Sunday, June 14, 2015

Long May She Wave

We normally don't post two items the same day, but this morning we went over to the state park for breakfast and saw some items which hit a sore spot.

Today, Sunday, June 14th is Flag Day. A special day when we honor our country's flag. It is important that we remember this day so we are writing almost after-the-fact because since 9/11 many sightings of our American flag have not been in honor, but desecration.
Myth holds that George Washington asked Betsy Ross, a seamstress, in Philadelphia to construct our first stars and bars after the resolution of the Second Continental Congress was passed on June 14, 1777. It read:
"Resolved: that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation."
There may have been a rough sketch involved or a copy of the resolution that was published on September 2, 1777.
An interesting point is that Washington, himself, used six pointed stars, which was the British style. The stars on our coins at the time had six points, yet our flag uses the French style of five points and may have originally been a gesture to salute that nation for their aid during the Revolution.

These are ten brief guidelines on how to fly the flag of the United States of America.
1. The flag should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously.
2. Then it is never allowed to touch the ground or the floor.
3. When hung over a sidewalk on a rope extending from a building to a pole, the union stars are always away from the building.
4.When vertically hung over the center of the street, the flag always had the union stars to the north in an east/west street, and to the east in a north/south street.
5. The flag of the United States of America should be at the center and the highest point of the group when a number of flags of states or localities or pennants of societies are grouped and displayed from staffs.
6. The flag should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds, but always allowed to fall free.
7. The flag should be displayed at half-staff on Memorial Day until noon, then raised to the top of the staff.
8. Never fly the flag upside down except as a signal of distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.
9. The flag is never flown during inclement weather except when using an all-weather flag.
10. The flag can be flown every day from sunrise to sunset and at night if properly illuminated.

Nash Black's Twitter post for Flag Day was: Wave it. Don't wear it.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Sunday Nature Study

Lonnie E. Brown
When I was growing up near Ono, there weren't any computer games or cell phones to entertain us. We had to create our own diversions. I went to school weekdays and helped my dad on Saturdays, so Sunday after church was the only time I was truly on my own.
The activity I enjoyed most was to conduct nature studies. I usually did not tell my mom because, if I did, I was sure to get a scolding about being an aggravating little thing that should not bother innocent little creatures.
One of my encounters that I classified under the heading of nature studies was with a mud dauber wasp. Mud daubers are solitary wasps that construct small nests of mud in or around sheds, barns, or under structures or similar sites.

Mud Dauber nest by Barbara Appleby
My dad said mud daubers should be considered beneficial. They rarely sting people and they catch disagreeable spiders and insects, which they do sting to paralyze them for placement in their nests in a series of cells. They lay a single egg on the prey and seal the cell with mud. Then the female leaves and does not return. The larva hatch from the eggs feeding on the prey until it is time to emerge and start the process all over again.
One of my afternoon walks had not turned up anything of interest, until I noticed a mud dauber fly under the storage shed my Dad had built near the house. I crawled under the shed and saw the wasp was in the process of constructing a nest. I knew the females collected mud, rolled it into a ball, carried it to the nest, and molded it into place with its mandibles. This nest was well under way and she was adding ringed layers of mud at this point. Without noticing me, she flew away for another mud ball.
I carefully reached up and removed the mud ring she had just attached to the nest. Then I waited. In a few minutes the dauber returned with another mud ball. It seemed puzzled, but it went to work, applied another ring of mud, and then flew off. Again I reached up and removed the last mud layer. Then I moved out of sight and waited.
Shortly, the dauber returned with another load. Now it was really frustrated. It sensed something was wrong as it wasn't making any progress. It checked the entire nest, going up, over, and all around. Finally, it added the last load and flew off again.
I moved in fast and removed the mud. I was curious about what it would do when it came back. I didn't have long to wait. The poor dauber returned again and saw the mud was gone. It dropped the ball of mud it carried and flew away. Although I waited a long time, she never came back.
I crawled out from under the shed feeling a little guilty about what I had done to the hard working dauber and went to the house. I learned a valuable lesson that Sunday from the little dauber. When you see you aren't getting anywhere in spite of your best efforts, cut your losses and move on.

Lonnie Brown is a fine teller of tales as his, Stories You Won't Believe exemplifies. He also collaborates with his wife, Roberta Simpson Brown, for some hair raising ghost stories.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

County Fair

Smells. Odor. Aroma. The instant you enter the gate of a county fair your olfactory sense is bombarded by machine gun bullets of images that have lain dormant in the memory cells of your brain. Scientists maintain that our sense of smell is the last one we lose as we age and that it triggers more forgotten memories than any of the other four.
Go out to the fair that has endured for over a century and breathe in the enticing aroma of your yesterday when a ticket bought the excitement of the gaudy midway and a night of thrills. Take you grandchildren, banning all tablets & cell phones and let them explore the world of smell. Cover their eyes and encourage them to identify the odor of horse droppings, the sweetness of honey, the burnt sugar of cotton candy, the fumes of gasoline, and the buttery crispness of popcorn all coming at them in a calliope of sensation. Today they may believe the Grands are a bit on the balmy side, but in future years they will be introducing their own grandchildren to the different odors collected witnin the fenced grounds of a fair.
Summer time is fair time. To be a perfect county fair it must be hot enough to bake potatoes on the roof of the grandstand or rainy enough that rivulets of sweat dripping from you nose match the drops splashing in the puddles on the road. There is never anything fair-to-meddling about county fair weather. Mother Nature provides her own perfume to match the whim of her outstanding productions.
Fairs are first and far most about individual competition and the judge's decisions are final, at least until next year. The idea of individual competition has almost disappeared from our consciousness and been replaced by teams or groups, both in industry and education. Though for the life me I've never discovered a group brain. The county fair revises the importance of individual achievement.
Who bakes the best pie? Who preserves the crispest pickles? Who trains and rides the most skilled horse? Who raises the most outstanding pig? Who drives the strongest team of horses? Who creates the most intricate quilt design? These questions and many more are answered each year at the county fair. Who is crowned Grand Champion and takes home the purple ribbon of royalty? It is a glorious week of achievements and recognition for the individual and speaks to the very foundation of American principles.
It is also dirty, muddy, grubby, and loads of fun to dance along on the winds of smells , no matter what your age.

Nash Black thanks the contributors to Google Images for the photos on this blog, they are not their own.

Faded Photographs

While browsing in a flea market, antique store, or cleaning out the attic of a family home have you opened a photo album with black paper or an old shoe box and found a stack of old black and white photographs? Maybe you stopped and wondered who these people where that graced the glossy surfaces.
You know they are from an era way before your time, the quality of the image may be poor being either over or underexposed. They may be blurred because of a slow shutter speed and a shaking hand, fingers may extend down over the lens, heads may be cut off as the view finder and the lens did not see the same part of the image.
Selfies are not new, one of the first was taken by Charles Eastman using his new development, the hand held box camera. His box camera opened the world of photography to the public for personal (amateur) photos. Its size may have become smaller over the years, but the same basic design lasted well into the 1960s. Today you will see examples gracing the shelves of antique stores.
A roll of film would allow 12 images, double images were a hazard when you forgot to wind the film, and flash bulbs provided light for indoor shots. You used your roll of film and then, either took it to the drug store or mailed it in a yellow envelope to be developed and the pictures printed. This generally took about a week or a little more before you could enjoy the product of the little box of immorality.
A careful exploration of the faded photographs revels four basic subject: stills, children, animals, and people. None of the are labeled so the futre viewer does not know where they where taken or who posed for the camera.

Still lifes are bowls of fruit, plants, holiday decorations, vehicles, homes, barns, etc. They are flat and lifeless with one shape blending into another without definition. Shadows, if they exist at all, are muddy and indistinct.

Children's faces are ugly squints as they face the sun. The instructions that came with the camera told the photographer to let the rays of the sun fall over his left shoulder to properly illuminate the subject. Children being who they are adore making funny faces for the camera.

Animals that were prized for their qualities or family pets are beloved subjects for the roving lens and were often used to finish a roll. Dogs and cats have enlarged heads and small bodies as the photographer was bending over bending over to snap the picture while the pets stretched to investigate this strange thing that was being that was being poked their way. Blurs were common where paws and tails moved while the shutter was open.

People are stilted and posed in groups, dressed in their Sunday best standing on steps, sitting on porches, or perched on the family car, but wearing phony smiles or grimaces of endurance while waiting for the photographer to study the image through the view finder.
The romanticize portrait of an individual, usually a girl posed against a tree was a common favorite. The setting was used by amateur and professional alike. The worst one of this genre I ever saw was the engagement photo of a former student. The trunk of the tree was covered with poison ivy, It required hospitalization and two weeks for her to recover from the photo session.

On rare occasions you will discover a jewel where luck played a greater factor than skill. Treaure these old photographs as they are a glimpse into everyone's past.