Sunday, November 5, 2017

All Sweetness and Light

Dear Blog Reader

I hope that this finds you doing well. It leaves my keyboard trying to come to terms with being beatified. No one more was more surprised than I. My sect is not big on saintly things. I had no aspirations to sainthood but there I was earning my wings like Clarance in “It's a Wonderful Life.”

 I learned of my spiritual promotion on the way home from work the other night. I was in the process of stealing (no the irony isn’t lost on me) several copies of Branches from the self service paper dispenser at work. Branches is a small freebie newspaper published semi monthly here in Indianapolis. Based on their advertising, I am assuming that their target audience is New Age believers. With that kind of spiritual pedigree, I am assuming that they have the expertise to make judgements about the hierarchical ranking of spiritual beings. 

So yes, I was taking several papers from the dispenser to shred up to feed to my worm farm that I keep in the garage. They do yeomen’s work chewing up our compost. I take the newspapers and grind them up into bite size nuggets. This balances out the carbon-nitrogen levels that make my worms very happy. I figure that the stealing is actually a good thing. At least, I justify that stealing in this case is a good thing. Everyone is helped all around. Branches can charge a higher ad rate to “Classes at New Age People” because the readership is so high. The paper’s aren’t ending up in the landfill. And the worms benefit from the karmic bs. It is a win win win.

Right there on the front of the July - August 2017 edition, are a bunch of bee keepers with angel wings. I never studied iconography in school but even I could get the picture with their graphical representations. Beekeepers are doing the Lord’s work. I am a beekeeper. Therefore, I am doing the Lord’s work; hence the spiritual promotion. No one was more surprised that I. I went to work that morning, a worker bee in my cubicle, can came out a beekeeping angel. Who knew?

Actually, I am not much of a beekeeper. I have an expensive hobby that involves keeping boxes with frames of wax foundation. Some bees hang out and do what they do. I know that there are beekeepers out there who are in their hives every other week from April through September. They are searching for the queen, treating for parasitic mites, and naming all of the new larvae. They know every time that pesticides are being sprayed in a four county radius. They are harvesting honey after the spring flow and the fall flow (if there is enough nectar). There are even beekeepers who make hard candy to put in the hive to help the bees get through the winter. These people are keeping bees. I just happen to know where some bees hang out.

These are all important tasks. They make the hive stronger and less prone to sudden hive collapse. That is a good thing. The fewer hives that collapse the more bees we will have. And since flowers are horrible at unaided sex, the more bees that we have the more flower sex there is and hence more fruits and vegetables. Some predict that the world order is threatened by the factors that contribute to sudden hive collapse. Beekeepers by their actions help or single handedly prevent civilization’s collapse. You deserve those wings buddy. Saving the world through flower sex is certainly more important than what that chump Clarence did by massaging the space time continuum while Jimmy Stewart got his head right. Let the bells ring I say.

I have a theory about why the bees are having trouble. Bees forage for pollen in a three mile radius from the hive. That is a lot of space to cover with those little tiny wings. Who watched bees for long enough to figure that out? And how did the researcher know that one bee flew that far? What if you were watching a bee and he flew close to another bee that was whose hive was a mile and a half away. The researcher got confused which bee they were supposed to be watching and switched their focus mid flight so that bees really only fly a mile and a half. I know difficult right. But I digress. So bees can supposedly forage up to 3 miles away for pollen. There should be plenty of pollen by any standard to keep a hive flourishing with in a circle that large.

But wouldn’t it be better if the pollen were closer? What would happen if we let the dandelions take over our yards and the bees only had to fly 7 feet to get pollen instead of three miles? The same principle applies in our every day lives. Let’s say you had an option of keeping your refrigerator in your kitchen or in Aunt Betty’s kitchen 3 miles away. Sure you could get in the car or on your bike and navigate the three miles for the sandwich fixings. You could survive on that. But would you get all fat and sassy that way. Heck no! You would get your sandwich made, get it back to the house, sit down at the table, say a little prayer and then cuss because you forgot to put any mayo on your roast beef sandwich. 

Are you going to get up from the table and get all of the way over to Aunt Betty’s house for a little dab of mayo? NO! No mayo is going to make you skinnier. And forget about a mid-evening ice-cream sundae.  You aren’t going to get fat and happy doing that. No you are going to be skinny and puny and won’t have much energy for that birds and the bees thing. In short, if your refrigerator is kept three miles away your hive is going to collapse. So I get out there and plant as many high pollen plants that I can. I encourage that first flush of dandelions in the spring and keep planting buckwheat until 3 weeks before frost in the fall. We have mint plants, sunflowers, white clover through out the front yard. Yes, Sharritt Farms is a fat bee paradise. We have “caution o-bee-se in the area” signs posted all around the farm. Sharritt bees have it good.

Am I doing the Lord’s work? I have my doubts. It is important to not read too much into all of the little things we do that just happens help a little bit. I think the world suffers because we beatify the little things; things that just have to be done. It probably started with participation trophies in little league. Yeah, we need to get in there, do our best, play hard, and pay attention. We have to do that for the health of the team and for that matter for our own enjoyment. But that doesn’t make us a star. Bee keeping doesn’t make me a saint. It doesn’t even make me a good person.

It just makes me a guy who loves a little honey in his tea.

Take care.


Sunday, September 3, 2017

Gore your own Ox

Dear Blog Reader

I hope that this finds you doing well. I am fine. This is a blog that was supposed to occur about 4 weeks ago. It was to proclaim my recovery from attendance at the Indiana State Fair. It was to be a pull the pin on the grenade and let er rip kind of blog. I had outrage. I had indignation. I was aggrieved, exasperated and piqued. It was going to be a doozy. However, it was eclipsed by the astrophysical equivalent of shadow puppets. 

So here I am a nearly a month after the fact, sitting down to write about the state fair and I must admit that I have lost some of my steam. 

I had not attended the great Indiana State Fair in several years. During my formative, it had provided an annual milestone for the Sharritt's. No matter, how much work needed to be done on the farm, dad would load up the family and we would head for the fair. We were poor back then. So this would have been the budget for our day at the fair.
Car parking $5.00
Admission $5.00 “You kids will be okay in the trunk now shut up and stop kicking the lid.”
Tractor tram ride $$2.50: ride from the machinery field to the hog barn.
Lunch $10.00 Toasted cheese sandwich and shake.
Saltwater taffy $2.00.
Grand total $24.50; Leaving $0.50 in our entertainment budget for August and September.

Yes, the Indiana State Fair was a celebration of Hoosier Agriculture. We would roam the equipment field and the antique machinery field. We would watch the thresher machine demonstration with dad regaling us with stories of his time with a threshing crew. It was quick juxtaposition the year when we wandered from the threshing demonstration to a combine that had a cab large enough to hold the entire family. I do not know which company used the small house model for combine cabs, but it never caught on. The extraverted farmer niche just wasn’t big enough to sustain their model. 

We would wonder over to the Bobcat booth where we would marvel at the 5 foot deep hole that they could dig in a couple of hours, and rue the moment when we realized that the door to the cow stall that had to be forked out by hand was too small to allow the passage of this wonderful piece of labor saving technology. Oh how we would dream about how fast the foot and a half of cow poop could be hauled if that door were six inches wider when cleaning those stalls every spring and fall. With each fork full of aromatic bedding, we would curse our ancestors for not being visionaries when building that cow stall and we would covet a Bobcat every summer at the fair.

Yes, we would marvel at the size of the world’s largest boar, but only after a mid afternoon lunch at the Dairy barn; toasted cheese and strawberry shake. There might be some sniggering between the cousins as we vainly tried to cover up our perceived inadequacies when in the presence of such an example of scrotal superiority as we left the swine barn. We would marvel at the Clydesdales and groan with boredom as we made our way through the dairy barn. After milking 65 cows twice a day for years, the dairy barn held no interest. We had literally seen it all when it came to dairy cows.

I know that you are thinking “Roger this is nostalgia not outrage.” You are correct. But if you are a long time reader of “You Said What, Roger?”, you would remember that I have had a hate hate relationship with 4-H, and Lord knows the State Fair is the Super Bowl of 4-H. However, I must admit that 4-H baggage isn’t what I wanted to rant about. I had an enjoyable time at the fair that afternoon and evening in early August. 

It was a different experience for me. After years of boycotting the Indiana State Fair celebrating hot tubs and whirlpools we returned this year. Bev and I have once again listened to the call of the end of the driveway. Read my blog from September 12 of last year if you need some context. This kiddo who is living with us came ready made with 4 friends. They had never been to the fair. So we loaded into the car and went to the fair.

These are city kids. Their fair experience had to be much different than my old fair experience. In ten years of attending the fair, I never once made it to the midway. Remember the fair budget from above; not much wiggle room. Things are different now. We pay the 15 year old boys money for working in the garden and getting things ready for our son’s wedding earlier in the year. They hit the midway with the disposable income that only working teens living at home have. That money was not going to burn a hole in their pocket. 

At this point, you might expect some ranting and raving. However, I quickly slipped into catatonia. As the lovely Miss Beverly pointed out, “we live such contemplative lives that all of this noise and blinking lights is just too much for us.” Too much it was. I quickly found a bench and sat down with Bev. We told the urchins that they had to check in with us every 15 minutes, and we just sat there slowly rocking back and forth hoping that it would all end soon. If I ever become a state legislator, I am going to force the following change on the Indiana State Fair. They have to have more benches to sit down on and so contemplative can wait while the end of the world approaches.

But I am not even going to rant about that. Although, I could rant a little bit about sitting 150 ft from a game when the operator needed a thesaurus. For two hours, we listened to her say “every winner gets their choice.” She never once wandered off script to “any prize you want”, or “take any prize” or “the choice is yours.” I don’t know what stopped her from saying “shoot me now, I can’t take it any more!”

I was okay with that. The kids had fun. It was a new experience for them. They showed the proper amount of awe for 15 year old boys while looking at the world’s largest boar. I only chortled a little when they said that they didn’t want to take their strawberry shake and toasted cheese sandwich with us while we walked through the dairy barn because “they didn’t like the smell.” I wish that I still had a picture of my father in poop stained t-shirts that weren’t completely covered by a full length rubber apron that we wore while milking cows. Oh well, I guess that it isn’t all bad that the youth of America don’t know how their food is produced.

SO ROGER WHAT WERE YOU GOING TO RANT ABOUT? Take it easy. I was going to rant about an Indianapolis Star article the following day by a Ruth Servens. She was doing an in depth analysis of State Fair Finances. She found that the State Fair doesn’t get as much money from mid-way rides as surrounding state fairs do. It appears that the fair board leaves $ on the table in order to receive a guaranteed income year after year. Bad for us when attendance is up 19% like this year but good for us when it is down 16% like last year. And in the middle of the article was this little gem about the $2.4 million annual subsidy the state fair receives annually; “at roughly $2.4 million a year, it's a tiny portion of Indiana's $31 billion two-year budget, but it's money that can't be spent on other underfunded services.”

Yeah, underfunded services like the $713,000,000 stadium for the colts to pay in, or the $44,000,000 that the pacers have received over the past 4 years. Give me a break. 

Indiana Agriculture generates $44 billion in revenue in direct agricultural sales and ancillary economic activity a year. $2.5 million is too much to spend in celebrating that. The agricultural impact to local services if felt even greater in Indiana. As property taxpayers, I know that my farm pay 10 times more in taxes than my neighbor does. Yet, both households only put one family through the local schools. We both go to the same library and fund one municipal pool. We both help pay for one county court.  Yes, farmers are getting too much of a good thing.

You and Ms. Servens may believe that the state taxpayer has no business celebrating the accomplishments of a free market enterprise. She may be correct and if she is then let the colts build their own underfunded barn to pay in. Or let the pacers find someplace else to make up for their $4 million annual short fall. 

But I bet that Ms. Servens employer disagrees with that plan. The howl that would go up from the pages of the Star would drown out that carnival barker if a legislator had the temerity to suggest that the colts and pacers pay their own way. There would be 25 references to “Naptown” in describing the downtown environment if those two teams went away. Plus, and correct me if I am wrong but the state  has roughly half a billion in its rainy day fund and last year ran about a $50 million surplus. So by definition in a representative democracy, nothing was underfunded.

It just gripes me to no end when uninformed people go about casting stones insisting that world line up the way that they believe it should. It especially galls me when they blithely try to determine whose ox should be gored and whose should be spared.

Take care.


Sunday, August 27, 2017

Lessons of Astrophysics

Dear Blog Reader

I hope that this finds you doing well. I am fine. For all of those who readily accepted the media’s tales of doom and gloom, who hovered around loved ones, exhausting themselves in an effort to keep them safe, there was nothing special about the eclipse that will make you blind. The opportunity for retinal burn exists every day. It was just as dangerous on Sunday. It was just as dangerous on Tuesday. It will be just as dangerous all 2416 days until the next solar eclipse in the US.  To which, I am happy to say that the Sharritt Air BnB is now taking reservations. Yes, we are pleased to say that SharrittLand is in the direct path of totality. We, once again, will be left totally in the dark. We will not guarantee that the cloud cover will allow you to see the eclipse. However, we do have good internet connection so you will be able to see it on the HDTV that we will purchase with the funds you so graciously provide.

 It is sad that someone probably did not believe all of the warnings about the brightness of the sun and stared at it and consequently destroyed their eye sight. We are all somewhere on the bell curve. A few people went into the basement and covered their heads and a few said “we don’t need no stinking glasses.” The rest of us to one degree or another took precautions and enjoyed the eclipse and kept our eye sight. I personally, was probably the only person and my large office building carrying a welding mask into work. I could not get it jammed into my back pack. Thankfully, I was able to evade security long enough to get inside. 

I remember an eclipse from my childhood. In school, the  “Weekly Reader” was our town crier. Oh, those were the halcyon days of print media. The scions of the Hearst Media Conglomerate were bringing up another generation of newspaper readers. The Weekly Reader warned us that we could go blind staring at the sun during the eclipse and a few weeks later, a follow up “I told you so” appeared; reporting on a girl whose sight had returned after losing it looking at the eclipse. Bible Belt miracle? The regenerative power of the human body? Hoax? Hysteria? Who knows? It made great Weekly Reader fodder.

Getting back to the over reaction in some circles to the possibility of injury from the solar eclipse. Some schools kept their children inside during the eclipse to protect them. Some even kept them after regular school hours because ironically that pesky sun doesn’t get on board with daylight savings time. If the sun had believed in DST the eclipse would have been over by the end of school and the sun would have lost its super natural ability to make you blind only during an eclipse.

Why do we give the eclipse super natural powers? It is an interesting phenomena. It happens so seldom that to some appears to be random, to others it appears to be super natural; a sign of the end times. But it isn’t random; it isn’t super natural; it isn’t prophetic at all. It is just physics; actually astrophysics. But you get my meaning. When you have the sun doing its thing over and over again without any concern for the earth (we are not the center of the universe), and you have the moon doing its thing over and over again with concern for the earth (we are the center of it’s universe), things from time to time line up. So the eclipse wasn't random. If it were, we wouldn’t be able to sell you space at SharrittLand AirBnB in 2024. We know that it is going to happen.

We also know that the sun’s intensity doesn’t increase retinal burning levels during an eclipse. The sun has been emitting photons at nearly the same intensity for about 4.6 billion years. Those photons go screaming out in all directions and a tiny percentage manage to hit us. They warm our cats in windowsills on cold winter mornings. They trigger complex chemical reactions in plant cells taking carbon dioxide and releasing the carbon emitting oxygen for us to respire and hook a carbon back on to it. That reaction does a lot of other things like making your sweet corn sweet but I don’t have time to teach you all of the things you should have learned along time ago. Those photons react with your skin and manufacture vitamin D, which does something important like help you absorb calcium and phosphorus. Once again kids pay attention in school.

So yes, the sun is a good thing. But beware children, it will still do you great harm. It isn’t out to get you. It is just out there emitting photons. It's intensity allows all of those good things to happen. The intensity for the good things will also blind you if you look at it.

So remember. Kids keep your heads down, and nature isn’t out to kill you. It just seems that way.

Take Care.


Sunday, August 6, 2017

Winner of the 2017 Limerick Costest

Dear Blog Reader and Limerick Writers.

Yes siree it is that time again. Each year at the end of July the lovely Miss Beverly in recognition of Doyle Hoover’s (her father) birthday, calls together the tribe an others in the limerick challenge. Doyle was a dairy farmer by calling and a limerick writer because farming didn’t fill every moment of his waking hours. Actually, have you ever milked 40 cows two times a day for 40 years? I haven’t either. But I did a stint (evenings only) for 5 years from seventh grade until I made my escape after high school. That two hours (or 4 hours 2x a day) every day leaves one with an internal dialog that takes years of counseling to make go away. Doyle turned his internal dialog to good by working on limericks that he would share. Some he shared with everyone. These G and PG versions were cute and delivered with a grin and twinkle in the eye. The bawdier versions were delivered with a twinkle and impish grin from ear to ear.

Limerick isn’t only about a short five line story with rhyme. It is a slave to cadence: AABBA if you read the text books. And the words have to fit together with a certain rhythm. I was working on a limerick exhorting more participants last Saturday night. I had the 9 syllable first line but it would not work. The rhythm was all wrong. It wouldn’t work until I found another 9 syllables to fit the correct rhythm. I think that dairy farming uniquely trains a person for writing limerick. Not only are you in a barn with no one to talk to for 4 hours a day, freed to let your mind wander, you are in this environment surrounded by machinery that counts out a beat with the cadence of a militant metronome. The machine is called a pulsator. It is complicated and and explanation will not get us closer to the announcement of our winner this evening. Just know that listening to it day after day you would know all there is to know about meter and rhythm.

So Doyle was unambiguously trained to write and enjoy limericks. He knew that they were not only created for his own enjoyment but for the enjoyment of others. It is a shame that we didn’t know enough to write them down or tape them for posterity. We can only shine a dim candle on his craft by whole heartedly throwing our oar in the water and giving it our best shot. Next year’s theme cliches?

And best shot it was. Thank you everyone for your efforts in this year’s. Over 40 limericks were submitted, and you did great. But this is a contest. No participation trophies here. (Or is that participation pie) There was a log jam at the top, and in the end one did rise to the top like cream in Doyle's bulk tank.

This year’s theme “animals” provided fertile ground for these budding bards. In judging them, I was struck by how many of us had our worlds expanded because our parents didn’t participate in “fixing” our animals. It seemed like our cats were particularly reproductive. Fat cats becoming thin in bedrooms and out at the barn. There were super pigs, and an animal called a squabbit. I must say when a practicing pharmacist starts writing about squabbits it may be time to step away from the dispenser. I'm just saying. There were surprised and dying ground hogs, and grand champion steers. Dogs were well represented from Iowa to a drool covered frisbee catching, tree climbing Busy and one who likes getting stuck on a retaining wall. While some pigs saved free falling damsels in distress others were my personal heros named bacon and sausage. Who knows? They maybe frozen in aisle B.

Enough of the drum roll of suspense, let’s get down to it.

Honorable Mention;
Danielle Grandholm
Watching Busy climb trees like a fool
Was fun to do after school
That dog loved to fly
Up that tree really high
To catch the frisbee smothered in drool

Cindy Pyle
Sam Ting was my favorite cat
One summer she became quite fat
I took her upstairs
Both parents unawares 
On a towel in a box she sat.

So after hours did loom
I worried about my doom
I confessed to my dad
But he never got mad
Yes, her kittens were born in my room

Lyn Ellis
We once had some pigs that were pets
Can we keep them daddy? Oh let’s
We knew what they were
By their new monikers
Sausage and Bacon, you bet.

Stephen Warner
From all around these parts
We’re bombarded with cow farts
The methane does rise
And the poor ozone dies
So we all bake in the sun like tarts.

Joyce Young
Being hauled where gloved hands would pluck her
That sly hen evaded the trucker
Dad gave her a lift
Fine eggs she did gift
And to that rig she clucked, “I’m free, sucker.”

Jim Rogers
In a lifestyle that’s suited to me.
I haul animals in my truck you see.
In boxes galore,
I deliver to the store.
You will find them in frozen aisle B.

Bill Hoover
On my Oliver Tractor, I was dishing.
Fat groundhog didn’t know he was risking
Heavy crescent wrench in hand
Babe Ruth swing I did land.
Home run or Dead varsity it’s a WIN thing.

Congratulations to all of the honorable mentions. You did great. Keep practicing and working on it. You were so close. Maybe next year will be your year.

As I wrote earlier, there are no participation awards. There is only one pie eater here.

Congratulations Stephen Warner
On the course, I golf is a squabbit
The cross of a squirrel and rabbit.
I try but I fail
To grab his red tail.
But I never quite seem to nab it.

Steve, like I said, if you are seeing squabbits you may want to step away from the pill dispenser. Great story, funny, structure and rhyme. Good work.

Until next year, when the lovely Miss Beverly puts out the call for your finest limericks . . .

Take care


Oh the Possibilities

Dearest Blog Reader.

I hope that this finds you doing well. I am fine. Although I am recovering. I know what you are saying. “That Roger he’s always recovering in his blog. Just get over it. Life isn’t that hard.” Your’e right. I embellish. I make up things. Life isn’t that hard. But you would read it if everything is fine. Nobody wants to read stories or watch TV shows about vacation days leisurely passing by, getting up at noon, sitting by the pool, reading books, going out to eat with the lovely Miss Beverly, binge watching three episodes of the Walking Dead only to go to bed and wake up on day two of vacation and start it all over again. Even when we watched Seinfeld all of those years, we didn’t want the show to be about carefree, easy breezy days. Seinfeld a show about nothing, They didn’t do the things that we did. No they killed off their fiancĂ©es with toxic wedding invitation glue. They were not being served soup by a soup Nazi, They even celebrated festivis instead of Christmas, because we don’t want to watch people do the same things that we are doing.

So yes, I am still recovering. In fact, the last blog was being composed in the middle of the chaos that I am currently letting ebb away. It was the week of Ben and Lisa’s wedding. I am sure that she will some day become known as the lovely Miss Lisa. However, that is Ben’s blog to write in another place and time should he decide that is what he wants to do. 

Yes, when I wrote five weeks ago, the Sharritt household was slipping into the chaos of wedding week. The wedding was to be a blessed affair and along the way there were ten acres of parking lot and wedding meadow to cut, a humongous tent to set up, several pizzas to eat, make up to apply, table cloths to press, (I pointed out to the lovely Miss Beverly, that yes there would come a time when that commercial cloths press with the rolling hot presses would have come in handy. But instead we left our $5 investment to rust in a farm field in Northwest Indiana where it would do us no good some 30 years later), and my favorite, the traditional rehearsal day sports extravaganza where we all gather around the bride and groom playing risky sports on uneven ground daring the fates to give the bride or groom a twisted ankle or black eye. When it finally works those will be very special wedding pictures. We’ve come close. We did have an aunt who fractured her arm for one wedding. We will keep trying.

There is a beautiful 200 year old oak tree that is on the farm tucked away in a small valley. By all rights, it should have been logged out 80 years ago. The family that owned the farm before selling it to my grandfather, logged all of the good timber before the sale. They left about 15 old oaks that were hollow and not fit for lumber. Those old trees have fallen through out the years; returning to the dust from which they sprang. In some strange over sight they left this one. Maybe it was too young at 120 years old. I have no idea. But the tree has stood through 60 years of cows pasturing under it. Idly whiling away the hot summer days under its 100 ft spread; patiently stomping a foot and twitching their tails to disturb the latest biting fly. If their constant pressure caused damaging compaction around its roots, the tree does not appear to be showing any negative effects. It still stands.

I am not sure because two events do not make trend. However, two is the only sample size available to us currently. Any how, the children of the lovely Miss Beverly like to be married under this tree. The intervening 20 years of no cattle had left a classic example of forest succession. The meadow was full of honey locust trees. I know what you are thinking “ah how beautiful and natural, trees that are named after honey.” This is a blatant example of an arborist’s false advertising. Honey locusts if properly named, would be called #@#@# thorn trees. So four years ago, we donned our leather gloves and work boots and cleared out about an acre and a half under this giant oak and had a wedding.

The entrepreneurial Sharritt’s had visions of event planning grandeur. Who wouldn’t want to get married under a two hundred year old oak tree surrounded by nature’s beauty? Indeed, we did have some interest from a few brides who could see the beautiful possibilities. Unfortunately, they were always accompanied by their mothers who could not get past the possibilities of rain, mosquitoes, and 90 degree heat with 95% humidity. So we have set those plans aside and given our money making schemes a rest. In spite of that, last fall Ben and Lisa said that they would like to get married under the tree next July. And just like in Brigadoon, a vision started to emerge. The first step in forest succession is a stand of golden rod killing all of the grass. So last September the weeds were whacked and grass seed was sown. There were a few thorn trees that needed attacking and this spring a regular rotation of mowing the meadow, the wedding parking lot and the reception parking lot: 10 acres in all. No wonder the old farm management loved having cows doing the work for them.

In the picture, you can see the Friday morning picture of the big tree, all the chairs and the wedding arch. You
can’t see is the 3 inch thunderstorm on the horizon at 6:00 pm. That evening. You can’t see the excellent storm water system that the neighboring little town has installed. It is excellent because it dumps all of that water on our farm and it meanders its way to Fall Creek . . . right through the middle of all of those chairs. 

On wedding day, at 7:30 in the morning, I walked down to the wedding meadow and discovered the 4 inch deep stream of water running right through the seating area. I hope that the guests remembered to bring their wellies. High heels were definitely out of the accessory possibilities. 

What do you do with 4 inches of water and 9 hours before the wedding? You bail. You grab a friend, 2 pumps, and build a dam as it enters the meadow and pump the surface water away. After an hour, you realize that two pumps are not enough and grab a shovel, walk 20 yards into the woods and put skills that you acquired in kindergarten to work. You dig a 200 yard trench around the wedding meadow, diverting the water away from the place where 200 well dressed people will be sitting in four hours. Then you go to where the water is leaving and you dig another trench draining the residual water away from the sitting area.

Don’t worry. We moved the chairs a little bit, and no one lost a shoe in the mud. The wedding went off without a hitch. It was a beautiful day. I sit down in my front row seat, looked at my step counting watch and realized that I had logged 20,000 steps and I hadn’t started dancing.

The Kozak's, Low’s and Sharritt’s are blessed to have children that see the wonderful possibilities in life. Children who see the beauty and majesty of a 200 year old tree spread out over the meadow. Children who can discount the risks to get to the benefits. Children who know it may be 90 degrees on July 8 but that meadow will be a beautiful place to get married. Children who know that bad things will happen. Children who know that gulley washers happen. Children who know that challenges can be worked through, addressed and overcome. Children who know that there are shovels for that.  Actually, we are blessed to have young adults who can stay in the moment and recognize the struggle is part of the beautiful journey.

Lisa and Ben may your ditch digging be as blessed as your I dos.

Take care


Thursday, July 6, 2017

Thinking Outside the Box

Dear Blog Reader

I hope that this finds you doing well. I am fine. This week, I am recovering from a 100 mile bike ride through northeastern Indiana. It is interesting country; very flat and for this 100 miles very windy. What’s the deal with that? It has been a very windy June. I must admit during the middle of the crushing 25 miles into a 15 mph wind I longed for those heady No-Zone action days; those days when the wind dies, the flags go limp, and the smog hangs in the valley obscuring the tree line to the west. I may not be able to breathe but its better than riding into a 15 mph wind.

The ride is up in Adam’s county. I know it hardly seems fair that Eve wouldn’t have a county also. But its Adam’s county. I don’t name them. I just report on the names that they happen to have. This is the second time that I have ridden this ride. It is called the Flat Fifty. Yes, it is ironic when I wear a T-shirt proclaiming that I rode in the Flat fifty; especially as the word flat goes up and over the bulge of my gut. I should probably stick with the Hilly Hundred shirts. At least there will be no false advertising.

Wind aside, I do love this ride. It is farm country. It is also Amish country. It appears that horses hooves and buggies do not put much wear and tear on the roads. So the roads are very nice. I was a bit disappointed with this ride however. Three years ago when I rode, several entrepreneurial Amish youth sold cookies. This time I was prepared and took extra money and alas no Amish youth selling cookies. I managed.

It appears that Saturday afternoon is mow the lawn time in Amish land. It does take some time to get used to seeing a riding mower in Amish country. Imagine going out to the garage and getting out the Clydesdale and hooking up to the sickle bar mower and riding it around the yard. If you have ever used a sickle bar mower, you would know that it had to be very sharp to cut an inch off of 3 inch grass. But they did a good job; nice and smooth. It also appeared that Saturday afternoon was some sort of social affair in Amish country. Buggy after buggy was loaded down with the family with one lap holding a covered dish.

What does one do with 100 miles of open road and no sugar cookies? One contemplates. What does one contemplate? Well, I contemplate binge watching streamed TV shows. I must admit that I know very little about the topic. I have no time to binge watch. I can’t even find the time to write this blog let alone watch 100 hours of a same show all in a row. So as you can guess, I do not hold up my end of the conversation around the work water cooler. I try to explain that I don’t feel like I have the time to watch that much TV. I mean. I am 55 years old. I have 5 or 6 hobbies. If I don’t stay focused, I will have several half finished projects that my children will have to sell or burn even if I live to 150 years old. No I don’t have time to binge watch.

The lovely Miss Beverly does have a few guilty TV pleasures. The show du jour is the Walking Dead. I would explain but you know what it is. If you don’t, go stand by the water cooler at work for a few days. I do not like it. I think that I made it through one episode. That was just enough to seed my contemplation for 100 miles. I tried to tell myself that I do not like it because I am too good to enjoy a dystopian tale. But who am I kidding. I am right there for Mad Max, Zombieland (although I still think that killing Bill Murray is one of the most disturbing scenes in movie history) and the Terminator. Even my religion of choice follows an apocalyptic prophet who was sure that the end times were near. Following his lead, the movers and shakers of the cause produced four or five rapture videos to scare me out of the necking row at church camp through the pearly gates. No I am comfortable with the apocalypse. But I am very uncomfortable with The Walking Dead.

That paragraph took about 50 miles to suss out. Why don’t I like The Walking Dead? It hit me a few days later as the family was gathering together for my son Ben’s wedding. The lovely Miss Beverly isn’t the only one in our family who likes The Walking Dead. J.D., our foster kiddo is a big fan, Grace, our daughter, doesn’t like it but is addicted. With this much commonality, we had a lot to talk about. I had decided that if I were in a zombie infested apocalypse that I would want a samurai sword; light weight and long enough that you can sever that brain stem with little muss or fuss. You never have to reload it and you don’t have to worry about foraging for more ammo. I don’t think you can underestimate the length of the sword as a definite advantage. How many extras have been accidentally bitten doing their killing up close and personal? No, it is much better to keep those teeth far away. 

This brings up another question. What is the infection vector for zombie virus? You can take a bath in zombie guts without getting all glassy eyed and stiff legged but a nip on the leg and you are zombie man walking. I do not get it.

Anyhow, it was during this scintillating conversation that I figured it out. I figured out why I do not like The Walking Dead. It should be easy for these people to identify the most pressing problem of the day. The world is full of dead men walking who want to make you dead men walking. They need to be killed or is that rekilled. That is the bad news. The good news is they have almost no skills. They cannot run, jump, climb, or throw. While they have opposable thumbs they don’t appear to be able to grasp a tool to utilize to their advantage. They just shamble along hoping that a human falls over in front of them so that they can rip out the bloody parts. As a foe, they are pretty underwhelming. The only thing that they have going for them is their vast superiority in numbers. You can’t walk anywhere without some stiff legged jerk wandering up on your picnic trying to rip your throat out.

Why aren’t these people trying to kill all of the zombies? That is the crux of why I don’t like The Walking Dead. No one is focused on the real problem. Kill all of the zombies. Have we lost our industrial know how to the extent that we can’t kill zombies on a vast scale? Have we lost that can do attitude that got us to the moon, won world war 2 or found a way to fill and tie off 50 water balloons in about 30 seconds. For those trying to decide on which camp to join in the upcoming zombie infestation, I have a few ideas that you may want to use to make yourself useful.

If I found myself in a zombie dystopia, I would go to Kings Island. Those queues would be perfect. Drape the area off on three sides and set up a combine at the exit with a strobe light at the throat of the header. Turn on the lights and fire up the combine. Keep the head up about shoulder high and watch them walk into the combine. It would be just like a dandelion flower popping fest on steroids. “Mamma had a baby and its head . . .” The lovely miss Beverly is concerned that the zombies would gum up the inside of the combine. It is a fair concern. That many zombie guts would mess up your bearings and axles in a hurry. As an alternative, I suggest using a detasseler. No a detasseler has nothing to do with messing up a shriner’s parade. A detasseler is a machine with spinning blades about head height. They are used to remove the tassel, the male part of the corn, when trying to hybridize corn seed. Sure there would be a few of the vertically challenged who got through but for that there is the samurai sword. What happens when the pile of zombies is so high that alive zombies can’t get through? Easy, just put up a sign that says this ride temporarily closed for maintenance. Move your light and machine to a different ride and start up. While all of the zombies wonder off over there, get your bulldozer in there and clean up the mess and reset your trap. If you weren’t tied to the mid-west, you could go to central Florida and then have the advantage of directing the zombies by an app that told them what rides lines were the shortest.

So what does an urban dweller do with little access to high end farm implements. Don’t fear. You have come to the right blog solution. It is a bit of an indirect route to the brain stem but it will work also. Go to any ramp on the interstate system in your town, get a truck load of bottles and glass, break them from edge to edge the length of the bridge or ramp and put a strobe light in the middle. The zombies will proceed to grind themselves down until they reach their brain stems and then poof their little brain stemless skulls will be sitting in the middle waiting for you to clean up the mess with your bulldozer.

You also have plenty of sky scrapers in the big city. Simply lure them up the stairwell and set a strobe light a little over the edge. They will wonder right up there and topple over. You could probably get two birds with one stone by placing the “exit” directly above the entrance to the building. Just think how gratifying it will be when a 300 lbs zombie splats five skinny zombies down on the ground. I do think that I would direct the “exit” away from the entrance. You don’t want to block the entrance before you used up all of your terminal velocity.

And once you have the zombie threat eliminated? Well you would have more free time to stay inside and watch The Game of Thrones.

Take care.