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forestry program...

Saturday, April 30, 2016
.. over in Talbot County - just to the east of here. I picked up a flyer about it at the program at the Bradley Company several weeks ago. Where we learned about the process of blowing the dams on the river, including fascinating archeology. Along with plans for re-introducing the native shoals lily to some of the areas where the river goes over rocky, shoal-y places.

This event was sponsored by the GDNR/state forestry and local Chamber of Commerce. Oddly enough, this was how I choose to spend a good part of my day on Friday. It was definitely geared toward land owners, and I guess mostly people who lived in surrounding counties. There was a pretty good crowd of maybe sixty or so, not counting all the workers. This event would have been of special interest to farmers as well as the people who would already have, or be considering, planting pine trees to grow for harvesting timber, as well as straw for a short term cash crop.

A life-long forester who talked about the history and value of planting long leaf pines as opposed to different varieties that mature quicker to get to market sooner. A retired solider who talked about his business of eliminating unwanted wildlife: in particular feral/wild hogs. His talk was interesting, adding more to what I read in the newspaper. Making us all was aware of the problem nuisance porkers have become locally. I probably got more information that I wanted about how to eliminate these undesirables from land used to produce soybeans, corn and peanuts: major cash crops in middle and south Georgia. Also someone who is the area rep. for  The Nature Conservancy sharing info. about the value of preserving habitat for native species, both animals and plants.

I guess I went out of curiosity, interest in the environment, concerns about sustainability of our natural resources. There was a home-school family in attendance with two young sons, probably in their early teens; otherwise almost exclusively men in Carharts and camo., work boots and baseball hats with advertising for seed companies. And me in my sneakers, khaki pants and carefully chosen coordinating blue shirt.  Most of the females there were volunteers helping with registration and lunch, or young women who were with the environmental organizations represented. They will eventually be the leaders of these organizations, caring for and guiding preservation of our natural resources. Showing the world what caregivers look like, as they work towards sustainability.

They were going on a tour of the property after lunch, but I left to get back town, so missed out on seeing the forest land where the gopher tortoise lives, the place where the hog guys were set up with a demo. pen.. And a day of touring the piney woods. I did notice a place we passed between meeting facility and where we had lunch: where there had been a controlled burn and the ground was still charred, all the leaf mulch/duff had been burned off to bare dirt. It was covered with the growth of hundreds of bright green ferns -always the first thing to come back, showing signs of life after fire.

another funny tale...

...I brought home from visiting family in VA. My sister-in-law tells of the local high school making an effort to support the local animal shelter. Possibly related to a service project required of the students, who had gotten involved in volunteering at the rescue service. Apparently there was a competition between the different levels of classes at the school, with each grade attempting to collect the largest number of cans of food for dogs/cats. 

This youngest nephew came up with a brilliant scheme. He suggested that all the members of his grade level just provide cash, pool their resources and he would purchase for all the students who were making donations. He went to the store where the cheapest price was to be had, and used all the funds he had accumulated to buy as much as possible. I'm guessing he checked around, and possibly went to one of the chain stores, where you can buy these teeny little cans smaller than a silver dollar. Maybe a quarter apiece, and hardly worth opening, so you don't even want to get out the can opener and then have to wash the fishy smell off. Most now come with a pop top.

And: he waited till the last day of the event to take all those cans in. Meaning none of the other classes who had been collecting over the weeks would have an opportunity to dash off to the store or call home for reinforcements. I expect the numbers were being posted on a regular basis, so he had a pretty good idea of who he had to beat by bringing in more pet food. Needless to say: his class won.

Pretty clever is what I am thinking. I forgot to ask what the prize was for the winning class. I hope they got something good?

don't think i told you ....

Thursday, April 28, 2016
...about seeing the Space Station cruising across the night sky recently? Did I? Or maybe I did, in which case, you can just disregard the following...

Someone to whom I am closely related, gave her half her DNA, told me about this website you can hook up with that will give you a notice when you can view. The 'spot the station' site will send you an email when it is someplace close enough to where you live that you might see it. You gotta look pretty quick, and of course, be in the right place at the right time.

The site will tell the direction where it will come up over the horizon line, and how many degrees above the line it will be at its peak. Then where it will be going arcing across the night sky, and where it will disappear. Around here, there is so much light pollution, it is hard to get far enough away from artificial light sources to be able to really view the night sky. I can go out and look directly overhead in winter and clearly see Orion. But trees in every direction block the horizon, so all you really get is  a pretty narrow view, nothing anywhere close to being able to see out there to the edge of the world.

A recent email said it would appear in the north-northwest sky, maybe about 50 degrees up, and be visible for only about three minutes. Soon disappearing in the west-southwest. So you have to be able to have a pretty clear view of most of the sky to catch a glimpse. I went out at the appropriate time, around 9:15, so it was plenty dark. Hoping to see it, but not really knowing what I was looking for?

I notice  a blinking object zipping across the sky, but a few minutes too early, so persuaded myself it must be a high flying airplane. Waiting, while being anxious about sitting out there in the dark by myself. And a bit paranoid as cars come barreling up behind me at about 70 mph, while I am pulled off to the side of the road.  Waiting, waiting, waiting, wondering precisely what I should be searching for? When just according to schedule: there it is. A little blinking blip, zipping along, just where the email told me it would be... hurrying across the night sky, off to make another orbit.

I was so pleased to see it, know I had found it... and amazed about the technology that makes it do what it does.

book review: for one i have not read yet...

...but it is one that I think we could all enjoy. While laughing at ourselves for doing some of the same foolish things the author is making a mint on by telling on herself, while publishing a best seller. We should all be so clever?

I just read a few lines in the Reader's Digest article, excerpted from the book by Gina Barreca titled "If You Lean In, Will Men Just Look Down Your Blouse?" Which is, of course, a hilarious take on the book by the CEO or COO or some other acronym at Google. The little two page article in the May issue of RD is titled: Spring Cleaning for the Soul. Making me think of those Chicken Soup books. This is definitely not Chicken Soup...

On page 18, you will read:
"No. 6. I will remember to send greeting cards by mail to friends and loved ones so that I might celebrate their birthdays, anniversaries and happy occasions in a timely fashion rather than relying exclusively on Facebook. This way, I will be able to acknowledge the happiest days of their lives before it is too late and without involving Mark Zuckerberg."

And if that does not strike a chord with you, here is:
"No. 7. While we're on the mailing business, I will also write thank-you notes by hand, and I will encourage any young people I know to do the same. I will communicate my understanding that a card's embossed "Thank you!" on the front does not mitigate the need to expand upon that sentiment in detail within the body of the text."

I get a lot of personal satisfaction from writing notes, postcards, letters to friends and family. And supporting the USPS buying stamps. While thinking of what a rarity it is in this era when most of our communication is through electronic device.What a thrill it is just getting something personal and hand written out of your mailbox. Something that is addressed to you that is neither a bill for services or a request for a donation.

And the little two page article gets more profounder all the time  - the next one is about supporting non-profits and charitable organizations. Telling us all to 'put your money where your mouth is'. showing the value and importance of being fully aware of daily blessings we usually take for granted. Things like a safe place to live (not being homeless) and clean clothing, warm beds, people who make the world a better place for all of us. Donate to NGOs that go places in the world you don't want to live and try to make a difference in people's lives - folks who don't have clean water, or hot showers or safe/stable housing.

That's my sermon for the day...

and then my brother said...

Wednesday, April 27, 2016
... that he heard his father-in-law make a comment that made a huge impression on him. Something that really struck home, and caused him to look at the past forty years differently. After growing up in south GA, finishing an education in east AL and finding work in NC, they ended up in VA. He has worked for several different large corporations over his career, but in eastern VA for most of that time.

His wife had been trying for years to persuade her parents to relocate to be closer when they would need care. Parents began to have assorted health problems that come with aging: we were not designed to live forever, and parts will wear out. They went through some crises, and finally, when they were pretty much past the point of trying to move: they moved. Would not consider a condo, or assisted living or retirement center or apartments. But instead, bought a very large house. Her mom had dementia, and various health issues, died after they had relocated. So now her dad is in that big house - alone.

He goes to church with them, and recently decided he wanted to become a member. A requirement is that prospects go to classes that help them to better understand philosophy, theology and the workings of that particular congregation. My brother offered to attend classes with him, just to go along as a companion and encourager. The question that was asked as the potential members sat around and introduced themselves to fellow prospects: 'If you had your life to live over, what would you change?' He said 'Nothing'. That everything in his life had been part of the experience that lead him to the place where he was. Which was right where he knew he was supposed to be

My brother reported being astounded! He had been sitting there mentally preparing his answer to the question, then realized that what he just heard was so thought-y and profound, that it was his answer too! He had thought for years, likely looking back with regret, that he should have made the decision to move. Been willing to search, find a different job or ask for a transfer, get closer to family as his kids grew and parents aged.

But  in that instant he saw moving away, leaving where they were, would have changed the course of his life. And he would not have the sweet daughter-in-law who married the son, and created a new family, with precious grandchildren the grandparents adore. Blessings. And now there is another new family, with a second son who just got married to another sweet girl to create another happy couple.

talking to my brother...

... before they took me back to the airport where I would board a flight to return to Atlanta.

I heard him say back in  2009 that he did not ever plan to move south. His intention was to stay close to where his adult sons lived, as he desired to be nearby in the hope that he would have grand children. Saying that he knew his sons missed out on being physically close to their grandparents, like we were in our younger years. It made him sad to think they did not enjoy spending more time with grandparents, doing routine, mundane things throughout the year, as he recalled doing as a kid. He would make the effort to get sons to connect with both sets of grandparents when they could, but that generation was at such a distance, visits were limited to a week or so each summer, divided between south GA and central AL.

He said he had so many memories of times with grandmothers: spending the night, and going with them to church on Sunday mornings, just being together, doing the things grands and little people do. The granddad had a workshop that my brother as a kid loved to tinker in, poking  around, pounding nails, doing goofy things little boys do. 'Helping' Pa with whatever project he had going on, repairs, doing odd jobs, learning how to be a guy, from a granddad who loved to have him around.

He is getting his wish. Has two little grands he and sweet wife enjoy spending time with, helping parents when they get in a bind. Like needing a caregiver when one cannot go to day care, or just another body to be available to pick up or deliver a kid. Being there, close by, conveniently located minutes away, to enjoy seeing little ones often and watch them grow, learn, develop, turn into real people.

you would only get the slightest whiff...

Saturday, April 23, 2016
...that might smack of the least bit of a very minor form of dishonesty. But if I go ahead and confess, clear my conscience to make it squeaky, I won't feel badly or have any qualms about doing it again. And doing it again is very likely to occur the next time I have reason to go some place that requires passing through the Busiest Airport on the Planet. Hmmm.... almost certain to happen if I am not traveling with someone who would snatch me back, saying: "Mom! You can't do that!"

What happens is that when you print your boarding pass and get to the proper gate to await the call for actually getting on, the airline employee (hereafter referred to as Gatekeeper) will get on the public address system and announce it is time to stand in another line. Gatekeeper will call the people who have 'A' boarding passes making them feel Very Special. So they get up and get in line to be the first ones to get on and take a seat. While the rest of us mill around the margins, hoping we are not playing a game of Musical Chairs and won't be someone left standing when they slam the door.

Apparently the system works in a manner that allows the first ones to 'confirm' their reservations in that 24  hour window prior to flight, to be assigned a lower number that permits them to be the first ones on - also the first ones off. This last time I failed to confirm, waiting until I got to the airport about an hour before take off, so I was lagging, in the tail end to get on for seating.  Causing me to end up in a middle seat crunched between two people who were not communicative at all.

But here is what usually happens: I ease myself into the first boarding group, and just somehow neglect to patiently wait for my number to be called. In the chaos of scanning boarding passes, and people jostling in line, babies crying, drinks spilled, luggage mis-put, sandwiches gobbled, phones snatched from wall sockets, it's really easy to insert myself in with the first group called to trot down the gangway and onto the flight. It has always worked in the past.  I assumed my subterfuge would work again.

But not today: Mr. Gatekeeper, scanning passes to let people past the desk and into the tunnel leading to the airplane said: "Your pass says 'C' and this is 'B', so you will have to wait." I said: "Oh, sorry." And turned around to insert myself (inappropriately) in the middle of the line of sheep patiently, calmly waiting their turn.

Then, when I finally got on board, dragging my suitcase and whacking into people on both sides of the aisle, the stew. person said it is all open seating, so you are welcome to take any empty spot. Now I ask you: why do they make such a big deal about boarding 'in the proper order' if there are no assigned or reserved seats? You better believe I will be trying my 'early-boarding' trick again the next time I get ready to go off into the wild blue yonder....