Sunday, October 28, 2007

A Quick, Mini Vacation

This last Thursday, Friday and Saturday I went with my sister Cindy and her husband and daughter to their cottage in Crivitz, Wisconsin. It's about a 3 hour drive straight north from Waukesha, where we live. Cindy's husband wanted to get an early start so we left at 5:30 in the morning! That is truly an ungodly hour for me! I went straight from work to her house (remember I work 2nd shift) and tried to get a little sleep. You know how it is -- when you know you HAVE to get up, you just can't sleep. I may have dozed for an hour and a half and then got up at 3:30 and waited for the rest to wake up. I must have had a flu virus, 'cause I felt like crap all the way up. But I did manage a few pictures between bouts of nausea.

Beautiful sunrise. I sometimes see this when I'm going to sleep!!
Sort of looks like a calendar photo. Not bad taken through a car window.
This is Green Bay. An oil refinery is right on Lake Michigan and look at the smoke spewing out into the air! Below are oil tanks and some kind of retention ponds. I don't know what the hell they are retaining, but the water was a strange intense chartreuse color! Doesn't it look like some sort of ugly, futuristic, environmental nightmare. It smelled awful and Cindy is sure that there are higher than normal rates of cancer in that unfortunate city. Glad it didn't take long to leave that behind.
As we got farther north, I could see that there must have been a hard frost.
Here's the cottage nestled in what's left of a pine plantation. This is a back view.

A closer look at the deck and back of the A-frame. It is very nice and as you can see, Cindy insisted that the area surrounding the house be left pretty much untouched. Kris didn't mind at all not having a lawn to mow. The soil is primarily sand so it would have been an expensive chore to keep a lawn going.

I thought this was funny. Kris is trying to put together some sliding cabinet racks. You can kind of see on the box what it is. He wasn't reading the directions and the contraption kept falling apart as he put new pieces on. Doesn't it look like sort of a weird Tinker Toy play set?? He never got it put together . . .
After laying around all of Thursday and drinking as much fresh water as I was able to choke down (Cindy insists that lots of water, in glass bottles that is, is the key to feeling well and getting over illnesses fast), I went to bed early. The next day I felt pretty good so we went to "The 14 Acres" that they also own. (They speak of the land like it is capitalized. ) It was once a Christmas tree farm and they had someone come and replant it with pines. Then ,primarily Cindy ,planted all kinds of varieties of seedlings she'd gotten from the DNR over the past years. They aren't going to do anything with the land but wanted trees put back on it. It is a labor of pure love for Cindy - that's why it is in capital letters.
Cindy surveying the growth of the White pines.
There is a ridge that is at the far north end of the land that is beautiful. It wasn't farmed so, as you can see, there are lots of lovely mature Oaks, Birch, Maples and Aspen.

Here is a little hunting shack that is on the top of the ridge. Notice that the front of it has been clawed by a black bear. They do that to mark their territories.

The bear also left this behind. It is also used to mark territory.

A neat view from inside the shack. A neighbor is allowed to use it during the hunting season and he gets a deer from it every year. I'm not sure how many deer will be coming past this year with that bear hanging around and pooping all over the place!

Cindy admiring a fantastic Blue Spruce specimen on the property.
Isn't this a very picturesque old barn. Those are green shingles on the roof, not moss like we first thought. It's a shame that this stately building hasn't been kept up. We saw this on our way to a fishing spot of Kris' that they wanted to show me.
This was so nice and notice how the bridge railing details mimic the windows in the power plant.
It just proves that something can be utilitarian and pleasing at the same time. As an aside, whenever I take trips I take pictures of power plants with transformers. That's because I work for a company that makes electrical transformers and I like to see them in action.
Here is a view down the river away from the dam. Kris has caught some big bass just under the dam.
From the river we were on our way to the obligatory Wisconsin Friday Fish Fry. The fish fry was at a resort called The Four Seasons on a 100 acre island called Miscauno Island in the Menominee River. In 1905 a luxury get-away for the rich was built here. A one way rail bridge is the only way to get to the island . After the entire place burned down in 1923 it was rebuilt, with a very posh club house, golf course and resort rooms. It is said to have entertained Al Capone and other shady characters of that time as well as celebrities and distinguished guests. The past 4 years they've added a 55 unit hotel to the resort without taking away too much of the charm.

As we walked up to the original clubhouse, now the restaurant.
This is pretty imposing for an "up north" place. I wish they had one of the grounds keepers straighten up those corn shocks though.

Cindy and family checking out the old photos of visitors to the resort in the dining room where we ate. The food was excellent and we had more than we were able to finish. We'd eaten very early - 4:30! (Kris didn't want to have to come at the busy time -- well, as you can see, we're the only ones there.....) so I had my left overs later that night.

These are the steps up to the entrance. They look quite grand, but were built at a strange width. When walking down them, you can't take two full size steps. It's sort of like a step and a half, which is really difficult after a while. You have to keep your eye on what you're doing. (I just walked on the grass half way down.)
On Saturday, again we got up at an obscene hour (6:30) so we "could get an early start" and we left at 9:00 a.m. and were home by noon. It was a "quick hit" vacation but I had a good time considering I was sick part of the time and didn't get much sleep. The area is so pretty and I always have a feeling of renewal when I come back from the Northwoods. Nature will do that to you . . .
A happy life is one which is in accordance
with its own nature.
Marcus Annaeus Seneca
Bye for now,

Monday, October 22, 2007

Bulbs and the Family Outing

This past week started with some more packages dropped at our door. The big bulb order I placed at Van Engelen arrived. This first box is a collection of 5 different types of miniature daffodils that will go into Steve's new planting area.

These others are Allium, Chionodoxa, Eremurus (Foxtail lily) and Orienpet and Oriental lilies. They are all in great shape and packaged expertly. This weekend I planted some of the Allium, one of the bags of Daffodils and the Eremurus.


This Sunday was also the time for our October Family Outing. We went to a pumpkin farm and then carved pumpkins at Cindy's house. All the "usual suspects" were there, Jesse and Maiko , (and for a second time, I'm apologizing to Maiko for spelling her name wrong. In a previous blog I said it was spelled Miako and she told me today is Maiko. I think I've got it right now!) Guy, Kelly, my sister Sue, Cindy and myself. And some newcomers, Ashley and her boyfriend Shaun also joined us.

Ashley getting the pumpkin carving table ready and posing with boyfriend Shaun

and with Cindy's big dog, Misty. They are both such sweeties!

The pumpkin farm was in a lovely area and the leaves were fantastic. Of course there were horses there and a cute little dog who loved all the attention Jesse was giving him.

We took a wagon ride around and through a beautiful maple woods and were dropped off in the pumpkin patch.

Sue preparing to hop on and Guy waiting patiently on the hay bales. Off we go . . .

A view of the woods and trail and Maiko and Jesse with a backdrop of maple leaves.

After the very enjoyable wagon ride, the pumpkin patch was a bit of a let down. Maybe because it is a week before Halloween or a bad year for pumpkins, but we didn't see many pumpkins at all. Those colored dots way in back are my family, searching . Among the dried grass were pumpkin vines and what seemed like rotted or squashed pumpkins all over the place.

Happily, the farmer had another wagon with about 2 dozen pumpkins on and around it in the field and we found some pretty good ones.

And Guy searching for pumpkins in the high grass.

Once back home, we started carving . . . .

Misty was smiling away because she loves company!

And Prince (I call him Prince of Darkness because of his bad habit of swiping at people when they walk past him.) did a very good imitation of a scary Halloween kitty.

Kelly is getting to be quite the lovely young lady. She usually won't let me snap too many pictures of her, but I was sneaky and got some very nice photos.

Guy found this little misshapen pumpkin and really used his imagination to fashion this neat creation.

And since I was eating and talking a lot, my jack-o-lantern was pretty bland.

Cindy's shows very little originality too - it looks kind of like a robot. But then, she likes to talk as much as I do!

The weather today was perfect - in the 70s and very windy. We were lucky because tomorrow is supposed to change drastically and be in the 50s. Our family outings seemed to be blessed with obliging weather all the time - we've not had one rain-out. And I am blessed with this wonderful family who brighten my life no matter what the weather.


Neat Mushroom Picture


Our lives teach us who we are.

Salman Rushdie, Independent on Sunday,

February 4, 1990


Bye for now,


Sunday, October 14, 2007

Bloom Day and Other Things

I was in a real quandary today, trying to think of what I had blooming on this October Bloom Day. Since it rained nearly all day, I could only use the pictures I'd taken Saturday and I really thought they weren't at all interesting. But, as I slowly went through them, I realized there is quite a bit blooming here. Of course, many of them I've posted before, but they still look lovely and they may not last much longer. So here is my Bloom Day and a few other things that made this weekend very worthwhile.

The back yard looks beautiful with the late afternoon sun shining through the trees.

Golden flowers of Big Bluestem grass.

Iceberg climbing roses and Victoria Salvia.

The Snapdragons just love this cooler, moist weather.

Double Begonias (I grew from seed) in my Down Under Pot. The seedlings are planted in the bottom of the pot and after settling in, the pot is hung upside down and the plants grow up. They look really pretty.

The three-tier planter is still lush with Coleus and Begonia and the Impatiens in the window boxes are going strong! The ones in the living room window boxes are now 31" tall ! !

No wonder the birdfeeders need to be filled so often! This little guy sticks his tongue in the openings and the seed falls on the ground. Then he eats it. I think that turkey is eyeing up the graceful bird statue.


Indoors there were some fun things too. Saturday started out really well with the mailwoman dropping off my first real seed catalogue for next year.

Good old Thompson and Morgan! I don't buy much from them (they are really costly and are usually "sold out" of the new flashy items that get my attention) but they are the place to go for very odd and unique seeds. The little crow is my first Halloween decoration I've put up at home this year.

She also had this package. My order from Daedalus Books and Music.

This is a really neat company that has books and CDs marked way down. The selection isn't anything like Barnes and Nobel, but I manage to find all kinds of things I'm interested in. Here's an example of what I ordered today. Some are Christmas gifts, but most are just for my enjoyment:

1. Deluxe Origami 2. Something Rotten 3. Death and the Jubilee 4. Elephant Maximus 5. Inside Islam 6. The Meaning of Everything 7. War on Our Freedoms 8. We Know What You Want 9. Best of NewPort '57 10. Chick Corea Remembering Bud Powell 11. Dave Brubeck - My Romance 12. Lieder of Schumann and Brahms

The last four are music. I began reading Death and the Jubilee, a mystery that takes place in England in the 1890s, last night and am nearly done. We Know What You Want is a very interesting book on how the public is manipulated and influenced by all the facets of media and advertising. And we think we are making our own decisions most of the time . . .

As I sat and wrote a letter to my penfriend in England, I listened to the Best of NewPort '57. When people were trying to organize the jazz festival in 1955 in New Port, Rhode Island some of the society women were quite upset. To quote: One society woman said, "I don't mind the music too much, but the people are so vulgar." The musicians back then were very conservative and laid back by today's standards. Heck, most all of them wore a suit and tie and had short hair. How times have changed.

Last week I broke down and ordered some spring bulbs. I wasn't going to make more work for myself this Fall but I was taken in by the bright colors and promises of Spring beauty by the Van Engelen catalogue and website. But I tried to keep my purchases as unpalatable to rodents and deer as I could. I mainly sent for mini daffodils, allium, scilla, and chionodoxa which are rarely bothered by hungry creatures. As an experiment I'm getting Eremurus rootstock to see how it fares in my gardens. And for my cutting/vegetable garden, a mix of Orienpet lilies and about 10 Oriental lilies. I know, everything loves lilies, but I will have much more control over them and can even cage them in the cutting/vegetable garden. I'm a fool for lilies.

So, this is my Bloom Day. Next month at this time we'll all be posting pictures of our African Violets!


How inappropriate to call this planet Earth when it is clearly Ocean.

Sir Arthur C. Clarke (1917- )


Bye for now,