Sunday, April 29, 2018

Ceramic Archeology

 We leave such telltale clues to our whereabouts with our cast-offs. I often will dig a hole to plant a tree or simply till the garden or a flower bed and turn up bits of old glass, pieces of porcelain, even shards of ceramics with decorations still intact.

 Last week Tom and I were digging a hole to plant a dogwood when he pulled this chunk of dinnerware out of the ground:

 This was without any decoration. It was a thick, white piece of ceramic. The edge is smooth so it's likely a shard of a bowl or perhaps a heavy plate. These things always raise the same questions: how did it get here? who used it? when was it last seen?

 Tom stood and fingered this and asked those same questions. Pinehaven (the house) has been inhabited since the late  nineteenth century. That's when William and Susanna Sholly built the house. But the first owner of the property goes back to 1841 when Samuel and William Fisher bought the land. Which one of these owned this bowl?

 Tom wondered if this was where a dump was located. In those days things were discarded on the property. There was no handling of trash but for what efforts the property owner undertook. A broken bowl would have been thrown to the ground.

 But why so deep? Why was this found nearly a foot and a half down? And why beside Clayton Road? That would have been too visible a location for discarded trash.

 Same reasoning, too, for the outhouse. Surely it wouldn't have been located so near the road. Otherwise an outhouse was a common place to discard broken objects.

 We'll never know, of course. But an old piece of Pinehaven popped up again in 2018 and the answers, though buried in time, don't stop these questions being asked.

Two More ...

 Tom arrived Wednesday (04/25) with two more trees: a beautiful salmon-colored dogwood and a silver maple, not yet beginning to open its leaves.

 We managed to get both trees in the ground on April 26. Here's Tom opening the wrapper on the silver maple.

 The dogwood, a "Cherokee Brave", was grown by Gardens Alive Farms in Smithville, Tennessee. Tom purchased it from Lowe's in a 3.5 gallon container. I've always loved this color, far more than the common white.

 The silver maple (Acer Saccharinum) was bagged and the roots enclosed in a cheesecloth sack.

 We planted the dogwood near the northern end of our property, next to Clayton Road. The tree won't exceed twenty feet in height so I don't expect it will ever bother the overhead power lines. The next day we tilled the area and will plant a flower bed there in the weeks ahead.

 The tree is already in full bloom.

 Tom planted the silver maple just north of the wood pile. It's in line with the kitchen window and will be a different look in the meadow with its green leaves with their silver backs.This tree can grow up to 60 feet tall by 40 feet wide. It'll have room to spread out in the chosen location.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Tree Time

 Tom and I have been talking about planting a few new trees at Pinehaven, mostly as memorials to both of our parents. On Friday (04/06) we drove to Chaney's Nursery in Troy, Ohio and picked up a Northern Pin Oak; on Saturday (04/07) we returned for a Bald Cypress.

 This is one the most-organized nurseries I have ever seen. We actually spotted it when we were driving to Deshler, Ohio, passing by on nearby I-75. I sent an email to them and Sharon replied within a day. Yes, they had Northern Pin Oaks and they were part of a pre-season sale.

 Here's Tom checking out on Saturday after buying the cypress.

 Here's Tom posing with the two trees. The Northern Pin Oak is on the right and the Bald Cypress is on the left. Tom selected each tree. Getting them home in the back of a Toyota Prius was a bit of a challenge, though. The container was placed in a plastic bag, the back seat of the car was laid down, and even so the tree barely fit in the length allotted. I came home in the passenger seat and held on.

 This is the Bald Cypress, the second tree we planted on April 12. It was a beautifully sunny day with a high temperature into the upper 70's but the winds peaked near 40 mph as we worked. This tree will serve as a memorial to Tom's family.

 We planted the Northern Pin Oak first and placed it at the front of our south lawn. We dug a hole about six inches larger than the root ball and deep enough to add a combination of soil and peat moss to the bottom of the hole. In this spot we unearthed an old terra cotta drain tile while seemed to connect to nothing on its northeast end (it disappeared to the southwest and we have no idea where it went). We couldn't remove it so the tree is planted atop it. This tree will serve as a memorial to my family.

 For my own information, this tree was tagged as being grown  by "JFS - Boring OR 97009". the tag is dated 2016. In a bit of serendipity, the wholesale grower of these trees was J Frank Schmidt. Could we have asked for better kismet? A link to the grower is here.

 The Pin Oak (Quercus palustris) is considered a 5' tree in a #5 container (3.75 gallon).

 On Thursday 04/12 Tom drove back to Chaney's a third time and bought a Red Oak (Quercus rubra). We planted it in the meadow.

 It may grow 50' high and spread 45'. I'll love the deep red colors of fall.

Follow up: The bald cypress never leafed out but for one single lower branch. Chaney's Nursery replaced it at no charge. Tom picked out another and we planted it on May 18, 2018.


 Many months ago Tom brought an amaryllis bulb here to see if we might get it to bloom. It was been a study in perseverance. First, here's the final success ...


 It almost wasn't meant to be. Back in March I walked onto our enclosed porch and saw that the bulb had unexpectedly - and even suddenly - shot up a bud.


 In early April I was hurrying down the basement stairs to check the sump pump. The power was out and water was pouring through the basement walls. I must have brushed against the plant and broken the bloom stalk off. I was sick. I cut the stalk cleanly with a knife and brought the bloom in and placed it in a glass of water.


 The next day I noticed that the bottom of the stalk had divided into four "curls" - almost like ribbon candy - and the stalk was shortening.



 Shorter and shorter the stalk "grew". I was told by a friend that I would need to cut the stalk diagonally instead of straight across. That worked. Instead of getting shorter every day, the bud began to develop.


 And a month after the mishap the bud began to open ...


 The lock has just about been sprung ...


 And now, almost fully open, the flower has the look of a candy cane ... pinks and red striations against an ivory background. That was one of Tom's goals, to see what color would surprise us.
 On April 15 there are three flowers open. One smaller bud seems not to be maturing and will probably dry up. But for all the damage I probably caused, this flower has made a noble effort to bloom. Perseverance is Mother Nature's middle name and I have her lesson sitting on my kitchen windowsill.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Clara Buhler

 Over the past few years, Tom and I have had the pleasure of visiting his step-mother, Clara Buhler at the Oak Grove Health Care Center in Deshler, Ohio. She had her 101st birthday this past November. Clara died on March 27 so Tom and I made the second trip in five days for her funeral (we visited on March 25).

 Here's two pictures I took on recent visits:

October 9, 2105 

November 19, 2016

I am thankful that I got to meet her. Likewise I'm happy that Tom was able to meet my own mother.

 Flowers sent by John and Tina Buhler
Woodlawn Cemetery - Deshler, Ohio
Just preceding Interment 

Clara's casket following the ceremony 

Bill (l) and Tom at the reception following the funeral

 I have to make mention of the excellent eulogy delivered by Rev. Ruth Carter-Crist. She researched Clara's life story with family members and made a presentation that was very personal, hardly the boiler-plate services we often endure.


 Late yesterday - April Fool's Day - snow began to move into the Miami Valley, Where we've had pleasant spring weather on many days in the past month, we're back to winter this morning.

 The average temperature for today is 46° and we'll be lucky to reach that for a high temperature. And yet snow in April isn't unusual. When the Xenia tornado ripped through the valley on April 4, 1974, it was followed by snow.

 Last night as I went to bed the clouds had already rolled in. All was quiet and eerily dark. The radar lit up with snow just off to our west. It came, it snowed but the morning began with clear, blue skies. The ground was covered by an inch of snow.

 As I fixed breakfast I looked through the back door and saw the moon setting through the snow-covered branches of a maple. This is just past the Blue Moon two days ago.

 A closer maple had its branches festooned with feathery snow. As we're supposed to climb into the  40's today, this will likely all be gone by early afternoon.

 Sunrise was at 7:19 am and it rose through retreating clouds. This row of trees is just west of Venus Road.

 I took a letter out to be mailed and had a pretty view of Pinehaven with the new snow. Schools are not closed (for a change). The roads, driveways, porches and other hard surfaces have no snow on them at all. The ground was too warm (yesterday's high was 49°).

 The maple at the southwest corner of the house held half an inch of snow on it's budding branches. I'm sure it is an unaccustomed and unpleasant weight.

 Our wisteria, too, was coated in a thick layer of snow. The snow came from the north. The south side of many trees and patches of ground beneath them was wholly clear. By the way, I'm counting on this wisteria to bloom this year. It was planted many years ago and has never bloomed once. I wish Mom had lived to see it but I will enjoy it for her.

 Looking northwest from the garage apron, winter is again the season of the day.

 Turning around and looking east along the driveway, the sunny, clear skies forecast that this snow will be soon cleaned up by Nature herself. It was only a cruel mistake.

 The bird feeders are again a popular spot. Even the red-bellied woodpecker is back for breakfast.

 Here's a final view out the window at the top of the stairs. As cold and wintry as it appears, there is no wind and it's almost a pleasant morning, I'll be mowing within a week, I'll wager.