Along the Natchez Trace

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Saturday at the Farmer's Market...

I've written before that Bill & I sold goat cheese and produce at the local Farmer's Market for 18 years.  During that time we saw many changes, but the Athens, Ohio Farmer's Market is still one of the best in the United States and is often written up in national periodicals.  It's been used as a prototype for many other markets  in other areas because of its success.
When we're in Athens we always head to the market on Saturday morning.  Bill stayed in Maine this trip so, Bill...  this blog's for you...  some old friends and familiar places.

Here's the market today...  bustling from 9am until nearly 1pm.

Bill was president of the market when we decided to go RVing nearly 14 years ago...  many of the vendors still sell at the market...
This is Rich...  he sells pork, rabbits (domestic) and eggs.  We always buy his bratwurst when we're in town.  I had to pass this time as I'll be flying back to Maine on Tuesday...  but since Bill wasn't with me, I had to stop by and harass Rich a few minutes.

Another of our favorite vendors is Tom...  he makes and sells Tex/Mex Salsa.  It sells for $5.00 a jar, or 5 jars for $20.....  mix and match.  We always pick up several jars to take on the road.  Delicious!

Long-time friend and the supplier of Bill's favorite "melrose" apple, this is John.  

Rich Tomsu specializes in a multitude of varieties of lettuces, spinach and garlics.  He and his wife, Ann Fugate have been with the market for many, many years.

This is Margie Shew.  She and Pete raise sheep and sell the meat, as well as the wool.  They also sell jams, jellies, honey and other products.  Pete does the Wednesday market so he isn't there on Saturdays.

Our friend, Roger Graves, sells vegetables.  In early spring he sells bedding plants for your garden.  Those look like cantaloupe in the background.  Since we're in Maine for the summer, we've adapted to the fruits and vegetables available there....  so it was a treat to see the large varieties.

Ed Perkins and his wife, Amy Abercrombie sell fruits, herbs and vegetables grown on their Sassafras Farm.  Another fixture at the market, you'll find them there every Saturday.

Okay...  Eric isn't a vendor...  but another long-time friend.  He and his wife, Saffron travel the world... often South or Central America, but usually India...  buying things to sell on college campuses in the USA.  It was neat running into Eric because he's often off in another part of the world.

I have no idea who this guy is...  his booth sells compost by the bucket.  But I had to take this photo for my blogging friend Judy Bell.  Can you read his tee-shirt?  Says...  "Cool Beans"...  with lots of cool beans having a good time.  Anyone who reads Judy's blog knows Cool Beans.

So...  my hour or so at the market was so much fun...  catching up with old friends and old times....  cool beans!

That's All For Today!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Back In Athens....

Bill took me to the airport in Presque Isle, Maine, around 9:00 Wednesday.  I had a 2 hour wait until my flight and most of the passengers didn't arrive until nearly 10:30am.  Guess that being a small airport it isn't necessary to arrive so early.

One thing...  this was the only airport where I had to go through security...  you know...  shoes off etc.  I checked one bag because I had to change planes in Boston and again in Newark before my final destination in Columbus, Ohio.  My bag would have been okay as a carry-on but I was uneasy about trundling it through those large airports.  I had stashed my laptop in the middle of the bag with plenty of cushioning around it.  But when Security went through my bag, they had me remove the laptop's battery and carry it with me in my carry-on bag.  After reading Judy Bell's blog today, I just might think about a smaller device...  sure would save space!

The first leg of the journey was on a prop-plane.  Not sure how many it seated but there was one seat on one side and two seats across the aisle....  maybe 20 rows or so in all.  You walked out on the tarmac to board the plane...  and again, when arriving in Boston, out on to the tarmac to enter the terminal.  But the United Airlines gate wasn't hard to find and wasn't really a long hike getting there.

The view out my window - somewhere in Maine...  after take-off.

I had nearly an hour between flights, which for me, was just about right.

Landing at Newark an hour or so later, I had to take a shuttle to another terminal to board the plane to Columbus.  Bill is usually with me...  doing all the navigating....    but I got to the next terminal with time to spare.   

View of New York City from my window....

The plane was completely booked...  and we all boarded....
And we waited...  
Apparently there were thunderstorms in Pennsylvania and we were to be rerouted.
We waited...  and waited...  and waited....

Finally, an hour after our scheduled take-off, we finally got in the air.

I expected a lot of turbulence, but it wasn't a bad flight at all.  
Except for arriving an hour late at the airport, all was well.
My brother was waiting for me, and we headed to the baggage claim area together.

The first group of luggage started around on the conveyor....   nearly all of it got claimed immediately.  About 20 of us were still waiting...  The second round of luggage started on the conveyor next to us.  Nearly all of that got claimed.  My brother and I were the only ones left in the baggage claim area.  So, off to the little office next door.

Hmmm...  seems my luggage went to Washington...  (DC?  State of?)....  a second check...  nope, it will be in on a later flight.  It's already a couple of hours past the time it should have arrived.  Guess we might as well head the 80 or so miles down the road and have them deliver it tomorrow.

I had planned to stay at my son's house, but since it would be so late when we arrived in Athens, I called him to let him know what was going on and stayed with my brother.   We arrived back at his house around 11pm.

So...  that's how Wednesday went.  Oh yes...  when Bill took me to the airport, we'd stopped at Subway and got a footlong...  I was going to take half and Bill take half.  Just before he left me at the airport, he suggested I take both halves.  I did and was happy to have them....  one in Boston and one in Newark.  Don't I have a generous husband?

Along comes Thursday...  I didn't pack much in my small bag..  just meds, reading material etc...  so was very happy when my bag finally arrived around 1pm yesterday afternoon.  My brother has loaned me his extra car...  I've caught up with my sister...  just on the phone so far as she is ill...  enjoyed some time with my niece and my brother...  and am now at my son's house.

Last night we indulged in Avalanche Pizza....  a local pizza place that has the BEST pizzas ever!

This evening is the first of the weekend get-togethers of my high school class reunion.  

I know a lot of folks never go back, but since ours are only every 5 years, I think they are kinda fun.

I'll let y'all know more later....

That's All For Today!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

My First Born....

Today, July 20th, is my son's 52nd birthday.  He's a "Wednesday's Child".....  do you know that old rhyme?  Well, Wednesday's child is full of woe....

I've always felt kinda bad about that...  he was due July 17th ,a Monday...  Monday's child is "fair of face".   So while he was supposed to have that attribute, he was indeed a beautiful baby and to this day is a beautiful person.  I am so happy he is my son and that smile he had at 4 months old is still as lovely as it was all those years ago.

Our kids (including my step-daughters) live all over the USA... including the grandchildren, they live in California, Texas, Arizona, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New York (have I missed anyone?)....  but recently my daughter who lives in New York visited Ohio and stayed with her brother.

Danny and Donna
Donna is just 15 months younger than her big brother.  But after (her first degree) in college she married and her husband was military...  so the next 20 years were spent in various countries as well as the USA.  But this photo was taken just a couple of weeks ago...  in Ohio...  and they had the chance to get together.  I just wish I had been there....

As it happens, my 55th high school reunion is next weekend.  I figured out the logistics...  and decided just to splurge and fly out of Presque Isle, Maine...  down to Boston...  on to JFK in New York, and on to Columbus, Ohio.  My brother will pick me up at that airport and cart me on down to SE Ohio where I'll stay a few days with my son, visit with my brother and sister (and, of course my son)...  and catch up with whoever of the 100 classmates graduating class of 1959 haven't passed on or who have chosen to attend our 55 reunion.....  

So, Danny, I won't see you on your 52nd birthday, but...  Mom being Mom....  I WILL appear on your doorstep very soon.  

Bill is staying here in Maine.  He has spoiled me so much in our years together that even getting through those huge airports is kind of intimidating to me these days.  But... I am SO looking forward to those few days with my son and my family that it will be okay.....  I'll manage.

See you soon, my loved ones...  see you soon.

That's All For Today!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

An Elegant Evening...

Ft Fairfield, a small town 20 miles or so south of us is celebrating their Potato Blossom Festival this week.  We picked up a brochure listing all the events... parade, live music, exhibits, etc.  Tucked away on the list, which was several pages long was this.... "Canterbury Royale's Lobster and Clam Bake.  Offered 12th, 13th, 18th, 19th and 20th.  Reservations required for this succulent meal.  One seating per night, 6pm."   Oh My!  This sounds like something Bill & I would love.  No phone number was listed, so I called the Ft Fairfield Chamber of Commerce for more info.  Then a phone call to the Canterbury Royale was next.  We made our reservations for Sunday, July 13th and got directions for how to get there.

We worked the Visitor Center on Sunday, but were out of there by 4pm.  Came home and "dressed".  Jeans and boots are pretty much the order of the day here on the refuge.  While not formal by any means, we "cleaned up good" and I even wore my pearls.  Our reservations were for 6pm so around 5:15, off we went.

The cuisine is 4 star French (not sure what that means, but I'm assuming that based on restaurant rating levels it means darned good food.)  The restaurant is just a few hundred feet from the Canadian border...  nestled in among a stand of spruce trees a short distance off a dead-end road.  It is straight out of a fairy-tale...  you can just imagine Hanzel and Gretal wandering down the lane leading to the front door.

We were a few minutes early and the first to arrive for the 6pm seating.  I had a chance to check out the main dining room....
The table was set, candles lit - all ready for the guests to arrive.

The sideboard held candles, knick-knacks, flowers and other artwork.  But we wouldn't be dining in the main dining room.

Bill & I were seated in a private dining room just off the side of the main room.  More artwork, flowers, candles and such.  All quite lovely and creating a beautiful, peaceful setting.

We had reservations for the Lobster/Clam bake... 
When it arrived, I was astounded at the size of the plate and the serving of food.  
This is a very small place...  the two owners are the chefs, the waiters and I'm sure the dishwashers.  They wore French chef attire, including the hats and aprons.   
I was addressed as "Madame".

The chef apologized that there was no corn which is traditionally served in a clam bake...  the broccoli was a substitute.
Believe me, we didn't mind a bit!
The loaf of bread was wonderfully crusty on the outside and soft and yeasty inside.  But... Oh! the lobster, shrimp, clams...  and even the sausage...   so delicious!

We decided to order a beer instead of wine...  the bottle of beer was around 25 ounces...  Duvel...  an import they have sent in from Boston.  One I'd like to try again sometime.

After eating ...  maybe I should say "dining"....  for nearly an hour (and taking home enough for another meal), desert was served...
 This tart-like creation was filled with a fruit, then topped with a coffee ice cream.

That bowl is filled with lobster and clam shells....  the bill (also quite elegant in its presentation) is at the lower left...  no cash register tape but a lovely print-out.

We had such a nice evening.  The food was fantastic, but the ambiance, the elegance of it all was just a delight.
Not something we do often, but...  oh...  such a treat! 
The End!

That's All For Today! 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

We've Been Invaded!

The wildflowers are blooming in profusion here....
Daisys, Brown-eyed Susans, Fireweed, St John'sWort, Bedstraw and on and on and on....They are beautiful and add so much to the fields where the Upland Sandpiper nests.

But along with the native plants, there are other plants that would love to take over...
One that has gotten a toe-hold here is the Spotted Knapweed.  
It's not in flower yet... It's the tall, whitish-green plants you're seeing in among the Birdsfoot Trefoil (yellow).
Following is an article from Wikapedia:

Centaurea maculosa, the spotted knapweed, is a species of Centaurea native to eastern Europe.
It has been introduced to North America,[1] where it is considered an invasive plant species in much of the western United States and Canada.[2] In 2000, C. maculosa occupied more than 7 million acres (28,000 km2) in the US.[2]
Knapweed is a pioneer species found in recently disturbed sites or openings. Once it has been established at a disturbed site, it continues to spread into the surrounding habitat. This species outcompetes natives through at least three methods:
  1. A tap root that sucks up water faster than the root systems of its neighbors,
  2. Quick spread through high seed production, and
  3. Low palatability, meaning it is less likely to be chosen as food by herbivores. It is also suspected to be allelopathic, releasing a toxinfrom its roots that stunts the growth of nearby plants of other species.
Its seed is an achene about a quarter of an inch long with a small bristly pappus at the tip which makes the wind its primary means ofdispersal. The leaves are a pale grayish-green. They are covered in fine short hairs. First year plants produce a basal rosette, alternate, up to 6 inches (150 mm) long, deeply divided into lobes.[3] It produces a stem in its second year of growth. Stem leaves less lobed progressively getting smaller toward the top. The stem is erect or ascending, slender, hairy and branching, and can grow up to three feet tall. Because cattle prefer the native bunchgrass over Knapweed, overgrazing occurs, increasing the density and range of knapweed infestations.[4] Human disturbance is also a major cause of infestations. Knapweed readily establishes itself and quickly expands in all growth forms in places of human disturbance such as industrial sites,[5] along roadsides,and along sandy riverbanks, and also has the potential to spread into undisturbed natural areas.[3]

When we were volunteering here 2 years ago  an effort was made to pull plants up.  Some youth workers from Moosehorn came up for a day...  I think they got several bags full then.  I know Bill & I both spent time pulling, and where appropriate, spraying weed-killer.
It hasn't flowered yet, and so far there are no seed heads to spread.  We try to pull the root system as well.  We use those huge contractor garbage bags to stuff it in...  the plants are either burned (away from the refuge) or left in the bags and go to a landfill.  

It takes a couple of hours to totally fill one of those bags...  but that's about all the longer I can walk around pulling the knapweed before needing a break.  
Since we were here last, we found 2 other areas where the knapweed is now growing.  I suppose it can be spread by birds, by the wind...  or even by vehicles moving through the area.

It would be great if we could eradicate this invasive species - the native plants do not need this competition for their water or nutrients.

But then...
We have a couple of small patches of Crown Vetch...  another invasive species.
We're working on that as well!

Thank goodness we don't have any Purple Loosestrife (that we know of) here on the refuge.  Another pretty plant that just takes over!

That's All For Today!

Friday, July 11, 2014

A Week's Worth of Blog...

Between the bad weather and the internet being too slow to make much progress I just haven't kept up on my blog lately.  I'm a week behind...  so today I hope to get caught up...  mostly with photos...

 Where I'm from in Ohio the goal is to have a ripe tomato by the 4th of July...
Can you find the only tomato on my lovely tomato plant?  Well, it may not be ripe (maybe by Labor Day?), but at least my the 4th it had a tomato on it.

 We saw this in the Wal-Mart parking lot last week.  Early RVing?

We got the side affects of Hurricane Arthur.  Lots of trees down across the trails.  We spent last Sunday morning just clearing the main hiking trail for public use.

July means there will be lots of reunions up here at the old Air Force Base as well as a lot of hometown reunions.....  High Schools etc
Here's Bill giving a tour to a group...  it was raining so hard he had to drive from the old Mine Shop to a Bunker and the such...  just to get the group out of the rain.

I saw the big Bull Moose a few times this week.  His rack is quite impressive!

 And...  I finally got a shot of the American Bittern doing it's "You Can't See Me" pose.

 Lots and lots of rain this past weekend...  so what could be more appropriate?
A gorgeous rainbow!  And...   a double one at that! 

The Fireweed is starting to bloom.  To me this means the end of summer and autumn is on it's way.  I see goldenrod starting to bloom as well.  It's not quite mid-July, but the summer is short up here.

I guess the robins don't know that summer's almost over.  This nest is nestled in the crotch of a bench out on the Visitor Center patio.  I started to pull it out and then discovered it had 4 babies.  I quickly put it back...  and it didn't take long for Mama Robin to hurry back to check on the young'uns.

I have some painting to do and it's already 7:15 am.  It was foggy this morning and I wanted some sunshine before I dragged out the paint can and brush.  But...  it's time to get busy.

Hopefully I keep more up to date now.  It's so discouraging to have such slow internet service, but my blog is kind of my journal and it's something I need to do.

Off to the painting!

That's All For Today!

Friday, July 4, 2014

A Typical Day....

Yesterday was a typical day for me....  much of what I do is fairly routine and I do the some of the same jobs every week.  Mowing and trail maintenance is my main "duty" this summer and as I've written in the past, it's what I dearly love to do.  

What day I mow is dependent on the weather...  yesterday I wanted to do some trail maintenance...  lopping and pruning...  before mowing but I wondered if I'd get out on the trails at all....
The sky at 4:45 AM
Lots of fog...  the sun is barely able to break through...
But it turned out to be a beautiful day, just a lot of mosquitoes and deer flies.

On my way to Chapman Lake, where the trails need the most work, I saw this cow moose having breakfast just beyond one of the beaver ponds...
She checked me out, but kept right on with her meal...
That cone-shaped thing in the upper left is a predator guard that's attached to the post of a wood duck nesting box.  As it happened, this year a family of hooded merganzers claimed occupancy.

My means of transportation is a John Deere "Gator".  A six wheel, 4 wheel drive off-road vehicle that has a small dump-bed.  I can carry my loppers, bow saw, pruners and about anything else I might need.  It's also handy to stash any litter I find on the trails.

I arrived at my first trail before 6:30 am.  Within minutes I was soaked to the skin.  We'd had some rain during the night and all the foliage was heavy with dew or rain.  The good part of this was that it really emphasized what needed cut back.... whether it be alongside the trail or overhead.  My loppers are about 3' long, so I can stand in the bed of the Gator and reach pretty high, cutting off any branches I think are too low.

It's pretty slow work...  especially the way I do it...
Look!  The elderberries are getting ripe!  Not the purple elderberries that I'm familiar with in Ohio, but a bright red species.  I'm sure the bears and the birds and probably raccoons and a few other critters love these.

Dainty little "Pyrola"
Kind of looks like a pink Lily of the Valley.  I came across several patches along the trails.

 And look at the contrast of colors between the Orange Hawkweed and the green spruce!
There's lots of wildflowers in bloom now and the orange and yellow hawkweed are just a couple.  I love seeing the flowers all growing together...  a profusion of color!

When the trails run through the woods I don't have a lot of pruning to do...  mostly it's just cleaning up branches or other debris that gets blown or drops onto the path.  But I always have to check out what's around.  Sometimes I come across a "kitchen midden"...  that's where a critter (often a squirrel) has hung out and had their meals, dropping the shells, hulls or other leftovers on the ground.  Here I see lichen, moss, a shelf fungi, and other woodland things.

One trail leads past a pond where I've been seeing this American Bittern...
I hope to get him in his "high alert" pose...  looks like another stalk of cattail or something.  
They are kind of reclusive, so I'm happy to get whatever I can.

I really do manage to get some work done while I'm out on the trails...
A "Before and After" shot...
Not exactly showing my work at its best, but the trail is now wide enough that it's "two passes wide" with the mower.  These are all walking/hiking trails...  no motorized vehicles permitted.   I worked over 4 hours before heading back to the main part of the refuge.

This big guy was in the path ahead of me...
He ran off into the woods...  
Looking at the photo when I got home, I had to laugh when I saw the daisies....  I don't think I could ever take a photo like this on purpose!

Back on my home turf, I stopped by to see how Bill was coming along on the new road...
Moving right along.....
I'll be doing a blog soon about that road...  it always amazes me how Bill and the others maneuver those huge pieces of equipment around.  

With my 5 hour morning work done, I still had 5 hours of afternoon work ahead of me.  We have Spotted Knapweed, an invasive species here and I spent a couple of hours or so locating it...  spraying or pulling it up.  

The day goes by fast.  At the end of the day I usually feel like I've accomplished something, but even better...  I've had fun doing it.

That's All For Today!