Sunday, March 5, 2017

It's a Strange Winter! March 5, 2017

It's been a strange winter ~ I need to say that.  I can't recall, ever in my lifetime, a winter with so many warm spells and rain.   It is really hard to get acclimated to our winter this year as one day it is 40 degrees and the next 0 or below.  A 30 degree switch hasn't been uncommon.  That does nothing for those trying to make and maintain ski trails for skiing either.  It gets warm, ices up the trail, we get a bit more snow, track it again with the HOK skis to pack it ~ and it's warm again.  I haven't hardly been on my "real" cross country skis this winter.  Strange.  The snow is so hard now after rain ~ and plenty of it ~ and then back to sub zero temps ~ I have been walking around the woods ~ not on trails always ~ in my running shoes!   The deer can even walk around ~ out in the open ~ on top.  Some of the deep balsam and spruce woods can be a bit more tricky!
Yesterday, Betsy and I hiked up the hill behind our house, to the Superior Hiking Trail.  Yes, in running shoes ~ not waterproof ones either!   Here we are a ways east of the valley on one of the overlooks on the trail.   Quite a view.  Most of the going was really great.  The only place I had a few issues was when I went off the east side of this big hill.   Creek bottom, shady most of the day, big spruce and balsam ~ and, you guessed it.  Not completely hard snow there.  I went in crotch deep and had to crawl about 30 yards on my hands and knees to get to a spot that would support me again.  Hit a deer trail and I was in fine shape.   But ~ yes.  Back to strange.   It was fun tho and we sure got our exercise.  If I did that every day all winter ~ boy, would I be in fine shape.  I usually rely on cross country skiing to keep pounds off in the winter time.  Hasn't been easy this winter!
On the other hand ~ it has been a great winter for new ice formations.  On shore ones ~ caused by a rough Lake Superior.  It is rough more often than not.  So, between the warm spells melting off the nice details like you see here ~ there's another storm and cold to make more.   It's always a joy to behold this kind of beauty.  I never tire of hitting the shore and finding these treasures.  I do miss not having ice on the lake tho.  That is always a favorite of mine.

I will leave you with a beauty I found a few days ago.  All the colors in this spot were amazing.  I regularly find turquoises a bit into winter.  Sometimes the ambers or golds.  This has them all.  It was just too beautiful for words.  
I do hope you are all enjoying your winter tho ~ even if I am muttering about all the warm spells and rains.   I probably should have posted photos of all that too.  But, time to get out and have a hike with Betsy.  It is, after all, above 30 already this morning and supposed to rain ~ again ~ sigh...............

Sunday, January 22, 2017

January 22, 2017 The New Year Has Begun!

I've been out and about lately.   This mild weather in January is just strange.  Oh ~ we always have a January thaw.  We have for years.   However, days on end of so much gray, mist, rain, fog, ice melt ~ well ~ I'm frustrated.   I love being out taking photos of the winter ice formations.  It is one of my favorite times of the year to take photos ~ unless it's critters!   I love doing critters.  But, you can't always find them.   Just as I would find neat ice, it either melts or gets beaten off the rocks by all the big waves Lake Superior is having pretty regularly this winter.   So, we get what we get.   But, I love pretty ice.
Here's some pretty ice that usually develops in the corner of this little bay in the winter.   We had some waves that day too!   A pretty day to be out and checking shoreline ice.   I have always wished I could capture a better sundown in my "neck of the woods."   So much of the shoreline is angled wrong to catch sunset here.  Everything is in the shade before the sun gets far enough down for sunset  colors.   I have managed it here a few times.  But, usually, doesn't work well.
This spot is one of the few places I can get some decent sunsets in my area.   It is limited; as even here, the sun goes down too far to the north to be able to get any of the scenery in the sunset itself.   It's a good go to for big waves too.   However, it is nice to be able to get a bit more scenic variation for the different  weather and sunrise/sunset colorations .   Some of the photographers, on the shore, will drive a long way for a sunrise.   I have a hard time getting out in the wee hours of the morning on a chance something might happen.  10 miles is one thing.   A two hour drive is something else.   I usually get up early, look at the weather, and then ~ I decide if I will go somewhere.   On winters we have good ice on the shore, I don't need much convincing.   We still have time to get some ice on the shore ~ but, I'd be kidding you if I said we'd get it for sure.   Time will tell.   At present, we have a lot of black rocks showing completely bare of snow and ice.   And, did I mention ~ it's raining!   How many days in a row now!!  And, not even freezing at night.........

I was down the shore on Thursday.   As you can see ~ not much left of any ice or snow on the shore.  I don't get down here all that often so when I do ~ and all the beautiful ice is gone, it is disappointing.   However, always one to look at the bright side ~ look at the beautiful reflecting pools in the rocks of the shoreline.  If the snow and ice hadn't melted, I couldn't take shots like this!  So ~ there is always a plus for every negative!   It was 40 degrees (on Jan. 19th) and I didn't have a hat on or gloves!   Jacket zipped open!  Just a wow kind of an afternoon.   I don't mind some warm days ~ honest.   But, I would prefer my warm days to not go over 28 degrees!
I will leave you with a sunset from last week.   It was amazing.  Sun was blood red and going down....

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

December 28, 2016 Year's End Fast Approaching...........

The end of the year is fast approaching.  There is always something to do, it seems.  I have been busy and really gotten behind on the blog.   Plus, I was a bit sad, mad, frustrated ~ all of them for a while this Fall during the hunting season.   That was a big part of it.   I love my deer friends.  This is a current shot of "Ghost Buck" ~ a young guy ~ named for his unusually white face for a  young deer.
Here's the girl that started my deer story ~ taken late October.  Shadow.   She is still my Shadow and she is fine.   However ~ during the hunting season this Fall, first her 5 1/2 year old daughter, Friendly, was shot by my neighbor's company he invited up for hunting this year.  Not one person, mind you, but two people.   He couldn't be satisfied with getting out in the serious woods and hunting.  He had to shoot "my" pets.   And, invite others to do so also.  They also shot the 1 1/2 year old daughter of Shadow's  ~ which was Betsy's fun friend.  That deer was fond of licking Betsy's face.  If you don't know, Betsy is my dog ~ a rescue dog, said to have a lab/chesapeake dad and a rottweiler mom.   Those two girls were about the friendliest deer ever and so much fun to have around.   Friendly hardly ever left the yard anymore.  But, deer season being what it is and when it is ~ during the rut, things happen.   Like ~ little bucks showing up and wanting to be serious and chasing the girls all over the place.
This was the first little guy they got, before getting the girls.  He was probably born to one of the girls ~ as he was hanging around a lot and not too shy.   When the bucks are young, it's hard to keep track of them as they aren't allowed to stay in the family groups like the girls are.   And, you know, I always expect the bucks will get shot.   That's life, unfortunately.   But, now that the DNR is giving out more doe permits again, the girls aren't safe, at all, anymore.   I personally find it very offensive when the neighbor can't be satisfied with taking one of them himself and has to invite others from out of the area to get the easy deer.  
I think this is turning into a rant ~ which is why I haven't been posting.  I guess I need to get it out of my system.   I have been a deer hunter all my life.   I understand the wanting the venison part.  But, to have to shoot the neighborhood pets we all love ~ I just can't understand that.   I was so perturbed, I didn't even go out hunting this year.  I had bought my license and thought I would.  Altho, I haven't been all that enthusiastic about it the last few years, I still have gone.  It is also getting really difficult to find a deer I don't know!   And, I refuse to shoot someone I know.....  But, when they got shot ~ I just couldn't find the interest in getting out there and doing it.  The first week it was too warm anyway.   We don't have a walk in cooler and it was staying 65 degrees in the garage!  We will see what happens next year.   I might be done!   I still like my venison ~ and being a lot self-sufficient.  But, I like my pets too!

This old boy, taken during that week before hunting season when he got back here ~ (too early) ~ finally ran out of luck this Fall also.  A neighbor down the road about a mile had his 12 year old grandson here hunting.  They got him ~ the boy's first buck.  Buck of a life-time while hunting with Grandpa.   I guess it doesn't get any better than that.  At least, in their case, they didn't know about this deer.   But, what a first deer for a boy!   I sure do miss this guy tho.  He always loved to page me at my window in the basement for treats.  He always was there waiting for me by the garage for his alfalfa too.  Boy, did he love that!   Fine deer buddy for the last few years.   Been a tough year for losing deer buddies.   But, as they say ~ life moves on.   It is hard to not get attached to one's friends.
So ~ we will see what the new year brings ~ in many respects.  I hope it will be a good one for all of you.   I will leave you with a photo of one of my handsome buddies, who is already bald!
Bald is beautiful too!   I do have his second shed antler.   Snow storm when he shed the first one and I haven't found it ~ yet!  Maybe in the Spring!
Happy New Year to you all ~ and, I promise to post something more cheerful!  :)

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Fall Colors are Fading Fast ~ October 23, 2016

I've been busy lately!  Fall is my favorite time of the year.  I love to be out and about in the woods and enjoy the wonderful colors.   This year, up here, was kind of disappointing.   The colors came, here and there, with a red tree here and faded golds there.   It was strange.  The really pretty trees would shed before the greens even started to change on the neighboring tree.  Once the popples all turned to gold, that was amazing.  But, even they were not consistent in their color change.   Some were dead brown and shedding while others were green.   It has been a mild Autumn, for sure.   It was way out in October before I had the first frost up here in the valley.  That is unheard of.  I even asked my dad if he remembered ever going through September without a frost.  He didn't.  He's 85!   I have said, many times, that the only month I had seen without a frost here ~ is July!  Well, this year changed that.   Even now, my petunias are still blooming nicely in the pots on the deck as are the geraniums.  The moss roses bit it in one of the recent frosts.  But, even some of the garden is still growing and producing.   However, we are in the process of getting that all harvested.   Most of the carrots are in and all the potatoes dug ~ as of yesterday.  Still have rutabagas to pull and some turnips.  I just pull a turnip as I want one to eat tho.   Broccoli is still producing smaller, later bite size heads.   As I said ~ a wonderful Fall!
Recently, we went on a short trip.   Left on a Tuesday and got back Sunday evening.  We left via Wisconsin.   The colors were amazing.  However, we had very heavy clouds all day so I never took a photo.   The sumacs had some of the most amazing oranges I had ever seen.  Usually I just see them in their Autumn red coats.   Got up onto the Keweenaw and out to Copper Harbor.   Amazing colors in the maples.  But, even there, many places had plenty of greens too.  We stopped and hiked into some of the beautiful sights in Munising.   I love that area.   I would really love to go there with my kayak in the summer and really check that area out completely.   So many neat natural spots of beauty there.  This above photo is in Canada looking toward Nipigon.  So many times on this trip, if there was something really beautiful to see, there was no place to pull over and stop for photo ops!   Plus, it was raining or cloudy a lot of it.  That part was really disappointing.  In Copper Harbor I was out in the howling wind and rain, trying my darnedest to get a good shot and not have it completely water spotted.  That was easier said than done, believe me.  But, I got some nice shots in spite of the gray sky.   Our destination was to visit Manitoulin Island and the Georgian Bay area.  We spent two days exploring the big island.  A beautiful place, for sure.   Wouldn't mind exploring some of that area again in nice weather.
On the last night of our trip ~ we were traveling in our pickup with a camper on ~ we stayed at a motel in Wawa and ate at a restaurant!!  Imagine that.  This was Sunday morning.  We actually got up to sunshine!  What a pretty morning.  Two hours later, it was completely clouded over again for a couple of hours before the sun returned.   You see Betsy and Bruce enjoying the shoreline and the morning here.  
Here is another roadside shot getting closer to the Nipigon area.   Golds were in fine form here.   Another thing I forget, since I go so seldom, is the very steep and long hills over on the Canadian side of Lake Superior.  Wow!  I'd hate to be biking them in summer heat.   That gets to be work, after a while.
Anyway ~ we are settling back into our Fall routine of getting everything ready for winter.  My deer friends were happy to see us back.  They came on a run from the various spots they were laying in the yard when we pulled in.   Just how dare we leave them for all those days and no treats to be had!!!   They are pretty funny some times.  Several have gotten into the habit of touching noses with Betsy these days.   She can get pretty friendly with them and have them unperturbed.  She has even gotten her face washed a few times.  Too funny!   Glad they get along so well.  
With that ~ I will leave you with a yesterday's photo of Betsy ~ posing!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

September 13, 2016 Autumn is coming!

Fall is coming ~ we just never quite know when it will happen.  It is the season to start getting those things done that we need done before winter sets in.   A few of the maples are coloring up and some of the leaves falling already.  The last of the late summer flowers, like the asters above, are blooming nicely.   The deer have almost all gotten their winter brown coats on now.   Yes, it's coming.
I have been out trying to get all the trail work done, even tho it is quite a bit warmer and more humid than I appreciate when doing that work.  I made a lot of miles yesterday, between walking dogs, trail work so the mower could pass and then, mowing itself.  The trees just keep coming down this year.  Lots of wind.   I manhandle anything I can off the trails ~ like rotten birches that keep falling!  They aren't light, but ~ many will break off or are able to be pulled off trails.  Same with popples or balsam.  I don't like having to chainsaw them as so many are rotten and dirty in there, all they do is make dull chainsaws in a hurry.   But, there is never a shortage of solid downed trees that need to be cut up to move either.  Got a good start on mowing yesterday ~ more to come!
Here is a current shot of Shadow.  You can sort of see the white spot over her left eye ~ tho the angle isn't good.   She has been really mushy lately and liking her attention.   She is 9 1/2  years old now.  She has more time to hang around and be friendly these days as she, along with a good many other does, lost their this years' fawns to the wolves.  I should add, Shadow has never lost her fawns to the wolves before.  They have all made it at least to one year of age.  Her first born was gotten by the wolves just before she turned two.  The wolves have not gone away this summer.  We have seen them, on average, once a week.  Sorry to say ~ that is too often.  I'm not a wolf hater, never have been ~ but, they sure are getting way too much confidence about being in people's yards, up close and personal, since there are no consequences these days.  I do have a problem with that.  Just about everyone up here has pets.   Some have small children.  I saw one of the wolves come out of their driveway one day about 4 p.m. when Betsy and I were taking a quick walk.  One of their chickens went missing that same day.   It's an accident waiting to happen.
Since there has been a lot of wind, there has been a lot of waves too.   This is a time of year a lot of people are still trying to fish on Lake Superior.   The big waves haven't helped that.  They weren't real big yet this particular day ~ but, they are working on it.  Way bigger than what makes pleasant fishing.
The gardens have been doing well.  It is so nice to just walk out to the garden, this time of year, and pick what you want to eat that evening and have it nice and fresh.  I really would enjoy being able to pick veggies year around.   But, that would be hard living here ~ and I like living here!
Betsy is doing well these days.   She sure is always ready for a new adventure.   Toby really did teach her well.   These days, we are walking dogs too ~ so, she gets lots of canine companionship, which she enjoys.
I've been keeping busy and haven't been too inclined to sit down and write.   I have thought about a few good political rants.  That may still happen.  But, I will leave it for another day.  The circus that is politics these days always keep you listening.   I still find it strange that the two people we have to vote for are so unpopular.  It boggles my mind that anyone with a brain would ever vote for Hillary ~ given her and her husband's 30 years of treachery and deceit ~ and lying!!!  Honestly, I can't believe the Democrats couldn't find someone better than that.  I've said it before, I'll say it again ~ it'll be a cold day in Hell before I'd ever vote for Hillary!  And, with that said, I better quit before I get a full blown rant going.......

Friday, July 22, 2016

July 22, 2016 Too Stinkin' Hot!!

Yesterday, Betsy and I went to Tom Lake to swim because it was too stinkin' hot to do other things!   Well, they finally started working on the roads up there and oh boy, what a mess.   They should have closed the road while they worked if they were going to make that much mess.  Needless to say, I opted to not head up the trail, today, because I knew it wouldn't be much better.   89 degrees is too hot with this humidity!
So, today we just headed to Lake Superior.  I got in, all the way, twice.  But, the water is cold ~ offshore wind.   It's actually hotter by Lake Superior than inland.  But, both places are too hot.  I had intended to stay there a while and play in the water to stay cool.  But, with the heat, the biting flies that one finds on the nice days of summer, came out.  They were chewing the heck out of Betsy and me.  We made it about an hour and headed home.  Neither of us could stand the flies any longer!

So ~ we have summer ~ and it's too hot to enjoy it!!!

Friday, July 8, 2016

July 8, 2016 Busy Summer Days!

On this particular Sunday afternoon, recently, Betsy and I were enjoying a day by one of the inland lakes instead of Lake Superior.  It was warm and humid ~ and I was entertaining ideas of going swimming for the first time for the season.  It was quite windy when I left here so I didn't bring along the paddle board or kayak.   But, between the strong wind blowing in right there and a lot of dark clouds intermixed with the fluffy ones, it wasn't that warm.  So ~ no swims for me that day!
We have gotten through the busiest time of the summer for me ~ now that the Hovland Arts Festival is done with for another summer.   I have to say I was feeling a bit stressed about pulling that off this year.  The dates for it are put out there well in advance to every one who is helping or in on it.  Right up to the last couple of days, the gravel piles were still not leveled and there was no place to park.  On the other side, the construction of the new roof on the church was making for shingles and trailers and stuff parked everywhere.  I was getting pretty hot and bothered!   The crew wasn't going to be working on the church over that weekend so they kindly got all their stuff moved.   On the other side of the town hall, things weren't progressing so well.   I finally had to make some calls and get a fire lit under them.   That project was let almost a full 4 years ago.  It was supposed to be done by the HAF last year.   Then, the commissioner told me it would get done right after our last years HAF.   Well, here we were, at this point, less than a week to our HAF this year.  Nothing was yet done.  NOTHING!!!  Would you be running out of patience yet?   I told them that the kids in the community were going to be all grown up before they ever got the project done at the rate it was going.   Plus, at this point, I wasn't the only person upset about it.   Well ~ I started "squeaking" and part of it got sort of done.  Long way to go tho.  Now that the others have started to speak up as well ~ maybe, just maybe, they can finish the project.  The HAF went fine and the weather couldn't have been more perfect.   So ~ now I can go in and do my volunteer duties at the Grand Marais Art Fair this weekend!
Getting to other things at present ~ summer flowers!   We have had a lot of rain and they couldn't be much prettier this summer.  There are lots and they are thick.  It is just a pleasure to see them all.   I love wildflowers.  This is a great year for anyone who does to get out there and enjoy them all.
Yesterday, as I hit the shore ~ first thing I noticed was the bright orange of the wood lilies.   They are one of my very favorite.   The ninebarks are just starting to open now also.  They are one of my favorite woody flowering shrubs on the shore of Lake Superior.  They are bold and beautiful!  I found some new, up to 6" tall plants with a light purple flower too ~ yesterday.  I still haven't looked them up to see what I discovered.  I have been going there for years and never saw them before.

Another spring favorite is the pitcher plants.  There is a bog not too far away I love to go to because it has so many wonderful bog flowers in.  That was outdoing itself this year too.  The pitchers had just started seriously blooming and there were hundreds of them popping above the moss.   The dragon's mouth orchids were also in full bloom.   They are so gorgeous.  The yellow potentilla was blooming and were the sundews, cranberries, and buckbeans.  It was truly a sight to see.   Of course, to go to the bog and see the flowers, you have to dress for it.  Water is always at least ankle deep and it's half way to your knees in many places.  Always is a wonderful place to explore ~ at any rate!
Of course, along with flowers comes butterflies.  It doesn't seem to me there are as many around this year.  But, I have seen a goodly number of these.

I'll end with a shot of some of the tall grasses that are now "flowering" and catching some sun's rays.
Summer is here ~ in all it's beauty!   Enjoy it!