My job isn’t as stressful as some folks but there is a good deal of pressure involved with writing computer software. That’s what I do for a living and I mostly like it. Writing software is like working a gigantic logic problem like you get in those puzzle books on the magazine rack…except it is all day long, every day. It takes a good bit of concentration and the ability to block out everything else. Of course, deadlines are always too near and bugs happen in software. Just think of how often you get to install windows updates! Behind the scenes somewhere, there was a programmer retracing logic and trying to find the hole in (probably) someone else’s thought processes when they were coding it…and they were under a deadline…and they were fueled by Mountain Dew!
Don’t get me wrong, most days I really enjoy that but it is hard work. I have to tell you though, I really enjoy my therapy:
Driving out my country road is so beautiful and although there are plenty of bumps on that old dirt road, it still seems to smooth things out for me. I know I am fortunate to be able to get away and for that, I am truly thankful!This entry was posted in Thoughts, WV and tagged Thoughts, WV by warren
Well, just like the last time, I noticed that there were a bunch more pretty flowers…and some other scenes that just really struck me about how pretty WV (and more specifically my little part of WV) really is. I hope you enjoy them even half as much as I did!
(click on each pic to enlarge…I think they are even prettier that way!)This entry was posted in Nature, WV and tagged Nature, WV by warren
Here are some more nature pics I took recently. I was driving up to the property by myself the other morning and for some reason, I took a few minutes to slow down and notice what a pretty trip it is once I get off of the main road. I stopped every hundred feet or so (it seemed) and took pics of some of the beautiful sights and scenes around me. I hope you enjoy even half as much as I did!
(click on each pic to enlarge…I think they are even prettier that way!)
These are all growing in the ditch lines on the old dirt road on the way up to the property. There are so many more things growing up there…I wish I could spend more time exploring…I can only imagine what grows wild. I just never noticed how much blooms this late in the summer…I always think of spring as the time of flowers…boy was I wrong!This entry was posted in Nature, WV and tagged Nature, WV by warren
I know this stuff is a nuisance to most people. In fact, when I was in college, I worked as a lifeguard at the Cook Forest State Park swimming pool (which I believe is gone now, sadly…my Mom worked there eons before I did). There was a ton of fun to be had as a lifeguard and the forest itself was beautiful. If you ever need a place to visit in PA, consider Cook Forest.
Anyhow, the superintendent at the park hated bull thistle. The pool opened on Memorial Day each year and in PA (at least then), it could still be quite cool. They also filled the pool from a deep well which ran about 50 degrees…it took awhile to be swimmable even if the air was warmer. So, when we had really cool days, the chief would come by and send some of us out to rid the park of all bull thistle. I hated that job and at that time, I vowed to never view thistle as an enemy again (at least not until I have power equipment to deal with it). You see, we cut it by hand then and it was not an amusing pastime.
All of these pictures were taken at our place and the thistle are pretty rampant. All sorts of insects love them though and I have no strong urge to deal with the thistle so, for now, they will remain an insect paradise and a great source of late summer color!This entry was posted in Nature, WV and tagged Nature, WV by warren
The first day of school was last Friday. It’s been so nuts around here that I haven’t had time to even think about it and here it is day 3! My babies are growing up! I am sure I am not the only one to feel this but it seems like this summer has flown by faster than any other.
Isaac is playing middle school soccer and I am one of the coaches for the team. We are running around 6 days a week with practice right now. Abigail is about to start soccer and her singing in the Appalachian Children’s Chorus. So, what does that all have to do anything? I don’t know what I am trying to say other than holy cow, school is here already! Next thing it will be Christmas!
Anyhow, the kids got off to a good start for school this year. I am so proud to see them growing up so well and they are becoming interested in interesting things. Some folks have a tough time seeing their kids grow up but I couldn’t be happier to see them develop. Of course, some times I wish it would slow down some, but I do not want time to stop. There is way too much yet to see!This entry was posted in Family and tagged Family by warren
Many of you have probably heard the nursery rhyme about the old lady who swallowed a fly. I do not remember it from my childhood but our kids loved to hear us tell them the story. It’s an old story but may freak out some folks (as a proper nursery rhyme should!)
So, as my father-in-law and I were pulling honey supers off of the hives last week, I noticed a funny little spider loitering. Spiders often loiter around bee hives. Roaches do too but I shall speak no more of them. I hate roaches. Actually, all sorts of bugs hang around bee hives to pick up the detritus naturally generated by the colony.
So, I watched my spider friend for a few minutes and sure enough, in a quick move, he reached up and grabbed a bee that I had injured in the harvesting process. I may be wrong, but I think that is the first time I have seen a spider make off with a bee! I am always amazed by the circle of life (or whatever you want to call it) that goes on around a bee hive. Aside from the colony itself, the bees support other nearby bugs as well as providing pollination services to many trees and other flowering plants. Most importantly, they provide me with honey!
Anyhow, I love to just watch the bees and take time to see what happens around the hive. There is quite an education to be had there. If I ever swallow a fly (or a bee), I am definitely going to swallow a spider too!
In case you are not familiar, here are the lyrics to The Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly rhyme…There was an old lady who swallowed a fly
I was headed home from harvesting honey on Sunday when I passed a friend on the road as I was coming off the ridge. I skidded to a stop on the gravel road (which is always a thrill!) and we talked about bees and stuff. Last week, my friend had offered for me to come pick grapes from his vines. I ran out of time last week, but my friend offered again and I took him up on it!
We picked a basket full of grapes without even working at it and I have to tell you, the smell of freshly picked, perfectly ripe grapes is incredible. I sort of hated to get out of the car, the smell was so incredible. If they made fresh grape cologne, I would consider wearing cologne. I would not consider it long as I do not like cologne at all, but I would consider it…it was that incredible.
Imagine my surprise Tuesday night when I walked into the house and smelled the grapes that Emily and Abigail were cooking into grape juice (and soon to be jelly!). The house was heavenly! Have you noticed how bad store-bought grape jelly is? It used to taste grapey and pretty good but now it just tastes purpley. It is awful.
Ok, sorry…sidetracked. Anyhow, I used to freak out when I saw my mom and grandma canning grape juice. They always added a few grape into the jars and as they sat upon the shelves in the cellar, I swore it looked like jars of eyeballs. No, in our grape juice, there will be no eyeballs. Our jelly will be grapey and the sun will continue to rise in the east. This is just how things should be.This entry was posted in Awesome, Canning, Food and tagged Awesome, Canning, Food by warren
We are like the Olympics here Among the Hills (.com!). With much pomp and circumstance, we harvested the honey so laboriously produced by my bees. I use both my English and my French when I work the bees and I always win gold…liquid gold! Emily’s Dad helped me harvest about half of the frames of honey and then I got the other half on Sunday morning. Usually pulling the honey off of the hives is a hot, hard, stressful job. Beesuits are made of heavy cotton and we usually seem to time the harvest for the hottest day in August. The bees are rarely happy about having their stash removed and honey is heavy. This year was a little different…it wasn’t hot. Not very hot anyhow. Honestly, it really is hot and hard work but this year was probably the best and easiest honey-pull I have ever done!
Click above for videos of how we remove the cappings from the honey.
Sunday afternoon Emily’s grandparents helped Emily, Abigail and me extract 2/3 of the honey. Extracting honey involves a good bit of work and it is quite sticky but the benefits are awesome! This year’s honey tastes better than any honey I have ever harvested!
I am not sure what nectar sources the bees found out at the property (I can call it a farm now…we did agriculture out there!), but besides the awesome taste, most of the honey is as black as coffee. We actually got two different colors of honey but the dark sort of intrigues me. It’s unlike any honey we have ever gotten!
Anyhow, we took a bunch of pics and a few videos of the extraction process. It’s hard to get pics of that part of the process when we pull the honey from the hives. As you might guess, my mind is focused on other things. You will have to imagine that part. Anyhow, aside from being exhausted, it is fantastic to spend time with family, working together. For me, that is the real gold medal for me!This entry was posted in Bees, Family, Food and tagged Bees, Family, Food, Honeybees by warren
Emily’s granddad gave me his words of wisdom on plumbing. He said, “Always remember, hot is on the left and %#@* runs down hill.” This weekend, we came a little closer to testing each of those rules. Thus far, we have…uh…been becoming closer to mother-nature in a special way.
So, that gets old pretty quickly as you might guess and we are so ready for real plumbing. The distance from the cabin to the septic tank is around 90 feet. I dug about 60 or so feet by hand but I just didn’t have the heart to finish it and really, I wanted it to be 3 feet deep rather than 2. A friend of mine took pity on me. You see, said friend owns an excavator and generously volunteered to come out and help me dig a proper trench for the waste line. We started around 7:30 and had it dug pretty quickly. In fact, we had all of the pipe glued together and buried in place before lunch. That’s even including the obligatory trip to the plumbing store to get missing parts. PVC pipe is really great but not flexible so when you need a 22.5 degree elbow, a 45 degree elbow just won’t work.
Emily brought us some Taco Bell and my friend and I ate too many bean burritos and tacos. After a quick lunch, we dug a second trench to install the clean water line from the cistern to the house. The water pipe I bought is rated to 200 psi which is capable of being directly buried and all that, but I decided to bury it within a PVC conduit just to give another protective layer to the water pipe from which we will hopefully be drinking. We kept digging (close to the house which was a little scary) and had another 3 foot trench dug and water line reburied by supper time.
There is still plenty of work to do, but we are much closer to testing whether we suitably followed both rules of plumbing. I especially hope we got the second rule right!This entry was posted in Cabin and tagged Cabin by warren
It’s amazing what all happens under your feet (if you aren’t careful) all the time. Abigail and I were sitting on the steps the other day talking about stuff and we happened to notice a family of ants going on vacation. We have had a good number of ants in the house this year (don’t tell Emily that I broadcast that…she would be mortified) and they have been all over outside too. Anyhow, these critters were fascinating to watch as they scurried around each other headed to the beach or the soda can or wherever ants go on vacation.
People will never solve disputes quite like ants I think. They come face to face and one guys left and the other goes left too…you know, since they are face to face. Anyhow, conflict resolution was quick and easy and really made their movement a ton of fun to watch. I bet I took 10 minutes of video of ants walking back and forth. You just can’t beat entertainment like that! Abigail and I had a blast getting ourselves down to eye level with ants and talking about stuff. It’s funny how ants can calm a bad case of ants in your pants!This entry was posted in Nature and tagged Nature by warren