Notes - November 2019

Fri, Nov 1

I roasted coffee beans early this morning.

Late in the morning, we turned our furnace on for the first time this fall. Our first floor house temp this morning was in the mid-50s. The living room thermostat showed 54 degrees. A handheld digital thermometer showed 56 degrees.

A thermostat set at 60 to 62 degrees is what I prefer. 66 degrees is too warm.

Sat, Nov 2

Kim, Brent, Deb, and I went to the movies at Franklin Park Mall to watch Motherless Brooklyn. Afterwards, we enjoyed dinner and drinks at nearby Twin Peaks.

Sun, Nov 3

From the late morning to about mid-afternoon, I watched Gabbie and Dominic while Brad completed yard work.

Mon, Nov 4

CP had a terrible migraine headache. I picked Gabbie up from pre-school at 11:30 a.m. After G and I played at a park for 80 minutes, we went to G's house, and I watched Dominic and Gabbie in the afternoon while CP rested. I left after 6:30 p.m.

Tue, Nov 5

Approx 2.5 hours of car service on our 2012 Honda Accord. Basic maintenance. $400 bill.

Steve and Jackson stopped by our house at mid-afternoon for about two hours. We chatted. Jackson made a college visit at the University of Toledo.

Wed, Nov 6

Yardwork. I picked some small green tomatoes. I took down the tomato plants that grew in containers on our back driveway. I raked the driveway, the backyard, and the front yard.

More leaves have fallen by Nov 6 than normal, I think. It's nice that the leaves seem to be falling earlier than normal. Hopefully, that means that I won't be raking in early December.

This morning, the city of Toledo came through our street and gathered up leaves. That was the city's first pass. I raked in the late afternoon and early evening. I missed the first pass, but looking at the trees, it seems that more than 50 percent of the leaves have yet to fall. The second pass should occur in late November or early December.

Sat, Nov 9

Deb and I attended the 13th annual Ohio Young Birders Conference, held this year at the Toledo Zoo's Great Hall, located inside the Museum of Natural History. Great building and location. The conference was sold out.

First in the morning, we visited the Toledo Farmers Market to pick up one of our late fall hauls that we purchased extra from our Shared Legacy Farms CSA. It was a nice haul of mostly root veggies, along with the scrub brush-style kale that I like. We purchased a few other items while at the market, including apples from Wit Orchards and lemon loaf bread/cake from Amy's Chocolates.

We arrived at the zoo at 9:15 a.m. The volunteers/organizers did a great job with the setup and the signage. Inside the hall, the student displays were informative. Other displays existed too, such as the Ohio Bluebird Society. Several items were offered for the raffle drawing.

Before the conference began, we chatted for a while with Kim Kaufman, Kenn Kaufman, and Brian Zwiebel. I have known Brian since around 2001 when I met him while birdwatching at the Magee Marsh boardwalk. He's now a well-known photographer and a tour guide with Sabrewing Nature Tours. Brian lives in the Toledo area.

I also chatted briefly with Darlene Sillick who has done magnificent work for nature conservation in central Ohio as well as nurturing students with the Central Ohio OYBC chapter. When I was OYBC coordinator from May 2008 to mid-November 2012, I coordinated trips and events with Darlene. The Columbus area had a vibrant local chapter back in 2010-2012, and they continue to have a wonderfully supported chapter today.

The student presentations were impressive as usual. The entire day was fantastic. The food was great, buffet style where assembled our own tacos. I choose the vegan style setup.

It was the kind of day and event where we hated to see it end. The opening remarks began at 10:10 a.m., and the conference closed at approx 4:40 p.m.

Deb and I went home, unloaded our produce, hung out at home for a while, and then we went out with dinner with Brent around 6:30 p.m. We went to Twin Peaks. They produce excellent old fashioneds. As usual, I ordered the Beyond Meat's vegan burger setup along with fries.

Sun, Nov 10

Deb and I participated in more OYBC conference-related events, held in the morning at Oak Openings Metropark. We arrived at the park's Buehner Center at approx 8:15 a.m. BSBO bander Ryan and volunteers banded birds outside the building. Their net was setup by the feeders. They one or more of the following species: White-breasted Nuthatch, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Eastern Tufted Titmouse, and Blacked-capped Chickadee. It's fun to watch the feisty chickadee when it's held by a bander.

Ryan let young people hold and release the birds. Ryan gave informative info about the woodpeckers.

UT student and Toledo area birder Nate led the field trip walk around Mallard Lake. A handful of members of the Ohio State Ornithology Club were present and helped lead the walk too. Over 20 people participated in the walk. Over 30 people were present. A few Metroparks employees were present too. It was a well-attended morning. Several of the young birders participated.

It was an enjoyable walk. We viewed local birds along with a few Yellow-rumped Warblers and a Pileated Woodpecker.

The events at the Buehner Center ended around 10:40 a.m. Then the Metroparks employeeds led a caravan of vehicles to the Beach Ridge area of the park, which is a relatively new area that hosts mountain bike trails and the treehouse colony that is still under construction. At least five cottage-like elevated homes exist, along with two platforms for tents and a platform for a hammock. The houses vary in size, and they will offer different themes. The bird themed house has a nest area inside the house, which is a loft that contains branch-like railing.

The "treehouses" were fantastic. Most of the remaining work is inside work. The park expects to rent the houses starting in May 2020, hopefully. We toured all of the houses, despite the ongoing construction.

Maybe four houses exist and one common area house exists that can hold up to 49 people and it can be used for meetings or events, such as a small wedding.

That relatively new area of the park is fabulous. Several people were present with their mountain bikes, riding the dirt trails through the woods. The area also contains an wooden elevate bike trail. Interesting.

Deb saw bikers who wore Maumee Valley Wheelman jerseys. I road with the Wheelman on Saturday mornings, and I owned a sharp-looking, yellow and purple Wheelman jersey back in 1994.

We left Oak Openings Metropark for home at 12:00 p.m. Fun morning. It was another well-organized series of events.

At home, I watched the Bills at Browns football game. Wait. No didn't watch the game because IT WAS NOT AIRED LOCALLY.

For some moronic reason, the NFL flexed the Lions-Bears 1:00 p.m. game to CBS, which meant that the Bills-Browns 1:00 p.m. CBS game could not be aired locally, since Toledo resides in the Detroit TV market.

It's asinine that in 2019 we do not have easy, pay-per view options to watch NFL games. I do not want to pay a monthly or yearly subscription to anything. Why can't I press a few menu options within our Roku-based TV to pay $10 or so to watch ONE NFL GAME, the game that I want to see, Bills at Browns.

Our local CBS station WTOL aired Bears-Lions while our local Fox station aired Falcons-Saints. WTF??? Yeah, I'm sure that the Toledo area hosts a ton of Falcon and Saints fans. Browns and Lions fans DO exist in the Toledo area.

I turned off the TV, and I listened to the Browns announcers on the radio. The Browns won an ugly game, but it was a victory.

After the game, I went outside at approx 4:15 p.m., and I raked leaves in the front yard until 6:00 p.m. I raked last Wednesday afternoon and evening, but on Friday, a "ton" of oak leaves rained down, probably due to temps being in the 20s. It seems that sub-freezing temps snap leaves that have turned color.

The two sugar maples in our front yard and the sugar maple in our backyard still contain mostly green leaves. Hopefully, they turn and fall soon. We still have at least 30 to 40 percent of the oak leaves to fall.

Mon, Nov 11

Early this morning, I walked Barney for the first time since Friday, and I went up on our roof and swept the roof of leaves. A lot of leaves piled in the usual areas of the house. The fallen leaves are dry and fluffy and easy to move. I'll need to go up on the roof again at the end of this month or in early December.

Snow started falling before Noon, but it began sticking on the lawns in the early afternoon. The snow ended around mid-evening. More snow accumulated on the tops of our vehicles, which showed 3.5 to 4.0 inches of accumulation. 2 to 3 inches accumulated on the ground.

Tue, Nov 12

Watched Gabbie and Dominic from around Noon time to mid afternoon while CP went to an appointment and did other things. It was the first time that I helped Gabbie go potty. She went three times. Dominic remained chill as ever, hanging out with Gabbie and me in his little vertical stroller thingy that he can scoot around in when it's on the wood floor.

Wed, Nov 13

Deb, Barney, and I left home shortly after 1:00 p.m. to visit Deb's parents in central Michigan. Along the way, we stopped at a Burger King to try their new Impossible Whopper. We like the Impossible Burger, which we order at local eateries if available. Ditto for the Beyond Meat burger. It's not the kind of processed food that I would buy to eat at home on a regular basis, especially since both are pricey. But when out and about, especially traveling by vehicle, it's nice to have a valid fast food option, provided that a Burger King can be found. I ordered the Impossible Whoppers minus any condiments, such as mayor and ketchup. The sandwich came with lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickle. Excellent.

Shortly after leaving BK, our Ford Fusion signaled that a tire had low pressure. We stopped at a Valvoline station in Midland. I decided to get the oil changed and the tires filled with air. The crew did a great job. This was my first experience with such a service. We remained in the car while work was conducted. The workers were speedy and efficient. Pleasant experience. And we were on our way.

We arrived at Deb's parents' house, shortly after 5:00 p.m. Deb's Mom left a short time later with a friend to attend their Master Gardeners meeting. Deb, Deb's Dad, and I ate dinner at The Camp.

In Toledo, we had two to three inches of snow on the ground. Deb's parents' area had about four inches of snow on the ground. They received a little more snow before we arrived. When we exited The Camp, the snow came down pretty good. Fortunately, it was only about a 10-minute drive home.

On our drive up from Toledo, the roads were fine, until we got within about 20 minutes of Deb's parents' place, and the roads were partially snow covered and then mostly snow covered the further north we drove.

We were at The Camp from approximately 5:40 p.m. to around 7:00 p.m. I ordered my usual: veggie wrap and fries. I order the sandwich without cheese. It's a tasty sandwich. I also ordered a double of their house bourbon neat, which tasted great. I craved whiskey. We like The Camp. It's a nice-sized open bar/restaurant. It was busy. It surprises me how busy The Camp is on a Wednesday evening from November to March. It's a rural area. It's obviously dark by 5:30 p.m. now. Snow coming down. It feels like hardly anybody lives in the area, but it's busy. People play cards, some kind of club or group that gathers to play card games.

When we arrived back at the house, Deb's Mom had returned from her meeting. She and Heidi left early. We lounged around for the rest of the evening. On our drive up, I played the only Christmas music that I listen to each season: two CDs, one by Andy Williams and the other with the Peanuts Christmas music produced by Vince G. It felt like December and not November. Normally, we don't have this much snow on the ground this early in Toledo. It was not an ideal winter scene, since a lot of leaves were still on the trees and falling, which made our snow cover covered with leaves. But snow cover existed on our entire drive, and it was more wintry in central Michigan.

Thu, Nov 14

On Thursday morning, Barney and I went for an enjoyable walk from 9:30 a.m. to 10:23 a.m. We both enjoyed the snow covered roads and landscape and cool temps in the low 20s.

Then we all, minus Barney, drove to Gladwin to visit a local furniture store that exists in downtown Gladwin. It's family-owned business that has been in the owner's family for generations. The store is called Frank E. Ward Co or simply Ward's.

Deb's Mom choose a sofa to buy. Nice looking. It's a pull-out bed. We spotted a fascinating chair that was made in Indiana.

indiana-made cool-looking chair

After the furniture store, we walked across the street in downtown Gladwin and ate lunch at Mack's on the Main, which is a small diner. I ordered the black bean burger, which I was glad to see on the menu. It was my first visit at this diner. When we visit downtown Gladwin, we usually patronize the Northern Espresso coffee shop and the yarn store managed by a friend of Deb's Mom, called Yarn for Ewe. But Mack's on the Main will be something that we visit in the future when we need a nosh. Good spot.

Mack's on the Main displayed a sign on its window that it would be open at 5:30 a.m. the next day, Fri, Nov 15, 2019 because it was opening day for deer hunting season. I'm unsure if that's bow only or gun too or what.

After eating at Mack's, we went back to the house.

We left for Toledo around 3:00 p.m. We arrived home at 6:30 p.m.

I met Dan, George, and Bruce, former NFOers, at Tony Packo's in Sylvania for dinner at 7:15 p.m. We stayed until around 9:00 p.m.

At home, I watched the Browns defeat the Steelers on Thursday Night Football. I choose to stream it over Amazon Prime, since I don't have to worry about the frigging indoor digital antenna. It's amazing how hard it is to pull in local TV stations over the air.

The Steelers at Browns game started off good with Cleveland leading early in the second qtr 14-0. Then the Browns offense went to sleep. Pit got back into the game, trailing 14-7 late and being a diving catch in the end zone and a PAT away from tying the game. But Pit failed to score. Browns intercepted later and gave the offense starting possession at the Pit 5-yard line. Browns won 21-7, but an on-field fracas occurred between Browns DE Myles Garrett and Steelers QB Mason Rudolph in the final seconds, causing benches to clear. The rivalry might be back.

Fri, Nov 15

In the mid afternoon, Deb and I visited Breaking Beans Coffee, located along Jackman Rd in Temperance, MI. It was our first visit.

Then we visit CP, Dominic, and Gabbie for a few hours.

Sat, Nov 16

CP, Gabbie, Dominic, Deb, and I visited Handmade Toledo's Makers Mart event, located along Adams Street in the Uptown area of downtown. We arrived around 1:00 p.m. Busy, busy, busy as usual. We didn't stay long. It's a little tricky to navigate that event with a seven month-year-old and a three-year-old.

After the Makers Mart, we went to CP's and hung out until around 5:45 p.m.

Sun, Nov 17

Went birdwatching at Magee Marsh and Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge from Noon to about 4:45 p.m. Most of my time was spent at ONWR, viewing Tundra Swans, ducks, other waterfowl, Sandhill Cranes, and the surprise bird that I did not know was at ONWR, the Limpkin.

Wed, Nov 20

Another major leaf-raking. I did the entire yard and driveway. That took three hours. We still have leaves to fall. The sugar maples won't turn golden yellow this year. The cold a week ago must have kiboshed normal fall color. The sugar maples are turning a dull yellow-green and then dropping but not fast enough.

Thu, Nov 21

Light drizzle/rain fell throughout the day. This was the first precip, since the snowfall two Mondays ago.

In the evening, I attended Toledo's Third Thursday Art Loop that occurs mainly in downtown Toledo. I met Dan C at Handmade Toledo at about 5:40 p.m. We toured the makers who had setup their areas inside Handmade Toledo. We also toured the store area that always exists. In the temp vendor area, we listed to the Gene Parker jazz trio play great music.

We left Handmade Toledo a little before 7:00 p.m. and waited for one of the small TARTA buses that shuttled people around on the art loop. We purchased a $1.50 wrist band inside Handmade Toledo to board the bus. We took the bus from Uptown to the Warehouse District.

Dan and I spent the next 90 minutes-plus at Gathered Glass Studio. We watched glass making demos. We listened to live music. One of the musicians was Bobby May who Dan knew.

While at Gathered Glass's building, we toured the upstairs studios. Dan chatted for a while with Bill Foraker of Black Iron Press. I bought a photograph print from photographer artist Juliet Foraker. We have bought prints from her in the past. Downstairs, we chatted for a while too with Ian Welch who runs Pegboard Press. Ian maintains a printing press studio upstairs too. Ian framed a ton of our art last year. He works at Michael's. He teaches at Bowling Green State University and Owens Community College. Ian showed me large prints that he made at BGSU that will be included in a new exhibit that begins on Fri, Nov 22, 2019 at Marathon Center for Performing Arts in Findlay. Ian creates great work.

Travis Erxleben & Ian Welch

November 24 - December 31, Reception: Dec. 4

As usual, I enjoyed the time at Gathered Glass. It's hard to see a lot of the loop when it runs from only 5:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., but it's a long day for the people who manage the locations that are a part of the loop.

The Art Loop occurs in December too. Deb did not attend this Art Loop, but on the December loops, Deb and I usually tour St. Clair Street and visit multiple places. We will also visit Handmade Toledo because that location will have the vendor area open to artists and crafters again. We like to buy gifts for others at these events.

Fri, Nov 22

In the evening, Deb and I watched the kids while CP and Brad went out with friends. I arrived a little after 6:00 p.m. Dominic was asleep. I played with Gabbie. Deb arrived a little later. Gabbie finally went to bed at 9:00 p.m. Dominic awoke a short while later. We gave him a bottle. We played with him for a bit. Then I laid him back down. He went to sleep quickly in my arms while I sat in the rocking chair in his room. Deb and I left around Midnight.

Before Deb arrived, Gabbie played with the foam blocks, stacking them and knocking them down. She now enjoys stacking the blocks as much as she likes to knock them over.

She rattled off color names for blue, red, green, and orange when playing with another toy and with the foam blocks. She says more words every week.

Before bedtime, we watched Monsters Inc. Gabbie snuggled with Deb on the chair, eating goldfish crackers.

Sat, Nov 23

It has been a while since Deb and I experienced one of our Saturday morning/early afternoon days.

We started at the Toledo Farmers Market, gathering a few items and drinking coffee from Flying Rhino.

Then we visited Boochy Mama's and re-filled one of our jugs with kombucha. We also bought a couple other items.

Then we went to the Original Sub Shop. We chatted with the owner for a good while, which is always fun. She made us two different somewhat custom vegan sandwiches. Both were incredible.

In the late afternoon, I went to Virtual PCs to pick up the laptop that I ordered on Tuesday. I visited VP on Tuesday afternoon, and I told the person what I was looking for price-wise and that I would use Linux. They only deal with Lenovo laptops, which was fine with me. The Thinkpads are a bit higher end, although maybe I should have considered it. I went with the relatively new line called IdeaPad. With VP's help, I ordered an IdeaPad 330s. VP installed Ubuntu Linux for me. They called me early Saturday afternoon to say the laptop was ready.

In the evening, we met Kim and Brent at Ya Halla Restaurant, located along Alexis Rd. It's a Lebanese restaurant with good food at low prices.

After dinner, Kim and Brent went one way, and Deb and I went to Black Frog Brewery for the first time in months. Far too long since our last visit to Black Frog. The small taproom was busy. Chris, the owner, tended bar. We normally sit at the bar, but the bar was filled. Deb and I both drank a pint of Granny's Sweet Potato Porter, which was fantastic. That's an incredible seasonal beer that Chris's makes each fall.

Then Deb and I met Kim and Brent at a large retail store, located in South Toledo called At Home. We bought a small sequin holiday-themed pillow that Gabbie might like to play with at house. If not, then I'll enjoy playing with it. After this store, we went home.

Sun, Nov 24

The Dolphins-Browns game got moved from CBS to Fox, which meant a conflict with the Bears-Lions game, which also aired on Fox at 1:00 p.m., which meant that the Browns game did not air in Toledo.

We had one last CSA pickup from Shared Legacy Farms. Late fall produce. We left home around 12:40 p.m. We loaded up on produce at the farm, and we purchased some extra produce too. We are bogged down with tasty veggies. I bought another small bag of rye flour. Kurt grew the rye for Toledo Spirits Distillery, which they use in their new Heart of Gold vodka. Kurt had the extra rye milled by the Toledo area Metroparks, which have a mill somewhere locally.

After the farm visit, we went home.

Mon, Nov 25

Worked on my new Lenovo laptop that I bought two days ago at Virtual PCs, located in West Toledo.

Thu, Nov 28

We spent the afternoon at CP and Brad's. Brad drove the van down to get me and a table that we borrowed from Kim and Brent. Then Brad and I picked up Andy and Pearl on the way back. Brad's parents came over. Brad's Dad smoked two 10-pound turkeys. I broke from my plant-based whole foods diet to eat some of the delicious turkey. But I also ate a lot of Deb's kale and brussel sprouts salad that was also fantastic.

Of course we played with the kids. When I arrived around 1:40 p.m., Gabbie was still napping. She went to nap much earlier than normal because Gabbie acted a bit spunky in the morning. CP gave Gabbie four time-outs. Gabbie needed to be wearing her black t-shirt with white lettering that reads, "Straight Out of Time-out."

The last time-out occurred when CP ordered Gabbie to pick a raspberry up off the floor, and Gabbie refused. Hilarious, but Gabs needs the discipline.

Since Gabs napped, I played with Dominic who was happy and active, as usual. He likes to "stand" by doing knee-bends. He sat on the floor for a while and played with the triangle toy with sounds and buttons. Dominic sits upright well.

It was about 3:00 p.m. when we were ready to eat, and that's when Gabbie woke up. While others ate, I played with Gabbie who was not interested in eating. I could never get Gabs to try some turkey.

Late in the afternoon, Brad and Rhonda took Pearl and Andy home. It was an enjoyable afternoon. Pearl spent time holding Dominic.

Gabs, Deb, and I played a lot in the late afternoon and early evening. Gabs laid on her back in the living room with her legs up. She wanted Deb and I to grab her arms and legs and swing her, which we did.

Then we played hide-and-seek for at least 40 minutes. I hid while Deb and Gabs covered their eyes and counted in the living room. I would say hide your eyes and count to five, and Gabs would place her hands over her eyes while walking toward the living room and say, "Five."

When it was time to find me, Gabs would say my name repeatedly as she walkd. Bab-baw, Bab-baw, Bab-baw. I guess that she hoped that I would slip and say, "What" and give away my location. I hid in many pretty good places in the play area, Gabbie's bedroom, Dominic's bedroom, CP and Brad's bedroom, and the bathroom. Sometimes, I would make a noise to help Gabbie, but she would search the dark areas without fear, and she got excited when she found me.

Deb and I left for home in the early evening.

Back in October, Gabs changed my name again back to "BAB-baw." In the spring, she called me BAB-baw, and then in June, she switched to calling me BAW-buh until last month.

Fri, Nov 29

Amy and Steve arrived at our house a little before 10:30 a.m. The four of us left at about 10:50 a.m. for Bay City to meet Deb's parents.

The weather was fine. We encountered some light snow near the exit for Bay City. Temps were in the mid-30s. Traffic on 23 was less busy than I expected while the traffic on 75 was much heavier than I expected.

Deb and I like downtown Bay City. Like many Midwest cities, the downtown has gone through a renaissance over the past 20 years. Downtown BC was busy. We parked in the same free parking lot that we normally use. On our walk to the restaurant, we passed a shoe repair biz and a cheese biz. About a block away is an old candy store that has existed for many years. Unfortunately, the fabric store closed a year or two ago. We like the yarn store that exists in BC, but it's not located in the downtown area.

At 1:00 p.m., we were seated inside the Old City Hall Restaurant, which is an old building with exposed broke interior walls. Hip and chic inside. It used to be the town's city hall building long ago. It has a beautiful long bar. The place offers a limited menu, but the meals are performed well. I like small menu places because it tells me that the eatery is focused on doing a few things really well.

I ordered a Tom Collins cocktail. It was the first time that I have ever tried a Tom Collins. I have been exercising in the basement, since the spring of 2008. I used the treadmill for years until it broke down. For the last four years, I have been using the elliptical machine in our basement that is somewhat broken down, but it still works good enough for me. To keep my sanity, I have small, old-style, cube-shaped TV connected to a DVD player. DVDs is the only thing that the TV can play. I have a stack of movies and TV shows that I watch over and over and over. I need to add some new movies. Anyway, I'm currently watching "Meet the Parents." In that movie, the Robert DeNiro character enjoys drinking Tom Collins.

According to the restaurant's menu, the Tom Collins contained gin, lemon, sugar, and soda. I liked it, although it might have been a bit too sweet for me.

The small menu lacked vegan-like options, but they did offer a grilled cheese sweet potato sandwich. I ordered that minus the cheese. The sandwich contained tasty whole wheat bread, mashed sweet potatoes, arugula, and sprouts. It was excellent. That was probably the first time that I have ever eaten a sweet potato sandwich, but it worked well. Their french fries were delicious too.

Steve ordered a Cobb salad. I think that was the name. It contained steak and hard-boiled egg(s). The eggs were sliced and presented well. It was a good looking meal. Deb and Amy ordered the mushroom ravioli, which also looked like a good meal, but it contained too much butter for me.

I drank a little coffee after the meal, and I ignored the desserts. Deb ordered creme brulee, but I passed.

After our meal, we took photos by the restaurant's large Christmas tree that wad decorated with small, white lights. We left Bay City around 3:30 p.m. The drive one-way is slightly more than two hours.

We arrived home around or after 5:30 p.m. Amy and Steve left for home shortly thereafter. Deb and I relaxed at home in the evening.

Sat, Nov 30

Deb and I stayed home all day and evening. Deb knitted for a while, and I crocheted a lot.