About Crucis

I'm a retired telecom engineer, life NRA member, Amateur Radio Operator and Air Force vet. I created this blog at the urging of some folks who think I have an occasional thought. A liberal friend once described me as "being just to the right of Atilla the Hun." I thanked her for that description and told her I'd do my best to maintain her expectations.

Maintenance

Over the last year I’ve been a bit…lax about maintaining my blog.  I rectified that, somewhat, today. It was time to check my side-bar links. I number of the blog sites hadn’t been updated in a year.

One, Frank James’ site, I had kept for nostalgia. I respected Frank greatly and had met him a number of times, the last being at the NRA Annual Meeting in St. Louis. Frank had a stroke a few months later and passed last year of complications from that stroke. I read his last few entries before deleting his site from the side-bar. It was time to move on.

Like everything, time moves on. I’ve revitalized my ham radio hobby. Reading Roberta’s blog is a joy. I’ve added a boat-anchor to my collection, too, a 1950s Hallicrafters SX-101a receiver. Someday I’ll add a tube- based transmitter and join the folks reviving AM on 3.885MHz.

Maybe, as the election season proceeds, I’ll return here for more posting.

Ehhh…

Rubio takes a beating in the NH debate.

Tomorrow is the day in New Hampshire. The Trumpster is ‘supposed’ to win for the ‘pubs and Hillary for the dems. The establishments of both parties has ordained that result.

It worked for the dems in Iowa even if they had to fudge the books—again. It seems strange to me that the precinct who had a single dem attendee and who voted for the ‘crazy old man,’ went to Hillary. It’s also strange and beyond the realm of probability that Hillary won all six coin tosses in Iowa.

But Iowa is over. Lawyers in New Hampshire have proclaimed all will be legal and aboveboard in New Hampshire. We’ll have to wait and see.

In last Saturday’s pre-election debate, the Trumpster did not fare well. Neither did Rubio. Jeb took on Trump pounding the Trumpster over his support of Eminent Domain. Trump complained he never took anyone’s property. He was right in a way. He took a woman to court in New Jersey in the ’90s to seize her property for a parking lot next to one of his casinos. He lost! It’s true he didn’t take anyone’s property in New Jersey using Eminent Domain but he sure tried.

Rubio took a licking from Christie, too, and rightfully so. When you use the same tactic over and over again, sooner or later you opposition will notice and lay a trap for you. That’s what happened to Rubio. When you watch the video, it’s comical. Rubio stood there like a performer at amateur night at the local comedy house and Christie proceeded to chip large chucks off his stock performance. Polls following the debate have Rubio a number of points lower.

Curz and Carson fared well mainly because they were ignored by the moderators. Neither was given much opportunity to speak—Carson because he is now viewed by the MSM as losing and Cruz because whenever the MSM attack him, they come up the loser looking ridiculous.

I am no prognosticator. I cannot tell you how Cruz and the others will do in New Hampshire. I do expect Cruz to maintain his rising power.

Trump, in my opinion, is losing ground. His vitriol has hurt his campaign efforts. He vilified Cruz running up to Iowa and after. Then, he says Cruz is a nice guy—days after he called Cruz a nasty guy. Trump’s vitriol has recoiled on himself and has hurt Trump more than it does others and some of Trump’s supporters are dropping by the wayside. (Comparing Trump with Obama is another posting…or maybe not. There’s not all that much difference. Both are narcissists whose primary interest is themselves.)

Cruz picked up some Rand Paul supporters, more importantly, some Rand Paul financial supporters. Rand Paul hasn’t endorsed Cruz but many of his former supporters have. That helps Cruz and doesn’t help Trump nor Rubio.

Missouri will have its primary next month, March 15th. The Missouri pubbies will have their Presidential Caucus on April 9th. The GOP chose the caucus to limit, to a certain degree, infiltration by dems and third party followers. They also use the caucus to give the state GOP establishment more control over the process and the result.

The caucus method allowed the establishment to select Romney in 2012. I speculate they will line up behind Rubio, the new establishment darling, this year. It’ll be a tough job. Cruz has a lot of supporters in the western half of Missouri.

If you are a ‘pub, it is important for you to vote in the primary AND to attend the caucus. Check your local GOP central committee for the caucus locations in your county.

Happy New Year!

New Year’s Eve at the Farm

Growing up on the farm, we had a few traditions—mostly imported, that we upheld. New Years was a family holiday. Kith ‘n kin visited on Thanksgiving and Christmas. New Years, however, was just Mom, Dad, me and later Grandma.

The farm was located in the middle of coal country in southern Illinois. The population was mostly Scots/Irish/English who brought mining skills learned in the coal mines of England and Wales. During the Union/Mine Owner wars of the early 20th century, many East Europeans were brought in as strike breakers. After the strikes were resolved, the East Europeans—Poles, Hungarians and various Russians, became good union members and added their traditions to those of their predecessors. However, their new traditions were mostly religious holidays than of New Years.

http://www.viewsofthepast.com/photos/hunt/h-camp-017.jpgOne tradition that became almost universal was the tradition of the gift of coal. The tradition came from Wales, northern England and Scotland. The tradition was that the home would have good luck if the first person to cross the threshold in the new year was a dark haired Englishman, Welshman, Scot, Irish (add other nationality here) wishing everyone within Happy New Year and bringing a gift of a bucket of coal to warm the hearth. My Dad fit that job description and since I was the next oldest (only) male in the house, I assisted with the tradition.

Come New Years Eve around 11PM, earlier in some locales, the men of the house would leave with a bucket of coal, their shotgun, and, for those who imbibed, a bottle or mason jar of holiday cheer. In town, they would usually head for the closest bar or other gathering place and wait for the mine whistle to blow the arrival of midnight.

At the farm, we had three close neighbors; John Davis, our neighbor just across the road from the farm, Sy Malone, a friend of Dad’s who had a small farm a quarter-mile to our west, and Ken Shoemaker who lived a couple of hundred yards to the east. All were coal miners or had been. Ken Shoemaker was also a bus driver for the High School. John Davis’ place was the most central of us and he had a heated barn for his heifers. That was our gathering place.

Ken and Sy usually arrived early bringing some ‘shine that Sy made in the woods in back of his house. John would join next. By the time Dad and I arrived, they were sitting around a kerosene heater and usually well lubricated. The men talked and drank. Dad sipped tea from a thermos he had brought. I listened. I heard quite a bit of gossip, bragging and stories while waiting in that barn.

Remembering those times, I’m amazed that with all the drinking that occurred, there was never a firearm accident. I think folks were more used to guns and how to handle them. Many were WW2 veterans such as Ken and Sy Malone. John Davis supplemented his mine income by trapping pelts and as an occasional commercial meat hunter. Dad was a long-time hunter as well. They were experienced folks who acquired gun-handling habits that just weren’t broken even when one has consumed large amounts of alcohol.

In coal country, the time standard was the mine whistle. The whistle blew at shift change each day, at noon, and on New Years Eve, at midnight. The closest mine to the farm was about five miles away. That mine, Orient #2, was on the north edge of West Frankfort. Dad, John and Sy worked there. Ken worked occasionally at Orient #3.

When midnight neared, everyone loaded their shotguns—usually with #6 or #7 1/2 shot, and went outside to listen for the whistle. At the stroke of midnight, delayed only by distance, we heard the mine whistles; Orient #2 to the south, followed by Old Ben #9 to the south-east. Another whistle arrived from the west, followed slightly late by Orient #3 from the north. The men raised their shotguns and in turn fired three times into the air. Nine shots in all.

As the sound of their shots faded away, I could hear the patter of falling shot and the echoes of other shotguns rolling in from surrounding points. In the far distance, I could hear the Sheriff let loose with his Thompson sub-machine gun…a weapon confiscated from Charlie Birger decades before. Charlie Birger was tried for murder and hanged—the last public hanging in Illinois.

As the gunfire died away, each man picked up his bucket of coal, his shotgun and began the trek home to be the first dark-headed man to cross the home’s threshold. In lieu of hair, John Davis wore a dark hat.

It was a short walk for Dad and me, just across the road and up the drive. Dad walked up to our front door and knocked. Mom would answer and Dad would exclaim, “Happy New Year!” and we’d go inside to the warmth. Mom would have coffee or more tea for Dad, a glass of milk for me and either cake, sweet rolls or home-made doughnuts depending on what she and Grandma had made that day.

New Years was a family celebration, but New Years Eve was one for males. A celebration in the cold or in a warm barn. A gathering of men, boys, talk, drink and memories. The communal celebration of the coming year.

Merry Christmas!

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And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed…Luke, 2:1 KJV

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‘Tis the season…

One of the original purposes of this blog was to capture events and memories of my family and events of times past. Some were comical, some were tragic, all were examples of life in another time. This is one. I’ve published it before but it bears seeing the light of day…and of the season…again.


 

When my Grandmother lived with us on the farm, Thanksgiving and Christmas was always a big deal. Many of our relatives lived at both ends of the state.

My Aunt Anna May (note: My Aunt Anna May, at age 99,  still with us. [Update: Aunt Anna May passed two months after I originally wrote this a few months shy of her 100th birthday,]) and a bunch of cousins lived near Cairo (rhymes with Aero. Kay-ro is a syrup. K-Eye-ro, another incorrect pronunciation, is a city in Egypt,) Illinois. Mom’s other two siblings, Aunt Clara and Uncle Bill, lived near Chicago along with their batch of kids and cousins. We lived betwixt them with a local batch of cousins and therefore often hosted the gathering of the Clan at the holidays.

In the late 1950s, most of the cakes and pies were hand-made including pie crust. Betty Crocker was expensive and not to be trusted according to Mom and Grandma. A week or so before the guests arrived, Mom and Grandma started making pie dough. They would make it in small batches, enough for a couple of pies and then store it on the porch. The porch was unheated and was used as a large refrigerator during the colder months.

Mom and Grandma collected pie fillings most of the year. When cherries were in season, they canned cherries. When blackberries and raspberries were in season, they canned the berries—along with making a large batch of berry jelly and jam. When apples were in season, they canned, dried apples, and made applesauce and pie filling. When the holidays arrived, they were ready.

About the only things they didn’t can was pumpkins. Mom and Grandma purposely planted late to harvest late. I don’t remember a year that we didn’t have pumpkins or sweet-potatoes for pie filling.

The count-down started with the pie dough. When the dough was ready, Mom began baking pies. When a pie was finished, it’d go out to the porch covered with a cloth. The division of labor was that Mom would make pies, Grandma would make cakes.

Grandma liked sheet cakes. I rarely saw a round, frosted cake unless it was someone’s birthday. Grandma’s cakes were 18″ by 24″. Icing was usually Cream Cheese or Chocolate. Sometimes, when Grandma make a German Chocolate cake, she’d make a brown-sugar/coconut/hickory nut icing. The baking was done right up until it was time stick the turkeys, hams or geese in the oven.

The last item Grandma would make was a apple-cinnamon coffee-cake that was an inherited recipe from her mother. It was common-place that when everyone arrived, we’d have a dozen pies and another dozen cakes ready. That was our contribution. The guests brought stuff as well.

The holiday gathering wasn’t just a single day, it was several. Thanksgiving, for instance, lasted through Sunday. A Christmas gathering lasted through New Years. We weren’t the only relatives in the central part of the state, but we were the gathering place. Come bedtime, the visitors left with some of the local cousins and would gather again the next day at another home and the visiting continued.

It was not unusual for us to have twenty or thirty folks at the house at one time. Our barn was heated for the livestock, so the men and boys—and some girls, gathered there. Dad would turn a blind eye to the cigarettes, cigars and bottles—as long as no one started a fire. Grandma’s jugs of Applejack appeared as well.

The women would gather in one of our side bedrooms where Grandma’s quilt frame was set up. They would sit, talk, quilt and plan future family affairs. A number of weddings were planned in those sessions. Sometimes before the bridegroom was aware of his upcoming fate.

Come Christmas Eve, the women, along with a number of kids, put up the tree and decorations. At 11PM, went went to midnight church services. Our local church was only a quarter-mile up the road from the farm. There were a number of preachers in the Clan and those who didn’t want to drive to a service and were still awake attended a Clan service in the barn. That was the only building able to house everyone at the same time.

On Christmas, the Clan dispersed to their more immediate relatives. Mom, Dad, Grandma, my Aunts and Uncles, my sister Mary Ellen, her husband Dick and their two kids arrived. Sometimes my Aunt Emily and Cousins Richard and Dorothy (Dad’s niece and nephew) would come down from Mt. Vernon, IL for Christmas.

More often than not, Dad, Dick, my Uncles and I would go goose or duck hunting early on Christmas morning. The Big Muddy River was only a few miles away and if we arrived right at dawn, we were likely to find some Canadian Geese or Mallards sitting out of the wind on the river. We rarely spent more than three hours hunting before we’d return home, wet, cold and tired ready for breakfast.

We would have a large breakfast around 9AM and afterwards while Mom and Grandma started on dinner, we’d open presents next to the tree. I remember once that Mom hide a pair of snow tires for Dad’s pickup behind the couch. I really had a hard time believing Dad wasn’t aware of them.
 
Over the years, the Clan has dispersed. Most moving to locations where jobs were available. The elders have passed on and with them the traditions. Cousins have lost touch and few live on the old homesteads.

It was a different time, another era. Some families still maintain the old traditions. They are the fortunate ones.

The Anti-God Party

After the Islamic terrorist attack in San Bernardino, CA, yesterday, the dems called for more gun control—more gun control in the most gun, 2nd Amendment repressive state in the union. The GOP Presidential candidates, almost to a man, asked for prayers for the victims and their families.

The MSM, in particular the New York Daily News, mocked them for calling on God for intersession. I can’t say I’m surprised at the vileness coming from the liberals and their propaganda organs. However, as in everything, there are consequences to actions. Ones the dems reject.

WITHOUT CHRISTIAN VOTERS, DEMS DON’T HAVE A PRAYER
Back when Barack Obama could really deliver from the podium, one of his very best lines was about how “we worship an awesome God in the blue states.” The language was no accident. “Awesome God” is the name of one of the most popular evangelical worship songs of the last generation.

In 2004, when Obama gave that speech, it would have been impossible to imagine a sitting U.S. Senator chastising believers for their prayers in the wake of a mass murder. But one did on Tuesday.

Many on the left embraced the idea not that, as Obama has said before, “thoughts and prayers are not enough,” but that prayers were pointless or even damaging because they distracted from what most Democrats believe should be a move to advance extensive gun control.

Those on the right tend to put about as much faith in federal gun laws as atheists put in prayer. So why wouldn’t they pray? Or why wouldn’t believers in both God and gun control do both? Certainly at the scene of the slaughter, survivors didn’t seem to have qualms about prayer.

So what could possess members of a political party, including prominent elected officials, to denounce prayer – and to do so before the means and motives of the killers were still unknown? How does political stupidity of that magnitude come to seem like a good idea?

It turns out that in his famous 2004 speech about “awesome God,” Obama was talking about a dying breed when he spoke of Christian Democrats, especially evangelicals.

As the most recent Pew study on religion in public life tells us, Democrats went from 74 percent Christian in 2007 to 63 percent in 2014. The share of Christian Republicans dropped by 5 points to 82 percent, about the same as the population overall.

But the headline was that for the first time, the single largest group of Democrats on the spectrum of beliefs was “none.” Those professing no faith jumped 9 points in seven years – now 28 percent of Democrats.

As the sorting out of the electorate continues, it is easy to image those trends intensifying. Mitt Romney won 57 percent of the Protestant vote in 2012 (69 percent among white Protestants).

Those numbers will surely intensify in years to come if Democrats remain this hapless and condescending when talking to Christian voters. — FOX Newsletter, December 3rd, 2015

All the while, the MSM ignores the battleground of black-on-black crime in the warzone of Chicago. More people have been killed in Chicago last week, than in San Bernadino. Even as this piece is written, the MSM is calling the shooting in San Bernadino a “work-place” incident.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Mrs. Crucis and I wish all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving.

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