It was a busy holiday weekend…but we were actually most busy at finally relaxing. I mean, we had things we had to do, here and there including the annual turkey gorge which was awesome as always. We also took several naps, stayed up too late watching silly stuff on HBO and slept in every day. I am thankful for so many things this Thanksgiving, but, of course, I am most thankful for my family.
My Dad turned 70 the day after Thanksgiving. He had cancer a dozen years ago and very nearly lost the battle. He has some troubles as a result, but I am thankful that I was able to celebrate his 70th birthday with him and the rest of my family in PA.
It’s funny, the small things that we do when we are with family. In PA, we had a great time shooting a new gun I got. We all took our turn shooting and we all shot about the same…awful. Dad tried to show Abigail some pointers on shooting but she had a mind of her own, of course. Mom got to laughing and her shot was not helped by that at all either. It was really nice just standing around in our funny looking shooting muffs, laughing at each other.
We spent Thanksgiving day with Emily’s people in WV. There were about 20 of us who spent time eating too much and snoozing wherever we could find space. We pretended to watch the Lions lose and we ate too much…did I mention that? Those of us who weren’t comatose took a walk around the neighborhood as we always do. It’s the same neighborhood were Emily’s mom and dad and aunt grew up. I always love to hear stories about how the area was when they were young. We talked about old times and new times and how glad we are to be able to just spend time together.
It’s funny how just a couple of things that we do together as family mean so much to me and to all of us. I love to be where I am and when I am. I am thankful for right now and for all of the people with whom I am fortunate enough to share right now!
Do you get that title or is it too obscure? Do you know what I like most? I like being outside. Well, I like my family and bacon the very most but after those things, I like anything outdoors.
Please click on these pics to enlarge…I think the detail is so cool!
We were up at my parents’ house the other weekend and I was struck but how many awesome mossy or lichen bearing trees they had. I have always been fascinated by lichen. I remember a great pair of oak trees behind the house that were covered in lichen. Those trees are gone, but the lichen spread!
And moss! Holy cow! If you look around, it’s not hard to find all sorts of moss variants. Some look like little ferns and others look like extraterrestrial herpes (just speculating on appearance) or something. Did you know that moss holds a tremendous amount of water and often times, that water is safe to drink?
As I understand it, moss has an iodine-esque substance in it that makes it somewhat antibiotic. I have drunk moss water many times and haven’t died though don’t trust me…I can barely run a hammer.
Anyhow, I love to look at these oft-overlooked flora and hope you’ll enjoy the pics too!
We were driving up the dirt road to the cabin the other day and I spied, with my magic mushroom eye (my eye is magic, not the mushrooms) a beautiful cluster of chanterelle mushrooms. I know you may be asking yourself how mushrooms can be beautiful, but in addition to a great taste, these mushrooms have an excellent yellow color and they just look so soft and cuddly. Well, I guess you wouldn’t want to cuddle mushrooms, but to me, they just begged to be touched.
Do you ever find yourself looking at something and you just have to touch it? I do it all of the time and I just had to touch these mushrooms as well.
I didn’t pick any because they were a little past prime and they were not on my property. I know some folks don’t mind picking stuff they find along the road but I sort of feel funny about it. I’d be mad if I had a great crop growing, just waiting for it to be perfect only to find it picked by someone else. Anyhow, I made note of where they were and will ask whoever owns the land next year in proper mushroom hunting season.
EDIT: Upon further investigation, it turns out that this may be a jack-o’-lantern mushroom which is mildly poisonous. When they are back in season, I will investigate further!
I tend to dislike autumn only because it precedes winter (which I absolutely despise). The beautiful mushrooms and a dead hornets’ nest do help to make me see autumn in a little more favorable light. Maybe I just need to look around a little harder…
Emily and I finished up digging the footer a while back so that left the best part…mixing concrete! We mixed and poured 184 bags of concrete into the footer ditch. Just to save you the math, 184 bags of concrete is a metric crap-ton! When you pour concrete for just about any purpose, you need to add steel rebar which gives the concrete something to which to bind. You can buy nice pre-cut pieces or you can buy large pieces for about a quarter the price and cut it yourself.
The perfect tool to cut rebar is an angle grinder. I happen to have an angle grinder with a metal cutting blade on it. Running an angle grinder is a bit of an adventure! The same blade that cuts steel with ease and throws sparks like a 4th of July show, spins mere inches from the user’s fingers. Mostly, when the user is not exhausted, it is a simple task to keep separation between fingers and blade. A few weeks ago, I was in a fatigued state and co-mingled my left index finger with a spinning blade. I am incredibly lucky to still have my finger and am even luckier to have only cut a nice gouge in my fingernail.
I both cussed and bled, for roughly the same amount of time, before I surveyed the area for a first aid kit. We are usually pretty conscientious about keeping first aid supplies on hand, but in our fatigued state, we left home without one. I have always been one to improvise and really, my solution is not terribly new, but I am still proud of my first aid solution…duct tape!
I was able to continue on with work for the day but I was much slower and continued to mumble bad things off and on through the day. It was not a lot of fun though and I still have a nice bit of concrete filler in the gouge where my fingernail should be. Friends, I have to tell you, if you feel an urge to trim your fingernails on the work site, DO NOT use an angle grinder. Stick to a metal file or cross-cut pliers or even tin-snips…but not an angle grinder!
We planted a garden at our property this year (we used to garden at Emily’s grandparents’ place) and it was a terrible failure…mostly. The only semi-success was a patch of sunflowers we planted. I really love sunflowers (and really, pretty much all yellow flowers) so I was delighted that if only one thing could succeed, it was the sunflowers.
Sunflowers are absolutely beautiful when in their prime, but I don’t know if you ever noticed just how cool they are when they are done flowering and ready to harvest. I love looking at patterns that sort of draw your attention and refuse to let you look away…know what I mean? Ripe sunflower seeds create just such a pattern.
I don’t know if they are like snowflakes, but if you look at several sunflower heads, each is a little different. A month or more ago, my Dad and I harvested the seeds. It was sort of sad to mess up the patterns but I really love to eat sunflower seeds too! Although the sunflowers are way past yellow, they are still about the best flowers I know. I mean seriously…flowers you can eat?! Awesome!
Some people assume that I do all of the heavy work while Emily sits by and buffs her nails and stuff. Nope…not my girl! Emily has muled (yup, that’s my verb) 80 pound bags of concrete and 45 concrete blocks every bit as much as I did. She dug a large part of the footer which is the only reason we got it done. Yes, that’s right, we got it dug!
I don’t like digging or working with concrete. It is absolutely miserable work and I am absolutely thrilled that we were only temporarily employed as human backhoes!
West Virginia is a unique place. Lots of folks across the country forget that West Virginia was separated from Virginia in 1863 and that we are, in fact, a separate state. I like to call my state West-by-God-Virginia and the other place either “East Virginia” or “the other Virginia”. I guess folks in every state say that their people are the nicest or the most down-to-Earth of any state. I’d say WV fits that bill too and who am I to say any different. People are good here. I love it here and I see so many of the best things in WV. Like every state though, there is good and bad and folks outside of WV seem only to know about the bad stuff that happens here…we do suffer from some of the worst health issues, we have educational problems and our lots of folks see the world in such a different way than the rest of the country, and not always in a good way. In spite of the problems of WV, there are several shining examples of what is great about WV.
We got the opportunity to visit a live recording of Mountain Stage, a popular and well-known broadcast on public radio. Our capitol complex (yes Charleston is the capitol of WV, an independent state!) is pretty amazing. Mountain Stage is recorded in the Capitol theater in the WV Culture Center. Since 1983, Mountain Stage has brought all sorts of music to the people of WV and Sunday night a few weeks ago, the four of us got to be a part of that experience. Our show will be broadcast in December so listen for our applause if you get a chance. We clapped vigorously.
There are all sorts of musical styles at Mountain Stage and some/many seem to have absolutely nothing to do with WV or the mountains but each is unique and a real treat to hear live in a great venue. I don’t always agree with everything that happens in our state and there are bad things for which we are noted, but Mountain Stage is one of those things that is a unique and wonderfully WV thing!