Sunday, February 19, 2017

Nothing is Impossible!

It was just one of those days.

The neighbor kids were off from school and the temperatures were insanely warm for February.

Our texts back and forth from the house on the ridge to the one in the hollow were all about "Let's go for a Hike!" Morris was welcome to come along.  We packed snacks and water.

And off we went. Morris walked on a leash until we got down the road just a bit.

Who knew a corn field could be so interesting?
One can whip corn stalks like ninja swords and throw corn cobs high into the sky. There was plenty of mud to explore and we had just begun the journey.

To the right is the real driveway and to the left of the kid picnic table is where the neighbor who lives on the ridge has been driving to avoid ice/snow/mud.
With the quick melt and thaw, I was pretty sure that the days of getting back to his place was going to get very interesting.

We made it to the old ridge road which is used in the winter by snowmobiles and during the rest of the year by those folks who drive a 4 wheeler or take a 4 wheel drive truck to the 'camp ground' on the bottom.

The snow was still present on the north hillsides but was gone on all of the south facing hillsides.

Morris kept tabs on the kids. Lauren, my night time hiking pal and I enjoyed the view and the shouts from the kids each time they discovered something interesting.

By this time the kids had shed their sweatshirts. How odd to see kids walking on ice and snow with short sleeves! But it was warm, the sun was strong, and there was no wind.
Just a few short weeks ago Lauren and the Kenosha gang and I had taken a chilly night hike right through here.

No ice formations at the culvert this warm day. Just rushing water.

And then we turned the corner through the dead golden rod plants and...

there was the creek...

And the fun ensued. One might have thought the kids were having summer fun at the beach on February 17th?

Everyone enjoyed it.

As we got towards the shadier part of the creek, and the slight air movement that came down from the snowy northern hillsides, the air got colder.

The sweatshirts went back on and the kids we headed towards the trail that went back towards my house.

Since the flood had washed out the ridge road, we now had to climb a steep bank and follow a deer trail to get back up on the ridge road.
I'd brought a rope to help out.

The hillside was covered in slick ice.

We nicknamed it "The Elevator".

Allie looked at it and proclaimed it to be Impossible!

Carson looked at it and muttered, "Nothing is Impossible!"
He grabbed the rope and climbed up the slick hillside.

And up he scampered.

Nothing is Impossible, if you set your mind to it.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Well now

It has taken me a few days to get back into the 'swing' of things after my trip to Wausau.

All the snow on the south facing hillsides is gone. There is still snow on the north hillsides. Well, I'd call it ice/snow. It warms during the day and freezes at night.

The owl pictured above has graced our old ancient oak tree for the past couple of days.
I've seen him/her in the pre dawn hours and then again at sunset.
Last night I was able to take a semi decent shot of the bird.

We are also seeing sunshine! Last night the skies lit up with wonderful golden and orange hues. I didn't have time to run up to the ridge but did take this as the sun set in our hollow.

Today it is supposed to be 62 degrees? That is unheard of in mid February.

February 16th. What a good day.
We saw Dr. Witek from the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center. He pronounced that he felt that he didn't need to see Rich any more. The VA is following up well.

We are about 18 months out from the end of his throat cancer treatment and things are looking pretty good.

So that makes it a great day.

Dells of Eau Claire

I woke up at 5:30 am. Motel rooms aren't the best places to get a lot of sleep. I suppose some folks can sleep in but I can't.

I had to be at work at midnight and I had a four hour drive home yet. I read the weather report and noted the time of sunrise.
Then I decided to see how far away the Dells of Eau Claire were from where I was staying.

I'd have to drive 30 minutes north east to get there. I sat for a moment and then went for a coffee in the motel lounge. The gentleman at the check in desk and I talked for a few moments. He told me that his son's Boy Scout group work on the Yellow Trail each summer. He said I should go to the 'Dells'.

Off I went. It is fairly rare for me to go somewhere like the Dells, so I thought, why not?

I was not disappointed.
And this sign is not kidding.

I found a place to park. I was the only person in the area. I thought I'd best stay with the well traveled areas as no one knew where I'd gone.
I followed the worn trail through the snow...

And... was wowed.
These shots were taken with my cheap little cell phone camera.
I felt like I'd hit the mother lode of coolness and ice.
Indeed and I was there all alone to enjoy it.

I'd been here this past August and it had been so crowded with people that I really didn't get a good shot of the Eau Claire River. However, at dawn with the temperatures hovering about 19 degrees above the water, there was not another soul to be found.

A note here. Rivers and Ice are dangerous. Wandering around on ice that has fast running water under it is not a smart thing to do. I stuck to safe areas only. If I fell in, no one would be there to rescue me or call for help.

I had a hard time deciding which lens to use. I wanted to get the full scope of the place, yet wanted to get the fantastic details of the ice formations also.

I was so delighted with what I was seeing that I wanted to jump up and down and do a little dance.
I found myself holding my breath and enjoying the pounding noise of the river.

I did do a Happy Dance.
And no one saw it.

Then the sun came through the clouds and hit the water on the other side of the bridge.

It was magic.
And yes there was another little Happy Dance.

I was not going to regret any loss of sleep or extra travel time.

I decided to cross the bridge and take a quick look at the other side.

I was not disappointed at all. However I knew that I was running out of time and had to head towards the south west pretty soon.
I really did not want to leave.
I wanted to see what the day would bring here.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Home again update

I got home fairly late in the afternoon on Sunday as I had a midnight shift Sunday night.

Update on the 'kids' and their apartment fire. Everyone was safe and sound. 
My son's wife had gone to the Red Cross and received some funds for replacing some clothes and some other assistance.
For the moment they are living in their mom in law's house/downstairs apartment which is now very cramped. 
With a two and three year old that are rambunctious that doesn't make this anything but a temporary spot to stay.
At the moment, they sleep on the floor.
There will be assistance for them to help pay the first month's rent and a deposit when they do find a place. That is what Sam [son's wife] is working on. Something they may be able to afford.

I went shopping early Saturday morning at places like Nice As New in Wausau. I took Lily and we did some power shopping.
We made out very well with the used clothes and got the kids prepared for an outing.

One last stop at a sporting goods store for some sleds and we were ready. 

I had a grand plan. Let them play their hearts out while mom and dad were at work and I could then take them back to the motel and sort through the donated clothing from my neighbor with them.

We could watch a movie and have some quiet time.

The plan worked.

After modeling clothes and winding down. We had some quiet time. I got a movie on the Kindle and turned the volume down so they would have to be 'quiet' to hear it.
I can say that the next time I am asked to donate to the Red Cross or the Salvation Army, I will indeed do so.

At the moment, everyone has clothes and the donations for toiletries are coming in.
My son will be going back to see what else is salvageable soon. The building inspector doesn't want him in there until the structure above the apartment is deemed sound.

They were lucky. What do they need now for the future? Well, most of that is up to my son and his wife. They need to put their heads together and formulate a plan.

I thought I'd be helping with that or at least making suggestions, but apparently not. This is okay with me. They need to stand on their own two feet.

I'd like to jump in and give them advice, but the night guy at the motel and I were talking about that...grown children and advice.
He laughed and said, "We can talk until we are blue in the face...and still it may fall on deaf ears."

He couldn't have said it better. 
I went and helped out some.
I hugged the kids and Jer and Sam a lot... Lily too.

And I left Sunday at dawn.

I was 17 minutes from the Dells of Eau Claire, I was not going to miss a chance at seeing it with incredible ice formations.
But that is for another blog.

Thursday, February 09, 2017

The email you don't want to get

Well we were woken by Elena screaming at 430am. Our house was on fire. We are all out safely and at Judi's house until the all clear is given. Do not know the extent yet.

I really am not too sure as to what to write here. I am having the knee jerk reaction of running to the vehicle and racing to...oh, what?
They no longer have a place to live and I think...think? wonder... where do they go from here?
My son blames the wife. I told him not to make blame but to look forward and not backwards, as it does NO good to lay blame anyway.

I could have lost my son, his wife, and two grand kids. Why place blame at this point? Just thank the gods that be that the 3 yr old got up to go potty by herself and started screaming bloody murder. Hmmm, smoke detector had NO battery.
For the moment they are at the mom in law's apartment but I think they are in contact with the Red Cross as this makes them 'homeless'.

I don't know what happens next but I do know that I am so happy to know they are alive.
I am lucky that I have a wonderful rural neighbor who whipped through her kids drawers and closets and I've netted 3 big bags of clothes for the little ones.

I'll be leaving in the morning to see my youngest son, wife and kids. I just sort of need to put my arms around them. I'll stay at a motel and then be back on the farm by Sunday.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

In the works, Still life/Night Life

This is where I work. I decided to try a pretty cool thing that comes with the Olympus OMD E M5 camera. Live Time.  So I used a little tripod and pushed the button and...watched the photo appear on the screen.
Way cool.
I added some star specks and the little moon. Original is below.

This is a dam on the Mississippi River taken from a wayside.

Meanwhile I thought I needed a do over of some rose petals and rings. That didn't turn out so well so I went to plan B.

I did another ring instead and it looks like I'll have to redo this one also.

I blew the whites but I'm getting closer to what I want. I'll have to get another batch of flowers with roses in them. But, not until after Valentine's Day. They will be too expensive right now.

Well I decided to move on and try some other things.

Here I am doing the thinking pose while I toss around some ideas in my head.

I grab some items together. A vintage ruler, an old pitcher that I picked up from a flea market, a white rug, a ruler with advertising on it from the 1930's, and some flowers that were past their due date.

Fred would be very happy I think. Fred Flatow that is. I think that was his calling card in the 30's. On the flip side is a handy little ruler. Pretty neat right?

Finally I get something I am happy with. For fun I tossed the Lego Man into the coffee in the cup, along with a flower.
And I liked it better than any other shot I'd taken today.

And thus was born the Lego Man in the coffee.

I finished off the photo 'shoot' with two last items.

I wanted to go out and shoot the cropland and the icy sculptures in the moon light but alas.
The clouds have moved in.

Tomorrow is another day and hopefully I get out to do some more night photography soon.

Photos developed in ON1RAW2017.