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Rhubarb

August 7th, 2014 Leave a comment Go to comments

Rhubarb is a strange thing.  It isn’t a fruit but I love a rhubarb custard pie as much as the fruit variety.  It reminds me of the local farmers with the query about whether the rain will hurt the rhubarb — those old goat in the small farming community I grew up in would stand in their overall and complain about the weather that was never up to their needs.  I guess I’ve become one of those old farts with more complaints than compliments.

A last remark about rhubarb and the rain.   I always picture rhubarb as an old lady at a garden party.  When the rain comes it picks up its root like those old biddy pick up their skirts to run for cover.

The weather here has been weird.   My wind gauge has had the summer off.  It just sits there with little or no movement for hours.  I always thought I had a nice breeze here coming across the lake on hot days.  Hot days?  Not this year.  It is a cool summer.  The 7 day forecast is one that could have been run off on a copier — upper 70s days with low 60’s nights.  The utility company won’t have a good quarter.

Rain too has been weird.   Sparky got his basement flooded — no joy.  Here the other day there wasn’t a drop and a town next door quickly got over three inches and hail to boot.  Just another average day in a Midwest summer.

Well, let me ramble on.

The new dog is a very loving creature.  She is also timid to a fault.  Dependent is the term.  Even rain is a terrifying for her and I don’t mean thunderstorms.  We had her first gentle rain during the night a bit back.    I wouldn’t have known until the next morning except…  I was woken by a rump striking my shoulder as she arrive to cower next to me.  I guess I don’t need that rain gauge anymore.

I won’t ever cure her of her phobias but I am getting her to enjoy life and take a bit of a chance a bit more.  She even went out in the dark last night.  Hasn’t asked for a nightlight yet.  But the lights coming from various electronics really obviate the need for one.  I leave the modem and router on nights and their LEDs are very chatty.

If you’ve reached here, your boredom factor is amazing.

The new doctor is running me through a lot of tests.  So far nothing too serious.  I haven’t had to plead with the missing Dr. Chako for enlightenment.   I am getting that quit smoking line a lot.  He must have been schooled by my friend Linda over a www.pokerworks.com  — you should stop by as she’s resurrecting some of her dealing days and they are a good read.   Anyhoo… she death on smoking.

I, however, love the relaxation and friendship of my pipe or a cigarette.  Why do I have to give up that enjoyment, if it has served me for almost 60 years.   Doctors and women have this habit of making us over into an improved model.  And diet?  Thank god my mommy isn’t the first lady.  Please, pass the butter.  Off now to freshen my drink.  God bless Kentucky for that.

At this point I’ll let Mr. Sam Clemens finish off the blog.   You deserve a reward for getting this far.

The Moral Statistician.”


Originally published in Sketches, Old and New, 1893

I don’t want any of your statistics; I took your whole batch and lit my pipe with it.
I hate your kind of people. You are always ciphering out how much a man’s health is injured, and how much his intellect is impaired, and how many pitiful dollars and cents he wastes in the course of ninety-two years’ indulgence in the fatal practice of smoking; and in the equally fatal practice of drinking coffee; and in playing billiards occasionally; and in taking a glass of wine at dinner, etc. etc. And you are always figuring out how many women have been burned to death because of the dangerous fashion of wearing expansive hoops, etc. etc. You never see more than one side of the question.
You are blind to the fact that most old men in America smoke and drink coffee, although, according to your theory, they ought to have died young; and that hearty old Englishmen drink wine and survive it, and portly old Dutchmen both drink and smoke freely, and yet grow older and fatter all the time. And you never try to find out how much solid comfort, relaxation, and enjoyment a man derives from smoking in the course of a lifetime (which is worth ten times the money he would save by letting it alone), nor the appalling aggregate of happiness lost in a lifetime by your kind of people from not smoking. Of course you can save money by denying yourself all those little vicious enjoyments for fifty years; but then what can you do with it? What use can you put it to? Money can’t save your infinitesimal soul. All the use that money can be put to is to purchase comfort and enjoyment in this life; therefore, as you are an enemy to comfort and enjoyment where is the use of accumulating cash?
It won’t do for you to say that you can use it to better purpose in furnishing a good table, and in charities, and in supporting tract societies, because you know yourself that you people who have no petty vices are never known to give away a cent, and that you stint yourselves so in the matter of food that you are always feeble and hungry. And you never dare to laugh in the daytime for fear some poor wretch, seeing you in a good humor, will try to borrow a dollar of you; and in church you are always down on your knees, with your ears buried in the cushion, when the contribution-box comes around; and you never give the revenue officers a full statement of your income.
Now you know all these things yourself, don’t you? Very well, then, what is the use of your stringing out your miserable lives to a lean and withered old age? What is the use of your saving money that is so utterly worthless to you? In a word, why don’t you go off somewhere and die, and not be always trying to seduce people into becoming as ornery and unlovable as you are yourselves, by your villainous “moral statistics”?
Now, I don’t approve of dissipation, and I don’t indulge in it either; but I haven’t a particle of confidence in a man who has no redeeming petty vices. And so I don’t want to hear from you any more. I think you are the very same man who read me a long lecture last week about the degrading vice of smoking cigars, and then came back, in my absence, with your reprehensible fire-proof gloves on, and carried off my beautiful parlor stove.

Well, that is the news from Lake Wobegon NW Indiana  where the men are grumpy and the women nags.  Don’t get me started on the kids.

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  1. August 7th, 2014 at 15:01 | #1

    It’s funny that I never thought about whether rhubarb is a fruit or a veggie. When I Googled it just now, I saw this:

    Rhubarb is usually considered a vegetable. In the United States, however, a New York court decided in 1947 that since it was used in the United States as a fruit,

  2. August 8th, 2014 at 14:32 | #2

    In that 1947 declaration did they approve the marriage of Strawberry-Rhubarb? It too is a quite civil union.

  3. August 9th, 2014 at 10:49 | #3

    We lived in a number of places when I was a kid that had a rhubarb patch along the shed or side of the house. It must have been the thing ‘back when’ because I haven’t seen them in years – anywhere I lived – but Mom made rhubarb cobbler, rhubarb pie, etc. when available. I loved it.

    On dogs, I read a number of things that all say it takes a dog/owner about 2-3 months to start getting comfortable with each other. Hopefully your new gal will settle in a bit more. Nice that she has you to watch out for her. :-)

    The smoking thing, at our age, does it make a difference if you smoke? I doubt it. I’ve been away from it – even the odor around me – for so long now that I can smell a burning cigarette about 20 feet away. I hate it around me. Can’t stand the smell. But then I don’t care to walk thru a store and smell some woman that drenched herself in cologne either. Odors bother me a lot anymore (grouchy old bitch). My son Dan is living with me, he’s fought the smoking beast for years and has quit off and on and then started again. He’s now on e-cigarettes, his choice. There are so many flavors and smells that go with them. But the vaping isn’t a strong nose-ripping smell, it’s almost pleasant at times and leaves no residue around the house. I’m not a big fan of putting anything in your lungs since I have some bronchial issues as it is, I am reminded periodically that if I had continued to smoke this last 30 years or so, I’d probably be on oxygen now.

    Nice to see you post again my friend.

  4. Spot
    August 10th, 2014 at 14:41 | #4

    We had rhubarb growing up. I love it cooked with a bit of sugar. We tried it out here and while it grew well enough, it also went to seed, something I had not experienced back home. So I mowed it.

    Doing the e-cig thing with a modicum of success. Otherwise, I sneak out to the barn.

  5. August 10th, 2014 at 18:57 | #5

    Good to see you posting again!

    My wife’s garden included some rhubarb. Tonight’s dinner will feature a concoction of okra and green beans from the garden.

    My eyes and ears are terrible, but unfortunately the good Lord gave me a hooter that can smell with the best. Cigarette smoke — awful! Having had heart issues, I am thankful that I rarely smoked in my life. Otherwise, you might be referring to the memorial lightning36 blog.

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