Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Low, heavy clouds. Ghastly humidity. The chirping of insects in the forest, nothing more.

painting "Dreary Woods"

 I haven't been off the mountain top since Sunday.  Walked down to get the mail.  The trail down gets longer every time I walk it these days.  I had to stop and take a breather on the way back, just too hot and humid. You could cut the air with a knife.

The dogs abandoned me. They'll stick around if I keep moving, but if  I stop they go off on their own affairs.  They're still not home yet but they'll show up for supper.

An English friend sent me a wonderful book, The British National Formulary. It has great information on what antibiotic for what ailment, deconflicting medication, and much more.  I know this can be found on the internet, but what a resource for a long term grid down situation.  I have looked at similar books every time I go to the book store, but quailed at the $60 to $100 price range.
This is a good asset.  I know the postage must have cost her a fortune, because it's a heavy book.

But I know something nice to send her back in return from this country. She's just started canning and there's a book she wants, which I am sure I can find. I think Walmart has it, but since I have sworn a mighty oath never to set foot in there again, I guess I will ask my wife to go in and get it for me!

There's actually quite a lively trading system, or exchange of gifts, within the survivalist/prepper community. One person has something another can use, and that other person has something the first party needs or wants, themselves. It works out well.  I once exchanged a number ten can of boiled peanuts with an Israeli friend, who sent me some skin lotion made in part of mud from the Dead Sea,  an Israeli flag I asked for, and some other nice things in exchange. She had a hell of time with Israeli customs over the "imported farm products" but she eventually was allowed to pick up the peanuts.

I am getting sick of hearing people say "The Crusades were bad."  I heard it again on a talk show. It's a conservative talk show.  A guest said "Oh, I know the Crusades were bad , but....."

Why, forsooth, were they bad?  They were fought over the "Holy Land" which had been predominately Christian until the Moslems and their allies defeated the Byzantines (The Eastern Roman Empire) after a series of campaigns beginning in 630 A.D.

The Moslems massacred most Christians , converted others, and subjected the remainder to crushing taxes and discriminatory laws.

The Crusades were the Western European attempt to regain the lost territories. What's so evil about that? The wars were brutal, but life was brutal during the  Dark Ages and the Middle Ages. It was short but it wasn't sweet. Neither the Christians nor the Moslems were known for being chivalrous, though it did happen from time to time.

The epic work on the Crusades is that of Sir James Cochran Stevenson Runciman.  (bn: 7 July 1903, died: 1 Nov 2000)  There's no equivalent to him in the field and even the Durant's bowed to him in this aspect of history.

  Runciman was an English aristocrat and scholar who published his three volume series on the Crusades to great critical acclaim in the 1950's.

I first read the books in the 1960's , when my maternal Grandmother gave me the set for a birthday present. I never dreamed life would take me to that part of the world, but I am sure I had a better understanding of the Middle East for having read his books.

He was unbiased, and was solely interested in reconstructing history as best he could. He had no agenda.  The books are still available and I think they illustrate pretty clearly that the Crusades were a product of the time, undertaken for valid reasons, and not what political correctness and Islamic bitterness make them out to be today.

Here's some kitchen equipment no housewife should be without.

It's an AK-47, originally built as a MAK-90 by Norinco, then reconfigured by me , replacing the Chinese thumb hole stock and wooden furniture with a Choate stock kit.

The sling is Chinese, the magazine is Bulgarian.

This hangs in the kitchen because that's the central room on the main floor of the house.  I have another one in the apartment, same configuration. There's a magazine bag with six extra magazines, each holding 20 rounds, on the floor below it, behind the wood burning stove. ( We don't use the stove but once in a blue moon, and if we do I clear it off.)

The magazines are 30 round but I don't want to put too much strain on the springs for too long.

Momma cat and her brood. The babies have appropriated their fathers favorite resting place, straw in an old flower pot on the porch.  He is greatly annoyed but didn't try to move the kittens. They are eating kitten chow now, and drinking milk, so they seem to be doing well.  I plan on one moving in with the old barn cat, who lives in the controlled environment space. She needs some company. One will move in the house, one into the apartment, and two will join the "outdoor cats" who police the unsecured spaces in the barn and maintain snake security around the buildings.

This is Tuggy. She is old now, probably about ten. Still a good watch dog and a good friend to go on walks with.

Soon she'll have lived past the point where she can contribute, but she will have an honorable retirement. When my dogs get too old for active duty, they just sleep on the porch in the sun for the rest of their lives.

 If nobody dumps off any dogs in the forest, I will go to the animal shelter and get one to take over her duties. People move away and go back to Florida, and sometimes they leave their big dogs because they can't keep them in an apartment. Or some old person dies and their family gives their dog to the animal shelter.  I always take dogs that need homes and they have always rendered loyal service in return.

 This is Belle. The old guy at the foot of the mountain called me a few years back, and said there was a young dog down there running around and did I want her.  I went down and got her with the truck. She's a fine dog, good watch dog and an asset.

Right now I only have two dogs. I have had as many as five. But I live in the woods, and sometimes dogs go off into the woods and never come back.

I took this picture today from my porch. It's the way off the mountain. The little opening in the forest in the center of the picture is the mouth of the vehicle trail.  It's dense in there. Dense, and dark.

There are hundreds of square miles of wooded mountains around my place. It's no surprise that sometimes, people go out there, and nobody ever sees them again. Especially out in the National Forest. People tend to stick to trails. Trails always go somewhere, like a water fall.  If you just launch out into the depths of the forest, off the trails, it doesn't take very long before you are in places no human has visited in many, many years. The trick is getting back.

Jet sleeping this morning. He is not feeling well. 


  1. Ok, I'm very puzzled. Steven Runciman was very critical of the crusades and has come under quite a lot of fire from more modern historians such as Jonathan Riley-Smith and Thomas Madden, who tend to take a less negative view of the crusades. Runciman also certainly has his biases - he is very pro-Byzantine (he says in the introduction that he thought that Alexis II was the hero of the story) and he has been accused of being overly-influenced by a romanticized view of the medieval Middle East.

    Runciman is also a bit outdated - As early as the 1970s (I think) Riley-Smith did a study of the legal documents relating to the crusades that proved that the crusaders were for the most part the best and highest of the European nobility who made great financial sacrifices to go East, disproving the old idea that the crusaders were predominantly impoverished younger sons using religion as a cloak for grabbing land and loot, and strongly suggesting that the crusaders were motivated by genuine piety since they knew that they were unlikely to profit from the crusade.

    I strongly suggest that you read Thomas Madden's "A Concise History of the Crusades" - I think you will find that many modern "revisionist" historians are far more PRO-crusade than Runciman.

    Grey Fox

    1. Grey Fox, Runciman was critical of specific acts which took place during the crusades, and people like Riddle and Vaugh have used those passages to infer that he painted the entire process with that brush. Having read the three books multiple times, I don't find that to be the case at all. Are there particular passages in the books you can draw my attention to that I should read again?

      Every scholar is a product of his times and training. The books were a product of the attitudes and beliefs , and history, of the 1950's. I don't believe that automatically makes them outdated. The Crusades were LED by the upper echelons of the European nobility, certainly. But the majority of cavalry fighting was done by the sons who had little to look forward to under the system of primogeniture.

      There's no doubt that loot played a part for the common soldier, as well as the hope of heaven, and I doubt anyone was immune to it. But land was the primary aspiration of the lower nobility who played in the game. Some of the more prominent leaders of the First Crusade were Normans who lost out in the Sicilian land grab which had occurred relatively shortly before that.

      I have to disagree with the statement that most of the crusaders were from the upper echelons of European nobility. The sheer numbers of crusaders involved from all classes make that an impossibility.

      Unless Riley-Smith, whom I haven't read, is not counting anyone BUT a high born noble as a Crusader, which seems implausible.

      I don't like revisionist history exactly because that's what it is. History that has been rewritten and revised, after the fact, generally to support an agenda of the writer.

      One point I would make is that Runciman is easy to read. He tells an interesting story, about interesting people and times. Anyone could read the books for pleasure as well as learning. I have not seen any other non fiction books on the crusades that I could say that of.

      This is an interesting discussion and I'm not above reading something I haven't read before. You can email me at and I'll be glad to continue it.

    2. "But the majority of cavalry fighting was done by the sons who had little to look forward to under the system of primogeniture....But land was the primary aspiration of the lower nobility who played in the game. Some of the more prominent leaders of the First Crusade were Normans who lost out in the Sicilian land grab which had occurred relatively shortly before that."

      But, you see, that doesn't appear to be true - Riley-Smith looked at a bunch of documents that Runciman didn't (because Runciman was not actually a specialist in medieval European history, IIRC, and didn't have computers to help look through and collate thousands and thousands of documents in Latin), and in doing so provided a bunch of new evidence that every historian since has had to account for.

      The economics just don't work for the "younger son" thesis. In order to go on Crusade, one had to raise the equivalent of 2-3 times one's annual income, possibly more. That meant selling land, or making similar sacrifices, and if you or your family could do that then it wasn't necessary to send you to seek your fortune in the first place. In the vast majority of cases, it going on crusade for the chance at loot or land would have been just plain stupid, and they were certainly not stupid people...It is also worth remembering that there was a steady stream of European pilgrims to the east for centuries prior to the Crusades, and even the first crusaders probably had a pretty good idea of what they were facing in terms of distance and terrain and probably Muslim forces as well.

      I didn't mean to indicate that everyone who went on crusade was high-born, just that they weren't the excess sons that people have traditionally thought they were. The only exceptions might be those handful of Normans on the first crusade you mentioned, but even they were capable of raising a bunch of money and soldiers before they got started, so they weren't exactly down and out, and their motives weren't necessarily just materialistic. What the common soldiers were motivated by, we can't say, because they left even less evidence to go by, but we can't just assume that they were motivated by loot only.

      Read Thomas Madden's "Concise History" - it is just as easy to read as Runciman, I think, and he explains the implications of R-S's discoveries better than I am doing.

      BTW, all history is revisionist, in that every historian comes at the subject with a new set of perspectives and biases than his predecessors. They may be right or wrong, but folks should not just assume that the version that they first heard is the correct one and impartial one and that all subsequent re-thinkings are automatically wrong.....heck, even the eye-witness accounts have agendas of their own!

    3. (1) A couple of points. First , scholars once upon a time were generally, (though not always by any means) apolitical. They did their work for the pure interest in the times and events they studied. But in the 1970's and beyond, many of them wrote books that were entirely oriented towards supporting a position they themselves espoused in some modern context. I had a text book for a college course I took in 1987. It dealt with the Civil War. It's entire premise was that the Civil War was a racial war, period. That the North was good because it opposed slavery, and the South was evil because it did not. This was presented in the class by the Professor as truth. But the author was a black radical professor at a Northern University, renowned for extreme positions on social matters and whose research had been questioned by his peers. The Associate Professor teaching the course was an obnoxious prig from New Jersey who did not have his contract renewed after his first year. Today we have people who use the Crusades as a method of attacking modern American policies in the Middle East. They try to show the Crusaders in a negative light, and then make a direct connection in people's minds between the Crusades and our own times. How many instances have you seen George Bush's comment about "a great crusade" being carped about and whined over using this very logic. The implication is that it was wrong for the crusaders then and wrong for us now. How can you tell a whether an author today, and especially one connected with academia in any way, is "legitimate" or "revisionist." I am not very trusting. In these times, virtually everything has some political or social engineering motive in the shadows behind it. I don't say knowledge of the past can't be improved, but I am very, very wary about accepting changes put forward today until I'm thoroughly familiar with them and certain they are , in fact, valid. There's also the fact that a study of documents can be deceptive when it comes to interpreting social structures, as the historian Michael Wood pointed out in his recent mini-series on PBS. He studied one English town from Viking days through modern times, and he repeatedly pointed out the pitfalls of using documents as a sole source for conjecture and speculation. In his excavations in the village, he often found that what he should have unearthed based on village records, did not match the physical evidence in the site.

      I think the whole concept that anyone who could afford to own a horse and armor was well off is not correct. If a King, or an important nobleman, traveled to the Crusades he went with a retinue, and some, such as Louis, brought an entire army. Much of the expense associated with that was born by the potentate himself. Frederick Barbarossa financed much of his expedition by a special tax on the Jews. Others simply came up with the money by sacking towns on the way to the "front" and taking the money, especially from the Jews. Hungary was the site of a number of these financially motivated pogroms.

      A second son from noble family, for instance, could look forward to what? He was not going to inherit the property and title of his father.Both custom and common sense prohibited splitting estates between surviving sons because it weakened the power and influence of the family. If he didn't fancy the church, then he wasn't going into shop keeping. He essentially had to be a knight, or be despised as a wastrel and layabout. His father might provide the training, horse and armor, no mean expense, but that was about it. So of course, many people in this position attached themselves to some iconic figure and went to the Holy Land in search of their fortunes. Why would they not? You could insure your own salvation and perhaps come into some land of your own, poor and small though it might be, as the vassal of some successful leader.

    4. (2)

      While I am well aware that it is a movie, and there are flaws in it, the type of individual I am discussing is pretty well portrayed in "Kingdom of Heaven" a film from some years ago.

      If you go through the first book of Runciman's crusades, there are a number of very important figures who started out as "hangers on" of an older brother, a father, an uncle, or who attached themselves to the party of an important individual. Many of these wound up holding a castle and the surrounding land as rewards for their exploits on the battlefield.

      I think another point that the individual doing this study missed completely is human nature. If a man was trained as a knight, and his friends and social equals were going to the Holy Land to fight, who the hell would stay home? You couldn't have kept those guys back with iron locks. In 1982 when the Lebanese Debacle broke out, I moved heaven and earth to get down there to participate. I wanted to fight. I trained to fight, and that was the only chance it looked like I would ever get. I'm sure young men of the professional soldier class weren't any different then.

      Remember what Herodotus said about the Peloponnesian War. When the war started, there were a lot of young men in both the Athenian and Spartan ranks who had rushed to volunteer because they had never been in a war and didn't want to miss one. The exact quote is somewhere in the right side bar of the blog.

      I don't think any knight worthy of his salt would have said "well, I might not make any money, and I've got enough, so I'll just stay home." Peer pressure alone would have precluded that.

      This is getting long so I better end it here. Otherwise I'll have to do a two part reply. Can you tell I don't enjoy the discussion of something like this by the brevity of my reply?

    5. Well, there is a lot in your posts to respond to and I fully intended to do so earlier today, particularly since i had the day off, but then my shooting glasses arrived and I realized that I had a glorious opportunity to go out and actually shoot some rifles. On top of that, I am going away for the weekend so it was likely my only opportunity for quite some time...So now I am bruised (Mausers really do kick like mules!), tired, and smell like Hoppes 9, Can't say i regret the decision, but since I have to get up and go to work tomorrow I can't stay up and write.

      It may be a couple days until I have time - if enough has been posted in the meantime I'll just email.

      Grey Fox

    6. I'd rather go shoot too.

      You would be amazed at how much our conversation inspired in certain quarters. I spent a long time today sorting through email filters getting rid of hate mail, and I deleted a lot more comments than I could publish. Just the very word "Crusades" seems to set off a lot of the people who lurk in the ether. Including some I am pretty sure have no idea what the "Crusades" were other than having heard Moslems whining about the Crusades on Al Jazeera.

      I didn't know you were a Mauser aficionado. I like them too. I don't shoot them as much as I used to, and for the same reasons you mentioned.

      I hope I didn't come across as rude in any of my comments. They weren't intended to be. When I'm thinking and writing I tend to be less careful about the exact wording of my statements. Since there is no voice inflection or body language on the internet, sometimes I don't "sound" like I mean to.

  2. When I thiink of the Crusades I think: some were "good" in that they acomplished a good part of their military goals. Then there were fiascos like the Childrens' Crusade that would have been funny had it not been so tragic. That was a "bad" one.

    All my dogs have been strays or rescue dogs. I'm counting my current dog as a rescue as I got it from my crazy cousin who has 15 other dogs she can't take proper care of, along with a whole slew of other critters.

    I've had some large dogs, but I like traveling with a dog in the 30 pound range. They are big enough to get people's attention, but easier to take care of than a 70 pound dog.

    Just got back from the vet today and blew another $150. Gotta keep those shots up to date when traveling. It's much cheaper to go to my local vet than the ones in FL.

    I don't keep an AK by the door. The guns I keep handy change as conditions change. Right now I actually feel pretty safe so all I've got within reach is a Ruger P-89 with the 15 round magazine loaded with self defense rounds, backed up with a little 380 LCP. There are times when I've keep a 30-06 handy, or a shot gun.

    It's been in the high 80s all the way at the north end of the Appalachians. Must be killer where you are.

  3. True. What irks me is that people who know nothing at all about the Crusades are willing to condemn them as morally wrong because that's "the thing to do" these days. I've even seen statements that Runciman himself considered the Crusades barbaric, and that's something that only an individual who had never touched one of his books would say.

    I don't travel much anymore so my dogs tend to be a mix, who ever comes up the road. I guess little dogs don't last long enough in the woods to find this place, more's the pity.

    My ferrets , with all their ailments and issues, have always cost me more than I spent on my myself for medical care. But it's part of the deal and they have always held up their end.

    I have pistols distributed throughout the house where I can reach them if I need them. For going out in the dark, when the dogs or the motion sensors, or both indicate I'm about to have company, I like the AK-47. I also have a Mauser K98 by the door, in case I need something that throws a more powerful message.

    The day started out pretty well but by early afternoon it was really rough. I shouldn't have gone to the mailbox but I needed to get out for awhile and I didn't feel like going through all the hassle of taking things down to get the truck to the foot of the mountain.

  4. I can't rescue the critters like you can, but we currently make a small quarterly donation to the local "no kill" shelter. Just recently they received a large rescue from out of the area from some hoarder(s) who couldn't maintain their pets anymore, The owner surrendered them rather than face charges, I guess. Anyway, when the 90 animals (two separate rescues) came in, they put out the word on facebook and we went and bought 8 bags of dog chow and took it in. When we got there other people in the area had also been dropping off and the shelves were overflowing. Kinda cool.

    We do what we can, Harry. People may have differing views on politics, religion (or not), gun control, etc, but someone that'll take care of animals in some capacity......well at least it gives a common ground on which to relate. I can respect someone for that even if I disagree on everything else they might represent.

    1. I wish more people would do more for animals. But the good new is, there are some people, like those who run the ferret rescues, who are making super human efforts. And there are lots of people like us, who do what we can when we can.

    2. Matt - your views on all of us trying to do our best, to do what we can do, come together, help each other as well as do our best to help animals...are just some of the reasons why i really like you.

      Harry - you know how i feel about all of the rescues that you and your daughter have saved.

      our 3 cats are strays. and to be honest, our little puppy would not have been cared for properly if she stayed with the young man and woman any longer...they can't afford to feed her, they had never taken her outside, they "sold" her 2 brothers for probably dope was a sad state of affairs and so we agreed to take her. we wanted her to stay with the mother to socialize longer but they wanted to get rid of her. so she is here.

      harry - if a dog comes up the driveway, we will do the same as you do. i grew up with dogs...all of whom my father found somewhere. sending much love to both of you!

    3. Kymber, maybe some poor beleaguered ferret will show up at your door someday. If so, I know you and J would give him sanctuary.

    4. Kymber, in this way, I'm just like you, empathy to the utter extreme, and you know what I'm referring to (last series of emails)

    5. i completely get it Matt...don't you owe me an email??? much love buddy!

      harry - i wish i could find some ferrets. i would name all of them harry! xox

    6. I wish you could find some, too. I know you would take good care of them. And they are lovable little people.

  5. On a similar vein I am about to start in to "The Fall of the Ottomans" by Eugene Rogan. Promises to be an interesting read. Your long walk down the trail in the wet Georgia heat sounds like no fun. I'd think a motor bike or an ATV might come in handy in your situation. Around here I am not so comfortable with leaving my guns in full view like that AK. Never know when my crack junkie neighbor or one of her friends starts jonesing for a fix and decides to break in here to pay for it. If I am here she sure will regret her choice. But If I am out and about, there is not much that will stop her. So my firearms remain well hidden but quickly accessible.

    1. Another reason I don't want to live around people. I think you are being wise to keep your stuff hidden, but I wouldn't want to have to do that. Remember that old saying "good fences make good neighbors." I think I will make up my own that says "no neighbors are the best neighbors." Most of my stuff in in safes in a room on the lower level. Intruders could blow this place sky high and they'd never get in those things. But I keep a lot of weapons out and handy, so I can reach them ASAP in a moment of need.

      You want to have that Crusades discussion on the blog? I told Gray Fox we'd do it by email, because my original point was political, and I doubted anybody would take part but him and me. However, Troy has expressed interest in the Crusades, and so did Six Bears, if you're in I'll ask him to put it on here.

    2. Yes we are also ready to be somewhere with a bit more elbow room and a place where we are not the minority among the predominant left wing north east mindset. But that is not likely to happen for a while yet. I'll participate as much as I can in any discussion, though I am not sure how much I could contribute on the subject just yet. I definitely would like to learn more. As best I can tell the Rogan book I am about to tuck in to deals more with the last couple of centuries of the Ottoman context.

    3. I just don't want to conduct a conversation back and forth between two people on the blog. Especially about a topic that's not really germane. I brought it up to make a point but I'm not wanting to get into something really time consuming.

      You'll be better off when you can get out and have some space. That incident with the neighbor was bizarre. Nobody needs that on top of everything else.

  6. Harry, back in my college days I read a few books on the crusades. I was fascinated by the organization of it all. Incredible that they walked across all of Turkey without starving to death. As I recall there was more than ten of them? and that children's Amazing what people did back then when the pope gave orders.

    I can't keep guns hanging from my walls here. Too many kids with their friends around. But I do keep them close to me in a safe, readily accessible. --Troy

    1. If we have the Crusades discussion here, will you participate? I told Gray Fox we'd do it by email because my original point was that know nothings today are going around saying like parrots "The Crusades were Bad! The Crusades were Bad squaaawwwkkkk!" But he wants to get into it in detail, and I didn't think anybody would care so I told him to do it via email. However, there are a couple of other guys who might play, so it might be worth doing on the blog. You in?

      I don't want it to get so intricate that I feel like I'm writing another foot noted term paper, but I don't mind doing a little research to back my position.

      Most of my guns are in safes on the third level. I do keep guns that have no collector value and which I consider "tools" out where I can get at them in a short time.

    2. I'll say "i'm in" on the condition that you guys go easy on me :)

      It's been awhile since I've delved into primary and secondary sources. If I dig around in my basement I might even find some of my old papers on the subject. Hopefully none of them are still on those old floppy disks! --T

    3. As long as there are more than two participants I don't mind having a conversation that's off topic. I've done that before and it wasn't very productive. I'm not planning on doing a hell of a lot of research myself. I don't mind something that pays dividends, so to speak, but purely historical discussions, while interesting, rarely turn up anything of practical use here on the mountain top.

  7. There was a time when my Mother firmly believed that any stray animal within a 50 mile radius would home in on me. She may have been right. I have always had stray or rescue dogs and/or cats. Now that the last dog is gone, I find I really miss having them. Buy at the same time, I am not sure any more if I could give them the proper care that they need. It wouldn't be fair to the animal to take it on and then not be able to do for them what needs to be done. I will say, though, that it is probably a good thing that I live on the other side of the country from you, for I would find one or two of those kittens irresistible. I've always had a soft spot for kittens, even knowing that they grow into independent cats. Good on you for being one of those people who cares about animals.

    1. Vicki, are you sure you won't be lonely without an animal companion? Once your son eventually heads out again, you'll be all alone. A furry friend might not come amiss in that time.

  8. Well, we had our heater on this morning as it got down to the 40's last night. About 70 this afternoon with 20% humidity. Too cold for me...what the heck happened to summer? It seems to me that we are about to embark on another Crusade with the muslims, either that or succumb to their ways like when they took over Europe and England, too, long ago. Except now we have rules of engagement that will get our fine young troops killed. All our cats were rescues and we are down to two. No dogs anymore. A few old sheep. The bulk of our estate will go to our animal shelter. Love your pictures of the woods. Forests have always held a special place in my heart. No hardwoods here; all fir and pine. Here in the valley it is all sagebrush and pastures with mountains around. Every place has its own beauty. Hope your weather becomes more friendly to you.

    1. It's cooling down at night here, but the days are back to being stifling. I thought I wasn't going to make it back up the mountain today.

      I look at the wars against Islamic expansionism as a justifiable crusade. Doesn't bother me a damn that they have bad collective memories of that . My point today in the post is that a lot of ignorant people are going around chirping, over and over, that the Crusades were "bad." The implication is that if the crusades were bad, so are our efforts in the middle east today. I heard some ignoramus say that again on a talk show this afternoon and it was one time too many.

      If we don't do something pretty soon, especially the way things are going in Europe, we will have to have our own battle of Lapanto and who's going to play the part of the Spanish this time? Nobody has the guts.

      The forest here is still summer forest, thick and heavy. Soon the leaves will start to fall and some air can get in under there.

  9. Harry,

    We are animal lovers here too. We live on the out skirts of a college town. Some of the college students will buy an animal, then when schools out and the student returns home they dump off their animal in the streets or in the country. This just ticks me off because we usually will have dogs running the out skirts of town looking for food and attention. This past school season we had 5 dogs running loose. I don't understand why these adult students don't bring the animals to the human society. Or better yet, don't buy an animal if you can't bring them back to your home when schools over.

    1. most ferrets wind up in rescues because people buy them on a whim, without any thought of what's involved in taking care of them. They are the most expensive animals I've had, right up there with horses. When people tire of them, they either let them go outside, which means a hard death of starvation and exposure, or they give them to the rescues. I genuinely believe that to a lot of people, animals are not living beings, but "things".

  10. Harry - first off, i hope that little Jet is recovering from whatever is ailing him. secondly, i love seeing pics of your place because the landscape, trees, flora and fauna are quite different from ours. thirdly, i love that you have so many rescues who enjoy a good long life because you are a good man.

    i know how well-read and educated that you are and enjoy very much when you share your opinions on various topics. maybe that's because i tend to have the same opinions as you on a variety of subjects and enjoy conversations here at your blog.

    as for the crusades - i have read much about the subject but always from a religious angle. were they bad? or good? did europeans ever really own that land? was it just an excuse to give a whole pile of trained men something to do? are we still doing exactly that (sending young men who want to be knights overseas to fight?). was it because of christ? did we near trample turkey into the ground when they were our allies?

    why are we still involved in the middle east? i feel that the crusades are a great excuse to keep sending young men whose hearts are very loyal and chivalrous over to a land that has been warring with itself for over 6,000 years. and i wish we could find appropriate jobs for those young men.

    i am a female and have a particular point of view. i have lost friends over there and seen many come back who were never the same.

    you know how much i appreciate your service, harry, as i do all service members...but crusades or no...i just wonder what it is we are supposed to win if we ever do win.

    just my thoughts...which i know that you will respect even if you don't agree.

    your friend,

    1. Kymber, I think the middle east adventures are about countering the Islamic Threat to our homeland, and about oil. Both seem good reasons to me. I am not sure about Canada but I know if we lost access to the Saudi oil, our economy would be in a steep dive instantaneously. We've only got to look at the Caliphate to see what utter monsters they are, and they have to expand or die. They can never stop. With tens of thousands of fanatics who don't know any other existence than war, what would the Caliph do if suddenly there was no more war? He wouldn't last long. So they've got to keep going , expanding. Their taunt about the flag of Islam flying over the White House wasn't hyperbole. It was an expression of their reality.

      Europeans didn't own the middle east, but they didn't think of themselves as europeans back then. Christians did dominate the middle east, until the Moslems drove them out. The Crusades were in part an attempt to regain the holy places that had been lost.

      Like the song says "the world is a ghetto." It's not much different than it ever was. Might makes right and only the strong survive.

      I don't mind if you have different views. The Crusades thing is just an exercise anyway.

  11. Hey Harry,


    On the Crusades thing (Yeah I read all of it) all I can say its man's age old quest to get land, money and women.

    30.000 years ago it was about hunting grounds, food and women.

    Now its about oil, land and women.

    I throw the women in their because after a long hard day of running around and chasing buffalo off cliffs, feasting and drinking fermented grapes. The next fun activity was chasing the women around the cave.

    The average cave man did okay after a hunt......

    same thing ten thousand years later. get your army to take someone elses land. Take their wells. Pump their oil and sell it. Then put the money in your pocket.

    That night get online and order a custom Bugatti sports car and show it off at the Camel races in Qatar that weekend. Maybe meet someone that will have a juicy daughter of marrying age and you can add to your harem.

    Same thing throughout mankind. Religeon was used during the Crusades to 'free the holy land propaganda", but its really about expanding territory. Gaining trade routes, making money and getting women at the end of day.

    I look beyond the religion. Beyond culture and get to the real motivation of man and that's why I came to the conclusion I did.

    Now there is one other point I want to make. Too many men and not enough women and land.
    Solution. Start a war with your neighbor. Tell the young men its manly to fight. Its for glory, the greater good and women. They kill each off making it easier to rule your kingdom.
    Maybe even cut a deal with the rival king. Maybe he has a bunch of unemployed young men that are problematic and have a nice little war can be worked out on both ends to kill off 'undiserables' and both parties benefit in the long run.

    I don't mean to digress but I think most wars are basically planned by the elites, banking elites or whomever stands to benefit the most. From the crusades all the way to 9/11, too Ukraine, Syria and Iraq and whatever will happen later today.

    By the way, Russia's in Syria setting up forward operating bases. China has a fleet off the coast of Alaska, while Obama is concerned with all the ice melting during the summer in Alaska (Last I heard ice melts in the summer????)

    Everyone employed in the White House including our clueless leader grew up watching 'Sesame Street' as young children and that dumbed them down enough in their early years. All the while our enemies were 'bobbing their young heads up and down' in Madrasas learning the Koran all day long getting initiated into barbarism.

    I no longer sleep well at night.......

    1. "The next bests thing to seeing this great world begin, would be seeing it end!"

      Insane Clown Posse. "It's all over."

      I'm not sure we disagree much on the essence of the issue although we might look at it from different perspectives. My feeling is that there are too many ants for the nest, and all we can do is sit back and try to survive the ride now.

      I'm surprised at the number of people who come here that are up at four in the morning. You and I are not the only ones.

    2. captain - i can't say i disagree with a word that you have said here...i love the conversations that get started here on harry's blog. and yes, harry, there are many of us who are up at strange hours...i think it's how we find each other. sending much love to both of you before i take the puppy for another run...she's killing us - bahahahah!

    3. Kymber, I hope the puppy starts settling down some so you can get some rest. It's hard at first, but it does get better.

  12. We only have one dog but are open to another if the right one comes along. I get emails from my favorite shelter of new additions. Your kittens are very cute. We have a new kitten here that someone dumped at the end of our driveway. Rescue animals are the best.

    1. And the most in need.

      I sometimes wonder , seeing how everyone living up here, from cats to ferrets, was unwanted by society, what that says about me! ;-)

    2. harry - it says about you what i have always thought about true and proper southern gentlemen! xox

  13. Or a mad recluse. I guess it depends on how people interpret me. Either way, I'm still the same person.