Wednesday, November 25, 2015


A few things I am thankful for during this holiday season:
 Family, a home in the great outdoors, plenty of food and warmth, a best friend who also happens to be my life partner, a beautiful daughter who is making her way in the world, animals I enjoy, a job that allows me to have a life outside of it, good health, and friends who are fun to hang around with.

  So, Glori got a little close. I love the trails around our home.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Mars, here we come!

Today was the Virginia Science Festival in Roanoke. I really enjoyed listening to the research being done to get humans to Mars. There is a special, light-weight material called zylon that can withstand very high temperatures (for entry) and is built into stacked rings to help with landings. This astronaut-model was present, illustrating the new and improved spacesuits. The material was strong but lightweight as well. So much STEM and STEAM taking place today with kids everywhere. It was GREAT!!!! Thanks to all sponsors for making this happen.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Snakes are not enemies!

This is mole kingsnake, left. It is a skinny, 2'-3' long snake that usually remains underground and eats insects, a few mice, and maybe some frogs here and there. Sure, if cornered it may bite, as any animal might. It is NOT a copperhead. I stopped a couple of men from killing one today because they said it was a copperhead. Please realize that copperheads (shown below) have distinctly triangular heads, an obvious pattern, and is much fatter/thicker around.

This guy, right, is a copperhead. These pictures are fairly to scale, so you can see how much fatter the copperhead is, plus the pattern and head that are very distinct.

Snakes are good to have around!!!! Please don't kill one just because it's there. I know, I know, some of you are terrified of them. Not sure why that is, but just leave them alone out in the world, and they'll leave you alone.

I've had black snakes in my barn. They keep the mice under control.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Red Bugs

I came across these tiny, soft bugs today. My camera is not adequate for taking close-ups of something this tiny, so I don't  have any individual creatures. They're sort of oblong, wider near the anterior, and can stretch out to look worm-like. If you have any idea what it might be, I would love to have your input. At first, I thought it was a fungus, but it was moving!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

April Flowers

Hiked up McAfee's Knob on Saturday. The day was perfect- sunny, upper 60's, and a nice breeze to cool me off just when I was getting a little warm. I took a small group of high school students who are  part of the science club. They were great and had a fun day enjoying the sights. Something I always want to instill in young people when they are out enjoying nature is this mantra: Take only pictures, leave only footprints. We all had reusable water bottles and the food containers/packaging we used were all carried out. They were not allowed to pick the flowers, no matter how tempting. These flowers were abundant along the beginning of the trail where sunlight was plentiful but filtered. The petals look like a phlox, but the leaves are serrated, so I cannot find a match in my wildflower guide. Are they Sweet Williams? Message me if you know! Click on the link below for more pictures.

McAfee's Knob pictures

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Signs of life

Since we had such late winter-like weather, my crocuses are late this year. So I am enjoying them now! The maples are casting a red hue over the forest, and my plums are pinkish. Daffodils have heavy heads, so I'm hoping they will open up tomorrow. With all of the trees shading my homestead, everything is just a tad later compared to town-folk. The creek is running strong and the breeze was warm today. Thank you sunshine!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Monday PunDay!!!

Think like a proton....always positive!!!

Spring is almost here!! Remember to wear green tomorrow.....avoid the pinch.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Ready for some Spring!

March is bringing us some rain today, of course, since it's Saturday. But the pasture is beginning to turn green, and the moss is perking up, so I am thankful for the rain. Looking forward to warm, not hot, sunny days when I can get outside to play in the dirt. The greenhouse near me is selling pansies, broccoli, and other cool weather plants, so I'm ready to start! I can't wait to plant my lettuce & radish seeds, and plant herbs for lovely cooking aromas. Ready for fresh after a winter of dried. This moss-covered rock outcrop is along the trail from my house through the woods to the creek and I always have to touch it as I walk by. I love that it is there since all my senses enjoy the moss stop: the forest smell of wood and leaves, the softness of the tiny leaf-like cover, the perfect green growth, and the singing birds calling and marking territory.  Respite from a busy week away from nature.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Henrietta Lacks

This beautiful woman passed away in 1951 from cervical cancer, but before that, unknown by her, cells were removed for use in cell research. Called HeLa cells, her cells were so durable, they were used  by Jonas Salk to develop the polio vaccine. The cells were cloned in 1955 and, since that time, over ten thousand patents involving HeLa cells have been registered. Researchers have used the cells to study disease and to test human sensitivity to new products and substances. 

Biographical site: Henrietta Lacks. (2015). The website. Retrieved 09:37, Mar 09, 2015, from

Friday, March 6, 2015

As a teacher, I have used this website to show  my students how consumerism is the ban of our existence. Corporations want us to buy, buy, buy so they can continue to make money, money, money. Don't make something that lasts forever! Change the fashions every year! Make the product better with more features every year! (cell phones? computers?) And we as consumers are made, by advertising, to feel like we HAVE to have the latest, we don't want to be out of fashion, and it is "cheaper" to buy new rather than fix what is broken. Visit the website and watch Annie Leonard's take on all of this. She has done her research. You don't have to agree with everything she says to still see that she is right in most instances. We need to change the way we view our stuff. I especially like "The Story of Solutions". Reduce the amount of stuff you use every day. Take reusable bags to the grocery store. Make your own dryer sheet out of sponges you can reuse. STOP buying plastic water bottles. So much waste.  Thank you. I hope you will make small changes here and there in your daily living. It all makes a difference.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Farewell Spock

I had heard the other day that Leonard Nimoy was hospitalized and could not remember why. This morning, I read the news that he died Friday from complications of COPD. His Twitter advice? "Don't smoke. I wish I never had." Even though he had quit smoking 30 years ago, complications occurred.
I was nine when the Apollo 11 astronauts landed on the moon, and watched Star Trek reruns as a young adult. Then later, fell in love with Star Trek: The Next Generation. The character of Spock was timeless. He appeared in all of the genres of the show, even the newer reboots of the movies. I think he touched a chord in many of us because he was of mixed race (half human-half Vulcan) and because he was the logical calm that I know I would like to be in stressful situations. Except for the two remakes, which I really like, my favorite Star Trek movie is IV: The Voyage Home. I most enjoyed the interaction between Spock and Captain Kirk while walking through modern-day Earth. The environmental plug was awesome as well. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it, even though it is a little dated now.
Farewell Leonard Nimoy. Your memory will live long and spark the imaginations of many.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Flooding due to climate change

Tidal Flooding to increase over the next 30 years

I know most of us in the East are dealing with snow right now, but spring is on its way, I promise!

The Union of Concerned Scientists has been gathering data and evidence of increasing flooding along the eastern and Gulf coasts due to rising sea levels. If you look at the US population distribution, you see that this will affect a large percentage of our people. We already know that New Orleans is below sea level, but most of coastal Florida is below ten feet above sea level. The Tidal flooding page shown above discusses how flooding will occur regularly based on monthly tide schedules. This site ( has a map of the US illustrating how rising sea levels will impact land area.

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images North America

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Throwback Thursday

These are my two sweet kitties, who are brothers, back in 2006. We had to keep them in a crate at first because they were feral-born, so were quite shy and wanted to hide behind furniture. With lots of love and handling, they got over that quickly and still entertain us today.

Currently, their hobby is bird-watching through the windows, which face all of the bird feeders. Sometimes I hear squeaky noises emanating from them, I guess imagining themselves out chasing a bird.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Mae Jemison

In honor of Black History Month, I would like to highlight a woman scientist! Dr. Jemison, also a physician, is the first African American woman to fly in space. She flew aboard the Endeavour in 1992. She also served in the Peace Corps before that, and currently has her own company researching the application of technology to daily life.Jemison's inspiration for joining NASA was African American actress Nichelle Nichols, who portrayed Lieutenant Uhura on Star Trek.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Winter Workhorse

This New Holland tractor & backhoe is used to dig water and sewer lines for new plumbing, or to repair/replace damaged lines. Thankfully, it is also very useful for clearing snow off of the driveway! Our neighbors are also very happy we have this around! We live in an area that is not at the top of the VDOT list of places to clear during inclement weather. The tractor is also handy when moving firewood from storage areas to the house, and for spreading mulch around the yard. Country living just about demands owning one. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Monday PunDay!

Because I love science and reading good books:

I'm reading a book about anti-gravity. I can't put it down!

Have a fun week everyone!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Winter scene

This is my neighbor's pond this morning. It's a good thing there are no ducks or geese using it currently! After a week of cold temps preventing any melting, we get another five inches with a layer of sleet on top. Dan cleared our driveway Saturday afternoon, only for it to be iced over. But, I now hear dripping on my roof, good news that temperatures are rising! Now if only the sun would come out. Everyone stay safe and warm!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Cute Archibald

Not the best photo (copied from a newspaper), but this red panda resides at Mill Mountain Zoo, accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The original was taken in the summer of 2014, so he is adult size now. He was one of two born at the zoo to the resident female, but was abandoned, so the zoo keepers had to raise him. Recently I read where the zoo is adopting another bottle-fed, abandoned red panda from another zoo to give him a companion. I am proud of this small, species-protecting zoo that focuses on education and maintaining the genetic diversity of the animals it has taken in. There are some birds of prey that were injured and therefore unable to survive in the wild. Most of the species kept at the zoo are under a species protection plan for breeding with other zoo animals, in order to protect the genetic diversity of that species.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Make a change, make a difference

I have noticed many organizations encouraging others to buy local, especially food from local farmers; avoid using chemicals, and to read your labels! More small farmers are setting up in local markets so the general public has access to their goods. I like this turn of events, and although I know it has been going on for quite sometime, not so much in the mainstream until more recently. I really enjoyed the "Tonight Show" plug for Fair Trade by Ben and Jerry's ice cream. They were on the other night, and it was wonderful to hear that they have gone 100% fair trade in their product. I will buy their ice cream for sure now! There is also a local homemade ice cream sold in my area, so competition continues. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Lunar New Year

What exactly is a lunar new year? This is not exactly science, but I am assuming it has a pagan background. Yesterday was a new moon, but there was one in January as well. But anyway, I want to see if you know your moon phases, and why they occur!

This illustration is excellent because it shows where the moon is in relation to Earth and the sun, and it shows what we see from Earth to make the phase. Notice that half of the moon (and Earth) are always illuminated by the sun, but due to the moon's position around Earth, we see different areas of the moon, some not illuminated. Since we are in the new moon phase today, the dark half of the moon is facing the Earth. It is called a new moon because the lunar cycle is starting again, a new cycle of moon phases. By the way, when we call it the "dark side of the moon", it's really the same side we see all along, because the same side of the moon always faces the Earth.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Snow of 2015

The first snowfall for Coopers Cove, 2015!
While the snow was falling on Monday, I tried my best to keep the feeders full of black oil sunflower seed and suet. The cardinals gathered in a flock. They are my favorite winter bird due to their beautiful plumage.  They also stand out and make great photo targets, especially for this novice photographer. I liked that both a male and female posed for me here. (All images taken with a Canon PowerShot SX30IS.)
 Again taken on Monday, Bo and I explored the creek in my "backyard", which is located in a slight valley between me and my neighbor. The creek is the unofficial property line, although it really is to us. We have had it officially surveyed.
Below, taken Tuesday morning in a place away from trees and the house. This is about as accurate a place that I can find. Thankfully, the snow is dry and fluffy, so it is easy to shovel. We were working on that this morning before the sun melts and weighs it down!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Monday PunDay

Monday Science Pun!!!!!

In honor of Harper Lee and science measurement terminology:

What do you call 2000 mockingbirds?
2 kilomockingbirds!!!!

Hahahaha.....just couldn't help it.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Super Bowl Football!!!!!
Langston Hughes Birthday!!!
The start of Heart Health month.

A lot of things happened today or on this date.  Of everything, I am most happy that winter is halfway over. Spring will be here sooner now. I will start pruning the forsythias, plum trees, and peach trees. Those pruned branches will be placed in water inside where it is warm. I always look forward to some early blooms. They inspire me and help me get through the last few weeks of winter.

BTW, Katy Perry's halftime show was awesome! Loved the lion at the beginning.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Trees are the most important organisms

You may have seen my references to trees before. They are the most important organisms on Earth, supplying shelter, food, fuel, and adding water back into the atmosphere after filtering it, preventing erosion, removing air pollutants, as well as providing shade and beauty. I know of no other organism that provides so much for other living organisms. Love them. Please help protect them!

Saturday, January 24, 2015


While discussing ways to reduce waste with my students this week, several told me they use paper plates daily for dinner. To them, they are cheap and don't have to be washed, apparently a dreaded chore. "What about a dishwasher?" I ask. Yes, they have one, but it's easier to throw away the plate. I had no response, except I did tell them that I felt sad inside.

The next day, one student, Kayla, brightly told me she has convinced her parents to start recycling the paper plates.

It's a start.


Monday, January 19, 2015

Where have I been?

To be honest, I do not know why I blog for awhile, then stop. I think I let too many unimportant time-suckers take over my life. Playing the card game Hearts against the computer is so addicting, but it wastes so much time! Stalking other people on Facebook is also wasteful, but I must see what's happening! How do I get so caught up in these things, when suddenly I only have 20 minutes to complete what I originally set out to do!?! I think I have developed adult-onset ADD, because it is hard for me to stay focused when I'm on the computer. I would love to hear how others eliminate the wasteful computer activities. Is it just practicing it like a new habit? I'm thinking maybe I need to get up and walk around a few minutes after, say 30 minutes, then go back. If you happen upon my blog, I would really like to get your comments about ways you avoid time-waste online. Maybe if I had some followers I would feel more committed! (hint, hint)