Monday, November 30, 2009

She is Welcomed


Dinah or Dyna [Dynamite] has made herself at home with the other molly mules and the mares in our 'winter' pasture.
She has some definite likes.

Curry combs...she loves curry combs...so nice to scratch her with. Her lips move with pure joy and contentment.

When I leave the pasture, she nickers at me. I take this to be a very good sign.

Dyna or Miss Dyna as we call her brightens up the 'gal' pasture with her exotic and beautifully colored coat.

Some deer hunters stopped by to talk to my hubby yesterday and she was immediately 'spotted' and wowed over.

Today there is no work schedule for me...hunting season is over, and I'll put on my winter coveralls and go out and spend some fun time [after my honey-do's and chores, of course].

Enjoy your day.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Landmark...

This shed was built by a man named Pete Tigen about 100 years ago according to one of his great grandsons who is in the process of taking it down.

I am sad to see this relic go for a couple of reasons.

1st:
It marked a fork in the road and was easy to spot across the ridge in a snow storm. If you lined yourself up with this landmark during a snowstorm from the neighbor's farm, you'd be assured to stay on the road [which would be hidden].
At the shed, I would hang a left turn carefully and head towards the woods and my place.

2nd:
In my 'neighborhood' or ridgetop as it is known...the saying is...drive down Kolstad until you get to the shed and turn right or left...or...go past the Shed to the next place on your right...
or...
If you make it to an old shed, head south towards the woods...

You see, it existed before we had a road sign.

The road sign came after 2005.

Oh what stories this shed can tell.
On one cold December day during a snow storm, my youngest son proposed to a woman just inside of it. [they didn't marry~~no matter]

On many a cold blustery day while walking or riding I've had an occasion to seek shelter just inside of it also.

I've spent years photographing it from every single angle. Yet the Shed never ever seemed to be a boring subject.

Now it is down.
And I miss it terribly.

I told the Great Grandson that we in the 'neighborhood' felt almost as if we should erect a memorial.

'Ye Old Shed Stood Here'



My Flickr set of images...mostly of this shed:
The Shed

Friday, November 27, 2009

'X' Marks the spot

[I'm telling an 'old' story today....enjoy]

It was a special honor to get *picked* by Grandma to go fishing. It didn't happen very often. To go with Grandma you had to be...
tough.

We were up before dawn and hiked down the little trail through the woods to where the old wooden boat was chained to an old oak tree on the banks of Little Balsam Lake.

There was an old coffee can in the bottom of the boat. This was to bail out the accumulated rain water and any lake water that happened to seep in while we were fishing. Quietly we'd load the boat ~ Grandma wasn't a talker so she'd give me one word commands and point.

Grandma's gnarled hands would grasp the oars as I pushed off from the shore.
The world was predawn gray. The surrounding forest was still without color, soon to erupt into green and blues as the sun rose.

The birds on shore and in the sky would begin to sing. their morning songs as the oars dipped into the Lake water. We'd glide slowly across the water.

Grandma would look around peering at the lake as she rowed.

*Look for the 'X' I left out here last time,* she'd say.

I peered at the waters, desperately trying to find the 'X'.

*Find it?
See it?*

She'd keep rowing, the cane fishing poles would rattle gently with each stroke.

*I know I left it here somewhere,* she'd say.

*I can't see it Grandma,* I finally admitted.

Grandma stopped rowing and leaned slightly ... dipping her finger into the water.

*But I drew it just like this,* she said and demonstrated by making an X with her finger on the surface of the Lake.

I wanted to tell her that an X like that wouldn't stay, that she was silly...but I remained quiet.

She rowed a bit more and finally proclaimed, *Here we are.*

We'd set anchor and commence to fishing. The sun would rise and the air would turn warm, and the fish would bite [sometimes].

It took me a while to learn that the 'X's' were not real, but favorite spots that Grandma had around the lake.

This summer while fishing with my husband and not getting a single bite...he said to me, *I thought you said this was a good spot!*

I shrugged and dipped forward, dragging my finger through the water.

*Hmmm, someone must have moved my 'X'.*

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Baking

I'm pretty sure I'm not good at baking.

Today just topped it off.

How easy is it to make a box mix of brownies???

I mean, come on ...2 eggs, 1/4 cup of water, and 1/2 cup oil...
mix

dump in pan...

and bake.

Right?

What happens if you get things backwards like...1/2 cup of water and 1/4 cup of oil?
You bake it and it looks like a mess...all lumpy.

I tasted it, and while it tastes similar to what a brownie should conceptually taste like...
it isn't really very good.

I wonder if chickens like screwed up brownies [after all, those yard hens of mine eat just about anything I toss out as scraps...]

Sigh.

As my kids used to say...

Mom's cooking!!! The smoke alarm is going off!

The Big Creek



*Pressure howls, 'No Fair', when she finds out that Morris, Happy, and Crazy are going on an adventure to the Big Creek.* ~~Excerpt from The Big Creek, a book written for my Grandchildren.


I must admit that working with animals, stuffed toys, and Morris has proven to be somewhat of an interesting challenge.

Yet making the story books for the Grandchildren is very satisfying and fun.
The story usually stems from a Grandchild visit.

When we take the Grandkids on a walk or little hike around our woods or pastures, I take the 'adventure' they had and create a story based on it.

This way the Grandchildren can relate to the story with Morris and his toys. Of course including the farm animals that they know and love always adds a personal touch for them.

I'm surprised at how good all of these live actor 'animals' have been for helping me create this little story book.

If I could draw, I'd probably illustrate it, but working with the camera has been more fun. My husband sometimes wonders if I've lost my marbles.

But I know how much the kids loved their books last Christmas...
so I guess I'm not that crazy after all?


Monday, November 23, 2009

Finished and ordered


I've been working on this book for a long time...in fact I got this idea in my head last fall.

Wouldn't it be fun to go out as often as possible for a hike, walk, or ride in the woods that surround me and take pictures of the wildflowers and plants as they emerged?

Okay, maybe not fun for you.
But it sure was a learning experience for me.

I've spent countless hours working on organizing my 'field notes', trying to organize my 'Wildthings' File which holds nearly 300 photos [not all of them used of course].

Was I able to identify all the wildflowers? Heck no.
Did I feel like it was work? Heck NO!

This surely was a labor of love, a test of persistence, and a true test of my organizational skills.
[hmmmmm~I learned to be more organized with my photo files...dates matter!]

You can take a peek at it at the following link:
The Enchanted Forest~~

or simply click on the 'badge' in the upper right hand column.

There are 142 pages, approximately 200 photos, and several 'blurbs' from me regarding the adventure of it all.

I know that I'll be quite tickled to have it and be able to page through it for years to come.

Oh yeah...and now to work on the newest adventure with Morris and his toys...
'The Big Creek'....

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Deer Hunting in WI

What can I say?
The woods are full of Bucks in Rut
~~ and Men in Strut...

This morning my hubby and I walked out together before dawn arrived.
[This is the first time ever that I've participated as a hunter.
Don't get me wrong I think deer are beautiful, but I am a carnivore who really happens to like venison in my freezer.
I thought that I'd go ahead and do this thing called hunting.]

I found a spot to sit and waited, listening.
First, I heard a cardinal begin a song...a chickadee chimed in as the darkness began to lift.
The skies were gray and every once in a while little spurts of rain would fall making 'ticking' noises around me.

In front of me was our valley and creek bottom. This is the place I wander all of the time with my camera and I fairly much know each nook and cranny, each rock and tree. So I sat watching the deer trail that wound in front of me and let my eyes drift in the gray light.
A squirrel came down from an old oak and pounced through the leaves. It sounded like an elephant in the quiet forest.
So surprising to just sit and listen~

I was at the 'bottom' of the gelding mules pasture, so I didn't think much of the soft footfalls behind me.
Until I turned....
...and saw a doe slipping through the tangled mess of windblown tops of old trees.

I just watched her slip through the pasture. I couldn't shoot as it would have been towards where the mule boys were chomping happily on their round bale of hay...and towards our house and shed.

I had to silently chuckle. I'd been outfoxed by lady luck.
This doe deserved a 'pass'.

I turned back towards the creek bottom and listened and watched.
What a really beautiful morning.

Friday, November 20, 2009

November can be pretty~~





I never really like November~it is an ugly dull and dismal month. It comes after October's big splash of riotous colors and precedes the snows of winter.

But yesterday changed that...

I decided to go out under gray skies that threatened a cold November rain and walk. The woods seemed muffled, even the leaves on the forest floor were muffled under my footsteps from the recent rain.

I knelt down and pushed aside old oak and maple leaves with my finger. I realised that after the snow fell, I wouldn't be able to smell the damp earthy scents for quite a while.
Morris ran by with his nose to the ground, even his steps were quiet. Somewhere in the grayness, a crow cawed.

The leaf patterns were pretty, in fact perhaps even a bit beautiful. Colors I hadn't noticed before were there, but subdued.
The woods had no sense of urgency as it did in the Spring. The forest felt at peace, as if resting and preparing for a nap. Which of course it was in a way. It needed to regain its strength and energy to burst forth again under the spring's warm sunlight.

I closed my eyes and then re-opened them, seeing the forest in a new way.

The log I sat on was brilliantly covered with lichen and moss.
It had always been this way, but during the 'green' months its beauty had been hidden by the lushness around it.
The drab brown carpet of leaves now served as a backdrop to moss covered rocks and wood.

Colors and interesting things really were there, if you took the time to look...

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Happiness is....










Play time...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Musing over a fellow Blogger's Posted Question


"Do you have any thoughts on fate vs. function and purpose?" from Mancos Mule MJ


Well last night was a midnight to 8am shift for me at the Power Plant. [For those who have recently begun to follow me~I am a Security Guard at a Decommissioned Nuclear Power Plant that is now also a Coal Fired Plant]

My hours are sometimes very odd. As unpleasant as that can sometimes be, it also has some perks.
Last night I was able to sit in my 'Alarm' station and talk with another part time guard during the wee hours of the morning.

We try to have meaningful discussions to keep us awake of course.
I posed this question to him, along with another from MJ's site:

"How much do you leave up to fate in regards to what your future holds for you? On the other hand, how much do you, or should you, influence your goals and take the proverbial “bull by the horns” to make that journey into your future happen?"

Our conversation took up a good part of the morning hours, each of us putting in our thoughts.
We did come up in agreement on one point although some of our views were different.

We agreed that as long as we had a roof over our heads, adequate food, and time to pursue those things that made us happy, we would be happy.

I'd influence my long term and short term goals to achieve the ability to pursue photography, exploring life with my mules and pets...and work on maintaining my health.

[Interestingly enough, neither one of us addressed what our goals were for 'our golden years'. Oversight or avoidance?]

I know lofty ideas. But lofty ideas come at the wee hours of the morning don't they?

Fate landed me my job as a Security Guard, it was my own decision and personal effort to pursue it to a slightly higher level.
Over the years I've had many jobs and worn many hats, by fate and opportunity.
My goals however, have fairly much remained the same.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Successful Day


My Qualification's Test went wonderfully. I scored very well. A 292 out of 300 points.

I can add 'target' shooting with a Glock .40mm to my list of accomplishments. I also scored 62 out of 72 points with a .12 gauge shot gun at 25 yards.

So now when I go out in the woods and I carry both a .22 pistol and cameras...ha ha!

I
can
shoot!

But life is not about scores and points...at least mine isn't.

Today, I'm looking at the gloomy sky and thinking about this fall..this winter..and all the new adventures just awaiting me around the corner.

;-)

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Puppy gets a name~busy day!

It was a rather busy day for me yesterday.
Dottie got her name.
Dottie got introduced to Morris and they had supervised 'playtime', which went very well as Morris was such the gentleman.
He set the play rules right away...and then allowed her to knock him down and tackle him.

Sigh.
Morris is such an interesting Jack Russell.









Then it was onto the woods...

Morris, Badger, and I rode into the back valley.

I used my Wintec 2000 saddle and was extremely comfortable in it~we went up and down some pretty steep hillsides and across some pretty 'gnarly' ravine crossings.

I was pleased with the comfort of the saddle and the fact that it didn't move around [no crupper or breast collar!].

We saw a most magnificent old buck, and strolled the forest and creeks bottoms.

Until dark, I practiced my shooting course. I was extremely satisfied with my results.
Today I go to the Range and shoot the State Qualification Course.

The next 5 days are going to be hectic with my oddball work schedule. So I tried to jam all my fun into one day.
Did I get it done?
I certainly hope so!

PS: Morris was TIRED!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

This is me...strange.


I love the outdoors.
I love photography.
I like puppies, dogs, mules, horses...animals.
I like art.
I am a softy with a big heart [my own opinion, of course].
I have worked in the service field as a waitress, an insurance underwriter, a gas pump jockey, a bank teller, and a receptionist in a doctor's office, amongst other things.

Now I work in Security~~
Yesterday I trained at the range with a Glock 40mm.
And I really really enjoyed it.
I shot well.
A score of 290 out of 300 for the Qualification Course.

This morning I get up and the things on my mind of course is going out to feed 'Puppy', do chores, take a hike, ride Badger, and then practice my pistol skills.

I don't think I'm the normal 53 year old typical woman.
Nope, not at all.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Puppy has arrived!!!!






No story tonight...just pictures of an 8 week old Black and Tan Hound Puppy~~~~
Enjoy and know that she is loved...

Good Eggs Make Good Neighbors



OHHH.

Okay, I did have something wonderful [perhaps not thought provoking though] to write about this morning!

Eggs and chickens...and neighbors.

I live in an area where we have 4 neighbors, 4 households. Each of us are very different in nature and are all good country neighbors.
Need help?
Call a neighbor.

It works that way here.
About 2 months ago I was given 8 hens by a co-worker. I lost 2 hens the first day [these were free range chickens]. 2 more hens went wandering and disappeared in the next two weeks.

I now have 4 hens.
And these gals right now love to lay eggs, in fact, I get 3 to 4 a day.
Wayyyyy to many for me and hubby to eat.

These hens love to lay their eggs in the strangest of spots. They like old machinery and tractor chains for some reason. Half the fun is finding the eggs, the other big pleasure my husband has ~~ is that the hens follow him around on his morning chores and cluck at him, waiting for him to shuck some field corn.

The hens are great about cleaning up table scraps also.

Anyway I call up my neighbors and deliver eggs. No charge. Just because it gives me pleasure and it gives them pleasure.

Last night I had a message on my answering machine. A neighbor was inquiring about eggs.
If I had a dozen she'd gladly take them...if I could spare a few more, she'd bake a treat and trade for it.

Hmmmmm

She is a wonderful cook.

I'll be delivering 2 dozen brown beautiful hen 'fruits' this morning and awaiting my tasty treat!

How fun!

Good Morning!




Good Morning~~

I haven't had a 'day shift' for quite a while. So I was quite pleased that on my way to work, I was able to stop and take some sunrise photos.
I didn't realize how much I missed getting up early and watching the sun brighten the horizon.

Lucky for me that I had my old digital camera in my bag and was able to pull off a few places to 'catch' the morning glow.

I don't have anything thought provoking and enlightening to post about today.
Our weather is supposed to be mild for the next few days so I expect that after an 8 hour day on the Range [weapons training for work] tomorrow...

that Wednesday I am looking forward to taking both Badger AND Morris on a nice long adventure.

Hubby and I are driving to Illinois today to pick up an 8 week old Black and Tan Hound Puppy.
I don't know why we 'need' this puppy. But hubby is smart enough to know that my heart melts when I get a puppy in my lap.

Plus, what the heck, Morris will have a young pup to accompany us on our hikes this winter~~this all will create some fun...

and some interesting photos, right?

Watch for puppy pics!

Friday, November 06, 2009

Wandering along




Today was a day for wandering in the November fall air. It was warm enough that I didn't have to bundle up in multiple layers of clothing.

Morris and I headed for the creek bottom.
Seems we almost always end up there. Must be the soothing noises of the water trickling over the rocks.

My favorite shot of the whole day was the top photo.
Nightshade fruits, bright red against the backdrop of the inside of an old manure spreader that has been abandoned by the creek.

The winds were furious above us on the ridge ... Morris and I happily soaked up the late autumn sunshine and enjoyed our hike.

He is sleeping, a content Jack Russell [shhh, I think he is even snoring a bit...]

My mules are getting shaggy, putting on heavy winter coats and of course taking every advantage of muddy spots to roll in.

I won't get the pleasure of having free time to hike again until next week some time.

By then I'll be going bonkers to get into the forest and play.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Topaz Detail~my review

I decided to try the Topaz Detail Trial version which is a free 30 day trail. It is a plug-in that works with my Adobe Elements 5 version of photo software.

I've found it pretty handy when editing some photos that I'd like a bit 'more' detail in than what the camera 'shot'.
You can adjust the amount of detail a lot or just a little. You can adjust color, exposure...hue and saturation. You can go wild or just use it a little.
It works well with some photos, and doesn't work well with other types. So you have to choose wisely.


It can be used creatively also, but I like to use it just enough to tweak a photo like the following Marsh Marigold.
This was an extremely difficult flower to shoot at the yellow petals reflect so brightly that it actually blows the sensors away in the camera. I had difficulty shooting these with film also, so it isn't just digital.

Here is the original:

Here is the tweaked version:


Then for fun, I took the following fungi shot and got a little creative with it.

Original:

Fun:

For my photo book that I am working on, I will admit to using Elements, Picasa, and Topaz to bring out the best in my photos.

Most of the photos however, I am leaving alone.
After all, I hear my father leaning over me as I look through the lens, or peer at a photo that I have taken.
"Take your time, get the exposure right, frame it properly..."
He was a true believer in taking it 'properly' the first time. I grew up watching him labor over one shot at a time.
He still influences me every day.