Monday, February 27, 2017

The HAM Radio Operator

Last fall, Pierce got hooked on Morse code.  He'd memorized it and was going around 'speaking' in Morse code.  I mentioned (casually - I had no idea where this was going to lead at the time) that HAM radio operators used Morse code sometimes.  Next thing I knew I was having to tell Pierce every bit my (very limited) knowledge of HAM radio. 

Pierce started studying for his license exam (issued by the FCC) in December.  He used a computer program that the local amateur radio club put on my laptop for him.  For Christmas, he got a small, handheld portable HAM radio.  He was able to listen in but wouldn't be able to talk on it until he passed his exam.

In January he sat for the test, which was offered at the Red Cross in Roanoke.  He was so excited when he passed at the technician level.  He is hoping to take the general level test at some point in the future.  But for now, he can finally talk on his radio.  He went to a local field day in January, where he got to try to make contact with people all over the nation.  He talked to people in places like Kansas and Tennessee.

It's kind of funny to look over and see your kid (who still likes to wear footie pjs) reading magazines on HAM radio for fun.  I think it's the sort of hobby that he'll be able to enjoy for many years to come. 

Monday, February 20, 2017


My parents got me a fermenting kit for Christmas.  It had been on my wish list for a very long time.  I have some old crocks that were my great grandmother's, but they have dangers of lead paint, so they no longer recommend these for fermenting.  This method is safer, plus it prevents mold from becoming an issue.  I took this picture right after I filled it up:
My first attempt was sauerkraut.  Sauerkraut is excellent for digestion, and is loaded with good bacteria for the gut.  I took at least a week for it to get the flavor I wanted.  Once it did, I capped off the top and moved it to the fridge. 

The boys love this.  Who would've thought?  Readers, do you have any good fermentation recipes for me?

Monday, February 13, 2017

Around the Garden

I've been trying to prep the garden some during the milder days.  I layered some sand in the area I plan to plant carrots this year (very excited - I ordered some purple ones).  I have been putting down hay and mulch, and hope to bring down some manure from the rabbits as well as my compost ball. 

I couldn't find any gardening gloves one day when I was pulling the last of the fall weeds, so I borrowed some from the boys. 

I installed a bean tree for my beans to grow up (last year's bean climbing devices left a lot to be desired.  And I ordered this year's fruit trees.  I think our self-pollinating pear from last year didn't make it, so that is being replaced for free.  In addition, I ordered another peach, two plum, and a cherry. 

Readers, have you started thinking about garden plans yet?

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Strange Guitar Happenings

I was sitting on the couch reading a book. 

It was quiet.

The boys were at school. 

It was a milder day than usual, so even the cats were outside. 

I'd done my chores for the morning and was deep in a novel when the guitar on the wall across from me plucked two notes. 

Two notes.

One right after the other.

I looked at it. 

No one was around.

No cats.

No boys.

No stinkbugs.

No earthquakes.

No explanations at all.

I googled for scientific explanations.  Was it the atmosphere?  We'd had a lot of rain.  I didn't find any logical answers.

I remembered my maternal grandfather always used to tell a story of attending the funeral of Uncle Bill and hearing a banjo play 2-3 notes at the wake.  I asked my mom if this was one of his tall tales.  She said no, that she was there too when that happened.

So I actually have a genetic heritage of hearing guitars play notes on their own.  It's in my genes.

How's that for scientific explanations?

Readers, you got any similar strange happenings to tell me?

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Winter Beach Fun, Part 2

I have a few more cell phone pics I wanted to share from our short trip to Myrtle beach. 

Here are the boys on the boardwalk.  It rained all morning but finally lifted in the afternoon.  We were glad we brought raincoats.  I love how quiet it is in the winter.  Mostly just older couples walking on the beach.  I guess a lot of kids had to go back to school before we did. 
The boys wanted to go to Ripley's Believe It or Not Odditorium.  They love the Ripley's books and are frequently checking them out of the library.

I have to admit the Odditorium was really fun.  Lots of quirks and history and some hands on, too.  Here, Pierce compares himself to a wax figure of the largest man. 

The boys loved this dizzy tunnel.  The lights are spinning a circle around you, and although the floor does not move, when you get in there it's very disorienting.  If you stand there for a minute it starts to feel like you are spinning yourself. 
There were other fun things like a scary mask with a jewel inside, that when you reached for it, sent out a big puff of air (I may possibly have jumped in the air and yelped over this.  Luckily, we were the only people in there at the time).  There were also some great computerized dance and fight simulations that we all loved. 

It was a fun little getaway.  I guess now I get to start planning my spring garden...

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Myrtle Beach in January

Since the boys had such a long winter break, we decided to take a brief road trip.  Hotels are so cheap at the beach this time of year, and I love the beach in winter.  I like that it's quiet and you can admire the scenery in peace.

It was so misty the day we got there that we couldn't see very far.  It was nice though - about 68*.

My aunt and uncle gave the boys gift cards for Christmas, and we used one to go to Ripley's Aquarium.  It was really fantastic. 

Something is so relaxing about watching sea creatures.  Pierce found one that he bonded with below.

The highlight was the shark tunnel, which was long and wrapped through the tunnels on a moving sidewalk, so my pictures were blurred.  Sharks were swimming on both sides and overhead - and there were so many different types of sharks.  But another highlight was petting moon jellyfish, which I caught below. 
We also pet some horseshoe crabs and some small sharks.  The aquarium is pricy, but I think it was worth it for all they have to see.  The boys and I all were amazed by the different sights there. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Winter Break Fun

We had a fun break over Christmas.  I didn't have to teach any classes and the boys were out of school for several weeks.  Here are a few things we did.

Cort asked for a cotton candy machine for Christmas, which my parents got him.  The blue raspberry turned his lips and tongue blue.

We went to the Martinsville science museum one day.  Pierce's preschool teacher, who has kept in touch with us over the years, came along.  We had an excellent time.  Below is Reid threading whale bones.  The highlight of the trip was when Mrs. Mack and I were chatting in the gift shop and heard Pierce behind us saying, "I'm feeling romantic!".  We both stopped and looked at each other in surprise, and then turned around to look at Pierce (who is a very concrete thinker and definitely doesn't go around talking about his emotions).  Turns out he had a mood ring on and was reading the color chart to see what his mood was.  Mrs. Mack and I laughed and laughed over that.

One day we went roller skating.  The boys had so much fun that we have decided to go roller skating a lot more often.  It really clicked for Reid and Cort this time, and they found themselves skating more confidently by the end. 
I have another winter break post coming up soon.  Readers, did you do anything fun over the holidays?