Friday, August 30, 2019

Black and White and chasing light

I had about an hour to myself yesterday afternoon and I decided that since my arms still ached from using the dull scythe I would just take Charlie for a walk to check the mail and then take a side trip through the neighbor's woods.

I have a whetstone coming in the mail just to cure that dull implement!

I just took my converted Infrared camera with the filter that takes black and white images.
So what is so different with that filter? Green shows up as white in the 850nm spectrum of light and blue shows as black.

The late afternoon sun shone on the leaves making them bright. The clouds were dissipating and they too show up white. However the sky looks dark where the clouds are not drifting through.

Charlie shows up as a dark spot but he happened to walk into a little bit of sunshine. After getting the mail at the top of the hill we crossed over into the woods and followed the 4 wheeler trail back down.

In the heavy canopy of trees I had to hunt for sunlight shining through. I liked the pattern of leaf shadows on the tree trunk.

This is probably one of my favorite shots. A green mossy rock clump with a sunlit edge. The green adds some whiteness to the shot and the sun highlights the edges of the mossy rock.
I could do this better I think if I used a different aperture than what I did. But I was experimenting and learning.
This just gives me an excuse to go out and try this again!

I wanted to 'find' a trail that would be highlighted by green leaves. I found
this deer trail by following Charlie and ducking through low branches.
This is close to what I wanted to accomplish in my mind, but I'd like
to find a longer single track trail that curved.

I tried to 'shoot' both ways... and ...

I sort of like the appearance of the dirt track between the undergrowth.

I'll be doing more of this for a bit until I understand what is the best light and way to photograph with this light spectrum.

I have read the hints and tutorials, but nothing is more informative than going out and practicing, making mistakes, and making discoveries.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Quiet time

I'm trying to carve out a bit more time for walking Charlie and Sven together.

It was a nice quiet walk with Charlie and Sven playing on the trails. Charlie would stop and listen to a chipmunk in the woods. Sven would stand by him and browse on berry briers or some other leafy bush and then they'd trot off together.

It appears to the casual observer that these two are pals and have a very close bond.
I know Dixie was very fond of Charlie but Sven seems totally attached to his dog pal. He cries when they are separated, yet if I tie them up in the yard where they can be near each other. They will actually lay down so that they are touching each other to nap in the sunlight.

Sven is like a rather large dog that is even better mannered than most dogs on the trail. He doesn't eat deer poop, he doesn't roll in stinky things, and he comes instantly when I whistle or call him.

He still has some of his light colored 'baby' coat left. I imagine as his winter coat grows in it will fall out. I like the funky colors it gives him right now.

Charlie still wears his little beeper collar on hikes. He rarely gets separated from Sven when we all go together. But it is nice to know I can 'ring' his bell if he gets into the thick underbrush and I can't find him.

We walked to the back of the property and I had some fluorescent spray paint I wanted to spray on the line fence. That is my next project is to fix the back fence. It is an old barbed wire fence, some of the posts can be reset and some of the wire may still be usable. I'm always up for a project.
I used the green paint to mark areas.
Sven decided to try and taste the paint on the posts. Silly goat. He has fluorescent paint on his nose now.

When I sat on a log to let my two companions walk around in the area, they both came and tried to get my attention. So much for sitting and mulling things over!

I walked down the hill back towards the creek. I'd told Rich I'd only be gone for an hour so I couldn't go exploring. Sven and Charlie trotted on deer trails and I could hear their bells. The bells are a stroke of genius. I can hear what they are doing all of the time without watching them.

I noted that there were a lot of maple leaves down with colors on them and some of the ironwood trees had leaves that were turning. Some of the black berry bushes had a tint of red in them.

Fall is coming.
Lucky me!
In one week, I've arranged for my winter hay, arranged for trees to be taken down... and while in town I even ran into another neighbor who said he'd come out with his chainsaw and truck to take firewood and help.

I found some very pretty white mushrooms at the creek bottom.

Well, let's say that getting down on your knees and scooting low is not always the thing to do with a Hiking Goat along.
Mr. Hiking Goat decides that he will practice Goat Yoga with you and that your back makes a perfect place to put his hooves while he nibbles on your hair and ears to .. let you know how much he cares about you.

I gave up taking macro shots and we just continued to walk slowly towards home.

When back on the big trail, Sven and Charlie played chase.

One thing I can say for certain. They wear each other out playing.
And that was the purpose of the walk, to give them some time to play and exercise.

I took a video with my phone but ... well for whatever reason, it won't download.
Suffice to say that it shows Sven and Charlie racing up together and back on the trail with their little collar bells merrily jingling away.

And that was my quiet time. Peaceful and full of smiles.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

That time of year...

For looking for cool insects!

I'm not going to go on and on about it.

Just put up some shots from around the farm and yard.

Crab spider eating other insects on a Zinnia...

 Red aphids on Goldenrod.

Either this wasp was cold or full from eating something! I was able to get pretty close but stood still for a very long time before trying to take a shot.

Monday, August 26, 2019

Enough with boredom stuff...a bit of Infrared

I've been struggling with Infrared photography. Perhaps struggling isn't the proper word for it.

I am experimenting and enjoying it. Now that the older Olympus is converted I can take that camera with me all day and take photos and swap to the hot mirror which makes it a regular camera.

Instead I've taken my two Olympus cameras in a shoulder bag and shot with regular light and IR light. The Oly cameras are super light and not cumbersome like my Nikon is.

I have left the prime 30mm lens on the newer Oly and had some fun with it while walking the creek and checking the forest fence.

The snake is a custom made tiny sculpture by an artists who made custom ornaments for me years ago of Morris. I just love the color and detail of this little coiled snake!

Some of my Infrared shots turned out. Most were a wash as the sun doesn't shine strong enough in the creek bottom.

I want the creek to be spectacular but it is so heavily shaded that the IR light spectrum does show nice bright foliage but not much else.

In the yard I took two shots of the trees that will be coming down in a bit. My favorite trees that have incredible smelling flowers in the beginning of each June.
I will miss them, but don't want them on top of the house.

Here is a shot I took from the neighbor's garden back looking at our place.
I took it in IR but added the pink arrows to the trees that are to be taken down.

Things will look a bit different after this job is done. Looks like I'll be piling wood for a while this fall!
However, not having these trees fall on buildings is a better idea than worrying every time we get a storm in the summer or an ice storm in the winter.

Two pines are not pictured here. They are up behind the house.

Time to catch up!

Rich had surgery on Thursday morning.
This is Thursday afternoon with Nurse Charlie keeping Rich occupied and making sure he keeps his knee up.

The doctor said he removed the bursa which looked like nasty cottage cheese and said he sent the necrotic tissue to the pathology. The lab results were posted for us to see already. I read it, but will wait for the follow up appointment to see what the doctor says about it.

So Friday and the weekend were spent with lots of ice, rest, and the leg raised.

I hauled a mattress for our neighbor to the local landfill. Since I was going, I filled the back of the truck with pieces of metal and 'junk' that I'd cleaned out from a corner in the Big Shed. Tossing the metal 'junk' onto the huge pile at the land fill felt pretty good.
I'm working up to loading the truck up with some larger stuff and heading to the 'junk' yard where I would return with some cash.

Since our grill was murdered by a falling tree, I got a new tiny one and spent the afternoon putting it together. The grill is small enough for me to cook on the porch! This winter I can cook steaks on the grill under cover!

I spent Saturday clearing the old busted up metal gate panels from around one of the locusts that will get cut down. I tied up Sven to the tree and let him do some cleaning too. Little Richard was staked nearby and he did some trimming.
I tried my weed whacker on some of the tougher weeds just north of the pen to no avail. I'd need a blade on the 'whacker'.

I was stumped for a while and then recalled that there was a Scythe in the shed. It was a bit too large for me to handle well, but it did knock down the weeds. The blade probably needs sharpening but it served its purpose.
In fact, I went all around the north paddock and knocked down thistles and Smartweed. Sven loves the blossoms of the Smartweed. Now if I could rent my neighbor's goats for a few days they'd clean up what the Dexter's used to eat and the mules DO not eat!

I was tempted to do more with the Scythe but my arms and forearms were aching so I quit. The handles on it are meant for someone much taller than I am. But I admired the job I'd done. The mules walked around and ate the wilting nettles and the thistles.

I decided to take a walk down to the creek and check out how the mules were doing with browsing in the woods.

They are making good headway on the berry briers and widening the deer trails making it easier for me to wander around in the forest and look at interesting things.

They prefer to stay in the meadow which is really needs a rest now. Time to rotate again until I have to take them out of the south pasture when the tree trimmers come to work.

I took my knew I would, right? I'll have some photos from my walk later.

Day of rest. And I mean rest. I sold the cattle headgate to a neighbor and he came down to pick it up. All I had to do was point it out in the weeds and he loaded it on his truck and paid me cash. I can live with deals like that.

Next up on the sale block will be the aluminum hound dog box. Raccoon hunting season is coming up as well as coyote hunting season and dog boxes will be in demand.

I look at the piles of 'stuff' and wonder sometimes how I'll deal with all of that.

One step at a time I suppose.

My To Do List is still quite long. But I've done some large projects this year and I'm pretty happy with it so far.

That's it.
Boring stuff.

Rich's knee looks really good. We changed out bandages today. That nasty huge gross lump is gone. The knee is swollen from the surgery, but still looks [and feels better] than it did before surgery.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Little things...

Looking for nothing ...

but seeing everything...

that is how I wander the woodlands.

Well I did get off and walk the one little trail down to the creek and back. I've been so wrapped up for months now taking Rich to all of his appointments that it seems I rarely have an opportunity to catch a bit of air for myself.
I took Charlie on a quiet 'meander' to the creek and back up to the house.

It took a long time as I was walking along just studying the light and the plants along the forest floor.


Note this was the day before surgery while I was waiting for the 'Tree Man' and calming my nerves about the upcoming knee surgery for Rich.

His surgery should be easy and routine, but nothing may always be easy and routine when your medical history is very complicated.

I took only my little macro lens along and decided to try some different things.

The above photos were taken with the sun shining on the fleabane and the shadows behind them.

It is a fun experiment and not very technically hard but it does take quite a bit of walking and observing to find the right subject.

I think I'll do some more of this around the yard while keeping close during the first couple of days of recovery.

Tiny acorns! These were so small that I didn't notice them at first until I squatted down to look at the fleabane nearby to see if any crab spiders were on them.

The acorns are the size of my pinky fingernail!

With fences checked, I let the mules out back and then proceeded to check the zinnias near the porch.

I knew I could find bees but was surprised by the variety of insects I was able to find.

I did find a crab spider ... eating a bee!

And just a normal 'bug' shot.

A bee on my yellow cosmos. Quite boring after all the other bug drama!

In the mornings and evenings I watch the hummers, bees, and gold finches feed on my porch flowers. I can sit in the morning and have coffee and enjoy the show too.

The surgery went well.
We were home by noon and I think his pain is less now.
We were both exhausted by the long day.

and here is

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.