Wednesday, February 24, 2016


Her birthday today. She is a year older and we do not go all out for most holidays any more. After a few years and years together, all of the holiday hoopla gives way to simplicity of being and doing together. Little gifts always, but nothing in the line of jewelry, clothes or getting on an airplane to parts unknown. Nothing gets us on airplanes anymore.

Her mother always made her a cherry pie for her birthday. I learned that early on. In fact there are a lot of stories on how she did things. She refers to her mother often. If you visit here from time to time you will see that our parents and grandparents still influence our lives. A heart thing.


So I take it upon myself to make sure “her” has a homemade cherry pie on her birthday. A card from the heart and a small gift of some sort. We both say do not get each other anything now for Christmas, birthdays, Valentines Day, Easter and so forth. But neither of us can go those days w/o saying Happy happy. The gift is secondary or thirdly.

Her” is home today. She is gifting herself more down time these days and today's weather is predicting ice on top of snow. A good day to make a cherry pie. “Her” helped with special prepping of canned cherries because mom's pies were more tart than what I put together. The lacing of top crust was a joint effort. Two sets of hands helps that process. As I write, we wait for the pie to cool before we dive in.

Her” has a special giggle and facial expression she expresses at things she really likes. This year's birthday card was set on a can of Bear Spray. She giggled and laughed. Asked me where I got it. Turned over the attached card and fully read the instructions. Good present.

Then I brought up her YAESU FT-1900 Ham Radio. She knew I was getting her that. In fact she knew I had it and already pre-programed our 35 or so frequencies a few weeks ago. No big surprise.

She is studying for her Technician Ham License and I am studying for the General License. Testing set for April.

Another Cherry Pie and another year in the books.

Sunday, February 21, 2016


I like knives. I always stop to look at them. Can't really tell you why, though. I have read doctoral dissertations on individual knives on internet blogs. However, a knife is simply a tool, needs maintenance and should be acquired according to a perceived need. It should feel comfortable in your hand and hold a sharp edge. 

Here are some of mine.

Top row, left to right
One, two and three are no-name examples of multi-tools. I purchased these at the state surplus store and paid about 20% what I would off the shelf. I get to pick these up, handle them and get the feel for how the tool fits in my hand. I like having one or two of these everywhere. In my tool boxes, first aid kits, car glove box, emergency bags, drawers in the kitchen, drawers in my office and at least one or two just in the way on counter tops.

A multi tool is just that: some are better made than others, stronger, more versatile, heavier or not. Bottom line, does the tool work? Will the fold-out knife work in an emergency? Will the pliers grasp? Does the wire cutter work? Can I tighten a small screw or open a can of beans? Does it carry easy? Does it fit my perceived needs and is the price right for the tool?

Four are two CRKT (Columbia River Knife and Tool) knives. I bought the black one in South Africa and the other one at the state surplus store. I had looked a many pocket knives and decided on this knife for every day pocket knife. It fits comfortably in my front pants pocket. Clips to the bottom edge of the pocket with the knife inside the pocket. Does not get in the way of every day movements and is designed to open upon pulling from the pocket. Takes practice. Not my main reason for purchase, but I like the design concept. The blade holds a sharp edge, is easily sharpened, locks open and is very comfortable to hold. I like the looks of the knife.

Five is a little orange box cutter. Cheap, razor sharp, but cannot be used under a lot of down pressure and is expendable. I try to keep these in drawers around the house, tool box, first aid kit and car glove box. A cheap razor sharp tool; quite often one time use. I find that the knife extension and locking knob breaks most often.

Second Row left to right

One, Razor Pro®. It does not get in the way on my belt, surgical steel blades are replaceable and the grip is non-slip. Comes with 6 replacement blades in the sheath and is dangerously sharp. I find that the knife does not easily pull out of the sheath and the snap needs to always be “worked” when snapping. Superior razor sharp knife, sheath “iffy”. I have replaced one blade in the past 6 months. I would never give this knife to a youngster and I never lend it to anyone who asks me if I have a knife they can borrow. This not a knife for a beginner or novice.

Two, Kershaw® Carabiner knife.

I bought this several years ago as a novelty item but quickly found it was perfect to connect to a backpack, bug-out bag or vest. The stainless steel knife is a great back up knife, razor sharp for first emergency uses. A good Carabiner addition with function use of knife, screwdrivers and bottle opener. It makes sure my wife's go bag or emergency pack has a compact, dependable, sharp locking blade knife with easy access.

Three, Lansky® knife. Generic small pocketknife with locking blade. Sharp with a handle big enough to grasp for cutting. Fits easily in a pocket or purse.

Four, Smith's sharpening stone and sheath.

Inexpensive 4” diamond stone with course and fine option. Great for sharpening small knives.

Five, Bear Gyles® Ultimate Fixed Blade Knife.

I found this at the state surplus store at 35% of off the shelf cost. A good deal as I had not been able to cross the bridge to purchase a top of the line expensive knife at retail.

This would be my first choice of all the knives I have. It is razor sharp and snaps snugly in the sheath. It is not too big as a sheathed knife and the grip and feel is one of the best I have. The knife can be carried parallel with the belt or hanging vertically. It is full tang knife (blade and metal handle runs through the grip) giving the extra strength and a strength option for prying. A ferrocerium rod snaps into the sheath for starting fires and there is a sharpening stone sewn into the the back of the sheath. The orange color adds to the ability to find the knife on the ground when dropped or set down while working with it. More important than you might think. The butt is heavy metal with an embossed hammer markings for pounding. An all around excellent knife to have out packing and emergency.


Skinning, boning and all purpose kitchen knife.

Made for the farm and kitchen by Charles, probably in the 1930's. Shaped with heat, forging hammer and anvil. Full tang knives for strength and ease of construction. Handles carved from local woods and attached with brass pins penned flat until the handles held snug.

The skinning knife was used to remove hide from slaughtered cows, the boning knife with it's long sharp point worked meat off the bones and the all purpose kitchen knife was just that. The top left skinning knife has a bone handle and the blade is tapered and forged thinner at the cutting edge. I think that heat treating and forging skills improved as this blade holds a razor sharp edge.

All these knives were made early on when Charles and Rose bought their farm and land. There was a lot of scrap steel in the farm forge shop and Charles had the skills and knowledge of working metal. I would guess that he could make one of these knives easily in a couple of hours.


Do your homework and knife research. Learn and study knife safety and teach that to your children and peers. Practice knife safety.

As much as a utility tool offers many problem solving solutions, I will always choose a high quality fixed blade sheathed knife over any other belt/pocket carry tool. Backpacking, hiking, biking or emergency outing, a high quality dependable knife will pay for itself in a one time needed use. Knives are fun to shop for and there are more choices than time allows to shop. You get what you pay for applies here.

In a perfect world, where money was no object, I would find a knife maker to build me the ultimate backpacking sheathed knife.

Another good knife blog to read.

Thursday, February 18, 2016


Something is very wrong when young men and women have to leave their family and country forever. There was no going back and a decision like this, was one of those times. The opportunity to come live in America with freedoms and choices overshadowed all that was left behind. Decisions made by teenagers.

Charles wife, Rose, also has a similar story. 

Sold into indentured servitude, Rose too arrived to America through the front door. She was to become a man's wife for the privilege of coming to America. Debt paid via the marriage. Lucky for Rose, she could work off the debt should she choose not to marry, which she did. Several years of labor to pay that debit for the opportunity to become an American.

Also from Russia, Rose knew not a word of English when she arrived and boarded a train for Chicago. As the train moved out of the gates, the attendants handed everyone on the train a banana. Rose had never seen a banana before and did not know what to do with it. She sat holding the banana and watched. Others peeled, then ate and then did Rose.

The desire and cost to come to the freedoms of America, like no other place in the world, was high. The desire to be free, was worth the price. Fleeing the constructs of invasive government and life sworn servitude to the leaders was nothing to ever return to.

I have been free my whole life and cannot fully understand all that my grandparents went through to get here. Any life inside the ensured poverty they were born into, held no promise. America offered the light of freedom. These two people came to this country to work, design, build, raise families and do their best to shore up these lands so that they did not become the lands and times they fled.

But today, a little over a hundred years later, friends here are seriously considering moving from the live free or die state. Not idle talk over a beer or cup of coffee. Friends, like us, moved here because there was no income or sales tax. A smaller government but surrounded by increasingly invasive and oppressive states. Live free or die is an American love and life style. The walls of our Capitol building are covered of men in revolution against a tyrannical government. Their faces, flags, and campaigns know every corner and crook of that wonderful building.
Some friends planing to leave here, are younger and have skill sets that will allow them to find jobs, grow crops, hunt and raise live stock. They have the ability to turn a dollar, pay the bills and set up life with like minded people. They will take with them no plans to change their their new local / state government. No desire to shape others into an agenda. Like my grandparents, they feel the pressures from an ever growing invasive government. Selling and leaving all they have built to again find like minded communities where freedom is a corner stone. But they take with them the spirit of live free or die. A living motto.

Suffice it to say I am torn. I am tired from the worry. I often wish I could shrug my shoulders, turn my back and simply live each day outside the barrage of garbage being dumped on our shoulders. Turn my back that today our children, like Rose, are being born into servitude and poverty. But I cannot.

I spend too much time talking to myself and shaking my head in lost understanding. I know that. Yet there is a deep spark in this native Norwegian, Russian, American heart. A spark, that rests and was for ever lit the day I was born here. It is the same spark that rests in all of our hearts. Our spark of freedom is genetic now and can never ever be put out. I do not have to explain that to an American. It is the spark that others come here to find, and sadly, others come here to extinguish. Attempts by any or all to forever extinguish this spark, will ignite a fire beyond imagination.


Saturday, February 13, 2016

Welcome to my first blog!

Self Sufficient:

I doubt that Charles ever whimpered, held up a sign for help or demanded anyone take care of him. The thoughts never crossed his mind.

Born “Kazimir” in Plunges, Russia, “Chas” Charles was 19 years old when he “renounced forever all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state or sovereignty and particularity to Nicholas II Emperor of All The Russia's of whom I am now subject,” left Mother Russia, boarded the MV Vera in Bremen, Germany, bound for Baltimore, Maryland. He was a machinist laborer headed for Chicago, Illinois. He came though the front door declaring his intention to become a citizen of the United States.

Charles met Rose in Chicago, further migrated to the west coast, bought land, built a house and farm, had three children and was my grandfather.

My grandparents never ever pointed a finger at me and said you better do this or you better do that. Never any kind of mandate or imposed lesson for this youngster. Never did for me what I should/could do for myself.

Upon our weekend arrivals at the farm, I was sent to my chores before I could play. Gather cream from the milk house over the stream. Fill the wood box at the top of the stairs. Shovel cow manure from the troughs at the milking stations. Then push it all outside the barn to the manure pile. Finish the job with a water hose washing down all the stalls. Pitch hay for the afternoon milking and gather/wash garden vegetables according to grandma. My times on the farm growing up were life lessons. I did not know that at the time and no one took the time to tell me that all I was doing would pay dividends for the rest of my life. Hard work, take care of yourself, be responsible, be free. Cornerstones of my life.

I took to the chores because I was outside working like everyone else. The land was large, the river full of salmon and river banks for fishing. Logs escaping from the mill down river came by with riding tides. They were captured, pulled ashore for firewood and cedar blocks for making shakes for barn roofs.

My grandfather could build anything. He was a master blacksmith. He made shoes for his children, built the wagons and barns needed for the farm. Built and installed all the fencing, butchered all the beef, fertilized and planted all the fields for yield. He started at daylight, took a nap after lunch and worked till dark. What he could not do himself, he bartered local labor from younger men for meager wages plus food to take home to feed their families. He went to their land to help with harvest or repair equipment. On special Saturday nights, the local families would put together a dance with local homemade food and special apple cider.

The land provided but it required a lifetime of work. Charles built his life and wrote his history in America. He was free to do so.

I continue to stand in his shadow.