Lazy Weekend Thoughts

Blue Ridge Country Magazine

One of the things I look forward to in the snail mail realm is “Blue Ridge Country Magazine“. I discovered the magazine about the same time I discovered the real thing and I have had a subscription almost since the very first issue I read. Since I started reading this mag I have stumbled across Fred First’s images on occasion, but, what keeps me reading is the writing of…

Elizabeth Hunter

Elizabeth Hunter’s column “From The Farm” in each issue is always the first thing I look for. In the years since I first discovered the magazine and subscribed I have come to appreciate her insights on mountain living and nature. Her column in this issue is part travelogue and part science/ecology lesson with a touch of Earth Day conservationism thrown in. As she takes us through Natural Bridge State Park in Kentucky she explains the “mixed mesophytic forest” ecology and it’s resemblance to the same type of forest in China. She talks of the research being done in China to try to find a way to stop the hemlock woolly adelgid, a problem facing the whole of the Appalachians.

Since her trip took her through much of Kentucky, she even gets in some thoughts on the problems of the coal companies and their mountain top removal methods of destroying a way of life and the living species that once resided there. If you haven’t had a chance to check either the magazine or Elizabeth Hunter’s writing do yourself a favor and take a look…

Some issues of the magazine contain a extra gift or two when Elizabeth has a feature article to go along with the column.

Ron Rash

I first started noticing Ron Rash whenever I run across him a few years back when Garrison featured one of his poems in his daily “Writer’s Almanac”. Since that day I have added a couple of Ron’s volumes to my library, one poetry and one novel so far. So it was with interest I read his closing comments in this months Blue Ridge Country Magazine. As a bit of autobiography it was an interesting read. The columns title, “The Mountains My Hopes“, leads directly to the closing paragraph…

My hope is that the mountains my family has called home for more than 250 years, and much more than that for the small portion of Cherokee in me, will not be destroyed by coal companies, lax environmental laws and overzealous developers, who too often seem intent on destroying the rural landscape and natural beauty that attracts people to the region in the first place. No one can expect the southern Appalachian region to remain in some changeless vacuum, but how much change and at what cost are questions the region must ask itself.

I find I share the hopes expressed by Ron Rash for the mountains he grew up in, the mountains I have come to love.

The Nation Magazine

My morning email brought me an announcement from “The Nation” magazine that they have a special Earth Day edition out. One of the feature articles is ” Adapt or Die” by Mark Hertsgaard. In it he compares the flooding in Bangladesh with what has happened in New Orleans. The comparisons are not good for this country. The final paragraph is what really hit me between the eyes…

At this point we must accept that the battle to prevent global warming is over; now, the race to survive it has begun. This race will continue for the rest of our lives, testing human ingenuity, institutions and values as never before. Losses are inevitable, but the situation is not hopeless. We know much of what needs to be done, and we have considerable resources at our disposal. There is rough weather ahead, but if we keep our heads and stick together, we may find ways of living through the storm.

Source: Adapt or Die

Fragments From Floyd

Anyone who has read this blog knows I blame Fred First for the inspiration to follow his lead and try my hand at writing on a regular basis. I am still stumbling along looking for that voice I think I have and the words I want to say. A short while ago I had one of those stream of conscience moments where you just let the words flow. What came out was a “review” or as Tom Montag likes to say “an appreciation” of Fred’s “Slow Road Home”. The reason for the introduction here is Fred had a really good post up the other day for Earth Day and I wanted to link to it…

Earth Day 2007 – How many More

I’ll be bold and assume that thirty seven years of planet-watching earns me one stand in the bully pulpit. From this one citizen’s perspective, four things must happen. Making the rubber meet the road is quite another matter, and these are complex issues we must be talking about in Floyd’s meeting places, churches, and organizations.

  1. We must take individual responsibility for being carefully conscious of our family and community “environmental footprint” and reduce it.
  2. We must insist that efficiency and conservation by industry and commerce play a much stronger role than they have thus far in CO2 abatement.
  3. We must not become complacent by thinking that our individual conservation or lifestyle changes alone will fully solve the larger problem.
  4. We must find a just way to prevent those who produce the least greenhouse gases from suffering the most.

No matter what we do in the short run, climate change impacts on humanity are likely to be large in the coming century, even here in remote Floyd County. Coping with this unprecedented degree of change will require a whole new way of thinking about our relationship with the planet and each other. Let’s renew our commitment to these goals this Earth Day, and move quickly toward an Earth Decade.


You know it’s a funny thing about the sitemeter stats. I must be saying something here on occasion that touches at least a few people. I don’t have a lot of site visits, but it appears I have a few returning visitors. Some of the locations ring a bell from the comments that have been made over the past year. Some though I have yet to meet. So here’s a great big Texas Howdy to all with thanks for your stopping by. If you really want to make my day…Tell me what it is that brings you by…

Well, I’ve spent way to much time playing this morning and the wife is giving me dirty looks so I better run.
Y’all have a great weekend, get out enjoy spring…See you all on the other side.

Wants and Desires…

I empathize with the sentiment if not the actual want…

Costal Farmlet
“A man wants nothing so badly as a gooseberry farm.”
I want a costal farmlet.
I desire it very much.
I saw it advertised
in the classifieds and I presume
that coastal means our land
comes right down
to the sea with the whitecaps
lashing romantically, and farmlet
means we can grow
gnarled trees on our headland
and let sheep roam. It is about cheap
enough for us if we borrow, beg
and steal, pawn a few poems, also write
a harlequin romance or two, and it’s
only 9000 miles from the place
we call home. There’s not much
of a hitch except the Immigration
would not let us stay in the country
to live in our farmlet. But still,
I want it and think we should go
look at it, right now, this moment,
while tangy sweet gooseberries glow.

“Costal Farmlet” by David Ray, from Music of Time: Selected and New Poems. © The Backwaters Press.

The farmlet in my wants resides on the side of a mountain not a sea and it’s blueberries not gooseberries that call me there. But, other than those discrepancies, this poem could be mine, not by the writing but by the desiring…

Source:The Writer’s Almanac for Wednesday, March 28th

Other links to David Ray:

Spring – The first full day.

“In pursuit of happiness, the difficulty lies in knowing when you have caught up.”
R.H. Grenville

I feel the need for a change of pace on this Wednesday morning.

For many years I tried to develop a habit of journaling and could never carry it through for more than a week or three. I tried morning pages from the “Artist’s Way” book, but again, I could or would only make it through a few weeks before dropping it. I have always felt a need but never strong enough to develop the necessary habits. If you look at my profile you will find that it says I have been on Blogger since April of 2001 but I’ve only had a little over 200 profile views. I guess that would make me somewhat of an old timer at blogging, but I feel like a total newby. I do not know how many different times I have tried to start a blog only to give up when the habit didn’t take hold. From the looks of this try though, I may have continued long enough to actually have set the habit.

I see that Julia Cameron has a website up for “The Artist’s Way at Work“. Looks like a new place to explore. There is also an “Artist’s Way” Community at another site.

My time this morning is growing short, so I need to hit the emails…

  • What a difference a day makes…Blue Ridge Mountain temps are back down in the low 40’s this morning
  • There seems to be an upside for the White House to the AG Scandal…We aren’t still hearing about the scandalous treatment of the wounded veterans or Plamegate or Katrina or any of the hundreds of other fiascoes hosted upon America by this Administration.
  • ‘Tis the first (full) day of spring…Go see Garrison about what that means in Poetry.
  • Wandering through the log of visitors to this site is always a lot of fun. It never takes a lot of time, few visitors each day. I am always surprised there are as many as there are. What always intrigues me though is the geographical data. Why did someone visit from China? Was it random?

Kate at Cider Press Hill introduced me to an old concept that is newly named for me but well practiced for years… Commonplace Books. What a glorious name for a concept that’s inherit with the way my brain works. I have always kept notebooks, both paper and electronic, full of quotes and other bits and pieces of trivia pasted and copied onto the pages. To think, I have been creating Commonplace Books for years. Now that I know that this is an accepted self-publishing form of book-making, I will practice it with more respect for the tradition.

Along those lines, this quote was posted as appearing on a bumper sticker without the attribution. I find it fits well with my philosophy of life and personal mythology.

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
George Bernard Shaw

Tuesday Coffee Muses – Week 2769

I borrowed a new quote for the top of my sidebar last evening as I wandered the twisting trails of the blogs I read. I though the quote about the weather fit quite well with the way this blog has evolved. So here is todays outlook…

Here in SE Texas it’s clear and what we call cold. 40 degrees and headed up to the 60’s again today. As I look out the back door into our backyard field I see that old man Frost has been by again. Blue skys and sunshine for today and the rest of the week and I will be sitting in a back room cubbyhole with no windows at work. I am beginning to think I am developing an allergy to my work or at the very least my place of work. Everyday I go in and by midday my voice is pretty much gone. It only started about the time they moved me from my original office on the second floor to the first floor. Oh well, I m sure my daughter jut loves my lack of volume…

I think I am beginning to look forward to the “New and Improved” Daylight Savings Time. What an oxymoronic name…Where is the bank all of this daylight is saved in? How much of your daily daylight do you put back for a rainy day? Where are the government accounting office figures that show how Americans are not saving as much daylight now as they were ten years ago so we must increase the number of days to allow for a longer savings period in the hopes Americas will put away more daylight? How much interest does your daylight earn when it’s not consumed on the day it arrives? No, really I am looking forward to the spring forward, it should aloow me a bit more time after the commute to enjoy a bit of sunshine.

In my emails I caught a headline from the Washington Post on a Eugene Robinson column that just screamed “Read Me”, I did you should…

This administration’s nonchalance about its most grievous transgressions has been stunning, and the only inference that fits the facts is that the people running our government don’t really believe in government at all. They certainly haven’t taken it seriously.

Source: Eugene Robinson – Unaccountably Called to Account –

From the Writer’s Almanac for today we have “Dishwater” by Ted Kooser from Delights and Shadows. © Copper Canyon Press.


Slap of the screen door, flat knock
of my grandmother’s boxy black shoes
on the wooden stoop, the hush and sweep
of her knob-kneed, cotton-aproned stride
out to the edge and then, toed in
with a furious twist and heave,
a bridge that leaps from her hot red hands
and hangs there shining for fifty years
over the mystified chickens,
over the swaying nettles, the ragweed,
the clay slope down to the creek,
over the redwing blackbirds in the tops
of the willows, a glorious rainbow
with an empty dishpan swinging at one end.

(Sorry but the link goes to the home page ’cause the permanent link doesn’t seem to work now.)

Do you not feel like you are sitting in the old swing under the elm tree just off the back of the house as she comes out backlit by the light in the kitchen…You can feel the wind and the sway of the swing. maybe you are hanging head down looking at her upside down as the water arches out and down/up.

I received this “Thought for the Day” from the Blue Mountain Meditation Center

In those moments when we forget ourselves – not thinking, “Am I happy?” but completely oblivious to our little ego – we spend a brief but beautiful holiday in heaven. The joy we experience in these moments of self-forgetting is our true nature, our native state. To regain it, we have simply to empty ourselves of what hides this joy: that is, to stop dwelling on ourselves. To the extent that we are not full of ourselves, God can fill us. “If you go out of yourself,” says Johannes Tauler, “without doubt he shall go in, and there will be much or little of his entering in according to how much or little you go out.”

Source: The Thought for the Day is today’s entry from Eknath Easwaran’s Words to Live By.
(Copyright 1999 and 2005 by The Blue Mountain Center of Meditation.)

Time to get on down the road…Later

Poetry on my mind

Happy March One

The first day of the month of spring is coming in a bit on the warm and damp side here. The temperature here is already just a degree below 70 and the day hasn’t even said hello to the sun yet…The weather prognosticators are mentioning a cool front moving our way this morning with some “much dryer air”. The view out the kitchen windows is definitely taking on a spring green coloration. Even the oak that run late in it’s leafing out each year is showing a lot of green already. So, looks to me like spring has sprung even if no one quite believes it.

Everyday when I check my sitemeter I see where someone has again searched for “My Methodist Grandmother” on Google. I’ll admit even I am still checking out Mary Mackey’s poetry and now I’ll probably try to pick up one of her novels on my next trip to the B&N. That Mary Mackey post had me wandering thru some more of her words on the internet. I stopped in on her Home Page and this poem caught in my minds eye…

in the great invisible electronic
library of the world
the real thing is nothing
image is all

bleary with coffee
and grief for a friend
who died the day before
I find myself staring at the screen and wondering
how many pixels it takes
to make a wood duck
or an island of black frigate birds
mating in the mangroves
their globed orange throat pouches
pulsing with birdly lust

in front of me
in a space no larger than two hands spanned
I can watch flocks of pink flamingos
stick-legged, silly-beaked
bits of egg-laying confetti
left over from the big party
of creation

(continued on her site)

Later I came across a interview on “The WELL” where, in describing the difference between her fiction and her poetry, she says…

Poetry, in contrast, is more of an explosion in my brain. It comes as a
great wave of image and emotion which I translate into words. I revise each
poem again and again, looking for the perfect combination of word and rhythm
and ambiguity. I’m constantly surprised. I never know where I’m going.

That imagery is quite striking.

My wife is always asking me what I find so interesting on the computer. The chance discovery of Mary Mackey is one of the things that keeps me trolling the internet. My wife once grew used to my nose being buried in a book or magazine. That was where it was for the first couple of decades of our marriage. The books were never a threat but the laptop appears to be. She doesn’t see it as a virtual library where you can stumble across words and images that you wouldn’t chance across in even the largest of brick and mortar libraries. Whenever I come across a site that really punches me in the gut, I’ll try and share with her. She seems to enjoy the passages I read so maybe she will come around to my virtual library yet…

Running late this morning so I better get a move on…Stay dry, stay cool.

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…

The Writer's Almanac for Sunday, December 3, 2006

Great images in words. Even I, a southern boy who has had few run-ins with frozen precipitation, can see the images as I read these lines. Highly appropriate following last weeks storms. Thanks Garrison, a great pick for a December morning.

Poem: “Snow in the Suburbs,” by Thomas Hardy. Public Domain.
Snow in the Suburbs
Every branch big with it,
Bent every twig with it;
Every fork like a white web-foot;
Every street and pavement mute:
Some flakes have lost their way, and grope back upward, when
Meeting those meandering down they turn and descend again.
The palings are glued together like a wall,
And there is no waft of wind with the fleecy fall.
A sparrow enters the tree,
Whereon immediately
A snow-lump thrice his own slight size
Descends on him and showers his head and eyes,
And overturns him,
And near inurns him,
And lights on a lower twig, when its brush
Starts off a volley of other lodging lumps with a rush.
The steps are a blanched slope,
Up which, with feeble hope,
A black cat comes, wide-eyed and thin;
And we take him in.

Source: The Writer’s Almanac for Sunday, December 3, 2006

Photo for today…

This is our front porch on Christmas Day 2004 when we had a white Christmas. The only one I’ve ever seen.

How's the weather?

For the first time in a long time we’ve flipped. This morning in SE Texas the temperature stands at 37 degrees as I type. I see from the forecast email I get that the temperatures on the Blue Ridge in Boone and Floyd are almost 30 degrees higher. Folks this doesn’t happen very often. But I sure will enjoy the few days of winter (for us) that we are getting early this year. When this front gets over to the east coast ya’ll throw a log on the fire and warm your hands and think of me…it’ll probably be pushing 80 again down here.

My email from Garrison this morning contains a poem “In the Middle” by Barbara Crooker. These lines caught my attention:

We’ll never get there,
Time is always ahead of us, running down the beach, urging
us on faster, faster, but sometimes we take off our watches,
sometimes we lie in the hammock, caught between the mesh
of rope and the net of stars, suspended, tangled up
in love, running out of time.

This week’s Photo Friday Challenge: ‘Stillness’.

Joshua Trees in Red Rock Canyon Country

It doesn’t get any stiller than the desert in winter…Red Rock Canyon, Las Vegas, NV.

Time to hit the road…ya’ll have a great day.

Joni Mitchell on the Computer

“Were captive on the carousel of time
We cant return we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round and roundIn the circle game”

“Take your time, it won’t be long now
Till you drag your feet to slow the circles down”

“Though his dreams have lost some grandeur coming true
There’ll be new dreams, maybe better dreams and plenty
Before the last revolving year is through”

Circle Gamw by Joni Mitchell

As I sat at the computer today during lunch, I was reading Fragments From Floyd archives when I heard the Circle Game come on the computer. I first heard that song in a movie back around 1972 at the Lowe’s Delman Theatre on Main St. in Houston. The movie was Butterflies Are Free and the singer on the soundtrack was Buffy Sainte-Marie,

Every time I hear that song it pulls me back to an earlier time when it was all ahead of me, now after 34 years I find the words a little more prophetic.

Ron Rash, Iris Press

Ron Rash, Iris Press: “

It was last week that David St Lawrence posted about a reading given by Ron Rash in Floyd. I first stumbled onto Ron Rash last year on Garrison Keillor’s email newsletter, The Writer’s Almanac, hear it here. The poem being presented was “The Exchange” from Among the Believers (2000, Iris Press,). Something in the poem really grabbed me ‘cause truth to tell, I don’t normally read poetry…Since then every time I have seen a reference to Mr. Rash and his work, I have paid attention. I am glad I did, and I really wish I could have been in Floyd that night to have heard the words in the voice of the man who wrote them…I am going to post a piece of “The Exchange” here, please go read the whole thing and then try a book or two…

The Exchange Between Wytheville, Virginiaand the North Carolina line,he meets a wagon headedwhere he’s been, seated besideher parents a dark-eyed girlwho grips the reins in her fist,no more than sixteen, he’d guessas they come closer and shedoesn’t look away or blushbut allows his eyes to holdhers that moment their lives pass.He rides into Boone at dusk,stops at an inn where he buyshis supper, a sleepless nightthinking of fallow fields stillmiles away, the girl he mightnot find the like of again.

A bit of family myth and the voice of a poet, with that combination, all of us would have a chance to write the epic of our own mythology.

From the Iris Press website:

Ron Rash’s family has lived in the southern Appalachian mountains since the mid-1700’s, and it is this region that is the primary focus of his writing. Rash grew up in Boiling Springs, North Carolina, and graduated from Gardner-Webb College and Clemson University. He is currently the Parris Distinguished Professor of Appalachian Studies at Western Carolina University. He is the author to three books of poetry: Eureka Mill, Among the Believers (2000, Iris Press,) and Raising the Dead (2002, Iris Press); and two collections of short stories: The Night The New Jesus Fell to Earth (1994), and Casualties (2000.) . He is also author or two acclaimed novels: One Foot in Eden (2002,) and Saints at the River (2004,) and one book for children: The Shark’s Tooth.

His poetry and fiction have been published in over 80 journals and magazines including Yale Review, Georgia Review, Oxford American, New England Review, Southern Review, Shenandoah and DoubleTake. Ron Rash has received frequent awards and recognition for his writing, including The Appalachian Writers Association Book of the Year Award for 2003 and Forward Magazine’s Gold Medal for Best Literary Novel of 2002, both for his debut novel, One Foot in Eden.”