Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Cinnamon Rolls

 I've been baking both of the past two days. Yesterday I baked a batch of applesauce-cranberry cupcakes. Tom and I are accompanying a 91 year old woman to lunch on Friday and I like having something homemade to give to her. Also I gave Bob some. Tom and I will finish the last.

 But today I planned to make cinnamon rolls. I happened to see an advertisement in a magazine for Fleischmann's Beginners Cinnamon Rolls. The recipe looked fairly easy so I gathered together the ingredients and got started early this morning.

 I've always enjoyed working with dough. I enjoy kneading dough more than any other kitchen activity. I've made plenty of bread through the years and a number of wonderful rolls. But I've never made regular cinnamon rolls.

 The one I tested was an end piece of the roll and deficient in the cinnamon/sugar mix that fills them. But this roll gave me a perfect taste of the dough. It was sweet, fluffy and a piece of heaven.

 The ball of dough turned out to be quite large. The recipe calls for "4-1/2 to 5 cups of flour". I used 4-1/2. I kneaded the dough for 8 - 10 minutes.

 I rolled the dough out into a 15 x 10" rectangle. Well, approximately. I've never been able to get dough into a very accurate rectangle shape. Good enough.

 When you spread on the melted butted and then add the cinnamon/sugar mix, you know you're on track to something great.

 Rolling the dough up, you end up with what roughly looks like a giant burrito.

 Cutting the roll into a dozen equal pieces is a challenge. I have a tremor and can't handle the cut pieces very well. On the positive side, that doesn't affect the taste. And the result is cinnamon rolls that are certainly homemade. It's pretty obvious these didn't come out of a machine.

 After an hour's rise, the rolls popped right up out of the pan, almost like mushrooms. Because they extended over the edge, I placed a cookie sheet beneath the pan to catch dripping cinnamon while they baked.

 And here's the pan out of the oven.

 After the icing is added, they become true cinnamon rolls. Delicious!

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Ricky Skaggs - Miamisburg Bicentennial

 On Wednesday (May 20, 2018) Tom and I attended the Ricky Skaggs concert which was a highlight of the Miamisburg Bicentennial celebration. I remember attending the Sesquicentennial in 1968 where I got to shake Governor Jim Rhodes hand at Library Park.

 We parked at my cousin's house, Sue Baker, on Buckeye Street and walked the quarter mile or so to Riverfront Park. I figured parking would be a real problem (it wasn't nearly as bad I expected). The Bicentennial expected as many as 40,000 people to attend various events.

 At the north end of Riverfront Park there were amusement rides and various vendors.

 Tom and I stopped at Miss Molly's food truck.

 We opted for something light: just potato salad and two Cokes.

 We ate at the picnic tables beneath a tent. Good thing, too, as a quick storm arrived just before the concert was to begin at 8 pm. After we ate we stood beneath a tree with umbrellas open. There was no lightning.

 Looking south, Tom said the scene reminded him of a Ku Klux Klan rally. Most everyone was wearing plastic rain coats (modified trash bags, actually) that were provided by the Kettering Health Network. The concert was also sponsored by that group.

 The rain lasted perhaps twenty minutes and the concert was delayed until 8:15 pm. Microphones were covered with plastic while it rained (so, too, the large speakers) and the stage area had to have water swept away before the performers arrived.

 Ricky Skaggs (center) did a bang-up job with that mandolin. I doubt there's better Bluegrass played anywhere. For more information on Skaggs, click here.

 While we were listening to the concert we talked with Don and Joan Boyer. Don is my uncle Charlie's brother.

 The concert area was wall-to-wall people. Many brought their own folding chairs. There was barely room to walk from one side to the other.

 The event was recorded and the concert presented on a large screen TV. The view was better on the TV than in person.

 We stayed until about 9:15 pm and then began walking back to my car.

 Miamisburg's Market Square Building was particularly pretty in the late evening light. When I was a kid, my Aunt Mary Masters operated her Mary Ann Shop there.

 It was a fine evening of entertainment. The Miamisburg Bicentennial Celebration took place the entire week of June 16 - 23.

Friday, June 22, 2018

THE Picture

 I've never been one to hold back on taking photographs. Before digital I preferred slides and have a collection of over 3000. Of course I took plenty of printed photographs, too ... everything from early black and white to the vintage days of color.

 Most of my pictures were planned. Careful composition, waiting for the perfect moment, even scheduling. I'd lie in wait for a bird to land at the feeder, camera already set on tripod, stalking the perfect shot. And I'd often came away with some very good photographs.

 But like the song that rises from a dream, I now know the perfect photograph can just materialize unaware, when various events coalesce, moving scenes converge, lighting mellows and events step together into something special.

 That happened Wednesday evening  when I attended the Ricky Skaggs concert at Miamisburg's Bicentennial celebration. Tom and I were sitting at a picnic table under a tent, enjoying the passing crowd, watching the sky for rain.

 Above me and to the west, the levee blocked our view of the Great Miami River but I intended to climb it later and have a look. I was playing with my camera, zooming in one various attractions when I began watching people strolling along the top of the levee.

 I aimed at them, zoomed in to crop the scene in my view finder. It was nothing special but I kept the camera there, perhaps anticipating something unintentional. And then, three individuals stopped, seemed to talk briefly and I saw a miracle develop before my eyes.

 I pushed the shutter release ...

 What is the man pointing toward? The woman behind him, ponytail streaming down, watches, too. Another man looks south, also.

 I am shooting in color but the silhouette is mostly black and white. The sky glows with muted light. It is late in the day and it is about to rain. A clear blue sky in the background would not have worked, This shot required clouds.

 How often am I below groups of people when I am taking pictures? I almost shot this one into the sky.

 Of my many thousands of photos, this is my favorite.

 These three walked into my viewfinder unaware, stopped and gave me the picture of a lifetime.

 This reminds me of something. What?

Sunday, June 17, 2018

An Unexpected Storm

 Yesterday Tom and I drove out to my brothers at 1:30 pm to help him move a television. We stayed for some time and then stopped at Captain 9's on the way home for some breaded mushrooms (we each had only a single ear of corn for lunch). As we approached home - about 3 pm - I mentioned to Tom about how dark the sky was getting to our north. The original forecast showed no chance of rain.

 But soon thereafter we had a shower and by 4 pm we were surrounded by thunderstorms. Again we had very little rain here (just 0.03"). Tom was trying to use the computer and we lost power three times.

 About 4 pm as the storm was retreating to our south, I stood at the bedroom window and saw vivid lightning to my southeast (roughly towards Miamisburg). Germantown, I understand, had wind damage from this storm.

 I picked up the Canon and shot video towards the area where the lightning was greatest. Here's two views of the same lightning bolt, fractions of a second apart ...

 This initial stroke was almost "clean", just a jagged path to ground.

 But as the power ramped up and the air heated, tendrils of juice spit off to the sides of the main bolt.

 That was it ... just a quick summer thunderstorm built up by daytime heating. Unexpected and welcome at the same time.

Mammatus Clouds Seen

 I've only seen mammatus clouds a handful of times in my life. Last Wednesday I was out watering trees and our garden and watched run-of-the-mill storm clouds approach from the west. These began dropping into the pendulous clouds we call mammatus. They are often associated with severe thunderstorms and even tornadoes.

 I photographed these clouds just after 5 pm on May 13 ...

5:01 pm 

This first shot is looking west from my garden area. I noticed the odd striations to the south. If you look to the right edge of the picture you can see clearing skies approaching. In fact, though I heard thunder all around me, we only received a mere 0.01".

5:01 pm 

 I zoomed in a bit on those that are beginning to drop down into "mammary clouds".

5:15 pm

 Finally, as the formation dropped to my east and southeast I walked into the driveway for a better view. These are more truly mammatus clouds at this stage.

 For more information on these clouds, visit Wikipedia by clicking here.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Window Washing Begins

 Each year Mom and I would face our annual window washing with dread. When we first moved into Pinehaven it was an autumn project, a get-ready-for-winter deal. But we soon enough found that we were slowing down - or the snows were speeding up - and we kept moving the date earlier every year. In recent years we'd begin in August, even July.

 As you can see, it's June. And I'm beginning the project alone. So I thought I'd do a window or two every chance I got, and eventually have the whole house clean. Last year Mom was already not feeling well and we completed only the first floor.

 The procedure was this: I'd clean a window, take the curtains to the laundromat, and she'd iron them and I'd rehang them. This year I don't have Mom helping but I do have a washer and a dryer and I expect that will streamline the operation somewhat. I also have Nancy volunteering to iron the curtains.

 All told, I should be OK. I have help lined up and I have begun early enough.

 To honor Mom I began with the north window in her bedroom. This requires moving a desk but otherwise the window is easily accessible.

 My procedure is to wash the inside frame, take both sections of glass out and wash them on a sheet spread on the floor. Then I go outside, set up a ladder and wash the outside. Finally I wash the screen (which we keep in place but seldom use), set it up against the garage to dry as I begin to reassemble the window.

 It would be nice to have the newer tilt-in windows but ours are probably 1970's vintage and they require the pieces to be taken apart and cleaned one by one.

 My regular ladder barely reaches the second floor windows. When I'm standing near the top I have to hold on for dear life, I have a heavy, longer fiberglass ladder but I cannot lift it alone. And so I use this shorter one.

 After washing Mom's window I moved to the window at the top of the stairs. Both are on the north side of the house.

 The same window pictured with the ladder is shown above from inside. This is my portable work area. I move a sheet along and use that as a drop-cloth as I clean the various panes.

 I chose today because I knew it would be cooler and cloudy. That makes for easier work. But as I began, so did a light rain and I gathered up a ball cap to keep my head dry as I worked atop the ladder. It was a pleasant 68° as I began my work.

Will I finish before the first flakes of snow fall? My intentions are good, at least.

[Note to self: Finishing both floors the week of May 17, 2018. Make this an every-other-year event. Next year just wash the outsides. I'm getting too old for this! - Bill]

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Willow Oak

 Tom picked up a tall and healthy Willow Oak (Quercus phellos) at Lowe's on the way here last Wednesday. We planted it on June 7. It is a tree that I've never seen locally.

 We planted it at the rear (western edge) of our property. It'll get the needed full sun there and won't be crowded out by other trees. To its north is where I had two ash trees removed. They were killed by the Emerald Ash Borer.

This tree could easily grow to 50' high and will likely spread 35' wide. In this open location, it may exceed those numbers. It could grow to 100' tall. The tree is known more in southern zones of the U.S. but can handle -10° to -20° so our zone 6a is near the northern edge of its habitable zone.

 Our particular tree was grown by Gardens Alive Farms in Smithville, TN. It was dug on March 26.

 The tree is called a willow oak because of it's long, willow-like leaves ... and also its love for water. It is not actually a willow but is in the Red Oak family.

 We carried water in buckets to it and we've had ample rain since we put it in the ground. I'll be anxious to look upon it each evening at sunset. It'll make a pretty silhouette as it grows tall and strong.