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Good Porching


I could do some serious porching at this house in Friendship. The sun came out finally right before we left, and I made sure to take a snapshot of this place on a point of land jutting into a gut that at low tide is dry enough for a causeway.

This morning I vowed that today I would be very productive and industrious in regards to maintaining a good summer vibe: That means eating fresh tomatoes, watering my weeds with great diligence, spending as much time as possible barefooted. There's the minor nuisance of going to work -- you know, my "job" -- but seems to me that August standards should apply. Good Enough For August is an appropriate battle cry.

(By the way, the great thing about the Olympics is that you never have to come up with anything to do in the evening. It clears the decks and removes the excruciating social pressure to do stuff like go to the opera -- which torments me, as you can imagine. The only problem with the Olympics is that there are too many persnickety sports like synchronized diving -- oh no, he made a small splash! His alignment was off by a billionth of a nanometer! She blinked inappropriately!)


Shafer on convention coverage: "Slate, I'm embarrassed to admit, is sending a team of eight to Denver and six to St. Paul. Attention! Don Graham! We're spending your cash like it's Zimbabwean bank notes!"


Also from Slate: Why read my mutterings about women's gymnastics when you can spend time with something much better from Meghan O'Rourke?

[more to come]

By Joel Achenbach  |  August 14, 2008; 9:57 AM ET
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Next: Next Stop: The Dead Zone


I went back to warn everyone, honest, but Kim and someone else had beat me to it. So, am I first, second or third?

Great porch! Let's do lunch.

Posted by: dbG | August 14, 2008 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Shriek and dr if you have already moved over, CBC is also streaming all coverage and then some. Check the Olmpics portion of the site. This includes Bold coverage. Your tax dollars at work.

Posted by: dmd | August 14, 2008 10:29 AM | Report abuse

Olympics make for seriously good knitting time. I watch the the race parts and listen to most of the in between stuff. It has a good old fashioned radio kind of feel to it. Perfectly porchable listening.

Posted by: dr | August 14, 2008 10:32 AM | Report abuse

Those nice flowers around the porch are hollyhocks, aren't they?

Thanks for the tips dr and dmd. I'll pass the info on the the dottir about Bold on the intertubes. I've got very basic cable, no Bold or other digital channels.

Almost local boy Mike Brown "won" another 4th place for Canada last night in swimming.
Man, we are behind Togo in the medal count for crying out. Some fourth places like Chistine what's-her-name in weightlifting are great results but others, like Brown's, not so much.

Posted by: shrieking denizen | August 14, 2008 10:41 AM | Report abuse

Joel, how could you possibly leave that house? White trim, grey shingles (looks like), open porch with white chairs, beautiful water's ege view and summer flowers, all that a welcoming house can be. At home, tho we would call your "gut" a "spit", as in a small spit of land. Was the interior paneled in old pine or similar wood?

Posted by: Vintage Lady | August 14, 2008 10:46 AM | Report abuse

VL, I'm sorry to say that we weren't staying in THAT house. Though the one we were in was grand, too.

The "gut" is a water passage between a spit of land and an island, and at low tide it's dry, allowing someone in a 4WD to motor directly to the island.

Posted by: Achenbach | August 14, 2008 10:48 AM | Report abuse

SCC: ege???? Should be edge.

Posted by: Vintage Lady | August 14, 2008 10:49 AM | Report abuse

Don't walk barefoot, you'll get worms.

Posted by: Norm | August 14, 2008 10:52 AM | Report abuse

That house makes the heat of Texas feel all the worse. Once again, here's the story of Florida National Guard troops rescued from the broiler:

Posted by: Dave of the Coonties | August 14, 2008 10:56 AM | Report abuse

Norm, you reminded me of my mother in my younger days. Thank you for the lovely flashback.

Posted by: dr | August 14, 2008 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Going back several kits (and two days), omni posted a famous first lines quiz that we had done before. That didn't keep me from missing one anyways.

But one of the answers is embedded in the Bad Writing link above. Who knew that such fame could be had?

I figure by now we have totally exhausted little girl's gymnastics. Some people like to watch those cute little urchins do their impossible tricks. More power to them. They are very impressive.

I have seen troupes of Chinese acrobats both in China and on tour in the US do even more stunning things, so the silly bouncing and flipping seems kind of tame compared to the bending and spinning they can do when they are out to impress audiences rather than grab Olympic medals.

Posted by: yellojkt | August 14, 2008 11:07 AM | Report abuse

Walking in the sand prevents pidgen toe.

Thanks, Joel, have now got mental picture of the gut. Does it have that rich primative smell?

You know, the first things that drew me to your blog was the tomato talk and the porch. A house without a porch is incomplete.

Posted by: Vintage Lady | August 14, 2008 11:10 AM | Report abuse

I think, on some secret level, most Olympians understand that when you are dealing with competitors so close in skill, a victory has an awful lot of luck involved. But the prestige of the event mandates that this gets swept under the rug. Statistical notions like confidence levels get ignored. That is, we work really hard to forget that in many cases a do-over would yield a totally different result.

And there are sound psychological reasons for this. I mean, it wouldn't be much fun to win a medal that is, you know, just mostly gold.

However, there are heroic exceptions to this tyranny of stochastic noise. Of which one shining example is women's beach volleyball, where one team must win by at least two points. This lessens, somewhat, the inherent randomness of the outcome.

Indeed it is the intellectual satisfaction that comes from watching a sport with such profound respect for the measurement process and the intrinsic uncertainties embedded therein that explains my fascination with the sport.

Posted by: RD Padouk | August 14, 2008 11:14 AM | Report abuse

My career Air Force dad who often went on joint forces exercises called conditions like what those FL National Guard troops faced "practicing bleeding" and saw little sense in it.

His Army compatriots thought that was emblematic of the AF lack of toughness. YMMV.

Posted by: yellojkt | August 14, 2008 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Swimming in salt water cures warts and acne.

Done for the day....

Posted by: Vintage Lady | August 14, 2008 11:14 AM | Report abuse

I have only managed to watch just little portions of the games.While watching the gynastics the other night. The judges(3 stooges) were able to watch a super slow mo replay on their computer screens.I think that is a bit trivial. Are they just too old and set in their ways to have to see it over and over again. It is a shame that the judges(stooges) have so much say in determining a winner.

Also do the Judges,referees,umpires have to go through a competition to see who gets to work the Olympics.If not they should.

Whenever I see a bad call,i always shout out Carolina Ref,from days of watching UM Terps football(sorry to our Carolina boodlers)

Posted by: greenwithenvy | August 14, 2008 11:16 AM | Report abuse


Tennis also requires victories to be decisive, but they don't play those games in bikinis. Yet.

Posted by: yellojkt | August 14, 2008 11:19 AM | Report abuse

While anyone is out "watering the weeds" please keep an eye out for the following...

Since many of you seem to enjoy gardening and some of you probably remember elm and chestnut trees getting wiped-out, thought you may want to know about the local threat to ash trees - I know this is off-topic, but part of the beauty of living here is the diversity of flora and old hard-wood forests. Sorry if the formating is kludged - I've cut this from an email...

August 5, 2008

SUBJECT: Four Additional Counties in Virginia Added to the Quarantine Area
for Emerald Ash Borer (Agrilus planipennis)

On July 21, 2008, the State of Virginia established a quarantine area for emerald ash borer (EAB) which included Arlington, Fauquier, Loudon, and Prince William Counties. Virginia also established a quarantine area for the independent Cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas, and Manassas Park.

Under Virginia law an independent city is a distinct and separate governmental unit from the county in which it is located.

EAB has not been detected in these additional areas, but Virginia has
established these as quarantine areas due to their physical proximity to known infestations and because of known high risk associations with Fairfax County such as the movement of woody landscaping debris and firewood in recent years.

In response to Virginia's phytosanitary action, APHIS is publishing regulations which are parallel to Virginia's for EAB in Arlington, Fauquier, Loudon, and Prince William Counties and the independent Cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas, and Manassas Park. Due to the phytosanitary actions taken by the State of Virginia to place these EAB restrictions in place, APHIS is establishing a parallel quarantine area in order to prevent the further spread of EAB. Accordingly, effective immediately, all interstate movement of EAB-regulated articles from the quarantined area must be done in accordance with the attached Federal Order. Specifically, the interstate movement of EAB-host wood and wood products from Arlington, Fauquier, Loudon, and Prince William Counties and the independent Cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas, and Manassas Park is regulated, including firewood of all hardwood species, nursery stock, green lumber, waste, compost, and chips of ash species.

EAB is present in some parts of the United States, but is subject to official controls to prevent further spread. Currently, Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Lawrence, and Mercer Counties in western Pennsylvania have been established as quarantine areas for EAB, together with the entire States of Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois. Portions of Michigan's Upper Peninsula, the entirety of Michigan's Lower Peninsula, Prince George's County in Maryland, and Fairfax County in Virginia, have also been established as quarantine areas and EAB was detected last year in one county in West Virginia.

EAB is an invasive wood boring beetle that is native to China and eastern Asia. EAB probably arrived in North America hidden in wood packing materials commonly used to ship consumer and other goods. It was first detected in the United States in southeastern Michigan. Since then, EAB has been responsible for the death and decline of more that 25 million ash trees in the United States. The interstate movement of firewood from quarantined areas is an especially high risk pathway for spreading EAB, and APHIS is working with State cooperators and foresters to raise awareness about this threat among the public.

EAB is considered to be present in some areas in the United States, and subject to official control.

Posted by: Dmon | August 14, 2008 11:23 AM | Report abuse

I have watched VERY little of the Olympics so far (about 20 minutes of Chinese balance beam competitors, that's all.) I'm sanguine in my assumption that it will all be on Youtube or somewhere else on the internet forever and I'll be able to watch whatever I want whenever I want.

Anyway, I don't know if some other commentator has made this point already, but if I were the American coach, I would definitely be out there measuring the floor mat. If more than one American girl went out of bounds, maybe those ingenious Chinese made the thing a few centimeters smaller than the regulation size--hey, they have demonstrated that they are not overly fastidious about following the rules.

Posted by: kbertocci | August 14, 2008 11:28 AM | Report abuse

That picture reminds me of the home my mother briefly lived in as a child. It was by a place on the Puget Sound called "Lakebay." We used to visit nearby Penrose Point State Park each summer as kids and never failed to express awe at how the shoreline would contract and expand with the tide.

There was a little store that you could reach by foot during part of the day, so long as you watched out for the nipping crabs, but only by bridge the rest of the day.

Nipping crabs aside, my sibs and I much preferred running out in bare feet over this strip of warm, slightly mucky sand, to the store. (The only exception was my baby sister who used to complain about the general muckiness.) The ice cream drumsticks we bought from the nice lady who worked there always seemed to taste better that way.

About 10 years ago I went back for a visit and my siblings and I made a point of driving down to Lakebay Despite being alleged adults pushing middle age, we still took off our shoes and ran out to the store. The drumsticks were just as good. The lady, although different, was still nice.

And my sister still complained about the muckiness.

Posted by: RD Padouk | August 14, 2008 11:28 AM | Report abuse

Norm, I never went barefoot because there was clover in the lawn and I might step on a bee. Good was the summer when we managed to avoid stings.

Yello, from last kit, my normal beverage request is unsweet tea. If I want a cup, it's hot tea, please.

Posted by: slyness | August 14, 2008 11:29 AM | Report abuse

oops, I don't remember doing that firstlines quiz.

Still find it interesting that of the 52 books listed as answers I've read ~30%, yet of the correct answers I've read ~76%.

Posted by: omni | August 14, 2008 11:29 AM | Report abuse

RD, what a sweet multi-sensory memory!

The whole Maine adventure and especially the island reminds me of One Morning in Maine by Robert McCloskey, of Make Way for Ducklings fame.

Posted by: kbertocci | August 14, 2008 11:35 AM | Report abuse

That porch reminds me that I used to be a practicioner of the fine art of energetic porching and the skilful practice of breakfast, lunch, tea, cocktails, and dinner porchmanship.

At one time lived in a house on top of a hill just south of the Equator. Though the rotation of the earth is much faster there, I had no problem porching with a grand view of snow-capped Mount Kenya.

Now, I don't have a porch, someone please fax me one.

Posted by: Brag | August 14, 2008 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Thanks kb!

I really enjoyed both of those Slate articles. The nice thing about Slate is that after a while you get to appreciate the different voices of the contributers.

I like the observation of how coverage of both the Conventions and the Olympics are being treated like Reality Shows. In both the alleged topics, politics and sports, get relegated behind Human Drama. Now, granted, Human Drama is compelling. But, done right, so are politics and sports.

Posted by: RD Padouk | August 14, 2008 11:54 AM | Report abuse

Good day, all.

Wow, I can see myself on that porch with friends and family. I have my feet up and all of us are eating sandwiches of some sort (chicken or tuna salad, I think) and sipping beverages.

Summertime, and the livin' is easy.


Posted by: bc | August 14, 2008 12:21 PM | Report abuse

rd - i'm sure the itty bitty bikinis on the volleyball players don't affect you in the slightest do they? i'm surprised they don't any "wardrobe malfunctions"! one of the articles i read yest about why swimmers don't have breasts (they do, the swimsuit is just so tight that it flattens them out) said that two swimmers had "wardrobe malfunctions" prior to their swim - apparently it takes 30 minutes to put on that suit!

anybody read about the women's softball team - apparently they are kicking butt and taking names! no one even comes close to them - can't find the article but i think i read that one game they were beating the other team so bad that they cut the game short...

and this is an interesting article in slate:

stoping for ducks - mom and i were at chincoteague island for the 4th of july and we had THREE duck crossings we had to stop for in two days... sooo cute the little ducklings following their mother across the road...

Posted by: mo | August 14, 2008 12:41 PM | Report abuse

can anyone tell i'm obsessed with the olympics?

Posted by: mo | August 14, 2008 12:42 PM | Report abuse

mo - My wife and I have noticed that in those high tech suits the male swimmers and the female swimmers look pretty similar.

I don't feel too guilty about admiring the female volleyball players considering the huge amount of male flesh also proudly on display.

I mean, did you see the male synchronized divers? I felt as if the risk of wardrobe malfunction from those itty bitty swimsuits was very real.

Posted by: RD Padouk | August 14, 2008 12:56 PM | Report abuse

ooo my comment hit the wirdy dird filter!

all i said was i'm surprised the volleyball players don't look overexposed in those tiny bikinis - maybe cuz they are in such great shape...

and yes, the teeny tiny trunks on the divers! um... yeah...

(maybe the filter was reading my mind!)

Posted by: mo | August 14, 2008 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Good comment on porchmanship, brag!

My last stint in grad school was at the diagonally (Oops! Harry P flashback there) opposite end of Ohio from where I lived with my then-husband. I'd spend weekdays at school and most weekends at home.

Right before I left, we built a large, open-sided, roofed deck outside the kitchen door, the stairs to the yard were to one side and had several landings and turns so it wasn't one, long flight down. We built it halfway around an ancient black walnut tree, so there was a slight bump into the deck.

Although the front porch was just a few steps up from the ground, the land in the back fell sharply, so while the kitchen was on the first floor, it was actually 2 stories above the backyard.

I loved that deck so much I'd call it a porch today. You could see all the way to I70 on it, past the farmer's land to the east of us, over the rolling green, deer, raccoons, cattle and sheep. I'd like to invite you all to that deck, but . . .

Posted by: dbG | August 14, 2008 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Meant to add, every weekend when I came home all our friends would come over for tea, which usually transmogrified into bbq.

Someone would go into the backyard and pick tomatoes, raspberries, apples and herbs, others would bring grapes from their arbors, I miss both the lazy days and old friends.

Posted by: dbG | August 14, 2008 1:51 PM | Report abuse

dmd, no offense intended. I, too, am much thrown off my the times in China, plus tapings to be broadcast later. Zero apology necessary.

It was nice seeing a much older Mark Spitz on the NBC morning program, but hard to grasp that he has aged and has gray hair. Running around summertime Munich and Bavaria in '72--and running into a variety of athletes from all over the world--seems like yesterday.

The swimsuit I packed for Prien and the language-school summer was a blue-and- white nylon Speedo, gives me goosebumps thinking of Spitz in his skimpy Speedos. Of course, Lothar Ulrich of Prien gave me goosebumps then, perhaps even bigger goosebumps for my Swedish summer beau Claes Henning, son of the '72 Olympics pentathalon coach.

Claes' grandfather, Thor, took silver in the 400 meter breaststroke in 1912 in Stockholm and 1920 in Antwerp, as well as silver in the 200 meter breaststroke in 1920 in Antwerp.

I AM rooting each time Phelps (and do wonder if he's a cousin on the Phelps line) swims and fervently hoping he set new records and wins a whopping number of medals. I also find myself rooting for the Golden Staters such as the comely Coughlin and California-cool Peirsol, plus all the American beach volleyballers. I think it would be great fun to be in Beijing--minus the deep-fried scorpions and duck bills.

Not such good news for a local female fencer from San Antonio--felled by food poisoning:

No path report yet. *drumming fingers impatiently*

Nice pic of quaint coastal cottage. MUST visit Maine some day, but Oregon's coast would be a bigger draw, I'm certain.

Posted by: Loomis | August 14, 2008 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Changing the subject a bit... a little darker than that beautiful porch... what's gonna happen in Pakistan with Musharraf's resignation?

Posted by: TBG | August 14, 2008 2:45 PM | Report abuse

This house has been completely renovated at least once since I lived there(1979-1980) but that was my porch, off my bedroom on the second floor. Back then, pre-renovation, it took some courage or a measure of desperation to trust the structure enough to sit out there, but the tree that was there then was bigger, too, and it was a great spot in spring and summer.

Don't you love Google Maps street view!!?,-81.619856&sspn=0.003971,0.002446&ie=UTF8&ll=42.427828,-71.121368&spn=0.02946,0.054932&t=h&z=14&layer=c&cbll=42.413072,-71.12461&panoid=X5roB28eTHQ6JztLMROhUQ&cbp=1,157.15733197802174,,0,-15.980958564417154

Posted by: kbertocci | August 14, 2008 2:56 PM | Report abuse

New kit!

Posted by: shrieking denizen | August 14, 2008 3:01 PM | Report abuse

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