Saturday, July 23, 2016

Copperhead Feeding Behavior

In summertime, it's possible that you might encounter large numbers of Copperheads feeding on baby cicada insects as they emerge from the roots of trees.

Each summer, usually beginning around the first of June and continuing into September, cicada larvae that have spent their developmental period burrowed in the soil around the tree roots on which they feed, begin emerging for their metamorphosis into adults.

The larvae, looking like hump-backed beetles, begin digging their way to the surface around dusk. They emerge from the ground, crawl to the nearest vertical structure (usually a tree), climb a foot or two up the trunk, their "shell" splits along its back and the adult cicada works its way out.

Some of the highest-volume movements of cicada larvae are to large oak trees on lawns. These nocturnal emergences of cicada larvae are like the opening of an all-you-can-eat dinner for some wildlife. Yellow-crowned night herons are one of the species that regularly prey on emerging cicada larvae. Copperheads are another. And when the cicada dinner bell rings, it can draw a copper-colored, fanged crowd.

Amazing that this wasn't known before now. There's still plenty to learn in this old world of ours.

Thanks to Brock at Free North Carolina for linking it.

Blessed Are the Cheesemakers...

...there are so few good ones.

Thomas Merton put them on the map. Their fruitcakes are definitely not the kind to re-gift. And their fudge is just about as heavenly as fudge can get.

But the Abbey of Gethsemani, near Bardstown, Kentucky, is dropping one of the products whose sale has supported the monastery for years.

Because of the dwindling number of monks, the production of cheese recently came to an end, according to a report by WDRD.

Founded in 1848, Gethsemani is one of the oldest monasteries in the United States and attracts visitors from all over the world.

They may be attracting visitors from all over the world, but they aren't attracting vocations. People view monastic retreats as a spiritual vacation, not a life that they want to live. There are many reasons for this - - secularization of the US population, the catholic priest pedophile scandal, inability to come to grips with social media and the need to advertise their existence, strict bars to entry. Where are the 21st-century Mertons to draw the vocations?

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Restaurant Review: BarBee's Bar-B-Que, Peachland, NC

Haven't done a barbecue joint review in a while, time to get back into the habit since I have a reliable car again. BarBee's is a small country barbecue restaurant right off of US 74, the main highway from Charlotte to the Carolina coastline and Wilmington. BarBee's is in Peachland:

It's easy to miss the turn-off coming from Charlotte, and I did so, driving nearly to Wadesboro before turning around and approaching from the other direction. Here's the road sign:

No other signage is in evidence, so the place can be hard to notice; since they have a regular local crowd, that may be what the management desires. There was a portable smoker parked out by the road sign:

There was a half-dozen cars in front of the place, a pretty good-sized crowd for a small place like this. As I looked for a parking slot I noticed several cats in evidence around the restaurant; don't know if they were restaurant cats or feral. Around back was a large, fresh woodpile, a promising note:

There was also a large propane tank, which may or not mean the use of propane smokers:

Menu. In addition to barbecue, the restaurant offers hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken and fish. The menu states that the barbecue is cooked over hickory, but this doesn't mean that gas or electricity aren't the primary heat source, with wood being used only for flavor. The waitress, a teenager, professed not to know.

The interior was handsome, with a narrow dining area, booths along each wall, a couple of small tables in the center. The walls were paneled and roofed with 4" boards stained a honey color. Three windows looked onto a second dining room the same size as the primary, but with glass windows and a view of the parking lot. I didn't photograph the interior, not wanting a flash to disturb my fellow diners.

I ordered a large pork plate, with red slaw, fries and hush puppies. It came out in about 10-12 minutes, presumably the time it took to cook the fries and hush puppies.

The barbecue was chopped fine, with no outside brown in evidence, all interior meat, not much of a smoke smell or taste, and in fact the meat was served Lexington-style, with vinegar-based "dip" already poured over the meat before it's brought out. It was properly hot, temperature-wise. The red slaw had been ladled onto the plate with an unslotted spoon, and thus was sitting in a small puddle of vinegar/brine. Normally a slotted spoon is used to ladle slaw onto the plate so as to not risk spillage. The fries were straight-cut and seasoned (they can be ordered seasoned or plain), and it was a a relief from the usual BBQ joint crinkle-cuts, which I rather dislike. The hush puppies were the size of shooter marbles and tasty, just the right size to pop into the mouth. The drink I ordered was diet Pepsi, which comes in cans at BarBee's.

The tables in the restaurant weren't fully stocked with sauces and napkins. The waitress brought sauce to some of the tables while I waited for my food, but not to all of them; mine went without, so I can't comment on the sauces. One of the tables went without napkins, which were a roll of paper towels on an upright spindle.

The customers were seemingly all regulars; at one point a female, presumably the manager, came out to banter with three men at one of the tables; apparently one of the men was fortunate not to be getting his leg amputated. Another man who came in was wearing a stained white t-shirt with prominent dark armpit stains, he went to a table in the outer dining area.

I'll give BarBee's Bar-B-Que of Peachland, NC a 3 on my 5-scale for food quality (average) and a 2 on my 5-scale for service (desultory).

Friday, July 15, 2016

Re-Open Devil's Island!

France still owns the colony of French Guiana in South America, and could conceivably ship all of the malcontent Muslims in France to the place - - rebuild the old prisons to hold the Muslim criminals, and exile all the non-criminals there as undesirable citizens. Let the jungle diseases, insects, and South American wildlife take care of population control.

Monday, July 04, 2016

Brawl At NC Country Club - - Whodunnit?

If you read The Washington Post's account, you come away with the impression that it was a bunch of white peckerwoods. Read the comments, you'll see time and again the Lefty commenters sneering at rednecks, only to have readers who have done more research at UK NEWSPAPERS point out that the country club had rented to the Usual Suspects - - and suffered the usual consequences. Presumably the statement by country club representatives about tightening up standards will be defined as "no blacks under 60 years old" from this point forward.

Meanwhile, At Fort Sumter, South Carolina...

maintenance is desperately needed, as in so many other places in the National Park Service.