Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Teasing, Weather or Not

I was outside to clean the snow out of my driveway early this morning and hauling in some firewood. I almost forgot to type in my blog post. I woke in the middle of the night, that is when I thought of the title and the meat of my post.

This see-saw, back and forth, up and down of temperatures is driving me crazy. I just can’t get used to one temperature until it changes; not just slow gradual changes, but these wild swings wreak havoc with my psyche and body. The temperature can go form fifty degrees to below zero in less than seven days. Canada needs to close their refrigerator doors. I’m just kidding to those neighbors to the north and to Judy Ferguson.

In years past, the cold usually makes a gradual appearance and slowly disappears with a few backslides. I usually have hauled in two dump truck loads of firewood from a local saw mill, but because I want to move sometime this year, I didn’t want to leave a lot of the wood for others to deal with.

I am left with just a small amount and with the cold snap over the next few days I decided to buy a pick-up truck load to carry me over. I like to keep some extra in case there is a power outage. I have plenty of fuel oil, but if there is no electricity, there is no heat. I have been hoarding a small amount, but now that I have made arrangements for more to be delivered, I can get the wood burner fired up and I can feel more secure. I always like to have something in reserve and hate to be cold.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Barbequed Bear Balls

I was invited to and I attended my first wild game banquet. My brother Ken had a spare ticket and asked if I wanted to go. Just like almost every Saturday night, I was free and readily accepted. I had no idea what to expect. It was all new to me. The only wild game I ate was the animals in my youth and the venison that I got during deer season.
The first things on the menu were trays of hors d’oeuvres of cheeses, deer sausage, homemade pickles, pickled peppers, and crackers. The next course offered the soups: regular chili, venison chili, white bean moose soup, turtle soup, squirrel navy bean soup, and wild mushroom soup. I tried the turtle soup and the squirrel bean soup.
The next round of foods introduced the main courses. Fresh cloverleaf buns, small buttered potatoes, green beans, elk meatloaf, slices of venison roast, wild turkey, bear goulash, venison meatloaf, some type of sausage in sauerkraut, and the barbequed bear balls. The bear meat had been ground up, rolled into meat balls and cooked in a barbeque sauce.
I didn’t try the sauerkraut and sausage and I wasn’t impressed with the bear goulash. I didn’t like the flavor of the spices used and I didn’t like the mushy consistency.
A large urn of coffee and several coolers of iced water and lemon Blend graced a small table at the end of the line to wet the whistle and clear the palate between the different meats.
Another small table was festooned and piled high with a plethora desserts. Cakes of all flavors with their varied icings, small muffins of banana bread, and a few cookies, were bundled in individual clear plastic containers. It made them easy to select and to carry back to your table.
Door prizes and other ticket prizes for T shirts, car care items, cash prizes, framed pictures, appliances, and several guns were given out to those with matching ticket numbers.
I’m sitting at my computer typing, reaching around a full and rotund abdomen and my daughter’s cat Willow. I hope that it all settles and that it allows me to have a quiet night of sleep, because I am rather full right now. I pray that the wild game doesn’t start to fight for territorial rights at some time during the middle of the night.


Friday, February 5, 2016


     Yesterday, I was asked to lead the meeting of writers at the public Library in Mt. Pleasant, Pennsylvania. It was a slightly shortened meeting, because our illustrious leader, Dr. Fred Adams was ill and couldn’t attend. His teaching of writing skills during the first fifteen to twenty minutes of the gathering was missing. I had handouts of writing tricks or techniques, but I wasn’t able to go into the depth that he does to make it more memorable.
The good thing was, the group wasn’t subject to our puns and repartees and feeble attempts at humor. The group did secede on the next project for display in the library. The theme will be poetry or a short essay or story about the coming season of spring.
With the help of the library staff, we were able to put on display our Valentine’s Day poetry for any who would like to view our offerings. Our usual display area has been taken over by the “vile” tax forms, necessary for taxpaying citizens to empty their pockets in the ever hungry maw of the state and federal government, so our works are on the window sills in the same area.

As I wrote the title of this blog, I was reminded of the real meaning of the Navy: Never-Volunteer-Yourself. While it’s not quite true, it was the expression many of my comrades in the thirteen button dress-blue pants would say. There were three types of uniforms in the Navy: the dungarees, the whites, and the dress blues.
The dungarees consisted of a pale blue work shirt, worn over a white T shirt, denim trousers, brogan shoes, and the either a ball cap or the white cap. The whites consisted of a short sleeve dress shirt or a long sleeve tunic, white trousers, a rolled kerchief, and the white navy cap. The blues were made of unlined wool tunic top, the stove pipe legged pants with the thirteen button fly, the rolled kerchief and the inevitable white hat.
I was so glad when I left the Navy. By that time those unlined, itchy, heavy wool trousers had eaten away all of the hair from my thighs and parts of my lower legs. There are still areas of my legs that the hair is afraid to grow.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Sure Am Sore

     When I woke this morning I was sore across my shoulders and back. Even the muscles between my ribs were painful, as though they wanted to go into a spasm. What happened to those days when I awoke and felt rested and relaxed, old age? I can remember when I actually had to dig ditch. The task was for my dad. The old galvanized pipe that ran from the springhouse on the hillside ,about one hundred and twenty yards above our home, became corroded until barely a trickle of water came out of the tap.

It was time to reopen the ditch and replace the old corroded pipe with new plastic lines. Dad gave my brother Ken and I orders as to how much of the ditch he wanted us to dig before he came home from work. I believe it was about ten feet per day. Not too much, but my brother, Ken would torture me as I wielded the mattock until I chased him. He would run back to the house and hide behind Mom’s skirts. I would have to trudge back to the chore of digging ditch, solo. You would think that I would have learned to ignore him and have him stay there to help, but no. It must have been the lead from those pipes that “dumbed” me down.

The biggest thing that I remember was a huge rock that I encountered. It was fully as wide and long as a dining room table with one extension leaf inserted. It spanned the path of the ditch. I scraped the soil from the top of it and even went to the basement for a sledge hammer to try and break it up so I could finish my assignment. It wouldn’t budge, so I continued digging on its far side. Dad was a little upset when he came home and “we” hadn’t finished the length of ditch. When he tried to shatter the boulder, he found that he couldn’t do it either. The slab of stone was about twenty -eight inches thick. Dad finally decided to make a passage to slide the new piping beneath the behemoth instead of going around or continuing to try and remove it. I continued to dig ror the next few days “with” my brother until the pipe extended from the springhouse in the woods to our house.

Monday, February 1, 2016

But Would You Now

When I was a kid I would do things that would make me think twice and probably not do today. Climbing trees and almost falling out or hanging by my heels upside down are two things that I wouldn’t do now. I don’t think I would swim nude as we did as kids after playing several innings of softball in the hot summer sun. The water was cool in a secluded spot downstream from the bridge near Indian Head, Pennsylvania.
I don’t think I would swim sky clad before the end of April in the deep water beneath the arching bridge where Poplar Run Road meets Route 711. It was a spot close to my home and it was sort of a dare to get into that frigid, spring fed, and melting snow fed mountain stream. A large bonfire was necessary to prevent hypothermia.
There are a few things that I might do again, like making “beetle boppers” and having a jousting match. A beetle bopper was a nylon stocking with a pair of thick socks tied in the toes. It was a weapon much like the mace on a chain in medieval times. It could be swung at your opponent and make a loud smacking sound, without causing injury. It was all fun until the light bulb in the ceiling of the room shattered by a misplaced swing.
One thing that I never did with my kids that my mom did with us was to make an indoor skating rink with talcum powder, a linoleum floor, and socks. She would sprinkle the powder on the linoleum and with socks on her feet. She’d take a run and slide the entire length of the hallway floor. We would take turns until we were tired, then we hat to scrub all of the powder from the linoleum to prevent accidental slips and falls as we’d hurry through the house in bare or stocking clad feet.

There are some other things I wouldn’t do now, because I’m older and hopefully have more sense than I did as a kid, but who knows when I enter my second childhood. Beetle boppers anyone?

Friday, January 29, 2016

A Grizzly Discovery

She didn’t think it would happen, but it was finally morning. The sun was rising. Its warming orange fingers spread across the horizon. She was alive and thankful. The long cold night had been terrifying.
She became separated from her hiking partners yesterday and began to follow a faint trail. She was worried, knowing that the wilderness area was home to multiple carnivores; bears, cougars, wolves, and even wolverines. Planning for a short hike, she carried no survival gear except a water bottle. She followed the faint trail; each sound causing her to jump. Searching, she found a broken branch with a sharp end that she could use as a walking staff and a spear if necessary. It was protection of sort and made her feel safer.
Along the path were blueberry bushes. She ate the few lingering berries that remained. They did little more than to whet her appetite. She drank deeply from a crystal clear freshet, then refilled her water bottle, before moving on.
Afraid that she would be forced spend the night she probed every overhang, cave, brush pile, and overturned tree looking for a haven from the animals and the cold. When the sun dropped over the horizon, the temperatures would drop as well. She needed to find a dry, secure place to spend the night.
As long tendril shadows reached over the land, she found a deep, dry crevice between two leaning rocks. This would have to be it. It would be her den of safety. She gathered and hauled leaves into the cave. It would insulate her from the cold ground and cover her to trap the heat. Intertwining branches, she narrowed the opening to keep larger animals outside. Pushing her pointed staff through the opening as a deterrent, it would impale any creature that tried to enter.
Barely settled, the darkness fell like a heavy, black blanket. It arrived with furtive unidentifiable noises from the outside. Although she tried to stay awake, she nodded off occasionally.
As the first rays of the rising sun pried the reluctant fingers of darkness from the distant horizon, she rejoiced. She had outlasted the night and was safe to face the new day.
            From the depths of the den at her back came the sounds of snuffing and the shambling footpads of a grizzly bear.


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Nun of Your Business

One evening when Bill and I were working in the emergency department, three nuns were brought in from an automobile accident. The ambulance crew delivered them one after another. The nuns were of the old order and were dressed in the long, black full-length robes. They wore chains, ropes, head piece, mantles, etc.
Let me say this. Anyone who would decide to rape a nun either has no idea of what he was getting into or has all the time in the world to achieve his goal. I could not believe the amount of clothing these women donned everyday of their lives, until I started to undress them and get them into hospital issue gowns. It was a full fifteen minutes before I saw any kind of bare flesh.
It was peeling an onion, but it didn’t make me cry, layer after layer. Underneath the robes were folds of binders, tee shirts, ropes, and safety pins galore. It was crazy. After much diligence, they were out of their habits and into our gowns for examination by our doctor.
One of the registration clerks was offended that men were undressing and doing a cursory examination of the nuns. I told her, “I am a professional” and that I could “undress and examine a woman without me seeing anymore than if she was wearing a bathing suit.”
I would loosen and undress down to the top of the patient’s chest Place the hospital gown over her and then finish removing the blouse, brazier, etc. I would slip the gown on then start the examination to the top of the thighs. I would fold a blanket or sheet across her middle to examine her chest, abdomen, and pelvis. I would remove the slacks and skirt. It was up to the physician to finish the evaluation. The woman was covered at all times and I would preserve her dignity.