Weather – Rain and More Rain

You really have to enjoy rain when you live on the SE coast of Texas. It doesn’t rain all the time, as a matter of fact, we’ve been through a bit of a dry spell. But when we get rain…We get rain. The past couple of days have brought anything from 4-18″ of rain. And it’s still coming down…No photos no fun.

Oh, and did I mention the wind and the heat….I heard the weather man say we were headed for 88 degrees tomorrow. Where did autumn go?

I took advantage of the weather to finish One Foot in Eden: A Novel by Ron Rash. I really enjoyed the read. I had to put the book aside last week before I read the whole thing in an evening. The way Ron Rash told this story through the eyes of the different characters was novel. The way he got into the minds of his characters and let you almost fell what it was like to hoe tobacco or cabbage. I look forward to picking up another of his stories.

Today I’ve gone back to reading some more of Finding A Clear Path by Jim Minick. I downloaded some of his essays through a link on Fred site last week and enjoyed putting a voice to is words. I am trying to read just a few sections at a time to drag out the enjoyment. ‘though, its nice to know that I’ll be able to earn a living in the mountains now growing “sang”. I like that it only takes a decade to harvest a crop…And I just love my ginseng tea.

The Industrial Agricultural Complex

Michael Pollan had an article in the New York Times that spells out many reasons for locally grown food. Writing about the recent E. coli contamination he had this to say…

The Vegetable-Industrial Complex – New York Times: “…if industrial farming gave us this bug, it is industrial eating that has spread it far and wide. We don’’t yet know exactly what happened in the case of the spinach washed and packed by Natural Selection Foods, whether it was contaminated in the field or in the processing plant or if perhaps the sealed bags made a trivial contamination worse. But we do know that a great deal of spinach from a great many fields gets mixed together in the water at that plant, giving microbes from a single field an opportunity to contaminate a vast amount of food. The plant in question washes 26 million servings of salad every week. In effect, we’re washing the whole nation’s salad in one big sink.

It’s conceivable the same problem could occur in your own kitchen sink or on a single farm. Food poisoning has always been with us, but not until we started processing all our food in such a small number of ‘kitchens’ did the potential for nationwide outbreaks exist.”

He also points out what is becoming increasingly clear to me…We shouldn’t be worrying so much about planes flying into buildings, we need to worry about one person in the processing plant with a bag of contaminant in their pocket…When the E. coli outbreak first started and the papers started reporting the outrageous statistics on the production of salad greens in one California valley I was already seeing the writing on the wall. Talk about having all of your eggs in one basket. When I commented on my fears to my wife she was unused to hearing me express such pessimistic thoughts about terrorism.

When Tommy Thompson retired from the Department of Health and Human Services in 2004, he said something chilling at his farewell news conference: “For the life of me, I cannot understand why the terrorists have not attacked our food supply, because it is so easy to do.”” The reason it is so easy to do was laid out in a 2003 G.A.O. report to Congress on bioterrorism. ““The high concentration of our livestock industry and the centralized nature of our food – processing industry-make them – vulnerable to terrorist attack.” Today 80 percent of America’’s beef is slaughtered by four companies, 75 percent of the precut salads are processed by two and 30 percent of the milk by just one company. Keeping local food economies healthy — and at the moment they are thriving — is a matter not of sentiment but of critical importance to the national security and the public health, as well as to reducing our dependence on foreign sources of energy.

I can already envision the government answer to this and it isn’t mine…More security on fewer places…A green zone, so to speak, where food is processed. Outsourced, of course, to KBR…

If nothing else, these outbreaks and their massive and overnight spread around the country should be a wake up call to the American consumer. Locally grown food is the best protection to any number of disasters – natural or manmade.

Fall Color

About the only tree around here that is beginning to show fall colors is this little maple in the yard next door. I used a bit of flash to bring out the colors against the sunrise on Friday…

Friday 13

My Grandpa Sewell always thought 13 was his lucky number. His place in Orchard, TX was 2.13 acres by deed. The “ranch” he bought before he retired was 213 acres…maybe 213 should have been his lucky number…
He would have considered Friday the 13 as a most auspicious day, and enjoyed it immensely. It would have tied in well with his favorite “holiday”, April Fools Day. My how he enjoyed catching you in an April Fools Day joke.
In his spare time he ran a nursery out back of the house. His specialty was Live Oak trees. Even the scar on his arm looked like the silhouette of a Live Oak. He always had a few hundred growing in 1 and 5 gallon paint cans he recycled from the highway department…They always had splatters of white and “highway yellow” around the rims. I can remember, as a young child, following him down the rows of trees as he drug a hose behind him splashing a couple of inches of water into each can. As a I grew up I thought how monotonous that job must be.
Now I envy him the meditative nature of the sameness. I understand the reason for the daily recording of rainfall. The monitoring of the windmill and the cement tank that held the water until it was needed for the trees (though at the time the cement tank was nothing but our private swimming pool). The slow but steady movement from tree to tree, the swing of the arm to move the stream of water from can to can. Filling each to the rim before moving to the next, up one row…down the next…back up again.
Another memory is of the small clay pots he filled with dirt and spread under the White Oak Tree that grew behind the old chicken house. Talk about taking the long view…Grandpa placed those pots to catch the acorns which would fall and sprout under the parent tree. You don’t get a lot of trees this way, but the ones you do get tend to grow on. Where this old white oak came from I don’t know, it was unusual for the area in which we live. I don’t know that I have ever seen another in this part of Texas. Grandpa always could grow things that were commonly not grown where he grew them. I think his thumb was green all the way to his shoulder.
Grandpa Sewell died on the 12th of January 1995 at the age of 88. I miss him.

Howard Eugene Sewell
7 Jan 1907 – 12 Nov 1995

TGIF Coffee Thoughts

It seems the morning email list is beginning to follow a pattern. The first couple of emails concern my blog traffic (and yes I do look), followed by my My-Cast Weather Report, followed by the Washington Post Headlines. From today’s Weather Report I see there is a nip in that mountain air with both Boone, NC and Floyd, Va reporting temperatures in the upper 30’s. Seems the temperatures should be right for the festivities coming up in the next couple of weeks…

The Post is reporting that the President is praising House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.). Is that the kiss of death or what? “Way to go Coach”. It really is time for a change. The wife and I were discussing the Kinky campaign here in Texas. We both sign his petition, but now she is feeling ashamed of her support at that time, seems Kinky really doesn’t know when to shut up. Oh well my support was a protest to start with but I think I’ll be voting for the only tacitly liberal candidate in the race, Mr Bell.

Time to hit the road…catch ya later.

Following my thoughts…

I read this phrase way down at the end of an interesting post…

the Contrary Goddess: This is me, this is who I am: “If it were not illegal, I could milk three cows and support my farm and family. The state prohibits me from the right livelihood my grandmothers knew.”

Which set me to thinking about how many of these “health” regulations are actually protecting the publics health or how many are just protecting the health of business’s bottom line?

Whatever happened to government of and for the people. Did it all change when the lawyers managed to get corporations fictionalized into people with bigger checkbooks?

Thursday Morning Coffee

As I read the morning news I see that fall has returned to the Blue Ridge. I was starting to worry. The daily temperatures were beginning to look to much like here. I am sure there are many folks in the mountains that were not complaining about the warmer than normal temps, but warm weather is not part of my dream.

The mornings Washington Post has an article that was interesting, In Pursuit of the Elusive Pawpaw. You know, like Barbara Damrosch, I have never had a Pawpaw. As a matter of fact I actually ate my first persimmon just last week.

The old children’s song makes it sound easy. “Where, oh where, is sweet little Susie? Way down yonder in the pawpaw patch. . . . Pickin’ up pawpaws, puttin’ ’em in her pocket. “

But where, oh where, are the pawpaws now? So scarce is this delectable fruit that most of us have never tasted one, let alone found a patch where they litter the ground, even though they’re native to most of the eastern United States.

If you are interested go read the article, she has links to resources at the end.

The clock says it’s time to hit the road…Ya’ll have a great day…later.

North Carolina Mountain Dreams

The name of this blog comes from my Dream that in the next few years I will have the opportunity to make my way to the Mountains to finish out my life there. The North Carolina comes in because it is where I first discovered the Blue Ridge. I spend my time between trips to the Valle Crucis, North Carolina area dreaming of the next chance I’ll have to walk these mountains of my ancestors. And each return trip home is that much more depressing.

For all of my guests who end up here looking for a blog based in the mountains, all I can say is come back often, one of these days it will be. Until then I’ll live my mountain dream virtually here online.

Since my interests are varied, and I’m still trying to find my voice, expect some experimentation along the way. One of the things that is important to me is photography, so expect to see regular posts with pictures. Sometime they will be from my mountain trips, but, mostly they will be from here in Texas. Texas is home, and therefore that’s what I have the opportunity to shoot…Believe me I would rather be shooting mountain landscapes.

Also, since this is my blog, I may post something totally out of left field (usually). Please, hang in there and we’ll find our way back to the mountains. Right now I’m only three months into the long…long spell between mountain vistas, so, mentally I haven’t started getting too terribly weird…yet. I get regular “fixes” from my blog friends in the mountains of NC and Virginia. I also have subscriptions to both “Blue Ridge Country Magazine” and “Our State” bringing in regular doses of the medicine I need to stay sane.