Tag Archives: summer

Children of the Corn

Indiana is corn central.  My little seven acre spread grows wildflowers, weeds, wildlife, trees, more weeds, grass, the flowers I try to put in to make the place look more manicured, lightening bugs, and a lot more weeds.  We have two garden areas we are starting to work on, but it’s not easy.  We don’t have farm equipment, we have garden equipment, and it makes the work harder and longer.  Farm equipment is very expensive, so for now, garden equipment it is.

All around us though, are farms.  Corn and soy beans are the two main crops, but this year we’ve noticed more wheat fields popping up.  Corn and soy bean prices are flat, so I suppose the farmers are branching out.  Immediately adjacent to our property on one side is a corn field.  It has to be GMO corn, because the corn fields of my childhood couldn’t hold a candle to these guys.  The stalks are about ten feet high, there’s barely any room between them and they are so glossy and green they look like plastic.

Last night my daughter and I walked over to the next door field and took some pictures.  I didn’t have either of my good cameras, so these are cell phone photos.  Some of them are pretty good quality, some of them not as much.  I hope you enjoy them.  🙂

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Giant clump of Queen Anne’s lace, weeds, and sticks at the end of a work area.
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Sunbeams shining through waning weeds.
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Corn, behind the weeds that are actually the main crop of the country.
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Queen Anne’s Lace, or pretty weeds.
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I grew up in the boonies, don’t remember corn roots looking quite this way.
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More root fingers.
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Corn tunnel.
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I have no idea what this is, but it was really tall and kind of pretty.
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Don’t really need to worry about he who walks behind the rows, cause he can’t get through them…
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Another angle on the corn tunnel.
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Baby corn starting, or is this where politicians come from?
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Just pretty.
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Country roads.
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Almost full moon over the corn.
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Soy beans across the road.
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soooo TALL!!!

I hope you’ve enjoyed my untouched cell phone pix.  I’ll have to take the camera out next time!

Have a great day, and please, be kind to someone.  Please.  🙂

Cades Cove, TN

We live about five hours from Gatlinburg, TN. If you’ve never been there, it’s a town just outside the entrance to the Great Smokey Mountains National Park. Gatlinburg has gone over the years, from being a sleepy little mountain town to a tourist mecca. It has a decidedly German flavor to many of the buildings and in the summer, there are beautiful flowers everywhere. I know lots of people don’t like tourist towns, and I often don’t like them either, but I like this one. It is a great gateway to the beautiful park, and inside that beautiful park is Cades Cove.

Cades Cove was a community way back in the mountains. Today, it is basically a museum of past Appalachian living. There are a few houses, some churches, a nice visitor center and a campground. We decided to take a bike ride on the loop road, and quickly discovered that it’s a lot hillier than we ever thought it was from the car. We had to bale, but in the meantime, I got some awesome photos.

A morning view from the Loop Road.
A morning view from the Loop Road.

We got there early, it was shady and cool. Suddenly, the sun rose all the way and the humidity began to creep up.

The boy beginning to realize that a black shirt was a bad choice...
The boy beginning to realize that a black shirt was a bad choice…
The Loop Road.
The Loop Road.

We realized that we were going to all die and dry up like empty corn husks if we kept going, so the sight of this cross-over road was a welcome sight.

Posts along the cut over road to chop that trip in less than half.
Posts along the cut over road to chop that trip in less than half.

The boy was in the worst shape because he had on a black shirt. My husband is the kind of person who trades us for crappy meals in restaurants, and will give you the shirt off his back. His shirt was NOT black and large enough to allow for air circulation when it was put on my son, so they traded shirts. I’m not sure if it shows well enough for you to tell, but that black shirt was TIGHT on the hubs. It was really funny, and a little embarrassing…

The hubs goofing off because the boy's shirt was too small for him, the boy dying.
The hubs goofing off because the boy’s shirt was too small for him, the boy dying.

Lesson learned from this? Just because you can handle an eight mile loop road bike ride on a perfectly flat island in Michigan when the temp is in the low 60’s, does NOT mean you can handle a loop road bike ride on a hilly, 80 degree, humid Tennessee morning. Just say no. The Cades Cove Loop Road is for cars. Use one.

Have a great day full of level walking/riding paths, cool temps and low humidity. Be nice 🙂

Book Opinion: Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen

When I was a teenager, my Mom and Dad and I went to Florida several times on vacation. We always drove and we always stopped at the Quality Inn in Valdosta, Georgia on the way down. This hotel screamed “The South” to me; plantation shutters, beautiful gardens, a pool that I loved and a small-ish, original to the property house all graced the place. We ALWAYS ate dinner at the Ho-Jo’s across the street then came back and my Mom and I would wander the grounds before my solo swimming sessions at the pool. Mom would sit there and watch me swim “in case something happened” but she would’ve not been much help if something HAD happened because she couldn’t swim. My Dad would usually stay in the room smoking and watching t.v.

Even though we always only stayed there one night because we were just passing through, I loved that place. I entertained some of my most vivid Gone With the Wind fantasies inside my head as my Mom and I walked the grounds. I kept waiting for Rhett Butler to come around a bend and fall in love with me, and beautiful girls in hoop skirts to be flirting with handsome boys at a barbeque on the lawn. I loved it so much that when I grew up, I wanted to stop there with MY family, so one year when my daughter was little, we got off the highway and went to the hotel. It was some other chain by then, but the plantation shutters, gardens, pool and house were still there. They were shabbier than they had been and I realized that the property was literally RIGHT next to the highway. When I was a child, the grounds had been so lush that you couldn’t SEE the highway, so I had no idea. It was a little chilly, so we couldn’t get in the pool, which was disappointing, and if it had been warm, I would never have let my baby in it anyway because it wasn’t really clean and THAT was disappointing. The Ho-Jo’s was gone as were Rhett and the rest of the gang and THAT was disappointing. The whole experience left me feeling let down and I was glad to leave the next morning. The only way I’ll ever go back is if I win the Power Ball and go buy it and return it to it’s former glory, so when I heard about Sarah Addison Allen’s new book Lost Lake, I felt that I might be able to relate.

Sarah Addison Allen is one of my favorite authors. I have all of her books and I love them all. They are all lyrical, and a little magical. One of her books has a protagonist who enchants with her baked goods, another book has mysterious lights in a garden. They are lovely, beautiful stories, and Lost Lake is no different.

Kate is a young widow with a daughter named Devin, and a mother-in-law named Cricket. After the loss of her husband, Kate “goes to sleep” for a year. When she finally snaps out of it just as she is about to take her daughter and move in with Cricket, she finds a postcard from her great-aunt Eby who owns a lake resort in southern Georgia. Eby is the last relative Kate has, and on a whim, Kate decides to load Devin into the car and drive down to visit Eby who she had only met once, when as a child, she and her family had spent several weeks at Lost Lake.

When Kate arrives at the lake, it is obvious that time has taken it’s toll. The property has fallen into disrepair, the guests who summered there for years are aging out of coming back, and Eby has decided to sell and retire. During the course of her visit, Kate reconnects with people she met before as well as meets a whole new cast of characters. Without giving too much away, there is a mute French woman, a ghost in a chair, a ghost alligator, a mystery, and a lovely man to occupy her time.

Lost Lake is a beautiful story about families, new beginnings, endings, tying up loose ends, grief in many of it’s forms, forgiveness, understanding, letting go of the past and embracing the future. You can’t go home again, but you CAN use your past to make your life move forward. Sometimes ghosts can help you learn how to go on. I enjoyed reading this book in the middle of winter, because it transported me to summer; to cool drinks by the water, lanterns in the trees and dancing in the moonlight. Thank you Sarah Addison Allen for giving me another beautiful story to think about and another book to add to my stack. It’s a keeper.

Have a great day and read a great book 🙂

Wouldn’t You Like To Be A Teacher Too? Probably Not…

I’m going to do a soapbox here and I generally don’t do that kind of post, so forgive me in advance.

I am a substitute teacher.  I have been teaching kids in some capacity pretty much constantly since I was about 20 years old.  I have taught everybody from preschoolers to college freshmen, and I feel the need to address a few “issues” regarding teachers.

Issue #1

Teachers don’t work during the summer.

Teachers DO work during the summer.  Planning for next year.  It takes the entire summer just about, to re-do lessons based on curriculum changes and beaurocrats in the education system.  Nobody can leave well enough alone.  Ever.  So everything changes a lot from year to year.  The only time teachers can do this work is during the summer.  During our “break.”

Issue #2

All they do is teach kids, how hard can that be?

Yes, we teach your little darlings five days per week for about nine months of the year.  Roughly 30 of them at a time in elementary school, well over 100 different kids per day if you teach middle or high school where the kids change classes.  Please remember the feelings of relief all you non-teachers get when school starts again in the fall, or when you put little Jenny or Joey on the bus in the morning.  WE take your kids all day every day and teach them academics, social skills and control.  We hug them and tie their shoes and band-aid their owies.  We give them part of our lunch when you forget to feed them in the morning or forget to send lunch or money, or if the school lunch is gross and lets face it, school lunches definitely tend to have a gross factor.  We spend our own money to stock our rooms with things that will help your kid learn.  We often spend our own money when we have a student who needs a notebook or pencils and you can’t or don’t provide it for them.  We dry tears, cheer for them and cry our own tears for them at night when we think about the ones with hard home lives or if one of them is sick, or hurt, or bullied.

Teaching is incredibly hard, physically, emotionally, spiritually.  If I took home all the wounded ones I’ve seen over the years, they’d be stacked up like cord wood in my house and I’d have to change my last name to Duggar and/or get a couple of sister wives.

Issue #3

Teachers don’t care, they are only teachers so they get the summers off.

See issues 1 and 2 above for your answer.

These are only a few of the issues I’ve heard people talking about lately.  There are a million more.  I get irritated when I hear people talk about how teachers make too much money.  Again, the kids that so many of the parents out there can’t wait to send back to school, come to us in droves day after day.  We are expected to make sure they do well on standardized tests, make good grades and have friends and don’t pick on others.  We are expected to be sweet and kind and gentle.  We are expected to maintain a constant level of understanding and patience, for thirty kids at once, when SOME, not all but SOME of the parents we see regularly, can’t maintain those qualities at home with only a couple of kids who are related to them by blood.

We live in a culture where no one thinks a thing of someone like George Clooney making millions of dollars for pretending to be other people in largely crappy movies.  We live in a society where sports athletes who play GAMES for a living are paid millions of dollars, and on their off time, get into bar fights, DUI accidents and drug deals gone wrong, get their hands slapped and keep getting their big bucks.  We live in a culture where teachers and nurses make fifty thousand dollars a year and when all is said and done, pay about half of their salaries to taxes and union dues and fees, only to find out that the people who WORK FOR THEM (ostensibly), i.e. elected officials etc. earn four times more than their bosses (us) and then have the balls to tell us we need to do more because they have screwed up.  We live in a culture where vice and bad behavior makes you popular and well paid.  We live in a culture where a teacher can lose their career for something they do outside of work that has nothing to do with school, but a politician can embezzle money and hide it in their freezer for years and then get re-elected.  The world is upside down.

The next time you trash teachers as a whole, stop and think for a second that maybe the problem is the system, or parents who don’t take care of their kids.  Yes, there are some bad teachers, just like there are some bad people, but overall, we are not bad.  We try so hard to take care of your kids and teach them what they need to know.  We get attached to your kids, I dare say, we come to love them and it breaks our hearts when a child begs us not to tell you when they are in trouble because they are afraid of what you will do to them when they get home.  It breaks our hearts when first and second graders come to school and tell us all about the violent, sex-filled horror movie they watched last night with their parents.  We really do care, we really do work very hard and what we do really DOES matter.  I’m not complaining about the low pay, or the long hours or the heartache.  Every single one of us knew what we were getting into and all of us did it gladly.  We don’t ask for much in return, maybe just a little respect would be nice.

So, be kind to one another, including the teachers in your life.  You don’t need to give us a gift, we’d be happy with a smile, we love it when a parent says thank-you, you’ve made a difference to my child.  Have a great night and the countdown to summer continues, eight more days. 🙂

Letting Kids Be Kids

I just read an article on some parenting blog about letting kids be kids.  For some reason I find it sad that modern parents need to be instructed in that.  It gave helpful tips like, let your kid play in the summer.  Send them outside.  Let them catch lightning bugs.  Limit extracurricular activities to no more than one or two per season.  Really?  People don’t already know that?

When I was a kid, my job was school.  I took dancing lessons, but my job was school.  My mom gave me plenty of time to just be.  I read a lot, and did art projects a lot.  My older brother dragged countless large refrigerator boxes home for me behind his bike, that he would promptly carve windows and doors into for me and presto-chango, I had my own house.  My grandma played cards with me and it’s a good thing that the money she provided for betting was pennies, otherwise she would’ve gone broke, because I was pretty good.

Summers were even better.  I ate breakfast, got on my bike and left.  Granted it was the 1970’s and the chances of someone stealing me from my small town were less than the chances of your kid being stolen by a pervert today, but when I say I left, I mean I left.  My mom told me to be back when the church bells rang 5:00 and that is when I went home.  I would eat dinner and go back out til about 11.  At night.  In the dark.  With friends.  It was AWESOME!!  I was skinny and tan and healthy.  My hair would be so blonde at the end of summer that I was accused of dyeing it from about the age of nine or ten.  We rode bikes, went to the pool, hung out in the cemetery (hey, it was pretty and shady and quiet, don’t judge me).  We played in the woods, looked for glass bottles to turn in at Green Valley to finance our snack jones and generally had a blast.

By the time school started I was excited to go back because I was bored.  I had participated in zero extracurricular activities, and had not seen a great number of my friends.  The friends that I did see lived in town, not in the country.  Going back to school was being reintroduced to everyone and everything.  I remember how excited I always was to bring my stack of books home to cover and show my mom.  We also didn’t start school til after Labor Day, so hot school days in the fall were limited, because well, it was almost fall, not the middle of summer.

The world today is full of wonderful opportunities.  We are all much more connected to each other and to the rest of humanity than we ever have been before.  There are more ways to make a living, more tv channels, more electronic gadgets and more ways to learn to dance or play soccer or volleyball or football.  On the flip side, kids are fatter, bullying is now impossible to escape because it is on the internet, we have no privacy because everyone carries a camera with them in their phones everywhere they go, we can’t get away from the world because we are always connected via those phones and we are constantly bombarded by news.  The twenty-four hour news cycle has driven everyone crazy.

Here’s my idea.  In the summer, no extracurriculars.  No special lessons for elementary kids, and limited stuff for older kids.  Face it mom and dad, your kid, in all likelihood is not Micheal Jordan, or insert famous person name here.  Let them enjoy being kids.  Let them get bored.  Give them time to read for pleasure (and it’s ok if it’s a comic book).  Let them play cowboys and indians, or war, or house, or pioneers or Harry Potter.  Read them old stories and take them places that will stimulate their imaginations.  Give them a big plastic box full of paint, markers, paper, glue and stuff to create with and let them go to town.  Give them cap guns and Barbies.  Cap guns won’t make them murderers and Barbie won’t give them bulemia.  Give them their dad’s old army backpack, a jar of water and a sleeve of saltines (with salt on them) and let them go crawl through the mud on their bellies to win WW II or kill terrorists.  Let them play.  Let them imagine the world and the future.  Play is how kids learn to be.  It’s how they gain independence.  Structured, adult led lessons, do not give kids the chance to expand their minds and learn how to think.  It makes them think and be what the adults want them to be and think.  Adult life is hard, let them be carefree for as long as they can.  School is hard.  Let them decompress over the summer.  They are not going to end up in the projects if you don’t make them do homework all summer.   If you burn them out when they’re little, when it really counts, they won’t be able to function.

I have to stop writing now, because I have to put together a bug out kit for my son.  There are rumors that there are coyotes roaming the ten feet of woods in my back yard and he needs to go vanquish the varmints.  One last thing.  Get your kid a big dog or two and let them bond.  Dogs seem to enjoy playing interesting games too.  It’s summer, relax and catch the lightning bugs and remember the first bit of water out of the hose is not fit for drinking because it is hot.  Let it run for a minute or so, the environment will survive and so will you AND your kids.