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Kathy Barnette, American icon

US Senate candidate Kathy Barnette is one of my fellow America First conservative activists who GOPe scum sneer at because we run impossible political campaigns at great personal expense, just to move the ball down the field a foot or two. And like a lot of other grass roots voters, among other reasons I like her for her risk taking and sacrifice on our behalf.

In 2009 I ran in a congressional primary in a four-pack of candidates. This was at the very beginning of the Tea Party movement. I was politely asked to not run by a Republican state senator who ended up running and barely winning the primary race himself (then he was crushed in November by the incumbent Democrat), as well as by a significant Pennsylvania GOPe donor and by the PAGOP chairman. I burned some bridges by staying in the race, and I did very OK in the end.

In 2012 I ran for PA state senate, and at the last minute the PAGOP gerrymandered me out of my own 15th state senate district. The then-Republican-led PA Supreme Court threw out the gerrymander plan, citing my situation (the justices called it an “iron cross designed to keep someone in particular from running for this senate seat”), and so I was back in the race with just days to get on the ballot. Then the PAGOP ran another candidate in addition to me and their chosen one, in order to dilute the vote. Their second candidate was a long-time sitting elected official. The PAGOP plan worked, and the “very moderate” chosen candidate won with 43% of the vote, while I had a very respectable second place. I think we spent about ten thousand dollars, while the GOPe candidate spent $300,000 and the GOPe candidate #2 spent $34,000.

The PAGOP “very moderate” candidate who won that Republican primary nomination went on to be utterly crushed by a liberal Democrat in a Republican +10% district. So much for the PAGOP and GOPe regular RINO program working out. This is why so many grass roots conservatives no longer trust the GOPe or PAGOP to find good candidates.

I ran for that state senate seat again in 2015, and again it was me versus the moderate PAGOP candidate. So a third candidate was selected to dilute the vote and help the moderate win. That race ended in November 2015 when I fell during a bear hunt high up on a northcentral Pennsylvania mountaintop and wrecked my knee, requiring two back-to-back surgeries so I could walk again. The moderate Republican won that primary and beat the liberal Democrat the following November, and has been a mostly do-nothing, know-nothing bench warmer ever since. It depresses me to think of what might have been, might have been achieved, had we gotten a conservative in this seat…

…anyhow, I can relate to Kathy Barnette, because I, too, have personally risked and sacrificed a great deal to do my own best to steer political outcomes in the right direction. She has my total respect and support.

Fast forward to today, and warrior princess Kathy Barnette is being criticized for having lost her congressional race in liberal Montgomery County several years ago. In a district that is Democrat +25%, conservative Barnette ran anyhow, just to stir things up. How many of the anti-Barnette sneering weenies in the PAGOP have ever risked anything, or sacrificed anything, like she did, for the good of the cause?

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Someone GOPe just did a laughably dishonest and fake video about Barnette that was shown on TV, where one-second snippets of her various speeches were sloppily combined to make her sound like she supports Black Lives Matter (she doesn’t), hates police (she doesn’t), and hates white people (she doesn’t).

In every case Barnette was actually saying exactly the opposite of what is claimed in the fake video: That she does not support BLM, which she called “parasitic,” and she does support the police and does not support defunding the police, and that she opposes anti-white racism. Etc.

A reporter named Jack Posobiec has posted a video on Rumble where he exposes each of these lies about Barnette. Posobiec also posted a video about how he has combed through over 1,300 of Dr. Mehmet Cengiz Oz’s TV appearances over decades, and has found ZERO pro-America or even conservative content of any sort, cultural or political.

Dr. Oz:

  • served in the Turkish armed forces, while Barnette served in the US Army Reserve
  • voted in Turkey in 2018, while Barnette votes in her home nation of America
  • holds dual citizenship with Turkey and America… a huge conflict of interest; Barnette is just a plain ol’ American citizen
  • is a long-time Hollywood liberal who suddenly discovered the GOP when he decided to buy a senate seat in a state he does not live in
  • lives in New Jersey, not PA, unlike Barnette, who actually lives in PA
  • supports hormone blockers for little boys and transexualism/ transgenderism for little children
  • supports anti-gun rights “red flag” laws, whereas Barnette is endorsed by Gun Owners of America
  • Barnette is endorsed by US Senator Joni Ernst, General Mike Flynn, Susan B. Anthony List, and a long laundry list of other conservative organizations and individuals

Two other criticisms of Barnette do have a smidgeon of relevance, but are easily dismissed.

One is that she is “anti gay,” which is a dishonest way to characterize Barnette’s support for a Christian baker who did not want the government to force him to bake a cake for a gay wedding. And Barnette correctly points out that what began as an understandable cry for fair treatment by the gay community has turned into a relentless demand for absolute endorsement of homosexual behavior, with heavy punishment for dissenters. Americans and humans everywhere have a right to their own beliefs, and a right to be left alone, and a right to say they are uncomfortable with other people’s sex lives. Barnette was correct in her position on this.

The other claim is that Barnette is “anti Islam,” which is yet again a dishonest way of reporting that Barnette wants the same kind of public debate about public policy issues surrounding Islam in America as Islamic groups demand about Christians, Jews, and pro-Israel groups in America. Barnette correctly points out that if it’s OK for Islam and Muslims to criticize people for their religious views, then it is fair for those same people to similarly criticize and question Islam and Muslims for their religious views. Fair is fair, equal is equal. This is not difficult to understand or to support. Every fair-minded person should support Barnette on these issues.

In short, Kathy Barnette is right over the target, she is poised to win and upset many years of RINO planning, and the bullcrap flak is coming in heavy, from the GOPe and the PAGOP and the RINOs. I have no way of knowing if Barnette will win next week, but if she does, it will probably be by a couple thousand votes. And if she loses, it will probably be by a few hundred votes.

Everyone who loves a free constitutional America must absolutely vote for Kathy Barnette, an American icon of bravery and selfless sacrifice.

p.s. Candidate Dave McCormick is a World Economic Forum member and a serial RINO from Connecticut. I keep getting emails from him claiming he is pro-2A, but then why did Barnette get endorsed by GOA? Turns out McCormick did not even bother to answer the GOA candidate survey… what an arrogant man.

One thing Rush Limbaugh got right

Radio host Rush Limbaugh died a year ago, and people who enjoyed his show or his books are remembering him today. I am remembering him for two reasons. First, for his zig-zag career path and conventional/unconventional life path. Second, for a single political prediction he made in 2019 that was labeled “outrageous” and “dangerous” by his opponents, and which even raised a lot of eyebrows amid his supporters, but which has proven to be spookily prescient and 100% accurate.

First with number one.

Rush Limbaugh’s successful life path and career path are things worth studying, because so many Americans have been corralled into falsely believing your career must be, should be a straight and linear path forward. Even though that is just not correct, and in many cases it’s not healthy.

You know, graduate from high school, then go to college and spend an inordinate amount of money to be indoctrinated in nonsense and useless hokum, with the hope of getting a college diploma that “proves” you are smart and capable of making decisions. I don’t know if this linear career path idea is a natural result of the old guild mentality, where a son or daughter would apprentice in a particular guild (plumber, wood worker, watch maker, gun maker, horse carriage maker etc.), and then either take over his or her father’s work shop, or go start their own work shop/ atelier in some distant locale doing the same work. In truth, this guild and apprencticeship process offers a lot of value, not just three hundred years ago, but even today. It assures that young people go into work they enjoy, and that they are well trained when they are released unto the world as a certified expert. It also gives people a good income in what had been a feudal world of poor serfs and ultra-wealthy aristocrats.

But this guild approach to career saw its last vestiges swept away with the end of high school Shop Class and Vo-Tech programs that actually taught Americans how to do needed things of value.

And so Rush Limbaugh followed his own path in the radio world, and ended up being the most successful and well-known radio personality in radio history. His success did not happen in a linear way, but quite the opposite. He had to find his way. His stories about his first few jobs in radio, and about being fired by different types of radio managers for different kinds of real or imaginary infractions, and moving across the country several times to take radio jobs, are useful examples to those just now entering the work force or who are stultifying in old jobs.

Only after failing, or growing as it might be euphemistically called, did Limbaugh eventually get to sit behind the Golden EIB Microphone. It was his initial failures and zig-zags that eventually created his character and inner strength, his skills and abilities.

Lessons that Limbaugh learned were be yourself, be honest and forthright, work hard, take risks, make some sacrifices, and if you end up doing what you enjoy the most, then you will often be rewarded with material success and deep personal happiness. And as we well know, contentment is its own form of wealth (and as some of us know, there are a lot of very wealthy people who are also desperately unhappy and often cruelly, even destructively negative, to those around them), so becoming a high school shop teacher earning forty five thousand dollars a year may make you deeply content with your life, but your life partner is going to have to work, too.

But there is no such a thing as high school shop class these days….one should wonder Why…that is a separate issue.

Similarly, his personal life resulted in a strong and committed marriage to a woman, Kathryn, only after the two of them had been friends for many years. How rewarding it is to be married to both your lover and your best friend. That is the pinnacle of relationships, and Limbaugh’s marriage should serve as a useful template for others contemplating marriage themselves. Find a friend, and marry them.

Now about that crazy prediction Limbaugh made in 2019, the one thing he got right that at first sounded so outlandish and impossible…I remember shaking my head when he said that “the Democrat Party will seek a way to eliminate elections so that they can become the dominant and sole political force in America.”

“I don’t know how they are going to do it, but they are working on it,” Limbaugh said. “Oh, they will allow the trappings of elections, but they won’t be meaningful or fair.”

And I was not alone in my skepticism at such a huge claim. Many observers and listeners to Limbaugh’s radio program openly said that he was just being bombastic for the sake of poking his political opponents. No one in American politics could ever want to eliminate elections, the bedrock foundation of our constitutional republic, right?, we naively thought.

And yet Limbaugh stuck to this public claim several times more, and in the end he was proven correct with the stolen 2020 election, and the Democrat Party’s all-out hyperdrive to convert that theft into absolute iron control of Americans by any means necessary, including the federalization of elections and permanence of vote fraud activity.

It turned out that Limbaugh really did understand the Democrat Party and the American Left better than anyone else outside of those two movements. What is amazing is that the subject of his analysis, the Democrat Party, now makes no effort to hide its totalitarian ambitions. Everywhere American citizens have demanded audits of the voting machines or the ballots cast in the fraudulent 2020 election, they have been met with deviousness, rude defiance, threats, blocking lawsuits, and outright ballot-shredding skulduggery by the Democrat Party and its Republican Party enablers.

This is not the behavior of people committed to open and accountable elections, but rather the actions of the desperate and dangerous thief trying to keep his theft from becoming widespread knowledge.

America as a continuing constitutional republic is in huge trouble. Most of our institutions are overthrown and taken over by leftist activists, who then bend those cultural and political institutions against the American constitution and the rule of law. Rush Limbaugh was so deep into the political fray that like a champion prize fighter, he saw where his opponent’s next punch sequence was going to come from.

What is amazing is that the Republican Party still, even now, behaves like an amazed ringside commentator asking incredulously at the end of the fight how the champion prize fighter ever saw the attack coming and not only beat it back, but managed to land his own blows in order to win the fight. This just goes to show just how outside the political fray the Republican Party is; the GOP is barely an observer much less an actual participant in American politics.

We need Rush Limbaugh’s insights more than ever now, but he is somewhere else, and so the only bit of related wisdom or insight I can scrape up at this point is to say We must all be Rush Limbaughs, and each of us fearlessly stay in the fight for freedom and liberty.

And trust our gut instincts about our political opponents. Even if it seems like crazy talk to say that the Democrat Party or its Canadian political ally, Justin Trudeau, are hell bent on becoming absolutist totalitarian overlords. We must fight fight fight, or we lose everything.

Rush Limbaugh behind his EIB Golden Microphone, fighting for freedom and liberty. He knew politics better than most people and loved a constitutional America more than most

Limbaugh’s right-hand man, James Golden aka “Bo Snerdley” continues Limbaugh’s fight for liberty today

Today my head was designated a “Sanctuary Head” and I got a haircut as a form of civil disobedience

Today I got my hair cut in an establishment here in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. Our county opened today by a patriotic act of the county commissioners, Jeff Haste and Mike Pries, who are looking out for their citizens (see Jeff Haste’s letter to the citizens of Pennsylvania here).

My haircut stands as a symbol of #resistance to petty tyrant Governor Tom Wolf’s power-mad attempt to control free Pennsylvanians.

I also did this act of defiance under the totally illegal but patriotic self-designation of my head as a “Barbershop Sanctuary Head.”

While this act of civil disobedience happened in an actual barbershop and salon, the hair cutter informed me that she has been doing hair coloring and haircuts at private homes over the past month, wearing PPE and a mask as the client requires. I was her first “in-patient” at the establishment. Yes, like the free adults they are, people have been deciding for themselves what level of risk they are willing to engage in order to look presentable in public. Without Governor Wolf and his creature doctor telling us what to think, what to do.

Recall that Pennsylvania is under a draconian “lockdown order” issued by the governor. Basically you can’t go pee without the government telling you to go.

In response to Dauphin County opening up, petty tyrant Governor Tom Wolf went on a tantrum tirade of threats: Businesses that open without his OK will have their state licenses pulled, and insurance companies will be notified or damaged, and federal aid will be withheld, and so on.

If you don’t listen to Tyrant Wolf, he will do everything he can to harm you, much more than the virus ever could. Governor Wolf demands that you listen to him and obey him! His threats over compliance are arguably worse than the risks he says we incur by not following his dictates. Wolf has gone overboard after already going overboard. The guy is drunk on power.

Governor Wolf is like all of the other liberal governors in America right now: Might makes right, the full coercive force of government will be brought down on the now-shorn head of anyone who dares to challenge him, you will be punished for daring to act like a free person. None of this covid19 policy stuff is about public health any longer. It is purely about power, and a rather unconstitutional, un-American power at that.

Petty tyrants like Tom Wolf just don’t realize what stuff Americans are made of. He doesn’t realize he inspired me to do this. I pulled a liberal trick out of my hat, and by unilaterally declaring my head to be a Barbershop Sanctuary Head, I have automatically blocked government from doing anything to my head. Because, you know, for years sanctuary cities and states have been releasing from jail all violent illegal alien felons, but recently locking up law-abiding citizens out for a walk while again releasing yet more violent felons from prison, because of covid19. It all made so much sense…

So now my own sanctuary head is off-limits to Governor Tom Wolf. I am sure he will understand.

Two months of hair growth on my head resulted in a pile of wool-like sheep-shearings. Sad that this pile of hair is now an act of defiance, resistance, and civil disobedience in America.

 

 

 

Rural & Urban People Experience the Virus Differently

Rural and urban people are experiencing the covid19 CCP virus differently. And this means they each experience the various governors’ approaches to it differently, too. Chinese Flu policies impact rural and urban people differently.

In rural America, like Clinton County and Lycoming County here in Pennsylvania, life is still pretty much going on, not quite like normal, but fairly close to normal. The perceived risk from Wuhan covid19 Flu is low. This is because the rural peoples’ observations are not squaring up with what they are being told from their state capital. Rural people are not seeing up close and personal the disruptive chaos and death that is so pervasive in places like New York City and Philadelphia. So their behavior is different.

For weeks the Lowes in Mill Hall, PA, has been standing-room-only parking on the weekends, as local people shop for gardening supplies. Likewise the other nearby big box stores and small hardware stores are also full of people attending to their needs. Life is going on, albeit with some face masks and people clearly trying to steer clear of one another in shopping aisles. The Wegmans in Williamsport, PA, was full of shoppers the last time I was there, and the shelves were mostly well stocked. Notes about limits per customer are placed in all the usual places – TP, canned tuna, milk, bread. Ladies at the checkout are quite tough and firm about shoppers abiding by these limits, and everyone seems to be getting along just fine.

Elsewhere in rural PA are drive-in church services, food takeout, maybe some bonfires with chairs set apart, but still lots of chairs, nonetheless.

Actual Risk vs. Perceived Risk vs. Government Policy

At the heart of this lifestyle difference between rural and urban people is the difference they have over perceived risk, actual risk, and what the government policy says.

When rural people look around and see none of the catastrophic chaos engulfing New York City, they begin to ask simple and necessary questions about the actual risk of the China Flu to them. The actual risk, not the suggested hype or irrational fear stay-the-f#k-at-home perceived risk that is being breathlessly communicated by the cable outlets every minute. Without bodies stacked high, without lots of people becoming obviously sick from the CCP Chinese Flu, and with local health providers like hospitals and clinics operating as normal, rural people begin to question the value and necessity of the government policy that tells them their Constitutional rights must be suspended.

They then begin to question the value and purpose of their own government.

When we hear about the over-reach in places like Kentucky and Michigan, whose governors are literally demanding that people cower in their homes or else face huge overwhelming coercive force and jail time, it is natural for Americans to ask not just what is the value of these policies, but why can’t we have real policies that are tailored to the realities that each community faces. The potential risks of Wuhan Flu are just not the same everywhere.

Rural areas have more room and space between people, fewer people, less congestion, and a lot lot lot less exposure AND a lot less actual risk. Government policies need to reflect these realities. Blanket one-size-does-not-fit-all policies serve no real health purpose. Instead, no matter how well intentioned the governor may be, these blanket policies that are the same in Philadelphia as they are in Lock Haven, PA, make everyone equally miserable, damage all businesses equally, regardless of the health outcomes.

At the end of the day, government action must both balance risks with costs and benefits, while also safeguarding the citizenry’s sacred Constitutional rights. To date, very few states have done this. Instead, almost every state has treated low-risk rural areas the same as high-risk congested urban areas, and hit them all with the same heavy hammer. This makes the whole covid19 reaction thing seem awfully fishy.

Rush Limbaugh

The other day I was driving up I-95 though New Jersey, destination Manhattan, listening to Rush Limbaugh on the radio. The usual analysis of recent events – Nanshee Peloshee’s failed political attack on the American president, the Democrat Party’s disarray of socialist presidential candidates, each trying harder than the other to give away more American taxpayer money to buy votes than the other, the SuperBowl result.

And Rush’s voice was gravelly, something new. Over the past year he has been complaining about having a cold, or a hairball, or whatever stuck in his throat. And over the past year he has taken off more time than usual. Usually that kind of time away indicates a change, usually due to burnout. But Rush would return to the golden EIB microphone and pick right up where he left off, with great energy and clarity. So no, his absences were not attributable to doing the same damned job over three decades.

And then, nearly at the end of the three-hour show, matter-of-factly Rush simply stated that he has been diagnosed with advanced lung cancer, which later on was disclosed to be stage four, which is highly advanced.

Now if there is one symbol of this iconic man’s persona, it is his cigar. Limbaugh enjoys a cigar, and has posed with cigars on the covers of magazines. Promoting, much less admitting to using tobacco these days is the ultimate rebellion, the strongest anti-political correctness statement one can make. Let’s just say, waving a lit cigar about in one’s hand these days gets a lot more attention and dis-approbation than a hairy man putting on scanty lady’s clothes and accoutrements and wobbling up and down a public street in high heels.

Limbaugh has used his cigars as the ultimate rejection of PC nanny state over-reach, to the point where he occasionally almost sounded flippant about the potential health risks.

And while tobacco can and should be enjoyed occasionally – a pipe with a bowlful of cherry Cavendish, a cigarillo, a Dutch Masters or Swisher Sweets mini-cigar, its constant use is anything but innocent. Because the constant use of tobacco products really does damage the human body. Nothing new here to science or human knowledge.

So while Limbaugh may have shared one thing in common with president Bill Clinton, the non-inhalation of lit smoking products, the fact is that cigars put off a huge amount of smoke that, unless one is outside or in a highly ventilated indoor space, is going to certainly invade one’s lungs. Apparently Rush’s lungs were invaded by copious amounts of heavy cigar smoke, despite his not inhaling.

Last night at the State of the Union speech by President Donald J. Trump, Rush Limbaugh received the Medal of Freedom from the hands of First Lady Melania Trump. Rush was obviously surprised that it occurred there and then, and his humility and emotion shone through like a giant airport beacon.

People who hold leftist views may disagree with or even hate Rush Limbaugh. But the level and pitch of their opposition to him is an equal representation of his effectiveness over the years. The first time I heard Rush Limbaugh on the radio was in my friend Kenny Gould’s car in Rockville, Maryland, in the spring of 1991.

“You gotta hear this guy, Josh. You gotta hear what he says. He’s amazing. He is so right. You should hear what he says about Bill Clinton; no one else in the media is saying it.”

And so Kenny turned on the AM radio to the Rush Limbaugh program, and I dutifully listened to what at first sounded like a chatterbox man talking and talking about political and cultural issues.

At the time I had started my first fully professional full time job as a policy staffer at the US EPA in Washington, DC. I disagreed with some of what Rush said that day, but I never forgot him. And years later, when I had discarded my anti-taxpayer job at the EPA like a piece of dog crap stuck to my shoe, because of my own observations and experiences, I had begun to understand just what this big voice on the radio was talking about.

And so tens of millions of other Americans have been educated and trained to think critically and analytically by Rush Limbaugh since that time, and as a result, he has had a tremendously out-size good effect on America.

First Lady Melania Trump placing the Presidential Medal of Freedom around Rush Limbaugh’s neck

More humility than some people might expect caused Rush to compose himself

Good luck to you, Mister Limbaugh. May you have a complete and easy recovery from your cancer. Please don’t be one of those guys puffing away through clouds of cigar smoke with the oxygen line stuck in your nostrils. That just will not do as a lasting image to your greatness. (…and to those who would never listen to Rush’s radio show, how can you say you disagree with him if you do not listen to what he says?…and to those who have openly rejoiced at Limbaugh’s health, you are exactly why he has needed a radio show in the first place, and why America listens to him)

Ooh-ooh, that smell

Dedicated readers of this site might wonder why we are not commenting about the lameness of a political party that filibusters everything in the US Senate, used “the nuclear option” themselves to advance the most radical and extreme federal judges and political appointees from 2010 to 2015, but which now is screaming bloody murder that the other political party followed their lead, did exactly what they did with the Senate rules, and allowed a simple majority vote to confirm the next US Supreme Court justice (Gorsuch) yesterday.

Why would a normal, healthy person spend time on that issue? It is obviously quite insane. One political party is dominated by people with an agenda that does not fit in with America’s political model. Would you normal people please stop supporting the Democrat Party, until its leadership is replaced with normal, mainstream Americans?

Instead, this essay here takes a line from a Lynyrd Skynyrd song about drug abuse, “Oooh-ooh that smell.”

This is about a daily personal health issue that seems to be unknown and unaddressed, despite having a real effect on Americans across the country. If you care about your health, read on.

We Americans are so addicted to cheap Chinese junk (tools, food, clothing, furniture, shoes, tires) that we shop ever more in big box stores filled to the brim with that cheap Chinese junk.  Or buy from Amazon, which imports from China by the shipful.

And when you enter the doorway of these big box stores, you are confronted with an odd, sickly sweet smell associated with the vast majority of Chinese manufacturing: Formaldehyde.

Formaldehyde is used to pickle human remains for wakes and open casket funerals. It is used to stash scientific specimens in glass containers, so they will not rot, so they can be viewed and studied.

Formaldehyde is dangerous, toxic, and both acutely and chronically dangerous. And yet Americans work around hugely elevated amounts of formaldehyde in these ubiquitous big box stores, and Americans shop daily in these same places, all blissfully unaware that they are inhaling a significant amount of nasty chemical.

The formaldehyde you smell in the store is off-gassing from the consumer items sitting in cardboard boxes on the store shelves. This chemical permeates everything made in China, and there is so much of it that for years it keeps leaking out of the plastics, fabrics, and woods sent here, which we then put in our homes and garages as furniture and tools.

You are worried about ambient cigarette smoke? Cut us a break! Exposure to air-borne formaldehyde in these amounts is far worse for the human body, far riskier than the occasional cigarette, as is standing on a street corner in down town Manhattan, waiting for a street light to change, for that matter, because of all the ozone, particulates, and sulfur/ carbon dioxide/monoxide smog.

But nothing is being done about ambient formaldehyde risk, because it is associated with too much money and economic activity. And it is invisible, except to the nose.

There are no sexy prohibitionist crusades about ambient formaldehyde like there is with tobacco use (an upcoming subject here).  And yet take a good whiff the next time you go to a big box store. That weird sickly sweet smell is formaldehyde. Your lungs are getting a free embalming when you enter.

Note: If we bought American products, made in USA facilities where formaldehyde is not allowed to be used, then we would not be exposed to it when we went shopping. But we are like drug addicts, addicted to cheap Chinese junk, to our own detriment.

Friends in low places

Several years ago several ambitious construction projects were begun, where the building material would come from our own oak trees on our property. Oak may not be the best or easiest building wood, because when it dries it is heavy and as hard as iron, and thus tough on tools and shoulders alike, but it is what we have there.

So oaks were cut, skidded, piled, and then milled in situ over about a five year period. An injury and subsequent surgery prevented me from continuing this remote effort, which then moved forward in fits and starts over several years. When we finally got around to completing the actual projects, much of that beautiful oak had been sitting out for a long time, and in some cases too long. After using up much of that oak lumber, a large amount yet remained in piles, where it had air dried.

Last week was my final drive to get under roof thousands of board feet of two-inch-thick oak boards, heavy beams, and smaller posts, before they started to rot. It was a lot of work. The unusual heat and blazing sun made the work go slower. One thing that surprised me was the absence of mice living in these outdoor piles. Normally mice run and scurry as the wood is moved, having nested among the boards in perfect little hidey holes.

The last pile of drying lumber was finally put away, with just a few boards remaining at the very end, butted up against a huge boulder that makes up part of a stone wall around the yard. As I dismounted the tractor, stepped over to the board ends, and reached down to grab them, a sound caught my attention.

It was a sound that set off primitive alarm bells in my brain.

At first it sounded like a cricket, and then a grasshopper, and then a second later my mind concluded it was a timber rattlesnake. After stepping back, well, let’s say it was an inelegant, well, ugly (it’s a big fat man jumping, after all) leap, minus my usual little girl scream that seems to accompany most of my unplanned and close-up rattlesnake encounters, I looked down.

A long black snake with a yellow diamond pattern was stretched out next to the boulder, about six inches from where my boot heel had settled moments before. The long grass against the boulder had concealed the snake from my eyes, which, frankly, had not looked there, but had rather been focused on the heavy boards, and how I was going to pick them up and manhandle them to their destination across the yard.

The snake’s angular head and erect tail with rattles confirmed it as a timber rattlesnake.

While it was not a huge male rattler, the likes of which I have caught and moved to safety off of roads and trails a number of times since I was a kid, it was nonetheless big enough to permanently remove a chunk of leg muscle. So I admired it for a minute, and then went on to other work elsewhere. When I returned an hour later, it was gone, though I thought I could see it coiled up right under the boulder’s edge. Instead of reaching down with my hands, I used the pallet forks on the tractor to pull out those last boards.

Over the course of the next two days, my mind kept replaying the encounter. In July 2001, when we had owned the property for seven months, DCNR forester Jim Hyland and I had scoured our property, as well as the adjoining State Forest and part of the adjoining private land, looking for rattlesnakes. That day we found a corn snake, a garter snake, a ring neck snake, and two green snakes. No sign of rattlesnakes among the rock and old slate quarries up high. Not even a shed skin.

So for sixteen years we had enjoyed our property without being mindful of rattlers. Our children had been born and raised around the cabin, running freely around the property. Sure, I spent a lot of time in our woods, a certified Tree Farm, and I have always been on the lookout for rattlesnakes, as well as other snakes, but I had seen few snakes at all, and never a rattler.

Snakes are awesome, they are awesomely cool creatures. I bear them no animosity whatsoever. In high school and college a pet boa constrictor kept me company, until she had grown so large that she was regularly breaking out of her cage and hunting our house cats. When I last saw her, she filled up one side of the man’s living room, and he regularly fed her rabbits and squirrels he trapped in his yard. She weighed about 150 pounds then, and was ten years old. I hugged her, but she just laid there, limp and dozing. Snakes…what can you do? Love em the best ya can.

And so now I am confronted with the fact that a potentially dangerous animal shares our camp with us. All around us we have seen rattlesnakes over the years, mostly run over by cars down on the highway, and increasingly I see them all over central and Northcentral Pennsylvania while cruising timber and looking at land. At some point I did expect them to join us as tenants of one sort at the cabin. Under the front porch is where I thought they would first show up, because it’s good cover and the mice like it there. Struggling emotionally to adjust to this new arrangement has not been painful, but it has been harder than I thought it would be.

The absence of mice under the wood piles reminded me why I accept and even welcome the presence of timber rattlesnakes, intellectually if not emotionally. Mice are a major pest, and they are destructive little bastards. Hearing them chirp and run inside the walls of the cabin at night, right next to my bed, is a source of aggravation. When they eat porch and barn furniture for nesting material, it is infuriating. They pee everywhere, and it stinks. We regularly trap them around the buildings and poison them inside the barn. Help reducing their numbers is most welcome, and anyone or anything that helps achieve that goal is a friend of mine.

Timber rattlers are beautiful to look at, and they are normally pretty docile, requiring a lot of pestering and rough handling to elicit a strike. But like all wild animals they are unpredictable, and the risk they pose to little kids playing outside is significant. Fortunately, our kids have reached ages where they can think carefully for themselves, consciously avoiding areas where rattlers would naturally congregate. And we now infrequently host families with little kids as guests, as most of our friends have kids the same ages as our own children, able to take guidance, if they are with their parents at all.

So the risks versus the benefits works out in our favor. The benefits of rattlers sharing our property are high, because they eat the hell out of mice. Rattlesnakes are my new friends, in low places, where they are needed most.

Welcome, friends.

 

The power of Dad

Call me patriarchal, but the power of “Dad” still awes me, as it has so deeply shaped all human cultures from our beginning.

At his best, Dad is provider, protector, guardian, best friend, guide, advisor, partner….Someone a boy looks up to all his life, wants to emulate, and shares his intimate life struggles with.

Dad is that one person you can always count on, no matter what. It’s a pretty potent symbol and subject. Everyone loves “Dad.”

Fatherhood is so powerful that it can be used to hurt, too, and some father figures don’t seem to recognize their own strength. Or worse, they revel in their ability to punish, or hurt, though that seems to be a dying breed these days.

Today in America, we celebrate the happy and hard working Dads out there who have busted their butts, hoed tough rows, sacrificed and taken risks for their families.

Heck, we see these Hollywood superhero movies and it’s impossible not to laugh. Reality is a lot more compelling!

Just getting our kids off to school on time in clean clothes with all their books and pencils is a real feat. Paying the bills? Now THAT is true hero stuff. It’s not easy. Parents and dads who pull that off are the real heroes, because without them, the wheels come off.

Here’s to the dads- three cheers.

Memorial Day, aka Thank You Day

How Americans came to take their success and security for granted is a mystery. It is also dangerous, because much was lost to gain what we now are giving away for free, as if it is ours to give away at all.

Our security belongs to future citizens.

Are so many of our citizens really eyeballs deep in TV entertainment, to the point where they ignore the real problems around us?

All of the happiness, wealth, success, security we enjoy are attributable to mostly men who risked and sacrificed their lives and limbs that the rest of us can BBQ in the back yard in peace.

Obama’s apology to Japan for the US winning the brutal war that Japan started is representative of the weak and shallow thinking dominant in America today. It passes for “thoughtful,” but it is disrespectful to our servicemen who sacrificed for us.

On Monday, Americans officially remember the many men, and a few women, who gave everything so that our daily lives can be enjoyed peacefully. I thank you, each and every one of you, for what you did for me and my family.

This weekend is devoted to those departed and wounded servicemen.

In their honor, fly the flag, or salute it, or have your family say the Pledge of Allegiance to our flag as part of our collective remembrance and thanks. These are tokens of respect and appreciation.

Thank you, dear departed

Memorial Day is a big deal in a Republic like America. Without the sacrifices and daily risks of our armed service personnel, America wouldn’t exist. Our daily freedoms and liberties would be replaced by fear of an all-encompassing government.

Thank you, dear departed.