Monday, August 19, 2019

Karma is....

Well I will let you decide.

I went for a hike at Sidie Hollow Park which is a County Park just outside Viroqua. The camping area was full and I saw families and tents and people doing all sorts of activities.
The sign at the entrance to the trail says: Dogs must be leashed. Please clean up after your dog.

I hooked Charlie up on a leash, checked our water supply and headed out. We ran into a cyclist who was cleaning up some brush on the trail. Charlie admired his bike as we talked.
He headed off.

We met a couple that had a whippet that went to shaking when he saw Charlie. His owners said he was terrified of little dogs. I picked Charlie up so he wouldn't frighten the whippet and we walked on.

Charlie was enjoying himself and walking on leash like a great little guy. No pulling, just a lot of dog sniffing.

We came around a bend and there was a huge German Shepard type dog slinking with its head down, ears back. One of the women on the trail behind the dog said, "Hey, I've got a dog!"

And I replied, scooping up Charlie once again, "And I SEE you have no leash on your dog!"

She gave me the finger.

As we followed the trail through the big rig camp ground two little ratty looking terrier type dogs ran at us snarling and barking. Charlie once more was in my arms.

The lady walked out with a little stick and started talking baby talk to them. "Now you girls BeeBee and Toots go home!" I waited patiently and said nothing while she wrangled up her tiny nasty beasts.

A group of teen aged boys walked by later and stopped to pet Charlie. The walk was pleasant but I couldn't dawdle in the wooded area as mosquitoes would come buzzing.
The trail is a circle around the lake so chances were I'd meet the Shepard and women again.

I walked towards the lake shore to look at some really beautiful flowers. But stopped short. Mixed in with the tall flowers was some low lying poison ivy which looked very healthy.
I admired the flowers and walked on.

Here came the big Shepard low to the ground and ears flat. I saw the lady glance at me and then turn away. The dog circled us without a wag in its tail nor did it make a sound.
I walked slowly with Charlie in my arms again.

"Call your dog," I said, "or I call the Sheriff." I got a double finger this time and she called the dog off me.

She walked past with her friend and then exclaimed, "Look at those flowers!"
To my utter delight, her dog bounded through the poison ivy breaking up the oils as she walked in her flip flops to pick wildflowers.

I stroked Charlie on the head before setting him back down to finish our walk.

"Charlie," I said, "my next dog will be named Karma."

And I smiled.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Plant ID

I wish I were better at identifying plants/shrubs/small trees.

I lack the knowledge of how to identify plants/shrubs like the following.

The colors of the leaves are stunning as are the clusters of red berries.

I found these at the Kickapoo Valley reserve while biking the old 131 Trail. It was between the pond with the observation area with a dock and the mucky green gooey pond on the west side of 131.

At first I thought this was the same plant and after I got home I realized the leaves were very different. This too has evaded my identification.

Both plants were tall. Perhaps they were shrubs.

Whatever they were, they were exotic in color compared to the chokecherries and other plants.

Anyone have any ideas?

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Walking the kids...

What can I say?
Play time with Sven and Charlie.
Always fun.

Not defeated Yet!

Some days I just feel like I've accomplished nothing.

I know I have, but when I run into a dead end, I get frustrated rather easily.

So I called a guy who advertises that he trims and takes down trees! He is insured, yadda yadda. He came out and took a look around. I showed him what I would like done and he then said that he really was into logging and that he did this trimming and take down stuff on wet days when he couldn't log.

I was getting this vibe that said...he isn't even remotely interested.

Then he went on to motion at the trees and tell me if I wanted clean up he'd dump it all in the yard, tear up the yard, and it would be $1,800 a day and at least two days after cutting the trees down.

Full Service my a--.

"So I'd suggest looking around and IF you can't find anyone else, give me a call."
His parting words.
I hope he didn't look in his rear-view mirror as he left. I was giving him the finger.
I felt really defeated and down.

Fast forward to the next day. CrossFit workout. It was tough and hard. A few times I was ready to quit. The coach came up and kept saying quietly, *You can do this.*
Funny. Now when I get into a tough spot I hear his little mantra behind me. Well, probably in my head.

As I was leaving CrossFit yesterday I ran into one of the new gals. I really have liked her from day one. We started talking in the locker room and next thing I know I am asking for her to put her cell phone number on my phone and her husband's. He cuts trees for a living. Dang.
Serendipity strikes again.

I'll see where this leads.

I decided to take an afternoon just for me. I made a snack for Rich and made sure that he and Charlie were all set, then headed to the Kickapoo Valley Reserve to ride the old 131 trail. I wanted to ride to the north side and then all the way south.

And...I did. I took my converted camera.

And took my time.

Full spectrum allows me to use the camera as I normally would also...neat huh?

I took the following two shots with the same camera. I just used the 'hot mirror' for color and the 665nm filter for the infrared look.

I think I prefer the IR look in the super bright sunlight.

Anyway, it was a fun experiment.

As I drove home I stopped at my favorite sunrise spot to grab a shot of the cattle in Black Bottom Creek.

I really love how this turned out. It just goes to prove that clouds, sky, water, and greenery really make an IR shot.

I haven't heard back from the tree folks, but I've decided not to let it be an end all thing for me.
Rich told me to 'chill' out. I was trying too hard to do everything at once.

I received a couple of more phone numbers for guys who do trimming, I'll work on that next week. But for now?

*I got this.*

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

It Tastes LIKE...

Well, you fill in the blanks!

I walked in to the nursing home cafeteria and MIL was pushing her plate around. The others were eating quietly but brightened up when I said 'Howdy my friends!'

I asked what they were having and everyone told me something different.
Lisa said, "Biscuits and Gravy."
Joan said, "Pork and Gravy." She gave Lisa a sideways glance and rolled her eyes.
John didn't say but just waved one hand that held the mystery meat and gravy and slid it to his mouth with a smile.
MIL said, "Chicken and Gravy!"
Larry remained silent. He is the new 'kid' at the table and I don't think he really feels comfortable with the others.

On the other side of the cafeteria/lunchroom, one of the aides asked the person she was helping, "Don't you like Thanksgiving? This is Turkey and Gravy!"

I announced that I thought it might be Turkey and Gravy along with peas, carrots, and potatoes and bread pudding. I got nods around the table and then Lisa asked out of the blue.
"So what does broccoli taste like?"
It was directed at me and I looked over at Joan who was rolling her eyes once more.

"Well," I said, "Chicken and Gravy!"
Lisa shook a finger at me and we all laughed.
"How about it tastes like...hmmm, cabbage?" I then said.

I asked my MIL what she thought it tasted like. MIL said it ..."Tastes like Broccoli."

Everyone piped up then and made wild taste comparisons. Lisa finally said, "Well now, I'm not going to eat it anyway so I don't care what it tastes like!"

And so the conversation went. Until it turned into what the activities of the day were.
I went to where the activities were posted and then came back to tell the gals.
Joan was excited about the sing-a-long and then she said goodbye to the rest of the table. John and Larry exited too moving along slowly with their wheelchairs.

The lunchroom excitement was over. Time to exit.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019


Getting close to surgery!

Mondays are usually a disaster. Between phone calls from his doctor at the VA, other calls, and getting him ready for PT,...well...Mr. Procrastinator sometimes has issues with Mondays. It is like nudging a kid who doesn't want to go to school and says...
My tummy hurts
My head hurts
I don't wanna...
No, he doesn't say those exact words, but his actions are those of 'faces' and expressions when I set things up for showers or set out a change of clothes.
He'd rather not go, he tells me. I have learned that arguing is of no use. Sometimes I win, sometimes I loose.
His doctor from the VA called at 8am, which was scheduled. That set his whole day off from track. He doesn't like to get up before 9am.
He was grouchy and well, just his ol' Grumpy Self.
He talked with the doctor for about a minute and then handed me the phone.
His PCP who was not very cooperative in helping me figure out some things needed for surgery seemed all bright and cheery.
Whatever. She suddenly wanted to be helpful. This after I bypassed her for the cooperative Psychiatrist.

The extreme humidity we are having doesn't help much. Nor does the mornings of dense fog and over cast days.

The folks at Pulmonary Therapy are Angels and helped him through his rough Mondays. It seems that Mondays for whatever reason are really tough for him.
We discussed the ever present Monster of MDD or Major Depressive Disorder and he said he had no idea why he was the way he was and why things were so hard for him.
By afternoon, he is usually more cheerful and by evening, he is more like the guy I once knew.


On Saturday...
In order to break up Rich's monotony of TV binging, I offered to take him for a drive out to Runge Hollow where we have fished once in a while. He said NO at first and then agreed to it.
It was a nice drive.

I had a chance to park up above the earthen dam and bring out my camera. The day was rather dull looking and very grey so I thought I'd see what happened with my IR filters.

Even with barely any sun, I was able to get some great IR reflections off the grass.

And then the black and white 850nm filter...

It changes the perspective by making the green bright and the water dark. This shot would have been dreary in color.

And lastly, some X's in the water and trees from down by the lake itself.

This always reminds me of how my Grandmother used to claim that she left X's in the water at the good fishing spots.

Rich looked around and at the fishing dock then claimed he'd have to walk too far didn't look like a good fishing spot. I cheerfully pointed out that I'd seen good sunfish reports from this man made lake and that the fishing dock would be a perfect place to sit after surgery and toss worms into the water.

Grumpy vs. Hopeful.
Sometimes I think that is my role in life.
He points out the misery, I point out the possibilities.

And life goes on.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Not the day I imagined

Sure I had planned an afternoon of bicycling along the Kickapoo River and doing some exploring.
Things sometimes do not go according to plan.
The day looked cloudy and rainy, so I delayed my bike trip up the Kickapoo Valley and decided to work on other projects.

Here is Sven doing some of his work. I stake him out in areas that need a bit of cleaning up. He does his job well and tramples the other weeds he doesn't eat.
Right now nettles are his favorite along with tall grasses.
The only issue is that once he cleans this area up, you can see all the 'junk' and chunks of metal that Rich has tossed over the years.
This is on my list of things to clean up this fall. One small area at a time.


This is a rocker I picked up at a rummage sale. It needs a new 'stay', but since they only come in pairs, I guess I'll replace both of them. I'm going to sand the chair down a bit and let some of the natural wood come through...or I will paint it. I'm not sure quite yet. It is a tiny rocker and suited for very small people. Charlie and I sit on the porch and rock a lot together in the evenings.

This old chair needs a face lift and...well, one leg is slightly shorter than the others. The paint is chipping off badly. So I got after it with some sandpaper and then ...

I thinned some white paint that is mildew and water resistant and 'whitewashed' it. I sandpapered sections again to smooth it out and decided to brighten up the areas I'd had painted red at one time.
When I am done, I'll coat it with a polycrylic paint and it should weather the porch better. Once the cane is worn out, I'll use it as a planter. This chair has really survived the ages! I've had it for about 27 years.

Just after I started with repainting the little spools, my neighbor showed up and it was time to get to work.

Justin began to saw and I began to stack. He was grateful for the firewood and I was grateful that he could cut up the downed tree.
The Honey Locust is very dense and hard wood so he dulled up one chain just cutting!
He showed me how to gas his saw up, how to change the blade, how it started...he even showed me his chaps that he wears. Apparently they are safety chaps that will stop the saw blade. He said they are warm, but a good safety precaution.
He said I could operate a small chain saw, like an electric one. I was skeptical. He is trying to convince me that I could even get an electric powered one with a battery. Lighter and able to do a lot of the work I needed done.

Anyway, I started to stack and carry. The little stuff from the tree top went here.

And the BIG stuff.

I had to bring up from the bottom of the yard and toss over the little sand hill [left over pile of sand and rock from when the basement was dug for remodeling]. I'm hoping to hire someone to come in and smooth out that section of the yard for me in the next year, along with the other trees that are just west of the house getting cut down.

I told Justin I'd carry the chunks of wood and toss them where we could easily get at them to stack them in his trailer.
He kept saying, "That is heavy."

I replied that my Deadlift PR weight was 105, and if I used the Sumo Deadlift stance and a jerk to the waist ... I was able to pick up the small logs and carry them fairly easily. I had to think about how I'd been taught to lift and think it through more than once.
When we got close to the stump, I chose to roll those pieces up the hill and into the big pile.

We were pretty surprised that the tree was solid throughout. It was not rotten.
However the root system was so shallow it was a wonder that it hadn't blown down years ago.

Our conclusion was that perhaps further below the dirt, it could be rock and perhaps that is why it was so shallow? I guess, we will never know.

What about Sven? I moved him a few more times and he did a fine job of uncovering an old Snapper mower that was buried in nettles. He then stood on the seat of the mower and reached higher.

Oh and the last note for this morning.

After lifting and carrying all of that wood, I am not stiff or sore.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Charlie Morning

Charlie, after we had a morning excursion together.
I stuck my baseball cap on him that I use for outdoor work.

He was not impressed.

But he is such a good sport about it.

The sideways glance as if to say. 'Really? You are going to keep pointing that thing at me?'

And...I am bored. Totally bored. Let's do something else.

Yesterday morning he didn't let me out the door without him for my predawn bicycle ride.
I let him come along and wondered how his tiny legs would deal with me pedaling.

I didn't go very far, but he kept up when I pedaled slowly and when I sped up he just followed unless a scent at the side of the road interested him.

Charlie was behind me sniffing at the edge of the gravel road. At this time of day and any time of day there is almost never any traffic. Only 3 homes are on this road and the guy at the end of the road never is up early. My closest neighbor leaves at 7 to go to work. Most of the time, this road is empty. Well, not during planting or harvest season!

Anyway, that is getting way off track. I just wanted to assure you all that Charlie is perfectly safe with me. He has come a long way and has instant recall. Well, most of the time, that is if he isn't on a chase. So he still wears the collar on these outings when I don't have him on a leash.

I'm very lucky that I have all of this time to work with him. That makes a huge difference I think!

Even with the cloud cover things got pretty neat. Bluish sky and pinks on the horizon.

And then the horizon began to glow...

I zoomed in on the trees and caught the change of light. 

And when the sun peeked through, it was partially hidden by clouds.

The whole sky changed colors and the clouds moved in.

Charlie and I headed towards home.

Just before going down the driveway, I had to stop and take one parting shot using field corn for framing.

We got back to the house and did our morning chores together. Sven was happy to have a new spot to eat nettles and other weedy plants. If I had an army of goats my weed issue would be gone. However, I'm not prepared to re-fence this place for goats.

Rich got up after 10am and I convinced him later in the day to take a short drive with me and check out Runge Hollow for fishing later this fall.

I intend to go back there and to Sidie Hollow to get some photos in infrared and in color. Sunrise at Runge would be pretty neat. Sidie has incredible fall colors that reflect on to the man made lake.

Oh ... and how did Charlie do? He loved it! He never once ran in front of the bike. If we were to go a long distance however, I doubt he'd be up for it. Friends have suggested I get a basket or buddy seat to put him in.
I'll consider it.