Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Maine Minutiae : My Name is Earl

Have You Seen This Hurricane ?

Yesterday we talked about the eminent approach of autumn in Maine. I had no sooner hit the "publish" button on the blog dashboard, when I checked the weather for our area and found out that Hurricane Earl was going to be moving up the East Coast beginning some time Thursday. On July 16, when I wrote this, I thought, "Yeah, right. It'll be a cold day in hell when a Hurricane hits Maine again any time soon." Guess what? Satan is wearing a sweater right now, because there is a decent possibility that Hurricane Earl could brush the southeastern and eastern part of the state Friday night into Saturday morning. That "strike zone" includes Augusta, where I live. Admittedly, if Earl does pay us a visit, we'll more than likely get the outer bands of the storm. But still, it could impact me, my family and neighbors with heavy rain, tornadoes, flooding, power outages and so on. I am not really worried yet though, today is only Tuesday, so we've still got a bit of wiggle room to work with. I'll keep my eye on the weather over the next couple of days in order to do whatever we need to do to be prepared in case Earl slams us. It's kind of weird, though, I was talking to a neighbor earlier today about winter and now we (you and I) are considering how we (my family) could be affected by a hurricane this weekend. I suppose I'll go check the latest storm path info on various weather sites I know to what's shakin'. And maybe read a do-it-yourself ark-building book, the Bible. Does anyone know how to convert "cubits" to "feet"?

Texas Tidbits : Remember Goliad!

When the subject of  Texas' war for independence from Mexico is brought up, people reflexively conjure up thoughts of the Alamo, myself included. This is as it should be, for one of the most famous battles in the history of warfare. When an event of the magnitude of the Battle of the Alamo happens, it becomes a hallmark of a larger series of events that define history, in this case the Texas Revolution. My question is : what major event preceded the Battle of the Alamo that made it of such import? Answer : The Goliad Massacre . The skinny : Colonel James Fannin and his force of 350 men had engaged the 900 man army of Mexican General Urrea near Goliad . Fannin lost about 20% of his men in the battle and concluded that surrender  - his men had no water or supplies - was his best option.  He signed a surrender deal with General Urrea and Fannin's men were marched back to Goliad and held captive, and under Urrea's orders were to be treated humanely. That was the case until Mexican General Santa Ana heard about it and overrode Urrea's order and declared that all prisoners would be executed immediately. On Palm Sunday, March 27, 1836, Fannin and his men were divided into groups and marched out of Goliad in different directions and brutally slaughtered.  As the news of this mass murder spread like a Texas wildfire, the citizenry of Texas were enraged that such a horrific thing could happen, especially after Fannin and his men were promised that they would be treated humanely upon surrender. Texians, as the people of Texas were called at the time, were both appalled and inspired at the same time by this turn of events. And the rest, as it said, is history. Santa Ana was victorious at the Alamo, then promptly got his bloodthirsty ass handed to him at San Jacinto.  While Goliad will always take a back seat to the Alamo in terms of history, come next March 27, hold a moment of remembrance for 350 Texians, our forbears, who, like the brave men at the Alamo, gave their lives so that today, Texans can live in free of tyranny. We owe them that much. Remember the Alamo! But also, Remember Goliad!

Photo from scrapperguide.com

Monday, August 30, 2010

Colorado Chronicles : Caught

Damn, that's a purty picture. I envision the hungry trout in that pond voraciously gorging on as many insects in the wrong place at the wrong time, that is from the insects' point of view, as they possibly can - instinctively knowing that winter is coming soon to the top of the Rockies. Fall, to me, is the best time of year to trek off into the upper reaches of the mountains and be mesmorized by spell that Mother Nature has cast upon the High Country. The weather, barring any sudden storms barreling over the Continental Divide, is perfect for taking a nice long hike to the tree line (usually about 10,000 feet), locating a creek that began as a small, steady drip from the permafrost above, hugging that creek bank as it meanders down the mountainside,  fishin' my ass off for several hours and several thousand vertical feet. I tend to go to the remote fishin' spots where the likelihood of seeing another human is, well, remote. Then God and I have a visit about stuff and the sounds of the alpine wilderness speak to my soul, as if He has commanded them to do so especially for me, a goofy fisherman. As Crocodile Dundee said, "Yep. Me and God, we be mates". When I am fishin', I am the hunter, tempting the fish to accept the bounty of my offering, while in my thoughts the words "teach a man to fish..." reverberate, like an echo in the canyon that lays before me. Then it hits me. I ain't so smart after all, for I am the one who has accepted the bounty of an offering. The offering that is the place where I am. Hooked like a hungry trout who at the moment of capture realizes that he's been caught. I, too, have been "caught". Lured by something so tempting that refusal is not an option. I have been "caught" by the Greatest Fisherman of All. God. The Fisher of Man. Yep. Me and God, we be mates -and Fishin' Buddies.

Maine Minutiae : Fall Approacheth, But the Heat is Hereth

Coming to a New England State Near You*
The family and I ran some errands this past weekend and I observed two things : 1) Some trees are already going from the greens of summer to the red to yellow to dead of the oncoming winter and 2) I can't take my little girls out in public without the urge to drop them off and leave them with the WalMart greeter. But! The WalMart greeters have done nothing wrong to me and they are, generally speaking, old enough to remember when McDonalds signs said "Over 3 Served". I would never inflict that kind of misery upon an old person, as I am nearing old personhood myself. I shall suffer in silence. :) Today is Augusta 30 and we are about to experience probably the longest stretch of "summer" that we've had this year in Augusta, Maine. Temps are going to "soar" to (Note to Texans: No laughing at what you are about to read) the low 90's! The average high temperature for this date is 76 degrees, the normal low, 55. As you can guess, many Mainers are torn between packing up their summer wardrobes and cursing this late summer heat wave. The Mainers I have come across lately are leaning towards the use of, as Mr. Spock says, "colorful metaphors". All I know is that some of the language I've heard lately regarding the hot weather would make Gordon Ramsey blush. And that's just from the women! At any rate, fall is on the way to New England, soon to be followed by you-know-what. I dare not say the word. I guess it's time to do some serious "quality control" on the local lakes, rivers, creeks and ponds. Fish.%$#@(&^.Fear.Me. Sorry, I picked up that "colorful metaphor" from the little old lady across the way. She is not, however, a WalMart greeter. And I really don't like her anyway. Hey, lady, want some kids?

*Photo from DownEast.com

Texas Tidbits : Are You Ready? NFL Edition

Here It Comes !*
Are you ready for some footbaaaaaaaaallllllllllllllllll?  (in my best Howard Cosell voice) "There's only eleven days until the kickoff of the two... thousand ten... season of  the...National....Football....League!" Yup, it's that time of year when we fondly remember our summer vacations, curse the Dog Days of August, lament the annual rite that is the Texas Rangers as cellar-dwelling has beens in the American League West....Wait!...The Rangers are in first place with a comfortable lead over Oakland? Pardon me a minute while I   have "The Big One" a la Fred G. Sanford. (time passes) The kind folks at the Maine General ER, Red Sox fans all (eat the Rangers' dust Sawx fans everywhere!), said that I had a case of "What-the-hell-are-the-Rangers-doing in-1st-place-going into-September-itis" and "It's-football-season-atosis", a very rare disorder - rare simply because the Rangers are in first place heading into September. They told me to take one season opener and call them next week. Speaking of season openers...(they don't call me the Swami of Segue for nothing) The season kicks off on Thursday, September 9, with the Super Bowl Champion New Orleans Saints (I already had a Big One for that) hosting (insert more Howard Cosell voice here) "Numba Fo-wa, "The Brilliant One" from Kiln, Mississippi, Brett Fahve and the Vikings of Minnesota at the Supah Dome in the Hurricane Katrina-ravaged Big Easy, New...Or...leans...Louisiana!" The Saints are currently at 10-1 odds to win the Super Bowl again, according to the Las Vegas Hilton. Minnesota, along with Dallas and my team, Green Bay, are listed at 12-1, while Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts sit at 6-1. We'll see how all that prognostication holds up throughout the season, say late November or so. The Dallas Cowboys open on the road in D.C. against their hated rivals, the Redskins, on the 12th and that game will be in prime time on NBC. Here's the entire regular season schedule from NFL.com . The crisp autumn air is slowly but surely making it's way southward and not soon enough for me because I am ready for some footbaaaaaaaaaaaaalllllllllllllllllllllllll !

Photo from fanpop.com

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Teach a Man to Fish...

Outdoor Church
If Heaven ain't a lot like Caddo Lake, I don't wanna go (paraphrasing Hank Williams, Jr). Although I am half-a-world away from Caddo, here in Maine there's some good fishin', too, just a different type of fishin'. Back home in Texas, I'd be slayin' bass, crappie and catfish. Up  here, it's mostly trout, but there's some pretty good panfishin' and some excellent smallmouth bass opportunities, as well. I didn't get to go fishin' yesterday. I am, however, holding out hope for chance to decimate a local river,creek and/or lake today. Fish.Fear.Me. Point is, I am gonna take the day off . I'll be back Monday. I hope Sunday treats you all well. Stay safe.
Your Sunday "Plus One" Bonus :
Be sure to go through our archives to discover something new about America in every post. Use the "search box" in he upper right hand corner of each page. That's just the way we roll.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Best of Three States Plus One Weekend!

Here Fishy Fishy!
I am gonna take the weekend off. We have some great end of summer (for Maine) weather in store, so I am thinking about doing some fishing, that is if Arthur Effin Itis will allow me to. I hate that guy. He's literally a pain. :) I will not, however, leave you without your minimum daily requirement of my brilliant, insightful, award-worthy observations and musings incoherent ramblings. I have selected some of the most-read (I would say most popular, but that would be stretching it) posts from our archives. It's been a while since each one was posted, so if you're like me, old,decrepit and memory-challenged, it'll be like reading it for the very first time! The archives are loaded with other Shakespeare-esque second grade writing level articles that are easily found by using the "search box" in the top right-hand corner of each page. Make it a great weekend, amigos and remember : you can pick your friends and you can pick your nose, but you can't pick your friends nose. Unless he's a real close friend

Your Weekend Reading List :

 As always, if you have a suggestion for a post or idea to make this blog better, please let me know in the comment section of each post or email me at threestatesplusone AT gmail DOT com. Vaya con Dios y adios, amigos!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Maine Minutiae : It's Against the Law to....What?

In a Representative Republic such as the United States (we are not a democracy!), it is necessary, by definition, to have laws that dictate certain moral and societal norms to its citizens. For instance, you can't commit a brazen act of homicide without legal justification, i.e., self-defense. I'm a small
government kind of guy so, in my opinion, murder laws and precious few others are all the laws we need. I  am not here today to argue conservative vs. liberal, because I think that the dumbass laws listed below, we can all agree are real dumbass laws. And these are just the ones on the books in Maine! I am not sure if it's sad or just plain stupid to have these statutes on in our penal code. You decide.

Did you know that :
  •  Right here in Augusta, as I sit at my desk writing this brilliant tome, it's against the law for me to walk through Downtown Augusta playing a fiddle? My dreams of being the next Charlie Daniels are shot to hell. Thanks, you dipsticks.
  • In Biddeford, it's illegal to skateboard on the sidewalk and gamble at the airport. I'm sure that Vegas was nearly catatonic because the airport in Biddeford, Maine(!) was set to become the next gaming mecca in the US.
  • Making plans to visit Freeport? See that you rent a first story hotel room because it's against a much-needed City Ordinance to spit out of a second story window. What about a third story window, nimrods?
  • South Berwick must have something against local law enforcement. Why? It's against South Berwick law to park in front of Dunkin Donuts! My suggestion to SB cops is this: next time one of your town's governing geniuses needs you to chase away a burglar or assist them with some other civil complaint, tell those idiots you ain't gonna do it until they pony up the damn Dunkin Donuts! Just hide and watch how quick this cop-hating law gets disappeared.
  • Here's a real doozy. Maine State Law compels you to take a shotgun to Church in case of an Indian attack. I got a question about this one, too. What if you attend an Indian Church? Is the shotgun obligatory or do you have to have a tomahawk in case of a white guy attack? Dumbasses.
  • Portland, the biggest, and arguably most "enlightened" city in this state, prohibits anyone from tickling a girl under the chin with a feather duster. I guess a small paintbrush under a girl's chin is out of the question. Weenies.
  • Just up I-95 from me, in Waterville, it's a big no-no to pick your nose  in public. Next thing ya know, you won't be able to scratch your ass in public there either. Frakkin killjoys! 
This tyranny must stop now! And I mean now! Yesterday! It's up to you, Mr. and Mrs. America! These power-hungry commies will stop at nothing to gain control over your life! Kick the bastards out of office! Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to pick my nose.......and scratch my ass......but not in Waterville.

Texas Tidbits : Willie Asked Me to Do a Duet! Really.

The Red Headed Stranger
James Ott said to me in the comments of my post on Buddy Holly yesterday, " Just think what this country would be like without Texas. A ship without a rudder or engine!!!" James hit the proverbial nail on the head with that statement. We'd also be without one of the greatest recording artists, and I do mean artist, singer-songwriters, humanitarian and all around cool dude - Willie Hugh Nelson.  As I have mentioned in previous posts, I had the good fortune of spending some time with Willie after one of his shows in Wichita Falls about 30 years ago. It was a dark and stormy night...I mean, it was raining like hell that night as Willie and I led his band members to his bus for the interview. I was the first one on the bus, followed by Willie, who was followed by his lead guitar player, Jody Payne. As I stepped onto the the bus, Willie not so subtly asked, "Hey, Toby. You got a joint?" I wasn't exactly stunned. I replied, "No, Willie, I wish I did". No sooner had I answered Willie's question when Jody stepped on board and stated, "Don't worry, I got one". Hilarity and an interview ensued. When I asked Willie why he did so many duets, he told me that he just loved to sing, then he promptly invited me to record a duet with him! Funny thing is, I think he was dead serious. Or stoned. Or both. At the conclusion of our little pow wow, while saying our adios's, Willie gifted to me the leftovers of a partially smoked "tamale". This laid back guy is as real in person as he is on TV or in a movie. This is Willie Nelson for cryin' out loud. Willie wasn't always a superstar. He struggled for twenty years as a singer/songwriter in order to become an "overnight sensation". Willie has written some of the best-known country music classics ever : Hello Walls (Faron Young), Crazy (Patsy Cline), Funny How Time Slips Away (Billy Walker), Pretty Paper (Roy Orbison), Always On My Mind (Elvis & many others) Night Life (Ray Price), etc.,etc.,etc. The Red Headed Stranger is one of the most critically acclaimed albums in the history of music, period. Willie has sung with many country music legends including, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Hank Williams, Jr., Ray Price and his brother from another mother, Waylon. Besides being a prolific singer/songwriter, Willie has been in several feature films - The Electric Horseman, Barbarosa, Honeysuckle Rose and The Dukes of Hazzard. How many people do you know that would bail you out of a $16million debt to the I.R.S.? Of their own free will, without being asked? That's what friends of Willie did for him back in the 80's. I have a feeling that these folks knew that Willie would have done exactly the same thing for each and every one of them, if the need arose. There's enough material on Willie that I could write a book about it, so I'm sure I left plenty out of this short post. If you've got a Willie story, please share it in the comments. Now, Willie, about that duet.....

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Another Blogging Milestone!

A Nice Round Number

A short time ago, Three States Plus One reached a goal that I thought would take a while longer to achieve. We have now recorded over 2500 Page Impressions on this blog! That is pretty amazing considering that what we do here is a "niche" kind of thing and it took just shy of two and a half months to do it. Your support in this, my first blogging endeavor, has been a real blessing to me. I shouldn't be surprised, though, because I know most of you who read my ramblings, and I knew some kind of support would be there from the beginning of this project. But the level of your dedication has truly overwhelmed me. I can not thank you enough for being a loyal reader and, in many cases, a great friend. I am, as always, humbled by your response to Three States Plus One. God bless you all.


Maine Minutiae : Famous Spider Writer

Famous Spider Writer
Hello. My name is Toby and I'm an info-holic. I love to read and to gather information on just about anything. As they say, luck favors a prepared mind. I don't read books very often at all, but I love to read articles from magazines and web sites. Having said that, I do remember my favorite book from when I was a kid. Hands down, without a shadow of a doubt and otherwise without reservation, it is Charlotte's Web by Eldwyn Brooks White. His homies just called him E. B. If memory serves me correctly, in the copy of  Charlotte's Web that I read in first grade, Charlotte died on page 163. Almost fifty years later, I still remember that. I'd read the book again if I had a copy of it. In 1939, E.B. White bought a farm in North Brooklin, Maine and preferred to spend as much time there as he could. White was a shy and modest man and once said in an interview that he "lives in a small coastal community on the East Coast somewhere between New Brunswick, Canada and Cuba." He relished his privacy that much. White had quite a varied resume. At one time or another he wrote for : The Cornell Daily Sun while attending Cornell University, Seattle Times, Seattle Post-Intelligencer and The New Yorker. Still, his best-known and most enduring work was that of a spider named Charlotte and a pig named Wilbur, written in 1952. As I write this post, in my mind's eye, I can envision that wise spider, Charlotte, weaving the message "some pig" into her silky web for all the world to see. Especially Wilbur. And millions of kids...like me. Odd, that. Almost a half century later, I still remember that. That and page 163. You know? I think I'll order Charlotte's Web for myself  for my two daughters and maybe fifty years from now, they, too, will remember "some pig" and page 163.

Texas Tidbits : A Guy Named Buddy

Lubbock has produced some pretty famous people over the years. Waylon Jennings comes to mind. Even though he was from nearby Littlefield, he made his name in Lubbock. There is only one name that jumps out at me when I think of famous folks from this West Texas city. You may have heard of this fellow - Charles Hardin Holley. Yes, Holley with an "e". Little did Ma and Pa Holley know that on that September 7 in 1936, the son whose birth they celebrated, would soon change American pop culture. Of course, young Charles went on to be one of the most famous and influential musicians of the 20th Century as Buddy Holly. A critic named Bruce Elder described Holly as "the single most influential creative force in early rock and roll". Holly's tenure as a superstar last less than two years, yet here we are almost sixty years later still recalling him and his music. I mean who over the age of 40 does not know at least some of the words to Peggy Sue? "Peggy...Peggy sue-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo-oo". I wonder how many of you right now have this strong urge to go to YouTube and find that song. Stay put, I am at your service. Buddy Holly was a pioneer not only in his style of music, but also the production techniques he used, like overdubbing, to bring the song to life were equally ahead of their time. His insight and imagination were something one is born with, not something one learns. On February 3, 1959, Holly was at the pinnacle of his creative genius and singing career. After playing a show in Clear Lake, Iowa, Buddy boarded a plane bound for his next concert, along with Ritchie Valens and fellow Texan J.P. Richardson (The Big Bopper). They never made it. Waylon Jennings, then a member of Holly's band, the Crickets,  gave up his seat on that ill-fated flight to Richardson, who had the flu and didn't want to ride on the not-so-heated tour bus. That decision eventually reverberated through the country music scene, when Jennings went on to his own brand of super stardom. Febraury 3, 1959 was memorialized in the Don McLean classic, American Pie, as 'The Day the Music Died". Today, Buddy Holly would have been a couple of weeks away from his 74th birthday. Can you imagine the impact and innovation he would have brought to Rock and Roll over the last fifty years? Sadly, we'll never know. I do know this, however. The music did not die in that snow-covered Iowa cornfield when that plane went down on that frigid February night. It lives still. OK, you may go to YouTube and look up some Buddy Holly music now.

Dedicated to Reggie Robinson, R.I.P.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Colorado Chronicles : Honey, Can We Move Here?

I think I have died and gone to Heaven. Nope, I just pinched my self and I am definitely awake. I was questioning the state of my mental alertness because I discovered a place that is mighty close to being Heaven its own self and I ain't gonna rat the place out. Wait. That's what I do on this blog. Please disregard my previous statement. Meeker, Colorado. That's the place I was ready to keep all to myself. Can you blame me? Meeker is located in the fertile White River Valley in northwest Colorado, a little over 200 miles from Denver. Meeker's location is ideal for agriculture and that's exactly what the main industry of the area is - agriculture. I love to grow veggies, flowers and whatnot, so that's one point for Meeker. The town is situated near/on the White River. I read a piece on another site about the river in that area and people catch twenty inch trout there. Fish.Fear.Me.Especially.Twenty.Inch.Trout. That's two points for Meeker. It's also at the western end of the Flat Tops Trail Scenic Byway. Score another one for Meeker. That's three. Point number four for Meeker is its proximity to the 235,000 acre Flat Tops Wilderness Area. I could go on, but the four points above about the Town of Meeker have convinced me that you don't have to be in Paradise to experience a little Heaven.

Maine Minutiae : One Remarkable Woman

I found something extra good to post about today on Maine Minutiae. Our subject is the incredible Sarah S. Sampson. Before about 10 minutes ago and a couple of Google searches, I had never heard of this woman. There's an old saying that goes : I'd rather be lucky than good. In finding Mrs. Sampson, I was very lucky and I am thrilled that I was, good be damned. My space in this post is nowhere near enough to pay homage to a woman of this calibre, so please take the time to click all the links in the article. They tell a compelling story. Sarah Smith was born in 1832 in Bath, Maine and from that day forward, she was destined for greatness and a special place in the history of Maine and her country. On Valentine's Day, 1855, Sarah married Charles Sampson of Bath. This event would change the lives of many men, women and children throughout the US. Mainememory.net notes : "When the Civil War began, Sampson joined the 3rd Maine Regiment as a captain of Company D.
Sarah Smith Sampson decided to join her husband and the 3rd Maine Regiment -- and devote her attentions to caring for sick and wounded soldiers." With no formal training, Sarah Sampson volunteered to be on the front lines of the bloodiest conflict ever on American soil. In 1862, now-Lt. Col. Charles Sampson became ill and returned to Maine with Sarah. But Sarah was not to stay in Maine for long, as in 1864, she returned to the battlefields of the Civil War to care for the sick and wounded again. Murdoconline.net continues : "After the war, Sarah returned home and worked at what would later be known as the Bath Children’s Home, caring for orphans of soldiers and sailors." Did I mention that this was an extraordinary woman? Death came to Sarah Smith Sampson on December 22, 1907 and for her lifetime of unselfish and courageous service to the United States, Sarah was laid to rest in the most fitting of places for a true servant and patriot of her country, Arlington National Cemetary. See? I told you she was a remarkable woman.

Comments Are Goofy

There seems to be something wrong with the comments at this time. The problem lies with my blog host (blogger). Unfortunately, there's nothing I can do to rectify the situation from my end. My apologies for the outage.


Texas Business of the Week! KL Milam Interior Design

I do some things well. I do some things not so well. Fishin' I do well. Interior design, not so much. My wife doesn't fish, but she knows how to make a house a home. Even though she's very good at making a house look good, sometimes it's nice to have a neutral party, an interior designer, to add a different perspective into the mix. That's where my friend Kim Milam comes in. She's the head honcho (honchette?) of  KL Milam Interior Design . Kim holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Interior Design from a first rate college, and one of my favorites, Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, Texas. She has also been an instructor at TCU, and let me tell you, TCU does not hire just anyone off the street to be an instructor on their campus. Kim has over a decade of experience in her chosen field, and her portfolio demonstrates exactly how good she is at what she does. I have known Kim for over 30 years and I can tell you that she is a quality person. And when you click on the link to her portfolio, you'll see that she is also an amazing interior designer.

Texas Tidbits : The Grand Prairie of Texas

Every time I post some thing here on Three States Plus One I learn or am reminded of something new or something I had long forgotten about where I grew up. This morning as I was clicking through some stuff to elucidate on, I was reminded of several things forgotten and learned a few things I did not know. I like, many of my readers and most of my Facebook amigos, grew up in south Irving, so Grand Prairie was just a few minutes south on Belt Line Road. An aside : does anyone remember drag racing on Animal Safari Road? Or fishing the gravel pits on that "country" road on the extreme south side of Irving that had two names? (time passes) Hunter-Farrell! That's it! I would have had sleepless nights if I didn't recall that name. But, I digress. I remember a water park at belt Line and I-30 and a real cool go cart track in that area. (I held the record for fastest lap there for ages!. Just call me The Eliminator. :)) Today, as I understand it, there's Lone Star Park, a skate board, a Minor League ball Park (!) and lots of other "touristy" stuff nearby. Sigh. Such is progress. Grand Prairie has come a long way since Alexander Dechman (I am not making this up) "In 1863, Dechman bought 239 ½ acres of land on the eastern side of the Trinity River and 100 acres (.40 km2) of timber land on the west side of the river for a broken down wagon, oxen team and US$200 in Confederate money" (from Wikipedia). My wife has a broken down husband , two "very active" children and $200 US and I am certain she'd make the same deal today. The grand prairie between Dallas and Fort Worth is now a big small town of 154,000 people. My how times have changed and I have learned that all my fellow SIWT and Facebook amigos are gettin' old. Oh! I have a message for all GP High grads of '71-'75 : never forget 21-20 !

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Maine Minutiae : 248 Acres of Awesome

Tiptoe Through the Tulips*
With the onset of fall, I am looking back with great fondness on this year's garden. I may be a bit early in doing so, but I am also looking forward to and am already tossing around ideas for 2011. I live in an apartment with my wife and kids, so I am limited as to exactly what I can do gardenwise, but I plow (pun intended) ahead by doing as much as I can without pissing off the Property Manager. And those you that know me know that I teeter right on the edge of "acceptable" and "don't you dare". Such is life. While time is short until first frost here in Maine, we still have time to enjoy the bounty before us and I know just the place to enjoy said bounty - the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens in Boothbay. From mainegardens.org/  we learn of the humble beginnings of CMBG, "This magnificent and ambitious project began with a kernel of an idea generated by Rollins Hale of Boothbay Harbor. He and other mid-coast Maine residents who shared the belief that northern New England in general, and Maine in particular, were in need of a botanical garden founded the grassroots organization in 1991." Sixteen years later, on June 13, 2007, the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens became a dream come true. The Gardens now encompasses 248 acres, a 9500 square foot Visitors Center, a seasonal cafe and a gift shop, as well as a bevy of  blooming botanical beauties bound to bewilder you. The CMBG also serve as an educational experience, with information about natural history, botany, horticulture and the ecology of the area. Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens can be reached here. CMBG is privately funded (as far as I can tell) and that alone is reason enough to label it as 248 acres of awesome.

*Photo from Downeast.com

Colorado Chronicles : Mile High Oasis

What would you an oasis located smack dab in the middle of over 2 million people at an elevation of 5280 feet? I call it the Denver Botanic Gardens. A fledgling idea between local gardeners, botanists and civic leaders in 1951, one location change and fifty-six years later, the DBG are one of the premier botanic gardens in the United States. The site was originally in another part of town, but it was not a very secure location and vandals were constantly stealing and trampling the goodies and by 1959, planting at the current location had begun. A few years later in 1966, the Boettcher Memorial Tropical Conservatory at The Gardens, housing tropical and sub-tropical plants was dedicated, and with that the Denver Botanic Gardens became a year round attraction. DBG also has two other sites in its family, one of them in nearby Chatfield, the other at Mount Goliath, where at over 10,000 feet in elevation, there are only forty frost-free days a year! At DBG you'll find a gift shop, the Helen Fowler Library, a calendar of events and exhibits and more. Heck, you can even rent the facility for special occasions! In short, Denver Botanic Gardens is much more than just a neat place to go see the natural beauty that makes Colorado what it is. DBG is truly a Mile High Oasis.

Texas Tidbits : A Rose By Any Other Name Would Smell as Sweet

If I were a ramblin' gamblin' man, and I've been known to do a little of both, I'd lay down good money that the most popular flower in the United States is the rose. As the title of this post suggest, the rose could have been named the "sweaty gym socks flower" and it would still smell like something that The Almighty adorns Paradise with. Ahhhhhh...the rose, a symbol of love and devotion, a symbol of rememberance and just a great addition to any flower garden. Which brings us to the Rose Capital of the World, Tyler, TexasA brief history : Tyler is situated in an ideal location for growing all kinds of smellin'-good, tasty and/or ornamental plants as the climate is pretty moderate with rainfall occurring throughout the year. For these reasons, succulent peaches were once to Tyler and Smith County what the elegant rose is today, but in the early 20th Century the blight decimated the peach crop in the area. Enter La Rosa. At this time, roses were already popular in East Texas, so it was a natural fit for it to fill a major void in agricultural production and revenue for Tyler.  A little north of South Loop 323 at the Glenwood (I think) intersection, lies one of the most magnificent floral displays on Earth - The Tyler Minicipal Rose Garden . The Rose Garden is fourteen acres of horticultural heaven featuring about five hundred varieties of the rose, with some of the antique rose varieties dating back to 1867! Since opening in 1952, the Rose Garden has been ooooo'ed and ahhhhh'ed over by millions of people from around the world. A predecessor to the Rose Garden is the Texas Rose Festival, held in mid- October, is now entering its ninth decade as a showcase for the flower that has made Tyler, Texas The Rose Capital of the World. A rose by any other name......                             

Monday, August 23, 2010

Colorado Chronicles - Nature's "Gold Rush"

Gold Rush*
Many posts on this blog mention the fact that at one time or another over the past 150 years or so, Colorado has had a sporadic gold rush in this place or that. I have not, however, made mention of the "gold rush" that comes like clockwork every year, year after year. It's as dependable as, well, an old clock. The gold rush of which I speak has nary a thing to do with mines or miners. It has to do with trees, namely aspen trees. In my experience while living in Colorado on and off for over 20 years, mid-September seems to be about the time that the aspens start their annual change of color from green to, eventually, gold. In my eyes, the golden leaves of the autumn aspen tree are worth more to me than any amount of gold ore dug out of the mountains underneath them. It's one of the most beautiful displays of Nature's artwork you'll ever see. If you're planning a vacation to Colorado soon or maybe even in the future, mid-September is a great time to do so. The seasons are changing along with aspens, so the weather is neither too hot nor too cold to enjoy a leisurely drive or hike through the Rockies to witness this spectacle. To help with planning your trip to Colorado, I found this place, this place  and this place, all of which contain useful information for doing so. Nature's Gold Rush, over 1 billion aspen trees strong....... and growing.

*Photo from photography-on-the-net.com

New Blog Added to Stuff I Read!

I just added a new blog to the sidebar under "Stuff I Read"! It's called Texas Tweeties and the guy who runs the place is Bob Zeller. He found my back up site for Three States Plus One over on Wordpress and left a comment on a post I wrote about San Angelo. Stop by and pay Bob a visit and leave a comment when you get a chance. He'll be happy to hear form you, I'm sure. He's got some cool stuff about The Concho City on his blog, including some info on birding, which I really enjoy doing myself. Thanks for visiting us here on TSPO, Bob, and good birding to you!

Maine Minutiae : The Kaleidoscope of Autumn

Coming to a Forest Near You
See that photo to the left? That's the way the entire state of Maine will look in a few weeks - an explosion of autumn's reds, rusts, oranges and yellows will colorize the countryside from Presque Isle to Portland , and from Eastport to Jackman. Sometimes the red leaves on a group of trees look as though the forest is ablaze. And it is - ablaze with the annual rite of fall, the farewell to summer and the prelude to a long, hard, cold, colorless winter, except for the cream color of snow. Rather than view this change with a "dang, summer's over too soon" attitude, I see it as a step closer to spring when the renewal of all things barren and sparse, slowly but surely blooming into a cascade of colors signifying a new beginning to the life around us. Fall also signals pennant races in baseball to see who will square off in the World Series and, not a moment too soon, football! I choose not to lament the all-to-quick passage of spring and summer, but to look forward to the interim kaleidoscope that is autumn and the boring white of winter's snow. Someone who apparently agrees with me, at least as regards to fall, is the writer of this article on the ten best road trips to enjoy the ever-changing foliage of autumn in this beautiful place called Maine.

Texas Tidbits : What I Like About Texas (Thanks to Gary P. Nunn)

Many years ago in a former life, I was a radio kind of guy. Simply put, I got paid to be stupid and play music. You know...I got paid to tell crummy jokes, sound happy (which I was) and spin records. Easy money. Not a lot of money, but easy money. And chicks. Lots of chicks, a perk of the job. Anyway, I was very fortunate to have met and interviewed some of country music's all-time greats - Hank Williams, Jr., Willie Nelson, Ernest Tubb, Reba McEntire, Garth Brooks, Merle Haggard and so on. One of the interviews I did was live on my show with a gentleman named Gary P. Nunn of Iowa Park, Texas. Gary P. is not a household name to many country music fans, but his is the main voice in one of the greatest and most recognizable songs ever, with Jerry Jeff Walker,  London Homesick Blues (I wanna go home with the armadilla....). Gary P. has written and recorded with his band, The Bunkhouse Band, some real good songs and I highly recommend that you look him up and give him a listen. Very Texas. One of Gary's songs that I really like is called "What I Like About Texas" . In about four minutes, Gary P. sums up what so many have tried to say but have come up short in doing. With the deft touch of Rembrandt with a guitar, Nunn creates a mental masterpiece of images so vivid in your mind's eye, you are there when he sings of the Alamo or Nacogdoches. "You ask me "What I Like About Texas" ? I could tell ya, but we'd be here all night long", so sayeth Gary P. Nunn.

(Hat tip : Tommy Hailey on Facebook)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

What's Next? Watch Out Pulitzer!

Lucky Dumbass Dad
You are looking at a star in the making. The next Hemingway. Shakespeare and MAD magazine rolled in to one. A future Pulitzer Prize winner. OK, you're looking at a dumbass. But! A dumbass that just got accepted to write for one of the biggest web sites in the world! Now that you've regained consciousness and had a chance to digest that info and say "What? That moron?" Yes, this moron. Late last night I was looking for ways to maximize this blog's internet exposure and went to a web site called Technorati. I filled out a form and presto! They sampled my writing and sent me some stuff, I did what was needed and I start writing for them today or Monday. Technorati is a big deal, folks, but don't hold it against them that they'd hire a knucklehead like me. Technorati is big because they hire knuckleheads like me. Two words : Cheap labor. Besides I can't afford to pay them any more than we agreed to if they'd put me to work. I'll keep you informed as to what's going on as soon as I know what's going on. Well.....I am off to a baby shower for Heather's cousin and then to get some 8 by 10 glossies made. I'm sure I'll signing them by the millions ones for my adoring throngs Mom. Adios y'all!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Texas Tidbits : Forged of a Hotter Fire

Texas. It's like a whole other country, as the saying goes. Or, as John Wayne said, "Texas is the damnedest lady I ever saw." Both of those observations are bullseye accurate. Willie Nelson once told me during an interview, "I could be dead ass asleep on the bus and when we cross that Texas line, I can feel it." That Willie sure has a way with words, doesn't he? Being a Texan in a land far away, like I am, in Maine, gives me, perhaps a different perspective than many still-in-Texas Texans. Don't get me wrong, I love Maine. It's a great place to live and raise a family. The scenery here is very much like East Texas, pine trees everywhere, lots of lakes, ponds, creeks and rivers and good, down-to-Earth, proud people that talk funny. I miss Texas. A lot. It's home. It's like my Mother, a part of me that is eternal and undeniable. A piece of my soul, a blessing from God. Something that nobody can ever take away from me. Texas is me. And you. And your kids and neighbors and fellow parishiners at church. Texas is Us. Even the Yankees that call Texas  'home", they are Texas and Texans, and  like James Bowie, Davy Crockett, Sam Houston, and Stephen F. Austin, once foreigners, now us, Texans. You know, American by birth, Texan by the Grace of God. The following link is to a piece written by legendary Texan and football coach, Bum Phillips. Bum, like Willie, has a way with words. Take a few minutes to read it, alone if you can, think about it, then pass it on to your kids or grandkids, your friends (especially if they live in another part of the country), whomever. As Texans, when we talk about Texas, we don't brag, we do so with a deep-rooted pride and reverence. Because we are forged of a hotter fire.

Friday, August 20, 2010

From The Fryin' Pan Into The Fire

A couple of days ago I wrote about impending doom a much overdue visit from my Mother-in-Law. As it turns out, there is a God!!!!, she had to postpone her trip by the Grace of The Almighty  due to car trouble. This turn of events caused  me to do cartwheels my wife great sadness and despair. I thought I was safe from all that is evil and wrong with the world. I.Was.Wrong. My weekend of sloth and gluttony has turned into The Weekend From Hell. I know you married guys are wondering, "How could a nice weekend of sloth and gluttony turn into a weekend from hell, when your Mother-in-Law is 200 miles away having car trouble and can't come to torture and degrade you visit?" Let me 'splain. Although I'm happier than a stoned fat kid at a McDonald's all you can eat buffet saddened my M-I-L can't make it, a fate worse than paying alimony to an ex-wife that married a plastic surgeon has befallen me. I.Have.To.Go.Back.To.School.Shopping.! But wait! There's more! I am (or should be) committed... to attend a baby shower! Don't get me wrong, as a father of four (ages 3-31, God help me), I love kids, I really do (especially with a little salt and mustard....rimshot). But, less than a month before my 54th birthday, I thought my days of going to baby showers were over! At least until my own daughters had babies. But my wife threatened me with unspeakable acts of violence asked me nicely to go, so I said OK. Upon further review, I never thought I'd miss my Mother-in-Law, but I do. Go figure. Anyway...posting will be sporadic, at best, today for the previously mentioned reasons. Rummage through the archives because there's lots mof stuff in there and I'm sure you'll find something that'll make you say to yourself, "That's 10 minutes of my life I'll never get back". But it's Friday, what a better way to kill time at work than to read some worthless drivel potential Pulitzer Prize-winning social commentary? Here are a few of my popular posts from the recent past:

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Colorado Chronicles : Miners Solve Church Bell "Problem"

Breck at Night*
Breckenridge is one of the coolest towns in Colorado. Breck, as it is called, came into existence in 1859 with the discovery of gold in the Blue River and the rush was on. Soon to be home to thousands of miners and their strike-it-rich dreams, the timing seemed right to open a saloon in town. That saloon, The Gold Pan Saloon, is still in operation today as the oldest continuously operated bar west of the Mississippi. Along with the saloon, came gambling and prostitution and a rough and ready clientele of miners. How rough and ready you ask? A local preacher started ringing the church bell on Sunday mornings to summon the flock to service and being miners and hungover, many men weren't exactly pleased with this call to worship. Somebody in this industrious group solved the Sunday morning church bell ringing in a rather efficient way - with blasting caps. BOOM! No more church bell. Naturally the mines around Breck were eventually closed, but not before yielding a 151 oz. gold nugget to a gentleman named Tom Graves. 21st Century Breckenridge is a very popular destination for tourists and snow skiers from all over the world. Still, Breck retains 350 historic buildings of an era gone by, making it the largest Historic District in Colorado.

*Photo courtesy of limoservicedenver.com

Maine Minutiae : Going Coastal

Like so many coastal towns in Maine, Searsport has roots that grow deep in the maritime industry. Searsport is the state's second largest deep-water port and at one time was home to fully ten percent of all American deep-water shipmasters. During the 19th Century, Searsport boasted of seventeen shipyards and over 200 ships were built in the town. Searsport's location was also perfect for rail access and wood products to ship via rail or sea to places all over the world. The area around the town was settled in 1620, but not incorporated until 1845. After a fire in 1747 destroyed the Province House in Boston, Samuel Waldo (for whom Waldo County is named) was an advocate to name Searsport as the new capital of Massachusetts (remember, at this time Maine was still part of Mass.). Needless to say his efforts were not successful and the capital of the Bay State remained there. Searsport is is surrounded by or near to all sorts of recreational activities, namely water sports and fishing, some fantastic hiking and biking trails and several parks and State Parks, as well as Sears Island, the largest uninhabited island on the East Coast. Searsport - another jewel in the treasure that is the Coast of Maine.

*Photo from Readers Digest

Texas Tidbits : What's In a Name?

Are You  Sure?*
One thing is certain about Texas. It's BIG. But when it comes to location, where on Earth am I? I don't know. I'm Uncertain, but I know I'm Happy it's a small town where nobody tried to Cut and Shoot  me. Another sure thing about Texas is that is dotted with small towns with some interesting names, as evidenced by the four towns previously mentioned. I thought that today we'd take a look at some real places with real odd handles. Like Muleshoe. Or Telephone. There are dozens of other locations in the Lone Star State with unique, if not downright funny names. American Profile has an article with several good ones. Texas Escapes tells us of Looneyville (it's near Crazy Creek! I am not making this up!) , Diddy Waw Diddy and Old Granny's Neck. I have personally been to the Home of Bob Wills, Turkey, Texas., not to mention Spurger, Fred and Dime Box. The only important thing to me, no matter if it's Bug Tussle or Bettie, when I'm in Texas, I'm always in Paradise.

*Photo from texfiles.com

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Maine Minutiae : Open Lighthouse Day!

Maine, as has been written about in this very space, is known for, at one time, having at least seventy lighthouses up and down the coast, in rivers and one in a lake! The lighthouse has been a part of Maine's character since at least 1794, when an array of these beacons in the night was begun to help sailors navigate the rocky and rugged Maine coastline. Built in 1910, the lighthouse at Whitlock's Mill  in Calais is the youngest of the bunch. Maine ranks third, behind Michigan and New York in total number of lighthouses, but leads the nation in number of them along the coast. Lighthouse continue to attract the attention of visitors from around the world to the Lighthouse State (the Official State Nickname is The Pine Tree State, but unofficially, it's The Lighthouse State) year in and year out. One month from today, on September 18, the US Coast Guard, the State of Maine and the American Lighthouse Foundation are holding an Open Lighthouse Day for everyone! Last year was the inaugural go round for Open Lighthouse Day and hundreds of Mainers took advantage of this unique opportunity. Tours will be conducted of each lighthouse on the list half way down this page. My birthday is a couple of days before this open lighthouse thing, I would love to take a tour of one. (Hint hint, Heather :)) If you visit a lighthouse near you, be sure to take your camera and some fresh batteries along and snap some photos as a visual reminder of this iconic figure in Maine's history.

Texas Tidbits : Lightnin' Strikes Texas

Blues. Music that touches and tortures the soul. Music that sings of joy and triumph and, at the same time, despair and tragedy. We all, at one point or another, have experienced the gamut of emotions that is the blues. However, it takes an artist, a Van Gogh with a guitar, a Shakespeare with a song, to make someone feel the blues. One such man was born in Centerville, Texas on March 15, 1912, Sam "Lightnin' " Hopkins. As a young black boy growing up in Centerville (halfway between Dallas and Houston on I-45), Sam was immersed in the blues. At age eight, Sam met a true Blues Man, Blind Lemon Jefferson, at a church picnic in nearby Buffalo. That experience was Sam's baptism into the church of the blues. By the mid 1920's, Hopkins was jumping trains, throwing dice and playing the blues, living the blues. But a decade or so later Lightnin' was imprisoned in Houston County for reasons unclear. After prison, he moved to Houston to get in on the music scene there. Unsuccessful, Sam was soon back in Centerville working as a farm hand. Taking a second shot at Houston in 1946 turned out to be a monumental decision for Hopkins, the blues and, eventually, the world. From then until the early '50's, Lightnin' rarely played outside Texas, but when he did...as the late Paul Harvey said, "Now you know the rest of the story"- playing in countries around the globe, in front of monarchs and poor folks, Hopkins became a legend. On January 30, 1982 in his beloved Houston, Sam "Lightnin'" Hopkins succumbed to cancer at age 69. Cue the the blues... "Lightnin'" has struck Texas.

Prepping for Mother-In-Law Day

Today is gonna be a busy one. We have several errands to run in preparation of an impending visit from the disaster that is my wonderful Mother-In-Law (pictured above), therefore, posts will be running late today. I'll get them up and running as I can throughout the day. There are, for your perusal and entertainment, a number of good, nay, great posts in the archives. Simply browse through page by page or put a keyword in the search box at the top right of each page, enter it and WHAM!, Instant Brilliance! Or Instant BS, depending on your definition of "brilliance". I have extremely low standards, so my idea of brilliance is another man idea of BS. But, I digress. Here's a list of some of the more "brilliant" recent posts :
Let's be real here. Is the stuff above some brilliance BS or what?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Colorado Chronicles : Buffalo Bill - American Original

William Frederick Cody was born February 26, 1846 near LeClaire in the Iowa Territory, destined to become one of the most famous men of the American Wild West era. The Cody family moved to Leavenworth, Kansas when William was seven years old. It was there that the tales of adventure about the cowboys of the day captured young William's heart and imagination. At age eleven when William's father, Isaac, died leaving the Cody clan in desperate straits "he took a job with a freight carrier as a "boy extra," riding up and down the length of a wagon train, delivering messages." (Wikipedia). Three years later, Cody was hit with gold fever and decided to set out to strike it rich. Somewhere along the way he met an agent of the famed Pony Express and the gold fever subsided rather quickly when William was hired by the Express. He built several  Pony Express stations along the PE route and was rewarded with a job as a Pony Express Rider. After a stint as US Army Scout, Indian Fighter and buffalo hunter supplying meat to the Army and some other endeavors, Cody, now known as Buffalo  Bill, began producing and performing in Wild West Shows all over the world. Though highly rewarding and popular shows, the performances didn't leave Buffalo Bill exactly a wealthy man as one would expect. Bad investments away from the Wild West Shows left Cody with little money to retire on, and though he was ready to call it a career, he kept on keeping on until his dieing day. In 1917, while visiting his sister in Denver, Buffalo Bill Cody died and was buried, per his last wishes, on Lookout Mountain in Golden, Colorado. His burial site is still a major tourist attraction for people passing along I-70, west of Denver. William Frederick Cody, truly an American original.

Maine Minutiae : End of Summer Hoorah!

 One of the nice things about living in Augusta is that there are plenty of amenities to live comfortably. Another cool thing about living here is that it's never too far to drive to get to a less-crowded, remote even, place to escape from the rat race. Danged if I didn't find another such place while just goofin' off this morning. Franklin County. A mere 38 miles from Augusta, Franklin County seems a world away. In the winter time, there's always skiing at Sugarloaf. However, as we put another summer behind us, Franklin County still has much to offer. Like the family-owned (I like family-owned businesses. They seem to work harder to make you happy) resort at Saddleback, which features hiking and ski trails, streams and lakes where Fish.Fear.Me. and so much more. While Sugarloaf and Saddleback are doing business in one way or another year round, I wanted to bring up a specific event that I know readers of all ages and both sexes will find well worth the time and money spent. It's billed as the End of Summer Hoorah! The main attractions include a Car/Bike (motorcycle) Show, Texas Hold "Em Tournament and....wait....for....this....a pig roast! I'd slap my mama away from the supper table to get some fresh roasted pig. They'll also be BBQing some yard bird at this hootnanny. How fast can I get there??!! What a great way to wrap up the vacation season! Rangeley, a recent Maine Minutiae subject is also in Franklin County and would be a terrific place to spend some time during your trip to the festivities. Hoorah!

Texas Tidbits : That Texas Town

If You've Got a Ten to Get Yourself In...*
ZZ Top did a song about it. Burt Reynolds and Dolly Parton did a movie about it and Houston news guy Marvin Zindler was instrumental in getting the joint shut down. We are, of course, talking about the infamous Chicken Ranch outside La Grange. Wikipedia continues the story : "The brothel that becam.e the Chicken Ranch opened in La Grange in 1844. Run by a widow known as "Mrs. Swine," the brothel operated out of a hotel near the saloon and featured three young women from New Orleans, Louisiana. The ladies used the hotel lobby for entertaining and rented a room upstairs for conducting their business. The brothel was successful for over a decade, but was forced to close during the Civil War, when Swine and one of her prostitutes were forced to leave town as Yankees and American loyalists. After the war, prostitution was endemic in the local saloons, but no official records were kept." At least the good folks of La Grange had the sense to run the Yankees out of town. :)  Am I the only one that finds humor in the fact that a house of ill repute was run by a lady named Mrs. Swine? During the Great Depression the number of "visitors" to the Chicken Ranch dwindled, so the "lady" who ran the place started charging one live chicken instead of cash for the favors of the working girls. Business as usual went on at the Chicken Ranch until late 1972 when the Texas Department of Public Safety got a tip that the brothel was a front for organized crime. That rumor was quickly proven false, but in 1973 Marvin Zindler, a consumer reporter for KTRK-TV in Houston, began an investigation that involved the Governor of Texas and eventually lead to the closing of the now-world famous Chicken Ranch. An interesting and more in depth history of the Chicken Ranch can be found here.  (Cue ZZ Top) "...if you've got a ten to get yourself in...."

Monday, August 16, 2010

Colorado Chronicles : Beer

NBarley Pop
Beer. It's a nice word. And a damn good thirst quencher. When a guy like The Storyteller, Tom T. Hall, feels compelled to write an ode to beer, you know that the special blend of hops and barley that constitute this amber current of ambrosia is otherworldly. And the beer lovers of Colorado really know how to pay homage to bonafide beauty of a beverage. How? With festivals! 
Below, you'll find a list of links to various Beer Festival-type events being held throughout Colorado in the remaining days of August.
 There you go...a short list of Colorado Beer Fests going on through August. There are more such shindigs elsewhere in Colorado in August, so if you want more info on them, Fermentedly Challenged ( I love that name) has the scoop. If you plan on attending one or all of these events, be sure to have a designated driver or some kind of alternate transportation to and from the festival. When you return home, drop me a line and tell me how things went, if you can remember. :)

Maine Minutiae : Blueberries, Highland Games and More

Every time you eat a blueberry, whether in a muffin, waffle or the berry itself, more than likely it came from Maine. This delicacy is found in the wild or commercially grown all over the state. So it's that Mainers would hold festivals featuring this delicious little blue ball of a berry. As a matte of fact, this Thursday the 19th from 10am-3pm, Rangeley will be holding its annual Blueberry Festival. The 35th Annual Machias Blueberry Festival will take place this weekend with over 250 vendors, contests, raff;es and of course a blueberry pie-eating contest. the price is right, too - FREE. Down in Topsham on Saturday (Aug 21), they'll be holding The Highland Games celebrating Maine's Scottish Heritage. While love all things blueberry and the Highland Games sound very inviting, over in Belfast (last Friday's MM subject), something that is right up my alley is happening, The Belfast Harbor Fest and 2010 National Boatbuilding Contest. As the month of August hits the home stretch and the first day of school nears (YAY!!!) , there is still plenty to do in cities and towns all over Maine. Now if they could just build a Scottish boat out of blueberries....

*Photo from cheftomcooks.com

Texas Tidbits : What Do East Texans Call a Sweet Tater Festival?

In  answer to the question posed in the title of the post : if you're in Gilmer a Sweet Tater Festival is called a Yamboree! For real. As a kid, I spent many an October day at the East Texas Yamboree in Upshur County, Gilmer specifically. You see, I had older relatives, (great) Uncle Walter and his wife, (great) Aunt Vinnie, who lived in Bettie (not joking) which is near Thomas (not joking again) which is near NoDamnWhere (joking, kinda). Betty and Thomas were more like country communities as opposed to being towns. There was nothing there except a paved road. But I digress....The Yamboree is a big deal to Gilmer and Upshur County. 100,000 people a year visit Gilmer to participate in all kinds of activities and events. This year on Wednesday, October 20 here's what will be happening (I am not making this up) : Wednesday, October 20th
7-8:30am    Broiler Sifting (YP)
8:45am      Broiler Show (YP)
10:30am    Museum opens - Queen's Gown Display
11:00am - 12:00pm  Goat Weigh-in (YP)
12:30pm    Goat Show (YP)
4:00pm - 6:00pm  Market Swine Weigh-in (YP)
6:00pm    Carnival/Youth Night (CS) All Rides 1/2 Price
7:30pm    Queen's Coronation (CC)
And you thought I was kidding. Shame on you. There's all kinds of stuff going on at the Yamboree, but none even holds a candle to the Yam Pie Judging that takes place at noon Saturday the 22nd. This.Is.Serious.Business. The full, thrill-packed 2010 schedule of events can be found here. I've been poking a little fun at the Yamboree, but in all seriousness, it is a tremendous event with something to do for all ages - from carnival rides for the kids to a fiddling contest for the most seasoned of citizens. I truly believe that everything I ever experienced at this East Texas tradition made me what I yam today.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Texas Tidbits : Big Cats in Texas

Top Cat*
I love animals. Especially BBQ'ed. *rimshot* I'll be here all week, folks. Be sure to tip your blog writer. But seriously, folks...I really am an animal lover...cats, dogs, whatever. I like 'em  because they are not only cute and cuddly (until they grow up), but for the companionship and undying loyalty for the low price of loving them back and a little food now and then. There's a place just outside Tyler where a few people have gone way above the realm of normal animal rescuers to something even more fantastic - Big Cat Rescuers. Yes, those kind of Big Cats. Tiger Creek Wildlife Refuge is something much bigger, literally, than your local animal shelter. It's a refuge for...hell, let's go to Tiger Creek's web page for that info :"To provide rescue and rehabilitation of big cats that have been abused, neglected or displaced.". And that's exactly what they do. Wanna meet some of the residents of Tiger Creek? Click here and when you get to the Tiger Creek page, look to left of the display and click "Meet the Big Cats". It's real good stuff. Tiger Creek is known worldwide for the outstanding work they do in giving these mighty predators a home that is as similar to their  natural habitat as possible, plus the care and love they need in order to simply survive. My hat's off to Brian Werner and Terri Block and their staff of volunteers for the superhuman effort, devotion and dedication towards these magnificent felines and their on-going hard work in rescuing and rehabbing Big Cats of all stripes. Or lack thereof.

*Photo from Texas Photo Forum

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Another Milestone!

2000.Two thousand. MM. A nice round number. As of a few minutes ago Three States Plus One received its 2000th page view. That's quite an accomplishment considering exactly 154 posts and two months ago today, I put up my first post (about Outlaw Sam Bass). Today, we have readers in 29 states and 9 countries around the globe. This milestone was achieved because of you, the 420 unique visitors to this blog. End of story. I can't thank you enough for such a terrific two months. I thank you for taking time from your hectic schedules to spend a moment with Three States Plus One. It may not appear to be so, but I put some pretty long hours trying to make this blog successful - researching, organizing my thoughts on what each post will look like, typing each entry, etc. Therefore, each click made that leads you here is genuinely appreciated. I feel like the Father of 2000 clicks! I am proud of each one. I look forward to each click that is yet to come and to becoming a better blogger in order to justify your continued support. I am indeed humbled.

Maine Minutiae : A Good Place to Live

Downtown Ellsworth
I fell in love with Ellsworth the first time I visited the place and  I go out of my way to drive through town when we take a trip to Eastport to see the in-laws. It's just a nice little town, easy on the eye. The history of European explorers in Ellsworth goes back to at least the 1500's when the French first set foot on the Maine coast however, many modern historians believe that Norse men probably landed in the area even before Columbus "discovered" the New World.  The first settlement in Ellsworth is thought to have been founded by French citizens in 1613, although the town wasn't incorporated by the Maine Legislature until 1869. More history of Ellsworth can be found at answerbag.com. One of the things I like most is the way that this city looks so "old" (see pic above), yet has many businesses that are so "today". Burger King and fifty-eight other restaurants are located in Ellsworth, as are three hospitals, six dentists and so much more. It looks like all 6500 folks that live in Ellsworth are well-taken care of should they get a belly ache from eating too many Whoppers. Since the city is located on Penobscot Bay and the Union River drains the town, there is much fish slaying to do. Fish.Fear.Me. I say this in many posts, but this is a place I'd like to live. Maine is loaded with great places to live, so the abundance of quality locations to relocate to presents us with  a dilemma, and Ellsworth doesn't make the choice any easier. I guess, though, that's not a bad thing.

Texas Tidbits : On the Border, By the Sea

University of Texas at Brownsville
I have always been a sucker for things Mexican - the food, language, tequila, traditions, sense of family, tequila. You get the picture - all that other stuff and tequila. Seriously, I love the culture of our Mexican neighbors. I was thinking, if I want to get a taste of Mexico and still be in the USA, where would be a good place to go? Easy answer. Brownsville. In Brownsville, I'd still be in Texas and get the flavor of Mexico as well. Hell, Matamoros is just across the Rio Grande. The southernmost city in Texas has a population of about 140,000 and a semi-tropical climate that attracts many snowbirds, or Winter Texans or as Texans call them, Yankees. :)  The climate is just one item on the "plus" list for Brownsville. Other pluses include a landscape laden with palm trees, bougainvilleas and comforting Gulf breezes, exotic birds and a zoo that features over 1500 species of animals. Brownsville's recorded history goes back to the 1600's but was settle many years later. According to The Handbook of Texas Online, "In 1781 Spanish authorities granted fifty-nine leagues of land on the northern bank of the river, including all of the site of Brownsville, to José Salvador de la Garza, who established a ranch about sixteen miles northwest of the site. During the early nineteenth century a small number of squatters, most of them herders and farmers from Matamoros, built huts in the area. A small settlement had formed by 1836, when Texas declared her independence from Mexico, but the region was still only sparsely settled when United States troops under Gen. Zachary Taylor arrived in early 1846." THOT has a more detailed history of Brownsville here. Today, as in centuries past, is a major shipping port that brings in goods from all over the world. I guess the most famous thing Brownsville is known for is Spring Break. Enough said. It seems that I have discovered Paradise at the southern tip of Texas, and it called Brownsville.

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