Sunday, October 22, 2017

Painting at the Little Mader Farm

Marsha arranged for our painting group to paint at the Little Mader Farm for the second time.  The weather was perfect, sunny, cool enough to need a light jacket but warm enough after a lunch snack to take the jacket off.  Jerri made  a delicious blueberry coffee cake for us.  There were five of us painting, half of the original plein air group from five or six years ago.  It was good to see everyone.

I painted and sketched, sketched and painted using the Micron pen and watercolor technique I have been playing with the last couple months.  When I looked at the painting after I came home, I realized I had painted a chair with only three legs.  I painted one in.  The rest of the painting is as it was when I laid down my brush for the final time at the farm.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Tom's Garden, 2017

I took this photo about a month ago.  (Life has been unusual lately).

Tom planted his usual beets, Swiss Chard, and green beans.  In other years the pole beans have grown to the top of upright two by fours.  This year Tom found a fabric meshing through the Internet which he draped over a frame from the uprights to the Northern White Cedars.  The vines had a way to twine and they did.

We bought the seed from the local Seed and Grain elevator store.  I asked for Stringless pole beans and that was what we got.  The beans were the most tender and tastiest we have ever had.

Friday, October 6, 2017

A Listening Walk at Charleston Falls, October 3, 2017

I needed a break from life so I took a walk at Charleston Falls.  First I hiked through Octagon Prairie.  Grasshoppers hopped across my path, too fast for me to catch them with my camera.  I saw an Orange Sulphur Butterfly.  It was too fast to catch, too.  Then I noticed the sounds.  They were not too fast to catch... insects in a loud chorus of varied musical notes and the breeze adding intermittent swirls reminding me of violins.

When I walked into the woods, the insect chorus was not as loud but then I heard the clatter and plop of walnuts as the breeze blew them down through the crispy leaves of the trees. They hit the ground with loud thuds.  I was glad none fell on my head.

The stream above the falls flowed along quietly.

There was just enough water flowing over the falls to tickle the ears with a swishing sound accented by splashes as the water hit the rocks below.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Flower Sketching Experiments

I have all sorts of excuses for not losing myself in artwork recently.  Ignoring painting and drawing is not good for me.  I am happier even if I spend only a half hour a day creating.

I've been doing flower studies to get art back into my life.

I've already posted the bouquet I painted when I painted with Marsha in August.  These are three sketches I've done since then.

I like to work from a still-life set-up.  I found a few weigelia flowers still blooming.

The vase is one I bought years ago when my sister and I were shopping at a Mikasa store at an outlet mall.  I used a Micron pen which was a little low on ink.  There was enough ink for me to draw some guidelines but not enough to create firm edges.  Afterward, I laid in some watercolor washes.  The paper is bit thin so I had to be careful, not have much water in my brush.

After Labor Day Marsha and I painted at her house.  This time it was simpler to work from photographs than from a still-life.

I still used basically the same technique.  I chose to sketch only a few of the Purple Coneflowers in the photo.

I had time to do a second painting.  Marsha said she had seen an interesting painting on-line in which the artist had started with a wash of colors and then gone back and drawn shapes.  I decided to see what I could come up with.

The photo is of Ironweed.

Here is the result.  I decided I liked the sketchy lines so I didn't redraw them more precisely with a fresh Micron pen.  I think this technique could make an interesting background for a collage of some sort.  I also plan to try it on a paper that is more suitable for watercolor washes.

All of these pieces are small, about seven  inches square.

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


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 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.


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.