Thursday, November 9, 2017

A present from my Mama in 1972

If my memory is right--and at my age that is doubtful--my Mama gave me this Bible for Christmas 1972.
I was a sophomore at the University of Missouri, and I lived off-campus with a bunch of guys in a two-bedroom apartment. Breaking the rules to cut our rent share, we moved in two or three more guys.
I will not lie to you. I was not leading a Christian life. Now, I wasn’t as wild as many college students, because I worked my way through school. On most nights and every weekend, I was at work washing dishes in the kitchen at the restaurant at Stephens Magnolia Inn, an old motel on the business loop.
But occasionally, when I had a chance, I would cut loose with the other fellows.
My mother has always been a well-grounded Christian, as has my Daddy. Every time I did something I shouldn’t, like cutting loose on a rare weekend off,I worried about disappointing them, not Jesus. She gave me this Bible for Christmas that year, I guess to keep me mindful of my upbringing. For the most part, I think, it worked. As I say, I was not the best Christian in the world, and, to be honest, I still am not.
But I read the Bible as often as possible, and I think about my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ a whole lot. Mostly, I think about how unlike him I am.
I’d like to tell you, and Mama would probably like for me to be able to tell you, that this book, The Living Bible paraphrase, changed my life and made me a wonderful Christian.
Well, it probably did change my life. It was so easy to read that I read and reread passages of it for many years later. It did not make me a wonderful Christian. Reading the Bible makes me more curious and more aware of how much I need and rely on Jesus Christ. So I keep stumbling along in life, reading and worshiping and trying to be Christlike (and failing), and I think this Bible had a lot to do with my current state of spirituality. I read it regularly, well, fairly regularly after my mother gave it to me for Christmas, and I have carried it with me everywhere I have lived since she gave it to me. Had she not given it to me, I might have just chucked the whole business of Christ-following.
It was a new edition in 1972, which is the copyright date in it. It is The Living Bible paraphrase, and it has notes at the beginning of each Bible “book” that make the World of God relevant to the early Seventies. I always skipped those parts, and still do, to read the Bible itself.
I always liked the plain paraphrase of The Living Bible. Years later, I heard criticism of it from learned theologians, but I’ve always had a bad attitude toward theologians, so I ignored them, as always.
This Bible was packed away for awhile, then it was laid on a shelf for even longer, for I have a New International Version that I’ve been reading, as well as my good old King James Version.
Now that I’ve taken it off the shelf and paged through it, I think I might try reading through it again in 2018. I will need to get a head start tonight.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Feed the birds this winter--and year around for fun--Part 4

Seriously, that water is clean, not muddy like it looks in this picture.
One last thing in this birdfeeding series, and this could be the most important thing we tell you:
OK, we’ve discussed where to feed the birds, what feeders to use and what to put in those feeders.
That’s all there is to it, right?
Well, no. When you eat, you like to have something to drink, don’t you? And you like to have something to bathe in, too, right?
We don’t bathe in our drinking water, but some creatures do, and they need a plentiful supply of it.
It’s up to you to provide that necessity, H2O, along with the food.
In fact, my good friend, Mike Doyen, who I believe is the state’s leading birding, for he devised the Great Missouri Birding Trail, told me that providing water at times is more important than providing food. They can usually find a little food in nature, but sometimes, water is so scarce that they can’t find it.
We’re heading into one of those periods, winter. Water turns to ice in winter, and sometimes stays that way for days, weeks, maybe more than a month. Oh, heaven help us, if it gets that cold and stays cold.
Mike showed me his watering trough, an big old skillet out back that he kept filled with water.
My wife had a concrete birdbath when we married, so we use that at The Ozarks Almanac. I even went to The Family Center a few years back when we got real serious about the birds, and I bought a heater that stays warm enough to keep the water thawed in the birdbath.

OK, that does it for our series on bird feeding and watering.
You can buy whatever blend of food you can afford and want to buy. You can do whatever you want about watering. There are all kinds of contraptions to buy, and I’m not opposed to doing so, I just don’t have the money for all that. I’ve seen a mister for hummingbirds. It isn’t expensive, but I’m on city water here, and I don’t want to add on any more gallons that I have to.
You do what you can afford and like to do. Or do nothing. Let the birds fend for themselves this winter. I hope, though, that we’ve created some interest in most of our readers to try caring for the birds. They can use the help, but most of it, it is just fun to have them around to look at.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Feed the birds this winter--and year around for fun--Part 3

Here is what we've been feeding the birds lately.
Yesterday, we talked about what feeders we use. Now here's what we put into those feeders each week.
For years, we bought and fed black oil sunflower seed only that we got from Sands Farm and Home, but Sands shut down. It was a great little store.
Then we started buying a mix from The Family Center, as well as thistle seed for the finches. We fed that for a few years.
Last year a new farm and home supply store opened here, Dickey Bub, which is a funny name that is combination of family names. It is a good store, and the price is right for wild bird seed. It is a True Value store, and we buy a 40-pound mix that contains cracked corn, milo, white millet, sunflower seed, calcium carbonate, white, vitamin A supplement, vitamin D3 supplement.
I know you’re going to tell me that is a lot of fillers, and perhaps so, but they eat it. They congregate in here and eat it. I fill the feeders on Saturday or Sunday and have to refill them in the middle of the week.
I told my wife that I thought we needed to go back to the black oil sunflower seed, so we bought a 50-pound bag of it. I put the sunflower seed in the cylindrical feeder and the mix in the red barn/schoolhouse feeder. The birds preferred the mix.
So I added sunflower seed to the rest of the mix, and they liked that. I think I will try to convince my wife to continue buying both, fortifying the mix with several scoops of black oil sunflower seed.
We still buy the thistle seed for the finches at The Family Center, because they sell it by the pound, and we bag it ourselves. My wife prefers that, so I do, too.
You can do a lot of research on what to feed. Go online and you’ll see all kinds of seeds that birds like including something called, of all things, rapeseed. What in the sam hill is that?
For The Ozarks Almanac, it boils down to this: What is available here? What can we afford? So far, we have found affordable seed that the birds eat, so that’s about all we care about.
The suit cakes we buy as we can find them on sale. You can spend a lot of money on suet cakes if you want to. We don’t want do and won’t. The birds eat what we place before them, unlike some children.

Tomorrow: Wrapping it up with the most important thing to do for the birds

Monday, November 6, 2017

Feed the birds this winter--and year around for fun--Part 2

Throw a scoop or two on the ground for the ground-feeders.
Today, we're going to tell you about the feeders we use at The Ozarks Almanac. You can see a picture of three of them in yesterday's post, which was Part 1 of this four-part series.

We want to appeal to the range of birds, so we have a range of feeders. I’m just missing one that I want, but I’ll have to build it, and I haven’t found the time yet.
For the finches, we have tube feeders and sock feeders that dispense the tiny seeds they like.
For the woodpeckers, we have suet feeders that hold the suet cakes.
For the cardinals, blue jays and others, we have a large cylindrical feeder with a perch around the bottom and holes that give access to the seeds. We also have a large feeder shaped like a red barn or a red schoolhouse, I’m not sure which. It has spring-activated perches on both sides that are supposed to keep squirrels out of the food.
We also use the ground to feed birds like large and beautiful mourning doves. They feed on the ground as do some other birds. I usually throw a scoop or two of bird food on the ground when I fill the feeders. Then as the birds feed on the feeders, they move them and knock down more seed to the ground.
What I’m missing is a platform feeder. All I need to do is sink two posts and then nail or screw a 1-by board  across the top. I’m not sure how wide it needs to be, 1x8, 1x10, 1x12. Not sure. Simple to put up, just haven’t got around to doing it, for I work another full-time manual-labor job and a half-time reporting job in addition to my sporadic writing here at The Ozarks Almanac.

Tomorrow: What we put in those feeders

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Feed the birds this winter--and year around for fun--Part 1

Three of the feeders we use at The Ozarks Almanac, located next to a hedge.
We feed birds year-round at The Ozarks Almanac. I don’t know if that is good or bad for the birds. Is it making them dependent on us, raising up a generation of birds expecting handouts from us birdwatchers? I don’t know, but right or wrong, that’s what we do.
If you don’t feed the birds at your place, think about doing it this winter. Get started on it now, in fact. They are fun to watch, and they probably need the food in winter.
I am no expert on birding, but here’s what we do at The Ozarks Almanac.


The bird feeders are on the east side between the house and the neighbor’s hedge that he doesn’t take care of very well. That may be a good thing, for birds like to have a refuge they can fly to after eating. They go back and forth from the hedge to the feeders at feeding time.
If there’s a problem with too much vegetation in the yard, it is probably from our side, not the neighbor’s hedge. We’ve got a big Nine Bark bush. It’s something my wife likes, but it has grown unruly. That and the Golden Currant bushes provide refuge for the birds during feeding, but they also provide shelter for the neighborhood cats.
We’ve got one cat that is ours, Buddy, but there are four feral cats that hang around The Ozarks Almanac, too, because they know they’ll get a free meal from time to time. I’ve found some feathers and twice I’ve seen a feral cat with a dead bird in its mouth, so I guess our bird sanctuary is a banquet hall for the ferals. I’m going to have to get out and trim back the Nine Bark, the Currant and some of the neighbor’s hedge so the birds have a clearer viewing range.
Despite all that, I think the location is good, for it is sunny the biggest part of the day, protected from the prevailing wind and provides good protection, as long as the birds stay out of the range of the cats.

Tomorrow: The feeders we use

Saturday, November 4, 2017

What kind of a construction worker was Jesus?

Sir John Everett Millais' Christ in the house of his parents, 1850

Just about everything you have read and believed about Christianity has been revised, and I might talk about that from time to time here.
One thing that has changed is Jesus’ occupation. I’m not sure what the truth is now. I grew up hearing that he was a carpenter, and the stories and illustrations that I heard in Sunday School as a child indicated that  Our Lord and Savior grew up working with his earthly father, really step-father, I guess, as his Father was Jehovah, in a woodworking shop. I always imagined them making furniture, like baby cradles and such.
Then I was watching  The History Channel a few years ago and there was a show on there that claimed Jesus was actually something called a “tekton,” which is the Greek word for a laborer, very likely helping the Romans build a new city close to Nazareth, a city called Sepphoris.
The show said he likely was a stone-cutter or a stone carrier or someone doing a lot of work with stones. The show pointed out that there was not a whole lot of wood over there, as there is here, so Jesus probably was not a woodworker, certainly not a carpenter, but probably a stone worker of some sort.
Well, boy howdy, that sure changes the picture.
I thought Jesus grew up quietly in Nazareth, him and Joseph working together sawing and planing and sanding all those baby cradles. Ever now and again, Mother Mary would bring out a cup of coffee or a glass of sweet tea to the workshop and say something like, “How are my boys doing?’ and then give them each a peck on the cheek.
At lunch time, she’d holler out the back door of the house, “Come and get it, but wash your hands first,” and Jesus and Joseph would go to the bucket of water at the back door and pour some in a pan and wash their hands and face and then go into the house and eat themselves a bowl of soup or a grilled cheese sandwich or something. Then they’d thank Mary for lunch and go back to the workshop and spend the afternoon making some more baby cradles before heading back to the house for supper and then an evening of study of the scriptures.
And I figured that went on from the time Jesus was 12 and got left at the Temple until the time he was 30 and headed to Capernaum and beyond to go into business for himself as a rabbi, or teacher, having done all that scriptural study.
But, according to The History Channel, the incarnate Word was actually a construction worker, and he and Joseph probably spent a good many years on a work crew in Sepphoris building the city.
What was Jesus like as a construction worker around all those other construction workers? That can be a rough crowd. They tell dirty jokes, talk about getting drunk and getting laid. When a good-looking woman walks by they stop and stare, maybe make a comment, hoping  she’ll stop and flirt a little while.
What did Our Lord and Savior, who was sinless, do while all that tomfoolery was going on? What is a sinless person supposed to do around that kind of baloney? Ignore it? Say nothing? Say “tut-tut” or “tsk-tsk” and keep on working? Preach about the sins of the flesh? What if someone tells a dirty joke and it is really funny? How does a human, and Jesus was 100 percent human as well as 100 percent divine, not laugh at a funny joke, even if it is off-color?
I got reported at my day job for telling an inappropriate joke in the break room. The HR manager called me into the office and told me a complaint by a female worker had been filed for an inappropriate joke. I said, “The only joke I know I told recently was this one“ and then I told her this joke: Old boy goes into a bar and there is a big, fat girl in Daisy Duke shorts dancing on the table. Guy watches a while and then says, “Great legs.” The fat girl giggles and says, “Really? You think so?” And the guy says, “Sure, most tables would have collapsed under the weight by now.” The HR manager laughed out loud, told me to get out of her office and quit telling jokes in the employee break room.
Jesus would not have told a joke like that, nor would he have laughed. He is probably pissed off at me now for telling it again. No, wait, he doesn’t get pissed off. I get pissed off, because getting pissed off is a sin, and I am a sinner, but Jesus is not.
Wow, it must have been difficult being The Word Made Flesh, Divinity living amongst us sinful humans, and going to the cross to die for us, because we all deserve death, but he wants us to have eternal life.
I guess I don’t care whether he was a woodworker, a rough-in carpenter, a hod carrier or a skilled stone cutter.
I know that he was the Word of God to us, God in the flesh, who came to teach us and to die for us to atone for our sins. Because of him, we can live eternally, if we recognize our inability to save ourselves, recognize that he alone is the way to God, believe he died for us to cleanse us of our sins. He rose from the grave and now he offers us grace, mercy and peace. All we must do is receive him into our daily lives and worship him and follow him as the true expression of the Father.
That is truth that has not changed.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Politics and media haven't changed a bit over the years

It was on this date, Nov. 3, in 1948 that the Chicago Daily Tribute ran a banner headline declaring that "Dewey Defeats Truman."
Talk about fake news.
Well, it was just a mistake, kind of like the declarations a year ago leading up to the election, and even on election night, as the media boldly declared that Hillary Clinton was going to defeat Donald Trump.
"That ain't the way I heard it" is what someone said President Truman said a couple days later at Union Station in St. Louis when he was on his way back to Washington, D.C., from his home in Independence.
Someone handed him a copy of the paper from earlier in the week, so he held it up and the photographers started snapping pictures.
Truman was a Democrat, Thomas Dewey, who was the governor of New York, was a Republican. The Chicago Daily Tribune was a Republican paper, something you don't hear of much these days.
The Tribune had called Truman a "nincompoop," so that goes to show that not much has changed in politics or the media over the years. It's all a bunch of baloney, best ignored if you can do it. It's far more productive to spend time planning your garden, planting your garden, working the soil in your garden, harvesting the produce from your garden and putting up the fruit of your labors for the winter.
That and taking care of your chickens--and any livestock you might have.
And also read your Bible and pray.
The media and the politicians can just go to hell.
This is the 307th day of the year, The Old Farmers Almanac says it is supposed to be rainy and cool.
Tonight after midnight, 23 minutes into Nov. 4, in fact, the moon is supposed to be at its fullest. It is called the Beaver Moon in the almanacs, hearkening back to the colonial days in North America. That's what the early settlers apparently heard that name from the Indians, called Native Americans nowadays, although it seems to me that anyone born in either North America or South America is a native American.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Two weeks later, the bananas were almost as green as the day she bought them

 These bananas looked much greener in reality.Why did they never ripen?
My wife carefully monitors what I eat, and she buys wholesome food for me. Under her watchful eye and refusal to allow me to eat sweets, I have lost several scores of pounds.
Most important, the doctor says my A1C sugar number (I think that is what it is called) is trending downward instead of upward as it had been.
She encourages me to eat fruit instead of Snickers or Butterfinger or Cherry Mash.
My lunch box usually carries an apple, orange, banana, or sometimes all three.
She does most of the shopping at the local Aldi store, and she usually buys the bananas a little green so they won't go to mush quickly.
About a month ago, she brought home some name-brand bananas that were green, real green, green as goose poo, or greener.
And hard as rocks.
I checked them every day, because I wanted to take one to work
Literally two weeks later, the bananas were still green and rock-hard.
I told her that even if they did ripen, I would not eat them, because there was something mysterious and ungodly about bananas that did not ripen in two weeks.
I accused the banana grower of either injecting them with some strange chemical or genetically modifying them. Or both. Whatever kind of black arts had been practiced on those bananas, I wanted nothing to do with them, so she threw them out.
Later, I got to looking on the internet,and maybe there is another explanation. Some sources say that bananas are picked before they are ripe so they will ship. Then they are ripened in the warehouse using a gas. Without that treatment, they will never ripen.
So I guess it is entirely possible our bananas simply didn't get the gas treatment.
I'm still leery, though, and a bit concerned about genetic modification or some other witchcraft.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Starbucks does not match up to House Blend, in my humble opinion

The House Blend at Motomart in Rolla is a superior cup of coffee.
A Starbucks coffee shop, or restaurant, or whatever you call such an establishment, has opened in our small Missouri city.
Opening day was about a month ago, and I still have not gone in and ordered a cup. Likely, I never will.
From what I have read and heard, to experience Starbucks you must order something exotic called a cappucino or something like that with a Mafia-sounding name. And you must be willing to pay a premium price.
I prefer to make my coffee at home and pour it into a Thermos jug. Or, if I am going to buy a cup, I want black coffee with free refills. Or, if I'm out driving, I am perfectly willing to stop at a convenience store and buy a cup of whatever they have.
When you are in Rolla, Missouri, I recommend you stop at MotoMart (I always stop at the one at the junction of US 63 and Missouri 72, which is close to the house) and pour yourself a cup of the House Blend. Unbeatable.
One Saturday my wife and I had been out running errands when she decided she wanted to stop at the Starbucks counter in the new Price Chopper supermarket, not to be confused with the new Starbucks coffee shop, restaurant or whatever you call such an establishment. She also wanted to shop at the new supermarket and see what it was like. I said, "OK, but first stop at MotoMart, so I canget a cup of better coffee." And so we did.
When we got to the Price Chopper, she got in line at the counter, put her order in and then went over to the pick-up window. I stood off to the side, supping from my Mojo's cup that I got at MotoMart.
People kept asking me if I was in line, which I clearly was not. Finally, a yuppie couple came in and asked me the same question. "No," I said. "I'm waiting for my wife who is over there waiting on her fancy-pants coffee. I'm here drinking superior gas station coffee."
Goodness gracious, how they looked at me with disdain.
Oh, well, the House Blend from MotoMart is a superior cup of joe, and I doubt Starbuck's has anything to beat it. That's the humble opinion of The Ozarks Boy.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Time to see what the persimmons predict for winter

It has been a tradition for me for several years to open up some seeds from the persimmon tree in our yard to find out what they predict the winter weather will be.
Then, I often write a column about the findings. If you root around in here, you might find some of those previous winters' prognostications.
Maybe you will find last year's that predicted a harsh, wet winter. It turned out to be quite mild. No snow accumulation worth mentioning.
As you can see from the picture, I have gathered some fruit, seven of them.
I chose seven because that is the number of days it took Our Almighty Father God to make the universe, and rest up from the effort.
I try to keep my persimmon work biblically based, because s fellow employee at the newspaper where I once worked asked, "Is this witchcraft?" I told her, "No, it is Ozarks folklore." So, to make sure it is not witchcraft, I keep it biblically based.
The seeds have been removed and are in a plastic sandwich bag on the kitchen counter.
I will get around to opening the seeds and reading them this weekend, so check back. And tell your friends.