Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Groundhog Mountain News (it's better than the networks)

Well, things are back to relative (pardon the pun) normal at Villa MacBeane now now that sister and brother-in-law are heading cheerfully, at this moment, down the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway on the start of that heinous trip back to the rough streets of Baltimore. Love of my life is off to church to plan the music for Sunday and thence to the insurance thing. I am alone with the cat and a beautiful day to enjoy.

Besides the visit, Paulette and Jorge, (who you were briefly introduced to in the previous post) blessed us with a super pair of binoculars to enhance our "birding". We can add Pine Warbler to the growing list of birds we've seen. They also identified the Winter Junco which are plentiful but we didn't know them.

Last night we dined at the The Galax Smokehouse in downtown Galax. It's an informal (paper and plastic) type of place with awesome Bar-B-Que. The ribs are tender and flavorful since they are slowcooked over a hickory fire. The greenbeans were seasoned and a tad spicy and I want some more. All the food was excellent and not expensive. (Although I'm not sure about that, Jorge paid, bless his little Cuban heart) The service was prompt, professional and friendly. So, there's my first restaurant review.

I found this little tid-bit nestling among Guys many posts. Got my interest up because, that's my bank. They are very accommodating and have been a big help since we've moved her. This article says BB & T (Branch, Banking and Trust) is declining to finance developers of land taken by eminent domain. There are offices all around this area and the branch in Stuart has a wall mural of JEB Stuart and his cavalry. Stuart was born very close to here and lots of stuff was named after him.

The North Carolina-based bank, which employs more than 28,000 people in 1,400 branches in 11 states, announced last month that it would no longer approve loans for developers who want to pursue commercial enterprises on land seized by the government using the power of eminent domain, or taking private property for public use .

I think it says a lot about the way people think in these parts. There is that devotional undercurrant of respect for the land. Russel H., a farmer who we visited recently, in between twice inviting us to stay for dinner and telling of his morning, birthing calves (one of which died) said, of his land, once you sell it, you don't get it back.

Monday, February 27, 2006

So Nice, Blogger Did It Twice

This is Monday blogger trick. It's always celebrated the Monday after lucky Thursday, the 23rd. This is the day when blogger posts a picture twice and and when you try to delete one in the edit thing they both disappear. It's such a handsome group they deserve to be pictured twice. That's my beautiful wife on the right, her very talented sister, Paulette and our cool brother-in-law, Jorge. They are serious "birders" and like nothing better than to sit and watch the show from our deck. They are visiting from Baltimore for the weekend. This picture was taken last summer. No green on the trees, now. Ditto, the second picture.

We enjoy their company. Since they're are family and have been here several times I no longer need to don the tour director hat. And like I say they just like to sit on the deck. I must be off to Galax this afternoon. We are having a paper towel and coffee creamer crisis.

On the way I must stop at the and talk to the people who have the local market about our leasing same. The owners and present operators approached Wanda with the idea. For some reason they need to move on. I'll see what they have to offer.

And to make life even more exciting the company Wanda is working for wants me to come to work for them. Evidently since I can say "insurance sales" without breaking into laughter they think I can do it. Waiting her Friday morning after that delicious dinner at Applebees Thursday, (you remember?) were the pohbahs wanting to know where I was and if I can start licensing school in two weeks. Like I don't already give them a bad time and I'm not even working for them yet. And they think Wanda can be ornery....

There's been a lot of activity at Villa MacBeane lately, what with church, guests, etc. Wanda's sister did show me this site. Go there, turn up the speakers, click on "Glorious" just above the picture of the oh, so white vocalist featured on the black gospel site, hit play and get ready to take praise to a new level.

Saturday, February 25, 2006


Back when I started this blog I didn't know what I was in for. October seems like a dream to me now. In the few short months since then I've been on an incredible journey to Germany, Sweden, Singapore, England as well as throughout the good old U. S. of A. I've been invited to peer into some wonderful peoples lives through their computer monitor. I've visited the horror of war in Iraq and the peace of frozen Alaska. I've become more of a person through these visits and have come to understand that whatever or whoever a person may be, we're all in this canoe together.

I didn't understand the technicalities of "the blog" so an early post I intended to be "Here, There and Back" wound up as a completely different blog. Recently it was visited by Benning who lives in what used to be the sleepy little town of Largo, Florida and he chided me for letting it "die".

Largo is now part of the megalopolis which is Tampa Bay. When I was a kid we would ride through the Pinellas County countryside to get to the Largo Fair. The countryside is now gone and probably the Largo Fair also. But it's nice to get a message to remind me of what once was.

So without further explanation I direct your attention to what's been A Long Time Coming.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Unanswered Prayers

Mt. Zion Lutheran Church is located in a scenic mountain setting just outside of Wytheville, Virginia. My GGG Grandfather married my GGG Grandmother there in 1786. The original wooden church has been replaced by this brick structure.

Last night Wanda and I drove to Wytheville (pronounced "Withvul") for a meeting with the insurance poobah. It seems they are looking at her and several others for a management positions. Significant others are encouraged to attend these sessions so everyone is aware of what they are getting themselves into. We were treated to dinner at Applebees. Now I remember why I don't like Applebees.

There is an interesting study in time and distance in this drive. It takes us about 45 minutes to drive to our church about twenty miles down the hilly, curving mountain roads. It takes less time to drive the 40 or so miles to Wytheville because most of the trip is on I-77.

Lucky Thursday, the 23rd doesn't appear to have been so lucky. We met with little or no success in the insurance rounds and the prayers (for which I was thankful) for the job at Sears came to naught when the owner called to say he had decided not to hire at this time. We did see some more of the beautiful countyside and got dinner out (even if it was at Applebees).

The question now became (after I got through whining about not getting a job) was why didn't God answer my prayer. And this wasn't the first time. But then I got to thinking some more and if I couldn't remember any prayers not answered, how important were they? Then some more thinking and I did remember how blessed I am and what if God had answered those forgotten prayers would I be so blessed today. We really don't know what is best for us and what wonderful things the good Lord has in store and that if we are given everything we asked for how much more insufferable we would be than we are already. So as with everything I'll just leave it up to Him to sort out. It is so much easier that way.

Maybe it was lucky Thursday afterall.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

It's Lucky Thursday, The 23rd

Our side yard was a winter wonderland last weekend. The weather has improved. It's sunny and in the 50's now.

It's been a busy week. Monday we drove to Floyd to pick up some work for my darling wife. Tuesday and yesterday we spent driving around the countryside picking up insurance premium. Last night was church and we got home around 9:30 and suddenly it was 11:30 and Fisal was trying to get us to bed. She takes such good care of us. I wish she would learn to change her litter box.

The big news on local TV is the 80 year old woman who drove 14 miles going the wrong way on interstate 40. Don't let it ever be said life around here isn't exciting.

I've been visiting a number of blogs but I seem to have brain freeze lately and when it comes to comments. I just sit and stare at the blank box and nothing even faintly clever comes to mind so I just move on. Just because I don't leave a little pile of scat doesn't mean I haven't been there. Spending my days driving my sweetheart around has seriously cut into my blog time. But it's been time well spent. Looks like we may be able to make the car payment.

The manager of the Sears in Galax is supposed to call me tomorrow about a job. If your the praying type say one that I get it. If you not the praying type (but you really should be, it works) wish me well and do whatever ju-ju thing you do.

Got to go now, the road to Dugspur is calling.

Have a good one.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

And Your Neighbor as Yourself...

People don't like good news. They never have and probably never will. It's something in our genes that draws us to be obsessed with the ugly in life. Barbara Tuchman in the preface to "A Distant Mirror" makes this observation.

"A greater hazard, built into the vary nature of recorded history is overload of the negative: the disproportionate survival of the bad side --of evil, misery, contention, and harm. In history this exactly the same as the local newspaper. The normal does not make the news. History is made by documents that survive and these lean mainly on crisis and calamity, crime and misbehaver, because such things are the subject matter of the documentary process --of lawsuits, treaties, moralists' denundiations, literary satire and papal Bulls."

We see it every day in the press. Television news lives by the maxim "if it bleeds, it leads".

In times of war the press feels a duty to demonize the enemy. It's a responsibility handed down from the political system with whom the press walks hand in hand. The fifth estate and all that. We portrayed the Natzi's as monsters (which, in fact, they were), Hitlers portrayed the Jews as monsters (which, in fact, they were not), the Japanese during the war were characterized as demons. After all it's so much easier to eliminate a non-human. Way back when the English ridiculed the French after battle of the Spurs , so named because of the speed with which the later withdrew from the field, and the reputation to this day is upheld and maybe with good reason. But I digress.

The problem nowadays is that our present war is not with a nationality, as before, but with an army of the people, no uniforms, no particular country. They are only united by religion. So by demonizing the radical crazies the unradical not so crazies are caught in the media blast. It's kind of like suicide bombing by the press which, as we are seeing, also get caught up in the destruction.

We have armies of ideas and usually the negative ideas. I've read most of the worlds religious writings and there are several things certain. One is that although the relationship between God, nature and man is one of life and death, while they are living on this earth God wants his people to be happy. That's what we all want, isn't it? Happiness? "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?" My religion of choice is Christianity and the words, "love", "joy", "happiness", resound through the Biblical passages not only of my religion, but of all religions. Why is it then the messengers dwell on sadness, grief and contention? Like I say people don't like good news. Doesn't David (the King and psalmist) say "Serve the Lord with gladness?"

It's much easier to hate than it is to love. Love takes a giving of ones self. It takes a certain kind of submission. Someone made the comment a church the other night, the Christian army is the only one that kills it's wounded. There is, down the road from us the small Pilot View Church. It's doors are closed and other than a picnic on the grounds one summer day I've never seen it used. The doors are locked, the congregation scattered. Why? Because the pastor and the members were at odds and rather than submit in Christian love, the church was closed.

What of Islam, the message of "Allah, the compassionate, the merciful?" It's the same mentality and the message of Islam is submission. But the extremists take the historical warlike chapters of the Qur'an as their focus. It's like if the Christians took up the sword of the Old Testament and went searching for the prophets of Baal to slay them.

Hate is a drug and like all drugs it's not good. It's an anesthesia for our lives. We wallow in the our misery. We exalt it. We complain and whine about our situation when the remedy is so simple. We miss the point. The law is written on our hearts but the heart attack was fatal, the patient died. And that's the news.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Capt. B. Strikes Again!

Once again our favorite Marine Capt. B. has a post about what's really happening in Iraq. Did you notice no riots in Iraq about that notorious cartoon? The good Capt. did and reports same. I love this guy ... why?...Other than appearing in a kilt, he's about the positive, not the negative B.S. we get from the media. Quite frankly, I don't care if the V.P. shot a lawyer except to say I'm happy when anyone shoots a lawyer. As I've said before, if you want to know what's happening in Iraq and can stand some good news, turn off the TV, use the newspaper in the litter box and get thee to Shepherd Away (and a good shephard he is) and read.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Now I Know He Done Lost His Mind

"What is the matter with that boy, he done went and posted a picture of that rebel flag. He's a racist...no good, I'm insulted."
Calm down folks, there's more. Many houses in this neck of the woods fly this flag on a regular basis. Well, after all J.E.B. Stuart was borned right up yonder and the town of Stuart is named after you know who, as is route 58. As well as the main drag through Galax and probably a lot of other stuff I can't think of. At church the other night one of the young girls had on a T-shirt emblazoned with the flag and proclaiming, "If this offends, you need a history lesson". The period before the "late unpleasantness" may recall a time, although reprehensible, must be remembered. Didn't someone say something about forgetting history and doomed to repeat it? So you think that one is cool, check this out

This is the original flag. Hit's pink! That's because there weren't enough red material around. The closest thing to red the good ladies of Richmond could find in any quantity was silk, pink silk.

I know your still saying "what's the matter with that boy, he done posted another picture of that rebel flag." This is going somewhere other than south (if you'll pardon the expression).

As my regular readers (both of you know who you are) will remember my wife drives around the environs of southwest Virginia where these flags fly with abandon. A side note; there is also a plethora of those little statues of black folks standing or sitting in front of houses. I tell my wife, who you may also remember is African-American, they put those out because since there's few people of color around here they're trying to attract some because they're missed.

At first she was reluctant to approach homes where the flag was flying. With trepidation, she did, and guess what these folks weren't racist, they was real hospitable. In fact, one of them had a certificate of appreciation from the NAACP. It's just that they're proud of their southern heritage. Of the rebellious and independent nature they inherited from their mostly Ulster Scot ancestors. It's not by coincidence St. Andrews cross also is represented on the flag of Scotland. That feeling as much a part of these mountains as the trees.

"Now he really gone and done hit, he done posted the Great Seal of The Confederate States of America "

When our former neighbor moved to Wisconsin he gave us a framed lithograph of this seal. That's George Washington in the center. Wanda wants to hang in
a place of honor on the fireplace. Isn't that where all this type of thing belongs? You know it's where we hang GGGG grandfathers sword from 1776 or his musket from the Kentucky or the Great Seal of The Confederate States of America. I just can't figure how to drill a hole in the brick with my low power drill to mount it.

Friday, February 17, 2006

The Horror...Redux

There are few things I enjoy more than a spirited, intelligent discussion. When it turns up on one of my posts I feel my blog time is well spent. Such is the case with The Horror post I did a while back. The comments by Bonita , Sean , Binty McShea, and Benning are all worth reading.

Freedom of speech is one of the fantastic things about this country. We can all express our opinion without fear. And the great thing is that in most cases we can still respect ourselves in the morning. Just because we don't always agree with each other does not make the other guy a bad person. He or she just has a different opinion and that opinion, right or wrong, is as valid as our own. It is through discussion that we form our ideas, it is through research we validate those ideas.

One thing about blogging is it brings a wealth of opinions and ideas. We gravitate to those people with whom we have common interests. But it's nice occasionally to step away from that comfort zone and see what's out there in the woods. The hero is never the one who stays sheltered in his or her own comfortable surroundings but rather the one who risks leaving what he or she knows and venturing out into the unknown.

Maybe if the democrat and republican leaders of this country ventured out beyond the beltway and into the highways and hedges of America we might find a few heroes among them. Anything is possible, but some things not probable.

What started as a referral to some excellent comments just turned into a rant. Go figure?

Thursday, February 16, 2006

"There's Always Been Starkadders At Cold Comfort Farm"

"Cold Comfort Farm" is one of our favorite movies. It's the story of what can be accomplished when one has a positive attitude. It's very funny and has a fantastic cast.

Eileen Atkins
Judith Starkadder
Kate Beckinsale
Flora Poste
Sheila Burrell
Ada Doom
Stephen Fry
Freddie Jones
Adam Lambsbreath
Joanna Lumley
Mrs. Mary Smiling
Ian McKellen
Amos Starkadder
Miriam Margolyes
Mrs. Beetle
Rufus Sewell
Seth Starkadder
Ivan Kaye
Reuben Starkadder
Jeremy Peters
Maria Miles
Elfine Starkadder
Christopher Bowen
Charles Fairford
Louise Rea
Meriam Beetle
Sophie Revell

Ian McKellen's sermon to the faithfull is as follows and Wanda and I at the least opportunity shout in unison "And there'll be no butter in hell".

"Ye miserable, crawlin' worms. Are ye here again then? Have ye come like Nimshi, son of Rehoboam, secretly out of your doomed houses, to hear what's comin' to ye? Have ye come, old and young, sick and well, matrons and virgins, if there be any virgins amongst you, which is not likely, the world being in the wicked state that it is. Have ye come to hear me tell you of the great, crimson, licking flames of hell fire? Aye! You've come, dozens of ye. Like rats to the granary, like field mice when it's harvest home. And what good will it do ye? You're all damned! Damned! Do you ever stop to think what that word means? No, you don't. It means endless, horrifying torment! It means your poor, sinful bodies stretched out on red-hot gridirons, in the nethermost, fiery pit of hell and those demons mocking ye while they waves cooling jellies in front of ye. You know what it's like when you burn your hand, taking a cake out of the oven, or lighting one of them godless cigarettes? And it stings with a fearful pain, aye? And you run to clap a bit of butter on it to take the pain away, aye? Well, I'll tell ye, there'll be no butter in hell!"

Sounds like something Bane would write only he'd not use the "H" word. Who knows, maybe he did.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Plank Family History, Part 2

By this we see that he had already established a character above reproach.

This can be said of all the pioneer Planks, by their honesty, precept and example, they won the admiration and confidence of all people they came in contact with. Their words being as gold and their credit good anywhere, they soon became popular and were classed among the best citizens.

By the records we notice they worked on the farm, faithfully and for twenty five cents per day, cradling, and reaping the grain, in the harvest, for fifty cents per day. After moving to Wayne Co., O., Jacob entered a tract of heavy oak timbered land, through which ran the stream of water named Little Apple Creek. Here he sold two eighty acre tracts to his sons Christian and David.

John, if we mistake not, entered a partnership with his father and they engaged in the grist milling business and later built a saw mill and cabinet shop. People came many miles to get their furniture made to order and had their old furniture repaired. They also made coffins. John employed four men, usually, in his cabinet shop and they worked from five o’clock A.M. until nine o’clock P.M. He was very just but firm with his employers. (sic.)

Some years later Christian also built a grist mill, one half mile down the stream on Apple Creek, as the one mill could not do all the grinding that was brought to the mill. Many years they were co crowded with custom work that they had to fun their mills day and night, and in case of emergency would grind on Sunday but only in such cases.

The pioneer Planks were men of more than ordinary talents. Being natural mechanics, they could turn their hand to anything, they were men of good judgment and made good use of it. Among the early pioneers there were farmers, millers, cabinet makers, blacksmiths and dentists, the people coming many miles to have their teeth extracted. Because of their skill they soon became very popular and accommodated people in almost any line of business. Yet as they had to deal with all classes of people they met with many difficulties and because of the many obstacles thrown in their pathway, in early life, had to make many sacrifices in order to get along agreeably.

Their nearest market was Cleveland, fifty miles north. As the roads usually were in a very bad condition a number of them would go together as one man on the road alone was not able to get through. They would often mire with their loads and be compelled to help each other out. Their outfits consisted of a large wagon covered, with from four to six horses hitched to each wagon, It would take from six to eight days to make the trip there and return.

Some years later a canal was built running from Cleveland south through Clinton, Fulton and Massilln, which then became the market towns. The country now becoming more settles they had much better roads and marketing was done more easily. They (grandfather and brother John, I presume) followed the milling business, buying wheat and manufacturing into flour, and delivered it to the above named towns, where it was either sold or shipped to the larger markets.

In those days they either tramped out their wheat with horses or thrashed it out wit a flail. This was a tedious job and generally done in winter. Mr. D. H Plank, the author of this letter, says,” I remember will, when dressed in course flax trousers of riding the horses for my father many a day, until it would almost gauld (sic.) the horses back. I was about as glad to get off the horse as the horse was to get rid of me. After the wheat was tramped out and separated from the straw, it was then separated from the chaff, on a windy day, by throwing the chaff and wheat into the air, and the wind would separate the wheat from the chaff.

Insert Your Favorite Ethnic Group

Thanks to Sean who lives down here in Gods country for sending me this. His Seans Horse Farm gives instructions for putting together a working horse farm. The instructions are fairly easy, it's the doing that's the difficult part. Really, I am amazed at all this guy accomplishes. He also has a successful internet business. A modern renaissance man, this.

A female ned goes to the Social to register for Child Benefit.
"How many children do you have"? asks the Civil Servant.
"10" replies the girl."10"??? asks the shocked Civil Servant "What are their names"?
"Alec, Alec, Alec, Alec, Alec, Alec, Alec, Alec, Alec and.........Alec" replies the girl.
"Doesn't that get confusing"? asks the Civil Servant.
"Naw man, it's pure brilliant, cos if thur oot playing, I jist hing oot the windae and shout "Haw Alec, yer dinners oot" or "Haw Alec, git in the hoose, it's time fur bed" and they all dae it.
"But what if you want to speak to them individually"? asks the perturbed Civil Servant.
"Aw that's easy man, a jist use thur surnames"!!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Church Signs We Love!


With the advent of snow the bird feeder has been a popular spot. Several fat Titmice, Chickadees and Nuthatch are regular visitors. Fisal, the attack cat, usually reclines by the glass doors and watches the activity. This morning a Nuthatch must have been a little bored and wanting some fun hopped from the feeder, to parade back and forth outside the door immediately in front of the tantilized cat. Of course Fisal was not about to take this laying down (which she was) and discovered she was simply banging her head against the door as the Nuthatch continued to hop back and forth on the other side. Actually she only hit the door once, she is a quick teach. The Nuthatch laughed and flew back to the feeder.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Plank History, My History

I consider myself fortunate in that both sides of my parents families trace their ancestry in this country to before the Revolution. My mothers side of the family is a litany of Pennsylvania Dutch, Amish and Mennonite names, Plank, Lutz, Kurtz, Yoder, Hartzler, and Mast.
Jacob Mast was the great-grandson of Bishop Jacob Mast, the first Mennonite Bishop in the United States, who immigrated from Switzerland in 1750 to Berks County, Pennsylvania. In Pretty Prairie, LaGrange County Indiana, Jacob met and married in 1879 Ellen R. Plank, my Great grandmother and Grand grandfather. This is a history of the Plank's.
Somehow the original five typewritten pages from 1900 came into my possession. I'll post it in segments over the period of several days so hopefully you won't get bored. It is my family, but it is at the same time, the story of many pioneer families whose hard work made this country great.
The story of the kidnapping is somewhat confused as these family stories often are. Another version has Melchor saying farewell to shipboard friends, falling asleep and finding the ship at sea. There are other versions but somehow the Plank family found themselves on a ship bound for America with no money to pay passage.


Read a the Reunion at Ike Schrocks in August, A.D. 1900

Melchor Plank and wife were born in Switzerland in the early Seventeen Hundreds, emigrated to America in about the year 1745. Were kidnapped and brought to N. Y., sold to a man near N.Y. to pay their passenger charges; afterwards taken to Lancaster Co., Pa., where they paid the balance of their fare charges at hard labor.

Here they began their career of life. To them were born in America, four sons and two daughters, namely, John Jacob, Peter, and Christian, Barbara and Margaret, all born in Lancaster Co., Pa. About the year 1800, perhaps earlier, they moved to Miflin Co., Pa. Melchor Plank died in about the year 1817 (His wife dying several years later). All their children were married in Pa.

Not being able to learn anything of the life and progress our Great Great Grandfather, we will begin the consideration of his son Jacob, the second generation. His family consisted of six sons and six daughters , vis: John, Christian, Jacob, Jeptha, David and Abraham, Fannie, Magdalina, Barbara, Rebecca and Saloma. (one, being an invalid, died young) The others all grew up to manhood and womanhood and all reared large families, with the exception of Rebecca's family, who all died in infancy.

Jacob Plank, during his life in Penn. Operated a cabinet shop, not certain that he farmed any, his records showing that he transacted considerable business the settling up estates, etc. In about the year 1820 he, with the younger members of his family, moved to Wayne Co, O. Those already married, soon followed their parents and all settled in Wayne Co., O. Joan and Christian beginning their career of live in Pa., and , according to the old records John worked at the carpenter trade and Christian was a farmer, who leased a farm for several years and occupied same until he moved east. His landlord, after the expiration of his lease, presented him with a fine young horse, as a reward for his faithfulness and honesty as a renter. By this we see that he had already established a character above reproach.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

The Horror...The Horror....

I always enjoy reading Tampa Taxi Shots because Tim is a talented writer and an excellent photographer. He also takes me back to the day when I was driving a cab in St. Petersburg. His post today is more than disturbing and says a lot about intolerance. As they say "some of the images may be disturbing". It caused me to wonder just what kind of demons posses Islam. Where is the outcry from the Muslim world over this? Where is the outcry from the Christian world over this?


Come On Over

Like an old fella said, "I'ma gonna tell ya' how to get to our place. First ya' get on an aeroplane an ya' fly as fur as ya' kin fly, then ya git ina car an ya' drive as fur as ya' kin drive, then ya git ona mule an ya' ride as fur as ya' kin ride, then ya' walk as fur as ya' kin walk an then ya crawl as fur as ya' kin crawl and whin ya' cain't crawl no futher, you're here."
It's not quite that bad but it's normal to meet folks in Fancy Gap and lead them in. Coming in from Meadows of Dan is much easier.
But here's a topographical map of the neighborhood. As you can see if ya go too far ya fall off the edge.

It's A Bleezard!

Yesterday I drove into the Wal-Mart in Mt. Airy. I should have known something was up when the parking lot resembled NASCAR. I always wonder why people drive round and round looking for a parking spot close to the door. In the time they spend looking for that perfect place they could walk from way up yonder. The stroll from the back of the lot is much better for ones health.

Yes, they were stocking up on the usual presnow fall necessities. You can never have enough toilet tissue or milk. My priority was coffee creamer. We must have Hazelnut Coffeemate, nothing else will do. And not that wimpy non-fat stuff. If we're going to clog our arteries we're going to do it right!

So here it is, the first real snow of the year on Groundhog Mountain. We woke up this morning to about two inches and it's been coming down all morning. They're calling for it to continue through out the day. Not to worry, the pantry is well stocked, the vodka bottle is full and we have an ample supply of TP.

I buy cheap vodka, Burnetts, and pour it into the empty bottle of a much better brand. Some how it seems better that way. When I buy brandy (cheap) it goes into an empty Louis XIII bottle. That's the stuff that sell for around $1300. a fifth. The empty hand blown Baccarat bottle goes for about $80. on E-Bay. I collected a bunch of different empties when I was beverage manager. The Louis XIII was a real catch as most of the time the person who buys the last shot ($100. or so) gets the bottle. Since the guy who emptied this one was in the restaurant and not in the bar, he didn't know. And as they say, "don't ask, don't tell". And yes, I have sampled it and it is beyond good. And if I ever win the lottery, I'm gonna get me some.

As for toilet paper, I get Angel Soft.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Another Tag, Thanks Binty

My Scottish connection, Binty McShea who has been exiled to Singapore for failing to meet his quota for drinking the water of life while eating chocolate, has tagged me. I guess in the interest of international harmony, I'll comply. Seven Movies I like:

The Duelists
Master and Commander
Road to Perdition
Lord of The Rings (the triogy; I could cheat and count that as three)
Midnight In the Garden of Good and Evil

Seven Books:

The Bible
"Crazy Horse" by Maria Sandoz
"David" by Juan Bosch
"Love in the Time of Cholera" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
"History of Food" by Maguelonne Toussantsaint-Samat
"Waterloo" by David Howarth
"The Power of Myth" by Joseph Campbell

Seven things I say:

"Yes, dear"
"Damn, these single malts are expensive"
"Good wine, cheap"
"Have you seen my _______? " (fill in the blank)
"Cigarette time"
"The cat made that mess"
"I did wash my hands"

Seven things that attract me to the city

(that was easy)

Seven things I'd like to do before I die

Live another 65 years
Wear a kilt to Hillsville
Write something that makes sense
Convert all the Muslims to Christianity
Convert all the Christians to Christianity
Visit the MacBeane homestead at Loch Ness
Own an olive grove in Tuscany

Seven things I can't do

Play sports
Understand women, cats or html
Say "crooked tree creek" real fast more than twice
Bite my toenails
Climb a rope

Seven people to tag

Don't know seven people

Somemore Driving Around

I've been driving. This week has been spent cruising around the back roads of Cana, Virginia while my wife collects insurance premiums. It's a small town on the North Carolina border up the road a piece from Mt. Airy.

Last summer when they were in season we would stop at a patch of grass along Willis Gap Road and buy peaches from several ladies. I don't know if you've ever had white peaches because they don't travel well but they are sweeter and juicer than the yellow one usually found in groceries. These two or three women had them for 8 dollars a bushel. Wanda used them to learn the fine art of canning. Then later in the season stop at the same spot and buy apples from an oldtimer named Glen.

Well, imagine our surprise when one of the addresses we were to visit was none other then Glen's, the fruit guy. Driving by the grassy spot which last summer were covered with boxes of peach's and apples we drove up the drive and were greeted by the same German Shepard as last summer. And Glen came to the door. It seems the policy was on his nephew and was paid by his sister who lived "down in the holler by them pine trees". After getting directions we were off down the "holler". "hit's that big brick house up on the hill". Stopping at the first big brick house up on the hill Wanda knocked at the door.

A very nice lady who never did put down the phone or the cigarette started with, "Now listen to what I'm going to tell you" and proceeded to give directions to the next big brick house up on the hill. We never did find it... that day.

Since it was getting late and we were headed in the right direction for Villa MacBean and we had to be at church at seven we came home.

Wanda called, the lady said, "I saw ya' go by yesterday and knew ya' were lost". We weren't lost, we just couldn't find her. Got the address, found the big brick house up the hill and of course it turned out to be one of the ladies we had encountered buying fruit.

"Now she SAYS she's in her nineties" was the reply when we mentioned one of the other ladies at the fruit stand who Glen had told us of her age. Where else in this world would woman lie about her age to make herself older?

We collected the premium which she was paying on her mentally challenged 40 year old son who came in and got two dollars while we were there. A little while later we found him hitchhiking down the road towards Mt. Airy and would have given him a ride but for our two seater Toyota Celica (Yes, it has back seat but can only accommodate small children). I told him, "we're gonna tell your mamma on you". He replied, "I don't give a s**t".
I've posted about working in the restaurant business before. Occasionally there are moments so full of power they are worth remembering. Dax Montana tells of one.

It All Starts Here

I don't know who started this but watersheds are a very important ecological phenomena. Wayne seems to be the initial culprit and then Florida Cracker and Rurality picked up the ball. I am in a unique area of Virginia as there is only this little section of the Free State Of Patrick and in Virginia where the water sheds into the Yadkin River in North Carolina. Many times it seem we're more in North Carolina than Virginia.

These little trickles of water from the south side of Groundhog Mountain flow down into the Ararat river which runs throughout the valley we overlook.

The river then flows to the Yadkin River and thence though North Carolina to the sea.

More information on the ecological makeup of Patrick county can be found here .

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Lost is Found

Groundhog Mountain sunrise

Twilight Zone?

Well, it happened again. That dreaded "could not connect to Blogger" appeared. Fortunatly only half the finished post was wiped out. One of these days I'll learn to do these things in Word and do the "copy/paste" thing. So, dear friends, your going to have to wait for it's reappearence. It will, because it's got a little "meat" to it. Why does this always happen to the stuff that actually takes some thought?

Now I can't find the pic of this morning sunrise I was going to post.

I'm logging off, there's something sinister afoot in computerland.
Have a good one.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Waiter! OH, WAITER!!!

There's something infectious about the hospitality industry. Once you get the service disease it's very difficult to get rid of. It's like you get Frymax in your blood or maybe it's because once you get a little experience a job is always available. Makes things like herniated bittum battums and morgan warts seem very easy to cure. One of my favorite reads, Waiter Rant an excellent writer, has a post that kind of explained what it is about this profession that makes it so captivating.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

The Real Players

CAPT B , one of our favorite MARINES starts his post with:

"For all the free people that still protest, you are welcome,
We protect you and you are protected by the best.
Your voice is strong and loud, but who will fight for you?
No one standing in your crowd."

If one feels the need to protest this war, that's their right. It's young men like Capt. B who stand in harms way to protect that right.

Today, I'm sure he and a lot of other fine Americans would rather be home with their family drinking beer, eating chips and watching the Superbowl. I'm sure, if he's not being shot at or ducking incoming on some scummy shower floor the Capt will be watching with his Marine family.

We get a lot of bull from the media about the war in Iraq, but for the real skinny about what's going on, go to the source. And if you think footballs exciting, read Capt, B for some real excitement. And while your watching the game say a little prayer for the real players who make it possible,

Friday, February 03, 2006

Guys,Hope You Have a Sense Of Humor

Our friend Lena, who is still in the land of "Baltimorons", ya know, Hon, Balmer Merlin, sent me this.

One For The Ladies

One day my housework-challenged husband decided to wash his Sweatshirt. Seconds after he stepped into the laundry room, he shouted to me, "What setting do I use on the washing machine?"
"It depends," I replied. "What does it say on your shirt?"
He yelled back, "University of Maryland."
And they say blondes are dumb...

A couple is lying in bed. The man says, "I am going to make you the happiest woman in the world." The woman replies, "I'll miss you..."

"It's just too hot to wear clothes today," Jack says as he stepped out of the shower, "honey, what do you think the neighbors would think if I mowed the lawn like this?"
"Probably that I married you for your money," she replied.

Q: What do you call an intelligent, good looking, sensitive man?
A: A rumor

A man and his wife, now in their 60's, were celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary. On their special day a good fairy came to them and said that because they had been so good that each one of them could have one wish. The wife wished for a trip around the world with her husband.
Whoosh! Immediately she had airline/cruise tickets in her hands.
The man wished for a female companion 30 years younger... Whoosh...immediately he turned ninety!!! Gotta love that fairy!A PRAYER....

Dear Lord,
I pray for Wisdom to understand my man;
Love to forgive him;
And Patience for his moods.
Because, Lord, if I pray for Strength,
I'll beat him to death.

Q: Why do little boys whine?
A: They are practicing to be men.

Q: What do you call a handcuffed man?
A: Trustworthy.

Q: What does it mean when a man is in your bed gasping for breath and calling your name?
A: You did not hold the pillow down long enough.

Q: Why do female black widow spiders kill their males after mating?
A: To stop the snoring before it starts.

Q: Why do men whistle when they are sitting on the toilet?
A: It helps them remember which end they need to wipe.

Q: What is the difference between men and women?
A: A woman wants one man to satisfy her every need. A man wants every woman to satisfy his one need.

Q: How do you keep your husband from reading your e-mail?
A: Rename the mail folder "Instruction Manuals"

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Here's To You, Regis!

Most of my bachelors degree work was done at University of South Florida. My major was political science (to me always an oximoron) with the focus on political philosophy. I took the majority of my classes from Dr. Factor, Dr. Regis Factor. He was a man of a strong analytical mind. We all think we can read but Dr. Factor taught me how to really read so that the authors intentions were understood. We dissected Kant, and Rousseau and Hobbs, Aristotle, Lenin, St Augustine and a host of other great thinkers. When one of us, his students, would "get it" a broad smile would come over his face and he would exuberantly exclaim "That's right" and the add further enlightenment. I once came in with a commentary on Aristotle. His response was, "Don't read that, go to the source".

When it came to college politics and those things that detract from the students learning the students always were the priority. Needless to say he was often at odds with the administration.

He was also a man of a deep religious faith and a fervent Roman Catholic. He was a product of that education and taught that way. He didn't teach his faith, he lived it.

We respected and loved Dr Factor.

Tonight on ER, which is not one of my usual TV watches, James Woods portrays a college professor suffering from ALS, Lou Gehrigs disease.

Dr. Factor died in 1999 of ALS . I sure hope the Catholics are wrong about a soul not immediately entering heaven. In any case, I still remember Regis in my prayers, just in case they may be right.

Brilliant, She's Absolutely Brilliant!

Well, the deer alert is over. The neighbors are up for the weekend and their dogs rousted a small doe who chose our driveway as the shortest route to the road. She then stood and watched us until the dogs caught up and then continued the merry chase down the mountain.

Love of my life has come up with a brilliant, absolutely brilliant, use for the leftover morning coffee. We've been putting it in a Mason jar (a necessity in this part of the world) until we get enough to reduce to about half and then add sugar. Now a little of this syrupy stuff and some milk and instant Starbucks, only better. And even better than that some, vodka and instant Kaluah, only better. So I made some Black Russians when we got home from church about nine last night. Along with that we had some home made pickled beets (like, most of the jar) some nice lady gave us yesterday. She also gave us some apple butter, grape and crab apple jelly and some canned stingbeans. As a result of this rather unorthodox supper neither of us slept very well.

I saw Wanda coming out of the ladies house with a box and my immediate thought was, "Cripes, another cat"! But no, it was food which to my mind is much better than another cat. People are so nice around here.

It's a late start and we're driving to Blacksburg to do the insurance thing. I'll try to remember the camera this time to get some pics of the beautiful countryside.