Round-Lobed Hepatica

April 28, 2013

Saw the first Round-Lobed Hepatica (Hepatica americana) of the season. Appearance of this flower is usually considered a sign that spring has indeed finally arrived. For that, I am glad. This specimen was located in our hardwoods, but the trees’ leaves were not yet out. The round-lobed in the name refers to the leaves that can be seen on the right side of the picture. The three lobes of the leaf is kind of liver-shaped leading to other names for the plant including liverleaf and liverwort. The fern fiddleheads on the left side of the picture are also a welcome site. The woodlot will be exploding in greens soon as the ferns unfold and the tree leaves arrive.



Scarlet Cup

April 23, 2013

This fungus has shown up at the upper part of our woods trail. It is known as a Scarlet Cup (Sarcoscypha austriaca). It seemed to be coming out of a hardwood twig partially buried in wet soil near a seep. The fungus was a loner, but quite bright. Have not seen any other fruiting fungi yet this year.

 Scarlet Cup

The book “Mushrooms of West Virginia and the Central Appalachians”by W. C. Roody says it is non-poisonous. I think I will continue to just enjoy looking at it.

Northern Water Snake

April 23, 2013

Cleaning brush along our creek I had this guy strike and bite, just got the pants and broke no skin. The snake was quite aggravated and aggressive. At first I thought it was a copperhead (Agkistrodon contortrix), but after review I decided it was a Northern Water Snake (Nerodia sipedon).


A few days later I came across two of them in the same location. One was brighter than the other and both were about the same size. Guess I better keep the grandkids out of that area.

The Jude Meter

February 14, 2012

There have been several posts on the internet of attempts to copy the chidren’s growth chart that looks like a wooden ruler originally sold by Pottery Barn. This post shows my attempt at making a Jude Meter for my grandson Jude. I started with a knot-free pine board 6 feet long and 7 inches wide. The board was edged with a 1/8 inch roundover bit on the router to soften the edges. The board was then sanded with 120 grit paper and stained with two coats of Cabots pecan stain applied by brushing and wiping off with a soft rag.

Next I added ruler marks with a paint pen. The marks started with 6 inches at the bottom and 6 feet 6 inches at the top. The lines were made 3 inches long at the foot marks, 2 1/2 inches long at the half foot marks, 2 inches at the quarter foot marks, and 1 inch long at the other inch marks.

Three inch vinyl numbers were used as templates for the foot designations. The vinyl numbers were traced with a ball-point pen and then removed. The numbers were filled in by paint pen.

The surface was then covered by spray polyurethane. Care must be taken because the paint pen paint will run if touched before the spray finish dries. Three coats of spray finish were applied with light sanding by 220 grit sandpaper between coats.

A sawtooth hanger was attached to the back for hanging with the bottom 6 inches off the floor. If Jude follows his father and grows tall I might be adding more length at the top in his late teens. In the meantime, 6 1/2 feet ought to do it.

Jewelry Armoire

February 7, 2012

My daughter Treah always wanted one of the armoires built by her grandfather, but she was not lucky enough to get one. I decided to make one for her last birthday. After searching several sources I settled on a design published in issue 106 of Woodsmith magazine. The project turned out to be quite challenging, but a lot of fun. I decided that if I was making one I might as well make three. two of them are now in the final stages of completion. Treah received hers for her birthday in June. The armoires are constructed of cherry and cherry plywood. The first step was to cut and glue up the pieces for the case. The case includes slots for nine drawer runners.

The case was then glued up.

The top and bottom were then added. Creating the rounded lines of the top and bottom were fun and eventful.

The armoire contains nine drawers. That meant that 27 drawers were made for the three armoires. I had quite a production assembly going. Spacers had to be added above and below the drawers. I also made a trip to Jo-Ann Fabrics where I bought tan-colored felt for the drawer bottoms.

Next was construction of the doors. Getting the doors glued up square took a bunch of clamps and squares.

The doors were added with much adjustment to get the gaps and lines right.

The Queen Anne legs needed mortises cut. Two mortises per leg by 12 legs equals 24 mortises cut. That required several Yeunglings to complete.

The bases were then constructed and hardboard templates were used to draw the curves on the spanners.

The case was attached to the base and doors removed for finishing with five coats of tung oil.

Treah (and Vandy) were quite happy with the result.

Now the challenge is for Treah’s Aunt Rosemary to make her enough jewelry to fill the sucker.

Active Little Ruffians

April 10, 2011

I spent some time today watching the birdfeeder. The camera was mounted on a tripod and I was ready. The Red-Breasted Nuthatches (Sitta canadensis) were quite busy grabbing food and defending THEIR feeder.

Red-Breasted Nuthatch

Whenever other birds approached the feeder the nuthatches were quite diligent in chasing them away. They especially had a thing about the chicadees and chased them back into the nearby forest. I also had a nuthatch leave the feeder and circle my head a couple of times when I walked too close. While at the feeder, the nuthatches sent seed flying while searching for a special morsel.

Nuthatch sending seed flying

It usually did not take long for the nuthatches to find the particular seed they sought. This particular fellow chose a sunflower seed. He flew off with it to a nearby hickory where he broke into the seed – yummm!

Nuthatch with a sunflower seed

The birds that seemed to be most successful with the nuthatches were the Chipping Sparrows (Spizella passerina). The sparrows would move in quickly while the nuthatches flew off with their seeds, quickly grabbed a seed, and took off before attack ensued. The sparrows also discovered the treasure trove of seed on the ground. The Dark-Eyed Juncos (Junco hyemalis) seemed willing to share the grounded seeds as long as the sparrows kept their distance.

Chipping Sparrow

Uh Oh! The Pope has Pissed Off My Favorite Evolutionist (after Darwin)

September 21, 2010

Happy Trees

October 2, 2009

While Susan and I were driving to the cabin today we took a sidetrip to Gaudineer Knob. The contrast exhibited by these trees made me feel as if I was driving into a Bob Ross painting. Happy Trees – Happy Me!



September 25, 2009

It is a lazy, rainy day at the cabin. A barred owl visited around noon. It sat in the shagbark hickory next to Backyard Run and overlooking the bird feeder. We are wondering if it is the reason we have been observing fewer birds and squirrels at the feeder lately. The owl left before we could get a picture. Luckily, it returned to the hemlock overlooking the pool in Backyard Run (the creek behind our cabin has no names associated with it on any of the maps we have seen so I named it Backyard Run). I managed a few pictures from the back door with the camera lens fully extended. After a few minutes and pictures, it flew down into Backyard Run where we could not see it. Following a 10 to 20 second wait the owl came out of the creek with some critter hanging from its talons and it flew off into the forest. The picture of it and its catch did not focus.BarredOwl1

Don’t Worry – Just an Orb Weaver

September 22, 2009
I found this Mottled Orb Weaver (Araneus marmoreus) in the shed eaves at the cabin. Not knowing what kind of spider it was, I bravely approached with camera in hand. I had little worry since my U. S. Government Health Care Plan provides me with top-notch medical care (the same one enjoyed by conservative congressmen and Senators while denying the same to those without – seriously!). I have since found out that it’s venom is of little concern to humans.
I think all would agree it is a colorful, cute creature. It eats bugs too!