Monthly Archives: January 2011

Back from 1790

  The Buck Creek Muzzleloaders sponsored a Trade Fair in Linton, Indiana, this last weekend, and we were THERE!  Since my good wife Kate had already split a cord of wood and got the garden plot tilled up I decided it would be ok for her to accompany me on my manly getaway – we left KD to her own doin’s, maybe she could eat a grizzly bear while we were away.

   The venue for the fair was somewhat small, but they did manage to crowd in a lot of interesting things.  I wasn’t in the market for a new tomahawk, but they did have some good ones.  Here are a few pics of our visit to the 18th century.                                                                                                                                            We bought a few little things, necessary of course.  I mean, you just HAVE to have an iron striker and flint – what if we’re out on the highway and need to pull over to build a campfire?  Ya see?  And, with my new turkey caller, I can get us some food for….. wait, I forgot to buy that flintlock rifle I was admiring.  Dang!  And, it was only $470 – a bargain, I’m sure.

    Here are some folks in period dress – Kate wants us to buy ALL this stuff right away and begin PARTICIPATING!!!!!   Hey, slow down – I can’ t become Frontier Jim without a little planning.  And a lot of worrying of course – that’s what I do best!  🙂

   Anyway, we had a great time and were glad we went.  Now we’ll have to see about visiting some more of the trade shows and maybe some muzzleloader shooting events to see what this is all about.  Kate has *plans*, you know  <wink>.


Winter Doldrums

  I guess WINTER has decided to stay awhile.  The old guy has decorated the neighborhood with lots of snow and ice, and ya just CAN’T stay outside when the wind blows.  BRRRRRRRRRR!  It looks serious – the deer are wearing snow boots and the turkeys are using stilts.

   When the latest snowstorm blew in it wasn’t long before our Hughesnet dish antenna loaded up with snow and we lost our internet connection.  Of course, with Hughesnet, it’s sometimes kinda hard to tell whether you’ve lost service or not – I’m talking SLOW connection!  It’s faster than dialup, that’s about all you can say.  So, I’m thinking, how can I best get rid of that pesky snow on the antenna?  Option 1:  Climb up on the icy roof.  Wrong!  Option 2:  throw snowballs at it.  Yeah, that’s JUST what I need – more snow up there, PLUS taking a chance of knocking the dish off alignment.  Option 3:  Wait til the weather clears and rig up an airjet system with some plastic tubing.  Hmmm, I don’t have an air compressor, maybe I’ll hold off on that plan.  Option 4:  Try to talk Kate into climbing that ladder again.  Nah, not real sure I could catch her, so I guess that won’t work.  Option 5:  Yep, you guessed it – go to Wal-Mart and buy a SUPER SOAKER water gun.  So, I did that, and of course by the time I got home most of the snow was gone from the dish, but I’m thinking it will work ok next time.  I’ll have to load up with *hot* water and soak the back of the dish (not enough range to reach the front), and see what happens.  Fortunately, there are no power lines up there, so I won’t be barbecuing myself.  I’ll report back on the experiment.

   We’re gonna make a run up nawth tomorrow, all the way to Linton, Indiana.  They’re having a reenactor trade show up there, and we’re gonna check out all the stuff they have on display.  It’s sponsored by the Buck Creek Muzzloader folks, so it’s likely they’ll have some neat rifles on display.  Kate will likely be more interested in the period clothing and household implements than the shootin’ stuff, I figger.  Do I sound like Dan’l Boone, yet??  🙂  It’s not terribly far away, maybe 2 1/2 hours, so it shouldn’t be too taxing a drive.  And, I’m hoping we can get out of there *without* breaking the bank, as they say.  If we see anything we’d just *love* to have, maybe we can hold off til another time – still got some bills to pay, ya know?  Should be fun – should we count on seeing you there?

  Well, I didn’t have much of anything to say this time, but it took me all this time to present it.  Maybe next time I can report on the muzzleloader show, so you can be suitably envious of our adventure!  🙂  Stand by for EXCITEMENT!

Time balm

Like a lot of folks, I’m like Goldilocks – I want everything to be juuuuuuuust right.  In the winter, I long for summer – in the heat of summer, well….. you get the picture.   Another thing that never seems quite right, being Goldilocks and all, is that maybe I was born into the wrong time.  Is all the neat/exciting stuff over and done with?  I mean, I missed the Black Plague and everything!

Here’s how I would overcome this little problem.  There would be a Time Depot for us imagineers – we could go up to the window and request a ticket to another time/place, and the ticket would be for an automatic return after so many days, weeks, whatever.  We’d go strictly as observers, maybe in a magic invisible bubble, drifting through the scene, never to interact or interfere.  Now, where to go, what time period would it be?  Hmmmmm.  Remember, the Time Depot allows each traveler only 5 trips. 

Trip 1:  I’d ask for a ticket to Charleston, April 1861.  The city would be alive with excitement, the thrill of possible war – our brave citizens wanting, waiting to hear the sounds of a bombardment in the harbor.  Would General Beauregard fire the mighty 8-inch Columbiads at Fort Sumter?  If firing commenced, would Lincoln back down?  Could we really secede and become our own nation, unmolested by the Yankees? 

Trip 2:  “A ticket, please, to Skagway, Alaska, 1897.”  This was the year that the Yukon gold rush began, the year that 100,000 fortune seekers headed north to gather up easy riches.  Rumors of gold for the taking, “just bag it up”, led many of those desperate men to Skagway.  This was one of the most popular routes to the goldfields.  It would be mind-boggling to see the crush of novice miners vying to buy all the supplies they’d need for the struggle ahead. 

Trip 3:  “Plymouth, Massachusetts, 1620.”  I’d love to be there to witness the arrival of the intrepid freedom-seekers we refer to as the Pilgrims.  What did their ship look like as it appeared over the horizon?  How did they accomplish the unloading?  How did the preparation of the settlement begin?  What tools did they use to fell trees and construct living spaces?  I’m only an amateur historian, but all these things would greatly interest me.  How about you?

Trip 4:  Before my ticket purchase on this journey, I’d have to  prepare myself with language lessons – 18th century French.  “Please, may I have a ticket to Paris, 1789?”  I want to immerse myself (as much as possible, being only an observer) in the life of the people of Paris at the dawn of the Revolution.  How did they really live?  Was it terribly dark and smoky in their homes in the evenings?  What was their food like, what clothing did they wear?  Some of these answers have been attempted by Hollywood, but I think maybe Technicolor has possibly put a false bloom on the true history.  What was the feeling of the people in the streets?  Was there constant uprest right up to the storming of the Bastille?  Send me, please, let me see.

Trip 5:  My most important journey, saved for last.   I’d like to see the village in England where I was born.  They told me at the ticket window it’s ok to go back and view yourself in another time, so that’s what I want.  “A ticket to 1943 Saffron Walden, Essex, England, kind sir.”  A small village northeast of London, near to the wartime airstrip at Debden where my father was stationed – show me, please.  What did my young parents look like, how did they live in wartime England?  How much time did my father have away from the base – was he constantly on duty?  He was assigned as one of many ground support personnel who kept the fighters flying to escort the bombers on their way to Germany.  Show me the newlyweds, open that portal for me.

What trips would you take?  You don’t have to choose 5 – when/where would you go?  Fill out a comment, it’ll be fun to compare notes, yes?

How Grey was My Valley

  Sometimes I throw in a *totally* nonsensical title, just for effect.  Actually, I was just thinking about a few issues peculiar to my present phase of life – grey hair, ya know?

  I sometimes get these silly feelings like, “Hmmm, maybe I should *DO* something with all this spare time I have now that I don’t commute to work every day”.  Then, I have another cup of coffee, watch half a movie, and the feeling goes away.  My most recent (constructive?) thought was, “Hey, maybe now I can pick up where I left off, 20 years ago, and get that pilot’s license, and we can fly places!”  So, I figured, how much could it cost?  I remember taking ground school, doing all that reading, etc., and *that* didn’t break the bank.  Also, in my memory the plane rental and fuel costs were not astronomical.  Well, guess what?  Now they ARE astronomical!  I checked the website of a flying school in Louisville, and apparently the owners want to buy a yacht or something, because the total cost of getting that license falls in the $6000 – $7000 range.  I checked the bank account – we don’t have that much money!  I might just as well have decided to BUY an airplane – same result.  Sigh…

   Spare time, spare time…last year I decided to become Farmer Jim and do some vegetable gardening and quickly came to the realization that I’m older than when I last tried to do that.  There seems to be a lot of physical activity involved in even a modest amount of vegetable gardening.  Wanna prepare the ground?  That means either getting your dull shovel and  spading up a big rectangle in the back yard or renting a tiller to do the job.  Have ya ever USED one of those tillers?  Those things should come with a ‘dance card’ that you fill out before you start the engine because you’ll be following that infernal thing ALL over the garden/dancefloor and if you’re somewhat older than say 25 or so, it’s gonna be *real* tedious!  Here’s the scenario – you wrestle the thing off the trailer or pickup and drag it over to the worksite.  You put in the gasoline, give the starting rope a few simple pulls (or maybe about 30 HARD pulls), and the engine starts.  Or not.  If the one you rented is kinda stubborn, you’ll have lots of fun just getting it going.  Takes a little longer when you have to go over into the shade and gasp and wheeze every 5 minutes just during startup.  If you do get it going, then the real fun begins.  Finding the right throttle setting is critical – too slow and it wants to either stall or just kinda DIG IN.  Too fast and it wants to leap like a gazelle, tearing up the top inch or so of dirt, heading for the woods.  I think the last one I rented was kinda feral, and didn’t want to be domesticated again.  So, you get the garden plot tilled, then you go into the house (or emergency room, whatever), and try to drink enough cold water to get your temperature below 115 degrees and also try to assume the right position in the recliner to allow your spine to magically get back into alignment.  You may also want to spend some time screwing your arms back into their sockets.  Hmmm, can’t you *buy* vegetables downtown??

   What to do with all my time…. once in a while I get into ‘wanna be Hemingway’ mode and do some serious thinking about turning out the great American novel.  Or maybe just an average American novel.  Or a short story.  Or….  Anyway, whatever it is, I can’t seem to find it.  I feel like maybe if I could come up with a storyline I’d have a chance, but I’ve searched the dark dusty corners of my head and still haven’t found a story idea lying around.  I haven’t totally given up hope – I have an idea about maybe writing a series of books about a boy who goes to Wizarding School – sound good?  🙂

   Don’t get me wrong – I’m not bored, I guess I just feel a little guilty about simply enjoying my retirement with its associated blocks of free time.  I’m pretty sure I’ve seen other folks enjoying their ‘restful’ time of life.  Am I *supposed* to be getting rich writing, or starting a vegetable truck farm, or maybe becoming an airline pilot?  Unfortunately, I didn’t come with an instruction manual, so I guess I’ll just have to figure this out as I go.  I’ll report back later, ok?  🙂

  Hey, now HERE is something I think I can work with – now *where* do I sign the dance card on this baby?  🙂