Places to go and things to see by Gypsy Bev

Archive for January, 2019

Possum Products Creates Basic Wooden Toys

Russ with saw

Russell uses a special saw to cut out pieces for his wooden toys.

Toys for kids of all ages can be found at Possum Products in Newcomerstown. Russ Riggle creates quality handmade wooden toys from over seventy different items he has designed.

Russ Basic Wooden Toy

The popular trend today is to return to the basics with his small wooden car.

   Making toys was a hobby for Russ for many years. He’s always had a passion for building things from wood and remembers a very rough wooden car he built at the age of five. By the time he was in fourth grade, he built a wooden Viking ship. Now his toys are more elaborate and much better quality.

Russ working on wheels

The wheels for his toys are all custom made and attached with wooden pegs.

   After working as a mechanical engineer for many years, his job moved overseas about seven years ago. At that time, he started selling some of the toys he made at the Newcomerstown Farmers’ Market. Sitting around isn’t something that Russ enjoys, so he began experimenting with new designs and products. Russ claims that he makes “anything with four wheels or that can fly in the sky”.

Russ building trucks

Assembling the toys is a bit like putting a puzzle together.

   Besides their being quality toys, they are all made right here in Newcomerstown, Ohio with U.S.A. materials. All toys are smoothly sanded but there is no finish applied. They are lead-free, with no metal or plastic parts and the glue is even food grade in case a young child just happens to chew on it.

   Now he travels to festivals and craft shows all over the state and has even expanded his shows to some out-of-state venues. His toys are very popular as people like to buy things that are created with American-made materials and craftsmanship.

Russ Setting Up

Son Adam helps his dad Russ set up the booth at the Paul Bunyan Festival.

   His sons enjoy helping at the festivals and even make a few wooden toys of their own. Adam and Ben frequently appear to help their dad with setting up the booth. Both enjoy talking to the customers as much as Russ does, and Russ says they are both great salesmen as well.

Russ display

Children like to play with the many toys on display at festival times.

   Having seen Possum Products at the Paul Bunyan Show, Salt Fork Arts & Crafts Festival, and Algonquin Mill Fall Festival, it became evident that their products were something that people from birth to ninety years old enjoy. Boys and girls walk up to their booth and roll the toys along the table, often reorganizing it. It’s a great tool for developing their imagination.

Russ Log truck

This wooden log truck complete with pine logs is his most popular toy.

   One little girl found a snowplow on the table, picked it up and walked outside. There she decided to move some gravel around with the snowplow. She put that toy to work.

   Their display includes a large selection of small wooden animals, which the children pick up and name. One youngster was naming the animals and came to one they called “Cloud”, which was really a sheep. Another cute name the children came up with was “Fast Food” for a pig on wheels.

Russ semi with race car

Get two wooden toys together with this semi carrying a race car.

   Since Russ works out of his basement at home, purchases must be made from the website and festivals he visits. They are busy with shows, and just recently had done eight shows in three weekends. Now you see why it’s important to have his sons involved.

    A rather popular way of using the wooden items is to laser etch the customer’s logo onto the sides. Then they can hand out the wooden truck or tractor with a long-term advertisement. While he doesn’t do custom work, he does get many ideas from his customers for future toys.

Russ helicopter 2

This made a great gift for a helicopter pilot.

   This is Russ’ only job right now and he spends many long hours doing something that he thoroughly enjoys. Making trains, planes, trucks, and tractors takes time and patience as he uses his own designs and even custom-makes his wheels. His prices are very reasonable ranging from $2 for small animals to $72 for a train.

Russ Salt Fork tent

Possum Products displayed at the Salt Fork Arts & Crafts Festival.

   Visit Russ on his website www.possumproductsllc.com or see his toys in person at a festival or consignment shop near you. In the coming year, Possum Products will be going to Algonquin Mill Fall Festival, Pike Elementary, Roscoe Village and the Salt Fork Arts & Crafts Festival.

   For the guys at Possum Products, the best thing about making toys is the look on a child’s face when they pick up the toys. Russ takes pride in the wooden toys he makes. When he isn’t making toys, he’s playing with them!

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COSI – A Great Place to Spend a Winter’s Day

COSI outside

COSI provides a great place for school field trips at any time of the year.

When the weather outside is frightful, inside COSI is still delightful. It’s easy to spend an entire day there without any problem. There’s no age limit on enjoyment as kids from 1-100 enjoy interacting with the exhibits.

   This all began in 1958 as a dream of Sandy Hallack, an advertising executive, who thought Columbus would be the perfect place for a science museum. It took time and determination to get the cooperation of the community, but his dream was fulfilled in 1964.

COSI Hope Street Market

Visit businesses from 1898, then turn the corner and see these same businesses in 1962. Progress!

   The old Memorial Hall building became its first home for the Center of Science and Industry (COSI) and over 5000 people visited on Opening Day. Admission was 50 cents for an adult and 25 cents for children.

   So many museums are places where you can’t touch anything. Hallack wanted a place where you could not only touch things but move them and take them apart. Many say, “It’s the jewel of the community.”

COSI High Wire Unicycle Rider

Adults and children thrill during trips across the High Wire Unicycle.

   In 1999, they moved to a new home built especially for COSI. Since that first opening, over 33,000,000 people have visited both sites. That’s impressive!

   There’s so much variety of scientific displays that it’s impossible to cover all of them fully. These are some of the highlights that impressed me on a recent visit.

COSI Tyranosaurus Rex

Children stop to study Tyrannosaurus Rex in the Dinosaur Gallery.

   Dinosaurs are here! New discoveries and new technology are helping scientists piece together information to see what dinosaurs were really like. In this permanent exhibit, see a reconstructed Tyrannosaurus Rex in actual size.

COSI Stegasauras

Life-size skeletons of dinosaurs, such as Stegosaurus, help make history come alive.

   View a collection of dinosaur prints found on a farm in Texas. An interesting section shows the transition from dinosaur to bird. Be sure to catch a glimpse of Toasty, their gila monster before you leave. This is just a taste of what you will find at COSI’s Dinosaur Gallery.

   On the first floor, you also see the wide variety of traveling exhibits in the American Museum of Natural History. Right now that exhibit explores the “Power of Poison”. Find stories about how poisons have worked throughout history. This exhibit will soon be replaced with another traveling exhibit “Dragons, Unicorns, and Mermaids”. Let your imagination expand!

COSI Space capsule

Test your skills as an armchair astronaut in a SImulated Space Capsule Ride.

   Their planetarium is the largest in the state of Ohio. Various shows can be seen throughout the day. “Wildest Weather” lets you witness weather found on all the planets from dust storms on Mars or the whirling, high-speed winds on Venus to a trip through the asteroid belt.

   In the Human Body section, you can have your pulse taken, check out your age through technological viewing, and view all the body parts while learning their functions. One special room there was the “Echo Free Room”, where you could enter a very quiet and peaceful place, almost as quiet as my apartment.

COSI Poseidon's Realm

Poseidon’s Realm in the Ocean creates an opportunity to explore water with hands-on experiences.

   Children love to play in water so the Ocean exhibit appeals to almost everyone. Parents and grandparents can be seen joining in the water fun. Touch, hold and feel the water as you study the mysteries of Poseidon’s realm.

COSI Baby Alligator

A COSI guide encourages children to touch, Tick-Tock, an American Alligator baby.

   Another spot that is coming up on January 26 is called “Large in Charge” and will teach people about alligators and crocodiles, who have roamed the planet for over 200 million years. This is one of those preview places where a COSI guide had an American Alligator Baby, called “Tick-Tock”, for children to touch.

COSI Kids Space

A safe haven is provided for small children to place in Kids Space, an enclosed area.

   An interesting place on the second floor was called “Kids Space” and only children under six were allowed in and they were carefully monitored. Here little ones could play in a tree house, visit a barnyard, climb in an ambulance or paint pictures. There was even a place to play with water at Splish Splash. What fun!

COSI WOSU

See yourself perform on WOSU TV or check out their giant kaleidoscope.

   Sometime during the day, you’ll most likely want to stop at the National Geographic Giant Screen Theater – The Ultimate Window to the World. Now showing several times a day are “Oceans” and “Incredible Predators”.

COSI Bathroom door

Educational information continues even on the doors of the restrooms.

   Everywhere there are hands-on things to try as answers to science questions are discovered. COSI employees can be found giving lectures in small auditoriums or demonstrating experiments and animals in the hallways. It’s non-stop entertainment if you love adventure or science.

COSI on wheels

COSI on Wheels has visited over 7.5 million students at their schools.

   Field trips to COSI create learning experiences, but if your school isn’t able to attend perhaps they would like to have a visit from COSI on Wheels. This program takes special features of COSI to schools in the area with the farthest they have ever gone to Memphis, Tennessee. Students from Kindergarten to 6th grade find their dynamic science activities of interest.

COSI Laser Harp

Music lovers always stop to play the Laser Harp before leaving COSI.

   Children have a great time exploring COSI and so do adults. You’ll discover something new each time you stop by. Plan a visit soon for a day filled with fun while learning. Kids of all ages are welcome!

COSI is located in Columbus, Ohio at 333 W. Broad Street. Take I-70 and use exit 99C. Your GPS will be handy for a few turns before arriving at Broad Street. Some may prefer to follow Route 40 (Broad Street) through downtown Columbus. COSI is right along the bank of the Scioto River.

Daniel Caron Captures Meaningful Photos and Explores Kindness

Daniel Caron Captures Meaningful Photos and Explores Kindness

There is always something interesting going on outside in nature.”

Daniel photographer

Daniel enjoys being close to nature in his journey through life.

Daniel Caron’s favorite place for photography is in nature because it’s always available and changes almost every moment. When people ask where he takes his pictures, they are surprised that often Daniel replies, “In my backyard.”

Daniel Falling Transition

Falling Transition

   Not only does Daniel take great pictures, but he also adds meaning to them. Take the simple autumn leaf as it fell to the ground in his backyard with colors ranging from green to red to yellow. To Daniel, this leaf signified transition.

   Nature teaches a lesson to many people who are in transition just like the leaf. The green is a time of growth, while red signifies that robust time of life. Yellow mellows out for their golden years.

Daniel Late Blooming Rose

A late-blooming rose covered with dew

   Obviously, this photographer observes and sees things in nature and people that others don’t see. When he does senior portraits, they capture an extra special side of each individual.

Daniel watching the sunset

Watching the Sunset

   Two people have been a tremendous influence in his life. His dad gave Daniel his love of nature through National Geographic specials the family watched together. His wife taught him more about kindness and caring than anyone else.

Daniel Ancient Art by Fremonts

Ancient Art by Fremonts in Utah at Dinosaur National Monument

   Often he gives talks on photography at various libraries and community functions. At a recent lecture at Crossroads Library, Daniel impressed those in attendance with his skill and photographs. He was willing to give instructions and ideas to improve others’ photos as well.

Daniel Bee

A bee sips sweet nectar

   This award-winning photographer didn’t promote any certain camera for pictures and even acknowledged that the handy cell phone produced some nice pictures. Not only is Daniel a great photographer, but also a great teacher of ways to enhance your photography skills. Be sure to bring your camera or cell phone to his lectures for some hands-on experience.

Daniel painted bunting

Colorful Painted Bunting

   When talking to Daniel about his pictures, it was surprising to discover there was much more than photography on his mind. Previously, he had worked in administration at a West Virginia college where he provided wellness and substance abuse education. He also has been an adjunct faculty member at three West Virginia colleges.

   But then 9/11 happened!

Daniel at Conference

Daniel prepares for annual APCA conference where he found outstanding connections.

   When he saw the caring messages shared that day, he decided to leave the field of education and spread the word about improving people’s daily interactions. Since that time he has worked with thousands of people across the United States, Canada and several foreign countries. He makes it clear that he is not a motivational speaker as he focuses on skill development to help people get along with each other.

   Most people don’t want to be butting heads with traffic, family, and society, but people don’t know what to do about it. That’s what Daniel is trying to teach in his engagements. We all need that kindness and love connection.

Daniel winter purple finch

Purple Finch in Winter

   His talks are made in many different places such as senior centers, correctional facilities, service men and women, colleges and universities. The farthest he has traveled was to South Africa where he worked with children at a school for the deaf showing them that someone cares.

   One of his recent speeches was entitled “How to Play with Difficult People”. It’s all about building a better life and living the way we really want to be. “Few things build community faster than showing people how everyone is connected.”

Daniel with Smokey the Bear at Wayne National Forest

Daniel met Smokey Bear while helping at Wayne National Forest.

   When asked for the first tip to better living, the answer was surprising. “Pay attention to your breathing.” When we are upset our breathing changes. By taking a deep breath and letting go with a sigh, you can feel the body relax.

   Daniel takes his work seriously. “If you knew that kindness and connection benefited everyone, why would you behave any other way?”

DanielNorth American male Cardinal in snow

Northern Cardinal in Snowstorm

   Returning to the original topic of photography, Daniel gave this advice, “Quick and easy doesn’t always work. A photographer takes his time. There are no shortcuts.” Daniel recalls sitting in his backyard early in the morning just waiting for the sun to come up and hit the frost on the trees. The photographs he captures makes the waiting all worthwhile.

Daniel Flower

Life in Full Bloom

   His dream would be to have an assignment from National Geographic as this wanderlust would enjoy visiting every zoo in the world. While he already swam with dolphins, wolves and bears, he’d love to see the penguins and seals in Antarctica before they are gone. There is so much going on in the world that Daniel said, “I don’t want to miss the adventure.”

Daniel Nature Waterfalls

Sounds of Nature

   But Daniel is content wherever he is. He commented that when he grew up in Massachusetts, he would never have believed that someday he would live in Ohio with his wife, two rescue horses, six chickens, four roosters and six cats. His love of nature certainly is evident in everything he does.

   Daniel’s advice for everyone is simply, “Be kind.”

To reach Daniel Caron to engage him for a talk about photography or kindness, call him at 740-314-9198 or email him using: daniel@danielsprograms.com .

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