Archive | April 2016

Serving Your Breakfast Table


Moline, Illinois has been in the News recently because the plane carrying Prince, the entertainer and musician extraordinaire, landed there for a medical emergency. However, Moline is more than a city that represents the beginning of the end for a legendary icon.  

In 1837, it was home to a blacksmith named John Deere who fashioned a Scottish steel saw blade into a steel plow. In the process, he transformed the prairie into the most intense agricultural region of the Midwest. Referred to as the corn belt, this area includes Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, southern Michigan, western Ohio, eastern Nebraska, eastern Kansas, southern Minnesota, and parts of Missouri. Four of those States, Iowa, Illinois, Nebraska and Minnesota, produce more than half of the corn grown in the United States, and collectively the corn belt produces 40% of the world’s corn crop yearly. John Deere and its administrative center are still located in Moline, Illinois. Annual_catalogue_(16785873531)

This may not be the original Deere steel plow, but this is what it looked like. It was hooked to a farm animal, and for the first time ever the dense prairie soil could be cultivated. Once plowed, seeds were laid, and crops sprang forth. Over the years, the design was modified, tractors came into existence and not just John Deere tractors but all kinds of tractors.


We bought the above Deere thinking it the greatest thing ever, and wouldn’t you just know it? The farmer who leases our land rolled this monstrosity into our field and begin running around. Such is progress.V

Love On A Rainy Day

boat I worked all day, and I worked all night. I would not stop, could not stop because I was building a boat. I built that boat, that I hoped would float, to carry me far away. I gave the boat to my true love hoping for the best. From our boat, we sailed away unsure where we would go. The strange thing is, the boat was sound but it sailed us right back home.

My Dogs Keep Me Grounded

The golden girl is a Labrador Retriever who struggled through the wetlands, and collapsed on my doorstep unable to go any further. Instinctively, she knew she had found a home. Malnourished, dehydrated, flea bit and tick infested, and being eaten alive by intestinal parasites, the battle begin to save her life. Weighing a mere seven pounds, I wasn’t so sure my trusted veterinarian could. The fluffy dog, I rescued from beneath a bush in Havana, Cuba where she was sheltering with her starving mother and six sisters. Knowing I would be able to probably get one back to the States, I petted each and assessed them for completeness, spoke to the mother, and stepped from the bush into a cold December Cuban rain that was falling. I took the one that was willing to leave the pack for nothing more than a soft touch.

One prairie dog and one Havana Hound, both weighing in at around 45 pounds, they keep me grounded, literally, because before I can go anywhere I have to figure out what to do with the dogs. Raised as house pets, they’re not fond of kennels, crates, being left alone, or sleeping on the floor.  One won’t go out in the rain, while the other won’t come in from the rain. The Havana Hound loves the car and jumps from seat to seat while the retriever throws up on the floor boards. Being reared on the prairie, neither wear collars because they stick their heads in the weeds and get tangled in the briars making self-strangulation a real possibility. Because they don’t wear collars, it’s difficult to get either on a leash. If I can accomplish that feat, one dashes herself to the ground while the other runs to the car. Being the uncivilized mutts they are, I can’t take them anywhere so I sit in the car with two dogs trussed up like Christmas Geese, knowing in my heart of hearts, they will neither eat, sleep or drink until I pick them up from the vet’s and bring them back to their prairie home.

Why do I subject myself to this lunacy? The thing is, these dogs, be that as they may, are not judgmental, don’t understand about prejudice, don’t care what possessions I do or don’t own as long as they have beds and food, and never argue with me. When it comes right down to it, they are there for me because when they needed it most, I was there for them.


Is Purple Rain Real?

A man gave a television interview where he was talking about ‘chemtrail flu’ which is a conspiracy theory concerning high flying planes dropping toxic chemicals that cause flu like symptoms and possible death.   He also maintained two days after Merle Haggard made the same public statement he died suddenly from respiratory complications.

This man was many things including a dazzling performer, and I’m wondering if he knew something the rest of us don’t because it seems rather bizarre that a 57 year old man can walk upright into his house on a Wednesday night, but on Thursday morning someone makes a 911 call saying there is a man down in the elevator but cannot tell the operator who the man is or the address he is calling from.

That man was Prince. Home alone and dead in an elevator. Autopsied the next day followed by cremation, and a private ceremony with the ashes being held in an undisclosed location. What really happened in a two day period that made an icon vanish? Could it be that Prince found that purple rain he sang about?


Prince Nelson Rogers (1958-2016)

Photo: Wikimedia Commons, from Madame Tussaud’s House of Wax, Amsterdam

Lessons Learned From Eccentric Blogging

 The lovely lady seated at the typewriter is Amelita Galli-Curci one of the most popular Italian operatic singers of the early 20th Century.  She was born in Milan, Italy in 1882, and died in La Jolla, California in 1963. She was self taught, and her voice can still be heard on 78 recordings and LP and CD reissues.

pic It’s impossible to know what Amelita might be typing, but I expect fan mail because she is smiling. Although, she probably portrays the height of fashion for 1910,  she has that eccentric quality about her. Who sits down to type in a full length fur coat and hat? But she’s a dish, and I was quite smitten with the image. However, this is not a post about the eccentricities of Amelita, it is about the eccentricities of readers and writers.

I started a blog, firstly to write because I can, and secondly to determine what is currently being read and trending. The results after two weeks, are rather puzzling and quite shocking.

To date, the article that gained the most attention was a commentary on abortion, not that I believe in abortion but I am pro-choice because I remember a time when abortion was illegal and girls I went to school with were dying from illegal abortions.  Then readers went gaga over an obscure scratched black and white picture of the poet Emily Dickinson. I’m not so sure they were interested in the accompanying story, but they loved the picture.  By contrast, I wrote a article ‘The Great Poetry Disconnect’ that lamented that although poetry was once a loved literary genre, people have very little use for it these days. That article brought in readers from China and India. Then there was a article that was actually a tribute to my aunt, ‘Angels Cry When Teacher Die’. It seems readers have an affinity for teachers, and every family has one.

So where does this leave me, and where should I go? Something tells me I have accidentally connected with a bunch of Millennials who are eager for new information that is really old information, or people will reach out and read anything if it’s interesting.  It’s actually hard to tell as I sit in my favorite Amelita pose, but I’m having a  great time.


(a gramophone for 78 rpm records and Nipper the dog 1899)

Photos: Creative Commons (Wikimedia Commons)

Yikes! There’s a Woman in the Closet

In the year 1857, women didn’t have careers, but were expected to marry, partake in the mandatory semi-annual baby birthing, and bake bread. If they had not achieved those milestones by a certain age, they were considered spinsters. The life of a spinster was the life of an outcast.

Thus was the life of Emily Dickinson who was most likely suffering from a social disorder, and begin dressing only in white, and talking to visitors through closed doors so she didn’t have to speak to them face to face. During the last fifteen years of her life few neighbors saw outside of the house, and when they did she was dressed entirely in white. Consequently, she became ‘the woman in white’; the recluse of Amherst, Massachusetts.

After speaking of ‘a great darkness coming’, she fainted while baking bread.  After a two year’s illness, she died but not before extracting a promise from her sister, Lavinia, also a spinster, to burn her papers, and was laid to rest in the family plot.

That would have been the end of the story of the strange lady in white except Lavinia after burning her sister’s personal correspondence found a locked trunk in Emily’s closet, and the 1800 poems of Emily Dickinson were pulled from the closet. Lavinia spent the duration of her life getting Emily’s poems published, and they have been in continual publication since that time. In 1899, Lavinia died at age sixty-six.

Black-white_photograph_of_Emily_DickinsonIt’s a strange story, one sister writing in the closet, and the other sister sheltering her strange ways. It does raise the question of what would Lavinia have done had she known about the closet horde when she made the promise? Thankfully, she didn’t find the trunk for two years, and realized its value; a story to be told.

It seems to me, this tale presents a great moral to women everywhere; ‘Get out of that closet, and go where you heart takes you.’

photos: U.S. Creative Commons (Wikimedia Commons)


Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

Go Vote; It’s Your Right

FACT: Women’s
suffrage in the United States, the right of women to vote, was established over several decades, first in various states and localities, and then nationally in 1920.

FACT: The GOP began as the women’s party, championing suffrage 40 years before it became law. Republicans also saw the first woman elected to Congress, the first female speaker of a state house, and the first female Supreme Court justice.

FACT: Donald Trump employs more women than men at the upper echelons of his real estate empire, and in many cases pays them more according to the Republican Presidential Candidate’s attorney.


(you could do worse, much worse)

Meaning of ‘Salty Dog’

Recently someone told me the term ‘salty dog’ refers to the practice of early maritime sailors taking dogs aboard ships as mascots because dogs could smell land before the sailors could see it, and would alert them when they were approaching a land mass so they wouldn’t sail past it in the dark. I had no idea if the statement was true or false, so I looked it up.266px-Spaniel_1_(PSF) ‘Salty dog’ is indeed a nautical term, but refers to a sailor who has spent extended periods of time at sea; however, there was an early practice of rubbing salt through a dog’s coat as an archaic practice to repel fleas. In theory, it probably worked because the dog, no doubt, died from sodium poisoning.

This does raise an interesting question. There is an Blues song, ‘Salty Dog Blues’, and the first line is, ‘Let me be your salty dog, or I don’t wanna be your man at all.’ What do you suppose that means?


A Look Backward – Abortion

Imagine this: The year is 1960, and a young girl is dealing with an unwanted pregnancy. She is 15, and lives in a family of ten reared by dysfunctional parents below poverty level. Uneducated and lacking job skills, she clearly understands her only chance for a better life is through education. To tell her parents of her impending shame means another beating or being driven from the family home. The father of the baby is not an option, but says he will arrange and pay for an abortion.

Laura_Muntz_Lyall_-_Portrait_of_a_Young_Woman In that time before abortion was legal, there was no birth control available, and there were no social services available for young women in such a predicament. If she was born into a family of means, she would be quietly whisked out of town to a home for wayward girls, her baby would be born and adopted without her having ever seen its face, and she would have returned home with a bogus story about spending a year with a relative; however, this is a child from the other side of the tracks. What this girl receives is a handful of money, an address, usually an abandoned building, and a time she is to show up. If this young woman has one-thousand dollars in her hand, she will be seeing a doctor who will treat her badly and remind her she is a tramp, but if she has anything less than that, it could conceivably be a woman with a knitting needle. It will not be a medical setting, and far from sterile. Without anesthesia, the process will be painful, and without proper precautions against hemorrhage or infection, she will find herself on the sidewalk twenty minutes later wounded, bleeding, and looking for somewhere to lay down. She has no idea who performed the procedure, and has been instructed if she has complications go to the hospital. Further imagine, this is a poor woman of color. She has but a 25% chance of survival.

In the years before abortion was legalized and performed in clinics and hospitals, an estimated one million illegal abortions were performed each year in the United States. The procedures were botched and performed in dire germ-ridden surroundings, and women usually ended up at the emergency ward of the nearest hospital. Many died of hemorrhage and/or abdominal infections. The lucky ones who survived were left sterile, chronically ill, and traumatized.  

Who is to say what is morally right or wrong, other than God and the woman’s own conscience, but do we ever want to return to a time when young women are being scraped off a sidewalk, and carted to local hospitals to die of sepsis resulting from botched illegal abortions?

Turkey Season Has Arrived; Yippee

wild-turkey-956713__180The hunters are in the woods shooting at anything that moves. I know they are there because mighty booms reverberate up the ravine, and the dogs are nervous wrecks. What can be the use of this exercise is more than I can figure because what would be left of a turkey killed by shotgun fire? It’s a strange sport, for sure, but the hunters seem to like it, although, I don’t believe the turkey share their enthusiasm; they are hiding in the back yard in a fence row behind the burner barrel. I am wondering if I am truly safer than I was in the city? In the city one had to worry about gun-toting thugs who ran through the night, but on the prairie one has to contend with men walking from the woods in full camouflage with shotguns slung over their shoulders and blood on  their boots. Go figure.