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Friday, June 30, 2023

Best Pictures of January 2022

I do not have all the pictures I took from January 2022 in the data base yet. However, I need to start just looking through everything so I can get an inspiration for the new program I need to put together.

From January 2022, I've chosen what I think are the 8 best pictures to share again. I am calling them "best," not because they necessarily tell the story best, but because I think they are simply the best actual photographs. I've left them full size, so you can click on them and see them larger. That always makes photos look better. I don't think there are as many really good pictures from January as some other months. There were too many foggy, rainy, overcast days which did not offer good light to work with.

But the fog helped this picture to be interesting. This is the reflection of a bridge in Delphos, OH. All of January was spent in Ohio.
reflection of bridge in Delphos Ohio

The next picture was taken about two minutes later. Part of the Miami Erie Canal through Delphos is still watered and the banks tended.

Almost anywhere in Ohio there are interesting contrasts between the bare sycamore trees with very white bark and whatever is in the background.
bare sycamore branches

Turning the corner to head east in southern Ohio, this is a view from Bat Roost Road across the Ohio River into Kentucky.
blue hills

I just loved this tiny cabin tucked beneath a frosty tree. Of course the red roof "makes it."
small cabin in frosty trees

As I recall, this was our coldest morning at something below zero. But the sun was out. Magical!
barn and gate with sun on snow

Another reflection. More sycamore. I'm a complete sucker for bare roots doing their thing.
bare roots reflected

This last one really leads me on. Winter, real winter, ahead. You can't see what's on the other side of the rise...
snowy road

One of the things I learned today is that I have not killed all the biting ants in the rock garden yet. Nice surprise ahead tomorrow. Stay tuned.

See Best Pictures of December 2021

Thursday, June 29, 2023


I spent a significant part of today meeting with Chris Loudenslager, the National Park Service Superintendent of the North Country Trail.

In the first place, I like Chris a lot. He's worked for both the US Forest Service and the National Park Service at a lot of different places around the country, including a number of locations that host the North Country Trail which means he has a ton of experience in many situations. I first got to know him when he worked for the Manistee National Forest, and he was the liaison for the Forest to our Spirit of the Woods Chapter of the NCTA. I was impressed back then at how much he actually seemed to care about "our" trail.

And I think he still feels this way. It's pretty neat when someone who works for the government actually cares about the entity he or she is overseeing. The person in the Superintendent position has the dubious honor of trying to work within all the federal regulations that apply to a NATIONAL Scenic Trail, and yet manage to actually produce results on the ground that forward the objectives of the trail, without frustrating the NCTA staff and volunteers too much.

I was honored that Chris thought my opinions about the trail, after seeing it twice, were worth hearing. OK, I've been around longer that some of the dirt on the trail, but it still felt good to be valued.

And he came prepared! My brain is still firing off in a thousand random directions. I haven't yet been able to process this hike enough to organize my thoughts. Chris arrived with a page full of questions to ask me. This was perfect! It gave me a framework for the contents of my overflowing brain.

Other than that... I went grocery shopping. A good day, except for the shopping. But now I don't have to do that for another week, so that's good!

See More Statistics, Corrected Statistics

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

More Statistics, Corrected Statistics

This picture was taken by the M-Live reporter who has done the two stories about me. He said I could use it on my blog. I think this is about the best picture of me that's been taken in recent years. The one of me at the north end of the Superior Hiking Trail is also good, but I may try to get permission to use this one on my promotional materials. I think it says, happy, adventurous, and maybe looking into the future.

I'm starting with the huge news. I made a bad error in my spreadsheet. After a block of a couple of days off, I incorrectly entered the number of the next hiking day to something that made no sense. I don't even know where that number came from. This is great news! And you aren't going to believe this... but I have now double-checked it. The total number of actual hiking days is 365. Exactly a year of days.

I know this isn't how you count how long it takes to do a hike. That stands at 18 months and 18 days. But this makes me feel SO much better. In fact, when you divide 4815 miles by 365 days, you get an average of 13.2 miles per hiking day. This is much closer to the goal of 15 I was hoping for. You have no idea how happy this makes me!

I just had the feeling there was something wrong with the numbers. I had taken so many more days off than I expected that it just didn't seem that out of a total of 439 days attributed to the hike (I didn't count the ones at home in my bigger breaks) that with 408 hiking days (the previously reported, but wrong, number) only 31 days were zero days. There were a lot of days for moving around, logistics, the flu, and weather, etc.


Now for some other info. If I did this right, and I don't think I missed anyone on this part, 51 people or families hosted me and/or my trailer and helper. I believe I featured all of them on the blog with one exception. People really went out of their way to provide for my needs.

The other numbers I've tried to tally are of who hiked with me. This gets trickier. Bill Courtois hiked with me the most. He thinks his total is about 1100 miles. I'm not up for tracking all that. I'll take his word for it. We've gone from being the barest of acquaintences to fast friends. If I counted right, he was with me for 94 hiking days plus some days off. Picture below with David.

As far as number of miles hiked together, Denali is next up. She and I were mutually supporting each other for a total of 46 days, about 40 actual hiking days. She has since completed the NCT.
2 hikers

David Snoek is next in days and miles. If I counted it right, he hiked 19 days and about 180 miles. Bill left and David right, if you don't know, on the Border Route Trail last September. All of David's miles were backpacking except for the final 6 miles on the completion day! I also want to say that although we ultimately decided it was foolish to backpack the Trap Hills in the dead of winter, he was willing to do it with me.

Bill's brother Bob hiked a few complete days, and portions of other days with me. He's had a serious health concern this past year, and was originally planning to backpack the Border Route with Bill, David and me. He did manage to join in on parts or all of 8 days. And, I can now tell the twins apart!

And my friend Cathy hiked 7 days with me. She's pictured in the link below under support crew.

As I said in the earlier post, the lines of the categories get blurry. Marie hiked out with me almost every morning that she was doing support crew. She probably averaged 3 to 4 miles out (and then 3 to 4 miles back), but sometimes went as many as 5 miles with me. Sue and the puppies often hiked in to meet me in the afternoon which was a huge encouragement on nasty winter days. Sometimes Marie also did this. Other support people often hiked small portions with me as well.

Monica Hatch hiked with me for 7 days, and Keira hiked with me for 5. All but one of these days was backpacking.

Again, if I've counted right and not missed anyone, a total of 44 other people hiked one or two partial/full days with me.

In addition to this, I participated in a chapter hike by Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore, and one by Spirit of the Woods. I also joined another independent hike group one day. Most of these people are in addition to the 44. I also didn't list the people who hiked on the final day. There were about 25 people at the celebration, and I think about 10 of those hiked parts with me. There were also chapter meetings, meals we were treated to, and quite a few encounters with hikers who had walked out to find me, but didn't stay with me very long. Perhaps the trail people I interacted with (counting hosts) was about 150.

17 other people helped to spot me who did not host or hike with me. Then there were the people who mowed trail right in front of me! So many supporters!

It's been grand having people want to be a part of this adventure. I'm SO not a people person, but there's no one I can't hike with for a day. The people who were there for multiple days were all fine companions.

Hopefully, I've left all of these folks with a good impression of the trail.

Things are getting a little crazy. WZZM-13 TV interviewed me today (to be aired maybe on Saturday). Tomorrow I'm meeting with Chris Loudenslager of the NPS for "debriefing." I'll be on a podcast next week. A Girl Scout troop near Washington, DC wants me to speak to their group. Other speaking engagements are getting lined up. I have two or three articles to write. This is all very nice, but I have to get busy and put a program together. I still need to clean my house, and I want to play in my garden. And I need to sell and write books. I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed. But I think it's all good.

See Some Statistics from the Hike
See Support Crew Thanks

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Rock Garden Report - 3

I had a bunch more bookwork things to do this morning, but I split the afternoon between hike stats and the rock garden. Big surprise coming on the hike stats. Stay tuned.

As for the rock garden. Well! All the rain over the weekend made it way easier to weed, and the cloudy, cooler day meant that I could work out on the section away from the wall. See how it looks from the bottom now! I have about 33 out of about 80 spaces weeded.
rock garden

This is one of my happy finds. This is Sedum ellcambianum. I was sure hoping it was still alive because it fills in nicely, gets about 2 inches tall, and is covered with yellow flowers when it is happy. Despite the complete neglect, there is still a fair puddle of it.
sedum ellecambianum

Here's a happy little Sempervivum. I have no idea which species or variety, but I call it 'Roly Poly' because it spreads by breaking off new rosettes before they open. These are little balls that roll to some new location where they take root. You can see three little balls on the lower left that are heading out on their own. I've never seen it bloom. I've also never seen it this happy. I've had this since 1998, and there are now fairly good sized puddles of this in several locations.

This find was a complete shock. Very little that is not a succulent or a bulb has survived. And yet, here was a little patch of something clearly not a weed. I went hunting in my plant records. It's Arabis sturii, Wall Cress. It's supposed to have white blossoms in late spring. Too late to see it this year. I planted it in 2001 in two locations. I haven't gotten to the other location yet. Woo hoo! Maybe next year.
Arabis sturii

Now for the three new plants I bought before I went hiking in June. Betty babysat them for me while I was gone.

The first one is a Sedum, and I had a small pot of this long ago, but it didn't survive. I'm not sure why, because it should be very hardy. I'm going to try it again. This is Sedum spurium 'John Creech.' There are LOTS of cultivars of Sedum spurium. I had 4 or 5 in the rock garden. I've found tiny remnants of 3. Hopefully, I can make them happy again. Most of them started as tiny bare root sprigs, so there is hope.
Sedum John Creech

This is one of a series of Sedums that are sold under the brand "Sunsparkler." I think it's actually in a new genus Hylotelephium. (Not sure of the differences- maybe these grow more upright- there seems to be a lot of confusion about this.) It's patented as the variety 'Lime Twister." I picked this one specifically because it has some leaves that have a lot of the cream color on them.
Sedum Hylotelephium Lime Twister

And finally for today, this is kind of an odd plant that I'm going to try out. I love the dark color. It's Leptinella squalida 'Pratt's Black.' The common name for this is Brass Buttons, but this variety has very dark foliage and dark tiny balls for flowers. It is supposed to be very hardy, but the rock hill may be too dry for it. However, if it works out, it forms a mat and will fill in a space nicely.
Letinella squalida Pratts Black

That's all for today. I won't have nearly as much garden time, at least until Friday, so I'm really happy that I got in a lot today.

See Rock Garden Report 2

Monday, June 26, 2023

Garden Fairy, Refrigerator Fairy

Remember the Garden Fairy? The one who put a yellow Asiatic lily in my flower bed sometime prior to 2018? Being caged has saved it from the deer (removed for the picture), and I don't know why the moles haven't found it. Anyway... it is blooming! Three buds, two of them open today. I don't know what variety. It doesn't seem to be one of the specialty ones. I wouldn't mind if this had babies.
yellow asiatic lily

And when I got home from the vendor event this weekend, another fairy had been in my refrigerator! Fresh strawberries! Thank you to whomever...

I sure did not get things done today at the rate I had hoped. Errands, paperwork from the weekend, inventory and ordering more books. There must have been other things because I was working all day long, but I can't account for them.

I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed with all the things I need to be doing. Hopefully, I can do a better job of getting my act together tomorrow.

And I updated my author web site with upcoming shows and programs.

See One Garden Fairy, One Garden Liar

Sunday, June 25, 2023

Around the Venue

The Lakeshore Art Fair is held in and around Hackley Park in Muskegon each year. This is the central statue in the park, 80 feet tall, of "Victory." The park is to honor Civil War veterans.
Hackley Park, Muskegon

These artistic sprinklers were being sold right across the street from us. Little kids had fun playing in the spray. I didn't price them, but they must have cost plenty since I think they rented three booth spaces to have room to set up the sprinkler.
artistic lawn sprinkler

There weren't any unusual plants in the gardens around Hackley Park, but they were nicely kept. Stella D'Oro lilies and Impatiens.
urban garden

And the hanging planters had hot petunia colors. But they are nice and full.

On the other side of me was author friend, Michael Carrier, who writes thriller mysteries set in the Upper Peninsula.
author Michael Carrier

And so that Kay-Kay could have a rest, Jean brought Laya today. Laya is an old hand at events and can be walked on a leash! I certainly never knew that chickens could be so calm.

The storm line held off until about 3:30. We all took down non-essential parts of our displays and held out until the last minute. None of us was willing to let books get wet! We all helped each other at the end. The only things of mine that got wet were the bare table and the canopy. I can dry those out this week. Many of us hadn't expected we'd even get as many good hours out of today as we did. The wind was gusty, and even with weights, we spent some anxious moments holding down our canopies, but all ended well.

I haven't added up the sales yet, but I did all right. Definitely some profit even with transportation and allowing myself that one junk food treat yesterday. Did I make enough for two days work and a day of prep? Hard to say. It takes forever to build up a reputation as an indie author. I did better than many. And I had some return customers. It's hard not to compare myself to author neighbor Michael, who is well-known, and who sells one or more books about every 30 seconds. But others had a poor sales weekend, and I feel bad for them. It's really hard when you don't even cover your booth space.

I do love the way our Michigan Author community tries to support each other.

See Bring Your Chicken to Work Day

Saturday, June 24, 2023

Bring Your Chicken to Work Day

Meet Kay-Kay, a Silkie Chicken.
Silkie Chicken

Not only did Jean bring her chicken to work...
Silkie Chicken

...but she wrote a children's book about Kay-Kay!
children's book Kay-Kay

So, it was yet another vendor event. How many pictures of canopies and stuff do you want to see? That's what I thought. I was sharing a tent with Melanie Hooyenga who writes young adult stories. I'll just show you this one.
vendor event

Some authors did quite well, and some didn't do well at all. I did moderately well. At least I'm now in the black, so that's always a plus. The weather could be iffy tomorrow which makes me really glad that I'm out of the stress zone. One can never be sure from one event to another.

It's good to be back with my author friends, discussing author-y things... and chickens.

See How to Sell Books- Bring Your Chicken

Friday, June 23, 2023

Rock Garden Report - 2

Well, I didn't work on the hike statistics at all today. Mostly I was getting ready for the Lakeshore Art Festival this weekend.

My car still wasn't completely emptied from the hike, and stuff for vendor events was all over the place and not ready.

In between, of course I'm gardening. Here's what the rock garden looks like now. I now have about 19 out of ~80 numbered spaces weeded. I've added three plants, and found remnants of more that have survived.
overgrown rock garden

Here's a closer view of the strip I'm working on.
overgrown rock garden

Here's what it looked like on June 2, with 10 spaces sort of cleared just so you can see that I have made some progress.

Why am I starting on that edge instead of the outer edge and working in? Because it stays in shade till about 11 am. After that it gets full blazing sun, and it's a killer to work out there. Today was overcast until almost 1 pm, so I extended my weeding out from the wall a bit.

I'm also working on plant records. All my old notes are so far out of date- plants that died, plants that moved themselves- that they are worthless.

I've always said that the rock hill just swallows plants. You can't even see my three new ones. Don't worry. I'll show you one of these days. One huge find is that one of my favorite sedums has spread, so I. potted up some sprigs of that to put in a second space. One huge problem is that an autumn olive had taken root on the hill. I cut it down way earlier this year, but the roots need to be chopped out, and I'll be working at discouraging it from coming back...probably forever.

Rock gardens, when they are done "right" are stuffed full of plants that fill in niches and cracks. They are usually the kind of gardens that you stand around and study because you'll find new things every time. They usually aren't noted for big swaths of color and flamboyance.

I also did laundry.

Anyway... I'm beat. I still have to pack some clothes and fix food to take for the weekend's lunches. But I think that's all... oh yeah, wash the dishes.

See Last Garden Post for a While

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Betty's Garden Fun

It's turning out to be a huge job to go all through the blog posts and make notes of who was there on which days, and how long I stayed at each host, etc. How about some more pretty plants instead?

This is a garden loosestrife (not the horrible purple loosestrife that takes over wetlands. Actually, this probably isn't even in the same genus.)
garden loosestrife

She still has a columbine in bloom!
garden columbine

These are some variety of "Sundrops," which is an evening primrose relative. Genus Oenothera. I used to have some shorter ones, but they all eventually died out.

Here's the one that takes my breath away. She can grow delphiniums! I have killed a few. This is a lighter blue one, but it's still stunning.

And how about those pots of coleus? They are looking great! But she has not escaped the deer eating her hosta. I'm not gloating... just saying.

Can you tell that I'm getting a lot of joy from plants and flowers and gardening? Very much so!

See Gardening with Betty