward

I cut a few smaller oaks in my back yard a couple summers ago. Various things conspired to keep me from cutting them up, so I agreed to let my cousin cut them for firewood. Then he bought a fixer-upper house and never got around to cutting up the oaks. Finally, the neighbor asked if I was going to use them and I told him that they were his. He promised to get them, but went into the roofing business on his own and wasn’t getting started on the oaks. Another neighbor happened to see them and asked about them, but I had to tell him that they were promised to the first neighbor. Now, winter is over and the oaks are still there. SO, now that I have a heart condition, but plenty of time, I will have to work the oaks up on my own. No problem, it’ll just take a while.

I was able to sell a half-face cord of wood I’d stacked up in the front yard. A pile of poles nearby had lain there and collected stray leaves all winter and looked really trashy, though. So, I had to cut a few greenbriers to clear a path to a brush pile over the hill a slight distance, so I’d have a place to put them. They were sort of doty* and not worth making into firewood by this time. It was no small task to hobble back up the slope with my cane and grubbing hoe, but hey, I need the exercise.

Back in the day, I routinely rolled 1000 pound logs with nothing more than muscles, patience and a cant hook with a four-foot handle. Today, it was all I could do to hobble 75 feet dragging 50 pound poles downhill. It’s really hard on my fragile male ego to admit that I ain’t but a 20th the man that I used to be. It was drag one or two poles and then sit for five minutes to catch my breath. I wasn’t exactly “settin’ the woods on fire!”

Now, I have a brush pile below the back yard on a gentler slope but which has WAY more greenbriers to cut. Then, I have all those trees to work up and brush and poles to drag. There will also be some firewood and maybe some small logs, unless they’re too far gone. That should keep me busy for the remainder of May! © 2016

*Pronounced with a long “O,” like soda. It’s an old logger’s term for pithy or half-rotten. Non-loggers sometimes used to raise an eyebrow when they’d hear one of us comment about a log being doty in the butt (lower end of the first log in the tree).