Showing posts from June, 2009

A Day on the Lake

I'm milking my trip to my parents' place for yet another post. This time it's about the family enjoying a day on the lake together.

We started off with a nice ride around Lake Hartwell in a pontoon boat. Half of us were in the front, suffering in the hot and blazing sun, and the rest were being wienies in the shaded back.

It was actually quite pleasant in the sun as long as we were moving along quickly. Unfortunately there were quite a few ventures into scenic places that were "low wake" areas which translates to "go so slow that you literally broil in your own sweat" areas. Learn from my experience people: when it's hot, go fast!

As you can see in the picture below, even little boats with dogs in the front staring down the waves were going faster than we were. *sigh* Did I mention how hot it was?

In the next picture you can see us, lighter by a few pounds of sweat, heading back into the dock. Time to rehydrate! My brother was so eager to get back t…

Bees bug Me

By and large I don't mind insects. At least as long as they're not crawling on me, that is. In fact I love to take pictures of insects since they're so foreign looking.

But I draw the line when they sting me. And an unprovoked "sting" at that.

Take a gander at Exhibit A over there to the left. I know it looks weird from that angle but I assure you, it's just my arm. The back of the left arm, to be specific. That wrinkled thing is my left elbow pictured from the rear. Kinda freaky looking, huh?

Hmph. If we can get off the topic of how odd my arm looks for a moment, I'd like to point out how red and swollen the poor arm is. A bee or hornet---I never saw it so I'm not sure what it was---flew up to me and stung me as I was walking across my parent's driveway on Sunday evening just before I packed up my car for the trip home. It was odd 'cause I was just minding my own business, not near any nest or food source. Damn bugs!

The back of my arm still fe…

Dawn in Beaver Tunnel

I got another early start this morning and decided to try to get more pictures of the beaver in that tunnel.

This first picture is of my kayak on the dock as I walked down to the lake to get under way. It was still a little dark but the sun was almost up.

This next picture is of two beaver in that tunnel I mentioned yesterday. I was about 20 feet in, maybe 3/4 of the way, and the two beaver were warning me to stay back. I suspect their home was just on the other side of the tunnel.

It was too dark to see the critters clearly and even with the flash only their eyes were lit up. It was a little spooky 'cause they would slap their tails in warning--which is very loud in a small concrete tunnel--and each time it was a complete surprise since I had no visual cues that the noise was about to occur.

On the way back to my parents' house I met up with this Blue Heron. He seemed to be guarding a boathouse. As sentries go, he seemed quite serious. Maybe he was just scouting out the best fish…

Beaver in the Morning

This morning I got started before dawn and reached this cove just after the sun had risen. I posted about this place last March but back then the water level of the lake was about 15 feet lower. Instead of the pretty expanse of water pictured below, instead it was a stream of water flowing between high banks.

In any case, at the end of that body of water seen above, you can just barely see a concrete structure. That turns out to be a bridge with two tunnels---seen below---that allow water from the uphill side of the road to flow down into the lake. And apparently it also allows a colony of beavers to live on one side of the road and forage for food in the lake.

I tried to go through the tunnel in my kayak but I only got about 3/4 of the way through before my rudder grounded and I had to push myself back out backwards. Kinda got my claustrophobia thing going a little. Funny now, not so much then! The tunnel started seeming a whole lot narrower when I couldn't get the kayak to move …

Dawn to Day

I got an early start on the day due to Julie's help. Let's just say that not everyone sleeps silently...

And as a result I got to see the sun rise over the trees while kayaking up Lake Hartwell. I had to turn around to get this shot since the sun was rising behind me.

The weather was quite fickle though. While it dawned bright and clear, within 20 or 30 minutes it really clouded up quite a bit. In the picture below, taken around an hour later in a sailboat marina, the sky looked stormy and I was sure that it'd be pouring most of the way home.

That rain never materialized but the sky stayed overcast and stormy looking until around 11am. My glasses kept fogging up due to the high humidity outside and the amount of heat I was giving off. There's nothing like paddling in high 80s temps when there's no wind to speak of to make you really sweaty and hot.

It was a really nice day to take pictures but I sure was wishing for some wind...

South of the Border

Julie and I are on our first day of vacation down south.

Don't let the hat fool you, we're not vacationing in Mexico---we're only a little ways south. And no, we're not at that kitschy place on the SC/NC border either.

We are at my parent's place in South Carolina. For 4 days of sun, fun, and lots of heat. It's going to be in the low to mid-90s every damn day. *whew* I'm going to try to get out in the kayak every day but it's not going to be easy. And Julie insists on going with me. (ok, not so much)

Julie is more likely going to be pursuing dead folk. A lot of her family is buried in this county. As far as we know, the interring was done in a timely fashion and Julie wasn't directly involved. But I'm keeping my eyes open. Practically all night long, in fact, ever since she told me. When almost all a person's relatives are dead--you get a little suspicious!

And this is me coming back to the dock after a short paddle. I went out at 1pm and it…


I have this week off from work. Originally I was going to go to my parent's house for most of the week. Spend some time with them, catch up, all that.

But the plan changed and so I'm spending a few days at home instead--and then going to their house. Probably a good thing since there's a lot here that needs work. Today I spend 90 minutes mowing the back half of my lot. It was really overgrown from all the rain we had last week so I mowed on the highest setting. It's even now but it's still pretty deep out there.

See those berries over there? No, they're not from my lawn. It's not quite that overgrown out there. At lest not yet. Actually I went hiking in the late afternoon despite the heat and went back to that place with the gravel quarry, Occoneechee Mountain park. And that's where I got the picture of the berries.

I also wore those new shoes I posted about on Thursday to try them out. They were just a little tight but worked pretty well anyway. They'…

Weekend in Pictures

It was bloody hot here this weekend. Way up in the 90s on Saturday and in the low 90s both Friday night and Sunday.

It was not a weekend to be spending a lot of time outdoors---so we didn't. Cooking and reading were the name of the game this time.

I was reading Michael Connelly's new book The Scarecrow and Julie was reading an old favorite, PG Wodehouse's Carry On, Jeeves.

On the food side, we had rotisserie chicken and bakery bread on Friday night then used the leftover chicken to make risotto for Saturday with mushrooms and snow peas. Sunday morning had Julie making some Potatoes O'Brien and me eating them. A lovely division of labor, y'know? I can eat all day whereas I'm only good for an hour or so of cooking per day.

BTW, I really enjoyed The Scarecrow and heartily recommend it. It's currently on the Best Sellers list so you can get it at a good discount. It's the sequel to Connelly's book The Poet which was published way back in 1996. The Poet was…

Raindrops on Roses...

Kinda makes you think of show tunes, huh?

But that's not the subject here. Roses, like the one over there on the left, are just the starting point. And no, whiskers on kittens isn't the next point. Get your mind off that song!

This rose adorns a bush that is growing on the side of my backyard shed. I took the picture the evening I'd gotten so wet and dirty while hiking. Since I was already soaked, I didn't mind wading through the wet grass to take pictures of wet flowers. They're so much prettier when they have drops of water on them.

These might be going a little too far though. Since it was still raining when I took the pictures, there were raindrops all over and maybe the effect was a little too pronounced. Raindrops might be one of those things best left as an accent not the main course.

This next picture was taken just a foot or so away from the rose.

While I think the flower portion is pretty with its faint blue or purplish color, this weed is vicious. Admittedly …


UPS delivered a box to my house the other day. I had no idea what was in it since I didn't remember ordering anything.

I brought the box inside and opened it up. Inside the box I found a pair of Teva shoes. I DO NOT remember ordering them. I think I might have a problem!

Now don't get me wrong, I'm not sorry I ordered them. The price is great. I only buy things like this on clearance so that's not a problem but still... I should remember doing the shopping and buying. Shouldn't I???

Maybe I need some kind of Internet shopping 12-step program. They must have programs like that out there somewhere.

In any case, here's what they look like. They're nice. Just the sort of thing I wear.

I just wish I remembered buying them.

I really do find it a mite troubling... and what in hell is "spider rubber?"

Tuesday Evening Hike

I went on another group hike at the Occoneechee Mountain park yesterday after work. This time it was drizzling and cloudy so there wasn't much light for taking pictures. On the other hand, the greens of the trees and plants were so vibrant and everything smelled delightful. Except maybe me--I fell down a few times while bushwhacking. The ground was just too wet for good footing on steep slopes.

I really like the picture below. Just a mossy log in a sea of ferns but the colors are quite nice.

Same kind of color palette in this picture. What little sun there was lit the glade and gave nice fresh green colors whereas dark greens and browns predominated in the woods. It made for a nice picture illustrating the tonal difference in the two areas.

And here's the group I hiked with. We're all clustered at the base of the quarry walls, just before we moved on to the steep part of the hike. Incidentally, it was just a few minutes later that I started my falling exercise as I tried to b…

Wine in a box?

For as long as I can remember, people have looked down on folk that drank wine from a box.

That's probably because boxed wine is typically cheap and sold in grocery stores. Just not any snob appeal there.

But this might change soon. It seems that some scientists in Canada are reporting that multilayer aseptic cartons of wine (aka "boxed wines") may help reduce levels of substances that contribute odors to wine and can lower its quality. Neat, huh? Here's the reference if you want to read about it.

Dr. Gary Pickering, Chair & Professor of Biological Sciences/Wine Science at Brock University has conducted research showing that trace amounts of chemicals called alkyl-methoxypyrazines are generally negative to wine quality. The chemicals give wine an unpleasant green taste by masking the desirable fruity and floral flavors.

Pickering's results? Boxed wine had less alkyl-methoxypyrazines -- up to 45 percent less -- than any other type of packaging. Pretty impressive, …

Black Sheep

I watched an odd movie tonight. I actually posted about it two years ago but never got around to watching it until now. The name is Black Sheep and it's a black comedy horror flick out of New Zealand.

The movie pulled a 71% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and it deserves it. Over at IMDB it only got a 6/10 but I think they missed the humor. Maybe they just wanted a zombie flick. This film pokes fun at all sorts of targets. Global warming, environmentalists, genetic research, corporations, psychiatry, and of course sheep and the people that love them. The tag line for the movie is "There are 40 million sheep in New Zealand and they're pissed off" which reflects the movie's plot.

You see, apparently there was a little genetic experimentation done on some sheep and things went awry. Horribly awry. And those sheep started to like the taste of meat---human meat. Not so funny, huh? Well in the hands of the director, Jonathan King, it is funny. Oddly enough.

The film was releas…

Deck Farming

A few weeks ago while at Wal-mart, Julie and I picked up some plants. She picked up several spice plants like rosemary and sage and I picked up a green pepper plant.

Julie's been using the leaves from her spice plants for a while now but my peppers are only starting to get some size on them. But in a few more weeks... they'll be on the grill getting all tender and sweet. Yum.

Thunder and Lightning

A storm passed over last night and it was loud in both the visual and auditory sense. As you can see in the following 3 pictures, the storm definitely put on a display.

The first picture is from my front yard. I was sitting on my front steps until the rain hit and then I retreated slightly so the porch roof would keep me and my camera dry.

It was kinda odd. There was a good 45 minutes of strong windy thunderstorm before any rain hit. At first all the lightning was off to the west so it was understandable that the rain hadn't arrived yet. Yet even after I was getting pictures of lightning on the other side of my house, the east side, the rain still hadn't arrived. Odd.

These other two pictures are from the back of my house. I moved to this side after the wind driven rain in the front of the house made it too uncomfortable to take pictures there.

I took these shots about 2 minutes apart and they're the best two from the eastern side of my house. In all, I got about 20 pictures o…


This past weekend was interesting. Both Julie and I were feeling under the weather and never left the house.

She was having persistent migraines that just wouldn't leave for long and I was enduring an annoying sinus infection.

Just to keep busy, Julie decided to paint the master bathroom. A few years back I'd painted it red and did an absolutely horrible job of it. So last week when we were at Wal-mart I noticed some remaindered paint that was just $6 a gallon and decided it was time to brighten up the bathroom a little.

The paint color can be seen in that picture up there. Julie did the first coat on Saturday while I was mowing the yard and she did the second coat on Sunday while I was playing with the chipper / shredder for a few hours.

The color isn't the greatest but there weren't a whole lot of choices and this one fit our needs best. Julie did a great job applying the paint and now I just have to put all the hardware back up. I got started yesterday but decided not t…


I woke up early on Sunday and captured these images before the sun burned the dew off the plants.

As you can probably tell, I ramped up the green quality of the Lamb's Ear a little in Photoshop. They just looked a little too boring with just a muted green coloration. Like they should be called Sheep's Ear instead. Personally I think something named "lamb" should be a little brighter and more vivacious thus the help from Photoshop.

Rabbit and Dinner

Like the title says, we have a picture here of a rabbit and one of dinner. Both pictures taken today. It was a lovely sunny day with just a hint of threatening rain clouds in the distance. And that's not a metaphor for the rabbit either.