This scribe will be glad when this month is over; as I type this, it is 10 below zero. This scribe used to like cold weather and snow. No more.

On Jan. 18, the Old Men of the Mountain met at Mrs. K’s restaurant in Middleburgh, sans the scribe, and a few others. This means resorting to notes taken at previous gatherings but not used for one reason or another.

Some of the time, discussions may cause something in the scribe’s judgment that is really not meant for a family paper. Then again, the scribe thinks it is only people like the OMOTM that still read books and newspapers.

The rest use an electronic device of one kind or another, so why not use some of these questionable topics? The old folks won’t care because they know what has been going on, and the younger ones won’t read it anyway.

In reading backwards, I found a note scribbled on the pad that read “peep show.” Now seems to be a good time to explain this particular note.

Some of the OFs have boats, and one OF decided to take some of the other OFs for a ride down the Hudson River on his boat. It was a nice day and a good day for a boat ride.

Off they went and, as they were cruising the waterway, the OFs happened to pass a larger pleasure craft, akin to a yacht, slowly plying its way upriver. All the OFs in their boat, including the driver, felt their mouths fall open because both of the occupants of the upriver boat were naked, soaking up the sun along with a leisurely cruise up the river.

The whole event might have taken 30 seconds but, when reporting on the OFs’ trips at the next breakfast, that is all they talked about. Not the scenery, or the ride, or the lunch, or anything like that. No, the talk was only about the two naked people on the yacht, on the river, on a beautiful sunny day.

A whole day trip, and the OFs talked about only 30 seconds of it. Hey, why not? One thing that no one would want to see is five OFs cruising down the river in a smaller (but very nice) boat naked. Would that spoil your day or what?

 

The Tim Conway shuffle

One discussion the OFs have is about falling. When they were young the OFs remember actually falling on purpose.

Sometimes it was just not on purpose but was part of the fun in learning to ski with spring-type bindings that went around the OF’s barn boots and skiing down the slope on Cole Hill. This scribe and the OFs remember having skis that were two miles long and brown — everyone had long brown skis at this particular slope.

Also, at that time, what was on your head was what the OF wore to school, or wherever. Knit caps, mad bomber hats, sometimes just ear muffs. No one had a helmet; they weren’t even invented yet.

Quite often, in the beginning, the young OFs started out on skis, but wound up tumbling the rest of the way down the hill.

Today, falling is one of our biggest fears. The scribe mentioned that one OF took a trip head-first down his back stairs after slipping on black ice. This OF is in pretty good condition because the OF is very active.

The senior citizens have programs on how OFs should train themselves to walk, and be aware of tripping hazards so the OFs don’t fall. And the big “but” here is: Not many seniors pay close enough attention to these programs.

One OF mentioned how just a walk in the woods for any OF can be hazardous with all the roots, rocks, holes, and humps you find on these hikes. Any path can be treacherous.

Another OF said, “Hey, have you ever taken a walk on a sidewalk, with the cracks, and tree roots lifting up the concrete? It is just as tricky as a path in the woods.”

With the seniors doing the Tim Conway shuffle, it is a miracle that more of the OFs don’t find themselves face down on the ground. One good thing is that the fear of falling is in the back of the mind of many OFs.

This conversation on falling was in the notebook a couple of months before the OF took the header down the back stairs. Black ice is a misnomer of sorts; it is more like invisible ice.

 

New York glue

Also, a little while ago the OFs were talking about “why are we here.” This talk was not in the philosophical sense as to why we are here, but why are we, the OFs, here in New York?

We have high taxes, screwed-up politics, and really cold weather. The answer was as varied as those talking.

Family, friends, seasons, work, and the beauty of New York were some of the items put up for discussion. Many of the OFs who travel said that, even with cloudy days, they are always glad to get back to New York.

But this scribe also assumes those who are born and reared elsewhere can also say, “Gee, it is great to get back to North Dakota.”

But where else can you go boating down the river and see naked people boating up the river? Gotta be New York.

Those OFs who made it to Mrs. K’s in Middleburgh again, regardless of the weather, were: Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Bill Lichliter, Roger Shafer, Rev. Jay Francis, Elwood Vanderbilt, Bob Donnelly, Dave Hodgetts, Joe Rack, Paul Nelson, Rick LaGrange, Ed Geoff, John Dabrvalskes, and not me.

Some of the Old Men of the Mountain braved the cold and went out to eat on Tuesday morning, Jan. 11, with the temperature at zero degrees down to a few ticks below zero. The winds didn’t help — they were a tad blustery also. These winds caused what little bit of snow that is in the fields to blow across the roadway making it another not-too-friendly ride to Middleburgh to eat.

The OFs met at the Middleburgh Diner along with a few other brave souls. It was an interesting morning because as it worked out there was another group meeting at the diner, and they all came in driving trucks with plows on them. This was a good-sized group.

COVID-COVID-COVID were the greetings, just like “Good morning.” However, this scribe is just going to let that rest because there are as many suggestions and conspiracy theories out there as there are people in the group.

 

The eyes have it

It was found out that many of the OFs have had cataract surgery (as has been mentioned before) and the selection of what can be done during the correction of the eye was interesting. Tuesday morning was a continuation of that discussion.

The chatter was completely unintentional; it just came out that way.  One OF had his eyesight corrected so he could still wear his glasses.

When one has been wearing glasses for years, those optical-correction devices seem to become part of the body and the person who has worn them for a long time feels they look weird without them. Glasses change their looks, and some people feel they help their vision even if they are plain glass.

One OF mentioned that he can see miles off but still needs glasses, or readers to do just that. Read. The OF said he is an avid reader and asked for glasses he could wear all the time. Smart idea if it works; apparently it did for this OG.

This saves a lot of time looking for readers when reading the paper or even having to carry these reader glasses around. Hmm. We wonder how much time is spent looking for glasses and hearing aids.

Another OF said that, when the doctor asked what he did most of the time, the OF told the doctor he was a mechanic, which requires close-up work, and he was also a shooter, which requires the OF to see distances sharply for targets.

The OF said the doctor fixed him up with two lenses. One lens is for distance in one eye, and one lens is for close-up in the other. The OFs asked him which was the dominant eye and the OG said he just concentrates on which he wants to use and what he is doing. One OF thought that would take some doing, then another OF said he just wanted his eyes to match — forget the fancy stuff.

 

Biting into the big Apple

The OFs tried to imagine what it would be like living in New York City. The fire that was caused by a malfunctioning space heater is what prompted this conversation.

It boiled down to the OFs talking about spending very little time in the city. Not many visits were good as far as these OFs were concerned. Noise, smell, hustle and bustle, rudeness were most of the complaints.

One OF said New York City just seemed dirty to him. Another OG mentioned he couldn’t understand anybody. This OF did not know what language was being spoken in New York City; he said he had better luck when he was in Korea.

 

Good deed ahead

Somehow we started talking about the Boy Scouts. The notes this scribe takes doesn’t allude to what leads one conversation into another.

The topic just seemed interesting, and in this discussion it was found out some of the OFs were Scoutmasters way back when.

In Berne, the Masons have a collection station for recyclables. Bottles and cans are received there, and the revenue from collecting these helps support the Scout troop in Berne.

This collection station has been there for many years and is now in need of some repair. The new Scoutmaster has taken on the project of actually making the bins larger, which is needed.

Nothing has been done yet for, as one OF put it, “I bet when the Scoutmaster went to get lumber for the project and saw how much it now costs, the screeching of brakes to that idea could have been heard miles away.”

 

Smiling in the cold

How to keep busy in the winter months when it is as cold as it has been lately, or when there comes to be a ton of snow is a problem for many OFs, and not only the OFs but older people in general.

The OFs asked on Tuesday morning, “What are you doing to keep busy?”

Some have heated garages and are working on this or that and keeping just as busy as if it were summer. Boy! That is the key! Keep moving, and find something to keep busy. Not as easy as it sounds but necessary.

Here is something to make you smile through this cold weather. A recent study has found that women who carry a little extra weight live longer than the men who mention it.

You’re welcome.

Those OFs who made it to the Middleburgh Diner no matter the weather, or COVID, were: Robie Osterman, Bill Lichliter, Jake Herzog, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Herb Bahrmann, Paul Nelson, and me. That’s it.

On Jan. 4, the first meeting of the Old Men of the Mountain for the year 2022 was at the Country Café in Schoharie. So far, it was also the coldest day of the year. The low temperature at breakfast was 3 degrees, and the high was 7 degrees.

When you’re in your seventies or eighties, that is a tad of a brisk morning to be up and about, out on the road in the dark, and headed out to eat at six a.m. or so. Some brave souls did make it to the Country Café.

It was here that the OFs who were not bike riders learned that it was “supposed” to be a ritual that real bike riders take the machines out and go for a ride on New Year’s Day. With the riders who are members of the OMOTM, that did not happen; apparently a ride down the driveway does not count.

However, one rider did say cold weather did not bother him because the suit is heated, the gloves are heated, the grips are heated, and maybe the seats and the air is even heated, so the rider is pretty comfy until it comes time to stop.

 

Then and now

Quite often the OMOTM discuss “then and now.” Remember when people had diaries and got mad when someone read them? Now they put everything online and get mad when people don’t.

This is something all the OFs can relate to—what things were like 60, and in some cases, 70 years ago. These discussions would fill a book but in today’s age (age here is a very short time back and the “then and now” seems to be out of whack) technology is one “now” the OFs shrug their shoulders on.

Pricing is one thing they can’t wave away because most are on fixed incomes and the OFs aren’t happy about inflation “now.” What cost 50 cents in 1933, now costs about 11 dollars for the same thing. The “now” is way too close to the “then.”

It is not only technology and money; it is so much more. We are older and healthier “now,” one OF said, although it doesn’t seem to be that way, but to him it appears that way.

This was brought out in the midst of a pandemic, and that had the conversation take a turn right in the middle of “then and now,” yet not lose the main topic.

Keeping with the thought mechanism of these guys and jotting down notes is a trick. The OFs thought this particular OF may be right, then they threw in how much bigger everyone seems to be, and one OF thought it may be we (the OFs) are shrinking.

One OF mentioned getting from here to there; today this OF said he thinks nothing of having lunch with friends a hundred miles away, spending some time with them, and heading home when it isn’t even dark yet.

“Yeah,” one OF commented, “we think nothing of heading for Brooks (in Oneonta) to have chicken or ribs, and having the doggie bag for supper when we get home.”

That is not a “then” thing.

How about white teeth? Does anyone remember flashing white teeth like we do now?

The OFs say there is much good in “now,” compared to “then,” but there is not as much fun in “now” and life is much more hectic. It would be great if we could take the best of “then,” and combine it with the best of “now,” but the OFs are afraid that is not going to happen.

Keeping up with all this was the way of communicating “then and now,” and what this one OF thought was in the works (if he understood it right) is an invisible phone. Apparently, pretty soon (and how true this is, the OFs don’t know) no one will have to carry a phone around, or have the physical equipment of a TV.

All anyone would need is their password, or maybe an assigned code number. All anyone would have to do is verbalize a code number and the phone would appear in mid-air. The OF would just talk to this invisible phone; speak to whoever he wants to talk to, using their code number and he or she would answer. All calls would be made without a physical object. Say what!

Taking trips now with a carload of kids is not the same. One OF said all they seem to do is play with their games on their $500 phones. An OF said his grandkids get to watch TV in the back seat.

This OF said his son has a car with TVs in it, not just one but two TVs. The kids can put a movie or a game on and they are fine.

The OF said there is not a peep out of them, though they might be going through the most beautiful part of the country, or something interesting is going on outside and these kids will never know it.

One OF said this has been said over and over with today’s technology and the youth growing up today. Who do you think is inventing the invisible phones? If we were their ages and in this time, the OFs would be doing the same thing.

Another OF chimed in by saying, “That is true.” This OF said he was no different, only in his time he had to keep yelling at his kids to get their heads out of the comic books. No different.     

Those OMOTM who braved the cold, and not one of the hunkerers who made it to the Country Café came without having to read the comic books (however, the comics are the best part of the paper) were: Miner Stevens, Roger Shafer, Paul Nelson, Jake Herzog, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Elwood Vanderbilt, Dave Hodgetts, Bob Donnelly, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Herb Bahrmann, and me.

On Dec. 28, the last Tuesday of the year 2021, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown. The year 2021 is finally going down the tubes and for many it is good riddance.

Some OFs think it is not many, but most, that join the good riddance club. The OMOTM are getting tired of wearing masks, but it looks like 2022 is starting out the same way.

This scribe is also getting tired of putting words to the computer screen about the same topic every week. Lets get rid of this for good and then the OMOTM can have some good ole OF shenanigans.

Topic number two is always the weather. It is too hot, too cold, and too dark, too wet, too icy, too much snow, too violent, too this or that, but no matter what “too” it is the OMOTM are always at the proper restaurant, and the restaurant is open.

This time of year, it is the jolly season. Youngsters and oldsters do goofy things, and dress in ugly sweaters, which are in vogue this season.

Tuesday morning, an OF showed up wearing green suspenders that were flashing with green lights. These suspenders were actually holding up his britches so, no matter the comments, the OF was stuck wearing them or his pants would fall down.

It is also a time for not only the OFs, but the elderly in general, and even the youngsters, to be darn careful. One OF went out to perform a routine operation that the OF has been doing for years.

That is, going to the wood pile, getting wood, and stoking the outside wood furnace, only this time the back porch was covered with a skim of black ice and was slicker than slick and the OF took a header down the stairs, and header means head first, and so the OF wound up in the hospital.

Thank goodness the OF is OK, nothing broken just cut and bruised, and at his age a ton of hurts.

One OF mentioned that this OF thinks, no matter what age anyone is, and male or female (it makes no difference), falling is a surprise and there is nothing that can be done about it.

“It’s just like throwing a gutter ball,” the OF said. “It is not possible to get it back and do a do-over.” The OF muttered, all anyone can do is say to themselves (or out loud for that matter): “Oh dear, here I go!”

 

Collisions with raindrops and deer

This scribe tries to park his bottom where he can see the OFs as they come into the restaurant and note their names in a little notebook. This is very important because the scribe has received inquiries from the distaff side about the attendance of a particular OF at the breakfast.

This allows the scribe to notice some of the attire of the OFs, which is basically very normal. However, this scribe noticed almost every OF wears a hat or cap.

This is a very good habit to get into to keep the sun off the head, but the OFs who have gone bald, or have very thin hair, wear a hat just to protect the noggin.

The bald OFs can attest to what it is like to not have a head of hair and get hit on the head by just one raindrop. To most, it is like getting hit on the head with a two by four.

The OFs feel it is safe to assume that a raindrop that has fallen from thousands of feet up has reached the maximum velocity of a falling object, which is roughly 120 miles per hour, more or less.

One OF had the recent unfortunate experience to collide with a deer at a normal highway speed. The OF said there was no such thing as a reaction time because the deer and vehicle collided at the same time the deer was seen, which the OF said was about 50 miles per hour.

“The deer,” the OF said, “went up and over the vehicle and met its demise with the impact.”

The amazing thing is how little damage there appears on the vehicle — some damage, but not much.

“However,” the OF continued, “to repair the damage was substantial.”

Then the conversation quickly jumped to the price of paint, if you can even find any to purchase. The OF mentioned it is not the car parts that might be needed (these are just about what the OF expected) but it is the paint, and painting the vehicle the way it was intended to look.

This started a lot of talk among the OMOTM about hitting deer, or having deer hit the car, or truck. After hearing about all the deer that have been hit, it seems the OFs do better with a car than they do with a gun. It also appears to have kept a lot of body shops busy.

One OF told of not hitting three deer but stopping in plenty of time to let them cross in front of the car, only there was a fourth one that the OF did not see but the OF had already re-started the car.

The OF’s wife said to him, “There is another one,” so the OF stopped again and the deer proceeded across the road right in front of the car.

When the deer reached the rider’s side of the car, it stopped and deliberately kicked the car, putting a nice four-inch hole in the grill, and then casually sauntered up the bank on the other side of the road.

The Old Men of the Mountain who made it to the Chuck Wagon in Princetown and did not have contact with a deer or any other creature were: Rich LaGrange, Robie Osterman, Bill Lichliter, Paul Whitbeck, Jake Herzog, Elwood Vanderbilt, Rich Vanderbilt, Allen Defazzo, Dave Hodgetts, Bob Donnelly, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Herb Bahrmann, and me.

The Old Men of the Mountain traveled to the Your Way Café in Schoharie for their early morning wake-up repast. This scribe is in trouble because this scribe missed his Monday morning duty of not calling the café.

This scribe was in the Albany Regional Eye Surgery Center in Latham Monday. This is really no excuse because there was the afternoon beforehand when a call could have been made, and the scribe did not feel that bad, but was still not thinking of restaurants at the time.

This meant the OMOTM started coming in and the restaurant did not know about it. Next time around this scribe may not be allowed to go to the breakfast at the Your Way Café.

The OFs had a discussion on wallets. Something so simple and used many times a day can be so different. Some OFs carry their wallet in the front pocket; some in the back.

Some wallets are one-and-a-half inches thick and have the OFs whole life history in there, while some are wafer thin. Thick or thin wallets, this scribe found out, have no relation to how affluent, or broke, the OF is.

Some thin wallets have a thousand dollars in them, and a one- pound fat one has a couple of bucks in it for gas, or cab fare, and the reality is it could be vice versa. However, once an OF finds a comfortable wallet, that piece of leather can be as old as the OF. Almost all the OFs agree it is hard to work out of a new wallet.

The thickness of many wallets is brought on by the OF’s family. He has photos in there of everyone and, when a new good photo comes along, in it goes, but the old one of the same person does not come out.

This scribe’s wife says the pant’s pockets are like a woman’s purse, and that the scribe has to chinch his belt very tight to keep his pants from falling down. She says that one of her biggest fears is that the scribe will be walking along in public and his pants will fall down from all the weight he carries around in his pocket (and his wallet is part of that) and it tain’t money that adds to the weight in this OF’s wallet, Magee.

 

Dogs as family

There was at this breakfast a discussion on dogs. Occasionally talks about dogs come up, most of the time as side lines.

This discussion was about guys (it could be anybody but this was guys; we are, you know, the OMOTM) and dogs the OFs have had for sometime. Apparently these animals have gone beyond pets and are part of the family.

These canines are to the point that the animal can almost talk, or the OF can understand dog-speak.

One OF mentioned that his dog brings the leash to him when it is time for them to go for a walk. Another OF said that is not so unusual, it is a bowel thing: The dog can’t hold it any longer and wants to go out.

The OFs think there is one OF who has taught his dogs to drive because, whenever you see this OF going down the road, it is the dog’s head that is seen on the driver’s side. The OF is not visible.

One OF said his family had a great Dane that they trained to open the back door. The dog was big enough that all the animal had to do is rest its paw on the door handle and open the door. It was even trained that coming in he would shut the door, but try as they might, they could not teach that dog to pull the door shut on the way out.

Another OF wondered where we would be without our pets, no matter what they are — cat, dog, bird, lizard, fish, horse, cow, pig — it makes no difference.

 

 

    And now for something completely different, but appropriate, a little poem sent to me via the internet. The poem cleverly titled:

A Little Poem for Seniors, So True it Hurts

       Another year has passed

       And we’re all a little older.

       Last summer felt hotter

       And winter feels much colder.

       There was a time not long ago

       When life was quite a blast.

       Now I fully understand

       About living in the past.

       We used to go to weddings,

       Football games and lunches.

       Now we go to funeral homes

       And after-funeral brunches.

       We used to go out dining,

       And couldn’t get our fill,

       Now we ask for doggie bags,

       Come home and take a pill.

       We used to often travel

       To places near and far.

       Now we get sore butts

       From riding in the car.

       We used to go to nightclubs

       And drink a little booze.

       Now we stay home at night

       And watch the evening news.

       That, my friend, is how life is,

       And now my tale is told.

       So, enjoy each day and live it up…

       Before you’re too damned old!

Happy New Year!

    Those who made it to the Your Way Café and, though the restaurant was not informed made, out OK were: Robie Osterman, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Jake Herzog, Marty Herzog, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Herb Bahrmann, Bob Donnelly, Dave Hodgetts, Allen Defazzo, Paul Nelson, Rich LaGrange, and not me.

On Dec. 14, the Old Men of the Mountain had their Christmas Party at Mrs. K’s in Middleburgh, and with the spread Patty puts out it is not necessary to order breakfast, but the OMOTM do.

The party includes live music but no Santa Claus. The OMOTM have played that character for so many years they know the role all too well.

This scribe is going to let the readers in on how the scribe obtains the information from which this report emanates. This scribe does not even pretend to collect information like a real reporter. In fact, the notes are rather skimpy, and, if ever found with no explanation, would make no sense at all. And at times some of it makes no sense to this scribe either.

Take, for example, Tuesday, the 14th notes, which are: Flipping eggs, cooking, pricing, how to swear, deliveries, masks, haying & animals, snake, hawks, deer, wallets, dogs, spread, Covid, S.S., musk, woody, planes, cars, and repair.

That’s it, no explanations — just notes. When doing the report, many other conversations come to mind for which notes were not taken but are interjected into the report anyway, along with a big dose of imagination, so here goes the column.

 

Bucket list

Somehow the question was asked about the “bucket list.” Not many even had a bucket list, but one OF had some things he would like to learn.

One of his fixations was how to flip eggs in a frying pan (or just food) like they do in restaurants or the show-offs on TV do. He would even like to learn how to flip a decent pancake, or even make pancakes like they create in a restaurant like the Country Café.

Those pancakes are as big as hub caps, and hang over the side of the plate. How do they do that? This OF wanted to know, not just know, but know how to flip them himself. The OF maintained his life would be complete if he were able to conquer this feat.

Another OF mentioned a relative of his that was a cook in the military and could crack four eggs at a time and not break a yoke, and when asked how he could do that the reply was, “You learn fast when cooking for 200 hungry guys who have just woken up.”

 

Price-gouging?

Oh, between this discussion and the one coming up, the OFs discussed pricing, and this scribe thinks most of us have seen the price of almost everything going up and being blamed on many things such as supply, workers, COVID, and whatever else, but many think there is a tad of gouging going on here because the prices are jumping not by 6 percent but 100 percent and then some.

 

Cuss words

The next topic was picking up swearing or learning to swear. This OF did not hear bad language at home but came in contact with this type of verbiage out behind the barn.

There is swearing and there is really swearing; the interjection of a cuss word at the appropriate time can be quite effective. To use foul language on a routine basis is just plain dumb.

 

Baling more than hay

Haying, as most know, is one of the basic jobs in farming, and there are some who still think brown milk comes from brown cows and have no idea how much work is involved in getting food to the table.

Haying today is a little different than haying in the past when the hay was cut, dried, and stored in shocks. The scythe is basically long gone.

When cutting and baling hay today there is one side effect that is hard to avoid. This side effect happens sometimes with animals that nest or give birth in the grass and they are not seen, and wind up going through the baler.

One OF mentioned that, while baling this year, he had baled up three fawns and this was unavoidable, but sad.

Another OF mentioned that many small critters have wound up in bales. Rabbits, mice by the dozen, snakes, young woodchucks, and birds came to mind.

One OF mentioned an experience that happened where the critter might better have gone through the baler than what eventually happened. The OF said that, right in front of the pickup of the baler, there was a snake, and the OF, of course, did not know it was there but a hawk did.

The OF said the hawk swooped right down in front of the baler and grabbed the snake and took it off to a tree in the hedgerow and began to eat it right then and there. Nature in full bloom.

This brought to mind another OF’s story about baling up critters. On this OF’s farm, they had a Case baier where it was necessary for two people to ride on the baler. One poked the wires through the hay and the one on the other side twisted the wire to bind up the bales.

This farmer had a young girl who lived not too far up the road come down to help on occasion. On one particular hot day, she was helping with the baling and was doing the twisting while the OF was pushing the wires through.

Suddenly this young lady started screaming, jumped off the baler and went running to the hedgerow, screaming her head off. The OF’s dad thought she was really hurt, stopped the tractor, and went running after the girl to see what was going on while the OF got off and ran around the back of the baler to go and help.

The OF said he then saw the problem. They had baled up a pretty good-sized snake that was protruding about six inches out of the bale, twisting back and forth, split tongue darting in and out, and right in the young girl’s face.

No wonder there was panic time. A hissing snake two inches from your nose would panic anybody. This is an incident that causes nightmares.  Ah, farming ….

Those Old Men of the Mountain who were sure to make this breakfast at Mrs. K’s restaurant in Middleburgh were: Harold Guest, Glenn Patterson, Joe Rack, Roger Shafer, Rich LaGrange, Wally Guest, Paul Nelson, Mark Traver, Ken Parks, Otis Lawyer, Ted Feurer, Jake Lederman, Jake Herzog, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Lou Schenk, Jack Norray, Herb Bahrmann, Rev. Jay Francis, Bob Donnelly, Dave Hodgetts, Allen Defazzo, John Dabrvalskes, and me.

On Pearl Harbor day, Dec. 7, the Old Men of the Mountain met at Mrs. K’s restaurant in Middleburgh. Some of the OMOTM remember the day that would go down in “infamy.” This was the war to end all wars. The OMOTM said, “Yeah right!” to that one.

To the OFs, it seems like the world has been at war forever. The museums around the world are filled with war records, and war machines, from stones to trebuchets, to horses, and to tanks. Even the oceans could not escape the horror of war machines, from canoes to battleships. The OFs seem to have been involved in one way or another with all of these, even the stones.

The end times are predicted to end with the battle of Armageddon. One OF complained that he is at war all the time. The reason for this battle is, as the OF put it, “crappy wife.” Considering the source, one OF said, no wonder the wife is crappy — she has a right to be. See how easy it is to start a war.

The OFs talked about some of the other OFs who are missing because they are under the weather and the condition of how they are progressing with their recoveries. Those who knew said that, as far as the news of each one in this situation, the recoveries are coming along nicely, or as best as can be under present circumstances.

One OF said with all this COVID business, the hospital, or doctor’s office is not the place to be.

Another OF reported that one of his doctors (“One?” The medical profession is becoming so specialized that an individual has a group of doctors to take care of the OF) said that the hospital is no place to be; the doctor said he knew that because he works there.

 

What’s next?

The OFs discussed downsizing, leaving the home, and moving to senior housing or apartments, and how that is not an easy decision to make. One OF said that, to him, an apartment is not a home. To him, apartments are more like fancy hotel rooms.

But another OF said there comes a time when the body says this is the way to go.

Still another OF commented, “What do you think we had all those kids for? Those offspring cost a lot of money to bring up. We are going to move in with them and let them pay for us now.”

“Not me,” another replied, “Our kids were a ton of fun and we do not in any way want to be a burden to them. That is why we try to stay active and maintain our health.”

“Well you’re going to die from something, there is not a switch up our butt that we can just turn off when our life is over.”

“Nope,” the OF said, “But we can die in our sleep; that is the way we want to go.”

Of course, there is always one in the crowd and this one OF piped up, “He wants to be shot by a 30-year-old jealous lover.”

An OF jumped in on this one with a very true observation, “You OG! If a 30-year-old lover came in to shoot you, you would already be dead because you, you OF, you couldn’t handle a 30-year-old. It would kill you. That lover could save his bullet.”

This scribe thought, give me a break! Thank goodness the OFs went on to something else.

Well, the OFs did go to something else and this “something else” was what happens to your stuff when the OF kicks the bucket. The discussion with some of the OFs took on wills and irrevocable trusts.

The first thing one OF said is, “It is really necessary to know you can rely on the members of the trust to handle your affairs when you pass on. One rotten egg can spoil the whole thing.”

This OF said it was a good idea to have whoever draws up the trust be an elder law attorney, someone who knows the ins and outs of what is required when members of the trust are no longer here.

Another topic (thank goodness) that did not come up then but was darn close, was about what happens when we die and then where are we when we do? Whew.

 

Electric craze

The OFs discussed pricing again, and probably will discuss it again next week. The price of most everything is getting out of hand.

Gas, some of the OFs could understand. The OFs think the companies that manufacture petroleum are getting the prices up there so the OFs get used to it and are willing to pay the enormous high prices, so the petroleum companies can prepare for electric this and that.

The OFs think they will be able to sell fewer gallons and still make the same bucks.

The OFs want to know if this electric craze is the way to go. One OF thought there was more material in a battery than in an engine.

Then another OF said we can fix an engine to run for years but, when a battery is done, it is done, as far as he knows. Then one OF suggested it is possible to get an internal combustion engine to run on anything.

Willie Nelson has his buses run on grease from the kitchen. That ain’t so bad to have engines smell like bacon cooking when they are running.

One OF thought the way to go is magnetism, to which another OF told the first OF that he would have to improve his reading and get out of the comic-book section. But the OF reading comic books might have a point — think of Buck Rogers and Dick Tracy.

Those Old men of the Mountain who made it to Mrs. K’s in Middleburgh in their magnetic vehicles and stuck them on the parking meters were: Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Roger Shafer, Paul Nelson, Rich LaGrange, Jake Lederman, Ted Feurer, John Muller, Ed Goff, Paul Whitbeck, Ken Parks, Bill Lichliter, Robbie Osterman, George Washburn, Jake Herzog, Elwood Vanderbilt, Dave Hodgetts, Bob Donnelly, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Rev. Jay Francis, and me.

At the end of November, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown. When the OMOTM first went to the Chuck Wagon, there was not much activity in Princetown. Now there are quite a few businesses in that area along Route 7, most on the north side of the road.

Time is such a strange thing; it is all relative to what’s going on and, with the OFs, it can be a lot or nothing at all. In the relatively short time the OFs have been going to the Chuck Wagon, there have been many changes made in the area of Princetown.

All that is a lead-in to one of the conversations the OFs had at breakfast. This was: “What is old when it is relative to people.”

The OFs have discussed this before but this time the OFs are older, at least in the group discussing age, and the OFs in that group are older, but don’t know it.

Some of the plans talked about were pretty grandiose and this scribe does not think these plans they are making are going to happen just because of the ages of those in the group talking. It’s good that the OFs make plans for the future as if their bodies don’t ache and some have trouble walking.

An old adage that has been bantered around the OMOTM since day one is that the mind says one thing, and the body says another. One OF said he would rather have it that way than the other way around.

To go along with the age discussion, the OFs continued with items that make them feel old. Some items are the internet, smart phones, and vehicles that drive themselves, but most of all is the news that the OFs’ kids are retiring.

That is enough for the OFs to say they are not only out of the loop, but can’t even find the beginning knot.

One OF said even the habit of smoking when he was young was the thing to do; in the military, cigarettes were given to the guys to help calm them down.

Another OF said, “Like that was going to help.”

So much has gone on since the OFs were young but none really makes them feel old as when their kids start to retire, most at age 65. One OF commented that his kids are old enough to come to the OMOTM’s breakfasts.

Another OF offered that he thought he would never be this old. He thought that he would be pushing daisies years ago, and here he is still picking them.

One OF said that years ago DDT was going to kill us off, then it was the nuclear age and radiation going to do us all in; now it is climate change and pollution that is going to drive us all to the grave. What will it be next, an asteroid smashing into the planet and we will all go the way of the dinosaurs?

What the heck? For some reason, the OFs are still here.

 

Travel for some, not for others

Travel was another topic that fit in with getting old. The OFs discussed trips they plan on taking, but one OF said the trips are not like they used to be. The OF said he can’t get out and explore like he used to, or ride a bike.

See above: The body says no, the mind says let’s go.

“Nope, not going to happen,” the OF said, but to him it is nice to go someplace even if he just has to hang around and not do much exciting. Getting to meet different people, and away from the old homestead for a little while helps his mental and physical well-being a lot.

Some of the OFs have places to go to every year and they make plans in advance to continue going to wherever. Some say they plan to go to a different place every now and then, but all of them right now use commercial transportation; the days of driving themselves are gone, but they still like getting away.

From the internet comes an analogy of cars and OFs.  If my body were a car, I would be trading it in for a newer model. I’ve got bumps, dents, scratches, and my headlights are out of focus. My gearbox is seizing up and it takes me hours to reach maximum speed. I overheat for no reason and every time I sneeze, cough, or laugh my radiator leaks or my exhaust backfires!

This is from one group of the OFs. There are other groups that are still young enough to go on hikes, take out their boats, fly their planes, go bowling, travel, and take walking tours.

Some of the OFs look at these OFs with a little envy in their eyes. The OFs with walkers and canes listen to the reports and stories the other OFs bring back from their traveling experiences and secretly wish they could tag along and do the same things.

The hunters, hikers, and the outdoor OFs report that many animals, once they have established their territory, return to it no matter what. The OFs said taking beavers and bears from the territory the animal has singled out for his or her space is not too good an idea because eventually the animal will find its way back.

Birds are particularly good at this, and one OF said even snakes have homing instincts. This OF says he knows because the OF caught a snake around the house, marked it and carried it two miles away to let it go. In three days, it was back, trying to go under the same steps as it was when the OF caught it.

The OFs young and old who made it to the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown were: Miner Stevens, Paul Nelson, Rich LaGrange, Jake Herzog, Roger Shafer, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Jake Lederman, Bill Lichliter, Robie Osterman, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Joe Rack, Russ Pokorny, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Herb Bahrmann, Mike Bahrmann, John Dabrvalskes, and me.

Tuesday, Nov. 23, The Old Men of the Mountain traveled to Schoharie again to have breakfast at the Country Café in that town. One OF commented on how it seems odd that a fried egg is a fried egg; there is not much that can be done with that.

“However,” the OF said, “The same fried egg seems to be different at each restaurant and also different at home.”

Another OF picked up on this and said that he is the first one up in the morning and makes his own breakfast. Generally it is very simple and most of the time he makes fried eggs over easy, and each time they seem to come out different, and taste different.

Why is that? The OFs’ replies were just a bunch of “duhs.”

“Maybe,” one OF ventured, “it is because all the eggs don’t come from the same chicken.”

 

Auction adventure

One OF regaled the table with a trip he made to the auction barn in Unadilla and what the experience was like. Apparently, to the OF and his wife, it turned into an experience, akin to an adventure.

The Unadilla auction barn holds livestock auctions every Wednesday and they also have monthly horse and tack auctions. The tack auction was what the OF described to us.

According to this OF, he and his wife remained until 1 a.m. when the auction was finished. The OF said there were very few people left at that time, but in the morning until early evening the place was packed.   

The OF reported that tack was (for the most part) going quite cheap. It’s hard to tell how dried-out the leather is just by holding it up, unless, like the OF noted, the ones buying this tack were there during the viewing, but even then it is still iffy.

The OF also said there was one guy there (right up front) purchasing all the saddles no matter the condition. The OF thought that he might be taking them out West, or maybe he had a store, or for some other reason, because the OF said the guy even bought beat-up little pony saddles.

The report could go on but we will stop here with the last item he mentioned.

It seems this last item brought out was a big old draft horse, with one hind leg bigger than the other, and with only a handful of people left to bid on the poor animal, no one did. This scribe guesses they could save the horse for next month’s auction and bring it out first.

Actually, that may not be too good an idea because it might set the tone for the rest of the auction.

 

Vehicle evolution

The Old Men of the Mountain always thought they could take a lot and were tough guys. Not tough like “my dad can beat your dad” type tough, but could take cold weather, and work hard on hard jobs.

The OFs can remember when they were younger, driving old cars and trucks that were a little on the beat side.

Back in the good old days, money was scarce and it was necessary to purchase what the OF could afford and at the time it wasn’t much. Their vehicles might be wanting for condition, and a few holes in the floorboards were not uncommon. In the winter time, the snow and ice that made it past the muffler would blow through the holes right into the vehicle.

The OFs toughed it out — at least they had wheels.

Today you should hear them talk about their new trucks with the heated steering wheels, seats, and some with heated lumbar supports. These vehicles are even started from inside the house on a cold winter’s day. The discussion was on who had the most of the most.

One OF put it together quite nicely. The OF said, “I never thought I would be a wuss and now I am one.”

Another OF said he was in the same boat, and was out-wussing him, and he droned on about his new truck.

Now another OF piped up and threw out the ole monkey wrench, “What if something goes wrong and all the electronics go out, how are you guys going to stop or steer those fancy vehicles?”

This all may be covered some way but the OFs did not have a ready answer except that we are not just a group of shallow wusses. So there!

With all the electric this and electric that, everyone will be getting into their electric cars and suddenly find 20 cars with owners who will be shopping at Kohl’s and they all need to charge their batteries.

This OF understands that charging a battery is not like filling a gas tank, which takes just a few minutes.

One OF said, “Who goes first if there are only four or five charging stations, and there is a car at each one, and the owners are charging the vehicles while they are shopping in the store?”

Houston, we have a problem.  

Another OF offered, “By the time we get to this point, we will either all be dead or at least over 115 years old. I doubt if this group of OFs has to worry about it.”

 

Condolences

The Old Men of the Mountain would like to offer our condolences to the family of Henry Witt Jr. who recently passed away at the age of 91.

In that vein, the service for Bill Bartholomew will be held at the Coltrain Funeral Home in Middleburgh on Saturday, Dec. 4, from 10:30 a.m. until noon with interment at the family plot in Breakabeen.

 

Present

The Old Men of the Mountain who made it to the Country Café in Schoharie were: Miner Stevens, Harold Guest, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Roger Shafer, Wally Guest, Rich LaGrange, Russ Pokorny, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Robie Osterman, Jake Herzog, Bob Donnelly, Dave Hodgetts, Jamie Darrah, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Herb Bahrmann, John Dabrvalskes, and me.

This column with its report on the Old Men of the Mountain starts out like many conversations — with the weather. To keep up that tradition, today’s column will be no different.

Tuesday, Nov. 16, many of the OMOTM approached the Your Way Café, in Schoharie, looking at the cliffs at the end of Route 443 where it meets Route 30. Many of the OFs who arrived at the café around the same time commented on how beautiful the sunrise was with sunlight on top and dark shadows on the bottom.

The sun came up red in the beginning and then quickly changed to orange-red, and then just orange as the light crept down the mountain. This scribe told a couple of OFs as they entered the Your Way, “If I ever painted it like it was at first light no one would believe it.” The OFs agreed.

Once inside, the OFs were offering their normal greetings as other OFs filed in. Some of the conversation was discussion of the man and family of Bill Barthelomew who recently passed away, and that segued to inquiries of OFs who were in the hospital, or had just left and were home.

The OFs were genuinely concerned on how they were doing and anxious for their return to the breakfasts.

How that turned into a discussion of how much those pesky little fruit flies were this year, I will never understand. However, it seems all the OMOTM had problems with these little pests this summer.

Some used apple cider and vinegar to trap the little buggers, while others had their own remedies — some worked and some didn’t. One OF said that hanging a banana skin by the end where it was cut from the tree calls the fruit fly.

They are fruit flies after all. But then — what now? You have them in a bunch. How do you actually get rid of them? That was not mentioned. Every now and then, spray them with fly spray the OFs guessed.

One OF mentioned he purchased a sticky trap (trade name Dynatrap) that comes with 3-by-4 cards that are sticky on one side. This OF said that thing really works

You plug it in, a blue light comes on, and the light attracts the flies and soon they are trapped on the sticky card. One thing the OF said was that the card catches more than fruit flies.

It grabs regular flies and the occasional moth. This trap is chemical-free, and effective. When the card is no longer catching the pests, chuck it out and put in a new one.

 

Schoharie’s Nashville

The OFs talked about the park outside of Schoharie up on the hill where in the forties and fifties, and maybe even later, the good ole country boys would go with their banjos, guitars, fiddles, harmonicas, moonshine, beer, and some light bulbs and on Saturday night Nashville was no equal.

It was good ole country music by the good ole country boys, and all that could boogie danced the night away. At times, a fight or two would break out, and no one really knew the reason.

When the participants settled the disagreement, they would be back on the dance pavilion’s dance floor, dancing with the same ones they were just fighting with. Occasionally someone (who knew how to call) would form up squares for dancing and away they went.

These squares may have gotten rowdy at times, but all in fun. The OFs did not know if this type of amusement still goes on or not.

 

Way to go

Now to something completely different and, again, how it got started this scribe does not know, but it seemed to have started with the new higher toilets. Age creeps into a lot of things and now the OFs know it’s creeping up because it affects how they go to the bathroom.

It used to be that older people had problems getting up and out of chairs including getting off the john.

Then someone invented a riser and attached it to the toilet so it would elevate that older person. Apparently the plumbing industry saw the need and started building the higher toilets, and the contractors started installing grab bars so the older people could help themselves get off the john.

The OFs said, now that they own these higher toilets at home, when using the older-style lower toilets still found in public restrooms, they feel like they are sitting in a hole and do have trouble getting up, and they actually look around for grab bars.

Then one OF said that sitting on these higher toilets is “not the way to go.” This OF said your knees are supposed to be up and your back straight so everything is lined up and then it is not necessary to strain, especially if you have heart trouble.

The OF said the best thing to do is use the high commode with a stool so your knees are high. When it is time to get up, kick the stool out of the way and stand up. This OF said he still uses grab bars high or low.

This dialog on age reminded me that age is a relative term. All my relations keep reminding me how old I am.

The discussion went from the height of the john, to snow tires in one fell swoop. It was just necessary to be there and these Old Men of the Mountain were there: Joe Rack, Roger Shafer, Otis Lawyer, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Miner Stevens, Bill Lichliter, Robie Osterman, Rich LaGrange, Marty Herzog, Jake Herzog, Paul Nelson, Henry Whipple, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Bob Donnelly, Dave Hodgetts, Herb Bahrmann, and me.

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