Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Saturday of Labor Day Weekend, Sept. 2017

Henry came again to visit because Sonja was in the process of moving from one house to another.  I know Henry had more attention from us than Sonja had time to give him.

Steve came to visit, too.  

One Saturday, Steve and I went to the Fort Rowdy Gathering in Covington.  This was the twenty-fifth year for the event.  Years ago I took Steve's brother to the gathering.  The gathering is a little larger now but still uncrowded and easy-going.

The gathering is on two open grassy areas surrounded by trees, one area on either end of a bridge across the Stillwater River.  The bridge is rebuilt every year for the weekend and then taken down.


Close to the shore, Steve spotted a school of several hundred tiny fish swimming fast and away from us.

Life in the encampment is old style camping.  There is a native American encampment as well.




Arts and crafts are demonstrated and sold on both sides of the bridge but they are somewhat different.  On the near side there are painted gourds and fine needlework and other crafts that a person finds at a typical craft show.  On the far side are the craftmen and women who make the kind of crafts Daniel Boone would have found useful.  One craftsman we talked to was making a water jug from leather.  The crafts are laid out on blankets or tables or hung on racks.



There was music on the tents on both ends of the bridge as well.  The old, old songs the settlers brought from Europe were sung on the far end encampment.  The listeners sat on straw bales.


As Steve and I headed back to the bridge because we were hungry and the food booths were on the other side, we saw a boy fishing.  He caught a little blue gill and threw it back in to grow larger.





View from halfway across the bridge.



 On the near end, the music was more modern country music.  There were amps set up as well as bleachers for the listeners to sit on.



This festival is a money making event for local non-profit organizations.  Steve and I bought lunch from the boy scouts...brats and kraut and mashed potatoes.  For dessert we had homemade apple dumplings and ice cream from the booth next door.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

A Bouquet of Prairie Flowers, August, 2017


Earlier this month, Marsha came to paint with me.  I was pleased to see her.  I haven't been painting much for several years.  I needed a jumpstart.  Marsha, bless her, seems to have done that.

The flowers in the bouquet are from our yard...the smaller yellow ones with the graceful thin stems are Tall Coreopsis, the bigger yellow ones are Oxeye, and the orange are Butterflyweed.  The pitcher is one we bought in either Williamsburg or Jamestown, Virginia.  I remember Williamsburg.  Tom remembers Jamestown.  I received the tatted star doily in a Christmas gift exchange when I was co-oping at Landers Corporation in Toledo my senior year in high school.


This is how the painting looked after the painting session with Marsha.  I started with a rough sketch using a Micron pen, then laid in watercolors.  I was hoping to keep the painting as a sketch, an impression, not a photographic image.


I always need to make frequent stops to "think".  This was the result of my thinking.


Another day to "think".  I decided to lighten the fabric on the right side, also to redarken the leaves at the pitcher edge.  I had wiped out a lot of the color.  Then I went bolder with the watercolor.  The very last strokes I made were a few with a white gel pen to bring back some reflections on the pitcher.


Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Brukner Nature Center Butterfly Transect, August 13, 2017



Joy and frustration. The day was hot and sunny. We saw ten species of butterflies although we didn't see many of any of them.  My biggest frustration was that this was the best picture of a butterfly that I took...A Silver-spotted Skipper.  The warmer the weather the less likely it is for a butterfly to sit quietly for a portrait.

First the joy...

Molly, who is good at identifying moths and caterpillars of both moths and butterflies walked with us today.  Because of her I saw this beautiful caterpillar.  She told me it was the caterpillar of an Eight-spotted Forester, a moth.

When Tom and I were looking at prairie flower sites last month, I took this photo of the adult Eight-spotted Forester.  It is a showy moth which flies during the day.  It has showy tufts on its forelegs.


And now the frustrations...

This is a Hackberry perched on the wall of the Interpretive Center.




A little better photo of an Eastern Tailed Swallowtail.

But then here is one of a Monarch.  We saw two.



A Summer Azure looking worn.

I drove into our drive hoping that Jim got some better photos.  On the garden phlox beside the drive was this butterfly.  I took a few photos.  Butterflies move faster when the temperatures are in the eighties (Fahrenheit) so I took a lot of photos to get these two that enabled me to identify it as a Spicebush female.  I was happy to see one more species of butterfly.




Saturday, August 12, 2017

Beautiful Day at Charleston Falls, August 12, 2017

Come with Jeanne and me on the walk we took at Charleston Falls this morning.  The day was perfect...sweater weather and sunny.

Black-eyed Susans

And the smaller Brown-eyed Susans

Ironweed

Spiderwebs sparkling with dew in the sunshine

Not sure what this plant is.  I plan to take more photos and post them to the Ohio Wildflowers and Flora Facebook page.  I discovered when I started searching my field guides that I hadn't looked at the plant as closely as I needed to for ID purposes.  The little black row of "buttons" fascinated me.

Bright orange fungi on a rotting log

Doll's Eyes ( White Baneberry)  The fruit is far showier than the delicate flowers.

And an enormous Prairie Dock


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

The Saga of the Power Chair Lift

Some of you may remember that I mentioned that it was unusual for us to be at Magee Marsh late enough to see a sunset.

There was a reason we saw this sunset.  We were all set to head back to our motel after finding Kentucky Fried Chicken to bring back with us.  Tom was in the van.  I put the chair on the lift, pushed the button,  and then this happened.

Nothing!  For some reason, at the time I was more interested in the situation than in taking photos so I took the them yesterday.  You will have to imagine...an enormous parking lot, filled with vehicles from all over the United States, gravelly outer edges (like where we were parked).  We are facing the woods that the boardwalk is built through.  On the other side of the parking lot is a wild grassy sandy area that was once a sunbathing beach and beyond that is Lake Erie.  The sun is low in the sky and little black flies are beginning to bite.

The first step is to take the power chair off the lift.  Next...try the toggle switch again...jiggle the lift left and right...not much movement...  I try pushing the manual restart buttons. (The problem has happened before so I have learned about the buttons.) No reaction.

Tom helps me get out the tools we have in the van.


Among them is a diagram and instructions.  Not any help to us.

Finally, Tom calls the lift retailer, Cecil, at his home.  He is two and a half hours away.  He tells us to push the button behind the arm but to use a screwdriver so I don't lose a finger when the lift suddenly starts working.

No problem following instructions.  No problem worrying about my finger.  Nothing happened.

Finally Cecil starts searching on his computer and gives us the 800 number of the lift's manufacturer.  Tom starts to work...after phone calls and referrals, he connects with a dealer in the Toledo area which is less than an hour away.

Remember it is late in the day, afterhours for the business.  The on-call technician isn't in Ohio.  He is visiting in Michigan.  He really doesn't want to make a trip.  It is nearly dark and he has never heard of Magee Marsh.  He doesn't know where it is.

He keeps telling us to press the white button.  There is no white button, only a black button.  After a lot of negotiation, he agrees to come but it will cost us two hundred dollars, the afterhour charge...and it will take him about two hours to get to us.

 During the discussion, he learns that Magee Marsh is what was once Crane Creek State Park.  He remembers going there when he was a teenager so he knows where it is.  We learn that he is just over the Ohio-Michigan line so two hours is an exaggeration.

We can't close the back end of the van...the lift is out and not moving.  The biting flies are happy. Then we remember we have insect repellent in the van.

We wait.  More birders leave.

The technician comes a little over an hour after the last phone call.  He was right. The fix took only fifteen minutes.

We find our Kentucky Fried Chicken and our motel room.

The next day the lift operates perfectly.

Our local lift technician replaces the motor.  This photo was taken from inside the van.  The platform the power chair sits on is behind the arrow...the thing with the row of holes.



Hooray!

But the problem is obviously something else we learn  a month later when we have the same problem again.

This time we are only an hour and a half from home and Cecil talks a mechanically savvy friend through the repair process as I watch and help where I can.

Once we are back home, our local technician goes over the lift carefully.  The lift still isn't working so he installs a loaner lift and promises to check everything over and to talk to the manufacturer again.

We come back.  This time the technician  replaces the rollers the lift rolls back on.  He and the manufacturer cannot come up with any other possibility.

The next day we learn the lift is still not fixed BUT I can get the lift in if I jiggle it and give it a little push.

Never one to give up, Tom decides to try a repair shop in Cincinnati.  This technician has worked with lifts for ten years.  After one and a half hours he FINDS THE CULPRIT!  The wire connecting the lift and the motor is corroded under its plastic coating.

Isn't technology wonderful!!

We haven't had any more trouble.  We're feeling confident.  We may start taking longer trips again.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Art in the Park, July 17, 2017

 I told Tom about the ten food trucks being set up for the Art in the Park, hoping to entice him into coming with me to this first annual Art in the Park being sponsored by the Tipp City Area Arts Council.  We went, either because of the food trucks or because he wanted to please me...maybe both.

The food trucks were parked on the outer side of the circular drive in the park.  The art booths were set up on the inner side.  People sat around in the center area and listened to music. Seating was either in lawn chairs people brought with them or on the ground.

The community band was playing when we arrived.

We were pleased we came.  The gyros from the food truck were the best I have had in a while.

Later, we stopped at the high school music boosters booth for homemade ice cream.  They told us they are returned from band camp very late last night so they were feeling a bit groggy.  Band camp is held at Rio Grande which is in the far southeastern part of the state.

By the time we finished talking about band camp, the community band had packed up and a local group was setting up.


As we walked about we met friends we hadn't seen for a while.  It is always nice to catch up on the news.  

I was especially happy to see Lilian.  She has been teaching people how to manipulate polymer clay for many years.  I have taken lots of classes from her but she has been having family and health issues this summer so she hasn't been teaching.  I was glad to hear things are going better for her and her family and she is planning to resume teaching.

(We are in the process of reconfiguring our computer so I don't have access to softwear to give you a closer look at the jewelry.  I will add some closeups as soon as I can.)

Since I have a friend who makes "altered books" I was interested in this booth.

The artist cut books in shapes of letters and then decorated them to illustrate the word she created.  Notice the word, TRAVEL, in the background.  I asked her where she found so many books the same size and thickness. She said she recently inherited a huge collection of romance novels.  She wasn't interested in reading them but she does like art, especially mixed media. I wish I had asked her what she used to cut the books.  Do you suppose she used a scroll saw?  What else would do the job?








Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Bigelow Cemetery State Nature Preserve, Madison County, Ohio



After I wrote the blog about the Royal Catchflies in our yard and our experiences with them, Tom and I decided it was time to make the excusion to see Bigelow Cemetery State Nature Preserve, the place where we first saw Royal Catchflies.

The first time I saw the cemetery was with a group of volunteers from Brukner in the early nineteen eighties.  This sign had not been erected.  Naturalists in Ohio had only recently become interested in the prairies that appear here and there in Ohio.


Tom and I have been here many times over the years. The first times he and I both walked the paths. Now Tom waits in the van while I explore.  He brought a book along to read while I walked for forty minutes.


The trees in the distance are Burr Oaks, the tree associated with Ohio prairies.  Its tough thick bark can withstand prairie fires.


This monument marks the burial spot of Stephen Smith, age 11, who died in 1833. The earliest tombstones date to 1814 and the last known burial was in 1892.


                                          Prairie Dock



This is the gravestone of Dr. William King.  He "Died April the 14th 1844  Aged 30 years 11months and 5 days".  Many of these stones have the exact day of the person's death described like this.  It makes me feel that people appreciated every day that they lived.  Below, mostly hidden by the flowers is a message:
"My glass has run, my grave you see
In time prepare to follow me.
Go home dear friends and dry your tears,
I must lie here til Christ appears.
And when he does, i hope to rise
Unto a life that never dies."

                                        Sainfoin (Scurf-Pea)

Mostly Gray-headed Coneflower, two Purple Coneflowers, and two Royal Catchflies.  Burr Oaks in the background.

                     Honeybee on Wild Bergamot

                               Painted Lady

Leaves and developing acorns of the Burr Oak

Various prairie flowers.

In this photo, you can get a good look at the calyx beneath the red petals.  The calyx is sticky which is why the plant is called a "catchfly".

I saw a Ruby-throated hummingbird at least a half dozen times nectaring at the Royal Catchflies but I wasn't as fast with my camera as the hummingbird was with his wings.  I'll just have to keep him in my memory.