Saturday, January 28, 2012

I Don't Believe In Combs

Since I lost my once wavy and luxurious shock of hair many, many moons ago, I can't stand to run a comb through my hair. WHAT HAIR? Getting pretty nigh bald on top, a comb feels like a rake on my head.

I don't know what the draw is, but my grandchildren sure like to mess with my hair. And I let them.

They giggle and play, trying to give me pigtails and other uplifting designs.

Man, I need a hair cut, maybe more than one!

So, I don't use a comb. I simply let the calf lick it in the morning, and if the wind don't kick up it'll stay in place until nap time.


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

How To Get your Kinks Out

I recently bragged about me training our seventeen year old pup a new trick.

Every day at 9pm I cut off his food and water. At around 11pm I'll leash him up and take him for a walk to do his dual business. I use a leash that late at night out of fear he'll wander off and be snatched by our neighborhood coyotes.

After the nightly duties, Mr. "S" is led to his cage. He enters, turns around, sticks his head out the door, and waits for his treat. I, the old fool, hustle all the way to the kitchen, retrieve one of his favorite treats, then boogie all the way back to see him waiting looking cute.

Like I said, I bragged about that, when my friend, very to the point, told me, "You didn't teach the old dog a new trick. He was the one that taught you the trick of getting his treat."

One other thing I should have learned from the old boy, is to stretch more often.

That sounds stupid, but I have had an MRI where the summary of the matter was, "Mr B you need to stretch more often."

I've had a shot into the hip, with no result, only to be told to stretch more often.

I have joined the Y, related my problems, only to be told to stretch more often.

I've spent a mint at the chiropractor, only to be told to stretch more often.

I've gotten numerous massages, only to be told to stretch more often.

Duhhhh.. . .

Our little pooh-bear stretches every time he gets up from the nights sleep, or from a nap. First he stretches his front legs, then his hind legs. No professional told him. How does he know? Maybe I should have consulted him all these years.


Saturday, January 21, 2012

No Need For Batteries

A lot of us remember Christmases of years past when decorating, eating goodies we didn't get during the year, was the highlight of the season.

We also remember when the kids were the only ones who received presents. Mom and Dad just couldn't afford any for themselves.

I venture to say that by this time in January half the Christmas presents the kids received in this country have already been forgotten, or wound up with dead batteries, and now are laying in the corner, or on the floor of the closet.

With the stuff that is peddled to the kids, and bought for the kids, I wonder how much of it helps to challenge and develop the child's brain. The most difficult challenge is to find the hole were the battery goes in.

I love this picture of a couple of kids taking turns riding a cart they built.

I love their ingenuity. The exercise the kids get. "I'll pull you, . . . you pull me."

Every boy needs his own hammer, a box of assorted nails, and a pile of old boards. Throw in some tricycle wheels, or any other kind of wheels, you can keep a couple of boys out of trouble all week.

When my older boys were 12 and 13, I donated to their cause a partial keg of 8d nails I got at a garage sale for $1. Those boys spent an entire summer building a fort in the woods.

Those were the days!

American ingenuity, drive and zeal for achievement is fostered by thinking, planning, trial and error. Not by worrying about self esteem.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Minnows Would Not Eat


This is one of 130 stories out my book "A Time And Place, The Making Of An Immigrant"  Check it out:      A Time And Place

Playing in the stream was fun. Our favorite spot was the one running behind the town’s soccer field. The same creek, just a little upstream, was dammed up to create a good-sized pond that was also the town’s public bathing spot. Part of the pond had a shallow concrete bottom wading pool. This provided a nice area to bring the children to play in the summer. Over the years, the bottom of that level spot had gotten covered with mud. This made for quite some murky water when a bunch of kids got to wallowing in it. Well, it was cooler in the water than sitting in the heat.
 In the branch below were minnows to catch. On occasion you could catch one barehanded by running it into a shallow corner, but most of the time we used a large white handkerchief. We’d hollow out a low spot in the creek, then stretch the cloth out, pinning it to the stream’s bottom with a few rocks on the corners. We then squatted on each side of the branch, hands ready at the water’s edge, waiting quietly and motionless until several minnows came to rest in the hollow spot on the kerchief. With a sudden snap of the corners, we pulled up the cloth. Most of the minnows would dart out, but often we caught one or two. The prized catch was quickly added to the jar filled with water. 
At full speed, we then carried our cache uptown where my friend had a bathtub in his house. We filled the tub half full of water and then dumped our catch in it. Now time came to hunt for food for those fish. If we were to see them grow to any edible size, we had to feed them. Well, down to the branch we went again to catch some morsels in the fish’s natural habitat. Worms, snails, bugs, flies, grasshoppers, and leeches were good to start with. The leeches were kind of hard to get. They were stuck on slippery algae under the water that ran over the dam. Those critters were kind of orange-red with a jagged sucking cup on the end of them. They would rather quickly stick themselves to your body if you let them. Well, the food we gathered for the minnows was enough to grow some good sized fish. All we had to do was dump the jar full of creepy things into the bathtub. 
While the project was still on our minds, we’d check on the minnows before the day was done. But after a few days, we found that most of the food had died in the tub or merely crawled out to greener pastures. A week or so later the report was that the minnows also had croaked. This gets me to wondering, with my now Americanized brain, why did that family have a tub when no one used it for over a week? As to the extent of our own washing, most days Mom just washed us with a coarse rag swiftly around the face and behind the ears. We had to wash our feet with a cursory inspection by Mom to make sure the rust was washed off.


Early January Blooms

When you look at the thick ice on the pond in Floyd County, (first week in 2012)

It is hard to believe the difference in elevation. When you drop 2,000 feet to Bedford County you get the first blossoms of the year.

Actually, this Winter Jasmine started to bloom in December. They grow profusely during the year, much like forsythia. They sure are a bright greeting when we drive into our driveway.

Below is the Red Flowering Quince bush.

It grows like crazy in all directions. Up to 15 feet tall. It has mean thorns, But it is sure 'purdy' when in full bloom.

This quince is usually a little earlier than the forsythia. If the weather takes another turn on the warm side, a lot of things are going to be blooming early. Our tulips are up. So are the daffodils and day lilies.

Always something to rejoice about. . . . God is good!


Monday, January 16, 2012

How To Harvest A Bunch Of Bananas


Not every kid grows up to get to cut down a banana tree; at least not in Germany. On a mission trip to Uganda, Africa, the innkeeper, at the place we called home for two weeks, let me do just that.

He handed me a long butcher knife and said follow me. He told me to reach as high as I could, take that twelve inch blade and cut a V into the tree. A banana tree is hollow, like a tall, fat and juicy cornstalk. By sawing with the knife, both from the left and the right side, I made the two cuts meet, about a foot down, in the middle of the tree.

With the tree leaning toward me, it slowly eased its fruit bunch over and, in this case, settled on the clothes line. 

The back half of the tree, which was not cut, became the hinge that gently let the harvest drop. 

After the harvest, the banana tree is cut down to ground level. It will sprout new shoots of which only one is let to grow. Each banana tree yields a bunch in about a two year's time. 

Now you have it. That and fifty cents will get me a senior cup of coffee!


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Hey, It's Your Attitude!

I don't mean a attitude of being snooty and looking down on someone. What I'm going to say is more of a mindset, a way to control things we have to live with.

Why do we have a short fuse? Most of the time it is because things are not being done our way.

It always amazes me if I let go of my natural desire to have it my way, and turn toward a compromise, things turn for the better. One instance I distinctly remember. I was sound asleep when I was awakened by a dog barking outside our bedroom window. My first instinct was to holler or shoot off my gun to scare the bugger away. Then, for some reason I decided to accept the barking. I visualized a cute young pup on a midnight adventure, encountering a possum. I said to myself, "He is doing what comes natural. He'll make someone a good watchdog. He'll quit before long. I wouldn't mind having a dog like that myself." Before finishing these pleasant thoughts I was back asleep.

Not long ago we had to spend a night at a motel. When we turned the noisy room heater off, I found myself lying awake, bothered by the constant hum and roars of the truck and car traffic outdoors. I had a choice, turn the room heater back on, or, as I finally decided, to imagine the wind roaring through the pines around our cabin. In no time I was asleep.

Did you ever say to yourself, "I could not live next to these railroad tracks with freight trains rumbling by all night long." . . .  Well, people do. And if you ask them, they don't even hear those trains any longer. They have made an attitude adjustment.

If your husband or wife snores, you can lay there and get more and more aggravated. You can consider jeopardizing your marriage and move to the spare bedroom. You can shove him or her into a new position hoping the brief reprieve would let you get back to sleep; only to be awakened again into an even more intense fit when the snoring repeats.  . . . Now, you can change your attitude and ask yourself how would you like to sleep without your soulmate next to you? What if he or she has past on to be with the Lord? Are you then glad that you finally have your peace. Certainly not. You will never know how much a mate is missed until you, yourself, lay at night, alone, in deathly quiet. No hope to hear him or her again. If your mate snores, follow the rhythm, learn to breath in rhythm. Enjoy the fact he is resting well. Think happy. "Poor guy, I know he is tired. I love that old buzzard." . . .  You too will fall asleep.  . . . You have managed your attitude.

People get divorced because of a lesser infringements, such as:

"You didn't put the toilet seat back down, . . . AGAIN!"

"Why do you keep squeezing the toothpaste near the front? . . . YOU KNOW THAT DRIVES ME CRAZY!"

"Don't you know how to hang the toilet paper? . . . WHY CAN'T YOU LISTEN?"

Attitude, attitude. Only if you love someone more than yourself will you have peace.


Monday, January 9, 2012

My Partner In Crime

Don't you all wish you had a child that wasn't a picky eater?

Well, in my day, Mother didn't let me leave the table until I ate what SHE put on my plate. And, by the way, Mother NEVER used the words, "What would you like?" We had no choice, not that there were many.

Now, when MR. "S" came along,

he became my buddy in crime. In the crime of eating everything that is strange and smells a bit out of the ordinary. At seventeen years old, he can't see or hear much any longer, but lo, he can SMELL. That little 14 pound rag-muffin can smell when I peel an orange, bite into a carrot, or open a can of sardines. Sardine juice, whether in oil, mustard sauce or Luisiana hot sauce, it doesn't matter; he is my pal!

He and I are much alike. He would eat a skunk's hind-end if it was fried-up right.

So, when the outdated Limburger cheese started to overwhelm the refrigerator with its highly attractive aroma, it was time to partake. "S" and I had overstayed our welcome as far as the smell in the frig goes. He was ready for action the minute I exposed the delicacy to the room.

Homemade bread, with a thick schmeer of the cheese on it, covered with a slice of raw onion, what could be better? A dream come true!

I rubbed a bit of cheese around the plate for him to lick, so my buddy wouln't be mad at me.


Friday, January 6, 2012

No Mud In The House Please


No Mud In The House Please!
My wife and I have been privileged to be on several mission trips to three different continents.
In the Amazon Basin of Peru, there are no rocks. The water table comes to within a foot of ground level. To get water, just dig a hole and watch it fill up. (Do not drink it).

With no rocks or gravel anywhere, you get this and worse most of the year.

In order to mix concrete for the floor of the church we were constructing, we needed gravel. The local missionary was savvy enough to realize the potential of a busted-up old sidewalk from a city project. He had the chunks trucked to within 1/2 mile of the job site. From there the locals carried each chunk to where they eventually became gravel, later to be mixed into concrete for the floor. 

The men first busted the chunks into fist-size pieces. The next man broke those pieces up to gravel size.

On the other side of the world a similar story. In Uganda there are plenty of rocks, but no gravel. At least not for the poor to have delivered and spread on the mud trails that lead to and from the mud huts.
I took this picture of the local gravel pit. All it is is an exposed rock bank along the road. If you look close, you can see several piles of gravel. Those piles are the result of a person chipping, with chisel and hammer, from the solid granite bank. Each pile is owned by the person doing the work. I dare say not one pebble is stolen from the neighbor’s pile.

It makes my heart ache to think about such a life. On the other hand, maybe we are the ones  to be pitied. 

We run, run, run. We worry about germs and calories. We insure everything we got; our house, our jewelry, our cars, our boat, our cows, our health, our life. Sad, sad. What for? Isn’t the Lord in charge? While living in this country is a great blessing, it could also be our undoing. 
“Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven where moth and rust does not corrupt.”


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

SACK TIME, and I don't mean sleep.

Since 2003, Carol and I treat our grandchildren to Sack Time on Christmas Eve.

You know, we have 12 grandchildren. Buying presents is fun, but wrapping all is a chore.

The sacks are pillow cases with each child's name on it. After the traditional Christmas Eve meal, and at the command "go", the kids dive into their sacks. You have never seen a neat looking house be turned into a path of a hurricane in less than five minutes. You should hear the whooping and screeching and giggling and oohs and aahs.

Back when some of the young'ns were two and three years old, they actually disappeared into their sack, digging for treasures.

Each year the kids have a count-down as to how many days are left till 'Sack Time'.

Keeping track of 12 children's gifts can be a nightmare. But, with the sack ready, Carol just pitches the doodads, from pickles to cream soda, toys to posters, beef jerky to tools, boots to funky sox, nail polish to smelly stuff.  –– On and on, all into the ready sacks until that magic night.

Of course, we have batteries ready, so everything can be tried out.