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On Tuesday the tenth of April, 2012, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Middleburg Diner in Middleburgh, and it was a typical breakfast.

There were good mornings, and how ya doin’s, with nobody really listening to the replies. That was only a blank question that really did not receive an answers. We had the normal inquiries about getting things done. It might seem funny, but to that question the replies are listened to. It’s hard to discern when different conversations start, and how topics are formulated and introduced. The topics at the scribe’s table were lower power bills, VA hospitals and doctors, the Amish, snakes in Florida, pets, (these two topics were related), keeping stuff the OF’s don’t need, medicines and supplements, logging, and burning wood, (also related), heating the house, fuel oil and gas, (why not) and gossip. No religion or politics. Oh, and wheelbarrows. Now to pick some that may have some interest. This is as hard as trying to make the proper way to cut your toe nails interesting.

The OF’s all were surprised that their power bills were lower this month and noticeably so or it would not have been brought up at the breakfast. Some of the OF’s thought it was because the weather was so warm, while a couple other OF’s said they read something awhile back about the Grid going to offer some kind of rebate, or a lower one time price for power for some reason or other but none of those OF’s could remember. (This is normal.) The OF’s then took this information and coupled it with the warm weather and came up with a pretty sound reason for the average power bill being lower. Now if this could be a continuing program the OF’s would by happy, and as the OF’s said so should everyone else.

(This did not come up at the meeting but National Grid in their bill did have a statement about the lower bills, but as this scribe’s wife said to this OF, “just like everything else you OF’s don’t read, maybe it is because you have forgotten how, or just faked it during school and never learned anyway.”)

Because many of the OF’s are veterans the revamping of the VA hospital was brought up. Some were hoping that this would make more physicians want to practice there. The ages of most of the OF’s that are veterans makes the VA and its services more attractive because of the lower cost. With our people who are in the service all over the place doing whatever it makes these hospitals more important. During WWII there were as many service wounded or killed in one day than in all the years we have been in some kind of skirmish or war since. The VA hospitals were started to handle all the traumas of earlier conflicts, and really do need upgrading according to the OF’s that are able to take advantage of these medical facilities. According to the OF’s, not only for themselves, but all those that are wearing our uniforms now (and voluntarily putting themselves in harms way) should also have the best medical care available, and they are paying a higher price for this care than anyone can imagine. At the time the OF’s were of an age to be in the military the OFs had no choice. A notice came in the mail telling the OFs they had been selected to serve and where to show up for induction physical and when. No ifs, ands or buts. This little notice started “Greetings from the President of the United States.”

A few of the OFs have returned from Florida and Arizona, and started telling their winter hideaways stories, and these OFs started talking about the big snake phenomenon in Florida. The OFs mentioned that there are people who do not think the extinction of a species of animal has no effect on the others. Well the OF’s are here to tell you — after wandering our celestial ball for more years than many want to count — that this does have an effect, right down to the smallest insect and the largest whale.

People that are careless enough to introduce species of animals from one hemisphere to the other where there are no natural enemies soon wreck havoc on the animal population of the area where they are introduced, and this affects the human population as well because the OFs are not vegetable, or mineral. The OF’s are animal, and many people think that is all the OF’s are…animals.

An OF said a friend of his had a cat and a dog, and one day the cat was gone and under their porch they found the reason why. There was a huge Burmese python under the porch — end of cat, and a good thing they found that large reptile or it would have been end of dog. We have that pest of a bird, the starling, which competes with the native birds for food so we have fewer of the native birds. At least the starling doesn’t eat our pets.

The OF’s started talking about how we lucked out this winter as far as heating bills are concerned and this brought up the conversation of burning wood. One OF mentioned he just got a new truck — not a brand new truck, but a truck that has a new bed on it — for working in the woods. This OF mentioned that what he does with the truck is cut the tree, then cuts this tree up right there in the woods into stove lengths and then places these on his new truck to haul out of the woods. Then he cleans up his toppings and is done with it. This he says keeps all the mess away from the house, and he handles the wood easier, and fewer times. Plus all the sawdust and bark is out in the woods where it belongs. It will decompose and add to the earth as nature intended.

One OF said, “That is all well and good because you are still able to work like that. I have would have trouble just getting the chainsaw started, let alone use it to cut wood, then pick it up to load the truck. No thanks, my body refused to do stuff like that years ago.”

Those OFs attending the breakfast at the Middleburg Diner in Middleburgh, and for the most part car pooling and not driving their logging trucks, were: Steve Kelly, Frank Pauli, Jim Heiser, Harold Guest, Miner Stevens, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Mark Traver, Glenn Patterson, Mace Porter, Garry Porter, Arnold Geraldsen, Don Moser, Tim Thompson, Willard Osterhout, Mike Willsey, Gerry Cartier, Harold Grippen, and me.

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