Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A River Runs Through It

When we first arrived in Alabama two years ago, the state was in the middle of an extended drought.  According to the US Drought Monitor, the drought in our area has been over officially for quite some time now.  After the rain we been having this month, we have decided to endorse the US Drought Monitor assessment.  The little trickle of a stream behind our house has been busting at it's seams the last while.  We considered going rafting in the stream, but there have been too many stories in the news lately about folks being sucked into drainage pipes.  We decided that as much fun as rafting in the stream would be, it would be awfully embarrassing to end up as a statistic on the nightly news.  I guess we really haven't hit the 40 days and 40 nights stage yet, but it is starting to feel like that. 

I'm with the Band

This may not be a surprise to those of you who have been members of a marching band or who have had children in a marching band, but marching band is very time consuming.  This was a surprise to Jake who was never in the marching band.  Marching band started in July with two four hour practices each day.  That's right.  Four hours in the morning and another four hours in the evening.  These practices were conducted before the school semester even began.  Once school was in session, band became even more intense with band class every day, rehearsals after school twice a week and a football game every Friday night. But wait, there's more.  The band also participates in parades and has three band competitions scheduled for the year.  Now we just found out that the band has been invited to participate in a college bowl game which is going to cost a not insignificant amount of money.  Of course the kids have been given to an opportunity to sell pecans to help pay for their trip.  Pecans?  Really?  Do you know how many pecans it takes to send a 200 member band plus staff to a college bowl game for a week?  But at least the football season will mercifully end in November right?  Wrong!  The football team has gone undefeated during their first 5 games and is likely to advance well into the playoffs if not all the way to the state championship.  And did I tell you that Jake and Mary are supporting the band by selling hot dogs and pop corn the in concession stand?  Yep.  There were 6000 people at the game last week.  Do you know how many hot dogs and boxes of pop corn 6000 people can consume?  Lots!  It's OK though, because Jake has always wanted to utter the phrase, "I'm with the band."   And now he gets to say it every week.  At least until the football season is over.  "Go Team!"

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Green Tree Frog

We've had a large number of Green Tree Frogs hanging out on our house today.  This is something which we have not seen in the past.  We can only assume that the abnormally high rainfall we've experienced lately is causing them to move to the high ground.  Green treefrogs live primarily in the southeastern United States, from Delaware, south through eastern Maryland, Virginia, and the Carolinas, southern Georgia, across all of Florida, west to eastern Texas and areas north along the Mississippi Valley to southern Illinois. In Alabama their distribution is essentially statewide.  Green treefrogs prefer wet or moist areas such as swamps, lake sides and the edges of streams. Occasionally they are found in brackish water. During the day they are often found on vegetation near water or in other moist shady areas sitting quietly with their feet folded neatly beneath them. Breeding in Alabama usually begins in April and extends into August. Green treefrogs tend to congregate in extremely large groups.  At night, males begin calling just before dark. The male’s call is a harsh, nasal “quank-quank-quank . . .” repeated about once per second. From a distance, these calls sometimes sound bell-like, which accounts for the local name “cowbell frog.”  Females are attracted to the male’s location in a swamp, pond, or other water source where they deposit their eggs, 10 to 20 at a time in a jelly like envelope that is attached to floating or submerged vegetation. Females may lay up to 400 eggs. Fertilization takes place externally. Calling and egg-laying are particularly frequent after rainstorms. Larvae hatch in about a week, with tadpoles metamorphosing into adults 55 to 63 days after hatching.

Adults are opportunistic feeders, eating a variety of insects and small arthropods. They are often seen on houses around windows or exterior lights searching for insects. Tadpoles feed on algae.

Other wildlife we've seen in around our house:

International Talk Like A Pirate Day

Well shiver me timbers.  It be September 19th.  Did you know that September 19th is International Talk Like A Pirate Day?

Other great things that have happened on September 19th:
1778 – The Continental Congress passes the first budget of the United States.
1961 – Betty and Barney Hill claim that they saw a mysterious craft in the sky and that it tried to abduct them.
1959 – Nikita Khrushchev is barred from visiting Disneyland.

But the best thing that ever happened on September 19th was Jake and Molly getting hitched.  When they got engaged, Jake didn't come up with the most romantic proposal.  He basically said to Molly, "If you aren't doing anything for the next 20 years or so would you like to get married?"  For whatever reason, despite that lame proposal, Molly agreed to marry Jake, and this year marked their 20th anniversary.  So since Jake had technically only asked Molly to marry him for 20 years, this year marked the end of the contract.  Jake took Molly out to a nice dinner and asked for a 20 year contract extension.  Did Molly agree to the contract extension????  Yes. 

So, what do Jake and Molly have planned for the next 20 years?  Jake is trying to get Molly to agree to incorporate Talking Like a Pirate into their anniversary celebrations.  Molly hasn't agreed to that yet, but Jake is still trying.  Yo ho, yo ho, the pirate's life for me.