Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sometimes It's Hard to Wait

One of my kindergartners came to school wearing his brother's old Cub Scout T-shirt, neckerchief and neckerchief clip. He was so proud to be wearing it, especially the neckerchief.

After lunch, the kids have a designated opportunity to use the restroom before we go to the playground. This child went in but long after all the others were back in line and ready to go, he did not appear. I sent a boy to check on him and the answer was that he was not ready to come out. Minutes passed. I led the class in reciting the alphabet and counting to 100 and counting by 10's to 100. We played rhyming games and phonics games. Still he did not come out to join us.  It had been fifteen minutes and he was not out. It was then that I remembered he had complained of a stomach ache before lunch. I feared the worst. I led the whole class inside to the bathroom where I knocked.

"What do you need?" I asked.
I was totally unprepared for his answer:
"I can't get my neckerchief on."
He had been trying all that time to get his neckerchief on!

I said, "Come on, we can do that on the playground."

He said, "I can hardly wait to be a Bug Scout!"

So, that's when I lost it.
He truly thought "Cub" was "Bug."

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Stars in Our Eyes

Our son had told us about the astronomy ap he had on his phone. This year, I added one to my phone, called Night Sky and we are having so much fun with it. It uses your phone's GPS and compass. With these tools, the program shows you on the screen the planets and constellations in the sky above your head. We take it when we walk around the block in the evening. It shows on the screen the horizon and as I move the  phone, the patterns of the "stars" appear with many, but not all, names.  It is the easiest we have ever been able to identify what we were looking at, because it customizes to what is  over OUR heads. 

In one walk, we were able to find Venus, Uranus, Jupiter and Neptune. The next morning, we could find Saturn, Mars and Pluto. Mercury was the  only planet, or former planet (Pluto), that we missed. Not a bad day's work!

So the newest ap is called Sputnik! and it works similarly to predict and identify satellites and the Space Station as they pass over  us. There is a moment when the sun reflects off of them increasing their magnitude, which is the brightness.  This ap reported that Iridium 95 would be passing over at 6:28:58AM today and that the magnitude would be an amazing -5.7, which is VERY bright. We decided to give it a shot. B is always up then anyway and I am usually up. It was very cloudy last night but it was clear enough this morning to drive up to the highway so that we could actually get a view south, as our trees block a lot of sky. We parked and got out in a church driveway and looked south at approximately 23 degrees above the horizon, as instructed by the ap. There was a countdown on the ap which was completed by a series of beeps that told us to "pay attention now." There was also a screen that showed Saturn and Spica and other "stars" in relation to the track of the satellite. We saw it! It was pretty quick and I am not sure we could locate one of much less magnitude, but it was worth the effort.

Disclaimer: the picture above was found online without a copy write.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Cabbage Dew is Beautiful

The dew on the red cabbages beads up  and reflects the light so beautifully.

The cabbages, especially the red ones, have been growing pretty fast. As you can see, at this point they are mostly giant outer leaves.

I measured the diameter of one of these at 30 inches last weekend. See my sunglasses below for some sense of proportion.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I've Seen Fire and I've Seen Rain

First, it finally rained---and mostly filled up the fire pit on the porch. Then it turned cold. On Saturday morning, we found it frozen!

These little candles were floating in ice, too.

Ice is nice---occasionally.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Exploring Fort Island

The  island off Crystal River that we explored at Christmas was called Fort Island. A search on-line did not reveal any of the history of the place. The name sounds like just maybe there used to be a fort out there, don't you think?

We walked on four different docks/piers in the King's Bay area.  There were also some lovely homesites. It was such a beautiful area and a beautiful, cool day.

It looks like a fun place to explore by canoe or kayak.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Letting Off Steam

On our drive home after Christmas, we stopped at Crystal River to eat at Charlie's, a seafood restaurant right on the dock. It was such a lovely day that we decided to take a drive down the nine-mile road to the Gulf.  This was a new place for us and we enjoyed exploring. The road out to the islands gave views of the nuclear power plant at Red Level. We drove through the salt marshes of needle grass and spartina and.....

out to the water.

All along the way, we noticed the siren towers.

A visitor could easily find themselves having a freaky Friday if they had not read the sign.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

A Baby Tree for a Baby Boy

For Christmas, our younger son gave his brother (the forester) and sister-in-law a baby longleaf pine tree to plant in honor of their baby to be born in March. Since they live in an apartment, we were asked to care for the tree for a while. B took the tree out of the gallon pot and put it into a much larger one. It is probably a seven gallon pot. It is out in our garden plot in full sun.

As you can see, longleafs start out looking much like tall grass. This grass stage will last for the first three to five years. The root system is being developed at this time, hence the large pot. Longleafs are one of our native trees. It appears to be a happy baby.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Grappling With the Truth of a Heavy Load

I just had to share this picture I took of this giant grappling claw at the sawmill in Metcalf. It is used for  unloading logs from trucks or onto flat cars on trains. I just thought it looked so friendly.  It reminds me of a praying mantis somehow.  I have seen them tilt their heads like that. And with a name like "Mack," how can it be not  friendly?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Goldfish Don't Wave

Over the winter holiday, I brought home my yellow-bellied slider (turtle) from my kindergarten classroom aquarium to live in the little pond by our front door. Two weeks was just too long to leave her untended. I saw her a few times in the pond, but after we returned from our Christmas out of town, she had not been sighted,  Knowing the children would miss her, I bought ten small goldfish and put them in the school aquarium.

The first morning back to school, the children first noticed  that I had changed a classroom helper job from "turtle feeder" to "fish feeder." They were intrigued and then noticed the fish ---and no turtle. They were full of questions. I still believed that the turtle might be hanging out in the mud in the bottom so I told them if she wakes up and appears, we can decide if we want the fish and turtle to trade places. They were fine with that.

But later in the morning, I overheard a discussion that was to the effect that when they used to put their finger up to the glass, the turtle would wave ---she would wiggle her claws-- but that the fish don't wave. I had to point out that fish don't have feet or arms to wave with and maybe they wave with their fins.

One warm day over the weekend, I looked out and saw the turtle floating in the pond! Phew!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Mashes Sands in January Fog

We took a little wander down to the coast on Sunday afternoon.
We met the dense fog that had burned off at home before 11 o'clock. It remained in place at the coast all day. B tried his fishing luck at a couple of spots without even a nibble.

We had not been out on the "new" fishing pier there. It is nicely done. The fishermen there were not catching either.

Since there was so little to see out on the water, the interesting sights were at our feet. I am always interested in the patterns that a plant may make in the sand when the wind whips it around.

At the beginning of our beach walk, we were noticing that while there were lots of mammal tracks in the sand, there was little marine life visible. When we walked around the other side to a different point, we found more of what we had expected before. This tiny shell (that I  think was a conch) was the only one of its kind that we saw.

There were a number of sand dollars, but we thought the patterns and colors on this one were so striking.

This small sea urchin was mostly spineless.

I laughed at how similar this sponge and the fisherman's glove looked.

Before we headed back, we explored a city park in Panacea. There was a nice dock into the bay and the fog had lifted here but you could see the dark cloud bank out on the points.

It was such a nice afternoon!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Mailbox Monday: Scooby Sled

A litte short on snow, though.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Gleaning for Second Harvest

On Wednesday, the landowner for our community garden plot submitted an offer to Second Harvest: if volunteers would come harvest on Saturday, he would donate the greens in his garden to a program that sends food home in backpacks with elementary children in our community who qualify for free school lunches. We read about it in the newspaper on Friday and decided that that was something we could help with. Our friend also met us there to help.

The horses were curious about all the activity in their normally quiet neighborhood.

In Saturday morning's paper, it said that about two dozen people were expected to come out and help.

At one point, I counted 45 people working.

We pulled and cut turnips, mustard, and collards. Large black crates were filled, one after another, and then loaded onto the trailer pulled by the tractor. 

All the mustard greens in the crate below were grown in the plot tended by B's scout troop. Those were donated also.

When all was said and done, this large truck was almost full of loose greens. That's a LOT of greens.

It is a good idea and it felt worthwhile to support.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Long Horn

This bull was out to pasture near Wacissa recently. He was quite patient while I took a couple of pictures. From this angle, his horns look big.

But from the frontal view, you can really get a sense of just how long they actually are!

He reminds me of the children's book, Ferdinand. Ferdinand was a peaceful bull that loved to smell the flowers.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Harry Possum in the Kitchen

On Thanksgiving Eve, a family member was rudely awakened by the constant barking of a neighbor's dog that had come up on the patio in the middle of the night. It was quickly determined that the dog was barking at a possum that was also on the patio. The family member, wishing to be relieved of the noise, went out and squirted the dog with the hose. For good measure, he also squirted the possum. Unfortunately, the glass doors had been left open and the possum took it's escape---inside!

Another couple of family members were enlisted to help remove said possum as it explored the kitchen. It was promptly dispatched with the aid of a broom. The possum has been named, Harry Possum. The family members are going by the collective "possum herders."

For Christmas this year, I found these little possum mama models for each of them. I took the the kitchen.

And for the record, the word is.....wet possums smell really bad!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Torreya on New Year's Eve

We had a picnic and hiked a couple of trails at Torreya State Park on New Year's Eve. The leaves on this oak were still very much into fall down by the Apalachicola River.

The river reflects the drought, as well as the partly cloudy sky.

The trilliums were just getting started. 

B spotted one that had four leaves: a quadrillium?

I found this abandoned snail shell in the leaves and placed it on a log for the picture.

It was a beautiful day for a hike and we had a wonderful time.