Thursday, August 29, 2013


I hadn't spotted my local Cooper's hawk lately, until yesterday. When some survival-related uneasiness niggled in a dark corner of my brain, I looked up from my writing desk and saw one fiercely glaring at me from a leafy hideout in the nearby box elder.

"What," I said, staring back, "little ol' you is sitting there considering big ol' me as potential lunch? Doesn't that strike you as foolishly optimistic?" 

My remarks must have offended the raptor, for it abruptly shook its feathers before turning its head, never deigning to look my way again. After perhaps five minutes of inspecting, studying, scrutinizing, and what might have been a hawk-version of intense gaping, at all manner of objects in every viewable direction except towards my workroom window, the miffed Cooper's flew off.

Nobody likes sassy prey.  

Monday, August 26, 2013


The enchantingly saturated colors of this morning's natural abstract view of the Cottage Pool, just below the front deck…which I confess I snuck outdoors to photograph.

For the past couple of weeks, I've been trying to quash a persistent infection. The first cycle of antibiotics proved insufficient, though it took a day or two after I'd finished the medication to realize the infection—which quickly flared back up with a vengeance—had not been resolved. Because things had the potential of becoming serious, I began a second round of antibiotics…which I'll complete in a day or two.

The upshot is that I've spent little time working and no time galavanting around armed with a camera. I wrote those columns whose deadline loomed, answered a handful of blog comments, and otherwise minded doctor's orders to do nothing other than take it easy…which hasn't been at all easy. 

I feel pretty good, and maybe that's the problem. Not that I want to feel bad. But forcing myself to be inactive is tough—even when I know it's for my own good.  Especially now, in late summer.

As Ecclesiastes so wisely notes, "To everything there is a season." This is certainly true for me. Different seasons call for different activities, which in turn cultivate different moods and mindsets. Spring prompts renewed vigor, activity-filled days of eager, vernal rediscovery. Autumn means preparedness, taking stock, reaping the harvest, getting ready, saying your long farewell. And summer? Well summer is for languidly savoring the slow lush turn, finding the honey tree and sipping its sweet nectar. 

Forced inactivity, taking it easy indoors, is reserved for winter. For what I like to think of as Ursus Tempus, Bear Time. 

I can do Bear Time. Even enjoy it. I just can't do it in summer.  

Saturday, August 17, 2013


I'm confused. If we're now experiencing global warming, how come it was 56˚F when I got up this morning? Have I fallen through a time warp? Is it not now mid-August? The leaves are green, so it can't be October. Did aliens zap me in my sleep and spirit me off to Canada? 

Naaahhh, I just checked—I'm still in Ohio. Huh! And I was just about to get in the mood to go walleye fishing and maybe pick some wild blueberries for my pancakes.  

By rights, and past history, it ought to be in the sweltering mid-80˚s already, well on its way to heading somewhere north of the 90˚F mark by noon. I should have beads of sweat on my arms instead of goose bumps. And be dressed in shorts and flip-flops rather than long pants and a pullover. 

Cicadas should be ratcheting from the sycamores. Turtles ought to be sunning atop the riffle stones. And I'd expect the zinnias to be alive with flittering butterflies.

But no…just me and a great blue heron skulking the far side of the Cottage Pool. We seem to be the only living creatures braving the unseasonably chilly morning. Even Moon-the-Dog, after taking care of necessary business, gave her usual sprawling spot in the driveway a brief trial, then decided she'd rather sprawl inside the open doorway and keep watch over my outdoor goings-on from a more comfortable venue.

I'm seriously thinking of gathering an armload of sticks and building a fire in the woodstove.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Thought I'd better put up a quick post in case you wondered whether I'd fallen off the edge of the earth. In fact, I'm still going gung-ho with the building projects and home repairs. Plus we've had family visiting from South Carolina.

So far I've finished an outdoor table and a couple of benches, along with the pair of sturdy sawhorses. I still have another larger table, a couple of smaller ones, and at least one more bench to go—with a few other similar items being muddled around in the back of my mind. Simple stuff, though there always seems to be a tool or piece of material—a longer 5/16 inch drill bit, another 1"x4"—needed to do the job, necessitating a run to the hardware or home-improvement store. 

The other day, Myladylove and I decided to take care of a leaky sink drain in the kitchen. All we planned doing was disconnect the pipe below the sink, remove and clean the fitting the strainer basket sets in, then put on new sealant and re-seat. Simple. A half-hour, tops. We began at noon.

However, as is too often the case with plumbing jobs, one thing led to another. We finished sometime after midnight, having disconnected and reworked every inch of pipes and fittings, from sink to the outlet leading to the septic tank—had suffered various injuries, had a couple of minor fights, were sore, hungry, filthy, and exhausted. But the drip was fixed.

BTW, the swallowtail butterfly on the magenta zinnia pix was made yesterday—a "grab" shot as I was coming inside for another tool to finish my bench.   

Thursday, August 8, 2013


Well, I not only completed my new set of sawhorses yesterday, I also managed to finish a sturdy outdoor table designed to hold my smallest grill—the one I use when doing a couple of steaks or a few kebobs—at a more convenient cooking height.

I think I'm on a roll!

Unfortunately, this morning's sky is overcast and threatening rain, so I may not be able to take advantage of any lingering momentum. And tomorrow, family members will be arriving for a visit. So who knows when I'll be able to get back to my outdoor construction projects.

However, I've already had a breakfast omelet, two cups of coffee, and a banana, plus I've written the column which I usually write on Friday. In addition, a jaunty song sparrow just took center stage atop the rose briar beyond my workroom window and delighted me with a brief but boisterous serenade.

Whether I get much else accomplished or not, I already count the day a success!   

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


Skipper butterfly (European?) on Self-Heal.

Yesterday, before afternoon showers drove me inside, I worked on building a pair of good, heavy-duty sawhorses because the commercial ones I bought a few years ago are rickety and useless—in fact, dangerous. 

Power tool safety and accurate workmanship demands solid support. My father, master finish carpenter and artistic woodworker, would have agreed heartily. So would my grandfather Williams—more of a "country carpenter" than Dad, but still highly skilled and capable of crafting anything he needed, from an axe handle to house.

My do-it-yourself sawhorse design required lots measuring and figuring, due to their complicated angles and my desire to end up at the right overall height for ease of working. Then sawing to a pattern so legs and braces matched. What Dad or Grandpa would have knocked out in an hour took me several because I have nowhere near their expertise. 

I need the sawhorses because I've bought a truckload of materials and intend to build several outdoor tables, a grilling counter and work bar, two or three benches, maybe even a chair or two. For starters. Then, providing my confidence level is unshaken and I pass an honest self-evaluation of my capabilities, there are additional building plans beyond outdoor furniture—which may or may not come to fruition this summer. Available time, fickle weather, and the state of my aging carcass will all have their say on that matter. Not to mention finances. 

But regardless of how that works out, first things first…I need sawhorses.   

Monday, August 5, 2013


There are actually three turtles in this image…see the small soft-shell?

A couple of mornings ago I stepped onto the deck, glanced at the river, and noticed a couple of turtles sunning on a rock. That will make a nice photo, I thought, and took a moment to retrieve my camera.

One of the offshoot virtues of photography is that it compels you to look closer, pay better attention to details and scrutinize the scene before you. In doing this, you regularly spot things you've overlooked. 

That's what happened once I'd made a few shots of the two turtles above…I took the  time to really look at the rocks and riffle, and suddenly realized practically every suitable stone hosted a sunning turtle, sometimes two or three or more! Snappers, various soft-shelled, sliders. Turtles no bigger than a silver dollar and turtles way larger than a dinner plate. At least thirty turtles that I counted—possibly more!

Turtles, turtles everywhere!

There are four turtles in this image.