Entries to Win Afghan

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Thursday, September 30, 2021

A Little Treat

  In keeping with my resolution to pile drive through my TO DO list, I'm not getting out and finding fun things to picture. So you'll have to settle for a little treat. It was definitely a quality addition to my day. I can't remember when I last had French toast. In fact, I've apparently NEVER put any on the blog. Yummers! french toast

In other news: It's all other news. I edited, I turned in my NCT volunteer hours for the past year, I got the October sticker hikes for Spirit of the Woods set up, made some phone callls (yuck), and I worked on the trailer. Made some progress, but not ready to show you yet. Up to 63 items on my Big List. I have crossed off 15. TO DO- 48 things, 61 days.

See Treats from Yesterday and Today

Wednesday, September 29, 2021


  Here's one of my biggest pet peeves. A fork in the trail. But which way to turn? Yes, it's been blazed. I put in a yellow arrow because it's hard to spot the blaze in the picture at this size. It's there. But... it's in the middle of the fork. So what the heck does that mean? Go right? Go left? One will get me where I want to go and one won't. The only solution is to try one way and see if other blazes appear. If not, you turn around and go back. fork in the road

I end up feeling like this until I find another blaze. disgruntled tree

I have to make a choice for the next year of my life. In truth, it's already been made, but I'm spending a lot of time hoping it's the right choice. I don't feel any strong heavenly guidance on this one.

I like to think that I've had a pretty good track record at making moral choices over the course of my life.

However, when it comes to making choices between seemingly equally good options... not so much. I just want to do everything. And in a lot of cases, I've tried to do just that. I've usually continued to bumble along doing a little bit of anything that interests me and completing very few things.

Now, I have two very clear choices for the next year. HIKE or Be AN AUTHOR. I can't do both. I can't turn around and go back. Well, I suppose I could quit the hike once I've started, but aside from injury or some other serious reason, I probably won't. I think the "worst case" is that I might have to go slower.

Someone asked me yesterday if I was getting excited about the North Country Trail hike, which is to begin in 62 days. I casually answered, "Oh, yes." But the truth is that I was excited when I started planning this. Now, I just have my head down and am trying to pile drive my way through the list of things that have to happen before I can leave for a year.

Hike? hiker

Be an author? (Which is so much more than just writing words.) author event

If I don't do this hike this year, I think it might be too late to do it later. I'm pretty tough, but this trail is long, long, long. I need to do it now.

If I don't continue to work at this author thing, I'm going to lose a lot of the momentum I think I've built up with selling books.

But, I have chosen. I am wrapping up the author part of my life for a temporary hiatus. My goal is to get minor edits done to all the Anastasia Raven books, and the new cover designs uploaded for printing. And I'll be doing one more vendor event on November 6, at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Ludington for their Christmas Expo. Other than that... it's hike prep all the way, baby!

In other news: Today I wrote a news column, did laundry, worked on those book edits and uploads. Cathy took me to the store with her vehicle to get what I hope is the last load of 4x8 foot sheets of things from the lumber company. Still 60 items on my Big List. I have crossed off 14. TO DO- 46 things, 62 days. (But there are a couple more things I need to add to the list)

See It Doesn't Have to Be Epic

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Zig-Zag Goldenrod

  Here's another species of goldenrod I hadn't seen before the recent trip to NY, although it does supposedly grow around here. This is Zig-Zag Goldenrod. I kid you not. Zig-Zag Goldenrod

The leaves are quite different from most golderods- wide and strongly toothed. The flowers are in sparse clusters. Not fully open in these pictures, but you can tell there aren't going to be tons of them. This specimen isn't strongly zig-zaged, except in a couple of places. Zig-Zag Goldenrod

The name? Solidage flexicaula, easy to remember- Solidago is all the goldenrods, and flexi (flexible) + caulis (plant stem). When I worked at Matthaei Gardens, I had a dream to create a goldenrod garden with multiple native species. I got about 5 in before I was done there, but I don't think any except the very ordinary ones survived.

In other news: I edited, I worked on the trailer, I did errands, and I went to bell choir practice. Nothing new in that list. But I did work hard. Big list is up to 60 things to do by 12/1, and I have crossed off 12. TO DO- 48 things: 63 days.

See Silverrod

Monday, September 27, 2021

My Trailer Redo - Days 149-151 - Beadboard Walls Finished

  This time I'm not fudging anything. These curved walls in the trailer are really and truly done. white paneling inside a fiberglass trailer

First of all, this is another case of three steps forward and two back. I had to take everything on the curves apart, and all the way back to include one piece of the flat wall on each side. The construction adhesive alone did not hold those "custom studs" to the fiberglass. My guess is too much vibration while traveling, with the stress of the paneling pulling on it. wood brace pulled loose from fiberglass wall

So those all had to be fiberglassed in place. Had to make one more of those odd pieces too. Remember, I just slapped the left side together so it would look good for the last trip. I knew it wasn't done. wood brace fiberglassed to a trailer shell

Then I had to do something about getting some kind of insulation behind that curve. There is not enough room between the paneling and the shell for a piece of the foam in some places. So I tacked in some fiberglass batting pulled in half to reduce the thickness. I figure that will be better than nothing. Looks a mess, but this is all hidden.
insulation in a fiberglass trailer

Now back to joining those panel strips around the corner. Remember I said that I wanted a wider seam cover strip but couldn't find one? Well, guess what? I did find one, and it's significantly wider. Now the downside... it's made for thinner paneling. You can see how much narrower the space for the panel edge is. paneling seam covers

But, hey, masonite (which the beadboard is) can be sanded. However, I learned that it's really hard stuff. OK, I knew that already. It's brittle and breaks into layers if you twist it, but otherwise it's really hard. However, with enough sanding, I got those edges thin enough to fit in the strips.
sanding masonite

Lots of sanding. But here we are! This was just enough extra width that the edges of the beadboard don't pull out of the seam covers. I am very pleased. Here's the other side. Edge strip along the top to finish it off. white paneling inside a fiberglass trailer

How does it look close up? Really fine, I think! Success. Now on to the next project. white paneling inside a fiberglass trailer

In other news: I edited. I got Dead Mule Swamp Singer published (YEAH!) I started collecting the recycling. My list is still at 58 things to do by 12/1, and I have crossed off 10. TO DO- 48 things: 64 days. That sounds better.

See Beadboard Walls

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Freezer is DONE!

  At long last all the horrid parts of the horrid job of emptying and cleaning out the big freezer are done! Basically, I thawed one sink full of containers a day, composted the stuff, and washed the containers. Did the last load yesterday, and cleaned the infrastructure today. clean empty chest freezer

Just for the record, I had to throw away an estimated $553 worth of food. Sigh. Not enough to meet the insurance deductible. Just one of those painful losses. The fruits and things that I had spent a lot of time picking and processing are what hurt the most to toss out. Everything that could be saved easily fits in the small freezer of the fridge.

There was a lot of spoiled meat juice on the wood frame that I had built to hold the baskets, but a good scrubbing with clorox pretty much took care of that. It spent the night outside. I was hopeful that no animals would come chew on it, and none did.

I'm not even going to plug the freezer in and use it until after the big hike. I wouldn't be able to get enough food in it in the next two months to make it even remotely efficient. And Om doesn't really keep any things in it.

In other news: I am just about done with all the formatting for Dead Mule Swamp Singer. I also worked on the trailer this afternoon and made some good progress. Perhaps that will be tomorrow's post. My list is up to 58 things to do by 12/1, and I have crossed off 8. TO DO- 50 things: 65 days.

See One Out of Two

Saturday, September 25, 2021

My Trailer Redo - Days 147, 148 - Insulation Experiments

  I finally feel as if I am making some progress, so will show you what I've been working on. I'm trying out my tentative plan to complete the insulation of the trailer in curved areas. If I'm satisfied, then I have to go pick up some more flexible, closed-cell foam. But I have to figure out how much, and what thicknessess.

The area beneath the back window that is also under the table is a good place to fool around with because it won't ever show very much. The table has been removed again so I can work more easily in the space. This is after step 1. I have used various foam insulation types to create a surface that is a lot more smooth than the fiberglass shell that has ridges in various places. The colors of the insulating material don't matter. insulating a fiberglass trailer wall

Just to remind you, this is where the circuit breaker outlet box is mounted. In this picture, without any insulation, you can see that there are various levels of the fiberglass. fiberglass trailer shell with outlet strip

Next, I'll cover all this with another layer of the flexible foam, using as few pieces as possible to make a fairly smooth surface. Then I have to choose what I'm covering the foam with for the finished surface. But that's in the future. I had a couple pieces of the flexible foam that I was willing to sacrifice to this experiment. So far, I'm pleased.

NOTE: a year later, I have learned that none of these adhesives will stick to fiberglass well enough. See The battle of the glues

But let's talk about how I'm sticking the various kinds of foam to the fiberglass. I'll skip talking about all the things I tried (for now) and just say that I'm using Loctite Ultimate. It's going to take more than I'd like (because it costs more), but the Loctite All Purpose, although it did stick to the fiberglass, did not hold up to the vibrations of the moving trailer. More about that another day. So I'm going with the Ultimate. lines of adhesive on foam

But talk about a long process to get to those little lines of adhesive! First let's talk about the caulking gun. Mine is who knows how old. (top one in pic) Something approaching 50 years, probably. While I was watching videos yesterday to try to solve my other problem (coming up next), I listened to a big strong guy say that some of the new adhesives and sealants are so thick that he could barely get them to come out of his gun.

Well! I thought, when I was doing the well pit and roof, that I was just getting wimpy. And the Loctite is so stiff it was really, really hard. It seems there are caulk guns, and then there are caulk guns. OK, so mine was so old it doesn't have a place to cut the tube end, and it doesn't have a wire to pierce the cartidges. I could live with those deficiencies. But you can get a gun that has a lot more leverage. standard ones have about a 6:1 thrust ratio. Just read "how hard you have to squeeze to make stuff come out." I now own one with a 13:1 thrust ratio! (lower one in pic) It no longer takes two hands and a foot to make thick products come out! $17 well spent. caulking guns

And now for the other problem. I could not manage to pierce the cartridge. It seemed as if the nozzle should screw off, but it wouldn't. Could not find a single video about this. You have no idea how long I spent trying to figure out why I could not get that cartridge open. Anyway, I took that cartridge back and got a different one. cartridge of LocTite

Sure enough, the nozzle screws off, and you need to pierce right in the center of that conical projection. If you try to pierce the cartridge and manage to get down beside that cone, the tube will squirt a worm of adhesive off to the side as you use it. cartridge of LocTite

Anyway, now I am in business. I need to try to cover all the curved surfaces with small blocks of foam to create a relatively smooth interior surface. insulation on inside of fiberglass trailer

We won't call this huge progress, but I've finally got the method worked out. insulation on inside of fiberglass trailer

In other news: I edited and formatted all morning. All of the icky stuff and the interior frame I built are out of the freezer. I think one more day to scrub it down and that job will be done. I also am working on the real fix for the curved trailer walls. Stay tuned. My list is up to 56 things to do by 12/1, and I have crossed off 6. TO DO- 50 things: 66 days.

See Day 146- New Tires
See Index to Trailer Refurbish

Friday, September 24, 2021

Seneca Park Zoo Totem Pole

  There are still some miscellaneous things to show you from the New York trip, and I have nothing better. So have a totem pole that was at the Seneca Park Zoo.

Uncharacteristically, I forgot to take a picture of the interpretive sign, so I can't tell you very much about it. At the top is an owl, and below that a seated woman.
totem pole

At the bottom is a beaver who has just chewed through the stick it was holding. Interestingly enough, totems were usually associated with West Coast Tribes, while the Seneca Nation is more relevant to Rochester, NY. See our visit to Ganondagan last year. So why is this here? Now I'm really annoyed that I didn't take a picture of the interpretation!
totem pole

In other news: It was a frustrating day. I did a lot, but didn't finish anything. Worked on the freezer cleanup, worked on Dead Mule Swamp Singer pre-publication stuff, worked on the trailer with much frustration and one possible "victory" (stay tuned). Went to the store. Spent an hour watching videos to try to learn something that doesn't seem to be mentioned anywhere, but I finally figured it out, and did learn one other thing that will send me right back to the store tomorrow. Hopefully, I'll actually complete something tomorrow.

See Seneca Park Zoo

Thursday, September 23, 2021

It Doesn't Have to be Epic

  One of the programs of the NCTA conference this summer was given by a woman named Jo Swanson who made it her goal to stay at all 94 campsites along the Superior Hiking Trail and write about each one. She started out "big," and tried to make each experience special. Somewhere along the way, she realized that not every experience had to be epic... she just needed to finish.

I think I first realized this on one of the early sections of my North Country Trail hike.

I wrote in North Country Cache, "Here I sit in my pajamas, at the Jonesville laundromat, experiencing genuine American culture along the North Country Trail. Today, I have changed my mind about what constitues a Hike. I've always been one of those diehard minimalists (secretly cursed by their friends), a pioneer wannabe, who scoffed at those who want to carry less weight, sleep in a warm dry place, or take a shorter route. If there was a hard way to do something, I would find it and exult in the discovery.

"Today I have realized that despite eating my dinner in the car with the heater running full blast, despite that fact that I have wimped out and chosen to dry my wardrobe with the aid of coin-activated technology, this hike counts."

However, I did not say it as succinctly as Jo. "It doesn't have to be epic." This is such a great thought that I was not the only person who wrote this down. My hiker friend Ruth also made a note of it.

Now, I just have to remember that it's true. I'm seriously excited and terrified about the project I'll be undertaking in only 9 weeks. My list of big things to do before then has 53 entries and only 2 of them are crossed off so far. That just made my stomach flip. I need to finish these items at the rate of about one a day, without fail, to be ready to leave on December 1.

But... this does not have to be epic. This does not have to be Lord of the Rings. I don't have to meet a deadline at Mount Doom. I just want to do it. I don't have to feel guilty that I'm not backpacking the whole trail- that I'm giving in to the comfort of having help and sleeping in the trailer most nights. I don't even HAVE to do the 15 miles a day. If I can't then the hike will take me longer and I will probably get in snow trouble in the UP in October. But that just needs a different solution.

Here are Marie and me. It's a given that this picture was taken 27 years ago. For me it was 15 pounds ago. I was at my lowest adult weight ever of 104 pounds. I'm sure Marie will confess to being thinner too although she might not share numbers. I was entering grad school and at the height of fitness and perhaps hubris. Chips was eager and it seemed like the good life would never end. We were embarking on our first long hike on the NCT- 96 miles through the Allegheny National Forest of Pennsylvania. I hadn't even yet thought about hiking the entire North Country Trail.

Grad school ended. Chips died. I finished my first hike of the NCT in 2010. But Marie and I are forever friends.

The trail just won't stop calling to me. For whatever reasons, I'll be non-epically heading east on December 1. Stay tuned. hikers Allegheny National Forest

In other news: I can cross one item off my list today. I did the final edit of Dead Mule Swamp Singer. That took all day, but it was raining, so it was a good day for the project.

See Letting the Secret Out of the Bag

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Indian Cucumber Root- Fall Edition

  Found these in Oak Openings Metropark, OH last week. Thought I'd finish the life-cycle set this year. Indian Cucumber Root in the fall. They seem to consistently get that red coloration on the top tier.
Indian Cucumber Root

I even found some with the berries still attached. Indian Cucumber Root

You may recall that this is a really high-quality plant. Nice to see it several times in the same year and all in different places.

In other news: I edited a lot. I did another sink full of composting from the freezer. I worked on the trailer. Well... my plan was to show you some progress on that today. However, every single project I tried to start turned out to need some component from the store, so I guess a trip to Lowe's is in my near future.

See Indian Cucumber Root Spring Leaves
See Indian Cucumber Root Flowers

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

My Trailer Redo - Day 146 - New Tires

  This required nothing except money and the time to take the trailer to the tire place, but I am happy to report that Sunny has new tires, and the wheel bearings were checked and are in good shape. new tire on a travel trailer

The previous tires were 14 years old. They weren't awful, but they weren't great. I don't want to embark on a year-long trip with questionable rubber.

In other news: I felt a little under the weather today, but managed to do some editing, clear one more sink full of compostable stuff from the freezer, go to bell choir practice, and get these tires.

See Interior Tour 2021
See Index to Trailer Refurbish

Monday, September 20, 2021

Star Wars Cars

  I've been seeing cars like these on the road for quite a while, but getting pictures of them was another matter. How about Darth Vader? car looks like Darth Vader

And a Storm Trooper- there are actually several cars that can mimic these. car looks like Stormtrooper

It's all other news: I got the rotten meat out of the freezer (and down for trash pickup in the morning) and one sink full of stuff that is compostable. I edited. And I did errands that took WAY longer than I expected. But the good news is that the car has new front brakes and a replaced headlight lamp. Tomorrow, the trailer gets new tires. And I had a meeting this evening.

See The Cold Insurgency

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Puffball Yum

  Found a small puffball in the yard. Not much else to say except that it was a wonderful treat for lunch. puffball

You could make a case for the premise that anything fried in bacon fat would taste good, but I'm really partial to this particular fungus. puffball

In other news: I spent most of the day working on editing, either for others or finishing up Dead Mule Swamp Singer. Tomorrow I have to tackle cleaning the other freezer.

See Four Miles and Comfort Food

Saturday, September 18, 2021

Eastern Leaf-footed Bug Nymph

  Our first evening at the campsite in the Adirondacks in August we encountered several of these very strange insects. Eastern Leaf-footed Bug

The thought briefly crossed my mind that the thickened legs looked like a leaf-footed bug, but I couldn't wrap my head around the very strange warped shape of the body. Eastern Leaf-footed Bug

Bugguide.net to the rescue! This is indeed a leaf-footed bug. The Eastern Leaf-footed Bug, Acanthocephala terminalis, but it is one of the nymph stages. I looked up some of those stages, and earlier ones are lighter colored, so this is probably a near-adult. The adults are rather plain brown, but they have yellow/orange tips on their antennae. The nymph is much more interesting with that fan-shaped back end trimmed in white pinking. They do not bite. Eastern Leaf-footed Bug

In other news: I did laundry, I made yogurt, I emptied the trailer. Blah, blah.

See Western Conifer Leaf-footed Bug