Monday, June 29, 2015

Pickin' Blackberries

Blackberries coming ripe.
Hoo-boy, it's exciting around here at Erin-Tops! The blackberries are coming ripe! They are sweet and full and just dying to sprinkled over vanilla ice cream.

The first summer, I didn't even realize I had them. I was too busy sweating with scant relief from the portable A.C. that was cooling the whole house. Last summer I found a few, then spent much time online trying to figure out if they were blackberries or black raspberries or what. Once a bit educated, I looked around for more. It was as if a camera lens suddenly came into focus. I picked pint after pint full day after day. I think the high season lasts two or three weeks. I finally quit one morning when I reached over to a good bush full of them, heard a rattling at my feet, looked down and had the image of a timber rattler burned into my head. I retreated right quick, as we say around here, and didn't go back for more after that. Nevertheless I have already learned a few things in my short history as a blackberry picker.

Blackberry bush blooms.
Where are the blackberries? First of all, if you walk over your land and get aggravated by tall thick thorn shoots, don't be so aggravated! These are known as canes and are a sign that you will find blackberries around them in season. Secondly, just after the dogwoods bloom blackberry bushes will bloom in similar fashion in a distinctive five-petal flower. Walk around your land the first part of May while the underbrush is still thin and you may be surprised at how many patches of white you will find, markers for where to do your blackberry hunting about two months later.

Hmmm, what's this?
Right here on my hill in middle/west Tennessee, today is the first day I have plenty of berries ripe for picking. And let that rattler story be a cautionary tale: snakes like to hang around the same places blackberries like to grow. This year I'm wearing waders. At the least wear thick high boots and heavy pants. That's one good reason to go very early in the morning, to beat the heat while you're dressed for winter. My waders were soaked from sweat on the inside by the time I'd spent an hour picking this morning. But better safe than sorry.
Spooker likes 'em!

Also, wear long sleeves and a ball cap. The thorns are sharp and will draw blood, and you will not be able to resist leaning over to get the really big black juicy ones that are always just out of reach. The hard part is getting them into your pail without eating them. Sometimes they look ripe when they're really not quite there. If there's even a little bit of red in the berry, don't pick it. And if it doesn't pull off the vine with just a slight tug, don't pick it. If you get some that are not ripe, they will be tart. Once you've worked a bush over for all the black ones, crouch down. You'd be surprised how many more fat girls are there hiding under the leaves.

One hour's pickin', about two quarts.
After you've finished picking, don't wash them! Let them dry, then put them in a container in the refrigerator until you're ready to enjoy them and wash them then. Otherwise they get mushy. If you want to freeze them, let them dry, then lay them out on a cookie sheet in your freezer so they will freeze individually first, then put them in a container. That keeps them from forging into mushy clumps.

If you want some blackberries, now is the time to get busy. And I can tell you this, while you're enjoying the morning, palling around with your dog, dodging snakes and thorns and filling your bucket with delicious natural blackberries, you won't be thinking one iota about the sorry state of the rest of the world.

Friday, June 26, 2015

So what do you expect...

...from a chief justice who calls himself "Caitlin" Roberts?

(That comment was in reaction to yesterday's Supreme Court decision in which Justice Roberts demonstrated that he can't interpret the plain text of Obamacare any better than Bruce Jenner can figure out his anatomy. Suddenly in today's ruling on homosexual marriage Justice Roberts becomes a strict constructionist. He is indeed a confused soul. He is acting as if a puppet master is pulling his strings to contort him in grotesque manner. If we ever have bona fide truth-seeking journalists in this country again, perhaps they will unveil the machinations that are going on behind the scenes.)

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Slavery was legal.

Just as abortion is now.

With hindsight it's easy here in the 21st century to see that slavery was an abomination. But since slavery had been a commonly accepted practice throughout the world as far back as history went, in 1860 abolition was not such a clear cut subject. Some who were ahead of their time saw that it must be stopped. They are to be revered as modern prophets in line with Abraham Lincoln.

But it was complicated. Take the case of my alma mater, the liberal bastion Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. Brown was named after a family who of course contributed money toward its founding. The Browns were deeply involved in the slave trade. Was slavery legal in Rhode Island? No. But there was money to be made from it nonetheless, transshipping slaves from Africa via eastern seaports to the South. There are tunnels beneath Providence to this day which were used to keep the slaves in transit from ship to overland routes out of the public eye. North and South, there were few clean hands.

And in the fog, good people found themselves on the wrong side of the issue. Sometimes out of true ignorance, sometimes by the very human failing of turning a blind eye, they could not see the sin in slavery. There was as in Providence a strong economic impetus, but there were also simply practical reasons and the sheer momentum of tradition. And ultimately, what caused the South to fight the North over it, there was the cause of states rights and individual property rights vs. an oppressive federal government. This is why so many Confederate soldiers fought against the Union who could not have cared less about defending slavery; the overwhelming majority of Rebel soldiers came from families that owned no slaves. They were fighting in the spirit of "Don't Tread on Me" that had liberated the thirteen original colonies to begin with.

Personally I couldn't give a flip whether the Confederate flag flies in Charleston or Mississippi or anywhere else, as long as you don't infringe on my First Amendment right to fly it if I wish. But I do care about the rights of the unborn babies who never get a chance at a life of freedom because genocidal abortionists snuff them out in the womb. And considering that it is legal, I do not judge the girls and women who are induced by bloody organizations like Planned Parenthood and indeed the federal government to have their babies killed in the name of economic advantage or education or whatever other excuse the abortion industry uses to seduce them into this twenty-first century abomination.

The question is, how much longer will it take before our country recognizes that legal abortion is a sin every bit as pernicious and evil as slavery, and abolish it forever?

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Book Review: Totalitaria by Ian Wishart

Remember when Obama gave that speech in front of the fake pillars in Denver? Remember how he stood there absorbing the ovation from the massive crowd, his hands folded behind his back, that unsettling smug look on his face? There was something about the look that made me think: That's what the serpent looked like right after Eve got Adam to take the bite out of the apple. That was the moment I knew there was something very wrong about this guy.That look is captured on the cover of Ian Wishart's book Totalitaria, subtitled "What If the Enemy Is the State?"

I first heard Ian Wishart on the radio a couple of years ago and made note to order his book. What impressed me about him was his grasp of history and his ability to tie the threads of the past together with current events. Things don't happen in a vacuum but most of the time we are too busy staring at grains of sand to see the tide coming in. He's spotted the tsunami. Perhaps the fact that he's from New Zealand gives him some perspective that an American author may lack. Yet he knows America well, where it came from and where it seems to be going. Listening to Wishart was a romp through history. Finally I ordered the book and now finally I have read it through. Even though it's been out over a year, it is still spot-on timely.

With footnotes on virtually every page, Totalitaria is fact-packed. But it is a fluid read thanks to Wishart's conversational style and it is a fascinating "hidden history" lesson in itself, covering everything from Gnosticism to Globalism.

Totalitaria is for you if you've been vaguely uncomfortable with a lot of things going on in our culture but you can't quite put you're finger on the problem. Like wondering why in the world we're letting so many unskilled immigrants into the country. Like wondering where the heck Common Core came from. Like wondering how so much of the American population seems to have gone overnight from self-reliance to dependency, whether via food stamps or Obamacare. Like wondering why Judeo-Christian values are under constant assault and what happened to the faith of a whole generation. Like wondering how the President and seemingly the whole country could turn on a dime from supporting traditional marriage to cramming "gay rights" down everyone's throats. Like not quite buying the whole climate change thing. Like wondering why the millennials are so over-communicated yet so ill-informed. Generally speaking, wondering how Western Civilization is suddenly down the rabbit hole.

I won't go into the details. Taken out of context, many of the facts he cites sound far-fetched. His art and his gift to us is connecting the dots. If you value freedom and you're scratching your head over how suddenly everything seems to have been turned inside out and upside down in America, buy this book, take it to heart, and then pass it on.

(You can link to the Amazon listing by clicking on the image of the book cover at the top of this posting.)

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Constitutional Gun Control

Consider the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

And the rights of the governed as expressed in the U.S. Declaration of Independence:

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government...

It is thus clear that "gun control"--i.e., federal or local government's control of firearms through registration or restriction--could indeed be reasonably predicated upon the following common sense guideline:

That any weapon allowable for federal, state, or local authorities within the United States be allowable to any law-abiding citizen, and any weapon not allowed to law-abiding citizens in the United States be prohibited from use as well from all federal, state, and local authorities.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

John Amenas Fite Memoir Now Available!

Late in his long and colorful life (1832-1925), Col. John Amenas Fite dictated a memoir detailing his "rattling" childhood in the antebellum South in and around Alexandria, Tennessee, his early career as a lawyer in nearby Carthage, and especially his military service in the Seventh Tennessee of the C.S.A., attached to Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia.

Col. Fite had no ordinary Civil War experience: He was seriously wounded three times. He was captured in Pickett's Charge up Cemetery Ridge at Gettysburg. And he spent the remainder of the war in the infamous Johnson's Island military prison, losing nearly a hundred pounds before gaining his freedom in the last exchange of the war before Lincoln stopped the program. And even after all that, he came back and served as a circuit court judge and in the Tennessee Legislature.

My maternal grandfather John Walton Fite was said to be Col Fite's favorite nephew. Of course, my grandfather got his given name from Col. Fite, and I got mine from my grandfather. So when I found a typewritten copy of Col. Fite's memoir as a kid, I was fascinated with it, and over the years I've cherished it as a great treasure of my family's past. Some years ago I discovered e-publishing and realized it would be a fitting project to publish Col. Fite's manuscript as a book. It's taken me a while, but I have finally completed the task.

Thus Memories of Col. John Amenas Fite is now available as a book on Amazon. Subtitled by Col. Fite "The short and uninteresting history of a small and unimportant man," at about a hundred pages, you will wish it were longer. It is anything but uninteresting. It is full of good humor. But more than that, he relates the many characters and situations which his extraordinary place in history afforded him, sometimes with hilarity, sometimes with reverance, and at times, disgust. Even prejudiced for the author as I am, I guarantee this is a work that is well worth reading even for the unrelated, and especially if you love history. For a direct link to the book on Amazon, click here. (Here's a tip: While waiting for delivery, watch the movie "Gettysburg" to set the mood.)

And just to whet your appetite, here's a short passage relating one of his encounters with Stonewall Jackson in 1862, when Col. Fite was returning to the front after recovering from a wound:

We remained at Knoxville a few days, then got on the train to go back to the army. Among the passengers on the train was General Stonewall Jackson. We were doing a good deal of smoking along the road, and every time we’d get ready to go to smoking, the General would insist on furnishing the tobacco. When we got to Farmville, a little town in Virginia where they make the red clay pipes, a fellow came along by the window with a basket full of pipes. I saw one in his basket that was evidently made for a sign and would hold a teacup full of tobacco. I fastened a stem in it, and the next time we went to smoke, I hauled it out. Jackson got out his tobacco as usual, and when he saw my pipe, he exclaimed, “Good God, where did you get that thing? Fill it up and we will pass it around.” I filled it up, and we all took a few whiffs at it...

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Dem Voters, don't dispair: Hillary's not your girl in 2016.

I feel kind of sorry for Democrat voters looking forward to the 2016 election.

It's not that they're going to lose. There's so much corruption in the voting process now that the only way they could lose is if there's an overwhelming backlash vote as happened in the Reagan revolution. And that's not likely given the stupor in which so many Americans seem to live these days.

I feel sorry for Democrats because at least so far, Hillary Clinton is their only choice. How pathetic. It's like finally being free of the old battleaxe but the only girl who'll go out with you is your bitter ex-wife.

But I have a theory. Just a theory, not a prediction. The more I think about it, however, the more I think it may be spot on.

There is no love lost between the Clintons and the Obamas. The Clintons feel they got snaked in 2008. Keeping his friends close and his enemies closer, Obama sent Hillary off to be Secretary of State, one long excursion flying here and there and doing nothing productive, losing Asia, leaving eastern Europe to the Russian wolf, and making a complete and deadly mess out of the Middle East, culminating in the blood sacrifice of our ambassador to Libya. Obama could not care less about all that; the worse the news is for America, the better as far as he is concerned (see "Obama's Legacy: The Perfect Dystopian Storm"). And it kept Hillary out of his hair in domestic politics.

Now Hillary has launched a laughable effort to win the presidency in 2016. Fearing the wrath of the scorched earth Obama and the scorched earth Clintons, no viable alternative is coming forward to challenge her. Obama has damned her with faint praise. She is a laughing stock. Everyone on the left is just going through the motions for her.

Here's my theory: Barack Obama is simply waiting for Hillary to collapse under her own weight. Then there will be a "spontaneous" groundswell of support for his own candidate. His candidate has no qualifications, of course, but has an unbeatable combination of qualities: She's female. And she's black. And her name is Michelle Obama.

Mind you, it's just a theory that came to me last weekend when I was reading about Hillary's campaign and thinking, this can't be serious. But I searched it, and came up with this: "MSNBC Guest: Michelle Obama Should Challenge Hillary."

Sorry, fellow lovers of America. If my theory is right, it's fixing to get a lot worse. Had any good dates with ex-spouses lately?