Saturday, June 26, 2010

Dorchester's Ag History

Dorchester County has a rich agricultural heritage and has employed the largest part of its population in the growth and harvest of various crops.

During the colony's earliest days, Dorchester County plantation owners, who had their land in the form of grants from England's crowned heads, grew tobacco. "Tobacco on the banks" paid their taxes to the crown, but the plant wore out the soil, and soon farmers further inland and down the Atlantic coast grew the lion's share of tobacco and Dorchester County farmers turned to other crops.

The Revolutionary and Civil wars saw Dorchester farmers not only fighting in those conflicts, but also growing produce to feed our troops. After the Civil War, Dorchester's rich farmlands produced fresh vegetables that were either transported to the large cities across the Chesapeake Bay, or canned for future use.

The canneries were important agricultural and financial entities for many years, ending with the closing of nearly all of the plants by the 1960's when the end of World War II and segregation spelled the death knell of migrant worker camps and government contracts.

Today, Dorchester's farmers grow some produce for local farmer stands or markets, or sell to larger packers like Frito Lay, but the fields that were once full of melons, cucumbers, and tomatoes are now seas of grain destined to be food for the huge chicken farms that dot the area.

Last year, residents living near the Allen plant in Hurlock saw local farmers produce a veritable mountain of corn so tall that when it was covered with plastic local kids used it for sledding during one of Dorchester County's rare snowfalls.

The mountain of grain is now gone, used to feed the thousands of chickens raised for distribution all along the Eastern Seaboard.

Dorchester County may well be the garden of Eden, for it has fed millions over the years and its fields continue to be rich and fertile, bringing wealth and work to the residents in the land of pleasant living.

Just a bit of a history lesson today, so thank a farmer and keep on the sunny side. Terry

(The photo is a picture of children on a tomato farm about 1941. The photographer was John Collier and the photo is in the collection of the United States Department of Agriculture.)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Oil Spill Lament

Everyone is all in an uproar over the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, and it is easy to see why. What isn't so easy is what we are going to about it - because in the end, it is likely too late to prevent much of anything connected to this huge fiasco.

There is a big discussion about blame - and power. Power is the crux of the matter. The power to repair the rift, the power that allowed drilling for oil in the middle of the world's largest ecosystem.

We like to think of the oceans as being able to process everything we pitch into them, but we are quickly learning that isn't true at all. We have this big mess to clean up, and while BP has a primary responsibility, surely the United States and the other political entities in the Gulf are also going to have to put forth a great effort to clean up whatever amounts of goo and tar that wash up on their beaches and shores.

Power is at the bottom of the problem, but not one of us have the power to turn back time and impose the proper regulations and policing of those regulations to prevent the mess in which we are now bathed.

I wish we could wave a magic wand and see the ocean as pure and clean once more, but in our greed and reach for power we have created a sickness that will eventually circle the globe.

I submitted the following poem to the New Yorker this morning, and I guess it will be their property if they choose it. In the meantime, I would like to share my thoughts on this disaster. I hope you like it and that you keep on the sunny side as much as you can. Terry

Power Play

The electric power went off this
Morning and everything stopped.
The google-eyed plastic frog
That doesn’t quite keep time; it
Stared back at me, the subtle grind of
Its gears and crimson sweep hand stilled
While the world we know
Decided whether or not to awaken at all.

I planned to do a wash and
Rendered paid some bills, and then
I had a thought to read a
Page or two about Australia’s early days.
It seems to me that far country had
Its own wild, wild, wild west that
Kept the farm wives looking over
Their shoulders in case of rape or worse.

I shivered in this big, damp old
House that holds my heart strings
Hostage with its trailing ants
And termite-nibbled kitchen walls.
I wondered then, why what comes free
To all should cost so very much –
When the wind blows every morning
Just as it has from the start of time.

I guess the end is near – the prophets
Are polishing their holy rants
And earthquakes mutter
Beneath cities crafted from redwood slabs
Torn from the forest’s living heart
That thirst for clear, cool water
Untainted by the carbon prints
Of a million dolls in fashionable garb.

What is this thing that powers clocks
And wells and pornography films?
Willie and the boys can sing on
And on and on about the delta oilslick
From a crack in the earth that
Leaked the gas that blew the well that
Belled the cat that ran the train that
Moved the wheat that lay in the house
That Jack built.

It is a shame we did not learn
More from the last time. The dinosaurs
And mastodons lie in their frozen beds
With buttercups in their huge bellies,
Their world quite dark for the lack
Of a horse – or a windmill to grind –
While Don Quixote tilts at the wind
Where the children’s tumors grow.

Why all the fuss for power? We are
All correct, and what may be perceived
As differences are blessings and
Doors to vistas painted in purple and gold –
So then, what is power but the
Potential to destroy everything in sight?

I think the disaster we saw last night
At seven must be the dinosaur’s revenge.

PS: The photo was by my beloved friend, Claudia Conlon

Friday, June 18, 2010

"Chair - ity!"

The Main Street Gallery is happy to announce a very special gallery show starting July 1. The show is entitled "chair-ity" and is one of the major fund-raisers for the gallery, which will soon lose funding for its community art programs.

Gallery visitors will find chairs and chair art of every description, all for sale. Some of the creations by local artists will be donated to raise money for the youth program at the Dorchester County Center for the Arts and New Beginnings.

There will be a special gala at the Main Street Gallery at 413 Muir Street in Cambridge on July 9 from 6-9 p.m. with a $25 charge at the door. The event will feature a silent auction of chair-related and other items, live entertainment and lavish refreshments. This Friday night gallery show is a one-time event since most gallery openings coincide with Second Saturday in Cambridge, however the gallery decided on a Friday night gala so that it will not conflict with the Taste Of Cambridge event on Second Saturday this year.

I will be making a number of chair-related items, and many of the Wednesday Morning Artists will also be donating their time and art for the silent auction and gallery hanging.

There will be a number of chairs that have been salvaged in the show - as well as paintings and photographs with chair themes.

I sure hope to see lots of people come out for this fantastic show. It is gonna rock!

Have a great day and stay on the sunny side! Terry

Saturday, June 5, 2010

My Books Are E-Books Too

About ten years ago, my friend Arline Chase told me about a new way to publish one's books. Back then, e-books were a brand new way to do business, and no matter how the traditional publishers tried to pooh-pooh the innovation, some intrepid individuals stuck out their necks and set to build a brand new business based on the talents of writers who had been trying to get published for years.

I fit the description. I had a three-inch stack of rejection letters - and that represented a lot of skipped lunches and movies for all that postage. (You had to include funds to send the manuscript back in those days!)

Well, I met Connie Foster, thanks to Arline Chase, and she published several of my novels as e-books. She said she loved my stories and worked hard to tap the market where the Franklin e-book reader was causing quite a stir. It made such a commotion, in fact, that Stephen King published one of his unfinished novels in installments as e-books and made a couple of million, ... but I'm not sure he ever finished the book --

For much of the next ten years I did my best to edit the considerable library of books I had written and eventually Connie (and then Arline - she bought the company when Connie fell ill) worked hard to get them in a format that could be sold as an e-book. A number of my novels are still not in print, but they are for sale at Kindle and various other e-book sites.

This Christmas a couple of new readers hit the market, driving the market price for the devices downward and marking an increase in e-book sales. At this point, all of my 15 (or is it 16 books?) are available as e-books.

I believe I have been a pioneer all this time, and I didn't even know it. But do look for my e-books on Kindle - there are a bunch of them there. A couple of great things to consider: E-books are easy on the environment. You don't need trees or petroleum to produce them. They cost less: About $10 less than my latest novels, which sell at $16.95 as compared to $6.95 for an e-book. And lastly, they can be loaded into a reader which can hold as many as a thousand books! How cool is that?

So. My books are at Kindle, All Romance E-Books, Barnes and Noble and a number of other websites where e-books are sold. Enjoy an e-book this summer, and keep on the sunny side! Terry

Thursday, June 3, 2010


Did you ever lie on your back in the middle of a summer afternoon? Remember the clouds and how they seemed to take on a life of their own? Don't you wish every day could be like that? That's one of the nifty things about technology. We can go find a picture to remind us just exactly the way we remembered those fluffy clouds of summer.

I was thinking the other day about the sunny days of childhood and how my elders would tell me to work hard and not give up - because all of your efforts count. I'll never forget the day I took my friend Ken Bonner a dish of home made bread pudding because they didn't serve it at the diner where I worked. Mr. Bonner, Ken, was an itinerant musician who did carpenter work to get by and leave time for playing his fiddle.

He arrived at the restaurant I worked at one evening, paused in the doorway, and asked me loudly if I played the fiddle. Then he asked for bread pudding. We didn't have it.

I had to admit that, when I delivered the pudding to Mr. Bonner's place of business, that I played a bit of guitar and he handed me an instrument from the chaos of the garage sale he was running to dispose of his mother' s goods. He asked me to sing and I did. I think the song was Redwing.

"You ought to do something about that," Ken said and grinned. "You just keep practicing - every five minutes counts."

Talk about encouraging words. From that time on, I worked on my fondest dreams - singing my songs and writing. Over the years I worked with bands and cut a couple of CDs - the gospel one ain't half bad. I also worked really hard with my storytelling.

You know how people say so and so has a calling? Well, music might have been my passion for a while, but writing was my true love, and I have worked at it no matter how hard the rest of my life got. There are a lot of books out there with my name on the covers. I'm hoping one day I will learn enough about the business of it that I can break out of the pack of writers trying to get known and have people say I am a success.

This is my point: Work on your dreams. They are worth the effort. If Ken Bonner was around he would tell you the same thing... oh, and keep on the sunny side. Terry