Monday, September 26, 2016

Hardy red buckeye finally bears some fruit

This is the red buckeye tree last month.
After all these years, I have harvested some buckeyes off my buckeye tree.
Now that I've got four of them (and there are many more still on my small tree), I don't know what I'll do with them. Can't eat them; they're poisonous to humans. I guess I'll just carry one around in my pocket and save the rest of them for decoration or kids or something.
I really don't know how many years we've had that tree. My wife bought it because she knew I liked buckeyes, for I carried one in my pocket when I met her back in 2002. I guess she bought the tree a couple years after we got married in 2004, and I planted it in full sun in the front yard right close to the street.
The next spring, I mowed it off level to the ground. Wasn't paying attention.
Fortunately, it grew back.
A year later, maybe two, I hired a kid to mow the yard. "Don't mow down the buckeye," I told him. "This is the buckeye," I said, pointing to it.
He went right on and mowed it down.
It grew back, though.
Then, over the summers, I failed to water it regularly when there was no rain, and it looked like it burned up.
But every spring, it would grow back.
I finally learned to water it and care for it. Sort of.
Here is the tree Sunday afternoon. Notice the fruit husk splitting.
It bloomed in the spring, but it did not bear any fruit, for several years. Or maybe some critters ate them. I don't know. Last year, I saw some fruits, but they disappeared. I can't explain it, so don't ask me any questions.
This year, the tree bloomed and fruited. I thought I had taken a picture of those booms, but I could not find it, if I did. We had adequate rainfall, and that tree thrived. Today, while I was knocking down some brush and weeds along my driveway, I went over to the tree and noticed the fruit husks or rinds were starting to split on a couple of them. I picked them and easily removed the husks to get the buckeyes out. You can see them in a picture accompanying this article; I've put some coins next to them so you can judge the size.
Here are the red buckeyes.
Now, about this buckeye tree. This is not the native Missouri buckeye, the horse chestnut. This is a Southern tree, called the red buckeye or the firecracker plant; it's the aesculus pavia, a deciduous flowering plant.
The University of Kentucky Department of Horticulture says it can grow 16-25 feet tall, but the Missouri Botanical Garden says it will grow 12-15 feet tall. It will bush out about the same width.
Right now, my tree is just about as tall as I am. I'm going to take the advice of the Missouri Botanical Garden and mulch and water it regularly; maybe it will grow better.
It has red flowers in April and May, the same time that hummingbrids show up in Missouri. And hummingbirds like those blooms, so if you want to attract hummingbirds (and bees), plant a red buckeye tree.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

What I will do after the election in November

Sen. Ted Cruz
Any doubt I had that President Hillary will be sworn in next Jan. 20 was dispelled this past week when Sen. Ted Cruz said he would vote for Republican candidate Donald Trump.
Actually, I never had any doubt. That is just a play on words. It is going to be President Hillary, just as it was always going to be.
What solidified it for me even further, though, was the reaction of the NeverTrumpers. Nary a one could be found on the social media who said, "Oh, OK, well, if Sen. Cruz is throwing his support behind the Donald for all those good reasons, I guess I will, too."
No, the reaction was this: "Cruz is just another turncoat politician who lacks integrity and spine."
And they vowed never to vote for Trump.
I guess they are going to vote for Hillary, like President George H.W. Bush promised to do. That's a vote for integrity, in the view of the NeverTrumpers.
Or they're going to vote for the Libertarian candidate, because NeverTrumpers are hardcore conservatives who believe in Libertarian values like the elimination of drug laws, the opening of borders, abortion rights and the right for anyone to marry whoever or whatever they want.
Donald Trump, center
Or they're going to honor all the men and women who died in service to this nation and its principles, such as the right to vote, by not voting for anyone.
The NeverTrumpers will vote with the Millennials, the kind of mindless nincompoops who refuse to salute the flag or stand in honor of the national anthem.
The NeverTrumpers will vote with the Black Lives Matter movement, a communist bunch (read their website and tell me I am wrong) who have shown me that looting and burning have become the predominant feature of modern black culture, along with drugs and 'ho''s. It used to be that black culture meant (to outsiders like lily white me) family togetherness, good cooking, church, music and work. It was just like white Southern culture, except it may have been expressed differently. That's all changed. I don't like what black culture has become, and I'm called a racist because of that.
I'll tell you what. I am going to go to the polls in November and cast a vote for Trump. I hope I'm wrong. I hope he wins. He has given a list of good appointees to the Supreme Court and has pledged to use that list if elected. Once Hillary gets in, she'll pack the court with liberals who will be in place the rest of my life.
Then after I vote, and after the winner, Hillary Clinton, is announced, I will never vote for president again. I will vote only for local or district candidates. I'll probably vote for state candidates. I will probably vote for a congressman and senators. I'll be through with the damn presidency. I will cease being a Republican. I will identify myself only as a Confederate. I will continue to fly the battle flag. I will honor the great men of the Confederacy, most of whom were Christians and did not own slaves, for it is clear that I am now on the wrong side of history. And seeing the way the nation is today, I think it is a good side to be.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Honor the Muslims, submit to Obama?

The Sunday School class I attend uses a quarterly study guide in a series titled "Explore the Bible." This month we started a study of I and 2 Peter and Jude.

The lesson for Sunday morning is I Peter 2:11-20, and it is some difficult teaching for me to accept. I wonder what the other old men in the class will think of it. I am looking forward to some good discussion. It seems to me that it teaches Christians to be submissive and passive to our leaders and bosses in government and business. Taken literally, it even makes the Revolutionary War a great sin, it seems to me.

Here is the text in the Holman Christian Standard Bible (used by permission):

11 Dear friends, I urge you as strangers and temporary residents to abstain from fleshly desires that war against you. 12 Conduct yourselves honorably among the Gentiles, so that in a case where they speak against you as those who do what is evil, they will, by observing your good works, glorify God on the day of visitation.

13 Submit to every human authority because of the Lord, whether to the Emperor as the supreme authority 14 or to governors as those sent out by him to punish those who do what is evil and to praise those who do what is good. 15 For it is God’s will that you silence the ignorance of foolish people by doing good. 16 As God’s slaves, live as free people, but don’t use your freedom as a way to conceal evil. 17 Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the Emperor.

18 Household slaves, submit with all fear to your masters, not only to the good and gentle but also to the cruel. 19 For it brings favor if, mindful of God’s will, someone endures grief from suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is there if you sin and are punished, and you endure it? But when you do what is good and suffer, if you endure it, this brings favor with God.

The Penitent Apostle Peter, Anthony Van Dyck
In verses 11-12, Peter refers to the believers in Christ as strangers and temporary residents. I presume what he means is Christians are not citizens of this world or any country but of the kingdom of God. They might be citizens of Rome, residents of one of the Near East or Asia Minor countries, but they are no longer really of this world. They are the Lord Christ's people. In fact, a few verses on down, he refers to them not as citizens of the kingdom but as God's slaves. As the property of God, they are expected to act honorably among the people of the world. Apparently, those non-believers were treating the Christians the way we treat the Muslims. They were suspicious of them, they spoke insultingly about them and figured the Christians were up to no good, likely worrying about what they would do as their numbers increased. Peter told the Christians to be good to those people and respect them and act honorably so they might be led to Christ. Maybe we need to treat the Muslims with a little more honor, give them the benefit of the doubt, in order to lead them to Christ.

In verse 11, he tells the Christians to refrain from fleshly desires. I  don't know what he means. I suppose he's telling them not to have sex outside of marriage, not to overeat and not to get drunk. He must have been the first Baptist or at least a member of First Baptist. (That's a joke, son. Just trying to keep it a little light.)

Now in verses 13-14, Peter puts up a real stumbling block for me. I despise the government, but he says I've got to submit to every level of the government because of the Lord! Because of the Lord? The trouble with this is, he was writing to people whose Dear Leader was Emperor Nero, or someone far worse than our own Dear Leader, President Obama, or our future Dear Leader, likely President Hillary, the way it looks at this time. It is awful damn hard for me to be submissive and accepting and uncritical of those two birds. Peter sees all government as good and from God because it gives structure to society. I wonder if he would have said the same if he were writing in Germany in the late 1930s and during World War II. I wonder what he would say to our Founding Fathers, who declined to submit to the authority of King George III. Would he say they were guilty of great sin?

In verse 15, he's saying that by being good followers of the Emperor and the government, the believers would lead the critics of Christianity to shut up. To top it off, he says it is God's will that they submit to the government.

Then in verse 16, he twists the meaning of freedom, it seems to me. He tells them that as the slaves of God, they can live freely SPIRITUALLY! He was telling the believers who were being persecuted for being believers that they were really spiritually free because of Christ, so don't forget it. And also, just because they were free from sin and sin's penalty (eternal death), they should not use that spiritual freedom to cover up their sins. I figure what this means is this: "OK, listen here, you are God's slaves so you belong to Him and that makes you spiritually free. Sure, you are being persecuted and life is hard, and you aren't really free now, but don't you dare get drunk to take away the pain of life under persecution. Trust in God. Eventually, it will be alright. After you are dead."

In verse 17, he says essentially this, "Honor and respect everyone, including the Muslims, the atheists, the abortionists, the married homosexuals. Everyone, whether you like it or not. Love all your fellow Christians, even the ones who aren't undergoing persecution like you are. Fear and respect God, for you are his property and he can do what he wants with you. Honor the emperor, the king, the president, the dictator, no matter who they are, because God put them in charge." Whew! That is hard teaching.

In verse 18, Peter tells slaves to bow down and submit to their slavemasters, no matter how much those sumbitches beat the slaves. And in verses 19-20, he says it is fine, mighty fine, to get whipped by the slavemaster as long as you are submissive and respectful, because that is a good Christian witness. It isn't a big deal to be submissive to a good slavemaster, but it is fantastic to say "Thank you, massah, I needed that beating" to the evil slavemaster.

As I said, that is some hard--to-take teaching.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

A quick storm ...

...blew into the area last night around 8 p.m., and dropped 1.6 inches of rain on us. It also knocked out the power.
The sky is still cloudy this morning. There were a few stars visible at 4 a.m., but an hour later they were covered by clouds.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Another beautiful morning

At 5 a.m., the temperature is 71.9 degrees, and the relative humidity is 78 percent.
There is no measurable precipitation.
The sky is clear with some light haze on the horizon.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

An uncloudy day so far...

... but it is early. At 5 a.m. here, the stars are visible with no haze.
The temperature is 68.1 degrees, and the humidity is 71 percent.
The rain gauge is dry again.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Beautiful morning at 5:00

At 5 a.m. Monday, Sept. 12, here at The Ozarks Almanac weather station, the temperature is 61.5 degrees.
The humidity is 71 percent.
The sky is clear, and the stars are beautiful. There is no cloud cover or haze to obscure them.
I wanted to stand outside and study them with my star finding app when I took the dogs out, but I have to go to work.
May the good Lord bless us and keep us safe today.

Monday, September 5, 2016

A serious political poem

I have written a poem about the current campaigns for
the political parties' nominations for president. Usually I like to
write humorous poems, but this one is deadly serious.


The other day while talking,
a fellow said to me,
“You're a Trump man, aren't you?
You'll back him over Hillary.”

And I said in reply, “Let me tell you
what goes into the way I think:
When I go into the booth to pick someone,
I pick the one that has less stink.

Whenever it comes time to mark my ballot,
I find some candidates come up short.
I'm talking about one issue: Do they cherish
life in the womb or is it OK to abort?

Now, I'm not sure I trust the Donald,
though he claims to be pro-life.
But I know for sure Clinton's unbothered
about severing fetus limbs with a knife.

So, with your assessment of me
as a Trump man, I can't really concur.
It's not that I'm so much pro-him
as I am just anti-her.”—RDH