Roll credits

Well, Happy Father’s Day to those among you.

An odd thought has developed this afternoon as I have sat reading in spare moments. I will discuss the book with one of you but that will happen as girls giggle. The thought for now is from the views on leadership. Sounds a lot like one of my maxims throughout the years. Putting it here because it applies to parenting, marriage and other exchanges of power much as it does business.

“Anything that fails is my fault, any success is theirs.”

It doesn’t mean you ignore failure. It does not mean that it is not reviewed. It means that you are the leader, it happened under your command and YOU own it. It means that the success enjoyed is, at best, seen as a result of emulation and a trickle down effect. They need to know that you value, respect and see their efforts.

Always remember that the weak beat their chest in a vain effort to build muscle.

Carry on.

 

 

 

 

 

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Good, oh so good

Have something good to write about for a change. Well, as good as any advice that is delivered in my tone and tenor can be. Actually another confession is in order and it’s that this is something that will cost you effort and money. Seems fair enough to me. I henpeck here for awhile, you read it and then we’re even at that point. Later you expend more of your time with a dash of your money thrown in. BUT, you get the smile and the product. There even a bonus in that you’ll get exercise as you fight for the leftovers. Ok, time to ramble around and explain the history/importance of this endeavor.

Looked on ye olde ‘puter for something I liked and could link to. Bah humbug…. I lived what I lived and I know what I know. One thing I know is that the glorious writing and staged pictures posted by “real Southern cooks” were about as authentic as a three dollar bill. Fitting enough because their advice was as useful as that mythical note. Bah humbug…., fine, I’ll just write the whole thing out so you understand what to do, how to do it and why.

Feel free to second guess here but I doubt that a couple of generations of folks who ate what they grew or starved messed up. Think about this from a very literal standpoint. If you could only eat things found on your property, how long would it take to determine what was best and would you forget it? Unfortunately there was a disconnect for about 60 years and several generations lost the knowledge. It suddenly wasn’t a matter of survival anymore. A few got lucky, learning these things for one reason or another. I got lucky and sometimes the mood strikes and so I beleaguere you with it. You know, like now!

Remember my commentary about the importance of apples? Ever pondered the scarcity of settlements in the upper Midwest until well into the  1800’s? Two big factors were at play. It was MUCH colder and it was hard to get apples there. Overcoming the first one was doable but tough. A solution for the second proved more problematic. The government had lots of land that they wanted to give away but no one wanted to live somewhere without apples. The arrival of rail lines for distribution was a big step forward but it was a stopgap at best. Then someone, somewhere in the bowels of the precursor to the USDA had an ingenious idea.

They looked to other countries with similar regions that were well populated. Population = apples! Sort of narrows it down doesn’t it? Sure enough there was an answer in Russia. They brought over a couple of varieties and, within a decade, development was afoot. These all proved good apples in one way way or another but one is on my mind today. This pale, mushy, tart apple that has the shelf life of a fruit fly is properly known as the Yellow Transparent. It quickly migrated to the South where it became revered as the June Apple.

Let’s take a break for a second to clear up the confusion BEFORE you set out. Yellow Transparent is the proper name and June apple is what it goes by in the South. My experience has shown that few fruit stands (and such) really have a deep knowledge of their field and hence the confusion even amongst so many self-professed experts. (Does the person serving you ice cream really understand dairy farms?) There are several apples with June in their proper name and more still given the nickname “June apple” by an individual or business. There is also a apple named Lodi that is very similar in ripening and appearance. The Lodi and the June Apple are different beast entirely as anyone having dealt with both knows. (I have seen them labeled/sold wrong and I have been told that they are one and the same. Grrrr….) For this to work, you need to remember this important difference.

Each apple has it’s areas of excellence. Some do well in numerous areas and others really only shine in one. June apples aren’t pretty. They don’t keep well. They are neither crispy or juicy. Heck, you have to really enjoy a soft, mealy, tart apple to even like them. It’s a wonder anyone ever even ate a second one. The “keep it or cut it down” debate ended the day someone first fried them! They most definitely do excel in this arena. They come in around the last ten days of June and are in shops from around 25 June to about 10 July.

Like so many other memories, memories of this apple are vivid. (Matter of fact it was the first tree I planted on my property if that tells you anything.) Come late June ladies all around had family lugging buckets of apples in and taking buckets of scraps to the hogs. The apples were fried, set to cool and canned or frozen. It was a big deal because of the narrow window of opportunity.

Here’s part of how I know that those real “Southern” cooks lack experience. They all (that I saw) had it wrong. They offered up the modern mutation that restaurants created to save money once refrigeration rolled around. June apples need no added flavor, they are proof God loves us as is. For such a meager apple to taste so good fried is nothing short of a miracle. Here, I’ll even give you my tip-top secret recipe.

“Cut it, heat it, eat it.”

I’ll wait while you write it down.

Now, I’ll be serious. Slice them up, relatively thin works better but experiment. Cook in a hot skillet or pan until they’ve mostly broken down. (Cooking them in the hot bacon grease as you started breakfast was done for a short time each year and oh my….!) Well, you’re done. If you added anything, you messed up that batch so put them in the slop bucket once cool. (Hate to scald perfectly good hogs.) Dump them in the cooling pan and start the next batch. Once that pan is full, start another. When the second pan is full then you take a break and bag the first. Spread the bags then freeze’em once they’ve cooled.

Now for the eating part. (BTW, this is my favorite part!)

– Well, thaw and serve but anyone could share that trick so…

– Thaw in fridge then eat on hot butter toast.

– Fill a bowl about a third full and microwave till warm. Fill rest of bowl with good vanilla ice cream.

– MOSTLY thaw in fridge. Take your somewhat frozen treat out on the porch and enjoy as you watch a summer sunset on a long, hot day of work.

Oh yeah, the leftovers, almost forgot that. The juice in the bag is the best part. Assure everyone you’ll clean up. Once the TV magnet gets them, lay the bag on the counter and run the juice to one corner with a straight edge. Snip off the corner and suck out the juice. I know you are rolling your eyes but I’m salivating at the thought as I type this and I know what it taste like so….. Don’t worry, you’ll volunteer to clean up next time too!

Someone remind me and I’ll post apple pictures. This way you can call around in search of them and know what to look for. Be a shame to cook up Lodi’s or Red June’s and expect a delicious treat. Might consider a day in the kitchen so you can enjoy the taste periodically until next June.

Questions?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One bad apple…

There was an exchange yesterday that led to the bulb lighting up over my brain cell today. Seeing as I might well become scarce for awhile after today I figured I would share. Besides, I have already gotten my first apples for the year! These particular apples have their own use that is quite special indeed. This leaves me in a good mood with apples on my mind. I like the latter and everyone respects the former so let’s celebrate by mixing science, history and language. (See, I do know how to party.)

I referred to someone as a “bad apple” yesterday. Most have heard someone referred to as a “bad apple” and know that “it only takes one bad apple to ruin the bunch” but they have no real clue of the origin. Doubt they even think about it or care. Pity as they miss out on the full context of what is being implied.  Seeing as I know this is all incredibly fascinating and you are simply dying to know, I’ll share. Your life will then feel complete right?

We have forgotten how important apples were before the advent of refrigeration. They were the source of about a third of the caloric intake of most people. Seeing as they didn’t have a fridge, freezer or grocery store in a modern sense, knowing the fruit, it’s uses and how to keep it had a huge impact on their lives. The difference between doing it well and being hungry or sick (drinking water due to a lack of cider) was noticeable in their world. Things/people interfering with the supply were isolated if at all possible.

Before the “Breadbasket of the World” moniker, we were the apple basket. By the early 1800’s shiploads of apples were one of the most important things entering European ports. The climate at that time allowed for an abundance of a bundles to flow out of the mountains and foothills from Virginia, Pennsylvania and New York. These apples were sought after throughout the states and Europe. One, the Albemarle Pippin, was declared a special favorite by the Queen and excused from duty. Needless to say, that didn’t hurt it’s reputation. Bear in mind the size of the British Empire at that point as I say that those who could grow it did!

Those Pippins were grown along with thousands of other varieties. Once ripe they would be picked, sorted and packed. Based on their grade they might have been consumed locally, sent to cities or (for long keeping varietals) sent overseas by brokers. They made their trips in wooden barrels. A layer of straw lined the bottom then layers of straw and apples filled the barrel. The straw and wood acting to protect the apples while controlling both heat and humidity. Remember that this was a long, rough journey measured in months so intial quality determined an outsized degree of the outcome.

Then, as now, there were unscrupulous individuals willing to muck up the system for personal gain. Then, as now, they weren’t trusted. Back then there were better ways of the community isolating this type of behavior. They could pull the trick a few times but they could count on being caught. Their trick was simple really. They mixed in bad apples in the bottom of the barrels and covered them with good ones. Like most fruit, a bruised or damaged apple emits Ethylene gas. This gas then accelerates the decay (by a significant margin) of the fruit around it.

At destination, the buyer would open the barrel to inspect his bounty. The top layer would be of marginal quality and each successive layer was further decayed. The surrounding barrels would also show signs of rot to a lesser extent. “All it takes is one bad apple.” Word would go back through the supply chain quickly. The scoundrel has his money but he had hurt everyone in his area. Mistakes do happen but, should it happen again, he would become referred to as being  a “bad apple”. The others? They were have said to have “made the grade”!

Maybe next time we can discuss why the history of the New World was empty for 150 years. Ever find that odd? Ties into a certain apple that’s coming in. For now, hope you feel this use of your time “made the grade”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Other side of the fence

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Cut my grass and cleaned the mower so now I’m sitting here. Why? Simple, it’s pretty out and the most comfortable seat I own is bolted to the mower. Makes for a good, mobile, place to watch a sunset. Looking across a well cut lawn at a beautiful view is a horrible way to spend an afternoon but someone’s got to do it right? Folks will comment on my yard but the area has better.

A friend of mine does site work and turf maintenance. His house is hidden but it’s worth a look. Most everything he does is. He is good at the voodoo he do. It’s an art and he has mastered it. One look at the layout and lush beauty confirms it. Everything is graded properly and fits the surroundings. Small things that matter got attention.  You really have to feel pity for those living around him. The grass is greener on the other side of the fence, much greener.

His equipment is well used but well cared for. All maintenance is done regularly and it’s sized for the job. He runs it the way he wants others to run it. He respects his crew and they repay his trust with easy hands. That crew is notable. In a field where most quit after a month or so all of his guys have been with him for years. He (effectively) has zero turnover! Hmm…, could it be how they are treated?

I reckon that I could say more but the fact is that I doubt most of you find a discussion of site work (and those who do it) of much interest. I could talk about how loved and cared for his wife is I suppose. I could mention her countenance. We could go over the care she receives every day. But how would I ever work that into a post on leadership in the field of site work and pretty yards?

 

 

 

Exceptions

As we have all heard, there are exceptions to every rule. This includes the rules that we aim to live our lives by. We set these ourselves and yet, on occasion, we bend them.

One of my standards is that I always try to carry myself as a gentleman. This means avoiding some actions that some guys might have no problem with. Long ago I told a lady to let go of her fears. “If I look over as I’m driving then there’s either a nice car or a dog to be seen. Those I do stare at.” I think I uphold this promise quite well. Well, until a day like today.

A nice lady in a beautiful car with a sweet dog. Doesn’t hurt to look I suppose. To be fair, rubbed the dog and stared at the car. See, another exceptional day.

 

 

 

Fair warning

Probably only fair to warn you, well, remind you, that I’m honest not nice. My thoughts for the day were jarred earlier. Actually had something all sickeningly sweet on my mind as a post if time allowed today. (WP is always toying with things not broken. Why not a button to publish the thoughts on your mind and save us an hour of typing?) Well that missive was pushed aside when someone pushed my blood pressure button. A step back might help.

I grew up with a collective of very well fed folks on one branch of my family tree. Decent folks but none of them had arms long enough to push away from a table by the looks of it. An aunt ended up in the hospital because of it. The others took turns “accidentally” looking at her charts as she slept. They were green with envy that she only weighted two something yet she appeared as big as them. Didn’t have the heart to point out that it was in kilos so they needed to multiply by 2.2. Doing so would have highlighted obesity and ignorance so…

She made it home with stern admonitions on the importance of diet, exercise and weight loss. Let’s say she ate her way past that advice. She had a nice funeral however and looked really natural. Matter of fact, each one that passed from obesity related causes looked fairly good. In each case the family rallied and fixed a fine spread with the departed’s favorites. Nice folks, slow learners.

Now, if you haven’t heard, my fine land has developed quite a sizeable obesity problem in recent decades. We could face it or we could just “feel fine being you”. We could ignore the fact that obesity related issues are our biggest pending expense. We could ignore that Wall-E was a good flick and a good look forward. We could listen to the twits who go on about “positive body image” and overlook the fact that they are destroying their bodies and find it easier to recruit others to their largess than lose weight.

Our bodies are a wonderful gift. They are a simply marvelous, ingenious bit of design. Like most designs they have some flexibility and definite limits. The motor/transmission in my truck weigh in around 1,500 pounds. Swap them into a sports car that originally had a 500 pound motor/transmission and mechanical failure will ensue. (But you would, briefly, have a blast!) Same thing happens when a 5’3″ lady with a frame designed for 110-140 pounds clocks in at north of 400.

Haven’t gotten to today yet have we?

Someone I know and love wanted to talk about all the problems of their child and grandchild. Bad knees, bad backs, diabetes and on and on. I do care and I’m willing to listen. There isn’t much I can do though. They both scale in at 3x their design limit. Every suggestion that they lose oh say, two humans each, is met with assurance that they feel fine and the weight isn’t the issue. Nope, sure it isn’t. That would be like trying to prove it’s dark because of the sunset.

This isn’t my usual soapbox talk is it? Well, it’s your knees, your back and your body. Feel free to do with it as you wish. Remember that you only get to do this once and you only get one sports car to do it in. The decisions are yours to make so choose wisely.

While you ponder, look around you in the world. Never hurts to learn from those who go before you. Notice any obese seniors who seem happy with their myriad limitations? Think about it but be careful lest you end up weighed down.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rising

Were the path of some days known beforehand one might slow down while lacing up the boots. Today was such a day I suppose.

(Well, my writing doesn’t usually get delayed into another day but the thoughts returned today so I’ll just finish yesterday’s post!)

Started with a bit of roadwork doing what needed be done. Had a couple of calls as I went and each seemed to attempt to be more depressing than the last. My stops were with good people and there was good conversation. Soon there was only a couple of stops left and I couldn’t decide if I should focus on them or my earlier calls. Those two stops were to advise and visit with triple digit midgets.

That last bit is slang from a prior life and it means you have less than a tho days left, your time is limited. Oddly, it wasn’t typically used until you were under a hundred days but that is off the topic at hand so….. One midget is in the final stages of dementia and the other has assorted issues and is simply giving back. Their company was enjoyed but the experience magnified the thoughts of earlier.

Headed home to more work I thought some more then, home, I got out and worked some more. By the time I finished up there had been a lot of thoughts on the folly of force. For better or worse, we are all dying the day we are born. I had spent the day watching folks “cope”. Each one had a way to cheat death in mind. Each had let the foolhardy way of our modern thinking ensnare them and each was suffering for it. A bit too much pain convinced me to head for the shower and rest for today.

It was a cool day yesterday. That hot water felt good but it made each mass of scar tissue sing and all those broken bones suddenly feel twice as big. Standing there, adjusting to the temperature change, I watched the steam rising. Couldn’t help but be surprised (again) that I made it this far. The problem is that I have made it far enough that very, very few are left who remember that other, wiser way. Beneath that limit the “me” is rising. That false sense of security will see a populace that will, one at a time, fall off their own cliff. Like those from my day, they will have no options left as they watch the ground rising.