Wednesday, May 31, 2006

McConnells Mill (pics)

My husband and I spent Saturday at McConnell's Mill State Park. It is somewhere on the way to Pittsburgh and on Slippery Rock Creek. It was so gorgeous there! We had never been there before and realized what a treasured area it is. There are hiking trails and the very pretty creek.

It is called Slippery Rock Creek for a reason and even though the oil isn't slicking the rocks anymore, the wetness and moss can prove too much for some hikers that just can't stay on the trail. A girl warned her two male buddies that the rocks are slippery, "be careful!" she warned. Then one of them started a downward, uncontrollable slide toward the raging creek. I thought he was a gonner but he managed to fall in where it was only about 3 ft deep. If you visit, you better have well behaved kids (or buddies, for that matter)that don't run around on the rocks, at least not when the creek is raging.

We saw two different wedding picture sessions taking place in front of the old mill. We saw butterflies congregating on the foot path. You can go inside the old mill and see the equipment and see how they used to operate the mill. You can cross the covered bridge and take different paths and hiking trails. We also drove around a bit and spotted a very interesting old cottage, or perhaps a livestock shed. It was very small about 5 ft high (maybe Hobbits used to live there :-).

A marine getting married at the old mill.

A small creek along the path that feeds into Slippery Rock Creek.

Some type of fungus growing on a dead tree stump.

Butterflies congregating on the foot path.

The McConnells Mill and dam.

The old stone building.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Spackle, Baltimore Orioles, Presque Isle

I have been awake since 4 this morning tossing and turning. I'm dreaming about electric wiring and GFIs, ha. I had to replace one in our bathroom and found it quite easy to do so I want to change out light fixtures and put in a switch and make sure it is all done to code so I have been researching and drawing out wiring diagrams. I came across some electric wiring horror stories in my research that would give anyone nightmares. I bought 2 portable GFIs for working with my power tools. Just having that makes me feel so much safer.

There was some bubbling up of some paint on the bathroom ceiling that I thought I'd just scrape off and paint over. It always snowballs! Under the paint were plaster cracks so this has turned into a 3 day job so far and my neck is killing me. Now I have decided to go ahead and use the heat gun and strip off the 90 year-old paint on the woodwork and just get this redone. There comes a time when you can't just keep painting over it. The surface is too uneven. So the front steps will have to wait.

My husband came home from work and found me on the ladder covered in spackle, sweating profusely as it always gets humid when I decide to do a project. He asked if I'd like a walk at Presque Isle. Who wouldn't? I did a quick change and off we went to the best walk of the year. Baltimore Orioles everywhere! Monarch butterflies swooping like kites in front of you. The sweet smell of spring flowers filled the air. We truly do have a treasure here in Erie.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Butterflies and Bells in the Sky - pics

Below are some more pictures from the Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh. Take a weekend and drive to Pittsburgh and see the National Aviary and Phipps Conservatory. They are great places for kids, too. We decided against seeing the Science Museum because we'd need to devote a whole day to just that. Soon will take another drive down there for that. Click on pictures to enlarge.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Butterfly Hatching Case - Conservatory-pictures

My husband and I got up early and went to Pittsburgh to enjoy the Phipps Conservatory and the National Aviary. It was so beautiful yesterday after about 10 AM. The rain cleared out and the sun felt warm It happened that the Aviary was free yesterday because of a festival going on in the park. Lucky us! I was just so impressed with both places. I really was impressed with the conservatory. The flowers and orchids were unbelievable! And...who would think lunch at their cafe was going to be such a pleasure? Delicious food.

One of my favorite parts of the day was the Butterfly Hatching Cage at the conservatory. There were 3 that I could see. You could sit there all day and watch the butterflies come out of their pupas. It was amazing. I'll post some daily pictures of the day at the aviary and conservatory this week as I get time. Click on the photo to enlarge.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Inspire Me Thursday - Abstract Art

This is my first try at abstract art. I named it Spirit Guiding. In the center of the rogue wave is a person paddling a canoe and above is a spirit holding the wave up as the paddler continues on his journey through life. This is done with artist acrylics on a 5 x 7 inch canvas board.

My Boys, The Snowboarders

My boys sent me a picture plaque for Mother's Day they had taken at Christmas time at Bear Valley in California. (They are in the parking lot but there was plenty of snow up on the ski runs.) They are lucky enough to live close to 4 major ski resorts and decided to take advantage of it. They said they thought it was harder than skiing and didn't think I could do it. We'll see. I'd like to try it anyway. My kids are adults now but still do just about everything together as they are like best friends. But they do have separate interests, too. One just bought a jet ski and the other is buying an airplane (a real one). Oh no!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Restored Picture Frame, Before-After Pictures

My late 1800's picture frame needed a lot of work. But I really like the oak wood grain and carvings. I went out and bought some of that polymer clay and made a mold from the areas that weren't damaged. Baking the clay mold in a toaster oven according to instructions yielded me nice molds. I tried to press the new clay into the mold but it distorted when I tried to remove it as it would stick. I then dusted the mold with some talc powder like the instructions tell you to do (if I just would follow instructions to begin with I wouldn't have so much frustrations in my life!) and carefully place the clay in the areas that are missing and trimmed it down to size and conformed it to the shape. Hint, dust that area, too, before placing it down or it will distort when you try and take it back up. I then baked the pieces, did a little more carving on them to make an exact fit and glued them down with wood glue. The next day I painted them to match the rest of the decoration. The color was slightly off so I just lightly brushed over all the decoration so they would match. I gave the wood a very light "French polish" with some garnet de-waxed shellac. I like how it turned out. Now that I have done it, I know I can save some other items that are damaged instead of just tossing them. Endless possibilities!

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Walking Beaver, Flyfishing

We finally got some fishing in this past week. After my husband got home from work we twice ran out to Misery Bay and fly fished for whatever would bite. We just needed to get the rust out. Both days were sunny and windy but late in the afternoon/evening the wind wasn't bad there. It was so relaxing hearing all the beautiful birds chirping.

I waded out to about 3 feet of water and was fishing when I noticed a huge something working the water about 15 feet behind me. I thought it was a carp but then it stood up and walked on two legs out of the water and up the bank. I couldn't believe it! I have never seen a beaver walk like a penguin. Then he scratched his stomach on some reeds up the bank and returned to the water. He swam right in front of me and I could have touched him if I had reached out. You never know what you will see when you get out into nature. Oh, yah, my husband caught a couple of good-sized bass and lots of pumpkinseeds. I caught bluegill and pumpkinseeds mostly on small poppers made for flyfishing.

If anyone remembers when we got stuck in Pittsburgh about a month ago because our transmission wouldn't go into gear, well, the Subaru shop in Pittsburgh after having our car a week (we had to pay for a rental) told us the transmission fluid was low. Now I didn't argue but I knew it wasn't. We checked it. We had the transmission checked last year because it was sometimes acting up and that local shop told us they thought the screens just needed to be cleaned and they cleaned them. That wasn't it either. So here are all the "experts" trying to tell us there was nothing wrong with the transmission in our car. Sometimes it wouldn't shift from reverse to forward without a really long delay, a dangerous delay if you are backing out onto a busy street. We took it in to the local Subaru dealership and they said the transmission was bad. The labor to fix it would cost about the same as replacing it so we replaced it. The bill this past week reached over $4000 for a new transmission. So much for the experts.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Outdoor Art, Too Late for Inspire Me Thursday

Another Inspire Me Thursday that I didn't meet the deadline. Now it's Friday. The theme was faraway places and I planned on doing some outdoor art for my garden. I wanted it to look like a stained-glass window of trees. I had a stained glass pattern that I was going to use to make a real stained-glass window but I modified it for this painting. I thought of the Calaveras Big Trees in California. Giant redwood trees. You can't live in California for very long without going to see them. It is so peaceful there.

So, I have yet to get something on Inspire Me Thursday. I'll keep trying, though. I finished the painting part today and will put several coats of spar varnish on it and put it in an antique window frame and hang it in my garden. My garden's theme is somewhat shire-like, hobbit-like, and a bit whimsical. It is so small.

acrylic on masonite 20 x 22

Saturday, May 06, 2006

This Past Week - Watching Paint Dry

I'm still working on those (what I now consider stupid) shutters. I thought all I had left was to paint and hang them. It isn't all that easy to paint when the paint doesn't dry. And I didn't prime the shutters first and by the 3rd coat, I realized there are no short cuts here. One of the shutters I had tried to stain before deciding to paint them. That one shutter keeps having the stain bleed through. So I put on a quick coat of sander sealer shellac on all the shutters and repainted. So everything is looking nice now and all I have to do is wait for the paint to dry and then paint the other side.

So while I'm waiting for the paint to dry, I managed to get the weeds out of the garden and lawn and I have been prepping the ground for stone. I'll buy a few at a time and sooner or later we will have that stone patio I have always wanted. I added a few more landscape lights. One now spotlights the fountain I got cleaned and back up. It is so nice to hear the running water again.

I rescued an old window frame from the neighbor's garbage a few years ago and I leaned it up against my fence on the little potting table. The glass is out of it. The paint just fell off when we took it down from the garage attic this spring. I clear coated it the other day with exterior poly to hold the paint on. I decided to put a picture in it for the garden. I cut out a masonite board on my table saw the size of the opening of the window frame. I painted it with gesso and am going to make a forest scene that looks like it is stained glass. If it doesn't look good I can always paint over it. It should add a little color to the yard while we wait for the flowers to be in full bloom.

A wall sconce wasn't working for a few months now so this week we took a closer look at it. My husband was turning it on and off when it fell from the wall. One of the wires was hanging loose where it had burned through. We were extremely lucky. The house was rewired when we moved in but they only brought the new wires up to the light unit and then attached the wires from the sconces to the new wiring with wing nuts. So the wires in the fixtures (at least this one) was still the old wiring. We shut the power off and with a flashlight rewired the fixture with some new wire. It is all up and running and safe again. Today we went to Home Depot and bought some more wire and we will check each fixture to be sure they are safe. Boy, don't assume anything.

I bought some polymer clay today while I was at Michaels. I have never used it before but I want to fix some damage to a little antique picture frame I bought a while back. I need to match some of the intricate decoration and I will use it to make a mold casting for the matching pieces. I'll see how good this stuff works. I will have to do a little research on how to use it but it sounds like I just bake it in a toaster oven and voila! It's done! I have used plaster quite extensively making molds and casting porcelain years ago but if this stuff works it would be so much easier. I still have my porcelain kiln and sure would like to be able to find time to play with that again. I'd like to try and play with glass in it, too. Someday..

Well, I haven't even gone fly fishing yet. But today, when we were out, we bought our fishing licenses. Hooray!!! We will try and go out fishing tomorrow.