Looking Back on 2006

I have a lot to be thankful for in this past year.

It was a little over a year ago that I stumbled into the online Floyd County community and met (virtually) Fred, Colleen, Doug and David and all of their friends in Floyd County, Va. It was their examples that led me to start this blog (so, if you want to blame someone for these ramblings…).

It was the year we made our third family trip to the Valle Crucis area. I made my first trip up the creek my ancestors settled over 200 years ago and discovered that the valley is gorgeous. The view from the upper portions of the valley were breathtaking. I think, after spending time with the maps, that we were probably looking at the upper valley from the back porch of the cabin we rented for the week. After two trips to the headwaters of Clark’s Creek, the road to Nettles Knob is beginning to feel like going home. We are still dreaming our mountain dream from the flat coastal plain of Texas.

It was the year we became Grandparents. Who could have foreseen in the ’70’s that we would have ever come so far? Logan was by yesterday, and the boy is getting big. I can’t wait for him to get to the point where he’ll be talking.

It was our first anniversary trip to the shore instead of the hills. That means that at some point I am going to have to make a run northeast away from the coast for a little elevation. We did enjoy the stay on Padre and the view from the balcony overlooking the beach.

This was the year I met many interesting people online. To all of these folks, let me say

Happy New Year

Wednesday Coffee Muses

As I run out the clock on 2006 with some time off at home I find myself falling into my old (very old) ways of late nights and sleeping in mornings. I hope everyone out there reading this made it through the Christmas celebrations well and happy. I know we seem to have lived through another one without a major meltdown as a family though at times I understand parking was problematic.

The run up to Christmas this year was wet and gloomy weather-wise. Christmas day started cloudy with some misty rain (Sherry hates me calling those days Misty Rainy Mondays, but that’s exactly what we had), by late afternoon the clouds scurried south and the sun beat down and the sky took on that deep dark blue you only see after a cold front moves through.

The cold I have spent the last week fighting managed to force my wine consumption down to one small glass with my turkey and ham feast so I didn’t get to try any of the new ones I bought for the occasion. It’s a good thing that the family exchange of presents isn’t the production it was when the children were younger since most of our morning seemed to be spent in the kitchen over the stove preparing for the late luncheon.

I am quite happy with the presents I have received and only hope my choices were as well received. One of the greatest for an old TMEN fan was 30 years of digital articles from The Mother Earth News. I must admit I was worried about the presentation on these disks, since I have seen archives before that were simply scans of the magazine pages presented as pdf’s. I have always found that magazines presented that way just aren’t as enjoyable due to the nature of computer screens. TMEN chose rightly (imo) to reformat everything to html. My aging eyesite thanks them. I have only perused a few articles so far, but I think this may allow me to retire my 20 year collection of aging magazines finally. Anyone out there needing a full (mostly), well handled, many times read through couple of decades of Mother Earth’s?

The day after Christmas was spent mainly trying to recuperate. One quick trip to the warehouse store to restock the paper goods, a one way driving trip with the latest driver in the clan of Boyd, a stop at the local Chili’s for a nontraditional, non-homecooked, diet-busting burger for me and a steak for the wife and that was a day in the life…

I see in reading my morning email’s that President Ford has died at age 93. He was what we needed at the time and I find myself agreeing with Henry Kissinger’s assessment of his character…

In a passage on present-day politics, Kissinger drew an implicit distinction between Ford and subsequent White House occupants.

“The modern politician is less interested in being a hero than a superstar,” he wrote. “Heroes walk alone; stars derive their status from approbation. Heroes are defined by inner values, stars by consensus. When a candidate’s views are forged in focus groups and ratified by television anchorpersons, insecurity and superficiality become congenital. Radicalism replaces liberalism, and populism masquerades as conservatism.”

In Kissinger’s view, Ford was a leader in the heroic mold.

A great man, may he rest in peace.

source: Obituary: Gerald R. Ford, 93, Dies; Led in Watergate’s Wake – Washington Post

I see our new Congress will have it’s work cut out for it. One of the best indicators of how the Democratic leadership plans on changing the tone may well rest on how they handle this group…

Some top private-equity funds have joined to form a lobbying organization to head off potential regulation.

The new organization, the Private Equity Council, is backed by such leaders in the burgeoning business of company buyouts as Blackstone Group, Carlyle Group and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts. Douglas Lowenstein, president of the Entertainment Software Association, which represents the U.S. video game industry, will head the trade association.

Don’t you just love that list of founders? Can’t wait to see a list of Skull and Bones members on their Boards…

Source: Private Funds Prepare To Lobby – washingtonpost.com

And with all of that said I have a trip to the mall to look forward to…Wish me luck.

Photo of the Day

From last week…Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge

Christmas Morning Muse

“‘Tis the morning of Christmas
and all through the house
not a creature is stirring
not even my spouse”

As I sit this morning drinking my coffee and enjoying the still, quiet house I can’t help but remember Christmas’ past. Back before the youngest member of this household was 16 going on 25…In those days you were up half the night helping Santa by putting together all those bikes and kitchens and assorted other “some assembly required” gifts left under the tree only to be drug out of bed at first light for the photo ops. Now, if last year is any indication, the wife and I will be starting the dinner prep before the first youngster drags out of bed…

The sun is above the horizon and if it wasn’t so wet and cold I’d snap a sunrise shot…So on with the festivities.

An anniversary of sorts…

As I was looking at my blogger dashboard the other day I noticed I was coming up on an anniversary of sorts and this post is it…This post is number 200 on this blog. That really doesn’t mean much, I suppose, to any one but me. And the real meaning of the number is that I managed to keep putting something out here on a semi-regular basis. So thanks to all of you who happen to wander on by this neck of the virtual woods and sit a spell with me…Your company is appreciated.

Since the day is Christmas Eve and I’m sure everyone has finished their preparations, I won’t waste your time…Merry Christmas to all, may you get the blessings you deserve/desire for the day.

Yesterday I was enticed outside by the look of the clouds and the day. The following is the picture that resulted after running three exposures through Photomatix…

This is the view of the backyard from the house. Back past the trees is Mustang Bayou.

Enjoy the Holidays catch you down the road.

Building Communities

For some reason, it always amazes me to stumble across someone who understands the internet (or at least the way I think it should work). Dick Eastman, who writes online genealogy articles, pointed the way to Burr Morris of Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks and deserves the thanks for this find. After reading Dick’s post I wandered on over and discovered another online writer of place. Burr is a descendant of the pioneers of his part of Vermont and writes eloquently about the people and the place he calls home. Like many of the folks I have discovered of late, he too has a book out. He also publishes a newsletter (to which I now have subscribed). The following is from his newsletter archive…

Hello again maple people,
Things are starting to green up here in Vermont in spite of a chilly,
rainy post sugar season. We’ve finally gotten the fences fixed and today a
stock trailer backed up to our acreage out front. A guy got out, critically
scanned the electric fence and lowered the trailer’s tailgate. Inside, a
small herd of mixed bovines stood, dirty from winter stalls and confused
about their future. With a little prodding, they slowly sniffed their way
down the tailgate and onto the green grass. The cow guy and I watched,
knowing contact with the grass would trigger a ritual of spring I love to
watch. Sure enough, those critters didn’t let me down. They blatted and
bellowed and kicked their hooves high, drunk for a short time with
freedom. We watched until they settled down and began a summer of grazing.
The cow guy and I shook hands and he drove off, down the road, beyond the
land that my ancestors had cleared for cows.
We sold our herd years ago. This place stayed “cowless” for one season,
which about drove me crazy. All summer long I sensed unrest from those
ancestors who shouted from every ragged clump, “Graze this land!” I knew I
needed to honor them for their hard work so long ago. They cleared the best
of Vermont for the cows and the worst of it for the sheep. My old friend,
Ernest Gould, used to say, “The devil’s apron strings broke over Vermont.”
He meant, of course, that we can thank the devil for the rocks and boulders
that curse these Vermont hills and valleys–hellish for man, but pure
paradise for sheep. Our sheep industry thrived for a long time. It built
our villages and fortified our economy; then that same economy, fickle
like the weather in Vermont, took the sheep away.

Mr. Morris seems to make a portion of his income from selling local Vermont products in his online store. He offers Maple Syrup and assorted Maple products along with Vermont Cheeses. He is also building quite a community among his customers (and evidently non-customers alike) with his “News from Vermont”. To read the latest newsletter from Burr visit Dick Eastman’s EOGN. While you are there you might want to check out Dick’s blog on Genealogy, he’s been writing on-line now for over a decade.

Source: News from Vermont # 82 – ‘Possum Possibilities

George F. Will – Full Esteem Ahead – washingtonpost.com

Is it jut me or is George Will seeming a bit testy over blogger? Have too many bloggers (both us amateurs and the his professional colleges) called him to task over his reporting on the Webb and Bush “conversation”? 

Richard Stengel, Time’s managing editor, says, “Thomas Paine was in effect the first blogger” and “Ben Franklin was essentially loading his persona into the MySpace of the 18th century, ‘Poor Richard’s Almanack.’ ” Not exactly.

Franklin’s extraordinary persona informed what he wrote but was not the subject of what he wrote. Paine was perhaps history’s most consequential pamphleteer. There are expected to be 100 million bloggers worldwide by the middle of 2007, which is why none will be like Franklin or Paine. Both were geniuses; genius is scarce. Both had a revolutionary civic purpose, which they accomplished by amazing exertions. Most bloggers have the private purpose of expressing themselves for their own satisfaction. There is nothing wrong with that, but there is nothing demanding or especially admirable about it, either. They do it successfully because there is nothing singular about it, and each is the judge of his or her own success.

From what I have seen of the Blogs, the ratio of Franklins & Paines to the run of the mill publisher of that day is probably pretty close to equal among bloggers today. It is just that with 100 million blogs to winnow thru, you are gonna read a lot of chaff. That doesn’t make the chaff any less important to the ones who put it out “there”. If by putting themselves on the line even  a little bit someone is able to articulate what it is they are trying to accomplish, then they have helped someone, if only themselves.

As for me, I’m off to winnow some chaff looking for that nugget of a new Ben or Thomas…

Source: George F. Will – Full Esteem Ahead – washingtonpost.com

Research Links Obesity to Mix of Bacteria in Digestive Tract – washingtonpost.com

For those of us who are weight challenged, this could explain why eating salads for ever don’t make a big difference in your weight… 

Obese people have more digestive microbes that are especially efficient at extracting calories from food, the researchers said, and the proportion of these super-digesting organisms ebbs as the people lose weight. Moreover, when the scientists transplanted these bacteria from obese mice into lean mice, the thin animals start getting fat. This provides more support for the provocative theory that the bacteria that populate the intestine play an important role in regulating weight.

Source: Research Links Obesity to Mix of Bacteria in Digestive Tract – washingtonpost.com

Monday Morning Muse

Reflections from a weekend past…

Friday afternoon I made a run south to the Brazoria NWR, I left the house about 3pm in sunshine and scattered clouds, by the time I arrived the fog was so thick visibility was down to under a quarter of a mile. In all of the fun this weekend I haven’t even downloaded the photo’s yet.

Saturday and Sunday were spent trying to right the American economy…Just kidding (mostly). We wer out and about doing the family Christmas shopping and the American economy is in trouble if it is depending on us. This is probably the latest the wife has waited to get obsessed over presents so the obsession levels are pretty high. And somewhere in all of this it was decided that she needed homemade cookies to take to work. With ten pounds of sugar cookie mix, $10 worth of icing cans (with cute little nozzles), $20 dollars worth of new cookie sheets, and a couple of hours on Saturday night we turned out a two dozen cookie test batch. Boy is this gonna be an expensive couple of dozen sugar cookies…

We were up and running early Sunday to beat the crowds to the Mall…While the two ladies did their shopping thing I did my annual watching of the crowd. Lordy, if this seasons shoppers aren’t a sour bunch. I don’t think I saw a single smile in the entire place (except that fake one on the face of the one salesperson chasing me down the mall wanting me to sample their aromatherapy heated pad thing…Come-on it was 75 degrees in the Mall and you want to put a heating pad on my shoulders, Not). Oh, well…I’ve had worse experiences at Christmas time so I’ll count my blessings.

The weathermen (weatherpeople?) are trying todampen my hopes for a repeat of 2004. I know a once in a century (or longer) Christmas snowstorm is a lot to ask for on the Texas Gulf coast, but it sure would be nice…

So in the spirit of the holidays here’s the image of our house I used on last years Christmas card. Taken on Christmas morning 2004…

Merry Christmas All
Happy New Year

Phone Line Troubles

As strange as it may sound, our land line phones cannot get a dial tone but dsl is working intermittently. The problem has been reported to AT&T and they are guaranteeing resolution by 7pm tomorrow. But the last time we had a problem it took 3 tries to get it fixed so there is a good chance that I will be forced off-line for a good part of the weekend. I don’t know what this family will do without access to their email and myspace and im…Oh my God, we might have to talk to each other…he, he, he.

If you wander by and don’t see any posts, you’ll know why. If I vanish for longer than a few days, send a rescue party ’cause the family probably has me hog tied and gagged…