Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas Cards and Postal Art

I have sent out over forty cards this year to family and friends. Other cards were sent on Swap-bot as well. I am sure I have missed some neighbors, but I sometimes lose track of to whom I have posted. Here are a few samples of the cards I sent out. The first is one my wife says is a little too much, i.e. decorating bills. Its really not a bill; it's a contribution:


The next of these are samples of those cards I sent to people I actually know. These are sort of like before and after photos. The "before" is the envelope that have been stained with tissue die. When dying the paper, you never know what effect you will end up with at the end. The "after" is when the addresses and stamp and ink pen doodles have been added. There again, you never know if the envelope will turn out well or be a mess. But when you start your cards late and are desperate to have the cards mailed so they will arrive at least before New Years, you take however they turn out, good or bad, and push them through the mail slot at the post office before the last pick up of the day.
Card One
Card Two
Card Three
Card Four
Card Five
Card Six
Card Seven

Friday, December 7, 2012

Scoliosis Screening Expert - Not Me

The physical education teacher, "coach," at my school has been very ill for the past two months, so the classes have had various substitutes for all that time. When it came time for the scoliosis screening, which the coach usually does for the boys and the swimming instructor does for the girls, there was no one to screen the boys. So, the assistant principle asked me to do the job. After all, I am the library media teacher, the LIBRARIAN, I can do everything faster than a speeding bullet, leaping over tall buildings ... , and I know everything. (What I don't know I make up, er, I mean I use my extensive research skills to find out.)

As I posted earlier, my grandson has severe scoliosis and has had surgery to place rods in his back. I also have mild scoliosis that did not develop until I was in my 50s.
This is an x-ray of my grandson's back straightening rods.

So, I said yes and had a five minute training session with the district nurse and watched a three minute video on how to do the screening. I am now an expert scoliosis screener. What I really needed to see were examples and non examples of the spine problems I am supposed to be able to see.

The first screening was this morning during four P.E. classes for seventh and eighth grade students who had returned the parent permission paper which explained the state law and the screening process. After the first two classes of looking at spines, I was beginning to doubt my powers of observation, because I didn't see any spine that didn't look straight and proper. The girls' screener told me during the class change that she had fifteen on her referral list for the district nurse. Wow, I had none. But during the next class, three boys had shoulder blades that were not in alignment, and I could see there was some type of problem without second guessing myself. Another three questionable spines presented themselves during the last class, so I referred six seventh grade boys for further screening by the real experts. I hope I didn't miss any eighth graders. Seventh graders will be screened again next year.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Random Ramblings - Again

While I am still unhappy and fearful for the future of my country in the hands of Progressives, Liberals,  and Socialists, I have calmed down from my rant of last month and shall endeavor to refrain from venting, with emphasis on the endeavor part.

Four quotes from my favorite philosopher, economist Thomas Sowell:
"It is hard to imagine a more stupid or more dangerous way of making decisions than by putting those decisions in the hands of people who pay no price for being wrong."
"We seem to be moving steadily in the direction of a society where no one is responsible for what he himself did, but we are all responsible for what somebody else did, either in the present or in the past."
"One of the consequences of such notions as 'entitlements' is that people who have contributed nothing to society feel that society owes them something, apparently just for being nice enough to grace us with their presence."
"Whenever you hear people talking about 'a living Constitution,' almost invariably they are people who are in the process of slowly killing it by 'interpreting' its restrictions on government out of existence."

I went looking for Christmas cards last week. Yes, I still send Christmas cards with a newsletter and decorated envelope through the U.S. Postal Service. I used to buy wonderful cards at the paper outlet store in Draper, Utah. They moved from there a few years ago, and I have been unable to find the new location. I have come to the conclusion that the paper outlet store has gone where so many small businesses in the last four years have gone - out of business.

"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." Groucho Marx. The only Marxists I can stand are Groucho, Chico, Harpo, Zeppo, and Gummo! They were capitalists!

The Marx brothers with their parents in 1915: Groucho, Gummo, Minnie, Zeppo, Sam, Chico, and Harpo
"Serving God is doing good to man. But praying is thought an easier service and is therefore more generally chosen." Benjamin Franklin. Too many people today neither pray nor do good to mankind.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

FORWARD into Oblivion

FORWARD into four more years of stagnation, high unemployment, gridlock, lies, corruption, cover ups of how many more Benghazis and murdered ambassadors and free weapons for drug lords, lies, appeasement and apology, blame games, illegal "recess" appointments, laws and regulations by executive order, lies, revenge, denigration of the Constitution, sky high fuel costs and decimation of America's energy production, disaster photo ops, faux renewable energy projects wasting tax money, lies, military decline, misery, sorrow, lamentation, and oblivion. The calamity of Obama's eight years will last for decades, and we shall all be living in a distopian America.

I am depressed. I am wearing all black today, and maybe tomorrow. I am in mourning for my country. Those who voted for Hugo Cha .., I mean, Barack Obama deserve the disaster they get, but the rest of us don't, even though we must suffer along with them. I don't want to live in the faux-Europe of Obamanation; I want to live in the United States of America under the inspired Constitution that the Progressives are now gleefully shredding into confetti for the Inaugural parade.

Thus is my cry of abject disappointment and depression and despair. I shall now go buy some chocolate chip ice cream to drown my woes before the price doubles again because of transportation costs, unless the Obamacrats have already banned ice cream; for my own good, of course.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A Sweet Little Song: Home

I came across an old song from 1931 that has a sweet melody and a wistful, nostalgic melancholy called Home (When Shadows Fall.)  This song, written by Peter van Steeden, Jeff and Harry Clarkson, is an apt description of my mental state most evenings as I watch the sunsets, especially now when it gets dark at 5:30 and the cold night descends. The meaning of home for me at this campground on my journey to the end is a sentimental blending of fifty years ago when I was "at home" with my parents and siblings, and my friends were close at hand; twenty years ago when my own children were all still "at home;" and now when my good wife and I spend a rare, quiet, and comfortable evening together "at home" like old folks. This song says it all.

Home (When Shadows Fall)
Evening brings the close of day,
Skies of blue begin to grey,
Crimson hues are fading in the west.
Evening ever brings to me
Dreams of days that used to be,
Memories of those I love the best.

When shadows fall
And trees whisper, "Day is ending",
My thoughts are ever wending home.
When crickets call,
My heart is forever yearning
Once more to be returning home.

When the hills conceal the setting sun,
Stars begin a-peeping, one by one.
Night covers all,
And though fortune may forsake me,
Sweet dreams will ever take me home.

Here is Johnny Crawford singing this song in 1985:

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Little Halloween Story

I wrote this memoir a couple of years ago for a Jordan School District inservice writing class.

Countdown to Halloween, 1953
Lordsburg, New Mexico
a memoir

Thursday evening, 22 October: The four of us are in the darkened kitchen surrounding the table. Light from Mrs. Kip’s back porch silhouettes the cut out paper shapes of pumpkins, black cats, and witches taped to the window panes. The table is bedecked with presents and a two layer, home-made chocolate cake covered with dark red-orange frosting, a shade of orange much darker than the one my mother painted the living room last year.

“It complements and sets off the brown and orange pattern in the fabric of my ‘early American’ maple furniture,” she said proudly when I asked why she painted the walls orange. The Winebrenners, who live across the street, came running over thinking the house was on fire the first evening she turned on the lights in her bright, orange living room.

The frosting orange, which she mixed with paste food coloring, is a bit more reddish than real pumpkins, but I think the cake is perfect with a jet-black jack-o-lantern face and six yellow candles on top. I want a cake just like this every year from now on! The light of the candle flames flickers on our faces as I take a huge breath and blow out the pale light plunging us into deep October darkness.

Me and my little sister, Jill.
Thursday evening, 29 October: The Methodist church is having a carnival tonight, so Johnny Winebrenner and I decide to take our Saturday movie money and go. Since Saturday is Halloween, we won’t be going to the show. Our moms expect us home early because we still have school tomorrow. When we arrive at the back door of the church, a costumed lady takes our thirty-five cents and gives us a small bag of candy and ten tickets to use at the booths.

We jumble down the steps to the noisy basement where children are running between the booths yelling, laughing, and sometimes throwing paper at each other. My mother would call it “organized chaos” and avoid it at all costs. The basement has an open central room that amplifies the noise, with six classrooms: three each on two opposite sides where the activities are in full swing. There is a fishing booth, a fortune teller, a cake walk, games with prizes, and a spook alley all decorated with crepe paper streamers.

We skip the fortune teller and try out the cake walk and fish pond a couple of times. We finish at the spook alley where some high school boys tell us we will have to walk through a dark room and put our hands into different bowls that have eyeballs, brains, finger bones, and, they snicker, other body parts. They tell us we will be too chicken to make it through without wetting our pants, and we babies should go find our mommies and head for the fishing booth.

We hand them our tickets anyway, and with maniacal laughs and grimaces they slowly open the door for us. Another boy inside the black room flips on a flashlight and aims the light into our eyes. Then he grabs us and yanks us inside. The door slams shut behind us. Pointing the flashlight beam at the floor, the boy guides us to the tables and tells us in a ghoulish voice what is supposed to be in each bowl. After putting our hands in bowls of pealed grapes, cooked macaroni, gelatin, pumpkin guts and seeds, boiled eggs and other things we can’t identify, we are brusquely ushered out of the room. Our hands are wet and sticky.

Johnny Winebrenner, Jill and me.
Friday evening, 30 October: We are sitting in the pumpkin colored living room when we smell a noxious odor like something burning. My mother runs into the kitchen to see if she left something on the stove. We troop in after her. The smell is stronger here, but there is nothing burning in the kitchen. There is a flickering glow out the back window, and we rush to the window afraid the old barn is on fire.

Our eyes meet the glowering jack-o-lantern face of a huge pumpkin impaled on the corner fence post by the back gate. Thick, acrid smoke from burning pumpkin and smoldering manure is billowing out the top. My father starts laughing and says it must be a “gift” from the boys on his high school football team.
Halloween evening: We have hamburgers over at Winebrenners as we usually do on Saturdays, but we don’t stay to watch television; they have one, we don’t. Rin Tin Tin will have to wait till next week. Trick-or-treating rules tonight, and Johnny and I have to get into our costumes. He is going to be a cowboy, and I am going as the headless horseman. The headless, horseless horseman my father says.

I am wearing a large coat buttoned up over my head and carrying a jack-o-lantern carved pumpkin as my lost head. I use the pumpkin as my candy holder because I can’t manage to hold a sack and carry the pumpkin at the same time. I meet the cowboy on the street, and we start our rounds.

As we gather loot, the heavy pumpkin becomes harder to carry. When I put it down and reach in to try a sample, my hand finds the candy covered with slimy pumpkin sweat. No one thought to put a lining inside the pumpkin. We lug the pumpkin back to my house to see if we can save some of the treats. My mother says she can wash the candy bars, but the cookies, popcorn balls and the loosely wrapped candy are ruined.

It is not too late to go back out, but I don’t have a head now. My mother paints my face with makeup and pushes one of my father’s old hats down on my head.

“There,” she says, “no one will know you’ve been there already.” Then she paints a Lone Ranger mask on Johnny, puts a different bandana around his neck, and sends us out the door again.

After an hour, we head back home with our paper bags heavy with Halloween treasure. Too late to avoid them, we see five big high school boys shambling down the sidewalk toward us. They look like giants to us in their boots, blue jeans, white tee shirts, and letterman jackets. They are smoking. A couple of them are not too steady on their feet. When they see us; they stop. We stop.

“Hey, looks like you two made out like bandits,” says one of them as he flicks his cigarette into the street and ambles over to us. “Show us whatcha got.”

He leans down toward us. We back up and tighten our grips around the bags.

“Just give us a look,” he says, while the rest of the boys encircle us so we can’t escape. One of them looks a bit like Johnny’s high-school-football-playing brother, but maybe not. Anyway, he doesn’t seem to recognize us, so it must not be him.

Johnny and I slowly open the bags and hold them out so the guy doing the talking can look into them.

“Share?” he asks nicely.

“OK,” I say hesitantly, and before we can react, he grabs both bags and tosses them to his buddies who burst out laughing and howling.

“Thanks, suckers!” He pushes between us and punches one of his friends playfully on the shoulder. The big men continue their shamble down the street jostling each other, laughing, and eating our candy. “Couple a looosers,” laughs one of them as they turn the corner.

We just stand there, Johnny and I, two little six-year-olds in the dark of the last night of October, 1953.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

So Much To Do, So Little Time Left

Well, one more day and I will reach one of those big mile stones of life where one looks at the past and wonders how it could have passed so quickly, and ponders the future wondering if there is enough time left to finish what you haven't started yet. For some, turning thirty or maybe forty or fifty is a traumatic anniversary inducing a crisis of identity. Those calendar ticks were not traumatic for me, no mid-life crisis for me; no changing horses in mid stream; no selling everything for a red Ferrari (or that sky-blue Edsel convertible with push button transmission I saw in the LIFE Magazine in 1958 or 59). Turning sixty-five is a bit different, though. It gives much more pause for thought, an almost where-am-I-and-how-did-I-get-here moment.

Last week I sat at lunch with a substitute teacher who had been a student at Union Middle School in the late 1980s when I was a teacher there. He did not have me as a teacher, but asked me about some of the teachers who had been there at that time. My answers to a couple of those he asked about were: "He retired. I see him occasionally." Or: "He retired. I don't know what happened to him." But for most of his queries the answer was: "He died." Or: "She died." Those answers were repeated over and over with a few variations of the details as I know them.

I taught at Union for 25 years before I transferred to Mount Jordan Middle School in 1998. I was fifty years old and had literally spent half my life teaching at Union when I transferred. While I had an enjoyable time there and made some wonderful friends, I have often wondered if I made any difference in the world by teaching there or if anyone will ask, "What ever happened to Mr. Goodman?". Well, funny I should ask. Last Thursday after visiting the UEA convention, my wife and I were finishing up some shopping at Costco with a Polish Dog lunch. A young man asked me if my name were "Goodman" and if I had taught at Union Middle School. After answering in the affirmative, he introduced himself and said I was his 8th grade English teacher. (That was my last year at Union.) He said thank you. As I shook his hand he said, "You gave me an 'F,' the only one I ever got." Ops, I thought, where is this going? He continued, "I earned every bit of that 'F,' and it changed my life, thank you." He is now a teacher himself as well as his wife. As I left, I stopped by his table and met his wife and two little boys, and he said thank you for the third time. Wow, I guess mean, ol' Mr Goodman did something right-once.

Here is my school picture for year 40 of my career. Not too bad except for the shinny top and the chubby cheeks. My goal of losing sixty-five pounds by age sixty-five was a bust. I lost twenty-five pounds but gained back ten. I fell off the healthy eating wagon and then had the torn meniscus. The knee problem has cut out my walking two to three miles a day for the last three months. Oh well, time to set a new goal.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Five Postcards

Here are the last five postcards I have received through Quite a variety.

This is a hand made card from Belarus.

This is one of many cards I have received from China.
This card is from Great Britain.

Another hand crafted card. This one is from The Netherlands.
As if you couldn't guess, this is another card from China.

I haven't sent out any cards with postcrossing in over a month. I have been posting with Swap-bot lately. (It is time to request some more addresses.) All the addresses I receive from postcrossing are international, which costs $1.05 per card, unless the address is in Mexico or Canada, which is $.85.  All of my international cards have arrived. One of my two U.S. cards never arrived or the recipient never registered it. The longest time for one of my cards to arrive was to China-151 days. The second and third longest delivery times were to Russia-52 days and 33 days. The shortest time was to The Netherlands at 4 days.
The longest send times coming to me were from Russia-95 days, and from China-33 days.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Swap-bot and Postcrossing

I haven't been doing much swapping or postcarding lately. There have been too many distractions, like work and house remodeling and watching old television shows and just being lazy. But, I have decorated a few envelopes for some get-well and thinking-of-you cards. I also joined a couple of swaps in mid September and sent out ATCs in decorated envelopes.
This was for Elder Calvin Petersen, who adopted me as a grandpa when he was a student at my school five years ago. The next three were for Swap-bot ATC trades. I go to more work on these trades than I should - extra ATCs and a postal art envelope.

These envelopes are for a Swap-bot Halloween ATC trade with two trade partners.
These are the ATCs that I made for the trade. I made two of each and sent both cards and some decorated blanks for backgrounds to each of the partners. The gray background of the second card was supposed to be black, but you never know what you are going to end up with when you die paper with my process. It has a nice texture though.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Happy Birthday Andy Hardy

Mickey Rooney surrounded by Judy Garland, Ann Rutherford, and Lana Turner.

Today Andy Hardy (Mickey Rooney) turns 92., born Joe Jule, Jr. in 1920. I loved watching the Andy Hardy movies on television when I was growing up in the '60s in Huntington Beach, California. Los Angeles had several local stations then that showed "old" movies throughout the day. Of course, the films of the nineteen thirties and forties were not really old in the nineteen sixties. Watching those films then is like watching films from the eighties today. (That would include "classics" like ET - The Extraterrestrial, the first three Indiana Jones adventures, The Road Warrior, Ferris Bueller's Day Off,  or even from the seventies like Star Wars, Jaws, etc. etc. etc...)

Anyway, I still love all those movies I saw back then, the Mickey Rooney/Judy Garland musicals like Babes in Arms and Strike Up the Band, all the Busby Berkley movies, The Andy Hardy series, the witty comedies, the World War Two propaganda films, and on and on and on... And they were all clean, too. No vulgar, gutter language and no graphic, gratuitous sexual content. Ah for the day when, though some people, even some of the actors we admired, may have been vulgar in the real world, we were not assaulted with such crassness in our entertainment.

But I wander from the good tidings of the day. Happy birthday, Mickey, and many returns of the day! You said in 1958: "I was a 14-year-old boy for 30 years," and you are still young for your age with 328 films to your credit and more to come.

P.S. This is one of my favorite photos of the young Mickey Rooney, because it belonged to my mother. I found it in her movie star scrapbook which she kept as a young teenager in the nineteen thirties. This picture is different from the rest of those in her book. It is a photograph, a theatre lobby card, while all the others are clippings from  the Sunday supplement of a newspaper.
Joe Jule Jr., as Mickey McGuire, AKA Mickey Rooney.
More on Mickey: In 1979, when he made his Broadway debut in the review, Sugar Babies, at the age of 59, Jim Watters wrote:
"Rooney's been performing since the age of two, when his vaudevillian parents made him part of the act. By his early teens he was getting raves playing brats, bullies, midgets and a vivid Puck in the all-star A Midsummer Night's Dream. In 1939 he toppled the giants-Clark Gable, Gary Cooper, Bing Crosby [also Tyron Power, Spencer Tracy, Shirley Temple, Bette Davis, Alice Faye, and Errol Flinn who were on the top ten list that year]-as the number one box-office draw."
Actually, in the golden decade before the decline and fall of the Hollywood studio system, 1936-1945, Mickey Rooney was in the top ten studio money makers list six out of those ten years. He was number four in 1938 and 1942, number one in 1939, 1940, and 1941, and ninth in 1943. Mickey was a "triple threat," an actor, singer and dancer. Whom do we have today that is comparable to his heyday? Justin Bieber? I think not.

 Here is a triple threat in one of my favorite films of 1936, The Devil Is a Sissy: Mickey, Freddie Bartholomew, and Jackie Cooper!

Mickey's swim party.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Thomas Sowell for President

I read a great article by Thomas Sowell yesterday, "The Fallacy of Redistribution." I have been pondering the straight forward logic of his arguments. He is one of my favorite commentators because he is intellegent, knows what he is talking about, and writes so darned well that anyone can grasp the depth of the topic. This article should be shouted in every ear of every American. While progressive liberals will refuse to listen, maybe some of those whom the Progressives are trying to decieve will comprehend the futility of redistribution of wealth. The propaganda is that redistricution raises the poor, the so called level playing field that President Obama keeps touting, but redistribution of wealth has never raised the poor; it has only eliminated the wealth. It has never worked and never will. While Progressives may agree that it hasn't worked in the past, they foolishly believe that they will be able to make it work this time. After all, they are more enlightened and capable than the rest of us, because they are Progressive.

Here is a quote from Sowell's article (emphasis added):
The history of the 20th century is full of examples of countries that set out to redistribute wealth and ended up redistributing poverty. The communist nations were a classic example, but by no means the only example.

In theory, confiscating the wealth of the more successful people ought to make the rest of the society more prosperous. But when the Soviet Union confiscated the wealth of successful farmers, food became scarce. As many people died of starvation under Stalin in the 1930s as died in Hitler's Holocaust in the 1940s.

How can that be? It is not complicated. You can only confiscate the wealth that exists at a given moment. You cannot confiscate future wealth -- and that future wealth is less likely to be produced when people see that it is going to be confiscated.

The entire article may be read at

"Thomas Sowell was born in North Carolina and grew up in Harlem. As with many others in his neighborhood, Thomas Sowell left home early and did not finish high school. The next few years were difficult ones, but eventually he joined the Marine Corps and became a photographer in the Korean War. After leaving the service, Thomas Sowell entered Harvard University, worked a part-time job as a photographer and studied the science that would become his passion and profession: economics."

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Two Mail Art Letters

While I was recuperating this week from arthroscopic knee surgery to repair the meniscus of my right knee, I decorated a couple of letters. One for a young man in my neighborhood who, while playing frisby at a church swim party, tripped over a girl sitting on the grass behind him, fell and broke his clavicle in several places. (He had to have surgery to fix it.) The other was for one of my former students who adoped me as a grandpa several years ago and is leaving on a mission to Argentina next week.

Friday, August 3, 2012

The War of Words

Last Monday on the way to my school to do a bit of cataloging before the new school year begins, I stopped at Chick-fil-A for lunch. This was after the big brouhaha began over the company's president, Dan Cathy, statements supporting traditional marriage, and before the Wednesday "Support Chick-fil-A Day." I had my trusty cane to fight my way through the rabid protesters that were supposed to be demonstrating for "tolerance," but there weren't any protesters there. The parking lot was full, but I found one handicap parking stall. I had to wend my way through the double row of drive through customers to get to the door which was held open for me by a former student who works there. Inside, all the registers were three deep with customers placing orders, and there was standing room only in the eating area.

While I was waiting to order my chicken strips, I looked over the faces of the twenty or so employees, all busily and politely serving their customers, though undoubtedly a little hassled by the crush of people in front of them. The mix of men and women employees were a range of high school to near senior in age, and in color, white to black with a rich palate of browns in between. A rather diverse group, if you ask me. There was no way of telling if any of the employees, or customers for that matter, were homosexual persons, or whether anyone present was for or against same-sex marriage. No one was wearing or carrying a sign to support anything. The customers just wanted their lunch, and the employees just wanted to do their jobs and to collect their pay for doing those jobs. This was two days before the Chick-fil-A "eat-in," and anyway, this business is always crowded when ever I happen to visit there.

To me this brouhaha has all to do with the First Amendment right to have and express your opinions without the fear of reprisals and sanctions by the government, either federal, state or local, i.e. Boston, Chicago, et al. This has nothing to do with whether same-sex marriage is a right or not. (Marriage is not a Constitutional right; freedom of speech is.) The liberal progressives give great lip service to freedom of speech, but what they mean is, as defined by their actions: you may say what you want as long as what you say agrees with the politically correct liberal progressive opinion. All persons with a differing opinion will be ridiculed, vilified, mocked, marginalized, called "racist" or "homophobic" or any number of filthy, vulgar epithets, a la Dan Savage, the pseudo anti-bullying guru, Bill Maher, pseudo comedian, or any number liberal progressive politicians, actors, pundits and media personalities.

I fully expect some tolerant, inclusive, lover of diversity to hurl a silly, meaningless epithet in my direction because of the preceding three paragraphs. What epithet? Why the one that is second only to "RACIST" in the verbal arsenal of liberal progressives: "HOMOPHOBIC." This is a silly word that its users seem to think means something it does not. Now if you say I am acrophobic, I will agree with you. I do have an unreasonable fear of heights. But I am not homophobic. I do not fear (GR. phobia) sameness (GR homo); nor, as some less informed people think, man (L. homo). Not only do I not fear, I do not hate, the real implication of those who throw the word at any and all who disagree with them. It is true that I do not approve of homosexual practices or support same-sex marriage, but I also do not approve of or support heterosexual fornication, adultery, prostitution, or perverse sexual practices. Does that make me "heterophobic?" No, both words are silly and meaningless. I do approve of and support chastity before marriage and fidelity after the marriage of a man and a woman; and I still have the Constitutional right to express that opinion without fear of any government within the United States exercising unrighteous dominion against me. We are not yet the Peoples' Democratic Republic of America.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

More (Mis) adventures in the Garden.

I took a couple of pictures of the flowers in the  front garden. The combination of snapdragons and larkspur I think is nice.

On Thursday I went out in the vegetable garden and found, as was afraid I would, that I had left the board in the irrigation box when I was irrigating the fruit trees at the back of the lot, and I discovered, as I was afraid I would, that the water had overflowed into the areas between the planted rows. The overflow had left a large area of mud in the corn rows and beans (which are still being devoured by invisible bugs). While attempting to step over a swath of mud, I twisted my right knee, the knee in which I have the most arthritic damage. The knee let out a snap, crackle, pop, and I let out a "Yeaow" in reaction to the ice pick jab of pain. I precariously regained my balance on the edge of the mud pit. After a few moments of deep breathing and pain induced vocalization like breathy, silly laughter, I hobbled laboriously into the house and immediately applied ice packs to the knee. Later that evening, I did a little watering in the front garden propped up with a cane in each hand and sitting often on the garden bench I have out by the sidewalk. (I put the bench there for passers-by to have a "sit and rest a spell" when walking through the neighborhood. No one has used it but me, but it is there to use if you happen to pass by.) The LDS missionaries walked by at that time and asked me again, as they do every time they see me, if I needed any service. I told them they could help me water the garden on Friday, to which they replied, "That sounds like FUN!". I proceeded to spend a miserable evening and night with a hot, swollen knee.

Early Friday morning, I called my doctor's clinic for an appointment. He was booked, so I was given an appointment with another doctor at the clinic. He turned out to be very young, but very with it. After turning, twisting and x-raying the knee, he concluded that I had not torn any ligaments but had damaged the meniscus and time would tell if it will heal on its own or need surgery. He gave me a packet of instructions, a list of exercises, and a prescription and wished me luck on my trip next week.

The missionaries came at one o'clock and watered the garden under my direction. They asked me how often I water. In this heat I water every other day. Immediately they said they would come back every other day to water for me, even when I am in California at the American Library Association conference. All summer if I want them to. "We love to give service." My daughter-in-law, Emery, came over in the evening and planted the last of the zinnias for me. I have had lots of service given to me because of my misadventure in the garden.

After a day of high powered ibuprofen and ice packs and walking as little as possible with two canes (easier than crutches), I spent a good night with no pain. This morning, Saturday, I have a little pain, but I am "resting" and icing and taking the prescribed anti-inflammatory. Well, my knee is aching again, so I think I will go take a nap before I head off to the Saturday evening session of stake conference where all I have to do is sit and listen.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Adventures in the Garden

I have spent all day Monday and half of Tuesday working in the vegetable garden at the back of my lot and in the front yard flower beds. I have to say that I can deal with the noxious weeds afflicting me, but I didn't see anything in Geneses about hellish, unseasonably hot weather, damnable winds, and abominations of desolation, bugs, that is, afflicting and tormenting the poor, amateur gardener, me.
Only half the thirty foot row of carrots sprouted, and I reseeded the empty end of the row. Not much came up in the reseed. Peas came up so sparse I think I will just till them under. The potatoes, beets, and onions are doing very well. I replanted the parts of the five rows of corn that didn't sprout. I try to plant according to the old rhyme: "One for the worm, and one for the crow, one to rot, and one to grow." Apparently I need to double that recipe.
This is the east end of my 2100 square foot garden (facing south) as it looked the first of May. White onions, potatoes, beets, carrots, broccoli/cabbage, and purple onions in thirty foot rows. I really don't love onions that much, but years ago before the houses were built behind us the field was rented by a Japanese farmer. When he planted onions, we had very few bugs; when he planted field corn, we were plagued with the abominable creatures. Two rows of onions don't seem to ward them off though. It must take 50 acres of onions to do the job.
Another view of the east end of the garden on the first of May with five rows of corn, a row of peppers and a row of pole beans still in the ground and just watered. I didn't plant tomatoes and zucchini  on the west side of the beans until May 15th, the traditional safe day from late frost.

Some species of invisible bugs ate my first showing of beans down to nubs after I struggled to keep them alive under the scorching sun. I have heard that marigolds are a natural bug repellent, so I had planted lots of marigolds in and around the vegetables. The abominations devoured the marigolds down to dirt level as soon as they made it to three or four inches high. So much for that bit of wisdom. I applied a general spray for insect control and replanted. The new beans are just starting to break through the soil. I feel like I need to go out with a magnifying glass to see if I can spot any abominations before they eat the new crop.
On June 11, I was half way through strawing the potatoes before mounding the dirt up around the plants. I have read anecdotes that potatoes will grow in the straw and will be easy to harvest. We will see if that rumor is true.
When the strawing was finished, I tilled the ground between the rows and raked the dirt up onto the potatoes and irrigated. Exhausting!
This is my Lambert cherry tree. If the birds don't strip it clean before the cherries are ripe, I should have a bountiful harvest. The birds have already cleaned out my mulberries. Drat! I am one of the few poeple in the world who likes mulberries. If you look closely, you can see old CDs hanging in the tree. I have been looking for reflecting tape, but no stores are stocking it this year. The flashing tape frightens the birds and they stay out of the fruit trees. The CDs flash sun light through the tree branches and seem to be working as well as the reflecting tape.