Wednesday, September 02, 2015

it could be worse

FROG HOSPITAL -- Sept. 2, 2015 -- unsubscribe anytime
It Could Be Worse
By Fred Owens
I support Hillary Clinton for President. She is competent if uninspiring. She'll do, as they say. She needs a nickname, so let's call her Old Bones. She needs a slogan, so we can say "It could be worse." She gets my vote if the election were held today.

Hillary is the safe, moderate, middle of the road choice. Who needs excitement? I can watch excitement on TV.

Naming Names
The symbols of the season are changing. First the confederate flag went down and the junior high school that was named after Robert E. Lee goes by Harriet Tubman now. Next, Mount McKinley becomes Denali, as many Alaskans prefer.
Andrew Jackson will not last long on the twenty dollar bill. If it has to be changed, I would pick Eleanor Roosevelt.

Thomas Jefferson authored the Declaration of Independence and negotiated the Louisiana Purchase, buying the territory from the Emperor Napolean without consulting the inhabitants. He will be criticized for that land grab, and apologies will be made. Jefferson's reputation will be downgraded a notch, but he will remain in the pantheon of American heroes.

The Washington Redskins are privately owned. The team will change it's name when it loses fan support and corporate revenue.

That leaves Columbus Day, a looming target. It gets personal here. Christopher Columbus is one of my heroes. Columbus is the Great Navigator, he is an inspiration to all who are lost. He discovered the New World, although the people who got discovered did not know who the hell he was. October 12, 1492 is one of the most important dates in human history. On that day the world changed and the human race became united. I celebrate that day, although many do not.
Few people care about Columbus anymore, so look for his holiday to disappear or change, under pressure from native American groups who are on a winning streak now.
Climate Change is a Business Opportunity. It's as simple as spreading mulch instead of planting grass if you are in the landscaping business. Or if you have a plant nursery, you discontinue azaleas and stock up on succulents.
If you're in the building trades and the prediction is for warmer winters and hot summers, then the heating-cooling systems need to be changed and there's money to be made doing this. Invest in air conditioning.
The prediction is for rising seas. If you're in real estate, invest in higher ground.

On a bigger scale, if the Arctic ice cap keeps receding, then you plan on new shipping routes on the Northern Way.
My advice to young men and women starting out in life is this -- every change in the weather creates new jobs. When the flood comes, sell hip boots.
Fat Tom.  In the next issue I will continue the story about the Murder on Highway 20. This happened July 28 of 2000 in Skagit County around midnight. Naval officer Scott Kinkele was returning from a day's hike on Mt. Rainier. Eben Berriault and his half-brother Seth Anderson were on a spree of reckless abandon, speeding down the highway, driving drunk and shooting at signs and other vehicles. They pulled up behind Kinkele's car. Eben leaned out the window and shot Kinkele in the back of the head, killing him instantly. Kinkele slumped over the wheel and his car lurched sickeningly across the grass median strip and came to a halt on the other side of the highway. Eben and Seth kept going, back to their home in Anacortes. It was a shocking crime.
The story for next week is about Fat Tom. He was Seth Anderson's father.  Fat Tom was a good man, in his way .... but ..... but you will hear about him next week.
Frog Hospital Grows. We received a $50 subscription from a good friend in Boston. That brings us to $400 for the year. Our goal is $4,000, so we have a long way to go. -- notice the editorial "we."  Actually it's just me. Frog Hospital is honest work. Your check or PayPal donation will be greatly appreciated.
Take the money you were going to send to PBS. I need it more than they do. Sure, you like Bernie Sanders. Give him $20 and give me $20. Hillary Clinton has millions, she should be sending me money, for
Pete's sake.
Who's Pete?

Frog Hospital Subscriptions
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Send a check for $25 to
Fred Owens
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--
Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

My gardening blog is  Fred Owens
My writing blog is Frog Hospital



Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Murder on Highway 20



FROG HOSPITAL – August 26, 2015 – unsubscribe anytime
Murder on Highway 20
By Fred Owens
Eben Berriault shot and killed naval officer Scott Kinkele on Highway 20 in Skagit County. It was just past midnight on Friday, July 28, 2000. The prosecutor termed it a “thrill killing.” Berriault was convicted of first degree murder and is serving a 55-year sentence at Monroe Prison. This story is based on news accounts of the crime and my personal contact with Eben Berriault. It is not an objective account. I have known Eben since he was nine-years-old.
I wrote a letter to Eben Berriault. He's been in prison for fifteen years. I have not contacted him since the day he got arrested in 2000. I was at his house the day he got arrested, but I left before the cops came. Eben is somewhat notorious in Anacortes where he used to live. He was convicted of the murder of Scott Kinkele one night on Highway 20..... For that crime he was given a 55-year sentence..... Serving it in Monroe prison....Eben's mother and his wife and his two children visit him often and they have told me how he is getting along in prison.... But today I wrote him a letter. He can write back if he wants too. Or not..... I've known him since he was a blonde-haired nine-year-old boy playing and running around.... It's a common thing to hear people say this, but I never expected him to be spending his life in prison.....Why did he do it? To be honest, I am ashamed and embarrassed to admit that I know such a man. At the time of his arrest and conviction I kept my mouth shut and would not stand with him in court. His crime horrified people. His crime horrified me as well and I wished I had never known him or his family. But I do know them quite well. 
Eben and his brother Seth and I had talked about going fishing in Seth's new boat. We can go out in the channel and catch some salmon, I told them -- but instead they decided to run up to Mount Baker and go poaching a deer. That's when they got drunk and on the way home from the mountain they shot and killed Scott Kinkele..... Why didn't they go fishing with me? Nothing would have happened. I was a bit of a Scoutmaster to Eben and his brother and we would have drunk plenty of beers and broken a few fish and game regulations but nothing more than that.
Rhonda McLaughlin wrote to me on FB, “I was approximately 10 minutes ahead of this on my first night back to work after having a baby! I was heading home from LaConner to Anacortes on 20. I still get chills to this day when I pass the trees on the highway! So senseless!”
State Highway 20 runs all across Skagit County, from the Cascade Mountain Pass to the ferry landing in Anacortes. But it was on that stretch of highway past the Farmhouse Inn and just short of the bridge, where Eben Berriault murdered Scott Kinkele and left him for dead.
I have no understanding of why Eben shot Kinkele in the back, but I do understand about where it happened. That stretch of the highway has no soul. No soul. No spirit. No life. It is nowhere. No angels, no fairies, no ancestral ghosts. Only emptiness. The devil comes to earth in places like that. The devil waits until his people come to play out their evil purpose. Eben comes. His brother Seth comes driving drunk. Kinkele comes innocently, after stopping to buy gas. Did Kinkele know he had an appointment with Eben and his shot gun?
 The bridge over Swinomish Channel is named after Duane Berentson, a prominent local politician. The Farmhouse Inn was established by Torre Dybfest, a popular man who knew how to feed people and make good money doing that. The train tracks run parallel to the highway and out to the refineries, but were hardly ever used in 2000. Across the highway from the Farmhouse Inn was a seed company cleaning station. Across the Duane Berentson Bridge is the Swinomish Casino, source of new wealth for the tribe.
It was on that stretch of the highway between the Farmhouse Inn and the bridge where the crime took place. Not a bad place, but an empty place – so it seemed to me. That was my own emotional reaction to the crime in July of 2000 – I was not surprised it happened there.
You ask why. Why did Eben do it? Why did he pick that car, with that driver, at that time, on that stretch of the highway. Why?
Eben was not angry, not as I knew him, but he had this emptiness in him, an empty place in his psyche,  a blank space, vacant and missing.
In 1983 in Wenatchee, he was 19 years old and hanging out with Chipper and Bear from the STP family. Chipper and Bear were very dangerous, violent men and why he was drawn to them and their people I’ll never know. There was a drunken party around a campfire, then a fight, then guys came at someone with rocks, then rocks and kicks and the guy died, then they took his wallet and ran off. Eben was there and he was arrested for that and they got him to testify against the others in exchange for “only” a five-year sentence for manslaughter. Since he testified against the others, he was a marked man in prison society and served all five years in protective custody, which is very restrictive.
Eben was 19 when he went to prison and he didn’t do it – kill the guy – but he was there and that was enough and he wasn’t one to complain and say he got a raw deal. As I said, he never appeared angry, but there was this empty spot in him.
He was in prison out by Port Angeles and then for the last year of his sentence he was in Monroe prison. I remember seeing him the day after he got out. His mom came over to Mount Vernon to visit us on the farm – Eben and his mom, Eva Anderson, his brother, Jesse Berriault, his other younger brother Seth Anderson, and his two younger sisters, Ruby and Grace. They all came to see us at the farm and Eben had just gotten out of prison. He was in a state of electric shock. It was very strange to me – his extra-pale skin, his over-built muscles from confinement and weight-lifting, his super tension, like a five-year wound-up spring.
That was 1988. Eben lived with his family in Anacortes after that. He met and married a wonderful, sensible, caring woman – a black woman  from Belize. He really got lucky, to meet and marry her, she was a treasure. It seemed things were going well, on a steady track. They had two children and Eben worked construction, not steady but often enough, and drinking his beers at home and not too many beers. It seemed the bad times were all over, and 12 years passed since he got out of prison in 1988 until that night on Highway 20 when he shot and killed Scott Kinkele.
There was no reason to kill Kinkele. The prosecuting attorney called it a “thrill killing,” but that is not the right word. I don’t know the right word for what Eben did. There is no right word. He shot Kinkele and Kinkele died.
Dylann Roof shot and killed nine African-American church ladies in Charleston, South Carolina. It was a crime that shocked the nation, but Roof had a reason – he hated black people.
Eben didn’t hate anyone. He wasn’t angry, just empty and vacant enough for a bad spirit to enter him and take over his soul and get him to fire the weapon. That’s the best I can come up with. Crime – murder -- is that which does not make sense. Justice is how we make sense out of a crime. It made sense for the court to give Eben a life sentence in prison, a fifty-five year sentence to be exact. He belongs in prison.
I excuse him for the murder in Wenatchee in 1983 when he was 19. The way you clear him of that crime is to say the guy would have gotten killed in a brawl whether Eben was there or not there. Eben was caught in the wrong place at the wrong time and got a conviction for manslaughter. I knew those guys from the STP Family, and you come near them once and you never come near them again because they were very bad and violent. Eben didn’t do that. He hung around and ended up in prison.
But I don’t clear him of the murder on Highway 20. It was all his fault. He shot Kinkele for no reason. Kinkele was a naval officer, a graduate of Annapolis with everything to live for, but he died, and the woman he was meant to love and marry never met him, and the loving children he was meant to have were never born. Scott Kinkele was too young and his loss rippled across the world. His mother died three years later, of some medical condition to be sure, but truly of grief and anger over the loss of her son.  Eben’s younger brother Seth was driving the car that night. Seth was sentenced to 38 years at Walla Walla prison, but six months into his sentence he hung himself in his cell. So all those people suffered and died because of what Eben did. He belongs in prison for life.
His family, his wife and kids, and his mother, have always stood by him and visit him often.
Frog Hospital Subscriptions. We have taken in $350 from subscriptions so far this year and we are most grateful, but let’s aim higher, let’s aim for ten times that amount, let’s aim for $3,500. Keep those checks and PayPal payments coming in. And send me the name and email addresses of your friends, so that we can expand the Frog Hospital family.
Thank you very much.
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Saturday, August 15, 2015

New Life Begins

FROG HOSPITAL -- August 15, 2015 -- unsubscribe anytime
New Life Begins
By Fred Owens
New life arrives, begins, challenges, dares, evolves, fails, grinds, hankers, idealizes, jams, kicks, loses, matters, needs, opines, quits, rules, says, takes, underscores, values, wins, xonerates, yields, zings!
When does life begin? When did my life begin?
I was born on a Tuesday in June of 1946. I get this from the birth certificate. I was born in Evanston, Illinois, at Evanston Hospital. My parents checked into the hospital at 5:45 a.m. and I was born at 7:58 a.m. -- two hours later. I was my mother's fourth child. It didn't take long. I was going to write "an easy delivery," but I am not qualified to say that.

I imagine Fred and Marie waking up late that night and knowing it was time to go to the hospital -- the fourth time, with less drama. Mary Elizabeth, Tommy and Carolyn were all asleep. My parents must have arranged a babysitter for them. Some relative who was easily reached by telephone? I don't know.

Fred and Marie rented a three-bedroom stucco bungalow at 2646 Prairie Avenue, hardly a five-minute drive to the hospital. Fred commuted downtown to work. It was a short walk to the Northwestern station on Central Street. My birth certificate describes him as "salesman, magazine" -- he sold ads for the Sporting Goods Dealer. Dad was typical of a salesman in that he dressed very well and was very sociable, quick to pick up a check. He was an untypical salesman in that he didn't talk very much. Maybe that's why everybody like him -- he was a good listener.
He was 41 at the time of my birth, born in St. Louis, Missouri. Full name: Frederic Edward Owens. Mother was 31. Full maiden name: Marie Roselyn Cuny. Occupation: housewife. She was born in Chicago.
It was her folks they probably called early in the morning to come and watch the kids. They lived maybe twenty minutes away, an easy drive at 5 o'clock in the morning. It would have been Aunt Carolyn. She had a job downtown on LaSalle Street, a legal secretary. She kept that job for more than forty years, but that day, June 25, 1946, she woke up to hear the phone ring at 5 a.m. and she knew right away why the phone was ringing. And she knew that meant skipping work, to baby sit my older siblings, Mary Elizabeth, 7, Thomas Joseph, 4, and Carolyn Therese, 2.
I was born at 7:58 a.m. The birth certificate does not say how much I weighed, although I remember mom telling me I was a nine-pounder. I was named Frederic Edward Owens Jr. after my father. I was born a male, after nine months of pregnancy. In the box marked legitimate, it was checked off yes. I was legitimate.
My parents were both white. They were also both Roman Catholic, but it doesn't say that on the birth certificate.
My eyes were treated with Argyrol 20 % which is silver nitrate, commonly used to prevent some kind of eye disease.
I was a healthy baby. Mom stayed in the hospital several days, as was the practice in those days. Tuesday, the day of my birth, Dad would have taken the day off, but he likely went back to work on Wednesday.
Then who watched the three kids at home while Mom was resting at the hospital?  I don't know. Aunt Carolyn had to get back to work too.
Having four kids now and needing more room, and Dad doing well on the job, my parents bought a house at 1612 Forest Ave. in Wilmette, about one mile north of the Prairie Avenue rental. Both houses are still there, made of stucco and not changed very much. My Dad died in 1974. My sister Mary Elizabeth also died that year. My mother lived until 1996, making fifty years in that Wilmette house.
Henry Zettelman, M.D. delivered the baby -- I aImost forgot that.
You Can't Be President.  Every day Bernie Sanders wakes up and someone tells him he can't be President. "You're a good guy, Bernie, but you haven't got a chance."
So if all the people who "can't be President" voted for Bernie, he would win in a landslide.
It is dismissive and smug to state that he "can't win,"  as if Sanders and his supporters are fools to even try.
California California farm exports to China will decrease because of the devaluation of the Chinese yuan according to this story in the Los Angeles Times

California farmers sold $2.3 billion in agricultural products to China in 2012, with almonds, dairy products, wine, walnuts and pistachios making up the top five products, according to the California Department of Food and Agriculture. That number will
be lower in 2015.

The Bail Trap.
This New York Times magazine article describes many thousands of prisoners held in county jails because they cannot post bail. This needs to stop.

A rich man gets a mansion and a poor man rents a flat -- fair enough. But if the rich man commits a crime he can post bail and sleep in his own bed while the poor man rots in his jail cell. This is not fair, and it can be remedied. Bail needs to be set in proportion to the crime and set low enough for the poor man.    Sandra Bland, who died in her Texas jail cell, might still be alive if her bail had been set at $100 instead of $500...... Her arrest served no purpose, but leaving that aside, a $500 bail was too high.....and she need not have died in custody.
Personal Stuff

I Don't Get It. I don't get it. I never got it. I may have had it a long time ago, but I forgot where I put it. Did you take it? Can I have it back?

Wendell Berry gets a medal and I don't. President Obama invited Wendell Berry to the White House and gave him a medal. Why does he get a medal and not me? He's an environmental activist and talented writer. So am I. Where's my parade? I look in the mirror and figure I'm just as good as Wendell Berry.
Just last week I rescued a drought-damaged camellia. It almost certainly would have died without my emergency care, but did I get a medal? A phone call from President Obama?

Harriet Spanel. Former Washington State Senator Harriet Spanel has been a long-time reader of Frog Hospital. I appreciate her interest and support.. She mailed me a check for $25 to help keep it going. And you can send your check today, or pay on PayPal. Frog Hospital is growing and ready to reach a higher level and we need your help to get there.


Frog Hospital Subscriptions
Go to the Frog Hospital blog and hit the PayPal button for $25, or
Send a check for $25 to
Fred Owens
1105 Veronica Springs RD
Santa Barbara, CA 93105

 

--
Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

My gardening blog is  Fred Owens
My writing blog is Frog Hospital



Sunday, August 09, 2015

Camellias in Distress



 Almost overnight Donald Trump got too boring to talk about, so I bumped him to the end of the newsletter, and will lead with this garden melodrama.

I had a camellia just up and die -- over at my customer's yard, by her front door. It had looked poorly with yellowing leaves, but then last week it just went south and all the leaves turned brown and crinkly, not a single green leaf. I went into emergency treatment for what it was worth -- I did some radical pruning and made the camellia smaller by half, figuring to lighten the load. Then I flooded it with water.
The radical pruning and flood of water might shock it back to life. Or not.
I figure we're going to lose a lot of trees around here because of the drought. Trees have a way of not showing signs. One day they look fine, next day they're dead. It's like their running on reserve energy and one day the tank is empty and that puts the kibosh.
Gonna lose a lot of trees. Have to plant more trees is all I can think to say.

Drought News. Californians statewide have reduced their water use by 27 percent and this is without threat of fine or punishment. It seems we are all pitching in as best we can. Walking neighborhoods I see many lawns taken out. The water agency gives a cash rebate for lawn removal as an incentive, and that fund is fully subscribed. This is a non-coercive program that is working and saving a lot of water.
California agriculture uses 80 percent of all water in the state. This is a good thing. Farms should get most of the water. It's food, it's fiber and it's jobs. All good. Farmers are facing cutbacks equal to or greater than residential users.
The only crop I have researched fully is the local avocado crop here in Santa Barbara. Having studied the numbers, acreage, crop yield, etc., having interviewed the growers and interviewed the water agencies, I found the facts are clear that the avocado growers are getting squeezed much harder than residential users. Nobody has it easy.
El Nino. The air is humid and the ocean is warm -- signs of El Nino and autumn rain. This could be good.

Work. I have had a hard time finding garden work. My girl friend says it's the drought and people just aren't doing much. I think it's my age and people don't want me to keel over dead on their property. They won't come right out and say that, but I know what they're thinking. I suppose I do not convey youthful vigor. And the fact is that I keep shifting the context -- from hard manual labor to the finesse work more suitable to my senior status -- pruning the roses.

Besides that, I am getting particular about who I work for. Like the lady last week -- I did this high quality pruning job for her which required the ability to speak and understand the English language, so that I was able to do it precisely the way she wanted it done.

When I was finished, I told her how much and she haggled me over the bill,  -- cheapskate!  I don't need that grief, although there is not much I can do about it. Santa Barbara is flooded with immigrant labor and people are used to getting their yard work done for very little.
I'll say it again. When the environmental age comes the gardener will be paid as much as the plumber, but we're not there yet.

Figgie Jam. Fig trees grow at the Mesa Harmony Community Garden where I volunteer. We never water them -- they laugh at the drought and bear fruit regardless. I picked a sampling of figs and gave some to Heidi at the liquor store. She's from Syria, where figs are a staple of life. Her family is from Homs, in Syria where most of the city is destroyed by the civil war. Her family is killed, wounded, in hiding and in exile, and she won't talk about it. But I gave her the figs and she smiled brightly.
The other figs I took home and cut them up, threw them in a pot with sugar and cooked them into figgie jam  --  delicious, tender, green figgie jam.
A few days later more figs ripened. I picked five pounds and brought them to the local Food Bank.
And more figs are coming. Fig trees are laughing at the drought, roots down deep and built to last.

Free Speech. I don't know who makes the rules, and I don't know what the rules are. I know what the rules used to be -- in matters of  polite discourse in mixed company. Even using the term "mixed company" dates me.

There was a double standard, back when there were only two sexes -- one way to treat women, another way to treat men. I thought an adjustment was in order but I can't believe they want to throw out the whole program.

It  gets confusing. Now there's like a quadruple standard for four sexes and countless gender variations. One cannot make assumptions. Like someone calls you and says "This is Ralph."  He's a guy, right? Are you sure?

You have sex in left field and gender in right field, and a hole in the culture as wide as a jumbo jet. Donald Trump just flew right through it. You say he broke the rules -- what rules?

The rules keep changing and people don't know how to behave. There is no agreement and no consensus. There is no arbiter, no editor, no referee,  no captain. The storm is raging and it's every man -- belay that! -- every person for his or herself.
Turmoil. Disruption. Chaos.

The Haircut. I went to the Mesa Barber Shop last Thursday, 8 a.m., for a haircut. I got in the chair and told a Donald Trump joke. "Maybe he's a got a billion dollars and a private jet, but I have a better haircut." Nobody laughed. Maybe it's not a funny joke. Or maybe it's because all the barbers are Mexican, and all the customers too, except for me and they don't like Donald Trump and it's not funny.
Well, I got a good haircut and left a good tip.
It is a hall mark of cultural interaction to make blundering statements. In fact, such blundering, embarrassing statements are an important part of the process. Never apologize. Never rehearse. Just keep going. Avoid sensitivity training at all costs. Don't try to say the right thing -- just blurt it out.
Although saying "you people......" usually doesn't work.
Sweet Santa Barbara. Please disregard any complaints I make. I live near the beach in Santa Barbara with a beautiful woman.

Frog Hospital Subscriptions
Go to the Frog Hospital blog and hit the PayPal button for $25, or
Send a check for $25 to
Fred Owens
1105 Veronica Springs RD
Santa Barbara, CA 93105






--
Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

My gardening blog is  Fred Owens
My writing blog is Frog Hospital



Monday, August 03, 2015

Transgender Baseball


This story starts in Wilmette, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, where I grew up. The year is 1955, an important year because the Dodgers beat the Yankees in the World Series that year and I watched every game.

It all made sense. There were eight teams in the National League and eight teams in the American League. They played 154 games each season, and the two best teams went to the World Series and everybody watched the game.
Things began to change. In 1958 the Dodgers and the Giants moved to California, and I could deal with that. Then they added expansion teams in unusual places like Houston and started tinkering with the schedule  -- it was the 60s and all hell broke loose.
Players started growing funky mustaches and wearing gold chains. Even worse --  they became free agents. I couldn't understand it.
Ted Williams belonged in Boston and Stan Musial belonged in St. Louis. How could anybody just change teams?
But it was still the National League and the American League.
Recently I watched a game on TV -- the Angels against the Astros. I began to feel completely un-moored -- because the Astros had switched from National League to American League. They can do that? They can't do that.... no. That's Transgender Baseball. You're born in the National League and you live your life in the National League. But not anymore.
Everybody is switching willy-nilly, changing teams every week. And you think -- experiments are good and traditions are boring. Let's change the game! Sure!
But how far does that go? Is safe still safe? Is out still out? And is that a matter of opinion? It seems like safe to me, but if you think it's out, then I guess you're entitled. And who am I to judge? -- said the Pope, but not the umpire. Not yet the umpire.
What if crying was allowed, and even encouraged? What if nice guys finished in first place?

This explains why Donald Trump is so popular. People are confused and frightened.

Mike Huckabee Talks Like a Baptist. Last week former Arkansas Governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee said we should not make a nuclear arms deal with Iran because if the Iranians get the bomb they will put the Jews in the oven. Not an exact quote, but the key phrase is "in the oven" referencing the Holocaust. Huckabee was not being offensive as some charged, he was simply talking like a Baptist. Millions of Baptists live in this country and most of them talk like Mike Huckabee.

It's annoying. That's why I have only one Baptist friend. I have a lot of Jewish friends but only one Baptist friends and he is on probation. Deep in his heart, my Baptist friend wants me to join his church. He can hide it, but sooner or later it slips out and I have to slap him around. "In your wildest dreams, what makes you think I have any intention of ever setting foot in your church?" That will shut him up for a while and we can enjoy talking about other things.
Jimmy Carter is a Baptist, but he doesn't talk like one. That's why he got elected.
Cecil the Lion. You need to live in Africa for three years in order to really know the place. I lived in Africa for one year and learned just enough to be wrong most of the time. So keep that in mind when I say this -- I never met an African who expressed the smallest interest in the welfare of animals. Maybe they should care, but they don't care, and it's their country. This was disturbing to me when I realized that big parks like Hwange in Zimbabwe were managed for tourist income, but not for any innate love of the lion or the elephant.
I began to see the African point of view. And it's what you have to work with if you care about the wildlife. Americans and Europeans love these magnificent animals and pay to keep them alive. There's nothing wrong with that. It's not neo-colonial or arrogant. That's where you start if you want to make it better.
You take a small farmer near the border of Hwange Park and his patch of corn. Supposing one or several elephants come cruising across his farm and trample his corn? That happens all the time. Elephants are not cute and lions are predators. These large animals can be difficult to live with.
 
Frog Hospital Subscriptions
Go to the Frog Hospital blog and hit the PayPal button for $25, or
Send a check for $25 to
Fred Owens
1105 Veronica Springs RD
Santa Barbara, CA 93105




--
Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

My gardening blog is  Fred Owens
My writing blog is Frog Hospital






--
Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

My gardening blog is  Fred Owens
My writing blog is Frog Hospital



Monday, July 27, 2015

African Wedding

FROG HOSPITAL -- July 26, 2015 -- unsubscribe anytime
Zimbabwe, 1997
By Fred Owens

​An African Wedding. The bride and her brothers stand with the groom -- that is -- me. Precious has changed from her bridal gown to a festive red dress. Uncle Smiley is striking a pose by leaning with cousin Tanti.

It seems we are discussing the serious midlife question of marriage. Last week it was Kansas, 1976, and my first wife when I was 30 This week it is Zimbabwe, 1997, and my second wife when I was 51.
I was completely serious about marriage. In all my youthful rebellion against authority -- against the Church, the Corporation, the University and the Government -- in all that rebellion I never questioned marriage, but always believed it was just the way it was supposed to be, that a man and a woman should belong to each other and love each other their whole lives and have children, and if the man and the woman loved each other completely, then the children would be just fine.
I always believed that because that's how I grew up. My father loved my mother  -- things were as they should be. So some day I would do the same.
Twice. I got married twice. I had such an unshakable belief, but really a trust -- I trusted that I would choose the right woman. It could not possibly choose wrongly because my intentions were so good and true.
I'm tired of apologizing for this. It's what I did. And what I did was the best I could do. I got married. Completely, body and soul, binding, under the full force of the law, man and wife.

African wedding customs agreed with my own attitude. In Africa there is no concept of being single. It just doesn't exist. Everyone is married, and often. The idea of any solitary existence is simply too strange for Africans to understand.

Indoda is the word for man and the word for husband. A man is a husband and a father or he is not a man. Umfazi is the word for woman and wife. A woman is a wife and mother or she is not a woman.
People get married in Africa. It's as natural as getting out of bed in the morning.
I wore a suit with a red tie. She wore full-dress Western-style bridal gown, rented. We  had a cake and champagne afterward, a reception with lots of food and beverages.  Zimbabweans get married in a modern style and do not put on a tribal dance for the tourists.
Fifty Matakas came to our house on the wedding day -- all cousins and aunties, brothers, sisters, and a few friends. Precious didn't really have many friends -- just tons of relatives. Fifty Matakas and me.
I was so glad that Lieutenant Jones showed up, a neighbor, an officer in the Zimbabwe National Army. He was a colored man and he stood for me  -- the Best Man. Jones was half-white himself -- about the color of Barack Obama -- and had that same even temperament.
The Matakas came to the house and the rented car waited in the driveway and Precious put on her beautiful white gown and veil.
The wedding party was small. Lt. Jones drove the car. Mr. Mataka took the honored front seat. Precious and I and her cousin Tanti squeezed into the back seat.
We drove downtown, ten minutes from the house, to the office of an Indian travel agent, but he was also a Justice of the Peace and he kept a richly furnished wood-panelled court room upstairs, where the vows were spoken and the documents were signed.
And then we drove back to the house. I was in a state of shock.
Did we actually do that?   I was so glad Lt. Jones was there, otherwise I was all alone in a sea of fifty Matakas.
Jones' wedding advice was clear -- "You must move far away because the Matakas have a very large family. You cannot feed them, they will use all your money and you will become poor."
This is exactly what happened -- we did not move far enough away. The Matakas used all my money and I became poor, but it took seven years and I don't want to get into that. I'm trying to write a happy story -- the union of America and Africa -- a bridge of understanding and love.

The wedding day was marvelous. Everyone was happy and I was proud of my house and my new family. Finally everybody left, piling into Mr. T's overloaded pickup truck and Precious and I were left alone with a bottle of brandy to face the future.

And there was love, but the understanding never came.



--
Fred Owens
cell: 360-739-0214

My gardening blog is  Fred Owens
My writing blog is Frog Hospital



Wednesday, July 22, 2015

I'm tired of apologizing for this. It's what we did. And what we did was the best we could do. We got married. Completely, body and soul, binding, under the full force of the law, man and wife.

In Africa there is no concept of being single. It just doesn't exist. Everyone is married, and often. The idea of any solitary existence is simply too strange for Africans to understand. You mean, you want to be alone?

Indoda is the word for man and the word for husband. A man is a husband and a father or he is not a man. Umfazi is the word for woman and wife. A woman is a wife and mother or she is not a woman.