Thursday, December 31, 2015

A Week of Winter is Upon Us

We often get our first real winter weather between Christmas and New Year's Day and that is what is happening this year.  We will have highs in the 30s Fahrenheit and lows in the 20s for the coming week.  This morning  there was a light covering of snow on the rooftops and on the van.  By mid afternoon the snow had melted.

Our area is recovering from about 4 inches of rain which caused river flooding.  I haven't heard of any massive damage like there has been in Missouri.  The flood plain in our area is mostly parkland.

The bike trail that spans our county from north to south is flooded where it borders the Great Miami River.

The falls to the right of the sign is roaring with water.

Across the street, the parking lot for Farrington Reserve is covered with water.  Just beyond the treeline you can see the overflowing river.

The baseball diamonds in Troy are flooded.

The bike trail underpass near Charleston Falls is filled with water.  You can tell by the waterlines on the trees standing in the water that the water was higher yesterday.

There is plenty of water flowing over the falls.  Because we have had dry weather this fall, a lot of the water has sunk into the ground.  Because the land soaked up the water, the flooding was not as bad as it might have been.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play
And mild and sweet the words repeat
Of peace on earth good well to men.

I thought how as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had roll'd along th'unbroken song
Of peace on earth good will to men.

And in despair I bow'd my head:
"There is no peace on earth," I said,
"For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men."

Till, ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime, a chant sublime,
Of peace on earth, good will to men!

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Thursday, December 17, 2015

This Year Santa Has Hair

A few years ago, Tom bought eleven reindeer from Mark, our friend who Tom met at Pulmonary Rehab, an exercise program they go to twice a week.  Tom intends one for each of our grandchildren.  I suggested that we keep them until the grandchildren are settled in homes of their own.  At the moment most of them are only living a short time here and a short time there.  Lots of things get lost in the shuffle between moves.  

A few weeks later Tom came home with a box for me.  Mark made me a sleigh and my very own reindeer.  This one has a red pompom for a nose.

The first two years the sleigh was empty.  Then I decided I needed a Santa in that sleigh.  I started looking but I couldn't find one the right size.  

Then, one day when I was looking at gloves, I came up with an idea.  The gloves I was looking at were those stretchy kind, the one size fits all kind.  But I really liked was the fingers.  For some reason they had been designed with fingers that were half red, half black.  The black would make perfect Santa boots.

So here he is...

I started with one glove. The middle two  fingers became his legs.  I tucked the outside two fingers into his coat and stitched them in place.  The thumb became one arm.  From the second glove, I cut the thumb and stitched it into a slot on the first glove.  The cuff of the glove is his collar.  

I cut off the toe and part of the leg of a white panty hose. I stuffed the toe  with cotton and gathered the open end to form a ball for the head.  I gathered small stitches around a circle in the center front to make a nose that would protrude and drew a face with Crayola markers.  The beard is baby yarn, unraveled. I stuffed the base of the toe down into the cuff of the glove. The hat is a small plush Christmas stocking with the heel cut off.

Santa stayed this year for several years.  It bothered me a bit that his head was bald but that didn't show if I shoved the head far enough into the hat.  

But this year...

I sewed some yarn hair on that poor bald head.  However he still has a partly bald head.  If he is sensitive, he'll just have to keep his hat on.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Birding with Tom, Saturday, December 12, 2015

Solidago ( I don't know which one)

We were walking through Octagon Prairie at Charleston Falls when Tom noticed a huge flock of robins high in the trees at the edge of the woods.

"I wonder if those are all robins."

"I'll go back and get our binoculars," I said.

It was a record-setting warm day...68 degrees Fahrenheit.  The parking lot was full.  There were so many people walking their dogs, we wondered if the park was sponsoring its monthly dog social.  It wasn't.

When we looked along the less traveled trails we found the birds.  They were too far away to photograph but not too far away to find with our binoculars.  Between us we saw fifteen species.  My favorites were three Cedar Waxwings.

Picture from The Field Guide to the Birds of North America, Second edition published by the National Geographic Society.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Celtic Tenors, a concert at Hobart Arena in Troy

We've been to three high school graduations in Hobart Arena.  Years ago I took  a Cub Scout group or maybe it was a 4-H group to Hobart for ice skating.  This was the first time Tom and I have gone to the arena for a concert.

The concert was perfect, just the right amount of folksyness.  The music was grand.  Some of instrumental accompaniments were performed by The Celtic Tenors and the musicians who travel with them.  Some of then were performed by the Dayton Philharmonic, Neal Gittleman conducting.

I liked the tenors' arrangements, Each tenor showcased his voice and then they blended their voices. The selections were a mix, a couple operettic melodies so well known that I think everyone in the audience recognized them, a few Irish folksongs, at least one Scottish folksong, a few popular songs, and many Christmas songs.  The tenors encouraged us to join in the choruses which was fun, too. Tom and I don't have a lot of opportunities to sing.

Between songs, the tenors entertained us with amusing comments and funny incidents from their lives back in Ireland.

If The Celtic Tenors come your way, go hear them.  You will be happy you did.  You can learn more about them at

Picture from the back cover of the CD we bought.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Troy Civic Theatre presents A Nice Family Gathering December 11 and 12

Last Friday evening, Tom and I went to see A Nice Family Gathering.  Phil Olson is the playwright.  Both of us enjoyed it. Everyone in the  audience had good laughs and thoughtful moments as well.  Me, being who I am, shed a tear or two.

I hope that you take time  from your holiday preparations to come to the play this coming Friday or Saturday evening.  You will be glad you did.

The Lundeen family is a typical loving family with family jokes and perceived long standing slights which are part of all families.  The thing that makes them a bit different from some families is that they are of stoic Norweigan descent and the word, love, is not part of their spoken vocabulary.  The cast, directed by Terressa Knoch, created a believable loving family beset by problems as all families are.

The Lundeens are having Thanksgiving dinner at the family home a few months after the death of  Dad because Mom decided she would like to have "A Nice Family Gathering".  Nobody knows that Carl, the second son, is being haunted by Dad who has a last message for Mom.  The plot thickens when Mom invites a single friend of Dad's, Jerry Myers, for dinner, too.What is the meaning of this invitation?

Robert Hyer plays Carl Lundeen, the son haunted by Dad's spirit.

Don Kuchta plays Dad (Carl Lundeen) who causes Carl, his son, much frustration.

Karen Lohr is Mom (Helen Lundeen) who loves her family, even if she is absent-minded.

Josh Lurie is Michael, the oldest son, who has multiple problems in his life.

Tina Hayes plays Jill Lundeen, Michael's wife, who has problems, also.

Sydney Edington portrays the youngest child, Stacy Lundeen.  Stacy goes about living her life in her own way as members of  her family go about their more conventional lives.

Jerry Myers, the friend Mom invited for dinner, is played by Steve Dietrich.

The cast meshed well, creating a believable family.  There was a genuine feeling of love and caring as the play proceeded.

Sydney Edington and Robert Hyer participated in The Troy Recreational Department's Children's Musical Theater productions for many years.  It is great to see children's musical theater performers graduating to Troy Community Theatre productions.

As always, my thanks to the production crew and all those who helped to make this play possible.

Here is a photo of the cast and the crew who were present on Friday evening.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Fog and Hoarfrost, December 5, 2015

It was foggy and 27 degrees Farenheit  when Jeanne and  I set out on our morning walk.

Jeanne noticed this sapling looked as though it was hung with icecyles like the ones we sometimes hang on Christmas trees.  When I gently touched my index finger to the bottom of an "icecyle" it vanished.

A few steps later, we saw this.

Clearly, it was an orb weaver's spiderweb covered with hoarfrost.  It looked like the crocheted doilies my grandmother made.

At the falls, the park staff had draped a swag along the protective barrier.

Trees, rocks and the water pouring over the falls were obscured by the fog.

As we walked along, we saw webs made by spiders other than the orb weavers.  The spider who made this web makes it close to the ground.  Then it sits in the hole close to the center and waits for dinner to drop in.

This spider is more of a three-dimensional artist or maybe a spider interested in architecture.  The web has walls and a floor.

We saw webs drop and disappear before we could take photos of them.  We saw web lines drop and turn into miniature icecyles.

We were walking in a wonderland.

On the hill top of the prairie between the creek and the pond, the Monument Plant (American Columbo or Swertia caolinensis)  seeds were edged with frost.

Other seedheads covered with hoarfrost....


To really get a good look at these beautiful works of nature, click on the photos and enlarge them.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

A Buffalo Berger at Buffalo Jack's

The sign high in the air along Main Street is the first thing I look for.  Then I know where to turn  into the parking lot.  Walking back toward Main, I turn the corner and come face to face with this creature.  Just now I realize I have never touched him.  I have always assumed he is cast iron.

This fellow has been around since before Tom and I moved to Miami County which was nearly fifty years ago.

Wednesday,  two good friends and I met at the restaurant for lunch.  We usually come here once or twice a year.  Pat and I always order buffalo bergers but Ceceila often orders a full meal so she wouldn't have to cook much for supper.  We could have dined on rattlesnake or alligator or elk.  Can't remember if there are any other choices other than fish, beef, chicken, and pork.

This guy stood diagaonally across from our table.

Before we left, Pat and Ceceila stood near the polar bear so I could get a size comparison.

If you look through the doorway behind them, you get a glimpse of what startled me the first time I decided to use the restroom here.

Here is a close up of what is beyond the doorway.  If you click on the photo, you will understand better why I was startled.  The fellow on the left is scary... and  the women's restroom is to the left.

As we headed for the door after lunch, we noticed that the buffalo just inside the front door had  greenery tucked behind his horn.  The holidays have arrived at Buffalo Jack's.

I plan to do some research about this restaurant.  There must be a story here.