Phone Out Of Order

My friend Scott and I used to find some adventure to get in every day, but in order for us to go out this time Scott had a lot of yard work to do.  Me being particularly good at yard work and needing Scoot with me to see the girls down the road decided I would lend a hand.  Together we made short work of most of it but the last part was trimming the weeds around the house.  Scott wasn't looking very closely and while snipping like a mad man missed the fact his phone like was in those weeds.

After snipping his phone line right in two Scott knew he was in trouble.  This didn't work for me at all because as I said before I needed someone  with me to talk to the girls down the road and if Scott was grounded he wasn't going to be might help.  

"Maybe we can fix it"  I said.    "I don't know nothing about phone wires." Scott returned.   I took a quick look and sure enough colored wires on both side.  "Well, we should only need to figure out which color wires to put together."  I proposed.  "But which colors." Scott returned.  I thought about it for a few min. Then I decided there was little chance he cut the wires right on a color change to I just matched the colors and re-attached everything, taped it up and we gave it a good test.  As a big shock to both of us it worked fantastic.  Scott was done and we could go talk to girls.  Only they were not home.  So tomorrow was going to be the day.

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Schools In

A bit over a deccade ago I found myself in Kansas close to the Missouri line visiting some old friends.    My wife was off on a shopping trip with the old friends, which if you have ever been halfway up the state in Kansas you know means driving a few hours away, and I took the time to go geocaching.

In case geocaching is a new thing to you, it can simply be described as a type of worldwide hide and seak.   People all over take a container and hide it someplace then post the GPS  coordinates of the item.  You then go to that location by whatever means you can, find the container, and sign the logbook.  A lot of locations are boring, but some are incredible.  So many locations have stories and history you never know some are just fascinating just to see them.  I had not had time to research all the history this time, I had just made a list of locations and took off to see what I could find. 

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Follow the Rail

  The old farmhouse house I grew up on was well over 150 years old when I was living in it. The community around it was just as old but had not weathered as well as the farm.  It was not uncommon to walk in the woods and discover the remains of a home.  An old storage silo or some other sign that a place you had to hike 20 min to get to and there was no sign anyone had been there in 50 years was once a thriving place and someones home.

  Most of them are just interesting places.  By that, I mean that you know they are there and that some story exists, but none is ever told.  Every now and then I was able to track down a great grandkid of the original owners and they would be lucky to even know their grandparents even had a house back in the area much less to know where it was or anything about it.  It's an entire swath of history that in two generations was erased.  

  Along the creek between the neighbor's hayfield and ours right at the perfect location that the only time anyone ever saw it was making hay once a year was three pillars that used to hold up railroad track over the creek.   I used to see the railroad crossing on the main road (542) before it was removed but the tracks between there and tank farm, about 10 miles, had long since been taken up to the point that the only sign there was ever any tracks are the pillars.  

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A bit of help in the city.

Back in college a couple friends and I went in on an apartment in the poor section of town near the college because it was cheap cheap cheap and being near the college and paying bargain basement prices is very nice for people paying for college themselves.  So I ended up living in Akron Ohio in the area most people don't go.

I learned a lot of things about living in the city I had no idea about at that time.  The first day there a nice girl walked by me and asked me if I was lonely.  I wasn't lonely though I had just moved in and was excited to know more about the area, and with the tight dress she had on, there was no way she was going to be able to keep up with me on my walk.  I made it two blocks before I realized what had just happened and why the girl looked so confused.

I think it fair to said I did not see a bunch of people walking around on a normal basis with a few exceptions.  People would watch a lot from out of there windows, but in general, everyone walked from there apartments to there cars, drove to there location and then walked in.  Even for short trips.  The exceptions were mostly a group of girls who hung around the bus stop in very tight dresses and never got on any busses.  A couple of people who carried their belongings with them but generally moved around unseen.  An occasional straggler.  Then there was me.

I wanted to understand the area around me so I walked it.   I have always said the best way to see something so that you truly know it is to walk.  It gives you time to see what is near you and what you are doing.  Given the neighborhood, it wasn't the smartest thing for me to do, but I was young and I had walking in my blood.

The amount of danger I was in was minimalized shortly because I had walked all the blocks and found where I could set off the streets and into woods.  The number of hills an streams that are just unseen surprised me.  It was clear I was the first person to step in some of those places in 20 years.  I learned backstops, streams, old construction dumps, and sewer outlets.  Luckily I never saw a sewer outlet a person could fit in.  I also started to discover where the people who carried all their worldly possessions went when they were unseen.

Somehow I started fiding places were homeless stayed.  Under bridges where you can not see, in abandoned buildings, and makeshift rain shelters.  Though I never saw any of the homeless in their camps.  I saw one spot under a bridge gather cans a few days, so I decided to leave a can opener one day.  The next day the under bridge was cleared out and gone.    Had help chased him away or did someone see me try to help and take his stuff?  Either way I was sure it was my actions which had caused it to move.  My own mistake I thought.

I started walking away from the bridge and back into the world normal people know when I hear a voice back up where the camp was.  "Hey Buddy."   I spun around.  I was not used to seeing people when out and I definitely do not get a lot of people talking to me.  I see nothing though.  I yell back,  "yes?"   Nothing.   I walk all the way back to the camp slowly looking to see if someone was in trouble or if I was in trouble.  I got all the way back to the empty camp and I climb up to the hidden spots to see if I can find the person.  Just then a car drives by and I hear the pow pow pow.  I think country kids know the sounds of guns far better than city kids.   There was a way I could look out and see what was going on from my hobo camp.... but I didn't.   I stayed in the safe place until the car was long long gone.  I am confident they never saw me but I waited right there for a while until the car was long gone and there were no noises I didn't like.

I looked some more for the voice who called me.  I called out "Hey buddy thanks."  Nothing.  I looked and looked.  Nothing.

The next day I bought some canned goods and left them in the old camp.  They stayed there for 3 weeks. I never saw anyone else ever set up camp there again.

The Sworb Farm

   I judge distance in the country by how many hills are between me and where I need to go.  The Sworb farm was funny in that depending which way you went changed the number of hills.  It was one hill by woods but the closest road was two hills away.   The farm was kind of isolated for a long time.  Though there are a few more houses in the area now that the tunnel hill tracks were turned into a road, for the longest time it was nestled in the valley and isolated.  I don't remember Mr. Sworb but old Mrs. Sworb I do.  We would pay to use her land for crops and sometimes for cattle.  Mom would clean for Mrs. Sworb sometimes.  I even met the extended family a few times and played with a bunch of kids in their yard.
    When Mrs. Sworb died the large ornate farmhouse passed on to the family.  I think it was even someone I had played with's mother and father.  We still had a deal to use the land and life was going to continue.  By that time I was old enough to be set on a tractor and sent out to plow.  Since I knew the farm as well as anyone I was sent out alone to get the fields ready that year.  However, when I came home the first day I was told not to go back tomorrow.   After some time I found out the mother and father who moved into the house were in a car accident and were decapitated.  The children were ok.. well apart from having just lost there parents. They were taken by relatives and I never saw them again.
   The house was very nice, but the family was not happy and decided they would rent the place out.  An old man took the place and we not even in it long enough to make it through that year's harvest till he had a heart attack.   The house sat empty a bit after that until another man rented it.  He lived there almost a year before he killed himself. Meanwhile, the crops were planted and harvested. Year after year.
    From that point on no one ever lived in the Sworb farm.   The yard overgrew with weeds and the house started to crumble.  So one-day mom told me they were going to tare down the house.  Such a shame for a nice house like that to go to waste, but mom was going to go in and see if anything could be salvaged.  We went in and we were definitely not the first ones in there.  The contents of the house were like someone had taken a shredder to everything.  Mom said to look for anything valuable, but what was there was clearly picked over.  So mom started showing us around the house for the last time.  As kids we where never really allowed far into it when Mrs. Sworb was alive so it was all new.
   Mom took a door that slid into the wall that clearly when it was not damaged as it was looked like a wall instead of a door, blocking off wood carved rails in a long staircase and closed them to show us.  Then the door stayed closed.  We garbed it and pulled together but it wouldn't move.  I looked around.  Maybe we could bust through the damaged wall.  Mom had a different idea though.  She yelled out "Mrs. Sworb it's me, Linda."  I thought she was crazy, but as soon as she did that the door opened without effort.  Mom then took me by the arm and said come on let's go.   And out the door, we went.
  I asked mom, "Is this house haunted by Mrs. Sworb?"  "Oh, this house was haunted long before Mrs. Sworb was in it."  My mother informed me.  "She was just the last person who was able to really live in it."
  Weeks later the house was gone and all that was left was the yard and a spring house and the old tree in front.  Soon the spring house fell and the yard grew over.  The only people who even knew the lot was there were people who had known the old house.  We stopped farming the land in my early teens and someone else planted Christmas trees instead.  This meant people only came around the area about once every 7 years. It slipped out of most people memories.  Until one day I took a girl back to the old house lot to look around.  I parked in the lot about where cars used to go but it was not the same.  In fact I found myself stuck.  I pushed the car and couldn't budge it.  The wind picked up and the sky got dark.   I was getting concerned and so was the girl I was with.  So I stould up straight and said, "Mrs. Sworb it's Mike, Linda's boy."  The wind stopped and a few flower pestles drifted down from the tree.  One shot and the car was out.
   I do drive past the farmhouse time and again, though fracking took out the road the last time I tried nearly 5 years ago.  The old tree is also gone now.  It's even more just a memory now.  Though it might be a good idea to remember Mrs. Sworb if you do go there.  It also might be handy if she remembers you.

Cold Cold Nights.

  In the winter in Ohio is can get pretty cold. Often times it's fun to compare your daily temperature with Alaska. This week that is exactly what we were doing and beating them. The snow had blown in the start of the storm and frozen to a fine mist by the imidate cold that followed. From that point, it was 0 degrees or less with a harsh wind blowing a fine powder and a -30 windchill. Mom was on midnight shift this weekend so it was just me in the old farm house.
  Friday night was easy though. A late night of horror movies if only I could stay awake through Dallas then it would be time for Big Chuck and Little John and the Horror movie of the week. Staying awake though Dallas was always a problem for me and this time was no exception only I noticed as the show went on it was getting colder in the house.  A lot colder.  I turned up the temperature but I did not hear the furnace kick on.  So it's down to the old furnace I went.  The house I grew up in was well over a hundred years old.  As such some parts of it were very old.  This furnace being a perfect example.  It was obviously brought in and the house was built around it.   It was originally a coal furnace but was converted to run on natural gas sometime long before I was potty trained.  The pieces were old and it operated in a way that was more art than science.  The pilot light was out, but it was very cold in the house so there was no way to light the pilot and in the old drafty farm house it was not getting any warmer as it approached midnight.  Luckily this is an easy fix.  I took a match and light a piece of paper on fire and opened the raw gas valve.  The gas exploded in the massive cast iron burner and the furnace roared to life.  This called for popcorn.  I made some and finished right in time for Dallas to end and the house was feeling good.  I ran down and light the pilot light and watched me the late night horror movie.  Then went to bed.
   In the morning it was cold.  It was always cold in my room though.  It was the one room in the drafty farm house without a heater vent and since I was a little boy I insisted on sleeping with the door closed.  Often locked, maybe someday I'll talk about what a paranoid child I was.  So I lay in the cold drifting in and out in the cold morning when I hear a call.  Mike...   It's coming from outside.  Sounded like from over the hill.  It wasn't crazy to hear the one of the neighbors even though they were at least a mile away.  What was crazy is that none of them were named Mike.   I was up.  I throw off the covers and immediately regretted it.  That was apparently the only bit of warmth left in the house.  I was still blocked from the windchill, but every bit of heat had left.  To make matters worse the second floor of the house smelled like gas.   This was quite an accomplishment given that every room leaked air and my door was closed.  I put on cold cloths and opened my door.  Suddenly the smell was worse.   I opened the window in my room and took a few good breaths and bounded though the house and out into the blowing snow.   I opened the door and I opened windows and shut the gas off at the valve behind the house.  And I heard it again.  Mike...  Mom wasn't home yet.  It was way before cell phones and we both didn't need to check up on each other.  She likely stayed at a friend's close to work so she didn't have to drive in the mess.  I how-ever had to do something about the furnace.
   Thing's aired out and I was able to get down to the old iron furnace again.  Looks like the line leading to the pilate was knocked off.  I needed parts.  Parts that I don't think anyone had made in the last 30 years.  I needed to make something up and do it quick.  So I found a tube of silicon gasket mix, jammed some papers into place and created a silicon seal for the pilate light.  Now it just needed to dry.  Only it was 0.  So I went upstares bundled up and watched Saturday Morning cartons.  For hours later cartoons are over.  I am freezing so I need to try something.  I turn the gas back on and check my work.  It's holding.  I open the raw gas and explode gas into the furnace again.  The patch I made doesn't explode.  MIKE!!! I spin around.  It was right behind me this time.  Nothing is there.  I know I didn't imagine this.  I run outside but even the dog's aren't making tracks.  They are in their god houses keeping warm and there isn't a track.  There isn't a person for over a mile.  And I am out in the -30 windchill instead of the house that is finally getting warm again.  So in I go.
   I take a blanket and lay on the heater vent trapping the heat for the entire house in my own little tent.  It feels good to get warm.  I shake off the cold and watch TV even if I did already finish the cartoons and there was nothing on.  At least I was warm.  Then hot then I let heat go into the house.  I went down and checked the silicon.  It was looking much better so I light the pilate light cleared the line and turned the heat down a little.  I sat and watched it as it went off and relight the furnace a few times and watched as my make shift line held.  I also looked over my shoulder constantly.   Everything worked as expected.  So I made some food and took care of what was left of the farm.
   The day had passed and it was about time for mom to go to work and she hadn't been home yet so I decided i would make a bunch of little pizzas and watch some more TV and get some sleep.  Not much was on and I wasn't paying match attention to anything when I hear it again.  MIKE.  It's from right outside.  I look up and out the window and I see a big gob of snow fall from the window.  I run to it and see a frozen hand print on the glass.  OK new game I am going to find this.  I slip on a coat and boot in 10 seconds and I am outside.   Right below the window I see a single foot print.    Nothing leading up to it.  Not set just one.  And it hits me.  A blast of cold that chilled me.  As you may have figured out by now I am fairly cold resistant.  This, however, felt like frost bitten instantly it burnt and all felling went out of my shoulder and it went MIKE!  I spun around.  Nothing.  I hear it behind me again MIKE.  I couldn't feel if it got colder or not.  I was already frozen.  I tried to move and I felt the pain.  My feet were numb.  MIKE.  I decided I didn't have a choice.  I ran for the door.  Only every step burnt and I could not feel the ground as my feet went down.
     I was almost to the door when my legs went out from under me as if pulled.  MIKE.  I felt the cold wash over me.  I was down and it felt right if I just laid there.  Only that didn't sound right.  I scrambled forward and into the house.  I closed the door as a wad of snow hit it behind me.  MIKE.  And left it's hand print.
     I turned the heat all the way up and went in to treat myself for frost bite.  I had a lot of red skin but I was able to warm it up fairly well.  By the time I was out the house was 85 degrees even though it was a drafty old farm house and 0 degrees out and the handprints where gone.  Maybe melted.  It didn't matter to me.  I checked my repair one last time and set up a blanket on a heater vent and slept with the full heat of the castiron furnace blowing on me all night.
     In morning mom came back from work.  She said she had stayed at a friends to not drive in the snow as I expected.   Everything was fine here.  I put a patch on the furnace.  "OH" she took a look.  Looked good so she went to bed so she could get some rest.  I went outside to play so I wouldn't wake her up.  Sunday tv was boring anyways.  Looks like it was warming up.  I never mentioned that night again until now. 

Super Friends Logic

I was thinking, man am I sleepy. I need some caffeine. I just can't stand coffee without cream though. But why should I not get cream. Maybe coffee should be made with cream. What if we make it so milk comes with caffeine. Not be adding it but by changing the way it's made.

So what do we have to do. Well we need to splice the dna of a coffee producing plant into something which can give continuous milk. Then it would likely need a lot of sunlight. Oh that's right humans can give continuous milk. Wait what would this look like. Large breasted woman nearly naked in the sun is what that would look like. OMG do we have this already?

No we can't have this yet or babies would never sleep. But why is the trend for the future so much like the past. Oh shit time travel accident. Sometime in the near future we are going to prefect this technology and time travelers are going to go back in time and make it a trend.

Why does this stuff always gonna happen to me.

Me and My Dogs

A walk in the woods is something I have been doing as long as I can remember. My mother has many stories from long before I can remember of turning around and finding me gone. When I was older I always wondered how she found me. It turns out the 20 dogs that followed me left many tracks which she just followed.

One day at the edge of my memory I remember deciding it was a great day for a walk and started up the road to the back of the farm. As normal there where the traditional 20 or so dogs following me. We past the first field and a few dogs went out to sniff and got distracted tracking something. I went and climbed on the first oil pump jack more dogs to board waiting for me to come down and went off to do something else. So I started up the final road to the top of the holler with only a handful of dogs left. At the top of the hill and the final pump jack I ran out of road but I was ready to walk more. I left the road and picked a direction in the woods I had never gone before which confused most of the dogs who thought the final field looked more inviting. Down to a single dog.

I went down into a wooded hollow, across a stream and past a lake that looked to be only 20 years old. That's when I stumbled on the stone runes of an old house. This isn't unusual where I come from since the area walk a full community with mines and railroads 100 years before I was born. However that is gone and so far as I know no one really knows who lived ware. Houses where sold and some where left. Some where just never know about. If you live back in enough woods you can be there a long time, and 100 years before I was born much more so.

I went to searching the house for any sign of anything. By house I mean a pile of rocks in a square shape since the only sign there had been wood there at all was the rich soil that now surrounded the rock structure. Nothing cool left behind. In fact nothing at all. No metal not ceramics not a nail. The place was just gone to time. Move the rocks and the only sign of life left would be my memory of the place.

That is when I heard a dog growl. I looked around for my remaining dog and he was not growling. He was right beside me. Tail tucked. At the edge of perception stood a dog. Large and skinny not like the thousand of dogs I have been raised with but angry with eyes fixed right on me. Then I saw his friend then another then another. I was standing right in the middle of a wild dog pack. There where probable 6 of them but it felt like more. When your standing in the middle of a group who can considering you food it feels like more. I think at least 2 of them used to be tame because they had collars but the others had no sign of having ever seen a person before. I would have likely already been gone if the single dog had not been with me. I am sure I smelled like a dog pack myself but I was quite alone.

The single beagle with me was sticking close and rightly so. The other dogs where quickly forgoing dog courtesy and deciding I did not have a dog army with me. They knew I was off alone and they where deciding quickly they where going to take me from the company of the final dog. They closed in more and one took a nip at my dog. He yelped but before the sound was done escaping from his lips another took a big chomp and threw him away from me. Now I was alone.

The dogs began closing and deciding how to handle the slightly larger pray. I found a stick somewhere but they had decided it was not much of a threat from the kid wielding it. They surrounded me just out of range and tensed to jump.

A scream erupted from the direction of the old house that echoed off the hills. The dirt trembled by the rocks and every dog took scared. I knocked the biggest dog down with a stick and hit him a few times, but i really was to little to hurt it much. It was far more concerned with the sound that it had just heard even though I was much more concerned with the dogs. The dogs looked at each other and the two collared dogs ran away from the house with the others close behind. The biggest dog bringing up the back after ignoring my remaining hits and taking off with his pack.

I went over to my single dog picked him up and started carrying him out of the woods. I didn't get far before he was licking my face to much and I had to sit him down. When we left the woods some of my dogs had returned and by the time I got back to the house at least half where back. Mom told me she was worried about me and was about to come looking for me. "Don't worry about me mom I had the dogs." And went on my way.

I really can't remember where the house was. I would tell you I left it alone intentionally over the years but that would be a lie. If I ever did see it again it looked different enough for me to not recognize it. I didn't even wounder what the sound had been for many years or wounder where it came from. I did however make sure my own dogs stayed closer when going for walks until I had grown a bit more.

A quick stop for a nap.

When I was 16 I got a 1976 350 Nova. That car was fast. Way faster then a car for someone what young should be, but it was the cheapest car on the lot after I worked a summer saving for it. The car was nice but it was mostly held together by the force of my will. I also watched way to much dukes of hazard and as such I had a tendency to knock the muffler off when my bad shock where not enough to keep my speeding jumping car bottom from dragging the potholes on the back country roads I call home. This was one of those times when my muffler was in my trunk waiting for me to crawl under and put it back on. Without the muffler they 350 was extra loud. Even at slow speeds.

I was over visiting my girlfriend at the time and it was late, like 1 or 2 am late, when her mother told me I needed to go home and could come back tomorrow. Knowing being able to stay over at your girlfriends till such a late hour and still remain on her mothers good graces was a boat you shouldn't rock I said goodbye and headed out to my car.

I started it and it was loud. I also knew it was late and I was in that passes for a town in that area so I tried idling down the street to not disturb anyone. In a small town like that you can be sure you know at least 50% of the families so pissing people off at random is a bad idea. Then an idea struck me. I was just going to sleep a few hours and come back so I could sleep in my car. All I would need is a nice out of the way place where no one goes not to far and everything would be fine. The perfect place would be the old cemetery. I could practically cost there, park behind the builds and no one would even be able to see me. I'll sleep till a little after sun up and then I can come back. I would even save on gas money.

So I pulled my car in slowly got into my position shut down the engine and locked up. It was cold night. A little to cold for this idea, but I have done cold weather camping before. I had a good coat and I was enclosed to keep the wind off so no problems. I bundled up laid back and tried to rest. The cold was hard to sleep in though. I was well rapped and I should be warm but the cold was intense though it was way in my tolerance zone. The heat from my breath fogged up the windows. I considered turning on the car for the heater to warm me and clear the windows but it was to close to town and you don't save gas by keeping your car running. So I bundled up tighter and tried to drift off.

I as I get close to sleep I hear a rustling from the other side of the building I am parked by. I think to myself, it's ether an animal of some other kid was up and heard me come up here. So I decided it's better to make sure I exit the car quietly and talk a walk around. Nothing. It must have been an animal because any person would have had to take of running through the grave yard to not be seen. I head back to the car and without me in it the windows have cleared, but there is a slight bit of frost on the door handle as I open it. It melts in my had as I pull the door handle up. I climb in and just to be sure I lock the door.

I bundle up again happy that I have a little movement heat but I am still colder sitting in the car then I should be. I close my eyes and try to relax but the cold it hard to ignore. I open my eyes for just a second and through the fogged windows I swear see a face turn away. I listen but there are no foot steps. No talking. No nothing. So I rub the spot where I saw the image. It must be my tired eyes and my half dream state. A shadow in the trees. So I decide to start my car and get it growl slowly in the night and make some heat. I know I will need to shut it off before long but I can get a nice warm pocket for me to sleep in. The windows clear and I see in the woods just outside of the graveyard some kind of movement.

I decide it's going to bug me to no end if I don't check it out so I might as well do it sooner rather then later. In case it's kids I had better take my car keys with me so time to shut the car down. I head out and though the windows are clear the frost still covers the car. The had print where I opened the handle was almost invisible now. I moved very quietly to where I saw the movement listening for anything making at little sound as I was. I know there are a host of animals that can move far quieter then I can, but I have yet to meet a human who could. I explored the area as well as I dare and found nothing anyplace. I was also loosing good sleep time.

So I went back to my car and once again melted the frost as I opened the door and bundled up. Not much heat was left but it was time to quit goofing around and get sleep. I lay there as the windows fogged again. I bundled up tight to keep myself warm. I relaxed my mind closed my eyes and slowly drifted, when I heard the door start to open. Immediately I woke up. I had not locked it this time. I turned to the door but the windows where far to fogged and frosted to see out of, and the door shut. I sat shocked for a second and decided I needed to see. I opened the door and looked out to see nothing. I stepped out and looked in the open graveyard and saw nothing. I took a look at the door handle and the frost of the handle was there. No warm hand had touched the door.

I got back in my car. Started it up, drove home very fast and slept till noon.