Sunday, November 30, 2014

Christmas Season is here at last.

I really like Christmas.  It's a peaceful time of year, and I enjoy the lights and decorations in town, and the Christmas shows.  My wife and I like to watch the Hallmark Channel, they have some good movies this time of year. The weather is right for Christmas.  It's cold and clear here tonight, but we have some light snow coming in for the higher elevations later in the week. I got out and cleared all the dead leaves off the roof, the parking pads, and the gutters so we are ready for whatever Mother Nature sends our way.  Sure is quiet up here at night in the winter. Not a sound out in the woods, quite a change from the hellish din that comes out of the same woods in summer.

Things slow way down here in December, January, and February.  I slow down too, which is why I haven't been much in evidence on the net.  I have developed a habit of just not turning on the computer for several days at a time, largely I think because when I do, I always read the news and I don't want to read the news right now.  Same thing with my array of radios.  I listen to some programs, like coast to coast a.m. but if they get "newsy" or "political'  I turn them off.  A little peace and quiet during the Christmas season is surely not dereliction of duty , after all.

So all is well, and life is good.  Time for me to see what everyone else has been up to while I've been U.A.

Monday, November 24, 2014


It's been some time since I wrote a post, largely because the mountains have settled into winter. We've had unusually cold weather and much more rain than would previously have been considered normal.  I've had a fire burning continuously day and night for more than a week. It was warm enough today to let it go out so I could clean out the ashes, but I built a new fire as soon as that was done.

For the most part I've been staying inside and reading.  I've rediscovered some good books which have been sitting on the shelves for thirty years and I am getting reacquainted with those.

Some of them are about flying.  When I actually was flying I hardly read about anything else.  But once I finally got to be too long in the tooth and couldn't get a medical certificate anymore, I didn't read so much aviation orientated material anymore.

Now I'm pulling some of that old history back out, and I find I enjoy it more now than I did then .

The same is true with some of the books I've collected over the years on the Old West. I may not make it back out there again but I've been all over that part of the country and that makes reading about the history of the region all the more enjoyable.

In all honesty, this is as much about escapism as it is about anything else.  So much bad news, so quickly, can be overwhelming, especially if you realize that you can't do anything to effect the onrush of events to diaster.

  • The rise of the supreme dictator, with the infux of new illegal immigrants he is fostering and the eclipse of the rule of law.
  • The failure of the U.S. to stop the theocracy in Tehran from obtaining the bomb.
  • The revolting spectacle of the Ferguson circus.
All these things and the dismal ramifications thereof, just get to be overwhelming. So, I've just started focusing on enjoying life more. I am not oblivious to what is going on, but I am not going to be transfixed by it.  Let come what may.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

It's mighty cold.

The cold air mass we've been expecting has arrived.  There was one day of torrential rain, and as soon as that moved out it  was the new ice age.

So far, no power failures.  I took the truck into town, then couldn't get back up the mountain. The jeep trail is covered with dead leaves. The dead leaves soaked up the water from the rain, then froze. It's like a skating rink.  So the truck is down by the hard surface road until it warms up enough for that ice to melt. Given that it is now 19 degrees outside, with a high for today predicted to be below freezing, I don't plan on going anywhere.

As it happened, the trail froze over at the same time I was hauling three cats back from the vet. So I had to carry three carrying cages up the mountain, which meant three trips down to the truck and back. One cage per trip was all I could do. I had to get it done because I couldn't leave the cats in the truck, where they would have frozen.  After the second trip, the cold made me a bit woozy and I wondered if I was having a heart attack, but I had to go back to get the third cat anyway. If I had been, and I'd croaked, at least it would be a quick exit. When you quit doing things you have to do because you are all whiny and needy about your health, then you might as well check out anyway, and save other people the trouble of listening to it. Personally, I hope that's how I go, and not languishing in some hospital bed, laying there snoring with my mouth open and wetting the bed. That would be a terrible ending to what has been a very good life.

Saturday, November 15, 2014


I am laboriously picking this post out on a Kindle DX. I am using it because it is more handy and.much smaller than my Kindle HD.  However, that also makes writing on the little screen harder.  I do have a Blue Tooth keyboard for the Kindles but I don't have access to it right now.
Things go well enough. No overwhelming emergencies, just the normal issues associated with trying to operate and maintain a fully functional survivalist compound in the depths of an impenetrable forest located in mountainous terrain.  And doing so in the Golden Years of our lives. There's that,too.
My daughter is working hard on getting mom and dad out of the bush and into the more
congenial environment of a city.  I will say it does have it's attractions but it's not my style. My wife would move to be nearer my kids in a heartbeat. She has to teach five more years first though to get the maximum benefit from her retirement plan. Who knows.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Into every life ,a little rain must fall.

I have no idea who said that, but they were right.

We had a massive tree go over earlier this week, doubtless as a result of the soil being so wet from the rain we had this summer.  When it went, the drain field on the septic tank system was heavily damaged and the septic tank is non-operational.

This being so, my wife and I have temporarily displaced to the apartment, which is configured so that it shares no systems except the telephone.  Losing the septic tank temporarily on the house has no impact on the septic system out there. I am in the process of negotiating for repairs on the house system and should have it back on line in a week or two, depending on how soon the septic service guys can get to me.

Although I have been spending a lot of time dealing with that, I pulled some long stored items for re-inventory out of the barn storage.  Although the storage tubs were sealed and were stored in the climate controlled spaces, mice got into them and destroyed about 16 boxes of large wooden matches. I have no idea why they liked the matches, but they certainly did.  They also got into two tubs and ate every single package of seeds stored there. That's all the damage I have discovered so far but I am sure there will be more.

I have relocated the two ferrets, Spike and Jet, to that space and they are currently rooting around in between the stored goods. They don't eat mice (I hope not, anyway) but they will kill them. I am really hoping just the smell of the ferrets will get rid of the mice but if not, the ferrets will handle it. Some ferrets don't hunt at all anymore, it's been bred out of them, but these two young males do. Previously I didn't consider that a positive aspect of their personalities, but now things are different in view of the damage the mice did.

I know I chided people about killing the mice, and I would still like to avoid it, but it's one of those things I won't do unless I have to, and now I feel like I have to.

There's a lot of email to answer. Don't think I am ignoring people, it's just that I have more work to do when I can't use the water system in the house. For instance, this morning I have to go to town to do our laundry at the laundry mat. We are cooking in the apartment kitchen so at least I don't have to haul dirty dishes out there, but they do have to be washed by hand. Lots of little things.

All things considered, it's aggravating and it's going to be very expensive, but at least we had a fall back position. If I had to live for two weeks without using the house water system and didn't have the apartment, I'd have to get a motel room in town for us and then drive out here to do the chores. Now that would be a real pain.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

On Stand by.


I'm not doing a lot right now.  Friday, it never got above forty degrees up here on the mountain top. I went out to feed the animals and put out water, but for the most part I stayed inside where it was warm.

Although this is an older picture, you can see that this particular store room is hard to work in. It's filled to the gunnels with pails, boxes, and storage tubs. 

Part of today I worked in this storeroom, making sure that what was on the inventory list was in fact physically there. It doesn't do you any good to have supplies and equipment if you can't lay hands on them when you need them. My problem in this area is worsened by the fact that I "combat load" my supplies. That means I put quantities of the same item in different buildings, on the theory that if I lose a building to fire I won't lose all of one item or commodity.  I also try to store everything where I can reach it without moving a lot of other items. I learned how to do this as an embarkation officer, which was one of my secondary military occupational specialties. When my outfit was going to deploy, I'd go up to Norfolk and with embarkation officers from other units, and my Gator Navy counterparts, we'd use little ship templates and vehicle templates to load the ships. It's surprising, these many years later, how often my military time has stood me in good stead.

The mountains have cleared out now. The tourists have gone, and so have the "half way backs." These are folks who live here half the year and in Florida half the year. They miss the leaf season and cooler air, so they go half way back to where they came from, and that's just about here.  I like the mountains best when they are largely empty.

This is our Victorian era kitchen stove. It's fully functional, a wood burner based on one of the most popular kitchen stoves of the 1890's.  My wife always uses it for a Christmas display, which is fine as we rarely actually fire it up.

We have cooked on it though. If we ever lose the propane range and oven, we can do quite nicely with this one. 

My wife's mom did a lot of cooking on a wood burning stove when they were all in Nigeria and Niger , out in the bush at their missionary stations. So my mother in law was a huge help when we started working with this. I also bought the book "Wood Stove Cooking" which is worth it's weight in pre sixties silver dimes.

These are Mausers and Mosin Nagants on the wall in the living room.  The ammo in the bandoleer is obviously 7.62X54R, because I have a lot of it and I plan to grab a Mosin Nagant off the wall if I really need a rifle.

 In my quadrant of the county, there's an old Air Force guy, older than me, who has cut a landing field out in a cove. He flies his little home made aircraft in and out of it.

I always shudder if I happen to be passing by and see him taking off or landing. There are high trees at both ends of the landing strip, and trees on either side. You couldn't pay me to try to take off from it in a fixed wing aircraft. But the guy always seems to get above the trees.

Living in our house is like living on a World War II U-boat.  Every inch of usable storage space has something packed into it.

We keep things neat and orderly, but there isn't a lot of unused room, even in the main house. This is our pantry. It has two deep freezers, and one whole wall of shelves for canned goods, with more shelves higher up.

There's also a big closet just across from the pantry door, and it's full of rice, beans, spices, cooking supplies, olive oil, and the like.

Better to have it , and not need it, than to need it and not have it.

This stream is just downslope of my house.  It originates way back in the national forest, so there are no people up there to throw trash into it, or motor oil, or other things.  It's one of my alternate water sources and it is nice to sit out on the porch and listen to it running at night.

Never hurts to have a good fieldstone fireplace. The fire heats the rocks, and they radiate heat out into the room.

When I took this the center picture was a bit ajar, but I'm not picky. 

As you can tell from the rambling nature of this post, I'm just waiting to see what happens with the weather, and what comes up that I need to take care of. I think I have everything squared away, but I am sure that something will break, blow away, freeze up, or just plain not work. 

I'll deal with that when it happens.

This week could be rough weather wise, as the NBC weather forecast video below indicates:

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Cold and clear means good radio reception.

There's been a big moon out the last few nights, no need to run the external security lights. This morning it's shining spectacularly.  You've heard the expression "reading a newspaper by the light of the moon." I think you could actually do that right now.

It's cold, though.  Just below freezing so I'm not spending a lot of time outside this morning admiring the moon light.  The scanners are going, have been for more than an hour, and not a peep out of them. You can certainly tell when tourist season is over just by the immediate and marked fall off in county radio traffic.

About midnight I went out to the apartment and listened to skip on the SSB CB unit.  People are talking about the normal things. I think using a CB radio with a linear accelerator on it, at illegal power levels, is very much a country thing. I almost never hear anyone on there who isn't coming out of some rural location, unless you get the occassional truck driver and he probably is from the country when he's home.  CNN says that 51 percent of the American population now lives in cities, and the rate of migration from the rural areas to the cities is accelerating. I wonder if it's a coincidence that the same thing happened to the Romans when they started down the deceleration curve?

I know there is little employment in the countryside. Medical care is often extremely limited on a local basis, fire and police services are so thin on the ground as to be virtually non existent. I've written before how I called our Sheriff's Department and asked for the occasional patrol out around our quadrant some years ago, only to be told that "you folks are on your own out there."  I can understand it, it's a big county and a small department.  Young people leave, the older people become infirm and get moved to their kids houses, a "granny" house, or the ultimate evil fate, the county nursing home.
My own kids were raised here, and sometimes they come to visit but they tell me they would never want to live here, even if they didn't have to work. In the city, there are lots of people like them, no end of things to do, and they like it.

I had lunch with two young men , just turned thirty,  this week. They grew up here, and neither of them have ever traveled further from the mountains than a quick trip to the beach.  It's interesting to me that  these guys have not the slightest desire to see the wide world. When I was their age I'd already been all over Asia, Europe and the Middle East. I've lived in, worked in, or at least visited almost forty countries. One of my primary considerations was " Join the Marines and See the World." when I signed up.  I guess that recruiting poster has gone out of vogue, given the history of the last ten years. Still, I couldn't make either of these fellows understand why I wanted to travel when I was their age. They're good people, intelligent, hard working individuals with families. I guess our backgrounds are too different to really connect. I've been considering a trip out to New Mexico and I asked them if they wanted to go along, only half in jest.  Both reacted with horror, to the extent that I couldn't help laughing at them.  They didn't want to miss work, didn't want to leave their families, didn't know what the people were like out there, and so on.

Oh, well.  I honestly believe things are just changing so fast now that I'm not keeping up with the times.  But then again, when I think of life as it was in the 1950's, when I was a kid and life as it is now, I am not at all sure I want to.

My brother in Oregon is going through one of his phases where he is getting rid of his possessions. When he left California some years back, he sold or gave away everything he had, with the exception of what he could pack in a trailer and his car.  Now he's cleaning out things I would be keeping, including his family memorabilia. He sent me some old pictures he had that he thought I might want.

Among them, my graduation picture from the Army Airborne School at Fort Benning, Ga. That would have been the summer of 1973.  It's a staged picture, of course, taken in an old mock up out by the towers.

I made two jumps from the C130 Hercules and the three from the C-141 Starlifter, as I recall. I "volunteered" to go to jump school, as did all members of my reserve unit when they hit their third summer of college.  It was not a particularly enjoyable experience, and I never jumped again. You do what everybody else is doing though, peer pressure is powerful.

This is an old picture, taken at Quantico, Virginia in the winter of 1971.  All of the people in it are Southerners, except the 2nd from the left standing, who was from New York, and the guy in front who was from New Mexico.  That's me on the right, standing.  There used to be so many Southerners in the Marine Corps that the joke was USMC stood for "Useless Sons Made Comfortable." I don't know if that is still true or not.  The fellow in the middle, kneeling with his arm around the other Marine was from Way Cross, Georgia.  He got killed, which was a real shame because he was the nicest guy you could ever want to meet. His name was Gerald Drawdy.  I think everybody else made it through their service. The fellow kneeling on the right with the moustache was from Shelbyville, Tennessee. He did four years as a Naval Flight Officer in the F4 Phantom, then went back to school and became a lawyer. Strange, the things you remember after forty years, when you can't remember where you put your keys 15 minutes ago.

This is just a random clip that shows what happens if someone chokes in the door. The aircraft is traveling fast. Everybody has to go out in one big stream, or you will scatter troops all over the ground, disasterous for airborne troops. Besides, they saved this guy from a fate worse than death. To come down with the aircraft would have finished him with his friends and his career. I don't know what they do now, but in those days nobody came down with the plane.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Bitter tears at CNN, and a chance for improvement.

I watched the election returns last night.  CNN, Fox News, and Al Jazeera were the stations I kept up on, with a few short breaks tuning in ABC.

Al Jazeera was the most unbiased, since they largely detest Americans of any stripe and didn't have an axe to grind.

Fox ran too many of those segments where they bring in obscure technocrats and ask them what they think. Who cares?

CNN was really interesting.  At one point , as it became apparent that this was a good night for Republicans, I honestly thought Wolfe Blitzer was going to cry.  CNN is spending all it's time this morning explaining why this is not good news for the Republicans, and why Hispanics and Blacks still hate Republicans, so the Republicans can't be successful long term. That may actually be true. The numbers being bandied about this morning indicate that only 38 percent of the voting public showed up at the polls. "Young" voters, which means the twenty somethings, seem to have just forgotten the election, Fox says only 9% of them voted.  Blacks stayed home in large numbers, because their beloved Barack Obama wasn't on the ballot and that seems to be the only thing many of them cared about.

CNN got in a couple of oblique snide remarks about active duty military and veterans, basically saying they were a Republican voting block, and implying that showed their lack of judgement and common sense.  CNN has never been friendly to the military or to veterans, so I'm not particularly shocked at that.

I don't know how much voter fraud took place, but you can bet there was a lot of it. As long as the federal government facilitates voter fraud on the part of illegals, and winks at people who vote twice, it will go on.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Warmer tonight.

Today was warmer than it has been, and tonight is warmer as well.  Just after midnight, and the weather tracker on the wall says it is 44 degrees out.  Not bad for November.  There's a moon out as well, and I spent some time out on the porch listening to the creek flowing down slope. No other sounds out there tonight.

Tomorrow will be a busy day.  I plan on going to vote first.  Some time back, the county restored an old 1920's school house, the one room variety, and moved it to a nice spot on a mountainside with a view. That's where I vote now. It's a bit longer drive but I don't particularly mind as it's on a little used back road. Then I'm going to have new brakes fitted on the back wheels of the truck. That will be nice to get off the list of things to do.

I haven't forgotten about Ebola, ISIS, or all the other turmoil going on. Primarily I'm just keeping an eye on it to see if anything might effect my family. There isn't much more I can do than that. Nobody is in control of events, they are just playing themselves out and we are all along for the ride.

If someone sends you an invitation to join their circle, what does that mean, exactly?  Why do I get messages that aren't email, but I have to click on a little bell icon at the top of my blogger screen when I do a post to get them?  These are mysteries I don't know the answers to.  I don't do twitter, or facebook, and I am not terribly conversant with these bells and whistles. But maybe I ought to be.

Don't forget to vote tomorrow. Unless you're a democrat.  Then it's ok.

Monday, November 3, 2014


New editions of magazines out, and minutiae.

The new edition of Off Grid is out .  I got mine at Walmart.  This issue has a lot of information on things like land navigation, first aid and related matters.  It's an interesting read.  As usual, it's oriented towards the very well off.  A couple of the bug out vehicles in here were amazing, but beyond the reach of the normal mortal.  Off Grid costs $8.98 if you get it at Walmart, a bit more I suppose if you buy it elsewhere. As far as I know, there's no Kindle edition, as there is for Recoil, which is a sister publication dealing with modern small arms.

Survivalist came out with a new edition.  Of all the survival magazines, Survivalist is the only one I am aware of that really tackles some of the issues of life today that impact on people. Most of the magazines prefer to just stick to nuts and bolts articles, so they won't alienate anyone or draw the ire of the federal government. The editors of Survivalist have no such qualms. This particular issue emphasizes that with a number of different stories on negative aspects of nanny government.

There's also an interview with Joe Teti, the guy who essentially drove Cody Lundin off Dual Survival.  I read the article but it wasn't really that interesting as far as I was concerned. There's a nice pictorial of firearms used by the military, but the impact is somewhat diminished by the fact that there are some glaring mistakes in the photo captions. Someone who was editing that article either doesn't know guns or was not really paying attention to their work.

ZQ 7.62X51 ammo has been marked down at Walmart from $17.00 a box to $10.00 a box while it lasts. I bought three yesterday just because it seemed like too good a deal to pass up. The brass is good quality and reloadable, so you might want to swing by and get some if you have a .308 or 7.62X51 that you need ammo for.

Never really warmed up yesterday, and it's 28 degrees outside right now, at a quarter to five in the morning. I don't have much planned , just have to see what turns up during the day.

My favorite scene from "Vikings." You have to be old to appreciate it fully.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

By Great Odin's Raven! Legertha Lothbrok Lives!

It's three in the morning, (four, if you don't count the time change) and I was just checking my email before going to bed.

A friend of mine sent me this news article.  All I can say is "That's my kind of woman!"

Woman fends off black bear — with a zucchini
September 24, 2010 by John McCoy

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — A Montana woman fended off a bear trying to muscle its way into her home Thursday by pelting the animal with a large piece of zucchini from her garden.

The woman suffered minor scratches and one of her dogs was wounded after tussling with the 200-pound bear.

The attack happened just after midnight when the woman let her three dogs into the backyard for their nighttime ritual before she headed to bed, Missoula County Sheriff’s Lt. Rich Maricelli said. Authorities believe the black bear was just 25 yards away, eating apples from a tree.

Two of the dogs sensed the bear, began barking and ran away, Maricelli said. The third dog, a 12-year-old collie that wasn’t very mobile, remained close to the woman as she stood in the doorway of the home near Frenchtown in western Montana.

Before she knew what was happening, the bear was on top of the dog and batting the collie back and forth, Maricelli said.

“She kicked the bear with her left leg as hard as she could, and she said she felt like she caught it pretty solidly under the chin,” Maricelli said.

But as she kicked, the bruin swiped at her leg with its paw and ripped her jeans.

The bear then turned its full attention to the woman in the doorway. She retreated into the house and tried to close the door, but the bear stuck its head and part of a shoulder through the doorway.

The woman held onto the door with her right hand. With her left, she reached behind and grabbed a 14-inch zucchini that she had picked from her garden earlier and was sitting on the kitchen counter, Maricelli said.

She threw the vegetable. It bopped the bruin on the top of its head and the animal fled, Maricelli said.

The woman called for help from a relative staying with her. They found the collie outside, unable to move, and took it to a veterinarian.

The dog appeared to be fine on Thursday, but the vet was keeping it for observation, Maricelli said.

The woman did not need medical attention for the scratches on her leg, though she got a tetanus shot as a precaution, Maricelli said.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials set up a trap in an attempt to capture the bear, the agency said in a statement.

Besides the nearby fruit trees, there wasn’t anything on the woman’s property that would attract a bear into the backyard, like garbage or livestock feed, wildlife officials said.

Maricelli interviewed the woman, but said the sheriff’s office was complying with her wish not to identify her.

“She was very, very shaken, and it kind of took the humor portion out of it for me,” Maricelli said. “She said it had this horrific growl and was snarling.

“(But) she can see the humor in it, and she wanted the story put out so the local residents can take precautionary measures,” he added.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

First snow storm of the winter.

We've had our first snow of the year.  Yesterday as the sun went down, the temperature plummeted from the high 50's right down into the 20's.  The wind came up, strong.  When the snow began, it was very light, and fluffy.  The wind was driving it horizontally sometimes, and while it immediately stuck on the ground and in the trees, it took awhile before it began sticking on the paved surfaces. I think at the lower elevations it probably melted pretty quickly, although I didn't venture down the mountain to see.

We are in good shape here. The house is warm, and we have all we need.  I slept most of the day because I stayed up most of the night.  The snow stopped around eight this morning, but it never got above freezing.

  The new C. Crane catalog got here yesterday, and I've been looking through that.  I need to do some replacement work on some antennas, and I'm considering electrically tuneable antennas as opposed to wire or whip antennas. I would have to do a lot less repairing and replacing that way.

I might pick up a larger SW set.  Most of mine are very small, although they have all the bells and whistles. Still, a nice big set to go in my bedroom would be nice. I listen to SW a good bit late at night, and right now I just have a small, and rather basic Bell and Howell set in the bedroom.

Most of my gear in the main house is up in the study, and I have an easy chair there, so that's where I do most of my listening. I do have a radio room downstairs, with a big old Motorola set, but I don't seem to go down there much anymore.

The apartment has my SSB CB and a nice "travel radio" shortwave, but that's another place I haven't been spending a lot of time in late.

The new Backwoods Home magazine is out. I have only scanned it, but it looks like there are some good articles. Usually they have one or two stories per issue that I am really interested in, and the rest I just read because they are there.