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Monday, October 31, 2011

All I Have to Say Is...

B O O

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Sunday, October 30, 2011

What Happened to the Twins?


Do you remember the twins? They were featured in July, as Twin Trouble. I think it's interesting, because these two deer are easy to tell apart. One is smaller, and has a narrower nose. When they were young, their spots were different, too.

Here's what they looked like on August 20. They are still smaller than mom.

twin fawns with mother

They are still hanging around, but now they are as big as their mother (she's not in the picture with them), and they've all put on their darker winter coats. This morning was frosty, and they really stood out against the white, but they quickly faded into the trees. They are now more wary, as well they should be in the fall.

two deer in frosty grass



See Twin Trouble
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Saturday, October 29, 2011

Black Witch's Butter

I bring you a legend for Halloween. Nah... I don't like Halloween very much, but I did see this fungus yesterday, and its common name is black witch's butter. It's Exida nigricans.

If you find some fungus on rotting limbs that looks like raisins on a stick, you've probably found it.

black witch's butter fungus

It's a jelly fungus. It looks slimy, but it's not, just soft and flabby. Actually, now that they do DNA testing it is turning out that the whole genus of Exida is artificial. That means it's only based on appearances, and doesn't have any validity at all. However, what's going to be done about it hasn't been settled yet. Remember, I'm not a fungus expert. I'm just telling you what I read.

I think the reason for its common name may interest you more. This fungus grows in all northern climates around the globe. The European legends say that witches would milk the cows at night and then spill globs of butter out of the pails. In Sweden, it is known as Troll smör with a similar story.

black witch's butter fungus

I am going to be extra busy this coming week. I have a lot of work assignments, web site work, and things to write. If you don't see me visiting your blogs, I'll get there soon. Thanks for your faithful reading!

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Friday, October 28, 2011

Ellen and Joan Work and Walk at Crystal Valley


The morning was wet and cold, with ice on the windshield that had to be scraped. But Ellen and I had plans to be outside, so we weren't going to be deterred by that. We decided to go to Crystal Valley Ski Area, and do some cleanup on the trails.

She's an avid skier (I'm only mediocre), and belongs to the association that maintains those trails. So we pulled limbs and sticks out of Loop 4. Clearing them makes it easier for the groomer, and a smoother surface. Even if there is a lot of snow, loose branches have a way of working up or twisting up to trip a skier.

walking in autumn woods

By noon, the sun had come out and the woods was really pretty. It was seriously difficult to pick just a few pictures. You can see how many leaves have fallen, and yet, there are still occasional trees like this one.

red maple

Frankly, when the sun shines, even the less bright leaves are outstanding. Here are some white oak.

white oak fall leaves

I leave you with the find of the season... the largest red oak leaf I've seen this year, maybe ever. Ellen will model it for you.

red maple

In addition to cleaning Loop 4, we walked Loop 5. It's not completed yet, but is all flagged, so we could follow it. All together, we hiked more than 6 miles.



See It's the Oak's Turn
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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Colors are Still With Us


Every time I think the fall colors are all gone, I find another surprise. Today was a work day, and I was trying to stay ahead of a big black cloud (and pretty much did), but the sun shining around the dark cloud made the hills near Luther very dramatic.

hillside with fall colors

hillside with fall colors

They really need a panoramic view, but then the picture would be very narrow.

The sun through the remaining bright leaves does jeweled magic. There were water drops on these leaves that sparkled, but they didn't show in the picture.

orange maple leaves

See Indian Summer 2011
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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Michigan Holly


You have to love this plant. When everything else is turning brown and dull, the winterberry turns on the red.

winterberry

It's a shrub, also known as Michigan Holly. Indeed, it is a real holly, Ilex verticillata. It will keep the red berries all winter, so it really stands out against the snow.

winterberry

Happy Day!




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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

My Problem Fades to Insignificance


Someone gave us this bad boy this week. It's not that I'm ungrateful. We have to find turkeys from the farm since Om had his heart attack, because the commercial ones are pumped full of saline. So I was thrilled when Joshua said that a friend of his was going to give us a turkey.

I hope I exuded proper gratitude when they brought it by. But, frankly, my reaction was, "How the heck am I going to cook this thing? I'm not sure it will fit in the freezer, let alone the oven. And the roasting pan? Not a chance."

It tips the scales at 30 pounds, dressed, no giblets. So I shuffled the freezer and got it to fit.

30 pound turkey

Tonight at my writing group, Betsy, who has a farm said, "We decided to raise some turkeys this year, but I guess we weren't paying enough attention when we bought the chicks because they turned out not to be the usual domestic turkeys. So they got a little big. The one we dressed out today weighs 39 pounds."

I think Betsy and I will be looking for recipes that let you cut the turkey up before you cook it!

I thought I was going to show you a picture of one of my turkeys, but I guess I haven't fixed one since I started this blog. (and I don't feel like hunting through old files to find one) The boys don't like turkey, and it's a bit much for two of us, but somebody is going to have to eat a lot of fowl this year!

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Monday, October 24, 2011

In Honor of Rupert


If you've been a long-time visitor of this blog, you've heard me mention a friend from New York named Elaine. She's had a canary named Rupert for almost 20 years. I'm sure you know what comes next. Rupert died two weeks ago. Elaine is sure that Rupert understood almost everything she said to him, and who am I to argue? The first picture is Rupert in 2001.

canary

Here is Elaine, talking with Rupert, also in 2001 (don't ask how much we've aged in 10 years).

canary

Rupert was very calm and tame. He was pretty much free to come and go from his cage as he wished. Here he is in 2009

canary

Elaine has a new canary named Robbie, and she's trying really hard to focus on training him while working through the loss of Rupert.

She sent me the link to this video. It's not Rupert, but she says this canary's song is just like his. I didn't realize that canaries had different tunes, but I guess they do. If you are so inclined, listen to a canary sing, and think of my friend, Elaine. She's really hurting.



See Buttermilk Falls for a walk with Elaine
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Sunday, October 23, 2011

Orange and Blue, Not Syracuse

Nothing very profound or new today. But often, the familiar can bring as big a smile. The day began with the toilet spraying the entire bathroom. Then we moved on to the refrigerator peeing all over the kitchen. All problems fixed with nothing major. Now, there's something big to be thankful for! I spared you the pictures of the yuck that was under the fridge.

Sorry about the orange and blue... they were also my high school colors, so they just go together in my mind, but I think most people picture Syracuse with that combo. Here's my set for today: orange tree, bluebird. Just snapped while taking Maggie for our regular walk around my kingdom.

orange tree

bluebird

I also designed the cover for News from Dead Mule Swamp, and then I got inspired and wrote two more chapters. It's starting to really come together nicely. (You can follow that project over at Shark Bytes and Tales, if you want.)

See Snow Bird is Blue
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Maggie Says- "Pay Attention in the Woods"


Maggie here. I am going to tell you what happened today because I know that Mom doesn't want to admit any of it. First of all, I want you to notice that I am wearing my orange jacket for safety in the fall. There are still a few colorful leaves on the trees, and when the sun comes out, which it did today, they are still pretty.

dog in autumn woods

Well, we drove to a place where we hike sometimes. We walk an old woods road over to the North Country Trail, follow it for a while, and then cut back to the real road and go back to the car. Just so that you understand what I mean, that's the real road that I'm standing in. Old woods roads haven't been driven in years.

But when we got there, Mom changed her mind. She decided to take a different road over to the NCT. Then she saw an even older road going off in the other direction, and decided to see where it went. So we did. But she promptly forgot that she'd turned off the first real road (Fox Trail) to the left.

The sun was out, so it was easy to tell that we were going north. That was fine. The sun made every patch of moss glow. I can't tell if the moss looks like green caterpillars, or if the caterpillars look like moss. Can you?

moss on stump

The farther we went, the dimmer and dimmer that old road got, until it finally petered out. Mom considered whether to turn around, or just keep going. She knew that Oak Road was to the north. She thought the NCT was to the east, and Fox Trail to the west. So she decided to keep going. How lost could we get? Humans call this bushwhacking. I just call it walking.

We continued north and came to a little pond that we've never seen before. It was pretty, but the water didn't taste so good. I tried it.

reflection in a pond


At the pond we joined another old road that headed northeast. Pretty soon we came to Oak Road. Just like Mom thought. But... she forgot that she had started by going west off Fox Trail, so she thought we needed to go west to get back to the car. Nope. So we walked all the way out to the paved road. I think she was trying to figure out if we'd gotten into a time warp and Fox Trail had disappeared.

It's funny how things look all wrong when you are expecting other things. She had forgotten that motorsports trails cross Oak Road in two places. She had never noticed two really big rocks beside the road. When we got to the pavement, we had to turn around and walk right back. Where the heck was Fox Trail? These are roads that she drives all the time. I just stuck out my tongue and laughed at her, but she didn't notice.

So we walked back past where we had come out on Oak Road, and sure enough, Fox Trail hadn't moved. When we were almost back at the car we passed the corner where we had first left Fox Trail. Mom just shook her head, and I could tell she finally realized what she had done.

I know she won't want me to tell this story, because her friends think she ALWAYS knows where she is in the woods. Maybe she pays attention better when someone is counting on her.

Anyway, we had a great walk and found a few bright leaves yet. It wasn't really that big of a deal. We walked about 5.5 miles.


maple leaves



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Friday, October 21, 2011

The Deuce It Is!


I don't think I'll ever top Paper Bag with Fish, but this is the same category of posts... things found beside the road.

deuce of hearts

Does this have a message for you?

See Grilled Cheese on Snow
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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Mr. Red


Just one picture today. It poured rain, and the wind blew and it was cold all day today. So I bring you a bright spot from earlier in the week. It's the male northern cardinal. They are quite common, but so cheerful that they are impossible to resist.


photo label

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Creepy Crawlies?

Today was another work day, and they sent me to a county outside my actual area because that rep is out of the state. It was raining the whole time, making for a really damp and muted afternoon.

However, I discovered that instead of pumpkins, quite a few farmers there are growing another fall vegetable.

field of butternut squash

It's one of my favorites. I confess to being tempted to steal one from an edge, but I was good. It's butternut squash.

field of butternut squash

However, as I prepared the pictures, I realized that at this scale a whole field of the squash begins to look quite a lot like a box full of worms. Who would have guessed that would happen?

field of butternut squash


See Oddities on the Corner for pale pumpkins
See Farm Country in Fall for orange pumpkins
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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Woodpecker Named Murphy


Today was a work day. I saw a lot of interesting things I could show you, but I decided this one wins. I was surveying a property that was an old farm house- lots of things that weren't up to snuff. There was one garage on the property that was nicely painted, and some damage to the siding had been patched with metal before the painting was done.

patches on siding

So, let's see... we have a large house, and five outbuildings. One of those six buildings is in good shape. So which one does the woodpecker want?

woodpecker on side of building

Of course. Never a doubt in your mind was there? And just for pure spite, he likes the buffet right below the patches.

woodpecker on side of building

"Mmmmm.... there are good bugs in there. I wonder why those funny humans put this white stuff over them. O well, it's only superficial. No problem."

woodpecker on side of building



See At Ellen's Birdfeeder for another Downy Woodpecker
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Monday, October 17, 2011

The Wrong Color?

I promised you a couple of pictures of leaves that did something surprising.

Both of these kinds of leaves generally turn yellow in the fall. First is a sassafras that has turned red. I found this very surprising because they turn yellow almost without fail. You might remember I showed you a whole road edge of sassafras and I don't think there was a red leaf to be found. Nevertheless, this little rebel decided to be red!

red sassafras leaf

The next one isn't quite so odd, but interesting even so. Like the sassafras, quaking aspen turns yellow, and quickly brown. You will see aspen trees that tend toward gold. These ones have gone just a bit farther toward orange.

orange aspen leaves

The colors are almost gone... rain and wind are bringing them down.

See Sassafras
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