Monday, October 12, 2009


Ever since I was a small child I have had a fascination with trees, especially the really big ones. Most children, me included, spend a lot of time climbing trees, and occasionally falling from them. When I was a little boy, after I had learned the artful use of a hatchet, I did what many little boys would do...I practiced with my hatchet on some most unfortunate trees. I can only apologize to them now. Perhaps they will forgive me...perhaps some of them lived on many years after their encounter with "hatchet boy". As I grew older, I left my "hatchet boy" ways behind, and grew into a greater appreciation for the myriad of things that trees provide. This tree education began most likely when I was a scout. Scout lore of old was ripe with all things of a woodsy nature, in appreciation and use. My tree education continued even during my years as a surveyor. During those years I was compelled to learn many species. Often an old deed would include boundary references using such and such tree, so many paces from fence corner, etc. You had to know the species to get with the correct tree. At one point back in the 70s I took a job as a tree planter in the mountains of New Mexico. It was a rather remote National Forest location near the old haunts of Georgia O'Keefe. It was an interesting experience, camping in the mountains for days at a time, without most of the luxuries of modern shower, TV, etc. We were up there so long that we literally lost our clothes one day, and planted trees naked...Whoohoo!! My college major, Wildlife and Fisheries, gave me another grand opportunity to learn about trees. I was taught the myriad of complex relations of animals to their oft wooded environments. I took a number of courses in plant and forest ecology, and once wrote a rather lengthy paper on the forest communities of Fall Creek Falls. As I went further in my university studies at TN Tech as a graduate student in Fisheries, my education in things of a tree nature continued. I will always remember the importance of the Riparian Zone, that interface between land and stream, as it relates to the stream's health and ultimately the health of all aquatic creatures found within. I will as well remember using a unique instrument called a Spherical Densiometer to gauge canopy coverage (shading) over the stream, and how this shading relates to the location of various aquatic creatures. My academic pursuits, at least at the university level, finally came to an end. My love of trees has not. The pictures posted with this blog are of a couple of large oaks. One is located near UTC, adjacent to the Confederate Cemetary. It is possible that it might date back to the Civil War. The other tree is one that I surveyed about 20 years ago while doing a highway survey project near Etowah TN. Kathy and I have returned to visit this tree on occasion. When we stopped there this past summer, we found that the tree had been cut down. I am not sure what precipitated this action. Inspection of the stump revealed that the inner 2/3 or so of the trunk had rotted, leaving a somewhat precarious support for such a heavy tree. Its slightly smaller "brother tree", another large oak stands nearby. At least I was able to capture this grand specimen in pictures before it fell. An artist friend even did an oil painting based on a photograph of my tree and me. My tree education continues to this day. I read a bit about deforestation, I support organizations that seek to curtail cutting, clear cutting of mixed species forests. It is quite sad what humanity is allowing to happen to our forests. I strongly urge you to read about these forests and the need to protect them and ultimately ourselves. Without these forests, we literally could not survive.

Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned and the last fish been caught will we realise we cannot eat money. ~Cree Indian Proverb

Peace and blessings


Namaste...from Mudbug

Monday, July 13, 2009


The subject of friends is one that I think about routinely. Having travelled and lived in a number of different places, it became difficult to have and nurture good friendships. Many of the folks I would consider friends do not live near me, although I try to stay in touch with them. I consider friendship to be one of the most important aspects of life.

A few years ago I had the opportunity the be a catalyst for a friendship between my wife, Kathy, and our son's 1st grade teacher, Ruth. Kathy's 50th birthday was approaching. I decided to send the two of them on a four day trip to NYC. I kept it a secret for a while but finally had to let them know so that they could get their heads around it and do some planning. I did most of the planning, having arranged the hotel, evening meals at the best restaurants including special birthday desserts, and a few plays. That was over 5 years ago, and they remain fast and close friends. They try to do a trip each year together. They did a cruise together in '07. My being a catalyst for their friendship is one of the best things I have ever done in my life. We should all hope to have and be as good a friends as they are, and to not "sail" through life alone.

Peace and blessings.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Day One and Why Tennessee Mudbug?

Getting started with a personal blog is, I imagine, the greatest hurdle. What will I write, what will I say? I want it to be perfect, but alas perfection is an elusive, here I go, good and bad and in-between.
This blog is not exclusive to any one interest, but will serve to illuminate a life of varied interests. I am determined to keep opinions to a bare minimum, if any at all. Let's face it everyone has some, and although we each cherish our own, we may not find much meaning in each other's. I am determined to use this blog to inform, humor, and perhaps, if we are lucky to even enlighten the reader, if not even myself in the process. As I like photography I will try and have a new photo posted with each daily blog. I will also include a noteworthy quotation that may or may not pertain to the daily blog topic.
Why Tennessee Mudbug? I have, since my college days at Tennessee Tech University, held a fascination for and have studied the fascinating creatures we know as crayfish, crawdads, mudbugs. I was able to study them at TTU given my Fisheries Biology major. I furthered my interests while working at the Tennessee Aquarium with explorations of exhibit possibilities. I was even called upon to write a piece for our quarterly TN Aquarium magazine. I had pretty much free reign to investigate, collect, keep, photograph, and write about these crusty creatures that many know so little about. I have provided two links that will give even the most studious reader all and more information than one might ever need. Briefly...aside from the red Louisiana crawfish, widely known and eaten, are some 549 other species around the globe. Two "hotbeds" of species diversity are the southeastern U.S. with 330 species and Australia with 100 species. Tennessee is home to the greatest diversity of the 50 states, with some 78 species. The largest, The Giant Tasmanian Crayfish, is found in Tasmania. Specimens of this lobster sized critter have been recorded at over 500mm in length and in excess of 4kg. The smallest at slightly over an inch occurs in Queensland, Australia. The vast majority of all species live in either standing or flowing water, but some live ouside of submerged, aquatic environments in moist burrows. A few species spend entire lives in caves.

Well, that's all folks ! Day one...the whys and wheres...
Peace and blessings, Namaste, Shalom...Jeff (aka Tennessee Mudbug)

"Don't you wish there were a knob on the TV to turn up the intelligence? There's one marked "Brightness," but it doesn't work." - Gallagher