Category Archives: Leavenworth

Heater doesn’t work? Prove it!

If you’re a company contracted to manage a bunch of old houses such as these you’re obviously going to want to squeeze every dollar you can out of it.   After all, you’re dealing with a bunch of old drunks, addicts, derelicts and other fallout from the mainstream human experience.    So one of the things you’ll do from the start is pretend all those complaints of failings in the buildings you contracted to maintain get ignored as long as possible.

During this cold spell I’m told there have been a rash of complaints of old sissie veterans who thought their central heating units ought to be working better.   Mostly they’re lying.    Just want something to complain about.  I know because last year when my heater didn’t heat the place the manager explained it to me.

So I went out and bought a radiator heater and a bottle-top propane heater and barely even attempt to use the central heat.     I try to keep the thermostat at 61 degrees.

thermostat jan 18 2018

radiator jan 18 2018

propane jan 18 2018

Sorry but the radiator just can’t keep up with Zero degrees F outdoors.    But anticipating the response to my maintenance request I applied the use of a tool I picked up on sale a while back.    It’s magic!   Somehow this little pistolie can read the surface temperature of all manner of objects from a distance, along with the ambient temperature.

In other words you can point it into your heat outlet vents and find out the temperature of the air coming out of there as it emerges!

thermo gun jan 18 2018

thermo gun 2 jan 18 2018

No room for arguments, evasions or excuses.

I’ve loaned this to the other guys in the building and they’ve all become believers.   And my own maintenance request is getting some respect in the proper quarters.

Heck, I’d loan it to some of the folks in the other buildings, too, but someone would trade it for a bottle of whiskey or some skag.

Thanks for the visit.

Old Jules

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Those Christmas stockings

Christmas stocking

Hi readers.    Thanks for coming by.

I was just reminded when I went outdoors to see if my car would start that the most appreciated Christmas gifts I’ve ever given anyone came in 2017.   Neck warmers.

I bought a dozen calf-length tube socks off EBay, and 20 pounds of rice.  Filled all those stockings with rice and tied off the ends.    These places we’re living tend to be cold partly because we each pay our own electric bills and we’re mostly on severely limited incomes.    But the houses are old, too, and just trying to get it ‘warm’ by most measures might well be doomed to failure.

But I’ve digressed.

For Christmas I made a big meatloaf and laid out a spread out in the lobby for a number of the old vets living around here who didn’t have anyone nor anywhere to go.    And for each of them, and several others, I made ‘Christmas stockings’.    Neck warmers.  Put those stockings into the microwave for 3.5 minutes and drape it around your shoulders and it will drive away your fears of the future for an hour or more.

But when I went outdoors, I was going to say before history broke in with all its matter-of-fact was, here came one of those old guys walking toward the office with his Christmas stocking between his Yukon cap and his coat collar.

“Managing to keep that neck from freezing and falling off?”   I couldn’t help grinning.

“It ain’t my neck I’m worried about!   It’s my brass monkey.”

Gave me a warm red glow without even having to put mine in the microwave.

Thanks for the visit.

Old Jules

A little excitement here

It being colder than a well-diggers brass bra the past several days, we’re forced to entertain ourselves by watching carefully out the windows, reading [I’ll talk some about that], and watching movies.     The other tenants read somewhat less and watch tv, I reckons.     So when we meet down in the little ‘lobby’ that used to be a sort of lobby mornings we’re all full of news.

Such as, yesterday the deputies came past on the way to the corner house apartments, pulled in and stayed a while.    I donned my arctic gear and went out onto the porch to see who was getting busted.

Turned out they were moving out the girl-friend of a guy we call Bird Whistle.   I don’t know his real name.    He’s a scowling crackhead, old vet white hater who works over in the main hospital pushing patients around sometimes.    Beats hell out of this woman enough to have the cops out there frequently.      I’ve never seen her when her face wasn’t so full of bruises a person can’t tell how she might have looked once.

Anyway, she was a prostitute in town when she came across Bird Whistle and he brought her down here to live with him.    A few months ago she totaled his car, so they’ve been begging rides for smokes and whiskey, making nuisances of themselves.  I’d never talked to her until the day she flagged me down and offered me a BJ if I’d take her to the liquor store.    [I refused—grapevine has it she gives them for five bucks to anyone in the market.     Not worth it.].

We’d all puzzled over how he stayed out of jail, beating her up that way, and held his job at the hospital only showing up half the time and taking off anytime he could get some crack..

But I’ve digressed.

Those deputies went inside a while, and came back out with Rebecka [the name she goes by is Rebecka], all of them toting bags and pillowcases stuffed with what was probably her belongings.    The deputies got back in the car, but she ran back in and returned in a few minutes with more loot from the apartment.    And the lot of them, her and deputies drove away.

Well, they were no sooner gone than the other residents down there scurried out like a bunch of cockroaches and hurried away in all directions, afoot, or in whatever vehicles they had that would start.

Johnny and I hashed this out this morning.    We figure Bird Whistle beat hell out of her one too many times, and as soon as he was gone, she called the cops asking to be taken to a family violence shelter.    And she must have remarked while she was waiting for the deputies that she was going to spill the beans about all the other crap going on down there.

So everyone must have thought it was a good time to take a powder for a while.   No cars and no lights down there last night.     So maybe Rebecka had a nice night somewhere without any crack and not getting billy-hell beaten out of her.

We’re all thinking Bird might be in jail, but that might be too much to hope for around here.    We’ve had bets going for a long time whether someone would get killed before anyone did anything to stop all that crap.

So now the only woman likely to get beaten up by her man is Sandy, the next building over.    An old Army nurse who has a boyfriend named Daniel Northern who knocks her around enough to bring the cops and get restraining orders for a while.   But somehow love always wins out and before you know it he’s back.

Love conquers all.

Thanks for the visit.

Old Jules

Baby it’s cold outside. And inside is nothing to brag about.

 

jan 16 2018 zero

Hi readers.   Thanks for coming by for a read.

I think our ancestors would most likely consider us a passle of sissies.   These old houses have seen a lot of extended periods when the outside temps didn’t get up to freezing.    Bound to have.    And in those days they were relying on steam radiators, fireplaces,  and lots of blankets.

Well heck.    I think yesterday it got into the 20s F for the first time in over a week.   And if it’s going to get into the teens today there’s no sign of it.     The ‘central heat’ here, combined with my electric radiator heater are just about able to keep the indoor temp up to 61 degrees F.   That’s not the level of warmth I find inspires me to take a badly needed shower, to I tried using the Coleman 30,000 BTU tank-top heater to get things nearer a welcome taste of clean.

Nothing doing!    The carbon monoxide detector kicked in before it got up to 65 degrees F.

This wouldn’t have been a problem for my granddad living in his tarpaper shack out in the middle of nowhere in New Mexico.    He’d have been just trying to keep the 2.5 gallon galvanized bucket he kept by the door for drinking water and to dipper into a washbasin from freezing solid.     If he could manage that a bath could wait until spring.

But Walter E. Hudson  my old granddaddy, didn’t much like bathing anyway.   “Do it too often and you’ll wash off all that protection.”    I’m guessing the people who lived in this house probably subscribed to the same doctrine.

But I have it on good authority we’re looking at some serious global warming, coming soon.    So I’ll plan on a shower then.    And try to keep an adequate supply of clean underwear.

Thanks for the visit.

Old Jules

Celebrating MLK day by doing the laundry and trying to stay warm.

Hi readers.     Thanks for coming by for a read.

At 6 am the thermometer on my porch declared it was almost 20 degrees F.   And an hour later it dropped to around 10 degrees F.    So there you are.

I hope you are all having a merry little MLK day.    If you didn’t get all the presents you were wanting old MLK to bring, maybe the Valentine will give them to you, or the Easter Bunny.    Don’t give up hope.

So, it being a clear day full of sunshine I figured I’d go down to the laundromat to celebrate MLK.    Discovered sun or no sun, those sidewalks and parking lots are SLICK.  No, not slicker than greased owl droppings, but still slick enough to throw a man who was not sufficiently careful, or one who felt the need for a broken arm or hip.

But it was worth it.    I’m blessed with a load of clean laundry, all folded nicely, ready to go into the various hidey holes and drawer-like places here.    And while I was waiting for my dryer I stopped by Wendy’s for a Caesar salad.    Which I didn’t get one of because all their damned Romaine  lettuce was recalled.

So I had to settle for some other lousy salad that wasn’t worth the chewing it required.

But it was worth it anyway.    Because at the booth across from me I heard the most INTERESTING conversation!     It all began with a few remarks about MLK and the issue of whether racism in this country has improved since his time.   Mostly these folks figured it hasn’t.

But of course, they weren’t alive or adults to experience how it was when MLK was doing his work.   Everything seems to me to boil down to conjecture and personal experience.    Along with the manifestations of racism a person chooses to call by that title.

But I’ve digressed.    What struck me as most interesting was that the conversation drifted to something they were calling, ‘restitution’.     Evidently there’s either a plan in place, a program somewhere, or just a fond hope among a lot of people that we who are alive today are going to be compensated by someone sometime for bad things our ancestors experienced.

To me this sounds peachy, but somehow unlikely.    My personal ancestors, I know, experienced great hardships, deprivations, injustices and sometimes even rudeness.   I’ve always resented the fact nobody ever offered to pay me for all that stuff that happened to them.

But my impression listening to these people at Wendy’s was that they thought ‘restitution’ for things our ancestors suffered but we didn’t have to not only made sense, but was somewhere on an agenda and might happen.

Where do these ideas come from?     Is it because we’ve endured a system of inherited wealth and power all these generations after we ceased being aboriginals?   So if we can inherit wealth, we should also be compensated for the suffering dead people endured?

The world is a crazy place, and to me that definitely sounds like an idea not likely to come to pass, but stranger things have happened and still do.    After all, we do allow people to inherit power and wealth generation after generation.   Which probably would have sounded fairly crazy to aboriginals.

Thanks for the visit.

Old Jules

The Bivouac of the Dead – [Thank you for your service wasn’t enough]

 

cemetery poem sign 6

cemetery poem sign 3

cemetery poem sign 1

Hi readers.  Thanks for coming by for a read.

I’ve visited a lot of National Cemeteries over the years, along with a lot of private and State cemeteries where the remains of military personnel and veterans who served over the past centuries are planted.   I used to attend Memorial and sometimes Veterans Day ceremonies at the National Cemetery at Santa Fe when I lived in New Mexico.

One thing I’ve always appreciated about National Cemeteries, even Arlington, was the tasteful, somewhat understated and even egalitarian approach by the caretakers to those burial sites.

But that was before the presidential wars of the 21st Century and the need to glorify the whole idea of those who served in the military.   Suddenly, post-9-11 a surprisingly large piece of the population was singing the song of the spanking new fad, “Thank you for your service!”    Pretending all those who served were heroes, had dodged bullets of some enemy who wished only to rob us of our freedoms.   We veterans ‘fought’ for the freedoms, rights, something else ambiguous, courageous, praiseworthy.   Although it’s between wars and the fad is declining somewhat, it’s still out there to a limited degree, waiting for the need that will come from the next presidential war to spark public outrage against some group politicians declare are enemies and need killing.

But I’ve digressed.    What I was going to write about are the signs that have appeared during the past couple of decades in the National Cemeteries.    It wasn’t enough to have the public beating the drums and parroting thankyouverymuch to veterans.   Some bright light in the National Cemetery management system decided to make us all Chargers of the Light Brigade by hindsight.

Evidently they couldn’t find any 20th Century poets who expressed mawkish enough sentiments to satisfy their needs.    So they rode their lofty mounts back to the times between the Mexican War and the Civil War to Theodore O’Hara and his poem, The Bivouac of the Dead.    And they sure as hell found a level of absurdity and theater there to bring the 90% of the dead vets who never saw a day of combat right up there with fixed bayonets and bloody comrades.

So, even though VA hospitals across the country appear to have a lot of difficulty providing services to veterans legally eligible to receive health care services and the historical buildings are falling apart, the residue of synthetic heroism still resides across the hill in the graveyard,  The National Cemetery managed to afford somewhere between 10,000 and 38,000 Christmas wreaths made of real pine to place on those stones.

National Cemetery background

National Cemetery Christmas

But at least they didn’t allow the affluent mothers of young men killed in the last couple of presidential wars to put their helmet-bayonet-fixed-rifle-and combat-boot memorials in the National Cemetery.    Nope, they made them put those up by the front gate to the Medical Center.

Levenworth med entrance6

There are seven of those up there to ponder, along with a couple of empty block of granite in place for more if the moms and pops lose one and want to remember their son in such a way.

We Americans are such patriots, we are.

Thanks for the visit..

Old Jules

 

 

 

Back when the world was young

Lake Jeanette Soldiers Home Leavenworth, KSOriginal Hospital and LakeHere are a couple of historic postcards showing how this place looked sometime between 1895 and 1933 when the original hospital was torn down.   Those trees are either larger, or many have died and their remains stick up here and there from the lake like swords hoping for a King Arthur.

There used to be a group of ‘Christian Indians’ located here before the decision to build a soldiers home here.   But [according to the official history] they ‘left’.   They were called the Muncies.

So when the old hospital was torn down in 1933 and they began excavating to build something else on the location they discovered a number of graves containing Muncie Indians.   I suppose they pondered a while before deciding to bury them in a mass grave in the National Cemetery a quarter-mile away from here.    It’s the only mass grave in that cemetery, so you could say those Muncies got special treatment.

I’ll be posting more about the various buildings, the cemetery, the ghost stories and the current population of old vets here.    But first I wanted to convey that there really is a bit of a saga ……. it’s just not quite what a person might expect.

Thanks for the read.

Old Jules