Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I say pecan, you say pee-can

For man, autumn is a time of harvest, of gathering together.

For nature, it is a time of sowing, of scattering abroad.

Edwin Way Teale · 1899-1980

Old-fashioned ingenuity:
Thanks to several pecan trees in my yard, I had the honor of inheriting my granddad's pecan picker upper. Although there's fancier and costlier gizmos on the market, I suspect this timeless design is still sold in county co-ops across Mississippi.
Granddad's pecan picker upper

Granddad's bountiful pecan harvests were a testament to this tool's usefulness. With his pecan picker upper in hand, he barely stopped long enough to pose for this photo before heading back out to gather more nuts:

Surrounded by a day's pecan harvest
C B Smith · circa 1988

Newfangled improvement:
Metal coffee cans were useful enough, but their heyday is over. Plastic containers like this one have a number of benefits to make the switch painless:

  • Sturdier lids
  • Lighter weight
  • Doesn't rust
  • Easy-grip handle for toteability
All of which makes them (you knew this was coming)
the perfect pee can.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Uncle Hugh's Gorilla Beans

The Gorilla Beans motto:

It's gonna be a long night.
Whenever I receive word that Hugh's paying a visit, I check the pantry for ingredients to fix one of his favorite foods. Hugh likes this side dish so well that he even dreamed up its special name: Gorilla Beans

A new family recipe that's
sure to be handed down for generations

Gorilla Beans ingredients

This makes enough to feed a half-dozen or more hungry mouths, but seconds are allowed only for those who don't share a bedroom.

Special touches:

  • Slow warming in a cast iron skillet adds authenticity and gives dinner guests the impression that you've "cooked something" for them.
  • Combine the two bean varieties with painstaking care, as demonstrated below.

Move over, Emeril!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Pore little thing

Crisis du Jour:

I was just trying to put the cat out!

But when I cracked the front door open a few inches, a critter flew inside. One that's bigger, faster and lots more frantic than a June bug.

Although I've admired this wren (or one like it) around the yard since last Spring, both the bird and I wanted it to return to the great outdoors.

Since timing was bad for a portrait,
this image is courtesy of Hilton Pond Center

The good news:
After the wren flew itself half to death, it sat on the floor and awaited its fate, where I captured it using my proven catch-and-release method. This worked on a lizard that I discovered indoors last summer, and also for my mother when she removed a varmint from her home last month:

  • Corral the animal under a plastic bowl.
  • Slowly and carefully to avoid injury, slide one of those thin flexible cutting mats underneath it.
  • Then slide a sturdy surface (like a large cutting board) under the flimsy mat.
  • Carry the corraled animal back outdoors where it belongs and set it free!
The bad news:
As I sat here composing the happy ending to this story, there was a loud KATHUNK from the patio. I glanced up to see a big ole bird of prey (either hawk or owl) sitting amongst the crabapples. It promptly took off for the woods, probably with the exhausted wren in its clutches.

As my little friend was being torn apart, I stepped out back and noticed a tiny cup of water I'd kept in its favorite container plant since July. Nature can be so cruel.

On a lighter note ...
As for the cat, it's the most fun she's had all month. Come to think of it, it's also the best physical exercise either of us has had since the last unwanted creature got in the house.

Saturday, October 11, 2008


Crisis du Jour:

Another swarm of June bugs ... in October!

This current deluge isn't just annoying like its predecessors; it's downright dangerous. I didn't dare let the cat out for fear she'd be pummeled half to death. Some wise guy has swapped out one of the standard bulbs in the Bug Killer Fan with a black light, and I can't help but wonder if it's to blame for attracting these critters.

I realize that among the twigs and toad poop, it looks as though this speedy guy was the only survivor, but this new variety's hardy and he had plenty of company:

Maybe they're migrating south for the winter? (That's just my way of hoping they were here for only an overnight stay.)

Sunday, October 05, 2008

In the spotlight

There's a new celebrity in the family ...

and it's my Daddy!

The lengthy story that appeared in Weeks Bay Reserve's recent Pelican Post newsletter was way too long to fit here, so I've omitted much of the bio, along with telltale identifying information (to discourage paparazzi and creepy weirdos from hunting him down). What's left are its most important points:

  • They're delighted he's arrived.
  • They've realized how fortunate they are to have him as part of the Weeks Bay Reserve team.
  • He's a treasured volunteer!
  • And I couldn't bear to remove that handsome mugshot.

Still too small to read? Click the image to enlarge
Weeks Bay newsletter - The Pelican Post