The Pathfinders presented the church service here at Holbrook yesterday morning, and that went pretty well. We did the same newscast/video that we did last week, and I did record it with my camera. Unfortunately, the result was pretty horrible, so I will not post it anywhere.

Then we had lunch, and after that, we piled into the vans and drove down to Heber to see the ponderosa pines. My strategy for this was to have Warran choose a destination and for him to drive the lead vehicle. We all just followed him.

Along the way, we came across a brush fire.

Brush Fire

Brush Fire


It had just started. A Sheriff was there, and the fire trucks were on the way. By the time we came back that way again, they had managed to put it out.

Warran found a place for us to park where there were trails through the ponderosas, so we pulled over and went for a hike. There was snow on the ground here and there, so the kids had a couple of snowball fights. In the desert. Cody made a snow angel:

Cody's Snow Angel

Cody's Snow Angel

We also saw a lot of animal tracks – mostly from a large dog, but also from some elk. The trail formed a loop which was nice. It’s always better to not have to turn around and see the same scenery.

Hiking through the Ponderosa

Hiking through the Ponderosa


We wanted to go farther down the road after that hike, but we were low on gas. So we headed back to HIS.

Since we were all together, we thought it would be a good idea to get a group photo. Here we are in front of the admin building at HIS.

Central NH Flames Pathfinder Club

Central NH Flames Pathfinder Club

Just after the sun went down, the three boys in our group and I looked for Mercury.

Sunset at HIS

Sunset at HIS


Venus, Jupiter, and a fresh crescent moon were easy to find, but we had to wait for it to get dark enough to find Mercury. We did find it, but I didn’t try to take a photo.

Saturday night is skate night at HIS, so we went to the gym for that. They have plenty of skates, so our kids got to skate with the HIS kids. They seemed to enjoy one another’s company. It was interesting to see how at first they stayed in their own groups, but eventually began to interact with one another. They made up some sort of game involving skates, a ball, and the basketball hoop. Pretty sure that would break every bone in my body!

Skating

Skating


Skateball

Skateball


On the way back to the dorms I dragged the kids behind the gym where we had a very good view to the south, and I showed them Canopus. Yup! It’s a star! I’m sure they all think I’m insane for getting so excited about seeing one particular star. I can’t explain it myself except to say that I am a complete and utter nerd. But now they can say they’ve seen a star never visible in New Hampshire.

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Back when we lived in Virginia and my sons were somewhere between maybe seven and ten years old, David (my younger son) had the idea that we should try to make some chocolate soup. I thought that sounded intriguing, so we hopped in the car and drove to a grocery store. We bought hot chocolate, chocolate syrup, Hershey kisses, M&M’s, and maybe six other types of chocolate candy. I can’t remember what all we put in it, but it was over $20 worth of chocolate.

Then we melted some of the chocolate in a pan, added the hot chocolate and syrup, and stirred in the various candies. Once it was done, with “done” being defined as “a little melty” we ladled it into some bowls, got out some soup spoons and sat down to sample our creation.

It was waaaay too rich. Not a one of use was able to eat more than about a half cup of chocolate soup, and believe me, I tried. So did the boys.

Turns out, too much of a good thing is a bad thing. Whodathunkit?

This blog reached a milestone today, by reaching the 20,000 hit mark. That’s not very impressive when you factor in the amount of time it’s been “alive” – three and a half years. That’s about 15 hits a day (though these days, I average about triple that per day). This will be the 941st post, and the blog has generated 879 comments (about half of which are mine).

I still enjoy blogging, so this will continue into the foreseeable future. I also enjoy reading other blogs, and the ones I read regularly are over there on the right in the blog roll.

Thank you for reading. And since most of my readers are also writers, thank you for writing too!

Moon Wasp

Moon Wasp


This evening I walked the trail through my wood lot. As I emerged from the forest, I spotted a dead wasp, head-down in a white pine sapling. It looks like she was mooning someone when she expired.

There were several ripe blackberries near the mooning wasp, and I ate several handfuls before deciding to capture one that was growing near the ground:

Ripe and juicy

Ripe and juicy


Incidentally, I have a new favorite way to eat these. I put about a half cup of vanilla ice cream in a bowl and then add about a cup of blackberries. Then I cover the whole thing with some Orange Crush dessert topping (basically, a syrup). Man… that is good. I had another bowl of that tonight. My hope is that since the bulk of this is fresh blackberries, it’s basically good for me (sugar from the ice cream and syrup aside).

As I made my way through the yard to check out the catchment pond, this little pickerel frog leaped out of my path.

Pickerel Frog (Rana palustris)

Pickerel Frog (Rana palustris)


I think this is the first one of these I’ve seen this summer.
They aren’t nearly as common as American toads, green frogs, bullfrogs, wood frogs, or spring peepers. Those six species are the only frogs I’ve seen on my property.

This morning I got up at the crack of 9:30 and set to work squaring the door to Beth’s bedroom. Shortly after we moved into this house (i.e., right after it was built), her door was unable to close. In the past, I would have whipped out a plane and a chisel. I’d have planed the top of the door, and I’d have moved the strike plate. Then the door would have closed and latched.

But these days I know better. The door is already square, and the strike plate was mounted in the jamb at the factory. It is already in the right place. What is not in the right place though, is the door frame itself. So I carefully pried off the facing, both inside and out. I had bought some shims yesterday, so I wedged them in at the top of the door, and tapped them in while checking the frame with a square. Once it was square, I quit tapping. I tested the door. It closed. It latched.

Then I went to the basement to scrounge up some finishing nails, but the only ones I could find were the wrong size. I needed little ones to attach the facing to the jamb, and larger ones to attach the facing to the wall. Plus I wanted a mondo finishing nail to spike through the door frame into the stud. It looked like a trip to the hardware store was in order.

Va and Beth came along too, and we pretty much made an afternoon of it. The first order of business was lunch at Pizza Hut. We saw our friend Sharon there with her daughter Sarah (who teaches fourth grade). In fact, we waited in line with them and had a nice chat. Va asked Sharon if she would run a booth during Camp In next month, and Sharon agreed (she’ll run the basketry booth). Sarah was interested too. She’ll either hang out with Sharon, or she’ll run the pottery booth, but she wants to check her schedule before committing (always a good idea).

Then we went Shaws, Home Depot (got some nails!), and Michael’s, where we bought a bird feeder for Beth. The other day Beth told me that she wanted to become an expert at birds, just like I’m and expert (her words!) in wild flowers. She wanted a book, and I told her we already had one. This morning she went outside with the book and my binoculars, but she came in disappointed after 15 minutes. No birds. I suggested a bird feeder, and she was delighted with that idea. So we picked one up for $2.50 (using a 50% off coupon).

Then we went to Walmart so I could get a new pair of glasses. I almost bought some a while back, but they were all so expensive, and my prescription hadn’t changed. However, I have a tax-free medical expense account that expires at the end of the year – if I don’t spend the money in it, it’s gone forever. So glasses sounded like a good idea.

My brother has been making fun of my glasses for about the past five years (which is about how long I’ve had this pair). “The lenses are HUGE! You look like a relic from the 70’s!” etc. Well Mike – maybe you’ll like these better. I put aside my own preferences in favor of yours. I hope you approve! I won’t get them until after the new year, but luckily, I got to pay for them today (before my money turns into a pumpkin!)

After Walmart, we went downtown, and I made the mistake of driving on Main Street. That’s usually dicey, and today, it was a particularly bad choice. They had torn out a lane and had a hydrant opened up, so traffic was a tad on the sluggish side. I parked at my office and dashed in for the Fedora DVD, but I couldn’t find Dennis. I figured he might be back in a few minutes, so I hustled down the street to the bank and made a deposit. Then high-tailed it back to the office. Still no Dennis. I checked my office on the odd chance that he might have left the DVD on my desk (I had Skyped him earlier and told him I might drop by). It was there! I went back to the car, and then we drove home again. My errand to buy some nails (I also bought some drill bits) only took three hours!

I finished Beth’s door to my satisfaction (it now closes and latches), but it will need to be repainted now. Nail holes.

Then I took Beth’s bird feeder to the basement and slapped a coat of varnish on it. While I had the can open, I also applied a coat to a dining room chair. That’s been on my to do list ever since we moved in here in 2004. I didn’t have any paint thinner or mineral spirits though, so the brush will be a lost cause. Maybe tomorrow I can run in and get some thinner and a new brush. With any luck, I might even get it all done in under three hours!

Black and Blueberry Dewberry Pie Update

Judgement is now unreserved, and it is delicious! It’s a bit too runny though. If I could do it over again, I’d add some cornstarch to thicken up the filling. But it sure tastes good. A dollop of ice cream is the perfect topping.