Saturday, November 1, 2008

Halloween Snake -maybe a red belly racer

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Hallooween wood part two

Halloween Wood

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The snake

Yesterday, Halloween, was just a nice day. The weather was perfect. I planted about 100 black walnuts in the big garden. It was warm but I still had to hoe a couple of inches of snow to make a row. Now, if they grow...spring will tell.
The rosie reds were in schools swimming in the new pond enjoying the warm sunshine. It was the first time I saw them swimming in schools (about three groups of them). It was neat.
Mike and John showed up and we went up back in the woods to begin cutting up an old beech tree that fell down one day in July almost a year and a half ago. I was walking up the foot path that day with the Yaw. It was warm, sunny, clear blue sky and very calm.
Suddenly, there was a loud crash and the woods became brighter. The tree, likely well over 100 years old, was on the ground hardly 75 feet away.
Last winter I cut some of the branches for firewood but my chain saw wasn't able to really cut the larger branches or the trunk. When Mike and John saw the tree a couple weeks ago, they decided it was worth the time and effort to harvest the rest of the wood.
We spent most of the afternoon cutting and splitting that tree. It was a great afternoon to be in the woods. During a short break, we saw the snake in the sawdust. It was a small snake, maybe eight inches. I am thinking maybe it was hibernating in the tree and we woke it up. It didn't have a real good attitude.
We got to thinking about seeing a snake on Halloween and shortly we were back in my kitchen eating a loaf of bread I made in the bread machine. It is a day, an afternoon actually, I'll likely never forget.
I think I might have close to enough wood for the rest of winter. Yesterday, Jeff also split quite a bit of wood, maybe upwards of a chord. That is in addition to the other chord or so that I had cut and stacked over the last couple months. Once I get the Halloween wood down here, I am thinking I have close to four chords of firewood. It will be a warm January and February and some memories of some good times.

Friday, October 31, 2008

The first snowfall

Halloween October 31st 2008

It has been some time since I have had the time to collect some thoughts and write here. I guess the scariest part of Halloween this year would be a Republican victory on Tuesday, election day.
But I don't think that is going to happen. Far from it, the Dems and Obama are on the brink of a victory of perhaps landslide proportions. The end is in sight, whew! Eight years of the Bush Disaster and 21 months of the McCain campaign's sleaze has raised the misery index for millions of people.
In the last two months, the economic meltdown on Wall Street has been a big focus, and even now, the future of the economy still looks bleak. Everyday I am meeting people out of work or who have had work hours cut back. There is a lot of worry about how to pay the bills and a lot of creative thinking about how to raise extra cash. I've found myself doing the same.
The weather changed quickly. October 19th was the first hard frost and on October 27th the first snowfall of about six inches. Today, however, it will melt- sunny skies this morning and temps will reach into the sixties.
On September 26, I had the Frog Bog, a small marshy area, dug out and deepened on one side. Within the week, it filled after some heavy rains the first week of October and Jeff, my friend and I, added some rosie red minnows.
I also spent a lot of time planting some things around the pond, mostly native wild flowers. It should look pretty sharp in the spring when winter breaks. More on this later. The project kept me pretty busy.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

McShame's Baked Alaska Melts the GOP

The Democratic Convention in Denver was historic, dramatic and amplified the stark contrasts between the political parties. Bill Clinton's speech was just terrific as was Joe Biden's. Both helped to forge a people's agenda.
During the primaries, I became somewhat disillusioned with Bill Clinton; I think he got pretty snarly and petty. But he rose above the fray, and in my estimation, I re-learned a lot of admiration and respect for him.
Biden was just super and what a stark difference from the Cheney mentality!
Obama was unbelievably good. He really got the the stadium fired up on the last night. I think his acceptance will will go down in history as one of the most important in American politics. He clarified his values and his life and set forth a detailed agenda for his presidency. His acceptance speech came on the anniversary of King's "I have a Dream." speech in the Washington Mall.
The Republicans, on the other hand, continued to demonstrate their crass political agenda and pettiness. I really think this is a political party in deep trouble ( and I think most of the party members realize it). The GOP comes across as being political animals who would sell off their own mother's for a vote; a snarly, petty group who aren't really interested in the country, only their own agenda.
McShame announced his choice for vice-president, the Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin. She has only been Governor for two years and before that was a mayor of a small town. While the woman does have some good attributes as far as the outdoors, she likes hunting and fishing, she is hardly a good choice for the second slot on the GOP ticket. She is relatively an unknown who has zero foreign policy experience.
This selection comes at a time when the nation is at war, the economy is near a depression and there is a myriad of problems on the home front - poverty, crime, a a failing educational system.
What was McShame even thinking? And to think he is now 72 years old and selects someone who is so inexperienced? Was it crass politics to get more women to vote for him? Or was it a crass attempt to throw a curve ball into the election with a surprise announcement? Or both?
Sarah Palin, from what I have read and seen so far, is not an environmentalist. She wants more drilling for oil in Alaska to solve the energy crisis. Hardly, an intelligent position when we should be freeing ourselves of the yoke of oil.
Her selection is perhaps the biggest blunder yet. One has to question, seriously, McShame's judgement. This was simply foolish and will only deepen the demise of the GOP.
In other horrible news, Hurricane Gustav is a monster storm ready to hit the Gulf Coast, which is being evacuated. It could be the storm of the century. I hope not but it does not look real good. I am sure that some Republicans will find a way to blame the Democrats.
The monster storm comes on the heel of the three year anniversary of Katrina. While Bush and McShame celebrated his birthday over 1,500 Americans were killed, thousands lost their homes, and thousands were stranded without food, water and proper sanitation. The government's response to the crisis was nothing short of a complete debacle and disaster.
This is Labor weekend, on a somewhat lighter note, and the weather here is just great; warm sunny and not a cloud in the sky. Actually, here we could use a little rain, it has been dry of late.
But then again, winter is coming, and the only hopeful change will be the great democratic victory in early November.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

This election is about the future

Hillary Clinton's speech at the convention last night was brilliant. I was somewhat disappointed with her during the primary elections because of her attitudes towards Obama, but she redeemed herself more than a hundred percent.

Yup, there are critics that say she should have gone on the attack more but I am not convinced of that. It was a very important speech on the anniversary of Women's Suffrage.

She campaigned very hard and had her heart and soul into the primary election, but let's face it, she lost. And last night I thought she was very gracious.

Former President Bill Clinton is scheduled for this evening. I have a gut feeling he is going to go after McShame even more and really throw a lot of support to Obama. Bill will really bring the unity among the Dem's to the forefront and his support will prove to be crucial to the fall campaign.

Three others I heard last night were really powerful as well. The Governor of Montana, Schwerfzer, had the delegates on their feet a number of times. He tied in the country's energy crisis with McShame "plantations" spread across the country.

John Warner, a candidate for US Senator from Virginia and a former governor was equally as good. In particular, I liked his comments that this election is about the future not the past.

Bob Casey, the US Senator from Pennsylvania was also very, very good and threw a lot of support towards Obama. In particular, he mentioned that he disagrees with Barak on the issue of abortion, but yet, he and Barak can still work together and we all need to because we simply can not live under another four years of the same tragedy Bush and crowd have created.

So much for last nights politics, the left overs from Hurricane Fay could start to spread some rain here beginning later today, a little rain wouldn't hurt. Though southern rains sometimes bring a blight to this region vegetable crops, mainly tomatoes.

One of the almanac, I think it is the Farmers Almanac, is calling for a pretty brutal winter here in northwestern Pennsylvania. To me they are all sort of brutal but kind of fun too. But that means, I need to get back in the woods for more firewood.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Something Happin Here

I watched the opening of the Democratic Convention last night, while not the entire event. I missed the early hours and then turned the television on just before Caroline Kennedy introduced a video of her uncle Sen. Ted Kennedy.
He was given a rousing and emotional greeting and still had the great Kennedy flair, intensity and charisma. He's dealing with brain cancer.
Michelle Obama was just terrific. Granted, she was likely prompted by speech writers and advisers and had a goal to accomplish. She just came across as a strong, good woman, a human being like all of us. There were no snippy airs, but rather just a homespun simplicity and honesty.
It was a remarkable opening, and the videos of the other speakers and the interviews with delegates and observers all had a common thread. The Hope and the Dream of equality and opportunity.
I sense there is something very important going on here. Certainly, I was watching American History unfold, but it is also World History in the making, unfolding a new direction for all people.
I get the sense, the opening was a real watershed moment for all of us. This election, and the eventual Obama presidency, will be more than a political event.
Maybe, that is overly hopeful, but "something is happenin here."

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Woodshed

The Democratic Convention opened this afternoon in Denver. I think it is sort of a "Forest Gump" moment in American History. Somewhere in the future, it's true importance will be realized. At the moment, I don't hear a lot of people talking about it, or for that matter, even the upcoming election. But there is sure to be more discussion about the candidates as October unfolds.
John McShame still comes across to me as a vindictive, grumpy old man, whose starting to loose his grip on reality. I don't think his GOP handlers are doing him any favors.
This past week, the McShame couldn't even remember how many homes he owned (McPlantation) while wearing his $500 Italian loafers. The GOP handlers defense was plain stupid..well he was a POW. Good Grief!
They have been using this POW line almost daily and it has absolutely nothing to do with the price of butter...any where in the world.
All of the drama aside, I still think, the GOP misrepresentations of the truth, of the honest facts, is what is most troublesome for me. They are setting a horrific example for younger generations. To tell a lie is okay. To bear false witness is okay. I don't hear any neo-right winger Christians saying otherwise. The GOP has taught a whole generations that the truth is not important and it is okay to lie.
On a lighter note, the weather here in northwestern Pennsylvania is changing; there is a coolness in the air, and the sun is slipping away quicker and quicker. The local community fairs are about half over; the Celebrate Erie fest is over, Crawford ended this past weekend, while Wattsburg opened. Next weekend, Waterford and Spartansburg open. I haven't made it to one of them yet.
September/October can be great months, then it is time to look out. Winter will soon settle in for the next four or five months and I need to get busy cutting splitting and stacking wood.
And that's a thought, someone should take McPlantation out behind the woodshed,

Saturday, August 16, 2008

One final wild flower photo for the day

The Village of Riceville

Work as a freelance journalist is interesting to say the least. This is the first one I'll post, although I've been doing this for twenty some years now. In the future, I'll post more. This one appeared in the Crawford County Neighbors section of the Erie Times News on Friday, August 15th, 2008. I usually have a story or two every week.
Riceville, in Crawford County, is a small place, blink and you miss it. In many ways, it's rural America and the challenges faced by small communities and their organizations. While some folks make billions, there's another world out there.

Winter heating bills are a looming burden for everyone, including church congregations. At the Riceville Methodist Church, it means selling a lot of baked goods, submarine sandwiches, crosses and fabric notepads to help meeting the cost of heating oil.
Smaller organizations, like the church, are facing some financial hurdles this winter.
“This is just so important for us because we are such a small congregation,”Our next sale will be this Saturday, August 16th at the park in front of the Frog Pond Restaurant in Canadohta Lake,” Barb Weisser, a member of the church and one of the organizers, said. “Our next sale will be this Saturday, August 16th at the park in front of the Frog Pond Restaurant in Canadohta Lake. We have had several throughout the summer to help raise the money to keep the church heated.”
The sale begins at 9 a.m. and should end around noon. The fund raiser will include a wide variety of homemade breads, cookies, pies and other food items. The Sunday School youth are making and decorating crosses which will also be for sale, the proceeds going into the heating fund; and the new leader of the congregation , Pastor Ray Speakmen will have homemade fabric notepads for sale.
“The fabric notepads are really unique and he learned the art from his aunt,” Weisser said. “Fifty percent of the proceeds from the notepads go towards the heating fund while the remainder is for a missionary project in China.”
Pastor Speakmen plans on being with members of the congregation at the park on Saturday.
“The fabric notebooks are just a neat little hobby and a lot of people like them,” he said. “I just arrived here on July 1st so I am not sure about how much fuel we use in the winter but I know it is a lot. We are just trying to be creative in raising money and attract new families. But since I have been here, I can tell you that there will be some excellent and really good baked goods along with the crafts.”
The Riceville Church, which currently has about 15 to 20 families, is a historic building located on Route 77. Riceville is a small community in Bloomfield Township close to Canadohta Lake.
According to the 2002 census, Riceville had a population of 82 residents. Currently, the Riceville Church is connected to the Methodist Church in Centerville.
Riceville was incorporated as a Borough 1859 and was named after Samuel Rice, the first pioneer who settled in the region in 1831 and erected a saw mill on Oil Creek.
The Riceville Methodist Church was first organized in 1849 and worship services were held in various locations including the one room school. Finally, in 1874, the church was erected for a cost of $4,500.
“There is so much history here.” Weisser said. “Most of our furnishing have all been donated over the years, many of them as memorials. Even the bell in the steeple was donated by the Congregational Church in 1931.”
The village once boasted a population of 314 people in the 1880 census and the community has several woodmaking shops, three general stores, two physicians, a hotel, and the Union and Titusville Railroad use to chug through the community on a daily basis.
Today, neither the church nor the village is quite such a bustling place but winter remains as cold and as costly as before.
“It can be an icebox here in Riceville during the winter,” Weisser said. “We keep the the oil furnace turned down low during the week, just enough to keep the water pipes from freezing. But we push the temperature up for Sunday services. It is just so expensive.”

Joe Pye Weed

GoldenRod Full Moon

As mentioned yesterday, the goldenrods began to bloom. But it was getting towards dusk and a little dark for a decent photograph. I waited until this morning and took the dog for a walk. It was only 50 degrees, a bit cool for this time of the year, but sunny.
In several weeks, the golden rods will put on quite the golden-yellow display; the wild honey bees really are attracted to them. Grabbed a photo of some of the Joe Pye weed too; the monarch butterflies are usually all over these but not this morning. Maybe a tab too early and chilly for them.
The moon was brilliant last night; tonight is the official full moon.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Tomatoes, Golden Rods and the cornered rat.

Today, actually this evening, I first noticed the golden rods beginning to bloom. Summer is on the wane but September and October can be really nice weather months.
The tomatoes and beans are going pretty good and every day I am able to pick some to eat or give away. If nothing happens, like a killer blight, I am going to be swamped with tomatoes. I have about 260 plants which look okay so far, nothing really terrific but still...and finally the watermelons took off, there are about two dozen at different stages and the plants are covered with yellow blossoms. I plant a smaller, short season melon called Black Tail Mountain. They are good.
We had a powerful hail, thunder and lightning storm Monday evening. It did some damage to the vegetables in the garden but not all that bad;bruised up a few tomatoes and sliced some plants here and there.
The more I see and hear John McCain (aka McShame) the more I think the guy is loosing his grip. Yesterday, some not-so-talented writer by the name of Corsi released a hate-spite-awful book about Obama. I read some excerpts and it is just literally enough to make a sane person vomit. McShames response was tasteless and something to the effect about the need for humor. And this is the guy who told us all he wanted to run a decent, upright campaign! Actually, the presumptive GOP candidate has been acting like a rat in a corner. How anyone can vote for this guy is way beyond my imagination.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

August arrives

Wow! July is gone. Hard to believe the summer is whipping along so fast.
Christopher has been here the past several days. He is pretty cool at 16 and glad to have him around. I think he is experiencing some things here that he doesn't get a chance to experience at home in Las Vegas -- like picking the blueberries and blackberries which are at their peak right now - and splitting wood.
Hopefully, his future will be better come November when Obama wins the next presidential race (I think he will be elected); the Bush Depression is serious, awful and insulting to common folk.
McShame (aka Bush #3) continues to make a complete fool of himself. It is hard to believe that anyone can support this guy for president. And like I mentioned in the last post, it is disgraceful the way his political machine lies and cheats while dibbling in tabloid gossip stuff instead of focusing on the real issues and real people. The grumpy old man should never hold another public trust -- except maybe as mayor of some desolate western ghost town. Even then, he would probably scare the rats.
On happier news, the garden is doing pretty well and the tomatoes are beginning to ripen and I picked the first beans yesterday. May/June was cold and rainy so everything was off to a late start this year.
I dug up the first bed of garlic and it is looking pretty good so far. The weather forecasts look good, pretty much warm and sunny with a slight chance of rain. There seems to be no major storms in the near future although Friday night there a powerful thunder storm. It happened about 3 a.m. and some people had quite a bit of hail but I didn't hear or see any here.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

John McShame (aka Bush #3) has really made an ignorant fool of himself this past week or ten days. He keeps telling lies despite the fact he has been called on it; despite his pledge to run an honest campaign, he has now sunk into the cess pool of GOP politics. He just comes across as a grumpy old man.
And he wants to lead the free world? Good Mother of God!
What I think is important here, however, are the family values involved in the McShame behavior - the same arrogant behavior we have had to live under for the last eight years.
The family value is really a personal one as well - it is called truth and honesty. Is the McShame campaign teaching our young people that it is alright to outright lie? That it is alright to be mean and nasty?
A lot of Hollywood celebs are rightly scorned for how they infleunce our young - the GOP fruit cake squad is perhaps even worse. They are a real and present danger to our Democratic ideals and freedoms.
And while I am thinking about it, there seems to be a commandment which stipulates that we should not bear false witness against anyone.
Well, maybe McShame and crowd are acting like little school bullies because they know darn well they will loose in November.
But that isn't a good reason to lie to America or the world.
And I don't hear any outcry from the Christian right about teaching our younger citizens it's okay to lie. But then again, many in the Christian right camp are wolves in sheep's clothing.
What a bunch of creeps!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Computer, Politics and some local news.

The old computer finally died this week around July 22. So on the 24th borrowed some money and bought a new one. The operating system is Windows Vista and so far does not seem too bad, not a lot of funny stuff. Hopefully.
Obama has been in Europe and the Middle East all week. From what I can see, he did a fantastic job for this country with a more people oriented approach rather than the arrogrance we have witnessed over the last 8 years.
McShame was here in the states and was being his typical grouchy old self. He really seems to to nothing buy complain and make snarky remarks. Of course, it was fine for him to go to a fund raiser in England and give a political speech in Canada about the good times with NAFTA.
Brady Sonney's youngest daughter, Allison was killed by the family dog yesterday. It was a horrible tragedy and the first time a dog has killed a person in recent memory in these parts. No one understands just yet what and how it happened.
Finally, we have had some rain in the last couple weeks, it is really wet and soggy outside.
more later....

Saturday, June 28, 2008

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Still working on some computer glitches. WE had a powerful thunder and lightning storm and somehow my modem got fried. Thankfully, Tony was here within a couple hours after my call and he has everything pretty good. At least so to try to get the Luna Moth online.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Luna Moth Discovery

June 21, 2008

It happened again late last night, maybe around 2 in the morning. This was the second time a Luna Moth flew inside through an open window. I wasn't sure what it was at first and thought it was a bat.
I didn't recognize it and am not sure if I have seen one before. But it was beautiful, even exotic. I took a picture with the digital but can't seem to download it but I will once I get someone to help. The computer is up and working somewhat but am still having some probs--like with the digital. Tony stopped by last night and he got some things up and running on the computer for me and corrected some of my mistakes. I'll post the Luna photo someday soon.
The Luna landed on the table and I was able to get a fairly decent photo. I was able to capture it with a towel and let it go back outside.
I checked out some facts about the moth on several web sites. Amazing creatures which live for only about a week.
It is a rainy Saturday but warm.

says it all

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It has been a crazy couple weeks.
The weather was really hot, then it got cold. The garden didn't like that much. Now in the last couple days, we have had a cold temps, and a lot of rain but not as bad as some places in Iowa.
Earlier this week, the computer decided to give me big ones. I think it is working okay now, fingers crossed. But am still having some probs with the digital cam, maybe tommorow. Taz stopped by today--that was really cool to see him and sit and have a good talk. Tony also stopped by and helped to get this up and running. Jeepers, he got married in January. It's getting late, so this is it for now.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Memorial Day, Ignorance and the Election

Over the last several days, I have been working on a Memorial Day story for the newspaper for which I freelance. Here in northwestern Pennsylvania there are a lot of story angles – a lot of material.
In almost every cemetery, large and small, literally thousands of flags mark the graves of Civil War veterans, along with those who have served this country ever since and even before the bloody north-south encounter. There are a lot of stories buried. Tragically, from the Civil War, there are many graves of young men in their late teens and early twenties, who fought for the Union.
This section of Pennsylvania was very much anti-slavery and there are numerous stories about the Underground Railroad. A more in depth look about that era shows that the churches were actively involved in the fight to free a people from the bondage and horrors of slavery.
Perhaps, one of the lesser known places around is the old John Brown farm in New Richmond Center (near Meadville,PA) where events are still held commemorating some of the events of that historic struggle against man's inhumanity to fellow men. Brown was eventually hung along with several others following the ill-fated raid on Harper's Ferry.
He was a deeply religious person who firmly believed that slavery was a scourge on America and was against all principles of Christianity. His intentions at Harper's Ferry was to free the slaves in the region in the hopes that the action would stir a general uprising throughout the south.
The freed slaves would be taken to safe houses scattered throughout Appalachia, a region deeply opposed to the rich landowners who used their wealth against the economically hard pressed mountain people.
The raid, in terms of today, would be considered homegrown terrorism and judged on more current values. However, it remains a poignant historical marker when taken into current context.
There is an unsettling and tragic ignorance among many in these regions today as the 2008 presidential race gets into full swing. The ugly face of racism against Barack Obama is showing it's stench. Pat Buchanan's column of March 21, 2008 is just one clear example, where he indicates the white race did the former slaves a tremendous favor against their own free will (among all sorts of other crazy and stupid claims).
What a total lack of historical or scholarly perspective. What a total disservice to this great nation. What a sacrilege against our veterans! Beware of false prophets dressed in sheepskin.
Yes, in the current context we need to support our troops; white black, brown, all colors and all genders. We don't have a “white” army.
And yes, Memorial Day, a national holiday created after that bloody conflict, is set aside as the official remembrance for those who sacrificed for our freedoms. Yes, it is a good time to re-examine the racial divides in this great country, to become more educated about our history and the forces that helped forge the greatest nation on earth. It is time to stop the bigotry.
On Memorial Day, it is time to stop the ignorant judgments based on “color” and examine a person's stand on issues facing the nation. There are those in this nation who need to change their attitudes and become Americans once again - every day. We need to do more than give lip service and send emails about supporting our veterans.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The American people, as well as much of the world's population, has endured a lot of misery under the Republicans of the last eight years. Hopefully, common sense will rule on election day and the Democrats will be returned to the White House, and win the greatest possible number of seats in both the House and the Senate.
To give the Republicans another term of power would be sheer idiocy and perhaps even an irrational act of suicidal proportions.
Granted, the Democrats are not first in line for sainthood, but they have not stooped to the depths of the GOP ever since the disputed 2000 Florida election. But, anyone would be hard pressed to find a Democratic administration as corrupt as the present day Republicans. The GOP scandals are simply too enormous.
The large numbers of Democrats and Independents participating in the current primary selection process are simple, plain evidence of the disgust in America with the present situation. The numbers are historic. The American voter is the most educated and informed in the entire world and clearly, they are not happy.
There are a number of reasons for the unease in America with the current administration; religion, the corrupt economy, a bellicose foreign policy and a disregard for the environment..
The demise of the GOP is largely due to the takeover of the party by the right wing, zealots of the so called Christian evangelicals. Fundamentally, the authoritarian and paternalistic attitude of “my way or no way” of the religious right wingers has led to the sad and ugly divisiveness in American politics. The GOP needs some time off to cast off the religious fanatics.
America has always been appalled at the very thought of state sponsored religion.
The GOP has also shot itself in the other foot with voodoo economic policies. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that our economy has wrecked. What is really behind the collapse of the housing market or escalating oil prices? Simple greed and corruption in the halls of power may prove to be one straightforward answer.
The GOP legacy of the last eight years has been a mishandled war. More and more, people are coming to the realization that we entered Iraq on shaky, if not outright false pretenses. We have lost thousands of soldiers and squandered billions of dollars while destroying another country and creating thousands of new terrorists.
Any serious foreign policy observer clearly understands that the foreign policy of this nation for the last eight years has been an epic failure.
The last eight years have simply not been good for our environment. There has been a disregard for clean air and water standards, our national park system is in disarray and the country remains undecided on a course to tackle global warming issues.
Yes, it is time for a major change in Washington and the Democratic Party stands at an important threshold. The Republican Party needs a major “time off” to cleanse itself. Hillary Clinton should now exit after a hard fought, but loosing battle. It would be good for America and the world.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Nature, Politics and Religion

Today is a rain day meaning I have some time to spend indoors and get some writing done. The weather has been near perfect since the last entry and I have spent a lot of time in the yard and backyard veggie garden.
This year I want to get a little stand together in the driveway and try to make some extra cash from selling some of the extra produce I grow. Writing jobs are scarce because the economy has pretty much tanked.
This past week nature really started to wake up. The bull frogs started croaking within the last couple of days and the jack-in-the-pulpit plants started blooming. They are an unusual, exoctic looking plant. The trilliums are started to bloom and the leeks are at their peak.
This week Obama seems to have clinched the nomination after a big win in North Carolina and just missed a victory in Indiana. I think he is the best nominee for the Dems for a number of reasons.
I guess one of the simplest reasons is I like the way in which Obama campaigns, his approach, his style. Clinton seems much too aggressive and almost "mean" in her approach.
But whoever the nominee will be, I will vote for because we don't need anymore Republicans running the county. The last eight years have been very difficult.
What is troublesome about the last eight years is the disregard for the truth. There is a spin for everything it seems irregardless of the facts. I wonder sometimes if that has filtered down into the popular culture. There just seems to be a general disregard for facts and evidence.
Perhaps, religion plays a role in this disregard. Too many preachers, too many churches proclaim they have the answers, the correct insights into the great mysteries, the direct pipeline to the Almighty's plan.
Perhaps, it is time to renew our sense of wonder and amazement; to stand in awe; to go quietly and pray, meditate alone or with a few others rather than standing before huge television crowds in multi-million dollar mega-chuches and arm waving congregations.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The weather forecasts were a little off the last day or two - thankfully. We did get a lot of rain, over an inch, and the temperatures did cool down into the thirties, but there was no snow, at least here on the hill.
The coyotes were yipping back in the woods last night. I started living here in 1973 and even then we heard coyotes and caught an occasional look at one or two. For some odd reason, many people seem to think the coyote is something new and there are a lot of really stupid rumors. I've heard stories about the coyotes attacking kids at a school bus stop; eating family cats and dogs; killing fawns etc.
Coyotes are wild animals and I am sure there could be cases of some contact which irritates some humans. I just can't find any documentation. But the hysteria remains and seems to grow. This past month there was a coyote hunt with dogs and the like by a group of people. I guess it was something to do for these folks, at least it got them outside. And I have heard rumors that at least one coyote was shot and killed. But again, there's no proof, no documentation, just common, small talk.
Every year there is an organized hunt in nearby Spartansburg and the hunters get a few and there are always pelts haning at the fur dealers place. Actually, the pelts are nice. So is the town of Spartansburg or "Sparty" for short. It's just a small place with a rather large Amish community, a lot of saw mills and farms. But even here in rural Sparty the rumors seems to persist.
I am not sure when people stopped thinking, questioning, and learning. If someone repeats a coyote story, it is taken automatically as Gospel and it spreads like the flu. "My cousins best friend told him that...."
I think something similar happened with the Pennsylvania primary on April 22 and Obama. People were just believing what they heard without asking any questions.
"Yup, the guy down the road swears the story about the the wild man eating little kids back in the swamps is true. He heard it from a very, very good friend the other night at the Dancing Slipper Bar and Grill."
Yup. Maybe people just don't have the time or energy to think things through anymore.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Spring Peepers and the "Dolly Varton"

About three weeks ago, when I first heard the spring peepers, I decided it was time to start recording some thoughts. Now April 28th, I am finally getting around to it.
It has been a topsy-turvy, typical April weather month in northwestern Pennsylvania. But we did have about two weeks of very nice, spring-like weather.
The spring peepers finally started singing on April 7th, which is a week or two later than normal. It's always good to hear them. It signals a new year.
A week later, I was able to plant peas and then lettuce, kale, mustard and spinach. Never really tried the mustard and kale; those seeds were free with a seed order and I said what the heck.
The tomatoes and peppers have been growing nicely inside the house and maybe next week the plants can out into the cold frame. I just don't trust the weather this week. The forecast for the next several days calls for night time temperatures to go below freezing with possible wet snow.
Last week the trout lilies started to bloom in the woods and the jack-in-pulpits started to emerge.
While nature was waking up, it seems Pennsylvania voters are still sleeping. Obama lost the state by ten percentage points on April 22 Hopefully, voters in Indiana and North Carolina will pick up the slack.
My favorite story ( I earn a meager living as a freelance writer) this past month was one of the memories of Caldwell Creek near Titusville, Pennsylvania. I was able to interview some fishermen, who are now in their mid-seventies, remember the creek when they were teenagers.
There is an old railroad that use to follow the creek. The train basically ran between Titusville and Dunkirk, New York hauling freight and passengers. In the early 1900's it was a popular passenger train called the "Dolly Varton". The service ended in 1937 and in the sixties the trains stopped completely and the tracks removed.