Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Sunflowers at the Grinter Farm

A field of sunflowers at the Grinter Farm, near where I live, attracted a number of people over the past two weeks.  The farmer welcomed visitors and sold sunflower heads for a dollar each. Like many other photographers, who were posing teens and babies, I managed to wander through this field while hunting for photo opportunities. There was so much traffic on Labor Day that I couldn't get close to the field and had to wait until the following Wednesday.  I would have returned for another visit if there had been enough time.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Scenes of GMO Corn

One thing I enjoy is driving along the country roads in my area. Whenever it is possible, perhaps because I have the time or because I am alone, I take the least traveled route to my destination. It offers an opportunity to enjoy the scenery and to listen to music.  These opportunities occur once in a while.  A few pictures of the GMO corn grown in this area appear below. This corn, when it is harvested later in September, is used as food for cattle. According to a recent article in the newspaper, the great majority of the corn grown in Kansas is genetically modified.

Red Barn Farm in Early September

I recently made a trip to Red Barn Farm, which is located near Weston, Missouri.  Making a visit to this place is an early autumn event for my family. We hope to return in early October when there are even more pumpkins on display. Since my visit last year, the owner has created a new barn for wedding parties and other special events, making it possible to attract visitors to the pumpkin display, apple picking, and small store while hosting weddings in another part of the farm. Diversifying generates more income.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

On Turning 64

When I was hearing Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in high school, particularly the song, “When I’m 64,” I didn’t think about myself ever reaching the age of 64. It seemed so far away, and I never fantasized about the kind of life I might have at that age.  My wife reminded me of that song by singing it to me when I turned 64 this year.

I now feel as if I inhabit an altered version of Millais’ Autumn Leaves, one in which people my age are standing next to a pile of fallen leaves. That presence of death informs every day.  I often think about the people I have known whose lives were cut short. I think about those family members who are no longer a part of my life.

In many ways I feel lucky to have lived as long as I have. I wonder, too, how I have managed to live so long without significant health concerns. My mother lived until her 80’s, despite her having had breast cancer in her 30’s. My father lived until his 80’s as well. I apparently can expect a certain amount of longevity because of the genes I inherited from my parents.

I would have quit smoking much sooner if I had thought more seriously about myself getting older. My lungs are scared from having smoked cigarettes for twenty-four years. It has been twenty-one years since I quit smoking. I now inhale a corticosteroid twice a day to control my asthma and sometimes find it difficult to catch my breath when climbing stairs or when the humidity is particularly high. The air conditioner, I have discovered, is much better at filtering the air than the heater. It is easier to breathe during those times of year when the air conditioner runs, probably because the air is cleansed of cat dander.

Because of that uncertainty of how much time remains in my life, what I try to do is make each day enjoyable in some way—by listening to music, taking pictures, walking in nature, and spending time with my wife.  Having given up as many processed foods as possible, I like waking up to a breakfast of fresh fruit, carrots, and toast with peanut butter. I think of it as the best meal of the day.

There are places that I would like to see, but I am not much of a traveler anymore and find it incredibly difficult to sleep in hotels. There are things I still want to achieve, such as writing essays and writing more poems, and I hope to have the time to do so.

Having reached the age of 64 for four months now, I am reminded of those friends and family that I have lost and try to do what I can, in terms of exercising and eating very little processed food, to live as well as possible for that uncertain amount of time that remains.