i A Time and a Place...: January 2007

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

I Almost Forgot, I'm a Poet First...

I went to a blog today and read the writer either is or wants to be a poet and it occurred to me I haven't posted a poem in a long while. I believe I posted this one probably a year ago but I'll do it again.

My father-in-law was talking once about 'love apples' and it occurred to me I might write a poem about them. It was only later that I remembered that a love apple is a tomato. By then the deed had been done; the poem written. So, here it is.

Love Apple

Winesap and Johnnie and Red Roman Beauty,
These fruits are so sweet and so firm and so round-
You must bend down the limb, pick them off while their growing
Or they'll shrivel and die and fall off on the ground.

The tree is their Father , the Earth is their Mother,
The limbs get their life from the rain and the sun
And give birth to the leaves and the buds and the blossoms
And love apples grow when the cycle is done.

When they're tender and tasty and they're just right for plucking,
If you gently caress them and you pick them with care-
They will nourish and fill you and their juice will enrich you,
But if the blossoms are crushed all the tree will be bare.

You must tend to the roots where the life blood is starting,
To enrichen the soil, you must spread it around,

Because there's nothing as sad as an aging love apple

That has withered and died and fallen off on the ground.

Friday, January 26, 2007

I Wonder--Really!...

I think this is good enough to put on both blogs:

Joe Smith started the day early having set his alarm clock (MADE IN JAPAN) for 6am.

While his coffeepot (MADE IN CHINA) was perking, he shaved with his electric razor (MADE IN HONG KONG).

He put on a dress shirt (MADE IN SRI LANKA), designer jeans (MADE IN SINGAPORE) and tennis shoes (MADE IN KOREA).

After cooking his breakfast in his new electric skillet (MADE IN INDIA) he sat down with his calculator (MADE INMEXICO) to see how much he could spend today.

After setting his watch (MADE IN TAIWAN) to the radio (MADE IN INDIA) he got in his car (MADE IN GERMANY) filled it with GAS from Saudi Arabia and continued his search for a good paying AMERICAN JOB.

At the end of yet another discouraging and fruitless day checking his Computer (Made In Malaysia) (with tech support in INDIA), Joe decided to relax for a while.
He put on his sandals (MADE IN BRAZIL) poured himself a glass of wine (MADE IN FRANCE! France!!) and turned on his TV (MADE IN INDONESIA), and then wondered why he can't find a good paying job in.. AMERICA.....


Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Pick 'em, Put 'em in a Bucket, Box 'em...

I think this might be a cute post for some of you city folks!

This is a photo of Grandma dumping and sorting peaches from her picking bag into the lugs.

First, we get out of bed at 6:00 o’clock AM. Then we get dressed, making sure we wear a shirt with long sleeves and tight cuffs. (even though it will be 90 degrees outside today-I’ll explain later) When we leave, we usually wear headgear of some kind; the men, hats and the women, scarves or, as with Grandma, wide brimmed hats. We eat a good breakfast, usually biscuits and gravy with bacon or sausage, or hotcakes and sugar syrup with a cup of boiled coffee.

Then we drive to the orchard and get a picking bag or a bucket and ladder. The picking bag has a wide strap at the top that goes around the picker's neck so the bag hangs in front and it opens by flaps at the bottom so the picker can fill it up then open it over a box so the fruit rolls out into the box.
The bucket is about a four or five gallon and has a wire handle with a hook in the middle and the ladders are eight to twelve footers. The bags are always used by the grownups who have to climb the trees so they can have both hands free to climb, hold onto the ladder or limb and pick the fruit.

We are, of course, picking peaches. Most peaches we picked went to the Tri Valley Cannery right there in Modesto.

*As an aside, I remember when I used to walk to town from my house on South Conejo Avenue to go to the show or wherever else I went,- I walked usually North on Conejo to Monterey, West to Empire Avenue then North until I got to Yosemite Boulevard, then West toward town.

Yosemite Boulevard was the main street into Modesto on the East side of town. Tri Valley Cannery was on Yosemite Boulevard, just across Dry Creek. I always walked that way because there were always lugs of peaches, huge yellow clings, with ice all over them sitting alongside the road and I always grabbed a couple of them when I went by. No one ever said anything about me taking a couple. Maybe they never saw me do it. 'Yum'...

In 1942-43-44 and 45 there was nothing sweeter or more refreshing than a large, yellow ice cold cling peach to eat on a hot summer day! That was as good as chasing the ice truck and grabbing a chunk of ice off the tailgate to suck on in the 100 degree days! Better than getting a chunk of melted tar from the pavement to chew on! What a life!*

Much of the typical peach picking crews are made up of entire families. We take a set of trees, usually a square of four or six in two rows. We all pick on every tree and the kids and older women move around the trees to pick the bottoms while the men and younger women use the ladder to get the fruit from the top and inside the branches. In later years, trees have been “topped” as they are pruned to stay shorter and more open at the top so light can get in.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself. First we have to plant and grow the trees. Peach trees are set out into orchard plats, usually at least fifteen (?) feet apart to allow for growth. They are flooded to water and after they begin to grow, they have to be hoed to keep weeds out.
I’m a bit vague on this part of raising peaches because I was never involved in the “growing” part of peaches.

The peach trees blossom in the early spring and farmers have to watch them carefully and sometimes use smudge pots placed around and through the orchard to prevent frost from ruining the blossoms. After the buds turn to fruit, usually in the third or so year, the fruit should be thinned by removing some of it so the rest can get more nutrition and grow larger.

After the trees begin to produce fruit, in the winter they should be pruned; i.e., some limbs and ‘runners’ cut off to insure sunlight gets into the bottom part of the tree and the other limbs get adequate nutrition. And sometimes, if the fruit is very heavy on the limbs, that limb is propped up with a long, narrow board. ‘whew’
There’s more to growing but I know more about the “fun” part, that is, the picking.

OK, I got dressed, washed my hands and face in a wash pan of water that had been heated on the stove, ate breakfast and now we head to the peach orchard.

The roads aren’t very wide at most orchards so people usually drive in from one direction and out the other way. We find the boss and park under trees that have been picked already. (or just out of the way)Each family tries to be first there so they get the best trees, most heavily loaded with fruit.

We get our set of trees, usually four or six in two rows, pick up a bucket or a bag each and a couple of ladders for the family and the kids start on the bottom of the tree and the grownups climb the ladders and get the tops and middles.

We have to be careful to not pick fruit that is still green. The bosses will check the fruit to be sure it is all ripe enough. Our whole family has been educated as to how ripe and how big the fruit is to be harvested. We have a metal ring that we use to measure the fruit for size. If a peach goes through the ring, it’s too small to pick. That’s called, “ringing” it. ‘duh’

We pick the fruit into the bucket that has a metal handle with a hook on it so it can be hung on a limb or on our ladder or into the picking bag. When the bucket or bag is full, it is dumped into a peach box, called a ‘lug’. The weight of the lug of peaches is 45 pounds. The box is called a 45 pound lug. With a piece of chalk, we mark the end of the lug with our name or the number we were assigned. We prefer to pick clingstone peaches (clings) rather than freestones because we don’t need to be as careful with them since they’re mostly going to the cannery to be canned. ‘yummy!’
As a lug is filled, the boxes are stacked in rows, usually four or five high, along the road between each odd row. A man drives a truck along the road and checks each lug as he hands it up to another man who loads it onto a flatbed truck. Each box must be loaded right up to the top, checked for too green fruit and ringed for size, to be accepted. If he finds one not up all the way, he takes peaches out of another box to finish it and leaves that box to be re-filled. That short box is usually quickly filled so all lugs can be taken. It’s a fast operation. If he can't take it while he is here, we have to carry it to wherever he is when we finish the box.
We have a punch card the driver punches out to record how many boxes we have. At the end of the day or job, we go to the boss and he counts the punches in the card and pays us for them.

We usually pick until noon or so and try to stop for lunch about the same time as everyone else in that orchard. Everyone tries to finish his trees at the same time because we will then move on to another orchard together.

OK, we’ve picked, eaten lunch and picked some more. As anyone who has picked peaches well knows, peaches are covered with very fine stiff hairs called, “Peach Fuzz.” It is a hot day and at the end of the hot, sweaty day, we are covered with dirt and peach fuzz and itching like blazes. Now you can see why we wear long sleeve shirts with tight cuffs and a collar that can be buttoned tightly; to keep out the peach fuzz!

Now for the other fun part.
If we’re lucky, there is an irrigation canal nearby. If not, we find one that is running with water. When we do, all the kids and most of the grownups jump into the canal of ice cold water, clothes and all! Some folks even bring their soap bars with them. This is how we wash our clothes, bathe and get rid of the peach fuzz, all at the same time! It’s the best part of the day and, with any luck, our wet clothes will be dry by the time we get home.
Then, tomorrow’s another day and we do it all over again! Them was, indeed, the good old days and I sure miss them; but not too much! ‘Chuckle’


Thursday, January 18, 2007

California Governor At Work...

California Poll

The latest telephone poll taken by the Governor of California yielded results on whether or not people who live in California think illegal immigration is a serious problem:

31% of the respondents answered: "Yes, it is a serious problem."

69% of the respondents answered: "No es un problema serioso!"


Thanks to Miz Griz...

My Peculiar Aristocratic Title is:
Very Sir Lord James the Eldritch of Bumpstead under Carpet
Get your Peculiar Aristocratic Title

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

A Detective Story,-Chapter Eight...

Here is another chapter in the life and adventures of Detective 3rd Grade, Ann Barton, of Tulla City, Ohio. Just follow the Link to a great adventure with more to come!


It Just Never Stops, Does It?...

Chico the Wonder Dog went to Doggie Heaven, my favorite Uncle passed on, my favorite Aunt passed on, my wife got her hair cut short and now, my 2003 Special Edition Rodeo Dodge Ram 2500 pickup truck with the 360 Cummins Diesel Turbo Charged Engine, five speed transmission and a Jake Brake has gone to live with someone else.

It just never stops, does it?


Saturday, January 13, 2007

Do It Anyway...

I read this today on a “Just Being Me” post of June and think it deserves to be passed on.

"I read this today and found it very meaningful. It is so true, sadly, yet I found it very encouraging to my soul. It also put things into perspective."

Do It Anyway

People are often unreasonable, Illogical, and self-centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, People may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, You will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, People may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, Someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, They may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, People will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, And it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you've got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, It is between you and God;

It never was between you and them anyway.

Be Blessed,
-- Mother Theresa


Thursday, January 11, 2007

Time Never Stops-A Wonderful Man Has Gone To Heaven...

My Uncle Truman Johnson died a few days ago. He lived in Longview, Texas. He was 93 years old.

Uncle Truman was the third child of nine children of Lily and Ab Johnson. He was the second oldest boy. He had been married to the same woman, Bernice, for 70 years. I guess they liked each other a lot.

Uncle Truman was a favorite relative of mine. He was a tall man, over six feet and a bundle of energy. Lately he had slowed down some and moved into an assisted living home. That was where he was living when he died.

He came to my home in Orland, California in 1996 with my Mother who lived in Modesto. I could have driven to Modesto to see him but he wanted to come to Orland. He was 82 years old at the time. Mom was 89.

We had a nice visit. He told me of some adventures he had when he was younger. He is the one who told me that our ancestors, the Brummetts, freed their slaves when they moved to Texas in 1850s. They started a ranch there and the folks who had been slaves, stayed on and continued to work for them. Aunt Lola who is another favorite relative of mine (she has since passed on) says Uncle Truman was full of it. I'm not sure whom to believe but I lean toward Aunt Lola. But, you never know.
I gave him a copy of a cassette tape that I had copied off a reel to reel tape I made in 1958 with Grandma and Grandpa's voices on it. He was thrilled.

Uncle Truman was quite a guy and he was from quite a family. They were into cattle, railroads, oil, peach picking, grape cutting, cotton picking and a whole lot more. Uncle Curly was a Texas lawman in Longview; Uncle Bill was killed in the big war; Uncle Truman was with the railroad; Uncle Frank was a peach and cotton picker and an activist for welfare recipients in Modesto and I won't even go into what the girls were into.

Uncle Truman's family was quite a group. Even with all he had in common with his brothers and sisters, he was one of a kind and we're sure gonna miss him.


Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Remembering the Big Flood, et al...

It was the year of our Lord, 1948 or 1949 when the big flood hit Modesto. The Tuolumne River began rising around the second week of December and by the time Christmas came around, quite a few houses had floated down that River. I know because I watched them from the hill at the top of the hill where Empire Avenue starts down toward the river.

My friends and I also watched a house float by while we were at Hillside Drive at the south end of Conejo Avenue. On down to the river is Legion Park. There is a bathroom and shower rooms there and they all were completely under water.

We watched two boys in a boat row out to one house and try to get inside it. It was just before Christmas and we heard later that someone had stolen Christmas presents from a couple of the houses. I'm not sure that was the truth but we believed it then.

There was a boy that went to Roosevelt Junior High School when I did who drew wonderful pictures of muscle men. I was never good with a pencil and I really admired him for his talent. He was a nice guy and his parents came from somewhere back east along about the middle of the school year.
He was a sort of funny looking kid, a little chunky and with a weird haircut; it had been feathered a bit too much on the back and sides and it made his head look funny. He got some teasing for that but not from me. I took up for him a couple of times.

The reason I mention him is because of something that happened while I was watching the flood one day. It must have been on Saturday or Sunday because we weren't in school. (I can almost remember his name-Gary Coleman or something like that)

I was standing on the side of the road on Empire Avenue and this kid was standing right near me. His Dad was there, too. While we were talking, the kid poked the toe of his shoe into the dirt, sort of like a nervous tic. His Dad saw him do it and loudly told him to stop. He said the shoe wasn't a bulldozer and it cost money. The kids' face reddened and I told the man he shouldn't embarrass his son like that in front of his friends. He gave me a look and took the kids' hand and they left.

I saw the kid later in school but neither of us ever mentioned what had happened. We never had been close friends so it didn't really matter.

It's strange that I would remember that incident. That's the way it goes, I guess.


A Strange Thing Happened...

Just Kidding!


Sunday, January 07, 2007

A strange thing happened to me today...

A strange thing happened to me today. So strange that I hesitate to even tell about because I know someone will think I am losing it for sure. But I feel I should tell about it anyhow, maybe for the sake of someone else as well as myself.

I was sitting at my computer and had just entered a sentence onto a word document, just a letter of no importance to someone who is also of no importance. Then a weird thing happened. First I felt a small twinge in my head, not much, just a little twinge, kind of like a dizzy spell. Then (and you’re not going to believe this) the letters of the sentence began going away, backwards, just as they had been put onto the paper.

I was puzzled, thinking the computer was screwing up or something. And I was having trouble thinking straight. I started to get up from the chair and really freaked out. When I tried to arise, I stood up and pushed the chair backward and walked backward to the kitchen.
What the hell is going on, I remembered thinking. I decided to go into the bathroom and look in the mirror to assure myself I wasn’t dreaming.

Then, without making any effort to, I picked up a water glass and lifted it to my lips and half filled it with water and then held the water glass under the tap and watched the water flow back up into the tap. Then I sat the glass down and walked backward to the bathroom and turned and looked into the mirror.

I recognized myself as being real and awake, not sleeping, and I felt a small panic begin to come over me. What was happening? Why was everything going backward? Am I crazy or is God punishing me for something?

That last question must have done it because I again felt a small twinge in my head, just a tiny dizziness and when I looked into the mirror, I was moving forward. It, whatever ‘it’ is, was over. For some stupid reason I tried then to walk backward and almost tripped over a throw rug that is on the floor.

What a relief! I was almost giddy; knowing that whatever had happened to me was over. At least, I hope it’s over. Not a full day has passed yet since ‘the thing’ happened to me. I don’t know what happened, I only hope it never happens again.


Tuesday, January 02, 2007

It's The Year Of Our Lord, 2007.....

It is a new year; 2007! I have decided to celebrate the coming of the new year with a few of my favorite poems. I hope you enjoy them, too! Happy New Year!

One of my favorites is an excerpt from a beautiful poem written by William Wordsworth named,


SHE dwelt among the untrodden ways

Beside the springs of Dove,

A Maid whom there were none to praise

And very few to love:

A violet by a mossy stone

Half hidden from the eye!

Fair as a star, when only one

Is shining in the sky.

She lived unknown, and few could know

When Lucy ceased to be;

But she is in her grave, and oh,

The difference to me!

The next is a poem of my own. Actually it was written to be a song but all songs are poems, just without the music. Enjoy.

Toy Telephone

Once there was a toy telephone.

I miss my playmate since she has gone away,

She's gone away and left me all alone.

Now I can't see her to ask her out to play

so I'll call her on my toy telephone.

I really miss her and want her to come back;

Without her I'm so blue and all alone.

I think she'll change her mind if I can tell her how I feel

So I'll call her on my toy telephone.

We had a quarrel, you know how children are,

When playing house they sometimes dis-agree.

But now I'm lonely and I promise I'll be good

If only she'll come back and play with me.

But if I cannot reach her, I'll leave a message there,

And tell her that I need her here at home,

For playing house is not the same without my favorite girl

So I'll call her on my toy telephone.
Once there was a toy telephone.

In good conscience I cannot leave out a Quatrain from Omar Khayyams Rubaiyat that pics my fancy. Ah, but if only Paradise were indeed, enow!

A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,

A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread---and Thou

Beside me singing in the Wilderness--

Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!

And last but not in the least, least, is a little missile I constructed while abiding in Shingletown, being bored one day. I hope it gets you right in the heart!

How Great Can This Love Be

How great can this love be that breaks your heart

but leaves you smiling through your tears

And tells you, " Find another

and the pain and sorrow you will soon forget."

If putting on a smile and saying,

"Soon I'll find another one to Love,"

will get you through the tempest then,

believe me, child, you haven't known love yet!