02 October 2011

2 October 2011 Update

My apologies to all....

I hope to return soon. I have some stuff just sitting there that I haven't re-read in order to publish. This Summer has been an adventure.

I've worked more hours and made more money than ever before....but we feel like we're broke...struggling to pay the bills.

It's largely inflation...it's crushing us. Thankfully I can raise my rates, something others do not have the power to do.

Sadly, it has meant some LONG hours. I get home later and then spend time on the phone and in my office working on plans and bids. I've got notes for many articles, some which probably won't get written.

Also, Summer is a time to try and get outside. It's a time of lawn mowing, garden tending, bicycle rides, hiking, and sadly this year only one backpacking trip....an excellent inexpensive hobby.

But today Autumn is here in full force. It's about 4C/40F here and pouring rain. The time for longer hours inside is returning and DV (Deo Volente) more time for writing.


Jim Wetzel said...

Hey, Proto! I haven't been writing my blog lately either, so I have no criticism to offer. Idle-curiosity question, though: where's "here" for you? (Not asking for stalker-bait detail, just wondered what general area you call "home.")

Protoprotestant said...

No problem....I'll give my standard riddle (smile)

I live where the Rust Belt meets Appalachia.

An hour north you're in the western extremes of New England colonized Yankeedom.

An hour west you're on the edges of the Mid-west.

I am surrounded by hills and thick forest.

Can you guess where I'm at?

A few more clues....

While not as geographically diverse as say the western United States, this area is interesting because we retain a little bit of the regional flavour that once characterized this land before the mongrelized era of television.

There's a difference between the folk 1/2 hour to the west...they're kind of Mid-western.

An hour north...big time Yankees.

An hour and a half northwest...there's a slight maritime flavour.

Two hours south...Olde Rust Belt

And east...good old German and Scots-Irish Appalachia till you hit the Megalopolis of the East.

You should be able to guess the state and the region of the state...and if you can, you're a good student of Americana.



P.S.- if you don't get it, I'll tell you later.

Protoprotestant said...

Anyone can guess..........except those who already know of course.

Jim Wetzel said...

Sounds like south central Pennsylvania. But I might have my travel-time estimates crossed up a bit.

Protoprotestant said...

Good guess..........NW Pennsylvania.

I live in the Allegheny National Forest area. I'm blessed in that I live in a county that boasts having no stoplights.

When you venture over into Crawford County you hit the beginnings of the Central Plain...Amish, Mennonites, Holiness folks, Yankee farmer country.

When you head NW you hit Lake Erie and the city of Erie. I take the kids up there to look at the iron ore freighters and we talk about the Edmund Fitzgerald.

If you head North, you hit Chautauqua County New York. That's big time Yankee country. That's a mindset...I'm not talking about the Civil War. It's about order, rules, bureaucracy all shrouded in a rough industry flavoured veneer. The countryside is nice....lots of old New England flavour...they brought their culture with them but left the theology of the Puritans behind. And wow, do they get some snow!

To the south....Pittsburgh and the many small cities the pepper the SW region of the state.

And to my east...small towns and forest, which is where we live. I'm basically in a Appalachia area...very backward it would seem to some.

We laugh at a local town called Warren....PA, not Ohio. It's a smelly little refinery town. It's nice but nothing special, just run down and corrupt. They oh so desperately want to be the southernmost outpost of Rochester NY, but they are very much the northernmost suburb of Charleston WV.

Don't get me wrong. I like WV very much.

So...we've got a little New England Yankee, German, Scot-Irish overlap (as do many other areas) coupled with a massive population of Italian and Polish Roman Catholics who arrived about a century ago.

It's a nice place. I've lived better places, but I've also lived in worse.

It's quite pretty. 4 distinct seasons....you have those too. Hot in the summer (at least to someone who grew up in the west)...cold in the winter, lots of snow...always lots of rain.

But what we do have that you don't is lots of topography. It's small. The folks from Pittsburgh refer to this area as 'the mountains.'

That's because they've never seen real mountains. It's nice thick forest and hill country. I can see the Allegheny River from my living room. We see deer virtually every day in our yard or the adjacent fields. Herons and Bald Eagles are common. We don't see bear every day, but often enough. Then of course the usual foxes, coyote etc... We also have river otters but they're not common. I've seen them, but that's a real treat when I do.

The area is very economically depressed. All that stuff in 2008....the housing bubble etc....

we missed it. We've been in a depression for many years.

Although like I said...the inflation is hurting us. And when you have to drive 30miles to get to anything....lots of car bills and gasoline.

We drive just shy of 20miles to get to a town of about 5000. That's where we get our weekly groceries etc....

But if we want to visit a mall with some more shopping options it's thirty miles north or south to hit one. For me that's the nearest Lowe's or Home Depot, Sears, that kind of stuff.

It's 30 miles, BUT....only one stop light and that's five hundred feet from the mall. The rest of it is all country roads with very little traffic. Just watch for the deer and the black ice! I assume you know what I mean.

Protoprotestant said...

A good example. Tonight we're at the grocery store in the town that takes on the Mid-western flavour. Our kids are well behaved and the cashiers always comment on it. They went on about how kids are so bad because nowadays nobody 'smacks' them. Kids need that they continued.

We did not offer comment.

But we chuckled because if someone said the same thing in the town up near the NY line...the one that wants to be Rochester.... they would have probably called the police on you. I'm not kidding.

There's a great book if anyone is interested. It's called...'At Home in the Heart of Appalachia,' by John O'Brien. It's a biographical piece by a guy who's family was from small town West Virginia. His family left there and as an adult he returns to the area. He writes about the experience and the people. It's quite interesting because he picks up on so many of the things we see around her. My wife who is from this area said he particularly grasped a lot of the little small town nuances, social squabbles, and the politics of family histories. He also notes the differences in the micro-cultures.

We have this everywhere of course but sometimes it's more noticeable in a rural area than in the mish-mash of urban and suburban areas.

Anyway if you're from Appalachia or find it interesting...it's a good book. A little sad, but well done. He's not a Christian or anything, nevertheless there are some interesting points.

Jim Wetzel said...

Thanks for a good look at your home area! It seems to me that one of the better things about this internet is the chances we get to "check in" on people that we're not likely ever to have met, physically. And I do indeed understand about deer and black ice. Around here, it's a rare driver who's been at it for more than a few years and still hasn't collected at least one during "bumper season." I remember one occasion in which a suicide-herd ran across a county road in front of me. I was able to get stopped. Some ran in front of my car; some ran behind it, and one ruminant supergenius actually ran into the side of my stopped car, doing no damage that I could detect. I purchased a .50 muzzleloader and took up deer hunting a few years ago, partly out of a sense of duty to my fellow man. And then, of course, I have yet to actually fire at one; there's always some detail about the situation that isn't quite right, when one or more is about. I must also confess that, since I must rise very, very early in order to be settled down and quiet, on-station, at least an hour before dawn, I suspect I've missed a number of chances because I was experiencing a "long blink" when they occurred. One of these days, though ... Bambi's going down!

Protoprotestant said...

I'm chuckling at your comment.

Yeah, the deer season is pretty serious around here. The local schools still close on the opening day of buck season. It's literally a local holiday.

I've had that happen too! I didn't hit the dumb thing...it charged out of the wood and ran into the side of my car!

At night all the 'boys' drive around with spotlights looking for them and planning ahead.

The bummer for us...they really wreaked havoc on our garden this year. One good thing....they come and eat all the apples that fall on the ground so we don't have to clean them up.

I've never tried muzzleloading. I haven't really hunted in many years but as my sons are getting older I think that will change.

I know what you mean about the early hours. Wow...as I get older I'm starting to understand that day-off sleep thing. I'm afraid my days of being a young guy who got up at 5 after I went to bed at 2....are over.

At least it sounds like you're being careful. That's what scares me...people who aren't. It's been a number of years but there was a guy around here who was hunting turkey and he was wearing a bit of a decoy costume trying to draw them in. Well...he got shot by another hunter who apparently didn't bother to properly identify his target.

The younger generation seems to be shall we say...less responsible, more careless? They scare me on the road, let alone in the woods!

One plus...few of them are interested in anything that's... outdoors or requiring physical effort.

I'll tell Bambi to watch his back.

Protoprotestant said...

Speaking of bear....last night as we were riding bicycles we had one run out in front of us. It just took off up the hillside into the forest.

They're usually just trying to get away from you.