Thursday, November 30, 2017

This and That

What a welcome surprise. Nice unusual weather.
Dry and warm.
The National Weather Service has issued advisories however that this warm dry spell has increased our fire danger.

However we are taking full advantage of it.

Last minute fence repairs before mother nature blasts us with subzero temperatures and snow.

Moving the round bale feeders.
I do love a guy who can operate a skid steer!

Morris supervised from the porch. He had been sleeping on the blanket I gave him but decided to start barking at everything. I brought out his crate and he went in it.
His imagined monsters can't get him in the crate.
He settled down and napped when he wasn't watching.

Rich and I pulled fencing from the Merry Meadow. The work to maintain the fencing is now too large of a job. Mowing the meadow wasn't done this year and since it isn't our land I'm willing to just let it grow wild again.
It served a good purpose for years, however the more things stay...the same, the more they change.

We met with Rich's speech therapist again yesterday. She gave us some insights to the 'new' Normal. I do not like that phrase Your New Normal, but it is appropriate.
COPD affects so many things. She enlightened us to the fact that the brain uses 20% of the oxygen in the body. When short of breath from exertion, the brain is getting shorted also. An already damaged brain from a stroke is fighting harder to get its oxygen.
Confusion and memory issues immediately arise.
If left short of that wonderful 02, more brain damage can result.

It helps me understand what is happening to Rich when he is trying so hard to do chores. He is not a quitter. But it helps me understand why he feels lost when he is out of breath.
COPD is an insidious disease that forgives no one. You cannot escape it and as it slowly eats away at your health.

Our new thoughts to take home from Speech Therapy are these two things:
I am Rich, I am "As Is."
The more things stay the same, the more they change.
[Yes that is the exact opposite of the saying, but this fits better in our case.]

It seems that some or most of the work will fall into my hands for getting everything ready for winter.
I'm up to most of the task.

The Dexters we are keeping will move into the paddock just south of the house where they can share a 300 gallon heated stock tank of water with the equine who will be in their winter pasture also.
One heated tank. One hose to fill it. The chores will become much more manageable through the cold.

Mr. Morris seems to be doing fair. Yesterday the neighbor and her son came to let him out for a potty break and drink of water. Morris apparently didn't 'see' the porch post until he ran into it. He has done this off and on lately. I don't know if he really has doggy dementia or what. I do know that his hearing is negligible and that his eyesight seems at times to be a bit questionable.

However, all of this and that aside, we are having an incredible end to November.
The skies have delighted us with morning and evening surprises of brilliant colors.

And thus, another month ends.
Tomorrow is December.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Disturbing Trend in Nature Photography and Social Media.

Have a camera? Have a cell phone? Now you can take selfies in all of those iconic and wonderful places you see in brochures or find photos of tagged on the internet.
Arches National Monument? Oh why not join 40 or 50 other people at sunset to take photos at the Arches? While there, you may as well climb and walk on the arch and take selfies.

I heard from a professional photographer about his frustration and going to certain locations around the states as to how he is now dealing with crowds. I belong to a Facebook group that is for Wisconsin Photographers. The posts are rather interesting.
Someone takes an incredible photo of landscape and instantly there are questions. "Where is that location?" I see the same place photographed over and over. It may be a lighthouse along the shores of Lake Michigan, the Apostle Islands shore, or rock along the Wisconsin River.

A few years ago Social Media posted a little known State Natural Area outside of Baraboo called Pewitt's Nest. Suddenly it became an internet sensation.
I explored the area in the winter four years ago and it was worth the trip.

Last spring I revisited the area and was aghast. So many people had visited it that most of the undergrowth was killed from foot traffic. People didn't stay on the trails as the signs requested. The site was shut down so that the DNR could build trails and lookouts. However people are still sneaking in to take photos. One person posted that he was fined...but HE got the shot! Others applauded him on the FB site.

Me? I was disturbed by this new photographers' mentality. It is okay to trespass to get that shot!

I shared these photos and received questions. "Where was this taken?" A private message went something like this: "Ms. Ewing, can we get together and you take me around your county to show me some of the great places to photograph? I can pay you to tour with you."

I answered as diplomatically as possible to the 'Where was this taken?' Vernon County.
As to the private message, I viewed it and didn't respond.

I feel pretty protective of the public places I do visit and take photos of. I recommend people to explore the Vernon County Parks and State Parks in our area. But will I tell the exact location of my most favorite morning spot to the Internet World? Nope. Not after what I saw at Pewitt's Nest.

Mornings are for thoughtful solitude. Not for fighting for a view of the sky.

Photo courtesy of Amanda Clausen

However sharing those special moments with close friends is exceptional. To see the wonder in their eyes as the morning or....night sky unfolds is an experience.
Maybe that is why these things are shared on Social Media.

Look what I saw!

To what end though?

I guess this is something I feel so strongly about.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Christmas Chair, it is that time again...

This year the *chair* is going in a different spot. I thought I'd do something different again.

It begins with a worn out chair, the same one I tried to refinish years ago. I gave up on it because it had so many layers of paint on it. The crack in the seat just got worse and worse. I tried to glue it but it fell apart. I left the chair in the little red shed to be forgotten.
Until I was sparked with an odd idea.

Things have changed since I first pulled out that ugly chair.

I don't ever start with a plan. This year I had collected sticks while walking with Morris. I looked for odd sticks and ordinary sticks. I added knobbin' knockers to my sticks and painted them.
I wasn't exactly sure why, but I thought eventually they might be useful.

I used small twigs from those awful Buckthorn trees, painted and stuck in an old fancy sewing machine drawer with lights and ribbons.

Prancing ponies on Branches.

I used small rocks in a plastic pot that I spray painted gold. The rocks just didn't hold the branches in place. Finally I used elbow macaroni in plastic bags to tuck around the branches in the pot. Steady as she goes! The baggies are hidden by a dynamite crate that is in front of it.

A piece of Driftwood from a photography trip I took with some good friends this past April. It just begged to be with the old wooden crates.

The Christmas Chair. Here it is with the carousel horse.

That space under the chair. Lights, bottles, ribbons, and a bead garland.

I've collected ribbons over the years that were unique or just plain beautiful. I use them as part of the decorations.

This year I brought in the Gnome.
I wanted an Elf on the Shelf to have some fun with. However while walking about in Westby last weekend I happened upon this Gnome.

Elf on the Shelf. Hmmm.

Well, I have the Gnome in the Home. 
I think he will be very active in moving around the house this year....
Here he is ... I imagine, talking with one of the Toy Bears.

Here is a shot from last night. I've already moved things around again and set them up differently.
The process of my decorations is generally ever changing.

And the Gnome?
He is always up to something....

Happy Decorating!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thankful stuff.

I know, it is pretty corny... every where I look on Social Media people are posting things they are Thankful for.
I wonder if sometimes we don't really lose focus of what Thanksgiving is really for.

Big Meals and Football?
That seems to be the thing. Turkey, dressing, lots of people, lots to eat, and so much chatter.
In years past we gathered at my mother in law's house. The family was not scattered as it is now. Family joined together.

In more recent years the celebration of Thanksgiving has become something else. After all, it is during The Big Hunt Season.

There is no family gathering. I mean, who wants to 'gather' at my house when you have to wear blaze orange to run around the yard?

[And that trophy buck may be walking through my woods???]

I'm not opposed to the hunting. I am opposed to many of the idiots who aren't careful while hunting.

I don't like turkey as a rule anyway. I mean I wouldn't object to cooking a turkey breast and having some stuffing and a salad, but not the monstrous turkey that so many have for Thanksgiving.

This is the part where I'm supposed to be Thankful.

I am thankful that I am now home full time taking care of Rich and that I can be. I am thankful that we have great friends. I am thankful for my family who I miss.
This isn't going the right way.

I am thankful that the vet helped us with Morris and that I still have him with us being a nag. I am thankful that I could spend most of yesterday working on making the Christmas Chair again this year.
I am no good at this.

I am thankful that Siera is such a good mule that kids can ride her safely.
I am thankful that ... um.

Oh heck.
I think I should just quit while I am ahead.

There are all sorts of fine things that happened in the past year and I am just going to say ... life is not too bad.
And for that, I am thankful.

And...that's all folks!

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Opening Morning ~ Dawn.

Friday afternoon the K-town gang arrived. Scout and the kids piled out of the Subaru and hugs were shared by all.
Morris and Scout nosed each other and then trotted off to make their marks in the yard.

I watched in amazement as they began to unpack. I'd cleared the counter in the corner of the kitchen for what I've dubbed as the 'Clausen Corner'. It seemed as though I may have to expand the corner as they'd brought a ton of bread and food.

Eventually everything that was supposed to come in had been deposited in place. By now we'd gotten into a routine. The girls knew exactly where to set their things. They changed into outdoor clothes and ran outside to enjoy what was left of the daylight and the last day for the ... next 9 days of Gun Deer Season/Thanksgiving Week.

It was rather nice outside so the 'Men Folk' visited while the 'Women Folk' visited. The guys started talking about strategy and hunting. The purpose of the trip was to get meat for the family. Of course the guys talked about all the monster bucks I'd captured on the trail camera.

I laughed and said something to the effect that "They will all be in hiding from pre dawn until the sunsets on the last day of hunting season."
I got looks from the 'Men Folk'.  Earlier this week I'd seen about 10 nice bucks on my walk with Dixie through the woods.

This photo got the 'Men Folk' pretty excited though...
I couldn't blame them. This buck is in direct line with the Clausen Deer Stand.

Of course I'd gotten shots of others too.

These shots caused 'buck fever' for all of those who happened to see them.

Over supper we all talked about deer, bucks, hunting, and the weather. There was a feeling of anticipation in the air.

Everyone went to bed early. It would be a predawn morning.

Whispers in the morning. Fresh coffee. Sorting clothes and pulling out 'Hot Hands' to keep warm. Checking pockets, packing sandwhiches and bottled water. Filling a back pack.

These guys were staying put in the stand once they got there. I smiled as I poured coffee and the hunters whispered getting ready.
I loved the electricity that zapped unseen through the house as they dressed. I never go out on opening morning.
I'm the farm caretaker for this day each year.

My job is to make sure that the hunters have something to eat and a place to warm themselves when they come in from the woods. Over the years we've only had a few folks come and hunt. My brother in law did a few times, and Rich's daughter did too. Other than that, it has always just been Rich.
This year however our friends from the east side of the state said they'd hunt with Rich and help out. Plus they were looking to fill their freezer with venison.

I have to say that last year's harvest provided us with months of very good eating. Deer Harvest feeds people.

Daryl and Amanda slid out the door quietly and headed to the woods. The Hunt was about to begin.
I poured a cup of coffee and sat down to enjoy some quiet before dawn.

Friday, November 17, 2017

I stole this idea...

I saw a post on Facebook titled FriendsGiving. My son was tagged in it and I realized that he and his friends must have gotten all together to visit and share a nice meal.

What a great idea.
Saturday is opening day for the annual Wisconsin Gun Deer Season. It is like a sacred day for hunters.
They clean their rifles, check their scopes, hang out the blaze orange coats, and make final preparations for the Big Day.

I normally do not go anywhere on opening day. Period. The shots ring out and the deer are running like crazy either from the Rut or from hunters. Last year two deer provided 6 people with enough meat to last one year. Imagine that.
The hunt season runs through Thanksgiving weekend.

Our friends from the other side of the state are coming out to hunt with Rich. Rich was sure that he'd never hunt again after his stroke. Yesterday he was busy getting things organized for opening day. There is no doubt in my mind that he will be hunting. Our K-town friends are coming for a long weekend.
This way if Rich does get a deer, we have extra hands to help.

Daryl suggested we do a *Thanksgiving* together. I saw the idea on FB and changed it up to *FriendsGiving*.
There is something good about being able to hunt to provide for your family. The deer population is quite large. Ask anyone who has had a deer-vehicle accident, and they will tell you how awful it is.

Friends. It will be nice to have friends to sit down with and have a celebrated meal together.

I can't recall the last time we had a meal with family on a holiday like Thanksgiving or Christmas.

The house is ready for the coming chaos of kids, dogs, and adults all going every which way. I'm looking forward to it.
This morning I'll be making some homemade bread, cheesy bread and cinnamon bread.

Our kitchen table will once again be graced by friends, we'll sit around the table and chew the fat. Everyone this evening will be talking about the upcoming hunt. I'll be doing the cooking and the chores.
The house will be full of conversation and laughter.

And that is how it should be.
I am glad I 'stole' this idea.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Dixie Saves the Day

It was cold, misty, and foggy. I still had a bunch of milkweed pods I wanted to get and I knew there were some I could find in the soybean field between the contour strips nearby.
It was only a 15 to 20 minute hike.

I decided to take Dixie the hound dog since she would end up being confined during the 9 day deer gun season. It had been a while since I'd taken her off the farm for a walk. A long time!
How would she do? Would she behave on a leash?

I clipped an old lead rope to her collar. She pulled a little bit at first and then settled into almost a perfect heel. I was so pleased that she remembered her manners.

Off we went. Dixie trotted alongside me swinging her head back and forth as her nose worked the air. As a hound, I'm sure she was investigating the 'air' off the farm. Since we were on a field road, I let her off leash. She promptly ran like a puppy in large circles stopping to smell the aromas that lingered in the damp air.
She didn't mind the misty fog at all.
I found the milkweed pods and began to clip them to length.

Dixie ran up and smelled what I was doing and then ran back out onto the picked soybean field.
I whistled and waved to her. She ran up to me.
"Dixie, sit!"
Dixie stared at me and trotted around me.
"Dixie! Sit!" I made a motion and tapped her hindquarters with my hand.
She instantly sat and looked up at me. I reached down and loved her up. She groaned.
I decided to follow the snow mobile trail down into the valley. I could always go up the creek to the trail that led back home.
It was the long way, but what the heck, I had Dixie with me and having company in the Wild Woods is a nice thing.

It is fun to have her along. She is exuberant in all she does.

We hiked the trail down into the valley.
Dixie would run ahead and then race back to me.

I thought we might get into some trouble when 3 nice doe bounded across the trail in front of her. She stopped and whined and looked after the deer. I whistled and yelled out "NO!" Dogs who chase deer are frowned upon in our area, especially only a few days before gun season.

She wanted to hunt and chase, that is her nature. But she wasn't sure. I squatted down and whistled again.
Dixie charged like a bullet. She ran up to me and past me. Then touched me and let me love her up.
Off she went again to lead the way and let her nose do some investigating.

We explored the damage done by the spring flash floods to the snow mobile crossing. The culvert had been washed away and repeated hard rains had made the creek cut in at least 6 feet below the crossing. The gap had widened considerably. I don't think the owners of the land even knew this was washed away. I guess they'd get a surprise come Saturday morning when they drove their trucks or 4 wheelers in. No access to the rest of the land by vehicle any more.

Upstream the creek spreads out but it is more like a swamp. A person can walk through it and I've ridden with Ariel and the mules through it, but a 4 wheeler or road vehicle is not going to get through the deep sucking mud.

Dixie and I went upstream. Just before we got to the Willows, 4 bucks crashed up out of the brambles and headed up the steep valley hill. Dixie ran to follow but crashed into the thick briers and brambles. My whistle stopped her.
She came back.
I put her on the lead rope.
"Oh Dixie," I said petting her. She wagged her whole body. "Now I'm going to put you on a tight rope. I don't think you'll be able to contain yourself if we pop up more deer!"

We came to a creek crossing. I didn't want to get my feet any wetter than they were, so I jumped. Dixie jumped with me. I was grateful that the big lug hadn't taken that moment to knock into me while on the lead rope.

I took a reroute along a deer trail to keep from walking in the creek. I reached into my coveralls pocket for the pink camera that I normally carry and it wasn't there. My first thought was. Good! I lost it! I can finally replace it!
My next thought was, Dang I had some fun shots of Dixie on it!

I set the bouquet of milkweed pods down and turned Dixie and I around. We had to go find the camera. I probably lost it in the big leap over the creek.
I wonder if it landed in the creek? I'd dropped it years ago in nearly the same place.

I started back the same way I came. Dixie now seemed to have a purpose. I let her lead me as she seemed intent on smelling her way back. She did retrace our steps and when we got to the spot I'd jumped the creek? She bore down and tried to pick something up ...

I plucked the pink camera out of the muck and zipped it into my pocket.
I loved Dixie up and let her off lead.

Time to head home.

Okay. Dixie never really 'saved the day'. But she was fun to have along. She was obedient and fun. I really needed to take her hiking more often. Especially since Morris can't really go anymore.

I wonder how she'd do with our friend's dog Scout?

Well, that remains to be seen.
Dixie is as always, a fine and wonderful dog. She simply IS. And that is good for me.
And that camera? It still works just fine.
Sigh. It is 8 yrs old and I'd really like one a bit better...

Dixie and I hiking together. Caught on our Trail Cam.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Domestic Goddess

Good grief and good lord!

What have I done?
I found myself looking up recipes on line for bread. It all started because I thought it would be nice to have a 'Bread Machine'.  I watched the videos on how to use certain ones and then Rich and I decided that since the machines were big and my kitchen is still small, that I'd try it the old fashioned way.

I haven't been a fan of baking or doing any cooking for years. Simply put, I didn't have time and I didn't have the space in my teeny tiny kitchen. With the new kitchen [which I love!] I did do more.
However it wasn't until I wasn't working those odd and strange shifts back to back and all over the map, that I decided to actually put my 'new' kitchen to use.

This summer found me canning jellies, tomatoes, making salsa, chili starter, and dehydrating everything I could get my hands on. Rich commented one time that he would have remodeled the entire house if he'd known I could cook like...this!

Ugh. When the weather is warm I prefer not to cook. But when it is cold? I guess I am finding it ... not so terrible.
I took Morris for a nice long walk, we did nearly 3 miles on the gravel road. Yes, Morris was bouncy and happy to sniff and mark anything he could. I was surprised at the amount of coyote droppings on the road.

So, when we got back, I helped with chores and then began.
Rich stood behind me watching in awe and subdued wonder.

He kept pinching himself and then me to see if we were dreaming. I threatened to toss flour in his face if he didn't stop with the Peanut Gallery comments.

I found out that I haven't forgotten how to make the bread. My hands remembered it well. I used the quick rise yeast to make things a bit easier and had pulled a basic bread recipe off from Fleischmann's website. I was concerned that it would hurt with the painful arthritis in my fingers and wrist. The kneading wasn't bad, the clean up was painful.

However I do have a devious plan.

Rich really went crazy for the fresh bread. He attacked the smaller loaf with a hungry vengeance.
If I get him 'hooked' on fresh breads, he would purchase the smaller of the bread makers. Well, he may.
The only drawback is I do like the hands on approach. And I don't want to keep an appliance like that on the counter all of the time.

It gets worse.
I am looking at making cheesy dinner bread for this weekend and recalling with great fondness how I used to make cinnamon and sugar bread so very long ago.

How long?
1978. That long.

I may even break out those mixing type things with little measuring type thingies I found when unpacking the boxes from the remodel.

This could be a wondrous thing.

But shhhhhhhh
don't tell anyone!

It would ruin my reputation.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Expensive Tripod. Well No.

I've ordered a replacement part for my absolutely most ever favorite tripod last week. About 7 years ago I picked up a Vanguard tripod that was on sale at Cabelas. It was a short one that was lightweight and sturdy.
It was camouflaged too.
Sometime this spring while in the woods I took out a different tripod and had to change the quick release.
I either dropped the Vanguard release on the ground or...the dog ate it.

I thought, no problem, I can do without it.

Nah. I hate doing without it.  However, while thinking about some of those low to the ground shots I wanted to do with my Olympus OM5, I came up with something else to use.

I'd read somewhere that using a bean bag would work. I didn't want to carry a bean bag. I thought of a little cloth bag of rice. Then discarded that idea fully as I am almost always in the creek when I walk. A bag of rice would get wet. Besides, I only had macaroni in cupboard.

How about a plastic bag of macaroni?


I wanted to take some photos of things near the forest floor and because of the poor lighting [very late in the day] I needed something to stabilize the camera.
Macaroni in a zip lock bag.

Now I did look up what it would cost me to get a similar tripod as sturdy as the one I had. And whew. It was not exactly cheap!

However until the replacement part arrives, I can get along with some macaroni. In fact I may get some cheap quick cook rice if it is lighter and use it. The plastic bag is sealed and doesn't get wet which is a bonus when you are setting things on snow or wet rocks.

And indeed, you can get low to the ground.

Or lay a camera safely on a damp mossy rock.

So there you have it, a DIY super low and stable non tripod tripod.

I'm thinking M&M's for those photographers who need a chocolate pick me up in their camera bag? Or trail mix?

Sunday, November 12, 2017

The Colorless Season is Here

It is hard to get a 'landscape' photo in the woods. There is too much clutter in the summer with all of the undergrowth. I do love this time of the year when the woods seem barren and bleak. I can see the shape of the land in the fall and winter.

I am now doing daily hikes or daily walks. I either go into the woods and explore or Morris and I walk along the gravel road if it is not too cold for him.

Yesterday was cold but not quite as cold as the day before when the median air temperatures were 12 degrees. However I went to the creek hoping to find a couple of places where the grass hangs over the water's edge. The splashing water from the creek freezes into beautiful odd shapes.

For lack of a better name, I call them Ice Fingers. They are small but beautiful.

I found 2 well developed bunches on my walk yesterday, this one and another.

View from further away and in color.

I wanted to go further into the valley but decided not to. I needed to get back and make sure the stock tank was filled. Rich seems to forget to tend to these things since the stroke.
Most of the hike back is uphill which gives me a great work out. Last year I'd have to stop part of the way up the hill for a breather. Yesterday I found myself full of energy.

I'm guessing the fact that I don't work odd hours anymore and get regular sleep has helped tremendously. That along with meals that are better thought out have improved how I feel. The hiking/walking is paying off!

I always love the creek at any time of the year. It is constantly changing and never the same.

There is always a spot to stop and look at interesting reflections. If I stop and stand or sit quietly, there is a chance I can spot a trout.

And there is always places where I can find mini water falls.
These too change each year.
This one is my new favorite created by the flash flooding last year.

I always leave the creek with a bit of remorse. I could literally spend hours there just looking for neat rocks and enjoying the noise of the water over the them.
It is like a siren song to me.
There is nothing more beautiful.

Alas. Home duties call and I have to bid ado to the creek until next time.

It may seem like there is no color in most of the woods, but there is plenty if you look for it.