Monday, February 28, 2011

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Spotting Trout Lilies


A couple of weeks ago, I received an email from a friend that informed us of a spot in Grady County, Georgia where folks can go and see an amazing display of trout lilies. The site is only open from 1-4pm on selected days when the trout lilies are in bloom, which is only a few weeks. I was afraid that we were not going to be able to go as those limited hours are almost entirely contained within  my school day and it takes over an hour to drive there. However, we were able to go on Saturday, and we were so very glad we did.

Trout lilies are also known as dogtooth violets.

100_3598 Erythronium americanum  is more aptly named trout lily as the plant is not a violet, but a lily, and the trout-like mottling is also obvious on the leaves.


The plant is interesting. The flower is lovely. But it is the shear numbers that made it so fascinating. They claim there are millions. A trail has been set up to guide the visitor along a ridge and into a low area, circling back but lower than you were. As you look up the slope, the ground is covered with trout lilies and some trilliums.


This gives you the idea of some of the density.



The flowers are only open  for a couple of hours each afternoon when the sun is on them, making photographing them challenging. But goodness know, folks were out there trying!

Now imagine this whole area covered with trout lilies.


and this…


And on and on for acres in these relatively open woods. There probably are millions.


I noticed that as the yellow bloom fades, it takes on a more reddish hue.


We read that they are fertilized by ants. Those flowers grew a seed pod.


After the flower drops, only the seed pod is left behind.

This plant shows three stages going on.


At some point, I assume the seed pod will spring open, flinging the seeds to disperse them.

Here is the website for Wolf Creek Trout Lily Preserve:

It was well worth the  drive.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Cooking Big Bird

In a moment of questionable sanity our younger son ordered a free-range turkey for Thanksgiving. I say this because of the purchase price and also the size of the turkey. It was just under 30 pounds. Well, we went to my parents’ for Thanksgiving and Christmas and so this past weekend we had Valenturkey. Our three “kids” came here and we invited two friends to join us for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. The weather was beautiful and we were able to eat on the porch.

This was by far the biggest thing I have ever tried to cook and I will admit that I was rather intimidated by its size. Just thawing it took a week in our refrigerator. It was so solidly frozen that I joked that we could just turn off the refrigerator and everything would be kept cold for days.


There was also the matter of the pan for roasting it in. Nothing in our kitchen was large enough, so we ended up finding these giant aluminum ones in SAM’s that did the trick. I doubled them when I put it in the oven.


No cooking chart that I found went as high in weight as this big bird, so I just really had to guess how long it would take to get it done.

100_3542  Well, I was off an hour, but we had a good salad (made by the same son) and good company and some Fat Tire and other beer to pass the time as we waited.



It was good.

After turkey sandwiches on Sunday, we split it up three ways and began to reclaim our refrigerator.

I think this might be destined to be one of those memorable family stories.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Something For Everyone

I visited a cemetery recently and was surprised to learn of the wide variety of ways that folks have chosen to be remembered, and others have chosen to honor their departed loved ones.

I learned that it is now an option to have a scene etched on the memorial stone. This one shows a couple in a swing with the tractor and the Corvette in the yard.

100_3499 This scene shows a bulb garden and palms.

100_3498This fellow must have loved golf.

100_3508 I had to love this goat truck. That is the old name for the crane truck that lifts the citrus boxes and carries the fruit to the packing house or at least to the semi-truck.


There were several with semi-trucks etched on them.

A number of the stones had photographs. I was also interested in the solar lights that can be found at the grave sites.


This one has to be the most unique. It is a life-size motorcycle with a couple on it.


It would seem that there is indeed something for everyone.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Coots, More Coots and Moorhens

For the past couple of years, there have been hundreds of coots that have been wintering at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. There are always some, but it seems the population has exploded. You know how it is with the snowbird population!


They are just everywhere there’s water.


In contrast, you have to look to find these similar-looking moorhens. They are more shy but also sport quite the gaudy beak, sometimes referred to as “candy corn.”



Monday, February 21, 2011

Mailbox Monday: Chinese New Year Decor


100_3048 No dragon your feet out to get this mail!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Flies in His Eyes

My kindergartners sing a song called, “Flick a Fly.” There is a line in it that goes, “Flies in your eyes will drive you crazy! Flick that fly away!”

On a Monday this month, B had successful cataract surgery in one eye. A week later, he went back and had the other eye lasered to clear up the lens in it. Since then he has had floaters in that eye. He said at first he thought it was small flies and he batted at them.

Which brings to mind another song, “Shoo, Fly! Don’t Bother Me!”

Yesterday B said, “At least they aren’t fireflies and keep me awake at night!”

Today, the floaters are gone ---and the flies have flown away, too.

Thank goodness!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valentines Day at School

Well, I am here to tell you that elementary schools get into Valentines Day. (There is probably a law mandating that, too.)

We made valentines for our third grade reading buddies last week. They gave us theirs that they had made on Monday morning. Their teacher had taken pictures of the pairs of children and attached magnets. The frames were hearts.

We also had made valentines for our parents: two each, as some do not share households.

Finally, we made and decorated red bags to hold our valentines to take home.

On Monday morning, the kindergartners all arrived with their valentines for their classmates and all very excited about the occasion. Each child was given a class list two weeks ago with the homework that they do all of the writing: all of the names and signing.

So to begin with, they spread out their valentines so that they can read the names.


Then one at a time, I call them to stand in the front. Each child searches for the valentine they brought for that child. Then I call tables to come up to put the valentine in the bag as the child thanks each one.


When all of the valentines for that child have been received, that child returns to their seat and places their filled bag under their chair. And I call the next child to come up.

When all have been distributed, I spread the children out all around the room so that they can dump out their bag and not get everything all mixed up with one another’s. They are to read their valentines, or look at them as the case may be, and they get to choose any one package of candy to eat.  Everything else goes back in the bag to go home.

In the afternoon, we have a special snack.

It is a system I came up with years ago and it requires the children to practice a number of language arts skills while having fun.

The cutest valentine cards I have ever seen were made in the first grade class next door this year. Each child put on a cupid outfit, complete with red bow and arrow, and the teacher took their picture in a red-draped background, standing next to a plaster column. The pictures were just PRECIOUS!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Seeing Double Trouble

Grebe to Mrs. Grebe: “Honey, I might want to rethink that next beer, even if it is Super Bowl Sunday!”


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Pizza with Chopsticks

On Sunday, I had the honor and pleasure of attending the Chinese Association of Tallahassee’s Chinese New Year celebration in the ballroom at FSU. It is a large party for families. Over 300 tickets had been sold. I went as the guest of one my students and her family. I have heard of this gathering for years and now I have finally experienced it firsthand.


Each child received the traditional red envelope. Inside was a U.S. dollar.


There was a long buffet serving line of all kinds of delicious food. The big surprise to me was that at the end of the table, were boxes of pizza! Apparently, many of the children preferred this over the Chinese dishes. I was particularly impressed with the people who ate the pizza with their chopsticks!

100_3445The large viewing screen showed a recording of last Tuesday’s televised program from Beijing of the traditional New Year’s Eve show. Apparently, the guy in red has been the host since the show began in the 1980’s. He is China’s own Dick Clark. He is a comedian and is seen below doing his routine with his side-kicks.

100_3454The man beside me (the father of my student) kindly translated the routine for me.

What is a Chinese New Year without dancing dragons and lions? They had those, too.





There were several musical performances, both instrumental and vocal.

100_3469It was quite an interesting experience.

Perhaps nicest of all, was being able to connect and re-connect with several families whose children I have taught through the years. Four of my current or former students were there with their families. One of these former students is now in high school. Three other children that attend our school were also there.

Even though I was the only person at our table that does not speak Chinese, I never felt uncomfortable. Indeed, I felt that the adults around me made a great effort to see that I was not alone and that someone was there to talk to me in English. It was an afternoon I am not likely to forget.

Happy Chinese New Year!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Hornet’s Nest

We were driving through the Apalachicola National Forest when I noticed this hornet’s nest, high in a pine.


We stopped so I could take a couple of pictures.


I searched for the opening where the wasps come and go from; and I found it in the sun.


It was a cool day. There was no sign of the wasps. I read that the nest is generally abandoned for winter and not reused. The queen selects the location of the nest and begins building it. This queen obviously had no fear of heights. The nest itself is made of wood that the wasps strip and then chew and mix with a starch in their saliva.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


Along the beach at Cape San Blas was evidence that someone had been collecting the fatwood from old pines that once lived above the shoreline. There were several of these recently cut stumps.



We had to wonder to what purpose it was collected. The wood was really beautiful. So, hopefully, it was made into something beautiful and not just burned.