Archive for category Derek

They eat trash, but so do we

The bears up here wander through the towns, people’s yards, onto the porches, decks, etc. They toss trash and rip down bird feeders but generally do minimal damage. Most people pay little attention beyond taking “cute” pix. Leiao, our recently deceased dog, treed a family of 4—mother and 3 cubs—in a mini-spinney right next to our porch about 3 years ago.
This year’s bear has been coming back every few days for the last couple months. The last tour, he/she overturned the compost bin but disturbed nothing, pulled open the door to the trash shed and hauled off a bag of trash without marring the door and carried the porch dustpan and brush down the steps without leaving a mark on them. Apparently a considerate but very curious critter.
Last night, Gracie (newest dog) was growling by the back door, then shot out so fast she ripped the screen loose and chased something off into the woods. Or so we thought. Reminded me I needed to bring in the bird feeder. Opened the door to the front porch–Linda and I were in the front room with all the lights on–and something directly in front of the door shot sideways off the porch, breaking the lower railing. Seemed too soon for the the usual bear to have gotten around front, so maybe we have a whole family who have targeted us–and possibly learned diversionary tactics. I’m beginning to feel they’re smarter than we are. Have they learned that when the lights are on inside, they can see in but we can’t see out?
As always, besides the broken lower rail from its panic, there was no damage to anything else–no footprints down below, not a flower disturbed, one small rock dislodged. Wish I could hire them to do the gardening.

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The Church of Unlimited Ammo

In a sense, those who say more gun laws will not save lives are correct. Because the problem is not laws, not even the guns themselves, but the gun culture unique to the U.S. We are the only country where the dominant religion of roughly 1/3 of the population is guns – not Christianity or any other normally recognized faith – with the Second Amendment as the only recognized scripture. That more guns increase safety is a matter of faith, and as such unassailable by logic or reason. Nothing will change until that tenet changes.
New laws to control guns won’t stop the next multiple killing or the one after it, though they might help start a change of attitude. What we need is not (just) new laws, but an outlook that places human life above gun ownership. That’s not currently the case. The “right to bear arms” in the minds of possibly half the adult male population outweighs the “right not to be killed.”
It’s hard to comprehend how such a mindset came to be, but it’s been fed and manipulated by the NRA and its followers. I must admit my most ironic fantasy is that some joker with an assault rifle will march in, openly, and obliterate the board of the NRA. That’s hardly an ethical or pacifist attitude, and I doubt it would improve the situation or change a single mind. But it would give me a warm feeling in my tummy.

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Lumbering along

A crew has been lumbering the shit out of the area lately because the Chinese are paying twice what the local sawmills do for hardwood. It’s shipped over, sawn (some to thinsy-winsy veneers), processed, then shipped back for I’m not sure what. Home Depot? All the loyal “buy American, support our country” locals have their hands out for Chinese checks with no problem. (Don’t blame ’em whatsoever).

Our little woods might have a few trees worth something, but talking to Rick, the deforester boss (who I liked a lot – open, straightforward guy), he’d have to rip our ten acres to flinders to get to them. I like trees better than people, so why the hell for a few bucks?

His crew was cutting on the 4th of July. He expects the Chinese price to go down and/or he has a deadline to meet and/or a bonus for early delivery. Guys like him I can respect for working their asses off 7 days a week, being honest about what they’re doing.

He seems to know everything I could imagine about trees (even though he left devastation behind at our uphill neighbor’s – not that Ralph would care). He told me that damned near every species of local tree is in danger of obliteration of one sort or another. We’re already having almost total loss of the beech, elm and ash population, with at least three types of threat to the hemlock – the major native tree.

He knows the stupidity of how the world works and what the result might be – almost total deforestation, because we’ve introduced every possible killer insect, fungus, etc., worldwide.

It will even out eventually, I suppose, but long after you and I have added our bones or ashes to the soil – which should do a little good.

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My Lyme is your Lyme

As some of you may know, Linda has Lyme Disease, which was treated for a month with antibiotics strong enough to leave her almost immobile a good deal of the time. She seems fine now, but it could come back. It’s hell to get rid of – maybe impossible (see below).
Lyme has become a true scourge up here, and apparently in other areas of the U.S. and other parts of the world. I don’t think it’s exaggerating to call it a hidden plague. The symptoms run the gamut from itching to rashes to muscle ache to fever to, so help me, brain malfunction, which makes it hard to diagnose – you get the supposedly “typical” rash and bullseye in only about 15% of cases. That’s also left it remarkably unrecognized overall, even up here: Pennsylvania is the epicenter for Lyme, with roughly a third of the cases reported across the country. And the test for it gives a lot of both false positives and false negatives (Linda came up negative the first time, then with one of the highest positive readings our doc had ever seen two months later).
The woman who published my first book (a PA native) has dropped out of publishing to get a more lucrative job because her husband had undiagnosed Lyme for years and can’t work regularly. With Tammy, who runs the embroidery shop in town, it affected her brain to the point she thought she was going crazy or getting early dementia before it was diagnosed. I’ve now talked to 5 or 6 others in which it chugged along, unrecognized, with lasting, debilitating effects.
It gets into areas of the body with low blood flow where it “hides” from the immune system and is seldom fully cured. So far, there’s no vaccine because it’s crept under the health radar while zika got all the publicity (and funds). If you’re not pregnant, Lyme looks like a far more virulent bastard than zika.
Don’t you love to get the latest apocalyptic health news?

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First book party

Come one, come all to Winterland Winery, 15 Flat Road, Lopez, PA, for a signing of Gifts of a Dead Man, June 18, 6-9 pm. Wine and Indian food. Probably a good deal of silliness too (at least we hope so).

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