The Ozarks Almanac

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Sunday, December 4, 2016

Persimmon seeds lied to me last fall, so should I trust them this year?


Three on top are definitely knives. Five below may be spoons or ladles or large knives. Not sure which.

I've written many dumb headlines over the years, but I can't take credit for this one.
The persimmon seeds I gathered from the tree in my side yard last fall predicted a cold, wet, snowy winter. They were wrong. It turned out to be quite mild. Flooding was more of a problem than were snowdrifts or ice.

Of course, I am not complaining, but I was thinkng about skipping the folklore weather forecast this year.

I couldn't resist it, though, and a couple of weeks ago, right after the first frost, I picked up seven persimmons from beneath the tree in my yard. I picked out the seeds from those seven fruit, and I selected 12 of the thickest seeds. Seven is the number of days of creation, counting the day the Lord rested from that burden. Twelve is the number of Hebrew tribes; it is also the number of the original disciples.
I split the 12 fat seeds in half, and I was fortunate to find eight of the 24 halves legible. Eight is the number of people on the Ark, counting Noah, during the Flood, a weather-related incident.

You can see from the photo of poor quality at the top of this post that three of the halves were definitely knives. That means some cold, cutting temperatures. For back-up to that forecast, see the headline in the local newspaper that was printed a couple of weekends ago. We are definitely going to  have some cooler temperatures when winter gets here; it's right there in the paper.

I have not run across any woolly worms to see what they have to say.

The five seed halves on the second row are not clear to me. They might be spoons. They might be ladles. A couple of them might be big knives. I just don't know.

But there are no forks! Forks mean a mild winter. Once again, the seeds seem to be telling us that we are going to have a bitterly cold and wet, snowy winter. Maybe that will just be in my side yard where the tree is.

On a related note, I got this letter from reader Martha Furman Kojro, of Doolittle, Missouri, who has followed my writings about folklore weather forecaasting for many years.

Dear RD,
In the Farmers’ Almanac  daily newsletter I came across another way to predict the severity of winter.
It seems that the color of a goose’s breastbone can be used to foretell the future weather events. A red or darkly spotted bone means that winter will be cold and stormy. A light color or lightly spotted bone indicates a mild winter.
If you publish this advice I hope that there are enough geese available at our local grocery stores to meet the demand of folk scientists in the area. The few wooly worms that I’ve seen this year in my part of  Phelps county indicate a mild winter.
I  might  be cooking a goose for Sunday dinner in order to further folk science research!
Yours Truly,
Martha Furman Kojro

I told Martha that if she cooks a goose to let me know what she found. She told me later that she could not find a goose in our little town.
I guess we'll just have to rely on persimmons and the local paper.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Buy Nothing Day supported by economic ignoramuses

If you are reading this over your morning coffee, getting ready to leave for your office soon, I will be looking forward to my first morning break. I've been on the job since 6 a.m., and I wasn't the first person to get here. The stocking crew has been here since 4 a.m.

We are in retail. We work for a Fortune 50 big-box store, and we, most of us anyway, like it. We get a good wage and we full-timers have good benefits. And the seasonal and part-time workers who want to work hard usually get bumped up to full-time. You hear all kinds of crap about evil corporations. Maybe there is such a thing; this isn't one of them.

To hear some people talk, though, our company and so, I guess, we loyal employees, too, are the epitome of evil. We are so evil, in fact, that the self-righteous crowd encouraged a boycott of us, and others like us, on Friday, known as Black Friday, one of our most important shopping (revenue-producing) days in the year.

Buy Nothing Day is what the I'm-better-and-smarter-than-you crowd calls Black Friday. According to USA Today, Buy Nothing Day has been around since the 1990s. I had never heard about it until last year when I was reading a tweet from that twit Shane Claiborne, who is some kind of halfway preacher and book writer in the social media, who was encouraging people to stay away from stores on Black Friday because of their evilness. I wrote back to him sarcastically thanking him for trying to harm the people who employ working stiffs like me and others. He did not respond.

This year he wrote, "Draw something. Sew something. Cook something. Sing something. Build something. Make something. Buy nothing." I wrote back and suggested people not buy his books that he is constantly advertising on the social media.

I don't know what kind of weird world Shane lives in, but apparently he thinks people can draw, sew, cook, build or make things without buying any materials to do so. And buying on Black Friday or other days when prices are reduced makes good sense.

Let me tell you about the sane world I worked in Friday, Black Friday. My corporation marked down prices on lots of merchandise. We had a good day with lots of customers. It seemed to me we had more customers for this Black Friday than we have had since our first one in 2007. I waited on a lot of customers who were looking to buy tools for a loved one. In other departments, they were buying appliances and snow blowers, all kinds of things to make lives easier and homes safer, cleaner, prettier and more convenient.

We didn't force anyone to buy anything. We offered it for sale at reduced prices, and they responded with gratitude. We workers were glad to see all the customers, for without them, we have no work. Boycotting our store on Black Friday would hurt us workers. They Buy-Nothing crowd doesn't understand that. Preachers (like Shane), academics, bureaucrats and politicians, none of whom work in the sector of the economy that generates revenue, understand that we are what keeps churches, schools and the government afloat with our taxes and tax-deductible donations.

Even those of us poor working people who get here at 4, 5 or 6 in the morning while the preachers and teachers and bureaucrats are still sleeping understand business and economics a lot better and a lot deeper than someone like--oh, say--Shane.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Hope: It's the first Sunday in Advent

We lit a candle in the Advent wreath at church this morning.
I don't know a lot about the celebration of Advent, for I grew up in small Southern Baptist churches in the Ozarks back in the Fifties and Sixties. Advent was a Roman Catholic church tradition and ritual, so we stayed far away from it. I didn't know what it was, why it had that name or what it meant until I had children of my own and was taking them to church in the late Seventies, maybe early Eighties. By then, we lived in a small town and went to the First Baptist Church where the preacher had a longing to be a high church priest or bishop or grand poobah or something.
On a Sunday, I guess it was in late November, he came prancing to the pulpit wearing something like a graduation gown without the cap. He said it was Advent season and we would observe the ritual. I did a little research later to find out what in the world Advent was all about and found out it was a time to prepare your heart for the arrival of the Christ Child. A graduation gown is not required, but I guess it made the preacher feel higher up and closer to the Lord, so more power to him.
It turned out to be a meaningful little ritual, so I guess the Roman Catholics had a good idea. Well, we left that First Baptist Church and took up with its missionary church plant over on our side of town, and we did not participate in any more Catholic rituals.
Then we moved to another town and found another little church to attend, and took part in no Advent ritual again for years. I go to that same church now, some 30 years later. It is out in the country, the only church I've found that makes me feel welcome and comfortable, in spite of my deep-seated redneckery.
They surprised me this morning with an Advent wreath and a reading about hope. It was a nice little ritual. I liked it.
Now, our church a few years ago under a different pastor introduced the Hanging of the Greens. That's what they called it in the bulletin, so that's what I called it in the church page notice of the newspaper I was sort of editing at the time.
Hanging of the Greens.
It's another Catholic ritual, and I did some research on it. Come to find out, it's the Hanging of the Green. Singular. Not Hanging of the Greens. Plural. Next Sunday we'll be doing that. No collard, mustard or turnip greens will be involved.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Remembering, honoring our history

Top, center, below, the Sons of the American Revolution Color Guard.

Rolla, Missouri, being a city that hosts the state's technological university, keeps its eyes on the future, rather than the past.

History is not so important to most Rolla folks, who are looking ahead, doing cutting-edge research, preparing for the world of tomorrow.

We're not preservationists here. Old houses have been razed for new business buildings. Old business buildings have been razed for new university buildings or parking lots.

Such is life here.

There are some individuals, though, who work on remembering and celebrating history. A few years ago I covered for the newspaper a well-rooted Phelps County family's dedication of a new gravestone for one of their ancestors who had settled and died here; he was a Revolutionary War veteran. Couple of summers ago, I covered a memorial service for some Confederate sympathizers who had been massacred by Union militia shortly after the War for Southern Independence (War of Northern Aggression). A member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans set that memorial service up.

And Sons of the American Revolution came from throughout Missouri Saturday, Nov. 12, to help their Ozark Patriots chapter dedicate a monument to the war for independence, the American Revoluation, at the Rolla Veterans Memorial Park with prayers, a wreath and musket fire. I covered that for the paper, too.

The park holds monuments to all the wars fought by the United States, but the Revolutionary War monument is unique among all others, said P. Darrell Ownby, president of the local chapter.

"The dedication of this monument the day after Veterans Day is significant since all of the other monuments in this park represent continuing efforts to preserve and retain the liberty and freedom from tyranny that were won in this founding conflict from which our great nation was born and that we honor today," Ownby said in his dedication comments, emphasizing the word "continuing."

All the monuments, though, are important, Ownby said, for they "provide a touchstone for us, and also for the rising generation, and for future generations yet unborn."

Studying history and honoring the people who lived it are important roles for everyone to perform and to make sure are continued, Ownby said.

"Remembering the sacrifices of our Founding Fathers and Patriots is the critical task of each generation to maintain our liberty and the ideals of the Revolution," Ownby said. "The opportunities that we provide for our youth to educate themselves and internalize these founding principles are key to their understanding and remembering."

The local Ozark Patriots chapter was helped by national and state officers who attended. They were Russell Devenney, registrar general for the National Society of SAR and a winner of the National Minuteman Award; John Wayne Merrill, first vice president of the Missouri Society; James E. Osbourn, second vice president of the Missouri Society, and Bill Grote, assistant commander of the Missouri Society Color Guard.

Also helping with the dedication was Becky Anne Osbourn, of the Louisiana Purchase chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

The ceremony included color guard with a musket firing of three rounds.

Francis Chandler Furman, secretary of the Ozark Patriot chapter, led the pledge of allegiance.

Columbus Craft, chaplain of the Ozarks Patriot chapter, gave the invocation: "Almighty God, we give thee our humble praise for the gift of the United States of America, for the vision of our patriot ancestors, and for thy continued preservation. Guide and direct the leaders of our nation that we may have peace at home and show forth thy glory among the nations of the world. Give us a sense of all thy mercies that we may declare thy loving kindness from generation to generation. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen."

Milan Paddock, historian of the local chapter, led the SAR pledge.

Ownby recognized the visitors and thanked the contributors: the Noah Coleman chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution, the Missouri State Society of the SAR and James and Becky Anne Osbourn.

Ownby also offered the prayer of dedication: "O God, the Eternal Father, we remember before thee today, with grateful and humble hearts, the men and women of our embryonic country who risked their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor, that freedom, liberty and independence be firmly established in our beloved land.

"We are grateful, Heavenly Father, for the cooperation of the individual states and Thy Divine Providence guiding and protecting the outcome of their deliberations and battles.

"We thank thee for the technology that allows us to find digitized documents to trace our lineage to these patriots.

"We dedicate this monument in remembrance and for the pleasure and inspiration of all those who come to see it.

"We thank thee for the faith that we have inherited from our patriots.

"Help us, O God, to sacrifice our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor to further the great work that you began in our blessed country, we pray, in the sacred name of Jesus Christ. Amen."

James and Becky Anne Osbourn laid a wreath on the monument.

William Silleck, treasurer of the local chapter, led the recitation of the SAR recessional: "Until we meet again, let us remember our obligations to our forefathers, who gave us our Constitution, the Bill of Rights, an independent Supreme Court and a nation of free men."

Craft closed the ceremony with the benediction: "Heavenly Father, grant us thy mercies as we part. In the coming days, help us to reaffirm our roles as citizens of the United States. keep before us the privations and sacrifices of our ancestors, who freely gave themselves in the cause of liberty and democracy. Endue us with their resolve. Strengthen us as we pledge ourselves to the preservation of the freedoms bestowed by thy hand. Amen."

That service, for me anyway, magnified the distance our country has traveled from its original Founders' values.






Monday, November 7, 2016

Lack of integrity is what is wrong with society today

It was when I was in fourth grade, I think, that I wrote my first major composition. The assignment was an essay about "The Man I Admire the Most." As I had just read a book about famous crime fighters, a Christmas present, I chose to write about J. Edgar Hoover, who was the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. I was thrilled to read, and subsequently write about, Mr. Hoover's turning an ineffective, corrupt and unprofessional law enforcement agency into a highly trained, professional organization of law men with integrity. That was what I focused on the most, I think, in my essay, the integrity of the men who worked so hard to "always get their man."

J. Edgar Hoover, according to the mainstream media, turned out to be not so heroic. He is reported to have been a crossdressing homosexual who gathered information on government officials and used it as blackmail to get the budgets he wanted for his agency.

Bad as that is, I don't think it is nearly as bad as what current FBI Director James Comey has done. He has ignored reams and boxes of evidence against a presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, and quickly cleared her. In fact, he has now cleared her twice.

His description several weeks ago of what she did indicates that she would have been arrested and tried and thrown in jail,  had she been a person of a lower station in life.  I work with many retired veterans, and they all have told me that if they had handled classified government email texts as casually as she did,  they would have been court-martialed. One veteran, a career military policeman, was especially distraught at the betrayal of the law enforcement profession. I cannot imagine the J. Edgar Hoover I admired in fourth grade doing what Comey did.

Our nation is on the brink of disaster. Every institution, every facet of society, everything we have trusted, has become corrupted. All I know to do is to pray and have faith that Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who is the Great God Almighty in the flesh, will work out his plan and purpose.

Meanwhile, I am sure in today's corrupt nation, some fourth grade kid is writing an essay about his admiration of FBI Director James Comey. I shudder to think it is possible, but I am quite certain it is.

Map of Missouri counties


Map Courtesy of Digital Map Store