Friday, March 30, 2007

There's a Snake In The .......

No, there is not a snake in the grass but actually in the mulch! I am a mulching fool in the spring. I looked down and here, enjoying my new layer of cypress, was a garter snake. You know I especially have an affection for reptiles and amphibians. This critter watched me closely. I left to get the camera and he stayed in order that I could have this photo opportunity for you all. (Sure, I am certain that snake knew he was waiting for the camera to be retrieved.)

Garters rely primarily upon sight when hunting, "hearing" (sensing ground vibrations), taste and smell, the latter two combined in use with the Jacobson's organ located in the in roof of the mouth. They are quite agile, a trait which also enables them to successfully capture prey. They encounter their prey while moving through their territory during the cooler parts of the day--early morning, late afternoon and early evening.

This garter snake exhibited his beautiful tongue, which is bright red with a tip of black. He is smelling the fresh ginger that is emerging through the mulch layer.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Dr. Chris Kennedy's Award Presentation

The Meads family periodically gives awards to those special folks who have made a difference in our lives. Chris Kennedy was a student of ours and graduated with our eldest daughter, Rachael.

This ceremony and dinner was held yesterday evening at Oliverio's Restaurant in Bridgeport. After a fine meal of pasta, it was time for the ceremony. First, Chris was given the honor of becoming a member of the Order of the Golden Baculum. You will notice the excitement and thrill on his face!

The second part of the award was the presentation of the sacred rock crawler (Grylloblattodae). This symbol is highly cherished by all for it's rarity. The living critter can be found only in cold climates and frequently at the edge of glaciers. Chris was thrilled to have this treasure now in his possession.

The festivites included dinner with Jeff, Sarah, and SAM!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Siberian Squill

How wonderful it has been these past few days! Very warm days have attributed to the fast blooming of the spring flowers. We have a few clumps of Siberian Squill, which is one of the blue flowers in the garden. It seems as if the blue color is a rare hue in the flower garden. Despite the name, it is not from Siberia, but from other areas of Russia and Eurasia. It is a very tough plant, however, growing in USDA zones 2 to 8. It has been cultivated since 1796.

This blue is a really great color. I love the website that says "Plant Siberian squill in masses and loose drifts for best effect. Some experts recommend "never plant fewer than 100 bulbs." Well, I would love to but the cost of 100 bulbs is the reason that I only have two little clumps.

I have been spreading cypress mulch over the gardens. When you purchase the mulch from the local hardware, it seems that my children's inheritance is dwilling fast. (chuckle) I know I have over the years funded a new delivery truck for Hardman's Hardware!

Saturday, March 24, 2007


What a great spring day! The warm temperatures and rain have provided the key for the blooming of the daffodils in our gardens. I love these little minature daffodils above. Daffodils make me happy. With their blooms and the calls of the Spring Peepers, it is a great time in West Virginia.

It is always amazing to get a close look of nature's wonders.

I have been mulching the flowers. I looked down to see several great sights. Below you can see the shoots of twinleaf emerging from its winter sleep. The twinleaf is rare in our woods these days.

OK- I know know that spring is here. Look! The bloodroot is blooming. Gee, what a great time of year.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Little Stinky

I know you guys thought that I had exterminated the population of stink lilies! For some reason, the bulbs were smaller last year and the little devils are not approching the six foot high size this spring. May I say that the foul order is still as potent! Notice the size of the stink lily (Amorphophallus konjac) photo on the January 29, 2006 blog entry. They are also blooming much later this year.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

West Virginia Maple Syrup Festival

Part Two

After the fine lunch, we walked down to the Pickens Train Depot. The depot was full of crafts and we were kept warm by the high tech pot-bellied stove.

Here is Judy with the wooden crafts of Jim Bailey. He had reasonable prices and everything from pie safes, children’s desks, kaleidoscopes, and even civil war lanterns.

Many buildings in Pickens contained crafters. In the Fire Hall we enjoyed watching Sandy with her intricate glass etchings.

While Judy was taking her time with the crafts, I found the kettle corn. Yummy!

We were looking at the basket weaving in one of the craft buildings when I heard the rhyming words of Bertie Jane Cutlip. Gosh, it sounded like the recitations of our friend Bea Brown. A sign proclaimed her as The Applebutter Jelly Pepperrelish Poetry Woman. Bertie is so named because of the things she sells. In addition to her homemade canned goods, she also has four books of poetry and is happy to share a few verses with shoppers who walk past her table.

Until I watched these kids, I had forgot how fun a snow fort can be!

We left Pickens around 4 P.M. and were certainly happy that we made the effort to travel this day. Life is a series of adventures. When one is retired, these impromptu adventures can become more frequent. Judy always says that we are off to another “mini-vacation”. May you all have many “minis” in your lives!

Monday, March 19, 2007

West Virginia Maple Syrup Festival

Part One

Yesterday, we awoke to sunny skies and temperatures in the twenties, a beautiful day to go to the WV Maple Syrup Festival in Pickens, located in remote Randolph County near Helvetia.

On the way, we stopped to take a photo of the Little Kanawha River at Falls Mill. Our dear friend Bea Brown was born in Falls Mill and told many stories of growing up there. She is buried on a hill almost directly across from the overlook of Falls Mill.

The narrow ridge-top road gave us a view of the snow covered vista. We traveled through a tunnel of sparkling icy limbs. Then the wind stirred up, and snow fell through the sunshine in beautiful sparkling whirls of powdered sugar.

The little town of Pickens was buzzing with visitors. Snow is still 3 to 4 inches in depth. Judy and I were hungry so we headed directly to the Legion Hall for the Pancake Dinner.

I can not adequately explain how great the Pancake Dinner was with its famous maple syrup. Here the official pancake greeter is posing with my lovely wife.

These had to be the best buckwheat pancakes ever. Regular buttermilk pancakes were also served. Judy and I loved to watch the Picken’s young folks who were refilling everyone’s plates. I have never eaten so many pancakes - the sausage was tremendous!

Here are a couple of Picken’s kids enjoying the winter goodies on the porch of the Legion Hall.

Tomorrow we will provide you folks with a look around the festival.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

My Wife Kissed A Leprechaun!

Well, yesterday we celebrated St. Patrick Day by going to Ireland, WV, and experiencing the Irish Spring Festival. We arrived during late morning. I was just a little sad because we just missed the performance of Bum the Wonder Horse! Bum the Wonder Horse, who has traveled more than 40,000 miles and performs 150 tricks, is always a hit at nursing homes and fairs.

After parking in front of a long white building located up from the community center, we gathered our winter coats, camera, and headed down the road. (Note: The long building where we parked was, according to a local fellow, the funeral home. We thought it was interesting that there were no signs on the structure indicating this was a funeral business. Guess in Ireland, they want to keep their dead a private affair!) It was 29 degrees and snowing. Yes, I felt another one of life’s adventures was near at hand.

As we walked to the festival center, a leprechaun came walking toward us. What a great outfit! This man was dressed in green with all the trappings of a leprechaun including a hat, real beard, and realistic pointed ears. Here was a photo opportunity in the making! I asked the leprechaun if I may take a photo of him and my wife. He was kind and said “Most certainly!” Then tragedy struck!

As I started snapping the picture, a message appeared on my digital camera’s screen. “Memory Card Not Installed” – I had taken out the card to download photos onto my computer and had not returned the memory card to the camera. So I am sorry, my blog friends, I have no photos of the leprechaun nor the festivities. After a kiss on his cheek by the good wife, the leprechaun quickly disappeared.

We entered the small community center and talked with some friends. Then an announcement was made that everyone had to evacuate the building! I wondered why everyone had to go out in the cold. I doubt there were terrorists near, nor impending attacks from deadly Irish vultures. The reason- all had to go to the road to watch the parade! The parade (actually billed as The Greenery Stroll) consisted of decorated four wheelers, wagons with kids dressed in Irish costumes, and even a few guys in improvised kilts. (Well, they were plaid skirts- close enough in Ireland, WV)

After the parade we headed back to the community center and feasted on hot dogs, a cinnamon roll, and coffee. We took some time to view the crafts. Here was our friend Julia Bragg, who is a retired Lewis County high school biology teacher, at her spinning wheel. She is a lovely person.

As we walked back to the car, we noticed a crowd in front of the post office. They were registering for the road bowling tournament! For you who know nothing of the fine sport of road bowling, let me quote from the Irish festival website.

The basic premise is the same as golf's. Get the 28oz cannonball from point A to point B in the fewest number of attempts. Our course is 2 miles from Ireland to Duffy and the Snake Chase map would include this course. It is not as easy as it sounds however. When the ball chooses to take a bad bounce and go off the road, it still must be retrieved. Retrieval is hazardous since there is a cold flowing stream adjacent to a portion of the course, soft ditches where one can easily sink to the knees are all along the route. But the most dreaded difficulty along the course is a very soft and juicy barn lot whose mud contains a toxic percentage level of bovine excrement while guarded by a 1500 pound black angus bull. You don't have to be a he-man to be good either One of our best bowlers was a 90 pound-soaking-wet sophomore, Becky Posey. Our Road Bowling was probably the first in the U.S. and was aired on The Outdoor Life Cable Channel in 1996. This program is often replayed in the spring as a novel broadcast.

We missed the Harp concert, snake chase, and other exciting events. Did I mention that we missed Bum the Wonder Horse?

Saturday, March 17, 2007


Saturday, March 10, 2007

Sam, Banana, and Car!

Technology in child raising is constantly evolving. Here is Sam with his Banana Mesh Bag. Instead of worrying about choking on bananas, Sam has a banana placed inside of this blue mesh bag and he is able to work the fruit through the openings in the mesh. After some time working the banana through the mesh, the banana does not look too yummy. Sam does not seem to mind.

Gotta love that hair! I call him my little Van de Graff. Only when I was teaching - when we placed students on the static generator, the Van de Graff - have I seen such fine hair raising.

Sam is now pulling himself up and crawling. Walking is just a moment away. Oh Sam, what is your mode of transport? Aw, your blue sports car is ready to go.

Sam's Dad (Jeff) also has a new toy. It's not blue, but is it a really super vehicle.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Hurray! Spring is Here!

After a few weeks of cold weather, we are now in a period of sun and warmth. Look what was blooming in the side garden! How exciting to see the spring flowers starting to poke their heads from the warming soil. These snow drops are great.

I checked to see if the Dutchman's Breeches or the Bloodroot are blooming. Answer is "Not Yet", but the ginger leaves are now greening up and emerging. I did find the buds below of the Heleboro (Lenten Rose) and we should see the blooms in a few days. How exciting!

Monday, March 05, 2007

Sam and Grandma!

Sam is now nine months old and his 4 front teeth have appeared. He is now been able to stand and will take off and start walking soon. Sarah and Jeff have started Sam in Kindermusik classes and the family goes each week. Sam has also begun the Kindermusik Sing and Sign class. The Sign and Sing class is a new curriculum for families of children ages 6 months-3 years that offers parents and caregivers techniques for communicating with children through American Sign Language (ASL) signs and singing.

Sam loved to touch Grandma's faux fur vest. We stayed Friday night at Sam's house with Grandma Great Meads. His new trick is that he now has learned to kiss. Well, it is an open mouthed smack. Still wonderful!

It is cuddle time!

Thursday, March 01, 2007


Yesterday I left you folks with a mystery concerning Toygers. Toygers are a striped breed of domestic cat. The Toyger cat is descended from Bengal cat stock crossed with domestic cats. The aim was to cross these cats to produce a striped 'toy tiger.' The Toyger was founded by Judy Sugden of "EEYAAS Cattery" in the USA.

The Toyger is a breed in development. Recognized by TICA for Registration Only in the early 1990's and Preliminary New Breed in 2000. Several of the features proposed have never before been recognized as possible in a domestic cat. Progress is slow but steady in all areas from companionability to appearance.

I love this on-line description of the felines. It is directed so at your favorite yuppie!

Toygers are designed and bred with the demands of modern apartment life as a human companion foremost in mind. Glittered, pelted, dramatic pattern appeals to both the high-tech glamour and nature-loving, wild dreams of city-caught people while the laid back, easily trained character of these cats make them a joy to live with.

OK, the Toyger is a designer cat. It is designed and bred with the demands of modern apartment life as a human companion foremost in mind.

I am working on breeding hamsters that have spots, a very long neck, and will graze on apartment flora. I will call them giraffsters. Instead of tiger miniatures, I believe a giraffster that can easily live in an apartment, graze on the African violets and cuddle with you on the savannah will surely become a blooming business!