Entries to Win Afghan

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Monday, April 30, 2018

Rock House and Conkle's Hollow

Today's weather was about as perfect as it gets, and Marie and I went to two other rocky places here in the Hocking Hills. I'd seen the first one long ago. It was as spectacular as ever. It's called Rock House, and is one of the many hanging wall caves in the area except that it has columns which remain at the front. Here's the access.

Rock House, Hocking Hills, Ohio

I'll show you two views of the inside. First is with the light on the rocks. The tunnel you're looking down is parallel to the face of the cave.

Rock House, Hocking Hills, Ohio

In this one, the picture shows better how the light comes in through the portals. You can see a few people standing in there for scale.

Rock House, Hocking Hills, Ohio

It's been a popular spot for a long time. Native Americans used it, and as much as I don't like all the graffiti, the soft sandstone has been irresistible to lovers and ego-trippers. Here's the earliest date that I found that I was sure I was reading correctly, 1857.

Rock House, Hocking Hills, Ohio

Then we drove a few miles to Conkle's Hollow Nature Preserve. First we walked the gorge trail to the waterfall. The picture doesn't do it justice. We could walk right up under the falls which came from much higher than the free-fall at the end. The colors in the rock walls and the play of light was awesome.

Conkle's Hollow, Hocking Hills, Ohio

After that we walked the Rim Trail, which stayed above the gorge beyond the head of the waterfall and back. One of the neatest sights there were these rocky outcroppings from the treeline. It was a lot like hiking in the Trap Hills of Michigan. We looked ahead to this vista point.

Conkle's Hollow, Hocking Hills, Ohio

When we got there we looked back and saw where I'd taken the previous picture from.

Conkle's Hollow, Hocking Hills, Ohio

Of course, we went and found ice cream after our hikes.

We are seeing plants and birds and interesting things to share by subject later. Neat trip!

See TrailFest 2018
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Sunday, April 29, 2018

TrailFest 2018

Just a couple of pictures tonight. We are getting sorted out and I have to write my newspaper column yet. The joint Buckeye TrailFest and North Country Trail Celebration began Wednesday night and ended today, at Camp Oty'Okwa near Logan, Ohio.

Some of the treats were Buckeye State cookies with a blue blaze. Perfect.

cookie in the shape of the state of Ohio with a blue Buckeye Trail blaze

The camp is owned by Boys and Girls Club, and is a really nice facility. This is the Activity Hall.

activity hall Camp Oty'Okwa

In the dining hall there's a beautiful double-sided fireplace. The speaker is our National Park Service Superintendent, Mark Weaver, explaining something.

dining hall Camp Oty'Okwa

One afternoon we had a gear demonstration by a representative from Backpacker Magazine. He was a good guy and interacted with us all weekend.

Backpacker demonstration Camp Oty'Okwa

Marie and I camped for the duration of the conference, but had decided to get a motel for tonight. However, when we asked the camp director where we might find a nearby motel that wasn't a big chain, he said we could stay in one of their cabins (until Wednesday) for a very reasonable price- only four dollars more than camping at the state park! Well. We are not stupid. We have heat (freezing nights here), shower, hot and cold running water, a kitchen, bathroom, and internet.

Gotta stop now and write, but I have lots of neat stuff to share.

See 2017 NCTA Celebration
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Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Not a Day Over 70

OK, tomorrow, I'll be a day over 70, not today yet, haha. Ester is a few days and a few years behind me. Mr. Bullfrog popped up to wish us the best. I wonder if it's the exact same frog I showed you last year from this pond.


Ester and I went to celebrate at her favorite restaurant. You've been there with us before. It's called Riverlake Inn.

Riverlake Inn

Really fancy food. Ester had rack of lamb

rack of lamb at Riverlake Inn

I had the French Cut pork chop. Both of us brought about half our food home for tomorrow.

French cut pork chop at Riverlake Inn

Afterwards we walked their bluebird trail. It's always been too wet when we were there together before. Saw quite a few birds (no bluebirds), but didn't get decent pictures. On the way home we saw a herd of about 20 deer and a sandhill crane. Also a shrub that I couldn't ID from the seed pods, so there's a mystery for another day.

We had a great time. It's fun to celebrate a birthday with someone else.


See Last Minute Details
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Monday, April 23, 2018

I Found Spring

I found spring, and Ester.

Her lawn is ablaze in color! Siberian Squill

siberian squill

A purple corydalis

purple corydalis

Another wild squill- pretty sure this is what that sad little white thing in my rock garden is supposed to look like.

wild squill

And daffodils, of course.


Inside, it was salad season. Check out the nifty old bowls. We fancied it up with walnuts, dried cherries and bleu cheese. Perfect! I made it here not too much later than I had hoped, but now I'm beat. That's OK. It's all good and I'm on my way.


See Yellow Corydalis
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Sunday, April 22, 2018

On the Move

I think this big fellow was on the move in search of love, which is not my motive! Nevertheless, I'll be heading out tomorrow. I hope to be able to blog while on the road, but if it doesn't happen, I haven't forgotten you... just having trouble with finding electric or access. Southern Ohio can be spotty.

wild turkey

The car is cleaned and the books are packed- the important stuff, right? I have a ton of books with me, but I'd rather have too many than run out. The gear is still strewn all over the living room, but it will go in the car in the morning.

packed car

There are still too many things on my TO DO list, but I'm whittling it down.

Spring may actually be making an appearance. I dried clothes outside and found a couple of rock garden remnants giving it the old college try. I'm sad at how pathetic the rock garden is now, but I'd rather travel. I'll enjoy other people's pretty gardens.

miniature daffodill


Tomorrow night, I'll be at Ester's! Let the fun begin. I'm not sure how much writing will happen over the next two weeks, but I worked really hard from January through April, so I'm not setting any production goals till I get home. This trip is about having a good time and selling books.

See Turkey!
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Saturday, April 21, 2018

Commence Level Five

First day of level five- Joan the Author! It came in with a whimper because I had to get up without enough sleep after last night. Now I feel like you-know-what, but I'm going to bed very early with the hopes of being able to operate at rocket speed tomorrow.

You saw the little notebook that I purchased over a year ago to replace the level four one. Today I ordered a new messenger bag. I won't have it right away. I had it shipped to Loretta's and I'll pick it up there on my trip because I'm leaving Monday. Yikes! That's why I need rocket speed tomorrow. Anyway, with careful shopping, I think I've got myself a really nice leather messenger bag for a very reasonable price. This is my retirement/birthday present to myself. I think it looks like it cost about twice what I paid. This is just the online picture.

It's smallish- but big enough to fit a clipboard. That was critical. And it will contain those pesky things that are too big and numerous to stuff in pockets, and tend to slither away when stacked on the clipboard.

leather messenger bag

Here's why I needed it. On the way out the door this morning, I was struggling to find a bag in which to put my little notebook, checkbook, clipboard, etc. I've totally finished off two book-backpacks at the most recent job. They were both already well-used when I put them into service at the paper, but between the dirt and rough handling at the Daily News, one is completely done- trash can level.

The other was already beyond looking good enough to look professional. It's still OK for some things. It was actually a good-quality backpack that I bought at the beginning of level four- grad school. But I've repaired it several times and replaced the main zipper once. It's great when filled with books, but is just an off-balance wad when filled with odd-sized things. And filthy. Not going to give me a professional look. And that's a look on which I need all the help I can get. My favorite small tote bag is also beyond hope for looking good. Needs repair, badly stained and beat up. Diagnosis- new bag time. One good enough to make me look and feel more like I know what I'm doing.

I had also purchased, in the middle of level four, a Duluth Trading Post Engineer's bag. I really liked that, and carried it a LOT, but the canvas gets dirty and some of the hardware wore out. I still store some things in it, but it's also beyond professional.

I'm hopeful this new purchase will stay cleaner. I carefully avoided any canvas or polyester exterior surfaces because we know what I can do to them. A little treatment of the leather on occasion should keep this looking good.

So where was I going this morning? Out to the Shagway Arts Barn to do paperwork for the current season and spend a couple hours with cleanup and organization. Enough people showed up that we really got things in pretty good shape.

Shagway Arts Barn

Shagway Arts Barn

It's ready for artists to start bringing their items in for display. I'll do that when I get home from this trip.

Now it's back to bed. Groan... but I am cheered by knowing that there won't be any more Saturdays like this!

See A Piece of the Next Level
See The Road Ahead to Level Five
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Friday, April 20, 2018

One More Shift

It's starting to feel real. I have ONE more shift to work and I'm officially done with being a newspaper mailroom "lead bundler" (almost typed lead bungler!), and will start being a full-time author.

retirement cake with camper trailer

I asked if I could do the final run tonight instead of my trainee. Yes. I get to go out with a last hurrah! Everybody at work was super nice. They gave me a party. Omer brought Omer-style salad (green M&Ms). There were brats and salads and cake. The little banner is a gift from SIL Loretta (she wanted me to open her gift at the party, and also sent a cool t-shirt).

camping trailer cake and banner

Here's a link to a video on Facebook of me opening my other presents. It was perfect. They got me peanut butter and pickles because that is my favorite sandwich and they've watched me eat several hundred of them by now. The rest of the staff even contributed to the meal with brats and chips. That was pretty special- usually the mailroom folks just do their own thing.

So, here's a nice neat view of the mailroom under operation. It's been a good place to work.

newspaper mailroom

And Michelle, who is taking over for me. Hopefully we've done the training well enough that the transition will go smoothly. I've sure tried.

newspaper mailroom bundling papers

The drivers mostly said last goodbyes because we generally only see a few of them Friday nights. Most of the papers get stacked on the dock (unless things go horribly wrong, and we don't wish for that tonight!) I like to think I've improved relations between the mailroom and the drivers while I've been there.

This is possibly the longest I've ever kept any one job, except for being self-employed. I'll miss the people for sure. Thanks for the memories. Tomorrow I'm reborn with a different definition.

See First day in the mailroom, December 2012
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Thursday, April 19, 2018

Anything But White!

Today was one of those days where many many little things didn't go so well. One of which was not getting home from work till almost 5 pm. But this blog is about the good things.

So, hey! The snow is actually and finally melting bigtime.

It was warm enough and golden-lit enough that the birds came out at sunset and tried to do a little singing. Here's a robin. Nothing spectacular, but I'll take it!

robin in a mulberry tree

And the cloud cover lifted a bit too, allowing us to have a nice pastel sunset.

pale orange sunset

Two more work shifts and I'm done! Can you believe that? Have I actually announced this here? I can't seem to find that I did. I'm officially going to be a writer, and no more wrestling bundles of papers around. Leaving Monday on a trip. SO much to do before then...

In other news: I didn't accomplish a single thing after I got home, and I'm going to bed early. So there.

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