Friday, July 30, 2010

Tiger Beetle Larve

One of my fondest memories as a child was my father teaching me how to hunt for tiger beetle larve. They are interesting creatures that inhabit the smooth round holes you see in your yard about half the size of a pencil.

I use the catch & release method just wanting to see it for a moment. My father's favorite method for catching them was to break a straw off of the broom from the house and drop it into the hole and wait. Soon the larve would start pushing the straw up out of the hole. While it is moving up you quickly pull it out and he comes out with it.

He has wicked looking pincers in his head and a wart looking thing near his rear end. Quite an interesting little fellow and fun to catch, watch and let him go back into his hole tail first. They are plentiful here in NC. If you happen to see their home check them out but be kind and return them. Have fun.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Viet Nam

Hello everyone. Lately I have had Viet Nam on my mind as I do from time to time. When you spend 19 months somewhere it tends to stay with you. Lots of memories, some good, some not so good. Just felt it was time to get some of them in print.

I arrived there in late 1968 after a 12 hour plane ride that made stops in Hawaii, Wake Island and the Phillipines. Had to board a C130 and fly again this time to Qui Nhon which would be my home for some time. Qui Nhon is a fairly large city located on the coast of Viet Nam and the streets are almost always filled to capacity with motorcycles or the 3 wheeled mini taxis that were so popular as public transportation. Didn't quite know what to make of this new place but I would learn.

My first negative experience happened soon after I arrived. Was walking down the street outside of our compound with many vehicles racing past my friend and I. Suddenly I felt a tug on my wrist and my watch was gone. A Vietnamese male on a scooter had grabbed it knowing that the expansion band would break easily. You learn quickly that to safeguard your watch you must wear leather that buckles.

Most of the structures outside of our compound were built with whatever they could find, including flatened cans. Culture shock for this NC boy so far from home. Inside our compound we had a lot of the creature comforts that would come to be appreciated. Our living quarters had panels that would open up to let a breeze come through and were actually quite comfortable. Our mess hall had some of the best food I had eaten in a while which really surprised me. We also had an enlisted mens club that offered steaks, shrimp, beverages of all kinds and at a very low price.

I was a quality assurance inspector for 13th Finance and my job was to audit military pay records for mistakes. The pay records were to say the least a mess. I had been to the Army Finance School in Ft. Ben Harrison, In. but some of the people working there were never trained to work with pay records and it was my job to get it right. During the 19 months there I found errors that totaled to almost 1 million dollars. Some in favor of the GI and some to the Government.

Boredom could be a real problem since my unit was a support unit and did not see any hostile action. That meaning I did not have to shoot at anyone or spend time in the jungles and rain. I learned to develop my own film at the photo lab to pass the time but what took most of my off time was an orphanage just outside of Qui Nhon. There were Vietnamese nationals working at the club and one invited me to go one day so I agreed. The children there were products of relationships with GI's & Vietnamese females. Now the children were considered as outcasts and some even had blond hair and blue eyes. It was run by Catholic nuns and filled to capacity. One day the nuns invited me to have lunch with them and offered me a sub. I ate the sub only to find out later that the meat inside was from a large lizard. I never questioned it because it was very tasty.

After about 13 months I was allowed a 30 day leave to go home. A backwards note: I learned shortly after arriving in Viet Nam that my wife was pregnant so when I got home there was a good sized daughter waiting to see her daddy for the first time. It was quite a reunion and so good to be on American soil again. While there I had an article put in the Rocky Mount Telegram about the orphanage needing food and clothes. The calls started and before long I had a load of stuff to ship to Viet Nam. People can be so generous when children are involved.

When I got back to Viet Nam and the packages arrived we had a party at the orphanage. My company commander even joined us as we watched the excitement on the faces of the childen having new clothes for the first time. That was a rewarding day for us all.

I made quite a few friends during the time I was stationed there and often wonder how they are today and if the orphanage is still in operation. Have always wanted to return to check on Qui Nhon but it is a world away.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Mountain Vacation

Pictures are a little late getting on here but I am just getting used to downloading from our camera & wanted everyone to see some of what we enjoyed while on vacation in Maggie Valley, NC Memorial Day weekend.
The top picture is a view of the other cabins that were there. They are much newer than the one we stayed in and I liked our's much better.
Next was Rocky and his newly found friend, a Jack Russell terrier. They were doing the dog thing checking each other out. Rocky actually got along with him very well which we were glad of.
There was a stream that ran past our cabin that kept a wonderful sound going the whole time we were there. I love being near running water and it made our stay there much more enjoyable.
The inside view of the cabin show the rustic, flat, large logs giving our cabin the look I like in log cabins. They are called Country Cabins as the last picture shows. \
Definately a place to return to someday.

Uncle Lester's Birthday Party

Man of the hour, my Uncle Lester and his wife Catherine checking out cards as we wait to eat at the little steak house in the town I grew up in. He was 93 years young that day and one of his favorite things to do is cut grass on his riding mower. Staying active must be the key to longevity.

My sister Marie was there & it was great to see her since she stays so busy these days it is hard to get an appointment with her. We keep trying.

Also there was my sister Linda. We have gotten a lot closer by having breakfast together every Tuesday to share what is going on in our lives and simply making sure we don't loose contact with each other.
It was a fun night and also present were three of Uncle Lester's sisters. My Aunt Katie who is 101 and still going strong, Aunt Eleanor and Aunt Doris. A very special evening for a very special uncle.

Caught in the act!!

Sunday afternoon and my wife got her some ice cream and had to step away briefly and when she looked around Rocky was sampling her ice cream. I believe he thinks he's human sometimes. She said he had the weirdest look on his face when the flash went off, like he knew he had been caught.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


I thought it was about time I introduced everyone to our baby, Rocky. He was 1 year old last January and has changed what it's like to live in the Langley household.
We enjoy taking him on trips with us out of town. He does really well traveling as he lays on the arm rest between the two front seats. He recently went with us to the mountains of NC and had fun meeting a very friendly Jack Russell Terrier.
Rocky has turned into an awesome watchdog as he barks loudly at any strange noise. The only problem he seems to have is stopping barking when a relative comes by that he isn't familiar with. We have learned that if we take him and put him into their arms he will stop barking and start licking them.
He weighs 8 1/2 pounds and if we continue to limit the amount of food from the table to a small treat he should maintain his trim figure. He is a champion begger and has this awesome pose where he has one foot on your leg and the other one in the air turned down. It is really hard to keep from giving in and letting him have all he wants. We have to be the ones that know what is really best for him.
After his play time in the evenings running to fetch one of his stuffed toys or a squeaky rubber toy he is only happy when he can lay on or near us and naps so peacefully. He really has a calming effect on both of us after a stressful day at work. We love him very much and just wanted to share him with you.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Visual Memories

Missing the calm and wonderful feeling I get every time I visit Lancaster County, PA. The Amish are so polite and never seem to get in a rush and their farmers market is the best I have every seen.

Also looking back, we had so much fun on our last two Carnival cruises and can't wait to board the Glory in October. I think this one will be the best yet since we have learned what not to do and save money at the same time. We fell for the so called deals on the first one and paid for excursions that turned out to be overpriced for sure. Now we just do our own thing and have lots more fun.

If you are reading this and have not traveled, please do. I spent the majority of my life apart from the time I was in the Army and didn't go anywhere for fun. My wife changed all that and we have now built memories in Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, mountains of NC, Pennsylvania, Key West, Bahamas, Mexico and White Lake, NC.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Flatlander's Dream

I was sitting here this morning thinking about a place that I always want to be near. The mountains, and it really doesn't have to be NC as long it is mountains and green with running streams.
The picture I have inserted is of course one of my favorite areas, Maggie Valley, NC. My bride and I were married there back in June of 04 and it will always be special to us. Not just the scenery but the people make it a place to return as often as possible.
The last trip we were fortunate to be able to carry our baby, Rocky, a one year old chiwawa. I know the spelling is wrong but you get the idea. Never had much luck remembering how to spell that breed name. But he had a ball and so did we making memories in our minds to last us until we could come back for more. I guess Rocky's main memory would be the Jack Russell terrier he met and sniffed.
It is simply amazing how theraputic sitting by a mountain stream and listening to the sounds it makes can be. Simple, yet beautiful and refreshing. Brings back the memory of when we were on our honeymoon and traveling from Maggie Valley to Gatlinburg and stopped by the stream that runs the entire length of the journey. We had Beth, my wife's daughter and Ashley, my grandaughter with us and they wanted to walk in the stream. It was hot in June and the cool water must have been very refreshing. I honestly believe they had more fun walking around in that stream looking for interesting rocks than they had at the standard tourist spots we visited. We still have a footprint shaped rock in our living room to remind us of that stream.
Have a great day everyone.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Aunt Katie

Every family should have an Aunt Katie like I do. She will be 102 years young this year and continues to amaze everyone that comes in contact with her. Her amusing stories and sharpness of detail leave those who visit her wondering if they will be blessed to have that kind of mental clarity later in their lives.

I guess one of the reasons she stays strong at 101 is because she is always active. When I visit she usually will be outside checking her bushes or raking in the yard with her bonnet on. She never had a child but all of us now look to her like a mother and enjoy so much just spending time with her and feeling so much better for doing so.

My Uncle Lester is 93 and lives on the same property with Aunt Katie so it seems that my dad's side of the family has some good genes for longevity. If you are family reading this, when was the last time you were blessed to be with Aunt Katie or Uncle Lester? Be blessed and spend quality time with them.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Farmers Market

One of joys my wife & I have during the summer is visiting the farmers market, not in Roanoke Rapids, but in Rocky Mount. It's about a 70 mile round trip but what we find is so rewarding and usually ends up a dish I am preparing. So far this summer with an abundance of squash and zucchini I have prepared numerous caseroles and there is still room for more.

Yesterday we were walking the isles of the vendors and came upon a stand operated by the folks that have a peach orchard about 3 miles from our house and ended up buying a carton of peaches that we will enjoy for part of this coming week. Curious how we keep running into vendors from our area all the way in Rocky Mount.

It is an effort but one we are happy to make happen so we can enjoy the wonderful items available for such a short period of time. The time will come soon enough when we will not have that resource available to us.

A side note: After our visit to the farmers market yesterday we had a belated Father's Day lunch at IHOP with my 3 girls, grandaugher, son-in-law, grandsons and a friend. It is always so good to spend time with all of them at once since we live so far apart. It was a memory I will cherish, especially, since my girls gave me some new pictures that I can display at home and at my office. Thanks again if you are reading this blog.