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.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Hot Water Again, Thanks to Five Star Plumbing

July 7. Friday evening, I went down the basement to take clothes out of the dryer.

Oh, dear!  See that water on the floor?


I investigated, found the leak, reported to Tom, found the owner's manual in our box of manuals, noted that the water heater was past its expected lifetime, decided to get a new one.


On Saturday, we went to a local Hardware Big Box Store, found the hotwater heater we wanted and were promised delivery within 72 hours.


Tuesday...more than 72 hours later.  Glad the water heater was in the basement.  Tom called the installer.  Someone would be out on Friday!  Tom called the Big Box Store.  The salesperson told Tom he would contact another installer.  

Good news!  The installer promised to be out on Wednesday.

Happy dance!  

Another happy dance when Five Star Plumbing sent Brandon out on Wednesday.  


Joy reigns!  Brandon is a pleasant, friendly young man and and a good plumber.  

We have a new hot water heater.  We will certainly recommend Five Star Plumbing to our friends and neighbors.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Butterfly Transect...2017 Update

I haven't been posting weekly butterfly reports from the Brukner Nature Center Butterfly Transect because we haven't been seeing many butterflies.  One week we saw NONE.  That was a disappointing walk.

I looked through the statistical results from 2016 this morning.  July is usually a good month for butterflies so maybe next week we will see more.

We walked on July 9.  Ruth thought she saw an American Snout butterfly while she was waiting for the group to gather but we didn't see one on the walk.  When we don't see many butterflies we entertain ourselves by paying attention to other plants and animals.

Ruth found Monarch eggs on the Milkweed plants near the Interpretive Center so we know Monarchs have been around.  We found chewed leaves but no caterpillars.

Ruth found this as we headed toward the meadow...a crab spider with lunch.


We were almost in luck when we walked through the meadow.  I say "almost in luck" because we saw two dark swallowtails...one flying on our left and the other on our right.  Jim said he thought he got a photo of one of them.  When Ruth sends us a note about the next walk, she will let us know if she was able to determine the species.  We could have been seeing a Spicebush Swallowtail, a Pipevine Swallowtail or the dark female morph of the Tiger Swallowtail.

The butterflies, the few we saw, were not sitting but I found this...


I'll put it up on the Ohio Mothing Facebook page and see if someone can tell me what it is.

I took photos of a couple plants we have no names for.  This is the first one.


I have already posted the plant photos below to Ohio Wildflowers.  We were fairly sure the plant was in the same family as Queen Anne's Lace.  We were right.  Helpful folks identified it as Japanese Hedge Parsley.  Our area must be perfect for it.  There is a lot of it at Charleston Falls as well as at Brukner.



Along the walk we saw a few Red Admirals but none were close enough for photos until we started along the drive back to the Interpretative Center.


We saw a Summer Azure sitting for a picture.


We also saw at least one Eastern Tailed Blue.

There were Cabbage Whites flying here and there as we walked...not many considering how numerous they can be.

One dragonfly posed for us.


And a doe walked out into the soybean field on the other side of the fence.



Friday, July 7, 2017

The Spiral of Life...Royal Catchflies


It is interesting to me how life spirals as the years go by, how separate events become part of a story in my life that I didn't see happening until now, now that I can look back and see how one event led to another.

Royal Catchflies have become a connection of events in my life.

Back in the late seventies or early eighties, I began volunteering for Brukner Nature Center in Troy, Ohio.  One of the first Brukner Volunteer trips I went on was to visit the prairies of Madison and Champaign Counties.  Ralph Ramey was our guide.  His name is known to many Ohio naturalists and environmentalists. The boardwalk at Cedar bog in Champaign County is named for him.


One of the remnant prairie sites he took us to was Bigelow Prairie Cemetery in Madison County.  It was there that I first saw the Royal Catchfly.  I don't remember there being much in the way of trails.  We just followed Ralph to the back of the small cemetery.  There, amid old tombstones and other prairie flowers were these brilliant red flowers.For a long time Bigelow was the only known Ohio site for these flowers.

Part of the reason Ralph loved the prairies was because he loved the butterflies attracted to the plants found in them.  His love of butterflies kindled my love of butterflies as well as prairies.

Tom and I began going to the Ohio Prairie Conferences.  The conferences were small in those days, fewer than a hundred people.  One year the conference was held in former school  near Germantown.  There, a woman, older than we were then (and younger than we are now) was proudly displaying the Royal Catchfly plants she had raised from seed.  They were her babies.  She wanted people to see them but she wasn't interested in giving them to most people.  They were too precious.

Onward ten years or so... the Darke County Parks volunteers began having plant sales and one of the plants they were selling was the Royal Catchfly.  We bought one but it died despite our  care.
The following year, we didn't go to the sale but a friend did.  She remembered our desire for a Royal Catchfly and she brought us one.  It was a weak, small plant but she said that was the only one they had left by the time she arrived.  That plant grew into the clump of Royal Catchfly we have now, the one in the photo above.

Now Ohio Wildflower Nurseries sell Royal Catchflies.  Last year we planted one in Tom's prairie patch that he planted around two large rocks brought down from Canada by the glaciers.

This year we have the start of another beautiful clump of Royal Catchfly.  The arrow marks the spot where the Royal Catchfly is.


A closer photo of the plant.


I took this photo early on July 3.If you look carefully you can see two buds showing red tips.

Late in the afternoon, I took this photo.


Hooray for Royal Catchflies.

Update...July10, 2017...