Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Vote for Maggie!

My little Maggie is entered in the Cutest Dog Competition. Grand prize is $1,000,000, and if she wins, she'll be donating a goodly portion to Tamarack, Audubon and other environmental and animal welfare groups. So please go to the website daily and vote for her until the contest is over. Your help is greatly appreciated!
(copy and paste since I don't know how to link these things!) Wait! I just realized that somehow, quite by accident, I linked the title of this article to the website where you can vote for her!

You can view the video of her dozing in the canoe:

For those of you who never met Maggie, here is a short biography of her. I adopted her through a small breed rescue on the internet in 2001. She came from Michigan and was turned over to the rescue group by her former people who decided to get larger dogs...maybe this is why she is so frightened of big dogs and goes on the offense when she encounters one! She suffers from epilepsy and is on phenobarbital.

She is 13 years old now, but still goes hiking, bicycling and canoeing with me, just not as often and not in bad weather anymore.
All the dogs in the competition are cute, but we all must admit that Maggie truly IS the cutest!! Thank you for your daily votes!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Summer in the park

My father raised me to appreciate all sorts of music. I grew up listening to Glenn Miller, 101 Strings, Pittsburgh Symphony, barbershop quartets (my favorite album as a kid was one by the Buffalo Bills...NOT the football team, the quartet who sang Lida Rose in "Music Man"), Doris Day. I advanced through the years to Peter,Paul&Mary, Herb Alpert, The Association, Blood,Sweat&Tears, Chicago, Nilsson, Manhattan Transfer, Willie Nelson, Jimmy Buffett and even a bit of Frankie Valli (Can't Take My Eyes Off You). During my high school years, my friend Mary and I were the number one groupies for a group from our school called the Wellingtons. Joe, Rick, Jimmy, Kenny and Bob were idolized by us, and we followed them from gig to gig around western Pennsylvania to sit moon-eyed in their presence! We spent my birthday for several years' running at the big 4th of July community picnic at Kiwanis Park where the highlight of my day wasn't the fireworks, but when the Wellingtons broke into the Beatles' "Birthday." (Photo of the Wellingtons, ~1969, July 4th Kiwanis Park, Glenshaw, PA) Of course, we finally got past the teen idol stage, and the guys in the group moved on to the rest of their lives around the country. In fact, at our high school reunion last year, I learned that Kenny actually pursued his career in music and worked with some big names in the rock industry. Mary and I scraped the money together to go to the Chicago concerts, and I once blew off a day of work to see some of the members of Blood, Sweat and Tears at a promotional appearance at a store in Pittsburgh. I saw ShaNaNa in concert in Pittsburgh, Manhattan Transfer at Chautauqua Institute, and Jimmy Buffett, the king of the live concert tours, at Blossom in Ohio and Star Lake in Pittsburgh. Summer concerts became a tradition for me since my teen years...a tradition that carries through to today.

My parents discovered the concerts on the lawn at Edinboro University back in the 1980s. The Concert Band of Northwest Pennsylvania, directed by John Fleming (who became my boss at Baron-Forness Library in the 1990s), offered a series of summer concerts that featured marches, popular, classical, circus and other varied music genres. I often attended these evening concerts, sitting in the shade of the big maples on campus enjoying the glorious sounds wafting over the audience as the sun lowered in the sky. During my years working with John in the Audio Visual Room, part of my duties included assisting with the clerical tasks for the Concert Band. John also founded the Band Camp for Adult Musicians, with which I was also involved alongside the CBNP. The climax of the week-long Camp was a concert in Memorial Auditorium. Wonderful music in small-town Pennsylvania, drawing musicians from across the US and even as far away as Australia. Charlie and I moved to Tidioute two years ago in 2007. It was an hour's drive to Meadville for the CBNP concerts in Diamond Park; they repeated the concerts that were held in Edinboro at the park in Meadville, to carry their music to a wider audience. Since I don't drive far at night because of poor night vision, I wasn't able to attend many of their concerts any more. But last summer we discovered that the Titusville Council on the Arts sponsors a series of Monday Night Concerts in the Park in Scheide Park, Titusville. When I saw that my favorite bluegrass band, Generic Grass, was scheduled for a concert in June, 2008, I went. And that was how I discovered the Monday series and some of the wonderful bands that the TCA brought to the gazebo in the park. My brain gears engaged: if I can't get to the CBNP concerts, maybe I could bring a CBNP concert to me. I contacted the TCA and after a little coaxing, and going-between messaging, we finally brought them to Titusville this past Sunday.

Along with the Band came Tr

"Trudy is a band organ built by David F. Wasson who plays euphonium in the Concert Band. It is similar to automatic organs built during the first part of the 20th century that were used to provide music at fairgrounds and other outdoor events. Many organs of this type are given names, this one is named after David's grandmother. The tuning system used on this organ is based on a type used by pipe organs about 300 years ago. This lets the organ play well in seven major keys and three minor keys. Construction of this organ began in 1985. The sound and appearance of this organ has changed over the years as new pipe work has been built and added. With a few exceptions, all of the music is arranged by Mr. Wasson, and is punched into paper rolls on a automatic music roll perforator of Mr. Wasson's design and construction." (JZFleming)

Although I had been to Titusville on Sunday and didn't plan on going back over right away, the next day a friend invited me to bicycle with her on the Oil Creek Bike Trail. Since it was Monday, and time for another Monday Night Concert in the Park, I figured we could make an afternoon and evening of it. We biked the trail in the afternoon, met Charlie at Perk Place for dinner, then hied over to Scheide Park for a concert by the Loose Change Band, a country group out of Erie that was back by popular demand. Hundreds of people sat in their lawn chairs eagerly anticipating the start of the concert when we arrived. As I hunkered down in my chair, Charlie said, "That drummer looks like Dan. Get his picture." (I was there with the camera to take some shots to send to the TCA.) As I rounded the gazebo shooting photos, I finally made it around to the drummer, who looked up, flashed a big grin and nodded "hi" to me. Yes, it was Charlie's cousin Dan! Small world, eh?

Well, we are only partially through summer, with a lot more concerts coming up. In two weeks we'll be back over at Scheide for the Top Cats, a group out of Indiana, PA, who play music from the 50s, 60s and 70s. We heard them last year and I was so excited when they played many of the old songs that the Wellingtons played that I called Mary in Ft. Wayne and held the phone up for her to hear the music. Yes, Mary and I had come full circle, mooning over the music of our youth that has lasted through the years to become the classics of our generation.

Monday, July 6, 2009

4th of July Woodland "Fireworks"

Charlie and I had guests this weekend who came to camp in our yard and paddle with us. We paddled sections of the Allegheny River, but several of us took the middle day (the 4th) off from paddling to tour the Newbold Estate and hike Anders Run through the Big Trees. Here is my account of our adventures:

Up here in the north (Warren & Forest Co.), we have rhodies in good bloom, not at peak yet, but still looking great. We paddled the Allegheny River from Tionesta to President on Sunday the 5th and saw many in bloom on river-left, the eastern side of the Allegheny. Also in bloom now are the flowering raspberries to add a colorful accent to the riverbanks. We saw three mature Bald Eagles near River Forks below the confluence of Tionesta Creek and the Allegheny.

On Saturday the 4th several of us hiked the Newbold Estate and Anders Run. It was exciting to see the progression of the spring wildflowers: seed cases dangling from Solomon's Seal, apples on the Mayapples, berries developing on the Canada Mayflowers, still some blossoms on the partridgeberry, seeds on the yellow violets. Lots of shinleaf in bloom as well as Indian pipes everywhere in the damp leaf mold, dainty yellow whorled loosestrife, and wintergreen in bud. We also found some fungi, the highlight of which was a white coral fungi, name unknown. At the Stone House in the Hollow we found a sleeping bat. What a photo op that was, since it was at shin level. And of course we concluded with a hike through the big trees of Anders Run!

With a break for lunch in Warren, it was a perfect way to spend my birthday!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Trailside in June on the Tanbark

What do we see when we walk in the woods? Trees? Rocks? Lakes and streams? All those spectacular segments of the scenery we enjoy so much during our hikes and floats. And of course those endearing and colorful blooming wildflowers that we all love so. But when the spring wildflowers drop their petals and the woodland turns back to varying shades of dappled green, what is there to see?

More wildflowers, that’s what! Although the color has shifted to the fields and roadsides, we can still see wildflowers in the woodlands. I took a walk on the Tanbark Trail in the Allegheny National Forest with friends and was thrilled to notice the advancing progress of the wildflowers. Now that they are done blooming, the real work begins. Petals drop and the pollen is sending its tiny tubes from the stigma through the style to those precious eggs in the ovary. Ovaries begin to swell as the eggs develop, and future berries, nuts and seedheads begin to take form.

So among the hues of green and the dapples of sunlight lies the miracle of life.

Clintonia, goldthread, trillium, starflower, Indian cucumber-root, Canada Mayflower, bunchberry, blueberries, orchids, Solomon’s seal: all the resplendent May bouquets are fulfilling their destiny as others begin the journey: emerging Indian pipe and mountain laurel begin their blossoming amid seedling maples and oaks. See how many you can pick out in the photos. (And notice the green-ghostly presence overseeing the pallid Indian pipes.)

Thursday, June 4, 2009

June at Burgeson Wildlife Sanctuary

I returned to Burgeson Sanctuary yesterday with my friend Ness and did a bit of June botanizing. This place is really impressive. Wide, easily walked trails took us through a variety of habitats and we were able to see wildflowers in bloom ranging from the common daisy to the pink lady-slipper. In addition to the flowers, we were delighted to see numerous pairs of eyes popping up through the duckweed on the ponds--green and bull frogs singing to the evening breeze.

I had the pleasure of meeting Gib Burgeson, for whom the sanctuary is named, many years ago at the Allegany Nature Pilgrimage (which was one of his numerous projects). A distinguished botanizer, he loved sharing his own love of nature with others. His efforts at education and land conservation live on after his passing in 1997 on his 100th birthday.

There is an arboretum on the sanctuary dedicated to Ted Grisez, whom I met on Botanical Society of Western Pennsylvania trips.
From the Jamestown Audubon Society's website:

"The Arboretum was started in 1980 by a group of dedicated Audubon volunteers headed by retired forester Ted Grisez. Over the years, trees have been added to the collection so that it now contains over 60 trees. Most of the species can be found in either Chautauqua or Warren counties or both."

So without further ado, I present some June wildflowers of Burgeson Wildlife Sanctuary.