MATATHON WATCHERS

Buffaloguy and I joined the legions of other Marathon Watchers today.  We set out for Moorhead and the Concordia campus early, arriving about 8:45 at the bell tower in the center of Concordia’s buildings and grounds.  It was cold!  There was an aid station at the bell tower and many of the workers were wearing winter jackets.  We weren’t, so we sought shelter from the wind in a corner of the Yvilisaker library building.  A fellow from Saskatchewan joined us.  He was wearing shorts and a light shirt and was really feeling the cold by then.  He was waiting to see a friend come through and it was a touching story because the friend is in remission from brain cancer and wanted to run the marathon as a celebration of that fact.  Other friends were waiting at various places along the route to cheer on and encourage their running friend. 

We saw the first runner come through; it was Mr. Wallin, the winner of the mens’ marathon and he had a good lead already at about 9:45.  Two wheelchair marathoners came through earlier than the runners and one of them was really going strong, with his motorcyle friends running interference for him.  Amazing, the strength in the arms of those guys.  He was going swiftly when we saw him go through.  We saw more runners go through and then decided it was time to head to the Fargodome to watch as the marathoners crossed the finish line inside the Dome.   It was exciting;  there was a huge crowd on hand both on the floor and in the seating sections.  People lined a fence set up along the final few feet of the course, cheering wildly, ringing bells, shrieking loudly.  The runners began to enter..the half-marathoners were arriving first but it was not long til the first 3 men who ran the 26K route crossed the line, looking amazingly fresh.  You can certainly spot an experienced marathoner…their gait is smooth and confident and they do not seem to be winded at all. I puffed just walking around the concourse and up the steps to find a good vantage point.  I was just happy that I could walk without my knee bothering me.

A few runners were clearly in distress at the end of the course.  A couple of them accepted wheelchair rides to an area where they got some medical attention.  Others leaned heavily on volunteers or family members after crossing the line.  A few came in, clearly suffering from muscle pain.  All of the finishers immediately received their medals and went through the end of the course, heading ultimately for the food (spaghetti, fresh fruit, bagels and beverages of their choice—mostly water or gatorade!)  We observed some of the runners coming up into the seating section to watch the end of the race for their friends; some were moving slowly and painfully but many were sprinting up the steps, to our amazement.

The world of marathoners is a culture all its own.  They live in a rarified milieu that only long distance runners understand.  It is inspiring to see them do what they love.  Even the inexperienced runners who had trained and trained were so joyful at the finish.  They would raise their arms high as they crossed the finish line or some came in holding hands with mates, friends, or a whole team, as in the case of the relay runners.

I am really glad that we spent a good part of our Saturday being Marathon Watchers.

MARATHON MEMORIES….FM NIGHTMARES

Tomorrow morning the Fargo Marathon runs again.  There have been highly successful past marathons (2, I think) and last year I worked at one of the "stations" where runners could get water and gatorade.  It was a great experience and I had a lot of fun and interesting encounters on Marathon Day, 2006—–as in one runner asking if any of "you ladies" can do a heart transplant?   Our station was close to the toll bridge across the Red River at the end of the 26 K course so the runners who came though were pretty worn out when they passed us.  Another answered our calls of "Water!  Gatorade!"  with a cry for "Whiskey?"

Tomorrow morning I will be a spectator close to the begining of the course along with my husband who watched on 8th Street last year.  I think we will be bringing our umbrellas tomorrow but I hope we do not need them.

Those are good memories, but there are Nightmares abroad in FM.   The deaths and injuries in such a short time period this week from accidents are truly nightmarish.   I was greatly disturbed when the young woman was killed in a hit and run accident first.  Then there were two quick deaths of 2 men being hit by trains.  A collision on 25th and Main killed another innocent victim when a driver, under the influence of alcohol, meth, and marijuana smashed in to his pickup, killing him. Now this morning, the news reports tell of a badly injured Fargo South student as a result of an accident in the schools’ parking lot!  It is horrifying to have so many tragic deaths and serious injuries in the space of one week.  It is totally disgusting that alcohol and other drugs were involved in at least two of them.  The Concordia student who was killed by a train had a blood alcohol level that the Moorhead Police Chief said would render him (the chief) unable to walk.  The driver who killed Mr Reiten must have been in a similar condition.  I am  hearing "Mick’s Office" in Moorhead in way too many accounts of drunken fights and other incidents.  It might be time to take action against the liquor establishments who allow their patrons to drink themselves into a stupor before leaving, on foot or even worse—in vehicles.

As far as driving under the influence is concerned, one has to ask why does this continue unabated?   The obvious answer is laxness in our judicial system…it is essentially a "catch and release" program with the impaired drivers returning time and again to continue to wreak havoc on the highways until, as in the case in Fargo this week, becoming the instrument of death delivered to an innocent driver returning home from work.  It is senseless.  Until the judicial system and the laws they interpret get changed, we will continue to read these horror stories.  Having half a dozen horror stories in one week in a community the size of Fargo Moorhead is almost unbearable to the citizens who abide by laws all of their lives.

BEING GOOD NEIGHBORS HAS ALWAYS BEEN CLAY COUNTY’S CODE

At the past Tuesday night Planning Commission meeting at the Clay County Courthouse, more than 150 "neighbors" turned out for the first hearing for another enormous hog barn whose owner is seeking a permit to build it in Skree Township, Clay County.   The neighbors did not necessarily live next door or close by  the family whose home and underground water may be affected most adversely if this permit is granted.  The "neighbors" who came were from the immediate area of the barn site but many were from other areas of Clay County—- which was very encouraging because they came to support those who oppose the building of this hog barn as well as those who live nearby.  It is a good sign that this issue of the huge confinement hog barns has gone way beyond the "NIMBY" stage. (Not In My Back Yard)

The people of Clay County are now beginning to recognize that all of us are under threat when these permits are continually allowed.  The expansion is getting out of hand. The proposed site in Skree Township is in a highly sensitive zone for almost instant water pollution.  The field where the barn site is proposed has been a fully operating gravel pit in the past (1950s).  The underlying soils are sand and gravel, part of an ancient Lake Agassiz sandbar;  it is an Environmental Horror Story waiting to happen.

Thankfully the Planning Commission has delayed all action until they get much more information (and hopefully an Environmental Assessment from the Minnesota Pollution Agency) about the site’s potential for water contamination in the underground streams and pools (aquifers, from which well water is drawn).   Also, thankfully, the county staff report to the planning commission recommended denial of the permit. 

But in spite of this information, the planning commission did not deny, but delayed.   It is amazing that some members of that planning commission seem to think they know better than the county planner and his staff. It was also disgusting that one planning commission member (male) slept through part of the testimony from those who oppose it.    Politics stink!   Some "legal eagles" do more than stink!  Those of us who heard the entire process on Tuesday night got to witness "the battle of the lawyers" squaring off against each other, pro and con,  representing the applicant for the permit and also the family who will be most affected by it….their homes are less than 1/2 mile from the barn site.  It was most revealing.   The lawyer for the applicant began his presentation by talking at length about the United States, its freedom, its constitution, and culminated by citing the large assembled  crowd for being so willing to participate in one form of  the marvelous democratic processes.  After getting "shelled" by his opponent and 4 hours of testimony and hard facts and much factual information about the real and present dangers of such a huge hog confinement barn, the tons of manure generated, and the very real risk to water contamination, the applicant’s lawyer— in a fit of pique— ended up referring to the assembled crowd as a "mob" when he told the planning commission they should not submit to "mob rule".  What a difference 4 hours of testimony made!   We went from being noble democracy participants to a "mob" !!!   At that point, a bit of comic relief was necessary so he provided it for the assembled mobsters.

Another hearing on June 19 will be a most interesting one also.  That one will be the one that makes the difference to a lot of "neighbors’" lives….including the entire "neighborhood" of Clay County.

CONTENTIOUS ISSUE WILL GET AIRED OUT TONIGHT

Before I get into the contentious issue, I have to comment that Doug Leier is at it again; he has another big scary water creature picture on his blog today!  This one looks like a ‘gator or a ‘croc…it’s scary and it gives me the creeps.  Doug has a good blog!  Scary pics or not, he is good!

Back to contention:  tonight the Clay County Planning Commission will take testimony and have the first hearing on a proposed huge hog barn in southeastern Clay County near Barnesville.  A permit has been applied for and now the hearings begin.  This is contentious and controversial because the barn is 400+ feet long and over 50 feet wide and will hold hundreds and hundreds of hogs who will produce hundreds and hundreds of pounds of hog manure on a daily basis.  Those who live close to this proposed hog barn contend that it is the wrong site; this field used to be a gravel pit; it has been under flood waters many times in  times of high water and heavy rains;  the underlying soil is all gravel. in fact it is an underground sandbar from the ancient glacial lake (Agassiz) which formed the Red River Valley and the outlying areas to the east and west.  The major concern is that the underground water sources will get polluted since the soil does not hold water at all….any hog manure spread in that area will go straight down into the underground wells and even perhaps, the aquifers which do NOT recover from such pollution.  Anyone care to drink a glass of manure-water from their tap???  The water pollution issue is the main one for those who oppose the building of this concentrated hog production barn. The site also slopes down to two creeks (Hay and Whiskey Creeks) which feed wetlands and, ultimately, feed the Buffalo River Watershed.  Any manure runoff will go directly into these waterways, to say nothing of the county ditches that also ultimately empty into the river system.

The proponents and the applicant for the permit contends that this scenario will not happen due to the constraints and rules and regs put on the hog barn operation by MPCA, and other agencies as well as the county.  They also call what they are doing "family farming" and plead for a young beginning farmer to get his start in "family farming."   The county code, at this point, does not have any restrictions to deny this permit and those opposed point this out, especially if a really HUGE hog factory farm wanted to come in and apply for a permit in the county.  Clay County would be a "marked" county for such a factory farm due to the lack of restrictions thus far.  There are horror stories from other states in the midwest and other parts of the country on the negative effects of factory farming, especially when it involves thousands of hogs, cattle, or poultry in concentrated barns of feedlots.

Those who call these smaller factory farm barns "family farming" are not saying what the enormous tonnage of manure to be dealt with does to the soil, the water–both surface and underground.  It is like an elephant in the living room…nobody wants to acknowledge its presence—but it is there nevertheless.

I have done many hours of research at the MPCA offices in Detroit Lakes since last November when another huge hog operation was being applied for in the county near Hitterdal MN.  The files at MPCA are full of "bad press" in the form of documents, letters, and reports of violations and non-compliance to Minnesota’s rules and regs regarding soil and water pollution….and these are files on the related persons’ large animal feeding operations, who want to build the new barn in the Barnesville area.   It is frightening, after having read a long history that is checkered with resistance to compliance, delays in compliance, denial of responsibility for pollution in more than one public lake in eastern Clay County, which has not been cleaned up to this day.     It is not a good indication for the future of the expansion of such operations.

Tonight’s meeting will be a big one:  there will be hundreds of people in attendance, possibly.  The Media, both print sources and TV and radio, will be there in numbers also.  This contentious issue has already been aired out on radio, via the local talk show "News and Views" for several weeks.  Letters to the editor have proliferated over the past month or longer regarding this particular issue.   The meeting  will also be lengthy I think.   I will be there listening carefully to all that is said and watching closely, the actions of the planning commission members.  They have a very difficult task ahead of them.

RIGHT OFF THE TOP OF MY HEAD…..

Or should I say…. right off the insides of my brain which is thinking about a lot of stuff right now.   I have been out again all morning, and the top of my head is actually hot and sweaty and in need of some shampoo.  I sweat buckets when I work on gardening things…I have been digging up more noxious plants..unwanted raspberry canes sprouting in the middle of the red rhubarb patch, the beginnings of nasty thistles which I swear, have roots that go down about a mile into the center of the earth and never will be killed off.  I have listened again to the sweet songs of birds—today I especially noticed the wrens’ songs.  They are good competition for the variety of music they can make with the Brown Thrashers.  The "birdsong" that really makes me gnash my teeth is when I hear the sounds crows make when they are attacking other birds.  They  are about as mean as birds can get, although their cousins the Bluejays are a close second when it comes to tormenting other birds.

I almost planted the tomatoes today but I heard my mother’s voice say, "not so fast….wait til Memorial Day!"  It has always been good advice and I think I shall wait a bit longer. Right after nearly transplanting my nice Roma tomato plants into the garden, I heard a local meterologist report very low temperatures a couple of mornings from now, so Mom is right…do not get ants in your pants when it is hot in the middle of May…things can change rapidly.

Then I read an article about graffiti in places in Fargo Moorhead, contrasting it with the vandalous spree in Hawley last Friday when many horrible epithets were sprayed in many places on homes, buildings and cars.  It would seem that the baser instincts, if such instincts are possible, come out in graffiti, whose writers can do their nastiness in secrecy and the dark of night.    We do not live too far from a very old underpass—-so old it is a single lane and also is placed right on a sharp curve in a gravel road. You actually have to honk your horn loudly or come to a comp[lete stop to make sure you are not meeting another car under the underpass.      This old underpass has concrete walls and for years has been the object of taggers, painters, and other forms of graffiti art. I am quite certain that the walls on that underpass must be 6 inches thick with paint from so many graffiti artists  who have written their "thoughts" on those walls.  It is quite a shocking education for a person who is not in on the youth culture;  I have read things about other youths in this community that I would never have known if I had not driven on that narrow gravel road, ususally when I have the assignment of picking up Buffaloguy at the repair business where he takes our tractors and other farm machines to get repaired by the ever cheerful and ever accurate and reasonable Tony.   What would we do without him?   Never drive a farm vehicle again, because they would all be on the fritz without Tony’s wonderful rescue tactics of fixing unfixable things.   But back to the underpass artwork and information about other kids painted for all to see:    It is as crude and mean as it gets.  Some graffiti is cute even though is is destructive in that it ruins walls and property of others.  Right at the moment I cannot remember any of the cute graffiti I have read but I know I have seen some really clever stuff.  There was a graffiti-like message on the back of a semi once that I have not forgotten.  It started out like the usual we have seen about calling a 1- 800 number if you do not like the drivers’ driving….but this particular semi graffiti advised, "If you don’t like MY driving, call 1-800-EAT-  – - – - !!   I think you can fill in the four blanks if I give you the hint that it is one of the common crude anglo-saxon words in our language to describe,  er–uh–well,….human effluent, shall we say?     For some reason, and I hate to analyze why, that one made me roar with laughter and I have not forgotten it.  

Personally I would rather listen to the birds sing their songs than read about the garbage that emits from human minds and hearts, in the form of destructive and vile graffiti.

Now it is time to wash the garden grime from myself and put my aching feet up and do the daily crossword from the FORUM.   All the work of the morning is worth it when I can do a bit a this sort of relaxing. I am also well into the second Edward Rutherfurd book, this one called THE PRINCES OF IRELAND so I could read that too for relaxation. Rutherfurd and James Michener have much in common in that both do extensive historical research and write fascinating fiction based on their historical facts they find.  It really makes a good "read"…for me, anyway!

 I forgot to mention that I was a real, dutiful farmwife today and made a big noon meal for Buffaloguy and our neighbor "kid" who is helping move wood chunks today.   It is a good day and we are all busy and happy to be alive.

TO SOME MOTHERS I LOVE AND ADMIRE

May 13….Mothers’ Day, 2007.  All over the nation,Moms have been given flowers, other gifts, been taken out to dinner and generally feted by their families out of love and gratitude.  Some Moms have spent the weekend without their husband ,due to the fishing opener in Minnesota but they will be patient about that situation ( I think) and allow their best guy to sit in a boat and fish with  his buddies, even if they are totally skunked.

There are some Mothers who mean a lot to me on this day of honoring them.  Two of them have already left this life, but their children remember them with love and great thankfulness each year.

To Eveleth and Marion:  my own mother who gave me life and my "other mother" who gave life to my husband.  I honor you because of all you were to us when you were with us in this life.  Mom, you lovingly raised me, sewed all my clothing and all my coats til I was almost in high school; you cooked and baked all our favorite things and fed us physically and emotionally as well.  You sat up with me and helped me with my math homework, when I was in despair and "didn’t get it"…you had been a teacher and you still were one when you helped me with tough assignments I had to do.  You showed me how to have a lovely flower garden and a vegetable garden and inspired me to do the same when I got married and had my own home and yard.  I remember all the beautiful flowers, corsages, and other flower arrangements you made for the Annual Flower Shows in our little town; for brides and their weddings–you learned to make bouquets and everything they needed for their weddings, out of your own flower garden you so lovingly cared for. You read my Sunday School lessons and the Bible with me, even when you were putting curlers in my hair for the weekly Sunday that we always observed in our family.  Thank you Mom.  I love you and honor you even though you have been gone from this earth for 18 years.

To my "Other Mother", who raised my husband: you were like my own mother as you lovingly took me into your arms and your family when I fell in love with your "boy".  I learned from you how to be strong, courageous, and full of faith in tough times.   You taught me a lot about cooking too, as I watched you do it in your warm cozy kitchen.  You showed me how to be a perfect mother in law when it came time for me to be one.  I learned to show my daughters in law the kind of love  you showed me.  You taught me how to be unselfish and generous to my family and to others.   I miss you and continue to love and honor you also, though you have left this life behind in 2001.

To Linda, Kristin,Melissa:  I honor you as mothers and home-school teachers.  All of you are doing a magnificent job with your children as Moms and teachers.  I see your kids growing and developing into truly good citizens, friends, and young adults. What a loving servbice you do for these children of yours

Carol, I honor you for raising your grandson and bringing him to adulthood after a rocky life when he was young.  He is now a fine young man, ready to graduate from High School, with the loving support of his grandparents who have given their all to give him a good life and to teach him the important lessons you have given to him.  He is a testimony to your love and your faithfulness to him.

To Abbie and Kim:  you are brand new mothers with tiny infant daughters, just beginning your journey as a Mom.   It is so wonderful to see both of you do it so well, showing your babies how much you cherish them.  You have both chosen wonderful young men to be your husbands;  both of them are kind, gentle and loving to their baby girls and will be wonderful dads throughout their lives.

Mothers’ Day is filled with deep meaning for each Mom who celebrates it with those she loves best.   All of us can give thanks for all the blessings that children and our families bring us….every day is truly Mothers’ Day for those of us who are called "Mom, Mama, Mommy, or Mother".     It is the greatest position on earth and we ought to do it well; there is so much at stake in raising up tiny children to adulthood, and seeing to it that they become adults who will continue to pattern that you have set in motion, as you "mother them" throughout their lives.  Motherhood never ends….it just goes on throughout the years of having babies, seeing them grow up and marry; and then we go on with our mothering as Grandmas.   

 It is the last thing we will think about as we leave this life behind…our precious children and our grandchildren.

LOTS OF EMOTIONS TODAY

I just finished reading the home page of the FORUM online and I am seething with emotions of various kinds.  3 stories hit me really hard.  First the good one:  Mike McFeely’s column about his Dad who has been dead for 20 years and MIke’s recall of learning to fish with his father.  Mike is an excellent writer—- and not just about sports.  That emotion was a happy one and a bit of a sad one for Mike, who has not had his Dad in his life for so many years.

The other two stories are emotional combinations of disgust, outrage and sadness.  The story about the loss of jobs at the factory in Wahpeton is even more disgusting when you read the news that these ND jobs are going to be re-located to a city in Mexico.  This has been the trend in the recent decade and the signing of certain treaties by past administrations and approval by our congress members has had a poor effect on American workers and American jobs.  NAFTA has not been good for the USA and the story about the closing of the business plant in Wahpeton is one more affirmation of that obvious fact.  I think also of how militant unionism in this nation has probably caused some of these outcomes, but businesses should be willing to pay decent wages for good work ethics which, surely they encountered in Wahpeton, ND.   I cannot imagine that they did not find people who were willing and ready to do the jobs.  But people south of the border  are willing to work for much less and the net profits are the bottom line ….and so another bunch of jobs leaves this country, in the name of "cheap labor".  I think this attitude is at the heart of our illegal alien problem too;  those illegals will work for so little that American businesses and those who want lawn and garden work done, fruit picked, cleaning services….will hire them illegally and try hard to turn a blind eye to their "workforce".  The feeble attempts by the government, to make immigrants come to the US legally are pathetic…..and so unfair to those immigrants who are willing to come into our nation in the legally acceptable immigration process.  It is totally disgusting to read about these matters.

I am also sad and disheartened by a report today of really awful vandalism in Hawley, MN, a small town in the outer valley.   Juveniles, most likely, spray painted cars, homes, and even a church with vile epithets, threw a spray paint can through a residents’ window and generally wreaked havoc on  a small town community.   The worst part of all this, is that if arrests are made, and they are juveniles, (most likely) the court system will let them off with a little wrist tap (probation) and the residents who suffered the damages will probably have to pay out of their own pockets to repair all the damages.   What those who did this deserve is a long period of confinement accompanied by making TOTAL reparations for the senseless vandalism they committed, including some hard physical labor to clean up the mess they made.    Parents should also be held accountable in a way that might make then think twice about their childrens’ behavior and what motivated those children to behave in such a manner.   The town of Hawley was subjected to national attention (humiliation) last summer when several youths burned a turtle, videotaped it and foolishly put their video online.   It makes one cringe to anticipate that these sorts of young people are holding the future of our nation in their rotten hands.  We can only hope that this is a very small minority of them.  I surely do not want to become a nursing home resident in the future and have this sort of character-impaired people taking care of me!!!!!  Put me out on the ice first, like the Aleut peoples do when their old people get too weak and frail to remain in their cultures.  

Reading the front page was pretty devastating today.    I have to get out and dig in the dirt and do some planting and looking around at the blossoming apples trees, the wild plum trees covered with white lacy flowers, the blooming chokecherry trees,  hear the Brown Thrashers singing their glorious lovesongs while they build their nests in our shelterbelt, breathe in the sweet country air and generally get grounded again after reading disheartening news.   Thankfully, Mike McFeely’s column was uplifting!

HIGH GAS PRICES ARE GREAT NEWS (?)

My husband handed me a printout of a really interesting column from a MIAMI HERALD syndicated columnist this morning when I was barely awake.  But it woke me up in a hurry when I read the banner:  "Record Gasoline Prices Great News For U.S."   The piece was the work of Andres Oppenheimer and it is worth discussing.

After Oppenheimer filled his gas tank recently at $3.41 per gallon, he made some of these observations.     Unless gas prices go over $4.00 per gallon, there will not be a national uproar that will force the U.S. government to reduce its "suicidal dependence" on foreign oil…most of which comes from countries who have Dictators who despise the U.S…..  including Hugo Chavez of Venezuela who ends his speeches nowadays with "Socialism or Death!"

Oppenheimer also points out that President Bush (2) is a Texas oilman at heart and though he may not overtly express it, his background keeps him from becoming pro-active for reducing our need for foreign oil.  Neither does the Congress, whose members are dependent on political contributions from American automakers, among many business interests including what Liberals scornfully refer to as "Big Oil".   Check the political contributions of Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, and other major Democrats and see what they have gotten from Big Oil and other related businesses that cause us to be held hostage to foreign oil.

Some other information included in Oppenheimer’s essay are not surprising to me:

"While light trucks and SUVs accounted for 19% of all vehicles in the US in 1975, the percentage grew to 50% by 2005"

"U.S. imports of foreign oil have soared to 35 percent of total US oil consumption in 1973 to 60 percent total oil consumption in 2006."

Oppenheimer further opines, "This is insane!  I have nothing against you buying a light truck or SUV if you are a soccer mom with quintuplets, a concert bass player, or a rancher in Montana."

He concludes his opinion piece by saying that the sooner we hit 4 bucks a gallon, the better.  Perhaps then America will get serious about doing something to cut off our dependence on foreign oil.

My own opinion:  it is time for the Liberals to get off their hypocritical butts, saying from one side of their mouth that we must reduce our need for foreign oil but out of the other side of their mouth, forbidding, legislatively, our ability to extract our own oil from ANWAR, from coastal oil wells, from building either new nuclear or coal power plants, complete with the most updated technology for environmentally sound power production, and from building any new refineries for decades.   Our current high gas prices are directly related to a back-log at American refineries which cannot keep up to the current demand. The Libs who advise us to "do as they say, not as they do" would have us sitting in our homes or traveling by foot or by bicycle to our destinations while THEY keep traveling in stretch limos, big SUVs or taking private jet planes which gobble more fuel in one trip than hundreds of us consume in a month.

We also need to get serious about Wind Power ( in spite of Senator Ted Kennedy blocking a big Wind Farm on Nantucket Island off the coast of Massachussetts, because it would interfere with the Kennedy familys’ "view" and with their "private" sailing areas on Nantucket Sound!!)  Go figure the Environmentalism of Teddy "Splash" Kennedy!  Not in my back yard, is Teddy’s watchword…wind farms other places but no on Nantucket Island!!! Hypocrite!

I am glad that Minnesota is taking a lead in ethanol production, although that technology is far from perfect and shows signs of polluting the air also.   We NEED to get serious about breaking our dependence on foreign oil….in many ways and as soon as we can convince the powers -that -be that we are not going to pay 6 bucks a gallon to feed our need for our car/truck/SUV culture.    There are very not a good signs ythat this is going to happen and it is going to take a lot of restraint, unknown to most modern Americans who have always had just what they want, when they want it, due to affluence, plus the maniacal use of credit cards.

Are we ready to give up our gas-guzzlers?  Our huge speed boats?  Our enormous pontoons? Our lengthy gas-guzzling vacations?   Our constant speeding over the limit on our highways and guzzling more fuel?     I will believe it when I start to see it.

HOORAY FOR MISS AMERICA!!!

Yesterday our copy of a weekly magazine we receive arrived and in it was a short, but sweet article about Miss America….not the one for 2007, but Miss America of 63 years ago! She is Venus Ramey who was crowned Miss America in 1944 and was a singular celebrity in that she was the first Miss America who had red hair!!   She is now retired at age 82, living on her own farm in Waynesburg, Kentucky.   She has had several thefts from her outbuildings, especially of metal objects which apparently are worth something to those who steal them and then sell them.  Recently she discovered a man rummaging in one of her barns for metal.  The 82 year old Ramey jumped into her vehicle and blocked the rummager’s truck.  She also had a .38 snub-nosed pistol with which she took aim and shot out one of the truck’s tires.   

"I didn’t even think twice" the article quoted her as saying, "I just went and did it.  If they’d even dared come close to me, they’d be 6 feet under now."   The CINCINNATI ENQUIRER published her story.   Her final comment was "He was probably wetting his pants."

I don’t doubt it one bit;  he might have done more than WET his pants, being confronted by a fiery old redhead with a .38 pistol she proved she could use when she blew out his truck tire.   The end of the story is left for us to imagine.   The thief must have had to flee on foot with the intrepid Miss America holding him at bay by blocking his truck….plus he surely didn’t want to hang around with her holding that pistol.  It did not say whether any law enforcement people got involved or whether the thief was capured.   If he escaped , he has probably passed the word to any of his metal-stealing, barn-rummaging buddies that there is one piece of property to stay far away from.

Hooray for Miss America of 1944!!!  There is an accompanying picture of her with two of her dogs; she still has red curly hair. even though she is pictured using a wheeled walking device.   Never mess with feisty old ladies!!!

BIG SCARY FISH

A couple of days ago on the Areavoices blog site there was a picture of a BIG scary fish with several men lined up holding it…it was so BIG and so scary.  Personally I am opposed to Big Scary Fish because it always takes me back to a day on a tiny lake east of Rollag MN when my Dad pulled in a Big Scary northern pike and I nearly lost my sister and my dog in the deal.

Dad built himself a one-man fishing craft many years ago; it was painted John Deere green and it did have a passenger seat but it was most defintely a one-man boat.  It was also "tippy" and if we got to go with Dad in his little green "pram", we had to sit totally still at all times and not move or change seats when we were afloat.   On this day in the summer of 1950-something, we were daring; there were my Dad, my little sister about 4 years old, our cocker spaniel-springer spaniel cross breed, Cindy and me.  Let’s just say the boat was very crowded but the passengers were being very good and obedient to my Dad’s orders to "sit still" and "don’t move around".  Even the dog was content with her spot on the flat bottom of the pram.  But then my Dad hooked a very BIG northern pike, of which my sister was already terrified, due to an experience earlier with my Uncle who slapped a huge northern pike on shore from the little stream that ran in the spring from "Lake Emma" to "Lake Laura".   At that time my little sister ran,screaming hysterically,that it was "an alligator!" and we had to catch her before she ran blindly into the road.  Now Dad’s BIG scary fish was on the boat bottom and still fighting the hook, wildy slapping its long snakey body all over the boat bottom, which immediately dislodged the dog, who made for my lap.  I was occupying  the extreme "aft" seat in the front of the boat.  And no sooner did the dog slither toward me than my panickey sister began to cry and scream, in the same way she had done when my Uncle swept the Big Scary fish up on the shore of the little stream.  She climbed in my lap also and even began to climb "up" me in an attempt to stay out of the way of the flapping monster that was making its way toward my legs.  I was just as scared as both the dog and my sister and had a life-long aversion to big scary fish,  but my Dad was shouting at me to "hold on  to her!" as he noticed that she seemed ready to abandon ship in spite of the fact that she could not swim and, of course, none of us were wearing life jackets…I do not think they had been invented then.

I hung on to my sister and the dog as the fish began slapping my legs,and I was equally frightened as I had seen the fish’s teeth as well as its long snakey body (it DID look like an alligator and I thought there was a possbility of my losing a toe or even one of my feet.)

All ended well, as my Dad finally dared to creep forward slowly (too slowly for my liking). He got the fish under control and nobody capsized the pram and nobody fell in the lake.  After the ordeal was over, everyone was once again back to normal. I got a rag to wipe off the "fish slime" on my legs.  I have believed in Guardian Angels since that time.  My sister calmed down and when the Big Scary fish was trailing on Dad’s fish line that he used to keep them alive, she wanted to see it up close—something I had no interest in.  The dog stayed close by me the rest of the time til we made it to shore and was having no more to do with the BIG scary fish either.

I cannot remember what happened with that particular Big Scary fish;  we probably had it for supper one night, fried in butter with a cracker crumb and egg coating on the pieces of that ugly Big Scary fish.  I never ate any of those fish; it was against my principles to eat ugly things like northern pike…plus I had watched my Dad "clean" those fish and the memory stayed with me ruining my appetite for lake fish.    I was close to being a Vegan in those days because Dad fished a lot and I refused to eat any of it.  We had a few good "food fights" over my stubborn refusal to eat the fish he caught—but that is another whole story for another time.

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