Chocolate Chili

I know it isn’t time for winter comfort foods, but when I was looking through the first volume of Well Fed, I saw ‘Chocolate Chili‘ and as chocolate’s Number One Fan I had to give it a whirl! One difference I will make is that I will drain the beef after browning it. She doesn’t drain the beef after browning it, and I made it that way. However, even though I used 93/7 hamburger, it still has too much grease in it for my older stomach. But, the taste is amazing!

For more great Paleo recipes, click on the link below. This book not only has well described recipes with wonderful photos, but it provides other resources you can check out as well as more information on what the Paleo way of eating is.

The Confederate Flag

The recent flurry of news regarding the Confederate Flag has left me shaking my head. What I have always thought of as the Confederate Flag was the one I saw on the General Lee in The Dukes of Hazard. I also occasionally saw this flag on vehicles and homes in my area, but I never really thought about it or what it stood for.

I knew it was a symbol of the Confederate States of America, but I never saw it as something that implied racism or the ad vocation of slavery. If anything, I saw it as a symbol of Southern Pride – a feeling those of us in the south feel about our neck of the woods – that we are hard workers, stand up for what we believe in, will help our fellow neighbor – you know ‘good old boys, never meaning no harm.’

Before I go further, I need to take a moment to let you know that I had a professor who once accused me of wearing rose-colored glasses. I do always look for the best in situations and people and I tend to overlook the ugliness. So, if you feel like my interpretation is naive – you may be right. But it is my interpretation. Having said that – since all of this uproar about the flag questions have been raised in my mind. Bear with me – I wrote this as I researched it – you may be surprised by what I find!

Q. What did the flag that we think of as the Confederate Flag symbolize?

A. The number of stars reflected the states that had seceded from the Union. The blue cross is called a ‘saltire‘ – it was a symbol of the cross that Saint Andrew was said to have been martyred on. Andrew was one of the original disciples and apparently asked to be crucified from this cross instead of a standard Roman cross because he felt he was unworthy to be crucified on the same cross as Jesus. So we have a flag that symbolizes folks who believe in martyring themselves for a cause they believed in – States Rights. The fact that slavery was one of the issues they felt that states had the right to decide on was a part of the issue, but not the main issue in spite of modern history books. I was unable to find anything about the colors, but I assume that they chose the colors that were already part of the United States Flag.

Q. Who designed this flag?

A. William Porcher Miles, the chairman of the Flag and Seal committee.

Q. When was this flag adopted as the flag for the CSA?

A. It wasn’t! (Say What?)

Q. Then who flew this flag?

A. It was instead adopted as a battle flag by the Army of Northern Virginia under General Robert E. Lee. In Virginia, it was flown as a square flag instead of a rectangle. It was adopted in Tennessee as a battle flag and that is where it flew in the rectangular form. A version was also flown as the Second Confederate Navy Jack, from 1863–1865.

Q. What is the flag that represented the CSA?

A. There were actually 3 flags which you can see below. The first flag was adopted the 1st, 4th, and 5th years. The flag in the middle is a huge white field surrounding a square with the Saltire – much like the star section in the U.S. flag.  Guess they couldn’t make up their minds which design they liked best.

Third flag of the Confederate States of America


Q. How did this particular flag (the Rebel Flag) come to be the symbol of the south?

A. It wasn’t until the 1880s that this flag came to represent the south as a whole when it started appearing in Confederate cemeteries. It then became used as a symbol of resistance to the civil rights movement in the late 1940s when it was used as a symbol for the short-lived Dixiecrat Party – which formed to fight segregation and the national effort to repeal Jim Crow laws. It was after that it began to be used by segregationist groups and as a symbol against the civil rights movement.

Whoa…I read that last little tidbit, and I sat back in my chair to digest that information for a while. This battle flag started being used as a symbol to remember dead Confederate soldiers – probably by someone who liked this pattern better than others, but later that symbolism was twisted by people who didn’t want the freed slaves and their descendants to be able to have equal rights in our country.

This is what the media needs to be sharing – I have no doubt that there are people out there who believe in white supremacy, but I am not one of them. And I believe there are many other southerners who own this flag and fly this flag who are just as ignorant as I was about how this flag was twisted into a symbol of hatred.

In a related thought, the Swastika is something that we all see as a symbol of racial hatred…unless we are Hindus, Buddhists, or Jainists. For them, it is a sacred and auspicious symbol.

All of this seems like a Solomon question to me. I know that I am horrified if I see the Swastika flying in a news story. And now that I have educated myself on the Rebel Flag – I can definitely see where it would be a symbol that would horrify folks. But like all symbols – different people may have different responses/interpretations.

As soon as this controversy became full blown after the horrible murders in Charleston – my thoughts were: “that flag shouldn’t be flying over government buildings, but the individual should have the right to fly the flag if they want to.” As more news exploded – I was tempted to go out and buy a flag and attach it to my truck to make a statement even though I had never desired to own this flag before. Now, I personally think the best thing for the South to do is find a new symbol to honor those who died in the war fighting for what they believed in – probably one of the flags that was actually adopted to represent the Confederacy.

We cannot and should not rewrite or forget our past. One of the great foundations of this nation is the Freedom of Speech. But just like it isn’t okay to yell “Fire” in a crowded theater, it is also not okay to uplift symbols that hurt others.

The Huddleston Snow of 2012

Well, it finally came…snow. When there was a freak snowstorm that hit the northeast on Halloween, we were certain that we were looking ahead to another busy winter season like last year. Months passed and we saw a couple of flurries, but that was it…where was the snow?
Well February 19th, the snow came – the 18th the temperatures were in the 50s. On the 19th, they began in the 40s at midnight and continued to drop from there. By Sunday evening, they had fallen below freezing. And 7 inches of snow quickly piled up after a day long snowfall that had only brought us maybe 1/2″. I shan’t regale you here with my death defying ride home (thanks God for the guardian angels!), but I thought I would share some pictures from Monday the 20th (before the temperature once again soared into the 50s.
Plato Gallops
Katrina's back snow
Snow Dinos
Sun on snow
Plato says snow is yummy!
Plato snow pillow
Ginger is Serious
Snowboarding--Jack style!
Katrina falling
Katrina comes up smiling
Katrina rescued by Canines
Jack sledding
Katrina gets it!
I hope you’ve enjoyed our fun in the snow!

August 23, 2011 East Coast Earthquake

Yesterday afternoon, we had a brief glimpse into what many Californians and others in earthquake prone areas experience regularly without a second thought. In my house, I was lying down and the wall next to my bed began shaking, the knick-knacks on the shelf attached to that wall began rattling. And there was a sound – a roaring sound. We have an elliptical machine which is about 2 feet away from that wall in the next room. I was sure one of the kids was on their pumping it really hard and causing this problem!
I jumped up…the words “What is going on out there?” falling from my lips as I rushed around the bed and to the door, which when I opened it, I realized the commotion had stopped and there was no one on the elliptical machine. In fact, Daniel, Katrina and Jack were all outside on the deck staring up at the sky! Daniel thought it had been caused by a low flying helicopter, but there wasn’t one in sight. We then realized it must have been an earthquake. First I went to Drudge Report, but there wasn’t any mention there. Then I went to Facebook to place a status update and couldn’t believe it as I started reading posts of friends near and far that they had just experienced an earthquake! When I saw a friend from NY posting, I knew we had just experienced something pretty big and unique.
Turning the TV on, I saw people filling the streets of DC and NY and just like after 9/11 all kinds of reports were coming in – The Washington Monument was tilting, there were cracks in the Smithsonian Main building, the Capitol Building and the White House were being checked for structural damage, local school systems were sending kids home…some of these reports came to nothing and meanwhile, our friends on the West Coast were scratching their heads…A 5.8? Really? And what’s all the fuss about?
We get tremors from time to time on the East Coast, but most of them go unnoticed. This one shook foodstuffs off of grocery store shelves, knocked over bookcases and entertainment centers, caused a few buildings to lose parts of themselves (everything from a lone brick to a complete wall), and left some buildings with large cracks in them.
The East Coast isn’t earthquake territory. Our buildings are not prepared and the sad part is that while we get quakes rarely, they do happen and when they happen, they are felt for a long, long way. This is because of the bedrock that is found under the east coast. Instead of the waves dissipating like they do in the sandy soil of the West Coast, they just keep trucking on in the bedrock of the East Coast. I read where one geologist said it would take several dozen earthquakes of a similar size on the West Coast to have the same reach as we had from one on the East Coast.
Fortunately, there are no reports of death that I am aware of from yesterdays earthquake. While there has been damage, it doesn’t appear to have been extensive. Though, now with a major hurricane aimed at the Northeast, there is concern that buildings weakened by the shaking may not fair well in the high winds that are predicted.
I think the thing that struck me most was the fear that the shaking brought to the forefront for our countrymen in NYC. With the 10th anniversary of 9/11 quickly approaching, and with the memories etched into the minds of those who lived through 9/11 – yesterday’s shaking gave them several horrifying moments.
At this point you might want to stop reading if you don’t want to know more about earthquakes in the middle of our country that could have some effect on us. But, if you are curious, or fascinated (like I am) by all means, read on…You might not want to share with nervous youngsters though.
If you want to read about one of the most damaging series of earthquakes ever to hit the United States, you should check out New Madrid 1811-1812 earthquakes. That is reading that may put a bit of curl in your hair. There are even eye witness accounts. Here is some more information on the New Madrid quakes.
Below you will find a couple of interesting videos.

In a galaxy far, far away…

…okay, so it wasn’t a galaxy far, far away, but it makes for a good story starter.
21 years ago this month, I was sitting on the floor with Matthew, a child who had Down’s Syndrome, and talking with his mother Joy. We were winding up our weekly visit (I used to work with children under the age of 3 who had developmental delays). I was startled to see a man come into the back door of Joy’s home. Her home was very isolated and my first thought was an intruder. Turns out the intruder was her brother and he was looking for a ride to pick his car up from the shop.
I was getting ready to leave and it wouldn’t be too far out of my way, so rather than Joy having to pack up 3 kids, I offered to take her brother to the auto repair shop. There was an instant attraction. Whether it was his blue eyes that I could drown in, or his beard and shoulder length wavy hair, or his warm, friendly attitude and quick smile I couldn’t say, but I knew I wanted to know him better. Unfortunately, the ride was a short one. I kept thinking in my head…’ask me out…ask me out,’ but my telepathy didn’t work seem to be working. I dropped him off at the garage and the whole way home was kicking myself for not just having asked him out. After all, it was 1990 – girls did that sort of thing!
When I got back to work, my friend Linda who was the receptionist, was still there even though quitting time had been 30 minutes before. Turns out she was waiting for me with a big grin on her face. See…there had been a phone call. Some guy I had given a ride to wanted to talk to me! She made me promise to tell her all about it before she would hand over the phone number. I went into my office and called. Daniel and I chatted a bit and made plans for a date the following Friday night. And he called and talked to me every night in between – long distance (that was such a big deal back then, he was paying like a quarter a minute to talk to me on the phone!)
So the night of the big date arrived. Gotta remember, this was before cell phones. About the time that I was expecting him to show up, I got a phone call. He had left the directions to my house at his house, so he had to drive from work in Roanoke to Moneta to get them and he was heading to my house. Finally he arrived in white slacks and a red shirt driving a grey 1975 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. For those of you who have known me for a long time, you know that my first car was a grey 1975 Monte Carlo. I loved that car and drove it for 5 years. This date was definitely off to a good start!
We had to stop and get oil for the car (just like mine) and then we had dinner at a Chinese restaurant that I don’t think exists anymore. We went and played putt-putt and then we came back to Mom and Dad’s (I was living at home at the time) and ended up watching a Star Trek movie on TV. When I found out he loved Star Trek like I did…I was thinking this is definitely a match! I was so enamored with him that I called and cancelled three other dates I had lined up with other guys for the week ahead.. 30 days later I was calling Moneta home.
4 years later, on August 20, 1994, we were standing in a small country church near the Peaks of Otter making a lifelong commitment with our family and friends gathered around. Now here we are, 17 years, 4 children and a lot of experiences later –still in love and celebrating our anniversary. It hasn’t all been peaches and cream. There have been ups and downs, happy and sad times, angry and quiet times, growing together and growing apart times. Daniel and I complement one another. I know I can count on him to encourage me, to be there for me when I need him most, and to love me.
Happy Anniversary, sweetheart! I look forward to the next 17 years of our journey together.

Peach Jam Memories

Yesterday, our 4H club made peach jam for our first class this semester. We are studying aspects of cooking. Several of the children weren’t too crazy about the whole idea – they didn’t like peaches, they didn’t like jam, they didn’t want to get sticky…but they were all soon involved in the class – mashing, stirring, mixing. It was great watching them join together to produce such a beautiful and tasty treat.
Copy of 023.JPG
Copy of 033.JPG
I have never canned anything. My mom spent her summers attached to a stove canning everything from tomatoes to homemade ketchup to green beans to potatoes to jams to pickles. I loved the pickles and potatoes and jam. I hated the ketchup and was always excited when we ran out so we had to buy the store bought kind (sorry, Mom). Kind of an Aunt Bee thing.
Barney, Andy, Pickles.jpg
opie pickle.jpg
Canning was always so much work, but I have to say, the fresher tasting vegetables in the winter months sure were nice to have around. And I liked helping mom get things ready for canning – snapping beans, shelling peas, shucking corn. The memory of warm summer days, little hidden bugs that would pop out as we worked and time to sit and talk while our hands were busy. Thanks for the memories!

Crested Africa Rat Makes Deadly Poison

Crested Rat.jpg
This rat is a smart little fellow. He doesn’t just rely on his quills and his black and white warning colors to keep him safe. He has learned how to chew up toxic bark, then spread the drool onto his quills. The poison can be lethal (and in fact is used by African hunters for hunting elephants and rhinos). No one is sure how the rat learned this trick or how babies are taught. Scientists are also unsure of why the poison doesn’t affect the rat when he is chewing on the bark. The more we learn…the more questions we have!
Check out National Geographic for the complete story.

Wasps Turn Ladybugs into Protective Warriors

There is a parasitic wasp that will paralyze a ladybug and then inject her with a single egg. The egg hatches and the larva chews its way out of the abdomen (and now we know where the idea of Alien came from). The larva creates a cocoon between the ladybug’s legs and continues its metamorphosis. Sometimes the ladybug survives and then the larva is able to ‘brainwash’ the ladybug into defending it from predators!
zombie ladybug.jpg
Be sure to visit National Geographic for more pictures of this process!

Jack’s School Plan for 2011-2012

Okay, so it took me a little longer to finish up Jack’s schedule for 2011-2012, mainly because I was so busy the last couple of weeks and it takes a lot of time to fill out approximately 180 days worth of assignments. So, in case you are interested in what my 10th grader will be doing this year…here goes.
The Art of Argument: an Introduction to the Informal Fallacies. I’m pretty excited about this subject. Both Jack and Katrina are studying it — their only shared class this year. Not only am I hoping that it will improve their own arguing skills (less yelling and more psychology), but I think it will help them to see through advertising and the way people try to manipulate us as some of the lessons focus on persuasive arguments.
History is Jack’s favorite subject. So he will spend the year watching a series of educational historical videos (should supplement his extensive knowledge gained through Civilization and Story of the World). This year we are focusing on America. First he will watch America: The Story of Us . This is a video put together by the History channel and I receive it as a complimentary educational edition. It will present an overview of 400 year of history in a little over 9 hours.
Next he will be enjoying The Great Courses program: Early American History: Native Americans through the Forty-Niners. This looks really interesting. The professor teaches history in costume and character. It should really bring things to life. I only wish he had done a course from the Forty-Niners to present day. Next, Jack will be watching The Great Courses: The America Civil War, then The Great Courses, World War I. This will take him through the year. All of the Great Courses classes have accompanying booklets with thought provoking questions for each section.
Wordly Wise 3000, Book 9 is next. This is a great way to develop vocabulary. Each lesson is laid out and includes definitions, followed by activities to show that understanding of the words and finally a passage to read that includes the vocabulary with comprehension questions that follow.
Learning Language Arts Through Literature–The Gold Book–American Literature. I think this will be an awesome course! Jack will be reading some great American Literature, then answering questions about what he has read. The books he will be reading: The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway, The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane, The Pearl by John Steinbeck, Great American Short Stories edited by Wallace and Mary Stegner, and The Mentor Book of Major American Poets edited by Oscar Wiliams and Edwin Honig.
Math is a bit up in the air. Jack has studied Algebra and Geometry via Great Courses Study, but I want to make sure what he has learned has stuck. So I went online and located tests for both of those subjects. The questions are ones that have been released from the state of California from previous years standardized tests. If he does well on the Alegebra I test(80 questions), he will take the Geometry test(100 questions). If he does well on that, then he will start the Algebra II Great Courses video. If he has problems with either, we have Saxon text books and we will hit the sections he had trouble with before moving on to Algebra II.
Science is Science Explorer Investigations in Life, Earth and Physical Sciencedand then Science Explore Adventures in Life, Earth and Physical Science. These are books by Prentice Hall.
Geography: The World and Its People by Boehm Armstrong Hunkins. I’m really excited about his Geography course and wish I was taking it too. It is done in conjunction with the National Geographic Society. I love the pictures!
So…as you can see, Jack has a busy year ahead of him. Add in piano, youth group and 4H and I think he will be plenty busy. I am hoping this busier set schedule will help him for taking classes at Community College next year.