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.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Sun, Moon, Venus, Sun, Sun

Time passes. We can measure it out in doses of the movement of heavenly bodies.

Sunrise yesterday with the crescent moon and Venus. Mars was supposed to be there somewhere too, but maybe there was already too much light to see it.

sunrise, moon, Venus

Sunset yesterday.


Sunset today.


In between these worthy markers I've been busy. I'm working really hard on the trailer. Not enough finished to give you a report yet. The fussy clean-up parts just take a ton of time.

Work yesterday and today.

Various other activities.

Accountability report:
Started Chapter 50 of Dead Mule Swamp Druggist. 420 words written, and a plot transition figured out.

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

New Plant- Cutleaf Blackberry

Learned a new plant this week. Too bad it's not a good one.

I was out at the Art Barn helping to set up the Spooky Trail for Halloween. Ran into (literally) a bush with horrible killer thorns. Not a good picture, but it's the best I have now.

Rubus laciniatus

I had no idea what it is. The thorns looked like blackberry, but the leaves sure didn't.

Rubus laciniatus

Flowers? Another bad picture. But pretty much like a blackberry. Oddish triple-pinked outer edges. Slightly pink.

Rubus laciniatus

A little farther on (lots of these bushes snagging clothes and hands. Ouchy) I found... berries.

Rubus laciniatus

I was quite sure at this point it was some kind of blackberry, so I took a tiny taste. Yup. Very tasty. Ate one.

The core and sepals where the berry comes off look very blackberry.

Rubus laciniatus

Came home and looked it up. Blackberry. Cutleaf or Evergreen Blackberry, Rubus laciniatus. Alien, invasive. But often planted for the nice berries. I think that was the origins of these bushes a generation or so ago.

They can grow into small trees, overrunning other vegetation and creating impenetrable thickets. I can believe that. It has multitudes of recurved thorns that are even worse than the native blackberry. Spots I snagged on my hands are still sore today.

I'll try to get some better pictures to put on my plant pages.

Accountability report: 180 words on Dead Mule Swamp Druggist, to finish Chapter 49. Just for fun, and as a writing exercise, took a challenge from another writer to create a horror story in two sentences. Wrote three in my head while working (they are posted on Facebook). I'm not a fan of horror, but it's good to practice skills outside one's comfort zone sometimes.

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Monday, October 16, 2017

Handbell Choir - It is Well & Softly and Tenderly

Yesterday was also handbell choir Sunday, and I got someone to push the video button on the camera that was able to do so before we started playing. You would think this to be an easy skill, but I haven't had much luck.

Both of these arrangements are really pretty, despite the fact that they are easier pieces than some of the things we played last year.

The prelude was "It Is Well With My Soul." It's fairly long, but I love the way the minor key comes in.

For the anthem, we did "Softly and Tenderly" with a soloist. If you are familiar with hymns, you'll notice right away that this is an alternate tune. I have the opening note on this song, so I had to really pay attention! I like the runs in the bass. See if you can hear them. Dale and I coordinated pretty well to play the runs even with a missing person.

In other news: here's my accountability report.

Saturday I wrote about 300 words, Sunday I wrote nothing. Today I wrote 460 words. This looks so pathetic, but I have to trust that it's better than nothing.

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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Manistee National Forest Challenge Hike #13 - Final

It looked like today was going to be a questionable day for a hike. High winds and rain began last night. Things were still blustery and wet this morning. Several people cancelled. Those of us who did not cancel drove in real rain all the way to the trailhead. Even so, we ended up with ten hikers


Every single one of these hikes has had good weather. The worst we could complain of were a couple of days that were pretty hot. So we figured we were due to get wet. But.

We did not get wet! The rain stopped, and the sun even showed up intermittently. Enough to make a shadow. The temperature was in the 50s, which I consider perfect for hiking.

hiker shadow

The colors are still not happening where I live. But this is an hour north. It was great to see that we might still have autumn color here.

red leaves

This sassafras even produced an odd-colored Michigan leaf. They are usually almost all yellow.

sassafras leaves

Of our whole series, this was the hike with the most topography. Most of the trail hills are well-designed, though, so they aren't painful to hike. Some of the switchbacks also present nice photo ops.


One of the neat things about this section is that you can look across to the opposite side of the Manistee River. The views of fall color over there are always appealing, but very hard for the camera to capture. This isn't too bad.

fall color

In this case, the color is on our side of the river.

fall color

We knew there were only 1.5 miles to go when we reached Eddington Creek. We stopped for a snack break then climbed to reach the final mile which was on a railroad bed. Easy ending!

Eddington Creek

We had an interesting people encounter in this last bit of trail. More on that in a minute.

The ending was at Hodenpyl Dam, and Hodenpyl Dam Pond. It's pretty large- a lake, but the name is pond. Three of our group were camping out and hiking on northward for two more days.

It was a good ending for a good series of hikes, and lots of new friendships made. About 120 miles total hiked over the season- all the North Country Trail in the Manistee National Forest.

Hodenpyl Dam Pond

Now for the people we met. There was a group of six young people who asked us if we'd seen another couple (defined as a guy and girl- I do not mean to imply a relationship, since I have no knowledge on this topic), whom they described. We had not seen them. They gave one of our group a cell phone number in case we did see them. Then they split up and continued jogging down trails, hunting for the missing hikers.

We got to the end of our hike and one car was already on the way back to the start point to take someone to a car. I was also going there, and left just a few minutes later. As I came up to that vehicle, they were stopped in the road (narrow dirt- not a highway) talking to this missing couple. But they did not have either the cell number of the group leader or the number of the guy in our group who did take that number. I did have our guy's number. I told the kids to get in the car (their English wasn't too good), and made the call. He called the group leader. I took the kids back to the trailhead where their group leader came to get them.

The couple was lost. They had walked for four extra hours in full packs, not knowing where they were. I will say that they were neither cold (they had rain gear and hats) nor hungry, but the girl said she was starting to get scared.

I can't begin to tell you how many things are wrong with this scenario! Oh wait. Yes I can. And I will.

The couple did not have the cell number of their leader. They did not know where the group was going to be camping. They had a map, but apparently couldn't read it. They were unable to show us on the map where they had been or where they were. Somehow the group let this obviously inexperienced couple get separated from the rest of them. Apparently no one in the main group had the cell phone number of these kids (who said they did have a phone).

Since the kids had full packs on, I assume they had tent or tents. But it was starting to rain again by then, and it wasn't going to be long before dusk set in. I don't know if they had ever spent a night in the woods, let alone lost and by themselves. I don't know if they had the ability to start a fire, or if they had food with them (perhaps someone else had all the group food).

Plan, people. Communicate, people. There was no reason this became a near crisis. Make sure everyone in the group knows the destination and contact numbers. Keep track of your group members. If there are places where the trail splits or turns make sure everyone knows what to do at these junctions.

Well, I'm glad we were able to help, and keep this from becoming something serious. I hope they aren't deterred from going on another overnight hike, but that all of them learn some lessons from this.

North Country Trail, Upper River Road TH north to Hodenpyl Dam TH, 10.5 miles

See MNF Hike #12
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Saturday, October 14, 2017

An Award and a Goal

This blog post is basically all about writing. At least that's the vine from which all the tendrils will emanate.

In the heyday of blogging there were a lot of awards floating around. I received some of them. They were/are more fun than meaningful, but that's OK.

Over a month ago, I was nominated for the Liebster Award by (Donna) D.B. McNicol of Romance and Mystery... Writing My Life. Thanks, Donna!

Liebster award
"Liebster" is a German word meaning beloved or dearest. It is an online recognition in form of virtual award which started in 2011 passed on by bloggers to fellow bloggers for enjoying and valuing their work. The idea is to recognize the effort and give credit.

I did realize that Donna was a writing acquaintance (also Facebook friends), but hadn't been aware that she writes small town mysteries. Had to sample her fare! I bought the first book in her series, Not A Whisper, and was delighted. Not only does she nail the small town atmosphere, but the plot was good, the characters fun. It's got more romance than my mysteries, but all tastefully done. Today, I bought the second one, Barely a Spark, because the books just flow from one to the other, like a serial story. Have to see what happens next! You can find links from her blog or locate her on Amazon.

Not only that, the books are set near Bradford, Pennsylvania, on the fringes of the Allegheny National Forest. I spent a weekend more or less sitting on curbs in Bradford a long time ago with car trouble. Marie, David and I had just finished our first long hike on the North Country Trail, which goes the length of the ANF. I felt at home in the stories.

So, here are the terms of the award.

The Liebster Award is received by writing an acceptance post. The rules for accepting the award are straightforward:

Thank the person who nominated you.
Answer the 11 questions you were asked.
Nominate 11 people and ask them 11 questions.
Notify each of the nominees on their blog.

Here are the 11 questions. Some have been answered from time to time, but I'll play occasionally.

1. What prompted you to begin blogging? This has been answered many times. See The Raison d'etre of My Quality Day

2. Which language would you like to learn? I have a half-forgotten knowledge of French. I'd like to revive that, or maybe learn Russian.

3. What was your favorite experience in the past six months? Hmmm. That just manages to exclude finishing hiking the Buckeye Trail, so I think it was correctly identifying the plant Picris Hieracioidies, and having the sample accepted to the University of Michigan Herbarium.

4. What one location in the world you would like to visit? Why? One? I have to choose one? I choose all of them. Why? I have terminal wanderlust.

5. Do you have pets? If yes, please introduce them. Not any more, except maybe the daddy-long-legs in the shower. Many of you remember Maggie the Vizsla.

6. What is the strangest food you have ever eaten? A pork brain patty sandwich in a diner in Ohio.

7. What is your biggest struggle while writing? Sitting down and turning the 10 million ideas into actual words.

8. Who would you like to receive a week of training/mentorship from? No clue. I have learned good things from expected teachers and mentors, and good things from unexpected sources.

9. What is the first thing you drink in the morning? Juice, preferably tart.

10. How many books do you read per month? This has slipped a bit since I have discovered online games (insert sheepish grin). but it's still somewhere around four.

11. What was your favorite time of year when you were growing up? Spring. I love the fresh smell of air and earth and all the flowers and buds popping with life.

I'm not sure I can nominate 11 other blogs. I don't think I read that many any more. I'll nominate the ones I do still visit. They can accept or not. These bloggers have all become friends beyond that casual use of the word that we fling around with online discussions. Some have become real-life friends. Some are also writers. At any rate, they are all people I feel a lasting connection with who still blog fairly regularly. Alphabetically by blog name, with the "connection":

Ann's Snap Edit Scrap Ann Thompson- crafts and dog
Dennis' Diary of Destruction James Viscosi- dog, humor, writing
Everyday Adventurer Ratty- my first blogging friend ever- love of nature
Seasons in the Valley Stew Hilts (The Furry Gnome)- love of nature, trails
Secondary Roads Chuck Hutchinson- country life, faith
Some Assembly Required John Sealander- dog, writing- we are similar in many ways, eerily so at times.
String too Short to Tie Dave Lacy (Vanilla)- country life, writing, faith

Accept if you want, folks!

And now for the goal- another writing tendril. This involves two decisions. I decided almost two weeks ago that I wanted to finish Dead Mule Swamp Druggist in time for people to buy it for Christmas.

However, there was a second related decision. Just wanting to do it wasn't going to get it done. There aren't very many days that I have a brain that isn't just a pile of mush. I'm tired from working a lot. So, I have to decide to write more, even when it's hard and I don't think I can. Like today. But I managed to squeeze out half a chapter. It was slow. Not efficient. But it was progress. There will have to be progress made almost every day. (A lot like the trailer project, which isn't going very fast either, but that's on a different vine altogether.)

Anyway. I'm putting this out there because you folks may help me be accountable. Here's to Dead Mule Swamp Druggist!

Dead Mule Swamp Druggist
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Friday, October 13, 2017

Orange, Almost Round

It's a good month for things that are orange and almost round. And I'm a firm believer in the idea that three of anything makes a collection. These are all from the last week.

photo label

photo label

photo label

And the boxes in my house reflect a life dedicated to the idea that three of anything is a collection. I'm just trying to stay off Hoarders. I keep saying I'm three boxes away.

Work tonight. I'm feeling a low energy day tomorrow, but who knows?

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Concord Grape Crumb Coffee Cake

Another recipe I just plucked off the internet and said, "I'll try that." This coffee cake is a keeper for sure.

grape coffee cake

It was to die for. We polished it off without any hesitation!

grape coffee cake

The only drawback is that you must remove the seeds from 2 cups of Concord grapes.

In other news: oh, there is no other news. Long day. Bed and book. Now. Because we start again first thing in the morning.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

But Is It Charlotte?

Just in time for Halloween, this lovely was crawling around the floor at work. Focus not so great. ID not so certain. Charlotte was a barn spider, Araneus cavaticus. The hairy striped legs look right. But it might be a garden orb spider, Araneus diadematus. That pattern on the body doesn't look quite right for either one.

At any rate, boo!


In other news, the kitchen is clean, including washing the very dirty and sticky floor!

I fooled around and tried some things and have a method figured out that really does take that paint residue off the trailer without too much trouble! That's a huge development. I'd tried several things and hadn't been satisfied with any of them.

I think it will be bed and a book very soon. The Thursday-Friday work marathon is about to begin.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

My Trailer Redo - Days 54, 55 - Sealing the Crack

This accomplishment seems like a huge milestone. In reality, I suppose it isn't too big a deal, but I feel as if I've finally done something that actually is forward progress.

The two places where I was repairing the lips of the seam between the halves of the trailer are finished. I ended up using two layers of fiberglass and a coat of resin and hardener, mixed with cabosil (fumed silica- texture like powdered sugar) for the final layer. I don't think I did a very good job with this, but I learned a lot and I can sand it down some more to be smoother.

Here's the built up place on the roof seam, trimmed off, ready for sealant. It turned out to have a good spacing.

fiberglass trailer seam

The place on the rear that was so difficult ended up wider than I wanted it to. I was afraid I was going to have to cut it off and start over, but I took a tiny piece of the Trim Loc and checked to see if it would fit over the gap. It will. It's not perfect, but I decided I could live with it, and hardly anyone else will notice.

fiberglass trailer seam

There was one other stupid thing to deal with, but it was simple. In two different places, one side of the seam was much higher than the other. That's what you are seeing in the picture below. I trimmed those spots so the two sides were more equal height.

fiberglass trailer seam

Then I was finally ready to apply the 3M 5200 Marine Adhesive/Sealant in the crack. First I cleaned out the crack as well as possible. A stiff steel-bristle brush worked the best for the job. After that, I used a rag with acetone and wiped the crack out. There were places I couldn't really get into with either one, but I did the best I could.

The sealant was interesting. The directions say you must use it all within 24 hours once you open the tube. It's a tube just like most kinds of caulk that you stick in a caulking gun. It has the consistency of melted marshmallows, but is even more sticky, if that's possible. I was forewarned to wear gloves.

It's just barely soft enough that over the course of a few hours it actually flowed down into the crack even where I wasn't able to force it in very much. Here's that roof spot again, filled.

sealed fiberglass trailer seam

And here's the front of the trailer where I trimmed the sides to be equal.

sealed fiberglass trailer seam

This afternoon, I checked the seam and put a tiny bit more sealant on in places where there were gaps or obvious air pockets. All in all, I'm fairly satisfied.

Also bought $16 worth of sandpaper and sanding sponges for the next phase! But I forgot to get another box of gloves, so there will be another store trip very soon. I bought a box of 50 when I started, and there are 2 left.

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Monday, October 9, 2017

We Each Have Goals

This is a trail friend of mine, David. His goal for the day was to ride 40 miles on the Pere Marquette Rail Trail. I helped him spot his car this morning.

bicycle rider

I assume he made it, but I think he would have been happier if I'd arrived on time. I overslept. It wasn't too hot when he left, but mid-afternoon was way too warm for an October day. I'm so sorry... mornings and I just don't do well. That's the second time in two weeks I've turned off the alarm without realizing it. That's an old, old trick of mine, but it seems to be resurfacing. Bummer.

bicycle rider

My goals were more ordinary.

Turn in my volunteer hours to the trail association. Done, but on the very last day possible, of course.

Clean up the kitchen from all the canning and grape mess. Close but no cigar. I think one more sink full of soapy water will do it, and put a few more things away.

Write a chapter in Dead Mule Swamp Druggist. About halfway. I have time to finish it tomorrow afternoon, but I really wanted to get it done today. Not happening. My brain is fried.

Work on the trailer- fiberglass in particular. Made progress. I'll probably do a report tomorrow because I think I got one little thing done. Need to check it in the morning. I seem to be able to tolerate 2-3 batches of fiberglass resin a day before the fumes get to me.

Cut some grass. Didn't even think about it, sigh. One section has to be cut once more before winter, and I need to go over my trails so they'll be OK for skiing.

That's it...

I'm sore all over from climbing on and off the roof of the trailer, and my shoulders and wrist ache. Maybe I need a work day to recuperate!

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