Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The end of May ...

This morning when I turned my computer on, things were not good.  This, after 2 years of being a perfect computer!  The various error messages indicated that the computer clock was set to prior to 2008, and that was making everything unstable.  I suspected that the computer's clock battery was gone.  After manually re-setting the clock, the computer was still very glitch-y so I took it into the local Apple shop.  The geek ran it through some hardware tests and concluded that the only problem was a bad tracker pad.  $200 and a 3 to 4 day turnaround.  Since I don't have 3 or 4 days, I bought a mouse, and so far, the computer seems happy again.  I hate using a mouse, though.  So antiquated.

So Jubilee and I made once last jaunt through Knob Hill.  I wanted to check on the Mayapples, and sure enough, there under the leaves - where the bud was -  is a little apple of sorts ...
It is very hot.  Florida hot.  In the 90s hot.  Yesterday John showed me a local "Florida" place, complete with palm trees and sand ...

 The Tiki Bar didn't open until 5pm.  Probably too hot.  But the pool was plenty crowded.
Meanwhile, Jubilee and I are getting ready to roll ... first thing tomorrow morning if all goes well.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend

We're staying close to home this weekend.  The weather has definitely turned summer.

We caught a car show in Wexley.  We rented a boat to explore Moraine Lake this morning.  Locked the keys in the car at the Knob Hill Park (that took a while to resolve), and then winded up with a swim at the pool at our apartment complex, which just opened this weekend.  Jubilee got a bath with the hose.

 Hard to believe that cars looked like this in 1950 - the year I was born.
 Moraine Lake State Park.
 Jubilee kept her eye on the shoreline.
An eagle's nest.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Mayapple!

This is Jubilee as she's walking through our patch of "umbrella plants" that are quickly being inundated with weeds.  I've found out that what we're calling "umbrella plants" are really the "mayapples" (or Podophyllum peltatum).  It is supposed to produce a fruit, or apple, in the summer.

Other names are: hogapple, Indian apple, mayflower, umbrella plant (shape of the leaves), wild lemon (flavor of the fruit), wild mandrake, American mandrake (shape of rhizomes) or "devil's apple".

And lo and behold, just where I thought I left it 6 days ago, Jubilee's leash appeared today!  I wonder why I couldn't find it last week?  Now I have 2 leashes.

Penn's forest etc.

When I was about in 5th grade I learned about a colony of land in America that was given to William Penn by the King of England.  Penn was a Quaker who believed in religious freedom and the separation of church and state.  In his colony the Native American were treated as equals.

Penn wanted to name his colony Woodland, but it was named Penn's sylvania (or Penn's forest).

Driving across the state of Pennsylvania on route 80, it is clear that this state is indeed a woodland.  The forests are so thick that you can barely see into them, and cleared farmland is rare.  I don't know that I ever realized how many different shades of green there are.

What were we doing driving across the state again?  Well, the plan was to go to Aunt Mary's 85th birthday party, visit David in his Connecticut woodland home, visit around some.  But things didn't go as planned.  We should have known that things were starting to skew when we came upon grid locked traffic at the George Washington Bridge ...
Yes, it was raining and I should have gone to the bathroom before we got to this point, because for quite some time we were literally stuck in traffic.  No way to even get off to try to find a bathroom.  It was so bad I told John that it was the hardest thing I'd ever had to do in my life - (hold it)!  Anyway, now in retrospect, it doesn't seem as bad as it did at the time, but I've got renewed respect for driving through NYC traffic.

We never made it to Aunt Mary's party because Frank couldn't walk when he woke up on Saturday morning, and we didn't make it to David's weekend house because David had the flu, but we did have a nice walk around Glen Island Park.  I like the northern waterfronts.
John says that he once climbed this tower and got stuck half way up.  A police car came by but he was somehow able to avoid being detected up there. [Update: John tells me that he avoided detection by the cops because he was INSIDE the tower and couldn't get out!]
This is John before one of his old hangouts.  Took the photo so that he could send it to a Facebook friend who hung out there too.
Got steamers at a place that used to be called "Greasy Nick's" but now is called "Leno's".  I can't remember if they said that Jay Leno used to work there or that he bought the place.  Oompa and John having steamers after Oompa was released from the emergency room.

A lot of driving.  It was good to get back to our little cave here in Western PA.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

view from the window

Starting to look a lot like it did last summer when we moved in.  The leaves give a lot of cover from noise and view of the road.

the demise of the skunk cabbage (UPDATED)

I was wondering what was going to become of these magnificent plants.  They looked so healthy and solid and nothing was eating them, not even bugs.  Alas, they seem to be just bowing down now and disappearing!  There was a lot of rain yesterday, and that gave them a big swoop over; but it is apparent that they are giving ground to the ever encroaching array of green things that are coming up everywhere.  I guess their time and job is done. 
I didn't find Jubilee's leash today, even though we went back to the very spot where I thought I might have laid it down.

"In our area the leaves of the trees and bushes unfold in May and a homogenous dark green canopy has formed by mid-June. At this time the leaves of skunk cabbage begin to decay. They don't dry up and fall onto the ground to become part of the leaf litter that is slowly decomposed by fungi over the next year. Skunk cabbage has its own characteristic way of decaying. The leaves get small holes in them, begin to hang down, and parts turn black and somewhat slimy. Essentially the leaves dissolve. This dissolution occurs rapidly, so that already by the end of July or early August the leaves are gone. You only find a few remnants of the bases of the leaf stalks. What dominated the appearance of the wetland in May has disappeared in August. 

As strange as this way of decomposing at first seems, after studying the plant more intensively you begin to see how it fits with other characteristics. While growing, a plant is in its most fluid state. It then forms hard fibers, which, in biochemical terms, is a process of condensation and drying out. When the plant dies even more water is lost, and decay of the woody fibers sets in. Skunk cabbage stays in the watery phase; its substances don't condense and dry out. Therefore the dying leaves appear to evaporate, since they are mostly water, and almost no dry matter is left on the ground to decay. Skunk cabbage unfolds rapidly and disappears rapidly".

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

This morning after the rain

 Dogwood is slowly but surely disappearing.  This may be the last of them.
The umbrella plants have a bloom now on the underside of their leaves...
I somehow lost Jubilee's leash while taking these photos, and will have to buy another one.  But she is going to the groomer's today to get spruced up for her trip to NY this weekend, so I'll get one while I'm there.

John's bird photo

Found this photo on my camera, no doubt one of the bird's that John has identified.  I'll update the post when I find out what it is. 

Sunday, May 15, 2011

my purple shoes

John took this picture.  That's Jubilee's stash on the shelf.

Presque Isle (almost an island)

We really should have known better.  It was raining here and the forecast didn't look good, but we thought we could handle a little rain so we headed north to see what Presque Isle was all about.

Presque Isle is a little peninsula that arches into Lake Eric just off of the city of Erie PA, making a safe little harbor there.  Presque Isle actually means "almost an island".  There are lots of trails there, beaches, a 1950's style amusement park with wooden roller coaster, bike paths, a protected environmental area.

But, alas, it was raining so hard when we got there that we could barely get out of the car.  When I opened the window to view the beach the water blew straight into the car.  And the temperature dropped about 15-20 degrees, so it was quite cold. 

I guess that's what they call the "lake effect".

We did find a covered place for a picnic.  No rush on the tables today.
We will have to go back.  I would like to see Presque Isle during winter when they say that Lake Eric freezes.

Friday, May 13, 2011

the loveliness of everything

Here are some miscellaneous photos that I got last week.

More of the bud-blooms that are developing into a complex of leaves on the tree branches. 
 Here is the umbrella plant that seems to be an all over ground cover for the forest floor.
 Some lovely little blue flowers.  Forget me nots?
 A little cluster of white flowers at the end of a tree branch ...
 And dandelions everywhere ...


This is how green things have become over at Knob Hill Park (and everywhere else too).

 The forest floor is covered with the skunk cabbage and the plants that look like umbrellas.