Random (but not really)

Thursday, September 29, 2016


Finally! We found pawpaw!

The Arboretum is having pawpaw parties, where you can come and taste the fruit and–if you want–take seeds home to propagate.

Here are the fruits, plucked from trees in the Arboretum:


And here is what the insides look like. The pawpaw on the left is less ripe, the fruit on the right is more ripe.

Pawpaw innards (less ripe and more ripe)

The fruit really doesn’t taste like anything else grown in WV, and certainly not something growing wild.

If you have seeds, here is how to propagate pawpaw.

Written by Michelle at 6:22 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Food,Photos,West Virginia  

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Hiking WV: Cranesville Swamp

Less of a hike and more of a wander, but it was well-worth the drive (despite our forgetting on the way home that the GPS is trying to kill us, and taking a road that was just barely passable for cars (the people on 4-wheelers and jeeps kinda gave us a funny look as we passed in our Corolla).

This area belongs to the Nature Conservancy, and is open year-round, during day-light hours. The brochure recommended wearing boots, but it hasn’t rained in awhile, so we kept our feet dry. But we still wore gaiters, because: ticks.

The flora is similar to Cranberry Glades, for similar reasons.

Location: Cranesville Swamp
Trails: Blue, Orange, Yellow, White
Distance: 1.8 miles
Elevation: 2358-2678 feet



And lots of berries, including some out-of-season ones.





Perhaps Viburnum:






I found a handful of blueberries and a single ripe blackberry. They were delicious.

Spiranthes cernua (Nodding ladies’ tresses orchid) (?)



The view of the swamp from the edge of the woods:


Written by Michelle at 8:39 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,West Virginia  

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Small Rocks

At the playground the other evening, I made a small pile of flat pebbles. (I just had to look up the definition of pebble: “a rock fragment larger than a sand grain or granule and smaller than a cobble, which has been rounded by the action of water wind or glacial ice. It is therefore between 4 mm (~0.15 in) and 64 mm (~2.5 in)”. Pettijohn, F. J., 1949, Sedimentary rocks: New York, Harper and Brothers, 526 p)

I then became fascinated by how the small pile looked in the evening light.

Rocks at the playground

Rocks at the playground

Rocks at the playground

There is something pleasant about these pebbles–most small people I take to the playground want to take some home with them. I made an arbitrary determination of 2 pebbles per visit, lest we depebble the playground.

But they really are nice pebbles–and I love how they look different in different light.

Written by Michelle at 6:49 pm      Comments (3)  Permalink
Categories: Photos  

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Hiking WV: New River Gorge

We had a visitor!

So since it fit into other things we wanted to do, we took her to New River Gorge and hiked out to Longpoint for the view!

Location: New River Gorge
Trail: Longpoint Trail
Distance: 3.0 miles
Elevation: 1776-2049 feet


This is a nice hike because it’s not long, it’s not especially steep, and it has a gorgeous view for minimal effort.

Written by Michelle at 8:03 am      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,National Park / Forest,Photos,West Virginia  

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Hiking WV: Panther State Forest / WMA

Panther State Forest / WMA is kind of in the middle of nowhere (though not quite the middle of nowhere as Cabwaylingo which had multiple one-lane bridges on the route in and out), and the drive was all on windy rural roads (which made for a pleasant drive), but there were a surprising number of people there–mostly family reunion groups, but there were some teenagers playing in the creek.

Location: Panther State Forest / Wildlife Management Area
Trail: Buzzards Roost Overlook Trail
Distance: 1.9 miles
Elevation: 1227-1631 feet

Yes, we did hike three “overlook” trails this weekend. And none of the three overlooks were very impressive, but that’s okay. (I had to climb up on a cement piling that was the remainder of a wooden overlook for this picture.)

Panther WMA

Like most parks, there were lots of playgrounds, but I can’t remember seeing swings like this in recent memory.


And the creek running through the park.


It was a lovely place to visit, despite the ridiculous heat. I think I’d like to visit again.

Written by Michelle at 5:39 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Hiking WV: Beech Fork State Park

Beech Fork State Park is for boaters and fishermen, which is one of the reasons we weren’t in a rush to visit. It’s primarily a lake (like Bluestone and Moncove Lake) so there was little hiking, which is perfectly fine, because our state park system should be for all West Virginians–hunters, fishermen, kayakers, and hikers alike.

But it wasn’t any place I’m eager to revisit, since there wasn’t much hiking.

Location: Beech Fork State Park
Trail: Overlook Trail
Distance: 2.5 miles
Elevation: 601-920 feet

Here’s the view from the Overlook Trail.


It’s easy to overlook. (HA!)

There is a cemetery within Beech Fork, so as is my wont, we wandered around, considering the impermanence of life and memory.


There were a lot of WWI vets buried there–more WWI than WWII from a cursory wander. At some point, I’ll put all these cemetery photos up on Flickr.

Here’s the lake itself.


Written by Michelle at 5:22 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Hiking WV: Kanawha State Forest

This weekend we finished up visiting all the major state parks, forests, and wildlife management areas in WV! HOORAH!

Location: Kanawha State Forest
Trail: Overlook Rock Trail
Distance: 1.7 miles
Elevation: 800-1360 feet

The view from overlook rock.


If you don’t want to zoom in, the view is power lines on the far mountain ridge.


Written by Michelle at 5:00 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Hiking,Photos,State Park / Forest,West Virginia  

Monday, September 5, 2016

Labor Day

Textile Mills









Triangle Shirtwaist Factory



Chimney Sweeps



Come all of you good workers,
Good news to you I’ll tell
Of how the good old union
Has come in here to dwell.


My daddy was a miner
And I’m a miner’s son,
And I’ll stick with the union
‘Til every battle’s won.

Breaker boys working in Ewen Breaker Mine in South Pittston, Pennsylvania, 10 January 1911, from a 1908-1912 series on...

They say in Harlan County
There are no neutrals there;
You’ll either be a union man,
Or a thug for J. H. Blair.


Oh workers can you stand it?
Oh tell me how you can.
Will you be a lousy scab
Or will you be a man?




Upper Big Branch

child labor today 1

child labor today 2

child labor today 3


child labor today 4




Just a reminder what we’re celebrating today.

Written by Michelle at 6:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Holidays,Politics  

Sunday, September 4, 2016

The Books of August

This was a month for reading historical mysteries, with a dash of urban fantasy.

I re-read Salsa Nocturna: Stories by Daniel José Older and still love it. You should really read Daniel José Older.

Otherwise, nothing awesome stood out last month.

Historical Mystery

Owen Archer
The Apothecary Rose (1993) Candace Robb (7/10)
The Lady Chapel (1994) Candace Robb (8/10)
The Nun’s Tale (1995) Candace Robb (7.5/10)

Black Arrow (2006) I.J. Parker (7.5/10)
Island of Exiles (2007) I.J. Parker (6/10)
The Hell Screen (2003) I.J. Parker (8/10)
The Masuda Affair (2011) I.J. Parker (7/10)
The Fires of the Gods (2011) I.J. Parker (7/10)
Death on an Autumn River (2011) I.J. Parker (7/10)
The Emperor’s Woman (2012) I.J. Parker (7/10)
The Crane Pavilion (2014) I.J. Parker (6.5/10)

Urban Fantasy

Salsa Nocturna: Stories (2012) Daniel José Older (8.5/10)
Jack the Giant-Killer (1987) Charles de Lint (7.5/10)

I read all eBooks this month. Except for cookbooks, which I REALLY need to review Any Time Now.

Genre breakdown is mostly mystery. As I said.

Fantasy : 2
Mystery : 11
Anthology : 1

Gender breakdown is overwhelmingly female, as the initials belong to a female author.

Male : 2
Female : 3
Initials : 8

That makes only 18% of the books I read this year by male authors, but I will note that the Akitada books had a male protaganist, while the Owen Archer series series splits the story between multiple characters, but primarily the male and female leads.

And that’s it for the books of August. As temperatures FINALLY drop, I’m hoping for more hiking and less reading in the coming months.

We’ll see.

Written by Michelle at 2:50 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading  

Traveling WV: Jackson’s Mill

My favorite part of Jackson’s Mill is Bleaker’s Mill. If you go during the Jubilee, you’ll get to see corn being ground, and if you’re lucky, hear an explanation both of how the mill works, and how Bleaker’s Mill was moved to Jackson’s Mill–as well as random tidbits, such as that the mill stones were brought over from France as ballast, and after being dumped, ended up becoming mill stones, because the quartz was so tough.


Also, because the light was good and it wasn’t a zillion degrees, I spent some time looking at the lower fireplace, where you can see precisely how the mill was taken down and rebuilt.


Here is a closer look (you might even want t go to Flickr and zoom in to see all the detail):


Every stone was labeled, and marked with the stones around it, the building was carefully dismantled, moved to Jackson’s Mill, and then using notes and the labels, carefully rebuilt.

This took as long as you’d imagine, if not longer.

And here’s a pioneer home:


Written by Michelle at 2:12 pm      Comments (2)  Permalink
Categories: West Virginia  
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