Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Ex Files

I occasionally think of my long ago ex wife or some of my ex girlfriends. Each woman added richness to my life and I learned much from each as well. Though most of the time I parted on good terms there is only a couple who are probably angry with me to this day. One because I said something about her art that she took as an insult though I meant it as a compliment and another because she was just angry with the world and everything in it. I was in her world so that put me right in the cross hairs.

When we think of ex’s we think of our ex’s or the ex’s of others. Rarely do we ever regard our selves as another persons’ ex. I have several ex’s, but rarely ever think of myself as the ex of several people. Even now as I examine the reversal of ex-ness it’s hard to get it all within one frame where the mirror constantly gets reflected back to me.

Another odd concept to grasp is when you learn that an ex has died. With any relationship one fantasizes what it would be like if the two of you became a couple, be it get married, live together over a long term. We examine what we think one another will look like as we age. How different my life would have been with each of them.

From all my ex’s I know for certain that three of them have died. Two from cancer and one took her own life. Had things gone a little differently in the past my sadness would have been much greater, though I am still saddened every day by one of them.

I really haven’t any more to say on this subject but to warn everyone that reads this that you are someone else’s ex. It’s isn’t a one sided arrangement.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Broken Promises and Stolen Pens

I've often written about my dear friend, Barbie. I speak of her with endearing terms, but in reality she is a pretty tough cookie. Out of all the people I've ever met I would say she is in the top ten of people that I know that don't trust blindly. I've never asked what hurt her so badly that she has become this jaded. It really isn't any of my business, but I don't take it personally when she doesn't open up with me. I am simply delighted that she shares the occasional good word or a laugh with me. I am thankful that I am not on her bad side.

One thing I’ve found in becoming successful living with the humanity portion of being human is assessing situations and lending the benefit of doubt when ever possible. This sort of humanity leaves one open for all sorts of heart breaks.

I have found that everything has value and giving things of value away without strings sometimes detracts from the value. I can recall only a few times when people have taken advantage of me. Once someone was having major computer problems, so I went over and spent several hours cleaning her system up, updating some software and I recovered lost files that were necessary for her professional career. She was grateful and offered me money. I wouldn’t take money, but I knew she was an excellent baker, so I asked her instead to sometime make a batch of chocolate chip cookies for me without chocolate chips in them. Q.E.D., she promised she’d drop them off for me within the next week. I never heard from her again.

Maybe I’m just too sensitive about broken promises, but sadly that broken promise comes to mind rather often.

On the other hand there is the broken trust that hurts even more. As many of you know I enjoy being alone. I’d much prefer to travel alone than be stuck in a car and have someone travel with me and have to listen to someone blather or have uncomfortable silence over long distances. There was a woman who needed a ride to a function we were both attending recently. I always keep a pen in the consol by the shifter in my truck. Well, this woman was sitting there and she reached down and picked up the pen, but I didn’t see her use it to write anything. That was the last I saw of that pen. It was a really good pen, too and I looked under the seat and on the floor for it. It was gone; she intentionally lifted it like a magpie taking a shinny object.

I know these incidents weren’t really bad like being robbed at gun point or a physical assault, but broken promises, broken trust and broken hearts need to mend just like other physical and psychological injuries. Some times we never mend.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Some Word Seeds for the Future

It’s funny how there is an electronic echo with concerns to the Internet. I get email and phone calls from people that have read one of my articles that were published years ago. I got a call last night from a fellow in Idaho that had read an article in which one of my articles were cited. From the citation he found my article on line which gave my contact information. This has now happened several times with this one particular article. I don’t mind. So far no one has ever woke me up with a late night call so as long as they call at a decent hour I’ll take their questions.

Another place the Internet echo shows up is here on the blog. I have all comments sent to my email address, so if someone comments on a really old article I’ll see it and still be able to reply to them. I feel if someone takes the time to comment, it’s the least I can do to comment back or at least acknowledge that I read what they had to say. I get most comments still on my posts about the United Way and the article I once did on Fibro Myalgia. Sometimes I’ll get a comment on an article I had long forgotten that I had written in the first place. I have to re-read it and try to figure out where my mind was when I wrote it.

It’s strange to think that something I do today will echo through time and space for eons. I wonder where the words I write today will end up. Will they just fade or will they be resurrected again long after I am gone. Will the future enlightened humans read these archives one day and think that it’s a good thing they didn’t have to live in a world where there were people like me around the way I consider life around the time of the French Revolution.

I’m just here to plant some seeds.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Pending Block

Sometimes I wonder about the future of blogging. I’ve come across so many talented writers that simply get burned out after a while and retire their blogs. Some formally announce their departure and others just fall off the face of the earth.

This week Beth closed down her blog. Beth was frequently the first every morning to comment here on articles I posted. He blog was mostly about books, but it was about her as well. It’s sad to shelf a Canadian friend like that. Boo7, another Canadian, used to be a regular, but then she fell in love so we never hear from her any more.

I correspond with other bloggers out there that are having a hard time getting the creative juices flowing. I suspect there may be many more deciding to take a break. There are a few that I read that are just going through the motions and they haven’t yet realized that they’ve dried up and should take a break.

Think of all the blogs that have folded up shop in the last two years here in Astoria. I seen a few that posted for a week and never returned. I think the most comprehensive list is at dried salmon. There are blogs there that haven’t seen the light of day in years. I wonder if their creators ever think of them. I have a lot of respect for Auntie who shut her blog down on a high note and then returned unexpectedly with even more gusto.

I guess blogging is something that either works for someone or it doesn’t. I feel good about doing it and hope to continue. And I know Auntie is sick of hearing it, but I have the same fears as all the bloggers I correspond with. I fear that I will run out of ideas after I close each article I write. What I write today (Wednesday) will be posted on Saturday and as of right now I’m out of ideas. It constantly haunts me that I will have to suspend what I do here. I fear that I will lose touch with those that read this blog on a daily basis. I also fear that one day I will announce that I’ve run dry, closing down the blog and then suddenly get hit with a hundred new article ideas after the barn door is closed.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Big Cat

I’ve ridden my bicycle alone on logging roads before and it usually hits me when I’m past the point of no return, “There might be cougars out here and they love to chase things that are moving fast.”

We’ve been on these same roads with the horses and I’ve heard suspicious sounds in the near by woods. There was one spot where the trees were clawed and the smell of cat must have been so strong that the horses freaked out every time we went near there.

Though I haven’t often seen big cat tracks in places I freequent, I do have a neighbor that used shrimp shells in his garden and saw a cougar rooting around one evening not too long ago. This is very close to where I live so I do have concerns.
Most people have never seen a cougar, and I can say that I’ve only seen one. I was driving on Lewis and Clark Road to Seaside one morning. If you remember the old windy road before they cut in the new one just passed the Main Line. The road wound upward and there was a big curve with a high embankment on both sides just before it started going down hill to the transfer station. It was at this curve where I saw a cougar jump from the high embankment to the center of the road and continuing it made one bound and jumped cleanly up the other embankment and then it was gone. Within the span of two seconds this cat covered fifty feet. I’ll never forget it and I hope I never see it again while in the open air.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Changes Needed

Ever since the inception of the World Wide Web there have been people concerned about perverts and Internet porn. The simple solution would have been to assign all adult sites as a Dot ADL or a Dot PRN. Those sites could have easily been blocked from the innocent stumbling upon them.

Some people say that you can’t stumble upon questionable material, but unless you phrase your searches very carefully you will stumble upon things you don’t intend to look at.

A while back I was looking on a photo site for a photo of a television and I couldn’t understand why I was coming up with all these photos of really ugly women. I was probably ten pages into the search before I realized that my search criteria was “TV” which stood for Transvestite.

Yesterday I was searching for photos of mules and I kept coming up with shoe fetish photos. Mules are some sort of shoe.

I’m starting to wonder is there is any object out there that no one has a perversion towards. I wonder if there is a word out there that can’t be twisted into a sexual connotation. Maybe we could change the spelling of all fetish words to start with a “P.”

That way a mule would mean an animal on four legs and a pmule would be spanking fodder…unless you get off on spanking as well then that would need to change to pspanking.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Mule People

Over the years I’ve written a few articles on horses and horse owners and how wondrous and peculiar they can be. I could write books on the odd behavior of horse owners. My most recent favorite compliment towards other horse owners is when I say to someone, “You’re pretty smart for someone who keeps horses.” Everyone seems to get it whenever I say that.

Now for the sake of self preservation I’m going to tread as lightly as I can tread upon where I’m taking this. If you have ever known horse owners you can immediately tell they are a little off, but “you ain’t seen nothing” until you come across mule owners.

First, I should be kind and blame their misgivings on a disability they all seem to share. You see, I believe they are all hearing impaired. I’m sure this is because they were the victims of the loud mule and donkey braying that dislodged any cilia in their ears.

It makes sense to me that they are deaf because they aren’t in the least bit annoyed by the sounds their animals make. Next they don’t seem to ever take a suggestion and keep on doing things in an often unsafe way even though you’ve mentioned the consequences to them. Another thing is most of them talk like they can’t hear themselves and the stupid things they are constantly saying.
Mules are known to be stubborn as are their keepers. I actually think it’s an active competition they have with one another. The winner is usually who ever out-lives the other. Mule owners often mistake guile for intelligence for both themselves and their mules.

I think that not only do you all get the point by now, but I’ve probably dug this hole deep enough. I’m sure I’m going to hear from some mule owners out there who are going to do their best to make an ass out of me for these words, but hey, I’ve never been accused of not being an ass.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Hybrid, Schmybrid

Recently I’ve mentioned, at least I think I mentioned here that I am becoming totally skeptical about the “Green” and “Organic” industry and all the supposed good that these industries do for the earth. I love it when someone takes a rational look at something that someone is trying to sell us. So this one if for all who feel smug about having purchased a Toyota Pius…I mean Preus.

You will need to scroll down to the second video at this site, the one on Hydrid cars. These guys are great!

Fast Draw

Monday, September 22, 2008


When I first moved here I was delighted by all the water. Back on the east coast water was always the center piece for most outdoor activities. There where rubber rafts, aluminum boats, wooden boats, sail boats, ski boats and cabin cruisers that were all a part of my former life.

For my first few years I only participated in the water as a viewer or as an angler from the shore. It wasn’t enough. One day I ended up kayaking in Nehalem Bay in a rented kayak and I was hooked. At that time, the kayak rental company sold their kayaks off at the end of the season. I added my name to their list in July to purchase two of them.

I felt like a child again anticipating the day when my kayaks would be available for pick-up. I realize now that most adults these days never have to wait for anything. It’s all now is about instant gratification. If you want something, you go get it. If you can’t afford it you put it on credit.

As a child I had to save my money to buy a bicycle and many of the other things my kid money was saved for. You could gage how long it would take my keeping track of your savings rate. You could spend the time pining away in anticipation.

Here I was, and adult pining away with anticipation for my kayaks. I would think of them as I fell asleep every night and they would be my first thought in the morning. I thought about the waters I’d put into and the wondrous things I’d see and the currents I’d feel while drifting. In my mind I could see the paddle dipping into the water leaving water-like foot prints and I paddled forward.

It was early October when I got the call that I could pick them up. I don’t recall much about the drive, or even strapping them down to my utility trailer. However, I do remember there being several hours of day light left when I returned home. I took one kayak to the landing on the Lewis and Clark River by the bridge that is near the Grange. Just as I had fantasized, my launch was perfect. The tide was coming in and I paddled and drifted up stream to view parts of the river I had never seen before. It was truly beautiful.

To seal the deal in my mind that I had made the right purchase, I came around a bend in the river to see the sun shining between gray clouds casting a spot light on several vine maples that were in full autumn color on the bank. The water was still and their reflection doubled the visible color.

At that time the tide went slack, and I was able to float there in the colorful theater for nearly a half hour before the tide started pulling me back to the launch.

When ever I see the maples changing color I am taken back to that day. I consider dusting off a kayak and reliving the experience all over again.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Refining and Redefining

Yesterday, we explored a word, temper. Today let’s look at the word, “draw” and what it has in common with beer. In my world the word “Draw” always meant to pull. Draft meant to pull as well, that’s why there are draft horses; they pull things. When you drink a beer you draw it from the glass and there is draft beer which is pulled from the keg.

You can pull money by taking a draw and pulling money from a checking account has one drafting a check.

I was once in a drawing class where the instructor asked what the definition of “Draw” was, to which I answered, “to draw is pull, like pulling an image from a surface with a tool.”

It’s interesting when we become so comfortable with the meaning of words that we lose touch with its roots and its meaning. Many words seem to take on very shallow and narrow definition after their over-use, like if you thought of the word draw without a reference to pulling. However, when one takes words apart and looks at the crude from which their vapors were refined; one will find a much deeper unintentional meaning that is often more literal and fitting than what one would believe possible.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Temper, Temper

To say that someone has a temper is actually a good thing. In reality it should mean they are flexible just as it would mean when talking about tempered metal. Now those that possess a bad temper means they are brittle and can break when bent.

Tempering or conditioning metal is a lengthy process of heating and cooling and this seems to be the same process of tempering a human as well. Those that haven’t lived through sessions of heating and cooling seem to have a bland and ridged existence. Someone who has seen it all and lived through it before are more able to handle more. They have more of a tolerance for the pressure of life and seem to be able to wiggle through it all without breaking.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The Factory

There is a joy in seeing someone with talent making a good living from things they produce with their own hands. I am also amazed when I see the guile of some that think their wares have a greater value than would be expected. This is kind of like the kid with a Kool Aid stand trying to sell a glass for $5. The philosophy is that all they need to sell is one and that way they won’t have to piddle around selling 100 glasses at 5 cents a piece. Local galleries have a lot of these high dollar artists that they try to sell. As I’ve said many times before, “so many artists, so little art.”

Actually I want this rant to go into a different direction and that is ‘Factory Art” which is when someone gets famous and starts a studio with a bunch of apprentices that end up doing all the work and the artists gets all the product recognition and the money. I’m talking about artists such as Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons and Dale Chihuly.

I compare their art with factory farms. They churn out crap for the masses leaving little for the personal intimate contact for which most art is intended.

I have a reasonable art collection in my house. Each piece has a story that authentically raises its value, at least to me. I pride my self on not having any corporate or factory art. I have even seen pieces that I liked, so I went out of my way to meet the artist. Once I found that I don’t like them as a person I no longer have any interest in buying their art.

Art is like anything else. I don’t support lumber yards I don’t like, so why would I support an artist I didn’t like?

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Scent of Fear

It is interesting to see the difference in the words that are used if you are conservative or progressive. Take for example the sensational, “Global Warming”, a phrase that is meant to strike fear. When conservatives accepted that something is actually happening to the climate they reduced the spin by calling it, “Climate Change.”

Progressives will use the term “Illegal Immigrants” or “Undocumented Workers” while conservatives use the term “Illegal Aliens.” This conservative notion isn’t new. Growing up in on the east coast I lived in what was once called a Melting Pot because people of all cultures landed in New York and New Jersey as they fled all sorts of nasty conditions in Europe and West Asia. Most arrived poor and unwelcome, though all seemed to find their place in the workforce.

Most notable were the Italians who came here with amazing skills for masonry, stone masonry and tile setting. It was the Italians that shouldered the burden for all the building projects of the early to mid 20th century. They were the new kids on the block and most inhabitants shifter their hatred from the Irish to the Italians.

Somehow, a complimentary Spanish term “Guapo” pronounced wapo, was used by those that liked the swarthy Italian look to describe the new immigrants was twisted by xenophobes into WOP, which they said stood for Without Papers or Without Passport.

Fear is the means by which over-reaction is delivered to the mass culture. Fortunately the word “Spin” was coined in the 90s. It added to the cynicism of the masses, but at least now when wild accusations are made, someone can expose the spin and illuminate the subject in a different light.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008


After seeing news of a strike at Boing I realized that we rarely ever see strikes any more. Memorable strikes in my memory were the Postal strike back in 1970, the UPS strike in 1997, the Air Traffic Controller Strike of 1984. Garbage strikes in New York City were always memorable. We hear of the occasional teacher strike in individual districts. Last year there was the Writers strike.

It seems like we never see striking like we used to in the 60s and 70s. If strikes happen they quickly fade from view in the media.

I was talking with our visitors from France about strikes. They said there is seemingly a strike in France every day, but they are aren’t total walk out and picket strikes like we have here. What will happen there is that the truck drivers will get pissed off about something and they will have a one-day demonstration to show how miserable life will be without them. The next day it will be the bus drivers. The next day the butchers will stage an event, then the taxi drivers, then the post office… Every day it is another branch of organized labor that puts on a show. People that live there would love to have a weekly list of what organizations plan an uprising just so they can plan to get through their daily lives with minimal interruption.

It doesn’t seem like the modern day American strikes work. I’ve heard that if a worker is on the picket line for more than two weeks they will rarely ever make up the loss of income from the strike over the next period of their contract. Maybe the French day of inconvenience is the way to go to get a message across, though I’m not sure how well it is working over there. It must have some limited success or why would they continue this ritual every day.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Golden Blackberry Mornings

Sometimes I think things with a limited season serves to make us appreciate our lives, the cycle of life and death and the joys of things that make the seasons special. They make us slow down and take notice and enjoy the day.

Today I am talking about blackberry season. For readers on the east coast your blackberry picking season ended in July. When I lived back there the season was usually in its peak on the first day of summer, June 21st. I saw some people picking by Astoria High School in early September, but here at my place the berries just came into season last week. I saw them while riding my horse back home through the trails on the back end of my property.

The next evening I went out and picked two gallons. The next morning I went out and picked another two gallons. I now have enough berries to make a years worth of jam. I now go out every morning to pick berries to feed the horses and chickens. It’s not that they need the supplement, it’s the ritual of hanging a bucket strap around your neck and heading up the dew covered trail to where the berries grow.

Mornings around the wild berry patches are alive with dew covered webs and early morning birds. The silence is abbreviated by the sounds of birds and the sounds of choker horns from distant logging operations. Pigeons bounce on the cascara branches as deer browse and grouse rustle under the salal. It is a time when one can see their breath dissipate in the autumn scented air.

There is a sound of the berries hitting the bottom of the bucket that muffles more and more with each hand full. There are thorns that pierce the denim as one over-reaches for those big berries just nearly close enough to pick.

Two gallons of picking is just enough. By the time I pick two gallons I can already smell the warmth of the day coming on. The dew starts to dry and my hands are stained purple as in my tongue from the occasional samples that must be taken for quality control.

When I come down from the hill the horses meet me at the gate and the chickens run in their fenced yard to get as close to me as possible seemingly demanding my attention and their cut of the bounty. I do not disappoint.

These blackberry mornings are golden. Sadly from what I see I will have at best only five more mornings like it this year before the berries will all be gone. Soon my mornings will be spent dodging rain and wind while doing my chores which makes these golden blackberry mornings even more precious.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Apples of Autumn

I can feel the autumn in the air every morning as I go out to feed the horses and chickens. It is just getting light at their feeding time and though there has yet to be a frost I know it isn’t far behind.

It occurs to me that apples are symbolic of autumn. There is that apple smell that seems to drift for miles on cool September mornings. We lost all of our apple trees in the storm but someone upwind from my house has some.

It was in September when we would be drawn farm stands when I was growing up. There they were selling what remained of the summer harvest. Corn and beans were less prominent at the stands and they had been replaced by squash, pumpkins and apples. The really good farm stands were selling jellies, jams and honey. If it was a really good stand they sold cider as well.

One of my favorite apple memories was when I was in my twenties and I spent a lot of time in the Adirondacks every fall. I would stop in the apple growing community of Chasey, New York and pick up a quarter bushel and then I’d head over to a spot on the Saranac River and set up camp where I would fish for trout. I would live for days on the apples and the fish I caught.

Apples go a long way as the building blocks of my fond autumn memories.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Computers and Cats, A Comparison

Computers are not intuitive like living creatures. I can state this because I was having a conversation with someone that was having a problem with her network. Her company was getting ready to replace the system with a new one and every day more and more problems came up on the old system. She said to me, “you’d think the old system would behave better in an attempt to save its skin.”

I replied and told her the problem is that the system doesn’t have skin. Things with skin behave differently. I went on to tell her about a cat that once lived with us. He was a lazy mackerel tabby who never had any interest in mousing or even chasing moths.

One day we brought home a new kitten as a companion for him, and he immediately though we were going to replace him. For the next month he reliably came home with mice to lay at the door step. There were no fewer than four mice offerings every day.

Sooner or later he figured out that his tenure with us was not in jeopardy so he quit mousing all together.

Anyway, I suggested that my friend fast-track the replacement of her network because computers have no feelings of loyalty, what so ever.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Changing Names

There is something about the sanctity of a name. We’ve had horses that came with names we didn’t like and we never changed or even abbreviated them. When ever I brought up the subject with people it is just an unwritten law that you don’t mess with a horses name, even though I have never known a horse that is called by its registered name. It’s like they are born and they get names that are a combination of the sire and the dams registered name and then they get a nick name that they are known by for the rest of their lives.

There was a geological feature near where I grew up. It was called Pigeon Rock, but recently I saw it referred to as Hawk Rock. The damn thing still looks like a pigeon poised atop a granite mountain, but somehow “Pigeon” didn’t fit the character of the new population. I felt a bit resentful about the name change, but then I realized something.

The question might be, “Who owns history?” but I know that my generation changed the names of places that our parents had different names for. There was a place where we used to go fishing and we called it the Union Hall because this piece of river was right behind the UAW building, but to my father’s generation called that piece of river, “Horses Drink” because it was a good place for people to water their horses back when people used horses for every day living. I’m sure if that building is still there it is called something else now since the auto plant has been gone from that town for twenty five years now.

Maybe it would be a good idea to have the opportunity to renew ones name or the names of anything every twenty five years or so. If you ruin your name, that’s OK, you get a fresh start after 25 years. If you live in a town with a name that has a bad connotation because of an event, change the name and change it back in twenty five years if it is appropriate. After all New York was once New Amsterdam. If that can change anything can change.

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Booth

I remember the first time I ever went into a voting booth. My father was a paraplegic and back then there were no ADA standards when it came to voting booths. He was unable to pull the levers in the limited space while he was in his wheel chair. Unable to come up with any other method for him to vote the local precinct allowed me to go into the booth with him and pull the levers for him.

At that time I was politically unaware. I wasn’t even registered to vote at that time. My father was a Republican and I never realized just how Republican he was until that thirty- seconds in the voting booth. He simply instructed me to pull every lever on the Republican side.

It was then that I realized that most people in the country vote their party rather than the issues the candidate stands behind. Often times it is one and the same, but sometimes it is not.

When I eventually did register to vote I registered as Independent. I feel absolutely inclination over party politics. In fact I get turned off when I see a candidate quote chapter and verse of their party platform and run under their flag.

There are a lot of problems being registered Independent. First I am the constant target of mail and telephone campaigns. I am often the target of surveys, which I do not respond to.

Another problem is that there are rarely any “independent” thinkers worth voting for. Any that get attention are quickly beaten down by the “Parties.” So we are stuck with an angry old man and his token puppet that has been sequestered like a veal, or young man that stumbles through his speeches and his mis-spoken, plagiarizing VP candidate.

The worst part is that most Americans are buying this two party sham and things will suck when either of them win.

While I’m here, allow me one more thought. I’m kind of pissed off by the elitism from both sides when they question leadership experience of both Obama and Palin. What they are saying is that no citizen/patriots are qualified to lead the country unless they have served several terms in the Congress, Senate or as Governor. Why are the voters of this country allowing this sort of crap to happen? Are they all sheep?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Dance of the Economy

It’s amazing how little one can get by on, but I wonder what the limit is. When I moved here my compromise was that my income would be one third of what it was when I was employed on the East Coast. I still lived well compared to the standards of most of the country.

I won’t go into the boo-hoo story, but our family income suffered a strong blow in May as our income was again reduced by half. Other than a mortgage we have little debt, but we still had to make some life style changes by dropping all subscriptions and we got rid of the dish and opted for very basic cable, which I may drop all together because other than OPB, basic television is really bad. I really miss HBO and the Documentary Channel and the Daily Show.

We can no longer afford chartable contributions, but we donate things we already own and our time to the causes we champion.

We conserve in many other ways as well. Any purchases are contemplated and pondered for a while before anything is bought. Laundry is only done on days that can facilitate line drying. We don’t go out to concerts, plays or movies. We don’t go out to eat. We don’t drive anywhere unless we have to.

This is the closest we have ever been to abject poverty, yet we still live pretty well. We have a home and insurance for the home, farm, automobiles and health. We pay all our bills in full and on time.

It’s almost like an economic game of Limbo. I wonder just how low we can set the bar and still get under it. I’m sure there is still more waste I can eliminate.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Bad Eggs

I'm sure many of the long time readers here know how much I hate pot-lucks, yet I am constantly a part of functions that seem to require this sort of activity. So there I was on Saturday, preparing to go to yet another pot-luck, but this time I had a plan. If you remember I have all these chickens that lay many more eggs than I can deal with without forming another business plan. It seems that everyone loves deviled eggs and I saw this as an opportunity to rid myself of two dozen eggs in one swoop.

I tell my wife that what I'm going to do, but she's seen me go off and do things on my own before so she tells me that I'd better check the Joy of Cooking on how to make the perfect hard boiled egg. Normally I just place the eggs in boiling water for five minutes, then run cold water over them and that's it. That's the way my mother did it, and that's the way I've always done it, but the Joy of Cooking has something about simmering the eggs for fifteen minutes without a full rolling boil.

I figured that a fight will ensue if I do it my way now that the Joy of Cooking has spoken, so I follow the instructions to the letter. After the eggs cooled I crack one to see how well I did. Chunks of egg were coming off with the shells. I rolled the egg to make smaller pieces, and it was just impossible. I tried another egg and it was even worse. I tried each of the 24 eggs and none of them even approached what looked like a useable egg.

I ended up getting cream puffs from Costco, which went over well and someone else brought deviled eggs to the pot-luck. Another good thing that came out of the pot-luck is that I met someone that wants to buy nearly half of my flock so now I won't have such an egg problem and I'll save on feed bills.

I heard that you can’t use fresh eggs for making hard boiled eggs. But my question is how does one boil an egg, and how is it done so as not to turn the yolks green?

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

An Evolution

While having a debate with CP in the comments of an article last week I found myself reflecting on all the stuff I’ve written here over the years. Looking through the archives I noticed an evolution of sorts. I used to be really pissed off. I could do a bitter nasty article at the drop of a hat and now-a-days I dread coming up with a monthly sick day post.

I know I’ve been losing my edge since I moved here from the East Coast. I mellow more and more with each passing year. Reviewing what I’ve written over the last year I see how much this blog is becoming like the Prairie Home Bathroom Companion. No wonder Moose never comments anymore.

Maybe it because I’ve run out of embarrassing stories. I’ve put them out there already and now I have mostly the day to day stuff to write about. Sometimes I toy with starting a new blog and writing all the nasty stuff that I really want to write about. I don’t write a lot of stuff now because too many of you know me and I would like to be able to face many of you again in the future. Presently, the squirrels in my brain are very discrete.

I would like to say that I’m going to try harder to get back to my old self, but I’m pretty content with the bore I’ve become.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Don't Ride Em, Cowboy

As I mentioned in an earlier post we went camping with the horses last weekend. There were several other horse campers there as well. The afternoon was winding down and most were getting their fires going for dinner and just relaxing after afternoon rides.

A small group returned to camp on horse back and they stopped to chat with some folks down the way. The camp ground was rather silent with tired horses and riders. Suddenly one of the horses that came in exploded and started bucking with a rider on its back. All you could hear was the rhythmic breathing and the rhythm of the hooves smashing the ground each time the horse came down.

The rider tried to regain control of the horse and stay on. He lasted for probably five vaults and then he went flying. A guy with a lot of rodeo experience got the horse under control.

This horse was a new purchase and no one really knew its history. Most folks would wonder if it was being pinched by the saddle or girth, but the rodeo guy insisted someone get back on to show the horse so the horse wouldn’t learn a bad behavior that he could get his way by acting badly. Someone with training experience stepped up. Within 30 seconds the trainer was flying through the air. The horse dumped him and ran through camp bucking the entire time. He ran around some horse trailers and went into an empty corral stall right next to my horse. At this point all the horse in camp were freaking out. I could see my horse wondering if he should start kicking at this psycho horse or jump the fence himself.

We closed the bucking horse in to let him calm down. We reached in to loosen his saddle and within 15 minutes he had calmed down enough to be escorted out. He remained in his own corral stall the rest of the weekend. We never got to the bottom of what the cause was, but something tells me this horse will soon become a menu item in Paris.

It’s funny how often we’ve seen illustrations of bucking broncs and how we have romantic notions of this being the symbol of the wild west, but in fact it is a very dangerous situation. This horse could have injured several people and damaged a lot of peoples’ possessions.

Camp remained quiet for hours after the event. All the horses and people were shaken. It is a sight and a sound I’ll never forget.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

The Pains of Middle Age

OK, I really need some input from readers in their 50s, though there is probably only a hand full of them out there. My question is if you have aches and pains almost every living minute of the day or is it that I’ve just abused my body so much that it’s telling me to knock it off.

Back when Bextra was on the market it worked really well on aches and pains, but it was giving people heart attacks.

It’s sad to think that one can hurt so much from puttering around doing little projects. I guess it’s pay back from hauling bundles of shingles up on the roof, spending hours working on plumbing in a confined space, cutting, splitting and hauling fire wood.

I know that both my father and my brother felt a big change when they hit their 50s, but I never thought it would happen to me. Maybe it’s time I suck up my male ego and visit with a physician. Maybe there’s something that can help.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

An Earlier Expedition

The post yesterday brought to mind another excursion my brother and I had when we were very young in Canada. As I’ve mentioned several times before we would spend out summers on a lake in Canada.

One day someone asked us to portage one of their boats through the woods on a barely established path to a lake that was about a half mile from the lake we were on. The boat was a twelve-foot plywood boat so it was much lighter than the 16 foot boats that we used up there that were made from five-quarter and oak planks.

Our payment for this portage was that we were allowed to fish on the private lake in the woods. It was a small lake, maybe only ten acres, but the fishing there was great. My brother and I still talk of this place to this day.

As instructed, we left the boat there for its owner to use when he had the energy to hike up to that lake.

The following year by brother and I returned to Canada and we took the time to hike up to the small lake for some more of that great wilderness fishing. The boat was on the shore right where we had left it except there wasn’t much left of the boat.

Apparently the porcupines had eaten it. Any surface that had been touched by humans was eaten. The oars, the seats and the gunnels were all chewed. Holes were chewed in sections of the ply wood. The boat could no longer even hold rain water.

Having never experienced porcupines previous to this we learned that this little animal especially zones in on any wood that has the sweat or oil from human hands on it.

Friday, September 05, 2008

The New Lake

I am a big fan of topographical maps. I have every map of this county and I study them often. The Internet also makes it possible to view satellite maps which can be just as much fun.

Recently I was looking at Google Maps and I saw something strange. There was a lake where there hadn’t been one previously. I dragged out the maps and looked them over. No lake in that spot…ever, but there it was on the photo from the satellite.

I showed this to my brother, who is seven-years my elder and equally excitable by maps. He immediately went to study my evidence and concluded that an expedition was in order. I am pretty familiar with the topography because I often ride horses in the general area.

A few days later we mounted our mountain bikes and headed down the logging roads that would put us within a half mile of the new lake. We stashed our bikes and started bush whacking. There was some old logging roads and elk trails to walk on but the December storm fell trees making all path useless. It was easier making our own trails around the root balls.

This reminded me of when we were kids. We constantly wandered the Ramapo Mountains looking for Indian artifacts, caves, homesteads and mines. It reminded me that I don’t spend enough time with my brother and that I have very fond memories of or childhood.

We taught our selves at an early age to read maps and how to read the land and how distance and direction are related. We both seem to have the ability to not get lost. Within a half hour we arrived at the northwest shore of the lake.

The lake was a good find and yet a disappointing find. The water was murky and weedy, though there were signs of fish. There was a recently manicured lawn and a couple of docks and pick-nick tables. There were two paddle boats and two row boats. There was a port-a-potty. It looked like a private recreation area that can be used as a company benefit.

Though it was nice to solve the mystery of the new lake, I doubt we will ever return there again. Best of all it was nice to get back in the woods with my brother. It took me all the way back to when we started this sort of activity nearly a half century ago.

Thursday, September 04, 2008


Three of us were sitting at the camp fire after dinner the other night. It was just getting dark and that is the time when we look for “afters” and I had a surprise. I went to my pack and brought out a package of Jiffy Pop. My other two camp fire mates groaned and started talking about all the times they had been disappointed this product. They said they always marvel at the foil dome and how big it gets only to find an inedible burned mass inside.

I quietly held the wire handle pot over the open flame hoping to prove them wrong. Within moments I could hear the oil inside starting to sizzle and I occasionally shook the contents.

Like a rocket going off, the corn started popping and I shook it some more resting the batch every few seconds and then shaking again while suffering the constant haranguing of my camp mates about the inevitable doom our snack would face.

Eventually the popping was at an end. When there was a four second interval between the pops I removed the container. The dome was full, but I waited for the final insults before I opened it to find I had made an absolute flawless batch. There was not even one burnt piece and nearly all corns had popped; maybe five unpopped cornels in total.

I shared it with the nay-sayers, and they immediately had to admit that I pulled it off. Best yet, it was really-really good. It made the night. Better yet; it allowed me an opportunity to be smug. It is so cool when things work out better than one might expect.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Hit the Shower

We recently had visitors from France staying with us for around a week. We have several guest rooms, and they are in close proximity to my bathroom. I always give my bathroom to guests that stay with us and I use my wife’s bathroom during that time.

My wife’s bathroom is new so it has a low flow toilet and her shower has all sorts of water saving devices. She doesn’t mind because she prefers softer showers than I.

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you may remember an article back in March of 2007 Tank Drainer 2000

One thing I love about my bathroom is that I have a shower head that can make the water pierce the skin. I call it the Tank Drainer 2000. It is probably illegal to possess such a shower head in Oregon, but I don’t care.

One of the first things I do when long term guests leave is hit the shower. Ahhh, Tank Drainer 2000, I can’t live without you.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Sick Day XXIV

OK, I’m sick of stupid restaurant stuff. Why is it that Mexican restaurants have to make every thing look cheap and dirty? First they usually lay tiles every where in an amateurish style. Tiles are uneven with entirely too much room for grouting between them. Then they use flat paint that looks like washed terra-cotta. They go through great expense to buy all this tile and then they spend extra time scuffing up the paint to make it look old and like it survives in an arid climate. Then they hang the gaudiest painting on the walls. Painting on velvet and paint by numbers is not only acceptable, it most honored. It makes me think, if they think it’s OK to put this shit on their walls, what kind of stuff are they thinking is OK to put in their food?

Chinese restaurants are slightly better. They at least give gifts of a sort. You get tea, chop sticks and fortune cookies and with take out you get condiments and a take out menu for next time. Their art is slightly better than Mexican restaurant art and sometimes it is even interesting. BUT what the hell is it with the statues and figurines of the Buddhas with enormous mongoloid heads? I mean, damn, take those creepy little things home with you. Occidental people really don't need to look at that sort of stuff. It doesn't make us feel enlightened. It makes Buddha look like he goes to school in the short bus.

Now Japanese restaurants look clean and orderly and I'm sure they are, but you know, it is easy to over do it with the sushi on the conveyor belt thing. Oh, and that Benihana thing is a joke, right? It's OK to laugh, isn't it?

I don't mean to sound like a cultural douche bag here because we as Americans have a lot of problems with our restaurants as well. We have Chilie's, Applebees and Red Robbin. We have restaurants that put forward the face of a clown and a king with a creepy plastic head, least we forget the guy who looks like and antenna ornament. Then we have the palaces of sodium. This is where the food is so salty that I have no idea how anyone can stand it; Olive Garden, Pizza Hut and Newport Bay, to name a few.

There's nothing like a home cooked meal at home.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Returning From Taking Off

Sorry I haven’t responding to all your replies over the past several days. We’ve been away horse camping far out of any wireless range and cell phone range as well. We took time away from the endless chores that will now have to wait a few more days or weeks to get taken care of.

It looks like we had even more rain while I was away. There was some major pasture growth while we were gone and it was nice turning the horses out onto something green instead of a dry sacrifice lot with some hay and dust.

As with all of my adventures, stories of this trip will probably make it here, especially ones about inconsiderate people, people with dogs and most of all a nearly double near death ride for two people.

For now, thanks for not sending out the search party. I know I forgot to tell anyone I wasn’t going to be here. Auntie even called after I didn’t show up to reply to comments.

Hey, it’s Labor Day, or Labour Day to you Canadians. I made it home without injury other than the joints and the ribs being a bit more delicate. I even made a few business deals over a camp fire or two.

So as you prepare to go back to work or school, I will prepare myself to repair the last bit of storm damage and get prepared for the winds that are sure to return this winter.