Roy Exum: My Garden This June

Monday, June 1, 2020 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

On this, the first day of a new month, I pause during my monthly trip to the garden as I mourn for my country. The protests that morphed into ugly, race-fueled riots are worse than the COVID virus that continues to plague our nation. By this I mean we were helpless to the virus – there was no way to stop it and therefore we must endure. Criminal rioting is altogether different. There is no excuse. The wonton looting, the screaming three inches from a police officer’s face, and criminals delighting in such an opportunity where you could rightfully wear a mask during your spree is – I believe – one of the lowest definitions of what our nation has become that I can remember.

Can you imagine Target closing 175 stores due solely to crime? They will not open until they are certain that it is safe to do so, because the police in our poorly run big cities are incapable of stopping it.

What does that tell you? Saturday night 40 police vehicles were destroyed in New York City. This is sheer madness and when the black mayor of our nation’s third-largest city – Chicago -- calls a news conference to publicly send a two-word ‘code’ to our President of the United States to “F-You!” I don’t see how it can’t get any worse.

So, as we pray for cooler heads and common sense to enter a racial divide that stereotypes millions of wonderful black and white Americans in a way that sets our nation back 10 or 20 years in loving one another, allow me to pick up my chin and look for this month’s orchids and onions:

AN ORCHID for the life of Sharon Mills – the sister of Olan and the late C.G. – who used some of her family fortune to bless the arts community in Chattanooga in a very quiet but very convincing way before she died last month. Sharon was on Ruth Holmberg’s level in using the arts to make our community better and, like Mrs. Holmberg, was a true Southern benefactor to thousands.

AN ONION for the news the auto emission centers have reopened and an even larger onion to every politician who knows they are a scam and who … well, “had rather not get involved.” These have no value whatsoever, are a blight on the four biggest counties in the state while 91 counties are free, and “wrong” by every measure. If worthy, Governor Bill Lee would surely have them in his hometown, no?

AN ORCHID for the new Citation X private jet, which can break the sound barrier with ease, and just flew one of my friends from San Francisco to our Lovell Field in – get this – three hours.

AN ONION for the fact that, in Illinois and elsewhere, health experts have found the great majority of coronavirus deaths occur in victims who have serious pre-existing conditions. (When a patient has two or more chronic diseases at the same time the diseases together are called comorbidities.) According to the Illinois Department of Health, where comorbidities combine as fatal in virus patients 90 percent of the time, it has been found these are the worst: hypertension (high blood pressure) 49.1 percent; Heart Disease 41.4 percent; Diabetes 41.2 percent; COPD (constriction of the airways and difficulty or discomfort in breathing) 17.0 percent; Kidney Disease 15.9 percent; Dementia 13.0 percent; Obesity 9.1 percent; Atrial fibrillation 9.0 percent; Hyperlipidemia (abnormally high concentration of fats or lipids in the blood) 8.5 percent; Cancer 4.4 percent; all others 25.8 percent.

AN ORCHID for the low-tech way to help COVID patients; just flip them over on the tummies. Called ‘proning,’ the simple technique has been used for years because it allows the back of the lungs to open more easily, this based on the principals of physiology and gravity. Pretty slick, huh?

AN ONION for the coin-toss decision churches over the U.S. are having to make; their congregations want to come back to their church “families” but the COVID is still a very real threat. Stacey Shiflett, a Baptist preacher in Maryland, just tore up the Baltimore Department of Health order and threw it down in anger. “Either we have the liberty to worship or we have permission to worship. It has become abundantly clear to me that if we settle for permission, we will never have liberty again.” Preacher Shiflett continued, “With this cease-and-desist letter in my hand, the Bible says to the New Testament church 'not forsaking the assembling of yourselves together as the manner of some is, but so much more as you see the day approaching,' and the closer we get to Jesus coming back, the more church we ought to be having, not less church." That’s when ‘Brother Stacey’ got that fire-and-brimstone edge in his voice and yelped from the pulpit, “Now that's God's parameters … so, I'm tearing up this cease-and-desist order right here, and I'm telling you right now, we're gonna’ do it God's way! God tells us how to worship Him, nobody else gets to do that." and he flung the rendered pages to the floor to “Amens,” “Tell it brother!” and “Hallelujah!”

AN ORCHID to Marty Woody, the oft-awarded service manager at Capital Toyota who called me out-of-the-blue to say he needed to come by the house and pick up my 4-Runner. “I need to change the oil, rotate the tires and some other stuff.” I told him I appreciated it, but it didn’t need it. I haven’t driven it over 200 miles since my leg was amputated in December. “Well, I appreciate your view but I’m in charge of the service on your car,” he laughed. “Leave the keys on the console.” Sure enough, one of his great guys came and got the car, went over it stem to stern, washed it, and it was back within a short time. As I tried to figure it out, I wondered why? First, that's the kind of man Marty is, always thinking of others. Two, that’s the value of dear friendship, when you least expect it, and three, so help me God, I heard my late beloved friend Bob McKamey, giggle. Wow!

AN ONION for the fact that Capital Toyota has one of the best “signature cars” I’ve seen in the past two years for sale. It’s a 1972 Toyota Land Cruiser for $21,950 and before you say that’s a 48-year-old car, you gotta’ understand that a “signature car” tells the world all about the driver. It’s about “panache” – defined by the dictionary as “dash or flamboyance in style and action.” So, why is it an onion? It’s standard shift … one-legged guys ain’t good with a clutch and a brake at the same time or I’ll swear I would have bought it this weekend. White with a black bench seat, it’s got a canvas roof and doors, a Warn winch and front lockable hubs. With just 32,880 miles, the engine will last forever with oil changes and a timing chain about every 100K. Trust me, this is arrogantly shabby! It’s like Giorgio Armani wisely noticed: “Elegance is not about being noticed; it is about being remembered.”

AN ORCHID for Nashville’s valiant push of “Good to Go” after Mayor John Cooper (D) stilted the city’s awakening by extending the governor’s ‘Stay in Place’ release from “home arrest.” The Nashville’s tourism industry is vital to the city and “Good To Go,” with the help of Vanderbilt Health and Ryman Hospitality (Opryland), underlines the need of a quick economic restart to troubled Nashville, believed to be on the brink of a state take-over. Cooper is floating a 32 percent tax increase but Nashvillians are totally against it due to Cooper’s overspending and inept leadership. Regardless, Nashville needs a boost and to see Vanderbilt Medical and Ryman step up is heartening.

AN ONION to the late nail stylist Cynthia Covert, age 58, who was tending to a client’s fingernails during the lockdown when she saw an alligator emerge from a nearby pond on Kiawah Island, near Charleston, S.C. Cynthia rushed toward the gator and, as a neighbor yelled the reptile had caught and feasted on a small deer only days earlier, Covert laughed that she didn’t look like a deer. The alligator snatched her, pulling her into the shallows and, as two men tossed her a rope so she could be pulled to safety, Cynthia said, “Oh, gosh, I guess I won’t be doing this again.” No, she won’t. The gator rolled, freeing the woman’s grip on the rope, and she soon drowned to death. “This unfortunate tragedy reminds citizens to stay alert and cautious around our Lowcountry wildlife, a sheriff’s spokesman said. The alligator was euthanized by sheriff’s deputies. This was the third death by alligators in the last four years in South Carolina, where before then there had never been a known attack in the state.

AN ORCHID to three Marines that were on a recent flight from Tokyo to Dallas when an enraged and addled passenger began screaming in the airplane’s restroom in May. The wide-eyed flight attendant was bewildered but a Marine captain told her, “We handle this stuff all the time.” The flight attendant used a device to open the locked door and the three Marines pounced, quickly subduing the disruptive passenger, securing flex-ties to keep him restrained, and watched over him until the plane could make an emergency landing in Los Angeles. The flight crew and passengers applauded but a sergeant, who is an infantry assault section leader, waved it off. “Poor guy just picked the wrong plane.” FBI officials took the disruptive passenger to a nearby hospital for evaluation.

AN ONION for the fact that Sunday afternoon in Murfreesboro, a scheduled protest involving what is believed to be roughly 50 MTSU students, went awry, causing police to deploy tear gas, a 6:30 p.m. city-wide curfew, and a strict stand-down order.

AND, NOW, join as we pray that a month from now, we will offer far more good than not in in our lush garden.

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