Monthly Archives: August 2008

Isaac Flying!

Isaac getting ready to fly!

Our cousin “B” took Isaac flying last week while he was visiting in PA.  “B” was a pilot before he was a licensed driver and was absolutely great showing Isaac how everything worked and letting him really experience the flight.  Last year, Isaac flew with “B” but would not sit in the front seat.  This year when “B” offered, Isaac jumped at the chance to sit up front.  In fact, Isaac was able to do a lot more that just sit up front.Isaac in control!

Isaac likes to cut up a bit but Grandma said she had never seen him so serious as when he first touched the controls.

Grandma...hold on!

Once they got off the ground, the pilot and the “pilot” flew for about and hour and fifteen minutes and were able to see how the plane reacted to the controls.  Grandma was even able to keep her eyes uncovered for the entire time!

The view from above!

Even through the haze, the views were fantastic.  It surely is beautiful country, especially from the sky!

At the controls!

This is my favorite picture of the event!  Isaac has his eye on where he wants to go

Captain Patterson back on the ground

Back safely on the ground “B” gives Isaac his “wings”.  “How old do you have to be to learn to fly Dad?” was the first thing I heard when we talked about his flight.  I wonder that too…it’s about time we had another hobby, right Emily?


Food prices aren’t higher…

Original Size

Food is just smaller now!  We buy store brand cereal for Isaac and me to eat and I was surprised that the prices hadn’t really increased much lately.  I just noticed how they managed to keep the prices the same.  The older boxes we had were 14 oz, while the new ones are 12.25 oz.  I think I am a little irritated at this discovery as it is a trick.  I know prices are going up.  I expect it and I wouldn’t stop buying a product I like because the price goes up (within reason of course).  This is sneaky though…why not acknowledge the fact that stuff is getting more expensive rather than shave 1.75 oz from the product?  New Size

I am sure lots of companies are making this change so keep an eye out!


Some swarms

Post office swarm

This weekend was a busy one, swarm-wise.  I was monkeying around in the garden when I noticed a swarm out of one of my hives (dang it!) hanging on a rhubarb leaf.  I quickly saw the queen and placed the swarm, leaf and all, into an empty hive.  I waited around 5 minutes or so and watched as the queen casually walked out the door and flew back to the rhubarb patch.  I did this same routine 3 more times before it finally took (I think!).  I have never seen a swarm so stubborn!  Anyhow, I finished with them and headed home, planning to relax.  The postal sorting center in Charleston called and reported that they had a swarm on a pole in front of the employee entrance.  I can’t bear to let a swarm go so I packed up a hive box and headed into the city.  The picture above is of the post office swarm.  It was pretty small (like the rhubarb swarm) but I have too many bees in some other hives so I will try to balance them out.  This is the wrong time of year for swarms to do well through the winter but I may be able to baby them through.  We’ll see…

First Day of School!

Ready for school 2008

School is back in session.  Where has the summer gone?!  Isaac was not exactly excited to get back to school though he mentioned that he did miss seeing some of his friends.  I think he is secretly excited but didn’t want to admit it.  I suppose this might be the year when he starts saying one thing when he really means another.  We have to keep up an appearance afterall!  Anyhow, Abigail is excited to start but is pretty timid about it all too.  Ready for school 2008

She asked me to go over what she is supposed to do when she gets to school, where she is supposed to go, how far I will walk her and for how many days.  It’s pretty sweet but pretty scary for me too!
I asked the kids a few questions this morning about their first day of school.  Take a second and listen to what they had to say…

[audio:] [audio:]


Our campfire!

When I was a kid, we didn’t have air conditioning in our house so my Mom always cooked outside. Before sometime in junior high when we got a propane grill, she cooked on an open fire. My brother and I would hunt through the yard to find sticks that had fallen from trees and we’d make a great fire in the wheel-well that was our fire ring. We visited my hometown last weekend and had a lot of fun making a fire in that fire pit again. We cooked s’mores and played a little in the fire. Isaac and Abigail haven’t been around many campfires so throwing sticks and grass into the fire was a ton of fun! My Dad, uncle and I sat around it until past dark just chatting and having a good time.


Emily, my Mom and aunt were light-weights and headed inside with the kids when the mosquitoes got to be too much. I haven’t smelled like campfire in a long time but it was great for childhood memories…and not so great for my allergies. Still, I missed it a lot and think that we will have to spend more time around campfires.

Preschooler no more

Abigail at birth

Today is Abigail’s last day as a preschooler.    It seems like she was just born yesterday and here she is, about to enter kindergarten.  Isaac was born under stressful circumstances, 2 months early.  His birth was so odd…no waking up in the middle of the night, no throwing the suitcase in the trunk and heading to the hospital.  We just wanted him to survive (which he did of course!)  His birth was incredibly special, but I sort of wanted to wake up to labor pains, water breaking, scurrying around in the middle of the night, etc.  Abigail’s birth was scheduled since we were an at-risk pregnancy so I figured that we just wouldn’t have that experience.  Two days before she was scheduled to be born, she came the old fashioned way.  Emily woke and said it was time to go.  We couldn’t leave for the hospital, however, before she vacuumed the house, took a shower and painted her nails…at midnight or a little after.  Abigail’s birth was normal and perfect…and it seems like just yesterday.  My baby girl is about to start kindergarten.  She is no longer a preschooler.  I can’t believe it!  I just can’t believe it.  What happened to my baby?!
Abigail at 2 Abigail at 4

She is ready for school.  She is excited for school.  She already knows so much but wants to learn so much more.  I wish I was a little more ready.  I guess that’s what kids do…they move parents forward.
Abigail at 5
They make us keep growing.  I never knew why my parents were so strange…I think I understand now.  Growing up can be mighty tough on a mom and dad.

Shooting…for the first time

Line up the shot

My brother and I used to target shoot in the back yard all the time.  We shot thousands of rounds into the backstop that we had made out of logs.  Sometimes we shot .22, sometimes deer rifles and sometimes we shot skeet with shotguns.  I learned a lot about guns, about my brother (like don’t tangle with him…he’s a better shot), and about being outdoors.  When we got old enough, I suppose we shot every day after school.

Taking the shot

It was a great time of fun and friendship.  This weekend, I decided that Isaac needed to be initiated into the back-yard-shooter’s club.  My Dad and I talked with him extensively about firearm safety, how to aim and shoot, and how to take a little ribbing when we miss a shot.  Dad and I are right-handed and Isaac is left-handed

Did I hit?

so that introduced a little twist to the fun.  I expect Isaac and I will do some more practice in the coming months.  We’ll initiate Abigail when she gets a little older too!

Some Recipes

Salsa before cooking downWe’ve found a few recipes that we like a lot when we can stuff.  A few folks have asked for our the recipes we use so here they are…I credit the sources I know while others remain anonymous. 


 We can most stuff in pints because that suits our needs but I suppose you could adapt as needed.  These recipes work for us but you use them at your own risk.   Improper recipes, canning methods, etc can be dangerous.  More likely, with a little care, it will be a good time! 


Salsa – from my friend Erin

8 cups tomatoes, peeled, chopped, drained
2 1/2 cups onion, diced medium
1/8 cup canning salt
1 1/2 cups green peppers, small chunks
1 cup jalapeno diced fine
3+ habaneros (to taste…more is better!)
6 cloves minced garlic
2+ tsp pepper
1 small can of tomato paste
1/3 cup vinegar
2 tsp cumin
1/3 cup (or less) sugar
sometimes we add a bunch of cayenne pepper diced fine too…

Mix and boil 10 minutes, put into pint jars and seal in water bath for 10 minutes
Makes 5 pints

Pizza Sauce
12 cups chopped ripe tomatoes (Roma tomatoes give best results)
1 cup chopped onion
3 cloves minced garlic
3 tbsp fresh chopped oregano or 1 1/2 tsp dried
1 tbsp fresh basil or 1/2 tsp dried
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt

Combine tomatoes, onion, garlic, oregano, sugar, pepper and bay leaves and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat and boil gently uncovered until very thick (about 75 minutes), stirring frequently. Add lemon juice and salt, stir and ladle into 1/2 pint jars. Water bath can for 35 minutes. Makes 5 half-pints

Zucchini Pickles Achorn Farm
2 lbs. sliced zucchini
2 medium onions
1/4 cup salt
2 cups white vinegar
1-2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon celery seed
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons mustard seed
Place zucchini in a large pot. Add salt and enough water, cover and let stand for 2 hours then drain well. Combine remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Have glass jars prepared filled with the zucchini and onion then fill jars with boiled liquid, seal jars and boil jars for 10 minutes.

We’ve made this with yellow summer squash too…I suppose anything that will take up the flavors would work!


Hot Pepper Spread
28 or so hot peppers
8 regular peppers
1 qrt mustard
1 qrt sugar
1 cup vinegar

Chop peppers, mix ingredients and cook about 20 minutes. Be sure and spray pan with cooking spray as it sticks very easily. Have ready 1/2 cup corn starch. Add just enough water to corn starch to make a thin paste, then add to the pepper mix…let it thicken. Water bath can for 10 minutes in pint jars

Indian Festival

Every year, my hometown, Tionesta, PA, has its annual Indian Festival.

Indian Princess and Prince Indian festival heads

It’s long been a tradition for folks who grew up there to come back “home” for the Saturday parade and have a good time eating too much food and catching up. We attended this year and I saw a few folks I grew up with and I definitely ate too much. The festival is a week-long celebration.

Bad day at the office!

Initially, the festival highlighted Tionesta’s Native American roots, though it is only nominally related to that history now. Still, it is a small-town festival including a carnival, a parade, and lots of bad-for-you good food. We saw tons of firetrucks and a few politicians. To be a successful parade entrant, you must throw candy! My kids said so. Anyhow, it was a good time.

Buffalo soldiers

One thing I look forward to each year is the Vision Quest Buffalo Soldiers . These guys put on a pretty awesome march routine and are very fun to watch.

Hammer museum
I was also amused by the advertisement for the local Hammer Museum on one parade float. I have no idea what was on display but I will try to visit the next time I am in town!

Traveling West Virginia

Brad Rice from WCHS TV interviewed us for the Traveling West Virginia series.  He was pretty brave donning a bee suit and gloves.  Running the camera had to be an experience with the heavy leather gloves but he was able to get some great video to do his story.  We talked for about 2 hours about all sorts of bee-related topics and he produced this most excellent story about our meeting.  Within 5 minutes of the story’s first airing, I had 3 phone calls from people who wanted to buy honey!  My kids were SO excited to have Brad come and do the story and their biggest concern was whether they would be on t.v.  He was very gracious and assured them that they would have their chance at fame!