Saturday, November 30, 2019

Just wicked weather

Wednesday was neat we had a snowstorm of sorts and I spent the day just cleaning the house and rearranging things. I don't have a big house so it didn't take all day.
Charlie and I took a small walk around the pastures early and to the creek just to look around. I am always amazed by how green it is in the creek bottom.

Note that Charlie is wearing his 'beeper' collar. He is an avid rabbit hunter
and a demon on squirrels and deer tracks. Well,
he thinks he is. He does still once in a while
catch a luscious scent and take off on the
However one beep distracts him and he races back to 

Thursday was quiet also.

I prepped the lasagna and then started thinking about redecorating for Christmas. I gathered my sticks together and did some experiments with glue and Epsom salts.

Epsom salt and glue on 
a grape vine twist.

Dried Espom salt on a branch.

The real deal. Ice on branches in the woods!

It was messy, but it kept me occupied.

Yesterday morning after chores I decided to take Charlie up the road for a walk and to gather the mail. I dressed in orange and that awful safety green/yellow vest I have. I was staying on the road and I didn't expect the city boy hunters to be out as early as I was.

Charlie on rabbit track. 
He is zoned in.
My neighbor's field corn.
It has not been a good year for 

The weather has been relentless. I had to move Little Richard from his pen to a stall inside as there was not a dry spot in his paddock to be had. He was standing with two hooves crowded into a large feed pan when I went to get him.
Make no doubt about it. He is loving the accommodations.

The photo above is the view from the porch. Rain/snow/sleet/freezing rain, and then rinse and repeat. The mules have done well as they have places that are in the woods out of the wind and where the ground is solid.
I have been taking their hay to the round bale feeders to keep them from stomping it into the ground.

Normally I would be out in this weather, but I've seen a few hunters across the way and have heard shooting even in this crap weather. 

I decided to spend the rest of the day deciding how to decorate.

This year there is no tree. This year there is no Christmas Chair. I've decided to see what I can come up with that is not the same as what has been done before.

Out came the old wood boxes, the little nesting box, toys...stuffed toys, beads, fairy lights...and ribbons. 

I needed to occupy myself on such a dreary ugly day. Charlie supervised when he wasn't napping.

Stay tuned for my crazy new ideas for decorating. As always, it is a constant work in progress.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

The CareGiving Reverse Gift List

What a wonderful idea for people who spend and expend so much energy in caring for someone in their family like a spouse or a parent.
The idea is to ask for some help to make the Holidays and winter [or even just everyday life] a bit easier.

The CareGiver gets out a piece of paper and ....makes out a Reverse Gift List.
The idea is that the caregiver asks for some things that would help them and in the future they can pay it back when their time is not fully occupied by being a CareGiver.
Most people enjoy helping.
Things that are simple like a visit.
Maybe a visit so the CareGiver can have a part of a day off.

So the idea is...

On one side of the piece of paper make a list of people you trust.

On the other side of the paper make a list of Things They Can Do.
Uh oh.
My paper is getting nowhere fast.

I need to set it aside and think about it.
First the needs of the day.
Meal prep
Visit MIL in the Nursing Home

And dream about the days when I complained about going to work.

Snow Storm!

Our tiny cottage as viewed from the open pasture south of the house.

And here are the mules having their breakfast. It was getting hard to find a dry enough spot to feed them since we had approximately an inch of rain before the snow began to fall. The snow was super wet and heavy.

They watch me come out with the 'hay' sled and follow me to wherever I am going to spread their meals. The three older mules follow me away from the rest as I set out their grain in their pans. It is almost funny as to how routine feeding time has become.

Charlie loves snow. He just loves to romp in it and stick his head under large clumps of grass. His sniffer never quits when he is out and about.

Mr. Sven was not having any of the blustery weather. He watched out his goat 'door' and stayed inside with his hay and nice dry bedding.

Charlie and I walked up to where the hill starts on the driveway to look up the hill.

It looked like a fine day to stay home and let mother nature have her way. The winds picked up and we headed back to the house.

Water was standing everywhere under the snow and the ground was saturated.

That wet spot in the driveway is something I hope to get fixed next year. In fact this section of the driveway needs new gravel as it turns into a mushy quagmire each spring that is nearly impossible to drive through until it dries up.

That brings us to today which is Thanksgiving.

No visitors, no family stuff going on today. It will be the usual fair.
Hubby asked for Lasagna for supper.
Seems when the kids were young we had company and now that the grands are more grown up everyone has their own thing to do.

Photo from 2006 Thanksgiving.

Have a nice day, whatever you choose to do.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

DIY stuff

So I was looking at cool things to do with my copper pot scuttle with handles and I thought it would look neat with nice long sticks and lights! So I looked these sort of home decorations up on the internet and had some mild shocks.

Long tall branches that were prelit were expensive. Not terribly expensive, but I thought they looked neat. So I went on a hike with my terrible machete blade and went to collect some willow branches.

I brought a bunch home and then waited for a nice day and spray painted all but one with white paint.

I ordered some 'fairy' lights that you can actually twist onto the branches.

And I started to put them on the willow branches.

Not very impressive at first.

But with some help it really started to look pretty neat. I added it to the corner with an old box of  'fall' decorations. Of course there is Charlie's crate which isn't part of the decorations, but hey, it is his house too!

And there is my little 'welcome' table that I constantly am changing nearly every single day. I like doing that. Moving things around all of the time. Even my little chickens and geese move into other positions all of the time.

Soon enough, I'll change things over to a different Holiday theme and that will involve parts of the living room as well. I'm not even sure what I am going to do there. But I have some grape vines and odd shaped chunks of wood along with some old dynamite crates and other neat things.

Think of me as a kid with a lego set, except I have little crates, boxes, sticks, vines, and doo dads to play with.
Looks like I'll have some fun experimenting again this year.

Not sure if I am doing the Christmas Chair this year or not. Depends on space. I am leaning in going in a whole new direction.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Skies from the porch

Sunday night this sunset presented itself after so many cloudy yucky days.

Actually this was the last 'gasp' of light. For 20 minutes or so the sky was lit up with bright oranges and reds, but I liked this last ... blast best with the dead tree in the photo on the right and the yellow in the middle highlighting the clouds.

Oddly enough to the east there was a beautiful rainbow that lasted as long as the sunset did.

After the yellow flare of light some more clouds moved in and so did dusk.

The sky really became interesting then...

...and that is why I love our porch!

Well that is pretty dull. November is sort of dull in a way though.

I'm hoping for a nice snow fall to cover up the mud and it sounds like it just may happen starting Tuesday afternoon.

Time to get some diesel fuel for the skid steer!

Saturday, November 23, 2019

What to do on a rainy day

The weather was warm but promised to do nothing but get colder as the day went on.

I'd run my errands to town, ran into someone from CrossFit while shopping.
Then in another isle I ran into one of my neighbors who I had not seen in a while.
He inquired about Rich and how was he doing? Then he said "I should really come over and visit with him."
I answered that he'd like that very much.

I run into people and they inquire. They all then say how they 'should' come and visit. This is the one thing that really can brighten my husband's days and I do mention that.
And yet nobody comes or really calls. I do say that Justin often stops in to talk with Rich when he comes to grab some hay out of the shed or something like a post pounder.

It wasn't turning out to be a very good day.
Some days get to be like that.

I was tired of staying inside and doing 'much of nothing' so I walked out and whistled to Sunshine.

After all Gun Deer Season starts on Saturday and that keeps me from wandering the woods like I love to do.
I decided to ride. Even though it was a bit mucky and it was raining/snowing.

I worked on some graphic art too.

Later on that.

Sunshine and I had a blast. She has come into her own and is surely my go to mule in bad weather and bad footing.
She is a champ, just like her mom was.

Perhaps I should reconsider my thoughts of training Sundance.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

While it is icky outside

It's been a while since I did random art.
I guess I was in the mood again....

Created with JWildfire, layers, png's that I picked up of the unicorn, grass, flames, water, and stormy stuff.
I tossed it all together into a composite form and ended up with a 'Unicorn's Nightmare'.

More fun with fractals and some brushes.
Nothing is as it Seems.

Let Sleeping Dragons ...Lie

After my husband's eye appointment we ate lunch and headed home before the fog totally socked us in.

And sock us in did! Whew!

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Comfort Zones

On Friday at CrossFit Coach Luke was watching everyone doing strict presses. We were to do 5 reps at 80% of our best.

Of course I had no clue what that would be for me, since I was still sorting out the movements for each type of lift. I went with a weight that I could handle. Luke walked up to me and said, "More weight Val." I must have had a look in my eye that said, what???
He smiled and added weight and said, "You need to get out of your comfort zone and make it hard. It is supposed to be a challenge. That is how you get stronger."

It was harder. In fact at the 5th lift I wasn't sure I could lock my arms out. With a lot of cheering by Luke standing behind me [spotting me for safety], I did it. I then struggled through the reps with cheers from everyone.

Before I left I thanked Luke for pushing me.

While I was driving to the 'photo' shoot for my friend I was a bit nervous. I'd never done a Family Shoot before.
Rich had said I'd be just fine. I wasn't sure.
My stomach was in knots.

And then I thought about what my coach had said. "You need to get out of your comfort zone."

Well indeed, he was right. Look at all the things I've done out of that Comfort Zone. Looking back on the past year there are so many things I've done or had to do that I've never done before.
As I turned into my friend's driveway I took a breath and almost laughed.

Oh heck, I learned how to drive a skid steer and work on lawn mowers, and build fences over the past year.
This suddenly I didn't feel strange or uncomfortable.

I could do this.

I did.
I had a blast and learned a lot.
So far the family is happy with what I did.

So later today I'll finish up the shots and transfer them to a memory stick.

And I guess I'll be ready for the next Challenge.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

This old barn...and....

This is the original file as it appeared 'in camera' and the down load. The sepia color was a touch darker, but nothing else was changed.

I do love this place and next time I go by it, I need to have a long lens with the 720nm filter on it.

It is a farm that has been around for about 100 years, that is what the last owner had told me. The only access to this place was by an old rickety bridge. I wish I'd had the forethought to have photographed it years ago.

The bridge had survived all of the floods since it was built but those floods of 2008, 2009, 2012, and 2015 gave the owner pause I guess and she moved out to somewhere else. Last year, the 2018 flood took the bridge and as we like to say "disappeared" it. The LP tank to the house was found 1/2 mile away. However the barn never suffered damage other than what Mother Nature has done to it.

The place sits empty now. I don't see any animals grazing on the land and I suspect that any fencing that did exist has been washed away.
Last year huge wrapped round bales landed with the flood waters all along the river and into the Readstown Park, looking like monstrous marshmallows that had been dropped by a giant. [Wow, what a fun opportunity that would have been to photograph also!]

Anyway I digress.
I've taken a lot of photos of this barn and farm over the years and decided to try it in Infrared.

The blues that appear after a channel swap were really neat. The branches, trees, and grass around it had a very dull yellowish color to it which I didn't like.

I felt this needed a vintage treatment.

I like it so much better this way. I could have added some old film scratches but decided to leave well enough alone.

I need the zoom lens next time or a better angle to capture the old farm house and the barn in the same frame.

I feel sort of awkward pulling over and parking then walking along the side of the road with the camera. Perhaps I shouldn't feel that way. But I imagine someone driving by and wondering what that Crazy Person is doing!

Awkward. I'm facing my next challenge in photography Saturday morning. I was invited by a CrossFit friend to come and take photos of her family. I told her that I wasn't very experienced in 'people' shots and didn't have a studio or fancy lights.
The worst that can happen is that she doesn't use anything I take. So I put on my big girl panties and decided to try it.
Yes, I have done a few weddings, but I'm a basic person and like candid shots best.

We shall see how this goes!

Thursday, November 14, 2019

The Lefse event at the Nursing Home

While at CrossFit yesterday morning, one of the young ladies I work out with told me that there was 'Lefse Making' at the home where my MIL is at, was I going to come?
Since it was snowing and blowing and most of my 'to do' list was complete, I said I'd go.

I woke Lenise up when I got to her room and sat with her while she slowly gained her senses.
She said she was tired, I replied that they were doing a Lefse making 'thing' down in the cafeteria and that I'd come special, just to spend the afternoon with her.

Success! I got her out of bed, slippers and glasses put on... and off we went. We wheeled into the cafeteria as the Lefse Ladies were starting to roll out the dough.

Lefse dough consists of pounds and pounds of potatoes peeled and cooked then run through a ricer. Hmm, easier to provide a link than it is to explain it since I am not a baking person.

Sons of Norway: Lefse Making

I parked Lenise so that she could see the ladies rolling out the dough and using the stick to transfer it to the grill thing. Pretty soon we had a table of four residents all trying to make conversation.

I passed out coffee to the ladies and tried to field questions.

Mary told everyone and anyone who was there that she liked the Packers and that she was from Green Bay and she was of German descent. Mabel was worried that she was at the wrong table and didn't know us. It seemed to bother her a lot.
Lorraine announced that she didn't recognize anyone and that was okay because she was pretty sure that we were okay.
Lenise told the girls that she lived in an apartment in town in Viroqua. Then said she had an apartment in Readstown. Minutes later she told them she had a room at the Home just like them.

I recently finished a very good book Where Memories Go: Why Dementia Changes Everything by Sally Magnusson.
It is an incredible account of travelling through the world of her mom's dementia with a daughter and her family. I've been reading and doing a bit of research. It really has helped me understand and not fear visiting the home or being uncomfortable around those who do have different stages of dementia.

Mable [not her real name] was really quite put out at not being at her normal cafeteria table. I'd be busy listening to the others talk and I'd watch her out of the corner of my eye. She kept rearranging an empty spot on the table over and over. She reached over and picked up a napkin and asked me to read it to her.
I asked her to help me with it.
Mabel said, "It is signed Olga [something...I couldn't make out what she said]." She handed me the napkin and I studied it for a moment and said, "Yes it does!"
She nodded and put it back on the table.

Lorraine pulled on my arm and I squatted next to her. She asked who I was and I told her that I was Lenise's daughter in law.
Lorraine looked at me and asked, "Do you know my mother?"
I answered no.
She said, "My mother said she'd be here. I don't see her, will you watch for her?"
I said sure...

Mabel reached into the center of the table for a little white pumpkin decoration and picked it up. She oohed and ahhed over it for a moment and then announced it was a cupcake.
She shoved it to her mouth and tried to bite it. The other ladies told her 'No!' while I gently pried it from her and set it out of her reach.
"But I want that donut!" she said.

The table conversation was in fits and starts. Lenise would ask Mabel a question and Mabel would stare off into the distance. Lorraine would say something and Lenise would answer. Mary would jump in with her mantra regarding the Green Bay Packers.
Mabel suddenly pointed to an empty spot on the table and asked, "Do you see that? It is so bright and pretty!"
Her hands lifted and her eyes followed something up to the cafeteria ceiling.
"Look look," she kept saying, "it is so pretty! Do you see it?"

See here is where a bit of understanding comes into play. Arguing with Mabel wouldn't have done anyone any good. Lorraine looked up and then asked me if I'd seen her mother again.
Mary gazed off into the distance.
Lenise looked up and then said to Mabel, "Did you spill spaghetti on the floor?"

However Mabel was entranced by her vision of something beautiful and her face was absolutely at peace and full of joy.

Lorraine asked me for some more coffee. Mabel asked me who I was. Mary left. And so it went with snippets of conversation around watching the ladies make Lefse.

I finally asked Lenise if she'd like to go back to her room. I had a few things to get done in town and needed to get home for chores and supper. As far as I was concerned, Lenise had a very good day. She was pretty sharp. We tooled down the hallway and when I got to the end she pointed the way to her room.

I stopped to turn her into the doorway and she pointed to her name and room number.
"See!" she said, "there is my name and number. They keep moving my room and putting my name on so many doors!"
No use in correcting her.
I ask where she'd like to Park and she points.
"Is this the same room that you got me from?" she asks.
"Yes ma'am," I reply, "there is your afghan!" I reach out and straighten it out.
"Don't bother 'they' left it like that when they moved me," she says.

I think this may be her way of being a little upset when she knows I'm going to leave. I'm not sure. I sit on her bed and take her hand then tell her I'll come again.
Small consolation, I think to myself. I hug her and gather my coat and things.

I look over my shoulder as I leave her room and she is staring at the wall her hands in her lap.

I feel my heart squeezed a bit and... then turn to go brave the cold snowy world and return home to take care of Rich.

Molly the nurse stopped me outside in the hallway and asked if I 'get a break' from CareGiving. I smile and shake my head.

"You know how families can be," I reply, "I'm not bitter or angry. Just sad that the family is losing such precious moments like those I get to have."

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

I like Ice

Okay, some folks think I am crazy, but I do like winter. I love winter. I get excited for snowfalls, I enjoy a good ice storm [see I am not driving in those if I don't have to any more!], I like cold snaps.

I was going to work in the shed. The tool 'table' is my next project. But then two days of near zero temperatures got me thinking.
The quick thaw and the quick freeze over the weekend combined with all the moisture we had just might provide for some Ice Formations if one knew where to look.

I drove to Kickapoo Valley Reserve and went in to browse and vote for the photos in the contest. I actually voted for someone else's photo. It was a beautiful shot of the frozen Kickapoo River.

I zipped up and headed out on the Wintergreen Trail. I had brought my converted Infrared camera and the 'hot' filter which converts it back to the normal light visible light spectrum.
So many IR photographers put their cameras away when the leaves fall. But I thought it would be fun to see what happens in the winter.

It didn't take me long to get to the place of the well hidden 'Ice Caves' or 'Ice Falls'. I don't think these are very well known at all.

I think the ice reflected the same light spectrum as the sky did! This is not how it looks in the camera review screen. The sky and the ice appeared brownish orange. When developing IR for color a person has to swap the red and blue color channels.

No matter, I really liked how this turned out.

Another shot taken in visible light with the hot filter on the camera. I love the odd look of Infrared, but also love this shot. If the cold weather continues, the water will continue to flow out of the ground and over the ice building a huge formation.

I wore kids little knit gloves with open fingers and a pair of my Grandmother's hand knit mittens with a second layer of wool over the knit part. I was able to keep my hands warm in between shots and changing filters.

When I got to the bluff I'd wished that I'd also worn my face mask that I could pull up to my nose. It was brutally cold in the wind on top of those rocks.

Infrared again...

However, the view was worth it.
The ice that was forming on the surface of the river actually made eerie noises as they floated along hitting the rocks and shore below. At first I didn't know what it was and looked around for some sort of Creaky Monster.

I turned around and headed back as I had other things to get done at home. I really wanted to walk to the end of the trail but decided to leave that for another day.

I made a late lunch for Rich and he decided to take a nap. Charlie was nagging me for a walk so I went out and got Sven and we went off again.

I thought it would be too cold for the dog and the goat. I was wrong. The two of them seemed to enjoy the fresh air the same as little kids do. At least I didn't have to remind them to wear scarves or a nice warm coat. They already had nice fur coats on.

I didn't have Charlie's beeper collar on and at one point he decided to head off on a trail following his nose. I imagine it must have been the fresh scent of a deer. He came back and I decided enough was enough. I wasn't forgetting that collar next time!

The creek provided me with some beautiful ice formations to look at. I admit it. I am a ice/frozen falls/water junkie! I just can't get enough of searching for them.

Doesn't Mother Nature make some of the coolest formations with water?

We live in a 'hollow' which means that the sun disappears from the sky a bit earlier than it does on the ridge. I called to my faithful dog and goat and we headed back up the ridge road.

My two pals and I headed home to do chores and make supper.
We'd had quite the day.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

A Day with a Veteran

Veteran's Day is publicized, I see it on Facebook, all sorts of meme's and photos with little cute/well meaning/proud/ sayings about thanking a veteran.

Many of the Vietnam Veterans stay silent. My husband ignores the day. He recalls that he was not thanked.
His kind were called names and vilified because they served his country in an extremely unpopular conflict.

He wants no thanks and no recognition. He did a job he was told to do and that is all he has to say about it.

When people come up to him and thank him, sometimes he is not sure exactly how to act. Mostly he quietly says thank you and moves on almost as if he is embarrassed.
We talked about that when the new 'movement' came about. It was after 9/11 and suddenly after losing people on our own soil, soldiers became appreciated?

My husband went to serve. He came home. He tried to begin a new life as a civilian again and be normal.

I didn't know him until we met much later in life. I never knew the before Vietnam Rich. I just met the ...way after...
after counseling and hospitalizations Rich.

So I did what he would have liked to do on this day. Just had a quiet day.

The neighbor kids came down late yesterday and brought Rich a hand drawn card and some Snickers bars.
That made him smile from ear to ear.

And that was enough for him.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Ice Fingers!

I had some time Friday afternoon to do some wandering around at the creek. With the fresh snow I was able to see where the deer had been making trails. I found one that looked 'as busy' as when the mules made a trail.

I see that the recent wet heavy snowfall had caused oak leaves to drop like crazy. I guess it was just startling to see them littering the fresh snow fall like some child had gotten hold of a pile of leaves and tossed them all just so perfectly!

I do enjoy how Mother Nature redecorates on a whim with her weather.

I wanted to see the change since the snowfall from two days earlier. The temperatures had dipped into the teens and down to the single digits overnight.
I knew that the water splashing in the creek would create 'ice fingers' on the blades of grasses and any weeds hanging over the creek.

...and I was right. A parsnip plant was bent over the water and the water and temperatures had made it into a pretty ice sculpture.

The tiny falls that is between our land and one of the neighbors had a thick little ice formation.

Everywhere I looked, there was ice!

I didn't have time to explore further down the valley, so I just stopped and watched the small trout flit back and forth along this place.

It is hard to explain how calming this little creek is. I am so lucky to have it within a five minute walk from the house.

While Rich is resting or watching TV, I can grab a little 'me' time and catch some very fresh air at the same time.

The temperatures have dipped again today and will be 6 degrees tonight. Oh happy Ice Fingers!

I'm opting for a hike in the Kickapoo Valley Reserve if I can swing it too this week.
I need to stop in at the Visitor's Center and see the photo contest display.

Two of my photos have made it to the Finals and they are announcing the winner on the 7th of December. That is my little planned get away visit so I won't be able to be present.

Below are the two photos that made it to the finals.
If chosen, they will be used on the KVR's web page or brochures for promotion.

I'm okay with that. I really like the the Reserve.