Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Phoenix Frog

Monday evening was as beautiful as the rest of the day had been. In the afternoon, B and I had spent time cutting back part of the jungle we have let get away from us in the back yard. B was removing (by the roots) some of the mock orange (English dogwood) that has spread like crazy and was smothering a sweet little, miniature azalea. We still have plenty of mock orange. I was pruning back the the old formosa azaleas that were lovely last week, but lost every bloom in the storms of Friday and Saturday. They got cut back about a third, which improved their form and reduced some of the space they were taking and next year they will bloom even better.

Most of these trimmings were shredded and returned to the soil where B had created holes digging out the mock orange. But some of the pieces joined other yard trash in our burn pile.

After dinner outside---it was too beautiful to stay in!---B lit the burn pile.  It had been burning a few minutes when out hopped this leopard frog.


Looking at the pictures, I think it must have hurt its nose.


We have had leopard frogs around (and in) the little goldfish pond in the front before. Hopefully, it will find its way before the birds or snakes find it.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Nothing Says Spring Like Chicks and Duckies

On Sunday afternoon we went to the Tractor Supply Company. We love that place! They did not have what were looking for but it never matters. There will always be something interesting in a Tractor Supply. Well on this trip, we learned that the baby ducks and chicks were in! This is a seasonal thing; they are not always available.


They are set up in fairly large troughs with warming lights, bedding, watering stations and feed. 100_6519



The chicks are really cute but it is the ducklings that I think are just precious.



Do these pictures look fuzzy to you?



There was a young couple there picking out these two ducklings.

I was surprised to learn there are special cartons for carrying these little guys home.  I guess you don’t just put them in a bag!


And who knew they come with instructions? Hopefully, no assembly required!


The little brown one was nervous and wet the box: lots of peeping as well as peeing.


….and here they are cartin’ their carton of ducks.


Unfortunately, before they could check out they were told that chicks and ducks are not sold fewer than six at a time. Maybe that is what the ducklings were peeping about.

I remember when I was very small, my brother and sister and I used to get baby chicks and ducks for Easter. They had been dyed blue and green and other bizarre colors that we thought were just wonderfully festive. I remember as their feathers grew, they changed into normal barnyard bird  colors.  Poor things, I suppose we probably “loved them to death.”

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Earth Hour


On Saturday, there was a campaign to get folks around the world to turn off all unnecessary electric-using equipment for one hour. I remember when I first heard about that thinking, “We could do that, if we remember.”

Well, it turned out, we did ---and we didn’t even have to remember. We even went whole hog and made it three hours!

As powerful storms rolled through, we lost electricity to our neighborhood.

We dined by candle-light on tuna sandwiches.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Tornado Terror

As the front came through on Friday, we were told at school that we were under a tornado watch and later, a tornado warning, as one had been observed south of us. That last announcement was more than a few of my kids were ready to deal with. I sat holding one as he bucked up and refused to cry, but shook like a leaf in my arms. I did my best to reassure them all that we were in a safe place and that we knew what to do if the alarm went off. I pulled up radar on two different computers and showed them where we were and where the hardest rain was. I told them that the rain would sound really loud on our metal roof when it got here and that we might get some thunder and lightning but that we were staying inside away from the lightning. On the second radar, we looked at the storm tracker on Wunderground Nexrad that shows the direction the storms are moving, if they contain hail, and if they contain a tornado vortex. We found this reassuring to not see any of the latter but it was a long couple of hours.

In the back of my head was all the damage B and I have recently seen in the Thomasville, Georgia area. It has been five weeks since a twister cut a swath through the woods up there. We were in the area a couple of days after and I took a few pictures.

Pictures 030309 096

Pictures 030309 098

Tall trees do a lot of damage when they fall. There were many “blue roofs” (tarps) in this little neighborhood.

Pictures 030309 097

Pictures 030309 102

We thought this was bad.

Four weeks later, we were back and took another look at an even more rural area on the other side of town where the same tornado had sheered  off a mature forest—for miles!

On the far right of this picture, you can see the mess has been cleared and burned.

It was evident that a lot of work had been going on to clean up the fallen trees. These logs still standing were around 12 feet tall.


Here are two nice homes along that road with major roof damage. The far one had not a single shingle and the closer one was covered in thin black plastic. We had to wonder how long these people might have been trapped on their own property. There was no chance this dirt road was passable. It must have been covered in trees.


This used to be a secluded little wetland. Now it is a big puddle, surrounded by very large brush piles, made from fallen trees.



This large hawk with the perfect camou was hanging around looking for some homeless creature to have for dinner.


These were the images in my head as I tried to reassure my kindergartners. To think of such power hitting our school full of children is indeed a terrifying thought.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Bi-Polar Children

Last fall when my kindergartners were studying the earth and sky, we were looking at the globe and the poles. I told the children that they all know who lives at the North Pole, but I knew someone named Kelly who was living near the South Pole. They were fascinated. We looked at some of the pictures on her blog. http://mypersonaldiaspora.blogspot.com/search?updated-min=2008-01-01T00%3A00%3A00-08%3A00&updated-max=2009-01-01T00%3A00%3A00-08%3A00&max-results=19

I sent her an email saying if she ever came back to her childhood home of Tallahassee, we would sure love to have her visit. Recently, she sent word that she would be in town during her spring break from Ohio State, where she is a graduate student in geology.

So on Wednesday, I waited until the last minute to announce that we needed to make sure our room was tidied up because we were having a visitor. Three of them screamed, “Is it Kelly?!?!” When I said, “yes,” the room exploded with jumping up and down, squealing children! (What a fan club!)


She brought slides and did a wonderful presentation. 


She also had some of her warm gear and a rock from Antarctica.


I was proud of my kindergartners. They were attentive and asked good questions that stuck to the topic---there’s a minor miracle! One little guy amazed me when he asked, “If the sun is always shining at the south pole in the summer, is it always dark at the north pole then?”  Woah!

The next day, after we watched her interview on the school TV news, the kids wrote about her presentation. It was good stuff. They had been listening and learning.

Now we all know Santa at the North Pole and Kelly who once lived near the South Pole---and hopes to go back.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Souvenir Rose

Last June, B and I spent a few days at a farmhouse in North Carolina. The old roses in various colors were blooming profusely on the hillside. 

While we were there, we went to Asheville to the rose show at the Botanical Gardens. The local rose growers were having a small fundraising sale. We bought an antique rose and kept it alive through the unusual heat-wave that was in the area.

A lightly fragrant rose of the palest pink, Souvenir de la Malmaison produces fairly large, compact blooms.  It is a Bourbon rose, introduced in 1843.

We have not had a lot of success with our efforts at rose-growing, mostly from the wrong place, wrong plant issue. Roses need LOTS of sun.

The man who sold us this rose told us he had grown them successfully in New Orleans. Well, that is real close to our climate here.

This past weekend, we got our first blooms.


I am thrilled! It is all that I ever wanted in a rose.

What a wonderful souvenir of our trip.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Outside the Box (Turtle)

B and I were heading to the lighthouse a week ago Sunday, when we came upon a small box turtle in the road. It was a country road near our house and so we turned around and went back to take a look.


I decided to let it visit kindergarten. We took it back to the house and it spent the night in a small glass aquarium with a bunch of leaf litter in it. I could see there were small bugs in it, in case it was hungry. I read that they will eat greens, fruits, bugs, worms and need a variety to stay healthy.

The next morning, the children were so excited as I carried it around for them to observe its amazing two-piece bottom shell (plastron) that protects it much better than our yellow-bellied slider’s does.  We continued to compare and contrast the two turtles. And I talked to them a little about the anatomy of the turtle, especially the fact that turtles’ bones are connected to their shells and that a turtle can not come out of its shell, as we take off a sweater.


It ended up spending the week and really acted as though it was comfortable when I put it in the aquarium with Louvenia, the slider. And while Louvenia was curious, she did not act as though she minded sharing her territory with the box turtle. Louvenia is much larger.


Below, the box turtle is on the right on the floating rock.

Here you can see it better.

I had read that they are clumsy swimmers and may exhaust themselves if there is no float, but that was not the case with this little one. It swam and floated and climbed and seemed  content. Sometimes, I put it back in the leaf litter where I had put food on a large flat rock, but I never knew if it ate and so on Friday, I brought it home and released it on the ground by the swamp across from our house.

For the longest time, it did nothing, keeping its shell closed tightly. I was beginning to wonder if I would have the patience to wait for it to do something. B said, “It’s a turtle. They’re SLOW.”

Oh, yeah.

Finally, a nose came out and then one leg.

Then the head came out and began looking around. But the turtle still did not otherwise move.

We waited and watched and then it pulled in its head and began to burrow right where it sat.

It kept burrowing until if you had not known it was there, you might have walked right on it.

And so we said our good-byes.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

We’re Back!

Well, we continued to have some issues with our computer after the virus was gone and so the CPU left us for a week of rewiping and reloading. We got it back Sunday night and spent the evening with our friends, tweaking it.  Now it finally feels pretty much like our old computer. Ahhh!

Soooo….. Here is a very belated Happy St. Patrick’s Day to all!

This is one of my school buddies.

And, by the way, he has the matching shamrock pants.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Natural Bridge Encampment

I think the best part of the whole event for me was our walk through the encampment. The newspaper reported that there were over 250 re-enactors participating. I had no expectation that the participation would be so large and that the encampment would be so extensive. Tent after canvas tent were lined up, all in period correct exhibit, if you don’t count the occasional Coke can on the table or in the hand of an overheated soldier wearing wool.

NatBridge 067

NatBridge 068

NatBridge 066

As campers, we are always interested in the cooking set-up. One of our friends with us this day is a blacksmith, so there is added interest in the iron pieces.

NatBridge 065

Banjo music could be heard drifting on the breeze.

NatBridge 071

Soldiers were cleaning their black-powder rifles.

NatBridge 072

Re-enacting is an activity that attracts whole families.

NatBridge 063

NatBridge 061

This boy and man were playing with toy soldiers-- blue and gray, of course!

NatBridge 070

And yes, I know the wagon is not period correct, but aren’t these two cousins just tooooo cute?

NatBridge 079