Sunday, August 28, 2016

On Seeing A Former Friend

I was at Kroger’s the other day, picking up some legal dope that’s supposed to partially offset the effects of a lifetime of bad health habits. As I was ready to leave, I parked the electric cart in the row with the others, looked up and saw Jack. He was a former coworker whom I once considered a friend of sorts. We stayed in touch on Facebook, even after the place we worked closed down. My instincts were to wait a minute, in hopes that he would look up and see me. I would then have given a small wave and a smile before exiting.

I realized, though, that he may have already seen me, and was hoping that I hadn’t seen HIM. I also remembered that he was the one who ended the friendship, such as it was. Jack objected to me referring to Arabs as A-rabs. Since his wife was Lebanese, he felt I wasn’t as respectful as I should be. Now I never referred to her personally with the term; I just used it in a general way to refer to folks from that part of the world that happened to worship Allah, instead of YAHWEH. I think he knew that, but he was still offended. I don’t know if he would have preferred “ragheads” or not, since I guess that WOULD have ruled out the females of the group.

Like many Lebanese, Jack's wife was Catholic, as was Jack. We’d discussed Catholicism and Protestantism and held similar views about the weaknesses of both, so I don’t think our parting had anything to do with me not holding the pope in any great reverence. No, he just considered it a personal affront that I used a term that I’d grown up with, just like I-talian for folks who came from Italy. It’s sort of a colloquial thing I think; a LOT of the old-timers used the terms without meaning a thing by them, including my uncle who landed at Anzio to help free them from the Nazis.

Perhaps it was Jack’s Pittsburgh upbringing that caused him to find my explanation unacceptable. He was better educated than I and had worked for one of the big papers there a few years. I, on the other hand was just an old red-necked hillbilly full of BS and country outlook. I told him that I was sorry that the term offended him and that I certainly didn’t want my terminology to have that effect, but I never apologized for using the term itself. I figure that if I can embrace being a “red-necked hillbilly,” terms that many deliberately use in cutting down folks like me, he should be able to handle “A-rab.” Apparently not, though, for I noticed a month or so after our last conversation, he dropped me from his friends list.

I won’t say that I was heart-broken; we weren’t THAT close, but I’d always enjoyed his company and conversations, and his action saddened me. Still, I don’t think a person should have to go around walking on eggshells to get along with somebody. I gave the matter some prayer, and nothing earth-shattering was opened up to me on the matter. I did remember, though, that the same Book that warns us about the tongue also tells us that we’re to be slow to take offense. I don’t know if that was supposed to be my answer, or if it was just my own subconscious trying to salve my concerns. I DO know that my day was a bit sadder after seeing Jack again. © 2016

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Sticker Shock – Déjà Vu All Over Again

I can’t afford to get all the stuff I need to fix the roof at one time, so I’m getting what I can, as I can. The other day, I stopped in at the local hardware store and got a couple pounds of inch-and-a-quarter roofing nails. They didn’t have the old-fashioned hot-dipped galvanized style. All they had were the mirror-finished electro-plated ones. They look like they’re so slick that you should be able to push them in with your thumb. With their non-functioning pretend “rings” up next to the head (where the shingles would be, NOT the wood) I suspect they’d pop back out just about as easily.

The bad thing was the price. Two pounds of them won’t quite fit in one hand, but would easily fit if I put both hands together. The price? $6! That’s three dollars a pound for junk nails that I can only HOPE will stay in place, and will probably start rusting if someone simply mentions the subject of humidity. It’s been a long time since I bought any roofing nails, because I think I paid about 50 cents a pound for them.
I got to thinking, and it COULD have been as long ago as 1995 since I did any major construction on the house. That means a six-fold increase in about 20 years. I suppose that wouldn’t be considered unreasonable by many, but my working income only doubled in that time, and my “retirement” income is the same now as my working income was back then.

I got to thinking and decided that the last time that I used roofing nails was to lay some roll roofing. I think I paid $15 a roll for it. It’s $90-95 a roll now. About the same increase as the nails! It’s hard to have an income from 20 years ago and have to pay modern jacked-up prices for everything. I used to just blame the international bankers for devaluing the money. Then I learned what Lowe’s and others pay for some of their products. Now I realize that it’s the greed of both the bankers AND the retailers that causes the problem. I don’t blame the mom and pop stores like I went to, they often have to pay jobbers almost as much as retail, just to get the product. Hard times are comin’, folks, companies care nothing for their customers anymore and will squeeze the last penny from us (if the government leaves us any in the first place). © 2016

1st Side Story From Annie Weber’s Bio

My mother was raised for several years on Slate Creek, out at the far end of the county. She told me that once a month, her folks would go to the county seat to buy supplies. Mom and her younger brother were the youngest in the family, so her folks always took them along rather than leave them at the farm. It was apparently quite a trip, for they’d start long before daylight with the old horse and wagon. There was a place to hang a lantern on the front left corner of the wagon, in part to help them see the road and maybe to help in passing, if they met another wagon.\

They’d spend a few hours getting to town, and then a few hours shopping, before heading back to the farm. Before leaving for the country, her folks would buy them each a bottle of pop, plus they’d get some cheese, bologna and crackers. On the way home, she and her brother would sit in the back of the wagon and eat and drink until the pop was gone and their stomachs were filled. She said that it was sometimes four in the morning before they got back home. It made for a long day for everyone, including the horse. © 2016

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Third Cutting, Yellow Jackets, GOOD Honey And Poor Hygiene

I got the lawn about 2/3’s done yesterday. Due to foul weather and mower breakdowns, it was only about the fourth time for the year. It looked about like what our third cuttings of wild hay used to look like on the farm. Any clover or orchard grass had been lost to the hot weather or the deer. That left a little “fall grass” (crab grass), some form of small foxtail, broom sedge, various other green plants of unknown name and worth and what my dad called “greasy grass.”  I don’t know its official name, but it has purplish-colored seed-heads and leaves a dark oily substance on your fingers when you rub your hand through it. Some of the broom sedge was three feet tall! I mowed very slowly, but the job was still a bit rough-looking. It’ll look a lot better if I can mow it again soon.

About twenty minutes from “quitting time’ yesterday, I felt a familiar sensation on my left side, swatted a bit and floored the mower. Yep, yellow-jackets! It had been so rainy this spring that I hadn’t really been watching for them. STUPID mistake! FIVE minutes from finishing up today, I got lax and felt TWO familiar sensations, one on the back of my left arm and one on my left hand. Once again, I swatted and gunned the mower. I’d been over the spot several times and thus considered it safe, but not so.

Tonight, I went out after dark and found the first nest and gassed it good. I couldn’t find the second one though, and a couple of the little devils started flying around from the light, so I’ll try to mark the nest with a stick tomorrow and get them that night. Last night, I learned that acetaminophen and Chlortabs do nothing to lessen the ache of a sting. Tonight, my wife found some Sting-Kill, so I’ll see how IT does.

A friend of my sister lost her husband last year and his beehives died last winter, as well. I understood that she had several gallons of honey that she needed rid of and called her recently, offering to buy some. It turned out that I had heard wrong, but she sent me a little tiny jar of what she had for free, unexpected by me. I’ll have to send her a thank you card. I put it in the little bear that I’d gotten at Walmart, and it was so stiff, compared to the phony stuff that Walmart sells, that I can barely squeeze it out of the bear! It’s good, dark fall honey, like I prefer, so it tastes much better, too.

I SHOULD go shower, but I’m going to put on the Sting-Kill and go to bed grubby. (You can do that when you have your own bedroom and no job to be at when six in the morning rolls around.) © 2016

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Three Weeks+ With A C-PAP Machine.

Some folks thought that I'd take a while getting used to having air blow in my nose but, actually, I had no trouble with it even the night I tried it during the test at the hospital. I have to use the little gizmos that fit over the nostrils rather than the whole nose, since the bridge of my nose is too narrow for the regular type to seal properly. I was told that I might lose a little weight after using it a short while, but that hasn't really been the case with me. For one thing, I've been on water pills for quite a while and have lost about 45 pounds of total fluid. Since I figured any weight loss due to the C-PAP would be fluid related, I really wasn't expecting much. Plus, the doctor said my apnea really wasn't that bad, so that would seem to predict a limited influence, also. What DID happen is that my weight has seemed to stabilize. The last three pounds that I had lost previously would be gone one day and back the next, like a yoyo. Now it's stabilized at the lower number. That's good, I guess. Also, I seem to be sleeping longer at a stretch most nights, in spite of still waking up to get rid of "water." - lol - That's good, too, I guess!

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Something Of Their Great-Grandfathers'


Above, you see a brass belt buckle, a chromed belt buckle and a cloth measuring tape. The brass buckle and tape belonged to one relative and the chromed buckle to another. I’m not sure just how I ended up with them, but they’re mine for the present.

I never remember the old gentleman wearing the chromed buckle, but then, I wasn’t around him much. He would have been 50 years old, when it was made in 1930. As a result, I don’t think he would have bought it for himself. At that time, he had kids ranging from five to 20, so I’m guessing it was either a Christmas or birthday gift from one or more of them, but I have no way of being sure.

I remember well the gent who wore the brass buckle. He wore it for years with a cloth military-style work belt. The belt got replaced a few times, I think. The tape was his, too, though I never saw him use it. I certainly don’t need these items. I have memories of both men, so these small mementos will soon be the latest victims of my “ridding out.” I know a great grandson of each man, so I’m going to pass them on. I hope they take care of them, but neither met the original owner. I still have a LOT of items to go, mostly small, so you might see a few of them. © 2016

As Of Late

I haven’t done much keeping you informed lately about my exciting life and brilliant thoughts, so here goes:

I went to the quick med place the other evening with chest pain. I thought it was my gut, but with Congestive Heart Failure and A-Fib, I figured that I’d better get it checked out. It WAS my stomach, but the doctor sent me to the ER to have my blood checked to be sure. I turned out to be fit as a broken fiddle, so they sent me home.

The AC in the truck isn’t quite keeping up on hot days, nor is the one in the house. The truck probably needs Freon, or whatever. As for the house, we’re cooling more of it than we need. There’s a big beam and a row of posts going down the center of our house and I’d like to put a curtain along the beam to block off the half we never use anyway. The missus says no, so the AC and heater work harder than needed and the bills stay higher than we can afford.

I wish my wife hadn’t gotten so prissy in her old age. If she’d eat what I could forage, hunt and fish for, I think we could reduce our grocery bill by a third.

I picked up a package of oranges at Chinamart the other day. I’ve never eaten TOUGH oranges before. They’re moist enough, they’re just tough! While there, I procured three electric buggies in a row that were so low on charge that I knew better than to use them. I plugged them all in as people quite using them and finally found a fourth one with a full charge, not that it worked exactly right.

While there and in another store, I looked for some rope. You can’t find either manila or nylon rope in the junky stores anymore; you have to go to a legitimate hardware store. All the cheap joints have are paracord, jute twine and poly. Poly turns to shreds in sunlight before long, so I consider it worthless.

The weatherman keeps predicting storms, but all we ever get is a few rumbles of thunder and a three minute down-pour. We need rain BADLY. Still, the grass needs mowed, since it’s been WEEKS since the last mowing. However, when I went to start the mower yesterday, the guy from the shop had accidentally left the switch on and the battery was DEAD from sitting there that way for two weeks. It wasn’t a new battery to begin with, so I don’t know if it will take a charge still, or not. Sing along with me, “If it weren’t for bad luck I’d have no luck at all…”

SOME of you may remember, many decades ago, when it was popular to get your blue-jeans long, so you could turn up the bottom of the legs. I always have to do that anymore, since the manufacturers think anyone as big around as I am must be about eight feet tall. My wife just heard today, on the TV, that the style is coming back. OF COURSE IT IS! I always have been a trend-setter!

With that one, the “Sage of Tick Ridge” bids you a good day! © 2016

Friday, August 12, 2016

Just Enough Christianity To Offend EVERYONE

I was raised in the Methodist Church, but I wasn’t saved until age 28, in a Baptist church. Solely to placate my wife, I joined that church. When we got a devilish preacher, a few years later, we dropped out of that church and joined another one. A few MORE years later, gossip got so bad there, that we quit going to church altogether. That was probably about ten years ago. Strangely, our faith in the Lord is even stronger today than it was then, because He’s made His help and presence known multiple times since then. The last few years, He’s helped us through the most financially stressful times of our life, in ways that can only be explained by His grace.

I’m blessed to have a pretty good selection of Christian friends online, and have a prayer circle of sorts. And they’re from all around the world and of many denominations. One or two even come from a denomination which thinks it isn’t a denomination!

Now I’ve always been open about the fact that I don’t agree with most organized churches. Each one has its Eleventh Commandment because, after all, God sometimes forgets things (at least that’s how I assume they would explain their addition). Then there are the “Christ based cults,” as some folks call them. This term is usually explained by saying that any denomination that puts the words of a man, or men, above the words of the Lord (the Bible) is a cult. This would include the Catholics, the Mormons, the Amish and a few others, perhaps. I basically agree with that definition. The Jehovah’s Witnesses, on the other hand, simply threw out the parts of the Bible they didn’t like, including Jesus.

While I don’t believe as they do, I NORMALLY resist the urge to belittle their denominations. This is NOT because I will “tolerate” anything, as some supposed Christians appear to do, but because I’ve seen that within each denomination, there are at least a few folks who appear to believe what the Bible says over what their denominational leaders say. I don’t hide my beliefs from those people; I just don’t dwell on the issues on which we disagree. After all, my understanding of the scriptures is far from perfect also. I DO have to wonder why they continue to remain in a denomination which they know is corrupt at the higher levels, as well as continue to support it, but that’s their problem.

For that reason, I find myself often not reposting “Christian” posts on Facebook. I may, at heart, agree with the post but if its main purpose appears to be simply the bashing of another denomination, I just pass on it. (I also ignore the ones that demand that I type “amen” to prove that I love Jesus, in fact, I block the original source when possible.) So, I will at times post things that you MIGHT find offensive to your beliefs but, rest assured, it’s nothing about you personally. Also, I may turn around and quote the very person or denomination I just posted negatively about. The reason? The truth is the truth, even when it appears in unexpected places.

So, “that’s the way I roll” as they say. I’ll give you the same opportunity, so I figure that’s fair. I MAY not even disagree with you if you step on my toes (but that’s not a promise). LOL  © 2016

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

A Short August Porch Sitting (Discussed In A Long-Winded Fashion)

I hadn’t been asleep since 4:30 anyway, so I got up early today (by my standards) so I could go to the chiropractor and get cranked on, and then go to my doctor’s office for a blood draw. By the time I got home, I was tired from lack of sleep, so I went back to bed for a while. It was 11 when I got up, and the Mighty Dachshund needed to drain. Afterward, we sat on the porch a while. The past month has been hot and rainy here. It’s been too hot to sit on the porch through the day and too buggy at night, so the poor pooch hasn’t had much time on the “promenade.”

Today, it was only about 80 degrees at the time, so I thought I’d give it a try. The weatherman said there was a good chance of at least one thunder shower today, but the cloudiness helped keep the temperature down, so that was good. The humidity remained high, of course.

There wasn’t a leaf stirring, but it wasn’t bad outside for just sitting. A cold iced tea for me and a cold bowl of water for her might have made it better, though. It was surprisingly quiet for that hour of the day. At first, the only obvious sound was that of the rain crow (flicker), down in the woods, mournfully wailing away about the coming rain. What he/she was doing in the woods, I don’t know, since I usually see them more in the fields. Eventually, the yearly cicadas (as opposed to the 17 year variety, now gone) began singing, and I realized why things had seemed so quiet. They stopped after only about five minutes, though, and the near silence resumed. Even the rain crow had stopped its wailing. Some real crows raised a fuss over on the neighbor’s place for a couple minutes and then settled down.

Gradually, the sounds of man began to creep in. First the sound of a small aircraft could be heard as it climbed into the sky. Five minutes earlier, it would have been taking off from the local airport about five miles away. It hadn’t been gone long when what sounded like a school bus was heard in the distance heading our way. It turned out to be one of the neighbors in his 2-1/2 ton commercial box truck. It has about an 18 foot box, and logos on the side, but it doesn’t mention the kind of business, only the name. Since I’ve never met the guy, I have no idea what he does. At least we wave when we pass. I never dreamed that the day would come out here in the country when I wouldn’t know a guy who lives less than a quarter mile away. Anymore, they come and go like city folks—here for a year or two and then gone.

Another small plane could soon be heard, that one coming close enough that I could see it through the treetops as it climbed through the hazy air. A few minutes later, I was concentrating on the pattern of the moss on the white oak beside which our first dachshund is buried. While noting the crude heart shape of the mossy patch, an older car rumbled by on the road, but I didn’t look up until it was mostly hidden by brush. I got the impression that it might have been one of the old muscle cars. Five minutes later, I heard it coming back, so I made a point of watching for it. It turned not to be a muscle car, but a Chevy Impala two-door from the late 60’s. It’s shiny grey metal flake paint and the sound of what must have been a souped-up engine, made me think that  it was probably the driver’s pride and joy. He wasn’t moving fast, but I got the distinct impression that he could if he wanted to!

After a little more comparative silence, my wife came to the door to see if we were still among the living, so I knew she was bored and lonesome. With that, the mighty Dachshund and I returned to our air-conditioned “cave’ to watch the TV with the missus. I’d have preferred to have stayed outside a bit longer, and so would the pooch, but you know how it is when duty calls, especially if there might be ice cream involved eventually. © 2016