Sunday, June 27, 2004

Chuck will in the morning.

At least he will this morning, anyway. Before dawn this loud mouthed bird went off. It flew around the house and set up outside each open window and shouted in through the screens. Over and over and over. We called them whippoorwills growing up but that's a different bird. Whippoorwills go north for the summer and pass through here only during the nicest weather in the early spring. Chuck wills hang out all summer trying to get us to stay awake all night and sleep all day by harrassing us with the loudest most incessant "song" of the night in the animal kingdom. Even the owls and coyotes have the decency to shut up after a bit. I once lived in a very old farm house in South Carolina that was perched on a hill in the middle of several pastures. It had somehow become a sort of singles bar for chuck wills. I did love to hear them at first, but after a while it got to where I really really needed some sleep. I stared out the windows of that old house several times as a male went through his strut and grind mating song to impress a girl. I have not seen the mating noise mentioned in the bird books but I have it ground in to my memory. It sounds like a combination of the noises on a futuristic video pin ball game except for having no bells. The "boings" and "buzzes" are all there. Weird to hear for the first time, particularly in the middle of the night. I would give another night's sleep to experience it again but not every night's sleep like I had to do the last time. I was getting a bit nutty from deprevation before the mating was accomplished and the birds had to shut up and raise their kids which is about now in the scheme of things.

Why this morning's chuck will's widow got noisy, I don't know, but he pulled me from a serious dream sequence, none the less. I actually wanted to hear the bird better when it first started and had to overcome the shut mechanism in my eyes to force myself more awake. I remember my dreams much more clearly at such times but this one has the quality of a phone conversation that is breaking up with some clear moments and some static. My head was working on something and the dream was only metaphor. Women were talking. I don't know what they were saying but they weren't exactly happy. I've lived a lot of my life around unhappy women so it was nothing new. A long time ago I decided that the only time my Grandmother was happy was when she was miserable. My mom was a bit like that too. I think it is a Scotch-Irish thing.

I've noticed this again in the Irish somewhat recently. They are having a rather happy time giving the President of the United States hell right now. Even though both the president and the Irish were mad, only the Irish were happy. He is over there staying in Castles and trying to convince the Europeans that he is not a moron. It's not working.

The Bush team agreed to a television interview and demanded that all the questions that were going to be asked be provided at least three days in advance. They were, and the President's team had three days to get him primed up with the answers. It now turns out that the biggest balls in journalism are hanging on a woman named Carol Coleman. She had the temerity to demand that George Bush actually answer a question he had had three days to work on. He got mad and testy and never did answer the questions. Then the Bush team cancelled a planned interview with Laura Bush. Too bad the interview didn't come out until after Michael Moore's film opened.

That's it!!! That's what my dream was about! Unhappy women asking questions and not getting answers. In an early sequence in Moore's documentary we are on the House of Representatives floor when Al Gore has the ironic duty to certify his own stolen election. There are several Florida Congresswomen who are contesting the Florida vote. They have evidence, since verified by every single investigator that looked into it, that the voters in their districts were cheated out of their votes. They were making an absolutely constitutionally legal challenge to the election results that installed George W. Bush in the Presidency, except for one thing...In order to have legal validity, the challenge had to have the signature of a Senator of the United States. Just one! Not one single Senator would come forward and sign his name. There is one Senator I question more than any other at this point and that is Bob Graham, D-Fla. Former candidate for President. By all accounts, Bob Graham is an honorable man, particularly for a Senator. What the hell were you thinking, Bob?

I like the animals better than I like people some times. When a bird wakes me up in the night, it is nothing personal. A bird gotta do what a bird gotta do. People have no excuses. When a bird clips on to the stem of a plant sticking out of the ground and tells the whole world that he's a chuck will's widow, over and over and over again, it is just because a feeling came over him that said he had to. Sorry, gotta sing! Too bad it's 4:30 am. I forgive the bird. When a Senator, ok, 100 Senators, fail to do the right thing called for by the Constitution, I get mad and I remember it. John Kerry, you messed up too! Now you have to make it right.

Another thought hits me...If you or I had won something and found out that it was wrong, what would we do? There is no question that Al Gore won the most votes in Florida. Even with Kathryn Harris violating the Constitutional rights to vote of roughly 40,000 Floridians who should have had their vote counted, Gore won the recount when they counted the whole state. Bush lost, fair and square. Do you think that the man who "Promised to restore Integrity and Morality to the Whitehouse" should resign? Would that be the moral thing to do? Where is Integrity in staying on?

I sticking with the Bird on this one! Never did get back to sleep.

Here are some sites where you can click on a link and listen to the call of the chuck-will and the whip-poor-will to hear the difference in their songs.

Chuck will's Widow:




The guy just keeps on changing positions on things:

Flip flops and waffles:

"The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. It is our number one priority and we will not rest until we find him."
George W. Bush
Sept. 13, 2001

"I don't know where [Osama bin Laden] is and I really don't care. It's not that important. It's not our priority."
George W. Bush
March 13, 2003

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Friday, June 25, 2004

Rained all day, stormed and messed up our plans to get outside so we decide to hit the movie. You know..."The" movie.

Wow! I took the family to see Farhenheit 9-11 last night. Waiting to get in, I looked at the faces of the people coming out, trying, as I usually do, to figure out what effect the movie had on them. I'm not sure what I expected but probably something like a "rah rah go team" mood. That's not what showed on the faces of the most diverse group of folks I have ever seen at one place in Tennessee. Some were talking and laughing loudly and some were drying tears. Some were just crying.

We had ordered our tickets on line and had one extra for the 5:10 pm show, thinking that one might be the easiest to get in on opening day. Standing in line we realized we were lucky. Everyone was talking with everyone else. The guy in front of us was in line to get tickets for the next day's show since they were sold out for all shows on Friday. When my wife told him she had gotten tickets over the Internet, he put this Duh look on his face and stepped out of line. A young woman was in front of us holding cash in her hand and I asked if she had her ticket. She said no but she really, really wanted to see this movie but was afraid she wouldn't get to. I sold her our extra ticket but she had to go through with us like a family member since we had a block of tickets printed out that wouldn't separate. We looked just like a nice family as the guy took our tickets except that Thomas's older sister was black.

I looked at a Middle Eastern looking group of women going in. They were smiling and friendly with traditional printed cloth covering their heads. Not one single man had on a suit or a red tie. There were lots of blue shirts in the crowd. That was the secret badge of the members.

The only seats we could get together were down front, dead center, three rows back. The previews were way too loud and I had curious, not entirely comfortable, emotions as I sat with my 15 year old son, through a trailer for a movie about a guy making ends meet by impregnating lesbians. Rated PG 13, the movie was, but the preview was "approved for all audiences". Good grief!

I expected much of the movie. I pay attention to what happens in my world. I knew all about the Saudi Bin Laden connections to the Bush family. I was not prepared for the emotional impact of connecting the dots with nothing more than news footage. I now think back at the Fox news talking heads trying to counter the effectiveness of Michael Moore's film by questioning his "facts". They're going to have a hard time with that because much of what he does is just show news file tape of George Bush, Dick Cheney, Condoleeza Rice, and the others contradicting themselves. What do you do when you call your own self a liar? How do you spin that?

There were things I didn't want to see. I cried several times and I hate very few things more than crying in movies. But every tear was ripped apart by laughter. I laughed hard and loud, time after time, except when I was crying. Moore let me off the hook at the end. The last emotional gut wrench was mitigated by the last guffaw. It was a clip of a speech George W. Bush gave in Tennessee. He did it to himself with no help from Michael Moore.

Then it was over. Two hours flew by. I am usually ahead of a film. I am rarely surprised and get impatient for them to be over. When one does surprise me after sending my insides reeling on a roller coaster ride, I am grateful. For Moore to have surprised me with things I already knew is nothing short of amazing. The juxtaposition of facts and events leads us to the inescapable conclusion. Unlike a Presidential campaign ad there is no fiction or wishful thinking presented in 9-11 to make the case. It is a documentary put together with not much more than news clips, network file footage, and interviews. This is the most entertained you will have ever been while being forced to think.

But be warned...It took nearly an hour and two glasses of wine for my insides to settle down enough for supper. I do not recommend that you go see Farhenheit 9-11... I order you to go... and take a Republican! Offer to pay their way.

As we all walked out of the movie, I tried to wipe my eyes casually and then look around. Everyone I looked at was either laughing or crying or trying not to. I saw the women with the covered heads and they were openly weeping. I understand.

America...What have we done?

Can we fix it? We have to!



Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Frog days hang in the gorge.

Looking out as I sit here sipping the morning's allotment of juice from the evil bean, I can actually see the air. Lumpy and whitish, it moves up the creek, crawls over the far ridge and then changes its mind...confused and addled from the burden of too much water. Funny how the world works...In Colorado they are beginning to think the local drought will make the dust bowl years look like relief, while here at my home it rains most afternoons, enough to murk up the snorkeling but not enough to make whitewater to play in. I consider myself lucky to be here at this spot but I have to think about the West and wonder if I will live long enough to see the Cumberland Plateau become just as parched.

Anyone who has hiked in New Mexico or Arizona and has also spent much time in Eastern Tennessee will note the geographical resemblance of the two places. One has trees and one has cacti, but the mesas and arroyos of the West are nearly identical to the plateaus and gorges of the East when you get down to the dirt and rock. The crinoid fossil I saw emerging from the rock overlooking the Green River gorge in Colorado looks very much like the crinoid fossil I have laid into my hearth behind the wood stove. It came from Great Falls on the Caney Fork River in Tennessee. Both lived in shallow seas which have long since disappeared. The Twin Arches in Big South Fork could easily be in Moab. You just have to walk much closer to see them because of the trees. It is all about climate, which is all about water and heat. It is another form of the energy problem. During frog days on the plateau, we have our own form of the energy problem. The heat and humidity cause a shortage of energy when we need to be doing things. Lots of things get started and lots of things never get finished.

The climate in both the East and the West has changed. As a matter of geological record it pretty much is always changing all over the world. Humans are very short lived compared to the time frame of historical climate change. If we can't see it, well then it must not be happening. It's the "boiled frog" effect. I've seen this with crabs but I've never had any reason to boil a frog to test it. I have boiled a fair number of blue crabs and they will sit right there in the pot, never moving or trying to save themselves from taking that personal journey from crustacean to food, but only if you start with cold water. It's the slow change that gets them. I made the mistake of tossing one into hot water one time, and all hell broke loose around the camp. A pissed off crab is a frightening thing to confront.

Now we humans are getting to see what it's like. The last three months were the warmest on record in North America. Virtually every scientist in the world, who is not funded one way or another by an energy company, is concerned. Frankly, a whole bunch of the scientists that are funded by the energy companies are concerned. For that matter, even the President of Shell Oil Company is concerned and I'm pretty danged sure he is funded by an energy company. Even the American Military is concerned. The Pentagon has issued a position paper saying this is a huge problem and sent it to the President of the United States who is NOT concerned. He is more worried about being reelected than much of any thing else. He's trying to stay out of jail.

I think he is crazy. All his best buddies are going to be in jail so he could hang with all of them and just kick back for a few years. Ken Lay, Dick Cheney, Tom Delay, Rush Limbaugh...They could have their own basketball team at recess so why is Bush fighting it? After some consideration I think he needs a new motto to help boost his ratings. He's pretty unpopular right now. I think his new motto for reelection ought to be:

"Follow Me to the Apocalypse"

That should work with his most fervent voter base, don't you think?

Insiders at the Whitehouse are starting to say George W. Bush is crazy, too. When a Washington news organization published the startling revelations from Whitehouse aids saying The President was nuts like Nixon, nobody refuted it with any factual corrections. The conservative pundits merely attacked the news provider personal sexual history, as is customary. The allegations still stand that the Prez is losing it.

The Vice Prez seems to be losing it too. When ever he gives a speech he says something like, "Hey, I never said Saddam was involved in 9-11, but you know he was because I say so, even though every other knowledgeable person on the planet says I'm lying." To which the Fox News pundits will say, "See, we told you so!" And to which every body else will say,


See! They're crazy. That is the only rational explanation. One thing you can notice is that when Conservatives have a problem, they accuse everybody else of the same thing. That's why you see Rush, who just fried his third marriage by virtue of drugs and infidelity, ranting about Bill's sex life. Now they have this mental instability issue they have to deal with so what do they do? They accuse every body else of being crazy! Here is a list of the people that conservatives have recently and publicly accused of being crazy:

Tom Daschle, Nancy Pelosi, Ann Richards, Jesse Jackson, Paul Wellstone, George Soros, Gray Davis, Wesley Clark, Howard Dean, Michael Moore, Martin Sheen, Al Franken, Kevin Phillips, Bill Maher, Barney Frank, Ted Kennedy, Susan McDougal, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Max Cleland, Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, and Bill Clinton

And Al Gore! Al was branded crazy for bringing up the little problem of climate change way back when. I don't think I have heard one single conservative puppet, I mean pundit, say Al was right but he was and is... No boiled Frog, that Al.

So while the air gets heavier and heavier I will just try to keep my cool and watch the show. In the mean time I have a reading assignment for you... here is an excerpt from David Podvin:

"Conservatives are tantalizingly close to eradicating the American way of life as we know it, and they have no intention of allowing their cherished plans to be spoiled by someone who is so crazy that he insists upon telling the truth."

This is a well reasoned article that is a fun read, also. Get to it, frogs!



Monday, June 21, 2004

I think the last time I slept all the way through the night was in 1956. I usually drop into the "dead zone" for four or five hours and then cat nap until I get up. My wife is a saint for several reasons but this has to be a big one. When I wake up, I usually listen to the world. There's a lot going on at night.

Here in the gorge we are in that time between the frogs and the katydids. If we have any kind of rain the tree frogs go off. Not in any steady background noise way but erratically loud then nothing. Why is it the "nothing" that wakes us up? This all changes in a few weeks. Katydids will rock the gorge...all night long. They don't have the nothing periods while it's dark. All they have is daytime. If you can't sleep with the katydid throbulator rocking these hills, you had better stay in town. I look at them crawling around the screens and wonder how a big green cricket can make such a racket. It's all about cricket love, though, and somehow they manage to do what has to be done, sometime in the night. It will take them about a month once they get started, and this time of year, when I wake up, I try to hear the first rachet from the first bug that reaches sexual maturity. Does he live long enough to score? Is it the male that sings? Ah, the questions, I mean the really big questions, that hover over life wating for answer.

Here's the big question that hit me last night or this morning while I was listening for bug song:

Will conservatives realize that conservatism doesn't work before the Bushistas destroy America?

Of course Liberalism in pure form doesn't work all that well either but it is far more benign and nobody has to die for it. Liberals don't have to lie consciously to promote their mission like Conservatives do. Think about it...There is no single bit of evidence more profound than the Bush / Cheney insistance that Saddam was connected with 9-11. There is something really sick about that one. On one hand we have a bipartisan commission that unanimously says, "It ain't so!" Then what happens? Cheney goes on TV and says Saddam was promoting the terrorism that brought down the towers. Then they get support from another defining icon of conservatism, the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin who backs them up with something that Bush's own security chief says is bogus! If Conservatives stopped lying the whole movement would collapse.

Want to see what happens when a society goes Conservative? Look at Israel. Since the Conservative party gained total control of the country by whipping up the fears of the electorate, the economy has been destroyed. The GNP of Israel is now less than one third of what it was before and absolutely no one feels safer. It is as obvious as the indightment papers for Arial Sharon that Conservatives cannot run an economy because they do not know how to make money...they only know how to steal it!

Take the two at the top right now. Bush stole his by following the advice of Ken Lay. It involved off the books deals to con the stockholders of Harken Energy. He stole nearly a million dollars this way from his alma mater's endowment fund. Cheney will probably be indighted in Europe for bribery while he was CEO of Halliburton. He still insists that he has nothing to do with Halliburton now that he is Vice President. No small lie, that! He holds stock options for several hundred thousand shares of Halliburton stock and holds mutual funds that are primarily invested in Halliburton. Couple that with Halliburton's shameful handling of the Iraq war troup support and mishandling of roughly $600,000,000.00. If Bush loses the election there will be indightments. Gotta stay in power so keep lying, boys.

So what started me thinking about this?

Bill Clinton...He has a memoir.

So what do conservative pundits do? They start panting about Monica. Bill lied about having sex with her. He's a liar. When Bill goes on 60 minutes what does he want to talk about as the failures of his Presidency? Health Care and Social Security reform. What do the Conservatives want to talk about? Sex! Near as I can tell, it was pretty rushed and not really actual sex as I think of it anyway. I'm not defending it but I'm not judging it either. You would think that Conservatives didn't have sex from the way they rant on TV and radio. Oh wait...The number one Conservative spokesman is getting a divorce right now because of sex...and drugs...and he lied about it. And you know what? Not one bit of anything that has to do with sex has anything to do with the future of America!

Lying about sex is nothing!

Lying about an imminent threat from Iraq, and Afghanistan, and no bid contracts, and stealing elections, and driving America deep into debt, and ruining the air we have to breathe, and lying about the arsenic in the water we have to drink, and lying about why Osama hates us, and why we should sacrifice our children in a war we can't win, and lying about committing treason...Lying like that is something! Something despicable.

Conservatism falls apart if we make them tell the truth.

There's one other off the wall contradiction that hit me during the night. Why is it exactly that Dick Cheney wants to cut taxes? Without tax money...He has nothing to steal! Halliburton goes broke and loses his ass.

Well the Katydids had better get going soon so I can calm down. All this thinking about sex has me all flustered anyway. Katy did but I didn't...and I'm not lying!



Thursday, June 17, 2004

Something different today, although I often reference Bill Moyers as a conscience of America. It is evident from his writing that he is a strong believer in the "Fairness Code." This is a little but of a different take on it though, and I cannot completely rationalize the contradictions of the historical actions of even a man so great as Thomas Jefferson. By this I mean: How do you come to grips with having six of your own children kept as slaves? (I wonder if my momma knew about this concept?) There were powerful social forces at work that we can only intellectualize at this time point in Jefferson's future. Great change has come...and unfortunately gone.

Moyers reflects on the return of inequality. Here's an excerpt that may provoke you to read the entire piece:

"Household economics is not the only area where inequality is growing in America. Equality doesn't mean equal incomes, but a fair and decent society where money is not the sole arbiter of status or comfort. In a fair and just society, the commonwealth will be valued even as individual wealth is encouraged.

Let me make something clear here. I wasn't born yesterday. I'm old enough to know that the tension between haves and have-nots are built into human psychology, it is a constant in human history, and it has been a factor in every society. But I also know America was going to be different. I know that because I read Mr. Jefferson's writings, Mr. Lincoln's speeches and other documents in the growing American creed. I presumptuously disagreed with Thomas Jefferson about human equality being self-evident. Where I lived, neither talent, nor opportunity, nor outcomes were equal. Life is rarely fair and never equal. So what could he possibly have meant by that ringing but ambiguous declaration: "All men are created equal"? Two things, possibly. One, although none of us are good, all of us are sacred (Glenn Tinder), that's the basis for thinking we are by nature kin.

Second, he may have come to see the meaning of those words through the experience of the slave who was his mistress. As is now widely acknowledged, the hands that wrote "all men are created equal" also stroked the breasts and caressed the thighs of a black woman named Sally Hennings. She bore him six children whom he never acknowledged as his own, but who were the only slaves freed by his will when he died -- the one request we think Sally Hennings made of her master. Thomas Jefferson could not have been insensitive to the flesh-and-blood woman in his arms. He had to know she was his equal in her desire for life, her longing for liberty, her passion for happiness."

What is the ultimate price of inequality? Historically an investor class of the wealthy has always destroyed itself. Why? because everyone else eventually can't stand it anymore:

"Let's face the reality: If ripping off the public trust; if distributing tax breaks to the wealthy at the expense of the poor; if driving the country into deficits deliberately to starve social benefits; if requiring states to balance their budgets on the backs of the poor; if squeezing the wages of workers until the labor force resembles a nation of serfs -- if this isn't class war, what is?

It's un-American. It's unpatriotic. And it's wrong."

And now he gives us a call to action. Readers of my ravings may recognize a brother in arms:

"What we need is a mass movement of people like you. Get mad, yes -- there's plenty to be mad about. Then get organized and get busy. This is the fight of our lives!"

Read it all...Please!

Talking with a Republican friend yesterday afternoon. He said the insider Repub jokes about the Clinton portrait unveiling were hilarious. I asked for an example and he said,

"The Clintons had to walk through the metal detectors...on the way out of the Whitehouse."

This, of course, is a continuation of the false myth created by Karl Rove. You remember the stolen W's from keyboards and all sorts of other vandalism that was supposed to have taken place. None of it was true. It was a Rovian lie, planted with the most mean spirited of motives. When I confronted my friend with the "fact" of that "Lie" he owned up to it with a "Yeah, I know." He is that rarest of human honest Republican, and I admire him for it. His must be a difficult way of life.

(Before you get huffy, let me also say that I think honest Democrat officials are pretty rare, too.)

But anyway, my friend came back at me with "They all lie" so that was supposed to mean the Rovian antics were ok, I guess, even though they were unjustly intended to hurt a man's reputation along with that of his wife. So my response was "No they don't! ...

"Name one lie that Clinton told that was not about his sex life?"

He looked me in the eye and his face went into a painful smile of the child confronted with the fact that the dog did not eat his homework..."I can't come up with anything" he said.

This man was a fairly high up Republican operative and he could not come up with anything. He is exactly the kind of man that is going to help us get rid of Bush. When he goes into the voting booth and closes the curtain, he will have to vote against the man who took over the Republican party and is trying to assist the book of Revelations. My friend will have to be honest with himself and put the best interests of his children first.

While I am thinking about it, "Thy shalt not commit adultery" came up in the Clintonian context. If you want something really strange to study in your bible this weekend, search out the biblical definition of "adultery" and the recommended punishments. I have been observing the Southern Baptist Convention get more biblical and I think that they should carry out all the recommended punishments on themselves as an example to all of the rest of us. In addition to the stonings for adultery I would particularly like to see them "punish" all of their devout membership that have broken this little commandment:

"Thy shalt not bear false witness against thy fellow man."

Throw in a few "punishments" for stealing and coveting and the Southern Baptist problem neatly goes away, don't you think? We may have to look over the list of infractions closely to get them all and some may squeak through on technicalities. I don't think we will see many stonings for the "Seething of calves in their mother's milk" for instance. (Had you forgotten that was a commandment? While it is not there on Judge Roy's rock, it is plainly sitting right there in Exodus. I guess God needs a little editing now and then.)

Think about it...I figure they're all gonna be guilty of one or two commandment transgressions and the bible very clearly calls for stoning. Once they are all wiped out there would be several benefits to the community. Right off the bat I can envision how taking back all that non-taxable land they have tied up in those ostentatious churches and freeing it up for gainful reuse would neatly revitalize all our local communities in short order. I like this idea so much I think I will call it "The Emerson Project."

Hey! Just kidding folks! Honest! Gotta go now...there's a veal recipe I want to try.



Monday, June 07, 2004

Long Creek, S.C. June 6, 2004

"It's gonna rain," said David.

"Clever observation," I thought silently. It is June in the Southeastern United States, the Humidity is at least a couple of hundred, and the sky has been lumpy overcast rain clouds for days. Now some cluck comes from up in the tree top over us and David predicts rain with more conviction that anyone who has ever been on the local evening news.

I'm thinking about David's remarks yesterday morning as I sit here and listen to it rain on the metal roof above me. Oddly enough, David and I were looking at putting a metal roof on an old house that came into my possession years ago when I decided to help a marvelous elderly lady who had helped me once. Everyone called her Miss High. She was 90 when I bought her house, for too much probably, so she could move into an assisted living facility. The church ladies had decided she needed to do this because she was 90. When they came to move her out, the church ladies couldn't lift or tote anything themselves so Miss High did all the heavy lifting and carried her own furniture out to the van herself. She was only ninety, after all. I watched this and wondered exactly who it was that should be getting help. I also wondered how long she would live after she got stuck in a "home"?

Lois was her first name. She taught at the Long Creek Acadamy, which was founded around the end of World War II by a Baptist preacher to help educate children who needed to learn what he thought they needed to learn and not much else. When she and another teacher at the acadamy wanted to live in their own house and move out of the dormatory, they built this house for them. It wouldn't pass any code ever created but it used to keep the rain out. The men who built the house were being taught carpentry at the Academy so they could earn a living now that they were back from the war. Some of them did not have all their legs. By the time all of them were officially educated in their new trade, some of them did not have all their fingers either. I don't think Miss High's house was built by men who had made the honor roll in the house building class at the school. Particularly, I think they had slept through the foundation building part. If you could see the house you would understand. Lois lived to be 93 and passed away living out her days amongst a "bunch of snowball heads" as she used to call them. She didn't like old people...didn't consider herself one of them.

Long Creek was in the path of a total solar eclipse one day, and I walked down to her house and told her about it just as it started. We got her out a lawn chair and I made her a pin hole projector out of a piece of cardboard so she could watch the eclipse. I'd never seen her happier. She liked new ideas. I remember watching her as I walked away, sitting in her chair moving the cardboard, with the pinhole we punched in it, up and down to focus the crescent of the sun. She was sitting there when it got very dark as the shadow of the moon passed over us. One of those crystaline moments in my life is the sight of hundreds of crescent sun projections shing up from the ground under the huge oak trees in the yard right before it got darkest. The patches of light where the sun could get through the leaves of the tree had been focussed on the ground as the tree itself became hundreds of pinhole projectors. There were light crescents every where I stepped. Wow, I thought, I'm walking on the sun. Hundreds of suns, actually.

"A Rain Crow," said David. It had made a sound like a turkey "gulp" only raspier and softer. "When the Rain Crow calls it is gonna' rain soon." It was up in the projector oak tree high over our heads. I got my small binoculars out of the car and tried to find it. I had heard the name Rain Crow before but I didn't make the connection right away. It was a yellow billed cuckoo. I have watched them many times from inside my house. They stay high in the trees and eat mostly catapillars. Tent worms are high on the delicacy list if you are a yellow billed cuckoo. You also have no evolved defenses against flying into large panes of glass, either, if you are a yellow billed cuckoo. I, once, picked up the dead one that had just been claimed by my new house and wondered what to do. It was a beautiful bird...majestic and regal looking only a few minutes before. They sit up proud on tree limbs, holding their head up and chest out. They are big for birds that live in trees, about 12 inches from tip to tail...a pleasant buff brown on the back with a white chest that looks more like the ermine fur of a King's robe than feathers. I felt responsible for killing this creature and wondered what to do, short of boarding up the windows. I wound up cutting down the few small cherrie trees around the house that had tent catapillars in them. Now I rarely see a rain crow but I hear them all the time in the dense woods around the house. I have not held a dead one in my hand since I got rid of the attractive source of food next to the house and that is worth the loss of viewing this magnificent bird.

David was right, it's raining. Or I guess the rain crow was right. I'm glad I showed Miss High the eclipse. Tomorrow morning the planet Venus will pass in front of the sun. This was a tremendously important astronomical event the last few times it happened. It let astronomers determine several measurements that we take for granted today and caused all kinds of problems between astronomers and preachers. The preachers of the day were all stuck on what they called "Truth" and didn't have much use for what scientists call "fact". This is a proud tradition that is carried on today. You want to know what I think? Of course you don't, but I'm going to tell you anyway...I think that humankind will wipe out the Rain Crow and Humankind well before the rain crow evolves defenses against large panes of glass. I think Miss High would have liked to see the sillouette of Venus pass before the sun. I will get up tomorrow morning and try to see it myself but I don't think I will be successful. According to the Rain Crow, it's gonna' be raining.



Here's a place to find out more about the Rain Crow.

I liked this picture and the site is interesting. There are several good shots taken around Cumberland Falls.