Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Ailing Blue Spruce

In February, we noticed our blue spruce trees were looking thin and scraggly.
My husband put some fertilizer around them, but it didn't help.
After the weather warmed, we realized that the trees had some kind of fungal infection. We looked up the symptoms on the 'net.
My husband lopped off about three feet of branches from the bottoms of the two trees that were the most infected.
I really hated to see him do that, as we planted these trees when we moved here 28 years ago.
This might give you a better idea of how bad the lower branches were looking prior to cutting.
From all indications, this is the result of the wet spring and summer we had last year. 
The poor trees scarcely had any needles left on them on some branches.
This is one of the healthier trees. We sprayed it with a fungicide, as we did all of them.
This tree, which is the furthest away from the others, seems to have been spared most of the damage. It is being sprayed with fungicide too, though. 
This leaking of white sap is a tell-tale sign of the fungal infection.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Value of a Life

Recently there has been a lot of talk about the value of people. Some people would have us think that there are folks who are more valuable than others, it seems.

Poor people, for instance, have little value in our society. (If you don't know any poor people, you might want to look in the mirror because the middle class is rapidly deteriorating.) People on welfare or food stamps, people who don't work at "real" jobs - folks like teachers and policemen, for instance - apparently are part of what is wrong with today's society. At least that's the story from one side of the aisle.

It's a question of equality, really. Does each person have value? Is just being human, just living, important? It seems to me that in this day and age, being human isn't enough. You have to be a human doing, not a human being, in order to be considered important enough to be thought of as equal.

In my local paper, a recent opinion writer made this statement: "Never mind that God did not make us equal and only naïve (or unscrupulous) politicians think they can override that natural law.

I assume he (it's almost always a he, isn't it?) is speaking about the Christian god, since that's the deity most popular here. Perhaps he needs a refresher course in his biblical readings.

From Galatians 3:28: There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave[a] nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

From John 13:16: Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him.

From Acts 10:34: So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality.

That's just three verses; there are more, of course. I can pick and choose as well as anyone.

But then we also have a certain document that Americans hold sacred. The Declaration of Independence says this: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Of course, it doesn't mention women, and here's where things get tricky. I define "people" as all of humanity, everyone who looks like a human, regardless of gender, color, sexual preference, hair style, types of jeans they wear, jewelry - anything. All human. All equal. All valuable.

I think, though, that people like the op ed writer see classes of people. They are thinking white males, mostly. Those are the people of value, the people who are equal. The rest of us, not so much.

They are rather like the pigs in Animal Farm. Remember that allegorical novel? The animals take over the farm. Initially their most important rule is "All animals are created equal."

But as time goes on, the pigs move into the farmhouse. They begin to feel power. In the end, the rule changes to say "All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others."

That seems to be where we are now, with the mouths yelling at one another in our halls of power and places of worship. We're all equal - but we're not. From the media we hear these whispers: poor people bad, rich people good. White people good, everybody else bad. Women bad regardless and so should always earn less, but some women are worse than others. People who need public assistance are bad, people who inherit wealth are good. Where does it end? Why must we draw these lines?

It's enough to make your pants fall off.

I am, I suppose, judging people who judge. How dare you, anyway? How dare you think that you know better than anyone else who has value and who does not?

The amount of money in my pocket is not what makes up my value. My value as a person is limitless and infinite. So is yours.

The mantras of today are not the moral values I want to live under. I want to live in a world where worth is not judged, where acceptance of all is key. Yes, I judge. We all judge. It is human nature to judge. But I try not to act upon my judgments except in lawful, acceptable ways (such as voting). I don't pelt people with eggs, I don't go on talk shows and make vile remarks about things of which I know nothing, and I don't condemn that which I do not understand.

When the sun rises, it rises for all. Think about that.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Geese on the Pond

Sunday, April 20, 2014

I'm a Sugar Addict

The Easter Meme
From Sunday Stealing

Q. What are your Easter traditions?

A. I don't have any. When I was a child, we did the Easter bunny thing, with baskets and candy on Easter morning. It was very secular. I was a teenager before I realized there was another significance to the weekend.

Q. Do you hard boil and decorate eggs?

A. No.

Q. How do you decorate your home for Easter?

A. I don't.

Q. Do you make/buy special outfits for yourself and your kids on Easter?

A. No.

Q. What is your favorite Easter dish?

A. I like chocolate. It doesn't really matter what time of year, but it seems quite abundant in the grocery aisles between Valentine's and Easter.

Q. When did you learn the truth about the Easter Bunny?

A. Sometime before I was six. I learned about the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and Santa Claus all at one time, because of my own ability to put two-and-two together. I had recently lost a tooth and received a 50 cent piece for it. I came across a dish full of 50 cent pieces. I suddenly made the connection, that this dish is where my tooth fairy money came from, and knew immediately that if there was no tooth fairy, there was no Easter Bunny or Santa Claus. I am good at making leaps of logic like that.

Q. Do you spend Easter at home, on vacation, or with family?

A. I will be home.

Q. First one up on Easter morning?

A. When I was young, it was my brother.

Q. Go to mass or church?

A. Probably not.

Q. What are your favorite Easter hymns and/or choir arrangements?

A. I don't have any. Does Gene Autry's Here Comes Peter Cottontail count?

Q. How many Easter egg hunts does your family usually participate in?

A. Zero.

Q. Do you make deviled eggs out of leftover Easter eggs?

A. I would if I made Easter eggs.

Q. Are you tired of eggs by the end of the Easter Season?

A. No.

Q. Are Peeps good or gross?

A. I don't eat them but have no real opinion on their goodness or grossness.

Q. What company makes the best chocolate for Easter time?

A. I like Cadbury Eggs. This is the only time of the year you can get them (though they recently started selling some at Halloween with green innards, that I did not like so much).

Q. Lots of candy or not?

A. I'm a sugar addict, so candy always.

Q. What is your favorite Easter candy?

A. I will go with the Cadbury Eggs.

Q. Do you find plastic Easter grass hidden in places for months after Easter is over?

A. When we were small we used to.

Q. What’s your favorite color for fake grass?

A. Um. Green? It is supposed to be grass, after all.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Hippity Hoppity

Saturday 9: Here Comes Peter Cottontail (1950)

1) Which do you prefer: colored hard-boiled eggs, chocolate marshmallow eggs, or plastic eggs with coins inside?

A. How about just those nice milk-chocolate egg footballs, or a Cadbury Egg? I love Cadbury Eggs.

2) What's your favorite color of Peeps (yellow, purple, or pink)?

A. I don't like Peeps. My favorite color is blue. Do they make blue Peeps?

3) All this talk of sweets is making the writer of this meme (Sam) hungry. What's for lunch?

A. Yogurt.

4) This song was introduced by country singer Gene Autry and it's still a favorite. Please share some of the lyrics. (And you're on your own; Sam didn't include a link to the song this week.)

A. Here comes Peter Cottontail, hoppin' down the bunny trail, hippity hoppity Easter's on its way. He's got Jelly Beans for Tommy, colored eggs for sister Sue, there's an orchid for your mommy, and an Easter bonnet, too! (That's from memory, I didn't look it up.)

5) Gene Autry was so popular that a town in Oklahoma named itself for him. Have you ever been to Oklahoma?

A. I think I have driven through Oklahoma, way back in 1976 when I was 12 and my parents drove across the US from Virginia to California. But otherwise, no.

6) In addition to singing, Mr. Autry made 93 cowboy movies. What's the last movie you saw?

A. I guess Game of Thrones isn't a movie, is it. My husband was watching The Waterboy while I was paying the bills the other night, but that doesn't really count as I wasn't paying much attention and I really dislike Adam Sandler movies. The last movie I saw at the theater was The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. I don't really watch a lot of movies, as you can tell.

7) He and his horse Champion also had a TV show. Can you name another famous horse?

A. Mr. Ed. He was a talking horse. There was also Secretariat, which won the Triple Crown in horse racing. The Disney movie about him was great. There, that's a movie I have watched.

8) Gene Autry also recorded "Rudolph, The Red Nosed Reindeer," and it was, of course, wildly popular, too. Who is your favorite recording artist?

A. I am partial to both Melissa Etheridge and Sheryl Crow, though I liked both of their earlier works more so than what they are producing today. I don't really have a favorite, more like a certain style of music that I prefer.

9) Back to the holiday celebration at hand -- Easter is considered the season of rebirth. What leaves you feeling refreshed and rejuvenated?

A. A good night's sleep helps. A massage is nice. Inspired conversation with friends is also good. And I like the idea of healthy blood. Everybody needs healthy blood; I'm just not sure how one gets it and keeps it.