Monthly Archives: June 2010

Tap…Tap…Is this thing on?

I have been pretty out of touch lately…but I have an excuse, honestly!  We went to the beach at Topsail Island, NC!  We typically go to a beach somewhere in NC but this was our first year at Topsail (pronounced Top-sul).  Anyhow, I’ll get to the pics of me in a bikini later but first, let me tell you about the trip there.  From Charleston, we have to travel south on the WV turnpike which is a toll-road.  Typically we pay our 6 bucks each way and forget about it, but this year, we discovered something new…E-Z Pass!  I always figured those lanes that nobody used were for decoration only…or maybe WV got extra booths because they were on sale.  My sister-in-law educated us about the E-Z Pass system which is what those always-empty lanes are really for!

Emily went on down to the West Virginia Parkways Authority and bought our transponder.  Basically we just had to load a $20 credit on our device (which required a $5 refundable deposit).  The device hangs on the windshield behind the mirror and is out of sight.  Now get this, it took Emily mere minutes to fill out the paperwork (at a government agency) and walk out of the building with our very own you-can-use-the-empty-lane-on-the-toll-roads transponder.  Instead of the typical $2 per stop, with the E-Z Pass system, the toll is only $1.30…so on our trip, we saved$4.20 which almost covered my recommended daily allowance of Mountain Dew for the trip down.

Do you ever feel that special happy feeling down in your belly when you get to do something cool that puts you in front of other cars, saves you some money and speeds you on to the beach faster than normal?  Yeah, me too.  We took pictures of cars around us and the empty lanes each time we came upon a toll booth…I was like a kid in a toll booth shop!

The buzz around Charleston

Charleston is such a nice city.  For the most part, it is pretty laid back and a decent place to live.  But just yesterday, there was a something going on down by Women’s and Children’s Hospital at the Martin Marietta gravel yard.  Folks who were in the area said they heard a buzz, and then the sky was darkened by flying creatures that (they later found out) were scouting for a new home.  Eventually, the creatures found their mark…a swarm of bees landed on the stop light for the truck scales at the gravel yard…and that my friends, is why bees will never rule the world.

I am thankful that the yard guys (and gal) called WV DNR who called me.  I was able to run over at lunch yesterday and catch this excellent swarm.  They were pretty gentle and appeared to be healthy and vigorous.  After work (and hours after their capture so they had time to calm down), I was able to find a good looking queen so they should be a good colony.

Anyhow, I showed up to get these bees in my work clothes…you know, dress shoes, nice pants, etc.  I think I mentioned that the swarm was in a gravel yard, right?  It had rained the night before so it was a muddy mess (as was I).  Anyhow, the foreman brought me a ladder and stopped traffic on the scales and I was able to scoop the swarm into a cardboard box using a dust pan (yes, I have learned these tricks the hard way).  When on a ladder, it is best to have something light into which the bees can be placed for the trip down the ladder.  Old paper boxes work perfectly!  Anyhow, I scooped the majority of the bees into the box and carried it down the ladder where I dumped them into the hive I had waiting.  I waited about 10 minutes and the ones I missed smelled the queen in the hive and followed after her.  It’s just how swarm catching is supposed to go!

I love catching swarms.  I think my favorite part is the crowd that invariably gathers to “watch the crazy bee man on a ladder”.  The really cool part is when I (didn’t) load the hive into my van to drive them home.  The guys thought (not really, because I didn’t really do it) I was doubly crazy!  Anyhow, the folks at the gravel yard were really helpful and had lots of questions so this was, in all ways, a great swarm to catch!

More swarms…

We got the cable

When I was growing up, our town didn’t have cable as an option…it just hadn’t come yet. We survived (somehow) on only three channels that came in during the winter when the leaves were down. Sometime in high school (maybe 10th grade?) the cable finally made it to my town and we got it at our house. I was able to watch tv for those 2 years until college. During college I don’t think we had cable in our rooms. If we did, it was pitiful and we never watched it.

Re-runs...we gotta get the cable

Emily and I got married right out of college and headed to graduate school. We were beyond broke for the first 5 years we were married so we couldn’t afford to have cable (except for that one year we lived in a funeral home…but that’s another story). Once we got out of all of our schooling, we just didn’t bother to get cable. We were able to get the major broadcast stations on rabbit ears both in TN and here in WV.

Fast forward to a year or so ago…without cable we tend to read a lot. We read the Sookie Stackhouse novels (upon recommendation of Lacy) and really enjoyed them. A co-worker mentioned that there was an HBO series called TrueBlood which was loosely based on the novels and he had a copy of the first season.

My inspiration for the cable!

TrueBlood is very loosely based on the books but good in its own right. Make no mistake though, this is an HBO production so it is definitely not for the faint of heart…there is all sorts of NC-17 stuff in it (which is totally unlike the books…they are “clean”). Anyhow, it took a year for season 2 to be released on DVD and I was having no part of waiting another year to see what happened this season so I ordered “the cable” and it was installed this weekend. We call it “the cable” because the kids were asked a year or two ago what they wanted for Christmas…they replied, “the cable” like their aunt and uncle have.

Now honestly, the only reason we got cable was so we could watch TrueBlood. It premiered last night so I know we were cutting it close having it installed on Saturday. The cable guy was right on time and did a great job re-wiring the house. Apparently the previous time cable was installed in the house, the wiring rules were different…but whatever. So he gets everything hooked up and turns on the digital box which holds my beloved HBO…and it started rebooting over and over. I asked him to go get another one and he said he didn’t have a spare…but he could have one for us on Monday.

A little dark maybe?

Remember I mentioned I only got cable so I could watch the TrueBlood premier? Yeah, I was not exactly happy…we hauled butt down to the Cable store (they have on in our mall) to get a new box. Huh…Saturday…yeah, no one there at 5:06 pm. I was about to call the cable guy to come get all of his evil cable out of my house (see, I knew we were right all those years) when I decided to try the cable box one more time. For some reason, it worked fine after I re-connected it. It might have overheated or had a loose connection where it was previously installed. I don’t know…but I was able to watch TrueBlood so crisis was averted!

In side news, we also cancelled our (allegedly) 3 mb dsl service (which never clocked higher than 600kb) to get 10 mb service which actually tests at 10+ mb! And it keeps getting better! We also have our phone through the cable so we have caller id and all that stuff as well as unlimited long distance! Oh, I think I love the cable after all…


The kids first started archery about a year ago.  Since then, Isaac has participated in “Archery in the Schools” and the state tournament.  Abigail’s school doesn’t have that program yet but she loves to shoot when she can.  Back when we started this deal, I thought it would be a good family-together thing to do.  We didn’t really have the equipment or a range to make all that happen (I figure the city frowns on shooting a compound bow in the back yard).

Fast forward a bit…Isaac and Abigail both received bows as presents from their grandparents.  Last weekend Emily and the kids surprised me with an early father’s day present…my own bow!  And it’s camo!  The day they gave it to me, I decided we needed to make the “family shooting thing” happen (I wonder what sort of weird google searches will bring people to this page now!)

On Sunday we headed to Kanawha State Forest with Emily’s parents to be devoured by the mosquitoes try our luck at target shooting.  We started off a bit rough (and that was before we even started shooting), but once we got into the groove, we had a great time!  Isaac was able to do some “shooting while moving” exercises during which he shot a good bullseye from 15-20 yards.  Abigail did great also.  She is finally strong enough to draw the bow such that every single arrow she shot stuck!

Granddad and I had fun…that’s all I’ll say about that.  We didn’t have to comb the hillside which was covered in poison ivy and some sort of ridiculous scratchy plant which would make a nun cuss, too many times searching for arrows.  We did donate one arrow to the archery gods but we gained someone else’s previous sacrifice so it was a wash, arrow-wise!

Anyhow, it was a great time and we have a date to go back out this weekend to shoot some more!  I think we may have hit the nail on the head for a good family hobby!

Box wine and culture

Last Sunday we attended Symphony Sunday, a day of showcasing local orchestras, ensembles, etc culminating in a performance by the WV Symphony.  The University of Charleston opens its beautiful lawn to the crowd of several thousand people to enjoy the performances.

Boats always anchor near the lawn to hear the music
but they have to dodge the gigantic coal barges that pass by...
One of the views from our seats...the WV Capitol

It rained in the morning so we didn’t even think of attending many of the events, but by the early evening, all was clear so we packed up our lawn chairs and headed to Kanawha City (the part of the city where the University is located).  We tend to sit towards the back of the group as our kids need room to fully appreciate the event.  Many people with kids hang out there and it usually works out pretty well.

The Symphony chose a “Wizard of Oz” theme for their performances and played many numbers that were in or referenced the movie.  It was pretty cool aside from the fact that there were quiet parts of several songs which were inaudible from the back.  As my father-in-law says in reference to the violins, “they need to do more sawing and less plucking.”  If they added one more row of speakers, I bet we could hear the plucking too!

The WV Symphony...we were waaay back
The Capitol was beautiful at night though I think they need to check on seems to be leaning a bit

Anyhow, most of the performance was cool except for the pockets of white trash who decided to break out their boxes of wine and drink out of plastic dixie cups.  Now there is absolutely nothing wrong with box wine, but many of the folks put on airs of culture and high living.  As you might guess, they were as tacky and ridiculous as can be.  In my mind, I am thinking, “this ain’t high living…you fools are ignoring the music, drinking wine from a box and sitting on the wet grass in heels.  By the way, nice big wet spot on your butt…bring a chair next year.”    Folks came decked out in their Sunday best and did their very best to go on and on about their lives and generally make it hard to hear the music and even harder to ignore their inanity.

Ok, sorry…that all sounds like I didn’t have fun…I definitely did have fun.  We played some and we ate good ice cream and had a great time all together.  The WV Symphony is awesome and a great thing for the state.  The show always finishes with fireworks and that show was the highlight for most people there (based on the cheers).  It was a pretty cool show…a river barge floats into place on the river adjacent to the University’s lawn and we all get to see the show up close…

(Maybe the fireworks were my favorite part too…)


We always start the garden in early March by planting seeds…especially for tomatoes, cabbage, broccoli and peppers.  By the time May 10 (our somewhat official last frost date) rolls around, we have pretty good looking plants ready to go into the ground.  We plant by the signs too so we are particular about getting stuff planted at the right time.  We got our seeds planted at the right time and then we also go the plants stuck in the ground at the right time.  This year, we are participating in a test of “planting by the signs” sponsored by Blind Pig & the Acorn.  Basically we planted some squash seeds on the “right” date and some on the “wrong” date.  Lots of people are participating so it should be interesting to see what happens.

Anyhow, we got lots of stuff in the ground early in May but some stuff we have had to work on for timing reasons.  Two weekends ago we finally got the last of the garden planted.  Abigail was a huge help in getting our dry beans and pumpkins planted.  She marked our rows, planted some seeds, covered some seeds and laughed a lot.  It was a blast being all barefoot in the garden with my smelly little girl!

We checked the garden this weekend after a good rain and everything was up and looking good.  Emily’s Grandpa swears he went down in the morning one day before the rain and nothing was up.  A few hours later after the rain, everything had come up!  That would be cool to see!

So, we are planted and are mostly still weed-free!  Typically we stay ahead of the weeds pretty well so I think our time in the garden is about to increase like crazy!  No more clean fingernails or soft feet in our household!

Good fences make good neighbors!

And awesome fences are…well, what I built.  You probably remember that we got a dog a few months ago.  I honestly had no idea what sort of a pain dogs were, but alas, I have Ginny and she’s a good dog.  She loves being outside so I have no problem letting her stay outside during the day while we are at work.  The problem is that she has worn all the grass from her kennel and her outhouse is far too close to my house.

Like a good dog owner, I want to protect Ginny from neighborhood dogs as well as gypsies, tramps and thieves…and Cher.

Oh yeah, lets’ take a moment to listen to Cher when she still looked somewhat human:

Anyhow, our house didn’t have a fenced in area so my cheap-skate brain kicked in and I started digging fence post holes.  Actually, we first had to cut down a mess of a tree that was on the one corner of the property where the fence was to go.  The tree had grown up pretty badly into the power, phone and cable lines that run on the edge of our property.

I marked the lines
Camo AND a chainsaw!

Again, being cheap, I couldn’t see paying someone hundreds of dollars when I could crawl up on a conductive aluminum ladder near the power lines to cut the junk down.  Slowly but surely, I was able to pick away at the branches until I could safely drop the tree.  Once done, I commenced digging and have almost completed the fortress as Isaac likes to call it.

The tree used to be at that far corner

(we did chainlink on one side so Ginny would be able to see out)

So the fence will be great for keeping Ginny safe, but it also hides the mess that my neighbors leave about in their yard.  They collect animals and stuff and just seem to be unable to haul all their junk to the curb on trash day.  I won’t rant too long (but boy I could).

Our view (sometimes) of the neighbor's yard...before the fence. Yes, it is a chewed up couch cushion.

Let’s just say that the thousand bucks we spent on this fence has saved us many thousands in mental health bills.  Emily has found her zen place behind our new walls!