Monday, July 25, 2011

Back to Black

I often wonder what happens to talented young people when they hit their twenties.   They've been told all their lives how wonderful they are, their art, their music, their intellect is so far above the norm that they  stand out in the crowd. They not only stand out, they stand head and shoulders above it.   When does that constant idolization of family and then new made fans become not  enough?  It seems that suddenly the more bizarre the behaviour the more outrageous the appearance the less the  talent shines.  I first heard Amy Winehouse several years ago.  I can't remember what she was singing,  it may have been Back to Black or You Sent me Flying...but her smokey jazz voice brought a faraway feel to the heart.  You could listen to her, close  your eyes and imagine yourself in a speak easy of the 30's or or in a front row seat at a high class night club.  If you glanced behind you there would be other patrons dressed to the nines, band box bright.  And through it all, Amy's voice was the tenuous thread keeping you rooted to  the dream.  Hers was not a rock voice, it was mellow and liquid and had she not fallen on drug addiction we would be listening to her long into the century. 
There was another artist I admired, also not a country artist, not a jazz singer...a rock singer like almost no other.  Janice Joplin lived life high and hard from the beginning, it seems.  Of course the one I remember her for the most was Me and Bobby McGee...Janice could belt out a song like no body's business and when she was gone, there was no one like her ever again.   She too was twenty seven years old.  She too couldn't kick the habits of her youth.  She too was missed almost immediately, her record sales going up.  Like Amy's.  Amy's record sales have gone through the roof.  That's because there will be no more, no more smokey throated liquid lyrics sometimes emotional, sometimes slightly vulgar sometimes to vulgar for airplay, but no more all the same.  I wish that the love and adoration of family and fans had been enough.  I hope that lessons of her shattered life will serve as a warning for others in the same position.  Sadly, it won't be.

Monday, July 11, 2011

How many pecks in a bushel?

Last year, Mac said he wasn't going to plant so many tomatoes.  This was after our tomatoes were like zuchini in that we couldn't give them away.  I canned and froze tomatoes and wrapped green ones in newspaper and stored them in the pantry.  We were eating tomatoes at Thanksgiving.  He grows some really great ones in these things he call "growtainers".  They hold two plants each.  He has four of them.  The tomatoes get to be softball and bigger size.  They make great sink sandwiches.  He has the makings for four more of these growtainers out there.  Okay, so that's eight tomato plants already bearing.  But wait!  He has nearly an acre planted in melons, beans,  Armendian melons (a great cucumber), eggplant and peppers...we have strawberries (still putting on fruit) and YES we have TOMATOES.  There are Celebrity,  Mortgage Lifter (three different varieties) and lord knows what else.  He even has some grafting stock to try grafting.  Like we don't have enough already. 
I saw this little marvel  of a gadget on The Price is Right.  It was called a Tomato Press.  Okay, so lots of you already knew about this thing, but I didn't.  So this weekend, I used it for the second time.  I put on a big pan of boiling water and started blanching the baskets and baskets of tomatoes that were sitting on every available space in the kitchen and dining room.  I just plopped the tomatoes, skin and all, into the hopper and started turning the handle.  Out poured lovely tomato sauce.  I put the skin and seed back through and got more juice...I worked for nearly an hour and ended up with ten quarts of lovely tomato for use in sauces of all kinds.  And it made a pretty good juice, too. 
I have just spent the last two hours watering the garden.  I have watered the fruit trees and all the tomatoes, the strawberries and the eggplant. I watered the peppers (bell and HOT) and the flowers even got some attention for a change.  Done with the front, I turned the hose over to Mac and came inside for a cup of coffee!   Mac is down in the big garden watering now.  I went down to take him a cold drink and he was shaking his head.  "What's up?" I asked him.  He looked around at the forty+ tomato plants (including the three he had planted on Saturday) and said "I'm not going to plant so many tomatoes next year."  I nodded wisely, but a mental eye roll was what was going on in my head.  Yep, I've heard that before!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

A 4th of July Tribute

I've often found it odd that almost every national holiday on our calendar is accompanied with a blow out sale.  It seems almost obscene to hear the commercials this year while we celebrate our Nation's birthday.  So many have died to protect our liberties and while I find parades and picnics, cookouts and family gatherings to be the very soul of the day, I have to ask.  What is it with the sales?  Today we celebrate our country's birth, her peoples contributions to the safety of others and we mourn the loss of all the men and women who shed their blood for her and for us.  I am including in todays a post an original poem I wrote several years ago.  Also, I am including a link to the song Arlington, by Trace Adkins.  You may not be a country music fan, but only a stone would be unmoved by, on second thought, that stone would weep.  TO listen to it go here:

She buried her son today
by Sandi McBride

She buried her son today,
That is why she sits in the dark with her cloak of grief pulled tightly around her.  That is why her eyes are empty, turned backward toward the past where he still plays , laughs...lives.

She buried her son today.
There is no consolement you can offer her that will lighten that grief and melt that capsule of ice that surrounds her heart and freezes her soul.  She means no disrespect in her failure to acknowledge your carefully chosen words, your outpouring of support.  At the moment she can not bring herself to reach out to you and accept your living warmth...she hugs her pain selfishly to herself separating herself from all but the one who was taken from her forever, the words God and Country an anathema for now.

She buried her son today.
And in her torment wonders had he lived, what great things he may have done to make a name for himself in this world, so that someone other than she remembers his name in years to come.  What beautiful flashing eyed girl would have captured his heart?  (His heart now beating in anther's chest, giving hope to some other woman who sits in some other room daring to smile because maybe, just maybe, her child would live to see another day.)

She buried her son today.
He was not her whole world, but a great portion of her world had revolved around him.  There will never come a day that her thoughts will not turn to memories of his birth, his first steps, his first ballgame, his first love.  She will forever see his sweet smile and clear unclouded eyes.  (Eyes now viewing the wonders of the world while looking out from a strangers face.)

She buried her son today.
And just for a moment marvels that the things she loved about him still live on, beloved Country in the future.  Just not today.  Today she buried her son.that while they could not help her beloved boy maintain life, somewhere out there her darling's heart still beats, his eyes still see.  But her grief lifts just for a moment.  She knows that she will rejoice in his gift to mankind and his