Monthly Archives: March 2011

We are so stupid…or…how my wife became the crazy cat woman

So just about a year ago, we found a little orange kitten on our doorstep.  We nursed it for weeks (my nipples are still sore), we helped it poop and it grew up to be an enthusiastic orange cat.  Somewhere around the same time we got a stray dog named Ginny from the pound.  She had parvo and fleas and whooping cough and scurvy and an ingrown toenail.  Well, she had some of that.  Anyhow, like Seph, the little orange cat, Ginny was fairly expensive.

We have had stray cats all around for quite awhile but today, one got too pathetic for us to watch any longer.  In a moment of weakness, we snatched her up and took her to the vet.  Several dollars later, we now have another cat in our household…another orange cat.

We have been calling this cat “Flash” since she first showed up on our doorstep last fall.  She was skinny and pathetic but seemed to perk right up with the food we left out for her.  She did great through the entire winter and seemed to be fine outside until recently.  We watched her go down hill for awhile but I could not stand seeing a cat die on my doorstep.  So, Flash makes 4 cats in our house.  FOUR FREAKIN’ CATS! (The other two)

Now you never hear about crazy cat men so I am sure this is all Emily’s fault.  She is the new crazy cat lady on our street.  We are so stupid…

Holy hail!

It has been pretty nice the last few days, and now, with the weekend approaching, it turns to junk.  Last night, just as I was driving home, it decided to come a gully washer (for you Yankees, that means it rained like crazy).  As I walked to the car, it poured and I got wet clear inside my skin.  About half way home, the rain turned to hail and all hail broke loose.  It quickly turned to hail-so-loud-I-coudn’t-hear-myself-yell-in-the-car hail.  I mean it put down hail and meant it.

A friend suggested the hail had challenged her car to a MMA fight and the winner was not clear.  That pretty well sums it up.  I am sure that if we see the sun again, I will have dents all over my car.  Poor Steve

Of course, hail is really ice and it became abundantly clear that I needed to be careful on the hail.  I slid at one stop sign which was an attention grabber.  Anyhow, I slowed down and got home just in time for it all to stop as fast as it started.

There were tons of blooms out and the bees had been busy on them.  It remains to be seen how the hail might affect the build-up of bees.  This is a critical time for them to be making more bees and collecting pollen and nectar.

I love spring for all of the new life that comes and the rain that sparks the world to green up again.  I might be able to do with out the hail though…just spring please!

Yellow one

When I was a kid, we always played “the punch buggy game” wherein you would search for Volkswagen bugs and smack the daylights out of your smaller, helpless brother, just hard enough to torment but not hard enough to leave a bruise so your mom and dad would ever know.  You know?  That game.  It was a bunch of fun but, of course, it became more and more rare to see them as time went on since they stopped production.  We stopped playing at some point.

Of course, VW now has the beetles and the advertising campaign that goes along with them.  Adults saying, “Green one” and slugging a co-worker’s arm.  My kids started playing that (was it a year ago?) and we still have a big competition pretty much every day to see who can rack up the most “hits”.  We do not actually hit each other but rather just collect points.

Some other friends play a game where they get points any time they see a yellow car.  We play that game too.  As we live near a 3 schools (who ever thought it was a good idea to put three large schools near each other?  I mean traffic…hello?!), there are numerous school buses which do indeed count.

Now, the holy grail of this game is the elusive yellow VW.  It’s double points you see.  We always require that someone else sees the car so no one can make up sightings, especially for yellow VWs.  For the kids, that puts them at a disadvantage since they are stuck in class all day or are riding with Emily or me who are always playing the game too.  I take a little extra liberty with the rules too.  All I need is proof of a sighting, so I take pictures of any yellow cars or VW beetles and text/email them to Emily and the kids.

All of these pictures are my trophies.  That’s right, I am on a constant VW safari across the hills and hollers of Charleston, West-by-God-Virginia.  I am on the hunt and I am a mighty hunter!

Does anyone else play these games?  All the time or just on trips?  Can you help fuel our madness?

Sore legs are nice sometimes

I had an itch.  I simply needed to walk in the woods.  This weekend was all sorts of busy but I was determined to get outside some and enjoy the sun.  Sure enough, the sun was out .  The wind couldn’t miss the fun though.  Honest to goodness, there were times when I thought I was going to blow away.

Anyhow, we wandered around in the hay field on our property for a little bit but the wind made it impossible to stay upright.  My parents tell a tale about taking my brother and me on a walk into the woods.  As the story goes, we started complaining while the house was still in sight.  Of course, as parents some times do, I think they embellished the tale a bit.  Still, we apparently were not good wilderness travelers.  My kids were flat out awesome and never complained once on our hike though.  We walked around for about 2 hours and the kids were awesome to watch.  Isaac plowed through the woods like a bull at first, but that slowed pretty quickly as he got into some serious thorns…Brer Rabbit he ain’t.  After he got some proper respect, it was pure delight to watch them as they wandered around and checked things out.

Isaac discovered the fun of crawling around in the stream that runs through the property.  I have a stream!  And a spring!  Somehow through the magic of the wood sprites, he did not get covered in mud.  Abigail, on the other hand was covered head to toe!  Anyhow, they were like  couple of…well, like a couple of kids in the woods!  Abigail found a bird’s nest that she wanted to put somewhere safe  She found a cool rock on which she could leave it. ( I have a rock!  And a stream!)  As she placed it just perfectly so the wind wouldn’t get ahold of it, she discovered a small snake.  I was sure she would freak but she was really cool and calm about it.  She wanted to touch it so I touched first so she would see that I am super cool and brave.  Both kids ended up touching the little snake and I figure he liked it too.

So, by the end of the day, we were all pretty tired and had sore legs from walking through the woods.  It’s one of those sore feelings though, that’s pretty nice when it comes down to it….plus, I have a stream!

Biker chick

When we live in Nashville, we had a really nice situation for walking and learning to ride bikes.  We had a flat acre of land on a dead-end street.  I bet we walked 5 days a week while Isaac was learning to ride his bike.  We started with a Red Rider tricycle, graduated through various plastic trikes and finally onto a 2-wheeler with training wheels.  We spent a bunch of time riding, now and then raising the training wheels a little so he would have to balance more and more on his own.  One day he had enough and asked me to take the trainers off completely.  I figured we were in for a few skinned knees, but I kid you not, he jumped on the bike and never wrecked a single time!  He was about 5 when he figured it all out.

Isaac’s first time riding w/o training wheels – 2005

We moved to WV when Abigail was 3 so she didn’t have much time to ride bikes like Isaac did.  There is plenty of land here in WV.  In fact, there may be more land here than in Nebraska.  WV is just wrinkled into a small package that is straight up and down!  So, learning to ride a bike here requires that you find a flat piece of ground somewhere.  Last weekend, Emily was at a training class so the kids and I headed over to the track at the nearby high school.  Even at almost-8, Abigail was still in training wheels on her bike.  Before heading to the track, I raised her training wheels a little so she would have to balance a little.

Click the image for a movie!

(Click here if the above movie will not play on your machine)

We walked a few laps and Abigail was beyond fed up.  She got so mad she said, “I wish you would just take those stupid training wheels off.”  Being a good Boy Scout, I had a wrench with me so I had them off in 5 minutes.  I helped her a few laps around but she pretty quickly caught on and is now officially a bike rider!  Now that I have no more training-wheel-encumbered kids in the house, I think I have finally figured out that training wheels do more to slow kids from learning to ride a bike than they help.

So, Abigail is now a biker chick.  She loves riding and wants to go all of the time!  I am super happy for her and so proud that she got mad and decided what she wanted…and made it happen!  Bikes first…next, the world!

Maple blooms

Last weekend when we had our first false spring, the maples really showed their stuff and bloomed beautifully.  The bees were out and about and desperate for an opportunity to stretch their wings and look for a bit of fresh nectar to eat.  Many folks fon’t know that maples have floral blooms (I guess as opposed to fungal blooms?)  Blooms on a maple are super tiny and most people  just think they are the beginnings of leaves on the trees.  Anyhow, with the warm weather and blooming maples, the bees were out in full force.  Tons of bees were dragging back all sorts of pollen also.  Pollen is the protein source for bees and early protein usually means that the queen can start ramping up egg production as soon as the weather stays warm enough, long enough.

Some beekeepers find it necessary to add pollen patties about this time of year to prime the queen for early egg production.  Of course, early eggs mean early bees which usually makes for a strong colony when the honey flow begins in a few weeks.  With so many maples so close, we do not need to put pollen into the hives.  I have been into the hives this time of year and sometimes there is so much pollen that I worry the queen won’t have room to lay.

Look closely at all of these pics…the yellow stuff on the bees’ back legs is pollen!

Anyhow, the bees were out and doing their thing and I, as always, decided to hang out near the hives and stick my nose into the doorways so I could smell the smells of the hive.  Unlike a few weeks ago, I managed to avoid being stung.  I love summer plenty but I think I might just like this time of year more than any other time.  This is the time of year when stuff starts to come alive again…including me!

I thought the pics were especially nice so I hope you enjoy my bees (from afar) as much as I do!


On Monday we signed the closing papers for the piece of property we bought (yeehaw!  Past tense!)  We have bought a few houses and been involved in a few other real-estate related things.  This is the first time we have done a transaction with absolutely no realtor involved.  And you know what…the process is not scary at all!

The previous owner put out a post on a message board I read, saying that she had some land for sale.  I saw it and emailed her (it’s cool that I already knew her from blogland…just didn’t know she was selling property).  We went up to visit and walked around the property with her husband.  My kids hung with her as she made apple butter.  They got to stir the big kettle she had over the fire and play in her yard where the turkeys gobbled to offer their greetings (or were they asking us to rescue them?  Not sure on that one…)  We took home some apple cider and a few days later discussed the deal we wanted to make.

After some time, we got back together when it was time to finish the deal.  I wrote up a sales contract all by myself.  Since I wrote it, I was able to have a little fun.  For instance, when you write a contract on a house, you usually say that you want the blinds, lights and toilet seat to remain.  There wasn’t anything like that on the property but I did lay claim to any indian arrowheads that are currently on the property.  No one cared…it was legit!

We worked with a banker and a closing attorney and they handled their details without any hassle at all.  So, on Monday, we decided to meet the sellers at a mom-and-pop restaurant in the nearby town and have breakfast.  Have you ever done a real-estate deal where you get to hang out with the other party?  I don’t know why the transaction of real-estate always seems to be built up as a contentious mess where the buyer and seller have to be kept apart.  I know it isn’t always that way, and I know that some deals are ugly, but being pals and eating breakfast before the deal was just plain awesome!

Anyhow, after we signed the papers, the sellers gave us 2 dozen eggs, fresh from their chickens and we headed to the property (in a downpour) to walk around.  I grew up in the country and had forgotten what rural sounds like.  In the rain, as I walked into the woods, all I could hear was water running in a stream.  I could not hear a single car or radio or another single person…only the woods.  I found deer trails and thickets and some awesome places for a zip-line.  I think I found a spring and a few places for a treehouse.

Even in the rain, I could not have been happier.  This whole deal was so simple and pleasant and I already love the place.  The deal is closed and I can once again lay claim to being a (part) country boy…