Monday, July 25, 2011

The Colonel's Kernels

It was corn harvesting time here at the shallow northern end of deep southern nowhere last week, and the Colonel beat the critters to the kernels.

Back during June, the temperature climbed into the middle miseries, the clouds departed hereover, and nary a drop of rain fell for four weeks.  An acre of corn, beans, and cantaloupes planted by hand the middle of May began to wither in the wicked hot weather.  The Colonel carried buckets of water every evening down to the garden plot in the back forty, and lovingly ladled liquid on each and every stalk and vine. 

The corn survived. 

The cantaloupes thrived. 

The Colonel began to worry about four-legged veggie vandals and fruit thieves.

A scare-crow and a two-wire electric fence around the garden served to ease the Colonel's worries a bit.  Several fruitful late afternoon anti-critter patrols served to reduce the critter population substantially and put the remaining bandits on notice.  The best defense, after all, is a strong offense.  

Last week, the Colonel checked on the progress of his corn and decided it was time to harvest.  He pulled ears for a couple of hours and filled up the bed of his rusty red pick-up, Semper Fillit, with, well, shucks, a whole load of corn.

More corn than he'd ever grown.

More corn than he'd ever shucked.

More corn than he knew what to do with.

The comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda took one look at the Colonel sitting on the tailgate backed by a mountain of corn, and remarked with obvious pride at her man's produce prowess, "What in the world are you gonna do with all that corn?"

The Colonel grinned like a mule eatin' briars and replied, "Not my problem.  I grow it.  You process it."

The comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda thereby clouded up and commenced to rain all over the Colonel's harvest victory parade.  The Colonel hates it when that happens. 

After the corn had been shucked and cleaned, it became obvious that the mountains of corn on the cob and buckets of corn off the cob far exceeded the storage capacity extant in the one freezer in the Big House.  There are now two freezers in the Big House, and the economy has been sufficiently stimulated.

All told, the Colonel figures he brought in a corn crop valued at approximately $3.75 a cob, given the Colonel's valuable time and effort expended and the economic stimulus applied toward appliances.   

Monday, July 11, 2011

Berry Nice

One of the most abundant and valuable natural resources aboard Eegeebeegee--the Colonel's vast holdings here at the shallow northern end of deep southern nowhere; and capital of the Tallahatchie Free State--is a berry.  Blackberries.  Rubus fruticosus.  The soil here in this forgotten corner of Dixie--viscous, boot-sucking mud when wet, and shovel-dulling Confederate Concrete when dry--grows little well but loblolly pine trees and blackberries

Due to the Colonel's careful cultivation, blackberry brambles thrive throughout his heavily guarded territory and dominate the edges of most of the fields.  To the untrained eye of the casual observer, the Colonel's careful cultivation might seem more like benign neglect.  Some brambles might even seem to encroach willy-nilly upon the otherwise clear fields and glades of the Colonel's campus.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  There is sheer brilliance in the apparent madness of neglect.

"Brilliance" hard to accept on the part of the Colonel? 

Those among the two dozen of you regular post-perusing wasters of valuable rod and cone time who are displaying disdain at the thought of the Colonel demonstrating brilliance in any endeavor have obviously never tasted a hot, buttered biscuit, slavered with a generous helping of the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda's homemade blackberry jam.  The Colonel has tasted upwards of two million hot, buttered biscuits, slavered with a generous helping of the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda's homemade blackberry jam, and is, therefore, the self-proclaimed, world-class expert on the topic of the most delicious food on the planet.   

The Colonel sticks to his self-assessment of brilliance.

Want further proof of the Colonel's brilliance?

While he is inside in the air-conditioned cool on this sweltering summer day, the Colonel's fair lady is out in the heat picking blackberries.  

Better go turn the A/C up a notch--it's gonna get hot in the kitchen when Miss Brenda comes in and starts cookin' jam...   

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

China Doll

The Colonel's baby girl began her 30th air-breathing lap 'round ol' Sol yesterday, even though her birth certificate says her 29th birthday is today--the 5th of July.

Sugar Bear, as she is known to none but the Colonel, joined the Gregory Clan in November of 1986.  Born in Hong Kong, she lived in an orphanage there until she was nearly four and one-half years old.  At her birth, none but God knew that she would be the capstone to the family created by the Colonel and the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda 35 years ago this month.

When the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda began giving birth to the Colonel's children, two robust man-children -- call signs: Hero and Juice (grist for another post) -- appeared on the scene in such rapid succession (less than sixteen months separation) that the Colonel and his Lady suspected that further procreation would lead inevitably to a house full of boys. 

The Colonel was okay with that.  Miss Brenda?  Not so much.

Snip. Snip.

The Colonel realizes that the Mississippi State and LSU grads among the two dozen of you who regularly waste valuable rod and cone time perusing posts hereon are scratching hat racks and doing the hound-dog head-tilt at his point.  The Colonel could have used the medical term for the procedure but the State and LSU grads would end up making futile trips to their respective schools' libraries to look up the word (it is the Colonel's understanding that all of the books held therein have already been colored in).

The Colonel shoots blanks.

The Colonel and his Lady still wanted a baby girl.

"No problem," the Colonel and the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda thought.  "We'll adopt."

Problem.  Counter-intuitive, incomprehensible problem.

Finding an American-born baby eligible for adoption is so much more difficult than one would think.  And, if a couple already has children, that couple goes to the back of the line. 

The Colonel will refrain from leaping into his Pro-Life sermon at this point, but will leave you with this firmly held belief:  The vast majority of babies killed by abortionists would easily find love-filled adoptive homes.  Don't believe the Colonel?  Try to find an orphanage with babies in these re-United States.  The Colonel will wait while you search...

Since the Colonel has long since surpassed his own attention span on the topic, he will allow you to continue that futile search on your own and get back to him.

But, back to the Colonel's baby girl.

When the Colonel and his Lady shared with friends their frustrations regarding adoption, those friends recommended foreign adoption.  Long story, short; the little girl God wanted to be a Gregory was found in an orphanage in Hong Kong waiting patiently for the Colonel and the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda to get their act together.  

In November of 1986, the extent of Sugar Bear's grasp of the English language was counting to ten and a rapid-fire recitation of the alphabet, which far outstripped the extent of the Colonel's grasp on Mandarin.

A Mandarin/English phrase book facilitated a smattering of communication for the first couple of months.  Then, as if a switch had been flipped, Sugar Bear no longer understood her native tongue. 

Well, she no longer understood the Colonel's pronunciation of her native tongue.  

At any rate, January of 1987 was a very frustrating month on the communication front.  Stalemate.  Battle lines drawn.  Tons of tears.

Then, as if another switch had flipped, Sugar Bear began speaking English, daily gaining vocabulary and sentence structure at an exponential rate.  By the time she started kindergarten, her vocabulary far exceeded that of the average Mississippi State or LSU grad.  When she learned to read, she read everything.  Twice.  

The Colonel's baby girl is a month away from earning certification as a surgical technician, and has a job at the local hospital waiting.  The Colonel has taken to memorizing medical dictionaries to maintain his tenuous position atop the family vocabulary pole.  He is also not just a little proud of his Sugar Bear.

The birthday thing?  

Well, Sugar Bear once remarked that she wished she had been born on the birth date of her adoptive country--the Fourth of July.  The Colonel told her she had been.

"No, Daddio Pistachio," she responded, rolling eyes and sighing heavily in weariness at her Daddy's lack of calendar acuity.  "I was born on July 5th."

To which the Colonel launched into a two-hour lecture on planetary physics, geography, and international customary agreements, culminating in a description of the International Dateline and man's attempt to bring order to the longitudinal chaos of solar time-keeping on a rotating planet.  

"...and, so, Sugar Bear, when it's the 5th of July in Hong Kong, it is the 4th of July here in the Western Hemisphere."

The conclusion of the Colonel's lecture, delivered two and one-half decibels higher than a parade ground command of execution, had the desired effect of waking the Colonel's favorite daughter from her sermon-survival slumber, and she blinked in comprehension.


Sugar Bear celebrates her birthday on the fifth of July every year, but the Colonel doesn't let her forget that she was really born on Independence Day.