Sunday, June 24, 2012

An unwanted guest


I went to the farm this weekend and stayed at Mom & Dad's house. Saturday turned out to be a really tough day in all kinds of ways. Dad and I picked, shucked, and silked (and Mom prepped for freezing) some 80+ ears of corn. I hate silking corn. By the time we finished, it was nearly noon, and it was almost 90 degrees F. Or about 32 degrees C for the rest of the world out there.

Later in the afternoon, I realized there was something at the farmhouse I needed. So I walked over and went inside, not really thinking anything about it (it was, like, my third time over there that day anyway). Misha the cat greeted me with enthusiasm, and after taking a moment to pet her, I made my way into the bedroom.

That's when things got weird.

As I stepped from the hallway into the bedroom, I felt something brush across my ankle. I thought it was Misha, and I was going to reach down and pet her again, when suddenly I realized it wasn't Misha. IT WAS A FREAKING SNAKE . . . or "Ess", as I'm usually required to call them.


To say that I was shocked is an understatement, but I didn't lose my cool. After all, I don't have a snake phobia exactly. But I never in a million years expected to see one IN THE HOUSE. Especially in the BEDROOM.

It slithered under the piece of furniture that I call the Make-up Table, and halted in a corner between the make-up table and my closet.

In the meantime, I'm calling Misha and demanding for her to do something about THE INTRUDER.

Misha's really great about dealing with mice and other unwanted guests, so I figured she could deal with this bad boy (or girl), too. However, when she stepped close, the Ess began to hiss. Then it coiled up into the striking position.

So Misha backed off.

I reached into my jeans pocket for my cell phone, thinking I'd call Dad and let him deal with it. (All hail Dad! He can do anything!) Unfortunately, since I'd just changed clothes prior to coming over, I didn't have my phone with me.

So it was up to Me and Me alone.

OK, at this point I didn't know what type of Ess it was, except that it wasn't a Rattle Ess, because it had no rattlers. But I'm not taking any chances, you know? I ran out to the mud room and grabbed the most intimidating tool I could find - in this case a hoe - and took it to the bedroom. The unwanted guest was still backed into a corner, while Misha watched from several safe feet away.

At this point I kind of bashed the Ess across it's back with the flipside of the hoe. I wasn't trying to kill it, just to knock it out, sort of. And that's what happened. In fact, I almost felt a little bad thinking that maybe I had killed it, it was so limp.

I grabbed it with the hoe and managed to get it outside and start the trek over to Mom and Dad's house. It hung limply on the hoe for most of the way, but then it started moving again so I had to knock it out again. Finally, I had it in a sort of vice grip with the hoe, and was able to ring the doorbell. Dad came out and I told him the story so far.

I was kind of freaked out as you can probably imagine.

Dad took a look at the snake and said it was a harmless "chicken" snake, also called a "rat" snake because they often eat rodents. (I think they're called "chicken" snakes sometimes because they can sneak into chicken coops and eat the eggs.)

I said something about how it may be a harmless snake but it didn't have any business in my house, in my bedroom, and that if someone else instead of me had had the experience, there would have been a potentially serious problem.

I was still freaked out. But then for some reason, I almost started crying, because I remembered how it felt with the Ess brushed so gently against my ankle. Maybe it was just being friendly? Saying hi?

"So what do you want me to do with it?" Dad asked.

I thought for a moment. I actually pictured myself a judge, in court, maybe in Britain, with one of those white wigs on my head. Or maybe I was Judge Judy about to tell somebody off.

I had to make a decision. Fast.

"Execute it," was my reply. This coming from someone who isn't into the Death Penalty and who hates killing so much that I won't even squish spiders I find in the house -- I take them outside and flick them into the yard so they can live.

But before I could change my mind, Good Old Farmer Dad, who has three more decades of life experience and tons more farm experience than I do, had already done the deed.

I truly hope that the universe doesn't see this act as worthy of some sort of punishment, but seriously, I did have a guilt trip about it.

OK, a little one.

P.S. I didn't take a photo of the unwanted guest. I'm glad I didn't. It would have made me emotional to put it up here, and it would have made someone else scream.  So, no photos.

P.S.S. Oh, farm life.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Raise the roof

BEFORE - Front
AFTER - Front
We recently had a new roof put on the farmhouse. It really seems to brighten up the place! Now we're thinking about painting the siding a new color, and also painting the trim. Notice I said "thinking about" . . . we're not quite there yet. But it's fun looking at the possibilities available on the Valspar Paint program! :)

BEFORE - Rear (before the deck and fence)
AFTER - Rear (as of Saturday!)

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Gonna be a butterfly someday

I found this colorful creature (two of them, actually) hanging out in the parsley last time I was at the farm. I'm not 100% sure, but I think it's a Papilio polyxenes, or (future) black swallowtail butterfly. Someday soon, my little friend, you will have wings! :)

Sunday, June 10, 2012

New River Gorge

New River Gorge Bridge, West Virginia
Just returned from a weekend in the New River Gorge area of West Virginia. The main focus of our trip was to celebrate S's brother's birthday by going whitewater rafting in the New River. West Virginia is known for its amazing whitewater, and we weren't disappointed. Here's a view of the river, but you need to know that this photo was taken from some 700 feet above, so it's much larger than it appears.

The New River is not new at all but is one of the oldest rivers in North America.

Anyway, the rafting was AWESOME and so was the rest of our trip.

We stayed at a place called ACE Adventure Resort, so let me go ahead and give my plug now: Are you looking for a great place to to take a family vacation? ACE rocks, and there's something to do for all ages and abilities. So maybe you want to get away but you don't want to raft or kayak? Fine. You can play paintball, go horseback riding, hike, mountain bike, go on an ATV tour, and/or a bunch of other stuff. They even have a lake with lots of stuff to do in it, such as ziplining and jumping on a gigantic pillow. It's hard for me to explain that last one. You just have to see it.

The lake . . . and the gigantic pillow thing you can jump on. 

Who knew West Virginia had a beach? :)

We stayed in a log cabin that could have easily lodged eight people. That is, if the people were fairly close. Because if they weren't close, they would definitely be close before the trip was over. Seriously, the log cabin was awesome. We didn't turn on the TV, not once.

Our log cabin!

After we checked out this morning, S & I went off in search of good views of the New River and the awesome New River Gorge bridge, which you saw up above. That bridge is an amazing piece of structural engineering, so my photo doesn't do it justice. As we were nearing the end of our rafting trip yesterday, I SO WISH that I had my camera with me, because the view of the bridge from the river is stunning. But since I can't do that, let me direct you to the Wikipedia entry on the New River Bridge. Check it out.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Blue Ridge day tripping

View from one of the stops along the Blue Ridge Parkway just north of Highway 276.

[This is part 2 of the Asheville entry, which I posted last night.]

Sunday before Memorial Day, we left Asheville for a few hours in an effort to find some waterfalls. It was an interesting little side trip - heheh - let's just say that if you only key in "Looking Glass Falls" in your iPhone Map app you might just end up way off the beaten path in someone's backyard (and hearing the theme from Deliverance in your head). Or you might find yourself going in circles around the cute little town of Brevard, North Carolina (where we stumbled upon a quaint little coffee shop just in time for lunch . . . and then checked out the White Squirrel Festival!) We did eventually find Looking Glass Falls, and we drove the Blue Ridge Parkway back to Asheville.

Looking Glass Falls - we (finally) found it!!!
Another Blue Ridge Parkway stop.
Here it is! A stretch of the actual Blue Ridge Parkway.

I really like living just 2.5 hours from Asheville, and less than 2 hours from mountains. Thing is, we really need to get "up here" more often. Who's with me???

Monday, June 4, 2012


One of the many street musician acts downtown. And cute dogs, too.
We spent the Memorial Day holiday weekend in Asheville, North Carolina, which has now earned a permanent place in my list of favorite US cities. What makes it so special? Well, it's got a lot of things I like, such as:
  • a very walkable, interesting downtown
  • a vibrant music and arts scene
  • a wide variety of wonderful independent restaurants
  • a huge local food culture
  • several independent coffeehouses
  • lots of old hippies
  • lots of young hippies
  • mountains
  • history
  • a very cool independent bookstore (Malaprop's)
  • an awesome shoe store (Tops for Shoes
Pack Square
Downtown has some 40 restaurants, most of them independent. We wanted to try all of them, but alas, that was not possible (besides, it gives us another reason to go back). We had yummy coffee and pastries at the Old Europe Patisserie on Friday, and on Saturday we sampled a most excellent Indian buffet at Mela, fabulous chocolates from The Chocolate Fetish, and a fine breakfast-for-dinner at Early Girl Eatery. Please visit these websites to see the amazing menus . . . and visit these businesses when you're in Asheville!

View of downtown Asheville from the Grove Park Inn.
We also had a special BIRTHDAY meal in the Biltmore Village area at Rezaz Restaurant & Wine Bar, also known as Rezaz Mediterranean. Our dinner of grilled romaine salad, spring pea gnocchi, North Carolina trout (for S) and filet mignon (for moi) was followed by a shared slice of this lovely confection:

O.M.G. that's raspberry sorbet on top and port wine reduction on the side.
Another highlight of our Asheville-fest was seeing our friends A&M from Indy as they and their girls passed through on their way south for a family vacation. We met them on our first night, and shared a few hours together, including a meal at that Carolina institution known as FATZ.

Two full and two half days in Asheville, and no, we didn't go to the Biltmore Estate. Both of us have been before (although many, many years ago). Hopefully, we'll be making many more trips to Asheville, so we can do Biltmore some other time.

But we did take an interesting side trip. Come back in a few days if you want to read about that. :)

Friday, June 1, 2012

Asheville - coming soon

Spent Memorial Day weekend in the western North Carolina town of Asheville and the surrounding area. I've got some cool pictures and stories to share, and will try to have them up by early next week. Please check back!