Tag Archives: God’s stuff

God’s Stuff: Giant Salamander

Hi, Mr. Nature here, with a very rare and very impressive animal: the Japanese giant salamander. It’s related to our own America hellbender, which is a whopper in its own right: but this critter gets two or three times as big. A full-grown Japanese giant salamander is almost as big as you are. Not quite like the little redbacks you can find in your back yard!

There are also giant salamanders in China. Outside of the inevitable habitat loss and degradation, the biggest threat faced by these creatures is schmendricks who like to eat members of endangered species because it makes them feel like big shots. Whatever they have to say on Judgment Day had better be good.

All right, I know some of you get the creeps from looking at these animals. But they are part of God’s creation, they certainly do us no harm at all, they are rare and difficult to find–and they are worthy of our admiration, because they are the work of Our Creator’s hands.

I don’t know about you, but they leave me in awe of God’s vision.

Grilled Eels: Simple but Delicious

Image result for images of little backyard hibachi

I guess it’s time we gave God thanks for filling the world with delicious food and creating us with the capacity to enjoy it.

Today, among the very few edibles I have successfully prepared, I’d like to talk about eels–freshly caught, and grilled on your own little hibachi on your back porch.

First you have to catch them. The best way to go about catching eels is to let it be widely known that you are fishing for flounder. You’re bound to attract eels. And now I will skip over the fun of getting an eel off your hook, and on to the matter of cleaning it. For this you will need:




Sharp Knife

Cleaning the eel is the hard part. They are, after all, extremely slippery. So what you do is, you nail the eel’s head to a tree, make a starter cut through the skin, and then use the pliers to peel off the whole skin in one deft movement. You’ll be amazed by how easy it is, if you do it right. And then it’s a simple matter to remove the internal organs. The rest of the recipe follows:

1 eel (more, if the eels are small, or if there are more than the two of you for dinner)

Hibachi with coals.

Aluminum foil.

Pats of butter as needed.

Cut the eel into servings. What we’re going to do is cause the zillion little rib bones to melt away without a trace. Wrap each piece, with a pat of butter, in foil and place on the hibachi.

Grill slowly for about 30 minutes. The foil will protect the eel from burning, but you do want to melt those rib bones.

And that’s pretty much all there is to it! You won’t believe how tasty those eel sections are, especially with a drop or two of lemon or lime juice, and a pinch of parsley. Don’t use a lot of extras, because grilled eel has a delicate flavor and the meat is very tender.

And now my mouth is watering!

I’ve Been Interviewed on TV

Image result for images of lee duigon

My back was playing me up this morning, so instead of playing basketball, I walked to the Y for a shower.

As on my weary way I plod, I spied a host of axolotls. Oops, wrong line. Actually, I was accosted by a New Jersey News reporter and her camerman, and asked what I thought of Jabberin’ Jim Comey’s latest remarks about our president.

I replied by blowing a raspberry. “Democrat politics!” I said. “Remember what it was like ten years ago, with Bush Derangement Syndrome? Those people were crazy then, and they’re crazier now.

“Comey deserved to be canned. He can’t stop running to the camera. He was supposed to be an FBI director, not a reality show.” And so on. We’ll see if I survive the cutting room. I mean, some guy with a Genghis Khan T-shirt and no respect for the Democrat Party–think they want that on TV?

Along the way I also saw a chipmunk–not very common around here–and the world’s biggest painted turtle sunning herself on the grassy shore of Tommy’s Pond. And a couple of huge, gorgeous carp.

God’s stuff works better than TV.

The Battling ‘Roos of Suburbia

G’day, mate! Mr. Nature here, somewhere in the suburbs in Australia, just in time for an early-morning fight between two male kangaroos.

These guys can get up to eight feet tall when they stand on their hind legs; and with the sturdy tail available as a third leg, they can kick with both hind legs at once. Meanwhile, they punch and scratch with their clawed forepaws.

I don’t see anybody running outside to break this up.

Why did God make kangaroos so fierce?

He didn’t. It’s the fallen world that made them fierce. And anyway, the occasional ferocity of male kangaroos in mating season hardly holds a candle to the ferocity of human beings toward one another.

God is at work, even now, to restore His creation to its original state of purity. We wonder why it’s taking Him so long.

But I know one thing for sure: I’d rather He did it than us.

Time Out for Plankton

For those of you who are tired of cat videos and want to see something different; or who are interested in acquiring really tiny little pets; or who just need a break, and a reminder that God’s stuff–plankton, for instance–works the way it’s supposed to–well, here you go. I promised a plankton video and here it is. Consider this a sanity break.

Mr. Nature: The Biggest Dinosaur

Hi, Mr. Nature here–with what may be the biggest dinosaur known so far: Argentinosaurus.

As paleontologists fan out into territories untouched by earlier fossil-hunters, they find cooler and cooler dinosaurs. Argentinosaurus was published in 1993 and is called by Wikipedia “the largest dinosaur known from uncontroversial evidence.” Which means its title is only temporary, pending further study and new discoveries. It is estimated, from incomplete remains, to have been about 100 feet long and weighed about 100 tons. Give or take a few.

Now that’s big!

The video gives you an idea what this creature was like. It is based on speculation, and study of the bones, comparison with similar dinosaurs, etc. Please feel free to ignore the evolution chatter in the narration. I always do.

Bob Bakker–the scientist who, more than any other, gave the world the concept of dinosaurs as lively, warm-blooded, reasonably intelligent animals–once told me that one of the things he enjoys about dinosaurs is thinking about the pleasure God must have had in creating them. Yes, I like to think about that, too.

No one has seen a living dinosaur. We can never be sure that our reconstructions of them and their world are entirely on target. I love them because they fill me with a sense of awe: “What hath God wrought!”

As far as we know, dinosaurs no longer exist on earth. But God has the entire universe at His disposal, in which to do His pleasure. In speaking of these creatures, it’s a good idea to leave absolute certainty behind.

Admire God’s handiwork, and wonder.

God is Nigh

Image result for images of old dogwood tree

Our ancient dogwood tree has just come into flower on this Easter morning. It always did have a fine sense of timing.

We’ve been here 40 years, but the tree was here first. Dogwoods can live up to 80 years, says Mr. Nature; but we don’t know when this tree was planted.

Even more remarkable, on the very same day, our ancient tulip has bloomed. Tulips live for 20 years, sometimes a little more. But this, too, was here when we moved in. It used to burst forth into one spectacular, bright red flower. Now it has four instead of one. We hope the squirrels don’t eat the flowers, as used to be their custom. They left it alone last year.

These (even the squirrels) are God’s handiwork. He imagined them, and then created them. They are here because He put them here. Their beauty is one of His countless gifts to us.

But even more than beauty, the dogwood and the tulip, and all the rest of God’s creation, have something important to tell us: God is nigh. Always.

A Welcome Weed

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The first plant to come up in my wife’s little garden, this year and last year, is the purple deadnettle.

Hi, Mr. Nature here–and it’s called the “dead” nettle because it doesn’t have a sting like the real nettle. It’s a member of the mint family, memorable for its delicate purple flowers and its leaves that are arranged like a stack of dishes. It grows all over the place, around here.

Bob Bakker–the scientist who, more than anybody else, popularized the concept of warm-blooded, active dinosaurs–once told me one of the things that most draws him to God is the self-evident delight which the Creator takes in His creation. I agree! Even this fallen world, the Father stocks with beauty. Even the weeds!

I was happy when I read that a lot of people have come to appreciate the deadnettle for its beauty and are now planting it on purpose, usually as a border for a garden, and because it so delights our eyes.

Give thanks for the beauty of God’s handiwork: it tells us something good about its Maker.

The Giant Dormouse

HImage result for images of giant dormice

Hi, Mr. Nature here–with the giant dormouse. It’s closely related to the little sleepy dormouse you know from Alice in Wonderland. But these dormice were the size of large rats, lived on islands in the Mediterranean (Majorca, Minorca, and Malta), and are now extinct.

These animals are an example of the rational order of God’s creation, as seen in island life.

On Mediterranean islands long ago, we find animals that are usually very large, such as elephants and hippos, scaled down to a size more easily accommodated by the island. But then we find animals that are normally very small, like dormice, grown large when they live on islands and predators are not abundant. Up in the Russian Arctic, Wrangel Island had pygmy woolly mammoths that stuck around until sometime around 2000 B.C.

Island ecosystems are fascinating, but also fragile. The giant lemurs of Madagascar, and the even more gigantic moas (birds bigger than grown men) of New Zealand are no more, thanks to humans, dogs, and cats. And that, scientists think, is what happened to the giant dormice.

A Cozy Little Snake

Hi, Mr. Nature here–with an animal that possibly lives in your own back yard without your ever having seen it: DeKay’s snake, aka the brown snake.

I know, I know, quite a few of you are afraid of snakes. But these are very small, totally harmless, and of a very meek temperament: I’ve caught many of them by hand, and not one has ever tried to bite me. Anyhow, they couldn’t hurt you if they wanted to, and they seem to know it. Most of them, when caught and handled, calm down in a matter of seconds. They used to be pretty common in my neighborhood, but what with the perpetual war on nature that goes on in New Jersey, it’s been a couple of years since I’ve seen one. I miss them.

These little snakes live in leaf litter, where their small size and generally brown or greyish coloration helps them blend into the background. They eat bugs and slugs and grubs, and the occasional earthworm–in fact, they eat a lot of things that any gardener would want them to eat.

Again, they never try to bite when you pick them up. No self-respecting Northern water snake would ever let you get away with that. DeKay’s snake is not a very exciting snake–which is the way I like them.

So there you have it, more of God’s stuff–a little animal that’s pretty to look at, easy to handle, and does no harm whatsoever. It deserves the right to go about its peaceful little business unmolested.

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