Entries to Win Afghan

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Tuesday, April 30, 2024

Not Much Blooming

 I manage to get about one walk a month in at the School Forest in Ludington. It's very near where bell choir practice is, so it's a great way to get a little exercise on the same trip. Today, I was particularly looking for wildflowers. Nope.

There are escaped daffodils and Vinca (myrtle, periwinkle). I don't really know the history of this property. It's quite possible there were some houses in this city block at one time.
vinca wild in woods

The one "wild" thing I did find blooming was some blueberry, probably Vaccinium pallidum. These are nice and pink. They vary from pink to white.
blueberry flowers

I heard a Barred Owl, and saw another Red Admiral butterfly. Disc golfers were out playing on the course that's also on the property.

I have 142 miles of campsites done today. I may do a few more yet this evening because I'm probably not going to meet the quota for several days coming up. I worked on the dining room some and did errands.

Total miles hiked in 2024: 213.1, of which 70.6 is North Country Trail.

Ludington School Forest, various trails, 2.2 miles

See More from the School Forest
See Blueberries in the Snow

Monday, April 29, 2024

Acountability 101

 This is almost a "before" picture. I've already moved a few things, and I have spent some time sorting hardware.

The best I can hope for is to restack all the piles. However, there is good hope that there is room to do so in a way that would allow us to use two sides of the table when Steve comes for a visit next week.

You will hold my feet to the fire to make that happen, right? Nobody has eaten at this table for about 6 years.

Meanwhile, I did 162 miles of campsites today. I still have 1600 miles to go (I thought it was 1600 after yesterday, but I actually added it up today), so I have to keep my focus on that project too.

I am reminded of a sign a former pastor had on his desk. "Keep your eye on the ball, your shoulder to the wheel, and your nose to the grindstone. Now try to work in that position."

And of course, the grass started growing overnight.

See Dining Room and Trailer Tetris

Sunday, April 28, 2024

Not Easy!

 I hadn't worked on a jigsaw puzzle in almost a month! But Cathy and I started this one over a week ago, but it was much harder than we expected, and we didn't finish.

I went over there Friday, but we still didn't finish. That's saying something. It's only 500 pieces, and we are both good puzzlers. But the pieces are cut so that lots of times more than one piece would fit in a certain place, particularly the edge. On Friday, we had fewer than 50 pieces to put in, but I was out of time. I like challenging puzzles like this. Cathy- not so much.

I went over today, and we got it done. (And worked on another easier one Cathy had going on another table.)
North Country Trail butterfly puzzle

This is more than just a random puzzle. For several years, the North Country Trail Association was commissioning artists to create things they could use on various items- like t-shirts, patches, stickers, etc. And this one was made into a puzzle. What does it have to do with the trail, you ask?

The inside edge of the butterfly wing is an approximate map of the trail.
north country trail puzzle

Not seeing it? Here is the trail line.
north country trail map

I did some formatting for someone else, and then did 150 miles of campsites! I might do a bit more cleanup formatting on my book yet tonight.

See Magnificent Ocean Puzzle

Saturday, April 27, 2024

Much Nicer than Expected - 2024 Rock Garden Report 2

  I never expected the rock garden to look so good the first year after cleaning it up. A lot of plants that I thought were dead and gone have showed up. Here is the view from the deck, just for comparison with last fall. You can see that it looks fairly full, and not much of that is weeds. I think by next week, I'll be able to start carefully cleaning again.
rock garden in spring

I showed you these daffodils two weeks ago. They are still looking really nice. Pretty sure they are Narcissus Canaliculatus, although 'Minnow' is still in the running. They seem to be getting a little tall for the rock garden, but they are OK in the space they are in. Since the flowers are smallish, that works well.
Narcissus Canaliculatus

Here's a daffodil I had no idea was still alive. I had purchased bulbs for a lot of miniature ones. A number of them seem to be truly gone. This is N. pumilla, 'Rip Van Winkle.'
Rip Van Winkle daffodil

I wasn't sure this sedum was going to make it. It never looked happy at all last year. But look at it now! This is Sedum pluricaule, 'Ewaze." I like the color, and I think it stays rather blue-ish all season.
sedum ezawe

Here's a little plant that just refuses to die, although it never is happy. My hill is really way too dry for it. This is Lysimachia nummularia 'Aurea.' Hey, I'll take any tiny bit of colored foliage. I don't think it's ever bloomed. I just leave any little bits I find instead of digging them up. It has a grape hyacinth friend.
Lysimachia nummularia Aurea

Now, for two carefully staged photos, but no photoshopping! These views look like what I want the garden to look like all the time. This one is a section of violets and light magenta moss phlox (it used to be candystripe phlox, but it reverted to this color and white).
rock garden

This is the very best! Would you look at that Pasqueflower still going gangbusters after a full month since it first bloomed! Filling in spaces is magenta and white moss phlox. There are some sempervivum and sedum starting to get bigger in between, and a few violets. The best of all is the white grape hyacinth in the middle. There are some scattered blue ones popping up all over. But the white ones were a gift from my mom a long time ago. I had no idea there were any still viable, and sometimes the oddball varieties don't last as well as the old standards. And, it's not just a couple of stalks, but a whole clump! This is what a spring rock garden should look like.
spring rock garden

Mostly I worked on the book. 100 miles of campsites, some formatting and fixing things. Also edited for 30 minutes for someone else. I might be able to beat myself into a little more yet this evening.

See 2024 Rock Garden Report 1

Friday, April 26, 2024

Old Flower Friends, New Flower Friends

 I'll start with the new flower friends. This is the very newest. Sue gave it to me for my birthday! It's an Azalea, variety 'Stewartsonian,' with deep red flowers. I'll take its picture again when more of them open. She said the color I got was pot luck, but I like it.
stewartsonian azalea

This isn't actually the flowers. These are mostly grown for their foliage It's one of the Heuchera I bought last year, and it's really happy. The variety is 'Peach Flambe.' I like this a LOT. It will add bright color all season.
peach flambe heuchera

This is one of the two Brunnera I bought last year. This one is 'Frostbite.' The other one is either dead or not up yet. There are a lot of things not up yet, so who knows. I'm so happy to see it bloom. I knew the flowers were small; it's more of a foliage plant. The leaves will get very big after the flowers are done, but I love the delicate blue for spring.
frostbite brunnera

Now for the old friends. I show you these most years. However, last year I divided and moved most of these, so I'm happy to report that I now have multiple puddles of all of them.

First is the traditional English Primrose. Three clumps in bloom! It was quite breezy when I took the pictures.
blue english primrose

This is the Cowslip Primrose. It seems to be very very happy for me. There are three puddles of this now, also.
cowslip primrose

And I also split the purple Corydalis, possibly 'Berry Wine' variety. Both clumps of it are blooming.
purple corydalis

It's pretty early to be digging around yet- too easy to cut plants that aren't quite emerged. But I need to get my fencing up. The deer love azaleas, so it will have to go in prison, and I now have netting for the front garden and the rock garden. I think I'll need to get those up next week.

I worked on the book today, and spent some time with Cathy. We took a tiny walk. Did about 90 miles of campsites and some editing. Might do more yet tonight.

Total miles hiked in 2024: 210.9 of which 70.6 is North Country Trail.

See A High Probability of Naughtiness

Thursday, April 25, 2024

Back to Crystal Valley

 I went back out to Crystal Valley today, but still didn't hike every piece of every loop. I did walk 8.3 miles though.

It's still not really spring in the woods. Found more hilly trails. This is a really good area to get a workout around here. From the parking lot to the high point is about 300 feet difference, but the trails go up and down a lot. I definitely climbed and descended more than 300 feet. My tracker said my net elevation gain was 2.67 feet. Right. All that means is that I went in a loop which is good. Returning to the car is good.
wooded hill in early spring

I took several pictures that didn't come out at all. I took a picture of Sweetfern in bloom. Not in focus. It smells even more spicy than the leaves.

There was sun, so I was able to get a nice shadow of some emerging leaves on a rock.
shadow on a rock

The Shadbush is trying to show off. That's one of the very earliest blooms in the woods.

I was hoping for some wildflowers, but it's a very dry woods, so I didn't have big expectations. All I found was one small clump of common violets at the edge of a clearing.

A tattered Red Admiral butterfly was hanging around while I ate my lunch. I did also see a dragonfly.
red admiral butterfly

It's really interesting that where the trees are getting sunlight they are starting to pop! This was a fencerow on the way home. I love this time of year.
colors of spring trees

Since I had to repeat some sections of some loops to get to "new" trail, I did stop at the chestnut balls and look around more carefully for the tree. Hmmm. I did not find anything that has the right bark. That said, I think chestnut bark can be rather variable, but I'm still mystified. I found more of the balls uphill in the woods, so I think my idea that they rolled downhill into the trail is true. And I found one ball that was broken open about a quarter mile from the others. I suspect a squirrel.

I've been trying to meet my 100 miles of campsites quota since I got home. I'm about at 40 miles. Will I make it before I give up for the day?

Total miles hiked in 2024: 208.9 of which 70.6 is North Country Trail.

Crystal Valley Ski loops, Oceana County, MI. Various loops, 8.3 miles

See Crystal Valley Outer Loop

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Birthday Fun

 My usual birthday treat to myself is a hike. But this year I deferred that to another day. Maybe tomorrow, we'll see. I'm kind of on a roll with the book and want to work while I'm highly motivated.

But I was eating my lunch and someone called and asked me if I wanted to go out. Um... I was full. But there's always room for dessert, right? Especially pie.

Do you know who it was? It was Sue! With a friend of hers, Jan.

They had Jan's car, so I wasn't sure if I'd get to see my little buddies. But they had come too. Sophie and Annabelle are always good for smiles and licks.
dogs being held

And Omer got me some treat foods I'd been wanting. Some chips and pop.
chips and coke

And I've been inhaling broccoli. Just in the mood. Here it is with cottage cheese for breakfast. But last night for dinner I just ate a huge bowl of broccoli with butter. Yummers

Sue brought me another fun item. But I'm not going to share that until I decide where to put it. I thought I knew the answer to that when she gave it to me, but I need to rethink it. Stay tuned.

I did my editing, and then my 100 new miles of campsites, and some more formatting fixes. I may try to get more done this evening so that I'll feel good about going out to play tomorrow.

Oh yeah. What year is it? Most of you know. Finishing trip 76 around the blazing ball of gasses.

See Surprises and Blessings

Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Big Sable Reference Points

  You know one of my hobbies is to follow local rivers. I've showed you a couple of places on the Big Sable River a lot of times: the Vince Smith Bridge, where the NCT crosses it. Hamlin Dam, where it is dammed to make Hamilin Lake. And the outlet at Ludington State Park.

But I have another reference point from my back road explorations yesterday. This is about 7 straight-line miles downstream from the Vince Smith Bridge. That's probably at least twice that many river miles. This is along Taylor Road. Point #3 on the map.
Big Sable River from Taylor Rd

Here is point #2 on the map. You've seen this in every season because this is where the North Country Trail crosses the river.

Big Sable River from the Vince Smith Bridge

And this is the headwaters at point #1 on the map. From here, oddly, the river flows north and goes around a loop before heading south and west. photo label

I left the map large, so you can click it to see things better.
map of the upper big sable river

I can see that there are a couple of small bridges between points 2 and 3. Guess I'll need a river exploration day!

I worked really hard today- editing and then on the book. I got some formatting cleaned up and did my 100 miles of campsites.

See At the Vince Smith Bridge
See Snow on Big Sable Headwaters

Monday, April 22, 2024

Blaze Day!

 I've explained a lot about the how and why of this before, so I won't cover that again. Here are the tools.
trail blazing tools

I'll just say that I'm pretty sure the last time this section of trail was blazed was in 2010. That's way too long ago. Not good, but sometimes these things happen. Too few volunteers, whatever... The link at the end is the year that Ellen and I did part of this section. Yes, that's a 14-year-old blaze.
very old tree blaze

I went out with Dan D. today, and our goal was to touch up a half mile of trail in each direction. That is usually plenty for one day. Dan wanted to try a template he made for spraying the blazes. I have to say that this is not standard, but he wanted to try it.
spray painting blazes

He was really careful to not let the paint flare out inside the edges of the template. I'll concede that. Here is the sprayed blaze.
blue trail blaze

I'll stick with using a brush. A lot of the trees we had to use in this section are large red oak. They have deep ridged bark that is really difficult to get nice blazes on, but here is one of my reasonably good successes.
blue trail blaze

We had help from Riley, the trail-blazing dog. She thought the blue paint was great for accents.
dog with blue paint on face

We also did a tiny bit of white blazing on a side trail, but we were getting tired, and the white paint was too thin.

I got to do a little bit of back-roading on the way home. I was just on this road not too long ago, but can't find the date. It's a back way from Freesoil Road that actually has a bridge over the Big Sable River. It's fine as long as the weather has been fairly dry. Yonkers Rd.
Yonkers Road

My goal after I got home was to get 100 more miles of campsites done, and I did it. Had to really knuckle down!

Total miles hiked in 2024: 200.6 of which 70.6 is North Country Trail.

North Country Trail, Mason Co. Michigan, Tynadall Rd to Koenig Rd. and back. 1 mile

See More Blue Blazes