Entries to Win Afghan

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Thursday, October 31, 2019

Northlandz Model Train

Today and for the next few days, I'm going back to a place I visited in March, but I never had a chance to show you pictures. I was there on the same trip as the Philadelphia Flower Show, and this stop got lost in the shuffle. That's saying something, because this place is overwhelming on its own merits. This is the largest model train layout in the world. It has 8 miles of track, and even a self-guided tour takes 2 to 3 hours. It's in Flemington, New Jersey and the name is Northlandz. This is HO scale, and it's all indoors.

Northlandz Model Railroad

You walk from room to room and look down or out on valleys, fields, mountains, etc. There are about 130 train loops. I asked how many were running the day we were there and there were about 90 making the rounds that day. Some parts of the layout are more finished than others, but no matter, it's all very impressive.

I'll start with some general pictures taken with the goal of blocking out things that remind you it's a model. Every layout needs a city or village. Of course Northlandz has room for many.

Northlandz Model Railroad

A big layout gives you room for industrial complexes that look more real than what an ordinary amount of space can provide.

Northlandz Model Railroad

For most people, if they decided to collect all these carnival/circus structures, that would be the extent of what they could do. Here, it's just tucked into one little corner. Kind of like the real world.

Northlandz Model Railroad

On the other hand, a lot of the spaces at Northlandz include impossible cliffs and steep-sided valleys. But that adds to the fun, and the challenge of getting the trains up and down.

Northlandz Model Railroad

The vast scale means that there is room to detail a small island in the middle of a huge river with its own population and buildings.

Northlandz Model Railroad

Tomorrow, I'll show some closeups. A lot of my pictures are crummy. Not entirely sure why- well, most had to be taken through plexiglas, but I have some good ones.

In other news: I wrote in the morning. Then I did a bunch of errands in the afternoon and continued to work on formatting the book. Sent one more sample to the printer for approval. If it comes back as acceptable, then I have to get seriously busy with editing and formatting.

See My Layout
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Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Halloween - Part 3

Today I bring you the fearsome Bold Jumping Spider, Phidippus audax. It's fearsome only if you are s mite or some other very small bug. They can bite, but don't bother humans unless injured or otherwise terrorized. I think this is a female, but I'm open to correction. She was kind enough to pose on a piece of purple plastic for the holiday.

There are over 6000 species (60 in this one genus) of jumping spiders, so named because they can jump 10-50 times their body length. They make silk but don't create webs. They hunt by, um... jumping on their prey. 13% of all spiders are jumpers.

bold jumping spider

They actually have rather endearing faces with large middle eyes and colorful mouthparts. But I don't think I'd be able to get a picture of any of that without killing the spider. Since she's unlikely to bother me, I won't bother her.

How they jump is rather interesting. Rather than having muscular legs like a grasshopper, they can increase the blood pressure in their hind legs and then suddenly release it propelling themselves forward. When they do so, they spin a silk dragline so they can always return to where they jumped from!

Because of their large eyes, they can see better than many spiders.

Sometimes their spots are orange.

In other news: I wrote in the morning, and formatted in the afternoon. My brain is fried, but I think I have made a choice of software for the formatting. Right now I'm happiest with Word Perfect. Keep in mind that I'm not using the latest versions of either Word or WP. But I believe I've got a clean PDF of chapter 1. When I get one more added I'll get approval from the printer before I go any farther.

See Another Halloween-ish Horror
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Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Bread Day Experiment

This was yesterday, but I saved the picture for today. Actually now I can report that this bread keeps its wonderful soft texture really well.

This is a complete hoot. The recipe book had this bread. 3 cups flour, 1 pack yeast, 1 1/2 cups soda pop (at room temp). I looked up on line to see if anyone ever tried this. The answer is yes, but with more ingredients. The only real review I found was for one with more stuff, and made with ginger ale, and they said it baked up nice and light but smelled and tasted like wet dog. Hmmm.

But I had to try it. I had a couple of bottles of stale pop around, so... What I couldn't believe was that diet pop would have enough sugar for the yeast to be happy, so I threw in 2 T sugar as well. I made one loaf as an experiment. This is the result.

soda pop bread

It's very good. Doesn't exactly taste like cola, but it doesn't exactly taste like white bread either. Definitely doesn't taste like wet dog. I'll do this again for sure. It's a great way to use up stale pop.

In other news: I wrote in the morning, and formatted in the afternoon. Well, trying to anyway. Word doesn't do one thing I want and Word Perfect doesn't do another thing I want. But I want them both. Will keep struggling till I work out a solution. When I formatted North Country Cache it was with Word Perfect, but it was a different version. Then I had bell choir practice and went grocery shopping.

See Bread Day Stupor
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Monday, October 28, 2019

Fall's Final Fling?

It wasn't raining, and it wasn't even bitterly cold, just gloomy. I decided to take a walk and picture some of the places I show fairly regularly. This fall hasn't had spectacular colors, and what's left will start coming down in the rain predicted for later this week.

Nevertheless, my "usual" spots aren't too shabby. Here's part of the line of trees along the edge of the cemetery.

autumn color

The Cemetery Creek is always an old friend. I haven't been walking out back very much. Long story, not a quality one. Maybe I'll tell you another day.

autumn color

It rained last night, and that makes the tree trunks dark, so they contrast nicely with the bright maple leaves in the cemetery proper.

autumn color in a cemetery

A mile away, around the corner, is a small wetland. You've seen a number of pictures taken there at various angles. This is just a long shot of one end. Sometimes nice fall pictures are as much about texture as color.

autumn color

Another tree line in the distance with an asparagus field in the middle ground.

autumn color

And now we've reached my photographic destination, the tunnel of trees on Conrad Road. I figured it would still look pretty good, and I think I was right.

Conrad Road tunnel of trees

About a 4 mile walk.

In other news: I wrote in the morning, baked bread (maybe you'll see that tomorrow), and worked on photo sorting a little.

See Conrad Road Tunnel of Trees
See The Creek in Winter
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Sunday, October 27, 2019

A Tiny Puppy Fix

One other bright spot from yesterday. One shopper was carrying a dog so small I thought it was a stuffed toy at first. He's a tiny Jack Russell Terrier named Oliver. Yes, I got to hold him. He's only 7 weeks old, and in addition to being tiny he was incredibly calm. In fact, I'm not sure I've ever seen that calm of a puppy.

Jack Russell puppy

He wasn't much bigger than the toy I have of Wishbone, the TV star Jack Russell. When you squeeze the stuffed one's chest he says, "Be like me. Read a good book." Sometimes I squeeze him just for the smile. Maybe some day you'll see my small collection of little stuffies.

In other news: I did a load of laundry and a little outside work today. Making one more batch of muffins too. Omer really likes them.

See Way Overdue for a Puppy Fix
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Saturday, October 26, 2019

Boardman River Trail

After the event today, I went for a little hike along the Boardman River in Traverse City.

Boardman River

This is in an Educational Nature Reserve. I'm not going to show you some of the pictures of the river. They have recently removed two small dams to let the water run freely, but the former bottoms of the ponds that were drained aren't all that scenic at the present time, with quite a lot of geofabric erosion barriers.

There were a couple of kayakers. The water is quite swift.

Boardman River

I liked the fuzzy white seed silk on this grass in front of the brown oak tree.

autumn color

The staghorn sumac berries were brilliant.

staghorn sumac

Beech leaves are rich.

autumn beech leaves

About peak color there.

autumn color

I hiked out from the Lone Pine Trailhead, and did all the trails you can access from there. A little over 3 miles.

Boardman River

In other news: I did OK at the event today, not great. Good event, lots of traffic. Who knows? And I feel fine, which I'm thinking you can guess since I went for a hike.

Boardman River Trail from the Lone Pine Trailhead, Keystone Rd, Traverse City, Michigan. 3+ miles

See Valley of the Giants
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Friday, October 25, 2019

Perry Mason Day

I didn't do a thing all day except watch old Perry Mason TV shows and rest up. I still have a pretty good headache, but my throat isn't sore and my nose has pretty much stopped running. I have to be up early tomorrow to go to Traverse City for an all-day vendor event, so I wanted to be sure I will be as well as possible. Have a bit more energy, so I think tomorrow will be fine.

Perry Mason

Perry Mason

You can blame a lot of my love for mysteries on Perry Mason. I own all the TV shows on DVD, and every single one of the books.

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Thursday, October 24, 2019

Little Green Visitor

I am truly sorry I didn't get any pictures of this that are in focus. The whole insect is about 1/2 inch long. It's a lacewing, considered a beneficial insect because the larvae eat all kinds of aphids, mites, and other insect eggs. There may be up to 3000 species in the Chrysopidae family. I wouldn't begin to guess which one this is. The thing I'm really sorry you can't is is why they get their name of lacewing. The wings have network of veins that is very pretty.

green lacewing

In other news: I'm pretty much down with a nasty cold. Wrote a tiny bit in the morning and managed to format one chapter in the afternoon. Watched a movie and drank tea. Hopefully, my nose will stop running tomorrow.

See Awesome Crane Fly
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Wednesday, October 23, 2019

That Tree Again

It's just a picture of that hybrid cherry tree across the tracks. But I love it. I know... every time I show a picture of it in fall, it looks just the same. Too bad. I still love it. And it's not this pretty every year.

hybrid cherry tree in autumn

In other news: I wrote in the morning, and worked on formatting, editing, and other book stuff some in the afternoon. Got the go-ahead from the printer that I'm formatting correctly for them. Hooray! Now I can work on that a bit, as I get things edited. I may have a little cold. A tiny sore throat, but I don't think it's anything major.

See Finally some color
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Tuesday, October 22, 2019

How Gauche

In French, left is gauche, and right is droit. Thus, we get the words for clumsy or crude and adroit for skilled or dexterous. Being left-handed was historically a sign of something amiss. The word sinister also comes from Latin for "on the left side" and considered to be unlucky.

Today, it was just funny.

At handbell practice, Lew was pulling spare gloves (worn to protect the bells from scratches) from the pockets in the table covers. He kept finding left hand ones.

Interesting. Is there something about the way most of us play the bells that makes the right glove wear out sooner? Since most people are right handed, do we ring the bells harder with that hand and cause more stress on the gloves?

left hand gloves

Then I really had to laugh when the director brought out a box of other pairs of gloves, and there was a whole bag, labeled even, of left hand gloves with no mates! Um... if the right ones mostly wear out, there's not much point in keeping all the left ones, eh?

left hand gloves

In other news: I worked on the book in the morning, then got ready for writers' group, had bell practice and writers' group. Busy day.

See String Too Short to Be Saved
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Monday, October 21, 2019

Yummy Rainy Day Project

The autumn olive berries have been very plump and moist this year. I decided to do something with a few, other than just eat them. I've made juice before, but it's not my favorite. Of course, this doesn't make a tiny dent in the number of berries available.

Anyway, I made orange poppy seed muffins, and threw in some autumn olive berries. Oh yeah, they are good. Om thought the fruit was cranberry.

orange poppy seed muffins with autumn olive berries

I tweaked the recipe a bit so it has fewer calories. I could probably cut the oil a little more and add more yogurt. Click this picture to see the recipe.

orange poppy seed muffins with autumn olive berries

In other news: I worked on the book in the morning and made these in the afternoon. It seems like I should have done something more, but I didn't. Ho hum. Oh yeah, I cleaned the kitchen.

See Autumn Olive, Beautiful and Terrible
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