Monday, November 30, 2009

Grandma's Birthday!

We went into Southie yesterday to celebrate my Grandma's birthday. I had a blast playing with the little cousins and coloring in their coloring books.
Maggie's cute little piggies:

This is the newest addition to our family - sweet, sweet Molly Rose!
Here's Molly with her Auntie Tammi and cousin James.
My mumma (making a weird face) and my Grandma Dottie!
Grandma Dottie and Grandpa George with four of their seven great-grand children!
This is my cousin Billy.
And cousin Tammi.

And my friend Jack who was concentrating very hard on coloring this picture!
My Uncle Tom with Molly Rose.
Cutie pie Meghan!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Shitty Shitty Bang Bang

My car crapped the bed a few days ago. I don't know how I drove it the last two days I did. It was accelerating like a snail and belching smoke like a coal factory. The check engine light was blinking on and off and on and off. I knew something wasn't good, but I didn't think the end was so close. It ended with a smoke explosion - which blew right into our neighbor's yard (oops). Biggest smoke explosion I've ever seen come from a car! Jay worked on it for a while and then declared it dead. Gone. Forever.

So we've entered a new phase in our lives. The looking-for-a-used-car journey. It is not fun! We've looked at a few and so far have run into the following hassles:

  • Yesterday we went to look at a car on a used-car lot in E. Bridgewater. They said they'd be open 'til 3PM. We got there at 2:30PM and the place was shut down. Not only that, but they're not open on Sundays so we'd have to wait for tomorrow to get a chance to look at it

  • We drove to Providence to check out a car being sold by the owner. We made the offer, she counter offered, we counter offered, and she accepted our offer. Yeah! We had a car! Then she went into the house to get the title and when she came back out, the fun began. Although Jay had asked on the phone if she had a clear title and she said yes. But really, she didn't have a clear title. Her dad's name was on it, but he had passed away. She also laid this one on us - told us that when she went inside, there is a lady waiting to look at the car and when she told the lady that we were buying it, the lady offered her more money so if we upped the price to match the lady, we could buy it. We were sooooo outta there!

And living without a car for the past few day really sucks. I miss the freedom of going wherever, whenever. Jay had to drop me off at work and pick me up. He'll probably have to do the same tomorrow. We are going to Cambridge this afternoon to look at another car, so maybe it'll be done by tonight (keep your fingers crossed for us!).

Friday, November 27, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009

Another great Thanksgiving at my parent's house. We enjoyed great food, company, and were entertained by the antics of Miss Thea May! Thea got a haircut and showed up with bangs and pigtails - so cute! She also has a new 'thing' that I got the biggest kick out of. She draws on her face with marker and then tells Jess that it is her birthmark - like Auntie Amy!

Hanging out with Grammie and Momma Jess.
Nana Sue got Thea a wooden cook-stove and Thea was obsessed with cooking. She played with it for hours!
Here's Grandma and Grandpa along with Dakota.
Thea May - pigtails are gone!
Mom and cousin Jessica.
Amy and Jay - kind of a weird picture of us in front of the wood stove, but it was the only one!
Isn't she just so polite?

Dad, Mom, and Me!

Grampie Hugo - he'll be 100 in March! He's unbelievable!
Grammie will be 94 in February. You'd think she was 20 years younger if you met her!

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Two-Tailed Red Eft

I wrote to a biologist with MassWildlife about the red eft I found on Saturday and he wrote back:

Dear Mr. Mirick,

On November 14th, I was with a group of environmental educators looking for moose sign in the North Quabbin woods. We were happily examining moose scat and moose-browsed red maple stump sprouts when I spotted something in the leaf litter. It was a red eft - with two tails! Although many of us have seen these in our travels throughout the state, none of us had seen one with two tails. Amphibian deformities have been a hot button item when discussing the state of the environment and this one has piqued my interest. I'm curious to hear your take on this two-tailed red eft. I have attached two pictures of the red eft for your review.

Thank You,
Amy Wilmot
Lakeville, MA

Hi Amy,

Thanks for sending along the photos and telling me about this animal! This is the first such specimen I have seen from the Quabbin area, although I did see a 5-legged newt from the Berkshires a couple of years ago. We don’t get too concerned about a single case of amphibian physical abnormality because they can have so many causes. Unless several animals or several species from a relatively small area are found with such deformities, the cause is almost always natural. In my experience, most such “double deformities” are caused by the embryo being attacked in its egg by a nasty little nematode. This little “worm” has a habit of eating just a little of a developing amphibian embryo, but almost always in a location (a limb bud) that causes a limb (or tail in this case) to split early in its development, resulting in two appendages in the adult animal. I believe that is the most likely explanation in this case, but it is also possible some accidental or even deliberate (man-made) injury was inflicted on this animal when it was young, and either that divided the developing tail, or the regenerating tail simply developed abnormally following an amputation or near-amputation. Whatever caused this abnormality, it is VERY unlikely it was due to a pollution/chemical event, but it’s always best to remain suspicious and look for any further evidence of abnormalities in the area just in case. I am informing my contacts in that area, particularly those who work in the watershed, to be on the lookout for any other evidence of abnormal amphibians.

Peter Mirick

Sunday, November 15, 2009

M is for Moose

Spent the weekend at a computer training on Friday, spent Friday night at Jessie's, moose workshop at Harvard Forest on Saturday and Sunday - now I'm finally home!

On the way to the computer training, I passed the Old Stone Church on the Wachusett Reservoir. Since I had about 10 minutes to kill, I took a walk and got some pictures.

Then I headed to Orange where Thea proceeded to put on her helmet and show me that she can ride her big-girl bike! This girl is amazing!
Thea has eight new ponies, so we had to go take them for a walk and groom them. She taught her Auntie Amy how to pick out their hooves! It was scary, but I did it. I figured if a 2 1/2 year old could pick hooves, I should be able to do it!
Miss Thea with her pony, Honey! Two of them are pregnant and I cannot wait to see the little baby ponies when they are born.

On Saturday, I took to the woods to look for signs of moose. Did you know that Massachusetts has a population of about 1,000 moose? I had no idea! We didn't see any moose, but tons of signs and scat.
Here's a deer rub - not moose, but o-well...
And this is moose poop (or scat). It is much, much bigger than deer scat.
Dave, a moose biologist, is showing us where a moose bedded down. You can see a big pile of poop near his boots and the depressed area where the moose layed down. Also, all around this area a lot of plants were browsed (the buds were eaten off).
Look! I found a moose hair clinging to a plant he was browsing! Moose hairs are thick and can be really long. This one was probably from his face, so it's not too long. It's hollow to help insulate the moose from the cold.
Also found some cool stuff on our walk. Here's some funky fungi!
And a witch hazel flower - the last flower of the year as it blooms in late fall.
I found this red eft in the leaf litter and we couldn't believe what we had TWO TAILS?!?!?!?! C-c-c-c-crazy!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Veterans Day

Yesterday was Veterans Day. I took a group of Upward Bound students on a 5 mile hike through the woods. As we were walking along, a group of military helicopters flew right over us. It was deafening and we all stopped in our tracks and remembered....

I found this link yesterday. Be warned - you may cry.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Playground!

Had a fabulous visit with my mom, sister Jessie, Thea, and Marshall yesterday. Thea and Marshall just woke up from a nap when they walked through the door.

But Auntie Amy has Play Dough so they quickly snapped to it and played, and played, and played!

Then we took Hank for a walk to the playground (and yes, we changed Thea's pee pants before we left!).
Marshall got to hold onto Hank's leash while Thea got changed and then we hit the road.
Our walk to the playground took us on a path through nature on this beautiful day!

We played on the slides...

We even taught Hank to use the slide!
We played on the swings - this girl has NO FEAR!

Even Mumma Sue got on the swings!Isn't this picture just too cute!

We were pooped after adventure so we headed home to play "Cash," possibly the worst game ever invented by a two-year-old! And eat pizza!