Monday, April 30, 2012

Settling In

We have moved.  From the dry, sunny climate of the Texas Panhandle, we have moved to the woods and lakes of East Texas.  It is cooler and it is humid. 

We have trees and green and blooming flowers all around us.  This might take a little getting used to!  It's gonna be tough though, my eyes are assaulted by the colors every time I look outside.

Our backyard is very inviting.  We have a nice patio with a planter that we have turned into a miniature garden.  We have tomatoes and jalapeno peppers planted and they are almost ready to set on blooms.

We also have a huge tree.  I will post a photo of it at the bottom of this post.  I have rarely seen trees this large.  We had some friends stop   by on Saturday as they passed through and when they got out of their pickup truck the first remark was about the size of the tree in the back yard.

In the early morning our backyard is a great place to watch the squirrels and birds.  Not much better than to sip a cup of coffee and watch the critters.  We can even see a squirrel nest up in the tree.  Occasional you will see a head stick out momentarily.

But, there are still many things yet to find a place in our new home.  Some are still in boxes and others sitting in temporary places.  There are also many pictures yet to find a place.  We won't mention the garage.

We are making progress though.  The people here have been great so far.  We met many of them at church yesterday.  We even met a couple that were originally from my home town.  It's definitely a small world.....


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Earth Day 2012

I'm not a treehugger.  I don't worship Gaia.  I don't believe in preservation of the natural state at the expense of humanity.

I do consider myself to be environmentally conscious.  I believe in God who the Bible tells us created this earth and then gave us the responsibility for it and everything in it.  I believe that implies conservation which is the wise utilization of resources, not preservation which implies non-use of resources.

So what.

We live in a world gone crazy where a minnow is considered more important than a human.  We abort human babies and spend millions of dollars to study the decline of an insect.  We build country estates on prime farm and ranch land, force agriculture overseas to countries who do not have the technological know-how to produce as much from their land as we do and don't have the infrastructure to get their products to market and then watch as people starve in other countries because of corrupt governments, lack of agricultural infrastructure and shortage of food because of perverse political motives.

We see rhinos killed for their horns so that wealthy Asians can grind them into powder and make a magic cure-all.  We see elephants destroyed for their tusks for who-knows what purpose.  We see other wildlife poached to extinction -- and it's all for the sake of the almighty dollar.  Then, in a misguided attempt to save an animal, we protect feral horses running on public lands until they over-populate and die of starvation.

There's a balance somewhere.

Common sense no longer is common.

Instead of the extremism of opposing views on these issues, there is an answer somewhere in the middle.  To achieve that will require reasoned dialogue driven by statesmen, not ideologues.  Ah, but therein is the real problem.  I sometimes wonder if we have allowed statesmen to become extinct.  They have been replaced by an invading species driven by greed and motivated purely by self-interest.  It's time to cultivate a few statesmen.  Hmmm.....that brings up an interesting thought; cultivation is part of conservation, not preservation.  If left in its natural state, the desired species are often crowded out by the weeds.  It's time to do a little cultivating......(Bet you didn't realize this was going to be a political statement did you?)

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Kutcher and Country Music

I love the uproar surrounding the appearance of Ashton Kutcher on the Academy of Country Music Awards program to present Female Vocalist of the Year.  It is refreshing in a way.  Whether he was spoofing the genre or perhaps providing a subtle reminder that country music has strayed from its roots is immaterial.  He had one of the most authentic hats that I saw all night.

Country music is many things.  Like other genres, it is constantly evolving and spinning off other musical styles.  What we call country music today is much like the rock-and-roll of some years back.  It really doesn't matter.  It has evolved until today it appeals to a much wider audience than ever before.

I have seen stories in the media talking about people like Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash and Hank Williams being "real" country.  The writers must be young because those guys were all outlaws in their time.  They were far outside the mainstream of country music. 

I have also seen similar stories about how country music is about drinking beer and raising hell and tractors and pickup trucks.  One line even listed "corn bales" as being country.  Ummm.....if you are clueless about country life, don't comment on it.  It would be "cotton bales" not "corn bales."

Country music is about values common to rural folk.  Well, guess what.  Those values are changing.  God and country are still at the heart of most people in rural America, but, popular culture has seeped into its very pores.  What it boils down to is that the "country" -- or rural America -- of the 50's and 60's isn't the country of today.

Country music isn't just about agriculture.  It isn't just about rural living.  It is about the heart of the people.  I think the greatest measure of a people's heart is what appeals to it.  Bottom line, country music appeals to more hearts today than ever before.  That appeal translates to money.  That's why Mercedes Benz and BMW cars are more common in Nashville than the Toyota Pickup trucks that are manufactured on the Murphreesboro Pike just southeast of the city.  Hmmm......maybe that's the key right there.  Perhaps they should move all the country musicians to Amarillo.