Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Rainy Day Hike

On Saturday the rains moved in.  
I had planned on going for a walk to look at wild flowers and hopefully find a morel or two.

I put on my Frogg Toggs and decided to stick a pocket camera inside my pocket and go see what I could find despite the rainfall.

I used my weatherproof Fuji pocket camera and hoped that it was still weatherproof after all of these years.


My Frogg Toggs got muddy but seemed to hold up pretty well, I spent almost 2 hours in the rain and didn't get wet.
However I did get muddy.

I found some False Morels, these were all over on a north facing hillside.
Very nasty mushrooms from what I understand.  


These should never be confused with Morels, their stems are solid not hollow like a morel is.

I also found strawberry plants that were starting to bloom near the creek.


To my horror, I found a large patch of Garlic Mustard.  
I pulled as much as I could, even though this is not in our woods.  


So I spent the day hunting for morels and found just one, but also discovered two patches of garlic mustard.  As I pulled them I found dutchman breeches under them.  
These are awful plants and this forest will more than likely become invaded by this plant.

No animals eat it.


Saturday, April 30, 2016

Calgon take me away

Sunday ends a brutal work stretch of odd hours and many many hours.  I'm not complaining about the hours and the pay mind you, I just got a bit overwhelmed.

The house remodel is coming along.  I have to call the General Contractor and ask him to come and take a look at things.  Seems the plumber and the concrete people see a problem that the excavator didn't/couldn't take care of and since it isn't their job to fix it...the drain and the drain tile work stop about 15 feet from the basement.

The floor is ready to go in...but...well, there you go, that is why we have a GC, it is his job to take care of the little details.


In the Merry Meadow, the wild apple trees are starting to show buds, well...they were on Wednesday.  I'd like to go out and wander around a bit today and take some spring photos.

Hubby hasn't felt well most of the week due to a med change and error in his part of not taking his meds properly.  
Of course with my heavy work load this week, I haven't been able to help out as much as I like to.  Plus I felt guilty of leaving hubby on his own for some meals.
He is terrible about properly feeding himself.  
I leave him a meal and he eats cheese and crackers.


I'm also getting tired of dreary skies.  Apparently the sun will shine tomorrow while I am at work.  

I was able to grab a few moments earlier this week to do my weekly Still Life photo.  Last Saturday while I was running errands in town, I was able to pick up a china cup and saucer for $1.  I thought it would look nice in a photo and it was pretty.  I also picked up a Chicken Cookie Jar for $2.  It will look very nice on my new kitchen counter!

Here is the new cup and saucer.  I photographed it on the concrete floor in the living room.  This spot used to have bricks on it which we have removed for the remodeling.


I also was amused to find a photo from February that I'd taken of a pair of gloves.  I was going to toss them out, but I still find them useful.


I am wondering if I can use the wooden pallets that the concrete guys have left behind for something useful.  I'm already thinking of how I can take some old wood crates and re use them ... oh
the 
mind is 
wandering!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Romantic Memories of being a kid

Or should I say that the memories of being a kid are not romantic but perhaps bittersweet?

I picked up a red Huffy bicycle from my mom that she had for sale a while ago.
Sunday night promised to be beautiful so after supper I took out the Huffy.

The first bike I rode on was my brother's red Huffy boy's bike.  We rode that bike it seemed like forever.  To this day I recall choosing to ride the red bike over the girl's bike mom got us.

I hopped on and tried to ride up the hill on the skid steer path back to see my husband who was working on a brush pile.  I couldn't make the hill.  However I did ride from the crest down into the pasture where he was and proceeded to exclaim how much fun I was having.
And nearly crashed.  The brakes barely worked.

Husband laughed and laughed and so did I.  I started out by saying, "When I was a kid...!"  Well that caused more laughter as I am not a kid anymore.  Not in body.

The bike needed air in the tires and the chain needed oiling.  Soon I was on my way cruising up and down the flat part of the driveway hitting bumps and negotiating some rough stuff.  
I had the mule/horse/donkey herds' attention.  Some snorted, the horses ran willy nilly, and Sally the donkey stood solid and watched my fiasco.  Soon the red sisters, Sunshine and Sundance joined her.

I rode up to Siera and Fred's paddock.  They bolted and Fred came back.  Siera perked her ears and gave me the stare as if I was a three headed monster.  She watched and didn't move a muscle.  I sat for a while alongside the fence and talked to her.  She just watched me.  Perhaps she thought I'd grown some strange looking legs.

I guess I found something she could use some work with. A bicycle.

I walked the old bike up the steep driveway and hopped on by the mailboxes.  I pedaled and rode the gravel road like the wind.  Well perhaps in my mind!  

I did have a slight downhill to assist me.  I rode along the relatively flat ridge road and then stopped to enjoy the sunset.


My week ahead was going to be filled with many work hours and the construction on our Little House Remodel was supposed to start on Monday.

I took a few moments to enjoy the skies and then slowly pedaled towards home wondering why it was so much easier when I was just 12.

Perhaps I need to get the old Red Huffy out more often, I'd forgotten the thrill of the speed.


Sunday, April 24, 2016

Making excuses

To get out of the yard and into the woods.

Hubby decided to take his afternoon nap.  I nodded and said that I'd go look for some wild parsnip to dig down by the creek. I gathered a bucket, a shovel, and off I went.  Morris stayed home although I should have taken him with.

It was a good excuse to go wandering in the woods with my camera.  I found some really beautiful things.


Spring Beauties
The Spring Beauties were really abundant on the north east side of the hill not far down from the top of the ridge.  Of course I had to stop and look at them.  These plants are no more than a few inches tall and the flowers are smaller than a pencil eraser.

I walked further down the trail and then stopped and looked back at the top.  I sat down on the 'sitting' rock and decided to just sit for a moment and listen to the sounds of the forest.

I heard the Cardinal singing, off in the distance a Bluejay called. There were the regulars like the Sparrows, and the Robins had been in the forest for a while now.
I listened closely and off in the distance I could hear a Wood Thrush. There is nothing more beautiful than the Wood Thrush's echoing in the woods.  Just my personal opinion.
Hear it here:

The Trail view from the sitting rock, looking towards the ridge.

I grabbed my shovel and bucket and headed down the steep hill noting how dry everything looked and how crunchy the leaves were under my feet.  Even the squirrels sounded noisy as they chattered and ran.

I wandered around the creek bottom and stopped here and there with the shovel to remove some pesky plants that were coming up.  Wild Parsnip, although tasty are not plants that you want to get involved with in mid summer.  It's juices will give you a “phyto-photodermatitis”, which happens when the sap of the plant, from broken stems and leaves, touches the skin and is exposed to ultraviolet light (whether cloudy or sunny).
 Source: Wild Parsnips.

I don't want these plants in the areas that the kids and grand kids will hike with me.  We often go to an area called 'The Beach' which has very a very nice area of sand and the creek bottom is sandy as well.  It is withing hiking distance and makes for a fun place to cool off in the summer.
This is as bad as getting into poison ivy in my opinion or even worse.

Near 'The Beach'

The good thing is that the roots are tasty and edible.  I love cooking them flavored in pesto sauce.  It takes work, but it is well worth the taste.

When I got to 'The Beach', I found Horsetails coming up through the sand with wild parsnip.  

Horsetails, Mare Tail, Scour Reed, Pipes

I dropped the bucket and got to work, looking for some nice sized parsnip roots.

Nice sized roots got tossed into the creek so I could wash the sand off from them, others got carefully laid out on logs so the would dry up and die.  I stayed for quite a while digging and just being busy.  I was enjoying myself and thinking of hot summer days and dangling my barefeet into the cold creek.

I noticed as I started back towards home that it seemed time had gotten away from me.
The creek is so magical that I tend to get lost while there.  Lost in thoughts, memories, and the beauty that surrounds me.


However, I had the Val Barbie with me and thought I'd best get a shot of her and Doe for the next part of The Doe Story.


Val Barbie holds Doe close and gives her a hug.  Doe promises to come back to her friends before her birthday.  Something special will happen on that day assures Val Barbie.  "You must be with friends!"
Doe agrees.

However...


...all stories need a villain and here is the Villain Fox who overhears the conversation.  I think he plans on something evil.

Well I got home and back to reality.  I finished putting the mulch around the pine trees near the house and decided that I needed to go back to town and get some more.

I wonder what excuse I can make for getting out in the woods today?





Friday, April 22, 2016

Grandma's Hands

One of the things I recall from childhood is my Grandmother's hands.  

She gardened with gusto, she almost never wore shoes in the garden or around the place either.  She had a razor sharp hoe, but when it got to the nitty gritty, she got into the dirt and pulled weeds with her hands.

She never wore gloves.  I'm not sure there were gardening gloves back then for women.  You just went out into the garden and got your hands dirty.

I can recall going over to her house to get her.  Mom was going to get in the car and we were all going to go to town.
Grandma was in her house with a scrub brush soaping her fingertips and scrubbing away at the dirt that had embedded itself into her fingers.
I always thought it was neat how the dirt made the lines in her hands stand out.  

I learned to understand that she didn't.  She didn't like the dirt that was embedded and tried to get it out before she went anywhere public.  Especially to town.
She explained once that the women in town didn't have dirt in their hands like hers.

I didn't understand it when I was young, but I think the town ladies looked down on the ones who lived in the countryside and worked 'in the dirt'.  I saw it as cool and a sign that my Grandma Pearl was tough as nails.
She wasn't a soft lady who drank tea and always wore dresses.

I think her hands embarrassed her when she was around the church ladies or town people.  It never bothered me, I liked her rough hands.  They were nice to hold as a child.

I looked down at my hands after pulling weeds in the perennial garden this year.  The gloves were still in my back pocket.  I always intend to wear gloves when weeding and pulling, but they always come off.

My hands become embedded with dirt and sometimes the hardest scrubbing won't take the dirt out.  I find myself then thinking about those hands of Grandma's and I smile a bit.

"A little dirt never hurt anybody," she was fond of saying.

I think she was right.

I do love getting my hands into the soil.  It just doesn't feel right with gloves on.  You can't feel the roots of the plant you are pulling out.


Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Spring blast & Tainter Hollow

It hardly seems that Buster could grow so fast but he has.  In 7 short days he has grown so much!

Bonus!  Buster has not been an escapee as of this blog writing.  He has been easy to catch so far also.
He should be banded this weekend.  At least that is on my list of to do's.

On the 16th I took an early morning walk and to my delight I found the maidenhair fern just curling up out of the moss in the rocks.

The photo to the left was taken on the 16th and the photo on the right was taken on the 18th.  The ferns are really trying to take off!
Again these below were taken on the 16th.

Same ones on the 18th.
I should have thought ahead and tried to get the same exact angle but alas this is the first time I've tried a comparison photo.  
I doubt I can get the same angle every time.
However tomorrow morning I hope to try and see what another two days along with some light rain has done.

Yesterday I thought I'd take a drive down to Tainter Hollow and take a look around at Tainter Creek and the DNR land that is located there. 

It is a very unique piece of public land.  The valley is very steep with a beautiful trout stream that runs through it.
However if there is a heavy rain, Tainter Road always suffers washouts and sometimes closures.
The above photo is Tainter Hollow Rd after a 6 inch rain in 2014.

When I pulled into the little turn around I stopped the Jeep and literally jumped out.  I saw Virginia Bluebells, Wood Anenomes, Trout Lilys, and Dutchman's Breeches.
All are ephemeral flowers.

Ephemeral means short lived.  In other words, you have to keep an eye out for them in the Spring because they blossom then are done. 
I've never been to Tainter Creek at the exact right time before to see the expanse of these flowers until yesterday.

I was totally floored and in awe.  
Trout Lily:
Virginia Bluebells on the left Wood Anenomes on the right:
A sea of Anenomes:
Dutchman's Breeches:

When I got home from Tainter, I called my new neighbor and told her about all of the wild flowers I'd found.  She asked if I'd show her where they were and if we could do it when she got home from picking up her kids from school.

I guess my enthusiasm was evident in my voice and did take them to Tainter Hollow.  The children got to see a Great Blue Heron fly right over us, they got to explore and find beaver dams, and we even saw a pair of Canada Geese.

I was so happy to share this place that rarely gets visitors.

I hope to get to Tainter again this weekend to see if I can catch the bluebells  and the Trout Lily fully open before they do their magical disappearing act.


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Trying to keep it together part two

Ariel and I sat in the ravine for a while enjoying the cooler air.  

Amazingly the day had really turned quite warm.  She mentioned that she was glad we started our hike so early.
It had been rather cool in the morning shadows along the creek itself but now we were in a steep rocky area and not a lot of air was moving.

Morris ran up and down the rocks and the hillside.  He'd stop every once in a while and look around the woods.
Morris stands above the rocky ravine and peers over his 'domain'.

He enjoys being out with us and even seems more overjoyed by having Ariel around.  He just loves kids.  Of course when a turkey hunter let loose with a shotgun it turned Morris into a Sticky Glue Dog.  He didn't wander very far.  Most of the time he was nearly underfoot.
The hillside was dry and proved to be quite the challenge in more than one way.  I am used to steep hill climbs.  I live in this hilly area and have done this particular hillside more than once.  It is actually a bit scarier going down than up.  
It had so many interesting distractions.  Like Hepatica.
This is mother nature's short lived little flowers, along with the Blood Root which we also found.
I was surprised that I hadn't found more, usually these are the first flowers to find in the woods.  But it had been awfully dry so far and perhaps the roots were awaiting some rain.

The walk home was fairly uneventful and we just enjoyed each others company while we walked.

After the grand kids left I felt like I'd lost my adventure 'buddy'.  It sure had been fun.

I'd promised to take care of our neighbor's dog Dexter, or as they call him 'Dex'.  Perhaps not to confuse him with the show Dexter.


We took an evening walk together to watch the sunset.  Monday was going to be busy perhaps. 
The excavator was supposed to show up along with some more folks to begin the Little House Remodel. And I had a night shift. 
But, it was nice to take some quiet time and enjoy the evening colors.

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous about the whole remodel, dig a basement, add on .. thing.  Oh but wait, that is a whole different blog!
So many things going on at once.
I think I'll go sit with Dex and watch the woods.