Thoughts On November

by Curt Kovener

We have begun the month of “no”: no flowers, no fruits, no vegetables, no warm sun…November.
Here are some others’ thoughts on the penultiment month of the year.
“Even if something is left undone, everyone must take time to sit still and watch the leaves turn.” ~Elizabeth Lawrence
“Dull November brings the blast, then the leaves are whirling fast.” ~Sara Coleridge
“November comes And November goes,
With the last red berries And the first white snows.
With night coming early, And dawn coming late,
And ice in the bucket And frost by the gate.
The fires burn And the kettles sing,
And earth sinks to rest Until next spring.”
~ Elizabeth Coatsworth
“I like spring, but it is too young. I like summer, but it is too proud. So I like best of all autumn, because its tone is mellower, its colours are richer, and it is tinged with a little sorrow. Its golden richness speaks not of the innocence of spring, nor the power of summer, but of the mellowness and kindly wisdom of approaching age. It knows the limitations of life and its content.” ~Lin Yutang
“Autumn is the eternal corrective. It is ripeness and color and a time of maturity; but it is also breadth, and depth,
and distance. What man can stand with autumn on a hilltop and fail to see the span of his world and the meaning of the rolling hills that reach to the far horizon?” ~ Hal Borland
“Heap high the farmer’s wintry hoard!
Heap high the golden corn!
No richer gift has Autumn poured
From out her lavish horn!”
~ John Greenleaf Whittier
“Autumn is marching on: even the scarecrows are wearing dead leaves.” ~ Otsuyu Nakagawa
“Splitting dry kindling on a damp November day are like wind-chimes tinkling.” ~Michael P. Garofalo
“The wind that makes music in November corn is in a hurry. The stalks hum, the loose husks whisk skyward in half-playing swirls, and the wind hurries on…
A tree tries to argue, bare limbs waving, but there is no detaining the wind.”
~ Aldo Leopold
“Two sounds of autumn are unmistakable, the hurrying rustle of crisp leaves blown along the street or road by a gusty wind, and the gabble of a flock of migrating geese.
Both are warnings of chill days ahead, fireside and topcoat weather.” ~ Hal Borland

Conversation Starters, Useless & Otherwise

by Curt Kovener

Next time there is a lull in the conversation, enjoy the brief quiet, the share one of these talking stimulants.
•If you are right handed, you will tend to chew your food on the right side of your mouth. If you are left handed, you will tend to chew your food on the left side of your mouth.
•To make half a pound of honey, bees must collect nectar from over 2 million individual flowers.
•Heroin was the brand name of morphine once marketed by Bayer. And at one time Coca-cola contained cocaine.
•Tourists visiting Iceland should know that tipping at a restaurant is considered an insult!
•People in nudist colonies play volleyball more than any other sport.
•Albert Einstein was offered the presidency of Israel in 1952, but he declined.
•Astronauts can’t belch— there is no gravity to separate liquid from gas in their stomachs.
•The Mona Lisa has no eyebrows. In the Renaissance era, it was fashion to shave them off.
•The night of January 20 is “Saint Agnes’s Eve”, which is regarded as a time when a young woman dreams of her future husband.
•Google is actually the common name for a number with a million zeros.
•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, 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.
•Each year 2,000,000 smokers either quit smoking or die of tobacco-related diseases.
•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.
•The song, Auld Lang Syne, is sung at the stroke of midnight in almost every English-speaking country in the world to bring in the new year.
•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.
•The banana cannot reproduce itself. It can be propagated only by the hand of humans.
•Airports at higher altitudes require a longer airstrip due to lower air density.
•The University of Alaska spans four time zones.
•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.
•A comet’s tail always points away from the sun.

I Did Not Mean To Disrespect the Flag …And Maybe You Didn’t Either

by Curt Kovener

If there are not naturally occurring weather crisis, wildfires, hurricane damage assistance, nuclear finger pointing, computer hacking then there are conjured up crisis du jour since January 20.
Now there are a bunch of Washington types, led by the President and VP, with their knickers in a knot because some football players are not standing for the National Anthem. The high profile athletes are not standing as a way to bringing attention to the injustice of the significantly high number of police shootings of black citizens because the victims are not high profile.
Rather than look at the root cause of the high profile player protest, the two elected national leaders who have never served a day in the military, want to talk about disrespecting the flag.
I was taught during my years in the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts to stand when the flag passes by and for the playing for the National Anthem.
Sometimes that is just not possible.
There are radio stations that will occasionally play a four part harmony version of the Star Spangled Banner. I suppose they do so to show their support for the flag and to be patriotic.
But when listening to the radio driving down the interstate at 70 mph, it just doesn’t seem like a good idea to pull over, get out of my truck, and stand while traffic goes whizzing by wondering what is wrong with me. They probably are not listening to the radio but talking on their phones or texting or tweeting.
Then there are those pickup trucks with the American and Confederate flags affixed to their pick up beds driving about. Like the professional football player, they are expressing their right to free speech guaranteed by the First Amendment. The flag maybe passing by me but I cannot safely stand with a semi filling my rearview mirror.
And— an embarassing confession— there have been times I have been caught in the men’s room before an athletic event. I was standing when the anthem was being played, but not at attention. At least not in that way. Perhaps the President would say I should have planned better but I know my bladder better than he does, I think.
The appearance of disrespecting the flag is a non-negotiable point with members of the VFW and American Legion. I get that. They served this country in one of the branches of service.
Back on the home front, I was the director of the Crothersville Red, White & Blue Festival for 16 years…a festival which is billed as “Indiana’s Most Patriotic Festival.” I have served what is equivalent to four presidential terms to promote a lot of red, white & blue flag waving. All the while having served as much time in the military as our Commander in Chief and his second in command.
It was also during my youthful scouting days that respect for the flag was taught.
But even today as I drive about the community and the county I see people disrespecting the flag. Atop a number of flag poles in the front yards & in front of businesses I pass are flags that are no longer red, white & blue but pink, gray and in tatters by the wind, rain and neglect. Flags that long ago should have been exchanged for new ones and those that are past their service respectfully and ceremonially incinerated.
Maybe Vice President Pence gets more national exposure for walking out of a football game when some opposing team players took a knee (the President takes credit saying he told him to do it). But wouldn’t it have more meaning if on his next trip back to his home state that convoy of armored black SUVs with tinted windows pulled into the driveway of a tatter, faded flag waver to shame them for disrespecting the flag?
Don’t worry. It won’t happen. By the time you are reading this there will be yet another crisis du jour to distract us from the important stuff.

Some Of Life’s Confounding Questions

by Curt Kovener

Now that I am a member of the gray hair and Medicare Club, I have been around long enough to compile some perplexing and confounding questions on the world in which we live.
I’m not talking about ‘What’s the meaning of life?’ or ‘Does the Universe have an end? And if it doesn’t, Why?’ or ‘Why are all areas of government from federal to Indiana to Jackson County controlled by the GOP and still we can’t all get along?’
No, I am talking about the important stuff of life like…
•Why is the third hand on the watch called the second hand?
•If a word is misspelled in a dictionary, how would we ever know?
•If Webster wrote the first dictionary, where did he find the words?
•Why do we say something is out of whack? What is a whack? And how do we get back in to whack?
•Why do ‘tug’ boats push their barges?
•Why do they sing ‘Take me out to the ball game’, when they are already there?
•Why are they called ‘stands’ when they’re made for sitting?
•Why is it called ‘after dark’, when it is really after light?
•Doesn’t ‘expecting the unexpected’ make the unexpected expected?
•Why do overlook and oversee mean opposite things?
•Why is phonics not spelled the way it sounds?
•If work is so terrific, how come they have to pay you to do it?
•If all the world is a stage, where is the audience sitting?
•Why do we put suits in a garment bag and put garments in a suitcase?
•Why do we drive on a parkway and park on a driveway?
•Why is bra singular and panties plural?

Words We Weren’t Taught But Learned Anyway

by Curt Kovener

Vocabulary was a sub-subject of high school English that Mrs. Lewis always stressed. There was a very thick dictionary in her room that we were encouraged to use.

Today, there is online Wikopedia for word definitions since we all seem to be wired to our computers.

But the following vocabulary words and phrases may have come from ‘Wacko-pedia.’

Calories: Tiny creatures that live in your closet and sew your clothes a little bit tighter every night.

Synonym: A word used in place of the one you can’t spell.

Money can’t buy happiness: a phrase used by most of us to help curb our jealousy of the rich.

Feet: A device used for finding Legos® in the dark.

Irish Handcuffs: When a person is carrying an alcoholic beverage in both hands at the same time.

Web MD: Something that makes a mild cold into a deadly disease that will kill you within 24 hours.

Balanced diet: One cheeseburger in each hand.

That’s nice: A phrase to say when you are talking on the phone and you zone out in the middle of the other person’s story.

Laziness: Risking to drop everything you carry rather than walking twice.

Brain: Something we all have but most do not use…at least very well.

English: A language that lurks in dark alleys, beats up other languages and rifles through their pockets for spare vocabulary.

Best friends: The people you can get mad at only for a short period of time because you have important stuff to tell them.

Cell phone: A device used for looking less alone while in public places by yourself.

Golf: An excuse for old fat men to say they still play a sport.

Pets: The only members of your family you really like.

Poor: When you have too much month at the end of your money.

Tomorrow: The best time to do everything you had planned for today.

Vegetarian: 1) A bad hunter. 2) Someone who survives by consuming not food but the stuff that food eats.

Single: A man who makes jokes about women in the kitchen.

Fall Fell But The Temperatures Did Not

by Curt Kovener

Fall officially began across Hoosier land last Thursday with the Autumnal Equinox but the thermometer remained near 90°. While the calendar says it is officially fall, the wilderness has been giving signs of the changing seasons for several weeks.
Some black gum trees have shown tinges of red and sassafras show their hope to become yellow-orange before long.
Some maples and yellow poplars have foregone much color change and their leaves have flittered to the ground and the wilderness retreat’s back deck. It now requires nearly daily sweeping and blowing.
The oak tree that overhangs the roof will occasionally release an acorn, which makes a dull plunk on the roof, then rolls down before plunking again and bouncing on the previously clean rear deck.
Willow the cat will look at the ceiling and follow the rolling acorn on its path as if it might be some tasty rodent in the house. Emma the Great Pyrenees merely barks a protective bark. She does a lot of that at forest sounds.
The paw-paw crop was paltry this year with only enough found for a fresh fall fruit treat. Paw-paws are the earliest trees to bloom in the spring; their bronze bell shaped blooms open before bees and other pollinators come out of their winter slumber. The large numbers of flowers in the spring are not necessarily a harbinger of a plentiful harvest.
Persimmons, on the other hand, are in abundance; the trees’ limbs hanging heavy with yellow blush fruit. Over the next few weeks the now puckery fruit will ripen to a dark orange, lose their astringency and sweeten up before falling to the ground.
I’ve found late afternoon to be the best time for gathering persimmons as there will be the day’s droppings to gather before the night time woodland residents feast on the fruit.
And my favorite fall activity, gathering huge Hoosier hickory nuts will get into full swing in a few weeks with cooling temperatures and gusty winds to dislodge the nuts. An early venture to my hickory honey hole revealed a few good size nuts already on the ground and a good number more waiting on weather to dislodge them from the tree.
And fall also brings down the leaves—and believe me when I say we’ve got plenty of leaves— which get mulched and stacked into piles for decomposing into good tilthy garden soil.