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On a rather cold Tuesday, the 22nd of January, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh. Most of the OFs said that they came through Schoharie (and not over the mountain) to get to Middleburgh. That is the long way around for most of the OFs but Cotton Hill can be a little tricky to navigate in the winter months.

As the OFs talked about maneuvering the hills they noted the beautiful vistas that come into view, especially the views that pop up when traveling some of the tertiary roads in the hills. Many are spectacular equal to any place in the country. What brought this about was the sun shinning on Vroman’s Nose early in the morning with a tad of snow on that outcrop of rock. The view was wasted on the OFs that had their backs to the windows of the Diner.

The OFs hope that they are right in the name of the hollow off to the left when going down Treadelmire road from Cotton Hill road toward Abrams road and Gallupville. (This road is not recommended for the squeamish.) The OFs think it is Rundy Cup. There is a Rundy Cup mountain. The OFs think a nice ride would be to have breakfast at the Middleburgh Diner, take a right out of the parking lot about eight hundred feet, maybe less, to Cotton Hill road. Make a right on Cotton Hill (you have to make a right, making a left will place you in a driveway going into an equipment shed). Then just past the top of the hill and a little bit on the way down towards Dutch Settlement, Treadelmire road is on the left. Good luck, and oh, bring jacks, towing cable, and a couple of sandwiches to go from the Diner (just in case you become hung up on one of the ledges that cross the road) and a camera.

The OFs began talking about expiration dates on food and how much food is thrown away that is still perfectly good. Milk was the first example. None of the OFs pay any attention to that, except one OF who said that either his daughter, or daughter-in-law…oh-oh (this scribe has a very tiny note book, and makes very tiny notes, and sometimes they are hard to translate when putting words on this white screen. When the notes are really bad this scribe skips them all together because everything that is in this report is real you know). Back to the milk, and the daughter (or daughter-in-law) who chucks it even if it is three-quarters full because of the expiration date printed on the package. The same goes for cereal. The OFs said that your nose, or the curdling in coffee, will let you know when milk is bad. If an egg is black or slimy, or has a blood spot, or smells rotten it probably is, then it is bad. When bread has spots of mold on it then it is bad.

The shelf life on peanut butter is pretty short according to what is on the label, but the OFs say that some of the peanut butter they have used is a year old and older. Syrup is another thing. One OF reported finding some syrup in the back of the cupboard and used it on pancakes then looked at the price sticker and it was nine years old but it was just as good as when they bought it.

Cheese is also another thing. Hard cheese that is. Just cut the mold off and go ahead put the rest on that piece of apple pie. The OFs asked how much good food is thrown away because some people pay too much attention to the use-by labels.

Most of the OFs are gregarious and giving people and this was pointed out this morning because from out of nowhere an OF started mentioning that he gave something away that he had no use for, and a friend of his knew someone who could use it. This OF knew the friend of course, but had no clue who the recipient was but gave it away anyway. The recipient went to use it and it didn’t work. The friend came and thanked the OF for letting his friend have the machine but it didn’t work. The friend wasn’t complaining nor was his friend it was just a point of information. The OF who had the machine in the first place did one of the standard hmmm….O.K…and then the OF went to the fellow who had the machine and the OF spent half a day getting it going, then took the time showing him how to operate it.

All this was done in the name of being a good neighbor and for no other reason…not money, not I am a good guy, not for bragging rights…the OF just did it because it was the right thing to do. This story came about by the OF asking a simple question of another OF at the breakfast if his fix was right. (Last sentences were this scribe’s thoughts).

Guns were still a topic, however, as one OF put it, “Now that we are all criminals, and have to fear the police knocking on the door the OF bond is tighter still, remember the Calico Indians.” Again, enough of that.

The Old Men of The Mountain offer their condolences to Ted Willsey, and his family in the passing of his wife Dottie. Dottie has been ill for quite awhile and is now at peace and in the hands of the Lord.

The OFs that made it to the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh and who noticed that cars today seem to start right up no matter how cold it is were: Roger Chapman, Roger Shafer, Harold Guest, Harold Grippen, John Rossmann, Frank Pauli, Robie Osterman, Glenn Patterson, Steve Kelly, Jim Heiser, Jim Rissacher, Bill Krause, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Gary Porter, Mike Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, George Washburn, and me.