Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Stay home ?

There I am in my outdoor hiking 'stuff'. I set my little red camera down on a mossy rock in the middle of the creek and was trying to fiddle with my smartphone to make it take a photo remotely.

I guess it worked once more!

I like to sit here and just listen to the creek.

Then it was time to try one with Charlie.
It didn't turn out very well and you can barely see Charlie!
He really wasn't in the mood for selfies or photographs of any kind.

He was really into trying to chase squirrels and pesky chipmunks.

I went about the woods looking for trees that may or may not provide us with a fantastic Morel Mushroom treat!

Last year I found enough for us to eat and then plenty to dehydrate also.

I came home and started putting up the fence where I'd taken it down last fall when the folks that were going to cut down trees were going to come by.
I decided to put in a gate in a different spot and ran wire.

I created a new lane they could walk down to get into the shaded and breezy north side pasture on hot days.

I thought I'd done a pretty fair job of it and Rich had to walk up to check it out.
This in itself was huge.
Rich had not walked any further than going to the car in a year. He had to rest part of the way up the hill but he came up and looked at my job.

He pronounced the job just okay and then asked how I wired it. I had taken his lessons on electric fencing very seriously so I showed him. He nodded and said I needed to wait longer to let the mules in on grass and brush, but I don't agree.

Better to change them over slowly to pasture from hay than to put them out on tall grasses. I'll get my way.

He walked back to the house and sat on the bench.
Charlie joined him!

I considered the day a grand success and decided to call it an evening. The last of the fencing could wait for a few days.

Charlie has taken to sitting on the bench and watching the world as long as I toss his rag rug up there.
He will sit and watch the world for hours in between doggy naps.

I am meeting up with Bill again tomorrow for a Socially Distancing hike at Tainter Hollow. The Bluebells ought to be blossoming. I told Bill we could look for Morels too.
I noticed last time we were out that he still was not quite the upbeat and crazy Bill I'd known in CrossFit. I think his 'cold' was tough on him and he told me it was his routine of fitness had been so disrupted that he just didn't feel as good.

It is Bill's first year of being retired and the first time in 10 yrs that he didn't go daily to the gym.

My last note.
I've become a bit fascinated with taking some self portraits of myself during this time. I've found out that I am not as adverse to these shots as I can plan them out.

I may look sad and isolated looking out the kitchen window.
But I wasn't. The sun setting sun was reflecting off the large metal shed and I was pondering my flower garden and yard work.

Nothing serious. But I thought it would provide interesting light.

The baseball cap is a constant of mine for my always messy hair.

My hands are rough, my face is aged and time worn. But I am coming to terms with that too.
After all, we do age. Yet inside I still feel a bit like a kid.

Who else puts Dragons in their flower garden???


COVID-19 Day 36 since the Governor ordered Stay at Home.

But actually around 45 days since we've decided to stay home and out of the general public.

Stay well, stay safe.
We are doing well.
...and very lucky we are able to stay at home.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Finding Peace

It is a strange world out there and I imagine so many people are fatigued by the daily news which has overtaken every which way we turn.
Daily death counts.
Maps of infections.

Worries. Isolation Fatigue.
And I wonder how long social creatures like ourselves can stay un-social. I know my husband hasn't been bothered and I have found a work around sort of.

Yesterday early morning, I did some work in the pasture then some work in the little new garden.
By the time late lunch rolled around I was ready for something different.

I loaded up my back pack and headed the two miles down the gravel road to the DNR public land. Tainter Hollow or I as I call it, Tainter Land.

I was hoping to be able to find some of the more incredible spring emphemeral plants like the Trout Lily and the Virginia Bluebell.

At first I walked along the stream and noted the cow parsnip that was coming up in the areas that would be in full shade once the trees got their leaves. A reminder that come mid summer the best way to explore this place would be to stay on mowed paths due to the wild parsnip and cow parsnip.
However, spring is one of those times that a person can venture off path without much harm.

I found white anenome flowers spritzed in with the cow parsnip.

I didn't find Bluebells.
I didn't find Blood Root.
I didn't see Trout Lilies.

I turned and head downstream along the worn footpath. In some places it is worn from trout fisherman and in other spots, it is worn from the beavers.

I walked on towards the place where Bill and I had seen the Bluebells coming up earlier this week. I also vaguely reminded myself to keep an eye out for Charlie's camouflaged leash that I'd dropped somewhere.

I'd brought my mini tripod along and an ND filter. I thought I'd grabbed the proper polarized filter, but I hadn't.

I thought I'd experiment with the filter anyway and take some long exposures. I should have had my tall but very heavy tripod. But I didn't want to carry something that cumbersome while skipping along beaver and deer trails.

So here are some efforts just for fun.

These were okay, and sort of fun to do.

But nothing worth displaying as my best work at all. Just fun. In the last photo at least you can see the swirls in the streams current. I thought that was pretty neat. Come mid summer, the grasses and the weeds will be about 8 feet tall on the banks.
Perhaps it would be worth it to come back with tall boots and stand in the shallow parts of the stream. Heck, I wouldn't mind getting wet as hot as it gets in this steep valley.

Anyway...on I went.
I found the Virginia Bluebells! Some blossoms were just beginning to open up.


The stream slows down and widens out at the base of this cliff. I was fascinated by the almost pure reflections in the waters.

I came around the corner where the stream took on a new course and I spent a while exploring the new twists and turns.

The stream cuts back and forth in a zig zag pattern here. I had to climb through old log jams and piled up brush from previous flash floods to follow the bank.

I eventually got to where I really wanted to go. IF I'd been wearing high waterproof boots and had a walking stick, I'd have crossed the stream at this point.
Instead, I stayed on the bank and did what was sensible.

I've seen this spot more than once and just felt I needed to come and take a long exposure of the stream bouncing along these rocks.
I am pretty sure I can cross safely here and get another angle. However since this is a cell phone dead zone and a fairly remote area, I should wait until I have someone with me. Or next time I just will bring my stick...and cross.

Something about this spot. The angle of the twisted tree, the rocks, and the opposite shore makes this a spot begging to be 'shot'. Well, at least in my mind.

I spent a lot of time here just watching and listening to the water music.

I hiked back out to the gravel road and put everything away in my backpack and walked the short distance back to the parking area.

I swear! Someone tricked me!

Not 10 feet from my Subaru I found Trout Lilies hiding in the Anenomes!

Well now....

Seems I had to go the whole route around the stream to come back to where I started to...
I had been looking for!

As I pulled out of the parking area, I glanced towards the opposite side of the road and spotted Dutchman Breeches and Blood Roots.

I headed home anyway happy with my adventure and a longing to come back in a few days to explore again.

The land is so peaceful and comforting.

Shallow waters tumbling
over the rocks
Drown out today's news
and sorrows....

...and I didn't find the leash!

Monday, April 27, 2020

The Garden Dog

The whole idea was to extend my garden a bit and make it easier to mow.

just plant more flowers so I'd have more to look at!

Ignore the broken down is
a project to be taken care of..
one day....

So I started putting the mulch down on the 'walkway' and re-arranging other parts of the garden.

I gathered up my collection of odd rocks and put them all in one spot, so I can admire them.

Really, aren't they odd and strange rocks? I want to say they are concretions, but I have never had any one tell me exactly what they are.

Odd and strange fossils are abundant in our area.

Apparently Charlie believes I put the dirt out just for him to sunbathe in. Won't he be surprised when I put seeds in there?

It seems as if the Unicorns have started to move in.....
I hope they like the big barn I built for them out of a coffee can.

Oh and the Rat Skeleton! Well, I was building this 'garden' on the idea that it would be fun for kids or adults to walk through the flowers and find odd and interesting things.
I intend on continuously changing it of course.

The Squirrels? Well, the Rabbits will come soon and hide out between flowers and stumps I imagine.

Okay...this was a Christmas Card holder...but...
I'm putting it in the garden...
the head bobbles...
It was one of the strangest gifts I've ever had. I've had a mind to toss it, but oddly enough I can't just toss it. I find myself putting it away for a while, then bringing it out again.
People can't help themselves by touching the head and watching it nod wisely.

Maybe this reindeer thing is wiser than the rest of us.

But maybe I just got a Garden Dog instead...

~~ that look...
Charlie has the right idea. Just lay out in the sun light and don't worry about a thing.
I wish I were Charlie!

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Good and Bad

Old Fred is at least 33 years old. You can see it in his face. The mule who hates being caught, let me approach him and give him a long grooming!

He is still the feisty little pony mule but a bit less 'full of it'. He loves his Senior Feed and comes running for it.
Here you can see the age in his face and across his back. Time awaits no one, right?

So I asked, begged, and egged my husband to see if I could get some dirt for a project that I've wanted to do for a while now. I wanted him to take dirt from an old compost pile of manure and put it under the kitchen window on the east side of the house.

Much to my surprise, while I wasn't paying attention to Rich who had been sitting on the porch...I heard the skid steer start up and viola!

The bearded wonder had not only gotten into the skid steer out in the shed, but had started it and delivered dirt!

Somehow I think this Hermit Life is working for him perfectly!
[The day after this photo, he clipped his beard and now sports a clean face with a goatee and mustache.]

Above is the area that I wanted to make into more garden. I wanted a place to put out my 'non' Fairy Garden.

First load...

 After the second and third load of fresh compost.

I had a LOT of shoveling and raking to do. I sort of had a plan, but nothing fixed in my 'head'. I knew that I wanted a walk way down the middle of it so I could weed from the middle when the plants were up. And I wanted a nice looking border, but decided to use what was available already.

So ....there are the rocks from an obscure place that I'd stored them years ago. The plastic is from old round bale covers that were shredded. I found some flat rocks to use as stepping stone and  filled the missing 'steps' for now with old bricks until I can find the perfect rocks and carry them up from the creek.

I love rocks. I'd love to display the rocks as much as the garden so it will take me a bit to get the just right rocks for the pathway.

I added some gnarly stump pieces from the woods. They will be part of the Unicorn and Dragon hideouts.
After all, can't I just be a kid and have some fun? I don't mind gnomes either, but apparently they are not welcome in this garden either....

As I said, a Dragon/Unicorn garden. The Fairies can go find another place, however they will probably show up.

A look at the walk way that needs mulch and new stones...

I had to spend most of the day waiting for a UPS delivery that has to be signed for. The new way of doing things is that the driveway physically has to see the person to make the delivery and then he signs for you so there is no contact between him and the customer.

After getting the meds, I decided to listen to some music on my phone and get down to the business of picking out the weeds from my vinca ground cover bed and dig out the areas that I'd plant 4 o'clocks in if I can't get petunias or marigolds.

The rest of the afternoon was spent planting two rather sad looking tomato plants in buckets along with moving dirt and weeding around the rest of the house.

This requires very close work on the knees or sitting. I have to be careful to pull out last year's dead stuff and pick only the crabgrass and other tiny weeds that surround some of the bulbs that haven't come up yet.
These are blazing stars.
My daffies blossom first near the house. The bleeding hearts join in a bit later along with the irises. 
The vinca provides a pretty dark green ground cover with purple flowers.

Late summer I hope to have some pots with blossoms of some sort in them.

It all depends on how available these things are and IF I can actually shop for them safely.

I went into my seed bucket I kept in the basement. It is a bucket I use to deposit all the seeds I've picked from my sunflowers and other flowers that I gather the seeds for each year.

I was upset to find that mice had somehow found my seeds! I have plenty of orange cosmos and some zinnia seeds, but most of the 4 o'clocks were eaten along with the sunflower seeds.

Good thing I keep back up packets!
Next year...I'll keep them in a sealed container. And the mice will have traps to contend with!

I hope to get some mulch today for the 'walkway' among other things. I figured to get this done before the large veggie garden and the mowing take over my time!

Two days ago we had our first confirmed case of Covid-19 in our county. It isn't like this virus knows county boundaries.
I see some friends who are now calling the outbreak a scam and that we should all just get on with our lives. I get that. They have families to feed and their hours have been cut. Things are dire all over.

I was told that the numbers were 'fake', deaths were 'fake', wearing masks was not warranted.
Let me rant here.

I get it.
But the state numbers are still creeping up as are the deaths. I don't have the answers but I know that I am deciding to keep isolated as much as possible.
The Hermit Life has been excellent for Rich. He is doing much better now than in the past two years!

He has been operating the skid steer, taking an interest in grooming, taking an active interest in what I am doing in the yard and gardens. This is HUGE!

So keep your 'fake' deaths, drink your disinfectant, believe the liar liar pants on fire. Go ahead and protest, yell, scream, ... but don't ask me to.

I'll go ahead and plant my Dragon garden, I'll enjoy being isolated. And yes, I am one of those lucky people at least for now...that can stay home.

I have a duty to protect my husband. And I will do so.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

It's okay not to be okay....

The other day I got an email from our CrossFit coach, Josh, that was a mini read by a man named Jon Gordon. I looked him up and he is an author of what I would classify as 'Self Help' promotions and books. You can read about him at the link if you like.

But the email addressed the fact that it IS okay not to Feel Okay right now. Of course he offered words of encouragement that really struck a cord with me. I've gone back to read those words more than once in the past few days.

Because with the mounting death tolls of the Coronavirus, the politics, the demonstrations, the economic outlook, and then the possibility of staring this thing in the face for a very long time...
well, it seems that there is no more normal.
Everything I thought I had planned out for our future is no longer our future.

I texted my neighbor and CrossFit friend who I haven't seen for weeks and we met up on a back road to take a walk. A Distancing Walk with Charlie to just talk and just walk. We used to kid each other that we were the Elderly CrossFit people.

I stopped Bill and said I needed a photo of him in Tainter Land. He quipped that I'd ruin the scenery and the photo of course.

No, it didn't Bill.

We talked about our futures and ideas. He has worked for a nursing home so we have no misconceptions about aging and futures but only to try hard to stay healthy and fit. We talked about 'at what point' do we give up our homes?
In light of recent events we discussed our luck in living a rural area. At the same time rural wouldn't be so great as we aged.

We didn't talk gloom and doom our whole time. Most of the walk was spent marveling at the scenery. Bill kept commenting on how amazing Charlie was with his tiny legs and seemingly boundless energy.
Bill talked endlessly about his grand children and how much he enjoyed having them around. The things he still wanted to show them and do with them.

We discovered the 'first' violet coming up on the valley floor. We spotted Virginia Bluebells all over the valley as we walked. We marveled at how the floods in recent years had wrapped trees around other trees, changed the flow of the stream, and piled boulders and rocks in so many odd places.

I took photos with my Infrared Converted camera and explained light spectrums as best I could with some limited knowledge.

We did as two people would do. We walked ... distanced... and talked. We enjoyed the outdoors and sunshine.

Maybe in that time we learned a lesson from Charlie.

Just live in the moment for right now...

And it is okay ... not to feel okay.
But we are trying not to let it bring us down.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Sunday Sunday...what is today?

It is a different time, no doubt about it.

People are protesting that their rights are being trampled on. We have a president who is egging on unrest to deflect from his own inadequate abilities and woefully irresponsible governing.

Okay. Enough of what I think.

Interestingly enough, this time of being 'locked' down hasn't affected us like it has others. We are a very rural farming community which grows the standard fare of crops. Corn, beans, and hay. Dairy Farms are suffering great losses due to no schools being open among other reasons.

My husband is used to living life in a hermit type way. I am not as much of a loner as he is, but I am settling into a life of being remote.
I did talk with my neighbors yesterday across our property fence. They live at the top of our driveway and are the only folks near enough for us to actually see and hear. The rest of our 'neighbors' are at least a quarter of a mile away or further.

They were setting up their garden. Being 'hungry' for talking to someone else, I did stand on my side of the fence and talk... a lot. We laughed when I asked... *This IS Sunday right?*
I knew what day it was, but somehow our world feels slightly obscure and surreal.

It had been 3 weeks since I'd gone to the grocery store. A record for me.

That is one of my masks. I felt odd wearing it, but I wasn't the only one in the store with a mask.
I went at 7am again and filled my basket. Many of the items I wished for weren't there.

Rich complained that I didn't bring home cookies. They weren't on my list and I noticed that he eats them as a constant snack. I purchased canned fruits instead.
Fresh fruits, tomatoes, and other fresh food was scarce in the store.
He is like having a finicky kid to feed. But I refuse to keep candy and cookies as a non stop snack food for him.
I put an apple in front of him when he complains.

These were our veggies last night. Sweet corn from our garden a year ago, sweet potatoes, and nettles! The nettles cooked up nicely and I ate them with butter, I saved some for tea later.

I will make a special trip to Walmart tomorrow morning as soon as they are open to get some items I couldn't get at  Quillians on Sunday. I need Qtips, toothpaste, ...seeds, and brownie mix, shampoo, and a few other items.

I need a trip to the feed store for Senior Feed for Fred and Mica too. Then I am finished for another few weeks I hope.

I feel okay. But the stress of dealing with Rich's memory/health issues on one hand and not getting de-stressed on the other hand do get to me on some days.

Those are the days when I need to get off the farm and out to the hinterlands of the public lands.

I am so grateful to my son Eddie for calling on Sunday evenings. To know that he is checking in on me is comforting.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Glimpses of us in Iso

I am normally NOT a person that does 'self' photography, but I was stuck inside waiting on a phone call from a doctor's office on rescheduling ...

I wanted to convey an emotion felt by so many isolated people out there. I cannot imagine having to stay indoors and not be able to get out and wander around.

I get antsy if I am not hiking or walking daily. I will pace the house or sit and be grumpy.
Obviously I wouldn't ever do well in solitary confinement.
Even the internet or TV streaming doesn't interest me!

I liked this shot even though it shows off my gloriously aging face which I am finally coming to terms with.
All those lines! I will attribute them to being outdoors all year round. Weather beaten features are handsome on a man, not so on a woman!

Here is a glimpse of our morning routine. Coffee, handwritten journal, sewing machine pushed to the side and laptop all on the table in a jumble. That is, before I cleaned up.

I had set my camera on a timer and then sat down to talk to Rich about what he would like for supper.

I set my little red camera up in front of me and used my smartphone to take shots of Rich without his knowing. He really doesn't like photos of himself. Probably since he refuses to get a haircut and hasn't bothered to trim his facial hair.

I ask a lot and he just ignores it. His hair, his face. Oh well.

But there it is ... that's how we are.

A friend of mine did an amusing photo session with his kids and himself. Placing himself in the same frame over and over again.

I just had to try it while I was sitting around.

I tried to get Charlie in on this but he wouldn't cooperate.

Oh wait!!!

Here is the final. I couldn't help but add this one in.

There I am! Stinky!

Glimpses of life stuck inside a tiny house.

Yes, there is Charlie's dog bone in the photo. I never even thought about removing it!

Have a good day.