Milestones, and the Dreaded Personal Pronouns

Milestones and the Dreaded Personal Pronouns

This blog post is going to be a lot about * me, and I.* (**dreaded personal pronouns)  I am not entirely comfortable with that, but it is a personal blog, after all. Plus, I have had some little victories lately and I want to celebrate them.

2016 single-2
this year’s syrup label

WordPress notified me the other day of my second blogging anniversary!   I began blogging in 2014 with the onset of maple sap season. It’s that time of year again and we have thus far gathered about 30 gallons of sap.  In 2014 we managed to make quite a bit of syrup. Not so much in 2015, and despite our best efforts we had some crystallization of the syrup after we decanted. We’re curious about what this year’s kooky weather patterns will do to us, but so far so good. The temperatures over the weekend were well above average, day and night. The week before that we were way below average and very snowy. Now we are settling into a more typical pattern for this time of year: above freezing during the day and below freezing at night. This is most conducive to sap flow.

I have worked these past two years to improve my photography and better understand my camera. When I look at my photo of sap from 2014,

Sap flowing from the maple tree into a collection bucket
2014

and the one from this year,

Spile
2016

I am encouraged. I have done a lot of reading and experimentation, taken some tutorials and a class, and think it has all helped.¬†¬† It‚Äôs far easier these days for me to get the shot I want. I still have to take a lot of exposures, and there are still times when I goof and forget stuff, but I‚Äôve graduated to full manual mode and the histogram is my friend. When I forget to properly set my ISO and white balance, I can usually ‚Äúfix it in post‚ÄĚ which is Adobe Lightroom.

Last year one of my ‚Äúpromises‚ÄĚ was that I would knit a sweater. I did not get to that sweater in 2015. This was mostly due to needing to complete a huge cable knit throw that I started way back in 2013.

cableknit-1
huge throw

I often struggle with following through on personal projects so it was kind of thrilling to be able to finally give the throw to my mom as a gift.

‚̧

The sweater is proving to be a challenge, but I’m enjoying learning how to shape a garment while knitting in the round. Again, I had to do a lot of research to familiarize myself with various terms and techniques, but it’s going OK. It’s got a head-hole and armholes and they are in more or less the right spots, so I’m pleased.20160124_195911_resized

 

 

 

Another milestone: I was recently very honored and excited to be contacted by the Granville Garden Club about some photos I took for my post Day of the Daffodil. They asked permission to use some of them on their web page and very kindly offered to link to my blog. P&P has gotten several referrals from their site, which is great because gardeners are generally really nice folks.

previously unpublished photo of dog and daffodils <3
previously unpublished photo of dog and daffodils ‚̧

 

Finally, here are a few photos from a class I took during which we hiked in local parks and just shot pictures of whatever.

walking at sunset
walking at sunset at Lobed Reserve
the Japanese Garden at Dawes Arboretum
the Japanese Garden at Dawes Arboretum
grasses backlit at Dawes Arboretum
grasses backlit at Dawes Arboretum
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Farmer’s Market, Day 1

Yesterday was the first day of the Granville Farmer’s Market, and unlike last year I was there when the market master rang the opening bell, and I was in time for the asparagus. ¬†I’m also really enjoying my new “Nifty Fifty” lens and getting some practice creating¬†the sharp focus and the bokeh where I want them. There’s a fine line between a shallow depth of field that tells a story and a picture that is murky and blurry. ¬†Also, since I was loaded down with bags of goodies, I was shooting one-handed and trying to avoid camera shake. ¬†Here are the ones I’m happiest with, and isn’t the Market a pretty place? ¬†The vendors really brought it this year.

ramps and radishes from Bird's Haven Farms
ramps and radishes from Bird’s Haven Farms
baby kale plants from The Kale Yard
baby kale plants from The Kale Yard
bread from Lucky Cat Bakery
bread from Lucky Cat Bakery
ohio maple syrup from Flying J Farm
ohio maple syrup from Flying J Farm
hydrangeas and alliums
hydrangeas and alliums
lilacs and fresh eggs from Copia Farm
lilacs and fresh eggs from Copia Farm
beautiful packaging for Copia's farm fresh eggs
beautiful display for Copia’s farm fresh eggs
decorative planter with lettuce leaves
decorative planter with lettuce leaves

Day of the Daffodil

My and my mother’s weekend¬†adventure was strolling once again through the beautiful Bryn Du Mansion at the 70th Annual Daffodil Show and Sale, held by the Granville (Ohio) Garden Club. ¬†Creativity and dedication to gardening and especially the cultivation of daffodils were in evidence throughout the rooms. ¬†The theme of the show this year was “Daffodil Show 1945: Back to Our Future.”

Nineteen forty-five was the year of the very first daffodil show, and even with the austerity of the Second World War, daffodils were gracing yards and gardens in our little town. ¬†The show celebrated the presence of “daffs” in our lives then and now by staging household vignettes that might have been seen¬†at the end of WWII. ¬†These included a kitchen, a victory garden, a living room and a floor radio. ¬†I had to smile a little as a young mother tried¬†to explain¬†what radio¬†was to her little boy and girl. ¬†I was touched by lovely photos on display of servicemen and women from our area.

Daffodils in a 1940s kitchen vignette
Daffodils in a 1940s kitchen vignette
a 1940s floor radio with Roosevelt portrait and daffodils
a 1940s floor radio with Roosevelt portrait and daffodils
the 1940s living room with photos displayed
the 1940s living room with photos displayed
daffodils in a traditional vase
daffodils in a traditional vase

A large part of the show was dedicated to tables of daffodil creations by Granville residents from their own gardens.   The arrangements ran the gamut from very elaborate to super simple single stems and were inspired by literature, movies and fashions from the 1940s.  I loved them all but my favorites are here. It was a marvelous photo opportunity.  Flowers are seldom awkward or camera-shy.

daffodils and baby's breath in a lady-head vase
daffodils and baby’s breath in a lady-head vase
daffodils and strawberries
daffodils and strawberries
stems in an Arts and Crafts vase
stems in an Arts and Crafts vase

The show also had several large rooms devoted to judging daffodil specimens.  I never knew there were so many in the world!

so many specimens!
so many specimens!
and even more specimens.
and even more specimens.

Most fascinating to me are the miniature varieties.  They are perfectly formed, much tinier versions of the larger flowers.

miniature daffodils in a salt cellar
miniature daffodils in a salt cellar
table setting with miniature daffodils
table setting with miniature daffodils
tiny daffodils in crystal baskets, on a windowsill
tiny daffodils in crystal baskets, on a windowsill
diminutive display
diminutive display

In addition to all the inspiration from the gardeners, there were some shopping opportunities for a good cause.  I bought a nice poster, and bulbs are for sale for autumn delivery and planting.  Proceeds benefit the Garden Club.  My mom was able to select a small bouquet of 8-10 blooms for free.  (But we did give a little donation.)  We were told by a garden club member that when re-cutting daffodils to fit a vase you should never use scissors because it can crush their hollow stems.  Instead use a serrated knife.  More daffodil fun facts:

  • Squirrels, rodents and deer do not eat daffodils or their bulbs
  • Daffodil bulbs are long-lasting–perhaps several generations
  • Daffodils will grow under shallow-rooted ground covers like vinca

I hope you have enjoyed the images and info.  Does your local garden club hold any interesting events?  Have you participated?

for education and beautification
for education and beautification

Daffodil_show-24

 

 

 

 

Helping the Bees, and Things Spotted at The Arboretum

In my previous post I mentioned that we are greeting spring with a bit of trepidation. This is not unusual, as winters around here can take their toll on our yard and its denizens. A late cold snap last year stole most of Ohio’s peaches, ours included. We have a lot of trouble wintering our honeybees, too.   This year we are thrilled to discover the bees still alive after the last prolonged spell of freezing weather. Winter may not be done with us just yet, so my husband and I have had interesting discussions about how to best help our bees while wild pollen is in short supply.

Pondering Bee Nutrition

On our local radio station, the host of our favorite garden show had listeners emailing him about curious early spring bee behavior. People were noticing bees in their wild bird and chicken feeders and wondering what they were doing there. It turns out that they are foraging for grain dust from the millet seeds and cracked corn because it somewhat resembles pollen and may contain a bit of nourishment for them. The radio host suggested placing some cornmeal out just for the bees. I looked online to see if this was common practice. Most longtime beekeepers felt that the benefit of it was negligible, preferring to give their bees a pollen substitute. The consensus was that corn meal wouldn’t harm the bees but it probably wouldn’t help them either. We listen faithfully to that radio show though, and have always found the host and his guest-experts to be reliable sources of useful information, so as far as I’m concerned the jury is still out on the cornmeal.

A Useful Tree

Another idea we are toying with came as a result of seeing an Instagram photo posted by the Dawes Arboretum showing a Witch-hazel tree loaded with blossoms and snow. Maybe some very early and very late-blooming flowering trees will improve the odds for our poor bees. It can’t hurt, right? Witch-hazels are very interesting trees. They are actually shrub-like with a spreading habit, often as wide as they are tall. There are many varieties that would do well in our climate, and the voracious white-tailed deer supposedly don’t like to eat them.

witch-hazel blossom
witch-hazel blossom

Their blossoms are tiny but lovely up close, resembling little bitty spider chrysanthemums. And yes, the bark and leaves of Witch-hazel trees are used to make Witch Hazel, the mild astringent found in many medicine cabinets. Of course, this will not help this year’s bees much, but it is our hope that we get a swarm we can hive and in the coming years we’ll have more bees.

Witch-hazel trees are often as wide as they are tall.
Witch-hazel trees are often as wide as they are tall.
The Paucity of Sap

We also have been disappointed this spring in our maple’s sap production. It’s not looking like we’re going to get much syrup at all. With all the talk of new trees and our sap woes, I felt the need to visit the Dawes Arboretum and ask there about how the syrup season was going.

sap bucket hanging at Dawes Arboretum
sap bucket hanging at Dawes Arboretum

I went on the very last weekend of Maple Syrup Madness (their annual sap boil and self guided tour) but alas the sugar shack was closed. There were quite a few buckets still on the trees, and they appeared to be at least partly filled with sap, but I must wait to find out how much syrup the Arboretum was able to decant this year.

Spring Salamander sighting!

There is always something to see at Dawes, so I got some very nice photos of a few Witch-hazel specimens and a super lucky shot of a spotted salamander in a vernal pool.

spotted salamander in a vernal pool
spotted salamander in a vernal pool

The salamanders come to the pool in the Cyprus Grove at Dawes every year to lay their eggs. A vernal pool is a shallow pool that forms from the early spring rains and runoff, and it will eventually dry up. This is what makes it the ideal nursery for baby salamanders. It can support the amphibians and their prey, but not fish which would eat the salamander eggs.  I have never seen a spotted salamander before and may never again. The window of opportunity for them to reproduce (and be observed in the pool) is pretty small. The salamander I photographed seemed to know it was a pretty special critter and wasn’t at all shy.   Thanks, Mr/Mrs. Spotted Salamander, for making my day awesome!

All Things Fall (or stuff we saw on our walk today)

This morning was beautiful and we tried to take full advantage of it by walking our trail and noticing Fall things.  We could not help but notice the acorns that fell and hit us on the head.

projects&promises|acorns
the acorns that fell on us

I’ve heard that acorns are very nutritious but must be “doctored” (a lot) to make them even remotely palatable. ¬†Somewhere in my un-catalogued recipes is one from my husband’s grandmother that uses acorn flour. ¬†I must find it¬†again. ¬†For now, the squirrels can have them.

We had a walking buddy–our dear Moe Cat, who loves to follow¬†us. ¬† Did you know that cats will often accompany their humans on walks? ¬†They are more social than we are led to believe.

projects&promises|orange tabby cat
our walking buddy

My husband noticed a maple leaf clinging to the face of a mossy log.  Now is a good time, before the leaves are totally off the trees, to identify your sugar maples if you want to tap them in the spring.  Identification is harder when all the leaves have fallen.  Mark the trees you want to tap with a dot of paint, or a brightly colored ribbon, or draw yourself a map of your sugar grove.  Just remember not to tap saplings.  A tree should be 10 inches in diameter before you tap it.

projects&promises|maple leaf
sugar maple leaf?

I noticed a fungus (among us.)  I have no idea what it is, but I thought it contrasted prettily with the forest floor.

projects&promises|fungus
fungus on a log

This wildflower, gone to seed, also caught my eye.

projects&promises|gone to seed
gone to seed

These bald-faced black hornets have been harassing our poor honey bees. ¬†They raid the honeycombs and are capable of stinging multiple times, unlike honeybees who can only sting once. ¬†It is all the bees can do to keep them at bay, at this crucial time when they should be gathering nectar¬†for winter. ¬†We have been looking for the¬†hornet’s base¬†of operations, which would be a paper nest, but have not found it yet. ¬†Suffice it to say, we are not fans of the hornets.

projects&promises|hornet
bald-faced black hornet

This is some of our wood stove¬†fuel, which my husband has hauled, spit,¬†and stacked for the better part of the last three weeks. ¬†Next stop, winter! ¬†ūüė¶ ¬†But we’re ready‚ĶI think.

projects&promises|stacked wood
winter fuel