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Hooded Mergansers

Friday, November 29, 2013

Thanksgiving Bird...

Like most everyone else who celebrates Thanksgiving traditionally, we had turkey for dinner.  We are at our daughter, Celeste's,  here in Texas.  Our son-in-law was born and raised in Texas and most of his family lives down around the Galveston/Houston area.  Celeste and Victor had a huge family get-together...  those able to come were Victors parents, 3 of his siblings and their spouses, and some of their kids, and Victor and Celeste's 4 kids; their spouses and several grandchildren, along with some other friends.  What a feast!  A feast for the heart with everyone seeing each other again....  and, a feast for the eyes...  to see the companionship among them all...  and...  okay, yes...  a HUGE feast for dinner.  Celeste outdid herself with that all that tasty food.

After dinner we were all sitting around on the back porch,  just hanging out...  and...  this guy came swooping in...  landed in the tree real close to the deck.....
This Sharp-shinned hawk was looking over towards one of the bird feeders....
Hoping, I'm sure, for his own Thanksgiving bird to feast on and be thankful for on this holiday.

Hope you had a great day, no matter where you were.

That's All For Today!

Monday, November 25, 2013

From There to Here...

We spent as much time in Ohio as we could, knowing when we left that nothing about our "problem child", the rental house, was settled.  But since we have several time-consuming things to do in Texas before we fly to Costa Rica on December 16th, the rental issues will either be resolved by our rental manager or will wait until this coming April when we return to the States.  Either way, it will be okay.

We did cram a lot into this visit east...  arriving back on the farm on Saturday, September 21, having get-togethers with our son, my siblings and all their kids and grandkids.  In mid-October we drove to Baltimore, MD, went on the genealogy cruise up to Maine, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and upon our return to Baltimore, drove up to the Hudson Valley of New York and visited with our daughter, son-in-law, granddaughter and great-granddaughter.  From there it was down through Pennsylvania and a visit with another daughter and her husband.  Back to the farm until this past Wednesday.  Bill worked his darnedest on that rental.
One last breakfast get-together with my sister, Cynthia, and brother, Larry.  Yes... it had turned quite cold right before we left.  We were all bundled up!

We don't normally pick up hitchhikers, but this trip we had a few stow-aways.
I believe we've now populated the states of Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, Arkansas and Texas with ladybugs that crawled in nooks and crannies in the motorhome.  Hopefully they won't find a mate and propagate!

The leaves weren't their usual beautiful fall colors in our part of Ohio this year, but the hills of Kentucky made up for it...
We took interstate highways nearly all the way, and in some areas the leaves were outstanding.

About the time we crossed the Mississippi River...
The Rains Began....
That was the 2nd day out....  
It didn't quit raining the rest of the trip...  in fact, we've been in Texas 2 days now, and it STILL hasn't stopped raining.

There was a huge road construction project starting about 20 miles east of Forest City, Arkansas.  There were signs several miles before the actual construction telling drivers to merge into the left lane as the right lane would be closed ahead.  Well, I don't know if you've experienced this...  but...  there always has to be some jerk who decides they are going to get to the front of the line, so they whiz along in the right lane and plan to cut into the left lane ahead of the crowd.  
The person driving the white car did just that...  they came flying up on the right....  the tanker truck saw them coming and very smoothly pulled over into the right lane and drove just slightly behind the semi truck on the left.  It was miles and miles before the tanker pulled back over....  very effectively putting a stop to the white car's plans.There were times when we all came to a total stand-still...  and even when we did move, it was at a creep.   We usually get off the roads before dark, but this evening, the delays made for a long day.

I know many RVers choose not to stay in Wal-Mart parking lots...
I should look at our journals and see just how many we HAVE stayed at over the years!  Sometimes overnight parking is prohibited, but that's usually due to a city ordinance, not Wal-Mart rules.  So, when I saw this sign, I had to take a picture of it....  Kinda makes a person feel welcome....  

Oh sure, I got my obligatory photos of  "Welcome To ....." as we entered each new state, but since most of the view looked like this, I won't even bother to post them here.  

We arrived at our daughter's house on Saturday....  they live about 60 miles south of Ft Worth....  1,221 miles from our farm in Ohio.  We had an uneventful trip...  a safe trip here....  the very best kind.

It is always good to see family again.  We've been fortunate in that we saw all 4 kids and both Bill's and my siblings since September...  and considering they live in NM, OH, NY, PA, and TX, I think we did okay.

We had mail awaiting us here at our daughters....  my latest Amazon order had arrived....
Yep!  Time to start thinking about our next great adventure!

That's All For Today!


Monday, November 18, 2013

What Is It About A Beech?

Bill & I will be starting our drive to Texas on Wednesday.  We still haven't anything settled about the rental that's kept us here in Ohio so long, so it looks like those decisions will be made "long distance"...  and apparently in their own time.

When we lived here we walked all over the 13 or so acres.  We tapped maple trees for sap and had well-trod paths through the woods.  Since we had a wood burning furnace and kitchen stove, Bill was always harvesting windfalls and cutting firewood.

I hadn't walked through the woods for several years and today decided to walk to the lower edge of the field and take some photos of the house/barn from that angle.

The path we walked, though it isn't used by humans, is still a path and I saw deer tracks everywhere.  Yesterday it rained the entire day, so I had to be really careful - the path may be there but it was muddy and there are fallen branches, brier bushes and all manner of vegetation that makes walking precarious at times.

As I started down to find the perfect spot to take a photo, I remembered an old beech tree close to the property line on that side.   It didn't take me too long to find it again....
American Beech - Fagus grandifolia
It doesn't look so grand these days, does it?

Even the crown has suffered over the years.
Granted, it's November and the leaves are almost all gone, but it looks like this old guy doesn't have a lot of time left. 

Beech trees are in the "Fagaceae" family, which is comprised of nearly 600 species...  which even include the quercus (oaks) and chestnuts, among others.  I don't know about these days, but in the past most country kids knew the beech because of its smooth whitish bark.

Yep!  A perfect place to declare ones love to the world...
 This tree is no exception....
Okay...  no hearts with arrows ...... no couple's initials....
But if you look closely you will see initials and other "graffiti" ....
 As it happens, I knew the family that lived here in the 1950's, and while I haven't figured out who "E" and "A" are....
I'm pretty sure who C. K. C. is.

I guess there's just something about nice, smooth bark that just begs to be written on....
I don't know if kids these days carry pocket knives...  or even if they play in the woods like kids used to...  so maybe the beeches out there today don't suffer from these permanent scars.

Not that there aren't other critters who make their mark...
At first I thought a Sapsucker had riddled this trunk....  but after a closer look think it was just another woodpecker as the holes aren't as geometrically aligned as the sapsucker makes.
Doesn't make any difference...  whoever left their mark was drilling for insects or larvae in a tree that was already dead or doomed.

Looking closer, you can see that the inside has rotted out....  
There may be some life left, but probably in the not so distant future, this grand old beech will be gone.  The folks who carved their initials may outlive this tree, but probably not by many years.

Oh yeah...  why did I walk down over the hill anyway?
To take a photo of the house we used to live in and are now renovating....
That greenhouse underneath the steps was the "nursery" to most of our vegetables and flowers.  
It's kind of odd to see it from this angle....  I was always on the deck looking out...  watched a grouse perched on a log drumming one spring....  saw newborn fawns nestled in the brush where their Mama's had left them for safekeeping....  watched a fox stalk a guinea one afternoon....  lots of great memories.  

I'm glad I walked down through the field and along the old path today.  I was happy to see that grand old oak again....  we'll be on the road again soon, and as much as I enjoy that life,  I will always love our life on the farm.

That's All For Today!


Saturday, November 16, 2013

Still At the Farm.....

The snow didn't last long...
 I put out plenty of food....  
The chipmunks would scurry around underneath the bird feeders, gathering up anything that got tossed over the side.

This House Finch seems to be the only one around...
Surely there must be others, but so far, I've seen only the one.
Lots of goldfinch, titmice, chickadees, nuthatch and others visit the feeders regularly.

The snow melted within a day in the sunny spots...
This spike buck found the mineral block...
It looks like he has a scrape on his left hip....  He's not big by Ohio standards and in no way would be considered a trophy buck...  but, truth is, he's the perfect size for good venison.  We don't permit hunting on our land, but I understand there is a fellow just up the road who is running a hunting camp.  Well, the deer need culled as there are way too many, so I guess whatever happens just happens.

It's been way too cold (20's at night...  30's during the day) to do much outdoors and our main reason for being here right now is to work on a rental.  Just across the driveway from our motorhome site is the house we're working on.  
This is the house Bill built for us over 20 years ago.
We had rough-cut oak floors.  After we moved out and the house became a rental, we wanted to put down "real" flooring.  Now, nearly 13 years later, we are here at the same time the house is vacant...  so.....  up comes the oak.  BIG, HEAVY boards!  Bill is meticulous about his work...  takes up each board, removes the old nails and carefully stacks the lumber.  It may be "used", but it's still useful.   We have a friend who lives in the area who will try to sell it.

And, speaking of selling stuff, we have always rented the place furnished.  Often folks bring their own furniture anyway...  sometimes even leaving their furniture when they vacate.  We really don't have time to try to sell things so called "New to You", a non-profit shop whose proceeds go to the Athens Co. Foster Children group.  They came out yesterday and picked up a truck-load of furniture, including those dressers you can see in the background of the picture above.

They could take only the wood furniture as they don't have the equipment to clean upholstered items.  They even gave us a receipt that we can use for tax purposes as a taxable donation.  

When we lived here we had a compost toilet and a huge outdoor furnace that preheated our hot water as well as heat our house.  We also had a wood burning cook stove...
This is it...  except that it has been nearly dismantled prior to being taken to our storage area.  I loved cooking on a woodburner...  baking bread and making soup were my favorite things.  There is a warming oven at the top of the stove that was just right to set a pan of bread dough to rise.  The water reservoir is already in storage.  Bill reminds me that I'll probably never use it again, but I'm just not ready to get rid of it yet.

It was actually replaced by a small gas range for the renters...  the old woodburner was just there as part of the furniture.  Since we are totally re-doing the whole place, the apartment size range went too...
Only to be replaced by...
 Not a good picture...  but here's the new gas range.
Yeah...  that's a vacuum sweeper at the front....  constantly sweeping up the debris from the old floor and all.

The above photo also shows the walls of windows and the outside deck.  If you were standing out on the deck you'd be 3 floors above the ground.  There is a fantastic view of the field and woods below.

We are running out of time...  hope to head for Texas early this coming week.  Since we're just getting a good start on all the renovations, we'll have to make some decisions about what to do next.  Oh well...  there's always something to make decisions about...  but for now...

That's All For Today!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

What A Difference A Day Makes....

Here is a photo I took of our place yesterday...
 Our Lazy Daze and Scion
Parked on our "site" on our farm near Athens, Ohio
Look at the contrast of the fall colors of the birch and the pine trees.  The leaves are almost gone from the birch...  looks like autumn is almost over.

This morning we woke to this.... 
I heard rain during the night, but the temps dropped.....  and the rain turned to snow.  I think it was around 6:30 am when I took this picture...  now the sun is shining and when the temps raise a little the snow will be gone.

 My swing...  nestled under the arbor of Trumpet Creeper
No bright red flowers now...  no hummingbirds either.  It will be nearly 6 months before they return.

Looking behind our rig....
The snow is beautiful, but we're not used to the cold.

So, what the heck are we still doing in Ohio in November?  Well, plans tend to get changed...  or maybe just rearranged....  but this seems to be our year to have rental problems.  We stayed in NM a few weeks longer than we intended because of our rental house there.  Arrived at our place here in Ohio only to find that one of our tenants was leaving.  Since it's the first time we've been here at the same time the place would be vacant, we decided to make some major renovations while we have the chance.

Blue Jay....  trying to decide if he wants to approach the bird feeder.

Yesterday was Veteran's Day, and for only a few days Lowe's offered 10% off of all purchases to veterans.  We were able to buy all the plywood, subfloor, and new flooring...  and saved enough money to buy a new kitchen range.  We don't know how much we can get done before we have to leave for Texas, but we do have some other options in mind.

In other blogs I've read about others who are "absentee landlords" and the problems they have, but I will say that for us, the rentals have been a good thing.  We retired at age 55 with no retirement kicking in for several years.  Our rentals have continued to make life on the road... or abroad... financially possible.  It's been well over 15 years since we retired, and while we never intended to be back in Ohio when the snow flies, it's really a small inconvenience in the total picture.

The big problem for us is that our flight to Costa Rica is December 15th...  and it flies out of Dallas/Ft Worth.  We both need prescriptions refilled before leaving the USA for 3 months.  Our doctor is in Texas...  just figuring out the logistics of getting everything done has been like fitting together a jigsaw puzzle.  Of course it will all work out okay...  we'll do what we can here, leave the rest to our rental manager and our very competent contractor, leave Ohio in time to see our doctor in Texas, and leave our motorhome at our daughter's place while we're in Costa Rica.  See...  I told you it would work!

So...  next week we hope to be heading to Texas...
Fly Away beautiful bluejay.....  

And start another adventure....

One last thing...  a couple of weeks ago I included a photo of a sweater I'd made for our great-granddaughter...
I got this photo of Evie yesterday in my e-mail....
She's a beautiful little girl...  and it looks like the sweater fit okay.

That's All For Today!


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Saturday Night Hoedown

Saturday night for me and Bill usually means a quiet evening at home, listening to Prairie Home Companion...  Bill doing genealogy research on the computer, me knitting, reading or on my computer.  Last night was  totally different.

I saw a flyer announcing a square dance in Stewart, Oh... which is only about a half hour drive from our farm.
What caught my eye was that music would be by The Dancehall Desperados.  I'd not heard of them, but...  just below that line was the names of the musicians.  On the far left it lists Glenn Jarvis.
In another life, my former husband and I had spent many a Saturday night in Columbus, listening to the music of the band Glenn played in.  He's an exceptionally talented fiddle player and plays everything from bluegrass to country to well... you name it.   Glenn was from Stewart, but worked in Columbus (even talented musicians have to have jobs).  We became friends with Glenn and his wife, Wanda.  In fact, we went to their wedding over 40 years ago.  Time passed...  things changed.  I'm thinking it was in the mid to late 70's since I'd seen them.  I'd often wondered how life was treating them and hoped someday we'd cross paths again.

When I saw the flyer I asked Bill if he'd want to go to a square dance.  He doesn't dance, and really, I don't either, but I had talked about Glenn and Wanda off and on over the years and told him I'd really like to see them again.  

So, this blog is kind of a double story...  the photos show what fun folks can have on a Saturday night.
Hoedown square dancing isn't as sophisticated as those fancy dancers doing precision dance steps and all dressed in coordinated dresses and shirts.  Nah...  you get out there and listen to the "caller".  He'll sing out the moves and if you don't understand or go the wrong way there'll be someone who'll help you out.

The women kind of outnumbered the guys here, so some of the couples were two women.  You could see the confusion on some faces when a woman would go to swing her corner and thought she had done wrong because "he" was a "she".  

You can see the band on stage with the square dance caller standing at the left with the microphone.  You can't see Glenn as he's directly behind the caller.  But that's my friend Wanda, in the red shirt, dancing with one of her grandsons. 
As you can tell, this all is pretty informal.  It started at 7pm and was over at 10 pm.  Three hours with only 1 short break for the musicians.

One really nice thing about these events...
They are family oriented.
Lots of kids...  even 2 year olds getting out there and trying their best.
It was especially nice to see a young father holding his daughter and doing the waltz.

Lots of laughter...
This couple were seated just below us (we had a great "ring side" seat) and they joked and kidded around all evening.

Here you can see Glenn on the fiddle (right)
Playing a waltz...  with the lights lowered and the atmosphere rather romantic..
This couple did a right nice job of dancing the waltz as it was intended.

One of the last square dances was kind of complicated....
It was fun for me and Bill to watch as folks figured out the moves.  You could see a bit of confusion in the beginning but by the end of the set, everyone had it down perfect.

I spent a lot of time talking with Wanda.  We caught up on our lives and our kids and all.  They are now retired and moved back to Stewart. She and Glenn just got back from a cruise last week.  It was a bluegrass themed cruise and Glenn spent his week on stage as part of the entertainment.  He's played with various groups all over the eastern US, and now it looks like he'll be travelling even more.


Wanda and Glenn Jarvis

We got home around 11pm or so...  late for us.  Bill attended his first square dance, and while we didn't dance even once, we both enjoyed every minute of it.
Not only did we hear good music and watch fun people, I loved seeing my old friends again after all these years.  I hope it won't be so long before we see them again.

That's All For Today!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Just Call Me Imeda

Baby Mama Sharon Needs a New Pair of Shoes

Bill's theory on life is if you get something new, you get rid of the old.  Also, he seems to think that you actually NEED something before you'd consider buying it.
Silly Man!

I will readily admit that I carry around way more pairs of shoes than I need.  I mean, I can wear only one pair at a time...  what's the big deal?  But I wear sandals, sneakers, work shoes, dress shoes, boots, slippers...  you get the picture.  Okay... so I have a few pairs of sandals... I wouldn't wear those strappy leather ones along the beach... I need those rubber Tevas.  My steel-toed boots come in handy at times.  And I'm not going to get my sneakers all wet filling the bird feeders in the early morning, but those Crocs sure are handy.

My trusty "everyday" shoes have been gradually wearing out.  The soles are so thin that I swear I can feel a grain of sand under my feet while walking.  The heels are worn down...  the uppers have come away from the soles allowing gallons of water to flow in when it's wet.
They have hundreds... probably thousands... of miles on them. 
My feet tell me it's time to replace them.

Off to Tractor Supply...  What?  You don't shop at a farm supply store for your shoes?  Hey...  they have good stuff!  The jeans aren't designer jeans...  neither are the shirts...  unless you call "John Deere" blazed across your chest stylish.
Yep!  I got me a new pair of shoes!
These puppies are everything I need...  they're even manure resistant.  ( I did NOT make that up...  it says so right on the hangtag).  Waterproof, durable and sturdy.  Great for geocaching, hiking, and I suppose even housecleaning or doing the dishes.  

I got high tops this time...  good for walking through brush...  or cactus.  Handy if snakes are around.
I started grade school in a little country school.  All the little girls wore high-top brown leather shoes.  Nobody thought anything about it...  but we moved to a "city" school when I was in 2nd grade.  My hightop shoes were definitely country bumpkin.  I swore way back then that I'd never wear brown high tops again in my life...  Well...  here I am...  back to brown high tops...  and I love them.

So, call me Imelda...  or call me whatever you like... I'm thinking that maybe those old worn out shoes might be good for something...  maybe I should hang on to them a while longer....

But meanwhile...
These Boots Were Made For Walking...
And I it's time to head outside and get the day started.

That's All For Today!



Sunday, November 3, 2013

Knit One, Purl Two....

My mother crocheted ....  all kinds of things... afghans, shawls, and I don't know what all.  When I was a little kid I learned to crochet an edging on handkerchiefs...  and I made them to give as gifts.  But I was never very interested in crocheting...  what I wanted to do was knit.  I didn't know anyone who knit and could teach me.

When my son was born in 1962, I was a stay-at-home Mom.  I decided to try again and if I remember correctly I bought a "how to" book at the local Woolworth's store.  I taught myself to knit and the first thing I made was a cardigan and shorts outfit for my son.  He was just a few months old, and somewhere I think there's a photo of him wearing those garments while sitting on a blanket....  he wasn't walking yet.

Probably because I had learned some about crocheting first, I hold the yarn in my left hand.  I've since learned that this is called the "Continental Style" of knitting.   Later, my former mother-in-law asked me to teach her to knit but was really unhappy to learn that I didn't "throw" the yarn over the needle with my right hand...  she decided to take classes that the local college had at night.

Slightly off track here...  my former father-in-law was a curious person... and he just had to learn to knit.  Wilma taught him and while he didn't really make anything, he had fun making on all kinds of stitches.  He and my former husband were construction workers...  back then they were all macho and proud of it.  One day Wilma put a pair of knitting needles with some project she'd started in Paul's lunchbox.  Not sure if he ever lived that down.

Back to my story...
I still have stacks of magazines I purchased back then...
This 1963 Vogue magazine cost all of 60 cents.
It contained patterns for over 50 knit projects...  mostly sweaters..
Some of the contents...
Look at the Jackie Kennedy influence in the lower right photo.
I look at the advertisements...  an entire kit containing yarn for a sweater AND wool cloth to make a skirt...  all for $8.98 (plus $1.50 for shipping and handling)...  you can barely buy a skein of yarn for that now.

Some of the styles in that 50 year old magazine are classic...
A Fisherman Knit sweater is as stylish today as it was back then.
In fact, I still wear the one I made nearly 45 years ago, and while it shows some wear, it's still as warm and cozy now as it was then.
Yep!  I still carry it around with me.

When my kids were little I knit garments for a yarn shop...  well-to-do ladies would commission me to make suits, sweaters, jackets... just anything....  in all kinds of styles and patterns.  I loved the challenge of using multi colors of yarn and intricate patterns.

I don't knit as much as I used to...  I kind of take spells and knit like crazy...  then go for long dry spells.  My daughter learned to crochet a couple of years ago and makes all kinds of items.  Not too long ago she learned to knit and really enjoys it.  I think making things for her granddaughter has really spurred her on.

Evie, my great-granddaughter, has revived my interest as well...
I just finished this sweater and cap a few days ago.  
(Yes, Donna...  it's in the mail... it should arrive sometime this week)

The hardest thing now for me is finding time to read, time for the computer stuff, time to enjoy the outdoors and still find time to knit. I recently ordered yarn to make a pair of socks... it's been years and years since I've knitted socks...  I'll let you know when/if I ever get them made.  

That's All For Today!