Thursday, July 31, 2008

Sad But Necessary Menu

It seems that horse lovers have painted themselves into a corner. They lobbied for legislation to end horse slaughter for meat export and now horses are being abandoned and set free because their owners can’t afford to keep them.

Horses are expensive to own and a lot of people that own them are not financially well off to begin with. With the weekly price hike on hay and grain horses are becoming an unaffordable luxury for a good percentage of horse owners.

Blame it on the high price of fuel. Blame it on ethanol production driving up the price of feed, or blame it on anything you wish. Horses are starving and living in misery and something needs to be done to reverse a bad decision. Even though we give them names and treat them like large pets, they are still live stock and reality may have us reexamining this in a practical sense. Yes, it is sad, but maybe they would be better off as a part of the food chain instead of suffering from starvation and neglect.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


I think enough time has passed since the post, but one of our local bloggers recently posted a video that could be considered as tasteless porn, however I did see the humor in it, though I admit that I was shocked by it…

It’s really funny just how main stream porn and fetishism have become on the internet. One no any longer needs to embarrass themselves by buying pornography over the counter. It is now free and nearly unavoidable.

As I’ve mentioned before I cruise for photos for these blog posts, and you would probably not believe the stuff I constantly come across. There are a lot of foot fetishists out there along with people who like nylons. There are a lot of transvestites out there. There are a lot of stalkers out there as well. They stalk women and secretly photograph them just doing normal stuff like walking down the road. There are people into dolls and others who are into pornographic Anime'. There are people who are in love with the most unattractive people and photograph them over and over. Thousands of lame photos of the same person.

I wonder why humans have developed this ability to be turned on by just about everything they come in contact with. I'm sure that humans are the only creatures alive that could possibly have phone sex. It’s a good thing animals have a seasons only every once in a while. Here’s what it would look like if they were like humans.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Hillbilly Hangout

Continuing from yesterday’s story about the Hillbilly Hangout… I was never a sports nut as a kid. I was into music though I had only seen music performed live in church or at weddings.

I felt a sincere joy and excitement one afternoon when I arrived at the girl’s house. Their father was a drummer and he and his group was having a session in their kitchen. I could hear the music as I rode my bike down the street. It was loud but really good.

I entered the screen door where others were hanging out listening. Ronnie, the girls father had a remarkable skill on the drums. There was Roger who played a Gibson Firebird through an Ampeg amp with a fifteen inch speaker. This was the first Firebird I had ever seen or played. It was an amazing guitar. He let me play it during a break and it was an effortless instrument with a flat fast action on the fret board. They also had a keyboardist with an enormous Leslie Speaker which is a speaker that has this spinning device that utilizes the Doppler Effect on sound.

The music was the likes of nothing I had ever heard before. It could best be described as Road House music. Extreme Rhythm and Blues with funky back beats and a twang that would make your skull resonate. It was raw, it was powerful and it was good and it almost felt dirty. It was music that was meant to accompany alcohol and tobacco use.

Other friends parents I knew had groups and bands that did wedding music, polka music and one even had a Barber Shop Quartet. None of the other parents’ music interested me all that much, but this sound was special. I tried to make it over for every session at the Hillbilly Hangout after that.

There was something remarkable about how the floor vibrated and the windows shook with every note and beat. It was music that you felt in every bone and cell in your body. One could work up a sweat just listening to it and watching the band members work their magic.

It may have been a Hillbilly Hangout, but it became a temple of sorts to me.

Sadly, Roger was a petty criminal. He got arrested for breaking into neighborhood cars and I think he was run out of town. Eventually the entire family picked up and moved away one night and I never saw any of them again. I did hear through a grape vine that Roger married the daughter with the red hair. There was a 15 year age difference. Roger later died of some disease in Florida.

When ever I passed that house for years after, I'd slow down as sigh. It was a sigh for an amazing turning point in my life. A turning point that made things just a little more interesting after that. It was also a sigh of the inability to ever return to those days and that I'd have to rely on my fond memories to carry me through. I still think of those days when ever I hear Road House music. I remember opening the screen door and walking into that room where the music changed my life forty years ago.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Across the Tracks

I guess I was in the 7th or 8th grade when I was drawn to them. They were sisters, a year apart in age. One had long straight dark red hair, the other long straight blond hair. We went to the same school and would hang out together. They lived across the railroad tracks from me.

I knew they were from a different sort of family than the rest of the kids I knew. I didn’t realize how different at the time. I wasn’t yet blinded by the prejudice that comes with age.

I was a friendly sort of a kid. I’d chat with everyone without reservation. There was an old woman that sat on her porch just about every day. I would see her on my way to the girl’s house. I’d always say hello to her, and sometimes even visit with her on her porch. She didn’t know my name, but knew I lived near by on the other side of the tracks. I didn’t know her name either.

The local kids didn’t want to know the woman. They nick named her “Martha.” She was old and fat and she was harmless. Kids just don’t like what they don’t understand. They didn’t like Martha because she would sit on her porch watching the kids playing in the street. This was her entertainment. The kids thought she was judging them by constantly watching them like some sort of neighbor hood watch cop. Everyone misunderstood the intentions of the others.

My opinion of the old woman changed one day when she figured out why I spent so much time in the neighborhood. She asked me directly, “Why is a nice boy like you going to the Hillbilly Hangout?” She was using insulting words towards the girls and their families. After that I was put off and I’d cross the tracks further south than her house.

When I think of it all now the family was indeed Hillbillies. Not so much the historic hillbillies that would come to mind like the Clampets, Snuffy Smith or Ma and Pa Kettle. They were more like biker rednecks.

They were poor, with four children, in and out of work with a father who was in and out of jail as were the friends of the parents. I was fascinated by the life style. There were loud parties with a lot of alcohol. There was always a lot of profanity in the air as well. This was not a good environment in which to rear four children, but somehow all their kids turned out OK in spite of it all.

I will continue with the story of this family tomorrow and the good and bad things I learned from the time I spent with them.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Feeling Poor?

Thanks to Trop who had this on her site recently. If you are feeling like this economy has you down Go Here and see how you compare to every one else in the world.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Helping One Another

Folks that live in the country are usually busy. No matter how busy we are we always seem to have time to converse with a neighbor or to help a neighbor in need.

I’ve done a good share of barn raising, hay hauling and taking care of others' live stock while they were out of town. I’ve had the same sort of things done for me when I needed a hand. I don’t like asking for help, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. Sometimes my wife and I go out of town and we can’t take the horses and chickens with us. We have to ask for help. When we have a horse die, we don’t have a back hoe, so we have to ask for help. When we have a couple acres that need to be tilled we ask for help.

The arrangements are always reciprocated with in kind services, copious gifts, or some sort of trade. It’s an underground economy and things keep going around and around. In the end the outcome is that we become part of a stronger, closer community of people who have walked in the shoes of their neighbors. Actually we become more than neighbors, we become family.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Looking for the Honey Bees

My recent research in the wonderful world of pollen has taken me down a path I didn’t expect to go down. It was one of those moments where one thinks, “If it were a snake it would have bitten me.”

I do a lot of classes, presentations at conferences and talks at various agricultural group meetings. Though people hear it on the news and read about it from time to time and have concerns, it is a big topic in the agriculture community. Why are the honey bees disappearing?

At first it was called Disappearing Bee Disease and it was an event that happened from time to time. Suddenly all the bees would evacuate their hive and not return. I spoke with Dr James Tew about it a few years ago at a conference and at that time he changed his view from calling it a disease to calling it a malady.

Two years later there seemed to be a mass exodus of honey bees from an apiary in Pennsylvania which went way beyond the malady that Dr. Tew described in his article. Though it was still being called Disappearing Bee Disease at that time, it soon became known as Colony Collapse Disorder and it was being discovered in other states. It was on the move.

In previous years, there always seemed to be something that endangered the honey bees; tracheal mites, intestinal bacteria, brood disease and the worst were the varroa mites. Later it was found that the varroa mite was the vector a whole string of viral pathogens, further decimating honey bee colonies.

Early research in Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) showed that honey bees were now hosts to viral agents that had never been seen in honey bees before. Their best guess was that CCD was caused by a compromised immune system (like an acquired immune deficiency syndrome, AIDS) possibly brought on by the bees having come into contact with too many herbicides and pesticides. The bee industry was loading their colonies with all sorts of chemicals for several years trying to control the varroa mite. The mites became resistant to one chemical and than the beekeepers switched to a different lethal miteacide agent. Chemicals like fluvalenate and Cumaphos.

Killing mites on a honey bee is difficult. It is like trying to kill a monkey on your back without killing yourself in the process. Arachnid mites are not all that dissimilar to honeybees.

All the research at that point seemed to point to chemicals as the key to CCD, but then someone started dissecting the bees and they found that were starting to get darker inside and that their digestive tracts were a total mess.

As with the human diet, if something is wrong with the food you eat your health will soon tell the tale. Diets are responsible for all sorts of human conditions, diabetes, malnutrition and cancer to name a few.

Honey bees consume three things; water, nectar that they turn into honey, which is their source of carbohydrates and pollen which is their source of protein. Researchers are putting two and two together and are starting to think that the bee food may be responsible. But what possibly has changed in their food supply. Could it be that pollen from GMO crops with terminator gene technology is killing out honey bees?

It seems that there is no longer any corn in North America that hasn’t cross pollinated with a GMO variety. Consider what is going on with the other crops where Farmer A is not using any GMO crops and Farmer B across the road is using it. Honey bees will fly over two and a half miles while collecting pollen and nectar. That leaves a lot of room for GMO pollen to get mixed with non GMO pollen. This action also waters down the purity of the non GMO seed and may further alter the genetic make-up of the GMO seed.

In the mean time the unsuspecting honey bee is chowing down on this Franken-food, with altered nutrition values. The honey bees are circling the drain and Monsanto has the Department of Agriculture in its back pocket.

Monsanto GMO products need to be pulled and agriculture needs to be purged of this threat to nature once and for all, though with cross pollination so prevalent already it may be one genie that we can’t get back into the bottle. The only salvation may be not planting anything for a year and then using a seed bank after we are sure no one grew anything in their back yards,

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Another Hay Day

The hay run I made a couple weeks ago was for a friend with limited truck and trailer capacity. This was a hay deal that I’ve been involved in for three years now, but I can no longer afford to purchase Eastern Oregon orchard grass. Instead this year I found a source for local hay up in Jewell. It is lower octane than the good Eastern Oregon stuff, but I will make due and adjust the horses’ nutrition to compensate. I ended up getting one hundred bales for the same price I’d pay for twenty bales of the Eastern Oregon orchard grass hay.

I showed up in the field with my truck at 9:00AM. There were already other trucks with trailers there with local kids loading. I am a one-man operation, so I’d drive up to a couple bales, get out, load, hop back in and drive to the next pile.

It was good to see kids out there working. I was sitting around a camp fire with a couple hay growers last weekend. They told me that it is really hard to find kids who want to work. Even when they enthusiastically agree to work, they rarely show up on the days you need them. Many hay growers compensate by making round bales that they can manage with their tractors. I saw Donna write a similar thing on her blog recently.

I feel sorry for anyone in agriculture that hopes to hire school kids these days.

After two round trips; there are now a hundred salted bales occupying the garage bay where my truck is normally parked. It will be so nice not paying nearly $20 per bale for at least the next 300 days.

Another good thing is that I can now clean out the hay from the bed of my truck. I often leave it since I used to make a weekly hay run. Eventually the rain turns it into compost and then it begins sprouting like I have a pasture on wheels.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Dice Are Not Stacked

As modern humans we have come to accept things when they don’t work out. It is more often the norm that things don’t work out so accepting isn’t the right word; expectance is more like it.

We know that the package of hotdogs will contain more units than the package of hot dog buns. We understand that when we buy bananas that are perfect in color that we will be composting the over ripe ones in three days. We expect to miss out exit on the freeway, and so on…

I once heard someone say that if our toasters gave us as much trouble as our computers we would throw them out the window.

But sometimes things do work out. We have a carafe coffee maker and it makes exactly the amount of coffee that my wife and I drink every day. Exactly! If we put a cup in the microwave, the carousel turns and returns the cup handle to the exact position it was in when you placed it in there.

I am starting to realize that for everything that doesn’t work out there is an equal number of things that do work out perfectly. There might possibly be balance in the universe after all.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Ones That Get Away

The other day “g” asked how I remember all the stuff I write about. I sometimes feel like I forget more than I remember. In fact you get to read this today because I simply can’t recall the cool thing I wanted to write about today. It was a flash in my head, and it went away as quickly as it came and totally faded by the time I picked up a pen to jot down my idea.

It reminds me of people who keep a note pad by their bedside so they can jot down their middle of the night ideas that come to them. I did that for a while and was disappointed each time to wake up to unreadable penmanship, or concepts that a mind in the world of the awakened couldn’t grasp in whole or even in part.

My articles all have triggers and fortunately most of them stick with me long enough for me to jot them down. I often repeat the topic like a mantra just so I won’t forget between conception and jotting it down.

Sadly, I probably lost hundreds of blog topics over the last two years because I didn’t write them down.

Monday, July 21, 2008


(Yes, that title if for Lori and g)
Have you ever noticed that refrigerators seem to last forever? I really think that very few refrigerators are ever disposed of because they aren’t operational. It is more of a trade-up for beauty or more space.

I think my mother is still using the same one she had when I was ten years old. I remember her getting the new one after the latch type handle broke on the one she had for 30 years previous to that. It was functional, but inconvenient.

I can only think of one refrigerator that was actually broken and beyond repair in my entire career of owning refrigerators. It had an un-findable Freon leak.

Since then I usually leave them behind in the houses I’ve sold, and buy homes without one. I did buy one when I moved out here and gave it to a friend when I upgraded to something larger with an ice maker when the population of my house grew by three.

I’m sure that old fridge is still humming away keeping things cool in its second home. It’s just amazing to see machines that outlast many of their owners.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Mel Revisited

I always find it interesting when someone does something and it is easy for an insider that knows them to see that what they did was a reaction or a knee jerk to an earlier trauma. As we progress through life we often spend our final years constantly jerking our knees.

Each of us has seen tragedy, though some react differently to it. I’ve seen people who witnessed the same tragedy, each having differing future reactions to it.

I keep tabs on my friends even though I’m not in communication with them very often. I visited my friend and film maker Melanie Brown’s web site recently and watched one of her films.

I was reminded of a friend who took her own life. I further thought of when I discussed this tragedy with Melanie who had a tragedy in her life of which I believe this film reflects.

Some people never leave us though they may have been unfortunately taken away too soon.

Thanks for the film, Mel. And by the way, I miss you and I promise to write more often.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Hay Day

Sometimes I am taken back to a time long, long ago when we were all experiencing a Serengeti Lifestyle and things were shared. There would be a kill and everyone in the village got to share in the bounty.

Today there are similar events where we all pay taxes and get to share in things like roads and schools and this is all pretty commonplace in our non Serengeti lifestyles. However I was taken back to the modern savanna last week.

This is the time of year when groups of people get together and buy truck loads of hay. A small group of us waited on at a local savanna for the hunters to deliver. With pick-up trucks with trailers, we waited to claim their portions of the harvest.

We are talking about the goods that will get horses through the winter. We are talking about Eastern Oregon orchard grass. This is the highest octane horse food next to alfalfa on the planet. Local sources are selling the 75 lb bales of this stuff for over $19 each. Buying by the truckload brings the price down to about $16 per bale.

The triple trailer with 34 tons arrives nearly on time. The straps are removed and the squeeze swings into action. The squeeze is a machine that looks like a cross between a mini semi truck and a fork lift with crab like claws in the front that squeezes and carries 50 bales at a time. The bales are set on the ground next to the vehicles where hired help loads your hay for you or assists you.

Within a half hour all the hay is gone and a row of over-loaded pick-up trucks can be seen driving slowly like a parade down the road followed by an empty triple trailer semi and a squeeze littering the roads with the hay that got away from some of the bales.

Friday, July 18, 2008

A Time To Kill

It is past time for me to cull some of the chickens. I have two Cornish cross roosters that are about as big as turkeys. They need to go soon.

I’ve been asked by some how I can kill a living creature. My answer is, “I just think of it as the Aflac Duck and that makes killing real easy.” In actuality killing is never easy for me. I don’t hunt and I no longer go fishing. I, like most Americans like leaving the dirty deed to others.

The last time I killed chickens I used the old hatchet and stump method. The chicken is generally terrorized and you can see it watching you. One chop and the chicken runs around headless as it bleeds out, drawing the attention of the other chickens in the yard.

Today, the kinder, gentler way of killing chickens employs the use of a killing cone as pictured above. A chicken is placed head down in the cone. The cone cradles its body, and being upside down seems to confuse them just long enough for a very sharp knife to end it all, quickly without any running around or added trauma to them or the rest of the flock.

There is a certain somber reverence that is employed on killing day. Everything needs to be as swift and as precise as possible. It is always best to never name the animals destined for the freezer. It makes it all a lot easier.

It seems that Americans have become very disassociated with the animals we consume. When was the last time you saw a hog or a steer on the hook. Years ago this was a common sight in butcher shops, but now all we see are individually wrapped portions on foam trays under cellophane that is plastered with bar codes, labels and sales stickers. All we see is the red color of the meat and some white fat or bone.

I don’t think people that have removed themselves from this essential link to the food process fully comprehend the chain of events. It is important to consider and reflect on the meat that we consume. When one does consider the entire process there will be an appreciation for the food and less waste which will translate to more food for all.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Seven Months Later

It’s been seven and a half months since the December storm and I’m still working on fixing the damage. I’m finally getting to work on the house, replacing the Westward side of the living room roof. Next I will move on to replacing the roofs on two dormers that were damaged by swinging cedar branches.

I’ve done a lot of roofing during my time out here and I’ve always used my pneumatic roofing nailer, but it finally quit working. I priced a new one ($300) and I’m back to using a hammer and nails. Fortunately I’m only laying down 4 square this time. If we get more damage next winter I will have to revisit the need for another one, but for now I’m hoping the roofs will out live me.

For now my work will continue by fixing broken arbors, cutting stumps, planting trees, getting more yard debris in a pile for a fire once the burn ban is lifted. After that maybe I’ll be able to get to the projects I wanted to work on this year.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Wal*Mart Virus

Thanks go out to Syd for sending me this link. ClickHere to view this plague.

The good news for us is that the Wal*Mart that was rumored to be coming to Astoria was a joke, a bad one at that. When Tom Iverson sold his farm in Jeffers Gardens, he started the rumor that is was going to be a Wal*Mart. It isn't true. He just started the rumor to get people going.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Dymo Might

A friend recently told me that he had some microscope slides he wanted to share with me after we had been talking about some research I am involved with. He presented me with two nicely crafted wooden boxes that were precisely made with tiny dove tail joints. The lids fit tightly like a well crafted box lid would.

I was impressed by the collection of two-hundred slides that were directly related to my research, however my mind was taken off on a journey when I took a closer look and feel of something on the front of each box.

On the front of each box was my friend’s name on an embossed plastic label. Back in the 70s, long before computers and dot matrix printers, we made our labels with a Dymo machine. Those of you who may have been born after the mid 80s may have no idea of what I’m talking about, but it was a hand held device into which a plastic strip was fed. You would dial a letter and squeeze the handle. This action would emboss the letter on this plastic strip. Then you would spin the letter wheel and emboss the next letter and so on until your label was finished. Then you would cut the label, peal off the back and stick it where you needed it. At that point it would bubble up and peal off in an hour or so or it would be stuck on forever.

Just seeing the embossed labels on these boxes took me back to my youth when I went around labeling everything in sight. I’m sure there are still some of those labels stuck around my mother’s house.

Monday, July 14, 2008


Damn, I’m almost out of socks. I’m pretty rough on socks and I usually plan it pretty well. I found out a few years ago that it is more economical to buy socks around November and December. And I always like the thick, wool-like type. Costco gets a good supply of them in and I’ll buy several packages, but once they are sold out all they have are those white ones with the gray toes or those thin, what I call, business socks.

I’m now running very low and there is five more months until November. I may have to pay a big price for underestimating my annual sock needs. The problem is that I now forget just how many I bought last year, so I don’t know how many pairs I will need for next year. But then I could count the worn out ones. I use them as shop rags and I haven’t been working in the shop much so they should still be there for the counting.

So when I write about buying new socks in December, please remind me to go get more before they run out again.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

It May Pay To Waste

Sometimes you have to wonder if any energy saving measures is actually worth it or not. Being one who likes to conserve where I can, I keep a close eye on my electrical usage but nothing seems to matter. We switched all our incandescent light bulbs to compact fluorescents. The Jacuzzi tub is rarely ever used. We have the heat turned down most of the time and never use the air conditioner. I’ve turned off the electric fences, yet our power usage is the same.

This reminds me of this house I once owned. It was old and drafty, so I had it insulated, put on new siding, I replace all the single pane windows with double pane units. I replaced the doors and put in an energy efficient furnace and my power usage doubled. WTF? I would have been better off leaving the windows open.

I remember when radial tires came around. They were supposed to save energy so I put them on one of my cars back then and I started losing 2 mpg with them. WTF?

It all makes me wonder if there is some conspiracy out there, just like ethanol is supposed to use less oil, but instead it cost nearly a gallon of oil to produce it. It burns less efficiently, decreasing your gas mileage and just to burn you it corrodes your fuel system. I just had to replace a carburetor on my two-year old string trimmer for $110 because of ethanol. Really when is all the savings supposed to kick in for all these conservation efforts?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Computer Microscope

Years ago Intel made a microscope that had a USB connection. At the time Intel discontinued making them in 2002; these things were selling for under $70.

This supposed “toy” was cool because not only could you view objects for 10X, 60X and 200X, but you could light the objects from above or below the slide. You could simply view the object on your computer or you could use the device to take still photos, or 15 frames per second moving pictures.

You can still find this scope for sale on the internet for under $100, but I’m not sure if it is Vista compatible. There are others you can buy with higher resolution for Vista that now cost around $350, though none at that price go beyond 200X. Things start getting really cool above 200X.

Just seeing how far things have come with computer I/O devices in the past 20 years makes me hope I’m still around 20 years from now to see what will come up next.

Friday, July 11, 2008


It’s funny how one thing leads to another. There is a starling nest tucked away between two sections of roof above the horse stalls. I don’t encourage starlings to nest, however once they get established I leave them alone. I know they are a non native, invasive species, but they do eat bugs.

Just hearing the starling chicks chirping took me all the way back to the Storm King Art Center in Mountainville, New York. This is a 500 acre former farm that has rolling hills and fields that is the home for sculpture. There is also an estate house at the top of the hill which hosts the indoor exhibits.

Anyway, all the sculptures there either mimic or become a part of nature. The piece in the photo above is by Kenneth Snelson and is called “Free Ride Home.” It was made in 1974. This sculpture is an arrangement of hollow aluminum tubes that are suspended by cables. Being hollow, this piece makes a perfect bird house for starlings. I was always amuse when someone would walk up and pluck one of the support cables because hundreds of starlings would fly out of the tubes in all direction; often shitting on the person that started the ruckus.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Bike Flight

I took my mountain bike with us when we went horse camping. The trails there are notorious for being muddy until August. I figured I’d be able to scout out the better trails before saddling up.

I haven’t been cycling much in the last few years, and my first interaction with the seat reminded me of one of the reasons why. Another reason is that cycling on horse trails isn’t the moist pleasurable experience I have known. There is a lot of soft ground with a lot of hills and constant gear shifting, and sometimes you miss the gear you wanted because the derailleur didn’t shift as quickly as you needed it to.

I was on this trail for about a half hour and I was getting tired. Suddenly my front wheel went down in a rut and the back wheel came off the ground shooting me through the air like a catapult. My left shoulder took the biggest portion of the impact with the ground. I heard snapping and thought I had broken something, but it wasn’t so bad, but now my left shoulder was in as much pain as my left knee was from a fall two months earlier, which was waning until this second fall reactivated the damage there.

I am ruining myself. I really don’t like the idea of not doing things because of the risk of an injury, but damn, this stuff is starting to catch up with me. I just don’t recover as well as I used to. Add to that Bextra is no longer available or safe to use, I’ll just have to live with my lumps.

All things considered, I don’t take falls as well as I used to, but it seems I can still fly through the air as well as I could when I was in my 20s.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Link Search

Every once in a while I’ll get email from someone who found this blog via a link from some web site. Most recently I found that I’ve been linked at This is a website that is attempting to bring small communities together and share the small town stories. I am happy to be linked there, though I’m sure their readers are disappointed when I post a sick day post or a post on the virtues of the music of Marilyn Manson.

I sincerely wish I could have a blog dedicated to a certain genre such as rural stories, but looking back through my June archives there seems to only be one quarter of the posts that touched on country life. I could run five or so blogs, one dedicated to music and arts, one for cynical opinions, one on local observations, one for childhood memories and one for rural and agricultural writings, but I would have a hard time posting to each blog on a daily basis. So for now this blog will still entertain all the things I feel like writing about.

I am now curious to find where (elsewhere) this blog is linked. Can anyone out share a free search service with me where I can find out which sites have links to this blog. I know some of you stat whores can get me exactly where I want to go. Better yet, if you have free time, do a search and report the findings. I’ll buy you a beverage of your choice the next time we meet.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Night Mare and Night Gelding

Having spent the 4th of July at home last year, I didn’t want to repeat that mistake this year. Last year I watched the horses freak out over all the new neighbors and their illegal fireworks. It made me wonder not only how people could stand making that much noise for that long a period, but how they could afford all those cherry bombs and fire crackers in the first place.

We decided to go horse camping. Now don’t get me wrong; I still hate camping, but it was better than fixing fences and stalls from the damage that freaked out horses can render on a farm. It’s better than nursing the ills of horses that result from stress. The horses lived through enough stress during the December storm when the stall roofs were blown off and they spent three days outside with their asses to the wind.

Fortunately, we have two horses that are easy to load and unload with the trailer. They willingly go when we want them to go. Having had horses that wouldn’t load easily took the joy out of going anywhere. One time we just wanted to abandon one horse that wouldn’t get back in for the ride home. We finally coaxed her in. When we got her home we set the trailer up next to her corral and put her food in there. She got over her fear of the trailer as soon as she got hungry, but she still gave us problems from time to time after that.

When camping with horses, one becomes aware of the noises horses make at night. With the tent less than 25 feet from their corral all you can hear all night is them munching on hay. It is in their best interest to remain quiet since they are prey animals. Their survival in the wild depends on not drawing attention to themselves.

After two days of camping I was ready to return home and the rains that came during the morning of the 5th further convinced me. We headed home to a warm shower and clothing that wasn’t moist. The horses seemed happy to see their pasture. It is true, there is no place like home.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Sick Day XXII

I’m sick of Television.

Why is Larry King still on the air? Hell, why is he still alive? He was an obnoxious dullard back in his radio days, and he hasn’t seemed to evolve into much more during the last 40 years. He may be devolving since he looks more like a lizard every day.

What the Hell is Elvira famous for? Does she actually have any talents, or is it all about the boobs?

Can anyone actually stand the blather on Anderson Cooper 360? Who’s bright idea was that format?

Situation Reality Shows have got to stop. Please! They’ve run out of ideas.

Have you ever noticed that it isn’t very often that you ever see someone in a TV show actually watching TV? If you want a real reality show it will be a bunch of people watching reality shows on TV. Now that’s real life and that’s real boring.

If you want a near life experience, turn off the TV.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Good Morning Country People

It sure is nice having chickens again. At least it is nice when I put the expense out of my mind considering how much it cost me to build the coop and fence in an area for them and feed them.

They are nice because they seem appreciative of everything. They flock around every day when I freshen their water. They get vocal when they see me coming toward them with a basket of weeds I just pulled from the garden. They dance around excitedly as I get ready to feed them their Layena and cracked corn. They love kitchen scraps.

I’m not even minding the roosters that crow at first light, though two of them will be soon dispatched to the freezer. I’ve had roosters before whose voices weren’t very pretty at all, sounding like an old mountain school bus horn. I’ve had other roosters that had sharp voices that pierced the walls and closed windows of the house like a combination of a chain saw mixed with a car alarm.

I am figuring all my new neighbors are enjoying the sounds of my roosters as much as they are sure I’m enjoying the sounds of their motorcycles, auto bass speakers and horn blowing every time they get in or out of their cars. I was going to go roosterless, but I think I will definitely keep one of them around for the country living thing that everyone seems to move out here for.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Remembering to Remember

I once read of a fellow in England who kept a diary of everything he ate every day and he said that it helped him remember everything he did on each day as well. His diary spanned several decades. I tried it for a while and it was pretty cool. It worked. I remembered more about the other events of the day when I wrote down what I ate. Try it.

I was considering doing it again, but then I realized I have this blog that pretty much does the same thing. I looked it up and as of the moments I am writing this I have 760 blog posts published here. Bind it all together and I’m pretty well along on the journey to having an autobiography. I do leave out a lot of information and stories just to prevent the readers from attacking me for some of the things I’ve done and thinking I’m a total douche or dumb-ass.

It’s funny how writing this blog every day has brought back long forgotten feelings and memories. Stuff shows up here that I have absolutely no reason to remember, but somehow it all comes back like an old friend that stopped by for a drink and a visit.

More surprising to me is that people visit here every day and take the yarns I spin and weave them into the cloth that they use to dust off their own memories. The more time I spend blogging the more I enjoy it.

Friday, July 04, 2008

4th Redux

I know there are many more readers here now than their were two years ago and there is so much content on this blog that I doubt anyone goes back and reads the archives when the decide to become a daily reader. With this said, today I will republish a 4th of July article I did here back in 2006 in the event you missed it.

A few years ago I attended a 4th of July party at the home of a friend in Astoria. She has a wonderful view of the river from a large deck. It was a perfect place for the 20 of us to view the Astoria fireworks.

Fireworks are special because you don’t see them every day unless you work at Disney Land. People have a certain reverence for things that don’t come around every day like fireworks, watermelon, the first frost, the first robin of spring, the first smell of autumn in the air…

The fireworks event was at the climax and the smoke in the sky was glowing with different colors as each burst of explosion flashed. The final explosion sent tendrils of glowing red, white and blue flames towards the river like the slowly moving branches of a weeping willow in the breeze.

It was at that moment a person standing next to me said, “just think of all the heavy metals they just added to the river.” Oh man, again something so innocent becomes sinister. Gone are the days when one could eat a hot dog, stand in the back seat of a convertible while it was being driven, or walk through a field in deer tick country. Is nothing safe and easy any more?

I have to admit that I no longer enjoy the visual uniqueness of the summer time light show because of this. I think about the sturgeon eaters eating the toxic tissue of the fish that inadvertently consumed a feast laced with heavy metals we put in the river. It is truly a wonder our life spans aren’t decreasing due to our own stupidity.

OK, I’m a kook, and you only believe what you read from a reliable source. Try this from

Fireworks produce smoke and dust that contain heavy metals, sulfur-coal compounds and other toxic chemicals. These by-products of fireworks combustion will vary depending on the mix of ingredients of a particular firework. (Green color, for instance, is produced by adding barium, a highly noxious heavy metal.) These variables include the amount of gunpowder used, type of oxidizer, colors produced, and launch method.

Pollutants from fireworks raise concerns because of potential health risks associated with the hazardous by-products. For most of us the effects of exposure to low levels of toxins over a long period of time are unknown but for persons with asthma or multiple chemical sensitivity the smoke from fireworks may aggravate existing health problems. Environmental pollution is also a concern because heavy metals and other chemicals from fireworks can contaminate water supplies and because fireworks combustion gases can contribute to such things as acid rain which can cause vegetation and even property damage. Because of the pollution some countries are against the use of fireworks, yet many events are populated with the use of fireworks around the world. In the US some states and local governments restrict the use of fireworks in accordance with the Clean Air Act which allows laws relating to the prevention and control of outdoor air pollution to be enacted.

Happy 4th every one!

Thursday, July 03, 2008


I know I risk making Syd puke, but I feel I need to write about mayonnaise. Here’s a comment that Bayou , a friend and Seattle blogger left the other day when were talking about regional foods that we can’t get where we now live.

“I grew up on "Blue Plate" which is no where to be found on the west coast. It was one of the items that I missed from the south. My mom relayed this to my aunt who attempted to send me a jar of Mayo in the mail. Except, she OPENED it first, transferred it to a plastic jar (instead of glass) and then proceeded to mail it. I suppose she forgot about that little "Refrigerate after Opening" statement. It was a jar of bright yellow toxic mush when it arrived. Actually, I'm surprised I've ever eaten mayo again...”

Mayonnaise is something that I’ve found a lot of people totally hate. It’s probably because they can attribute an incident of food poisoning to the stuff at one time or another. I have this same thing with oysters. I had one bad oyster and I’ll never eat them again.

I don’t have any wild mayonnaise enlightenment to share with you today. No stories of how it’s changed my life for the better or the worse. But upon contemplation writing about it today I took out a jar of Best mayonnaise to read over the label. I never noticed it before but there was a seal on the label that states mayonnaise is loaded with Omega 3s, half of the daily recommended daily dose. So rather than taking fish oil pills you can now load up on mayo. It makes one wonder why Baby Ruth candy bars don’t extol the virtues of the peanuts in their content list.

In honor of Richard Brautigan who actually ended his book, Trout Fishing in America with the word Mayonnaise. I too have always wanted to end a blog post with the word, mayonnaise.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Spiders, Man

After mentioning fleas infestations yesterday, I realized that there is a different infestation that all people in the Pacific Northwest seem to have at one time or another and that would be spiders. Sure I know of people with lady bug, or carpenter ant, or even termite infestation, but I think more people have spiders than anything else.

Oddly, the only place I ever see spiders in my house is in my bathroom. Never is the other bathroom or any other room in the house. I don’t know what they find so attractive in there. I have an exhaust fan in there that is so strong that the door nearly bulges if it is switched on. I get the feeling like it is the air-lock on a space ship and sometimes fear I will be sucked out and land on my roof one day. Needless to say there is absolutely no residual moisture in that room that is causing any little critters to grow and feed the spiders. Shower as hot and as long as you want and the mirror will never fog.

It’s not that the room is dark. There is a window. It’s not they are coming from beneath the house. Everything is really well sealed.

On a side note, this bathroom was once the entrance foyer to the house until the doors were relocated after additions were built. This area of the house was part of the original structure built in 1925. With each renovation the floor has gotten thicker over the years. I moved all the plumbing in there a couple years ago and when I had to drill holes through the floor, I found the floor was now over three inches thick.

Most of the time I will relocate spiders that end up in there. I have no idea how they get in there in the first place, but they always get a new chance at life outdoors. There are certain times of the year when the spider population explodes here. All out buildings are covered with web silk. I remember once I had some excavation work done and the following day when the sun rose I could see the ground had been covered by a carpet of webs, overnight. One might think there are a lot of insects here to feed that sort of population, but this isn’t a real buggy area. I just don’t understand how a population that size can sustain its self.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Flea Market

My wife and I were talking the other evening about how fleas haven’t seemed to be a problem for years now and we wondered why. It used to be that if you had pets you ended up with a summer flea infestation problem. Before flea drops there were flea collars and before that there was flea baths. There was constant vacuuming, fumigating and animal bathing. It’s a wonder anyone ever wanted to keep pets in the first place during the old days.

I can’t recall the last time I’ve seen a flea on any of our pets or having a flea show up unexpectedly on my foot or arm.

We went on to talk about the old days of flea infestation. My story was of a house I move into when I was 21 years old. The previous occupants had two St Bernards that rarely ever went out side. The house was trashed with urine, fleas and dog slobber. You couldn’t see through the windows because of the slobber and there was a half inch of solidified slobber on every window sill that I had to remove with a putty knife. I had to gut the house and rebuild the interior to make it livable. Before starting anything I had to fumigate it with sulfur candles. You never hear of sulfur candles anymore.

My wife topped my story because when she and her previous husband were house hunting in the Surf Pines area, a realtor took them into this one house where they noticed the carpet moving. They walked through and the three of them became covered with fleas. They ran out the door as quickly as possible and spent the next half hour brushing fleas from one another.