Thursday, November 13, 2008


I think I mentioned once or twice that we have some rental property. We have one house less, today. We may have one cat more.

Yesterday, the children and I kept hearing sirens while doing school. Gawkers that we are, we had to run out onto the front porch to see what we could see. What we saw was smoke billowing over the hill. We realized it had to be our house. Obviously we went on full scale gawker alert. We got into the car and drove over there.

The house was old, made of heart pine. It didn't take long. By the time the two closest fire departments arrived, the house was fully engulfed. By the time we arrived the roof had already caved. Fire is amazing. Fire is powerful.

No one was hurt, not even the pets, but the tenant only got out with the clothes on his back. Mr. W. went home and got him a few items even though the renter and my husband aren't the same shape or height. I'm not sure what, but something.

I had the all-overs all day. I kept thinking about our tenant and how he lost everything. I just couldn't shake that "It doesn't take long" feeling. I checked the stove about ten times before we left for ballet. I made mental lists of which things needed to go first if we had a fire.

I checked the fire alarms.

I'm thankful for all the volunteer fire people and passersby who took time out of their day to keep the rest of our property safe.

I don't think our tenant took his kitten. Don't you think I need just one more?

Friday, November 07, 2008

Hidden Picture

Can you find the pecans? Seriously, you can't walk without crunching one, but when you are harvesting you can't see them until you hear the crunch. When people come to the house, they rarely make it inside, not that I want anyone to see the mess. They stand in the yard, pick up pecans two by two and crack them, then eat - one of the pleasures of fall.

The chickens love them, too. As do the squirrels and crows.

Even so, we have collected bags full. We took one bag to the co-op and had it cracked. Now, every night we pick pecans, sitting on either side of a huge dishpan, competing, talking, thinking.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

This, That, and The Other

I hate to do this. I really like to post about one thing at a time, but I can't seem to find the time to post regularly. So here goes.


I feel that having knowledge that a certain vice-presidential candidate didn't know that Africa was a continent, not a country (My children, who aren't old enough to vote, know that Africa is a continent and consists of many countries.), and not telling it until after the election is a mal-practice of journalism. The idea that Fox News would save this morsel until after the election is just plain telling. Yet, I suspect people who wanted to know, could guess the state of preparation from the Katie Couric interviews.

How demeaning to our intelligence and sense of right and wrong it is to try to play off a poser on the American people for the sake of a win. What a scary thing is this lack of knowledge especially if it is indicative of the state of education in America and America's curiosity about the world beyond our doorstep. How did we get to this place? Is she really an everywoman? The world is so global now that I find it difficult to imagine how you could leave school without a clear idea of continents and countries. And if you didn't have this base information, what would make you think it was appropriate to say yes. Was it ignorance or complete lack of respect for America?


Jove, who has never lacked curiosity about anything, wanted more of my opinion about the bee decline. I don't think the decline is caused by one single thing. Insects, as are most animals, able to adapt to many stressers. Noticeable problems arise when there are a combination of stresses.

Jove asked specifically about the over harvest of honey and supplementing with high fructose corn syrup. I do believe, as I preached here, that commercializing bees and feeding substandard supplements is problematic. Dragging bees all over the country in 18-wheelers for commercial pollination just seems stressful, not just because the bees are separated from natural honey and fed cheap supplements, but because with the bees in such close proximity any disease, fungus, or mite can be easily transmitted. Any problems become noticeable quickly.

Add to commercialization of the pollination business, the use of genetically modified seeds, specifically corn that produces an insecticide in the pollen, and you create an additional decline. Yet, there is one other problem. The attempt to rid the nation of mosquitoes and other insects by broadcast spraying is devastating. Even in my rural county, a grant was sought and given for mosquito control. Instead of using the grant for education (emptying standing water, mosquito biting times, and effective larva control) they bought a sprayer and drove through the county roads spraying insecticide into the air. Because of lack of education about mosquito behavior, spraying started too early thereby killing bees that were still working and was rendered ineffective because it is impossible to spray the entire county from the road. Mosquitoes instead became immune to the chemicals and West Nile Virus was not reduced, yet bees were.

The Other.

I promised a book review of David Guterson's The Other back in the summer. Here it is.

When I first began reading this book, I was a bit disappointed. I thought it was nothing more than a thinly masked autobiography. You see I have read everything David Guterson has written including the homeschool book, so I knew he was a teacher (Countryman was a teacher), lived in the Northwest (the novel was set here as his others have been), and had other basic similarities of the character. I wasn't impressed because it seemed like a loosely tied journal purge.

But I kept reading. I kept reading to find that I could have been correct, but that the quality was hypnotic. I kept reading to struggle with questions of when to intervene if friends are damaging themselves. I kept reading to struggle with questions of hypocrisy, idealism, and worth. I kept reading because I was mesmerized. I had to know what happened to the Hermit of the Hoh in his attempt to live his convictions and how Neil mollified his conscience. I kept reading because the language was beautiful.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


I've voted. Here, there are no lines, few controversies, and no campaigning outside of the polling place. The only weirdness was that Roger Wicker, a Republican candidate for the Senate, printed out a sample ballot that made him appear to be a Democrat. I didn't get one, but they were around. I also got a text message that suggested that all Obama supporters should vote on Wednesday. Since Mississippi is sooo Republican, we are, for the most part, left to our devices. Thank goodness.

Anyway, I took my children to the polls. We voted for the environment, diplomacy, calm in the face of economic and military strife, and we voted for privacy. We voted for the best international representative for our country. We voted for the future.

Now, we wait to see how the rest of America voted. Go. Make your voice heard!