How Cold Is It?

We wondered what the weather would be like out here before our move to the Massanutten Mountains. We were used to plenty of snow and cold weather having lived in the midwest our entire lives. Our last winter there we had around 100 inches of snow and it got down to 30 and 40 below quite often. People around here call it BRUTAL when it gets anywhere below the freezing mark. Our ground still isn’t frozen this winter. “How cold is it?” is a common question asked all over the country. A stock answer is “It’s cold enough to….(you fill in the rest).

In the heyday of sailing ships, all war ships and many freighters carried iron cannons. Those cannons fired round iron cannon balls. It was necessary to keep a good supply near the cannon. However, how to prevent them from rolling around the deck was the problem. The best storage method devised was a square-based pyramid with one ball on top, resting on four resting on nine, which rested on sixteen. Thus, a supply of 30 cannon balls could be stacked in a small area right next to the cannon. There was only one problem…how to prevent the bottom layer from sliding or rolling from under the others.

The solution was a metal plate called a ‘Monkey’ with 16 round indentations. However, if this plate was made of iron, the iron balls would quickly rust to it. The solution to the rusting problem was to make ‘Brass Monkeys.’ Few landlubbers realize that brass contracts much more and much faster than iron when chilled. Consequently, when the temperatures dropped too far, the brass indentations would shrink so much that the iron cannonballs would come right off the monkey. Thus, it was quite literally, ‘Cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey.’ (All this time, you thought that was an improper expression, didn’t you?)

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Three Lessons Well Learned

Some Christmas letters are more interesting than others. I received one of those this week. I taught with Gunther for many years in South Dakota. He managed a co-operative in Minnesota, don’t ya know, before moving to Watertown and a teaching career. He started a cattle operation somewhere along the line to occupy his spare time and has become a well known and respected resident of that area. Like the majority of South Dakota voters, one has to question just how much common sense he has. Luckily, he is on the conservative side although some may say he is tight. If fact, when he sprung for a new pickup some years back he became physically sick for three days and missed school. It’s important to know his love for money and the reluctance to spend any of it because he will never do what he learned concerning people who go deer hunting. Here is the interesting part of his letter-

I had the idea that I could rope a deer, put it in a stall, feed it up on corn for a couple of weeks, then kill it and eat it. The first step in this adventure was getting a deer. I figured that, since they congregate at my cattle feeder and do not seem to have much fear of me when we are there (a bold one will sometimes come right up and sniff the bags of cattle feed while I am in the back of the truck not 4 feet away), it should not be difficult to rope one, get to it and toss a bag over its head (to calm it down) then hog tie it and transport it to the shed.

I filled the cattle feeder then hid at the end with my rope. The cattle, having seen the roping trick before, stayed well back. They were not having any of it. After about 20 minutes, my deer showed up– 3 of them. I picked out a likely looking one, stepped out from the end of the feeder, and threw my rope. The deer just stood there and stared at me. I wrapped the rope around my waist and twisted the end so I would have a good hold..

The deer just stood and stared at me, but you could tell it was mildly concerned about the whole rope situation. I took a step towards it, it took a step away. I put a little tension on the rope.., and then received an education. The first thing that I learned is that, while a deer may just stand there looking funny at you while you rope it, they are spurred to action when you start pulling on that rope.

The deer EXPLODED. The second thing I learned is that pound for pound, a deer is a LOT stronger than a cow or calf. A cow or calf in that weight range I could fight down with a rope and with some dignity. A deer– no Chance. That thing ran and bucked and twisted and pulled. There was no controlling it and certainly no getting close to it. As it jerked me off my feet and started dragging me across the ground, it occurred to me that having a deer on a rope was not nearly as good an idea as I had originally imagined. The only upside is that they do not have as much stamina as many other animals.

A brief 10 minutes later, it was tired and not nearly as quick to jerk me off my feet when I managed to get up. It took me a few minutes to realize this, since I was mostly blinded by the blood flowing out of the big gash in my head. At that point, I had lost my taste for corn-fed venison. I just wanted to get that devil creature off the end of that rope.

I figured if I just let it go with the rope hanging around its neck, it would likely die slow and painfully somewhere. At the time, there was no love at all between me and that deer. At that moment, I hated the thing, and I would venture a guess that the feeling was mutual. Despite the gash in my head and the several large knots where I had cleverly arrested the deer’s momentum by bracing my head against various large rocks as it dragged me across the ground. I could still think clearly enough to recognize that there was a small chance that i shared some tiny amount of responsibility for the situation we were in. I didn’t want the deer to have to suffer a slow death, so I managed to get it lined back up in between my truck and the feeder – a little trap that I had set before hand.. kind of like a squeeze chute. I got it to back in there and I started to move up so I could get my rope back.

Did you know that deer bite? They do! I never in a million years would have thought that a deer would bite somebody, so I was very surprised when I reached up there to grab that rope and the deer grabbed hold of my wrist. Now, when a deer bites you, it is not like being bitten by a horse where they just bite you and slide off to then let go. A deer bites you and shakes its head– almost like a pit bull. They bite HARD and it hurts.

The proper thing to do when a deer bites you is probably to freeze and draw back slowly. I tried screaming and shaking instead. My method was ineffective.

It seems like the deer was biting and shaking for several minutes, but it was likely only several seconds. I, being smarter than a deer (though you may be questioning that claim by now), tricked it. While I kept it busy tearing the tendons out of my right arm, I reached up with my left hand and pulled that rope loose.

That was when I got my final lesson in deer behavior for the day.

Deer will strike at you with their front feet. They rear right up on their back feet and strike about head and shoulder level, and their hooves are surprisingly sharp… I learned a long time ago that, when an animal-like a horse– strikes at you with their hooves and you can’t get away easily, the best thing to do is try to make a loud noise and make an aggressive move toward the animal. This will usually cause them to back down a bit so you can escape.

This was not a horse. This was a deer, so obviously, such trickery would not work. In the course of a millisecond, I devised a different strategy. I screamed like a woman and tried to turn and run. The reason I had always been told NOT to try to turn and run from a horse that paws at you is that there is a good chance that it will hit you in the back of the head. Deer may not be so different from the horses after all, besides being twice as strong and 3 times as evil, because the second I turned to run, it hit me right in the back of the head and knocked me down.

Now, when a deer paws at you and knocks you down, it does not immediately leave. I suspect it does not recognize that the danger has passed. What they do instead is paw your back and jump up and down on you while you are laying and crying like a little girl and covering your head.

I finally managed to crawl under the truck and the deer went away. So now I know why when people go deer hunting they bring a rifle with a scope…. to sort of even the odds!! All these events are true so help me God…

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Pets vs. Kids

It took me quite a few years to figure this one out. Dogs and cats are better than kids because:

1) they eat less,

2) they don’t ask for money all the time,

3) they are easier to train,

4) they normally come when called,

5) they never ask to drive the car,

6) they don’t want to wear your clothes,

7) they don’t smoke or drink,

8) they don’t have to buy the latest fashions,

9) they don’t need a gazillion dollars for college and

10) if they get pregnant, you can sell their children.

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Self CPR

What are you to do if you have a heart attack while you are alone? The Johnson City Medical Center (Johnson City, Tennessee) staff actually discovered this and did an in-depth study of it in their ICU. The two individuals that discovered this then did an article on it and had it published and have had it incorporated into ACLS and CPR classes. It is called cough CPR. A cardiologist says it’s the truth if everybody who reads this will pass it on to 10 people, you can bet that will save at least one life. It could be your life!

You’re really tired, upset and frustrated. Suddenly you start experiencing severe pain in your chest that radiates out into your arm and up into your jaw. You are only about five miles from the hospital nearest your home. Unfortunately, you don’t know if you’ll be able to make it that far. What can you do? You’ve been trained in CPR but the guy or gal that taught the course didn’t tell you what to do if this happened to yourself.

Since many people are alone when they suffer a heart attack, this article seemed to be in order. Without help, the person whose heart is beating improperly and who begins to feel faint, has only about 10 seconds left before losing consciousness.

However, these victims can help themselves by coughing repeatedly and very vigorously. A deep breath should be taken before each cough, and the cough must be deep and prolonged, as when producing sputum from deep inside the chest. A breath and a cough must be repeated about every 2 seconds without let up until help arrives, or until the heart is felt to be beating normally again.

Deep breaths get oxygen into the lungs and coughing movements squeeze the heart and keep the blood circulating. The squeezing pressure on the heart also helps it regain normal rhythm. In this way, heart attack victims can get to a hospital.

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Mustard Sauce for Ham

This recipe might be to late for your ham tonight, but tuck it away and use it next time you bake a ham. It’s delicious when used as a sauce for the ham.

1 pint cream
1 1/2 cup sugar mixed well with the cream
4 level Tbsp. dry mustard
2 rounded Tbsp. corn starch mixed with the dry mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
2 egg yolks
1 cup diluted vinegar (1/3 c. water and 2/3 c. vinegar)

Mix all ingredients together and cook over low heat. It burns easily so stir constantly. Heat and stir to desired consistency. Do not scald mixture.

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It’s What You Scatter

I got this from a good friend last year and thought I’d pass it along tonight.

It’s What You Scatter

I was at a corner grocery store buying some early potatoes…I noticed a small boy, delicate of bone and feature, ragged but clean, hungrily appraising a basket of freshly picked green peas. I paid for my potatoes but was also drawn to the display of fresh green peas. I am a pushover for creamed peas and new potatoes.

Pondering the peas, I couldn’t help overhearing the conversation between Mr. Miller (the store owner) and the ragged boy next to me.

‘Hello Barry, how are you today?’
‘H’lo, Mr. Miller. Fine, thank ya. Jus’ admirin’ them peas. They sure look good.’
‘They are good, Barry. How’s your Ma?’
‘Fine. Gittin stronger alla’ time.’
‘Good. anything I can help you with?’
‘No, Sir. Jus’ admirin’ them peas.’
‘Would you like to take some home?’ asked Mr.Miller.
‘No, sir. Got nuthin to pay for ’em with.’
‘Well, what have you got to trade me for some of those peas?’
‘All I got’s my prize marble here.’
‘Is that right? Let me see it.’ said Miller.
‘Here ’tis. she’s a dandy.’
‘I can see that. Hmm mmm, only thing is this one is blue and I sort of go for red. Do you have a red one like this at home?’ the store owner asked.
“Not zackley but almost.’
‘Tell you what…Take this sack of peas home with you and next trip this way let me look at that red marble.’ Mr. Miller told the boy.
‘Sure will. Thanks Mr, Miller.’

Mrs. Miller, who had been standing nearby, came over to help me. With a smile she said, ‘There are two other boys like him in our community, all three are in very poor circumstances. Jim just loves to bargain with them for peas, apples, tomatoes, or whatever. When they come back with their red marbles, and they always do, he decides he doesn’t like red after all and he sends them home with a bag of produce for a green marble or an orange one, when they come back on their next trip to the store.’

I left the store smiling to myself, impressed with this man. A short time later I moved to Colorado, but I never forgot the story of this man, the boys, and their bartering for marbles.

Several years went by, each one more rapid than the previous one. Just recently I had occasion to visit some old friends in that Idaho community and while I was there learned that Mr. Miller had died. They were having his visitation that evening and knowing that my friends wanted to go, I agreed to accompany them. Upon arrival at the mortuary we fell into a line to meet the relatives of the deceased and to offer whatever words of comfort we could.

Ahead of us in line were three young men. One was in an army uniform and the other two wore nice hair cuts, dark suits and white shirts…all very professional looking…They approached Mrs. Miller, standing composed and smiling by her husband’s casket.

Each of the young men hugged her, kissed her on the cheek, spoke briefly with her and moved on to the casket. Her misty light blue eyes followed them as, one by one each young man stopped briefly and placed his own warm hand over the cold pale hand in the casket. Each left the mortuary awkwardly, wiping his eyes.

Our turn came to meet Mrs. Miller. i told her who I was and reminded her of the story from those many years ago and what she had told me about her husband’s bartering for marbles. With her eyes glistening, she took my and led me to the casket.

‘Those three young men who just left were the boys I told you about. They just told me how they appreciated the things Jim ‘traded’ them. Now, at last, when Jim could not change his mind about color or size…..they came to pay their debt.’

‘We’ve never had a great deal of wealth of this world,’ she confided, ‘but right now, Jim would consider himself the richest man in Idaho…’ With loving gentleness she lifted the lifeless fingers of her deceased husband. Resting underneath were three exquisitely shined red marbles.

The Moral: We will not be remembered by our words, but by our kind deeds. Life is not measured by the breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath.

Tonight, Christmas Eve, I wish you a day of ordinary miracles. A fresh pot of coffee you didn’t make yourself…An unexpected phone call from an old friend…Green stoplights on your way to work…The fastest line at the grocery store…A good sing-along on the radio…Your keys found right where you left them. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

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And then it is Winter

You know, time has a way of moving quickly and catching you unaware of the passing years. It seems just yesterday that I was young, just married and embarking on my new life with my mate. And yet in a way, it seems like eons ago, and I wonder where all the years went. I know that I lived them all…

And I have glimpses of how it was back then and of all my hopes and dreams.. But, here it is…the winter of my life and it catches me by surprise…How did I get here so fast? Where did the years go and where did my youth go?

I remember well…seeing older people through the years and thinking that those older people were years from me and that winter was so far off that I could not fathom it or imagine fully what it would be like…But, here it is…my friends are retired and getting gray…they move slower and I see an older person now. Some are in better and some in worse shape than me…but, I see the great change…Not like the ones that I remember who were young and vibrant…but, like me, their age is beginning to show and we are now older folks that we used to see and never thought we’d be.

Each day now, I find that just getting a shower is a real target for the day! And taking a nap is not a treat anymore…it’s mandatory! Cause if I don’t on my own free will, I just fall asleep where I sit.

And so, now I enter into this new season of my life unprepared for all the aches and pains and the loss of strength and ability to go and do things that I wish I had done but never did!!

But, at least I know, that though the winter has come, and I’m not sure how long it will last…this I know, that when it’s over…it’s over…Yes, I have regrets. There are things I wish I hadn’t done ….things I should have done, but indeed, there are many things I’m happy to have done. It’s all in a lifetime…

So, if you’re not in your winter yet…let me remind you, that it will be here faster than you think. So, whatever you would like to accomplish in your life please do it quickly! Don’t put things off too long!!

Life goes by quickly. So do what you can today, as you can never be sure whether this is your winter or not! You have no promise that you will see all the seasons of your life…so, live for good today and say all the things that you want your loved ones to remember… and hope that they appreciate and love you for all the things that you have done for them in all the years past!!

‘Life is a gift to you. The way you live your life is your gift to those who come after. Make it a fantastic one”

Live it well!!—-Enjoy today!!–Do something fun!!!–Be happy!!!—-Be thankful!!!!

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