Friday, June 29, 2012

House Guest

We've had a house guest all month, our son's Border Collie pup, Mac. He's staying with us while our son is away from home for six weeks. It's been a long time since there was a Border Collie pup in our house and it's been a big change in our normal routine.

We don't have a fenced-in area to let him run in, but fortunately our friend Marlee lets us turn him loose in her yard. A free run is always the first order of business.

Then we can play some ball.

"I'm tired, can we go home now?"

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Summer doldrums

Summer is barely here, but it came with full voice. It rarely gets hotter here than it has been this past week and our forecast carries more of the same. Rain is promised, right up until 24 hours before it is supposed to arrive, and then disappears. We feel like Charlie Brown being suckered into trying to kick the football as Lucy once again pulls it away. I don't think I like global warming!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Strom Thurmond

A statue of Strom Thurmond stands in front of the state house in Columbia, South Carolina, a monument to the man who dominated politics in the state for more than half a century.

The base of the statue is inscribed with his many accomplishments, including serving as governor and United States Senator. He served as a Democrat as governor and initially as senator, but switched to the Republican Party over the issue of civil rights. As a staunch segregationalist, he opposed the 1964 Civil Rights Act, conducting a record-setting filibuster of 24 hours 18 minutes length to prevent a vote. He continued to oppose civil rights after its passage. But look closely at the inscription listing his children.

The letters spelling "five" are not nearly as crisp as the surrounding words, and there's the faint outline of "four" behind them. As the late Paul Harvey would say, "And now for the rest of the story."

Thurmond died in 2003 at the age of 100, the only U.S. Senator ever to reach that age while still in office. Six months later, an African-American woman revealed that she was Thurmond's out-of-wedlock daughter, born when he was twenty-two. Her mother was a 16-year-old maid employed by Thurmond's parents. Thurmond had supported her, but had never acknowledged her as his daughter. His family did acknowledge her when she came forward, and the "four" on the statue was changed to "five" and the name Essie Mae was added below the other names.

One is tempted to say "hypocrisy,"  but perhaps there's more than that. Consider the gay-bashing politician who is caught in a homosexual situation, or the fire-and-brimstone televangelist who is caught with a prostitute. Hypocrisy, yes; denial, certainly. And what about character and integrity?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Have a Good One!

"Have a good one!" Store clerks, bank tellers, and other casual contacts close encounters with a cheery "Have a good one!" I always want to ask (but am too polite to do so), "Have a good WHAT?"

One assumes they mean "Have a good day," but do they really? They could just as easily have said that. It has the same number of words, even containing the same number of letters. So there's no greater expenditure of resources in saying "Have a good day!"

So do they mean have a good ... life, romance, dinner, trip or what? It seems a bit like the one-size-fits-all ball caps that fill the top shelf in my closet. With some fiddling on my part, most of them can actually be worn. But regardless of how well they're adjusted, they never fit as well as one that was properly sized to begin with.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Newbury House

The 1880 Newbury House was built as a boarding house and continued in that role well into the 1920s. Today it is operated as a B&B by Historic Rugby, Inc., and has served as the overnight lodging for numerous visitors who have gone on to buy property in Rugby. We stayed there several times in the 1990s. A decade later it was showing signs of needing some serious TLC. We are proud to say that has been accomplished, and the Newbury House is once again an inviting spot to relax and enjoy a week or a weekend.

My favorite spot is the sun porch on the back, overlooking Newbury Pond. It's been freshly redone and is about as inviting as any spot can be.

Or spend a winter evening in the spacious parlor. It's a most Victorian spot to read or enjoy a glass of wine with friends.

All of the guest rooms are decorated with period furniture. The Thomas Hughes suite is spacious and comfortable.

Or choose one of the single rooms, such as this one named for the author's mother, Margaret Hughes,

or this smaller one named for his niece, Emily. And now you can check rates, availability, and make reservations on the Historic Rugby web page.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Welcome to Historic Rugby

Like most people, my wife and I found Rugby strictly by accident. We stumbled onto it in 1971 while out cruising the mountain roads in our then MGB. It's in a very rural part of east Tennessee, as evidenced by the hay bales in the field behind the welcome sign. We began coming here regularly a decade later after tiring of the crowds in and around the Smoky Mountains. Here we found peace, quiet, and friendly folks, and a large National Park under development with (then) almost no one in it. It became our preferred place to hike.

Our mountains aren't quite as high as the Smokies/Blue Ridge, but we still love them. So when we were able, we moved here. Unfortunately, we don't have oil beneath our land like some of our neighbors have. In this photo you can see an oil well pump jack and separator tanks. One of the local farmers told me that when he bought his land the seller had offered it without the mineral rights. Those would be $5,000 extra. He decided to go ahead and buy the mineral rights. He said it was the best investment he ever made. The oil they later found paid off the farm and sent all of his children to college.

This final shot has nothing to do with this post, except I liked the patch of butterfly weed that was growing near the welcome sign.

Y'all come! It's peaceful here!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Knee High by the Fourth of July

If a corn crop is going to do well, it should be "knee high by the fourth of July," according to received wisdom. This crop is doing just fine, thank you.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Trinity Cathedral

Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Columbia, South Carolina, was designed to resemble York Minster in England. For comparison, here's  a posting on York Minster by jennyfreckles in Yorkshire. It's the oldest remaining church building in Columbia, having survived the Civil War. It was begun in 1814 and was still being added to in the 1890s.

It's an unusually good example of Gothic Revival architecture, but I think not quite as grand as York Minster.

The churchyard is filled with the graves of South Carolina dignitaries, including generals from three wars, poets, and politicians. Six governors are buried there, as are eight bishops, including Bishop Henry D. Phillips whose grave is shown, as well as his wife, who was the daughter of a bishop.

During the Civil War when Union General Sherman burned his way across the south, the parish took down Episcopal signs and erected a cross in hope that Sherman, a Roman Catholic, might spare the church. The rectory was burned but the church was spared. In 1865, the commander of the Union troops occupying Columbia ordered the Rector to say a prayer for the President of the United States during the liturgy. He complied, but at the start of the prayer the congregation arose from kneeling and did not say "amen."

Trinity Cathedral sits directly across the street from the state house in Columbia. It offers tours daily.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Day lilies

With summer here, day lilies are blooming everywhere, from lawns to roadside ditches. There is one home in nearby Allardt, however, that has an explosion of day lilies in their lawn. I had to stop and take pictures

Monday, June 18, 2012


The Y-12 Electromagnetic Separations Plant was one of three installations for the Manhattan Project sited in east Tennessee in 1943. Its mission was to enrich uranium in the fissionable isotope using large electromagnets to accelerate streams of uranium atoms, bending their paths in such a way as to allow atoms of slightly different weights to scatter such that they could be collected separately. (Yes, that is a gross simplification, but I'm an ecologist, not a physicist. For those with chemical backgrounds, they are actually large mass spectrometers.)

The machines that accomplished this separation were called calutrons, and were invented at the University of California by E.O. Lawrence, who received the Noble Prize in Physics in 1939. The chemical element 103 was named lawrencium in his honor, as well. Lawrence's calutrons at Y-12 were arranged into oval assemblages that were nicknamed racetracks, because of their shapes.

Because of the high demand for copper during the war, the electromagnets were instead wound with silver wire, borrowed from the U.S. Treasury. Readers may recall that in 1943 the U.S. was still on the silver standard and our currency was backed by silver reserves held by the treasury. A paper note was imprinted with the words "Silver Certificate," and a person could exchange one for the equivalent amount of silver on demand. So during WWII, our currency was backed by the calutrons at Y-12, at least in part. After the war the silver was reclaimed and returned to the treasury. Congress repealed the silver standard in 1963, and by 1968 currency could no longer be redeemed for silver.

Young women were trained to operate the calutron racetracks, but never told what their jobs actually were. They simply sat in front of panels of dials and controls and made adjustments to keep the readings within an allowable range. They were never allowed to look behind the curtain, and didn't learn what their job was about until after the first bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.

 After the war all uranium enrichment was done by gaseous diffusion, at K-25 and its sister plants. Y-12 continued to operate with other defense missions. Now known as the Y-12 National Security Complex, it is operated by the U.S. Department of Energy through its National Nuclear Security Administration. You can learn more about Y-12 by visiting their web site here. Look at the articles written by Ray Smith, Y-12 historian. They're excellent.

All photographs used are U.S. Government photographs and are in the public domain.

Friday, June 15, 2012


I like to see these remnants from when most folks made their living farming. They may have outlived their original purpose and their continued existence may due to having been pressed into service for general storage, or simply because they aren't in the way.

They appear in endless variety.

Sometimes you can guess their original purpose from design. This one may have been a corn crib.

Others don't offer any clues.

Has this one been cannibalized, or was just it a shelter?

This one's a classic.

As is this one.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Monster?

What's that in the river? It's huge! Look at its mouth! It can eat anything in its reach! Oh, I think it's just a rock and its reflection in the water. I think ....... That's right, isn't it? Maybe we should leave, just in case.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Are you looking at me?

This American Robin (Turdus migratorius) seems to be a bit self-conscious. Think maybe he's up to no good? Perhaps he bears watching.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Why we don't call them 'dear'

This was the view on Saturday-

 This was the view on Sunday!

They also got all of the heads off the Coneflowers. I think that's why the spelling was changed to 'deer.' My wife has proposed other names for them, as well.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Garden Tour

The Rugby gardeners hosted their first garden tour of recent years this past weekend. It began with a workshop led by Bob Washburn, local nurseryman, who just happened to have some plants with him for sale.

Then it was off to lunch at the Harrow Road Cafe before visiting the private gardens. There were six homes on the tour, but because of other commitments I made it only to four of them. First stop was at Onderdonk House, a reconstruction of an 1880s house. This is a garden designed to be enjoyed from the owners' rear deck.

Next stop was at the home of the tour's organizer. This was a front garden, designed to be enjoyed when coming and going, or sitting on the front porch of an evening.

Next stop was just across the road for a shade garden, although given the time of day (and some lightening with the computer) it looks as if there is plenty of sun.

The tour ended at our friend Lisa's house, which is noted for it's yard art, as was the previous home.

Here the tour participants enjoyed a tea prepared by Rugby friends. Everything was ready and waiting when the first tour visitors arrived.

A perfect way to finish the tour!