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 For more information on chainsaw carving, contact Michael Bihlmaier at 815-404-6375, or Google him.

The carving is done, and our initials have been carved by Mike, and at the back of the tree, he added his signature as artist.

Mike Bihlmaier – 815-404-6375 – and his skateboarding avatar, the bear, have completed the chainsaw carving of our bicentennial oak.

He began the final animals by roughing in the doe and her fawn at the base of the tree.


While the curious squirrel looked on from above.

Meanwhile, the wood chips piled up higher, and higher.

At last, the deer were fully hatched.

While elks Joan and Fred looked on from behind the stone wall.

All the remains is to give the oak its new protective coating, take down the scaffold and clean up the scraps, and maybe add some initials and an autograph (see final edition to come, in a few days).

The frisky squirrel on his branch is now completed.

For more about Mike Bihlmaier of the Echo Carving Team, see this website: http://www.echo-usa.com/Carving-Team/Members/Mike-Bihlmaier. Here’s Mike with his array of echo chain saws being used at the Applewood Lodge oak project.

Mike has prepared the base of the massive tree for the impending carving of a doe and her fawn, which will complete the new, permanent animal and bird population of our tree.


Artist Mike continues to discover new occupants. Here’s a long look at work to date.Now we see a nest taking shape. And so here they are, a wise mother owl enfolding her two chicks in her broad wing. And, now, another character scampers onto the tree — a curious squirrel! The owls better keep a close eye on Mr. Squirrel.

Another cat joined our first today, as artist Mike Bihlmaier (815-404-6375) continues his chainsaw sarving on our deceased, but still kicking, bicentennial oak here at Applewood. Here’s the latest progress:

Great industry and progress continues as chainsaw artist Mike Bihlmaier adds to the menagerie in our 200-plus year-old oak. Here is a raccoon holding and apple, and then another apple on a branch.

Now, Mike begins to carve a cat, lounging on a branch, then a more but not completely finished cat emerges.

And, the work goes on…

When I contemplated our gracious bicentennial oak tree, here at the edge of the forest of Applewood Lodge, I never imagined it populated by a cross-section of the animal kingdom, but now that chainsaw sculpturist Mike Bihlmaier (http://www.7-sons.com/) of Marengo, IL is at it, the first creature has emerged.

It is a red-tailed hawk.

Over the next week, Mike will be adding many other birds and animals of our property to the old oak, including at least one cat, because we have the feral variety on hand, as well as our trusty house cats. Watch this site for more postings, as they arrive. Here is the scaffolding from which Mike is working, and some shots of the work in progress to date.

Nearby the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul is a deep underground structure the size of a Wal-Mart, the Basilica Cistern, that built in the 6th century under the Byzantine Emperor Justinian, where one can have lunch where once 7 thousand slaves labored to provide a safe place to store cool, fresh water for the Great Palace of Constantinople, fed via 2 aqueducts from forest streams outside the city. With a capacity of nearly 3 million cubic feet of water, the cistern’s walls are 13 feet thick and the vaulted roofs are supported by 336 30-foot high columns, brought from throughout the country and a few, like the two columns with sideways and upside-down Medusa sculptures, are thought to be from Roman ruins near the site. The cistern was once traversed by tourists in boats, but today a network of raised walks enabled those who find it to wander through the hauntingly lit columns. The cistern has been repeatedly repaired through the centuries, and was last used to supply water to the Topkapi Palace, but today only a few feet of water remain. Two contemporary films have used the cistern as a setting, From Russia with Love in 1963 and The International in 2009. It’s a nice place to cool off anfter a tough day of shopping in the bazar. .

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