I think I wrote about feeling a bit like George Plimpton a few years ago when I was writing for The Wild Ramp Market in Huntington, West Virginia.  (To bring the youngsters up to speed, George Plimpton was a writer/journalist who decided he would actually have the experience before he wrote about the Detroit Lions. That experience became a book, Paper Lion, and then a movie. He wrote of other sports as well, always having participated fully.)

At the time I was visiting farms and other food producers for the year-round local food market, there was a lot I did not know. I still don’t know much about farming, but it is because of all the questions I asked and the experiences I had that I have learned a bit. For example, milking a goat and processing chickens. That last one was never on my bucket list but I am glad for the experience.



Well, yesterday I had a similar chance to do something related to farming and processing that I never expected to.  The fact that it all was legal means I can tell you about it!

A friend vaguely asked me if I would help with his harvest and I asked, simply, winter squash?  It’s that time of year, after all, and Can-Do Real Food has a killer Winter Squash Coconut Curry instant soup recipe, so you see where my mind was.

No….he kept me guessing and then showed me a photo. Ahhhh….here in Oregon we are permitted to grow our own weed. There is a limitation and rules about how much you can grow for personal use. What I didn’t know at the time was his is a licensed medical grow operation, so we really were helping legitimately.

It has to be dried….a lot like tobacco. Anyone who has lived or visited the South or the Connecticut River Valley has noticed the drying sheds and barns.

It has to be trimmed….the unused portions removed from the good parts so the drying surfaces are smaller and easier to treat.



It has to be checked for mold….always something can go wrong but even with the recent rains, this harvest had only minimal amounts of decay.

I saw some awesome drying racks he was using that we have ordered for curing garlic next year! The synergy of learning new things in action.

So, why share this small blip in my education? Because I like to show you that learning can be very fun indeed. Be a life-long learner. Do not be afraid to step away from your comfort zone and learn new facts and abilities.

You never know who will invite you to an awesome activity!pumpkin-187601_1280






See what not to be….



Be a monster! I must be the reflection of the words I see.

Be a monster! The kind that is not a part of me.

Be a monster! Everything I am not.

The sins of another I must duplicate then find the man inside the monster of hate.

To be another person takes skill and finesse,

To become societies, monsters take talent to the test.

A brother, a son, a keeper of justice, with a time bomb inside.

Ready to explode on many occasions before and aft.

A reflection to take on so that its horrors are destroyed in reality.

To become a monster to convince people to not become, or be them.

My prayer is to be the change I wish to see.





I don’t believe in soap!  Deodorant has no consciousness, but if it did I am sure it would wish for a better life than the one of servitude for which it was created. A beautiful thing of wonderful fragrance protected from birth until finally one day it finds its own. The one person it is meant to be with for the rest of its life. It does not care that it is used once or twice a day and rarely appreciated. Used up on a short amount of time, stuck with a dirty job, never thanked or acknowledged; knowing it will be replaced as soon as it is no longer able to perform the most deplorable job.

Today was different. Of the thousands of bottles of deodorant, disposed of, forgotten, neglected, and taken for granted over the years, today I appreciated my deodorant. All it took was a glitter covered armpit, a clean smell, and a fresh new outlook. Never to treat soaps in such a despicable manner again. Thank you, soap, and enjoy your new glittered self.


The forty-two year old women had tended the bar for eighteen years. She had seen the owners change the bar name and theme eight times, and every kind of customer walk through the doors. If that wasn’t bad enough, eight years back she had moved upstairs to the small apartment. Now she never leaves except to buy groceries. Her skin is leathery from years of cigarettes, sun, and hard living. Her teeth half gone, no one had called her good looking in many a year.

Tonight she decided would be her last night in the bar. She had tried to get fired before, to no avail. The owners put up with her because they knew the customers loved her and the day she went so would half their clientele. Tonight she was determined, so she went to the church before work and borrowed a habit from a nun. She walked in to work and no one said a word. She gave lap dances to drunk customers, and her bosses didn’t flinch. Finally she jumped on the bar and poured beer on herself, watching the fabric turn see-through and sticking to her breasts.



Then, the infant awakened bright-eyed and giggled at his mother who wondered what babies dream about. She did not know they dream about their past lives.



The bishop poured the barbecue sauce over his mashed potatoes. He lived barbecue sauce as most people love hot, fresh cinnamon buns. He ate it on everything sweltry, including licking it off of his sultry love affairs. He bought the stuff in five-gallon jugs. He even got a restaurant license so that he could buy it in larger batches, hoarding it, for he knew one day its production would cease. He prayed fervently that the manufacturing would continue after his death. Sadly the gods and the fates laughed at his serious behest. Two years after his sixtieth birthday, to the day, the shipment stock came with the dreaded words: LAST SHIPMENT – CLOSE OUT SALE.” He wrote, called, and visited the company’s owners begging for the recipe, but to no avail. The company would keep its secret to the grave.



Three years passed with rationing. He made it to a young sixty-five when his body hit delirium tremens from the lack of sauce. He tried AA meetings, rehab and prayer. Nothing helped him overcome his torrid love affair. When the tremors began, he knew he was close to the end. The monosodium glutamate and other chemicals had done their work. Knowing that because of his addiction god would not receive him into the kingdom, he did what any sane man would do. He decided to end his life. Going through the aisles at the local store…on his way to the bullet department…to fulfill his life, he happened upon tapioca pudding from the sample lady. His eyes were opened, his life found new purpose. So, he retired by writing his story and cramming can after can of tapioca pudding down his engorged gullet. Until one day he exploded from over-mastication.

The moral: Better to barbecue a pit, than become the pudding!

Millennial Atheists (Cartoon) by Bors

Millennial Atheists (Cartoon) by Bors

Millennial Atheists

 Order a signed print of this comic from the artist.

“I’M STILL HERE…!” by Ernie Tucker

“I’M STILL HERE…!” by Ernie Tucker


I arrived in Eastern Kentucky in 1968, perhaps expecting to stay a year or two and then move on to greener and better pastures. I’m still here, so I must have liked something. I’ve learned to love the hills and the streams (though we haven’t always taken the best of care of either), the changing of the seasons, the trees and wild flowers, the regional traditions and the stories which go along with them, and the local family histories, all of which still are here. I never again want to live in a place where redbud trees don’t bloom in profusion in the spring, and where native white dogwood doesn’t dominate some of the hillsides.

I like Eastern Kentucky because, let’s face it; it’s not like every other place in America. For me, there may be no greener or better pastures than those I’ve found in Eastern Kentucky.

I heard expressions when I came here that I’d never heard before, wonderful expressions combined with regional pronunciations. A woman bragged to me, the college professor, that her daughter was “making a doctor” at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. I looked around to see if anybody was listening, although I was reasonably sure that some of that was going on in my hometown Louisville, too, but we didn’t brag about it to complete strangers! I later learned that “making” meant becoming, or studying to become.

A young man and his full-voiced friends came into a restaurant in Ashland, sat down near where I was eating and said, “You sprang your lag?” (“Sprained your leg?”). “No,” his friend replied, “a sprang, like in the garage door!” A student of mine informed me that he had “some tire on his car’s tar.” Only later was I to realize that what he had was tar on his car’s tire, a switch that some wordsmiths call “vowel reversal.” I also learned that “ranch” and “French” are often pronounced the very same way (“ranch” and “franch”), so you had to be a little careful when ordering salad dressing in a local restaurant.

“I wouldn’t care to,” replied a woman in response to a request I’d made. Where I came from, “wouldn’t care to” meant you didn’t want to, but here it meant, “I’ll be glad to do it. You just ask.”board-64269_1280

I was also to learn that there were certain things that had “heads,” such as the “head” of the hollow, and I found that the “head” of the creek was where the creek “commences.” I didn’t know that. And, I found that we don’t pass around praise or compliments freely: “pretty good” is about as good as it gets! Now, where I came from, pretty good meant pretty bad, but not in Eastern Kentucky. Pretty good meant very good indeed! But! But! There’s always an addendum, an additional ending, to remarks like “pretty good.” I call it “the Eastern Kentucky addendum.”

Consequently, I learned not to say “thank you” too soon. “You’re not a bad (the equivalent of “pretty good”) looking man,” said a lovely coed to me in a hall at Ashland Community College. I said, “Thank you.” I spoke too soon! She said, “For an old guy!” “You were pretty good; no, you were really good,” said a man after I had spoken to his service club in downtown Ashland. I said, “Thank you.” Again, I spoke too soon. “In fact,” he said, “you were a lot better than you were the first time you spoke to us,” his idea of a compliment!

After I had spoken for about forty-five minutes at the First Baptist Church, an elderly man rose up and said, “Professor Tucker that was the best four hours I’ve ever spent!” I think he was joking!

A fellow whom I had never seen before came into a restaurant where I was having lunch and said, “You’re Ernie Tucker, aren’t you?” I said, “Yes!” He said, “I understand that McAdoo Williamson and you know everything.” I said,

“Thank you!” He continued, “You and McAdoo, I’ve heard, know a hundred percent of whatever there is to know.” Again I said, “Thank you!” He said, “I understand McAdoo knows 98 percent of it!” font-425829_1280My friend McAdoo, who was named for Woodrow Wilson’s Secretary of the Interior, died in 2003, and did seem to know almost everything.

I love stories and I’m a pretty good listener, too. If a story has a genuine ring to it, I try to jot it down. I’ve always loved to talk to people who are older than I, though for some reason, there seem to be fewer of these people these days, and if they came off the farm or from a small town or had worked in the mines, I wanted to talk to them. Their stories are wonderful, often loaded with humor.

Kentuckians are storytellers, almost all of us, from Pike County on the Virginia border to the Jackson Purchase in the west. We tell stories, and we expect you to like them. If you don’t like stories, or if you come from a place where story telling is not a tradition, my advice is that you pretend to like them, because if you give any indication you don’t like our stories, if you turn away, for example, or you attempt to change the subject, or if your eyes go to the top of your forehead, we will never, ever, speak to you again.



donkey-43301_1920An old man, a boy and a donkey were going to town.
The boy rode on the donkey, and the old man walked.
As they went along they passed some people who remarked “What a shame, the old man is walking, the boy is riding.”
The man and boy thought maybe the critics were right, so they changed positions.

Later they passed some people who remarked “What a shame, he makes that little boy walk”.
So they decided they’d both walk.

Soon they passed some more people who remarked “They’re really stupid to walk when they have a decent donkey to ride.”
So they both decided to ride the donkey.
They passed some people who shamed them by saying “How awful to put such a load on a poor donkey.”
The boy and the man figured they were probably right, so they decide to carry the donkey.

As they crossed the rickety bridge, they lost their grip on the donkey, the donkey fell into the river in the gorge and drowned.

The moral of the story: If you try to please everyone, you might as well kiss your ass goodbye.

Author unknown.