Blogging the food, culture and folkways of Wythe County, Virginia, and the Mountain Empire

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happy birthday e

January 8th, 2013 · music, news

Today, Elvis Aaron Presley would have been 78 years old. I wonder what the King would think of the world in which we now live. E was a complex man, a politically conservative drug addict who cherished his parents, loved his wife, and yet cheated on her on a regular basis. He lived a life of celebrity dysfunction. Much of his music reflected the turmoil that surrounded him. From the testosterone laden, chest pounding thumping beat of “Hunka Hunka Burnin’ Love,” the heartbreak of “Are You Lonesome Tonight,” and the promise of  “In the Ghetto,” he entertained tens of millions by singing about his life. He was both loyal and generous to his friends and fans, yet at the end, he died alone. His death was reminiscent of a line from the T.S. Eliot poem The Hollow Men: “That’s the way the world ends, not with a bang, but with a whimper.”

Once a year on this date, I fix an Elvis Special – A peanut butter, banana, and bacon sandwich. The correct way of making this sandwich is to mash two tablespoons of creamy peanut butter together with a slightly ripe banana to make a spread. Make a sandwich with white bread and the spread. Saute the sandwich in a cast iron pan in butter. When brown and toasted on both sides, remove from the pan and trim the crust from the sandwich and add two slices of crisp bacon. Elvis was known to consume as many as forty of these in one sitting.

As the King of Rockin’ Roll and the most prominent Southerner since Robert E. Lee, I wonder if Elvis would feel any responsibility for some of the problems facing us today. . . obesity, prescription drug abuse, continued racism. The older I get, I find I am less critical of some and more critical of others, much like the way many people felt about the young Elvis versus the Vegas Elvis.

Our country is facing some monumental problems. Our leaders for the most part are at war. What we have to do is decide what kind of country we want to be. A young Elvis, or the Vegas Elvis?






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forget the war on drugs

December 6th, 2012 · opinion

Forget the war on drugs, we have to declare a war on stupid. Stupid is all around us, but it currently is most evident in our political bodies; specifically the Republican Party. I’m not talking about the fiscal cliff, the rejection of science, the denial of global warming (or climate change,) kowtowing to nutcases like Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, or Grover Norquist, or the fact that they don’t accept the reality that they lost the recent election. I’m talking about the rejection by the 39 Republican Senators who voted against ratification of the United Nations treaty that guarantees the international rights of the disabled.

The pathetic paranoids who believe that the US will somehow cede our sovereignty to the blue helmets and black helicopters are delusional. The treaty is based on OUR own twenty-year-old Americans with Disabilities Act, the Gold Standard for the rights of the disabled. The treaty only makes recommendations that other countries adopt our standards; there are NO enforcement provisions. Adoption will make international travel and study abroad easier, especially for disabled VETERANS.  The treaty was signed by George W. Bush. Former Republican Senator and disabled American war hero Bob Dole came to the floor of the Senate in his wheel chair to plead for ratification.

The vote required 67 votes. It got 61.  These people are just stupid, and we have to rid ourselves of stupid in this country.

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all right, you asked for it

November 29th, 2012 · opinion

Over the course of the last few months, I have had more than a dozen people from both political parties whose opinions I respect ask me to please start up my blog again. Well….here goes nothing. Oh, one thing. In the past when I approved a comment, every comment that person made going forward was automatically approved. Because of a few folks who took advantage, I now will approve each and every comment as it comes.

I guess I should also address some of the language choices I’ve made in past. For those of you who understand the reference, I can go all “Luther” on you in a New York minute. Over Thanksgiving, the wife of one of my favorite cousins who REALLY doesn’t like profanity introduced me to one of her house rules that everyone is asked to follow. She calls it “church mouth,” i.e., don’t let anything come out of your mouth that you wouldn’t use in church. As much as possible, I will try and follow that rule here. Plus, I have discovered a great new (to me) word: gobshite, a word of Irish origin, meaning a person who blabbers on about incredibly senseless things. For instance, Morgan Griffith and Ken “The Cooch” Cuccinelli are both gobshites. See how smoothly those words roll off your tongue?

On those occasions when neither of those options work for me, I’ll put my Aunt Hilda warning up so that you’ll be forewarned. So let me hear from you. Let’s get the dialogue going again.

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thanks andy

July 3rd, 2012 · breaking news, faces and places

Andrew Samuel “Andy” Griffith

June 1, 1926-July 3, 2012

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the fifth best chinese restaurant ever

June 13th, 2012 · food, reviews

Between the two of us, Anne and I have eaten at hundreds of Chinese restaurants in dozens of states and at least two continents. The best meal we ever had was in a small place in New York’s Chinatown that our friends Artie and Sue Roth took us to forty years ago. I remember that it was a small, dark place located in a basement with seating for about a dozen people. The menu was in Chinese, and the waiter didn’t speak English. It was the kind of place where you didn’t order, you just ate what they put in front of you. The food was delicious.

The second best meal was a dim sum place in San Francisco’s Chinatown that Anne’s great aunt Jean took us. Some of the dishes we had there I’ve never seen on any menu since. The third best place was also in San Francisco. We were the only non-Asians in the restaurant. We had salt cooked crab, an amazing dish in which a huge Dungeness Crab is totally encased in sea salt and baked. The salt crust is cracked open table side, and the sweetest crab meat you’ve ever tasted emerges.

The fourth best was at the Peking Duck on Rt.1, south of Alexandria, Va. This is the sister restaurant of the famous Duck Chang’s in Annandale, the first restaurant in the US to offer Peking Duck without 24 hours notice.

Which brings us to the China Garden in Christiansburg. Now, I’ve read the online reviews, and I’m pretty sure that at least one, and maybe all three are talking about another place, because we’ve had take-out from there twice, and ate in last week. The food is fabulous. It is a tiny place, in the Food Lion strip mall on Franklin Street. It is the kind of place you go for the food and not the atmosphere. There are only six booths and no wait service. You check your order off on a paper take out menu, and the chef brings it to you in the order they are finished by one of the seven family members working the line, not necessarily in the order you expect. The dishes tend toward the spicy, with Hunan and Szechuan styles predominating. Try the Mei Fun dishes. Mei Fun includes a variety of meats and vegetables cooked together with rice noodles. Yummilicious!

The next time you’re Jonesing for some General Tso’s, this is THE place. Bon appetit.

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well….it’s me again

May 23rd, 2012 · flora and fauna, musings, photos

Spring on the creek bank

Hi folks, it’s me again. In case you haven’t noticed, I’ve been gone for awhile. After numerous requests,and constant badgering by friends, relatives, and a few strangers, I’ve decided to bring WytheNotes back. (Ok, it was 8 or 9 people and I’m sure at least one of them couldn’t read and another was inebriated.)

I’m still trying to decide if I want to finish up some old business left over from last fall, or just move forward as a kinder, gentler Ron Dees. I’m going to have to ponder that for awhile. If any of you by any chance know someone by the name of Linda Dugas, please tell her Ron says hello, and I haven’t forgotten my promise to her.

No, the reason I chose to come back now is just when you think it’s safe to go back in the water, our friends at Appalachian Electric Power have decided we need their help again. They plan to spend $100,000,000.00…that’s right…$100 million dollars to crisscross the most scenic areas of Wythe County with high tension wires. Isn’t THAT special?

$100 Mill is about what these thieves have spent on legal fees to avoid bringing their plants into compliance with EPA regulations over the last 20 years. AEP and their parent company AMERICAN ELECTRIC POWER are among the biggest polluters in the entire United States.

Cut and paste the above web address and see what wikipedia and others have to say.

TOMORROW, MARCH 24, FROM 5PM T0 8PM, David Wright, Project Manager for Appalachian Power Company, will be conducting a propaganda meeting a FT CHISWELL HIGH SCOOL. History has shown AEP will choose a route that doesn’t go thru an area with the fewest number of houses, just the areas where people raise the least amount of hell. Make sure you,your friends and family attend the meeting, listen carefully to what is said…..then be prepared to forcefully express your opinion. I personally am looking forward to conveying my personal wish to AEP’s traveling snake oil salesman that when he arrives back home, I hope his mother runs out from underneath the front porch and bites him on the leg.


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a snowy morning in heidelberg

January 31st, 2012 · Uncategorized

It was snowing in Heidelberg, Germany, 42 years ago on this date. Somewhere around 4:45am, our daughter Beth was born by Caesarian Section after Anne had spent some 40 hours in labor.

I know I’ve been away for over a month and a half. Lots of stuff has been going on, and I’ll tell you about some of it in the coming days. But, I couldn’t let today pass without acknowledging that today was a big deal in our family for a very long time. Today was a day of celebration. It is now a day of remembrance. It’s been almost three years since we lost Beth, and I miss her every day.

Happy Birthday Sweetheart…wherever you are.

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the grinch who stole christmas

December 24th, 2011 · local government, musings

I’ve had the hardest time this past six weeks trying to write. I guess I’ve been suffering from some kind of intellectual constipation that also includes this nauseous dread of what the coming year is going to be like. Virginia is one of seven battleground states because of our open Senate seat, and we can expect nothing less than a scorched earth campaign from both sides. And while it has been kind of amusing to watch the Republican presidential candidates eat their young, it’s scary as all get out when you consider that one of these bozos has a good chance of becoming president.

The cautious optimism that I felt here on the home front after the November election lasted about two weeks. It took about that long before it became apparent that the BOS Chairman-in-waiting Danny McDaniel and County Administrator- for-Life Papa Doc Dalton are moving to marginalize the new board members. We’ll know in a month or so how that works out. Watch to see to what committees the new supervisors are appointed, and who they in turn appoint to the various advisory commissions.

We don’t have to wait to see what we can expect from the new Commissioner of the Revenue. Faye Barker hasn’t even taken office yet, and she is proving to be what I thought she would be after the first and only time I spoke with her last summer at the Farmers Market: a mean spirited, vindictive woman with low self esteem and a nasty attitude. Though I would have handled things differently, I can understand her reluctance to work with Robert Kegley after the rumor driven negative campaign she ran, but Ms. Barker’s treatment of Donna Leonard is unconscionable. As was reported in the Wednesday print edition of the Wytheville Enterprise (which I have not had an opportunity to read yet) Ms. Leonard is a single mom with an honor roll student at Radford University whose only crime was to support Mr. Kegley. Not only will Donna begin the new year without a job, she will also lose her family’s health insurance. Shame on you Ms. Barker, shame on you. You consider yourself a good christian lady, but actions speak louder than words and you are neither.

Peace on earth, good will to all.

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whatta lotta nunsense

November 14th, 2011 · arts and crafts, reviews

Anne and I spent a delightful Sunday afternoon at the historic Rex Theater in Galax attending a performance of the musical comedy Nunsense, a Galax Theater Guild Production presented by the Arts Council of the Twin Counties, directed by our sister-in-law Stephannie Dees. The premise of the play is that the Little Sisters of Hoboken have pooled

Sister-in-law "Sister" Stephannie Dees

their talents to produce a benefit to raise money so they can bury four of their colleagues currently being stored in the school cafeteria freezer. The four are the last of 52 nuns who died after being accidentally poisoned by some bad soup prepared by Sister Julia, child of God. The play is two hours of jokes, songs, and tons of nun puns performed by a very talented cast. “How do you make holy water? Boil the hell out of it.”

The show has two more performances left, Thursday evening at 7:30 pm, and Sunday afternoon at 2:30 pm. Tickets are $7 ($5 for seniors.) Popcorn, soft drinks, and candy are available in the lobby for only a dollar a piece.

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bos meeting 11/9/11-video

November 11th, 2011 · local government, video

Thanks again to Linda Meyer for providing the following:

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