Archive for the ‘What’s Happening in Obscurity?’ Category

What’s Happening in Obscurity?

December 2, 2014

Kid hunter

Deeper Into the Woods


 People like to decorate back here.  But they can be a little slow to take things down.  A porch one half block north of us is currently displaying the American flag, a hanging corpse, and eves hung with Christmas lights – plus a wreath and bells.

My son wanted our home decorated better than his friend’s (different home) up the street, and to have a ‘lighting ceremony’ to celebrate it.  So we scheduled it to be on the evening of Black Friday, and got to work with lights and extension ladder.

Once the relations had all arrived and had their drinks, we marched them back outside into the cold and dark to witness.  As they stood muttering through shivers, I laid the intellectual foundation of the event with a short speech about the historical sources of our current lighting ceremony; from the first candle-lit German Christmas trees, to Queen Victoria’s embrace of the tradition, to the lighting of the first electrified Christmas tree in a ceremony at the Grover Cleveland White House in 1895.  From there we touched on the “Grand Illumination”, in which whole towns would participate in a lighting ceremony – first begun in Williamsburg, Virginia in 1935.  All of which led eventually to lighting ceremonies, throughout the country, including fireworks and parades, and the eventual term, “turning on the lights” (I said, with a bit of flourish.) –  and with the tradition of fireworks added – …which is believed to have been descended from the custom of putting lights in the windows to celebrate an armistice, or a disaster.

Our designated ‘Grand Illuminator’ was my father in law.  Once I had adequately roughed in the intellectual foundation of our event, he flicked the switch, (with the help of my son) and POW!  …almost daylight.

All sang, “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”, while waiting for the inflatable dachshund on the porch roof to fill – just finishing the last verse as our Great Weenie fully engorged!  to a great hue and cry!   Then we all went inside to watch a Griswold Christmas.

But enough of that.  All of this is a lead-in to my being kicked out of my wife’s bed for snoring last Sunday night, and sleeping in my son’s, who was not there, due to his sleeping over that night at his friend’s.

“Why do you think you can sleep over on a school night?”  I had asked him earlier.

“Because Monday is a holiday.”

I couldn’t think of any holiday that fell on December 1st.

“What do you mean a holiday?”

“It’s a school holiday!”

“You didn’t have enough of a vacation with 4 days off?  They had to add an extra one?”  I huffed.  I wasn’t swallowing this easily.

“It’s the opening day of hunting season.”


Apparently everyone takes off the first day of hunting season around here.  Over 450,000 hunters will enter the woods.  And over 75,000 deer will be carted out, say the newspapers.

As it so happens, I had been talking about hunting earlier with a relation that wasn’t long married, had a ‘teething’ baby, just moved into a new home whose walls they were trying to get painted first, plus a part-time job shepherding cancer patients to their labwork through the outside wintry cold, while her new husband had just spent the last month hunting.

“They all have a piece of land you can’t live on, and you couldn’t farm, hours away, where they go.  And he has these cameras planted all through the woods, and he pours over the recordings.  He knows everywhere they go.  And he has every deer named, and has picked out just the one he wants to kill.  But, he hasn’t killed him yet.”

She nodded grimly over the steering wheel at the lit nighttime highway ahead.

“I told him, just kill one!”  She sighed.

“But is has to be THAT one.”


Later at the dinner I related all this to his father.

“Yeah,” he said, not at all astonished, but a little tired of the thing.  “He’s been trying to get that one for the last four years.”


All of which brings me back to the story of sleeping in my son’s room.  He leaves his drapes open and at the tick of 5 – all of the outside icicle lights clicked on…  …POW!!!

I awoke.

And as I watched, a huge dachshund slowly enlarged, filling the window.


Photo from Google Images

Postscript:  This just in!  Apparently they got THAT one: their buck, a record 162 on the Big Buck rating.  But it was an uncle, rather than her husband who shot it.


What’s Happening in Obscurity?

November 17, 2014

Ohio River1WEb

Deep In the Woods

Editor’s Note:  I touched on this is a previous post: “In the Big Cities There’s Really Only One Game in Town, and It’s Out of Town”.   (

I write, eat, sleep, read, and pee…  while the Ohio river flows past, a couple of blocks away.  Parkersburg is across the bridge.  From there the hills and hollows of West Virginia stretchto the East.  The Hatfields and McCoys fought not so many hours drive through the woods to the South.  And the nearest cities of any appreciable size – for example Pittsburg, Wheeling or Columbus – are two or three hours of woodsy scenery away also.

Marietta flower2  Porch2

We are very much a part of American History here.  The template for Westward Expansion began just up river in Marietta, gateway to the Northwest Territories.   At the end of my street is a historical marker denoting the location of a major stopover on the Underground Railway for slaves being snuck across river from what was then the slave state of Virginia.  The end of the street also boasts a museum, which is open a few hours/week.  Like mine, the flipside to a lot of small towns around the Mid-Ohio Valley which post signs boasting of their history, is that there is nothing happening presently.  I mean, it’s still.

All of which suites me fine.  Gridlocked Congress?  Could a rational citizen ask for more?   Lackluster economy?  Today’s gonna be pretty much like tomorrow.  Lack of intellectual inquiry?   Leaves me time to set on the porch.  And the mail still runs.  I  can download movies.  The store is only a few blocks away.  And I can argue with whomever I please about whatever I please on the internet all I want.     Marietta flower

Currently we folk in Belpre, Ohio kind of mosey about in obscurity.  Which, as the culture heats up, has become not a bad place to be.  As a recent article in the Atlantic points out, the densely populated liberal urban areas with their higher housing costs and taxes are squeezing out the middle class.  The income gap liberals so bemoan, is widening there.  And it makes me suspect  if  perhaps they (the liberals) don’t “protest too much”.  But I’m not protesting at all.  Because in these small towns a low income person can still live in a fine neighborhood, as can someone of middle income.  We are not as segregated as the larger metropolises.   Two blocks to the northeast of me is a trailer court.  Two blocks to the south, old, stately homes along the river.  There are abandoned homes here and there, but even the abandoned homeowners mow their yards.  Go figure.

Here, in the Mid Ohio Valley, the neighborhood is quiet at night.  No burglar bars.  People sit on their porches.  They smile and wave.  And they leave the light on for you.  The worst you hear is a car driving past which rattles or rumbles a bit, driven by a smoker with her druggie husband and the tattooed kid.  (Hey!  Just joking… almost.)   The bars are few and the churches many.  The ideology which drives the big cities wafts through and pulls a few away.  The rest remain, satisfied to assemble their own meaning from experience and personal reflection.  “The poor will always be with you,” seems an established and accepted biblical truism – and like as not, they are with you right next door.  So you’re not going to forget them.  Still, they keep their lawn mowed, as I’ve said, and mind their own business.Porch1

There are certainly a raft of what my city friends would call problems: poverty, low wages, lack of jobs, obesity, poorly educated populace, few opportunities, and voting Republican… the list could go on and on.  But it’s a liberals list.   The employment here is predominantly tort and personal injury law, the government, pensioners, burgeoning medical facilities and funeral homes… all feeding off of the chemical plants up and down the river, and the old coal and gas industry with its expanded fracking activities.  But from a local conservative’s point of view, the problems are that the ‘country’s going to hell’ while they’re happy to be here.  Life is real.  It hasn’t got half of itself lopped off and run through a governmental re-education grinder (sometimes called colleges)… until it is some kind of torpid, characterless, whining mass of metaphysical complaints kept alive by press coverage and a solution of haphazard entitlements and benefits.  My neighbor’s home is slowly falling down around his ears because he’s lazy.  But he’s honest and ethical and isn’t asking me for anything, and we get along fine.  He’s pretty much how human beings are built… when they’re run right, and left to their own devices.  As am I.

Photos by Carl Nelson

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