Saturday, April 30, 2016

Big Sneeze

Spring is wonderful. It makes our hearts bounce as we watch flowers blooming, calves bounding in fields, and trees greening with new leaves after winter's stark limbs.
   That's the good side, then there is the bad side, each of those blooms produce pollen. Bees thrive on the bounty. Humans . . . well that's another story.
   The Ohio River Valley is known nation wide as Sinus Gulch. Disparaging remarks are made about 'snotty-nosed brats' when children sniffle and snuff. I've read few novels set in the Appalachian area that somewhere the author doesn't have a character wipe their nose on their sleeve, especially when they want to create a bad impression and have never lived in our region.
   There are few if any real solutions to the effects of spring pollen, it's in every breath we take and has nothing to do with second-hand smoke or the burning of fossil fuels. Air pollution is at its height in the spring, its nature's way of producing new growth and insuring the survival of a species.
   The tiny grains of pollen are so small they seep through screens and filters. Together in mass they create great pools of yellow scum on the lake. Hard rains will cleanse the air for a few hours, but it's short lived as the wind brings waves of new pollen from as far away as 300-400 miles. Under high powered microscopes pollen from individual sources can be identified, which keeps the air quality experts busy but doesn't do much for suffers.
   You clean your porch furniture or wash your car then go out the next morning and they are covered with greenish yellow detritus that looks as if you've driven through a prairie dust storm.
   Spring air borne allergens have a life of about six weeks and those who are afflicted with allergies are miserable. Their eyes are red, they sting and burn, their nose runs, they cough, and their sinuses ache. All the symptoms of a head cold, sinus infection, or flu.
   Pharmacies are kept busy restocking shelves of over-the-counter remedies that offer vague promises of relief. Media reaps heavy profits from advertisers of these products, many of which have worse side-effects than the original problem. Doctors prescribe stronger medicines in hopes of easing the symptoms.
   Nash has suffered from allergies to air borne pollen for 40 years. He gives himself shots of a serum provided by a doctor once a week every two weeks, or every day according to the results of his tests and directions provided by his physician.

   Recently we got a notice from our health care provider that they may not cover the prescription if it is administered outside the prescribing physician's office. 
   Would anyone like to calculate the added costs of driving 190 miles round trip to comply with this obscene regulation for a problem nature creates? 
   Maybe the regulator have some leftover from WWI gas masks they want to unload on an entire population. Maybe they want to live in a world without trees, grasses, flowers, and weeds, we don't.
  The moment we can get outside when the worst of winter passes we polish the table with Windex each day. Then endure the pollen nature provides for plants to reproduce and survive and  insects to consume and store for food.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Lay Down the Beat

1920s - Grandfathers
Music defines Kentucky across all lines of area, race, age, politics, creeds, and anything else that divides a people. Be it Bluegrass, Rock, Rap, County, Swing, Jazz, Blues, Gospel, Symphonic, Choral, or any other style somewhere in the state you'll find someone playing, singing, jamming, or performing.
  One of the most interesting people I ever met was one of the 85 original founders of the Libertarian political party. His home was in Louisville, KY, he was elderly, his grandparents were slaves, during the concert season he held a chair in the Louisville Symphony, and in the summer he jammed in the New Orleans Jazz Hall with his friends. Music and freedom were his life. His talent broke barriers long before courts and laws opened doors.
  Churches, garages, barrooms, and porches have produced a long line of musicians who have achieved fame and fortune in the music industry as performers, writers, and promoters. Getting together to pick-a-tune occurs wherever people gather. Some make it big while others with equal talent fall by the wayside, but the participants never lose the love of music that drew them together.
   School dances, lunch hour jams, bands, orchestras, sock hops gave and still give many a young performer a venue to exercise their talents and gain necessary stage presence. I once heard a
1950s - Grandsons
young man who'd returned from a world wide tour as a polished professional exclaim in panic, "God, what'll I do. My whole family is out there." He was so scared he didn't realized the mike was open. The audience enjoyed a good laugh.
  Nash Black uses this old tradition in their mysteries every time the Young Brothers get together to advance the story line. Each session has a purpose to the story, the songs are carefully selected from the period of the action. They use only the titles of the selections to invoke a memory in the reader. If the reader isn't familiar with the music little is lost in the reading.
2015 - great-great grandsons
 Late spring and summer is the time for dozens of music festivals through out Kentucky - each is dedicated to a favorite style or a good mix. Most are outdoors where acoustics are not a problem. This isn't true in small theaters - especially in the Star Theater in Russell Springs, KY which recently inaugurated a new program "Sounds of the Star" to showcase local talent. We want to see and hear this program grow, but I'm going to hand out some unsolicited advice.
   Be kind to your audience. When a singer is singing, lower the volume on backup, so the words to the song can be distinguished. That doesn't mean the boys & girls in the band should take a backseat. Each should be given a chance to strut their stuff for a solo, but never try to out play each other so all is lost in a jumble of catatonic blare.

Note: The colored photo was supplied by Stuart Simpson of Somerset Community College, Somerset, KY. It fit so well with this post. Thanks for letting me use it. 

Friday, April 8, 2016

Potting Bench

Our potting bench ready for a new season.
Do your fingers itch for being covered with dirt like a kid playing in a sandbox?
   It's potting and re-potting time. If you have space a vegetable garden is a must or at least a few pots of tomatoes for a sunny deck. I'm not sure if it's the months of anticipation or taste of real home grown tomatoes that makes us throw health considerations to the four winds for a squishy white bread sandwich slathered with mayo and a thick slice of tomato. On mine so I can include the daily food groups I add iceberg lettuce and hand slice garlic baloney, while Nash tops his off with a large round of white onion. Good summer eating and well worth the wait.
   That is food for the future, now is the time to ready your space for the bounty to come. Plants are arriving at various outlets and each forced specimen tempts us to fill our shopping carts with more than we can efficiently handle. Suppliers have carefully watered their offerings with various ready-grow products to push the season. Our advice is to take care and choose those whose blooms show a tad of color, but have unformed buds. Let them bud and flower in your garden, the wait is worth it for sturdier plants next summer.
   The late Fred Wiche's Gardening Almanac has long had a place on my shelf of almanacs. He spent years on TV and radio answering thousands of questions from Kentucky gardeners. He knew our unique growing conditions and problems.  The almanac was his first book. If you're a gardener and can find a copy, it's a keeper.
   Ozzie Ovendecker is our gardening expert on the Ono Chronicle, he comments: "Carry home plants from the nursery and watch the chickweed grow." We haven't found a good solution for the problem other than pulling them out by hand and burning them. Some people bake their store bought potting soil at 250 degrees over night.
   Once we get our treasures home, we let them harden off in light shade for several days. Pruning any flowers, dead or wilted leaves, trimming excess roots, and keeping the little pots damp.
   Where you stabilize your plants takes planning and care. You want a place that is easy to clean, airy, and dry with sufficient tools for transplanting them to their future home. We use our backporch with a three tiered stand for storage of extra pots, watering cans, used kitty litter bucket with a tight seal for potting soils, mosquito repellent, a good whisk broom, and plenty of flat working space. Parts of the stand began life as a media sound system rack in the 1960s. Most of our tools came from relatives when we cleaned out estates or as gifts from friends. Recycling works.
   A note on a spring problem, at a meeting the other day folks were complaining about trash thrown out on a ramp to the lake and wanted the county to post no litter signs. Nash is still laughing at the looks on their faces when my patience wore thin and I said, "Pick it Up." Now you tell me what is the difference between spending time at the gym touching your toes and bending over for a little spring trash pick up.