Friday, June 30, 2017

Just Another Day

I took my wife to Chinamart to get her hair cut. It’s about the only place she can afford anymore, and even there, it varies from girl to girl. I did my best to beat in some time, but ended up sitting by the magazines on the handicapped scooter I was using and trying to nap. It didn’t work; it never does.

I DID get a laugh while I was there. I once worked in the Ames shovel factory here, before they moved most of their production to China and the rest to Pennsylvania (to be done by Mexicans). As a result, I can’t resist checking Chinamart’s tools to see what sort of crap Ames is putting out. Today, I saw a sharp-pointed wooden-handled “digging shovel” shaped like an elongated pentagon, with the company name deeply embossed on the blade in letters probably 1-1/2 inches tall. Can you imagine trying to get red clay to let go of a blade with such a texture? Laughable if it wasn’t so stupid. The blade looked just like the ones on the shovels Ames used to get in from Mexico on occasion. We laughed at the pine handles, too,back then.

I’d planned to do a couple things today, but the plans of the missus always seem to interfere with my plans, so I ended up not doing diddly-squat. It didn’t help that I was up late last night reading an editor’s handiwork and writing a sidebar and so slept later than I intended. Whenever I get paid for the story (probably autumn), I’ll have to use the funds to have one of my molars pulled. Another chunk of it about the size of a small pea came out tonight. I hope I can wait that long, or I’ll have to raid my truck-repair budget.

For a couple years, I’ve had two plants at the edge of my yard that have concerned me. They look somewhat like berry canes, but appear to have a zillion more briars. Just by chance, I found out on the internet that they’re wine berries, a type of Asian raspberry. THAT’S a relief. I looked at them again today and they have a good-many berries, but the birds will probably get them before they ripen.

We dropped by my stepson’s for a few minutes this evening so the missus wouldn’t forget what he looked like and so she could give our youngest granddaughter a couple little patriotic bracelets for the Fourth. I was glad to hear that the granddaughter is going to a camp this summer where they spend a lot of time outdoors and (hopefully) learning about nature. That will be good for her. I guess she isn’t going over to visit her mom anymore, as her dad says the woman is hanging with druggies again. She’s got a new baby (illegitimate) which she’ll lose if she falls off the wagon. Some folks never learn,

Time to go. Hope your day was more thrilling than mine! © 2017

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Nothing Exciting Here

It was awfully hot here the last week or two. Between the heat, our schedules and my low energy levels, the last jag of tacky wood from the back yard finally just got cut to length today. That was after me trying to get to it for a couple weeks. When it’s split and stacked, I’ll advertise it cheap for campfire wood, since it’s too buggy and punky for other use.

The lawn is past due for a mowing. It’s not so heavy, but the plantains have shot their heads up several inches in the air and look really ragged. Of course the neighbor is still mowing ten times to my one, but that’s HIS problem. Looking at all those plantain stalks, I remember when I was a kid and we’d fold the lower stalk over the upper and pull back until the head flew off. We thought it was neat to “shoot” one another with them.

I’m not getting any foraging done these days. I used to do a good bit when the missus was in Chinamart, but now that she needs me to get the heavy stuff, and I have to pick up Mom’s groceries as well, I just don’t have the time. The milkweed and the cattail heads both got too far along before I noticed. I need to remember to check them both the first of June and then keep watching.

A guy followed me nearly the whole way to town the other day, mostly at the speed limit, and then passed on a double yellow line with a bend coming up. The only places that I dipped below the speed limit were on some rough spots and a couple bends that are banked reverse from what they should. He flew me the bird after he passed, too, despite being more than old enough to know better. Some folks never grow up and stay trash all their lives.

Our nearest Chinamart had just closed down the other day when we arrived. It turns out they had a water main burst directly over the customer service area. I guess they ended up with four inches of water between there and the pharmacy. They opened again the following day with the cleanest floors they’d had in YEARS!

My wife got a big fern for the front porch a few weeks ago. It wasn’t real green when she got it, and she’s neglected it slightly with the water jug, so it’s not improved its appearance any. Tonight when I took the pooch out, I poured a half-gallon of well-fermented night water in the huge container in which it’s planted. I hope the breeze takes the odor away by morning or the missus will beat me about the head and shoulders if she figures things out.

Well, on second thought, there MIGHT be some excitement soon! © 2017

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

My Most Treasured Books (w/pic)

Click image to enlarge.

I’ve decided to sell some of my most treasured books. It’s not that I’m desperate for money, though more is always better. It’s that I pretty much know how to do those things that I’m able and willing to do at this point in my life, and I’m just too unhealthy to start many of the things that I’d once planned to try. And so, I’m offering them to you folks before I advertise them elsewhere.

You might call them original homesteading books for the “back-to-the-landers” of the Great Depression and the war years. With a couple exceptions, they are compilations of articles about things that folks can do to better their lives. Considering when they were written, quite a few articles are hopelessly out of date. However, many more are timeless—just as valid today as when the books were first published. These books contain ways to recycle, to do your own plumbing, electrical and construction work, and build everything from bird-houses to homes for people. In between are shelters for swine, fowl, sheep and cattle, and equipment to handle them with. There is advice on how to set up the home shop, how to do finish work and build doors, do metal work, and make lamps, furniture and crafts (mostly for men). There are also plans for “toys” for both kids and adults. The books are listed below:

Carpentry, by Gilbert Townsend, basically a start-to-finish book on homebuilding from the craftsman era. Originally copy-righted in 1918, this is a 1943 printing.

Make it Yourself-900 Things to Make and Do, originally published by Popular Mechanics in 1927, this volume is in new condition and was republished by Lindsey Publications in 1998.

Five Acres and Independence, by M.G. Kains –  1944 printing of the 1935 timeless classic on all things homesteading.

380 Things to Make for Farm and Home by Glen Charles Cook, a book on improvements mostly with wood and concrete, still valid today, 1941

500 More Things to Make for Farm and Home, also by Cook – one of the most varied books for ideas, 1944

It’s Fun To Make It Yourself by Stacey Maney – a lot of general wood-working, furniture making and metal work, 1944

Farm Mechanics – Text and Handbook – by G.C. Cook, L.L. Scranton and H.F. McColly – the actual mechanical section is the most out-of–date of any of the books, but it has excellent sections on welding, construction, heating, plumbing and lighting, 1946

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Listening To The Rain

Only a couple minutes after I posted a couple old family heirloom rocking chairs on Facebook, a lady wanted them and said she’d send her husband out just after dark tonight. I hated to part with them, but we have no-one to pass them on to and we need to declutter some more. I remember the one chair in my parent’s home from my earliest days. It was a wedding gift to them from Mom’s paternal grandpa in 1948, and was over 100 years old even back then. The other is a Shaker rocker and sat for many years on the front porch of the Jenny Lind home of some elderly cousins in the Volcano, West Virginia oilfields.

The tater wagon had been making circles around us for a couple hours or better, before it finally began raining early this evening. I was sitting on the porch enjoying the wind and the distant rumbling until huge drops of rain began falling and within a couple minutes turned into a downpour. Soon, the wind picked up a bit more and my seat in the porch swing was no longer a dry one, so I went back in the house.

About 15 minutes before the earliest the guy could supposedly come for the chairs, I went out and sat in the truck. The wind had died down, but I knew that the mosquitoes would soon find me in the swing, whereas I’d be safe in the truck. The rain was coming down at a pretty good clip, so it made an obvious clamor on the roof of the truck. It reminded me of the days when I was a kid, and would open the door in my bedroom to the back attic room so I could hear the rain hit the tin roof on that part of the house. During the day, I’d sometimes sit on the back porch when it was raining, since it also had a tin roof.

I sat in my truck for 45 enjoyable minutes before the guy showed up. During that time, I didn’t hum or whistle, nor did I play the truck radio. I did like I did as a kid and just sat and enjoyed the experience, though I DID watch the deer wander around the neighbor’s yard across the road. I can only imagine a kid of today sitting quietly for 45 minutes listening to the rain—no talking, no texting, no video games and no fidget spinners. Times have changed; people have changed; thank goodness the sound of rain on a tin roof remains the same. © 2017

Saturday, June 17, 2017

More On Music

The missus wanted a salad badly enough today that she was willing to buy it, so we ate at Wendy’s before going to Chinamart for our main weekly grocery run. As we ate, she grumped about the loud and lousy music. She was right about being loud, but the music was from my youth, so I rather enjoyed the trip down memory lane. The missus is just enough older than me that she doesn’t care for the music that I listened to as a kid and young adult.

One number they played was from Saturday Night Fever. I didn’t remind her that I once knew the line dance from that show. Nor did I tell her that, during those days, I had a leisure suit, a “Disco Joe” shirt as we jokingly called them and a pair of platform shoes. Pretty strange threads for a kid who liked everything from classical to bluegrass and usually dressed in a T-shirt, jeans, a straw hat and a pair of western boots with traces of real honest-to-goodness horse pucky in the welt.

When I made my customary visit to the men’s room before leaving, they were playing the Cat Stevens’ version of “Another Saturday Night,” so THAT was the song that stuck in my head today. The words aren’t anything special, but I like the sound.

I’ve been lucky the last couple times that I’ve been in restaurants that their playlist was of original music, not flaky repro stuff by unknown bands. I stopped in a fast food joint on the far side of town to use the john the other day where that wasn’t the case. The beginnings of two songs played while I was there and on both, the band and singer sounded just like the originals for about two lines, then the sound went to total crap.

I’ve heard it said that one of the surest signs of old age is when the music of your youth starts turning up on the playlists of elevator music. That began about 10 years ago. So now you know folks; I’m officially over the hill! © 2017

Friday, June 16, 2017

Meds And Music

No, I’m not buzzed out on painkillers and listening to old records of acid rock. Those are just a couple subjects that I dealt with today.

I went to see one of the nurses at my heart doctor’s office and she found where I can get my cheap meds cheaper and my two expensive meds for free, UNLESS some unforeseen problem comes up. Afterward, the missus took me to the sign of the tarnished arches for a late breakfast. Personally, I wouldn’t go there as long as they have queer fries, but the missus was paying, so what the heck. As we ate our sausage gravy and biscuit, we were noticing how one of the “songs” playing over the PA system managed to have a repetitive pattern to it, but with no melody and no really definable rhythm.

After that, I sat in the truck a few minutes with the AC running, while she ran into Chinamart to get some milk. During that time, I was wondering if, years down the road, the young people would discover the idea of melody again and think it was something entirely new that they invented. A wonderful old song came to my mind and got stuck there, as sometimes happens. Have you ever heard the old song “After the Ball?” Before we came home, my water pill struck and I had to stop at a fast food joint to drain. While there, Marvin Gaye’s version of “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” was playing—a very different classic from a very different era.

Here’s a link of a 1925 recording of “After The Ball,” and further down are the words that are closest to what I remember (There are different versions, including parodies.)


A little maiden climbed an old man’s knees—
Begged for a story: "Do uncle, please!
Why are you single, why live alone?
Have you no babies, have you no home?"
"I had a sweetheart, years, years ago,
Where she is now, pet, you will soon know;
List to the story, I’ll tell it all:
I believed her faithless after the ball.“
”Bright lights were flashing in the grand ballroom,
Softly the music playing sweet tunes.
There came my sweetheart, my love, my own,
‘I wish some water; leave me alone.’
When I returned, dear, there stood a man
Kissing my sweetheart as lovers can.
Down fell the glass, pet, broken, that’s all—
Just as my heart was after the ball.“
”Long years have passed, child, I have never wed,
True to my lost love though she is dead.
She tried to tell me, tried to explain—
I would not listen, pleadings were vain.
One day a letter came from that man;
He was her brother, the letter ran.
That’s why I’m lonely, no home at all—
I broke her heart, pet, after the ball."
After the ball is over, after the break of morn,
After the dancers' leaving, after the stars are gone,
Many a heart is aching, if you could read them all—
Many the hopes that have vanished after the ball.

I Guess I’m An Arminian – as opposed to a Calvinist

I find it interesting that some folks can speak of both predestination and “the joy that passes understanding.” I realize the term “predestined” is used in the Bible, but even after many years of reading and trying to study God’s word, I continue to believe that what is alluded to is “foreknowledge” not exactly a choiceless situation where you can basically be saved against your own will. Salvation is a free gift for all who CHOOSE to believe, but like any EARTHLY gift, you don’t benefit from that gift if you refuse to accept it.

I also find it interesting that most of those who believe that you have no choice in your salvation, believe that once you have it, you CAN choose to throw it away! I guess the important question for those folks is, “Are you saved TODAY?”

Unfortunately, due to the limits of human understanding, there are verses in the Bible that would seem to back up both views on receiving salvation and on keeping it, so some folks will insist on arguing about it. I have friends and relatives on both sides of the issue and I believe both sides are saved. The real question for anyone reading this is, “Have you accepted Jesus as your savior?” If not, you should shake a leg, we aren’t promised a tomorrow. As for whether you’re predestined to do it, or are choosing of your own free will, the results will be the same, since you have Heaven to gain and Hell to avoid. © 2017

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

I Wrote A Letter

Now I think I'll send a copy to my state and national representatives.

Dear X:

I come from honest, hard-working stock. My family came through the Great Depression and other downturns in the economy over the years with no help from the government. They never collected “commodities” or “relief” in the old days, or welfare or food stamps in later decades. The first couple times that I qualified for unemployment, I didn’t even sign up for it.

Things are different these days though, I’m 62 and on disability and had Medicaid. My wife finally got Obamacare last year, but Blue Cross/Blue Shield raised her premium $267 a month this year and we didn’t know which ten days of the month we shouldn’t eat or drive our car, so we had to drop it. My wife just began drawing about $600 a month Social Security at age 74. The next time that I went to get my medications, I found that Medicaid had dropped me without even having the common decency to let me know. I was suddenly supposed to start paying $800 a month for medication, plus pay for all doctors, procedures and hospital costs. I haven’t checked yet to see if I qualify for Medicare Part A, but it wouldn’t cover doctors or meds, and I can’t afford Parts B and D, or the insurance to cover what Medicare doesn’t.

I’m not one of those idiots who think healthcare is a Constitutional right. It’s strictly a product available to those who can afford it. What burns me, though, is that I know families on their fifth generation of living on the government dole. THEY have healthcare, just like most of the legal and ILLEGAL aliens in this country who’ve never paid taxes in their lives. It’s also galling to hear both democrats and republicans talk of cutting Social Security for the elderly, but never welfare or food stamps for those who choose not to work.

Had I not qualified for Medicaid for a while, I wouldn’t have my pacemaker. Today, I had to cancel a routine check of the pacemaker because I have no way to pay for it. The fact is, I'm a Christian and not afraid of death, but I don't appreciate basically being bumped off so OTHERS can have an easy life.

My ancestors and I, and millions of people like us are the folks who have spent our lives working and paying taxes that this country might continue operating. Don’t you think it’s time that WE get a little help, instead of all of the ungrateful freeloaders?


Sunday, June 11, 2017

She Knows What She Wants

Except when she wants to go for a ride, the Mighty Dachshund likes us all in the back of the house, the three of us together, Generally, she likes us to be as close as possible, as long as SHE is in the middle.

This evening, after letting her drain and dump, She and I sat on the porch a few minutes. I could tell she was uncomfortable in the heat so, several times, I asked her if she wanted to go inside with the missus and enjoy the air-conditioning. She’d look at me, then look at the hammer I’d brought outside and stay where she was. She knew from the hammer that I’d planned to stick her back in the house when she grew tired of the heat, so I could work outside a few minutes.

Finally, I asked her if she wanted to go inside if I went in with her. She jumped to her feet and went to the door, her answer obvious. Don’t tell ME that little bugger doesn’t understand English! I picked up my hammer and we went in for the evening. © 2017

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Well, I Got ONE Thing Done Yesterday (and one today)!

I got my lawn mowed yesterday. It looked like rain for a while but the dark clouds blew on past. The first mowing this spring took five hours, since I had so many of last year’s leaves amongst the grass to chew up. The last mowing took only two, since the leaves were mostly gone and the grass wasn’t too high. This time, it took THREE hours, because I did some extra trimming around the edges with the mower that I don’t always do. I thought it looked pretty nice when I was done, but the missus complained as usual. She wants me to scalp the lawn, rather than mow it, but I always set the mower as high as it will go. Otherwise, I’d eventually end up with a dirt lawn.

I THINK I discovered a yellow-jacket nest in one bank. I need to check it out, since there were only a few around. If it turns out to be a nest, it’s the earliest I’ve ever located one. It’s usually at least August before they get to be noticeable. Incidentally, I hit several small holes in the lawn that didn’t used to be there. They were grassed over, not freshly dug. I finally figured out that they were where yellow-jacket nests from past years had settled in due to winter freezing and thawing. One was only about half the size of a soccer ball, but another was the size of a shoe box. I always just gas them, but don’t burn them or dig them out. My dad used to do both; I always wondered if it was some sort of revenge on the little devils, as the fumes alone will kill them. LOL

It didn’t seem much like work, as I was riding the mower those three hours, but when I finished, I was so worthless that I didn’t even TRY to do anything else.

Today was a bit different, though I STILL only got one thing done. I guess I COULD count going to the DMV to get my truck license, but that seemed more like a waste of time than “doing something.” Then, since we were close, the missus wanted to go to the Chinamart on the far side of town. Afterwards, since we had gotten up early, we ate an early lunch and we both took a long nap. Then we watched the 700 Club. Anymore, I only trust the news from them and FOX. Unfortunately, the missus then wanted me to take her “somewhere” (anywhere would have done, I think), so I loaded up the pooch and her and suggested Sam’s Club. The pooch and I walked around a little and then snoozed a little while the missus picked up a couple things we needed and one we didn’t.

While waiting, I DID manage to sharpen the “garden sickle” that I picked up in Amish country last weekend. The last owner had kept it sharp, so all it needed was touched up. I tried it out on some grass in one of Sam’s traffic islands and it worked just fine. I’d originally thought the handle would be too short. I believe though, that by leaning on my cane with my left hand as I use the sickle with my right, the length may be okay. Time will tell about the handle length, but sharpening the sickle was the ONE thing that I accomplished today.

Oh well, like Little Orphan Annie sings – “Tomorrow, tomorrow…!” © 2017

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Not A Bad Day

I usually do well to accomplish one thing a day, anymore. Today was a tiny bit different. It was partly sunny, reasonably cool and there was a slight breeze. So the first thing I did was to rake the remaining leaves from around the house, so the mower could chew them up. Then I cut a few weeds that had come up near our porch. Next, I split a little firewood and cleaned up my front-lawn “log-yard” a bit so I could get around everything better with the mower. Lastly, I pulled my old log trailer from the place out by the road where I tried to sell it a couple years ago and put it down by my mill frame, so I can use it to stack lumber on. It took me quite a while to do all that, but I feel good about it, even if my legs feel a little weak and shaky now.

The missus pulled her strange timing thing on me again, though. I never saw anyone wait until you’re doing something they actually WANT YOU TO DO to start complaining about it. It makes me want to put my tools away and go sit in the swing, except I have to live here too, and want the place looking better the same as she does. Oh well, anymore I just try to ignore her quirks and just let her fret about mine if she chooses.

If the weather holds tomorrow, maybe I’ll get the yard mowed. It needed mowed last week, but I didn’t have the gas. It’s supposed to rain here Thursday, so I’ll keeping my fingers crossed for tomorrow! © 2017

Sunday, June 4, 2017

The Pooch And The Bugs

The Mighty Dachshund began torturing the missus to get me up at 3AM this morning. That’s 2-3 hours ahead of normal. First, though, she wanted me to stand over her while she ever so SLOWLY ate the remains of the McDonald’s cheeseburger that we’d given her for supper the evening before. Only THEN was she willing to let me take her outside to pee. Outside, she barely wet the ground. Obviously, she just wanted to see my smiling face while she chowed down in the wee hours. She has me trained SO well!

She was okay then, until I got up at mid-morning, still tired from our “big day” yesterday. After draining and dumping, she laid at my feet on the porch as I sat in the swing and enjoyed the scene and sounds around me. The woods were filled with the usual birdsong while a couple crows had a conversation in the distance.

Gradually, I noticed the area about one o’clock from me and 20 feet away begin filling with tiny white or grey moths or millers. They were so small that they could almost have passed for dandelion fuzz, except that I could see them flapping their wings as they drifted upward and onward with the almost imperceptible breeze. Watching closely, I traced them back to a spot on the lawn not much bigger than my little dog, with most coming from an area smaller than a saucer.

For several minutes they kept taking flight and drifting into the distance with no sign of stopping. Finally, a large snake-feeder (dragonfly) noticed them and began swooping through the cloud of moving new life like some bat on his erratic bug-catching flight. This continued for a few more minutes until a robin, which had been hunting bugs under the white oak tree 50 feet away happened to look up. He immediately found the tiny area of heaviest concentration and started gobbling hungrily on the little hatch before most of the members could get airborne. This, also, went on several minutes with the robin dining on the ground and the dragonfly eating in flight. Little by little the swarm diminished, either from the appetite of the robin or having simply run its course. Finally there weren’t enough left to hold either the robin or the dragonfly and they both moved on to other banquets.

The show over, I took the pooch inside and we began planning our day, me and the missus that is, the pooch had HER say at 3AM! © 2017

Saturday, June 3, 2017

A Pleasantly Disappointing Day (w/pic)

I went to bed last night with a full tank of gas in the truck. When I went out this morning, only ¾ of a tank remained. The gauge works and I smelled no leaks. I did NOT have a locking gas cap. I’ve had this truck for 10 years this month, and this is the first time that I KNOW that I’ve had gas stolen. The last time it occurred was about 20 years ago, when I still had the old GMC. I guess the kids of those thieves from back then have now hit driving age and are following in their predecessor’s footsteps. A simple locking gas cap solved the problem back then, as I knew it would today.

We took a swing up into Amish country today; it takes about two hours to get there from here. The place keeps changing and changing. It’s forever losing its remaining quaintness and character and is turning into a mega-market selling Chinese junk. You can still find some Amish-made stuff, but you have to really hunt for it. The food isn’t as good as it used to be, either. Of course, the gals who were cooking when the missus and I first went there 30 years ago are either retired or dead. The younger generation just doesn’t have the touch. They brag on their menu about their real mashed potatoes, but manage to make them taste like instant. My pork chops were great, but the pork gravy on my mangled potatoes was the absolute worst I’ve ever tasted. It reminded me of rancid fat. The green beans from the can were surprisingly good, as was the iced tea, and the view from our window seat was beautiful. I noticed a lot of fallow and just planted fields up there, I suppose due to the rainy spell we had for so long.

The missus was having a bad day today, tired quickly and was wobbly on her feet (though not dizzy, strangely enough). I even convinced her to use her cane, which is AMAZING. She managed to hit only three of her usual dozen or so shops before wearing out. I’d hoped to get to three antique shops today, in search of a grass whip (think sickle on a straight 3-foot handle) and some turning gouges. The biggest shop is now nearly impossible for me to get to with the lack of nearby parking and the heavier traffic flow, so I didn’t go there. I DID manage to quickly scan the other two shops and find a very small version of a grass whip with an 8" blade and a 15" handle (an online photo labels something similar as a “garden sickle”) and a good grinding wheel, which measures about 1-1/16" by 9", that should work on the pedal-powered grinder I plan on making from an old Singer sewing machine base. There were no turning gouges to be found, though. I guess if I don't like the length of the sickle's handle, I can always put a longer one on it.

The dog and the missus were ready to head home only a couple hours after we hit the shopping villages, so we left at least three hours earlier than usual, but I didn’t mind. We agreed that we had a pleasant, sunny day, a mostly decent meal and a drive through some beautiful country.

When I hit town, I stopped at a car parts place before heading home and bought a locking gas cap for the truck. It was about triple the price that I paid for the last one, despite being nearly all plastic. I also warned the neighbor across the road about my disappearing gasoline. He said his wife had mentioned hearing cars stop along the road a couple times last night. I imagine the first time was to let the thief out and the second was to pick him up. © 2017

Click image to enlarge.