Category Archives: Miscellaneous

The Apple Man

On any given day in September and early October, Hubert Hill can be found sitting in his garage at a small table surrounded by folding chairs and buckets. There’s a calculator and a set of scales on the table, and a refrigerator with drinks, but what’s most obvious is Hubert’s welcoming smile.

“I planted the first apple tree in 1972, before we ever moved into the house I’d built,” Hubert remembered. “After that, I couldn’t stop planting.”

It’s a good thing he didn’t. Today he has five acres that produce fruit, four in apples and one in grapes. The orchard includes a dozen varieties of apples and muscadine grapes, and he also grows a few peaches, plums and blueberries.

“Peaches are harder to grow than apples because they bloom early,” Hubert said. “Granny Smith apples are the local favorite, but I don’t have enough trees (to keep up with demand).”

Despite their popularity, however, he’s not looking to plant anymore. Raising the trees can be quite a bit of work.

Planting apples is not all that difficult to do, he explained. He hired a backhoe to dig the hole for his apple trees, and then he and his sons planted the trees. Digging the holes by hand, he admitted, would be harder.

“It’s a long term project, though, because it takes five years before you see a crop,” he continued. “It takes time to see a return on the investment.”

It’s a myth that apple trees won’t grow in the Piedmont — it all depends on the species of tree, he said — but the weather and the pests are always key players.

Summer's Bounty

Storms have knocked over grape trellises and uprooted trees, but Hubert said the pests are the critical element. This year he’s had a terrible infestation of squirrels.

“The pests are the biggest problem,” he explained. “With apple trees, you keep up with what you’ve planted and add more of the ones that do well.”

After a few years of growing apples he decided to try muscadine grapes as well. He sells some of them to people in the wine making industry, but quite a few are picked by visitors who simply like the grapes.

grape cluster 1

“I started planting the grapes in 1980, and I planted what I intended to plant,” he said. “Some people don’t like them because of the seeds, but a lot people do.”

And keeping up with what the customers like is important because they create the atmosphere. It’s why people from all over the state call and come to visit, like a senior in Asheville who was doing a school project comparing southern orchards to northern orchards. She discovered Hubert through the orchard’s website.

“She had several questions, but the one I remember most is that she wanted me to explain what made my orchard special,” he said.

Hubert didn’t have to ponder the question very long. Customer service, he believes, is what makes his orchard unique, and it certainly keeps people coming back. He’s had visitors from as far away as Florida come to the orchard.

“A lady in Florida called and said she saw the website, and wanted to know if I’d be open that Saturday,” Hubert recalled. “She said she wanted her children to experience picking apples, and she liked what she saw (on the Web site). Sure enough, she and the kids came to visit that Saturday.”

There had to have been orchards between Florida and Trinity, but this lady came all the way to Hubert’s orchard on the strength of a website and a single phone conversation. That says a lot about the orchard and the man, especially since Hubert admits he didn’t start out thinking he would raise apples.

In fact, after graduating from high school he attended High Point College (University). However, a summer job at Thomasville Furniture Industries turned into a part time job, and after finishing his degree he went to work there full time.

“I spent 39 years there,” he said. “I ended up as the supervisor in the accounting office, and I retired 15 years ago.”

These days he operates the pick-your-own orchard from July to October, chatting with the people who come to pick and teaching the children all about apples.

Yes, the children. The orchard has become an important destination for kindergarten and first-grade classes across the Piedmont and for homeschool groups from as far away as Raleigh and Charlotte. Local schools visit too, especially Archdale Elementary, he added.

In fact, Hubert had a school group in the orchard almost every single weekday in September, and said he believes he saw around 800 children. On the day the NEWS came to call, he’d had a group of 127 kindergarten and first grade students learning all about apples, grapes and the orchard.

In fact, Hubert once had a three year relationship with kindergarten classes at Jefferson Elementary in Greensboro.

“They sent a thank you note after their visit, and then I sent a thank you note for the thank you note,” Hubert told the NEWS.

After they received his thank you note, the children wrote back and they corresponded all during the school year. Later the children invited him to their end of school picnic.

“When I got there they had all my letters up on the bulletin board,” he remembered.

He and the kids had a good time at the picnic, where Hubert’s grandson Ryan played violin for them.

For the next two years, Hubert and the school’s kindergartners visited in September, wrote during the year, then met up at the school picnic. His relationship with the school declined when the class teacher retired, but the memories he has of them are as sweet as the apples they picked.

Of course, sometimes they come back. Hubert recalled a little girl who ran right up to him one day and said excitedly “I’m back!”

“It turned out she had been here with her school class the first time, then had her parents bring her back, and then her grandparents brought her back again,” he smiled.

After so many years the children can start to blur together, but occasionally one or two stand out. Hubert recalled another young girl, this one from a homeschool association that came to learn about apples and trees, who was extremely interested in what he was telling the group.

“Afterwards, she came up to me and said ‘Mr. Hill, I like trees too,’” he told the NEWS. “Her name was Peyton, and she just made an impression on me.”

All the kids are eager to be a part of the orchard, he continued, and he enjoys having them visit because they are “a lot of fun.”

Hubert’s a lot of fun, too, and he’s also the reason that the orchard is something special. It may not be big, but Hill’s Orchard and Vineyard is overflowing with the best things in life — fun, fruit and friendship.

This story was originally published in an October 2008 edition of the Archdale-Trinity News.


Most of the Southeast is suffering from SSP. That’s Southern Snow Panic, for those wondering. See, we don’t get a lot of snow down here and, if we do, it’s usually only a dusting to an inch or so. We’re more likely to see ice (grr arrg).

Anysomehow, the upshot is that we don’t know what to do. Snow pretty much fries our collective gray cells; we lose rational thought and start doing stupid things like abandoning our cars in the road and we have to be reminded to drive slowly and be extra careful. *facepalm*

We’re not stupid, really we’re not. We’ve just got a real bad case of SSP. It happens. 😀

Me? I’m staying in and off the road, mostly cause I’ve got this icky crud that’s going around, but also because my case of SSP is just not very severe. *winks*

Snow on the front porch and in the yard. I'm just lookin' at it, not getting out in it!
Snow on the front porch and in the yard. I’m just lookin’ at it, not getting out in it!

A few thoughts on OKCupid’s “Ethical Slut” test

So. Yesterday morning I took OKCupid’s Ethical Slut test. The test and the results were … interesting. According to the test, I scored 15 sluttiness points and 30 ethics points. This makes me the:

Happy Almost-Slut

“It’s clear that you’re at least a bit sex-positive but you may still have some hang-ups about the whole consensual nonmonogamy thing. Or, maybe you simply prefer to dabble in slutdom. Either way, you just keep treating yourself and others with respect and you can’t go wrong.”

• You scored 15% on Sluttiness, higher than 24% of your peers.
• You scored 30% on Ethics, higher than 97% of your peers.

As I said, this was interesting. My problems with it are thus:

1) I have issues with the word “slut” to begin with. But those are my personal triggers and hangups, not a general slam against the word itself or people who identify using the word.

2) Multiple choice answers are a crap shoot. There were some questions where none of the answers were what I would have done, not even close. It wasn’t even a case of “choose the best answer,” it was more like “choose the only response that would ever be possible in any circumstance.”

Or the questions were so vague it wasn’t funny. I read and reread one question thinking, I don’t have enough information to make a decision. Overthinking? Maybe.

But maybe not.

3) I have not read “The Ethical Slut” so I don’t know how close this test is to what the book argues, but the test seems to equate being sex-positive with being non-monogamous. Ethically non-monogamous, but still. And that I do have a problem with, because it is completely possible to be monogamous or “monogamish” and still be sex-positive. Having a personal preference does not, generally, make a person prejudiced and bigoted or, in this case, sex-negative; how one expresses that preference does.

Preaching Up Sin (Reblogged)

George Fox and the other early Quakers of the 17th century were not known to shrink away from controversy. In fact, they often seemed to have sought out confrontation with Anglican priests and Puritan preachers. One of the common charges the Quakers levied against the Calvinist Puritans in particular was that they focused too much on “preaching up sin.” I always imagine Fox having a bit of a wry smile when leveling this charge against the “hireling preachers” (as he called them) of the day. But I also think there is a deadly serious truth behind the criticism of “preaching up sin” that goes to the core of the meaning of the Christian faith and how we live our lives from day to day.

The Bible, of course, has much to say about sin. I have studied the topic of sin (Hamartiology) in some detail and I think it is an important term to define. Is sin rebellion? Is it ignorance? Or is it simply falling short? My favorite definition of sin comes from …

To read the rest of Danny Coleman’s excellent post, click here.

Music Monday — BFA

The filk, a form of music formed within the sci-fi and fantasy fandoms, is a long and sort-of honorable tradition. In that spirit, and that of Music Monday, the Bookish Miss presents her all time favorite filk:

Banned From Argo by Leslie Fish.

Yep, that wonderful, crazy, I-have-spawned-so-many-extra-verses-it’s-impossible-to-keep-up-with-them-all, Star Trek parody filk is my favorite.

It was recorded on Solar Sailors in 1977 and is set to the tune of “The Boston Burglar.” The ninth verse originally referenced Klingons, but that was changed to pirates when it was recorded. Why that is, no one seems to know; the song already mentioned Starfleet and Pon Farr (the Vulcan mating drive), so it’s not like changing that word suddenly made the song ostensibly about something else.

In 2003, it won a Pegasus Award for best classic filk song.

All that popularity, however, has had an interesting effect. Banned From Argo, affectionately referred to as BFA, is the only song Leslie Fish refuses to perform.

Here’s a video from YouTube. It’s cheesy (come on, it’s TOS, of course it’s a bit cheesy!) and the visual skips a bit, but it’s the best one I could find. The lyrics are below it. Scroll to the end for a link to download a free mp3 of the song.

When we pulled into Argo Port in need of R&R,
The crew set out investigating every joint and bar.
We had high expectations of their hospitality,
But found too late it wasn’t geared for spacers such as we.

And we’re banned from Argo, everyone.
Banned from Argo, just for having a little fun.
We spent a jolly shore leave there for just three days or four,
But Argo doesn’t want us any more.

The Captain’s tastes were simple, but his methods were complex.
We found him with five partners, each of a different world and sex.
The Shore Police were on the way-we had no second chance.
We beamed him up in the nick of time-and the remnants of his pants.


Our Engineer would yield to none at putting down the brew;
He out-drank seven space marines and a demolition crew.
The Navigator didn’t win, but he out-drank almost all,
And now they’ve got a shuttlecraft on the roof of City Hall.


Our proper, cool First Officer was drugged with something green,
And hauled into an alley, where he suffered things obscene.
He sobered up in Sickbay and he’s none the worse for wear,
Except he’s somehow taught the bridge computer how to swear.


The Head Nurse disappeared awhile in the major Dope Bazaar,
Buying an odd green potion “guaranteed to cause Pon Farr.”
She came home with no uniform and an oddly cheerful heart,
And a painful way of walking with her feet a yard apart.


Our lady of Communications won a shipwide bet,
By getting into the planet’s main communications net.
Now every time someone calls up on an Argo telescreen,
The flesh is there, but the clothes they wear are nowhere to be seen.


Our Doctor loves Humanity; his private life is quiet.
The Shore Police arrested him for inciting whores to riot.
We found him in the city jail, locked on and beamed him free-
Intact except for hickeys and six kinds of VD.


Our Helmsman loves exotic plants; the plants all love him too.
He took some down on leave with him and we wondered what they’d do,
‘Til the planetary governor called and swore upon his life
That a gang of plants entwined his house and then seduced his wife!


A gang of pirates landed, and nobody seemed to care.
They stamped into the nearest bar to announce that they were there.
Half our crew was busy there and invited them to play,
But the pirates only looked at us, and turned and ran away.


Our crew is Starfleet’s finest, and our record is our pride.
And when we play we tend to leave a trail a mile wide.
We’re sorry about the wreckage and the riots and the fuss;
At least we’re sure that planet won’t be quick forgetting us!


Wonder why … ?

Download a free mp3 version here.

Searching for Hermione Granger (in art)

Now that all the Harry Potter films have been released, I’ve decided to bring up something that has bothered me since the first film came out. (Well, one of the things that bothers me, at any rate. There are so many to choose from, even for someone who thought the last three books were a ridiculous travesty.)

Emma Watson is a lovely young woman and a good actress. She does a believable job portraying J.K. Rowling’s smart, driven muggleborn witch. The problem is that, despite this, she’s just too pretty to be Hermione Granger. And, with the exception of the first film, her hair is nothing like our favorite bookworm’s.

So where to find Hermione Granger? After giving it some thought, I nixed looking at actresses and started looking at art, specifically nineteenth century to begin with. Eventually I compiled a list of likely candidates. Few are perfect, but most could — with some tweaks — be the bushy-haired bookworm.

La Pia de Tolomei

The first two are by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, the 19th century painter, poet and founder of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. The first is La Pia de Tolomei, above, which depicts a young woman sitting in a garden with a sundial and a Bible or catechism book (as opposed to any other book, since there’s a rosary on top of it). The model was Jane Burden Morris, wife of fellow Pre-Raphaelite William Morris; her hair is too red and her eyes green, but otherwise she is very much Hermione – with strong features and “bushy” hair.

Mona Vanna

The second is Monna Vanna. The model was Alexa Wilding; again, the hair color isn’t quite right, but this could otherwise be adult Hermione.

Gather Ye Rosebuds While Ye May

John William Waterhouse’s 1908 Gather Ye Rosebuds While Ye May could very easily be Hermione. The model’s hair, while pulled back in two section on either side, is clearly of the curly/bushy variety and it’s the right color. She is also not too pretty, but there is something striking about her. Perhaps it’s the roses she’s offering or the admonition of poet Robert Herrick in “To the Virgins, To Make Much of Time,” from which the painting’s title is taken.

Most of Waterhouse’s models remain unknown, but given the date of this piece she could be Aline Henderson or possibly Gwendoline Gunn.

A Young Beauty With Flowers In Her Hair

The final image is by Peruvian painter Albert Lynch. A Young Beauty with Flowers in her Hair epitomizes Hermione as she may have looked at the Yule Ball, with bushy hair tamed by Sleekeazy’s Hair Potion.

These are just a few possibilities; I’ll post more later. Meanwhile, have you found Hermione in art?

Images courtesy of Art Renewal Center