Saturday, July 20, 2013

Racial Problems


            The conversations continue---as they should. It is the anger, the hatred, the violence, that should end. Discussion is going on across the land(s), everyone weighing in with their opinions and judgments. Some who agree with the verdict, others unhappy. Discussion on how this trial went this way white other incidents of like manner did not. Many across the land calling out for a changing of the laws. Many saying that it was the laws in place that worked. The disagreements are plentiful, the anger, the pain, is obvious. People are speaking out, from the ordinary citizen all the way up to the President, Most claiming the same thing, racial bias. Sadly, the scales of equality are never level, on either side. Violence is not going to make it so.

Violence on begets violence. That does not bring about true and just change. That does not bring about a healthy and equal way of life. That merely brings out anger and actions of revenge retribution. Ignoring the problem of inequality..and I do see it as a problem..only allows it to grow and fester. Creating the opportunity for violent acts to happen time and time again. Discussing it over the water cooler, holding long interviews and reports on the media and social networks brings it to the front of attention, but talk is just that- talk. And talk without action, is not much more than useless.

         Racial problems are not going away until we lose that mindset of distrust and ignorance. The problems will not go away until we educate ourselves on the ways of others so that we can better understand each other. We, the people, need to do this. We need to stop demanding change from the government officials that we have placed in office and make these changes and improvements ourselves. To give them the power and right to burden us with more laws and restrictions is not the answer. It will never be a fix that will make everyone happy, someone- somewhere will not like what they come up with and again the anger and dissatisfaction will appear.

         Racial problems are not going to go away until we change and discard those feelings of entitlement that we carry around with us. Our race, our age, our gender, our religion, our what-ever, entitles us to no special treatments and perks. Citizens of this country -by our Constitution- have rights that are spelled out within its words and amendments. Too many are seeking change, too many are interpreting the words in ways that twist and confuse. Even our Constitution, as good as it is, it not a writ of entitlement to special favors. In past decades those immigrating to this great country accepted the American way of life, learning the laws of the land, conforming to the American way not expecting the Country to change for them, but for them to change (even as they remembered their ancestry) for their new home. In the past, there was no easy pass. The new jumped in and found ways to create and enjoy their new life. Yes, even then there was distrust and racial bias due to ignorance. Proving that this is not a new problem. When the white man first came to this country our ignorance, our distrust, our greed destroyed the way of life for the Native Americans- even as they too fought among themselves- that is how long this has gone on here. Through-out the history of humanity, we have fought amongst ourselves. One group always thinking themselves better than and above another. One group always seeking dominance.

     Racial problems are not going to go away as long as we have groups of people feeding it. When we have groups living on hatred, thriving on anger we will have problems. Standing on street corners, standing in public forums of any sort and calling for violence, will not fix the problem. Riots, marches and looting will not solve the problem. Attacking each other in any form, will not solve the problem. It will call attention to it, but it will not fix it. It will in fact, only bring about more anger, creating more problems. When one side attacks another for a perceived injustice it  creates a never ending cycle of violence. The stink of violence, the ugliness of hatred, creates an atmosphere of despair that effects us all. Sadly, the darker side of man feeds on that despair. Using it for their own purposes.

   Racial problems are not going to go away, as long as we refuse to recognize and hear the other side. As long as we stand cemented in our beliefs, ignorance and intolerance. I am not saying that everyone should immediately accept everything as right and just. I am not saying that because this religion accepts this treatment of certain people then it is an acceptable practice for all. That because this nationality sees breaking certain laws as just, that we should turn a blind eye. Pain, mistreatment, lawlessness, true injustice should never be tolerated. How does one stand true to their moral beliefs, when their moral beliefs, when their interpretation of laws differ?  The United States Declaration of Independence states "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness." Man-and woman-, no matter their race, created equal. Created to walk side by side, working, living, laughing equally.  Not expecting special treatment, not expecting not accepting special treatment- working together to create something special. To build up a great land, not destroy it from within by petty jealousies and ignorance. Not tearing down by expecting others to do the work while they sit and watch. To work together in harmony to create a land where trust and hope thrive. Where honesty and compassion lead, instead of seeking the darkness and violence. Hatred and intolerance are easy emotions to feel, love and acceptance take work. many of us have become lazy.

  Sad thing is, racial problems are never going to go away. We blame the violence on guns, on video games, on immigrants, on movies, on any variety of things. We blame the violence on anything and everything but where it truly lies.  Humanity is never going to form a balance where everyone sees eye to eye on everything. As long as there is one thing that people disagree on, there is going to be someone who cries out that it is an injustice. There is always going to be someone who reacts in fear and anger. There is always going to be someone that seeks to use and abuse others. Laws are meant for others. The human body, an amazing creation, is strong when treated well. When one introduces drugs and other unhealthy substances to their body it becomes weak, addicted, craving the bad which then leads the body to do what ever it can to get that substance, even if it is illegal. There is always going to be those who seek power, that power can and often does corrupt when means that man will abuse those he perceives to be beneath him. There is always going to be someone who sees others as less important therefore disposable. Unless we can change our mindset, unless we can rid ourselves of the fear and ignorance, until we can rid our heart of the sin of hate, unless and until we can see each other as equal, to find the compassion and God-given love that we are meant to have, injustices of any type are never going away. Racial problems, are a cancer of community, eating away at our humanity. Until we seek the cure for it as we seek the cure and prevention of cancer of the body- it will thrive and destroy.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

He had a dream, in the years since, what have we done to it?

where are we on the road to reality?

    Martin Luther King in a well known speech said, "I have a dream..............." His dream was for equality. His dream was for peace. What are we as a nation, no matter our color, no matter our race, no matter our education or social status, what are we doing to this dream?                           This morning I wrote a piece on some of what I am seeing and hearing about going on around us. I've been reading commentaries and the comments afterward on what people think of the trail and verdict. While I know, there is no need to clarify but I will. I am talking about the George Zimmerman/ Trayvon Martin trial in Florida.
 My thoughts on the trial itself are not what I intent to focus on with this writing. I will say that the killing of Trayvon should not have happened just like any other non-war related killing- and many of even those-- should not have happened. It would not have happened if George Zimmerman had remained in his vehicle. But he didn't. We will never know all of what happened that night. I fear that the facts have been so twisted out of shape that the whole truth is now unknown to anyone here on this earth. We can only listen to the newscasters, and the conversations around us along with reading the multitude of writings in the newspapers, magazines and in the many comments and online blogs. The one thing that I am seeing more than truth, is anger. Truth-all- truth, has been trampled. We have been fed in bits and pieces what they wanted us to have, and many have readily swallowed it creating the problems that are showing up all across this country.

     Martin Luther King had a dream. Yes, I realize that in his speech he was talking to a black audience. Can we not- all of us- take this speech and the words he spoke to heart? In this same speech he spoke of love, of brotherhood, of white and black children walking hand in hand. Many of our children have that. It is only after listening to the voices around them that they lose the innocence and trust and being to feel, speak and act in a racially biased way. Children do not know hate, mistrust, prejudice.. it is something they have to be taught. Our children are being taught by our very actions and words. You can not love and hate at the same time. Our children, the young people of this time, they are the future. To teach them as we have been, is not only wrong, it is unfair to them. I have gotten to the point where I often wonder, who it is among us that is the most mature when it comes to race relations. I believe that we could take lessons from our own children.

 Time has a way of healing wounds, of teaching lessons, to those who will accept. Time has a way of allowing for change, if we make the move and don't allow the chance to get away. To get change, we have to create it. We have to take the time to hunt it down and own it. To do that, we have to stop and look around. Does blocking highways, looting stores, doing physical harm to innocents really work toward the goal of equality and a better society all around? Or is it merely a sign of anarchy?  Many of the posts that I have read the writers have great skill in their writing, in their thought process and getting that thought down so that it is easily understood. Our greatest of oratory commentators seem bent on creating more anger and division. Instead of using their talent to bring about peace and the desire to work toward the realization of a dream. They are verbally and through their prose being as destructive as those gathering in mass and marching down the streets of cities and towns looking for something or someone to take their anger out on. Don't take it out on the innocent. Use the emotions that are running high to create something good. Something worth while, something that will in the future help to prevent the death of another young man, no matter the color of their skin.

Martin Luther King had a dream, a good dream, a very worth while dream. But, then in the sixties and now in 2013 it is still a dream. For every step we take forward, there are many who seem hell bent and determined to shove us back. At times, we do it to ourselves. How can we work toward bringing a dream into a reality? Not by marching and shouting threats. Not by going onto the many social medias and trashing each other. We make changes by  hard work and determination. We take the time to educate ourselves, support the schools and help the educators by understanding the importance and working to make it better. Teaching our kids that there are certain ways of behaving in public. There are ways of behaving in school. There is something called respect and how to show it. Respect is something that should be shown to others right up until they show they are not worthy of it. Respect for ourselves and treating ourselves with respect. Realizing that it is better to work hard for what we have, to work toward the goal that we hold treasured in our heart and not sit and expect it to be handed it us. Jobs are difficult if not impossible to find, the determined who cannot find employment, create their own. You don't have to rob your neighbor or the person on the street to survive. You don't have to sell drugs or join gangs.  There are people all around who have taken the step to create their own jobs, landscaping, house cleaning, setting up sites online to sell crafts or services they offer. This land was built on the backs of hardworking people who believed in this country. People who knew and understood that to survive and grow they had to work together. If we are to get past this, if we are to honor a teenager lost to violence- no matter who was at fault. If we are to honor the many hundreds who are killed daily across this country then we have to learn to stand strong. Not blindly follow the misinformation that is being fed to us. Not accepting the bits and pieces as whole.

Martin Luther King had a dream. It is still possible, it is not unreachable. But we have to get past the anger and lack of trust. We have to stop with the name calling and hatred. We have to stand up tall and strong and declare, Do not know me by what you see on the outside, take time to know me by who I am inside, by my heart, my faith, my love, my inner most person. Know me by the things I do to improve the circumstances around us. We have to be more, be better than the thugs and gangster wannabe's, we have to take pride in ourselves and humanity. We have to grow up and understand that life is not fair, it is not easy, it is not always going to go the way we want it to go. We have to grow up, now if we ever want to see a dream, become a reality.

Divisive by Design..

Good morning all. As in mornings past I was sitting here enjoying that first cup of coffee, watching the day brighten outside my window and surfing the web. News, information, photographs and more all waiting to be read, viewed and absorbed. Through it all, emotions are strong. Not all of it good. We have and are allowing the media to direct us and feed upon our divisiveness.
Yes, a wrong has been done. A young man is dead, another man's life in ruins because of his actions. We do not know all the facts, we know what we have been fed. Whether or not I think justice was served is not the point of this status. We are right in being concerned over a young man's death, but, we should be just as concerned over ALL of the deaths, not just this one. Those that are in the news for one day or for several then fade away. The young and the not as young. The children who are grabbed from front yards by strangers and the children who vanish along with non-custodial parents. The young and the not so young that die by the hands of anyone.
We need to be concerned over the deaths of those who find themselves involved in things from the dark side. Drug deals gone bad, robberies of any sort, disagreements whose only way of solving is through violence because we no longer understand any other way.
We need to be concerned over the deaths of convenience.
We are allowing the media and the many social networks set up to allow us to vent our venom on and about those we do not understand. Those who are different. We are allowing the mass media to divide us even more. I know and understand that there are differences among us.
Southern is not northern nor western. Each have their different manners and ways of doing things. Among them all there are the intelligent and the not so intelligent. I have read the comments from both sides. Each side has their compassionate and their heartless. All sides have those who are racist, who have beliefs, ideas and opinions that are set in stone and nothing will sway them. Cruelty is universal. We have become a people so ready to jump and scream about injustice and racism, about inequality and phobias, about all of what we see as bad. Ready to jump and scream but not so ready to roll up our sleeves and open our hearts and work toward a better understanding among the different.
We need to stop screaming and insulting each other and start trying to improve and make better. Riots and marches get momentary attention, but then it fades and what has been accomplished? Insulting your neighbor who is of a different nationality, educational level, religion..etc.. possibly gives you a momentary satisfaction, but what about five minutes later? What have you accomplished? What have you made better?
Would that not be there better justice for a young person's death? That in the end, we come to a better understanding, that we come together better as a people? That we no longer see color, clothing, nationalities- we see humanity and work to make it better, stronger, more unified?

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Reminder of Promises, the Light in the Darkness

                      I say a lot online. Maybe I share too much at times. But as much as I have said about my personal battle with cancer and how I know it could have been much worse. How I know that God was with me every step of the way and that there was a purpose for the battle, there are things that I tend to keep quiet. Some things I hint about or only mention parts of, for reasons of my own. Then there is the one thing that I don't mention at all. Oh some of my posts may have given it away to some that are aware of the signs and understand recognizing them for what they are. Yet not saying anything, waiting for me to bring it up first. Others just take the posts at face value and move on. Which is fine.  
                   I do not like feeling weak. This makes me feel weak.
                   In 2008 I was diagnosed with and underwent treatments for breast cancer. It was a physical enemy with physical and medical ways to fight it. I knew too that I was not battling it alone. As I said, God was with me, as was my family and friends. I have a mammogram every year and every year they come back clean and clear. What I have is the memory and knowledge of what I went through and how blessed I am to be able to sit here and write about it or to talk about it with others.

                 This other though...this other makes me a bit crazy. Not my usual crazy where I crack jokes that a lot of people don't understand due to my weird sense of humor. (Thanks Dad- love you) Due to that, my immaturity and my social ineptness, I was not one of the most popular kids in school. Living out here in the sticks away from everyone didn't help much. It got lonely..but you deal with it. I have made some mistakes in my life that I'm not proud of, but I know I'm forgiven for. Even though I know that I'm forgiven, I don't mingle with a lot of people because of the fear that a comment may be made, a judgement or even a sideways glance letting me know that they remember (yes, I have gotten one or two of those). So instead of joining I go home..and wish and sink. I know my limitations...even if they are only the ones made up in my head because of my fears..and I sink.
         Yeah, sink. I've been battling depression. I don't go sit in a dark room and cry. I have held a pity party or two and those are no fun. People don't have time or desire to join in on something like that and I don't blame them. I don't want to do it either. But I have. I sit and feel like a failure. I sit and feel like a loser. I sit and wonder why no one wants to sit with me during breaks at work or call me asking if I want to go do something. I miss my husband who is gone almost all the time but I can't tell him because he gets angry-- not at me-- but at the fact that this is the only job that he could find that would accept him without that High School diploma. And it keeps him away all the time. He misses being here and I know that. Neither of us are making a lot of money and are still dealing with bills that were formed when I was in my medical battle and when he was out of work at the same time.  There are things that I want to do, but feeling the loner, failure, I don't. Which then makes me feel worse.
           Today, maybe in part because of all the rain I was really feeling bad. I felt at loose ends, drifting with no purpose. The darkness was really bad. So I posted a comment online, grabbed my cameras and hit the woods. Many of you know, I grew up on this road, in this very house. I know these woods, these woods have been my hiding place and my healing place many times. During the cancer battle I walked nearly every day, every day  there was something different for me to see and photograph. Simple beauty. Peaceful beauty. I felt His presence with me as I walked and healed. At work during that time it was all I could do to put one foot in front of the other, until I got to my woods. Its different there. Today, when I was really fighting and losing I knew where I had to go. I was blessed with just enough time.

         I went down the trail that in some of my past writings I called Daredevil Hill because of how we road anything with wheels down seeing who could go the fasted and come the closest without going into the creek at the bottom. I walked around the pond that dad had built, finding the fist bit of solace there. I love that place, I love the sound and look of the water and the dragonfly that dance around down there. I stood on the bridge for a while just being. I then left and went around to my brother's deer field. Instead of simply crossing it as I usually do I went up the trail going in the opposite direction that I usually do then back down, across and up the other side. I thought about following the creek but it was too dark in the woods to get any good photographs so I climbed the hill and followed the path I normally do. The one thing that annoyed me, I'm wondering if God told all of those spiders to spin their webs at the height just perfect for me to run into face first.
            when I reached the large power lines that cross the dirt road and onward I glanced around. Off in the distance I could see storm clouds, again. I shook my head and looked around at the wildflowers growing nearby. One of them had an interesting looking insect lurking there so I took a couple of photos and moved away. Turning back I looked once more at the storm clouds gathering. There, where there was none just moments before, was a rainbow. So simple, so soft, so beautiful, so much the reminder. He is with us, He makes promises that He keeps. We are not ever alone, even and especially when we feel the loner, loser, failure. I lifted my camera and fired off several shots and then moved forward shooting as I went. I then tried to quickly move around to the other side of the power line tower. Ripping my arm repeatedly by the briars I was fighting my way through I got to a point where I tried to get a few more shots. By then the rainbow was fading, but I had seen it. I had seen and been reminded of the Promise.

  I made my way up to the Dirt Road and started back toward the house. One of the people that live on the road, who I have known forever, who I respect and think the world of, allows me to wander about his yard taking photographs. He has the enormous butterfly bush. When I got to his house I saw there was a butterfly on the small bush that grows at the end of his driveway. When I moved around to the side of the house I was again over joyed. The big bush was covered in butterfly. I can only hope for the time when mine will be big enough to attract them as this one does. I started taking pictures and smiling the entire time.

       As in my battle with cancer, I was reminded today through the gifts given to me during my walk, I know I am not alone. Even when I still sit by myself during breaks at work, when no one calls asking if I want to hang out, go somewhere, play a hand of cards (do people still do that?) I'm going to be fine. I know the Great Physician, I know the Comforter, I know, the peace and the love of the Father.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Thoughts, Words and Photos

My neighbors must have wondered about me a few moments ago. (But then when is that anything unusual?) There I was out taking photos of the flowers in my yard, in the rain.  I love flowers and have planted those that I hope will draw butterfly, hummingbirds and bees. I also love the color that flowers add to the landscape and to our life. Raindrops on flowers just add a different feel to them. Something a little special.

As I've mentioned before, we have had a lot of rain here lately. So getting photos of raindrops of flowers is much easier. Plans that I had for today fell through so as I sat here, I heard it once again begin to rain. I walked out onto the front porch and watched as water once again pounded the soggy ground. When it had slowed to a heavy drizzle I went in and got my camera.
hanging out on one of the bushes that line my driveway

found in my backyard-photo shot through the screen

waiting on the geese-I do love living in the country

could have sworn this rose started out a darker red

caught unprepared for the rain

butterfly bush

my garden gloves left on the fence

Friday, July 12, 2013

jump on it


   Usually our summers are hot, hot and dry. Usually this time of year, I'm dragging the garden hose around trying to keep vegetables and flowers from dying from thirst. Usually. But this is a very unusual summer. One thing's for sure....there's nothing dry about it, not here anyway.

     Once it started raining, it has rained nearly every day. Anything from a brief passing shower to thunderstorms to all day rains. The ground is soaked to the point that it is like a saturated sponge. You walk across it making odd squishy noises as you try to keep from sinking down into the muck. Feeling the water seeping into your shoes and knowing that there is no sense in mopping as you're about to track mud back into the house once again. Water is pooling anywhere and everywhere. Puddles have formed and stayed. Drainage ditches have become creeks and the creeks, rivers and lakes are at capacity and above. My vegetable garden is having a love/ hate relationship with the rain. I'm trying to figure out ways to save the drowning squash while allowing the cucumbers to still get the water they're enjoying.

  My front yard is a mess. Grass only grows in a somewhat narrow ribbon across the yard up near the road. Otherwise my yard is dirt. I was told that the grass wouldn't grow because all of my big Oak trees keep sucking all the nutrients out of the ground leaving none for the grass. Sounds logical to me. Because there is no grass, the dirt keeps washing away every time we get a heavy enough rain.  Here lately we have had our share and a few other people's share of rain. My yard is full of sticks and branches that the storms have brought down.  Right in front of the porch and near the gate the ground is extremely soggy. In the driveway where I park are several mud holes. And we keep getting rain.
 I've said all of that, to say the following. This afternoon after I got off from work, we had sunshine. The real deal sunshine. the kind that heats up the air and sucks the moisture up creating a steam bath. The kind that had been out long enough to begin a drying process. I hoped that it was enough. I didn't know how long I had before the arrival of the next rain but I wasn't taking any chances. I had things that needed to be done outside, it wasn't raining, the sun was actually shining and I wasn't going to let the moment pass. I had a brief window of time and I was going to jump on it.

  I had recently been given some flower bulbs, but I hadn't been able to plant them because of the rain. I grabbed my son and we dragged the tiller out of the building and got it to where I wanted to plant the bulbs. The main problem with this site was that there are Wisteria vines that grow all over that area. James managed to get them wrapped up tightly around the tines of the tiller right away. I went and got the limb trimmer and began cutting the vines away. It took a few minutes but between the two of us we got it all out. For the next little while we teamed up and got the flower bed tilled up. He would run the tiller until we hit a vine, I would cut it loose, cut it away or cut it at times before he got to it. Once he had it tilled he put the tiller away as I got the wheel barrel and hoe. Going to where the bulbs waited I loaded them all into the wheel barrel and carried them up to where James had made their new home. By the time I had them all planted I was sweating heavily and had dirt on both knees of my jeans and up to my elbows on both arms. It  wasn't the best planting I've ever done, but I think I did it as mom suggested, or as close to as I could. I had hurried, not knowing when the next raindrop might fall.
  Once I finished planting the flowers I looked over at the stretch of ground between my fence and the dirt road. Thanks to all of the rain we hadn't been able to mow the grass and the grass and weeds were taking full advantage of that fact. In some places it was terribly high. Looking toward the sky I saw a rogue cloud forming. It looked like I still had a few minutes, I'd better jump on it if I wanted that cut. Hurrying down the driveway I pulled the mower out. Upon checking I saw that it was bone dry empty of gas. Going back into the carport I found the gas can. It was almost full. Filling up the mower I pushed it up the driveway. Searching for a few minutes I finally found the button to prim the mower. Then pulling the rope it started right up. It took a few minutes longer as I was trying to cut the grass not my rose bushes that was tangled up in that mess. Once that was done and the grass I couldn't mow down pulled up and tossed away I figured I might as well take advantage and mow the grass inside as well.
  While mowing Bella decided to get in my flower bed and dig. When I tried to run her out, she thought I was playing. She obviously didn't think so when I went and got the hose and turned on the water. I didn't spray her as she didn't go back near the flower bed while I was working. I finally manged to get the grass cut as best that I could. It hadn't looked high until I cut it. Putting the mower away I looked around the yard. I still need to get all of those sticks up and there is that pile of leaves waiting..hopefully I'll have another window of sunshine tomorrow. If I do...I'll sure jump on it as there is still plenty that needs doing. As for now, I'll be happy with what I managed to get done.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

How Does Your Garden Grow? My own Adventure in Gardening

                                                 All photos are from last year

          This time last year I was doing everything in my power to keep my vegetable and flower gardens watered. This year, I'm doing all that I can to keep them from drowning. According to a local news page we have had a little over twelve inches of rain since June 1, the average rainfall is 4.9 inches a year. No one, no where at no current time can say we are any where near drought status.  Just the opposite. The ground is saturated; streams, rivers and lakes are filling and overflowing. Trees are uprooting and falling. And my poor squash are suffering. Now the cucumber right next to it are loving the water.

     Gardening is an ever evolving challenge and adventure for me. Every year I seem to do a bit better, but I still don't have dozens of canning jars lining my cabinets. Then there is the gardener's envy I suffer through listening to others talk about what all they have canned or frozen or even given away. (hint..if you're giving extras away........just saying). I'm not ashamed of my gardening skills of lack of because I am improving. I get disappointed in the lack of results, even as I realize that it isn't always my fault. One can only water so much, or siphon off so much water. Some deer- or other wild life- are going to chow down no matter what you do to try and prevent them from turning your garden into their personal buffet. Insects are a bad problem as well. I don't want to cover my vegetables with toxic poisons, whether they are toxic to humans, insects or my beloved bees. (Think about it folks, we need the bees if we want the gardens and fruit trees to produce). I'm working with organic stuff, but the rains that we've had just keeps washing it away.

 My garden is really not all that large. While I don't have exact measurements, guessing would make it approximately fifteen feet by thirty feet. Give or take a few feet. It is not the most sunny location thanks to the large Oaks that nearly surround it. Still, it is producing some, and that helps. I tried to do some things a little differently this year.

My son tilled up the garden a few days before I wanted to plant. Thing is, he tilled it to where the rows were running in a direction that would have allowed the first rain to carry off a large percent of my topsoil. Which meant that someone had to go back and till it to where the rows ran the other way. That someone ended up being me. Now, I had never to my memory worked a tiller to this degree. It was not fun. It was not exciting. It was like wrestling a lawn mower gone mad and trying to alternately mow the yard, the fence and the tops of trees. I will admit that at one point I hit a rock that caused the tiller to jump-- a jump that the boys in the Dukes of Hazard would have loved. The problem was that when it landed it landed right on top of a wire tomato cage which instantly wrapped around the tines. My son James had to help me correct that. He used my limb trimmer... it doesn't work any more. When I finished tilling the garden I then took and made elevated rows. I wanted to plant in a way that when it rained ( this was way before our now record rainfalls) the raised rows would stop the water from running off and allow it to soak into the ground there by helping keep the plants watered. Once the rows were laid out I dug a shallow trench down the middle. In this I put some organic fertilizer. Which was an improvement over last year because I forgot to put any in. Once that was done I got the seeds and or plants and got busy planting them where I thought they would grow best. I planted radishes, cabbage, two different types of green beans, onion, tomatoes, cucumber, squash, and bell pepper. I didn't plant my okra because it wasn't hot enough yet. One of my mistakes was that I purchased some of my seeds from a dollar store. Par for the course for me and even though others said that they had good luck with dollar store seeds, mine didn't come up very well. I had to go and purchase more expensive seeds- those came up.

 My worry then was about the deer and other critters. My garden is on the far side of our over sized storage building, right near the edge of the woods. Easily accessible to wildlife. My green beans are running on a section of fence that crosses almost  the entire end of the garden but there is just enough space for them to get by. That meant going to the store and finding one of the many granuals that promise to keep wildlife away. So far it seems to be working- even as I know I need to put more out thanks to the rain.

I over heard a coworker of mine talking about his garden and how he runs his cucumber on a fence like he does his beans. Sounded good to me because when I let the plants run along the ground they tend to dry up and die quickly. Thanks to the Good Lord, the fence and the rain my cucumbers are doing better than they have ever done. I love cucumbers and am quite happily enjoying the bounty. One problem though is the weight. I went out to the garden the other afternoon and the weight of the many vines had pulled the fence over. Between my husband, son and myself we managed to get the fence back up and stabilized. I was back out there today propping it with my posts.

The okra that I did finally plant a few weeks ago is doing pretty well. I planted two rows and both are coming up. There aren't any blooms yet, and I will admit to worrying about that until I heard others saying theirs was doing the same way. The tomato plants that are in the garden are not doing as well as I would have liked. They are growing, there are a few blooms, but they simply are not getting enough sunlight. On the other hand, the tomato plants that I put in planters near the gate into the yard, that are getting enough sun are huge. They are taller than me, so tall that a couple of them have bent over and are making a second reach for the sky. Covered in blooms and with a few tomatoes tempting my palate. One thing about these plants, or one plant in particular is that our puppy Bella seems to either like the taste of this plant or have something serious against it. She has broken the stem of this plant completely in two- twice. Each time I have managed to find it before it is too badly wilted. I have taken and shoved it back down into the dirt in the planter and hoped for the best. Not only is it still alive and still growing it is producing. I have tried blocking her access to the plants but that little Houdini can find a way to where she wants to be. I do manage to keep her out of the garden now when I go over there by closing the make shift gate quickly behind me. Her manner of gardening is very destructive. I found that out very  early on.

 With all the rain I thinking about either finding little life preservers for the squash, or possibly lining the rows with plastic to try and divert some of the water away from that row. I thought about and then discarded the thoughts of tiny umbrellas as that would block the much needed sun. I'm wondering if its too late to plant more because I was really, seriously drooling at the thought of fresh squash and so far that isn't happening.

I'm not really fully unappreciative of the rain, because it has cleaned the air of most of that pollen we were suffering through. My vehicle looks green again instead of that weird yellow. I can breathe without sneezing. I just can't swim and all this water makes a non-swimmer nervous...and hungry. Don't forget hungry.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Once Upon an Adventure

  Have I mentioned that I grew up here, right here?  On this one lane, dead end, dirt road in this very house. The bedroom my husband and I share was the one my parents used, my son is in what was my room. I love this place, for me it is special. A lot of memories and a lot of love linger around every bend in the paths. Growing up here, surrounded by family had a lot to do with shaping who I am. Then there were adventures waiting behind every bush, around every bend in the road and high in the limbs of any near by tree. Life was simple, life was fun, life was innocent. Life, was an imagination gone wild, even while rooted in reality.

   Tugging the imaginary hat down tighter on my head, I put on my most serious expression. It was out there, I could hear it calling to me, and I was going to find it. School was out, summer just starting and there were adventures waiting to be had. My heart was already pounding, my bare feet dug into the sand as a bead of sweat traveled down my cheek. Oh yes, I could hear it, and I was going to answer.

  Walking around the corner of the house I started down into the woods. This path was the steepest of the many that crisscrossed the woods. I was going to have to be very careful as I made my way down. I probably should have taken time to put on my climbing gear but it was too late for that now. I was on my way and I wasn't going back. Using every hand hold that I could find, crevice in the rocks, shrubbery, a handy muscadine vine, what ever I could use, I took advantage of. I didn't want my journey into adventure to end before it really began. I could hear small pebbles rolling away, out from under my feet and down the hill to crash at the bottom. I was really sweating now, trying to wipe it away before it managed to get into my eyes and stung like a thousand bees. I wondered as I made my way down just when this hill became so high and steep. We traveled this path often, had some natural disaster happened when we weren't paying attention causing it to be so steep? Or were my senses on high alert and realizing more as I slowly climbed down? Finally I reached the bottom of the hill, releasing the vine that I had clung to I checked out my hands for scratches or blisters. I was close to the swamp, openings in the skin drew the attention of the ever hungry monster mosquitoes. Monsters that grew so large they could grab and carry off small pets and scare birds right out of the sky. Mosquitoes that the Small ones had been known to capture and train for transportation....but that is another story, another adventure. Today, I was already on a mission. I was checking out the Dirt Road, making sure that it was ready and prepared for Summer and the days and adventures to come. There was also the voice calling to me. I had to find out who or what, or where it was coming from.
  At the bottom of the hill I had two choices. I could go straight and cross the Great Divide, heading out to the Netherlands or I could turn right and go into the Mists of the Swamp. The Mists of the Swamp is where the largest concentration of monster mosquitoes were, at that moment I was not ready to face the risk. I was going to cross the Great Divide. The Great Divide had been created over time by the wet weather spring that flowed through it. Normally dry, when ever there was rain, even those summer showers that were short in duration, had water running. Not deep by that big ditch out in Wyoming standards it was still deep. Nature had made a natural bridge in the falling of an enormous tree, centuries of life ended in one swift moment. Visually I couldn't tell how sturdy and safe it was. I was going to have to go out on it to find out. I was going to have to stuff that fear if heights down into a deep pocket to be able to go out onto the tree.
 Slowly, ever so slowly I took that first step. Reaching out I grabbed a small limb that was sticking upright. Easing my way around it I gave a small bounce, the tree bridge was flexible but seemed safe. The next limb was too far away to reach so I had to very slowly and very carefully ease my way forward. As soon as I was close enough I grabbed the branch and clinging to it, stopped long enough to catch my breath and steady my nerves. I was doing my best not to look down but sometimes the temptations are just too strong. A quick glance down had me clinging tighter to the branch in hand. A small stream flowed beneath me, way beneath me. Some how, an old tire had found its way here. The water flowed over and around the tire, heavy rains had pushed old branches and leaves and created a small cave like dwelling for woodland creatures. The Howler would find it, but that too is another adventure. When I finally made it across I stood in place long enough for the trembling in my legs to stop. Then I turned to look around me. The woods stretched out before me, waiting. Paths went in all directions, one toward the Mainland Roadway, it followed and at times used the creek bed. One went to the Bottomland Gardens, it ran parallel to the Mists of the Swamp but up a bit higher and far enough away from the mosquitoes that they weren't a real threat. Then, ahead of me, was the path to the Netherlands. A place not visited often, a place of mystery, a place of legends, a place were the voice was coming from. It was this path that I was going to follow.
  Before I took those first steps I stood quietly listening. I wanted to adjust to the woods so that I could hear every sound around me and be able to place them. I wanted to know if the sounds I was hearing were any of the various wildlife, the Small Ones, or someone or something bent on evil. It wasn't something that happened often on the Dirt Road..but even a magical place like the Dirt Road was not immune to outside forces. Once I felt in tune with the land around me I began walking. The path began small, you had to know where to look to see it. Even though the many animals of the woods used this path, in my heart I believed that the Small Ones would often find ways to try and disguise it so as to protect themselves from outsiders. Climbing the hill I made my way deeper into the woods. All sounds of modern life had quietened a long time ago. Now, what I heard, all I heard was the sounds of the woods. A slow, gentle breeze caused the leaves high in the giant Oaks to sway slightly. A woods beetle made it's way from one decaying branch to an even more decayed log, crossing over and under the leaves that covered the ground. Somewhere off in the distance an owl called. The quiet could have been unnerving, but I loved it. The quiet did my heart good, and my senses came more and more alive the deeper I went. At the top of the hill I looked out to where the path was obvious and widened
considerably.  Here I could make my way easily.
   I followed the path, knowing from what I had been told in the past that once upon a time this had been a roadway. In the distant past there had been a blacksmith's shop somewhere along the way. Time had taken it's toll and there was no evidence left of it having ever existed, only the memories of those who had known. Just as the House of Lost Dreams would someday be. That too, is another adventure, for another time. Taking an abrupt turn I left the trail, I had to see if what I remembered was still there. Memorial Mound, boulders placed in positions that were made to look random but didn't quite accomplish  the desired effect. One because it was the only place known in the entire woods where boulders that size were found and two, the formed a pattern. Were they still where I remembered them to be and would I feel that same energy that I had when I first discovered them? Would my mind and imagination be filled with the images of waterfalls and wildlife, painted horses and roaring fires. Would my heart beat the the rhythm of drums long ago silenced? As I approached where I remembered the stones to be the sounds of the woods grew even more quiet. This was a special place and even the woods showed a reverence to it. Climbing to the top of one more hill I found them. Walking over to where the stones rested I ran my hand along one of the largest boulders. Its surface was worn smooth by the years of wind and rain. In this place, there was peace. It was a place of love, memories, solitude, but not loneliness. I crossed to a boulder that I could sit on and took a seat. I planned on being there for a while. I had been drawn here, now I was going to give it a chance to teach me.

    The real world's school may be over for the year, but life's school never takes a break. Out here, out where I feel comfortable and at home I listened and I learned. I absorbed what the land offered. When the shade began to deepen I knew I had to head back. It was going to take me a while as I knew I would be moving slower as I digested the food for the heart and soul that the Mystic Woods and the area of the Netherlands had fed me this day. It was the beginning of a great summer and many adventures to come. I had answered that first call, the spirit of adventure knew I was ready, and I knew  the Mystic Woods that the Dirt Road crossed into were ready for me, holding and preparing many adventures. So deep in thought I didn't even notice the height and depth as I crossed over the Great Divide, nor did I notice the steepness of the hill as I made my way back home. There was much on my mind as I thought of what lay ahead. What great adventures were in store, here on the Dirt Road.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

I am so disappointed

   I am so disappointed.

  Today at work I lost my pair of snips. For those who may not know, that is a pair of small scissors used to cut yarn. A new pair costs from  seventeen dollars and up. I had that pair for a while now. It wasn't my favorite pair, that pair disappeared a few weeks ago. I'm not sure whether I also lost that pair or if someone saw them on the desk and thought they would look better in their pocket. So yes, I'm disappointed in my co-workers. Not all of them of course. Just the ones that don't understand that there is no such thing as the Snip Fairy floating about leaving gifts of snips for people. If there is a pair of snips on the floor, someone dropped them. They belong to someone and if you aren't going to turn them in, then that person has to replace them. That person today-- being me.

My manager also had her snips and a knife disappear last night. I may be wrong, but I don't believe that the person who helped themselves to those items was from our department. Nor the one who took things from the lab.

I've had things disappear before. I've even had someone go into my lunch cooler and take a container of cantaloupe. So yes, I'm disappointed.  I can't help but think back.

 Growing up my brothers and I were taught to respect each other's belongings. If you wanted to borrow it, you asked. If no one was there to ask, you left it alone. If you were given permission to borrow, then once you were finished with it, you returned it. You returned it in the condition you found it in if not better. We took care of our things and we took care of the possessions of family. There was no worry about things getting mysteriously lost. We slept with windows wide open, we didn't worry about if the door was locked or even closed well up into the night. My Grandparents lived next door and my Grandfather was quite the collector. Granted it wasn't usually the most expensive of items, but there were some interesting things to be found. As kids, I never knew of anyone taking anything. That changed as time passed.

After my Grandparents had passed on my parents moved into their house. We moved into the house that I grew up in. There was a very nice lady that lived in a mobile home straight across from mom and dad. when she passed away her son moved into the mobile home and brought problems with him. Things disappeared, strange people were always going in and out. It was not unusual to see the police over there or the occasional rescue truck due to drug problems. and yes, things disappeared. Some things were returned, others were never seen again. Still, that innocent, naive part of me wants to see the good in people. I want to believe in people. Things have changed so much, since we were kids.

We watched programs on television like Mayberry, The Beverly Hillbillies, Gilligan..innocent programs that entertained. Some where along the line the lines were crossed and blurred. Programming on television became more violent, the language more blue. with each passing day more things are allowed that never went have been there --back then. I don't doubt that a lot of the advances that have been made are a good thing, we just don't know how to use it in a way that leaves us more time to do other things. While I know not everyone walks around with their eyes glued to something electronic. Not all of us spend all of our time playing video games, watching television, or some other activity that has us stagnant. But a lot do. So many have lost the ability to use their imagination. They have lost the ability to socialize face to face. We have lost respect for ourselves and others. I know that times are hard. I know a lot of people are out of work, afraid, lost, in need. In need doesn't mean that its okay to steal.

So yeah, I'm disappointed.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Training Bella with love not violence

Bella watching me through the fence

  It has always been my plan that once I found a puppy, that would grow into a large dog, that I would begin training that puppy right away. Knowing that training a puppy would not be an easy task and would require patience and lots of love. Then we found Bella and that very theory was proven many times over.
  Not long after Bella joined our family I was shopping and saw a bag of 'dog training treats'. I recalled the many times I had watched on television as trainer gave their dog a treat after every obeyed command. Thinking I'd give that a try I purchased a bag. It was one of the smartest moves yet as Bella loves them and would do anything she knows how to obtain these treats.
 The usual commands came pretty easy for her. Sit and shake, even a high five was learned easily. Stay is an entirely different matter for this sweet, attention deficit, pup. But she's learning. Once she realized that when she's on a leash her movement is limited she quit fighting quite so hard, even as she still doesn't like it. Getting her to walk beside me is still an ongoing process, as is sit and wait when I try to take photographs. That one I am determined that she learn and master as that is one of the reasons I wanted a large dog, one that would go with me on hikes and be a deterrent to anyone with less than nice intent. Weather permitting (which it hasn't much here lately) we will head out down the trails into the woods behind the house. I will walk so far and then stop, walk so far and stop. At times waiting only a moment, at times standing for much longer periods of time. She gets rewarded every time she does well. One of the problems with walking in the woods are all of the interesting (for a dog) smells of the critters who have passed that way before us. There has been a couple of times when I wasn't paying the amount of attention that I should have been and was nearly yanked off of my feet when she stopped and wanted to go a different way. She enjoys when we go to the pond and will go down for a drink. I'm sure that as her courage grows she will end up doing some swimming-- but not yet. I'm also working on breaking her from pulling. I want her by my side, now dragging up behind or dragging me from in front, but walking right beside me, quietly and attentive to our surroundings. To manage this is a challenge as when she pulls and I remain at the pace I was traveling she sounds as if she is choking. Her determination to get to where she wants to be is her own undoing. I will stop, pull back on the leash with a sharp command of 'no- don't pull'. She will stop and return to my side only to quickly forget and start pulling again, which gets her the same results. We have done this time and again, over and over walking up the road. I have a halter collar for her but only want it on her when we are working as she has already eaten one. Fiber in a diet is good for humans, I'm not sure how beneficial it is for animals.
  Being a dog, she loves to dig. My yard is in no way yard of the week material, but I do have flowers and shrubbery planted to attract butterfly, bees and hummingbirds. Bella is challenging me to keep them in the ground with her digging. I managed to get the fence around the flowers up most of the way, I need to purchase a few more posts and then hopefully she will be kept out of the garden. Or learn to replant what she digs up. 
  I noticed yesterday that she has begun to chase the vehicles that go up and down the dirt road. I'm thinking that I will need to use the same tactic to break that habit as the one we have used to break her jumping up on people, water. My son has a sport water bottle and I have a spray bottle. Both have proven effective. When ever Bella does something wrong, a face full of water stops her cold. She had a bad habit of biting--those puppy teeth are sharp. One day while James was off work he sat out on the porch with Bella. Every time she jumped up or went to bite him he splashed her with the water. By the time I got home from work, she was a different puppy. All he had to do was show her the bottle and she would quickly get herself under control. That still works on anything that she does that needs correcting. While she has never tried to harm the cats, the cats do not care for her. She is active puppy and they are more sedate adults, with an attitude. Now if the cat's warnings don't work, she feels the water and finds a place to stretch out. If she jumps on anyone, gets into something she shouldn't, attempts to bite or bite at my feet she feels the water and immediately comes under control.
  There is no hitting. There is no denying food or attention. There is no yelling in anger.
  I will admit to being on the outside of the fence clearing a part of the yard to plant flowers and to look up and see her digging up my flower bed. I yelled out her name to get her attention. Once she was looking at me a sharp, NO. had her leaving my flowerbed and finding a spot to stretch out and watch me work. It took several times as like a toddler she kept going back to the forbidden. she knows when she has done wrong, the look of shame on her face every time she was called down attests to that. The fence I put up I hope will help with keeping her away from the flowers. She has all of the rest of the yard after all. 
  I'm not trying to create a show dog. I don't plan on having her jump through hoops or ride trikes or dance around the room with me. I am only working to train Bella to be able to go with me hiking and be in enough control of herself that my worry would be about taking photographs and not getting lost. I want Bella to be family, not lawn ornament, not status symbol, not something that one has just because. Dogs and cats have always been a part of this family as family...the love that they show is incredible and I wouldn't miss it or mess with it for the world.
 Training Bella is an adventure that I am fully enjoying, no matter the frustrations...

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Comparisons, Differences, For the Love of Dogs..

  I'm listening to the sounds of fireworks and gunshots going off all around us. It has been going on since before it got dark.  I'm all for celebrating our nation's birthday, but it is now almost 10:30 in the evening and the first sounds were heard around 7:30.. yes.. before it was even dark. 

 I have two dogs. I have Buddy who has a bit of age on him but doesn't really act it. I have said in the past that I believe he has every bit of hunting dog that the Good Lord made in his DNA. As much as I hate it when he is outside he must be on a chain because of his escape artist tendencies. He can jump the fence better than any squirrel, he can find any gaps or holes quicker than anything I've even seen. If there is a way out, he will find it and he will be off and running. That's what he wants to do, run. If he would only remain down in the woods it wouldn't be so bad. Instead he wants to run around the main highway and that is not safe. That means if he escapes, someone must chase him and he loves that almost as much as running. He will allow you to get just so close before he takes off running again. Once he gets tired out, you can capture him and return him to the yard, but not before.

Bella is still a puppy. She pays absolutely no attention to the sounds of fireworks, gunshots or thunder. She might, if its loud enough look up, but then she goes back to what ever she was doing. The only time she acts anywhere in the least upset, is if she is outside after dark. She does not like that. She thinks once its dark, she is supposed to be inside curled up behind my chair. Which, to be honest, I don't mind in the least.

We did have a Border Collie mix by the name of Rambo. Poor thing was terrified of loud noises...any loud noises. He would panic and try desperately to get inside the house. He actually tore the siding off from around the front door trying to get inside. Once inside, he was fine. He would find somewhere to stretch out and lay until the threat was over. You wouldn't even know he was around, he was that quiet. The cats didn't even pay him any real attention. Unlike Bella. Being a puppy she has what seems to be unlimited energy levels. She doesn't try to hurt the cats, she only wants to play, but my cats are adults who left the playful stage behind a long time ago. Rambo wouldn't bother a thing when he was inside. Bella thinks that everything is hers, and everything is edible. Rambo- being older- while he had a decent appetite, he would at least get full..Bella doesn't seem to ever get full. Rambo never dug much, Bella is digging up my flowers. Rambo was a very loving dog. He knew that we (I) had given him another chance and he didn't hesitate to show it.  When I was outside, he was as close to me as he could get. If I was on the outside of the fence, he lay as close as he could to where I was. Bella is doing much the same thing. She does not like my going to work in the garden and closing the fence so that she cannot go with me. Her manner of gardening is a bit too destructive. When I'm in the yard she is following right along behind me. At night she sleeps at the foot of the bed. She learned not to sleep on my side of the bed as I tend to have leg cramps at night and standing up stretching my leg eases that....Bella didn't care for getting stepped on so she moved her sleeping place.

I do miss Rambo since he crossed the Rainbow Bridge, his calm demeanor is missed. Of course he was an older dog when we adopted him from the rescue group. He was never in a hurry. Bella is always in a hurry. But she's smart and she learns quickly. She was housebroken in a short time, and I'm making headway in breaking her from jumping up on people. The last thing I need is her as a full grown dog jumping up on my mom trying to be friendly. Rambo walked on a leash well and would sit and shake but that was about it. He hated riding in a car and it was a real ordeal getting him in the car to go to the vets and back in to come home. Bella seems to enjoy riding, and her youth and not grown yet size helps in getting her in and out of the cars. Bella is walking fairly well on the leash even as she tries to eat the thing. I'm working on getting her to sit and be still when I stop so that I can take photographs. But being my ADHD dog, her attention span doesn't suit well with sitting for too long, especially if there are things and places to explore. She's learning though. She does understand, 'sit', 'stay', 'shake', 'high five' and she's learning 'down' where she lays down...
 She has picked up one bad habit though. She suddenly wants to chase cars. She's on the inside of the fence running along as the cars go up or down the dirt road. I'll have to find a way to stop that, as I really don't want her doing that. I liked it better when she was afraid of them. As I said, she also has taken to digging, which I wouldn't care, but she digs in my flower bed. My poor flowers must cringe inwardly when they see her coming.

It isn't really fair to compare Bella to Buddy or even Rambo, as they like human children are each individuals with individual personalities. The important thing is training and time spent shared. I think we can do this. in fact, I know we can.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The Stains of Impurity

There is a darkness that covers this land
there is a sadness that covers the hearts
of those who understand

standing on the hillside looking out
seeing the corruption of what was
seeing the corruption that is

the stains of impurity

changes in natural order
a new normal

darkness hiding the light
once hiding the sin, now brought to the light

stains of impurity

standing on the hillside, looking out
with a tear that begins the flood
from the heart that understands
seeking, asking
 how to heal the land

the stains of impurity

seek humility of the heart

forgive us Lord, for we have grown vain
You have blessed us greatly
yet we have fallen away
thinking we have done something special
we have created this, founded this
when it was a gift given in love
yet we came, and we destroyed

the stains of impurity

from bended knee
we must seek You, realizing our part
in what is, and what will come
from bended knee, we must call out to You
understanding our failings
forgive us Lord, Your children
for we have turned away form You
sought and followed the idols we have created

the stains of impurity

with broken hearts, broken from self
tossing away the demons of pride
turning away from indulgences of the world
seeking Your face, seeking forgiveness for what we have done
things allowed by our silence

with a humbled heart, a grateful heart
we reach out to You
knowing Your great love
heal this we have damaged
heal this we have soiled

the stains of impurity
washed and cleansed
by the blood
The Blood of the Lamb.