Utterly dependent…

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I don’t know about your weather today, but up until mid-afternoon here in the north Georgia mountains, it was DUMPING rain. Some thunder and lightning, but mostly dark, dark clouds and buckets of rain! In fact, it was so dark and overcast that our outdoor lights which are on a light-sensor, stayed lit until after noon. I don’t know if I’ve seen that happen here before!

In California, there are many farms in the central valley. The central valley tends to be very hot and very dry in the summertime, so the farmers depend on irrigation to keep their crops growing. Almost everywhere you go you’ll see irrigation watering the fields. It’s important – they grow a substantial portion of America’s fruit and vegetables there – and without that precious (and scarce water) many people would go hungry or we’d have to import a lot more of America’s food. There are some rather vicious battles (so far mostly just figuratively speaking) over water. The Delta-Mendota canal takes water from northern California and channels it to thirsty southern California to meet the demand of water-hungry Los Angelinos. The farmers in northern California don’t like it one bit because it reduces how much water they get for their crops.

Today’s photo, from 2013, was taken on my cousin’s farm in Iowa. On occasion, you’ll see some irrigation in Iowa, but for the most part, the farmers are dependent on the rain the good Lord sends to grow their farm crops. This is a water gauge that was attached to the top of wooden post so the farmer (my cousin, in this case) could see how much water they got in any given storm. It may just be me, but it looks like this gauge has problems: there’s no cylinder to hold the water, and even the marks for how much water look skewed – but if the cylinder to hold the rainwater widened as it went up, I guess it was probably accurate. Still, it is a piece of Americana from an Iowa farm that stirs my memory of going out to the water gauge we had attached to a post in our yard.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1975, police were called to the home of Jim and Naomi Olive in Terra Linda, California, after Jim Olive’s business partner reported that the couple had not been seen in a week. The house in disarray, officers found no sign of either the Olives or their adopted teenage daughter Marlene. However, Marlene turned up at the police station later that day and began telling a bizarre series of stories explaining her parent’s disappearance.

Marlene first claimed that her parents had gone to Lake Tahoe for a vacation but had not returned. As the interrogation extended into the second day, she told detectives that Jim had killed Naomi and then fled. But, when pressed on this story, she contradicted herself and claimed that her mother was the killer. In an entirely new tale, she then told the police that both of her parents were killed and taken away by a group of Hell’s Angels.

The detectives waited patiently until Marlene finally led them to a fire pit outside the town where the burned remains of her parents were located. With a little investigation, the detectives found out about Chuck Riley, Marlene’s boyfriend. At his home was an unopened letter from Marlene that read, “I have no guilty feelings at all about my folks. NONE. NEITHER SHOULD YOU. Relax.”

From Riley, police learned that Marlene and Naomi had a rocky relationship, mostly because Naomi was schizophrenic and paranoid. Apparently, she repeatedly told her daughter that she would grow up to be a whore just like her real mother. Angry and insecure, Marlene began biting off chunks of her own arm.

Marlene met Chuck Riley in 1974, and the two began a contractual relationship: Marlene provided sex for Riley in return for drugs. In March 1975, the two went on a $6,000 shoplifting spree and Naomi threatened to send Marlene to juvenile hall.

On June 21, Marlene arranged to go shopping with her father while Riley sneaked into the house and attacked Naomi with a claw hammer. Failing to kill her, he then stabbed her in the chest with a kitchen knife. By the time Jim and Marlene returned home, Riley was still in the middle of the attack. When Jim attempted to intervene, Riley shot and killed him.

Because she was a teenager at the time of the murders, Marlene Olive served only four years before being released from prison in 1979. Riley was given a death sentence that was later commuted to life imprisonment.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Dr. Harold Shipman (1946–2004) is regarded as the most prolific serial killer in modern history, with over 250 murders ascribed to him. He was a British doctor who murdered his patients: the oldest was a 93-year-old woman, and the youngest was a 41-year-old man. He hung himself in his cell in 2004, a day before his 58th birthday.

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