Sunday, April 16, 2017

Tom the Tiller

 I've had enough back and hip problems this year that getting the garden ready for planting season produced a bit of worry for me. I've already worked about a third of the soil by hand, turning it over with a shovel and planting white onions, lettuce and radishes.

 But the large expanse left to till was a concern.

 Enter Bob who offered the use of his tiller. Enter Tom who offered to do the tilling.

 All the orange flags in the foreground indicate where I've already planted. Most of the garden has been untouched but for manure which Jarred applied early in the spring. The clods of straw had to be broken up and incorporated with the soil.

 Tom said he found the little tiller fun to use. It's a small machine, probably better suited for flower beds (as is the way Bob uses it) but Tom worked slowly and went over every inch of the garden twice, again at right angles to the first pass.

 The day was nearly perfect. We had a record high of 82°. The only problem was the wind, gusting between 25 and 32 miles per hour.

 I suppose the time needed to till the garden was well less than an hour. The soil was dry and crumbled easily. I bought six tomato stakes at Home Depot earlier in the day and I'll buy tomato plants in a couple of weeks. Mom wants a Brandywine. I want at least one Roma. Then the garden will be finished.

 Here's a close-up of Bob's tiller. It's a Craftsman 4-Cycle Mini Tiller. The thing used so little gas that I filled it from a small measuring cup.

 So the growing season begins anew at Pinehaven.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Stormy Weather

Life is bare, gloom and misery everywhere
Stormy weather

- "Stormy Weather" - Billie Holiday (1952)

 By mid-afternoon yesterday (04/05) the NWS had issued a Severe Thunderstorm Watch (till 9 pm). I watched radar as storms began to form in northern Kentucky and glide northeast. By 4:30 pm we could hear thunder approaching.

 The storms came mostly in two rounds: 4:45 pm and 6 pm. The first round dropped hail, mostly pea-sized with a few stones to half an inch. It was the lighter amount of hail, though.

 Our back porch was peppered with hail, mostly small stuff. It sure make a racket on the roof and the windows, though.

 Here's a close-up of the top of that chair. I got out a yardstick and measured a number of stones that were a full half inch across.

 After the latter storm, the ground was covered with hail. Our garden looked like it had snowed.

 While the rain was falling in a deluge, the hail floated atop the water on our back porch and seemed to move in waves.The ground seemed alive with movement.

 I watched as small hail gathered into drifts and move atop swells that must have been what one would see from a ship at sea during a storm. Over an inch of rain fell in about a thirty minute period.

 When the rain slowed I stepped outside and found this washed up against the base of our house.

 Here's a close-up of the hail outside our back door. Small sticks were knocked down by the wind. I'll have to clean them up in the days ahead. We lost one small limb from the south maple. A friend told me a tree fell on Fuls Road, taking out his power. Bob said trees were down on Puddenbag, too ... near his house in western German Twp.

 Wright Patterson Air Force Base issued a tornado watch for a while. I saw turbulence tear clouds apart but I never saw anything tornadic. Those were exciting storms, though.

 Care to see the raw video? OK, my hands shake (I have a benign essential tremor), the wind was blowing and lightning was striking nearby. Give me a break ...

 This video was facing WSW from my garden area.

And this video was facing nearly south.

 Yeah, that was close enough! Time to go inside!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017


 My first memory of Snickerdoodles was at my grandmother's house when I was a little boy. The recipe must have been new at that time and she was proud of how they turned out. Bob and I loved them. So when we ran out of cookies, I decided to try a batch.

 I remember watching Martha Stewart make them on her PBS program so I searched for that recipe. You can find it here.

 I almost always "speed up" recipes and this one is no exception. I melted a stick of butter in the microwave, then added the sugar and eggs. Once that was well mixed, I added every other ingredient except for the flour. That always comes last ... only after the liquid is thoroughly mixed.

 I dropped ice cream scoopfuls of batter into the mixture of sugar and cinnamon which I had placed in a small plastic container (bottom left). I just shook it around until the ball of dough was coated and then lifted them out with a teaspoon and placed them on the baking sheet.

 I baked nine at a time since they spread a bit and I didn't want them sticking together..

 I made much larger cookies than Martha's recipe calls for. She expected four dozen; I got just 25. I added a minute to the bake time (11 instead of 10) and found that just right.

 This is a nice, not-too-sweet cookie that brings back memories of my childhood in the 1950's.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Paul Laurence Dunbar House

"I know why the caged birds sings, ah me,
When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,-
When he beats his bars and he would be free;

- Paul Laurence Dunbar (Sympathy)

 Tom and I recently visited the Paul Laurence Dunbar house in Dayton. Being an English major, I can't imagine never having been there before, especially since I live a mere 13 miles away. I am always interested in writers; Tom, it turns out, is deeply interested in old houses.

Paul Laurence Dunbar house
219 N Paul Laurence Dunbar Street
Dayton OH 45402 

 The Dunbar house is an Ohio Historic Site
A rear view of the house shows two small "attic" windows

The Living Room 

A Sitting Room (I believe) 

The Dining Room 

The house has gas lighting (see above left).

The Kitchen 

Water pipes are affixed to the interior of the walls. I suppose the house was fitted for public water after it had been built.

Another view of the kitchen 

A water tank stored hot water.

The enclosed back porch area (facing house wall) 

Another view of the enclosed back porch; "outside" wall 

The Dunbar's second floor bathroom 

The wall paper is a reproduction of the original wallpaper, still visible in one of the cabinets.

PLD's actual toothbrush 

Dunbar's mother's bedroom 

PLD bought this house for his mother, Matilda. She continued to live in the house for 28 years after his death. His father, Joshua, died in 1885.

Another view of Dunbar's mother's bedroom 

A third view of Dunbar's mother's bedroom 

Paul Laurence Dunbar's bedroom 

Dunbar's bedroom is on the second floor, near the southeast corner. Dunbar lived here from 1904 until his death two years later.

Actual typewriter used by PLD 

PLD's chamber pot sits beside his bed 

Just outside PDL's bedroom are the steps between floors 

A small room at the front of the house (second floor) 

Memorial of Paul Laurence Dunbar's death on February 9, 1906

References (click):
Aviation Heritage
Dayton History
Ohio History

On the Aviation Trail

 To live as close as we do to various Wright Brother's historic sites, it's a wonder I haven't visited them all sometime in the past 67 years. Tom and I visited the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park on West Third Street last weekend and added several more.

It's all part of Aviation Trail, Inc.

 We visited three of the sixteen sites: the Wright-Dunbar Interpretive Center and Aviation Trail Visitor Center (Site 3, pictured above) and the Wright Cycle Company (Site 3 next door on Williams Street). The self-guided tour began in 1981. There are park personnel at both sites ready to provide information and brief talks. They also offer videos depicting the life of the Wright Brothers and Paul Laurence Dunbar.
 Site 2 is the Aviation Trail Parachute Center and is inside Site 1.

 In the past I've visited the Carillon Historic Park (Site  5), the Dayton-Wright Brothers Airport (Site 6), the National Museum of the United States Air Force (Site 8), Wright State University (Site 10) and the Armstrong Air and Space Museum in Wapakoneta (Site 14). For a list of all sixteen sites, click here.

 I'll make brief comments about a few of the photos ...

 A nice three-dimensional mural made with bricks on the outside of the Interpretive Center.

 Once the site of a west Dayton grocery store, it's been recreated here. It's actually very close to the old photos which are posted there.

 Looking out onto West Third from the recreated grocery.

 The grocery displays an old National Cash Register. My uncle (Charles Boyer) and my maternal grandfather (John Paulsen) worked for them for many years.

 My grandmother (Kate Paulsen) worked at a Wright Brothers airplane manufacturing site in Moraine. I have a sample of the wing fabric.

 From the Interpretive Center, the Wright's Bike Shop is visible on Williams Street.

Tom admires one of the displays 

 The Wright's printed material for Paul Laurence Dunbar.

 Now, to the bike shop ...

 Here's the work area where the Wright's constructed bicycles.

 And a close-up of some of their tools.

 This park ranger gave a talk on how the bike shop operated and how the idea for a flying machine materialized on this spot.

 Looking through a bike shop window along Williams Street to West Third Street.

 Exterior view of the The Wright Cycle Shop.