Thursday, July 28, 2016

Hot mix asphalt on the side ...

This is not an especially good week to navigate my neighborhood --- the hills south of Court Avenue around Columbus School. We're being repaved.

On the other hand, it's good week to celebrate folks who work hard for a living at jobs --- like hot mix asphalt paving --- we couldn't live without, but couldn't do ourselves. The days have been a little cooler this week --- but that asphalt's still hot, radiating as it goes down and then for a while as it cools. It's hot and dirty work.

The crews this week are from N.A.P. Co. (Norris Asphalt Paving Co.), which operates in partnership with Douds Stone LLC, headquartered in Ottumwa.

The asphalt itself is being trucked down from one of the company's plants --- located this year at Knoxville.

I'd just gotten to the museum after lunch Wednesday when my neighbor, Virginia, called and said, "Uh, you'd better get home if you're going to get home," or something to that effect. So I turned around and threaded my way back around barricades, trucks and pre-paving patches of concrete just before the paving began.

My side of this block got a preliminary lane of paving because this is where the big buses line up before picking up students at Columbus --- and they're hard on it. A couple of hours later, the guys were back to pave the entire block.

I was happy to be parked be in the driveway, mow a little lawn and watch the paving process.

Others were not so happy.

One of my neighbors, whose house faces 11th Street (also being resurfaced), blockaded temporarily for one purpose or another, decided he'd just drive down the alley and exit on 12th --- but when confronted at this end by fresh asphalt could do little more than turn around, go home and sit it out.

Our block was done by about 5:30 p.m. and the barricades came down about 9 p.m. --- so now we have a freshly paved surface and it should be smooth sailing in and out of this part of the neighborhood for the rest of the week.

Unless it rains a lot --- the neighborhood should be repaved and ready to go by late Friday.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Vegetables, flowers & genealogists

Although it's a kind of hard to discern the personality of a giant cabbage or a plate of green beans, I always enjoy the vegetable entries at the Lucas County Fair. Department superintendent Jim Secor was scrambling this year to find room to display all the entries --- a very positive development.

The entries were judged by Jill Beebout (left), of Blue Gate Farm, and Jim (right) had enlisted the help of two of his stepdaughters, including Dana Gall-Secor (center), to help him corral all of that vegetation.

This was the year of the giant cabbage --- really giant cabbage. There were at least four of these beasts. Here's the winner in the youth division.

I was gratified because my favorite pumpkin, at right in the first photo and standing alone in the second, was judged best of show.

I enjoy the floriculture division --- and there were lots of entries here, too.

Here are the two top entries in the arranging class, the first in the adult division and the second, in the junior.

The rest of the arrangements --- I just admired.

I would have taken some of the house plant entries home with me, but most likely would just have killed them off --- so it's a good thing that they'll go home with their developers when entries are released tomorrow morning.

Down in the middle of the open class building, Jay DeYoung was judging genealogical entries on Monday as Suzanne Fordell Terrell and other members of the Lucas County Genealogical Society looked on.

And here's a puzzler that won a ribbon but stumped everyone down in the antiques division. Anyone know exactly where Leonard Lumber Co. was located? John Pierce didn't know. Dave Edwards didn't know and I didn't know.

You've got one more day to catch the fair before entries are released on Thursday. This is a big day for beef in the judging venues and there will be plenty of pulled pork, beef and lamb sandwiches --- plus homemade pie --- in the 4-H stand.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Briley Atwell, her birds & the poultry parade

Beef is king (or queen) I suppose of the Lucas County fair --- there will be four classes of judging on Wednesday. But I'm passionate about poultry, so Monday morning's judging in that category was more to my taste.

The first person I ran into at the poultry barn, awaiting her turn with the judge, was Briley Atwell of the Russell Reivers 4-H Club --- or rather her granddad, Richard. The whole Atwell family was there to cheer on Briley and her birds.

Years ago, I started growing up just down the road from a lovely couple named Clara and Merrill Atwell. Briley is their great-granddaughter. How's that for continuity?

The birds shown here are of the Welsummer breed. They won blue ribbons and Briley herself, a showmanship award. She knows a lot about her birds and, among other things, was able to tell the judge when he asked how she could be certain that the eggs produced by her pen of three would be brown.

Here's the judge a little farther down the line working his way toward Briley.

And a whole bunch of other birds that I fancied. I wish I could tell you who won the top prizes, but the barn was too busy at the time to absorb that information. There were lots of entries this year, each as far as I'm concerned of championship quality.

There's more to poultry than chickens and I was quite taken by these two bobwhite quail entered by Grant Goering of the Liberty Flyers.

There were pigeons, too. This fine Homer was entered by Ruthie Storey, also of the Russell Reivers.

Here's an African Fantail entered by J.R. McDonough of the Shooting Stars.

Ruthie dominated the category that quacked.

Here's her Mallard hen and pen of three.

And a fine Muscovy.

These are a few other birds that caught my attention, including Zeb DeZwarte's (Chariton FFA) Americana rooster.

I don't think this Leghorn rooster won an award, but I liked him anyway. He did keep falling asleep, but I'm not sure the judge took that into consideration.

How could you not love a turkey with a face like this?

 A fine layer, but I'm not going to venture a guess on the breed.

One of the happiest birds at the fair, a Silver Spangled Hamburg.

I think this is one of Madallyn Gunzenhauser's prize-winning Red Stars, but am not exactly sure about that. Madallyn is a member of the Derby Blue Ribbon Winners --- and she won several.

This is Evan Langford's (Derby Blue Ribbon Winners) mixed-breed rooster: Buff Orpington and Crele Old English.

It was a great day at the fair --- vegetables and flowers another day. Here's lookin atcha ...

Monday, July 25, 2016

Ruffians, a balloon & death at the Lucas County Fair

Alas James Henry Brown, worthy English Township pioneer and innocent bystander. Having paid his dime (cost of admission to the fair grounds) and expecting to be entertained, he was struck in the head by a falling timber while awaiting the ascension of a hot-air balloon  at the 1878 Lucas County Fair and, 17 days later, died. 

If not the only fair fatality in Lucas County history --- and I can't say for sure that there haven't be others during the 138 years since --- he certainly was the first.

That's his tombstone in Oxford Cemetery, some three miles northeast of Chariton --- a short Sunday afternoon drive. The accident occurred on Friday, Sept. 27, 1878, but the unfortunate Mr. Brown lingered unconscious with a crushed skull for more than two weeks until early Tuesday morning, Oct. 15. He died at the Gardner House hotel, then located at the intersection of streets now named North Main and Roland, diagonally southwest of First Methodist Church.

Just a month short of his 49th birthday, James was survived by nine children and a widow, Elvira (Foster) Brown. The stone that bears both their names appears to have been erected after she joined him in death some 25 years later, on Oct. 12, 1903.


Chariton Leader editor Dan Baker and his crew were back at their office on the square when the accident occurred that long-ago Friday, just ready to put Saturday's edition on the press.

His report of the fair already had been set into type and was locked into the form:

"On Tuesday the county fair at our public fair grounds opened. A respectable number of entries was made in every department and the exhibition of stock was good, the floral department was good. The worst feature of the fair was the wretched weather. Wednesday was wet, cold and disagreeable. Thursday and Friday were clear and cold and many declined going on account of the disagreeable weather.

"An immense crowd visited the fair grounds on Friday, the balloon ascension being one of the principle attractions. A high wind, however, prevailed during the day which rendered the ascent too dangerous for any sane man to take. A great many went away cursing the society roundly because of the failure of the balloonist. The society could not force him to go up and he was not fool enough to break his neck simply to gratify a morbid curiosity."

Then, just before The Leader went to press, someone rushed into the office to report the change in circumstances at the fair grounds, then located in northwest Chariton, and the tragic accident. Dan tore up the form and added this:

"LATER --- Just before going to press, we learn that Prof Melville attempted to make the ascension, that while getting the balloon ready a long pole accidentally fell, striking Mr. Jas. Brown of English township upon the head, crushing in his skull; also breaking a little boy's arm, and injuring Wm. Powers. Mr. Brown was carried to town insensible, but his injures are pronounced fatal.

"The terrible accident put a stop to further attempts to make the ascension, which so enraged a number of cowardly brutal ruffians that they immediately became violent toward the aeronaut and threatened his life, and to cap the climax took possession of his balloon, ropes and material and cut the ropes to pieces with their knives.

"The honest law abiding citizens on the grounds undertook to check the infamous villains in their outrages, but to no purpose, and shameful to relate they were encouraged in their devilish work by some men whose age should have been a guarantee of decency and respectability.

"The baseborn scoundrels and drunken outlaws who perpetrated the outrage are many of them known, and it is to be hoped will meet with their just deserts as soon as possible. Their sole grievance was that they had been swindled out of ten cents by the ascension failing to go off, yet it was announced in the bills as a condition that the ascension would be made (only) if the weather were favorable."


George Ragsdale, preparing his report of the incident for The Patriot of the following Wednesday, had more time to gather his facts and, therefore, offered a few more details:

"Fully two thousand people visited the Fair Grounds on Friday, drawn thither chiefly by the announcement that a balloon ascension would be made on that day. A high wind prevailed all day, and it was evident to many that there would be no ascension unless the wind ceased blowing. After the hour had passed for the ascension the large crowd began to grow impatient, and a few drunken rowdies soon started a howling mob, and it was not long until it was found there would be serious trouble unless the ruffians could be pacified. They were determined Prof. Melville should make the ascension or they would destroy his balloon, and some went so far as to threaten his life. An attempt was made to inflate the balloon, but a heavy piece of timber which was used in holding up the balloon fell in the crowd standing around it and striking Mr. James H. Brown, an old and estimable citizen of English township, on the head crushed his skull in a frightful manner. He was picked up and brought to town, and is at this writing lying at Capt. Gardner's (hotel) at the point of death. In the evening Dr. Simmons, assisted by several other physicians, removed the broken pieces of the skull and dressed his wounds, but no hopes are entertained of his recovery. He has remained in an unconscious condition ever since the accident occurred.

"Like all mobs and rioters the men and boys engaged in this disgraceful affair would not listen to reason, but hooted and howled like madmen whenever any of the officers of the society attempted to say anythinig. Mr. Mallory finally gave them $15 to get them quieted. The bills announcing the ascension stated distinctly that it would not be made unless the weather was favorable. But like all mobs and lawless ruffians nothing would satisfy them and for nearly two hours they kept up their devilish work. It is a shame and disgrace to Lucas county that such a thing should occur within her borders. The brutal wretches cursed the officers of the Society, threatened the life of Prof. Melville, and did succeed in doing considerable damage to the balloon."

"Many of those engaged in this shameful affair are known and they should be arrested and made to suffer for their lawless acts," Ragsdale wrote. "If four or five of the ring leaders had been promptly arrested at the outbreak there would have been not more of it."


After that, the dust settled. No one was arrested and charged. And James Brown, too fragile to be moved home, remained under physicians' and family care at the Gardner House.

On Wednesday, Oct. 16, The Patriot reported: "Mr. J.H. Brown, who was so severely injured on the last day of the Fair, died at the residence of Capt. N.B. Gardner, in this city, where he has been ever since the accident occurred, on Tuesday morning about 5 o'clock. He lived seventeen days after receiving his injuries, most of which time he suffered greatly."

Sunday, July 24, 2016

A little Buddha among the beans ...

Thich Nhat Hanh, familiarly called "Thay," or teacher, is in fragile health now, approaching 90. 

Back in residence at Plum Village, the monastery and zen center he founded in the south of France following exile from Vietnam in 1973, he continues to live with the after effects of a major stroke suffered in 2014.

For some reason I started thinking about the teacher while picking beans (mindfully) in the museum vegetable garden Saturday morning, early enough to dodge the oppressive blanket of heat and humidity that settled down later in the day.

So here are a few Thich Nhat Hanh quotes, plucked from various online sources, and interspersed with snapshots of what was growing and blooming in the garden on Saturday morning.

Bean blossoms

“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don't even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child -- our own two eyes. All is a miracle.”


“When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don't blame the lettuce. You look for reasons it is not doing well. It may need fertilizer, or more water, or less sun. You never blame the lettuce. Yet if we have problems with our friends or family, we blame the other person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will grow well, like the lettuce. Blaming has no positive effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason and argument. That is my experience. No blame, no reasoning, no argument, just understanding. If you understand, and you show that you understand, you can love, and the situation will change”

"You carry Mother Earth within you. She is not outside of you. Mother Earth is not just your environment. In that insight of inter-being, it is possible to have real communication with the Earth, which is the highest form of prayer." 


"If you truly get in touch with a piece of carrot, you get in touch with the soil, the rain, the sunshine. You get in touch with Mother Earth and eating in such a way, you feel in touch with true life, your roots, and that is meditation. If we chew every morsel of our food in that way we become grateful and when you are grateful, you are happy."


"Fear, separation, hate and anger come from the wrong view that you and the Earth are two separate entities, the Earth is only the environment. You are in the centre and you want to do something for the Earth in order for you to survive. That is a dualistic way of seeing."


"True self is non-self, the awareness that the self is made only of non-self elements. There's no separation between self and other, and everything is interconnected. Once you are aware of that you are no longer caught in the idea that you are a separate entity."

Tomato blossom

"If you can feel that Mother Earth is in you, and you are Mother Earth, then you are not any longer afraid to die because the earth is not dying. Like a wave appears and disappears and appears again."


"You are a child of the sun, you come from the sun, and that is something true with the Earth also... your relationship with the Earth is so deep, and the Earth is in you and this is something not very difficult, much less difficult then philosophy."

“Waking up this morning, I smile. Twenty-four brand new hours are before me. I vow to live fully in each moment and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion.”