Entries to Win Afghan

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Winners are: 3rd place- e-book of your choice: Wendy Nystrom. 2nd place- book of your choice, paper or e-book: Sue Ann Crawford. Winner of the afghan: Elaine Hull.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Spots and Spikes

Tried to sandwich a walk in between rain events today. Got half a walk in between! The rest of the walk was pretty wet.

The willow trees are trying hard to look spring-like. Lots of pussies fuzzing the stems.

willow catkins

The other kinds of spots were all hanging from branches. I was so mentally focused on the water drops I didn't realize about the spikes till I got home and looked at this picture. I like the contrast of the vicious thorns with the soft droplets.

water droplets on blackberry cane

It was so wet the fish were swimming in the road. OK, not really, but it sure looks like one.

gravel looks like a fish

See Little White Spots Before My Eyes
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Saturday, March 25, 2017

Poison Hemlock

The pictures are a throwback to last summer, but I just finished writing an article about poison hemlock for the North Star. (North Country Trail magazine). It's all I've accomplished today. Last night at work was hard and I slept most of the day.

This is a plant you don't want to fool around with. It was used by the ancient Greeks to administer capital punishment... eg. the death of Socrates.

poison hemlock

Key features are tall plants with dark green fern-like leaves and a flat cluster of white flowers. The stem is smooth and hollow. It may have purple mottling. Will grow anywhere but prefers moist soil.

poison hemlock

I blogged about this plant once before, but pictures in different settings and lighting can help us learn to recognize the plant. You're welcome.

See Bad Plant, Good Pictures
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Friday, March 24, 2017

It's a Squirrel

The critters are becoming a bit more active. Even though spring seems slow, they know it will arrive.

On the day I went to Hardy Dam I saw squirrels, turkeys, deer and a grouse. Yesterday there was a herd of robins in the yard. There are birds actually singing at sunrise. That's nice to wake up to.

But the only picture I have is a squirrel.

gray squirrel

Friday and Friday night are the long stretch at work. But I did get a short break this afternoon. Because the paper has not been able to replace the delivery person yet (one guy hired Tuesday afternoon, and he quit Wednesday afternoon), I got to walk a bundle of papers to an apartment complex three blocks away.

On the way, this little one warily made sure he knew where I was as I passed his tree.

See Playful Squirrels
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Thursday, March 23, 2017

Stuck in the Servants' Quarters

The joke is on me. I had a meeting this evening at the Cartier Mansion in Ludington, now a Bed & Breakfast. I thought I was going to get to see the inside of the house.

Cartier Mansion, Ludington, Michigan

Turns out the meeting room is in the carriage house.

Cartier Mansion, Ludington, Michigan

The house was built in the early 1900's by Warren Cartier, son of lumber baron Antoine Cartier. Both men are early legends of Ludington history and politics.

From descriptions I've read, many of the high end features of the time period are similar to those at places like Stan Hywet and the Kellogg Mansion. This house is big, but not as big as those, of course.

The first floor of the carriage house is now storage. I guess a boat trailer isn't that much different from a carriage.

Cartier Mansion, Ludington, Michigan

The meeting room is upstairs.

Cartier Mansion, Ludington, Michigan

Maybe I'll get to go inside another time. The owners are acquaintances, but does one just go ask for a tour?

Link below to an article about the history of the family.

See The Life of Ludington's Cartier Mansion
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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A Visit to Hardy Dam

I've been trying to be really frugal about driving extra miles near home. Today I had a reason to go to White Cloud (about an hour away) to take some pictures for my upcoming newspaper column. I hadn't realized how much I miss driving around and seeing new roads and places-- you may recall that was the one part of the insurance picture job that I liked. Of course I knew I missed that part, but I was surprised at HOW happy this little trip made me feel. It was a much-needed upper. I smiled and smiled at the sunshine and discovered places.

For starters, here's another of the crazy things that intrigue me. Water towers. I like to see what cities put on them, as it's often a statement of what's important to the local culture. The high school team name is "Indians," so I think the painting reflects that rather than the origin of the city's name. There was a Chief White Cloud, but he was in Minnesota. I couldn't find anything on line about why the city received the name of White Cloud, except that it was first known as Morganville, but the name was changed before 1879. I always assumed it was from being on the White River, but actually don't know.

White Cloud water tower

The Hardy Dam is just a bit south of there, on the Muskegon River. It's the largest packed earth dam east of the Mississippi. It's about a mile across, and there is a walkway as well as a road. The building is the water intake for the powerhouse which still operates. It's Consumers Energy's largest hydropower facility (according to the sign), and was built in 1931.

Hardy Dam

In 1931 they actually cared about making even utilitarian buildings interesting.

brick detail

Here is the very impressive spillway.

Hardy Dam spillway

The reason I scrambled to go down there after work was because the sun was shining, and I knew I could get some blue water pictures. Hardy Dam Pond is about 4000 acres with no development along the shores because the land belongs to Consumers Energy. The water is drawn down for winter- thus the bare edges.

Hardy Dam Pond

Hardy Dam Pond

And you know I like the oddball stuff too, like trees in ice. Just a crack actually, but it sure looks like a winter tree.

crack in ice

Or how about some cracks in the spillway pavement? Neat pattern. Fractal geometry explains why they are similar.

cracks in pavement

For a final treat, this road got narrower and narrower, and made me smile broader and broader. Of course this piece of road only lasted a mile, but the smile lingers on.

country road

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