On Tuesday, Feb. 22, in the year of our Lord (A.D.) 2022, written as 2/22/22 (which is almost as bad as being bombarded with 444-4444) the Old Men of the Mountain met at Mrs. K’s in Middleburgh. Not only is the date unusual, but an OF mentioned, even with the warm weather, he claimed it was fake, and the rodent in Pennsylvania was correct, we are going to have six more weeks of winter.

The Old Men of the Mountain rotation is out of whack so the idea the OFs were here, and next week we are there, is going to take just one weird go-around to get things back in order. This is going to be fun, but spreading the wealth is what it is all about. Some of the OFs said, if we are spreading wealth, spread some our way because we could use it.

One thing about the Old Men of the Mountain is, if anyone has a ton of money, these OFs are hiding it very well. The OF who did flaunt a bit passed away a long time ago.

This OF plied the old trick of taking a couple of twenties and placing one on each end of a stack on singles, folding it, then holding it together with a rubber band. The wad now looked like it was a grand, but in reality it was only about fifty or sixty bucks — if that. Ya gotta watch these old goats.

There was some conversation about the Middleburgh Rod and Gun Club and how active it is. Not only active, but continually gaining the number of members they now have.

The club reportedly works with the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts, teaching them about archery. Plus they are working with many kids about hunting and gun safety. Where could one go to get the best instruction on these subjects better than a rod and gun club?

As usual, around this time of year, the OFs talked about what birds they have been seeing. We have reported on this many times before.

We have reported that robins don’t count because some never leave as long as there is a nice patch of staghorn sumac around to winter them over. The typical birds, like the red-winged blackbird, have shown up so the early birds will be surprised by the current weather as if they haven’t been surprised by lousy weather in the past.

One OF said he has a friend who has a parrot and the bird escaped (or maybe just wanted a little adventure in its life) a couple of weeks ago. The OF said his friend thought it was gone, for a few reasons.

The friend thought someone might have picked up the parrot, or the parrot might have frozen to death, or the parrot might have had enough sense to continue to fly south. For any reason though, the friend thought the parrot was gone.

Ah! But it wasn’t!

A couple of days later, it showed up on top of the dog house. The OF said the friend left the back doors open and put some food in its cage, brought that cage by the back door, and in a couple of hours the parrot flew into the cage and started eating like it never left. Like at the beginning — the bird just wanted a little adventure.


Where is the younger crowd?

It is winter time and there is still maintenance being done by the OFs who have an interest in the Long Path. The path does see some activity in the winter, but not as much as the summer.

Snowshoers use a small portion of the path where it traverses through Thacher Park during the winter months. Hmmm. When else do people snowshoe than in the winter months?

At one time, there were a few OMOTMs who did work on the path, but these OFs are getting older and they mentioned that they do not see many younger people stepping up to take their place.

This seems to be true in many organizations. Many churches have noticed their congregations consist mostly of white hair (or no hair) individuals.

One OF thought that the younger crowd is attending more active, and modern churches; this same OF thought that volunteerism is still at work in younger people but it seems to take a different direction; however, the OF could not quite put his finger on it.

Another OF mentioned that the kids of today are the same as when the OFs were kids. Today’s kids are no different. It is us, we are old and out of the loop, just like we thought our parents were. We are now our parents.

This scribe received a card from his grandson. It was more or less a proclamation of “The Ancient Order of Ye Olde Farts.” This card stated:

“Let it be known to all that you have reached the age of eligibility and have been accepted in the ‘Ancient Order of Ye Olde Farts.’ Belching, groaning, wheezing, and snorting are bodily noises you are now allowed to emit without guilt. In addition, you may now pass gas, let a windy, cut the cheese, or just plain fart in public without the need to apologize.”

Witnessed this 22nd day of  February 2022 by the following in attendance at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh, New York were: Joe Rack, Mark Traver, Paul Nelson, Rick LaGrange, Harold Guest, Wally Guest, Glenn Patterson, Jake Lederman, Ted Feurer, Roger Shafer, Russ Pokorny, Jake Herzog, Bill Lichliter, Robie Osterman, Elwood Vanderbilt, Rich Vanderbilt, Dave Hodgetts, Bob Donnelly, John Dabrvalskes, and me.

On Tuesday, Feb. 15, the day after Valentine’s Day (did you remember?), the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Country Café on Main Street in Schoharie. Again it was chilly; the weather was described by some of the OFs as a yo-yo.

Some of the OFs remember playing with this kids’ toy and a few became really good at it. Think back to the Smothers Brothers. The brother that played the guitar (not the one that played the bass) was a whiz at playing with a yo-yo. “Walk the Dog,” “Around the World,” and “In the Cradle” were some of the yo-yo tricky maneuvers.


Beards hide wrinkles

A good while back, the OMOTM talked about shaving and the problems lines in the face caused. Well, about 10 years has passed and these lines on the older OFs are now canyons, with deep, cragged cliffs that have to be shaved.

The OFs cannot drop their jaws far enough now to straighten out these riffs, so they complain about having to push on the razor harder to get at the whiskers hiding deep in the valleys. One OF mentioned that, if he doesn’t get those whiskers out of there, it accentuates the lines and it looks like snow where the whiskers are gray and, where it isn’t gray, the crags look deeper.

The younger OFs are not at this point yet but sooner than they think, they, of course, will be. One of the younger ones said that will be the time when he grows a beard. The OF even brought up the hypothesis of why many OFs have beards. That reasoning being it’s just to hide the wrinkles.

Another OF said it isn’t only the OFs who have beards now, most of the young men seem to be sprouting facial hair growth.

One OF said he can remember when lines around the eyes and down the face showed character, and were considered classy and made a man look sexy. Another OF said, to him, guys with beards seem to be peering out from behind a dead bush; he would rather see lines any day.

Then the conversation segued to the subject of age spots, moles, hang tags, and little red blood dots. All the OFs now look like they are checkerboards or dart boards.

A long role in the aches and pains and the scars department and now, my goodness, the Old OFs look like road maps as well. The aches and pains just go with the territory and the column has mentioned those before. But, for some reason on Tuesday morning, it was all lumped together: lumps and bumps, aches and pains, lines and scars. The creature from the black lagoon is beginning to look better than the OFs.

This was prompted by the OFs wearing beards for the town of Knox, which is getting ready for a bicentennial celebration that will be ongoing throughout the year, but the main events will basically be held during this summer. There is a best-beard contest for those in the town that should be fun.

Another thing about beards, which was mentioned, was that beards can be trimmed and faces with the beards do not have to shave. So digging out whiskers in the valleys and caverns of the older OFs face is not necessary.


Old pets mirror OFs’ ailments

Many times, OFs have old pets, i.e., cats and dogs especially. This scribe doesn’t know of any OFs that had a turtle.

We talked about old pets on Tuesday morning. One OF explained what he goes through taking care of a 19-year-old dog  (that is 133 people years, holy cow!).

Another OF piped up that they had a 19-year-old cat. How many years cat years are to people years, this scribe doesn’t know, but this OF supposes the net will tell him. The OF is so full of aches and pains (part of OFism), he is too lazy to bother checking this out; anyway, the cat is old.

So many of the OFs grow old with their animals, and that may be best; a young puppy or frisky kitten may drive an OF nuts. Then again, maybe not; at least the young animal may keep the OF active.

Old pets seem to have the same maladies as their human caretakers, and it costs just as much to keep them going as it does humans.

Some of the OFs mentioned that they cannot remember not having a dog.

One OF added, “Until recently.”

The OF offered that it takes as much effort to take care of an old dog, as it does an OF, and he can’t do both. The OF added, having a devoted pet is such a comfort that it is a shame to have to give one up.


OGs like to drive themselves

The subject of drive-yourself and electric vehicles was another healthy conversation. On this topic, the option of riding in a car that can drive itself was not something the OFs wanted to do.

This scribe can say it was a 100-percent turndown; the OFs would rather drive themselves. However, this was from a group that still feels comfortable driving.

This scribe thinks an older person who can no longer drive but is still somewhat ambulatory would like a vehicle that all the OF would have to do is get in and say to the vehicle, “Take me to Wal-Mart,” and the vehicle would do it.

Many OFs don’t like to put people out to haul them around.

There will be more information on electric cars to come in the future, as some of the OFs now have them. One OF who leases them says he has had seven of them, and right now all he has are electric vehicles.

His internal-combustion engine truck is buried in snow and, at this point in time, it is not worth the effort to dig it out. Good OF thinking.

Those OMOTM who made it to the Country Café in Schoharie (and at least one used no gas to get there) were: Glenn Patterson, Miner Stevens, Roger Shafer, Russ Pokorny, Robie Osterman, Bill Lichliter, John Dabrvalskes, Paul Guiton, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Herb Bahrmann, and me.

By the way, a 19-year-old cat is 92 in human years.

On Feb. 8th, and the Old Men of the Mountain visited the dining car diner in Princetown called the Chuck Wagon Diner. A busy place on Route 20.

This was the first breakfast after a nasty winter storm called on our area and also a better part of the country. The OFs discussed their snowplows and what a time they had trying to plow this stuff.

Hearing the OFs who had snowplows talk about them, this scribe did not know there were so many different kinds, and different approaches to plowing snow. This scribe found out what worked and what didn’t work because he was the only OF at the table who didn’t do this type of work.

The OFs who had plows performed much humanitarian work, and for no pay. The OFs (plural) plowed out their churches’ parking lots, shoveled the walks, and basically cleaned up these hazardous spots.

One OF said he got up at 4:30 in the morning to be sure his church parking lot and walkways were cleared before services began. This scribe did not ask but noted that these OFs are making contributions that are not recorded.

The OFs were in agreement that this snowfall (or whatever it was) was tough to handle and to move. One OF said it was harder to plow three inches of what fell than it was 14 or 15 inches of snow.

Checking the ages of some of the OGs plowing and shoveling snow, especially this stuff, is not recommended for these guys. But judging from how active the ones discussing doing this type of work, in one way or another throughout the year, it is this scribe’s guess the OFs are in shape to handle it.

There was much chatter at the table that this scribe was at, and much of it was of how to take care of the snow, and the equipment used. One thing noted was that the work on clearing the snow or ice takes quite a toll on the equipment.

Snowplows, snow blowers, shovels, and the human body take quite a beating. It is good exercise to some extent, but in many cases the wrong kind. The heart and back don’t seem to be made for too much shoveling snow; however, working in the garden is different.

To go along with all this discussion, the OFs (and modern technology) brought out the cell phones. This was particularly showing work done with their equipment and what can happen to it.

One OF showed pictures of a broken part that should not have broken. This was immediate evidence as the photos showed how the work was being done and then showed a broken part.

This OF said the dealer took care of the broken part right away and was good about it. However, the OF said the dealer stood behind his equipment and said the part was up to snuff.

All this points up to what can be done with a phone now. These smartphones are not that simple; many OFs can’t operate them. They can operate the older “flip” phone because all the OFs want to do is make a phone call.

But in cases like above it is handy to know how to use the more sophisticated phones. Saves a lot of “he said vs. they said.”


Better bartering

The way prices are going with the “supply chain” right now, it seems the old-fashioned barter system is coming back. The OFs talked about services for goods, or swapping “I need and you have” for “I have, and you can use so let’s make a deal.”

One OF suggested this sounds like it could be an internet thing, and maybe there is one out there that I don’t know about. For old cars and tractors, there are swap meets all over the place and this is close to what could happen.

Have a barter site on the net where the OFs could list what they need and others could list what they have and want to get rid of, and are willing to swap the item out.

One OF suggested he thinks this would be a good idea for those OFs, or anyone for that matter, who are downsizing. One OF thought this would be better than a garage sale.

The way this OF described it, it would not be necessary to haul all that stuff out, price it, and hope the weather holds for when the OF scheduled the garage sale. Now the OFs are talking about taking advantage of using the new technology.

This scribe then thought, here the OFs are talking about using the “new” technology. This “new” technology has been around for so long now that it is not new; maybe a better word would be current.

Using the current technology seems to be a better word to describe using the net, the “smart” phones, and some of these “apps.” These apps are another thing. Many people use “apps” while many OFs are leery of getting involved with them.

Well, when you fall down and your iPhone is in your pocket and you hear a crack, you’ll be thinking, “Lord, please let that be my leg.” That’s when you realize you’re really hooked on this new/old technology.  

When looking at what people the ages of the OMOTM have accrued, downsizing is a full-time job for months. What the OFs have collected over the years (in many cases) is only valuable to the OFs who have it. Not much good for bartering.

Those OFs who made it to the Chuck Wagon in Princetown on a pretty nice day (considering the nasty weather days before) were: Miner Stevens, Jake Herzog, Roger Shafer, Rick LaGrange, John Muller, Ted Feurer, Jake Lederman, Bill Lichliter, Bob Donnelly, Dave Hodgetts, John Dabrvalskes, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Herb Bahrmann, Paul Bahrmann, and me.

We are done with January, so the Old Men of the Mountain met on Tuesday, Feb. 1, at the Middleburgh Diner. Only a handful of OMOTM were there but the conversation was lively.

One topic was about who rules the world. The OFs say that people think they are the top of the ladder — they rule the world. People think they were given orders to subdue the Earth and take care of it. The OFs say that is not true. Cats rule the planet!

The OFs maintain that, when we stop and think about cats, they are top dog, and cats know it. People who have cats know the score.

One OF said, “We don’t own cats.”

Two OFs have cats that behave in the same way. The only people who see these cats are those who have the cats. Both OFs said their cats know when a strange car drives in the driveway and then those cats just disappear. Even the OFs who have them can’t find them.

One OF said cats are no more attached to people than the sun is to the moon. The cats own the house; quite often, if the OFs move to another place and take the cat, the cat gets out and returns to the original house, saying to heck with you. The cat is not attached to you no matter how much it lies in your lap.

One OF thought the pecking order is cats, women, and then men, and even that may be suspect. It just may be kids then men. Guys like to think they are leaders of the pack, but tain’t so Magee.


Square dancing

When the OFs were younger, square-dancing was the entertainment of the time and apparently many of the OFs were square dancers. The OFs started talking about square dancing and it was noted most of the OFs were once square dancers and knew many of the places that the dances were held.

It was funny that no one seemed to recognize the OFs from being at these events. One OF said they continued to square dance right up until the pandemic hit.

Some of the others thought that square dancing was petering out but apparently from some of the discussion there are vestiges of it still around if you want to participate in the exercise. All that the OF would have to do is find a still-active club.

The OF who still does dance said that matching outfits are out. It used to be everyone gussied up and donned an outfit to go dancing.

One OF said they still had at least two closets full of these clothes in their cellar. Some of the OFs said they couldn’t dance anymore because they can’t raise their arms, and twirling would make them dizzy and they would fall down.

They all admitted it was lots of fun, great exercise, and got them out with some really nice people. One OF said they often went dancing in Massachusetts, Vermont, Maine, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee and many times these were their vacations.


Gambling and drugs

The talk then melted into comments on all the ads for gambling that are on the radio and the TV. One OF said New York is now run by gangsters.

Now that is a little harsh, but the OFs look at what is legal and advertised now, drugs and gambling.

“Great for the kids, huh?” was the comment.

How do we tell our grandkids that gambling and drugs are bad for you when it is advertised all over the place as the thing to do

 Oh well, time marches on; however, the OFs think it is out of step and there is a cliff straight ahead, and no one is there to call about-face.


Future of energy

The OFs had quite a discussion on the previous subject, and then switched to the issue of electric this and that.

From what knowledge the OFs have, and it is not limited, the OFs don’t think the way new power plants under proposal now are right. The OFs think that too much raw material is being used to generate power the way it is being touted, either with wind or solar. Even with electric vehicles.

The OFs have a problem with how long these batteries, windmills, and solar panels will last as opposed to a generator. A couple of the OFs suggested there is not enough work being done (as much as these OF can tell) on hydrogen, which would still let us use the internal combustion engine.

A few of the OFs suggested magnetism is a source of energy not being explored at all, at least again, from what the OFs can ascertain.

One OF said that he thinks the plans are not for the long haul but are very short-sighted. This OF thinks it all comes down to bucks.

This OF, in his cynical way, thinks the biggies are thinking only of themselves and care nothing about the environment, or global warming. This OF says it is all words just to sound good and makes one great big whoop.

This OF thinks everything being talked about uses finite material. He mentioned that the engineers should be working more on infinite sources, like nuclear.

It was a good conversation, and one OF mentioned that a solution to the energy problem would be to generate large amounts of electricity by working on scrubbers and filters, and go back to coal. Our own country has thousands of years of that stuff, but again, the OF said it is a finite product.

The OF added we can use this stuff until we find out what the other planets are doing to power their planets and run their spaceships.

One OF added that he thought this OF was right. This second OF maintained that, in the vastness of space, if anyone thinks we are out here all alone they are in for a big surprise.

Speaking of surprises: What modern square dance do all astronauts know? The Moonwalk.

Those OFs who made it to the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh, arriving in their air cars, which caused a stir in the parking lot, were: Paul Nelson, Miner Stevens, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Herb Bahrmann, Jake Herzog, and me.

On Tuesday, Jan. 25, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Your Way Café in Schoharie. On Jan. 25, we were approaching the end of the month, a month that has been consistently chilly.

As the OMOTM were saying, we have had colder weather but have been spoiled so far this year. The OFs did not remember a January thaw this year.

One OF said the cold has kept the snow on the ground (at least in the hills) and that is a good thing. A foot of snow on the roof is a good insulator; also snow cover on the ground keeps the frost from getting to the pipes. Old farmer knowledge.

The OFs were talking about taxes — it is that time of year. Some of the OFs have not received all their information yet and it is getting time when it is supposed to be there.

The IRS is not adhering to its own rules. The IRS is saying that a letter is coming out in a couple of weeks or so (say what) that is to be considered like a 1099 or that other one that is supposed to be filed with your taxes. Well, the OFs started discussing “Do we all have to wait until we receive that letter or what?”

One OF said he has already done his taxes and sent them in. Whoops.

All this talk sent this scribe to his tax guy. The tax man said he does not think the OMOTM have anything to worry about because the letter is all about child care, and child-care expenses, and how to claim it with all the changes going on.

Unless the OFs have kids in child care then it does not pertain to them, or anyone that does not have kids in child care. At least that is the way this scribe understands it. It’s all about the kids, so from what this scribe knows the OFs are off the hook on this one, unless there is some hanky-panky going on that this scribe doesn’t know about.


Compressed time

The OFs discussed some emails and phone calls they have received from friends that either have flown to warmer climes for the winter or are now inhabitants south of the Mason-Dixon Line. They are all complaining that they are having winter as far as Florida.

In the Carolinas — snow and ice; in Florida — having to scrape the windshields. In some of the southern states, the highway department doesn’t even have snowplows, and buying a snow shovel is a joke.

One OF mentioned that the friend he spoke to said, “The cold weather won’t last long down here; the garden tools are already in the hardware stores along with seed and fertilizer, and you guys up there still have two months to go. So ha-ha on you,” the southern OG told the northern OG.

One OF took all this chatter one step further and offered his thoughts that the older he gets, the shorter all the seasons are. Summer is short and so is winter; the spring and fall just seem to run into summer and winter.

This OF remembers winters that used to be fun with lots of time to ski and sled and the holidays seem to last much longer. The OF said even lunch and supper seemed to last longer. Now everything seems to be over before it starts.

A recent post received on the net said every time we try to eat healthy, along comes Christmas, Easter, summer, Friday, or Tuesday and ruins it for us.

The OF can’t remember when this happened or what age he noticed when cold angered his joints, or when heat made him puff and want to cool off. The OF added that for him the OMOTM breakfasts were different. The time spent was long enough, the coffee (no matter what) tasted good to him, and just to shoot the bull and listen to what the others were doing was a great break in the week.

This scribe imagines this happens within any group of like-minded people, but age just seems to make time fly — darn.

The OFs then talked a little bit about the internet, and how it now seems too loaded with junk and not what it used to be. This is another thing falling into the category of “used to be” only the internet is not that old.

Facebook started (as stated on the internet, what else) February 2004 and the OFs are already attaching an “it used to be” connotation to it. “Used To Be” used to be 40 or 60 years ago; now with the internet it is only 17 years ago next month. Well eight-track tapes and a lot of things got “used to be” in a hurry.

The OFs who made it to the Your Way Café included a few other OFs who joined in the group. Strange how when in a group of OFs people don’t mind being OFs, but when they are alone some take umbrage to being referred to as an OF. Anyway, the Your Way Café in Schoharie hosted the OMOTM and they were: Rick LaGrange, Roger Shafer, Bill Lichliter, Elwood Vanderbilt, Bob Donnelly, Dave Hodgetts, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Herb Bahrmann, Jake Herzog, Laudy Howenga, Bill Fonda, John Dabrvalskes, Carl Stefanick, and me.

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.