Saturday, July 26, 2008


click picture to enlarge Just a couple clips of today. copy and paste into browser Today is the last day of my July vacation. The rain came down early this morning; very early. How do I know? I've been up since 3:00 AM scratching chigger bites. I really got into them on the lake camp out. The drug store brand cortisone leaves a lot to be desired. I brought my friends back to the ruins for a late morning early afternoon romp. It will be awhile before they will be able to get out again. You may wonder "why he takes so many pictures of the dogs?" "Always the dogs swimming or retrieving sticks." "Always endearing cute photos." The reason is that I truly love them. And they reflect that emotion back to me in many ways. Dedication is one. They always know where I am when we are out. They come to me when I call, sort of, and they stay close when we stop. They even come to me when they hurt or feel bad. Each one has his or her own personality and I know them well. Douglas, the golden retreiver, was the first. He's been with me since he was about three months old. He is the most dominent of the group and I allow it to be so. He was a rescue dog and spent a year on a TWRA boat with me every day. Shade is also a rescue dog. I found her abandoned on a island in the middle of a lake. She was waiting patiently for her family to come back and get her. Of course they never did. Her "family" removed her collar and let her off and left. I found her on a spur of the moment camping trip by boat with Douglas. Hungry and covered with ticks, I took her home. She was adopted by nice folks in Sevierville. She was dearly missed by myself and the other dogs. Tears were shed. The outings were not the same. Then the lady who adopted Shade called when she read the blog and offered Shade back. I drove to Sevierville and got her back. She is clumsey and needs training but a more loving dog can not be found on this earth. She knows. She knows and show's it to me. And Happy; well, she was in a fenced yard with rescue puppies. She was a little bigger then them and the puppies were tormenting her. I broke her out and let her mix with Douglas. She bonded tightly with me. There are others residing with me both permanent and temporary but these three are the main characters. Many more will come and go as I intend to continue fostering them. So why all the pictures and the clips? Well, someday each one will pass on. Each one will leave a hole in the family and in my heart. I hope to be able to be with each when their time comes and reflect their trust and love for me back to them so that the trauma of uncertainty that each will have can be diminished with my closeness and presence. All these photos represent my selfishness and human frailty. They will face their passing with dignity and resign; whereas I will face it with sorrow and an inability to let go. Hence the photos and movies. It's a human thing. Hold on to everything. My friends, Douglas, Shade and Happy will one by one leave me. My job is to make that passing as comfortable as possible for each of them. It will be my most difficult life's task. Letting go. The rains are eroding the McGee Carson home foundation causing the bricks to fall away. Time is not a friend to antiquity or people.


click picture to enlarge
I've had minor run ins with chiggers before at primitive Tennessee campsites but never like this. The camp Douglas, Happy and I shared on the lake two days ago included another unwanted, unseen guest. Yep; the chigger family. Chiggers make ticks look like school kids. They are deceiving in their attacks as the victim has no idea of their presence because the bite of the chigger goes undetected for up to twelve hours. They are so small they can't be seen without a magnifier. They do not bore under the skin and stay for days as I have been told by old timers. The adolescence stage of the chigger is the culprit. They emerge from the soil in sixty degree and above weather and climb tall plants in wait for a passing host. In my case it was me who would play host. They drop onto the victim as he brushes the plant in passing, or they can climb up the trouser leg and can even penetrate loosely knitted clothing. The bite itself goes unnoticed. The bad part of the bite is when the little devil inserts his proboscis into a hair follicle to feed, it introduces a saliva that actually deteriorates the Host tissue and liquefies the flesh. Then the imp sucks up the liquefied flesh and literally drinks from the Host. The injected saliva stays active in the bite area even when the chigger is dislodged. This material causes intense itching. The area can itch for days and up to over a week until the host body can create enzymes to neutralize the toxic serum. Scratching will easily dislodge the chiggers but only after the harm is done. I have included a link to a site all about chiggers. If you are a camper in Tennessee, you may want to update your outdoor skills combating insects. I have camped all my life in Pennsylvania and across this country and have never had experiences with chiggers until now. Believe me; they are not a welcome guest. I believe that Happy, who insists on sleeping with me came in the tent and laid down next to me thereby introducing the chigger to my bedding material. Stupid on my part. I'll know better next time. The link indicates precautions to take and the proper chemicals to apply to clothing. Deets is not the chemical of choice. Promethean is. It's pouring rain out now and I have to get the dogs to the woods for a little R&R. Today is my last day of vacation until September and I want them to have this last day as theirs. So I'll gather up a couple tubes of Cortisone and be on my way.

Friday, July 25, 2008


click pictures to enlarge I had a guilt complex about not spending time with my little friends, Douglas and Happy, so when I got home yesterday from the Holocaust Boxcar visit I gathered up Happy and Douglas and headed for a camp spot on Tellico Lake. Happy has had the unfortunate ability to fall off the boat so I had to order her a life vest. There are a couple pictures of her flaunting her beauty while wearing this new garb. The vest has a handle on top and all I have to do to retrieve her is reach over the side of the boat and pick her up like a suit case. Pretty neat! I think Douglas crowds her off to the side too close to the edge and she plops on over. Her feet are small and she has a problem finding purchase. I found a really secluded spot back in a cove that would serve just perfectly. It had a sandy beach and open spots to erect a tent. I had ideas of reading but the lake was so beautiful, I simply stared. Sweet Douglas stayed close all night. He and Happy swam constantly even at night. Happy became a nuisance as she insists on being all over me, even in the tent. I watched the sun dissolve and the night appear totally. There were stars but an overcast sky pushed them gently away leaving interesting dark shadows. And still my kids stayed with me My friend was tired. It's a big job acting as first mate on a vessel. Big responsibility. He's beautiful even when napping. He's a good first mate. He is checking the tether to the boat before another nap. He will spend the night just outside the door to my tent. He is also a guard dog. He hears all. Misses nothing. He is a comfort to have at night in a strange place. The rain patted against the tent roof and made me fall into a deep sleep. I was awakened by a cold nose against the back of my hand. Happy! Little happy just had to spend the night on the edge of my sleeping bag. I have some great friends! We were up early and on the lake for a morning run about before heading for the loading dock. This sunrise alone makes the camping effort worth it. I saw this modest shack and thought about buying it as a rental income. But thought better of it. I don't like the color. How much is enough?

Thursday, July 24, 2008


click picture to enlarge There were 97 of them in the boxcar. They have been on the rails for two days and now the car has been sitting on this side rail for another day and a night. It will continue on its journey in the morning. The people, men, women, children, old and young alike were packed tightly into the boxcar. They stood facing the end of the inside wall; row after row of them. Chests pressed against backs; chins resting upon the shoulders in front of them; the small children placed standing between the spread legs of a standing parent. Impossible to lay down; they slept standing; those that could. The boards that comprised the sides and ends of the boxcar were tightly fitted and allowed little fresh air into the car. Defecation and urine flowed freely over the floor creating a greasy surface. No matter though. It was impossible to slip and fall down. They had been sealed inside the car for three and a half days. The putrid stench was intolerable. Quiet sobs were punctuated with loud shrieks of terror telling the tale of torment the occupants were undergoing. A voice exclaiming "how much can we endure?" And a return comment; "Hold on, we should make it to Auschwitz sometime tomorrow." "Just hold on." "We'll be all right." He turned his head toward the chin resting on his left shoulder and peered into the wide open, unseeing, eyes of his seventy year old father. He could not even raise his hands to his father's face. He could do nothing but weep; and pray they made it to Auschwitz and fresh air and water. Auschwitz; the promised land. In 1998 Whitwell School students started collecting paper clips to represent the six million people who died in the Holocaust. The accumulated 29 million paper clips that were donated by companies and individuals. This extremely rare, original railroad cattle car that transported victims to the death camps was procured from Germany and set up in Whitwell. Half the rail car was filled with eleven million paper clips, representing 11 million World War II casualties. The Holocaust Memorial Rail car was dedicated in 2001. I gleened this information from the "Paper Clips" web site. Can you imagine 100 people jambed into this boxcar? It happened. The sun is bright and it is hot out. Birds are everywhere and a breeze is blowing. My mind can not resist wondering what the occupants were feeling during their terror ride to Auschwitz. How tight the boards are! Can you get some sense of what the ride must have been like? The horror and terror are impossible to comprehend! This world is not a perfect place. Nor will it ever be a perfect place. But this type event must never, ever be permitted to take place again. Never. At any cost and at any sacrifice; this must never occur again. They truly were the persecuted and the damed.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


The last peg is in . I'm ready for any weather now. Tuesday, July 22nd finds me once again at the Blue Ridge Motorcycle campground. I am enjoying a vacation and the weather was stifling in the valley where I live, so I opted to spend a day on the mountain and catch up on my reading. The sky was sunny when I left home but quickly darkened as I gained altitude on the Blue Ridge. The fickle Blue Ridge Mountains; they can't decide to be happy and sunny or blue and forlorn. It is 3:30 PM and a gentle shower is steadily falling. I am sitting on a covered swing near the trout pond listening to the rain pattering on the tin roof over me. The tapping of rain on the metal coinsides with the gentle rhythm of falling water as it touches down onto the surface of the pond. Everything smells fresh and clean. The passing breeze carries the fragrance of pine to me. The rain is quickening now and tiny song birds are darting from tree to tree avoiding the rain One little bird chirps incessantly. He will not give up. It seems the harder it rains, the louder he chirps. Occasionally he will ruffle up his feathers and shake himself madly to rid himself of the water on his feathers. A Kingfisher darts wildly toward an exceptionally green hardwood and dissappears into the foilage. There is so much to observe if one would only slow down and see. People in a hurry look; but they do not see. Too many schedules. Too many places to get to. It is better to see what you're looking at rather than look at what you're seeing. Sort of like a car at an intersection whose driver looks both ways, pulls out and is hit by an on coming truck. He looked both ways, but did not see anything. He should have seen the truck coming. Anyway, I guess one must be inclined toward things natural in order to "see" and enjoy them. I do wish Douglas was here with me. I want him here walking about sniffing new things and laying here by the swing I'm sitting on. I truly enjoy making him happy. Each time I go on an overnight on the motorcycle, I get a guilt feeling. He watches me intently as I strap the tent and sleeping bag on the bike. He knows that when I put the helmet on he is not going. I open the gate, walk through it and step to the bike and look back. He is lying on his stomach with both front paws extended to the front. His chin rests on his fore legs and he stares at me. As I drive away, he doesn't move. He lies there watching until I am out of sight. He touches my heart, that dog! If I put my fedora on my head and grab my camera he becomes excited and emits low happy growls. He knows he's going to the woods or to the lake. I will take him to Chilhowee Lake with me on the boat tomorrow when I get home. I miss him so much. My little boy and dear friend. Tennessee conjors up mental pictures of Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett, log cabins and corn fields surrounded by forests; endless, beautiful Blue Ridge mountains hemmed in with fog; men dressed in coverall jeans with shoulder straps and shirtless, plowing fields or chopping down trees. The truth is that even though Tennessee, especially East Tennessee, is undergoing a population explosion caused by the migration of folks from other states; real, authentic "people of the earth" Tennesseans can be found on the perimeters of the up scale establishment. A drive on the back roads near the mountains will unveil the real Tennessee. Some roads will carry one to what seems like another time. Aged buildings propped up and wired together are still used for storage and as cattle barns or grain and hay storage The old wood shake roofs have long rotted away and have been replaced by tin. The tin in many cases , is rusting away it is so old. Many of the old barns are collapsed, yet still one can see fresh mowed hay under the fallen roofs. They use it until it is no more. Money is scarce. It seems as though nothing is thrown away. These old barns and cabins, fields of hay and grain and an old 30 year old John Deere tractors lend a flavor to the word Tennessee that can actually be tasted. Dollywood, Sevierville and their associated traffic jambs and tourists attractions are not Tennessee in my mind. They are an expanded Disneyworld gone whild. They are designed to attract tourists. And thats OK.. There's nothing wrong with collecting a tourist dollar or two. But it saddens me to think that the tourist impression of Tennessee is founded upon their experience at Pigeon Forge, Cherokee and Gatlinburg. Tennessee to me is Davy Crockett who was butchered at the Alamo in a cowerdly fashion by Mexicans. It is Alvin York who single handedly captured a company of German soldiers and silenced more than one machine gun nest alone during WWII. She is Daniel Boone leading pioneer family's through the Cumberland Gap and she is the American family hacking their way across a wilderness bearing their children along the way. Her ground became sacred after thousands of Blue and Gray fell on her grasses in a most horrible war! I wish the tourists could read the inscriptions on cemetery tombstones. They are inscribed by proud people. People of the earth People who are not embarrassed to write on marble for all to see, their heart felt thoughts. Tennessee has captured my imagination and my heart. It still holds untouched wild country hidden off the tourist path. But the places will not stay wild forever. The relentless land speculators are intruding into Tennessee's wild places at an alarming rate of speed. The dollar rules in this day and age. The wilderness will fall someday for sure. Not in my life time, I'm happy to say. But it will be diminished to small tracts of wild places, like in Pennsylvania. But, then, thats progress. I'll roam the lakes and mountains with Douglas until I can not any longer. And that will be the start of another story. The Magic Carpet

Monday, July 21, 2008


Scruffy Scruffy, my newest little rescue dog, has a serious hair loss problem that is not due to fleas or mites. I couldn't figure it out. I packed him into the truck and ran him to the vet. They wanted to keep him until 3 PM. I figured this would be a great time to put the Gheenoe in the lake and try to get some Osprey and Cormorant photos. I could be back at the vet's in perfect time. The lake is only ten minutes from the doctor's office. By the way; Scruffy received a sulfur dip bath that sooths the skin and kills anything on it. Skin scrapes were negative so indications are that he is a hyper little dog and reacting to a nervous condition. I was given medication for him and I have complete faith in the doctors at Countryside Veterinary. I am on vacation this week and the first day of that vacation was caring for a little dog. Of course I did make the most of it with the boat ride. I find it impossible to be on the lake during weekends as the jet ski's and ski boats are very plentiful. They turn the water surface to froth. And there are an amazing collection of all sorts of mentalities out there on the water combined with varying degree's of boating expertise. Weekends on the lake can be interesting. For me; it is totally frustrating! But I was hunting for Cormorants and Osprey's. And I found them. By the way; Osprey's are commonly called fish eagles. They are Osprey's. They are majestic, wild and reflect all that has been lost that was once natural. They are our heritage. They appear proud and they ARE proud. I hope you enjoy the pictures. Someday I'll get a great camera that will take crisp, clear photo's while set on telephoto. I apologize for any grainy shots. Click the photo to enlarge This is a favorite rock face I used to hang out around . Beautiful. Well, it was ......Look at it below. People just can't look and not touch. And with people comes the idiot's...... I ask ya; is this not peaceful? What would be a ride on the lake without mimosa trees? Oh; I'm on a spur of the Little River. Remember it from my TWRA days Where am I? Who cares? Reflections The water is like a mirror up here Little River is a quiet, peaceful tributary Little River. It is a river that empties into the Fort Loudoun Lake A face only a mother could love A handsome fellow he is Great Blue Heron Sure don't want to hit that Floating danger. This is what makes night boating dicy at best Mixed up wings. A pair of cormorants took flight simultaneously confusing the photo. Just hanging out I got really close to this cormorant and he took flight just as I pressed the shutter button. The boat was rocking and I didn't get him in the center. But I'll settle for this shot Into the air In Flight Cormorant with wings raised to dry them. He is standing on a snag Their mouths are open to relieve themselves of heat. The frequently will raise their wings open in order to dry their feathers. Cormorants do not have the natural oil secretion that ducks and other water birds have to make their feathers water proof . They must dry out on nature's clothes line. The cormorant brothers preparing for the next show The Osprey..... What a wonderful bird to observe! The lake is a dream place if one just looks around He's watching me like a hawk. Huummmm! Mom airing and drying her wing feathers. He is the King of the Lakes - Accept when Bald Eagles are about The Watcher Magnificent! Keeping a watchful eye Taking Flight. And look at those talons! Floating on air - Literally An amazing bird in flight A Pass over the boat Osprey in graceful flight