Sunday, October 31, 2010

Seasonal Penguin

Regular readers may recall the Christmas lawn decoration that remains out year-round and has the ability to be remade into something more appropriate for the season.

I last showed it in its patriotic get-up.

pat penguin

(I’m thinking the squirrels may have been taking a little of the tinsel to decorate their nests.)

Since then it has been ready for school.100_2588

Now it has its Halloween outfit.


Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Rock and the Hemlock

This huge hemlock at Anna Ruby Falls in north Georgia appeared to grow straight out of this outcropping of rock with no root support underneath.


Once we were on the other side, we could see the roots. From this angle, it appeared to be leaning on the rock.


As we walked further, we could see the hemlock was growing between the rocks.


It is probably a lesson in looking at more than one side of an issue.

Or remembering to support each other as we look toward the light.

Friday, October 29, 2010

And Just in Time for Halloween: Bats!

Our daughter-in-law spotted this pair snuggling and snoozing over our picnic table after our lunch. Pretty nifty find, K!


Alas, I have NO information to identify bats.

And by the way, we had PB and J’s---no nachos, no “guanomole”.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Just Milling Around

We stopped at the Nora Mill Granary just south of Helen, Georgia. The mill is a large four story building on the bank of the Chattahoochee River built in 1876.



The original millstones are still working to process wheat and corn and other grains which are sold in the store there.100_2855

It is a turbine system, not a waterwheel.100_2856

Here is the miller who has been there 15 years. He was very personable and volunteered much information about the turbine system.


Here is a view from the back porch.


Here is the same man doing “carry-out.” I assume those are fifty- pound bags.


I would highly recommend stopping by if you are in the area. There were antiques across the road, but we didn’t really have the time to go explore in there this trip. Nora Mill has on-line ordering as well.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Leaves Around Helen, Georgia

The sourwoods, the maples, the hickories!








Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Funny Papers


(Or not!)

No, they are not cheese hoops or cheesecakes or other cakes.

It is toilet paper!

We took a little camping trip up to north Georgia to see the fall leaves last weekend, taking advantage of the open weekend in the Seminole schedule.

We stopped in Thomasville for cheaper gas and in the restroom I was amused by this recycled, locked cabinet. I think it probably once held cigarettes, but now it holds the large rolls of toilet paper.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Don’t Have a Cow Ant

It was kind of hard to miss this flashy insect, even on the equally flashy marigolds.



Until I came across this one in our garden, I was unfamiliar with male cow ants, or cow killers. I did not know that the males have wings, while the females run around on the ground. I guess I had only noticed females before. It is easier for the males to hide up under foliage. What I did know is that cow ants are actually wasps.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dragon Root

B and I took the canoe and kayak out to Wacissa recently. It is really sad to realize how long those boats have been out of water. It was time.

The light was not good but it did not deter me from trying to take some pictures. Also, I am pretty sure this is the first time I have had the nerve to take my camera in the kayak. Even in flat water, taking decent pictures in a boat that is never still, is, well, challenging.

This tree root  caught my eye.


Here is what caught my attention:


Very dragon-like, don’t you think?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


On the fence line of our garden field is this chinaberry tree. Melia azedarach is in the mahogany family. Chinaberry trees are native to India, China and Australia and were introduced to the United States in the 1700’s by a French botanist. The tree was widely planted as an ornamental in the South and, once the seed were spread by birds, it came to be considered an exotic invasive, though it is not included on our official lists.


This hand-colored engraving of Chinaberry flowers and leaves was published in a London magazine in 1807.

18527.Meliaceae - Melia azedarach

Right now, this tree is loaded with chinaberries and as the leaves have dropped, they are easily seen.


The pictures above were taken at dusk. Here is one taken earlier to show the golden color of the fruit.



Now where’s a good pea-shooter when you need one?

I wonder if the PVC marshmallow guns would work.


(By the way, the fruit may look like tiny apples, but it is  highly toxic, so don’t inhale!)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Mailbox Monday: Mystery Mailbox

I got nothin’!

I really don’t know.


Anyone have any ideas about this mailbox design?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Beauty Cream

Beautyberry is a common native plant in our area. This time of year, you can see its clusters of bright purple berries lined up along  straight stems.




Recently we discovered this variation with cream colored berries.



Callicarpa americana is the formal name for our native beautyberry. It was reported by William Bartram that the native people in the southeast were growing it as crops when he passed through in the 1740’s. They used all parts of the plants for a variety of uses, including dyes, mosquito repellent, medicines, fish poison and for ceremonial purposes.

As we researched, we found two varieties of  beautyberry with a creamy white fruit but we do not know if this particular one is a native americana lactea or the hybrid. “Lactea” means “milky.”

Friday, October 15, 2010

Big Kitty

We went hiking in a new state park, St. Marks River State Park, on Sunday afternoon. The park is open but not yet developed ---and who knows when it will be. We were the only humans we saw in the couple of hours that we hiked five miles down a sandy road. The place has a very subtle beauty about it. Though it skirts along the St. Marks River, we were never within sight of it. The river floodplain was visible.

The sandy road was full of animal tracks. The light was better coming back out and we saw some very large ones that we tracked for some distance.  I was hoping for bear. We are reasonably sure they are panther tracks. They were the size of the palm of my hand.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Not Exactly Three Blind Mice

See how they run…etc

B moved the trap over near his potting shed and has begun catching rats again. We caught a bunch once before and to date have caught three in the past few days. The first one had only one eye.


We released them where we took the ones last year.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Car-eating Kudzu

B pointed out this car that the kudzu has entwined in its death grip.


We think it has succumbed.

Be careful choosing your parking place.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Porch Swing

I knew when we built the screen porch a year ago that I wanted a swing out there. I have been shopping in town and on-line for months to find just the right swing. For our 34th anniversary, we finally decided on one made of teak and we ordered it.

(Some assembly required.)


B had it together in no time.


We bought some teak oil and rubbed it down to increase its weather resistance.

The issue with having a screen roof, though, is that you have no beam for hanging a swing.

Therefore, a frame was needed. The frame you can see in the yard below was one B found in a trash pile along a road. Our original plan was to use that one.  It is a very large frame and was going to eat up a lot of space on the porch. The swing needed to be a five-foot swing, which is not nearly as common as a four-foot one. It is also not very high, which affects the swinging motion.  The more we searched for a swing we liked, the less suitable this frame seemed to be.

Apparently, the people who design most of the swing frames are very petite folks. The usual height was just over five feet. That did not seem adequate to us. So B  custom-made ours.

(It was a “cross to bear.”)


The base timbers are made from pressure treated 6x6’s and the others are 4x6’s. It is heavy. It took some planning to get it up.


But it is done, and we love it. It is very steady. I really like how the top beam visually disappears into the gutter behind.



We use it almost every day.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Mailbox Monday: Schoolhouse

For letters, don’t you know. (ABC’s, as well as, 1,2,3’s)100_2594

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Kiddie Circus

Every other year, two teachers at my school put on a little circus performance with their students who are five- and six-year-olds. We always look forward to it and our students thoroughly enjoy it.

There are the growling bears on tricycles and the talented pony riders (on stick horses),


the beautiful acrobats...


And the strong men….

Check out those muscles!


And the trained dogs…who can bark the answers to math problems.


Unfortunately, one was “injured” and had to leave with the vet.


The ferocious lions were a hit.



And what is a circus without clowns?

Here they were cleaning up after the ponies.


And here setting up for the strong men and dropping the barbells on their toes.


And here with their cars at the car wash.


Cute, cute, cute!


And valuable lessons for the children: following directions, memory practice for their routines, cooperative behavior, language development, as well as the other academic lessons that these teachers work into this unit, such as writing and art activities.

My hat is off to this year’s group!