Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Put America Back to Work!

I don’t claim to be an economist, don’t even know one actually, but I have a question for the next politician who says, “I want to put America back to work!” The question is, “doing what?” The fact is, there are no jobs for Americans to do because the jobs we used to do, and the stuff we used to make can all be done and made cheaper someplace else. What we are good at is growing stuff. Start reading the labels on the things you buy and you will soon find out that if it’s edible it’s grown here at home… but, if it’s wearable it comes from someplace else.

So the next time you hear some person standing on a podium somewhere say, “I want to put America back to work” you pull up a big ol’ sign that says, “doing what?” If he/she can name you ten jobs that have nothing to do with the state or federal government, ten jobs that can earn you a living, insurance coverage and retirement, vote for him.

Of course I exaggerate here but you get the point. Having said that I believe Americans will find a way by hook or crook, as they say, to make things better for ourselves. My eighty nine year old mother can still remember watching my grandfather chase the favorite chicken around the yard during the depression years, prior to wringing its neck. She says his reputation for wringing chicken necks was matchless back in the thirties. I guess they ate a lot of chicken.

One way I can always tell we’re in deep financial dodo is when mom starts heading for the chicken. I took her to the grocery store the other day, not looking for anything in particular and sure enough she gravitated toward the wings. This is how it happened. She’s on one of those fixed incomes but she’s healthy (thank you Lord) and still enjoys a few hours browsing through a grocery store. It usually takes that long because once she gets in there she acts like a food inspector, slowly making her way from the veggies to the meats. The woman has to inspect every veggie whether she intends to buy the thing or not, so it might take twenty minutes to get from the celery to the squash and then she’s got to check out the potatoes, which could take forever because they lend themselves to scrutiny.
 She’ll pick one up, bounce it around in her hand, flip it over and either put it in the cart or back on the rack. The other day I got tired of watching her flip potatoes and headed on over to the meats, figuring she’d wind up there sooner or later. There were three fat ranch wings left on the wing island. At one time it must have had them all, ranch, hot, buffalo, salt and vinegar, you name it but here sat these three lonely wings waiting for me. I put those three on a plate and into a bag figuring I might be able to hide them until we got home where I might let her have just one. She must have been watching because sure enough here she comes, straight out of the bell peppers looking for some chicken. “Whatcha got?” “I have some chicken mom, just a few wings.” “Lemme see.”  “Here, see, just three wings.” “Lemme try one.”

She ate that one and had the other two eaten by the time she finished inspecting the ground round. When we got to the check out counter there were three bones left in the plate. The cashier took each item through the scanner and when she got to the wing plate full of bones she took one look at me and said, “Sir, these are sold by the pound!” Mom had left the building and methinks we’re all going to be eating more chicken.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Scents of Fond Memories-- And Some Bad

There’s no doubt that something stinks in Washington, D.C. We just can’t quite put our fingers on it, but if we go there a trip to the washroom would be needed afterward.

I’m not going there. My sense of smell is too sensitive, plus, it just doesn’t take much effort to write about what could be called Potomac dysentery -- where our politicians are always running either toward an office or away from responsibility.

The sense found in D.C. seems to have evaporated, but some scents stay with us forever. Those that bring back memories of childhood or events, that in some way, made a difference in our lives are the best.

I remember the smell of chlorine at the crystal clear Whittle Springs pool (Knoxville) years ago when Mike Lucci (Detroit Lions linebacker, All-SEC) was the lifeguard and god of the pool.

That pool had two low diving boards and one high dive that seemed, when seen from below, to be akin to cliff diving. Lucci guarded the U.T. cheerleaders and us 10-year-olds from that high dive for several summers. His record was sterling; we didn’t lose a single cheerleader.

I remember the smell of hot pavement after a summer rain in Panama City as we rode our bikes through the puddles trying to kick up a spray. You’d get a good running start at the puddle then pull your feet up and weave through it as long as your speed would allow. There were no sidewalks, so once in a while you’d find yourself sliding into someone’s front yard.

I remember the smell of cooking coming from homes before air conditioning when you could just about tell what was being served for dinner by simply walking down the street. Fried chicken was on a lot of menus.

There was the smell of the leaf pile from the big oak trees in my grandfather’s yard after raking. No one can resist taking a running leap into a pile with that musky smell of leaves and acorns.

His neighbor didn’t like the trees, said they were dangerous, so my grandfather, in a fit of rage, had them cut down. Things were never the same at the big house on the hill after that.

I remember the greasy smell of bacon as it cooked on the docks in the bay. We used it for bait until we caught a fish and then we’d use him for bait. Needle fish made great bait because when you cut them up they looked like links made for a fish hook, and it was great fishing off a saltwater dock because you never knew what you were going to catch. I always had to take my brother when I went fishing. I didn’t like to take fish off the hook.

Then there was the scent of security. Do you remember? For me it was Aqua Velva after shave. Dad put it on early in the mornings before heading for work and it gave us a sense of well being some have never experienced. For some folks it was Old Spice or just a clean smell coming from the bathroom. There’s a lot to be said for that sense of smell if you use it right to bring back the good stuff.

Do you wonder what scents the guys on the Potomac remember? I think maybe Elmer’s glue or Play-Doh would fit their mold. Seems like they’re always trying to put something back together when it gets broken or make something that never lasts long at the “D.C. Fun Factory.”

But who needs D.C. sense anyway? We have great scents, and more important ones right here at home?