Sunday, June 21, 2015

A Midsummer's Night Dream

Don't regret growing older. It's a privilege denied to many.

I like to mark the passage of time by the sun cycles. Today is the summer solstice. It's the shortest night of the year and the longest day. Some people say this is the first day of summer but technically the first day of summer started on the spring equinox. That was the day the night and day were equal in length. This is the middle of summer in my book. After today the days will start to get shorter again and fall and winter are on their way.

Coincidentally, my sister's birthday is today. It's also that national holiday Father's Day. My father is gone these past 5 years. I don't have him to wish happy father's day to. He was a good father but complicated. He gave me a lot of stuff to overcome but he also gave me the tools to overcome them with. I would have rathered he not go to this trouble and just give me an uncomplicated childhood but that's what he did and that's that.

My sister understands this. She understands it from the ground level. We were in the trenches together and we've had many a talk since those days of childhood. She has become a great friend of my "mature" years. We spent years when we were younger engaged in our own worlds and I am very happy that we have come back together. She's a blast to be with. Funny, thoughtful, smart, caring. The list goes on. She can't get hardly anywhere on time but that's just her. I can deal.

My sister when she was little. So adorable.
She's the one who gave me the quote above. It's true. Many people don't get to get old. Yeah, yeah, getting older is a huge pain in the tookus but when you consider the alternative you find that maybe all that complaining is not the way to go.

Instead, how about ?..... get up off your butt and do something about it! Eat better. Get more sleep and exercise. Love your loved ones out loud. Do some crazy things that don't endanger yourself. Don't give me some kind of jazz about not having enough time. Hey,  it's your choice, always, but really. There's time. There's always time if you just look a little bit. There will be the day when you have no choice and all of you know exactly what I mean by that.

So take this as permission from me to do whatever it is that you've been putting off. And don't regret growing older. Like Mark Twain said, "somebody's got to do it."

Monday, June 8, 2015


Those are olive tree groves in the distance. Irrigated, of course.
We are having a stretch of the most abominable weather. It's 104 degrees on the temperature gauge out back and it's 8:00 p.m. The temperature forecast for the next 10 days:


Humidity is around 26%. A few of those days have 13 mph winds. So hot AND windy.

I envision the well water level going down down down. The one 86 degree day has a 20% chance of rain. That's it. Maybe we'll get a gift from Hurricane Blanca

I'll be shuttling ice cubes to the chicken pen on a daily basis. I put ice cubes in their water and leave frozen water containers for them to rest on. Little chickies with their wings out spread and beaks open to dissipate heat as best they can.

We, ourselves, are prisoners of the heat huddled next to the A/C during the day.


Can you think of an emoticon with sweat coming off it's forehead?

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Hot Summer Days and Magazines

Today started out hot. At 8:30 am it was already 80 degrees. It's only going to get hotter as the day goes on. I'm sitting here in front of the fan and the computer with my ice coffee  thinking about the days when we didn't have any air conditioning and what we did to escape the heat and humidity. That was back in Iowa when I was a kid. I don't know how my farming uncles and cousins did it when they didn't have air conditioned tractor cabs. I just remember them coming in from the fields and taking off their baseball caps and their foreheads were absolutely white and their faces were absolutely brown. They had righteous famer tans and they weren't ashamed or embarrassed. My aunt and gramma had pitchers of ice tea or lemonade for them to drink. We got by somehow. They were the healthiest people. Never sick a day in their lives.

When it got too hot and humid for us kids to play outside and we weren't going to the pool we went downstairs to the basement. The basement was the coolest place in the house. It was a partially finished basement with the concrete blocks sealed to keep moisture from coming in. Down there my mom had all the Life magazines that had ever been published from the time it started. I think my artistic eye was developed looking at all those magazines for all those years. I had so many years to look at them and many summer days. When I finally became a graphic designer years later I had absorbed the pictorial layout of Life's style in to my bones.

So dramatic.

My mom also had a few copies of Wallaces' Farmer.

Wallaces' Farmer started out as Prairie Farmer in 1841.  It became Wallaces' Farmer in 1855. Wallaces' Farmer kept a record of the changes in Iowa agriculture and provided information to help farmers trim costs and boost profits. I guess my mom must have come across the copies that I then studied in our basement when it was too hot outside. We lived in Iowa. Iowa farming was the subject matter of the periodicals. Three generations of the Wallace family; Henry Cantwell Wallace, Henry A. Wallace, and Henry Browne Wallace, owned and operated Wallaces' Farmer. That's why it was "Wallaces' " with the plural apostrophe, I guess. There were many Wallaces involved. Not just one.

That got me interested in looking into the history of the publication I write for. Capper's Farmer was started by Arthur Capper who was born in Garnett, Kansas.

Look at those happy kids awaiting their meal. Was life simpler then?  Everyone seems to think so but I doubt it. Just a different set of issues. Issues are part and parcel to the human experience and we can think about it which makes them all that more interesting.

Arthur Capper attended the public schools and learned the art of printing. He then became a newspaper publisher, eventually owning several newspapers and two radio stations. Capper was particularly interested in issues relating to agriculture. Eventually he became governor of Kansas and also served as a United States Senator. After retiring from the Senate, Capper returned to his home in Topeka, Kansas where he continued the newspaper publishing business until his death. Now his publications are part of Ogden Publications which are based in Topeka.


I remember the first day we finally got air conditioning. My dad worked for Lennox Heating and Air Conditioning at the headquarters in Marshalltown, Iowa. We got a large central unit A/C and our house windows were closed when they turned it on. The formerly stifling house cooled. Before that it was almost impossible to sleep some nights. My mom would put a fan in the hallway and turn it on full blast as some nights there wasn't even a faint breeze coming in to the house. 

But the air conditioning made my mom sad. She always said one of the greatest pleasures in life was the breeze blowing the curtains in the open windows. I still think of my mom and always have my windows open as long as I can stand it. Magazines and hot summer days are connected for me. Just think of how that little statement my mom made stayed with me and has contributed to the person I am today. For better or for worse.