Saturday, October 30, 2010

Happy Halloween!

I can not believe that it is Halloween. When I was a kid, my sister and I watched the old horror movies which terrified us. (No, there was no blood or special effects which showed dismembered corpses!) You had to love Boris Karloff. The Frankenstein movies were scary, but the Mummy movies really played with our minds. I remember we would go to bed and hear THE MUMMY dragging his leg outside by our windows.

Gosh, Halloween has changed. I noticed on the TODAY show that Meridith dressed up as Lady Gaga.

Well, Natalie was Justin Bieber and Al came through with a Superman costume.

Ann dressed as Amelia Earhart.

Judy and I stopped in the Halloween store in Bridgeport and a plethora of expensive costumes were displayed. I do not appreciate the rubberized disemboweled corpses! YUK!

I am going to lean back in this chair and remember Trick or Treat of my past. Dressed in costumes made at home, we would venture from door to door with candy bags and a bar of soap! Does anyone know what a bar of soap has to do with Trick on Treat?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

80th Birthday

After last Saturday's Framers Market, we headed across the parking lot to the Gilmer County Senior Citizen's Center. Don Keble's family was holding a surprise birthday party for him. Well, sort of a surprise. Don tried to find wife, Sadie, and away Don went into the Senior Center.

The cane he is holding is one he carved.

Sadie welcomed the folks to Don's celebration.

All of Don's family cooked kielbasi and a plethora of other yummies. What a great spread of food!

Happy 80th, Don!

Fluffy Is Dead!

The longest snake living in captivity has died. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium said workers found the 24-foot python yesterday morning (10/27/10) dead from an apparent tumor.

The snake, named Fluffy, held the Guinness World Record as the longest snake living in captivity. It was about as long as a moving van and as thick as a telephone pole. It weighed 300 pounds.

The 18-year-old reticulated python had drawn large crowds since the zoo got it in 2007.

Reticulated pythons are named for the cross-hatching patterns on their skin and average 10 to 20 feet long. The largest recorded one was 32 feet, 9-1/2 inches long when it was killed in 1912 in Indonesia.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Once Again
Glenville's Farmers Market

These photos were taken on Saturday, October 23, 2010. Next Saturday will be the last of the fall Farmers Markets. We will have another on the first Saturday in December to sell Christmas trees, wreaths, and other items so you can get prepared for the Christmas season.

Let's see some of the variety that was available this day.

Sir Carl was there with his gourmet dogs.

Beside foods, it is the people who make this day.

Deb was there with her crafts and BBQ lamb.

Make it a point to attend next week's Farmers Market.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Andy Griffith (Sheriff Taylor) in Glenville?

What! There was a car of 1961 vintage in front of the Common Place Restaurant. Was this Andy Griffith's sheriff car from Mayberry? Yes, indeed, Barney Fife, Ernest T. Bass, and their entourage were eating supper at our local eating establishment. These folks were here to perform with The GSC Bluegrass Band headed by Professor Buddy Griffin. Here is the information on the show.

Doug Dillard (The banjo-playing Darling boy) performed on Tuesday evening, October 19, 2010 at the annual Glenville State College Bluegrass Masters Series concert! The concert was held at the Glenville State College Fine Arts Center Auditorium. In addition to the appearance of Dillard, an original cast member from the Andy Griffith TV show, David Browning from Bristol, VA, a nationally acclaimed stage and television actor portrayed Barney Fife as The Mayberry Deputy. Also returning to our Glenville State College stage was WV’s own Allan Morris as mountain man and general antagonist, Ernest T. Bass.

Featured entertainers for the evening included the Glenville State College Bluegrass Band in concert offering a collection of folk songs heard on the Andy Griffith Show including New River Train, Sourwood Mountain, Look Down That Lonesome Road and many others. Also on hand for the evening was the Glenville State College Mayberry Orchestra, the only official Mayberry themed orchestra in existence, playing some of that great Earle Hagen music which added class and distinction to an already great TV show.

Following a short intermission, Dillard participated in an oral history interview/question & answer session during which, audience members had the opportunity to submit questions. Following the interview, Dillard joined the GSC Bluegrass Band in the presentation of some of his well known banjo compositions from the Andy Griffith Show.

The evening was hosted by the Mayberry Deputy and interrupted on occasion by Ernest T. Bass.

Now back to Main Street. Oh no, Bruce Farmer had to inspect Barney's lone bullet!

Buddy Griffin and Ernest T. Bass were seen cuddling on Main Street!

Even a local law enforcement officer (Ben Huffman) was asked to examine Barney's ammunition.

Wife, Judy, was about to be arrested by Barney when I stepped in and offered Barney some of Aunt Bea's famous blueberry pies.

Ernest T. is watching an official presentation as were students of the GSC Bluegrass program. What was the official celebration you ask!

It was Glenville's Mayor, Tausha Allman, presenting Doug Dillard the keys to the city. (Keys also fit the jail!)

It was a great night of memories and wonderful bluegrass music! Thanks Buddy!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Self Medicating Monarchs

Monarch butterflies use medicinal plants to treat their offspring for disease, before they even hatch, a new study finds.

Monarch caterpillars feed on any of dozens of species of milkweed plants, including some species that contain high levels of a group of chemicals called cardenolides. These chemicals do not harm the caterpillars, but make them toxic to predators even after they emerge as adults from their chrysalises.

As caterpillars, the monarchs are susceptible to gut invasions by parasites, which persist when the caterpillars become adults. An infected female passes on the parasites when she lays her eggs.

"Several years ago we did experiments in which we reared monarch caterpillars on two different species of milkweed, and found that tropical milkweed reduced parasite infection, parasite growth and the disease suffered by the monarchs, " said Jaap de Roode, an evolutionary biologist at Emory University in Atlanta. "I then wondered if monarchs could take advantage of this, by preferentially using the tropical milkweed if they were infected."

De Roode and his fellow researchers created an experiment in which they raised monarchs and bred them in the lab. When new butterflies were born, some were infected with the parasites.

Then, they mated uninfected females with infected males, placing the females in a cage to lay their eggs. "The cage had both swamp milkweed and tropical milkweed, which is much more toxic than swamp. After the female laid their eggs, we counted them," De Roode said. "The infected females laid more of their eggs on the tropical milkweed, while the uninfected females showed no preference, which suggests that infected females were medicating their offspring."

As for the next step in the research, De Roode plans to work with a wider variety of milkweed and butterflies.

"We are studying monarchs from different areas of the world, where they encounter different species of milkweed, to investigate whether this medication is a general phenomenon," said De Roode. "For example, if there are other species in different parts of the world, can the monarchs distinguish between these as well and preferentially lay their eggs on medicinal species when they are infected?"

De Roode added, "You look at these creatures that we think are very simple, and they can do this fantastic thing. They look at nature as a medicine cabinet. Other organisms learn to do this from their parents, but monarchs don't learn self medication, they do it innately."

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Mom's Day at Rich Farms

Last week Sarah and her group of "Mommy Friends" headed for a fall celebration at Rich Farms in Smithfield, PA. The pumpkin patch experience is always fun for the kids.

Rich Farms is quite an entertainment center in addition to providing landscape services. Halloween is a scary time at the farm and the Christmas light display is great to observe. This day the kids hopped on the personal pumpkin transporter to take a ride to the pumpkin patch.

Nate had to try out his personalized Tonka truck before getting into the pumpkin activities.

What fun it is to play among those yellow orbs!

Nate looks seriously at this strange pumpkin. Don't think this would fit in the car!

Sam finally decided on the pumpkin that he wanted to take home. It may not be large, but we are certain it is a quality pumpkin!

Yep, fall is here. What a joy to see the excitement in the kid's faces!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Family Portrait

An assembly of French artist Elisabeth Daynes' reconstructions serves as a "family portrait" for living and extinct hominids. Two australopiths, nicknamed Lucy and Lucien, are in the foreground at right. A representation of the first Homo species to leave Africa raises a rock in the foreground at left. A Neanderthal family is in the far background, and Homo sapiens is represented by the bearded figure stretching out his left hand in the background at right.

French artist Elisabeth Daynes is known for her reconstructions of our long-dead cousins, ranging from Lucy the australopith to a Neanderthal family to the "real face of Tutankhamun, Egypt's boy-king. Now she's won the Lanzendorp PaleoArt Prize for bringing those age-old cousins to life through her sculptures.

The PaleoArt Prize, one of the top honors for artwork related to paleontology, was established in 1999 by art collector John J. Lanzendorf. This year's prize was awarded to Daynes at the annual meeting of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology in Pittsburgh. The artist was born in the south of France, began her career as a theater makeup artist and has been creating "hyper-realistic" reconstructions of ancient creatures for more than 20 years.

The photo above gathers many of Daynes' masterpieces together for a group portrait.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug

It has become common knowledge that most of the manufactured goods in our houses crossed the Pacific Ocean from our Asian trade partners. Americans have benefited from the cheaper production costs of Asian manufacturers, and we have even been given a free gift for our loyalty as consumers.

Unfortunately, the gift will not cure any economic woes being faced, but it is a gift most residents of the Shepherdstown area have received — brown marmorated stink bugs.

We visited our Shepherdstown family and were amazed at the enormous populations of these stink bugs.

In the car, in the attic, on the deck, there they are ... little shield-shaped insects clinging to everything in our world. The pest can’t be smashed or attacked, as it may perfume the surrounding air with its pungent odor. What a wonderfully efficient defense mechanism this creature has evolved.

Our room at the Clarion Hotel in Shepherdstown had little information cards that indicated that these beasts will likely be in your room and worry not - they are harmless unles you are a plant - THEN RUN!

Stink bugs are identified as an agricultural pest.

The pest now serves as a daily reminder to area residents of how much our life is based on imports. The first stink bugs were sighted in Allentown, PA., in 1998. Over the past 12 years, the odorous arthropod has reproduced uncontrollably, increasing its population especially in the eastern United States.

Their brethren still residing in their homeland of China have not enjoyed this reproductive opportunity, as the environment there is also home to their natural predators.

Scientists theorize the recent acceleration in stink bug populations could be due to an early spring season in the Mid-Atlantic. It’s an interesting theory given the fact we had two feet of snow on the ground in the beginning of March.

Stink bugs can live for years and are currently spending their autumn shopping for a cozy winter residence.

The crops of apples and peaches in the Eastern panhandle of WV have been seriously reduced by these critters. Judy and I wanted to bring home some boxes of local grown apples, but there were none to be found. Wonder how these stink bugs would taste if they were stir fried in a wok?

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Grandma Great and AMT

We had a great time this past Friday evening at the American Mountaineer Theater in Elkins. Grandma Great Meads needed an outing and though another visit to the AMT would be a treat. This show is so much fun. The musical skills of the cast are amazing.

Let me introduce some of the cast members. Below is Susie Heckel.

Without Susie Heckel, there would be no American Mountain Theater. In 2003, she had a God-given vision that wouldn’t let her rest until she saw the completion of the beautiful new theater! Susie is an Elkins native who began entertaining at the age of 2 while singing with her daddy at churches and radio stations in and around West Virginia.

Susie, a former RCA recording artist as a part of a group called The Heckels, was a regular featured artist on the Wheeling Jamboree and has also performed on the Grand Ole Opry. She is a creative part of our production team and does an outstanding job with our costuming. Her show-stopping voice are so touching!

Denny Franks is an outstanding keyboard artist.

A veteran performer of Branson, Missouri, Denny is a master musician and vocalist. He began his career very early as the staff keyboard player at the Wheeling Jamboree and then moved onto Nashville where he recorded for RCA Records with the trio group The Heckels. He was a member of the cast of the Ozark Mountain Hoe-Down in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, and the Pierce Arrow Theater in Branson, Missouri.

Denny has worked with some of the biggest names in the music business, such as Roy Clark and Wayne Newton. He now serves as American Mountain Theater’s musical director and has become an integral part of the magic that happens during each performance at AMT!

Mom is cuddling with Jeremiah Franks, youngest son of Denny.

Without a doubt, Jeremiah is the most refreshing, exciting, and energetic talent to hit any stage — anywhere, in years! He absolutely delights the audience from the word go with his seemingly unlimited spirit for entertaining!

Jeremiah is a native of Elkins, and he is an accomplished vocalist and musician with a bachelor’s degree in music from West Virginia Wesleyan College. From serious to hysterical, Jeremiah’s abilities are showcased during our comic impersonations, making him popular with all AMT audiences — young or old! At times, the stage hardly seems spacious enough to contain his kind of talent.

Another of Denny's sons is Joel Franks.

Joel is a third generation entertainer who learned to keep rhythm about the same time he learned to walk! As a born musician, there is no doubt Joel has mastered his craft. He is as talented in his field as any drummer on the stage today. In addition to his perfect tempo, Joel is also an excellent singer.

He has the unique ability to impersonate singers as diverse as Frank Sinatra to Louie Armstrong, making him an awesome addition to the cast at AMT. Joel has spent time performing on the Branson music scene and doing studio work for various artists. Joel and his family now make their home right here in Elkins, where he was born and raised.

Below is Grandma Great with Kenny and Beverly Sexton. Kenny does it all! He is the president, owner, and producer of the American Mountain Theater. His personality on the stage makes him as adorable as he is valuable. When he is offstage, he manages all facets of the business, utilizing his 30+ years of experience as a Certified Public Accountant and business entrepreneur.

He began entertaining as young as 6 years of age and isn’t about to slow down! Kenny perfected his talents while owning and producing the Ozark Mountain Hoe-Down music theater in Eureka Springs, Arkansas, and now brings his commanding talents to the stage of the American Mountain Theater.

A native of the mountains of West Virginia, Beverly started singing with her father and sister at the age of 9. She was a regular featured artist on the Wheeling Jamboree and then moved to Nashville where she became the third member of the RCA Recording group The Heckels.

She spent several years traveling out of Nashville with some of the most notable names in country music, such as Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty. Her career then took her to the music theater venues of the Ozark Mountain Hoe-Down, Lee Mace’s Ozark Opry, and the Carolina Opry in Myrtle Beach, where she learned much about show production.

Beverly adds her voice and writing talents specifically to the gospel music featured in the show. She has written over 150 gospel songs, several of which have been top 10 radio singles for other artists, one of which was featured on a Bill Gaither video.

Kenny and Beverly's two daughters are also in the show. The AMT's Christmas show starts the last of November and we plan on seeng this show.