Monday, May 28, 2012

What Defines Stealing?


I spent the summer of 1964 at Fort Jackson, SC. We trained for a possible transfer to Vietnam.

One payday, the line at the bank for our pay stretched out the door and fifty yards beyond. We all patiently inched closer to the teller waiting to fill our wallets with cash for the weekend. Finally I made it into the building and got to within two persons to get my pay.

The teller, a young officer, began a conversation with a friend behind the counter. The conversation went on and on while we waited. All us peons became increasingly more aggravated. The teller, laughed and carried on, and totally disregarded the line of men waiting to get paid.

Finally my turn came. I was angry, but knew better to keep my mouth shut. After I left the building I found the teller gave my one too many twenty dollar bills. I was mad enough to rejoice and kept the $20.

Did I steal twenty dollars from the government? Yes I did.

I became a Christian during the days when one had to lick a stamp to place it on an envelope to be mailed. Once in a while we received mail with its stamp uncanceled. I tore off the corner of the envelope to save the uncanceled stamp. When I had two or more together, I soaked them in water to remove the stamp from the envelope. After they dried, with a bit of glue-stick, they worked as good as the ones from the post office. One day it hit me hard. "This stamp was purchased to be used once to deliver a piece of mail. I had no right to use a stamp twice!"

Did I steal from the government? Yes I did. And I quit that practice.

Remember when bins full of grapes laid loose in the grocery store? Why do you think they are now displayed separated into bags? Well, I never did, but I have seen many folks snitch a grape or two as they walked by. Thousands of people a day snatching many pounds of grapes! It's plain old stealing!

Now I really want to get down to nitty-gritties.

Recently, the supposed fine, upstanding man that I claim to be, succumbed to a strawberry. While Carol looked for potted flowers at Walmart, I strolled by a row of potted strawberry plants. Lo-and-behold, one plant had a ripe strawberry hanging on the side of the pot, begging to be eaten. . . . So I did.

Did I steal that berry? Or did I just put it out of its misery?  Please let me know.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Trash Becomes Art

The concrete sidewalks in foreign countries are a lot cleaner than here in the US. I'm not talking about litter. I want to point out the thousands of black blobs on our sidewalks around the country.

Those black blobs are, as you know, the result of flicking ones chewed gum. Now I'm sure you don't do that. But millions of slobs do. I'm sure when they spit out their gum, none of them will step into it. But what do they care? They probably threw the wrapper on the sidewalk as well.

I hate it when I step in one of those little buggers and drag the sticky strings along with me. You find people dragging the blobs into restaurants. You see them ground in the foyers and in the facility's carpet.

I'm sure to clean up such muck costs the establishment plenty of money. Of course, it is passed on to your bill.

When in a restaurant, how many times have you reached to move your chair closer to the table and stuck your finger into one of those buggers? I have encountered them under tables and even church pews.

When I was a kid we couldn't afford gum. After coming to this country, I stuck mine behind my ear until I again gave the thing more of a workout.

By now you say, "Get to the point Beisser!" . . . here is my point. Look at this great work of art found in a very interesting city.

I took this picture in Charleston SC. It is very obviously a community effort. Not only an effort not to gum-up the city's sidewalks, but to create beauty while doing it.

This wooden telephone pole is right at an intersection in the town's most visited area, the downtown market. Remember, this is the city where one is not allowed to spit or blow your nose on the sidewalk either. (See a previous post: "The Law Of Local Folks")

A novel idea, don't you think?


Saturday, May 19, 2012

We Don't Smoke The Weed, We Eat It

Elderberries, not exactly a staple when it come to foods, are worth talking about.

You see them along the roadside and in dips where there is more moisture. They are a brittle bush, up to about 12 foot tall.

At this time of year they sport white bunches of blooms.

No, they are not chigger weed. They are the blossoms that later turn to dark blue berries. The old folks made elderberry wine out of them.

When I was a kid we used the berries, while still green, to shoot through our blowguns, also made out of the elderberry bush.  (one of 130 stories in my book)

I know you think of it as a weed, but to me it becomes one of my springtime favorite desserts.

Stay with me now. Don't get grossed out. What you will see here is incredibly delicious.

You dip the blossoms into a pancake batter. Not too thick. Made with all purpose flower and regular milk. Add an egg, a dash of vanilla flavoring and salt to the dough.

You then carefully lower the blossoms into the skillet or pan with hot frying oil. It will sizzle! The temperature should be hot, but not smoking.

While it's turning brown on one side, cut the stems off with a pair of scissors. Then flip over and brown the other side.

With tongs, remove from oil and let drain on paper towels.   --NOW-- comes my best part: sprinkle cinnamon sugar mix all over them.  --FRONT and BACK-- make it good! It'll taste better than any funnel cake you ever had.

DON'T BE A CHICKEN. GIVE IT A TRY!  And let me know.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Heaven On Toast

We all have our favorite toast. Some like it brown, some light. Some like whole wheat, some light bread. As for me, well you know me, I like it all. It's what winds up on top of the toast that counts.

 I'm going to make you drool on how to create heaven on toast.

Start out with some locally grown strawberries.

Then fill a large bowl full of cold water and add a cap full of laundry bleach. Dump the berries in and thoroughly wash them. The chlorine will kill any germs.

Next you need to cap the berries and remove all the soft spots caused by too much recent rain. Also cut away the hard and non-ripe portions so your delight will be pure and bright red throughout.

Now you're ready to mash them with a potato stomper, (google that one). Here is where we deviate from the ordinary. Many recipes will call for lemon juice to add a bit of zing to the taste. I say NO. The best zing you'll get is from added rhubarb.

We got this nice bunch, organically grown with genuine Amish barnyard mulch, from Lancaster County, PA. You can find some as well; it's not hard. Wash the stalks in chlorinated water, then chop, precook, and add to the smashed strawberries.

The rhubarb by itself will make you pucker more than this lama. Try a smidge.

So, here is the clincher. Add 7 cups of sugar to every 4 cups of mashed berry and rhubarb mix, you'll then be ready to turn up the heat.

Bring to a rolling boil. Add a packet of fruit pectin to every 7 to 4 mix. Re-boil, skim the foam, then fill the (sterilized) jars.

Ahhh. . . Heaven in a jar, and crawling deliciously all over the toast.


Saturday, May 12, 2012

My Mother

Here is one of many stories about my mother. She truly saved our lives during those wretched post WWII years.

The beds all had an addition to the regular mattress. It was called a Keilkissen, “Keil” meaning wedge and “Kissen” a pillow or headrest. This wedge-like mattress was put under the pillow end of the bed. It elevated the upper body somewhat. At one time, in my early memory (1945), my sister slept on a mattress and Keilkissen entirely made of tobacco. Mom had, in some way, obtained a bale of dried leaf tobacco. She took the straw out of the crib mattresses and replaced it with tobacco. She then carefully sewed up the tobacco in oilcloth, such as an old table cloth, to keep the smell down. Finally, she re-covered it with the old material. I knew that something was not right because we conducted the tobacco business in secret. Although the Nazis were no longer in power, the fear of them was still in the hearts of people. Stories of brother turning in brother and son betraying father were everywhere. No one really knew what anybody’s political affiliation was. Of course, I did not know such things; all I knew was that I had to keep my mouth shut about the tobacco. It was a product not legally available to the populace as yet; therefore, it travelled only in underground channels as probably many other products of habit did. As it turned out, the tobacco was a life saver. Mom would weigh out small amounts, about five to ten grams, and trade it for a variety of foods. One particular smoker, a chimney sweep by trade, had a great chance to get all kinds of food from customers through bartering for his services. I remember him, black from head to foot, bringing eggs and smoked pork in exchange for a small bag of the desired tobacco. Mom hung the smoked pork, totally black from the smoking process, on a broom handle across the corner of the bedroom, hidden from sight by the corner dresser with its fold-out mirrors on each side. The amount of pork increased as the tobacco decreased. In the summer time the aroma of the meat made us feel very secure and happy. I’m sure Mom sold a lot in larger blocks for money to buy knitting yarn and cloth for sewing.

Feel free to click to get a sampling of the rest of the 130 stories. A Time And Place


Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Legend Of The Dogwood

Legend has it that Jesus was crucified on a cross made of a dogwood tree.

It further goes on to say, that since that time in history the dogwood never again grew tall, or straight enough to make a cross big enough to hang a man.

It is also said that the dogwood blossom is a reminder of the world's most pivotal day in history, Jesus' crucifixion.

When one looks at the blossom, you will find four white petals. Usually two are longer and opposite each other, forming a cross.

At the end of each petal is an indentation which is curled up to signify the excruciating pain of the piercing nails. In the middle of those curled ends is a tinge of red reminding us of the blood spilled. You will also note the stretch marks on the shorter petals showing the stress on the arms of Jesus.

In the center of the cross, or blossom, is the golden crown. The crown fit for the King of kings and LORD of lords.

A legend might be hogwash to some people, but the fact is, "All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made." John 1:3  . . . including the dogwood tree.


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Methane Gas

It has been reported that a lot of the problem with the earth's ozone layer is the result of excessive bovine flatulence.

The world peoples, other than the Hindus, eat a tremendous amount of beef. Is it expedient then for mankind to find an alternative food source? Certainly, all warmblooded creatures basically have the same digestive systems, including us. What meat, or other rich protein source should we then put on our backyard grill?

According to the "Save The Earth" people, the answer is none. No more hotdogs at the ballpark. No more burgers on the grill. All dogs and cats need to become vegetarians as well. Carrots and celery sticks would be the feature items at all the fast food chains.

We would be a healthier people, and the ozone would help slow down the melting of your ice cubes in your tea. Isn't that wonderful? No more UV protection needed in you sunscreen.

This year, I once again did my part on Earth Day. I fixed me a large bowl of pinto beans, decorated with an organically grown chopped onion, I sacrificed the usual country ham in my beans in honor of this holiest of environmentalist's day. I started to savor this treat a little after eight in the evening. I watched a program that showed the mistreatment of chickens. (Poor things they really don't have any rights.) All the while washing down my beans and onions with organically squeezed soy milk.

I started this annual ritual late in the evening, because I'm well aware of my body's reaction to legumes. I didn't want to pollute the sacred day by having contributed to the destruction of the ozone before midnight.

Now, methane gas is flammable. Naturally, a natural source of energy. I can very well see a future of sticking a pressurized bottle of methane into ones vehicle and drive off to work. I can also see each homeowner, with their own septic system, utilizing this natural emission to heat their hot water tank. Why not? It is free. Or we could stick a pipe down to the septic tank and light the gas coming off and have an eternal flame to soothe the ozone gods.

I have heard stories of pining engineers at most universities have personally experimented with the combustibility and potential use of methane. I've heard stories of these tests being performed not in the lab, but by sitting around in their skivvies, playing with matches.

Funny or not, we do need to consider our environment. It is our job to protect and preserve what has been entrusted to us.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Is Someone Trying To Tell Me Something?

We live in a land of plenty. We also live in our own world. By that I mean, we live to ourselves and for ourselves. We only choose the people we want to associate with to create our own world.

Several years ago, around Thanksgiving time, a lady in our church stood up and announced that a local charity group had two dozen food baskets ready to give to needy families. She said to come and see her after church if we knew of a family in need.

I searched my heart, but could not think of anyone in need. I simply did not know any family in need. How sad. In my cute little world there are no poor people. In my selfish little cocoon there are no dire needs. I even get into a mental tirade about that there are no needy people in this great country of plenty. All these so-called needy folks are just a bunch of piglets sucking on the government sow.

What a wretched man I am.

I recently followed an older lady at the meat counter in the grocery store. She had very little in her cart. She kept on picking up small packages of meat, looked at the price and then placed them back in the rack. I saw her later pushing her cart through the isle with no meat in her cart. It wasn't until the woman went around the corner and out of sight, that a strong conviction pulled at my heart and asked, "Why didn't you give the old lady a twenty dollar bill so she could buy herself some meat?" You know what, even after that conviction I didn't search for her in the store to do what the Spirit told me to do.

My wife and I were behind a young couple at the Walmart checkout. They had bought a few groceries and were in the process of paying for them. The cashier patiently waited for the young lady as she dug in her pocketbook for a few more small coins to make the total owed. She dug and dug, having already doled out the last dollar bill. I started to become impatient. Then, she finally found the few pennies, in the bottom of her purse to make the total. Again, after the young couple had pushed their cart out the door, my wife and I looked at each other and both said the same thing, "Why didn't we give them a five or a twenty?" They were obviously broke. I mean broke; without cash.

How many more times will the Lord have to smack us, me, before we learn to love people outside of our circles. To see beyond our own little world that there are people struggling. To see that my plenty that the Lord gave me doesn't flow on its own to someone in need.

Carol and I have seen, and been among abject poverty on other countries. Our willingness to share in those places often includes our last dollar.

Let me tell you this true story.
There is one face of a boy that will never leave my mind. I see that face often in my time alone.

It was in Cusco, Peru. After two weeks in the jungle on a mission to build a church, our group took a break and became tourists. The group was led to an exclusive restaurant for a lavish meal. As we entered the establishment, a boy, about eight years old, stood at the door, looked me straight in the eyes, and pointed at his open mouth. The boy, obviously hungry, knew we were foreigners. He knew we came to get fed. He knew there would be plenty of food eaten and plenty left over. We ate for more than an hour. We listened to local music and singing for more than another hour. All full and smiles, we finally left the restaurant. When I got to the entrance door to get out, there still stood the boy, imploring my eyes to see if I brought him some morsel to eat. I hadn't. I forgot. What a wretched man I am.