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Finding troubling news items

As usual, my morning begins with reading the newspaper, the Marshall Independent on weekdays and the StarTribune on Sunday. These days it would be possible for me to read my morning news either on my smart phone or on my computer, but I am still of the old school, enjoying the physical paper in my hands. It is much easier to go back and read various parts a second time than backing up one of the screens on phone or computer — or at least I think that is so.

On the phone if I get into going through various news items, I sometimes have tried to retrace my steps to get back to something I had looked at maybe five minutes earlier. To no avail. That’s when I say, “Oh, Fiddlesticks!” and just give up on finding what had interested me.

In Sunday’s StarTribune this week, section B, page 3, I became intrigued by the article, headlined: ‘Patriots’ Rally Denounces Masks, Black Lives Matter. As usual, I was a bit confused. Did the headline infer that wearing masks was wrong but they want everyone to know that despite that, that Black Lives do Matter?

Or did it mean that they were denouncing and saying that Black Lives don’t Matter? That was enough for me to have to attempt reading the entire article.

If you had guessed that the rally also was denouncing Black Lives Matter, you would have been correct. There were also some of what I would call irrational jumps in reasoning, such as one person who is quoted as saying, “White people are the devil, if you listen to Black Lives Matter.”

As for wearing masks, I was particularly troubled by a registered nurse supposedly saying, that “…masks do not help prevent spread of the virus and should be rejected.” Made me wonder if the nurse had worked in one of the intensive care units treating COVID-19 patients in such as New York City.

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Before I leave writing about this article, I noted it, and the accompanying picture of the marchers, covered more than half a page of the paper. The picture itself was interesting as about four/fifths or more of the picture was of the St. Paul Cathedral, a beautiful piece of architecture, with just a small bottom portion of the picture showing the marchers. That was of particular interest in that the article never mentions the cathedral, but instead says, “A couple hundred people … gathered in front of the Minnesota State Capitol on Saturday for an event billed as United We Stand & Patriots March for America.” The capitol is nowhere to be seen in the picture.

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Before the pandemic, if I found that the news was getting a bit depressing, I could seek out some companionship with whom I might visit a bit about more pleasant things or maybe even play a hand or two of cards or a board game or maybe even just socialize a bit at the YMCA. The pandemic has meant that sometimes to distract myself from current thoughts, I have found that a drive through the countryside can also be restful.

In the spring it was good to see the empty fields come alive first with small plants and eventually with many 8 foot tall corn stalks overshadowing the fields with more low profile soy bean plants.

I must admit that I am not a great fan of corn, preferring other vegetables like green beans, peas, broccoli, and such. But it is not possible to live in this area or any corn growing area without enjoying corn on the cob “in season.” Growing up in the late 1940s I remember going to Aunt Irma’s and Uncle Ralph’s farm. I should mention that they weren’t related in any way, but out of respect we called any number of my parents’ friends by some honorific for age.

In the spring, Irma and Ralph had a corn feed that was held in a small woods on the edge of their farm. However, if I remember correctly, they did not grow sweet corn, but used their corn mainly for cattle feed. So we had very new ears of field corn that were boiled in a huge pot over a wood fire. The season for eating such corn was very short.

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As kids, we enjoyed the run of the woods that also had some blackberries for harvesting. I also remember lots of puff balls on the ground. Some puff balls would get to be 10 or more inches in diameter. Though puff balls may be edible, there are also some mushrooms that may look similar to puffballs that are inedible or even poisonous. We kids liked them in late summer as they aged because you could poke them and the mature spores would come out a hole in a brownish cloud.

The problem with going in the woods back then was the chiggers – small mites that bite and cause itching. We usually prepared for this problem by lathering with Fels Naptha bar soap especially around sock lines and belt lines and other such tight places. Fels Naptha also helped in treating poison ivy, poison oak or poison sumac. After the woods, showering or bathing using Fels Naptha was also recommended. However, some additives to such soap these days might be harmful if used on the skin.

Until next time: Oh, Fiddlesticks!

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