Monday, December 28, 2009

All Across North Carolina

Tonight, all across this great state, including here in this little paradise that is Valdese, people are huddled around whatever their primary source of heat may be.

Some are saying, "See, I knowed they warnt no dad-burned global warmin' ".

Others are saying, "WTF???????"

'Cause it's really cold.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Stuff Around The House #15 - The Kitchen Door

The kitchen door opens to the inside and allows egress (I've always wanted to use that word) to the deck. It's on the sunny side of the house so even on the coldest days we can open it and sun shining thru the glass storm door heats up a small area. The dog and cat love it.

This picture was taken thru the glass the door, with some plants in the back ground. Patti Anne took it, I thought it was interesting, fly swatter and all.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Snow removal efforts in Valdese

Valdese is generally a warm weather type of place. Even the winters are mild. Even today, though the place is still blanketed in several inches of snow it made it to the low 40s. That's the problem. It should be making it to the 50s with 60s not out of the question, and the lows should be above freezing.

This is what should have happened. It snowed - it always snows at least once a year - then the next day it warms up and the snow is gone. That's the way it should be, and until this year, that's the way it was.

The first snowfall of the year was the biggest snowfall I've seen in my time in NC. And it's not going away.

We don't have a snow shovel. We have a shovel with a flat edge that can do a passable job, but it's not a real snow shovel. Its very good that we have 4 wheel drive, or we would not be able to get out to South Avenue.

Ahhhh, beautiful South Avenue - its like Alfred Hitchcock's concept of an Art Nouveau postcard. Everything looks benign, but there's just a tinge of creepiness about the place and you can't quite put your finger on it. You wonder, what's really happening in all those houses?

Anyway Valdese's snow removal efforts would cost the mayor of a large northern city an election. They have not invested heavily in snow removal equipment, which I suppose is a responsible non-investment around here, most times.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Comfort of Language

It's snowing in North Carolina today. It's snowing hard & it's not supposed to stop for awhile. We're good citizens, we pay our taxes (thanks Patti Anne), why do we deserve this?

We went to the post office early today, and the roads were beginning to be covered with slush. I had to put the truck in 4 wheel drive to get out of the driveway, and you had to be careful when you walked.

It's the Christmas season & the post office is a busy place these days. We had to park further away from the front door than usual.

An elderly woman had parked in front of us and was out of her car. When I got out she called me over to her. She asked me if I would take a package up to the counter for her - it was already paid & had an online label on it. I'm very familiar with online labels, since I've printed off about a thousand of them. She was afraid she would slip and fall, and with good reason. That short walk to the post office door was pretty treacherous.

So I went up to the counter and waited for a few minutes while people in front of me did whatever they had to do. I gave the package to the woman behind the counter and explained that an elderly woman had given it to me & why. She replied, "Yes, I've heard it's getting slick out".

Now why would I think about that? It sounds so natural to me, but yet I still think about it. Its because I've lived so many years in the northern realms of the lower 48. Up north, they would have said slippery instead of slick. It would have been duly noted with greater or lesser degrees of mirth, up north, if a person said something like "its slick out".

I can see it now. "Is that really the way youse guys talk?"

Its funny how accents and a choice of words can make a person feel at home. It was, and is, very, very slick out.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I Wonder What They Were Thinking

I frequently walk my dog up to the cemetery - and in the back at the top of the hill is the old section. It gets me thinking, and not just about my physical mortality.

A little history: Valdese, NC was founded by a group of Waldensians from the Italian Alps in 1893. The Waldensians were a religious group founded in the 12th century (I think), by a man named Peter Waldo. Actually people werent too strict about names back then, so his last name changed from time to time. The Latinized version of his name was Valdese. This movement existed in central Europe, and had very radical ideas for the time - namely that the Bible should be written in the spoken language of the people, and they did not recognize the authority of the Pope. In other words, they were protestants, tho they didn't know it. For centuries they were persecuted.

Skip to 1870 or so, when the King of Italy decides he's going to stop hunting these people down and killing them. They're mountain people (and you know how they are) and they've managed to survive for centuries - but after the active persecutions stops, the population explodes. There's not enough land. So some way, some how, some leaders began to organize groups to settle in different countries. Some went to South America, but in 1893 a group came to Burke County, North Carolina, a few miles east of Morganton, and established a community.

In the cemetery, you see a lot of graves of people born in the 1860s - that makes them the right age to start out on an adventure like this, late 20s, early 30s, when they'd be at their strongest. There are lots of gaves with people born in the late 1890s - the first generation born in America. The oldest grave I've seen was of a woman born in 1832 - she would have been in her 60s by the time she came over. The original settlers each have a small plaque by their headstone.

They came from the Italian Alps, up near France, but I don't think they spoke Italian, or French either for that matter. There's lots of languages floating around Europe that most people in the USA aren't aware of. They certainly didn't speak English.

They had names like Guigou, Martinat, Tron, Pascal, Grill, Bounous, Ribet, Parise, Pons, Roderet, Jacumin, Garrou, Micol, Meytre, Bigotto, Refour, Vinay and many others. They built a big church on what is now Main Street, and affiliated themselves with the Presbyterians. It's not easy starting a colony of sorts, but they managed and the town still exists.

But I wonder what they thought was going to happen to them, or if they cared. Did they think they were going to keep their culture & their language? Did they think they were going to raise their children the way they were raised back in the old country? They did not immigrate a family at a time, they came over as a group, and built a community as a group. Did they think they would not be assimilated, that the surrounding culture would not overrun it? Did they not realize that they'd just jumped in to the great "melting pot" of late 19th century America?

Well, the Waldensian culture no longer exists here. It's not forgotten - there are reminders all over town. There are signs, there is a museum, the large church, a "Trail of Faith" exhibition consisting of several buildings and structures that represent important events in Waldensian history. There are lots of people around with the names, direct descendants of the founders. There are a couple of festivals during the year. There's a play that's performed every year by the community theater. There's a mural on a wall. Some of their original buildings & houses still exist. There's the street names in town. But the culture that the original settlers brought with them in 1893 and lived with on a daily basis is long gone. It's not forgotten, but it's gone. No one speaks the language anymore.

I just wonder if the original people who came over realized that was going to happen.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Just a might more English

This is #16 in my never ending series on English as I learned it growing up.

Today we'll examine a secondary usage of the word "might". Here's a good example from a song called "The Devil's Right Hand" by Steve Earle:

"....shoots as fast as lighting but she loads a might slow........."

The song is in reference to a pistol, and the complaint is that it's hard to load, so it has its limitations in a gun fight. Just so you know.

That is a tried & true, honorable, and (to me and mine) a very familiar usage of the word "might". You could have said "it loads a bit slowly", or "a little slow", and you would have expressed an idea in the same general realm, but would not be the same.

The usage of "might" this way almost always include an "a" before it, and more importantly, the usage is almost always an understatement, irony or out right sarcasm, used to make a point.

If someone describes someone as "a might peckish...." that would be a good person to avoid, either on a specific topic or in general, depending on the context. Unless you seek out conflict.

Maybe I'll discuss peckish later.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Cat Worries

This is Snowchief the Cat back in 2007, soaking up some sun, hanging out on our University of Kentucky floor mat I won at a family reunion auction. He's lost quite a bit of weight since then.

Snowchief is around 18 years old, give or take. I brought him and a brother home one day back in April 1992 - a woman at work had rescued some kittens who had been living under her deck, and I took a couple of them. He was a young kitten, I could have put him in my shirt pocket. He grew to be a good sized cat.

He still has a appetite, still uses his litter box, still seeks out the sun and other warm spots, still jumps on chairs, is still quite affectionate. But I'm worried about him. Even though he eats, he vomits a lot. He is much thinner than he used to be, and is not quite as sure footed. He looks like an old cat. I can feel his bones pressing against his skin when I pet him. It's been a long time since he attacked my toes. I don't think he's in pain, but I don't think he's well, either.

Animals die, I know that, and Snowchief is old. I've never had a pet as long as I've had Snowchief though, so I'm really dreading it. I don't want him to suffer, but I'm not sure how I'd know if he is.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Because I can't think of anything to write.

First, before I offer any explanation for the picture to the left, I need to let everyone know that the Mr. T gadget is gone. I never really warmed up to it, and it looked like it was getting ready to die anyway. Apparently I'm a gadget killer. I'll be surprised if I ever mention Mr. T in this blog again.

Ok. I'm in one of those situations where I cant think of anything to write, but I want to write something. I feel the urge. I feel the need. Usually when this happens I'll post one of my "stuff around the house" posts, but that requires that I take a picture of something, and I don't FEEL like it. I'm in a lazy, unmotivated, uninspired mood.

So I just grabbed a picture off my computer. I've had this picture for a long time, stuck in a folder along with other pictures of that ilk. I have no idea where it came from, how I came to possess it, or what it means, or if there somebody out there who actually created it and cares. I just thought it was interesting, and frequently that's the only reason I need to snag something and stick it in a folder, knowing that months later I'll probably look at it & think about it again.

Sometimes I make up histories for & motivations behind stuff like this, but I haven't for this one. I just like to look at it every now and then. I like the colors.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Mr. T Gadget

On Dec 3 I posted a old joke I heard about what Mr. "T" might say if he were the Pope.

Today I came across a gadget of Mr T quotes. Co-incidence? I think not. So I thought I'd try it out, at least for a little while.

I notice that most of my gadgets tend to die. They just up and die.

I'm not convinced this is a good idea anyway. With that fact in mind, coupled with the fact that these gadgets seem to be unreliable, I'd say the chances of it being around long term are slim.

But until that day I stuck it on the side bar.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Cold Weather Dog Walking

It was a cold morning in Western North Carolina. Heavy frost, and below freezing. Any water left over from yesterday's rains were frozen. For the first time this year I pulled out a heavy coat to take old Pickles on her morning walk.

You have to understand though - there's cold, then there's North Carolina cold. North Carolina cold is not that bad, especially if the wind isn't blowing. Even though it was cold, I could feel the warmth from the sun, and that held the possibility that the afternoon would be much warmer. Well, clouds appear to be moving in this afternoon and it still feels cold. Whatever. You want cold, head up to North Dakota.

Pickles and I walked up to the cemetery this morning, and I'm pleased to report that valiant Valdese city workers (I assume) have removed a large and very dead possum from our walking route. This poor corpse hung around between the sidewalk and Praley Ave for a couple of weeks. I figured no one would get around to moving it until spring, because it was not on the road, was not directly in front of someone's yard, and no one was going to have to mow that strip of grass for the next few months. Well, I'm happy to report that I was wrong. The last thing I needed was for Pickles to start playing with a dead possum, so I'd take exceptional efforts to avoid it whenever we walked up that way. Dogs seem facinated with dead animals.

I noticed this morning that the mountains to the west of us are blanketed with snow. They are 3,000 to 4,000 feet in elevation. The south mountains - which are just outside our kitchen window, have no snow on them, but they aren't as high. We also don't have any snow, it looks like it didn't quite make it over the mountains.

Pickles liked her walk this morning. No complaints, not even about the cold. I on the other hand, was wishing I had some gloves & something to cover my ears. But it wasn't that bad.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

The last word about eBay

This will be my last post about eBay in this blog. Heaven help me, but I've started a new blog to documents my thoughts in the eBay realm. I just decided to keep the eBay stuff out of "A Valdese Blog". Keep AVB pure, so to speak.  

The new blog is called A Valdese Store, and if you're interested in what goes on in our little eBay world, that's the place to find out.  It will include any comments or thoughts I have on eBay in general, posts highlighting things we have for sale, and anything else that may enter my mind about the day to day goings on involved. If you're not involved with selling a lot on eBay, you'd be amazed! Its very possible that Pickles the Dog will work her way into that blog too, since she comes along for our daily trip to the post office, and the trips to the post office are definitely eBay related.    

I stuck a link to the blog on the sidebar.

A Valdese Blog will continue to be dedicated to whatever odd thing I think about.  This can either be good or bad, depending on your standards.    I have a lot of fun with this little blog, and I'll keep at it as much as I ever did.  I appreciate all the people who drop & leave comments.  If the other blog doesn't work out, I'll end it and incorporate the eBay stuff back into this one.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

If Mr. "T" were the Pope: A repitition of a joke

If Mr. "T" were the Pope, he'd be Pope "T" the first, and he'd say "I pity the fool who thinks I'm fallible!"

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Wet Weather Dog Walking

It started raining early this morning, perhaps 4 AM or so, and did not stop until 6 or 7 this evening. I've never let a little rain get in the way of walking the dog, so I figured today should not be any different.  So about 8:30 this morning, I grabbed my trusty rain jacket, with hood, leashed up old Pickles (aka Gnarls Barkley), and we set out.   

It didn't seem too bad at first, but I keep forgetting about the trees.  Even though the leaves are finally gone, we have a bunch of very large trees around the house, and the branches alone can effect my perception of how hard its raining, or how cool or warm it is, depending on if it's cold or hot.  Or raining.

So anyway we headed out to South Avenue and walked toward Praley.   By the time we got to Praley, maybe 1/4th of a mile away, I began to have 2nd thoughts.   Pickles was soaked and would stop to shake every few steps then look at me like I was an idiot.  My jacket was keeping me dry - except everywhere it didn't reach, which was most places.   In those places I was soaked.

We turned left on Praley  & walked toward Pineburr.  Praley is a major street in this little town, so we were upon occasion passed by a vehicle.  I ignored the looks of disbelief of many of the drivers, and when an 18 wheeler came rolling down the hill we had to stop and look.  Pickles insists on stopping and looking at anything big or loud.   18 wheelers fit her definition of big and loud.

The more we walked, the harder it rained, so Pickles and I took a vote and decided to cut the walk a little short today.  We turned on Pineburr, went up Colonial, took a little short cut on Fox over to Orchard & back to South Avenue. 

Here's one thing I noticed.  I know where all the barking dogs live, but today not one of them came out to bark at us.  Not Lucky Bear, not Arnold Ziffel, and especially not that pack of dogs that live in back of a house on Fox.  

I reckon these are fair weather barkers.   I say, if you're going to take the trouble to bark at me when the sun is shining, you should also bark at me when its raining.   All I'm asking is consistency out of these mutts.  

Pickles had no complaints about getting back home.   She shook off, became a crazy dog for a minute or two then went to sleep.