Wilderness Growth At Summer’s Solstice

by Curt Kovener
Curt-line
I am writing this on the Ides of June, just a few days before today’s Summer Solstice marking the official beginning of summer. But I can reliably tell you the growing season arrived much earlier in the wilderness.
The hills and hollers and flats are lush and green.
Blackberry blossoms were abundant earlier and it appears that the various bees and flying insects of the wilderness have done a good job pollinating. Now if we can have timely moisture like last night’s inch of rain, there should be plenty of berry picking opportunities in July.
The paw-paws of the wilderness are a confounding fruit. Growing in the under story of the forest and blooming early before any insects are out and about, their pollination is sketchy at best relying primarily on breezes, I suppose. We will have to wait and see if the Hoosier Banana produces much of a crop.
The paw-paw doesn’t have much of a shelf life. They bruise easily and rot quicker. I have to pick them just as their skin turns from light green to lighter yellow and before the raccoons find out they are nearly ripe. I process them like persimmons and freeze their pulp.
Domestically— the intended tended plants— our zucchini is fruiting and there will be a first harvest of that versatile and abundant fruit. We planted two plants and that may turn out to the one too many.
The heirloom tomatoes are blooming and producing fruit thanks to the higher temperatures during the day. They are called heirloom because the seeds can be saved and planted next spring and get the same tomato. That is unlike the hybrids which will produce volunteers but not of the same type as its parents.
We’re growing a tomato called ‘Mortgage Lifter’, a large, meaty slicing tomato. It got it’s name back in the 1930’s when the farmer growing them sold enough fruit to pay off his farm mortgage.
They are planted in large pots next to the sidewalk because I found planting tomatoes in the high fenced garden area keeps deer and raccoons out but tomato hornworms can come right in. At least planted near the house where they can be watered, fertilized and weeded often, they can be inspected for the fat green leaf-eating worm.
And on the topic of worms, there were very few tent caterpillars seen in the cherry trees of the forest. Maybe they are cyclical like the Japanese beetle which are now few and far between in the wilderness.
Without any tending, the weeds, briars, vines, multiflora rose and autumn olive (the last two are invasives) grow quite well without any care. But they are tended to periodically with mower, weed-whacker, and pruners…but not to encourage growth.
As a counterpoint to the work requiring forest flora, the daisies and black-eyed susans provide some summer color in the open flats and the forest edges are abundant with cinnamon, staghorn and maidenhair ferns.
They all make for a pleasing tour during an early evening walk-a-bout.

Patrol Ponderings

Emma

Emma

by Emma the Great Pyrenees
While the Editor was busy with Red, White & Blue Festival coverage, I was tickled when asked to write a guest column for a newspaper. What a treat!
Oh, did I say “tickled?” I meant to say, “I itch. Badly. Usually in the area around my tail. Would you please scratch it?”
And as for a treat, well, I’ve always got room in my belly for a good fried egg…
But I guess I’d better forget about all that for a bit while I tell you about the topic on which I happen to be an expert: security. You see, I’m the guard dog for a secluded wilderness retreat infested with all sorts of threats like deer, turkey, raccoons, and don’t even get me started on those seed stealers that visit what my humans call “bird feeders.”
Like all Great Pyrenees, I work the night shift. My humans call it being “nocturnal.” At least that’s what I hear them mumble as one climbs out of bed at night to turn on the fan. I’ve been meaning to ask them how they expect to hear my warning barks if they turn the fan on high and fall back asleep? Oh well, it’s my job to keep them safe, and you’ve probably figured out I take that seriously as I run up and down the ridge, circling the house all through those dangerous, dark hours, barking.
My humans insist that there’s no danger: silly, sweet, well-intentioned people. I just shake my head and smile at them. They don’t hear the other dog about five miles up the road that’s barking. That’s a danger that could escalate in a hurry if I didn’t tell him I’m on guard and he’d better stay off my land. Then there are those noisy diesel engines going up and down the road a few ridges away. Trouble is always one missed warning bark away. My motto, and the motto of my kind, is “constant vigilance.” (My humans get that wrong too; they call it, “constant barking.”)
Sometimes, just before I fall asleep during the day, my people tell me the story of the Great Pyrenees. They say my kind were bred in the Pyrenees Mountains between France and Spain by farmers who needed big, strong, smart dogs to guard their livestock from bears and wolves. Since we often spent many days by ourselves, we got used to making decisions on our own. I think I’m lucky because I’ve heard tell some dogs can’t do this and must follow things called “commands” from their humans that are learned during some awful ritual called “obedience training.” That’s enough to make a girl shudder.
Another perk to being a Great Pyrenees is that our kind has what my people call a good dash of “flash and dazzle.” I think this has something to do with the way I look as well the way our thick, often white hair doesn’t cling to the dirt we collect as we work, no matter how cooling that mud compress might be that I worked so hard to apply while down at the creek.
They also say Great Pyrenees are known for being stubborn.
But I don’t think they’re right on that one, either. Humans – gotta love them, huh?

Hoosier Knowledge Of Indiana History?

Curt-lineby Curt Kovener

Maybe you are a life-long Hoosier; maybe you are a recent immigrant to Indiana but you should enjoy knowing more about the state in which we live. (No, not the state of confusion!)
•Nearby Bedford is known as the Limestone Capital on the World.” Admired for its lights color and ease of cutting, Indiana limestone has been used in the construction of the Empire State Building, the Pentagon (both originally and after the 9/11 attacks), National Cathedral, US Treasury, and 14 state capitols.
•Elvis Presley performed his last concert in Indianapolis at the now razed Market Square Area. Presley died three months after that last concert.
•The very first goldfish farm was in Martinsville beginning in 1899.
•Those classic Raggedy Ann dolls were first created by Johnny Gruelle of Indianapolis in 1914.
•Indiana has earned the nickname ‘Mother of Vice Presidents’. Six of the nation’s #2 leaders were from the Hoosier state: Schuyler Colfax, Thomas A. Hendricks, Charles W. Fairbanks, Thomas Marshall, Dan Quayle and current VP Mike Pence.
•Those iconic Coca-Cola bottle shapes were designed in Terre Haute.
•Wabash, Indiana was the first electrically lighted city in the world. Charles F. Brush tested his ‘Brush Light’ on March 31, 1880 in the city of Wabash. The glow at night was visible from a mile away and about 10,000 citizens witnessed the electrical first.
•From 1805-1813 the capital of the Indiana territory was Vincennes. The capital was moved to Corydon from 1813-125 and Indianapolis became the state capital on Jan. 12, 1825.
•The debut of singer Frank Sinatra was in Indianapolis at the Lyric Theatre on Feb. 2, 1940.
•The first rapid fire gun was patented by Hoosier Richard Gatling. Aim it & turn a crank, it was known as the Gatling gun.
•The first State Park was at McCormick’s Creek.
•Tomato juice was first served at the French Lick Hotel.
•The first automatic headlight dimmer was developed in Anderson in 1952.
•The world’s first theme park was opened on August 3, 1946 in Santa Claus, Indiana. It is now known as Holiday World.
•The first transistor radio was made in Indianapolis.
•90% of the popcorn in the world is grown in Indiana.
•The first professional daytime baseball game was played in Fort Wayne in 1871. Fort Wayne also hosted the first night time game in 1883.
•Movie star Clark Gable honeymooned at Barbee Lake in Kosciusko County.
•From 1900 to 1920 more than 200 different makes of cars were produced in Indiana.
• Indiana’s first major railroad was completed in 1847 and linked the river port of Madison with Indianapolis.

Improve Your Vocabulary Over the Summer

Curt-lineby Curt Kovener

Nearing the end of May, school is almost out for most students but for the true professionals, we know that education is a year-long life-long experience. So to start your summer school, study up on these new vocabulary words so that you will not be forced into remediation this fall.
For extra credit, see if you can attach names of people you know that exemplify these vocabulary words.
•Blamestorming: Sitting around in a group, discussing why a deadline was missed or a project failed, and who was responsible.
•Seagull Manager: A manager, who flies in, makes a lot of noise, craps on everything, and then leaves.
•Assmosis: The process by which some people seem to absorb success and advancement by kissing up to the boss rather than working hard.
•Salmon Day: The workday experience of spending an entire day swimming upstream only to die in the end.
•Cube Farm: An office filled with cubicles.
•Prairie Dogging: When someone yells or drops something loudly in a cube farm, and people’s heads pop up over the walls to see what’s going on.
•Mouse Potato: The on-line, wired generation’s answer to the couch potato.
•SITCOMs: Single Income, Two Children, And Oppressive Mortgage. What adults turn into when they have children and one of them stops working to stay home with the kids.
•TINKs: Two Incomes, No Kids. These selfish adults just hate it when they find out that their new neighbors moving in have 4 kids under 10 years old. (See SITCOMs above.)
•Stress Puppy: A person who seems to thrive on being stressed out and whiney.
•Swipeout: An ATM or credit card that has been rendered useless because the magnetic strip is worn away from extensive use.
•Xerox Subsidy: Euphemism for swiping free photocopies from one’s workplace.
•Irritainment: Entertainment and news spectacles that are annoying but you find yourself unable to stop watching them. News coverage of the White House is a prime example.
•Percussive Maintenance: The fine art of whacking an electronic device to get it to work again.
•Adminisphere: The rarefied corporate organizational layers beginning just above the rank and file. Decisions that fall from the adminisphere are often profoundly inappropriate or irrelevant to the problems they were designed to solve or they solve problems that do not exist.
•404: Someone who’s clueless. From the World Wide Web error message “404 Not Found”; meaning that the requested document could not be located.
•Generica: Features of the American landscape that are exactly the same no matter where one travels, such as fast food joints, strip malls, subdivisions.
•Oh-No Second: That minuscule fraction of time in which you realize that you’ve just made a BIG mistake.
•WOOFYS: Well Off Older Folks.
•Crop Dusting: Surreptitiously breaking wind while passing through a cube farm, then enjoying the sounds of dismay and disgust.

Is The Goal Still To Make Health Care Affordable?

No one can be certain how the average American will be affected by the health care bill approved last week by the U.S. House of Representatives.
That’s because the measure has not yet been analyzed by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, something critics say should have been a necessary first step.
Nevertheless, we know the bill’s key provisions.
According to a report from National Public Radio, the measure would eliminate penalties for failing to buy health insurance. It also would eliminate the requirement that those using federal tax credits buy insurance through the marketplaces created under Obamacare.
Instead, the measure would encourage people to maintain coverage by prohibiting insurance companies from cutting them off or charging more for pre-existing conditions as long as their insurance didn’t lapse. If coverage were interrupted for more than 63 days, insurers would be able to charge a 30% penalty for a year.
The bill would eliminate income-based tax credits and replace them with age-based credits ranging from $2,000 a year for people in their 20’s to $4,000 a year for those older than 60.
An interactive map put together by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows the impact in 2020 for individuals across the country.
As a general rule, younger people would save money under the plan, while older people would pay more.
The map shows a 40-year-old making $50,000 a year in Jackson County would save $3,000 under the proposed bill, seeing his or her share of annual premiums drop from $4,010 to $1,010 after the $3,000 tax credit. A 60-year-old with the same income, meanwhile, would see premiums go up 46% from the Affordable Care Act to $7,430 after the $4,000 tax credit under the American Health Care Act.
You can find a bunch of other numbers— and lots of other information about the proposed new law— by visiting the foundation’s website at kff.org.
From what I can tell, the impact seems hardest for those at the bottom of the economic ladder.
According to the foundation’s map, a Jackson County resident making $20,000 a year pays a premium of $960, or about 5 percent of annual income under the Affordable Care Act.
Under the recently House approved American Health Care Act, the same person earning that same amount would pay $1,190, or about 6 percent of annual income. A 60-year-old with the same income would pay $8,040, or more than 40% of his or her annual income.
That seems unsustainable.
The bill maintains protections for people with pre-existing conditions, but it allows states to opt out. States could apply for waivers that would allow insurance companies to charge older people more than five times what they charge younger people for the same policy, and they could eliminate the so-called essential health benefits, including maternity care and mental health coverage.
The bill would also allow insurance companies to offer policies with annual and lifetime benefit limits, options that are banned under the Affordable Care Act.
The bill does require states to provide a way for people with pre-existing conditions to obtain coverage, and it allocates up to $138 billion over 10 years to fund such programs. But analysis released this week by Avalere Health concluded that that amount wouldn’t be enough to provide full coverage for those with pre-existing conditions now buying insurance through the individual market.
Say what you will about Obamacare, but the law’s goal was to make medical care available to everyone.
Does that remain the goal of the law’s replacement? If so, the measure seems to be coming up short.
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Kelly Hawes, of the Terre Haute Tribune-Star contributed to the research for this column.

So What Have You Learned?

Curt-lineby Curt Kovener

We never quit learning. I have learned a lot about people over my six+ decades around the area. Good friends recently shared what they have learned over the years…all life observances
I’ve learned…
•That just one person saying to me, “You’ve made my day!” makes my day.
•That the best classroom in the world is at the feet of an elderly person. (Of course, now that I are one, no one wants to listen.)
•That being kind is more important than being right.
•That I can always pray for someone when I don’t have the strength to help him in any other way.
•That no matter how serious your life requires you to be, everyone needs a friend to act goofy with.
•That money doesn’t buy class. (But it can make you presidential.)
• That to ignore the facts does not change the facts.
• That the easiest way for me to grow as a person is to surround myself with people smarter than I am.
•That it’s those small daily happenings that make life so interesting.
•That everyone you meet deserves to be greeted with a smile.
•That opportunities are never lost; someone will take the ones
you miss.
•That everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you’re climbing it.
•That the less time I have to work with, the more things I get done.