Not to belabor a point! #322 – 9/6/2016

If all the cars in the United States were placed end to end, it would probably be Labor Day Weekend.

Welcome everyone to Drivel Over Coffee, the blog; the musings, the memories and the whatnot infused with the earthy aroma of French Roast Coffee with a dose of rant mixed in on occasion. My blog is my take on “Life As Seen Through Dog Licked Glasses.”

Saturday was Iowa Hawkeye Football season opener. I usually refrain from going to the games anymore. It is hard to get up and down the stairs, crowds bother me, someone has to babysit some dogs, and I became disillusioned with the machine that runs the games having dealt with them for many years. I had the pugs plus Murphy to babysit anyway. Oh my gosh, these animals did not rest at all while they were at my house. In and out of the house and backyard 50 times or so. They wore me out. Murphy collapsed in a deep slumber within 3 minutes of the pugs leaving. Oh, Iowa won by the way.

We had breakfast 2 weeks ago at one of our favorite hangouts – Willey’s. We go there so often the waitress knows our usual orders and beverages by heart. That is neat. She brought our checks over when we were almost done. She handed the others their check. I asked for mine. She said another couple had paid for my breakfast including my current wife’s meal. They wanted to thank me for my service. Stunned, I was at a loss for words. That was the kindest gesture I had received. Sure makes one feel good. Helps to reduce the level of bitterness pent up from our return from Vietnam.

Remember, there are 22 veteran suicides a day. I think the VA is trying to wait until the number of veterans get down to a more manageable number for treatment.

Musings – Digestion. Ever wondered how your stomach decides what becomes a #1 and a #2? We drink and eat but it all goes down the same pipe. Somewhere down there during digestion a decision has to be made. Who makes this decision? How is it made? How does it get separated? Inquiring minds want to know.

IMG_2061aOur fantasy football league had their draft at our house on Monday. Jenny, the Iowa elder, used technology to hook up league members in Florida and Colorado so the draft could proceed in real time. Naturally, there is an entry fee. I also owed some money for our Big Brother pool. I got $2 bucks out for the Big Brother and the entry fee when I began to wonder just where these bills have been. Ever wondered that? I hope these dollar bills didn’t reside in the G-string of a stripper or in a pouch of a drug dealer. Kind of made me a little uneasy with the thoughts of where these bills had been. I probably should wash them.

Memories – I was remembering on this Labor Day weekend how I was so glad that school had started again. Training had already started for the sports teams with grueling workouts. Those of us who worked during the summer on the farm where in great shape to begin with so the workouts didn’t bother us too much. The poor city kids who laid out at the pool all summer found out that sunning didn’t build their aerobic or cardio stamina.

The summer for me in high school amounted to baling hay and shelling corn just about every day of the summer. Baling hay amounted to a guy driving a tractor pulling a hay baler machine. The machine would crunch up the alfalfa into a rectangular bale and tie it up with either 2 strands of twine or 2 strands of baling wire. The subsequent bale would be ejected from the rear of the machine up to a hay rack being pulled behind it.

There were usually 2 or maybe 3 guys on the hay rack who took these bales and stacked them on the rack in specific patterns that tied them together to prevent them from falling off. Usually the 50 – 70 lb. bales would be stacked at least 4 rows high but more often 5 rows. Each bale would be thrown by hand up to the row being built. That really worked your muscles. I usually worked on the hay rack.

I was working for my best friend’s dad one day. Mid-afternoon it was a custom that the field crew would take a 15-20 minute break. The wife would usually bring out sandwiches and ice cold water, iced tea, lemonade or something. This day however the beverage was beer. Yes, beer. I was like 16 years old and had never tasted this stuff. The day was really hot and sweat was rolling pretty good. I didn’t want to seem to embarrass myself so I took one along with everyone else. I was naively afraid that I was going to get drunk. I took a big swig and choked the swill down. I knew at that moment beer was not going to be a big part of my life. I got past that first swallow and the rest went down smoothly. Smooth enough that I had 2 cans. To my surprise, I didn’t feel anything. They told me that I would sweat out the alcohol and never feel the effects. Still I didn’t want anymore.

When not baling hay, I was shelling corn. In my day, corn was harvested using a corn picker. The machine would strip the ear of corn from the stalk. The ear would ride up an elevator and fall into a wagon being pulled behind. A wagon load of corn would be brought into the farmstead and emptied into the corn crib using another elevator. Normally, in the summer, the farmer would sell his corn to an elevator in town. The elevator in town required the corn cobs be removed. This is where a corn Sheller came into the picture. A series of conveyors were connected to this big machine that stripped the kernels from the cob and put them in a truck.

I was working for the father of the best man in my wedding. We would have to use a variety of tools to get these ears of corn out of the crib and into the conveyor. It was hard work. You always had to keep your eye open for mice, rats and bumble bee nests in the corn. The rats gave me the creeps. As luck would have it we had a break. A full truck left and we were waiting for an empty one. Boys being boys, my best man and I got to horsing around ending up in a wrestling match. The farmers got a big kick out of that. I finally got on top. Raising my arms in victory, I didn’t see a truck driver come up behind me. He was carrying a device called a “cattle prod”. This device was a tubular device about 2 ½ to 3 feet long. It had a handle on one end and a dull pointed metal at the other end. This device, as the name implies, was designed to prod cattle and hogs into a truck.

7043-Bainbridge-Livestock-Prod-138cm-Overall-Non-Rechargeable Inside the tube were 9, I think, Hot Shot Batteries. These batteries have the power of 4 or 5 “D” cells each. Like I said, unbeknownst to me, he sneaked up behind me. He turned the prod on, raised it up, and gave cattleprod.jpgme a shot right where I normally sit down. The combination of pain in my butt and the surprise of being shocked sent me straight up in the air about 6 feet or so. That sent the farmers into a raucous laughing fit. Eventually, we got back to work. I was hobbled a bit by the lingering pain, whether real or imagined. Never turned my back on a trucker ever again.

What-Nots –The Milo’s deli that is 2 doors down from my blog writing coffee shop has closed. I was stunned. I had eaten in there just last week. Who knew? In the same vein, I stopped at my McDonald’s here on Williams Blvd in the City of Five Smells. Lordly, it was closed too. I didn’t know McDonald’s ever closed a restaurant. Again, I murmured “who knew?” just after a rather extended string of colorful utterances. Good thing I was alone.

Honestly, I don’t really know what is going on with Jimmy’s Grill & Bait Shop. It goes from a nice quiet spot along the Cedar River to being swarmed over by Feds of one kind or another to a quiet spot once again. Some say a donation to some “charitable” foundation made the heat go away. Now I have heard that Jimmy has plans to build downtown. Specifically, he has his eyes on what was once the proposed casino property. I have heard all sorts of things this past week. The Old Farts Coffee Klatch has been abuzz with everything from a Country Jamboree & Waterpark to a multi-level geese shooting complex and a Yogi Bear Camp Ground. Perhaps a combination of all. I can’t decipher what is true, if any of it. Tater’s wife came home talking about a proposed petting zoo featuring geese, possum, raccoons, otters and the standard barnyard animals. Her cousin was talking about an upscale country buffet targeting the refined palettes of fine diners in the downtown area.

Speaking of barnyard animals, my current wife and I had been arguing all day. We had tickets to a play in the Amanas. She asked me what I looked for in a relationship. “A way out” was not the right answer. We continued to argue on the way. We passed a farm with a herd of jackasses. My current wife pipes and says, “Relatives of your?” I snapped back, “Yep in-laws.” Silence settled in.

For all of my raccoon lovers out there, below is a recipe you will absolutely have to try.
1 raccoon
1/2 c. cracker crumbs
1/2 c. ground onion
1 1/2 tbsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 eggs
1/4 tsp. thyme
1 c. evaporated milk
Clean raccoon (be sure to remove all road debris) and remove fat. Cut meat off the bones and run through a food grinder. Add the crumbs, onions, salt, pepper, beaten eggs, thyme and milk and mix well. Put into a meat loaf pan, set in a pan of hot water and bake in a moderate oven, 350 degrees for 1 3/4 hours. 8 servings.

The 2017 Farmers’ Almanac forewarns that exceptionally cold, if not downright frigid weather will predominate over parts of the Northern Plains, Great Lakes, Midwest, Ohio Valley, the Middle Atlantic, Northeast, and New England this winter. The Farmers’ Almanac’s long-range weather predictions also suggest shots of very cold weather will periodically reach as far south as Florida and the Gulf Coast.

In contrast, milder-than-normal temperatures will prevail over the Western States.

Get the snow blowers ready in the East and umbrellas in the West! An active storm track will deliver above-normal precipitation to the Southeast, Northeast and New England states throughout most of the winter, especially February (see above!). In addition, another active storm track from the Pacific will deliver a dose of above-normal precipitation across the Western States. Meanwhile, near or below-normal precipitation will cover the nation’s midsection.

“It’s not that I can and others can’t, it’s I did and others didn’t.” Remember your Vietnam Veterans – All gave some, some gave all!! Bless you brothers!

If I can make at least one-person smile, or laugh till they leak, then my day was not wasted. Until we meet again -TA!