Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Glorious Day

We have been blessed with wonderful weather recently. An inch and a half of rain  followed by temperatures in the seventies, dipping below sixty at night. It's the kind of weather people move to the mountains hoping to find.  Usually the last week of July has us wishing we'd moved to Maine or Canada but not this year.

Jenny Wren is raising her second brood this summer, behind the speaker on the porch. The hatchlings are all NPR listeners, whether they like it or not.

The hummers, too, have multiplied. I have to refill this big feeder daily.

A few late daylilies still brighten up the place.

While this giant whatever-it-is basks in the sun.

I spent most of the day outside -- tying up the tomatoes -- which are just beginning to ripen, spraying the broccoli, kale, and collards with Thuricide to kill the caterpillars that are turning the leaves to lace, doing a little weedeating -- only a little, drat it, because my back goes into spasms if I overdo. 

But what a day it was! I don't know what August will bring but these lovely cool days are like balm for the soul and nothing can take them away.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Preacher Comes to Dinner

My, if that chicken don't look good. Fried chicken in a iron skillet is a dish fit fot a king . . . or a preacher. Law, that reminds me . . . did I ever tell you about the time, oh, it was many a year ago, that the preacher came to dinner?

It was way back when Luther was alive and Cletus, he must have been nine or ten.  Well, Luther had asked the preacher to take Sunday dinner with us and it just so happened that I had a gang of young cockerels right at fryer size. So I'd butchered one early that morning and had it ready to fry when we come back from church. I had a world of other things -- it was this time of year and there was fresh roasting ears and tomatoes and cabbage for slaw and beans and yellow squash and fried okra and mashed potatoes and biscuits and I don't know what all.

And that preacher set in to eating. 'Sister Gentry,' he says, 'I love fried chicken; I mean, I can hide me some chicken."

And he commenced with the white meat and when it was all gone, he reached for a drumstick. I whispered to Cletus to run out and get another chicken and fix it for cooking right quick. That boy was such a hand to butcher things.

So Cletus brought me another young rooster and I jointed it and fried it and had it ready just as the preacher was gnawing on the last wing. He set to on the next platter, saying that there wasn't nothing better than fried chicken, hot out of the skillet and I whispered to Cletus that he best go get another un . . .

 When there weren't nothing left of them three birds but a pile of bones -- and the most of that by the preacher's plate, the preacher leaned back in his chair, kindly patting his belly. He pulled out a toothpick and was working away with it when, out in the chicken yard, my old rooster began to crow like one thing.

'Just listen to that feller,' says the preacher, the toothpick waggling in the side of his mouth. 'Don't he sound proud?'

Luther, who hadn't said pea-turkey all through the meal, looked at that pile of bones by the preacher's plate. "Humph,' says he, 'you'd sound proud too if you had three sons in the ministry.' 

Saturday, July 26, 2014

What's That Over There?

Ohmigosh! Look at that on the steps? A Luna moth? Too green. A tropical butterfly somehow displaced to western North Carolina? Let me get a closer look . . .

Oh, well. Just a sprig of the Mock Orange bush that grows next to the steps and is trying to expand its territory. But it sure looked like a butterfly.

Among the changes that come with age is the dimming of vision. I'm still wearing over the counter reading glasses for close work but have resisted full time glasses. It may be time . . .
James Thurber, who was very nearly blind, wrote a wonderful piece for The New Yorker called "The Admiral on the Wheel" recounting the various things that he saw while his glasses were being repaired. You can read it HERE in the magazine's archive-- if you have a subscription. Thurber says: "The kingdom of the partly blind is a little like Oz, a little like Wonderland, a little like Poictesme. Anything you can think of, and a lot you would never think of, can happen there."

Some of my recent sightings ( I rely on taking pictures then putting them on the computer and zooming in to see what it really was.)

John and I were enjoying gin and tonics on the porch when I spotted something red in the big tree at the foot of the yard. A Scarlet Tanager was my first thought and then, as it stubbornly refused to move, I decided it was a male cardinal sitting on a nest. (In  my defense, these pics were taken a few days later -- what I saw was brilliant red and partially obscured by leaves -- other leaves.)

And then there was the puzzling critter at the foot of the yard. A bunny? Or what. It didn't move like a bunny.

Still fuzzy but I think it's a young, fluffed-out Brown Thrasher.

Ah, the wonders of old age!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Conundrum . . .

As I struggle with making sense of and writing about the divided loyalties (some of which remain strong today) in my region during the American Civil War, in the present day world I am trying to make sense of the current Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

My friends on Facebook are divided -- some pro-Israel, some pro-Palestinian, and the majority, if they have an opinion, keeping it to themselves. 

I have no answers, only questions.  I begin by reading about the founding of the state of Israel HERE and I am at once reminded of the shameful history of the Trail of Tears -- in my own American backyard. The white settlers, feeling threatened by the Native Americans (whose land holdings had continued to shrink due to various 'treaties',) decided that for the safety of the white settlers, the Native Americans had to go. To Oklahoma. Not quite a genocide --that had happened earlier, over and over again as the New World attracted more and more eager settlers, looking for riches or fleeing oppression.

The similarities to the Zionist Movement seem to me to be strong. I've heard people say that there are no Palestinans -- that there never was a Palestinian state. True enough, there was never an independent Palestine -- the area was a part of the Ottoman Empire until WWI and then it came under British rule, during which time, it was determined to establish a Jewish homeland. 

But there were people living there all this while, Jews, Muslims, and Christians. How can you say there were no Palestinians? 

Others say the Arab Palestinians left voluntarily or they sold their land. Some historians beg to differ. Read HERE for an account of the Nakba (catastrophe) of 1948 from the Arab point of view. Imagine being afraid to stay in your home, on the land your family had held for generations. Imagine being expelled at gunpoint. Like the Cherokees.

Please don't accuse me of anti-Semitism. Many Jews, Israelis, and even some Holocaust survivors deplore what's going on in Israel today, as illegal settlements usurp more and more of the bit of land supposedly allotted to the Palestinians. Yes, I'm anti-Zionist. I'm anti any country that declares a state religion and marginalizes non-believers -- an ironic step for Holocaust survivors and their children.

So many countries in the world have sad histories concerning the treatment of the indigenous inhabitants -- the US, most of Central and South America, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa. . . and most look back on it as a shameful period in their history. It's so much easier to regret something in the past -- when all those native populations are comfortably in the minority -- than it is to admit error and set about righting wrongs.

The US has traditionally been a strong friend to Israel -- to the tune of many billions of dollars. According to an article from the Congressional Research Service HERE : "Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II. To date, the United States has provided Israel $121 billion (current, or non-inflation-adjusted, dollars) in 
bilateral assistance. Almost all U.S. bilateral aid to Israel is in the form of military assistance, 
although in the past Israel also received significant economic assistance. Strong congressional 
support for Israel has resulted in Israel receiving benefits not available to any other countries . . . "

Self interest, of course, is at the heart of this -- politicians receive campaign donations from supporters of Israel -- including those Evangelicals who believe that the survival of Israel is a necessary prelude the The Final Days spoken of in the Bible. And, of course, the oil interests, who want a strong ally in the region.

The West has been meddling in the Middle East for centuries -- beginning with the Crusades and long before the establishment of Israel. Small wonder so many Arabs have become radicalized. Instead of mouthing inanities like "They hate us because they hate freedom," perhaps it would be a good idea to read a little history -- as told by both sides.

There are no easy answers. As one of my characters in the work in progress says of the Union/Confederate division, "Hit likely  goes back as far as Cain and Abel."

A knotty conundrum indeed. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Writers' Bumper Stickers - Stroll/Poll

 A stroll through the Wildacres parking lot yielded this collection of bumper stickers -- mostly political, mostly of the Liberal/Progressive persuasion. I know there were some folks on the Right at the workshop but I didn't see any such bumper stickers.

Folks don't talk politics at Wildacres -- which is nice -- but I couldn't help drawing some conclusions from the results of this informal stroll/poll.

I'll leave it to you to draw your own.