Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Last of February, Elkins, and Toyger!

Oh where, oh where, did February go? This is the last day of the month. Look out Julius Caesar- the ides of March will be here soon! March is always a great month because it opens up the door for the spring flowers. Our aconites are blooming, but our annual stink lilies are really slow this year. See past posting regarding stink lilies (Amorphophallus).

Yesterday my good wife attended a quilting workshop in Elkins. It was held at her favorite sewing shop, The Elkins Sewing Center on Davis Avenue. ( I was a good husband and did my list of chores for the day – checked about the possibility of the Folk Festival paper being published by the good folks at the Elkins newspaper (Inter-Mountain), tried to locate our favorite gumbo mix (no luck).

While waiting for the wife, I stopped by one of my favorite coffee shops, Kissel Stop, located just a block from the Train Depot. I was sipping my cup of café americano and thinking of all the great experiences that I have had in this region. As we entered town, we passed an outcropping on the side of the road which has been the site of many field trips. This area is full of fine brachiopod fossils like the one pictured above. It was easy for students to find a great fossil in a short amount of time.

I thought also about Bowden Cave located just outside of town. What a great learning resource for our science students! This area is the source of many great adventures in my life.

My concentration was broken when I looked down at the table. There was a copy of the Life Weekend Magazine for February 23rd. On the cover was a wonderful picture of a Toyger. What is a Toyger you ask? I will answer that in tomorrow’s entry. Enjoy your last day of February 2007.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

The Ark?

Here is a cropped view of the photo posted on Tuesday. Clark Hall and the Administration Building are in the upper left with Firestone Lodge located in the middle right of the photograph. The home possessing a huge back porch and is at the bottom of the picture was, I believe, known as the Ark.

Would love to know more about this structure. If anyone has any information, would appreciate it if you would post a comment. Many thanks for your help.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

A GSC Snapshot Back In Time

For you folks who are familiar with the current facilities at Glenville State College, this photo taken probably in the 1930’s will be of interest to you. This photo was shared by a good friend and was in possession of William A. Rymer and Tim Marks. Please click on the photo to get a large format view of this neat photo.

As you can see that the Physical Education Building, Student Union, Science Building, Maintenance Building, Robert Kidd Library, or girl’s dormitory were not constructed at this time. (OK- I know- I am from the old school- the correct terminology these days would be women’s residence hall!)

On the top of the hill you can see Verona Maple Hall which was razed in January of 1979. Clark Hall is seen to the right and the Administration Building, with its famed clock tower, is directly in front of Clark Hall.

To the left of Verona Maple Hall is the familiar home of the President of Glenville State College. As we move down the street, you can see the college gymnasium. This gymnasium was also used by the high school which is the next building. Notice on the South side of the high school building there is a vertical structure which is a cylindrical fire escape. I remember schools that had these safety devices. Only problem was all I used to see they were always locked at the bottom of the fire escape slide!

As we walk on past the high school, the Arbuckle house with its tower is the last house in view. Across from the high school is Kanawha Hall which is now the site of the Robert Kidd library. Kanawha Hall was razed when I was student at Glenville State College. My wife and I were part of the train of students and faculty that moved the books from the old library in Clark Hall to the new Robert Kidd Library.

The good wife stayed in a small dorm facility called Firestone Lodge. It can be seen at the right of the Administration Building. It has garage type doors on the lower level which opened into the ceramics workshop.

To compare the photo with the current GSC landscape, click below for a map.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Have You Ever?

Last Saturday morning I was off to start the car. I noticed some frost that had formed on the windshield. Often, I have found that the small things in life are often the most precious. I took a moment to closely examine the ice crystals. How amazing!

Ice crystals are so temporal and delicate.
The structures reminded me of fern fronds that grow on the hillside. I went in and got the camera and took some close-up photos for you all to enjoy.

Have you ever stopped and looked closely at the frost before the slight elevation in temperature destroys these unique structures? Take some time out of your busy lives to stop and look closely at nature's wonders!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Fasnacht and Peanut Butter!

Well, last night was Fasnacht in Helvetia. We tried in January to get lodging at the Bee Keepers Inn but we were too late. All 3 rooms were booked. The Hutte called Friday and said that they had a cancellation, but alas we were unable to commit to the celebration this year. The reason is the wife is suffering from Salmonella poisoning as a result of what we believe to be contaminated peanut butter.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced Wednesday night (02/14/07)that jars of Peter Pan and Wal-Mart's Great Value brand peanut butter beginning with the product code "2111" on the lid of the jar could be contaminated with the strain Salmonella Tennessee. This variety of salmonella is so rare that the CDC normally sees only about 100 cases a year, says Robert Tauxe, chief of the CDC's Foodborne and Diarrheal Diseases Branch. It is believed to be the first salmonella outbreak associated with peanut butter in U.S. history, according to officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

So my wife, we think, is one of the chosen elite who is suffering from this strain of Salmonella poisoning. We definitely had plans of dancing the night away at Helvelia's Fasnacht celebration. Next year we will be there. We called today and reserved the Rose Room in the Bee Keeper's Inn one year in advance so we can be sure to experience this event next year! (PS- The Hutte just called and said that they had made a mistake and there are no rooms left even for NEXT YEAR! Yes, since TheBee Keeper's Inn has only 3 rooms so we are once again on the waiting list. Darn!)

By the way, it snowed last night. I am certain that Helvetia was amazing with a fresh coating of snow!

Let me explain what Fasnacht is in the great hamlet of Helvetia. On the other hand, I will quote from Dave Whipp’s website. He has a personal website, The Helvetia, WV News. You need to subscribe at:

Here is Dave’s description of Fasnacht.

Fasnacht is the pre-lenten burning of Old Man Winter. It occurs on the Saturday before Ash Wednesday and is likened to Mardi Gras. It has its roots in the Swiss Winterfest.

Saturday afternoon features food, beverages, and open mic music in the Star Band (Red) Hall, a buffet at the Hutte restaurant, mask making and other activities at Grandpa John's, and browsing in the local shops. At 8:00 p.m. a parade featuring large, often frightening, and quite artistic masks travels from the Red Hall to the Community Hall where the costumes are judged and the square dance begins. At midnight the efigy of Old Man Winter is cut down from the ceiling of the Community Hall, carried on the shoulders of the celebrants to the bonfire outside, and burned to signal the end of Winter.

The warming effect is not immediate and visitors should wear plenty of warm clothing so they can enjoy the outdoor activites.

A typical schedule is:
1:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. Open Mic, food, and beverages. Star Band (Red) Hall.
5:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m. Buffet - Greetings - Hutte Restaurant.
8:00 p.m. - 8:15 p.m. Lampion (candlelight) parade - Star Band Hall to Community Hall.
8:15 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. Judging costumes - Prizes - Community Hall.
9:00 p.m. - 12:00 p.m. Masked Ball - Community Hall.
12:00 a.m. - 1:00 a.m. Burning Old man Winter - outside Community Hall.
1:00 a.m. -2:00 a.m. Open mic and fun - Star Band Hall. At 2:00 a.m., the Red Hall will close to all but those who are sleeping there.

There are a number of

links to Fasnacht pages. It has been covered by local and national media.

Since we missed Fasnacht, we hope on March 17-18 to be next door at Pickens for the Maple Syrup Festival.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Shepherdstown Visit - Lucy

Yes, Lucy is our youngest grandkid. She was born last Thanksgiving week. She is sooooo good. Her smile is contagious.

She does like her bath. Here she is in her post bath wrappings. Notice the contemplating look on her face.

Grandma and Grandpa had some quality time with Lucy.

Aunt Sarah also had to get into the cuddling experience!

Friday, February 16, 2007

Shepherdstown Visit - Sam

Sam is now about 8 months old and growing like a new ramp pushing its way through the spring snow! He has started crawling and is learning new things each day. He always has coordinated outfits. I do not know what happened this day. Dad, do not look at his pink flowered hat. It is not a football helmet and may not match his Junior Football shirt.

Flora always wants a kiss. Sam supplies a "green bean" kiss to his cousin. Hope she appreciated this vegetarian smooch.

Yes, Sam is our only grandson. He is certainly a cutie!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Shepherdstown Visit - Flora

As we came into Shepherdstown on Thursday afternoon, we stopped by The National Conservation Training Center where Flora goes to school. This is a great school. It is by her school where the active eagle nest is located. Check out the eagle web cam at

As soon as Flora saw that Grandpa and Grandma were picking her up, she ran to us with her usual quality hugs. It is always a wonderful experience to hear her yell "GRANDPA!" and then run to us with her hugs.

Flora is showing us above some of the dance steps she has learned in school. She loves to help Grandma bake cakes. Here she is "helping" to prepare the bath tub for Lucy.

Flora is now 4 1/2 years old and loves to kiss her sister, Lucy, and Sam. Here is a "forced" kiss from Sam.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Little Heart Breakers

We have not been blogging lately because we have spent a week in Shepherdstown visiting our granddaughters. During the weekend Jeff, Sarah, and Sam came over so we had all three grandkids with us. Grandma was in heaven! She always says she loves to get "cheek kisses".

We see Sam here with Flora and Lucy. Sarah bought them matching pajamas. Sam's shirt says "Captain Heart Breaker" while the girls have "Little Heart Breaker" on their pjs. I will share the next few days photos of our weekend grandkid visit.

This is Valentine's Day! Have a happy one!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Finally Snow!

Yes, the cold came in yesterday. I got up in the morning and washed my hands. Hark! The silence overcame me. What was missing? The water was not on in the house. It was -2 degrees. I looked at the pond and it was frozen over. There goes the theory that the aerator will keep the pond open. Guess I will install my little pond heater. It has not been this cold since we established the pond environment.

I called the good folks at Glenville Utility and they were super. They had the water meter thawed, insulation installed, and water on within a ½ hour! Would we get this fast service in a big city? I think not!

It did snow a few inches last evening. Notice the pond above has a nice layer of fresh snow. The birds are really appreciating the sunflower seeds and suet. Look beyond the feeders. What is happening at our neighbors?

It is Marilyn cleaning the walks of the snow! Guess I will have to venture forth and do the same at our house.

PS- Just back from snow removal. After I posted this blog, I went outside with broom in hand. The Don and Marilyn fairies from next door had already cleaned the snow off our cars, porch, etc. Once again, would this happen in New York City?

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Winter Has Arrived In Gilmer!

We have had minimal snow in Glenville, but this week the artic temperatures have arrived. As you can see our koi pond is frozen over and the surface has only a hole that is kept clear of ice by the aerator. It is cold!

Karen Wynne, meteorologist at WCHS in Charleston, WV, has the specifics on the chilling forecast. I know my southern friends will enjoy this. They often complain when it gets too 40 degrees. I have seen folks with heavy jackets in Charleston, SC when the temperatures were in the 60’s.

“Monday should be one of the coldest days of the year, with flurries, gusty west winds and highs near 15 degrees. We'll feel the worst of the arctic air Monday night, with lows near 2 degrees in Charleston. Many outlying areas could go below zero. Tuesday will be slightly warmer, but still cold, with the dome of arctic high pressure still in place. Expect partly sunny skies, a few flurries, highs near 20 and lows near 9. Wednesday will be very similar to Tuesday. The arctic air begins to lose it's grip on Thursday, allowing us to warm up to 30 degrees. Our overnight low should be in the upper
teens. By next Sunday, we're going to begin to see a much warmer weather pattern, with highs near 40. With a southerly wind flow at the surface, and a ridge of high pressure higher up in the atmosphere, we could be back in the 50's early next week!”

Our koi and the albino catfish are safely staying at the bottom of the pond. They are in an inactive state resembling deep sleep. Fish are poikilothermic. That is a fancy is a fancy word for animals whose metabolism is controlled by the temperature of the surrounding water. The body temperature is lowered and breathing and heart rates slow down. This process protects the animal from cold and reduces the need for food during the season when food is scarce. I stop feeding the fish in November when the water starts cooling and will not resume feeding during the later part of March. It is important to not feed the fish if temperatures are below 50 degrees.

It is important to maintain an opening on top of the pond so that gas exchange can occur. Ammonia, Hydrogen sulfide, and methane are produced even in the cold winter months.