The Eye, with jewels

Chameleon: An Interactive Exploration

Part VI -- Reminiscing Anecdotally

"The world of books is the most remarkable creation of man. Nothing else that he builds ever lasts. Monuments fall, nations perish, civilizations grow old and die out; and, after an era of darkness, new races build others. But in the world of books are volumes that have seen this happen again and again, and yet live on, still young, still as fresh as the day they were written, still telling men's hearts of the hearts of men centuries dead."
-- Clarence Shepard Day, Jr., once-reknowned author, poet, artist, and outspoken supporter of women's rights

"My love for you is like the ocean: vast, volatile, and potentially deadly."
-- male cartoon character to his woman friend on a valentine card he's made for her

"The time to be happy is now. The place to be happy is here. The way to be happy is to make others so."
-- Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899), a Civil War veteran, political leader, and orator who presented what were then considered radical views on religion, slavery and women's suffrage

"For you shall go out in joy/ and be led back in peace./ the mountains and hills before you/ shall burst into song./ and all the trees of the field shall/ clap their hands."
-- Isaiah 55:12

"In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside of you."
-- Deepak Chopra, medical doctor, author and speaker, pioneer in the field of mind-body medicine and named by Time magazine among the "Top 100 Icons and Heroes of the Century" in 1999, "the poet prophet of alternative medicine"

Lady Liberty, 'We can do no other' Judaica
I, A Woman

Prelude (Abbreviated Synopsis of the Synopsis of Technology and Me) -- Strophe -- Growing Up Rich (To The Manner/Manor Born) -- Manhattan! -- Music and Hippiedom -- Settling Down and Yuppiedom -- Technology and Careerism -- Wilderness Basics (Beasts and Heathens Part 1) -- Art and the Internet (Beasts and Heathens Part 2) -- Epic Coitus Interruptus -- Town/Community Life -- Frivolities -- Beasts and Heathens (Finale) -- Recoveries -- Reprise -- Joie Plaisir Eibr -- NOW (New Original Word)

Chapter 7 (1996-2008) -- Art and the Internet (Beasts and Heathens)

Gott Lacht

"When I need you/ I just close my eyes/ And I'm with you. And all that I so wanna give you/ It's only a heartbeat away./ When I need love/ I hold out my hands/ And I touch love. I never knew there was so much love/ Keeping me warm night and day...."

-- When I Need You by Leo Sayer, performed by Celine Dion on the album "Let's Talk About Love"

"I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man."

It's interesting that the Commonwealth of Virginia has become somewhat stodgy and immoveably traditional in behaviors and attitudes as its most reknowned native son was totally the opposite. Thomas Jefferson was an innovator in many fields, as a tour of Monticello makes clear, as well as a profound thinker and activist in the daring and danger-fraught creation of a new nation, not a light undertaking by any means. That he was conflicted mentally and personally by the institution of slavery is also apparent in his history and wording of the Constitution. Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence and served as Minister to France whose revolution he also supported, Secretary of State, and American Vice President and two-term President, as well as enlightening an Age and a university, which he designed. Through argument and affiliation, myth and mysticism, revolution and reflection, cunning and war something totally new and never before tried anywhere was forged, the United States of America. And who knew how well it would succeed? He's a hero that might, in the reality of his life and work, be more studied and revered there.

Summary: I created and developed a locally to internationally awarded and acclaimed website, popular locally to worldwide, encouraging and promoting arts and sciences, responsible political engagement, civic involvement, and charitable contributions with organizational listings and elucidated links, as well as healthy home life and environment, ironically extolling the beauties and country values of Virginia's Shenandoah Valley, a place which could have been known around the planet as a positive influence and innovative leader during the Internet Revolution had it not chosen instead to devote itself with determined and merciless active intent to macho egoism and selfish materialism in the process of insisting upon a violently lawless personal and professional atmosphere for every one and every thing, most particularly there. To my mind, it fell on its own petard, so to speak, to the ultimate benefit of one of the best small towns in America, Jonesborough, Tennessee, and the fabulous Mountain Empire.

A Clarification of Who's Insane: Among many stereotypes floating around is one that "artists are crazy." Most of those associated with ACR/OSCR are well-educated and some have advanced degrees, masters or PhDs. None evidence any sign of psychoses or neuroses in their exercise of creative expression and experiential insight, but rather an interest in and care for the planet, universe, living species and, frequently but not necessarily (a few being athetists or agnostics), God. The site has always been eclectic in participation and representation of differing, wide-ranging viewpoints and attitudes, meaning to convey the broad spectra that is America and the world. In their personal lives, all have been and are responsible hard-workers, in fields of management and education particularly, and productive citizens engaging in welcomed voluntary civic activities. Quite a few have been recipients individually of prestigious awards and public recognition for their varying achievements.

As examples, retired educator Dr. Gwendoline Fortune (now President and Literary Editor as well as long-time ACR/OSCR contributor and supporter) was an invited member of President Richard Nixon's original opening visit to Communist China years ago as well as an author of three published books. Don Silvius, a regular ACR/OSCR contributor of articles and photographs, has been recognized repeatedly for his volunteer work in historic research and Little League guidance and also has a published book. Dr. Bill Stone, also an ACR/OSCR contributor of material and support, is a much sought-after by government, industry and occasionally media expert in a rarified aspect of biochemical experimentation and research, in addition to being a university department chair for many years. Vera Jones (ACR/OSCR contributor and now Board Member) is a multiply-awarded and nationally recognized graphic artist from watercolors to ceramics who most recently served as sole judge for the Watauga Art League Exhibit and Show at Sycamore Shoals in Elizabethton TN. Dr. Frances Lamberts (also a long-time ACR/OSCR contributor and now Board Member) was most recently the subject of a laudatory article on her personal devotion to environmentally responsible causes and lifestyles, most especially her creation and maintenance for decades of an ecologically friendly and balanced one acre homestead within the town limits of Jonesborough. Steve Cook, many of whose photographs grace ACR/OSCR pages, creator and organizer of Music on the Square as well as an accomplished craftsman, musician and business owner, was recently named a "regional hero" by Marquee Magazine. It has always been an honor and pleasure to present artists like these, and to know them as personal friends, with a sampling on-line of their work in ACR/OSCR so the region, country and world might become acquainted too somewhat with such excellent citizens and human beings. It's worth noting, on my own behalf, that creating, designing, managing, coding, promoting and coordinating ACR/OSCR material has required concerted effort and application of rational intelligence, as well as professional education and skills, in the process of making it inter/nationally recognized, along with my art, poetry particularly, for quality and content worthy of notice and acclaim.

In contrast to that is the odd hallucination and mass psychosis that has pervaded the Shenandoah Valley and Virginia in its very criminal and inhumane behaviors and attitudes, not just toward me but toward many, many people, including a lot of children. In some ways it appears to be a case of mistaken identity: who people there kept insisting I was despite reams of verbal and written, irrefutable and very public documentation and knowledge to the contrary. A few manifestations of that follow.

Nothing could be too much more insane than Paula Price calling me, in a conversation initiated by her, "a piece of shit" and referring to ACR/OSCR as my "stupid little webpage." She also suggested that I devote myself to "children and flowers." I have always cared actively and effectively for children and flowers and that is very evident in my life, university degree, clinical work, homes, friendships, writing, graphics and website. Her son on the other hand committed suicide, according to her, which might indicate some incapacity in caring for children on her part instead. I don't know how or if she has demonstrated her devotion to flora, cultivated and not, in her life and residences, but mine there is still budding and blooming last I saw less than a year ago. Her husband, Sam, derided my assertion that criminalities there harmful, if not fatal, not just to me but many others and much irreplaceable property, were evil as insane and advised me to stop "going on" about them because I was behaving "bizarrely" and needed to be confined before "I killed myself or someone else" in my out-of-control insanity, as he defined it. I had no plans for either one of those forks in the road but was happily busy at that time receiving art instruction from some very gifted and recognized friends here who participated in and enjoyed the output of those lessons and sessions.

[adjective] 1. morally wrong or bad; immoral; wicked: evil deeds;
an evil life.
"2. harmful; injurious:
evil laws.
"3. characterized or accompanied by misfortune or suffering; unfortunate; disastrous:
to be fallen on evil days.
"4. due to actual or imputed bad conduct or character:
an evil reputation.
"5. marked by anger, irritability, irascibility, etc.:
He is known for his evil disposition.
[noun] "6. that which is evil; evil quality, intention, or conduct:
to choose the lesser of two evils.
"7. the force in nature that governs and gives rise to wickedness and sin.
"8. the wicked or immoral part of someone or something:
The evil in his nature has destroyed the good.
"9. harm; mischief; misfortune:
to wish one evil.
"10. anything causing injury or harm:
Tobacco is considered by some to be an evil.
"11. a harmful aspect, effect, or consequence:
the evils of alcohol.
"12. a disease, as king's evil.
[adverb] "13. in an evil manner; badly; ill:
It went evil with him.
[idiom] "14. the evil one, the devil;
Although I asked him several times the name of the original arresting officer, Sam never gave it to me. That Deputy was a small man with dark hair in perhaps his mid-40s. His arrest of me was a violation of his oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States of America and caused horrendous horror exponentially and all around increasingly. Hank Zimmerman once wrote to someone else in the Valley: "I can't explain why this is happening. She's been harassing me and my wife for quite a while. It's disturbing, but I've been advised to ignore it." He was referencing my protests of claiming to be "the original Valley's home page" -- in the process refusing to compete fairly in the commercial marketplace and his incomprehensible attitude that he didn't really know me, most particularly well and intimately as I could very well prove and remember that he did and at his instigation and persistence initially.

In her fantasy world, my mother said once that she'd been a programmer too. What she meant was that she'd learned how to load parameters into real estate applications to secure the data and results she needed. She had no concept at all of software design or application languages, e.g. Cobol, Pascal, HTML, or run-time coding, for micro, mini and mainframe computers. She also asserted that intelligence is inherited through the mother. It is not. It's a random combination of genes received from both parents equally plus subsequent environment, interaction, education, and life experience. Of my arrest and the ransacking of my house and credit following my call to EMERGENCY 911 for needed assistance in protecting myself and my property, she commented, "You just didn't get what you wanted. Life isn't fair, Jeannette." Arrested again four times, institutionalized for three months, and on probation with medication and therapy consequent to my repeated protests of original and continuing criminalities, she advised, "Just admit you made a mistake, Jeannette. Why don't you buy back your house and start a computer business here again?" When I explained that I hadn't money or health for either of those possibilities, she suggested, "Apply for welfare then." When I noted that my real estate and financial holdings precluded qualifying for that, she said, "Couldn't you hide your assets?"

My third husand, in the process still of refusing repeatedly to leave my home voluntarily on request before or after my call to EMERGENCY 911 and being arrested for assault instead of assisted legally in any way by the Sheriff's Department, Magistrate and legal community, advised me, "Just plead guilty and get it over with." John Waybright responded, when I related in horrified bewilderment that arresting deputies had said I was "intoxicated," responded, "Well, you might have been. Remember, you were drinking with me here until 5p.m. that afternoon," never noticing apparently that homeowners do have a right to drink in their own homes and that many, including him and his wife, do and very frequently. The man paid by me to represent my viewpoint and rights concentrated instead on whether or not I hit my third husband ("Did you hit him???") and never, ever addressed the issue of my Constitutional right to be safe and secure in my own home and unimpeded by unwanted trespassers inside it or on my property and the duty of law enforcement to assure that for me as a working and tax-paying citizen there and one who had absolutely no previous criminal encounters with the law. The meaning and importance of EMERGENCY 911 apparently escaped many, many people there and is an inkling of their mental incapacities generally.

In other words, all the insanities and illegalities are on the part of citizens in Virginia and the Shenandoah Valley. It's very obvious that those individuals needed therapies and medications and institutionalizations a long time ago before their mental and moral disarray was allowed to affect people in distant communities as well, most particularly East Tennessee and Jonesborough. What happened in the Valley is an interesting phenomenon and deserves study by research experts in the fields of psychology and sociology/anthropology: a fairly large group of individuals flying in the face of truth, reality, law, reason, sanity, health, ethics, and the best interests of everybody including themselves and their communities. It's similar in some respects to the mid-20th century rise of Nazism in mentality and popularity in Germany and elsewhere: a mass dedication to insanely depraved attitudes and behaviors with aggressive attempts to spread that disease beyond the boundaries of its inception without logical reflection on what participants were really doing and its inexorable, irreversible effects on people and planet and history.

Aside from acquiring ideas, knowledge and discernment from many, many gallery and museum visits countrywide and now worldwide over the internet, I've received formal and informal lessons, and sometimes supplies, in art theory, media, and composition (form, color and spatial relationships) from numerous people throughout my lifetime. Those include prominently my grandmother and her friends, some private tutors, biographers of famous painters -- most particularly The Impressionists, artisan hippies and yippies famous and otherwise, college professors -- of art and psychology especially, my second husband, Bob, who fussed relentlessly about my Jeffersonian (balanced) arrangements and the concept of always having a rationale and reason for action and expression, Robert Kuhn, Gary Carden, Ginger Stone, Margaret Gregg, Carolyn Moore, Vera Jones, John Lysle, John Charles, and, of course, Hank Zimmerman. One of those frequently shared instructions was not to be afraid to make a mistake, to "mess something up," because you never know what interesting directions of design and abstraction you'll end up exploring or what you'll discover that's exciting and different along the way. That requires a free, nurturing and tolerant, sometimes forgiving and supportive environment and expansive atmosphere. Otherwise, there's just stagnation, repetitive iteration and boredom, a kind of enslaved mentality and structure, convention to triviality.

Personally, I love being a student. Attending college full-time, for instance, was absolute heaven for me, especially after working with some redundancy and constriction in offices nine to five. The same is true of creating OSCR/ACR as an internet presence and commercial, now non-profit, enterprise, which has been a constantly challenging and creative, inspiring and intriguing learning experience through reading and interaction in many ways from technical to people and personal and social organizational skills. Playing with graphics software with their many nuances and surprises to create site backgrounds and miniature design "paintings" has been a complete joy. Just discovering color after working with blacks, whites and grays on mini-computers and mainframes was a delight, with no end in sight.

I bought a micro-computer, instead of an electric typewriter, in January 1996, while still partially disabled from a shattered right ankle -- fixated by a plate with five screws on the outside and a pin on the inside -- thinking I would provide myself with supplemental retirement income by doing word processing or desktop publishing from my then-home in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley. After a few months of learning Office applications, most particularly Word, and playing some addictively interesting computer games, I discovered by accident a local bulletin board on-line and from one of its members received a free 800 number for dialing into AOL. Introduced to the internet, I became fascinated by websites, learned some rudimentary HTML, and created a few pages I called O Shenandoah! Country Rag, which was updated weekly due to requirements of using Geocities' free server space and fairly quickly became the premier site in that region.

I had worked very hard to overcome the disabilities of my ankle accident by engaging in home physical therapy, since I couldn't afford the professional kind in the midst of paying off nearly $10,000 in medical bills from the orginal hospitalizations and surgery which were uncovered by insurance. Questioning some detailed charges, I was told by the hospital ombudsman that costs from previous patients whose care was not adequately reimbursed by Medicaid and Medicare (sometimes less than fifty percent), or their own funds were allocated every year to the next year's prices of materiel and services, so I and others were paying again, in addition to taxpayer costs of those programs, whenever we required medical care and met our full financial obligations for it. After the cast was removed in three months, I practiced walking back and forth in front of the sliding glass doors, which created a mirror, and forced myself to climb up and down stairs, which was particularly painful in its pressures and angles. Eventually I felt I'd achieved my goal. One day, I stopped to visit a distant friendly acquaintance who, on first seeing me after over a year, exclaimed, "Oh! You have a limp!" I was stunned and felt like saying, "I do not!" But, instead, we had a nice chat after which I returned home to practice some more until I really did walk normally, except on very rare occasions when the weather is wet and stormy. Driving a car was also very painful for over a year, and it was months after I created OSCR before I could travel, for instance, over the Blue Ridge Mountains, as a trip to Luray and back was nearly more than my ankle discomforts would allow.

D.M. BENNETT: THE TRUTH SEEKER from Roderick Bradford on Vimeo.

I loved working on OSCR and devoted nearly 16 hours a day, six days a week on its design, updates, promotions and advertising, as well as creating some other websites. Fame, but not riches, however, turned out to be like walking on hot coals to jeers and applause from around the world and across the nation as the website -- and my writing submitted and published plentifully elsewhere with the OSCR link I required to expand widely site awareness, exposure and audience -- received sometimes unsolicited commentary and feedback locally and inter/nationally, while I struggled to accommodate a rapidly evolving technology of hardware and software with bugs and worms, to express actualities through graphics and words, and to resolve personality conflicts between some contributors and strange feedback from some readers. Once, one irate over some decision I made or something I did, blessed me out and demanded to know who my boss was, that he wanted to speak with him right away. I was tempted to answer, "God," but settled for saying simply that the website belonged to me as its creator and publisher, and perhaps he might resign himself to addressing that person with more courtesy and persuasion if he wanted to get his way. No, I didn't really send him that last clause. I just thought it and let it go into the universe freely as a possibility he might consider some day.

Around the end of 1996, I installed and used alternative software Pegasus and Eudora to cut down on virus, etcetera attacks, most of which were and are written for Windows applications, and because of their relatively easy mass mailing capabilities, which I used for sending a monthly e-mail newsletter to subscribers, friends and friends of friends. With an invitation to forward it along, the newsletter was a cheerily chatty reminder -- usually beginning with a friendly description of positive seasonal environmental changes and happenings before delineating new site offerings -- to enjoy updated content, as had been suggested in tech magazines and sites for promotion to increase readership, awareness and "hit" statistics, visits daily that advertisers want and need to evaluate whether a marketing investment is worthwhile. The newsletter audience maxed out to around 2000 by that year and the biggest problem was with AOL e-mail addresses; those users dropped in and out of their service very frequently, becoming the main reason I alphabatized the list for purging of "mailer-daemon" return notices. An "unsubscribe" note at the bottom of each newsletter was very seldom attended by recipients. The work entailed in writing, coding and sending usually consumed one day monthly. There are no extant copies to reference here from my hardcopy and digital accumulation of documents now -- most particularly because Valley criminals confiscated my computer for five months in 2003 and I never bothered to use it again, later discarded it in general disgust, and also because hardware, as ever, had morphed yet again to more powerful formulations. I do know the newsletter is remembered fondly and with admiration by at least some of its addressees though. Like the site originally, they were designed to convey and share quieter joys and pastimes of country life with urban dwellers especially who might need "a mental vacation" from pace and pressure with which I sympathized as a participant in that off and on throughout my working, educational and personal life. OSCR was mentioned once fairly early on in a Washington Post article of which there is also no extant copy available now.

I wrote a fair amount of poetry describing the beautiful Shenandoah Valley in all its different colors and clothes, scents and sounds, sitting on my deck overlooking fields and the river. As long as weather permitted, I drank my morning coffee there and really lived on it in a way, along with others, and on the grass surrounding the A-frame, soaking in summer sun, particularly, and browned by it all year long. One of the things I'd enjoyed about house painting, along with the mostly interesting, friendly and generous people I met, was working outside instead of being cooped up in an office all day, and setting my own reasonable hours. I'd figured for years that, however many of those I actually dedicated and showed up, only about six were really productive and worthwhile. All things considered, it was a physically healthy lifestyle, and socially interesting and enlightening because I got to know people in their own personal milieu, relaxed and being themselves amidst whatever else was happening, maybe grandchildren visiting and telephones ringing.

Frances and Eunice Soper, whose inspiring stories appeared in OSCR and later ACR, for instance, showed me their well-designed and lovingly-kept extensive gardens trailing out to a small stream, as I helped to scape and repaint the white exterior of their home and large out-building. Frances, a missionary for years, wanted me to admire, which I did, the garage he'd turned into a museum of tokens from travels worldwide. Eunice showed me around their very large, cheerily jumbled working study/library room and insisted I pay attention to the books she'd written. On creating OSCR over a year later, her writing came to mind immediately as a candidate for the Valley religious section, By Faith Alone (the title comes from a conversation I had once with Hank about the mystery of bad things happening to good people, and visa versa, from "Not by good deeds, but by faith alone will you enter the Kingdom of Heaven" as a clue to understanding that), permission to use it was easily and enthusiastically granted, and it was well-received by readers around the world.

An elderly lady then, she's probably gone now along with her slightly older husband, but that's a kind of immortality for her sharingly creative, positive and educational spirit. They were both beautiful old people, full of good efforts, heart and will, and worth treasuring and remembering, just like the rest of ACR/OSCR contributors. The value of their work -- interesting and very diverse in experience and expression -- has always kept me going in keeping the site on-line and reinvigorated as I've been able to do that. It and they are the core basis of history and civilization and very, very important in remembering. I have the site set up now so, whatever might happen to me, their insights and art will stay accessible in cyberspace indefinitely, a kind of eternity.

In the process of promoting OSCR by links particularly, I got to meet Dave Parks whose Harrisonburg-based listing site provided names, e-mail addresses and websites of the Valley cyber-community. We met there for two pleasant lunches and, as he has an excellent sense of humor, he allowed me to publish some of his very funny commentary on shared experiences dealing with internet conundrums, software and hardware. I also got to know by friendly e-mail conversations Mike Neff of Web Del Sol, poet/proprietess Jennifer Ley of The Astro-Physicist's Tango Partner Speaks and Perihelion, and webmasters and webwitches (a humorous term) of many other new and innovative literary arts sites particularly. Throughout this process, I got to know with varying degrees of intimacy an incredible diversity of people in cyberspace and dispersed on the ground.

Although the site had many reciprocal links to and from individuals and organizations ranging from ones in Australia, France and Germany to local newspapers and tourist sites, and including Virginia State ones also, the one that most awed and gratified me personally was with NASA in Florida. That happened through a visitor to our backcountry portion of the Valley, a friend of a neighbor's with whom I became slightly acquainted and told about OSCR. He liked it and, on returning to his position, created that association with all our questions and explorations of universal unknowns. Many other links were to sites that no longer exist although they proliferated in those heady, early days of creativity and possibility. Quite a few were e-zines, of which there are now thousands and thousands last I checked, although then, however unlikely this seems, there were simply hundreds if that many, at least to begin with. The vast majority, over 99% would probably be a fair guess, faded from the bits and bytes shared between users and developers, and there are literally only a handful not associated with ground-level organizations that survived on-line throughout our "Lost Decade," as it's aptly termed now. A few have been resurrected but most appear gone in the haze of that memory forever, perhaps to be reformed as something else. However, those early developers were a generally congenial group, sharing experiences, triumphs and pitfalls, nightmares and delights of the software most particularly that we dealt with daily, and in some cases personal details also as welcomed and invited, so we became in some senses friends although geographically very distant in the main but with a common interest and purpose in constructing the new world of cyberspace comfortably and enlighteningly, intriguingly and sometimes humorously, for all the potential users yet unplugged and unconnected.

I invited Don Silvius of Sheperdstown WV to write regular columns after receiving a complimentary and informative e-mail, which was published in OSCR's "Stand Up!" section and gleaning his interest in writing are area history. Gary Frink contacted me after reading an article in the local newspaper about OSCR, proferring a document, serialized subsequently, that he'd written accurately conveying his life, encounters and experiences in one backwoods area of Page County not too far in driving distance from the town of Luray. On invitation, I visited his small one-floor cabin on several flat wooded acres several times, including once for supper, and talked with him and his wife, Jeanne, cordially about a variety of mutual interests, acquaintances and curiosities. Gary owned an older Mercedes Benz, I believe, from his days as a Washington DC lobbyist, always parked on the unpaved drive to his residence and not often used to my knowledge. A traditional spring house rose beside a little creek that wandered through that grassy and forested property. The home itself, most notably, was piled with books and papers and magazines on his large table-style desk, the couch and its coffee table, and it seemed anywhere there was the least bit of space for literary resting. That livingroom was open to a square kitchen on the back from which Jeanne produced alcoholic beverages and gourmet meals to serve residents and guests. At least one bedroom sequestered to the right as one walked in through the front door. While Gary worked on his manuscripts, Jeanne commuted to work in our nation's capitol every weekday, driving over the weathered and weather-y Blue Ridge Mountains and back on a trip that took around five hours of time and concentration and effort daily plus the hours spent there on her salaried position.

John Waybright, who entertained me frequently in his home and at area restaurants, introduced me to multi-talented USAF veteran Frank Harden whose poetry, stories and some graphic artwork appeared soon thereafter. He also gave me a signed copy of his painting, "Sheep." John then introduced me to Sheldon Wimpfen, a pleasant, intelligent and talented older man whose articles about observations and experiences soon began appearing in OSCR too. He had a few published books, and Frank was working on one about aviation and ground encounters in Vietnam, where he'd been stationed. He treated a few of us once to dinner at the Parkhurst Restaurant, one of OSCR's advertising sponsors and a website client. Meeting Alan Ward of Blue Ridge Pottery as a client for code modification of that enticing shop's website, I discovered a chapbook of his poetry concerning a sailing sabbatical and received a copy with permission to publish from it verse he'd written which then also graced OSCR's pages.

I met other writers through the Page County Chamber of Commerce and their elegant monthly luncheon meetings at rotating establishments of other members. Elizabeth Cottrell of Shenandoah County contacted me and we met in her old remodeled house with its surrounding of extraordinary rose gardens. Desktop publisher of a hardcopy compendium of Valley trove and treasure called Shenandoah Seasons, she gave me permission to publish articles and recipes occasionally from that too. We also met a few times later for lunch in area restaurants there and a few others times at her house again. Yet another Valley resident, musician Cletus Cubbage, requested that I meet him at the local library where he talked and gave me a copy of his recounting of the creation of the Blue Ridge Parkway, Skyline Drive, with its forced removal of mountain people during Depression era building projects. I thought it was perfect in tone and description and transcribed it unedited in chapters over a period of months. Some of my Burner's Bottom neighbors -- Fran Varnum, Frank Slivinski, Anna Joyce Star and Don Muscher -- also contributed prose and poetry. I spent several fascinating afternoons with Don exploring his native artifact and reproduction collection and hand-hewn monumental wood sculptures, digital photos of which are also in OSCR archives now. One article describes an arrowhead expedition with his young, visiting daughter.

I had met world-reknowned artist Robert E. Kuhn in his later years on earth through my spouse at the time, who'd been hired to spray paint sculptures in his garden. Cordially and enthusiastically, he had shown us around his Blue Ridge Mountaintop estate with its awesomely lovely panoramic views. Later, I reacquainted with him through OSCR work, spending time exploring his art and, less obviously, his personal situation and personality while creating a website for display of his artistry. He decided in the end not to use that, have it put on-line, out of some paranoia about his secluded and unprotected location geographically and some hostility from locals, neighboring and not. Although he liked the website and paid for its construction, he'd become nearly completely blind and that, combined with age, made him feel very vulnerable. In a typical shoot-myself-in-the-head move, residents and leaders of Page County and the town of Luray could have exploited nicely having Kuhn living there with his extraordinary, historic museum and sculpture garden of unusually innovative and world-acclaimed artwork in different media -- not just his sculptures which were ground-breakingly excellent artistically and conceptually, spiritually, insightfully. The region could have organized tours, for instance, of the Valley that included his unique-in-every-way site as the piece de resistance -- with his cooperation, of course, but he would have loved and welcomed it. Kuhn wanted people to see and know his artwork, a field of endeavor which is by its nature communicative and not meant to exist in a vacuum or a solitary world but imploring and delighting in a feedback loop.

He had developed his outdoor sculpture garden, a very good-sized cleared area with which he had help variously in construction and maintenance, to be inviting and open so a visitor could walk around in an unobstructed clearing and see the works displayed carefully from all sides and distances. There was a little stepway down, also, to a secluded meditation forested garden to the left as one entered that area. To the right as one entered from the narrow and winding two-lane back road, Kuhn had converted a deconsecrated parson's home into a high-ceilinged, one-room gallery of mostly smaller sculptures that were also stunningly unique and "moving." Another building, hidden to the left and down a pathway behind his living quarters, might have been a garden nursery earlier and had been redesigned to accommodate a painting gallery. Most of his paintings were very large and usually abstract to varying degrees. The former sacristy was Kuhn's home and a step up in the living area led to a large, also beautifully varnished wood-floored platform with a black grand piano to the right as one looked into that area and his large free-standing desk to the left. That building entertained the usual beautiful windows of a church, but not stained-glass except possibly one smaller one. The walkway to his painting gallery also had large sculptures along its sides, including "Corpus" or "Apian Way," which was his method and means of pointing out that many persons were crucified, including a lot of innocents, and have been and still are today. Some of his sculptures in varying sizes were completely abstract but most drew either from myth, like Leda riding the Swan, or from life, like The Iron lady. Kuhn was and had been a very prolific artist, including also his poetry written under the penname of John Somaka. That extraordinary site and personage was a fabulous resource for the area at which residents instead stuck up their noses and middle fingers, although Kuhn had conceived and designed it intentionally and thoughtfully for public enjoyment, not just an ego enhancement, by any means, but because he had wanted it known and shared in a comfortable and pleasurable setting. By the time I knew him, Robert E. Kuhn was, or could be, an irrascible old man, but he also taught me some "tricks" about painting and design generally and loved hearing his piano played, which he asked me to do every time I visited. According to somewhat dated on-line sources, he died in the year 2000, leaving three living sons, one of whom had moved into the area to live on his estate.

One of the many joys of creating and developing OSCR, and continuing to this day, was gathering the content from pretty much around the world and conversing with authors by e-mail. Although a few submissions came in freely, most of the material was deliberately sought through contacts I made, most particularly with other site owners, and then generally kept as acquaintances at least if not actual cyber-friends of some regular written interactions. Washington DC metro's Mike Neff is an example of that, as is poet/activist/educator Jennifer Ley, out of Manhattan and New Jersey, of Perihelion and later The Astro-Physicist's Tango Partner. In that process, authors recommended literary friends to me and to the site also in that sometimes quixotic search for appropriate and amenable material. So, I had the opportunity nearly daily and certainly weekly to read poetry and prose that I enjoyed and learned from, generally found interesting and inspiring, and was very happy to share for an audience somewhat different than original ones. Another writer had lived in Australia and wrote now from California poignantly of her insights and experiences in contrasting environments. If I came across a column such as an initial one by humorist Daryl Lease, from central Virginia and later Florida, that struck me as outstanding, I wrote the author an introductory and complimentary e-mail letter, requesting that they allow OSCR publication with explicative attribution and links. I don't recall an instance where that contact wasn't favorably received. Another cherished contributor was Canadian poet and park manager Harold Janzen, British Columbia, whom I contacted I believe after discovering his poetry through a site similar to Poetry Cafe. The on-line literary scene then was blooming with adventure and possibility, opportunity in terms of structure and expression that was as exciting as the technological aspects developing and increasingly being embraced by both "content providers" and "users."

Sometime in the midst of OSCR development I received an invitation from MENSA to join that organization without taking any tests based upon previous aptitude scores, academic and professional achievements. Very busy at the time and feeling no need for a paper or membership to prove intelligence, I declined to respond, although I've heard since from others that membership includes interesting to fascinating interaction, learning, and educationally mind-sharpening games. Years earlier an AMS co-worker had studied very diligently to pass their admittance test as that recognition was important to him, but I don't remember whether he succeeded or not. Another male friend, a member of the under-the-railroad-tracks gang, became a member for decades and purportedly enjoyed it very much, particularly perhaps as he wasn't employed and so had the time to devote to it and other members. Personally, I was never in the position of either of those men and always too preoccupied otherwise to participate in its activities. Occasionally since then though, I've wished I could pull out that card, flash it before someone's eyes and say, "See? I'm a board-certified genius! Leave me alone and listen to me!" I doubt really if that would have done any good, but you never know about the path not taken, unless somehow you get reincarnated in basically the same life with chances to make opposite choices at each fork on the road. I'm probably not the only person alive or ever lived who wondered about that and wished sometimes that it were true.

As cyberspace became more inundated with free and pay-per-view pornographic sites, I stumbled accidentally into one depicting sado-masochistic activities and voiced my displeasure with that to John Waybright. He tried to convince me of the value of that in exploring sexuality and human response, but I wasn't convinced and said so, being a hedonist by nature, heart and philosophy. I've always been "turned off" by cruelty of any kind to myself or others and addicted more to joys and delights like sunbathing and saunas, floral and musky fragrances, and sweets of the munchy and liquid kind. My favorite movies, plays, music and novels have always been sensual excursions and depictions of pleasure in all its varying forms, mostly particularly French. I've heard men rhapsodize out loud on many different physical attributes of their girlfriends and wives as outstandingly appealing and desirous, but John Waybright is the first and only one to ever single out, to my slightly speechless stupefaction, his wife's perfect teeth.

On the internet it was an exciting and sexy time. We were on the frontier of the Brave New World (not Huxley's), the first settlers in the Democratic Republic of Cyberspace, exploring, experimenting and creating cyber relationships, communities and civilizations of the mind and technology, translating ground realities, images and dreams, ourselves and geographic regions "into the ether," the bits and bytes of something totally new and different designed and constructed by us cybernauts with new applications and expressions for earthlings to visit and share. Dave Parks, among quite a few, welcomed me into that very male-dominant region by saying, "It's nice to have a female presence here," so amidst the hostility there was also a pleasant and fun atmosphere extended by many others.

There was at the time a kind of cyberspace community of excited and energized settlers in the wilderness of the internet, untamed by stable software and hardware, "under construction" as many websites noted, and unknown to most of the Valley citizens, who were hostile or curious or fascinted by the new mysteries and magic of micro-chips and analog and digital data manipulations and transferences. The possibilities were enticing and seemed endless. Innovation, creativity and exploration abounded. A new cyber nation and world of technocrats unfolding the nascent civilization of ones and zeros, on and off switches, introducing new means of communication to the masses through design, graphic arts, literature and on-line discussion areas like OSCR's Stand Up! section. An expansion of the democratic principles of involvement, participation and entrepreneurship. A translation of ground realities, fantasies and imagination to the new medium of expression. New inter-relationships "in the ether," as Dave put it back then, and new confabulations on every level.

Suddenly you could have a new friend and instant interaction across the country and continents. How breathtaking! Or a business associate you'd never met, and probably never would face-to-face. You could even make up an identity, although I never did, "out of whole cloth," and live vicariously as someone else. I did, however, have some "racier" short stories and poetry published under the name Jeannie Marion to dissociate them from OSCR. That Florida website owner, deceased now from AIDs and his internet entity gone, became a good and close, supportive on-line friend also. Unfortunately, meanwhile, I lived and had lived in the central Shenandoah Valley where powerful criminals were totally opposed to my internet presence, and that of others, and willing to kill me physically if necessary to prevent and end that. They failed, obviously, but a search through Google and Yahoo! reveals now that none of the original sites there remain on-line, including Dave's which encouraged cyber-community by listing the names, e-mail addresses, websites and hobbies of cyber-citizens in the mid to late 1990s and Fred Showaker's on cyber-design. Since OSCR and other sites extolled and encouraged healthy values and lifestyles, as well as the beauty of the Shenandoah and the positively creative talents of its citizen residents, the consequent reality is a mystery except to the extent that criminals want other criminally corrupt and inclined denizens of the dark around, which wouldn't be me or many others involved early on in establishing a presence in cyberspace there through internet connectivity.

At one of the monthly Chamber of Commerce get-togethers hosted by members offering hors d'oevres and drinks at their commercial facilities, John Waybright introduced me to a woman of the Graves family, owners of Luray Caverns, who was an official in their company, I believe in remembrance in charge of tourism and promotion. We conversed somewhat briefly and cordially as I explained the purpose and business structure of OSCR, and she parted saying, "Good luck with your endeavor." Since I was interested in OSCR advertising as part also of promoting Valley tourism and in encouraging income from it for the community, and possibly constructing their website as I had that of the Chamber and a few other smaller businesses like Parkhurst Restaurant, I visited her in her office one afternoon and we talked non-commitally about those possibilities. Leaving an OSCR business card and brochure with her, I was disappointed subsequently, as perhaps other local internet professionals were also, to discover that the Caverns had hired for that latter purpose contractors in Richmond -- not only more expensive in fees and travel costs but also defying the oft-repeated Chamber mantra for residents to "buy local" in support of area shops and entrepreneurs. Fred Showaker of Harrisonburg, who owned his own computer design business, referred to that phenomenon as "the 50-mile rule," meaning that work and purchase from regional corporations and governments were at that distance generally and a common occurence in many fields there, not just internet programming and/or advertising. To point out that this might be suicidal economically -- unless perhaps one envisions an environment composed exclusively of funded retirees, welfare recipients, and a dwindling number of factory workers, plus those traveling hours to and from urban jobs, along with criminally-collusive police, lawyers, judges, physicians and their assistants is probably verbalizing the obvious.

Though the poems are no longer on-line, at one point Frank and John, being Sons of the South (Georgia and Virginia respectively), wrote verses each, and of their own accord and initiative, reflecting the guilt they felt over slavery and denigration of the black race there generally, although neither were from families who had plantations or would have owned human chattel. By their accounts, Frank's family was country poor and John's parents, Catholics in a predominantly Lutheran and Protestant fundamentalist region where that's a very unusual affiliation, were merchants who owned a small general store west over the Massanutten in New Market. Most likely utilizing deserved benefits of our G.I. Bill consequent to Vietnam Air Force service, Frank had worked his way through college to earn an MBA and had been a manager at the largest factory employer there, Wrangler, which later downsized and downsized again following passage of NAFTA and the transference of jobs south of our border where labor is cheaper and benefits barely heard of nevermind enacted for employees. John had attended a year or so of college locally as a Physics major before turning to full-time work with the local newspaper, eventually culminating in editorial and management responsibilities there before retirement due to heart problems, including by-pass surgery. Some time later I suggested we have a poetry contest, see who could write the most interesting one using a specific and uncommon word, which I chose arbitrarily from a dictionary. The word was "vertigines," meaning "a dizzying sensation of tilting within stable surroundings or of being in tilting or spinning surroundings." The next week I created a display page, also no longer extant, for the consequences of that group exercise in learning and literary creativity.

Both John and Frank had formal bars in their basements with fairly prodigious assortments of liquors and mixes as well as mini-refrigerators for dairy and beers. We met and sat on those high stools from time to time, discussing literature and history, the region and OSCR variously, as well as sharing some personal backgrounds and interests while sipping on cocktails most particularly. During one more formal get-together, John's wife MaryAnn snapped quite a few somewhat posed photographs of us relaxing also in their contiguous "den" with its computer and television as well as comfortable couch and tables and chairs. On another occasion, we gathered on their patio, spouses in attendance, to discuss and celebrate the website's progress in expansion and positive public acknowledgement. For the first time, since it was an informal party as well as business, I brought my now-ex with me to meet some of the writers involved and their wives. His first appearance anywhere could be a bit of a shock to some and, on getting a first glimpse of that size and musculature, the oldest contributing OSCR writer, Sheldon Wimpfen, commented, "If there's a war, I want you on my side." Everyone laughed in agreement and, bored with our conversation, my spouse gravitated toward a small umbrella'd table and chairs where he talked and played with one of the neices for our get-together's duration, ignoring our chatter completely. Having switched parties to become an outspoken conservative Republican, Gary Frink argued during group meetings somewhat vociferously and inexplicably from time to time that OSCR should be supported financially with public monies through government funding as a non-profit enterprise rather than its dedicated structure at the time as a commercial, advertising-supported one. In retrospect, it's very obvious that no one there was truly aware or appreciative of the incredible, sober and determined effort in learning and problem-solving, independently diligent and concentrated thought and focused work that actually went into coding and promoting, managing and designing OSCR, which does demonstrate the truth of an old adage that something done well tends to seem easy to those who've never tried it and who've little or no experience in the field/s involved.

John especially enjoyed writing monthly his succinct, frequently humorous "Vintage Lines" section -- a title I'd made up and used with his blessing as a kind of pun on aging and afternoon cocktails, along with the archive section for that entitled, also as a pun, "The Line Cellar" -- because it kept him in notice from and verbal interaction via e-mail most particularly with readers he'd had before health-induced retirement as editor and writer for the local newspaper, as well as new ones regionally and internationally resultant of on-line exposure. Around that time a neighbor had received a $90 speeding ticket for driving maybe ten miles over the speed limit on a well-traveled two-lane from backcountry to town on his way to work in an area where the average employee and entrepreneur struggles to stay above water financially and many hover around the hourly minimum wage, if they're able at all to be self-supporting. In recounting that story and difficult economic reality, John noted in response that, as was fairly common and well-known with Luray's "bigwigs," he never received a ticket because the deputies and police knew him as a long-time resident and now-retired newspaper manager/editor. Having been in that capacity a lifelong employee of Byrd Newspaper empire based in the state capitol, Richmond, he was unfamiliar and unexperienced in all the myriad diligent details entailed in establishing and managing a small business of one's own such as mine with H&H Painting Company and OSCR or Hank's band and tech enterprises. Without that hard-won knowledge base some of John's commentary and behaviors off and on were unconsciously naiive, particularly perhaps in regard to site notice by Encyclopedia Britannica and other inter/national entities. After moving to Jonesborough as a consequence of catastrophic crimes in that area directed at me individually and my personal and real property there, in which he'd been intimately cognizant and involved, I was surprised to read in a later communication from John the only complaint I've ever received from any ACR or OSCR contributor prior or subsequent to those events that he had never made any money from his articles published there during the few initial years they were transliterated into cyberspace by the magic and mystery of computer programming and digital interactions between personal computers and distant, in this case California, servers. By that time, of course, the previously-commercial OSCR had become officially ACR and noted within its pages that it was also now a non-profit enterprise, funded exclusively by me as it had been all along. Fortunately, Encyclopedia Britannica found no problem with my deletion of references past and current to the Shenandoah Valley and actually expanded its multiple search engine listings to all of Appalachia in the process of continuing to recognize ACR as a "best of the web" internationally. Given John's interest in financial gain from internet publishing, it's surprising he didn't establish a site of his own during the Internet Boom covering the Valley with local tech and literary assistance after I'd removed most references to it in the process of converting OSCR to ACR from Jonesborough and Tennessee in concentrating it nearly exclusively on the Mountain Empire.

For whatever reason, that area ultimately was dead set against having an independently innovative and lively high tech community of its own and succeeded brillilantly in that objective over the decade or so to follow. It does and did serve the interests of maintaining a feudal-style and bigoted socio-economic structure, unapologetically criminal, of a few wealthy and landed families who control the destinies directly and indirectly of submissive, subserviant and oppresssed masses as did, of course, the pre-Civil War plantation system with its slaves, tenant farmers, vagabonds and petty thieves overseen by landed and politically powerfully masters of elite privilege beyond the reach of a legal system they controlled, and still do. Other parts of the South have grown, changed, accommodated fields of new expertise, revenue and education but the Confederate basket that is the Valley has ignored that effectively, if furtively by skirting the spirit, and frequently the letter of laws enacted over the past 150 years which codify and incorporate more inclusive and highly moral awareness, conscience and consciousness. It's very sad to choose to be what has been referred to there over the years by media and researchers as "a third world country" sinking in the middle of a world more enlightened, ennobled and enlivened by learning and experience, leaving itself with no good way to meet and compete or prevail in a high tech national and global community and marketplace. But it chose its fate and tiny obscurity in a relatively huge world and universe very deliberately over and over again.

A Daily News-Record article dated 3/10/98, by staff writer Alayna DeMartini, quotes Sheldon Wimpfen commenting on OSCR as "a delightful mix of poetry and prose.... You've got humor and semi-technical stuff and real life things about people that live in some of the hollows back here," and John Waybright observing, "Small town America all over has a lot in common. Appalachia just seems to be one large community of interest and shares an awful lot of culture." The articles notes that the site "was started in April 1996 by former Page County resident Jeannette Harris, who recently moved to Tennessee. Harris is originally from New England and spent 14 years living by the Shenandoah River before moving to the foothills of Tennessee's Appalachian region near Johnson City."

Of course, almost all of that material is archived on-line in ACR, so the true history and atmosphere of those periods in the Valley isn't lost to anyone interested in knowing or revisiting them, along with other content provided planetwide. It's kind of an on-line living history museum of a place and people that once existed, still vibrant in remembrance and recounting.

Except for science fiction tales, which are obviously based on projections from our current understandings of the physical universe, although characters tend to be abstractions from earth life forms, fiction writing is derived from the real experience and knwoledge of the authors, some of whom research historic events, personages and places extensively prior to embarking on their literary feats. All of my stories of any length relay, or mean to, the feeling and eminence of particular settings, acquaintances and happenings. To protect individual anonymity and privacy, and in the interests of creativity, those realities are transformed and transfigured somewhat through melding and molding into a new but familiar entity. In that way fiction writing is an adventure into the somewhat unknown, which may take on a life of its own in the process. Characters and their interactions with each other and their created environment assume their own logic and, sometimes, direction. Making it all "ring true" is an exploratory challenge of language, linguistic forms, and connection, hopefully, with the audience. Just as in other performance arts like stage and film drama, dance, material media, and music, the goal is to take the surveyor into another world for awhile in the process conveying a message, emotion, reality and/or insight and inspiration, and to leave them with an aura of that for various time periods. Classic works in any field influence others in that extent for lifetimes, centuries, or millenia. Examples of that are unearthed, thanks to archaeology, cave paintings, snippets of Sappho's verse, statued likenesses of early cultural deities like Diana and Zeus, Minoan pottery, etched Egyptian and Persian hieroglyphics, Homer's The Iliad, tragic Greek plays, preserved ancient temples and palaces of the East, Shakespeare's poetry and that of Elizabeth Browning, belly dancing, medievil cathedrals and stained glass, Russian religious icons and novels by Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy, even transport from wheel to wagon to tall ship to Model T, and of course folk tales and songs handed down through generations by mime and mouth and some of those for thousands of years. All of the (performing) arts together encompass our history as sentient and spiritual beings, our journey of calm and struggle through evolution, revolution, plague and devastation, peaks and troughs of accomplishment and understanding, to a place and point undefined individually and universally by us and known, if at all, only to God. We're like the sculptor facing a monolithic stone which hasn't yet revealed its ultimate shape, form and import -- the mystery of life as lived, enacted in the doing and all the conceptual processes that go into the ultimate product, whether it be a Barbie doll or the Sistine Chapel. It all reveals something about ourselves, culture, world, and relationship with basic forces in the universe, how we've accommodated, accentuated or denied them, our humility or arrogance amidst it all.

As an example of developmental actuality, I had a vague and ultimately false idea from the first sentence of the preceding paragraph of where the writing and mental process would go, end up, and its final meaning and message, however gleaned and perceived by a reader. I call it the "huh" phenomenon in humorous honor of a smart and humane attorney I've witnessed working in one of the too many courtrooms in our land. The problem of examining by dissection life itself in rational, directed detail until it ceases to exist is that existence in its minutest and still perhaps unknown level is a sometimes unwieldy mystery to us all. Any other approach to it is a denial of personal experience and our well-known and exemplified inability to predict outcomes great and small. We have no inkling of the looming divorce or separation, for instance, that may befall our promise before God and community to "love, honor and obey," the children who may or may not appear as a consequence, or even our employment/professional paths quite frequently, so that in the end all we can say in insightfuly summary is, "Man decides, and God laughs." Although sometimes perhaps Jesus, the saints and others weep at our decisions and destinies of chosen ways. Even when we're trying our best to "do the right thing" in morality and progress, which some are not, we make mistakes because as homo sapiens sapiens we're flawed in relationship to absolute perfection. Believing otherwise about that on an indvidual or group level is a blinding to honest personal apprehension and self-knowledge with sickeningly fatal result, from assaults on neighbors and family members to mass genocide historically and too much in between those extremes to contemplate without nausea.

The above comments on courtrooms is not to say that there aren't good and excellent attorneys who employ their intelligence, values and expertise for the betterment of individuals and civilizations. A few I know of personally who are ferociously contained winners in the right, for instance, are: the MA wife, who is also a judge, of ACR contributor Wil Roberts, Carolyn Moore's daughter Diana who is a retired Army Judge Advocate General and now a KY ordained minister also, Harrisonburg VA twins Terry and Kerry Armentrout, Johnson City TN's Stan Givens, and Jonesborough's Judith Fain. I have been constrained for most of my life from a repeated exhortation of my grandmother, whom I very much respected and admired, that one should "never go to Court." Her father, of course, was a third-degree Mason ("... it is estimated that between 80,000 and 200,000 Freemasons were killed under the Nazi regime. Masonic concentration camp inmates were graded as political prisoners and wore an inverted red triangle." -- Wikipedia) and well-respected attorney and community citizen in Denver, CO. That has always lent some credence, too, to her admonition. However, I doubt either of them could have envisioned the absolutely abhorrent and repugnantly criminal behaviors, attitudes, consciousnesses and beliefs that have emanated from Virginia and its Shenandoah Valley for over a decade past now. Nor could they have imagined a state, country and world in its present predicament in need of so much help in changing direction. Unlike too many others, I would never swear under oath to God to tell the truth and do, or dare to do, anything less being much more concerned about soul and integrity than anything, much as I love some, in the material world. That that truth will annihilate some and imprison others does not gladden me in any way. More than anything, I wish none of those activities had ever happened and that the legal and business communities there had behaved as they are supposed to instead of playing sickening and lethal games with people's lives and property, unfortunately reflective of proclivities ascendant cross-country and worldwide for too long. What historians will say about this demolishingly determined day when all of our most basic ideals and heritage were abandoned to serve mammon without remorse or pity or sympathy to the crumbling of socio-economic structures everywhere is yet to be known. But that day will come, despite the hope of nihilists and their somewhat understandable predictions and pronouncements of the end of the world as immanent. Unfortunately for them, there will be a time for answering, in this domain and whatever others may be.

OSCR gained some positive local media coverage, following composition and submission of press releases, and area advertising support, along with regional private and public links. Praise and reader popularity sustained its weekly content, expansion and updating as revenues fell below expenses, as expected during the first year or so statistically of a new business. Frank Harden paid the monthly Geocities fee of $45 twice. As an active member of the Page County Chamber of Commerce and an invited speaker once for the Page County Rotary Club, I spread awareness of the site and its commercial potential, as well as soliciting small business website design and server hosting. Three of the men involved with OSCR -- John Waybright, Frank Harden, and Gary Frink -- held for awhile what they called "The Friday Afternoon Literary Society" meetings at each other's homes, a celebration of the site having gone on-line again Thursday evenings with their work, during which they consumed quite a bit of alcohol and, according to John and somewhat embarassingly, talked mostly about me. Advising me at first not to tell Frank about my illegal arrest, he referred to events as they continued to transpire as "appalling," "horrible," "Godless," and the Valley as "womanless." Frank was unaware, I believe, of all that was happening, and I was becoming increasingly tongue-tied and uncommunicative about it. Hostility toward and misunderstanding of women professionals and the new medium had been prevasive and ultimately prevailed. My submerged Yankee heritage, of course, has never been a boon in historic strongholds of the Confederacy and traditional southern country life in some places.

When I remember back on those days of developing OSCR, studying and exploring the internet, its possibilities and promise, I see special scenes that stand out. One is reclining in a lounge chair on my deck overlooking the field and river with the soft air, slightly fragranced by flowers, birds and butterflies, all the blooming trees and leaves, writing poetry about that most particularly surrounded by the seductive ambiance and atmosphere, usually while drinking my morning coffees, completely innocent and unaware, absolutely unsuspecting of what would befall me and all of that there that I held in my heart and gladly shared. Another scene etched indelibly into my mind is standing on the dirt road going toward the dead end talking with a man visiting from Florida who worked for NASA and was resting on nearby grass. I can still feel the excitement and enthusiasm I felt at that moment for the website and the web itself and all that was happening related to that which was new and healthily challenging, a chance to learn and to teach the new technology and sell the beneficences it offered individuals and groups, companies and institutions in promoting their services and their good work. That man was also, like most of us, just becoming familiar with all that himself, later wrote that he enjoyed OSCR and linked his agency within NASA, along with acquainting some fellow workers, to it. Another unexpected joy was discovering midi music files and how to incorporate them as background for OSCR pages, which readers said generally that they enjoyed. I found everything from rock 'n' roll to old-time country to classical by very talented tech musicians who offered them free, and often without personal attribution, for the fun of making them and the friendly competition of making the best, or trying to, version of any particular tune. There was even software installed on my computer to create my own, along with video files, and I whiled away a few spare hours here and there playing with those also. Oddly, there was a software piano too that could be played by transposing mentally letters on the keyboard to specific notes, e.g. "k" might be musically "C major" and "h" might be "D" above it, but I found that a little too wearing to really get into for more than a testing.

Amongst awards from various directions and viewpoints, I valued most the one received from Encyclopedia Britannica -- first in 1997 and subsequently repeatedly annually, with expanded adjustments to reflect changing site content -- which included multitudinous listings from "poetry" to "Appalachian art" for OSCR, later ACR, as a "Best of the Web" in pages of their search engine. Originally called eBlast, a separate entity to which I had applied for inclusion, their search option was soon included instead on the front page of their historically and internationally prestigious educational offering as translated to the internet. Personally, I most honored inclusion of my verse, along with that of some state Poet Laureates and others less reknowned, in the Anthology Section of a now defunct but once excellent site called Poetry Cafe, whose creator one snowy winter day drove out to the Shenandoah Valley from North Virginia to stay in a motel, take me out for dinner at the Parkhurst Restaurant, and prepare to record recitation of his favorites amidst my poetry. At the time, I was in the process of packing boxes in anticipation of moving permanently from the area and state. Due to the blizzard, I requested of John Waybright that I stay in a guest bedroom of the home belonging to him and his wife so as not to waste the second night trip from that site owner. John agreed readily, and the following day my poetry readings were recorded for broadcast. That evening the urban poet and I dined by invitation at the large formal table of the Waybrights while John engaged in an enthusiastic and animated literary conversation with that city guest. He glowed later over the opportunity and experience that occasion had brought unexpectedly. Before disability forced retirement, John's benefactors at Luray Caverns later found diversion for him as a night clerk in one of their two aged nearby motels.

I submitted and had published short stories and poetry in 24 on-line sites (Agnieszka's Dowry, Assorted Realities, The Bridge, Brooklyn Poet, Ceteris Paribus (L. "holding other things constant"), Chronicles of Fiction, CrossConnect, Knightmares, /msgs from the 40s, Olumpus, Pauper, Pif, Pogonip, Poetry Cafe's Anthology, Pyrowords, Romantic Interludes, Slumgullion, Solas, Spiralz, Swagazine, Veils, Perihelion, Ygdrasil and Web Del Sol), mainly to received an OSCR link from each one to increase its audience. Additional literary site links included Salon, Conspire, Spoken War, Park and Read, Atlantic Unbound & Poets and Writers (through postings frequently to their message board), Hootenanny, Stirring, Urban Flavor, and Tower of Babel. The early internet was wonderfully crowded with colorfully named, designed and inspired site offerings! The carnage of "the Internet Boom" was horrendous and ACR/OSCR very barely, and miraculously, survived it all intact and now growing again healthily. Most of the other sites were and are non-commercial to begin with, and only a handful remain on-line as of summer 2008. Perihelion and The Astro-Physicist's Tango Partner haven't been updated in the last few years. Conspire (another Encyclopedia Britannica "Best of the Web" and search listing site previously, now at here) is in the process of reorganizing after quite a hiatus also for a fall 2008 re-launch and ACR is a "co-conspirator" in that effort. Pif (here), Agnieszka's Dowry (here), Hootenanny (here), and Ygdrasil (here) are still on-line and updated regularly. Of course, solid hardcopy and on-line publications like Salon, Atlantic Monthly and Poets and Writers have been able to maintain their presence, transfigured in design and content and commercial support through those revolutions over the past decade or so. The experience of submitting and getting my writing printed helped me to be a sympathetic publisher because I encountered the process from the other side, as a humble writer seeking acceptance and audience elsewhere. The most popular of my writings were "The Last Pheasant" and "Haley's Dream" (now called "Triage").

Shortly after moving to East Tennessee in 1998, a local male friend started using a chat line and, expressing some consternated surprise at what a young woman he'd never met before offered to do very graphically and intimately, asked if I'd ever used one. "Yes," I said, "when I was much younger," and he laughed. "I disconnected (my whole computer, nearly) once before a guy went any further. (You want to do what? I don't even know you, or your real name.)" Another time, the same friend asked me, "If you had your life to live over, is there anything about it you'd have done differently?" Without hesitation, I answered, "I wouldn't have called 911." Still later, he asked why I married my third husband, so different from me in nearly every way, and I said, "He used to interrupt whatever I was doing to get me to look at a beautiful sunset, as if he'd made it himself, just for me."

Later, my third ex looked very sick when forced to appear in Court, supposedly to testify against me. However, much to the apparent surprise of the lawyers, he didn't do that, and it was his testimony that caused the case to be thrown out. He later recounted how the Sheriff's Deputy, running into him some weeks earlier, had said, "Don't worry, buddy, I'll testify for you," and that he'd shrugged him off angrily. He hadn't wanted me to be arrested and said he'd offered to go in my place, but the Deputy refused his request. That would, at least, have been legal but not what I wanted or needed, which would not have fed the coffers of lawyers, Courts, and Sheriff's Departments as a disruptive and power-grabbing arrest, however right or wrong, did and does. There's nothing more precious, as supposedly free, non-combatant citizens of this country, than our liberty or worse than having freedom taken away, the right to choose and be directed by God not man, minute by minute in what we do, to be forced instead into the enslaving hands of lawyers and Courts at their discretion what will happen to us and our property. Taking away that irreplaceable treasure should be a matter of utmost gravity, not the jokes and laughter, game-playing and dismissive indifference I, and others, have experienced in the Shenandoah Valley and probably elsewhere.

And the illegal and unconstitutional system in the Commonwealth did that to me five times over a period of ten years, the last four for protesting the first in every way I could think of, really, and its deleterious effects, now more obvious, on any number of people and things. All those involved have to do is look around at the world they've created for themselves, families and communities, and breathe the atmosphere, to see whether or not that's true. If I hadn't cared about the Valley, country, world, people, I'd have never bothered to speak up to begin with, and repeatedly. The message is: There's nothing more important for everybody than Constitutional law, liberty, our right and responsibility to follow freely the guidance of God as our forebearers intended by word and war in establishing the United States of America, presumptive leader of The Free World.

I had been dissatisfied with the standard banner ads that were popular then for commercial web pages, and it occurred to me to try selling the idea to advertisers of in-line ads -- ones that would be embedded in text pages as they are in newspapers and magazines. The owner of Blue Ridge Pottery, already a client and sponsor, agreed to buy a listing of that type. I was very happy to have come up with what seemed to me a better concept and to have convinced a small business entrepreneur of its superiority. Maybe six years later in-line ads became acceptable and used prominently, after much discussion, within mainstream websites.

Beasts and Heathens -- Part 2

No Manners, No Morals, No Minds

Celebrating another step in the new and wide open frontier of cyberspace that evening, I played mostly old records from the 60s like "Mott The Hoople" and "Tim Hardin," but also "Honeysuckle Rose," my favorite Willie Nelson, family and friends double-album song track from the same-named movie, and danced in the A-frame's great room before the two glass-paned sliding glass doors looking out at river, field, sky, stars and moon in grateful glee and energy at the progress OSCR was making. When my husband came home around 9:30, he didn't share my enthusiasm, as usual, being opposed to work on the computer and internet, neither of which he understood or liked despite my trying to interest him in its electronic games and other possibilities, including country music. Our usual disagreement flared into an argument where I insisted upon leaving and he ended up locking my house doors and taking my car keys. A little frightened -- he's a very large and stubborn man -- I called EMERGENCY 911 for assistance in convincing him, instead, to leave my house and me alone to work at what I loved and was good at doing. Sadly, when four squad cars with lights flashing and sirens blaring pulled up in front of my house, to my shock and disoriented disbelief, the small deputy who came to my front door soon twirled me around, putting handcuffs on my wrists, and getting me into the back seat of his car. On the way driving to Page County Jail, I asked, "Why am I handcuffed? Do you think I'm dangerous?" He laughed, but said only, "No."

After having handcuffs taken off my wrists, I was asked identifying questions about height, weight, and hair color. Apparently unschooled in Constitutional provisions for the protection of homeowners and their property as part of their sworn oath of duty on appointment, a Deputy behind the jail desk also asked, "How long have you owned your house?" and I responded "Twenty years." I had thought that would make a difference when it sunk in, but it didn't raise an eyebrow or clarifying question or change in their direction. Since it seemed they were treating me as if I was someone else, I added, "I have a website about the Shenandoah Valley. John Waybright is its literary editor." I was aware that at least some Deputies knew the long-time Managing Editor of Luray's Page News and Courier, but that information had no seeming effect on their behavior. My third husband said later that a deputy came out to my car and commented, "She says she has a website. What's she talking about?" My now-ex recounted that he explained as well as he could, and the deputy went back into the jail but it was never mentioned again, at least not in my presence.

Subsequent to being fingerprinted, deputies prepared to take a "mug shot." In distress at the thought of that, I backed away from the counter, doubling over and holding my stomach, saying, "No!" A gentle middle-aged deputy retrieved me, soothingly, and held his right index finger under my chin to hold up my head as another deputy took the photograph. Very shortly thereafter the magistrate, Dr. John Huddleston, arrived for approval of the arrest and overnight incarceration. I asked to make a telephone call; a few deputies laughed and all ignored me. So, I said, "I know I have a right to one phone call." In some derision, they provided a telephone for me and I called the only lawyer I knew, Gary Frink, whose book about country life was being serialized in OSCR and whom I knew, along with his wife Jeanne, personally, having visited in his home several times. He was, at the time, an unemployed attorney licensed in Michigan and the District of Columbia. Jeanne commuted daily into the District for a responsible full-time job, I believe for a foundation as a writer. She was also an excellent and full-time cook for their household, serving gourmet hors d'oerves and entrees inside and out of doors. Gary asked to speak to Dr. Huddleston and then the receiver was handed back to me, as he said, "I'm sorry. There's nothing I can do. He says you're intoxicated." I wasn't, had consumed less than three bottled beers in the preceding six hours (being an inveterate, hereditary and very sober counter/bookkeeper/accountant/inventory clerk, I checked first thing the next morning after being released and getting back home, there having been of alcohol only one six-pack of imported beer, which I'd purchased on leaving Luray around 5p.m. that afternoon, in all of the house), nor had I been "doing drugs" of any kind.

The arresting officer stated on his report that my third husband had a large bruise on his forehead in charging me with assault. At home the next morning, I checked closely without his noticing and there were no bruises at all. My third husband was apologetic and offered to sign a note promising that, if I ever asked him to leave again, he would. I wrote the note, he signed it, and I kept it in a cubbyhole of my living room desk (my grandmother's and stuck now back in Page County). A week or so later, when I asked him again to leave, he refused. A few days later, as we were talking in the yard about the situation, he said, "Just plead guilty and get it over with." Instead, during the preliminary hearing attended by me, him, and my mother, I entered a formal plea of "not guilty" and advised the Court that I could afford my own lawyer while he was advised to appear for the trial date set in early January, two months hence. That arresting officer testified under oath at that time that I "smelled strong of alcohol" and that my third husband "had a large bruise on his forehead." He did not, and I did not either. It's impossible. And that is perjury, lying before God, and man.

Deputies never tested me, or thought to apparently, for anything they or the magistrate accused me of taking. If every citizen intoxicated in their own home on a Friday evening was incarcerated, the country would be composed primarily of jails holding, of course, many of those involved in what was done to me and my property, and the ABC and liquor stores would decline in profits and size with many going out of business completely. I don't know what could be much more hypocritical, or illegal. The arresting deputy testified under oath in Court that I "smelled strong of alcohol," which was embarassing. Perhaps there was something wrong with his olfactory capacities at the time. He never mentioned under questioning my initial and totally legal request that he convince my third husband, with no claim at all to my property under Commonwealth law, to leave the place peaceably. County Attorney Reed then opened her examination of my soon-to-be-ex by saying, "Now, Mr. Henry, on the night in question you called 911, right?" and he answered, "No, my wife did," just as I'd told Sam Price he would, as that was the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth so help him, and everyone else, God.

Perhaps it's important to add here in response to some insinuations and declamations by various people that I had "an alcohol problem" or was "high on something" that it isn't possible to do the kind of detail design, programming, management, promotion, writing and hardware manipulation required in updating extensively a website weekly, in addition to handling property responsibilities including receipts and bill-paying, account reconciliations, record-keeping and tax preparation, in addition to working with and creating websites for clients all effectively and have "a problem with alcohol," which by definition entails inability to function well personally and professionally, as I very obviously and proveably and to everyone's knowledge did and have, or be otherwise "intoxicated" in the process of doing all that successfully. I do know some people who have had those problems including, according to my third husband, Sam Price who spent some time thereafter in an alcohol rehabilitation facility and had a reputation for being carried inebriated out of the Luray Moose Club and other area lounges and bars. His confused new wife later told me around 2000-2002 that I was "a piece of shit," referred to OSCR/ACR as my "stupid little webpage," said on the telephone that she'd been an FBI agent and accused me of smoking "marry-jew'-anna," and commented that I must be "very lonely and confused" at a time when I was surrounded by loving and supportive friends and ACR contributors while living in my favorite-to-date and encouragingly inviting town on earth in an apartment I adored and engaged in community and artistic endeavors with others that pleased me and it/them. Around that time, I wrote the short story "That Unspeakable God," thinking of Paula with her four stepchildren, and incorporated it into an e-mail addressed to Sam with the subject tag, "for Paula," as well as putting it on-line in ACR and distributing it, at their request, to some women friends and their friends, who loved it as expressing well for them the conflict between and/or difficulty of accommodating roles as mother and wife and expressing their own unique individuality and personalities also. Apparently, some of the typically filthy Valley minds managed to misinterpret that fairly obvious, to those underanged and unobssessed, message and believed the tale concerned lesbianism, which is about the furthest concept possible from its meaning to clear, sane and intelligent people living through the conundrums of relational social and private expectations cognizantly. The title, of course, refers to suffering -- as in the disability of a good person and friend in the story's opening and closing examples -- that can't be explained by any bad deed or karma due, and our age-old difficulty in accepting that from a God that we also believe is good and loving and just, a divinity that we must in the end accept as somewhat mysterious and inscrutable in profoundest purpose to our admittedly limited understanding and consciousness, the reason for being humble most particularly in that holy presence.

While artists in traditional fields of music, literature and graphics, along with practitioners of management and law, have sometimes been known historically to be drug (including alcohol) addicts, I've never known a computer systems analyst/programmer to be one. The field simply requires too much focused concentration and complex thought, logic, reasoning, and creative structure to allow that. It's more similar in that aspect to practical mathematics and physics, or even accounting. In daily enactment, all preclude not only substance abuse but insanity by engaging a clearly functioning, intelligent mind throughout to be effective and productive.

One of my elective college Sociology courses, from which I recevied an "A" as usual, was "Substance Abuse and Its Therapies," and some of my friends over many adult years have had mitigated dysfunctioning from alcohol and drug problems, so I'm very familiar with the topic, treatments, and consequences, as well as actively discouraging and redirecting those behaviors whenever possible over a lifetime of trying. Two of my poems, titled simply "Heroin I" and "Heroin II," about the sad realities of addiction, for instance, were on-line for years published by an Australian organization disseminating helpful and comforting information and insight for anguished families and friends of addicts extant, in remission, or gone. They were written in remembrance of a very good friend, Mike Crowe, who died of that affliction around 1973, and have been popular also regionally. His aunt, a retired banker and long-time Jonesborough resident, took me out for a warm and delightful lunch sometime around the year 2000 and entertained me with friendship and gratitude in her mansion a few times previous and subsequent to that. I'm also aware personally of the hazards from having become addicted to amphetamines when I was much younger. Much later, accidentally, I got hooked on synthetic morphines as a result of badly fracturing my right ankle in a living room fall, tripping over one of my cats who'd gotten underfoot and couldn't get out having caught her claws in the rug, as I tried to answer a knock on the front door. That turned out to be friends who got me to Page Memorial Hospital half an hour away and from there by Rescue Squad ambulance to Harrisonburg where the surgeon snapped my foot back into place after a shot of morphine had set in and fixed it with a pin and plate and five screws during a totally anesthetized operation the next day. During my three days at Rockingham Memorial I received continuous intravenous feedings of morphine and was given synthetic pills for awhile by prescription after being released. Dealing with excruciating discomfort, as basically my foot had broken off from my leg into multiple splinters on the smaller bone, for a few years in the process of re-learning to walk limp-free, climb stairs with their multiple ankle-pivots, and drive a car with the generally unremarked pressure that places on ankle and foot enticed me to any kind of effective pain-reliever. The ankle, though, hasn't bothered me or slowed me down much for years since, thank God.

Since my encapsulated biography had been in OSCR, then ACR, at least since early 1997, and Sam had a copy of my extensive professional resume, it's difficult to understand how his enabling wife Paula, apparently with his blessing, could call me "a piece of shit," or ACR/OSCR "my stupid little webpage," knowing full well that it had recognition as one of the best in the world from a source as impeccable as Encyclopedia Britannica. To me it seems more like verbal harassment and a kind of ludicrously abusive slander which, other than protesting my original, unConstitutional incarceration and bond restriction over three months to them, some organizations, individuals, government representatives and media outlets, I'd done nothing at all to instigate or initiate. A more appropriate response might have been something like, "We made a mistake, and we're profoundly sorry for any harm those events may have caused to you, your property and/or your business. We were wrong and you were right, very obviously." There's certainly no excuse for turning me and my property over to a man, as Sam knew because I told him if he didn't know otherwise, with a tenth grade education who can't spell "clinic" and has a Maryland conviction for petty larceny and a long-time reputation for that and drunkenness, as well as occasional violence, in the community over his whole near-lifetime there. You can't go a whole lot lower than that in insisting upon totally lethal inanity for everyone, including those who instigated such criminal insanities there to begin with.

Incarcerating me, instead, four more times followed by four years probation of medication, physical restraint, and additional legal fees just compounded the original error exponentially. It takes a big, grown-up man or woman to admit error, or errors, accept responsibility, apologize and make amends for damage caused -- requisite admonitions and encouragements of Alcoholics Anonymous, historically famous for its success in overcoming substance abuse problems with well-tested and effective advice for individuals who've hit rock-bottom in their ability to function legally, professionally, interactionally and survivably with any grace or good standing anywhere at all. Personally, if it were me, I'd talk with Hank Zimmerman, someone who's gone way out of his way and with determined diligence in working to correct unfortunate consequences of misdirected behaviors and attitudes toward me, others, country, world, universe, and God. It's not easy and deserves positive recognition and accolades for worthwhile achievements, professionally and personally, despite it all, in the process proving, just as I have, that healthy change is possible and worth attending to despite what horrible and terrible things people may do to you without justice or cause. All the Valley's done with its determined deleteriousness is to prove in any and every eye what a truly awful place it really was to try to live and work decently and honestly and for the good of everybody. What did it think it won?

Shortly subsequent to my Luray arrest, attorney Gary Frink referred to the absolute defilement of my citizenship rights as "that little police action," and signed several of his e-mails to me, "In Christ's name. Gary." This is as good a time as any to remind Gary and others that Christ was God on earth and does not approve of taking away the freedom of Divinity's creations, those including the fifty percent of populations that are female, frivolously. A few months later, having some years previous switched parties from being a lifelong Democrat, including as a party candidate in Michigan, he was appointed legislative assistant to Allen L. Louderback, 15th (Page, Rappahannock, Shenandoah, and parts of Rockingham Counties) District Republican representative to Virginia's General Assembly at that time and became also at least regionally known as a film extra and actor. Gary had at the time only licenses to practice law in Michigan and the District of Columbia, but was appointed to assist in crafting and analyzing Commonwealth legislation anyway. Around that time, he admitted in so many words to me that his position was the result of cooperating with the criminal "good old boys" network which has run things for many years in that region and is the primary way of securing salaried employment in an economically depressed area of few options beyond the fifty percent or so who travel to and from the DC-Baltimore metro area for work and a dwindling number of factories, several non-compliant massively with EPA and labor regulations. It is standard practice and common knowledge there that you "know somebody" or "know somebody that knows somebody" in securing work regardless of legally required public advertising of open positions, which are not that really. It is standard practice and common knowledge there that you "know somebody" or "know somebody that knows somebody" in securing work regardless of legally required public advertising of open positions, which are not that really. In combination with criminal methods of excluding independent entrepreneurs from the field, that creates a very circumscribed choice of behaviors and options in earning a living, none of them particularly pleasant or admirable, really.

Gary later sent me an e-mail to Jonesborough saying, "You can quit hiding out, being on the run, and come back." I had no idea what he was talking about. My residence was displayed very prominently on the ACR website. I had moved my belongings in seven trips south over a period of about two months, during which time I'd talked with three local realtors who'd assessed the A-frame's fair market price with comparative recent sales, and was settled in comfortably to a town I'd loved since the mid-60s with some good friends from that time and since, and wonderful new ones I'd met more recently. Another OSCR contributor, who'd gone along with criminal events there, also wrote saying, "Don't you want to buy your house back?" Well, no. For just one thing, it would cost quite a bit more than I'd just sold it for. Also, I'd just moved 20 years worth, minus quite a few, of possessions to a place I'd always rather have lived anyway and with better friends who'd stood by me, law and equity throughout those times and others in the past. Why would I? Warrants served in late 2002 and early 2003 referred to me as "a fugitive from justice," and I supposed that in a sense that was true, because I had certainly received no justice for myself and my property, including OSCR, the real original Valley's home page, from legal and business communities in Page and Shenandoah Counties.

Anna Joyce Star, a neighbor, contributor to OSCR and "minister of the light" commented that the Valley was "a cesspool," and that "Something had to blast you out of here." This is as good a time as any to note that citizens are not supposed to be blasted out of their homes, personal property, businesses, and credit by violent criminality and that tacit acceptance or encouragement of those behaviors constitutes collusion with illegalities and service to "the darkness," not "the light." Unlike her home, which was originally jointly owned, mine belonged to me alone because I alone paid for it with my own money and owned it for two decades.

When a somewhat older neighbor, who later instigated and assisted in the ransacking of my house, became too sodden consistently with vodka to take care of his mountaintop home, I spent a day taking out bags and piles of sometimes maggot-ridden garbage and mouldy refrigerated food, as well as washing and putting away all the dirty dishes piled in his sink and on the dining room table, despite his occasional protests that he and it were okay. If the Health Department had seen the condition, they might have condemned it and put him away as incompetent to care for himself and his possessions adequately. That neighbor in Malicious Gossip and Sin City advised my third husband while he was "squatting" in my house during the last three months of 1997, that I had "met someone on the internet," would be moving him into my home (I had absolutely no such plan and had never suggested anything like it to anyone), and that he'd better take out everything he could, because he'd never get back in. My now-ex did say so many years later when I imparted something inadvertently about Hank, "Oh! You were in love with him," and I mumbled incoherently in response trying to figure out exactly what I'd just said. An Army electrician and radio specialist during the Korean War, he was a person very dedicated philosophically and daily for decades to being free, and he did die that way, buried unembalmed in a pine box in the area he roamed, knew well, and loved for so many years.

As Valley events unfolded through the latter months of 1997 and early 1998, my -- small of stature but great of spirit, intellect and talent -- neighbor Fran Varnum, also persecuted and tortured then and thereafter, was one of very few (long-time friend Mickie Sweeney is another) who spoke out and stood up actively and to no avail for real truth, law, and fairness, deserving and earning everlasting accolades for his character and devotion to liveable values, realities and goodness.

I had never before heard of, nevermind experienced, a homeowner being taken away by force from their own property, and certainly not as a result of requesting peaceable, legal help. But the "legal" system there, I discovered, didn't want peace. It wanted war. Dissension and discord feeds its professionals, their wives and progeny and were subsequently encouraged, by fair means and foul, in every way. I'm very grateful to always have supported and devoted myself to constructive, creative ways that enriched my life, and that of others, and very sorry for those who choose the opposite. It must at its profoundest level be a very miserable, unsatisfying and ugly life, full of guilt and horror at the world it creates without reflection, remorse or redirection. I'll go to my grave knowing I never voluntarily participated in its waves of destruction to people, property and planet. In the end, we all answer to God and future generations for the world we've freely made and what effects and influences our work has caused. Whatever the consequence, we all have to live in it with our children and theirs.

Legal professionals later met and employed in the Mountain Empire have seemed less ego-driven and much more cognizant of their social responsibilities in contributing to a safe, healthy, wholesome, liveable environment, which makes sense since they, too, live here. My Luray lawyer at the time since has closed his large office there and moved to work with his new wife east of the Blue Ridge. All we have to account for is what we freely choose with the best information and knowledge available to us at the time. Jimmy Carter once promised "a government as good as its people," and a representative government of voting citizens does generally reflect the tenor of the nation, the majority view, particularly in retrospect as officials fulfill their terms of office through pronouncement and enactment of their belief systems and attitudes. We're all creatures of our time, just passing through.

"Dear God, Please help me, and so many others who've seen their work, retirement plans and/or life savings blown away by vagaries of our recent, basically lawless and immoral socio-economic system. I'm heartbroken and dismayed, and maybe so are they. The country of our origin (generally), education, skills, investment, and employment over all our adult years (forty in my case) has gone very badly astray and cares not a bit, really, for its children or its elderly, or even those in between. It just cares about money and its accumulation in the wickedest of ways. Please save those who've benefitted from that by turning their hearts and souls around and lead us all to a better day. Amen."
Receiving less than a warm ovation from authorities and officials in OSCR's original region, concommitant to those criminalities, some of which continued over the next decade, I moved to Jonesborough TN in the spring of 1998 and expanded the site's content to cover all of Appalachian culture and history, while meeting new friends and exploring alternative artistic expressions through the renamed A Country Rag. Finally, after about five years, I put myself and it on sabbatical, when Pegasus caught a bad virus and a techie friend for some reason installed, in attempting to cure it, Windows 3.1 over Windows XP, which decomposed all of Windows' long filenames and caused the whole hard drive to require erasure and reinstallation of its many software packages as well as backup website files. I took the experience as a sign that I and ACR needed a vacation to re-energize and gain some needed perspective on the whole situation. That recession turned out to be a nearly five year dissemblage and reassessment of health and priorities.

Almost all the innovative little startup websites on the internet, commercial and otherwise, are gone, although there are thousands of e-zines now. Most mainstream sites are cyber-interpretations of ground entities: extant newspapers, magazines, shops and stores, performers, educational institutions, political and charitable organizations, fraternal associations, museums and galleries, mail order houses, personal/family sites, books and reference materials, alternative press and politics. Very few are unique alone to the internet that I know of. There are some, including those left from the early days like Web Del Sol, Pif, Pogonip, and Conspire, a few outstanding holdouts/survivors of "The Internet Boom (and Blast)," along with some newer ones like Cauldron, AlterNet and of course the revamped and transmorgraphied ACR/OSCR from the halycon days of the mid to late 90's. As an information source, the internet has become an incredibly powerful tool for learning and research in its scope and magnitude, along with the ability through improved software to communicate effectively and instantly with large numbers of interested parties.

As of 2007, ACR was incorporated as a non-profit federally and in Tennessee. All of its officers and board members are close and proven women friends and its contributors for the spring 2008 update have been good and supportive companions over the years, up to forty in a few cases. As a result, the website feels more like home, family and helpful neighbors -- an amenable community of citizens working toward positive and constructive, creative goals for themselves, the region, country and planet now and in the future, ultimately. World without end.

A few times I volunteered to be a "bell ringer" for the Salvation Army and was assigned to stand cheerily in the cold outside Food Lion and Jamesway. Most people dropped change or sometimes dollar bills into the kettle as I huddled in a hat, winter coat, scarf, sweater, socks and high boots against chill winds there. I don't recall that it ever snowed, and one year that organization thanks everyone with an elegant lunch at Mimslyn Inn, which included at each place setting a small white china swan filled with candy. I actually felt guilty that we were dining so well on funds meant to help the needy, but perhaps a benefactor paid for it all personally instead. I hope that's true because I don't believe that kind of expenditure was the intention of givers who passsed by the red tripod stands on the ways to shop for gifts and necessities.

The last time I saw my home and credit in one piece was early November 1997. During the last holiday season of my owning the A-frame, it was turned over by "Christians" and "legal" people to criminals who vandalized and robbed it to the point of unliveability while I was forced to vacate it by illegal restrictions and activities. I trust God that behavior and those subsequent to it have the effect and earn the cost they deserve for those "people." It was a very, very painful experience inasmuch as I'd loved Thanksgiving and Christmas there for fourteen years and had always devoted considerable attention, work and expense on those celebrations for everyone.

A few months later, Hank wrote saying, "I'm sorry you had a bad time. I hope you heal." He never revealed what he was doing for a living, and in complete innocence I kept on writing to him as a friend telling him what I was doing and who I was meeting in Jonesborough until, becoming curious finally, I did an internet search on his name and was shocked to discover him listed as the Internet Project Manager of "the original Valley's home page" owned by Shentel, who'd conveniently installed 911 on the telephone in the first place and right around the time that site went on-line and charged me for it so I could be arrested in and on my own property when calling for assistance, as it was supposedly designed to provide. Perhaps I'd also watched too many "Emergency 911" television shows where the white knight police swooped in and saved a homeowner and/or their property from harm. Obviously, I had trusted all the wrong people, including him.

During the 2003 holidays, criminals in the Valley who refused to leave me alone here had me put in jail, or tried to, repeatedly with specious warrants and charges. The following four years the holidays were spent, of course, on restrictive and drugged probation for my refusal to accept their criminalities "lying down" and "shutting up." The holidays following those, I was too ill from their monstrously barbarous activities to take much note of or enjoy them thoroughly, although I did try to. The holidays of 2008 are similarly filled with harm, horror and hardship for good, honest working people by their recalcitrant incorrigibilities as well as they can project them elsewhere. At least the Valley "Christians" are consistent and dependable in that. I fully expect that God and Jesus have taken note of their brands of "Christianity" and will reward them appropriately and as they should be.

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"Home -- that blessed word, which opens to the human heart the most perfect glimpse of Heaven."
-- Lydia M. Child (1802-1880), abolishionist, activitist, novelist, journalist, and poet who wrote extensively on justice issues for Native Americans, African Americans, and women

"Our life is frittered away by detail.... Simplify, simplify."
-- Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), writer, dissenter, transcendentalist jailed for tax-resistance to the Mexican-American War and author of Civil Disobedience, arguing that conscience should be one's ultimate guiding light and influencing Gandhi and King

Meditations/prayers from Silent Unity's 2008 On Sacred Ground calendar:
"I am always in the presence of God, the presence of peace."
"The abundance of God is everywhere present and flows to me in fulfilling ways."
"I have instant access to the mind of God, and I am divinely directed in all I do."
"I am safe and secure in the presence of God."
"Through the life of God within, I am strengthened and renewed."
"With the love of God in my heart, I radiate peace to the world."

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Planet Earth

Twenty-four Hours of Democracy

Original text and graphics c. A Country Rag, Inc., Jonesborough TN, 2008, 2010.