Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Melungeons

The picture above is of the Goins family one of the family names associated with the group.
I just finished reading a book called Kinfolks, Falling Off the Family Tree by Lisa Alther that tells of the author growing up in Kingsport, Tenn and her search to uncover the story of her Melungeon (or not) heritage. Most of the places in the book are places that I know well, so this makes it more interesting to me.
Lots of theories and legends about the Melungeons ranging from the survivors of the Lost Colony to Turkish slaves dropped off by Francis Drake. The mixing of Indians and African Americans and Sephardic Jews are also part of the legend/theories.
Recent DNA testing of some claiming a Melungeon ancestry show some evidence of Turkish ancestors. What this says to me is that so much of what we know as history leaves out so much of people's real lives, their movements in the world and the pairings they make and also that the people who settled and lived in these mountains were much more complex and diverse than we think.
Here is a website about the Melungeons.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

got monarchs?

I finally decided to dig up and get rid one of the hibiscus plants that at times has beautiful blooms but seems to be a constant vector/attractant for bugs and pests of all kinds. I decided that the level of insecticide that I had to apply in order for the plant to bloom and retain leaves is not acceptable in my garden. And since I am the queen of my garden and determine what stays and what does not, off with its head.

In the space I planted one of those knockout roses that are supposed to be impervious to bugs, fungus, pests of all kinds. I have another one of these roses in my yard that is doing well, so I figure this type has been “field tested”.

I will keep my favorite hibiscus, of course, the tall red ones with the notched leaves that bloom so reliability, so beautiful, and that bugs do not seem to like. Those are kind of plants I love.

But the most important reason for getting rid of a plant that requires almost constant application of pesticides are the butterflies and caterpillars that are numerous in my yard.

Not taking any chances of killing them.

my first ever monarch caterpillars.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

summer Friday.....

my garden today, vinca(volunteer) & hibiscus

Friday evening I made my usual stop to stand with the peace vigil folks. The guys on the other side of the street were loud and vicious as usual. They seem to be stuck in some kind of mental time warp, I was accused of being a follower of Jane Fonda, a commie, and the usual traitor. Really sad group ....must be awful to be them.

Then, I met John at the little restaurant near the bridge because we wanted to hear a local bluegrass group. Our young dentist plays with them. They are really quite good. Seems like everyone in town that we knew was there. People were happy dancing, drinking (but no one got obnoxious, just more exuberant) and enjoying the breeze from the river.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

my backyard, again, Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

common in NC and my yard,
some days I just don't want to leave my's a crazy world out there.

Here is a good website for butterfly identification in NC and Va. includes pictures of caterpillars

Friday, August 10, 2007

edible plant?

My bush is loaded with blooms, maybe now is the time to try some rose of sharon recipes

time to make 10 min 10 min prep
20 rose of sharon fresh edible flowers

1 cup cottage cheese
1/2 cup plain yogurt
20 rose of sharon fresh edible flowers (petals only, coarsely chopped)

herbs, and spices of your choice (optional)
  1. Remove pistils and stamens from flowers. Set aside.
  2. Process cottage cheese in blender till smooth.
  3. Transfer to nonmetallic bowl.
  4. Stir in yogurt and flower petals. Add herbs and seasonings. I used chopped green onion, fresh basil, thyme, oregano and rosemary, with a dash of Greek seasoning.
  5. spoon the dip into the center of the flower.
  6. Garnish with chopped petals.
  7. Cover and refrigerate overnight for best flavor.

marsh hibiscus in my garden

a member of the mallow family, whose members include rose-of-Sharon and also okra and cotton.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

observed in a friend's yard...Golden silk orb-weavers

Some "Golden silk orb-weavers" display an almost manic fear of cockroaches Their fast movements and large, dark shape cause some of these spiders to run from or ignore a perfectly delectable meal. "Golden silk orb-weavers" are known to sometimes be cannibalistic with spiders that are even their same size. In thge U.S., N. clavipes ranges throughout the coastal southeast and inland, from North Carolina to Texas, its distribution in many regions seems localized, and may be completely absent (or just hard to find) over wide areas. Conversely, in some arboreal or swampy nooks large numbers of adults and their webs can be found in almost frightening concentrations, especially near the coast. above quoted from from this article

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Five lined skink in her nest.

today when I was doing some yard work I lifted up one of the stepping stones in my garden and found a mother five lined skink in her nest. I quickly and carefully covered her back up. The mother skink will stay with her eggs until they hatch. I was amazed a the size and number of eggs.
This is not my picture, I did not want to disturb her any more, so I found this picture which is representative of the one I saw, except mine had more eggs and there was that pleading look in her eye.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

A peace vigil

I think that these guys probably would not recognize Steven Colbert as a comedy. They also need to work on sounding a little more informed, maybe someone should explain, for example, that Russia is no longer a communist country and the cold war is over. And I'm not quite sure about the duck. The guy is screaming and telling us that we are the worst sort of traitors, that we will be wearing burkas, and that we don't deserve to live here if we disagree with the war. There was also some really incoherent stuff, where he would say "Allah bababa, la la baba," or similar (my best effort at "translating" ) and then say you (the peace vigil) understand that Arabic because you are terrorists. There was lots more in this vein, some of it quite vicious, but I tuned most of that out.

the following may also be a letter to the editor of the local paper (or not) what are your thoughts?

After reading the article about the Eagles, who according to their spokesperson, appreciates “the negative side” in politics, I decided to attend the peace vigil last Friday (8/3). I have been admiring the grace and fortitude that these local, peaceful, protestors have shown over the past weeks. Their mission of support the troops, end the war seems to be one that no one could disagree with. Indeed the mission of support the troops is also the stated aim of the Eagles group.

While sitting with the peace vigil I though how ridiculous it was that here were two opposing groups with the same “support the troops” philosophy on opposing sides of the street, one keeping silent vigil, the other screaming mostly nonsensical or insulting rhetoric or mouthing slogans lifted from conservative talk radio. How ironic that the freedom of speech that both groups value so highly creates such a response. However, there were times when I just had to laugh; the rhetoric was so over the top, it was impossible to take seriously. Nonetheless, I was grateful for the police presence. All in all the peace vigil participants had a more tranquil experience; bearing silent witness is easier on the vocal cords and blood pressure than screaming.

I had expected to feel anger for the Eagles, but instead, I felt sadness and pity. How uncomfortable it must to live with all that negative, angry emotion. I can understand perhaps how enraged some Vietnam vets in the group might be if they had the idea that somehow if one protests the war, one does not support the troops. I remember how abysmally and unfairly the Vietnam vets were treated when they came home. How horrible it must have been for them to be reviled simply for being a soldier in that war, and often a recruit called up by the draft, unlike today’s volunteer army. I suspect that being treated the way that Vietnam vets were all too often treated, would engender at the very least emotional scars that will never heal. To treat a returning soldier as all too often the Vietnam vets were treated is as shameful and inexcusable as the current administration’s mistreatment of wounded Iraq war veterans by not providing adequate or quality care.

The only positive thing to come out of this senseless war is perhaps the only lesson that we seemed to have learned from Vietnam. The lesson is that you may disagree vehemently with the mission and consider the war a disastrous failure on so many levels, but that you never, ever disrespect the men and women in our armed forces who soldier bravely on. The respect and support of the troops is something that I believe all Americans share, no matter what side of the street we happen to be on.


I am glad these legless lizards still live in my yard.

Never forget to be thankful

Well, one never knows really what one could not live without until something happens that gives you no other options. So I will phrase this as this is what makes my life joyful. Every day I give thanks for things that I remind myself the majority of people in the world do not have. People dream about winning the lottery, but compared to millions of people who struggle and suffer just to stay alive, we have won the global lottery. I think about how a life can change in an instant, and try to stay mindful and "Be here, now"

1. A husband who loves, and respects me and encourages me to do whatever I find fulfilling. I am very grateful that my mother is still healthy, active and enjoying life. My Friends of course, especially my oldest friends, the ones that I have known for more than 30 years are still the people with whom I am most comfortable. By this time, I am pretty sure that they accept me completely, with all my faults

.2. I am healthy, at least at this moment in time and work very hard to stay healthy. I feel good most of the time and am able to physically do want I want to do.

3. Clean water-Most people take clean water as a given. But having traveled to places where the water is not clean makes one appreciate the miracle that is clean water on demand. There are millions of people who will never know this luxury in their lifetimes.

We are wasting and “mining” our water globally with dire consequences for the future.

The worst case scenario, if we don’t change our ways … wars will be fought over water and not oil. As global warming takes place, water will become the scarcest resource. Millions will die of thirst and countries will go to war to colonize the water resources.

4. Despite recent efforts to monitor private citizens we still have freedom of thought and movement.

5. Coffee. How wonderful to drink good coffee and savor the aroma, the flavor, and the buzz, and lucky bonus for me, it’s legal.

6. I live in where I can have contact with the natural world, whether it is watching the butterflies in my back yard, or hiking in the mountains. I think I would be a very unhappy person if I had to live in a city, especially most American cites.

7.I am grateful that I do not need or desire much stuff and that I have reached the age where so many things that once seemed so important no longer matter at all.