Sunday, September 27, 2020

The "Glass Gem" corn on the cob

 The "Glass Gem" corn on the cob, though not to be eaten, makes a lovely centerpiece ...

... and here's the story of how it was created. 

It begins with a half-Cherokee Oklahoma farmer named Carl Barnes who began growing older corn varieties in the 1970s as a way to reconnect with his heritage.  In growing these older corn varieties Barnes was able to isolate types that had been lost to the Native American tribes when they were relocated in the 1800's to what is now Oklahoma.

This led to an exchange of ancient corn seed with people he had met and made friends with all over the country. Barnes began selecting, saving and replanting seeds from particularly colorful cobs.  Over time this resulted in rainbow-colored corn.

A fellow farmer, Greg Schoen, met Barnes in 1994 at a native-plant gathering in Oklahoma.  Barnes had his rainbow-colored corn on display and Schoen was blown away. Barnes gave Schoen some of the rainbow seeds and they became and remained close friends for many years. 

Carl Barnes passed away in 2016 but Schoen has continued to sow the colorful seeds and is still "blown away" each year when he sees what he has produced.

You can purchase seeds from him, but the supplies are limited and inexpensive. I definitely felt that Greg Schoen is much more interested in the conservation of the seeds than in selling them.  He sees that his work is to conserve and protect Glass Gem corn along with the nearly 2,000 rare, arid lands-adapted crop varieties.  "As Carl Barnes has taught us", he says, "all it takes is one person to create a more colorful, diverse and abundant world ... one seed at a time."

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

He's killing us ...

I had a nice “feel good” blog entry scheduled to run today but I am going to put it off for a few days because I feel compelled to share what happened to me this morning as I listened to the news.

I literally spoke out loud to the TV as I watched Trump's latest fiasco ... his huge rally last night. Just another of his ego trips but it hit me like it's never done before. I realize now that I have become numb to his lies and it's exactly what he's relying on as he completely ignores all protocols for safety during this Pandemic.

As I watched and listened to his hateful speech to an adoring audience of non-mask wearers it finally hit me and I yelled out loud to an empty room … "My God, the president of the United States is, literally, killing us."

I've secretly thought it for months but it's always been followed by ..."don't be so dramatic, Ginnie.  This is the United States ... he could never get away with that," but how naive can I be?  Of course it is exactly what he is doing. Just like he's never relinquished his business holdings or his taxes like all the past Presidents have done. He just sits on his throne making more money for himself and his corrupt businesses and pretends to care about the country while he tears us apart.

This is eerily similar to what Hitler did in the 30's. He brought out the hidden prejudices of an unhappy nation and that was more than enough to allow him to proceed.  We MUST stem this tide and I won't be silenced any more.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Ruth Bader Ginsburg … 3/15/33 to 9/18/20

Our nation has lost our beloved RBG and words can't express how sad this makes me. Not only is her wisdom gone but the heartless McConnell and his sleazy sycophants are jumping for joy. It's little wonder that he calls himself “the grim reaper”.

Do any of us remember when, 9 months before the Presidential election in 2016, President O'bama put up the name of Merrick Garland to replace Antonin Scalia in the Supreme Court? These are the words that McConnell, the majority leader in the Senate, said then. “The American people should have a voice in the election of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.”

But just HOURS after the announcement of Ginsburg’s death on Friday, McConnell declared, “President Trump’s nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate.”

What, in the name of everything sacred, has become of our once wonderful country? We have a maniac as a president and a cult that follows every dirty trick that he puts forth. Will this nightmare never end????


Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Memories of Italy, September 11, 2001


On September first 2001 my dream of a lifetime began. My friend Douglas and I were on a plane leaving Newark and heading to Italy. He was a retired architect and a world traveler so it was a great treat for me to be able to tap into his expertise. I had planned the trip with the aid of an informative book entitled “Lodging in Italy’s Monasteries” and Douglas was happy to go along with that. (The picture above is where we lodged in Florence.)

On September 11th we'd spent the day in Assisi and returned late in the afternoon to our monastery in the small town of Bavagna. The first inkling that something was wrong was when the people in the Piazza called to us and pointed to their little bar/coffee shop/ice cream parlor, insisting that we go there. The shop boasted the only TV in the square and it was just recording the horrific events of 9/11.

I can hardly put into words how this affected us. We felt totally shocked and helpless. A nice couple from Canada took us to their hotel and we tried to make calls to our family members in the U.S., but it would be 4 days before we could get through. When we left them and returned to the piazza a nun was waiting for us. She was from the monastery where we were staying and she led the way to an ancient church in the center of the town where she unlocked the side door and beckoned us to enter.

The interior of the church was cool and musty and we were completely alone. It didn’t seem to matter that neither Douglas nor I practiced any type of formal religion. We sat quietly absorbing the atmosphere, each lost in our own thoughts, and in about an hour the little nun came back. We tried to show our appreciation although we knew very little Italian and it was hard to speak without crying. She kept nodding her head to show that she understood and then gave Douglas a pat on the back and me a warm hug.

Now it is 19 years later and that day still haunts me, as I know it does for so many others. It also reminds me of the compassion and love that were shown to us...not only by the townspeople of Bavagna, but from all the Italians that we encountered during our month’s stay in their wonderful country. It is a memory that I will cherish forever.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Absolutely INCREDIBLE ...


This is the cover of the latest book to be published about President Trump. Not only is it written by the Pulitzer-winning Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward, (arguably the most influential journalist living), but it is substantiated by 18 phone conversations that President Trump made to Mr. Woodward knowing that all of them would be on tape.

It is incredibly damning to the President and one has to ask the question …”what was Trump thinking?” The best explanation that I have heard so far has to do with Donald Trump's enormous EGO. He has great faith in his ability to sell people on his version of events and thought it would be a great seal on his time in office if he could have a positive book written by a first rate journalist.

It would seem that Donald Trump actually thought he could “play” Bob Woodward into writing a book of praise about himself and his Presidency. He must have forgotten the fact that it was Woodward and fellow writer Bernstein who where instrumental in President Nixon's resignation in 1974.

Readers of this book will determine for themselves how to judge Trump but there is no doubt that his thinking of himself as a “very stable genius” may, in the end, prove to be his greatest weakness.

Monday, September 07, 2020

Rachel Carson's "Silent Spring"

 I happened across this picture recently and it brought back some vivid memories.

The year was 1962 and my husband, three children and I had just moved from New York City to a very small town in upstate New York. It was a polar change and I was so looking forward to the chirping of birds instead of the ever present sounds of traffic that we'd left behind.

I remember that, once we were settled in, the children and I took a walk to acquaint us with our new surroundings. I watched the squirrels scatter away as the children ran after them and dogs, cats and all sorts of farm animals were abundant. It all seemed generic to our new life style but I sensed that something was wrong and I couldn't put my finger on it.

A few days later I was talking with one of my new neighbors and she mentioned the book that just came out. “It's written by Marine Biologist Rachel Carson” she said “and the title is Silent Spring.” BINGO … immediately I realized what had been bothering me. It WAS, just as her title said, a silent spring! What happened to the birds? How could I take a long walk in the country and not hear the chirping of them or see them either?

Evidently Carson had a friend who had a bird sanctuary on her property and, following state law, it had been sprayed with the pesticide DDT. It was after that when her friend noticed that birds were dying in large numbers and she asked Carson to help in stopping the use of DDT.

Carsons amazing book presents a powerful case and demonstrates that people were affected too by whatever affected nature. The rest is history and, despite the push back from the makers of pesticides she lived long enough to know she had made the desired impact.

Rachel Carson died from cancer in 1964, less than 2 years after the publication of “Silent Spring.”

Friday, September 04, 2020

Yesterday I learned …

That there were some amazing animals that were heroes in World War I. Let me introduce you to three of them:

1. Rags, a mixed breed dog from France, became a war hero and saved many lives in World War I.

While in the trenches of World War I the U.S. First Infantry Division found themselves unable to communicate with nearby troops because shellfire had damaged their telephone wires. However, a young private came up with a unique solution. He and his buddies had adopted the dog, Rags, in Paris and they felt sure he could carry messages from one division to the next tucked into his collar. They were right and Rags became a war hero.  

After the war Rags came to the United States with that same young soldier and they lived in Maryland. When Rags died, at the old age of 20, he was buried with Military Honors. 

2. Sergeant Stubby, a mixed breed dog with a stubby tail started out as a stray who hung around a group of soldiers while they were training in New Haven, CT.  He eventually became the most famous canine hero of WWI. He served in 17 battles in France alongside his best friend Private J. Robert Conroy and the 102nd Infantry, 26th Yankee Division. The fearless pup performed a number of vital roles, including alerting troops to incoming gas attacks, catching German spies, locating missing soldiers in between the trenches and boosting morale.

At the war’s end, the brave dog received a medal from Gen. John J. Pershing, commander of the American forces in Europe, who saluted the dog’s “heroism of highest caliber” and “bravery under fire.” 

3. Cher Ami... This one came from my Granddaughter who wrote: Let’s add some feathers to this mass of  fur"  Cher Ami was a messaging pigeon serving in the Argonne Forest with the 77th Infantry Division when the battalion of 550 soldiers she was with was completely cut off by German forces. After four days of heavy fighting, friendly artillery decided the battalion must have surrendered already and began firing on the 77th. 

Since the 77th just refused an offer to surrender and was very much still in the position, this was a  problem.  Maj. Charles Whittlesy ordered a message sent back to headquarters.  Cher Ami, despite a hole in her chest and a nearly amputated leg, got back into the air and delivered her message.  194 soldiers made it out alive thanks to her actions.

Tuesday, September 01, 2020

Meet Julia Jackson

 Julia Jackson is the biological mother of Jacob Blake, the black man, caught on film, who was shot 7 times in the back on August 23rd. It's almost a miracle that he is still alive but he will most likely be paralyzed for the rest of his life.

Here is her incredible speech … given two days after the tragedy:

"As I was riding through here, through the city, I noticed a lot of damage. It doesn’t reflect my son or my family. If Jacob knew what was going on as far as that goes, the violence and the destruction, he would be very unpleased. So I'm really asking and encouraging everyone in Wisconsin and abroad to take a moment and examine your hearts. Citizens, police officers, fireman, clergy, politicians, do Jacob justice on this level and examine your hearts.

We need healing. As I pray for my son’s healing physically, emotionally, and spiritually, I also have been praying even before this for the healing of our country. God has placed each and every one of us in this country because he wanted us to be here. Clearly, you can see by now that I have beautiful brown skin, but take a look at your hand and whatever shade it is, it is beautiful as well. How dare we hate what we are? We are humans. God did not make one type of tree or flower or fish or horse or grass or rock. How dare you ask him to make one type of human that looks just like you?

I’m not talking to just Caucasian people, I am talking to everyone. White, black, Japanese, Chinese, red, brown, no one is superior to the other. The only supreme being is God himself. Please let’s begin to pray for healing for our nation. We are the United States. Have we been united? Do you understand what’s going to happen when we fall? Because a house that is against each other can not stand.

To all of the police officers, I’m praying for you and your families. To all of the citizens, my black and brown sisters and brothers, I’m praying for you. I believe that you are an intelligent being just like the rest of us. Every body, let’s use our hearts, our love, and our intelligence to work together, to show the rest of the world how humans are supposed to treat each other.

America is great when we behave greatly. Thank you.