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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Leona Learns Local Lanes

I needed to go out and take some pictures for my monthly news column this afternoon, so Leona and I wandered some additional back roads. This one is an actual Forest Service road with a number. It ends in a campsite.

wiggling back road

We found a few (very few and small) ripe blackberries. Even a sample is yummy.


The flora is definitely moving into late summer mode. The ditches are filled with Boneset. Considered medicinal by natives, but so far no exact uses have been proven clinically.


My goal was Custer Bridge on the Pere Marquette River. Fairly recent changes have made it a very nice place to hang out, fish, relax. It has accessible platforms and good parking. The old lamprey weir has been removed.

Pere Marquette River

Sunning on the rocks (and maybe waiting for a frog?) was a young northern water snake. There were some young men there fishing, and they were trying to convince the girl with them that it was a water moccasin. She wasn't buying that.

northern water snake

On the way back, this anomaly of autumn showed up beside the railroad tracks. Dried out early from the heat of passing trains? Sumac, turned colors way sooner than anything else. Pretty, but where did the summer go?

sumac autumn colors

In other news: I wrote in the morning and did odds and ends, and went out and took pictures.

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Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Pipsqueak and Big Squeak

Not sure how this pipsqueak got in the house, but this grasshopper was in my bedroom this morning! On a grasshopper scale, it was big, almost three inches long. Handsome in a grasshoppery sort of way. Full-grown- see the long wings extending past the body? But still a pipsqueak.


There are hundreds of species of grasshopper. You may be shocked to learn that I am not particularly motivated to figure out this one's exact ID. But all grasshoppers are Orthoptera (along with katydids and crickets).

Nice headshot. Serious camouflage if it weren't sitting on a piece of light-colored fabric.


This afternoon, I heard a big squeak from my deck. Who's out there? The hairy woodpecker! Crummy pictures through a dirty window, and it was a fast visit. I didn't catch him or her in the birdbath, but maybe that was the attraction.

hairy woodpecker

Bye, bye!

hairy woodpecker

In other news: I worked all morning on the book. Finished yesterday's work list in the afternoon, and walked to the post office.

See Colored Heads and Striped Legs
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Monday, August 19, 2019

Almost Salad

Looky, looky! The little lettuce experiment is quite happy. Since I'm going hiking for much of September, this will become salad, at whatever stage it is found before I leave. Makes me happy that it worked out to some extent. Next year, maybe I can get it right on the first try and have a rolling lettuce bar all season.

gourmet lettuce in pots

This has nothing to do with lettuce, but I forgot to mention it the other day. I saw something I've never seen before! A fly was sitting on my book sales table (where the fly was isn't important), and a robber fly landed right on its back, picked it up and carried it away! So I guess the robber fly's reputation for being a aggressive hunter is deserved.

In other news: I made notes from recordings in the morning, then pretty much gave myself a rest day. Well, I puttered at a bunch of things. Did laundry, did some cleaning up, did a couple of things I was supposed to, but I didn't work at it very hard. Tomorrow, I have to get back in the harness! Also under the heading of goofy- yesterday I could not get enough to eat. Today, I'm hardly hungry at all.

See Lettuce Try Again
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Sunday, August 18, 2019

Buttermilk Honey- Better

The bread that failed (it was flat) last month tasted so good that I wanted to try it again. That, and I still had some sour milk in the refrigerator.

Punched it down and made the loaves earlier this time, so the second rising was better. But they still fell a little bit while baking. I think maybe they should have had more flour.

buttermilk honey bread

Nevertheless, this try is much better. I like this bread A LOT.

buttermilk honey bread

And so, I ate way too much of it today. Yum, yum.

Worked on the book and did paperwork. How to fill an entire afternoon with nothing very interesting.

See Bread Day Fail
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Saturday, August 17, 2019

Morning Light and More

I am sorry to tell you that I was too lazy to get out of bed fast enough to bring you a picture of the beautiful golden fog this morning. But there was lots of lovely silver light on the way to Hesperia.

These are wet asparagus plants.

light on wet asparagus

light on wet asparagus

And light shining behind spruce trees.

light on spruce trees

The event at Hesperia went well for me. I guess other people didn't sell much at all, but I did fine for a small event.

The booth next door had a great marketing manager. His name is Zeke, and he did a fine job of bringing people into their booth.

German Shepherd

And then, I got to do a favorite thing coming home. I'm sure you can guess what it was. Yup... I just followed back roads. I stopped at a few places so I could check that the info on my Get Off The Couch web site is up to date. One of the stops was Walkinshaw Wetland. It's such an open, desolate kind of place! But that is one reason the sandhill cranes like it.

Walkinshaw Wetland

After that, I really did wander. I got on a bunch of seasonal and Forest Service roads that aren't even on maps. Ended up at Whiskey Creek. If you are local, you know what the roads are like out there. Well, I sort of know my way around that corner of the county, but I goofed up one turn and ended up going almost in a circle! But who cares? I had fun.

I think this is Ruby Creek.

Ruby Creek

And, I introduced Leona to mud. Yes, the car's name is Leona. She changes color in different lights like a chameLEON, I was going to name her Leon, but then I realized she was a girl, so Leona it is. She is fine with mud. I would tell you what road this is, but it isn't on the maps! (Well, it might be on the National Forest map, but I haven't looked.)

back road

Supposed to rain tomorrow, but that is good. I have a lot of things I can catch up on inside.

See Walkinshaw Wetland
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Friday, August 16, 2019

Nordhouse Dunes Again

So, today was the actual day of the group hike. Even though I did all the same pieces of trails as last week, there is always something new to see, and the light was different today- overcast. That meant no blue water, but it was also cooler. I'll take that.

We went to the top of the lake overlook at Lake Michigan Recreation Area.

climbing to an overlook platform at Lake Michigan

Here's the group we ended up with, six people (I'm not in the picture) and Sadie the dog.

group of hikers

This little cutie checked us out, but decided not to hike with us.


Three hikers bailed after 3 miles for various reasons, 3 of us went on for another mile, and then 1 more left. One of the guys and I did one more loop, down into Nordhouse to the lake and then back to our cars.

There were swimmers in Nordhouse Lake.

swimmers in Nordhouse Lake

The Lake Michigan Trail is perched at the edge of the dune, and lends itself to interesting pictures.

trail in Nordhouse Dunes

I noticed that an awful lot of the Witch Hazel trees had rolled leaves. You can see the strands of "silk" the caterpillars spin to hold the rolls tight.

Witch Hazel leaf roller rolls

I unrolled several, but the caterpillars are gone. All that was left was frass (caterpillar poop).

Witch Hazel leaf roller

I wondered if there was one particular insect that does this with Witch Hazel, and there is. It's called the Witch Hazel Leaf Roller (duh), or palmerworm. This is the larvae of Dichomeris ligulella, a small brown moth with narrow wings. I probably could have found some if I'd known what to look for in the surrounding area. You can see them on

There was some light rain when we were almost done. It felt good- not enough to really get us wet.

Lake Michigan Recreation Area trails, about 4 miles, Nordhouse Dunes trails, Nippising, Nordhouse Lake, Algoma Ridge, Lake Michigan loop, another 4 miles

The whole day reminded me of a Girl Scout song, "God has created a new day, silver and green and gold, live that the sunset may find us, worthy His gifts to hold." Perfect.

See Pre Hike #3
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Thursday, August 15, 2019

Oceana County Adventure

Loretta and I went out to just find an adventure today, with a little less walking. First I took her to the high point of Oceana County. The view from there was great, not hazy. This is looking east

view east from high point of Oceana County

Then we went to walk the short loop around Gale's Pond.

Gale's Pond

Gale's Pond

The marsh full of heavy-headed cattails was visually interesting.

bent cattail heads

person taking a picture

Now, for the big find of the day for me. Drum roll... I've been trying to catch this orchid in bloom for years! I keep finding just the leaves, or the seed pods later in the summer. Today I found it in bloom. Downy Rattlesnake Plantain, Goodyeara pubescens. Here's the whole plant. Notice the interesting leaves.

downy rattlesnake plantain

And the flower head. This makes it a preeeemo botany day!

downy rattlesnake plantain

Caught an interesting angle on a common whitetail dragonfly.

common whitetail

Then, I quick checked another short trail (Loretta had enough walking, but she didn't mind waiting while I did the other loop), and we got a yummy dinner at the Big Hart Brewing Company in Hart.

The car needed to understand more about dirt roads so we wandered toward home on one of my favorites, 88th Avenue. Sadly, they've closed the bridge over the Pentwater River on it. You used to be able to drive through.

country road

A wonderful afternoon!

In other news: I wrote in the morning, and did a few other odds and ends.

See Gale's Pond, A Wonderful Day
See Gale's Pond
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