Last Day of September

What a beautiful day! We have a clear blue sky, the humidity is low and it’s so nice out that I’ve raised my windows. As I sit here drinking iced tea and eating dark chocolate, I’m listening to squirrels, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, Northern Cardinals, and various other birds whose songs I haven’t yet learned to identify. While ago I heard a Pileated Woodpecker. Those birds are so fine. They look sort of like Woody Woodpecker from the cartoon.

A friend told me yesterday afternoon she’s had Indigo Buntings and a female finch in her yard. She thinks it was probably a Purple Finch. She also had a Baltimore Oriole. She was having up to 50 humming birds at a time but it’s down to about 25 now. Since this friend is a bit north of me she told me to watch my feeders. I sure am! My numbers on the hummers have been pretty variable the past week but have increased from only seeing one at a time last week to two or three fighting over things this week.

My husband’s Mexican Petunia is still covered in blooms. A couple of hummers were each claiming it day before yesterday. A few weeks ago I saw some Mexican Petunia growing along the gully nearby. I wonder what spread the seed way off to there? Maybe some place upstream that flooded and brought seeds down, or maybe a hurricane blew them to that spot. It’s nice to see the pretty purple flowers by the water.

The cones on the Southern Magnolia are bearing their bright red seeds. Sure is pretty. And the satsumas are beginning to ripen. This will be our first harvest from this tree. Less than a dozen fruit but it’s less than a year old so I guess that’s a good kind of tree to have.

Friends way up north tell me their leaves are changing. Our leaves don’t go through color changes on most of the trees here. At least the ones on the streets don’t. If we go to a river, creek or bayou where it’s cooler we see pretty leaves. It’s like another world on the river.

I hope you are enjoying the changing of seasons where you live. And if you are cooped up inside and are unable to go out, I hope you can ‘see’ a bit of it here and enjoy God’s creation through this little blog.

Looking Out My Windows on September 17

This morning before 7 am the hummingbirds were already fighting over the feeder outside the kitchen window.  I guess they don’t need coffee or tea to get going for the day.  The Ruby-throated Hummingbirds have a long flight to prepare for since they go to southern Mexico or northern Panama, so they are storing a bit of body fat to use as energy. Somehow it’s hard to imagine that they gain almost as much as they weigh to begin with, so that they are almost double in weight by the time they leave. I think I’ll leave my feeders out after they are gone and just watch and see if I get a Rufous or two. I’ve never had one but from what I’ve read they are showing up where they don’t usually hang out. I have a friend just a bit northeast of me who has them so it’s not too much of a stretch to hope I’ll get one here.

All the other birds, the doves, sparrows, Blue Jays and Cardinals are gobbling up seed like crazy today. Usually, the Blue Jays will only grab a peanut and take off quickly, but today they are lingering and eating sunflower seed. I guess since the temperature is dropping and the days are getting shorter, everyone is taking in extra calories so they can gain a bit of extra fat and stay warm.

The mushrooms are popping up all over the past few days. I can’t imagine why anyone wants to ‘clean the yard’ by getting rid of something so interesting. Just think, they are below the surface of the ground all the time and when conditions are right for them, overnight they just show up to announce that fall is coming. There is a circle of them that I can see from one of my windows. It’s an elliptical circle, but it’s a circle and do you know what that means? My grandma told me that’s where the fairies danced the night before. You know what else she said? She told me that the Little People live under the mushrooms. When I was a bit too old to believe that, I would still lie in the grass and pretend it was true and look for them.

Well, most of us who live where it is hot during the summer are enjoying the cooler days. Some of us are anxious for the first really nice cold front so we can make a big ol’ pot chili or homemade soup. Last week I cooked pinto beans and put the leftovers in the freezer. They will make a great pot of vegetarian chili. I’m just watching the signs of change from my windows and waiting.

Another Thing the Democrats Have Wrong

The democrats are afraid if they don’t pass healthcare legislation right NOW, they will lose elections and control of congress next year. Are they kidding? They think the reason they lost control of congress after Hilary Clinton’s 1994 attempt at a plan for all of us, is that they didn’t pass the thing. What? I think they are not connecting the dots right on this all. They lost because she wasn’t elected to anything and she was trying to take over our lives.

If they lose a bunch of elections next year – and I think they will – it will be because they were elected and they are trying to take over our lives. And at this point, it won’t matter if they pass this or not, they are out. Most of us don’t want this plan because it won’t accomplish anything good. What’s wrong with it has been hashed out all over the internet and other media, so I’ll just take it to the bare bones and say this. It’s unconstitutional, and we are fed up with the federal government ignoring the document they have sworn to uphold.

Anyone, of any party, who votes on any legislation without considering the very few items the federal government is authorized to do, is going to lose. A lot of us will only vote for a person who understands that the purpose of the Constitution is to limit the federal government.

What Does Michael Moore Want? Or, Whose Pie is it Anyway?

I saw Michael Moore on Jay Leno last night. He was talking about his new documentary, “Capitalism: A Love Story.” I’m not going into his confusion over definitions of capitalism, socialism, and democracy, and also what kind of government we have in the US. I wondered about some other things, but first had to look at a few statistics.

Michael Moore talked a lot about the top 5% of the population owning as much wealth as the bottom 95%.  With this in mind, I checked out an article on Wikipedia about income distribution in the United States. According to the article, the makeup of households has changed over the decades; this accounts for some changes in how the income per household is calibrated. So, some changes are a result of the way all this is tracked and how folks are put into categories.

And of course, it makes sense that the folks at the top of the pile would have income which increases at a higher rate than the folks who work for every dollar they make. Or, for most of those dollars anyway. The more money one has available to invest, the more money one will make, right? This would account for some of the growth in the top 5%. And normally investments are making money, but these aren’t normal times, are they?

According to an article on 247 Wall St., the percentage of millionaires in the US has dropped by 22% over the past year. You can see the short article at:  http://247wallst.com/2009/09/15/the-worlds-millionaires-are-disappearing/. This makes sense also, considering the drop that everyone has had in investments.

Even accounting for all this, profits of companies, incomes of CEO’s, and incomes of the workers who keep these places going, hasn’t been clipping along at comparable rates.

Having said all this, I have a few questions. Michael Moore says he’s “filthy rich.” The obvious observation here is that the system he criticizes made him “filthy rich.” Is he in the top 5% of the population, which they say has as much income as the bottom 95%? If he is, how much of his income is given to charities, to libraries, to hospitals, to anything that would enrich the lives of the supposed less fortunate 95%? Does he give away enough to drop himself down to the level of that 95% that he supposedly is so concerned about? Why do I doubt that he does? Another question I have is, if Michael Moore is not in the top 5% percent, but indeed is a member of the bottom 95%, what does he want? Does he want a piece of the guy’s pie who has more money than he has? Isn’t that greedy? Just wondering.

A Bit About the Writer

Just so you know whose head is having all these thoughts, I ought to let you know a bit about me.

My name is Diane, and I live in the house that my parents lived in for a while after they married. This is the third time in my life to live here, and in fact, I was living in this house when I married and had my wedding in the very room that I’m in at this moment. My family literally built this place with their own hands and hammers.

I’ve been married to the same patient guy since 1976, and we have three sons. They are in their 30’s now. We homeschooled for 13 years and I really enjoyed that stage of my life. Since our sons have become adults, our family has gained three fine men, two fantastic women (since two of them are married), three grandsons and two granddaughters. (They don’t make adjectives good enough to describe grandkids.)

I am a Christian with libertarian political views. The Christian part of who I am is of long-standing.  The libertarian views are relatively new. I am a homemaker; the creative aspects of homemaking are enjoyable, and the tedious aspects are good thinking time. Lately, I have been spending more time writing and exploring various forms of art. As I consider economic, political, and social happenings, I try to keep in mind that this world is temporary, and I’m a member of a Kingdom that isn’t political, but is eternal.

If you are new here, a couple of posts that were among the top in the list of most viewed posts during 2014, are The Little Snakes Are Awake and No More NCIS For Me.

A Short Tour of the Yard in Mid-September

I’ve set up this category that I’ve called “My Bloomin’ Yard” and I haven’t written much about what’s blooming out there. So, I thought today I’d just take you on a little tour of part of the yard. We’ll do the sanitized version and skip the weeds, OK?

Today is an overcast day; it’s not raining exactly but it’s a bit misty and grey.  (It makes me think of London so I’m going with the British spelling, “grey”.) The birds are very active, chirping and flying about looking for groceries. As I look out my front door there are two hummingbirds chasing each other away from the feeder on the front porch. So, I’m not even outside yet and it’s about birds and not plants.

However, as I step out onto the porch I see that the Elephant Ears look pretty good, but my Texas Lantana and fern don’t look so great. They are at the end of their season and give the appearance of being tired, having lost not only their fresh green springtime color, but even the dull green of mid-summer, as they are beginning to turn brown. Upon closer inspection, I see that the Elephant Ears are starting to fade. As they are lightening over the whole surface of the leaves, I see a lighter green working it’s way in from the edges, and the light and dark greens, along with veins, give a swirly effect that I think would be a great idea for background paper for art. I wonder as I study the leaf, if I would be able to create the same effect with ink and bleach?

The red Hibiscus is blooming and so is the Turk’s Cap. The hummers love these plants! The butterflies like them as well, and they also feed on the yellow Four O’ Clocks.  As I pass by, I collect a few Four O’ Clock seeds to share.

On the side of the house, I check on a tiny red spider that I saw earlier when I was feeding birds. He has his tiny web down in the grass. The spider is still waiting for groceries to show up. The grass is wet even though it’s early afternoon, and the spider’s web is glistening like a glittery tablecloth. It makes me think of a New Year’s Eve party. Except in this case, no one wants to be the spider’s ‘guest’.

Some white flowers that grow wild have found their way to my yard. They grow close to the ground on small vines.  There are four petals on each flower, and I never noticed this before now, but the petals are fuzzy. You have to get down really close to see that. I think they are cute. My husband thinks it’s time to cut the grass. Guess which spot he’ll be asked to skip? He’s used to it and he won’t mind.

Next, we’ll look around just a bit in the back yard. One of our cactus plants (one of the ones that has big paddles) has grown taller over the summer than all of us. Well, we haven’t grown taller over the summer, but you know what I mean. We are amazed by it.

The Magnolia Tree is bearing pretty, soft red cones. The red cones against the green leaves remind me of Christmas.

We have a Spider Lilly that some call a Hurricane Lilly. They are beginning to come up and open. I noticed them popping out of the ground yesterday. They are a wild flower also. The reason some folks call them Hurricane Lilies is because sometimes we have a hurricane before they come up, and it appears that one thing caused the other. That happened last year. Ike came along and tore up the yard, stripping Canna Lily leaves to bits, and then a couple days later, up pop the Spider Lilies in all their glory. They were a nice reminder that even when things are a mess, beauty can be found if we look for it.

I’ve Just Discovered Wendell Berry

Yesterday I was reading in Modern Reformation magazine and came across a couple of quotes from Wendell Berry. He’s a “farmer/poet/novelist living in Kentucky.” He talks about how our food supply has been taken over by agribusiness; he calls it “food industrialists.” He talks about how a lot of our food is  processed and packaged and nutrition that was destroyed when the food was processed is added back but it’s not as nutritious as it was originally. It’s just more convenient. Then they beg us to eat their food which he says is all but pre-chewed for us and that is only because they haven’t figured out how to do that yet. Well, not in a way that makes a profit for them anyway. He also talks about how our eating is more like us going to a filling station and the disconnect between the land, the food and the purposes of meals and of our lives. I wanted to know more about him and would like to read some of his writing. So, I looked around for info on Wendell Berry and here are a couple of the more informative articles that I’ve found:

http://www.poetryfoundation.org/archive/poet.html?id=540

http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/115/

The first is a review of several of his writings and the second is something really cool that he wrote.

OH…my dad gave me some green onions the other day that are sprouting in the bag! I better go stick them in some dirt!

A Man Who Thought He Understood Directions

There’s some property near my house that has a big ol’ solid steel gate across the road that accesses the place. Just behind the gate, there’s a bridge that crosses a gully with some pretty icky water in it and snakes, too, of course.  Yesterday this fellow got himself stuck behind that gate. He had been to the little store on the corner and someone told him about a short-cut back to where he came from, he saw the gate open, and thought that was it. It wasn’t. He was on the wrong road to begin with.

As he was walking down the road on the property, he saw a truck driver who works for the man who owns the place and was told he could be sued for trespassing. (I know- it’s file charges, not sue, but that’s what he said.) He told the truck driver he was just taking a short-cut. I saw him on his way back there and saw the truck come out and knew he was most likely going to have to wade the gully to get out. (My sons’ friend, Skates, slipped and fell backwards into that nasty water once, and he was sort of stunned by the experience…was very quiet for hours afterwards.)

A bit later after the truck left I heard pounding and knew this fellow had realized his predicament. (The truck driver locked the gate on his way out.) By the time I got down to the gate he had already tried scooting underneath and had decided to try to coming over the top. He was contending with barbed wire and the spikes on top of the gate.  And he was, oh, a good 12 feet from the ground. He said it was awful high up and I told him his feet weren’t as far from the ground as his head was so that shaves a few feet off the distance. He wasn’t encouraged to make a leap for it. He told me he thought that road was a short-cut but it came to a dead end. I wondered why he had to go over a half mile to a dead end to figure out he wasn’t shaving off a block and a half. I told him there wasn’t anything but swamp between where had been and where he was trying to go and that was no short-cut.

He was afraid he was going to get his pants hung going over the top. (He was wearing long denim shorts and a big t-shirt that kept getting in his way.) I was afraid he would lose his future generations on top of that gate. I asked about getting over to the hinge and putting his foot over and onto that but there was too much barbed wire on that end. He was getting scratched by what he was already contending with in the middle. I told him I could call the owner but then he’d have to tangle with him over being on his property, or he could wade the gully. He didn’t like either of those options. I told him he didn’t want to be on “Funniest Home Videos” and he looked at me with big eyes and agreed. He asked if I had a truck and my truck wasn’t at home so I said I didn’t. I told him another of the owner’s workers may come back before dark but maybe not. He climbed down and said he was going to take his pants off and I could hear him undoing his belt so I told him I was going on home. He obviously didn’t want to be left alone because before I could take two steps he was coming back up to the top of the gate. I don’t know what comfort it was to have a small 52 year old lady to talk to about the mess he was in, but he sure didn’t want me to leave!

My aunt who lives nearby, called my dad, who lives a bit further up the road, and he came down there. He got his truck and a ladder. We set the ladder up in the back of the truck and held it steady while the man climbed over onto it. I don’t remember the last time a stranger was so happy he hugged me. He hugged us both and shook our hands and God blessed us and even told us his name.

Well, God bless Michael, who will probably never go for another short-cut in his life.

Bird in a Thunderstorm

Have you ever wondered where birds go when it’s raining? I mean, they have nests but I don’t think everyone can fit in them at once.

I watched a bird this afternoon during and after a thunderstorm. The storm was going strong when I looked out my kitchen window and, with the rain pouring down, there was a dove hunkered down on the fence. There is some sort of shrubby plant that he was under. Wish I could remember the name of the plant, but it has berries that the mockingbirds like to eat in the summertime. Since the plant is not thick, the dove was really only semi-protected from the rain. He was scrunched down and had his head tilted up. He also blinked a lot because he was getting water in his eyes. His feathers did a good job for him. It looked like he was wearing a raincoat, as the rain wasn’t soaking him but, was just on the surface of his feathers. As he sat there blinking in the storm, the water was dripping off the tip of his tail. Once there was a huge clap of thunder and a flash of lightening. I wondered if he panicked and flew so, I went to the window and checked on him. He was still there, only he was sitting at attention now, with his head a little higher than before. As I watched, he relaxed and tucked his head back down closer to his shoulders.

When the storm ended he was still sitting there but with his feathers fluffed out to dry. Before long the sparrows were singing and a hummingbird had shown up and was ‘on guard’ to keep other hummers away from the feeder. All together, he was there at least an hour and a half. I didn’t know a bird would stay in one place for so long unless he was sleeping.

I Know Where Obama is Leading

I’ve been reading and thinking about Obama and his promises and his results. He wanted to lead us to Someplace. Ha. As we can all see from his low approval ratings,  he’s leading us to huge disappointment. Well, I’ll only be a little disappointed because I didn’t vote for him and had no hopeful expectations, other than hoping he won’t get his way often enough to destroy us. I thought he might be a bit better on matters of civil liberties than the republicans, but his putting Janet Napolitano in charge of Homeland Security was a letdown. Especially last April when that report was released on Right-wing Extremism.

Did you know that according to a poll done by Reuters and Zogby back in December, 72% of Americans expected a better economy this year because of Obama? What is the unemployment rate? How is Wall Street really doing? I read that the latest bump in stock prices – before this latest slide in stock prices – was a result of the banks investing some of the bailout money in the stock market. And they say it’s only electronic money and not real money anyway. What is this? The economy of illusion? All is illusion?

Obama also seems to be caught between groups. The gay rights folks have sort of been promised a few things and that has upset a whole lot of black pastors. They said homosexuality is not a civil rights issue, it’s a moral issue and they won’t vote for democrats any more if Obama follows through on the promises. I do have to wonder about something. Did these Christians vote for him in the first place because of something he promised to them? He made no contradictory promise in this instance. Did they want him to keep some promise to them and break only promises they didn’t support?

And then there are the folks who thought he would get us out of Iraq. Did they not hear him say he wanted to beef up forces in Afghanistan? I got the idea he planned on shifting – if he could – troops out of Iraq and into Afghanistan. I hardly think if someone thinks we shouldn’t be in Iraq, they would think we ought to be in Afghanistan instead. He is pleasing no one on this issue. Except the folks who make tons of money on wars by producing the hardware and supplies it takes to fight wars. And maybe a few others who think, as I used to, that it takes a whole army to go after one person. And that person is not in Afghanistan, by the way.

There is one group who won’t be disappointed. Just as there is a sliver of way right-wing neoconservatives, there is also a sliver of way left-wing, uh, progressives, aka, communists, and folks in this second group like the direction he’s trying to go. Next year, 36 states will elect governors. These elections are as important as the congressional elections. I will be looking for a candidate who will stand up for the right of my state to refuse to follow mandates from the federal government that they have no authority to require. The state’s right to refuse comes from the 10th Amendment to the Constitution. It says, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Well, we can all see where he is trying to go and it’s not where I want to go.  It’s not what most Americans want. I think we can make our own changes starting when we vote next year. In the meantime, it sure is interesting to watch him try to keep everyone happy.