Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Ornamental Ginger

We got a plant from my sister several years ago. She couldn't remember the name but she called later and said she thought it was ornamental ginger.

When I Googled ornamental ginger, it returned the plant. The real name is Curcuma Elata.

We planted it close to one of our shrubs and the ornamental ginger is almost hidden from view. A few days ago, Jilda was out feeding the birds and discovered the beautiful pink and yellow flowers hiding under the shrub.

She took a picture and shared it on her Instagram account. I waited an appropriate length of time before taking a picture.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Raising chickens ~ my column from Sunday's paper

Our great-nephew Jordan joined the 4-H Club at school. He thought long and hard about a project for the summer. He was leaning towards raising chickens, but he had a few problems. 
The first thing was he knew nothing about chickens, and the second, he didn’t have a chicken pen. He should become a diplomat because, within a matter of minutes, we were the great-aunt and great-uncle of 19 tiny fluffy chickens.
The first several weeks, the little chicks lived in a big plastic tub in his bedroom. Usually, that wouldn’t be an issue, except for the first two weeks the baby chicks have to stay toasty. This means they live under a heat lamp 24/7. I can tell you from experience that after dark, heat lamps are actually brighter than the sun. 
I was surprised at how attentive he was with his new peeps. Each day, he would call and give me a report. 
Before agreeing to keep the chicks at our house, I told him our pen had to be rebuilt to make sure raccoons and possums didn’t get in and have the girls for supper. He agreed to come over on a Saturday and help with construction. 
A few weeks later, we had a carpenter come and help with the heavy framing on Friday so that it would be ready for the final phase the next day.
After breakfast on Saturday, he and his mom were knocking on our door and ready to get to work. It took him a while to get used to swinging a hammer, and he whacked his fingers a time or two, but he was a trooper. 
When we were satisfied that the area was critter-proof, they brought the chicks over and turned them loose in the new pen. That first day, we stood there for a long time and watched them. I never knew how comical they could be. 
The next morning, Jordan ran by before school to feed and water the babies. That evening, we pulled chairs and a swing over close to the pen. Jordan, his mom, his nana, Jilda, and I spent the next hour or so sipping tea and watching the chickens play.
Several days later, I stepped down to toss some lettuce into the pen when I saw something wasn’t right. While the pen was effective at keeping critters out, the small holes in the chicken wire were big enough for a chicken snake to crawl through. I always thought that the snakes only ate eggs, but one look at that snake and I knew it had eaten one of the chicks. 
I am a live-and-let-live kind of guy. I’ve caught a half dozen snakes and released them in another zip code. Things didn’t turn out as well for this snake. Jilda could see from the deck that something was up and she stepped down to help. I caught the snake, and when it wrapped its body around my arm, she almost had a hygiene issue. I won’t gross you out with the details, but I did verify that the baby chick was dead. 
After that excitement, I drove to Tractor Supply and bought some things that are supposed to keep snakes at bay. So far, they’ve worked.
Fortunately, the little chicks have grown at an astonishing rate, and I think they are now too big for snakes, but we still spend a lot of time throughout the day watching them.
Both Jilda and I were happy to help Jordan with his project, but we are glad he didn’t join the circus and get a panda cub.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Happy Father's Day

I have a picture on my desk of my dad and me. It was taken around 1955. He’s squatting in front of our old 1947 Chevrolet, and I’m standing between his legs wearing a cowboy hat and a smile as big as Texas. I love that photograph. It makes me smile, and sometimes, it makes me sad.

My dad always loved the sound of trains chugging from one destination to another. When I was still in grammar school, I remember the two of us sitting on our porch after supper in the summertime. He would pull a pouch of tobacco from his pocket and roll a lumpy cigarette. He’d smoke while we sat in our front-porch swing and waited for the train.

Off in the distance, we’d hear the train coming from the west through Cordova. As it neared Frenchtown, the engineer would sound the whistle to warn drivers who might be crossing the tracks in Dora. The train whistle echoed through the hollows for miles. The sound was haunting. I think he’d dreamed of riding that train one day.

On the second Sunday in June each year, my dad would go to Davis Cemetery in Dora. He’d and at daylight and collect donations when people brought flowers for Decoration Day. The money was used to keep the grass cut. His people were buried there, and he felt it was the right thing to do. 

Last Sunday, I spent the morning collecting donations at the cemetery like my dad once did. He is now buried at the top of the hill next to my mom. I was the first one at the cemetery. Standing there, I ate a breakfast biscuit and sipped on a steaming cup of coffee. Off in the distance, I heard the sound of a train rattling and screeching on the rails. Closing my eyes, I listened for the sound of the whistle that I knew would come soon.  

Hearing the whistle brought a smile to my face. I know somewhere, my dad was smiling too. 

Happy Father’s Day.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Sea of old maids

Our great nephew Anthony asked Jilda and me several weeks ago if he could have his birthday party out our house.

They have a beautiful home but the yard was not designed for a herd of kids.

Here, we have a fenced in yard for the little ones and about 12 acres of land with hills, hollows, creeks, and rocks as big Volkswagen. 

They can play croquet or dodgeball inside the fence, but if they decided on games that need more space it's in the field between the house and barn.

I said all that to say this: We've spent most of the day preparing the place for company next weekend. 

It felt good to submerge myself in work that doesn't require brainpower.  We planted a patch of old maids and they are coming up on force. Jilda planted them in neat rows, but it was where we had them last year and hundreds of seeds "volunteered' to come up. 

I snapped a picture of a section this morning.

Friday, June 14, 2019


The meeting I attended last night was even further in the country than where we live. It was a community meeting. A company owned by Tyson Inc. dumped thousands of gallons of untreated wastewater into the Mulberry Fork. That's the river where I visit almost every day.

The pollution killed thousands of fish. People have also taken pictures of turtles, and other aquatic life that lived in the river.

This is not the first incident for Tyson. They are repeat polluters. I fear they are killing our little piece of paradise.

I got a notice today that the annual Kayak Race schedule for next weekend has been canceled. 

This is breaking my heart.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Swallowtail ..... I think

I had a late meeting to cover this evening. Usually, when I have a late meeting the story doesn't run until the following day. This one had a short fuse so I had to write it tonight.

I'm thankful I snapped a picture of a Swallowtail Butterfly...I think.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Blogging is sometimes painful

It's been a slow day in Empire. I did take Jilda early this morning to be jabbed by a bunch of needles by Dr. Zhao. It seems that acupuncture is helping with many of the inner ear issues she has. 

I dropped her off at the office and then headed to a nearby Starbucks to sip coffee and work on my column. When I got back an hour later to collect her, she looked like she'd knocked back a few stiff drinks while I was gone. She also looks a little taller.  A good acupuncturist can do that for you.

Yesterday while we walked, I saw a new lily in the woods by the walking path. I was wearing shorts and blackberry thorns racked my legs and I navigated over close enough to snap a picture.

Blogging is sometimes painful.

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