Entries to Win Afghan

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Saturday, October 31, 2020


  This is the best I can do for Halloween. I missed a nice spooky shot of a bare tree with the moon the other night. I haven't been able to recreate it because it's too cloudy here.

At least the sky cooperated and provided the correct color palette. Halloween sunset

I've been working on Dead Mule Swamp Singer- actually wrote some words. And messing around with some other book promo stuff. Kinda laid back. Tomorrow the weather is supposed to be nasty, and then get better. There is one more major house project in my future, thanks to that forecast. Stay tuned. I'm resting up!

See Halloweens Past and Present

Friday, October 30, 2020

And He Keeps on Ticking!

  Long day. We just got home. But everything went well with Josh's procedure. Praise the Lord for one more good report for our miracle boy. It took a little longer than expected and then they made him lie still in recovery extra long. But he's "all fixed." This procedure was to cauterize an extra bundle of nerves in his heart that competed with the bundle of nerves that is supposed to control the heartbeat. It's amazing what they can do now, with very little invasion. This is all done by going in through a vein from the groin. Actually they used both sides, but it's still almost "no big deal," these days. He needs to be calm for a few days, but then he shouldn't have this irregular heartbeat problem any longer. man in hopital gown walking This was done a Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids. I was very impressed with the set-up, the communication, and even the food at the hospital. We were given a prep/recovery room that was ours alone for the entire day. No sharing of public spaces. We were allowed to have food in there, and they did everything except the actual procedure in the OR right in that one space.

There is no other news. This was all day. I could have taken my computer if I'd known there was a space I could have worked without distractions, but I took a book to read, so that was OK, too.

See some Joshua history

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Seeds- Queen Anne's Lace

  I've decided to pay more attention to seeds. All this means to you is that there will be an occasional blog post with pictures of seeds.

Today, we are doing the humble Daucus carota, Wild Carrot, or Queen Anne's Lace. Its familiar lacy white flowers can cheer almost any roadside. This picture is from 2018, but it will remind you, if you've forgotten what this is. Queen Anne's Lace

When the flower heads begin to dry, they often curl up like this, resulting in another common name of Bird's Nest. This picture is from 2017. I've seen some truly beautiful photos of the plant at this stage. Queen Anne's Lace going to seed

They don't always curl up. Some stay almost flat. This one seems to have struck a happy medium, remaining in an open cone. Queen Anne's Lace seedhead

If you look closer, you can begin to see the crowded seed pods, each with a whole lot of spikey legs. Queen Anne's Lace seeds

I teased a few out. I don't have a good surface on which to take closeup pictures yet. I'll have to figure out what a good choice would be. Do they look like a millipede? Maybe they are like a sunflower seed with spikes? They look very much like the nasty things in Alien that attached to people's faces. But these are quite small. One thing I need to do is include a ruler in the picture for scale. Queen Anne's Lace seeds

I've never had much luck taking pictures through my microscope, but today I tried doing that with the cell phone. It's not ideal, but it actually did work. Not sharp focus, but better than nothing. I tried to tease one of these open, but all I got was a mess. Even so, this is only the seed pod. When it's fully ripe, there will be a seed inside. Maybe after it dries even more, I can get one opened up without destroying it. Queen Anne's Lace seeds

Despite all the litte projections, these don't grab your socks or sweaters as tightly as some seedpods do, and they are mostly spread when the seedheads break off the plants and are rolled by the wind like little tumbleweeds.

In other news: I walked to the post office, and worked on my notes for Dead Mule Swamp Singer.

See Seed Pods of Interest

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Exterior Completed!

  WooHoo! Give me a pat on the back. The exterior of the well pit cover is done. Here are the corner trim pieces with primer on them. primed trim pieces

Then they were painted brown and nailed over the corners. well pit cover corners

I did the last of the sealing of the rolled roofing, so I can take off the concrete blocks. It's on its own now to lay down, seal itself, and not get torn up by wind. well pit cover

The weather was decent for the job- mid 40s and a bit of sun. The clouds did an attractive little dance across the northern sky. clouds

Still that interior concrete work to finish, and an awful lot of cleaning up of junk around the perimeter, but a structure, after 47 or 48 years (I can't remember exactly which year the first shed burned) is replaced.

In other news: I worked on notes for Dead Mule Swamp Singer. But I confess to adding some notes to the file for the next kids' book too. It just keeps coming to me, so I better write it down!

See Almost Exterior

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Gold by Day and Night

  The day was filled with errands and then bell choir practice. The sun came out for a while, making the last of the golden leaves brilliant. This is the large white birch by the post office. The link below takes you back to a blog post about that tree from 2009. The images had disappeared, and I wasn't sure I could find them again. But, they were taken with the first camera that had an SD card. I've managed to keep those pretty organized, so I found them and fixed the post! golden white birdh trees And the day ended with a golden sunset. golden sky through trees I slept for 11 hours last night. That cured being unable to wake up! Worked on a lot of small pieces of bigger projects today. I need to have more days like today.

See The Blindness of Familiarity

Monday, October 26, 2020

Beauty in the Rain

  More liquid from the sky today. The autumn splendor is winding down, but there were still some lovely places to see, even on a quick trip to Ludington. I like how each oak leaf is rimmed with darker maroon oak leaves in autumn

And light coming through some gaps in the clouds made the golds really pop. The evergreen background helps too! oranged and gold autumn trees

I was in Ludington to take our Joshua for a COVID test. Not that anyone thinks he has it, but he is having a heart procedure done in Grand Rapids on Friday. It should be fairly routine, but it is his heart, and he will be under anesthesia, so any of you who pray, we would welcome your remembering him. I will be taking him. He is only allowed one person because of the virus. He comes home the same day.

In other news: I felt like you-know-what all day because I was awake all night. I suddenly started getting the full plot for Dead Mule Swamp Druggist at about 11 p.m. last night. When stuff like this happens, it's best to just roll with it and sit up and write it all down, which I did. All the errands I hoped to do today got rolled over until tomorrow.

See Golden and Wet

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Color and Geometry

  Today was so low key I don't even have anything to share from the book. It's discussing algae now, basic stuff.

So I'll show you some pretties I've been saving. You know I love primary colors and patterns, right? Here are two beauties from this summer. First the closeups, and then I'll show you what they are. primary color pattern primary color pattern

And here is what they are. The first is a friend's lawn swing. The second is an underpass on the Battle Creek Linear Pathway. photo label photo label

Do you have a preference? I think maybe I like the bench, just because it's so unexpected. However, I love the way the design of the street art draws you to follow it.

In other news: I did a load of laundry and picked up things a tiny bit. Not very productive, eh?

See Primary Colors in My Kitchen

Saturday, October 24, 2020


  I had to get about 3/4 of the way through the Forensic Botany book before I got to new-to-me material. The science of palynology is the study of pollen and spores. It can also include other microscopic plant parts.

So, botanically, I know the difference between pollen and spores. But would I know the difference if I saw them under a microscope? I wasn't sure, so I went hunting for pictures. Under a light microscope you can go up to about 1000x on a really good one. This is one kind of pollen. pollen at 1000x

Here are several kinds of pollen under a Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM). This is much more interesting, but not everyone has a spare SEM in their back bedroom. I don't even have that good of a light microscope. I can go up to 400x. pollen under SEM

Pollen has a super-tough outer shell, and an inner wall which contains two cells- the male gamete (a sperm cell- yes like a tiny polliwog just like in animals), and another cell that grows into a tube. When the pollen comes to rest on the female stigma of a plant the tube grows and the sperm swims down it to fertilize the egg.

Spores, on the other hand, are quite different. Here are some spores under a light microscope, but they don't really look too much different from a pollen- not all pollen is round. This could be tough. It's hard to get a high enough resolution. And both spores and pollen tend to be dessicated when you collect them in the wild, so they have to be washed in alcohol to remove a natural waxy coating, and then treated to make them plump up like a raisin. spores at 1000x

Under the SEM, you can tell more about the shapes of the spores. There are only a couple of basic shapes. The upper picture is a kind of spore that has been packed side by side with its neighbors, giving it a folded, bean-like shape. The lower picture shows a kind that were packed together tetrahedronally (like a pyramid). You can see that they retain the shape of those close quarters. spores under SEM

Spores don't behave much like pollen, except that they both result in a new generation of plant. A spore will grow into a little triangular leaf when it is given the right temperature and moisture. This is called a prothallus and it's actually more of an adult plant than the thing we call a fern, because it has both male and female parts like trees and flowers and grasses do.

The surface of the prothallus (pre-leaf, literally) will grow tiny root hairs, and two kinds of structures, each with half of the chromosomes (analogous to sperm and eggs). The sperm (sometimes cute little curliqueus) then swim from the antheridia to the archegonia, and fertilize the egg. Then it grows into what we recognize as a fern.

Would I know enough to recognize kinds of pollen or kinds of spores out of the context of the parent plant? Absolutely not. But there are whole image libraries dedicated to providing this information. A lot of times, the exact species cannot be determined with visual comparison anyway, but a family or genus might be identified. Actually, sometimes even plant DNA testing can not get closer than a genus. At least at the current state of the technology.

So, the quality in today is that I learned a whole lot.

In other news: I did a bunch of accounting stuff.

See My Crack (erjack/pot) Brain

Friday, October 23, 2020

Golden and Wet

  Not much to say about today. It rained all day. I read all day. OK, I talked myself into doing about two tiny things I should do. But that's it. I ate too much. But the mulberry tree is pretty! golden mulberry tree
See Pink Blue and Red

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Dreary Day Discovery

  As I predicted, all that happened today was reading my new books and playing my games. It rained and was dark and dreary outside.

I learned something totally awesome! Actually, I knew the fact itself, but what I did not previously grasp was the timeline of the event. You probably know that the entire Great Lakes basin was once a single glacial lake. That was known as Lake Algonquin, and it basically looked like a larger Lakes Superior, Huron and Michigan with the Upper Peninsula completely under water. This was 10000-7000 years ago.

As the glacier retreated, the water lowered. The entire lake drained north to what we now call Hudson Bay.

The next step, after the glacier was gone, was that those three lakes were essentially as they are now, but the water was higher. There was no St. Mary's River, and no Straits of Mackinac- at least as we think of them. The three lakes were all at the same water level. This is known as Nipissing Great Lakes. This all makes sense, right? However, at that time the lake drained eastward from Georgian Bay, instead of what we now think of as normal- down the St. Clair River into Lake Erie. Notice how wide the connection between the basins is and that there is a channel across the tip of the Lower Peninsula. nipissing great lakes

But what I did not know was that the time frame for this was about 7500-3500 years ago. That means these lakes were all one when the mysterious prehistoric copper mines in the UP were in use. Moving the copper on rafts or in boats would have been a lot easier than it is now. No rapids to navigate. A shorter portage to the Mississippi watershed in the area that is now Chicage. It makes the theory of intercontinental mining more believable.

Sometimes it's hard to imagine geologic change happening that people can remember, because we think of it as being "old" and "slow." But sometimes it can be current and fast. The 1812 New Madrid earthquake along the lower Mississippi River caused the river to flow backward, changed its course in places, and was the largest quake ever recorded in the continental US at 7.6 to 8.0 on the Richter Scale. The only reason there was not much memorable devastation is because very few people lived in that region at the time.

Don't get so excited that you can't sleep. You are probably rolling your eyes. But that's exactly what happened to me last night. There were so many new and interesting things to think about in the book about Atlantis that I could not get to sleep. And it took me a long time to read it because we have the internet now! Every time something I didn't know anything about was discussed I had to go find pictures or videos that explained more.

In other news: hmmm. I did cook a real dinner, which is a little unusual. chicken dinner

See My Crack (erjack/pot) Brain

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

My Crack [erjack/pot (insert one)] Brain

  I've recently been given two books by friends. I will be really surprised if both of them do not end up on my top ten list for the year. Needless to say, not much except reading is happening.

The first was a gift from Robert- The Lost Empire of Atlantis. It is everything I love in the type of book I call "speculative history." Menzies follows clues from all over the world to create a "new" view of life in the Bronze Age at about 1500 BC. I haven't quite finished it, but it's great. People who write books like this are often looked down on as crackpots by academia because they dare to propose things that don't fit the accepted theories. I like to stretch my brain with the possibilities. photo of two books

The second one is a surprise gift from Chuck and Sylvia- Forensic Botany. They knew I wanted it, and they got it for me! I haven't read more than the introduction yet, but I'm sure I'm going to love every page.

I suspect not much is going to happen except reading tomorrow, either.

In other news: Omer got home from a long road trip. I haven't wanted to publicly announce that the house was unattended when we were both away, but now he's home. He's recouperating and vegging, and I'm reading. Works for us.

See I've Got Mail

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Eight Rottweilers Ringing

  Someone brought this picture to bell choir practice this afternoon, and it's definitely the best laugh of the day!
rottweilers ringing handbells

We are already practicing Christmas music. Actually, it feels very uplifting. Something cheerful in 2020 is welcome.

In other news: this was the final day of my online class with two sessions. I did some stuff around the house and went to bell practice and the store. I was hoping to get more done, but it didn't happen. Part of the reason is that I'm reading a really good book.

See Swingin' Low

Monday, October 19, 2020

Almost Exterior

  I sure learned some things today. The biggest one is that I wish I hadn't done this roof with rolled roofing. It was cheaper than regular shingles by far. So that is good. But I don't think it's going to last as long because I don't think I put it on quite right. And I think the wind could do a lot of damage if it gets hold of an edge.

And if I'd realized that one roll would do the whole thing, I'd have gotten gray instead of white. I got white only to match the old pieces we still had. But I ended up not using them anyway.

I ran out of sealant, so I'll need one more trip to the store. That's why the blocks are back on top. I needed to weight down the places that need sealing yet on the top strip. I also have to get a couple of 1x2s for the corner trim. I'll do this tomorrow since I have to go to town anyway.

I am kind of pleased with my ingenuity for a flap to cover the hinge and the edge of the hatch. When one of the conveyor belts at the newspaper (where I used to work) had split so badly that they actually replaced it, I asked for the old belt. Those pieces of rubberized fabric are tough, flexible and waterproof. I think they are going to do the trick just fine. The hatch works great, and it's manageable by someone my size. well pit cover

We need a warm day for those edges to soften enough to fold down a bit.

Working backwards, here's the picture of the rest of the drip edge in place. well pit cover

However, don't forget that I still have cement work to do inside. For sure, I have to finish blocking off the hole where the woodchuck got in. I think this is the never-ending project.

In other news: I did the next to the last day of the class I'm taking. That and this project is all. I'm having a tired day, but I need to recover because tomorrow is going to be busy.

See Still Not Quite

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Swingin' Low

  Today, for the first time since February, we were able to play handbells in the church service. What fun! It was a piece I especially like, too. You can't tell (because you can't see me in the back row), but I'm the one doing the occasional wood block beats. It's a medley of Swing Low Sweet Chariot and Deep River.

The rest of the service was neat too, in that it was the day the church burned the mortgage on their "new" building, built in 2008. See link for a neat story about the old building. And the old building is now the Ludington Area Center for the Arts where I've participated in quite a few events.

I actually acted on what Sundays are supposed to be- a day of rest. I created this video and another, and chilled and did some word puzzles. Quite nice.

See Three Gifts

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Kisses from Sophie

  I was thinking of titling this Sales, Sue, and Sophie. But we forgot to take a picture of Sue, and who cares about seeing another vendor picture.
woman holding a dachshund

Sue stopped by the vendor event so we got to chat a little bit. When I told her to be sure to pet Sophie for me, Sue said, "She's in the car." Well, I couldn't pass that up, and the event wasn't all that busy right then. And Sopie's sister, Anabelle, was there too. Usually Anabelle can take me or leave me, but today I got quite a few kisses from her as well. But Sophie, for reasons only a doggie brain can fathom, really loves me (I probably smell good to her). I'm still smiling from all the Sophie kisses today.
dschshund licking a face

The vendor event went really well. It was a small one, so I didn't have huge expectations, but I was pleasantly surprised. This is a good thing! I'm vegetating this evening. Handbells tomorrow!

See A Hike with Sophie

Friday, October 16, 2020

Baking Day

  The baked goods I made to sell last weekend spawned some special orders for this weekend. I'm not going to start randomly vending foods, but pre-orders are safe because they are already sold. So today, I made banana bread, zuchinni bread, and some apple cinnamon scones. I kept out just enough dough to cook a small one for myself because this was an experiment. No problem. They are definitely yummy. quick breads scones

The other news is that I did not get to sleep last night until 6:30 this morning. Who knows why. So I worked on a quiet project that's been on my list for a long time. That's better than doing something I HAVE to do because it's more relaxing. Finally got to sleep just as the sky was turning gray. Woke up at 10. Then I had to do my class work for the day. Then I baked. That is all. Tomorrow is the vendor event in Baldwin.
See Ready for Tomorrow