Today’s Appalachian Adventure

In between the on and off rain storms, I managed to get a few things done today. First off, we basically have the construction phase of the deck finished:

Need to paint the last board, do some touch up painting, powerwash, and then stain the deck and then hang the canopy and I am done. HEY MOM AND DAD SOME WICKER FURNITURE WOULD BE A SUPER PRESENT.

Also got tired of waiting for sunny weather so I just put a tarp down in the dining room, set up the sawhorses, and put another coat of polyurethane on the shelves. Afterwards, Dom, Gerald, and I went berry picking. Went to a bunch of places I used to explore when I was a kid, and ran into just fields and fields of milkweed:

So many bees. It was a bit early to do really productive berry picking, but we did scout out a bunch of places that will be loaded with berries in a few days. We did end up with about a half gallon for 90 minutes of tromping around. I washed them all up and put them in the freezer, and will just keep adding to it until I have a couple gallons and can make jam:

I’m tired. Tomorrow I have a bunch to do in the big city, but I am picking up Tammy for the weekend because it is my birthday and her husband is going out of town, and we have a lot of projects and things planned, so I am looking forward to the weekend.

45 replies
  1. 1
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    Oh yeah, you have a birthday right around now, don’t you? Every year I mean to enter it in my calendar, and every year I don’t.

    Whenever it is, John, hope it’s happy AND that Ma and Pa Cole give you the present of your dreams.

    Candy is dandy,
    But wicker is quicker.

  2. 2
    Steeplejack says:


    Cole’s birthday is Saturday, I believe.

  3. 3
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @ John Cole:

    it is my birthday and her husband is going out of town, and we have a lot of projects and things planned

    You are probably the only person on the planet who could write this with a straight face, and your followers are just all “Aww, that’s so sweet.”

    Have a great time!

  4. 4
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    Thanks, Steep. I’m sure I have it noted somewhere.

  5. 5
    joel hanes says:

    So many bees.

    This is wonderful news.

    Like many insects, bees are in trouble in many locales.
    If you have bees, you probably have enough insects to keep birds fed.
    (Bird populations are falling because insect populations are falling)

  6. 6
    the Conster says:

    Milkweed is critical to Monarchs. Don’t ever pull it.

    The deck is amazing! It will be such a happy place!

    Happy Early Birthday John!

  7. 7
    A Ghost To Most says:

    Looks great, JC. And you have the satisfaction of knowing you did the job right.

  8. 8
    mrmoshpotato says:

    I hope the doggos and Steve helped with the shelves.

  9. 9
    A Ghost To Most says:

    @joel hanes: The original owners of our house live behind us , and are master gardeners, Every plant carefully chosen for a spot. Funny thing is, all the bees seem to be in our yard, gorging themselves on our large catmint holdings.

  10. 10
    NotMax says:

    it is my birthday and her husband is going out of town,

    Think I’ve seen this movie, starring either Virginia Bruce or Dolores Del Rio, I forget which.


  11. 11
    NYCMT says:

    Black caps! We used to have canes of those behind Dad’s office. The most delicious wild berry.

  12. 12
    SWMBO says:

    Happy Birthday! Hope you get all the wonderful things you wish for yourself.
    In other news, how is Rosie? Did she get over her deck misadventures?

  13. 13
    NotMax says:

    Don’t automatically discount getting bamboo instead of wicker for outdoor use. Example.

  14. 14
    Mary G says:

    This makes me happy. It lacks only pet pictures.

  15. 15
    Duane says:

    Deck looks really good Cole. If you get wicker buy some cushions for it.

  16. 16
    kjazz says:

    Nice deck. You should grow wisteria over that pergola. Took us about 3-4 years to grow it over ours, and it covers it nicely now. Especially now, as the flowers are coming out.

  17. 17
    geg6 says:

    Looks great, Cole. I love a good pergola.

    How’s Rosie doing after her misadventure?

  18. 18
    Quaker in a Basement says:

    I was telling my daughter about blackberry picking in Alabama when I visited my grandparents long ago. I miss those berries. I do NOT miss the chiggers.

  19. 19
    debbie says:

    Black raspberries are hard to find anymore.

  20. 20
    dnfree says:

    I don’t think I’ve previously noticed the outside basement entrance (with what for some reason we used to call “bomb bay doors” when I was young). Brings back memories!

  21. 21
    NotMax says:

    Occurs to me you already have an ice cream maker. Maybe a berry sorbet?

  22. 22
    Aleta says:

    It’s only rained twice here. April 12-May 8 and May 10-last Monday.

  23. 23
    The Gray Adder says:

    Damn, I miss wild black raspberries.

  24. 24
    Kelly says:

    Strawberries are ripe here in the Cascade foothills. The invasive but delicious and highly productive Himalayan blackberries will be ripe around early August. We’ll pick a bunch then.

  25. 25
    The Gray Adder says:

    @debbie: Depends on what part of the country you live in. We had then all along the fenceline when we lived in upstate NY (near Utica). If you’re in the area, try the Erie Canalway trail.

  26. 26
    Tams says:

    Fun times in the small city, I cannot wait! And to be honest, truly, it’s not me you want around… it’s sweet Samantha you want cuddles with for a few days.

  27. 27
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @The Gray Adder:


    I just pronounced that in my head as though it were an Italian word for an exotic and delicious pasta.

  28. 28
    debbie says:

    @The Gray Adder:

    No such luck, but my farmers market will have them in a week or two. I just have to be sure to get there before they sell out.

  29. 29
    J R in WV says:

    Well, in this part of Appalachia, we’ve had a ton of rain. 1.25 inches 2 nights ago, 7/8 night before last, a quarter inch last night, more rain expected. And humid, what a surprise.

    Our house is against a rock wall on the West, and a creek runs along the East side. North is the high ridge above us, and South is the driveway up to the house, which is longer north and south.

    Some time after we excavated and built the house, with about 8 inches to spare between the foundation wall and the rock wall of the hillside, a wet weather spring began flowing out of the mountain side right opposite the front door, at the SW edge of the house… not a corner, that end of the house is round.

    We built a little pond to catch that spring, and throw the water to the South away from the foundation… it was lined with left over roofing rubber with rocks around it, now all covered with moss. And then the pond liner sprang a leak. Oops.

    So today a landscape guy came out to see about rebuilding the pond, improving it by building it with a flat bottom, so we can set water plants in pots on it. Deeper, so we can have more critters in it. And the frogs of the forest floor will return, once it holds water year around. We used to be able to tell the seasons by the sounds of the different frogs out the front door. That will resume when we get this done, probably come August. They’re going to put in a 210 foot path too. From where we park around through the woods to the front door.

    While we were walking up the path, I noticed that the ramps, which came up early in spring and have been gone for weeks now, are in bloom now, spikes coming up from where the patches of ramps were thickest, with round spheres of pretty white blooms on top. So cool. Appalachian woods in early summer.

    I knew that ramps bloomed, but haven’t seen them before. These are the ramps that I’ve planted along the path south of the house on the hillside. They were eaten to extinction around here back when times were really hard for the subsistence farmers had big families and not enough put back for the winter time. But now they’re back, here at least!

  30. 30
    NotMax says:


    There’s a blue joke dating from the burlesque-era which leads up to a reveal of this newspaper headline:

    5000 Men Lay Virginia Pipeline


  31. 31
    SiubhanDuinne says:


    Hah! One of my favourite jokes EVAH!

  32. 32
    Steeplejack says:


    Mmm, fenceline with sausage and mushrooms . . . Nick Stellino has a very good recipe.

  33. 33
    NotMax says:


    Drawback being that later on you still have to picket from between the teeth.

    /waiter, veal, etc.


  34. 34
    Steeplejack says:



  35. 35
    mrmoshpotato says:

    @NotMax: I want to hit you with 2 drums and a cymbal.

  36. 36
    Monkeyfister says:

    That potful looks my harvest from out back. A now deceased co-worker gave me a bunch of thornless blackberry starters about four years ago, and they are really just setting proper mature canes, as i control their spread. I’ll probably get another two harvests like that. I really need to move them to a better place where I can really start expansion and orcharding.

  37. 37

    @Steeplejack: No good recipe includes fungus.

  38. 38
    NotMax says:


    Chicken marsala. ’nuff said.

  39. 39
    Jeffro says:

    Some front-pager should put this up tomorrow morning: Why Biden Can’t Take Us Back to Normal

    …political polarization is a real, ongoing historical phenomenon in the United States, and it exists outside of Washington. A 2018 Pew Research Center survey found, for instance, vast gaps between the political priorities of Republican and Democratic voters. “71% of Democratic voters say the way racial and ethnic minorities are treated by the criminal justice system is a very big problem for the country,” Pew’s report read, “compared with just 10% of Republican voters.” There were other major gulfs: Seventy-five percent of Republicans felt that illegal immigration is a major problem, while only 19 percent of Democrats said so, and Democrats were 61 percentage points more likely than Republicans to say the same of climate change.

    Such deep disparities can’t feasibly be solved by better relations between particular politicians. They exist among voters themselves and are thus reflected in the antagonistic tactics of legislators and, lately, the president. As the Pew Research Center pointed out in a 2014 report, Americans are more divided along partisan lines now than they have been at any point in the past two decades, meaning, in Pew’s words: “92% of Republicans are to the right of the median Democrat, and 94% of Democrats are to the left of the median Republican.” Pressing those widely varied medians back together may theoretically be possible, but it’s hard to see how a more genteel individual in the Oval Office could radically alter such a long-running trend unfolding on the ground among ordinary voters. After all, even the ever-equanimous Barack Obama remains the most polarizing president in recent history — though he may well be outdone by President Trump.

    And what Trump has done, too, seems impossible to simply reverse. Whatever illusions Americans may have maintained about the inviolable dignity of the presidency and the knowing competency of the electorate writ large ought to be wiped out by now, similar to Richard M. Nixon’s effect on public trust in the government. And if Jimmy Carter, for all his moral rectitude, self-evident decency and gentle demeanor, couldn’t reverse the cynical trend in U.S. politics, then Biden, with his unctuous mien and tendency to say the worst possible thing at the worst possible time, doesn’t stand a chance.

    None of which means there aren’t better days ahead: It just means that we likely won’t get there by pursuing the past. The normal of yesteryear wasn’t particularly pleasant for great numbers of Americans and is inaccessible to us now anyway, so why chase it? Biden’s campaign may promise a return to the ordinary, but that’s illusory; what’s possible is a different, better politics and political culture in the future. And there’s no message issuing from the Biden campaign about how to get there from here.

    No going back but we WILL go forward

  40. 40
    oatler. says:

    @NotMax: If all the Virginia women were laid end to end I’d pipeline… aw forget it.

  41. 41
  42. 42

    @Jeffro: Adam’s made this point.

  43. 43
    mrmoshpotato says:


    Chicken marsala. ’nuff said.

    Mic drop sinking Glendale, CA!

  44. 44
    rikyrah says:

    Everything looks great 🤗

  45. 45
    EthylEster says:

    I hope you inspected the entire deck and replaced all problematic support beams, given that the pergola supports are resting on old planks.

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