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On Tuesday the 20th of May, 2014, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville and noted that Route 85 has still not been fixed. The OF’s swear the Highway Department must be in cahoots with some body and fender shops in the area.

Tis the season for just about all the outdoor activities of the spring and summer months to start. One of these many activities is gardening. Last week the OFs touched on this subject but a new twist was mentioned this week. This new detail is in regard to raised beds, or complete gardens being raised, so the OFs don’t have to bend over so far to maintain them. Bending, as anybody over sixty will attest, is not the easiest body motion to do. One OF suggested using cinder blocks and another mentioned using old railroad ties. The last OF was jumped on because there is creosote in the old ties. To which the offended OF said, “Hey! When we were kids we chewed the stuff. On a hot day we would peel it from the telephone pole and chew it, and we are not dead yet.” Another OF wondered out loud who makes up all the rules saying that “creosote was the best wood preservative going and now it is bad, get around it an you will die.” Another OF thought that there was a new item that came on the market and the company wanted to sell it, so in order to make a place for it the government had to say the creosote was bad, just so they could sell the new wood preservative, and the new preservative is not half as good as creosote. “Just wait,” another OF added, “In a few more years the new preservative will be found to be hazardous to the tsetse fly and we won’t be able to use that either.

“Give me the good old creosote, oil based paints, hey, even white lead…these new paints offer as much protection as food dye in tap water.”

This scribe often wonders how we get from gardens to the tsetse fly, to creosote and paint all in a matter of minutes.

Without any fertilizer, or even planting in raised beds, the OFs say this is the year of the dandelions. Everywhere you look the dandelion’s yellow flower is dotting the landscape at least on the hill, and in the valley of Schoharie, and maybe Altamont and Rotterdam have the dandelion yellow carpet also. Some of the OFs remember their mother’s gathering the young dandelion leaves and using them as greens in salads and garnishes. One OF mentioned that using what pops up in lawns and fields, picking it, then using it to cook with is becoming a lost art. Another OF said he used to do a lot of that ─ collecting mushrooms, dandelions, burdock and other plants that the OF has forgotten about. One OF mentioned that he thinks he still has a stash of dandelion wine in the cellar. The OF added that if he went out today to forage in the forest he probably would come home with plants that would kill a horse in minutes, or a least give the OF the trots.

The OFs started talking about a subject that was both a little sad and a little scary. This topic was how much it hurts the OFs when their kids become seriously ill. “Why them ─ why not me? I am at the short end of the ruler,” was a general consensus. Many of the OFs have gone through this type of unwanted anxiety and have the same thoughts.

Somehow this started a few of the OFs talking about angels and how some of the OFs have had encounters with these beings. The OFs did not seem to be talking about the type of angels that has been perpetrated by humans as comely visions with golden hair and white feathered wings flying off floating through the air, but the OMOTM’s angels are people, known and unknown, that just seem to pop up and disappear. When the OG is in trouble, one can be a friend who for some unknown reason has the time to help.    The OGs began relating a few stories where a particular event would take place and help would come from out of the blue. This scribe thinks that we are all angels and when the time comes for us to be used we will be used and not even know that we are being used that way.

The OFs mentioned how unsafe it is to disturb a sleeping animal, especially a cat. “Yeah,” one OF said, “Disturbing a sleeping cat is not the smartest thing in the world to do, not if you want to maintain your eyeballs.”

“Not only a cat, but have you ever been kicked by a normally gentle horse?” a second OF said. “If you come up on the wrong side of the animal while it is sleeping that is a half a ton of flying hoofs that are flaying at anything within reach and that to the horse it could be a bear, mountain lion…or you. The horse also is not thinking ‘shoo go away’, the horse’s kicking is meant to harm, disable, or bring whatever startled the horse to an untimely demise.” The OFs think that the old adage to let a sleeping dog lie is a good one to heed around anything that has left this conscious world and you can see their chest is still heaving leave it be.

Those OFs who were at the Hilltown Café in Rensselaerville and having no intentions on disturbing any sleeping being (especially the wife) were: Bill Krause, Bob Benac, Art Frament, Harold Guest, Carl Walls, Robie Osterman, Frank Pauli, John Rossmann, Miner Stevens, Andy Tinning, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Jim Heiser, Lou Schenck, Gary Porter, Jack Norray, Ken Hughes, Mace Porter, Ted Willsey, Jim Rissacher, Bob Lassome, Mike Willsey, Harold Grippen, Elwood Vanderbilt, Gerry Chartier, and me.