Archive for the ‘agriculture’ Category

The Crossroads

June 28, 2016

The legend lives on from the blues men on down of the big choice they call the ole crossroads.

The crossroads, it is told, is where a man’s mortal soul can be sold for a life of good fortune.

Somewhere out there in the delta, in the sweltering heat of Mississippi where the cotton grew high and the ancient blues twangers sang their mournful 12-bar tunes about how hard life is and how much much harder it could be when the love of a woman is tasted but then gets lost somewhere between trouble and tragedy, and the tragedy is turned into song. . . out there where Miss’ippi mud is blacker than New’Awlins coffee, and the blues pangs clangin’ off them ole guitar strings is thicker and stronger than bad whisky. . .

that ole crossroads where they say the devil would hang around waitin’ for the blues man to come walkin’ along, desperate for some kind of simple twist of fate that would set his heartstrings and his sixstrings into a new direction, where he could catch a ride to Memphis or NewYawk and sing them blues into the big microphone and get satisfaction for his pain, get some monetary compensation for sharing his pain with the world, to the tune of . . .Crossroads

  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yd60nI4sa9A

As I was a-growin’ up down there in Miss’ippi, snotty-nosed clueless white kid in the suburbs of Jackson, late 1950’s, my daddy might have driven right over them very crossroads, out there in the piney woods backwoods near where Robert Johnson and Pop Staples had cranked out their doleful blues tunes. My daddy might have clunked over them crossroads in the old Ford station wagon as he was driving the backroads doing forestry work, but if he did I never knew it.

Wasn’t ’til later that I found out about them blues, encountered them blues for myself while tasting for my own young self the sorts of pain that this life can deal out.

Years later, when I was wandering in the college scene in the late ’60s, I got a little turned around and confused and encountered the blues, found myself romanticizing some pain that was in my head and a little too caught up in the mary jane and the avoidance of the pain, but still managed somehow to gain a degree, for what its worth, in political science or English or some useless crossroads thereof.

I say useless, but not really.

It’s good to learn to read and write, and to research etc blahblahblah. Now I’m working on a fourth novel, like a thousand and one other boomer fools.

But As I was sayin’, One thing led to another and then after college I was in Florida for awhile, selling insurance and then advertising with many a night misspent in topless bars and what not, followed by a few nights in Pasco county jail and the night I got out of jail I saw a movie that had been made in the mountains of North Carolina and so I, still running from my troubles, went up there, landed in Asheville, been there ever since, not in Asheville but in the great green state of North Carolina.

 North Carolina Is My Home

After a few more false starts and dead ends I finally found, by the grace of God, salvation and the love of my life, from whose womb birth was given that brought forth our three children and this wonderful life, which is, as it turned out, so richly lived, even without all the money that I coulda shoulda woulda made had I made better choices.

Now after 35 years of building houses and other structures I suddenly found myself turning a corner toward the big 65 when I found myself not yet ready to throw in the towel  and just settle into the social security dole which supposedly I have contributed to all these years and therefore earned, so I went and got myself a job at Lowe’s home center, which is at the crossroads between two great industries of this country–retail and construction–not a bad place to be in America.

Crossroads

Now at this late stage, looking back on it all, it seems I’ve been, like many boomers, and like many so-called millennials will be by the time they get to be my age, underemployed. Hey, I’ve been underemployed all my life, but that has turned out to be no big deal.

It’s been a good ride, thanks be to God.

And the big 65, which I’ll turn here in about three weeks, is really nothing special–no magic number, so I’ll keep paying my dues–which is to say, working– for a few more years because this life is, as the Beatles said on Abbey Road. . . the bread you make is equal to the bread . . . you take.

  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVYjQScC1DY

Or something like that.

And so my advice to all you millennials and gen-Xers out there who are over-educated, underpaid and underemployed is this:

Find a job, any job, and just stay busy working, learning, progressing toward your destiny. Don’t wait for .gov or Bernie or anybody else to bail you out because this world really does not work that way.

Get busy, stay busy, work every day you can, and your destiny will find you by the time you’re my age and you will find that . . .

Life is good. Make the best of it. Don’t wait for a handout and don’t blame anyone else for your troubles.

But you can sing the blues if it helps you to deal with the pain. And you may find yourselves, along the way, at a crossroads or two, but don’t sell your soul.

Glass half-Full

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California Water

June 26, 2016

There is a fair wind that blows eastward off the Pacific. It renders the state of California a most agreeable place in which to live and prosper. In the middle of that state’s long coastline the San Francisco region is kept– perpetually it seems– pleasantly cool in summer and moderately warm in winter.

And so, a most amicably crisp climate cloaks the Bay area with weatherilogical favor.  Sharp, brilliant sunshine is tempered  from time to time by the marauding presence of this deep dark fog; it rolls up from the ocean like some kind of commandeering trade midst on a mission.

Tumbling across the coastal ranges, these magnificent, mist blankets drape down into the Silicon valley like an overly ecstatic angel investor. As far as precipitation, it doesn’t seem to amount to much, but surely it helps to periodically clothe the Bay area in a perpetual curtain of mystery, and the Peninsula in a cloud of digitally enhanced inspiration.

Such fairly weatheric environs does not however, assure sufficient water for the millions of people who live there. And so, many and many a year ago, the powers that be among Bay Area movers and shakers put their heads together and devised a plan or two to bring water from the far (160 mile far) east so’s people could have water to drink and bathe in and live in.

Over there on the western slope of the Sierra Nevada mountains they found a deep valley in which a cold river flowed so luxuriously. It was on the northwestern end of the Yosemite area. A river ran through it; Tuolemne River. Men put their arms and legs and picks and shovels and machines together and built a huge dam there. Beginning in 1919, they labored on the project through 1923; but one delay or another kept dragging the project along. Finally, they got the thing going, delivering water to the coastal regions, long about 1934. They named the reservoir Hetchy Hetch.

So Hetchy Hetch catches water for San Franciscans.  From the air, I think it looks something like this:

SierrWatr

Down in the deserty California southland, similar projects had already been undertaken, but on a larger scale because that arid region requires more massive hydrous acquisitions, and from farther regions. About 1905, San Fernando valley-dwellers and their Los Angeleno neighbors set their sites on the Owens Lake, which is found beneath the eastern slope of Sierras in southern end the Owens Valley, about 233 miles northeast of their dry metropolis-in-the-making.

An engineer named Mulholland was the ramrod of their hugely ambitious aqueous project. By the time of its completion in 1913, 3900 workers had labored on its very long mountain-valley-through-desert 233 mile course. According to Wikipedia, the Los Angeles Aqueduct project

. . . consisted of 24 mi (39 km) of open unlined canal, 37 mi (60 km) of lined open canal, 97 mi (156 km) of covered concrete conduit, 43 mi (69 km) of concrete tunnels, 12.00 mi (19.31 km) steel siphons, 120 mi (190 km) of railroad track, two hydroelectric plants, three cement plants, 170 mi (270 km) of power lines, 240 mi (390 km) of telephone line, 500 mi (800 km) of roads[15] and was later expanded with the construction of the Mono Extension and the Second Los Angeles Aqueduct.[16

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Los_Angeles_Aqueduct 

History shows, then, that Californians have, to say the least, gone to great lengths to get their water.

Owens Lake, the original low-hanging-fruit that initially attracted thirsty southern Californians, had pretty much dried up by 1926, provoking the water-seekers to set their sights and sites farther afield, farther north up into the Owens River of the Owens Valley, all the way up to an endorheic basin called Mono, where Mono Lake languishes in the dry heat. By 1941, the slakers of Los Angeles had extended their aqueous acquisitions to Mono’s sparsely hydrous resources, which now seem to be going the way of the Owens buffalo, as a visit to the Mono Lake Committee will confirm.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mono_Lake_Committee   

Last Friday, I caught a view of Mono Lake as we began our flight home to our most-hydrous misty Appalachian domicile, after our son’s wedding in the San Francisco Bay area.

Mono Lake, being an endorheic, 13-mile-by-9-mile, big-but-diminishing pond is surrounded by salty, dusty particulate deposits which appear as white beaches around its perimeter.

However, the most notable feature of my Friday aero-view was a long plume of smoke drifting eastward from Mono Lake’s western shore. I later learned that a fire, which had begun at a marina, has been raging away on that Sierra slope for several days.

SmokLake

I hope they can stop that fire.

And I would like to propose a toast: to all the Californians– best wishes for responsibly sufficient water conservation activities in the years to come. Cheers! May you live long and hydrate.

Glass half-Full

Oh, Give Them

June 13, 2016

Oh give them some land to work with

and some water to make stuff grow.

Give them some tools to turn the earth over

and push all that dirt around,

productively.

Teach them to Plow it and disc it and

tend it and harvest it

and ship the Fruits of it out so folks can

Eat.

And give them some Water; we need

water.

Oh yeah let ’em eat drink and be merry.

Yeah, let ’em do all that

in this our promised land.

Let ’em slice it and dice it and

multiply, divide it.

PlotTown

Let ’em add this that and the other

and subtract what they think they don’t need,

let ’em Seed and Feed.

PlotSqr

Let the wise lead,

and hope they’ve chosen wisely.

Let the simple be fulfilled,

and not by their leaders be killed.

At the Wonder of it all, let us be thrilled.

Let us carve the earth and marvel at it all–

what we’ve done and what

we’ve made.

SouthBay

But hey, please don’t let it go to our heads.

Instead, help us

Try to keep it in perspective with

some eyes on the big picture,

eyes on the prize

not obsessing with the size

of all this stuff.

Give us some Air to breath

and help us put on some wings and fly

AirLand

Oh yeah

but help them limit our negative effects; let them

temper their intrusions, boost our inclusion.

We need to regulate it and yet we need

to deregulate it help us

figure all that part out that

delicate balance

sensitive valence.

We gotta prioritize it  and sensibly control it.

Let ’em have a firm hand, a steady hand,

but, yeah, a gentle hand.

Let them take care in what they do with the earth

and the air.

Let them share;

and yes, be fair.

Yeah, let us be fair to one another,

and make sure there’s enough to go around

for everybody. I’m not making this up.

Let them prosper and proceed

with their plans

but let them pray

today.

Yea, Let us pray.

Hey God. . .

Glass half-Full

Incentives for Development instead of Dependency

December 13, 2015

I’ve been working for the last six years as a maintenance man in an apartment complex that houses 92 households.

You know as well as I do that it is not easy to get up and go to a job five days out of every week that goes by, and to do this week after week, month after month, year after year.

Now for an old guy like me, age 64, while approaching that precipice called “retirement” and considering how/when such an arrangement may take shape, it has been difficult lately.

I’ve been struggling with a few issues, both public and private, pertaining to this job that has occupied 40 hours of my time every week for the last six years.

The apartment complex in which I maintain all this stuff–toilets, faucets, sinks, drains, light fixtures, electrical outlets, water heaters, doors, windows, cabinets, floors, stairways, interiors, exteriors, dumpsters, trash, smoke-filled rooms. . .this apartment community is a public housing arrangement in which rents are subsidized, according to need and income, through funds that have been provided through taxpayer money.

I confess that one problem I have had lately comes from wondering why I have to do all this work, when many tenants don’t seem to have much to occupy their time. I mean, everybody has a TV and that’s okay.

I don’t really want to elude my responsibilities as an employed person. But I do believe that if there is, among the hundred+ residents here, a good person who is willing to take on some responsibility to do some necessary work. . .that person should be allowed to contribute some of their time and effort toward making the community facilities cleaner and more operative.

But I cannot expect this type of help from tenants.

I am, you know, the employee, while they are the tenants. I am the worker; they are the recipients of my services.

And I have, during previous periods of my life, benefited from some college-level training in education. Accordingly, I would like to take opportunities now and then to teach others, especially children, to do for themselves instead of me the Maintenance guy doing all of it.

A year or two ago, a good thing happened in this complex where I work. A helpful tenant who lives here took it upon himself to help me in cleaning one of our two laundry rooms. I was pleased to have his participation, especially since I have a steady stream of vacancies to deal with–vacancies that require painting, cleaning and repairs. There should be more people in the world who are like this good citizen who has volunteered to help make the community in which he lives, in which I work, a better place.

Nevertheless, I was informed that it was not his place to do so. Because he is, after all, the tenant, while I am the employee.

In other instances during my six years, tenants have been compelled to uproot plants–decorative and vegetable– that they had planted in the mulched sterile areas around the buildings. Because it was against the rules. Management is supposed to do all that, and make those decisions, etc. And this place is subsidized by the USDA. The A stands for Agriculture. Fed-approved agriculture of course, not tenant-planted agriculture.

I told a friend of mine recently that if I had a million bucks I’d buy the whole dam place and then let the tenants have their own community garden instead of these useless ornamental shrubs and mulch, and I’d turn my maintenance job over to a tenant committee where they could divvy out the work as it arises, and be compensated accordingly with rent credit or benefits or cash.

Well, my struggle with these issues was punctuated this Sunday morning with some other inputs about this type of situation.

I was listening in on Listening In, which is an online audio program that is provided weekly by World Magazine, of which I am a subscriber.

  http://www.worldmag.com/player.php?podcast/7467

In this recorded discussion, I heard host Warren Smith interviewing guest Jennifer Marshall, who represents the Institute for Family, Community and Opportunity of the Heritage Foundation. They were conducting a fresh discussion about a tired old topic, welfare reform.

Jennifer was explaining the outcome of a recent forum at Heritage, the purpose of which was to help people escape poverty.

She mentioned that the major welfare reform of 1996 had been successful in reducing welfare loads and reducing child poverty. But only one program was dealt with. She further stated what needs to happen is reform of–not just cash welfare program– but food stamps, public housing and other programs. And then she made this statement:

“The incentives right now are structured toward dependence; let’s get them structured toward moving people back to independence, back to flourishing in their communities.”

And I thought, she may have a good point there. But I don’t know what I could do about it.

Life goes on.

In other news, its a beautiful, sunny day here in the Blue Ridge.

Have a nice day, and a satisfyingly productive week.

Glass half-Full