Tuesday, March 31, 2020


Things are quiet at our place.
The weather was nice yesterday and it will be today too.

Not much going on other than practicing Safe at Home, Stay at Home,...Isolation.

I have gone hiking with Charlie almost each day except during the thunderstorms.

For fun, I took the Infrared camera with me.  I tried a different filter that gave me a different light spectrum range for fun.

Hike around home:

The reddish color is from the greens reflecting light with the 550nm filter.

I've finally gotten a handle on the process since ON1 software added a mode in its Develop section that allows you to pick how the image looks on the LCD of your camera. This means the program will select the white balance I set instead of picking a white balance that the program would like to select.

This makes a huge difference in Infrared Photography and is a great work around.

Kudos for ON1 for doing that and adding a selection for color channel swap.

Yesterday since it was still too wet to do any yard/garden work, I took Charlie for a walk down in Tainter Hollow.

Here is Charlie on the trail which disappears about 1/4 of a mile down stream. I had to wade through downed golden rod and other weeds to continue our hike and on deer trails.

Charlie had a rough go of it with his short legs. He is quite the trooper. I did carry him through the worst of it though.

We enjoyed walking and watching trout.

Aside from getting my mules feet trimmed this week and then I can go another 6 to 8 weeks without having anyone come to the farm.
This is a good thing. The mules need trimming and I need them for foraging for leeks, parsnip, and later on...morels.
Stay safe.
Be well.

Stay at Home.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

It rained today...all day!

...and I cleaned the house already and got supper stuff ready...
Laundry is put away...

So... Time to get out the toys and play. Here is "Creepy Baby" with his Funky Frogs imitating the Pinky and the Brain Show:

Whaddya wanna do tonight Creepy?
What we do every night! Take over the World!

[Some won't recall this show, but my kids loved it and so did I.]

....And they said Social Distancing Did NOT matter!!!

Think about it.

And this Dragon is practicing...Safe at Home.

The Unicorns didn't listen once before...but they are now.

These were shots from yesterday before I headed down the valley to look for skunk cabbage and marsh marigolds with Charlie.

 How it sometimes feels....

And lastly? I'll get around to working on my next set of Infrared Shots. I used a different filter this time and am finally getting the 'hang' of it.

Here is a teaser:

Good night all...

Friday, March 27, 2020

Stay At Home is not new to me

When we were kids, mom packed us up in the car a few days after school let out and we made a long drive 'Up North' to spend the summer in a small cottage on the same property as my Grandparents, Fred and Pearl.

From our cottage you could not see any other house other than Grandma and Grandpa's place. My Uncle and wife...and kids for a time lived on Grandpa's old place. We could walk there to play with cousins.

At first, my Grandparents had a party line for their phone. It was a few years later that you could actually dial direct. I recall sitting in the their kitchen and Grandpa getting on the party line to catch up on the gossip going around.

It was the Facebook of the early 60's!

Grandma cooked on a woodstove. We had an electric stove in our cottage.
Grandpa had a tiny TV that was black and white...I think. At first I thought summer programming only consisted of baseball games.

I can recall my sister and I playing crazy eights and keeping a score for the whole summer. We used the back of old envelopes as to never waste a piece of paper.

A game we played
I'm the one leaping over the stick.

We created games to play and rarely told anyone 'there is nothing to do!' No TV, no real radio, no electronics. Just a lot of imagination and self entertaining.

So now we are are in what some people are calling a 'lockdown'. Well, it is a stay at home order. Or as our Governor says #SaferatHome. He softened the words.

We can go to local state and county parks, walk our dogs or other pets. Playgrounds are closed.
It hasn't affected me that much. Last week I was stressed out as I'd gotten into a routine going to CrossFit each day.

This week? My mind has turned to tasks at hand. Fencing, clearing burdock plants, worming the equine, figuring out how to trim feet on my own. Clearing the garden of weeds, fixing a flat tire on the lawn mower....

And I am doing it. I have buckled down and redone the front pasture just as I thought it should be done. And it works better than ever before...but just don't tell Rich!
I actually sat down and drew it all out on paper first. I spent a whole afternoon working on it. When done, I kept the drawings and stuck them in my journal. My drawings suck, but they are reminders of how I am learning to help myself get through a problem by working it out visually on paper instead.

We had a funny conversation the other morning.

Him: Can you shoot squirrel?
Me: Of course I can.
Him: Times get tough, you'll need to get us squirrel.
Me: Okay but I'm not sure how to clean it.
Him: I'll talk you through it.
...He winks.

I have eaten squirrel. I've even had mystery meat in a burger that Grandma cooked on a 'Smokey Joe' that my mom had brought for grilling while we were there for the summer.

I'm settled into a good routine now and don't miss the outside world that much ... like I did last week.
I have jobs to do.

And oh...so much more. The shed is waiting its next organizing effort too.

I did find skunk cabbage today on our walk.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

And so it goes..

Tonight as I sat out by the tiny fire I'd made for burning burdocks, I listened to the coyotes sing and off in the distance just as dark fell...

that male pheasant gave out on last loud call....

And the Hoot Owls began their nightly songs.

I'd gone to the store on Tuesday during the Senior Shopping hour at our local Quillians store.
I was the only human aside from the manager, check out person and a lady with her father.

I scored 3 potatoes and some apples and ONE onion!

A CrossFit friend of mine who is a Soviet Union Immigrant put things in perspective for me.

I still got potatoes. I still got groceries. AND I do NOT have machine gun fire nor do I have tanks rolling down my street.

We live out in the country which is pretty darned isolated. We live on a dead end road.

This morning my husband asked me if I could hunt squirrel. He then proceeded to give me a bit of a lesson of how you have to let them sit still in a tree and nail them in the head.
I recall my mother telling me the same stories. About how her dad gave her 3 bullets for the .22 and told her to come home with 3 squirrels. I think she never failed at her task.

I'm not saying that we'll have to hunt squirrels to survive. But I am saying that my hunting backround could help in a pinch.
And then I think about how lucky I am to live in such a place.

I was raised with learning the skills of fishing, hunting, and growing a garden. I was raised to learn how to put together a meal that did not come from a package or box.
[EWWW...I hate cooking!]
I learned how to make bread without a bread making machine thingy.

This week I have to trim...somehow...my mules hooves. Yes. Shelter in Place doesn't include hoof trims.
My eldest mule will help with spring foraging for parsnip roots and morels.

My other mules will be used for much of the same purposes. Foraging wild food. IF I had a harness and a plow I'd use them for turning over the garden. Alas, I don't.

I want Rich NOT to get sick. And he is perfectly happy being a Hermit. His VA Nurse called today and put off his visit with his PCP until October.

So tonight I set small fires to the burdock I'd pulled for hours.
I didn't think about all the world problems, I thought about Burdock and I thought about making supper.

And I did not think of all the what ifs....

And that is good enough for me right now.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Distance Hike

So my friend Mr. Bill was desperate to get OUT of the house and yard to do something different.

I texted him Friday morning and said I was still going for the 3 mile hill hike at about 1pm if he cared to join me.
He replied that even though it was cold and windy, he'd go.

We kept our distance from each other and I took him on the tour of our hills, valleys, and creeks. We crossed our little creek and he inquired if it ran down to join Readscreek and I found myself explaining our 'watershed' to him. I also told him that the locals, the old locals [as we are old ourselves] called Readscreek ... Blackbottom.

When we got to the old logging road above the Back Valley he stopped and stared and was in awe. I asked him if he wanted to go down and walk along the stream and he said YES!
I informed him that we would be doing some stream hopping and rock jumping. He said fine.

I remarked that all the balance activities we did in CrossFit really applied well to light jumps over rocks to criss cross the creek. Plus the steep hillsides were excellent leg and cardio workouts.

Bill asked me how the heck I didn't get turned around in this vast 'wilderness'. I said at first I did but that was 26 years ago and I'd been exploring this acreage ever since I'd moved to the area. I felt like I knew every rock and tree. I certainly knew just about every trail made by the 4 wheelers and the deer.

When I guided him to the edge of the largest ravine/dry run on the land and had him look down he simply just stood there.

And all he could say over and over is 'Wow!'

He went on about what a great place this was to explore and I reminded him that it still was private property but the owner let me have free run of the place and in a way I felt like it was my own playground/backyard. Especially since I've been exploring this land and mine for all these years.

This was a very safe way to socialize and practice social distancing. We didn't have to drive in separate cars to the Kickapoo Valley Reserve, and we could maintain our distance and walk right out back, so to speak.

I had another person ask me if she could come over and go with me. I'm not sure about that. She has 5 children.
I'm certainly going to think long and hard about it.

I want to be polite but also safe. Open air hiking is encouraged but I think now they are recommending no one outside of your household.

That would just mean...Charlie and I.
Oh and Sven.

Things feel surreal.

Friday, March 20, 2020

New and different

So for my Master Naturalist Class, we had to have a daily...or weekly journal of things observed including birds, insects, wild life, ...you get the idea.

I purchased a nice book with pages of 100lb paper stock weight so I could past photos of observations.
That came to a screeching halt last Sunday as the classes are cancelled.

I glued in the last photos I'd taken and decided to continue anyway and make it a personal journal as I used to keep one from Junior year in high school until I started a blog.

I find that getting OFF the internet is satisfying in so many ways. I won't be pasting any photos in the book for a long time now. I may resort to drawing again!

I think this will be my personal thoughts and observations for the duration of this Pandemic. Just notes, temps, observations, and random thoughts...that is good enough for me...
and it keeps me away from reading all that horrid news.

I've also decided to see what I had on hand and be a bit creative when I have to be quiet while hubby is napping and it is pouring cats and dogs outside.

Eventually spring will appear -- this morning it is snowing and blowing after an inch of rain yesterday.

The daffy's are trying to poke up in the yard and the tulips are making an appearance.

In the woods the leeks are poking up also.

I found some nettles sprouting and will gather them to add to our vegetables or make some tea.

As soon as I get another good sunny day I will be hunting wild parsnips in the valley. They are hard to clean, a pain to chop up and prepare, but taste wonderful when sauteed.

We are practicing isolation here. Yesterday I took Charlie to the vet and he got his shots updated. The vet was wearing a mask and gloves. Her eyes looked tired and wary.
It was an awkward situation. Normally she and her staff are so cheery and outgoing. Yesterday it was obvious that I was seen as a possible infection. I asked her if she was going to close down and she avoided my eyes and said..."It's and hour by hour situation."

I dropped by the feed store and picked up Senior Feed for the elder mules. The Ag guy and I too kept our distances. I said thanks and hopefully I'd see him again..and stay well.

Our community is however doing great things in town. Neighbors texting neighbors, "I'm going to the store? Can I get you something?"
The bike brigade taking meals to the elderly and leaving the meals at their doors.

McDonalds in town giving meals to children between the hours of 11 and 2pm. Free meals.

I'm proud of our rural community.

This afternoon a neighbor will come over and we will hike the neighboring land together. We will be out and distanced but still able to exchange conversation. Human contact is important.

In the mean time. My bathtub is now sparkling! Dust has been banished from all surfaces.
I'm actually trying to plan meals.

I'm looking forward to foraging.

The old mule will be my pack animal.
Life is different, but doable.

Our CrossFit community has set up a Zoom thing? We can all get on line and see each other at 5pm each day? I'm going to try that.

I'm also grateful that my MIL is now in a home. It is the safest place she can be in right now.

And this extra time will allow me to explore some more digital art.

Hope you are all well.

Stay safe.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

I Touched a Trout

Oh the photo stinks but ever try shooting into the surface of the water and under a rock?

But I went to the creek to sit for a while. I decided to let all those crappy things stay up at the house on my to do list.
I needed the sound of water and some fresh air.

One of the very first things I noticed when I got down by the creek was a water ripple that splashed around and stopped. I stood stock still. Trout fish are so shy and quick to hide. I saw what I thought was the body pattern of a trout, it had to be a very small one to get up into this shallow place.

Slowly I squatted down and stayed there for a while, just watching and waiting. I took a few shots with my tiny camera. The trout didn't move though I could see him/her. It was a fingerling. As long as my pointing finger. I set the camera on the rock above it and slowly reached in with my finger.

I touched a trout.
That was amazing.
So I backed up and moved the large rock that it was under.
Quicker than the eye could follow... the trout flitted and went downstream.

I decided to find another spot to just squat and peer down into the creek bottom. It took a while but I started to see movement below me in and about the rocks and tiny granules of sand.

I found a pouch snail. Note the tiny Caddisfly stone houses around it. I dipped the camera into the water for this shot. [I like that it is water proof!]

Below is one of the more curious finds in a while. I found the Scud Bugs, they were scuttling about and Caddisfly larvae were not far off.
But this creature was really bizarre looking.

and it was pretty darned ugly in a way.

I got out my handouts from the Master Naturalist course. The chart from the book Wonderful,Wacky, Water Critters helped me figure out the creature. Six legs, 3 tails....

The tails got me closer to it. I 'googled' 3 tail Mayfly larvae and found much better photos of it.

I studied this Mayfly larvae to see where in the stream it was staying and decided to come back and see how many more times I could see them until they morphed into something else.

I walked up stream and stopped in another place where the water was not rushing.

Another new creature!

Well, obviously not 'new'. But new in the sense that I'd never examined the creek's bottom before like this.

A beetle of some sort. A Riffle Beetle? A Whirligig Beetle?

I kept up my search of images and settled on a Crawling Water Beetle. The images matched as did the description of where it liked to live.
They don't swim, they crawl.

It's name or bug family is Haliplidae. I like the Crawling Water Beetle better as it describes how it moves.

I finally decided to head home excited about my finds.




Monday, March 16, 2020

Plan B

My neighbor and friend Bill planned on working out at the Wellness Center this morning. He was not aware that they had closed the gym with no plans at this time of reopening....well, until I texted him early this morning.

He just texted back:
He said "I need to go to plan B. Wait, I don't have a plan B."
I texted him back and said, "Home workouts, raking, bicycle, light jogging, fresh air, creative ways to do upper body weights..."

Next text: Can we do a really hard hike this week?
My answer: Sure. I have a 3 mile killer hike. We can start at my driveway and it will take us through two valleys.

I'll be looking up workouts to keep up my current upper body strength.

Next text from Bill: Will I get hurt on your hard hike?
My answer: Of course not! Hard in the way that there are two valleys and lots of steep hills but the trails are good and I've taken kids on them.

I thought that was funny sort of. If he wanted a hard fast hike, I'd give it to him for the leg burn.

There is plenty of space for us to hike and stay separate. However that may come to a swift end soon if positives are found in the county.

But anyway.

Plan B for exercise? Well I am still working on Plan A for staying home.
I have one more errand tomorrow and that is to pick up the taxes.
I dropped into Walmart [eeks !] to grab some coffee.
I needed some seeds also.
The garden and hardware sections were void of people. The food isles were full of people. NO toilet paper, no napkins, no paper towels, and two boxes of Kleenex were left.

I told Rich we were going to go back to cloth for napkins and wiping up messes.

I'm all done in for right now. The Patient Advocate for the VA says she is getting the run around on the claim I've been trying to work on for 18 months. She told me to call the White House Hot Line. Um. Okay?

The oncologist we were going to see tomorrow called. He asked to be on speaker phone so he could talk with the both of us.
[I moved that appointment assuming it was just a 15 minute consult and congrats on being clean for almost 5 years]

Um. No. He wanted a Nuclear Medicine Bone Scan. Rich's CT scan from last month showed 'something' a bit out of the ordinary. Then he mentioned the C word and my heart stopped. He went on to downplay it but to tell us he was scheduling a scan as soon as he could.
He said not to be concerned over this, it was probably nothing, but if it was cancer it might just be prostrate or bone or...well, when we saw the Urologist we could be better informed for .... options.

[Did he say that? I don't know, somehow my brain sort of had a disconnect when he said cancer.]
I thought NO.
No...no no.

He then assured us that this was normal operating procedure and he'd put the consult in right away for the bone scan.
He hung up after wishing us a nice day.
Hey, this guy is nice...but hmm.

Rich was unconcerned. He shrugged and then patted my hand and told me not to worry. He smiled and said "But of course you will! YOU won't sleep for weeks now!"

He turned back to his Western and pushed play.

Plan A & B had just changed.

Hey. Why not address Pandemics and Cancer all in the same day, right?

We will see what happens.

I need a Plan C.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

And it was Friday...the 13th...

I went to my regular CrossFit time and was able to write up a warm up for anyone else who happened to show up.

So myself and my friend Bill were the only ones to show up. My membership ends on Monday so I figured this would be my last day in the Wellness Center.

The COVID-19 was splashed in the news everywhere. The amount of people on the other side of the gym was diminished greatly.

Our coach was in the process of renting a place for us. Everyone was excited. Me? Not so much. I told Bill that after this, I was not going to be around 'crowds'. Not so much for myself but I need to keep my husband safe.

I hit Walmart afterward and picked up some fresh lettuce and fruits and some pepper. I saw people with gallons of milk in their carts and signs up with limits on certain goods. The isle for hand sanitizers was barren. I know you can make that stuff fairly easily and I had everything at home in my bag of vet/human first aid things.

I picked up veggie seeds and an extra bag of food for Charlie.
Then I headed for the Kickapoo Valley Reserve.

And we hiked the Wintergreen Trail.
There I am a rare photo thanks to Bill of me after climbing a hillside to 
show Bill one of the ice caves.

Pictures from our hike.
Bottom of fern leaf on the bluff

Infrared shot from the lookout

And of course our pace setter...Charlie...

When I got home I opened my emails.

Banking should be on line or the drive up.
Master Naturalist Class was now cancelled.
All WI schools were cancelled as of Wednesday.
The VA had procedures for appts. Line up to get in the parking lot to get screened. Telehealth.
The nursing homes instituted more severe restrictions.
Local restaurants asked patrons to 'order out' and not eat in.

I spent most of the night awake even though I was tired.

How was our life going to change?
I didn't have to really wonder very much. Things were going to be a crapshoot.

I felt pretty lucky. Spring was coming.
Foraging in the woods would be a wonderful way to get exercise and fresh wild veggies.

And as always. Things are rapidly changing again today, Sunday.
The schools are closed now and won't extend until Wednesday.
A tent is being set up to triage people in the hospital parking lot.

I am done being a part of the madness. I am going to actively become isolated for my husband's sake.

Friday, March 13, 2020

Meanwhile in our valley

March 7th and 8th were the Big Run Off days of snow melt. Charlie had his first exposure to a mini flash flood of foamy snow water mixed with sand and silt.

He was curious and as soon as the water and foam hit his chest he turned and leapt onto my lap. I was soaked! I hugged him and in a few minutes he was back watching the water but keeping clear of it.

I invited the neighbors to come and check it out on Sunday and they did.

And they enjoyed their time in the creek.

I went back down the next day to check out what things looked like after the wash out. What would happen to those Sow Bugs? How about the Caddisflies?

That is a dime on a rock next to two Caddisfly stone 'houses'.

Inside,... the larvae had changed.

So I sat very still and decided to just watch the water below my feet.
There were little trails across the rocks. Some were moving!

So tiny yet cool!

How ingenious! The Caddisfly moves with its house!

I hope to catch them in their next phase of growth.

And then I found the Scud Bugs. Again by accident in a way.
I stepped in a spot that I suspected was a new spring and the spoiled leaf detritus floated away with Amphiopod Scuds.

I watched them for a while then lifted another rotten leaf and more floated away I watched them as they eventually found themselves washed against more rocks and vegetation. They seemed to wiggle their way under the leaves.

Now I think I read that they often resemble their surroundings which may explain why some were light colored and some dark colored.

I sat back on a boulder and just admired the stream and it creatures. Overhead I heard the robins, cardinals, and other birds.
As Charlie and I walked home through the pasture we heard a Ring Necked Pheasant call out.

My day was complete. Mother Nature never stops with her surprises. It just takes patience and a keen eye for details.
All I know is that I am having a great time and I don't have to travel very far.

I can't wait to get back down to The Creek.