Sleeping in on a Saturday morning

This old man was up later than usual last evening waiting to pick up the youngest from her job at the Taco emporium (Texas style fast food) so I really looked forward to sawing logs right on into the daylight hours. The plan might have had some semblance of working had there been any daylight. Instead, 'long 'bout half past 6 the band started warming up. You know the ones, they played at the Highland Games last year on Grandfather Mountain. They came from Scotland and they have an over abundance of percussion.

Boom ta da boom, boom boom ta da BOOM, BOOM BOOM BOOM...I loved the band but wasn't expecting a command performance outside my bedroom window.

Oh...That's not Albannach, that's thunder. Ok, Ok I give up, I'm up...

That was a couple of hours ago. As I sit here in my kitchen by the window we are experiencing a lull in the downpour. Good thing too, there is at least three inches of water over most of my yard and the ditch is full...

The view from the front porch...and the kitchen window

This is the same view from last week.

10 Reasons to Buy Local Food

 This list came from Julia and Andy's Website. I discovered them last year during the spinach and e coli problem. Andy wrote an article about why he took himself out of the packaged greens distribution network. I liked the way he wrote and signed up for their newsletter. These are headings from the list, if you are interested in the body of each topic, use the link at the end.

10 Reasons to Buy Local Food

  1. Locally grown food tastes better.
  2. Local produce is better for you.
  3. Local food preserves genetic diversity.
  4. Local food is GMO-free. 
  5. Local food supports local farm families.
  6. Local food builds community.
  7. Local food preserves open space.
  8. Local food keeps your taxes in check.
  9. Local food supports a clean environment and benefits wildlife.
  10. Local food is about the future.

©2001 Growing for Market. Permission to print and photocopy is granted.

Source: Ten Reasons to Buy Local Food

Sustainable Forestry?

 I have been following Fred's posts on sustainable forestry (links here and here)the past week or so, so when I say a link to the following on The Appalachian Voice Front Porch Blog it forced me to follow the Greensboro, North Carolina. Eric Schaefer wrote the story for the News & Record there.

"Why not selectively cut?" I asked, "That way you leave the canopy at least partially intact and preserve some of the integrity of the forest as well as its beauty. There is not too much uglier than a fresh clear-cut."
They explained to me that the problem was twofold: First, to a timber company, selective cutting means taking out the most desirable trees and leaving behind crooked trees or species that aren't marketable. If you go that route, what you're going to have left is a forest that is never going to produce marketable trees. Second, it is expensive and sometimes impossible to find someone to selectively cut.
Part of the job of the Forest Service is to produce forest management plans for private land owners, and Tate and Gibson told me they would gladly come up with any kind of plan the land owner wanted. If a land owner wanted forest that would be attractive to warblers and not cowbirds, woodpeckers and not starlings, trout lilies and not dandelions, they could do that, but if you want to have your land assessed as forest you have to have a timber production plan. And since they can't recommend selective cutting because of the consequences for the future timber production, you must clear-cut to get a forest assessment.
A forest assessment, similar to an agricultural assessment, means that the land in question is assessed differently than residential property and can mean big tax savings. If farmers were assessed the same as other land owners, many of them would go out of business. So to ensure we don't lose our farms, farmland is assessed differently and the same is true for forest land. However, you must be actively engaged in farming or forestry to get these assessments, and what that essentially means for forest land is periodic clear-cutting.

As you can read from the story, it's easier for the lumber companies therefore

  • the Forest Service won't recommend any other form of timber management.
  • without the Forest Service timber management you don't get a forest assessment.
  • without the forest assessment you don't get the lower tax rate.

What's wrong with this picture? Essentially, the Forest Service is forcing landowners to have their forest clearcut. Go read the article...From here it looks like another holdover from the turn of the past century is still making it easy to strip the resources off the earth... This whole story reinforces what the Healing Harvest Forest Foundation is trying to do.

To first take out the injured and dying trees, the introduced species making room for the more valued trees to grow. And doing it in a way that doesn't destroy what you leave is the very essence of sustainable. It just takes time and above all patience.

Source: - Greensboro, North Carolina: Sports: Clear-cutting question really isn't clear cut

TGIF - 2772

A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions. - Oliver Wendell Holmes..
I am sitting here looking at a blank screen and finding I have no ideas this morning. I have made my way through my emails and other than the White House slowly burning to the ground, nothing causes me to jump out here with a comment.

Random Reading Links

  • Marie has posted a new spring photo at Blue Ridge Blog.
  • Fred has been battling armies(?) of mice marching through the night at Fragments From Floyd
  • "The seed has no idea of being some particular plant, but it has its own form and is in perfect harmony with the ground, with its surroundings ... and there is no trouble. This is what we mean by 'naturalness'. " Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind from Beyond the Fields We Know
Check back later maybe I'll find my muse...

Spring brings thoughts of gardens...

"Perhaps the truth depends on a walk around the lake." - Wallace Stevens

Barbara Damrosch has a new column out. It seems to be timed to remind all the gardeners out there to start thinking tomatoes. Particularly the small pop'em in the mouth kind.

Cherry bombs, the exploding kind, must have been named after cherry tomatoes, the edible kind, which burst in your mouth with a charge of candy-sweet juices. Pop one in and another must follow, whether you're raiding the shopping bag in your car or gorging your way down a garden row. The outdoor route is pure luxury, when the little orbs are warmed by the sun, their vitamin C at magnum force.
I can remember a time not many years ago when I couldn't help but wonder at my lack of luck with these little ruby colored jewels of the garden. My plants were beautiful, flowered profusely, even set little green fruit in large numbers. For some reason though, there were never more than a handful of ripe tomatoes. Then one day I spotted youngest son in the garden by the cherry tomato plants, and as I watched he stripped all the ripe ones off the plant to eat right there in the garden. I quit wondering then and there and the next year I planted more plants...

Source: A Stalk on the Wild Side -

Reading Barbara's column led me back to her and Eliot's website
where I reread Eliot's "Authentic Food - Authentic Farming" article from The Mother Earth News.

The label "organic" has lost the fluidity it used to hold for the growers more concerned with quality than the bottom line, and consumers more concerned with nutrition than a static set of standards for labeling. "Authentic" is meant to be the flexible term "organic" once was. It identifies fresh foods produced by local growers who want to focus on what they are doing, instead of what they aren't doing. (The word authentic derives from the Greek authentes: one who does things for him or herself.)

Eliot goes on to lay out specific standards for the term "Authentic" to be used as a descriptive label for food products. He has spent a lot of time in the Organic movement and a lot of thought has gone into his standards. He closes the article with this statement...
"Authentic" growers are committed to supplying food that is fresh, ripe, clean, safe and nourishing. "Authentic" farms are genetically modified organism-free zones. I encourage all small growers with local markets who believe in exceptional food to use the word "Authentic" to mean "Beyond Organic." With a definition that stresses local, seller-grown and fresh, there is little likelihood that large-scale marketers can steal this concept.
Go spend some time with Eliot and Barbara, it'll be time well spent.
Source: "Authentic Food - Authentic Farming"

Dozens dead after Iraqi police go on killing spree | - Houston Chronicle

And we need to stay here why? When the police start killing people in revenge...

BAGHDAD — Shiite militants and police enraged by massive truck bombings in Tal Afar went on a revenge spree against Sunni residents in the northwestern town today, killing as many as 60 people, officials said.

The gunmen began roaming Sunni neighborhoods in the city, shooting at residents and homes, according to police and a local Sunni politician.

There is no law and order, there is only rage. The only thing we seem to have accomplished in Iraq is to release the pent up hate of generations and re-supplied the ammunition  needed to carry on a civil war that is rapidly degrading into un-civil genocide.

Source: Dozens dead after Iraqi police go on killing spree | - Houston Chronicle

Join Me For A Visit...

Today for lunch I joined a friend I’ve never met. We walked along a creek with no name under hemlocks in a valley I’ve never seen. We passed a barn I’ve only envisioned in painted light upon my screen. The sun I couldn’t see glistened on grasses in the field to dry the dew I did not feel. I wasn’t there, and yet I was, visiting with Fred on Goose Creek in the mountains of Floyd County.

I’ll go there again tomorrow for lunch as I revisit a “Slow Road Home”. Won’t you come along? We’ll visit Ann’s Falls, we’ll sit a spell under the white pines, we’ll wave at the neighbors from the front porch. We’ll while away the time as we discuss the important issues of the day, the bumblebees at play, and the hawks upon the wing. We can discuss anything at all as we visit there on the creek with no name along that “Slow Road Home”.

A visit to Fred thru a “Slow Road Home” always slows the day, sets the pace to another time, and takes you to another place. The place you’ve longed for since childhood, a place that brings back the memories of grandparents and more. A time when the constant companion was a single word…Why? Walk a while and listen to another’s whys, you may discover the child you left a long time ago, far, far away.

Where else can you feel free to laze in a summer rain, loll in an open field at night to watch the fireflies rise and stars fall, or chase spiders as they glide by? There is a maple on the cover that shelters a house that seems to have been there forever. The house is nestled up to the ridge like you shelter in the covers of a bed. How do I know this? I have seen this house thru the eyes of someone who loves it, and the tree, and the ridge and all it encompasses. You can see it too. Come walk the pages of Fred First’s “Slow Road Home”…You never know, we may meet along the road.

From Slow Road Home

Ray's Weather Center - Valle Crucis -

Since I didn't mention the weather earlier today, I found this bit of trivia interesting.

Boone set another record high Wednesday: 74 breaking the old record of 71 set in 1949. Today, valley locations should make it into the 70s once again. That will make it 6 days in a row with valley highs in the 70s. So yesterday, I asked, "Has that ever happened before?" So, over lunch yesterday, I went searching through the weather archives and here's the answer... "Yes, not not in a long, long time."
The details... In Boone, March 21-26, 1929 (highs of 70, 70, 70, 76, 80, and 70), is the only run of 6 days in the 70s in March ever recorded. However, weather records for Boone only go back to 1929; Banner Elk data goes back to 1907 and Jefferson data goes back to 1896. These older archives yielded remarkable warm spells in March. In Banner Elk, March 23-31, 1910 (highs of 70, 72, 72, 71, 74, 76, 76, 74, 71), was a run of 9 days above 70--the only run of 6+ days with highs above 70 in Banner Elk. Jefferson has had 3 periods of 6 or more days in March with highs of 70+. Here they are: March 24-31, 1945 (72, 74, 71, 73, 76, 75, 74, 71); March 16-21, 1927 (72, 77, 75, 73, 77, 72); March 22-31, 1910 (70, 77, 80, 78, 76, 78, 78, 81, 71, 76). Note that last one--10 days. I'll give you a test over this data tomorrow. :-)

Y'all have a great day...

Source: Ray's Weather Center - Valle Crucis -

Wants and Desires...

I empathize with the sentiment if not the actual want...

Costal Farmlet
"A man wants nothing so badly as a gooseberry farm."
I want a costal farmlet.
I desire it very much.
I saw it advertised
in the classifieds and I presume
that coastal means our land
comes right down
to the sea with the whitecaps
lashing romantically, and farmlet
means we can grow
gnarled trees on our headland
and let sheep roam. It is about cheap
enough for us if we borrow, beg
and steal, pawn a few poems, also write
a harlequin romance or two, and it's
only 9000 miles from the place
we call home. There's not much
of a hitch except the Immigration
would not let us stay in the country
to live in our farmlet. But still,
I want it and think we should go
look at it, right now, this moment,
while tangy sweet gooseberries glow.

"Costal Farmlet" by David Ray, from Music of Time: Selected and New Poems. © The Backwaters Press.

The farmlet in my wants resides on the side of a mountain not a sea and it's blueberries not gooseberries that call me there. But, other than those discrepancies, this poem could be mine, not by the writing but by the desiring...

Source:The Writer's Almanac for Wednesday, March 28th

Other links to David Ray:

Support The Troops?

With all of the rhetoric flying around Washington these days, with the President claiming that if you don't support the surge you don't support the troops, with Congress fighting over when to end the fighting (or if to end the fighting), is it any wonder that the American People are getting confused? I have been continuing my informal survey and so far I have run across all of three cars with those magnetic decorations of self proclaimed patriotism in the last week.

Now granted, this is an informal, casual, eyes open when I think about it survey of one commuting route. My interpretation of the results isn't a lack of support for the troops. My interpretation is, the American People have woken up to the trick being perpetrated upon them. These outward displays of hyperactive patriotism that really do not do anything to support the troops or prove your real ideals are just show. You really have to walk the talk. And the President is failing in the polls proportionate to the number of magnetic ribbons that aren't replaced on cars. Yet he still blusters and accuses others of not supporting the troops...He threatens but his actions are what America (and the World) watches. And by virtue of the fact that they "serve at the pleasure of the President", it is the actions of his surrogates that America watches.

The President has failed to walk the talk, all of the President's men have failed to walk the talk...And the American people have seen how they have been played for chumps. And guess what, they don't like being taken for fools. And as he runs up a debt that will take generations of hardworking Americans to pay off, he has the audacity to tell you and me how hard he "works". Well, Mr. President, your "hard work" has failed to move me from my position that you do not belong in our White House. You were not elected. Without 9/11 you would have been a one term mistake foisted upon us by a Supreme Court who overstepped their charter to appoint you. And from the look of the evidence, America woke up in November of 2006.

Mr. President, when are you going to wake up? We, the American People, can not afford for you to sleep much longer. Do you hear that rumble? It is the beginning of the alarm that is running through America at the failure of your Presidency...Mr. President, you don't want to be the "War President" that went to war with America. You sir, will lose...

Tuesday Coffee Muses - Week 2772

Ok, I know that everyone in NW North Carolina and SW Virginia are quite happy with the temperatures after this past winter...But (you knew there would be a but), what's this with it being just a 2 degree difference in the forecast high in Houston and Floyd. That ain't natural for this early in the year. They keep telling us we are in the above normal range here in Texas. What does that make these temperatures in the mountains?

Oh well, on with my mornings email stack...

I see that the story of the week just can't stop being the AG fiasco...
Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales's senior counselor yesterday refused to testify in the Senate about her involvement in the firings of eight U.S. attorneys, invoking her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
So now the fun starts. The first fall guy is starting to talk, the second is taking the 5th, what a way to end a government career. She is ending her government career...isn't she? Correct me if I'm wrong, she is a lawyer, right, she knows the implications of taking the 5th doesn't she?

Source: Aide to Gonzales Won't Testify - Washington Post

Don't you just love this paragraph from Dana Milbank?/p>

It was another milepost in the shriveling of a presidency. What began as "with us or against us" now must share time with "wood chips or switch grass." It was Bush's sixth alternative-fuel event this year -- and a seventh comes this morning when he inspects newfangled Postal Service vehicles.
You really have to think that gives the President warm fuzzies in the morning, or it would if he read the newspaper.

Source: Dana Milbank - Alternative Fuels Can't Help a President Who's Lost His Way -

Then there is this from E J Dionne...
But the president's refusal to acknowledge that the country has fundamentally changed its mind on the war makes it impossible for him to work with Congress on a sensible approach to a withdrawal that will happen some day -- with or without a constitutional showdown.
Source: E. J. Dionne Jr. - An Antiwar Tide on The Rise -

Are the wheels finally falling off this cart?

Enough about politics...I see the traffic spike from mahablog is still running high. Thanks for coming by, hope y'all find something to bring you back.

The morning commute is getting to be much more fun...They have now started rebuilding the bridge beside the office. What a mess...We now have a four lane road that always backed up during the rush hour shut down to two lanes for the next 3-4 months.

Observations From a Southern Commute...

An observation started to penetrate my thick skull last week. Because of this vague, nagging feeling I was missing something, I started this week a little more aware of my surroundings. It could be just coincidence, but you tell me what you've seen.

After Bush pushed the Iraq War down our throats I was decidedly cool on the way this country showed it's patriotic fervor. I mean, come on magnetic ribbons on your SUV, get real, where exactly is that showing even symbolic patriotism? But you couldn't get away from them. The majority of the vehicles on the road seemed to sport one or two or three. First they were yellow, then other colors started showing up. But over the last few weeks something has impinged upon my conscience, or rather, the absence of something has. It's those magnetic ribbons, I can only recall one vehicle with those "ultra" symbols of patriotic zeal on the freeways of Houston. Is this symptomatic of the rest of the country? Is it just the roads I drive or has that Bush symbol of belief been finally put to rest.

on another note, I know every time I come across one of those old oval stickers from the Bush 04 campaign I speed up to get a look at the driver. I always wonder at what reasons there are behind a person still supporting George W after everything that has happened in this country since that election...How about you? What do you think today about showing Bush support stickers on your car? And what does it say about a person who has a Bush 04 sticker on a 2006 or later car?

Monday Morning Muse

Traffic Report

Seems like I got noticed yesterday. While I went about my normal Sunday business (including playing Grandpa for a while in the afternoon) I had two or three normal weeks of traffic hit this blog in an afternoon. And it all happened thanks to George Will.

So thank you Mr Will, your post on the anger of the left-"Anger Iis All The Rage", well, it left me angry. My post in reply was spotted by The Mahablog. All I can say is thanks for the kind words and the referral. All traffic help is appreciated. Trust me when I say this, it wont be the last time I feel the need to blast back at George Will.


The uncommonly mild weather continues unabated across the south and up the east coast into the Blue Ridge Mountains. Looks like at this rate late July could rival our first vacation into North Carolina back in August 2003. As hot as that may be, it is nothing like the heat of a Texas summer. 'Though I am beginning to worry when the temps in Boone keep coming within spittin' distance of the temps in Houston in early March...

Well it's time to hit the road...Ya'll have a good day and a great week...

Stalking the Vegetannual | by Barbara Kingsolver | Orion Magazine March-April 2007

Fred First pointed a link at this article. Thanks Fred. The entire article is worth the read but I found the last paragraph very important... 

Locally grown is a denomination whose meaning is incorruptible. Sparing the transportation fuel, packaging, and unhealthy additives is a compelling part of the story. But the plot goes beyond that. Local food is a handshake deal in a community gathering place. It involves farmers with first names, who show up at the market week after week. It involves consumers who remember that to be human is to belong to a food chain, wherever and whenever we find ourselves alive. It means remembering the truest of all truths: we are what we eat. Stepping slowly backward out of a fuel-driven industry of highly transported foods will alter more than a person’s grocery list. Such small, stepwise changes in personal habits aren’t trivial. Ultimately, they will add up to the story of who we were on this planet: what it took to keep us alive, what we left behind.

Source: Stalking the Vegetannual | by Barbara Kingsolver | Orion Magazine March-April 2007

The View Out My Window

As I sit this morning at the laptop this is the view out the window beside me. As you can see from the image, the predominate color has to be called Spring Green.

Looking around my yard you will still find the Pecan Trees and the Hackberry Trees leafless. Even the Redbud Tree in the front yard is now showing leaves and not the flowers of last week.

If the weather continues like this the Bluebonnets should be putting on a great show next weekend. If the weather holds I try to get some shots from the road to Austin.

Sunday Funnies - I don't think so!

I am reading my emails this morning and when I saw the title of George Will's rant of the day, "Anger Is All The Rage", I could see where it was going. But, I really found the final paragraphs classic Will...forgive the rant on a Sunday morning

The politics of disdain -- e.g., Howard Dean's judgment that Republicans are "brain dead" and "a lot of them never made an honest living in their lives" -- derails politics by defining opponents as beyond the reach of reason. The anger directed at Bush today, like that directed at Clinton during his presidency, luxuriates in its own vehemence.

Today, many people preen about their anger as a badge of authenticity: I snarl, therefore I am. Such people make one's blood boil.

I am sorry George Will, but I take pride in my anger at George W Bush. It predates his run at the White House by a good number of years. It isn't partisan, I am an equal opportunity hater. My hate for George Bush goes back to the very first time I heard him insult my intelligence by trying to spin the past I knew into his own version of reality. As he has continued the spin, I have continued the hate. Call it a mutual dis-respect compact...I'll quit hating the man the minute he shows me enough respect to quit lying to me.

So George Will, if you think I do this for show you've missed over a decade of the show, because that's how long it has run...ever since Karl Rove spread his brand of political smear in Texas to get George W elected Governor. I found it hateful then and I find that same behavior hateful now. As the old saying goes...You reap what you sow. And if there has ever been a political party that deserves the harvest of it's own sowing it is the Republican's. Who but the Republican Party has run on issues that are nothing but hate...from gay marriage to flag burning, from school prayer to abortion the republican party of the past 15 years has done a memorable job of farming divisive, hateful issues. Let them continue to reap the harvest they have sown. Just don't try to blame the liberals for the taste of the crop...

Source: George F. Will - Anger Is All The Rage -

Globalization - Another Point of View

I was reading email withe the NewsHour playing on the TV on Friday night when I heard an interview that captured my total attention.
Going Global
As part of his ongoing series of conversations about globalization, Paul Solman talks with Indian activist Vandana Shiva.
It was the comments of Vandana Shiva that just blew me away. I found myself agreeing with a lot of her arguments. If you have a bit of time the interview is worth the listen. Podcast

I now find myself looking for more info on her writings.

She appears to be well published in Resurgence Magazine. Here are some quotes from Issue 240...
Both ecology and economics have emerged from the same root: oikos, the Greek word for ‘household’. As long as economics was focused on the household, it recognized and respected its basis in natural resources, the limits of ecological renewal. It was focused on providing for basic human needs within these limits. Economics based on the household was women-centered.

There are also three levels of economy: nature’s economy, people’s sustenance economy, and the market economy. Nature’s economy is the foundation of all economies because it supports all life on Earth. In nature’s economy the currency is life and processes that maintain life. Money cannot measure nature’s health and wellbeing.

I have witnessed again and again that as people’s resources are commoditized and people’s economies are commercialized, money flow does increase in society, but it is mainly outflow from nature and people to commercial interests and corporations.
Source: Resurgence Magazine Issue 240: How Weaalth Creates Poverty

For more of her writings on Resurgence try this LINK

A real look at spring in the Blue Ridge Mountains

Marie just posted a photo from her deck above Valle Crucis...go check out the look of early spring in the North Carolina mountains.

This was the view from my deck. As you see, there are no leaves on our trees up here. In fact, the sexy blush of spring is not yet visible upon the branches. But what you do not see are the sounds of approaching spring in my neck of the woods.

Source: Blue Ridge blog: A few minutes ago...

TGIF - 2771

From the Thursday paper... Is it just me, are is this really just a "duh" moment.
WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday that it would bar outside medical experts with a financial interest in a manufacturer from voting on advisory panels assessing whether drugs or other products made by that company are safe and effective.

The proposed restrictions — which would also apply to experts with ties to competing companies — would significantly strengthen the FDA's conflict-of-interest policy. One recent study suggests that more than one-fourth of FDA advisers may be prohibited from voting.

I mean...Really people, you just thought of this?

After six years of the Bush White House running the FDA, they have finally decided there may be an image problem. Come on, how many of you can relate to the phrase "like putting the fox to guarding the hen house"? Like almost every other branch of the Federal Government this administration has appointed industry proponents to oversee industry oversight. They have relaxed the rules and regulations or at very least the enforcement of the rules and regulations. Is there any wonder that the American People have lost confidence?

Source: FDA will bar experts with financial conflicts | - Houston Chronicle

It's time to check the mail...I'll be back if anything is interesting...enough.

Well, I see spring has returned with a vengeance to the Blue Ridge Mountains. The forecasted highs are in the 70's all the way up into Virginia. Ray says Boone may see a record high temperature for this day busted. The old high is 71, should be easy enough to break. Looks like our trip the end of July may be a bit warmer than usual. I sure am glad we are staying up high on the mountain. I am not even gonna talk about the weather here, suffice it to say we should see 80 today. Didn't someone say this was the first week of Spring?

This piece from the Washington Post pretty much explains what I see as the major problem with the Bush Administration...
The Bush political operatives have become the people the Republicans once warned the country against -- a club of insiders who seem to think that they're better than other folks. They are so contemptuous of government and the public servants who populate it that they have been unable to govern effectively. They are a smug, inward-looking elite that thinks it knows who the good guys are by the political labels they wear.

This contempt has been evident in many of the administration's failures.

From Iraq to Katrina with numerous other fiascoes in between. We will probably never know how much they have screwed up our government, but we will know this...It will be a long time before it's right again.

Source: David Ignatius - An Inside-the-Bushies Mentality -

A Photo Just 'cause

What happened to Spring?

Walked out the front door this morning an the warm, heavy, still air reminded me more of early summer than of spring. I am sure there are a lot of folks who would love the weather we are having already this spring (my wife included), but it is just reminding me that this past winter has been the warmest since we began to keep weather records. I am not comfortable when the temperature hits the 80's the humidity hits the 90% range and the wind doesn't blow...Not comfortable at all. I guess if the scientists are right though I better learn to cope.

I received the first volume of the Highroad Guides I ordered, the "Highroad Guide To The North Carolina Mountains" by Lynda McDaniel. I started reading it last evening after running my blogroll. The was a paragraph in the preface that I would like to share...
"Not until the town of Hickory do we catch sight of these mountains. Just around a curve in the road, they suddenly reshape the horizon and, for a moment, make our breath catch. They are beautiful, majestic, glorious, and for the lucky ones, home. Magically, once they are in sight, we seem to coast toward them, even though the journey courses uphill the rest of the way."
That passage brings back my first journey into these mountains I have come to love. I like to think it's just my ancestral memory pulling me home, but chances are it's those unfulfilled dreams of my young adulthood wanting to be recaptured and lived out.

I grew up a geology nut and a rockhound in a part of the country that has neither. As I walk the highroads of the North Carolina Mountains, all of these childhood curiosities come back to me...What is that flower? That rock? That tree looks like a pecan, is it a hickory? Every step bring new questions. The easiest way to recapture a portion of your youth is to remove yourself from the familiar.

One of the things that drives my family to distraction when we vacation in these mountains is my constant driving to explore. I want to "know" the area, drive the backroads, see the old farms, smell the woods along the creeks, stand on the tops of the balds. I have a need to hold all of these mountains in my mind. To feel the aged glory of the oldest geology in the US. That is what keeps me returning, even on a short trip in the middle of the work day via the virtual reality of Google Earth. The pull of the squiggly lines on the topographical map, the need to stand and let the eye caress the reality represented in the mapmakers art. The unfamiliar wildlife mixed with the familiar, the unfamiliar flora, all of these things call me back...Call me home.

Email calls...

From the Washington news yeaterday...
"One of the leading scientific experts said the consensus supporting this view on global warming is as strong as anything in science -- with the possible exception of gravity."
Al Gore at Senate Hearings on Global Warming

Barbara Damrosch has a new column out that raises hope for the future of the family farm.`
But a significant number of farmers are now getting back in by remaining small -- even tiny. In his book "MetroFarm," radio host Michael Olson details the growing phenomenon of cities ringed with mini-farms, sustained by the proximity of specialty markets. It's an industry made up of many small niches, in which anything that sets a product apart from the uniformity of big-store fare is sought after and fetches a higher price. Your corner of the market might be an ethnic specialty such as Asian greens. It might be crops that chefs love, such as celeriac and mache. It might be artisanal cheese or fresh eggs with bright-orange, stand-up yolks. It might be cold-weather crops, seasonally grown. Or it might just be the freshness and flavor of food grown closer to home and with more care. The experience of shopping is often part of the product, too. A family or community atmosphere adds value to what's for sale.

Source: 'Bumpkins' Grow Their Own Bliss - The Washington Post

Spring - The first full day.

"In pursuit of happiness, the difficulty lies in knowing when you have caught up."
R.H. Grenville

I feel the need for a change of pace on this Wednesday morning.

For many years I tried to develop a habit of journaling and could never carry it through for more than a week or three. I tried morning pages from the "Artist's Way" book, but again, I could or would only make it through a few weeks before dropping it. I have always felt a need but never strong enough to develop the necessary habits. If you look at my profile you will find that it says I have been on Blogger since April of 2001 but I've only had a little over 200 profile views. I guess that would make me somewhat of an old timer at blogging, but I feel like a total newby. I do not know how many different times I have tried to start a blog only to give up when the habit didn't take hold. From the looks of this try though, I may have continued long enough to actually have set the habit.

I see that Julia Cameron has a website up for "The Artist's Way at Work". Looks like a new place to explore. There is also an "Artist's Way" Community at another site.

My time this morning is growing short, so I need to hit the emails...
  • What a difference a day makes...Blue Ridge Mountain temps are back down in the low 40's this morning
  • There seems to be an upside for the White House to the AG Scandal...We aren't still hearing about the scandalous treatment of the wounded veterans or Plamegate or Katrina or any of the hundreds of other fiascoes hosted upon America by this Administration.
  • 'Tis the first (full) day of spring...Go see Garrison about what that means in Poetry.
  • Wandering through the log of visitors to this site is always a lot of fun. It never takes a lot of time, few visitors each day. I am always surprised there are as many as there are. What always intrigues me though is the geographical data. Why did someone visit from China? Was it random?
Kate at Cider Press Hill introduced me to an old concept that is newly named for me but well practiced for years... Commonplace Books. What a glorious name for a concept that's inherit with the way my brain works. I have always kept notebooks, both paper and electronic, full of quotes and other bits and pieces of trivia pasted and copied onto the pages. To think, I have been creating Commonplace Books for years. Now that I know that this is an accepted self-publishing form of book-making, I will practice it with more respect for the tradition.

Along those lines, this quote was posted as appearing on a bumper sticker without the attribution. I find it fits well with my philosophy of life and personal mythology.
“Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
George Bernard Shaw

Tuesday Coffee Muses - Week 2771

The Mornings Weather

I see from the morning forecast that Spring has returned to the Blue Ridge Mountains. As a matter of fact, judging by the temperatures being reported this morning, many of you folks living in that beautiful part of the world might walk out this morning and think you slept through the season. Just don't think you'll get to enjoy the sun with the milder temps...Mother Nature seem to think the blooming flowers need a little watering. According to Ray though, all you folks need to enjoy the warmth today tomorrow will be cooler.

Here, we are already in the upper 60's. According to the weather prognosticator I listened to yesterday on our local Public Radio Station, that is 10 degrees above normal for this time of the year. I forget how many time in the last few years I have heard that term used. If the weather keeps doing what it is now, we may need to lose that phrase from our weather conversations.

Email Muses

Reading about the President's remarks on the fourth anniversary of the Iraq War I was struck by the thought that we have now been in Iraq for full Presidential term. The reason this struck me is that had Bush started this war a little earlier in his first term, and given what we now know, he could have with the very same justification they have now settled on, he probably wouldn't still be in office. "Courage and resolve" will see us through. Mr. President, it is with courage and resolve that the American people wake up every morning to find out what new excesses you have committed in the name of "terror". Sadly, your war "on" terror has morphed into a war "of" terror for many around the world. "Courage and resolve", who are you Mr. President to counsel such practices.

From the Blue Mountain Meditation Center...
March 20

He that can have patience, can have what he will.
– Benjamin Franklin

Here is a tip for keeping the palate on the middle path. When it is craving candy or a hot fudge sundae, go for a walk repeating the mantram you have chosen, and bargain for time. Tell your mind, “In two hours, on our way home we can go to an ice cream parlor for a deluxe sundae.” Interestingly enough, two hours later the mind has forgotten ice cream sundaes and is thinking about the movie it will enjoy tomorrow evening. All you need do is put just a little break of time between the palate and its desire, for you can count on the mind to change its desires.

Treat the mind gently, patiently, and compassionately. Since it has been allowed free license for so many years, it is not fair to expect it to come round in a day or two.

- Eknath Easwaran

I have not discovered my mantram yet. But I go through live with an open heart waiting to discover it's path.

Source: Thought for the Day

Well, as usual the morning has run and I need to also. I'll leave you with a couple of lines from the Middlewesterner from yesterday...

A Quote For Today

"There is something to settling down into a place. You become the place as much as the place becomes a part of you." - Tom Montag

Monday Morning - Back to work...

Monday Morning Weather - From the sound of the wind chimes outside the kitchen door, it's a bit on the breezy side this morning. With the temperature already in the mid 60's though, that's a good thing. Since all of you folks that seem to read this are still in the throes of old man winter, I'll contain my pleasure at the spring feel that is in the air.

On the downside of all of this nice wet, warm spring weather we've been having, I had to fire up the lawn tractor and make my first pass of the season over this collection of weeds we call a lawn. I have never been a member of the "Home & Garden" or the "House Beautiful" set of suburban lawncare slaves. I don't get too upset about the assorted non-domesticated greenery that chooses to grace my yard. As a matter of fact, I have always felt if it's green and will grow here without being pampered, who am I to argue with Mother Nature. I don't believe in watering or fertilizing or poisons or herbicides. So for 2-3 hours yesterday I rode the Deere around this little homestead of ours. Not so much mowing the grass as evening up the height of the weeds.

Email Musing

The AG Scandal just keeps on going...
One of the U.S. attorneys fired by the Bush administration after Republican complaints that he neglected to prosecute voter fraud had been heralded for his expertise in that area by the Justice Department, which twice selected him to train other federal prosecutors to pursue election crimes.

Is there anyone in this Administration who doesn't see what these stories are doing to what is left of their reputation? Given the effect of the 9/11 tragedy on the first term of the Bush Presidency, and the way it stopped the original nosedive in his popularity and support, you almost have to wonder if they didn't need something like 9/11 just to stay in office.

Source: Justice Dept. Recognized Prosecutor's Work on Election Fraud Before His Firing -

Then we have this story from last week.
A national survey showing that a soaring number of homeowners failed to make their mortgage payments in the last quarter of 2006 rattled lawmakers in Washington and the markets in New York yesterday, as the Dow Jones industrial average plummeted 2 percent, or nearly 243 points.

The report, which sent every major stock market indicator tumbling when it was released at noon, revealed that the problems in the market for "subprime" mortgages -- loans made to home buyers with blemished credit histories -- might be spilling over to the broader mortgage industry, analysts said.

And "they" wonder why the American people don't seem to be as confident in the country's economy as the heads of the companies that are "crapping out". Yet, I'll bet the heads of these companies ended up with a bundle.

Source: Mortgage Report Rattles Markets -

Work calls...Stay safe, be happy, catch you latter.

A Sunday in Early Spring

Weather - Again I sit here listening to the avian chorus. The predominate notes coming from Redbirds this morning. An occasional percussive note being introduced by a woodpecker here and there. I am waiting for the mockingbird (speak of the devil), there's one now. I am beginning to hear crows and hawks in the distance. The sun hasn't broken through the overcast yet, but we are setting on 60 already at 8:30am (I slept in this morning). I see it's still winter on the the Blue Ridge and points north.

From the weeks forecast on "Sunday Morning" all you folks in the northern tier of states need to hang onto the winter coats...Looks like another batch of winter heading south out of Canada at the end of the week.

Reading Links -

Sherpa Guides

After a few years of using the Sherpa Guides "Longstreet Highroad Series" of guides to the Mountains of Appalachia On-Line, I broke down and ordered paper copies last week of the Virginia, Tennessee and, of course, North Carolina Mountain Guides. I actually found them all on Amazon in their used books. The description from their site reads:
Sherpa Guides showcases an online collection of guidebooks produced by Lenz Design. Visitors to this Web site will find a wide range of information on historic resources, outdoor activities, and even lodging and restaurants. When the site is finished, there will be more than 3 million words, 1,000 maps, 1,000 illustrations, and much more.
From the North Carolina Mountains volume online is this excerpt about the Blue Ridge Parkway in far northwest North Carolina...
The Blue Ridge Parkway in the Grandfather Mountains

It could never happen today—469 miles of concrete coursing through mountainous wilderness, across two states, six congressional districts, 29 counties, 181 miles of national forests, and 11 miles of the Qualla Boundary Cherokee Indian Reservation. Today, red tape and paperwork would bury the project before the first shovel broke the ground.

But when plans for the Blue Ridge Parkway took shape, times were hard. It was the Great Depression, and people needed work. Although the idea for a road through the southern Appalachians had been around as long as the automobile, the Great Depression gave it new purpose. The National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933 ordered the Public Works Administration (PWA) to develop a program involving the construction, maintenance, and improvement of public highways and parkways. During that same year, President Franklin D. Roosevelt visited the Skyline Drive, a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) project in Virginia's Shenandoah National Park. When presented plans for a similar road connecting Shenandoah with the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Roosevelt agreed. Later that year, Congress allocated $16.6 million for the project, and on September 11, 1935, officials broke ground on a 12-mile section at Cumberland Knob, just south of the Virginia/North Carolina border. The Blue Ridge Parkway was under way.

For what it's worth I highly recommend you spend some time exploring the areas covered by these books, virtually before you explore them in life.

Photography - I have been posting a few photo's of our NC vacations over at my Photoblog. I am very proud of some of these shots. Please take a moment and swing over...Here is a picture from the archive.

Brinegar Cabin


A cool, misty, rainy day on the Blue Ridge of North Carolina...a sturdy log cabin for shelter...a warm fire in the firepace. There's a garden out back, planted with the seeds we saved from last year. There is a springhouse down below with milk from the cow fresh this very morning. The cow and her calf are in the pen out by the barn. Chickens and pigs or turning and scratching the fall garden plot. there is fresh butter being churned by the door. Momma is working on grannies loom, cloth for new clothes for the commin' winter. The dogs are resting under the porch awaiting the next hunting trip into the woods up the hollow...Life is hard here on the Blue Ridge but really...what more could a family ask for?

An original log home, built by Martin Brinegar (1856-1925) about 1880. He lived here until his death. His wife Caroline Joines Brinegar (1863-1943) lived here until the property was purchased by the government in the 1930's. Both are buried in a tiny cemetery on a sunny knoll near the parkway.

Location. Blue Ridge Parkway MP 238.5

June 03, 2006
This post has had more hits than any other on any of my pages.

A Quote for the Day
- “If I had my life to live over, I would start barefoot earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall. I would go to more dances. I would ride more merry-go-rounds. I would pick more daisies.” ~ Nadine Stair

Spring Again...Happy St. Pat's Day

Weekend Weather - As I sit here this morning with the door open and birdsong on the "soundtrack", it is cool and blue. Fifty-three degrees and one of those after the cold front blue skies that only happen in the cooler few months of the year. It promises to be a beautiful day.

Driving home from work on Friday I was enthralled with the spring green color of the environment around me. It seems that almost every tree and shrub is now showing at least some color. And the color of the light in the mornings and the evenings is so complementary to this shade of green.

Coffee Muses on a Saturday Morning - I see the morning news is still all abuzz about the AG and the firings. At the rate things are going the Congress isn't gonna be passing many laws with all of the scandalous doings of the administration.

I've been playing around today with the GTD Inbox for Gmail Firefox addon. As an old timer when it comes to GTD, I discovered David Allen back a decade ago, I am happy to see someone manage to port the methodology to Gmail.

Politics - Is it just me, or is David Brooks making even less sense than usual as he tries to let the White House off the hook? It has gotten embarrassing to watch him squirm around trying to spin the news on a daily basis. To think the best he can do on most things is call it "ancient history". Which, I guess, means that since no one could investigate anything with the old congress, the Bush administration now deserves a get out of jail free card for everything that hs happened in the past two - three - four, I don't know David, do we just give everyone in this administration a retroactive pardon? Jeez, get real. If laws were broken it's time for someone to pay the piper.

Quote for Today -

Reading Fragments From Floyd on Friday I followed Fred's link to his new "Fieldnotes from Nameless Creek: a Photographic Excursion" where I read the following. I felt compelled to put it here.

Go slowly in nature and stop often. Look for the particulars. Take notes and draw sketches. Learn a dozen trees and recognize them in leaf, fruit and branch in every season. Learn a dozen wildflowers from spring, from summer and from autumn. And rekindle curiosity and wonder. Each insect or flower holds its own mystery and unique design. Be able to name a dozen birds, first by sight, then by their call alone. Know some salamanders-while they last-and a few dragonflies and even some common spiders and snakes.
Source: Fragments From Floyd:September 2005 Archives

TGIF - Week 2770

Photo Friday - Heat

Taken in the desert outside of Las Vegas. Hot it is.

Weather Report - Yesterday ended very clear and seasonably warm(?). The temperature ended up around 76 by the time I got home from work. Even as the sun set, water still stands from all the rain we had in the past 4 days. Last night when I went out to pickup the youngest from work it was threatening fog, which has been in the forecast for both yesterday and today. Looking out our kitchen window, I would say the fog was just a threat here anyway.

Checking the morning email forecast I see the rains we had for the first part of the week have made it to the Blue Ridge. And the storm Kate at Cider Press Hill has been talking about, well they are forecasting snow this morning on Long Island.

Old Houses - This old house we call home amazes me on occasion. It is probably the most solid house I have ever been in. All of the walls, the ceilings and the floors are constructed with real 2x4's and sheathed in 1" solid lumber before being clad in paneling on the interior and siding on the exterior. The only house I have ever seen that had more lumber in the walls is the Fulton Mansion we visited last fall. There they nails 2x6's horizontally on top of each other while offsetting each layer by 1 inch or so. This was then plastered over.

This old house didn't start out with electricity. Up in the attic you can still see some of the original electrical wires, uninsulated and wrapped around insulators just like the telephone poles running down the road. Amazing. The electrical system in this house has been added to many times over the years. There are three circuit boxes out at the service entrance, one of which feed the original breaker box here in the house. Just two circuits, and they still run most of the electronics we use on a daily basis. The original owners would be amazed at some of the electrical items we are running here. My youngest son just set up one of those electronic drum kits in his room. Every room except the master bedroom has a TV with a DVD player at least. Computers, we have three desktops and a laptop running these days.

You really have to wonder about the conveniences of modern life.

Morning Email Muses -

The Ladybug letter #312 arrived this morning. If you have a few minutes wander over and read the beginning of Andy's bio - "Kisses From A Rodeo Queen". If the opening paragraph doesn't grab your interest pass on by...

I was born at the tail end of the fifties, and if it’s true that we are what we eat, I didn’t stay pure for long. My parents were students, and we lived in an unremarkable apartment building in Berkeley. One night a neighbor hosted a cocktail party. The next morning my mother helped her friend clean up while I crawled around on the floor. When mom caught up with me I was eating cigarette butts and washing them back with the dregs of yesterday’s martinis. Quite by coincidence, we were visited that afternoon by a couple of dry old ladies from the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. They asked my mother to pledge that she would never her precious baby’s lips touch demon alcohol. Too late.
I stumbled onto Andy and Julia when I read one of Andy's essays after the Spinach ecoli misadventure and liked the way he writes. I also like the attitude he and Julia bring to their vegetable raising enterprise.

Source: Kisses From A Rodeo Queen—A Short Biography at The Ladybug Letter

A Quote for Today -

From the sublime to the ridiculous is but a step. ~ Napoleon Bonaparte

Thursday Daybreak

Weather Report - In a word...Quite. I left work yesterday a bit early to make my way home between lines of heavy thunderstorms. I managed to get from one place to the other without getting wet going to and from the car. Had I been just minutes slower at either end of the journey it would have been a "hole nuther story". Today’s forecast is for partly sunny and 73. What a change a bit of sun will be after the past week.

It looks like the rain we've been having is beginning to make its way to the Blue Ridge today. I hope you all don't see the crazy downpours we have had.

Coffee Muses - Last night while the news was playing, both my wife and my mother-in-law commented on the AG controversy. They have only begun hearing about it as the story makes its way into the main stream media (MSM). Both were surprised though to hear that there was a political side to the story. I guess you have to give credit to the White House media operation for managing to spin the story their way in the MSM. While those of us who don't pay a lot of attention to the MSM have one understanding of the story, the majority of Americans only get their snippets of news spoon-fed to them by the talking heads that tend to all repeat the standard line. This is another story where the administration felt they could lie and get away with it...My, how times have changed.

The talking head the White House rolled out to rebut criticism last evening on The News Hour had better watch his talking points. He stated that the reason for the change in the way AG's were appointed was an effort to stop Judges from making political appointments. He said they were just trying to ensure the separation of powers as laid out in the constitution. His comment was along the lines that "we don't want the judicial branch appointing members of the executive branch". Would somebody kick this fool. Does he realize how stupid that sounds coming from the only executive branch appointed in it's entirety by the Supreme Court (which, in case he hasn't noticed, is THE Judicial Branch). Either this administration lacks a memory or they think the rest of us do...

I see George W made it back north of the border before the fence could be built...That would be about the only good I could see for this fence they want to build.

A Quote for Today -
How did it come to be that what we call the news is reported solely by journalists? There are so many other kinds of events besides the narrow band favored by that highly specialized brand of storytellers. Indeed, there are many phenomena that can literally not even be perceived by journalists. Their training, their temperament, and their ambitions make vast areas of human experience invisible to them.

"Ninety-six percent of the cosmos puzzles astronomers." I loved reading that headline on the CNN website. It showed that our culture's equivalents of high priests, the scientists, are humble enough to acknowledge that the universe is made mostly of stuff they can't even detect, let alone study.

If only the journalists were equally modest. Since they're not, we'll say it: The majority of everything that happens on this planet is invisible to them.
Source: "PRONOIA IS THE ANTIDOTE FOR PARANOIA: How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings" by Rob Brezsny

The Thunder Rolls

Pardon me for borrowing the lyric Garth.

Weather Report Last night it rolled...Over and over again. Distant thunder, thunder overhead, I think I even heard thunder rolling out from under the bed. It really wasn't the loud thunder of the other day, but it seemed much more continuous. Then again, maybe I was just dreaming. Anyway the day is starting wet again. At least this day isn't socked in like yesterday.

The fog was so thick yesterday it reminded me of my first drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway south of Blowing Rock in the spring of 2000. When I hit that road I couldn't see 30ft in front of me. I want you to know that was a long drive to the next highway down the 'way. I figured that was the end of my mountain getaway because they were predicting more of the same the next day. Since I only had two free days, it looked like a loss. But the next day dawned clear and sunny, so I made the effort and it's been love ever since.

Political Truths Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales finally speaks a greater truth. "I acknowledge that mistakes were made here."

Sadly, the real mistake was made six years ago when the Supreme Court decided to play king maker. Now we all pay for that mistake.

Playing On The 'Puter - Patti Smith at CBGB's, New York, NY - 08/11/1979 from Wolfgang's Vault.

A Quote For Today "We're all in this together - by ourselves." Lily Tomlin

The clocks run away from me again...gotta run myself. Later

Tuesday Coffee Muses

Weather Report It's much quieter this morning even though the weather prognosticators keep warning us that the chance of thunderstorms continues. The temperatures are decidedly springlike. I see from the morning email that the BR mountains are starting of cold but warming up nicely. Welcome to the start of spring everyone.

Zilker Garden Festival I exchanged emails with Felder Rushing yesterday. He will be in Austin, Tx on the March 31 and April 1. Looks like Dr. Dirt will be taking the road trip with him. His Sunday talk will be his "Slow Gardening" bit I read an posted about a while back. If I can I think I'll take the wife and run over for the show. Killing two birds, it should be a good weekend for wildflowers on the hills toward Austin.

Looks like my email ran long this morn...I gotta go, I'll try to post more later...

The Middlewesterner

This paragraph from Tom Montag really hit me between the eyes. I have been having the same thoughts pretty regular these days as I look in the mirror of a morning. It's not that I look that much like dad...But their is enough of a resemblance to cause me to remember bits and pieces.

A fellow starts out to become his own man. He wants so much to be his own man, to make his own way in the world, to become his own unique self. The longer I watched my father in the hospital bed, the more that we talked, the more I recognized I was seeing myself there, my own future self. My father has shaped me indelibly. I am not complaining, I've been marked by a good man. It's just surprising to see how little of me there is in the world, and how much I take from my father, from my family, from the land, the world I come from. Nature or nurture? Ultimately it doesn't matter exactly how it gets stirred; we seldom end up very far from where we began.

Unlike Tom, we said goodbye to my dad going on 11 years ago. I guess I too was marked by a good man. Thanks Tom, for the words I couldn't have said but can feel way to well.

Source: The Middlewesterner

News Story?

You sometimes have to wonder at the way the world turns...Where will George and Dick be retiring?

Halliburton Co. surprised the energy world, members of Congress and the city of Houston on Sunday by announcing it will open a new corporate headquarters in the United Arab Emirates and relocate its chief executive officer there.

Source: Halliburton says Dubai move won't cut Houston jobs | - Houston Chronicle

Monday Morning Thunder

Weather Report: Loud

As I was in the shower this morning I started to hear the distant rumble. By the time my morning routine had carried me to the kitchen for the first cup, the thunder-boomers were almost constant. The light show outside the kitchen window is quite impressive.
Welcome to Spring Break all you little darlings...Judging by the weather forecast I looked at last night, most of this week will be stormy...Comfortably mild, but wet.

Oh well, let's see what the email gremlins brought in the night before this little summer storm out of season decides to kill the power...

Health Note - Why is America Fat

As someone who has battled weight problems ever since I was hospitalized with paricarditis in 1997. This article from the Washington Post this morning touches on something that has been peculating through my thoughts for a while, environmental causes of obesity. I have been following the arguments about the fattening of America for the last decade with a personal interest. My weight problems started with high dose steroids and have progressed over the last ten years. living on salads and walking for a couple of hours an evening did nothing to stem the rise in pounds. Following the American Heart Associations diet of low fat high carb menus was the absolute wrong thing to do. Adkins worked for a while but never to the point I was trying to reach, and it really didn't "seem" healthy to me. Moderation seem to manage to keep the weight from going higher but doesn't seem to stop the rise.

To find out that the chemicals "we" are putting into everything we use are changing the hormonal balances within the body and changing the very nature of our fat cells themselves is troubling to say the least. I was beginning to suspect the growth hormones given to our beef cattle. They probably are a contributing factor. But add the chemicals in your water bottle and your food storage dish...
Too many calories and too little exercise are undeniably the major factors contributing to the obesity epidemic, but several recent animal studies suggest that environmental exposure to widely used chemicals may also help make people fat.

The evidence is preliminary, but a number of researchers are pursuing indications that the chemicals, which have been shown to cause abnormal changes in animals' sexual development, can also trigger fat-cell activity -- a process scientists call adipogenesis.

Go read the rest of the article. Maybe we can stop this before we kill ourselves...

Source: Chemicals May Play Role in Rise in Obesity -

Well it's late and raining and I've got a ways to go to get to work...

Sunday Morning - Sprung Forward

Springing Forward Into Daylight Saving : All of the clocks were set before bed last night with the exception of the weather clock. That thing is going to be a problem. I can not update the software so it will have to be set forward, I doubt it will take. It will just reset itself every time it communicates with the "atomic clock" until it's software tells it that daylight savings time starts in 3 weeks.

Weather report : Doors and windows are wide so we are listening to the morning chorus outside. The fog is thicker than yesterday morning, but clearing. The temperature is in the upper 50's outdoors; upper 60's inside. From my way of thinking, that is the perfect temperature to start the day. Cool enough to feel but warm enough to be comfortable when dressed. The prognosticators are calling for rain in the next couple of days, that's sure to play havoc with the Spring Break around here.

Vitamins and Death :
Last week I posted on the report about vitamins causing your death. I said then I wanted to see who paid for the study. After reading the health column in this weeks US News and World Reports, I find that interest in the funder of the report even higher. Dr. Healy's explanation of how the report was arrived at leaves more questions of why this report made such a splash in the news and who was pushing the studies findings to the press.
Vitamin studies always seem to stir controversy, but certainly not visions of death. On that score, last week's report on antioxidant vitamins, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, was a doozy. The researchers concluded that people taking the antioxidants vitamins A, its precursor beta carotene, and vitamin E, for whatever reason, at whatever dose, and for however long, may be putting their lives in jeopardy. But before you toss out your vitamin pills, let's examine this alarmist study a little bit closer.

Researchers from Copenhagen University Hospital set out to determine whether the antioxidant supplements lengthen one's life. That's difficult to answer, since most people taking vitamins are healthy. So the researchers identified antioxidant clinical trials large and small, as long as they reported at least one death. Any death counted, whether from heart disease or cancer, kidney failure or hip fractures, murders or suicides. Out of 747 antioxidant trials reviewed, 68 met the bill. Then, in what is called a meta-analysis, the 68 trials were combined into what is effectively one study.

It's a hell of a way to come to a conclusion, throw away the results that don't agree with your proposal. Have these guys been taking lessons from the Bush Administration and their backers in the Oil Industry? Anywho, I guess that for myself, I'll continue to take my vitamins (when I remember) and worry about them killing me, not.

Source: Bernadine Healy, M.D.: A Closer Look at the Vitamin Study

History Lesson for Today : From Garrison this morning we get a history lesson, that touches the news stories from the past year or so. The more you read about the recent discoveries being made in the study of the 1918 influenza pandemic, the scarier this whole pandemic thing becomes. National Geographic had a good article a couple of months ago, Tracking the Next Killer Flu. After reading the CDC's recommendations on what
It was on this day in 1918 that the first cases of what would become the influenza pandemic were reported in the U.S. when 107 soldiers got sick at Fort Riley, Kansas.It was the worst pandemic in world history. The flu that year killed only 2.5 percent of its victims, but more than a fifth of the world's entire population caught it, and so it's estimated that between 50 million and 100 million people died in just a few months.

Historians believe at least 500,000 people died in the United States alone. That's more than the number of Americans killed in combat in all the wars of the 20th century combined. Usually, the flu would have been most likely to kill babies and the elderly, but the flu of 1918 somehow targeted healthy people in their 20s and 30s. And it was an extremely virulent strain. In the worst cases, victims' skin would turn dark red, and their feet would turn black.

Source: The Writer's Almanac from American Public Media

Yesterday's Drive in the Country

The youngest and I went for an afternoon drive so she could practice. I took along the camera. We stopped at an old windmill to take some photo's. As I was headed back to the car I glanced across the road I spotted a bright yellow spot on top of a bush in the pasture next to the road. When I put the camera to it I saw it was a bird. Now I am going to show how much of a neophyte I am when I say I did not recognize what I was seeing. Once I downloaded the pictures this morning and started going through the Peterson's I found what I was amazed to discover that what I had seen was a meadowlark. I find it hard to believe that in all of these years here on the coastal prairie I have never seen a meadowlark. Now I am not even going to take a shot at trying to differentiate whether it is eastern or western, that I leave up to the more experienced birders out there...Anyway, here are a few shots through the handheld long zoom from further away than I would have liked cropped as close as I dared...

And just for good measure, here's the first Bluebonnet Bloom of the year in my yard. After spotting this one I notice there were quite a few on the roadside coming home...Thanks TexDoT, your planting work is appreciated.

A Quote for Today
Life consists in what a man is thinking of all day.

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Source: Thought for the Day

Foggy Morn Redux

Well they promised fog on the TV news last night and Mother Nature delivered. Mild temperatures with lots of gulf moisture stir gently with little to no wind and you get fog, lots of fog. So needless to say sunrise just ain't a happening this morn.

The morning email brings some news from the mountains...

I see that ASU made the Washington Post today...
Appalachia Helps Where D.C. Fails

Unlike many college students who spend their spring break partying, about a dozen students from Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C., are going to seize the "chance to give back to the community," according to a news release from the D.C.-based National Center for Children and Families.

The center said the students, supported by Appalachian State's Alternative Spring Break program, will leave their school, in the heart of the Appalachian mountains, to volunteer their services to "one of our nation's most economically distressed areas."

Their spring break excursion will take them to Southeast Washington -- specifically to J.C. Nalle Elementary School in the Marshall Heights community of Ward 7. Once there on Monday, the students are expected to work through the week with children in kindergarten through fifth grade, as well as on various projects around Nalle.

Now that is putting a Spring Break to good use. Way to go ASU.

Source: Colbert I. King - Appalachia Helps Where D.C. Fails -

I was sitting here musing about how so many of the blogs I frequent are by authors, some newly published, some with many books on the shelves, some with only the beginnings in their minds. I think that is one of the thing that makes blogging deferent than other forms of publishing. In the world of books you are presented with a polished piece of art, if you assume writing is art. Whereas with blogging you usually get an insight into the thought processes of the author. You will discover in the ongoing conversation, and that's what most of these blogs I read become, the reasons behind the words. You become privy to the person behind the pages not just the words upon the page.

I have always wanted to know more about the authors I read, especially the ones I keep coming back for more from. Pre-internet that wasn't always easy. Even in the early years of the internet you only found publisher bios of the author, sometimes the author would set up a web page, sometimes they would even update it occasionally. But with the advent of blogs you begin to really get to know the person behind the words. You begin to see what they are passionate about, what just ticks them off. They become a person not just a name on a cover, sometimes a friend and not just an acquaintance. Makes life much more interesting, don't you think?

The really great thing is watching some of these "bloggers" just getting started. They begin with a bit of hesitation. They wander around looking for a path to follow that matches up with their particular version of the "muse". Then you begin to see it in their post, they are finding their voice, their passion. They begin to speak with a clearer sense of what it is they want to say.

With any luck I will find my voice here someday. Right now I am stumbling around the language hoping I don't stub my toe too badly. Until such a time that I actually start to make sense, thanks for stopping by and listening to the mumbles that show up here.

...Sorry, I got distracted by the light on this foggy morning. I am sure the sight of an overweight, middle aged ex-hippie wandering around in a field with a camera and a tripod wearing house shoes and jogging (ha) shorts was a sight I am glad I could not see...

Here are a couple of apple blossom images hot of the printer, so to speak.

Dew covered Apple Blossom Buds.

And dew covered Apple Blossoms.

Walking the Berkshires

 GreenmanTim has some interesting things to say about a proposal for a traveling met processing plant. If America wants to reach a more sustainable means of feeding ourselves this could be one of  the methods needed to reach that level. Tim writes some very interesting articles on his site, this one was quite informative as usual. If you are interested in sustainable agriculture, go check out the rest...

What they lacked were meat processing and packaging services.

This is a critical problem not only for New England but across much of the United States, where just 4 mega-corporations process 80% of America's meat.  There is increasing demand for locally-produced meat, raised without antibiotics or hormones, and people are willing to pay a premium for the security of knowing where their food comes from and who produces it.  they also care about supporting local agriculture and the regional farm economy. 

Source: Walking the Berkshires


Everyone down here keeps saying it looks a lot like spring...but...Folks, if it ain't spring someone really needs to say something to the trees and flowers outside my house. The temps yesterday hit the mid 70's (as I recall, those were some very good years). I would expect them to hit the same place today...and tomorrow...though the forecast is only calling for the upper 60's low 70's. Before all of you who may be reading this start shouting about that being your summertime weather consider the fact that this is the home of the first completely covered sports stadium (now housing three).

While these late winter early spring days are about the only weather we get that is really pleasant the coming days of summer are what we try to avoid. And if their is "Global Warming" or not the very fact that the past decade has been the warmest in recorded history just makes this part of the country that much more "pleasant" in the summer.

I was raised down here on the gulf coast without summer AC and I don't recall it as being that bad. It wasn't all that comfortable in July and August but we just spent our afternoons at the neighborhood pool. Season passes for the whole family at about $25. And nighttimes where great, attic fans we called them, great big hulking things in the central hall ceiling sucking humongous amounts of outside air in and through the whole house before blowing it out through the attic. Nighttime was so cool all summer long that you snuggled up under the same cover you used in the winter. Those fans are what spoiled me, I can't sleep to this day without some type of air movement.

Oh well, on to my email...I'll be back if I find something interesting...

You gotta love Sitemeter. Not only does it tell you just how few people actually read your meandering thoughts, but it tells you how they stumbled on your blog. Like this from yesterday...Someone hit this site by Googling the question "when does the sun come out in nc". I didn't go see what Google returned for an answer but I would have said something long the lines of "usually in the morning unless it's raining or foggy".

Looking out my window I see the sun hitting the lower limb above me so I guess I better move...You all have a great day and a very pleasant weekend...Catch you down the 'way.

Address to the Southern Appalachian Youth on Food conference - By Tom Philpott

I stumbled on Tom Philpott a long while back in connection to my interest in the Boone, NC area. He led me to Grist, where I've followed his articles weekly. I found this weeks column covering a talk he gave a good recap of his past articles. If you don't know Tom click on over and check out what he has to say about "the eco-politics behind your food".

Tucked into the rolling hills of North Carolina's Swannanoa Valley, Warren Wilson College is essentially surrounded by a farm. The school's 800 students not only tend the 275-acre farm -- which includes pastured livestock and vegetables -- they also provide the labor to run the campus. They do everything from accounting to plumbing to cooking in the cafeteria. I've had the privilege of hosting several Warren Wilson kids at Maverick Farms, and I've been amazed at how well those kids know how to work, and have plenty of fun while doing it.

Since my last two trips to NC have carried me past Maverick Farms front door, and I'll be going that way again this summer, I really need to stop by and say thanks for the informative words each week.

Source: My address to the Southern Appalachian Youth on Food conference | By Tom Philpott | Grist | Victual Reality | 08 Mar 2007

Today's Outlook - Foggy early, clearing later

How about a quote to start the day...
The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way.
– William Blake
I think William Blake had one hell of an insight in the remark. In a lot of ways that one comment covers the differences in the two ends of the political spectrum. It also explains the lack of common ground in most public issues. The two side just can't fathom the viewpoint of the other side. We aren't talking different planets here, we are talking about being from different solar systems mentally. Sorry for the "duh" moment, but I just had a "duh" moment.

I am running a little behind this morning due to a doubling of my normal morning email load. Mind you we aren't talking about spam (well none that wasn't actually requested by me at one point or another), mainly just Google Alerts I have running to check on if family or friends end up in the news somewhere. Just another way to keep in touch.

Then there is this from a newsletter I get in my daily email...

What is the most dangerous animal on Earth?

They often work from trucks traveling the roads and streets at night when most people are asleep or fretting about the next day's activities. Without them, road and barge crews couldn't work safely, children would not be safe on playgrounds, dinner on the patio would risk infection, spending a day fishing would bring home more than fish, swimming, hiking, jogging, gardening—any of these activities could be the last outdoor activity one had from life. Their work is not glamorous; it is long and tedious, filled with its own hazards. They battle the single most dangerous animal on Earth; they are the mosquito control officers.

If you like oddball facts about plants (or even just real down and dirty facts), go check out the Killer Plant site. I've been subcribed to their daily emails for years now.

Source: Renfields Garden -

The big yellow children hauler just passed by so I better start wrapping this up and finish getting ready to drop my youngest off at the High School. Stay warm, stay happy, we'll catch you down the information superhighway.

Good Morning World

To all my friends on the Blue Ridges and points north...Throw another log on the fire, winter ain't done with y'all yet. Here we switched to a breeze off the gulf so our temperatures are moderating. It's a balmy 45 degrees outside right now and heading back up into springtime temps again today.

For all of the wine drinkers out there the Washington Post is reporting that "Ernest Gallo, 97, who with his brother Julio reaped riches from California grapes, shaping the drinking habits of a nation and creating a wine fortune from a small investment, died March 6 at his home in Modesto, Calif." Maybe their is something to all of these purpurted health benefits in drinking wine...97 years old.

And then there's this...

IN LAST WEEK'S issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, a new study on antioxidant supplements, pills that magazine covers in the 1990s trumpeted as potential miracle drugs for their putative cancer-fighting power, concludes that they do not help users live longer and might even increase the risk of death. It's a reminder that you can't rely just on bottle labels to make smart choices about which pills to take.
Source: Don't Take Your Vitamins? -

So what's one to do, everything that was good is now bad, everything that was bad is
now good. Does anyone spouting all this nonsense really have any clue about what they are talking? I read an article long ago that quoted government reports on the nutritional value of common fruits and vegetables. They compared the values from different decades and the drop across the board was amazing. Now we are being told that the supplements we have been told to take may actually increase our risk of dieing, the diet we have been told to eat is making us obese, the medicines we are prescribed are killing us...And yet on every TV station, in every magazine, and on most billboards we are bombarded with ads for these very same products...

The title of this post came about from looking at my stats on sitemeter...Seems I had as many international hits as I had from the USA. Good to see you all...

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