Category Archive 'Pennsylvania'
17 Oct 2016

As Trump is Blowing It…

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drowningrat

I am currently in residence at my farm in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountain in Central Pennsylvania. My neighbor, Bud, just stopped by to visit and chat. Like just about everybody else in these parts, Bud has been an enthusiastic Trump supporter.

Today, though, Bud seemed a bit discouraged by the ineffectiveness of The Donald’s campaign effort. When I inquired how he was enjoying following the campaign contest, Bud replied bitterly: “Who wants to watch a drowning rat?”

12 Jun 2016

Alligator Captured Near Allentown, PA

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LehighGator

Morning Call:

Allentown police confirmed local officials corralled an alligator around 7 p.m. Friday after hours tracking it through the Lehigh Canal. On Saturday morning, the reptile was on its way to a preserve in the Poconos.

Travis Benitez, 18, spotted the 31/2-foot gator while fishing in the canal. The teen said he’s been fishing in the canal since he was 7 years old and “never saw anything like that in my life.”

The gator prompted lots of activity. Police got a call around noon. City officials called for assistance from reptile and wildlife experts and tried to get the alligator to the bank. Keith Galvin of Galvin Wildlife Control of the Lehigh Valley tried to hook the alligator, which he says is a humane way to get the reptile out of the water.

“It won’t hurt him, he has alligator skin,” he said as he tried to capture the gator.

The rescue operation proved to be challenging because of the dense seaweed-like grass lining the water. Also, the alligator blended in with the canal with only its eyes rising above the water.

When a fisherman spotted an alligator in the Lehigh Canal in Allentown earlier this month, it made for a few tense hours as authorities tried to corral the carnivore. Keith E. Galvin Sr., of Galvin Wildlife Control in Upper Macungie Township, eventually was successful in hooking the gator and then turned it over to a reptile preserve in the Poconos.

A plastic crate, typically used to carry a large dog, was ready for the gator once it was corralled.

While Allentown won’t be confused for the Florida Everglades, there have been alligators captured in the waters of the Queen City in the past.

In September 2009, Allentown police, a city fire marshal and animal control officers captured a 6-foot alligator — believed to be the biggest ever found in the Lehigh Valley — sunning itself on the bank of the Jordan Creek

In the Spring of last year, an alligator was sighted in the Monongahela River in Western Pennsylvania.

10 Jun 2016

Last Night

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BearatFeeder
Not unlike the scene just outside our window last night.

Around 10:15 PM EST, Karen and I had just finished watching Vincent Price hamming it up in House of Seven Gables (1963), when our saluki (who had already had his last outside call for the evening) was found peering intently out the window.

Outside the window were three bird-feeders on poles standing in a small clearing and our dog had previously detected an opossum visiting at night to mop up fallen seeds lying on the ground. He had developed a real enthusiasm for that possum, and kept looking for him weeks after the varmint had been last seen.

Last night, though, Uhlan was looking out the window so intently that I suspected his beloved possum had finally returned. Karen went over to the window and looked, and saw that two poles were bent over and two rifled feeders were lying on the ground.

She retrieved the flashlight from the other end of the room and handed it to me. When I aimed the light out the window, the culprit was visible. It was a fully-grown black bear, sitting about ten feet from the house and looking guilty.

This was not the first time that bears had raided our birdfeeders. I had previously vowed revenge, and I had a .44 Magnum Smith & Wesson all ready for just such an occasion, sitting on a bookcase near the door, its first two chambers loaded with ratshot.

I reached for the revolver, but soft-hearted Karen intervened on the criminal’s behalf, saying “Don’t you shoot that bear!”

Sigh! What can you do? I’d been looking forward to applying a load of number 12 ratshot where it would do the most good, but wives are wives. I contented myself with opening the door and firing a shot out into the (empty) front field. The loud report and the flame (visible at night) issuing from the barrel naturally made some impression of Mr. Bear, who (as Karen who had been watching, reported) levitated out of the area in great haste.

Previously, one or another bear had absconded with two feeders, which were not seen again or found long afterward totally destroyed. This time, we recovered all the feeders fully intact, and one of them was even still full of sunflower seeds.

People 1: Bears: 0

30 Sep 2015

14 Most Inebriated Pennsylvania Counties

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ArmstrongCounty
Kittaning, county seat of Armstrong County

Only in Our State

Clinton County (County Seat, Lock Haven) comes in first. (Applause!)

Lackawanna (Scranton), Luzerne (Hazleton), Monroe (Stroudsburg), and Huntingdon (Huntingdon) all get in there. Sadly, my native county, Schuylkill, does not even make this list. It would have in the old days. My hometown in its prime had more barrooms than Philadelphia, typically six per block: each corner building and one in the middle of the block on either side of the street.

31 Aug 2015

But Who Decided That a Swiss Army Knife Was a “Weapon”?

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Swiss-Army-Knife

We have gotten used to reading about these little-kid-expelled-from-school-for-possession-of-a-pocket-knife happening in the suburbs of New England or California, but in Pennsylvania?

Recently a ten-year-old female violinist was expelled from the toney Valley School of Ligonier because the young musician was found to be using a Swiss Army Knife to remove broken strings from her violin bow.

Her parents consequently attempted to enroll her in the public school for their local district, but found her admission jeopardized by the report of her expulsion for “bringing weapons onto school property” from the young lady’s previous school.

All this nincompoopery is connected, in Pennsylvania, to a Safe School Act (passed in 1995, and amended in 1997 and subsequently added to) which in the case of a student expelled due to a weapon or drugs being brought on to school property, obligates other schools to apply the same expulsion. The parents are suing on the basis that these zero tolerance policies have inflicted on their daughter a “defamatory stigma.”

TribLive

Centre Daily Times

The Violin Channel

01 Jun 2015

St. Nicholas Breaker Under Demolition

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StNicholasBreaker375
The St. Nicholas Breaker in its operating days.(click on picture for larger image)

The old St. Nicholas Coal Breaker, built 1930-1931, once the largest and most productive coal breaker in the world, is being demolished this year, after sitting idle and abandoned for over 50 years.

WNEP story

UndergroundMiners.com remembers:

The St. Nicholas Breaker, located just out side of Mahanoy City, was constructed in 1931 and began operating in 1932. Half of the village of Suffolk was relocated in order to create room for the largest coal breaker in the world. 20 miles of railroad track were laid, 3,800 tons of steel and more than 10,000 cubic yards of concrete were used. A mile and a half of conveyor lines, 25 miles of conduit, 26,241 square feet of rubber belting, 118 miles of wire and cable and 20 miles of pipe were installed. When they constructed the breaker, they split it into two sides and each side could be operated independently, producing 12,500 tons of coal a day. The coal, once dumped, took just 12 minutes to pass through the entire breaker.

More photos.

st-nicholas-coal-breaker
More recent photo of abandoned breaker.

18 May 2015

Woodcock Chicks

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(photo: Karen L. Myers) click on pictures for larger versions.

A few days ago, my neighbor who does my mowing was cutting in the neglected field above the cabin when he flushed a woodcock, who was obviously a mother woodcock because she landed nearby and began performing the old “I’m-a-poor-injured-woodcock-with-a-broken-wing.-I’m-delicious-and-easy-to-catch.- Come,-follow-me!” routine.

So Bud turned off the mower, looked around, and spotted her four chicks. He then ran down to the house to tell us of his discovery, and Karen went up there with her camera and photographed the brood.

The four young woodcock were admirably camouflaged and Karen reports that they followed mother’s instructions and remained perfectly frozen, with the exception of all the little bright brown eyes which followed Karen’s every movement.

Naturally, mowing operations were suspended and the nosy humans all withdrew to allow Mother Woodcock to retrieve her brood and escort them back into the nearby woods.

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I was quite surprised to learn that woodcock bred on our Central Pennsylvania farm. I can’t recall ever seeing a woodcock outside of hunting season in the Fall. I always thought they bred up in Maritime Canada and only migrated to Pennsylvania.

But the Wikipedia entry says that they breed all the way down to Northern Virginia, and in some cases as far south as Florida and Texas. (!) “Most hens lay four eggs,” the entry reports.


(photo: Karen L. Myers)

11 Apr 2015

Alligator Seen in Monongahela River

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alligator-walking

When Pennsylvanians refer to an “Allegheny alligator,” they normally mean Necturus maculosus, a foot-and-a-half long dark salamander, with external, Christmas-tree-like red gills. But this week there have been two sightings reported of a real six-to-seven foot alligator (Alligator mississipiensis) in Western Pennsylvania’s Monongahela River, the one which joins the Allegheny River at Pittsburgh to form the Ohio.

WPIX:

The Southwest Regional Police Department is investigating an unconfirmed sighting of an alligator in the Monongahela River in Belle Vernon, Fayette County.

Authorities said a man on a boat reported that he saw what he believed was an alligator around midnight Tuesday.

He described the animal as approximately 6 to 7 feet long, swimming upstream against the current.

“He saw what he believed to be a log, going upstream about 10 or 15 feet from the shoreline,” Southwest Regional Police Chief John Hartman said. “He took his spotlight out and shined it on the log. He said he saw the head of an alligator, about 7 inches out of the water, two eyes and a tail.”

Upon investigation, police determined that a possible earlier sighting of the animal was made at approximately 2 p.m. Tuesday.

“I didn’t see teeth or anything. I didn’t think it was an alligator or nothing,” said Josh Adams.

Adams said he was applying for a job when he experienced the interesting sighting.

“After I put in my application, I went for a little walk. I seen a little duck and thought, ‘Awe, that’s cool,’ then it went under real fast and it didn’t come back up,” said Adams.

Southwest Regional Police Department is working with the U.S. Coast Guard, the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission and the Pittsburgh Zoo.

Neighbors said they’re glad authorities are taking this seriously, because they are, too.

But how the heck could a gator survive the bitter cold winter we just had in Pennsylvania?

28 Oct 2014

Local News Highlights National Habit of Overreacting to Fears and Obsessions

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SchoolLockdown
A school lockdown in Connecticut

Regular readers may possibly recall that I am currently blogging from our vacation place/300-acre farm in Central Pennsylvania.

Yesterday, the sounds of low-flying aircraft were heard from our cabin in the morning, and when Karen went into town, late in the afternoon, to get mail from the post office, the small town of Tyrone was buzzing with stories of a shooting in our own neighborhood.

The 10/27 Daily Herald (serving Tyrone, Bellwood, and Surrounding Areas since 1866, but not on-line) reported:

State Police at Hollidaysburg have confirmed a shooting at 260 Van Scoyoc Hollow Road in Snyder Township this morning.

Unconfirmed reports say that a 13-year-old female Tyrone student has been shot in the chest or shoulder at her bus stop near the Tyrone Sportsman’s Club. Reportedly the weapon was believed to be a shotgun.

The Tyrone Area School District went on full exterior lockdown as a precaution.

The school web-site said: “Based on conversation with the state police we have been informed that there is no threat to the school. We are merely taking precautionary measures by instituting the secure exterior lockdown

Due to shooting in the community, which is currently believed to be a hunting accident, the district is currently in a secure exterior lockdown.”

State Police were still investigating the area with metal detectors and ran infrared by helicopter looking for possible suspects around the Sportsman’s Club at 10:30 a.m. The bus stop and a wooded area across the road were heavily investigated.

The victim has reportedly been taken to UPMC Altoona and is in stable condition. State Police and the Game Commission were still on the scene, the shooter was not located and no further information was available at the time of press other that it is believed to have been a hunting accident.

So… What struck me about all this was the craziness of a school lockdown off in the borough of Tyrone, miles away from the scene of a shooting thought to be a hunting accident. This kind of response typifies a contemporary style of “cover your ass at any cost” bureaucratic formalism which characteristically reacts, not so much to threats, as to memes, with preposterous and pretentious brain-damaged forms of completely useless gestures.

I needed, of course, to investigate the facts, so I phoned up the State Police in Hollidaysburg this morning, explaining that I was inquiring about the Snyder Township shooting in my capacity as an Internet journalist.

I learned that what happened was: a 12-year-old girl accidentally dropped a .22 rifle while in the process of putting it away inside her house. The rifle went off, and the girl was struck by a bullet in the abdomen. The young lady is recovering from her unfortunate accident in hospital.

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Oddly enough, some news agency was actually reporting the story accurately this morning:

Police: Girl, 12, shot after mishandling rifle

TYRONE, Pa. (AP) – State police say a 12-year-old girl was accidentally shot in the abdomen after mishandling a .22-caliber rifle in her home.

Police aren’t releasing the name of the girl who authorities first believed had been shot outside her home Monday as she left for school about 7 a.m. That prompted the Pennsylvania Game Commission to investigate whether the girl might have been wounded by a hunter’s stray bullet.

But police now say the girl had grabbed the rifle and was returning it to a safe when it fell and discharged in her Snyder Township home.

The Tyrone Area School District was on an exterior lockdown after the shooting, meaning classes operated normally but no visitors were allowed on school property. The lockdown was lifted about 11 a.m. Monday.

Police were continuing to investigate Tuesday.

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All of which demonstrates the propensity of all forms and flavors of American officialdom these days to react Pavlovianly to popular cultural memes (e.g., “Child Shooting!” — “School Shooting!”) demonstrating a pathologically overly-enthusiastic eagerness to wield authority, deploy personnel and equipment, play with gadgets and weapons, and to act out fantasies in public.

Yesterday, we had two government agencies sending armed men scurrying about the landscape, helicopters searching the forest with infrared, and a school system, miles away, undergoing lockdown (“Sorry, Mr. Jones, you can’t deliver milk for the school lunch today. We’re on lockdown!”), along with a grand search for an imaginary hunter, all in response to a one-party accident that took place inside a private home.

Perhaps we all tend to idealize the past. I could be wrong but, when I think back to when I was young, decades ago, I have a lot of trouble picturing the American adults I grew up among getting into lathers of this kind and responding to emergencies with so much panic and excessive overreaction in defiance of all the facts.

I do think that if somebody came along and said to Sister Daniel, the principal of St. George School in Shenandoah back in 1960, “Hey! you better lockdown the school. There has been a hunting accident over in Brandonville.”, Sister Daniel would have said, “What are you, some kind of a nut?”

25 Jan 2014

Now Living in My Outhouse

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Eastern Screech owl (Megascops asio).

I noticed that the one remaining door on our unused, and long-neglected, outhouse had become open recently. Yesterday, when returning from running an errand, Karen found the culprit who obviously somehow opened that door. It was a Screech owl, who has evidently taken up residence. Karen managed to grab a photo with her cell phone, and put our new neighbor’s picture up on her own blog.

That outhouse was used once briefly a very long time ago, when a major storm knocked out the power for days and days. No power, no well. No well, no flush toilets in the house. My father, at one point, repaired it and had it in excellent order. But we had not visited the farm for over a decade until recently, and a lot of the outbuildings need repairs and a fresh coat of paint.

02 Dec 2013

Opening Day of Pennsylvania Deer Season

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My father, cigarette butt in mouth, Mauser rifle in hand, poses with a nice buck at his farm in Locust Valley. Very damaged photo is labeled “Nove 1947.”

We’re having a very traditional, cold (low 30s), snow on the ground, opening day of deer season here in Pennsylvania.

It has been possible to hunt deer legally with long bow, crossbow, and muzzle-loaders for varying periods since late September, but today is Pennsylvania’s national holiday: opening day of rifle season for bucks. This morning the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania fields the sixth largest army in the world, some 750,000 rifles, coming in right behind Russia in numbers (though generally better armed).

The Opening Day of Deer Season (first Monday after Thanksgiving) and the Opening Day of Trout Season (the Saturday closest to April 15th) are sacred dates in the Keystone State’s calendar. Just as the Christian Church is traditionally full of lukewarm members who attend Mass only at Christmas and Easter, the sporting community is similarly full of participants who collect guns and tackle and who read Field & Stream, but who actually go afield only on opening day.

Opening Day of Deer Season was a de facto holiday for boys in my high school. We were not officially excused attendance, but everyone knew that at least half of the male population would be missing that Monday, and since boys were skipping school with their father’s blessing, there was nothing officialdom could do about it.

Deer were just beginning to come back to the nearby woodlands when I was a boy. Before WWII, it had been necessary to travel to the deep woods, the tall timber, of the few remaining wilderness fastnesses of the Poconos, of Sullivan or Potter County to find deer. Today, of course, deer are suburban pests, thriving everywhere in the East, and they’ve been joined recently in their return by the black bear and the wild turkey. In New England, moose have been showing up in the suburbs of Connecticut and Rhode Island, and I like to think it’s only a matter of time before we have Woodland Bison again.

Karen and I luxuriously slept in this morning, and we heard no gun shots, though our woods are undoubtedly full of hunters. Looking out at the morning fog brought the memories flowing back. I remembered tossing and turning, eyes closed, but unable really to sleep with the excitement of the upcoming hunt.

I remembered being officially awakened at the unprecedented hour of 3:30 AM; the elaborate preparations, laboriously dressing in countless layers of insulation; the unshaven men brewing the coffee and making baloney sandwiches; then the long-awaited appearance of the totemic hunting rifles, gleaming with fresh gun oil; the distribution of hunting knives, binoculars, flashlights, and aluminum hand-warmers inside which a metallic mesh soaked in lighter fluid smoldered flamelessly away for many hours.

Deer hunting always involved a drive of half an hour to an hour to a special forested location where our relationship with some farmer provided the privilege of hunting access. Deer hunting, the opening day variety, consisted of taking up ambush positions along some pole line or timber road or fire trail which the deer could be expected to cross at first light when they would be returning to the mountain after feeding in the farm fields all night.

We would stumble into the woods by flashlight in the dark, being positioned by the hunting party leader, and then we’d get to stand, shivering, hands in pockets, waiting for daylight, listening for the sound of large animals approaching, for an hour and half or so.

If you were lucky, just as it became light enough to see, you’d hear them coming, and a small group of does, accompanied by a buck lurking behind, would come slowly into view, giving you time to line up your shot. More commonly, you’d hear a tremendous racket while it was still dark and a group of deer you couldn’t really make out would charge past you.

Occasionally, after dawn, you would hear a rifle shot. If you heard a single shot, you would figure that it was 50-50 whether he’d got that deer. If you heard BOOM! followed after a short interval by one more decisive BOOM!, you knew that someone had killed his buck. If you heard BOOM!–BOOM!–BOOM! and BOOM!–BOOM!, you knew your idiot uncle with the pump gun had missed again.

There was a serious chance of a shot at a buck at first light on opening day. We used to joke that all the bucks then assembled at the Trailways Bus Station, and went on vacation to Florida thereafter. What really happened, of course, is that deer in general, and bucks in particular, on finding their woods invaded by armed humans, went totally nocturnal, and took care to pass through pole lines, timber roads, and fire trails while it was still pitch dark. There they snoozed away the daylight hours, deep inside the densest thickets of buck laurel they could find.

You generally had about as good a chance of getting a shot at a buck after the morning of opening day as you did of winning the lottery.

But there was an answer, I discovered a few years along in my hunting career. The answer was, after opening day, to drive deer with the gang from the Brandonville Fire House. It did bucks no good to hide deep the laurels and the greenbriars, if along came a line of hunters spaced 50 feet apart, hollering, stomping, and blowing horns.

I later fell in with an even crazier gang of deer drivers from Aristes who made a practice of driving straight through the roughest country in Northern Schuylkill County. We used to drive right down and straight up the sides of mountains. We’d go right through narrow, untenanted valleys solid with laurel. I was a teenage boy, and consequently always a driver. Standing posted at the end of the drive was a privilege of the old men. So I didn’t get a lot of shooting. But it certainly was a lot of fun.

10 Oct 2013

Where Was I All Day?

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I went looking at property lines with my surveyor on a used Polaris Ranger I recently bought. I couldn’t restart it after I accidentally turned the engine off by throttling down while we were deciding which way to go around an obstacle. We pushed it a little ways, then rolled it down a slope to where my surveyor could walk through a neighbor’s field for assistance. My neighbor drove out and gave us a jump.

We were worried about coming back through the deep woods so we decided to motor down the road to an entrance to my farm that would give us a shorter route back. Thereupon, Ooops! we ran out of gas.

Another neighbor came by with a five-gallon can of gas and the first neighbor jumped our battery again.

We made another half a mile before the battery again completely died. A third neighbor towed the Polaris into his garage with his pickup trick, then gave us a lift home.

There are obvious problems with relying on unfamiliar used vehicles for transportation.

29 Sep 2013

Michaelmas

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Jacob Epstein, The Victory of St. Michael Over the Devil, 1958, St. Michael’s New Cathedral, Coventry

From Robert Chambers, Book of Days, 1864:

Michaelmas Day, the 29th of September, properly named the day of St. Michael and All Angels, is a great festival of the Church of Rome, and also observed as a feast by the Church of England. In England, it is one of the four quarterly terms, or quarter-days, on which rents are paid, and in that and other divisions of the United Kingdom, as well as perhaps in other countries, it is the day on which burgal magistracies and councils are re-elected. The only other remarkable thing connected with the day is a widely prevalent custom of marking it with a goose at dinner.

Michael is regarded in the Christian world as the chief of angels, or archangel. His history is obscure. In Scripture, he is mentioned five times, and always in a warlike character; namely, thrice by Daniel as fighting for the Jewish church against Persia; once by St. Jude as fighting With the devil about the body of Moses; and once by St. John as fighting at the head of his angelic troops against the dragon and his host. Probably, on the hint thus given by St. John the Romish church taught at an early period that Michael was employed, in command of the loyal angels of God, to overthrow and consign to the pit of perdition Lucifer and his rebellious associates—a legend which was at length embalmed in the sublimest poetry by Milton.

Sometimes Michael is represented as the sole arch-angel, sometimes as only the head of a fraternity of archangels, which includes likewise Gabriel, Raphael, and some others. He is usually represented in coat-armour, with a glory round his head, and a dart in his hand, trampling on the fallen Lucifer. He has even been furnished, like the human warriors of the middle ages, with a heraldic ensign—namely, a banner hanging from a cross. We obtain a curious idea of the religious notions of those ages, when we learn that the red velvet-covered buckler worn by Michael in his war with Lucifer used to be shewn in a church in Normandy down to 1607, when the bishop of Avranches at length forbade its being any longer exhibited.

Angels are held by the Church of Rome as capable of interceding for men; wherefore it is that prayers are addressed to them and a festival appointed in their honour. Wheatley, an expositor of the Book of Common Prayer, probably expresses the limited view of the subject which is entertained in the Church of England, when he says, that ‘I the feast of St. Michael and All Angels is observed that the people may know what blessings are derived from the ministry of angels.’

Amongst Catholics, Michael, or, as he has been named, St. Michael, is invoked as ‘a most glorious and warlike prince,’ chief officer of paradise,’ I captain of God’s hosts,’ receiver of souls,’ ‘the vanquisher of evil spirits,’ and ‘the admirable general.’ It may also be remarked, that in the Sarum missal, there is a mass to St. Raphael, as the protector of pilgrims and travellers, and a skilful worker with medicine; likewise an office for the continual intercession of St. Gabriel and all the heavenly militia. Protestant writers trace a connection between the ancient notion of tutelar genii and the Catholic doctrine respecting angels, the one being, they say, ingrafted on the other. …

these notions of presiding angels and saints are what have led to the custom of choosing magistracies on the 29th of September. The history of the middle ages is full of curious illogical relations, and this is one of them. Local rulers were esteemed as in some respects analogous to tutelar angels, in as far as they presided over and protected the people. It was therefore thought proper to choose them on the day of St. Michael and All Angels. The idea must have been extensively prevalent, for the custom of electing magistrates on this day is very extensive,

‘September, when by custom (right divine)
Geese are ordained to bleed at Michael’s shrine’

says Churchill. This is also an ancient practice, and still generally kept up, as the appearance of the stage-coaches on their way to large towns at this season of the year amply testifies. In Blount’s Tenures, it is noted in the tenth year of Edward IV, that John de la Hay was bound to pay to William Barnaby, Lord of Lastres, in the county of Hereford, for a parcel of the demesne lands, one goose fit for the lord’s dinner, on the feast of St. Michael the archangel. Queen Elizabeth is said to have been eating her Michaelmas goose when she received the joyful tidings of the defeat of the Spanish Armada. The custom appears to have originated in a practice among the rural tenantry of bringing a good stubble goose at Michaelmas to the landlord, when paying their rent, with a view to making him lenient. In the poems of George Gascoigne, 1575, is the following passage:

    And when the tenants come to pay their quarter’s rent,
    They bring some fowl at Midsummer, a dish of fish in Lent,
    At Christmas a capon, at Michaelmas a goose,
    And somewhat else at New-year’s tide, for fear their lease fly loose.’

We may suppose that the selection of a goose for a present to the landlord at Michaelmas would be ruled by the bird being then at its perfection, in consequence of the benefit derived from stubble-feeding. It is easy to see how a general custom of having a goose for dinner on Michaelmas Day might arise from the multitude of these presents, as land-lords would of course, in most cases, have a few to spare for their friends. It seems at length to have become a superstition, that eating of goose at Michaelmas insured easy circumstances for the ensuing year. In the British Apollo, 1709, the following piece of dialogue occurs:

    ‘Q: Yet my wife would persuade me (as I am a sinner)
    To have a fat goose on St. Michael for dinner:
    And then all the year round, I pray you would mind it,
    I shall not want money—oh, grant I may find it!
    Now several there are that believe this is true,
    Yet the reason of this is desired from you.

    A: We think you’re so far from the having of more,
    That the price of the goose you have less than before:
    The custom came up from the tenants presenting
    Their landlords with geese, to incline their relenting
    On following payments, &c.’

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Wikipedia
:

In late medieval Christianity, Michael, together with Saint George, became the patron saint of chivalry and is now also considered the patron saint of police officers, paramedics, and the military.

In mid to late 15th century, France was one of only four courts in Western Christendom without an order of knighthood. Later in the 15th century, Jean Molinet glorified the primordial feat of arms of the archangel as “the first deed of knighthood and chivalrous prowess that was ever achieved.” Thus Michael was the natural patron of the first chivalric order of France, the Order of Saint Michael of 1469. In the British honours system, a chivalric order founded in 1818 is also named for these two saints, the Order of St Michael and St George. The Order of Michael the Brave is Romania’s highest military decoration.

Apart from his being a patron of warriors, the sick and the suffering also consider Archangel Michael their patron saint. Based on the legend of his 8th century apparition at Mont-Saint-Michel, France, the Archangel is the patron of mariners in this famous sanctuary. After the evangelisation of Germany, where mountains were often dedicated to pagan gods, Christians placed many mountains under the patronage of the Archangel, and numerous mountain chapels of St. Michael appeared all over Germany. Since the victorious Battle of Lechfeld against the Hungarians in 955, Michael was the patron saint of the Holy Roman Empire and still is the patron saint of modern Germany and other German speaking regions formerly covered by the realm.

He has been the patron saint of Brussels since the Middle Ages. The city of Arkhangelsk in Russia is named for the Archangel. Ukraine and its capital Kiev also consider Michael their patron saint and protector.

An Anglican sisterhood dedicated to Saint Michael under the title of the Community of St Michael and All Angels was founded in 1851. The Congregation of Saint Michael the Archangel (CSMA), also known as the Michaelite Fathers, is a religious order of the Roman Catholic Church founded in 1897.

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The tradition of celebrating the feast day of the warrior angel saint persists in Central Pennsylvania up to today, particularly in Mifflin County, which is holding a Community Goose Day Dinner today at 3:00 at the Brooklyn Firehouse on Main Street in Lewistown.

20 Sep 2013

Porcupined!

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Our dogs had fewer quills above the nose, but more overall.

Our dogs get an outdoors “last call” every evening just before we retire for the night. Last night, shortly after they went out, cries of pain erupted from out of doors. Karen hurried to retrieve the dogs who were found both engaged in close combat with a particularly large, fat porcupine.

The dogs arrived back indoors with mouths and noses loaded with quills. The tazy had a load in his upper mouth and was particularly in pain. The basset hound, despite all the quills, was reluctant to give up the chase and came in grudgingly. Even his chest was loaded with quills.

We are, by no means, unpacked and well organized here at the Pennsylvania farm we have not visited for over a decade. Fortunately, Karen managed to come up with a pair of needle-nosed pliers. We were then handicapped by Presbyopia and limited lighting on the stairs, where we tried pinning down our first victim. It was a struggle de-quilling the basset hound. The most painful quills to remove were those in the mouth and nose, and Cadet put up a surprisingly effective resistance (for a French dog). Finally, we got down to one deeply buried small quill in the lower jaw (which it was impossible to grip) and gave up and turned to work on the tazy.

Poor Uhlan had been up dancing on our bed, bleeding and drooling, and driving in his quills deeper. The struggle was fiercer with Uhlan. There were only two of us, and there was one of him. Moreover, Cadet started returning to his rescue, barking at us for hurting his brother, and intruding into the growing pile of pulled quills littering the stairs. There I was, on the middle landing, trying to pin the tazy’s body against the stone wall with mine, using my hands to try hold his head still, as Karen worked on capturing the quills. There were blood and quills everywhere. He was relatively cooperative about letting us take the quills out of his upper mouth. But when we got down to the last half dozen or so quills, largely concentrated in his nose and lips, he just went wild, shaking his head furiously, squirming out of my wrestling holds, and not in the least cooperating. Cadet also continued to interfere. Uhlan proved to be just too strong for us and, eventually, dogs and humans were all exhausted.

Miraculously though, when Karen began to try calling 24-hour veterinary services, one, just a few miles away in Warriors Mark, quickly returned her call. What do you know? You can get hold of a vet at 11:30 at night in Central Pennsylvania. Uhlan is still unused to cars, so Karen sat holding him in the back seat of the BMW, but Cadet is a veteran automobile traveler and actually has been hankering recently for more rides in the car. Warriors Mark is less than 10 miles away, just over the Bald Eagle Ridge in Sinking Valley.

The vet gave Uhlan good drugs, a sleeping potion followed by a pain-killing opiate. He sank slowly in the West, as the vet tried unsuccessfully to get that last under-the-chin quill out of poor Cadet. It is going to have to work its way out over time. Meanwhile, Cadet will be taking antiseptic medication. Uhlan resisted the drugs, but the second dose did for him. His eyes rolled white, his tongue hung limp, and he lolled there unresisting as the vet (a Polish lady from the same Eastern Pennsylvania Coal Region as myself with a degree from Michigan State) plucked out the remaining quills with a hemostat. Like Cadet, Uhlan had driven one small quill in so deep that it could not be grasped, and he, too, will have to let it work itself out. The vet then gave Uhlan another shot which turned off his sleeping potion, and in just a few minutes he woke back up.

It was a late and gruelling evening for everyone. Karen heroically policed up fallen porcupine quills before letting the dogs ascend the stairs to bed. She even cleaned up most of the blood. We found, when we finally arrived upstairs, that Uhlan had managed to cover Karen’s pillow with drool and blood, while we were working on Cadet.

There was a certain amount of nocturnal wimpering coming out of the dog kennels in the bedroom during the night, and Cadet woke up eventually demanding an outdoor lavatory break, but things were more peaceable over night on the whole than one might have expected. By morning, the dogs actually seemed no worse for wear, though when they came back from their morning run, both dogs took their customary milk bone dog biscuit from my hand very slowly and very carefully. Sore mouths.

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