It looks like one of our biggest concerns is coming true — this is going to be a year where the bad weather will fall on a Tuesday.
On Tuesday, Feb. 16, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Your Way Café in Schoharie and the roads were not in great shape. One OF thought there was a temperature inversion, because the temperature on the Hill was in the 40s, and the temperature in the valley at 6:45 a.m. was 27 degrees.
The parking lot at the restaurant was solid ice and very slippery. The OFs hung on to each other as they did their Tim Conway shuffle to the restaurant. The plows were out doing their thing, so the OFs were pretty sure that, when they left the Your Way Café, the roads (like the week before) would be in better shape. (Scribe’s note, at least for those in our vehicle, the roads were better.)
The OFs touched on an unusual topic for them; it was stained-glass windows. The real old-fashioned stained-glass windows cost and arm and a leg, plus maybe a scalp, an ear, and an eye to have cleaned and repaired.
Of course, this is depending on the size of the window. The cost, which may be understandable, is prohibitive in many cases and small churches simply cannot afford to have this done.
What many churches are doing is covering the stained glass window with clear glass, or storm windows, in order to protect the stained-glass window. The way the OFs understand it, the new stained glass windows are regular colored glass, which is generally applied over a pane of regular glass, not like the old-fashioned stained-glass window that was cut and then leaded to separate the colors that were fitted like a jigsaw puzzle.
The OFs thought the old-fashioned way must have been painstakingly slow and meticulous. First, a sketch to fit the opening; then, locating or making the colored glass; then, cutting; and now it is time to make the window.
Two OFs have reported seeing red-winged blackbirds in our area already. One OF saw the birds in Colonie, and another right in the town of Knox. This is a little early for these birds to make a showing.
Those birds may have had a few scouts in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania and reported back that the fury rodent said spring would be early this year. Now they are hauling butt back north to take advantage of the seeds that should be on the ground from last fall.
The OFs know that, when the birds first show up, they attack the backyard feeders by the drove. It is only mid-winter and we could get a ton of snow between now and April, but maybe these birds know something we don’t.
The better half wins out
Most of the OFs who are still married are easy-going types. These OFs acquiesce to their partners on many occasions. More often than not it costs the OF time or money.
One OF reported that recently he picked out tiles for under their woodstove that were effective, would do the trick, and looked good. These tiles were 12-by-12 inches and only 97 cents each.
The OF and his wife piled in the truck and headed to the one of the big-box stores that have everything for the home DIY, OF. They were ready to purchase the tiles when a salesman suggested a different tile to the wife that he thought might work better.
Then he went on to show them other decorative tiles. The original selection the OF and the better half decided on when they left the house were 12-by-12 inches and 97 cents each; the fancy ones they came home with were 6-by-6 inches and $7.37 each.
A simple little job that would have cost about 16 or so dollars, wound up costing the OF over $450. You gals are lucky to have these OFs to lean on. We acquiesce to prevent days of whines and pouts.
No throw-away culture
Our normal patter about old stuff generally pops in the conversation at one time or another at every breakfast. Tuesday’s breakfast was no different.
The OFs compared old tractor engines, and engines in general, to the newer ones. This topic was geared to how good the international engines were in the Farmall tractors. (These tractors are the red ones).
One OF mentioned that he was using his Farmall cub tractor when he heard a loud bang. The OF said nothing looked out of place, the tires were fine, and tractor ran great so he had no idea what it was.
The OF told us he used the tractor for three days around his place and it started and worked as it should. Then the other day he walked by it and noticed that the whole top of the battery had blown off, but the cables were still connected. If that had happened on one of the newer tractors or in your vehicle, there would probably be one heck of a fire.
Back in the day, there was a product most every farm kept on hand which was like tar in a can. This product was used to repair cracks in batteries, and this scribe can attest to this invention because on our farm we had an old GP John Deere tractor that had a patched battery and it was the only battery that tractor ever had that this scribe can recall.
The OFs remember filling the batteries with distilled water at times and even adding battery acid. Today, changing batteries is rather routine, and they are not cheap, Magee, just part of our current throw-away culture.
Those OFs who made it to the Your Way Café in Schoharie, and sat at their tables without falling down on the ice, were: Bill Lichliter, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Roger Chapman, Roger Shafer, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, John Rossmann, Gerry Irwin, Jay Francis, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Lou Schenck, Wayne Gaul, Jim Rissacher, Ted Willsey, and me.
On Feb. 9, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Country Café in Schoharie. This was a Tuesday, and on Tuesday, December 29, the weather was a tad nasty, and then on this Tuesday, the OFs had to content with about two inches of nuisance snow. Is this going be a year where the bad weather will happen on a Tuesday? Maybe.
Well, the Country Café was warm, and cheery — a welcome place to be early on a Tuesday morning.
The first topic was an OF’s complaint: Why did Time Warner jack up the bill by as much as 30 bucks? How do they get away with that?
One OF said that is not so much; it is a buck a day.
The other OFs said, you may be made of money but we aren’t. One OF said, if everyone thought like that and jacked up their prices only a buck a day, it would take only 10 suppliers of this, that, or the other thing to do this and, by the end of the year, we are talking big bucks, like $3,650 for the year. How do you make that up on a fixed income?
This scribe does not know how or if the subject transitioned at this time to if things are better now or when we were young. The OFs thought not, but the scribe said, yes, in most cases things are better now than then. So this scribe did a little checking, the key word here is little.
In 1970, when the United States had 203 million people, there were 16,000 murders, 350,000 robberies and 28,000 rapes.
A decade later, with a population of 225 million, there were 23,000 murders, 565,000 robberies, and 83,000 rapes.
The following decade, in 1990, there were 250 million people, again 23,000 murders, 639,000 robberies, and 84,000 rapes.
Skipping to 2014, the most recent since 2015 isn’t yet tallied, there were 319 million people, 14,000 murders, 325,000 robberies, and 84,000 rapes.
So you can see how crime in all major categories, with 116 million more people now than then, is considerably less crime than when there were fewer people. Tires last longer, cars run better and last much longer though they are nowhere near as stylish, and homes are constructed better. Medicine is better by leaps and bounds.
Conservation is beginning to take hold. Back in the day, sewage was untreated and dumped in the rivers, lakes, and streams — and winding up in the ocean. Factories dump what we now know is called hazardous waste anywhere because there were no controls stating they couldn’t.
Even based on average income, cars and houses are relatively proportionate. Food is a tad higher, but two items are way out of whack — tuition and health care cost much more than in the 1950s and proportionately so.
This is one way to look at then and now; however, stats can be bent anyway to prove anything but is some cases facts are facts.
The reason most of the OFs think times are worse now than in the past is the immediate assimilation of news from all over the world, and most of the reporting is of bad news. Naturally the OFs are going to think everything is bad because that is all they hear today, almost hourly when it happens.
There is TV, Skype, cell phones, and computers. No wonder the OFs think the world is coming to and end and, if you believe the media, it is.
This scribe says: Sit back and relax — this ole sphere has been around a long time and it still will be for a long time to come. There is only one person who knows when it will end and he isn’t telling or leaving any clues.
Talk opens with wallet
This conversation opened up when one OF took out his wallet to leave a tip, and one OF ran to get a fly swatter to swat the moths as they flew out of that wrinkled, old piece of leather. That topic was where some people kept their money.
One OF said that this guy ran a junkyard and did not trust banks so he did everything in cash, and used his money as insulation in the walls of his home. When he retired, he sold the junkyard, and had what the OF called a fire sale, and sold all the junk he could.
There must not have been a clause in the contract that said he couldn’t, and it did happen a while ago, according to this OF. The new owner was really upset when he found that many of the walls in the house were all torn apart with an ax.
Another OF said this same kind of reasoning applied in a story he had heard about an OF who hid his money in a wall behind the stove and, when he finally went to get it out of the wall, all he had was confetti because the mice had gotten into it and made nests.
The OFs also discussed some of the places where they had worked. Those who had worked on the Thruway said it was dangerous.
The OFs who used this road quite a bit also mentioned the close calls they had on this stretch of highway. One said that it was people not being used to driving at 65 miles per hour, and dealing with the wind that was a big problem. Another problem was inattention of drivers not realizing how much ground is covered going this speed with a machine that weighs on the light side one ton.
The OFs who worked on the Thruway mentioned pulling the steering right or left to adjust for driving with a side wind is one of the problems. After driving at a good clip with this constant pressure on the steering wheel and then coming to a bridge that stops the wind, the vehicle will then dart right or left and, if the driver is not concentrating, the vehicle will smack right into a bridge abutment.
The Old Men of the Mountain who found their way to the Country Café in Schoharie and did not need to drive the Thruway to get there were: Roger Chapman, Bill Lichliter, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Chuck Aelesio, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Roger Shafer, Mace Porter, Lou Schenck, Gerry Irwin, Wayne Gaul, Jack Norray, Ted Willsey, Mike Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.
This Tuesday (the day the Old Men of the Mountain met) was the same day that, that rodent weather prognosticator in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania (I got the spelling from the Internet; I ain’t that smart. This is similar to people not being from this area who try to spell local names, like Schenectady, or half the towns on Long Island) was going to advise the whole Northeast what the rest of winter was going to be like.
The OFs say that rodent isn’t necessary because his predictions are generally wrong. Just ask any of the OFs who have lived on the mountain for years; they can tell what the winter will be like right down to number of snowflakes that are going to fall just by looking at the color of hills across the valley precisely at 11:36 a.m., on Jan. 10.
That will be as correct as any rodent shaken out of a great nap by a bunch of Norman Rockwell-type old goats, in tall hats can predict. Howeve,r that groundhog is a lot like a construction worker because they whistle at perspective mates. When the groundhog is awake that is.
This brought the OFs to talking about the ice on the ponds and lakes this year, specifically how little there is of it, and, if there is any, how treacherous it may be. One OF reported that there were some ice fishing shanties out on Thompson’s Lake and the ice is so thin at the shoreline that planks are laid down so those stupid enough to go out and fish could go across open water to get to their shanties out on the lake.
One OF said they had better be pretty good swimmers if they do head out to fish. It has been a very open winter so far, and the OFs are hoping we do get substantial snowfall sometime before the winter is out because the wells and reservoirs will need the water.
One OF did mention that, a couple of years ago, we had plenty of snow and still there was a water shortage the following summer. The OFs couldn’t argue with this OG because they were unable to recall this particular weather event.
More than one way to fry an egg
Many of the OFs are good cooks, some because their moms taught them how when they were young, and others by necessity, and some because they went for beauty instead of brains and were forced to learn how. One OF started giving a brief lesson on how to take care of the pots and pans especially when making fried eggs and bacon.
This OF said, “Keep your eye on the bacon and don’t let it burn because once that starts the eggs will stick to the pan where the bacon burned.”
One OF said he didn’t have that problem because he uses two pans. What? Now you have two pans to clean.
Start cooking the bacon first, then throw the eggs in after the bacon is cooked some, that way the bacon grease is used for the eggs.
“Nah,” was a reply. “That way, everything is too greasy. I take the bacon out and put it on some paper towels to soak up the grease.”
“That spoils the whole thing,” came a response. “By the time the eggs are done, the bacon is cold.”
“No, it isn’t,” was the answer. “I cook the eggs in another pan.”
“Not another two-pan job for simply frying up two or three eggs and bacon for breakfast,” was the comment.
“You guys have it all wrong. I throw in half a stick of butter, then the bacon; when that is about ready, I crack in three eggs, and there is about an eighth of an inch of grease in the pan. After that, I put my plate over the pan for a little while (that warms up the plate) then I take the spatula and wave some of that grease over the eggs. When the eggs are the way I like them, I take them out, and the toast off the back of the stove and I am ready to go.”
“All that fat, what about your cholesterol?” was asked.
“What about it?” the reply was. “My last check-up it was 150 which is not that bad.”
“When was that check up?” an OF inquired. “When you were ten years old?”
The OFs discussed drones again, and how in the Netherlands the Dutch National Police are training eagles to hunt down drones and attack them.
One OF said, if he sees a drone over his property, if he can’t get his shotgun in time to shoot it down, he will throw rocks at it. If this OF brings down the drone, he better hope that it doesn’t land on someone’s head.
The subject came up again how most technology, not all, but most, generally is an improvement. Tuesday morning, the discussion was on tools. It was mentioned how much safer most tools are these days, and how much easier they are to work with.
One OF mentioned the Hougen magnetic drill and cutters. The OF said they used to have to climb poles and drill holes in steel for the appropriate fastener. This process took two men and a boy to handle the drill to drill the hole, and, when the hole was about through, the bit would catch and the drill would spin and twist your arm, or snap your wrist, or could even knock you off the pole.
Along comes this Hougen tool, and one guy carries it up with little effort, sticks the drill to the steel and just feeds the cutter in and the tool does all the work. No more dangling from a harness because the drill has twisted the OF around and dislodged him from the pole.
Those Old Men of the Mountain who are lucky enough to escape the pitfalls of farming and heavy industry, sundry wars, and the occasional whack with a frying pan and make it to Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh were: Harold Guest, Bill Lichliter, Dave Williams, Roger Chapman, John Rossmann, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Miner Stevens, Glenn Patterson, Chuck Aelesio, Mark Traver, Roger Shafer, Mace Porter, Wayne Gaul, Lou Schenck, Bob Fink, Bob Benninger, Jim Rissacher, Ted Willsey, Bill Herzog, Ellwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.
OK, the clock starts again! The Old Men of the Mountain were at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh on Tuesday, Jan. 26, and we start the restaurant round again. Right now it takes eight weeks for the OFs to run through our round-robin clock of restaurants.
This can, and has, been changed by adding or deleting eating establishments, but for now it is eight. The OFs like to call it spreading the wealth, and keeping the wealth at home.
The OFs began talking about themselves this morning and commenting on age itself. Age is a relative thing, according to this group. The OFs say your attitude means a lot.
It is possible to be a real OF, 90 years old cranky, and grumble about everything or be 90 years old, smile with your teeth, fake teeth, or no teeth, but take everything in stride and be like a 60-something 90-year old.
The OFs are first to admit getting old brings a lot of baggage as parts of the body decide they don’t want to work like they used to. Many doctors reply to some of the OFs’ complaints by saying, “Well, you are getting older; there is nothing really wrong with you except you are getting older and there is no pill for that yet, so suck it up and live with it.”
Believe it or not, many of the OFs, when they hear this and know their situation is not life threatening, do suck it up and go on about their business.
That doesn’t make it any easier but it is all attitude, and most of the OFs do not escape the maladies of getting older; they just mention these woes as part of their conversation and then go on to something else. Some of the OFs really hurt, are really sick, or have rea,l serious problems but at the breakfast one would never know it.
Age is relative, not a number, which is evidenced by the OMOTM.
Hot air will melt snow
The OFs discussed the storm Jonas that came up the east coast last week, and walloped the major cities along the way. What do they do with all that snow? Miles and miles of streets have to be plowed and where do they put it?
One OF who moved here from Long Island said they are not allowed by law to dump the snow in the river or the ocean. Hey, they are not playing ball: Why not use Yankee stadium, Citi Field, or Central Park? Another thought would be to gather all the politicians and have them stand on the corners of the streets and make speeches on how they are going to help us. All that hot air will melt the snow in no time.
Last week, the column mentioned some of the waitresses and this week the OFs read the column and expanded on how effective the waitresses are in all the restaurants on our clock.
One OF mentioned that he bumped into one of the waitresses just the other day; she now isn’t on the shift of the OFs’ attendance on Tuesdays. She asked him how we were doing.
The OF mentioned that sometimes waitresses do change and they really do not get to know the OFs, and sometimes the OFs see the same ones for years. One such waitress used to bring her baby to work; the OFs have seen that baby become a toddler, and now he is going to school. The OFs who hang in there long enough may see the same young man wait on them for pin money as he proceeds through high school, maybe even beyond.
Parrott House preserved
The OFs discussed the ongoing work being done at the Parrott House in Schoharie and now this effort is at a standstill because it has to be in compliance with allowable work as authorized by the Historic Preservation authority.
The OFs mentioned places where work done had to be removed and redone to satisfy the Historic Preservation demands once the building is on the Historic Preservation registry. Some of the rules seemed pretty silly and harsh if the OFs understand the demands of the authority correctly.
But the OFs guess the key word is “historic,” and to change what a historic building looked like would not fit the word historic. The OFs assumed that, as radical as it may be, they do have a point.
Most of the OFs have a cat or a dog, some have a cat and a dog, and some have cats and dogs. Taking care of these animals as the OFs become older is like taking care of kids. Most of them are pampered pets.
On the farm, the OFs remember, the cat or cats, dog or dogs were rarely taken to the vet, and they seemed to have gotten along very well. Today the OFs are running the same animals to the vet more than the OFs are running to the doctor.
The OFs spend good money purchasing fancy food for their pets, and, back when they were on the farm, the animals ate what the OFs ate — scraps from the table. The cats might have a mouse for dessert, and the dog might have a rabbit.
The OFs remember the fur of the animals being shiny, their teeth and claws being sharp and in good shape. Now the OFs say some even brush their dog’s teeth. Say what?
One OF commented, “If you tried brushing my dog’s teeth, you would be missing a few fingers. Our barn cats never saw the inside of the house; they were out when it was 20 below and were more healthy than those pampered pets are today.”
An OF did say, if they really became ill or hurt, it was off to the vet then and they would patch them up. Sometimes, one OF said, if the vet was coming to the farm, he would have the vet check out the dog or dogs while he was there, maybe the cats if he could round them up in one place and keep them there.
The old saying that it is impossible trying to herd cats is very true. The best way to handle a bunch of cats is grab one at a time and stow it in a box until all the cats that might need attention are caught. The OFs say, don’t try to catch a cat; coax that feline to where you can catch it with food.
An OF remarked that he should rename his fat cat “Useless.” That says it all.
The OMOTM who were coaxed to the Middleburgh Diner by food were: Robie Osterman, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Chuck Aelesio, David Williams, Roger Shafer, Glenn Patterson, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Miner Stevens, Roger Chapman, Gerry Irwin, Wayne Gaul, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Lou Schenck, Don Wood, Ted Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Bill Herzog, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.
It is already Jan. 19, and a Tuesday when the Old Men of the Mountain braved the wind and single-digit temperatures to meet at the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville.
Wouldn’t you know it — Murphy’s Law applied. As good as the Hilltown Café is, it is the restaurant with the highest elevation the OFs have on their list, and Tuesday was the worst day of the year so far.
Two hands on the wheel or the vehicle could be blown into the ditch, and there the OFs would be stuck, with a temperature, figuring in wind chill, of 20-degrees below zero, in the middle of nowhere hoping another carload of OFs would come by and pick them up.
It’s wrong to be always right
The OFs found that it was time to pick on those who think that they are always right. An argument between two people who think they know it all and who are always right the OFs consider a waste of time. Generally neither one is right.
The term “my way or the highway” is one phrase the OFs say fits right in this discussion. The OFs said we all know people like this.
One OF said, “Yeah, we have a room full of them right now.” This OF continued, “I know I am right on this. Which one of you guys is going to admit they are not right? Starting a sentence with, ‘I may be wrong, but “xyz”’ doesn’t count because it really means the OF thinks he is right.”
In most cases, there is more than one way to get a job done. As long as the job is done and it works, there is no right way; any way was the right way, the job is done, so what, who cares how it was done.
Travel with cash
One OF mentioned that, when traveling now, it is a good idea to bring some cash. Some banks and credit card companies will prevent you from using your card if the place where it is being used is an unusual situation for you.
One OF reported that his identity was stolen and the credit card was being used to buy lumber in California. The credit-card company stopped payment right away, and would not honor it. The company contacted the OF to see if he was there and, of course, he was not there, he was still here in New York. The OF then obtained a new credit card, making the original one useless.
But the OF said, “Suppose you were in California and really needed to use the credit card and the bank put a stop on it and you had no cash?” Whoops — now what kind of hoops would you have to go through?
The OFs said that it is a good idea to notify your bank if you are going to travel and inform them of where you are going ahead of time. That sounded like a good idea to the OFs.
Another topic the OFs touched on Tuesday morning was diets. As long as the OFs have been around, diets (going on and off diets) have been a national source for conversations, articles, and cookbooks.
How many ways can you fry a potato? The OFs have found a diet that seems to work and was prescribed by a physician — just a regular M.D. trying to help someone lose weight. The OF relating the advice the doctor offered said that, on a plate of meat, potatoes, and veggies, start with the protein first, and then chew, chew, chew.
Many of the OFs have their breakfast gone in a manner of minutes. The reasoning is they like to eat their food while it is still warm. To these OFs, if you spend all your time chewing, it takes too long and the food cools off.
That may be part of the secret of this diet plan; if the food is cold the eater will eat less — hmmmm. Some OFs do chew their food but shape-wise, the mix of OFs who chew, or gulp proves nothing.
The other part of this diet is to drink water. Sounds simple enough to this scribe who might take heed; apparently, it is not what you eat but how you eat. Hey, it is worth a shot.
The last piece of advice was not about dieting but should be added to the regimen and that is: Get some exercise. How much and exactly what type of exercise was not mentioned.
This scribe thinks good long walks should be sufficient. Although, at the ages of some of the OFs, the arthritis, along with other aches and implants, prevent the OFs from these long walks. Some sort of exercise for these OFs should be doctor recommended.
This brought up the notice of how many of the OFs use their elbows or hands to push on tables to get up. Some of the OFs prefer to sit in chairs with arms so they can use the elbows, and some even sit with their elbows and shoulders under pressure on the arms of chairs because they are unknowingly supporting their backs even while sitting down.
Tips on tipping
The OFs brought up the adding of 18 percent to the bill for a tip. The OFs say they don’t trust a lot of the managers of these restaurants to pass that money along.
The OFs would rather leave it or hand it to the server than have it automatically collected. A few of the OFs have been so disgusted in a restaurant (these OFs had to admit it was just a few times) that they left the traditional penny to indicate their displeasure.
Now, an OF said, the waiter or waitress can just sling the plate at you, and forget to even ask if everything is OK, or if you need anything else and they still get a tip. This is wrong, according to the OFs.
Most of the OFs leave a pretty good tip when they are happy and now they won’t even get that chance.
The OFs wonder what planet these politicians live on. Social Security saw no increases this year because the cost of living has not risen — say what? Have the people who run that governmental department been in a grocery store lately? The OFs doubt it. How this got into talking about tips, this scribe does not know.
The OMOTM that were at the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville and being served by a waitress with a ready smile and laugh along with proficiency that earned her money and tips were: Roger Chapman, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, John Rossmann, Robie Osterman, Harold Guest, Chuck Aelesio, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Lou Schenck, Gerry Irwin, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Bill Herzog, Jim Rissacher, Bill Rice, Henry Whipple, Mike Willsey, Ted Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, Wayne Gaul, and me.