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Three score and ten or more

Thursday, September 21, 2006


Lightening tree (above and right)

Pears (below) on the tree
Pears in the tree (still)

More pears on the ground
Pears on the ground

A couple of weeks ago, I grumbled and complained on an off line that my modem seemed to have blown and I could make DSL connections and- and -.

Carl, the homeless, came back and got some work done in my yard (and then disappeared again, I hope he is working happily in the chicken factory and doesn’t need me any more).

I got an offer and signed a contract for the sale of my house to a company that plans to turn it into a super minit market/service station. The whole thing is conditional on getting a zoning variance, which may or may not be possible so it could go up in smoke.

PATIENCE! I think I can tie all this together, and if I can’t, well----I can’t. But any way, I decided that if I was going to move, I would make a record of some of the stuff in and around my house. In preparing to do that, I took Carl with me out into the yard to get him to help me make it somewhat presentable for pictures. As we walked around the yardd and I pointed out bushes that need trimmed, lawn that needed cutting, stuff like that, he asked me when lighting hit the tree. Not knowing what he was talking about I asked him “What lightning? What tree?” He pointed out a tall pine tree (about two feet thick at the base, and about ten feet from the headboard of my bed) that had a strip of white from the roots clear up to the top of the tree. “That there tree. See that burr all the way to the top. That’s lighting, and the tree’s gonna die and you’ll have to cut it down”.

I had never seen a tree hit by lightning that wasn’t shattered at the top and turned into toothpick shards, but it was obvious that he knew what he was talking about, and that I understood why my modems, my network cards and my router were no longer functional. The wonder is that I didn’t have melted wires both in my power system and in the head that had lain sleepily on the pillow through the noisy thunderstorm (about ten feet from where the lighting struck) as well as a destroyed roof and whatever else kind of damage would come along. (If blogger cooperates, their will be two or three pictures of the lightning scarred tree that DIDN’T fall on my head.

As we walked around the yard, we passed both of my pear trees (I have a picture of one of them back in my post about the spring in Georgia). I have given away at least two bushels of pears, I have steamed two pots of pears and put the fruit in the refrigerator to eat for breakfast. I have made at least three gallons of pear juice, one of which now sits in the refrigerator waiting for me to try to finish it before I travel to Finland next week. Between my wife, second son, and my self, we have made six or eight pear cobblers to take to friends, and eaten two or three ourselves (best with Blue Bunny vanilla ice cream, but pretty darn good with half and half or whipped cream sprayed from a can.) and the task I gave Carl was to shovel up the pears that littered the ground under both trees. (The orient pears, which are the shape of grapefruit and so juicy that you can’t eat one and keep a clean shirt, were no longer on the tree. All had been picked, eaten, given away, or fallen on the ground to be eaten by wasps, fire ants, sugar ants, and a variety of critters, or to rot.) The pineapple pear tree was a special mess, so he raked up a wheel barrow full of rotten pairs from the orient, and two wheelbarrows full of semi-rotted pears from the pineapple pear tree and put them out on the curb for the trashman. This happened at the end of last week. Carl has not returned, so yesterday I picked, and picked up, another big box of pears, took another couple of Wal Mart plastic bags to otherwise innocent friends who probably are now giving them to their friends. The pictures (if blogger wills)above will show a ground littered with at least a wheel barrow load of pears and a tree that is still so loaded with fruit, that I am going to Europe next week, and I will pretend that they were put to some kind of good use. I expect to come back in ten days to find a foot deep pile of rotted pears (unless I can talk the house-sitter into picking them and giving them away, but I suspect that such is not in the contract.)

If all goes well, sometime within the next 180 days my house will belong to someone else, I will have moved to somewhere else, and I will probably be feeling really wistful about this old brick barn that has been home for the past thirty plus years. In the mean time, the pecans will fall from the tree, and, thanks to the pride of feral felines in the yard, this year I should be able to pick up a few pounds to give away for Christmas.
If all doesn’t go well, I will probably move anyway, and turn my house into one the the many home grown dormitories surrounding the university. We’ll see.

Sunday, September 17, 2006



Item the first:
I believe that I have told you earlier about Carl, the “homeless” black guy, who thinks (probably with accuracy) the he owns the franchise on me.  While I was visiting my daughter in South Carolina a few months ago, Carl disappeared.  One day he was coming by every couple of days looking for cars to wash, lawn to mow, weeds to pull, and if nothing else works, “a favor” (which means enough money for a meal or--), the next day he was gone.  He left some remembrances in the form of bicycle parts he had scrounged, and an old lawnmower he was repairing, so, though moving his “stuff” out of view I still remembered his existence.  I even missed him a little when I was trying to talk number two son into mowing the lawn, or trying to find an excuse not to do it myself.

The first of last week, he showed up, energetic as ever, looking for something to do, or a “favor” .   I asked him where he had been, and he answered me in his own particular patois of ebonics, gullah, and slurred syllables.  (He has a language of his own, that reminds me of my youth when I used to speak to my mother in “Jazz”.  It was just intelligible enough so that if anything went wrong, I could say “But Mom, I told you all about it, remember when----“) and I still don’t have a clue.  I thought that they had probably violated his parole and sent him back to jail, but he wasn’t gone long enough for that.

Anyway, he mowed the lawn, moved his trashy bicycle parts out to the place where the city will pick them up, raked a bunch of leaves, and got away with twenty bucks.  The next day he came to knock on the door to tell me PROUDLY, that he had a job.  He is going to work at the chicken factory (Claxton Poultry) down in Claxton, about twenty five miles away.  He actually had tears in his eyes he was so proud, and I had tears in mine, I was just about as proud as he was.

Now comes the kicker.  He needs more work today because he has to buy gas for the old man who is going to “carry” him to work and back, and he won’t get paid till the twentieth so he needs a little food money- - - you know the drill.   With one thing and another he is almost up to a hundred bucks now, and I have come to the conclusion that I can’t afford to have him have a job.   I am also running out of stuff for him to do.  He is coming in tomorrow (his day off) to work off four hours of work for which I have already paid him, and I know, in my heart, he is desperately going to want something else to do so that he can make another ten bucks, and on and on and on.

He is becoming like my Pride of feral cats.  A year or so ago, I was troubled with squirrels eating all the pecans off my pecan tree.  An old tomcat came around, so I gave him a little bowl of kittie kibble each evening, and he took serious care of the squirrels.  Soon he brought a friend to dinner and now I have eleven cats, including three of the cutest little kittens, who feed in my yard.  I saw one of them yesterday lying in the sun watching   a squirrel climb the pecan tree.  Mind you these are totally wild cats.  Most of them won’t allow me to touch them, but if dinner is late they will yowl to remind me.  (The three kittens are actually domesticated to the degree that they will climb in my lap—a mixed blessing since I am allergic to cats.)
Any way, now I have Carl, and if he shows up with a friend (particularly a lady friend) they are both dead meat.   (I am thinking similarly of the cats, but I am such a softy.)

Item the second.
I heard an interview on TV this morning that in Las Cruces, New Mexico, someone is holding the whole city for ransom.  The bad guy (or guys, or girls, or both) have sent a couple of letters to the newspapers and to the Police force stating that unless  a certain ransom (no word from the cops how much, etc.) is paid, the baddies are going to start shooting  (sniper attacks) random members of the community.  The cops are taking this very seriously (as indeed they should) and have even brought in the FBI.

The potential disaster makes my mind boggle.  People in New Mexico carry their own guns (They are as bad at having a rifle rack in the back window of the pickup as are Georgians—my current residence).  Generally I think this is a good thing, keeping down crime rates (who is going to try to rob you if you will shoot him in return).   But the thought of a lot of gun carrying folks walking around nervous because other gun carrying folks have threatened to randomly shoot the citizens make me nervous as heck.  It sounds a lot like Baghdad on the Rio Grande.  (I suspect that Las Cruces isn’t right on the Rio Grande, but it sounded right).  I’m also  pretty sure I wouldn’t like to be an illegal wandering around  the city taking his boss’s gun to the gun shop or something.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Mini Rant
I really hate My Space. It has all kinds of things said about it, none of which affect me, but three of my favorite blogs are in My Space (Including Thotman, whom I recommend highly, especially to anyone who likes the Three-Score blog), and for some damn reason, they have changed their system, and they won't let me post comments. I sign in properly, write the comment, and when I push the "add" button some little pixel or byte, or bit in that program just snickers evilly, for it knows that it has enraged me again.

Not a rant, but an observation, Ann Richards of Texas has passed away. I didn't agree with her on much of anything, but old coots respect other old coots (or cootesses, or biddies -see, Miladysa, I pay attention) and she was nothing if not a genuine coot. I'll miss her. I'll even miss how mad she made me occasionally, and her line at the Democratic Convention, "Poor George Bush,(she was speaking of HW) he was born with a silver foot in his mouth" will stand as an example of convention rhetoric at its best forever.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

More of the types of jobs in my youth

More of the types of jobs in my youth

My brain has been frozen for the last few days.  I will try to explain in time, but for now, I just can’t do anything new.  As a result, I am going back to some of the stories I have in my memoirs about the kind of jobs I had in my youth.  

One of the summers after I graduated from high school but before I became a Mormon Missionary, I went to work for a construction company that toured around in Idaho, Utah and Montana building all steel granaries and farm buildings.  The most common example of the kind of building we built is the World War II Quonset  hut.  It had a steel frame, and corrugated steel walls and roof.  I should mention that our buildings were only rarely quonset hut shaped.  Some were round, some rectangular, and some rather odd shaped.  I think that they were all built to some kind of catalog plan, from which they were ordered.

The basic premise of the construction was to get a foundation poured, sometimes a slab, (and at least one of these we poured ourselves using a gas powered cement mixer that we hauled around with us).  On that foundation we raised “I” beams that were essentially two “U” shaped  pieces welded together.  To those beams we fastened galvanized corrugated steel by sinking lead gasketed screws into the seam where the two parts were welded together.  The design was such that most of the seams were on the seams in the corrugate where two pieces met together.  These seams were thoroughly covered with black tar caulking.  It worked well, once you got enough experience to find that seam. If one sunk a screw though one of the solid lips of the beam, one got yelled at, thoroughly (Roy, the foreman spoke both Spanish and English thoroughly -Spanish more-so-  and had a rich, varied, and profane vocabulary in both languages to use when yelling at his employees) We built some small buildings and some large ones (The largest was in Woodruff, Utah, where we had to stack four courses of staging (platforms) to do the top.  On that building we had a pitched roof, but most of the buildings at round tops like a Quonset hut.  The basic tools that everyone carried were a ball-peen hammer, two or three punches (like nail sets, but sharp) two or three screw drivers of different kinds, which we sharpened every morning on a grinding wheel (these were old fashioned “hand” screw drivers.  I imagine modern battery powered screw drivers would have cut the construction time by two thirds) and a nail apron filled mostly with lead top screws and some lead top roofing nails, along with a bucket of “tar” (we called it mastic, and it had to be heated in the morning to make it smooth enough to spread easily) and a brush.  If you didn’t take as much as you needed you had to climb up and down the platform to get more, which irritated Roy because if you were climbing up and down you couldn’t be fastening sheets of steel..  The steel was usually lifted up to the platforms with a little “cherry picker” which sat on one of the trucks.

We slept in sleeping bags, in sheds, out in the open, and once in a tent. Roy frequently cooked breakfast if we were a long way out of town, but if we were “in” town, or an easy walk to a café we generally at in a café.  Frequently the café lunches became contests about who could eat the most pickled Jalapeno peppers.  I competed well at first but gradually discovered that Jalapenos were as hot coming out as going in, and when your “facilities’ range from a slit trench to an outdoor privy, “hot” is not fun.  

Many weekends we made it home, but not always., but we didn’t work on weekends so sometimes we got a chance to wander around whatever town we were in.  We were regarded as freaks, and on the occasions that I went to church I went in pretty scruffy clothes and did not make a lot of friends.  I don’t remember all the places we went, but two stuck in my mind because of occurrences there.   I mentioned before that we built a tall building on a farm in Woodruff, Utah.  On one side it had a round peaked “tower” like a granary or silo.  This took the curved sheets of steel like a Quonset building.  

I need to clarify that, because our building were all metal, if there was rain, or thunder and lightning (pretty rare in a Southern Idaho/Utah summer, but when it came it was usually ferocious,) we immediately tied everything down and got as far from the building as we could.  (Lightening rods were installed in most buildings as soon as they were completed.  A tall steel building has to be an attractive target for lightening.)

In Woodruff, I was about three courses of staging high, installing the curved pieces of steel siding when a black cloud came up and the wind began to gust.  Stony (our name for the foreman) came running out of his shack yelling for us to tie down and seek shelter.  The guy who was working with me and I quickly tied down one bunch of steel sheets but before we got to the other one, a gust of wind picked the top one up and it went about fifty or sixty feet in the air and just danced around in the sky like some kind of fancy kite.  We were standing there like dopes, kinda staring at the dancing sheet of steel when we both realized that Stony was having near hysterics screaming at up to duck and tuck up close to the building.  We realized how serious he was when the wind gust sudden quit and that piece of steel came hurtling down from up above and sliced the property owner’s big yellow dog right in two, like a guillotine.  We hurriedly tied down the other stack of steel sheets, shinnied down from the staging and spent most of the rest of the day cowering in the line shack.   Even after the storm was over we weren’t worth much, and when the time came to go back up and finish the “tower” it took everything I had to work up the courage to just climb up there, let alone do some work.

One other job was in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  Surprise, there at the end of the road was Signal Mountain Lodge where I had worked briefly a year before as a “wood boy”.. I don’t remember whether we were erecting a building on the Signal Mountain property or just near it, but we had most of our meals at the lodge.   It wasn’t constant, however because I remember, at least once, having lunch in a downtown bar or café that had a long bar covered with real silver dollars with some kind of urethane or melted plastic coating holding all the dollars in place.  What I remember best (or most??)about that site was that we finished the job, and had just packed up when there was a real gully washer of a storm.  It must have rained several inches in a short time, because the roads were almost covered and there was an eight to ten inch deep stream running down beside every road.  When the storm let up, we packed into the trucks and started home going up over the pass that leads into Idaho .  We had driven about ten miles or so when an Idaho State Police car came down the hill, siren screaming and lights a flashing.  When he pulled up, sort of, nose to nose with our lead truck, we stopped.  He informed us the just up ahead of us a landslide had taken out the entire road.   Stony didn’t believe him at first, as if the cop were pulling some kind of practical joke, but when the cop put Stony up against the side of the truck and threatened to put him in handcuffs, Stony accepted the landslide idea..  There was no way to turn our trucks around on that road, especially the one that had the cement mixer rolling along behind it like a trailer, so we had to back the trucks much of the way down the mountain with the police car leading up like a backward parade till we finally came to a turn off for a skiing area and were able to turn the trucks around and go front-ward.  The policeman left us and went on down the mountain to put up road closed signs for other poor folks.  I can’t remember how we got back home, but it took a long time and I was exhausted when we got there.

The final memorable event on this job was why I quit and went home.  We were working on a granary somewhere down between Preston and Malad, and the nights had gotten really chilly.  Stoney, the foreman just mentioned after we got of work, that the nights were chilly and he was “sleeping cold”.  I said “Me too” so he proposed that we take our two sleeping bags, zip them together and sleep in the same bag.   Poor stupid me, but it made sense.  We had often done that on winter hikes with the boy scouts and it worked, so I agreed.  After dinner, we made up camp, zipped the two bags together and got in bed.  Within about five minutes, Stony moved over close to me and I could feel in my back that he had an enormous erection.  It was then that I realized that he had identified me as, whatever the word was back at that time, a fairy, queer, homo, or whatever.  It was obvious that he expected me to have sex with him.  I froze in that position, reached my hand out of the sleeping bag, and found a rock, not a big enough rock but a rock, and I made the decision that if he got any closer, I would whack him on the side of the head with the rock.   I laid there awake for, what seemed to be, hours.  I came to the conclusion that he expected some kind of affirmative reaction from me, that he didn’t get, because eventually he turned over and went to sleep.  I must have finally gotten to sleep too, because I remember getting up in the morning.  We all got dressed and began breakfast and Stony didn’t say a word to me, but in a little while, I discovered that he must have talked about his intentions to some of the men in the gang, because two of them asked me with a grin if I had had a good time last night.  I answered non-committaly that I didn’t think I would sleep that way again, I was more comfortable in my own bedroll.  I noticed in peripheral vision those same guys looking at me and giggling, but I ignored them and went on with my work.  I think that was the last week I spent on that job.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Geezers and Coot Oh My!

Geezers and Coots, Oh My!

I have written a number of thoughts about geezers and coots, and I suspect that some of you have determined that I am using these terms as synonyms. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Geezer is an old familiar term, often use with the adjective “old” preceding it, though that is truly gilding the lily. Geezers are by definition “old”. Becoming a geezer is largely involuntary. One just “becomes” as geezer. The appellation is more common in men than women, but women truly become geezers just as men do. (I confess to a non-feminist habit of usually referring to female geezers as “geezerettes” but that is not really accurate, and is probably demeaning. It is a bit like calling women ‘humanettes” for being female humans. For such habits, I apologize.) Geezerhood is involuntary, and does not come at one particular age. It may come on at any age from forty to sixty years old. Geezerhood comes on when one is offered discounts by restaurants and movies merely for living as long as one has lived. Employers hold meetings to award praise not for items accomplished, but for the number of consecutive years of employment. Other symptoms are grey hair, (not the premature kind which can be explained away- snicker snicker), false teeth, a general oncoming lack of balance, little children holding the door for you, being identified for parking as “handicapped” for reasons other than amputation or accidental paralysis, rapid deterioration of eyesight, frequent painful twinges in knees, ankles finger joints, upper and lower back, a general drying of skin resulting in such anomalies as “smile lines”, “crows feet” “ forehead lines” “age spots” (really they are only overenthusiastic freckles) floppy skin at the back of the arm where triceps once dwelt, and that curse of all curses, “Jowels”, etc. (a complete list of symptoms would take pages, but you get the idea.) When any three of the above have occurred, one has reached geezerhood

Geezerhood is considered by some to be some sort of personal affront. Some fight geezerhood futilely for years. Some folks insist on playing tennis long after it has ceased to be a pleasant experience. Some jog, with frowning faces, near tears, and a pronounced limp. Others dye hair, expose themselves to major skin surgeries, snatch the door away from children who might hold it, curse the server who may add an age discount without asking, and would rather crawl to the door at Wal-Mart than use the handicapped parking tag provided by the physician.

Coothood is voluntary. Coothood comes one embraces the effects of age. Coots are Geezers with pride and acceptance. Coots ride the motorized shopping carts at Wal-Mart or Home Depot with abandon, sometime shouting “toot toot” at the other innocent shoppers in the Mall. Coots demand age discounts and shop with preference at those establishments that offer them. Coots march in “Coot Parades” demanding more civil and governmental recognition. Coots often join AARP just so they can write nasty letters to the AARP governing board (Not necessarily about any one topic) Geezers are frequently manipulated by the AARP, while Coots will try to manipulate such organizations. All Coots are Geezers, by the necessity of symptoms but those Geezers who fought against the onset of Geezerhood stay up nights trying to find ways to avoid Coothood.

It would be a mistake to assume that any one group of Coots are united on any topic or political principal. They come in all sizes and types. Anne Richards who was deposed as governor of Texas by our current president is an obvious coot, as is (and she might not admit it) Elizbeth Dole). I glory in my coothood as do most coots. Hurray for contrarianism (the one common identifier in coothood other than age.)

Monday, September 04, 2006

I am in one of those geezer funks

I am in one of those retrospective moods of self disgust.  Sometimes the achievement of geezerhood works as an excuse for a lot of things: forgetting where your keys are, procrastinating almost everything, forgetting the names of your friends, missing doctor’s appointments, even vegetating in front of the television for a full night retrospective of something like Dark Angel or the full story of the Knights Templar.  I, however, screwed up completely.   I wrote, in July, of the joy that was brought to me on my seventy somethingth birthday by my children and my dear wife.  Her almost sev—fiftyninth birthday was earlier this week, and I forgot it completely.  

Second son came over in the morning and invited us out to breakfast.  As he paid the check he looked at his mother and said “Happy Birthday”.  A gradual sickness spiraled upward through me.  I have been on the edge of tears a couple of times because I didn’t remember, but the most irritating thing was that I didn’t remember.  My doggone mind just floats along touching the blog, reading a little, going to water aerobics (which really is the reason that what little mind and body I have left is still around at all) and just ignoring the rest of the world.  When I do come up with “good deeds” and try to do them, they frequently don’t relate to my immediate family.  My “labor day weekend” has been filled with good things, One of my good friends discovered an artery blockage and received a “stent” just in time to prevent heart damage.   His wife has suffered for some months with an undiagnosed problem, and they discovered that she has terrible gall bladder problems, so she is going in for surgery that almost surely will improve her life immeasurably ( these things may not sound cheery or good, but when you are a geezer the solving of health problems for your friends is very exciting)

My daughter came here to visit and went home with a lovely young basset hound named Roscoe, that she will enjoy enormously. (Though when she chose the dog, I think she had forgotten momentarily that hounds smell an awful lot like hounds).

It is still one A.M., and I am sitting by the computer, still guilty about not really taking care of someone I love, depressed because I am facing a law suit about an accident over two years ago, I haven’t sculpted a scrap in almost a year, and I feel like I am sliding down hill rapidly.

OUCH!!!! (I just kicked my self in the butt and told me to get off said butt and get busy, if only sleeping.  Good night.)

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Not Politics but-

Not Politics, but-

I am not going to return to my periodic tirades on politics, but I have had a minor epiphany. Last week I picked up a book at a yard sale, for no other reason than that it had an interesting title. As I began to read it, I found my self totally embarrassed that I spent two years as a Political Science major in a good school, and have had at least one arm, or one foot, or half my brain (a Rushism, I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist) in politics since 1952, and I had never read this book, or to my memory (that, considering my memory is probably not surprising) even heard of it. I have read a lot of John Stuart Mill, John Maynard Keynes and a pot load of other Political and Economic theorists, and many of those I have not read, I have read about, but this book, originally published in 1944 (the version I picked up was a 1969 impression published by the University of Chicago Press, with fairly lengthy “updating” forward by the author was totally unfamiliar. The book is entitled The Road to Serfdom by Frederick A. Hayek. (I suspect that Patrick (among others) is chuckling about my ignorance of this text right now).

The prescience of this book, the clarification of the situations we are now in, both nationally and internationally is absolutely mind boggling. Hayek’s definition of conservatism, which matches my own, but about which he speaks somewhat disparagingly (He believes that we are necessary, but not very useful) is impressive, and his clarification of liberalism (which he defines in a British 1940’s sense and which includes most of the rest of what we commonly call conservatism - - At least I am clearer on Patrick, the Born Again Redneck's identification of himself as a traditional liberal) is so informative. The greatest value of the book however is it’s prediction of the disaster and totalitarianism that is, and is bound to be, the ultimate result of most of the collectivist social planning that is common, not only in our national, but in our current international situations.

If anyone is not an active Socialist, reading this book may very well raise the hackles on the back of your neck and cause you to lose some sleep. (Actually, if one IS an active Socialist, the reaction may be similar, but for different reasons.)

I have not yet completed the book, and may write about it again when I have, but for anyone who thinks of him/her self as an individual, who has reservations about some of the social planning experiments of our time, or who, like me, thinks of the self as a conservative who has not read this book, reading it will be a vital education. (Republicans, both con , neo con, and non-con take special note. Herein is contained ammunition, and warning in equal amounts.)

Friday, September 01, 2006


I was right dagnabbit. When my DSL was fixed, and I had no more obstacles, I sit here and look at the @(#)***# screen and can’t think of anything to write about. Sigh.!! Oh well, at least I have been surfing around through a lot of my favorite blogs, but my concentration level is so low I have hardly been commenting at all.