Sunday, October 14, 2018

Dropping More Pines

 This week has seen six more pines cut down. We're losing them at a prodigious rate. Is it the change in our climate or are they merely old? I planted all of them myself, beginning in 1987. One after another begins to show brown needles and soon they are standing there dead.

 Tom removed two a few days ago with a new electric chain saw he bought, Though dragging an extension cord can be inconvenient - and we can't reach everywhere - the saw is amazingly powerful and efficient. It's what we've needed for year. The gasoline-powered chain saws are often hard to start.

 Yesterday Bob stopped by and helped take down another four. So we lost six pines this  week.


 Here's Tom and Bob making the final cuts in one of the trees that was closest to Clayton Road. Tom cut two trees down there. Bob helped cut the trunks into manageable lengths and he took both stumps out. You can't even tell there were trees there.


 Then to the meadow where three trees were removed this week.


 That's one place I can't go when the weeds are high. My allergies cause me to break out as soon as a green leaf touches my skin. Then, too, I'm sneezing as soon as I step outside.


 Finally the guys removed a tree at the rear of the property. The largest dead pine wasn't even touched. It's a major project and one we'll probably wait for nature to begin taking it down for us. It's not near anything if it falls.

 The wait probably won't be long.





Mounted Rain Gauge

 It'll be 32 years since I moved here and one of the first projects I intended on doing was to mount my rain gauge in concrete. Instead, to buy time, I cheated. I sat it at the edge of the driveway and covered the "feet" of the tripod holder with concrete blocks. And there it was remained all these years.

 On the bright side, it's never blown over. But it sure looked like hell. The three legs had sunk into the gravel and keeping the whole affair level was a challenge.

 So about a week ago I drove over to the hardware store and bought a couple of bags of concrete. I dug a hole (about 9" deep), made a wooden "box" 15" square and carefully poured the concrete. I put plastic wall anchors into the wet concrete.


 Having a level surface for the rain gauge is very important. The readings have to be perfect.


 After several days drying time, I mounted the holder on the concrete pad.


 And then added the rain gauge. After more than three decades it's again properly mounted.





Monday, October 8, 2018

The Lazarus Lizards

 When I visited Tom in Cincinnati on Saturday (10/6/18) we took a number of walks and visited a mutual friend. It seems everywhere we went we saw what I thought were skinks. They were climbing on rock walls and out of concrete crevices. Here at Pinehaven I am most familiar with the young skinks that have red tails. I have understood that as they become adults the red tails fade and they become uniformly one color.

 It turns out that the Cincinnati creatures aren't skinks at all. They're called Lazarus Lizards.


There are various stories of how they came to inhabit Cincinnati because they are not native. The Cincinnati Enquirer printed an interesting story last summer about them and gave a number of stories explaining their origin. Most likely is this:

 A ten year old boy named George Rau collected "about ten" of them while on vacation in Northern, Italy, in either 1951 or 1952. The location was said to be near Lake Garda, about 80 miles east of Milan. They were released in the backyard of his family home on Torrence Court in East Walnut Hills.

 Cincinnati and that part of Italy have similar climates. In any case, the lizards took to their new home quite happily and have now multiplied into "estimated millions" according to the Enquirer.

  While several other origin stories exist, a University of Cincinnati biology master's student took genetic samples from both the lizards of northern Italy and those in Cincinnati and deemed them "family".

 Rau is the stepson of Fred Lazarus III who said he collected some of the lizards on a family trip to the Alps. Lazarus said he released them in his Cincinnati backyard in 1953 to eat mosquitoes.That's where the name came from.

Scientifically they are named Podarcis muralis maculiventris. Since 2005 the Cincinnati lizards have been "officially a subspecies of its ancestral Podarcis muralis".


 Close-up they look like tiny dinosaurs. They are not particularly skittish and will stay in one spot long enough to be  examined. Eventually they tire of the scrutiny and slither on. It seems Tom and I saw samples everywhere we went. They are also called "wall lizards" for their favorite habitat.


 The original article on the Lazarus lizard may be found by clicking here.







Thursday, October 4, 2018

Gatlinburg Trip

 Bob and Sam are on their annual hiking trip to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. They left (and arrived) yesterday, October 3. I'll post pictures with brief captions.

 Today's hike: Chimney Tops

 October 4, 2018:

Bridge crossing on the way to Chimney Tops 

Trail to Chimney Tops 

 Chimney Tops - Showing fire damage
Chimney Tops 

Bob and Sam hiked less than four miles today
Bob called it "very strenuous"

 October 5, 2018:


Trail at top of Mt. LeConte 

Cliff tops at Mt. LeConte 





 For more information on Mt. LeConte click here.

October 6, 2018:



Bridge across creek at Ramsey Cascades

Spider along path

Deer along the path

Old growth tulip trees along the hike 



 Bob said they hiked a 5 mile stretch today, from Greenbrier to Ramsey Cascades.
 On Sunday, October 7, Bob and Sam, returned home. "Yesterday we saw a barefoot hiker descending  from Mt. LeConte.  How do you hike barefoot?" Bob said.






Harvest

 I expected the corn harvest to begin at any moment. Last weekend while Tom and I worked in the yard we heard equipment threading through nearby fields. The corn north of the woods (nearest Hemple Road) was picked about a week ago.

 So yesterday morning, while I was reading a book on the sofa, I heard a harvester lumbering up Clayton Road, clanging as they are want to do, turn into the field just to my south. Of course I got up to look and saw the corn between me and Erisman's begin to quiver as the harvester began digesting its first row.


 It was about 10:45 am as D R Coffman began this annual chore of taking in the crop. Corn alternates with soybeans in a never-ending cycle.


 Turning corners with so large of a machine must be a challenge. Once the first rows are down the rest appears easy. There must be the same - or better - satisfaction in harvesting as there is in mowing a yard. Those straight rows appeal to my sense of order.


 Coffman worked all day. Except to take a load to the local market, I never heard him stop. He began with the south field and then moved to the field behind my house (west). Late in the day - about 7:30 pm - as the sun was setting, he still worked. Great clouds of dust rose into the sky on a stiff breeze. How odd is it in the first week of October to have a sunny 85° day with not a cloud in the sky?

 Later still, the combine is hidden by the high corn (it grew to well over six feet this year). It felt like I was living at the bottom of a box, surrounded as I was by high corn, and with its sudden removal, I could now see my nearest neighbor again. While I enjoy the privacy, there is some comfort in knowing others are near, even if that connection is no more than a nighttime light.


 The sun inches ever southward and now sets just to the right of Sam's house. Those large trees serve as a gauge to me, a living graph, and I might know the time of year by watching where the sun sets. The calendar is written there.


 It's getting too late to harvest now and the light sinks quickly. I don't know when the sound quit but I never heard the combine being driven from the field. Likely it is left there all night.

 The next day, though, dawns wet and a steady light rain is falling by 7:30 am. The harvest will not continue until the corn dries again.

 It's an interesting cycle, this planting and harvesting. The crop changes, the dates slide lazily back and forth ... but not by much. The crops grow with the summer sun and the clouds sweep the fields with occasional rain. It seems too perfect to be real.





Sunday, September 16, 2018

Pinball Exhibit at RRHF

 Tom and I traveled to Cleveland on September 13 to view the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame's ;pinball exhibit: Part of the Machine: Rock and Pinball.


 Lighting was a problem. The exhibit room was dark and the pinball machines were bright. That's a real photographer's nightmare. Also flash wasn't permitted. So I did the best I could, holding the camera as steady as my shaky hands would allow.


 Some tokens were provided free with membership so Tom and I both used our armbands to get a few. Others had to be purchased.




 Beatles!

Tom played many of the machines 





 A beautiful day in Cleveland!









Ringo - 9/11/18 at the Fraze

 Tom and I attended the Ringo concert at the Fraze Pavilion in Kettering on September 11.


 There was a great line-up and Ringo was terrific. The concert was spoiled by people standing ... non-stop. We were warned but Fraze needs to institute a NO STAND policy. They are careful to point out that lawn chairs and umbrellas and large bags were not permitted. Likewise standing ruins the experience for everyone behind them and it needs to be a hard and fast rule. That's not to say people can't get up to use the bathroom or to get something to eat. But no standing through the entire concert. Security should throw them out.

 Look through the included pictures and you'll see Ringo is barely visible. The videos give an even better idea of how our view was constantly blocked.

 Besides Ringo, performers included Colin Hay (Men at Work), Graham Gouldman (10cc), Steve Lukather (Toto), Gregg Rolie (Santana, Journey), Warren Ham (The Ham Brothers, Kansas, Toto), and Gregg Bissonette (ELO, Santana).

 The set list encompassed 24 songs. Notable Ringo songs were: Matchbox, It Don't Come Easy, What Goes On, Boys, Don't Pass Me By, Yellow Submarine, You're Sixteen, I Wanna Be Your Man, Photograph, Act Naturally and With a Little Help From My Friends).

 Hits by other band members included: Rosanna, I'm Not in Love, Black Magic Woman, The Things We Do For Love and Who Can It Be Now?

 Ringo's All Starr Band ended with a reprise of John Lennon's Give Peace a Chance.

 These photographs aren't great but they give a good idea of our poor viewing experience. Enjoy (as much as possible) ...











My armband: