Friday, December 18, 2009

So it's sleeting/snowing outside today. Exams are over, graduation is tomorrow, Christmas break begins next Wednesday, and I find myself in the position of not having a great deal to do at work these days. So what do I do? I get into my golf cart, drive out to the edge of the woods surrounding our campus, and go for a walk. It's a mountain bike trail actually, used by a few students for exercise and by a lot of deer crossing from one side of campus to another. But I like it, because it's secluded and for one brief shining moment in my day, I can stand in the woods and listen to the silence. It's not the silence of the woods out where I deer hunt, but it's quiet enough to listen to the wind blow through the trees. I'm hoping to make a hike tomorrow thru Reedy creek park, but were expected to get 3 inches of wintry mix, so who knows what's going to happen. Hope y'all have better luck at getting outdoors than I'm having these days!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Goodbye old friends....

So it's looking like it may be time for me to say goodbye to some old friends soon. I don't want to do it, they have been with me quite honestly, on a daily basis for the past 4 years or so. They have been to the top of Mt. Mitchell with me, they have tromped across creek beds and frog leaped through den meetings., They have been to Sunday Mass with me, soccer games at the Y, as well as to see sick relatives in the hospital, and they never have thought of leaving me...EVER. They are my trusted and well loved Hiking boots.


I can deny it no longer; I've tried to shirk off the warning signs, I've done my best to ignore the pleading of my feet, that pitiful squeaking that stayed with me for a few weeks as the soles tried gallantly to hold together.I cant count how many pairs of shoe laces I've gone through, how many times I've bent the eyelets back into place, or how many pieces of gravel I've pried out of the heels after clicking and clacking across our new hardwood floors. I am forced to resign to the fact that at long last, after a valiant and noble run, I need a new pair of hiking boots.



They were a good pair to be sure, and I will swear by the Columbia name, but I'm thinking that maybe I need to open my mind a bit, and look at other brands too. that's a little scary for me, because I'm usually the type of guy who finds something that works, and sticks with it until he cant find it anymore, and is forced into the cold,harsh, world of change. "Why don't you look at a pair of these Merrell's?" my wife (who does not hike or camp by the way, but knew more about hiking boots than I do) said.
I eyed the new-fangled boots with suspicion, not knowing whether I had the level of education -or the appropriate state licensing- to even wear them, and decided i could manage for a few more weeks, maybe a month or two longer.. as we walked out of the store, I silently swore an oath never to forsake my dear friends like that again. Next time I would spare my friends this humility, and instead wear my Vans to try on new boots.


Well OK, so maybe it's not that bad, but seriously, how do you choose new hiking boots anyway? Well according to the good folks over at ABC of Hiking,
there are a few things to look for:

Intended Use & Hiking Skill Level
What kind of hiking will I be doing? Well for me, it would be mostly day hiking, and no more than a couple of miles at that. I am not only (after all) still badly out of shape, and a beginner, but I usually hike with a 6 year old and a 7 year old too. So 10 mile hikes are pretty much out of the question for me, at least for right now anyway. The class of my boot should (again, according to ABC) increase under the following factors: expected terrain and weather conditions, intended Hiking duration, and intended backpack load. Since I'll be doing mostly day hiking on pretty well established trails and paths, with not much more than a small day pack or Camelbak, With all this to take in, I think the most important thing to remember is that I should probably go for something that gives a little more support.

There is a heckuva lot more to take in to consideration, and since I don't really want to steal from the good people at ABC's of Hiking, I'll just redirect you to their website ,in case you are interested in learning more. What do i currently wear? Columbia hiking boots, and I have to say that they have performed heroically. For the last year and a half, I have worn them to work almost every single day, and I can quite honestly say they are the one pair of shoes I own that do not hurt my feet at the end of the day. ....maybe I'll stick with Columbia then..

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Indian Summer....

Yes, sonny, this is sure enough Injun summer.

Don't know what that is, I reckon, do you?

Well, that's when all the homesick Injuns come back to play. You know, a long time ago, long afore your granddaddy was born even, there used to be heaps of Injuns around here - thousands - millions, I reckon, far as that's concerned. Reg'lar sure'nuf Injuns - none o'yer cigar store Injuns, not much. They wuz all around here - right here where you are standin'.

Don't be skeered - hain't none around here now, leastways no live ones. They been gone this many a year. They all went away and died, so they ain't no more left.

But every year, 'long about now, they all come back, leastways their sperrits do.

They are here now. You can see'em across the fields. Look real hard. See that kind o' hazy, misty look out yonder? Well, them's Injuns - Injun sperrits marchin' along an' dancin' in the sunlight. That's what makes that kind o' haze that's everywhere - it's jest the sperrits of the Injuns all come back. They're all around us now.

See off yonder; see them teepees? They kind o' look like corn shocks from here, but them's Injun tents, sure as you're a foot high. See'em now? Sure, I knowed you could. Smell that smoky sort o' smell in the air? That's the campfires a-burnin' and their pipes a-goin'.

Lots o' people say it's just leaves burnin', but it ain't. It's the campfires, an' th' Injuns are hoppin' 'round 'em t' beat the old Harry.



You jest come out here tonight when the moon is hangin' over the hill off yonder an' the harvest fields is all swimmin' in the moonlight, an' you can see the Injuns and the teepees jest as plain as kin be. You can, eh? I knowed you would after a little while.

Jever notice the leaves turn red 'bout this time o' year? That's jest another sign o' redskins. That's when an old Injun sperrit gets tired dancin' an' goes up an' squats on a leaf t' rest.

Why, I kin hear 'em rustlin' an' whisperin' an' creepin' 'round among the leaves all the time; an' ever' once 'n a while a leaf gives way under some fat old Injun ghost an' comes floatin' down to the ground.

See - here's one now. See how red it is? That's the warpaint rubbed off'n an Injun ghost, sure's you're born.

Purty soon, all the Injuns'll go marchin' away agin, back to the happy huntin' ground, but next year, you'll see'em troopion' back - th' sky jest hazy with'm and their campfires smoulderin' away jest like they are now.

© Copyright 1907 John McCutcheon



Indian summer is an informal expression given to a period of sunny, warm weather in autumn in the Northern Hemisphere, typically in late October or early November, after the leaves have turned following an onset of frost but before the first snowfall.

Called циганско лято, tsigansko lyato) or Gypsy Summer in Bulgaria, In Sweden it is called "brittsommar", In Germany and Austria it is called "Altweibersommer", in Hungary "vénasszonyok nyara" (Old Ladies Summer or Crone's Summer) and also known as "Saint Luke's summer", as the saint's feast day is October 18.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Thanks to my Great Uncle Norman, who lied about his age to join the Army in 1944, and at the tender age of 17 was assigned to the 28th Infantry, Pennsylvania National Guard, and sent to the Huertgen forest. He survived hopeless odds; His unit had a 110% casualty rate, and in 2 months of fighting in Huertgen, the U.S. Losses were a little over 33,... Read More000 dead (That's almost as many as we lost during the entire Vietnam war). My Uncle received the bronze Star with V for Valor for his part in the Battle of the Huertgen forest. No one in my family knows why, and that in and of itself, is a very sad statement about our society.

When relieved in early December, the 28th-and my Uncle- were sent to a very quiet part of the front for R&R. It was so quiet, it was nicknamed "the Ghost front". The ghost front was right near a little Belgian town called Bastogne.

I was never allowed to tell you thank you Uncle Norman, and it is one of my only regrets in life.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Veterans Day parade 2009

Well, Saturday morning found Pack 49 in downtown on a bright, crisp, clear Autumn morning; perfect for being outside, and perfect for a parade! We were participating in the "Salute to veterans day" parade, as a part of the Mecklenburg council of BSA. Last year was the first year we were in scouts, and we marched then too, but there were only 15-20 of us. This year I started asking people in June from our Council to march, and by the time Saturday morning came around, we had close to 500 scouts in the parade! I dont have a ton of pictures just yet, but here are a few that I took.

We finally get moving!

Boudreaux, Thibadeaux and friend with a dough boy!



Learning how to properly fold a flag courtesy of the fine men and women of VFW Post 9488

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

"Happy Veterans Day", or "Thank You Veterans Day"??

One week from today is Veterans day, and this weekend, the Mecklenburg Council of BSA will be part of the Salute toVeterans day parade. It's always a lot of fun, but this year promises to be a bigger parade than ever before. I kind of jumped up and down so much about it back in June, that I went and got myself "volunteered" to head things up. It has been a labor of love, but the men and women who have protected us all these years are worth it. I am not worthy of being counted amongst their ranks, but reluctantly, I am. If you have a Veterans day parade in your town, I would urge you to take that hour out of your day, and go down and participate. They gave at least 4 years of their lives up to protect us, is it really so much to ask that you give up one hour a year to say thank you?

If you are a leader in Cub Scouts or Brownies, heres a good project for you to do in the next week with your kids;There are a ton of Veterans Day coloring sheets found online that you can print out for your scouts to color. have them pick from a few different ones, color the sheet and write a small message to a veteran on the back. They can then send the picture to a family member who might be a vet, or who might still be serving. A nice touch is to take a picture of the den and send it along in the letters with a thank you on the back of it. We went an extra step, and got a nice Veterans Day card from hallmark, and had all the kids and leaders sign it, put a picture of the den in it, and then figured out who in the den had the oldest Veteran in their family, and mailed the card to that boys relative (in this case a Great Granpa who was with the 8th Army Air Corps in WWII).

You would be surprised how a simple "thank you" will touch a vets heart; I've seen men who braved the flesh shredding machine gun fire of Okinawa and Guadacanal well up with tears in their eyes because someone simply said thank you to them. Whatever you decide to do, at the very least find a veteran, shake their hand, and tell them you appreciate what they do every day for us .

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Beauty for ashes

Okay one and all, if you are looking for my more theological ramblings, they can be found over at "Beauty for Ashes", my WordPress blog. I have decided that i need to keep the two seperate. and that it is time for meto start writing again, so it will be a little more active over there now than it has been in the past.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Our Haunted Halloween Hike to the Robinson Rockhouse Ruins.

Well wouldn't you know it, we went on a hike to a new site, and I forgot to bring my camera! Doh!Doh!Doh! Ah well, I knicked these pictures via Google to illustrate where we were ( I photoshopped them though)and what we saw. Forgive me for the thievery dear reader.

Anyway, Boudreaux, Myself and our fearless pup Molly decided that it was such a nice Hallowee
n afternoon, that a hike through our closest nature preserve was a grand idea. Luckily, we live really close to a fantastic park that is complete with fishing, coyotes, Bobcat, deer, owls, all sorts of distractions, along a series of great trails. We had not decided on what we were going to do until we were at the trail heads, and it occurred to me that we had never been to the Robinson rockhouse. After consulting with my fearless viking, we headed off into the woods. The trail was rather easy, a few steep inclines and a little bit of mud (It had been raining for three days, after all), but aside from that it was a grand journey!

The Robinson rockhouse and the land surrounding it was originally granted to Robert Robinson by George Augustus Selwyn in 1767 and King George III in 1769, so the house itself is 240 years old, and for a Halloween hike, you couldn't have asked for more! To get to the site, you have to take a trail that gets progressively thinner, that farther into the woods you get. There are all sorts of deer trails interspersed along the way, and the only reason you know you are on the right path is by the little metal hiker signs that are on the trees every 10 feet or so. As you get closer to the ruins, you come across this massive orange tree that fell over a few years ago in an ice storm. The park rangers say it was planted by the Robinsons 200 years ago as a shade tree. it's probably a good 5 feet in circumference, just a massive, massive tree. despite being dead, it shows no outward signs of rot.
The ruins-just behind the felled orange tree- of the house are just that, ruins, but vastly impressive in their own right. The city of Charlotte has been going back and forth with historic preservation over archeological rights, as it is the oldest site of it's kind that can be excavated without damaging the remains. As such,it could give us great insight into the lives of some of our counties earliest settlers and their daily lives. There is supposed to be a cemetery somewhere around here too, but my son -6 year olds being the catious lot they are- decided that we weren't going to go looking for that any time soon. The stairs were easily 4 to 5 feet wide, and a foot and a half to two feet thick. No bricks here folks, these were just huge slabs of rock.
As we turned around and started back towards the car, it occurred to me that, what really got me about the ruins (that I did not attempt to explain to Boudreaux) was how much they reminded me of a movie I had seen a few years back about hikers in the woods.
Happy Halloween everyone!!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Our weekend in the clouds.

Well, early Saturday morning found us "city-folk down in the flatlands" with a rained out soccer game, and a rained out football game, so we decided that we'd take a chance, and drive on up to Zirconia, home of Sky Top orchards. It's between the towns of Saluda (where I want to move) and Flat Rock, just N.E. of the DuPont State Forest. (I had a link for the Forest, but it came up as malicious, so if you google it, be warned!).
The day started off cloudy, and as we got closer to the mountains, the clouds gave way to a beautiful Autumn afternoon of sunshine and 70 degrees. Hardly what we thought it was going to be! Apparently, we weren't the only people who had cancelled soccer games, because the parking for SkyTop was thronged. After navigating thru the crowds,we made our choices (Pink Lady for the Cajun princess and sons, and Stayman Winesap for me), got some Apple cider and 1 dozen fresh hot apple cider donuts (they mix fresh pressed apple cider into the batter), and bid farewell to Sky top until our next trip.

We decided that perhaps we'd do a little "leafing", by driving up the Blue Ridge Parkway for a stretch, to see if the color was any better higher up. If you were planning on going up the BRP anytime soon, the next few weeks should be spectacular! We saw good color higher up, but as we climbed the trees changed from Hickory and Oaks, to Spruce and fir, so we lost a lot of the color.... We also lost the sun and the 70 degrees. as low lying clouds lumbered in and the temperature started to cool off. By the time the picture below had been taken, the temperature had dipped to 50.

We watched the clouds come in with some excitement, as the boys chattered about telling classmates on Monday that they had driven thru the clouds. I dont think they had any idea how right they'd be!! The farther up we drove, the heavier the clouds got, until we had visibility of about 5 feet and had slowed down to a respectable 5-10 mph as the winds howled and the temperature dipped even lower...
By the time the picture below was taken of me (at the only rest stop we found that was still open) the temperature had dipped to 38 degrees with a guesstimated wind chill of probably 22 or lower.Suffice it to say, i was not prepared for such a drastic change in the weather, and it is a good thing that we had earlier decided against a short hike we were thinking of doing. I seriously dont think I'll ever go to the mountains again without an extra layer or two stashed in the back of the car.
As we drove along towards home, we caught glimpses thru the trees of mighty Mt. Mitchell, the Highest peak in the U.S, East of the Mississippi.There was no place that I could pull over to get the images I saw, but they were magnificent. the Clouds were below us, the setting sun reflecting golds and reds off the top of the clouds, the top of Mt.Mitchell just peaking up from beneath this fluffy white blanket .

As we drove further down the parkway, the clouds eventually swallowed all of Mt Mitchell in a blanket for the night. I can only imagine how cold it really got up there, and I worried about the bicyclists we had passed on our way down the mountain. I hope they had cars near by, because this was a classic example of how quickly the weather can turn against you if you aren't properly prepared for the unexpected. I've got more pictures, and I'll add them later, but I thought this initial batch would be a good start. Am I planning on going back any time soon? You betcha! Soon, hopefully within the next few weeks, I plan on making a camping trip to Pisgah or the Smokies. I'd love to go to the smokies to see the Elk rut, but I have to see how things pan out.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Finally!!


Well, were off in the morning to go apple picking at Sky Top Orchards!! It's not a hike thru the smokies, but it's outside, in the mountains in October, and so I'll take it!! Hopefully, I'll be able to get some decent pictures to share. If you want fresh NC mountain apples, let me know, maybe I'll send you some!!

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Southern Appalachian Creature Feature


The Southern Appalachian Creature Feature is a short morning radio show broadcast on the best radio station in Western North Carolina(& the only decent one in central NC to boot), WNCW 88.7 . I felt that it is worthy of your time to read about, and definately worth your time to listen to, and is available via the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's website, as well as iTunes. I have included an MP3 here as an example for you to check out.

The trout economy of western North Carolina
The North Mills River, in North Carolina’s Henderson County, is one of Western North Carolina’s most popular trout rivers. I took some time one Friday to enjoy the river and as I was getting ready to head home, I struck up a conversation with another man in the parking area who was arriving. The man was from Texas. His wife had come to the area on business, and when he saw you could trout fish here, he decided to tag along with her. Trout money.mp3 (MP3)
Back entrance to Carl Sandburgs house
~Photo by Me~

Autumn Movement

I cried over beautiful things knowing no beautiful thing lasts.
The field of cornflower yellow is a scarf at the neck of the copper
sunburned woman, the mother of the year, the taker of seeds.
The northwest wind comes and the yellow is torn full of holes,
new beautiful things come in the first spit of snow on the northwest wind,
and the old things go, not one lasts.

~Carl
Sandburg~

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Photo brought to you by High Country WebCams.

How come, when it seems like I'm ready for my weekend to start, it's always Sunday night? It wasn't an extraordinary weekend by any stretch of the imagination, but at least I did get out to take the dog for an extended walk. Still, I would have rather have had a nice long walk over the stretch of the Smoky Mountains National park you see above.

Small matter; As we are planning to go to Skytop orchard next Saturday for our annual apple picking expedition, and from the sounds of it, the leaves should be peaking by then at and below heights of 3,000 feet.


Anyway, I hope y'all had a great weekend, got a chance to get out and walk around some, enjoy the outside and have a talk with the Big Guy.

Autumn Fires

In the other gardens
And all up the vale,
From the autumn bonfires
See the smoke trail!

Pleasant summer over
And all the summer flowers,
The red fire blazes,
The gray smoke towers.

Sing a song of seasons!
Something bright in all!
Flowers in the summer,
Fires in the fall!
~Robert Louis Stevenson~

Saturday, October 17, 2009

All my ducks in a row........

Ok, so it's not a picture of ducks, but rather an old picture I took on a considerably older digital camera, hence the graininess, but it illustrates what I'm pondering these days rather well , getting things to where they ought to be. When did everything become so complicated? As the days tick by, and we get obviously farther and farther into Autumn, I find my self desperately trying to organize something from my previous post about camping. All day today, nothing went thru my head more than the notion that i should have been somewhere up in the woods -maybe Mt. Mitchell- thinking, contemplating, praying...

I really wanted to be camping this weekend, but the conspiracy against me was too overwhelming! Our Parish Fall Festival, Soccer games, flag football games,a 7 yo singing in choir tomorrow, and to top it all off? A sick mother (my 78 year old Mom may have H1N1, on top of pneumonia and grade B Lymphoma). Now, I suppose, if I wanted to act like a grownup, I could say it was the Lord convincing me NOT to go....I know that's the truth, and I was meant to stay here, but doggonit!! I've got to get out of here soon!!

So, as I sit here, listening to the drone of Nascar engines wafting in thru my back windows from down the street at Lowes Motor Speedway,fell no pity for me, but maybe give the big guy a heads up that i need some down time soon.

Friday, October 9, 2009

To Autumn

O Autumn, laden with fruit, and stainèd
With the blood of the grape, pass not, but sit
Beneath my shady roof; there thou may'st rest,
And tune thy jolly voice to my fresh pipe,
And all the daughters of the year shall dance!
Sing now the lusty song of fruits and flowers.
`The narrow bud opens her beauties to
The sun, and love runs in her thrilling veins;
Blossoms hang round the brows of Morning, and
Flourish down the bright cheek of modest Eve,
Till clust'ring Summer breaks forth into singing,
And feather'd clouds strew flowers round her head.

`The spirits of the air live on the smells
Of fruit; and Joy, with pinions light, roves round
The gardens, or sits singing in the trees.'
Thus sang the jolly Autumn as he sat;
Then rose, girded himself, and o'er the bleak
Hills fled from our sight; but left his golden load.

William Blake


I love this time of year the best, but this year it's been kind of hard to "get going"
as it were. The boys and I were going to jump start everything on Sunday with a hike through Graveyard fields but Boudreaux is sick with a fever (not H1N1 thank the Lord), and it's supposed to rain all weekend here, we have football games on both days, and choir practice on Sunday (part of Faith Formation at our parish), so even if #1 son wasn't sick, my weekend seems to have already been decided for me.

I have a selfish idea though.......I'm thinking I might go to the mountains for a weekend by myself in
November. no really, just drive up to Pisgah National Forest one Friday, find a campsite along the Davidson river, and spend a night or two there, fly fishing. Who could say no to this? I think I'm feeling the need for a little solitude & introspection right now. My wife is off to Texas for her High school reunion, and I think that when she's back I'm going to ask her if this proposal is acceptable to her. Nothing is wrong per se, but I just want to go somewhere without having to worry about someone else and their needs, if only for a few hours....Or, in this case a few days. I don't even care if I catch anything, I never really have. I've been deer hunting before where it was just nice to be in a tree stand -alone- for 5 hours or so, swaying in the breeze in unison with the pine tree I was in.

Things are just weighing heavy on my soul these days. Not that anything in particular is so out of balance, not that my life has any perceptible flaws or reasons for me to gnash my teeth, I just think, I need a small break......

Saturday, September 19, 2009

"2nd Poem to Mary"

Hemmingway was a war correspondent attached to the 22nd Infantry Regiment when he wrote this poem for the 33,000 Americans lost between September 19th,1944 and February 10, 1945....33,000 in 5 months....(We lost 58,228 soldiers during the entire vietna...m war from 1959-1975) The forest covers over barely 50 square miles, east of the Belgian–German border, and had no significant value to the completion of the war, which led to it being called "The Death factory".


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Excuses, excuses.....



*SIGH*

I know, I know, I promised I'd be more regular in my posts, but school started, soccer practice and football practice geared up, and then Scouting ensued, so time has been at a premium as of late. I will, however, finish my report on Lake Powhatan, and will cross post things from FaceBook and Twitter too. If you want to follow me on Twitter, Here's my profile.Likewise, heres my faceBook profile. I try to keep up with everything, but facebook seems to be the big one. twitter, not as much, but I do have a whole lot of Catholic followers, and Outdoor/scouting followers there, so it may be worth your while to check out.

Anyway, Autumn is almost upon us, and with it's arrival, I find myself stirred to write more, so hopefully you'll see more of my ugly mug around here!!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Lake Powhatan , Pisgah National forest

So last weekend, the Cajun princess and I packed up the car with camping gear, firewood and food, grabbed Molly (the evil dog) and headed for Lake Powhatan. Powhatan is situated in the N.E. section of the Pisgah National Forest a little bit south of Asheville, N.C. It was our first time at the Powhatan campground, and I must say we were mightily impressed with the place! We weren't there 15 minutes, and Boudreaux and Thibadeaux had a date to sing "silly songs" with Ms. Karen, one of the rangers.
Our campsite was really nice; spacious, clean and secluded. Though we were 50 yards from the guard shack, you would have known it. there was an abundance of firewood to be gathered all around, and it appeared as if it was all due to the staff cutting it and leaving it in the woods for collection. An experiment in clearing old dead wood to make room for the saplings sprouting up all around. The Campsites were spaced about 30 yards apart, so you knew you had neighbors, but you didn't see them. Hearing them however, well that's another story. Our first night there was a group of college kids camping next to us that came in from partying after "quiet time" (10:00 PM to 7:00 AM) was established. they brought a lot of friends with them, and they made quite a lot of racket around 3:00 AM with giggling, laughing, talking, putting up more tents and the like. this ired the "evil dog" to no ends, and she barked ferociously, protecting us from the unseen threats outside. By the next morning, the Park rangers had removed the guests who were not supposed to be there, had told the campers who were supposed to be there that they were on thin ice, and had ap[ologized profusely to us. The next nights rest was uneventful and even enjoyable.
Saturday found us entering Pisgah National Forest proper, to visit the infamous "Sliding Rock" falls. (To be continued).

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Many many moons....


Howdy all, hope that someone still drops by here to check on me from time to time! Sorry for the absence, but it hasn't been the greatest of times for me and mine, as you can tell from my most previous post. But, things being what they are, we have moved on, and have actually just returned from a spectacular camping trip to the Pisgah National forest this very afternoon! I have pictures, and they will be posted (hopefully later tonight) so stay tuned! Also; for those who have often wandered what I look like, I do believe I rear my ugly head in these pics a few times, and as an added bonus, this was the first trip the Cajun Princess made with us as well! I promise, I will post them soon!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Missing.....


Sorry for my absence, but things have not been good. I don't feel like rehashing it right here and now, but if you are at all interested, here is a post the I recently wrote about the current situation that explains it all on my other blog, "Southern Porch".

I promise, I will be back at some point this summer, but I'm probably going to be a bit more balanced, as I need the religious part of my life right now a whole lot, and I want to find a way ti incorporate my love for the outdoors with my love for Christ..... Thanks for your understanding.

Sunday, March 8, 2009


"Worry is a weakness from which very few of us are entirely free. We must be on guard against this most insidious enemy of our peace of soul. Instead, let us foster confidence in God, and thank Him ahead of time for whatever He chooses to send us."

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

A very good snow day.


As I walked down the snow covered street Monday morning with my faithful -albeit disobedient- Beagle Molly, the words my wife uttered the night before (in the middle of a solid 3 days downpour of rain) came back to haunt me; "It's going to snow tonight"....."Aw, baloney" I said, citing every piece of folk wisdom I could muster to prove to her why she was wrong... Are they ever really wrong? So I found myself walking the dog on a crisp march morning, with the crunch of snow under foot and the prospect of a day off of work on my horizon as we meandered down the street from our house..
I decided that since the kids were playing with friends and my wife was still sleeping peacefully, I'd take the chance to just go out and....just be...One with nature, one with the environment, I dont know, but I knew I wanted to be outside on this beaitiful morning for as long as possible. We walked a good mile or so down the middle of a usually very busy street across snow and ice as polished as a mirror. To the right of the road is a thin line of scrub pines, blocking an old cow pasture partially from view. I knew from the moment we stepped outside, this was our destination.
The snow was deeper here, probably because of the overgrown brush , but it still came well up to my shins and was a little harder to mavigate than you'd expect. Molly loved it, leaping from spot to spot, chasing birds, oblivious to me, or the limitations of her lead at times.We walked to the other side of the field, and right into the woods. It was quiet here, the scrub trees and snow had muffled the distant sounds of traffic and the train tracks at the top of our street. i felt as if I was 100 miles away from Charlotte, and out in the mountains somewhere, the only sound coming from the chirping of small birds faintly breaking the silence.We walked in silence, underneath trees blowing and whispering in the breeze. I really should have taken the time to say a prayer, or recite the rosary (it is, after all, Lent), but instead I just stood in silence, listening to the muted sounds of nature. I guess I was listening to God, though it didn't occur to me at the time, but any time spend in silence, just contemplating the very essence of our surroundings, away from all distractions is time with God.

As we walked back towards home, I felt a peace about me, a happiness that only grew more and more with the rising sun. It was a very good snow day.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS
BENEDICT XVI

FOR LENT 2009

"He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry" (Mt 4,1-2)

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

At the beginning of Lent, which constitutes an itinerary of more intense spiritual training, the Liturgy sets before us again three penitential practices that are very dear to the biblical and Christian tradition – prayer, almsgiving, fasting – to prepare us to better celebrate Easter and thus experience God’s power that, as we shall hear in the Paschal Vigil, “dispels all evil, washes guilt away, restores lost innocence, brings mourners joy, casts out hatred, brings us peace and humbles earthly pride” (Paschal Præconium ). For this year’s Lenten Message, I wish to focus my reflections especially on the value and meaning of fasting. Indeed, Lent recalls the forty days of our Lord’s fasting in the desert, which He undertook before entering into His public
ministry. We read in the Gospel: “Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was hungry” (Mt 4,1-2). Like Moses, who fasted before receiving the tablets of the Law (cf. Ex 34,28) and Elijah’s fast before meeting the Lord on Mount Horeb (cf. 1 Kings 19,8), Jesus, too, through prayer and fasting, prepared Himself for the mission that lay before Him, marked at the start by a serious battle with the tempter.(click on above link for entire story)


"The law of fasting requires a Catholic from the 18th Birthday [Canon 97] to the 59th Birthday [i.e. the beginning of the 60th year, a year which will be completed on the 60th birthday] to reduce the amount of food eaten from normal. The Church defines this as one meal a day, and two smaller meals which if added together would not exceed the main meal in quantity. Such fasting is obligatory on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. The fast is broken by eating between meals and by drinks which could be considered food (milk shakes, but not milk). Alcoholic beverages do not break the fast; however, they seem contrary to the spirit of doing penance." (EWTN, The Holy Season of Lent)

I myself am a supporter of the fast, and on fast days I even try to avoid the collations ( I did pretty good Friday). I am really trying to make this Lenten season better than the past few years. I have in the past given up lame-o things, things my Doctor would have me give up anyway, and it never seems to come out to anything more than a lack-luster effort at best. This year though, I'm going in the opposite direction. Once a week I plan on either throwing out a bag of stuff I don't need cluttering up my life, or I'll give away a bag of stuff to charity. One a week, I think that's a good start, don't you? I'm also going to volunteer to help the Knights of Columbus out with the Lenten meal preparations again. I haven't done that in quite a few years, and I feel as if the time might have come to start volunteering with them again. I don't want a position in the council or anything, but I need to help out around the Parish more. My problem is, every year I make these plans, and I never carry them out, so I have to change my tactics, approach it all from a different angle. Does anyone else have any suggestions for me?


Saturday, February 28, 2009

Vatican: Bishop's apology on Holocaust not enough

By NICOLE WINFIELD, Associated Press Writer Nicole Winfield, Associated Press Writer Fri Feb 27, 6:02 pm ET

VATICAN CITY – An apology from a bishop who denied the Holocaust wasn't good enough, the Vatican said Friday, adding that he must repudiate his views if he wants to be a Roman Catholic clergyman.


The statement by Bishop Richard Williamson "doesn't appear to respect the conditions" the Vatican set out for him, said the Rev. Federico Lombardi, a spokesman for the pope.


In an interview broadcast last month on Swedish state TV and in previous letters and speeches, Williamson denied 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust, saying about 200,000 or 300,000 were murdered. He said none was gassed.

Williamson apologized for his remarks on Thursday upon his arrival in his native Britain after being ordered to leave Argentina. He said he would never have made them if he had known "the full harm and hurt to which they would give rise."


But he didn't say he had been wrong or that he no longer believed what he had said.(The rest of the story can be found here)



How many of us had to explain all of this to friends or coworkers in the past week? Isn't it interesting how the press left out the fact that what the Pope did was simply lift the excommunication so they can attend mass and nothing-NOTHING- more? It was a gesture of forgiveness that was supposed to be reciprocated by these four bishops, not an absolution of their sins, nor an act of alliance with Williamsons twisted views.


As far as I'm concerned, they did more damage to the church than Williamson's delusional and ignorant beliefs did. Shame on him for being being the braying jack-ass he is, and shame on the media for feeding him.

Friday, February 27, 2009

So were going to start working on "Leave No Trace" this week in our Tiger Cub den, and I thought maybe I'd post about LNT here, in case noone has heard of it.

As more people use parks and recreation facilities, LEAVE NO TRACE® guidelines become even more important for outdoor visitors.

Leave No Trace is a plan that helps people to be more concerned about their environment and to help them protect it for future generations. Leave No Trace applies in a backyard or local park (frontcountry) as much as it does in the wilderness (backcountry).

We should practice Leave No Trace in our attitude and actions--wherever we go. Understanding nature strengthens our respect toward the environment. One person with thoughtless behavior or one shortcut on a trail can spoil the outdoor experience for others.

Help protect the environment by remembering that while you are there, you are a visitor. When you visit the outdoors, take special care of the area. Leave everything just as you find it.

Hiking and camping without a trace are signs of a considerate outdoorsman who cares for the environment. Travel lightly on the land.

Six Leave No Trace Guidelines for Cub Scouts

Plan Ahead

Watch for hazards and follow all the rules of the park or outdoor facility. Remember proper clothing, sunscreen, hats, first aid kits, and plenty of drinking water. Use the buddy system. Make sure you carry your family's name, phone number, and address.

Stick to Trails

Stay on marked trails whenever possible. Short-cutting trails causes the soil to wear away or to be packed, which eventually kills trees and other vegetation. Trampled wildflowers and vegetation take years to recover. Stick to trails!

Manage your pet

Managing your pet will keep people, dogs, livestock, and wildlife from feeling threatened. Make sure your pet is on a leash or controlled at all times. Do not let your pet approach or chase wildlife. When animals are chased or disturbed, they change eating patterns and use more energy that may result in poor health or death.

Take care of your pet's waste. Take a small shovel or scoop and a pick-up bag to pick up your pet's waste— wherever it's left. Place the waste bags in a trash can for disposal.

Leave what you find

When visiting any outdoor area, try to leave it the same as you find it. The less impact we each make, the longer we will enjoy what we have. Even picking flowers denies others the opportunity to see them and reduces seeds, which means fewer plants next year.

Use established restrooms. Graffiti and vandalism have no place anywhere, and they spoil the experience for others. Leave your mark by doing an approved conservation project.

Respect other visitors

Expect to meet other visitors. Be courteous and make room for others. Control your speed when biking or running. Pass with care and let others know before you pass. Avoid disturbing others by making noise or playing loud music.

Respect "No Trespassing" signs. If property boundaries are unclear, do not enter the area.

Trash Your Trash

Make sure all trash is put in a bag or trash receptacle. Trash is unsightly and ruins everyone's outdoor experience. Your trash can kill wildlife. Even materials, such as orange peels, apple cores and food scraps, take years to break down and may attract unwanted pests that could become a problem.