Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What Nice Weather We've Been Having!

The weather since the first of the year has been marvelous! Most days the highs have been above 50 Fahrenheit, and except for two nights in early February, the lows have been above freezing.We've had lots of sunny days, and lately the highs have been pushing seventy.

That's not to say there's not been rain and the occasional storm.In fact, The Weather Channel is predicting severe spring thunderstorms today and the rest of the week.

I've taken advantage of the early spring; for the past three weeks I've been working outside.

Cheap Eats: Ingles

The Ingles grocery store just down the street from Pine Lake offers lunch seven days a week and breakfast Monday through Saturday for ridiculously low prices. Breakfast costs less than four dollars, and lunch less than five.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Why I Bought My Miata

If you see a little red convertible with the top down around town, it might be Mike Tarnower-- but most likely it will be me.

I love my Miata. Here's why I have mine.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Leaf Squad

Because Pine Lake needs a new place to put collected yard debris, and because the city workforce now consists of one person (Matt Wells, below, in his signature shades), the city council has asked citizens to refrain from putting branches and bags of leaves on the curb.

On Saturday, and again today, citizen volunteers joined Matt, mayor Kathie DeNobriga, and Phil Howland to pick up bags that have accumulated in front of houses (including my own house). I was one of the volunteers. I spent two hours and had a good time.

Above, Phil Howland drives the city's front-end loader. Note the leaf bags which have fallen apart. That's what they're supposed to do.

Below, Tuesday's leaf team.

Standing (L to R): City Worker Matt Wells, Mayor Kathie DeNobriga, City Administrator (His Title Keeps Changing) Phil Howland, Alan Gordon. In Truck: Paul Reardon, Kim Fugate.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Cheap Eats: Mi Casa Tex-Mex Restaurant

This is the first of a series of posts about inexpensive places to eat in and near the city.

This little yellow house on Rockbridge Road has seen service as a number of restaurants, most of which were open only intermittently and which soon went out of business.

Hopefully the building has now found a permanent tenant.

Michelle Raimirez and Carey Haynie are the owners and operators of Mi Casa Tex-Mex Restaurant. They're open Monday through Saturday and serve breakfast all day. They've been open for a couple of months.

Michelle is from Texas, so the food is classic Tex-Mex-- tacos, tostadas, burritos, enchiladas. There's a fresh bar with all sorts of sauces and salsas. Prices are reasonable, service is good, and the food is delicious. And best of all, it's less than a mile from Pine Lake!

Michelle and Carey are enthusiastic about their restaurant and happy to accommodate their patrons.

Please stop by and try this great new restaurant.

Holes in Bradford Pear

I just noticed these holes in the big Bradford pear in my yard.

They're regularly spaced, about a quarter-inch apart, forming lines every five inches or so from about a foot above the ground as high as I could see-- and they are only on the southern half of the trunk, and on just one of the several trunks:

Camellias and Daffodils

I consider daffodils the first harbingers of spring-- and they're in full glory all up and down Pine Drive.

So are assorted camellias around town.These photos are from a bush in my yard-- it's been blooming since November and is still going strong.

In the past couple of days I've seen tulip trees aflame, and the Carolina jessamine on my gazebo has started to bloom:

Thursday, February 2, 2012

My Little Buddy

I spent the last couple of days removing the fall's accumulation of leaves in my yard. Today, near the back of my lot, I spotted this little fellow while raking. He's about 10" to 12" long.

As I bent to get a look at him he thrust at me a couple of times, then stopped moving. I'm pretty sure it was part of his defensive pattern, but there's a chance the rake hurt him. I hope not.

I gently moved him into the leaves, but not before running into the house to get my camera.

The parallel lines on the back, the markings on the head, and the light underbelly (not seen in the photo) indicate he's a Dekay's brown snake, according to my herps field guides. It was undoubtedly adult, since the species grows only to 10" or so.

Did I tell you my master's thesis was on the feeding behavior of garter snakes? I lived in the reptile lab for three years.

This is the first you're hearing of it? Imagine that! How could I not have told you!?

Brown snakes are harmless, of course-- they feed snails and slugs-- but even if he'd been a copperhead or rattlesnake I would have let him go. Snakes are beneficial.