May 14, 2014
"Chefs, open your baskets. Inside you will find alligator
head, cotton candy, and garbanzo beans. You have twenty minutes to prepare an
Compared to the nightly news, selecting Chopped as
evening viewing is easy. With the exception of PBS news hour on
Fridays when David Brooks is on, television news is so much junk food. The other night
a French chef on the show opened a bottle of prepared salad dressing, smelled
it, and exclaimed, "American food is all made of sugarrr." American news is
composed of processed information bits designed to promote the liberal
agenda - not sweet, but certainly unhealthy for the nation.
The other program we watch is House Hunters International.
Couples moving to other countries are shown three homes or units to choose from.
You learn a bit about living in another country, but most important nobody is
yelling obscenities, pointing pistols, or pillorying the politically incorrect. The most demonstrative
action is when a buyer says "Wow!" when introduced to a slick kitchen or an
This morning I received an email from my cousin who lives in
New Jersey, but was born and raised near Hog Eye, Mississippi. He had seen a
Facebook post by my nephew going on about a store near where I live that still makes and
sells cracklins. Coz wants me to send a batch so he can cook up some cracklin
cornbread. I agreed to do so, but warned him that cracklin bread is deadly for
those who do not have a pure southern soul. Since I lived 30 years in Kansas
before coming home I limit my consumption of cracklins to once a year - on
Robert E. Lee's birthday. On that day I dine on cracklin cornbread with
butter and ribbon can molasses. The corn meal is made from corn that I grow, the
bread is cooked in a cast iron skillet that has never been washed, and the
ribbon cane comes from the C.S. Steen Syrup Mill in south Louisiana. Usually
there is a side dish of greens.
Coz plans to serve cracklin cornbread to a bunch of his New
Jersey buddies. I only sent one pound as I fear reading about multiple deaths
occurring in N.J. after dem guys eat a bait of cracklin
bread. Actually, I purchased a pound, but the package was a bit lighter by the
time it enter the mail, dem guys should only suffer a bit of gas.
May 15, 2014
Walker Percy wrote that he felt pity for the displaced southerners who had move
north and were living lives of abstraction. In 1998 after 29
years in the north the gravitational pull of Arkansas finally overcame me and I
went, dragging my distraught wife along, home to the cabin I had built years
the family farm. Along with the cabin I had a small herd of cows, and some
basic farm machinery, but I was not finished with higher education: I helped the
Arkansas two-years colleges learn about distance education, then I spent five
years at Texas A&M teaching teachers how to stage courses online. To this
day I still teach a college course online and plan to continue as long as
feasible. And like Brer Rabbit I am happy to be in the briar patch...'be it ever so
Many entries in the WSJ or other such news
outlets offer advice for those considering retirement. I doubt if anybody will read much less
heed my pearls of wisdom, but here goes. My first
advise for anyone planning to retire is to
keep partially employed. Most of the old guys I talk with know of retirees who
spent too much time in a recliner in front of the TV and soon move into a coffin. They all
quote Satchel Paige,
"Don't look back. Something might be gaining on you." Just
keep on rollin' along, but at a slower pace.
Second, boys and their toys are inseparable and old men are
in many ways only white
headed boys. In my opinion farm toys are the best, tractor, brush
hog, log splitter, chain saw, and so on. The shop tools are next best, table
saw, electric drill, and on and on. Then comes boats, guns, and fishing
equipment. But of all my toys the apple of my eye is:
"A Motor Car!" said Mr. Toad
|| aka farm utility implement
The one I drive about is a Yamaha fuel-injected model - the
handiest toy on the place. The battery powered units (les chariot
électrique) are a bit heavy and
tend to get stuck in the mud. You can attach a bed, attach a sprayer for weeds, or
just drive up the road and visit with a neighbor. Hot damn!
Third, make plans. My mother said
my grandfather was making plans for the next year when he died at age 99. All of
the toys in the world are useless if you are overtaken by boredom. Cultivate jeu-de-vie, it
supports everything else.
Albrecht Durer, Melencolia
Even angels get the blues - in spite of all the toys.
Fourth. Keep mentally engaged. Bridge,
books, chess, crossword puzzles, and what passes for repartee with other old
dudes. There is an inverse relation between how well a old guy is doing and how
much TV he watches. Old men need three places to go besides home. Mine are 1)
gym, 2) office w/computer, and 3) outdoors. Outdoors means moving about
the farm, doing with I fell like - cutting down a tree or working in the
Grow spiritually. This does not mean religion, there is a spiritual aspect to
life whether you get stigmata at Easter or are a proselytizing athiest. For
several years I taught a Sunday school class composed of old men. Doing the
research for the lessons was good mental exercise. After a few years I took my
name off the rooster, because very few if any old guys were paying attention.
I could have held that prayer was a waste of time and Jesus was
a practicing Hindu, but if I told two good jokes and finished ahead of
schedule they would have given me a round of applause. Once a local judge
was "bringing the message" and naming Biblical tribes, he said,
"Ammonites, Israelites, and the Parasites." After the class I came over, shook
his hand and said, "Now tell me more about the Parasites." He looked me straight
in the eyes and said, "You are the only one who noticed - now don't say a
word." I smiled nodded and moved on, we both knew what we were up against.
I can not say how to grow spiritually, but sliding into a mental stupor is
Finally. Exercise and a good diet, of course
everybody knows that and has opinions on both topics. You can do nothing about
the genes you inherited, but you can follow Satchel Paige's advice, "Don't eat
fried food, it angries up the blood."
WSJ: "The onboarding process is one way wealthy families are
trying to smooth intrafamily relations and safeguard their fortunes for future
generations. As the scions of the patriarchs grow up and get married, the
importance of teaching about wealth and its preservation rises, according to
families and their advisers."
One of my cousins made a pile of money and promptly turned
into a fool. He was know to stop strangers and display a brief case stacked full
of 100 dollar bills. Family members learned to hid when he came around to
keep from hearing about his money. After building a house that could have been
home to a herd of elephants, he decided the money could buy servants to live his
life for him. The servants, cooked, drove, fetched, and eventually rolled him
around; although there was nothing wrong with his legs, he had a servant push
in a wheel chair. He must have heard about oriental potentates carried to and
a palanquin. Eventually
he died of inactivity and an acute lack of friends. At his funeral when they
lowered his casket into the ground another cousin standing next to me said, "Do
you think we should all do the wave?"
May 20, 2014
We saw a pair of scissor-tailed flycatchers in a pine tree
next to the cabin. Just hoping they decide to build a nest thereabouts.
Yesterday afternoon I realized that a missing calf had gone
through the fence into a neighbors pasture and was unable to get back. The calf
was bawling and the mamma was standing nearby calling to the calf. I
decided to come back in the morning with wire cutters - if the calf had not
managed to get back in I would cut a wire in the fence and drive it through the
gap. This morning I went over and found an unconcerned mamma cow and no calf.
So, I don't know if the calf went off with the neighbors cows, if coyotes
dragged it off or what. All I can do is check later today.
Below is a fine 19th century view of Salzburg looking
east across the river to the famous hill. The last time we were there Placido
Domingo was in concert and we encountered happy bunches of folks in evening
attire on their way to the concert hall. We were not invited.
View of Salzburg with the Kapuzinerberg
Oil on wood, 38 x 48 cm
May 21, 2014
The wayward calf wandered back, but still on the wrong side of
the fence. We opened the gap between pastures, drove the golf cart behind the
calf and walked it along side the fence to and through the gap. Mother and baby
reunited, all is well. Calves can find their way out of a
pasture, but seldom can they find their way home.