Saturday, April 23, 2011

First Black Snake of the Year

Today was a great day for snake hunting. It had been dreary the last day or two, so I knew that when the sun popped out, so would the snakes. My oldest two boys and I headed for the fields behind our home looking for anything fun along the way. We scanned the edges of a small pond and worked our way through some thick brush. Finally I headed straight for a big stump near the pond in a clearing in the field. Bingo. This nearly five-footer was sunning on the edge of the stump. He was an easy catch.

Black Snake 2

Black Snake 2 by Joe Jon!
Black Snake 2, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.

When I first caught him he had a good grip on my arm. I don't think he has fed yet this spring as he looked pretty thin. Hopefully he'll catch some mice and yard moles behind our house and keep the rodent population down. I walked the several hundred yards back to our home and set him loose on the edge of our back yard.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Mohawk

Mohawk 3 by Joe Jon!
Mohawk 3, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.
He posed the question concerning a mohawk hair cut only a few weeks ago and his mother and I laughed it off with a simply stated, "No."

But you don't know the persistence of Caden, our 5-year old, third shift, breakdancing, ninja.

Um, long story there. Nevermind that.

So, he persisted. And persisted.

We hemmed. We hawed.

We relented.

And here he is in all of his mohawky glory. Yes, he does look a tad like David Beckham, doesn't he?

The boy named man. I can't wait 'til the folks at church see it on Sunday.

Mohawk 2

Mohawk by Joe Jon!
Mohawk, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.

Front view of the mohawk. He is loving it. See how happy he is? Big smiles from a little goober.

Mohawk 3

Mohawk 2 by Joe Jon!
Mohawk 2, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.

Side view of the mohawk. He's bad.

Mohawk 4

Mohawk 4 by Joe Jon!
Mohawk 4, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.

Later in the evening after he had rubbed the gel out. Almost looks normal. Where's the gel?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Series of Posts on the US 421 Bypass Behind our Home - Part 1

No one has ever mistaken me for an environmental extremist or, as they say, a “tree hugger.” I do not lament the good use of what God has given us to help us along in this life. But I also understand well that God has placed us humans on this earth to care for His creation. So, whenever I see something that is wasteful when it comes to natural resources, I pity it.

The destruction of the forest behind our home for the extension of US Highway 421 Bypass around downtown Sanford, NC, may or may not be an example of such a waste. When we moved here nearly four years ago we purchased our home knowing all too well that there would be a highway built behind it at some point. Frankly, the bypass is probably needed, or at least wanted by those who consistently get snarled through the business portion of 421, and we use the current portion of it often to skip the traffic lights that cause us to crawl through town. So, no tears are being shed for the necessity of the road, nor for a lack of knowledge. We weren’t overcome by the news like some of our neighbors who were here beforehand and learned of it without being able to do anything about it. We were able to purchase our home for somewhere in the neighborhood of 15-20% less than the previous owner had wanted as a result of the highway (plus a considerable amount of fixer-upper quality the home held). And we love our house. More than twice as big as our former home in Winston-Salem for only a little more with a large playroom, a fourth bedroom we turned into the homeschool room, an extra full bathroom, and an office. It was a poor man’s dream.

We also felt that the highway was a few more years out and that we actually might be leaving Sanford within a few years, allowing us to completely miss it. But the government stimulus package from last year enabled the project to be moved up, and here we are, huge machines working already with a completion date just a year or two away.

Even though we knew it was inevitable, we are still quite bummed about it. The next ten posts will tell you why.

Scroll down and follow along.

Before its Time - Part 2 of the Series

9 by Joe Jon!
9, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.
In the fall of 2010 we read in the local paper that the stimulus funds had been approved and the completion of the bypass would begin in late March or early April. A couple of months ago we started seeing pick-up trucks with surveyors and soil testers out and around the fields near our home and figured it had all begun. Just a few days ago the carnage began with several large vehicles and dozers moving earth and wood, and trees started to fall. This one was among the smaller trees, but had many years on it. It looks to be much older than I am, judging by the rings.

Stacks of Misery - Part 3 of the Series

8 by Joe Jon!
8, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.

The tree was one of many that were already stacked in a pile that would triple in size over the next couple of days. Except for the time it took to drag them to the stacking area most of the trees were cut, stripped of their limbs, and stacked in a matter of seconds by the huge machines.

They Begin at 6:30 AM Each Day - Part 4 of the Series

7 by Joe Jon!
7, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.

It was actually pretty interesting to watch them working, despite how objectionable the task at hand was to us. They were very efficient in their work. We took our dogs over to the machines so that they would be much less nervous the next day than they were the first day the monstrous machines came to work so close to their dog lot.

A Child's Dream - Part 5 of the Series

6 by Joe Jon!
6, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.
Only a small lad at five years old, Caden was awestruck by everything that was going on. Who could blame him? The machines were enormous and the path of destruction appealing to a boy bent on taking in as much as he can. He really wanted to drive them.

Scenic Beauty - Part 6 of the Series

5 by Joe Jon!
5, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.

All of these pictures were taken with my cell phone cam, so truly no justice is found in their quality. Take this picture, for example. In my four years in Lee County I have yet to find a more beautiful patch of rolling hills, green fields, and awe inspiring tree lines. The fall colors are amazing each year. I have wondered many times how someone could choose such a spot to bring a highway through. If they had just moved northeasterly a few hundred yards it would have hidden much of the encroachment and left a great place for a park or recreation area. Not just for our sake, mind you. It could have remained a beautiful area for many to enjoy.

A Good Walk Spoiled - Part 7 of the Series

4a by Joe Jon!
4a, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.
Our family would walk down a tiny path to a hidden creek, allowing the dogs to play in the water and giving us a great opportunity to get out and enjoy nature and the various wildlife beside our home. Deer, coyote, squirrels, birds of all kinds and many other animals would frequent the wooded area. That path is now a wide workway for the machines.

Surveying the Damage - Part 8 of the Series

3a by Joe Jon!
3a, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.

Surveying the destruction gave us a bit of a morbid feeling. It seems all of those trees we enjoyed so often were like friends, and now we were losing them, day by day.

An Amazing View - Part 9 of the Series

2a by Joe Jon!
2a, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.
I would sit on my deck in the back of our home and gaze across the field as the sun set, the late afternoon light warming the tall row of trees beyond the edges. The glow of the leaves was a highlight for me each day as I slowly tugged a draw from my tobacco pipe and thought of the very simple things in life. It was so quiet there with these friends. Several of them are already gone in this photo.

My Mighty Friend - Part 10 of the Series

1a by Joe Jon!
1a, a photo by Joe Jon! on Flickr.
One neighbor has lived in our neighborhood her entire life, some 68-years. She said this mighty Oak tree was enormous even when she was a little girl. The tiny portion of tree hugger in me did go down to embrace it, if only to measure its great size, and I was not even able to get half way around its gigantic girth. I discovered this tree when we first moved here and was instantly drawn to its majesty and size. I would enjoy its shade and sit under it quietly, pipe in hand, to reflect on life's simple pleasures. It gave me shade in the heat of summer and protection from the wind in the coolness of spring. I am so fond of this Oak. This poor picture does it no justice as it is truly a beautiful work of God’s creation. It will fall in the next day or two after enduring for so long. And I will miss my friend.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Tornado in Sanford

Some amazing pictures of the storm damage in our town of Sanford, NC, just a few miles south of us.

Taken by Wesley Beeson of the Sanford Herald.