Guest Contributor – War Pig – The Chicken Story

In addition to his other occupations, War Pig is a gifted story teller and that is an honorable profession.  —  photog

 

Since people seem to like my stories of life pre-1980, here is one from my callow youth.

Another tale from my youth.

When I was quite young, in the middle nineteen-fifties, I went out to watch my paternal grandmother catch, kill and clean a chicken for supper. It was my first time watching. I helped her catch a fat, old hen (her chickens were all free range, plus they got feed). She took it up and with her dangerously sharp butcher knife, she beheaded it in one fell swoop. That didn’t bother me. What got me is that the headless chicken was set down to run and pump out the blood. Chickens can run for an amazingly long time without a head.

Well, the chicken, by chance, came straight at me, spraying blood. That was too much for my young mind and I took off screaming bloody murder while the chicken followed me. I ran to the fence and climbed up the post and perched there, crying, while the headless chicken finished its act of terror by flopping on the ground, spurting blood. Mamaw was laughing so hard she could hardly bend over to pick up the chicken, tie the legs together and hang it on a hook on the side of the shed to finish bleeding out.

She eventually coaxed me off the post and to come and watch the rest of the operation. It didn’t help that the chicken’s head was still apparently alive, it’s beak moving as if to curse the both of us. I stood behind mamaw, putting her between me and the soulless fowl. She heated up a wash pan of water to boiling over a small gas burner, then took down the chicken’s body and drenched it in the scalding water. With a gloved hand she removed most of the feathers then used a small paring knife to pull the “blood quills”. She opened the chicken, keeping the heart, liver, gizzard and egg sack (the egg sack is what mamaw kept for herself, papaw got the rest) and throwing the rest of the offal, and the head, to the farm dogs and cats. A cat grabbed the head and ran off with it.

She then went inside and cut up the chicken. Mamaw had likely cut up hundreds, if not thousands of chickens and she took less than a minute to do it. Her butcher knife had been made for her by papaw from an old truck leaf spring and boot heel leather for handle scales. It was scary sharp. It seemed she just waved the knife over the chicken and it fell apart into the bowl. She then filled the bowl with water, added salt and set it in the fridge to brine. She put the back into the freezer for making chicken stock. She changed the water twice to get rid of leftover blood. Later, she put the chicken into buttermilk and let it set for two hours until time to cook supper. She got it out of the buttermilk, dredged it in flour, waited until the coating softened, then dredged it in flour again and fried it in lard. Better tasting chicken you never ate.

The brining and changing the water drew all the blood from the meat so mamaw’s chicken was always clean down to the bone, none of the red nonsense you see by the bones in restaurant chicken today. The buttermilk does something magical to the meat and frying it in real leaf lard imparts a flavor vegetable oils or shortening cannot match.

As she set the table, she told papaw the story and he almost choked laughing so hard. I got a wing and a drumstick all to myself to go with the mashed potatoes and fresh chicken gravy, made from the fond, melted lard/chicken fat and leftover bits in the pan and considered myself a lucky boy.

 

Guest Contributor – War Pig – On Family

War Pig put up a comment on my Reclaiming the Family thread so I asked him if I could add it to his folder and so here it is for anyone who didn’t see it on the comments. – photog

We moved to California from Ohio in the 60s when dad got transferred from North American Aviation to Rockwell/Rocketdyne and went to supervise the making of the boosters for the space program. Mom took a fall at the ice-skating rink at the Topanga Plaza and had to have bone chips removed from her brain. Her father came out to stay with us kids until mom was back on her feet. Six months. Dad had to keep working to provide the health insurance and also to feed us and pay the rent (even back then California rents were horrible compared to Ohio). Since papaw was retired and his other daughter lived across the street from his home, he could leave mamaw there while he came out. He cooked, made us kids clean, took us to school functions and all the rest of the things mom would have done. He took us to visit mom at the hospital so she could remember us (she had temporary amnesia and did not know she was married or had kids, initially). She had lost twelve years or memory in the fall and skull fracture.

Papaw was always a hoot. He had a little larceny in his heart and was a lot more lenient than mom had been about what we did. He aided and abetted me and my brother’s carbide cannon incident, for instance. We had fruit trees in the yard and he’d go out and pick oranges and make fresh squeezed OJ for us at breakfast. He makes pancakes and biscuits using buckwheat flour.

Later, after the space program ended and massive layoffs happened in the aerospace industry, we moved back to Ohio. Dad got a supervisor job at a plant that made wheels for US military vehicles. We were close to both sets of grandparents. We kids worked on our paternal papaw’s farm and also rode with our maternal papaw when he delivered frozen chickens. Me and my brother loaded and unloaded chickens and papaw drove the truck. On the farm we drove tractors and other farm equipment and the pickup truck, too. We baled hay and straw and put it up in the barn. Me and my brother ate like starving Clydesdales but worked it all off on the farm or the chicken runs. Sis stayed with mamaw on the farm and helped her. At our other papaw’s house, she helped mamaw bake pies for the local restaurants while we helped papaw with the chickens.

Later, when I was a papaw, I took care of my grandson. My wife got to see and hold her grandson before she passed. Since I had no wife and was retired, I concentrated on being papaw for my grandson. I babysat while my daughter and her husband worked. They dropped him off for breakfast and picked him up after supper. All day we played and did things together. To the playground, fishing, walking in the woods. When he was school age, I picked him up from school and we goofed off or I helped him with homework and we had supper together. I would not trade my time with him for a billion dollars. This year he graduates college. Hopefully, I’ll live to see some great grandchildren.

 

Reclaiming the Family – Part 3 – Recruit Grandma and Grandpa

Reclaiming the Family – Part 1 – Bring Back the Dowry

Reclaiming the Family – Part 2 – The Family Business

At least going back a generation or more a pattern of behavior has become established in the colder areas of the country that once people reach retirement age they head south to Florida or Arizona and live out their days in a retirement community.  And I suppose if you are sufficiently wealthy this would not prevent you from supporting and staying in touch with your descendants back North.

But in today’s world of limited opportunities and constrained resources another choice is to use your retirement and the resources you have accrued to reinforce and enhance your family’s opportunities.  Think about how difficult it is for a family with two working parents to provide the opportunities and attention that their kids need to grow up right.  If they manage to check their kids’ homework and get them to sports practices and games that’s probably taking up their whole free time left over from work and sleep.

Now as touched on earlier in this series it is much to be preferred that children have a stay at home mom to take care of them and make sure they’re staying out of trouble but even then, kids should have a lot more of their family’s time and attention.  For instance, who says a father is the only one who can bring the kids to a baseball game or a museum or a movie.  Why can’t grandpa do that?  And grandma is about a million times better at babysitting babies than a 15-year-old girl who will spend all her time on the phone while the baby sits glued to Sesame Street.

With respect to school work many of the baby boomers are STEM professionals and can not only help out with homework but can provide real world insights to children on what career paths make sense and which are dead ends.  For instance, if one of my grandsons asked me whether he should major in computer science or intersectional gender studies I think I’d be able to give him a very clear answer!

But this is just the tip of the iceberg.  Even the tradition of having the Sunday dinner at Grandma’s house does more for bonding the family than an occasional phone call to Florida provides.  And it may provide the opportunity for a request for financial or other help that otherwise wouldn’t happen.

And what are you sacrificing if you forego the condo in Florida.  Playing shuffleboard with other old people that you don’t even know?  Missing out on skin cancer?  Sure, maybe your arthritis won’t hurt quite as much but don’t forget those alligators that are waiting to pick you off at the mail box.  And how does that stack up against teaching your grandkids how to fly a kite or telling them about the time their great-great grandfather shot it out with armed robbers from the running board of a car.

And there may even be a payback for you besides satisfaction.  When the day comes when you are against it and your time is up maybe there will be someone to shed a tear and say a kind word at your bedside instead of just a text message from up North to say goodbye.

 

Reclaiming the Family – Part 2 – The Family Business

Reclaiming the Family – Part 1 – Bring Back the Dowry

 

Back in the 1960s when I was a kid.  My father told me that the key to success was getting as much education as I could in a technical field and working for private industry.  In my own lazy and wayward manner, I took his advice and on the whole the advice was actually very sound.  I ended up in engineering, supported my family through their college years and lived a reasonably comfortable existence at a step beyond what my parents had.

Fast forward to 2019.  I have grandsons who will be coming of age in the next five to ten years.  Would my father’s advice be as good for them as it was for me?  Maybe, maybe not.  Let’s look at some of the factors that have changed.

Back when I was young, the American economy was the engine of world economic growth.  Technical innovation in almost every field occurred primarily here.  Computer science was the greatest innovation but advances in materials science, chemistry, medicine and electronics were remarkable.  Jobs in all fields went through booms and busts in synchrony with the business cycles but people raised families, bought houses and sent their kids to college on the strength of American industry employing them consistently.  And this was at all levels.  They needed production personnel, tradesmen, maintenance workers, support staff, along with scientists, engineers, accountants, lawyers and business managers.  America worked.

But starting in the early 1990s American business got the bright idea that American business didn’t need American workers.  First slowly then rapidly, jobs were shifted from where labor was expensive to where it was dirt cheap.  NAFTA was the beginning of this.  A factory across the border in Juarez could build automotive parts for a fraction of what it would cost in El Paso right across the border in Texas.  But things really got out of hand when the globalists shifted whole industries to China.  I personally saw the beginning of the export of polystyrene manufacturing to China in the 1990s and assume that the wholesale loss of intellectual property happened in just the same way with all the other industries that were sent there to avoid the environmental regulations and the normal labor costs in the United States.  And with those industries went all the manufacturing jobs that had existed with them here.  In my later career I was in an industry that was relatively immune to this devastation but lately between off-shoring and the importation of Indian and Chinese scientists and engineers the same kind of fate awaits these higher-level jobs and the kids coming out of school hoping for them.

For now, the crème de la crème of the best professional schools can hope to find good jobs in the legacy industries remaining in the United States.  But for everyone else it is an uncertain and changeable environment.

Recently what I’ve been thinking about is small business ownership.  If you can select an industry that is relatively hard to replace by cheap overseas labor, owning your own business can both help someone raising a family and also provide jobs for family that will be needing them as they reach maturity.

What kinds of businesses could these be?  Obvious ones are the building and business trades.  Electricians, carpenters, plumbers, HVAC installers, roofers, mechanics, IT technicians and repairmen.  Of course, there are all kinds of businesses that haven’t been completely devastated by cheap Chinese crap from Amazon.com.  Custom manufacturers and specialty equipment manufacturers, specialty metal workers and welders all provide products and services for businesses that still exist in the US.  Someone who is good at orbital sanitary welding and is conscientious about the paperwork that goes along with it can make a good living servicing the needs of microelectronics and pharmaceutical customers.

The way I think about it, if you’ve spent your life building up an expertise maybe you can use some of these skills to start or buy a business that you can work your children into.  Giving your children a leg up in the kind of world we live in today sounds like something that make sense.  Schooling will still have its value but instead of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to got to Stanford you could go to State Tech and then go to work for the family business.

I’m still working on my own version of this plan but I throw it out there as an idea.

Of course, it’s not a panacea.  There’s no guarantee that your kids will be interested in the field you start a business in.  After all, if your kid wants to be an astrophysicist chances are, he won’t want to be a plumber.  And it’s not uncommon that family members cannot work together because of differences in temperament.

But there are advantages to working for family that are unique.  Transitioning a business from a father to his sons provides a flexible environment for on the job training, reasonable terms for both sides of the ownership transition and the possibility for someone even beyond normal retirement age to provide real value to the business on a part time basis.  It might even make long term health care more affordable for the older generation.

Obviously, many people aren’t in a position to start a small business, especially while raising a family.  It might even be more applicable to grandfathers but I think it’s another way to try to protect your family from the negative changes that the American business world has seen in the last generation.  Something to consider.

 

Reclaiming the Family – Part 3 – Recruit Grandma and Grandpa

 

What I Took Away from the Weekend Horror Fest

I waited yesterday instead of writing a post.  I wanted to sift through my thoughts.

My opinion is we’re in a lot of trouble.  And I’m not talking about Democrats and Second Amendment attacks and presidential polls.  Put all that aside for a minute.

Connor Betts was 24.  Patrick Crusius is 21.  We have young men who are of an age where they should be enjoying life to its fullest.  Instead they’re flushing their lives down the drain in a senseless orgy of violence.  And it’s happening more and more frequently.  Without a doubt, the ones committing these crimes are the most damaged of their generation.  They are probably terrible misfits that don’t feel empathy and live inside the tiny world of their own thoughts.  There have always been people like this and there have always been crimes like these.  But nowhere near as many.

What I’m afraid we are doing is widening a window of people who can fall into this kind of trap.  Adolescence is a rough time, especially for males.  Without someone watching out for them it’s easy to get involved in destructive behavior.  And that someone no longer exists.  Nobody is watching out for these kids.  Mom and Dad are both working.  Many times, there isn’t even another brother or sister around to communicate with.  No one even knows or cares if they go to school.  Work doesn’t leave any room for these kids.  So, they spend their time on the internet or video games.  If they fall behind in school or get into trouble often the parents and teachers will paper over it and make believe that something didn’t happen or didn’t mean anything.

And in the last ten years we have added a new dimension.  The Millennials grew up in a world where there were no jobs to be had.  So, after spending twelve years bored in school, without a job you live in your parents’ basement and have no adult life or even prospects of it.  So, in addition to the truly disturbed individuals we are pushing the fragile normal people into the same place.  They’re angry and are looking for someone to punish for their wasted lives.

The mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton are, as always, shocking.  But what isn’t a surprise is that these two young men were dangerously mentally ill long before their rampages.  Just looking at the pictures and reading the accounts of their histories should be enough to convince people that what we have in this country isn’t a gun problem, it’s societal dysfunction causing a mental health emergency.  Look at the kid in Ohio.  The stories contain the fact that while in high school he had a list of kids he wanted to kill and a list of girls he wanted to rape.  If you’re the parent of this boy what else do you need to hear to know that your son is a ticking time bomb?  And maybe they did know.  And maybe it’s just where we are as a country that they didn’t know what to do.  What would I have done in that case?  What can be done?  These aren’t easy questions to answer.  But they sure do have to be answered.  We’ve got a whole continent full of young men growing up in a world that doesn’t value their talents and doesn’t have anything to keep them gainfully employed.  That is a recipe for extinction.

So other than a lot of talk, what does all this mean?  Well for the most deeply disturbed we have to stop thinking that antidepressants will allow criminally insane individuals to walk among us.  These people need to be institutionalized for life.  That’s for their own good but mostly for ours.

But for the run of the mill kid growing up in America there’s still plenty that needs to be done.  What my take away from this is spend a lot of time with your sons and your grandsons.  Don’t assume that just by keeping them in school and driving them to soccer practice that they’re okay.  Talk about the future with them.  Talk realistically and constructively about how kids transition into adults.  Know their friends.  Check their homework and see if they’re prepared for tests.  Pay attention!  Be aware of their activities on the internet.  Help them to socialize in a constructive way.  And don’t let them feel alone or bored.  A kid is better off with a manual labor job than sitting around alone all day.

You may think that these things only happen to the worst of the worst people.  But I don’t think that’s the case.  The world that we live in isolates us and destroys our communities, families and especially our sons.  Don’t let it.  Even the kids who don’t go off the deep end are struggling in an environment that’s almost unfathomable even for adults.  Help them!  Adapt to the problems, compensate for the dysfunctional arrangements we live under.  Save your kids.  They’re the only possession of value you have.

 

Panbowl – Sturgill Simpson – A Short Country Music Review

Yesterday I put up a post about Sturgill Simpson’s album Big Top Mountain.  I related how I had not loved his two other albums, “Metamodern Sounds in Country Music” and “A Sailor’s Guide to Earth” but that on the former album I thought that the song Panbowl was extremely good.  This post is to expand on that comment.  One of the things that country music can do is tell a story.  In fact, I think that possibly the best country songs are the ones that do that best.  Panbowl seems to be an autobiographical remembrance of youth and family.  It feels to me like a completely heartfelt expression of anguish at the loss of the simple joys of being a child in a family.  He paints a vivid picture of an extended family that provided love and belonging and what it means to lose this.

Admittedly I am attracted to strong sentiment so that might be the reason I rate this song so highly, but I think many country music fans will think this is an excellent song.  In any case I consider it the best song of his I’ve heard and this is because it seems honest and describes something I think is admirable, love of family.  Check it out and see if you agree.

The ZMan Has a Post “The Haunting” About the Disruption of Sex Roles in Western Society

http://thezman.com/wordpress/?p=14329

ZMan talks about the present disruption that afflicts young men and women and how it has led to all the aberrant behavior we see today.  His conclusion is that the society we’ve allowed to evolve no longer functions to bring men and women together to form normal functioning families.  Well, that seems accurate. But it doesn’t go into what needs to be done.  I think it goes without saying that leaving things the way they are will only make the problem worse.  What needs to happen is for the society at large to incentivize young people to get married and raise families.  Lobby for government policies that make families affordable; school vouchers, tax deductions for dependents and a subsidy for married stay at home moms, tax benefits for companies that provide family benefits to their employees.  And on the individual front it’s necessary for all of us to start recreating traditional social organizations to provide a place for young people to meet.  If the churches and the old line fraternal organizations have been converged and destroyed it’s necessary to form new ones.  With the Supreme Court finally out of liberal hands perhaps it’s possible that the right of free association may resurface and we can again organize our personal lives to exclude the mentally ill and the disruptively abnormal.  I think we’re in a bad place but I think it will improve when we have more control over the anti-traditional forces that are continuously attacking the normal roles of men and women in a functional society.  Anyway, that’s my thought.

The Incredibles 2 – A Science Fiction & Fantasy Movie Review

The trailer for this movie says it is fourteen years since the original Incredibles debuted.  That must be true but because at that time I had neither children nor grandchildren of an age to watch it I missed its appearance altogether.  Probably four or five years ago I read that it was probably the only Disney film of recent vintage without a truly ponderous social justice taint so I took it out and liked it.  I watched it with the grandkids and they really liked it too.  But when I saw the coming attractions for the sequel I was annoyed to find a bunch of blather about Mr. Incredible being relegated to Mr. Mom and Elasti-Girl (Mrs. Incredible) being the heroic superhero who earns the daily bread.  And so, it was with a certain amount of trepidation that I took Camera Girl and the two older grandsons to the dying local movie palace to see the film.

Well, my fears were unnecessary.  The movie is good.  By the necessity of a sequel being somewhat derivative by its very nature Incredibles 2 may not rate as highly by some measures and to some audiences.  I found it extremely enjoyable.  Aside from any measures of technical or visual excellence the story line is meager as expected for this genre but acceptable, the main characters retain their original charm and the interactions between the family members defines the heart of the movie.  It is a celebration of the traditional nuclear family.  Mr. Incredible is a 1950s Dad.  Elasti-Girl could be Donna Reed and the kids are the usual bundle of sibling rivalry, growing pains and mischief but whenever the chips are down the family pulls together to save the day and each other.

I’ll keep this short.  If you have kids or grandkids bring them to this movie.  And if you don’t, then go see it yourself.  You’ll have a good time.  My personal favorite scene in the movie is Mr. Incredible coming to terms with his kid’s “new math” homework.  His anguished cry of, “Why would they change math?”, brought back such memories of exactly the same scene in my home that I probably laughed out loud in the theater like an idiot.  Maybe there is still some hope for Disney.  I mean I doubt it, but at least they didn’t alter the characters.  They’re still who they were and still a lot of fun.

19APR2018 – Captain Capitalism Has an Interesting Article –  You Can Return to 1950s America Anytime

As many of you are aware, I’ve got an ad on Captain Capitalism’s web site.  But an added benefit is I’m visiting his site and finding some very entertaining stuff.  This article on living the 1950s lifestyle is very timely for young people trying to escape from Obamerica.  And it gave me some things to think about too.  I have a plan to escape from New England (where even now at the cusp of May it’s still snowing)  and relocate to the southwest someday.   Trying to find a non-leftist political environment is right at the top of my needs list for any relocation search algorithm.

 

https://captaincapitalism.blogspot.com/2018/04/you-can-return-to-1950s-america-anytime.html

Scenes from a Holy Saturday Dinner

My extended family has recently taken to getting together on both Saturday and Sunday of Easter weekend.  So last night I was over a sibling’s house for round one.  Amazing food and drink was everywhere and everyone was talkative.  Winter was evaporating and spring was in everyone’s blood.  What a perfect time to talk politics.

We’re more than a year into the Trumpian Era and clear progress into a new world is evident all around.  At the gathering yesterday of family and some friends a different perspective on what can be said and what was common knowledge was apparent.  Those who had formerly been frightened or confused had gotten used to the new normal.  Deference to the neo-con and NeverTrump “orthodoxy” had melted away.  Contempt for the politically correct was loudly declared and anger at the left was sulfurous.  Many were obviously overjoyed at the ability of Trump to confound his enemies and were openly scornful of the dangers of the Stormy Daniels scandal to damage the President’s agenda or presidency.

One amusing incident was a conversation in which a visiting son of the Cloud People tried to explain why White Privilege was a legitimate concept.  The blowback was heated and quite entertaining.  My own statement was that if someone asks me to check my white privilege my response is “Thanks, I just checked it before and it’s doing splendidly.  How’s yours?”  Discussions abounded on the best way for the Attorney General to arrest the Mayor of Oakland and whether treason was the correct crime to assign to a state official interfering with the duties of a federal immigration enforcement officer.

I was especially gratified that the usual suspects entirely abandoned the attempt to provide the “Narrative.”  We seem to have completely shrugged off the Bush/Obama era of right-wing paralysis.  We can say what we want and we don’t have to care who hears it or what they think about it.

Probably a good part of the change is actually internal to me.  I’ve finally figured out which arguments and which pundits are a waste of time.  I don’t even waste time talking or even thinking about them.  I just deprive them of oxygen and spend my time on what I want to talk about and what I want to happen.  Once in a while we’ll make fun of the neo-cons or the Bushes or Romney.  But that’s strictly for laughs.  We are a very irreverent group.

And I would say the most important change of all is we laughed a lot.  We were happy to be living in a place where there are jobs for our grown kids and even more hope for the future.  And we especially hoped to roll back some of the progressive assaults in the near future.  We talked about the Supreme Court and the Draining of the Swamp.  And we laughed at our insane ridiculous President who beds porn stars one week and tweaks the noses of psychopathic dictators the next.  It’s as if the “Most Interesting Man in the World” were suddenly living in the White House.  And the insanity that circles around him like the rings that surround Saturn are part of the gaudy, nonsensical adventure.  And the roller coaster gee force is no longer frightening, just fun.