where I'd rather be

Submitted by Susan Miller on Mon, 03/10/2008 - 19:31.

This is the Gibson Inn in Apalachicola, Florida. My sister bought a house in Apalach several years ago on a dead end street called Apaco. It is off a short also deadend street called Shadow Lane. Shadow Lane is so named because all along it there are these 200 year old water oaks laden with Spanish Moss - it is one of those canopied roads you imagine from stories of the deep south. This is where I retreat. This is where I go to relax and breathe in the salt air, bathe in the salt water and slow down to a southern pace.

I grew up amid one of the last remaining longleaf pine forests in the US right near Eglin Air Force Base. I had no idea then that I was one of the few lucky ones who was able to watch long leaf pines glistening in the sunlight. I come from a place where you don't need asphalt to see the heat above the surface of the ground; you can see it even on a windy, sandy beach. The place seems like a mirage in so many ways.

In the evenings, local folks gather on this porch (pictured above) - the Gibson Inn, to watch the sunset and share stories of the day. You can smell the fishing boat's catch being hauled in and later share in the repast (once it's been gussied up by a world class chef). Oysters abound in the Apalachicola Bay and St. George Island is the barrier, white and teeming with ocean life on one side, brown and teeming with bay life on the other.


At night the stars come out and dance their way across clear skies (no one leaves their outside lights on), in the afternoons you can see funnel clouds forming or the rain moving across the Gulf of Mexico. The population is tiny, the folks plain, the rain serious. The grocery is called Piggly Wiggly, the Café is Café Con Leche, the restaurants called The Owl, The Grill, the Theater is called The Dixie (named after the daughter of a former artistic director of the Cleveland Play House). There is an old fashioned soda fountain there in a tourist trap where you can buy flip flops and sunscreen and postcards. This is old Florida, the Florida I love. Here you sit on the screened porch at night and listen to the crickets crickin".



Here you are healed by the salt waters of the Gulf, your feet are scrubbed by the sandy beaches, your skin is coated with salt even from the breeze. Here you watch for bears and rattle snakes and tortoises crossing the road as you drive northeast toward Tallahassee passing Wakulla Springs and the roadside vendors selling Tupelo Honey and garden produce.

( click here to see Joe Cook's photos of tupelo trees on Owl Creek Apalcicola River)


Here the NYTimes discovered what I have always known; the panhandle is the last of old Florida. Shhhhh… we don’t want too many to learn about it. Dogs run free on the beaches there… shhhh…

( categories: )

Stop it

  You're killing me!

it has its problems, too

Talk about economic development... I would be there but for a job. Now I have done the hang test - worked in a cafe (Stone Oven on Lee for 4 years). But there is little to sustain one here in this paradise. There's a new business there called Carabelle Green Steel Homes I have thought about relocating there and trying to get a job marketing these here. Noted in the video he said "raised up in". The panhandle is part of Wirenet, so they are more advanced than Northeast Ohio to a degree.  Maybe... But more likely I will continue to try to find a job that sustains me here... not easy... and then when I can retire, I'll pack the car and move there. It's slower, friendlier, backward - yes, but in a slow salt warm way. Shhhh... My sister and me -- we'll be riverkeepers for the Apalachicola River one day. We'll be fighting Atlanta - arguing that they cut back on watering their golf courses, their fancy fountains. We'll be promoting sustainable housing for low income people. Maybe we'll build a Solar Cracker House.

watershed problems 1,000 miles due south

Tuesday, March 11, 2008, at 10:00a.m. EST, in Room 2167 of the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, D.C.

The hearing is archived at:  http://transportation.house.gov/hearings/hearingDetail.aspx?NewsID=423/.

Kevin Begos, the Executive Director of the Franklin County Oyster & Seafood Task Force and a member of the Apalachicola River Riparian County Stakeholders Coalition, was selected to testify by the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment.  Begos will speak about the effects of the southeastern drought and the Army Corps of Engineers’ reduced water flow plan on the Apalachicola River and Bay and subsequently on the communities, economies, and industries that depend on those resources.

At the congressional hearing, Begos will be joined by other members of the Apalachicola River Riparian County Stakeholders Coalition:  Joseph (Smokey) Parrish, Franklin County Commissioner; Dave McLain, Coordinator of the Apalachicola River Riparian County Stakeholders Coalition and Senior Policy Director of the Apalachicola Riverkeepers; and Chad Taylor, one of the representatives from Jackson County on the Riparian Coalition.

See, there are water issues everywhere... Bill MacDermott has been documenting the water issues in Atlanta and those same issues flow (or don't when there is little water) right down to the Gulf via the Flint, the Chattahoochee and the Apalachicola Rivers. When Atlanta has a dought, and when all of Georgia and Alabama have drought, when cities, towns and farms all along the river do not conserve, or when they pollute the rivers it all flows right past Apalach into the bay and the Gulf. Apalachicola is a spawning ground for many creatures large and small - it is one of the most productive estuaries in the western hemisphere, but not without fresh water it isn't. This is a similar issue to our own about selling water from the Great Lakes. Here, oystermen and fishermen in Florida fear the loss of industries if the water does not continue to flow as it has for thousands of years.

How presumptive to think we can legislate a river's flow, but we can and do. Look what we did to the Everglades and to New Orleans... shameful...

Protect the Apalachicola or the Cuyahoga or any other river or stream or wetland- they are all critical to our continued healthy existence on the planet. Thanks river keepers, wetland, creek, brook and stream stewards for all you do.

You can never leave..

  Now that you are here and one of US.....you can never leave!

 Speaking of solar--Bill links up to a video that describes how photovoltaic cells are made and then it ends with a brief allusion to :
Amorphous Silicon PV Panels. 
What's the deal?  Which technology is better?

Will we ever see widespread home installations in our lifetime??

water, war, water wars

In this comment on the water crisis at Brewed Fresh Daily, I mentioned my dismay at seeing Congressional Representatives drinking bottled water while listening to testimony about the scarcity of water.

Today especially was hard. The sun came out and I walked around in the backyard with Phoebe my dog and looked for signs of life where the snow had melted. I can see daffodils and crocuses pushing up amidst the brown grass. The broken branches left in the wake of numerous winter storms are strewn around the yard. Small bags that once held corn products, long since casually discarded by litterers stuck in the dried branches of the hedge in the front yard and my own plastic bags, once clothes-pinned to the clothesline on the back porch now blown off into the bushes, got dug out and rinsed for recycling. There are signs of life. I could find muddy leaves of the wintergreen I planted in the front lawn; I saw the tiny mallow leaves crouched around the base of the plant struggling toward the light. Buds were visible on careful inspection of the redbud. But alas, I long for the azaleas that should grace a March morning. I mourn the lack of a long warm cleansing rain, one that tip, tip, tips on the metal rooftop while I sit curled up with a book on the loveseat at the house on Apaco, one that brushes by my skin as I stand smoking on the screened porch there on that dead-end street. It's the middle of nowhere. It might be easier to be there in the middle of nowhere than here. I don't know. But here I was today in my house alone for hours on end, in the middle of nowhere, just Phoebe and me. Today my existence seemed superfluous, extra like grits. If you're gonna be "extra", you may as well be somewhere that's beautiful I thought.

I logged on to realneo and read Roldo's post about the 6 soldiers who died. I had a good cry about the stupidity of war. I even yelled out alone in my house. "WHAT, THE FUCK, IS WRONG WITH US!?!" The dog came to my side. (Thank god for dogs!) I recalled living among those long leaf pines and walking in the woods or riding my bike into the wind, riding faster and faster with each friend whose father or brother or uncle did not come back from Vietnam. I remembered how everyone but me had rushed to see the Deerhunter at the local movie theater. I couldn't do it. My arms had been green with the stains of copper bracelets - the ones we wore when someone's dad was a POW or was MIA. I remembered the anxiety in my parent's voices as they talked behind the closed bedroom door about getting my brother out of the draft. “He would just shoot himself before he even got out of basic training”, my Dad would say. “I know”, my mother would reply. One these occasions I would wander off into the evening to sit by the bayou. I would walk barefoot along the warm asphalt in the moonlight and wonder how long we might all live. Today I wondered that again. How long would I live and where would I die? Would I be here fighting for this watershed or there fighting for that one?

When I have these thoughts I also have a memory of riding bareback behind my high school girlfriend, Deborah on her big horse named Redman. We would ride the trails around the stables and across the landing strip, back along a wooded part of the trail and then out onto the sandy shore of the Chattahoochee Bay. Deb would giggle and I would smile; wind in our faces, the tide lapping gently on the beach. We both moved away. No more late night tea drinking episodes fueled by her British warbride Mom’s pots of tea, no more rides on Redman in the fading light.

Tonight I’ll stay. But I’ll dream of tropical flowers and longleaf pine straw and turkey oaks. And I’ll dream that one day we won’t “study war no more”, that we'll protect and share water.

grits are extra - they're fifty

In case you all have not had the pleasure (and the enlightenment) to hear Laurie Anderson's United States Live, you may have missed the subtle reference to being "extra" in the comment above.

Here ya go:

"LAURIE: How come people from the North are so well organized, industrious, pragmatic and—let’s face it--preppy? And people from the South are so devil-may-care? Every man for himself.


PETER: I know this English guy who was driving around in the South. And he stopped for breakfast one morning somewhere in southeast Georgia. He saw “grits” on the menu. He’d never heard of grits so he asked the waitress, “What are grits, anyway?” She said, “Grits are fifty.” He said, “Yes, but what are they?” She said, “They’re extra.” He said, “Yes, I’ll have the grits, please.”


LAURIE: Over the river and through the woods. Let me see that map.


PETER: A sideshow. A smokescreen. A passing landscape.


LAURIE: I was living out in West Hollywood when the Hollywood Strangler was strangling women. He was strangling women all over town, but he was particularly strangling them in West Hollywood. Every night there was a panel discussion on TV about the strangler--speculations about his habits, his motives, his methods. One thing was clear about him: He only strangled women when they were alone, or with other women. The panel members would always end the show by saying, “Now, for all you women, listen, don’t go outside without a man. Don’t walk out to your car; don’t even take out the garbage by yourself. Always go with a man.” Then one of the eyewitnesses identified a policeman as one of the suspects. The next night, the chief of police was on the panel. He said, “Now, girls, whatever happens, do not stop for a police officer. Stay in your car. If a police officer tries to stop you, do not stop. Keep driving and under no circumstances should you get out of your car.” For a few weeks, half the traffic in L.A. was doing twice the speed limit.


PETER: I remember when we were going into outer space. I remember when the President said we were going to look for things in outer space. And I remember the way the astronauts talked and the way everybody was watching because there was a chance that they would burn up on the launching pad or that the rocket would take off from Cape Canaveral and land in Fort Lauderdale five minutes later by mistake. And now we’re not even trying to get that far. Now it’s more like the bus. Now it’s more like they go up just high enough to get a good view. They aim the camera back down. They don’t aim the camera up. And then they take pictures and come right back and develop them. That’s what it’s like now. Now that’s what it’s like.


LAURIE: Every time I hear a fire engine it seems like the trucks are running away from the fire. Not towards it. Not right into it. They seem like monsters in a panic--running away from the fire. Stampeding away from the fire. Not towards it. Not right into it.


PETER: In Seattle, the bus drivers were out on strike. One of the issues was their refusal to provide a shuttle service for citizens to designated host areas in the event of a nuclear attack on Seattle. The drivers said, “Look, Seattle will be a ghost town.” They said, “It’s a one-way trip to the host town, we’re not driving back to that ghost town.”


LAURIE: A city that repeats itself endlessly. Hoping that something will stick in its mind."

a little more about this artist:

"If I open my mouth now, I’ll fall to the ground…" ~ by Raymond Oberholzer on April 4, 2007.

So it's a bit more than about grits - it's about being here and being there - traveling throughout this united States Live. I saw her perfom about 4 hours of this 8 hour extravaganza at Music Hall back in the 1980s. Unforgettable! Yes, that is a lightbulb in her mouth.

Today as the breeze blows in and the sweat evaporates and sun pours in the western windows of my Cleveland Heights home, I imagine the trip south and stopping on a road trip for a pair of eggs and toast with a mess-o-grits. The grits - they're extra. Soon... soon I'll be wending my way south.