Sunday Afternoon Walk

At this time of the year a walk through the woods behind my house is a real experience. Your main problem is fighting off the blood sucking flying insects this part of the country can be overrun with after a few good rains. If you make the effort though you’ll have some surprises. Although green is still the predominate color around here, yellows and browns are beginning to show their coming prominence. As you wander around you will occasionally come across the brilliant reds and maroons of later in the season.

  
The dichotomy of fall in southeast Texas within fifty miles of the Gulf of Mexico is best explained by the act that as some leaves show their fall colors, flowers are blooming in great abundance. Most of the blooms are small and you really have to look for them.

 
This is wild Lantana…

from “Lantana”:
Wild lantanas are hairy and often prickly-stemmed. If rubbed and bruised, their leaves usually have a pungent odor. Verbena-like flowers are formed in clusters from the leaf axils or at the ends of branches. The small, berry-like fruits contain seeds. In some regions, Texas included, lantanas grow wild as weeds, chiefly spread by birds that are very fond of their juicy fruits. The species name for the native L. horrida, refers to the pungent odor of the crushed leaves.

In my family this plant is known as “Stinkweed” because of the odor.

  
These little yellow jewels are not known to me by name. They are beginning to be harder to find as I walk around. Earlier in the year they were much more common.

 
Even this late in the year you can find some honeysuckle blooms along the edges of the wood in protected nooks. In spring it is the aroma of honeysuckle that lets you know that summer is on the way.

 
My Red Oak still is predominantly green, but I did find this leaf changing color. Most of our oaks are in the process of dropping a few brown leaves a day and will continue doing so for the next month or so.

 
And then there is my so confused Apple tree. It does this every year, waits until the end of fall and tries to set blooms and fruit. I knew when I planted these tree we were really too far south for apples, but I had to try. I manage to get a few small apples every year and every year they bloom again in the fall…

 

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Fall Sunset

  

About the only fall color around these parts is found when the setting sun paints the trees with that wash of oranges, reds, and yellows. The above view caught my eye last evening as I looked out the kitchen door. The trees are across Mustang Bayou from my house and a few hundred feet south of here I sit writing on this blog. The trees are still mostly green here even as they start to fall to the ground. The trees above are more of a yellow green in full light, but last evening under that setting sun they just glowed…

We enjoyed a few days of beautiful fall weather last week which is now changing into our normal warm and muggy with a chance of rain…Duh, seems like the way we spend our year. I guess I shouldn’t complain, the doors and windows are open and the sounds of the birds and wind chimes aren’t too distracting from the Sunday morning talk shows.

Speaking of the Sunday shows…How about those Democrats? Boy, nobody thought they would look this good at this point in the election season. Kinda’ makes you wonder what may happen tomorrow…Does anyone really think the Republicans don’t have a ace in the hole? They have already managed in 2004 to convince us that exit polls used around the world to check for the honesty of elections don’t have any bearing in America anymore. What are we going to buy into next? We already bought into the tall tale that Republicans keep us safer as they try to scare the hell out of us.

I guess the only thing I want to say is everyone go out and vote on Tuesday. As you stand in line waiting to cast your vote just reflect on the past decade and decide if you feel safer and better off than ten years ago. Do you feel like your leaders really reflect your values? What ever the answer, just vote your conscious…

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Study: Red wine cuts high-fat diet dangers in mice | Chron.com – Houston Chronicle

So maybe Marie Antoinette had it right when she said “let them eat cake”. Pour me a glass with that cupcake please…
Study: Red wine cuts high-fat diet dangers in mice | Chron.com – Houston Chronicle: “Huge amounts of a red wine extract seemed to help obese mice eat a high-fat diet and still live a long and healthy life, suggests a new study that some experts are calling ‘landmark’ research.

The big question is, can it work the same magic in humans?

Scientists say it’s far too early to start swilling barrels of red wine. But some are calling the latest research promising and even ‘spectacular.'”

Good Morning Cyberspace…

Happy day after Halloween, otherwise known as November 1.

Have a cup of Joe and sit a spell as we wonder through the headlines from the mornings email updates. For those of you wondering where I get the time for these morning musings, let me say a few things about how my morning goes…Teenage daughter, school, and bathroom, enough said? That combination usually means I have about an hour in the morning for putting together these wanders through my slowly awakening brain cells as the coffee meanders into the veins.

After glancing at the mornings comments from the “Decider” I decided to forbear measuring for new drapes for another week. I wouldn’t want to give anyone new ammunition to chunk at the “loyal opposition party”. Not that anyone in this administration has really needed actual evidence to back up their statements about much of anything.

I also see the story from yesterday is still trying to float up into the national awareness. Another foodborne disease outbreak, and it seems that even though the E. coli outbreak has been contained we still don’t have a clue as to where it came from according to the following news story…

CDC Investigating Salmonella Outbreak – washingtonpost.com:
“Illness linked to produce is a growing concern among food safety experts as Americans consume more fresh fruits and vegetables, on the recommendation of the federal government. Consumers are now more likely to get sick from a produce-related outbreak than from any other food source, said Caroline Smith DeWaal, director of food safety for the CSPI.

Every year, about 76 million people contract foodborne illnesses in the United States. About 325,000 of those cases require hospitalization, and 5,000 people die.”

Folks, did you catch the significance of that figure? Over a quarter of the population each year is made ill from the food they eat. It all goes back to our corporate industrial food supply. With more and more of the food supply passing through fewer and fewer processing locations we are asking for disaster. To me this is a Homeland Security issue the government just wants to keep quite. I guarantee you I am just as bad as most of America when it comes to buying locally grown produce. I couldn’t even tell you how much of the produce sold at my local farm stand is local.

I just saw this from Garrison…

Early retirement | Salon.com:
“Nov. 1, 2006 | It took me an hour to turn the clocks back an hour, coordinating all the watches and digital alarm clocks and oven clock and kitchen clock and car clocks to Central Standard Time, during which a man starts to question the entire concept of promptitude, meetings, appointments, etc., which leads to thoughts of retirement, the End of the Trail, Old Paint, the part of your life when it doesn’t matter so much if it’s 9:30 or 10:05, or even if its Tuesday or Saturday, when you drift along as most mammals do, eating when hungry, sleeping when sleepy, and meeting whoever you meet whenever you meet them.”

Lord I know that feeling these days, you drag yourself in to do what you have always done…But, you are beginning to here the words from the song run through your head…”Is that all there is?”. This piece of Garrison’s leads to ruminations on retirement. This of course must lead to thoughts of the coming retirement of the “Leader of the Once (Sometime?) Free World”. His closing is classic:

“Washington is a city where a bill to relax air-pollution standards would be called the Clean Air Act and a bill to protect government officials from war-crimes prosecution would be called the Military Commissions Act, and so a man’s statement that he knows who he is and who his friends are needs to be taken as meaning the opposite, a cry for help. You come to office as a uniter and you wind up doing the opposite. You stand for American values and you wind up defending torture and the waste of resources. Knowing who you are is a minimal adult requirement, and you don’t get there by being an object of attention. Retirement is recommended. The sooner the better.”

Time to run on down the road…maybe later…

Bush Says ‘America Loses’ Under Democrats – washingtonpost.com

Reading the news over my morning coffee

It looks like the “Decider-in-Chief” has made another decision. Now a vote in our democracy is treasonous if it isn’t cast for a Republican. If you vote for a Democrat you are aiding and abetting the terrorists. How long now before your vote can cause you to be considered an “enemy combatant” in this new phase of the “War for Congress”?

Bush Says ‘America Loses’ Under Democrats – washingtonpost.com:
“SUGAR LAND, Tex., Oct. 30 — President Bush said terrorists will win if Democrats win and impose their policies on Iraq, as he and Vice President Cheney escalated their rhetoric Monday in an effort to turn out Republican voters in next week’s midterm elections.”

You know the President is in trouble when he has to visit my old district (Tom kicked me out in his redistricting plan) to campaign.

“However they put it, the Democrat approach in Iraq comes down to this: The terrorists win and America loses,” Bush told a raucous crowd of about 5,000 GOP partisans packed in an arena at Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, one of his stops Monday. “That’s what’s at stake in this election. The Democrat goal is to get out of Iraq. The Republican goal is to win in Iraq.”

They have been talking a lot about their plan to win in Iraq…Other than “Staying The Course”, has anyone seen a plan to win. Hell, do they really have a plan for anything but the enrichment of KBR and their other cronies?

I knew it wouldn’t be long before someone came up with something good on the Rumsfeld presser the other day. When I say the video it pretty much floored me. So when I saw Eugene Robinson’s piece in the Post I had to chuckle, even at something this sad.

Go ahead, people, you have your orders from Napoleon Bonaparte, I mean Donald Rumsfeld. “Back off” and “relax.” Book a cruise to Chillsville. Don’t worry your pretty little heads about the debacle in Iraq, because “it’s complicated, it’s difficult.” Are mere mortals going to be able to get their minds around a problem that even Albert Einstein, I mean Donald Rumsfeld, finds complicated? Let’s be realistic here.
We should all thank our lucky stars that “honorable people” are willing to do all this super-advanced thinking for us. Aristotle, I mean Donald Rumsfeld, was kind enough to phrase it that way rather than spell out what he really meant, which was “people who are smarter than you.”

You really should take a look at the rest of the piece…and “Back Off”.

A quote from an email…

”Existence is a strange bargain. Life owes us little; we owe it everything. The only true happiness comes from squandering ourselves for a purpose.”
– William Cowper

And another story about the fabled American food supply chain…

ATLANTA — A salmonella outbreak potentially linked to produce has sickened at least 172 people in 18 states, health officials said Monday.
Health officials think the bacteria might have spread through some form of produce; the list of suspects includes lettuce and tomatoes. But the illnesses have not been tied to any specific product, chain, restaurants or supermarkets.
The states involved are Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Virginia, Vermont and Wisconsin.
By Mike Stobbe
Associated Press

From the Houston Chronicle it’s just another example of how our nationalized food supply is going to end up killing us yet. Sadly, it wont even take terrorists to do it, though, with a little help from the wrong kind of people something like this could be much worse than a couple of days on the throne…

Looks like the road calls…later

Monday Coffee Reads

Monday Coffee Reads
If nothing else, this op-ed from the Washington Post has one of the best lines on the Bush Administration and Climate Change I have seen in a while.

Changing Climate on Climate – washingtonpost.com: “Indeed, it is difficult to imagine that the intransigence of Mr. Bush’s administration on climate change will long survive his tenure, no matter who succeeds him. Will he take a hand in developing America’s response to this global problem, or will he go down as the president who fiddled while Greenland melted?”

Let’s hope they are right about the change coming next week.

This little tidbit from Robert Novak really hit me like a blast from the past…

Losing Nicaragua Again – washingtonpost.com:”Oliver North and his associates were leaving Managua last Tuesday on a private plane after a dramatic surprise visit when they heard news they could scarcely comprehend. The State Department had just issued a “public announcement” that, in effect, warned Americans not to travel to Nicaragua because of the prospect for “violent demonstrations” and “sporadic acts of violence” leading up to the Nov. 5 presidential election there.”

Does Oliver North still have the ability to bring out the high dollar donors for the Republican Party? Why this reference to the darling of the Reagan Republicans at this time.

Oliver North and the reaction the non-delegate attendees at the ’92 Convention had to him was one of the things that pushed me completely into backing only Democratic Party Candidates (unless, as happens often in rural Texas, you can’t find a Democrat which means you vote Green of Libertarian or even Socialist to vote against the Republican Party). I think it was the way they fawned over a man , who by all accounts I had seen, should have been in prison not walking around with bodyguards at a Political Convention.

Then you have this…

”That buttresses suspicion that the U.S. government wants to keep away meddling Americans like North, who seek to influence an election that now appears likely to return Daniel Ortega and the Sandinistas to power after an absence of 16 years.”

My God, is Oliver North still “meddling” in Nicaragua after all these years?

Time to hit the road…more later.

I apologize for the political nature of the above, my only excuse is that is what is in the news…

Falling back…

After sleeping in, on this fall back Sunday, I spent the morning doing the email, political blog rant, cussing Blogger errors kind of thing. Then I did the morning talk shows before turning my interest to reading my way through my blogroll. Creek Running North was at the top of my list today, so I started working my way back through Chris Clarke’s posts. When I hit the post on Deborah Tall the following quote reached up of the screen and grabbed me…

Creek Running North: Deborah Tall
“No one’s about to step out of the woods and tell us what in another place would be subject of song and legend — oh whale who wandered from the sea, stalled in lake water, turned to stone…— the landscape brought to life as story. I need to learn the plot and poetry of this place, the outlines of time passing on it, in order that it not be merely scenery. But my neighbors are reticent, sedentary. They mumble and nod the rare times we pass on the road. No one, as in my rural fantasy, has come by with a welcoming plate of homemade cookies, with chat and advice, not to speak of legends. By nightfall, their houses give off the platinum glow of television. We’re left to our own devices.”

After reading all of Chris’ post, I can understand some of the pain he felt on reading those words about his home and kin. But, I have too many times found myself on the other side too. The newcomer in a place with a history I don’t share, but would like to. Even wandering back to the places my ancestors once called home doesn’t give me an inherent place with those that stayed and lived the history of place. I may be trying to capture a bit of the same naïve nostalgia that seems to come across from the snippets Chris has chosen to quote.

Not having read Deborah Tall’s book, I can’t comment on it. But, the fact that Chris states he reads it annually leaves a desire to see what she had to say.

Oh well, time to get off my duff and go visit my own little piece of the American population explosion. He may not have been the 300 millionth, but he was close. Later…

Fall Color

Even in Texas we get one tree out of 20 – 30 acres that will show fall coloring this time of year… 
The only real problem is…It’s tough to hold the camera steady as you beat yourself trying to kill the swarm of mosquitoes that is carrying you off over the standing water from the past two weeks storms…swat, splat…ouch…I think I know what they feel like living in the swamps.
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Saturday over coffee

Over coffee this morning I was checking out my email. Had a couple from Colleen, which made my day ‘cause it means I’m not just blathering out into cyberspace to myself. She pointed me to her post of this morning which led me to comment. Since my own posts have been a bit slow this week I thought I would go ahead and repost my comment here… So here’s the thread.

Jamming at the Jamboree with Jim Webb

It was “standing room only” at Floyd’s Country Store, home of the Friday Night Jamboree, when Democratic Senatorial Candidate Jim Webb and former Governor Mark Warner came to visit on Thursday. By the look of the line of young people waiting outside for their arrival, I figured that a high school field trip was underway. Inside, the turnout reminded me of the one that gathered to hear author Barbara Kingsolver in September.

Reading Colleen’s post led to this comment…

Colleen, I have tried to not let my passion carry me away this election cycle as my wife doesn’t like me screaming at the television when the President speaks. This is another of the reasons I have been light on my posting.

“I’m a registered independent, fiscally conservative who votes Democratic because they represent my interests in labor rights, civil rights, women’s rights, and environmental protections better than the counterparts,” I explained at one point during our back and forth conversations.

How well I relate…I had the “fun” of working at the Republican National Convention here in Houston in 1992 (it was my job, the firm I work for was the general contractor). I remember having the same conversation with some of the volunteers. When I said I was a fiscally conservative social liberal I saw a wash of blank looks spread over the group. Someone even asked what the hell that meant. Seems they all thought the two concepts were diametrically opposed.

Before the convention I had always considered myself an independent. I voted for the man, not the party…blah, blah, blah. I was at the convention that year for many more hours than the delegates. I heard every speech, saw much of the off the floor maneuvering. Had access to many of the hospitality suites of the big donors and the corporate sponsors. And after it was all said and done I walked out and voted my first straight party ticket in my life. What I saw that year was the beginnings of 1994 and the takeover of the Republicans by the religious right. I have to admit it scared me then. It still scares me now.

I think this election is important in so many ways, but mainly it is about stopping the erosion of or constitutional form of government. If the administration manages to keep control of both houses this election, they will probably consolidate the Presidential powers to such an extent that we will never have the chance again to back them up.

Politicians have managed to get caught often enough with their hands in the cookie jar to convince most of the public not to vote. That actually works for the politicians. The lower the vote, the smaller the base needed to mobilize. Gerrymandering accomplishes the same thing. If you are a liberal in a conservative district, you don’t vote because there isn’t any use…Your voice won’t be heard, the same holds true for the conservative in a liberal district.

To my way of thinking this is what has stifled the conversation in America. The lack of an egalitarian process of running elections is killing democracy. The fiction that money equates to “free speech” is an outright attack on democracy. The fiction the corporations are “people” entitled to “free speech” is the main stumbling block to clean politics…And I’ve run on way to long. I apologize for the rant.

So, now that I’ve ranted in two places today, Ya’ll have a great day yourselves…