Theres an 'App' for That!

It seems that whatever we choose to do these days, there is some sort of 'App' for it to make life easier and more informative. But whether or not we choose to go the ‘high-tech’ route, The Mountain Farmgirl knows of an ‘app’ that’s totally free, absolutely awesome and one that everyone can instantly use. Download it now in ... “There’s an App for That!”…

I was with some friends the other night.  We were taking a little walk on the way to dinner when I commented on the extraordinary crescent moon that was being hugged by two gleaming, unidentified planets in the night-time sky. As one of my friends pointed his cellphone toward the heavens, it captured the brilliant astronomical sight, instantly informing us that we were looking at Uranus and Jupiter!  Had it not been so bitter cold out, we could have tarried a bit longer to find out everything we ever wanted to know about these planets … and more! On his phone!!  It was incredible.

In fact, that experience reminded me of an “ah-ha” moment I had on a walk I was taking with some friends about a month ago on Cape Cod. As we walked by an extremely historic house in their neighborhood , I was struck by an amazing and unfamiliar ‘hedge’ of woody stemmed plants swaying in the breeze near the stone wall that bordered the sidewalk. The color and texture of the leaves were absolutely stunning, and I wanted to identify it so that I could possibly grow it in my own garden someday. My girlfriend Joan then said, “Oh, there’s an App for that!”  It turns out that you just center the leaves of the plant on the screen of your cell phone and it identifies the plant with both English and Latin names, its growing habits, where to purchase it, how much it costs … virtually anything you could possibly need to know! (In this particular example, don’t forget to check whether a particular plant species is native to your area so that it does not get out of control and become an invasive species in your area. But then, that is like preaching to the choir … Farmgirls already know that … sorry!!).

The before mentioned “Ah-Ha” moment refers to a brilliant ‘idea bubble’ of mine that burst when Joan told me about that plant app … and the realization that I had better leave earth-shattering technological breakthroughs to others.  You see, as a ‘Bird lover” type person, I had come up with the idea that since facial recognition technology exists for humans, why couldn’t it be developed for identifying birds as well?  When I mentioned my idea to my friend that day, she said the now all-too-familiar phrase, “There’s an app for that!”.  What do you know … my million dollar idea out the window … and along with it a future career in software development! Ha!!

I may be an old-fashioned farmgirl at heart … after all I can -- and have -- lived without running water & electricity for many years … and I’ve lived that way with quite a bit of style, I might add!  And I’ll be the first to tell you that in my quest for Simplicity and Frugal living, I’d get back to such basics again tomorrow if I could convince my husband of it. But truth be told, I DO enjoy certain modern inventions and conveniences. I love ice cubes for example!  I am thankful for antibiotics, which saved my husband when he had an advanced case of pneumonia, as well as my son’s life when he had a badly burst appendix for nearly a week before we knew what was wrong.  And as a writer, I absolutely NEED my laptop, whether its power comes from the outlet in the wall or a solar cell on my roof. I’d absolutely die without it, you understand!!

As to cell phones … I do have a ‘Smart Phone’ and I don’t apologize for it!  In fact, I LOVE it … and for a few brief months after I first bought it, I delighted  in knowing that it was newer and had  more bells and whistles than my techno-savvy kids’ phones did!! (A minor victory, I know … but sometimes we take them wherever we can find them).   Texting my technological genius sons one day, I asked: “Can you “Swype”?   Immediately I got a text back from one of them asking, “Can I what?”   Bingo…  Hit the jackpot!! For a fleeting nanosecond in time – and probably for the last time in history -- I knew something my kids didn’t!    Na nana – na na!!!  (‘Swyping’ by the way, is just a way of texting by dragging your finger across a phone’s touch screen and connecting the letters, instead of typing them on a little keyboard.  My phone was the first to offer it … a short lived victory!).

Not that I couldn’t live without them, but I will say that there are some apps for my phone that I do find quite wonderful.  The Sky program I mentioned above is really interesting.  The Bar Code Scanner can be useful to find out about a product, what its ingredients are, where it was made, where you can find it for the cheapest price, etc. Then there’s a program called Goggles that lets you get information about virtually anything just by pointing your phone at it. It can recognize landmarks, logos, artwork, businesses, and all sorts of different products.

Once you snap an image, Goggles scans and identifies it, and seconds later it brings you detailed information about the object along with pages of relevant Web results. I guess it could even ID my birds with it, too … could be pretty handy!  From personalizing and streaming the kinds of music it thinks I like, to finding the nearest bookstore or the closest tea shop that also gives foot massages … these days my cell phone is smarter than I am. Much smarter. It wakes me up in the morning.  It can find itself if (I mean when) I lose it … Heck, it can even find my car if I forget where I parked it!! But while all of this technology is super sexy and intriguing, after awhile I have decided that enough is enough.

“I want an app to get back to common sense, simple, everyday LIFE!”


What ever happened to just talking to each other with our mouths instead of our typing fingers? Why do I need to know that in 3.2 miles there will be a Chinese restaurant on the right that serves orange bean curd and jasmine rice?  While that may be useful, at the same time it also takes away the sense of adventure we used to experience  when we explored an unfamiliar region and discovered some magical little surprises all on our own!


You know those silly Farm games? In case you just can’t wait until you get home after work, you can play farm on your phone as well as on your computer. I’ve never played one, by the way … I choose the ‘app’ that gets me out in the backyard in the fresh mountain air, scratching around in the soil.  I’m tired of hearing about all that digital dirt under people’s fingernails. Give me a trowel, some seeds and a watering can any day.


And texting each other from room to room in our own homes …  What’s that all about?! Give me the ‘app’ that gets us talking to each other face to face once again. Don’t get me wrong … I think texting is great as a tool. If I need to inform my kids about something important, but don’t want to call them for fear of interrupting them at work or in a college lecture, ‘texts’ are a brilliant solution.  They’re fast, easy and delivered instantaneously. But texting as a form of communication? Forget it!  I want to go back to the old fashioned ‘app’ of looking someone in the eyes when I am talking to them.

Facebook apps of course are everywhere. I loved the City Farmgirl’s blog about Facebook a few weeks ago. I once wrote a long blog on the topic for another site, which I called ‘About Face’. It was, obviously, about Facebook … but as the title also implied, I had several ‘about face’ decisions as to whether or not  to incorporate it into my life. At first I did; I set up an account.  Then I saw how addicted people were to it. I saw people post status notes such as “I am enjoying a delicious piece of pie right now” and I thought, “Do I really need to know this? Is this the kind of info friends should be bombarded with on a daily basis?  I don’t think so!  I promptly took down my Facebook page. Then I had second thoughts. After all, I have a business. Businesses are supposed to have FB accounts, and so I re-instated mine. But then, so much personal information  goes out on the web … whose business is it anyway what my religion is, what I like to do after work? What my books I am reading? If anyone I know is truly interested, I’d probably be happy to share, but does it need to be advertised out there on the internet? And so after a time I took it down again.  Currently I do have a Facebook page. And yes, it has some personal information. For the time being at least, I’m going to keep it if for no other reason than to be able to check on what my grown-up-and-far-away kids are doing today!!  But I can’t say I really feel comfortable about it as the all-encompassing institution in our lives that it has become.

Here’s what I’m thinking today: Let’s download a little less ‘technology’ and a lot more ‘life’ into our worlds!  Let’s talk to each other more, look into one another’s eyes. Play a board game with our kids instead of electronic games where each ‘man’ is for himself. Let’s hold someone’s hand and tell them, “I know just how you feel.  How can I help?”  There have always been ‘apps’ for these kinds of things: they’re called “Love”, “Compassion”, “Caring” … LIVING!
What do you say,  my friends? Let’s all put our cell phones down for just a little while longer today and download a good old-fashioned, free helping of “Life”!

Until next time,
Mountain Bounty, Mountain Blessings from Cathi
The Mountain Farmgirl



By: Reba
On: 03/05/2012 07:35:51
Amen!!! I guess I am "old-fashioned." While I do have a cell phone and internet, I appreciate a hand-written card or simple phone call, not just a text. And I thought most "business" came by "word of mouth" anyway? I guess I am too far behind the times. And some of the awful things vs good things I have heard about Facebook...well, that does keep my business away. I have to say one thing good about Facebook...I don't get everyone elses junk forwards now. ;) Blessings, Reba
By: bonnie ellis
On: 03/05/2012 07:41:36
Cathi: I am old-fashioned. I like people, not gizmos. I do have a computer (and living with a computer expert son) it is fast and furious. However my cell phone is basic, I don't text and don't have "an app for that" I am more peaceful, tied to the earth and I love living slower. I care about people too. Thanks for your blog.
By: Tammy
On: 03/05/2012 07:41:37

I hate to ask but would you happen to know the name of the app you mentioned that you used to identify the planets? Sounds like it might be a helpful app while I'm teaching myself astronomy.

Hi Tammy,Yes ... it is pretty cool!  It is called Google Sky (a free app).  Happy Star hunting!

By: Gwen Mangelson
On: 03/05/2012 07:49:47
I loved this article! Thank you for sharing. I especially liked your paragraph about less apps and more life! I have been thinking the same thing myself lately. I do not have a smart phone, I only have a blackberry with NO internet and I prefer it that way. If this phone every wears out I am in trouble! lol
Love reading your posts
Thanks again!
By: Fawn Carriker
On: 03/05/2012 07:53:48
Very well said, Cathi! I spend way too much time on Facebook, but love the instant connection it gives with out-of-town family. To really re-connect, I spend time in my apartment backyard, either digging in the dirt or reading. It replenishes me.
By: C Harvey
On: 03/05/2012 07:56:10
Funny you should mention that about Facebook. I recently deleted my account about 2 weeks ago after 3 years on. It was just so invasive and although I didn't play the games, I found myself checking my 'page' every couple of hours and wanting to give opinions to others even though I knew within hours those opinions were like so much chaff in the wind. Like you, I really didn't care that someone was up in the middle of the night because they couldn't sleep or standing in line at the airport. The final straw came when people started posting disturbing images of abused animals, sickly abused. I must say I haven't missed it and even feel free for not having all my personal info out there. It isn't for everyone. I do have a smart phone, however, and love it! I one-upped my college son with the 'swype' lingo as well, ha. One for our side!
By: Dollie White
On: 03/05/2012 08:16:24
My feelings exactly!!! Thank you for speaing out for some of us who choose to just LIVE, slowly and with peace. Not all that rush, rush that seems to come with these great new apps , etc.
By: Sharon Elaine
On: 03/05/2012 08:28:36
I was born in the mountains of PA and now live in the mountains of TN. I recently did the facebook, not facebook and now facebook again. I too have children (and grandchildren) far away who post photos and info I want and need. I dislike the huge bites it takes from my day I have to control this. Feels like watching life rather than participating. Living life on purpose with purpose is my life mission statement.
By: Pamela
On: 03/05/2012 08:35:03

Can you share the names of the apps you mentioned? I would especially be interested in the plant identification app! Thank you!

Yes of course ... I don't have my phone with me at the moment, but I will look it up and get back to you!

By: michele
On: 03/05/2012 08:43:12
Amen, Sister!! I think that while the world has gone communication crazy, we rarely communicate on a level that really matters.
I have started writing (and receiving) letters and it is such a nice way to keep people close

P>S. What is that beautiful bird in your picture since I don't have an app for that and live in the Midwest so it is not a bird I'm familiar with
By: Lane
On: 03/05/2012 08:52:40
So timely! I'm trying to do just what you said - less technology and more "life". Thanks for the reminder and encouragement.
By: Wayve
On: 03/05/2012 09:31:50
I agree! Being with those around us is so important. And there's nothing like a community. Many of my friends were out helping those who were hit by the tornadoes in Cherokee Co., NC last Friday. But for those of us who are far away, I am thankful that we can communicate our Love, Compassion, and Caring by Facebook and e-mail. Whatever keeps folks in touch is good, but there is nothing like being able to touch a loved one with a non-virtual (real) hug.
By: Heather :) :) :)
On: 03/05/2012 13:25:08
Oh, when I used to have a smart phone, I LOVED searching for new apps. My favorite was this fitness app, and I could keep track of my food/meals, calories etc. sometimes, if I couldn't find the item in their database, I just had to scan the barcode and the information would show up on my phone ;) :) Really cool :) :) I don't have a smart phone anymore. It's a pay-as-you go phone...with zero apps ;) :) Have a great week. Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather ;)

p.s. I am saving money for an iPod Touch, because I want to get the Instragram app :)
By: Nancy
On: 03/05/2012 16:09:30
Amen, Cathi! As much as I enjoy my technology, I also enjoy the song of the meadowlark,the sigh of the pines, and my daughter's smile!

By: Bonnie
On: 03/05/2012 16:22:43
Oh Cathi! You certainly hit the nail on the head for me concerning all the technology that we are bombarded with today. Some of it is great and so useful, but I agree with you about Facebook. Who needs to know the minute details of our lives? And who is writing them? They need to get out and experience life!
I do enjoy reading your posts and appreciate your insights about the simple life. Thanks!
By: KimberlyD
On: 03/05/2012 19:30:34
I have a plain old cell phone, can only talk and text on it but I hardly text. I do have fb account, but I don't play farm games on it, I did but don't anymore, just keep it to send gifts to my friends. I do have a nook color, love it! And agree we need more face to face communication in our life!
By: Catherine's Country Cottage
On: 03/06/2012 23:50:20
Thank you Cathi, for your thoughts. I do use technology, but not to the extent that most people seem to be doing, these days. I have facebook, twitter & blogs and a very simple cell-phone, in-fact totally out of date cell-phone! Skype is just wonderful, I have to say, as my family and I live far apart, it is great to 'see' them talking and that the calls are free, is just a life saver! I am also pleased with facebook, because it has helped me reconnect with a school friend whom I would otherwise have had a hard time finding. Although I think all of this technology is wonderful, I have to agree, that meeting-up with a loved-one or friend, 'face-to-face' and giving them a hug hello... well, nothing can ever beat that!
By: Vickie
On: 03/17/2012 11:49:07
Amen Sister!!
I was begining to feel I must be some kind of grumpy old lady for my feelings about Facebook especially. I applaud your opinion that we need to return to a much more basic and personalbe lifestyle. Playing in the dirt vs computer generated games---no decision needed there!
By: Heather E. Nelson
On: 04/05/2012 23:23:29

One more thing. I believe that there are numerous travel insurance internet sites of reliable companies that allow you to enter holiday details to get you the quotations. You can also purchase the actual international travel cover policy online by using your own credit card. Everything you need to do is usually to enter your current travel particulars and you can see the plans side-by-side. Simply find the program that suits your financial allowance and needs after which it use your credit card to buy them. Travel insurance on the internet is a good way to begin looking for a dependable company with regard to international travel cover. Thanks for expressing your ideas. is my blog.

Cool!  Thanks so much for sharing, Heather!

By: Katrina Smith
On: 04/16/2012 13:09:41

I really enjoy reading ideas and suggestions from all your readers and what you have to say. Thank you! I just recently got a Apple4 iPhone and love all the new information about the 'free' apps available.

Yes, they never cease to amaze me! Thanks for writing.

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Cathi Belcher

Cathi Belcher,
an old-fashioned farmgirl with a pioneer spirit, lives in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. As a “lifelong learner” in the “Live-Free-or-Die” state, she fiercely values self-reliance, independence, freedom, and fresh mountain air. Married to her childhood sweetheart of 40+ years (a few of them “uphill climbs”), she’s had plenty of time to reinvent herself. From museum curator, restaurant owner, homeschool mom/conference speaker, to post-and-beam house builder and entrepreneur, she’s also a multi-media artist, with an obsession for off-grid living and alternative housing. Cathi owns and operates a 32-room mountain lodge. Her specialty has evolved to include “hermit hospitality” at her rustic cabin in the mountains, where she offers weekend workshops of special interest to women.

“Mountains speak to my soul, and farming is an important part of my heritage. I want to pass on my love of these things to others through my writing. Living in the mountains has its own particular challenges, but I delight in turning them into opportunities from which we can all learn and grow.”

Column content copyright © 2010– Cathi Belcher. All rights reserved.

Mountain Bounty

“Keep close to Nature’s heart ... and break clear away once in awhile to climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods, to wash your spirit clean.”
– John Muir