Bull Thistle

Bull Thistle

We are past the mid-way date of August. Summer will be giving way to another autumn season sooner than expected. This summer of 2014 has proven to be a rainy season. We have had numerous days where rain has fallen and sometimes very heavy. I had one back yard flood that was not the norm. We have not had any ninety degree days as of this date. I like that! The Allegheny River flowing through the middle of Armstrong County has had chocolate-colored water for several months too. This has been an interesting season.



Yellow Jewelweed

Yellow Jewelweed

Gardens are doing well and wildflowers are too. I enjoy the beauty of wildflowers. Summer wildflowers are usually much higher from ground level as the early soring flowers are. In April and May the sun easily reaches the forest and field floors allowing for blossoming closer to the ground. However, as the grasses grow and the leaves occupy the upper canopy of the woodlands, wildflowers have a need to shoot higher to avoid being crowded out.

Queen Anne's Lace

Queen Anne’s Lace

The Jewelweed is an interesting plant. The stems are hollow and the flower is usually found near wetlands and water sources. As a kids, and sometimes as an adult, I touch the ripened seed pods to watch them explode. the seeds fly all over. We have the yellow and spotted varieties locally. Hummingbirds enjoy the flowers as well.

A beautiful wildflower meadow.

A beautiful wildflower meadow.

Spotted Jewelweed

Spotted Jewelweed

There are a number of thistle species here in western  Pennsylvania. The beautiful flowers, however, have small spikes along their stems.



The Ironweed has a deep purple color. It grows well along water sources too.

The Queen Anne’s Lace is an interesting flower. Each flower, prior to blooming, is shaped as a bird’s nest. Another thing to look for is the small deep purple center of each blossom.

Always a sign of autumn’s approach are the goldenrods. One can see fields of yellow at times from this specie.

A Goldenrod

A Goldenrod

Over the last several months I have been engaged in a music project. The project consisted of working with my friend, Al Mechling. Al is owner, along with his wife Marla, of Mechling Bookbindery  north of Butler, Pennsylvania on Route 38. The business deals with books and restoration and bookbinding. Their web site is: http://www.mechlingbooks.com

Marla Mechling Photo

Marla Mechling Photo

However, back to the music project details. Al, and myself, worked on making a CD entitled, “Songs from The Heart.”  Al did all lead vocals on this country-styled endeavor. My task was to arrange and place the various instrumental tracks prior to his vocals. I played all guitar parts, bass guitar and did some piano and keyboard tracks as well. Al’s daughter, Melissa Lauer, performed the piano work on an old classic called, “The Last Date.” The CD has over eighty tracks on it with twelve songs recorded. This equated to many hours of work!

Al is greatly involved in the MAKE-A-WISH FOUNDATION and he is donating all proceeds to this organization.

A special introduction was included on this accomplishment by Ashley-Anne Stump. Ashley-Anne is a special young lady to Al. She has benefited from Al’s dedication and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Anyone interested with a purchase can go to:  http://www.mechlingbooks.com/product-p/cd100.htm



When one walks through Kittanning, Pennsylvania today it is difficult realizing a great people once lived and died here many years ago. Those people were mainly the people of the great Lenni-Lenape tribe. They are better known as the Delaware Indians.

These natives lived here, possibly,  from as early as 1723. They had been moved west because of the English push and, sad to say, treachery from greedy people of the time. They had lived in peace for many years under William Penn and his fairness to them.

The year of 1755, a different Indian lived in Kit-Han-Ne. (Kittanning) They now had allied themselves with the French and began an all out war with the English, and others to their east.

To thwart these native incursions under the war chiefs, Shingas and Captain Jacobs, a Lieutenant Colonel John Armstrong and 307 men traveled east to attack the natives at their home.

The attack came on September the 8th of 1756. The Indians were miraculously taken by surprise. However, the Pennsylvania troops suffered much as well. the force retreated at one point, but the Delaware and Shawnee living there were met with a morale defeat. They eventually moved further east. Their raids, however, continued.

I wrote a book called The ATTACK ON KIT-HAN-NE. The book can be ordered through: Mechling Bookbindery at http://www.mechlingbooks.com

The original 48 X 30 inch painting shown above was started in 2008. I wasn’t excited about the art and shelved it for a time. The art was much too busy. I was trying to show so much of the area and the art just didn’t work. A couple of years ago I “attacked” the painting and eliminated much of the background.

Hope you like the painting.




Marty Stuart

Marty Stuart

The last few months allowed Laurie and I to attend a couple of concerts featuring Vince Gill and Marty Stuart with their bands. The musicians are top notch and the vocals and harmony vocals are sounds of musical perfection.                  DSC_0030

Vince Gill sang away with many of his hits from over the years as did Marty Stuart.   DSC_0015                                                                       DSC_0008

Baby Skunks

DSC_0007 I looked outside early this morning to see some movement along a brick wall bordering the driveway. I realized the movement was from baby skunks. In fact, there were four of the little fellers.

They would pace back and forth and play like puppies some. I attempted to understand what was transpiring here. Where was their mother? Did she get killed somehow? Was she searching for food?      DSC_0009

I moved close to the little ones eventually feeling quite safe. I have been sprayed on several occasions and I really didn’t wish to have an odor on my body this day.

I attempted to lure them by sound and eventually took a turkey feather and dragged it along in front of them. Two skunks responded and followed me to behind the garage. I placed some boards along the lower deck to, hopefully, keep them in place. I was wanting to keep them away from the road.

DSC_0005   The second two didn’t respond the same and they kept moving away. I looked back and one of the other skunks had gotten over the board and was coming to me.  I picked the skunk up and replaced him behind the garage again and added another board. Where was the other one? It went into the garage and I caught it and tried to do something, but these little black and white fur balls would not cooperate at all!

I gave in and looked for the two I didn’t catch and now three had disappeared. They had to be under the deck. I placed the other captured skunk near the deck and it went under.

I certainly hope they avoid the road, but I did all I can realistically do. I am hoping the mother is under the deck too.

UPDATE: On Sunday June 25, I picked up the three remaining skunks and transported them to the woodlands. I had lost one the evening before as the skunk fell through a grate and I couldn’t retrieve it.

I was giving them feed and they were eating. I realized they would not be able to survive here at the house due to a road and traffic and the fact they were wandering more and more.




DSC_0006 We discussed options for Father’s day. My sister Ruthie Wolfe suggested we go for a picnic and Clear Creek State park became the site where we would go. DSC_0004

The six of us arrived at the park on a beautiful summer-like day. We saw some deer including three young bucks. We watched for bear too. Mom wished to see a bear, but the only ones we saw were a distortion of facts. Three of us, on a hike, decided to play political personnel with her and spin some facts. We told her we saw a bear with two cubs. Later, we told her the truth.

The Family

The Family

Some of us did do some limited hiking within the confines of the park. I always enjoy traveling through the woods searching for things to see and photos to take.

DSC_0021                              DSC_0033

The actual Clear Creek was flowing faster than normal due to the amounts of recent rain, but the waters were clear and pure. However, the Clarion River was high and slightly brown. The Clear Creek flows into the Clarion River.

DSC_0034   My step father Bob appreciated the event. He has filled my father’s shoes in many ways. The six of us make up the family. My mom Ruth and Bob. My sister, Ruthie and her husband Tim and Laurie and I make up the Last of the Mohicans.


Bob and Ruthie trying to be photographers!

Bob and Ruthie trying to be photographers!


DSC_0160  The last area of the Hocking Hills  DSC_0162adventure was to the Cantwell Cliffs. As stated I love exploring around rocky outcrops and this site didn’t disappoint me.                                                    DSC_0163

DSC_0183 The cliffs were beautiful to behold. We, also, walked a trail down through a wooded hollow. At the gorge’s end a steep rock shelter was

Fat Woman's Squeeze

Fat Woman’s Squeeze

found. One needs to work through two huge rocks known as the “Fat Woman’s Squeeze”.  Hand hewn rock steps flow through these rocks. Many other man-made steps are located at various places to aid in walking.

DSC_0110  The large trees were quite impressive as well. We later worked another trail, that for the most part, flowed the cliffs upper rim.


The hollow features a small stream known as Buck Run.


View from the rim.

View from the rim.

As we walked these trails the skies darkened and a light rain began to fall. Threats of severe weather forced a decision to abandon the hikes for another time.    DSC_0175


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