Fonticulus Fides

Friday, November 14, 2003

I meant to blog last night about the gorgeous sunset our Lord treated us to in Nebraska, but I never got a chance to sit in front of the computer. It was really breathtaking -- vivid pinks and oranges, and the sun seemed to pause just after it dipped past the horizon, so the colors hung in the air for what seemed like an hour.

I've seen sunrises over the Atlantic Ocean and sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico and plenty of other places in the Midwest, but nothing compares to the sunsets I've witnessed in Nebraska during autumn. The colors are so rich, the expanse of the hues so much larger. It fills your eye entirely, from the farthest corners of your peripheral vision.

Part of the spectacular color is, I'm sure, due to lower air pollution levels. But since the colors are so much better in the fall than during spring or summer, I attribute much of the effect to harvest. I think the gold, orange and red chaff that flies up into the air from the combines is carried high on the wind, and the setting sun reflects all those miniscule, glittery particles. Just my personal thought, of course -- not scientific research.

If you are from the city like I am, you might wonder what produces orange or red chaff. The gold color is from the corn, of course. Soybeans (second largest crop) tend to be tawny or a drab greenish-brown color. But the third largest crop out here is grain sorghum, or milo. In fact, more milo is grown in Nebraska than anywhere else. It's a good dryland crop -- doesn't need irrigation, and if you farm no-till, it can do a good job replenishing the soil. If you plant too many nutrient-hungry crops in a row, say six consecutive years of corn in the same field, your soil gets worn out and can't sustain a crop well. Which is why crop rotation is so important. And out here in the plains, a good dryland crop like milo that requires no irrigation is a good choice.

Milo comes in several different colors, but the most popular ones are orange, red and yellow. Hence the different colored chaff. The milo plant looks something like a small corn stalk topped with a cone-shaped head of small pearl-like grain. Some farmers fill the left side of their planters with one color grain and the right side with another color, and when the grain heads ripen, their fields are striped orange and crimson.

The grain itself is generally used for animals, like dog food or cattle feed. There is also a grade for human consumption, that is typically pale yellow or white. It's called "millet" when it's meant for humans, and though it's been a while since I had any, I remember it being quite a bit like couscous.

Job update...

My husband's job interview went well. He will probably be offered the job officially sometime next week. But the salary is dismal. It's quite a significant pay cut. Some of that will be offset by commissions, but those fluctuate. So the sensible thing to do is to budget using the salary only and then apply commissions to things like unexepected expenses, savings (if we ever had enough to save) or accelerated debt reduction for the few debts we carry. At this point, I don't know if we can live on the base salary he'd get. We'll have to work on the numbers and see.

Mentally, though, the job would be so much better for my husband. The work atmosphere would be totally different. He'd enjoy it more, he'd be more respected. He'd be far less stressed, which would give him more energy for his side business. And if that could grow, it could also help offset the significant reduction in base salary. I hope we find a way for him to take the job. But part of me is so depressed that an assistant manager with previous management experience and a college degree might have to settle for $16k a year! That's hardly a living wage, even for a single person. Let alone a married man with three kids.

Well, I know God will help us live honorably, and that's really our primary goal. It's not like we need an enormous income...but we do want to be able to cover the basics of food, housing, medical care when needed, etc.



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