Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Book bomb

(See "update" at bottom)

I got a wonderful review for The Simplicity Primer from the folks over at SurvivalBlog, and they have also been nice enough to ask their own readership to participate in an interesting marketing idea on my behalf: a Book Bomb.

At first it sounded ominous – my book, bombing? – but apparently the idea goes something like this: Everybody buys the book on the same day. This ratchets the Amazon (and other) ratings up really high. Consequently this makes it more likely that anyone searching for the "tags" attached to my book on Amazon (such as homeschooling, country living, simple living, etc.) will see my book higher up on the list of possible purchase choices.

So I figure, why not? Therefore I'm asking those of you who are considering buying my book (but haven't as of yet) to hold off until the actual June 7th release date. (For those who have already pre-ordered: A huge and hearty thank you!)

And since I'm asking favors, I suppose I might as well go all out and ask those of you with blogs to do me the additional favor of mentioning my Book Bomb date on your blog. I'm kind of embarrassed to ask all of this from everyone, but I guess I have to do everything I can to make The Simplicity Primer a success. WorldNetDaily has taken a risk investing in me, so I want to make this worth their while.

Besides, my husband may never have another chance to fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming (cough) a "kept" man.

UPDATE: Thank you to those who have already posted a link on their blogs. By all means let me know when you've linked (and send me the URL) so I can put up a post listing the links -- in other words, cross-linking. I'm always in favor of generating cross-traffic between blogs!

Berry beds and buying antiques

One of the stalled projects we wanted to complete last year but didn't have a chance to finish was fruit beds. We needed a dedicated place to put strawberries, raspberries, and blueberries.

So last year (before the tractor died) we managed to heave the beams for the beds into their rough places. Last week we nudged the beams into their correct spots. Yesterday we completed the boxes. Whoo-hoo, progress!

We hauled some long boards into the garden.

Don cut them into four-foot lengths.

Some of the beams had rotten ends, so he trimmed them.

We squared up the beams evenly, then he hammered the end caps in place.

Now we have four nice squared (well, rectangle-d) beds, ready for hardware cloth and topsoil.

The next step will be to lay several layers of newspapers on the ground in the beds (to keep the prairie grasses from coming up) and overlay that with hardware cloth, of which we bought several hundred feet. We have a problem with moles and voles in this area, so hardware cloth will discourage the little critters from munching our plants from underneath.

Yesterday we also took a short excursion to buy some antiques. There's a junk / slash / antique cooperative just outside of town that sells an amazingly varied jumble of things for amazingly cheap prices. For some time now we've been coveting such things as extra scythes and other garden implements. They've been closed all winter and opened up for the first time yesterday. So we all piled in the car and took a trip. It's located in a converted old farmhouse with several outbuildings as well as many things just jumbled and scattered outside.

Here, for example, is one of the outbuildings. It's a treasure-trove around this place -- you never know what you'll find.

We ended up purchasing three scythes, an extra snath (scythe handle), several garden tools (rakes, shovels, etc.), and some miscellaneous kitchen items such as cast iron pots and pans, some grinders, etc.

It was kind of funny -- the sellers didn't expect us to actually use any of the things we bought -- they thought we were just planning on (cough) hanging them on the wall for decoration. Wrong! How else are we going to harvest the wheat field except with scythes?

Monday, May 30, 2011

Random pix

Remember when I reported that a regional grocery chain, Rosauers, was now carrying emergency food? Well, I was in Winco, another large store, and noticed it's now carrying the same line:

Then a couple days ago, I went to Walmart and saw the same thing. I'm so tickled to see this!

A shot of a robin on a fence post. Unfortunately it turned its head at the last second.

The livestock of three separate neighbors meet at the fences to say hello.

This is the last time Thor will lay down in the garlic boat. Don finished the garden fence (against cows, but not deer) today. Whoo-hoo! Now I can plant in safety.

Incoming thunderstorm. It wasn't terribly impressive...

...but for twenty minutes or so it poured.

A couple of swallows silhouetted on the garden fence.

Don built a light-weight PVC-and-chicken-wire fence for the garden, wide enough to drive the tractor through. In this case, the gate doesn't have to be sturdy; it just needs to serve as a deterrent.

Here the gate is up temporarily. The post on the left will be replaced with a railroad tie, and there will be a board and an additional bit of field fence stretched across the top to keep deer from jumping over.

Younger Daughter waits for stock tank to fill (it's one of her evening chores).

The grass is always greener

We all know the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. In our case, however, it is literally true. The cows with calves who have been in the driveway area for the past few months had eaten down everything they could. We were still supplementing with hay. But the pasture hadn't grown enough to let animals graze on it.

Finally, last week we determined that the pasture had enough grass to let the cows into it. Friday was the Big Day. I led Matilda into the pasture and the others eagerly followed. Oh joy! They weren't two steps in before they were tearing off great delicious mouthfuls of fresh grass.

Little Victoria had never seen anything so lush!

Cows can be so pleasant at times. It takes so little to make them happy.

Here they are, way at the bottom of the field. Sure wish the grass stayed this green all summer!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Forever Young

This is a piece my husband wrote about his uncle, a man he never met but who will be forever young –- and remembered.

Too many people have no idea what Memorial Day really is. It's become a day for barbecues, for beer, for picnics, for an extra day off work.

But that wasn't the original intent. Memorial Day was meant to remember those who died preserving our freedom. Below is a tribute to one man who did. This is also for all the others who paid the ultimate price for our liberties. Can we remember? Or will we now let those freedoms wither in our brave new world?

I don't know how he died, really. No one does, since everyone who was with him died at more or less the same time.

I'll bet he was afraid. I would have been.

It must have been hell on earth – above earth to be exact. A booming, banging, grinding, shaking, shattering horror. Especially it must have been tough on him, hanging as he was below the belly of a crippled plane, a bubble of glass exposed to the flak and the fire from enemy aircraft.

A tasty and too visible target.

Fire Over Ploesti
by Roy Grinnell

His B-24 Liberator was powerful, true. But it was also lightly armored and easily damaged in combat. When damaged, the B-24 often lost the electrical power needed to rotate its gun turrets, and the gunners would have to hand-crank their turrets around, trying to follow the enemy planes.

Too slow. Too slow.

He was probably the youngest man on board. He was certainly the lowest-ranking member of the 10 men who made up the crew. That first day of August in 1943, he'd only been in the Army Air Corps for a year and a half. He'd only been overseas for six months. He was 19 years old. He came from a farming family that lived in a very small town in Kansas. He had one sister, two brothers and two very worried parents.

He was assigned to 98BG, a bomber group stationed out of Benghazi, Libya. His mission that day? In coordination with 178 bombers and 1,700 crew members, the 98BG was to attack and destroy the oil refineries at Ploesti, Romania. These facilities provided the Third Reich with one-third of its fuel. And the Nazis were very hungry for fuel in the waning days of 1943.

The oil refineries at Ploesti were protected with massive anti-aircraft batteries and hundreds of German and Romanian fighter planes. The distance traveled by the Allied bombers meant that no fighter protection could attend them. They were alone.

It was a tremendous undertaking. A gamble of men and machines desperately needed for the war effort. A 2,400-mile, 18-hour trip there and back again with only a half-hour of available time over the target.

And in the end, for over 500 airmen and 52 bombers, there was no going home.

They say he's buried at a cemetery near Liege, Belgium. Maybe he is, maybe he isn't. The records show that his B-24 was shot down over the refinery, but that it happened before the crew could disgorge the plane's 8,000-pound payload of high explosives. And the B-24 Liberator was well-known for burning merrily when it crashed.

But I'm sure his name is on one of the white crosses standing in formation at the lovingly well-tended cemetery.

His parents back in Kansas received the medals that he was awarded posthumously at a ceremony, probably one of many such ceremonies on that same day. The medals were: a Distinguished Flying Cross, a Purple Heart and the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters.

Both his brothers eventually went to war as well. One went as another tail gunner, the other as a pilot. His younger sister stayed home, grieving for the older brother she would never see again on this side.

Eventually she married my father.

The parents, the brothers and the sister passed away some time ago. There is now no one that can tell me anything more about Donald Phillip Sowers – sergeant, United States Army Air Corps. The uncle I never knew and whose name I share.

Donald Philip Sowers never woke to the face of his bride on the day after his wedding. He never paced the floor late at night singing softly to an infant daughter who just couldn't sleep. He never got to hold his child's hand the last time she needed, or wanted, help to cross a street. He never felt the aches and pains of a long life, well lived.

And well loved.

But I will remember him and so will my children. If you've taken the time to read this, tip a glass in his name and remember him – and all the other lost brothers and sisters as well.

Think of the things he missed, for the things you have.

Donald Philip Sowers died fighting the greatest evil of our time. A young man of 19 who will never grow old.

Have a happy, safe, and thoughtful Memorial Day.

Customer service on Planet Zargon

A reader sent this. I don't know if it's a true story or not, but it makes for a good chuckle (and a good warning).

Be sure and cancel your credit cards before you die! This is so priceless, and so easy to see happening, customer service being what it is today.

A lady died this past January, and Citibank billed her for February and March for their annual service charges on her credit card, and added late fees and interest on the monthly charge. The balance had been $0.00 when she died, but now somewhere around $60.00. A family member placed a call to Citibank. Here is the exchange:

Family Member: 'I am calling to tell you she died back in January.'
Citibank: 'The account was never closed and the late fees and charges still apply.'
Family Member: 'Maybe you should turn it over to collections.'
Citibank: 'Since it is two months past due, it already has been.'
Family Member: 'So, what will they do when they find out she is dead?'
Citibank: 'Either report her account to frauds division or report her to the credit bureau, maybe both!'
Family Member: 'Do you think God will be mad at her?'
Citibank: 'Excuse me?'
Family Member: 'Did you just get what I was telling you - the part about her being dead?'
Citibank: 'Sir, you'll have to speak to my supervisor.'

Supervisor gets on the phone:
Family Member: 'I'm calling to tell you, she died back in January with a $0 balance.'
Citibank: 'The account was never closed and late fees and charges still apply.'
Family Member: 'You mean you want to collect from her estate?'
Citibank (stammer): 'Are you her lawyer?'
Family Member: 'No, I'm her great nephew.' (Lawyer info was given)
Citibank: 'Could you fax us a certificate of death?'
Family Member: 'Sure.' (Fax number was given)

After they get the fax:
Citibank: 'Our system just isn't set up for death. I don't know what more I can do to help.'
Family Member: 'Well, if you figure it out, great! If not, you could just keep billing her. She won't care.'
Citibank: 'Well, the late fees and charges will still apply.'
(What is wrong with these people?!?)
Family Member: 'Would you like her new billing address?'
Citibank: 'That might help....'
Family Member: 'Odessa Memorial Cemetery, Highway 129, Plot Number 69.'
Citibank: 'Sir, that's a cemetery!'
Family Member: 'And what do you do with dead people on your planet???'

And you wondered why Citibank needed help from the Feds?

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Loathsome people

Do loathsome people deserve prayer?

Some of you may have heard of a man named Larry Flynt, publisher of the porn magazine Hustler. He was shot and paralyzed from the waist down in 1978 during a court battle on obscenity. He has spent much of his life well beyond the boundaries of taste and decency.

In conformance with his lack of scruples, during a recent interview Flynt said the following about Sarah Palin's refusal to abort her son Trig, who has Down Syndrome:

"She did a disservice to every woman in America. She knew from the first month of pregnancy that kid was going to be Down's Syndrome. It's brain dead. A virtual vegetable. She carries it to all these different political events against abortion; she did it just because she didn't want to say she'd had an abortion."

Beyond the obvious hypocrisy of spewing filth about a handicapped child when he himself is handicapped, there is no possible defense against his loathsome words.

I don't know if he actually believes what he said about Trig -- remember, this is a person who will do anything for attention -- but there's enough evil in his heart that he just might.

Needless to say, the reaction to Flynt's interview has been strong. But after reading it, my husband took a different take.

"How sad," he noted. "Here's a man so separated from God -- by his own choice -- that he has no humanity left in him. He even produces a product, so to speak, that he can't take advantage of. He has sunk so low the only thing to do is pray for him."

I see his point, at least in theory. I just find it hard to pray for someone so loathsome... which just goes to show what a flawed Christian I am.  We are instructed to pray for our enemies, so I'll try to change my tact.

(Husband of the Boss addendum: I'm not so saintly as Patrice seems to be implying. My first thoughts on reading about Flynt's comments included a number of words I learned in the Navy that now appear in my vocabulary only when hitting a finger with a hammer -- and then only if it's a really good hit.

But really. Look at the source. How sad a "man" he is. How frightened he must be. See how many walls he has built to separate himself from the free gifts of God. He's lost so much, mostly due to his own actions. And he's refused (at least till now) the only thing that can return him, at the end, to the perfection that God desires for us all.

So I say, "Pray for Larry Flynt. Pray for Stephen Hawkings, the incredibly brilliant, yet equally handicapped physicist who just publicly denied God's existence. Pray for all the lonely, frightened, foolish people who spurn a free gift already paid for. These men and women are not perfect. Neither are we who know Jesus. But we know that for us death is only a beginning. For those others, nothing awaits but the abyss. And they do believe that.)


This Memorial Day weekend, let's not forget all the soldiers who are away from friends and family -- and let's never forget those who gave the ultimate sacrifice.

This photo essay from Life Magazine got me sniffing.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Random pix

A flock of low-flying Canadian geese flew overhead and landed in our neighbor's pasture.

But a few moments later, they took off again. Why?

Because in a burst of high spirits, their horses chased them off.

Tea with a new friend.

Incoming squall.

A flock of pelicans overhead.

The river through the nearby town is still near flood stage. Here it overran the bank of a park.

Still, it's not as high as it was a couple years ago. You can see the high(er) water mark on the tree trunks.

Matilda grooms Polly, whose head is drooping with pleasure.

Walking Lydia on a windy day.

Nice views.

Saw this fellow checking his cell phone outside a grocery store and couldn't resist the urge to sneak a pic.