Tuesday, Feb. 18, the Old Men of the Mountain met at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh.
Right off the bat, this scribe must report that he was not there, but assistant scribes were assigned to gather names — one OF for the early birds and one OF for the late arrivers. When this happens and the appointed scribes do not accrue much information, this scribe is forced to go to his little red, or black, or blue book and look up old notes on conversations that were deemed too racy, too redundant, or, in this scribe’s opinion, not too interesting.
Sometimes, the problem is too many notes (all good) but they would fill half a page of the paper if this scribe used them all. That would make the OFs rather boring, so this scribe eliminates some of the varied conversations.
Occasionally, the OFs talk about upstate-downstate and how there is such a large difference in the two sections of the same state. In the all-knowing Times Union (ooh, my cheek hurts) there was an article of a movement afoot about having two New Yorks. Wow! What a novel idea.
This has been mentioned on and off for many years, and quite often by the Old Men of the Mountain. The OFs, as a rule, when discussing this issue, use Route 84 as the cutoff point. The TU mentioned Westchester County as the cutoff point. The OFs feel there is more money in 10 houses in Westchester County than all of Montgomery County, and the OFs think this is also another electric railroad debacle.
The OFs wonder if those in Westchester County, and New York City, and Long Island even know what the rest of the state goes through in the money department. To the OFs, many feel that downstaters think $1,000 is like $10 to those of us above Route 84.
One OF said that many of them have no idea where milk, meat, eggs, and veggies come from. This OF thinks that they imagine it all comes from the grocery store and “they” (downstaters) have no idea how it gets to the store. This OF assumes that many believe the items just sprout on the shelves.
Another OF thinks New York City is nothing but one big sponge that sucks up all the state resources to keep it going, and leaves nothing for those of us upstate.
Another OF took the opposite tack and opined that upstate cannot stand on its own. This OF feels that we need New York City in order to keep the state solvent. For instance, this OF feels there is not enough tax money upstate to support our portion of the state’s transportation department, or the university system, or maintain the Adirondack Park, and support our portion of the State Police. To this OF, the idea of a separate upstate-downstate sounds good, but he doesn’t think it would ever work and he feels confident enough to say it can’t work.
No fancy funerals
The OFs have an undertone conversation that crops up often. This time, it was on the number of people that the OFs know who have passed on in the last few months. It seems the wave of life the OFs are on is beginning to crash upon the shore.
This time, the OFs mentioned the type of funeral they would like, but the cost of dying is like everything else — getting out of hand. Many OFs say, “Just stuff me in a pine box or the crate the fancy coffins come in — that is all I need.”
One OF said, “Me too, and have the funeral from my living room, with family and friends gathering afterwards right in the house.”
Another OG said, “For me, no organ music. Those dirges sound like you are at a funeral.”
To which two OFs in unison said, “You OB, you are at a funeral, and it is yours.”
The OF that started this little part of the conversation said, “You know what I mean. Play some good old country music, like Hank Williams Jr.’s song ‘There’s a Tear in my Beer,’ or the song by Garth Brooks, ‘Friends in Low Places’; that’s my kind of funeral music.”
Another OG said that he is not going to have a funeral; he is donating his body to science, and bypassing “Digger Odell” altogether.
“Come on,” one OG said. “Science is not going to want your saggy old body; it is all used up. What will they have to experiment with? You are nearly blind; you can’t hear with or without hearing aids; one shoulder, one hip, and two knees are nothing but metal. You might just a well sign yourself over to the scrap yard at the port.”
“Look who’s talking,” the OF answered. “When they place your lard butt in a coffin, they won’t be able to get enough pallbearers under it to pick it up. A hearse will be out of the question for you; they will need a pickup truck and a crane.”
This same topic has been covered before, and will be again, but the scenarios change sometimes from the same OFs. One OF mentioned awhile back that he was going to be cremated, and his ashes put on the manure spreader and spread on the fields of the farm.
Another OF told him that would be a good idea because at least, for once, he would be doing some good.
“Like we just talked about a couple of weeks back,” one OF interjected. “Once we are gone, we won’t have a clue as to what goes on. We will be gone. The family may join in the funeral one-upsmanship, just like weddings, no matter what we want.”
“I can just hear the kids saying, ‘I don’t care what the OF wanted, my dad isn’t going to be buried in a pine box,’ and the kids will go for a casket that costs as much as a car.”
“Not my kids,” one OF said, “I may have a preplanned funeral, and they will take that money, and then wrap me in a sheet, get a shovel, dig a hole and dump me in, and that will be it.”
“Smart kids,” came a remark from a corner of the table.
All the OFs who are still breathing came to the breakfast at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh and they were: Henry Whipple, Andy Tinning, Roger Shafer, Chuck Aleseio, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Jim Heiser, Otis Lawyer, Steve Kelly, John Rossmann, Bill Krause, Jim Rissacher, Don Woods, Ted Willsey, Harold Guest, Jack Norray, Ken Hughes, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Garry Porter, Harold Grippen, Elwood Vanderbilt, Mike Willsey, and not me — but I am still breathing.
To this scribe, the time to report on the doings of the Old Men of the Mountain seems to come closer and closer. This scribe feels like he just finished typing the previous one and now it is time to type another and this one is for Tuesday, Feb. 11.
On Tuesday, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh and it was cold again, but by now most of the OFs are used to it, except those with stents; that cold air gets to them.
To continue with the complaint that has been growing with the OFs, and that is keeping the home warm and how much it is beginning to cost, one OF mentioned that he does a lot with solar energy. His panel system puts out 6,000 watts (if this scribe understood him correctly).
So this OF could make coffee, 200 watts; make toast, 800 to 1,500 watts; have the refrigerator running, 600 watts; have the furnace running, 800 to 1200 watts; fry eggs and bacon in an electric frying pan, 1,200 watts; and do a load of laundry 500 watts; watch TV, etc. and have wattage left over. Not bad and all free energy.
The energy is free, but the solar system is definitely not. Eventually though, there will be a payback and, if it were started when the OF was a YF, he may make it. Then again, at what age does it mean you are an YF? As the OF’s age, the YF age seem to become older.
The discussion on energy suggested that somehow we (meaning the country) have to wean ourselves from fossil fuels, or natural gas and propane, just for heating homes, businesses, and domestic use. The OFs think this would free up oil and propane for running equipment such as trucks, ships, trains, and planes and subsequently lower costs.
The OFs started talking about co-gen plants that burn everything from tires to rice hulls to generate electricity, and, if we can get electric power down to something reasonable in price, we could return to using that.
One OF complained that he signed up for 100-percent wind power and pays a premium per kilowatt on his power bill and yet his bill jumped by 80 bucks. This OF is wondering why is he paying for the propane-usage fee if, in essence, he doesn’t use it.
“Something is wrong here,” this OF said.
This energy movement isn’t going to die; it is becoming a real problem, according to the OFs, and, as mentioned last week, they fervently believe it is all a scam.
The OFs talked about the movie, Grumpy Old Men, with Jack Lemon, and Walter Matthau. What brought this discussion up was that one OF visited friends in that part of the country and this OF visited the motel that these two stars stayed at while they were filming in Minnesota.
The motel has pictures of Jack Lemon and Walter Matthau with some of the staff at the motel. The OFs talked about how funny a movie Grumpy Old Men is and some of the OFs fit right in with these two.
If you haven’t seen the movie, you might want to know much of it is about ice fishing, and the movie is something like Lawrence of Arabia. In the Lawrence of Arabia movie (about half-way through), the people in the audience felt like taking their shirts off. In Grumpy Old Men, the same audience wanted to put on another coat.
One OF said that, if you ask an OF to bundle up and go out and get the mail on a cold, blustery winter day, there may be an argument. Ask the same OF if he wants to go ice fishing, the OF has his gear on before the suggestion is over. Go figure.
One OF said that Minnesota has more lakes in it than the rest of the country combined. This scribe thinks this OF might mean “more than any other state.” The word “combined” would mean an awful lot of water. (Google it coming on).
Tough to top
Those OFs who watched the opening ceremonies to the Winter Olympics were duly impressed. The ceremonies were spectacular, especially the ending with the twirling dancers that looked like fireflies.
The OFs were wondering how they could do that and not fall over. One OF said he got dizzy just watching them.
The OFs mentioned the little 11-year-old girl who was dreaming the dream that the whole show was based on. She was flying through the air during the opening show (after breaking her arm in rehearsal) and she still went on with her performance at the opening ceremonies. A real trouper.
One OF mentioned this is like the game “Can You Top This.” The next opening of the Olympic Games is going to try and be better or more outlandish; however, this one is going to be tough to top.
Finally, the OFs talked about this good, old-fashioned winter with all the snow on the ground and buildings. (At our ages what’s so good about it? Let’s just call it an old-fashioned winter.) This winter is not going away because of the cold.
As one OG said, “The snow does not melt and make room for more; it just keeps piling up.”
This OG said he still has snow from the first snowfall. The guys who plow driveways with their pickup trucks are having a heyday this winter.
“Yeah,” an additional OF said. “If they don’t wear their trucks out before the winter is over.”
Those OFs who were at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh, and a few who still do their own plowing were: Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Otis Lawyer, Andy Tinning, Steve Kelly, Miner Stevens, Harold Guest, John Rossmann, Frank Pauli, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Roger Shafer, Chuck Aleseio, Bill Rice, Bill Krause, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Gary Porter, Ken Hughes, Henry Whipple, Ted Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Guest, and me.
On Feb. 4, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville. For a brief few hours in the morning, the sun shone and the OFs enjoyed a beautiful sunrise, though it was short.
The weathermen, with their voices full of glee, were broadcasting a winter storm warning for later on that Tuesday evening into Wednesday, Feb. 5. The OFs are happy they made the trip Tuesday morning up to Rensselaerville and the Hilltown Café.
This cute little place, which was once an old school (and the school bell is still in the restaurant) is perched about 1,650 feet up in the Helderbergs.
The OFs were ready to chew nails and spit rust over the bill increases from National Grid. The OFs say everyone should smell a scam from the beginning. (They can.)
We have had much worse winters, and, when Niagara Mohawk supplied our electricity, none of this happened. Under Niagara Mohawk Power, the prices were high, but in line with other utilities, and we had no ridiculous price hikes like what is going on now.
“Yeah,” one OF said, “and, with the ridiculous hike, comes the ridiculous lame reason.”
A second OF opined, “One real reason is because Niagara Mohawk was an American company, and this National Grid company is English and they don’t give a rat’s patootie about the customers.”
Another OF said that, coupled with the false claim of no product, National Grid can push through the hydrofracking by claiming, if they had more product, they would not have to raise prices.
“BS,” he added.
Then, one OF said that the state isn’t saying anything because it is in cahoots with National Grid. The whole thing is a scam.
Still another OF believed that the natural-gas suppliers have learned well from OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries), and how the oil people carry on their scare tactics and false shortages to get the prices of oil up. Now, with the price of oil joining the ridiculous category, it is causing the price of everything to skyrocket, and the government seemingly goes right along with it.
“You got that one right,” one OF said, “because, when things cost more — and taxes are a percentage based on the selling price right down the line — the state and federal governments rake in big bucks and they don’t care if gas is ten bucks a gallon, or a tire is five hundred dollars, or a crooked, knotted, two-by-four is twenty bucks.”
“We are in a Catch-22,” one OG added.
However, this OF thought we always have been in situations like this one way or another. This OF said the country has gone through this type of “spin” as long as he can remember, only today the numbers are higher, which makes this time around more alarming.
This OF continued that this might cause people to think about driving and building huge houses with four bedrooms for two people, and more bathrooms than a football stadium.
“Think that one through, Buddy,” said an OF. “You’re saying that then only the rich people can go see Aunt Tillie whenever they want and the poor people would really have to plan, and maybe not be able to afford the trip if Aunt Tillie kicks the bucket.
“The National Grids, the oil companies, and many banks don’t care about the people getting by on darn little, and throw in day care for families where both parents work and therein lies a bigger problem than I can get my little pea-pickin’ brain around,” said the OF.
One OF said (and this scribe knows this has been said before) the OFs have lived in the best of times. This OF thought we should bring back Ronald Regan and Bill Clinton — these guys knew what they were doing.
Going back to the power price hikes, the OFs did agree they think this whole power situation is phony — there is no shortage. It is just a way to increase pricing and exploit the hydrofracking situation in favor of the gas business and to heck with the environment, or any other damage it may cause to people’s lives.
Wow, this scribe wondered: How many sides can there be to a discussion?
The OFs are of an age where they can just hang around the house if they want to — and, many times, that is what the OFs do. So what do the OFs wear while doing this strenuous activity?
Some don’t even bother to get dressed until noon. One OF said that the invention of sleep pants is great; they are nothing more than a heavier fabric pajama, which doesn’t look like pajamas.
“Heck, I even wear them out,” one OF proudly stated.
“I like sweats,” one OG said. “A sweatshirt, and sweatpants and I am all set,” he said “Put that together with not even bothering to shave and the day is great,” the OF continued.
“Well,” one OF answered, “I hope you bothered to shower but, knowing you, probably not.”
“Showering is one of my favorite things, wise guy. I make sure there is heat in the bathroom, and the hot water heater is up to snuff.”
“Maybe so,” the other OF came back with, “but I have been in your bathroom and all the towels are gray.”
“I like gray,” the OF retorted.
The OFs have talked about getting dressed before, and they consider this to be their daily exercise, but this time the OFs were talking about how they are finding they can put on one sock easier than the other and putting on socks is the hardest part of getting dressed.
One OF said he finds he has to sit down now to put on his shorts and pants because, when he raises his right leg to stuff it into his pants, he feels like he is going to fall over, and he can’t raise the leg high enough, or it may be that he can’t bend over low enough to the right. Going to his left is no problem; he can slide that leg right in.
This was strange because many of the OFs go through the same thing, only describing different body parts they are forced to use.
One OF said, when he puts on his coat, it has to be on his left because, if it is on his right, he can’t get it on.
Another OF said he has a similar problem with gloves. If he puts on the right glove first, he has trouble getting the left one on, so he takes the right glove off, puts the left one on, and then puts the right one back on.
This scribe pondered, are we all that weird?
What happened to the rat farm?
A few of the OFs talked about the rat farm that used to be in Altamont. One of the OFs said he worked there, and another OF said his dad worked there, and another OF said his mother-in-law worked there.
One OF said he thought some outfit in Ohio bought it but he really doesn’t know what happened to it after that. One OF questioned if the new owners just opened the cages and let all the rats out.
Those OFs attending the breakfast at the Hilltown Café, in Rensselaerville, and finding out that some other OFs got twisted around taking short cuts to find the restaurant (like an earlier car load did once) were: Miner Stevens, Andy Tinning, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Harold Guest, Frank Pauli, John Rossmann, Steve Kelly, Roger Shafer, Bill Krause, Lou Schenck, Gary Porter, Mace Porter, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Henry Whipple, Bill Rice, Elwood Vanderbilt, Gill Zabel, Ted Willsey, Harold Grippen, Jim Rissacher, and me.
The Old Men of the Mountain met at the Home Front Café in Altamont on Jan. 28, and the OFs are becoming a little bit tired of this cold. Thank goodness we are almost through January and, when The Enterprise hits the newsstands, it will be February. The OGs are just about ready to start complaining.
The OFs had a discussion Tuesday morning on something they are quite familiar with since some (not all) of the OFs were around when there were dinosaurs. Some of the OFs were on a personal basis with these creatures; many of the OFs were here to show God how to make dirt.
Quite a few of the OFs were farmers and had firsthand knowledge of how to make good dirt because to feed those dinosaurs was going to take some fast-growing plants, and plants like this need good dirt.
This scribe made a note on the dinosaurs and is scratching his head to try and remember how the OFs started talking about these ancient animals, amphibians, and birds in the first place. Of course, the more well known beasts of these periods came up. T-Rex came up, so did the Pterodactyl, and, of course, the long-neck Barosaurus.
The OFs wondered how many bales of hay it would take to feed one of those long-neck monsters if these creatures were around today and if it would take a whole cow to feed a T-Rex. One OG thought that, if a Pterodactyl flew over and pooped on your shoulder, like a seagull, it would probably knock you to the ground.
It is hard for the OFs to conceive how Adam was able to name all the animals, and did he speak Latin? Were there even cows, as we know them, in the Triassic or Jurassic periods?
Who called the first cow a cow, and a dog a dog, and why aren’t dogs still called wolves, and then there is the whole cat enigma, and did Adam’s descendants speak Latin.
It seems the OFs should know these facts because, of course, they were there. The OFs are getting in rather deep here.
On Jan. 21, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Duanesburg Diner, and it was another cold Tuesday morning. Most of the OFs left home and found zero, or a tad below, was the morning temperature — not a good way to start the day.
As this scribe renders this report to the computer screen, it is not any warmer. This scribe also wonders what the future generations will do to keep warm in the cold climates when the fossil fuels run out. They are not infinite, you know.
Speaking of the future generations, the OFs began talking about making plans from when they exit this world and go to the next. One OF said he wonders how many times we have done that.
Another OF said he may have been walking this planet as a cow, and, when that cow died, he came back as a fly, and, when the fly died, he came back as this OF. Whoops! The OMOTM’s first whacko.
In reality, the OFs were talking about how they will leave their personal information like wills, or no wills, things that they would like to see passed on, and to whom. They need to have the next of kin know where they have their personal papers in case the wife has already passed on, or they should both be killed when their motorcycle went off the road.
Some of the OFs haven’t done a thing because it is too scary to think about and these OFs don’t want to do it.
Others have everything organized and explained to the kids so there will be as little of a hassle as possible for them when the OF kicks the bucket and his toe doesn’t hurt. A couple of the OFs have their plots and headstones bought and paid for.
One OF had the kids come and put stickers on what they want, and let them hassle it out now before the OF is gone, and what they don’t want can be auctioned off, or sold at a garage sale, or hauled to the dump.
The OF said, “I’m dead so how can I care? I won’t even know if they speak good or bad, for crying out loud, I am dead, no skin off my bones what they say.”
Another OF said, “I can add to that, my kids can’t even get along while they are alive; their squabbles are a pain in the butt. I am going to leave everything so screwed up that it will take those two years of hassle just to straighten it out. And I don’t care if they wrap me in a sheet, put me on the manure spreader, and spread me over the field. Like you say, I’m dead — I won’t know.”
Talk about dead — that is what the town of Knox is. What it was just a few short years ago, and what it is like today; there is a big difference.
The OFs from the Hill all remembered Si (Stevens) and the gas station, the country store, and going to the post office, all gone now, and so far replaced by nothing. One OF commented the only thing in the town of Knox now is the church.
“But,” said one OF, “There is still the town park, the fire department, and the Taj Mahal-Town Hall.”
The OFs were remembering Si and the gas station, and the people visiting on the porch covering the day’s events and some of the OFs joining in. They mentioned Si and the penny candy and how she scooped out the ice cream and hand-packed it.
One OF mentioned how Si went to the garage to get kerosene for them and you couldn’t help her with it even if you wanted to. “Don’t you touch it,” she would say, “I will do it.”
What happened? Did it all just find a sinkhole and disappear?
The OFs said what they have said many times: “We think we have lived through the best of times.”
One OF said that what the town of Knox needs is four large tombstones with “RIP town of Knox. Beware of the Ghost of Years Gone By.”
One OF said, “Don’t be too hasty. Towns and cities have ways of coming back, just like the movie The Lion King where the moral of the movie is the circle of life. Again we can’t improve anything by being negative.”
“Spoil sport,” was the retort.
Wish on STAR
The OFs had some conversation on the STAR [School TAx Relief] program, and in this group almost all are qualified for this program. The forms, though they are short and do not ask for much information, are quite confusing to the OFs.
There is one rule in the third paragraph of the Renewal Application which states: “All owners, including nonresident owners, must attach a copy of either their 2012 federal or state income tax returns (if filed). (Tax schedules and tax form attachments are not routinely required.)” Duh. Which is it? Must attach, or not routinely required? Another duh. There appears to be something left out here. Or maybe the OFs are old and have lost the art of reading between the lines.
This scribe checked, and the answer is, yes, send a copy. The second part about “not routinely required” is for all the extra stuff that goes with many tax forms; all they want is the front page. They are just looking for proof that whoever is applying made under 80-some thousand dollars. Not to worry for most or all of the OFs.
Some of the OFs who watch the news remembered hearing discussions about people taking advantage of the STAR program and were wondering if the new forms were an attempt to plug some of the holes. The OFs just didn’t know and there wasn’t any cover letter explaining the forms.
The forms looked the same, but to some of the OFs read differently.
One OF remembered his brother-in-law telling him at one time that, when people did not understand his directions, or instructions, it was not their ability about understanding — it was his inability to communicate the instructions or directions sufficiently enough so there would be no misunderstanding. It is not the hearer’s or reader’s fault; it is the communicator’s fault for not being clear.
“Amen to that,” the OFs said.
Those attending the breakfast at the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg, and getting out on another cold day were: Steve Kelly, Roger Shafer, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Otis Lawyer, Jim Heiser, Chuck Aleseio, Roger Chapman, Miner Stevens, Bill Krause, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Frank Pauli, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Andy Tinning, Harold Grippen, Ted Willsey, Jim Rissacher, and me.