Molly Ivins, 1944-2007

This just hit the wires...

Syndicated political columnist Molly Ivins died of breast cancer Wednesday evening at her home in Austin. She was 62 years old, and had much, much more to give this world. She remained cheerful despite Texas politics. She emphasized the more hilarious aspects of both state and national government, and consequently never had to write fiction. She said, "Good thing we've still got politics -- finest form of free entertainment ever invented."

As a Texan and a progressive/liberal the passing of Molly Ivins will be noted not in what is said but in what won't be said in the final years of the Shrub's residency in the White House. My one regret is that Molly cut Bush so much slack in the past five years that we will never get to read her cutting him to shreds. Not that the resident in chief would understand the venom that was beginning to show up in her columns...Molly you will be missed.

Source: AlterNet: Molly Ivins, 1944-2007

Asked once whether she saw herself as courageous for speaking out for progressive causes and against the tide of Republican leadership, Ivins said no. "I've always been surprised that sometimes people think that. I'm convinced that can you stand up and say what — whatever you think.

"What happens is that people are afraid to do it. And what happens when you do it, when you stand up and you say something that the majority doesn't agree with or that everybody's going to be shocked and outraged by, you stand up and say it, and you find out an incredible number of people agree with you."

Lord, take that fear of speaking out away from me and let me try, I say, try to speak out in her memory.

Source: Molly Ivins, queen of liberal commentary, dies

Thought for the Day

My morning email brought me this from the Blue  Mountain Center of Meditation...

January 30
And then there crept a little noiseless noise among the leaves,
Born of the very sigh that silence heaves.
  – John Keats

Today I was walking with some friends in Armstrong Redwoods Park and I was astonished at those trees. The more I looked at them, the more I came to appreciate them. It was completely still, unlike our tropical forests in India, where elephants trumpet, tigers roar, and there is a constant symphony of sound.

Here everything was still, and I enjoyed the silence so much that I remembered these lines of John Keats. It is a perfect simile for the silence of the mind, when all personal conflicts are resolved, when all selfish desires come to rest. All of us are looking for this absolute peace, this inward, healing silence in the redwood forest of the mind. When we find it, we will become small forces for peace wherever we go. – Eknath Easwaran

As I read those lines it is suddenly spring 1992 and I am standing by the creek in the Muir Woods on the coast north of San Francisco. This was only my second trip to northern California and the first time I had managed to get out of the city. It was total serendipity that I ended up on that creek on that day because truthfully, I had never heard of the Muir Woods. I forget which day it was, probably a Thursday, and the park was almost completely empty when I arrived. Walking in the silence Eknath Easwaran speaks of above was such a spiritual experience that every time I've returned to the area I have made the pilgrimage back to the site.

Standing at the base of those ancient trees with the creek running by was mind expanding. Thinking about the years those massive towers of life had stood on that spot brought to mind the concept that they weren't the first of their kind to stand here. When I think about my ancestry, ten generations barely gets me back to the Declaration of Independence. Ten generations of these trees would take you back thousands of years into the past. As I stood there in the shadows of those ancient beings I could fill the serenity of the years pressing down upon me. The deep earthy smell in the air, the ferns growing in the shadows, even the ancient corpses of the fallen giving back to the earth that birthed them, all of these things made me slow down and just breathe...In awe.

For some reason almost all of the places in my life that have had that effect on me have been in the presence of really big trees. From the old spreading Live Oaks of my home state to the massive Elms of Charlotte when I first laid eyes on trees that spread their shade not over a house but over a whole neighborhood. Even to the tall forests of the mountains I have come to dream about where I can stand and crane my neck for hours just looking toward the heavens where the trees brush their upreaching limbs in constant contact with the sky.

Such are the thoughts of my morning...gotta run.

Source: Thought for the Day

Sunday Photography Seminar

I drug myself out of bed early yesterday and drove into downtown Houston to the U of H Downtown for a seminar on Digital Travel Photography presented by National Geographic Traveler. It was this paragraph in the email solicitation that pulled me in:
Learn the secrets of these two top nature and travel photographers, and get lots of useful, real-world advice to help make the most of the potential of digital photography while avoiding the pitfalls and exploding the myths that surround the medium. This seminar is intended for amateur to advanced amateur photographers new to digital or considering making the switch from film to digital capture. Using a slide-show/lecture format, Ralph and Bob will help ease your transition into the digital world.
I was very happy with the presentation put on by Ralph Lee Hopkins and Bob Krist. They covered a lot of ground and answered a lot of questions and kept the interest and the pace through the full 7 hours of the seminar.

I guess time will tell if I really absorbed what they had to teach....

Hale: An undeveloped talent | - Houston Chronicle

Leon Hale has a story from his childhood that tells it like it was in rural Texas. It starts like this...

When the family gets together we sometimes retell the story of Uncle Billy Crockett's camera and the famous pictures he took.

The story has been retold so often that Uncle Billy himself might not recognize it. But this is a harmless story that means well, and it's part of my folks' history.

One of his nieces gave Uncle Billy the camera for his birthday. This was back when almost all cameras were Kodaks. You didn't hear the word camera much.

Take a few minutes and go read the rest of the story, it's worth the time.

Source: Hale: An undeveloped talent | - Houston Chronicle

Friday Morning Coffee Muse

I see from my email forecast that we can expect a second day of sunshine before we go back to trying to live up to Seattle's weather rep. It has rained (or so it seems from this side of memory) for the majority of the days in January. I guess we are making up for all of those beautiful blue skies in November and December. I have water standing right now in places in my yard I don't ever recall seeing water stand before. Luckily, the rain has come down more as a steady light misting with occasionally heavier showers for most of the past month...The temperatures have also moderated back to normal for this time of the year in SE Texas. I am starting the day here at 6am with a balmy 39 and the forecast calls for a toasty 61 by 1pm. So all you folks in the Blue Ridges throw another log on the fire and stay warm.

For those of you who didn't notice, the Senate yesterday tried to end the Federal Minimum Wage. An amendment was placed on a bill that would make minimum wages a state issue. Twenty-eight Senators voted for the amendment. You might want to check the list of names. I found it interesting that one of the two Republican Senators from the state of Texas voted "yea". But I really wouldn't have expected anything less from John Cornyn. I would like to thank our other Senator, Kay Bailey Hutchinson for having a conscience. The surprising name on the list to me was John McCain, I really find it hard to believe a Presidential contender would want to associate with killing the minimum wage...The representatives of ten states voted as a block to end the minimum wage, go take a look at the list, it makes for interesting reading.

You can tell I am still a newbie at blogging (with a low readership to boot) cause I still get a kick out of checking my logs at sitemeter. Mostly I look to see where the visitors are from. I also check where they are visiting from. Interesting reading for me at least. This weeks visitor counts at 39, not a high count but pretty much average for here.

This from "Eknath Easwaran's Thought for the Day"...

A favorite expression of my granny’s was, “Life cannot make a selfish person happy.” It has taken me half a lifetime to understand the profundity of her simple words, warning that happiness cannot come from possessing another person, or from any selfish attachment. But she would also always add, “Life cannot help but make a selfless person happy.” Like spiritual teachers of all the world’s religions, she taught that happiness is to be found in learning how to love others more than I love myself.

Well, the clock on the shelf tells me I better get a move on...catch you later.

The State of the Union

I managed to sit through the President's address last evening without throwing anything at the television harder than a few epitaphs, the strongest of which was probably "You damn liar".

One of the things I can not understand at all is the deficit. How can the President claim to have cut the deficit in half when it's higher this year than last? Am I wrong? Has the deficit really been halved?

First, we must balance the Federal budget. We can do so without raising taxes. What we need to do is impose spending discipline in Washington, D.C. We set a goal of cutting the deficit in half by 2009 — and met that goal 3 years ahead of schedule. Now let us take the next step. In the coming weeks, I will submit a budget that eliminates the Federal deficit within the next 5 years. I ask you to make the same commitment. Together, we can restrain the spending appetite of the Federal Government, and balance the Federal budget.

Pretty straight forward statement isn't it the deficit has been cut in half 3 years early. Then why is the deficit the same as last year and the year before? I found the answer here. I also learned that I was working under what is probably a wide spread misunderstanding. I have always associated the deficit with the total debt of the country and I find that's wrong. The deficit is only the difference between income and outgo each year. And this President doesn't count the money he's borrowing from us as part of the deficit. No wonder Bush is so worried about Social Security. He's borrowing from that bank heavier than any President before him and not adding those figures to his deficit numbers. So folks every time the President tells you he's cut the deficit in half three years early, remember this, he learned his accounting from his good buddy "Kenny Boy" Lay.

I find myself more and more impressed with the new Senator fro Virginia every time I hear him speak. I think his closing last night was the right tone for the Democrats to take with Mr. Bush...

Webb concluded his speech with references to former presidents Dwight Eisenhower and Theodore Roosevelt and a warning for Bush:

"These presidents took the right kind of action for the benefit of the American people and for the health of our relations around the world. Tonight, we are calling on this president to take similar action in both areas. If he does, we will join him. If he does not, we will be showing him the way."

Source: Va.'s Webb Offers a Blunt Challenge to Bush -

Jim Hightower | SURGE

 Ok folks, this starts out strange but stay for the full thing. It's worth the time...

I don't know about you, but I'm with George W on this one: It's time for surge!

The link above is the audio, the link below is the transcript. Jim Hightower is one of the last outspoken progressive ex-elected officials from Texas.

Source: Jim Hightower | SURGE

Bush Seeks Shift in Health Coverage -

Call me a cynic, but any plan from this president to address the healthcare/insurance problem in the country is pretty much a non-starter for me. I have spent most of my adult life being insurance poor. By that I mean, insurance has always been a priority, even when it meant having less for everything else. Car insurance, home insurance, health insurance...Even credit insurance on big dollar purchases. Now the President wants to tax my insurance premiums...Another bad idea from the Great State of Taxes...oops, I mean Texas. Don't get me wrong, I'm a proud fourth generation Texan, not a carpetbagger from Connecticut like some un-named GW's. But in Texas, the Republican run government raises it's money on sin taxes and professional fees. Now the President wants to do the same...

President Bush will propose a deep tax break for Americans who purchase their own medical insurance and would finance it with an unprecedented tax on a portion of high-priced health-care plans that workers receive from their employers, according to the White House.

And there you have it, from the man who never has and never will have to worry about his families healthcare...A plan that will save us all money on our health insurance by making us take a plan that covers nothing or taxing us for having a plan hat might save our lives.

Let's not even think about the fact that the whole concept of health insurance is now terribly out of sync. Insurance companies spend the majority of their management costs on figuring out how to not pay for something. The doctors and hospitals have a two tier pricing plan. One for the insurance holders that have rates negotiated by the company's and one for the non-insured that have rates at least four times as high. The uninsured can't afford these prices and end up in the emergency room which they still can't afford.

The new tax measure would attempt to roughly equalize the benefits of people who have health insurance, whether they buy it or receive it from employers.

The estimated 150 million people covered by employer-provided health insurance are not taxed on the value of their health insurance, regardless of how much it is worth. The average employer-provided family health insurance plan costs $11,500 a year, administration officials said -- three times what it cost 19 years ago.

Under the president's proposal, workers who receive employer-provided health insurance would have to pay a tax on the cost of their benefit above $15,000, the threshold proposed by Bush for the tax break. For instance, if a person's health insurance costs $16,000, he would pay a tax on the $1,000 difference.

I don't know about you, but every year my employer comes to us with higher deductibles and higher premiums. Sadly, I am sure I fall into the "Cadillac" plan category that the President wants to tax. My question is, where does the President's own plan fall? will he now have to pay a tax on his plan? I doubt he has premiums deducted from his paycheck...

Since we don't want to fix the problem, our even address the issues, not really, let's just level the playing field and make everyone's plan the same...Bad. Why, if the President wants to equalize the benefits, doesn't a single payer plan even enter the picture? Or how about a single administrator plan? Be it government or private, one administrator should have some benefits of scale. Or how about a healthcare tax? Set a percentage of pay as the entry into the plan and make it mandatory...The same percentage across the board, no deductions, no exemptions everyone must pay to play. No, not from this President. His coverage is paid for for life...Along with a big percentage of Congress. Do you really think they have a vested interest in fixing the problem? I don't.

Source: Bush Seeks Shift in Health Coverage -

‘Post-’ - New York Times

 My God you have to love the Internet today. Call me uneducated, nonliterary, a boor, but until a few months back I had never read (that I recall) Verlyn Klinkenborg. Then I came across a quote from "The Rural Life" on one of the blogs I read regularly (I am sorry to say I can't be certain which). That led me to Amazon and an excerpt from the book. I really liked the way he used the language. Then I was perusing a online book catalog and found a copy of  "The Rural Life" at a price I couldn't refuse so I bought the book...Loved every page. Now with the magic of rss feeds I can have Mr Klinkenborg's articles delivered from the New York Times every time he publishes one. Today's column was about the prefix 'Post' ... or the 'Post' prefix (sorry, I couldn't resist). Here is a paragraph that I found particularly insightful...

The most innovative user of the prefix post-these days is the post-Austrian governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who says that he is now engaging in “post-partisan” politics. He has a serious point, which is that the number of independent voters in the state is growing even as the number of registered Republicans and Democrats is dropping. To many of those independent voters, the arcane machinery of party politics may look a little antiquated, especially since the current occupant of the White House seems to be post-Republican — even post-electoral — though, of course, never post-partisan.

Source: ‘Post-’ - New York Times

Thought for the Day

 For a long time now I have been on the mailing list for the Blue Mountain Center "Thought for the Day". Each and every morning the email is in my inbox. Each and every morning I open the message and read the passage. Some mornings I sit and ,dare I say, meditate on the thoughts expressed in the quote and the passage from Eknath Easwaran, some mornings I don't...This morning both the quote and the passage nailed me so I thought I would pass them on.

Thought for the Day

January 20
You learn to speak by speaking, to study by studying, to run by running, to work by working; in just the same way, you learn to love by loving.
  – Saint Francis de Sales

In learning to love, we start where we are – somewhat selfish, somewhat self-centered, but with a deep desire to relate lovingly to each other, to move closer and closer together. Love grows by practice; there is no other way. There will be setbacks as well as progress. But there is one immediate consolation: we don’t have to wait until our love is perfect to reap the benefits of it. Even with a little progress, everyone benefits – not only those we live with, but ourselves as well.

While I am a failed meditator, I continue to try in fits and spurts to find that place that will call from within me the need to sit...

Source: Thought for the Day


Pablo over at The Roundrock Journal has a post up that taught me a new word - inosculation.
His photos reminded me of a photo I took last fall in Fulton, Texas. When we were touring the Fulton Mansion the guide suggested we drive by a house a few blocks in from the coast. There in a live oak tree was a windmill blade assembly. It had been embedded during a hurricane through the area many years ago. Now the tree had grown around the assemblage so that it is hard to tell where tree leaves of and windmill begins. The photo is tough to see due to the high contrast at the time...


A closeup of the windmill...

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Hale: Simple brick drives away night chills | - Houston Chronicle

In time for the frosty nights across the country Leon Hale writes this in this morning's Houston Chronicle.

Warm toes
Sleeping with the feet on a hot brick is a familiar custom to me. It was based on the theory that if you keep your feet warm, you'll stay warm all over.

I once thought that all families everywhere slept with hot bricks. But I remember having a high school buddy spending a winter night at our house, and he was puzzled to see my mother putting four bricks in the oven about an hour before bedtime.

Everybody in our family had his own brick and was responsible for wrapping it. We used remnants of old cotton blankets. You had to watch out that your brick didn't overheat, or it would scorch the wrapping and stink up the house or even start a fire.

A brick properly heated and wrapped would often stay warm all night. Our custom was, when you got up in the morning you brought your brick to the kitchen and unwrapped it and stacked it by the stove with the others. And if it was still warm, you invited others to touch it to show that you had done a good wrapping job.

On frosty mornings we didn't ask a person whether he slept well. We'd just ask, "Did your brick stay warm?" If he said yes, that meant he had slept well.

Now where can I find a good brick? Stay dry, stay warm, stay safe and we'll catch you down the road.

Source: Hale: Simple brick drives away night chills | - Houston Chronicle

Tuesday Coffee Muses

Good Morning, Pardon me while I pour my first cup of coffee...Ahhhh, that's better.

I see from my morning email from the My-Cast Weather Center that the country's climate model is turned upside down again this morning. The temperature here is 35 as I type this which is a few degrees above the forecasted low for last night. And there is Boone at 39 and Floyd at 43...Go figure. I could see this happening occasionally, but this winter it seems to have happened a lot. At least the forecasted wintry mix (that's what they kept calling it) didn't make it all the way to Houston last night.

Well emails read, checked the news and it's time to roll...Ya'll stay warm and dry today.

Fall Maple at Sunrise

Consider this a test after a week of hard-drive problems.
Also I will use this as my Photo Friday entry for "Peaceful"

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Bush: 'We're Going Forward' -

I think it's time to give him the diploma...

"I began to think, well, if failure is not an option and we've got to succeed, how best to do so? And that's how I came up with the plan I did," Bush said.

Bush has earned his PhD in Government. I have never seen the BS piled higher or deeper than it in in this White House. My the lord have mercy on their souls...

In the "60 Minutes" interview, Bush said that although Iraq has descended into instability since the U.S. invasion in March 2003, the removal of Saddam Hussein nonetheless was worthwhile. Hussein's remaining in power, he asserted, would have only led to a potential nuclear arms race between Iran and Iraq, which would have created even greater instability.

Exactly how many ways can he try to spin the reason for the American invasion of a sovereign country? He "decided" to take us to war and now he can't "decide" how to win the war so he has "decided" to postpone the decision until the next Presidents term in office. And after getting the "Bi-partisan" Iraq Study Groups plan for how to end this thing, I think it's time for the President and Mr. Cheney to stop saying that no one has offered up a viable alternative. Just because it doesn't meet the President's idea of "victory in Iraq", whatever that may be, doesn't mean it not a viable means to end a fiasco he created.

Source: Bush: 'We're Going Forward' -

Before the storm...Sunday morning

Sorry for the lack of posts these past couple of weeks. With a rush of (as always) last minute projects at work, and trying to do a little maintenance here at home I've barely kept up with emails and rss feeds of my normal reading.

I've also restarted my genealogy research. If you really want to kill some quantity of hours on the internet start doing genealogy as a hobby. What with trying to understand the forces that drove families to pull up roots and move on down the trail over and over and trying to follow the historical stories in each locale in which you follow ancestors and kin into, your reading load seems to increase exponentially. Actually, most of what I've been doing is filling in data on the closer generations of my families. The data now available online is so much greater than it was even three years ago that you can find numerous sources of new data on practically everyone in your dataset.

Enough of that though, as you can see from the title of this post we are setting this morning before the storm. The temperature is in the 70's and the wind is blowing strongly off the Gulf of Mexico just a few miles south of here. The humidity all day has been above 95%...eeck. Talk about summertime weather in the mountains. The thing that really struck me though was the number of Robin's in the yard this morning. As I poured my first cup of coffee today and stood in the open door of the kitchen there were two at my feet on the steps, another 50 or so on the ground in the back yard and that many or more in the trees above my head. Talk about Hichcockian moments...It felt like it was straight out of "The Birds". Before I had finished cup number two the Robin's had been replaced by Blue Jays, the other large flock representative of the winter bird population here. Now at noon we are totally absent any birds in quantity.

The storm mentioned above is supposed to hit us today and tonight with our high tomorrow just in the 40's (41 actually). They are (and have been for three days or more) predicting winter mix precipitation on Monday night and Tuesday. For our part of the world that's real rare. The number of snows I have seen here in the last half century can be counted on the fingers of both hands without using up all the digits. Sleet accumulations are just as rare. The  weather this year (as it seems everyone is mentioning) has been very strange. I have been watching the North Carolina weather around Boone for a number of years and last year I added Floyd County to my weather watch. I can't think of a winter where the temperatures here have been upside down with the mountains as much as they have been this year. While we have had a very mild winter, the Blue Ridge Mountains have had a milder one. While there are a number of benefits to this weather pattern, taken as a whole it is highly disturbing.

Time to get back to the chores I was working on before I sat down here with a glass of water to rehydrate...Keep the home fires burning (after the front anyway).

Rice, a Uniter of the Divided -

Who would have thought that the competence of George W Bush's first campaign slogan would be so in line with the rest of his administration. Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't he run as a compassionate conservative who would unite the two parties? Looks like it only took the compassionate conservative six long years to accomplish the goal he set. The trouble is they seem to be uniting against him.

Within minutes of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's arrival on Capitol Hill yesterday, it became apparent that the Bush administration had, after four divisive years, finally succeeded in uniting Congress on the war in Iraq.

Unfortunately for Rice, the lawmakers were unified in opposition to President Bush's new policy.

And if anyone here or abroad can still listen to Condi spin the administrations actions and intentions and still walk away believing her about what is happening in the world...Well, I have a bridge leading to some oceanfront property in Sun City, AZ that I would love to unload at a great price.

Source: Rice, a Uniter of the Divided -

Independence from the Corporate Global Economy by Ethan Miller

Yes! magazine has their Winter 2007 Issue online. The first paragraph of the first article starts this way... 

Call it "globalization," or the "free market," or "capitalism." Whatever its name, people across the United States and throughout the world are experiencing the devastating effects of an economy that places profit above all else.

I haven't had the chance yet to read the issue, but, I will over the next few days. If you are interested in local economies, sustainable living or local energy go read the mag. If you like it try a trial issue...What have you got to lose?

Source: Independence from the Corporate Global Economy by Ethan Miller

Green Shopping Bags

Kate up at Cider Press Hill posted about these today...

My new shopping bags

My grocery store is trying out a new product. Last night when I approached the check out counter (I think I was the only shopper in the store at 10:30 PM), there was a display of reusable shopping bags. Like these:

I like the idea and the way Kate describes them they look like a very good deal.

Source: My New Shopping Bags


You know, it's taken all these years for Molly to get mad, now that she is...She writes a hell of a great piece. I am only sorry she didn't get mad 4 years ago.

The president of the United States does not have the sense God gave a duck -- so it's up to us. You and me, Bubba.
I don't know why Bush is just standing there like a frozen rabbit, but it's time we found out. The fact is WE have to do something about it. This country is being torn apart by an evil and unnecessary war, and it has to be stopped NOW.
This war is being prosecuted in our names, with our money, with our blood, against our will.

Go read the rest of the piece. Molly Ivins just proves that not every thing that comes out of Texas is ...Just use your own term here.

Source: Molly Ivins - - Creators Syndicate

Memphis Commercial Appeal - Green Thumb

 Now here's a gardening ~ living concept to write home about. Slow Gardening from Slow Cooking, very Zen...

Leave it to Felder Rushing to come up with a concept that will get us thinking about our gardens in new ways.

Slow Gardening, which gets it cues from the Slow Food movement, is gardening according to your climate and with your own personal philosophy.

"It's gardening in a way that has more people growing more stuff through more seasons while expending less energy and resources," said Rushing...

From the article it seems this is a concept just starting to be fleshed out by Mr. Rushing. Keep an eye out for more on this in the future.

Source: Memphis Commercial Appeal - Green Thumb

Sunset #2

Another Picasa Test
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Sunset in the new year

Testing Picasa BlogThis!

I had not tried this in a while. Seems to have worked this time...
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Listening to the voice of a place...

 Fred First has a piece up this morning that really speaks to those of us who listen to the voice of those sacred places we discover in life. The photo he posted with the story almost brings the voice of Nameless Creek to life. I can imagine the fireflies beginning to flash their welcome to the night as dusk grows heavy on the summer eve. The stars competing for attention as the fireflies rise toward the tops of the trees above. Yes, this is a sacred place to sit the day down...

The pine tree beside the lawn chairs--that we could never bring ourselves to put back in the barn--was only head high when we saw it there on our first walk down this way. Things are different now. And things there are just the way they've been since the first settlers found this valley in the early 1800s. The seclusion and peace is unchanged since both Confederate and Union deserters took refuge in this wonderfully-forsaken place. It is the same as yesterday, even on days we don't go there.
The Christmas ferns grow ever-green along the banks. The squirrels chatter from the tops of White Pines, shedding fragments of their morning meal like crumbs from the table. The creek sings whether we are there to listen or not.

I can understand the call such a place has on a person because in my life there have been a number of these sacred places that have called me back to them over and over. Unlike Fred, all of these places I have owned only in my mind. Someday soon I hope to own my own place to become part of, to grow into.

Thanks Fred, some mornings become sacred because of the friends you visit with even when you travel no further than your computer...

Source: Morning Comes to Nameless Creek

Snake Tails

In South Texas where my Grandpa Sewell was raised, snakes are a big deal...A really BIG deal. Western Diamondback Rattlesnakes of six feet and longer are common. In the summer and fall 0f 1972, when I lived with my grandparents, we tanned a rattlesnake skin that was over eight feet long and about eighteen inches wide at the widest point. Grandpa was quite proud of the fact that he shot the head off the snake at 20 to 30 yards as it crawled across a right-of-way where his deer stand was located. At least that was the story he told. You have to understand my Grandpa, he was prone to tall tales. He just loved pulling the wool over the eyes of gullible grandkids. His favorite day of the year was April 1. The world was always full of April Fools and he loved every one of them.

The Stick

One of the tales Grandpa loved to tell was of the Rattler we walked up on on the first night my family visited the ranch in the '60's.

When we arrived it was already late and the sun was setting. Grandma and Grandpa had just recently had a two bedroom house built but were still using the small hunting trailer for storage. With four adults and four kids we needed bedding for the night. So Grandpa led a small caravan of children on a hike to the trailer for sleeping bags. As we walked thru the dark led by Grandpa and his flashlight he was regaling us with all of the dangers of the night in south Texas. He was telling us about wolves and coyotes, huge owls that could lift a child by the hair, and rattlesnakes. To this day I can remember his words, "You have to keep your eyes on the ground at all times around here 'cause there are rattlesnakes under every bush" and with that he swung the light over and said "there's one now" and damned if there wasn't.

"Get me a stick" Grandpa instructed. My two brothers hauled it for the house while I tried to see a stick on the ground around me.

"Here's one" my sister said as she handed Grandpa a stick.

It was only a matter of seconds before Grandpa dispatched the rattler, then he turned to my sister and asked her, "How did you know that wasn't another snake?"

Her answer was "I kicked it first".

Grandpa told that story for the rest of his life..."I kicked it first" was the punch line he loved.

To be continued in...

Waking up a Rattler

Edges and Order - New York Times

From Verlyn Klinkenborg of The New York Times comes this paragraph today...

Nearly every image of nature I have ever come across misses the sense of intricate confusion underfoot in the woods, the thickets of goldenrod collapsing into each other along the roadsides, the rotting tusks of fallen beeches broken against the western hillside. It almost never makes sense to talk about the purpose of nature. But now — until the snow comes at last — I could easily believe that the purpose of nature is to create edges, if only because every edge, no matter how small, is a new habitation. As purposes go, that could hardly be more different from my own, which is to reduce the number of edges here, so that the big pasture is bounded by four clean lines only, free of interruptions from sumac or knotweed or shattered maple limbs. Left to itself, nature is all interruption.

It is almost as if he is issuing a challenge to the photographer in me. I know what he's talking about though, I've taken those images and trashed them once they were developed because the focused view in the picture captured nothing of the actual image my eyes saw as I clicked the shutter. I was already thinking  of some sort of photo project dealing with the woods along the bayou behind my house after visiting FFF this morning and reading his agenda list for the new year. Who knows maybe Fred and Verlyn can inspire something that will lead to a furthering of this stumble toward the next phase of my life.

BTW -- Happy 2007

Source: Edges and Order - New York Times

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