Here, I get to spout off on all of my passions: Photography, Travel, sports, wine, etc.
Included is my blog on Hurricane Katrina, the worst natural disaster to ever hit the United States.
Table of Contents
Doomsday Prepping my way
For Photographers Only
The Five B’s
Learn about Mt. Mitchell
Mon Petit Hawaii
Steps to Nowhere – Katrina
Katrina Knocking at My Door
Let’s Talk Pro Football
Superbowl XLII – The Winners
Summer Means Red Sox!!
Bordeaux vs Napa Cabs - The Claim to Fame
Tasty Cousins, Indeed
The Biltmore House; an American Castle
Hi y'all! So... I've been watching "Doomsday Preppers". And I think they are a bunch of nuts. But I have to admit it got me thinking. Now I live on the Gulf Coast so I am no stranger to prepping for disaster and I think having the two worst hurricanes that have ever hit the US, hit here makes me not so irrational to prep a bit. So I have always had water, alcohol, bleach, candles, lanterns, canned foods, batteries and things of that nature on hand toward August when the bad boys start coming our way.
So my prepping is still geared toward hurricanes, but I have added another one: Rampant inflation. So it is best to stockpile the number one thing: Money. Invest wisely and know that investing in the stock market is not wise. Neither is hiding it in your home. Green American dollars are rapidly becoming worthless, so better put those greenbacks into gold and silver. Jewelry is still a good idea though it has already gone up a good bit due to the gold and silver markets. Silver is a better buy than gold now. (3-2012) Also though, just buy those things that will keep, that will will go up in price due to gasoline going up. Trucks use gas and they bring merchandise to your stores. We pay the extra gas cost. Have you noticed that your grocery bill is ridiculous? Have you also noted that your cans and boxes of food are smaller?
Have you ever been to other countries and seen how small all of their packaging is? That is because if the cans were any bigger, the would not even be affordable to some! Hang on, we are going there. In Europe, gas is sold by the liter for the same reason, so people aren't floored by the sticker shock.
So what am I stockpiling? So far - Lightbulbs, paper towels, kleenex, napkins, toilet paper, paper plates.
Organic veggies from my garden: green peas, black eyed peas, green beans, okra, tomatoes, corn, squash, jalapeños, parsley, thyme, and marjoram.
We are growing Bream in our pond so in a year they should be eating size. No better way to stay healthy than with fish. However a big storm with lots of surge will bring brackish water into our pond and possibly kill our 2000 Bream.
We have a deer feeder and i fiercely protect our babies, but in case of emergency, we may have to kill and eat one or two. I rue that day and feel that those chances are slim to none.
Canned goods including tuna and various veggies. Flour, rice, artificial sweetener, sugar, balsamic vinegar (yes really the way I go through it) olive oil, salt n pepper, other spices. They keep about three years so I won't save more than I need.
I also have extra sheets, blankets, towels and other items I know I will need in the future. I am just starting this and I have to be careful not to waste space on that which I may not need. I am lucky to have lots of storage space in my home, but if there is a hurricane, some of this will get ruined. My home got 5 feet of water in Katrina. Not good and stupid of me to live here. But I do.
Of course in my case, the very most important thing to prepare for a hurricane is to make sure my generator will power up properly when needed. If I have enough gas for it, I should be ok for a couple of weeks and have enough power to have AC and lights in all but guest rooms and pool house.
But back to the inflation prepping, Get your wine cellar full of the good stuff! You might want a nice full liquor cabinet. At least you will go down happy.
I haven't started buying clothing yet. You have to be careful not to get clothes that will be dated so classics are best. Underwear and socks are easy to stash. Shoes are harder so I may just take my chances on them.
Office supplies - iPads, iPhones are always going to be needed but are still rapidly changing so if you are like me and have to have the best, just suck it up and buy when they come out. Computers are not changing so much any more so that is a safe investment. I just ordered new cameras so mine will be the latest and greatest for a while. Yes, I paid a crazily inflated price for both.
Sadly pharmaceuticals have gone up dramatically already. One counter is to look for online sources instead of drugstores. You can get three month supplies some places and avoid so many co-pays. You might want to look at what you are taking also and see what you can eliminate. Exercise and eat healthy and shed the pills!
Well enough for now, but I will keep you posted on here in a month or so. Happy stockpiling, it really is fun once you get into it.
For Photographers only (Cheap advertising)
I am pleased to announce that in the month of November 2007, my first month,I received 130,000 hitson my website!! Unbelievable. Since then I have between 80,000 and 160,000 hits!!! Thank you so very much for your support and I pray that each one of you is blessed by what you see. Please leave comments and criticism. All is greatly appreciated and your input is so very important to me.
September 04, 2007
The Five B's
The five B's would be Barb, Brooke, Boone, Blowing Rock and Banner Elk.
I have to leave these gorgeous North Carolina Mountains tomorrow after a wonderful month of pure enjoyment. My parents' roots are here and I belong here.(Someday I will live here). I am probably going to ruin today due to excessive worry over tomorrow. But Jesus says, "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." - Matthew 6:25.
[time has passed]
Ugh, we just got back from the Daniel Boone Inn where we were served family style:
Fried Chicken, Salisbury Steak, Ham biscuits, green beans, corn, mashed potatos, gravy, baked apples, slaw, green salad, and a choice of dessert; chocolate cake with fudge sauce, strawberry short cake, or banana pudding.
It was absolutely delicious and I am fat and happy. We are going off again to see the gorgeous day that is laid before us.
Well, the point of the blog is to try to convey just how much I love this place. The beautiful greens, grays and blues with dappled yellows from the sun are so crisp and vivid. The humidity is very low so it is clean and clear. There is a cool in the air and when I am in the sun, it is warm and cool at the same time. A few leaves are falling, a sure signal that autumn is already here. Song fills the air as the birds and locusts chirp and crow for mates and just want us to know they are here. The beautiful bright red Cardinal which is the state bird of North Carolina darts about the front yard. I see the perfectly executed work of a spider from last night's web. (Of course you all know that creeps me out.)
A more perfect day cannot be found. My wish for everyone is to be able to experience such loveliness.
Please go to my High Country photos and see a small fraction of what I am able to experience. Then come up here yourself someday and see heaven.
This photo has been done by many photographers. It is the Linn Cove Viaduct in Blowing Rock, NC
This Viaduct is a 1243-foot concrete segmental bridge which snakes around the slopes of Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina. It was completed in 1983 at a cost of $10 million and was the last section of the Blue Ridge Parkway to be finished. It is said to be the most complicated concrete bridge ever built. The bridge has received eleven design awards.
Love you all!!
Bye for now
September 13, 2007
Learn about Mount Mitchell
Mount Mitchell is the highest peak of the Appalachian Mountains and the highest peak in eastern North America, excluding island summits. The nearest higher point on the North American continent is Harney Peak in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Mount Mitchell is located near Burnsville in Yancey County, North Carolina, in the Black Mountain subrange of the Appalachians, and about (25 mi) north of Asheville. It is protected by Mount Mitchell State Park and surrounded by the Pisgah National Forest.
The mountain was named after Elisha Mitchell, a professor at the University of North Carolina, who determined its height in 1835 and fell to his death at nearby Mitchell Falls in 1857, having returned to verify his earlier measurements.
The ascent of Mount Mitchell is now rather easy, since a road off the historic and scenic Blue Ridge Parkway runs nearby, and a (980 ft) trail leads through a conifer forest to the top. The summit once featured a 40 ft stone observation tower, which was torn down in late 2006 and is being replaced by a shorter observation platform. Also at the summit is the tomb of Dr. Mitchell.
The weather on Mount Mitchell is very mild in the summer and very harsh in the winter, more like Maine or southeastern Canada than the southeastern U.S. In 1985, the coldest temperature ever recorded in the state occurred there on January 21 when it fell to -34°F, during a severe cold spell that brought freezing temperatures as far south as Miami. It is also the coldest average reporting station in the state at 43.8°F which is well below any other station. Unlike the lower elevations in the surrounding regions, heavy snows often fall from December to March, with 50 inches accumulating in the Great Blizzard of 1993. The summit is often windy, with the record being 178 MPH.
The high elevations also expose plant life to high levels of pollution, including acid precipitation – rain, snow, and fog with very low pH. These acids damage the spruce and fir trees particularly badly, in part by releasing natural metals from the soil like aluminum, and by leaching important minerals. This stress also reduces the trees' resistance and immunity to insects, especially to non-native introduced pests like the Balsam woolly adelgid (aphid).
While the mountain is still mostly lush and green in the summer, many dead trunks can be seen due to these serious problems. Repairing the damage is a difficult issue, as the pollutants are often carried in from long distances. Sources can be local or hundreds of miles or kilometers away, requiring cooperation from as far away as the Midwest.
Still, hundreds of tourists visit the peak each spring through autumn, for its incredible views and sunsets. Wildflowers are abundant all summer long. Young fir and spruce trees do well in the subalpine climate, and their pine cones feed the birds along with wild blueberry and cranberry shrubs. For visitors, a snack bar more palatable for humans is also available at the summit parking lot.
Report by Wikipedia.
September 29, 2007
Mon Petit Hawaii
Having been to Maui, I had no idea how much I had missed of Hawaii until now, coming to Oahu. Honolulu is the capital of Hawaii and is next door to Waikiki where we are staying.
We toured the island today and I have to say that I was shocked at how green, lush and tropical it is. I have been to a majority of the Carribbean Islands and this is a lot prettier!! Yes, really.
The changes of scenery around every corner kept me gasping. And kept my shutter clicking.
We saw where world class surfers hang out.
We saw where many movies have been made. "Jurassic Park", "Pearl Harbor", "Godzilla", "Windwalkers", "50 First Dates", "Hawaii 5-0", "Magnum PI", and many more were filmed here. Most recently, "Lost".
We saw a stunning large city (Honolulu), among the prettiest cities I have seen anywhere in the world. It still manages to be tropical in the midst of architecturally beautiful skyscrapers. Waikiki is a little niche of beach right next to Honolulu, indistinguishable actually.
Please look at my Hawaii galleries and you'll be glad u did.
October 07, 2005
Steps to Nowhere
Katrina Recovery Talk
Thank you very much for your concern over the destruction that Katrina wreaked. It was everything you heard and saw and more. We are still recovering. The reason that we are as far down the path to wholeness again is God's people. The volunteers are still coming!!! We house around 50 and sometimes up to 70 volunteers in our church every week. We provide food and people to cook for them and housing in classrooms. We have a very few portable showers for them too. It is a rough life for them, but these saints (yes!!) return again and again. They use their precious vacation time to come down here. It amazes us. And the best part is that they thank us for letting them come!!! WOW.
In my neighborhood, the recovery is just about complete, but going to other areas of the Gulf Coast, it is still very depressing. I still have a hard time riding down Hwy 90, (the beach). Almost everything is gone and only 6 or 7 houses have been built back, and I am talking about 26 miles of beach that used to be packed with beautiful antebellum homes and restaurants, hotels and casinos.
The casinos are coming back and going strong. With them, they at least bring money and jobs again. I am not a gambler, myself, but I do go to some of the restaurants occasionally. So far there is: Island View, which is locally owned and has an Emeril’s Restaurant in it, Hollywood Casino, The Palace, Boomtown, The Imperial Palace, The Broadwater (not up), The Grand Casino Biloxi, The Isle of Capri, Treasure Bay, The Beau Rivage, and the newest casino: The Hard Rock. This is a few less than pre-K, but they and more will come in the near future. Donald Trump is still looking for a spot. Point Cadet in Biloxi is being developed into a nest of casinos, shopping and eateries.
The Mississippi Gulf Coast is progressing much faster than New Orleans. There are a couple of reasons for this. As you know, the actual hurricane did very little damage over there as the high winds and huge waves were in Mississippi. It wasn't until the levees failed, that the lower areas of New Orleans like the now famous Lower Ninth Ward flooded. The areas that were flooded there were the low and no-income areas. These people did not have insurance nor money to build back. Lots of the area was government housing and unfortunately the state of Louisiana is not equipped with enough money to put these apartments back yet. Another unfortunate complication is that their government is severely inadequate in honest, competent leadership. There has always been a lot of corruption and while I think it is better now, there is not a lot of gray matter there.
In contrast, on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, the damage was most severe near our beaches and bayous, lakes and rivers.
As you know, the only people that can afford property on water these days are the upper middle to upper class. These people did have insurance which should have paid for them to build back. State Farm, Allstate, etc did everything they could to get out of paying what they owed to the people that had paid their premiums in good faith. The state of Miss is working to rectify that and now people are more able to collect. Another problem is many people didn't have insurance for flooding, only wind damage. They had been advised by their insurance agent not to buy it because they may have not been in a flood zone and the agent assumed he was doing them a favor by saving them unnecessary premiums. Not anyone's fault really. But now what do they do? The state is stepping in and working for government insurance programs. Complex and I really don't understand it, so forgive me.
Mississippi's Governor, Haley Barbour sprang into action immediately and still is working hard to make sure our state does recover. He is also having to deal with the damage in the rest of the state because remember that Katrina still packed quite a punch as she moved all the way up through our state. The wind damage was quite extensive.
I am afraid Louisiana's pretty Governor, Kathleen Blanco, is not as capable of getting the job done. And as you all saw, New Orleans Mayor, Ray Nagin, although having done a few positive things for his city, made several mistakes that will be recorded in infamy forever.
I live 70 miles from New Orleans. We MGC dwellers think of ourselves as being a part of that great city. We eat like they do, we celebrate Mardis Gras like they do, and many of us talk like they do. We have relatives and roots there. In short, we love N’Awlins. I thank God the French Quarter is fine, as is the Garden District. These are the top tourist areas in New Orleans so please come and tell your friends that it is as they remembered and really need tourists back again. It is coming back slowly, but they need more.
The faith of our citizens has risen since the disaster as we have seen such an outpouring of love from the rest of the country. You will never know how much it has meant to us.
We thank you and assure you that in times of strife in your towns we will be there to help if we can.
To update: Our church housed volunteers up until last month (November 2007!) We had at least 50 every week. You are wonderful!!! Bay St. Louis, Waveland are almost not in existence any more even now, 2 1/2 years later. Pass Christian and Long Beach are also still devastated. Gulfport and Biloxi are coming along well though. Going through Back Bay Biloxi, you may not think so, but most parts are much better off. The casinos are back up and running and we already have more than Atlantic City. The citizens of Mississippi will not give up. We celebrate Mardis Gras just like New Orleans and are in full swing with parades and Balls when the time comes! Come on down!!
To everyone who has come down here to my home to rebuild and nourish us with food and the Holy Spirit, I genuinely thank you. Without the Southern Baptists and other church groups like you, we would not be nearly as whole as we are now. There were more of your group than any other!! It is now April 2008 and we are still at least 10 years from being right again. And we will never be the same. We have lost a lot of our history here on the coast. All of our old historic homes and buildings are gone. We can never get that back. note: Volunteers from all over the country are helping to rebuild Jefferson Davis, The President of the Confederacy's last home, "Beauvoir". Can you imagine the love being shown to us to do that? They are powerful witnesses for Christ.
I am so humbled by the efforts of so many to sacrifice your vacations to come here and have poor accomodations, get hot and sweaty and dirty and sometimes even injured to help someone less fortunate. We didn't ask for this disaster to come. We never saw this kind of devastation as even a possibility. The United States has never seen this before. But because of volunteers, we are on our journey to wholeness again.
Many people have asked me to post my personal experiences with the worst natural disaster to ever hit the United States.
My house held up well because it was well made to start with and it is 21 ft. above sea level. The Bayou water came close to the eedge of the front yard and no further. I lost 18 out of 21 large trees. Fence, some roof, lots of leaks. My daughter lost her home. My In-Laws lost their home. My three best friends lost theirs too. Our businesses suffered huge damages. But we set up a clothing station there. We housed the homeless right there in the Toyota dealership. We did what we could. My daughter sat in our front yard with a shotgun guarding the house for a few days and turned would-be looters away. (and the bad element was not nearly what it was in New Orleans.) The wind was sustained at 128 for at least two hours. That is almost a category 4 storm. We survived Hurricane Elena in the 80s and it was a category 3. This was not even close to being the same event. This was like the wrath from Hell. At the peak of the storm, we all sat in the great room petrified and praying. Before I went to sleep the night before, I was reading the Bible and praying. The Lord gave me a peace that we would be fine. I was able to sleep because of that. At 4:30, the sound of a jet plane taking off awakened me. (I guess I slept through the freight train stage.) It had begun. By 9:00 my trees were down. It raged on until noon and then escalated even more. The eye was upon us. We never got the relief from the eye as it was to the west of us. We were in the deadly right quadrant. So we rode the worst of it. My house was built by an engineer that builds bridges and the struture is incredibly strong. But the French doors began to bow in on the south side. We have 5 sets of them. I tried to scream and nothing came out but a raspy sound. I think I was having a panic attack. My husband quickly put boards on them from the inside. They held. We cried from the sheer weight of the fear, and then I gave gratitude to God that our house was not destroyed.
After the wind died down that afternoon, we went outside to take stock. The wind lifted my daughter and me off the ground but we held onto a tree! We looked at our neighborhood now mostly underwater. One 4,000 sq ft house had left its lot and had floated the bayou and come to rest in someone's back yard. (Oz?)
It wasn't until the next day that we could cut up and remove the trees blocking the driveway. We couldn't pass most of the streets, but everywhere were citizens out doing what they could. Some with chainsaws, children carrying small branches away. I saw a piano in a tree and a BMW in a street pipe that is usually buried. I saw boats in the graveyard. I saw what was once our beachfront. There was nothing left. Nothing. Like it had never existed, except for the slab. Steps to nowhere. I need to stop crying so I will stop here.
Thank you one and all that helped us. My church housed at least 60 volunteers every week until last Christmas. Some coming many times. What a ministry. We loved all of you and always will.
If you email me, please put Katrina-Gulfport in the subject line so I will know it isn't junk.
I have extensive pictures of Hurricane Katrina on this website under the category of Hurricanes.
So glad the Saints were the 2010 Super Bowl Winners!!! Drew Brees and Sean Peyton and the receivers were all spot on!
GUEST BLOG ON PHOTOGRAPHY
by Bill Coberly
I think good photography begins to happen when there is a personal necessity to display your way of seeing something and the skill to capture it in the way you want to show it.
We all see things that other people don’t…we see them in a way that is unique to our understanding, perspective and sense of esthetics. Some people have a passion to find a way to communicate….they need to create from within their selves through a medium like poetry, music, story telling dancing and painting or in some cases like you and I…photography.
Aperture and shutter speed among other things are essential knowledge. Using these features literally defines the difference between a snap shooter and a serious photographer who is painting a picture with great deliberation and has knowledge of lenses and light. It is all very much about the light. The same image can go from drab to spectacular as the light changes.
There is at least as much to know and as much creative effort that goes into good photographs as goes into a good painting.
But it is not so much work as a journey of discovery. Another difference between a photographer and a snap shooter, and perhaps the biggest is that a photographer often goes out before dawn to a predetermined place, where they have already determined that the scenery is worthy and the right light is available to make it perfect.
Write down the images and places that you want to capture based on personal knowledge, make plans and time to go to these places and wait for the best light. That time will always be when the Kelvin temp of the light is warmed by an oblique entry into our atmosphere shortly before and after sunrise and sunset. There are 12-15 minutes in every day that is magic. The light will be perfect, shadows will be defused and colors will be alive.
If you are a snap shooter that knows how to use your equipment you will take pictures of the things you see while you are doing other things beside photography. Nothing wrong with that. I carry a camera when I am sight seeing and often get worthwhile shots.
But for me photography happens when I am doing nothing else. I am on a mission that has a goal to get good pictures and that is the only thing I am focused on. I will go out for an entire day to shoot. It is the purpose of the day. That is an important distinction to make between casual and serious photography. More often than not I shoot by my self although I enjoy company if they understand the mission; few things are worse than standing in the cold feeling miserable while someone else is buzzing around in shirt sleeves just begging time for a few more shots. I won’t want to put someone through that agony. I do have a few friends that will join the shoot with the kind of dedication that inspires me to do better but I have a great time spending the day shooting by my self too.
If you really want to improve your skills then my suggestion is to schedule photo shoots as often as you can. If it becomes like work or something that you must discipline yourself to do, then don’t worry about it; photography at that level is not what you really want. If you are drawn to a place or an object or event because you are inspired to capture in and interpret it as you see it,if time goes into slow motion and your mind and creativity become alive and focused and you begin to see the image in a way that you did not previously imagine; as more beautiful and meaningful as you proceed with your investigation of its nature, then if it occurs to you in the process that you are seeing something with beauty and meaning that transcend any of your other abilities to communicate your experience except through photography, then congratulations...you are among the brothers and the sisters who are compelled to express their deepest inner selves through photography. It is then the chosen language of your spirit.
Being a serious photographer alters the way you see the world. You look for and find the beautiful and profound images in the world. There are sure a lot of worse ways to go through life than having constant radar out for meaningful images.
Be careful about this though. If you start blacking out in camera stores and wake up in alleys laying face down with lenses and filters all around you…..well then you may have gone too far. ;)
Bill Coberly, Photographer, new friend, Salem Oregon
****Thank you Bill, for saying this to me and inspiring me to go further than I had gone before. Forever grateful.