Thursday, November 29, 2018

Big Adventure!

"Okay Charlie, you take care of Dad," I said as I donned my coat and made a last second check of my camera stuff.

I was only going to take my 35mm lens, it works well for night photography and I've used it for shooting the Milkway with some success.
I didn't grab the better of the two tripods and settled with the one that I trek through the woods with.

I was a bit nervous about one...meeting up with other photographers, but I figured Kristi would probably be there. [Kristi was the one I met at the fair and she told me about the Camera Club.] I got there a bit early and joined some men sitting just outside the room the club met in.
I was also a bit hesitant to leave Rich and Charlie on their own. Would Rich hear Charlie when he had to go potty? He usually doesn't even though they are only a few feet apart. Rich can be so engrossed in watching whatever program is on, that he can't seem to hear a thing.

By the time the meeting was over and I drove to the Riverside park, I was done being nervous.
The Rotary Lights were almost overwhelming. I'd seen them briefly in 2010 but had never actually gone and walked through the display.

I pulled on some snow pants in the parking lot, grabbed a hand warmer and opened it up. I dropped one into my hunting glove/mit and checked my camera settings before I even left the Subaru. The outside temperature was 19 degrees and calm.
I zipped up my coat, grabbed the tripod and walked towards the river.

I was fumbling around with my glove/mitts and tripod when one of the other members walked up to me and started to set up. It was Kristi, she said that she had decided to come to the park after all. She commented that she'd wander around until she got too cold.

I was grateful for her company. We spent an hour or so wandering around slowly trying out different settings to take photos. What really amazed me was while we were taking shots or setting up the people that were walking about were so nice! The groups of teenagers would say hello and then duck out of our way with a *sorry* or *pardon me* tossed over their shoulders.

To capture the whole view of the park, you have to drive over a bridge to another small park and you can 'shoot' the lights reflecting on the water.

I did want to do that but it got late and I realized that Rich may be worried or he may sit up and watch for me to come home.

When Kristi said she was cold and her hands were numb, I walked backed to the parking area with her.

I called Rich from the car and told him I was just leaving the Riverside Park. He sounded a bit disappointed and said that I was still an hour away.

I agreed and told him that I'd had a really great time and got to see some amazing lights.

As I came down the drive way through the woods, I could see the porch lights turn on. Yes, he had been watching.
Both he and Charlie seemed relieved to see me.

It was a wonderful adventure.

I need to figure out a time to get back there again this season. This time from across the river.

I hope to skip out with Charlie today to the Kickapoo Valley Reserve to walk along one of my favorite trails and perhaps get a photo worthy of a Christmas Card!

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Jumping Rocks and other fine things

Good morning!

That is how the other members of the 6am CrossFit class greet me. The 5am class is finishing up and they all say Good Morning and actually mean it!

My husband doesn't quite get the allure of CrossFit. He calls it "Workout".

I started doing this in mid October. So what changes have I noticed?

I have something to look forward to each day and can have good social interaction and the workout relieves stress.

One of the measurable changes I've noticed is my blood pressure has changed dramatically.
I take it in the morning and the afternoon...not because I am ordered to, but because Rich is supposed to monitor his.
Earlier this summer my blood pressure readings were a bit on the high side. 

On days I don't work out it hovers at 115ish to 120 over the 70's.
After working out? 106/68.

Hmmm. It makes one think about blood pressure and exercise. It is easy to take a pill and hope for the best...but...
I'm thinking this workout deal is much much better.
[Ok, off my soap box now!]

What else?
I used to struggle with peeling hay off a round bale and tossing it over the electric fence. I opted to shove it under the fence instead.
Over the weekend, I discovered I can easily toss fork-loads of hay with no effort.

I used to be so surefooted. But the past year I found myself ...well, maybe not as surefooted as I used to be?
CrossFit works well with balance exercises. Most of the warm ups and many workouts promote balance.
While walking in the creek yesterday I came to a spot that I had to climb down a steep rocky bank to get to a place that I wanted to photograph.

Once I got down, I had a choice, get my feet soaked 1/2 mile from home, or jump to where I wanted to be. I used a skill learned from Box Jumping to launch to a rock clump in the middle of the creek.

And I stood there with the water flowing around me, grinning like an idiot. My balance was better!

See? Better!
My creek jump...the banks are about 4 feet high...

And this is all worth it. Even after hiking to the end of the valley and back, I still felt energetic.

Anyway, the reason I jumped was for this shot:

And further towards home, I straddled some logs and got some very cool Ice Fingers...

I am happy that Gun Season for Deer is over. I can wander about again.

Tonight I am going to the LaCrosse Camera Club meeting and we are going to review 'night' shooting and tour the Rotary Lights by the river.

Color me happy.

Saturday, November 24, 2018


Now I think I realize why people decorate indoors with lights and bright colors this time of the year.

It is dull and dreary outside. Well, at least in the Midwestern Climates it is. Dull with no snow, no leaves on the trees, no flowers blossoming...grey ... everything is slowly turning colorless...

However, once in a while at dawn or sunset, the sky will light up with color. But mostly.

Sounds awful doesn't it?

So we try to find something pretty about November. I see stalks of old flowers in my flower bed. The Juncos like the seeds in them so I leave it messy.
The moles are having a field day in the yard that is going from green to brown...

By Thanksgiving I am tired of fall colors and orange. Really tired of orange. Blaze Orange in particular. It seems that the 9 day deer gun season drags on forever. I'm tired of orange so I take down all the fall decorations I put up which aren't very many.
I start to eye the living room up and think about some nice pretty lights to combat the dark evenings.

I sneak out during the day wearing that awful orange to hike down in the woods along the creek. My husband says I need to stay OUT of the woods during gun season.
I go crazy when stuck inside 4 walls all day. Especially after I've cleaned all the walls. I could do windows I suppose. I should do the windows.

I'm going to sneak out and walk the creek bottom.

I take my teddy bear 'ornament' and clip the band off from his hat. This little teddy bear doesn't want to hang on a tree. Nope.
He wants to be out in the woods.

I stop hiking in the middle of my walk and sit down. As usual, I've brought all the gear necessary to take a little water 'fall' photo.
And I do....

It sort of turns out bland also.

I finally turn and walk slowly up the trail. I have to go back and make sure the mules have water. And then go back in the house to play cribbage. [I still don't understand that game at all, but Rich loves it.]

I hear bluejays and a woodpecker, I hear the water tumbling over rocks below me.
The sky is grey and yes...very dreary.

But it is okay because when I get home I can turn the lights on and be cheered. Even after it gets dark.

I may even take the rest of the day and do something 'crafty'.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Christmas Chair...

I decided to go all wooden this year. Driftwood from Lake Michigan found while hiking with good friends. Odd looking roots found while walking in the woods. Old wooden boxes, sewing drawers, the old kitchen drawer from before the remodel.
A green bench from Donna's Daughter's in Coon Valley.

I like this because I will probably redesign things several times over the next few weeks. I like setting it up as if I am going to do Still Life photography with it. Last year I painted a few branches and I used the old Christmas tree to adorn the chair.
This year I'm going to see if I can avoid the green tree and do a non traditional decoration.
The branches I cut while walking with Charlie last week. The grape vine wreath was something I've always wanted to try. And this year I did it. I am leaving it plain though.
Toss in a few birch branches I found on the ground and....well, I am ready!

Here is a dog food can that was painted and decorated last year. This year I took a chunk of wood and a napkin with a snowman on it...I did Mod Podge and crackle on the chunk of wood, then glued it to a stick. Viola! Fun decoration with no real money spent!

I like this. Non traditional and unique.

And very different from the past few years:

At least that is how I am planning it!

I'm going with less glitz and very few ornaments too. Basically I thought it would be fun to set it up as small 'sets' for Still Life Photography.

This year I bought some floral foam to use for the branches and some of the sticks. I moved the boxes around and put boxes inside of boxes. I even found what might have been an old handmade silverware organizer and used that.
I was going to paint it, but decided to leave it alone.

And then there was Charlie who had to get involved. Well, he watched until I started draping garland beads over him.
Then he looked at me and away from the camera. As if to say "Ho hum."

And then as if to say "Hmmm, I'm not too sure about this whole thing."

"Puhleese. I am too dignified for this."

"Well perhaps this scarf is better. Can you believe it, I'm only as big as the bear next to me."

"And there you got it, scarf and beads. I am the bomb."

The chair is behind Charlie. More shots coming later.
Charlie has been so good through all of this and seems to not mind getting dressed up.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Sometimes I just sits and thinks....

*Sometimes I just sits and thinks...sometimes I just sits...* ~ A.A. Milne from Winnie the Pooh.

I spent a long time sitting alongside the creek yesterday while my friends were exploring after a weekend of deer hunting.

I was just thinking.
Thinking about some good things that have happened to me. CrossFit is still fun and I enjoy it. I'm part of a camera club now. There will be a Field Trip to the Rotary Lights with mentors helping everyone with photography. I can always learn new things.

Rich. The newer Rich is pretty interesting. Since his depression treatments, he is either severely grumpy, thus I dub him Grumpy Gus...or very happy. I don't like Grumpy Gus times. He gets snarky and testy over every little thing.
It is hard to get him out of the house.
His knee still hurts. However it didn't seem to bother him when he was out standing for a few hours while watching for deer. But he claims it is too cold to go outside. He won't help with chores. It is too cold or it may bother his knee.

The happy guy laughs and gives me reason to smile. I like that guy. The silent guy watches TV shows on Netflix ... binge watches hours at a time... at a high volume. Then gets angry when he has finished all the seasons of a show he likes.

I accidentally started a show that we had previously watched. I said something about it being a repeat. He adamantly said it wasn't. I went in the kitchen and painted crafty stuff and wore headphones to listen to Pandora. Why not? If he can watch 6 seasons over, that is less time I have to spend searching for him.

I tossed another rock into the icy water of the creek and watched a puff of sand float towards PeeWee's.

I looked up at the Teddy Bear on the desk and thought of Winnie the Pooh and his adventures.

I pulled out the plastic ornaments from my camera bag. I'd had an idea. The Creek Bears, holidays, color, rocks, snow...and water.

I love these bears. They were lost in a flood and recovered. They have earned the right to be 'special'. I was thinking of a Christmas Card or something like that.

I took about 10 shots to find one I like and I found a flaw with this one too. How did I not see the green stuff on Percy's face? Oh well. Now I have a reason to try this again.

How about all of the bears on the desk? I can do different looks for these shots. Warmer, and white. No shadows.

I left the ornaments on the desk with the bears looking downstream.

I went and sat on a dry flat rock and just listened to the creek for a while.
My friends were still walking above me on the hillside.

I preferred the quiet in the creek.
I mulled over the word dementia and how people can't see the brain 'damage' so it is hard for them to figure out why a person they love changes their behavior.

Perhaps if I painted a huge scar over Rich's forehead it would help me and others understand why things don't always make sense. My mother in law needs one too.

I tossed another rock in the creek. I could hear my friends coming down the hillside trail.

What was in my future? I had to think about it.

"What about it Teddy Bears?"

They didn't answer.

Friday, November 16, 2018

We Like Ice!

I like ice. I love to walk along the creek and look for these ice formations.

I took Charlie for a long walk yesterday afternoon specifically to look for these little beauties.

We started on the ridge with the warm sun on our backs as we walked on the edge of a large cornfield that was being combined.

That's Charlie walking ahead with his string on. Yes he still wears it. He still darts off on a scent trail once in a while which is what he is supposed to do naturally.
It seems that if he wears it, he feels like he is tethered to me?

I did have to take the string off when we got down into the thick of things. I don't want Charlie to get tangled up when he is log jam climbing.

Here is what the top photo looked like while I was taking the photo. I had to work around Charlie, water, ice, mud, snow, and bad footing.
But it sure was beautiful!

Remember the pup who wouldn't cross the creek? Now he is a dog on a mission. When we get to a real deep spot he is smart and asks for a lift.

He is also a good photo bomber...

We had a wonderful hike and after I cleaned Charlie up he took up a spot on the couch and went instantly to sleep.

Tonight we are supposed to get 4 to 6 inches of snow. It will be good for deer hunters, but I am bummed. I won't be able to go out and play in it.

I convinced Rich that he can indeed sit out if he wishes and hunt. His knee bothers him a lot. But he found a spot close to home that would offer him a good view of things.
I told him I'd sit with him.

The Kenosha Gang will arrive late tonight, so it looks like a busy weekend coming up.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Angry Subaru and knees

My new Subaru has TPM. Tire Pressure Monitors. Last Thursday night we had a 'snow' event that made the roads pure ice under the snow on the black top roads. Our county road was a piece of wicked winter work.

The gravel road wasn't too bad either. The new 'Ru also lets me know that the temperature outside is cold enough to produce slick spots. Thank you vehicle, as if I didn't understand that 20 degrees means there could be ice on the roads.
Well, it is a safety feature just like the TPM.

I checked the air pressure and it was a bit low in the tires, but apparently my gauge must not be quite accurate.
I called the dealership wondering what I should do and they asked me to bring it in.

I didn't like driving it with all of those warning lights on. I just kept hearing a little tiny voice in the back of my head "Warning Will Rodgers! Warning! Danger!"

I also skipped my 6 AM class because the thought of suddenly being stranded at 5:30 on a country road didn't sound so great in 20 degree weather.

The Service Rep was so kind to explain to me that when there was a sudden huge drop in temperatures this sort of thing occurred in most all tires and vehicles unless I kept it in a warm garage. Seems to me I recall my husband checking tires on the old vehicles in the cold months and adding air.

These are Nitrogen filled tires. Um. Yep. But you can put regular air in them.
Oh this new technical world! I also have the Starlink activated. Since I transport both my husband and my MIL who have medical issues, it is nice to know that an ambulance can be dispatched to my location if one of my passengers have a medical emergency. I can also push the other button and get roadside assistance.
Nifty but strange.

Anyway. Back to the tires. I was filled at no charge, they checked the tires and sensors for issues and all was fine.

I'm sure the service rep thought I was kind of a twit for not knowing about cold temps and tires, but hey Rich was my go to guy and he said he didn't know what caused it. Well I learned something new.

All the tires are happy now and filled properly. And I am headed off to CrossFit and then the store. All my errands in town should be done by 8:30 am. That is a nice feeling.

It will leave me some time today to go look for ice formations. No dogs allowed on this little adventure. I want to concentrate on some quiet time for me after spending the day at the VA yesterday.

Oncology was happy that there is no sign of cancer returning. We spent hours though getting someone to see his swollen knee cap again. A referral to Ortho is weeks out yet. It doesn't seem that anyone wants to really deal with it. I explained that it hurt him so bad that he could barely get in and out of our car not to mention getting around the house.

I also explained to the nurse the importance of mobility for his mental health and well being.

It did not fall on deaf ears, but those ears were extremely sympathetic.

I fixed the Subaru easily, it is happy now.
I can't fix Rich's knee, it is very unhappy now. In fact at 3AM he said it hurt like a son of.....

He told me to go to work out and he'd be fine sleeping until I got back.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Walk the Dogs

These two really do have fun together. Dixie is the velcro dog which I find pretty funny. She generally will run a small distance to smell good smells and then she is instantly back to check me by touching my hands or knee with her large nose.

Charlie finds her to be a great playmate. And eventually she will give in to his puppyish behavior and wrestle with him.

Charlie takes the tumble, but rolls and gets right back up.

And Sweet Dixie doesn't seem to mind at all.

We headed down to the middle of the creek. I thought that I didn't dress warm enough as I was chilled. So I figured a fast hike would warm me up.

I wanted to grab a few quick shots of the creek. With the skies so dull I could quickly set up a long exposure quickly.

I was looking for ice fingers which I was able to find fairly quickly. These past few days we have broken records for cold temperatures and it shows in the creek.

There was a challenge though in having a little dog who wanted to sit on the very same rock I had my tripod on and a very big DOG that thought any time I squatted down ... she should SIT in my lap.

Here Dixie comes on the lope, leaving Charlie to a good smell. I steadied my camera and stood up just as Dixie poked that huge nose into my face. Oh for the love of a hound.

I set up another shot and fended off the dogs, then put everything away except the pocket camera.

Charlie was unfazed by the ice on his coat. He kept chasing Dixie and they kept playing. I checked to make sure he was warm enough. shivering at all. He wiggled and ran after his Big Gal Pal.

I'd have to take another day this week between appointments and errands to take a solo walk to the creek to find more ice formations.

I sure do love winter and hunting for these little unique formations.

I may have to get out early tomorrow morning to hunt some more up we've had a small record cold spell and it looks like it may break tomorrow afternoon.

Come Saturday I won't be able to take the dogs for a walk for a few days.

It is opening weekend for the 9 day Deer Gun Season.
I am conflicted over these 9 days. Probably because on the one side of my property is many acres of land that is 'invaded' by weekend warriors who dress in orange and look for the BIG Monster Buck. They sometimes lose their sensibilities.
After opening weekend, the landowner disappears and the squatting brother will let anyone hunt who brings him beer.

I am always grateful on the last day when the sun sets and gun season is over.

The dogs and I can walk freely about without being mistaken for deer.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Wild and Wicked Sunday

It was not Wild nor was it really Wicked.

First order of the day was to go get a truckload of hay. Rich said he wasn't going with because his knee is swelled up again and it hurts.
It has been drained twice now and both times the aspiration has revealed blood.

The VA orthopedic department did make an appointment for him on December 4th. 
The lady who made the appointment said that we should visit the ED if it was too painful or bothersome before that date.

When a joint fills up with blood it will severely damage that joint. Rich says leave it until his appointment, but I'll drag him over to the ED [ER] tomorrow after seeing Oncology for a follow up. He is in a LOT of pain. I'd like to also find out why the joint keeps filling up with blood.

So, off I went with the pickup and got our monthly supply of small bales of hay. I paid Eddie for the pig we purchased from him. His wife made coffee and I sat down in their kitchen and visited for a bit.

As you can tell from this photo, I'm not really great at just backing into a crowded shed to get close to the spot where we stack our small bales.
I got the truck into the doorway and left it there.
This way I get to move it at least twice by hand!
Once to toss it off the truck and once to stack it.

I will consider it a CrossFit workout...WOD: Move bales and toss them!

I did get it all taken care of and it went slightly better than I expected. Maybe it is that CrossFit training I've been doing. Maybe it was the cold temperatures that made it more comfortable.

Rich and I have been playing Backgammon for Speech Therapy work. He has to use strategy and counting.
I saw how much he enjoyed playing cribbage with our friends from Kenosha.
So I asked him if he'd teach me.

Cribbage is as clear as mud.

But since Rich loves the game so much, I decided I need to try and learn it. There is a method to my madness. As he tries to teach it to me, he works on his communication skills, words, thought process, and counting. IF I play, he promises to do a bit of writing therapy also.

Even when Rich's words don't come out correctly, they are generally close enough that I understand what he is trying to say. Sometimes it is an exact opposite and sometimes it is just a strange new word combination.

So he started by trying to teach me to count.

"15 two, ..." he said holding cards out, "15 four, see?"
I did NOT see I saw a Jack a Queen and a 5 of spades.
He moved his hands again putting them down and repeating them.
"Then there is the crib, but since I am just showing it to you..."

It made absolutely NO sense to me so I suggested we bring out the board and he help me play the game until it clicked.

Patience has never been a strong suit of my husband's. So we played and I could see he was getting frustrated that I 'wasn't' catching on right away. However we played until it was nearly dark outside...moving the pegs in a manner that almost made sense and counting in strange and odd ways.

I suggested we take a break while I did chores and made supper.

After supper Rich went back to watching Netflix and I pulled out some paints and chunks of leftover wood. I wanted to see if I could make crackled paint with Elmer's Glue. I wanted to experiment with glue on glass.

I always like to experiment on small things before trying something else. I saw a video on Modge Podge and paint crackling that may be fun to try...with napkins? I don't know.
I also did a dirty acrylic paint pour, which is drying in the basement.

I'm trying to figure out how I will decorate this year for the Christmas-Winter season. Time to gather new sticks and grasses to make bouquets.

I see light fluffy flakes coming down outside. This monday morning is very grey. The Juncos -- Grandma called them Snow Buntings, are busy in my flower bed.

Time to get my new week going.

Maybe I'll have a wild Monday?

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Keep up two legged person! ~by Charlie

She was pretty sure that I wouldn't like the new fresh cold stuff she calls SNOW on the ground when we went to do chores this morning.

OH! How much fun is this? Run through the cold stuff and have it brush my tummy! Run run run! Spin and run! Stick my nose in it and run!
It made her laugh and laugh.

When She put on coveralls and boots after chores and asked if I wanted to go for a walk I was right there at the door waiting.
She said 'Walkies!' and I was ready!

And we headed out through the meadow and down to the creek. I kept running ahead and then checking to see if she was coming. Sometimes SHE can be so slow!

She called me a few times to wait up and I did. But the snow covered so many good smells and I had to keep putting my nose into it.

The creek was 'up' from the recent heavy rains last weekend and so I found a rock to stand on so I could look around.

How come human people are so slow?
I watched her walk towards me and then it dawned on me. It must be tough to be a human and only have two legs. Four legs are better, more to balance with, better to jump distances with...oh the advantages.

Maybe I can train her how to do that. I mean, I sure can try.

She kept having trouble on all the slippery snow covered rocks. More than once she had to call out to me to stop again and wait.
How embarrassing.

She is so Slow. Perhaps if she would use her hands and her feet, she could climb and jump better.
Yet She insists on walking on those two long legs. Pity. Short legs are so much better suited to slippery stuff.

I thought She was going to fall and crash when I heard her yelp. She has good balance considering. She hopped and steadied herself and then told me to "Wait up!"

Oh slow poke! I have so many smells to take care of, don't you understand?

She finally stopped by a little waterfall and decided to head up and over the bank towards home. She whistled and I came running past her.

Maybe it doesn't look like it here, but I am running up a deer trail with my ears flapping magnificently while flying across the snow covered ground.

I think I like the cold much better than the hot heat. It feels better and my thick coat keeps me toasty warm.

When we got home, She toweled me off.
She handed me a chew bone and I immediately got down to business.

However, I can't wait to go out again.

Perhaps we can take Dixie too. Then I'll have someone who can keep up.