Last day of February - 2007

The last full month of winter is ending and here where I call home, its ending like spring. The morning temperature is already 65 degrees outside. Windows are thrown wide and doors are open in hopes of a breeze...None blows. The winter bird residents are talking outside my door this morning. Mockingbirds in the distance, robins up closer to the house. There is even a undertone of finch-i-ness in the morning air here under the leafing oaks. I really hope this isn't a sign of things to come this summer...

I saw a report yesterday that El Nina is rearing her head in the Pacific. That usually means (so they said) that hurricanes are more prevalent on the Atlantic side (which I assume includes the Gulf) of America with a lessening of Pacific storms. Happy news to start the new Hurricane season.

The morning forecast email is foretelling a beautiful day in the mountains of the Blue Ridge. Wish I were there to enjoy it...Some day in the not to distant future. All ya'll with the chance, get out and enjoy that sun today, it's a sure cure for the mid-winter blahs.

The squirrels have joined the chorus outside. They must be scolding one of our cats...

History Lesson

It was on this day in 1854 that about 50 opponents of slavery gathered in Ripon, Wisconsin, to found the Republican Party. The group was made up of Northern Democrats, Whigs, and a small antislavery party called the Free Soil Party. And they were remarkably successful for a brand-new party. In 1856, after just two years in existence, they elected 92 representatives and 20 senators, and they came close to capturing the presidency with their candidate John C. Freemont. And just four years after that, they did win the presidency with their candidate Abraham Lincoln. No new political party since then has won the presidency of the United Sates.
You really have to wonder at the changes time has wrought in the party of Lincoln...

Source: The Writer's Almanac

Looks like it's time to move...catch you down the road...

Home Politics or Politics of Home

Susan Albert had a post yesterday that really spoke to me. I keep going back and re-reading what she had to say about Terry Tempest Williams and her book Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place.

In an interview titled "The Politics of Place," Williams talks about the importance of staying home--or at least, staying in one place long enough to learn its seasons, its inhabitants, the names of things. Here's a paragraph (the longer interview is definitely worth reading)
I believe that to stay home, to learn the names of things, to realize who we live among... The notion that we can extend our sense of community, our idea of community, to include all life forms — plants, animals, rocks, rivers and human beings — then I believe a politics of place emerges where we are deeply accountable to our communities, to our neighborhoods, to our home. Otherwise, who is there to chart the changes? If we are not home, if we are not rooted deeply in place, making that commitment to dig in and stay put ... if we don't know the names of things, if don't know pronghorn antelope, if we don't know blacktail jackrabbit, if we don't know sage, pinyon, juniper, then I think we are living a life without specificity, and then our lives become abstractions. Then we enter a place of true desolation.
Staying at home, learning a place well enough so that we can chart the changes--that's a significant, meaningful commitment. Among all the other things we must do to protect this earth and the places we love, that's right at the top.
As I read the above I find myself saying yea, that's obvious. Then I realize that until I read it, It wasn't. Then it starts me to thinking about what it means to those of us who feel the pull of a different place than the one we were raised in and call home. I have spent 53 years figuring out that the Texas Gulf coast, no matter how long I stay, lacks something that my nature calls out for. I never realized what it was until a few years ago driving back from the San Antonio area I felt the growing depression as the land flattened out towards home.

Since I find I agree with Terry Williams on the central part of her thesis, and I have spent my lifetime doing what she says, what does it say about me that I now find the need to do it all over again in a new/old place. Is it, as I think, that ancestral pull to the even older home? Or, is it just looking for the new experiences to reawaken the old wonder of the new?

Source: Lifescapes

Enough introspection so early in the morning. Let's see if there is anything in the mornings email...

I see that the Floyd area is still having some fun with the below freezing temperatures this morning, though it looks like Boone and Valle Crucis are in the above freezing side of the thermometer.

Reading the Washington Post this morning I see that Richard Cohen has some good things to say about Al Gore.
Gore -- the son of a senator himself -- was raised for the presidency. But for the moment at least, he is showing all the irritating signs of a man at peace with himself. He abandoned Washington for Nashville. He has made a bundle in his investments, and he has set out to show that there is life after a failed candidacy, a purposeful life in which a man can do some good. His movie and his speeches are -- to paraphrase what Clausewitz said about war -- a continuation of politics by other means. He cannot make war but he can still make a difference.
If he runs are not, my hats off to Al Gore. He is making a difference by making a difference and in the long run that's what matters.

Just to show how spring is trying to push on in this year, here's a photo of the leaves popping out on the oaks in my yard.

Here is another...

Monday Morning Reading

I see from the weather forecast that the Blue Ridge should get a reprieve from the ice box. SE Texas is feeling a lot like a early mountain summer. Foggy morning, low 70's by afternoon.

Leon Hale had a pretty good column yesterday. A look back at the end of the world 70 or so years ago. On his blog this weekend they were discussing the "barred owl concert" at his country place.

Looking through my emails I found this story in the Washington Post. I am surprised that more in the President's Party haven't broken their necks trying to speak out of both sides of there mouths at the same time. E J Dionne makes some good points about the reasons for this administrations fall from "grace" with the American people. And as much as anything that has happened in the past decade this quote is about a succinct as it gets to summing up the disparity in what they say and what they do.

But it's certainly amusing that so many who were eager to throw Clinton out of office for perjury and obstruction of justice when he lied about sex are now livid at Fitzgerald for bringing comparable charges in a controversy over the rationale for war. Do they think sex is more important than war?
Source: E. J. Dionne Jr. - Smearing Like It's 2003 -

Time to start that morning commute...fogs a rising and so am I...later

Sunday Morning Muses

You have to love this time of year...Don't you?

Last evening we were running the AC to dry out the house after a week of humidity and temperatures in the upper 70's, something had to give. It did. Luckily, I checked the forecast before going to bed last night and switched the thermostat to the heater side.

Even with the AC side set higher than I like and the Heater side set lower than the wife likes we are eating up the Kwh this year already.

Even the flowers outside can't quite figure this year out. Last week one of my Angel's Trumpets was blooming all over. There must have been over a dozen big white blooms on the plant. Then came the freeze of the last week and all of the blooms shriveled up and hung limp and brown. Then came the week we just had. And the blooms on the plant that hadn't been burned completely...They returned. And this last week, they were joined by the Azaleas around the house. All winter long, there have been a few honeysuckle blooms on the vine in the yard...Not many, but at least a few all winter long.

It seems like a long tradition of weather myths here in the Houston area, but like all myths, there is that kernel of fact that feeds the life of the myth...It rained on the Rodeo Parade. I haven't looked at the records. I am sure they wouldn't bear up to the weight of the myth, but, every time it rains on the Trail Riders it makes the news in Houston. Many years ago (many, many) I made the trip through the parade route in a covered wagon after making many of the overnight camps on the trail (I couldn't ride for a couple of reasons: no horse and school). By best friend's brother was on the ride and we would meet at their campsites each night for a few hours before heading home for school the next day. Then on the last night before the parade we joined the Riders at Memorial Park for the night. The next morning we pulled on our boots and hats and bummed a ride on one of the wagons for the ride through downtown Houston. For some reason, every year at this time, I relive those long gone days...I wonder just what pushes those memories to the surface?

Another of my shots from Friday.

Have a great day, and I'll catch ya'll down the way.

Only in Texas

So maybe they sleep in comfortable recreational vehicles these days instead of bunking under the stars and use propane tanks to cook their vittles.

That doesn't mean the 300 or so members of the Sam Houston Trail Ride moseying along toward Houston aren't real spur-jingling cowboys and cowgirls.

More than 6,000 riders, representing the Sam Houston outfit and a dozen other groups, are expected to begin pushing into the city limits today for the final leg of this year's Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo trail ride.

By the time they cross into the grounds at Memorial Park on Friday, the trail riders will have covered a combined total of almost 1,800 miles.
Source: Trail riders back in the saddle and the city limits again - Houston Chronicle

Go Texan Day in Houston always brings a bunch of Trail Riders by the office on their way to Memorial Park and the Rodeo Parade downtown tomorrow. This group appears to be the Southwest Trail Ride established in 1993. They are in the last 10 miles of a 120-mile ride from Rosenberg, Texas.

This group of riders has been coming by our offices each year. Their passing is the highlight of everyones "Go Texan Day".

These are some of the first few wagons that passed. It was a pretty large group this year.
I've posted some more shots on my Flickr site...Trail Riders.

revised 2/24/2007 8:30am
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Photo Friday: Textured

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TGIF - 2767

And another week has passed. Isn't it amazing how fast time flies as you get older. As Einstein might say, "It's all relative my friend". Yesterday was 1/19375 of my life, no wonder the days seem shorter. Oh well, the coffees hot, the morning email calls and...Time Passes.

Sorry for the short post this morning. I ended up going off on a bit of an anti-(Bush, War, Rightwing) Screed over at Blues From the Red Side of Life Blog. Feel free to jump over or not...

Today is "Go Texan" day in Houston. The kick off to the Houston Rodeo season. Everyone is supposed to dress up like "cowboys" which means the John Trivolta "Urban Cowboy" look. What we all called the goat roper look back in the suburban side of Houston I grew up on. Of course everyone I hung out with were surfers translating into hippies as the culture changed. So I'll send a big "Howdy" out to all ya'll and say..."Ya'll come back now, ya'ear"

Foggy, drippy morning

As I wandered out with the garbage this morning I could feel the fog in the air. The sound of the water dripping off the trees was everywhere. I will admit though, the temperature in the upper 50's was nice. Yesterday we were pushing 80 by the afternoon and it made you appreciate being in the shade. After a very wet and cloudy start, the sky cleared of by mid-morning and it was a beautiful day as seen from behind the monitors on my desk (as in not). It's days like yesterday that bring on that dreaded disease called "Spring Fever", and I know I was beginning to feel the symptoms. If I am not careful I am sure the disease will become full blown and I'll have to self- prescribe an afternoon on the grass with a kite...or a camera.

I see from the mornings run to Floyd County that Fred has expanded his borders a bit in his "writings of place". With the addition of the new blog he is going to have more white space to fill. I look forward to tagging along on his exploration of discovery about the place he calls home and the people who have lived along that slow road and called it home also.

Well, I am running a bit late this morning and it's about that time. I gotta run but I'll try to add to this post later if I get the chance. Take care and have a great day.

This is a shot from the drive in this morning...

Photoshoped a bit to suit my eye.

Tuesday Coffee Muses

When I woke up this morning the weather outside would fit the Blue Ridge Mountains in the summertime. This morning it is 62 degrees to start the day. The weather prognosticators are promising mid 70's by the afternoon. The sky will stay mostly cloudy with just a slight chance of rain today. As I sit here now in the Kitchen with my coffee and my laptop, the back door is open and the birds are doing their morning thing.

I have had a spike in traffic this week according to Seems I did what a lot of other people did when I read Mary Mackey's poetry last week. I immediately Googled Mary to find out more and then I did my blog post. That managed to get me on the search page just below the listing for the Writer's Almanac itself and that alone has driven more traffic to my site than any other post I have ever had. Granted the numbers are nowhere near the daily reads for a lot of the blogs out there, but they sure show up as a spike in the charts. Since that day I have read more of Mary's work and I really like what I've read.

Time to hit the road...

Now at work...We have set the date for this years trip to the Blue Ridge. We are planning for the last two weeks in July. Sherry wants to finally do the Biltmore bit on our way up to the Valle Crucis/Boone area. So that'll call for a couple of days in the Asheville area.

I would like to make my way up to Floyd and meet the folks up that away. And Marie, we really need to try for that soda on the porch at the Mast or play some checkers by the stove...Or maybe just go wading in the river by the park and take some photos.

Well, it's the companies time now so I better get to earning my keep...Gotta pay for the trip somehow...

Saturday at the Office

This is the kind of day I am missing by being in the office right now. The shot above is from my Birthday Road Trip of a couple of weeks ago. The drive in today was just as clear and just as bright.

This morning brought the news that the power has returned to the Blue Ridge Mountains of VA with the return of David and Fred to the blogging fold.

Oh well it's time to get busy and take care of the things I came in to get done. Catch ya down the infoway.
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Think Small - New York Times

I got this from Gristmill... 

A wave of interest in such small dwellings — some to serve, like the Shepherds’ home, as temporary housing, others to become space-saving dwellings of a more permanent nature — has prompted designers and manufacturers to offer building plans, kits and factory-built houses to the growing number of small-thinking second-home shoppers. Seldom measuring much more than 500 square feet, the buildings offer sharp contrasts to the rambling houses that are commonplace as second homes.

This reduction of scale makes sense for a lot of people. Second homes are often geared toward outdoor activities, so for several months of the year interior space is superfluous. Minimal square footage means reduced maintenance costs, less upkeep and reduced energy consumption. Prefabricated and pre-built models can require little or no site preparation, which means no anxious weekend drives to the country to make sure construction is moving along. Add to this an element of instant gratification (once the planning stage is over, most houses go up in days, even hours, and many are delivered, turn-key, to the site).

Small homes have always intrigued me...Don't tell the wife. It's a good thing she never reads this blog. Way back in the '70s I remember designing homes with  a footprint of 20' square and a sleeping loft above. Looks like the world of design is catching up with my designs. Go read the article.

Source: Think Small - New York Times

TGIF - 2766th of my life

I guess this morning will pass as the coldest of this year (so far). I know that for all of you folks from further north on this old ball we call Earth, 30 degrees isn't that cold, but for this neck of the woods it ranks as "purty chilli", as they would say in Terlingua. Funny thing, they decided this would be a good day to have a luncheon and a meeting in the warehouse at work for today. Folks, this is SE Texas and they don't "climatize" our warehouse. Normally when it gets cold they fire up those large bullet shaped kerosene heaters that roar like a jet taking off. Since this meeting will involve power point presentations and speachifying by the powers, that can't be allowed. Gonna love it...

Aw well, back to my coffee and emails...

Garrison has been on a Mary Mackey run at the Writer's Almanac and judging by the examples he has put up I will have to check out the book...
Poem: "My Methodist Grandmother Said" by Mary Mackey, from Breaking the Fever: Poems.

My Methodist Grandmother Said

My Methodist
grandmother said
was adultery
set to music

how right she was

in that sweet sway
breast to breast and
leg to leg
sin comes into its own
If that excerpt raises your...interest go check out the rest here. Scroll down to Friday then bounce back up to Thursday for "Chicken Killing" from the same collection. Thanks Garrison, for the introduction.

Photo Friday - This week's Challenge: 'Self-Portrait 2007'...What better time for a self-portrait than your birthday. Mine can be found here.

Time to run...

Hump Day - Moving On

Is it cold where you are? For this part of the country at this time of the year, 39 is pretty cool. I see that Boone is hanging at freezing today and Floyd is expecting some snow this morning. Falling white stuff should give Fred First some fodder for his new blog, Nameless Creek.

Here we are on a day when more greeting cards are sold that any other, celebrating Love. I hope your Valentines Day is just "Lovely". For more on the day, check out the Writer's Almanac For Wednesday. You'll need to scroll down the page.

What do anise seed, avocados, basil, chili peppers, figs, garlic, ginger, honey, licorice, nutmeg, pine nuts, and tomatoes have in common? According to Robert L. Wolke they have all been considered aphrodisiacs at one time or another. If you are interested...emm...he has an article in the Washington Post - Lusty Appetites.

Reading the news this morning I was struck by a quote from an article on the house debate on the Iraq War. House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said about the resolution, that it is "a political charade lacking both the seriousness and the gravity of the issue that it's meant to represent". Damn, at last someone has actually come up with a description of the last few years of congress. It is almost funny how being out of power gives the Republicans such a clarity of sight into the issues they couldn't even see just a few short months ago. Rant over.

Well, it's time to take youngest daughter to school and hed for work...Catch you later.

Another voice: Revenge of the Chicks | - Houston Chronicle

This from The Boston Globe

In 2003, Dixie Chicks singer Natalie Maines told fans in London that she and her bandmates were ashamed that President Bush was from their home state. In response, Clear Channel Communications struck the group from play lists at its country radio stations.

The music-business insiders who gave the Dixie Chicks five Grammy Awards Sunday night — including three for their song Not Ready to Make Nice — aren't the same people who shunned the Texas trio four years back. But the Chicks' resurgence, coupled with other rumblings of discontent within the world of country music, shows how much the nation's mood has shifted since March 2003.

You know, I said then and I still say I agree Natalie. I told everyone I knew around the country in 1999 and 2000 that George W was a mistake. I guess the lesson I learned from this whole episode is that putting too many stations into the hands of too few lends itself to a shutting down of unpopular voices, especially voices unpopular with the people who control the mikes. This whole experiment in media consolidation has and is a major mistake that we may not recover from.

I watched the Grammy Awards on Sunday and even with the "Chicks" sweep, I was unimpressed with the show. For some reason I would think the "Music Industry" would at least get the sound right. For some reason about half of the performances seemed to be coming out of a well. I am not sure what they should do differently, but at least they should hire someone who can broadcast decent sounding and mixed music. After all, isn't that what it's all about?

Source: Another voice: Revenge of the Chicks | - Houston Chronicle

Tuesday Coffee Meditations

After days of overcast, I stepped out the back door this morning before first light and say the moon. After the initial shock wore off I glanced around and saw stars too...Amazing. I had almost forgotten what clear sky looks like.

This photo is what the Bluebonnets we Texans are so proud of each spring look like at this time of year. The little star shaped leaves scattered through the background clutter are the Bluebonnets. I don't have any good digital shots of what a field of Bluebonnets looks like so I guess you'll have to wait for spring and a trip to the northwest of here for me to capture a good one. One would almost think it was the shape of the leaf that led the Texas Legislature to designate the Bluebonnet the state flower of Texas

As the day lightens it is almost springlike outside. I sit here with the door open drinking my first cup and listening to some hawks playing noisily outside. I am not sure what has them riled up this early but something has them announcing to the world they are here. Not a common birdsong of the early morning. It probably arose from them being discovered by crows or mockingbirds, both of which will sometimes drive a hawk from a roost.

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Jim Hightower | MOLLY IVINS

Jim Hightower offers up another tribute to Molly Ivins... 

We progressives, we Americans – and anyone, anywhere who loves liberty and justice – have lost a true, trusted friend. Molly Ivins died recently.

Yet, Molly was more than a person. She is a spirit – a big, boisterous, joyful, irreverent, hell-raising, fun-loving, muckracking, uninhibited, maverick spirit.

As such, she lives.

I first encountered her in 1970, when she exploded from the pages of the Observer like a supernova. She was full of wit, smarts, and sass, grabbing readers by their hearts, minds, gonads, and funnybones. Damn, I thought, no human can write like that! She could knock you over and lift you up in the same sentence. It was her spirit coming at you.

Source: Jim Hightower | MOLLY IVINS

Follow the link to read the rest.

Monday Morning - Back to the grind...

Reading the emails this morning I see global warming is kicking in on the Blue Ridge Mountains. The forecast for my friends on both sides of the NC/VA line has temperatures in the 40's for the next day or so. I hope y'all don't get the type of weather we have had since Friday, totally overcast and dreary. So far we have been lucky with this batch of the drears since it hasn't brought three days of rain with it, 'though (knock on wood) they seem to be forecasting a slight chance of some rough weather for us today.

I don't know about any of the rest of you, but isn't it nice to get all of these mortgage approvals every day by email. It really ranks right up there with all of the drug adds. And that's on the unpublished email address. You ought to see what comes in on the published account...

I see from the Floyd County Blogs that culture is busting out in that area. House concerts are an idea that has intrigued me since I first heard of them many years ago. I remember looking into a web-site even then that explained the ins and outs and what to expect. I always thought they seemed like the ultimate way to hear good music. No competition with the drinkin' and talkin' going on in a club, more intimate than a concert. Just a few people sitting around in an intimate setting with the music. Reminds me of back in the day (many, many years ago) when I knew some folks who were in groups and we would set around the living room while one or two or more would just perform...I envy both Fred and David with their musical neighborhood. Google Search for House Concerts

The clock on the wall says I gotta run, so...Catch you down the road.

Beyond the Fields We Know

Somewhere to the south, there are wild orchids raising their heads and fields of grazing geese, but not here and certainly not for some time.

Reading the above line on Kerrdelune's blog brought back memories of this past weeks trip to the Wildlife Refuge. It wasn't the orchids, and the geese were not grazing anywhere around me. But the massive flights of honking geese that flew over my head for the better part of an hour were amazing. The photo below cannot do justice to the awesome sight of thousands of geese in the air at one time. Wave after V shaped wave passing over to the left and right. Coming from the southwestern horizon and vanishing to the northeast.

If you haven't visited at Beyond the Fields We Know take a minute and wander up there to the far north where winter did come...

Source: Beyond the Fields We Know

Chicken Hawks?

Leon Hale just posted a blog entry on hawks...Chicken Hawks Inside The Loop

A life-and-death bird drama is going on out there right now. Half a dozen pigeons are dipping and climbing and wheeling in a desperate way near our building . I've learned that this is how they behave when a hawk comes around. This time of year big hawks are fairly common inside the Loop.

I think the one I see most often is a red-tailed hawk, but I'm not certain. We've got a lot of hawks in Texas and I'm not wonderful at identifying them. In my early times in the country we called any big hawk a chicken hawk. (That term has evolved to have an interesting meaning in political discourse, as you'll see if you check out that link.)
If a hawk was big enough to swoop down and get a full grown Domineker hen, we said it was a chicken hawk.
Reading his post reminded me that I had taken some shots of a hawk in a tree down at the entry to the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge back before Christmas. I thought I had posted the photos on one of my blogs, but hey, I can't find them so maybe not. So just cause I was reminded here is a front and back shot of the same bird from Dec 22.

In trying to ID this hawk from my Peterson's Birds of Texas, the closest I can come is to guess it's a Red Shouldered though it bears some resemblance to a Swainson's. If someone can give me a positive ID it would be appreciated.

This fellow(?) was nice enough to sit for quite a while and let me snap away out the window of the car.

One of the things I really like about this part of Texas is that during the winter we get quite a few of the northern hawks visiting for a few months. Not that there is ever a time when we don't have numerous hawks and buzzards flying around. But during this time of the year, you'll see hawks setting in the tops of trees, on telephone poles, even on fence posts.

When we first moved to this place the field that is our backyard would get pretty grown up during the summer. At some point I had stuck a tree limb in the ground that stood up about 10 feet tall (3m for those from across the pond). Regularly we would look out to see a Red Tail sitting on the top of the limb. I am sure the field was a haven for mice and rabbits so he was just shopping for his supper.

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Dan Bricklin Log

It is always nice to stumble across a reference to someone you haven't thought about in a while. I don't know how long ago it was that I started reading Dan Bricklin's Log, nobody called them Blogs at that time though. Dan was one of the originators of the electronic spreadsheet and when I stumbled upon him back in the '90's he had written one of the early web publishing packages. While it was easy to use and made web publishing quick and relatively painless it jut didn't quite work for me. I still checked in on his (b)log regularly to keep up with what he was doing. At that time in my life I followed the tech side with great passion...Somewhere along the way the tech side took a less important focus in what I followed and I lost track of all of the early (b)logers I originally followed.

Here's Dan's latest...

Friday, February 9, 2007


Creating America draft chapters [link]


Chris Daly has a new website and blog that many of you will find of interest.

Readers who have followed my writing for many years may remember the name Chris Daly. Chris is my next door neighbor. For many years he worked as a journalist, including being the Washington Post New England correspondent and the AP Massachusetts State House Bureau Chief. He is currently a professor of journalism at Boston University where he has been teaching for about 10 years.

Source: Dan Bricklin Log

Frustrated New Orleans residents fleeing city

 It seems the worst is not yet here.

New Orleans is a city on a knife's edge.

A year and a half after Hurricane Katrina, an alarming number of residents are leaving or seriously thinking of getting out for good.

They have become fed up with the violence, the bureaucracy, the political finger-pointing, the sluggish rebuilding and the doubts about the safety of the levees.

With the shipping and petrochemical industries, New Orleans will never go completely away. The question is, will it ever recapture it's place in the eyes of the rest of America. I feel it is going to take many years for New Orleans to recapture any of the stature it once had. The rebuilding is going to be slow, and, for every year that it drags out, some of the New Orleans natives are being absorbed by other regions and other communities. Many of these people will never return, even when the rebuilding begins to ramp up.

Source: Frustrated New Orleans residents fleeing city | - Houston Chronicle

Friday Morning Muse

Once more through the mill then two days of running madly in place before facing the mill race again. Lord, don't you love the working families weekends? At least the Road Trip on Tuesday broke the routine of the week. A side benefit is it left me with a few weeks of photo's to post to my two sites.

My morning forecast looks like a repeat of yesterday...The Blue Ridge's are still hovering around freezing and here...Well, let's just say I opened the back door when I sat down with my coffee and so far I see no reason to close it. The thermometer on the wall says we have an outdoor temp of 57. I wonder where that cold front they promised for yesterday ended up stalling out. The story of Texas Coastal weather is always a unfulfilled promise of cold fronts lost on the north side of Houston.

I just love the way the Google Calendar sends me an email everyday to let me know that I have no events planned for the day. Kinda' makes you feel a little, I don't know, inadequate isn't quite the word I am looking for...You would think it would make me feel more Zen like, more living in the moment, but for some reason that's not the feeling it leaves. And yes, I know I could turn of the notifications, but sometimes I actually use the feature to send myself a note into the future.

I scanned the headlines fro the Post, Washington that is, and really can't see anything I want to take the time to rant about. Maybe something will get my dander up during the day...

Andy Griffin has a new article out on The Ladybug Letter on the "joys" of farming. Check it out, you might want to subscribe...

The clock on the wall is telling me to get up and move...Catch ya down the road.

Photo Friday - SKY

Sun Through Clouds

This patch of sunlight on an otherwise overcast landscape caused me to slam on my brakes and pull to the shoulder on my way home from my "Photo Road Trip". I pass this field several times a week driving home from work - It's on my de-stress route...Longer but saner.
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Flu causing some Texas schools to close | - Houston Chronicle

It's not the bird flue but it's already causing havoc...Is this what we have to look forward to in the near future? That appears to be what the CDC was telling us when they published their recent "Guidelines".

DALLAS — With flu widespread in Texas now, a handful of schools are reporting enough absences due to flu and other illnesses that they've decided to close.

Flu season in Texas generally runs from October to March, with February usually being the height of the season, said Emily Palmer, a spokeswoman with the Texas Department of State Health Services. She said that flu has been considered widespread in Texas since the week ending Jan. 27.

Source: Flu causing some Texas schools to close | - Houston Chronicle

Brazoria Wildlife Refuge Panarama

That's my silhouette standing on the observation platform on Tuesday. The day was beautiful, the wildlife was scarce. I had the place to myself. This is a full 360.
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Morning Light

You have to love a mid-winter morning that starts out with a temperature of 63 before the sun even starts to lighten the eastern horizon. I expect the sunrise will look pretty much like yesterday's pictured below.

I see from my morning forecast that the Blue Ridge's will be flirting with getting above freezing today. All you folks living on the mountains keep the fireplace going and stay warm.

I have been spending a bit of time over on the Grist site reading Tom Philpott’s take on the new Farm Bill. He makes some good points you might want to check out. This bill will affect every American who eats, so unless you've found a way to live without food you might want to get a piece of this conversation. I don't know about you, but my confidence in Coin-gress doing the right thing when it comes to big money contributors is always slim. Go read Tom's series and then follow the links...You might find yourself getting involved.

Check out this blog I just wandered across - eth•i•cu•re•an n. (also adj.) Someone who seeks out tasty things that are also sustainable, organic, local, and/or ethical — SOLE food, for short.

Time to hit the road for the day job...

Wednesday morning sunrise from my driveway...
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Birthday Deer

Yesterday, being as it was my birthday (and gorgeous to boot), I played hooky (legitimately) and took myself out on a Photo Road Trip. This shot is one of the results. There is a rural subdivision located about 25 miles from home that is a wildlife sanctuary. The buildup of this subdivision has been underway for about 20 years or so and it's still mostly open pasture with nice concrete roads wandering through it. Houses are still rare and far apart so the wildlife has the run of the place.

As I drove through yesterday there were at least five herds of twenty or more deer roaming around. This group was further away than most but offered the most picturesque setting.

All in all, as a road trip I was quite happy with the photo results. Of a bit over 100 shots I was happy enough with about 70 to add them to the mess I call my portfolio. I can see some time needed here to start putting these things in shape with keywords etc...I'll post more over the next few days both here and on my Photo Blog.

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Monday Morning Muse

As I sit here with my first cup of coffee going through the mornings emails I see that winter is sticking around a bit this time in the Blue Ridges. I guess with Phil calling for an early spring Mother Nature decided to give us some winter to appreciate it. I can't say winter is staying with us this past weekend, yesterday was nice and pleasant with sun and moderate temperatures. I think it probably went a little over 60 at some point during the day...As the day begins to lighten I see that the morning is starting out quite foggy. That should make for a fun ride into work this morning.

I see from Marie's post that there is more snow in Valle Crucis. Floyd County is in the deep freeze also with Fred looking for a sign of spring...And looking for an encouraging word. Stop on by and say hi!

Time to run I'll leave you with the following from last eve...

Last Nights Sunset

One of the original 13 oaks on our place here. We've added a few since we arrived a decade and a half ago...
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CDC Issues Guidelines For Battling Flu Pandemic -

We just went over this at work...I still think the lack of planning for travel restrictions shows a overly optimistic streak on the part of the CDC. If this goes pandemic the last place I would want to be is in the cabin of an airline with a few hundred unknown people from who knows where for an hour or three. And if it goes pandemic and still has the ability to be carried by birds... 

ATLANTA, Feb. 1 -- States should be prepared to keep children out of school for three months, businesses should be prepared to operate with skeleton workforces, children should be prepared to play mostly with their siblings, and parents should be prepared to lose income as they skip work and cobble together rickety child-care arrangements.

That was the picture sketched Thursday by federal officials in a guidance for communities on how to fight pandemic influenza in the months before a vaccine becomes available -- if one ever does.

The one thing I carried away from our session at work is it's time for the entire country to have a hurricane kit. Canned foods, water, medicines and fuel to cook and stay warm for weeks should the economy go into slowdown mode. Think Katrina only nationwide.

Right now the government thinking appears to be that outbreaks will be regional and it will be business as usual in other parts of the country while the affected region is quarantined. All I have to say about that is lots of luck. They can't keep millions of people from crossing the border and spreading out throughout the country now. What makes them think they will be able to do it under adverse conditions?

For me...I'll make the rudimentary plans add some stock into my hurricane/camping gear. Pick up a few more cans of vegetables and canned meats (and I hate spam).  And then I'll go on with my life. If this is coming, I can't do anything to stop it and worrying about it will just make me crazy. This doesn't mean I'll ostrich up, I'll follow they news and keep track of the latest "thinking" but I wont let it keep me from living life now...

Source: CDC Issues Guidelines For Battling Flu Pandemic -

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