Charity Logo

Charity Logo

Charity of the Month


In December I am riding for Heifer International. Founded in 1944, Heifer International works with communities around the world to end hunger and poverty and to care for the Earth. Its approach is more than a handout. Heifer provides animals (e.g., heifers, goats, water buffalos, chickens, rabbits, fish, and bees) and training to impoverished people in over 30 countries. The animals can give milk, meat, or eggs; provide draft power; or form the basis of a small business. Communities make their own decisions about what crops, animals, and market strategies make sense for their everyday conditions and experiences.

Heifer International is based on 12 Cornerstones, such as Sustainability; Genuine Need and Justice; and Gender and Family Focus. Perhaps the best known Cornerstone is Passing on the Gift, in which Heifer recipient families pass on the offspring of their animals to others in need. In this way, whole communities can raise their standard of living.

A donation to Heifer International also can make a wonderful alternative holiday gift. Instead of yet another sweater for Grandma that she really doesn’t need, why not donate a Heifer animal or a share of an animal in her honor? Does your child really need so many new toys? Instead of five new toys, give him/her three new toys and a Heifer flock of chicks. Heifer has honor cards to let your loved ones know of your gift on their behalf.

I have set up a Team Heifer page to support Heifer International through A Year of Centuries. My goal is to raise $500. Please make your donation through If you would like more information about Heifer’s work, please visit Whether you give to honor a loved one or make a regular donation, thank you for taking steps to transform the world for the better.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Blue Goose

This weekend Robert and I made an overnight bicycle trip to The Blue Goose, a coffee shop and bike hostel in Irwinton, Georgia.  What a great destination!  The Blue Goose just opened in February of this year.  Anyone would enjoy visiting the coffee shop or antique/gift shop, but the hostel was designed specifically with cyclists in mind.  The accommodations are inexpensive yet fun and comfortable.

It’s about 53 miles from Monticello to Irwinton, a nice ride length.  Robert suggested that we travel almost the whole way on state highways, which worked great.  The state highways between here and there have a very reasonable amount of traffic from a cycling standpoint.

Irwinton is in Wilkinson County, which is the heart of kaolin country.  Kaolin is a clay mineral that is mined extensively in a band running across Middle Georgia.  The kaolin deposits generally lie about 10 to 20 miles south of the fall line, which separates the piedmont to the north from the coastal plain to the south.  The vast majority of mined kaolin is used to make the glossy paper coating for magazine pages and other publications.  Kaolin is used in a number of other products, too, including ceramics, paint, and toothpaste.  Until fairly recently, it has also been used in upset stomach remedies like Kaopectate. Some people even eat kaolin (geophagia).

For many years the Georgia kaolin belt was the leading producer of this mineral in the world.  As time has gone by, mining companies have had to dig deeper and deeper to access productive veins.  Brazil has now surpassed Georgia in production because Brazil’s deposits are closer to the earth’s surface, making mining less expensive there.  There’s still plenty of mining going on in Georgia, though.  This is a typical tailings pond used in the kaolin mining process:

Here’s a kaolin processing plant outside of McIntyre:

McIntyre is a small town (population 650 as of the 2010 census) in Wilkinson County.  Besides kaolin, McIntyre’s biggest claim to fame is Honey Boo Boo.  Pop culture is a strange thing.  I’ve never even seen her show, yet I know who Honey Boo Boo is.  Last January one of our Peach Peloton rides (i.e., Saturday group rides) went through McIntyre, and I took a selfie in front of Honey Boo Boo’s house.  Even though I already had that picture, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to play paparazzo again for this ride report.  The front of the house has police caution tape all across it; therefore, the back of the house, right next to the railroad track, makes for a nicer picture:

It was only about three more miles from McIntyre to Irwinton.  Irwinton is actually slightly smaller (population 583 as of the 2010 census), but Irwinton has a more happening restaurant scene.  Specifically, Irwinton has Maebob’s:

Maebob’s is a classic meat-and-two Southern diner.  It’s pretty good.  I had eaten there a few months ago with my boss when we were in the area visiting a job site.  Yesterday Maebob’s was only open until 2:00 P.M., and so Robert and I made sure to leave our house in time to eat there for lunch.

Since my crash, I have really developed a taste for unsweet tea.  Sweet tea is ubiquitous and iconic in the Deep South, but so far no one has asked me to turn in my Southern membership card because of my preference for unsweet tea.  Our waitress at Maebob’s obligingly brought me unsweet tea in a huge glass with a Coca-Cola logo on it (perfect) and plenty of lemon wedges.  That was some good tea!  It was freshly brewed and so flavorful.

I don’t fry chicken at home because a) it’s not the healthiest thing to eat on a regular basis and b) I can’t get it to taste as good as it does at places like Maebob’s.  So, I decided to treat myself to their fried chicken.  (I was happy to see a bottle of Texas Pete hot sauce on the table - makes fried chicken even better.)  Maebob’s serves fried chicken most days of the week, but it’s also the Saturday lunch special.  Yesterday it was served with Rotation 1, meaning you could choose two of four listed vegetables.  Rotation 2, presumably served on alternating Saturdays, had four other vegetable choices.  I chose green beans and rice with gravy from Rotation 1 and a roll instead of cornbread.  I rarely order cornbread when I’m out because I’m always afraid that they put sugar in it, which is sacrilege.  It was a right tasty meal:

Then it was time to head over to The Blue Goose.  I was so excited that I had goose bumps!

Actually, Maebob’s had the AC cranked up.  I’m often cold inside, even during – or maybe particularly during – the summertime.

The Blue Goose!

Donna, one of the gracious owners, showed Robert and me around.  There are two rooms with a couple of sets of bunk beds each and an upstairs room with a queen-sized bed.  Robert and I had one of the bunk-bed rooms to ourselves.  Much of the décor has a cycling theme, which I loved.  Here’s one example:

I particularly liked this sign, which gives one of the main reasons I ride my bicycle:

The Blue Goose also has route maps and directions available for good rides in the area.  Robert and I didn’t need this one since we had already done our own Honey Boo Boo ride:

Robert and I both made good use of the cozy indoor reading area during our stay.  Robert tried it first, enjoying the company of Murray, a golden retriever who belongs to the other people who stayed at the Blue Goose last night:

I went outside to read – and nap – in an Adirondack chair.  After a while, a few raindrops fell on me.  I found Robert and suggested that we skedaddle to the local grocery store to get our evening provisions before the rain started in earnest.  We strolled the few blocks to the store.  I like planning and efficiency, and so I make a week’s worth of menus and shop just once a week.  Therefore, it was a novel concept to me to go to the grocery store and just pick out whatever looked good.  I felt like I was on Dinner Impossible.  Thanks to some good input from Robert, though, we soon made some nice selections.

Another great amenity at The Blue Goose is beer and wine.  A donation can is available, which helps them keep the refrigerator stocked.  Robert and I had some wine while I cooked dinner:

A little while later, we sat down to a yummy meal of ribeye steak, baked sweet potatoes, and assorted sautéed vegetables:

Robert thought I was nuts for carrying home the leftover, uncooked mushrooms in my backpack.  Hey, waste not, want not.

This morning after eating breakfast and saying goodbye to Lynne, who is the other friendly Blue Goose owner, and the other hostel visitors, Robert and I headed for home:

On the return trip I made sure to stop at the Hawthorne Family Cemetery near Gordon:

Although it’s not really my thing, my mother is very interested in genealogy.  I’ve absorbed some of what she’s learned.  My great grandmother was a Hawthorne, and so I’m related to most of the people in this cemetery.  Being a dutiful daughter paid off because I had a nice surprise at the cemetery.  I met my third cousin once removed, who was doing a little grounds maintenance:

We figured out that his great grandfather and my great great grandfather were brothers.  By the way, people often erroneously refer to relatives as second cousins, third cousins, etc. when they should use the term “removed” to be accurate and, ultimately, less confusing.  The naming of cousins really is an elegant system.  Take this example:

First cousins are easy to understand; they are how the children of siblings are related.  In this example, Charles and Debbie are first cousins with Edward and Francine.  They are all in the same generation (two levels below) the common ancestors, who are Mom and Dad.

The children of Charles, Debbie, Edward, and Francine are all of the same generation, three levels below the common ancestors Mom and Dad.  That makes George, Helen, and Isabel second cousins with James.

Any children of George, Helen, and Isabel would be third cousins with any children of James.  These third cousins all would be four levels below the common ancestors of Mom and Dad.

So where does “removed” come in?  Removed should be used any time there is a difference in level, or generation, between two people.  For example, Debbie and James are cousins but not of the same generation.  They are first cousins once removed.  “First” indicates the higher cousin level (Debbie’s), and “once removed” indicates that there is one level of difference between generations.  Suppose James had a child named Fred.  Debbie and Fred would be first cousins twice removed, indicating Debbie’s higher cousin level and the two levels of difference between their generations.  Similarly, George and Fred would be second cousins once removed, indicating George’s higher cousin level (second) and one level of difference between generations.

Robert and I continued on our journey home.  stopped for one more photo, which was a good summary of the weekend:

I missed church today, but fortunately, God is not confined to the four walls of a building.

One last tidbit: because this month’s charity in A Year of Centuries is The Ferst Foundation for Childhood Literacy, I rewrote some nursery rhymes with a cycling twist.  Therefore, instead of Mother Goose rhymes, they are Blue Goose rhymes:

Blue Goose Rhymes

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe
She had so many bikes, she didn’t know what to do;
She could sell eight or ten, and they wouldn’t be missed.
She soon sold them all, thanks to Craig’s List.

Jack be nimble, Jack be quick
Jack make that breakaway stick

Little Miss Maddle
Sat on her saddle
Eating her Gu and whey*;
With this new burst of power
She could last one more hour,
And ride on her merry way.

*whey protein

One, two,
Velcro my shoe;
Three, four,
Legs are sore;
Five, six,
They feel like bricks;
Seven, eight,
Massage feels great;
Nine, ten,
Let’s ride again.

Jack passed Jill going up the hill
To fetch a KOM.
Jack fell down and broke his crown
So Jill was QOM.

Little Chris Horner
Rounded the corner,
Leading the crit passing by.
He stuck out his neck,
Avoided the wreck,
And said, “What a fast boy am I!”

Rice-a-cake, rice-a-cake,
Lim’s the man,
Make me a cake
As fast as you can;
Egg it and soy it,
And put in some bacon,
And wrap it in foil
For handy ride takin’.

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