Sunday, February 18, 2018

Looking for Skunk Cabbage in Brukner Nature Center's Swamp


The day was chilly...31 degrees Fahrenheit...but I was ready to see a sure sign of spring That's why I came to Brukner.

I decided to take the trail down Shortstep Hill.  At the top of the hill, not far from the Interpretive Center are the Wildlife Ambassadors, the animals who cannot be released into the wild for one reason or another.  Instead, they teach visitors about our native wildlife.


It was interesting to watch this crow drink from the dip between the slabs of concrete.  Behind him and to the left is his Brukner provided water dish.

The creek that flows through the Brukner ravine to the Stillwater River was talkative as it rushed along.  I tried to download a movie clip but it didn't load for some reason so it's Use Your Imagination time.

Because the floodplain boardwalk often is flooded when we have a lot of rain, I took Wren Run up the next hill and then down to the swamp.  At the bottom of the hill where the swamp sits, I found what I was looking for...


When I scanned the photo into the computer, I noticed there are buds inside the spathes.  Spring is on its way.

The trip back was easier because the floodplain boardwalk wasn't flooded after all.  Close to where the swamp ends and the floodplain begins I saw a crayfish chimney.  The red arrow points to the hole the critter has come out through.


Here is a portion of the boardwalk that is often flooded in spring.


This strangely twisted dead tree, the one in the middle, is still standing.


As I headed back I spied a few bright green Hepatica leaves.  By the time the flowers bloom the leaves will be withered.



Back at the foot of Shortstep Hill.  Climbing up takes more energy than going down.


Halfway up.  Tom is waiting for me at the Upper Vista Room.  He is taking photos of birds.


We were both happy we decided to visit Brukner.









Sunday, February 11, 2018

The Changing Looks of Charleston Falls

January 9, 20018

January 17, 2018...more ice


January 20, 2018...Thawing


January 28, 2018...50 degrees Fahrenheit


February 9, 2018...there's been more snow, colder. more ice...and now, again,  a bit of a thaw

And a closer look on February 9....


We have had four snows deep enough to require me to use the snowblower to clear the driveway but also a few days of 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit.  We're having a typical winter  with the typical sleet and ice glazing on the streets as the temperatures head downward.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Weekend with Steve, February 2,3 and 4

Now that Steve lives further away, we don't see him as often as we did when he was younger.  It was good to see him and he was happy to see us.

I took him to Brukner Nature Center on Saturday.  We spent most of our time in the Bird Vista room.  The staff keeps the various feeders filled so generally we see a variety of birds.

We saw the usual ones like American Goldfinches and House Finches.


And we saw the usual woodpeckers including the Red-bellied Woodpecker.


We caught a glimpse of a Pileated Woodpecker.  Because we had my binoculars we were able to watch it even though it flew off into the trees.

Best of all, Steve saw a life bird which is a bird he had never seen before...a Red-headed Woodpecker.  The bird flew closer a few times but didn't stay long enough for me to take its picture.  It stayed out further on this branch for several minutes.  Must have found a tasty snack.


On Sunday, Tom and Steve made Banana Cake/Bread.  The recipe is one of my mother's.  She always made it in a cake pan.  We usually make it in small bread pans so we can share it with friends and neighbors.  Steve took one home and gave one to Gemini who picked him up on Sunday afternoon.


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Update on my sketch a day challenge.  I am doing a sketch most days.  Below is No.18


Here is the photo I drew from.



Monday, January 22, 2018

Sketching Goal, a Sketch Every Day...(So far I have missed two days)

Yesterday's drawing...


As I drew, the child in the photo I worked from evolved from a mostly front photo to a side angle.  That happens sometimes.  I only have control of my pencil sometimes.  Here is the original photo.


Other times I get a pretty close likeness .


And, the ones I get the best likeness on are the ones I spend the least time on.  My eyes and my hand and brain are working together.


If I draw a sketch a day and study the how-to books on drawing faces, I  expect to have more eye-hand-brain control eventually.

I have liked to draw faces from the time I was a child.  I remember I was overjoyed to discover I could put a bump on the side of an oval and the bump looked like a nose.  That was in first or second grade.

Three things worked together to jump start me on this project.  I started sorting through our accumulation of photos.. eighty years of pictures from our lives.  Then there are some pictures of ancestors as well.


On the far end of the table are two plastic boxes which I think are sometimes called sweater boxes.  I have four more boxes that size filled with photos.. And then there are Tom's boxes of photos...another five boxes.  Fortunately, I have dates on the majority of them.  This time around I am adding names.

At the moment, I am sorting the photos into individual boxes for my three children and eleven grandchildren plus a box for ourselves and a box of photos to give to various other people.


As I sorted I came across pictures I thought would be fun to draw.

So 1. sorting...2 finding favorite photos...3...one of my grandsons decided to challenge himself to a drawing a sketch a day and has been posting at least one each day on Facebook.  He has posted almost sixty days without a miss.

I have already missed two days.  But I'm on a roll again.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Second Winter Storm On Its Way

This is the way our front porch looked on Wednesday.  Despite the snow, the day was warm.  After stocking up on groceries because another storm was predicted I decided to walk at Charleston Falls. 


I could hear the water falling under the icy cover.  

On Thursday, Marsha came to paint.  Both of us have been neglecting art because of other activities.  It is easy to do.  Marsha painted a barn along a rural road, one of her favorite topics.  She wasn't happy with it when she left but she said she would work on it at home.  "At least," she said, "I'm painting."

I decided to do a small drawing.  One of my grandsons has been posting a drawing every day for over fifty days in a row.  I decided if he could be that productive I could at least try to draw every day for the rest of January.

This is drawing one.




I enlarged the children and worked from the enlargement.

While Marsha and I were busy, the change in the weather arrived.  It was raining hard by the time she left.

This morning it was still raining.


By 2:30 today, the rain had changed to snow.


Tom made baked chicken with vegetables and cheese for lunch.  I put clothes in the washer and started on a drawing.  I worked and worked and worked.  The photo I am working from is of three of our grandsons taken when they were visiting us for a few days.  As sometimes happens I couldn't get a good drawing of all three grandsons so I posted the drawing of one of them instead.  Maybe I'll have better luck tomorrow.








Thursday, January 4, 2018

Vegetable Peelers

My mother never had a potato peeler.  She always used a paring knife to peel potatoes.

The summer I worked in the kitchen at a children's camp in the Poconos I learned to use a potato peeler like this.


I used one like this all the years our children were growing up.

Tom likes gadgets.  One year when we roamed around the Plant City, Florida Strawberry Festival  Tom saw a salesman demonstrate a different kind of peeler.  Tom bought two, one for me, one for my sister with whom we were staying.



We have been using this new "improved type"of vegetable peeler since then.  Tom told me that with age his hands were getting weaker and it was becoming difficult to peel apples and potatoes. I commiserated with him but didn't think much about it.

But Tom kept thinking about it.  One of my Christmas presents was an electric vegetable peeler.



Tom decided to make our meal on New Years Day...escalloped potatoes with ham and fried apples.  I think part of the reason for this was that he wanted to try out the electric vegetable peeler.

It works beautifully.  Plug it in.  Set the potato on the pointy base. Use the upper point to hold it in place.  Press the red button.


It works for apples, too.



The peelings are continuous and fascinating.


Dinner was delicious.

A new gadget is now sitting on our kitchen counter.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Old Year, New Year

December 30.  We awoke to see our first significant snow.  We had two earlier snows that weren't deep enough to cover the grass.


Our daughter, Sonja,  called and offered to clean off our driveway. A little later, her daughter, Samantha, called with the same offer.  We told them we weren't going anywhere so the snow on the driveway wasn't bothering us.  We were supposed to get more snow and colder temperatures later in the day.  It did give me a warm fuzzy feeling that they were thinking about us.

December 31 was a really cold day for our part of Ohio...3 degrees F in the morning, 13 degrees in early afternoon.  The sun shone all day so the day looked pleasant despite the cold.  By afternoon, we had stirred ourselves up to thinking about clearing off the driveway since negative temperatures were predicted for the next few days.  The snow was the light fluffy kind that is easy to clean off with a snowblower. Since we have one, Tom started it up and I walked behind the machine.  I didn't even get snow-covered because a couple years ago Tom bought a snow shield for the machine.  The picture below is from at least three years ago when we had  a wet clingy snow.


Later in the day, we watched football. Tom is a football fan...knows a lot of the teams, their weaknesses and strengths.  After fifty-six years of marriage, I have learned a little about football.  We watched our Cincinnati Bengals win over the Baltimore Ravens.  It was a close game which made it exciting.  There was only forty-four seconds to go when the Bengals scored the winning touchdown.
Because the Bengals won, the Buffalo Bills are going to the playoffs,  That made Buffalo fans happy as well as the Cincinnati Bengals' fans.

Instead of welcoming in 2018 at midnight, we went to bed.

In the morning, I laid out what I needed to start the new year.


And  a cup for my favorite morning beverage, green tea. (I'm waiting for the teapot to whistle.)