Entries to Win Afghan

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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Maggie's Tips for a Holiday Weekend

dog waitingFirst of all, Maggie says "REMEMBER THAT TOMORROW IS QUIZ DAY! Come back and my mom will ask you silly and unfair questions which you can guess or make up some answers for. And if you win she says she'll give you an ad for a month.

Now, for my tips to get the most out of any holiday weekend. Trust me, these are the secret to HOLIDAY SUCCESS. ARF!

1. Anticipate every good thing that is going to happen!

dog licking platter

2. Let someone else do the cooking, if at all possible!

dog with stick

3. If you find a really good stick, run with it!

funny dog with ears flapping

4. If you are having fun, don't worry about looking silly! (Mom says sorry that this is from another year, but it's the funniest pic of me)

dog nosing in bucket

5. If you are offered a chance to go to the mall, just say NO, especially if there's a good compost bucket within range.

dog nosing a campfire circle

6. Never pass up leftovers, even if they have extra charcoal (good for calming tummy aches).

dog sleeping

7. Get plenty of rest! Holidays can be stressful.

See Maggie's Tips- Wear Orange
See Ester, the Shark, and the Zoo

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Holiday Irony

Rockettes' Live Christmas

Warning! This post will be a little "heavier" than my usual, but the feeling of irony was so strong tonight that I just have to share this story.

The Rockettes' Christmas Special was on PBS tonight. I guess they've been doing pretty much this same program for 77 years, but somehow I've never seen it before. Pretty impressive! Before I get to the ironic part, let me just say that the "March of the Wooden Soldiers" was even more interesting to me than their dances. It is precision marching. We used to do that for a week of each year in gym class when I was in high school. Most everyone hated it, but I liked it a lot, especially when I got the chances to call the steps. Anyway, that was fun to watch.

Whenever I see the Rockettes, I am always reminded of things from high school because there was a girl from my school who became one of the famous dancers. Now, this might not sound so remarkable, but I grew up in a very small farm town, where people just didn't escape and become famous. Shirley did. She was a senior when I was a freshman.

I also need to explain that I also grew up in a very conservative, strict church. Even though the girl who went to dance in New York City didn't go to our church, that sure didn't stop people from expressing their opinions. I suppose I should clarify here, that I am a Christian, probably even a conservative one. But the bent for criticism of others mixed with small-town gossip, that I was raised with, just makes me want to disown the whole bunch.

OK, back to Shirley. Of course, she was totally condemned by the people I spent most of my time with. She was going to enter a profession where she worked on STAGE (practically a synonym of HELL), wearing skimpy costumes, and kicking her legs high! Oh my! Now, I never really bought into that analysis. In fact, my undergraduate degree is in Speech & Drama. So, my point is that in the 1960s groups like the Rockettes were considered the epitome of everything non-Christian.

Rockettes' Live Christmas

So, here we are almost 50 years later. It is now politically incorrect to refer to anything Christian at Christmas... the source of the Christmas Story, after all. Everything is "Holiday Season." I have no problem with "Season's Greetings." But I plan to have a "Merry Christmas."

And look what highly acclaimed performing group is still doing an annual tribute to the source of the Christmas story? That group, so condemned by my church, the Rockettes.

See The Fragrance After the Rain
I snapped the pictures right off the TV screen

Does This Bird Have a Brain?


bird in apple tree

OK, I've mentioned this bird and/or mate at least twice in the past few weeks. These are terrible pictures, but they do show that I am really seeing what I thought I was seeing. I had to take the telephoto all the way to the end of its extension. Have you located the little fluff-ball in the apple tree? Let's zoom in.

bluebirdIt really is a bluebird, a female I'm pretty sure. The male was with her at first, but he flew away too quickly for me to catch any pictures. I checked the bird maps. The Christmas bird count in our area has recorded one bluebird counted still here that late. It almost looks as if this pair plans to stay.

bluebirdI looked up what they eat in the winter, and sumac or honeysuckle berries, and wild grape, are listed as important food sources. Well, we have those in abundance. But not a lot of the other choices given. And there isn't any nice sheltered cedar grove nearby. The best shelter might be the cemetery ravine or the river flood plain. But the river is a mile away. I think these birds must be staying somewhere closer since I see them so often.


Finally, just one more lousy photo. I love having my little friends nearby, but I hope they haven't made a bad choice. Sadly, as I was reading about their winter habits, I also learned that they seldom live more than 3-4 years.

See My Bluebird of Happiness
See The Happiness of the Bluebird
See Christmas Count and Breeding Bird Survey Maps for the Eastern Bluebird
See Landscaping for Bluebirds

Thursday, November 26, 2009

A Quiet Thanksgiving

thanksgiving dinner

It was a very quiet day here, but good. Outside it was raining- all day! Om and I decided to roast a chicken. We talked about going out to eat, but couldn't really find a local restaurant that was going to be open where we were willing to eat. I'm afraid I've become something of a food snob. I'm too cheap to spend money to eat out if the meal isn't going to be good enough to justify, in my mind, the expense.

So... I'm caught in my own web. That means that to eat what I like, I have to cook! Om helped with the project. We made more of the chocolate zucchini bread. Most of that will go in the freezer for the days ahead. We cooked two gift pumpkins because one was starting to mold. That's waiting in the fridge to be used in muffins or something else in the coming days. I toasted the seeds. Those will probably be a Christmas gift for someone.

Then we stuffed the chickie! This is a recipe that I've had for maybe 35 years, and we do seem to use it every couple of years. The stuffing has lots of veggies and apricots, and raisins and rice. Then the bird is basted with the apricot juice and garnished with the rest of the apricots. We cooked a lonely little acorn squash that was lying around, and made a salad. Oh yes, Om's favorite is cranberry-orange relish, so somewhere in there we made that too.

Well, what can I say? A simple little dinner is a whole lot of work. But it was yummy. As you can see, some red dog had a nice treat too. She very rarely gets to share table food, so she was pretty happy!

thanksgiving dinner

Most of the rest of the day I spent working on another story that I will enter in another writing contest. The results of last month's contest haven't been announced yet.

Speaking of contests... I'll have a little game for you that will start on Nov 30. People seemed to want more notice about the contests, so I'm trying to be better about that.

Hope you all had a great day!

See I Cleaned and Baked, Just For You

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Flaming Morning - Just a Little Late

photo label

I wanted to show you this picture the day that I took it. But I got really busy, and decided to post some of the alphabet. Then... would you believe that I couldn't find it? Duh! I looked on all my memory cards, and decided sadly that I must have deleted it. But there it is! Somehow, I just didn't see it.

You may be wondering what you are seeing. Well, we live one field over from a co-op grain elevator. They had one of their grain dryers turned on and it was pouring steam into the chilly morning sky. Then, the sun appeared behind the elevators, and this was the result!

There's a month to go till the next Kitchenhenge installment. I'm hopeful of getting the December picture this year, and then you'll see just how far south the sun actually wanders!

See Kitchenhenge- Installment 3
See The Power of Nature

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Fighting the Gray - Memories of an Ohio Spring

violet wood sorrel

Today was warm, and I did some more outside work, but talk about gray and dismal! I was looking through some older photos to add to a post on the North Country Trail News blog, and was reminded of how many beautiful wildflowers can be seen in southern Ohio in the spring.

So I've just brought you a few of them in this dreary Thanksgiving week. The first one above is the Violet Wood Sorrel, Oxalis violacea. Common Wood Sorrel has striped petals. I bet you've seen the Yellow Wood Sorrel in your lawn if you live in North America or Europe. Just picture those shamrock like leaves with a small yellow flower, and there's our common weed!

crested iris

Next is a cousin to the Bearded Iris of so many gardens. This is Crested Iris, Iris cristata a dwarf species. The color is just yummy, and it grows about 6 inches tall. It loves to "spill" down banks.

crested iris

Finally, this is the Showy Orchis, Galearis spectabilis. This one you are less likely to have seen. It has been recently moved to the genus Galearis by the folks who do serious taxonomy stuff. As such it's the only member of that genus in the New World. But it's still the same plant! Michigan State University plant maps show it in southern Michigan as well as Ohio where I saw it, and surprisingly, also near Marquette in the Upper Peninsula. Once you see this little gem, you will never forget it. The picture doesn't do it justice at all!

Hope you enjoyed the short visit to Ohio.

See Two Trumpets, Different Tunes, and an Itchy Cow? for other Ohio flowers
See Mini Iris in my garden

A Pixie Hiding in My Grass

pixie cups

Wow, oh wow! These cute little lichen are not new to me, but I sure didn't know that I have them in "my kingdom." But this week I mowed all my paths to get them cleaned up for skiing before the snow arrives. Since some of the routes really don't get hiked, but are better for skiing, they got kinda lost in the grass. Thus, they may have been moved a bit when I mowed. And I did walk the fresh paths. Just one patch of these, about a foot square. The very biggest of the cups is maybe half an inch high. They are just darling!

pixie cups

I didn't really know that they would grow under grass. I've mostly seen them on rocks. The Adirondacks is covered with them. There are quite a few species, all in the genus Cladonia. I think these are Cladonia chlorophaea.

I just like them a lot. The are so adorable!

While I was trying to make certain of the species, I came across another blog that I know some of you will love. Its Duxbury Rambler. Enjoy.

See A Hike with Maggie and Marilyn for lichen on a log
See Likin' the Lichen

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Nature's Alphabet K - O

Just to remind you of the basic "rules" I used for getting these. I couldn't "manufacture" any letters, but I allowed myself to pull branches or grass out of the way to clear a picture foreground. It was ok to move around to get a perspective that might create the letter, and pictures are cropped to focus the letter. I also decided that it was ok to change the orientation of the picture.

the letter K

the letter L

the letter M

the letter N

the letter O

See Nature's Alphabet A-E
See Nature's Alphabet F-J

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Kayaking on November 21 !


My good buddy Ellen called me yesterday afternoon. See, another good thing from yesterday, but I was still smarting from the not so good part. I'm losing my best web site client. I knew it was coming, but I had just received the official notice. OK, enough of that, but I didn't want you to wonder if it was something worse. So, Ellen called and said, "Come, tomorrow, and we'll kayak. I'll fix breakfast."

Did she ever! We had waffles with blueberry syrup, and an omelet. I took a persimmon to share. The day had started cold and foggy, but by the time we ate and she looked at some pix from my summer hikes, the sun had burned off most of the fog.

handing out paddles

"Have a paddle!" We headed down her road for the access to Bass Lake and her kayaks.

kayaker with flying swans

As we paddled across the lake a huge flock of trumpeter swans stretched nearly across the neck of the lake. They took to the skies as we approached and the sound was amazing. It was like hundreds of huge canvas tarps flapping in the wind.
beach grass

After paddling through the outlet we reached Lake Michigan, and hiked up the beach for a ways, just to use different muscles.

Lake Michigan at Bass Lake Outlet

The sun was actually warm. Who would believe that one could walk the Lake Michigan beach on November 21 in sandals, with feet in the water and not freeze? We were wearing sweatshirts and wind pants, but seriously, it was warm! You can see that the distance was still hazy, but it was a lovely day. The final picture is the best... one of those lucky shots- and it's much better if you click to enlarge it. This is Ellen in the outlet creek.
kayaker in sun

And just so you can have a laugh... I managed to sit down in the water, not once but twice! (Good thing it was warm!) And I didn't get the camera wet, so we can all laugh.

Even better, Ellen and I have decided to overcome the way that life seems to get in the way of adventures. We are going to do something on the first Friday of every month over the winter. Stay tuned!

See I Never Would Have Seen These If..."for a picture of a mute swan
See On the Beach - Part 1 for Lake Michigan a week ago, at a different location
See Beginning the Border Route for a song with a verse about canoeing

Friday, November 20, 2009

Fire Grilled Burgers

hamburgers on a grill over an open fire

Today was not a great day. 'Nuff said. But I had that hamburger in the fridge, and although it was gray and damp outside, it wasn't actually raining. So, I told you I was going to use some of my nice new woodpile and have a little fire.

They were yummy! Enough for tomorrow too.

See A Day On the Trail - Base Camping

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Just Another Sunset



I'm off to slumberland. Here is today's sunset. You know, this view lasted for just a few minutes, but that one moment in a day of oil changes, shopping, and tasks nibbling at my ankles with little piranha teeth in a sea of "not enough time," was enough to keep me smiling. Enjoy.

OK, I confess, I brushed out the stupid electric wires

See The Power of Nature for a sunrise
See My Low-Budget Black Taco Ad for another sunset

Same Award - Two Directions

photo label

Well, I apologize for for not getting a post up last night. Truth is, I had a chance to make $50, and I really had to take it! So I was up all night, slept from 7:30 till 12:30. Then did errands, talked to my best friend on the phone, did a few odds and ends, walked Maggie, ate, watched Jeopardy (ok... now you know my weakness) and here we are.

So, I've been simultaneously awarded the "Best Blog Award," by Vanilla Seven, and Chuck at Secondary Roads. I can't say that I think I've got the "best blog," but I do appreciate that some folks think its good.!

I'm supposed to pass this on to 15 other blogs. Well, between the two blogs that gave me the award, most of my favs have been covered. Hmmm. I'm falling asleep! I'll post a few now and try to get some more later.

English Wilderness has been one of my favorites for a long time, and I don't think I've bestowed an award on John yet. Great nature pix.
Dennis the Vizsla is a new friend of Maggie the (mostly) Vizsla. He'll make you laugh!
BSC Design has some great use of color and shape in photos. Lots more fashion interest than usually interests me, but you'll like the artistic style.
Mature Not Senile is the personal blog of Jude with lots of entries to identify with.
Sugar the Golden Retriever because I'm a sucker for dogs that look like Chips, and the yummy apple cinnamon chips recipe.
As the Crackerhead Crumbles because FishHawk always finds the coolest blogs to share.
Oblog for interesting commentary from Norway.

I have one nice pic for a separate post then I think it's off to bed for me!

See One Lovely Blog Award
See Tommy Toe

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Maggie's Tips - Wear Orange

Maggie the dog

Hi there! I haven't had a chance to tell you what's on my mind very often. Today I'm thinking that I should tell you about my vest. Mom says it's orange, but since I can't see colors, I have to take her word for it. But every year in the fall, she makes me wear this thing when we go outside. And she wears a hat, which she doesn't wear any other time of year.

Maggie the dog

She says this is so that all the neighbors who are making disturbing noises in the woods can see me. I don't know why they can't smell me. I can smell them. I can smell that the animals are moving around a lot more than usual. Can you see the other people wearing orange in this picture?

Maggie the dog

Here they are. Did you find them? They are across the railroad tracks. Mom says they are very careful; good neighbors. But she's found other people nearby who aren't so careful. So, here's my tip- do like my mom says... WEAR ORANGE at this time of year.

P.S. I got to chase a cat! I don't know where it lives, but I chased it right out of my field!

See Arf! It's My Turn
See Maggie, the (Not So) Great Coyote Hunter

On the Beach - Part 2

Here are the other five pictures that I selected from my walk on the Lake Michigan Beach early yesterday afternoon.

reflection of pilings

I think this is one of my favorites, even of the 10. I took a lot of pictures of the waves running along these eroded pilings. The water coming in was interesting as it broke in foam along the wood. The water running out was interesting as it swept back, sucking the water from the sand. But then I realized that there was just one moment after the wave ran out when the sand still had a film of water and showed a reflection. Then the sand absorbed the final moisture and the magic moment was gone. It took several tries, but I "caught" it.

lone gull

This is just a lone seagull. It's not even really focused very well- I had the telephoto out too far to result in a crisp picture. But when I looked at it later it seemed to capture the lonely feeling of the beach on this sunny but chilly day, with moderate waves.

Lake Michigan

When I turned around and faced south, instead of north, there was the sun on the water. Yet, I think that even though this picture shows more sun than the other "scenery" picture from yesterday that it actually looks much colder.

lines in sand

I'm always fascinated by these lines in the sand. They are just ridges that mark the extent of the reach of previous waves. Of course, any that are covered by subsequent waves are washed away, so the patterns of the lines change every few seconds. I seem to come home with a collection of pictures like this from any beach/camera opportunity.

leaf on beach in sun glare

Finally, there is this one. I took the picture and thought to myself that it was probably just going to be deleted after I got home. I was trying to catch a picture of a leaf being caught and carried off by a wave. But when I looked at it (and this one really needs to be viewed larger), it turned out to be such a complex mixture of textures and shades of gray that I think it is one of my favorites!

I hope you have enjoyed this walk on the beach! Chuck, over at Secondary Roads, liked yesterday's picture of the single oak leaf. In fact, he has written a poem based on how it made him feel. You can read it at Oak Leaf on the Sand. Thanks, Chuck- I like the poem!

See On the Beach - Part 1
See A Game of Tag for a picture of the Ludington Lighthouse. These pictures were taken about 2 miles north of there.