Sunday, October 25, 2015

Changes And Updates

It’s been tough trying to cut all the salt out of my diet. The food companies are so good at sneaking it into things that you have to read EVERY label, and you STILL can’t avoid it all. I always had more of a weakness for salt than sugar, especially potato chips, so it takes a concerted effort to keep things in line. I got some salt-free chips today, for the first time in months, and enjoyed them. I really don’t need the starch or the grease either one, though. The flavor in boughten food comes from three sources, salt, sugar and fat. You can be sure that if they cut one, they’ll double up on the others.

When the cardiologist prescribed a couple blood thinners, he warned me about one of them. He said that if I started getting blood in my urine, I should stop taking it and call him. So, you might guess that the blood showed up after business hours on Friday. Guess I’ll call him Monday morning.

It’s been three weeks since I’ve had any income, so I’m back to selling things to buy groceries. Luckily, I have a few things that I actually WANTED to sell, so it’s working out okay. One guy brought his grandson and bought the anvil today. By cutting him a deal, I also got him to take a set of iron wheels and a cattle stanchion. The lawn looks neater, especially since I sold the big grindstone the other day. Less to mow around!

Tomorrow, I have to deliver a Ruger 10/22 that I’m selling. I’m keeping the one with the trigger job that has a two ounce trigger and a 3x9 scope. I guess it’s time to sell my 1860 Army reproduction, though. It’s never been fired, so I may actually get more out of it than I paid for a few years ago.

I’m really enjoying having the time to do some serious porch-sitting. I’d like to get a blanket to wrap up in during cool times, but it makes more sense to just drag out my over-size hoodie. I just prefer a blanket, for some reason.

I’m still having trouble with the cellulitis in my right shin. It keeps getting better, but NOTHING seems to knock it completely. Doc actually had the nurse give me a shot in the bum two days running, in addition to changing me to a high-powered oral antibiotic. I guess time will tell.

It looks like I’ve got another busy week of visiting offices and shuffling papers. I suspect I’ll be doing so the rest of my life. I’d rather be fishing. © 2015

Friday, October 23, 2015

Ain’t Nuthin’ Simple No More!

Ever since I got out of the hospital on the 5th, I’ve spent at least a small part of each day shuffling paperwork and/or running said paperwork to one office or another around town. I’m tempted to say that it would have been simpler to have died. However, my wife’s first husband passed away young, and she assures me that his death came with truck-loads of paperwork for her. I AM going to be able to get some help with my medical bills, thank goodness. Some places, though, I didn’t qualify because my life insurance policy has a little bit of cash value! I guess unless you’re already living off the kindness of strangers, the government really just doesn’t want to help you.

Also, one of my brake lights burned out recently. Several good Samaritans and one cop have told me about it. There problem is, with my recent medical problems, I haven’t felt like emptying the back of the truck and removing the bed liner so the little flexible guys at the shop can get to the tail-light. Today, I finally had the energy to empty the bed of tools and such, planning to take out the bed liner. Once empty, however, it became that the liner couldn’t be removed without first removing the tonneau cover. Since it needs removed and resealed already, that means a trip to the place that installed it, and the need to spend some money.

After cleaning out the truckbed, I came in to check Facebook about some things I’m selling. While on Facebook, I read where a woman was complaining about folks who share her posts without “liking” them. Apparently, some folks are offended by that. Personally, I got tired of checking some likes and shares, only to find it’s the same post. That takes up time that I really don’t have. So, I’ve pretty-much let my curiosity go on the “likes” and even some of the shares. I commented on that and the lady told me good-naturedly that I was one of those that did so and annoyed her. She’s a good Christian lady, and many of her posts are religious, but that strikes me as letting your ego get tied in with things. Since I don’t know how many other folks feel that way, I may just cut my reposts way back. That would save time anyway.

If it wasn’t for the increased time that I now have to porch sit, I believe I could let all this kind of stuff get my blood pressure up! © 2015

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Wasting The Heads

If you think about it, I’m sure that you’ll remember seeing pictures of the old days where someone is proudly bringing a whole roasted animal to the banquet table. Usually, they were calves, pigs or hogs, especially the latter two. Often, such swine would have a whole apple in their mouths as roasted garnishes. If you think a little harder, you may also remember pictures where it was only the head of a hog or pig being served. I assume those were served in homes that couldn’t afford a whole animal.

I’m not sure just why we got so squeamish that we refuse to eat the end of a critter that does the eating. We certainly have no qualms about curing and eating the end of the hog where the poop comes out. Only a hundred years ago, headcheese was still a common food in many homes. In one of the Foxfire books, an elderly lady receives a pig’s head from a neighbor that butchered and is tickled pink with the gift. Of course, the old timers always said that they used every part of the pig but the squeal, with even the feet, tail, ears and mountain oysters all used, along with the intestines, hide and other parts.

I think about such things every year when I see the head of nearly every slain deer laying on the gut-pile for the possums to find. Have you ever noticed how much meat is usually left on the head, and the bit of neck that’s often attached? Plus, there’s the tongue. The brains may not be safe anymore with some of the diseases going around, but they used to be fried up just like squirrel brains. (The brain was my paternal grandfather’s favorite part of the squirrel, I’ve been told.)

I suspect a couple deer heads would provide a good meal for a family that didn’t have much else. I don’t think I’d let my kids go hungry over squeamishness. Even now, we eat more head parts than we think. I’ve seen “beef lips,” tongue and udders mentioned as ingredients in hotdogs and bologna and, frankly, that doesn’t bother me nearly as much as the chemicals and salt with which such products are loaded.

Fish heads are another wasted resource. I used to pull out the fins and cut the body loose from the head just behind the gills on the panfish I used to catch and fry. Sometimes, I’d follow the example of others and even cut the tail off. Eventually, I learned not to bother removing the fins OR the head. I fry them whole and get the little piece of meat that usually gets wasted at the back of the head, plus, the jaw muscle on each side is worth eating, sort of like the claw meat in a large crawdad or small lobster. The top fin now guides my fork as to where to start rolling off the meat, plus, I eat right back to the tail, while I’ve seen a lot of folks whack a good-sized bite of meat off with the tail.

Personally, I enjoy the extra food and hate to see such things wasted. However, I suspect if hunger ever gets really common in this country, we may once again see fish cooked whole, ox and hog heads roasted and head cheese made in home kitchens. © 2015

Monday, October 19, 2015

A Worthy "Heir"

It's hard to know what to do with some things when you get old and want to thin out your "stuff" a little. Some things I still keep for myself a few more years. Some, I give to relatives. Some, I give to friends. Some things, I sell, and others have absolutely no value of any kind to anyone, except the memories that they elicit in me. Those last things, I take a good look at, revel in the memories and then throw away (if I choose not to keep them).

As for the things that I give away, I try to pick folks who either know, or at least appreciate the story that often goes with an item. Sometimes, though, it's the uniqueness of the item, or the information it contains (as in books) that's important. People who truly appreciate such things are rare these days.

I have found one young man who will end up with a few of my things. He's not related, but is a former coworker. Except that he's not a Christian, I'd be proud to call him my son, but he already has a father. Still, some of his interested are such, and his appreciation enough, that I'll be passing along a few items and several books to him. He's had a rough life, partly from his own doing, but he's learned a lot through the years, and he deserves a little appreciation of his own. Maybe someday, he'll have to think about what to do with his own stuff but, for now, I hope he just enjoys life. Copyright 2015

Sunday, October 18, 2015

"If Wishes Were Horses...(pics)

...beggars would ride," my maternal grandmother used to quote to me regularly, along with "The road to Hell is paved with good intentions." I guess she had her reasons.

One thing I wish is that the old family sawmill still sat in what is now my front yard. My wife would hate it, but I'd love it. I spent many a good day at the place and, once I reached age ten, I helped saw a lot of lumber there, for the next five years or so. But, alas, the old mill was sold, after Dad got a bigger mill and put it at the farm. The power unit was moved to the new location, and a neighbor gave Dad a few bucks for the shed. It was dismantled and reassembled on the guy's nearby farm to serve as a livestock and equipment shed.

It was only a two head-block mill, but it sure sawed a lot of lumber over the years. I'd love to still have that ability. Below are three shots of the place. You might know that I don't have one good photo of the place that holds so many memories for me. Still, I enjoy looking at the photos that I do have.

Exterior shot, with family friends in foreground.

Interior shot showing end of shed away from highway.

Interior shot showing end of shed toward highway. The phone pole you see in the background is where the big light was installed, after the lumber theft mentioned in an earlier article. My father and grandfather are sawing. The onlookers were on a tour put on by a local lumber company (Elston's, of Marietta).

Yup, wish I still had that little mill and shed. I can't think of a better hobby! Copyright 2015

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Dad’s Mortar Box And My Educated Cousin


I think Dad already had the first story of our 40x60 foot barn laid long before he got the mortar box. Back in those days, a lot of folks built their own from lumber or plywood. Since Dad had a sawmill, I figure that a homemade one was what he used at the time. Sometime before I hit my teens, though, he got a new steel one, in part because it was so much easier to keep a steel mortar box clean than it is a wooden ones. It measured 30x60 inches, and was probably what they call a nine cubic foot model.

Over the years, it got a lot of use around the farm. It was also used to mix all the mortar, and some of the concrete, for the place that I’ve called home for 34 years. Along the way, it was loaned to my maternal grandfather and a couple other folks with no ill effects.

At one point, though, it was loaned to the youngest son of the aunt and uncle who lived across the road from the farm. I don’t know what his project was, but he was duly warned to clean it up well after each use. Unfortunately, he had his Masters degree by that time and thought that he knew more than God. As a result, he decided to wait until he was done with the whole job before cleaning the box.

You can guess the shape the box was in when Dad got it back. We stood it inside the barn and chipped away on it at odd times. Eventually, we got it relatively smooth, but we never got it completely clean. We cleaned it scrupulously after each use ever since, but a slight skim of concrete remained on much of it. I dug it out from under the rear deck today, so I could get a photo to help in selling it. Some of the concrete from my educated cousin’s use remains even yet.

I heard, recently, that he’s spending his retirement playing video games online, no doubt vanquishing most comers and proving how “smart” he is. I guess it just shows that you might be able to teach a guy chemical and electrical engineering, but you can’t teach him common sense or responsibility. © 2015

Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Great Lumber Heist

It was a dark and stormy night. No, seriously, it really was. And, it was made worse by the fact that the lightning had struck a line or pole somewhere and Tick Ridge had been plunged into pre-Rural Electrification darkness. The talented Jack (of all trades) and his wife (The Cat Lady) sat in the light of their kerosene lamp and watched for the occasional set of cars lights to go ambling by on the gravel road just twenty-five feet from their front door. Otherwise, the pouring rain kept visibility to zero, except during sporadic flashes of lightning.

At one point in the storm, they heard a slight noise on their front porch, followed by a rap on the front door. Even before opening it, the two upright glass panels in the upper half of the door showed them it was a stranger who stood on their porch in the dim lamp light. The stranger explained that his truck was having transmission problems, and that he was going to park it in the yard of the sawmill across the road and walk to get his uncle, who was a good mechanic. He said that he was afraid to leave the truck unguarded and asked if they’d keep an eye on it while he was gone. They agreed, at which time the fellow left and backed the two-ton truck way back into the mill-yard, nearly out of sight.

For the next couple hours, the storm raged, with wind, pouring rain and lightning. Knowing that no-one with a lick a’ sense would be out in such weather, they didn’t watch the man’s truck too closely. Finally, a flash of lightning showed two men climbing into the truck. Soon after, it came growling out of the mill-yard, sounding as if it was all it could do to pull itself. No lightning flashed as the truck turned onto the gravel road and headed away, so Jack didn’t get a look at the truck through the pouring rain.

The next morning, the sun shone brightly as my dad, the mill owner, pulled into the mill-yard to look for damage to the sawmill shed from the storm. The shed was fine, but he noticed that something looked different in the yard. It took a couple minutes before he realized that a pile of lumber that he’d spent that week sawing was missing. When he went to the Jack’s house to ask if they’d seen anything, he learned the story. Dad reported the theft to the sheriff, knowing it would probably be a waste of time. A deputy stopped by and asked Jack and his wife a few questions, but you can’t describe a truck you haven’t seen. In fact, it’s hard enough to describe a man of average build, of average looks, in average clothes who was standing in the near darkness of lamp-light.

Nothing ever came of the report. The pouring rain had washed away any clues that might have been left in the dirt of the mill-yard, and Jack could add no helpful details. It was a hard lesson for a poor hill farmer to lose a week’s work, but we survived. Dad DID put a dusk-to-dawn light on the phone pole along the road. He figured that it might help keep down some of the ongoing mischief at the yard, as long as the lightning didn’t knock out the power.

This all happened in the early 1960’s. The mill is long gone, but a light still shines from the pole, only now, it shines into my front lawn. Despite what my title infers, nothing that happens here on Tick Ridge could ever be described as “great.” However, the event was boldly executed, it left the neighbors talking for weeks and the theft was a sizable loss to my father. I guess it was great enough by country bumpkin standards. © 2015

Thursday, October 8, 2015

A Few Details

I'd mentioned before that for over three months, I've been going to  work sick, working sick, going home sick, going to bed (chair) sick and repeating  it all over again. I had “good” days and bad, however. The good days were bearable, and the bad ones made me wish the Lord would come ASAP. Thursday of last week was an especially bad day. After I got home and ate, I felt even worse. I knew that SOMTHING wasn't right, so I went to the local quick clinic to get checked out. After doing an EKG, They tried to get me to take an ambulance to the emergency room, saying that I was in A-Fib, but my wife and I prayed and I drove there without incident.

A couple more tests and X-rays and the doctor began treating the condition with medication. They kept tweaking my meds until Monday afternoon and then let me go home around supper-time. Despite upping my fluid pills, it wasn't until almost my release that they told me to cut back on fluid consumption. Go figure! Home had never looked so beautiful as I pulled into the driveway. Inside, my wife had moved my chair from beside the front door to her little TV room where she and the dog sleep. After propping up my feet and putting in earplugs, I slept better than I did at any point at the hospital. My legs and feet are still swollen horribly and hurt rather badly. The skin on them is hard to the touch, from the pressure within. I hope I don't still have cellulitis, but the right one remains red.

The last couple days have been busy ones, from tying up various loose ends that such experiences are good at producing. I'm too “rich” to get any breaks on my hospital bill, but I might be able to get half pay or less on sick-leave. Time will tell.

I was pleasantly surprised that my stepson mowed our lawn, moved my computer downstairs, and put in a new kitchen light for his mom. Even though I thanked him profusely, I doubt if he knows how much it meant to me.

Today or tomorrow, I'll be trying to get the ball rolling on getting disability. I doubt if I'll ever be able to drive truck again. They say that it takes two years and an attorney to be successful in getting disability. Many folks die before ever drawing a check. I guess that's how they want it.

One thing is for sure, if the Lord’s willing, I'll have plenty of time to sort my personal stuff, catalog old family photos and write! Copyright 2015

Monday, October 5, 2015

Hospital Visit

For those who wondered where I'd been, I went into the hospital Thursday evening with A-Fib (Irregular heartbeat) and didn't get out until today (Monday). It may be a day or two before I can get back into the swing of things, but I'll get back to blogging soon in some capacity. Thanks for your concern.