This scribe looked around the Home Front Café in Altamont on Tuesday, May 13, and again noticed that the restaurant was full of men. The only member of the distaff side was the waitress. This scribe thought that, as often as this happens, the ladies’ time out and about must be later on in the day.

The OFs talked about mowing the grass (not hay).  This is almost like the conversation of last week only now the OFs are already complaining about cutting the grass. Once started in the spring, the OFs say, it is like pulling a cork out of a bottle.

The grass (also known as weeds in some yards) continues to grow and once one corner or section of the yard is done, it is necessary to go back and start all over right away. This little circus goes on until late June and, in August, when the OFs are able to catch up with the growing cycle of the grass (AKA weeds) the grass takes a break in the hot weather.

Operations abound

Another typical discussion was that of the OFs’ medical operations. The OFs were not talking hangnail type operations but the real thing, like heart bypasses, knees, shoulders, hips, hernias, some cancers, and having metal plates placed in the head.

One OF has just had his hearing repaired in one ear. The OFs don’t know if this is a hearing aid or not. Half the OFs have those things, and the other half need them.

But this OF had an operation on his head. The doctors placed something in his head just behind the left ear. Then they gave the OF a round object about one inch in diameter, and one quarter inch thick. Attached to that object is a little box about one inch square and one quarter inch thick. This unit snaps to the metal plate inside his head with a magnet.

When the OF clicks this unit to his head he can hear. It sure is different than a hearing aid, and also different in price — about two to three times more than a pair good hearing aids.

The OFs who have had other operations all seemed to have them do whatever they were supposed to do in one degree or another. Some of the OFs have no pain while others, at times, have a little discomfort.

A few of the OFs have problems with some of their joints and they could be operated on, but the advice from the doctors is “leave it alone and live with it.” The OFs wonder why this approach is taken at times and, at other times, the knife is already in the air.

Some of the OFs have had their operations done at the hospital in Cooperstown and say what a nice place this is. It is a small hospital with only 164 beds but the OFs who have used the facility say it is a good hospital and they felt safe there.

Lost ambulance

Cooperstown is a town in central New York, and one OF had a three-way bypass done at this facility. After the bypass surgery, he was sent to Sunnyview rehab in Schenectady for his (you guessed it) rehabilitation.

This OF was transported by ambulance to Sunnyview. This is quite a ride, and the driver apparently knew his way around Cooperstown, but got lost with the OF in Schenectady.

The OF said the ambulance driver drove all over the place trying to find the hospital. Some of the OFs could understand this because of the one-way streets, and it is not the easiest of hospitals to get to even if you were from Albany and had an inkling of Schenectady.

The OFs assumed the driver must have been male because he could have asked for directions. The OF in the ambulance said he did ask for directions but they seemed to be of no help.

No one asked if the ambulance had a GPS, which would have been a help. This was a few years ago, because most of the newer ambulances today are equipped with a GPS system. A few of the OFs are EMTs and one said that the GPS systems works pretty well if you are a good speller and know how to spell where you are and where you want to go.

One OF had a knee replaced recently and is getting around great but the hospital stay was another thing. We will save that for another time.

Those OFs that made it to the Home Front Café in Altamont and who would make a good support group for those contemplating an operation, or for reassuring those just coming out of an operation, were: Roger Chapman, Miner Stevens, Frank Pauli, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Bill Krause, Dave Williams, George Cove, Steve Kelly, Roger Shafer, Otis Lawyer, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Andy Tinning, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Ken Hughes, Mace Porter, Ted Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Elwood Vanderbilt, Mike Willsey, Harold Grippen, and me.

Location:

Canes at the ready, the Old Men of the Mountain attacked the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg on the history-making date of April 29, 2014, and to many of the OFs it is still winter. Some have even put the lawn mowers away, and gassed up the snow blowers.

The OFs that had farms or grew up on farms began talking about the types of animals they raised on these farms. Most were the usual kinds — cows, horses, mules, pigs, chickens, cats, dogs, turkeys, and goats. These were the mainstay of the farm.  Some of the OFs had, not unusual, but “different” animals like guinea hens, peacocks, rabbits, or suchlike.

Growing up with these critters taught the OFs how different animals behaved. Some were quite alike and some were totally different but most had their own personalities. The OFs could tell if any of their animals were sick and required the attention of a vet.

On the other hand, if the animal was not sick but in severe distress, the OFs then knew which was which and it was time to get the gun.  Most OFs, with tears in their eyes, would painlessly put the poor animal down.

Continuing on with the farming theme, the OFs maintain that everybody is sticking their nose in the business of farming, and most of those doing the sticking have no idea of what they are doing. The OFs maintain that they should go back to washing windows, and keep their collective noses out of their business and everybody would be much better off.

“Well,” one OF said, “someone has to be looking out for the common people.”

Another OF picked up on this and said, “I am a common person.”

And the first OF replied, “You know what I mean.”

“Of course,” the other OF answered. 

The original OF said he knew some farmers would cut corners just like some contractors and even manufactures cut corners. One OG said he knew that, but that was not what he was talking about.

He opined that milk inspectors and people like that knew most of the time what was going on, and common sense was the norm between most of the routine inspectors and the farmer, but mandates like having to install bulk milk tanks, instead of using strainers and milk cans, put him out of business. This OF thought that milk cans were the cleaner way to go anyway, and he felt that, if the farmer wanted to install the bulk tanks, OK, but let the little guy still use his milk cans.

Such mandates have killed many of the small farms.  Most of these small farms are now in disrepair with barns and out buildings falling down. The once productive fields are now trees and brush.

“Yep,” another OF said, “the big money cats have persuaded the legislators to tax these same farms as building lots and the farmer can’t pay these high taxes so the developers jump in and buy the farms.  The guy in the capitol has met his commitment to the fat cat.

“We can take this little sneaky conspiracy one step further. Where does our food come from now — Chile, Brazil, Australia, Canada?   I bet,” the OF continued, “this is another commitment met, only higher up.”

End of OF rant.

Pessimists and optimists

Most of the OFs are glad to see April go, as much as the OFs were glad to see March go.

One OF said “he feels like he is wishing his life away by wanting May.”

Then another OF added, “Maybe this year, we will be glad to see May go also.”

Yet some of the OFs were talking about tomato plants and planting gardens.

Optimism and pessimism in one little conversation.

Strong concentration

The OFs had a small discussion on the phrase “lost in his work.”

One OG was picking up another OG to go to the breakfast and the OG being picked up was out working in his yard. The picker-upper drove up his driveway and the OG being picked up kept right on working.

The picker-upper OG turned around and drove back down the driveway and sat waiting for his friend who just kept right on working. The driveway was no more than 50 feet from where the OG was raking.

The picker-upper OG sat for a short while with the car running and finally blew his horn. The OG working in the yard just raised his head and waved in the general direction of the road and went right back raking.

The OG picking up this OF then really blew his horn, and, finally, the OG turned and saw the car and laid down his rake and walked to the car.

It is a good thing this scribe does not use names because, if anyone realized who this was and saw the OG working in the yard, they could drive right up his driveway, steal one of his tractors, drive it away, and the OG would never know it. That is what is known as engrossed in your work.

As one of the OFs commented, “That OG is the type of person you would want working for you — one that is not easily distracted.”

Those OFs who attended the breakfast at the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg (with some OFs quite removed from farming but still think they are farmers, yet are now are able to go out to breakfast and not to the barn) were: Miner Stevens, Robie Osterman, Roger Chapman, Dave Williams, Steve Kelly, Roger Shafer, Harold Guest, Otis Lawyer, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Karl Remmers, Dick Ogsbury, Andy Tinning, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Gary Porter, Ken Hughes, Jack Norray, Duncan Bellinger, Bill Krause, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Ted Willsey, Jim Rissacher, and me.

This scribe would like to have a nickel, no, maybe just a penny, for every time the following has been said: “Why do the weeks go by so fast?”

Tuesday has rolled around again, and it seems like it was just Tuesday the day before, but here it is Tuesday, April 22, 2014, and already 112 days of the year have gone by.  My goodness, the OFs will have to start their Christmas shopping pretty soon.

To add to this, in just a few more weeks, the Old Men of the Mountain will be right back at the Blue Star Restaurant in Schoharie ordering the same breakfast — or maybe not.

According to the OFs, spring has sprung because the peepers are peeping. Most of the OFs say, don’t count on it; one day does not spring make.

With the temperature hovering above freezing, and not by much, except for the aforementioned day, the snow does melt. With the snowmelt, the water table goes up and the OFs were talking about how much water they have. Some have their wells overflowing.

One OF said that he has water coming up all over the place, but this OF lives between two hills so this is understandable. However, one who has a well overflowing so the water is running from under the casing cap down the drive lives on top of the mountain. The OFs surmised there must be a ton of pressure on the water table to push the water up like that.

Then comes mid-summer and the OFs hope the water is still there. Generally it is.

One OF said occasionally some of their friends come up from the city to spend time with them and to be in the country for a while. They have day trips planned, and they do some farm-stand shopping, but what drives this OF up the wall is their indiscriminate use of water, “like there is an infinite source of water.”

The showers these friends take are long, and then long again. When trying to help in the kitchen, they turn on the tap and let ’er run. They have the water running and then walk away to do something else.

It is a good thing they are only here for a few days, the OF noted, and he stressed again that they are great friends and nice people.

Another OF chimed in that they have similar friends, again from places with public sources of water and apparently no usage tax. They don’t really know about being on a well with the energy to run the pump and the possibility that the water may be low in a long dry summer.

“Somehow,” the OF said, “we have to remember how important water is because we really aren’t that far removed from the fish we once were.”

 Sorrowful Friday pervades Easter

Easter is an event that is not celebrated like many of the others.

The OFs do not wish each other Happy Easter. Maybe at some ends of the table it was said, but nothing like the expressions heard at Christmas. Happy Easter does not have the ring to it as does Merry Christmas.

There were only a couple of OFs that even asked, “How was your Easter?”

On Thanksgiving, most of the OFs are curious about what the other OFs are doing for Thanksgiving, like family coming over, or checking to see if the OF was going anywhere.

Even the first day of deer season sparks more conversation than Easter. Good Friday, in many circles, is such a downer that it carries over into Easter. (No one really knows why it is called Good Friday, conjecture applies, so take your pick, only in German it is called Sorrowful Friday, everyone to their own interpretation. There that answers the OFs’ questions.)   

Dealing with

an aggressive cardinal

Some of the OFs discussed having birds attack the windows of their homes. The OFs were talking about deliberate attacks, not the occasional bird that flies headlong into a window.

Most of the time it is the cardinal that becomes so aggressive. One OF reported having one of the cardinals becoming such a nuisance that he was making a mess on the side of the house.

The OF said that this bird would attack his hand as he tried to shush it away. The OF said that the only thing between him and that crazed bird was the glass in the window.

This OF called the Cornell Cooperative Extension Service in Voorheesville for advice on how to handle the situation. They said that cardinals were very territorial and the cardinal saw his reflection in the window and saw what he thought was another cardinal.

The extension service said to hang newspaper on that window and the bird would not see his reflection and stop trying to attack the reflection. Did not work!  The dumb bird just went to the next window. More newspaper; the bird just went to the next adjacent window.

Finally one old farmer friend said he should get an owl from the garden shop and hang it where the bird will see it. Cardinals in the wild are afraid of owls and they can’t seem to tell the difference between plastic owls or the genuine bird.

The OF said he went and purchased two owls. Bingo! The next day, the bird was gone. The OF said he still has those owls, and no birds with aggressive behavior wailing at his house to date.

Condolences

The Old Men of the Mountain would like to offer their condolences to the family of Bob Dietz who passed away at his winter home in Tucson, Arizona.

Bob was a loyal member of the OMOTM and graced the company of OMOTM with his stories, and humor.

Those OFs with the courage to get out of bed, and ambulatory enough to make it to the Blue Star Restaurant in Schoharie were: Roger Shafer, Steve Kelly, Otis Lawyer, Jim Heiser, George Washburn, Glenn Patterson, Dick Ogsbury, Karl Remmers, Robie Osterman, Roger Chapman, Miner Stevens, Andy Tinning, Harold Guest, John Rossmann, Frank Pauli, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Gary Porter, Ken Hughes, Jack Norray, Don Wood, Bill Krause, Jim Rissacher, Ted Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.

The weather sometimes seems to support the Old Men of the Mountain because on Tuesday, April 15, it held off nicely for breakfast time. The OMOTM catch that break quite often, so, if you are planning anything that has to be done in the morning, make it a Tuesday morning and the weather should be OK thanks to the OMOTM.

This past Tuesday morning, the OFs who are beef eaters, (isn’t that a wine or some kind of alcoholic beverage?) were complaining about the prices of beef and bacon.

What brought that discussion up was the OFs were at the Country Café in Schoharie where they have the good bacon, the thick stuff that has some body to it, not that thin pre-cooked bacon that is so thin it is possible to read the paper through it. Real bacon — and even the bacon sliced so thin that the hog doesn’t even know it is gone — and the price of both of these types of bacon has taken its place among the stars.

Also, while on the subject of restaurants, the OFs started talking about the ambience of rest rooms, particularly in restaurants. The circulating thought was that a restaurant could have great food and dining-area ambience, but, if the restrooms are a step above an outhouse, then the whole place goes with it.

The OFs thought that this is because we are OFs and the restrooms are a little more important to us now. One OF mentioned that it might be because we have been married so long that some of the OFs’ uncouthness has been refined a little to the point where we are becoming more couth.

One OF mentioned that, when we were young, the restroom could be behind a tree, who cared, but, as we progressed through the aging process, the OFs now want clean bathrooms, warm, well lit, and soft toilet paper, toilets and sinks that work, and paper towels.

Same goals

Some discussion was unusual for the OFs and that was brought about by the lead in an editorial in the Albany Times-Union that the Albany, Schenectady, Troy area was one of the least religious areas in the nation. The discussion was on the differences in churches and, even with these differences, they all have the same goal.

Plant pain?

The OFs began talking about the findings of Cleve Baxter, and his work with plants, and their ability to feel or not feel pain. This is quite interesting, and, just like the UFO that has the Malaysian plane, there is much debate in the scientific community about plants feeling pain. Whether or not they do feel pain is the question, but having a nervous system does seem to have some basis.

Along with this there is still conversation among the OFs on this missing aircraft. This scribe will be glad when that sucker is found.

Personal pain

Then the OFs (including this scribe) started talking about their own pains, especially in our legs. Almost all, at the corner of the table where this scribe was seated, have puffy legs at night.

These puffy legs start just about at the sock line and, at the end of the day, can really be bothersome. Some of the OFs said, not only do the legs hurt, but they itch.

One OF said he has rubbed his legs raw, and there are scabs where he has scratched them. By morning, this swelling is gone and the legs appear to be normal, or how ever 70- or 80-year-old legs are supposed to look when normal.

All these OFs say they have reported this condition to their doctors who really don’t say anything or seem to pay any attention. The doctors just look at them and say, hmmm — and that’s about it.

The doctor’s reply is generic to each OF; only one doctor did tell one of the OFs to occasionally elevate his legs during the day and see if that helped.

See if that helps!  For crying out loud, are we OFs part of some learning curve?  This is why it’s called the practice of medicine; sometimes the doctors are still practicing on us.

One OF said that it seems funny that, when we go to the doctor with an eye that twitches twice, and then once, and then twice again, the doctor will immediately diagnose some rare malady that is found only in the jungles of the Congo.

Go there with two legs that are swollen above the OF’s socks as big as telephone poles, and below the sock as thin as chicken legs and the same doctors sit there scratching their heads.

One OF said that, while he was at his doctor’s office, he just started snorting and clearing his throat about three or four months ago, and it began like out of the blue. The doctor’s reply was, “You know, I started to do that about a year or so ago and I can’t get rid of it either.”

Then one OF said, “I hate it when the doctor says, ‘Oh that’ and then he admits he has ‘it’ too.”

Then again, many of the OFs think that, with the slightest new cough, hack, or twitch, the OF might have Beriberi but the doctors know that the OFs are OFs and really they have nothing — the OFs are in the category of getting old and these things are just going to happen.

Those OFs who made it to the Country Café in Schoharie regardless of what their doctors say were: Ted Willsey, Jerry Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Steve Kelly, Roger Shafer, Karl Remmers, Dick Ogsbury, Dave Williams, John Rossmann, Chuck Aleseio, Frank Pauli, Harold Guest, Miner Stevens, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Jim Heiser, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Roger Chapman, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Lou Schenck, Ken Hughes, Henry Whipple, Bill Krause, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me. 

Tuesday, April 8, The Old Men of the Mountain met at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh. The OMOTM sat at the tables and watched the tearing down of the old National Automotive Parts Association store across the street from Mrs. K’s. This shows some confidence in the village after the flood.

The Army-Navy rivalry popped up its little head at the breakfast Tuesday morning. One of Mrs. K’s specialties is creamed chipped beef on toast. That tasty combination is — or was — a staple in the Army.

One OF related this fact, as a couple of the OFs were served up their orders of the culinary delicacy. One of the OFs who was doled out the specialty is a Navy man through and through.

He promptly picked up on the slightly disparaging remark and said that the Navy received only good food on board ship. The “real stuff,” the Navy OF said.

The Army OF said they got powdered eggs, but the Navy OF said they had real eggs and real meat. The Navy OF said that they sent to the Army what the Navy didn’t want. For once, the Army OF said he had to agree.

However, the Navy guy wanted to have his bill cut in half because the toast was (in his opinion) burnt on the bottom. All the other OFs said he was nuts and the toast was perfect. The Navy OF was angling for a less expensive bill. The toast was fine. You have to watch these OFs — they are pretty clever.

Ways to skin a cat

This led right into the character of many of the OFs, if not all of them. Because of their age, most of the OFs are set in their ways.

It is my way or the highway, or that is the way it has always been done, or — and this is the best one — it is the way my mother or father always did it so it is the right way, and that is the way I do it — end of argument. If my toast is golden brown, everybody’s toast should be golden brown.

The OFs even discussed sawing a board.  Now, one would think there was really only one way to do that, but the OFs found out differently. Really, no matter how it was done, the board was still cut, square, and it fit.

Washing dishes was another dialogue; this one was typical, especially when it came to washing coffee pots. A few OFs said that they wash the pot thoroughly with soap and water.

The other OFs said no, that ruins the pot, and, no matter how the pot is rinsed, the taste of soap comes through the next time the pot is used and the coffee tastes awful. These OFs insisted that the pot should just be well rinsed and, when the coffee pot or carafe starts turning brown, one should run some vinegar through it and rinse it well. These OFs maintained soap ruins a coffee pot and a cup of coffee.

There are many habits and ways of doing things cultivated by the OFs and, as the years go by, the OFs become more vocal on what they think is the right way to do things. If Dad did it, then that is the way I will do it. If Dad chewed tobacco and spit it out the right side of his mouth, then, by golly, I will chew tobacco and spit it out the right side of my mouth.

One OF related a story that points out how stupid much of this is.

There was a young lady who, before cooking a roast, always cut the end from it. One day her daughter asked why she did that. The reply was because her mother always prepared a roast that way — by cutting off the end.

The little girl went and asked her grandmother why she cut the end off of the roast, and the grandmother said that it was because her mother always cut the end off of the roast.

Fortunately, the little girl’s great-grandmother was still alive so she went and asked the great-grandmother why she cut the end of the roast off, and the great-grandmother said, “I had to, because the pan was too short.”

Now you know how dumb many of these traditions are, and remember there is also Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof touting in song — traditions.

This scribe, as an OF, thinks that all this may be true but there is another side to this story.  Many OFs become freer and the axiom, “When I am old, I will wear purple,” squeezes itself in there someplace.

The OF will go out in public with red sneakers, black socks, white pants that are too short, and a plaid flannel shirt, with a tie, and think he looks fine. This scribe thinks Dad would never wear this outfit (maybe bibs, white shirt, and a tie) but then Dad would be in Central Bridge at the livestock auction — that isn’t that bad.

Those OFs who made it to Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh, and all properly attired, were: Henry Witt, Roger Chapman, Andy Tinning, Roger Shafer, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Harold Guest, Frank Pauli, Dave Williams, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Jim Heiser, Otis Lawyer, Gerry Chartier, Harold Grippen, Steve Kelly, Miner Stevens, Bill Krause, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Don Wood, Henry Whipple, Bill Rice, Jim Rissacher, Ted Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Gil Zabel, Mike Willsey, and me.

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