Friday, January 2, 2009

Our new years eve was incredible. We went with my friend Bill to Cleveland to see one of my all time favorite bands-Jason and the Scorchers. While I'm mainly a giant metalhead, I've always loved the raw energy and talent of these guys. I've always liked "southern rock" that was more powerful than the normal Skynyrd or Allman Brothers........Blackfoot, Molly Hatchet, and these guys. I last saw them in (I think) '87, and they performed exactly the same as they did that night. Jason is all over the stage, Warner Hodges (guitar) playing his heart out with more energy than Angus Young.....awesome! It's a shame that these guys never got the sucess or airplay that they deserved, they're way better than most that have. They're a bit different in the fact that they'll play a balls-to-the-wall fast paced song like White Lies ( ), then go right to an old style country song like Blanket of Sorrow ( ), then include awesome covers of 19th Nervous Breakdown, Take me home-country roads, or Great Balls of Fire. Luckily they did Harvest Moon, ( ), my very favorite song of theirs. Jason did a 2 hour show, with a good opening act (sorry guys-forgot your name lol whiskey someting). I'm glad we went. It was a great time with Lisa and my lifelong friend. 10 years with Lisa, 40+ years being friends with Bill, and 21 years since we last saw the band.....what a way to bring in the new year!

Yesterday was for the most part, a lazy day. We didn't get home till well after 2am, so we both ended up overleeping and getting up at close to 10. Oh yea, the girls were a bit pissed about eating late, lol! We sat around and talked, then headed to Lisa's moms for the afternoon. She always makes the traditional sauerkraut & pork, so we were all, her 2 sisters, and Lisa's one and only neice. Being stuck in a small apartment full of suburban women can be hell lol. The tv was on the Food Network, so I was stuck there watching Iron Chef America for 3 hours straight. Yup....I was bored outta my mind, but tried to keep some form of conversation going so I wouldn't slip into a coma or hang myself from the door frame. But.....we're trying to spend as much time as possible with Lisa's mom. She's 77 and her health is going downhill fast. I'm sure she gets depressed living alone, she's had a rough life. Alcoholic husband till he passed away, raising 5 kids, having one daughter than ran away almost 30 years ago and has never came back, and a son whom the whole family has disowned. I can't imagine going through what she has, so I have lots of respect for that woman. We'll probably head over there again on Sunday and take her some fresh eggs and homemade bread.

We ended last night watching 2 more episodes of a show on the History Channel on the 7 deadly sins. There's another on tonight, and we'll watch it as well while at the same time we plot out the garden spaces on graph paper like we do every year. I don't discuss religion, and won't on this blog, but I found that show interesting and educational. Maybe someday I'll go into our religious path, but not now.

Anyway......time to go start the car and let it warm up, feed & water the critters, and head to work to unload another truckload of pipe for this church job.

Hoping everyone had a great new years, and best wishes for 2009 to all.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

After reading Farmergeeks response on his blog about the Boy Scout books, it somehow reminded me of my youth. Nope, I was never a scout, but I had always wanted to be one. I wanted to wear that uniform, I wanted to go on outings, have friends, and learn from them, but it never happened for several reasons. One, my parents never liked to drive anywhere other than work or to the store. Two, they could never have afforded anything I would have needed to be in the scouts. And three, dad always said they were wimps, lol, I imagine he couldnt get in either...grumpy old fart. Plus I was a very nervous kid..really withdrawn,shy, and afraid of everything. Hard to belive ain't it??? lol
While growing up, I never learned any of the wilderness survival skills in the scout books like making a shelter or tying knots, but I learned a lot from just living, even though at the time I didn't realize it. I learned to garden, I learned to shoot and hunt, I learned to fish, I learned how to preserve food, and I learned how to live on next to nothing. Times were hard at home, nearly my entire youth was spent from check to check by my parents barely making ends meet.At that time in the late 60's and early 70's, concrete guys just plain didnt work in the winter, so dad was always layed off. To understand where I'm coming from, I'll go into a little detail:

I grew up with my mom, dad, and sister on 3 acres in a small township in the same county I live in now. Our house was a 3 room basement home. NOT 3 bedrooms, 3, living room, backroom, thats it. We slept in the same room as our parents on bunkbeds till I was about 12, when dad seperated the 2 rooms. Heat in the house was via an oil burning stove in the center of the living room,no ductwork, just radiant heat.(so even though we had our own room, we had to keep the door open when it was cold) We had well water attached to a kitchen sink and a washing machine, and that was all. We bathed in an old galvanized washtub with hot water from the sink. Our toilet was an indoor outhouse of sorts, inside a closet in the backroom. Basically just a frame with a seat and bucket underneath, with a matching real outhouse behind the old shed that was about 80 yards from the house.In the evenings after dark, dad carried that bucket to the outhouse, 365 days a year. We finally got a real bathroom with a tub, shower, and toilet when I was 15, so we (sis and I)thought we were rich. We had a black and white tv attached to a 25 foot antenna tower dad scrounged from a jobsite, with a grand total of 5 stations. (anyone else remember antenna rotors?) I believe I was around 18 or 19 when we got basic cable.I remember an old rotary phone in the house till around '85 as well. The flat tar roof leaked, the floor was almost always damp, the bare block walls cold, and the place always smelled of heating oil and Hoppes gun cleaner. (though I still love the smell of Hoppes, lol)

Food was always a big issue. During the warmer months, we ate what we deemed as "normal" food, though most was the cheapest cut available, and usually other things from the dented can bins at the local Sparkle Market. We busted our asses with a decent sized garden all summer, and I grew to hate it as a kid. I remember many days of pushing myself and my sister through green briar to pick blackberries, as well as wild grapes, so mom could make jellies and jams to can or freeze. (I still hate freezer jam though!) We never had any animals other than beagles, so our only meat source other than the store (when dad was working) was hunting. I can't begin to imagine how many meals we had that were duck, squirrel, or rabbit. At the time there were still pheasants in this part of Ohio, and we were always excited to bag one since it meant a good sized dinner. I think the worst time we had was one winter when dad and I set off hunting on Thanksgiving morning hoping to get a pheasant so we didn't have to have rabbit for dinner. Luckily we got one that day .

Funny how life works, isn't it? Most of my life I hated the way I grew up and resented my parents for making us live that way. We were "forced" to help around the house and garden. We had to use an outhouse when everyone else had a real bathroom. We had to watch an old b&w tv when the neighbors had color, remote control AND cable! All through my teens 20's,and early 30's, I pulled myself as far away from that life as I could, buying and doing everything I could, just because I could. But here I sit, typing and thinking about all of this and realize something. I'm going back to that way of life on purpose. It makes me chuckle to think about it, but it also makes me kinda sad. I wasted all that time trying to ignore who/what I really am. It took me all this time to find myself, but I made it. Without my childhood, and without Lisa's encouragement I would never be where I am now.....make that-WE would never be where WE are now.Without going into any detail, she grew up ver similar in a house not much bigger with FOUR siblings...and I thought I had it tough! Sometimes I write in this blog like it's all me, but it's far from it. Lisa had taken every step right beside me the whole way,taking this incredible journey of lifestyle change that we are on.
Though they'll never see this, thank you mom and dad for making me who I am today, and thank you Lisa for your love and encouragement. You are my guiding light down this path to self sufficiency.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Yesterday's adventure and what the hell???

OK this weather is just....well....wierd. Friday it pored rain all day. Yesterday it was almost 70 degrees. We spent the day driving around, and the digital thermometer on the mirror read 68 most of the day. When we went to bed last night, I noticed that it seemed pretty windy, no big deal. Lisa wakes me up an hour ago and tells me the canopy/carport that I use for storage was on its side. I get up, get dressed, go feed and water, and take a look. Yep.....the back and right side (towards the orchard) are pulled out and flopped over, like someone just flipped it on it's left side. After the big summer windstorm, I added more 12 inch stakes to this thing, one every 2 feet along it's 16 foot length, 4 down each end, and 4 down the center. What kinda wind in Ohio rips this thing out? It's not in grass, it's in the old driveway area. It took a 2 lb hammer to get those things driven in, and this wind flipped it over like it was nothing. This is just wierd. It's Ohio, it's December. It shouldn't be windy and 70 degrees. I'm not much of a believer in global warming, but I'm really beginning to wonder.

Yesterday morning, we set off on a bit of an adventure. A few years ago we stayed at a bed & breakfast in Zoar (amish country) for our annivesary, and during that stay we traveled the backroads to Lehmans. During that drive, we found an amish bulk/dry goods store. The kind with bulk foods, canned goods, amish owned and ran, lit by lanterns....our kinda place. The goal for yesterday was to find this store again. We started in Kidron at the antique store I saw the Rolls Razor at. After realizing the shaving handle was missing, I passed on it and ended up getting a pipe pocket tool. Kinda like a Leatherman tool for pipe smokers. It has 3 folding accesories-a metal pipe cleaner, a pipe scraper, and a single blade, and the outside end of the stainless case is a pipe tamper....pretty cool! It was only $7, so I picked it up, and we set off to find the old store. We traveled winding country roads past countless farms and small homes, from Kidron to Strasburg,( close to 20 miles by backroads), and couldn't find it. I doubled up 77 to Zoar, and head back....still nothing. We ended up back close to where we started and ended up going to Berlin. (another 25 miles) I hate Berlin. It's turned into a giant tourist trap, and people eat it up. I sware you could pick up a horse turd off the road, label it "amish made", and these idiots would pay top dollar for it. I never imagined it would be so busy on a weekend in December, but the place was packed. There were cars parked along the road through the entire 10 or so blocks of "downtown". As I drove by disgusted, Lisa spotted a sign on a side road for "bulk foods". We turned around and went to check it out. To my surprise, the place had a few things we wanted to get. We had stopped at a few stores along this journey, but in all of them, "bulk foods" were 2 pound of this, 1 pound of that, and 3 pounds of the other. This one was a bit different in they had things like flour, sugar, and oats in bags of 2, 5, 10 and 25 pounds. We settled on a 25 lb bag of white sugar, and a 25lb bag of brown sugar. I asked about bulk coffee beans, and their only suggestion was the coffee shop across the street.

UGH I hate those place, and especially this one. These people come from god-knows-where to visit "amish country" for a day, but they sure can't live without their fancy coffee. I roll my eyes several times, drive across the street, and walk into my version of hell.'s a starbucks with a jolt of hippy wannabe's and other people that have so many reasons NOT to be in this neck of the woods. First of all, I walk in the door to Bob Dylan on the speakers. (oh please kill me now) The place smells of fancy pastries, flavored coffee, and cologne I'm pretty sure men shouldn't wear unless their loafers are kinda light. (if you get my drift) It's an endless sea of sweater vests, eddy bauer and l.l. bean coats. Please tell me they have bulk coffee so I can get out of here. I need to run out to the street and rub my face in a big pile of horse manure just to get the burning odor of yuppie out of my nose! We look around and see some bins of coffee beans, over 20 to be exact. C'mon people, there's only 2 kinds of coffee....french roast, or regular old wake 'yer ass up....thats it. UGHHHHHHHHH I decide to get a bag of the most regular roast I could find and get out. $11 a pound and I walk to the counter, only to be greeted by a young guy ( I refuse to say MAN to this), wearing a sweater vest and beret. It took every bit of energy I had not to laugh. If it weren't for Lisa's sore knee, I would have ran out the door. Thank god, I'm back outside...I survived and live to tell you people about it.

I still haven't been able to locate a source for bulk coffee beans. I really don't want to go to the store and buy 25 of those little 1 pound bags, but it may come to that. I've tried everywhere I can think of. Later today I'll look online, but I've tried that before with no luck. If anyone has suggestions, please pass them on.

Blog Archive