The oddest stuff turns up when you start scanning newspaper Web sites, as I’ve been doing this morning while tracking the progress of Missouri River flooding.
From The Kansas City Star comes the report that federal officials have seized a large amount of elderberry juice concentrate from a winery called Wyldewood Cellers at Peck, near Wichita, Kansas. Peck caught my eye because distant cousins live there, part of the great McMulin diaspora that commenced in Lucas County during the 1870s.
The winery apparently has been claiming that elderberry juice is an effective treatment for ailments ranging from the flu through cancer to AIDS.
Golly, if we’d known that I’m sure my dad would have had more respect for the elderberry bushes that, if left unattended, had a habit of taking over a corner of one of our pastures. As kids, we used to have fun playing among them, the dinner-plate-sized blossom heads are pretty, and the juice from the dark purple berries was useful for smearing ourselves with, causing consternation among those who did laundry or cleaned up youngsters covered with problematic purple blotches.
But elderberries don’t have much taste. Cooks, sometimes, mixed elderberries in with other tastier fruits to produce pies --- just to prove they could. And since elderberry juice, like all others, will ferment some made elderberry wine. Perhaps there even was elderberry jelly --- but not in my mother’s kitchen.
So The Star has added a whole new collection of stuff available to think about when nothing better turns up. But I don’t think I’m going to start drinking elderberry juice.
I’ve been thinking, too, that God sure must be grateful for the Army Corps of Engineers this spring since most of the hostility for Missouri River flooding along Iowa’s west coast has been directed at that federal agency rather than at Him.
The water’s still rising over thataway and flooding could extend well into August, the experts say.
The bone of contention is the rate of water released from the giant dams that during the 20th century turned the upper Missouri into a series of vast reservoirs. The Corps should have released more faster, critics say.
The Corps responds that it had positioned itself to deal with runoff from extraordinary Rocky Mountain snowpack, but hadn’t anticipated unexpected spring deluges in the Missouri’s normally arid upper basin.
Whatever the case, it now looks like Interstate-29, major route connecting Kansas City and Omaha, may be closed in spots in southwest Iowa fairly soon and even Highway 34, the traditional route for Lucas Countyans fleeing west, may be affected.
And then there was the morning I woke up wondering who I’d pick for president should decades of highly effective GOP aversion therapy fail me overnight and I’d awake Republican.
I think I’d go with Mitt Romney, even though I’m not sure what the implications of having a president whose given name is Willard would be.
Romney, of course, is a liar and a hypocrite --- but then what potential presidential candidate isn’t? Consider pretty boy John Edwards’ indictment this week for misusing campaign funds to conceal his “second family.” Even the execrable Newt Gingrich, master at the art of adultery, must be slightly in awe of Edwards’ performance.
Romney seems pleasant and has a record as a good manager and he’s a Mormon, which is a plus in my book. Actually, I’ve never met a Mormon I didn’t like, although (a) I certainly don’t agree with their official stance on most social issues, (b) for perfectly logical reasons they can be a little stand-offish at times and (c) I’d surely hate to be LGBTQ in the context of Mormon culture --- but the same can be said for LGBTQ trapped in GOP culture.
And the concept of continuing revelation has been a useful tool for the LDS, who are at least upfront about its potential. You never know quite where they’ll end up, given the correct combination of circumstances.
Romney’s challenge is going to involve in part at least overcoming that hate campaign directed for decades at Mormons by those who call themselves “evangelical” Christians and, perhaps in part because of missionary envy, insist upon branding the LDS a “cult.”
Although Iowans in general behaved decently toward the Saints who passed through in the 1840s (as opposed to their counterparts in Illinois and Missouri), our current Christian right wing GOP contingent probably won’t.
But when it comes down to it, Mormon theology is no more outlandish than Christian theology in general. And our right-wing Christian friends always have bought wholeheartedly into “continuing revelation,” too, although they’ll deny it.
Much of the shape of today’s “evangelical” Christianity, after all, is based upon 19th century revelation that involved plucking items out of the Bible, interpreting them to suit themselves and then setting up a row of targets for the good Lord to take smiting pot-shots at.
Not that there’s any danger I’ll vote for any Republican. Obama’s my man. But such things can be diverting to think about.