Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Stillfork Swamp Nature Preserve, The Nature Conservancy in Ohio

Recently we visited yet another spectacular Ohio natural area protected by The Nature Conservancy: Stillfork Swamp Nature Preserve.

You can read more about the geologic setting at the link above. Below, just enjoy the pics!

On a spectacularly sunny and satisfyingly chilly day we struck out for a Stillfork Swamp adventure.

No trails means: take your aerial photo to navigate!

The term "swamp" often brings to mind open-ness but Stillfork is home to some pretty nice deciduous hardwood forest. We marveled at the canopy of Pin Oak and Swamp White Oak.

Jennifer admired a nice Pin Oak. Many deciduous trees shed their lower branches as they mature and grow tall. Pin Oak often does not - a great clue that you might have yourself a Pin Oak!

Oh yeah, there's open swamp here too!

A species of rush (a grass-like plant many species of which can thrive in prolonged wetness).

Wonderful architecture: A Praying Mantis egg case.

Willow Herb: a whimsical plant in the Evening Primrose family (last time we checked).

Stillfork Swamp is home to a pretty extensive population of Swamp Rose - a plant that inspired the favored dance of locals around here: The Swamp Rose Shuffle. We found this particular dance to be a necessity since we inadvertently got ourselves into a situation where we had to traverse what had to be the largest patch of our thorny friend!

Standing dead trees are common in protected forests and are critical for woodpeckers and other cavity nesting/roosting species.

The Stillfork Swamp take on The Three Sisters...

We were intrigued to to find a pretty definitive sign of active Beavers...

...and elated to confirm!

Something about a Beaver dam always puts a big smile on our faces!

Steve and Jennifer in their natural habitat: anywhere in nature!

Natural areas are so absolutely essential for preserving diversity and consequently for preserving our own health-well being.  Please support the conservation of natural areas if you can. If you need inspiration try visiting The Nature Conservancy's open preserves or preserves administered by the Ohio department of Natural Resources.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Another Jelly Cupboard, Quick-Like, Part 1

Years ago, Steve made a jelly cupboard fashioned around an old window. That particular project took awhile and it's always good to be able to whip out a quick piece if one needs to, so he decided to try a new design. Here's what happened:

1) Take a look at the assortment of scrap doors.

2) Choose one.

3) Choose some boards for the carcass.

4) Make a face frame: dimensions determined by the door dimensions.

5) Screw face frame directly onto side boards.

6) Cut a back board from scrap plywood and nail that to the back of the carcass (I cut recesses into the inside back of the side boards so that the plywood back would not be visible from the sides).

7) Cut and attach base trim.

8) Cut and attach top.

9) Rough-install door and mark where it needs some edge sanding so that it fits nicely.

10) Install shelves and finish piece (that will be in part 2)!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

New Home Treadle Sewing Machine

About 10 years or so ago my Grandma Eileen, my mom's mom, passed along her mother's treadle sewing machine to me (Jennifer).  Can you imagine my excitement?  At the time, I loved the beauty of such a functional item and of course, the history...the connection to my Grandmother and Great Grandmother who both sewed on this machine.

Recently I decided that I too wanted to sew on this machine so I purchased a drive belt and had ultra handy Steve help me install it this past weekend.  After a bit of practice treadling (which I knew I would love from spinning yarn), I found the shuttle, threaded the bobbin, threaded the machine and started sewing.  The sewing is so smooth and so fun!

My Great Grandmother's and Grandmother's organization is evident by all the pieces still present!  Original needles with the New Home stamp are in wooden needle tubes.

4 bobbins and an assortment of screwdrivers, keys, etc. were in the same little drawer as the needles.  I didn't even know this drawer existed till my Gram came for a visit and opened it!

All of the instructions and attachments were in a drawer along with the warranty certificate, which dates at 1906.

You can make out the date in the middle of the doodle.  I wonder who did this?  Some member of my family  no doubt.  Maybe my Mom or one of my aunts and uncles?  It makes me smile thinking about it.

The sewing machine is on the south wall of the craft room so it gets lots of light.  Look closely and you will see Alvin enjoying the sun.  He blends in to all that whiteness!

Here's a closeup of the happy boy...

Bounder found herself a sun patch too.

Happiness all around.  Thank you Gram for giving me such an amazing piece of our history!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Big Darby Headwaters Nature Preserve, An Autumn Hike

It's been awhile since we've taken a hike at The Nature Conservancy's Big Darby Headwaters Nature Preserve but it's one of our favorite places of all time so we will have to increase our visitation! We actually refrain from making comparisons about natural areas because the wonder and complexity of nature makes each place infinitely unique. Our last hike was on an exquisite summer day awash with sun and butterflies. Today, with cool temps, a heavy sky and sparse flowers and foliage, things like animal signs and natural patterns made themselves prominent.

 We find joy and fascination in: agricultural field transitioning to forest...

 ...the vacated home of a ground-nesting songbird...

...fresh (and we mean FRESH) White-Tailed Deer scat...

...a plant in a location that proves high is not always dry...

...Goldenrod, friend to many-a-butterfly...

...wonderfully beautiful seed dispersal...

Dogbane: check this out!

Now, into the woods!

Mixed media: Cedar Waxwing feather on Oak leaves:

Yep, White-Tailed Deer are excited that Autumn is here!

Jennifer is partial to Shagbark Hickory and notes that Brown Creepers (songbird) build nests under loose bark like this. Amazing...

Trees are more than lumber.

Osage-Orange fence posts being integrated into the forest. Kind of reminds us of the stone sculptures of Easter Island.

Deer hair-leaf mosaic:

We think that the American Robin invented wattle and daub home construction:

We took only photographs and left only footprints as we exited along the Coyote's path...

...enjoying the serenity of a sunset over our favorite mixed media.