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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Don't Forget to Enter the Contest


Enter the Contest before Midnight EDT!

Hello Kitty Nightmare


evil hello kitty

This is my week to do the paper route. You need to understand that this is my husband’s job. It’s 365 days a year and if you can’t do it you are supposed to get someone to cover for you. That’s where I come in. During a moment of compassion for the guy complete loss of brain function a few years ago I said that I would do it so that he could go to the Cornerstone Music Festival. So once a year it’s mine.

He could repay me the favor, but he’s somehow hesitant to fill his belly with gangrenous calamari, rub ground glass in his eyes, fasten an oil filter wrench around his head, bathe in boiling oil and still maintain a semblance of his own tasks while doing whatever it is that I’ve asked him to do in trade. Did I mention that keeping this schedule does not make me feel well? The job itself isn’t the problem. The problem is that people think papers should be delivered before anyone worth knowing most everyone is conscious.

You have to understand that 4 nights out of 7, when the world is as it should be, I am going to bed at about the same time as he is getting up to do this miserable job for which we are very grateful. Then, for one week a year, I’m supposed to be able to function at the level of an average human a slow loris, when in reality at that time of day, I have the intelligence of a worm rock.

Sunday, all day, after the first morning of this year’s stint, I felt like shit, o wait, I don't talk that way an old sock dragged through the compost pile and run over by a truck. That night I managed to fall asleep at 1 am, and the papers were late, so I got 4.5 hours of sleep. Not bad. Monday was pretty good.

Last night I thought I was doing well at extending the sleep time. I was sleepy at midnight and went to bed. I had just fallen asleep when a box leaped off my sewing table and dumped itself all over the floor. Right. It was assisted by the cat. This is the 19-year-old cat, V-8. I’m not going to show you a current picture of her, because you would call the ASPCA on us. She looks like walking road kill bad. She doesn’t seem to have any of the old-cat diseases like kidney or liver problems, but she has lost a lot of her hair, and some of the remaining sections are matted beyond fixing. She has trouble with her back legs, and oh, yeah... just incidentally, she has more or less lost her mind. I basically don’t mess with her; this is the cat that bit me for just touching her.

Back to 12:10 am. I turned on the small bedside light and discovered her sitting in a box of fabric. Grrr. She can’t leap on things like she used to, but when she wants to get somewhere she claws and fights her way there. So, I dumped put her on the floor, turned out the light and sincerely hoped that I could get back to sleep.

12:20 am. Ping, chink, thump. Another box of stuff hit the floor. I turned on the small bedside light and there was the cat back in the same box of fabric. And I’m not very sleepy now. I got a towel, threw it over the cat, wrapped her and hauled her into the utility room where her litter box and food is. She has a little cat door to get in and out, but it doesn’t have a cover to lock her in. I grabbed one of the boxes she had just emptied and wedged it against the hole. Back to bed.

12:?? I hear scrabbling somewhere in the room. Dang... that cat must have gotten out the little door before I got it covered. I turned on the large overhead light (causing the dog to squint and bark), and there is the cat in the middle of my sewing table trying to clear a spot to suit her between piles of projects. Deployment of the towel again, dumped her back in the utility room and made sure that the box was tight against her little door.

12:54 am. The sound of my good scissors hitting the floor awoke me again. The cat makes a flying leap (her brain cells failed to inform her legs she can’t leap any more? She’s just determined to win this battle?) for my sewing machine, sending my good scissors skittering and she's heading straight for the thread box which she has pulled the top off of.

OK, I’ve had it. All the lights, towel, bad words... I threw her in the bathroom. Put the shelf unit with little interesting things like Q-tips and toilet paper, and the trash can in the hall, and shut the door. Sorry, cat, but I’m bigger and marginally smarter.

Thankfully the papers were a little bit late again. At 4:30 am when I got the call that the papers were in, I let her out. She was hunkered down behind the toilet- choosing the coldest, dampest spot in the entire room just to show me how mean I was to her. I got a super cat glare, but I did get a few hours of sleep.

This is supposed to be funny, but I can’t tell if it is. I think my IQ is lower than the cat’s after day three of this schedule. Only 5 days to go. There has to be a way to make the hubby pay for this.... he just doesn't get it.

See Looking for Love for a day I was happier with the cat
See Where Does an 18-Year-Old Kitty Sleep
Grateful for Modern Medicine

Watch My Alexa!


alexa rank graphic

Hey- This is very exciting to me! My Alexa rank may go below 100,000 very soon. I'm hopeful. Thanks to all of you great readers!

See Watch My Counter

Monday, June 29, 2009

Rain on a Small Roof


photo label

This afternoon it finally started to rain. While communities just south of us have had too much in some cases, we've been headed towards very dry. Can you see the grayness behind the aspens? I know, not really, but I know it was there.

What this really needs is scratch and sniff. The rain just smells SO great. It's sweet and earthy and clean.

Drops of water were falling off the deck roof and hitting this bird feeder. I managed to catch one of the splashes!

photo label

See So Not Ready for a misty morning

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Just a Bunny


cottontail rabbit in the lawn

There's nothing very special about this post except that the pictures came out pretty nice. Sometimes I can make the new camera do what I want it to. Rabbits around here, the Eastern Cottontail Rabbit, are really everywhere. They eat gardens and multiply like... rabbits!

But, they sure are cute!

cottontail rabbit in the lawn

Oh, and the blue flowers at the foreground of the long shot? They are one of my favorite weeds. How about a post about them later this week? (Meanwhile, it's my week to do the paper route, and I'm actually blotto.)

See Memory of a Special Earth Day for baby bunnies

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Contest Day - Win an Ad for a Month!

Note that from now on the answers should be emailed to me at jhy@t-one.net. I think maybe putting the answers in comments discourages some people. Entries must be received before Midnight, June 30, EDT.

Entries to date: 3

This month's words come from a variety of sources which include TV, the vocabulary game on Free Rice, a friend, and reading.

1. Choose the correct use of the word "oche."
   a. The color of the dried grass was oche.
   b. The players at the dart tournament stood at the oche.
   c. You might be served oche for dinner.
   d. The majestic oche trees were popular on the nature hike.

2. Choose the correct use of the word "cozen."
   a. The cozen of witches met monthly.
   b. The cozen called the pace for the rowers.
   c. The shell game master cozened the crowd.
   d. My mother's nephew is my cozen.

3. Choose the correct use of the word "ley."
   a. He leyed the bet.
   b. The chicken leyed an egg.
   c. The sailor leyed the strands into a rope.
   d. The farmer wisely left the field ley every few years.

4. Choose the correct use of the word "walm."
   a. The mild weather was walm.
   b. Strong winds made the sea walm.
   c. Unexpectedly, she bought the purse on a walm.
   d. The scent of apple pie was walming through the window.

5. Choose the correct use of the word "guana."
   a. The belfry was full of bat guana.
   b. The currency of the open market was guana.
   c. The gang's guana was a mixture of Spanish and English.
   d. The Indian wore a garment made of guana.

Past winners:
The Everyday Adventurer
WiseAcre Gardens
Our Simple Life

Friday, June 26, 2009

Goatsbeard - the Ends of the Story

 

goatsbeard budsI first showed pictures of this flower on June 5, quite a little dialogue ensued because another blogger, Dances of Dreams, had a yellow flower in bud that she was trying to identify.

Because of that whole discussion I realized that it's not always (ever?) obvious what the buds of some fully opened flower might look like. So I've been looking for examples of the buds and seeds of the Goatsbeard Tragopogon pratensis, and now I have them.

See the long thin buds concealed in plain sight against the grass? When this flower first begins to grow it can really hide!

goatsbeard bud openingWhen it starts to open then it's much easier to see against a green background! The middle of the life story is at The Yellow Flower.



I guess one reason I like this flower is that the seed head is such a surprise to me. It's easy to see how a dandelion can make a spherical mass of seeds with "silk." These flowers look too simple to me to produce this spectacular seed head, which can be 3-5 inches in diameter!

goatsbeard seed head

Finally, here's a closeup of one quarter of the head. I just love the symmetry in it!

goatsbeard seed head

Tomorrow will be this month's contest for a free ad. Get ready to guess or research some more new words.

P.S. I've added an update at the bottom of yesterday's post.

See The Yellow Flower
if you like this blog, click the +1   or

Like This!


Not a Quality Day for Several Families


emergency vehicles at night

This is NOT what I was going to share today. I had some plant pictures all ready. Then at dusk this evening hubby said I should take the camera out on the front porch because there was a big thundercloud with lots of lightning in it.

While I was standing on the porch there was a horrible screech of brakes and a really big crash followed by rolling clouds of dust. Let me explain that we live on a major highway, but our house is 400 feet back from the roadway on the top of a hill. Let me also explain that there are LOTS of crashes on this road, so I know what crashes sound like, and this was a CRASH.

I ran in the house, grabbed the phone, and called 911 as I made my way down to the road to try to get info about injuries. I'm not going to be able to tell you all of what happened, but I know the outcome is not going to be good for one of the people. Someone who had also stopped said it was a single car accident, but based on where and how the white car ended up, I can hardly believe that. I guess I'll have to wait for the news report tomorrow.

ambulance and tow truck at night

Anyway, the sheriff deputies arrived while I was still on the phone. They sure didn't need me so I went back to the house. Meanwhile the local fire department arrived and several more police cars.

40 minutes later I looked out again, and there were even more emergency lights! So I went down again, and took the camera. This time I talked with a lady who was waiting for her husband to come get her. Her truck had been rear-ended by someone else as the police were trying to direct traffic past.

The only thing I really know is that they took a girl from the white car out by AeroMed. So that can't be good.

tow truck and smashed car at night

We have seen an awful lot of accidents in front of our house over the years we have lived here. Most of them were smaller- thankfully. But I'm saying a prayer for this girl and her family. Please, folks, drive carefully. We are all one small mistake away from eternity.

Update: Friday evening. Well, it was a one-car accident. I was confused because a supposed witness had said it was traveling the opposite direction. The driver was a 22-year-old girl from Lansing. She was taken to a Grand Rapids hospital where the paper reports that she is in serious condition with non-life-threatening injuries. I hope that is good news, but I bet she will have a long road ahead. Since she is not local I may never hear more about how this goes.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Kitchenhenge - Installment 2


Here is the summer solstice (missed by a couple of days) picture from my top outside kitchen step. You may recall that I'm trying to document the movement of the sun through the year from a familiar vantage point.

June 23, 2009, Summer Solstice
sunrise June 23 2009

March 23, 2009, Spring Equinox
sunrise spring 2009 equinox

September 21, 2008, Autumn Equinox
sunrise autumn 2008 equinox

Remember that the red line is only to help you identify the same tree from picture to picture to make it easier to see how much the sunrise spot has moved.

See Kitchenhenge - Installment 1

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

One More Trail Story


beaver dam across Little Bear Creek

It was hot today. The official word is that it didn't hit 90 degrees, but my internal thermometer was right up there and I wilted. Even my perpetually chilly dog was warm enough! So here's one more "refreshing" story from my Upper Peninsula hike.

Pictured above is the beaver dam that has created a pond from Little Bear Creek. It's a lovely setting. The dam is that line of sticks and mud on the whole right edge of the picture. The only trick is that you have to walk the dam to follow the trail. The chances of not dunking at least one foot on that crossing were pretty low. But it didn't matter, I was already wet to the knees...

wet feet

The small bridge across the creek that I had just crossed sunk as soon as I walked out on it! I might have cared, but I was less than 3 miles from the car. I just wanted to get away from the mosquitoes!

dried boots

I had completely dried out by the time I got to the car, but look at the funny scum that stuck to my boots. The color isn't good in the picture; it's actually a green like the patina on old copper.

So, you ask, what is the good part here? Look what I got a picture of in the middle of the dam. I didn't see the beaver, but I got a great picture of his/her footprint to add to my track collection!
beaver track in mud

I did a lot of posts with tracks last winter. Here are some of them:
See Our Common Mustelid
See Wimpy Dog and Porky Paws
See Fox Spoor
See Maggie's Bad Day

Monday, June 22, 2009

What Does the Trail Look Like?


St. Ignace boardwalk with cherry blossoms

What does a long-distance trail look like? The answer is that it looks like many things. Here is a sampler of what the most recent hike was like. First, I worked my way through the city of St. Ignace. A lot of that was on a lovely boardwalk. Not very wild, but sometimes towns with services can be very welcome along a trail.

rail trail under interstate

As I worked my way out of town the trail follows a gravel multi-use pathway. It's not "certified" trail because it's for ATVs and snowmobiles too. But for now it's better than an actual road-walk to get under interstate 75 and reach the Hiawatha National Forest.

sun through treesAh! Here we are in the forest. Of course, this is my favorite place for trail. But think about it... if all 4600 miles of this trail were just like this it might actually be quite tedious. It's great to have open spaces, towns, etc. along the way.

wooden foot bridge over Silver Creek

It's always great for hikers when creek crossings have very nice stable bridges. Many of these are built by volunteers. This one even has a boardwalk-type approach through a wet area.

trail with lots of rocks

This was a bit of a surprise! There were a few sections of trail that had a lot of rocks. It provides variety, but makes the walking very difficult. Thankfully, this section was short.

trail mileage sign with woods trail

Finally, it's always nice to know how close you are to reaching your goal. This sign let me know that I only had 3 1/4 miles to go. This was a lot of pictures for one post. I think tomorrow we'll go back to quality things closer to home.

Thanks for stopping by!

See Treasures North of THE Bridge
See A Day on the Trail

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Day On the Trail


hiker with backpack by a trailhead

treating water with a SteripenI thought since most people don't go backpacking, I'd give you a really quick look at what the daily chores are. At first I thought I'd include a trail picture between the chores to make it more like there was travel/time lapse, but it put too many pictures in for one post. Maybe I'll do a "trail sampler" another day.

So, in the first picture, you can see that the first task is to find where the trail starts and put on the backpack. Then turn around and start hiking!

At least once, and sometimes several times a day you need to treat water in some fashion to make it safe. I cheated a little with this picture. That is Marie's hand, and the pic is from the Minnesota hike because I didn't take any pictures of me treating water on this trip. There are several ways to make water safe to drink, but whichever one you use, it's not wise to just drink from lakes or streams no matter how clean they look.

Kelty Dart solo tent

Then you walk a bunch of miles... whatever works for you, and pick a place to camp. This is my single-person tent. It's not the greatest. I have the one I really want picked out but it costs $300. (Anyone want to sponsor my NCT goal?) Anyway, you find a clear, hopefully level place that is off the trail, out of any active wildlife paths, and preferably legal! On this hike once I entered the National Forest dispersed camping is allowed. That means you can camp almost everywhere with some minor restrictions.

backcountry kitchen

Then it's time to fix dinner. I do one hot meal a day. This is in dappled sun, so it might be hard to see, and explaining all the pieces is probably way more information than you want. But basically, I have a little stove, and the picture shows all my pots and pans and utensils, water bottles, some bags of food, and water bottles all spread out. It looks like a mess, but it all packs up really easily after the cooking is done.

cache bag in tree

Before crawling in the tent you need to make sure your food is away from the tent and safe from animals for the night. Here is my food bag high over the trail and away from any side branches.

And if it is THIS hike, then you run like mad for the tent because you are being chased by 10001 mosquitoes!

See Hanging the Cache
See Steripen

Want to Play?


Participating blogs to date: 18 There is room for a few more. Let me know if you want in.

I'm going to be gone hiking again from mid July through the end of August, and I want to create a scavenger hunt to run while I am away. It will look something like a "real" scavenger hunt where people have to find items. For example, on a day where they have to look for a percussion tool they would be sent to a blog post and have to find a sentence with the word "hammer" in it.

I am looking for people who want their blogs to be included. I would give you a word, and somewhere in a post you would use that word in a sentence. Don't just say, "the word for Sharkbytes scavenger hunt is hammer." It should be included in some more or less normal use of the word.

Then you would give me the link to that post before July 12, and I'll schedule the scavenger hunt posts to appear while I am gone. I'll think up something decent for some prizes, and will post them before I leave.

Even if your blog(s) are in the hunt, you can still play, because you wouldn't know any of the other clues ahead of time. Blogs that participate should get some traffic from it. Canucklehead's game is putting 4-5 hits a day through my post that holds his clue, and that's where I got the idea. If you want your blog to be included, email me at jhy@t-one.net and tell me how many blogs you want to enter. I've already got about 12 participants, so it should be fun.

There will be a post later today about hiking.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Three New Flowers


starry false solomon's seal, Smilacina stellata, var crassa For me, one of the things that makes a hike extra special is if I find and identify a plant, especially if it's flowering, that I had not previously known.

In my Walter Mitty dreams, I would like to be able to stand anywhere in the NE United States, in any season, and identify every plant around me. Yeah, well, I'm not there yet, and probably won't live long enough for it to happen. But I can dream.

The picture above is of a plant that is a real surprise, because I thought I knew it. I looked at it, in fact someone asked me what it was, and said "False Starry Solomon's Seal, Smilacina stellata." Well, it is, sort of. It's a particular variety of it, crassa, noted because of the way the leaves clasp the stem and overlap. Way cool!

pale laurel, Kalmia polifolia

Here's the next one: it was growing in a bog with a whole lot of cotton grass. I'm not happy with the focus. I'm having a lot of trouble getting the new camera to focus on one plant in a whole background of plants. This is Pale Laurel, Kalmia polifolia, a relative of all the other laurels.

canada violet, viola canadensis

And finally, there were entire blankets of these white violets covering the forest floor. They are another large violet, over a foot high! The large white blossoms are held above the leaves. As the flowers die they fade to a deep magenta color. It is Canada Violet, Viola canadensis.

I also saw a new Juncus (rush), and several new Carex (sedges), but those aren't things you take time to identify in the middle of a hike. Those need serious books and keys and time. Given the mosquito level, I wouldn't have been able to ID them even if I'd had all of those things! Maybe another time...

See Two More Special Violets

Friday, June 19, 2009

Fluffy Treats on an Urban Trail


There are so many things to show you from both of the hikes this year, I hardly know where to start. There is a brief overview of the recent one at Treasures North of THE Bridge. But I've been driven to cuteness by Ratty's post Chased by Raccoons

This 45-mile hike began just north of the Mackinac Bridge, in St. Ignace, Michigan. The first two miles wind through town, including a lovely waterfront boardwalk with interpretive signs, flowers, shrubs, and easy access to restaurants and shops. Of course, St. Ignace is known as a place to catch a ferry to Mackinac Island, a high-end tourist destination. Walking along, I spotted this pair of swans framed by lovely red-osier dogwood.

two swans

As I got closer, I discovered that it was an entire family of swans!

swan family

The baby swans, cygnets, seemed to be staying near the rocky edge below the boardwalk. I liked how the neutral tone of the water color made the babies show up very clearly.

cygnet swimming

They were learning how to dabble for small bits of food. They weren't good at ducking their heads down to the bottom yet, but they were using those little beaks with purpose to snatch snacks off the rocks that were in front of them!

cygnets dabbling

Finally, I just like this closeup. Such concentration!

cygnet

See Feeling Overwhelmed - O Deer! for another baby animal
See Memory of a Special Earth Day for even more babies!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Rock Garden Purple- Part II


purple geraniums

And here is a purple geranium at the top of the rock garden. This one is fairly new. I like it a lot.
rock garden

Here is the bottom of the rock garden. Blooming is a pink geranium and a sedum. Sedum kamtschaticum (Weihenstepher Gold).

See you tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Rock Garden Purple- Part I


creeping thyme

I'm running out of time if I want to get some sleep tonight, sigh... I'll have to do some fast posts and let them speak for themselves. Here is Creeping Thyme in the rock garden. It does creep! And it overruns everything. It's pretty, but don't plant it close to anything you really like.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

A New Geranium


pink geranium

Here is a pink geranium of a different kind that someone gave me last year. The buds are kinda funky!
pink geranium

Monday, June 15, 2009

White Trees- Part II


quaking aspen stand

I have several friends who keep looking at trees with light trunks and calling them white birch when they are really quaking aspen. Do you have trouble telling them apart, too? The picture above is of quaking aspen, Populus tremuloides. But those trunks sure look white, don't they?

Here is a clump of quaking aspen with one white birch mixed in. Can you tell which one?

quaking aspen and white birch

I know, that was hard! The white birch is the one of the left. You can't even see the trunks very well, there is so much foliage. Here is a closer view of the leaves.

quaking aspen and white birch leaves

Now you can begin to see some of the difference. Notice how the leaves on the left are a little bit lighter green and more finely cut? Now you are getting really observant! Finally, here's a closeup. Notice that the birch leaves are narrower, and hang down while the aspen leaves seem to be going every which way. The aspen are darker green too!

quaking aspen and white birch leaves

What white trees have you seen lately?

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