March 15, 2022 called the Old Men of the Mountain to breakfast at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh. The 15th was shortly after the time change, which may be the reason for taking so long for the OFs to gather for breakfast.

The early risers were asking themselves, “Where is everybody?”

Slowly the OFs began to straggle in and the restaurant began to fill up with the OFs and others.

Almost as soon as the OFs arrived, the opening conversation was on the price of gas and prices in general. Just by the title of this little report, to keep the law off the backs of some of the members, the opening descriptive word is “old.”

That is a good indication of how the income of the group is arrived at; it is basically a fixed income that was fixed many years ago and adjusted somewhat for inflation, but nothing like what is being experienced now. This really causes some planning on living expenses by many old folks.

One OF mentioned that rising prices were expected, but in gradual increments, nothing like now. This OF used one quick example of how much it must cost to fill the tank of a tractor trailer and if we are talking a large fleet of trucks — wow! There is a chunk of change.

They (“Who are they?” one OF asked. The answer was, there is always one wise guy, whoever “they” are just fill in your own blank, you know who “they” are) say we can’t burn wood, we can’t burn coal, so what are we supposed to do, freeze? 

“Go electric,” one OF mentioned and arrive at that by wind, sun, hydro, but not by burning something.

Not only is it the shock of gas, but the price of the OFs latest power bill. One OF was wondering where this all began. It is not that some of these bills eased up by a few percentage points, but some seemed to go from high to ridiculously high in one billing period. One OF thought maybe all the big-wigs at the big power companies needed another mansion all at once.

An OF had a good suggestion concerning everyone living north of the Mason Dixon line. He felt those people should be moved south of the Mason Dixon line at government expense, then there would not be such a fuss about heating oil or gasoline; we would let the sun do it all.

“Too simple,” another OF said, and this OF thought it was slowly being done anyway. If you go south or southwest you find people there who have moved from New York, Canada, Michigan, etc.


Daylight Saving

This scribe knows there were other topics but in the scribe’s notes are eight entries: Prices, gas, travel, guessing (?), painting, fuel oil, waitress, Ukraine — that is it.

There is a note on time change, but that was quick. The basic thought was: Why mess with changing the time? Leave it alone.

A little research showed that Daylight Saving Time started in 1918. Apparently, it was originally considered by none other than Benjamin Franklin (in the 18th Century!) who thought sleeping late in the summer was a waste of productive time and the extra hour of sunlight in the evening would reduce candle consumption.

So the time was changed for farmers a long time ago, but the light bulb changed all that so let the cows and clocks be. One old farmer said, “We never changed the time; we went on cow time.”


Creatures of habit

The OMOTM are creatures of habit, the word “guessing” was brought on by the waitress saying to one OF just as the OF was about to order, “Don’t tell me, let me guess and see if I am right.”

She guessed and she was. There must be a competition in Middleburgh because the waitress in the Middleburgh Diner also does a pretty good guessing job.

However, at Mrs. K’s, many of the OFs don’t even have to open their mouths; the waitress will bring breakfast out, put it in front of the OFs and the OFs will start eating and never know they didn’t order anything but thought they did.


What is a patient portal?

Then there is another thing that has to do with the word “old” and “old folks,” which the OMOTM have mentioned before — computers and smartphones. So many people think that everyone has a smartphone or a computer but often they don’t.

One OF said, “Try calling a doctor’s office to just make an appointment.”

The menu first says, “If this is an emergency, hang up and dial 9-1-1.”

Then the robot on the phone directs the caller to the patient portal. Whoops! To many seniors, this is a big confusing issue.

What is a patient portal? Some of the OFs who have one feel the thing is so complicated that it doesn’t work, or the OF doesn’t understand it. All the OF wants to do is make a simple appointment.

The OFs say not all offices are like that. There are some offices with a way out so the OF can actually speak to a person after puzzling his way through a lengthy menu.

There has to be a better way that is not so complicated. One OF mentioned he was led to understand all this electronic stuff would make things better. Well, for him it is so confusing the OF hates to call his doctor. Talk about driving up the OF’s blood pressure — all the OF has to do is call his doctor’s office.

Those Old Men of the Mountain who are glad that it is not necessary to call the restaurants for an appointment are: Joe Rack, Mark Traver, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Glenn Patterson, Roger Shafer, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter, Jake Herzog, Ken Parkes, Elwood Vanderbilt, Dave Hodgetts, Bob Donnelly, Herb Bahrmann, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, John Dabrvalskes, Paul Guidon, and me.

The Old Men of the Mountain met at the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown on Tuesday, the first day of March 2022, and we had no Caesar. Many times it isn’t worth clawing your way to the top because on the way up there are a whole gang of ladders with people on them who want to be there too.

This scribe listened to a conversation on the prices some pay to Spectrum for the privilege of watching TV, having a computer, and a phone. There are times (when comparing the times and what is on TV and the price of receiving this information) when this question comes up: Is it (the price of this information) worth it?

Apparently these OFs were discussing that exact same predicament. Are some of these categories even worth the money? From what this scribe could gather, the answer was no.

There was also quite a discussion on the environment and the use of electricity. The conversation kept revolving and the talk went along until the OGs were in areas they only had a little knowledge of. There were a few who said, “I think that” or “I think this.”

One OF mentioned that he thought he would wire his home with #6 wire so he could charge his vehicles. That did not work out so it wasn’t done. The way things are going, it appears the OFs are going to be forced into purchasing electric vehicles.

Indirectly, this is a continuation of the (to be continued) topic a couple of columns back when the discussion was on electric cars. The electric car is not commonplace yet, but at four bucks a gallon it will make some think about investing in one.

Again, some of the OFs think internal combustion engines, or electric motors is not the way to go. The way to go is magnetism. One OF thinks many scientists are working on that possibility today and in the near future it will be the new best thing.


Reflections on history

At one table, there were two OFs who knew something about the local history of the town of Knox, and Central Bridge, Old Central Bridge, and the environs of those two villages in Schoharie County. The town of Knox is celebrating its bicentennial this year; hence the discussion on the history of the area and what these towns were like years ago.

It is interesting to some as to why some of these small towns are even here, or where they are. How did they start? Why is Knox where it is? Why is Altamont where it is? The answers to these questions, one used to say, were in the library; now they say, go to the net and find out.

At one time, the OMOTM had three OFs in their high nineties; today, we still have three OFs in their nineties and they have memories of early times, but we are talking about OFs from the start of the OMOTM.

In some cases, that adds thirty years to the history. At that time, we were getting history lessons from when God had his angel crew making dirt.

The interesting part is that the really senior members still have good minds and memories and actually remembered what the town of Knox, along with the Bernes, Gallupville, and the surrounding areas looked like, and how much different the activity was in these small towns. From their remembrances, it was much different than today.

Then it was horses; now it is electric cars. Electricity and phones then were just toys. Now the OFs are talking about wiring their houses so they can have high voltage and charge their electric cars faster.

One OF suggested, look what we have seen and done in 70 or 80 years; what will a 10-year-old kid see in the year of 2082? Better yet, what will the music be like? To many OFs, today’s music is just noise. (Now the OMOTM have upset the younger crowd.)

Somehow into this conversation the subject of cemeteries came up; these plots of ground do have something to do with history. Along with the large, basically church-owned and church-run cemeteries, are many family plots.

So many have been forgotten and left to be covered by weeds, and woods, with stones fallen over and now covered up. The OFs wonder how much history is buried in these family plots.

How many journals have been thrown away of those who lived in these small towns? One OF queried if these journals or records were ever able to be resurrected, would the discovery of them change history?

The conversation even included the likes of Thomas Edison, and George Westinghouse. How this fits in is questionable, but at the time seemed relative. Westinghouse’s death was getting very close to when some of the older OFs were born. Thomas Edison passed away just two years before this scribe was born.

Sometimes it causes a few OFs to wonder why they were allowed to tread this planet for so long and make it to breakfast. It would be great if the eyes did not dim, the heart beat strong, the aches and pains were held at bay, and the mind functioned completely.

Those who are allowed to trod and are having breakfast Tuesday, but suffer from all the other maladies in one way or another and still made it to the Chuck Wagon Diner, were: Jake Lederman, Ted Feurer, Russ Pokorny, Roger Shafer, Marty Herzog, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Paul Guidon, Bill Lichliter, Robie Osterman, Elwood Vanderbilt, Dave Hodgetts, Bob Donnelly, Rev. Jay Francis, Jack Norray, Lou Schenck, Herb Bahrmann, Jake Herzog, John Dabrvalskes, and me.

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.