Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Old Friends ~ December 22, 2015

It's starting out to be a good week.  My fox friend is back.  After several years of no foxes around after 4 years of foxes around all the time ~ I was so happy when one showed up this Fall.  Not only did it show up but showed signs of being friends.  So, we got on with developing a friendship.  Then, along came deer season.........  My fox went missing.  I was hoping that it was just out doing what foxes do and cleaning up after what got left in the woods by people hunting.  I was getting concerned.     Then, on Sunday.......Betsy and I were coming back up the driveway after our early morning walk.  There was the fox crossing the driveway and heading for its treat spot.  Betsy and I walked by it and I went in and found a treat.  Yesterday morning, when Betsy and I came back, right on schedule, there was the fox!  It was sitting by its favorite spot, just like it was posing.......waiting for me to notice it and bring it some treats.  I got right on it.  :)  So, hopefully........it is back for the winter now.  I absolutely love having a fox or foxes around.  They sure keep a handle on the voles and mice around the yard.  Speaking of which ~ we were watching it after I gave it treats.  It then went off hunting around the yard.  We both were ready when we saw it setting up for the classic jump in the air and pounce on the mouse trick!  Perfect.  I'd love to capture that on camera some day.  But, as is often the case ~ it was too dark yet for that kind of action shots.  Anyway ~ the fox is safe.
Then, there's this guy.  The Boss.  I love this old friend too.  I took this the other day in a snowstorm and wasn't that far away from him.  I metered the camera on him.  Pure white back ground and snowing.  Well......it looks like a pasted him on a piece of white paper.  But......he looks good so that's what counts.
Story ~ Well.....as you know, I still hunt deer.  I am not ready to give up my venison even tho I have an awful lot of deer friends.  But, it gets more difficult all the time as I will be out in the woods and one of my friends walks up to me out there.  I do not shoot my friends.  Well ~ on Veteran's Day, I had been in from the morning hunting excursion having only seen a few doe friends.  I sat down to check my email when I caught a reflection in my computer screen.  Here he was ~ standing in the window looking for me.  I thought ~ oh my.......It's the first week of deer season and he's back early.  That isn't entirely a bad thing.  However, there are way too many people hunting in this area and I was worried someone was going to shoot my buddy before season would end.  Well ~ luck has been with us.  He made it through the rifle and muzzle loader season.  He is quite the majestic buck.  He is definitely the yard boss.  I sure enjoy watching the antics of him out here.  And ~ even better.  He mated with one of Shadow's daughters so I know his genes are passing on to someone I know and can watch this year.  :)  More wonderful bucks!  Well ~ that we don't know.  She might have girls!  Shadow is now 8 1/2 years old and she has had only 1 buck fawn all these years.  I can wish.
Then, when I was out putting alfalfa out this morning, another younger big, majestic buck came strolling into the yard.  He is looking good too.  So......with the shortage of bucks around and knowing quite a few got got in the vicinity.....it's nice to see old friends back that survived another season.  Soon, he too was at the basement door wanting some "baby" corn.  That is our nickname for the cracked corn Shadow and some of the special pets like.  But.....that includes a couple of the big guys who really like it too ~ rather than chew that big, whole corn.
Anyway ~ I'm off to a good week with my critters.  I will end with a fun one I took of Betsy down on the neat ice formations on the shore of Lake Superior yesterday.  It has gotten really good ratings from friends and photographer friends alike.  Now.....had it only been sunny to highlight that nice ice..........

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Winter Arrived December 20, 2015

Well, winter finally arrived this week ~ more or less.  While people up the trail north of us were receiving lots of snow, we would get some snow, then it would rain.  So, after this happening off and on all day, we have a white icy mess that set up with a couple of days of near 0 temperatures.  But, we will have a white Christmas now ~ anyway.
The dog and I have been making tracks around my trails for the past few days ~ trying to get it sort of decent to walk on.  It had been punchy as it crusted on top.  We had about 6" of snow that set just hard enough for a dog or fox to walk on top.  Not so lucky for this human!  Do you know what punching through the snow does to ones' leg muscles when you do that for a few miles!?
I will be waiting for a few more inches of "nice" snow on top of this, now, so I can start skiing.  I always enjoy that.  I have been trying to clear all the branches and litter off the trails as I walk around each day now so I don't have that to run over when we do get more snow.
The other plus has been all the big waves from several directions this past week.  It has been great for making ice formations on the shore of Lake Superior.  These two were taken on different days as I have been out and about.  Now that we finally are getting interesting ice formations ~ it means I should probably get down to the shore for some sunrise shots showing off the pretty ice too.   It's sure nice to have different views on some of them.  Winter is still my favorite time of the year to get interesting scenery shots.  Adding the big waves to that is a close second.
Of course, critters in winter scenery is nice too as there often aren't so many distractions.  So ~ I guess I will have plenty to keep me busy for a while.  The usual winter critters are showing up these days.
In fact, yesterday ~ I had just put some treats out for my favorite deer friend.  I saw that she was happy and nibbling away at her food.  So, I came in and sat down and was just turning to face my computer when BANG!!  One of the other deer had just shown up and was going to chase Shadow out of her spot.  She ran right into the basement window and wall.  Jeez!  I darned near went right out of my chair.  Those two have been around here for just over 8 years now ~ both being 8 1/2 years old.   You wouldn't think they would have to run into the house........would you.  Nothing got broken ~ so, that was a good thing.  Me and my friends.......we have an interesting life up here.
Anyway ~ I have pretty much gotten ready for Christmas and I have gotten lots of work done on my web site now.......just because I can.  So.......lefse to be made on the 24th and get through the Christmas holidays.......then ~ on to other "exciting" things to take us into the new year.
So......if I don't get back on before Christmas ~ Merry Christmas everyone!  :)

Friday, December 11, 2015

A Strange December ~ December 11, 2015

Now that I have broadband, after all these years, I have actually been working on some projects just because I can.  I have also been going through some photos I hadn't looked at in a while ~ because, in amongst them, there are a few treasures.  This one of the butterfly I had kept because I did like the butterfly.  I was pretty sure that was spotted knapweed, which is noxious, rather than a thistle.  So, I wasn't sure people would appreciate the nasty weed. Also a wasp there.......   But you know, some things are just hard to delete.  I have gotten much better at that "delete" part than I used to be though.  That brings me to the strange December and why I happen to be working on this stuff and my web site now.  We have had more rain than usual for the month of December ~ even tho, for a good many years now, we have had a December thaw to ice everything up for the duration.  But, all the rain and gray and MUD!!!  Did you hear that ~ MUD!  Oh jeez........ but I am so sick of mud all over everything.  We should have frozen ground.  Oh, I still get out and get in all my walks with the dog and such.  But, I have spent a bit more time on my computer than I have in a while because of the mud.
Now, because I can, I have even added galleries to my web site.  That is kind of nice if someone is looking for a particular subject.  You don't have to look at all the photos to get to the subject you are interested in now.  I am not done.  Have to do  "ice" and "sunsets" yet.  If you have never looked at my web site ~ it is  http://sandra-updyke.fineartamerica.com.  Check it out and tell me what you think.
I added a few bird photos to my site and galleries this week.  Some of these make for interesting cards and pillows besides just wall art.  People are open to doing a lot of different things with wildlife art these days.  I could decorate my whole house with wildlife art and "critters" and be quite pleased with myself.  Just in case, mind you, there weren't any outside for me to look at at the time.  That generally isn't the case tho.
Here is a photo of interest I took ~ just because I rarely get decent looks at good sized bucks with their antlers in velvet.  This one also had a strange rack in that he had a brow tine and no other points on the right side.  The "girls" were very busy getting acquainted with the big guy too.  That was amusing to watch since it wasn't the season and nothing going on.  They were all beside themselves showing off for him tho.  :)
Of course, you know I would have foxes on my site ~ and, a fox gallery.  I have so many fox photos even I can't believe it.  Sometimes, it's hard to know when enough is enough.  Some are pretty dang cute.  Some are even X rated!  Oh my.  But, I have tried to be very picky about what shots I put on there and not get too carried away. 
Today is another one of those very gray December days.  It actually had dropped below 32 degrees so some spots were just a bit frozen this morning.  Betsy wasn't completely covered with mud.  There was still mud tho.  I wish I had thought to document how many nights we have had, already this month, that didn't freeze at night.  Just strange.  One person on the shore told me they had just picked some kale out of their garden again.  Unheard of.......in December.
Well ~ back to some gray day work until the next adventure with Betsy.........

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Days Remembered on Lake Superior's Shores ~ December 3, 2015

Here I am, on the shore of Lake Superior today.  I am inside the doorway, looking out the window, of an old fisherman's home ~ or, shall I say.....what's left of it.  I think they have been gone from this world somewhere around 20 years now.  But, I was thinking about some of the things this old fisherman did over the years ~ and what he thought when he looked out the window some days.  This is kind of a sheltered little cove.  However, you can see the waves are breaking in here pretty good today.  The life of the commercial fishermen on the shore of Lake Superior wasn't an easy one, for sure.
I found yet another old boat I hadn't noticed before.  Just numbers on this one, no name.  It was an interesting old boat too.  I'm sure, if it could talk, it could tell a lot of interesting stories. 
Just inside the door, I saw this beautiful old sewing machine.  Notice ~ there is still thread in it.  I guess I had never realized some of those old sewing machines were so ornate before.  This was a beauty in its day.  I'm sure it did its share of serious work too.
Here is another shot of the little cove the fisherman fished out of.  Notice the waves.  There is also that old scale in the foreground, covered with lichens and blending right in with the rocks on the shore.  I just thought this was the neatest old thing when I first discovered it on another trip.  The leaves are all down and gone now so I notice a few more things each time I walk around ~ always being careful not to disturb anything.  Some things are to be looked at and pondered ~ not disturbed.  Just think about all that has happened here over the years.
I should add, the first time I saw this, I had no clue what the heck it was.  I posted a view of it taken from the other side.  I was pretty sure a few of the people that had commercial fishermen in their families would know what it was and enlighten me.  And, they did.  I was amazed at how many knew what it was and in some cases, still had them.   But, I bet most of them aren't blended into the scenery as well as this one is.  A piece of the Hovland history, for sure.
Here is another shot of this old scale, taken from the other side.  This is more like the original I took several weeks ago. 
I spent a bit of time just standing on the rocks ~ watching the waves roll in.  I wondered about the times he had to go out and pick those herring or trout in some of this rough weather we get on the North Shore.  He was a tough old fisherman, for sure.  They had to be.  I had noticed how gnarled his fingers were from years of picking nets.....way back when.  I'm sure the old fishermen must have had their share of arthritis from picking all those fish in that cold water. 
I never used to get quite as interested in all the old fishing history around here as I do now.  I watched it and knew several of the old fishermen.  I guess I just took it for granted ~ like a lot of younger people do.  Now ~ when I look at some of this stuff and think about it ~ I appreciate it a lot more, I think.
This is just a scenery picture from out on the end of the point today.  It is a pretty spot. 
Last of all ~ I found this old net rack today.  I thought it was pretty cool.  It isn't real close to the lake so the fisherman had to haul his nets a ways to use it.  It's pretty much surrounded by the brush and trees now.  But ~ another piece of history discovered today.  It might make you appreciate that next fish you buy in a store ~ just a little bit more, now. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Good-bye to Toby ~ December 1, 2015

I haven't written my blog in a while.  I guess I got in a funk about things when Toby died this summer from his bone cancer.  He was a pretty special dog to me and everyone that knew him.  He was diagnosed in May with the cancer and made it until August 3rd.  That was a rough day.  In fact, you might say I considered it one of the saddest days of my life.  Toby did everything with me from the time he was a puppy.  He went to work with me and got to know everyone around.  I mean, in a small town, what better place than the post office to get to know everyone.  Once I retired, he was still very social on our walks on the beaches and any place else we went. 
I entered him in contests now and then and he made cover dog on a couple.  In fact, the September 1st edition of Northern Wilds featured him looking out at everyone as they picked up the issue right after  "that day."  Yes, he was a fantastic dog and I miss him.  Betsy, my rescue dog from northern Ontario, Canada ~ was also feeling lonesome.  I had him along when I picked her up and she had him as her constant companion to learn from.
Here's a photo fo Betsy playing in the waves of Lake Superior recently.  She is a very high energy dog and she does keep me busy when I am not busy anyway.  Summer is always a busy time with extra things to do outside and gardens to take care of.  No dust under my feet.  But, now that I am getting back into shorter day activities again, I will get back to my blog also.  Thanks for your patience. 
Here is one more younger dog Toby photo, playing with his favorite frisbee.  He loved that game.  Water frisbee or land ~ he could never get enough of that.  However, later in life, he had a little less stamina for it.  But, he was always ready if you brought it out.  The top photo is one of my favorite  photos I ever took ~ and I took a lot of Toby photos over the years.  He was such a ham for the camera and loved to pose.  That was one thing he taught Betsy well ~ how to pose for the camera and a love of adventure ~ especially if he saw the camera come out.  He was ready. 
Here is one more photo of Toby from last winter out on the ice.  He is sitting on the shore by some big ice formations here ~ watching me and Betsy down on the ice.  Ice was getting harder for him to navigate so he usually opted to stay on the bank if there wasn't a nice gentle trail onto the lake. 
So ~ with this said........ I will be back to talking about my deer friends and fox friends and any other critters I have been watching these days.  There's always something going on in my little spot in the woods.
Farewell ~ Toby.  You were the best dog ever.