Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thank God for farmers and ranchers

Thank God for farmers and ranchers

Thank God for farmers and ranchers, who raise the good food I eat;

May He continue to bless them, through life's bitter and life's sweet;

The best food is that grown locally, of that we can be sure;

And we will learn about that, if we visit our farms & ranches, and take a learning tour!

- Julie Kay Smithson, November 18, 2009 (appreciating America's farmers and ranchers every day of the year!)

FromUsToYou: Meandering

FromUsToYou: Meandering

By Julie Kay Smithson

Meander is something streams and rivers do naturally. Hunting dogs tracking a scent also meander, as the quarry's scent wanders to and fro.

Meandering also seems to be something I tend to do this time of year when out for a walk with Wiggles Blue Heeler. Both of us are so immersed in 'the moment' – from the sights, sounds, smells, textures, and colors, to the rarefied atmosphere that comes to Ohio for a short time in October and November: low humidity – that we just drift back and forth across the paths and trails, tarrying in the sun and reveling in the season.

One spectacular day in early September, Wiggles and I went with friends to Indian Lake and took a ride on a pontoon boat (our very first boat ride!), then had a fine afternoon playing virtual badminton (no net) and cooking out. We all meandered that day, on land and water!

On your path in life – but please, not on the road! – may there be just enough meander to bring you smiles and a full heart!

177 words

Saturday, November 14, 2009

No Trouble with Christmas

No Trouble with Christmas

By Julie Kay Smithson

I have no trouble with this time of year being called Christmas or the Christmas Season. After all, this Christian nation in which I was born and bred, celebrates December 25th as the day Jesus was born to the Virgin Mary and her husband Joseph in a humble stable in Bethlehem.
On the surface, much of the Reason for this Holy Season seems to have been usurped by advertising agencies that have invented other names for Christmas trees, Christmas vacations, Christmas break, Christmas cookies, Christmas presents.

Harried store "associates" -- once known as cashiers -- dutifully recite, "Happy holidays," which provides the perfect opportunity for me to ask meekly, "Which holidays? The 4th of July? Valentine's Day? Which holidays?" The quick, grateful and joyful reply is often, "Christmas!" and we both smile!

Young parents, struggling to make the most basic of ends meet, may be overwhelmed by the advertising blitz that stresses spending over the nativity's sweet innocence. Christmas need not be a financially depleting holiday. Sharing food, Christmas caroling, and random acts of kindness all get gold stars for simplicity and heartwarming goodwill. Simple popcorn, strung together to make outside tree decorations for birds, need not become an obsolete family tradition. In fact, the blending of new traditions -- like LED Christmas lights, which use almost no electricity -- with old can make us smile without the next-month sticker shock of the credit card invoice.

Nearby are Nativity scenes, some with real people and supporting animal cast, at churches, some gracing the front lawns of private homes. Christmas carols, sung by people with hearts full of love and Christian charity, lighten hearts and brighten spirits. Kindnesses bestowed upon friends, family and strangers alike, surge to the forefront at this time of year. From gifting the gas station attendant in need of one or more of the following: warm gloves, hat, ear muffs, coffee, hot chocolate -- to the simple kindness of a 'grocery cart gathering' to help save store employees a little time outside, such actions will warm both the giver and receiver.

From the offerings of warm water, nuts, corn, bread crusts and crumbs and more to the birds and other animals we love to stay wild -- but still revere the directive of Genesis to have dominion o'er them all -- to the special treats we make and gather for our beloved pets, family and friends, the simplest things can become the most cherished memories. From the unused coats we donate to those whose needs outstrip our blessings, to the myriad ways in which we can make a difference just by being a friend, Christmas shines through with Son Light from our souls.

Those of us who have no trouble with Christmas should be saying it out, strong and clear, celebrating the birth of our Lord, Jesus Christ: We have no trouble with Christmas!

477 words.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Your cravings will tell you ...

Your cravings will tell you ...

that the seasons are changing, sometimes weeks before the calendar.

When you crave a bowl of hot soup, stew or a potpie, it's a sure sign that summer's fled, to be replaced by autumn. When the last of the garden tomatoes have been nipped by frost, it's fall.

We mourn the passing of this season of homegrown fruits and vegetables, farmers markets, and ice cream stands. When cider replaces ice-chilled drinks, the ninety-degree days of this year are history.

As we get "way down in the fall," the taste of Popsicles and Icees gives way to the desire for "something hot." We pore through the pantry to see what soups and hot drink mixes may await us there.

A sign that winter's at our doorstep is the comforting feel of a hot coffee mug in our fingers, its steaming fragrance wafting into our very soul. Candles with scents of bayberry, cinnamon & clove and pine, meld with hot chocolate and spiced teas. Suddenly, the thought of a casserole or a slow-cooked meal means the home will be warmed and "aromatized" in a most pleasing way!
Enjoy this coming snuggle-season by sharing your warm thoughts, and maybe an extra hot meal, with someone who sorely needs the nourishment both offer. Twill make next spring and summer that much more appreciated! Warm up those snow shovels and blowers and think Thanksgiving and Christmas!

237 words.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

What if the HSUS actually wanted Ohio's Issue 2 to pass?

What if the HSUS actually wanted Ohio's Issue 2 to pass?

November 8, 2009

By Julie Kay Smithson, researcher

The Humane Society of the United States' President and Chief Executive Officer Wayne Pacelle came to Columbus, Ohio, November 2, 2009, on the evening before Election Day, to restlessly pace a stage in one of the Ohio Historical Society's meeting rooms.

It should be noted that the HSUS has no connection to most local humane societies.

Pacelle began by explaining the HSUS' role as "Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty." A visit to the HSUS website shows this statement to be oft-repeated. The predictable "shock power point presentation" -- showing 'downer' cows in what appeared to be slaughterhouse confines and crowded quarters for hogs -- was flanked by a talk that involved almost half the ninety minutes allotted for the "Columbus Town Hall" meeting.

Wearing what appeared to be expensive leather shoes, in apparent contradiction by his mini-rant about "wearing fur" and mention of having been a "strict vegetarian" for the past 25 years, Pacelle incurred the wrath of more than one HSUS supporter in the 250-person audience -- taking up just half the seats in the meeting room theater venue -- by failing to commit to a ballot initiative.

Pacelle became president and CEO of the HSUS midway through 2004, "... after serving for nearly 10 years as the organization's chief lobbyist and spokesperson." Source: HSUS "About Us" Almost a decade of being steeped in the ways of the professional lobbyist gave Pacelle an education in agendas and being an agent of change. Few, if any, of his Columbus audience, seemed cognizant of the web his talk spun. Knowing the power of molding phrases like "battery cages" and "gestation crates" to a mostly urban group of listeners, Pacelle spoke carefully, statements like "Climate change is a threat to all animals" garnering placid support from those nodding agreement to almost his every word.

Michael Vick and his horrific actions, which led to the torture and death of many dogs -- but only "about 19 months" in prison -- was a sore topic for several in the audience, more than one of whom expressed their disagreement with Pacelle's handling of the case.

Pacelle doggedly stuck to his steering of Vick's milquetoast punishment to a "proactive" meaning of "educating" children, with Vick having the "power to effect change" by speaking out against something for which Vick never expressed remorse. In August 2009, Pacelle stated that Vick "has pledged to make a long-term commitment to participate in our community-based outreach programs to steer inner-city youth away from dog fighting." Source: San Jose Mercury News, October 18, 2009, "Animal rights activists dog Michael Vick":

The Capital Area Humane Society -- an organization with questionable practices -- was lauded at length by Pacelle, while the HSUS boss ignored the tireless work and results achieved by Ohio's dog wardens, animal control officers, and animal shelters.

A real contradiction was stated several times during Pacelle's forty-minute talk. He mentioned the power of strong laws and that many laws not enforced cannot take the place of a few strong laws that are -- then listed the "117 new laws" that HSUS had been instrumental in drafting (writing) and passing in the last year; the "93 new laws" the prior year; the "84 new laws" the year before, and the "65 new laws" the year before. A total of 359 HSUS-influenced laws in four years is anything but "a few" strong laws being enforced.

In a post-election statement, Pacelle said: "We decided to spend nearly no money against Issue 2 and to reserve our energy and resources for [a future] effort." Source: Cleveland Plain Dealer, November 8, 2009, Editorial:

It appears to this writer that Pacelle was imitating Brer Rabbit, asking that, whatever voters did, they should not throw him in the briar patch ... when that is precisely what he and his organization wanted. Pacelle's statement was clear and bears repeating: "We decided to spend nearly no money against Issue 2 and to reserve our energy and resources for [a future] effort."

By passing Issue 2, a stake has been driven straight into the heart of Ohio's Constitution, one which inserts an appointed -- not elected -- board of 13 that are given political power to do as they will. All the HSUS, concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), and other politically and economically-motivated groups need do is get their lobbyists appointed to that board. Ohio voters will then be helpless to remove the proverbial camel from the tent.

Outside the meeting room, refreshments were offered to attendees, including dairy products in the form of "Mini-Moos" half and half creamers. One could only wonder if the creamers came from "free-range" dairy cattle ...

Related definitions:

Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) – An AFO (Animal Feeding Operation) that is defined as a Large CAFO or as a Medium CAFO..., or that is designated as a CAFO... Two or more AFOs under common ownership are considered to be a single AFO for the purposes of determining the number of animals at an operation, if they adjoin each other or if they use a common area or system for the disposal of wastes. [40 CFR 122.23(b)(2)] – U.S. Environmental Protection Agency National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Glossary

Farm – Land under one operating arrangement on which there were, or are, expected sales of at least $1,000 worth of crops, livestock, poultry, or other agricultural products during the year. – Modified Agricultural Weighted Estimators, By Robert G. Pontius, Jr. Research and Applications Division, National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), July 1990. Staff Report No. SSB-90-05, Appendix 1: Glossary (page 11 of 14 pages; 1.01 MB)

776 words. With related definitions: 936 words.