Monthly Archives: July 2008

Yellow Squash!

yellow squash flower

Bumblebees in yellow squash flower

We harvested yellow summer squash on Saturday when my parents were here for a visit.  I didn’t count but I suppose we collected around 25 perfect sized squash.  We ate a bunch of it and gave some away.  I have a bunch of it in the dehydrator also.  Squash is around 94% water so dehydration can significantly reduce the volume for storage.  We haven’t tried to rehydrate and use squash yet but we have had luck with bell peppers and hot peppers.  I expect we’ll use it in with other stuff more than we will eat it in a squash-only dish.  We’ll see.  Bumblebee in yellow squash flower

Anyhow, I took some pics a while back of bumblebees in the squash flowers.  We have quite a few plants and there were tons (I didn’t count but I am positive it was over 100) bumblebees in the flowers.

Yellow squash on the vine

Many flowers had two or three bumblebees.  It is paying off now. Yellow squash harvest

I think the flowers must be too deep for my honeybees to get nectar from it as I never saw a single honeybee.  Anyhow, there are still a lot of flowers and bumblebees so I guess we’ll have a lot of squash.  I surely hope so…I love it!



Abigail\'s ShinerAbigail came home from church today with quite a shiner.  I asked her what happened and she said that her friend’s head was where she was putting her head.  I think Abigail took the worst of it but she seems in pretty good shape now! I am surprised that this is her first significant black eye the way she and her brother wrestle. I usually take the beating then I guess.

Belle on Charleston’s Levee!

Belle on the LeveeA few days ago I noticed this awesome sternwheeler docked at the levee.  The Cincinnati Belle spent 2 days docked at Haddad Riverfront park (the official name for the levee) and provided lunch and excursion trips (see the Gazette article).  I didn’t realize it was going to be here until it was too late for us to participate but it surely looked good on the water.  I hope they continue to dock here from time to time.  I would love to take the kids on a trip! 

I love driving home from work in the summer seeing all of the boats floating nearby waiting for Live on the Levee.  The levee is a fantastic part of the city and part of what makes the downtown so neat.  Maybe I need to get a boat!

WordPress 2.6 upgrade…oops!

I take it back! I take it all back! Abort your 2.6 upgrade. I write software for a living…I know what happens when stuff is first released! What was I thinking?!?!

Ok, get my point? It wasn’t all pretty afterall. Lots of good stuff but some stuff just doesn’t work as well as it should. e.g. image uploads were a mess for me…I think I will wait for v 2.6.1 or something. I was fortunate enough to have saved everything to roll back…and that was easy and went smoothly. Sorry for the false alarm!

WV Power Baseball!

Home Plate at Power ParkLast night we went to a WV Power baseball game. The kids were excited to go, but I think it was mainly because we said they could get a pop while there. Anyhow, the game started at 7:05 – the Power vs. the Columbus (SC) Catfish. We arrived a few minutes early and the pleading for drinks began. We squelched that issue pretty quickly by buying $12 worth of drinks. The postal service was promoting their new stamp commorating the 100th anniversary of the song, “Take Me Out to the Ball Game”. It looks like a pretty cool stamp, as stamps go. At Power ParkAnyhow, it was an absolutely perfect night for baseball and the Power did not disappoint, winning with a final score of 14-4. Now, to be honest, we are not a baseball family. We don’t play, we don’t watch, we just don’t care about it. In spite of that, the set-up at Appalachian Power Park is first-rate and we had a lot of fun just being around the fans and the event.





WordPress 2.6 Upgrade!

I just upgraded wordpress, the software I use to build this site. Version 2.6 was released in the last few days and adds a number of pretty nice features. I won’t go through them here but check out this video
for info on what has changed. All in all, the upgrade was extremely easy. I just made a backup of the database and my wp-content area. I stopped all wamp services just in case. My instructions didn’t explicitly say to stop them but from experience with Windows services, I figured it couldn’t hurt. The download for the new source was small and speedy. I unzipped and copied everything (except the wp-content dir) into the wordpress root and then carefully copied the new stuff from the downloaded wp-content over the appropriate items in my wp_content (I didn’t want to hammer my mods, themes, etc). I restarted all wamp services and logged in to the site. On initial login, I got a message that I needed to upgrade my database…and there was a nice button to push to take care of it. I pushed the button and 5 seconds later I was in. That’s it. I was so surprised at how easy it was. I haven’t figured out how useful some of the changes will be yet though I especially like captions for pictures and the supposed easier editing in the wysiwyg post/page creator. We’ll see how that part works out. Anyhow, congratulations wordpress for an awesome update!


On May 27, Emily and the kids witnessed a baby deer walk wobbly down into our yard.  The deer was all legs and was clearly very newly born.  The mother deer was nearby for awhile but we didn’t see where they went so assumed they left.  A little later, Abigail yelled, “I see a deer!”  I didn’t believe her at first but I followed her anyhow.  There, under a tree lay a baby deer all curled up.  The mother was no where to be found so we assumed she had abandoned her fawn.  We decided to wait it out a bit down on our patio.  Just a few minutes later, the fawn decided to come check us out.  It was so friendly that we couldn’t help but touch it.  I was concerned that we had ruined any chance of the mother accepting the baby again.  Still, we decided to wait it out, this time inside the house since the fawn curled up under our patio furniture.  Eventually (a long time later!), the mother came back through and picked up her fawn.  We hadn’t seen them in awhile but the other day, we saw them (or another family of deer?) in the yard.  This time, there were 2 fawns with the doe.  I was relieved to see that all was well!

The hard thing for me to believe is that there are so many deer in Charleston.  It was quite a thrill to see this all unfold.  We see deer several times a week eating apples at the neighbors’ apple trees or the new leaves on my raspberries.  I think we see more wild life here than we ever expected we would see in the city.  There are goods and bads about that but, I love that we get to see the deer so close!

New fawn

Isaac and the fawn

fawn knocking on the door

naptime for fawn


Family of deer

Smoked Ribs!

Smoker in action!
We had some friends over last night and decided to smoke some ribs on the smoker. We were gifted this smoker by a neighbor in TN. Anyhow, Emily bought 2 full racks of ribs which we covered with a dry rub. We used to get a rub mix in TN called “Butt Rub” but got something else here in WV. Anyhow, we rubbed the meat with it and waited for the charcoal to get ready. I always apply a generous dose of lighter fluid to the charcoal before I light it. I wait for it to burn down and then add another generous dose (don’t try this at home…I now have significantly less hair on my right leg as compared to my left leg). Once that flare up burns down, I add a pan of water, the meat racks and the meat. Ribs take around 5 hours to smoke if all goes well. I add hickory chips pretty often but not obsessively so. Sometimes I soak them overnight and sometimes I don’t. I don’t see too much difference really. Anyhow, the fire never needs tending…except to add more hickory now and then. We smoke a lot of different meats including whole chickens, salmon, pork chops, and steak. I haven’t found anything I don’t like on it. The meat is never dry (that’s why we add the pan of water) or tough. Most times, it falls right off the bones in fact. The only downside is that it takes a long time to cook, it can be hard to start a fire in the rain, and neighborhood dogs may become curious (who can blame them?)Smoked Ribs!

We had a debate last night regarding the benefits of dry rub versus wet sauce. We definitely prefer dry rub as it just seems more civilized. Ribs are pretty messy anyhow, but wet ribs are the worst. The compromise we worked out last night was to provide bbq sauce for anyone who wanted it (the uncivilized few!)



cabbage for kraut

Cabbage was done so we started a batch of sauerkraut yesterday morning.  Emily’s granddad picked the cabbage

Shredded cabbage

and her grandmother and I shredded 6 heads.  Our recipe said to work with 5 lbs of cabbage at a time so we shredded and weighed it head at a time.  Kraut is really simple to make…or at least set up.  We had a few stone crocks into which we packed 1/3 of the 5 lbs of cabbage, followed by 1 tbsp of salt.  I rolled the salt and cabbage together in the crock until it was mixed and the water was drawn out of the cabbage.  We repeated until we had 10 pounds of cabbage in the crock.  It as amazing how much water was stored in the cabbage.  By the time we got 10 lbs in, water covered the cabbage and had allowed the cabbage itself to pack down significantly.  We put a plate on top of the crock of kraut

cabbage and weighed it down with mason jars full of water.  I will check it every day for 3-4 weeks to remove scum that may buildup.  Our basement is 75 degrees which should allow the cabbage to ferment pretty quickly.  We’ll (hopefully) have good kraut to can at the end.weighted kraut

Chanterelle mushrooms!

We decided to venture into the woods a little last night to hunt for some mushrooms.  There are tons of mushrooms growing on the leaf-bed in the forest we wisited.  Some I know are edible like the chanterelles we harvested.  There are some that I know are not safe to eat and there are a lot I don’t know about.  A friend is teaching me about mushrooms because I want to be an old mushroom eater!  I took a bunch more pictures when I went mushroom hunting with her on July 4th.  Anyhow, last night Isaac, Emily and I hiked only a short distance before Isaac found a patch of wild blueberries so he remained occupied with that.  After gathering mushrooms, we found a patch of blackberries so we picked a bunch of them and made 9 more half-pints of jam.  I am amazed, now that I am looking, how much food is growing around us here in the Charleston city-limits…I am also amazed at how poison ivy grows around here!