As most of you will know, I am ga-ga about architecture.  Tonight on Ovation TV, I watched the most fascinating program about one of the world’s most talented and visionary builders/designers Daniel Libeskind.  At the very end of the program they displayed the plans Mr. Libeskind has submitted for this mega project…it was stunning. 

If you have been following the ever evolving story about the re-development of the World Trade Center site, you may recall that it was Daniel who won the design competition to rebuild the complex.  His proposal, the centerpiece of which, was a 1776 ft. tall skyscraper with a deconstructed cathedralesque spire – was as bold as it was inspiring.  Unfortunately, what Daniel actually won in that competition was the right to design the physical “floor-plan” of where buildings will actually be built – but not the right to actually design those buildings. Or at least, this is the story that the New York Redevelopment board would have us believe. I believe that the truth of the matter is that the the New York “powers-that-be” are notorious for attracting world-class architects, then chewing them up and spitting them back

into the wind.  Daniel’s design for the Freedom tower was simply too radical, too extreme….too good for New York.  Those powers-that-be are more fond of square towers with flat glass and block walls. Deconstructed was not New York – and so they asked Libeskind to go back to the drawing board and redesign the tower – but this time with the “assistance” of another major architect from a rival firm.  An architect whose aesthetic is less about art or beauty, but rather an adherence to maintaining the status quo. After a period of collaboration, city officials gradually erased all of Libeskind’s influence. The plan on the drafting board today for the totally unremarkable tower is solely the design of David Childs of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. Libeskind is only menially involved in the rebuilding in that his name is still on record as having won the international competition, and, his original space planning for the footprint of the buildings and memorials is still being honored.  This entire debacle is quite sad for a man of Libeskind’s sensibility. But he was not undone. Not by a long-shot. In addition to now building skyscrapers, museums and housing projects in all parts of the globe, the basic design of the original Freedom Tower may still be realized in the amazing principality of Monaco. Although I have not yet found on-line pictures of the proposal, the piece de resistance looks to be a soaring tower that should have been built on ground zero.  New York’s loss just might be Monaco’s gain.




Monaco (October 1, 2008) – World renowned architects Daniel Libeskind and Norman Foster are leading the race to build a major maritime extension to the Mediterranean state of Monaco.  The competition was initiated in 2006 when Prince Albert II announced plans to extend the principality by creating a new peninsula, roughly the size of 20 football fields, extending into the sea from below the world famous Monte Carlo casino.

The Monaco development is set to cover 275,000 square meters (3 million square feet) of housing, retail and tourist facilities, as well as a flagship new public building – details of which have yet to be released.

Monaco Prime Minister Jean-Paul Proust recently announced that designs by Daniel Libeskind and Norman Foster stood out among the five shorlisted bids for their technical and environmental qualities. 

Prime Minister Proust has yet to release a decision, but said that Monaco authorities would review all bids in the light of the global economic crisis to ensure that they are fiscally sound. 

Libeskind’s project is being championed by the Monte-Carlo Sea Land consortium, made up of Japanese architect Arata Isozaki and Dutch and Belgian building groups Van Oord-Dragados and BESIX.

The winner of the Monaco competition will be announced later this year. 


A friend of mine has a penchant for raising exotic animals.  From large wildcats to 18 foot long albino pythons, he has had a wide variety of critters pass through his country farm.  Yesterday marked the arrival of the latest additions to his family.  A pair of 2 year old twin boy ring-tailed lemurs.  These amazing creatures were being raised in extreme East Tennessee, only to have their handler die suddenly and unexpectedly.  The Lemur brothers were in need of an immediate home and having owned lemurs before, my friend was more than eager to accept the challenge. 

They arrived during lunch yesterday after a four hour trip. They were in separate travel cases and were quite distressed to have been separated.  Once they were released into their large enclosure, their delight at being rejoined was a Hallmark moment.  We were all wiping tears and pretending we had something in our eyes.  We were shocked and delighted to witness that within moments, the pair were grooming, playing and eagerly exploring their new terrain.  Although we were cautious to be unobtrusive, it was apparent that there was not a shred of aggression in the amazing creatures.  They did not seem afraid of us and on a few occasions, seeming invited us to show them affection.   Eventually we should be able to handle the pair and I look forward to that day.  Until yesterday I had never seen a lemur except on television, and here I was last evening inside a cage with a  pair of these extraordinary animals.  It was a night I will remember forever.

I maintain two minds about keeping wild animals as “pets” and this will be my first exposure to caring for any creature other than a dog or a cat.  When I see the amount of love, tenderness and care that these lemurs will receive, I am glad that they have found such a good home with a man who will take care of their every need and want.  I cannot imagine this undertaking as it is a huge investment of both money, time and effort.  From what I understand this pair will eat approximately $10 in food daily. And let’s face it, while a lemur is not a monkey, they are somewhat monkey-ish in their behavior and habits.  They are nowhere as easy to care for as Socks the cat and Bingo the dog.

All day today I have been reminded how extraordinary our world is.  The variety of life on our planet is such that it escapes our total understanding. I feel privileged to have met these two special brothers.






Giant Crystal Cavern

April 9, 2007—Geologist Juan Manuel García-Ruiz calls it “the Sistine Chapel of crystals,” but Superman could call it home.


A sort of south-of-the-border Fortress of Solitude, Mexico‘s Cueva de los Cristales (Cave of Crystals) contains some of the world’s largest known natural crystals—translucent beams of gypsum as long as 36 feet (11 meters).


How did the crystals reach such superheroic proportions?

In the new issue of the journal Geology, García-Ruiz reports that for millennia the crystals thrived in the cave’s extremely rare and stable natural environment. Temperatures hovered consistently around a steamy 136 degrees Fahrenheit (58 degrees Celsius), and the cave was filled with mineral-rich water that drove the crystals’ growth.


Modern-day mining operations exposed the natural wonder by pumping water out of the 30-by-90-foot (10-by-30-meter) cave, which was found in 2000 near the town of Delicias (Chihuahua state map). Now García-Ruiz is advising the mining company to preserve the caves.



“There is no other place on the planet,” García-Ruiz said, “where the mineral world reveals itself in such beauty.”

Autumn has arrived.  And it is not by the calendar or a report on the news that I obtain this information.  It is imparted by the annual flowering of my stand of Polygonum Cuspidatum. Known by it’s common name of Japanese Knotweed, this plant is unfortunately on the USDA’s top 10 list of most troublesome plants.  Unlike many who have planted this faux bamboo-like plant to have it totally take over acres and acres, my clump has stayed just that over the past 25 years. From other plantings I have seen, I know that I just lucked out on this one.  Despite it’s growing reputation as a noxious weed, I have a certain affinity for this plant.  It is quite showy as it booms in cascades of silver flowers in late August that turn an intense magenta and then to scarlet each year right at time of the solstice.

flowering bamboo  


Another plant that always announces the arrival of fall with regularity is the Poncirus Trifoliata or the Japanese Bitter Orange.  This close relative, but not really a citrus plant bears many resemblances to the orange.  It is one by far the most sinister plant in my garden. The thorns on this tree are quite literally the stuff of nightmares.  Being that the fruits are so bitter as to be totally unpalatable – even to wildlife – I cannot imagine why it developed such a gruesome defense strategy.  Each year the golf ball sized fruits turn a delicious golden yellow before they fall to the ground to generate countless barbed seedlings.  This plant is quite a conversation piece and I find that few folks are familiar with it.  It is hardy to temperatures as low as -25 and will tolerate almost any growing conditions. It can even be grown in Alaska and most of Canada.  Should you ever decide to add this interesting but menacing small shrubby tree into your garden, let me save you the trouble….don’t bother tasting the fruit. Really, don’t bother, I’ve already done the horrendous task for you.  Trust me, it is not something you would wish on anyone you care about.  It may even be too terrible for your worst enemy.


Just Say NO

say no If you listen to the “health tidbit du jour” on any popular news broadcast, it can be quite confusing. One day coffee will kill you and the next week another study reveals that coffee is THE panacea for all our bodily ailments.  Still, sometimes these studies do give pause for consideration and when personal and practical research is done, they can help us to edit the things we choose to put into our bodies.

Dave and I were discussing just this matter last evening when he asked out of the blue why I do not consume any soda products. We’ve been together for 11 years and still there are things we do not know about each other.  I explained that my decision to avoid all soda beverages was initially based on medical advice from my Nephrologists. Since my kidneys do not function properly there are two qualities of cola-like drinks that are problematic for me. One of the carbonation, and the other is the oxalic acid…the microscopic crystalline forms that cause cola to be dark brown, coffee black and tea it’s golden hue. Since my kidneys do not filter fluids correctly, these crystals quickly turn to kidney stones. This alone is reason enough to never drink a sip of soda again.  As a side note, I have also been advised repeatedly to also avoid the aforementioned tea and coffee.  But some things are simply beyond the realm of the merest consideration.

Giving up on fizzy drinks was not at all hard for me.  I was raised as a Kool Aid kid, so once I made the decision that was it.  There are plenty of other beverages in the world.  No more six packs and two-liter bottles in my fridge and I’ve never looked back.  This started me thinking of other things that I have completely eliminated from my diet or daily use.

  • Potato Chips and 99% of bagged snacks
  • Processed luncheon meats
  • Any products containing Sorbitol and most other artificial sweeteners
  • Any processed foods containing Nitrates
  • Any products containing Lactic Acids…thank God for Lactose Free Milk
  • 99.9% of Ice Cream
  • Most foods that contain any sort of oil or grease like product that solidifies in it’s natural state
  • 99.9% of Perfumes or Colognes, especially those made with a base of Orris Root ( this can be hard to determine without trying some product) I am HIGHLY allergic to Orris Root so I can instantly tell if a product will bother me.
  • Anything that smell even vaguely like Vanilla  AACCCKKKKKKKK
  • Anything coated in Teflon, Silverstone or any variation thereof
  • Any food cooked in Lard…although I was raised on it and LOVE it.

I’m sure there are more but at this point I have to start thinking, and that is simply too much trouble at this point in time.  Suffice it to say that I made these decisions based on things that I either believe or have yet to decide, but just felt that it is better to avoid than to take a chance.  What items have you given up?  It’s sort of an interesting list to make.

In another realm of giving up on things, I was notified today that my Internet Company will no longer be offering e-mail service and that my e-mail account will be permanently deleted in 8 days.  I am stymied and shocked.  I simply do not know if I can manage to notify all of my business and personal contacts and enact a change in that amount of time.  From banking domestically and internationally, to e-bay, paypal and countless download and social networking sites….I’m just a wee bit panicked. 

If I can find a suitable alternative here in the bucolic but isolated mountains of East TN. I think I might just add my Internet provider to the list of items of things I have voluntarily given up.

Updating My Blog Site

It has been a very long time since i posted anything here.  I have continued to blog at MySpace and Multiply, but since no-one was reading anything I had posted here, I sort of just forgot about WordPress.  I watched Martha Stewart’s show today on Blogging and WordPress got a huge plug, so I was reminded to try it again.  This site really, really works well, which is such a pleasure.

I’ve just posted many of the blogs that I had perviously posted at the other sites.  These posts date from the period of January 2008 to present.  They are posted oldest to newest.

I’m anxious to give this another try.  Finding out how to attract readers is this week’s goal.

If it’s at all possible to fall head over heels in love through the tv screen then I have hit the jackpot.  Travis and Presley from the Great American Dog have stolen my heart. And they won the title of Greatest American Dog and $250,000.   I don’t know who is the best looking or has the sweetest personality. A match made in heaven for sure.

And Jarrod Miller can joing the family too.  Sigh