Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Third Annual Christmas Stinkhorn

Linderia columnata
Common Name: Columned Stinkhorn
Description:Fruiting body: 6 to 10 cm tall, 2 to 3 cm wide with 4 to 5 hollow, bright red, spongy arms united at the top, which arise directly from the white volva, greba dark olive-green held inside the arch at the top (which you can almost see in the photo above.) Button: white, flaccid, oval with white attached cords or rhizomorphs. Odor: stong. Flavor: mild (though the arms in a greba sauce must be utterly disgusting)
Habitat and Distribution:Single to several on rich soil, mulch, in gardens, lawns and open woods. Found in SE and Southern US. Fruiting in summer, fall, and early winter during or after wet weather.

Our Christmas started with an unusual smell and we wondered from where it was emanating. Cymande remembered that this is the season of the stinkhorn. We eventually found a small crop growing in our flower bed. From there we progressed to a pancake breakfast prepared in our partially completed kitchen. Then a series of traditional Christmas activities ensued: mulching the sycamore leaves; washing the front porch; playing our newly acquired bass; giving the dogs baths; and enjoying the 80 degree day.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Florida Turns Blue

Dear Lora Lee, Anthony, Faye and Jerome,
I cannot help but be in awe of all that you went through for love. The dreams of your generation are fulfilled...

Love Ever,
The Next Generation
ps: We will be prudent stewards of your dreams, as I hope you have seen today.
pps: OWR would like to formally announce that we are rejoining the USA. You may not have actually noticed, but we seceded several years ago. We're back now.

Monday, November 03, 2008

November 3rd, 2008

As we all anticipate a long night tomorrow (or ideally a short decisive night) I would like to update everyone on the status of our kitchen renovation project.  This past weekend I spent hours rolling around in our crawlspace removing old 50's era wiring.  The prior kitchen circuits continued to other locations in the house and everything had to be gutted.  I somehow avoided getting electrocuted by the previous owners handiwork.  (I blame all substandard home repair on this poor old man that bush-hogs the field next to us, he has become symbolic, but hell, it works for me)  We have replaced the walls and ceiling and we are about to sand and refinish the hardwood floor.  The counters and cabinetry are to arrive before long and all the appliances are here.  We still have no window, but a piece of drywall seems to work just fine for now.  Things are moving along a steady pace.

These are photos of downtown Lake City which has experienced years of neglect and poor planning.  For the past 40 years developers have been more interested in plowing oak hammocks and filling wetlands than thinking long term about the future. This has resulted in a characterless sprawling strip mall area west of downtown.  There appears to be no vision and no plan for the future.  It doesn't need to be like this.  I think there is an analogy in here about the election tomorrow. We here on OWR have hope for tomorrow (both the literal and the figurative tomorrows).  We can't wait for your next visit.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

This is our kitchen...

This past weekend we began the kitchen project.  We have no sink, no stove, no electricity, no windows, no ceiling and just a couple of walls left.  We have a floor with a filthy sink drain sticking out of it.  This situation has caused us all to feel a bit adrift on the great sea of home repair.  Off the port side please view the broken window in the flower garden, and to the starboard side please examine the 50's era wiring that is sure to spontaneously burst into flames.  The galley will be serving cold cheese sandwiches for the foreseeable future...         

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Our Friend Douglas Richman

Ross York presented this eulogy on September 22, 2008 at the Martha-Mary Chapel in Sudbury, MA.

Douglas Richman - September 30, 1970 - September 16, 2008

Over the past days, while looking at pictures of Douglas, sharing stories and heartfelt words with friends, closing my eyes to see him in happy memories, I still feel the life within Doug, the life that he put into everything he did. That life will never go away. In our memories, we can each recall something that was uniquely "Doug:" a smile, a laugh, an expression. These are etched in our minds as the surface of our recollections. But the warmth in our hearts from these memories is his true spirit and the lasting legacy of Douglas's Life.

When I first met Douglas in college sixteen years ago, I was immediately drawn to him by his sense of humor. He could laugh at anything, and he made me and so many others want to laugh with him. Doug could keep a room full of people silent listening to one of his stories, but the silence would always be brought to an end with hysterical laughter, with Doug leading the way. His way of seeing the world and his response to it was distinct and creative. Because of his gentle ways and his unique nature, people wanted to be around him. He answered by bringing people together at his Stetson Street Apartment. Doug opened his doors to everyone and invited them to be a part of his community, even going so far as to create an unofficial fraternity. Through Doug, I met many good friends there and still look back on it as one of the best times in my life, full of joy.

It was in this apartment that so many of his early paintings and drawings were made. Doug always worked with great passion and a childlike excitement, and he could turn anything he found into his art, using old car parts, doors, house paint, or whatever we could lay our hands on at the local Salvation Army. His love for art was contagious and inspiring, and it drove me and others to follow his lead. At the times when I was most frustrated with what I perceived to be my artistic failures, ready to destroy another painting, Douglas would only see beauty and encourage me to carry on. He taught me that life's unexpected imperfections offered the opportunity to achieve unexpected splendor. He could also find beauty in almost anything, whether it was the petal of a flower, a stray feather, or a jar of Fluff, and he would only ask that you take a moment to enjoy that beauty.

As the years passed and the settings changed, Doug's impact on people never did. New friends were drawn to him and were touched by his love for life. He lived every moment with such spirit and humor, while never seeming to be weighed down by the burdens of life. Those who surrounded him were united by the happiness he inspired. I always looked forward to each time I could see Douglas as though it were a special occasion. Because it was a special occasion, no matter what we were doing. As I got to know Doug over the years, I often heard from him about his family. I came to understand that he was shaped by the loving care with which he was raised by his parents and his three sisters. In every story and in the way he would talk about his family, I could tell that Doug had always felt an unconditional love and the encouragement to truly be himself, and he had a deep love and affection for them all.

As we got older, Douglas and I would rely on each other for advice and guidance on so many matters. He taught me the proper method for buying a car, a subject he had so much experience in since it seemed he would trade in his vehicle every six months. I learned that if the salesman wasn't mad at me by the time I left with the car, I hadn't really done a good job. But Doug was always there when I needed him, whether times were good or bad. He helped me to find a career in his industry in office furniture, and I was grateful not only for the help in finding a job, but also for the opportunity to have more in common and more time spent with Doug. I would watch him and listen to him, and he was my role model for finding success through hard work and a friendly smile. I know that he had learned this from his father and uncle, who both had worked for years in the industry, and he was quietly proud to be following in their footsteps.

When Doug and Linnea found each other, I was happy for the joy and love that they had found in her. And as they were expecting the birth of Hattie, I had never seen him happier. He would draw pictures of her sonogram because he couldn't wait to meet her. He had always shown that he loved to be around children through his playful nature. And I know that he felt the same unconditional love for his new family that his family had given to him. Through the sleepless nights and stress of new parenthood, he would come to me for advice, and he understood that at times he would have to work hard at being a father and husband. But through all of this hard work, he had finally come to this time and place of great happiness. I can only be happy that he got to see these days.

In his final weeks, I would talk to Doug often and I got to see him only a little, not enough. But the time we spent was a happy time for me, and I am grateful for it. He knew that I felt like he was the brother I never had in all the years we had spent together. I never said goodbye because I never wanted to believe and I never wanted him to believe that this could happen. But I was able to tell him that I loved him. I can only be happy that I had the chance to know Douglas through all of these years and that he knew how I felt about him. I have known Doug for sixteen years, and I am grateful for every minute I was able to have with him.

I wanted to share a poem that Douglas wrote that was passed on to me from a friend. It reminds me of his attention to the small things in life, and his gentle, loving nature.

When the light rays shine through the leaves, it looks like dancing. Light itself, gathering around forming a circle and holding hands.

Sometimes when the shadows attach themselves to the undersides of these leaves it will smile, like very light caterpillars softly tickling small veins in leaves.

Sometimes when these leaves fall together they will separate and become one. They will deploy with grace, drift with caution and land with a whisper, gently laying on top of each other, slowly crumbling with time, forming a clear pattern that will dissolve even if looked at.

Sometimes these things are dancing and not meant to be seen. Some things are better off thought of and delightfully holding their hands.

Some of us can hear in the distance their light calls in the air singing and joyfully hoping that someday we will return to that place where all is peaceful. I will meet you there holding your hand.

Monday, August 11, 2008

An International Incident in Seven Parts (Lefavor to Chanoah)

Part 1: The Lefavor/Mullen Family Reunion

We started our journey in Salt Lake City and traveled north. We slept amongst oil wells burning off methane. These flowers didn't seem to mind though.

Bear River Migratory Bird Sanctuary, Brigham City, Utah. It was here that I mistook a muskrat for a beaver. The naturalist proved her patience and understanding by educating me in the ways of aquatic mammals.

Family members join Grandma Mullen at Scout Mountain campground. 

Looking northwest from Scout Mountain, Pocatello, Idaho (where we saw a Western Tanager, Cedar Waxwings, Kinglets, Vireos, Hummingbirds and Sandhill Cranes.) We camped nearby and I was reminded how painful the earth can feel when one's body is separated from it by only a thin layer of plastic and down.

1976 Cousins.

Paul and Kari cooked a hardy breakfast for everyone then we set out on our seperate ways. Our goal was to travel halfway to Lyle, Oregon. After being lost in downtown Pocatello and then lost in a large supermarket we eventually made it to Baker City, Oregon. We ate 'fun shee' which translates to 'rice abrasion.' It was the best chinese food we've ever had. 

Part 2: The Oregon Trail

Cymande surveys the Baker Valley. She spotted a wagon, but upon further investigation it turned out to be a prop for tourists. The pioneer family living in the wagon was real though.

The Oregon Trail outside of Baker City, Oregon. 

Here's to existential near misses: In 1848, Cymande's great, great, great grandmother Janet Findlay was run over and severely injured in a stampede of bison while on the Mormon/Oregon trail. Janet's friend perished. Luckily Janet did not; her daughter, Cymande's great, great grandmother, wasn't born until 1852. Cymande wonders if this is the guy who did it.

Part 3: The Columbia River Gorge

Lyle, Washington on the north side of the gorge. We were the only guests at the Lyle Hotel. We were also the only people in the whole building and were given a secret code to get in and out of the building. We felt special, but then I got kind of scared when I walked around the silent halls. I started reading the Yiddish Policeman's Union and it made me feel better for a few moments. I looked out the window and across the street was a slightly rundown single-wide with a little sign hanging in the yard that read 'trailer trash.' I'll allow you to make up the ending of this story.

Cymande handles an inanimate salmon outside a hatchery. We missed the spawning salmon. We were either too early or too late or both. We learned that to keep the hatchery sustained only 6 salmon need to return and lay eggs. We also watched a woman 'count' salmon, but it appeared that a computer was actually doing all the work; she was reading a book. What bothered me was the 'do not disturb sign' on her door. Anyway, go salmon go!

During the duration of the road trip I could be spotted in this precise location, the driver's seat. I defiantly grew a considerable amount of facial hair but eventually gave into the prevailing social norm and shaved it off.  Cymande cried. 

Multnomah Falls, Oregon, the south side of the gorge. 

Japanese Tea Garden, Portland, Oregon.   After a night downtown at the Mark Spencer Hotel, we had breakfast and coffee at Annabanana Coffee House and headed up the hill. We underestimated the elevation and distance of the Tea Garden. It was peaceful and there is a spectacular view of Mt.Hood. It was peaceful except for a bus tourist screaming into his phone, 'just pour some weed killer on it!' Add that to the list of things most commonly heard in a traditional Japanese tea garden.

Part 4: Lake Quinault Lodge

Lake Quinault Lodge, Olympic National Park, Washingon. We left Portland for the Olympic Peninsula. We got quite hungry. Then we got desperately hungry. Then our GPS fabricated several fictional purveyors of food. Don't worry, we survived and made it to Lake Quinault Lodge. It was really wonderful. There was even a Lake Quinault walking stick in every room, but I refused to use for walking.

The Great Hall, where several guests were found fast asleep with books at their sides. We attempted to sleep, but instead settled for a couple glasses of wine by the fire.  We bought the place and we're moving in.  Okay, you can move in too.     

Part 5: Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast and Vancouver, BC

Port Angeles to Victoria, the first of five ferry voyages. Before we left I viewed an educational diorama of something called Highline logging and Cymande sought out something warm to wear.  Florida living has ill prepared us for any temperature below 78 degrees.  Port Angeles is a bit rough, but they have a small natural market with local cheeses and who doesn't like cheese.

Parliment lit up olde English style in Victoria. The Canadian Customs Agent quizzed us about our trip. We told him about the wedding at Fenn Lodge and about Chantal and Noah and Sasquatch and kilts. He let us through, stating that our answers were 'perfect'.  We felt really good about ourselves until we realized that when Canadians say 'perfect', they don't really mean one is perfect. (oh well).  We stayed that night a hostel, in a room above a bustling corner, and there were ravens that sat on the lightpost outside our window. We envied all the young and old backpackers taking months/years to hike the Canadian countryside.

The Queen of Surrey travels the Sunshine Coast. This was one of many ferry rides between small towns along the east coast of Vancouver Island and the west coast of mainland BC.   A warning to all Americans: Canada expects that you are capable of honesty and critical thinking and that you will expect quality. So imagine my disbelief when I was waved onto a ferry with no proof of paying and then was served robust coffee. I had every expectation being interrogated over our apparent free entry and every expectation of watery flavorless coffee. Go Canada!

Pisanster ochraceus, purple star

The Queen of the Twassassen travels between Saltery Bay and Earl's Cove.

The view from the Capilano Dam in North Vancouver. We peered over the edge, felt nauseous and drove on to the base of Grouse Mountain. Unknown to us, we would return to this very neighborhood in less than week to pick up the wedding cupcakes at a bakery known as 'Cupcakes.'

Vancouver from Grouse Mountain. We rode the tram to the peak and watched captive grizzly bears sleep.

Totem pole at the Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver. It was from the parking lot that we first heard of the strange events occurring at Fenn Lodge. Somehow we knew everything would be fine (and it was.)

Cymande bids farewell before heading east to Fenn Lodge. 

Part 6: Pre-wedding Activities at Fenn Lodge

A little dust flew the first day at Fenn Lodge. 

Gary serves the early arrivals his famous apple pancakes. Later in the day we drove back to Vancouver for the bachelor/bachelorette party. We met up with old and new friends and were later impressed with pure, non-olympic, snobby and frustrating athleticism.

Chantal and Noah lead us on a hike to 'underwear falls.' There is a fascinating story that the local native culture relates about the clear water that flows richly with underwear.

Chantal discusses the flora, fauna and occasional underwearless inmate found at the falls.

Philip forms a symbiotic relationship with the temperate rain forest.

Wedding preparations begin. 

There is a story about how the dance floor was screwed to the wall of the barn and through some careful teamwork we removed it. 

The night before the wedding. New guests arrived and delicious food was served by a tireless crew. 

The dance tent is lit.

View from the second floor of the old barn. 

One of the many slugs that roam Fenn Lodge. Chantal woke with a one in her bed. I found one in my shoe. 

Rollie, a cat that drools as much as he purrs.

Part 7: Chanoah Marry!

A large OWR shout-out to brent for his stylish and commemorative buttons. 

We were all drawn to the man with the bagpipes. Ace (the dog) wasn't so sure that the bagpipes were acceptable. The bagpiper didn't even flinch at his protests.

Noah's kilt. We know the answer to the question you are all asking yourselves. 

Chantal and Gary part the rain clouds. For hours before the ceremony it rained and we considered moving it under the tents. Then, miraculously, the rain stopped and we mopped off the chairs. Chantal and Noah were married and the rain promptly resumed.

Philip and Dan take photos of the bride and groom.

(b)rent shoots his raw footage which after editing will shock the world with it's gritty realism. We are waiting.

The reception begins. Prior to this moment all I had eaten was a cupcake. When the artful food items arrived I did everything I could to contain my excitement. Unfortunately that translates into me singularly devouring entire trays of food...or at least it felt that way.

Sadly, we were only able to stay for an hour before leaving to catch our flight in Seattle. 

As we attempt to leave, Ace follows us and because his parents just got married, and because he is wearing a doggie kilt, Cymande feeds him half her precious sesame encrusted meatball. Lucky dog.  

The End. 

PS... Goodbye Canada! Farewell french fry stew! You both are beautiful! Love, Cymande and Gregg
Creative Commons License
Old Wire Road Blog by is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.