Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Our cedar Christmas tree is stripped of it's lights and decorations and now sits outside where birds use it's limbs for brief respites. When cardinals come, drab cedars turn back into gaudy Christmas trees. Red, white and green are today's colors. White swirls across the deck. Finches, juncos in numbers; woodpeckers at the beef fat hanging.
Inside, warm, and reflective, I am two weeks past knee surgery. Two weeks of forced reticence and, yes, pain. But I have given myself over to modern chemistry and little white pills. They have helped stay the gremlin while I've watched Kathy carry in firewood, stoke the fire, feed the birds, and absorb other tasks that are normally mine. But, I progress, if slowly.
Rock Eddy Bluff Farm is closed and will be for several weeks. I have fallen backward into sloth and indolence, while outside the birds struggle and flit in the cold whiteness. Nearby, green cedars frame a snow covered landscape running onward to a grey horizon.
There is a certain zen today, one of simple awareness.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
Transportation was provided by Amtrak and then Megabus on the return (look it up - http://www.megabus.com/ ) Our hotel was of a class that was clearly above our station in life, but it had excellent views of the Chicago River and the skyline of Chi town.
Well, we just had an excellent time and nearly froze our collective hineys off. Boy Howdy, was it cold. (When was the last time you heard Boy Howdy'?) We had two and a half days in town, but ran out of time quickly. Here is what we saw:
- Millennium Park
- Macy's Christmas windows and Santa
- The Science and Industry Museum (5 stars)
- The Shedd Aquarium
- The German Christmas Market
- "Precious" at the Movie Theatre
- Quite a lot of town thru the taxi window.
- Those city fellers sure know how to charge a lot. (Or, as they say in the country, "They's real proud of their stuff.")
- No matter where you are you can get a taxi quick.
- There is a real good reason that they call it "The Windy City."
- Big Cities are really kinda neat -- enough to spend up to two and a half days.
- There sure are lots of things to see and we'd like to go back again once we save up some cash.
- It is so much fun to have a Christmas break with family.
- Little grand kids are wonderful but very tiring.
From down on the Bluff, The Hired Man
Friday, November 27, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Monday, October 26, 2009
Sadly, last Saturday may have been the last time we will make molasses in our neighborhood. The hosts are getting older and even with lots of help, the responsiblity of the event tires them considerably. It will be a loss for all of us. Likely, this old-fashioned process will only seen only as an attraction at country fairs and festivals.
From the Hills, The Hired Man, Missus, and young folk
Thursday, October 22, 2009
I am sitting here on our sun porch above the valley as evening light weakens in a drizzling rain that has lasted all day. Oh, the rain has taken its share of the golden leaves. This morning they swirled and eddied around the house as we, inside, begrudged each one making its way earfthward. But, this evening we still have color in the timber, leaves hanging on waiting for some more October sunshine and painted blue sky. Yes, the woods are less dense now; you can see further into the trees. But, without a strong wind tonight we will have more golden autumn days ahead.
Already we have marked off a few of our alloted golden fall days. Together with our daughter and grandchildren we have loaded a couple of ATVs with a picnic and headed into the countryside. We careened up dry creek beds, meandered down country roads known to only a few, and visited old house places back in the timber that are no longer connected to roads. It was truly wonderful, and left us wanting more.
But even rainy fall days have their compensations. With guests enscounsed in their cabins, I suspect they are on the porches listening to the patter of the rain on tin roofs. And, often this time of year sleep comes early, peaceful and long.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Problem was, Kennedy (before he was killed), had warmed up a little war in far off Viet Nam that now looked like it would only get bigger. "Rats," I thought.
At my local Selective Service Office (the draft board) I was assured that I would be drafted into the Army the moment my commitment with the Peace Corps ended. That would extend my service to the country by at least two years. And I thought, "How could they take someone with my sensibilities into the infantry (known as 'Grunts')?"
So, I joined the Navy Flight program and was whisked off to Pensacola, Florida. Along with several other guys, I was slammed into a program called "Preflight". The Idea was to convert college kids, over a period of months, into Officers ready to become Naval Aviators. It was intense. It was memorable.
I am remembering all of this because my old roomie in Preflight, Denny Bolena (Cadet Boloney) has just visited us on the bluff. Hey, in case you are not counting, we last saw each other a mere 45 years ago. Denny was a kid from Queens, out of ethnic Albanian extraction. I was a kid from the Missouri hills. We hit it off wonderfully.
So, it was a blast to see him and his wife, Jan, when they drove in a couple of days ago. We caught up with each other. We discussed Navy friends and their adventures. We commented how we could still see some of those fresh-faced kids in the images of the older gentlemen we have become.
We remembered the time during a RLP (room, locker and personnel inspection) when he gave the one-finger salute to the Marine Drill Sargent while standing behing him. My eyes fickered and then I broke. So, I was the one with a substancial number of demerits added to my total.
There were many nearly forgotten recollections. Our memories complimented each other, so that in the end we both relived much of the decades-old experience.
Thanks Denny for coming. Here are some photos of us as we now appear. And just for practice, Cadet Bolena, I would like you to put yourself on report for flipping that bird.
Monday, June 15, 2009
We are surrounded here by creeks with low water crossings and simple concrete fords. When the creeks are up we are stranded, and that is our condition this morning. We can stand a pretty fair rain before our final avenue of escape becomes closed to us. That is the low water bridge on highway E about two miles from the house. Here is a picture taken this morning.
What is the reason for the change in the weather. Perhaps it is a shift in weather patterns in general. I hesitate to mention global warming because that brings the ire of locals who hold that the whole thing is just another liberal plot to take over more of the world.
You all have a good day, and think of us hillbillies living like we did before we got electric down here in the woods.
The Hired Man and Missus stuck at home in the dark.
Thursday, June 11, 2009
Friday, June 5, 2009
Probably there was a body of evidence showing that whiskey and guns don't mix, or when they do, the results are rather messy. Hey, I've been in enough redneck roadhouses myself to entertain that same notion.
Turns out that those saloons back in Dodge during the wild west were probably run by a bunch of limp-wristed liberals. The legislature of the State of Tennessee has corrected that idea.
Acording to the news, the Tennessee legislature passed a law allowing guns to be carried in drinking establishments. So, whem the bill comes to the governor he vetos it, saying that people get silly when they drink and perhaps silly people should not be armed in bars. That idea so upset the legislature that they overrode the veto with more votes than the original bill received.
A Tennessee political spokesmen of some persuasion made a statement afterward. This isn't an exact quote but catches the meaning: "Things will be a lot safer when everyone who is not a convicted felon inside the bar is packing heat somewhere on his person."
Now I don't want to pass judgment on this situation or differ with the collective wisdom of the Tennessee legislature. But I do plan to remain cold sober when in Tennessee. And I think I will steer clear of bars, roadhouses, and whiskey palaces.
Its probably because I am not as fast on the draw as I used to be.
The Hired Man
Thursday, June 4, 2009
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Friday, May 22, 2009
Saturday, May 16, 2009
There is was, a slender little rag, printed in one-color. Nothin fancy but wonderfully, no advertisements at all. I spent the first night with my new copy of The Sun in my ritual nighttime read-myself-to-sleep session. That did it. I was hooked.
I'm not gonna try to explain the magazine, except to say that I think.....I hope...it will touch you. It is quite varied in content. Let me go find a quote -- what they say about themselves. I'll be right back.
"The Sun is an independent, ad-free monthly magazine thatOK, that's a start. Want more? Go to this website http://www.thesunmagazine.org/ There you can look over the past issue and see if it suits you. (Don't know how they make any money that way.) If y0u like it, it is worth your support as it struggles financially sometimes.
for more than thirty years has used words and photographs to invoke the splendor
and heartache of being human. The Sun celebrates life, but not in a way that
ignores its complexity. The personal essays, short stories, interviews, poetry,
and photographs that appear in its pages explore the challenges we face and the
moments when we rise to meet those challenges.
The Sun publishes the work of
emerging and established artists who are striving to be thoughtful and
authentic. Writing from The Sun has won the Pushcart Prize, been published in
Best American Short Stories and Best American Essays, and been broadcast on
National Public Radio.
The Sun invites readers to consider an array of
political, social, and philosophical ideas and then to join the conversation.
Each issue includes a section devoted entirely to writing by readers, who
address topics as varied as Telling the Truth, Neighbors, Hiding Places, Second
Chances, and Gambling."
I'm keeping my subscription paid up.
Thank you Amy, The Hired Man and Missus
p.s. I ain't making no money in case yer wondering! But sometime I want to tell you how doing what we do allows us to meet some pretty wonderful people at Rock Eddy Bluff Farm.
Friday, May 15, 2009
The idea was totally Philippe's and he has exchanged with perhaps twenty or more inns on four continents. By contrast, we have exchanged with only two international inns: one in France and one in Scotland. Click here to see a list of the inns Philippe has visited.
The photo shows the Hired Man and Missus with Philippe and his mother on a beautiful French day.
After returning from France a few years ago, I wrote a web page about our experience and visit with Philippe at his Gite in La Bastide in the south of France. Poking around the Internet this morning, I found that page translated into four languages on Philippe's website.
The page has lots of photos and links to interesting French things. So, for today's reading material, I thought I could just send you to that web page. http://www.etoile.fr/fr/sejour6.htm (If you want to read it in English, just click on the British flag.)
Philippe is a wizard with web pages, so if you want to follow any of his many links from the page you will find loads of interesting stuff. And, if you ever want to his gite, L 'Etoile http://www.etoile.fr/, in the Cevennes region of France, let us know and we will help you plan your adventure.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Friday, May 8, 2009
We had a wonderful time while we were away. Here are a few of the things we did:
We slowed down. For most of the trip we did not get over 50 mph. That is the speed limit on the Natchez Trace and we maintained the same speed up thru the small ramshackle towns of the Mississippi and Arkansas Delta.
We immersed ourselves in the western theatre of the Civil War. Kathy was really excited because she is such a CW buff. In her words she "had a rosy glow" as we visited CW sites. I will include some photos taken at the battle site at Shiloh.
The siege of Vicksburg was quite interesting also.
We met some interesting characters. I think I have already written about one of them. One lady at a small Civil War center was starved to talk. She is 88 years and talked about her early life. While we were their her son, who is my age or older brought her lunch. he said, "Here is you lunch Mama!" She was married at 15. "We didn't have ANYTHING when we got married. Well, we had a little bit of food." Her husband has been gone for 22 years.
Spent family time with daughter and family. That is another topic.
We riffled a few antique stores and flea markets. We found that there are an inferior species of fleas at those places in the south. Found a few things that are truly unique.
I'll try to do a better job now. The Hired Man http://www.rockeddy.com/
Friday, April 17, 2009
Yesterday we were touring the battleground called Shiloh . We find it interesting how the battle related to the topography, the ground, how the army was pushed up against the river and were only saved by reinforcements by water during the night.
So, during the day we spent tracing the history upon the land, we met another fellow doing the same in company with his daughter. You could tell that he was almost agitated with the excitement of day. We talked for a while. He was a southerner and traced his lineage to participants in the battle. He hailed originally from the Cumberland region of eastern Tennessee. He was a retired college professor and a wholly likable gentleman.
Our conversation touched on a subject that has stayed with me... that started me considering. The question we both wondered was this: How could men who were neighbors be pushed to the passionate savagery needed for this kind of killing. Official numbers put the total casualties --killed, wounded and missing -- at nearly 25,OOO.
Here are my reflections later in the evening, after we had retired to the woodland where our camper is now stationed: Throughout history, wars are fought between groups of people who differ in race/color, language, or religion. Both sides realize that "they are not like us" so savagery is made easier by some degree. For confirmation, simply consider our relatively recent wars: Korea, Viet Nam, and those bloody incursions into the middle east.
But, here at Shiloh there were none of those differences. Both sides were Americans; both were the same color, the same religion and spoke the same language. Perhaps this conundrum is a key reason why we Americans have been so obsessed with the civil war since the 186O's. How could neighbors, brothers and aquaintances do this to each other?
It was an invigorating day with spring in full force. Dogwood and redbud were in amazing flower. The sun shone yesterday upon the killing fields where almost at this same time of year soldiers drank from "bloody Pond" were dead men and horses had turned with water red. That happened on April 6 and 7, 1862.
I wish now that we had our southern acqaintance from yesterday for some more "considering".
Bonus question: Guess which key on my computer keyboard has stopped working? I was gonna put some neat photos with today's blog. But technology is failing us on this trip. One laptop has gone belly up and the ancient backup computer we keep as backup can't read the camera card. So, use your imagination!!
Friday, April 10, 2009
And, like many other trips, this time we are also a little weak on planning. We like it that way. We happen upon things and experiences without anticipating them. No schedule!
Here's how we plan: We mark off days on our calendar for travel days a full year ahead. We say, "We're gonna be gone here, on those days that have X's on them." Quite often don't know our destination until shortly before leaving. This time we knew only that we were going to take the RV (5th wheel trailer).
Then someone said, "how about we head down to the Natchez Trace?" We agreed that the direction was right, as we would be heading into the northward march of spring. We could piddle around on the Trace we figured, which is something like 440 miles long, take in some neat civil war battlefields while we were about it, and do some serious relaxing. And, since we have been on portions of the trace before, we know there are some interesting experiences to be had under spanish moss-laden trees. Oh yes, and then there are the birds, and flowers and flowering trees and gentle southern breezes.
We were arranging to meet our Canadian pal, Cathy Collins, on the Trace as she returned home from her usual winter in Mexico with her tiny Scamp trailer . But she learned at the last minute that her brother in Scotland had died and she had to beat a direct path home. We will miss her this year.
So, PeeVee (our dog) has had a bath, we are mostly packed, and before long I will hook the whole rig together and get it in traveling mode. Cell phones are wonderful as they allow us to transfer our land line to the cell and get all calls we normally woujld. A laptop with an "air card" usually gets us internet access as we move about. And with a solar (photovoltaic) system on the roof of the camper, we can stop and be quite comfortable virtually anywhere.
Gotta get going now. I'm gonna slap in a photo of some camping spot we have had in the past. We'll see!
Tuesday, April 7, 2009
Didn't happen! The hired man and the missus at Rock Eddy Bluff Farm http://www.rockeddy.com/ ate their share. We were followed by our daughter, who was here at the time, and her two children (Ages 1 yr. and nearly 3 yrs.). There was no effect from the mushrooms.
That mushroom was delicious! As you can see from the picture, the mushroom fried up well. We actually ate it for breakfast, and, as I remember, we had little else until noon. The picture shows what was left.
We have found nine small common morels in our drive and will escort them to our digestive tracts soon. It occurs to me that with mushroom season coming on strong, you may like some reliable information. Here are a couple of websites: Mid-Missouri M0rels and Mushrooms and see what the Missouri Department of Conservation has to say.
Thursday, April 2, 2009
We discovered this mushroom yesterday and waited to harvest it. In the Ozark parlance, this is known as a "red one". The reason is that most native folk around here recognize only the two most common edible mushrooms. The call them red ones and white ones. The white ones are actually common morels. This "red one" is a false morel. They are larger than the white ones. Now, the experts say to be careful with eating the false morels. They say that sometimes eating them can cause serious illness in some people. However, everyone I know eats them without affect, and so do we (and so will be have this one for breakfast tomorrow).