Monday, May 27, 2013
On Sunday morning of this Memorial Day Weekend, 2013, we were honored to witness something very special. A decorated Colonel in the United States Marine Corps offered his blessing over one of our own church members, our pastor's youngest daughter, who is leaving soon to join an elite group of men and women at the Marine Officers' Candidate School in Virginia. I know that she is well-prepared for this, perhaps the greatest challenge in her life. Brought up with proper discipline and belief in Jesus's unconditional love to keep her steady, she has for many years shared a special gift of music and faith with us. She is not afraid to use her hands (enemy combatants be forewarned!) as she leads us in worship, strumming the guitar and our hearts with her fingers, singing every Sunday, barefoot in the presence of God.
May God bless her and keep this wonderful country, the United States of America, safe and free, forever and ever. Semper fidelis. Amen.
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
I know that pictures usually tell the story on this blog, but this time I will let the words do it. And there's not a word of truth in them, or at least I hope there's not...
Land of Milk and Honey Again
To say or to sing “this land is your land, this land is my land” would now land you in trouble with the law—or rather, with the ones who make and manipulate the law. Do you think I’m kidding? They outnumber ordinary citizens 3 to 1. This land is their land. They control everything and everyone under the guise of justice, but there is no justice, no true government, nothing but perpetual court and lawsuits. Folks don’t work anymore because there is no place to work. Every productive industry has been shut down and shuttered. People have to grow their own food or steal it from someone else; it’s that bad now. How did this great country of ours, LOMAHA, end up in this predicament? Sadly, I have to lay the blame at the feet of my grandfather, God rest his soul, because he was the farmer who kicked the bucket, which started the un-tar-ball rolling, so to speak. He was fifth-generation owner of Golden Calf and Honeybee Farms. I would be seventh-generation owner if not for the day that Dazey the cow sprung a leak.
The day it happened started like any other day. It was springtime. There were devastating tornadoes in the news, gun control legislation was being hotly debated in Congress, and life on the farm was increasing exponentially. Twin calves had been born the night before, and the night before that, my mom had given birth to me and my twin sister. Grandmother was not at home with Grandfather. She was with us, watching over the nurses in the county hospital to make sure they did not screw up anything. One of her grandchildren had already died two years earlier in that hospital from “complications at birth,” and she was making damn sure that did not happen again. The nurses were not happy about her constant surveillance of the nursery through the viewing window, but there was nothing they could do about it. Nothing in the new healthcare law prevented constant family observation, at least not yet.
Meanwhile, back at the farm, Grandfather had stayed up all night with Dazey, his oldest heifer, to help her through a difficult birth. He had cleaned up as best he could with a garden hose and was driving his ATV back to the house for breakfast he would have to whip up for himself when he heard Dazey bellowing. It sounded like all hell was breaking loose in the barn. Before he could open the latch on the barn door, a mother-lode of milk burst through and knocked the door down on top of poor Grandfather. He was crushed by the weight of the door and all that milk, flattened like one of Grandmother’s Pfannkuchen. He laid there for at least 24 hours while Dazey’s milk continued to flow over and beyond him.
Old man Hodges who had a farm about two miles away was the first one to notice a stream of white stuff filling the ruts in the dirt road that fronted his property. As the stream became a river, he decided to call the police. By then, the river had picked up its pace and began spilling over its rut-banks to cover greening fields of winter rye and wheat, its powerful current uprooting everything in its path, including a two-acre patch of strawberries. Most of the milk eventually found its way to Lake Sosuemee, a good five miles downstream of Grandfather’s farm. Weeks later, folks were saying that the lake was nothing more than a soggy cereal bowl, what with all that wheat, rye, and fruit bobbing about on its sour-rotten-smelling-by-then surface. When the smell got really bad, they started chanting, jokingly at first and then seriously, “Let’s Get Mikey!” in front of television news cameras. Only they were not interested in trying Life™ cereal. They were interested in trying to pry open Grandfather's (whose name happened to sound like Mikey) estate in court. Suddenly, everyone wanted to know how much he was worth. He had owned a “Golden Calf,” after all. It was the one that continued to flow milk day after day after day, while webcams captured the whole thing in real-time, and people around the world could watch it via the Internet.
Experts were brought in to discuss how to cap it, and soon afterwards, activists arrived by the busload to protest the cruel treatment of animals on farms everywhere. The activists tried to enlist the help of some famous talking swine named Snowball, but he was tied up in litigation over movie rights to some book he had written, a sequel to the first one written nearly 68 years earlier without his permission. Not that he really minded the original text, of course. He was perhaps more famous and wealthier than any other pig in history. He certainly could not spare the time to help a cow. With all of the now-unwanted attention focused on them, the experts realized that things would have to be handled delicately. No nipple clamping, as they first proposed, would be allowed. And Dazey could not be put down (gassed) as some of them had suggested.
Meanwhile, back at the farm, Grandmother was fuming over the whole thing. She could not give her husband a decent burial because his body was being held by the government for investigation. Besides, no funeral home would touch it with a ten-foot pole, sour milk smell notwithstanding. There were rumors floating about in cyberspace that he had planned the whole thing as a home-grown terrorist plot. “#SpilledMilkforMoney,” they, the blogging, tweeting rumor-mongers called it. He must have been planning to control the dairy market by flooding it with easy milk, making the alternative-dairy market (soy, almond, coconut…) unprofitable and unsustainable. If successful, he might have been able to bring the whole thing crashing down, but he got his just desserts. CREAMED BY A BARN DOOR!—was splashed all over the news in print, the networks and the cable news. Now, in the wake of all that milk and these rumors, the door itself was being held as evidence.
Grandmother had to leave the farm because of the media circus. She went to stay with my parents in town and tried to help mom take care of sis and me. One day as she was taking us, the babies, for a walk in our stroller, the media people surrounded her and bombarded her with questions. She was so startled that she blurted out something about needing a vacation from it all. The news people pounced on that and suggested that she would soon be taking a luxury cruise with her newfound milk wealth. The next thing she knew, newspaper and Internet-newsfeed headlines were screaming: OWNER OF GOLDEN CALF AND HONEYBEE FARMS NOW LA LECHE-ROUS GRANDMA.
Of course, the child protection people would not let mom and dad leave us kids alone with her anymore. She disappeared one night while everyone else was asleep, taking only a clean pair of underwear, her toothbrush, and a picture of her holding sis and me the day we were born, the day before Grandfather died, the day before the beginning of the end of LOMAHA—Land of Milk and Honey Again. Oh, I bet you’re probably wondering about the honey. The bees were already disappearing at an alarming rate due to Colony Collapse Disorder. Most of the hives on Grandfather’s farm were empty by the time Dazey’s infamous spill happened. The investigative reporters who thought they should follow the honey-money did find that at least a dozen of the hives that had been active with bees were missing about the time Grandmother disappeared. After all, she was the family beekeeper.
Grandmother, if you’re out there somewhere, I hope you and your bees are okay. We need you and them more than ever. As mom said you were ever fond of saying, “this LOMAHA really has gone to hell in a hand-basket!”
Saturday, May 18, 2013
|From Wikipedia: Mars in a Garden , from a wall found at Pompeii|
Cliff's Organic Wonder Soil as a growing medium, the plants have been performing wonderfully, as expected. Am I crazy for putting so much confidence in dirt? Call it Mars Madness.
I was confident enough in Cliff's soil to purchase a very expensive tomato plant at a nearby nursery. You would cringe if I told you how much it cost. We'll just say that it probably cost more than I paid for a whole bushel of tomatoes a few years ago. If you think I'm foolish, then blame it on Mars. He's not afraid of anything, so why should I be?
|First tomato on Grafted Early Girl tomato plant, 5-18-13|
Here is the first fruit of that Early Girl. Pretty, ain't she? Pay no attention to the hair on her legs. She's not old enough to shave yet.
I did not pay too much for some pepper plants, which were purchased at one of the big box stores. This one is a red-hot cherry pepper. Only two plants were bought and planted because a little goes a long way with hot peppers. SAM is not overly fond of spicy food, so I may end up giving away quite a few of these peppers.
|Mixed romaine lettuce grown from seed, 5-2013|
Flame(n) Martialis. It does look rather priestly. You can imagine it brandishing its spears (stamens) to ward off any potential enemies of the garden veggies--garden-guardianship at its best.
|Mars, the NOID, bob-tail cat|
Speaking of garden-guardians, a kitty that's been hanging around our garden for several weeks has a new name--Mars. It's a NOID, bob-tail cat that seems rather sad and waits patiently to be fed twice a day now. At first, he (at least I think it's a he--I haven't been allowed to lift up his bob-tail to make sure) would only come around once or twice a week. We're thinking that someone nearby moved away and left him to fend for himself. He's welcome here anyway. We can use all the help we can get with guarding the garden.
Tuesday, May 14, 2013
"A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands;
How could I answer the child?....I do not know what it is any more than
he..." (from Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass, 1855)
I walk along the beach and smell the salt air
While Midwest soil
Makes my heart-sack boil--
With longing for wronging to bare?...
It may be that I've waited too long to write about a recent turf-grass field trip to WFREC in Jay. I think the simple words that were forming about my impressions got lost somewhere along the road to Illinois and then back again to Florida.
I wanted to write something easy to read, something "out of hopeful green stuff woven," but the checkerboard plots of different grasses being trialed remind me of people I have known and will know.
They grow. They struggle. They reach for light while their stolon-like efforts at reaching out to the world get stifled. Trouble comes along. Sickness, pain, soul-drought, attacks, and setbacks follow. Weeds take over. Truth rings hollow--no longer filtered by a healthy root system. It washes away and takes nutrient-rich, toiled-for soil with it.
Nearby streams will grow turbid with dreams of a better life washed away in a flash flood of dashed expectations.
Then, something hopeful happens. Someone comes along and tends the leanness, the meanness of the soil. It is amended. Healing earthworms move in, leaving their castings behind them, cleaning the wounded, bruised, and battered dirt.
And the grass grows and grows and grows, making rich the soil again, supporting trees and life and filtering. Truth again.
"I guess it is the handkerchief of the Lord,
A scented gift and remembrancer designedly dropped,
Bearing the owner's name someway in the corners, that we may see and
Remark, and say Whose?" (Leaves of Grass)