In my ’80s

Monday, July 30, 2018

The Juniper Spoon, Lali’s catering kitchen, is located in Montgomery County about 25 miles from Shades State Park and maybe 40 from Turkey Run State Park. This fortune is due to living close to Sugar Creek which has come to offer many pleasant senior moments.

Here is Sugar Creek close to Lali’s property.


This morning, after weeks of dry weather, I awakened to rain …


… and thought that since I couldn’t pull weeds, I and my Yorkiepoo might go south to Turkey Run State Park.


Seemingly small streams that meet Sugar Creek have, over the centuries, cut through Indiana sandstone. No, this is not as dramatic as Arizona’s Canyon del Cheyelle, but I am grateful for what we have.



Rudy was most reluctant to ford the creek, but after two or three crossings, it was no sweat.


Yes, it’s raining. Yes, it’s slippery. Yes, I am using my cane … and Rudy. This little creek opens onto Sugar Creek. Here it’s really slick.


The Sugar Creek moves in classic style on to the mighty Wabash.


We drove toward home refreshed, but stopped along the road to admire a field of Angus who also seemed to thrive in rain.




In my ’80s

Sunday, July 29, 2018

About 60 years ago I and some buddies flew into the Honduran back country town of Tacoa. As I recall, the road into this interior place was passable only part of the year. One evening we heard a drum beat. The missionary family with whom we stayed indicated the drummer to be the news crier. We rushed to a corner waiting for the drummer to show up. He did and proceeded to tell of a strike that wouldn’t occur, and several other items that we could not connect with. At the time I wondered whether townsfolk felt “up on the news” because of this man’s efforts.

Let us imagine that today I am the drummer and that my news comes from one source, The New York Times, and that I am limited to share twenty items with no more than two sentences per item. Got it? OK, I am drumming. A small group huddles around me, and I speak up!

  1. China has built a $50 million space mission control station in Argentina that may help China explore the far side of the moon. The United States fears that its political, economic and strategic power in that area of the world might be compromised by China’s entry.
  2. In the most recent act of a 17-year war, the Trump administration is urging American-backed Afghan troops to retreat from sparsely populated areas of the country, all but ensuring the Taliban will remain in control of vast stretches of Afghanistan.
  3. Several key parties on Saturday began to coalesce around Imran Khan, the cricket star whose political party won Pakistan’s elections paving the way for him to form a majority in the country’s National Assembly and ascend to the premiership.
  4. An estimated 100,000 street dogs, in varying states of disrepair, roam the streets of of Bangkok. Thailand is overwhelmingly Buddhist, and the faithful believe the animals, through a cycle of rebirth into different life forms, can eventually attain nirvana.
  5. Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington, from the College of Cardinals, ordering him to a “life of prayer and penance” after allegation that the cardinal sexually abused minors and adult seminarians over the course of decades.
  6. A study released this year found that more than 99 percent of sexual assaults in India are never reported. And in those that are, police investigators intimidate women into changing their statement or use invasive “two-finger” test to determine whether they had a prior sexual history.
  7. While Japan famously brought the world the concept of “death from overwork,” South Koreans work longer hours, according to labor data. In fact, they put in 240 more work hours per year than American do, leading to a recent increase in suicides.
  8. While the desperate search continued by boat and helicopter, for survivors and casualties of catastrophic flooding cause by a dam failure, displaced villagers across south Laos were unsure if their missing neighbors and relatives had died, escaped or were still alive but stranded on slopes, trees or rooftops, awaiting rescue.
  9. President Trump nominated the lawyer Peter C. Wright to be assistant administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency overseeing the Superfund Program, which was created decades ago to clean up the nation’s most hazardous toxic waste sites. However Wright earlier led Dow’s cleanups, which was accused by regulators of submitting disputed data, misrepresenting scientific evidence and delaying cleanup.
  10. As one staff member after another has disappointed Mr. Trump and has departed or been dispatched, the President has retreated into the familiarity of his family —his daughter, above all, and eventually her husband Jared Kushner.
  11. A British parliamentary committee examining Russia’s exploitation of social media to try to influence elections has called for sweeping new regulations on tech companies, and has accused Facebook of providing “disingenuous answers” to some questions while avoiding others to the point of obstruction.”
  12. The former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont returned from Germany to Belgium on Saturday after Spain failed in an attempt to extradite him on charges of rebellion over an illegal declaration of independence.
  13. A New Orleans’ all-female motorcycle club called Caramel Curves is made up of 13 women who boisterously cruise the city. “When they came along, they changed the game.”
  14. Hundred of prison inmates in Idaho found a way to add hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of credit to their JPay accounts which they can use to communicate with the outside world.
  15. Brian Kemp, the Republican winner of Georgia’s primary branded himself a politically incorrect conservative who would “round up criminal illegals” and haul them to the border in his very own pickup. Stacy Abrams has demanded that the iconic carvings of Jefferson David, Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson be sandblasted off Stone Mountain.
  16. For thousands of undocumented immigrants in South Texas, the crowded bus station in downtown McAllen has become a new, impromptu Ellis Island — an entry and exit point in the migrants’ monthslong journey to American’s Southwest border and beyond.
  17. Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) recently spent $10 million on an ad campaign designed to build voter support for the elimination of the Affordable care Act. PhRMA has become one of the most prominent non-profits for routing what is known as dark money — difficult-to-trace funds behind TV ads, phone calls, grass-roots organizing and other investment used to influence politics.
  18. In mid-May Albee Layer on a surfboard did an alley oop, rotating a little more than 360 degrees; he landed backward on the wave and then slid another 180 degrees to ride in facing forward. Now nobody or no sports agency knows what to call this trick.
  19. Hannah Gadsby, an Australian comedian, creator of “Nanette,” a stage show turned Netflix special, is unflinching about the abuse of women and queer people like her and how they get treated, dismissed and silenced.
  20. After years of seeing them as solitary human-killers, we are finally learning what sharks are really like. New research reveals they’re social, travel great distances and have no interest in attacking us.

So I did it. Do you feel informed? What has been missed? Can news be delivered in two sentences? Are any of these “fake news”? 

In my ’80s

Friday, July 27, 2018

I need to revisit the final paragraph of the most recent blog: “A rural spot gives and withholds. Like a body, it breathes. It evolves yet seems to stay the same.” That final sentence needs further thought.

In Indianapolis I watch the weather somewhat like a hobby. Here in Montgomery County where I am property-sitting for two weeks, I watch the weather far more carefully: a big garden used by The Juniper Spoon is dependent upon weather, as are the many other gardens and grasslands that supply product to Lali’s company. Yesterday we heard predictions for scattered showers; we received five minutes of rain.

This morning at breakfast with two Montgomery County friends — one a retired high-level engineer and the other a retired mental health counselor — the engineer told us that yesterday 159 weather stations across the globe noted record-high temperatures, not just in tropical areas but Japan and northern Europe and of course southwestern United States. Meanwhile the fires destroy important parts of California.

“People these days don’t believe scientists,” remarked my friend. How strange that statement given that so much of our awareness of what is comes directly from science. But odd though it be, many people including politicians and coal miners and industry and farmers as well as careless homemakers suppose that global warming, while documented, is inconsequential.

These days earth isn’t staying the same. It’s getting warmer and warmer. At places it is burning. What will my two granddaughters, now on vacation in the West, experience in consequence of this warming trend?


In my 80’s

Thursday, July 26, 2018

To live in a rural spot — what does it offer? what does it withhold?

    • At the moment I can’t send an iPhone message. Michel says I must go into settings, then message, then change towers — whatever that means.
    • I can’t connect with the web, either, so I can’t send an email. It’s 5:30, so probably others are using the service.
    • A wide wingspan bird of prey just now flew over. I can’t identify it.
    • The people in the kitchen want to take down the hornet’s nest. Why not leave it alone, and walk a detour around it?
    • This morning while driving I rounded a curve, there to see in the middle of the road a huge Deere.

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  • It’s been hot today and humid. Rain is expected in the state, but only here and there. We got a four-minute shower, which came to mean that I needed to irrigate the new planting of red beets, the sweet potatoes and the new hills of zucchini.
  • A five-acre plot can produce a lot of what one doesn’t actually want. In other words, weeds. There’s a stack of weeds now drying on the bonfire site.
  • I drove a load of recyclables to the local station. On the way home my camera saw a sight. So I stopped.


  • A day’s worth of work is now finished. The kitchen staff is gone. My dog Rudy and I will spend a quiet night. In the morning I’ll have breakfast at the local kitchen that writes the day’s menu on a white board.

A rural spot gives and withholds. Like a body, it breathes. It evolves yet seems to stay the same.



In my ’80s

Wednesday,  July 25, 2018

Hoosiers can be grateful for what its government has done in park preservation. Yesterday I visited again Shades State Park.

According to, “Long before the first settlers came to the area of Shades State Park, Native Americans lived among the virgin forest, steep ravines and cliff areas along Sugar Creek. Legends claim that a large Piankeshaw village, a component of the diversified Miami tribe, lived on what is now park land. Legend also implies that decisive Native American battle was fought by 600 warriors, the losing tribe having only 5 of the 12 survivors. Although this battle is only legend, one may be assured that these Native Americans and French voyagers played an important role in the rich history leading to the settlement of Indiana.”

In 1947 the  state purchased the land from a lumber company, making it Indiana’s 15th state park.

There is much to see, but in Shades I prefer to settle into one area and allow my imagination to roam. Yesterday I selected Devil’s Punch Bowl … and came away summer-refreshed.




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In my ’80s

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

While daughter Lali and her family vacation in the West, I am property-sitting, which is much easier and fun than baby-sitting. The five-acre property, known in the neighborhood as Winter Wood (after a former owner George Winter whose name is on a marker by Lye Creek) edges what is now called Darlington Woods, which is managed by Purdue University.) A stone road leads to two other small properties. The road once crossed over Lye Creek, but it’s now gone and the county is unable to replace it. 

I’m touched once again with the deep sense of rural life. At this moment — 8:30 PM — I can hear no traffic noise. A small plane is just now flying rather high overhead. Corn is still growing, so I hear no tractors.  Radio and TV could be a link to urban life — if I turned them on which I haven’t. My one neighborly contact was the purchase of two ears of corn from the Hole family for my dinner.

The work that I offered to do is identified on a sheet of paper.

— feed and water the cats and dog

— take the weekly run to the recycling center

— spray several of the plants with a deer-hating scent

— water the seedlings if it doesn’t rain

— tell the kitchen staff if any boxes arrive

There is no rule against my adding to the list, so it’s been my pleasure to empty one of the compost silos and spread the material on a row where it can be conveniently turned. I am incorporating into the bio-degrading material a bit of top soil. 

Another volunteer task is weed-whacking which, on a five-acre lot is a never-ending task. Today while edging around a tree I came within eight six feet of a hornet nest, built quite low to the ground. Fortunately I didn’t get stung.


Tomorrow I hope to attach sweet potato vines and tomato vines to string cables, which greatly reduces the amount of garden space used by these two crops. 

A drive in the country may be this:  an old barn … donkeys fenced into an two acres of grass … Cornstalk Creek … corn fields with a seed company sign (Becks, Asgrow, Dekalb) … a small property with a big truck, indicating that someone in the family hauls corn … Lost Creek … a 250 acre field of soybeans … a rural delivery ice cream truck … Indian Creek … New Hope Church … at the end of the lane a table, an umbrella and a sign “sweet corn for sale,” … a house tyvek-ed perhaps years ago … a sign “Jamestown, 15 miles.”


In my ’80s

Monday, July 23, 2018

Rumination shared.

A private person maintains a huge warehouse of words not spoken. If the management of that warehouse may be called “logistics,” that role consists largely of gatekeeping. It is no burden for the private person to live with a mainly closed gate. 

When does the logistical task call for opening the gate — that is, what are the circumstances for a private person to show and tell?  The question is complicated by what we commonly call self-disclosure. Some private people, of course not all, prefer a minimum of self-disclosure. To convey information about someone else can seem that much more onerous. But many people manage information and especially confidential information very well.

The private person, in this regard of fastidious control of “talk,” is joined by some public persons. That is, a gregarious person might have developed the skill in knowing what to say to whom under what circumstances. How that particular skill is developed — well it might be somewhat similar to the  logistical discipline of the private person. They have learned who needs to know what and when. 

I met such a person this week. By demeanor, this gentleman is in public. By profession this man hears many confidences. He has learned not to blab. But I don’t know how he learned that discipline. Was it through trial and error? Personal temperament? Reaction against people who broke confidentiality? 

The journalist faces contradictory demands — to tell some things and not to tell others. In fact, there may be professional rewards for being the first to tell. There may be legal consequences for telling everything.

In my ’80s I celebrate my enjoyment of reporting news, of telling stories, of sharing information and photographs; at the same time I feel substantial remorse for indiscretions labelled babbling. As I ruminate, I entertain the notion that a person who blabs hasn’t learned the A,B,C’s of logistical management of the information warehouse.