Recalling Another Wild Wood Weed

by Curt Kovener

With bridge repair, roadwork, chip & seal all going on simultaneously in different locations, you are probably like me, driving on country roads you haven’t been on for a while as you circumnavigate the asphalt progress du jour.
In my meanderings to get to point B from point A, I have noticed the fallow fields, forest edges and ditches that the Queen Anne’s Lace are in full bloom and quite abundant.
For the wild wood weed challenged, Queen Anne’s Lace is wild carrot (though I have never tried tasting the underground portion of the plant) that produces a large circular bunch of tiny white blooms. And each floweret produces a seed which explains why there is so much Queen Anne’s Lace around fencerows, unmowed pastures and the woodland’s edges.
Pollinators such as bees and wasps love Queen Anne’s Lace which is why they should not be sprayed and left for food for insects and critters.
Seeing the wild weed, my memory pulled me back to my youth and staying with my Grandma on the farm near Dudleytown. She was the cook and domestic engineer of that big farmhouse on the hill.
She was always glad to see her favorite grandson (my other family members needn’t bother commenting) but keeping a pre-teen boy from getting bored and out of mischief on a farm sometimes was challenging for grandma.
So it must have been this time of year she sent me out to gather Queen Anne’s Lace.
Walking along the fencerows of the farm and wanting to please Grandma, I clipped on the best looking flower heads. It all took quite a bit of time and occupied this young boy…but maybe that was part of Grandma’s plan.
When I returned to the house she had me get several glass soft drink bottles. (I will refrain from naming the particular brand but if you can think of a four letter word for an illegal drug made from the Coca plant, those of you over sixty will have a pretty good idea of the size of the glass containers. Those, bottles, by the way, were made in Terre Haute, Indiana.)
Grandma had me fill them nearly full with water and into each bottle she put several drops of food coloring from her kitchen cabinet. She then had me stick the flowers into the red, blue, green and yellow colored water.
“What now, Grandma?” I asked.
“Now we wait until tomorrow,” I was told.
Telling a pre-teen boy that we had to wait is not something pre-teen boys like to hear. But not wanting to displease my Grandma, I did.
The next morning I was amazed to see the formerly white Queen Anne’s Lace in a variety of tints of pink, pale blue, light green and soft yellow.
At first Grandma said it was fairy magic but then explained some of the science behind what occurred as she arranged the now colorful flowers in a vase. Capillary action—the flower’s need for moisture— and time allowed the flowers to absorb the color of the water in its bottle, change the hue of the white flowers, and make for a pretty wild weed bouquet.
But I was too busy to pay much attention to her. I told her I was heading out to get some more of those Queen Anne’s Lace.
“Take a bucket with you and pick some blackberries. Bring me back enough and I’ll make you a cobbler for supper,” Grandma advised.
And so she kept her favorite grandson occupied for another day on the farm.

It’s AAADD & It’s Coming For You!

by Curt Kovener

(This is an encore column from the Curt Comments archives.)
It’s called Age Activated Attention Deficit Disorder. And here is how it affects you.
I recently decided to water the outdoor potted flowers. As I unreeled the hose, I look over at my mini SUV and decide it needs washing.
As I start toward the garage for a bucket & sponge, I noticed that there is mail on the porch table that I brought from the mail box earlier. I decide to go through the mail before I wash the car.
I lay my car keys on the table, put the junk mail in the trash can under the table and notice that the trash can is full.
So I put the bills back on the table and take out the trash. But then I think that I will be near the mailbox when I take out the trash, I may as well pay those bills first.
I take my checkbook out of the drawer and see that there is only one check left. The extra checks are in the secured fireproof safe so I go into the office to get them. When I do, I discover the can of soda pop I had been drinking.
I’m going to look for my checks but I need to push the soft drink aside so I don’t accidentally knock it over. I notice the soft drink is getting warm and decide to put it in the refrigerator.
When I head to the kitchen, a vase of flowers catches my eye—they are beginning to droop and need to be watered.
I set the soft drink on the counter, and discovered my reading glasses that I had been searching for all morning. I decide I better put them back on my desk, but first I’m going to water the flowers.
I set my glasses back down on the counter, start to fill the vase with water when I suddenly spot the TV remote. I must have left it on the kitchen table.
I realize tonight when we want to watch TV I will be looking for the remote but won’t remember that it is on the kitchen table so I decide to put it back in the living room where it belongs. But first I must water the flowers. I pour some water into the vase but some of it spills onto the floor.
So, I set the remote back down on the table, get some paper towels and wipe up the spill. Then I head down the hall trying to remember what I was planning to do.
At the end of the day, the car is not washed, the bills aren’t paid, there is a warm can of pop sitting on the counter, the flowers don’t have enough water, there is still only one check in my checkbook, I can’t find the TV remote, I can’t find my glasses, and I don’t remember what I did with my car keys.
Then, when I try to figure out why nothing got done today, I’m really baffled because I was busy all day long and I’m really tired.
Now I realize that this age related mentall condition is a serious matter and I’ll try to get some advice and maybe a prescription from my physician. I go to call my family doctor but can’t find his phone number. Which is okay because I can’t find my cellphone either.
Don’t laugh…if this isn’t you, brothers and sisters, your day is coming!

Would Congress Pay That Price Today?

by Curt Kovener

Our nation’s 242nd birthday is tomorrow: the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Other than a day off how many of you know the reason we celebrate the day of our independence.
It wasn’t as simple as 56 congressmen signing a document and we were a free country off to seek our destiny.
Those who fail to study history are doomed to repeat it so some background into those representatives of the 13 colonies who signed the Declaration of Independence should be shared.
Remember, there was a reason that the war for independence from England was called the Revolutionary War. It had its basis in a revolutionary document—a document that had the support of only a slim majority of the young nation’s residents.
What happened to those men who placed their signatures supporting the revolutionary document?
•Five signers were captured by the British charged as traitors and tortured before they died.
•A dozen had their homes ransacked and burned.
•Two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army, another had two sons captured.
•Nine of the 56 fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War.
They signed and they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their honor.
What kind of men were they?
Twenty-four were lawyers and jurists. Eleven were merchants, nine were farmers and plantation owners; men of means, well-educated. But they signed the Declaration knowing that the penalty would be death if they were captured.
Carter Braxton of Virginia, a wealthy planter and trader, saw his ship captured by the British Navy. He sold his home and properties to pay his debts, and died in rags.
Thomas McKeam was so hounded by the British that he was forced to move his family almost constantly. While he served in Congress his family was kept in hiding. His possessions were taken from him and poverty was his reward.
British soldiers looted the properties of signers Dillery, Hall, Clymer, Walton, Gwinnett, Heyward, Ruttledge, and Middleton.
At the battle of Yorktown, Thomas Nelson Jr. noted that the British General Cornwallis had taken over the Nelson home for his headquarters. He urged Gen. George Washington to open fire. The Nelson home was destroyed, and Nelson died bankrupt.
Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed, The British jailed his wife and she died within a few months.
John Hart was driven from his wife’s bedside while she was ill. Their 13 children fled for their lives. His fields and gristmill were laid to waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, returning home to fine his wife dead and his children vanished. A few weeks later he died of exhaustion.
Signers Norris and Livingston suffered similar fates.
These were not wild eyed, rabble-rousing ruffians. They were soft-spoken men of means and education. They had security, but valued liberty more. Standing tall and unwavering, they pledged “For the support of this declaration, with firm reliance on the protection of the divine providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.”
They gave you and me a free and independent early America, paid for by their lives and those of their families, and personal financial sacrifice.
That’s the other part of the story of what happened in the Revolutionary War that we don’t teach in school. The story what happened to most of those men who signed on to a vision of a free county—open to all—where each is permitted—as stated in that over 240-year-old document—unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

No Long Term Winning With Nature & Gravity

by Curt Kovener

In 1983 John Mellencamp charted ‘Authority Song’ that had the hook chorus “I fought authority, authority always wins.”
Earlier in 1965 you Baby Boomers will remember The Bobby Fuller Four recording a similar themed ‘I fought the law and the law won.”
It was a cover of the same song from 1960 by the Crickets. These are the same Crickets but without bass player Waylon Jennings who gave up his seat in 1959 on the plane that crashed killing Cricket lead singer Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and J.P. Richardson known as the Big Bopper—the Day the Music Died.
But this is not a column on musicology. It is a call for a remake of a similar themed song for 2019: “I battled Mother Nature and she kicked my butt.”
Depending on where you are in Jackson and Scott County, we found that Mother Nature always wins. You can stave her off for a little while with mowing, trimming, grading but when she sends over 8 inches of rain… well, she wins.
The flatland livers know well about flooding fields and roads. That’s not something those of us who live in the hills deal with. Here it is flash flooding. Torrents of rushing water, coming down out of the hills aided by gravity, trying to get through culverts under roadways and lanes. State Road 135 had rushing water across it preventing passage in several areas.
Then when the water went down, bridges were closed for repair. INDOT got them back open is pretty quick fashion. In the meanwhile, I detoured north nearly to Brown County, turning uphill into Houston (it’s not Hew-ston, it’s Hows-ton, for you non-locals) then back south to Brownstown. And on the way along the White River basin I saw farm fields—hurriedly planted after a wet spring and cool grand temperatures prevented much farm work—now under a lot of water.
Ironically the best corn I have seen growing in on the hillsides near Houston near the area known as Bald Knobs. It will be ‘knee high by the 4th of July’…if the deer don’t eat it first.
At the wilderness, Mother Nature and gravity had their way with us.
The lake was exiting out the emergency overflows as it was fed with water from a quarter-mile long hollow. It is now back down to normal lake level.
There are 10” deep ruts in the half-mile lane. The rain breeched the gravel water diverters I put in the lane to prevent such rain ruts. The rock that was once the lane is now scattered where gravity wanted it to go in the woods and pasture.
It will all get fixed eventually. But Mother Nature has told us that she will be back sometime for Round 2.

No-Fault Automatic Tolls Can Ring Your Bell

by Curt Kovener

New toll rates for three bridges connecting Louisville and Southern Indiana will increase 2.5% on July 1.
If you routinely travel to the Bluegrass state for business or pleasure, it will cost you a smidgen more. The new rate for a passenger vehicle with a prepaid account and transponder will go to $2.10 per crossing. The current toll rate is $2.05 per crossing.
Neither state wanted to raise any form of taxes to pay for the much needed new and re-worked bridges. And what better way to pay for the bridges than by the drivers who use them? But there is the law of unintended consequences.
Drivers with prepaid accounts and electronic transponders always pay the lowest toll rates, according to RiverLink, the company responsible for collecting the toll.
It costs just over two bucks a crossing on the southbound I-65 Kennedy Bridge and the northbound I-65 Lincoln Bridge and east-end I-265/KY 841 Lewis and Clark Bridge connecting Prospect, KY and Utica, IN
It’s $2.10 if you have a transponder and money in your account to pay that cheaper rate. Otherwise you eventually pay $4.20 per crossing. And that’s for passenger cars, vans & pick-up trucks. Bigger vehicles pay more.
There have been horror stories in connection with the electronic tolling.
If you obtain a transponder and put money into your account to automatically pay the toll, but are an infrequent Ohio River toll bridge crosser, your account gets charged a monthly service fee for your lack of use. And when you do cross, if there is insufficient money in your account because you forgot or get too busy, then you get a bill at the higher toll rate.
But maybe you are that rare river-crossing traveler and just opt to pay the full-tilt toll. You are not without potential bad news, as well.
RiverLink may not always send you a bill (as with a single crossing or two). But not getting a bill does not excuse you from paying. It is the motorist’s responsibility for going on-line, checking with RiverLink to see if you owe any toll then paying by credit card. This I know from experience.
If you don’t check and don’t pay, other bad things happen. You can’t re-new your license plates until the toll is paid. And you can’t simply pay the toll bill at the BMV. No, that would make things too easy.
I suggest three options for crossing the Ohio River from this neck of the woods. I use the non-tolled Sherman-Minton I-64 Bridge crossing from New Albany to the west side of Louisville or using the Clark Memorial US 31-2nd Street Bridge if I am going downtown.
Then if I am traveling to visit the eastern part of the Commonwealth, I can opt to cross the Madison-Milton Bridge and take the winding & hilly US 421 to Frankfort.
And all without paying a toll or worrying about electronic tolling non-billing nightmares. Granted, it takes a bit longer but having one less worry makes my stress-filled life less so.
Without any legislative action at all, toll rates increase every July 1 by 2.5 percent, unless the rate of inflation (as measured by the Consumer Price Index) is higher. Tolling, a bi-state effort between the Indiana and Kentucky legislatures, started Dec. 30, 2016.
Back then both states agreed to privatizing the bridge toll service which is why neither state says they are responsible for your toll bridge bad experience.

Some Things On Which To Contemplate

by Curt Kovener

Here is some trivia, facts and bits of information that may be of no use but will make you a more informed human.
•It takes glass one million years to decompose, which means it never wears out and can be recycled an infinite amount of times.
•Gold is the only metal that doesn’t rust or corrode, even if it’s buried in the ground for thousands of years.
•Your tongue is the only muscle in your body that is attached at only one end.
•If you stop getting thirsty, you need to drink more water. When a human body is dehydrated, its thirst mechanism shuts off.
•Zero is the only number that cannot be represented by Roman numerals.
•Kites were used in the American Civil War to deliver letters and newspapers.
•Drinking water after eating reduces the acid in your mouth by 61 percent.
•Peanut oil is used for cooking in submarines because it doesn’t smoke unless it’s heated above 450° F.
•The roar that we hear when we place a seashell next to our ear is not the ocean, but rather the sound of blood surging through the veins in the ear.
•Nine out of every 10 living things live in the ocean.
•Airports at higher altitudes require a longer airstrip due to lower air density.
•The tooth is the only part of the human body that cannot heal itself.
•In ancient Greece, tossing an apple to a girl was a traditional proposal of marriage. Catching it meant she accepted.
•Intelligent people have more zinc and copper in their hair.
•Caffeine increases the power of aspirin and other painkillers, that is why it is found in some medicines.
•The military salute is a motion that evolved from medieval times, when knights in armor raised their visors to reveal their identity.
•When a person dies, hearing is the last sense to go. The first sense lost is sight.
•Strawberries are the only fruits whose seeds grow on the outside.
•Avocados have the highest calories of any fruit at 167 calories per hundred grams.
•The moon moves about two inches away from the Earth each year.
•The Earth gets 100 tons heavier every day due to falling space dust.
•Everything weighs one percent less at the equator.
•For every extra kilogram carried on a space flight, 530 kg of additional fuel is needed at liftoff.