Blackberry (free clip art)
Blackberry (free clip art)

Another really interesting thing we would do growing up was to go walking through the woods. The cows were confined to mostly open pasture so there was no worry about the bull getting around to us.

We would go out looking for blackberries. Growing up, we had plenty of them to pick. We would take a gallon bucket and sometimes come back with it full of them. Grandma would sometimes make a jar of jelly from them, a pot of blackberry mush, or we would just sprinkle a spoon full of sugar over them, pour a little milk over them, and eat them as they were.

After my teenage years, we couldn’t find them as much as we did as kids. It seems the problems were the decline in wild harvest were due in part from the hard hot summers and the lack of rainfall. The berries would start to form but without water they would dry up and fall off the vine. No berries would shorten the harvest every year. Currently there are very few blackberries growing down on the farm. If we searched, we may find a handful but that’s about all it would be. The only place I can find blackberries now is in the grocery store.

Side trip

Ellie asked me if we could make a side trip for a few minutes while we were on our way to the restaurant for lunch. She said she had some papers she had to drop off for her boss that she forgot to drop off on her way home from work yesterday. The boss had hired a new firm for accounting in charlotte and needed to get the papers to them. I asked her why they hadn’t just emailed them as attachments, or just fax’d them over and she just shrugged. I tried not to let my annoyance show; I hope I was succesful! I don’t want Ellie to think I’m an impatient person!

How Grandpa checked the crops for ripeness

Guest Post by my good friend Reed Dwyer:

vegetables (free clip art)
vegetables (free clip art)
Grandpa always had interesting ways of gardening. He taught us how to check to see if a melon was ripe enough to pick. One way for a Cantaloupe was the smell. That was one of the simpler ways to tell with the Cantaloupe.

With a watermelon it was one of about four ways. The first way was to thump on the melon. If it sounded hollow, it was ready. The second way was to look at the vine where it connects to the melon – if it was a bit brown, it may be ready to pick. The third way was to actually take a knife and sink it into the knife handle. Two other incisions would be made to create a diamond shape cut in the melon. He would pop out the diamond shape to check to see how pink or red the end in the melon was. If it were not pink enough, he would place the cork piece back in the melon and let it ripen for a couple of more days.

The fourth and strangest way I ever saw him test a watermelon for its ripeness was to take a straight hay straw, place it on the rounded part of the melon, and watch it. If the wind were not blowing the straw would either turn around in a circular motion, or sit still, balancing on the melon. I had been told that if the straw sat still it would mean the melon was still green or raw inside. If the straw turned in a circular motion, the melon would be ready to be harvested. I’m still thinking that was a joke!

They really did have some interesting ways back in the day. I knew when corn was ready to be harvested that the silk protruding from the ear would turn brown and start to dry. That meant the ear was most likely ready to harvest. Potato vines would turn brown in late summer and start to die. That meant we could soon dig up the potatoes for storage.

Oh those potatoes! I will never forget those. I have come to discover my Irish heritage was dependent on that staple and most likely brought over from Ireland by our ancestors.

You say you want to learn to dance?

I remember a few years ago I purchased an instructional dance lessons video tape and gave it to my newphew after he told me that he wanted to learn how to dance. I told him that when he finished with it I’d like to have it back. I never DID get it back! I wonder if he ever used it!

Video tape lessons are fine and dandy if you can’t arrange to get out of the house, but if you want the fun of interacting with real people, signing up for salsa dance lessons in los angeles would be a great way to learn how to dance and have fun while doing it!

Busy day for the police

Seems as if every time I turned around today the phones were ringing! First my cell phone, then the house phone about five minutes later. The caller ID often identified the caller as the police Emergency Notification System. Apparently today all heck broke loose and they were looking for two different guys – one of them they said the name and gave a description. They didn’t give any details why they were looking for him at all.

I got up and locked all of the doors, just to be on the safer side. We had the front door open to let the sun in and to let the pets look outside. The storm door was there, but the lock on that doesn’t work. So I closed the “big” door and clicked the dead-bolt on.

An hour or so later the second wave of calls came in – this time they police were notifying the town that they were looking for a different guy – this one had apparently just escaped from the jail! Different name and description were given out. They gave the name, description, and why he had been in jail. They said that a photo of the man could be seen on a particular website, but they gave that information out so fast that I couldn’t write it down or remember it. That was unnerving!

About three hours after that, the third wave of calls came in. They had captured the guy that had escaped from prison just a few miles from our house! I’m glad they got him!

Clay Curtis blogs when he can