We Have Too Much Stuff

We have too much stuff at our house. Do you have too much stuff too?

Recently I learned how planned obsolescence and perceived obsolescence have been used to get me to buy more stuff. I also learned how all this stuff creates problems far beyond the lack of space in my house. Watch a video below.

via Fred First

Trip to Floyd – Day 3

This post describes our third day visiting Floyd, Va, on Oct 6, 2007. Here’s the Day 1 and Day 2 posts.

We met Skip Slocum of Live Where You Play real estate at Cafe del Sol on Saturday morning. He took us on a tour Floyd County and showed us some property. I was looking forward to riding in the country — it’s been a tradition in my family since I was a small boy. (Every Sunday after Sunday school my father would take my sisters and me riding through rural Virgina. Most often we explored the Axton, VA area, but we sometimes left Henry County and ventured into Patrick, Franklin, or Pittsylvania countries. Even as children, we enjoyed seeing beautiful farms and the critters that lived on them. My sister Billie, when she was a little girl, saw a "yellow" turkey, which no one else saw. We tease her about it to this day, and she still insists she saw it.)

Skip took us out Franklin Pike to the east and then up 221 to the north. We saw a lot of beautiful land and a few places that we’d like to live. It was great fun just riding around, seeing new places, and sharing stories about life and experiences. We saw a number of places that would be great mountain bike tours.

After several hours of touring northeast Floyd County, we returned to Cafe del Sol and had lunch. Soon after we arrived, Doug Thompson came in and we invited him to join us. From the time I spent around him, Doug seems to know everyone who lives in Floyd. We had a good lunch and said goodbye to Skip and Doug.Fred First photo

We walked down to the Floyd Country Store. I had a $20 gift certificate to spend — from winning the Friday Night Jamboree raffle the previous evening. I knew exactly what I wanted to buy with it. It took me a while to find it, but I finally located Fred First’s book Slow Road Home. I had been waiting for the right time to get Fred’s book, and I knew this was it. The karmic circle was complete — my first awareness of Floyd came from looking at Fred’s photos (his photo to the right) on his Fragments from Floyd blog several years ago, and I get to buy Fred’s book at the Floyd Country Store. The only part missing from this story was Fred — unfortunately, I didn’t get to meet him on this trip.

We hopped in our rental car and drove south to see the Jacksonville Center. There’s some interesting art being created there and I wish we had had more time and energy to explore. I was intrigued by the Sustainable Living Educational Center and the Association of Energy Conservation Professionals office on the grounds. Perhaps I’ll spend some time with them in the future.

Our next stop was the Great Oaks Country Club. I have resumed my golf habit in my later years (in place of backpacking, racquetball, and white-water kayaking, for various reasons), and I wanted to see the local golf course. We pulled into the parking lot, and I walked onto the putting green and looked at  the ninth and eighteenth holes. It looks like a good golf course.

We were running low on energy, so we picked up some groceries and headed to our farm house to have dinner. After dinner, we decided to stay in and relax. Later in the evening, we stepped outside to look at the stars. The night was quiet and dark, and we could see thousands of stars. The Milky Way was obvious, and shooting stars flashed by every few minutes. We really miss quiet nights and starry skies — in the mid-1990s we could see stars from our back deck and the traffic noise was minimal. Since then our area has been transformed from rural to Atlanta suburb, and we no longer have quiet nights and we can’t see many stars. We fought a good fight to preserve the rural character of our area but Atlanta’s growth is an unstoppable force and real estate developers have been getting rich throwing up stores and subdivisions all around us. It doesn’t feel like home anymore.

Another full day — we needed sleep. Sunday was travel day — return to Atlanta.

Trip to Floyd – Day 1
Trip to Floyd – Day 2
Trip to Floyd – Day 4

Trip to Floyd – Day 1

We arrived in Floyd at mid-afternoon on Thursday, Oct 3. I was surprised at how small the town of Floyd is, in contrast to its reputation. It felt like we had time traveled back to Mayberry. We were uncomfortably hungry, so we headed for the Floyd Country Store. We hadn’t eaten since breakfast at 6:30am at our home north of Atlanta. For lunch, I ordered a strawberry milkshake, a grilled cheese sandwich with tomatoes, and a peanut butter cookie (here’s the menu). The food would have been delicious if I hadn’t been so hungry, and it was especially good given that it had been eight very long hours since we had breakfast.

I was talking with Jen at the front cash register when I spotted someone I felt like I knew but had never met. David St. Lawrence, author of the Making Ripples blog and the Danger Quicksand book, had walked into the Floyd Country Store. I recognized him from his photo on his blog. After I introduced myself, he immediately invited Ann and I to sit down and talk. He spent almost two hours answering questions and describing the Floyd area, with the underlying theme that Floyd is a great place to live (if you are not dependent on the local economy for employment). I had started reading David’s blog several years ago on the recommendation of Fred First, who writes the Fragments from Floyd blog. (I had discovered Fred’s blog in my ongoing search for great photographs of rural Virginia.) David had been living near Charlottesville at the time, but he and his wife Gretchen had moved to Floyd after falling in love with the area. He is one of many unofficial PR people for Floyd, and he generously took time from his busy schedule to talk with us.

David introduced us to Woody Crenshaw, owner (with his wife Jackie) of the Floyd Country Store and one of the business leaders who has been instrumental in the renovation of downtown Floyd. In addition to the home-grown residents, Floyd’s population includes artists, musicians, and techies who have relocated to the area. There are several art galleries displaying the work of local artists. Excellent musicians emerge from the hills on Friday and Saturday to entertain and celebrate the music they love. Several local establishments have wi-fi so patrons can stay connected to the Internet. The local telecommunications company, Citizens, provides high-speed Internet as well as phone and cable TV service for the surrounding area — a great infrastructure for information workers.

We soon discovered an inconvenience: our cell phones (Cingular/AT&T) could not get a connection. We couldn’t check our voice mail or make local calls. So much for the new AT&T.

Renovated Farm House at Miracle Farm

We were staying at the Miracle Farm B&B about 8 miles west of Floyd. We met Karen Osborne, who relocated from the Bay Area in California, when we checked into the renovated farmhouse where we were staying. The farmhouse is not for visitors who want luxury, but how many 5 star hotels feature the sweet music of a mountain stream as you fall asleep? Karen and her husband Ed prepare four-course organic breakfasts that would be a great start for a strenuous day of mountain biking or kayaking.

We had dinner at the Oddfellas Cantina — good food and good music. With full bellies and a long day behind us, we headed to the farmhouse for some rest and relaxation.

To wake up in a suburb of Atlanta and fall asleep in a rustic farmhouse near Floyd, VA, is a great day.

Trip to Floyd – Day 2
Trip to Floyd – Day 3
Trip to Floyd – Day 4

Sensing Danger

Fred is one of my favorite bloggers. He lives away from civilization in a beautiful valley in the mountains near Floyd, Va. There are no other houses near his home. He found himself in an tense, potentially lethal situation recently. Here’s one of his observations:

…I ought to remember I am not invincible just because I am on my own property.

I have encountered strangers with guns many times in the woods, and it can be unnerving (even if you haven’t seen Deliverance).

Here’s the link: Big Angels

Long ago, in what seems like a dream, Bob Bushnell, Neil Hauck, Jack Lester and I encountered two deer hunters on a backpacking trip in West Virginia. They were waiting in tree stands in a grove of apple trees deep in the Monongahela National Forest.

They were very angry — they said that we had ruined their hunt and we shouldn’t be there. I apologized that we had walked into their hunting area; I also said that we were in a National Forest and had a right to be there. Then they disappeared down a trail deeper into the forest. Even though it was mid-afternoon, the situation felt very ominous as the daylight was fading due to a snow storm moving in. We decided to not to spend the night in the forest.

We hiked several miles to the parking area and unloaded our backpacks. Big flakes of snow were falling as we prepared for the long drive back to Charlottesville in the dark. As we drove out of the parking area, the deer hunters emerged from the forest.

It was one of the strangest days I ever spent in the woods.