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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year's Eve Morning

Just a beautiful mood of my backyard this morning. Out the door for church and a New Year's Eve party. See you next year!

fog in low hills

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Friday, December 30, 2011

How I Found My Way to Hollywood


 
First of all, let's be clear... I did, indeed, make it to Hollywood.

Hollywood Avenue Sign

How I got there is something else altogether. I was hoping I wouldn't have to go on assignments again while Loretta is still here, but I did have to go out this morning. One of the places I had to go was actually kind of exciting for me. Yup, Hollywood.

But, probably not for the reasons you think. This short Avenue is found along the Lake Michigan shore. Today's view, pre-storm, and with light fog...

Lake Michigan

The trick is how to get there. The road that leads there angles off of Morton Road just north of Cooper Creek. Here's a picture taken from Morton Road. The road I needed to turn on is named "Old Freesoil Road."

I've been wanting to explore there for a long time. In the first place, the name is really odd... the road is miles and miles from the village of Freesoil, and doesn't lead there by any stretch of the imagination.

In the second place, I have not found any map of that area that is correct. Today I took four maps with me: Google, DeLorme, Mason County map, and the Manistee National Forest map. Not a one of them shows all the roads correctly. OK, then! So I turned from Morton onto Old Freesoil Road. Here we go...

Old Freesoil Road

I was really glad to do this assignment this morning, because we were actually supposed to get snow today (but we didn't). I don't think I want to drive this area in the snow. Nope, not even me.

The road branched and wiggled and the sand got looser and looser, and of course, none of the branches were labeled. After about a mile I got here.

seasonal road

Well, that Forest Road number wasn't on ANY of the maps I had. I took it for a while, then turned on another that seemed to head toward the lake. It wandered around and got narrower and narrower, and finally dumped me right back near the corner of Morton and Old Freesoil. So, now I know where THAT road goes.

I turned around and went back far to the north, and tried to come in from that direction. Success! I found Hollywood with no problem, and the house I needed even had the number on it. Whew!

That was my last assignment so I tried continuing on Old Freesoil Road to see where I should have come from the south. Turns out, it's really easy when you know which unmarked sand road to take...

See Cooper Creek
See Ellen and Joan Sneak in an Adventure
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Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Mundane & The Magical


 
I've been wanting to show you this for a while, and then when I did the paper route in early December, I was able to complete "the set."


The magical parts of this post were taken in August (also on the paper route), but on the very morning I left for Ohio, and then I showed pictures from hiking rather than these.


The mundane part, which is the first picture, is a shot of an unkempt open field. It has little to recommend it... dead grass, some dead conifers, nothing much of quality botanically.

open field

However, when you add some heavy fog which was just lifting, and a sunrise, look what you get:

sunlight on field

sunlight on field


sunlight on field

grass

If you read my author blog, you know that Loretta and I accomplished great things today! (but they were not exactly picturesque... thus you get "old" views)

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Maggie's Christmas

Just in case you were worried about what kind of a Christmas Maggie had, she'd like you to know that she was well cared for by Santa. Her favorite treat, rawhide was under the tree (she followed it from the Kitchen to the Living Room, and could hardly wait for it to be laid down).

Dog eating rawhide bone

And, post turkey putting away, yeah, ok... she got to lick the platter. It was Christmas, after all!

Dog licking platter

Lack of sleep last night (taking Steve to airport), and an early doctor appt for Josh in the morning means that I'm headed for bed right now.

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Annual Christmas Picture


 
Somewhere along the line we started taking a picture like this since we've been in the "new" house.

Here's the 2011 version.

photo label


See Just Another Crazy Christmas for another of these pix.

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Monday, December 26, 2011

Three Craw Sat Upon a Wa'


 
I've been hoping to find "three craw" sitting around somewhere for quite a while. Sorry, I don't have a "wa," so they are just in a tree, but I get to share this song. We used to sing it at Scout camp, and I have always thought it is particularly funny. It's a traditional Scottish children's song. I think there are several versions, but they are all similar.

three crows in a tree

Three craws sat upon a wa',
sat upon a wa',
sat upon a wa',
Three craws sat upon a wa', On a cold and frosty mornin'.

The first Craw fell an' broke his jaw,
fell an' broke his jaw,
fell an' broke his jaw,
The first Craw fell an' broke his jaw, On a cold and frosty mornin'.

The second craw couldna' flee at a' ,
couldna' flee at a' ,
couldna' flee at a' ,
The second craw couldna' flee at a', On a cold and frosty mornin'.

The third Craw couldna' find his maw'
couldna' find his maw'
couldna' find his maw'
The third Craw couldna' find his maw' On a cold and frosty mornin'.

The fourth Craw wisna' there at a',
wisna' there at a',
wisna' there at a',
The fourth Craw wisna' there at a', On a cold and frosty mornin'.

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Sunday, December 25, 2011

Galluzilla Fuels More Good Times

 
I'm sure you are just dying to hear how Galluzilla turned out. Well, much to my surprise, it was excellent! I decided to cook the 20 pounds (yes, still that much even with the less prime parts already removed) in an oven roasting bag, and that was a great choice. It was moist and tasty. I tried a new stuffing- apple sourdough, and that was good too.


cooked turkey

We sat down to eat around 2 pm. With Loretta helping me the cooking didn't seem like such a drag... some help and someone to visit with makes it all much better.

Christmas dinner

After the table was cleared and the mess all settled, we played some games. Steve skunked Loretta and me at three games of Mille Bornes, and we laughed a lot.

playing Mille Bornes

Josh brought little Loopy over for the day. She is fatter than ever, but she actually let me pet her!

black Chihauhau

I know these scenes look like everyone else's family times, but we don't get to have them very often, and we are having a really good time, so forgive me for sharing so many.

Hope your Christmas was everything you wanted it to be!

See The Point of My Quality Day for more about Loopy
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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Fun and Food


 
First of all, a correction... the Elf says he is not an elf, but a Hobbit. Sorry, Om.

We are having a ton of fun. This is turning out to be a great Christmas. It's been a while.

The Hobbit worked on decorating the tree for a while.

decorating a Christmas Tree

I got my big gift early, and Loretta and I were having fun with it this morning. Yes, I got a keyboard! Much more than our usual gift-giving, but Om said he owed me a few things. I won't complain! So we sang some carols. Loretta has lots more talent than I do, but we have fun anyway.

singing with a keyboard

I made pumpkin-cranberry muffins. Mostly for tomorrow's breakfast, but we had a few today too. Yummy.

muffins

Then Loretta and I made the jello for tomorrow and cut up the veggies, and made two pumpkin pies. The Hobbit wanted to check them out. He threatened early sampling, but we banished the food to the pantry to keep it safe from Hobbits and red dogs.


Pumpkin pies

This was the result of Thursday's baking spree, but I promised you food, and I'm going to deliver!


Christmas cookies

The less prime parts of Galluzilla have been boiled, picked from the bones, divided into soup makin's and dog treats, and the stock all packed away in the freezer. Whew... big, big job. I sure wish I would have cut up that monster in November when we got it. But, hey, we got it all done.

I'm posting this early, because we are going to church at 5:30 and then leaving right after that to go to Grand Rapids to get Steve at the airport. We might not be home until midnight.

Merry Christmas to all my blogging buddies! Have great times with your families and friends, and if you are having a lonesome holiday this year, have a hug and a smile.

See Under the Knife for more about Galluzilla
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Friday, December 23, 2011

Our Own Private Elf

 Today was nuts, but we are looking a little more festive! Yesterday the tree made it to the stand, and today, when I came home from the grocery store, good things had occurred!

decorating a Christmas tree Loretta caught our own private elf adding lights!

Joshua's follow-up exam showed that his eye is doing well. His vision is better already, even though there is still swelling and healing that needs to happen!

This will be short. Everyone is too busy to read long posts right now, and I'm too tired to write one.

Tomorrow will be non-stop cooking. I'll share!

See A Short Tour of the Christmas Tree
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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Under the Knife

 
Don't be confused at the fact that half this post is serious and half is kinda funny. It's just that there was an odd connection between the events at the two ends of the day.

For starters, Joshua had cataract surgery this morning. This was not a typical cataract, but was associated with the traumatic cataracts he's had since his childhood in VietNam (probably a shrapnel injury). We hope it will improve his vision, but it's not an absolute certainty.

eye surgery patient

Everything went fine, and I took him home about five minutes after this picture was taken. I suspect he wanted to go there, rather than here, because he has more channels on his TV.

I think we've finally kicked into Christmas gear... more on the festive parts another day. But you may remember Galluzilla...no? Sure you do, it just didn't have a name the first time around. (Gallu- comes from gallus, the Latin word for the common barnyard fowl; zilla- do I really need to explain?) This is the 30-pound plucked fowl that I, unfortunately, threw in the freezer whole.

Don't worry though. It spent two days under water in the (scrubbed) laundry tub. Next task... dismemberment.

cutting up a turkey

Do you think there's enough for all of us?

huge turkey drumstick

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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mystical Christmas Woods

 
On my wanderings today I passed through a section of woods that I suspected harbored some mystical powers. My mystic sensors started beeping seriously when they detected a gnome emerging from its underground realms.

gnome

My suspicions were confirmed, and the scene came into stronger focus, when this Evil Elf rushed toward me from the forest edge. I was afraid he was threatening to either beat me with a candy cane, or to sing and dance Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer to the tune of Way Down Upon the Swanee River.

elf

Not to worry, though. The elf was soon called to task by Father Christmas himself. We can tell that FC wins because he is wearing the Red Gloves of Power, and he's not afraid to use them! Don't be alarmed at the expression of surprise on his face. He's never daunted by rogue elves. The cause of his surprise is that while he was busy disarming the elf he kinda forgot to pay attention to other possible threats and two holly-jolly Leeches of December latched on to his ankle and hip.

Father Christmas

And it's nice to see that a venerable myth is now dispelled. Instead of two hungry children crouching beneath the robes of the bringer of Christmas Present, there is actually a singing penguin with snowmen for a backup band. Don't ask, don't tell!

singing penguin

I wasn't fast enough to snap a pic of the Christmas Pig, but it's probably just as well. You might not have been able to stand the shock.

I'm telling you the truth- I live in a really special place in this world!

See A Tale of Nor-Dunes
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Crystal Mountain- It's Winter Somewhere!

 
Remember the snow-making machines? (See Explosion? Fire? Foggy Valley?) Today I had to survey a house that is in the actual resort community for Crystal Mountain. How would you like to have this in your backyard?

Crystal Mountain

It was actually quite bizarre. There is also a golf course in the resort, and it was all still green. You could actually play golf and ski on the same day! I didn't get a picture of the golf course, but if you look at the lawn in front of the lodge you can see the green grass.

Crystal Mountain Resort

The public parking lot was almost full. The winter lovers with money to buy lift tickets were out in force.

Crystal Mountain Resort

Downhill skiing is not a sport for the poor. Actually, if you catch one of the early deals on season tickets, you can get a pretty good price, but you'd have to go there at least once a week to get your money's worth out of it. The equipment isn't cheap either. I'd love to learn how to downhill ski, but cross-country is a lot cheaper and easier!

downhill skiers

While many parts of the U.S. are getting blasted with winter storms already, it looks like Lower Michigan is going to have a green Christmas. How strange is that? Except for Crystal Mountain, of course!

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Monday, December 19, 2011

Birds on a December Day


Did assignments all day long, worked all evening on the reporting. Tomorrow will be ditto, and I just got 11 more cases that are due by the 29th. Let's see... I can go out tomorrow (already in the plan). Then Loretta comes tomorrow night. I can go out Wednesday (don't want to right after she comes, but you'll see why it may be the best plan). Can't on Thursday- Josh has cataract surgery. Can't on Friday. Josh has followup. Theoretically could on Saturday, but the day before C-mas... I'd rather not. Saturday night we go to GR to pick up Steve. Sunday- C-mas. Steve can stay till the o-dark-thirty on the 28th. So I don't want to go out on the 26th or 27th since we haven't seen him for two years. I guess I could go out on the 28th, but there's no wiggle room there for errors. Yikes!

Let's talk about more fun things than schedules. How about birds of the day?

First we have an ordinary crow, but I caught it flying.

crow flying

Next we have some wild turkeys. I missed the chance to bring you a really funny video. One turkey, near the back of the pack, kept sticking its head straight up and then taking a jump... a straight up popcorn jump! I finally figured out it was pulling autumn olive berries off a bush, but when I turned the video camera on, of course he wouldn't do it again.

wild turkeys

Here's a little tufted titmouse at someone's bird feeder. I wish it would have stood in silhouette to show the crest, but instead you get a front view... makes him look like he has a Mohawk!

tufted titmouse

Those are all pretty typical, gray, December pictures. How about something brighter and funnier? Not wild birds, but these made me laugh. The ducks were quacking, the hens cackling, and the rooster even crowed for me!

chickens

I actually have something really nifty to show you, but I have to locate some pics from earlier in the year to go with the ones I took today. That will be a good thing to save for a "slow news day!"

I'll be out taking more pictures of houses, and hunting for surprises for you tomorrow.

See Backyard Birds
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