Think Small – New York Times

I got this from Gristmill… 

A wave of interest in such small dwellings — some to serve, like the Shepherds’ home, as temporary housing, others to become space-saving dwellings of a more permanent nature — has prompted designers and manufacturers to offer building plans, kits and factory-built houses to the growing number of small-thinking second-home shoppers. Seldom measuring much more than 500 square feet, the buildings offer sharp contrasts to the rambling houses that are commonplace as second homes.

This reduction of scale makes sense for a lot of people. Second homes are often geared toward outdoor activities, so for several months of the year interior space is superfluous. Minimal square footage means reduced maintenance costs, less upkeep and reduced energy consumption. Prefabricated and pre-built models can require little or no site preparation, which means no anxious weekend drives to the country to make sure construction is moving along. Add to this an element of instant gratification (once the planning stage is over, most houses go up in days, even hours, and many are delivered, turn-key, to the site).

Small homes have always intrigued me…Don’t tell the wife. It’s a good thing she never reads this blog. Way back in the ’70s I remember designing homes with  a footprint of 20′ square and a sleeping loft above. Looks like the world of design is catching up with my designs. Go read the article.

Source: Think Small – New York Times

TGIF – 2766th of my life

I guess this morning will pass as the coldest of this year (so far). I know that for all of you folks from further north on this old ball we call Earth, 30 degrees isn’t that cold, but for this neck of the woods it ranks as “purty chilli”, as they would say in Terlingua. Funny thing, they decided this would be a good day to have a luncheon and a meeting in the warehouse at work for today. Folks, this is SE Texas and they don’t “climatize” our warehouse. Normally when it gets cold they fire up those large bullet shaped kerosene heaters that roar like a jet taking off. Since this meeting will involve power point presentations and speachifying by the powers, that can’t be allowed. Gonna love it…

Aw well, back to my coffee and emails…

Garrison has been on a Mary Mackey run at the Writer’s Almanac and judging by the examples he has put up I will have to check out the book…

Poem: “My Methodist Grandmother Said” by Mary Mackey, from Breaking the Fever: Poems.

My Methodist Grandmother Said

My Methodist
grandmother said
was adultery
set to music

how right she was

in that sweet sway
breast to breast and
leg to leg
sin comes into its own

If that excerpt raises your…interest go check out the rest here. Scroll down to Friday then bounce back up to Thursday for “Chicken Killing” from the same collection. Thanks Garrison, for the introduction.

Photo Friday – This week’s Challenge: ‘Self-Portrait 2007’…What better time for a self-portrait than your birthday. Mine can be found here.

Time to run…

Hump Day – Moving On

Is it cold where you are? For this part of the country at this time of the year, 39 is pretty cool. I see that Boone is hanging at freezing today and Floyd is expecting some snow this morning. Falling white stuff should give Fred First some fodder for his new blog, Nameless Creek.

Here we are on a day when more greeting cards are sold that any other, celebrating Love. I hope your Valentines Day is just “Lovely”. For more on the day, check out the Writer’s Almanac For Wednesday. You’ll need to scroll down the page.

What do anise seed, avocados, basil, chili peppers, figs, garlic, ginger, honey, licorice, nutmeg, pine nuts, and tomatoes have in common? According to Robert L. Wolke they have all been considered aphrodisiacs at one time or another. If you are interested…emm…he has an article in the Washington Post – Lusty Appetites.

Reading the news this morning I was struck by a quote from an article on the house debate on the Iraq War. House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) said about the resolution, that it is “a political charade lacking both the seriousness and the gravity of the issue that it’s meant to represent”. Damn, at last someone has actually come up with a description of the last few years of congress. It is almost funny how being out of power gives the Republicans such a clarity of sight into the issues they couldn’t even see just a few short months ago. Rant over.

Well, it’s time to take youngest daughter to school and hed for work…Catch you later.

Another voice: Revenge of the Chicks | – Houston Chronicle

This from The Boston Globe

In 2003, Dixie Chicks singer Natalie Maines told fans in London that she and her bandmates were ashamed that President Bush was from their home state. In response, Clear Channel Communications struck the group from play lists at its country radio stations.

The music-business insiders who gave the Dixie Chicks five Grammy Awards Sunday night — including three for their song Not Ready to Make Nice — aren’t the same people who shunned the Texas trio four years back. But the Chicks’ resurgence, coupled with other rumblings of discontent within the world of country music, shows how much the nation’s mood has shifted since March 2003.

You know, I said then and I still say I agree Natalie. I told everyone I knew around the country in 1999 and 2000 that George W was a mistake. I guess the lesson I learned from this whole episode is that putting too many stations into the hands of too few lends itself to a shutting down of unpopular voices, especially voices unpopular with the people who control the mikes. This whole experiment in media consolidation has and is a major mistake that we may not recover from.

I watched the Grammy Awards on Sunday and even with the “Chicks” sweep, I was unimpressed with the show. For some reason I would think the “Music Industry” would at least get the sound right. For some reason about half of the performances seemed to be coming out of a well. I am not sure what they should do differently, but at least they should hire someone who can broadcast decent sounding and mixed music. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about?

Source: Another voice: Revenge of the Chicks | – Houston Chronicle

Tuesday Coffee Meditations

After days of overcast, I stepped out the back door this morning before first light and say the moon. After the initial shock wore off I glanced around and saw stars too…Amazing. I had almost forgotten what clear sky looks like.

This photo is what the Bluebonnets we Texans are so proud of each spring look like at this time of year. The little star shaped leaves scattered through the background clutter are the Bluebonnets. I don’t have any good digital shots of what a field of Bluebonnets looks like so I guess you’ll have to wait for spring and a trip to the northwest of here for me to capture a good one. One would almost think it was the shape of the leaf that led the Texas Legislature to designate the Bluebonnet the state flower of Texas

As the day lightens it is almost springlike outside. I sit here with the door open drinking my first cup and listening to some hawks playing noisily outside. I am not sure what has them riled up this early but something has them announcing to the world they are here. Not a common birdsong of the early morning. It probably arose from them being discovered by crows or mockingbirds, both of which will sometimes drive a hawk from a roost.

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Jim Hightower | MOLLY IVINS

Jim Hightower offers up another tribute to Molly Ivins…

We progressives, we Americans – and anyone, anywhere who loves liberty and justice – have lost a true, trusted friend. Molly Ivins died recently.

Yet, Molly was more than a person. She is a spirit – a big, boisterous, joyful, irreverent, hell-raising, fun-loving, muckracking, uninhibited, maverick spirit.

As such, she lives.

I first encountered her in 1970, when she exploded from the pages of the Observer like a supernova. She was full of wit, smarts, and sass, grabbing readers by their hearts, minds, gonads, and funnybones. Damn, I thought, no human can write like that! She could knock you over and lift you up in the same sentence. It was her spirit coming at you.

Source: Jim Hightower | MOLLY IVINS

Follow the link to read the rest.

Monday Morning – Back to the grind…

Reading the emails this morning I see global warming is kicking in on the Blue Ridge Mountains. The forecast for my friends on both sides of the NC/VA line has temperatures in the 40’s for the next day or so. I hope y’all don’t get the type of weather we have had since Friday, totally overcast and dreary. So far we have been lucky with this batch of the drears since it hasn’t brought three days of rain with it, ‘though (knock on wood) they seem to be forecasting a slight chance of some rough weather for us today.

I don’t know about any of the rest of you, but isn’t it nice to get all of these mortgage approvals every day by email. It really ranks right up there with all of the drug adds. And that’s on the unpublished email address. You ought to see what comes in on the published account…

I see from the Floyd County Blogs that culture is busting out in that area. House concerts are an idea that has intrigued me since I first heard of them many years ago. I remember looking into a web-site even then that explained the ins and outs and what to expect. I always thought they seemed like the ultimate way to hear good music. No competition with the drinkin’ and talkin’ going on in a club, more intimate than a concert. Just a few people sitting around in an intimate setting with the music. Reminds me of back in the day (many, many years ago) when I knew some folks who were in groups and we would set around the living room while one or two or more would just perform…I envy both Fred and David with their musical neighborhood. Google Search for House Concerts

The clock on the wall says I gotta run, so…Catch you down the road.

Beyond the Fields We Know

Somewhere to the south, there are wild orchids raising their heads and fields of grazing geese, but not here and certainly not for some time.

Reading the above line on Kerrdelune’s blog brought back memories of this past weeks trip to the Wildlife Refuge. It wasn’t the orchids, and the geese were not grazing anywhere around me. But the massive flights of honking geese that flew over my head for the better part of an hour were amazing. The photo below cannot do justice to the awesome sight of thousands of geese in the air at one time. Wave after V shaped wave passing over to the left and right. Coming from the southwestern horizon and vanishing to the northeast.

If you haven’t visited at Beyond the Fields We Know take a minute and wander up there to the far north where winter did come…

Source: Beyond the Fields We Know

Chicken Hawks?

Leon Hale just posted a blog entry on hawks…Chicken Hawks Inside The Loop

A life-and-death bird drama is going on out there right now. Half a dozen pigeons are dipping and climbing and wheeling in a desperate way near our building . I’ve learned that this is how they behave when a hawk comes around. This time of year big hawks are fairly common inside the Loop.

I think the one I see most often is a red-tailed hawk, but I’m not certain. We’ve got a lot of hawks in Texas and I’m not wonderful at identifying them. In my early times in the country we called any big hawk a chicken hawk. (That term has evolved to have an interesting meaning in political discourse, as you’ll see if you check out that link.)
If a hawk was big enough to swoop down and get a full grown Domineker hen, we said it was a chicken hawk.

Reading his post reminded me that I had taken some shots of a hawk in a tree down at the entry to the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge back before Christmas. I thought I had posted the photos on one of my blogs, but hey, I can’t find them so maybe not. So just cause I was reminded here is a front and back shot of the same bird from Dec 22.

In trying to ID this hawk from my Peterson’s Birds of Texas, the closest I can come is to guess it’s a Red Shouldered though it bears some resemblance to a Swainson’s. If someone can give me a positive ID it would be appreciated.

This fellow(?) was nice enough to sit for quite a while and let me snap away out the window of the car.

One of the things I really like about this part of Texas is that during the winter we get quite a few of the northern hawks visiting for a few months. Not that there is ever a time when we don’t have numerous hawks and buzzards flying around. But during this time of the year, you’ll see hawks setting in the tops of trees, on telephone poles, even on fence posts.

When we first moved to this place the field that is our backyard would get pretty grown up during the summer. At some point I had stuck a tree limb in the ground that stood up about 10 feet tall (3m for those from across the pond). Regularly we would look out to see a Red Tail sitting on the top of the limb. I am sure the field was a haven for mice and rabbits so he was just shopping for his supper.

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Dan Bricklin Log

It is always nice to stumble across a reference to someone you haven’t thought about in a while. I don’t know how long ago it was that I started reading Dan Bricklin’s Log, nobody called them Blogs at that time though. Dan was one of the originators of the electronic spreadsheet and when I stumbled upon him back in the ’90’s he had written one of the early web publishing packages. While it was easy to use and made web publishing quick and relatively painless it jut didn’t quite work for me. I still checked in on his (b)log regularly to keep up with what he was doing. At that time in my life I followed the tech side with great passion…Somewhere along the way the tech side took a less important focus in what I followed and I lost track of all of the early (b)logers I originally followed.

Here’s Dan’s latest…

Friday, February 9, 2007


Creating America draft chapters [link]


Chris Daly has a new website and blog that many of you will find of interest.

Readers who have followed my writing for many years may remember the name Chris Daly. Chris is my next door neighbor. For many years he worked as a journalist, including being the Washington Post New England correspondent and the AP Massachusetts State House Bureau Chief. He is currently a professor of journalism at Boston University where he has been teaching for about 10 years.

Source: Dan Bricklin Log