Tuesday, January 31, 2006
Tagged For Eight At One Hundred
OK, guess I'll have to use the thousand words. Just lost half of you didn't I. These aren't in any particular order as they are the product of my unordered mind.
1. Intelligence. I knew she was because she found me. I had nothing to do with it. I would have some how botched it up .
2. Sense of humor. See above.
3. Cleanliness. Now this woman is clean! She picks up my crumbs, tells me to wash my hands and last night I had to change my shirt because I got some dirty laundry against it. I kid her about it but wouldn't have it any other way.
4. Inner beauty. My wife has the most beautiful soul. Her thoughtfulness is amazing. Her care for me is inspiring. She radiates her selflessness for all to see.
5. Outer beauty. I tell her she is. She tells me, "You so kind". I tell her, "I'm an artist, I know beauty". Don't get me wrong on this, I have a nephew who finds beauty in the Reubinesque shape. It's really in the eye of the beholder.
6. Spirituality. She has a very strong faith in God. One of her first questions to me was, "Are you a Christian"?
Her father was notorious for the biblical quote, "Wives obey your husbands". I guess it took because she follows my lead in all the important decisions. I can hear the gasps now, but let me finish that biblical quote,
" And husbands love your wife even as Christ loved his church". Christ loved his church enough to give up his life. That's the way I feel about it. Notice however I say the "important decisions", the less important are a different story.
7. Determination. When Wanda wants something there's no stopping her. Going shopping together is like taking a kid. She will preserver till all hope is gone and the rekindle the hope. I must admit there is a fine line between preserverence and stubbornness.
8. Faithfulness. We're joined at the hip. Nuf said? Our first five months here on Groundhog Mountain we were not separated for more than an hour or two. Now you know it's real when you can be that close to your partner that much of the time and not wind up in divorce court. Even now we find it difficult to be apart.
So there you have it. Could I have found anyone with all these qualities with out Gods help, I don't think so. Oh yeah, we have little spats but they're futile because neither one of us is going anywhere.
Monday, January 30, 2006
The Park Service keeps them around for local color, I guess. It seems a shame that these homes where once children played and families experienced joys and sorrows now sit empty. Faceless windows looking out over the mountains with a longing for someone to return.
If there are three from Mile 195 to Mile 2oo on the parkway how many more are there along it's 400 or so mile length? There is something wasteful and perverse about this. Our government buys up perfectly good homes to let them sit. It makes no sense.
Sunday, January 29, 2006
Couch Potatoe Made Easy
Saturday, January 28, 2006
Is What We're Losing Worth It?
I found the following over at Fred First's Fragments From Floyd , another fellow who escaped the city for the wonder of these mountains. Fred, who has a strong scientific background, is very concerned about environmental issues. Besides being a First (pun intended) rate journalist Fred is an excellent photographer.
I suggest reading the whole article as it is extremely well written and will send a shiver down the back of anyone who values nature more than asphalt.
My generation is weighed down by a sadness we do not know we feel. The promise was whispered melodiously in our ears sometime after the enjoyment of the great treasures beneath the TV dinner's foil and before the deep velvet of sleep in our soft, footed pajamas. The delivery, we have discovered by now, is not as we were pledged. The disparity is so geologic that we risk our necks attempting to view the whole towering thing. The velocity of change has picked up a bit: no longer can we disregard it as some crumbling old history. What is lost was here just thirty or forty years ago, and thus it is written all over the pages of your life. But still you don't know what can be done. Each announcement comes wrapped in its own fait accompli: this going, this coming, look out, look away, cry alone, it's done. The golf course, the road, the stores, the cutting, drilling, stripping. Your village in England sitting next to the planned town that grows ever upward, ever out. Your center city losing another century house and gaining one more superfluous drugstore behind its Indian Ocean of parking lot. Those old farms bearing new billboards of what's to come: forty huge houses of Frankensteinian architecture unmoored from any landscape to float just above its treelessness. Your ancient mountaintop a resort and vacation homes. That Beaux Arts post office a Popeyes Chicken and Biscuits. This revered battlefield fertilized with men's blood a shopping center. The dirt road paved. The paved road once two lanes, now four; once four, now six. The crossroads with no light gets its signal. The march of time keeps marching, the army bigger every day.
Our numbers keep growing and people must live somewhere and have roads to get them to and fro. Places to shop are necessary and what would we ever do without the fast food culture. Where and when, if ever, will it stop? Progress is, of course, necessary but at what cost? Will proactive ever replace reactive with the planners trumphing the developers?
It's happening in the mountains already. A farmer told me only yesterday of the constant stream of developers knocking at his door wanting to buy land to "develop". He values his heritage, home and 200 plus acres more than the money offered. He also said it's very hard for the small farmer to get by what with things like a no frills tractor going for over sixty thousand. Maybe if more people would just suck it in, instead of caving in to the big bucks, there's an off chance the earth and nature some of us regard as more than a parking lot for the big box store may, just may survive.
Just Another Day From Capt. B.
And They Call This Useless!
Thursday, January 26, 2006
Waiter! OH, WAITER!!!
A good waiter is made up of a combination of skills. He must be personable but not overly friendly. Knowledge of the menu is a must, not only the item but the ingredients and the cooking method. There is the whole language of wine to be learned. Patience with the finger snappers and the kids dropping food all over the station which he must clean. Three tables demanding attention simultaneity. The kitchen having a bad night and the abuse chefs are notorious for. Balancing a tray loaded with dinners while negotiating a crowded room and some guy asking for a match and not kidding. Making sure the his tables are correctly set and the silver and glassware are spotless. Folding hundreds of napkins. Collecting from a twelve top who all insist on separate checks. All of this while calmly smiling and making sure the patrons in his charge have a absolutely wonderful time even though the kitchen is on fire and the bartender just walked out and the busser, completely stoned, is trying to put the make on the salad girl.
It is with this in mind I refer you, dear readers, to Waiter Rant. Anyone who can pull over a hundred comments on their posts has to be saying something. Shoot, in the time it takes to post a comment three or four have jumped in. Anyway, he's been nominated as one of five best blogs at the Sixth Annual Bloggies and I may be prejudiced but I think he deserves to win. He's up against some big guns so your vote will be appreciated. So while I run to the storeroom looking for that Hosin Sauce for your rare, but not pink, tuna, take a minute to lift the finger and vote for a very entertaining professional.
James Beard Was Much More Interesting
1. More than 40% of adults in the U.S. have worked in the restaurant industry at some point during their lives. (now I know why we're so messed up)
2.McDonalds California Cobb Salad with Crispy Chicken - without dressing - contains more fat (18g) than one of the restaurants regular cheeseburgers (12g). (now I know why I never eat there and California should give you a clue)
3. 14,000 The number of convenience stores in Texas. That's one tenth of the U.S. total. (I know Bush will be blamed but it's really Cowtown Pattie's fault)
4. Winter fishing makes up nearly one fourth of the annual catch in Wisconsin. (Maybe it's because winter makes up one fourth of the year or just maybe that's what Livey is really up to)
5. Peanuts were so important to the Peruvians that they buried pots of them with their dead to accompany them on their journey to the hereafter. The tomb of one ruler, discovered in 1987, was found to contain necklaces of made of large gold and silver peanuts. (Goober peas, goober peas, eatin goober peas)
6. In 1919 the average American had to work 157 minutes to buy a 3 pound chicken; today it takes 14 minutes. (not counting the time in the checkout line).
7. The average bottle of sparkling wine or champagne contains approximately 44 million bubbles. (I counted them and that's 2 million off)
8. In a joint study by the University of Illinois and Pennsylvania, adults who were offered six colored flavors of jelly beans mixed together in the same bowl ate 69% more than when each color was placed in a single bowl. (It was a "joint" study, right!)
Look Out! I'm a Pirate In A Mercedes!
I'm a Mercedes SLK!
You appreciate the finer things in life.
You have a split personality - wild or conservative,
depending on your mood. Wherever you go, you like to travel first class.
Luxury, style, and fun - who could ask for more?
Take the Which Sports Car Are You? quiz.
Wednesday, January 25, 2006
It's A Pirate Life For Me!
My pirate name is:
Mad Davy Flint
Every pirate is a little bit crazy. You, though, are more than just a little bit. Like the rock flint, you're hard and sharp. But, also like flint, you're easily chipped, and sparky. Arr!
Get your own pirate name from fidius.org.
I Got the Day Off To Celebrate.
My darling wife has given me the day off. She's going out with the sales manager. I have promised to stay out of trouble and wash my hands. I carry on a lot about her and her hand washing but it one of the most important methods to stay germ free.
Yesterday we rode around the Woodlawn area collecting premiums. I'm getting to know these back roads rather well, thank you. Woodlawn is where Harmon's is located. Besides having a huge selection of western wear there is a museum of local history. And there is a lot of local history.
We returned to Heritage Road which we had tried to navigate Monday evening after dark. Heritage is hardly more then a dirt road off through the woods and since we weren't sure where it would lead decided to return in daylight. After many twists and turns around the branch above we came to our destination, the Summers place, a small farm which had been in the family for generations.
While the women were doing the insurance thing I had a pleasant conversation with Arliss Summers. It seems even in that remote spot there was development. An acre is going for 50 to 60 thousand and folks from Florida are now living on the ridge above the farm. There have been three houses go up in our little development in the six months we've been here. We talked about the evergrowing drug problem and how he was now having to lock his doors. I learned that beef cattle are better then dairy because they don't have to be milked. Wanda came out of the house laughing because I had a farmer to talk to. She swears I've truly found my element.
At one stop the daughter had fallen and hit her head and was now suffering amnesia. A couple hours later we stopped at the Davis'es and Mr. D., a contractor, had fallen, injured his back and hadn't worked since October. When Wanda was telling him about the daughter with amnesia, he said he knew the family and the father had been there earlier the same day to do some work. It's like that around here, everyone knows everyone. Except us, but even though we're new to the area we're learning fast.
We stopped by the brick masons to give him his four dollars and met his lady friend who is a nurse and a shop-a-holic. The house is chock a block full of stuff and she attempted to show it all accompanied by a running commentary. I must say her rock collection is as impressive as his arrowheads with both collections spilling out into the carport and brick planters in front of the house. Her constant descriptions of the various stuff made it almost impossible to get away. Thankfully, she couldn't find the Yanni CD amongst the clutter.
So today I'm taking care of all those necessary little annoyances I couldn't do. like pay some bills, change the outside light bulb, and take down the Christmas tree. Don't laugh, our first year together it was up until July when we finally had to cut it up and send it off in garbage bags. It made the house smell so good. My friend in Florida, Bill, once left his up all year. The way the holidays are rushed any more that may become the thing.
I am reminded by Binty McShea today is Robert Burns birthday and any who even knows someone Scottish or of Scottish descent should raise a glass to the bard. If ya' don't have a Haggis handy, you may find one here.
In honor of my Brother Freemason absent from us till the day breaks and the shadows flee:
Masonic Song 1786
SongTune: "Shawn-boy," or "Over the water to Charlie."
Ye sons of old Killie, assembled by Willie,
To follow the noble vocation;
Your thrifty old mother has scarce such another
To sit in that honoured station.
I've little to say, but only to pray,
As praying's the ton of your fashion;
A prayer from thee Muse you well may excuse
'Tis seldom her favourite passion.
Ye powers who preside o'er the wind, and the tide,
Who marked each element's border;
Who formed this frame with beneficent aim,
Whose sovereign statute is order:-
Within this dear mansion, may wayward Contention
Or withered Envy ne'er enter;
May secrecy round be the mystical bound,
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
So Little Time, So Many Blogs
Driving these mountain roads is not like the interstate. The steep ups and downs and hairpin curves take constant attention. Our Toyota Celica loves this kind of driving and I do also but it's takes a toll. We get home around seven PM, my old eyes tired and my old back aching from sitting in the car all day. Last night it was all I could do to stay awake during "24" and was forced to skip "Medium" all together opting for the warm comfort of the waterbed. Fisal's usual prowling around the bedcovers didn't even disturb.
I can understand Wanda's having some trepidation about visiting these remote areas alone. She's a city girl and a beautiful woman at that. But this is not the city and the people here are not from "Deliverance". I think once she gets some time in she will become more comfortable going solo.
Our last stop yesterday was at a brick masons who had a remarkable collection of arrowheads he had found while working on various foundations. We didn't have change for his premium payment so he said to just keep the four dollars. We'll leave it in his mailbox today.
Well, got to google the days driving instructions.
Just because I can't leave a comment doesn't mean I'm not paying attention. We may not agree on everything but that's a good thing. If we all thought alike what a boring world this would be.
It's a beautiful, sunny day, maybe I can get some pictures.
Monday, January 23, 2006
Sometimes Retired Is Only a Word
Sat. evening was a church men's fellowship dinner. By the time I got home I was tired and went to bed.
Yesterday, it was church in the morning and then football in the afternoon.
This is the buckle of the bible belt and there is a church every half mile or so. It's the social center of the communities and very important to most people here. And church rocks! Music is a very important and traditionally the wellspring of many country musicians. It's a joyful sound that has even the most placid of us standing and clapping to the music. The piano player at our church is the member of a professional and well known country music family and it's worth going just enjoy the tunes. There's a welcome and welcoming quality in this small congregations I never found in the larger big city churchs I attended.
On to football. It really didn't matter to me who won the Pittsburgh/Denver game and the way Carolina played they deserved to lose. In any case the Superbowl should be a good game as the Steelers and Seahawks seem to be pretty evenly matched.
So love of my love and I are off to Blacksburg today. She to make our fortune in the insurance industry and me to drive. I did google the directions to the various places we need to visit so it could be a little easier today. Sometimes my perception of the obvious is amazing.
The fog has lifted on the mountain and in my mind and we're off.
Saturday, January 21, 2006
Thanks to guys like Capt. B and his buddies we are reordering the terrorist agenda. If the bad guys were being successful there would be no talk of negotiation. It's not in their nature. And of course there's threats. What's he going to say, "If you don't negotiate I'll just go away". I don't think so.
OK, So That Was Friday
It's one of those mornings on Groundhog Mountain. But at least it's not cold. So far the weather up here this winter has not been as bad as the winters we had in Baltimore. The worst of it is the fog...er clouds.
Love of my life has gone off the meet the bipolar (at least I think so) manager for some business stuff. Later on today we're driving to Roanoke, about 60 miles away for some more business stuff.
Yesterday I chauffeured her around while she made her insurance calls. We drove down some narrow back roads around the sides of mountains and then back roads off the back roads. . I don't know how the guys who sold the original polices found these people. There are still many isolated areas around here. In many cases that isolation brings with it a beauty that is found in very few places any more. We got home about seven PM, she tired from talking and me tired from driving. We really appreciate the gas mileage of the Toyota Celica.
Wanda was getting frustrated because most places were, needless to say, difficult to find. She calmed down when I told her it was like a drive in the country, which she's always enjoyed, with occasional stops.
I called Phyllis who had called me from Primland where I had applied for a job. She wanted to know if I was still interested, which I am. The GM will be out of town until the sixth of February and he does the hiring. Phyllis and I had a good conversation the gist of which was I'll call back on the sixth and she will make sure I get an interview. I do have an advanced degree in schmoozing.
Primland is a huge upscale hunting and fishing resort right down the road in Claudville. It's a little known place with high profile guests. Right now they are in the process of putting in a golf course. There's a fine dining restaurant and rental cottages. I have a good feeling about working there and maybe it will come to pass.
Friday, January 20, 2006
Doe Run Resort is about a mile down the road. It has a good restaurant with fantastic views and condo's as well as villas. More on that later. It's just one segment of a day that started out great and went rapidly over the edge.
Wanda has been working the new job about a week and has been training with her manager. They meet at Micky D's and head off to knock on doors and pedal insurance. Since we only have dial up I have to wait for manager to call before I can go off blogging. OK, she finally calls, love of my life heads off to Hillsville, twenty miles or so down the road. I'm cheerfully commenting away when I hear the car on the drive. It's eleven thirty and my poor wife has been sitting in a parking lot for over an hour and a half waiting.
Our calls result in messages left on the unanswered cell. Wanda is in a tizzy because it's a morning wasted and I'm in a tizzy because "if something is wrong with my baby, something is wrong with me". Finally we get a call back with the information that she was there and didn't find Wanda. Now the tizzy has turned to pissed.
My wife, who by now, needless to say, is not in a good mood, says she's going to call on some friends and see if they can give her some leads. I'm off to Mt. Airy to resolve a paper towel and vodka crisis. I did find out booze is cheaper in North Carolina then Virginia. And if you read this Sandy, I got gizzards!
When I got home pissed had turned to depression. Our friend Randy, who has the art gallery, told her he's really up against it. Can't find work, no traffic in the gallery, and he's up here pretty much by himself. He said he was alone over the holidays. I said "why didn't he come over"? I guess he didn't want to mess up our holiday by crying on our shoulder. But what are friends for?
The homeowners at Doe Run rent their digs when they aren't using them. For many it's their second home. Randy lives there full time. The rental is handled by the people who own the restaurant and is seasonal. Well, the owners are rightly upset because when the restaurant owners closed they took all the linen, all the toilet paper, including the rolls in use, out of the units. Not only that, they had the phones turned off. So here come the residents to use their homes which are now sans phone, bed sheets, towels and t.p. Doe Run is no longer pleasantville.
Now we're depressed about Randy and our friends at Doe Run and the job. As with any story worth it's salt, when you think things can't get worse, they do. I found a nice round steak, marked down (going out of date) and since round steak has to be cooked a while decided to make German steak rolls. You know, with mustard, bacon, pickles, onion and then simmered in stock. I'd never made these for Wanda before but felt secure because I've never made anything she didn't like...until tonight.
She went to bed early.
One good thing did happen. I got a call from an upscale resort in Claudville, fairly close, where I had submitted an application. I've got to call them in the morning and arrange for an interview. Maybe some good will come out of this day yet.
The Nag Champa, the hot toddy (bourbon, honey, lemon and hot water) and this post are finished and so am I.
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
Here, There and Wednesday
It's one of those mornings on Groundhog Mountain. The weather gods can't make up their mind. It's a brisk, friendly cold. The sun, dodging in and out of the clouds, gives a sort of kaleidoscope effect to the landscape. The pic on the left is taken from the front of the house and the one on the right from the back. The dramatic changes in elevation cause sun and shadow fight with other for attention. It's like those Florida thunderstorms where a monsoon is happening out the back door and the sun is shining out the front.
Talk about extremes? Try this.
I've set thousands of tables when I was working as "foodie". Anywhere from several to several hundred. Several hundred was an assembly line kind of procedure. Put down the forks then put down the knives then fold and put down the napkins and on and on. For those of you who are place settingly challenged here you go.
This one is for Cowtown Pattie and Guy K. or any other cowpolks out there.
Back when my eyes were a little better I spent a lot of time assembling and painting military miniatures. I have a lot of respect for people who do miniatures in what ever medium. And when it's coupled with my enjoying "Lord Of The Rings" . ..wow! Thanks to (would you believe) Bane (enter at your own risk) for the link.
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
What's Happening Now?
How Secure Is Your Job?
I see what's happening with the auto workers and the airlines and wonder if this trend can be checked. As we approach a more global economy only more of the same , I'm afraid, can only be expected. When I call most any customer service number I am connected to someone in India trying to explain a complicated issue in poor English. Speaking of India I see where they and China have formed a partnership to gain more control of the worlds oil production.
Not only jobs but more and more of American dollars are going to other countries. And yes, it means lower cost of consumer goods here, but at what price in the long run? Are cheap goods now worth the erosion of our economy that has begun and can only accelerate?
That is coupled with the total disregard for the American worker what with CEO's making astronomical salaries while the worker is forced to face increasingly higher costs of living with not much relief in sight and more and more jobs vanishing. Now some may think they are secure in their jobs and it can't happen to me. That's exactly what workers in the furniture industry thought. But it has happened to them and where will it stop?
It is not without good reason that greed is one of the deadly sins. When accumulation of wealth becomes more important then the quality of life everyone suffers in the end. Ours is a great county with great opportunity but what if opportunity is lost? I am appalled at the argument that illegal aliens are here because they are willing to take the service jobs Americans don't want. After spending my life in one service industry or another I found as much opportunity there as anywhere. The Marriotts and Hiltons didn't do so bad (well maybe except for Paris).
There is much to the Republican agenda that is admirable but it must be remembered that their economic focus is to further enrich the wealthy. The Democrats on the other hand want to give it to the poor. What about most of us in the middle? With the wealthy getting tax breaks and the poor unable to pay guess who gets the bill.
Some how we must regain respect and support for the American worker or the day may come when China will outsourcing jobs here because they can pay us less then the Chinese worker.
Monday, January 16, 2006
Hillbillies and Heather
According to this, Redneck, hillbilly and cracker are of Scottish derivation.
Thoughts With Thanks to Dr. King
My first impression was the crowd of people choking the street below. Approaching the railing the scene below came into view. There was the rough wagon drawn by a mule and bearing the coffin of the slain civil rights leader.
It was totally unexpected and an image which I shall never forget. I had watched the civil rights movement from a sympathetic distance but now I was privledged to come face to face with the struggle.
I had known people of color. The first, when I was no more then 5 years old, was Moses brought from somewhere in Africa to speak at my Grandfathers church. I remember being quite excited at this visitor from a place, which at the time, seemed as remote as the patriarch whose name he bore.
We moved from the small Indiana town to a very segregated St. Petersburg, Florida several years later. On the Gulf beaches where I grew up black people were subject to an arrest with prejudice if they were caught on the streets after sundown with no good reason for being there. They lived in a prescribed area of town and contact with other then my WASP friends was unheard of. Even Jewish people were banned from many clubs.
When I joined the Air Force my perspective changed considerably. Integration of the armed services has done as much to eradicate racism as anything. It was during basic training I didn't check the roster of night guard duty at the barracks and as a result was ordered to stand duty all night rather then the usual four hour shift. Halfway through I was startled when a voice said, "Hit the rack, I'll take over for you". It was a black fellow from Hattiesburg, Mississippi. I'll never forget the kindness of that fellow sacrificing his own rest for a white guy he barely knew. If I had been subjected to the injustices that he and his brothers had endured, I would have stayed in bed.
After I was discharged and returned to St. Pete it was while working at a local department store I met Carl. He was hired as dishwasher at the stores lunch counter. Soon he was promoted as the token black to the sales floor and we became friends and remain so to this day some forty years later. When I was driving a cab at night in the late sixties we'd meet up at the local Dobb's House after the clubs closed and the taxi business slowed. When I started showing up by invite at his families cookouts it was a strange experience for them and myself. I was soon considered one of the family. We would go to the black clubs and I was never made to feel uncomfortable, this white guy trying to dance with the sisters. It was not long after I started dating his sister in law, a relationship that lasted for almost twenty years. Our breakup was more for personal rather then racial reasons.
It was soon after I met the love of my life. She says she was disappointed that she was not the first black woman I'd known but she's by far the best person, black or white, I've been blessed to be close to. Her fathers mother insisted and made sure all her children had a college education and they all did at Carolina A. & T. where her Uncle J.P. was an instructor until his retirement. Her father was a cartographer for the government and one of her cousins is a eminent Baltimore attorney. These are not exceptions but the norm for a great number of African-Americans. I have often wondered at the missed potential of this country because of racism. DeToqueville in his classic "Democracy in America" prophesies that racism would be an almost insurmountable problem for the United States. I guess he hadn't counted on the likes of Dr. King.
I'm so thankful for all the people of color that have enriched my life. I'm so thankful for the sacrifices made by people like Dr. King. When it comes down to it, he did as much for white people as for his own. When I think back to the days of "white only" it seems like a time that should be remembered for the limitations it put not only on accommodations but also on our humanity. His adherence to change through non-violence is a creed that would serve us all well. The most amazing thing to me is the forgiveness displayed by black people to a white race which has been and still is to some degree, so inhospitable.
Sunday, January 15, 2006
What Happened To Saturday?
Fortunately the 30 to 40 mph sustained winds with gusts up to 65 mph have died down some. Yesterday love of my life and I had to drive to Lynchburg, Va for a rah-rah sales meeting with the company for which she is working. On the way home we had to dodge many branches in the road and several downed trees. It was a clear mountain evening with a tremendous full moon so bright at times I thought it it was a car following us down the parkway. The view from Rocky Knob was unforgettable with the winter clouds dancing over Rock Castle Gorge and the specks of light far below to the mountains beyond leading to the lights from a distant town.
Had to stop in Meadows of Dan for more gas. We took our favorite gas hog, the Pathfinder as we weren't sure of the road conditions on the way home. They had been busy at "the market" with people stocking up on gas and provisions in anticipation of the the growing bad weather. I have already learned to stock up on what we may need as travel may be treacherous.
The wind up here howls with a full orchestra of sounds and bends the bare trees. It's an awesome music like the constant waves I used to hear when there were heavy seas in the Gulf of Mexico. Mighty easy to fall asleep when on nights like these.
No blogging last night, no phone, no dial up, no internet. At least the electric only went out intermittently and only for a second so I settled down on the couch to watch football. Shortly after the beginning of the second half Appalachian Power and Light had enough and I was left with only the moonlight to enjoy. I thought about what it must have been like to live up here years ago with no electric and only the warming fire in the fireplace. OK, it's gas but it's still a fireplace. I went to bed. Sometime in the early hours the electric heaters kicked back on and we were back in mountain living comfort.
Time to get ready for the trip down the mountain to our little three room church in Willis.
More news from Groundhog Mountain later.
Friday, January 13, 2006
Sometimes I wonder Why I Left Florida
Hope You Don't Mind If I Namedrop
In my former life, as you may know if you checked my profile, I worked in the hospitality industry. The first job I had while in high school was bussing at a private club on North Reddington Beach in Florida. It was there the Frimax got into my bloodstream and though I tried I was never able to regin my normal physiology or for that matter, my sanity. Ya gotta be kind of crazy to do this kind of work.
The early years were spent learning the profession, and yes it is a profession. I tried my best to resist the jobs which I wound up taking. Restaurant kitchens in Florida were hot and for the most part managers were unbearable. There was, however, a certain satisfaction in completing a shift in front of a blazing broiler after almost removing a finger while cutting about two hundred pounds of grouper. It was never, even after I moved into management, a formal learning experience. Most of the training was and is done "on the fly".
My real enjoyment of the occupation came after I moved into the hotel end of the career. My first hotel jobs were in the "mom and pop" seasonal hotels which no longer exist in St. Petersburg. I was driving a taxi during the day and working at the hotel at night. Fortunately most of the hotel job involved just being there "in case" and I was allowed to sleep on the couch in the lobby. When I moved to Baltimore in '89 the real fun began.
I went to work for Marriott and after supervising the restaurant, room service and the bar was "promoted" to executive stewart. As such I was in charge of all the food and beverage equipment and managed the dishwashers and other cleaning personal. It was a terrible job dealing with undependable people who did one of the most important jobs. You know, clean dishes are necessary. I did gain a great deal of respect for these guys who did the job well.
The best job I had was Catering Service Manager. My responsibility was to see that meetings, social events, etc. went as they should and provide for the guests needs. I was given a red coat to wear and was the guy to see if you needed a flip chart or the meeting room reset in the next five minutes. I met some really nice people while doing that job. Don't mind me while I name drop.
I did a party for the entire 1994 New York Yankees baseball team. Bernie Williams is a soft spoken guy who plays classical guitar and Joe Torre arranged Sunday church services for the players. Brooks Robinson was often in the hotel, a real gentleman. One of the guys from "Journey" used my hairspray while Steve Perry and the group were having dinner in the restaurant. Fifteen Hall of Famers were there for the 100 anniversary of the Black Football Players. Alice Cooper is the nicest guy and I encountered him on two occasions. Cal Ripkin gave me his autograph. One of my fondest memories is of Tug McGraw reading "Casey At The Bat". Gayle Sayers hands were so messed up I had to put the hand out in the bag for him. Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage bought all 22 cases of Miller Lite we had in the cooler. "Night Of The Living Dead" is one of Wanda's favorites and Karl Hardman, Marilyn Eastman and George Romero gave me autographed pics for her. There was Earl Weaver, Bob Feller, Art Schell, and Doug Williams, Dr Ben Carson and Brian Billick. Ertha Kitt was there for the employee Christmas party and "bitch slapped" the busser Miles for fun. There were more but I don't want to get carried away and by now I'm sure you've had enough.
It was a fantastic career and as time goes by I'll post more on my past adventures. Like I said you've got to be kind of crazy to do that kind of work but it's a good craziness.
Thursday, January 12, 2006
Here's To The Corps
From the Halls of Montezuma
To the shores of Tripoli
We will fight our country's battles
On the land as on th sea.
First to fight for right and freedom
And to keep our honor clean;
We are proud to claim the title
Of United States Marine.
Our flag's unfurled to every breeze
From dawn to setting sun;
We have fought in every clime and place
Where we could take a gun;
In the snow of far of Northern lands
And in sunny tropic scenes;
You will find us always on the job
The United States Marines.
Here's health to you and to our Corps
Which we are proud to serve;
In many strife we've fought for life
And never lost our nerve;
If the Army and the Navy
Ever look on Heaven's scenes,
They will find the streets are guarded
By United States Marines.
Check the history of the Marines Hymn.
A Walk Down Orchard Trail
This is a repost of something I did a couple of weeks ago. Today the weather is perfect so I fired up my next to last Cuban cigar and took a walk. The light and my camera cooperated so I could get a few pictures of the walk down this path.
At the end of our road a path meanders along the side of the ridge through the rhododendron and oak trees until it comes to a shallow stream. You can hear the sound of the water as it gently rushes the thousand or so feet down into the Ararat valley long before the curve in the trail brings you to it. At the most ankle deep and four feet across it runs over the bedrock as it has probably done for centuries. Guarded by rhododendrons a small water fall feeds the brook. It emerges and then is lost again as it weaves it's lazy way around and over ancient rock. I feel it must be spring fed but have not been able to penetrate beyond the waterfall. Someday when energy allows I will climb the steep side of Groundhog Mountain forgoing the intense foliage and locate its source. Until then I will be content to enjoy the sounds of water on cool days and wade in the welcoming stream when warm weather comes. It is one of the real treasures of Gods earth, a secret place known only to a few where, like so many places in this area, all the nastiness of the world vanishes and I am left alone with my Creator.
Let Me Tell About My Operation
It started off at 6 AM (not my best hour) by having to drink three more glasses laced with what I found to be a repulsive tasting "Fleet". It was all I could so to get them down but being the stalwart person that I am I managed. Then it was multiple trips you know where.
As I may have mentioned before love of my life has NO sense of time and prescribes to the Gandolf theory in Lord of the Rings, "A wizard is never late but arrives just when he should". So when the 10 o'clock departure time arrived so we could be at the hospital in Mt. Airy at 11, I start having visions of hearing, "Sorry your late, now we have to reschedule" and going through the prep thing all over again. Did I mention it rainy and foggy yesterday and driving on these mountain roads would be slow? We made it with several minutes to spare.
The usually check in ensued. I got the cute little plastic bracelet, was asked my name and what I was there for several times. Then there was the "have you had" check list. While this was going on the needle sticking lady was doing her thing. She was the best, I hardly felt it. Needless to say by this time I was attired in one of those open back hospital gowns but I really didn't much care because whatever they were pumping into my veins was very calming.
Away we went to the procedure room with my expecting to sink into oblivion at any moment. It didn't happen. I was having pleasant conversation with the two nurses attending. I mean it was surreal. We're talking about what a charming little town Mt. Airy is and Doc Appler is blowing his nose and scratching his ear and talking about how to remove rust from a bicycle. So he unloads two hypodermics of what I hoped was the good stuff into the tube leading to my wrist. I commented on the foul taste of Fleet and the Doc says, "That's not the usual complaint". More conversation about the rusty bicycle and he says, "OK, roll on your side so you can see the TV". And then, my friends, the show began!
Now this is where I got the idea for a new reality show! I saw the whole thing and I have such beautiful intestines. I caught the action when the several polyps were snipped by this claw like thing. And it was flatulence in reverse because air is used to inflate this internal prophylactic. When the gas like pains got really intense Doc decided to call it quits. But other than the pain which everyone I've talked to about this failed to mention I was truly enjoying the show.
I got dressed and saw the pictures they took and was told what they clipped out was no big deal and come back in ten years. Of course Wanda said maybe I should do it again in five. I think ten will be soon enough.
Golden Coral is not my idea of fine dining but you can eat all you want and after not having anything since the previous day and that was only an egg and toast it was the eatery of choice and I ate until I stopped. In between courses I would run to the men's room to expel the air with which I had been earlier blessed. I think the Golden Coral staff thought I was doing the purge trick which in a way I was and they should have been happy I was doing it in the men's room.
So there you have it. It was all I expected and even more. Fun, no, but I have an intense feeling of relief knowing that all is well with my lower digestive tract and the proper method if I ever need to remove rust from a bicycle.
Where Does The Morning Go?
Speaking of lurking, Sheryl, over at Paper Napkin has been hosting her annual de-lurking week which has completely run amok. At this point after over two hundred and forty de-lurkers. I think she's ready for everyone to just go home. I encourage you to help with the further chaos by heading on over and saying hello.
It's going to be a beautiful day on Groundhog Mountain with temps in the 60's an I'm going to get out to enjoy it.
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
A Little Help From My Friends...
I don't think this will be overexposed on my blog but every little bit helps even if it's moral support. Lil Toni has put this on E-Bay with proceeds going to Project ValourIT . Here's a chance to own a rare Beatles cel and help buy voice activated computers for our service people who have lost hands and arms. Damn, I wish I had a few extra bucks. Lil Toni, who resides in the South (hand over heart) is doing a fine job of upholding the Southern tradition (hand over heart again) of supporting our men and women in uniform (both hands over heart). Lil Toni..., those legs... in those sexy black stockings ....
Tuesday, January 10, 2006
If Katie Can Do It....
I talked to my friend, Rob in "Chitown", who has had five so far. He says the worst part is getting ready for it. You know the "stay close to the john" syndrome. Today it's don't eat anything day. Soft egg and white toast for breakfast. OK so far, I like three minute eggs and can tolerate white toast although I like the whole grain better. But that's it. Nothing for the rest of the day except clear liquids. And yes, vodka is considered a clear liquid (I checked although Wanda thinks I'm lying about that). I'm gonna be hungry because broth just don't make it.
Tonite the fun begins. Before going to bed I take this stuff called "Fleet" and drink lots of water (make that "clear liquids"). Fleet reminds me of a bunch of ships (I think I misspelled that) or the speed maybe that one heads for the john (named for John Crapper, the most famous of plumbers). It's lemon-ginger flavor which is a vodka infusion I haven't tried...yet.
So tomorrow I take my hunger pangs and head for the hospital in Mt. Airy where Doc Appler will proceed to check out my intestines. I am convinced that doctors who do this sort of thing really earn their money. I wonder what makes these guys choose this specialty when they could pick something else, say like gynecologist.
Oh well, Rob says there is an up side, they give some really good drugs to knock you out.
Monday, January 09, 2006
GO NOW, READ!
Ready For Another Exciting Week?
The Today show just had an interview with Paul Bremmer, the former ambassador to Iraq, who has a new book out concerning his tenure in that country. I just Googled to find that link and most of the results were not complementary to the man. Interesting.... He reinforced my thought the administration did not anticipate the level of insurgency that has been experienced. It's just another facet that must be henceforth considered in this new type of wafare.
It's a warm day on Groundhog Mountain. Sunny and the temps supposed to hit the 50's. Think I'll job hunt. Love of my life, who told me yesterday she really didn't want me working has been praying I don't, is off to work. She is so protective and worries so much.
On to football, it's been quite a weekend! I hated to see Tampa lose, especially to the PC incorrect Redskins. I'm not much of a Jacksonville fan so that one really didn't matter to me. The good news is the Panthers put a real hurt on the Giants. It was kind of neat to see these guys from the back woods beat up on the city slickers. The best game so far this season has been Texas beating USC. Speaking of college ball I see that Virginia Tech has kicked Marcus Vick off the squad. His unsportsman like conduct in that last game, it seems, was the last straw. As if his previous DWI, speeding and pot possession weren't cause enough. In case nobody noticed we are in the heart of VT country. The school is about 60 miles from here and coach Beamer grew up in Fancy Gap, 10 miles down the road.
So it's off to greet the day, have a good one.
Saturday, January 07, 2006
Gods Waiting Room or Wrinklerama Plaza
Back then the railroad ran as in many southern towns through downtown and in St. Pete, a peninsula, terminated there very close to Webb's City. Back when rail was the travel of choice, winter visitors would pour off the train and into the many small seasonal hotels and guest houses in the area. Now the train terminates in Tampa and one is bussed to the depot away from downtown.
I remember when I achieved my twefth birthday I was invited by the Boy Scouts to a bithday celebration for all the boys in town with birthdays that month. It was 1952 and, of course, kids of color were excluded. There were maybe twenty five of us at the building on the pier approach that the last time I was there was a senior center. I never did join the scouts but I did know kids that did.
This was the old Municipal Pier. It was like a community center where all the old people would gather and play cards. Around the perimeter of the open central area were little stalls selling everything Florida from Orange Blossom Perfume (a classic scent) to stuffed alligators and post cards such as this. I worked on the pier at WSUN Radio & TV. I did the midnight to six air shift and then ran the one person art department. It was a great place to work except the year we had to evacuate the station due to the hurricane.
This is the pier today. It has a restaurant and I worked there too. There's a bunch of shops and other stuff.
Up until the sixties this was retirement central. I remember the furor when that bastion of capitalism across Alligator Alley, Miami, accused St. Pete of being an old folks home or something to that effect. Words, and if I remember correctly green benches, were exchanged. The green benches which lined the downtown area were an icon of the elderly. I can remember being the only person under sixty on a crowded bus.
The St. Petersburg I knew has changed. It's part of that megalopolis now known as "Tampa Bay" with all the problems and amenities so prevalent in large urban areas. It must still be a great place to live because people flock there and pay outrageous prices for housing. But gone are most of the green benches and the quiet summer nights along the bayfront. The gulf beaches have become so commercial you almost have to rent the sand. I left because I thought I was developing terminal "laid back". It's a malady like sticky arm from freshly picked Mangos that has been eradicated.
More pictures from the old St. Pete and the new here .
God Doesn't Sucker Punch
Primarily the Bible is a guide for getting us through this place which George Bernard Shaw referred to as a "lunatic asylum for inhabitants of other planets". What old Joel was writing about back then is true also today but in a wider context and not one that has to do primarily with the State of Israel. Isn't the whole world Gods land? Expanding on this "punishment" idea, we bring these chastisements on ourselves not because God wills them but by not following the rules. Judging by Mr. Sharons size, the stroke was caused more by diet then deity.
We are instructed to live a certain way because it benefits us not because God has an obsessive need for our obedience. Understand that God wants us to be happy and to live a joyful life. Doing what the Bible says is a way (not the only way but it works for me) to that happiness and after all isn't that what we all want?
Friday, January 06, 2006
Mountain Lesson #3 or Let There Be Light
Needless to say driving during this event becomes an adventure. A friend of mine told of making a turn and winding up at a right angle to the road. Navigation is by means of the line down the middle of the road or, if no line, the edge of the road and hopefully that road edge is not ajacent to the side of the mountain or as the case in point does not lead into a muddy ditch.
Monday was the first official day of my wife's new job. Because of the 100 mile roundtrip to Christiansburg the Toyota was the vehicle of choice. It gets twice the gas mileage of the Pathfinder not to mention being a lot more fun to drive on these mountain roads. The downside, no four wheel drive.
She left with the usual instructions, "I may be a little late getting home", "don't make a mess", "be careful", "please change the cat litter" . Fisal, shortly before, had been banished to the cold outside deck for peeing on the floor. If she were as good at letting us know when litter needed changing as she is at waking us in the morning it would be a beautiful thing.
The rain started about noon and continued until the clouds rolled in in the evening. The day goes by, no mess, careful and cat poop dully removed. It's about 7 PM and I'm drinking cheap vodka and watching Ohio State beat up on Notre Dame and not worried, not much, and certainly not about the misfortune of the South Bend Irish. After all she did say "I may be a little late getting home".
(A word about football to break the tension)
I like the game. With the advent of the season my wife and I have separate TV's. She remonstrates about being left alone until the final quarter of the Super Bowl. She should be happy, I detest B'ball and Hockey is like extreme figure skating with sticks. (Didja ever notice they like schedule figure skating the same times as football?). Baseball is OK if you like to watch guys spit tobacco. Any way I'm kinda glad the season is almost over, I'm starting see yellow lines and OD on chips. My enthusiasm for this icon of American culture will be renewed come August.
Suddenly and silently there was a wet and trembling apparition at the door. In a state of near hysteria she explained the car was in a ditch and it was a miracle she wasn't eaten by a bear or mountain lion. The good news, the car was at the entrance to our community. The bad news, the quarter mile walk down the DARK road in heels feeling her way from rhododendron to rhododendron. After sitting in the car (did I mention it was dark?) for about an hour blowing the horn and trying desperately to remember the code for SOS a new problem arose.
Not finding suitable facilities during the day and continuing to drink coffee, she had to pee. Wanda is very particular about cleanliness. I think "don't make a mess" is only second to "did you wash your hands?" . A result of this is a strong aversion to any "facility" except her own. It was on our first trip to Florida she finally had to resort to a public rest room because of the distance. She took a job close to her apartment so she could go home when nature called. I don't know if it was her state of frenzy or an uncontrollable urge (I think the latter) she dropped trou beside the car and relieved herself. When she told me that I knew the situation was beyond serious and I was begininning to understand her frenzy . I, of course, immediately asked, "did you wash your hands"? (you know I've got to be kidding about that) After much sympathizing and getting both ourselves back to some semblance of rational thinking we were on the phone to AAA.
A word about AAA. We've been members for years and it's more then paid for itself. Back in the day when we we driving less then dependable cars I can't remember the times they towed and changed tires and unlocked doors. When we lived in Baltimore one could watch several NFL games, clean out the basement and cook a pot roast before they showed. I expected a long wait here in the boonies but they were prompt considering it's a bit of a drive comming from Hillsville...on a foggy night. Scott and Dave, really nice guys considering they were crawling around in a muddy ditch, had the car back on the road in no time.
All that was left to do was gingerly drive back to the house, get comfortable, sympathize with love of my life (she thrives on it) and drink more cheap vodka. Oh yes, and wash my hands.
We now have flashlights in both cars and I'm trying to figure out how to have reflectors placed along the side of our road.
Wednesday, January 04, 2006
Yesterday coming back from Galax I passed by and there were in the graveyard behind this church two freshly dug graves next to each other covered by the usual green canopies.
Sunday night we got a call from Granny asking if we remembered a couple who frequented the restaurant at Doe Run Resort where we had worked. We couldn't put faces with the name. The husband had shot his wife and then killed himself.
Even in this beautiful place tragedy walks among us.
It's Wednesday Again?
Penn State beat Florida State last night in the Orange Bowl. It was a good game that went into three overtimes and one something o'clock in the AM. With over a hundred yards in penalties FSU deserved to be beat. Until South Florida started playing the game FSU was my team. Couldn't stand the gators and Miami is in another country.
Fisal tried to wake us this morning to let us know the trash can needed to be rolled down the drive. It didn't work. Fortunately we were light on the trash this week. We may have to mash the trash till next week but should be OK.
Flat tire on the Pathfinder. Call AAA. They were just out here Monday night. Didja, and I'm sure you did, put together a obviously award winning post only to have it vanish when the wrong thing was moused? That's what happened to the Monday night fog adventure which I will attempt to again recount.
Yesterday I got a call from the guy at the Comfort Inn that asked if I could type. I went in for an interview and he asked again if I could type. Good thing he doesn't follow up with "how well". But it looks like I may have front desk job there.
They're laying off more people at the furniture manufacturing plants in Galax. At one time that was a major industry in this area but with the competition from China many of the companies have been forced to cut back. There has been at least one similar announcement a month in the six months since we have been here.
I really feel for these people. Education here has not been a priority and these jobs have been a mainstay for the economy. When job cuts were announced at the Basset plant in Mt. Airy a while back the mayor there came out with the obdurate remark, "that will give them the opportunity to find new employment".
And then there's that mine tragedy about a hundred miles from here in W. Virginia. The scenes of that area and the people strike close to home. The church where the people gathered is like so many in this area.
logging off now, got to call AAA
Monday, January 02, 2006
Thought I'd post a picture of our back yard this rainy day on Groundhog Mountain. The weather outside is frightful but the view is so delightful. This is on the north side of the house which rises up to the top of the mountain lookout on the Blue Ridge Parkway about a quarter mile away as the crow flies.
It's been relatively warm here with daytime temps in the 40's and 50's. Most of the ice has melted but we found a few treacherous places on the parkway around Mabry Mill on our way to church yesterday. Headed the wrong way among the rhododendrons was one car whose driver didn't take good care on the slippery roadway.
We saw Granny, the Midget, Toothpick and her boyfriend and Dad at church. Granny is younger then myself and a mountain native as are the rest of her family. Arless, better known as "the midget" is her brother. He's found a job helping install septic tanks, a necessity in this area in more ways then one as there are no sanitary sewers. He says it's kind of on the job training. Toothpick is Grannies daughter and Dads granddaughter and, you guessed, it the Midgets niece. I can't remember her name because everyone calls her Toothpick.
Arless has one of those, what the Beatles used to call, "puddin' basin" haircuts. You know, put the bowl over the head and cut around the edges. I have had trouble understanding Dad's mountain speech until yesterday after church when had a plug of tobacco in his mouth and then I got every word he said in between the expectorates. It was one of those classic conversations; women talking over here, men conversing over there. We talked about men things like a better and shorter way to drive home and the times they've hit a deer with the car, a common and somewhat dangerous occurrence around here.
Arless said Rt. 638 was a lot straighter and less hilly then the route we've been taking. It turned out to be shorter and we didn't have to drive the unplowed parkway but I need to ask him about the "straighter and less hilly" part. We are constantly finding new and beautiful roads to travel and this was no disappointment. The family lives on Buffalo Mountain and has promised an invitation to dinner. Although they have an electric stove they still use the woodburner. I'm going to make sure they don't forget that promise.
Sunday, January 01, 2006
A New Years Wish
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action---
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.