Fighting Lyme Disease While Driving

The Tic Mobile fighting Lyme Disease.

I spotted this Tic Mobile on the back of a tractor-trailer car-hauling rig Saturday as Margie and I drove to Lexington. Its stated purpose (on a plate on its back) is to fight Lyme Disease, the favorite cause of my late friend Sarabeth Hammond.

Sarabeth had chronic Lyme Disease for the last few years of her short life and she battled it like a warrior. This has been an unusually friendly year for tics in this end of Virginia, so the little car (covered with faux–I guess–grass and big tics) could have an important impact when it gets to its new owner.

Smoothing Out the Bump on the Road to Lexington

Lexington has a distinct European feel.

Margie attacks her seafood salad at the Sheridan Livery Inn.

Margie and I drove up to Lexington yesterday to see Washington & Lee’s football team play Sewanee and to eat lunch at the Red Hen Restaurant, but there was a glitch. W&L was playing Sewanee in Tennessee and the Red Hen isn’t open for lunch.

So we improvised.

This is, of course, a perfect example of my skill at road-trip planning (I knew W&L was playing Sewanee and I knew the Red Hen–made popular when it asked presidential spokeswoman Sara Sanders to leave a couple of months ago–is a restaurant).

Ah, but the details.

One other detail I didn’t know was that the Red Hen is pretty expensive: appetizers for $9-$12 and entres from $22-$27 (shrimp and grits, for example, is $24).

While looking for an alternative restaurant, we ran into a couple of ladies outside the Thai restaurant in downtown (I love pad Thai), who said the Red Hen’s portions are so small that “you have to go home and eat dinner after eating there” and they suggested we try the Sheridan Livery Inn across the street. “It has

The Red Hen was closed for lunch. That’s Margie approaching.

a seafood salad to die for,” said one woman. “And the burgers … oooooh,” said the other.

In spite of the burger temptation (Margie is a burger addict), we both settled on the seafood salad and the woman was right. It was simply lovely and the lunch price was reasonable (about $9 each). We chatted with a young (25, looked 18) waitress who had just moved to Lexington because … well, because she wanted to. No school, no real plans. And she adores it. “I don’t know many people yet,” she said, “but I really love it here.”

It would be difficult not to be smitten by Lexington, I suspect. Margie and I actually took a wrong road out of town and drove around one of the most beautiful neighborhoods I’ve ever seen. The houses are Civil War era and perfectly manicured, like most of the downtown, which has a distinct European flavor.

Young clerk (a high school sophomore) wraps a gift for my daughter.

The shops and boutiques are always a lure for me. I wind up buying Christmas gifts at Artists in Cahoots nearly every year. It features arts and crafts from people who live in our mountains. Margie and I found a couple of gifts for her daughter and my daughter and grand daughter while dallying on the streets and I suspect there will be three happy gift recipients at Christmas.

Even with my planning screw-ups, this was a delightful excursion and I suspect Lexington could not be otherwise. It’s one of my favorite places.

Margie and I on the veranda of the Sheridan Livery Inn, which we both adore.


The Classic Football Photo: A ‘Life Moment’

Burt Reynolds captured in a perfectly awful college football photo. Mine are worse.

These two photos, taken my junior and senior years in high school, illustrate my point. One’s flat out of focus.

There was a time in my life when the annual posing for the football photo was all consuming. I–and many like me–would pose for hours in front of a mirror, or not in front of a mirror, trying to get that action pose down to perfection.

No matter how we put the edge on that pose, however, it was all up to the photographer how it came out. The photographer was all-too-often a local amateur whose family had given him a Nikon A1 for Christmas the previous year and he was still learning how to use it.

I played halfback (runningback now) and quarterback (tailback in a single wing) when I was a kid, which meant I could pose doing the Heisman Trophy lean or the Johnny Unitas passer. I did both. Each came out awfully, one not even in focus. But we got one shot at it and no matter how perfectly we executed the pose, we were dependent on the photographer to get it right.

This photo, safely without action, worked (even though the uniform was filthy).

I was reminded of all this when I saw that god-awful Burt Reynolds/Florida State pose this morning in a eulogy of him. Here’s a guy in a big-time program, doing his halfback cut and the photographer standing (or stooping) so far away that Reynolds’ image is less than 20 percent of the photo. The picture is taken at a time of day when a dark, steep shadow falls to the photographer’s right. It all looks ridiculous and amateurish for both Reynolds and the photographer.

But compare it to the photos of moi. They just look stupid and my mind’s legacy as football player (which has always been overblown) took and continues to take a shot in the gonads. The photos are embarrassing, so I feel the need to hide them.

The one exception for me is the photo the local newspaper in Avery County, N.C., took the morning after a game, when I’d done OK. Problem was, my uniform hadn’t been washed and I looked like a crew-cut 10-year-old fresh off a game of marbles.

For these reasons, although I am a pretty good photographer, I have always refused any offer (financial or otherwise)  to take team and individual sports photos that didn’t involve my family. Ain’t doin’ it. Ain’t traumatizing those kids.

I did take photos of my daughter and son playing soccer and lacrosse. I even made Evan look like an all-American lacrosse player because still photography allows that. But it doesn’t always happen, especially when the photographer has little idea what he’s doing.

You wonder what happened to Burt Reynolds? This damn photo happened to him.

Hey, Nike, Guess What I Just Bought!

All you Colin Kaepernick haters need to suck it up. My friend Kim Leigh Martin has a solution for your hatred: give your shoes to a homeless veteran instead of burning them. I like that.

For me, I just went out and bought a new pair. They replace a pair of wonderful Merrill trainers that the company doesn’t make any more and they make a political statement: I’m in favor of putting the brakes on police brutalizing our African-American population. And yes, I completely agree that it is a small fraction of the police force doing this, but if it is properly controlled, it will stop and people will be treated equally, as our Constitution demands.


Happy Birthday, Oz

Seven years ago today Oz entered our universe as a little boy with a slim chance of making it.

He had trouble with his lungs and the prognosis was pretty grim. But Oz has good parents–Kara and Evan–who refused to let him go.

They cared and worked and attended for several years and Oz finally blossomed–a little late, but a big, loud, robust bloom who today plays like the Front Four with a pole vaulter and a monster truck thrown in. He is a voracious reader, game player and athlete of some ability.

And he’s a good little boy, one who makes his Pampa proud.

Oz’s sister, Madeline, gets her first look at her little brother.

Seven years ago today.

Waiting for the school bus last week.

Oz and me a few weeks ago when he was in Roanoke.

Jennie at 51: Still Looking Great

Don’t know what to think about the car, but Jennie looks dazzling.

Jennie in her natural element.

Got into a fascinating Facebook chat with my favorite daughter, Jenniffer, this morning and came away with some nice photos of her–at 51–by the inimitable Jeri Layne.

Jennie and Jeri have been friends over quite a distance (Jeri lives here; Jennie in North Georgia) for a good while.

Jeri is one of those people who can do anything she chooses and do it at an expert level without a lot of effort. She’s smart and extremely creative and in Jennie, she has a great subject.

Here are some of the photos.

More natural element: she adores her German Shepherds.

I like the floral dress (and the Mustang convertible).

There’s even a Jeep in her garage.

Well, Shit! (Away Goes the Truck)

Truck rests comfortably in Carvin’s Cove.

The rain came in big drops.

I hadn’t been paddling in a couple of weeks so this morning–it being Sunday and all–I thought, shoot, I’ll put the kayak in the water and seek a little spirituality. The best laid plans of …

I pulled into the boat launch at the cove and backed up to the edge of the asphalt on a downhill slope. I briefly thought of applying the parking brake, but, nah; I don’t need it, I reasoned. First gear will hold. First gear would have held, but I had the truck in third gear.

I got the PFD, camera, water bottle and paddles out of the truck bed and put them beside the launch spot, then turned back toward the truck, which suddenly slipped back a notch. I spoke in expletives. And here came the truck. I ran toward it, grabbed the back of the cab–as if I were Captain Emeritus (as my favorite ex-wife calls me)–thinking I could stop it. Heh, heh, heh …

Wet? Yeh. Happy? Sure.

Into the drink went my 20-year-old truck. It stopped when about half of it was in the water, enough, I thought to drown it. But I got in and the dang thing started and tried to get out of the muck. The wheels, though, were buried in the mud and it couldn’t go anywhere.

I went to the boat house and asked the Carvins Cove dudes if they’d help and, sure, they said, they had a chain with a hook, and a city truck that would pull me out. And it did, without much problem.

I thought maybe I’d better mark this one up as a failure and go home and I started driving off. But, shoot, there’s no adventure in that, especially with thunder cracking and rain on the way. So I turned around, unloaded the kayak and paddled off into the rain. Smiling at my good fortune.

It got gray and wet after the truck went for a swim.

Bagpipes and BBQ at the Highland Games

Ewwww. Does the dang bagpipe stink or did you make a fluffy!?!

The real deal: Pulled pork nachos.

I’ve been going to highland games every few years since I was a teenager and the Green Hill Park version was today in West Salem, so I showed up with my Canon 80D and its 55-200mm lens, hoping to capture some lasting images. I think I got some.

I have two clans–the Buchanans and Macquarries (Americanized as the McCourrys)–one ancient and one more recent, both with butt-ugly tartans (a Christmas tree and a gay rights flag, in essence).

My buddy Marj’s feet caught my eye.

The games center on a group of exercises that bulky men and women engage in, throwing various farm implements, some for distance, others for height. There are the obligatory bagpipes (who in his right mind invented those damn things?) and drums, old Scots with their twisted hiking sticks and caps with the pom-pon on top.

My pals with the Roanoke Vikings, including the irrepressible Jeff Rigdon, almost always show up (this year with a couple of beautiful–I mean, like Be-U-ti-ful–young women), as does my good friend Marj Easterling, selling T-shirts she’s designed and printed (she’s also a Buchanan, so we’re cousins) and showing off her tatooed feet.

What’s under that kilt? Oh.

This year, the food feature was Erik LaFontaine’s barbecue ribs and pulled pork nachos (I swear to god). Jeff owns The French German eatery, and judging from the ribs, his food would make me slobber uncontrollably.

Herewith, some of what it looked like.

Camped out on a lovely day at Green Hill Park.

There was a lot of red hair. I love red hair. I won’t comment any more, but you get the picture(s).

OK, enough red hair.

That piece of metal weighs–basically–as much as my leg.

A couple of the athletes looked more like yoga teachers than Front Four members.

Other athletes were, well, super-sized.

Several of the women had arms like Batman. Or, maybe, Catwoman.

Always liked looking at boys in skirts.

Impressive pigtails (yep, they’re red).

This dude showed grit that I’d deem “true.”

Erik LaFontaine and his world famous ribs. He had 400 pounds of them on hand. Sellout? He did last year.

The announcer said this young fella is a scuba diver by trade.

Some of the athletes are patched together and held up with braces.

Jeff Rigdon led a contingent of Vikings (of the Valley).

The Viking helmets keep getting better.

Lovely Viking Julia Carter.

Lovely Viking II, Erin Langheim.

Kevin Miller has the reddest beard I’ve ever seen. All natural, no doubt.

A couple of future competitors (this rope is, like, heavy).

“Hey, Melva, where’s my wig? I got an interview for the bank job.”

Spinnin’ wheel got to go ’round. Talk about your troubles, it’s a cryin’ sin, ride a painted pony, let the spinnin’ wheel spin …

Adjusting the bagpipe. Does that make it more obnoxious?

Blacksmith puts a point on the conversation.

This is the Buchanan tartan. Ug-leeeeeeeeeee.

Oh, say can you see, the Scottish flag from here?

This bagpiper has a great look, so we begin and end with her (and the fluffy).

Where You Get Your News: A Survey

The Huffington Post and YouGov conducted a survey of 1,000 people this week, asking what happened in the news Tuesday (it was a really big news day; two of Trump’s boys were convicted to lead it off, but there was a good bit more than that).

The responses were divided into the camps that voted for Trump and those who voted for Hillary Clinton. HP/YG asked where those responding got their news. Here’s what they said:

Trump supporters: online outlets (43 percent), Fox News (42 percent), local TV (40 percent), radio news (34 percent).

Clinton Supporters: online outlets (52 percent), local TV news (41 percent), national TV news (37 percent), Facebook (28 percent), MSNBC (26 percent), CNN (25 percent).

I found it interesting–and not a little distressing–that not a single newspaper was listed among sources of news (though you could argue that getting news on the Internet would constitute some original reporting from newspapers).

There was this caveat to the survey: (People who sign up for online survey panels and participate in polls about politics tend to be more civically engaged than the average citizen …). My guess would be that these same people don’t read much outside the ‘net.