August 14, 2009

Dog Days…

Category: News — Ira @ 6:02 pm


“There’s never enough time to do all the nothing you want.”

—Bill Watterson, “Calvin and Hobbes”

I don’t know what it is. In the Dog Days of summer, everything droops. Energy, spirits, and sometimes inspiration. Most years, you can blame it on the heat. Not so much, this year, except for the last week, maybe. It’s been cool, month after month. So it’s not the heat. The grumpy blahs of summer’s end, and fall’s imminent arrival. Followed then by the incessant cold of winter. Approaching like some dark distant brooding cloud.

As Labor Day looms, and the official end of summer, I look back, as always, with mild astonishment. Reflect on all the great grand things I’d planned in the glorious dawn of spring, and how those plans stack up to the harsh reality of late summer. As always, the eager optimism of those heady hopeful days fell flat somewhere along the way. Or just quietly drifted away in the busyness of living. And the things left undone will remain so always, at least in the time frame I had envisioned.

In this Dog Day season, there were quite a few.

I haven’t hiked. Not much, anyway. Seems like it rained about every Sunday I planned a trip. I went on a couple of short excursions. But not to my favorite spot, Tacquon Glen in the southern end. That beautiful remote rugged trail, once so private, so serene and calming, has been discovered by the masses. On any given weekend day, a dozen or two cars line the road. Not to mention a string of buggies. The trail is clogged with hikers.

Which is fine. The more people know of the place, the more enjoyment will be gleaned from it. But sadly, at least a percentage of the newcomers are slovenly boors who leave littered evidence of their passing. The trail is strewn with trash. The Sunday News even ran an article on the subject a month or so ago. Tacquon Glen has been “discovered.” The masses congregate and march. So for me it’s off the list. Time for new conquests. Maybe I can add that task to next spring’s plans.

I haven’t grilled, but once or twice. Which is a horror and much to my eternal shame. Somehow, it just didn’t seem important. This summer, I’ve been watching my calorie intake a bit more closely. So I don’t eat much food. Excluding Superfood, I spend less than $20 a week on groceries at Amelia’s Discount Foods. Which is basically nothing. A granola bar for breakfast. Salad for lunch. A sandwich for supper, usually made with delicious homemade bread from my Amish friends. So there hasn’t been any particular reason to do a lot of grilling.

Truth be told, I’ve just not had much urge to fire up the charcoal since my good friend Allan passed away in May. He used to slip out regularly of a summer Sunday evening, and I’d grill sausages. Which we devoured with great gusto. Now he’s gone. The grill gathers dust. Seems almost sacrilegious, but maybe it’s time to throw another party.

I haven’t fished. Not that I’ve ever fished much around this area. Not like I used to as a child stalking pike and bass with a cheap spinning rod and reel in the gravel pits of rural Aylmer. But once or twice a summer, even here, I used to dig out the old fly rod and head over to the Conestoga to snag a few crappies or sunfish. Not this year.

I haven’t camped. Because that wasn’t on my list last spring or any other. I don’t camp. Never have, since I was about ten years old, when my father returned from somewhere, maybe the Sale Barn, with an old canvas contraption he’d picked up for a few dollars.

It was a vast, two-room tent. I don’t remember much about it, except that we lugged it out and disentangled the great lump of canvas and set it up in the yard on the west side of our old machinery shed. At dusk, my brothers and I dragged out piles and piles of bedding and blankets and pillows. The interior reeked with the almost overwhelming odor of dank canvas. Didn’t deter us a whit, though. We stretched out in our snug nests and talked late into the night. The harsh cries of nighthawks and hooting owls echoed close around us. Finally slipping off to sleep, we woke to birds screeching in the early morning light. The old tent swayed and dipped with heavy dew. When we slapped the walls, great torrents of moisture cascaded down.

It was an adventure then, something different and grand and great. But somehow I lost the wonder of it all along the way. Today, I class campers in about the same category as bicyclists. Avid, driven, focused on their craft and methods. Willing to pursue their passion at enormous cost in time and treasure. At least the campers aren’t as annoying as the bikers, unless you get stuck behind some creeping travel trailer on some impassible stretch of road. Which can make one mutter things that shouldn’t ought’a be said.

So I didn’t get a lot accomplished this summer. Not like I’d planned. But I did a whole lot of nothing. And some hanging out with friends. And some traveling. And some writing. Guess that’ll about have to do.

It’s Dog Days in blogland too. Last week’s post brought some private mutterings from a couple of readers. They must have thought the B&W Ointment was a farce. That I just made it all up to see if I could fool you. One wag mildly accused me of quackery and suggested I hang around people who hold less dire perspectives. Another message suggested I take a break from writing for a few weeks, as I’m obviously under a lot of stress. After considering that suggestion, I concluded it wouldn’t be such a bad idea. To take a breather once in awhile, maybe have a guest blogger fill in. We’ll see.

Meanwhile, my good friend and well known author Jerry Eicher linked the post to his publisher’s site because he felt it would be of interest to his readers. So it goes. Some see one thing and some see another, all after reading the exact same words. For the record, B&W is not a farce. All I wrote about it was true. I highly recommend it.

It’s Dog Days for the local cops. A few weeks ago one night in the little burg of Columbia, over on the west end, a homeowner noticed an intruder in his van outside the house. Outraged, the homeowner went out and confronted the thug with a baseball bat. One blow, and the bad guy was writhing on the ground with a bloody nose. The cops arrived and congratulated the homeowner and hauled the burglar off to jail. At least that’s what they should have done, and would have done in a saner time, and maybe in a saner season of the year. But no. The homeowner was arrested and now faces felony charges for using excessive force. The DA prissily sniffed that the robber might have been armed and could have injured the homeowner.

I could rage and seethe for a few paragraphs. But I won’t. Been there, done that. It’s just sheer insanity. No wonder the common man increasingly disrespects and despises the law. And the cops. One outraged citizen wrote in a letter to the local newspaper that he would never spend another dime in Columbia. Ditto that for me. Not that I ever have spent a dime there. But I won’t now for sure.

It’s Dog Days too, for an arrogant class of people who suddenly are facing uprisings in their districts during what should have been a lazy summer recess. Our imperial senators and congressmen. That’s one bright spot in an otherwise abysmal economic landscape, the hordes of common citizens who are flocking to town hall meetings to protest a government takeover of their health care decisions. When you think all is lost, sometimes it’s not. The groundswell of protest is a beautiful thing to see. Viva the Resistance!

And this year, you can sense too, a pulsing undercurrent of unease. Not fear, just a realization that we are somewhere we haven’t been before. It’s been a weird summer. Even here in Lancaster County. Where hundreds of Amish work crews and countless little shop businesses scramble for scraps. We’re not used to hard times here. It’s been the land of milk and honey for so long. Now those streams are running dry.

There’s always work to be had, of course, but competition remains intense. Crews that in a normal year would be scheduled out three months struggle for work in the next two weeks. Perhaps this is a “dire perspective,” but maybe we should all make like ants and save and store sufficient supplies for a long tough winter. I’m just saying, is all.

But one bright star gleams in the bleak night skies. To comfort us. Football. Oh, yeah baby. Preseason pro games kicked off this week. We count down the four weeks to the real thing. And college, too. I can’t wait.

The Eagles are in classic and delicious disarray, as usual. Decimated by injuries, and one of their star thugs picked up for possession of pot. As a libertarian, and to be fair, I stridently defend his right to smoke anything he wants. But neither the law, nor the league sees it that way. So in the meantime, it’s trouble for the Eagles, in which I take huge delight. McNabb ain’t getting the team anywhere again this year. Maybe Michael Vick will. He’s back and signed with the Eagles after two years in federal prison for dog fighting. I actually kind of like the guy now, because everyone else hates him. Under-dog (no pun intended) and all. I hope he performs well, even for the Eagles. But they’re not going anywhere.

Sadly, neither are the Jets. I’m furious at management for firing coach Eric Mangini after his Bret Favre induced losing season last year. He was out of a job for all of two days, before the Browns wisely snapped him up. Now the Jets have an untested rookie coach and not a whole lot else going for them. So it’s going to be a long hard slog again. Go Cardinals. I’m still heartbroken over your Super Bowl loss. Get the thing won this time.



  1. No one should have the right to smoke pot and drive on the same roads sane people do, plus it is not morally or spiritually right to mess up your mind with mind altering drugs. The real solution is Jesus, then deliverance will come, but obviously, the multitudes reject their deliverance, therefore it must be illegal.

    Comment by Gideon Y. — August 14, 2009 @ 8:33 pm

  2. Glad you enjoyed the tent, Ira. I’m the one that bought the Monster, and paid a full day’s wages for it, about $20, if I remember correctly. For some reason tents were a high-dollar thing back then, even used ones.

    The idea was to use it at the Sand Hills Park, there on Lake Erie. (We never did use it there ). Occasionally a gang of Amish boys would camp out down there. We knew nothing of tents or even sleeping bags, so we’d lay around the tables and build a fire.

    As far as I know, that is the only campground that I know of that still has on its list of Rules that “”All Campers Must have a Tent or other Means to Sleep in.”

    Comment by Grandpa Jess — August 15, 2009 @ 10:34 am

  3. Go Chiefs. New coach, new era. If the Chiefs don’t get me going by week 5 or 6, I might have to switch loyalties to Eli Manning and the boys.

    In response to comment #1, I read the Ira’s post the second time, and found no mention of driving while under the influence of pot.

    Comment by Reuben Wagler — August 15, 2009 @ 7:17 pm

  4. Wow … you and me are on the same page this “summer” ! Except for the color blind mechanic who worked on my car !!! All ended well and I got a free battery.

    A few comments… The lowdown theif sure is lucky he does not live in the Sunshine State, we pack heat and its pretty much legal when defending self and property. Went to Troyer’s and Yoder’s today in Pinecraft for bread and goodies of course. I am having a taste test to see which wheat bread I like best. Yoder’s will be on Man vs. Food show on the Travel Channel in Sep.(the 16th, i think). Watching the Bucs and Titians as I type this, not looking good for the Bucs in all aspects this season; new coach and they will play a few games in the hideous orange serbert uniforms.

    Ira you are a Libertarian ???, I had you pegged for a Conservative… somethin’, somethin’ must of happened on your last family get together… Reuben !!(heehee)

    Well, I always say… give me “Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness and Good Times”!!!

    All in good fun,


    Comment by Michelle V. — August 15, 2009 @ 9:04 pm

  5. OOops I spelled thief wrong forgot the i before e rule. I might have to go with the G- men this season!
    Take Care and Have a good week,

    Comment by Michelle V. — August 15, 2009 @ 9:09 pm

  6. Nothing wrong with puttering around for a season. And with all the writing you used to do. Wow!

    When you bring up summer I cringe. I despise the heat! That suffocating menace of oppression. Makes me crabby just thinking about it. Don’t like anyone touching me or standing too close to me. During the entire summer I thank God for air-conditioning and I mean it from the bottom of my heart. Sure, I could travel about an hour, or so, to the Indiana Dunes, but that place gets crowded. And with 5 thousand people standing in the water, having their bodily excretions bobbing about to the next swimmer. Nope, nope, nope.

    A few years ago my family and I went to Shipshewanna(sp?) for a mini vacation. We rented a small cabin…with air-conditioning which made the trip pleasurable. Just knowing I would rest my sweaty head on a soft, cool pillow in an icy room made me giddy. We stumbled upon a tiny beach with a dock which added to our quest of keeping cool. We had the pleasure of sharing it with a group of Amish teens, about 6 of them.

    Now, if I lived on a lake surrounded by woods, I could tolerate the summer, maybe even enjoy it. But until that day I recoil with even the mention of the word ssssuuummmer. Ick!

    Comment by Francine — January 25, 2013 @ 12:27 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. | TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

XHTML ( You can use these tags):
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong> .