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“’T’ for Texas.  ‘T’ for Tennessee. (Repeat) ‘I’ for Iowa also for Illinois, the first is for brothers and the second for Champion boys.”   Other states, nations, and continents may have been represented in the myriad mix of visitors to Champion this week, but Texans, Tennesseans, Iowans and Illusions (Illinoisans) showed up in bunches and lingered. Champion is what is known as a ‘vacation destination.’  Welcome and come again!

Jaci Borders had a fifth birthday on July 27.  Kindergarten is her destination and her teacher, Crystal Sartor, celebrates on the 29th. Skyline graduate/valedictorian, Skyla Boyd, has her birthday on August second.  She will be a high school freshman this year.  Seamus Heffern lives in Springfield, but has Champion grandparents and also a birthday on the second.  He is going to be a musician, or a doctor, or a teacher, a chef, an artist, all of the above and/or whatever else he has in mind.  Youth is almost the definition of optimism.   Birthdays change in significance over the years.  They are far apart to start with and then get closer and close together.  Every day is significant for someone.  The first of August brings Elitta January into the thoughts of her many friends who miss her.   She passed away in 2011, but she stays vibrant in the hearts of those privileged to have been acquainted with her.

Just at supper time in some Champion homes the phone rings.  An automated voice instructs, “Press ‘one’ if you are very likely to vote.”  Then the recording proceeds to ask how you feel about the proposed amendments 1, 4, and 7.  The effort on the part of advocates, pro and con, of each issue in both the mainstream and social media to inform, explain and persuade is enormous.  It would seem that there is something very important at stake.  When so much money is being spent, it stands to reason that someone expects to recoup their investment and make a profit.  The big question is, “Who?”  Political word trickery is an art.  A certain Mr. Lee said, “A wise man can learn more from a foolish  question than a fool can learn from a wise answer.”   If the wording of the issue on the ballot accurately reflects the question at hand, chances are fair that a person will be able to be confident that his vote is going where he wants it to go.  “Are you still beating your wife?”  This is a rhetorical trick of asking a question that cannot be answered without admitting a presupposition that may be false (or maybe not, in the case of some wife beaters).  Some voters figure from the get-go that the wording on the ballot is meant to mislead, so they just vote opposite to their immediate inclinations.  People do not readily change their minds about things even when they figure they have been given the same tactical military advice that Custer may have taken from his Sioux scouts.  Read it for yourself.   Democracy!  Champion!

The Skyline Country Market will be held on the grounds of the Skyline School on Friday the first of August.  The event is being sponsored by the Skyline Community Teachers Association. It is expected that the community will be out in full force to support the happening and perhaps to encourage regular repeats of a market day.  Things are looking good in that neighborhood. Visitors to the Country Market will have a chance to go inspect the school’s new green house and the outdoor classroom.  They can gaze over to the picnic grounds and see that preparations are well underway for the Skyline Picnic next week end.  Summertime is a busy time.

A famous martial arts champion, dancer, actor, author and student of self-knowledge said, “Pretense is often an indispensable step in the attainment of genuineness.  It is a form into which genuine inclinations flow and solidify.”  This is really a message to a prominent Champion who is annually reminded that if a person acts like he is having a good time; pretty soon he will forget that he is acting and he will really be having a good time.  He may well be The Great Pretender, outdoing the Cowboy, the fleeing erstwhile barber, Almartha’s motorcycle maverick Scrabble king, and the trolling purveyor of environmental ineptitude all at once).    He is admonished in true hillbilly fashion, “If’in ye’v got to swoller a frog, don’t look at it.”  He will just be knuckling down and buckling down and getting things done and having fun.  The man wears many hats.  A person would think that one of them might not be red.

When all those potatoes are finally dug, some Champions are figuring to plant some turnips.  Lem and Ned might be in the neighborhood this fall and be looking to help get the wood in or clean the chicken house.  Linda’s Almanac says that August 12th and 13th will be the first good days in August for root crops.  The first through the fourth will be good for above the ground crops. Cucumbers might still make and fall greens could go in.  Fresh food from the garden is not available to everyone in the world.  Champion gardeners do not take it for granted and find joy in sharing the bounty.

Once again, Laine Sutherland has shown a light on an artist whose music is inspired.  She shared a piece from the Southern Folklife Collection about Hazel Dickens:  It’s Hard to Tell the Singer from the Song.   “From the coalfields of West Virginia to the factories of Baltimore, Hazel Dickens has lived the songs she sings.   A pioneering woman in Bluegrass and hardcore country music, she has influenced generations of songwriters and musicians.”   She passed away in 2011.  One of her great songs sounds like it was written out on the spacious veranda overlooking the broad, wooly banks of Old Fox Creek.  “Hills of home—old familiar dirt roads wind through the piney glade where all the longing of childhood dreams were made, where we passed the mossy mounds where I could run and play, never a care to cross my mind all the livelong day.” Champion!  Looking on the Bright Side!

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