Saturday, June 30, 2007

Some Haiku For the Muse Day

I've chosen Japanese haiku for my very first entry on Garden Blogger's Muse Day. The brief and fleeting impressions that the great poets have written have always been favorites of mine.

The symbols I'm decorating this page with are traditional Japanese calligraphy called Shodo. They have been used in Japan for 1,300 years. I think they add to the feelings of the poems.

Moonlight slanting
Through all this
Long bamboo grove . . .
And nightingale song.

"Wa" - Harmony - Peace
On that inch of land
Beans grew to
Our very door . . .
Yet grand in moonlight!

"Yume" - Dream
Two water-lilies
Shining serenely
Golden . . .
Raindrop-dimpled pool.
"Sei, Shizuka" - Tranquility

Monday, June 25, 2007

Horicon, Homes, Cemeteries and the Marsh

I made a mistake and published what should be the first blog below this. So read the bottom one first, then this one. Sorry . . .
Horicon is a very small town with two things that keep it going. One is the John Deere plant that is huge - 1 million square feet! - and employs 1,500 people. All of their lawn tractors and lawn mowers are made there. It is the only viable business that we saw . And the other thing is the Marsh. Birders, canoeists, kayakers, sightseers, and hunters come to enjoy all it has to offer. Even with these, Horicon seems rather sad and doesn't feel as if it is only a short way from Milwaukee. While we were there, we saw no new construction or even any buildings that had been built in the past 15 - 20 years. There is not food store, drug store, fast food restaurants, or shopping center. There is a busy gas station and an "ice cream station" that had lots of people coming and going. Here is the down town:

There are some very old buildings with character but all are boarded up. The were a few bars that were open but not many people in them.
Cindy and I picked up a pamphlet put out by the Historical Society that had a walking tour map of old homes of distinction from the better, by gone days. And we were surprised and pleased to find these gems as we walked the small neighborhoods. Horicon must have seen some boom times. I'm sorry I don't know much about them,or their architectural styles, but there are very pretty. Our B & B was also listed on the walking tour. Also, the pictures came out kind of dark - only the two middle houses are painted light blue-gray. The other two are white with dark trim.

The large maple on the left was planted the day Lincoln was buried!

This is now the home of the Historical Society.

I guess the Garden Club is no more. But this is quite well kept and someone was beginning to replant the garden when we were there.

Cindy and I had originally wanted to take pictures of barns but our route just didn't have many on it. But we did see two very interesting cemeteries. I just love the beautiful etching in some of the head stones. Here are some very pretty examples.
Here are some grave markers that look like chess pieces.

An angelic one and a very old one.

And some sad ones.

Both of these cemeteries were mainly populated by German families and were out in the country. They were both well kept and quite peaceful. I'm sure they didn't mind us visiting.

And yes, we did get to canoe the Marsh. We luckily decided to just paddle around and not take the long trip. Things started out really well and the water was like glass. We saw cormorants, Great Blue Herons, turtles, and pelicans. The water lilies were just coming into bloom and I got a few nice pictures of them.

Notice the flower has holes chewed in it.

This is what a lot of the area looked like. We were out for at least 3 hours and began to turn back when the wind came up and we had to paddle into it on the return trip. Boy, that was too much like work but we laughed and joked and made the best of it. There were lots of kayakers out (mostly women of various ages and levels of fitness) and we decided that this Fall we're going to try that out. The rental lady said it was easier than it looks.

A map of the Marsh taped on the prow of the canoe. I was in front and Cindy had the harder job in the back.

At the Horicon Nature Refuge tourist center we saw all kinds of these swallow nests with birds swooping back and forth. I've never seen this kind. Does anyone know what variety of swallow builds this?

It's built on top of a standard nest.

And, lastly, here is a present I bought for Steve at the Blue Heron Landing canoe rental business. He just loves it and so do I.
It's about 4 feet tall and weighs quite a bit. There is a little metal perch in his mouth if you look really close.
That is pretty much of what we did. We'd like to go back and visit some Native American effigy mounds that are on the west side of the Marsh. There are quite a number of good hiking areas that we didn't have time to travel. So there will be plenty for us to do next time we visit Horicon.
Bye for now,
P.S. Horicon is the home of the world's most beautiful, big smoke bush. Isn't it lovely!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

A Step Back In Time

We are back from our little trip that lasted only two and a half days but it seems as if it were a month! We had a wonderful time and I hope to be able to convey the enjoyment and fun we had. I'm going to do two blogs. One about where we stayed and the other about the trip through the Marsh and our interesting picture-taking excursions .
This looks like the picture I posted previously from the Inn's web site, but I took this with my little digital camera. As you can see it's quite lovely outside and the interior is even better. Our room is the farthest to the left on the second floor.
There is such a feeling of elegance, warmth, and charm it took my breath away. It far surpassed the pictures on the site.

Cindy relaxing in the double chair.

Pictures of the parlor and breakfast room. The weather was so nice that we ate on an enclosed porch off of the dining area.

This was stuffed French toast, sausage, Parmesan potatoes, juice, and a beginning fruit course of pineapple pieces with maple cream and toasted coconut. Excellent and very filling!

We had to go up two flights of stairs to our room and this was on the first landing.

Amazing and original 1902 stained glass windows! They caught the western sun and were beautiful. This picture is a few steps from our room, looking down the stairs. There were Oriental style rugs covering most of the wood floors but the wide stairway was worn smooth and creaked wonderfully when ever we stepped on it.

This quaint little desk on the second floor housed a computer that was available to guests.

Our room was called the Country Nectar and was the largest of the four. The window seat was a really nice touch as well as the fire place. We didn't use the whirlpool but I'm sure it was quite sumptuous. And the four poster was super comfortable.

The best part of all was that we had the entire Inn to ourselves. The family lived on the third floor and came and went on a set of back stairs (as the servants would have many years ago). They had two teenage sons who we never saw or heard. The first floor consisted of the parlor divided into three seating areas - one for conversation, one for reading or relaxing and a game table spot. It was very large and cozy at the same time. At the front door was a covered porch with a swing and wicker furniture that ran the width of the house. The breakfast room had a lovely breakfront and original fireplace and the screened in dining porch was a few steps down.
All decorated so tastefully and there were so many little touches here and there I can't begin to explain them. Also off the main foyer was a music room with a woefully out of tune piano (I could only play it for a little while) and an ancient pedal organ. The room also doubled as a tiny gift shop as well.
What made everything so magical was the artful way little speakers were placed here and there and soft piano music was always playing. As if someone was practicing in some far off room. I came downstairs late at night and sat on the couch and pretended I was living in another age and there was a small recital going on in my big mansion and I had just stepped away for a breath of air.
Cindy and I were not so "gentile" as that though. The first night we sat on the smaller porch and she drank beer and we laughed and laughed until 1:30. We got pretty loud and had a fantastic time. The second night I had a bottle of champagne and some orange juice, mixed the two and I drank half the bottle! (That is very odd since I never drink. )We played Scrabble at the game table and again laughed and made a lot of noise. Cindy won by a hair but didn't have any champagne either. Those times I will cherish forever. It was so good to forget about everything and just enjoy myself. And, of course, Cindy loved it too.
The two days were over so quickly, but we packed a lot into them. In my next blog I'll explain what we did and what we saw.
Bye for now,

P.S. If anyone is coming to south central Wisconsin, I highly recommend the Honey Bee Inn. It's only an hours drive from Milwaukee and less from Madison. It will be a "step back in time" for you too.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

A Little Vacation

Hi everyone. I just wanted to let you know that I'll be gone for a few days on a mini-vacation with my favorite sister, Cindy. She and I get along really well and we are always laughing. We'll be gone for three days and our destination will be a wildlife preserve called Horicon Marsh. Here is a quote from their website:

Horicon Marsh is the largest freshwater cattail marsh in the United States. Located in southeast Wisconsin, this vast wetland is only one hour drive from Milwaukee and Madison. While this marsh in renown for its migrant flocks of Canada geese, it is also home to more than 260 kinds of birds which have been sighted over the years.
Due to its importance to wildlife, Horicon Marsh has been designated as a "Wetland of International Importance" and a "Globally Important Bird Area." Horicon Marsh is both a state wildlife area and national wildlife refuge.

It's only a bit over an hours drive and a work friend has given me directions for a scenic route. We're going to take pictures of barns along the way or anything interesting that pops up. We'll be staying at a B&B called the Honey Bee Inn. It's a hundred year old Victorian mansion in the little town of Horicon and it looks just fabulous. It is rated the best B&B in Wisconsin by some group so I can't wait to see it. I will have a blog about our trip and there will be pictures so everyone can see it.
A picture off the website. Very pretty!

One day we will canoe through the Marsh and the next day we'll hike some of the various trails. If there is time left we may do a little rummaging or antiquing. It will be a fun get-away no matter what the weather or what we end up doing. I'll be away from work and spending time with my sister.
Here's Cindy laughing. She is always ready for laughter.
Stay tuned for our Horicon trip.....
Bye for now,

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Bloom Day and Bloom's Day

Oh, Sorry everyone but I thought that this Sunday was the 15th and I completely missed Bloom Day. I took lots of pictures last night and then realized that it was the 16th! No matter - I will post what is blooming in my garden tonight.

A literary note: The phrase "Bloom's Day" has been developed from the great work of James Joyce, Ulysses. It is the extremely detailed, symbolic and sometimes maddening literary work telling of one day in the life of Leopold Bloom and his emotional and physical journey through 1904 Dublin on June 16th. The characters mirror the individuals who people the epic poem of Homer's Odyssey . It is quite a difficult read and I've been tackling it bit by bit with the help of a reader's guide - it is interesting, but tough, going. I choose to savor his wonderful writing in very small bites - much easier to digest. Anyway, back to Bloom's Day.

Here is a quote from Wikipedia that explains it somewhat:
Bloomsday—June 16th—is an annual celebration among Joyce fans throughout the world, from Fort Lauderdale to Melbourne. It is celebrated in at least sixty countries worldwide, but nowhere so imaginatively, of course, as in Dublin. There the events of Leopold Bloom's day are reenacted by anyone who cares to participate, and his itinerary is followed all across Dublin.

I find it very interesting that a book that is not easily accessible to the general reader (myself included) has garnered such a seemingly intense and staunch audience.

The large part of my gardening is finished and now there will be the occasional weeding, watering, and deadheading. That, to me, is the easy part. We've had a hot and dry week here and each night when I get home, I'm watering container plantings. It's fun to do in the dark because I hear and smell things that are only apparent at night.
Here are some of the pretties that are in bloom a few days after Bloom Day:

Larkspur and Coreopsis

Petunias and a pig and Dianthus

Iceberg and Nearly Wild
... Stella de Oro and Madame Hardy

Window boxes under our bedroom window .....with pretty Goat's Beard

Lovely petunias, Alyssum and a lone daylily

Fantastic celosia!

Tippy pots ......... the welcome bear ..........Asiatic lily

Campanula .........Goat's Beard .........a small shrub rose I grew from seed.

Rugosa rose and Sweet William in the vegetable garden ....

A new type of "African" impatient.

The gardens are so beautiful now and I'm full of satisfaction.
Take full account of the excellencies which you possess, and in gratitude remember how you would hanker after them, if you had them not. Marcus Aurelius

Bye for now,