I don’t know why

I’ve enjoyed a snow day for my b day (Secretly I would have rather been at school. I had plans of great joy,), but something about the vast emptiness of Gobbler’s Knob made me a little sad.

It’s a silly thing to be sad for, but I’ve been in the huge crowd that froze their cojones off for a prophetic marmot.

Six more weeks of winter.

A Moment in Narnia

Walking in the woods when it’s snowing always makes me think of the book The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. The woods are especially quiet and it brings to mind the initial emergence into Narnia as snow falls onto pines surrounding a very out of place lamppost.

The winter hikes are not always quiet, hundreds of people participate. However on this one, we got moments of magical quiet.

Quiet perfect for getting distracted by shiny decorated bird nests. (Ignoring the fact that the bird is decorating with sucky people’s trash. It ruins the magic.)

“Winter” Hikes

We’re well into the winter hike series. However we still seem to be waiting for winter to make an appearance.

It has rained, moisted, and mudded.

This day there was ice, but only on the plants.

At least this year, I didn’t stress cry after sliding in my car to this hike. We actually got to try the soup: white bean soup topped with onions and cornbread. It was a very Gpa lunch.

If Ralph says, “Earth laughs in flowers.” It must send mixed messages in drizzle and low 40s. I haven’t even worn my hiking snuggie.

What are these caterpillars thinking?!

I’ve been holding off on this post because there was the real possibility that I would murder these five innocent yet obstinate swallowtail caterpillars. Their collective attitude makes monarchs seem simple and angelic. As of this writing, (November 26- this will probably publish later) everyone is in chrysalis and seem safe.

Everything I read about swallowtails indicated that they would form their chrysalis and overwinter. I was in the habit of getting out of my car and taking a caterpillar head count before even going in the house after work every day. However as we edged into the end of October and actual ice in our rain on Halloween night, these guys showed no sign of decamping the fennel plant for their winter homes. October20198

I fully panicked  on November 2, when I came home to find two of them heading inside dead leaves in the grass. Two more were still hunkered down at the base of the fennel where they had been days before; and for the love of Pete, IT WAS COLD!

I found a shallow styrofoam tray in the recycling, dug up a clump of curled parsley, and some un-frosted dill. Yes, we had had at least one frost by this time. What are these caterpillars doing?!

I bundled everybody up with the plants in the pop-up environment and relocated them to my unheated garage. I was afraid that the heat in the house would further mess with their tiny crawly instincts. Additionally, I could not find an article that would clearly tell me how to proceed. Heated house? Cold garage? Stop messing with shit? Who knew.

At any rate, everybody ramped up their activity level within an hour of being in the garage. I really thought one in the leaf was dead.

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November 2

However this arrangement lead to idiotic situations where I “needed to take my caterpillars for a walk.” I couldn’t just leave them in a dark, windowless garage all day! Plus the live plants needed the light as well. I would set them out in the sun and hope for the best before going to work every morning. There was one day where it turned extremely cold and rainy before I got home, and I found two of them curled up on the floor of the tent as if they had fallen.

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Miles gets it.

However the longer this went on, the more I worried about their time frame. I now theorize that reason that elementary classes use monarchs to raise and watch in the classroom is that monarchs follow a predictable timetable whereas apparently swallowtails do whatever the fuck they want. I’m not the boss of them!

Finally, I decided that maybe this was more about time than temperature. Everyone’s activity had slowed. One little guy had been in the same spot under the egg carton for days. Another had assumed what I considered the pre-pupal J position, but was not moving forward. I could see the anchoring silks near all of their heads and bums. Around November 10, I decided to bring them into the house to see if warmer environment helped to speed things along. Again, I could not find helpful articles that really spelled out what to do so this was just me rolling the dice. (Potential murderess  here!)

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Success came on November 16 and 17. One by one, I discovered them in chrysalis. The one on the stick was the first to go. However this is where I cut our ties. Some articles suggested keeping the chrysalis in unheated garages and even your refrigerator, but they also said that some swallowtails have stayed in chrysalis for over a year! I cannot maintain this level of stress or caterpillars in my fridge for over a  year. Also between climate change and Ohio’s multiple personality weather patterns, who knows what these guys will decide to do.

The one on a stick is firmly planted in a bush where I can see it. The other four are sheltered in a styrofoam and egg carton “hut” that gives some ventilation and an exit strategy if they decide to emerge on one of our freaky high 50’s “winter” days. Hopefully, predators and weather will let all five survive until late spring. Keep ya’ posted!

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November 16- 17

Dog Day. Done.

During last year’s hikes, we learned that “Dog Day” at Battelle Darby was the climactic finale! That means hotdogs not canines although there were a fair number of those at this hike. I think a lot of that knowledge was acquired by being sucked into conversations with old dudes who were excited for the meal ahead. Each park has a standard menu that repeat hikers have come to anticipate. For me, the Highbanks pancakes were a great surprise, but the chicken and noodles with a biscuit at Blendon Woods were amazing!

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Battelle Darby Dog Day

The day of our last hike was dreary, but it wasn’t raining. At about 40 degrees, I was able to forgo my hiking snuggie and put on a slightly lighter coat. Compared to the previous hilly and snow covered hikes, this trail was delightfully too easy: flat, wide, and muddy. Admittedly we only did the 2 mile option when we could have chosen 4 or 6 miles.

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I think I take a picture of this oak tree every time I’m here.

These winter hikes are  good motivators to get outside, but the Ohio winter palette of gray on gray on blaaaahhhhh is brutal. I don’t know what time of day it is half the time because it always looks like evening.

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There was a certain celebratory air to this hike, at least in my mind. The hiking was casual, there was a hot chocolate station and fire at the 2 mile point, and a mounted officer from the sheriff’s department was there. We celebrated seeing a horsie!

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I surmised that the officer was there to monitor the crowds gathering to observe the buffalo just in case anyone decided to be a jackass. We discussed the “nerdy” buffalo “haircuts” and tried to find the boy buffalo in the herd. There is usually one male, but we did not find any buffalo balls.

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The real celebration was back at the starting point, cashing in our hole punched hike cards to select a stick! We had no idea that there would be such a variety to choose from. The sticks were different lengths and weights, but also different woods: oak, hickory, cherry , plum, persimmon, and elm among others. I chose a hefty hickory stick.

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We were also able to purchase that year’s metal medallion and have it attached on the spot. Ironically, the medallion featured the  Clear Creek park which was the worst hike for me this year. My map app decided that I need a tour of unplowed, unsalted, slick, narrow country back roads which had me in anxiety based tears by the time I made it to the park.

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WE GOT STICKS! Part of me is like “Mission accomplished. We never have to do this again.” It really was a huge weekend time commitment which then led to a number of naps and my Saturdays, sometimes Sundays would disappear. Plus if you missed a weekend hike, you were supposed to make it up another day on your own….without soup.

However another part of me, the part that likes the thrill of the hunt and collecting is like “This stick could use another medallion.

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Adventure Buddy got her stick!

Squirrel-cicle

I’m home because the weather has promised temperatures of -25 with wind chill. My weather app suggests the possibilities of -40.  Yet this little guy/gal/critter was happily nomming away at bird seed this morning with the heated bird bath readily available for sips. The frozen rims have the bath looking a bit like a margarita for my outdoor guests.

Having filled up, I saw him bound across the street through gusts of snow towards the next feeder.dscf3767

Take a Hike

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Sharon Woods: Winter Hike Series

This weekend Ohio decided that it was winter. Weather apps flashed scary red triangles. Everyone ran to the grocery store Friday night. Life went on.

By hiking time Saturday morning, it was cold; but the snow was only a constant dusting slowly accumulating into something bigger. I had thought that the temperature drop and the threat of snow might weed out the hikers, but I still had to park .6 mile (yes, I measured when I drove out) away from the starting point. I definitely got three plus miles in walking.

I used Saturday’s hike as an opportunity to test drive my winter hiking fashion find. The good people at Zulily.com swear it’s a dress, and on their stick thin models I was willing to believe that claim. On me, it’s a glorified Snuggie and I love it. Hooded, giant kangaroo pocket, and maxi length with slits up the side just in case I really want to put on dress boots and pretend I’m dressed for work. It’s also a million percent polyester, so it just generates its own heat. This “dress” completely solved the problem where everything covered by my coat is warm, but the wind still blows up under the back side of the coat, chilling my butt. I assure you my booty was toasty.

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Bittersweet

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Saturday’s hike ended with a cup of bean soup and a cornbread muffin. It’s a simple thing but the treat at the end of each hike is gratifying. The volunteers and rangers are helpful and happy, and there’s usually a fire to cuddle around. I took a hot chocolate for my hike back to my car.

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Prairie Oaks Metro Park

By today, Sunday, the snow really did come in as predicted. I think we got about 4-5 inches. However, the roads were clear for the afternoon hike, and the park was packed with people. The most evident non-human life were the geese in the middle of the lake yelling about all the dogs on the walk, and some vibrant lichen on a bridge.

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I don’t know how to ski, but I suspect that cross country skis would have been really handy today. Even before the 2 o’clock start time, the snow on the paths was solidly packed and slick. I spent my alleged 3 miles (I think it was longer) slipping, penguin walking in little shuffles, and trying to jump into unpacked snow on the sides without also slipping into a lake.

It was a hungry, cold relief to make it to the end. The Prairie Oaks hike always makes a really thick chicken noodle soup, and from the looks of the crock pots, Adventure Buddy and I got the last two steaming, glorious cups.

Only 10 more hikes to go.

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Resolutions: Birdie

Today was the first winter hike if mud, standing water, and 48 degrees means winter. Last year during this hike, it was so cold my phone shut off. The warm weather brought EVERYONE out. It was kind of a shoulder to shoulder hike in the woods.

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Today was also National Bird Day. Avian awareness, y’all! I told the Evil Bird that it was National Bird Day. And she was like “Of course it is!”

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No, no, I saw feathered birds. Some chickadees, nuthatches, tufted titmouse, downy woodpeckers, and red bellied woodpeckers. Birdie is actually named Birdie because of her woodpecker-like chirps.

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To quote Bill the Cat, “THHHBBBPPPPTTTT!”

Anyway… she resolves to continue to give everyone shit, and to continue her love affair with my comforter.

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This app gets me!

We had a snow day this week. I had visions of maybe catching up on grading. Olivia Wigglebothum had visions of me entertaining her.

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I had just texted MomBert that I was going to go get a kitten so Olivia would chew on it instead of me, when I checked my profanity laden weather app.

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I do need a fucking kitten! This app totally gets me.

#Caturday

 

DIY OH WHY: HAT MATH

Dear kids,

I swear to you that as a basic, everyday, human being THIS is the only math you are ever going to use aside from the basics to pay your bills and shit, or maybe to figure out percentages to find out the sales price of leather boots and to figure out a decent tip so you’re not an asshole to the food service industry.

You will use geometry. The end. (Ok, maybe some algebra for some ratios or to solve for x when y is a box of wine but mostly geometry. )

Because someday you will want buy enough paint to cover your walls without making 5 trips to Lowe’s in one day. Or you will want new carpet, or to figure out just how big your yard is or how much paver patio you can afford because, no matter what, it costs 5 million dollars and barely fits two chairs.

Or you might want to sew something.

Like a hat.

A hat that is two basic geometric shapes: a circle and a rectangle. You are definitely going to need the circumference of that circle for this to work out.

Directions sort of: Two sizes are pictured below. I have a giant head (Gma said my mom had to sit in the bathtub a lot after I was born. Ick.) I use the 8 1/2″ circle diameter for myself. People with “normal” heads, whatever that means, seem happy with the 7 3/4″. The formula is the circumference of the circle which you need to know for your rectangular piece. For my size I cut a rectangle that is 27 (the circumference) x 18.” The 18″ gets folded and all seams are sewn to the circle. I like my circle to be a different fabric from, but complimentary to the fabric of the rectangle.hats1

Math, I’m pretty sure it’ll rot your teeth. That might be meth. Both are bad. Don’t do them.

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Sultry, serious hat model.

Math will only do things like reveal that your years have added up enough to have reached some irrational point of losing things.

Things I have lost recently:

  • Not weight-see cupcakes
  • Two cupcakes. I found them in the garage.
  • My mind.
  • A big wooden necklace.
  • Just about any tool/utensil/item that I was just using a second ago. I swear I haven’t even moved. How could this be lost?
  • My favorite hat.
  • At least one of the new hats I made to replace my favorite hat. New hat last seen on my head on January 4 after yoga.

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Hat last photographed January 4, 2018. Please come back, hat.

I started doing math because I lost my favorite winter hat. It was a burgundy fleece (last photographed hunting for sheds)that I bought on a road trip in New Hampshire. It coordinated with everything, didn’t mess my hair up…much, and could be easily shoved into pockets or purses as needed. It was pure class, at least when your standards of classiness are as low as mine.

One minute, I didn’t need a hat, the next we were having a real winter and my ears were cold. Out of necessity, I crafted.

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December 2016

The brown gecko hat gets me knowing nods and “What up’s” from old ladies. Like legit senior citizens. I don’t know what it means, but the hat makes them happy.

True to my project history, I accumulated a ton of supplies-fleece!- last winter and promptly got bored with the whole thing. However the hat crafting urge came back with a vengeance this winter. Everybody who was likely to wear one, got a hat sometimes two.

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