Thursday, June 08, 2006

Yeah, They're Everywhere

Besides being the lightening capitol of the world, Florida must be the cockroach distribution center. In that subtropical environment they thrive. Whether called waterbugs or palmento bugs they are huge and look even "huger" when unexpectedly encountered. And they fly. And they love to fly towards any woman's hair or so the women say after the shrieking stops. And they can run faster than newspaper swats or bug spray. And those are just the big fellas.

The little ones, German roaches and such are much more ubiquitous. Once when I moved into a clean (I knew it was, my ex-wife had lived there previously and she was clean) house I noticed a few. At that time there was a product which when sprayed if it didn't kill the buggers would alter them genetically and prevent reproduction. I sprayed and they started running from any available crack or crevice. I started running for the door. When I felt it safe to return I swept them up by the dustpan full.

Baltimore was another story. One of the joys of rowhouse living is that if the neighbors have roaches, you've got roaches. No matter how clean one keeps the house the neighbors bugs like to visit. If nothing else the curious little devils like to explore. When it rained the big ones would appear around the house, kinda like fast moving zombies from "Night of the Living Dead".

Almost a year has gone by since our move to the mountains and we had seen no roaches. Wanda was happy and I was happy. She's been traditionally the bug murderer as I'm usually still recovering from the sudden shrieking. Blood pressure and all that, you know. As any of you who may follow the continuing saga of the MacBean know, my last week was spent in Roanoke while love of my life remained at the Villa. A shriek over the phone is about the same as a shriek in person except the cause remains unknown which only adds to the suspense.

Evidently we had missed woods roach season last year. The bad thing about these critters, they are drawn to the light. The good thing, they are not to fond of the indoors. The other good thing is they seem to have only a short season. So roach season appears to be over and now it's tourist season.

I once worked with a woman whose last name was Roach. She was really nice but I think I would have added an umlaut or something.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Excuse Me While I Whine

So yesterday, after a half mile ride down Wild Mountain Road which pretty much describes the terrain and going through the gate with the pink plastic flamingos we were greeted at the door by the shotgun bearing policy holder. Once he found out the purpose of our mission the demeanor changed, the shotgun was put away and we had a pleasant conversation.

It seems that even in the wilds of SW Virginia strange vehicles with even stranger people find their way into these back roads. In what would appear that in an area which has little or no criminal activity there are persons bent on doing evil. The mans neighbors had been recently burgled.

Although people generally don't like to be bothered by insurance salespeople they are usually at least cordial, even when they say they're "not interested". But, even at best, door to door sales can be a discouraging endeavor. There are many who enjoy this kind of work, however the two individuals residing at Villa MacBean do not. It takes all the will power we can muster to drive the several hundred miles each day going from driveway to lane to driveway, in and out of the car and knocking on strange doors.

There was a time not long ago when I really enjoyed talking to people, even people I didn't know. Wanda would get upset when I would get into long conversations with the guy at the service station or store. Those days and conversations are gone. I (and I hope it's only a temporary thing) don't any more enjoy talking to people I don't know. I have always enjoyed driving about but it's now become a chore.

I've never been long in a job I didn't enjoy. There is so much more to life and I feel this business draining the pleasure from my being. I know we will quit before long and my joy will return. The problem of slim job pickings in the area remains. One problem we encounter is the neighborhood in which we live is perceived as wealthy and people who domicile here don't need or want to work.

Things, I know, will get better. And there are a lot of people in worse shape than we.

OK, I'm better now. Thanks for listening.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006


The address bar at the top of my screen has gone missing. I've tried the suggestions from "help" to no avail. Needless to say it's an important aid in putting links on the blog. Any suggestions?

Of Falsehoods and Fungi

Our beagle alarm clock went off late this morning and Wanda and I got an extra hours shut eye. What started out as a cloudy day on the mountain has turned sunny. A sign of hope.

The people who have the Orchard Gap Deli as suddenly as they offered withdrew the offer for us to lease same. The reason given was somewhat "lame". The real reason remains a mystery. Somewhat disappointed, love of my life and I have come to the conclusion it's a good thing. Better for them to show their true colors now than later after we got into the thing. Before I moved here I had an almost naive feeling that people generally kept their word. After my experiences job hunting and now with this, my faith in peoples veracity is rapidly declining.

April came and went and I did not find one morel. Several people reported finding an enjoying what many consider the most desirable of all mushrooms. Maybe it's because I didn't know where to look or maybe it's because they disguise themselves well among the leaves.

I've had a love of wild mushrooms ever since I was a kid and Jess Devers, the local grocer in the small town where I spent some of my youth took me mushroom hunting. We would return with bags of unusual but very tasty fungi my grandmother would fry up for dinner. I once found a puffball mushroom over 24 inches in diameter. I think my grandmother canned about 6 quarts from it. One of the wonderful things about living on Groundhog Mountain is there are wild mushrooms growing in the yard.

Wanda, ever the cautious one, had trepidation about eating them. Her fears were calmed when I took all the necessary precautions about identification, taking a spore print and the rest of it. As they say "There are old mushroom hunters and there are bold mushroom hunters, but there are no old, bold mushroom hunters."

What I find, much to my delight is the Corrugated milky (lactarius corrugis) . These will start popping up this month and continue through August. They are listed as "choice" in the guides and they are. The nice thing is these grow in profusion, right outside my door. This year I anticipate a freezer filled with these delectable morsels.

Another variety I find here, though not as common are Oyster mushrooms. These appear on fallen oak logs in the summer. There are others, boletes and such which I wasn't able to identify our first year here. This year will find me with my several guidebooks becoming more informed about what is edible and what is not. Who I really need to find is another Jess Devers.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Thursday With Fred

Sometimes things just work out. Like the time I finally met Fred First, he of Fragments From Floyd and author of "Slow Road Home" . It was back in 2002 I started reading Fragments after our first visit to Floyd, Va. A link on the towns website directed me to Fred who, even then, was giving a sense of place to this mountain community. As our plans to move to this area came closer to fulfilment Fred provided a connection to this part of the world we would soon call home. By the time we made the move a year ago I felt like Fred had become an old friend whose love of nature and this part of the world he readily shared.

Bent Mountain library is on the way to Roanoke where I was staying coming from Willis where I was working. Fortunately, the hotel had a computer in the lobby and when I saw Fred was giving his first public reading at the library on Thursday it was a "no brain-er". It was just a matter of timing to arrive at 7 PM.

Fred greeted me with that "I know you from somewhere look" and when I told him who this guy with the necktie (a rather unusual accoutrement for Bent Mountain) was it was like old friends meeting. His reading was as entertaining a hour as I've spent and was kept on track by wife-director, Ann. And I was the first person to purchase his book at his first public reading.

Book Review:
Fred's book is a delight. It is like an expanded blog which one can easily pick up and read at leisure. He covers a variety of subjects from wonderful sensory descriptions of nature to the odd occurrences which in one form or another happen to us all. Throughout the book is a sensitivity to the world around us, to people, animals and the wonders of the natural world. "Slow Road Home" is unique for these words from someone who is first a remarkable photographer are written with a cameras perspective. The vignettes focus on a subject and illuminate the subtleties not always realized. In "Slow Road Home" Fred not only lets us join him on his to quest find his sense of place but also points out the many wonders along that journey.

Important Stuff I Learned This Week

How Smart Is Your Right Foot?

This will boggle your mind! And you will keep trying it at least 50 more times to see if you can outsmart your foot. But you can't!

1. While sitting at your desk, lift your right foot off the floor and make clockwise circles with it.

2. Now, while doing this, draw the number "6" in the air with your right hand.

Your foot will change direction!

I told you so... and there is nothing you can do about it!

To Have a friend you must first be a friend,
To be a friend you must trust that friend.