Emily’s grandparents have a small pond at their place and every year Mr and Mrs Frog raise their babies there. We usually try to time it right to experience the sheer joy of frog season. I don’t know if you are familiar with how frogs work but Mrs Frog lays huge caches of gelatinous eggs which very quickly hatch and turn into tadpoles and eventually frogs. If you watch carefully, you get to see all of the steps in between tadpole and frog which might be the stuff of nightmares if you didn’t know better. Seeing a pond full of tadpoles is simply amazing! They swim so awkwardly and yet not. When they start growing legs and losing their tails, things get really interesting. It is an absolutely amazing transition and a lot of fun to witness!
Anyhow, we were around the pond last week and got to enjoy the tadpoles in the pond. Abigail loves to catch them in her hand and sing to them. She caught a few and while singing, spotted Mrs Frog. Mrs Frog had a protective eye of course (we could tell) but seemed content to watch us watch her babies. Of course, what are her options? We don’t have ferocious frogs here in West-by-God-Virginia.
Abigail decided she wanted to give Mrs Frog a pat on the back, congratulating her on a job well done with her latest crop of babies. She squatted at the edge of the pond (I had my camera ready fully expecting Abigail to fall into the water) and reached out to touch Mrs Frog. With a flash, Mrs Frog leapt into the water upon feeling Abigail’s fingers. She swam across the pond and under a rock where we could see her one back leg hanging out. We decided to leave well enough alone and just watch from afar. Spring is just the absolute best time of year! There are so many opportunities to experience in the spring. The Frog family delights us every year!This entry was posted in Family, Nature, WV and tagged Did you get peed on? You'll get warts!, Family, Nature, WV by warren
We are doing a little bit of fancy building out in the back yard to convert a bit of space from grass to a food plot. A few years ago I cut down and old tree that was both ugly and in the way. I had high hopes of sawing the tree into boards (just to see if I could) and doing something interesting with it. Three years later, the log is pretty well rotted…and in the way like the tree before it. I rolled it out of the way so we could work and we found a regular entomological wonderland!
These two huge beetles dashed around in circles. I dubbed them vampire beetles because they just wanted out of the sun. I think they were actually Patent Leather beetles (Odontotaenius disjunctus). I let them crawl around on my hands and arms a bit, trying to get the kids excited (in a “my dad is so brave and awesome” kinda way). It didn’t exactly work as I expected but I was delighted that the kids at least wanted to touch the beetles. I am a country boy trying to raise city kids to not be too much city and a little more country…touching bugs is a good step on the path. I delivered both beetles to a safe spot nearby…I do not want to harm such cool and beneficial bugs.
We also noticed a large millipede cruising around quickly once we moved a chunk of bark. We could not pick him up but he was super cool though a little shy. He had no interest in posing for a photograph. I am not sure about exactly what type of centipede he is but I think he is in the genus Cryptops. I also learned a little something about centipedes versus millipedes. Millipedes have 2 leg pairs per segment while centipedes have one leg-pair on each segment. Centipedes have venomous legs while millipedes do not. Centipedes are fast while millipedes are typically not. Gosh, there are so many other differences…read some more here.
Anyhow, I think what made me happiest about this log was the worm family we found there. Abigail bent right down and grabbed up a worm. It’s a simple little thing but I love that my darling little daughter will pick up a worm without worrying about it being slimy or wiggly. She relocated a family of worms the other day while some other little girls looked on in shock. I have city kids but even in the city, under a log, lies adventure and wonder and just a little bit of country!This entry was posted in Family, Nature, WV and tagged Bugs and worms and crawly things, Nature, WV by warren
I love April. In fact, yesterday was the perfect date…”April 25th. Because it’s not too hot, not too cold, all you need is a light jacket.” That’s from Miss Congeniality…one of the funniest movies ever. Of course, I would laugh at anything that has Sandra Bullock. I have a secret crush on her. Anyhow, the end of April is perfect I think. Temperatures are nice but really, the colors that pop are what make it especially excellent for me. I took some pictures that don’t even begin to capture how beautiful and vivid the colors are right now (and especially the last week or so).
There is such diversity of life here and the mountains, as they green, are just alive with colors. Dogwoods and redbuds seem to burst out everywhere. While nondescript during the summer, redbuds and dogwoods are the princes of spring! Maples come alive first and give the first reddish tint to the mountains but the real power comes later with the purple and white buds that follow.
I guess the lower humidity and temperature make it so, but even the green backdrop of the leaves and grass are just more vivid than any other time of year too. I suppose I sort of come alive again after the (for me) depressing winter browns. I come to really appreciate the color in the mountains every spring and it just wouldn’t feel right without seeing the change and being in the change. Its in the birds’ songs and the frogs peeps and most definitely in the color of the trees!This entry was posted in Nature, WV and tagged Green is cool, I'm alive again!, Mountains, Spring, WV by warren
Something occurred to me this weekend. In a way, I am a story teller, telling the day-to-day nonsense that goes on in our lives here on this blog. I know that’s pretty much what blogging is all about and it’s pretty cool how I get involved in other people’s lives and how (I suppose) some of you, dear friends, become involved in our lives. I enjoy telling our stories, for, like sands through an hourglass, these are the days of our lives.
Anyhow, this realization came to me while at an actual concert put on by a real, professional story teller, Lorna MacDonald Czarnota. My friend Granny Sue held a house concert where both she and Ms. Czarnota told several diverse stories and sang ballads. I don’t know if you have ever heard a professional story teller, but if you ever get a chance, go and listen.
Granny Sue is our neighbor so I knew her house. She has a fantastic house in the woods surrounded by trees and birds and flowers. Her home is incredible, filled with antiques and mountain heritage and beautiful glassware and books. She invited us to walk about her house and drink sassafras tea and enjoy a variety of snacks. It was a beautiful arrangement and truly an awesome experience. It’s what story telling was at its beginning…friends and neighbors getting together to tell stories and enjoy each other’s company.
Abigail and I had a great time and she re-told the stories we heard the whole way home. I am not sure I am really much of a story teller, but I am delighted that Abigail had so much fun listening and re-telling stories. I hope she will learn some mountain stories and make up some of her own. However she wants to communicate, the wonderful imagination that will be fed from these mountains makes me happy!This entry was posted in Fun, Thoughts, WV and tagged Appalachia, Family, Fun, Mountains, Not a soap opera!, WV by warren
We used to have a neighbor who was somewhat less than “whole”. She had a real passion for animals…well, for collecting animals; not so much for taking care of them. Fast forward a few years and she has moved away, and, in fact, her house was torn down. The animals remain and we have grown somewhat attached to some of them. Just so you get a picture of what I mean, we have had as many as 13 cats on our side porch…none of which was ours.
There are fewer now and we have captured the ones that are tame and had them fixed. I guess we should have taken them all to the pound but there are a few that are good cats and nice to pet when we are out in the yard. They stay outside and keep the varmints at bay. There are a number of cats that are feral, and as it is now spring, pregnant. We do not need a dozen more cats around here so we plan to trap the feral ones and take them to the pound. I have a few box traps so this seemed like an easy task. I baited two traps with canned cat food and walked away.
I checked the traps periodically through the day and only succeeded in catching one of the tame/fixed cats…three times. I can’t tell if he is smart or dumb. Dumb to keep getting caught or smart because he filled his belly with good food, knowing that we would just release him. Anyhow, I set them again and forgot about it until morning. I checked the trap Sunday and sure enough, I caught another cat…a real wild one!
I took this one out to the woods and let him go. He didn’t stick around for pleasantries which suited me just fine!This entry was posted in Nature, WV and tagged 'Possum!, Nature, WV by warren
Winter is not my friend. I generally do not like a single thing about it. This week, we are supposed to get colder than average temperatures with the lowest on Tuesday…single digit stuff. We have a little tradition in our house that started by accident…whenever it’s cold outside, we sing (repeatedly) that Christmas-ish song, Baby it’s cold outside. The kids sing it. We sing it. It’s usually loud and bad and we rarely get past the first verse. And it’s bad. We love it though!
Anyhow, my blogging and real-life friend Granny Sue put up a great poem she wrote about the cold…check it out. My poems on cold would be a study in four letter words so I will spare you that.
So, instead, I thought I would post a few pics I have taken as I stand with Isaac at the bus stop…in the cold…and dark.
I do like one thing about winter and cold I guess. I like turning the heat up, piling on a big stack of blankets (which in my case, means one blanket on especially cold days), drinking hot tea non-stop and laughing at the wind with my sweetie. I know we need the cold to reset Mother Nature and all so I guess I will make the most of the crisp cool mornings at sunrise when I get to see the beauty around me and take a few special minutes to talk to Isaac in the dark. His guard is down in the dark (or maybe it’s the onset of hypothermia?) and we get to talk about a little bit of everything.
Bring on the Arctic blast…I am ready and so is my hot tea!This entry was posted in Nature, WV and tagged Colder than a witch's..., Nature, WV by warren
Friends, these are dark times. No really…it is still dark at my house. No power for 5-7 days or so is what I heard somewhere. It is really strange as usually we can see lights somewhere around us since we live on top of a hill. This time, there are no lights anywhere. Everyone is without power.
In the summer, that isn’t too big a deal. It’s hot but the generator will run a few fans and lights so we are fine. In the winter, however, the cold gets to be a pretty big drag. Remember a few weeks ago I got a kerosene heater at the junk sale? Well I am pleased to report that it works great! Our house was still 57 degrees last night but that’s warmer than it was when we started! We had ventilation and 2 carbon monoxide detectors so we were being safe. All of our appliances are electric so it was an all around uncomfortable evening. Luckily, since we had snow, we took everything from the ice box and put it out in the snow banks.
It was weird to look out of the area where there are normally hundreds of lights. Last night, there were only a few that coincided with the roar of the generators stationed nearby. Even with those running, it was so much more quiet than normal. Kind of weird.
I guess the other weird thing is that Emily and I decided to replace one shower head last night in the dark…I guess we finally had nothing else to do but a little light house work. Our house was so odd to listen to without the normal buzz of electrical things as well. I could hear the kids talking and the cats walking across the floors. I heard a few creaks and groans too…she was cold too I suppose.
I guess that, even as much as some aspects of this outtage suck, there are some neat things that happen around home that I normally wouldn’t take the time to notice. Maybe dark times are good every now and then…
Edit: Power came back on around 9pm Wednesday!This entry was posted in Thoughts, WV and tagged Thoughts, WV by warren
Hurricane Sandy brought snow to our neck of the woods. Sometime over night it started snowing and really blowing and this morning, there was a bunch of that white garbage on the ground and hanging in the trees, many of which still had leaves. Add wet, heavy snow to trees with leaves and you have a winter power-outtage mess!
I shoveled the driveway this morning. We have a bad driveway. Of course, in WV, most driveways are bad. Anyhow, ours is on a hill and has a slight curve at the bottom. It connects to a single lane road with an 8 or so foot drop to the houses below us. So, I slid down the driveway in spite of its being shoveled and onto the single lane road. As I tried to navigate to the main road, I slid sideways across said road and had my tires at the edge of the drop-off. Ugh. I shoveled a bunch of the road and was able to slide sideways (no exaggeration) down onto the main road. So my driveway is a hill and my access to the main road is a hill. I nearly bit it on both roads…
Since I couldn’t get back home, I decided to go on to the office…which had no power. Ugh. It’s still snowing and blowing and we still have no power at the house. Obviously the power came back at the office (where this website resides on a server in my office) so I guess it could be worse…except my poor family is stranded at home without power. Poor them.
Well, it sort of sucks here but everyone is ok and we are nowhere near as bad off as many other folks so I count my blessings. Stay
thirsty safe my friends…
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