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Monday, March 26, 2012

GENERAL STORES, WALKER EVANS, AND CULTURAL MEANING

Courtesy of Library of Congress

As I look at this Walker Evans photo above, taken in the 1930s, I wonder if this building is still standing? To me it is a cultural icon representing the early part of the 1900s -- reflecting early vehicles, advertisements, architecture, community, general stores,  postal conveniences, all wrapped up in a place . A place where everyone knew who you were which kept most people honest. 


General stores at one time, in this country, had meaning. It was a way of life in small communities to have such stores down the road usually within walking distance. Settlements in agricultural areas clustered near such stores. They acted as newspapers for the settlements -- casting out news  gleaned from one source then dispersing it to others as they arrived at the store. Examples of such news items might be; who just had a baby, the wind storm that blew down part of Jacob's barn, auction of Mable's estate, and who needs a little help.


Below are a few photos of vacant general stores that exist today in central Kentucky. What will become of them? Will they ever return to the iconic ways present in the Walker Evans photo?


KIRKSVILLE AREA
I notice these general stores as I ride the back-roads. How many of these once small diverse stores have been removed from the landscape? Time brings increasing demolitions to our older buildings.  


UPDATED BUT EMPTY, GENERAL STORE NEAR BEREA.
What do we have today that can be likened to this icon of the past? What social changes do we realize from their demise? What takes their place?


BARELY STANDING IN ITS ORIGINAL STATE. 
GENERAL STORE IN THE
RED LICK AREA.


ADDENDUM:
Commentator Kirk deDoes pointed out that Sprott, AL is aware of the Walker Evans photo. He left this link that highlighted the Sprott folks and Walker Evans photo. Interesting link to visit. Here is one of the photos taken from the link. See Kirk deDoes comment below for link  address. 
  





WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH -- OLDER WOMEN BLOGGERS




For Women's History Month I am highlighting older women bloggers. It appears to me that there is a growing trend among older folks to produce their own personal blogs on a myriad of subjects.


Highlighted below are three women bloggers that between them cover just about every subject under the sun. The things they have in common are; they are witty, wise, and write professional posts on  informative subjects. Their ages range from near seventy into the eighties.



June
Photo taken from Big 7-0 & more

Living on Cape Cod, June's posts share her artistic pursuits through music and art such as quilting. Also she has a deep grasp of literature and is constantly digging up excellent authors for review --  some known and some not that well known. Her ruminations on thought provoking subjects are all part of her reportoire. Click here for a visit to Big 
7-0 and More

Darlene at 86
Photo taken from Darlene's Hodgepodge

Darlene tells it like it is when it comes to important issues. She writes on national politics in a witty yet pointedly firm way. She stays on top of what is going on in our nation. On occasion she mixes in a bit of family and daily events. Always something of interest is running through Darlene's posts. Click here to enjoy Darlene's Hodgepodge blog.

Ronni Bennett
Photo taken from Times Go By

Ronni Bennett serves up a daily menu of information about living wisely as an older person. She has been posting Time Goes By since 2003. I consider her an online pioneer in addressing the subject of growing older in a positive light. Her subjects cover the whole spectrum of aging  -- social issues, retirement, health and much more. It is refreshing to read a blog that highlights aging as a privilege to be enjoyed. Click here to read her posts.

These women are setting fine examples for older bloggers. Their dedication to this form of "spreading their words," tells us that activism at any age is profound. 

Saturday, March 24, 2012

COUNTRY BRICK MASONRY WITH VINTAGE GATE

A waist high fence erected around Mr. Lamb's "sittin" porch in Madison County, Kentucky. 
A vintage gate welcomes the visitor.

Monday, March 19, 2012

CANYON DOG WALKER

Utah Mountains 
If you are dissatisfied at work or are unemployed here is one occupation suggestion to change your view. Become a canyon dog walker. This is what my daughter did about ten years plus ago. How can you beat the pleasure of the beautiful outdoors, getting wonderful exercise and still be making good money while you are doing so. 


The person in the photo above is my daughter who is in her element hiking with dogs and enjoying the natural beauty of the mountains. Although the dogs are a lot of responsibility she absolutely loves her work


Of course if you don't have canyons you can still take advantage of your natural environment for dog walking, be it woods, beach, desert, corn fields or whatever part of nature you have available. 


If one wants to work in the beauty of nature here are some other outdoor occupations to consider; artist,  gardener, snow shoveler, newspaper route, window washer, park ranger, utility worker, farmer,  surveyor, writer, photographer, house painter, biologist, archaeologist, and numerous others. 


As Joseph Campbell stated -- Follow Your Bliss





Thursday, March 15, 2012

SPRING HAS SPRUNG IN THE COUNTRY


Today, an eye-popping array of flowering quince together with yellow forsythia  greeted me as  I rode down a country road toward my home . Together they have a spread of about twenty-five feet and a height of about ten feet -- one cannot miss their beauty. Early every spring I look forward to this huge rather wild showcase of spring blooming shrubs. They never fail to perform. 

My hyacinths were waiting for me when I got home. They are at their peak right now in my yard. With all the blooming,  a robin egg blue sky and the temperatures in the high 60s, how could I not wear a smile most of the day. 


For those of you that don't have any spring blooms in your yard may I suggest buying some pansies at your local nursery and planting them in some kind of container. Place the arrangement by your an entrance door that you use the most. The smiling pansy faces will make you smile reminding you that spring is again upon us.

The circle of life continues.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

MY SEED BANK



And so our mothers and grandmothers have, more often than not anonymously, handed on the creative spark, the seed of the flower they themselves never hoped to see - or like a sealed letter they could not plainly read.
Alice Walker




Why not consider saving seeds from your home garden this year? It saves you money and assures the purity of your seeds. 


I have been saving seeds for most of the past twenty years. I regard this as a very short time span compared to some of the long-time gardeners that I have met along my gardening path. 


I really think my interest in seeds all started from observing my garden compost pile. I realized that the tomato and squash plants that I had thrown in my compost in the fall were sprouting  new plants in the spring. 


My next step was to try and reproduce what my compost could accomplish with no help from me. I befriended an old time gardener that shared his seed saving methods with me. 


So this is how my seed bank all started. By observing, sharing, and being aware of how plants take care of their own seeds. 


Above are some seeds that I have bottled up -- some have been bottled for several years other are fresh seeds collected from my garden this past fall.


Seeds inside jalapeno
Photo Credit: Wikipilpinas


The seed saving process usually starts when the plants produce their seeds, at the end of their growing season.  


Collecting seeds from your garden plants is easy. When I collect them I clean away any extraneous plant material from the seed. I then dry them out on a flat tray, not touching each other -- and eventually after about a month -- put them in a container. 


The containers I have used are either old tins that have tight covers or bottles like the ones above. Many times I put dried seeds in plain white envelopes, seal, write the name of the variety on the outside, then tuck several envelopes of different seeds in a large tin container with a tight lid. I then store them in a cool, dark closet until the next planting season. 


Hill Gardens of Maine offers a comprehensive list of  of seed viability.


Here is how I test for seeds viability. It is the standard test for home gardeners. --- 



-Count out a number of seeds. I use 5 if I only have a few, 10 if I have plenty.


-Moisten a piece of paper towel and fold into fourths.


-Open the paper towel in half and place your seeds neatly on towel.


-Place moistened towel into a plastic bag. Seal the bag.


-Label the plastic bag with date and name of seed variety.


-Place sealed bag in a warm area like the top of your refrigerator,


-Check seeds after 24 and then 48 hours. Count how many seeds have germinated.


-I usually hope for at least half the seeds to germinate. I usually then put 2 seeds in each garden  planting space. 


I suggest gathering seeds from the healthiest looking plants.  


Germinated seed
Photo Credit: Integrated Crop Management


If you would like more information on seed saving I  recommend the following books:


Seed to Seed by Ernest Ashworth, Kent Whealy, Suzanne Ashworth.


The Complete Guide to Saving Seeds by Robert Gough.









Thursday, March 8, 2012

WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH -- VANDANA SHIVA

A couple of years ago I was sitting in a crowd of people listening  to a speaker from India by the name of  Vandana Shiva. I was familiar with her environmental writings and was anxious to have the opportunity to hear her speak.  That night she deeply impressed me with her environmental knowledge and need for activism globally. Ms Shiva is and has been active in many environmental issues for the past 20 years. That night she concentrated mostly on saving our global seeds from being owned by corporate companies such as Monsanto.  
Vandana Shiva -- Wikipedia
After the lecture I was able to talk with her for a short period. As I started our mini-conversation I shook her hand. Instead of letting go, she held my hand warmly as we talked. I swear I felt a sense of inter-being emanating from her hand. 


March is Women's History Month.  A time to recognize women in general and some specifically. I have many women that I would like to acknowledge -- and today I will start with Vandana Shiva. During this month I will highlight a couple more. Of course, I feel that there are so many women that should be applauded besides the few that I will mention.


Vandana Shiva was born 1952 in India. She began her career as a physicist. Eventually, she became a philosopher and an environmental activist. She is active with the International Forum on Globalization and has received in 1993 the Right Livelihood Award.

Below is a video of her stance on saving our global natural seed stock:




Stay tuned during March for a few more mentions of women that  I feel have contributed their time and energies to our way of life. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

A SCARY TORNADO DAY


This was the look of the sky over my home most of yesterday. It was a chaotic day of warnings, watches, rain, thunder,  lightning and strong winds from noon till eight p.m. Severe racing storms overhead mingled their sound with my radio blaring out "take cover." 


I have been through lots of tornado conditions but yesterday's number of tornadoes in the state of Kentucky was indeed scary. Ultimately, as night moved in,  I found I had escaped with no destruction to my home or property. And, I was all in one piece physically. Except I found I was mentally shaken from the whole experience. 


But sad to say many persons across several states, that were touched by the huge front that ran from the deep south to the far northern state of Michigan, experienced some destruction. Many even lost their lives. 


When such storms enter our lives we are vulnerable to death or critical injury. A tornado strike happens randomly. We know what it can do, we respect its ferociousness.  Yet if we find ourselves under the threat of a tornado we attempt to deny the possibility that it might touch down on our place.


But we are vulnerable to the randomness of Mother Nature. It was a reminder to me that life is to be lived for the moment.