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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Looking for Love ... in all the wrong places??

So...   those who know me best know that my last kid has 'flown the coop'. 

I had decided...many years ago...  that I would not date, have a boyfriend, or consider remarrying until all of my children had left home.   There were many reasons in my decision, one of them being that I did not want to put my children through the "step-parent/blended family" thing.   Be it right, or be it wrong, it was a decision that I had made and one that I "stuck" to.

Now I am ready to embark on a new chapter in my life...

I have joined a few dating websites, read lots of profiles, chatted with quite a few men, and gone on some 'real life' dates.   This process is quite interesting... to say the least.

Anyway...  my main purpose in this post is not to talk about the "legitimate" men I have met... it is to shed light on an "illegitimate" man that struck up a conversation with me. 

Super nice guy...   personable...  a good conversationalist...   someone I would like to meet.


I couldn't find a trace about him on the internet.    None of these websites do background checks on their "members", so you are left to your own resources to check these people out.   I start with Google and the Department of Justice's Sex Offender Registry search engine.   (By the way...  I have been contacted by registered sex offenders as well.)  In this case, the name that was given to me did not turn up ANY information... nothing.   Not a blurb, not an inference, absolutely nothing.

That "non-finding" made me suspicious of this person.    Plus...  his syntax was 'different'.   Thinking, thinking, thinking...  that I should just drop the conversation completely...but curiosity in solving the mystery made me try to figure out who this person was.   Finally, it dawned on me to check the header of his e-mails... and find out if they had come from the IP location he said he was at.

Voila!     So he WAS lying to me!     His IP address originated from Lagos, Nigeria.   Yes...  I had been targeted by a "Nigerian Romance Scammer".  

C'est la vie ...  

So...   below I offer up his "introductory e-mail" which I am sure he uses over and over again and his e-mail address ...  so that those who are trying to research this man's identity will find this information and be able to compare their notes.   I am still considering whether or not I want to post the pictures that he provided.  I am still undecided at this time on that matter as I am sure they belong to some unaware soul.   I am positive that he will change his name/identity, but I trust that this information will continue to be useful to other online daters such as me.



Name used:   Leonard Collins
E-mail used:  leonardcollins47@yahoo.com
Location Reported:   Houston, Texas
Dating Website:   eHarmony

Hello TJ, 

Thanks for sharing your mail with me as i could best write you here and share alot about myself.... I woke up earlier to write more about me.... Hope your internet is working perfectly now... I hope it does get better so that we can communicate more.

  Hmmmm okay here goes a little about me..........I have my master degree in Chemical and construction Engineering ,working as a consultant to an oil company and a contractor. I have a daughter that is still schooling,Stella 15years of age, but my being lonely makes everyday being bored. I belief with God all things are possible. I was born and raised in Germany  by my beloved parents whom have widen my spiritual and intellectual part in different form. My dad met my mom in France when he went on UN mission in Paris and they have a wonderful meeting which led to there acquaintances and bring about a good relationship.I came to Texas 5years back after i got retired from Texaco oil company in Nashville TN and decided to work on a self contract basis since then and looking forward to my retirement few month from now and i want to live my life to the fullest with a woman that will love me for who i am not what i have.

I have been fortunate to have had a great life! And the foundation for that came from amazing, loving parents who had a great partnership of nearly 60 years (45 when my dad died at age 90). Their great partnership (not without ups/downs, disagreements,many negotiations and compromises) provided my brother, sister, and myself with a good model of a how a solid marriage is formed and maintained. And none of the 3 of us are divorced! Great role models! (my marriage ended by death/I am a widow). Our parents raised us to be strong, confident, successful people, backed us up, encouraged us to take risks, and instilled the belief in us that "you can do anything you want "(e.g. achievements in work or personal life). Kind of lucked out! As Robert Frost said "and that has made all the difference."

I am a loving, caring, understanding and fun man to be with. I don’t like monotony so I’m always on the run. You’ll capture my heart with just a right touch and I’ll highly reward you with attention, affection and wonderful unconditional love because my soul is yearning for a companion and more kindness, thoughtfulness and passion is all in my core. All of these are mere compliments, I will rather wait till I get to know you better but I also admire some qualities in a woman.

Though I get lonely at times but that still doesn't make me want to settle for less of whom I've been looking for all my life which means I'm not just seeking for anyhow woman but someone who will give me butterflies each time I think of her. Someone who is honest, caring, sincere, loyal, lovable and trustworthy who has a zest for life. I want to be with a good loving and trustworthy woman, someone that belief in herself as well as her husband, someone who will love me for who I am and not what I have. A risk-taker who isn't afraid to fail because if she does, I’ll be right there to pick her up and encourage her to keep it up till she succeed in her plan/endeavor in a positive manner. Someone who likes to walk on beach, walk in the park and have great conversation. Someone to cheer me up when I'm down and vice-versa, someone we can talk like a father and mother, husband and wife and a great companion. Someone we can both go fishing together, dine wine and enjoy life to its fullest in our home and not a cold woman.

I've learned that trust, acceptance, admiration, and an I've-always-got-your back attitude must be built and maintained (and often rebuilt!) in order for a relationship to be solid. And that when it gets really, really hard you stay, not only because you promised you would but because there isn't any other way to make it work. A favorite song lyric by folk singer Patty Griffin sums it up for me: "If you break down, I'll drive out and find you. If you forget my love I'll try to remind you, and I'll stand by you when it don't come easy.

I hope I haven't ask for much. I'll be looking forward to read from you.

PS - I attached my picture on here we could not view each other's photo... You can send me yours too.
Best regards


Sunday, September 18, 2011




That I cause a wrinkle in your life.


That I can't seem to let you go.

I'm like an old wore out t-shirt...

Happily lying crumpled in the corner.

Just being near you...

To hear your voice...

Is enough ... perhaps.

Seems so forlorn...

...maybe today, I'll be worn.


I hope I don't cause you any strife.


My heart seems to not want to go...


Don't smooth out... this wrinkle in your life.

Could you please...

...just let me stay...

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Sunday, September 11, 2011

...Ten Years Ago...Today.

Eyes well up... tears come again...from that day that seems so far away...yet so close.
Heart feels wounded...the scars are still tender.
Bravery seen... understood ... but unexplainable.
Thankfulness felt ... yet unable to say enough.
Strength needed ... so glad for amazing grace.
♥ America

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Friday, February 04, 2011

The Ride...

My hands... run across the stallion's neck.. and my body leans into him...

He shakes his mane... a little wild-eyed from anticipation...

He knows his rider... he understands her.

The stallion... paws the ground nervously.
Shifts his feet.

I bury my face in his neck... as my hands run across his sleek body.

I grab a handful of mane...
And I jump onto his back.

He gives a little lunge...

...whoa... Babe.. Take it easy...

I sink in my hips.
I twist my hand in the mane.
I squeeze my knees... into his ribs...

He sinks back on his haunches...
And takes off.

I lean forward... the wind in my face...
My eyes sting a bit... and tears form...
There is a roar in my ears.

I become one with his rhythm.
His neck gets flatter... and flatter...
As he stretches out... into a run.

I hang on... whispering to him.
I feel his strength underneath me.
His breathing... is loud now.

Where will he take me?

I close my eyes for a moment...
And live in the experience.

His tempo is beginning to slow...

White foam sweat... has formed on his neck.

The stallion is spent... but the arch in his neck... shows that he is well pleased with himself.

And I...

And I... am grateful for the gift.

The gift... of "the ride".


Sunday, January 30, 2011

I Am Yours...

You make me so happy.

You're not mine...

My heart leaps when I hear your voice.

You're not mine...

My soul is filled with songs.

You're not mine...

You are my daydream.

You're not mine...

I cling to every minute that I have with you.

You're not mine...

My body craves your touch.

You're not mine...

My nights are filled with dreams of you.

You're not mine...

You're not mine...

But I am yours.

My heart cries out in agony.

Because you're not mine...


Friday, December 31, 2010


You took my heart of stone...

Turned it into flesh and blood.

And now...

And now.

I feel the pain...

The same pain that every other ordinary human being feels.

It hurts...

It hurts so bad.

The tears...

The tears are hot.

How does one stand being human...

How do you survive it?


Saturday, October 02, 2010

The Night Won't Save Anyone...

The wind moaned and the trailer house creaked. Another Oklahoma thunderstorm was battering our senses. A frequent experience rated somewhere between thrilling and mortifying.

My two youngster's voices became quieter as the storm became louder. Then the lights flickered. Eyes turned to mine, wide-eyed and questioning... not frightened.

Not yet.

And then the lights went completely out. Darkness rushed out of the corners and filled the room.

Alone with two small children... I felt like I was adrift in heavy seas. A feeling that became too familiar as our lives progressed.

Looking for candles. Light the match. Locate the flashlight. How is dinner going to turn out now?

Oh my... I hear their little voices no more.

Night's Darkness brought its friend Fear with it.

"This is just like camping.", I said confidently.

"Now we can pretend we're camping!"

Interjections from the tiny voices soon erupted. Imaginations had changed direction. Good.

To be strong in the face of Night's Darkness... to do this every day... to always be there for everyone else.

I have to ask...

Who will be there for me?

Night won't save anyone.


Monday, September 27, 2010

Let Me...

Let me lie my head against your chest...

Listen to your heart...

Feel your breath.

Let me feel your warmth...

Your gentle touch...

Make me feel safe.

Let me watch the sunset with you...

Hold your hand...

Enjoy the breeze... together.

Let me say silly things..

Tease you...


Let me sing out of tune...

A love song...

And think of you.

Let me cry...

For things lost..

And hold me... please.

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Monday, September 20, 2010

A Daydream...

Silently falling through the air...


Wafting too and fro as I drift to earth.

I gently land... without notice.

No splash... no sound.

I become one with the flow of the river.

The sound of the rushing waters soothes my soul.

I follow the path of the current...

I glide over the rocks.

I survive the falls.

An eddy.

A quiet place ...

To pause and reflect.

A spot to be one with the river...

But still waters to observe the passing current.

Summer is over... but it seems that life for a leaf isn't?

Maybe... I will enjoy fall...

...after all.


Monday, September 13, 2010


Beauty is like dust... blown away by the wayward winds of life... and time.

Maybe we should spend our time ... not in the spas... the gym... or in the mirror... but spend our time building our character.


Perhaps... better yet... we should spend it building up our neighbors, our friends, and our families.

So that maybe... the beauty of our character will be longer lasting... and perhaps last for generations to come.

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Saturday, September 11, 2010

So Do I...

When you're happy...
So am I.

When you're sad...
So am I.

When you're frustrated...
So am I.

When you're perplexed...
So am I.

When you are angry...
So am I.

When you hurt...

So do I.



He held my hand... once.
And kissed me with passion.

When was it... what year?
I don't remember.

I opened my heart.
And hurt... it was.

Will it hurt again?
I don't want to remember.

I held my babies... close.
And loved them with adoration.

Was it only yesterday?
I want to remember.

I walked...
Alone it seems.

The path leads where?
Please help me...

...to remember.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

This is Where I Come From...

A tear... running down my cheek.

A memory... too sad to keep.

A heartbreak... painful and deep.

A lost dream... afraid to sleep.

Long and winding ... my roads are.

Far and wide... my travels.

Here and there... my thoughts wander.

My history... should I share?

Where do I come from...

It depends ... on where I've been.


Saturday, August 28, 2010

My Ocean...

The surface... smooth as glass it is.

ahhh... a gentle breeze... provides a slight movement... a small ripple.

Enough to add interest... curiosity... to hold your attention... provide enjoyment?


Beneath... a varied terrain exists... mountainous... with deep, deep valleys.

Deep... the valleys are so deep.

I'm not equipped to stay in this world... I can't stay here... not for long at least.

I can't hold my breath much longer... where are you?

I'm alone... on the quiet surface.

And I am tortured ... in the deep.

I'm looking... everywhere.

Where are you?


Monday, August 23, 2010

Well now...

... it seems that it has been almost 2 years since my last post.

And no... the shunt didn't fix my CSF leak problem.

I had the surgery for repair in November, 2008, two months after the previous post. The leak recurred in May, 2009.

I then got pneumonia and developed a lung abcess. I became so ill that, according to an ECG and cardiologist, that I had a heart attack? Unbeknownst to me... it was. During this period of extreme fevers, shaking chills, and incompetent MD's... I continued to work.

Why? Well... I am my family's only source of support. Have been for what... 15 years now?

After multiple spinal taps, CT and MRI's, etc., etc., etc.... I had another surgery to repair the leak Christmas week 2009.

So... here I am ... trying to get back into the swing of life.

Seems to be hard for me... for as you can tell... I prefer to become a recluse when I am not well.

So... here I am.

Trying to live ... again.



Monday, September 01, 2008

Like I Need Another Hole in My Head...

I know that it has been quite some time since my last post.

Once again, I find myself apologizing for the the lack of communication. However, for those of you who know me best, I'm sure that you aren't surprised.

I tend to be the type of person to go into hiding and lick my wounds in relative quiet and privacy.

The shunt was placed in my head and it appears that everything is going okay at this point in time. It is a ventriculoperitoneal shunt. Also known as a VP shunt. It has a valve to regulate the cerebral spinal fluid as well as a port where samples of fluid can be taken directly from the shunt. (*whew* - hopefully I'll never to have to go through another spinal tap again) The line runs down my neck and my chest and then enters my abdomen where the CSF empties.

And yes...

This thing is designed, and is intended, to stay in my head and body for the rest of my life.

This Thursday I will see the doctor for my two week check-up.

These pictures were taken shortly after I got home from the hospital.

I couldn't "see" my wounds, so I got the kids to take a picture of it all so that I could see what it looked like.

I have to say that that stray gray hair in the picture is really bothering me by quite a bit.

So far I haven't experienced any CSF leaking out of my head (rhinorrhea) since the VP shunt has been in place. Which means that the shunt is doing its job. Hopefully this will be the fix that I need and avoids a surgery that would entail going into the original acoustic neuroma brain tumor site.

The doctors all wanted to go and try to fix the leak at its source, but I just couldn't bear the thought of it at all. The first tumor surgery nearly cost me 100% of my facial nerve. The thought that I could lose what facial nerve function I have now is just unbearable to me.

The doctors said that we couldn't leave things the way they were with CSF washing over bacteria in my sinuses and throat and then providing a tract back to my brain. They said that I would eventually die of meningitis if nothing were done.

I've had meningitis once already and I've been on antibiotics going on three months now because of the risk. Plus, there was a colony of psuedomonas cultured near my eustachian tube as well.

The antibiotics have been very problematic for me too. I have experienced all manner of problems from the long-term use of these various high-powered drugs. Especially since there are only a few drugs that can cross the blood-brain barrier and effectively treat meningitis. Thank goodness, though, I haven't suffered from a secondary yeast infection.

Sometimes I wonder if long-term antibiotic use wears your body down and makes you feel tired. I would think that it is possible since organs such as your liver and kidneys are closely monitored for any long-term side affects from the drugs.

The Levaquin caused me to have a very severe case of tendonitis. It is my understanding that about only 1% of patients taking this antibiotic have this kind of problem which can lead to ruptured Achilles' tendons and the like. Thank goodness I didn't have that happen and only suffered from about one week of extremely severe joint pain.

All in all, things seem to have settled down by quite a bit for the time being.

I have been blessed to still be alive and well, and I'm thankful that the shunt appears to be fixing my problem.

Hopefully, I will get the okay soon to D/C (discontinue) the antibiotics and be able to get some normal bacterial flora back into my body.

And some semblance of normality in my life as well.


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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Swimming at the Devil's Waterhole...

The weather has been really hot here this summer. We have had more than our fair share of 100+ temperatures.

Of course, endless sunshine and high temperatures are perfect ingredients for an afternoon at the lake.

The kids wanted to go to a local favorite swimming hole today called the Devil's Waterhole.

A lot of the local kids go there to swim during the summer. Of course, there are quite a few visiting campers there as well, but I would venture to say that most of the "jumpers" live around here. (Do you see the guy on the very top of the huge boulder?)

Devils' Waterhole is located at Inks Lake State Park. I had taken a few photographs from our previous visit.

The first time I had taken Carrie and Parker to the swimming hole they were quite intimidated by the "recreational activity" of jumping off of a cliff into the lake.

I have no idea how high that cliff is. I would have to estimate that it is probably close to 20 to 25 feet?? When you add the boulder to your jump you could be adding another 15 feet to that. This is strictly a guess on my part. Parker is about 6' tall and I'm using him for measurement. Also, it is "SWIM AT YOUR OWN RISK" because there aren't any lifeguards to be found anywhere on the lake.

Carrie and Parker spent quite a bit of time sitting and watching the jumpers. Of particular interest are the jumpers who climb the big boulder and jump off the top of it.

I didn't know if Carrie and Parker were going to muster up the courage to take the plunge or not. I think they sat up there on that huge rock for about 45 minutes before they even ventured to the edge of the cliff.

Once they were there, they spent quite a bit of time "looking" at the water.


It's pretty scary looking. Even from my vantage point from the opposite shore. Thank goodness I was able to zoom in with my camera so that I could get a good look at Carrie and Parker's expressions. (You can click on the pictures to make them bigger.)

Carrie was the first one to jump.

This is her as she is hitting the water.

Upon seeing that his sister survived the ordeal, Parker then unfolded his arms and took the plunge as well.

After the kids made their first successful jump they then proceeded to climb back up the rock to do it all over again.

Today, the kids acted like they were "old pros" and made quite a few jumps off of the cliff.


I'm an old pro at watching the scenery from a shady point of view.


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Sunday, June 29, 2008


Yes... I must apologize for having been gone for too long.

I have plenty of excuses for not having posted before now.

My latest excuse is that I was in the hospital for a week with meningitis and pneumonia

I got to come home this past Thursday.

How did I get meningitis?

I'll spare you all the details and just give you the nuts and bolts.

Remember I had told you about having surgery for a brain tumor? That's been almost five years ago. Well, the incision site has developed a "leak". Yes... I am leaking CSF (cerebral spinal fluid) and it's running out my left nostril.


This opens up an area of the body that is supposed to be a "closed system". Nothing in... and nothing out. However, in my case I have plenty running out which also gives opportunity for much more to run in.

Anyway... I hope that we can come up with a solution to repair the leak and return the open system back to a closed system.

This is something that really needs to happen.

This morning while I was drinking my coffee I had quite a surprise drop by my bird feeder.

I couldn't believe my eyes and was afraid that I was imagining what I was seeing.

I moved very slowly in my chair in preparation to slip back into the house so that I could grab my binoculars and camera, but the visitor saw the movement and flitted away.

Thankfully the shy little bird came back and I was able to make a positive ID on it.

It's a Painted Bunting!!!!!

How I have been hoping to see one of these birds. I have only heard about them and seen them in photographs. Their numbers are in decline and they are listed as a "near threatened" species.

Today I saw one for the very first time!

And I've reported my sightings to the ebird project. This project is sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the Audubon Society.

As an added bonus this male Painted Bunting has a mate. While she isn't colored in any way like her mate, her green coloring is quite pretty in and of itself.

I wish that I had better photographs of these birds, but they were at the feeder that is farthest from my vantage point and I do not have a telephoto lens for my camera.

So these closely cropped images will have to suffice for now. Perhaps, they will become more comfortable with my backyard and I'll be able to get a better picture of them both.


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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Snakes in My Backyard...

Linda in Norman (Oklahoma) sent me an e-mail quite some time ago that said something to the effect that I needed a new post to put above the (ugly) bug post.

I've accumulated a few pictures and I had thought about posting the bird pictures, or the pictures of the deer that come up to my yard every day.

But I got busy per usual and didn't get it done.

I promise that I will post some of those photographs, however tonight's post was prompted by me finding a shed snake skin in my backyard this evening. I don't know what kind of snake it was but never the less...

It was ~more~ evidence that I do seem to have quite a bit of "Snake Traffic" come through my yard.

A while back I found this little Prairie Ring-Neck snake while I was working in the yard.

I don't believe that I had seen one since I was a kid. The markings fascinated me then as it still does today.

What a striking contrast of color this little snake has.

A bright orange belly with a matching ring around its neck. These colors are brilliant when set against the black of the rest of the body.

Mom says, "The only good snake is a dead snake." Of course, she has already found two rattlesnakes this year at her house. And I agree... rattlesnakes are not welcome.

Even so, I beg to differ with her about all snakes being bad. There are good snakes. This snake in particular catches and eats slugs (among other things). I'll have to remember to tell Mom that because she is inundated with slugs in her flower beds.

I remember catching my first Prairie Ring-Neck snake. It was about this size. I was so excited that I wanted to show it to Mom. She was gone from the house at the time, so I rummaged around to find something to put my prize snake in.

For some reason, I couldn't find anything but a paper lunch sack...

and into that sack I put my snake. I then left the snake in the house and went back outside.

When Mom got home I told her that I wanted to show her something really neat. I was very proud of my catch.

I retrieved the paper sack and opened it only to find that it was empty.

I couldn't believe my eyes...

as my short little insignificant life passed before them.


When Mom found out what it was that I had LOST IN THE HOUSE she had a ~conniption fit~. She said, "I am NOT sleeping in THIS house until you FIND THAT SNAKE!!!"

I've since seen another little Prairie Ring-Neck snake in my yard. He was a little bigger. I wonder if I caught him if Mom would like to have it live in her flower bed to eat her slugs.


I'm sure that many of you have wondered how I ever lived to be as old as I am.

Parker and I spent quite a bit of time trying to get this photo of the snake's tongue sticking out. But Parker showed some remarkable patience and was able to capture one

Please ignore my dirty fingers.

I didn't take the time to go into the house to wash my hands before we took the pictures of the snake.

So the other evening after I got home I drug out the water hose. I needed to water some of my plants and flowers.

While I was watering this guy come flying around the corner straight at me. This snake was on a mission of some sort.

I sprayed him with my water hose to stop his advance which took some doing.

But I did get him to stop and at least turned the other direction. I think I made him mad too.

I kept looking at this guy and I couldn't readily identify him. He was only about two feet long and quite slender in appearance, however the markings on his head is what really caught my eye. The pattern that starts at the eye and comes down to the mouth is quite interesting.

So I grabbed my camera real quick to take a picture in hopes that I could later identify what kind of snake it was.

It took quite a bit of time to browse through a bunch of photographs, and Googled pages. But I finally got a positive ID on the snake.

It is a Checkered Garter snake. The picture associated with the link is a pretty good picture. Much better than my hastily taken shot. You can click on it to make it bigger.

I failed to tell you guys that "something" ransacked my fish pond a few weeks ago.

All of my pretty fish are gone. Vanished. Disappeared.

Most likely eaten.

From the mess that was made it is likely that it was a raccoon that "fished" them out and ate them. The lily pads were all torn up.

I did see a raccoon early Monday morning run from behind my neighbor's garage.

But it is also possible that it was this fellow, the Checkered Garter snake, that could have made a quick meal of them as well.

I don't believe in feeding wildlife, but I will have to get some more fish.

Hopefully they'll last a while longer than the last batch?



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Monday, May 26, 2008

The Giant Red-Headed Centipede...

Early one morning, about a week ago, Parker and Carrie had gone outside to catch the bus. Suddenly the front door flew open and Parker came running in the house out of breath and extremely excited.

No time for dilly-dallying. The bus was on its way. He rifled through the kitchen cabinet and produced a plastic container and quickly ran outside.

Soon, he was back in the house with his prize.

A Giant Red-Headed Centipede.


When I saw it I was totally dismayed that such a creature could be living in my yard.

Yes, these guys are predators and are venomous. They can be life-threatening to a small child or if you have a bee-sting allergy.

It has been reported that the feet of this centipede can cause lacerations on your skin. I can only imagine. His feet look like talons!

Some may not know how to tell the difference between a millipede and a centipede. Centipedes have one pair of legs per segment while millipedes have two pair.

While the Giant Red-Headed Centipede is considered to be a "good" creature to have around because it does hunt and eat large prey, I do not consider anything that is venomous to be welcome at my house. Especially if it is an aggressive creature which this centipede is known for.

Fortunately, this centipede succumbed on his own without any intervention on my part. I think it was ill, injured, or dying when Parker found it because they are known to stay on the ground and are very, very fast. Parker found this centipede on the side of our house and was able to capture it easily. It wasn't long after he had caught it that the centipede started to act strangely and roll over on its back.

Here is a link to a YouTube video of a Giant Red-Headed Centipede eating a young mouse.

And here is a science video of another variety of centipede hunting and capturing a tarantula.

These videos are examples of how strong and aggressive of a hunter they are, so don't watch these videos if you're squeamish.


Species Scolopendra heros - Giant Redheaded Centipede

Giant redheaded centipede

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Sunday, May 25, 2008

My Goldfish...

I enjoy watching the goldfish that are in our little pond.

So I thought that I would try to take a few pictures of them and share them with you guys.


Do you know how hard it is to take a picture of a fish?

This is one of the Black Moors.

It's Parker and Carrie's favorite fish because it has "bug eyes".

Look at this guy's big mouth!

We don't have the plain "gold-colored" goldfish. These have three different colors and are known as calico goldfish.

Can you see the difference in their tails? We have the regular body-type as well as the fan-tailed goldfish.

You can click on the pictures to make them bigger.

I hope that all of you are having a wonderful and safe Memorial Day Week-end!


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Thursday, May 22, 2008

The Texas Brown Tarantula...

In April, Parker found a tarantula in our backyard. It was the "prettiest" and "fluffiest" tarantula that I have ever seen.

Taken by this prize specimen of a spider, Parker and I spent the greater part of a Saturday morning taking pictures and playing with the spider. In fact, I believe that Parker took most of the photographs himself.

Parker carried it to different locations. We put it on rocks, moss, grass... You name it. We had a great time with this gentle giant.

At the time, I had thought that the tarantula's calm demeanor and deliberate activities were due to the chilled air that we were experiencing. However, after doing some reading about the Texas Brown Tarantula I have discovered that it is the most docile of the giant spiders and can make a good pet. It is also known as the Desert Tarantula.

I did not want to keep the spider in captivity. I thought that it was such a peaceful and beautiful specimen that it should live on to produce others like it. It's amazing to think that a tarantula has to live almost ten years before it is sexually mature enough to reproduce. Another unbelievable statistic is that the tarantula can live up to 25 years! I have also read some reports that they can live up to 40 years in captivity. Deciding to have a tarantula for a pet would certainly carry the weight of a long term responsibility.

If you look closely at the above picture you can see the tarantula's four eyes. You can click on the picture to see a larger image.

This spider was very, very large.

It is still amazing how this spider didn't seem to mind our "manipulations".

It allowed us to lift its legs and nearly turn it completely over.

Just so that we could see its fangs! Is that cool or what?!

There are a lot of people who kill these spiders. But they aren't venomous, and tarantulas are really good to have around because they hunt and eat big bugs like grasshoppers.

So... this is another one of our latest and greatest finds in our backyard here in the Texas Hill Country.


You ain't seen nothin' yet! Wait 'til I post pictures of our latest backyard discovery!


My daughter has changed one of this tarantula's photographs into an artistic design that has been placed on t-shirts and bags. You can find the items here.

And if you decide to buy something, well, we thank you in advance!!

Texas Brown Tarantula Fact Sheet

The Basics of Having a Pet Tarantula

University of Michigan Museum of Zoology, Aphonopelma chalcodes

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Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day 2008...

It's the little things...
Of every day life.

Happy times...
A few with strife

The proud moments...
Accomplishments, Achievements.

Disappointments are there..
Try not to despair.

Watch them grow...
And guide and admonish.

Life is layer upon layer...
A foundation is made.

Brick upon brick...
Apply the mortar of love.

Wonder at their uniqueness...
A person is in the making.

God has a purpose...
For your child in this world.

Let them grow, explore...
Fulfill their calling.

Marvel at their beauty...
God gave you a precious little pearl.

The best Mother's Days are the regular "ho hum" days. The "every days", when you realize that your child was thinking of you. Carrie and Parker took a walk to the lake a couple of weeks ago. On their way back home they picked these wildflowers. Parker braved the prickly pear cactus and picked the beautiful rose-like blooms for me. Yes... he did get a few stickers!

Silly boy.

I was quite impressed by the beautiful bouquet that they had collected for me. And it touched my heart. Imagine, a 15 and 17 year old picking wildflowers for their mother.

Carrie proceeded to make some arrangements out of the flowers. She then got the camera and took some pictures of them.

This day, a cloudy cool day in April, was a Mother's Day to celebrate.

I'm so blessed to have Mother's Days throughout the year.

Because having Mother's Day, once a year, is just not enough.


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Thursday, May 08, 2008

Carrie's Prom Pictures 2008...

As I had mentioned earlier, Carrie's prom was last Saturday evening.

She was really excited and said that she had a wonderful time.

Carrie 03May2008
Originally uploaded by itsmetj

Before the prom I took her to the park and took these photographs of her.

Carrie 03May2008
Originally uploaded by itsmetj

She looks all grown up.

Carrie 03May2008
Originally uploaded by itsmetj

It was quite a scramble to get her outfitted for this event.

Carrie had originally said that she wasn't going to go.

Carrie 03May2008
Originally uploaded by itsmetj

Nobody had asked her to be their date...

And she said that she didn't want to go with a group of girls.

Carrie 03May2008
Originally uploaded by itsmetj

But... about ten days before the prom, wouldn't you know it.

A boy asked her to be his date.

Carrie 03May2008
Originally uploaded by itsmetj

I had to work on the last week-end before the event.

Which meant that we didn't have ANY time for shopping, and we most definitely didn't have time to go and get lost in Austin looking for prom dresses. You need quite a bit of time to look for a prom dress, too. Especially if you are on a budget.

Carrie 03May2008
Originally uploaded by itsmetj

What were we going to do? Well, the Lord certainly does work in mysterious ways sometimes.

The only idea that I could come up with was to go to a resale shop to look for a dress. There just happened to be such a shop across the street from where I work.

I had made Carrie get up with me on Saturday morning so that we could start looking for an outfit as soon as I got off of work.

Carrie wasn't too excited about that idea...

Mostly because I have to be at work at 7:30 in the morning.

After work, we went across the street and...

Guess what...

A beautiful prom dress had just been brought in that morning.

And it was the ONLY prom dress in the shop.


It was just Carrie's size!


So the rest of the afternoon was spent looking for jewelry and shoes.

Not an easy task in and of itself I might add.

All of that stuff cost a WHOLE LOT more than her dress.

Oh yeah... I forgot to mention that we got the dress for $26!!

Carrie 03May2008
Originally uploaded by itsmetj


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Sunday, May 04, 2008

Boer Goats...

This is one of those things that I had meant to do oh so many months ago.

I took some video with my camera in December of a few of the kid goats. There are always some orphans as well as a few kids that need supplementing by bottle because the nanny doesn't produce enough milk. This is mostly because the nannies either have twins or triplets nursing and they just can't keep up.

It was quite a breezy and cool day, but the kids were all feeling pretty good. They are really cute and are fun to just sit and watch.

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Saturday, May 03, 2008

Week-End Projects...

Thanks to everyone for their prayers, cards, and beautiful flowers. They were greatly appreciated and your encouragement was a blessing to all of us.

At our new house there is a lot of white gravel in spaces that could be used for flower beds. Under these layers of rocks is a heavy duty fabric, also known as weed guard, which helps prevent any botanical being from emerging from the earth. It's a form of "waterless landscaping" that is used quite frequently in these dry parts of Texas. But... as you all know, I prefer plants and flowers to rocks and I find this form of landscaping to be very, very... uhmm ... well... just plain ugly.

In my backyard, next to the deck and the brick walk, was such a strip of rock landscaping. The only green stuff there was monkey grass. I had planned on transforming that space into a cute little flowerbed (probably less the monkey grass), but after I had removed all the rocks and then pulled up the weed guard there was a gruesome discovery. I found that the bottom board of the decking was beginning to show signs of decay due to being constantly wet. I then realized that I wouldn't be able to have a flower bed there because watering my plants would destroy my deck. In fact, I was faced with removing as much dirt as possible so that it would not be touching the wood.

What was I going to do now? I couldn't replace all those rocks because it was obvious that they were causing a problem against the wood as well.

I was very upset and terribly disappointed in the situation. The thought of having ~plain dirt~ next to my deck was inconceivable.

All of my free time, that I use for day dreaming and stuff, was then consumed by trying to figure out how to solve 'the problem'.

What could I do with

~less dirt

~a significant slope to the ground

~low decking

and without using that horrible white gravel?

I finally came up with a fantastic idea! It was possibly an idea that was bigger than me and the kids put together, but once I had hatched the notion I was determined to make it work.

I spent hours on the internet searching for information. I visited lots of how-to sites. It seemed like a formidable task.

However, my idea had now become a dream. And I was determined to make it happen.

So... here is my little "Backyard Dream" that the kids and I did in one week-end. Of course this dream has led to another proposition that is much larger and quite a bit more expensive. (Think several thousand dollars here.)

I'm now dreaming of a rather large waterfall with a Koi pond.

*toothy grin*

But it will have to wait quite a while before it comes to fruition. (Like years!)

I have other week-end projects that I have to tackle.

This Saturday?

I have to figure out how to fix Carrie's naturally curly hair for tonight's prom!

We went to a water landscaping company and was able to purchase some heavy duty rubber pond material that would become the bed of our stream. We attached the long edge of the lining that was next to the deck with a strip of 1x2" cedar with galvanized nails.

The water landscaping store had lots of beautiful fountains. There were so many different styles and types.

ALL of them were EXPENSIVE. Some were in the thousands of dollars!

We went to the 'close-out' section and this little fountain was there. It had originally been 5' tall. Due to an accident, it had fallen and broke in half. The base also has a couple of chips on the side. I was able to negotiate a very good price for this 100+ pound section of the fountain. It had originally retailed for $800. I paid a lot less than that. (Think ~very good deal~ here.)

At the end of the stream is a pond. Water is pumped from the pond, up the stream, and to the base of the fountain. There is a diverter in front of the fountain. Part of the water goes up the inside of the fountain. The main volume of the water comes out in front of the fountain. The water in the front of the fountain provides the volume needed for our running stream. Our pump moves 250 gallons per hour (gph).

Parker really seemed to enjoy constructing the stream. He didn't like the digging part at all though.

The only rocks that we bought were the smooth round 'river rock'. We used those rocks to cover the very bottom of the stream and to hide the flexible pipe that moves the water from the pond to the head of the stream and the fountain. There a few rocks that had been collected over the years, such as the lava rock. The rest of the rocks are native stones that we had in the yard and surrounding areas. Some of the limestone rocks are from Mom and Dad's pasture.

I hope that Mom doesn't miss them.


This is looking up the stream at ground level at the very top edge of the pond.

I left the existing monkey grass. I think that it helps to add a "water's edge" feel to the stream.

I really like this fountain. The birds like it too. The goldfinches enjoy drinking from little bubble of water that it makes on the top. Some of the goldfinches cling to the side of the fountain to drink.

However, the other day I saw an amazing sight. A tiny hummingbird took a bath on the top of my fountain. I had never seen a hummingbird take a bath before! It was wonderful!

I'm going to try to grow some Scotch moss here. We'll see what happens. Hopefully it will fill the entire area in with moss.

In the mean time... I have to have an Impatiens there too!

This is looking downstream. There is an old stump that was being used as part of the landscape here at the very end. You can see one of our cats there. The cats don't like to drink water out of their bowl any more. They prefer drinking the water out of the stream now.

I have two bog plants. One is at the bottom of the stream and the other is a papyrus which is in the pond. I also have water lilies in the pond and nine goldfish. The goldfish consist of three calico, three fantailed calico, and three black moors. These guys will eat up any mosquito larvae that may get hatched in the pond. The water from the stream "falls" about three to four inches into the pond. This falling water makes a most pleasant sound to me. The stream and fountain add a light trickling sound as well.

I love to sit on my back porch. I watch the birds and listen to their calls. Now that I have a stream and pond, it just adds so much more to my "little piece of Texas".


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