There’s a Hawk in Our Backyard!

Oh my, look at this majestic visitor to our yard!  But I’m worried that this beautiful hawk must be injured.  It showed up in our backyard tonight.  My pug, Zoe, was standing less than 2 feet from it, barking her little head off, and that’s how I noticed it.  It didn’t fly away, just sort of held its wings out and up, a little, to make itself look bigger.  The fact that it didn’t fly away, not even when I had to get awfully close to grab said hysterical pug makes me think maybe it can’t.

After I bodily carried two very interested dogs and one interested cat inside, I came back out and watched it for a while.  The hawk didn’t seem alarmed, per se, although after some time it walk/shuffled away a bit to shelter under our nearby Harry Lauder’s Walking Stick shrub.  It is still there now.

I tried calling the locally licensed wildlife rescuer after finding the number on the ODNR website but didn’t get an answer.  I also tried the local wildlife hospital’s number only to find it was the same one as the licensed rescuer, and they closed at 3:00 today.  I don’t want to injure or frighten this gorgeous creature through my ignorance and good intentions.  So I don’t know what to do other than wait until the morning and try the hospital/rescuer again.


Mini Reunion in Cincinnati, Ohio

Yesterday was wonderful.  After enjoying a ridiculously decadent brunch prepared by my husband (crab legs and a cheesy broccoli omelet!), I drove down to Cincinnati to visit one of my oldest friends, Liz.   I’ve known Liz since 2nd grade.  We grew up together in Cincinnati.  She’s now an art history professor at Syracuse University in New York .  It’s not too often that we are in the same state anymore, so I was not going to miss the opportunity to catch-up in person!

Liz was in Cincinnati for a memorial service/research trip centered around the artist Kataro Shirayamadani.  He worked for Cincinnati’s famous art pottery house, Rookwood, from 1887-1947.   His artistry was amazing, check out this close-up of a vase he decorated:

We met up at Aglamesis Brothers, an ice cream shop we used to frequent when we were in high school.  It was an old school ice cream parlor then, and nothing seems to have changed during the last 20 years!

After enjoying ice cream and coffee, I wanted to take Liz to Wooden Nickel Antiques, a favorite antique/architectural salvage store of mine that is in the heart of downtown Cincinnati.   (Visit them online at .)

Located right across the street from Music Hall, Wooden Nickel has amazing stock.  They carry some very high-end stuff, like over-the-top Cincinnati Art-Carved furniture, lovely antique bars, Eastlake furniture, lighting fixtures, and stained glass windows.  They have sold several pieces to the Cincinnati Art Museum.  They also carry architectural salvage and smaller bits like vintage hardware.   The staff is friendly, passionate, and knowledgeable, making time spent poking around the store time well spent!

Some of the treasures at Wooden Nickel…

Just some of the salvage and smaller items that reward closer inspection.

One of the antique bars they specialize in —just waiting to go in someone’s “Man Cave”, no? (Or better yet, in a lucky new bar, perhaps?)

The great thing is, the prices are really reasonable.  Yes, you will pay for the higher end stuff, but those prices are very fair for what the items are.  And the stock  is a mix of high and low.  My husband and I scooped up a pair of tall bookcases on our last visit to Wooden Nickel.  Salvaged from an old elementary school that was being demolished, they have leaded glass doors and a narrow footprint, perfect for our petite home.  And they were only a little more, price-wise, than it would have been to get a pair of Billy bookcases with added doors from Ikea.

Schoolhouse bookcase in our living room from Wooden Nickel.

Especially eye-catching to me this visit?  This carved Cheval Mirror has actually been in the store for a while and I’m still dreaming about it.  It is so pretty, and I love how the silvering is coming off a little.  I can’t afford it, but I can wish!

And if we’re really dreaming, what about this large fountain?  Salvaged from the lobby of another Cincinnati art pottery studio, Wheatley Pottery, before the building was demolished, this fountain is just amazing.  Wish my picture was better!

Glorious Wheatley Pottery fountain at Wooden Nickel Antiques. To me, this piece straddles Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts styles in an interesting way.  And the colors are fascinating: matte and yet somehow they have depth and seem almost luminous.  Imagine how it would look with water running down it!

Maybe if one of my readers were to purchase the fountain, I could get a discount on the mirror as commission??? 😛  Oh well, a girl can dream, anyway!

Summer Drought

This spring/summer the weather has been tough on our garden (much worse for local farmers).  Where I live, we are in the midst of the driest summer on record.  Also one of the hottest, with far too many days registering in the upper 90s and even lower 100s.  Normally our garden is one of my favorite things.  This year it kind of makes me want to cry.  But yesterday we got some much, much, much needed rain.  (Thank goodness.)  This morning I popped out to get some pics of things that are managing to survive the drought and the scorching heat in my yard.

We had some terrible wind a few weeks ago: gusts of 80 mph! Many of our sunflowers were uprooted. This one made it through. 🙂

My mother has given us several different perennial hibiscus plants for our garden. The flowers are large (maybe the size of a saucer or a salad plate) and gorgeous. I am amazed and delighted that something so showy and tropical looking is actually tough and easy to grow in our zone.

This native prairie plant has the best name: Rattlesnake Master! I love how fascinating its flowers are. Plus, being a prairie flower, it is holding up well against the extreme weather we’ve been having.

Neither my husband nor I can recall planting this —it seems to be a miniature variety of Black-Eyed Susan. Regardless of how it came to be in our yard, this lovely native plant is welcome and also holding up well.

These blackberries were one of the few things in our yard when we bought the place. Mostly we leave them to the birds (usually the birds get to them first!) but they are quite tasty.

Butterfly Bush in the backyard. I’ve seen so many insects and hummingbirds visiting this plant, I think it has been especially essential to the survival of many garden friends this summer.

Can’t say enough about how great Knock Out Roses are. These have taken quite a beating this summer and are still blooming —continuous blossoms since May, and they are so easy to care for —really great!

So while things aren’t quite where I’d like them to be, things are still hanging in and some even thriving.  Here’s hoping for a bit more rain the rest of this summer!

Carleton College in Northfield, MN

Northfield, MN is home to both St. Olaf and Carleton colleges.  Carleton’s campus was a very short walk from my hotel, the Archer House.  I walked around the campus a few times in the evening after being at my sister’s home for the day.  It was really lovely.  Also really empty because apparently not that many kids hang around during the summer!

I was quite taken with the steampunk stylings of Goodsell Observatory on  Carleton’s campus.

detail of front doors to Goodsell Observatory

view of Lyman Lakes

On one of the islands in the Lyman Lakes there was this wonderful medieval-style meditative labyrinth. It was so peaceful and relaxing to walk the labyrinth with only some nearby geese and wild rabbits for company!

Enter here!
How lovely would it be to add something like this to your yard? (okay, so I don’t have room for this in my yard, but someone must!)

Skinner Memorial Chapel, Carleton College

Carleton College is also home to Cowling Arboretum, an 880 acre arboretum.  It’s set up as more of a wilderness/native plantings/prairie sort of space and has an impressive trail system.  It is vast and lovely, and I only got to dip into it a little bit during this trip.  The mosquitoes were vicious and I didn’t have an repellent.  But back on a trip here in 2010 I had more time to roam around the Arb and it was memorable.  From that trip:

Northfield, Minnesota

While visiting my younger sister’s family in Apple Valley, I stayed in nearby-ish Northfield.  Apple Valley is part of the huge suburban Minneapolis sprawl.  The hotels there were charmless and expensive.  By driving 20 miles south, I was able to stay in the lovely small town of Northfield, where their motto is “Cows, colleges, and contentment.”  It was a nice drive through rolling fields and pastures to Northfield, which is home to 2 colleges:  St. Olaf and Carleton.  I stayed here, at the Archer House River Inn:

Cute, right?  Built in 1877, it sits right in the heart of downtown Northfield.  My room was modest but comfortable:

I’ll never understand wanting a huge hotel room.  You sleep, you shower.  Are you really going to lounge on that uncomfortable sofa or write a letter at that desk?  So for me, this was perfect:  clean, comfy bed, private bathroom, charming old building, reasonable price.  And my view?

My room looked out over the Cannon River, which runs parallel to the main drag through the old part of Northfield.  I sat on the river wall with my coffee and a pastry every morning before heading to Apple Valley, and at night, watching the sunset and listening to music coming from a nearby pub, the Contented Cow.  The inn sits at the tail-end of  a nice river walk along the Cannon that goes through the old part of town, well-maintained with plantings and benches.  It is heavily used, with a lot of people fishing or strolling along the walk every time I was out there.

For Minnesota, it’s an older town with some interesting Wild-West history:  it was a botched bank robbery in Northfield that signaled the beginning of the end for the James Gang.  As in Jesse James!  The old downtown area was bustling and a charming place to stroll around.

One evening, I happened across a free band concert in the town square:

This was my second trip to Northfield, and I’m sure I’ll come back to this welcoming and pretty town again!

Valley Lake Park in Lakesville, Minnesota

I recently visited Minnesota to see my younger sister and help her out a little following the birth of her second child.  Mostly I entertained my nephew so she could focus on the baby and get in a few much-needed naps.  He and I walked to a nearby park several times.

A portion of the park, looking from one of the trails towards the picnic shelter, beach, and playground.

My nephew and me, enjoying the trails.

He loved the playground.

To slide or not to slide???

Decision made!

Peering through a tunnel.

Roar! Who knew there was a monster hiding in the tunnel? 🙂

Even better than the playground was the beach!

The mallards were very bold. They must get fed a lot by other park visitors.

For the most part, my nephew was happy to just “look with his eyes” at the ducks, although when they’d come really close, he’d ask if he could hold one. That’d be a “no”, sorry!

A mama mallard with some babies we saw while using the trail.

Great fun!

Drying Wings

Goodness, what a summer so far!  Near-drought conditions, extreme heat, and then 2 wild inland hurricanes with golf ball sized hail and 80+ mph winds in 3 days!   Got power back yesterday night after being without for 4 days because of the storms.  It was 91 degrees inside our house when the power kicked back on again.  Luckily, a kind friend with power let my husband and myself plus our 5 dogs camp out at her home while we were without.

Last night, a little bit after the fireworks for the 4th of July celebrations in my town, it rained.  And not a crazed, tree-uprooting, street-light-knocking-over kind of rain.  Just a fairly normal rain.  Which was wonderful.  This morning I saw this butterfly sitting on one of our rose bushes, drying its wings.  Tenacious and optimistic for all of its fragility, I suspect I could learn something from this butterfly.