Commentary Uncategorized

Deer Day

Today is a civilization-pausing holiday where I live, the Monday after Thanksgiving, the end of the 5-day weekend: Deer Day.  If you also live in a region where NRA bumper stickers outnumber high school diplomas, you know what I’m talking about.  If yer City Folk, I’ll spell it out: it is the first day of rifle season for white-tailed deer in Pennsylvania, BigNorthWhitetailDeer (3)and the beginning of the an unofficial moratorium on outdoor activity. For the next two weeks, our local newspaper’s sports section will be filled with photos like this.  A few folks I know, most of whom have never really spent a lot of time outdoors, and whose relationship with nature is primarily rooted in the “I love furry sweet wittle aniwals” find it repugnant.  Though I prefer my meat to reach me as God intended (wrapped in plastic, on a styrofoam plate–or better still, on a bun), I see a big difference between the freezer-filling traditionalist who dominate the culture here in Westsylvania, and cold-blooded trophy-takers who travel the world “bagging” exotic game just to hang heads on the wall.  I’ve no time–or respect–for that narcissistic, consumption-driven, savagery.

But hunting deer for food: I’m all for it.  As gardeners, we spend too much energy on thwarting these evil critters. Anything that takes down their numbers is fine by me. They stagare beautiful, graceful creatures but, with apologies to Harry Potter and that magic light-up stag that patronuses his ass out of hot water again and again, they are a living, breathing curse on the land, a plague on hooves.  If J. K. Rowling had lived in the country, the odds are she sure as hell would have picked a less diabolical creature as her hero’s totem.  But that’s not right, either. The word “diabolical” implies a degree of malevolent thought, where deer are just stupid eating machines who don’t know better than to step in front of speeding cars. They’re more like Zombies in that regard, and as with Zombies, I revel on every bloody deer corpse I’ll see today, on its way from forest to butcher.  Because: Deer, if you didn’t get this from context above, I hate them all.

Ironically, the white-tailed deer owns a stirring story of ecological recovery here in Pennsylvania, where the species was eradicated about a hundred years ago, along about the same time that 90% of the state was denuded to feed the ever-hungry iron industry and build the communities that grew up to support it.  Such was the totality of the carnage that what remained was referred to as “the Pennsylvania desert.” For those of you who ever drive through the northern forests of my fair state, consider this while traversing those 3 hours of nearly endless, desolate forest along Interstate 80.
When it became clear that things had gone too far (typically:this came after the damage was done) efforts were made to repair the damage along with the brush fires, flash flooding, soil erosion, and so forth that followed unrestrained deforestation. As a treat, a small population of white-tailed deer was imported to Pennsylvania for re-introduction. They took hold in those days of slowly recovering forests, and continued to thrive in today’s many transitional areas where farm meets forest, where forest meets sub-division, or where anyone in the state tries to grow a tomato.

The problem, of course, is that while deer were brought back into a re-made landscape deer-in-gardenthat has proved perfect for their species, none of their predators were brought along for the ride. No wolves, no mountain lions, and no coyotes–and it stayed that way for a long time. There haven’t been wolves for over a century, evidence of transient lions appears rarely, and mysteriously, but there is no population.  Coyotes have only very slowly been recolonizing, presumably from the Adirondacks in New York above  us, and they are hunted with a vengeance, pretty much 24/7/365 as a “furbearer” species–but really because licenses for hunting deer, and the ancillary economic gains from the hunt, are a major economic engine in the state, and coyotes could be a significant competitor to the state government.

And so, with interest in hunting declining, as well as a shrinking population, the deer population is growing, especially within the confines of rural and suburban communities where a standard hunt is not practical. That’s how I end up putting my dog out at night anf finding fourteen deer in the back yard–and gods help us if we forget to take the bird feeders indoors at night.  And we live on a busy street, in town, not in the country.  Sadly, because of that the deer hunt doesn’t give us any relief–our resident deer maraud the neighborhoods by night and retreat into a nearby park by day, staying well outside the firing zone.

I’ve learned to do the same. Only a fool would not.  I’ve been shot at in the woods (out of season, by jerks, poachers, moonshiners, meth cooks?) and most everybody knows someone who has had a close–or close enough to be scary–call.  A friend of mine was shot in the back while kayaking, and the guy who did it got off because “he thought he saw a deer.”

So, it’s not perfect–but I grew up around it, so I’m used to it, and from a pure vengeance standpoint, I’m good with hunting.

meme Uncategorized

Memeday:Deer Day

Because there just aren’t very may funny hunting memes…
…and, frankly, I just didn’t feel like trying that hard.



The Goose Is Getting Fat….

I have a note that I wrote to myself back on December 27, 12:37am

“blog: best day of Christmas is right at the beginning, maybe Nov. 29?  Dec 1?  Before the lights, before the tree, before the first window on the advent calendar…but which?  try to be conscious of it, when is the pinnacle, the height of expectation & promise when it’s there but still far off, all the goodness of the season between it and you…?  BUT, will looking for that moment heighten or devalue?”

Thoughts, anyone?

Eleven months have passed.  It’s time to find out.

Funny and/or Strange

Call To Arms!

The Thanksgiving armistice is over. Bellies full, we plunge headlong back into the fray! Starbucks be damned, Let the battle commence!


Sand Tarts

My Great Aunt Leona made these every year at Christmas–this is the closest I’ve ever found to her long lost recipe.

The Gourmand Mom

You’ve heard me kvetching about cut-out cookies in the past. As much as I love to bake, I’ve got very little patience for the flouring, rolling, cutting, baking, and individual decorating involved in making cut-out cookies. And all too often, I just don’t find the results to be worth the effort. But I have one big exception to this sentiment; Sand Tarts.

I found the recipe for these Sand Tarts several years ago, nestled in the back pages of an old Better Homes and Gardens A Festive Christmas cookbook. They are essentially a sugar cookie, accented with lemon and garnished with cinnamon sugar and almonds, which gives them the appearance of perfectly round, perfectly delicious sand dollars.

They are cut-out cookies. They require that floured work surface, rolling, cutting, baking, and individual decorating I have such low tolerance for. But, with these particular cut-out cookies, the end result is worth…

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Tunesday: The Mockers: Republican Girl

For anyone who ever suppressed an agonizing, embarrassing, disturbing little crush on Ann Coulter….


Bloggers Unite for Peace

Damn straight!

Uncle Spike's Adventures

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil
is for good men to do nothing.”
Edmund Burke

Here are some ways to add your support to this message of peace:

1) Publish the following statement on your own blog
2) Post a link to Twitter and/or Facebook
3) Reblog this post or any post that replicates this statement
4) Request to be 
added to the signatory list below by adding a comment or mailing 


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We are normal, everyday hard-working people with a common hobby, blogging. We hail from far and wide. We reside in different lands, on different continents. We speak different languages, eat different foods, and are of varying ages, professions…

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Commentary Journal Uncategorized

It’s A Wonderful Life In Indiana, PA

I have the good fortune of living in the town where iconic film star Jimmy Stewart, who played the lead role in the classic holiday movie “It’s A Wonderful Life,” was born, raised, and to which he often returned.  The article-2528752-1A468BBF00000578-209_634x480town of Indiana, PA is the county seat of Indiana County, PA, which for decades has laid a somewhat dubious claim to the title “Christmas Tree Capital of the World.” We’re not the biggest producer of Christmas Trees in the world any more, but we were the first place to grow them as dedicated crops, and the business still means a lot to our local identity.

As Philadelphia Inquirer writer Jeff Gammage wrote, way back in 1997, “Trees cut from its mountainside farms are shipped everywhere from Mexico to England, Florida to Arizona. They are wrapped in brown paper and sent via UPS to Pittsburgh, or strapped onto the roofs of cars that drive in from all over New York State.

One couple travels here each year from Philadelphia to buy a tree, which their dog picks out. Another family pops a bottle of champagne over theirs, christening it for the season.

In Indiana, you can drive from lot to lot and spend $79.50 for a 15-foot Fraser fir or $11.93 for a five-foot white pine, then cruise through a gaggle of glowing Santas at the Festival of Lights or shake hands with Queen Evergreen, the tiara-clad promoter of Indiana County Christmas trees.”

We take this Christmas business seriously, and in the years since Gammage wrote, our seasonal celebrations have expanded to include an “It’s a Wonderful Life” Light-Up night that features a 5o+ unit parade starring the high school marching band playing Christmas songs, floats from a cross-section of community groups, organizations, athletic and dance teams, and even (my favorite) a corps of farm folks stoicly piloting a squadron of beautifully restored antique tractors.

Photo From:

There is a bonfire in the center of town, free cocoa and crafts, an increasingly accomplished Jimmy Stewart impersonator wandering the crowd and, of course, Santa delivered on the back of a firetruck into the hands of the teaming masses of children.

This year, we had an additional treat: groups of travelers who were on bus tours visiting Indiana to see the Jimmy Stewart Museum and to enjoy the festival were seated on floats and celebrated as the welcomed visitors they are. I imagine we’re not the only town to show our appreciation to our guests, but I’ve never heard of anyplace else that puts visitors in a parade. Very cool.

We celebrated in equally warm fashion on one of the coldest evenings we’ve had to date, gathering with friends at a local pub for dinner and cocktails before watching the parade, then going back to Dave & Laura’s for beers, snacks, conversation and camaraderie by a roaring fire.

Earlier that day, I bemoaned to my wife that it just felt too early this year, that I didn’t have any sense of anticipation, but after an evening like that I was raring to go. Holidays 2015–bring it on!  I’m ready.

All Photos Below are from The Indiana Gazette

Commentary Funny and/or Strange meme

Memeday: Waiting With Walter

Yep, its that time again.  Almost the most wonderful time of year.  I’m posting this for my wife, who keeps me honest.  Without her I’d already have the lights up, the decoration boxes down from the attic, and Steve & Edye jamming “Sleigh Ride” on the stereo.



Indiana Resident Steve Says He’ll Accept Refugees ‘As Long as They’re Cool Listening to Phish’

When it comes to jam bands, I’m more of a WSP guy, or old school Dead, but Steve clearly Rocks. Phish rocks in small doses, but Steve rocks hard. Way to go Steve.

America's Best News


Looking to make a difference in the recent Syrian refugee crisis, Evansville, Indiana resident and avid Phish fan Steve said he will accept any and all Syrian refugees into his home “as long as they’re cool listening to lots of Phish.”

“It’s disgusting, all these people saying our country shouldn’t take in any Syrian refugees,” Steve said in a Facebook post yesterday evening. “This is an open invitation to anyone making the difficult migration to the States: You’re welcome to come stay with me in my apartment in Evansville, Indiana. Only thing is, I listen to a lot of Phish, so you have to be down with that or this will likely not work out.”

He continued: “I know a lot of people aren’t into Phish, so I feel like I have to give that disclaimer. A lot of my friends make fun of me for listening to them and…

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