Sunday, March 31, 2024

Springtime slowly making an appearance

The surest way to find a lost package of seeds is to order a new one.

The seeds of two of the three varieties of tomatoes I intend to grow this year are planted. I am still looking for package of seeds for the third variety. If I don't find them I will buy a couple of plants of a large, "slicing" variety at the local greenhouse.

Two of the four varieties of peppers are showing no sign of germinating. On the plus side, they are not getting moldy, either.

I drove by this 1.5 acre field about a week ago. I counted 35 deer feeding in it.

I killed the first woodchuck of the season on Thursday.

We are over-run with rabbits. I could have shot five of them today but it is Easter so  they got a pass.

I am making a trial-run of a new kind of bait for raccoons. One of the outdoor forums I visit had rave-reviews for spouted corn (soaked overnight and then left in the bucket until it is pushing roots), re-wetted and then sprinkled with dry, strawberry flavored gelatin desert. Supposedly it is like crack cocaine for hogs, bears, raccoons, large bucks, possum, wallabies, leprechauns and carp. I made some bait and put it in a five-gallon, rectangular bucket that used to hold kitty-litter.

Quicksilver will be showing up earlier starting tomorrow. The quality of the fiction will suffer since I have been using the 5:00-to-6:00 to crank it out. I have two installments roughed out. I enjoyed writing Monday's installment. Wednesday's installment was painful to write.

An Easter Thought

At that time the disciples approached Jesus and said, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.   Matt 18:1-5

One of the paradoxes of wilderness survival is that kids ages 5-to-8 have survival rates far in excess of what would be expected based on their mental and physical abilities while kids ages 12-through-18 have much lower survival rates than one might expect.

The usual explanation for this phenomena is that younger kids sleep when they are tired, get out of the wind when they are cold, eat when they are hungry and drink when they are thirsty.

Older kids have a much more highly developed denial mechanism and are deathly afraid of being "uncool" or losing status in their posse. The intellectual and emotional construct of "group" blinds them to reality. "Group" becomes a lens that bends and distorts reality.

I am pretty sure Jesus was not talking about surviving in the wilderness. But I would not bet money that He wasn't talking about people substituting "Group narratives" for the realities that He places in front of us every day.

Saturday, March 30, 2024

Still here

Easter falls on our youngest son's birthday this year. The next time it happens will be 2086.

Mrs ERJ and I agreed that the next time it happens, Kubota can host us.


I made the first six grafts for this year, all plums.

It seems a bit early but I had the itch.

Good News

Handsome Hombre has a new job. Great pay. An hour commute.

Not such good news

Quicksilver has a cold.

It is rank speculation, but I wonder if high Covid mortality rates in older people might be related to lack of exposure to snot-nosed kids. I am not trying to be funny.

The "common cold" is a swarm of hundred(s) of viruses with similar symptoms. Some of them are "Covid" family virus. Getting regular exposure to the "common cold" could conceivably provide protection against other Covid-type virus.

Vaccines were conceptualized when it was noticed that milk-maids who had cow-pox at some point in their lives were immune to small-pox. Cow-pox might injure your complexion but small-pox can kill you.

It would be interesting to see a regression of Covid mortality numbers vs birth-rate...that is, if we could trust anybody's numbers.

Colds do not scare me.


I received word that one of my nieces intends to be married at the end of September. She wants purple and white flowers.

White flowers can be dyed. Late-September screams "chrysanthemums".

Does anybody know of any sources of cuttings for "football" type mums, preferably white or purple?

I was given an assignment.

Have a blessed Easter/Passover!!!

Friday, March 29, 2024

Blast from the past

The Shadowed Halls of Rathcoombe Manor

Twenty-five year old website and still a great place to get down-to-earth advice about terminal ballistics.

Sciuchetti's results


Sciuchetti's data, Rathcoombe's graphic. 180 grain, .30 caliber fired into soaked phone books (remember those?) at various velocities.


Pearls of Wisdom

"The importance of hit location and shotline cannot be overstated."

"What emerges is that nearly all big game cartridges are capable of killing essentially any size game animal (short perhaps of pachyderms) under ideal conditions even with solids..."

"Its generally thought best to aim for the center of the thorax and leave a margin of error on all sides which will be highly lethal even if range estimation or wind or steadiness or a sudden movement by the quarry...Usually one can find the proper aimpoint on a line centered between the front legs and approximately one-third of the distance from the sternum to the top of the shoulders (ventral to dorsal). On a fully broadside presentation, the aimpoint will lie just behind the front legs at the same height."

"Shoot any ten deer, elk, sheep, antelope of identical size and age on a classic broadside shot through the shoulder and lungs; half of them will crumple on the spot but the remainder will...(not react or will run up to 200 yards) Link"

"Most rifle bullets are designed to perform reliably within a rather narrow range of velocities, usually 2000 to 3000 fps for most conventional rifle bullets. Below this velocity range, the bullet may not expand; above it, the bullet may shatter on impact...Bullets designed for the older low-velocity rifle cartridges and for handguns can be relied upon to expand down to about 1400 fps in the case of rifles and 900 fps in handguns."

Image of generic wound-track for an expanding bullet from a big-game cartridge.
In an ideal, broadside shot, the large white balloon corresponds in depth with the heart-lungs of your target animal.

In a less-than ideal presentation, the long, narrow wound track on the right side of the image is what will kill the animal and the large balloon will be expended on shoulder muscle or the front of the abdominal cavity and/or lancing through the ribs on the diagonal.

"The .300 Shock & Awe Magnum firing a 180 grain bullet at a muzzle velocity of 3200 fps is no more potent at 500 yards than a .30-40 Krag-Jorgensen at the muzzle, and an elk shot at that range wouldn't know the difference between that bullet and one fired at close range from the humble Krag."

Fake News Friday


Fountain of vitriol (Cumberland Saga)

Morning was a near repeat of the previous morning.

The boys complained and wanted to know when they were going back to St Louis. “Worst. Vacation. Ever!” Evan complained.

Amira ignored his carping and handed out assignments.

“Abe, Evan...I will need you about mid-morning to carry some things. Until then, I want you to help your father” she said. “Walter, I talked to Alice yesterday and she has some vegetables that she can spare. I expect you and the boys to help her clean out her root-cellar. She is an early-riser, so she will be expecting you.”

The doctors had warned her that Walter could suffer an aneurysm at any time, but it would most likely occur while he was sitting on the toilet, straining.

Amira, ever practical, realized that switching Walter over to a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and high-fiber breads would bulk-up and soften his stools. While in St Louis, she mandated that he eat a banana with every meal.

Bananas were a rare treat in Copperhead Cove but they had an abundance of potatoes, turnips, carrots, onions and saurkraut in their root-cellars. Later, there would be leafy greens, cucumbers, green beans and other garden truck as they started to produce.

Alice had vegetables that were nearing the end of their storage life but were still usable. Amira and Walter needed them and they could be had for the effort of sorting the still-sound from the need-to-be-used-now.

Once Amira had Walter clear on the task she set out to find Constanze.

Knocking on the door of her cabin, it took a minute before Constanze opened the door. She opened it just a crack and peered out.

“Who are you?” Constanze asked, face hidden in the dark interior.

“I am Amira. I am new to Copperhead Cove. I want to meet you” Amira told her.

Amira believed in the direct approach.

The door slowly swung slightly more open.

Amira held out a paper bag. “I brought you a fresh loaf of bread.”

Constanze snatched it out of Amira’s hands. Bribe accepted.

“You realize I am being shunned, don’t you?” Constanze queried.

“Sig doesn’t like me either” Amira replied with a shrug as if any one person’s opinion was of little importance to her.

And just like that, Constanze had a new, best friend.

Within five minutes Amira had learned that Constanze had landed a job some distance from Copperhead Cove but no way to get there. Pigeon Forge was more than 90 miles away from Copperhead Cove.

Amira said “Maybe I can help you with that.”

Then she said the magic words. “I have a car. I can give you a ride and help you move there.”

Constanze had been offered a job in housekeeping at an inn. Constanze assumed she would be supervising the staff at a mansion. Amira saw no need to pop her bubble.

In exchange for $200 cash and a ride to Pigeon Forge, Constanze agreed to sign a hand-written Quit-Claim relinquishing any future claim to ownership of the cabin, the furniture, the garden plots or the contents of the pantry or root-cellar.

Amira had Evan and Abe carry Constanze’s earthly belongings to the Subaru parked beside the public road. From one perspective, it was a pathetically small amount. From a different perspective, it made moving much easier.

Constanze did not shut-up from the moment Amira had handed her the loaf of bread.

It was Amira’s opinion that if Constanze had not been quite right in the head before the shunning, the lack of social contact had firmly shoved her over the edge. Constanze's rants displayed paranoia and a sense of grandiosity. She truly believed that she had been the queen-of-the-realm in Copperhead Cove prior to the shunning.

Her vile speculations about the other inhabitants of Copperhead Cove revealed darkness in her soul. She saved a vulcanic fountain of vitriol for Sarah and Blain who she blamed for her fall from grace.

That was not a huge problem for Amira. As a supervisor she had to deal with unhinged people on a near-daily basis. Pragmatically, Amira didn’t try to “fix” them. She concentrated on figuring out what motivated them and used that information to keep them focused on being productive.

While passing through a town south of Knoxville, on a whim Amira pulled into a store that sold cellphones. As a parting gift to Constanze, Amira bought her an entry-level phone and a modest pre-paid plan. Amira showed her how to enter numbers into contacts. Constanze spent the rest of the drive busily entering numbers into her phone and calling people she had numbers for but had not visited with in years.

Relieved of the necessity of being civil, the rest of the trip was much more peaceful for Amira.

Constanze did not think to ask for Amira’s phone number. Amira did not volunteer it. If Constanze had asked, Amira planned on transposing a couple of the numbers so it would not work.

Amira had a strong “Ick!” reaction to Constanze and had a very strong desire for a clean break.

The hotel that had offered Constanze employment was modern and looked clean and efficiently run. Amira offered to wait while Constanze found the manager but Constanze was sure there would be no problems.

Amira helped unload Constanze’s four bags, placing them on the walk-way that ran around the hotel. Then she drove off.

Arriving back at Copperhead Cove, she found that Walther and the boys had moved their things to their new cabin. Constanze was not the only one with pathetically few belongings.


After eating dinner, Amira told the boys to wash the dishes. She had a small errand to run.

Knocking on the back-door of Sarah's house, she asked if Sarah had a few minutes for "a private conversation".

Sarah grudgingly came outside.

Amira started by saying "I spent 2 hours in a car with Constanze. She is crazy but she made a comment that I want to share with you."

Sarah's expression was icy. Not only was Amira pushy and not her favorite, but Constanze...well, she agreed with Amira's assessment about her being crazy in the head but didn't see how anything Constanze said could be of any value.

"What is it. It is chilly and I don't have a wrap" Sarah hurried Amira along.

Picking her words carefully and NOT quoting Constanze word-for-word, Amira said "It seems likely that Sig will have a hard time enforcing the cellphone ban. Modern people are addicted to them. They take pictures and post them on social media."

Sarah's face remained noncommittal.

"Some of the new people will be very curious about Blain. Very few outsiders come to Copperhead Cove unless they are running away from something in their past" Amira continued.

Sarah gave a slight startle, as if it something that had never occurred to her.

"In many places, men grow a beard when they get married" Amira added "not that I am suggesting that Blain needs to. That is between you and him."

"Oh, and they let their hair grow so their ears are covered" she concluded.

"Is that all?" Sarah asked, imperiously.

"That is all that I wanted to share" Amira agreed.


Blain's beard grew quickly and was a rich, chestnut brown with two, prematurely gray streaks and was very curly.

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Boosting the signal

 ...flexibility and responsiveness (to pervasive, secular trends) are largely conspicuous by their absence. (in formerly trusted organizations like government and corporations)

This, of course, makes it all the more urgent for us, as individuals and like-mined "tribes" or self-selected small communities, to prepare ourselves for these disruptive factors.  That's not just in terms of stockpiling food and basic essentials, either:  it's educating ourselves to provide as many as possible of the services we need from within our own ranks, rather than relying on our local, state and national authorities to provide them.

I read this over at Bayou Renaissance Man. Text with white background was added by me. I also added the underline.

"Preps" buy us time but should not mistaken as the overarching objective. A limb with a tourniquet on it is not a healthy, functioning limb even though the tourniquet may be a necessary step to returning that limb to a state of health.

Start living life as if there were no institutional safety-nets

Treat your friends well and your family even better

Take care of your body. Feed it right. Keep moving.

When you injure somebody (and it will happen), apologize. Ask for forgiveness. Make amends. If they are not available (i.e. far away or dead), then pour out your grief on a surrogate for that person.

Savor the good. Celebrate joy no matter how small or humble.

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

This and that


I threw some "books" of damp straw over the woodchuck holes that are closest to my garden.

I saw the freshly dug earth first and then verified that the straw had been pushed aside.

Appropriate measures have been put into place.

Where did March go?

I lifted weights yesterday. The last rep of the last set was a struggle.

I looked at our wall calendar when I got home and didn't see any notes on it about lifting weights any day during March. Did I really miss more than three weeks of lifting? If so, it is no wonder that I lost strength.

I am dragging today due to delayed onset muscle soreness.

Pepper seeds

25 Stocky Red Roaster are potted, 10 Aji Mango, 6 Golden Cayenne.

Thanks to the readers who suggested Guajillo peppers. I have them on the heat mat. I also purchased some Kashmiri peppers and harvested the seeds from ten, selected peppers. I will see if any of those seeds germinate.

Marinating chicken in yogurt-based marinade

Search "Kashmiri mirch tandoori chicken" This came out of an air-fryer

I am giving it a whirl. We have lots of garlic greens and chives. I have Key Lime juice in the fridge.

A burden shared (Cumberland Saga)

The women baked bread in shifts. Craving conversation, they came early and stayed late so the kitchen and parlor were well populated with chattering women.

Amira, while not forgotten, faded into the background as the women caught up on the latest news. Stories of new nieces and nephews who were born far away from Copperhead Cove. Distant daughters and sisters with new boyfriends and husbands. Sons who were deployed and when they were expected back. Husbands who were between jobs. Recipes. Local news.

Sarah was leery of Amira when she came to Alice's at mid-morning. But Amira was not the bossy Blue-jay-at-the-bird-feeder at Alice's. Caught up in the ever-shifting conversation, Amira's presence soon drifted from Sarah's mind.

Amira mixed a bit of the sponge with soft, unleavened dough and then folded and pressed it down with the knuckles of her fists...and folded-and-pressed the dough again-and-again. Ten folds was a thousand. Twenty folds was a million. Fold-press. Fold-press. Fold-press until the dough was smooth, elastic and not sticky. Then she divided it, shaped it and popped into pans to rise.

Lather, rinse, repeat. Three loaves worth of bread at a time. It was a great way to channel anger and anxiety into something productive.

One item was foremost on all of the women’s minds: They all talked about the arrival of the hay and the old, cull cows from the dairy. The transition to growing pasture was going to be a neat trick. Would there be enough grass, soon enough? Then the questions were “How much milk will the old bossies give them? Will the calves be heifer calves or bulls? How will the ownership of the milking rights be allocated?” 

Amira realized that they would have to move the rock if they were going to truck the hay up to the plateau. She didn't need to badger Sig. She just needed to pay attention and jump on the opportunity when it happened.

The other issue that had the women buzzing was somebody named Constanze. Apparently, she was being “shunned” and contrary to every expectation she had not abandoned her house and garden plots.

That was extremely puzzling to the women. The charter required that whoever was assigned to the garden plots had to till them and at least keep the weeds down. They didn’t know how Constanze was going to do that without help or equipment or how Sig was going to deal with it if Constanze refused to move.

Amira’s ears perked up when she heard “house”. She had given the van-body in the hoop-house a quick peek and it wasn’t going to work. Nope. Not even close. That left her in a pickle.

The women’s conversation was rife with speculation. Because Constanze was being shunned by the religious group, it was forbidden that anybody simply ask her what her plans were. Hence the outlandish and whimsical speculation.

After the last few women left Alice’s kitchen, Alice asked Amira “Do you want to make some loaves?”

“I didn’t bring any flour” Amira said.

“That is OK. I can spare some” Alice assured her.

“If it is OK with you, I would like to make some leavened flat-bread using 100% whole-wheat” Amira informed her.

“Hmmm” Alice pondered. “They will be very heavy. Are you sure you don’t want to go 50:50 with white, bread-flour?”

“No. It has to be 100% whole-wheat. Walter is on a very restricted diet” Amira said.

And then Alice did something that caused Amira to totally lose her composure. She came over and stood in front of her. She reached out and picked up both of Amira's flour-covered hand in her own and said “Walter is a very sick man, isn’t he? Just let me know if there is ANYTHING I can do to help you.”

And Amira totally lost it. Her face crumpled and tears streamed out of her eyes. Tough Amira. Amira with the steel-backbone. Amira the warrior woman. Undone by a simple, kind gesture and a few words of empathy.

Alice let her cry.

After a few minutes, Amira was able to collect herself.

“Walter is very sick. The doctors give him five-years to live without treatment and maybe as many as fifteen years if they treat him aggressively” Amira said.

“If I may ask, what is wrong with him?” Alice asked. Amira could hear in her voice that she meant his illness, not his personality.

“There is something about his immune system. It randomly attacks his organs. It used to be his bowels but it has been attacking the walls of his blood vessels for the last five years” Amira told her.

Alice blinked her eyes. Congenital diseases were not unknown in small, isolated religious groups. Some members lived a very long time. Others seemed to die young. Only God knew who would be which.

“Why did you choose to not seek treatment?” Alice asked, carefully choosing her words so it didn’t seem like she was blaming anybody.

“Because there is a high risk of the treatment destroying his immune system, and then the only thing that would keep him alive would be a constant stream of antibiotics and antivirals” Amira said. “Been there. Done that. The side-effects suck.”

That is when Alice realized that Amira had brought Walter home to die. That put a totally different complexion on their situation.

Amira’s heart was much lighter as she walked back to Sarah’s house. She had one person she could trust. She had shared her burden. Oddly, in spite of the dire situation and the threadbare state of Copperhead Cove, things were looking up.

Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Fine Art Tuesday


Theft of house and farmstead
Adolf Reich born in Vienna in 1887. Died in 1963. He had the misfortune of being on the "wrong" side leading up to, and during WWII.

Consequently, many of his paintings were dismissed as "propaganda" or evil.

It has been suggested that all of the "humor" God would normally bestow on a per-capita basis was exported from Germany and given to the Austrians.

You be the judge.

Titled "In the Artist's Studio"

The Cellarmaster

Hat-tip to Lucas

What is black-white-black-white-black and can make grown men run?

At 2:10 AM local time a skunk decided to unload his ordnance just upwind of my bedroom window. At 2:10:15 AM local time, I woke up.

By 2:15 AM I was asleep in the recliner in our living room.

I had been under the mistaken impression that my house was relatively free of air leaks.

I wonder what surprised the skunk. Maybe a Great Horned Owl?

Monday, March 25, 2024

It not what you need, its what you knead (Cumberland Saga)

Sleep was elusive for Amira.

The floor was hard and the threadbare blanket beneath her did little to soften it. She worried about her two boys sleeping in the car. She didn’t even have the solace of sharing a bed with Walter, denied the comfort of his cuddling “spoons” and draping his arm over her. "Spoons" and hard floors don't go together.
She replayed the mad dash from St Louis to Copperhead Cove over in her head. The National Guard at the bridge in Cape Girardeau and Paducah. Checkpoints where ID was demanded. Crazy, crazy, crazy prices for gasoline.

She stuck to secondary roads and avoided Nashville and other, large cities. The trip took longer than expected.

The boys were oblivious to everything except for their stomachs and their hand-held devices, the strength of the signal and the games they were playing.

The trip took ten hours instead of the predicted six.

Doubts troubled her, but only briefly.

The riots had become more violent and more frenzied. Police were no longer attempting to apprehend looters, arsonists or thugs who were assaulting others based on their race.

Something had broken inside of her that morning. She had stepped out the door of their condominium in University City, a genteel and artsy enclave in St Louis and and smelled water-on-ashes, the distinctive smell of a fire that had burned long-and-hot and then had been subdued with water. She also smelled burned flesh.

That was it. All of her buttons were pushed simultaneously. It went from academic “maybe” to “Load the car, I am pulling out of the parking space in 30 minutes.”

The boys thought they were going on a vacation. They were so OBLIVIOUS.

Walter had been shocked. But he remembered her vivid nightmares from when they were first together.

They had talked when the riots started...again. Walter agreed that Copperhead Cove might be a safer place “in principle”. He never expected Amira to pull the trigger.

Pull the trigger? Hell, Amira had dropped the anvil.


The dogs started baying at dawn. Roger and Sig were taking no chances. They saw the two boys emerge into the frosty clearing. They were wearing shorts, tee-shirts and shower-slides and were arguing ferociously with each other.

Sig grinned. Mostly they were muttering threats of what they were going to do to their mother for bringing them to the wilderness.

Roger stepped out of the shadows. “What can I do for you young men?” he asked. He was still holding his Remington 1100.

“OMG” the taller boy said through chattering teeth. “Can you tell us where our mom went?”

“I’ll walk you there” Roger said as Sig slipped back into his house through the back door.

Breakfast was a tense affair.

Amira offered to help with the breakfast but Sarah declined. “You can wash the dishes.”

Sarah was afraid that Amira would burn the food and burnt-on food is a fair devil to scrub off.

Blain noticed the boys had pulled out their smart-phones and started playing their games again. “We don’t allow phones at the ‘Cove. You need to give your phones to me.”

Horrified, the boys looked over at Amira. They expected her to tear Blain a new asshole. To their surprise, their mother pulled out her phone, turned it off and handed it to Blain.

“Turn them off, boys. It might be a while before you get them back and the batteries will be dead if you don't power them down” she told them.

Walter pulled out his phone and wordlessly turned it off and handed it to Blain.

The boys were much more resistant to the request. Amira had to resort to her death-glare, but in the end they complied. Little did they know that it would be months before the phones were returned.

The boys complained about the cornmeal mush and butter. Blain had advised Sarah to hide their meager supply of sugar.

The boys complained that there were no little packets of flavor to dump into the water. The boys complained about the water “It tastes funny.” They complained about washing in a basin with cold water. They complained about everything. Amira was mortified. Sarah’s graciousness was severely strained.

Sarah, Blain, Lliam and Mary fled the small house. Any place would be better than being cooped up with Amira’s whining, sniveling brats. That, and it was springtime. There was SO MUCH work to do.

Amira got water on the wood-stove. She had been watching Sarah like a hawk. Sarah’s stove had draft controls that screwed in-and-out to adjust the heat. Amira added four sticks of kindling from the bucket beside the stove. Looking at Walter, she asked “Can you and the boys handle this?”

Walter nodded that he thought he could manage. He had grown up here. He knew how to wash dishes by hand.

Then Amira looked at her boys. “After you help your father, I need to have you carry our bags up here. They need to be here by noon. Don't drop them outside. Put them somewhere in the house. Your father will tell you where.”

She didn’t ask them if they could do that. It was an order. It was a trivial task. There is only so much you can fit into a Subaru, even with a roof-rack pod.

Amira needed information.

Her sons’ behaviors had torched the possibility of getting useful information from Sarah.

Ellie was Sig’s wife and Amira was no fool. She was not welcome in that house.

That left Alice.

Knocking on the back door of Alice and Roger’s house, she was bid “Come in”

Stepping into the house, Amira could see that it was baking day. The sounds and smells and warm womb of feminine camaraderie instantly transported her back to her aunt’s house in Kamensko where she and her mother had fled after escaping Sarajevo.

They, too, had baked bread as a family group. Because of their sojourn in Kamensko, Amira knew her way around a wood-stove. Amira also knew that kneading the bread was the most arduous and least desirable job in the kitchen on baking day until the clean-up at the end of the day.

Finding Alice, Amira said “I will knead. Where can I wash?”
Alice pointed to a basin by the sink.
Amira took her time washing and used the brush to meticulously scrub the cuticles and beneath her short fingernails. One thing about having worked in a medical lab was that she really knew how to wash her hands!

Alice had an apron ready for her when she was done.

Walking over to the counter which was already covered with flour, Amira started kneading bread-dough.

There is no therapy better for dealing with anger and fear, tension and uncertainty than kneading bread-dough. Amira kneaded bread well into the afternoon. She knew she was going to sleep well that night.

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Who is laughing now?

Men, Be the Wolf

This image shows GPS traces of collars that were put on wolves in six, separate wolf packs in Yellowstone National Park Minnesota (Hit-tip to Robert for the correction).

The usual commentary is that there is very little overlap in the territories. The wolves are territorial and enforce their ranges and, for the most part, other wolf packs respect that because they know they will be torn to pieces if they infringe, especially if they are running as a single wolf.

I suppose the occasional infringement might happen when a game animal the pack is pursuing stumbles onto another pack's territory but that seems to be rare.

Another comment is that the wolf-pack tracked in white looks like a cat with a couple of eyes. The total lack of travel in the "eyes" might be due to some quirk of geography like a steep, barren mountain but it could also be the location of where a wolf was killed by another predator like a puma or perhaps a bear.

Men, the predators who would make our wives and our children their prey respect other wolves' territories. They respect apex predators.

Especially if you do not think of yourself as an apex predator, prepare to gird thy loins and slay those that would stalk your family. Wolves have good noses. They will choose easier victims.

I looked at the pepper seeds again (and again and again...)

Stocky Red Roaster seeds

Time to get them into potting soil!

Other seeds

Expected cadence of seed planting:

Tomatoes (in pots) April 1

Sugar Snap Peas  (in ground) April 15

Onion sets IG April 15

Potatoes IG May 1

Most tree seeds IG May 1

Okra IP May 1

Corn IG May 15

Late cabbage IP May 15

Tomato plants moved IG May 25

Beans IG May 25

Squash, melons, cucumbers IG June 5

Zinnia IG June 5

One reason why I think gardeners make good project managers is that we habitually think backwards. If we want a harvest of sweet corn by mid-August then were count backwards to when we need to put the seeds in the ground. And from our planting date we need to think backwards to determine when we need to prepare the ground and to add in some Kentucky Windage for weather events.

How many times can "brass" be reloaded?

One of the guys over at 24hourcampfire did an experiment to see how many times he could reload new brass. I think it was the fellow known as Seafire.

The loads were not maximum-pressure loads but were adequate for killing coyotes.

He started with five randomly selected pieces of new brass. I may be mistaken but I think he chose .223 Remington. He used the same rifle for the entire experiment so he only needed to resize the necks.

Every five shots he annealed the necks with a candle-flame. He held the base of the fired case in his bare fingers and put the neck into the candle's flame. He spun the brass until he felt the brass get warm where he was holding it. Then he put it to the side while he annealed then next piece.

If memory serves, the neck of the first case cracked in the high-teens but the other four made it to twenty-five reloadings which is when he got bored and went on to do other things.

Exotic chamberings with rare (read "expensive") brass

The experiment is a curiosity for .223 Rem which is very available but it could be useful if you have a functional firearm in an uncommon chambering like 6.5mm Arisaka, 6.5mm Carcano, 8mm Lebel, any of the bottleneck "Express" cartridges or other "obsolete" cartridges.

Gym notes

I went to the gym yesterday. My plan was to lift weights.

That fell through. For the first time the weight room was full. One guy was already dead-lifting and there were two other guys lined up to be next.

It pays to be flexible.

I saw a treadmill with an exceptionally pretty girl on it and there was a treadmill next to her that was not being used.

"Do you mind if I use this?" I asked. It always pays to be polite.

"Sure. No problem" Mrs ERJ replied.

So yesterday was a treadmill day. Four minutes of running and then I walked until my pulse-rate was back down to 140...then another four minutes of running. I knocked it off at 40 minutes.

I tell myself that I am "building a base" which is 99.9% true. There are a lot of stability muscles that have to work together when you are running.

Saturday, March 23, 2024

Bits and pieces

Pheasants seem to like our bamboo grove for winter cover.

Not something I expected.

I think I have two species of bamboo: Phyllostachys nuda and Phyllostachys aureosulcata

The stems die during test-winters about every five years.

I probably should not be surprised. Ringneck Pheasant originated in the orient.

Watched pepper seeds never germinate

Some people find it amusing that I hover over my pepper seeds as I wait for them to show signs of life.

It has been (looking at wrist watch) six days since I placed them on pads of paper-toweling and put them on a germinating heat-mat. Guajillo pepper seeds were planted yesterday.

There is a bunch of literature on how to help reluctant seeds to germinate. Gibberellic acid, hydrogen peroxide, scuffing seeds with sandpaper, adding KNO3 to the soaking water. One treatment that seems to fare well for most warm-season garden plants is to simply keep the seeds warm while you are attempting to germinate them. 90F is one temperature that gets mentioned, at least for Okra.

Snow on the ground

I intend to cut scion and poplar cuttings today. I am going with the simplest of storage methods. I will tie each variety into a bundle and leave it beneath the tree. I will put something like a "book" of straw over the bundle so it is not exposed to direct sunlight.

I will get a lot more done if I make the job easy.

Suckers running

Yeah, I know that weather predictions are shaky-at-best. But it looks like we might have a cool April. The horizontal black line is the water temperature that triggers spawning in many species of sucker. The area circled in red is when river and stream temperatures might hit that temperatures.

I have done many awesome things in my life but I have yet to catch a sucker.

Trimming brass

A nice power option for trimming brass to length.

I was able to trim 660 grams of .223 Rem brass (about 110 by count) in 6:30 minutes.

Friday, March 22, 2024

Fake News Friday: Hottest item in Haiti, Mail-order brides from the US


@Barbecue_sauce. Follow me for more recipes.

Fake News Friday: Biden and RFK Junior Reconcile

In a major shift in the relationship between the two men, Joe Biden now says that he will do everything possible to help Robert F. Kennedy Jr achieve the "most desirable possible outcome" in his bid as an Independent candidate for 2024 President of the United States.

As proof of his support, Biden insists that Kennedy use his 1967 Corvette convertible while campaigning in Dallas, Texas.

Amira (Cumberland Saga)

The onslaught of springtime work caused dinner-time to shift to where it was nipping the heels of the ever-later sunset. Consequently, nearly everybody was sitting down to dinner when the dogs started baying.

Not expecting visitors, Roger and Alice, Sig and Ellie, Gregor, and Blain and Lliam were all armed and waiting when the dogs redoubled their howling.

Nobody was prepared for the lithe, somewhat older woman who emerged into the clearing. Her hair was the color of steel-wool and was a very practical short-cut and tightly permed. She was wearing a bright, polyester fleece jacket, charcoal-gray jogging tights and Nobull, gum-soled trainers.

On her back was a small backpack with a water-bottle nestled in a mesh pocket on the side. A can of pepper-spray was velcroed to her left wrist.

She moved along the rough two-track with the very slightest swagger. It wasn’t anything overt but it radiated the impression that she had taken the measure of herself and not found it wanting. Or if it had been found wanting, the shortcomings had been immediately and aggressively corrected.

She would have been totally invisible on any college campus in America but was as out-of-place on a two-track in rural Tennessee as a tropical fish.

She bee-lined directly to Sig and stopped six feet in front of him.

“I am Amira. I am Walter’s wife” she announced. Her voice had inflections that were similar to Sig’s but not identical. Blain deduced that she was originally from Europe.

“I know who you are” Sig scowled.

“I need to have somebody move the rock in the driveway so I can drive up here” she demanded. If she noticed the prominently display of firearms she didn’t seem bothered by them.

“You are not welcome here” Sig replied.

Blain’s eyebrows rose. He assumed that Walter was one of the far-flung sons of Copperhead Cove who they had been busting their humps to welcome.

“Your Christian Bible says that even Pagans take care of family” Amira responded.

“It does” Sig admitted.

“You say you are Christian and you would do less?” Amira challenged. Clearly, she had prepared for the less-than-warm welcome.

A tension-filled pause followed.

“You can carry your things up here, then” Sig finally grunted, gracelessly.

“Walter is not feeling well. I don’t think he is up to walking” Amira said.

Sig chewed on that for a few seconds. Then, turning he said to Gregor “Can you run your truck down to the road and pick up your Uncle Walter?”

Gregor nodded. “I am on it.”

Blain heard Sarah muttering under her breath….”Amira. Walter. They live in Missouri….”

Amira turned and started walking back down the two-track to her vehicle. Gregor followed in his truck a few minutes later.

Gregor came back with one passenger. Walter looked like Sig but was tall and gaunt. He seemed lethargic and unable to focus.

Fifteen minutes later, Amira came marching up the drive. She was carrying two suitcases. She walked up to Blain and Sarah and asked “Sarah, may we stay with you tonight? We can sleep on the floor but we need four places.”

It was Sarah’s turn to be confused. “Four?”

“My two sons did not want to leave the car. When they get cold enough, or they get hungry enough, they will join us” Amira said.

Blain noticed that she was relatively short although the way she carried herself made her seem at least six inches taller.

Blain, confused, asked “Why didn’t you just throw the suitcases into the back of Gregor’s truck?”

Amira said “Sig is an asshole. I refuse to give him anything to complain about. He told Gregor to bring back Walther, nobody or nothing else.”

Blain was instinctively wary of Amira. Every college town had a double-handful of her type: Women who seemed to hear and see everything. Women of formidable intelligence and will, steel-backbones and unbending self-discipline. 

Dangerous women. Very dangerous women for the kind of man he had been before Copperhead Cove.

What was she doing here?

“Who is Walter?” Blain asked.

“Walter is Sig’s older brother. They have not been on speaking terms since Walter married me” Amira informed him.

Blain was having a hard time reconciling Sig with the man Amira was describing. Sure, Sig was a hard man but he had always been more than the long run.

“Why would that be?” Blain asked.

“Because I am a Bosniak” Amira informed him.

“I don’t know what a ‘Bosniak’ is” Blain admitted with a shrug.

“I am a Muslim” Amira said. "I was born in Bosnia."


A tip-of-the-hat to Jen at Alive gym in Charlotte. She coached me on what a woman like Amira would be wearing. When in doubt, consult an expert!

A second tip-of-the-hat to "Teal" at the 24hourcampfire forum for recommending a woman who survived the Siege of Sarajevo as a worthy inclusion to the cast of characters at Copperhead Cove.

Fake News Friday: Monsieur François Bonnet


In 1854 during the early-April offensive of the Crimean War, an innovation in the Russian artillery shells resulted in a vast increase in the mangled limbs of the Ottoman, British and French soldiers fighting them.

Medic, nurse, humanitarian, priest and inventor François Bonnet distracted the patients in the infirmary by first donning a bright pick rabbit suit during their amputations. He chose pink so the red blood stains would not be visible and frighten the young men...boys, really.

The wounds were so grievous and the pain so overwhelming that Bonnet realized that he needed to do more to relieve the pain and fear. He soon became a leading figure in the rapidly advancing science of anesthesia.

Monsieur Bonnet was so successful in his efforts that the Crimean Catholic Church recognized him as a local saint pending confirmation by the Vatican. Quick to recognize his contributions, Anesthesiologist now recognize him as their official Patron Saint and the west generally celebrates his feast day in late-March or early-April.

You have probably heard of him by the Anglicised version of his name. He is also known as the Ether Bunny.

Thursday, March 21, 2024


Yesterday's work took a lot out of me.

To give you a sense of context, saying that I was "Installing amenities inside of a safe-room" will be accurate enough for you to have a picture in your head.

8" thick, steel-reinforced concrete walls and ceiling. It was an impressive structure.

The only weak-point that I could see were the doors.

One issue with doors for safe-rooms involves conflicting scenarios. Historically, the most likely scenario in Michigan involves tornadoes. They pick up heavy trash and skip it along the ground. The main challenge to the structure is not the wind but the hammering from the trash. Imagine an 8" round of solid oak firewood hitting the door, dead-center, at 100mph. The tornado in Oklahoma City in 1999 mowed the interstate guardrail off at ground level.

The ideal door for that situation would open outward and would have a lip or a sill on all four edges that it engaged.

A second scenario that merits consideration involves home-invaders. There are people alive in Israel today who waited out the incursion from Gaza in their safe-rooms. Bonus link.

There are two issues with that kind of door. One is that doors that open outward have hinges that are exposed to the outside so they are not secure against humans. They can simply pop the hinge-pins out and pull the door open. The other issue is that drifts of trash can wedge the door closed. The family could survive the storm but then must rely on rescuers to free them.

It is conceivable that structures outside of the safe-room could serve as trash-catchers; structures like large urns or soil-filled planters have the potential to slow or stop trash. Walls that turn a right-angle have the same potential.

The solution that I think this family will choose will be to have the entry to the safe-room face a load-bearing wall and to have the garage door (most likely direction of a structural breach) towards the rear of the safe-room. It is not a highly engineered solution but it is economical and provides a bit of additional security.

Wednesday, March 20, 2024

Great Chinese Famine. Will it happen here?


Demographic pyramid for ComChina. If you look at the branches for sixty-year-old you will see that those branches are much shorter. That corresponds people born around 1960.

A closer look. Each vertical line is one million people. Yellow shaded area approximates years of Great Chinese Famine. Missing people were either infant mortality, aborted, miscarried or parents unable-to-conceive.

The death-toll due to the Great Chinese Famine (1959-1961) is estimated to be 15 million to 55 million. Given that there are still approximately 15 million missing from the cohort who would have been born in that time-frame I  strongly advocate for the larger estimate.

Causes of the Great Chinese Famine

The primary cause of the Great Chinese Famine was that politicians dictated agricultural decisions. They dictated the number of seeds that were planted per acre (6X historic rates). They dictated how deeply the soil must be plowed (4X historic rates). They dictated the how the fields would be organized (no more private property). They dictated how much grain was to be retained at the local level (zero).

The death rate was exacerbated by local officials being afraid to communicate with their superiors. Very optimistic "theoretical yields" were not achieved after ideologically driven, and very stupid, decisions were made but officials were afraid to tell their superiors that they had been wrong. The local officials shipped grain out of production areas at levels that were consistent with the phantom surplus. In fact, there was no surplus but a significant shortage of grain production. Peasants starved.

This pattern lasted for three years.

Distilling the event into a single sentence: "The Great Chinese Famine was primarily caused by people in political power being unable or unwilling to accept data that was contrary to their expectations due to pride and/or fear of loss-of-face."

Today in the US

We have whack-a-doodles making crazy decisions about agricultural practices ranging from "the need to be carbon-neutral" to abandoning fossil fuels to curtailing the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.

Cynics will point out that reducing the population is not a bug but a feature for those who identify as our Political Masters and Elites.

Presented without Comment


Back to work

By the time you read this I will be drilling holes in concrete walls with a hammer-drill. Drilling is sort of like scraping paint, it uses muscles that usually don't get a work-out.

The Brains of The Outfit bid a large job and needed another strong back and weak mind. Oh, there was one other requirement. The helper needs to be able to keep his mouth shut so I will not be able to share any details of the job.

There are so many holes that need to be drilled that he purchased a corded hammer-drill because there is no way the battery charger will be able to keep-up.

I expect to to have aches and pains over the next few days.

Tastes like Peppermint! (Cumberland Saga)

Sarah and Blain were picked up at first light at the end of the driveway.

Sarah had worked out a complex deal where she and Blain would work at a dairy at the far end of the county in return for being allowed to purchase some old, cull cows and some old bales of mixed grass-alfalfa.

Recent changes in Federal Law mandated that the farmer reduce the number of cows he milked due to climate change. Cows that he would have kept a little bit longer were to be culled.

The ones that Sarah was going to buy were old, bred cows that did not "take" for the first few cycles and so would have an excessively long period between when they “dried off” and when they calved again. The farmer could not afford to hang onto them as “pets” for that extended period.

The hay was late, first-cutting, low-quality hay that the farmer never gotten around to feeding his animals. It was filled with viable seeds. Not only would it feed the cows until the new pasture started producing, it was going to supply the seeds FOR that pasture.

Sarah and Blain were wearing their most decrepit and disreputable clothing.

They were going to be trimming cow hooves.

Sarah moved the cows and she had a knack for it. For her, the work was not that bad.

The work was brutal for Blain. The farmer showed him how to do a couple of them and then handed the angle-grinder with the cutter-head on it to Blain. “Leave them a little bit longer rather than a little shorter. You can’t screw it up. They won’t be any worse after you trim them than they are now.”

Blain wasn’t too sure.

The cattle were put into a stanchion to hold them but it still involved bending over.

The farmer told him to look for the inside of the hoof to change color as he cut closer to the “quick” and to stop before he hit blood. That freaked Blain out. He went very slowly on the first three cows. That was twelve hooves.

Sarah told him he was going to have to step it up. He had over 200 cows to trim the hooves on and he could not afford to spend over 20 minutes on each one.

It was clear from the beginning that this gig was going to last several days.

The farmer invited them to use the showers and the laundry at the end of the day and loaned them protective Tyvek suits to wear while the clothes were drying.

Before they left, Sarah asked if she could bring a load of laundry from home and run it while they were trimming hooves. Having hired many hoof-trimmers in the past who never showed up the second day, the farmer said “I think that is a splendid idea.”

Blain’s speed increased as he became more comfortable with the tool. It also beat him up less as he figured out the optimal pressures and angles to let the power of the tool eat through the tough, shit-soaked hooves.  

Near the end of the second day, the farmer brought an animal for Blain to trim while Sarah was rotating the laundry.

“Be careful” the farmer informed Blain. “This here is my bull.”

The animal was enormous.

“Are all bulls this big?” Blain asked.

“Nope. This one is old. In fact, I was afraid I was going to have to replace him because he was slowin’ down at breedin’ the cows. He just wasn't gettin' after them” the farmer told him.

“That a fact?” Blain responded absentmindedly.

“Yup. He is my clean-up guy. If the artificial-insemination doesn’t take, his job is to get-it-done.”

Blain wiped the sweat off of his forehead with the back of his wrist. “So what did you do?”

“I called the vet. He came out and gave Brutus a check-up and left me with a big bottle of tiny white pills. Told me to give him one every day. So I did and he perked right up. In fact, he about wears those cows out makin’ sure they are with-calf” the farmer said.

“What do you suppose was in them?” Blain asked.

“Don’t rightly know” the farmer replied. “But they tasted like peppermint.”

Blain shot the farmer the look to see if he was kidding.

The farmer gave him a wink and a smile.

On the last day of the gig, the farmer made arrangements with Sarah regarding the details of the delivery of the hay and the cull-cows. Sarah wanted the hay delivered first since there was no forage growing in the new pastures yet. Then she wanted the three cull-cows delivered at the same time. Three cows don’t spook the way a single cow will and are easier to handle.

As they were leaving, the farmer said, “Hey sport! Catch.” as he threw something to Blain.

It was a package of breath-mints.

Blain gave the package to Roger when he got home. He figured Roger could use them more than he could.

Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Cost of reloading

A nephew asked me about the cost of reloading.

I priced out the cost of reloading 100, .223 Remington, 1X LC brass with H-4895, Sierra #1310 bullets and Rem 7-1/2 primers and it came out to about $63 per 100.

Purchased new, .223 Rem about $100-to-$150 per 100 (before shipping costs) so there is not a huge cost savings and that does not include the labor sunk into preparing the brass for reloading.

The upside for my nephew is that he calls coyotes and his rifle is finicky about bullet weight. The hollow-points were more explosive than he liked and the Sierra #1310 is a weight his rifle shoots well and is reputed to expand less explosively than his current ammo-of-choice.

Disrupting Command-and-Control Executive Function

If you have been reading my fiction for a while, you will notice that I am a fan of certain tactics. One of my favorites involves disrupting the target's O-O-D-A loop by super-saturating their sensory input.

The use of a spot-light and trip-wires were two recent examples.

Spot-lights are used everywhere for poaching. When used for deer it is sometimes called "jack-lighting" or "jacking" deer. Even non-hunters are familiar with the term "deer-in-the-headlights" as a term for the disorienting effect of too much stimulus.



In the Cumberland Saga segment, a 200,000 lumen, LED spot-light was MacGyvered with a remote switch (probably from a shop-light) so any return fire would not be directly at the defenders. You can find many examples of LED spotlights at the $30-to-$40 price point.

In sports

In sports, coaches teach their players that the key to winning one-on-one contests is to lose the defender by changes of speed-and/or-direction. These are the basics of one-v-one and team-v-team. Bring the ball down the sideline and pass to the center or to the other side of the goal.

Lights are a simple way to shift the attackers' attention and to knock them off balance.


The trip-wires were not tensioned when the attackers went up the drive but were when the attackers were rapidly retreating. SURPRISE!

Their sensory-overload was due to loss of balance and smashing their face into the gravel. That gave Gregor time to deal with two, armed attacker in relative safety.

Vision, sound, pain, smell (80%, 15%, 4%, 1%)

Vision can be disrupted with light, irritants (pepper-spray, dust, wood-ashes), darkness, camo.

Hearing can be disrupted with horns, fire-crackers, barking dogs, recordings of crowds.

Pain can be supplied with electric shocks (electric fence energizer), heat, cold, puncture wounds. If the noise is loud enough or a shockwave, it can rupture ear-drums.

Smell can be produced by vomit, fecal matter, cinnamon dust. Vultures vomit. Skunks spray. Camels spit.

The "D" in O-O-D-A

Sensory overload interrupts both the "Observe" in O-O-D-A loop and the "Decide".

Decision-making or Executive function is degraded by sudden fear: Falling (remember the Home-Alone scene?), fire (Elmore Leonard had a protagonist dowse an invader with gasoline and then start flicking a lighter. The gas can had a couple of ounces of gas for smell and the remainder was water...but the invader did not know that), large amounts of blood-like substances or fake-corpses.

Disrupting Command-and-Control functions is a multiplier for the ability to kinetically repel invaders. Zero times anything is still zero. Disrupting C-n-C buys the defenders time. The ability to mount a kinetic defense is still required.

Fine Art Tuesday

Hans Dahl born in Norway in 1849. Died in 1937.

I was talking with one of the workers at the gym I patronize on St Paddy's Day. I asked if she was Irish. She sighed "A little bit. But I am mostly Norwegian."

This post is for all of the Norwegians who sigh and apologize for being Vikings and whose people came from a place that was unforgiving and did not tolerate fools or idlers.

Dahl produced many paintings.

Monday, March 18, 2024

One thing at a time


We have two semi-feral cats frequenting our property. One is a calico cat who is at least 80% white. Her coat reminds me of Brach's Christmas Nougat candies. A little bit of orange. A little bit of gray. Lots of white.

The other semi-feral cat has semi-long, black fur.

Semi-feral cats are also known as "barn cats".

My thinking on barn cats has softened over the years. The predators that used to keep rodents in check take a beating. Mowing is hell on large snakes like rat snakes, milk snakes, blue-racers and corn snakes. Owls get whacked by cars. Fox get mowed down by mange, distemper and other diseases.

More rodents means more ticks. More ticks means greater risk of tick-borne diseases.

While I will not feed or otherwise encourage barn cats, I am not doing anything to reduce their numbers, either.

Doctors and such

The last month involved trips to the eye doctor and my personal physician for check-ups.

I also made a trip to the accountant.

The well drillers gave us a visit and took water samples.

I don't like drama.

The best way to avoid drama when purchasing a used car, as an example, is to take it to your mechanic and have him look it over BEFORE you buy it. Then, listen to his advice. If he says "It is a turkey. DON'T buy it!!!" then don't buy it.

He would rather not get stuck fixing a bunch of issues that could be avoided. I would rather avoid periods when the vehicle is out-of-service and having to pay for repairs that were foreseeable.

Same deal with accountants. There are lots of stupid ways to do things and there are some smart ways to do them. Being stupid makes messes that must be cleaned up.

The well-driller called back later in the afternoon and advised that we use a product containing sodium hydrosulfite and sodium metasulfite to purge iron from the resin bed of our water softener as a first-step in the diagnostic process. The water softener will get a second dose in two weeks. If that solves the problem then we got off easy; $13 worth of chemical vs $1500 of equipment.

The eye-doctor suggested that I should visit more than once every five years. My right eye is unchanged but I need a different prescription for my left eye. Since my eye-doctor will be retiring soon, I need to find one another one, preferably one that is not in Lansing.

Meat Hook for cleaning Tiller tines

$12 for two of them

I wish I had figured this out thirty years ago.

You cannot beat these for pulling weeds, wire and twine that have wrapped around the shaft of your tiller.

If you are cheap, you can cut a piece of livestock panel into a tall "T" with one wire for the vertical and one for the cross-piece. Then you can bend the bottom of the "T" into a hook. If you are smart, you can cut the bottom of the "T" at an angle with your bolt-cutters and it will be sharp enough for your purposes.

Calcium dip improves pear storage-life

Filed here for future reference. Placing newly picked Asian Pears into a "dip" of water and calcium chloride increases their storage-life. Different cultivars may vary in their preference for concentration and duration of the dip. Most papers suggest 2%-to-4% calcium chloride, by weight and a 20 minute-to-30 minute dip is adequate.

Fruit is placed into cardboard boxes and allowed to air-dry.

Icing the dip is also a way to rapidly cool the fruit prior to putting into the root-cellar.

Clorox Poolspa Calcium Hardness MSDS claims that the product (about $4 a pound) is 100% calcium chloride. 2.0 lbs of product in ten gallons will yield a 2.5% solution. The same amount in six gallons is just a skosh over 4.0% solution. Calculations are based on 2 pounds because the Clorox Poolspa comes in 4 pound packages.

Trash taking out the Trash (Cumberland Saga)

Stanley 5-1/2 Bench Plane. Image from
Sig was dog-tired as he led the Sunday Services. The attendance was phenomenal. The Doxstader’s living-room was packed and there were knots of people listening at the windows and outside the doors.

Everybody heard the “thunder” in the night and were more-than-politely curious about the details.

Sig ditched his prepared sermon and “Called an audible” as Gregor called it. He preached from Romans Chapter 6.

“Sometimes Paul is complicated and difficult to understand but he is very clear in Romans, Chapter 6. We were joined with Christ in baptism and our old self was crucified and died and we arise as men called to be filled with Grace with the waters of Baptism.” Sig said.

“Paul exhorts us to not pledge our body to being instruments of evil but rather to pledge our entire being to be tools of God’s will, as best we can discern it.” 

"Imagine Jesus working in  his father's shop" Sig said as he held his hands as if he were holding his Stanley 5-1/2 wood plane. The position of his gnarled hands evoked the hiss of a razor-sharp blade turning pine or spruce into long, fragrant curls of shavings as the master-craftsman squared what was warped, fitted what was not true and pared off what was stained and scarred by weather-and-use.
"When we allow ourselves to be God's tools, He is gripping our souls with both hands just like a carpenter using his tools" Sig lifting his hands slightly and shook and pulled as if somebody were trying to pull away his wood plane.
"When we die, if we are acting as God's tools, nobody...certainly not Lucifer...can rip us away from Him. There is no surer sign of Grace."

“Death is not a tragedy. It will happen to all of us. The tragedy is to not be in a state-of-Grace when we die, to not be a tool in the hands of God.

“Sadly, there are many who choose to be instruments of Satan. If we should die while committing grave sin, then we die with Lucifer gripping our soul with both of his hands. And while God could rip our souls out of Lucifer's hands...what reason have we given him to do so?” 
"That is the true tragedy because we will be sent to hell where we would see the radiant, blissful faces of those who died in a state of grace even as the flames of hell engulf us.”
“It is a simple choice. It is either one or the other. Simple is not the same as easy but God did not promise us easy.”
“Know that God continues to bless His people in Copperhead Cove.”

“Evil men, followers of Satan attempted to force their way into a home in the Cove. They failed and were sent away.”

“Be vigilant. Satan stalks God’s people like a lion pacing around a fire searching for the unwary and unprepared.”

The most discerning easily saw the shattered railing on Roger's porch and the blood stains that Alice had tried to scrub away. They saw the congealed blood on the cobbles of the second hairpin of the two-track. They had a pretty good idea of how much blood a man-sized animal can lose and survive.
They could read between the lines. Hard men had done hard things, righteous things in the dark of the night. Things not to be talked about casually.
What was warped had been squared and what was not-true had been fitted. The shavings had been swept into the fire.

They bowed their heads and prayed for the families of the deceased. They knew all too well that even children of the most righteous parents will sometimes choose Satan’s way. They thanked God that none of their Godly men had been hurt.


Deputy Rosa Canina wrinkled her nose as she stood near the abandoned car that had been reported to 9-1-1.

There was very little room beside the road and her cruiser and the old SUV took up most of it. Unfortunately, the only good place for her to stand was downwind of the SUV. The bodies in the vehicle had been shot. Whoever killed the men clearly believed that anybody worth shooting once was worth shooting a dozen times.

Their manner-of-death made the immediate area a crime-scene and protocol required that she maintain chain-of-evidence, for all the good that would come of it. She could see that at least a couple of the men had gang-tats.

The DA was notoriously lax on pursuing gang-crime. Some of it was economics. You could sink a boat-load of resources into investigation and odds were you would never secure enough evidence for a conviction. Part of it was cowardice. Gangs had no inhibitions about whacking county officials.

Nope. The official photographer would show up and take a bunch of pictures. The medical examiner would do the same at the morgue. Then they would be fed into an AI service that would spider through social media looking for images of thugs bragging about doing the deed. Some of them were stupid that way.

To her way of thinking, it would be a blessing if they all killed each other. One of the men she had gone to academy had been shot during a drug raid. The bullet penetrated through the stretch webbing beneath his arm and double-lunged him. Golden BB they called it. Sid was in the wrong place, wrong time, wrong angle.

Trash-taking-out-the-trash. That is what it was.


Two packages addressed to Sarah showed up at the end of the drive that were puzzling.

One was a package of tiny plants. The twigs were no taller than the breadth of Sarah’s hand and the roots were encased in soil in the size and shape of a half-cucumber. The twigs showed the tiniest bit of green cracking of their buds.

They were labeled with hand-written tags: Thiessen, Northline, Titania, Red Lake and Hinnonmaki Red. They were packed with a note that read “Please put these in the ground and care for them. They need full sun. I will be there soon. A”

Sarah wracked her brain trying to remember anybody from the Cove whose name started with “A” who would entrust her with such a task. She came up empty-handed.

The second package that showed up was even more puzzling. It was filled with “Kastanie”, not quite as large the Horse-Chestnuts that grew in the Dayton town square or the Yellow Buckeyes that grew on the moister, forested sites near Copperhead Cove. The nuts reminded her of the nuts Alice called "marones" that the locals called “chinky-pins” that grew over at the Frozen Head Park. Weighing the nuts in her hand, she judged them to be five or ten times heavier than chinky-pins.

Glancing at the return address, she saw the package was originally from Olive Hill, Kentucky and had been remailed from St Louis, Missouri.

The note in this package said “Seed-nuts. Please put them in a cool, moist spot. -A”

Curiouser and curiouser.
A tip of the fedora to Kevin Alviti for woodworking advice. He is a fellow blogger, a wood-worker and small-holder.