Back in 2004, I was in the Big Bend area of SW Texas. That area is about as unwelcoming as a place as is yet it has a kind of beauty unlike anything found here in Southern Ohio. I was watching a video taken from the veranda of an old abandoned ghost town mansion that was being used as a two-room B&B. The sunrises and sunsets were spectacular and even during the day, the light changes the color and shapes of the hills and canyons. Every day is different as is every moment of every day. Except for the heat that veranda would be a wonderful place to sip a cold one and watch it all unfold.
Back in the ’50s, it was quite common to see bent willow furniture sitting on people’s porches and patios. A childhood friend had two chairs on their porch and I always loved sitting in them. They were handmade by an older man who lived in a small shack along a nearby creek. The creek and surrounding wetlands gave him all the raw materials he needed.
He would build single chairs as well as couches and side tables. The fellow didn’t have a car or truck so he pushed a large two-wheeled cart loaded with his furniture up and down the village streets peddling his wares. On days he didn’t have furniture to sell he would push his cart around town hauling away people’s scrap metals and newspapers.
I believe the only piece of willow furniture we ever had was a small child’s rocking chair that one of our daughters used for her children.
Several years ago I was driving through the Florida Panhandle and came upon a large pickup truck with a cab-over rack. The vehicle was heavily loaded with beautiful bent willow furniture. I don’t know where they were from or where they were going but I sure wish I’d chased them down and brought a couple of chairs home.
It’s been a long time since I gave the subject any thought but today I came across a video of a young man in Kentucky who’s keeping the craft alive. If I wasn’t so damned old now I’d look the guy up and place an order. I’ll post the video below and hopefully, this will bring back some pleasant memories for you.
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Late last summer the US Commonwealth of Puerto Rico was struck by two major hurricanes, Irma and Maria. Along with the US Virgin Islands these American territories were devastated. The physical infrastructure and economies of these islands remain far from recovery. NPR recently reported:
“Puerto Rico still has areas contending with terrible living conditions following Hurricane Maria and the lackluster response to the storm from the mainland United States. Even the deadly effects of the storm are far from over: With many still living without power or their lives otherwise disrupted, particularly elderly populations, the overall suicide rate in Puerto Rico increased 27 percent in 2017 compared to 2016 levels.”
These people are American citizens yet, in many ways our government has turned its back on them. Somehow America’s president appears to think that flying into the scene and tossing a few rolls of paper towels is all that’s needed. It gave him his photo opportunity.
Back in the 1960s me and some guys I worked with took a hunting/camping trip into the Sierra Nevada Mountains east of Fresno, CA.
We spent Friday and Saturday nights in a very primitive campground at about 6,000 feet. On the first night we built a nice fire and sat around until pretty late drinking beer and telling lies. None of us had a tent so we slept out in the open with nothing but sleeping bags.
Most people know that the secret to turning tough cuts of meat into tender, juicy, and delicious barbecue involves cooking it in a smokey, low heat environment for a long time. Low and slow as the saying goes.
Over the years I’ve tried lots of different smokers and seen many more being used by others, including competition BBQ teams. Just about anything can be used if the temperature can be controlled while introducing smoke. At the Georgia State BBQ Championship I even saw a guy using the interior and front trunk of a VW Beetle for a smoker. You couldn’t see what was inside, however, because the windows were blacked out by layers of smokey residue.
Several years ago I got tired of tending to hours of charcoal and wood fires and began trying to create smoke with my Weber propane grill. The problem is, wood won’t smolder and smoke at the low temps needed to cook a pork butt slowly.
My solution turned out to be creating a separate “hot” fire for the wood chips, and a “low” fire for the meat. I took an aluminum pie pan, punched some ventilation holes in it, built a small charcoal fire in it, and once the coals got hot enough I piled on the chip. I then lit off the gas burners, adjusted for a temperature of about 225 degrees, and let it do the low and slow magic while the charcoal kept the smoke rolling.
I was so busy getting the boat cleaned and ready I had no time left for packing a tackle box. Luckily my rods were still in my van from the last time I went to the saltwater.
During the week I had to stop at a tackle shop a few times and was floored over what has happened to the price of terminal tackle. Lead sinkers are triple what I remember, hooks double, and a spool of good 8 pound line that commonly sold for around $6 was not $15.
Making matters worse, I had everything I bought, and much more, back home in my garage. Where in my garage is another question but before the next trip I’m digging it out.
Wanna buy a duck? Well you can buy one duck or six hundred for this years McClain High School Band Boosters annual Duck Race. Tickets are on sale at Jett’s Embroidery and the Corner Pharmacy for $5 each. First place pays $300, second $200, and third $100. The race, which is part of G3’s annual Paddle on Paint Creekfest will begin at 2:00 pm at Greenfield’s Felson Park on Sunday, May 17th.
Advanced reservations for kayak and canoe trips during the Creekfest may be made at…
My wife and I were near Bainbridge this past week and spotted a pair of bald eagles perched in the top of a tree along Paint Creek. We’ve seen a single eagle in that area on several occasions but this was the first for a pair.
Today I sat in a meeting with representatives of the Army Corp of Engineers and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. The topic of our area’s eagle population came up and it was reported we have three nesting pairs and a fourth that “may” be trying to nest.
Specific locations weren’t revealed but one pair is near Bourneville, another near Bainbridge, and the third at Rocky Fork Lake.
A truck driving friend of mine reported being along the upper Mississippi River and spotting a grouping of around seventy-five golden and bald eagles. Wouldn’t that be a traffic stopper?
If you live in our area of Ohio you know that every spring many locals come out of hibernation and proceed directly into the woods in search of morel mushrooms. The morel chasers will begin showing up in coffee shops with great tales of shopping bags full and pictures of large finds will fill the social media sites. It’s worth noting that mushroomers aren’t as big a liars as fishermen but only because their season is so much shorter.
I’ve never been good at finding mushrooms. When I was building my house in the woods a woman walked through the woods and told me very pointedly that I was destroying one of the best mushroom plots known to humanity. In following years I and friends walked these woods and came up empty every time. I’m pretty convinced I couldn’t find a morel if one walked up, kicked me in the chin, and barked.
Earlier in the winter my wife and I were on our way to Bainbridge and saw a mature bald eagle sitting in the tops of a sycamore tree, surveying the waters of Paint Creek. It was the first time either of us had seen eagles in the wild in Ohio. A week later we saw it again, sitting in the same tree top.
Today on Facebook a friend posted a couple of photos of eagle activity around Rocky Fork Lake. I don’t know who took the photos but I’m pretty sure they were taken very recently. I knew there were eagles at the lake but wasn’t aware there were so many.
My friend Dave Allen is a commercial artist and operates a Cincinnati company named Greenbird. His specialty is environmentally safe products for increasing bird and butterfly habitat around one’s home. I recently received an email from Dave about a new line of products that would make a wonderful Christmas present for the birder or gardener in your life. For further details about these new products click here. Dave’s complete business website is at Greenbirdhouse.com.
My wife came in the bedroom last evening carrying a Tupperware bowl containing a bizarre looking mouse and insisting I get up and take some photos. Living in the country we’re quite use to capturing field mice in our have-a-heart traps but we’ve never seen a mouse that comes close to this one. Check out the photos and any information would be appreciated.
I posted a photo of the Rock Bridge bridge that crosses Paint Creek in Fayette County. That photo prompted several people to start talking about camping along the creek and the times they got soaked by torrential downpours.
I’m pretty sure anybody who’s ever spent much time in a tent can recall waking up in a pool of rainwater and spent the rest of the night wishing they were anyplace else on earth. When we were kids we spent lots of summer nights camped somewhere along Paint Creek and its tributaries. The tents we used were surplus WWII Army tents. Each soldier was meant to carry half a tent, one pole, and a few wooden stakes. At night a couple of guys would buddy up and put their halves together to attain a little shelter from the elements.
These canvas tents had no flooring and keeping dry required digging a diversion trench around the perimeter of the tent to carry away run off. If it rained too hard the trench
Several weeks ago we met some old friends at Pike Lake State Park for a reunion. For many years our families spent the same week there each summer and their kids sort of became our kids. During the day we walked around the park reliving old memories and checking out the current state of the place.
While many things have changed one constant is the presence of pit toilets throughout the park and camping area. Where such facilities were once the norm they are rapidly vanishing into the pages of history.
I posted a picture of one of these toilets just to evoke some memories and it did just that. It also got me thinking about a reality TV program I was watching about a family living in the wilds of Alaska and relying on a pit toilet.
Living in the Alaskan wilderness requires that in a short span of three months of summer you waste no time getting done all the things necessary for survival once the snows begin to blow. It requires utmost attention to the detail since there is little room for error.
While preparing for winter the one thing the family didn’t notice was the filling up of their pit toilet. The normal procedure is once the toilet has filled a new hole is dug some distance away, the outhouse that sits over the pit is moved t the new hole, and the old hole covered with dirt from the new hole.
Again, these poor folks didn’t notice it was time to dig the new hole until after the freeze set in. On one very chilly fall morning one of them walked down the path for a sit and found themselves poised on the pointed summit of a frozen mountain of poo. Just imagine experiencing an ice-cycle of poop trying to penetrate your porthole!
To solve their problem they had to build a huge fire on the ground where the new hold would be dug by hand, lay sheets of tin roofing over the hot coals, and allow the make shift oven to thaw the frozen ground so the dig could begin. When soften the new pit was dug and their very ornate outhouse moved to its new location.
I really don’t know why I thought any of you should know about this, it will probably never be the answer to a Jeopardy question. Nevertheless, I just think these things are inherently interesting and I enjoyed the challenge of writing about something many people don’t commonly talk about, let alone want to picture in their mind.
On a deep dark night many years ago my wife and I were sitting in our living room watching TV. It was summer and the windows and doors were mostly open. Suddenly, from somewhere in the [pullquote]By the way, my next article about fishing is going to be about the thirteen pound blue gill I caught at Rocky Fork Lake.[/pullquote]woods nearby our house, we heard the most indescribable scream imaginable. It was a sound neither of us had ever heard before and within a few seconds we heard it a second time.
I quickly grabbed a shotgun and a bright powerful flashlight and we headed into the wood in search of whatever was being torn to shreds. Long story short, whatever it was must have been scared off by our presence and we never again heard such a sound.
Last week a friend reported on Facebook what seemed like a similar experience. She posted a YouTube sound track of two raccoons fighting and after twenty years we now think we know what it was in our woods.