World’s Largest Pecan

We veered off our route to visit Brunswick, Missouri. I have to go see anything that says it is the “World’s Largest” or the “World’s Smallest.” In this case, it was a giant pecan sculpture. Well worth the extra miles. Can you think of a world’s largest or smallest sculpture you could make that would represent your town, state, or country?


Bob and I stopped at the Bass Pro Shop aquarium in Springfield, Missouri. They had a large number of interesting exhibits, but the Sea Nettles (a type of “true jellyfish”) were fascinating to watch. I made three videos which are on my YouTube channel. and

“True jellyfish” are:

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Cnidaria (nih-DARE-ee-uh) which are soft-bodied sea creatures

Class: Scyphozoa

Other Classes of Cnidaria which are not “true jellyfish” include: Hydrozoa (Portuguese Man-of-War), Cubozoa (box jellyfish), and Anthozoa (corals and sea anemones)

Easter Eggs

My daughter-in-law’s family came to our house for Easter and introduced me to a fun new way to color eggs which gives them a multi-colored, tie-dye look. You will need white hard-boiled eggs, whipped cream (like Kool Whip), food coloring, and a muffin tin.

Dollop a spoon of whipped cream into each muffin well:

Add a few drops of food coloring to each blob of whipped cream. Drag a toothpick or Q-tip through the whipped cream to mix in the color slightly:

Dip an egg into the whipped cream with food coloring:


Mix different colors. Things can get messy:

This egg was dropped and dye got into the crack. When it was peeled, it had this beautiful sunburst:




Popcorn Balls

Happy Halloween! Popcorn balls became popular in the 1950s when people handed out homemade goodies to kids for trick-or-treat. Below are pictures of the cooking steps. Here is the recipe my family uses(it is tripled in the pictures below):


8 cups popped corn

2/3 cup white sugar

2/3 cup white Karo syrup

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp vanilla

food coloring is optional


Put sugar, syrup, and salt in a pan.

Add food coloring.

Cook on stovetop, stirring frequently until all the sugar is melted and the mixture boils.

Add the vanilla, stir, and then pour over the popcorn.

Stir the popcorn until the kernels are all coated with the sticky syrup.

While it is still warm, form the popcorn into balls like you’re making a snowball. Works best if you put some butter or other food oil on the hands so the popcorn doesn’t stick to you.


Happy Halloween! I have pictures of scarecrows from my various travels this week. I’ll start the post with a poem about scarecrows:

The Scarecrow by Kahlil Gibran

Once I said to a scarecrow, “You must be tired of standing in this
lonely field.”

And he said, “The joy of scaring is a deep and lasting one, and I
never tire of it.”

Said I, after a minute of thought, “It is true; for I too have
known that joy.”

Said he, “Only those who are stuffed with straw can know it.”

Then I left him, not knowing whether he had complimented or belittled

A year passed, during which the scarecrow turned philosopher.

And when I passed by him again I saw two crows building a nest
under his hat.

Naming Snails

I saw several of the same type of terrestrial snails on a trail in a wooded area. I had a difficult time identifying the snail because many species of look very similar. A malacologist (a person who studies snails) uses several different criteria besides shell coloring. I narrowed the type of this snail down to the family of Polygyridae, but am not certain about the genus and species.

I wanted to talk about taxonomy which is how scientists name/classify living things. I still use a mnemonic from my high school biology teacher, Mr. Casini, to remember the taxonomy categories. The mnemonic is King Phillip Came Over From Germany Soon. It makes no sense but it helps me remember the letters KPCOFGS. I will use this snail’s taxonomy as an example.

K is for Kingdom: Animalia (unlike plants, fungi, bacteria and other microscopic organisms)

P is for Phyllum: Mollusca (a type of invertebrate, also includes octopus and scallops)

C is for Class: Gastropoda (which also includes conchs, abalone, periwinkles, and limpets)

O is for Order: Stylommatophora (land snails and slugs as opposed to aquatic snails)

F is for Family: Polygyridae (there are several different families of land snails but my snail appears to fall into this)

G is for Genus and S is for species: I wasn’t certain about the Genus and Species of this snail but thought it was likely Mesodon thyroidus (white-lip globe snail) or Webbhelix multineata (striped white-lip snail)

Fungus Schmungus #7

Another mushroom discovered on my dog walk. The scientific name of this one is Coprinus comatus (coprinus means “of dung” and comatus means “hairy”). This mushroom is also known as the “shaggy inky cap.” It is edible in the “shaggy” white phase, but within 24 hours it digests itself and becomes the inedible “inky” stage. There is a good post from the University of Illinois “Mushroom Monday” blog:




I had lunch at The Barbie Cafe in Chicago. It was fun…and overwhelmingly pink.