Hot, muggy weather returned to my realm this past weekend, and with it came an abundance of wildlife.
Yesterday, while spending the day with Daughter No. 4, we caught four turtles, one rat snake, one glass lizard, wildflowers galore, and, the highlight of the day, a baby turkey, or poult.
(Of course, we rang up a big fat zero on the day’s stated goal: catching fish.)
Now, no offense to aficionados of turtles, snakes or glass lizards, but catching the baby turkey was definitely the highlight.
While driving in a rural part of a rural county toward mid-afternoon we spied a hen on the side of the road. My daughter also caught sight of several youngsters, so I stopped the car and set off into the underbrush while she grabbed the camera.
The hen immediately began clucking and trotting in large circles around me, trying to draw me away from her babies. My daughter began taking pictures every time the hen ventured near her while I crouched in the brush stock still, trying to catch sight or sound of the youngsters.
In a case that likely has more than a few people checking their own personal genealogy, New York authorities say that a 97-year old who died last year left behind an estate valued at nearly $40 million but no heirs and no will.
Roman Blum survived the Holocaust and came to the US after World War II, where he became a successful real estate developer.
Blum married another Holocaust survivor, but she died in 1992 and the couple had no children.
Despite the advice of numerous friends, Blum declined to make a will for himself, leaving the largest unclaimed estate in New York State history, according to the state comptroller’s office.
A friend summed up the situation as only a New Yorker can:
“He was a very smart man but he died like an idiot,” said Paul Skurka, a fellow Holocaust survivor who befriended Blum after doing carpentry work for him in the 1970s.
A handful of wooden synagogues, among the last vestiges of Lithuania’s thriving pre-World War II Jewish culture, are crumbling because of a lack of money and support.
Lithuania has barely more than a dozen wooden synagogues remaining, dating between the late 19th century and the 1930s.
They are unused today and falling apart, victims in part of abuse and neglect during the Soviet era.
“Their state of disrepair struck me,” said Gilles Vuillard, a Lithuania-based French artist who has depicted them in his work over the past few years. “Most often people didn’t even know where they were located anymore, yet they are witness to a unique cultural heritage.”
Lithuania’s pre-war Jewish population was approximately 210,000. Of that, an estimated 195,000, or more than 90 percent, were murdered by the Nazis following their invasion of the Baltics in June 1941.
Most of the small number who survived the Holocaust moved to Israel after the war.
Most Jews in Lithuania today arrived after 1945 and have little to no historical connection to the wooden synagogues.
The following is in no way is meant to make light of child abuse, but sometimes you just have to shake your head in amazement at the poor decisions made by some parents.
The mother of a South Carolina middle school student who was being suspended has been arrested after authorities said she walked into the school and slapped the wrong child.
Tyshekka Collier, 36, went to Fairforest Middle School in Spartanburg County Wednesday morning to pick up her son.
When Collier walked into the office, she saw a boy sitting in the office with his head down. Mistaking him for her son, she slapped him in the face, according to Spartanburg County sheriff’s deputies.
However, the boy Collier struck was sick and was sitting on a couch waiting for his mother to pick him up, according to Fairforest Middle School Principal Ty Dawkins.
Dawkins said once Collier realized she had slapped the wrong boy, she apologized, and then walked over to her son and began to slap him for getting in trouble, hitting him in the head and face and knocking him to the ground, according to a Greenville television station.
Collier was charged with disturbing school and assault and battery. It wasn’t known if she had a lawyer.
Her three children are in protective custody, according to the Associated Press.
Ewald-Heinrich von Kleist, the last surviving member of the July 20, 1944, plot to kill Adolf Hitler, died earlier this month at age 90.
Von Kleist had joined the Wehrmacht as an infantry officer in 1940 at age 18, but he did so out of an allegiance to country, not to the Führer. He came from a long line of Prussian landowners who had served the state for centuries in high-ranking military and administrative positions, according to the Associated Press.
However, von Kleist’s father, a Christian, conservative and monarchist, resisted Hitler, and the Nazi flag never flew from the Kleist castle in Pomerania nor was the Nazi salute ever given there, according to The Economist.
As the war progressed and its true nature was revealed to the younger von Kleist, he grew increasing troubled. Stationed on the Eastern Front, he saw some of the conflict’s most brutal action and was wounded in 1943.
In early 1944, Col. Claus von Stauffenberg, the leader of a group of anti-Nazi plotters, asked von Kleist to undertake a suicide mission to kill Hitler.
Von Kleist hesitated, according to The Economist, hoping that his father would object and save him. But his father paused for only a moment before he told him he must do it: “A man who doesn’t take such a chance will never again be happy in life.”
Proving that reprobates can usually find a way to adapt modern technology to their own devices while, at the same time, most of them aren’t all that smart, an Oklahoma woman was recently arrested for attempting to sell her children on Facebook.
Misty VanHorn, 22, of Sallisaw, Okla., was nabbed late last week for attempting to sell her 10-month-old daughter and 2-year-old son on Facebook, according to The Sequoyah County Times. She is being held on $40,000 bail.
After posting a number of offers on Facebook, VanHorn, shown above, made contact over the social media network with a woman in nearby Fort Smith, Ark., and offered to sell the 10-month old for $1,000, according to the blog The Social Graf.
One Facebook message sent by VanHorn to the prospective buyer in Arkansas stated: “Just come to Sallisaw, it’s only 30 minutes away and I’ll give you all of her stuff and let y’all have her forever for $1,000,” the blog added.
VanHorn also offered to sell both children together for $4,000. She apparently was not in the mood to offer a package discount.
VanHorn told the Arkansas woman that she needed the money to get her boyfriend out of jail, according to The Sequoyah County Times.
We’ve all struggled with the annual Father’s Day conundrum: What to get for the man who’s hard to shop for? Another tie? Aftershave? A video of the NHL’s greatest fights?
How about a Nobel Prize?
The Nobel Prize awarded to Francis Crick in 1962 for his work in discovering the structure of DNA is being auctioned by his family, along with one of his lab coats, his books and other memorabilia.
It is believed to be the first Nobel Prize put up for auction in more than 70 years and the opening bid is set for $250,000, according to Heritage Auctions.
Crick is noted for being a co-discoverer of the structure of Deoxyribonucleic acid in 1953, together with James D. Watson. Crick, Watson and Maurice Wilkins were jointly awarded the 1962 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine “for their discoveries concerning the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material.”
As anyone with more than one child can tell you, each has a distinct personality, no matter how much they look alike or how close they are in age.
Among my five girls I have a set of twins. The younger twin is much like her father: loves to read, enjoys the outdoors and everything agriculture-related, and likes catching critters. The older twin is much more of a “girl-girl,” big on hanging out with friends, keeping up with what’s cool and is easily embarrassed by dad’s antics.
Two other big differences between her and me: she has yet to “inherit” my love of history, and she has a gift for gab of which I could only dream. Those two characteristics were in evidence earlier this week.
While driving my four younger girls (ages 12, 11, 11 and 9) to their other house recently, I employed a David-and-Goliath metaphor to describe a situation, to which Daughter No. 3, the older twin, responded, “What does that mean?” I said, “You’re familiar with David and Goliath, right?” She said she was.
Knowing this one pretty well, I pressed her. “Okay, tell me something about David and Goliath.”
“Uh, one of them killed the other.”
“Which one killed the other?” I asked.
“Goliath killed David?” she offered.
I tilted the rearview mirror down so I could look at her. She had a sheepish grin. “Are you telling me that after eight years of religious education you don’t know the story of David and Goliath?”