Friday, January 30, 2009

Feeling Better - Birding

Turkey Vulture

I walked outside yesterday.... I just need some sunshine and fresh air. I looked up and a Turkey Vulture was flying overhead. I was beginning to think he was circling for me. Today I feel that there really is hope that I might live :-)) I'm feeling much better.

I spent most of last night in bed. I got up several times coughing and came to my recliner at about 5 am. I got up and made coffee at about 7am. I could actually smell and taste coffee this morning. Frank is making chicken & rice today and it smells great!

I thought dressing would make me feel better yesterday, but I think that I felt cozier when I was wearing my pajamas. I don't think I'll get out of these flannel pjs until after lunch... then maybe I'll dress and walk around the yard... split the difference today.

I took the picture above a long time ago with my Sony f717. I think now with my Sony Alpha 700 and 300 mm lens that I could get a better picture.... but maybe not.. I'm just not very good at taking pictures of birds. I remember someone asking what camera I use and don't think I answered that question. I also have a Sony pocket-size camera model P200.

So I have three cameras. It started off being Sony brand because we have a Sony video camera and the Sony f717 uses the same battery and such.... so shared items. Then the Sony f717 had to be repaired... a free repair. While it was off being repaired I bought the Sony P2o0 because it was marked down and it would use the same memory stick as the other Sony camera and it was pocket-size. Then comes the Alpha 70o. I decided on it because Frank has a Minolta film camera. Lenses and external flashes could be shared. It's the domino effect ;-)

I hope one day to get better at taking bird pictures. It will just take practice and so many things have happened with my body since I got the Alpha 700 and I have not been able to do a lot of practice. Birds see the camera in my hand and they hide :-( I won't get discouraged though.

The picture below was taken with my Alpha 700 camera... not long after I got the camera. I was trying different settings with my camera and this style is called Neutral. I wish I had the camera set on normal settings, but the little flycatcher only gave me this one shot... so no time to change settings.

The flycatcher is an Ash-Throated Flycatcher and it is unusual to see them in our area. I had trouble IDing the flycatcher, so someone suggested to call the local Audubon Society. They did help me with the ID, but it turned out to be a mistake in calling them... I'll let you look at the bird before I tell the rest of the story.

Ash-Throated Flycatcher

The picture was taken on my parents' old homestead. For further ID the person that ID the bird for certain wanted to take a personal look at the bird. We had something going on and couldn't meet the person down there, but gave him directions.

After his visit he wanted other members of the Audubon Society to see the bird since it was so unusual. For some reason I couldn't go, but Frank had work to do down there and met them.

One of the birders was former Lt. Governor of Georgia, Pierre Howard. Frank said that he was just really a nice person. He sent us a very nice thank you card.

Frank warned the birders that there are rattle snakes down there and sink holes and things hidden in the leaves to stumble over and to be careful (this was the end of February last year). Frank said that I should have seen those crazy birders running after that little bird trying to get pictures. After Frank's warnings the birders were not looking where they where walking and running. Fortunately no one hurt themselves, but we decided that it was just too dangerous to allow them to continue to come.... so we put a stop to it. I was also feeling sorry for the poor little bird too.... who would want to be chased around like that and by a lot people (well a half dozen or more would be a lot to me). One birder even played a recording of the bird's mating call to get its attention.... just cruel!

Our neighbor said that for a couple of more weeks that people came and lined the edge of his property with cameras with long lenses chasing that bird from a distance. Amazing what a stir a little bird can make.

A couple more of the birders sent us thank you cards and one sent us a framed picture that she had taken of the bird.

If ever I see this little bird on the property again... or another bird that I can't ID... I will keep my mouth shut. It is just not worth it worrying if someone is going to get hurt or worrying if the bird will survive the stress.

I would love to be great at taking bird pictures... like my friend Didi . She is just super at it... my favorite are her hummingbird pictures.


Have you ever observed a humming-bird moving about in an aerial dance among the flowers - a living prismatic gem.... it is a creature of such fairy-like loveliness as to mock all description. -- W.H. Hudson, Green Mansions


Thursday, January 29, 2009

We're Slowly Getting Better

Vinca / Periwinkle

Just thought I would let y'all know that I'm still alive. Our head colds are still hanging on. We are slowly getting better. If the cough would just go away. Frank went out and bought some Mucinex Dm and hopefully that will help. I have spent most of Sunday, Monday and Tuesday nights and all of last night in my recliner. We are taking it as easy as we can.

I hope to read some of your blogs this afternoon.


Saturday, January 24, 2009

Meme -- Letter G

Orange Chrysanthemum

Leave a comment on this post and I will assign you a letter. Write about ten things you love that begin with said letter.

Post the list on your blog. When people comment on your list, you assign a letter, and the game continues. I will only assign a letter if you request it, so don't hesitate to comment ...

Dorothy over at Counting My Blessings assigned me the letter G.

  1. God. He is in my life every second of the day.

  2. Goff Family. Frank's parents are my second set of parents.

  3. Gadding about the countryside. It feels so relaxing to just ride and look at the fields, old farm houses and animals grazing.

  4. Gardens. I like the flower garden and Frank the vegetable garden. I'm not able to garden as I use to. I now grow what perennials I can in the flower beds that don't take a lot of care and grow flowers in pots.

  5. Garden Mums. After about eight years the ones in my flower pots looked scraggly and so I discarded them. I just couldn't keep the aphids out of them the last two years of their life. I like the red-orange ones and they were not available locally this year... so I missed seeing a lot of fall butterflies. You can see the mums in a couple of the butterfly pictures here.

  6. Genealogy. In school I was lousy at history. Now that I've worked on our genealogy I know a lot more world and USA history events than I did in school. I love the smell of the old musky books in the court houses. I love reading the records even when they aren't to do with my family so I help others out when I can... and for free within reason.

  7. Giggling. It just feels so good to get them out.

  8. Grilled shrimp. Frank just cooks them to perfection.

  9. Getting Frank's Goat. Some of you may not be familar with the phrase "get one's goat". Here is an explanation from World WideWords:
Though the phrase is recorded from near the beginning of the twentieth century, nobody seems to know where it comes from.
We do know it’s American. The earliest known reference to it is in a book, Life in Sing Sing, of 1904, in which goat is glossed as meaning anger. Examples begin to appear in the following years, with its becoming more widely known by about 1910 (an article in the Washington Post in September that year about superstitions connected with goats calls it “the modern slang expression”). Also in that year, Jack London included it in a letter: “Honestly, I believe I’ve got Samuels’ goat! He’s afraid to come back”.

The most common story to explain the phrase relates to horse racing in North America and to the common practice of putting a goat in the stall with a skittish thoroughbred racehorse to help calm it. Enterprising villains capitalised on this by gambling on the horse to lose and then stealing the goat. A substantial desire to suspend one’s disbelief is needed to accept this story at face value.

Other people have tried to identify it in some way with scapegoat, have seen it as a variant form of goad, and have linked it with an old French phrase prendre la chèvre (to take the goat). But evidence is lacking for all of them.

I like to irritate Frank just enough to get a smile out of him. He knows it is just something that I can't help. I have a bit of devil in me.

10. Georgia. I love living here. We have so much variety and beauty in Georgia... we have mountains and sea shores. ... we have pine tree forest and live oak tree groves. Most of the time our winters are mild and our summer are hot.

Please leave a comment. I will only assign a letter if you request one.

I may get behind on reading your blogs. I have a head cold. Frank has it worse. These are the first head colds we've had since January of 2004. I'm so glad they don't come often with us. When we had head colds last time we had to buy a new vaporizer and the date on the receipt is 20 Jan. 2004 and that is how we remember when :-)


How about a poem? In honor of the letter G...

Edgar A. Guest

We can be great by helping one another;
We can be loved for very simple deeds;
Who has the grateful mention of a brother
Has really all the honor that he needs.

We can be famous for our works of kindness --
Fame is not born alone of strength or skill;
It sometimes comes from deafness and from blindness
To petty words and faults, and loving still.

We can be rich in gentle smiles and sunny:
A jeweled soul exceeds a royal crown.
The richest men sometimes have little money,
And Croesus oft's the poorest man in town.


Friday, January 23, 2009

Butterfly Pictures -- Somebody's Praying

I read an entry entitled Butterfly over at Mildred's blog, Nalley Valley, and I really enjoyed the entry. It made me want to look at more butterflies. I thought as cold as it is where some of you are living that you might like to see butterflies too. So here are some of my butterfly pictures.

Gulf Fritillary

Gulf Fritillary "Agraulis vanillae"

Spicebush Swallowtail

Common Buckeye

Common Buckeye

Horace's Duskywing Skipper

Horace's Duskywing Skipper "Erynnis horatius"


Monarch Butterfly "Danaus plexippus"

Cloudless Sulphur

Cloudless Sulphur "Phoebis sennae"

Fiery Skipper

Fiery Skipper "Hylephila phyleus"

I hope you enjoyed looking at the butterflies as much as I did.

< < < < < < > > > > > >

The MRI of my neck did not show anything that could be causing the pain in my neck and shoulder and the numbness in my fingers. The nurse is going to ask the doctor what is the next step. The doctor's office is closed this afternoon... hopefully I will hear something by Monday... if not I'll make another appointment to see the doctor.

Sleep still is not pleasant, but I don't awaken as much as I did before the injections and the increase in one of my meds.

Thank you so much, Mildred, for pointing me towards this song, "Somebody's Praying" by Ricky Skaggs. I know the power of prayer. I appreciate everyone's prayers for me and Frank.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Cake & Keepsakes

Cake --

Frank made me a cake Sunday. He knew I was craving chocolate.... and he knows how I get when I crave chocolate and have none to eat. We had a chocolate cake mix in the cupboard, but no powdered sugar for frosting. So Frank turned to the checkered board cookbook and found a recipe for a coconut pecan icing. The cake is delish! I have the best Sweetheart!

Here is a photo of the cake. The recipe for the icing didn't say to roast pecan halves and place on top. It made the cake taste even better. One day I hope to learn how to photograph food properly :-)

Frank Made Me A Cake

Frank said as he made the cake he thought of how I used to say "why use a cake mix when it is just as easy to make one from scratch". Cake mixes taste a lot better than they used to. I still bake a cake from scratch most of the time. Actually I don't bake like I used to... a cake and cookies were baked every week. Now... maybe once a month. How things change.

Keepsakes --

I was looking through my boxes and drawers of keepsakes today looking for my Beatle cards. I did not find them. I did resist the urge to read the letters Frank wrote me while he was in college and basic training. I did read the letters Grandma wrote me to wish me a happy birthday.

I came across a silver dollar that my Daddy gave me when I was five years old. The Liberty Silver Dollars were beautiful coins. My coin has seen a lot of wear and probably is not worth more than a dollar. I treasure it because my Daddy gave it to me.

Silver Dollar

Silver Dollar

Here is another coin that I keep... I guess because it is different. I found in my locker at school when I was in the ninth grade. I never did find out who put it there. (I could not get the white balance righ...ugh)



I also came across this ragged picture of Ben Casey (Vincent Edwards). How I loved that show. I don't remember how I got the picture.


Do you remember (Denny) 'Scott' Miller from Wagon Train. My eighth grade teacher dated him when he came to Albany Georgia for the local version of the Jerry Lewis Telethon. I did not meet him, but our teacher... being an English teacher... had us write to him. We all received post cards from him. I imagine he had a secretary that typed out the letters and he signed Scott.



I wish I had taken better care of these items. They went through a lot of moves and two children.

Maybe I'll find more memories when I look for the Beatle cards again :-)

* * * * * * * * * * * *

The past is never dead, it is not even past. ~William Faulkner


Monday, January 19, 2009

Checks and Balances - Math

Yesterday I spent most of the day getting our checkbook up-to-date. My last entry was 09 November 2008. That is three bank statements. I have been checking our account online to make sure everything looked okay. Amazingly I didn't have too much problems balancing the checkbook. The big problem was I couldn't find a couple of debit card receipts. There were also a couple of changes in our regular deposits that I wasn't aware of... or probably was aware and forgot.

The past few months more checks were written. Most of the time we don't write checks. Bills are paid through electronic bill pay. The necessities are either paid for with cash or debit card. Sometimes the credit card is used, but not often.

I know there are computer programs for balancing checkbooks. I tried one of those programs one time. I hated it. I prefer a pencil, checkbook register and calculator. Alas, I used to be able to do it without a calculator.

My Daddy was amazing with math. My Daddy didn't have much schooling. He was a farmer for the first part of his life. By time I came along he was going to school to become an electrician. He went to school and worked at a drive-in theater to support his family (four children). He retained his math skills all his life.

I wish that I had inherited his skills with math. I barely passed algebra. Then geometry! I could never figure it out. I could come up with the right answer to a geometry problem, but couldn't arrive at the answer the way I was suppose to!

In seventh grade "New Math" was introduced to me. I decided to look up on the internet to see why it was called "New Math". This is part of what The Straight Dope had to say:

"In the fifteenth century, when German parents wanted their kids to learn addition and subtraction, they sent them to local universities. To get them to learn multiplication and division, however, they needed to send their kids to Italy for graduate school. The new math that arrived in Europe soon after, which transformed CCLXIV x MDCCCIV into a problem that we can teach to sixth graders, was truly revolutionary. The new math of the sixties was, well, like many other movements of the sixties, disruptive, despised, and moderately beneficial, and is now still around, but incognito.

After Sputnik was launched, Americans felt the schools were in crisis. The National Science Foundation (NSF), created in 1950 to promote basic scientific research, was expanded in 1957 and began to examine and promote change in secondary school education in math, biology, chemistry, and social sciences. The changes in the curricula and texts had a filter-down effect on the primary schools as well. The main thrust of these changes was a switch from teacher "telling" and student recitation to "inquiry" and "discovery," with the hope that students would be more likely to retain information they found out themselves than what was just told to them in lecture form and memorized. In the hard sciences, and to a lesser extent the social sciences, this was described as "hands-on learning." It's a teaching technique still held in high regard by educators and parents today."

My seventh grade teacher, Mr. Austin, he made "New" math very interesting. He tried to teach us to do some math with Chinese-Japanese number characters. If we did well with our math he would read us stories from a book compiled by Alfred Hitchcock. I loved hearing the stories and I loved watching the Alfred Hitchcock show on tv. So I did very well with the "New" math.

I seem to use math every day... sometimes not very well. How much do you use math in a day?

^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^

Still more astonishing is that world of rigorous fantasy we call mathematics. ~Gregory Bateson

If I'm losing balance in a pose, I stretch higher and God reaches down to steady me. It works every time, and not just in yoga. ~T. Guillemets


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Cape Flattery - Eagles


Mildred over at Nalley Valley was tagged to go to her fifth file folder and choose the fifth photo and post it and tell something about the photo. I decided I'd play along. Play along if you would like to too.

Well... in the fifth folder there were only four photos, so I decided to try the fifth folder in my email folder :-)

The file folder is one from our long trip last year. This photo was taken at Cape Flattery in Washington State which is the most northwestern point in the contiguous states and is the home of the Makah Nation. It was named in 1778 by Captain James Cook for the point of land that “flattered us with the hopes of finding a harbor.”

Click on image for larger view.

The days before we arrived at Cape Flattery the skies were very overcast and there was drizzling rain. So we were not expecting good weather at Cape Flattery. We were surprised as we drove onto the Makah Reservation the sun came out. Our hike on the Cape Flattery Trail was beautiful! The hike is only like ¾ of mile long.... on the way back it is twice as far :-) This is especially true when you carry a camera and tripod... Frank had two film cameras (one color film and one b&w film) plus the video camera.... he carried the tripod most of the way back.

The trail consist of boardwalk, stone and gravel steps. It was not the easiest trail (more so on the hike back to the parking lot) for this lady with a bad knee and asthma and hubby with a bad achilles tendon, but we did very well just taking our time.... I'm saying that if we can make the walk then you probably can too :-) It is a pleasant walk through a beautiful forest. As you get closer to the end of the trail there are views such as the one above. There was a harbor seal swimming there just before I took the picture :-( The water is so clear and beautiful.

Okay... I have to add more photos :-)

At the end of the trail is an observation deck. There was a young lady sitting there and she answered our questions. She had a telescope set up and we could see Cape Flattery Lighthouse located on Tatoosh Island. The first picture is with my regular camera lens with no zoom and the second picture is with my long 300mm lens and zoomed in.

Click on image for larger view.

Click on image for larger view.

It was just a wonderful feeling standing on the observation deck looking at all the beauty around.

Click on image for larger view.

Frank won't like me posting his photo, but it shows the Cape Flattery Trail. This is on the way back to the parking lot. There are some places that there are no boards, but round stepping stones.

Click on image for larger view.

After our hike we went back into the village, Neah Bay. The lady at the observation tower had told us there would probably be some seals down by the marina there. We saw no seals, but we saw Bald Eagles. These pictures were taken with my long 300mm lens. They aren't the sharpest pictures.... mainly because they are hand-held. The clouds started to roll back in and there was breeze that was quite cold. I was cold and excited... who can hold a camera still :-)

This photo is of a Juvenile Bald Eagle.

Click on image for larger view.

This picture.... well it was just awesome to see. The juvenile Bald Eagle... different one than in the above picture... in mid-flight grabbed onto the adult Bald Eagle. It wasn't an attack. He just grabbed and then let go. We saw a documentary on Eagles a while back and this behavior is not unusual... just unusual to me :-)

Click on image for larger view.

Sometimes I wish for a better lens.... or one that will focus closer to the subject matter and I would not have to crop the image. I know such a lens I would not be able to carry... it would be one like you see the paparazzi carrying :-)

If you can make a trip up the Oregon Coast to Washington State do so. It has to be the most beautiful scenery I've ever seen.

@~ @~ @~ @~ @~ @~

I awakened this morning feeling a bit sad. Nine years ago today Daddy passed away. The first thoughts of the day was the day he passed away. My Daddy died of Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. He also had a heart problem and they couldn't really treat one because of the other. It was hard watching my Daddy die. He lived for 79 years and he and Mama had over 54 years together.

Posting these pictures today lifted my spirits. Nature does that to me.

@~ @~ @~ @~ @~ @~

Nature is man's teacher. She unfolds her treasures to his search, unseals his eye, illumes his mind, and purifies his heart; an influence breathes from all the sights and sounds of her existence. -- Alfred Billings Street


Friday, January 16, 2009

MRI and Family History


Brr... high of only 44° today. That's cold for SW Georgia!

MRI --

I made it through the MRI ! It wasn't easy. My heart pounded the whole time. My nose was inches for the machine.. so really not much space. I could only see to my left a little. When the tech said this is the last set... I was so glad to hear that. Then she said she had to redo a bit. She said the reason being there was movement. There was no way I could move. My neck was cradled in a brace and she stuck something between it and my ears. She said the movement was probably caused by heavy breathing... and I was doing a lot of that! The noise of the machine was awful even with ear plugs. It seemed the louder the noise the heavier my breathing. I won't know anything until sometime next week.

Family History --

One of my hobbies is genealogy. I love going to courthouses and looking through records. It doesn't matter if the family is mine or not. I have to have Frank with me on such endeavors. The record books are big and heavy. It has been a while since we've been to a courthouse for research. Maybe a task for later this year. A lot of our vacations have been genealogy related... that is being hooked :-)

Jefferson Davis Memorial Historic Site in Irwinville Georgia houses some items of my family. The items are from my 2nd great grandmother, Penelope Ann Prudence Porter. She is the grandmother of my grandmother (my Grandma Swain who was pictured in my last post). My g-g-grandmother was born 22 June 1841 and died 16 July 1895. I don't have a cause of death for her. She was the mother of eight children with my g-g- grandfather, Julius Erasmus Porter; four girls and four boys. I know very little about her. Her marriage to my g-g-grandfather was her second marriage. She had one child from her first marriage who died in childhood. Her first husband died during The War Between The States. I don't have a record of her marriage to Julius... and I've looked everywhere that I can think of for it. They may have just jumped the broomstick.

Clicking on the pictures below should enlarge them.

The first picture is of blouses that Prudence wore... three names and in most records she is Prudence Ann. Prudence Ann owned land, so she was a woman of wealth.

Mildred over at Nalley Valley talked of mourning jewelry made from hair. My g-g-grandmother had mourning beads. They aren't made of hair. She probably did have some jewelry made from hair because of its popularity back then. I'm thinking she probably wore these when her first child died and when her first husband died.

This is one of her shawls. To me the fringe looks to be made from horse hair (with my family it could be mule hair). I couldn't find anything out about horse hair being used in shawls. I suppose the fringe could be from another type of animal hair.

I wish I had a picture of Prudence. A cousin sent me a scan of an old pamphlet with her picture, but all that shows in the scan is dots and no features can be made out.

There is suppose to be a picture of Julius E. Porter at the museum. It has been under restoration though and I have not seen it. I do have a picture of him and his second wife, Mary Ann. I'm just going to link to that picture . The spinning wheel is awesome!

Most of my family were poor sharecroppers. A few though owned a bit of land as my Porter ancestors. They still worked hard for their crops to have food on the table.

⌂ ⌂ ⌂ ⌂ ⌂ ⌂ ⌂ ⌂ ⌂ ⌂

I've had one of those days that it takes forever to type. So many typos... I transposed letters that are three leterts apart :-)

⌂ ⌂ ⌂ ⌂ ⌂ ⌂ ⌂ ⌂ ⌂ ⌂

This packrat has learned that what the next generation will value most is not what we owned, but the evidence of who we were and the tales of how we loved. In the end, it's the family stories that are worth the storage. --Ellen Goodman


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I'm a Claustrophobic


This is another one of "THOSE POST" that is mostly for my sanity :-)

I'm a claustrophobic... and tomorrow I have an "OPEN" MRI of my neck. I had an "OPEN" MRI a few months ago before my back surgery. There happened to be a small window in the room that I could see. My heart still sped away and I so wanted out from the MRI.. even though it was "OPEN". Tomorrow the MRI will be done at a different facility. I don't think there will be a window for escape. I used to be able to handle the CLOSED MRI. I would simply put my mind in a happy place. Why is it so hard to put mind in such a place now when I'm in a "panic attack" situation?

Was I always claustrophobic? I can remember being a child and playing Hide and Seek. I would hide in the top of closets and under beds... or outside in the dark of the bushes.

Becoming claustrophobic happened around the time of my Granddaddy Swain's passing. I was ten years old when he passed away (it is almost a sin in the South to say "died"). I can remember some things about him; like him putting sugar and canned milk into his coffee. He would pour the coffee back and forth between the saucer and cup to cool the coffee and then sip his coffee from the saucer. As he held the coffee cup and saucer together it would rattle as his hands shook. I can remember sitting in his lap and he would talk to me, but I cannot remember what he said.

When I was three or four years old Granddaddy and Daddy took me and my brothers down to the baptism pool of the church that my Granddaddy was caretaker of the cemetery. The pool was in the woods. My brothers and I jumped in and out of the water... the cool water felt so good on that hot summer day. I felt good as my Granddaddy caught me and lifted me to the side of the pool so I could jump in again.

I feel close to Granddaddy even though I remember only a few things about him. A few hours before he passed away he talked to me and my sister and told us how pretty we were in the dresses that Mama had made for us.

My Granddaddy passed away and they stopped all the clocks in the house. I don't remember what time it was. It felt so strange in the small house.... no clocks ticking and chiming... only people quietly murmuring and crying. I remember crying and my heart felt like it would explode.

After the death of my Granddaddy I started to have a dream. In the dream I'm a little girl... maybe five or six years old.... in an attic. In real life I remember no such attic as this one. It had old toys and books on shelves. A rocking horse in the corner and in the middle of the attic was a huge dome-lid trunk. I go near it and touch the top and as I do the lid to the trunk opens. There is my Granddaddy inside! He climbs out of the trunk... we caress and Granddaddy holds me in his arms as he reaches into the trunk for a book. Then Granddaddy closes the trunk lid and sits upon it. With me on his lap he begins to read the book. That is the end of my dream. I had this dream once or more a year up until I was in my mid-twenties.

Since this is a weird, but pleasant dream; I'm not sure what it has to do with being claustrophobic. This is the time... of my Granddaddy's death.. that I began to hate being in small areas with no window and doors closed. I hated being crunched up in the backseat of the car with my three brothers.

Now.... Elevators are awful.... a mirror in them doesn't help. The toy department of a store is even worse. Many times in a store I wait out on the main aisle for Frank if the aisle he is looking on is narrow and the shelves are high. I dislike waiting in the doctor's exam room. Sometimes I crack the door open until the doctor arrives.

I'm not afraid of death or dying. I'm terrified of being in small places with no window. Mice, rats and some other critters terrify me.... those fears are probably handed down from my mother. I can think of nothing that happened around my Granddaddy's death to me that would trigger claustrophobia. I was never shut in a closet or other small place that I can remember. I have no doubt that I will again see my Granddaddy.

Over the years deep, relaxing breathes have gotten me through my panic attacks and the ability to put my mind somewhere else. I'm losing the latter ability.

This is how I remember my grandparents.

Granddaddy is in his stocking feet. Grandma made her dresses. She looked through catalogs for dress styles she liked and then cut her a pattern from old newspapers. I saw her do it and it just amazed me that someone could be that talented.

Well... today... you know just how weird I am

♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠ ♠

Fear is that little darkroom where negatives are developed. -- Michael Pritchard

Monday, January 12, 2009

The Beetles


That's Beetles not Beatles

I'm not super great photography, but I'm trying to learn the art of it. I figure it doesn't matter if I get to super great... it only matters that "I enjoy photography"

My favorite things to photograph are insects. They are amazing! Today I want to share with you a bit about four beetles.... I know some of you are going eww! That is okay, I'm still that way with roaches and a few other insects and understand.

I chose three good beetles and one that is harmless in adult form, but in larvae form does damage. I hope you can get past eww! and open your mind up to the fascinating world of insects.

I'll tell you a bit about each beetle before showing you a picture.


The rhinoceros beetle is the world's strongest insect. The rhinoceros beetle can carry 850 times its own weight. That would be like an elephant carrying 850 elephants on its back. Using its horns it can dig its way out of a sticky situation by burying itself underground, escaping danger. Adult rhino beetles eat rotting fruit and sap; in spite of their size, they don't eat very much. The larvae, on the other hand, eat a great deal of rotting wood or the compost in which they live. In spite of their fierce appearance, they are all totally harmless: they cannot bite or sting or hurt you with their horns; the females have no horns. The horn of the male is not used for protection but rather for the occasional battle with another male over a feeding site. The victorious male with the feeding site can then often attract a mate.

Rhinoceros Beetle "Dynastes tityus"


Nearly two inches long and found across the eastern U.S. as far west as Texas, this gray and black and white insect is one of the largest members of the Click Beetle Family (Elateridae); the huge eyespots on its pronotum make it one of the most easily identified. These are "false eyes," of course... to scare off potential predators. The true eyes of the Eyed Click Beetle are much smaller and located at the bases of its heavily saw-toothed antennae.

Click Beetles like bees, ants, butterflies, and some other insect orders undergo a four-stage (complete) metamorphosis that includes the egg, larva (grub), pupa, and adult. Adults Click Beetles are harmless, but Click Beetle larvae cause significant agricultural and horticultural damage. Click Beetle grubs are also known as wireworms because of their elongated shape and hard exoskeletons. They live in soil or dead wood for two to ten years, depending on the species. During that time, they chow down on roots and stems including those attached to corn, potatoes, tobacco, turf grasses, garden ornamentals, and a variety of legumes.

Click Beetles when placed on their back ... or when grabbed by an insectivore ... bends its head and prothorax backward and then straightens out suddenly with a snapping motion, which results in an audible click and launches the beetle several inches into the air.

Other names for this beetle are: snapping beetle, skipjack and spring beetle.

Eyed Click Beetle  "Alaus oculatus"


The Grapevine Beetle is a member of the scarab beetle family. Scarabs are stout beetles with large heads and pronotums. Many scarabs have beautiful metallic colors. The scarab beetles' antennae are distinctive, clubbed and tipped with leaf-like plates called lamellae, that can be drawn into a compact ball, or fanned out when sensing odors. The front tibia are evolved for digging. The C-shaped larvae (grubs) are always pale yellow or white. Both adults and larvae are nocturnal.... but this one was out in daylight. The adults like grapevines (which they do very little damage to) and at night they like to gather around lights.

They also known as Spotted June Beetle or the Spotted Pelidnota

Grapevine Beetle "Pelidnota punctata"


In Europe, during the Middle Ages, insects were destroying the crops, so Catholic farmers prayed to the Virgin Mary for help. Soon the Ladybugs came, ate the plant-destroying pests and saved the crops! The farmers began calling the ladybugs "The Beetles of Our Lady", and they eventually became known as "Lady Beetles"! The red wings represented the Virgin's cloak and the black spots represented her joys and sorrows. Of course they are not all ladies

There are hundreds of different kinds of ladybugs over the world. There are about 500 different kinds in the United States and about 5000 world wide. They come in all different colors.... reds, yellows, orange, gray, black, brown and even pink.

You may have had ladybugs invade your home or a family or a friend's home. They are only trying to find a warm place. They get in through cracks in floor boards and around windows. Keep your home in good repair and you won't be swarmed with them.

Ladybugs eat Aphids they also feed on other soft bodied insects that feed on plants. One ladybug can eat up to 50 aphids a day. Ladybugs are your garden's friend!

The first picture below is the larvae of a Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle. It isn't as pretty as the adult pictured.

Also known as Lady Beetle and Ladybird.

Multicolored Asian Lady Beetle "Harmonia axyridis" Larva

Ladybug on Garden Mum - Explore 30 November 2007 #401

I hope you got over some of your eww! and enjoyed hearing about these four beetles.

I will include something about The Four Beatles. When I was in Jr. High School there were trading cards of the Beatles. I still have two of them hidden away somewhere... umm somewhere



Lady bug wears
An orange cape.
It opens up
And changes shape -

Now two wings lift her
into the air.
I wish I had
Such a cape to wear!

-- Dee Lillegard


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Corn Meal Sticks.. Cooking Talk

Today I made Corn Meal Sticks. I made them using my Corn Meal Muffin recipe. I omitted the sugar in these, but you can make them as sweet as you like

Corn Meal Sticks

Corn Meal Sticks

As I made these I thought of how I made cornbread when I was a teenager. Mama's mixing bowl looked a bit like this one:

The store-bought stone-ground cornmeal went into the bowl along with a certain amount of lard... I can't remember how much now. Then I ran the tap water until it got hot. I put the bowl in the sink and I had to add water.. a little at a time and squish the ingredients together. It sure did hurt squishing the gritty material with the water and lard. Then the concoction was poured into a cast iron fry pans. There are 5 children in my family, so two pans of cornbread were made.

When I got married I started using a spoon to mix the cornbread... the skin on my hands appreciated it. Years later Mama said she didn't know why it had to be squished by hand back then. She stopped squishing it by hand... but she can't remember when. Today I don't use this method at all for making cornbread. Now I prefer a Buttermilk Corn Bread. We grind our own cornmeal and now I can't stand to use meal sold in the store.

Did I tell you that the only whole meal I cooked before Frank and I got married was hamburgers and french fries? I think I was around 14 or 15 years old. Mama got caught up talking to Aunt Johnnie Pearl on the phone.... so very little directions from Mama. Other than that my only experiences of cooking was turning the meat, stirring the vegetables and making cornbread and biscuits. Frank says I sure fooled him

Frank complained of how small my biscuit were not long after we got married. So me taking after my Daddy (which some would call a smart-ass... excuse me if the term is offensive to you)... I made one huge biscuit that covered the cast iron 8" griddle pan. He used it to make a sandwich for lunch the next day. I haven't heard a peep about my biscuits being too small since then. I have on occasion made him an ex-large biscuit upon request.

Frank was puzzled as we began our marriage as to why I didn't know how to cut up a chicken. Mama didn't have a lot of time for teaching all of us the skills of cooking. So Frank taught me how to cut up a chicken. When our daughter, Sonja was about 12 or 13 years old I decided to teach her how to cut up a chicken. She was not keen on the idea. Sonja had a friend sleeping over that night and the friend wanted to learn how to cut up a chicken... so Sonja got trapped and had to learn. Since we had company I was cooking two chickens. So I helped two girls learn how to cut up chickens. I figured my children ought to know how to do these things before they were out on their own. They have both thanked me

Our son, David is two years younger than his sister. He has been interested in cooking since he was three years old. I started him off with hot dogs and scrambled eggs... not for the same meal. It worked out great that he learned how to cook. His wife, Tish does cook some, but David is the main cook in the house and out of the house with the grill. He cooks much better than I.

I don't enjoy cooking like I used to. I don't really know why. Now that Frank is home all the time he helps with the cooking.... well for a while he was doing all the cooking. I can't tell you how grateful that I am to have him as a husband.

Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside. -- Mark Twain