Saturday, April 25, 2009

Birds of a Feather

Some folks call all birds sparrows and all flowers petunias, but that’s ok.  It becomes pretty difficult to distinguish between the finches and the sparrows when the little finch females look almost like sparrows with stripes.  It’s easy to call scissortails by the name of flycatchers, but it’s a big group of birds.  And then there are Mockingbirds, robins from the thrush family, wrens, cedar waxwings, and any number of colorful little buntings.  But the most difficult birds for some of us are the blackbirds.  The red-winged black birds have a distinctive call and personalities.  They are bold and quick about their decisions to come visit a likely feeder.


The most irritating birds are the grackles, however.  They run off the birds that sing and befoul the air with their screeching.  And it is not always easy to distinguish between a simple black bird and the lesser grackle unless one notices that the grackle has an upright feather configuration about his tail.  Black birds have a flat tail.  The cowbirds have that brown neck and head and the totally tacky habit of invading other birds’ nests to leave their eggs to be hatched by an unsuspecting pair of song birds.  The first hatched will, of course, be the bigger cowbird which will kill its step-siblings or ruin the eggs.


My parents have a wren nest in one of their gourds that they hung for the birds.  The pair were a bit fussy about our presence under the carport the other day, but we still got to watch them feed the babies.  Old gourds make great nests for wrens.  But so do door decorations—wreaths and other types of foliage, fake or otherwise.  Our daughter had to go in and out of their garage door for a while when a bird put its nest on their front door decoration.  Now she has a nest of mockingbirds out front in one of the trees that finally got big enough to support a bird nest and purple finches in a fern plant.  Growing things always brings rewards as well as surprises.


If I could attract plants the way we seem to attract birds, we would be considerably richer.  As it is, the only plants we seem to attract are nut grass and crab grass.  Then there are the billions and billions of elm tree seedlings….sigh.  Shade comes at a price.  But shade and song birds are worth whatever it takes to produce the singing, the shade, and the memories.  All three of our children insist that the elm tree is THEIR tree because they spent so many years playing in the dirt or swinging from its limbs.  Yeppers.  It is worth whatever it costs because now we have other little feathered friends and grandkids to raise under that tree.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Old Fogies

Ok, admit it!  Everyone at some time or other has held back from becoming involved in something just because it seems like a fad.  Hulahoops were the craze when I was younger [sometime in the past 60 odd years], but none of the kids of this modern era know how to roll the string on a top and throw it to make it spin.  Although I am not sure that I could still do that one, at least I am tall enough now that my yo yo could actually do both yo’s.  That might not mean anything to anyone who is an adult, but I was very short when the boys were learning how to yo yo.  Mine would go down—and then hit the ground and sit there.  How sad.


Well, now I have been persuaded to take part in another online activity.  I can’t twitter like a bird or pick blackberries because of chiggers, but I can write a comment or two on Face Book.  Someone told me that Face Book is addictive.  That must be for those who don’t chase dust bunnies for exercise.  If anything is addictive, it is that silly game the oldest child gave us:  Chuzzles Deluxe.  All these silly little balls wear sunglasses and make funny noises when they are poked; then they explode into shreds of fuzz when they are lined up in a row.  And the neat thing about them is that there is no real mess to clean up after the explosions.  How neat is that!


Oldest child noted that I was like a kid in a candy store with this Face Book thing.  I remember my one and only trip to a REAL candy store when I was a little critter.  Uncle Morgan went with us to Traskwood, Arkansas.  On the way there he wanted to stop and get some candy at a real candy store.  That is all they had there—jar after jar and shelf of pretty candy.  Uncle Morgan said he would get some for me.  Dad said I could have ONE thing.  Someone said horehound (not me!) and I ended up with this really nasty stuff in my mouth.  Rolling eyes with the memory. . . If I ever get to go chocolate shopping in the Hill Country again, you can bet I will go to Hico and buy some chocolate something…NOT horehound anything!  Hmm.  Thinking about the trip I have been promised after the tractor is running again….


Tomorrow is Earth Day.  I would celebrate but think I will wait until I am ready to take my dirt bath or whatever.  Meanwhile we put feed out for the birds and watched a couple of ducks enjoying the grains.  Apparently they are not afraid of us because they waited until the supply was replenished at least once while we watched.  Fang says we will have to put the bird bath out there for them.  That’s reasonable.  Now all we need is a bird hotel.


Summer is on its way, but for the time being, the weather is gorgeous.  Our roses are blooming as if their lives depended on it—except for one bush which has already turned up its toes and died.  I have no idea what I do to some plants to make them give up.  Maybe it’s my attitude.


Well, the vacuum dog just came in to clean up the office floor for us.  It must be time to call it a night.  If someone knows any way to train a dog to dust and mop…

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Excedrin Headache #1001


If dust were a commodity, we would be rich.  And if dust bunnies brought any price at the sales’ barn, we would never have to work again.  As it is, our dust bunnies are composed of one part long-haired gray cat hair, one part black and/or white dog hair, one part whatever is under the bed fuzz, and the ubiquitous Texas dust that comes in with the ever-changing wind.  Oh, to be a beggar for dust and dust bunnies!  But we will never be poor in dust or dust bunnies as long as there are floors in this house!


At least the wind brings in different odors each day.  Once in a while we can smell the old-fashioned petunias out front.  The roses smell wonderful, but their scent doesn’t go very far from the bushes.  At least the dead fish smell has abated since the birds and the rain have made a difference in the lake.  Golden algae bloom may have its own smell for all I know, but it definitely made a nasty odor out of the fish it killed.  Even though the numerous flocks of birds were interesting to watch on the lake, it is great that they no longer have a reason to congregate on this particular lake.  Dead fish are a lot like the odor from a feed lot, but no one makes any money out of the dead fish unless they could gather, grind them, and use them for fertilizer.  Hmmm….


The wind brings something other than dust to our house; it also brings a headache or two from the allergies it stirs up.  It can seem like a perfectly beautiful day outside, and Fang and I will have bodacious headaches from something in the air.  Whether it is mold, pollen, or someone’s leftover smoke from a prairie fire, we get the headache to mark its passing.  T’aint fair, McGee!  Beautiful weather shouldn’t have to be spent indoors hiding from allergens or popping pills to avoid the headaches.  But such is life.


Allergies were classified as a “maybe so” problem when we were younger.  No one ever mentioned being allergic to anything.  One teacher objected to my mother’s taking me out of school to go see the doctor one day because he didn’t believe anything was wrong with me.  Then Mother had me uncover my arms and show him the weeping sores that had accumulated from my allergies to the sheep on Granddad’s farm.  It seems that some people are just irritated by the feel of wool.  Very few are actually allergic to wool.  Not only was I allergic to the wool and lanolin, I was allergic to cotton because we fed the sheep cotton seed hulls.  Go figure!


Recently some doctors have tried to say that fibromyalgia is not an actual disease.  I remember that they used to say the same thing about “chronic fatigue syndrome.”  Whether we call it allergies or one of the fancier names, it can be plum miserable to have a headache or just generally feel as if the weight of the atmosphere is lying on one’s chest.  Of course, one doctor who treats people with the newer technology says that all medicine traditionally has been a matter of poison or cut.  Thinking about that makes me wonder if the reason people live longer these days is that we have choices about how much poison we take or what we allow to be cut.  One of these days that doctor who has begun to work with near-infrared laser and hyperbaric oxygen treatments will be the norm rather than an experimenter.  The doctors’ tools may not even include a scalpel or drugs.  But in the meantime, I will dance with the dust bunnies and take another allergy pill.  Sigh.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

From the Storehouse

Today the semi-circle of chairs was never really full, but we still shared our stories with those who came to listen and learn.  One old familiar face came with her grandsons.  We talked about the fun we had as children and the activities that were part of our lives.  We reminisced about horny toads—the horned lizards of Texas.  Most of them are gone now, along with the red ants that used to make life interesting for those of us who were silly enough to stop near their nests.  Oh, life was different those many years ago.


Yes, life was different, but not necessarily better or worse.  Our knowledge came slowly from reading and listening when I was young.  Now, plugging into an online source makes learning easy and fast.  But we have lost a few things in the process of making learning easier or faster.  Walking under the trees and smelling the river in the summer was an experience that can’t be put online.  Watching a pair of mated birds build a nest one thread, one scrap at a time can be put online; but can you see her reject the twig, the piece of hair that doesn’t quite fit her plan?  I wonder if an online story would have those parts edited out to save time and space.


Great-grandmother’s quilt was a good place to start showing the youngsters how recycling really started.  The cloth tobacco sacks made squares and circles divided into fourths in order to have enough pieces to set the flour sack dress scraps together in rings.  And then the children learned why quilting the bat was so important to keeping it in the spaces between the stitched sections.  Modern bats are flat and usually stay in place.  Older quilts sometimes had goose down or cotton stuffed in between the layers.  And quilting was necessary as much as an art form.  But the quilts were much smaller than those we have today.  Beds were narrow and not very long.  A tall man got cold feet during the winter unless he had more than one quilt or slept curled up.  Some things have definitely improved in this day and age.


One of the grandmothers who came to sit, rest, and listen could have told us all stories of a different part of the country and a different time.  She had lived in Florida as a young person and faced problems that this part of the country simply never had.  I hope that she will take the time to tell her son and his children the stories of her childhood.  It will matter someday.  No computer source on earth can take the place of personal memories shared with loved ones.  And memories are the best kind of recycling we can promote.  For out of the storehouse of memories will the future be shaped.

Friday, April 17, 2009

And Rain in Due Season


The sparrows and small birds that come around our place find a drink and sometimes some seed to eat on a regular basis.  While God takes care of His creatures, it looks like He gives us the opportunity to ‘help’ once in a while.  My egotism probably amuses Him when He receives reminders from me that the small creatures are suffering from the weather.  But everyone—including the Master—needs a laugh now and then.


An inch and a half of rain and several little sprinkles since have kept us hoping for a ‘toad strangler’ that will fill the tanks and bring up the lake levels.  The land is still thirsty despite the good rain.  The earth needs a good soaking that will seep down to the roots of the trees.  Shallow rooted trees may do well—such as the paradise trees that the government asked farmers to plant back during the dust bowl days—but big trees like the pecans, elms, oaks, and hackberries need two or three deep soakers to keep them going all summer.  This year the trees have been hesitant to leaf out without the water to keep them alive.  They have their own survival mechanism built in.  Sometimes I wish people were more like trees.


If we were like trees, we would know better than to gamble on possibilities.  We would deal with what we got and not what we might get.  We would provide others with what we could instead of what they think they need.  We would stand rooted to good ground and good ideas without being shaken from our foundations by the winds of fashion, impurity, and the modern diseases of ‘baring it all’ to gain popularity.  If we stood with other trees as a forest of sensible beings, we could withstand almost any storm.


As it is, we are not trees.  We are—one by one—subject to the vagaries of time, chance, and circumstance.  One man fights a fire and burns while another stands back and clamors for help to rebuild—not considering what one man has sacrificed to help his neighbor.  No, we can stand with others of like mind, but we live or die as individuals.  We can share our knowledge and understanding, or we can stand aloof and judge others.  But the Master still provides rain in due season on the just as well as the unjust—on the single tree as well as to the forest.  It’s a wonder that the trees don’t look at us aghast at the possibilities that we waste.

Friday, April 10, 2009


Sooner or later we all get around to hoping for something, even if it is just a good night’s sleep.  Texans have been hoping for rain for so long that our preachers have shiny knees on their pants legs.  On the way to Decatur and back today we ran through the smoky smell from the range fires that have devastated thousands of acres of grassland and some small communities.  It’s horrible to contemplate the loss of life involved in this particular fire.  It wasn’t just cattle, horses, sheep, goats, and a few armadillos—we lost good folks as well.  Range fires can engulf an area faster than a bullwhip can snap, but this one was whipped by winds that hit 70 mph.


Reading online tonight, I found the suggestion that at least one fire in Oklahoma was set by arsonists.  On the side of the road outside Bellevue where the Stoneburg-Montague fire began, we watched the police who are arson specialists going over that site.  If someone set that fire on purpose, the person is guilty of murder.  But even if a fire starts out of nature’s storehouse of surprises, the results can be just as deadly.


My horse at home stayed in our backyard and had the run of the entire area.  She could trot around and graze or just roll around in the grass—what there was of it.  One night I heard her screaming.  Yes, a horse can scream.  When I went outside to check on the horse, I realized that she was not the only one screaming.  The horse was about to hit a fence when I caught her and held her down, but the screaming continued.  A man who lived in a two-story house behind us was screaming as he burned to death.  That was a nightmare in wide-awake stereophonic sound.  I had always liked the young man and his family, and to know that he was hurting like that just about made me sick.  I knew by the next morning that he had been murdered—the fire was set intentionally.  But the men who ran the murderers out of town could not bring back the man for his family.  They bulldozed the house so his parents would not have to see what was left.


Losing a home, a vehicle, even livestock and family pets would be enough to hurt a person for a very long time.  But to lose a family member stays with a person from now on.  We don’t forget those we love.  And we don’t forget our friends.  We know in our minds that hurting stops with death for someone who is gone, but our hurting will be with us unless we can remind ourselves of the good things in that life.


Today we saw areas which had burned back a few months ago.  The old growth was burnt off, the new grass was coming up, and the cattle were grazing on it.  We have learned that fire is sometimes good for the land and its growth.  We just forget sometimes that we are only borrowing a few spots of God’s green earth while we live here.  If we are careful, we can live in peace with the land and the elements.  If we are careless . . .we can forecast the future all too easily.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Smell That Wonderful . . .

One day this week we had a cloud of smoke out of Archer County that looked like a good fog rolling over the end of the lake and across the hospital grounds.  It didn’t take too long for the firefighters to put that one out, but it got a few structures before it was all over.  Today we heard that part of Archer County had to be evacuated when another fire roared through between Archer City and Lakeside City.  Now you talk about it being hard to breathe!  If those firefighters didn’t have some breathing apparatus, they should have.  We were sneezing, choking, and trying to keep our eyes from watering—and we are several miles from that fire.


We had made plans earlier to go pick up a grandson.  We were to meet the son-in-law in Decatur.  It was going to be late, and I already had an allergy headache, so I called the daughter back and asked if we could wait and get him tomorrow.  Boy!  I am glad we waited.  The highways were closed, the towns were being evacuated, and we might not have been able to get back home tonight until the smoke cleared.  Maybe that headache was a very real blessing.


Normally we get high winds just about any spring.  It is so dry these days that I just open the back door and change layers of dust.  Dad called and said that he and Mom were reminiscing about the dust bowl days when the dirt would fly right in at every crack and make little piles.  THEN Mom wiped the table off and got a good layer of dust this afternoon.  Later she took a wet rag to the west windows and got mud pies.  One thing about our weather—it’s entertaining.


It’s Easter weekend, and we will have the grandsons for a while.  I hope to explain to the youngest one what the egg symbolizes.  An empty egg means that what was once inside is now no longer held there.  Maybe he will listen long enough to understand that the last enemy was defeated 2000 years ago.  It is wonderful to have the excuse to teach the story that matters.  Yes, the birth was important—necessary to the rest of the scenario—but the best part is yet to come.  That is the story I will enjoy telling this weekend.


Blessings to one and all.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Burned Out!

Back when England and Scotland were under a feudal government, a landholder wanting to get rid of one of the families on his land for any reason would simply go throw a torch on the straw or corn shock roof.  He ‘fired’ the squatter or sitter on his property without having to murder anyone or without having to send for the sheriff and pay him to remove the family.  Now that is the story the way I heard it, anyway.  It is the origin of the word ‘fired.’  Most people who are let go from a job now might as well throw in the towel because they will lose everything just as effectively as if the hovel they live in had been burnt to the ground—especially if the family is in debt.


The neighbor across the street came to us last night and said that his brother had lost everything in a fire down in Clyde—close to Abilene.  I remember seeing the name of the town from a trip we made for a Keep Texas Beautiful conference that we attended a couple of years ago.  I thought then that it was a pretty neat name for a town or community.  That’s not much different from Charlie or some of the other weird names we give our communities—Mable Dean or Dean Dale.  Shaking head here…


In considering what the man must be experiencing after such a loss, I remembered talking to my great-grandmother once about the smells that we liked.  I told her my favorite smells were wood smoke and pipe tobacco.  She laughed at me and said that I had not ever had to be around them constantly with those smells in everything from my clothes to my hair.  She said that she had cooked on a wood stove and smelled that old kind of tobacco for years.  Then she went on to tell me about losing her home to a chimney fire twice.  With not a clean cloth to wipe her babies face, she just sat down and cried.  I could only imagine.


Losing a home to a fire or to a tornado—there isn’t that much difference—has to be heartbreaking.  The neighbor’s brother didn’t have insurance, so he has nothing to use to start over.  And to add insult to injury, a man came and wanted to bulldoze what was left and caved in the septic tank!  That will be just one more expense to consider if he tries to rebuild.  This is the same man who had to have surgery a few years ago for a cancerous tumor in his leg.  This fellow doesn’t have just the best of luck.


Grass fires and tornadoes are just part of life in Texas, but a few things could make the difference if we had the will and the wherewithal to try them.  In California some of the landscapers tried to get people to plant something called an ‘ice plant’ around their homes to prevent fires from going from the grass to the house.  Of course, out there the trees and brush would catch a house on fire before the grass would even be touched.  Even so, if we keep our grass cut close and keep bushes away from the sides of the house, it is less likely that a grass fire would burn the house.

Tornadoes have no sympathy, rhyme, nor reason.  They take one house and leave the neighbor’s house.  They take the roof and leave the walls.  Or they take the trees and leave the cars.  Caprice is the name of the game.  Probably a cellar or a ‘safe room’ is about the only chance a person has of survival if a larger tornado hits like the one we had in 1979.  Foundations were about all that was left of some of those places.  Our bank was gone the next morning after the storm, but the vault where the cashiers had hidden was still standing.  Now THAT was a safe room!


I suppose it will always be true that ‘time, chance, and circumstance’ comes to all men.  But if we can see it coming, I would fight the fire and hide from the storm.  Maybe it is a good thing the neighbor wasn’t at home.  With his luck, he would have fought the fire and had a heart attack!



Monday, April 6, 2009


Fang listens to old “Perry Mason” movies on his headphones while we are here in the office together.  I really appreciate his consideration in using the headphones because, even though I enjoyed Perry Mason in its day, I can’t concentrate on what I am doing with the movie in full volume.  However, the commercials that run on the computer along with the show come on loud enough that I have difficulty ignoring them.  And boy do they ever need to be ignored!


When the Super Bowl comes around each year, I wait for the commercials.  That is the best part of the weekend.  Usually Budweiser or one of the main sponsors has some nice ones.  I still think about herding cats across the hills even though I can’t remember what the commercial originally sponsored.  And then there’s that little lizard and the silly duck!  Oh boy!  Those are worth watching for the humor.


It has long been my contention that the people who design commercials should be designing our educational system as well.  Half of today’s education is simply rote memorization.  I made a song out of the multiplication tables when I was a kid and think of them and the alphabet in about the same way—necessary evils to getting things accomplished.  But someone with a real sense of adventure began a show that included some little ditty called ‘conjunction junction, what’s your function.’  My students used to sing it in class and laugh about it.  All I can say is that if it helped them remember how to use their language easily, it was great!


Most commercials, however, just irritate the wham out of me.  One that shows on the computer along with the excessive volume has some old girl jumping up and down saying “Who’s your mama?”--or some member of the family.  It is supposed to be advertising basketball or something of that nature, but I guarantee that I would not wear even a “give me” t-shirt for anything that uses such repulsive advertising.  Bleah!  Another one has some guy acting like a complete idiot in an airport.  That is the kind of commercial that simply does not “fly.”


I suppose it is just as easy to forget the product being featured on a good commercial as it is one that is irritating [cat herding, for instance], but why a company would accept irritating commercials in an attempt to sell their products is beyond my understanding.  Inform, invite, intrigue would be my suggestion for the basis of good commercials.  But don’t yell at us or portray men or women as complete idiots!  The baby doing an e-trade is MUCH better than that bunch of idiots gathered around the cubicle making fun of someone who is talking about some sweet 16 or something.  Who cares?  The kid is cute.  The cubicle crowd is pathetic.


Obviously I don’t plan to advertise anything in the near future.  If I were to advertise anything, I would use Harley B to exhibit excitement.  He does the Boston Terrier routine of excitement perfectly even if he does weigh in at 90 pounds and stand as tall as a Labrador.  For calm and cool collections, I would use OliverTwisted and a picture of his claws.  He knows how to use them.  Yes, maybe no one would pay to get my advertising skills, but at least the ideas wouldn’t irritate the whim wham out of anyone—unless, of course, the person didn’t care for dogs or cats.  And everyone knows what we think of those who don’t love dogs and cats…..

Saturday, April 4, 2009

The Potatoes

It’s strange how our memories of the same events are never exactly the same as for those who were also there.  For instance, my parents once ‘rescued’ a mother and her six children from starvation—and, in the case of the mother, from insanity.  The woman was terribly depressed, but she managed to call my mother and asked her to come get her children.  She was going to die and wanted my mother to raise her children.  Had Mom and Dad left the woman alone, she probably would have died—one way or the other.  As it was, I have no idea how they got that woman and her six children in the car and brought them home from Okla-doggone-homa.

A friend of the family, Pauline Simmons, agreed to take my brother and the woman’s two boys into her home with her son.  That left my parents with the woman, her four children, me and the parents in a three-bedroom home.  I don’t remember how they did it, but it had to have been crowded.  The funny part that I remember was the potatoes, however.  Mom had to take the woman and the youngest girl to the doctor.  The child was suffering from malnutrition, and the woman didn’t look as if she could live with just bones and skin holding her together.  Anyway, Mother left the rest of us girls at the house and had Grandmother come stay with us until she was able to get back.  I don’t remember how Mom got to Henrietta to see the doctor, but Grandmother stayed with us and ‘supervised’ what we were doing in the kitchen.

Now I had been trained since a pup to do what Mom had told me the way she had told me to do whatever.  She had pointed at a bag of potatoes and told me to peel and cook them.  Grandmother helped a bit, but she began to protest after half the bag was peeled.  I told her we had to do the whole bag and cook them.  We did.  Almost as soon as Mom came in the door, Grandmother began to apologize to Mom for letting me cook that entire bag of potatoes.  Mom laughed and said it would take every one of them.  It did.  Not one bite remained of those potatoes, and Grandmother was simply amazed.  Now those were some hungry kids.  I don’t remember if the boys came to our house to eat or if Pauline fed them, but they probably came to our house.

As I sit here, I wonder what the smallest child remembers from that time or if she would even remember the time she lived with us.  I can’t even remember how long they stayed.  And she was just a little thing, so she probably doesn’t even remember it.  The last time I saw her, she was a police officer and definitely did not look malnourished.  But she did not want to talk to me, so maybe she has her own memories.

Today a woman came over to our table at CiCi’s and hugged me.  I knew she was one of my former students.  She had trouble remembering my last name, but she told me that the transcription that I made her slave over had finally been put to good use.  I was glad that she had trouble remembering my name since hers was beyond my recall.  She introduced her daughter to me and told me that her daughter was finding my English grammar book helpful in her classes.  Her comment made me feel good.  Then I heard her tell her mother later, “She is the teacher who always told us that she was meaner than a snake.”  It amuses me that I get hugs from so many ‘snake lovers.’  But then, I don’t remember ever handling any mean snakes—a few uninvited ones, maybe.

Anyway, we all remember things about our experiences differently depending on our perspective and how things affect us at the time.  The young woman who hugged me today must have enjoyed her experiences in my classroom—slave labor and all.  The policewoman who stayed with us when she was a little girl may not remember those days at all, or she may have bad memories of that time in her life.  What we hold near and dear is what is important in my estimation.  The rest is gone and past.  If we care to resurrect fear, pain, and resentment, or if we cherish good memories, it is our own choice.  But you can just bet your boots that one woman's box of buttons will contain a different set of memories than mine or anyone else’s that I knew when I was younger.  Matching buttons to button holes is difficult enough; matching memories is even harder.  If a memory suits one’s mood, why bother rearranging the buttonholes?

Friday, April 3, 2009

A Dry Spring


When a cloud comes up, we always think of rain and dread storms.  We have had several storm clouds lately, but not much rain.  It reminds me of the dry spring out on the farm.  At one time the spring fed some wild rose bushes out in the east pasture.  The grass was always green around the area, but the ground was never wet.  A small hackberry tree grew near the spring.


I call it a spring, yet I never saw water flow from it.  It had been dry all the days of my memory.  But Granddad wanted water out in that field and tried to get a water well dug where the spring had been.  I don’t remember if he and dad tried to drop auger the hole or if granddad just dug down, but I can almost bet Dad tried to drop auger it for him.  They dug several holes one year in various places on those 160 acres.  It was pretty disappointing.  The locations looked so promising, and the water was so desperately needed.


Now any rancher or farmer will tell you that water is a necessity for livestock and crops.  Nothing grows without water.  And many an old farmer or rancher has gone to great lengths to provide that needed commodity for his little enterprise.  Lyndon Johnson said the best fertilizer a man could put on his land was the imprint of his boots, but he still needs water.  Several conservation reservoirs had their beginnings under his instigation.  The man knew that the land would be here long after politicians went to glory in a sand bag.  And the land would always need water.


This nation holds a promise of growth and new beginnings; it has right from the start.  Sometimes things have looked like that dry spring out on the farm—not fulfilling the promise or the need.  But overall, we have always had what it takes to grow and become strong.  It’s important that we realize that it is not money that makes this nation grow.  Yes, the economy of the nation is a reflection of some of its parts, and right now that reflection is pretty doggone muddy.  But the spirit of America from the start has been an individualism and self-reliance that almost flabbergasts the rest of the world.  We take on personal responsibility and even reach down to lend a helping hand as it is needed.  Sometimes the hand is given to a single individual, and sometimes it is given to an entire nation or continent as it was after WWI and WWII.


But one of the neatest things found in America is the ingenuity of its people.  Today we passed several old homes that had been allowed to go vacant in Clay County.  New homes come with mortgages, credit, and high expectations.  Old homes come with complications.  How long it will take for someone to put families in those homes is not as important as the fact that it WILL happen eventually.  Unless they burn to the ground or blow away, those old homes are just as valuable as one of the newer ones.  It just takes some fertilizer—the hands of the owners on its walls and floors—to make it grow.  The water—the spirit of free enterprise—is already available.  Maybe we will get to watch those homes blossom again soon.