The Worst Ever!

For Goodness Sake, Read History (Part 2)

A few days ago I received an interesting phone call from some lady wanting to share a few Bible verses with me. She started out by quoting Jeremiah 29:11-12, then began talking about having peace during these troubled times. Especially with this pandemic – the worst that’s ever been!

Reader of history that I am, I reminded her of the Black Death. In the 1300’s the Bubonic Plague was brought back to Italy by sailors returning from the orient; it subsequently swept through Europe in several waves and wiped out about a third of the population of the western world. A person could argue that Covid-19 could have been as bad; however, we’ve taken extreme precautions and also have access to an infinitely better health care system.

Plus, our lot is easier because we have less corruption. I read once that in some Italian cities men were hired to go house to house and bring out any that were diseased. These toughs were given free rein to “diagnose” and haul away anyone they didn’t like or demand payment – in whatever form – from the home’s occupants. Occupants unwilling to pay risked being tossed on the cart with those already infected and/or dying.

Pardon me, but the only reason anyone can say this is the worst pandemic in history is because they don’t know history. Even the Spanish ‘flu was worse, as health care was limited and whole families sometimes died. People may be pretty panicked now, but there’s nothing like the superstition of the Middle Ages. No one has resorted to self-flagellation as some did during the Bubonic plague, going from town to town whipping and slashing themselves to gain the sympathy of the gods in hopes of averting the plague.

Climatic Disaster and Famine

Last night in Bible Study we were going over Joseph being sold into slavery in Egypt and Pharoah’s dream, which Joseph interpreted. (Genesis Ch.41) Joseph predicted seven years of plenty, followed by seven lean years. According to the Bible account, this was a widespread catastrophe. It dawned on me that the drought and famine in Egypt would have been a lot like our “Dirty thirties” years.

People in the Thirties may have said, “This is the worst climatic disaster in history,” but I suspect there have been various climatic disasters before that one. Most of us have never heard about them. In most cases records weren’t kept; the accounts became simple folklore.

Thankfully, the Great Plains people learned a lot from those dry years; farming practices have changed drastically since the drought and soil moisture conservation has become a priority.

As to the Middle East famine, Joseph was able to guide Egypt through those years and preserve his own family as well. But over all, the land that was once a breadbasket is now desert sand.

Buying, Selling, and Lessons Learned

One good thing is that Egypt didn’t have a stock market to crash like ours did in 1929. In that sense the Thirties delivered a double-whammy here in North America. Then with a war looming — things must have looked pretty bleak indeed to our grandparents.

In the 1920s the sale of stocks was booming, investors were making piles, and bankers came under pressure to make collateral-free loans to wannabe stock-buyers. All these new players drove the price of stocks up, but seasoned traders were keeping a nervous eye on the trading, knowing stock prices had to level off and maybe even drop.

On “Black Tuesday” Oct 29, 1929 someone(s) got so nervous he/they dumped thousands of stocks on the market. Others investors saw this and figured, “Ah! Someone knows something. Prices are going to drop. We’re selling, too!” Sixteen million shares were thrown on the market that day and more during the rest of the week. By Friday the market was flooded with shares no one wanted to buy. The rest is history.

In the 1990’s the US government, under pressure from builders, increased the sale of new houses by urging bankers to give collateral-free loans with very low interest rates. Mortgages were contracted right and left; new home buyers gave the housing market the shot in the arm builders were hoping for. But when those mortgages came up for renewal at the regular interest rate… The rest is history.

The housing market crash and ensuing depression didn’t hit us as hard here in Canada because a) Canadian bankers are far too cautious to make collateral-free loans and b) you can’t legally walk away from a mortgage you’ve contracted here in Canada. If the mortgage holder defaults, the bank may repossess and sell the house but the holder is legally liable to pay whatever is still owing.

Fifty years from now will someone again come up with some new purchase people must make and urge bankers to make low-interest, collateral-free loans so people can have this new necessity? And it will lead to another depression? Or will our descendants read these histories and learn that this hasn’t worked well in the past?

Saturday Chat

Yesterday morning, standing in front of our south picture window letting the sun warm me, I had to think, “How the worm has turned!” Just last week all the drapes were drawn and we were trying hard to stay cool, the temp outside being 35̊ C. But yesterday morning the house was actually chilly.

After a few cooler days, I understand the worm is turning back again. I’m writing this at 2pm Saturday and it’s quite warm outside. Thursday afternoon we had a wild storm with 3/10″ of rain; in spite of that two hummers have decided to stick with us – our generous feeder, that is – for awhile longer. There’s one I think of as “old mother hummer” because she looks like one. When it comes to feeder-rights she’s obviously at the top of the pecking order; she sits on it like she owns it. I’m thinking this is the same hummer that stayed into Sept last year.

The Ragtag Daily Prompt word today is GLITCH. Which reminds me, how are you all making out with the new Block–Ed. Still encountering glitches when you try to post? I still miss the one-shot Block & Justify feature. Doing it paragraph by paragraph is tedious, but it works. Now, if only I could see that is has worked, but that doesn’t show up in the draft. On the other hand, I really like the way I can shuffle paragraphs around with a click, click on the little arrow.

For me this week had a unique glitch in it when I discovered a lump appearing where it shouldn’t and we had to go to the hospital Wednesday morning. Thankfully it was never painful, just out of place, as hernias are. I was thinking this may require a quick minor surgery and went prepared, but the doctor was able to re-place it without too much distress to me. Now I need to do some exercises to strengthen the muscle that should be holding it in place. Fellow couch potatoes, be warned!

One good thing came of it, though. Sitting several hours in Emergency waiting to see a Dr, I finished the e-book I was reading. And when I got home, in the course of taking things easy, I finished a couple more. I’m a bad one for having several books on the go at a time. OCD? Just read another Jeeves and Wooster tale, Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen, trying not to laugh too hard.

Covid-19 cases continue to decline here after the last round of fresh ones. To date Saskatchewan has had 1,165 cases, with1,548 recovered and 24 deaths. Out of a population of 1.182 million, so thankfully for us Covid-19 hasn’t been the “grim reaper” some folks were predicting. Most everyone’s wearing a mask now and some stores like Walmart & Costco insist. With my hearing problems, I’ll be so glad when a vaccine is found and we can talk face-to-face again. I can’t imagine how deaf people are making out!

The fields not combined are all golden, but a lot of fields are just stubble now as harvest continues, seemingly unhampered by Thursday’s storm. The crops have looked really lush this summer; now fat round bales are appearing in fields all around us.

And that’s about all the news from our small corner. Take care, everyone, and I hope you all have a great weekend.

Harvest Begins on the Prairies

The Ragtag Daily Prompt this morning was HARVEST

For me this was a very timely prompt. Yesterday on our way to Saskatoon we passed the first field being combined in this area. A combine was chomping its way through a field of lentils. An article in the Western Producer includes a good picture of a field of lentils being harvested. And here’s another from Simpson Seeds.

Low-growing and dusty to harvest, this rusty-gold crop is a common sight in these parts. Farmers tell me lentils do best when somewhat stressed and growing conditions here — the hot, dry summers — are great at giving crops stress. 🙂

Lentils were unheard of here on the prairies when I was a girl, but now Canada is the world’s leading producer and exporter of lentils, and farmers here in Saskatchewan are producing 95% of the lentils harvested. Lentils.org, one information site, says: “Canada only began growing lentils in the 1970’s – now there are over 5,000 active lentil farmers in Canada.”

Resting

The Ragtag Daily Prompt today is EASY-GOING

Since this prompt was my suggestion,
I’ll offer this pastoral little verse to go with it.

Bull.Ralph.Siebeck
Image: Ralph Siebeck — Pixabay

RESTING

Hendrick the Hereford rests in the shade
having fulfilled his duties;
all summer long life was a song
romancing bovine beauties.
Now it’s fall and he feels the call
to loaf in the dappled dale,
munch his way through a bale of hay
and swat pesky flies with his tail.

Summer, Baled and Stored

Richness of the pasture,
the warmth of sunshine,
rains of heaven: a prairie
summer captured in clover,
cut, ripened, baled and bound.
Rolls scattered through fields
at random or neatly aligned:
summer bundled in bronze.

Winter-disguised as vague lumps
under clean, snowy blankets,
wind-dusted at times.
Frozen, frosted, they still appeal;
hungry deer tug at sweet strands,
certain it’s all for them; – and find
last summer’s mice nestled deep.

–My poem from 2013

Explosive

The Ragtag Daily Prompt for today is EXPLOSIVE

Sadly, the first phrase that came to me was EXPLOSIVE temper. My Dad F had an explosive temper, which led to scenes I don’t want to revisit. Apparently my Uncle Danny had an explosive temper, too. I thank God often that automobiles have replaced horses. While there were many kind owners, too many of those poor animals had to suffer the wrath of a cruel master with a whip and a violent temper.

As I typed in the word, my thought switched to EXPLOSIVES, their usefulness in building our country. Megatons of mountain rock blown away to make a path for the railroad track and then the highways.

Now I recall the explosions we all love to see, and watching the International Fireworks Competition in Montreal. There! It turns out there is something good to be said for EXPLOSIVE.

Fireworks.DacNinhBui

Image from DacNinhBui — Pixabay