Thursday, October 27, 2011

See ya in November

Yep, we will not be adding any blog posts until the first of November in order that we can share with you Miss Flora's birthday bash. She was born on Halloween. You folks enjoy the holiday!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Ruby Crowned Kinglet

On Monday I was doing some last of the year yard cleanup when I noticed this little bird lying on the porch. He had obviously was killed when he hit the window glass.

The petite Kinglets are among the smallest of our native birds. The Ruby-crowned Kinglet and the Golden-crowned Kinglet are the only two species that occur in North America, and they are common in all but the coldest regions of North America.

Ruby-Crowned Kinglet breeds from Alaska east across Canada to Newfoundland, south California and New Mexico, and to the Great Lakes region and northern New England in the east. Spends winters south from southern British Columbia and California across the southern tier of states to southern New England. Preferred habitats include coniferous and deciduous forests. This guy was most likely migrating through the area.

ale Ruby-crowned Kinglets have bright red crests (that can vary in color to orange), which can be raised when the bird is excited but which are more often completely hidden. Females look like males but lack the red crest.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Eastern Star

Sister Judy and brother-in-law Bill stopped by on Saturday. They were on the way to an Eastern Star meeting in Elkins. You will notice that the Eastern Star folks seem to always dress up in their prom finery.

Judy provides entertainment at the meetings by taking an assortment of puppets. She had this day a new squirrel puppet that she purchased in the Ohio Amish country at Lehman's Hardware in Kidron, Ohio.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Farmers Market

Yep, the growing season is quickly coming to an end. Next week is the last Saturday for the market in Glenville.

Debbie was setup working on her felting art and selling her famous jams and jellies.

She was crafting a fely pig for a lady in Elkins.

Terry had her homemade goodies. This lady is a fine baker!

Pat and Dan Johnson were with Mary Lee McPherson. One of the greatest things about this market venture is seeing friends.

Gosh, the temperature was in the 40's and before long we will be singing Christmas carols!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Fine Evening

Last Thursday we had a great meal with old friends. Rick Sypolt, Alice Sypolt and Willa Grafton are in the back row. Judy, Jim, Seva Hickman, Joe Hickman, and Ed Grafton are in the front row. The Graftons live in Braxton County. Ed was long time chairman of the GSC Forestry Department. Willa was one of my students who excelled in all classes she took. Rick and Alice are long time friends and live in Glenville. Rick is still teaching in the GSC Forestry Department and is the second oldest tenured person at GSC. Joe Hickman is retired from the college (GSC and New River) and live in Summersville. The Hickmans have been exceptional friends and we share a plethora of life stories. Seva worked in the Food Service at GSC and have known her since I was a kid living in Grantsville.

We met at PJ Berry's in Sutton. It was a wonderful evening!

Friday, October 21, 2011


As I mentioned yesterday the beautiful colors of fall are quickly dwindling. Our porch is decorated with the trappings of the season.

You have to love the knucklehead pumpkin!

Fruits and berries are plentiful at this time. Our pyracantha is producing those wonderful orange berries. The dense thorny structure of pyracantha makes them particularly valued in situations where an impenetrable barrier is required. The aesthetic characteristics of pyracantha plants, in conjunction with their home security qualities, makes them a considerable alternative to artificial fences and walls. They are also a good shrub for a wildlife garden, providing dense cover for roosting and nesting birds, summer flowers for bees and an abundance of berries as a food source. Pyracantha berries are not poisonous as commonly thought; although they are very bitter, they are edible when cooked and are sometimes made into jelly.

Enjoy nature's bounties while they last.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Oh, Hail!

Last Thursday afternoon we had a neat rain storm. The storm brought heavy rain plus quarter sized hail.

Thought I would share with you all this frozen delight.

The wind and rain forced many leaves from their perch. Ah, winter can not be far away.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


In this world of Photoshop and online scams, it pays to have a hearty dose of skepticism at reports of something strange — including an albino fetal shark with one eye smack in the middle of its nose like a Cyclops.

But the Cyclops shark, sliced from the belly of a pregnant mama dusky shark caught by a commercial fisherman in the Gulf of California earlier this summer, is by all reports the real thing. Shark researchers have examined the preserved creature and found that its single eye is made of functional optical tissue, they said last week. It's unlikely, however, that the malformed creature would have survived outside the womb.

"This is extremely rare," shark expert Felipe Galvan Magana of Mexico's Centro Interdisciplinario de Ciencias del Mar told the Pisces Fleet Sportfishing blog in July. "As far as I know, less than 50 examples of an abnormality like this have been recorded.

Monday, October 17, 2011


As I arrived on Main Street, people were milling around waiting for the start of the parade. The vendors were busy selling food to the Black Walnuteers!

The Gideons were out on every corner distributing free copies of the New Testament. The fellow below was parading through the crowd with his 'Jesus or Hell" sign.

The parade started at noon and it was only 11:15 when the picture below was taken. The rental chairs were starting to fill up. I decided not to wait for the parade, but walk back to Mom's house.

As I turned the corner, I saw two special friends on the stage playing old time music.

Lester McCumbers and Kim Johnson are always a pleasure to talk with and to experience their many tunes that have been carried down through the ages. Lester has won many awards and is a recipient of the Vandalia Award.

Last views of the Festival in tomorrow's post.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Armory

We took Grandma Great to the Spencer National Guard Armory to view the crafts. Outside the building, folks had setup a flea market and the crafts displays were located inside. We were not impressed with the quality of the crafts.

Brother-in-law Bill was busy at the Eastern Star table selling knives and home baked yummies.

Judy found us an easy target and we left with a black walnut pie, a pecan pie, and a raisin pie.

The pies were all homemade by the Spencer Eastern Star. They made around 300 pies. All but 10 were sold by the end of the Festival.

The Spencer armory will be closing in September when the Spencer units move into a larger consolidated facility near Ripley. Rumor is that the National Guard has sold the building to the city of Spencer for one dollar.

I love people watching and the Black Walnut Festival did not disappoint.

Black Walnut Festival 2011

We traveled to Spencer on Friday to celebrate the Festival with the Meads and Greenleaf families. On Saturday morning, sister Judy was getting ready to ride on the Grand Parade Marshall's float. The folks honored on this float were all the retired Roane County teachers.

By 10 A.M. the floats were undergoing final preparations for the Grand Parade at noon.

I decided that the traffic was so terrific that I would walk to town. The boulevard was packed with folks who had parked their vehicles 24 hours earlier in order they would have a prime location to view the parade activities. Folks bring their lawn chairs, grills, and coolers. Reminds me of a Black Walnut tailgate!

The walk to Main Street was a little chore for this arthritic. I tried hitch hiking these critter, but to no avail.

When I arrived on Main Street, I saw some old friends. Tomorrow you will learn their identity.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Yesterday was the celebration of Columbus Day (which really be tomorrow - thanks to the government's decision of celebrating the day on a Monday!) A few points from our friends at MSNBC.

So much of what we say about Columbus is either wholly untrue or greatly exaggerated.

Here are a few of the top offenders.

1. Columbus set out to prove the world was round.

If he did, he was about 2,000 years too late Ancient Greek mathematicians had already proven that the earth was round, not flat.

Pythagoras in the sixth century B.C. was one of the originators of the idea. Aristotle in the fourth century B.C. provided the physical evidence, such as the shadow of the Earth on the moon and the curvature of the Earth known by all sailors approaching land. And by the third century B.C., Eratosthenes determined our planet's shape and circumference using basic geometry. In the second century, Claudius Ptolemy wrote the "Almagest," the mathematical and astronomical treatise on planetary shapes and motions, describing the spherical Earth. This text was well known throughout educated Europe in Columbus' time.

Columbus, a self-taught man, greatly underestimated Earth's circumference. He also thought Europe was wider than it actually was and that Japan was farther from the coast of China than it really was. For these reasons, he figured he could reach Asia by going west, a concept that most of educated Europe at the time thought was daft — not because the earth was flat, but because Columbus' math was so wrong. Columbus, in effect, got lucky by bumping into land that, of course, wasn't Asia.

The Columbus flat-earth myth perhaps originated with Washington Irving's 1828 biography of Columbus; there's no mention of this before that. His crew wasn't nervous about falling off the earth.

2. Columbus discovered America.

Yes, let's ignore the fact that millions of humans already inhabited this land later to be called the Americas, having discovered it millennia before. And let's ignore that whole Leif Ericson voyage to Greenland and modern-day Canada around the year 1000. If Columbus discovered America, he himself didn't know. Until his death he claimed to have landed in Asia, even though most navigators knew he didn't.

What Columbus came across was the archipelago of the Bahamas and then the island later named Hispaniola, now split into Haiti and the Dominican Republic. On his subsequent voyages he went farther south, to Central and South America. He never got close to what is now called the United States.

So why does the United States celebrate the guy who thought he found a nifty new route to Asia and the lands described by Marco Polo? This is because the early United States was fighting with England, not Spain. John Cabot (a.k.a. Giovanni Cabot, another Italian) "discovered" Newfoundland in England's name around 1497 and paved the way for England's colonization of most of North America. So the American colonialists instead turned to Columbus as their hero, not England's Cabot. Hence we have the capital, Washington, D.C. — that's District of Columbia, not District of Cabot.

3. Columbus introduced syphilis to Europe.

This is hotly debated. Syphilis was present in pre-Columbus America. Yet syphilis probably existed for millennia in Europe as well, but simply wasn't well understood. The ancient Greeks describe lesions rather similar to that from syphilis. Perhaps by coincidence, an outbreak of syphilis occurred in Naples in 1494 during a French invasion, just two years after Columbus' return. This sealed the connection.

But aside from descriptions of syphilis-like lesions by Hippocrates, many researchers believe that there was a syphilis outbreak in, of all places, a 13th-century Augustinian friary in the English port of Kingston upon Hull. This coastal city saw a continual influx of sailors from distant lands, and you know what sailors can do. Carbon dating and DNA analysis of bones from the friary support the theory of syphilis being a worldwide disease before Columbus' voyages.

4. Columbus died unknown in poverty.

Columbus wasn't a rich man when he died in Spain at age 54 in 1506. But he wasn't impoverished. He was living comfortably, economically speaking, in an apartment in Valladolid, Crown of Castile, in present-day Spain, albeit in pain from severe arthritis. Columbus had been arrested years prior on accusations of tyranny and brutality toward native peoples of the Americas. But he was released by King Ferdinand after six weeks in prison. He was subsequently denied most of the profits of his discoveries promised to him by Ferdinand and Queen Isabella.

After his death, though, his family sued the royal crown, a famous lawsuit known as the Pleitos colombinos, or Columbian lawsuits, lasting nearly 20 years. Columbus' heirs ultimately secured significant amounts of property and other riches from the crown. Also, most European navigators understood by the end of the 15th century, before his death, that Columbus had discovered islands and a large land mass unknown to them.

5. Columbus did nothing significant.

With all this talk of a hapless Columbus accidentally "discovering" the New World, as well as the subsequent genocide of native cultures, it is easy to understand the current backlash against Columbus and the national holiday called Columbus Day, celebrated throughout North and South America. This isn't entirely fair.

While Columbus was wrong about most things, he did help establish knowledge about trade winds, namely the lower-latitude easterlies that blow toward the Caribbean and the higher-latitude westerlies that can blow a ship back to Western Europe. Also, while Columbus wasn't the first European to reach the Western Hemisphere, he was the first European to stay. His voyages directly initiated a permanent presence of Europeans in both North and South America.

News of the success of his first voyage spread like wildfire through Europe, setting the stage for an era of European conquest. One can argue whether the conquest was good or bad for humanity: that is, the spread of Christianity, rise of modernism, exploitation and annihilation of native cultures, and so on. But it is difficult to deny Columbus' direct role in quickly and radically changing the world.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Bird Whisperer

Judy, the bird whisper, did it again yesterday. The young morning dove was feeding in the porch cage, but forgot how to exit the cage. Judy had to extract the beast.

The morning dove is one of the most abundant and widespread of all North American birds. It is also the leading gamebird, with more than 20 million birds (up to 70 million in some years) shot annually in the U.S., both for sport and for meat. Its ability to sustain its population under such pressure stems from its prolific breeding: in warm areas, one pair may raise up to six broods a year. Its plaintive woo-OO-oo-oo-oo call gives the bird its name. The wings can make an unusual whistling sound upon take-off and landing. The bird is a strong flier, capable of speeds up to 88 km/h (55 mph).

That is if they can get out of the cage feeder!

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Triple Cheese Bread

I made a couple of loaves of triple cheese bread on Sunday. This recipe is certainly a keeper.

Cheeses used were cottage cheese, cheddar, and grated Parmesan. Think I will add some additional Asiago cheese next time. For the recipe, look on the side of the King Arthur All Purpose Flour bag.


Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Spider Trees

(Yesterday's blog was a congratulation to Bruce and Debbie on the birth of their new alpaca. It was just a bit premature. Sorry to report that the little one did not make it. Our hearts go out to the folks - knowing that a loss like this is certainly a sad event.)

It looks like something out of an illustrated book...

An unexpected side-effect of the flooding in parts of Pakistan has been that millions of spiders climbed up into the trees to escape the rising flood waters.

Because of the scale of the flooding and the fact that the water has taken so long to recede, many trees have become cocooned in spiders webs.

People in this part of Sindh have never seen this phenomenon before but they also report that there are now less
mosquitoes than they would expect, given the amount of stagnant, standing water that is around. It's clear the mosquitoes are getting caught in the spiders' webs, thus reducing the risk of malaria, which would be one blessing out of this mess.