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Downhomer
Dream garden

Last night I dreamed of planting a garden! Not just a garden, but actually a back yard patch where I worked at putting some of those first of the season vegetable seeds into the earth.
In my dream I could almost feel that earth as I sifted it through my fingers, so brown and loose, so rich and friable. It almost seemed to have a life of its own, an involuntary eagerness which had it opening its mouth to accept the onion sets, lettuce seed, the cut up pieces of seed potatoes that I faithfully dropped into the waiting ground.
In my dreaming state I knew I was well pleased with the layout of my garden. Somewhere in my dreaming mind, I recognized that those rows were not laid out by our old Troybilt farm tractor, being much narrower than that cultivator would have made. This was how I wanted my kitchen garden to be laid out, with the narrower than usual rows that facilitated what I think of as intensive planting. This is a type of planting that allows two rows where there would normally be only one, using the space to its best advantage. As I dreamed, I knew that as my garden grew, I’d practice the companion cropping of which I have long been an advocate. For instance, I’d plant marigolds next to my tomatoes, so these would attract the tomato lopper to that very distinctive smelling plant and not lay its eggs on the tomato plants. I’d also plant nasturtiums around my cabbages, broccoli, or cauliflower, and onions around the carrots. All together, my dream garden would be perfect.
Sadly then, in the way it is with dreams, I woke up to find myself snug in my own bed and not even outside at all. Later that day, if I thought about my dream at all, I decided I probably would not have even remembered it if I hadn’t opened my emails and found one from the Seed Saver’s Exchange. This told me of some new, early spring vegetables seeds that I might like to try during this still to come season.
Spring vegetables? Did that Gardener Seed Supply Company surf into my dreams and then channel in the names of seeds for me to try? Was it mental telepathy on their part and ESP on mine? Whatever, one of the things this company told me about is a German Butter Potato, which sounds good to me. I still remember the white elephant potato I used to plant, which you can’t find anymore, nor just as rarely the oak leaf lettuce variety that I once truly loved. However I did enjoy looking at some of the new varieties of lettuce that Seed Savers told me about, also the several new kinds of carrots. Now if the winter will go north and let the weather in our area be more benign, I might actually order some of those varieties of vegetables I just read about, might even plant them in my own little spring garden and not have to dream about them.
However, there is this for my dreaming. That particular one has made me be more optimistic about the coming spring and the new planting season. Bottom line is that though I might soon be 87 years old, and though I know that in my flesh I am weaker than I once was, God also knows that my spirit is strong. I give all the credit for this to my Lord and Savior who is always faithful to strengthen me. Thank you, dear Lord, for this, and for being with me. In truth, I know He is always near. I have only to look up to the hills above me to see Him. I see my God in the tiniest blade of grass, in every single flower that grows to fade and fall away. I see Him in the rippling of the creek as it flows by, in the birds that feed from the seeds we put out for them, in the opossum that comes to eat the leftovers in our dog dishes, in the faces of my children and my neighbors. In fact, anywhere I look I see God, for He is everywhere; even in my dreams.


Education and Common Sense
Everybody  agrees that Marlana is wonderful

As I write this, on January 17, 2017, I realize that tomorrow my little buddy, Marlana VanHoose, will be singing at the Lincoln Center in a concert honoring the incoming President of the United States, Donald Trump.  I wonder if the only aspect of the Inauguration celebration that everybody can agree on is that Johnson County’s Marlana is a wonderful young lady.
Marlana, a graduate of Johnson Central High School in Paintsville, Kentucky, was born blind. Her mother, Teresa, says that she hummed the tune of “Jesus Loves Me” before she could talk.  Her parents, David and Teresa, have spent much time and money seeing that she got the proper care and training, including taking her to the Louisville School of the Blind during the summers to ensure that she got specially trained.
She had music lessons when it was obvious that she was born with a special gift of music. The Johnson County School System furnished an aide for Marlana all through the first twelve grades, and her mother taught special education classes in the same system.
She has been a regular in the local Kentucky Opry that broadcasts from the Mountain Arts Center in Prestonsburg. For several years after she graduated, her mother gave up her teaching career to go on the road with Marlana. She has traveled all over the United States singing the National Anthem and other songs at various venues.
She was a delightful student is my Vacation Bible School Class at Liberty Baptist Church when she was a child. She carried a little tape recorder with her and occasionally I would sing a funny song I had learned that I thought she would like. She would tape it and the next week sing it back to me! She has a phenomenal memory.  She became a Christian at an early age and has never been bashful about witnessing for her Lord. She is willing to sing whenever and wherever someone asks her. We were blessed to have her sing almost every Sunday at Liberty Baptist.
One day I was surprised to have her, her mother, and another lady from Liberty come to see me here at the senior community where I live. I asked her if she would come downstairs and play the piano and sing for the residents here. She seemed happy to do so.
She played and sang several songs, and then I asked her to sing the “Star Spangled Banner.” She got up from the piano, stood straight and sang every word and every note! One of the ladies who plays piano here asked Marlana’s mother, “she has perfect pitch, doesn’t she?” Teresa nodded.
Only four feet tall, Marlana’s voice is as big as anybody’s voice, and I am one of her groupies, following Marlana as her career goes up. I will be praying for her and her family (she has a younger brother, Harley, and a father, David) as she sings for the United States of America and her Lord.


Smile Awhile
Art on Main

When I was a senior in high school I took an Art class, which was taught by Clyde Roy Pack.  I had never met Mr. Pack before but he had a great, out-going personality so I, and all the other students, liked him immediately.  I was excited about taking a class that would enhance my drawing skills (unbeknownst to me I had no skills).  I was unaware that drawing was not all that was involved in learning art. From out of nowhere, Mr. Pack gave us a test on hues and tints.  Obviously there is a difference because I received a D on my report card for the six weeks. I once asked him why he gave me a D, he grinned and said, “I didn’t give you a D, you earned it all by yourself.”
That was not the only low grade I would receive in Mr. Pack’s class.  It seems we also had to learn about the color chart, famous artists, and different techniques used in art education. When we had a test on contrasts, I thought I’d lose my mind.  I had gone from taking a class I thought would be a “snap” to lowering my GPA dramatically. Actually, I didn’t even know what a GPA was and I didn’t care. I was more interested in taking an easy class so I could devote more time to my husband.
Honestly, I got married my senior year in high school because I wanted to have sex. That was more important than Art and GPA’s and everything else. I told everyone I saved myself for marriage.  My sister would say, “Saved yourself until you were 16.  What a sacrifice!” I mention this at this point because I considered myself more sophisticated and knowledgeable than a mere student, but I was really immature and clueless.
Even though I didn’t make good grades in Mr. Pack’s class, I loved drawing and continued to do so for many years.  Doodling became my favorite pastime. Eventually, I stopped doodling and forgot about Art altogether. However, my husband is an excellent artist so I just live vicariously through him.
Then one day last week I saw on Facebook where they were having an Art Class in the old Murphy’s building called Art on Main. I mentioned it to Ronnie and he told me that they had been doing it for a while. The ad on Facebook showed a picture that they would be drawing that week and I was hooked.  It reminded me of a mural we had done in Mr. Pack’s class so I signed up.
The day of the class I became a little apprehensive and said, “Ronnie, do you think I can see well enough to do this?”
“I worried about that,” he replied.
“Do you think my hand is too shaky to use a paint brush?” I asked.  (Actually, the only thing I can safely use my right hand for is a potable hair dryer).
“You’ll just have to try,” he calmly said.
To make a long story short, the class went well despite Ronnie having to finally take my seat to finish my painting. Obviously sight and a steady hand are prerequisites to taking an Art class so I wasn’t a good candidate.
The class was really fun and I’m glad I overcame my insecurities and went. The instructor provides all the supplies including the canvas and you get to take your painting home the same day. The class is only two hours long and I actually learned a lot of things about applying paint to a canvas and how to hold a brush to accomplish different strokes.
When we left I told Ronnie that I wanted to take my picture to Mr. Pack’s house, but he wouldn’t let me.
“But I want him to grade it for me,” I protested. «I just want to show him that I›m not that bad an artist.»
Have a great week and don’t forget to Smile Awhile!


Poison Oak
Popcorn and the changing times

I don’t think I’ve ever heard as many people griping about it getting dark so early as I have after the time changed this time. This pitch dark-at-5:30 stuff , for some reason, just seems to be grating on people’s nerves.
On the other hand, when you’re my age, early darkness could be good for several reasons. Like, for instance, being an excuse to park in the recliner and enjoy, for the tenth time, Barney’s promise to “nip it in the bud,” and some of Ernest T’s poetry. A few weeks ago we even watched a couple of the new shows. It’s a good thing ole Andy didn’t use words like that or Miss Crump or Aunt Bee would have washed out his mouth with lye soap. As Forrest Gump would have said, “That’s all I’m going to say about that.”
Another good thing about all this extra time in front of the tube that Standard Time provides, is popcorn. I’ll guarantee that at our house, we eat three times more popcorn in January than any other month in the year. For one thing, popcorn is in perfect contrast to all the sweet Christmas stuff we nibbled on last month.
But as much as I enjoy what Orville Redenbacher has done for the world, popcorn still isn’t as good as it used to be when I’d order up a big red and white striped box (for a nickel) at the Royal and Sipp theaters when I was about 10 years old. In those days, as I sat Saturday after Saturday watching my favorite cowboy hero nab the bad guys, and since my finances pretty much limited me to just one box per visit, I  developed popcorn-eating to a science. I could make it last through half a double feature. Don’t know if I could still eat it one kernel at a time, but in those days, I did.
I come from a long line of popcorn eaters, and although “show popcorn” was quite special, what Mom popped in lard in a big cooker on top of the stove (remember, this was a good fifty years before the microwave) was quite good, too. Dad always had a little popcorn patch in the corner of his garden, and most always harvested a bushel or two of the tiny ears. Mom would pop and fill a big roaster pan full and we’d hold a sheet of newspaper (either The Paintsville Herald or Grit) in our laps and eat it from that. When the popcorn was gone, we’d simply wad up the paper, toss it in the grate and that was that. Likely as not, had we dirtied a bowl every time we ate popcorn, we wouldn’t have had it as often as we did.  
I read somewhere that Americans consume 14 billion quarts of popcorn every year. That’s 23 quarts per man, woman and child. I’m assuming that that’s measured after it’s popped. Anyway, it would be interesting to know how much of that is eaten simply because it’s already night time by the time the six o’clock news comes on.


Education and Common Sense
Our president needs our prayers

I am concerned that the objection to President-elect Donald Trump has become shrill and out of control.  I am concerned that so many people are so disturbed by the election of Donald Trump that they are planning to disrupt the Inauguration ceremonies and work as hard as they can to keep him from being a successful President.
I was as surprised as anybody else was that Trump got nominated. I was surprised when he got elected with such a majority of the Electoral vote .I have been pleasantly surprised at what fine citizens his grown-up children are, and what great people he has picked to be his cabinet. I realize he is not an evangelical “born again” Christian, but we have had some of those that weren’t particularly good Presidents. I think Mr. Pence is a great selection for Vice-President, and I am glad Ben Carson is a part of the Cabinet. Mike Huckabee is a good envoy to Israel, and I think we will be on Israel’s side while Trump is President. I do not know the chapter and verse, but the Bible talks about being a friend to Israel. The Jews are STILL God’s Chosen People, and I think we ought to stay with the only democracy in the Middle East.
I am horrified when I read about the plans to disrupt the Inauguration, and I hate to hear people are acting uncivilized and planning to do all kinds of underhanded actions to keep the ceremony from going on as planned.  I have been proud that THE UNITED STATES IS A CIVILIZED NATION and we have always had a peaceful transfer of power. I can’t believe that, in a nation so caught up in sports, we can’t realize that if you LOSE, the other person WINS, and we have to let him have control of the ball without whining, crying, or kicking him in the teeth.
I wrote in this space a few weeks ago, when talking about the election, that God is in control of the whole Universe, including the United States. If God wanted Donald Trump to be President at this time, then he will be. I do not know God’s motives. Either he is using a sinful man to get some things done that need to be done or if He (God) wants to punish our nation for making murdering babies in the womb legal or many other customs that go against the Bible.
The Bible says,”The powers that be are ordained of God.” And some of the rulers in the Bible were as awful as we are imaging Trump to be.
I have voted for every Presidential election since Harry Truman ran. I have lost more votes than I have won. However, The United States is still strong and viable.
Surely we can be civil and let Trump, who has been a successful business man and has lots of good help try to put the country on course, and pray that we will not continue downhill.
We are all on this plane. Let’s pray for the pilot’s success.



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