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, September 24, 2017

Breakfast and Tea

Ester and I are pretty comfortable just being together even if we don't have a lot of activities. It was too hot again to today to do much extra. However, we started by going to House of Flavors for breakfast. Always a good choice.

House of Flavors

The afternoon was filled with a Reader's Theater presentation at the Arts Center. I was one of the readers.

reader's theater

We did two short plays written by one of our own members, Phil Barrons of Pentwater. The first one was a lighthearted look at the history of tea in the Western World. The second one was a humorous interpretation of the short story, "A Family Christmas." The audience was larger than we expected, and they responded well. That's always good!

Phil Barrons

Of course, there was tea for refreshment, and plenty of cookies.


Ester made me buckle down and finish Chapter 47 of Dead Mule Swamp Druggist, so that's really good news. I'm ready for writers' group on Tuesday evening.

It's possible we might get some of the tasks done tomorrow that we have planned for the weekend!

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Saturday, September 23, 2017

Too Much Fun to Blog

Ester is here. We are just having fun, even though it was too hot to move. We went out for burgers, and had ice cream at home.

ice cream

We watched a movie and Jade watched us.

ice cream

I know this isn't a high quality post, but having Ester here IS high quality, so I'm going to stop writing and get back to enjoying our friendship.

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Friday, September 22, 2017

My Trailer Redo - Days 29-49 - Stripping Round 1 Done!

The first phase of the stripping is 100% done! I thought I'd never get there.

fiberglass trailer

(Skip this part if you don't want the technical stuff.) Just for the record, I used almost exactly 1.5 gallons of Citristrip. In my opinion, it worked well. Some areas of paint came off with one application, some took two. This seemed to be related to the thickness of the paint, and how much it had degraded. However, the temperature also seemed to matter. I think the stripper worked best between 70 and 80 degrees. It definitely worked less well below 70. I left the stripper on for about an hour before scraping. It was usually dried in that time, but it had also soaked into the old paint. It didn't seem to soak in well at lower temperatures. If I left it longer than an hour it didn't seem to work better, but only took longer between coats. After each area was scraped, I wiped it down with mineral spirits.

I recommend buying as many plastic scrapers as you are willing to. They were only a buck each, but I'm cheap. I used 6. A better number would have been 8. Not only do they get dull, but the plastic actually softens. I was able to put a bit of an edge back on them, but it didn't help much because they got too flexible. I did like using a narrow one (1.5 inch) for tight curves. And I also used a kitchen scrubby for really tight places.

Getting this job done doesn't mean I'm anywhere near ready to paint. I have to finish filling those big holes with fiberglass, and there are a lot of dings to be smoothed out with filler. A final filler coat has to go over the bigger holes too.

fiberglass trailer

I also have to go over the whole thing at least one more time to remove the residue from this stripping. Lacquer thinner and a Scotch-brite pad were recommended. I tried a test patch and wasn't overwhelmed with the results. But that's something to figure out another day.

I'm also about ready to pull the windows and lights.

fiberglass trailer

Don't even ask how long this will take. It will take as long as it does. Some days the weather doesn't cooperate. Other days I'm just too tired after work. Today... Worked all day (but we did finish early), came home and did trailer stripping and wrote another 500 words of Dead Mule Swamp Druggist, and am headed back to work for the night in less than an hour. Energized is great, but eventually I crash.

It hasn't got much to do with the trailer, except that I was outside to see it... the sky was gorgeous!


and I finished the trailer job just at sunset.


See 23-29, Half Stripped
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Thursday, September 21, 2017


The early evening sky was swirly with clouds (north).


Sunrise and sunset weren't too shabby either (east and west).



I'm beat. That says it all for me. The sky just keeps on doing its beautiful things. I'm less consistent.

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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Zucchini Days

Today was pretty busy- work, shopping, stripping trailer, and a meeting this evening. Still hoping to write a little. I also made zucchini bread- two loaves. That used up half of the smaller one I had. Took some to the meeting. Somebody from work gave me a monster one today. I think a big batch of soup is going to happen. But not today.

zucchini bread

If you work with me, you'll be having Heather's soup and my bread for lunch tomorrow. Otherwise... too bad! Or you can come visit- I think someone is coming this weekend. Stay tuned.

More bread could go in the freezer for work snacks too.

See Quiet
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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

36,37... Don't Ruffle My Feathers

Our feathers are permanently ruffled, so you can't make them any more so. We will just stand here in this corner and observe. Perhaps we have an attachment disorder.

metal flamingo

That would be really bad news, because flamingos need to be social, living in large groups, to breed successfully.

Over 20 different encounters, and now 37 flamingos. The series continues.

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Monday, September 18, 2017

Green Mansions

A few years ago, I came across a copy of a book at a rummage sale that I'd been wanting to re-read. The book is Green Mansions, by William Henry Hudson, published in 1904. Although he was an ornithologist and naturalist, and wrote many books, he is perhaps best remembered for this work. It was required reading in one of my high school English classes.

Green Mansions
And that brings me to why I wanted to read it again. It's certainly not my kind of book. Not then, not now. However, all I could remember from so long ago was the basic plot and that I found it strangely disturbing. There are only a few books that have ever left me with that kind of feeling. As an adult, I finally figured out that the stories that confused and troubled me this way were ones where I identified with more than one of the main characters.

Ever since I realized this, I'd been looking for a copy of Green Mansions. Found this one for a dollar!

I'm going to digress a minute to talk about the book itself. This is a Heritage Club reprint (1937) of a special book club edition. The Limited Edition Club was a subscription service created in 1929 by George Macy with only 1500 copies of each book printed. The Heritage Club offered more affordable reprints. The originals had stunning artwork, by famous artists. This book was illustrated by Miguel Covarrubias.

Green Mansions
Anyway, I wanted to find out if I would still react the same way to this book that I did as a young teenager. The answer is "no." Not at all. In fact, I had to force myself to finish the book.

I think back then I saw myself both as the explorer who wanted to search out the unknown parts of the jungle (not really the point of the first person protagonist- but I was too naive to "get it."), and as Rima the almost magical girl of the forest who could communicate with the animals, appear and disappear almost mystically, and who had no people, was unique. I think I somehow guessed that the story could not end well, but didn't understand why.

The style is flowery and romantic. Very much the style around 1900, but not so much a century later. It's the kind of book I can't really stand any more, where we hear every nuance of thought and emotion.

Even so, it will probably end up on my best books of the year list (that I haven't shared for a few years), because now it's disturbing for different reasons. It's all about lost love, and love that can never be fulfilled, and the death of innocence, and tragedies of non-acceptance. Classic literature is usually good for a reason, no matter the writing style.

It can be read online for free, at several sites that carry books that are out of copyright.

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Sunday, September 17, 2017

Manistee National Forest- Challenge Hike #11

Today there were nine hikers. Several of our regulars had other commitments, but we've added some new faces as we've gotten farther north so the group size stays about the same.

group of hikers

Warning- there are a lot of pictures in this post. Enjoy or skip, as you wish. It just seemed like there was good variety in today's experiences.

I'm always looking for the miniature scenes. Is this a condo for tiny elves?

mushrooms on log

Everyone who hikes the section through Udell Hills has to find This Is It. The outfits change with the seasons.

This is it

It was nice to have a picnic table for a break midway (and a latrine). Sara, Kevin and Ed shown here.

group of hikers at picnic table

Cedar Creek is a lovely little stream that meanders until it flows into the Manistee River.

Cedar Creek

Right in the middle of the second half is a 3 mile roadwalk that we haven't been able to find an alternate route around. I just get a kick out of it. The two roads are Michigan Avenue and Chicago Avenue. Seems rather pretentious for two ordinary dirt roads.

dirt road corner

Fall colors are just starting, but in a few places they were lovely.

fall colors

The trail crosses the road to Blacksmith Bayou campground.

blacksmith Bayou

I had forgotten what a pretty piece of trail this final section of we did today is. Because of that roadwalk, I don't do this piece very often. Most of it is on benched trail high above the marshy edges of the Manistee River.

trail on bluff

Then it drops down on a set of long switchbacks almost to river level. The willows were starting to look autumnal as well.


At last we reached and crossed the Manistee River. Our cars were just on the other side.

Manistee River

11.2 miles today. It was pretty hot- high seventies, but also cloudy so it wasn't brutal. By the time we finished it had started to cool down a little.

The joke of the day? For me it's this picture. I was going to make some sort of comment about the new polypore replacing the old, but clearly, instead I've caught a grinning shark coming around the edge of a reef.

smiling polypore.

Just a great day.

North Country Trail, Manistee County. Skocelas Road to Highbridge. 11.2 miles

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Saturday, September 16, 2017

I'll Take a Slice of That Please!

Coming home from work this morning there was one slice of a feature that was so compelling I stopped at a place I could see it better. I had to lie down in the wet grass to get a picture with no wires across the face. And the focus isn't great.

rising crescent moon

I took more photos when I got home, with a tripod, but by then the moon was high enough that the orange color was about gone. It only takes five minutes to make all the difference!

rising crescent moon

By the way, if you want to remember which "direction" the moon phase is headed, try "right rising, left leaving." This means when the crescent is on the right side the moon is waxing (heading toward full). When the crescent is on the left, like this one, the moon is waning (heading toward new or dark).

And, it ended up that I did take a picture yesterday, after I did the blog post game. The sunset was peaceful in pastels. Nothing gaudy, but beautiful in its own way.


In other news, little Steve turned 43 today. I called him. He's celebrating by having the flu, poor guy! But we did have a nice talk.

See My Sweetheart's the Man in the Moon for a waxing crescent moon
See My Little Squirt is 39
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