Days of swine and roses

Pitt swine and rosesOnce upon a time in the far away country of Australia there lived a fine young feral pig named Swino. Swino, as a piglet, was filled with curiosity and promise. The oldest of his litter of six, Swino was a natural leader.

His mother Matilda, the Waltz Queen, knew he was special. All the neighborhood pigs believed Swino would be a pig of prominence and distinction when he was grown. Do you know what a pack of feral pigs is called? It’s a called a sounder. Now you know. You can stop reading this column as no other useful information will be imparted hereafter. I will give you a moment to turn the page to the cross-word puzzle.

Now, for the two of you still reading, listen my children and you shall hear of the midnight raid of Swino and shed a tear. Swino’s twisted tale is not an uplifting Horatio Alger story of a poor but plucky lad overcoming an impoverished childhood. Nay, a thousand times, nay. This is a sad story of an exemplary feral piglet who had the advantages of a good family, a supportive sounder, and an excellent education who came to rack and ruin due to Demon Alcohol.

Swino went to the finest private schools that Australia could offer. After high school, he graduated magna cum laude from the University of Melbourne with a double major in nuclear physics and medieval poetry. He was president of the student body while working 30 hours a week as a tutor at the Home for Wayward Wallabies. After graduation, he was selected as a Rhodes Scholar where he achieved his Ph.D. in theoretical mathematics. Upon attaining his doctorate, he moved to Perth, Australia, to work at the Institute of Advanced Metaphysics. Swino literally had the world on a string.

At Perth he met the love of his life, Petunia Pig, a wealthy debutante whose family had the largest Vegemite factory in Australia. For those of you fortunate to have never encountered Vegemite, it is a vile dark brown paste made mostly of leftover brewer’s yeast, snips, snails and puppy dog tails. For reasons unknown, Australians enjoy smearing Vegemite on toast and then consuming the hideous result. It was love at first sight for Swino when he first laid eyes on Petunia. There could be no other love for Swino but Petunia. Unfortunately for Swino, as a result of Petunia’s wealth and beauty, there were many other suitors for Petunia’s trotter.

A veritable pack of wealthy famous pigs sought to marry Petunia. Her suitors included the Practical Pig from the Three Little Pigs, Porky Pig of Looney Tunes, Man-Bear Pig from South Park, and Snow Ball from Animal Farm. Petunia even had a brief experimental fling with Miss Piggy. Ultimately to the eternal heartbreak of Swino, Petunia married Arnold Ziffel the Pig. She moved to America to live
on a farm near Hooterville with Arnold, Oliver and Lisa Douglas, Mr. Haney and Sam Drucker.

As Petunia sailed away to her new life in America, Swino turned to drink. His consumption of alcohol made Edgar Allen Poe, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway look like teetotalers. Here is where our story turns true as reported by Doug Williams in the Outdoor Revival newspaper of 24 April 2019. Doug wrote the greatest headline ever written. Mr. Williams wrote: “Pig Steals Campers’ Beer, Gets Drunk & Starts Fight with Cow.” The beauty of this headline makes me cry every time I read it.

A group of campers were in the Australian outback. After a night of carousing, they left their beer out. In the middle of the night they were awakened to the sound of a feral pig rooting around, chomping the beer cans, and drinking the beer. The report says the pig (who we later learned was Swino) drank 18 cans of beer.

Soused on these adult beverages, Swino got into a ruckus with his erstwhile friend, Elsie the cow. Whatever Swino said to her led to Elsie chasing him around the camp. Some pigs, like some people just can’t hold their liquor. After the fight with the cow, Swino swam across a nearby river and passed out under a tree to sleep it off.

Here comes the weepy part of the story. Swino woke up with a terrible hangover. He wobbled across the highway looking for either an Alka Seltzer or hair of the dog that bit him to ease his aching head.

Unfortunately, he was still drunk. He did not notice the truck coming down the road. Splat! Swino was no more.

It is unclear if Petunia attended his funeral. The campers reported despite their sadness at Swino’s unexpected demise, that the barbecue served at his wake was excellent.

Yom Kippur reminds us of importance of spiritual ties

Yom Kippur MetroRecently, Jews around the world observed the most sacred day on our calendar — Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). In truth, one should atone for wrongdoing whenever committing a transgression. The ancient sages advise repenting the day of death; the message being that since we don’t usually know exactly when we will die, we ought to repent every day.

Nevertheless, Yom Kippur is a day set aside to focus exclusively on admitting one’s failings, repenting and resolving how to do better.
Often misunderstood is that Yom Kippur only atones for transgressions against God. Trespasses against fellow human beings require direct apology and forgiveness. Harm to another also violates against God’s law, but the Almighty can only forgive the aspect of violating God’s teaching. The actual hurt can only be forgiven by the one harmed.

Yom Kippur is traditionally observed through countless hours of synagogue worship aimed at spiritual cleansing. Nearly all the prayers and confessions are phrased in the plural. In a community everyone shares a degree of responsibility for the failings of others by insufficiently supporting each other in avoiding shortcomings. We are indeed our brother’s keeper.

Yom Kippur is characterized famously by refraining from any food or drink from sunset until nightfall the next day (as all Jewish days begin at night). Because of worship requirements, the actual fast lasts closer to 25 or 26 hours. Yet, whenever health is a concern, food or drink is not only permitted, but required.

Other traditional prohibitions for the day include refraining from bathing, anointing (i.e. ancient cosmetics), sexual relations, and wearing leather shoes (which were considered luxurious, particularly in earlier times). The idea is that by removing our usual physical concerns, we can focus completely on our spiritual needs.

I like to tell my congregants the following story.

An arrogant hiker visiting Israel ignored directions given to him. Following several predictably wrong turns he found himself lost in the Negev desert. After hours of wandering, desperate for water, he saw something in the distance. He walked toward the object only to find a little old man at a small stand in the middle of nowhere selling neckties emblazoned with the words “Repent! God forgives.”

The lost hiker asked, “Do you have any water?” He replied, “I don’t have any water, but would you like to buy a necktie? They’re only 5 Israeli sheqels.”

The hiker screamed, “I don’t need your stupid ties! I just need water!”

“Okay” said the old man. “I recommend getting a tie, but you can find water over that hill about 5 kilometers. There’s a really nice restaurant there. But, don’t take too long, you don’t want them to close on you.”

A couple hours later the hiker staggered back. The old man asked, “Is everything okay?” “What do you think?” gasped the hiker. “Your brother won’t let me in without a tie.”

Too often we are so focused on our material needs and desires that we don’t think we need anything else. But, before it’s too late, let’s remember to bring along a spiritual tie.

Vote Yes to save PWC

pexels polina kovaleva 6185245 USE YOURE VOICEWant to keep PWC from being sold? Vote Yes in November.

When somebody tells me I can’t vote, it makes me want to vote even more. It makes me want to vote six times instead of just twice for Fayetteville Council offices. The City Council’s actions tell the citizens of Fayetteville that we should not be allowed to vote on the proposal to change the way the Council is elected.

The road blocks thrown up against voting by the Council are not surprising. People in power seldom want to give up power. The Council is no exception. They like being in power. If more people are allowed to vote, we might vote wrong, thus endangering their power.

The Council has done its best to prevent citizens from voting on this proposal. It twice postponed its vote to put the referendum on the November ballot. It waited until the last day to actually vote against it due to concerns that a non-existent form had not been completed by the proponents of the referendum.

By delaying the vote until the last day, the Council apparently hoped that ballots could not be printed in time for the November election.
Like Dean Wormer in “Animal House,” the Council used the non-existent form excuse to put Fayetteville voters on Double Secret Probation to prevent them from voting.

The Vote Yes folks immediately filed a law suit to put the referendum on the November ballot. Superior Court Judge Jim Ammons ordered Vote Yes to appear on the ballot. The Council then filed an appeal to the North Carolina Court of Appeals seeking to stop the vote. The Court of Appeals denied the Council’s appeal and ordered the Vote to go on in November.

If something walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and swims like a duck, it is probably a duck. The City Council is a duck. It wants to duck and cover up your right to vote.

The Council’s scrambling to prevent the Vote Yes initiative shows they don’t want the voters to decide how they want to be governed. Any political group, Democrats or Republicans, which wants to prevent people from voting is no fan of Democracy. Currently you can vote for two people on the City Council, the Mayor and your District Representative. Five thousand Fayetteville citizens signed a petition to put to a vote the proposal to change the election to allow a citizen to vote for six members of the Council, the Mayor, 4 at-large Council members and a District Representative. Six votes are more than two votes. The average voter gets much more input into how the city is governed if Vote Yes passes.

Your vote yes is crucial. Local ownership of PWC is on the line. The current Council is quite likely to vote to sell PWC down the river, killing the goose that laid the golden eggs. Like a zombie from “The Walking Dead,” the double secret deal to sell PWC will rise from the grave. The Council will get a big wad of money from the sale to use for pet projects. The windfall will be spent. The current Council will ultimately leave office. Local control of PWC will end.

PWC rates and preventive maintenance of utilities will take a back seat to the interests of out of state shareholders interested in squeezing every dollar from Fayetteville residents. Citizens will be left holding a very expensive empty bag.

If you want to keep local control of your City Council and prevent the sale of PWC, Vote Yes on the referendum.
To quote Woody Guthrie: “Nobody living can ever stop me/ As I go walking the freedom highway/ Nobody living can ever make me turn back/ This Land was made for you and me.”

Get out and vote yes, this local government and PWC were made for you and me.

Fall brings pumpkin season with pies, lattes and decor

pumpkin MetroI love fall. The first things I begin to think about are pumpkins, brilliant colored foliage, cool mornings, the first fire, sweaters and boots.
There is no in-between, you either like the flavor of pumpkin or you don’t. There are many ways to enjoy pumpkins in the form of drinks, cuisine and decoration. I like everything about pumpkins and decided to write about them.

When you initially think of pumpkins in the fall we may think about pumpkin lattes, pumpkin pie, or pumpkin doughnuts which are just some of the ways to enjoy them outside of the many uses for décor!

Pumpkins have been around for more than 5,000 years and the word pumpkin was debuted in the fairy tale “Cinderella.” The pumpkins known as rouge Vif d’Etampes are thought to be the inspiration for Cinderella.

The carriage for Cinderella may have been used because of the resiliency of a pumpkin. They are a fruit that can grow in sparse soil and the vines engage by sharing nutrients along a connected vine that reaches into the soil to replenish itself. For this reason, pumpkins are a symbol of prosperity, abundance and growth. Maybe this is the reason that the perfect mode of transportation for Cinderella was a pumpkin.

Cinderella’s fairy godmother told her to go into the garden and pick out a fine pumpkin, so she went to the garden and picked the finest pumpkin she could find and could not imagine how a pumpkin would get her to the ball. Her fairy godmother hollowed out the pumpkin and touched it with her ring turning it into a beautiful coach.

Did you know that there are Cinderella pumpkins? They are medium to large averaging thirty to thirty-five pounds, round, and flattened blossom and stem end. They have thick skins and are a rich orange color.

When cooked they have a slightly sweet taste, creamy and moist. They were one of the most popular items in French markets and sold as an heirloom variety in the 1880s. They are a favorite with chefs for soups and pies. They are also used in many homes as décor.

Pumpkins have not always been jack-o’– lanterns. The original lanterns were made with turnips and potatoes by the Irish to ward off evil spirits. Irish immigrants brought the tradition to America but found that pumpkins were much easier to carve. They are grown on every continent except Antarctica and the U.S. produces more than 1. 5 billion pounds each year with 8% of the crop available in October. The largest pumpkin recorded weighed about 2,600 pounds and was grown in Germany. The largest pie baked weighed 3,699 pounds. A normal size pumpkin has about 500 seeds and the recommended planting time is between May and July with more than 45 different varieties.

Pumpkins are part of the fruit family; every part is edible and offers a wide range of health benefits. They are low in calories and are comprised of about 90% water. One of the health benefits is Beta Carotene, a powerful antioxidant that our bodies convert to Vitamin A. They are good for fiber, boost your immune system, and good for heart health and skin. Aside from the health benefits, pumpkins can make a great mask that exfoliates and soothes the skin. Make a pumpkin mask by combining ¼ cup pureed pumpkin, one egg, a tablespoon of honey, and a tablespoon of milk. Apply and rinse in 20 minutes with warm water.

Live, love life and pumpkins.

Vote Yes Fayetteville initiative calls for more representation

vote yes3 copy I support Vote Yes Fayetteville because this structure change would give every citizen more voice in our city council with six council members accountable to them versus just the current two.

I served on City Council under both structures as an at-large and district representative, like most of the major cities in North Carolina. During my service when the council had at-large seats as part of the structure, I saw that the major issues of the city were given adequate attention.

While serving as a district representative, I witnessed continued infighting over what benefited the elected person’s district and less attention to the big picture.

For example, it took over eight years to get the Parks & Recreation bond to a vote while we argued over which district received what new facilities.

Even today, commitments made to District 2, like the Fields Road Park and the Cape Fear River Park, remain undone because money gets moved to other districts.

We were never able to fully fund stormwater to protect our most exposed citizens from the next flood because flooding only threatens a few districts but is costly to everyone.

Our major gateway to Fort Bragg continues to include the Shaw Heights blight because of City Council’s unwillingness to spend the funds to address this citywide issue.

Our community has changed over the years. There are 38% more Black voters than white in Fayetteville today. Both Blacks and whites have a similar voter turnout, and Black candidates continue to be elected in many at-large seats, including the fact that two of our last four mayors were Black.

I served alongside Marshall Pitts, who was first elected at-large and then became mayor.

We have tried the current model for over 20 years and can clearly see that Fayetteville is not keeping up with the rest of the state.

Our growth rate is lower than NC’s other major cities while our crime and poverty rates are higher.

We should recognize that the progressive cities in our state use a model that provides more representation for every citizen and more balanced attention to city-wide issues.

Most recently, we have seen our mayor and some council members spend thousands of taxpayer dollars to keep this referendum off the ballot. They were unsuccessful as the courts ordered the referendum be placed on the ballot and citizens be given the right to vote.

I encourage each of you to support this Charter Amendment and to Vote Yes Fayetteville on Nov. 8 to provide for more representation on our City Council.

More representation. Not less.

Editor's note: Bobby Hurst served on Fayetteville City Council from 2007 - 2017.

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