Thursday, January 02, 2014

Graves, Boy Scouts & donkey meat

The temperature here at 5 a.m. is 5 degrees and we've got a few inches of fresh snow on the ground. Not sure what that signifies so far as the new year is concerned, but it's darned cold. Which was fine on the new year holiday --- kind of fun to sit inside and watch the snow fall. Not so much today, when there's lots to do.

Working off and on yesterday on the bulletin for a funeral tomorrow, I couldn't help thinking about my maternal grandmother's funeral, held on Jan. 9, 1945, at Belinda Christian Church, along Highway 14 southwest of Columbia. I wasn't born yet, so obviously don't remember it.

But my parents used to speak of it --- on another bitterly cold day with snow and blowing snow. Snow equipment then was not at all what snow plows are today, but the roads were passable from farm to church. The road south of Columbia to the cemetery and the road through the cemetery were other matters, however. So the burial party processed to, through and back to the church behind a road grader.

My granddad used to talk about another funeral during similar conditions, perhaps 40 years earlier when he was a young man, at Oxford Cemetery, southeast of Williamson. At that time it was customary for neighbors to get together to dig graves, and "grave warmers," devices housing gas burners to thaw the ground to the frost line, weren't available. So the men gathered wood and lighted a big bonfire where they grave was to be, then kept it burning until digging could commence. The deceased was one of the Carsons, but I've forgotten which one.


Marriage equality was the principal focus of all those reviews of the LGBT year circulating earlier in the week, but Jan. 1 also was the day Boy Scouts of America officially ended the practice of booting gay kids out of the organization.

Actually, that didn't happen often, but occasionally someone would choose to make an issue of a gay teen eligible for the Eagle Scout rank and considerable publicity would ensue. 

The official ban on gay scouts was removed last year after considerable politicking, all tangled up with issues of power and control --- and, of course, religion.

There still are quirks in the Scout system. LGBT people still are banned as leaders, Scouts can march in gay pride parades if they choose to do so but not while displaying Scout uniforms or symbols, requests for a new tentmate will be honored if someone feels threatened by a potentially gay 8-year-old and the "distraction" clause could be invoked if a gay Scout becomes one, as in advocating for equality, for example.

Iowa's Zach Wahls, a straight Eagle Scout whose mothers are gay, has vowed to continue the work of his organization, Scouts for Equality, until all of this nonsense has been swept away and remains optimistic. Among reasons for his optimism: Robert Gates, Secretary of Defense when "don't ask, don't tell" ended, is incoming Boy Scouts of America president.


Sometimes it's a mistake to glance through news of the world before breakfast. This headline caught my eye this morning: "Wal-Mart recalls donkey in China as tests reveal fox."

As it turns out, the "Five-Spice" donkey meat --- a popular snack item --- was found to be mixed with fox at some meat counters.

I've not been inside a Wal-Mart for two years, since a desperate last-minute pre-Christmas search for mincemeat during December of 2011 when Hy-Vee failed me, so I can't speak to the availability of donkey at the Knoxville store. But if anyone was planning to serve it on New Year's Eve and couldn't, let me know.

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