Friday, December 30, 2022

About now...

It seems that everyone is doing this thing where they look back on the past year.

Photographers are flooding FB with their 9 or 10 BEST photos of the year. Flickr asks users to send in their number one photo of the year.

I cannot find a favorite for the life of me.

So, photography aside. My look back on this year?

It was okay and pretty good. We are both still upright each morning. We had no catastrophic incidents and I accomplished some goals as did Rich.

I feel amazing with all the specific workouts I've been doing with Angie, my coach.

All in all?

It was a pleasant year. Rich's daughter visited him three times! Each time it made Rich's world so much brighter for a day.

I don't do New Year's Eve resolutions because I've always broke them in the past. I have goals for the next year. We'll see what happens.

I'm looking forward to short term, day by day goals. 

Maybe doing the KVR Trail Challenge again? No one has ever done it back to back. I think I can accomplish that again especially now that I know all of the trails. 

I'll work on my keeping my bones challenged and keep up my new relationships with the new neighbors. Both of those items bring me a lot of joy and social relaxation.

I do have a few favorite photos. But they are regarding moments. Not stunning 'best' photos of the year.

Moments in time that I can look back on and say that in 2022 I did something important for myself.

Here is to continuing to live day by day and looking forward...



Thursday, December 29, 2022

The Nicest Little Girl

has become the nicest young lady. 

Her family was my 'upstairs' neighbor for about six years. I was pretty fortunate to get along with her mom and I enjoyed helping her out with her children once in a while if she needed it. 

They eventually sold the house and moved away and I've remained friends with mom and the kids.

Ambrosia is 18 now and is looking at journalism as a possible career and something to pursue in college. Currently she does assignments for a small local paper. Sometimes it is doing fact gathering and research and at other times she has to go to an event and take pictures along with her write up.

I gave her my old Nikon DSLR. She has been using it on auto and has really treated the camera well. She said it has come in very handy on assignments but she wanted to learn more because she was certain that she would be sent to cover sports events soon and wanted to have some guidance.

Our fun adventure today was to go find some ice formations and just walk and chat like we did when she was little. The conversation turned towards journalism, colleges, and careers.

We went to the look out first and I helped her do a run through on the Nikon. She took some photos from the look out and commented that her battery was really low. 

I had her remove the battery and stick it in her pants pocket next to her warm skin. She'd forgotten to bring her spare battery.


Every time I take this trail, I photograph this exact scene. It is amazing to go back through the past years and see how this view changes. The river was frozen over which is unusual this time of the year. Going out on the frozen river is not advised at all.

So Ambrosia learned a lesson in how to keep her battery warm in the cold weather.

We made it to the first ice falls and made our slippery way down the steep hillside.

When she could see the ice formation, I heard "Oh my. That is..."

I smiled. Yep. That. Is.

So we did a little photo lesson. We both had zoom lenses which would go from about 14mm to 200mm. We first shot the little ice formation at 14mm.

Then the 200mm zoom.

Ambrosia's comment was. "Look at the details!"

We moved further down the dry run near the Kickapoo River.
Again we did the same thing.

Zoomed in.

I pointed to the next section where there were two more ice formations and while we were looking at how to get to it, the wind picked up and started dropping snow on us.

I lifted the camera and said, "Shoot, shoot!"

We both marveled at the snow falling and blowing from the tree tops above.

Next up was an ice shelter and ice falls just to the south of the previous one.

I suggested she pick a composition and told her I was shooting for a black and white photo that showed off the zig zags and cascading ice falls.

We walked on and headed towards one more spot where the ice was forming.

Some fungi on a tree caught her eye and I told her to go for it.
I walked around behind her and took this:

Her battery was just about all done in, and we had to get back to her mom's house at a certain time.

She told me more about her journalism job and the schools she'd applied to and somehow we ended up talking about how to start a fire if we were lost with birch bark, birch wood, and chaga.

Her eyes brightened and she thought that would make a great story for her little local paper. "A story about winter camping!"
She paused, "And I could photograph the steps of doing it!"

"We have to do this more often," she said. She is a Senior now and going into her last semester. She said her class load will be a bit lighter and maybe...she ... we can get together more.

I hope so, she is one busy young lady, but still just as gentle and kind as ever. She juggles a lot of things, a part time job, school, and family obligations.

It was so much fun to see her discover things through the lens and then think up ideas of how she could use the camera. Spending time with her is always so enjoyable.

I'll go by the little bell on the blue yarn and ring it more often!

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Let's Break Something

 Oh darn!

Have you ever broken a toe? We all know how fun that can be. I did when I was a kid and ran around the corner of our old 2 room cottage barefoot and split that little toe off a door frame.

I was probably only 8 at the time and I hollered and fell to the floor. Mom came along and told me to cut it out. Stop being a baby. 
I sucked up those tears. One learned never to cry in front of mom. She wasn't exactly Miss Empathy. 
That toe turned purple and I limped around for part of that summer. But oh gosh, that pain!

After being up most of the night with Fred, the mule, I decided to take a nap. I had been thoroughly chilled and thoroughly exhausted.

I was sound asleep when I heard pounding on our back door. No one pounds on our doors. No one except maybe a delivery that needs signing by UPS. But I always track packages. I burst up out of bed and flew towards our bedroom opening...

Oh, you guessed it. That same little toe decided to go up against the frame. I hopped and continued to the back door. There was the neighbors from across the ridge with their annual Christmas bag of treats. Incredible dried apple slices and some candies!

I guess I was bleary eyed with no glasses and my hair probably sticking up all over the place...

"Oh did we wake you?" I tried to smile politely. I'm sure it looked like something between a frightful grimace and a crooked sneer. 
I explained and they decided not to stick around and chat. Besides it was still below zero out.

I must have looked a fright, trying to peer at their blurry faces and be pleasant while I was really tempted to just start screaming at the fire in my little toe.

I waved goodbye with a mental reminder to text them thank you for the treats and then sat down on the kitchen floor and rocked back and forth holding my foot.

All the ruckus woke up Rich and he walked in wanting to know why the heck was I on the floor? Charlie licked my face.

I cannot believe what incredible purples a toe can turn! So pretty! 

I admired the different hues of purple and red as I iced it that evening. Putting that toe into a boot for chores was even more fun.

At least the weather was cold and I didn't have to go anywhere.

Rich was ever so helpful. He suggested I sit outside and stick my toe in the deep cold snow. Yeah baby, it was -12 F that night. 
At least he still has his wicked sense of humor.

It's the small things in life that make
you smile 

Tuesday, December 27, 2022


 After days of brutal cold, the temperature on Sunday was up to -4 when I got the itch to take a walk after chores.

The wind was from the NW, so I thought I'd put on the snowshoes and head along the tree line through the summer meadow and walk down the ridge trail and retrieve one of the trail cams so I could see if it still had any battery power after The Big Chill.

The wind chill was still pretty cold so I put on my balaclava mask and some clip on sunglasses to protect my eyes from the bright snow. I took only my little pocket camera which I could keep inside my breast pocket so it wouldn't freeze.

Once I got down into the forest, I got rather warm. The green jacket I am wearing is awesome. If I was going for a long snowshoe trek, I'd have to wear lighter clothing under the coat to keep from sweating.

These are my old Cabela's Snowshoes. I purchased these ...gosh...maybe 20 years ago? I've replaced the back straps but these snowshoes just keep on giving even with all the abuse I give them.

I've walked over rocks and jumped creeks with these. I've used them to brush bust through the woods and climb over logs. It is pretty fun considering a person has to approach each obstacle a bit differently than if wearing boots only.

These are my tracks along with deer and other creatures looking back towards the summer pasture.

Mother Nature's fierce winds create amazing sculptures. She makes the most interesting patterns in the snow.

Snow that looks like a sand dune! It was surprisingly hard packed and not soft at all.

Then there were leaves scattered across an area where no oaks were. I imagine the powerful winds blew leaves to all sorts of places.

I just liked the leaf and shadow against the all white.

I didn't spend too long out in the meadow, the light breeze was a bit cold. 

Towards evening I got a text from Olive. Would we like a home made pizza? She would be down to deliver it after the Packers game.

Gosh, who would refuse something like that? 

She was supposed to make pizzas for her family get together but all of them ended up sick. So she and her little boy came down for a little visit with us and dropped off a freshly made pizza.

Aiden entertained Rich by admiring his Lego Tractor and his red truck which they both played with for a little bit.

Funny how such a kind act can make a whole day bright.

Her visit was short, but so well loved. I walked most of the way back up the road with her and we made a date to snowshoe together on Tuesday.

Wednesday I have a 'date' with the little girl who gave me the little bell attached to yarn when she was 9 years old. She is now 18 and set up a time we could go hiking at the Kickapoo Valley Reserve together. She is now a part time reporter for a local paper and I've given her my old Nikon to use. We'll do some easy photography lessons tomorrow.

I'll meet her at her mom's place and she will do the driving. MY goodness, how time flies!

I won't drive with other passengers in the car at this time. I feel I can get around okay, however with distance being fuzzy, if I can get a young sharp eyed person to do the driving why not?

I'm have a fulfilling week scheduled. 

What wonderful surprises I have. 

[By the way...Hubby is busy working on his latest Lego puzzle and is doing all the work except the stickers on his own!]

Sunday, December 25, 2022

How Lego Minifigs Saved Christmas

There sure was a deep freeze going on after the Big Snow. Santa's big red truck had gotten stuck and of course so many helpers showed up to get him going again.

Then Mz. Clause came along and helped everyone celebrate just outside the Christmas Village.

After the party, Santa and a couple of his elves decided to go for a walk. They ignored Mz. Clause's warning about the cold cold weather and told them to behave and stay home.

Of course they never listened and they went out. And they got a bit cold!

Thank goodness there was Bobba Fett and some elves that came to the rescue.

Even the Mandolorian came to help with his lazer gun.

Happily, Santa and his helpers were rescued from the ice.

Mz. Clause came by with her newly rigged up - super powered- sleigh.
She had convinced a Thestral to assist her flying reindeer.

Santa had a better idea. You do know that Santa was originally from Iowa and had a huge farm right???

I mean, who doesn't know that?

His solution?

Well. He paraded his new John Deere all Wheel Drive Flying Tractor and Spreader through the Village with Mz. Clause in the back.


...that is how Lego folks saved Christmas.

Don't believe any other stories you've heard.

I know this one is true, I photographed it.

Saturday, December 24, 2022

The End of an Era

 Christmas Eve we lost our long time friend and amazing pony mule. 

Fred stood 13 hands and was probably the toughest equine we'd ever had. Rich got Fred 34 years ago. He was part of a driving team of matched small mules. Fred rode and drove and Rich kept Fred and sold Jenny.

A life long journey was started. Fred helped a veteran with his PTSD. Mules became my husband's passion. Every other mule we ever had was compared to the tough little pony mule. 

If you were a novice rider or a child, he'd take care of you. He'd walk as if he were on egg shells. If you were balanced and experienced...he was quick and light. He was a trickster. He was quick and won me a lot of placings in poles and barrels against big horses.

We team penned with him and lent him out to a young girl for a year to ride in competitions.

We hunted at night off from him. He was an expert at finding treeing hound dogs. He could take you home or back to the trailer if you lost your way. 

Fred taught me about mules. He was so much smarter than I was and he outwitted me so many times.

Fred on the water road KVR 1996

Me 1997 Morel Hunting
on Fred.

Fred after taking a novice
on a ride. 

Fred carries my Stepdaughter
on one of our many Mule Parades of two mules.

Rich and his favorite mule.

Little Mule. Tons of Heart.

Fred taught all the grandkids to ride and
many others.

Ride this fall. Fred leads with me.
He was spunky and ready to rumble.

Ariel got the last ride with Fred.

He may have been the smallest, 
however, he was leader of the 
pack until the very end.

I know in the past I've used the Rainbow Bridge Poem. 
I can't bear to even read it right now.

So I will say this.
Fred you stole my heart and are the sole reason I met The Mule Man and fell in love.
You showed me that adversity is something to embrace 
and get through no matter how tough it is.
You taught me that in order to get along with a mule
one had to gain that mule's respect.
You often thought that humans were beneath you
yet you would open your heart to me.
I wish you happy trails and green pastures.
I know you are running with Cheyanne your love mare and 
that she has been waiting for you for a long time.

Long live long ears
you shall always be in my heart
until we meet again...

Christmas Eve

I usually write something fun and witty around Christmas time. There is the story about how I was convinced by Grandma Pearl that all animals talk at the stroke of midnight on Christmas Eve.

I'm not going to be a Debbie Downer so here is some of the action we've had at the bird feeders that past few days while we've endured the Artic Blast and subsequent winds. 
Thankfully, we are in the woods and in a hollow. While doing chores I could hear the winds roaring on the ridge.

Olive texted me to say that the cold and the wind chills were so intense that one of her sliding glass doors cracked. Can you imagine that?

Doing chores...Insulated pants, layers, coveralls, and an insulated flannel over the coveralls. Mask, fur hat, goggles and -- no glasses to fog up --. The wind chills were ... well -39? Let's just say that I knew bare skin would frostbite in less than a few minutes outside.

I did walk to the ridge to get the mail after chores as there were some meds for Rich that were delivered.

I walked up along the woods to watch the winds gust and blow snow across our road. My neighbor Olive, lives on that corner on the ridge and it is Wide Open. She told me it sounded like a freight train was idling outside her house. I didn't try to take pretty pictures, just a quick one of the road.

I was protected from the fierce winds by the woods but when I looked east across the ridge, I could see a haze. It was blowing snow that looked like it was a fog!

Those are not my tracks. Those are tracks of a deer.

We spent the day indoors of course and the birds were very active. I am glad that I ignored Rich telling me that feeding the birds was a waste of money. He often watches them and discusses what they are doing at the feeders and in the trees around us.

Enjoy the birds, we did!

It's Christmas Eve so I'll be making a special meal for us and we will open Charlie's present and Rich's gift.

Rich's daughter came Tuesday with her hubby and our grandson. She spent the day cooking her father's favorite meal and we had a really great day.
It was a great surprise and it made Rich smile all day and into the next when he got to eat Prime Rib and all the fixin's as left overs!

His daughter also sent him a Lego John Deere Technic Lego Tractor and spreader to work on! 

From our place to