Notes - December 2019

Sun, Dec 1

First day of winter.

I stayed home all day again. I considered going birdwatching in the morning, but I have been battling a small cold for the past week, and the weather this morning was rainy. I crocheted and watched the Browns lose at Pittsburgh in a stunner. At least to me, it was a stunner.

Browns started off with a 10-0 lead early in the second qtr. Then Pit scored points on four consecutive possessions and led 20-10. Cle added a field goal, and that was it.

The Browns were obviously out-coached by the Steelers, which have an offense that is comprised of mainly backups at key positions on offense, but Pitt's offense outperformed the Browns offense that contains all-star-like names. Amazing.

Pitt's defense, however, is rugged, and it has been good all year. It's the reason why Pitt is in most games because of their defense. Tomlin is a great coach. Two of the best NFL coaches work in the AFC North: Harbaugh at Baltimore and Tomlin at Pittsburgh.

This year, the Browns are poorly coached.

Wed, Dec 4

Arrived at CP and Brad's at 2:30 p.m. Dominic awoke at 2:43 p.m. Gabbie awoke at 3:50 p.m.

Dominic "ran" when placed in the circular gizmo that allows him to stand upright. He zoomed around the first floor. He got himself out of jams. He moved so fast that he appeared to be in a motorized device. It was hilarious how fast that he moved, and he loved. He smiled big and chatted loudly. He watches his big sister move all over, and he wanted to keep up.

I fed Dominic dinner. It was mushed up avocado. He sat in his high chair. After his first bite, Dominic made a strongly scrunched up facial expression of disapproval. But he kept eating. He made more facial expressions that he disagreed with the flavor. He ate a fair amount, but he did not finish the bowl. He let me know when he was done eating by scrunching up his face and keeping his mouth closed.

Dominic went to sleep before 6:00 p.m.

Gabbie and I played hide and seek. She carried a very small baby doll that she would show me when she found me. When Gabs went to the living room to count and give me a chance to hide, she would keep her eyes open and look towards the front door. Cheating. When I would tell Gabs to count to five, Gabbie would say, "Five."

CP and Brad left shortly after 6:00 p.m. to attend Letter Kenny trivia night at Casual Pint.

Deb arrived a little after 6:30 p.m. Before Deb arrived, Gabs played a scenario repeatedly where she put me to night-night.

Gabs made me lie down on her bedroom floor. Covered me with her blankie. Handed me other items: cat, lady bug, fox, baby doll, giraffe, wrapped little elephant blanky thing around my right foot, and placed a small pillow under my head. Then Gabs would turn off the light and leave the room, closing the door.

Seconds later, Gabs would enter the room and reverse the process, turning on the ceiling light, removing all the items from me and placing them back into her bed, and then helping me to sit up. Then she would push me backwards to get me to lie down so that she could repeat the process again. She mostly maintained a set order in how the items were given to me. 1. blankie, 2. cat, 3. lady bug, 4. fox, 5. baby doll, 6. giraffe, 7. pillow, 8. elephant wrapped around my foot. That's approximately the order. I might not be remembering correctly. She did this nine times in a row. That was followed by a similar routine, conducted four times in a row.

Deb arrived around 6:30 p.m. We played hide and seek again for a while. When seeking me, Gabs once again liked to call out my name, "Bab-baw" repeatedly. She does not appear to be afraid of the dark. She is not worried about being surprised. When she decided to do something, she's fearless.

At one point, we reversed the hide and seek game. Gabs hid, once. I counted and when I went seeking, Gabbie who was suppose to be hiding, called out my name and came out of hiding. She understands the seeking part but not the hiding part yet.

Later in the evening, Gabs snuggled on the couch with Nee-naw for a while. We finally got Gabs to bed at 8:30 p.m. against her protests. I carried her to her bedroom. Gabs gave some faking crying. Off and on for the next hour, Gabs sang and/or talked loudly from her room, which is always funny. She was not tired. She finally fell asleep around 9:30 p.m.

CP and Brad arrived home a little before 10:00 p.m. Deb and I left a short while later.

Thu, Dec 5

Leaf raking - backyard.

Fri, Dec 6

Leaf raking - front yard.

Deb and I arrived at the Toledo Zoo at 5:00 p.m. The temp was in the mid to upper 30s. It was breezy. The sky was mostly clear with some scattered clouds. It was a crisp December sky with a beautiful sunset of pastel colors. We stood outside the main gate for a little while, waiting for CP, Brad, Rhonda, Gabbie, and Dominic to arrive, which they did around 5:20 p.m.

D and G were in their double stroller. Both were bundled up. D was especially bundled up with the type of hat that has the ear flaps. D was overwhelmed. For a long time, he maintained a look of wonderment, confusion, shock. Dominic probably experienced sensory overload. Familiar faces were bundled up in winter gear. The people attending the zoo's lights. And of course, the thousands of brightly colored tiny lights everywhere. Dominic's eyes were wide open. His mouth was closed and slightly turned down like he was terrified. Regardless of what I did, he did not change his expression. I never saw Dominic look and act this way. It was funny.

Gabs, however, was excited to see me and Nee-naw. She wanted out of her stroller. We walked toward the giraffe area, passing the wolves that were out and easily visible in the low light. We saw some sea lions. Gabs moved quickly. She liked watching the wolves, since they moved closed to the viewing area. Their white coats showed brightly.

Then we crossed over the Trail by taking the skywalk. On the other side, we viewed the two adult Bald Eagles. Then in the main area of the zoo, we walked toward the Broadway entrance to view the large coniferous tree that was smothered with blue, purple, green, and white lights.

This was my first time visiting the zoo's holiday lights. It was impressive. Supremely decorated. A large animated show displayed on the side of a building. We watched and listened to the short video. The amphitheatre seats were covered with white lights, and a tube slide was setup too, which looked fun. I would have liked to have taken Gabbie down it, but she probably would have rejected the thought.

Outdoor seating areas had warming towers. Food and beverage was served. I drank some coffee. The weather was great. Cold but not frigid. Dry. Nice evening to be outside.

We walked around the large pine tree near Broadway. Then we made our way to the elephants that were inside a large structure that had a viewing area for visitors. Gabs loved this part. One elephant positioned a small log stump and stepped onto the stump and tried to reach food that hung from the ceiling in a net. The elephant intelligently determined the best way to reach the net by turning the log stump on end so that the flat side faced upward to allow the elephant to step onto the stump to reach up a little higher with its trunk. It was still too short. Then this elephant moved to a pile of food and dirt or whatever in the middle of the room. We had great close views of this elephant. It used its trunk to roll scattered grass into a log shaped pile and then it curled its trunk around the grass pile and brought the grass to its mouth for eating. It was a fun creature to watch and Gabbie enjoyed it intently. We watched for a while. She didn't want to leave.

At one point when Brad used the restroom, I sat down on a low curb, and I patted the curb to encourage Gabs to sit down, which she did and then Gabs let out a big sigh as if it felt good to take a load off and sit down. Funny.

Gabs also enjoyed climbing up and down from a large wooden bench. We had to drag Gabbie away from the bench. She loves climbing up and down from things.

We walked all over the zoo, maybe the entire area. Gabs walked by holding hands with Deb and me, and she sat in the stroller, and I carried her some. Sometimes when she was in the stroller, she demanded that only I push the stroller. She's bossy at times.

Gabs was a little fussy at times while at the zoo, but she did well overall. CP said that they see more of the lights with each passing year. They have taken Gabbie every season to the lights.

Dominic was in the stroller early on and then CP carried Dominic in the front of her. Dominic fell asleep later, and when he awoke, he was smiley and his normal jovial self. He did not seem overwhelmed.

We left the zoo around 7:15 p.m. A lot of people were entering. I think that the zoo closed at 9:00 p.m. 5 to 7 pm probably contained fewer people than the 7 to 9 pm period. If Deb and I visited alone, it would probably take us three hours to take it all in at our pace. Arriving before 6pm would be required. I would like to go back this season.

After the zoo, Deb and I patronized Whiskey and the Wolf from approximately 7:45 p.m. to 9:40 p.m. I ordered my usual: Impossible Burger, sweet potato fries with the brown sugar-based dipping sauce, and an old fashioned bourbon drink. After eating, we moved to the bar for a while where I drank another old fashioned. This is one of our favorite eateries to patronize. It was busy when we arrived. When left, hardly customers remained and some of the waitstaff were leaving too.

Sat, Dec 7

Early this morning, I picked some catmint from our backyard that still had its blueish-purple blooms. I don't know why or how the plants still have blooms, but I noticed them a couple days ago. I should have picked them then.

Our temps recently have been mainly above freezing in the 30s and 40s with occasional 50s. This morning, however, our temps were down around 20 degrees with a lot of frost under a mostly clear sky. This is probably the coldest that it has been in a while.

Anyway, I placed the newly-picked blooming catmint flowers in a small mason jar with water. I dumped the two jars of older catmint plants that I picked in early November. Those old ones no longer had blooms and the stalks were dried.

I still have a lot of blooming Black-eyed Susans and a few Sawtooth Sunflowers in my computer room. I picked those in early November. The Susans keep producing new blooms. The Sawtooths are mostly done blooming now.

I walked Barney from 8:20 a.m. to 8:50 a.m. Short walk because we had plans for the day. The weather and ground were great for a long walk for Barney. Temp around 20 degrees. Mostly clear sky. No wind.

During most of my walk with Barney, Gabbie Facetimed me. I had to place my phone on a sidewalk to gather Barney's crap. It's not easy to walk a dog and Facetime and pick up crap and take a glove off and put it back on in cold weather.

At one point, CP held the phone while Gabbie chatted and played in her toy kitchen area. Dominic zoomed around in the background in his circular gizmo that allows him to stand up.

Deb and I left home at 9:38 a.m. Our first stop was the Glass City Roasters coffee shop, which recently changed its name to Almost Human Coffee. They still roast great beans and serve the best espresso around, probably because of their roasting.

I ordered a double espresso. Deb ordered an Americano. We both ordered beignets, which they make and sell on Saturdays. Deb's coffee drink also tasted great. We sat down inside for a while. Deb knitted a cotton washcloth. We bought a 1/2-pound bag of whole beans roasted that they call "Spark Plug," which is what they use for their espressos. Apparently, it's a blend of beans. We ordered a small Americano to go when we were ready to leave. Deb and I shared this coffee in our car during the rest of the day.

We left the coffee shop at 10:21 a.m. We drove north on Telegraph Rd and visited the Craft Guild Fiber Mill, located south of Monroe, MI. This place opened within the past year, but this was my first visit. It's a mill that converts alpaca fleece into yarn, and the place employs adults with handicaps. It's a noble cause. They sold yarns and other related products.

I bought two small skeins of sport weight yarn. One was a slightly warm brown color, and the other was a very dark cool brown color, approaching black. I plan to use one or both as a border for the shawl that I completed some weeks ago where I used fingering and/or lace weight yarns.

I also bought a skein of large rug yarn. I'll use my large, wooden crochet hook to make a square rug for the computer room. It will be small at first, but I will buy more of this type of yarn in the future and add to the granny square.

Deb bought locally produced goats milk soap bars that will be gifts for others.

We left the Craft Guild Fiber Mill at 11:30 a.m. We drove by our eight acre land purchase that we acquired this fall. Then we went to downtown Toledo, which took about 20 minutes from the land area.

We wormed our way through downtown to the Toledo Farmers Market, which was busy. The doors were down. The extended area had thick plastic walls and heaters. The entire inside area was comfortable.

At the farmers market, I bought a small bag of apples, and we purchased a large bag of "seconds" apples that will be turned into applesauce. We also bought the scrub brush style of kale that I like. Deb bought a piece of pottery that will be a gift, maybe for Kim and Ken K. Deb bought wine from Majestic Oak. We bought eggless pasta from River Valley Pasta. We might have bought a couple other things, but overall, we kept the haul smaller than normal. We still have a lot of produce from the last pickup at Shared Legacy Farms a couple weeks ago.

After the farmers market, we went to the nearby Original Sub Shop, arriving at 12:30 p.m. We carried in Boochy Mama kombucha containers, since the sub shop can do refills. We filled a howler and two small bottles, which we drank with our lunch that we ate inside the sub shop. The kombucha was called "Zen" and it tasted great, one of my favorites from Boochy Mama.

At the sub shop, we met Dan C. I ordered the vegan curry chickpea salad that was served with toasted pita pieces. Scrump.

We ate and chatted for a long while, leaving the sub shop at 2:10 p.m. Dan spent the afternoon and evening with us. We drove separately. First, we headed to the Toledo Botanical Garden for their Heralding the Holidays event where art and craft guild members sell the items that they have made.

We arrived at the garden at 2:35 p.m. The event closed or ended at 5:00 p.m. We started with the fiber area. We visited the herb society's area. Then we visited the small buildings for pottery, stained glass, photography, more fiber (Branching Out studio), and the watercolor and other paint mediums building. We ran out of time and we did not visit at least two other buildings that we normally visit. We needed to arrive earlier. Next year, we need to make this day less busy. Maybe visit the farmers market and then the garden by Noon. It takes us at least three hours to see everything. We should allow four hours.

This year, we did not buy as much at the garden event, like we have in past years. We are buying less stuff for family and friends. We buy our gifts from local makers in November and December at events like this. But we have dialed it back this year, which is hard to do because we see much that we admire.

I liked two watercolor paintings, produced by Debra Sommer. Both sold for $200. Both were winter scenes that contained a lot of whitespace and misty environs with coniferous trees. Simple but elegant.

We left shortly after 5:00 p.m. We decided to meet at Calvino's, located at Cricket West in West Toledo. We arrived at Calvino's at 5:20 p.m., and we sat at a table in the bar area.

I drank a Crunchy Hippie brown beer, produced by local craft brewery Ernest Brew Works. Deb drank wine. Dan stuck with soda pop. We split a flat bread that contained basil and tomatoes. I was still full from lunch for some reason. Maybe it was due to eating dinner earlier than normal, although none of us ate much.

We spent over two hours chatting at Calvino's. Then we carried our conversation with Dan to our house. We arrived home at 8:00 p.m. Deb ordered a meat and cheese pizza and chicken chunks from Vito's for her and Dan. As someone who focuses on a plant-based, whole foods diet, I don't eat that kind of food. I ate most of the flat breat pizza at Calvino's.

We stayed up late chatting. Deb fell asleep before Midnight, waking up occasionally to chat. Dan and I chatted until 4:00 a.m. when I needed to go to sleep. Dan headed home.

It was another busy day of shopping local and hanging out with a friend.

Sun, Dec 8

I slept in, which meant not going birdwatching before the Browns game, although I was not super excited about the game anyway, since Cle lost last Sunday at Pit. But I watched the first half of the Bengals at Browns game, which was boring. Cle struggled on offense yet again. Cin should have scored more points. The Bengals moved up and down the field on the Browns defense, but Cin could not score TDs consistently.

I left home at halftime or at the start of the third quarter. I decided to go birdwatching even though it's fairly dark by 5:00 p.m., too dark to birdwatch well. I knew that I would not have much time, but I wanted to stroll at ONWR.

On the drive out, I stopped at the Maumee Bay gas station convenience store and bought Fig Newtons and goldfish crackers. I'm losing my taste for the fish crackers, maybe because real cheddar cheese is used, and I don't have a taste for cheese anymore. I prefer the Snack Factory's pretzel chips over fish crackers, but I don't think that the store sells pretzel chips. I still like the Fig Newtons though, which were my spring hawk watching snack back in the aught years when I helped with the BSBO's spring hawk count from the tower at Magee Marsh. Sadly, that tower is closed due to structural issues.

I arrived at Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge's old parking lot at 3:45 p.m. I listened to the Browns game during the drive. The parking lot contained several vehicles. I saw people hanging out along the road between the two woody areas. Either they were looking at the Limpkin or they were searching for it. They were in the area where I watched the Limpkin three weeks earlier.

I did not see if the Limpkin was present. I immediately walked north to the natural estuary area. The weather was windy, cloudy with temps 45 to 50 degrees. Not too shabby for December.

Tundra Swans, gulls, Canada Geese, and ducks were the dominant species in the water areas that I saw. Trumpeter Swans also existed, and I saw two Mute Swans, languishing on the water. A few dozen Tundra Swans also existed in the water area along the road between Route 2 and the old parking lot.

I saw two adult Bald Eagles, perched beside each other in a short, dead tree. Another adult BAEA flew by. During my brief visit, I probably saw five or six Bald Eagles.

On the drive out, I saw a Red-tailed Hawk lift off the ground near the road, leaving behind a rabbit that it probably killed. I think that a nearby car on a side road had stopped and probably spooked the hawk. I'm guessing that the hawk circled around back to the rabbit meal.

During the walk out to the estuary, I saw a small group of American Tree Sparrows lift off the dike and land in nearby shrubs.

At 4:14 p.m., I arrived at the estuary area at the end of the north bound trail. That meant that I stood at the southeast corner of the estuary area. Near shore, my presence startled several Mallards and Common Mergansers. Then I saw a small bird fly toward the dike bank a little west of me. The bird disappeared into the vegetation along the dike bank. The bird appeared to have a rail or small bittern appearance. I tried to find it, but I failed. I tried clapping, hoping to flush it, but nothing.

I continued west a little more and then I scoped the long line of waterfowl that were located a long way from me in the estuary. The wind and low light made viewing the birds at maximum magnification difficult. I saw mainly Common Mergansers, some Goldeneyes, and small, dark ducks that I could not identify.

At 4:36 p.m., I started walking back to the parking lot. It's such a great place, and with the mostly open water, a lot of birds existed. I needed four hours to walk around the water areas of ONWR, but I would also liked to have visited the woodlot areas too. I needed to arrive by 10:00 a.m. That way, I'm not rushed. I could take a break inside the visitor's center for a while. Four to six hours are needed to birdwatch ONWR right now.

Temps are forecast to drop into the teens and twenties for a few days this week. But temps are forecast to be above freezing later in the week. If the water areas are mostly open, then I need to birdwatch them this month before the birds move on. The Tundra Swans produce one of my favorite bird sounds.

At 4:55 p.m., I was still walking south toward the old parking lot. I was located north of the small woodlot. To my right (west) was a water area that contained a lot of shrubby vegetation and not much open water. To my surprise, I heard the piggy sounds of the Virginia Rail. That makes me think that a rail-like bird is what flew in to the dike bank at the natural estuary.

At 4:59 p.m., I arrived at the Limpkin area. Nobody else was present. I was the last vehicle in the parking lot. The light was low with the cloud cover and the time of the year. I searched and listened for the Limpkin for a short period, but I did not find it. I don't know if it was seen today.

At 5:11 p.m., I was back at the car and left for home. I learned later that the Browns defeated the one-win Bengals 27 to 19. The Browns defense scored one TD. The Bengals outplayed the Browns on offense. The Bengals should have scored more points. The Bengals made a lot of dumb penalties. Cin reminded me of some of the Browns games from this season.

Mon, Dec 9

Deb had the day off from work. At 1:20 p.m., we arrived at the Leaf and Seed Cafe, which opened last Monday. For the past few years, the owner has managed a food truck that we have enjoyed. The owner focuses on vegan meals, and we have enjoyed everything that the owner has made and sold through her food truck. This was our first visit to her cafe. Her son will manage the food truck next year.

I ordered a Mediterranean wrap and Boochy Mama kombucha. Deb ordered a tasty sandwich too. We shared our meals with each other. We also shared an order of flash fried Brussell sprouts, which tasted fabulous. It contained faux feta cheese and faux bacon pieces. Everything tasted great. The sandwich came with chips.

It closed at 2:00 p.m. We left about 2:15 p.m. We chatted with the owner before we left. Cool business that was overwhelmed with customers on Saturday after 10:00 a.m.

Next, we visited the Learning Express toy store, located along Monroe Street in Sylvania, east of Route 23. It's a small toy store. Toy stores are a rarity now. We browsed and bought some items for Gabbie and Dominic. I saw some toys that interested me, including the Little Dipper roller coaster by CDX.

We left the toy store at 2:55 p.m. and drove to the nearby Yarn Company store. I bought two books. One was an old Kaffe Fassett knitting book. The other book discussed yarn dying, and it was published in 2007. We chatted with the owner for a while. She remembered us. Our last visit was back in early January or between Christmas and New Year's late last December. Jeesh. Too long.

We left the yarn store at 3:30 p.m. and we drove to another yarn store. At 3:45 p.m., we arrived at Yarn Envy, located in Ottawa Lake, MI. I bought nothing. I browsed. Deb bought yarn to knite a cowl or a scarf for a coworker.

At Yarn Envy, I saw a couple patterns and produced items that I liked. One was definitely crocheted. It was called Sophia's Choice. It was a fancy, textured, colorful square that I would consider to be a small wall hanging. It contained overlay crochet. The pattern could be found on Pinterest. It used Ultra Pima yarn, made by Cascade, I think.

Another pattern was called Secret Path, which was a shawl. It's found on Ravelry. I think that it was crocheted. The tag also contained the word "Rose." That might have been the color of the yarn.

After Yarn Envy, we went home.

Something called Sophie's Universe exists here, and it's similar to what I saw at Yarn Envy.

And this looks like the Secret Path shawl that I saw at Yarn Envy, and it is crochet.

The Secret Path pattern appears to have been created by:

This pattern looks similar to the Sophie's Universe.

Tue, Dec 10

Light snow fell late this morning, but it did not stay around long, since the ground was too warm for the snow to stick. We have not seen snow much if at all since the 2 to 4 inches of snow that fell in early Novemer.