Sunday, April 22, 2012

Zygote's Goes Over the Hill

Zygote's Birthday Celebration included a wonderful box of necessities for heading 'over the hill' from his sister: a tube of BenGay cream, Fix-a-Dent, Adult diapers, and hair coloring.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Hat Envy

This past Christmas, one of my gifts for my snowboarding son was a "sock monkey with a mohawk" hat. A few weeks later, low and behold, if Zygote did not show up with crazy hats for the two of us, under the woefully misguided assumption that I would wear such an unfortunate item.

To honor his bravery, I did give in and wear the hat once. We both walked into an independent truck stop in Corbin, KY wearing our hats. No one spoke. I guess they didn't see the humor.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Other tandem

Recently Zygote had his bicycle fixed. Since then he's been riding all over our small town on our days off. You would think I was killing him if I suggest that we walk to the restaurant less than a mile from our house but give him a bike and he's in the next county before you can blink.

This renewal in Zy's interest in bicycling has spawned numerous conversations about putting bikes on the truck and random musings about folding bikes. While folding bikes would be way cool, they would ultimately be more of a pain than they were worth if you didn't actually use them very often. But, then again, how exactly does one strap a bike to the back of the cab of a tractor while not "modifying" the company's tractor in any way? Months ago, when I was sent a survey questionnaire by our company, one of my suggestions was for them to stock and allow drivers to request bike racks to add to their tractors. No response. For the last few weeks, we've experimented with a load bar extended between the ferrings on the back of the cab, thinking that if you could trust that it would stay put, you could then strap the bikes to the load bar. But, the more I think about this, the more I think your bike would be covered in diesel grime and road dust every time you went to ride it, not a very appealing thing to consider straddling.

Zygote has repeatedly threatened to get a tandem bike for us to ride together. This particular means of torture does not appeal to me at all. We already live in tandem in a moving, vibrating box the size of a closet; I don't need to try to pedal a bicycle with him also. That is just not an option; it's just not.

So, back to the folding bike idea. Considering one could be hefted into a cab, I suppose we could make room for it in the top bunk or ?under the bed? I don't know. A cab is already a very small space for two people to share. The hefting part I'd have to leave up to Zygote, I'm sure, as they weigh anywhere from 27-32 pounds. Whereas, I can easily carry a 38 pound backpack, swinging a backpack onto your back is a whole lot easier than swinging one up to about eye level. (I'm short, ok.) Ultimately, all this hemming and hawing around is probably just high level avoidance technique on my part, as bike-riding has never been my thing. I just don't like the way people stare bike riders down, or worse yet, try to run them over. Roadways seem way too dangerous for bike riders, in general.

In any event, having a bike to ride in towns we go through would be fun and convenient. Much easier than navigating small towns in an 18-wheeler.

Here is the folding bike I would get as described here: http://www.citizenbike.com/default.asp


A sophisticated premium folder, with cruiser comfort.

The BARCELONA Citizen Bike combines classic styling with a consciously plush design and premium technology. The handsome result is a unique folding bicycle that's a pleasure to ride. It's a folding bike for going and being human.

The BARCELONA Citizen Bike features a specially designed low, step-through, alloy curvedkframe. This design allows for an easy-on and easy-off riding experience. The cushioned grips and cruiser saddle complement the relaxed, upright ride for a supremely comfortable experience.

(I like that "being human" part!)

Another interesting article about the increasing political debate surrounding bicycling in general is here:
http://www.alternet.org/story/154806/the_bicycling_community_is_becoming_a_political_force_to_be_reckoned_with_--_and_that's_great_news?page=entire

Friday, April 13, 2012

Cultural tidbit for Spring

My sister recently enrolled in several classes to learn the art of Pysanky. Rather than trying to explain this and not explaining it correctly, I'm pasting excerpts from Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pysanka) that I found particularly interesting. Here are two pictures of eggs she painted.



A pysanka (Ukrainian: писанка, plural: pysanky) is a Ukrainian Easter egg, decorated using a wax-resist (batik) method. The word comes from the verb pysaty, "to write", as the designs are not painted on, but written with beeswax. The word pysanka refers specifically to an egg decorated with traditional Ukrainian folk designs

The oldest "real" pysanka was excavated in Baturyn in 2008, and dates to the end of the 17th century. Baturyn was Hetman Mazepa's capital, and it was razed in 1708 by the armies of Peter I. A complete (but crushed) pysanka was discovered, a chicken egg shell with geometric designs against a blue-gray background.[3] The pysanka is currently being reconstructed; when completed, it will allow us to see what sort of ornamentation was in use in pre-1708 Ukraine.

In modern times, the art of the pysanka was carried abroad by Ukrainian emigrants to North and South America, where the custom took hold, and concurrently banished in Ukraine by the Soviet regime (as a religious practice), where it was nearly forgotten. Museum collections were destroyed both by war and by Soviet cadres. Since Ukrainian Independence in 1991, there has been a rebirth of the art in its homeland.

The Hutsuls––Ukrainians who live in the Carpathian Mountains of western Ukraine––believe that the fate of the world depends upon the pysanka. As long as the egg decorating custom continues, the world will exist. If, for any reason, this custom is abandoned, evil––in the shape of a horrible serpent who is forever chained to a cliff–– will overrun the world. Each year the serpent sends out his minions to see how many pysanky have been created. If the number is low the serpent's chains are loosened and he is free to wander the earth causing havoc and destruction. If, on the other hand, the number of pysanky has increased, the chains are tightened and good triumphs over evil for yet another year.

Many superstitions were attached to pysanky. Pysanky were thought to protect households from evil spirits, catastrophe, lightning and fires. Pysanky with spiral motifs were the most powerful, as the demons and other unholy creatures would be trapped within the spirals forever. A blessed pysanky could be used to find demons hidden in the dark corners of your house.
Pysanky held powerful magic, and had to be disposed of properly, lest a witch get a hold of one. She could use the shell to gather dew, and use the gathered dew to dry up a cow's milk. The witch could also use bits of the eggshell to poke people and sicken them. The eggshell had to be ground up very finely (and fed to chickens to make them good egg layers) or broken into pieces and tossed into a running stream.
The cloth used to dry pysanky was powerful, too, and could be used to cure skin diseases. And it was considered very bad luck to trample on a pysanka–God would punish anyone who did with a variety of illnesses.
There were superstitions regarding the colors and designs on the pysanky. One old Ukrainian myth centered on the wisdom of giving older people gifts of pysanky with darker colors and/or rich designs, for their life has already been filled. Similarly, it is appropriate to give young people pysanky with white as the predominant color because their life is still a blank page. Girls would often give pysanky to young men they fancied, and include heart motifs. It was said, though, that a girl should never give her boyfriend a pysanky that has no design on the top and bottom of the egg, as this might signify that the boyfriend would soon lose his hair.


Pysanky are typically made to be given to family members and respected outsiders. To give a pysanka is to give a symbolic gift of life, which is why the egg must remain whole. Furthermore, each of the designs and colors on the pysanka is likely to have a deep, symbolic meaning. Traditionally, pysanky designs are chosen to match the character of the person to whom the pysanka is to be given. Typically, pysanky are displayed prominently in a public room of the house.
In a large family, by Holy Thursday, 60 or more eggs would have been completed by the women of the house. (The more daughters a family had, the more pysanky would be produced.) The eggs would then be taken to the church on Easter Sunday to be blessed, after which they were given away. Here is a partial list of how the pysanky would be used:
One or two would be given to the priest.
Three or four were taken to the cemetery and placed on graves of the family.
Ten or fifteen were given to children or godchildren.
Ten or twelve were exchanged by the unmarried girls with the eligible men in the community.
Several were saved to place in the coffin of loved ones who might die during the year.
Several were saved to keep in the home for protection from fire, lightning and storms.
Two or three were placed in the mangers of cows and horses to ensure safe calving and colting and a good milk supply for the young.
At least one egg was placed beneath the bee hive to insure a good harvest of honey.
One was saved for each grazing animal to be taken out to the fields with the shepherds in the spring.
Several pysanky were placed in the nests of hens to encourage the laying of eggs.
Everyone from the youngest to the oldest received a pysanka for Easter. Young people were given pysanky with bright designs; dark pysanky were given to older people.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Glamour Truck

Spring photo ops
Woodland Bells
Wild Cherry Tree in full bloom
Lavendar

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

With Spring Comes the Plow. . .& Baby Cows

Along I-75 in Indiana, our country's farming heritage is alive and well. Many farms stretch for miles on both sides of the highway, and as the seasons roll by, watching the farmers at work is a small way to remain connected, at least in spirit, to the ever changing cycles of the earth.

In fall the harvest machinery whirred ceaselessly, long into the twilight hours, shades of yellowing greens gradually maturing to a tawny gold and finally embracing winter in pale, dry browns. Dark, rich manure was spread across the fields mid-winter, lending sharp contrast to the snow dustings. I watched carefully for the white form of a snowy owl hunting in the open but never saw any--NPR had reported sightings this winter as far south as Indiana and Ohio. The radio clip had stated that the owls stand about two feet high and prefer to hunt from low perches in the middle of wide open spaces, such as a tree stump or a small knoll. With spring comes the plow churning the manure under, blending the colors into shades of cocoa, malt and sand. From this palette, beneath the lengthening rays of sunlight, a new array of color will sprout in just a few short weeks.

Today's farmers must be ever inventive and adaptive to the changing and fickle food industry. Fair Oaks Farms have carved a niche for themselves from the Indiana landscape. Their advertising milk tankers are parked in their fields, visible from the interstate touting their dairy products, farm tours and gift shop. According to their website, one can also attend the Milk Cow Music Festival on the Second of June this season and have a mooo-velous time111 30,000 milk cows. That's a lot of milking! and 80 calves a day being born!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Brandywine Creek Steak House & tavern

Near the border of Tennessee and North Carolina on I-40 is a small mountain town called Newport. If you are ever in the area, it's worth a stop at the Brandywine Creek Steak House & Tavern. Brandywine has a bright yellow billboard on the interstate that you would see if you approach from the west. It says "Home of the Throwed Rolls".

This originally caught my eye because throwing biscuits at the table was a family tradition from my grandpa. He sat at the head of the long dining table and would ask each of us grandchildren if they wanted a "cathead" and he'd then throw them a biscuit. I was so enthralled with this billboard essentially advertising what I thought was our obscure mountain family tradition, that Zygote had been talking about this steakhouse that he wanted to visit for four solid months before I ever saw the words "Steak House" on the sign. For some reason, one night as I passed this sign for the 672nd time, I suddenly realized that this was the steak house he'd been trying to tell me about all this time. LOL--living with me is great fun, just ask Zygote!

So, I pulled into the rest area and woke up "the man". There is no self-respecting male who would say 'no' to a steak dinner, especially if your trucker wife is waking up you up to tell you we'll be there in 15 minutes. I just hoped their idea of "truck parking" as advertised matched my idea of truck parking. One never knows.

Truck parking was real truck parking plus they also own the empty lot nextdoor to the restaurant and said that truckers can also park there if needed. The food was really good; the steaks were so tasty that we didn't even use the steak sauces that we had asked for. And yes, the waitress tossed the rolls to us! as grandpa would have said, "well, blow me down!"

If you want to go:
I-40, exit 432B, turn right at end of exit, restaurant on the right


http://dininginthesmokies.com/_menus/sev/brandywine_creek_steakhouse_and_tavern_newport_tn_menu.pdf

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Missing Truck Driver Alert Network

The Mooresville Tribune reported on March 27th that a body had been found at a Wilco truck stop in Troutman, North Carolina. The body was later identified as William Herbert, a truck driver who had been reported missing by his family in December. His truck had been sitting at the truck stop since then, unnoticed by the truck stop employees as having been in the same spot for three months. Police claimed they had searched for the truck; the trucking company used trucks with no satellite communication on the roof; the truck being reported as stolen was what finally succeeded in locating both the man and his "missing" truck. WSOCTV out of Charlotte reported more later-
ARTICLE
http://www.wsoctv.com/news/news/local/man-found-dead-truck-wasnt-moved-months/nLd3k/

Much speculation and commenting has occurred online about the incident. Without entering the foray, and leaving each of you to draw your own conclusions, let me offer this:
We all are a part of this web that is Life. We all use products that are shipped from far away and require much sacrifice from many individuals to arrive at our doorstep, whether it be the hardships endured by migrant workers in crop fields or the long hours behind the wheel of the truck. Appreciation for each piece of this giant puzzle involves respect for each other every day, every person we encounter, regardless of creed, race, color or what kind of vehicle they drive. A great misfortune occurred that this man died alone and unnoticed by his trucking community. We must, as truckers, as humans take from tragedy a call to better ourselves, our game, our community.
My condolences go out to the family of Mr William Herbert.

Missing Truck Driver Network was formed after another similar tragedy occurred-- a useful resource for us all.


www.facebook.com/groups/MissingTruckdriver/

The story about the formation of this group is located here: http://www.examiner.com/trucking-in-tampa-bay/missing-truck-driver-alert-network

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Georgia on my mind

I spent a day in Georgia this past weekend at a friend's wedding arriving in the dark the 
night before.  The air was muggy and warm when I opened the door of the cabin where I had 
slept.  A soft rain pattered outside the screened porch.  The fact that I'm rarely awake 
before 11am, since I drive at night, coupled with this being my first glimpse of the 
Georgia landscape in daylight made for a surreal feeling.  Spanish moss draped from every 
live oak; huge pines towered over the screened porch.  Several hundred yards down the 
hill from the cabin was a pond, its flashes of silver glinting between mossy tresses in 
the subdued morning light.  I gathered my things and left for town to execute an errand 
for the bride and to forage for breakfast and coffee.

Valdosta, Georgia, is a quaint southern rail town with a vibrant downtown area.  I had no 
trouble finding the florist where I was to pick up the flowers at noon, so I parked and 
window shopped.  A local bar was open with someone setting tables out on the sidewalk-by 
this time the rain had stopped and the skies were a mottled gray.  The bar was offering 
coffee and free wifi.  I settled in to catch up on emails and some reading.

At noon I picked up the flower arrangements and then drove outside of town, across the 
state border to Florida and onto a dirt road leading to the Alcyone Plantation.
 
 
The plantation house is a rambling southern home, typical to most towns in the area. Six 
live oaks, all beautifully covered in spanish moss graced the front lawn, and tall pines 
lined the drive. 
 
 
 
 
 
The Front Hall is flanked on each side with large rooms: sitting room, formal room, dining room and kitchen.
A second set of rooms are behind the first, each opening to the other through grand sliding doors. 
 
All the rooms sport ornate moulding at the ceiling and wainscot.  The dining room sparkled 
 with twinkling light from a splendid chandelier. Much of the furniture was  
antique reproductions, however, the kitchen was modernized with an island and a gas stove; 
it was large with a dine -in table, a window settee and a sitting area on the opposite end  
with a fireplace.  The wide porch spanning the back of the house was lined with rocking chairs.   
The back lawn stretched downhill to a lillypad-rimmed pond.  
The wedding, of course, was beautiful.  The skies cleared early in the afternoon, after a 
customary spring downpour, and the sun shone on the festivities. 

After dark I slipped away to begin my 8 hour drive home.  Walking away under the shadow 
of the live oaks and looking back at the glow of the house and all its glory, it was easy 
to imagine it 125 years before but difficult to fathom all the sacrifice and hard work 
that would have gone into creating such opulence during those times. This view of the 
house from afar would have been the view that the people who made the plantation tick 
would have seen.  Not the view from inside.