Tuesday, October 31, 2006


This photo was supplied by my Aunt Betty and Uncle Bob who live in Oregon. This sturgeon was caught on the Willamette River just below Oregon City. It weighed out at over 1,000 lbs and measured out at 11'1". It was 56" around the girth and took over 6 and ½ hours to land the critter.

Mom’s brothers and sister all live in the Pacific Northwest. My Uncle Dwight and Uncle Gary are both big fishermen. Golly, I have not been fishing once this year. I must change that next year.

This sturgeon reminds me of when I was teaching the Vertebrate Zoology course at GSC. Part of the course involved looking at the great variety of fishes that exist in the world. We had many buckets of fish specimens in buckets of formalin for observation and study. A couple of sturgeons graced our collection. How big of a bucket would it take to keep the specimen above?

Sturgeons are one of the oldest species of fish in existence. We do not have sturgeon living in West Virginia’s rivers. We do, however, have the paddlefish which is also another very ancient fish. The paddlefish is seen below. It is a strange looking beast!

Sturgeons and paddlefish are bottom feeders. With their projecting wedgeshaped snout they stir up the soft bottom, and by means of their sensitive barbels detect shells, crustaceans and small fish, on which they feed. Having no teeth, they are unable to seize larger prey.

Sturgeon (and, therefore also the caviar trade) are under severe threat from overfishing, poaching and water pollution.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Rooster Testicles!

I know this is not a very delicate title for today’s blog, but it is appropriate. As I have discussed a plethora of times, the good wife and I have wonderful stories that deal with our teaching, people we have met along life’s path, and the adventures we have shared together.

The above modified photo joggled my memory. Yes, it is time for another story. Relax and learn about capons!

When Judy and I were dating, Glenville State College operated a college farm on Mineral Road. Pigs, cattle, chickens, and produce were all located on the site where the Mineral Road Faculty Housing units now exist. The college obtained fresh milk, eggs, sausage, and other products from the operation of this facility. We also had an agricultural program at the time that was very popular with our rural students. Judy was so impressed when we would hold hands and I would use my Appalachian pig call to send a plethora of hogs running toward us. (She has always been impressed with my innate abilities.)

Mr. Burl Law was the person who headed the college farm and agricultural studies program at GSC. Burl was a fellow who knew everything there was to know about farming. He had a smoke shop at his house where he would annually cure thousands of salted hams. His house was located where I.L. Morris now has his offices in Glenville.

Burl related this story to me as we were teaching a Biology 101 lab together. One day on the farm he was busily transforming roosters into capons. A capon is a
rooster (a male chicken) whose testicles are removed at a young age. Typically the castration is performed when the chicken is between 6 and 20 weeks old.

The benefits are a non-aggressive male that can serve as a mother for baby chicks. They also produce ample, tender meat when butchered and as such are a choice poultry meat in some locales.

After the operation, Burl had a large pile of fresh rooster testicles. Not wanting to waste anything, he thought of mountain oysters that he had eaten as a kid. For you non-farming types, mountain oysters (also know as pairie oysters in the Midwest) are the testicles of an animal such as a calf, sheep or boar. Those from a younger animal are best. Though they're not terribly popular in the United States, testicles are considered a delicacy in Italy and France. They can be sautéed, deep-fried, braised and poached. Enough of this Julia Child type gourmet background. Now for the rest of the story.

Burl gathered up the pile of fresh avian testicles and proceeded to take them to the house. His wife was shopping in Weston so he thought this be the perfect time to fry up these gourmet morsels. Lightly dipping each gonad in a mixture of egg then with a dusting of flour, he started frying the huge pan of rooster testicles.

They were looking wonderful. The testicles were becoming a golden brown in the sizzling oil. TRAGEDY THEN STRUCK OUR COOK!

Burl had forgotten his basic physics lesson. What happens to a small circular object containing fluid and encapsulated in a strong membrane when high heat is applied? Yes, explosions! How was Burl to know that he should have sliced each testicle before frying? As the testicles became a golden brown, he was bombarded by exploding rooster gonads that were propelled from the frying pan. They landed on the cabinets, stove surface, refrigerator, and even the ceiling!

His wife returned from Weston while Burl was still trying to get the last of the rooster testicles off the ceiling. “Why in the world are you cleaning the ceiling?” Burl looked lovingly at her and said, “Nellie, you would not believe me if I told you.”

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

A Walk To The Depot!

Returning from Snowshoe on Saturday, the good wife had to visit her shrine. The religious experience that I am referring to is the Elkins Sewing Center. When you are a true quilter, it is always a wonderful venture to stop and see the new fabrics and learn new quilting techniques. Judy does love to sew.

I, on the other hand, walked up the street to the Elkins Depot Welcome Center. Located in the heart of downtown Elkins, the welcome center is in the historic Western Maryland Depot which was built in 1908 and completely refurbished in the mid-1990's. The folks have a small museum and a gift shop. It is certainly worth checking out.

I also noticed that the trees were planted in memory of a GSC student. His father owns an insurance company across the street. During the renovations of the depot, Mr. Bialek paid for the plantings in memory of his son who was killed in an automobile accident.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Ice on Snowshoe Mountain

As mentioned in the last posting, the weather cleared on Saturday. The fog was gone by morning and a cold wind created some of nature’s wonderful ice sculptures. Here are a few examples of the beauty of ice and flora.

As we checked out from the reservation office which is called The Top of The World, we took some time to enjoy the vistas that Snowshoe Mountain has to offer.

As you can see that the leaves have fallen. The fall leaf color show has been gone for several weeks. The Mountain Ash berries are however still gracing the landscape. These berries are found in the highest of locations. We were always amazed at these plants when we would visit Dolly Sods in the fall. The bright colors of the berries are so wonderful to behold. What great sights nature provides!

Monday, October 23, 2006

WVSTA at Snowshoe

We had the great opportunity from Wednesday through Saturday of last week to renew friendships with West Virginia science teachers during the West Virginia Science Teachers Association conference held at the amazing Snowshoe resort. It is always such a joy to see our science friends once again. Many of the WV science teachers we have worked with for almost 40 years. If you would like more information concerning WVSTA, please click on the link: http://www.wvsta.org/

On Wednesday, we arrived at Rimfire Lodge Condos which are located at the center of the Snowshoe Village. I was impressed that Rimfire Lodge had its own entrance into Starbuck’s Coffee shop. I am indeed a coffee lover!

The weather was neat. It was clear and very comfortable on the mountain on Wednesday and Thursday. During Friday we were presented with a cold front moving through bringing thick fog all day. (Well, at this height, we are definitely in the clouds!) Saturday was clear again with marvelous views in all directions. As I am writing this, it is snowing on Snowshoe Mountain and they expect at least three inches by tomorrow.

I need to show you quality fog. Below is a photo of Highland House taken from our studio room on Thursday.

Here, my friends, is the same lodging facility on Friday.

Here are a few photos of the Village at Snowshoe. It is a neat area. You will notice the absence of many people. The actual winter season at Snowshoe does not begin until November 22nd.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Parting Shots of the Black Walnut Festival

This is the last posting on this year’s festival. Notice that the photo above shows a real carnival in Spencer. You folks will probably remember my blog that was posted in June when the carnival arrived in our hamlet of Glenville. It was really a poor showing for a carnival. You will notice these folks actually have a merry-go-round and a Ferris wheel!

The agricultural exhibits were held in the community building at Heritage Park. The 4-H and FFA projects and flower show were located here this year.

Mom and Louise manned the St. Johns Methodist Church's booth and they sold goodies such as cookies, cakes, candy, and pies.

Here is sister Judy and granddaughter Rachel.

Here are a few other photos taken around Spencer on Friday.

Wait! I have to show you the Eastern Star booth at the National Guard Armory. The armory was the location of the crafts, art show, and quilt show. Yes, there is Judy and Bill selling their wares. Knives, cookbooks, and baked goodies were available for sale. Bill indicated that the rum cake ($11) was wonderful, but one should not drive after eating a piece!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Mom and the School House

Mom worked Friday morning with one of her best friends, Louise Garrett. They conducted tours of the 1920’s one room school house that has been restored on the site of Heritage Park in Spencer. Heritage Park is an area in downtown Spencer that not only has the restored school but also an early 1900's oil derrick, depot museum and B&O caboose.

Mom is active in the Roane County Retired Teachers Association and they were instrumental in establishing the old Newburn on the Heritage Park site in the 1980’s. During that period, Mom was scouring the state for old desks and other period pieces for the school.

Here is Mom and sister Judy.

Judy retired this year after thirty two years of teaching kindergarten and first grade at Spencer Primary. She got all the usual questions from her many friends during the festival. “How is retirement?” “Do you miss teaching?” These are just a few of the same old questions the non-retired folks ask! They do not realize how wonderful retirement is and how blessed we are to be able to enter this phase of our lives. I always say that you know that you are retired is when you can go to the beach in the fall. Sister Judy and brother-in-law Bill were sitting on their porch last week, when Judy heard a large truck. “What is that?” Bill looked at Judy and said- “A SCHOOL BUS!” How soon we forget!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Kids Day Parade

It is fall and the first frost of the season was on Thursday night. Thursday evening was spent with Mom Meads in Spencer. This weekend is the 52nd Annual Black Walnut Festival in Spencer. We spent all day yesterday with Mom and attended many of the activities that the festival has to provide. We arrived home yesterday evening with memories of a fun day with family.

Today is the Grand Parade with floats, bands, and horses. This is one of two parades that the festival has to offer. The Grand Parade is not our favorite parade. We always enjoy the Kids Day Parade which was held yesterday at noon. The Kids Day Parade is an event for children of all ages and has become the largest kid’s parade in the state. They have several categories of participants- walkers, pull wagons, small motorized vehicles, prettiest pets, etc. It is great to see the excitement on the faces of the kids.

Here are some of the participants.

Judy and I loved this entry below. A medieval castle rolled down the street complete with knights in shinning armor. While other entries threw great quantities of candy at the crowd, these knights worked like mad launching their candy on their homemade catapults!

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Flora’s House Tour

On Sunday our granddaughter Flora was so excited to show us the progress on the new house that Rachael and John are having built. “Come on Grandpa. I’ll show you the house!”

Flora led the way. We went through the basement and up the steps. Flora said, “Grandpa, here is the kitchen. “

Flora went through each room explaining what is happening in each area. The living room is on the front of the house and the doors will lead out onto a covered deck.

On the first floor are also the dining area, pantry, and a bathroom.

Flora then said, “Now Grandpa, we have to climb the stairs to see my room.” Up she went like a robin after a worm. She was so proud to show us her bedroom! What fun!

In addition to Flora’s room, Mom and Dad’s bedroom, a guest bedroom, two bathrooms, and a laundry room with linen closet are found on this level. When Flora showed me the toilet, she said “Grandpa, this does not work yet”. She flushed it and it worked! “Grandpa, that really cracks me up!” Off she went to spread the news to Grandma.

As we looked out Flora’s bedroom windows, there was Mark Johnson mowing grass. He and his wife Kate live next door. They are former students and friends from Glenville.

Neighbors on the opposite side also stopped for a visit. Scooter and Kelly have recently remodeled their house. This photo shows Kelly with their pet canine. I know that this is a strange looking DUDE!

John and Rachael rested while Flora went off to play with the kids on the street. Flora’s energy is amazing!