Milestones and Closure

Yesterday we paid another visit to E’s son’s grave.

Next we went to the county courthouse in Xenia to find out how to fill out the forms to change the gender marker on a birth certificate, which was a long-overdue legal milestone for Ohio (and for E, once the process is finally complete).

Then we revisited Peifer Orchards, this time with my camera!

To finish off, of course we adjourned to HQ, which was all decked out in Halloween mode.  Here is a Yellow Springs Brewery Moonmilk Stout.

Suburban Bedtime Story

Let’s see just how boring I can be without putting myself to sleep!

I mowed the lawn–it’s too easy in a typical suburban micro-yard.  I keep looking for more outdoorsy things to do, and there’s nothing.  Not even plants to photograph, other than these few fall stragglers.  I feel like a caged animal.  At least my evil bird-feeding scheme is starting to pay off.  There are actual birds here now–not many, but it’s a start.

Here we have an aster cultivar, a (nativar) chokeberry leaf, oak leaves turning, and my new bluebird house, awaiting house hunters.

Can’t complain.  I have a roof over my head (a new one at that, not the leaky one), and we can pay the bills, more than many folks can do.  And having a yard devoid of nature forces me to look closer and appreciate the tiny things.  And spend less money!  A few well-placed beneficial plants will go a long way here.

 

 

Unstaged

The fact that this post features mundane non-eventful accomplishments demonstrates that we are finally moving past the uprooting and unsettling aspects, and getting to the simply living stage.

Exhibit #1 is E’s first Challah-baking back in Ohio, and it’s better than ever.  And here are a cabinet and hinged shelf she made for the tiny laundry area, to make it more functional.  It doesn’t get more domesticated than that!

Here are some (nonnative, gasp) perennials blooming in the garden.  And here’s Misu lounging with The Skullies and her security incense bag (?!) in my office.

Last but not least, the moment you haven’t been waiting for–some rooms not in a state of chaos–but not staged either!  Pretty self-explanatory.

Misu can be seen presiding over her own personal “conservatory”.  She is a very finicky mistress.  You can tell who cracks the whip in this household.  She is also a ferocious watch-cat!

 

Indian Mound Reserve on Indigenous Day

We had another “reunion” today.  And this time I remembered to bring my camera!

It’s been like four years since we’ve been to Indian Mound Reserve, and what a difference our absence made!  Once again COVID had its upside, in that people had time to improve parks and visit them.  We found new and repaired bridges over the gorge, new boardwalks, stairways, and handrails, new trails connecting areas, and best of all, the waterfall over Massies Creek is now surrounded by a safe new walkway and overlooks.  The 1800s log cabin restoration has been completed.  Very impressive work.

We didn’t even get to the ancient Indian mound today, there were so many new trails to explore or save for next time.  This may be my new favorite park, after the Fen of course.

The last of the asters and goldenrod were lining the paths, and I even managed to get a photo of a large white puffball, somewhat the worse for wear.

 

 

Hedgehogs

I was reading an article about hedgehogs and why their populations are declining and endangered.  While we don’t have native hedgehogs in the US, the same issues affect all our wildlife.  This is particularly pertinent to living in a densely populated suburban or urban setting.  No matter how much you restore and protect your property’s natural biodiversity, what your neighbors do or don’t do directly affects your success.

Wildlife survival depends on corridors of natural habitats containing native plants for foraging, protection, and nesting.  When an animal is confronted with impenetrable walls or fencing, manicured lawns and overly trimmed, squared-off hedges, nonnative invasive plants that choke out beneficial food sources, pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, and machinery, this reduces safe passage, cover, and food.  We have created isolated desolate islands surrounded by danger to survival.

All life is interconnected and dependent on the habitats and food sources it evolved with, all the way up to the top of the food chain, us.  When the animal kingdom succeeds and thrives, so do we.  So when we eradicate or reduce these natural bridges and protections, we ultimately endanger our own survival.  As we overpopulate and overdevelop our remaining green spaces, we sabotage ourselves along with our fellow creatures.

Meanwhile, down here on our infinitesimal square footage of the planet, we watch in concern as ignorant neighbors overzealously rape and pillage what little vegetation is left, until it’s just a barren wasteland where no critter would dare to tread to get to a safe yard.  So what can you do?  All I can do is create a safe haven myself, with as many beneficial native plants and hiding places as possible, and whatever critters haven’t been killed or gone extinct will eventually find their way here.

 

 

 

Downsized But Not Downbeat

Thanks to local Ohio gov COVID mandates, instead of lines of unwashed masses at the Medicaid office, I was able to walk right in, have my documents scanned right away by a nice lady behind a shield, and get out unscathed in a few minutes.  Now I just wait a couple days to find out if I’m poor enough to get approved for Medicaid, so I can sign up for affordable health insurance that will cover major dental reconstruction. This is now my life as an old person!

Since so much time and headache were saved, we made an impromptu visit to the Narrows Preserve.  But of course once again I had forgotten to bring my phone, so I can’t post photos of the amazing, incredible mushrooms that happened to show up that day.  Wouldn’t you know it, we had our first sight of these huge white globes, masses of the vivid orange “shelves”, some round copper-colored ‘shrooms, and tiny round peach dots on a log.  My descriptions don’t do them justice.  Maybe next time I’ll remember my camera, and be lucky enough to find some specimens to post.

It’s just as well, because my old computer is aging and decrepit along with me, so it takes days(!?) for it to upload my photos to WP, instead of seconds, so it’s a major pain in the ass.  Conveniently, my old printer/scanner is also failing.  So after dental expenses I guess I’ll be replacing all the above.  Hopefully before I myself kick the bucket altogether!  Blah.  (Hence, “blahg”.)

Also without my camera, we had another “reunion”, this time at Siebenthaler’s Nursery, where I got a few plants, including one of my favorite native ferns, maidenhair.  I’ve managed to crank out a photo of it happily enjoying the rain in what will hopefully become my fern and native woodland ephemerals garden.

I’m going to include some “before” photos of our house and garden, to illustrate what I’m up against.  I’ve begun to clear some of the masses of exotic invasive honeysuckle, etc., and plant natives, nativars, and non-invasive perennials in their place.  I realize I’m compromising my own natives purist policy, but trying to keep to its spirit of restoring native habitat biodiversity as much as possible, given the limitations of the situation.  I’ve also hung several bird feeders from trees to encourage more birds to return to the area and find a safe haven.  And of course I have a little herb garden outside the back porch.

 

 

Grasslands, Groves, and Pond Life

Yesterday we returned to Charleston Falls and took a different loop to the pond.  We spotted three deer, a kingfisher swooping for fish, and this other large creature, who was kind enough to pose for me.  Of course I’ve included the famous cave, and some of the unique habitats and wildflowers of early fall.

I may have to curtail some photography for a while, as my old laptop is dying and malfunctioning.  It’s very difficult to upload my photos to my posts.  It’s frustrating, as this is one of my few “creative” outlets.  I’ll limp along with it as long as I can, until I can afford a new computer.  Other business, such as trying to get on Medicaid so I can afford urgent dental work, will have to come first.

To the 2.5 or so people who follow me, thanks for your patience!  I know how boring this “blahg” can be, as it’s mostly just a chronicle of my personal day-to-day journey to help me keep track of myself.  Somebody’s got to!  If you’re gracious enough to join me on the trail every now and then, I appreciate your company.

Imagine That

I don’t have photos to show for our latest “reunions” because I inexplicably forgot my phone the other day when we went to the YS laundromat.  So annoying.  You’ll just have to imagine Stony Creek Garden Center and Peifer Orchards.

The first is a lovely secluded parklike setting with exotic ducks and lots of tempting plants, which predictably ended up in my garden!  In between pleasant shop-talk, I scampered around excitedly grabbing herbs and “nativars” (varieties cultivated from native species).  I had to be dragged out of there!  (There are worse addictions.)

The second place is easy to picture, because I’ve taken so many photos there in the past.  It’s a farm store full of pumpkins, squash, gourds, apples, cider, fresh-grown veggies, homemade preserves, local honey and maple syrup, crafts, books, etc, etc.

Anyway, you’ll have to settle for goldenrod, one of the few natives growing in our yard, complete with busy pollinators, and Misu being her usual decadent, gorgeous self at her private luxury resort.

Ye New Bridge!

A return to John Bryan State Park (and Clifton Gorge) after so many years away would be significant and meaningful at any time, but this reunion was especially exciting and gratifying, because the state finally rebuilt the old crumbling bridge while we were gone!

Before we left Ohio, they had finally been forced to shut it down to foot traffic, making our favorite hiking loop impossible.  So when we rounded a bend in the trail this time and saw the beautiful new bridge in all its glory, we were overjoyed (especially E).  (Now if they could just rebuild the disgusting outhouse, our lives will be complete!)

Not only that, but many of the old disintegrating boardwalks and stairs had also been replaced and improved, so our hike past all the iconic natural landmarks in the cool, damp forest along the river was all the more enjoyable.  Here are some of the old familiar and new improved highlights.  So you see, something good came out of 2020.

Of course this called for a celebration at HQ (Ye Olde Trail Tavern), where we are now officially recognized as “regulars”!  This was a two beer occasion!  Appropriately enough, they had a Tröeg’s which hopped me up.  Pictured is the second, a Belgian, by which time I was properly schnockered (that’s how lightweight I’ve become)!  Yay Ye New Bridge!

The Challenge and Benefits of Small Spaces

I’ve been cleaning up the yard and garden beds, such as they are.  I’ve started to clear out some of the huge masses of invasive honeysuckle bushes along the back property line.  I planted some herbs and mixed lettuces and greens in a small  kitchen bed.  There’s not much to show yet, and the few flowers still blooming are mostly not native, of course, but I’ve included a few first photos.

I’m hoping to connect with likeminded natives groups and gardeners and do some swapping or buying of native wildflowers and trees.  It’s a minuscule yard, full of typical exotic invasives too numerous to totally eliminate, so I’ll have to be very selective and particular about the few natives I can add in.  At least it’s not a vast, overwhelming space like the last place, and the soil here is actual workable soil, not toxic cement.

The realty company has graciously entrusted me with the landscaping, knowing of my hort background, so even though it’s not our place, I can go ahead and improve it and make it more eco-friendly.  Say no more, and I’m off!