Sunday, April 23, 2017

Walking with Jeanne at Charleston Falls on Saturday Morning, April 22, 2017

This is what greeted Jeanne and me as we walked to the entrance to the main trail.  The Sassafras was in bloom.

If you click on the flower head, you will see an ant.  I suppose it is gathering or sipping nectar.

Today the woods was a showcase of flowers.  It will be one of the most memorable walks I've taken here.  It was nice to have Jeanne with me to enjoy it.

We took our usual walk of a little over an hour but there was so much to see that we only walked to the falls and then returned to the parking lot by way of Octagon Prairie.

Below is some of what we saw.

Maroon Drooping Trillium.  The flowers are usually white, only sometimes maroon.

The first blooming Wild Hyacinth I have seen this spring.  I had to relearn its name this year.  I have been calling it Wood Hyacinth...wrong, wrong, wrong.

The young Ohio Buckeye trees were in full bloom.  The weather must have been perfect for the blossoms to come out all at once.

There are still plenty of Dutchmen's Breeches to be found.

Solomn's Seal is in bud.

The yellow is one of the Ragworts.  Behind the Ragworts are the Umbrellas of Mayapples.  We saw many clumps of mayapples.  In each of them we looked for blooms.  We found none in the woodsy area.

Jack-in-the Pulpits were here and there.  A few were showing the maroon stripes on the pulpit.

This Goldenseal was a surprise.  I haven't seen one at Charleston Falls for many years  though I have looked often.

The falls and the birds in the trees provided lovely background music as we walked.

We walked through Octagon Prairie as we headed for the parking lot...and we saw what we had been looking for in the woods...a blooming Mayapple.

I will post this blog now and probably revisit it and do some revising.  I have been having trouble with watery eyes.  The condition is aggravated if I look at the computer screen for more than a half hour.  Such is life.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Watercolor Portrait for a Friend

I was glad my friend liked this 8 X 10 painting of her mother.  The baby is  my friend's son.

The photograph I used as a starting point was this one which is about three and one half inches across and the same vertically.

Thanks to the marvelous computer, I was able to enlarge the photo, crop it, and adjust the color.

In the first watercolor, I decided to emphasize the faces and darken the rest of the painting.  I wasn't thinking about it being hung by another painting I had done in 2009.

What my friend had in mind was something more similar to the one I painted in 2009, a painting of her husband's mother and the other son.

I started again, this time using lighter, brighter colors.

A commission is about pleasing the buyer.  I am happy the second one pleased her.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

March 29, 2017, A Great Day for a Walk at Garbry Big Woods Sanctuary

The temperature was about sixty degrees Fahrenheit and the sun was shining.  We saw Spring Beauties  clustered around trees and spread over the brown leafy forest floor before we stepped into the woods..

Around us, the Chorus frogs were singing.

A family group was leaving as we entered the woods.  The little boys were excited.  "We saw three snakes."  The smallest boy held up three fingers to be sure we understood.  " And we got to touch one," the older boy said.

We walked further into the woods.

Throughout the woods, we saw the leaves of the Yellow Adder's Tongue (also called Dogtooth Violet or Trout Lily)

The Ramps (Wild Onion) leaves have begun to show up in clusters throughout the woods.

The Woodland Hyacinth leaves are up also.

The last time we walked here, we found three Bloodroot but this time they were scattered throughout the woods.'

  A few had already dropped their petals.

The Purple Cress were showy throughout the woods, vying with the Spring Beauties for most abundant.

The last time we walked here, we saw one Cutleafed Toothwort blooming. This time we had our choice of plants to photograph plus many that were still in bud.

The Honeybees and Hover flies were flying from flower to flower, collecting nectar and pollen.  This bee is on a Hepatica.

Tom spotted this newly opened bright purple Hepatica.

The Hepatica were not as showy as they are some years.  A few had yet to bloom and many had already dropped their petals.

Tom, ahead of me on his power chair, was the first to spot the garter snake.  We were hoping it would slither onto the boardwalk so Tom could get a good photo.  Instead, it slipped under the boardwalk and reappeared on the other side.

We had one last look before it disappeared.

(Garter snakes are harmless insect eaters.  They are Clark Kent, alias Superman.)

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Butterfly Transect at Brukner Nature Center...Some Results from the 2016 Season

The 2017 Ohio Butterfly Transect Monitoring begins, weather permitting, on April first.  I have been seeing butterflies on warm days so I know they are on the move.

Last year we saw a greater number of species than we saw in previous years.  I like to think it is because our eyes are sharper now that they are practiced at finding butterflies.

We saw 38 species in 2016. The species we saw most often was the Silver-spotted Skipper.  2016 was a bumper year for Silver-spotted Skippers.  Officially, we saw 424 which was 44% of all butterflies we saw.  By comparison, in 2015 we saw only 54 which was 9% of all the butterflies we saw.

Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus)

The Cabbage White was the second most often seen.  Most years, it is the most common seen.  A non-native, it thrives in our area.

Cabbage White (Pieris rapae)

Coming in third in numbers seen in 2016 were the Pearl Crescents. They are one of our common butterflies though not always in the top three.

Pearl Crescent (Phyciodes tharos)

In 2016, we didn't see any butterflies that have never been sighted in Miami County but we saw eight that we had never seen before on the Brukner Nature Center Butterfly Transect.

Harvester (Feniseca tarquinius)

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

Pipevine Swallowtail (Battus philenor)

Common Checkered-Skipper (Pyrgus communis)
Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus)

The others, for which I don't have labeled photos were Zebra Swallowtail, Common Sootywing and Tawny-edged Skipper.

If the temperature is warm enough, the minimum being 60 degrees and almost full sun, we will start the 2017 season this weekend.

I hope you are seeing butterflies wherever you are.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Trumpeter Swans Everywhere, A Vist to Lake Erie Shore to Bird Watch...March 19, 2017

Tom and I made a day trip to the Black Swamp area of Ohio on Sunday, March 19. Magee Marsh Wildlife Area, Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge and Metzger Marsh are part of the remaining Black Swamp which once covered thousands of acres. Most of it has been drained and is now used for farming. 

Photo by Tom Persing

We expected to see a variety of ducks.  We did. Tom counted sixteen species of ducks.  We could see them through our binoculars and spotting scope but only a few were close enough to photograph like these male Northern Shovelers (Anas clypeata).

Photo by Tom Persing

What we did see in abundance were Trumpeter Swans (Cygnus buccinator).  They are the United States's biggest native waterfowl.

Three photos of Swans by Tom Persing

In 1935, the total number of known individual Trumpeter Swans was 69.  They had been  hunted nearly to extinction for meat, skins, and feathers.  There were none breeding in Ohio until they were reintroduced in 1996.  Trumpeter Swans are still listed as Threatened in Ohio.

Trumpeter Swans have been a classic conservation success story although they are still listed as Threatened in Ohio. According to an article from the Cornell Lab of  Ornithology..."between 2000 and 2005 a continentwide survey found that Trumpeter Swan numbers had more than tripled, from 11,156 to 34,803."

The swans breed on wetlands in Alaska, Canada and the northwestern United States.  Most of the swans we saw are on their way to Canada.  We hope a few stay to breed in Ohio.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Drama Workshop Production of The Odd Couple by Neil Simon

I have been hearing about Felix and Oscar for years and years and years but the first time I actually saw them was February 26, 2017 when Tom and I went to Cheviot to see the play directed and produced by our son, Ray Persing.  Assistant Producer was his wife, Gretchen Gantner.

The play was a great introduction to the classic characters. Oscar Madison, the slovenly, easygoing Sportswriter was played by Chris Bishop.  Felix Unger, the neat freak, uptight and hypochondriac news-writer, was played by Eric Thomas.

Developing the characters of the four cardplaying friends of Oscar and Felix was essential to keeping the audience's interest in the first act. All of them are wondering where Felix is, why he hasn't shown up at the card game.  It turns out that Felix has a major problem which his friends learn when Oscar calls  Felix's wife.  When Felix finally appears each friend has ideas for solving the problem.

Above: Surrounding Felix Unger (Eric Thomas) who is seated on the chair and wearing a a suit are his cardplaying friends.  Left to right they are Roy ( Adam Drake), Murray (Mark Waldfogle), Speed (BJ Simpson), and Vinnie (Scott Unes).  Each friend has decided opinions and ideas.  (Photo by Elaine Volker)

After the friends leave, Oscar is left with Felix who is still devastated. 

Photo by Elaine Vocker
Photo by Elaine Volker
Finally, out of options, Oscar tells Felix he can move in.  This turns out to be a difficult situation for both of them.  The rest of the play is about solving this situation.

Two English women are involved in the solution.  I don't have a picture of them but Tom noted immediately after the play, that they had remarkable abilities to titter girlishly and convincingly for extended periods of time.  The Pigeon sisters were played by Kristen Vincenty (Gwendolyn) and Meagan L. Blasch (Cecily).

After the play run, Ray posted on Facebook.  He thanked everyone involved and announced that The Odd Couple was the fourth most attended show in The Drama Workshop history.

Below are listed addtional members of the Creative Team... Stage Manager, Scenic Designer, Set Decor, Master Carpenter, Construction and Painting Crew, Costume Design, Light Design, Light Execution, Lighting Crew, Sound Design, Sound Execution, Properties, Dialect Coach-NewYork, Dialect Coach-British, Running Crew, Hair and Makeup, Program, Original Show Art, Lobby Display, Lobby Photography, Box Office, Usher Coordinator, House/Hospitality, Publicity, and Poster Distribution.  Click on the photo to see an enlarged version so you can read all the names.

I listed the Team Titles to give you an idea of the multitude of expertises needed to produce a play.  Anyone with any kind of skill can find something to do in Community Theater.  It certainly helps to work well with others and have a cheerful attitude when things are hectic.