Sunday, May 30, 2010

Blueberries!! Blackberries!!

This is information taken  directly from the internet. Last summer my family and I enjoyed picking our own blueberries and blackberries so much that I returned twice more to have more in the freezer! Take an ice chest, stop when you get hot, cool off, then return to the fields! Just moderate your activity with the weather temperature.

DESOTO Parish: Shuqalak Farms - blueberries and blackberries

Gravel Pointe Road, Frierson, LA, Phone: 318-797-8273. Email: Open: 7 days a week from 7 am to 7 pm from June to July 15th. Directions: I-49 South Exit 186,Left Hwy175 North 2 miles Turn Right on Gravel Point Road. Turn right at Shuqualak Farms.

A visitor writes: "This is a family owned farm. We pick blueberries and blackberries here every year. You have the option to pick or they pick for a few dollars more a gallon. They clean and bag the berries for you. It is a wonder [sic] experience for the kids." (ADDED: June 20, 2008) (UPDATED: May 27, 2009)

 Hillcrest Blueberry Farm
Note: I just added (June 13, 2014) this next farm--Hillcrest Blueberry Farm, located a mile south of Gloster, La. and 15 miles (20 minutes) south of Shreveport.  Take I-49 S from Shreveport toward Alexandria, take exit 186 for La 175 toward Kingston, turn right at LA 175, turn right at La 5, turn left at Ferguson Rd, then voila! on the right is the farm!
Caddo Parish

Lenox Acres Blueberry Farm - blackberries, blueberries, restrooms

6501 Vardaman Road, Keithville, LA 71047. Phone: 318-925-8461. Alternate Phone: 318-286-9076. Email: Open: Tuesday to Saturday from 7 a;m to 11:am Evening pick Tuesday and Thursday only 5 pm to 8 pm Closed Sunday and Monday. Directions: Go south on Mansfield Road (Hwy 171) from the intersection with Bert Kouns Industrial Loop approximately 8.5 miles to a stoplight in Stonewall, La. Turn right on Stonewall Road and go west approximately 2.5 miles to intersection with Keithville-Keatchie Road Turn left and go south half mile to Vardaman Road. Turn right on Vardaman Road and go west 1.1 miles to entrance on left hand side of the road. Click here for a map and directions. Blueberries and Blackberries: June 1 to July 10. Payment: Cash, Check. (ADDED: June 08, 2009) (UPDATED: April 07, 2010)

Poverty Hollow Farms - blueberries, figs,

9143 Crawford Road, Oil City, LA 71061. Phone: 318-995-7924. Alternate Phone: 318-995-7117. Email: Open: Sunday through Saturday, 7am to dark. Directions: Highway 1 north & I-220 - north to "Y." Take left fork (Hwy 1) to Vivian & OIl City. Continue north until you CROSS Caddo Lake. At first blinking light make 45 degree right turn at La Highway 538. Continue north through Oil City. Turn right onto Crawford Road, continue 1/2 mile. Turn right into grey gravel driveway. Sign by road reads "Poverty Hollow Farms." Continue south on driveway. Pull in behind the green house. Click here for a map and directions. Blueberries: 01 June to 31 July, Figs: 15 July to 10 August. Payment: Cash, Check. (ADDED: July 24, 2009)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Endings have beginnings...

Carolina became a kindergarten graduate on Wednesday. She's ready for first grade. She's ready to open those books and start as an emergent reader. When she was two years old, she sat in her great-grandmother's lap and so plaintively asked: "When will I be able to read like Chelsea?" (her older sister). Carolina loves books. She loves stories, her favorite being "Three Little Pigs." You know how we all have that one fairy tale that excites our imagination in secret, mystical ways? That's Carolina's--three little pigs. What is her connection? Being thrown out? Having a wolf/monster at the door? Cooking/Defeating that wolf? For now, Carolina is set for summer and looks forward to first grade. First grade!

The wolves are back!

I've been in love with wolves for as long as I can remember, perhaps from childhood when I read Jack London. When I read a recent review of "Never Cry Wolf," by an Amazon friend, I had to respond with this newly acquired book in the school library where I work, "The Wolves Are Back," by another long-time wolf-lover, Jean Craighead George and illustrator, Wendell Minor. As a lovely touch, Minor declared his dedication to "All the people who made it possible for the wolves to return to Yellowstone."

On each page of script, the final sentence is: "The wolves are back!" On that first page the reader learns that the wolf pack has killed an elk. On the second page we learn that others also eat from that kill: ravens, a golden eagle, a grizzly bear, magpies, mice,and sexton beetles. "The valley was sharing food again. The wolves were back."

On the third page of script is the horrid back story. By 1926 there were no more wolves in the forty-eight states. Directors of the national parks had given the go-ahead for hunters and ranchers to kill every single wolf they saw. Reader, did you know that? (I'm assuming this is true.) Only gentle animals were allowed to roam in national parks: deer, elk, antelope.

By request from park visitors who wanted to hear the wolves howl, ten adult wolves were returned to Yellowstone in 1995. With them they caused the return of the Vesper sparrow. How? The elk herds had eaten all the grasses the bird needed for food and nesting. The wolves frightened the elk into the mountains, the grasses grew back, and the birds returned.

A similar occurrence with bison and flycatchers. When erosion stopped because grasses grew back, the beaver found willows to use to create dams and ponds and waterbirds and fish and frogs and dragonflies. The wolves thinned out the coyotes (do wolves eat coyotes?!), squirrels returned, badgers returned.

With grasses and ponds came flowers and bees and butterflies, hummingbirds.

"The wilderness is in balance again." Please ask why. Why? "The wolves are back."

If all this seems simplistic, please remember this is a children's story with information made approachable for children. Pleasing story and breathtaking artwork combined, children will love this book. I know because the classes I read to absolutely loved it, proving that romance with wolves extends beyond age barriers!

The illustrations are just as heart-inspiring and poetic as the script. I wish I could tell you what artistic technique Minor used, but I don't know what he used or how. Close examination shows individual hair strokes on the wolves and all the other animals. The variety of greens on the rolling hills and fields is simply breathtaking. Amazing!

Don't miss this beautiful book! It's not just for children!

Cypress knees advantage

Early morning on the bayou, algae and all!

Now a close-up of cypress knees!
This morning I found a mysterious, single duck egg just pretty much laying around. No ducks, male or female, in attendance, just one abandoned duck egg!


Friday, May 28, 2010

Addendum 3: Oh happy day! Success!

The saga continues--oh happy day, Mallard Number Three was allowed to join the close-knit group!! Frankly, I was delighted and relieved to see that Mallard Three was back in the covey, swimming guard over his future eggs, his future children. It was his right! First in, then out. Then demanding back in!

I went down below to work again in my garden yesterday. I heard them chatting away, swimming parallel along the bank toward my yard and landing. I couldn't see them because of the stand of trees, but when they swam past those and into the open--oh I almost whooped for joy. All four males and Mama-Duck-to-be! Three mallards and the White Duck. I wonder how the situation was resolved. The BLue Heron? A quiet agreement among gentlemen? Justice prevailed, nevertheless--or what seems like justice to me.

On Saturday, Third Mallard was part of the group, then not part of the group on Sunday. On Monday, he tried and tried and was rejected and rejected from rejoining the group. On Tuesday, he LOUDLY demaded his justice! If not with men, then with ducks! Oh happy day! On Thursday, he's back in!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Addendum 2: Try, try again, screeching and hollering!

Third mallard is still trying to reclaim his post as third/second/first mater with Mama-Duck-to-be. Yesterday, he made an effort to rejoin his group, but was chased away. Today (Tuesday), oh my goodness. That mallard was screaming and quacking and pitching a furor over his loss, his line of progeny. He rasied a ruckus today!!! He let everyone, both up and down the bayou, both animal and human, know that he was VERY upset with the chain of command. Still, the two mallards and Cheater White Duck adamantly deflected all his claims, his efforts, his ruckus. "Go on," they told him. "You Lose!" Even the Blue Heron got into the screaming match, in support of the third mallard. No matter. Third Mallard still did not get into the Circle of Life--the four. 

Know what Mama-Duck-to-be said about it all: "Whatever." What more could she say? She's just a female in a long line of females. That's the way of life for females in the wild and some in the tame.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Addendum: White duck has been accepted!!

I went down below late yesterday to work a bit more in my garden and there was the crew: Mama Duck and her three suitors/maters/fathers-to-be, including the white duck. They were nestled in the grass at the top of the low bank adjoining the bayou, snoozing.

I sat in the grass to watch them awhile, when out of my perepheal vision, I saw a third mallard swimming determinedly across the bayou. At water's edge he dipped out onto land and waddled and hopped onto the ledge to join the others. Oh no, one of the settled mallards said. Who are you and what do you think you're doing? Out, out, out!

That poor mallard tried and tried to join them, but no, the others were not having him. My question is: Was he one of the original three mallards who escorted Ms Duck on Saturday? How did White Duck displace him? Was he one of the fathers? Or an interloper?

I'm not a duck, privy to duck talk and maybe will never know. Oh how devastating to be rejected! Ducks! Interesting creatures!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Duck life

Down here on the bayou we have ducks, i. e. mallards and those white ducks. There are probably five mallard males to one female. I don't know the sex of the whites because males and females look identical (to me). During mating season--which I thought was over!--the mallard hen is courted and mated by as many males as other males allow. Typically, I've seen groups of three dominate and mate, then protect her until the ducklings hatch.

Today I witnessed five males, that's four mallard males and one white male, ahem, have a go at her. Since the white is not one of them, the mallard males (mm from here on) really tried to prevent this miscegenation. They failed. He held her under the water so long that I thought she would drown. But no, it all worked out. She swam for the edge, climbed up on a log and started preening and shaking her tail feathers. Oh, yes, she did. Each of the males gathered near her and also preened and kind of stood in the water, flapping their wings as if bragging. (All of this is human interpretation.)

I didn't get my camera until mating was over, so I missed that part. Here is a series of photos which tell the story....after!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Some of the most amazing flowers blossomed this spring in my yard and pots. These gorgeous lilies are one example. Their rich and vivid color are simply breathtaking, so much that I put this picture as my cell wallpaper and now here in a post.

I haven't gotten into the dirt yet (with its healing powers) because I have spent so long raking and bagging 50 bags of leaves and pollen droppings from the huge pin oak tree in the front yard. Then I had to go "down below" and pull out the layer of weeks covering my back yard below the deck and next to the bayou. I'm told that the bayou was once the Red River now diverted and reduced to bayou status. Whatever, I love it and the huge cypress tree that grows just inside the depths of the water.

I witnessed two sets of ducks--three males and one female in each set--mate in my yard. It wasn't pleasant but better than when they get her in the water and hold her head under. Such short unpleasantness produced a flock of nine ducklings. The second set of parents have not produced yet. An odd thing this year is the discovery of two abandoned duck eggs, one tucked in under some weeds next to a tiny cypress tree and the other in the open space of a cypress knee. I don't know what that was about. I also found the glass egg I set out last fall. It was tucked under a cement block along the sloping hill to the bayou. I have to walk uneven-legged on this yard. Mowing is quite the adventure as well!

There's a blue heron that fishes the banks and squawks and flies off when I appear. Two white egrets, but not together, also live and work along the banks. Birds do not have an easy life. In our neighborhood there are these half-breed pigeon/doves that mixed blood sometime back, creating huge breasts and ringed necks. Robins deck the front yard. One befriended me last year when I was still digging a new flower bed. I tossed him all the grubs I found. He blessed me (I think).

My vegetable garden is next. I'm a little late but I will plant accordingly.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Distortions and hammers on ordinary blogs

" I know a woman reviewer on Amazon that will write about her feelings, about books, products, with such insight- but humiliate you, in comments deliberately seek to inflame, distort, she was nicknamed for this "the hammer," she has commented on my mothering, teaching, life, goes onto and into characters I would think to carry on her strange dichotomous relating."

The above is taken from a recent blog by a woman who is the very model of twisting, distorting, inflaming because at her core is a very angry and vengeful woman. She has written and written and written about me--mostly inflamatory and distorted things, seizing on half-truths to twist them into something totally different.

Her latest little ditty is to brand me "the hammer." The most amazing thing is that she took this term out of context to make it become what she wanted to say about me. I reviewed a hammer on Amazon because I review home improvement products. One of my Amazon friends dubbed me "Hammer Judy," a name meant in fondness. This angry blogger believes that I attack her out of the blue when in actuality she always attacks first. Have I attacked her? Of course. Have I said negative things about her? Of course. When attacked, I do often respond (not a wise thing, especially in this case). Does she EVER mention that I apologized publicly and that she has never apologized for a single thing! She even believes that she was right to attack me. Oh brother!

I first met her as a reviewer on Amazon. She wrote insightful, amazing reviews and I--oh woe!--befriended her. I paid hell for that friendship eventually with thousands of negative votes and long, long notes that attacked me personally and all my circle of friends. Why? No one could ever figure out what would set her off or ticked her tail! She has an uncanny ability take my words, twist and distort them and use them to attack me!. To read her comments, one would think every word she writes is true--and I would have believed her if her comments hadn't been against me. That's how I know what she writes is half-filled with poison and half with the truth. Therein lies the problem: How does one distinguish between her reality and her delusions? Answer: with difficulty! She will also take things I say and incorporate them into her rants as if subsuming my qualities. Strange...

Foolish me, I befriended her twice--after a long cooling down period and because she began to respond to the reviews of a mutual friend who was always kind to her.  Foolish, foolish me. This time what caused her to implode was that mutual friend's very negative review of a book both she and I love. Her response to him was very personal, very negative, and far too extreme. Then she wanted me to choose her or him. I chose him. I paid again with hostility and twisted comments, things that just make one's mouth hang open with the orneriness and downright sickness behind the words.

I'm finally responding to her latest round of attacks on me, twisting a term of fondness into one of hatefulness. I am "the Hammer,' and I'm striking this blow for myself.

Addendum: There's much more to this story--there's always more, it seems--but dealing with this person is a no-win situation in that she does not "hear" the other side--merely her own blown almost beyond recognition. I was married to a person who, when wrong, would vociferously take whatever the situation and twist it to create a horrific verbal attack of unequal proportions in order to hide his own wrong. I thought he was the only person like that-- until now.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Cleaning out winter!

After an incredibly cold winter with freeze after freeze I could not imagine anything coming up this spring. But look! Entire clusters of dianthiuses! The irises have already bloomed. You know they are the only plant not to drop leaves. Instead, they just curl in on themselves, self fertilizing. Let's see what else we have...

A little wider view of the front bed. There was a magnolia tree growing smack dab next to the driveway when I moved in seven years ago. I had it cut down! Magnolia trees--the state tree of Louisiana-- are beautiful. The lemony aroma of the creamy yellow and white flowers is just remarkable. But oh! What a mess those trees make all year long. Two years ago I dug and dug to remove the stump and these long horizontal roots which fed toadstools all the time. What a job--it lasted one and one-half years getting those roots out! But the flower garden I created is so worth it. These are the plants that came up for the first time. I've done nothing to this garden except remove dead leaves from a neighbor's pin oak tree.

This is my back garden. I call it my English garden because it is small and dotted with hostas and azaleas. Well, I don't know what makes an English garden, but it feels like one. I just started cleaning out winter here. But look at the amazing hosta leaves! It is a mystery why the size of the leaves tripled in size. But I'm pleased!

Every spring these vivid yellow flowers spring up from this ground cover. When they finish blooming, I'll go round and pluck them off. The entire stem comes right off without damaging the new plant that grows at the bottom and continues on into the fall. One of God's amazing creations!

A favorite souvenir

A favorite souvenir
These are my two girls from Ireland!

Judy's shared items

Books on my very ambitious TBR list (*denotes read)

  • *Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever by Mem Fox
  • The Odd Women by George Gissing
  • The Zen of Fish by Trevor Corson
  • How to Get Your Child to Love Reading by Esme Raji Codell
  • The Cod Tale by Mark Kurlansky
  • In This House of Brede by Rumer Godden
  • *Joan of Arc by Mark Twain
  • Dag Hammarskjold by Elizabeth Rider Montgomery
  • The Wisdom in the Hebrew Alphabet by Rabbi Michael L. Munk
  • Children of Strangers by Lyle Saxon
  • Spiritual Writings by Flannery O'Connor
  • Nightmares and Visions: Flannery O'Connor and the Catholic Grotesque by Gilbert H. Muller
  • The Violent Bear It Away by Flannery O'Connor
  • Flannery O'Connor's South by Robert Coles
  • Wise Blood by Flannery O'Connor
  • Sylvanus Now by Donna Morrissey
  • *Vincent de Paul by Margaret Ann Hubbard
  • Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi
  • A Briefer History of Time by Stephen Hawking
  • The Library at Night by Alberto Manguel
  • Readicide by Kelly Gallagher
  • *Ruined by Paula Morris
  • Say You're Not One of Them by Uwem Akpan
  • Wandering Star by J.M.G. Le Clezio
  • Silence by Shusaku Endo
  • *The Assault by Harry Mulisch
  • Kari's Saga by Robert Jansson
  • *The German Mujahid by Boualem Sansal
  • Western Skies by Joseph Conrad
  • *The Giver by Lois Lowery
  • *Imperium by Ryszard Kapuscinski

School Library Journal - NeverEndingSearch


A semester course in one book about the Soviet Union. Click on image for my review.