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Saturday, June 24, 2017

A New (To Me) Dragonfly

Doug found this little visitor on one of our shrubs Thursday night, about nine o'clock. I don't believe I've ever seen a dragonfly quite like this one and hope one of you might be able to identify it for me.

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The images aren't the best quality because of the low-light situation and the movement of the dragonfly's perch in the evening breeze. In fact, I had to use a flash, which must have confused this poor little critter because those big eyes were rolling with my every move.

Update 6/25/17: Aha! Persistency in searching the internet has paid off.  I believe this is a female Eastern Pondhawk.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

June Days

This has been an unusual year (so far) for Doug and me. We've had more than the usual number of ailments, resulting in more than the usual number of medical appointments. There's been nothing too serious among our ailments, but they've clogged our calendar, kept us from doing much traveling, and contributed to my lapse in posting here.

But, lest you think I've abandoned the blog completely, here are some photos from some warm, sunny days in June.

Ouabache (pronounced WAH-bash) State Park is a favorite destination for quiet summer afternoons of relaxation, reading, and photography. 

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Unfortunately, the lake in the park has been drained this year, to allow construction of a swimming beach. So our afternoons by the lake aren't quite the same this year. For one thing, there's a serious lack of dragonflies, one of my favorite subjects for photographs. And the Canada Geese are doing more hiking than swimming.

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An Eastern Eyed Click Beetle (after I knocked it out of my hair)

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The same beetle, with wings spread
Even though the lake has been drained, there is a small area with water in it. Doug and I walked out on the dry lake bed to reach the edge of the water and found several water snakes swimming at the water's edge and moving among the rocks on the shore. (And the park authorities are building a swimming beach???)

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Water Snake

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Cedar Waxwing

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Brown-Headed Cow Bird

After our afternoon at the park, we drove over to Willshire, Ohio, for supper at the Willshire Drive-in, one of our very favorite places to go for ice cream in the summer.

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Willshire Drive-in

While enjoying our meal (and dessert) at the drive-in, we watched a brave soul painting the town's water tower.

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Painting the Willshire, Ohio Water Tower
Our drive home that day had to be rerouted due to a fire in what we think was a barn. We drove by the site a few days later. All that was left was a pile of charred debris. There was a house nearby, so we're pretty sure this was a barn.

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Structure Fire



Saturday, May 06, 2017

Hodgepodge

Today's post is a random accumulation of images from the last few weeks. 

First up is a wonderful old barn that I pass several times a week. It sits beside a state highway in an area which is rapidly being overtaken by retail stores and other businesses. The property is for sale, and I fear it's only a matter of time before this beauty is only a memory.

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Some of you will remember my talking about Doug's brother, Dennis, who underwent a partial amputation of a leg in 2014. His daughters and their families live a few hours north of Dennis and haven't seen him since his hospitalization three years ago. We live a couple of hours south of Dennis and see him about once a month. Well, on April 29, several members of his family to the north met us and Dennis at Aubree's Pizzeria and Grill in a town approximately an equal driving distance for them and for Doug and me.

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Aubree's Pizzeria

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A reunion at Aubree's
Dennis is in the green jacket, between his oldest daughter, Denise, and my hubby, Doug. Dennis' middle daughter, Becky, is across the table from him, with the man in her life to her right. On her left is Denise's son and his wife. And Denise's daughter and her little son are on the left end of the table. It was a special time, and I hope we'll be able to do it again sooner rather than later.

Also, those of you who have been around awhile will remember my great-nephew, Carson, who is active in music, drama, and dance. On Tuesday, May 2, Carson performed with the high school orchestra in their last performance of the school year. I understand that it was probably Carson's last performance with the orchestra, too. He's considering playing keyboard in the school band next year.

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Carson in orchestra performance

And lastly in this random mixture, a look at the front of our house and our beautiful azalea bush.

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The azalea bush was very small when we bought the house 28 years ago. It's grown considerably in those intervening years. And it just glows when it's in bloom. It's such an eye catcher that we notice the Amish checking it out as they drive by in their buggies. It's about the only time of the year that they pay us much notice.


Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Spring!

Don't you just love spring...all the spring flowers popping up and the gorgeous flowering trees and shrubs? It's such a beautiful time of year, probably made more so as all that color comes on the heels of the winter season which is so black and white. 

Here are a few pictures of spring in our backyard.

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Crab Apple Blossoms

The next three images show some of the blossoms on an apple tree in our yard:

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Next are two views of the backyard, essentially the same, but taken several years apart:

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A view of the backyard - April 25, 2017

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Essentially the same view, taken at least 17 years ago
I know the above picture was taken at least 17 years ago because that old satellite dish pole was removed in October, 2000. When we bought the house in 1989, there were no trees in the backyard at all, except for an oak on one side and a maple on the other. We wanted more privacy, so we put in lots of evergreen trees and flowering trees and shrubs. We've enjoyed the park-like feel of the yard over the years, and it's become home to lots of birds, squirrels, and rabbits.

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Cut flowers from yard - May 3, 2008

The arrangement of cut flowers pictured above was made of cuttings from some of those trees and shrubs. That spring of 2008, it seemed that everything was blooming at once. On this particular day, Doug surprised me by bringing in these cuttings and arranging them in a vase for me to discover on my next pass through the kitchen. I was so touched by that since Doug isn't usually a very spontaneous guy. But then he goes and does something like this. He's a keeper.


Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Spring at Ouabache State Park

This past winter was a mild one, but it seemed to have more of a negative effect on my mood than previous winters. However, spring has sprung at last in Indiana. Yesterday was a beautiful, warm spring day; and Doug and I took advantage of it to visit Ouabache State Park, about an hour from our home.

The lake had been drained for, according to signs posted in the area, beach construction. We're not sure what that means since it doesn't seem to us that the water is suitable for swimming.

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The drained lake

Of course, some water had accumulated in the lake from recent rainfall. That seemed to provide an irresitable attraction for some sandpiper-like birds, apparently passing through on migration.

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Migratory sandpiper-like bird

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A Red-tailed Hawk was riding the wind currents above us.

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This beautiful old tree was still leafless.

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A display of wildflowers at the base of another old tree

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The dozens of redbud trees in the park were putting on quite a show.

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A lone Redbud among several still-bare trees.

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A glorious display of flowering trees across the lake


We spent a most enjoyable afternoon at the park, relishing the warm sunshine, good books, and each other's company.



Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Beauty & Peace in the Smokies

My last post focused on the fire damage in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and in and around Gatlinburg, Tennessee. But, lest you think that there's nothing left in the area but burned-out buildings and scorched landscapes, I'd like to assure you that we still found the area beautiful and still experienced the sense of peace that always comes over us when we're there.

We enjoyed some beautiful spring-like weather during our recent short stay. I've been experiencing some foot pain (plantar fasciitis), so we weren't able to hike, but we did take the very short walk back to Cataract Falls.

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Cataract Falls

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This beautiful flowering tree was drawing a crowd at the Maloney Point Overlook.

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The historic Bud Ogle cabin escaped the fire, which had burned to within a few feet of the back porch.

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A Mockingbird serenading us from the top of a tree at one of the many outlet malls.
A quick story about going to the outlet mall...Doug saw a store advertising wallets, and he needed a wallet. So we stopped in. It was a Wilson's Leather store. They didn't have what he wanted in a wallet, but they did have what I wanted in a leather jacket. We thought about it for a couple of days, and I did some online research to look for a better price. But, in the end, we went back to get it. And I love it.

One of our favorite places in the area is the Douglas Dam overlook, so we went there on the day before we came home.

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Douglas Dam


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We've seen lots of unusual things on our visits to Douglas Dam. This time, it was a man playing a trumpet (later, a saxophone), accompanied by his faithful dog, Jazzy. 

Another time when we were there, some teenagers had strung a rope between trees and were practicing tight-rope walking. Fortunately, the rope wasn't very high off the ground because they hadn't finely tuned their skills yet.

Before leaving the dam, we like to go down to the base of the dam, where birds gather to fish. There are blue herons, cormorants, egrets, terns, and bald eagles. An alarm goes off when water is about to be released through the dam, and it's like a dinner bell to the birds. Apparently the incoming water is filled with fish.

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This rookery includes nests of herons, egrets, and cormorants.

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Blue Herons waiting for dinner


Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Smokies After the Fire

Doug and I got away for a few days last week to visit our beloved Smoky Mountains. We'd been wanting to get down there ever since the wildfires had raged through the area in late November, 2016; but this was the first opportunity we'd had to do it.

During the time since the fires, much had been done to deal with the damage and destruction. Some 2400 structures had been damaged or destroyed in and around Gatlinburg. Most of that debris had been removed, at least in the areas we saw. But we stayed away from some of the hardest-hit neighborhoods.

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The above photo, taken from the Gatlinburg overlook, shows the scorched trees in the foreground.


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The Park Vista Hotel, the tall, round hotel in the photo above, was surrounded by the fires. The blackened area in front of the hotel shows how close the flames were on that side of the building. A little below the Hotel, about the middle of the photo, there are several burned-out structures visible.


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Crews had sprayed a mixture of fertilizer and grass seed along the burned areas next to the roadways in the national park, resulting in lush green grass growing close to the road. But, a look above the green reveals some of the burned area.


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We've often stopped at the overlook from which the above photo was taken, but we'd never seen the river at the bottom of the hill before. The fires had burned away much of the ground vegetation. You can also see a blackened strip coming down the ridge of the mountain on the right.

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The photo above shows what's left of the Smoky Mountain Castle, situated high on a mountain, overlooking Gatlinburg. To see pictures of the Castle before the fire, click here. A bit of the Castle's history can be found here.

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Above are two views of one home's burned-out foundation.


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Two more burned-out homes

The fire started in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, near Chimney Tops, a popular hiking destination. On November 28, 2016, winds approaching 90 miles per hour swept the fire down the mountain and into the town of Gatlinburg, with little warning. In addition to the 2400 damaged or destroyed structures, 14 people lost their lives. Two juveniles are currently being held in Juvenile Detention, accused of aggravated arson.


Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Life

This has been an interesting winter. After a heavy snowfall and some bitterly cold temperatures in December, the weather has been very mild. In fact, during the last two weeks, we had eight or 10 days with temperatures in the sixties (15-20 C). That set some records, brought some birds back a little early, and prompted some trees to begin budding.

Doug and I both had a touch of the flu, but nothing like other folks we know. Then Doug came down with another case of chronic hiccups, probably brought on by the coughing he'd been doing. After eight days, several trips to doctors, and trying various medicines, we finally resorted to going to the hospital emergency room. There, they were able to give him some more powerful medicine intravenously, and it cured him. That was 10 days ago and so far, so good.

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In the midst of all that, I had to have some dental work done, involving the removal of four crowns (numbers 7, 8, 9, and 10), drilling out the decay in each of the teeth under the crowns, then fitting me with temporary crowns until the permanent ones could be installed on February 28.

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Monday, as we were walking a neighborhood and passing out the John/Romans booklets that I mentioned in the last post, we knocked on the door of a pastor of another church. He and his wife invited us in and introduced us to another man and two women who were apparently staying with them for a time. As we talked, he invited us to attend a presentation on church safety at their church on Tuesday, the 28th, dealing with how churches can prepare for some of the dangers, both natural (as in killer storms) and criminal (as in killer humans), that are becoming so prevalent these days. Doug told him we wouldn't be able to go because I was getting new teeth that day. One of the lady guests said, "She'll be able to take a bite out of crime." Cracked me up.

It won't be long now until our favorite ice cream shop opens for the season.

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Hope you've been having a good winter, whether in spite of or because of the weather. Spring is on the way.


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