Oh my, folks have such little sense these days. They also seem to be looking for something over which they can throw a conniption fit. Many of these individuals remind me of whiny little children who throw fits when they suffer for the acts that they’ve committed.
Take, for instance, the recent rash of misbehaviors by plane passengers. Sure, folks have plenty over which to complain: soaring ticket prices, surcharges for luggage, charge-for-everything plans, and overbooking. Still, no one can condone the fights that break out during flights. One man took to fisticuffs when the passenger in front of him crunched his knees with a reclining seat. A simple
“Please move your seat up might have worked much better than a brawl. In the end, the goofball wound up being jerked from the flight and now faces possible legal problems.
Even more recent is the brouhaha that occurred on another flight. Some woman decided to snooze during her flight. She laid her head on the serving tray on the back of the seat in front of her. The woman’s rest was abruptly interrupted when the person in front of her decided to recline the seat, an act that bonked the female I the noggin. She comes up fighting and throwing a fit. Her demands were soon honored as the plane landed. However, I don’t much think she expected to find authorities waiting for her at the airport.
The world is going to hell in a hand basket in many places, but one of the major stories the last couple of days is the stealing and publication of celebrity photos. In case you’ve been comatose or shipwrecked on some remote island, the story is about how nude or compromising photos have been illegally taken from iPhones, as well as other electronic devices. Then these photos have been posted on web sites for others to view. The subjects of these photos are raising a stink about having their likenesses stolen and then distributed for anyone and everyone to see.
I don’t know about you, but the last thing I do is place my trust in an electronic device. Too many individuals smarter than I am can always figure out a way to steal information. In this case, the “iCloud” seems to have been hacked and nude photos (selfies?) were taken. HMMMMMMM! The victims are shocked that such a thing could happen. I look at the situation in a different way.
Years ago, Lewis Grizzard did a comedy routine about Vanessa Williams and her loss of the Miss America title. Williams said of the nude photos that appeared in Penthouse that she was young when she’d posed for the magazine. Grizzard didn’t miss a beat and quipped,

“I don’t know about you, but where I’m from, nineteen is old enough to know not to take your clothes off.”
Okay, let’s follow this same logic. These celebrities, as well as all other folks, probably would never stand nude in front of a crowd. Oh, yes, some celebs would if it were in the context of a movie. At any rate, these people strut around their homes and other places and snap selfie after selfie of themselves in compromising poses. Then they share them with some friend or loved one. Go figure. I contend that that, like Vanessa Williams, these individuals are old enough to know not to take off their clothes.
The problem is not with the “cloud” or any technological thing. The dilemma lies squarely with people who don’t have any filters. They simply do what they want and post anything they choose. Then, when something goes wrong, these half-wits cry foul and immediately blame someone or something else for their simply stupid choices.

The key to solving the hacking of nude photos is to quit taking them and then sending them into cyberspace where hackers wait to grab them. Just a little modesty, common sense, and forethought can quickly stop this so-called injustice. If people choose to continue taking such photos, then I ask them to please hush the whining and outrage. The world has more pressing issues than your right to take nude photos that are stolen and shown around the world. 


Amy and I moved into our house in December 1978. This year, for the first time, I put out tomato plants. The funny thing is I’m not that much in love with them, but in the summer the produce does taste good. I’ve babied the plants and staked them and then tied them up. To date, about 6-7 green orbs are hanging on the vine, and I’m in hopes they turn red and are ready to eat before rabbits or insects devour them.
All this leads to my missing the foods that Mother used to “fix” when I was a boy. She had a green thumb with all sorts of plants, and maybe she was more successful with them because she stuck them in the dirt, tamped them in with her tennis shoe, and left the alone. Whatever the reason, she used the bounty from Mother Nature to make some of the best tasting things I’ve ever had.
Every summer, she loaded us boys up, and we traveled to one of several blackberry fields. For some
time we picked berries and suffered sticks and scratches from briars. The juice stained our fingers, and unfortunately, chiggers burrowed under our skin. At home, Mother washed the berries and then took most of them and began the process of boiling the juice out to make jelly. She kept a few back to make cobbler. It arrived to the table hot from the oven and disappeared quickly.
In the back yard we had several grape vines. Mother would send us out early in the morning to pick grapes. We dodged wasps that dive-bombed us and grudgingly carried out the chore. Of course, after delivering the grapes, we were more than willing to eat the grape jelly that she made.
We also had a cherry tree, peach tree, pear tree, and apple trees. Mother took the fruits from all those trees and made pies and jelly. She made the dough and layered fruit with butter, brown sugar, and spices before topping the pies with more dough. Then she placed 4-6 pies into an oversized oven, and the aroma filled the house.
Mother’s garden was filled with vegetables for canning or freezing. She picked beans until her back and hands ached. We’d sit outside or in front of the television and break beans by the bushels. Then she would wash them and sterilized dozens of Mason jars before stuffing them with “half-runners” or “bush beans.” If the garden didn’t produce enough, she’d make a trip to the market on Dale Avenue
for a couple of bushels. Ears of corn were picked and shucked. Kernels were cut from the cobs and packaged into bags before being placed into a freezer that looked too much like a giant coffin.
Other things were prepared as well. Green peppers were cut and frozen; hot peppers were sewn on strings and hung for future use. Potatoes were grubbed, scrubbed, and stored on the ledges in the basement. Squash was also gathered and frozen.
Cucumbers were plentiful. Mother cut many for supper, but I never ate them. My father-in-law said that they were the only thing that a hog wouldn’t eat, and I agreed with the assessment. However, many of them were gathered and put into jars. Then what I call “pickle water” was boiled and poured over them, and the jars were sealed. Dozens lined a shelf in the basement until they were properly aged. I had no problems eating those.
Heads of cabbage were chopped, and Mother prepared the stuff in some way before filling a five-gallon crock. The entire thing was set outside under our bedroom window and allowed to “perk.” Jim and I sneaked to the crock and lifted the lid, an unfortunate action that allowed the foul odor escape from what would at some point be kraut.
All of the food that Mother prepared was eaten during the winter months. By the time the next spring arrived, the freezer was nearly bare, and empty jars cluttered the basement. One of the certain things in life was replenishing of those foods would occur each year.

Mother passed in 1996, and for nearly 20 years, I’ve longed for a jar of blackberry jelly and a Dutch apple pie, and a cherry cobbler. When the time comes when I leave this world, I hope to meet up with her and ask her to fix some of those wonderful foods once again. 


Our lives are sometimes difficult. All of us experience problems, but a few have much harder times than others. That’s when angels appear. Yes, I firmly believe that God brings folks into our lives who serve as angels and who make our lives better. One of them is a well-known figure in Knoxville, and although she’s put off her original plans until the end of the year, Ginny Weatherstone is retiring as CEO of Volunteer Ministry Center.
I met Ginny years ago. Her daughter Anna was a student in my English class.
When she fell ill with “mono,” I taught her through the homebound program. Now, I already loved Anna and enjoyed teasing her and exchanging verbal jabs. In no time, I came to feel the same way about her mom.
My first encounter with Ginny came when she returned home from work. It was late, as usual, and her husband was in the kitchen; I suppose he was starting the family’s dinner. Ginny breezed in and immediately pitched in to help. The couple talked about her work, and from the sounds of the conversation, it was apparent she was involved in a thousand things that were going on all at once. 
When I finished my work with Anna, Ginny presented me a poster with a quote from James Agee’s A Death in the Family that described Knoxville. In some way, that poster and its words prodded me and encouraged me to start writing, and the poster still hangs above my work desk.
A few years later, she spoke to the congregation at First Christian Church, where my family attended. She brought a different message to us about our interactions with the homeless. Ginny encouraged us not to give money to them. Instead, she asked us to send individuals to VMC, where they could receive sustained help in many areas. The best way we could help the needy was to support VMC and the programs it provided.
Ginny Weatherstone has a bulldoggish tenacity. She does not take “no” for an answer. Nothing is impossible to her, and her positive outlook is infectious. The new VMC building offers food, counseling, and housing information to its clients. Ginny has encouraged community involvement, and churches and other groups serve meals and spend time with residents at the complex. Those who have done so have developed relationships with the men that will continue for years.
She preached the gospel of sustained affordable housing for years, and she made it a reality with the completion of Minvilla Manor. In place of the eyesore Fifth Avenue Hotel that sat vacant for years are apartments for 57 individuals. Other places in the city also offer homes for those in need.
Ginny made sure that clients had meals, but she and the VMC staff also managed to provide dental care through the volunteer efforts of local dentists.  Her commitment has been aimed toward making sure those in her care are afforded the same services that more fortunate receive. She serves as their angel, and in so many ways, she also watches over them as a mother; she protects, defends, goads, and scolds. In the end, Ginny is respected and loved by these people who have received a hand up, not a handout.
 The success of VMC is the result of efforts from many people. One is Bruce Spangler, Chief Operating Officer and resident wit. Mary Beth Ramey and the dedicated board of directors also work endlessly to make VMC a success. However, it is Ginny Weatherstone who sits in the driver’s seat and steers the course for the program.
The VMC is established and will continue to serve those in need of housing and guidance. With a little luck and donations from local, state, and federal governments, homelessness can become a thing of the past. Still, I’m going to miss Ginny Weatherstone, seeing her at events and hearing her speak to groups and committees to promote the organization that she has loved like a child. The fact is, however, no one will miss her more than the folks that she works beside and the people she has helped find a second chance.
Ask hundreds of people in the area about the influence that Ginny Weatherstone has had on their lives. It’s a good bet that most of them will at some point refer to her as an “angel.”

Here’s hoping that you enjoy your retirement, Ginny. The clients at VMC and the many friends you’ve made will forever remember your contributions to others. “Well done good and faithful servant.”