Ramble On

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Tree Trimmin'

The cabin's holiday tree is up...we put it up on Saturday morning with mom's help. Last weekend we rearranged the living room for the season and put up the outdoor decorations. So this week for the inside decorations.

Here's the tree:

And here are two new ornaments for the year - it's a tradition to add a few every year, and this year's are special: a large mouth bass and a brook trout.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Lighting Up

Last weekend, a bit earlier than I might usually do this, I put up the holiday lights. Since I was planning to decorate the cube farm in Arlington this year as well, thought I should see what kinds of resources I have extra.

As with last year, the living room windows were done. I had some extra strands and did the hallway and one of the bedroom panes - all of these in the photos on the left.

Then we decided we needed to reorganize the living room furniture; we had some small heaters installed and couldn't put the tree where we had it last year. Here's a photo of the rearranged living room. I like the idea, but the room is small, and we're going to have to live in this a bit to see if it will work for the longer term.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Project Recaps - 2008

Mary's put together the full accounting of all the work we had done on the cabin this year. It's a pretty healthy bill; not quite as much as our first year and now most of the major stuff is stabilized. Of course, the main expense this year was the pool repair, which was done to our extreme satisfaction ,thanks to Uncle D in Luray - and the liner solution he installed for us probably saved us more than $5K overall this year.

At some point in the near future we'll have a full list of everything we took on, and reconcile the list of projects still to be done. Significantly, we have some work coming up on the driveway, as we have some wash from uphill that is creating an erosion problem, shown here on the driveway near the shed building.

In the second photo, there is one of the black tubes we've installed to direct the downspout flows into existing culverts in the yard; during the July and August rains there was an incredible amount of water moving, making its way down to Beaver Run.

Eventually we'll move to a rainwater collection system for part of this, but we haven't found the barrels we'd like at a reasonable cost yet - they all carry the fashionable "sustainable" or "green" design label, which seems to be an excuse to charge a lot extra for something that is very practical and shouldn't be a Smith and Hawken solution. Not to mention where the plastic ones are likely made, and the transportation/ fuel costs of getting them here, and all of that offsetting the sustainability benefits in the first place...not to be cynical or anything.

We are planning to address this problem with a culvert installation similar to the ones I have seen up in the Park, especially on Stonyman. We have some left over rail road ties that can be used for this purpose, and we'll cut the flow across the driveway into this culvert, so that the water doesn't flow the length of the hill taking our gravel with it....more to come on that, however!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Fresh Made Snow

Last week, I was reading Evan's Wildlife Blog (he's part of the H-burg community, see the link over there in the blog list--->). He'd mentioned snow up in the SNP, and I knew it was getting cold out there. Then came the news that the Massanutten resort was already making snow this year, two weeks earlier than usual.

Turns out that Mary and I needed to run some errands in H-burg over the weekend and drove down along the feet of the Massanutten ridge. As we approached, we could see snow gleaming in the sun up at the resort, shown in the distance in this first photo.

We decided to make a detour over to check it out - I didn't remember that they were open for snow sports yet, but I figured they wouldn't mind us taking a look around. So here are a few photos, one of Mary out there at the foot of the bunny slope, then the tubing runs, the snow board slope, and other scenery of the ski slopes.

None of the facilities were open, but the condo rentals and timeshares had their usual crowds. We ran into a family from Florida who were enjoying themselves in the fresh made snow.

It was in the 20's over the weekend, the beaver pond froze over, and there were flurries here and there. But with the new insulation and heating systems in the cabin, we were much warmer than last year. We were actually pretty cozy.

We had a successful run of errands at H-burg (including Home Depot - this one is the one all Home Depots should benchmark for service, by the way). And we stopped off downtown for a cup of coffee and "EightyOne Monthly" - the "city paper" of H-burg. Now we have additional destinations for exploring next time we're down there, including Clementine, which the "Beaver Run Brewery folks" have recommended.

Monday, November 24, 2008


Based on a tip from Chris, I asked Howard at Evergreen Outfitters to hook me up with this Otterbox to store my telescope lenses. We guessed the size, and I chose bright yellow, since I'll be using the box outside at night. The first photo here shows how the lenses fit perfectly.
Here's a photo of the box casually sitting with other gear on the bar counter in the cabin. We run a pretty streamlined and functional show around there...the Otterbox fits right in!

Lastly, here's where the new box with it's contents will spend much of its time.

Getting Stumpy

A riddle today. What do you get when you put pictures A and B together?



The answer is C.

Squirrels have been using the stump to break open and eat the walnuts. :-) We are friends of nature at the Hawksbill Cabin.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

This Ain't the Mud Club, or CBGB

I was delighted to find that my CD copy of the new Brian Eno/David Byrne collaboration had arrived in the mail yesterday.

With my own copies of the new songs, I burned a playlist in honor of this year’s show (see post from November 10)…I had to pick up a few MP3s from Amazon to do it, although I have nearly everything on vinyl (from the ‘80’s, of course!). There are a few live versions and a couple of re-records tossed in to spice it up.

Interestingly, one of the tunes from the show – “Never Thought” – didn’t make it onto the new album, so I replaced it with “Home.” Because I had extra room on the CD, I added “Naïve Melody” – in honor of our comment contributors Brian and Susan.

The 21 tracks on this playlist come from 8 LPs: Everything that Happens will Happen Today, The Name of this Band is Talking Heads, My Life in the Bush of Ghosts (2005 re-release), Remain in Light, The Complete Score from The Catherine Wheel, The Best of the Talking Heads, Fear of Music, and More Songs about Buildings and Food.

As I was purchasing “My Big Hands” off of The Catherine Wheel soundtrack, it brought back a memory of taking the Neukölln (a borough of Berlin – Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuk%C3%B6lln) bus over to the Zip Records store when it first came out. That store was on Karl Marx Strasse, but I missed the stop and rode all the way to the end. The driver let me slide on the fare on the way back, and made sure I got out in the right place.

Here’s the full playlist:

-Strange Overtones
-I Zimbra
-One Fine Day
-Help Me Somebody
-Houses in Motion
-My Big Nurse
-My Big Hands
-The River
-Crosseyed and Painless
-Life is Long
-Once in A Lifetime
-Life During Wartime
-I Feel My Stuff
-Take Me to the River
-The Great Curve
- Burning Down the House
-Everything That Happens
-Naïve Melody (This Must be the Place)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Fall Colors update - Leaf colors

Over the course of a couple of visits this Fall, I took a few phone cam photos of the leaves changing. Also, took a few more when I went out to the cabin to finalize some pool closing matters a few weeks ago. The trees that were already past their prime color changes by then.
This first one is looking up at the house from the road. I am not sure what kind of tree this is, but it had a nice yellow shade to it.
The next one is looking down at the house from the back of the original lots. You can see all the oaks in the front yard, just beginning to change at the time. As I am posting this, there are still a few leaves to come down from these trees.
The next photo is looking back towards the tree line behind us. There is a one and a half lot parcel that adjoins us behind the garage, and it has a mix of trees in it. Several hickories are in this shot, but there are a variety of others including oaks and walnuts.
Last one below, this little maple. This tree is the single biggest culprit for dumping leaf litter in the pool area. But it does put on a lovely fall display.
I have a small seed feeder in it for the winter, and during the summer it is where the hummingbird feeder hangs.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Meanwhile, down in the Holler

Well, these mountain hollers have their reputation for hidden activities and lifestyles, and Beaver Run is no different from the rest. I don't mean to draw any connections in this post, but I have learned that the local home brew is now on-line (thanks Chris for the post!):


The guys over there are organic and responsible with their craft. Click the label "Beaver Run Brewery" for other posts on this topic. Congrats to you guys!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Boys of Summer 3 - (Valley League Story)

There is another blog on hbblogs.com, called “All Things Valley League.” I've included a link at the end of this post. During the short two month schedule of the league, it’s prolific with stats and information about the competition and players. If you are interested, you can also navigate to it by following the “hbblogs” link in the blog roll section of the right hand column (--->).

Today is the final installment of the recent letter to the editor about a fan’s experience watching and being part of the Luray Wranglers this summer.

"'One Summer in Luray'
A letter to the Editor, Page News and Courier, Thursday, October 30, 2008 edition
By Bill Reid Jr., Moberly, MO

The Luray area is very beautiful and has many things of which to be proud. The progressive ownership of the Luray Wranglers is just one of the first things for which Luray is for which Luray is fortunate. The warm hearts of many volunteers and families that open their homes, especially their kitchens, to the players for two months every summer.

Luray, Virginia becomes a very special town for a group of college baseball players each summer. Owen told us it was the best baseball experience of his life and how the championship night was the best night of his life because of what the team accomplished, and how he was able to celebrate with his teammates and the Wrangler fans and friends. It for this that Luray, Virginia and the many good people we met there will remain forever in our fondest memories and in our hearts.

The treatment my son, wife and I received while in Luray is “priceless.” Like my father always says, “It’s a small world,” but for these two summer months, Luray is the place to be. We have only one regret for our son – that he won’t get to do it all over again next summer.

The link to the All Things Valley League blog is http://allthingsvalleyleague.typepad.com/

Boys of Summer 2 (Valley League Story)

Continuing today with the recent letter to the editor about a fan’s experience watching and being part of the Luray Wranglers this summer.

Mary and I didn’t manage to get to any of the Valley League games this year, but as we’d roll into Luray on Friday nights during the summer we often passed the crowded ball park on the edge of town. A few years ago I lived in Melbourne, Florida, and would drive down four or five times a year for the Dodgers minor league games in Vero Beach, so I found this father’s story compelling.

"'One Summer in Luray'
A letter to the Editor, Page News and Courier, Thursday, October 30, 2008 edition
By Bill Reid Jr., Moberly, MO

… I chatted briefly with the first gentleman I met as I entered the ball park. He asked if I was with the opposing team. I told him my son pitched for the Wranglers. I sensed instantly that we had something in common.

He was leaving town that night for eight to 10 days. He immediately offered his two reserved seats behind home plate to my wife and me while he was gone. The people we sat near and the friendships developed while attending the games, the quaint small town restaurants, and the people that worked them. The older gentleman that we talked to on his way to church that was familiar with where we live in rural Missouri and has passed through our area; the lady who knew a man my wife had worked with in Missouri that we met at her brother’s home at the edge of town while admiring their flower garden. All examples of the priceless experiences that money cannot buy and the big city cannot offer, but what Luray is all about during “one summer in Luray.”

The volunteer workers that befriended us at the games, the staff and ownership of the Wranglers, and the wonderful family that took Owen, a perfect stranger, into their home for the summer and treated him like he had always been part of their family, “one summer in Luray.”

I could offer many other examples of the random acts of kindness shown to us by the people of Luray, but that wouldn’t be fair. It became apparent to us that it wasn’t random at all, but an everyday occurrence, “one summer in Luray.”"

Tomorrow will conclude the letter.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Boys of Summer (Valley League Story)

We look forward to getting our copy of the Page News and Courier each week in the mail, and we try to read ahead to know about auctions and other events going on before our weekends at the cabin. Recently the paper has had quite a bit of interesting news, between the election coverage (very spirited letters to the editor, for example) and the news about the Sheriff’s federal indictment (22 counts, cockfighting “the tip of the iceberg,” potential for 304 years and $2-million in fines if convicted), but one of the things that recently attracted my attention was a letter about the Valley League, a baseball summer, minor league that is played in this area.

The Luray team is called the Wranglers, after the clothing plant that has been based here over the years. I’ll reprint parts of the letter over the next couple of days. It’s a charming letter, so

I’ll edit only to meet my posting schedule.

"'One Summer in Luray'
A letter to the Editor, Page News and Courier, Thursday, October 30, 2008 edition
By Bill Reid Jr., Moberly, MO

What can one say? Two of the most important things all parents want for their children is for them to be happy and safe. Well, “one summer in Luray” provided a lot more than that for our son. Our family has been very blessed, and we have very little about which to complain.
Our son, Owen Reid, has spent most of his summers since he was 14 years old traveling our great nation playing baseball for a number of great organizations, and he has stayed with many wonderful people. He has played on other championship teams and has received many honors, but the top of the list has to be “one summer in Luray.”

Luray, Virginia, a town of 5,500 in the Shenandoah Valley is the smallest town in the Valley Baseball League and is also much smaller than all the other baseball cities in which Owen has played. But the warmth, compassion, and commitment that this unique town has for its baseball team, the Luray Wranglers, puts it at the top of the list. Most families would pay top dollar to have their son to have a summer experience like Owen had. Yet he enjoyed “one summer in Luray” for virtually nothing.

My wife and I visited Owen in July, staying in Luray for 11 days. From the beginning of our visit, we felt the warmth of the community…"

There is a blog on the Harrisonburg aggregator site that goes into more detail about the Valley League:

Monday, November 17, 2008


Here's a little photo from a couple of months back of our chow mix Sofie, in her ever-vigilant pose down near the end of the terrace. Last October, she first saw the deer from here, so it is the post she takes whenever we are outside - they might come back, you never know, and when they do, we'll be glad she's there to protect us from them.

Sunday Workday

With the weather and some pressing work deadlines, we delayed our planned trip out last weekend and made a simple work day of it on Sunday. We still got to check in on a couple of favorite things in Luray though, lunch at Brookside and a stop at Evergreen Outfitters for a visit.
The after church rush was on at Brookside and we met up with some nice chatty folk. For some reason they seem to know we are not from here - or they make the assumption that we aren't. Still, the conversation is very pleasant and doesn't really put you on the spot.
Howard's news was good too, he's the new VP of the Chamber (congrats again!), and he and the other outdoors-oriented businesses in Luray are planning for the holidays. Good things to hear, and a conversation with him always reminds me of how lucky we've been that the cabin is located there.

There were a couple of chores before us - one was to stake out where our 6 new Leyland Cypress and two hollies would be planted in in the west side yard. We are putting them in for privacy, and the barely visible stakes here mark where we want them.

When they are mature in a few years - they are famously fast growing - hopefully they will make a screen like this one in our Alexandria yard. It's hard to believe, but our neighbors have a deck over there, less than 25 feet away from where I stood when I took this photo!

The second chore wasn't one I'd planned beforehand but I decided to do once we got there. A lot of leaves had accumulated down in the pool area and on the brick terrace, so I decided to clear them out. Still a few oaks shedding, so we won't have the yard raked until after T-day, but here is the big pile of leaves by the pool. Boy are we glad we got the pool cover!

Also visible down the hill in that photo is the beaver pond, which is still spreading. I took a walk down to see it again, now that a lot of brush has died back. Phone cam quality being what it is, I hope this is a better photo of the construction. Quite a project...and inevitably, this one threatens the road because of how close it is.
We'll keep an eye on that!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Fall Colors - Mums

Last month, as the Luray Farmers' Market was winding down for the season, Mary picked up a bunch of mums. She planted them in pots around the cabin, and had enough that they decorate the yard in Alexandria too. Here is a photo of the bunch of yellow flowers on the brick terrace, taken two weeks ago.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Tobacco and Truck Crops - Part 2

This is the second of two posts about a recent conversation with my dad on the topic of growing up on a small family farm near the NC and VA border.

After my dad told me that only four acres of the farm was used for tobacco, the cash crop, I asked, why - especially when they had as much as 30 acres available - why did they limit the crop to four acres? The answer surprised me: there were quotas assigned. His family was allotted four acres’ worth of output.

There was a tobacco market in Stoneville (the building was damaged by a rare tornado in the early ‘90’s, and there were also two deaths during that storm). Once the season's weather was understood and crop yields could be calculated, aerial surveys of the local farms were done to assess and confirm the production.

Then the allotments were made. His family received a four acre assignment. After a final evaluation of the amount of land under cultivation, a market representative would come to the farm, measure the area in tobacco, and cut down and destroy anything exceeding the quota – to control prices and apparently to keep the farm families on a tight – barely sustainable – budget.

In fact, the money was so tight my grandmother eventually went to work in the mills in Eden. The mills there are a story for another time, though.

I will finish on the note that during the last few years I have been going back to the area, unfortunately, mostly for funerals. Whenever I drive out to the homesteads and farms my relatives lived on all those years, the first thing that impresses me is how small the farms where – which is consistent with the story in Progressive Farmer. The second thing that I noticed is how little tobacco there is now – production has moved off shore, since smoking and tobacco use has declined so much in the US.

That land often sits idle now, waiting for sprawl from Greensboro, Charlotte, Martinsville, and even Danville to claim it for development.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Tobacco and Truck Crops - Part 1

Today's post is the first of two that capture a conversation I had recently with my dad. We started by talking about the economic turmoil that is on everyone’s mind these days.

For retired folks like him, the gas prices over the summer had a big impact on discretionary income – forcing choices between common expenses and recreational activities. And that is not to mention the fear of impacts to savings and retirement accounts from the pervasive economic risk from the banking crisis.

One of the things that came to mind is the recent Progressive Farmer article that I mentioned last month – the farm resources that are needed to generate a livable income for a family of four, in terms of land or animals. For most of his childhood years, dad lived on a small family farm in the Stoneville, NC area, just a bit south of the VA/NC border, near Danville and Martinsville.

He told me that they got by on 40 acres. There were two types of crops on the land: 10 acres of “truck crops” – mainly vegetables for sustenance or for taking down to the farmers’ market; and four acres of tobacco – the “cash crop”.

The truck crops were similar to the ones some of our older neighbors in Alexandria grow on their double lot – squash, corn, tomatoes, and peppers. But the interesting part of my dad's story was about the tobacco crop.

When I was growing up and visiting there as a child in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s, tobacco was everywhere, characterized by its bright green and yellow colors, and the distinctive crop management process of taking of the lowest leaves for curing as soon as they were ready. Also I remember the curing barns scattered around the area. I even remember seeing tobacco farms like that in Maryland, as late as 1990, when I first moved back to this area – a familiar site that brought back memories of visiting relatives.

I've broken this topic into two messages, there is a second post coming tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans Day Post

An excerpt from a recent post by Bob Bateman on Altercation:

"...'A veteran is somebody who, at one point in their life, wrote a check made out, 'To the United States of America' for the amount of 'Everything, up to and including my life'.'

"That friends, is a heavy debt our nation has there. It is more than all the trillions of mere dollars we owe. It is, indeed, as close a thing to a sacred obligation as I believe we can come."

Take a minute and say thanks to a veteran today.

Monday, November 10, 2008

DC David Byrne Show - 11/9

I planned to wait a few days to post about the David Byrne show Mary and I saw last (Sunday) night. I wanted to get the playlist and see if he posted about it on his blog.

It's clear there were a lot of life-long fans at the show, which was at the Warner Theatre downtown, in DC. Life-long for some, anyway: Byrne has been performing for 30 years, and a good share of the music in this performance dates collaborations with Brian Eno that took place in '77-'80.

I found the photo here on-line someplace, and here is the playlist from Byrne's site:

SET LIST: Strange overtones, I Zimbra, One fine day, Help Me somebody, Houses in Motion, My Big Nurse, My Big hands, Heaven, Never Thought, The River, Crosseyed & Painless, Life is long, Once in Lifetime, Life During Wartime, I Feel my Stuff...Encores: Take me to the River, The Great Curve, Air, Burning Down the House, Everything that Happens

It was a great show - the music is just fantastic, the ensemble has been on the road a few months now so they are perfect, and he's added dancers to the show, so some of the songs are choreographed. Although I don't remember the song, in one case the dancers and musicians all sat in office chairs - there was something you'd call dancing going on. And in another, actually during Once in a Lifetime, the dancers did a lot of the famous moves from the video. So they added something, helped make it a good show even though Byrne can hold his own.

And everybody got up to dance once he got into the stretch beginning with Crosseyed and Painless. Everybody.

By luck, as we were finding our seats, we walked past the balcony bar and ran into old friends Felice and Dave, and Kelly and Tom. Felice and I have been friends for a long time, since my Berlin days, and Kelly used to lead us all in group outings to see the Mekons whenever they were in town...good to happen upon them. We agreed to meet after the show and went over to the JW Marriott for a post-show refreshment...sort of like old times.

Building the Pyramids, a follow-up

The Arlington construction project that I have posted on in the past is a two-phased BF Saul project. There is a second block under development, across the street from the dig site that I posted on yesterday. Demo on this block started on Monday 11/3 and was complete by Friday 11/7.

The old buildings included a group of single-story store fronts, which were typical of the style Wilson and Clarendon Boulevards were developed in during the ‘20’s, ‘30’s and ‘40’s, when these were streetcar neighborhoods. The old buildings were of similar height to the remaining one here, with a Hard Times chili café.

On Saturday I was in the area, and as I walked down the street to the Starbucks, I noticed this sign on the fence around the lot. It describes a plan to maintain the historic store fronts that were there and incorporate them in the new building. This part of Arlington was recently recognized as a “great Main Street of America” by the American Planning Association, so it’s good to know that his little element of the old neighborhood will still be there.

Finally, as can be seen in this photo, the building materials have been sorted for recovery and recycling already, and soon site prep will begin.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

How they built the pyramids

I haven't posted on the construction projects going on near my Arlington office in a while. Here are some photos from Friday 11/7.

The first is the wide view of the new BF Saul office tower site. Earlier blog posts from the January and February timeframe will show the demo of the buildings that used to be here. Site prep has been going on since then, but with the big crane set up on the side of the pit it looks like they are ready to erect the tower crane.

This close-up is of work going on with the dirt ramp. This has been fascinating to watch, as nearly every day they take down part of the ramp to work in the pit. Then the big machines have to rebuild it so that they can climb back out at the end of the day. Also, when the fuel trucks come to refuel the machines, there is a "gas line" up the ramp of all the vehicles, several of which are not visible in this shot.

With the tower crane going in across the street, my bet is that the parking garage construction will start imminently...will keep you posted.
This link will take you to the earlier post on the demo at the "ramp site": http://hawksbillcabin.blogspot.com/2008/03/meanwhile-back-in-arlington.html

Friday, November 7, 2008

Pool's Closed

Here's a picture of the new pool cover. Uncle D and crew came out and closed the pool a couple of weeks ago, and when I was out last weekend I put some finishing touches on the process.

First, check out all the pine needles coming off of those trees. Good thing we got a winter pool cover!

Second, the photo below shows the black drainage tube we put in so that when we had to drain water after a heavy rain, we could direct it down the hill so that it wouldn't wash away all the mulch and "soil" (clay, actually) from the hillside.

Apparently part of the closing process is to purge all the water from the equipment shown here, and all other water pipes. Antifreeze may be involved, but I am not sure if it is required for this system.
After the team installed the new winter cover, they had left the blue "summer" cover hanging over the deck rails - to dry and to allow the dirt and pine needles to fall off. We stored it in the shed, hanging from a close line, to get it out of the weather.
I took it out to sweep it and roll it up for storage on Sunday.
Final photo below, the black tube and summer cover in storage for the winter. Also, sadly, there are all the pool toys. We'll probably consolidate this stuff next time we are out.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Birdwatching for Woodpeckers

Last winter we caught sight of a pair of pileated woodpeckers moving through the woods. We’ve seen that pair off and on during the year in flight; also there is hardly a day when you don’t hear them working over some of the dead trees in the hollow or up on the hill out back.

There are a couple of other woodpecker species around the Hawksbill Cabin – while I don’t usually have the phone cam handy, I’ve seen yellow bellied sapsuckers for one. This photo of the trunk of our apple tree with the suet basket has signs of them – generations of the birds – where they have drilled little sap holes in the trunk.

The birds eat the sap, but they also eat the bugs that are attracted to it. The only problem here is that infection and disease can enter the tree through these holes, but the apple tree doesn’t seem to be any worse for wear and tear.

I’ve only seen the male sapsucker, with the red crest and the little red kerchief around his neck. This is a Wikipedia photo.

The downy is the other woodpecker species I’ve seen around. A few weeks back, while I was doing my wood chopping, I saw a small flock of three of them flitting around the apple tree. They are a small, sparrow-sized bird, and these three were hopping around from branch to branch chasing and scolding each other. Here is a photo I happened to catch on Sunday, with one of the downies clinging to the suet basket, along with the normal phone cam quality caveat.

My field guide says that the downy woodpeckers will join small flocks of the other birds that over winter here – nuthatches and chickadees, mainly. We put seed feeders up for these, so we’ll take care of the downies now, too.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Victory Speech in Grant Park

It's been a long road to get here, and every step was worth it. This morning and the days, month, years ahead are full of promise for our country. Getting back on the right track will be a lot of work, but we are off to a good start with a speech like the one below, given by Barack Obama, President-elect, last night.

"Hello, Chicago.

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

It’s the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen, by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different, that their voices could be that difference.

It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled. Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been just a collection of individuals or a collection of red states and blue states.

We are, and always will be, the United States of America.

It’s the answer that led those who’ve been told for so long by so many to be cynical and fearful and doubtful about what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.

It’s been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this date in this election at this defining moment change has come to America.

A little bit earlier this evening, I received an extraordinarily gracious call from Sen. McCain. Sen. McCain fought long and hard in this campaign. And he’s fought even longer and harder for the country that he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine. We are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader.

I congratulate him; I congratulate Gov. Palin for all that they’ve achieved. And I look forward to working with them to renew this nation’s promise in the months ahead.

I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart, and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton and rode with on the train home to Delaware, the vice president-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.

And I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last 16 years the rock of our family, the love of my life, the nation’s next first lady Michelle Obama.

Sasha and Malia I love you both more than you can imagine. And you have earned the new puppy that’s coming with us to the new White House.

And while she’s no longer with us, I know my grandmother’s watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight. I know that my debt to them is beyond measure.
To my sister Maya, my sister Alma, all my other brothers and sisters, thank you so much for all the support that you’ve given me. I am grateful to them.

And to my campaign manager, David Plouffe, the unsung hero of this campaign, who built the best political campaign, I think, in the history of the United States of America.

To my chief strategist David Axelrod who’s been a partner with me every step of the way.

To the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you’ve sacrificed to get it done.

But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to. It belongs to you. It belongs to you.

I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn’t start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington. It began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston. It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give $5 and $10 and $20 to the cause.

It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation’s apathy who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep.

It drew strength from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on doors of perfect strangers, and from the millions of Americans who volunteered and organized and proved that more than two centuries later a government of the people, by the people, and for the people has not perished from the Earth.

This is your victory.

And I know you didn’t do this just to win an election. And I know you didn’t do it for me.
You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime - two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century.

Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us.

There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after the children fall asleep and wonder how they’ll make the mortgage or pay their doctors’ bills or save enough for their child’s college education.

There’s new energy to harness, new jobs to be created, new schools to build, and threats to meet, alliances to repair.

The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term. But, America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there.

I promise you, we as a people will get there.

There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won’t agree with every decision or policy I make as president. And we know the government can’t solve every problem.
But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And, above all, I will ask you to join in the work of remaking this nation, the only way it’s been done in America for 221 years - block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

What began 21 months ago in the depths of winter cannot end on this autumn night.

This victory alone is not the change we seek. It is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were.

It can’t happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice.

So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism, of responsibility, where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves but each other.

Let us remember that, if this financial crisis taught us anything, it’s that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers.

In this country, we rise or fall as one nation, as one people. Let’s resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long.

Let’s remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House, a party founded on the values of self-reliance and individual liberty and national unity.

Those are values that we all share. And while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress.

As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, we are not enemies but friends. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.

And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn, I may not have won your vote tonight, but I hear your voices. I need your help. And I will be your president, too.

And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces, to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of the world, our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand.

To those who would tear the world down: We will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security: We support you. And to all those who have wondered if America’s beacon still burns as bright: Tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity and unyielding hope.

That’s the true genius of America: that America can change. Our union can be perfected. What we’ve already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that’s on my mind tonight’s about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She’s a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing: Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.

She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn’t vote for two reasons - because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.

And tonight, I think about all that she’s seen throughout her century in America - the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can’t, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.

At a time when women’s voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.

When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs, a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.
When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that “We Shall Overcome.” Yes we can.

A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination.

And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change.

Yes we can.

America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves - if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment.

This is our time, to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth, that, out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope. And where we are met with cynicism and doubts and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people: Yes, we can.

Thank you. God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America."

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Update w/Photo from Manassas Rally

My friend Dennis and his family were some of the lucky 90K or so to get out to the Obama rally in Manassas last night. Tip o' the hat for this photo!

Click to enlarge!

Dixville Notch has Spoken

Dixville Notch is the town in New Hamster where they famously cast the first votes every four years, and this year the 21 voters have gone 15-6 for Obama. As everyone will tell you, there is no correlation between their choice and who ultimately wins the election.


Election Day is Here

We live across the street from the polling place in our neighborhood in Alexandria - the Maury School. At 6am, I walked out for the paper, and saw the lines stretched out around the block. This wasn't a surprise, as they were that long in 2004, and our neighborhood is highly participatory.

By 7, the lines were half as long; there are polling places that will have longer lines in Alexandria. Mary is planning to walk over there with our old umbrellas later, just in case the weather becomes inclement (for Brian M.: That means 'rainy') - and other neighbors are as well.

We put up our July 4 bunting and banners in a last display of support for all the line-standers (and to complement the always-on, lit sign of a very Presidential Barack Obama the neighbor across the street has had up since August).

I have news that there will be a welcoming party over at the Lyles-Crouch school at 10:30, that is where Mark Warner will vote at approximately that time.

I am still looking for a place to stop in and watch the early results...thinking back to 2004, when we went to the post-election event for Jim Moran (our Congressional Representative) things started getting quiet soon after the local news was finished. At that event, Mary took all responsibility for jinxing John Kerry, causing his loss. So she won't be going with me this evening.

Get out and vote. Today.

From Monday's Washington Post: Bob Schaefer's mother apparently admonished him to vote on election day, "It will make you feel big and strong!"

Be sure to be respectful of the poll officials, who are mostly volunteers, and comply with the new law about campaign gear in the polling place. Be sure your vote counts, no matter what.

Thanks to family and friends in Florida, NC, and Virginia for their news about early voting. For those who have yet to vote, please keep the faith and brave the lines. You are participating in something very big, that will make history, and it is important that you are part of it.

Hoping to join the election eve and election night festivities in Alexandria, Hawksbill Cabin is taking a day off Wednesday and will be back Thursday with a new Nature Post.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Election Special: a note from David Byrne

Rec'd from David Byrne tonight. I know it's a mass mailing, but I appreciated receiving it, and wanted to post it on the blog.

It stops short of saying, "a vote for McCain is a vote for 'same as it ever was.'"

Pardon the bulk mailing. I Can't Vote. I am an immigrant with a Green Card and, therefore, I am not eligible to vote in a federal election. FYI - I can get drafted (luckily, Daniel Berrigan burned my draft board's records) and I pay taxes, yet I cannot vote for President. On Election Day, I see my neighbors heading to the nearby elementary school to cast their ballots. The voting booth joint is a great leveler; the whole neighborhood - rich, poor, old, young, decrepit and spunky - they all turn out in one day.

But most of you can vote. What can I say? The Republicans have made us less safe than before 9/11, bankrupted this economy, started an illegal war they can't - and don't intend to - finish, removed what sympathy (after 9/11) and respect the world had for the US, and have robbed US citizens of many of their basic rights. Global warming? What's that? Science and education? Investment in our future? No, thanks - we'll stick with a good 'ole hockey mom. Ignorant, and fucking proud of it, as is always the case.

Although it looks like a shoo-in, it ain't over 'til Florida. And there are plenty of racists in this country who will vote against their own best interests. So please, get to your local elementary school, post office, town hall, or whatever, and cast your vote and make this a country we can all be proud of. We can get out of this mess, and life can be better than it is.

David Byrne
Political posts are the exception, and will only be made the next two days. After Wednesday, back to our usual subjects.

The Sheriff was Indicted...

Well, they have this election going on, but since I recently mentioned the indictment of Page County sheriff Presgraves, I suppose that for the benefit of my non-local readers I should recap all of this. Cynically, we could all look at this as a stereotypical event of small town corruption, it certainly fits the bill.

I mentioned that the 22 indictments carry a penalty of as much as 304 years in prison and fines of up to $2-million if the sheriff is proven convicted. The indictment documentation should be easy find with a Google search for “Page County sheriff indictment” – meanwhile here is a summary:

· 6 counts of obstructing a law enforcement investigation
· 4 counts of obstructing investigation by a federal grand jury
· 4 counts of violating the civil rights of female subordinates at the Page County Sheriff’s Office
· 2 counts of making false statements
· 2 counts of conspiracy
· 2 counts of mail fraud
· 1 county of money laundering
· 1 count of violating federal racketeering laws

This story seemed to have broken over an investigation of an allegation that the sheriff took a bribe to “look the other way” about a cockfighting enterprise, by coincidence only about a mile from the Hawksbill Cabin. The US District attorney was quoted as saying, “the cockfighting issue is just the tip of the iceberg.”

For now, the Sheriff has posted a security bond and returned to Luray. He has been instructed not to wear the uniform, perform any duties, nor to drive a cruiser while awaiting trial.

No doubt, this is a long story just getting started. I’ll post on it from time to time when there is news.