Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Meanwhile in the forest...

I took a short walk yesterday after mowing some patches of long shaggy grass.

I still haven't totally unpacked from our mini trip and put everything away. Since Spring waits for no one, I decided to get to the forest and see what was happening.

I found this Rue Anemone. However, looking at it closer, it may be a False Rue Anemone.

This was the first one I found in our woods. In other areas of our county they are already blanketing the floor of certain forest areas.

Because of our steep hills and valleys that face different directions, some areas warm up faster than others.

I found this in a cooler part of our forest. The hillside faces north east which gets a glimpse of morning light but that is it.


I walked over to the one spot in our forest that always seems to be ahead of other areas. For the past 20 years I've always found an early small Morel or two in this area.

I found two spots where Maidenhair Ferns were starting to come up. They were not emerging anywhere else.

This spot faces south and in the spring gets nearly all the sunlight and warmth for nearly the whole day. It is the one area that seems to always be slightly ahead of other areas of the forest.

I did not find any Morels or even any signs of them. This Fungi caught my eye though. Its common name is: False Morel. Scientific name: Gyromitra esculenta. 
This mushroom contains the neurotoxin called Gyromitrin. There are rumors that the neurotoxin can be cooked out of it, but I wouldn't take the chance.

I do find their odd and sometimes twisted shapes to be interesting looking though.

I headed home after striking out with any Grey Morels. I came up from the creek and found these Virginia Pinks flooding the top of the hill under the budding trees.

In the Spring, I try to get out and find every ephemeral flower I can. 

I still have Bloodroot, Dutchman's Breeches, Hepatica, and Trout Lilies to find.

Perhaps I need to get my laundry and grocery shopping done first? I don't know why those mundane tasks like to get in the way of all the fun I can have in the forest.

Charlie and Rich seem to be still recovering from our weekend trip.

Sunday, April 21, 2024

Yes! There and back.

 We made it safely!

Funny how this trip was much harder to plan for but also much nicer to do. 

The back seat driver never showed up. In fact he just spent time napping and pointing out how things had changed since the last time he could recall going into that area. Since his last trip to K-town, there have been some major road changes.

The bypass around two of the towns we used to drive through were major changes and hubby commented about them.

It had been about 20 years since Hubby has taken a trip to Kenosha. 

Charlie and I enjoyed early morning walks through the neighborhoods and even met up with other friendly dog folks. 

What a pleasant way to start a Saturday morning.

I also found a Road Runner car in someone's driveway and stopped to admire it. [Hubby used to have a Road Runner of the same vintage.]

The highlight and purpose of the trip was to see Rory [aka Aurora]. Of course she absolutely kidnapped Rich's heart. Let's just call him smitten with Rory.

Spending time with the Grands are always wonderful. But when a little one is around, something extra special happens. You know, hugs, snuggles, and more snuggles. 
As many snuggles as you can manage.

Poor Charlie, he felt like odd man out. However, he did get to steal a toy from Twila who is my son's dog.
Here he is acting as if he has no idea how the Sloth Toy ended up next to him.

The dogs played and Rory stole everyone's attention. And why not? Wasn't that the purpose of the visit?
I have to say that Megan is a master cook. Our evening meal was beyond delicious.

Thank you to the best host and hostess around [and let's not forget the cutest baby ever!]

So we did it. It was a trip that was hard to plan and execute, but it all came together nicely.

Rich's company on drive was a real bonus. 

We are tired but very content and Rich keeps talking about that Rory!

We did it!

Friday, April 19, 2024


 Hubby and I are taking a weekend trip. This will be the first time we have traveled together on a mini trip since ....

well, 2007???

My job that I got in 2008 took up most weekends and I rarely got any time off unless it was well planned and almost always got called in. Trips became non existent after that. Most 'trips' were to the Mad City VA Hospital and I don't call those a get away.

I convinced him to accompany me to go see his newest Grand daughter in person. This trip will probably be a one-off. I don't see him doing it again as he is adamant about being home bound.

He has agreed to try it.

Things that are different now if we go anywhere together.

Organize meds. Bring 02, bring extra 02, bring the concentrator, CPAP, and all the various hoses. 

The drive time will be around 4 hours or so with or without pit stops. He is used to my driving now since he quit being able to drive after his stroke years ago. 

It should be maddeningly interesting to have the back seat driver next to me while driving through busy areas. I do it my way and he wants it done another. Hopefully, he will rest and snooze?

Charlie is going with us. This adds another dimension of complications and fun. Charlie hates the back seat but the front passenger side will be occupied. I have a new harness for Charlie that can hook up to a doggy restraint system that hooks over the back seat head rests. He'll have his 'car' seat crate stuffed with pillows so he can see out the window.

I'll have his doggy bed in the other seat so maybe he'd like that.

I've tried to figure out all of the angles for this ride. 

Seeing the newest Grand Baby will be a breath of fresh air and joy for him. It may be a taxing trip, but we are going to do it.

Best of luck to us! 

See yah....

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

The unconscious photographer

  NO, not like out of it and un-conscious --- asleep... . But something else. 

Long ago I took a photography class and had all sorts of things drilled into my head.

You need to follow the rule of thirds.
You need leading lines.
Follow the Golden Spiral.
Never shoot into the sunlight.
Golden and blue hours are the best.

...and more and more. 

It was a good class though as I was asked to do things I've never done before. I was asked to to Still Life as well as abstract photography. Of course back then, I aspired to be the next Great Landscape Photographer.

But then I didn't.

One of the instructors said I could never leave things to chance. Always watch the weather, get an app for predicting the 'best' weather and research and area to get the best shots.

All true things that the pros do. I was told that my method of serendipity was never going to make me 'great'. 

His reasoning was that I had to really work hard at getting that shot. The teacher was right, but I love photography so much that I don't want to make it become work.

I made up my mind that I wasn't going to be a pro shooter. It seemed as if they were always chasing THAT perfect shot, that perfect scene or place. 

In fact, I enjoy serendipity a lot. If I am hiking about and something catches my eye, I shoot it to enjoy it. 

I'm not a rebel, I am just realistic. I like seeing things through the lens. 

Even in a Lego or toy scene, I am not thinking of anything other than presenting a story or a photo that really doesn't need explanation.

As a caregiver, photography is an outlet of play and mental fun. I'm not consciously thinking of the rules for photography. Just looking for something to experiment with and that will bring me personal joy.

A morning walk...

A hike on a foggy morning when I thought I'd get a brilliant sunrise over a pond and ... well, I got deep heavy fog. Serendipity! A challenge!

Or out checking fences on a hot summer morning.

I spent so much time as a kid around my father whose hobby was photography too. I learned to 'see' things as he took photos. I learned to read a light meter. I became his little human light meter sometimes. He'd bring out the meter and hold it up to take a measure and I'd look around and say:

It's sunny Daddy! How about f11 at 250? I learned these things before I learned Algebra. He'd let me look through his camera and pretend to take shots. Other times he'd have me frame a shot with my fingers. I usually knew what speed film he had in his camera.

I'd play at taking photos with my hands. 

Here is a photo of my father with his Brownie camera. 

I guess what I am saying is that I go out and just look. I rarely plan [unless it is a Lego Story or Toy Story idea --> then I wander about and look for something that might work]. 

My whole idea is to have fun and enjoy things and not to overthink it too much. Photography is so much like doodling ideas from my [echo chamber] or brain if you will.

I can shoot nature and turn around and shoot something that amuses me. 

Just going with the flow and not worrying about rules....

This last shot is of that tree I've been following. It occurred to me that I better take a good look at it when walking past it yesterday.
The old leaves are gone and the catkins that were there all winter are expanding with little buds of this year's leaves emerging!

I don't think sometimes...I can just do. 

Monday, April 15, 2024


Hepatica with a Soldier Beetle.
 I watched, this beetle grab a 
tiny insect and eat it!

Forest Drama!

 Rue Anenome with dew drops on it at Tainter Hollow

These flowers are so tiny that many people never see them while walking on a trail or path through the woods.

They are not showy or exceptional in colors, but in some areas they cover the forest floor for a few weeks each year.

I found these and the Virginia Blue Bells emerging in a place called Tainter Hollow. There is a tract of DNR land open to the public for trout fishing. It runs along Tainter Creek and has one trail that is mowed out and back, but one can wander around fairly easily in the spring. Once summer arrives, the growth around the creek is over 4 foot tall.

No shots of the Bluebells as they were merely an inch tall. My Bluebells at home are much taller and get more spring sunshine.

I walked over in the late evening to where I had some daffodils planted and thought I'd grab a few shots with back lighting. Instead, I got distracted by all of the action on the daffodils.

Here is a Mustard White butterfly which is not to be confused with a Cabbage White. The Mustard White only feeds and pollinates native plants. The Cabbage White is the one we all curse in our vegetable garden.

I have no idea what these insects are, but they were all over the place!

And out in the forest, tiny bees were visiting the Virginia Pinks which a lot of folks call Pink Beauties.

The bees are awake and the flowers are emerging. These flowers will soon disappear and more will take their place.

It has been very warm for this time of April, but I'll take it and enjoy it while I can.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

And the animals come in....

I believe this herder was supposed to be taking care of his small flock of critters. However, it looks like he had a bit too much wine and didn't properly put his farm animals away...

In the early morning, it seems they pushed open the door and decided to help themselves to whatever the herdsman had in the house.

This is a building was from FunHole Wood-Cabin set. It is a Lego like build with the same sort of bricks. It was the very first 'build' I did over a year ago. It has two floors and came with lighting that integrates with the bricks. 

It was a difficult build and the bricks don't fit as tightly as Lego bricks do, but I enjoy using its detailed inside once in a while to have some fun. It has a kitchen, a wood stove, and a bathroom complete with a tub, sink, and mirror. The upstairs has a bedroom and a desk. There is a ladder that goes from the first floor to the loft.

I've used the outside of the building and porch for other photo scenes and I've taken this room apart and rearranged it several times. My favorite part is the wood stove that actually lights up. Most of the wiring and the contacts do work on this build but to my dismay or ineptitude, not all the ones do.

I took the roof and the upstairs off. Under the first floor, there is a circuit board with wires that runs through the bricks and lights things up. The porch lights, stove and bathroom lights work in this shot. There is a battery box in the lower right side of this photo.

I used a warm light [which actually looks green in this shot] to shine on the partially open front door.

I used another tiny Ulanzi light in a warm color to light up the interior.

And lastly, I stuck the face mister and turned it on so it would make the open door glow like morning sunlight. It also made the wood stove light glow. [I put it in the bathroom and opened the door!]

The herder kept falling off the couch so I had to use a tiny piece of sticky tack to hold him in place.

I had several tries before I was partially satisfied with a shot. Contrary to popular belief, this isn't so easy and it takes a lot of adjustments!

This was another idea I had just pop into my head Sunday morning while I was waiting for our company to show up. I couldn't go out in the heavy rain and winds to work on Princess Sara's story, so I had to fill my 'waiting' time with something else.

I ended up using a 30mm lens with a smaller aperture to try and get all of the animals in focus. 

It was not a one and done. I had to really experiment with settings and lights because I kept getting things too dark, too light, or too many harsh shadows. I had to be careful with the mister also especially when I let it run too long and everything in one photo had droplets on it!

And then! Yesterday the sunshine in the morning was brilliant and beautiful. So I could take Princess Sara out....

and begin another part of her wandering story...

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

A little bit of fence fixing

Off I go with tangled and salvaged hotwire and some nicely coiled wire to redo the fence down near the creek.

The backpack has gear in it, along with some tools and of course lots of water. I'd had this job in mind since last fall.

Over the winter I keep this section closed off as the deer run through the fence during rut and generally take down the fence.

Last winter, some animal chewed through both the lines and the insulators in some spots. I know that raccoon chew on plastic, but I never figured out who the culprits were.

I thought I'd turn on MapMyHike to see what my walking while doing the job would look like. I did get in a little over 2 miles of walking while restringing the fence.

At one time we had a 'ridge-road' or trail that was made by a bulldozer  all the way to the end of our land. Since I don't drive the 4 wheeler back there anymore... [very steep], I haven't had the trail redone. 

I just walk it and go around the obstacles. I am the only person anymore that moves through the land so no need to clear a new path.

Here is someone else who likes to use the 'critter' trail. It is used by the mules, deer, bobcat, raccoon, and coyotes. When I pull the trail camera about every two weeks we have nearly 700 or 800 photos of wildlife moving past the camera on this trail.

I pulled the old hotwire and began to get ready to string up new wire.

Just to the left of this photo is a steep bank that drops about 20 feet down into our creek bottom. With the past drought, the creek is mostly dry, but in good years it flows nicely.

At my feet is a pile of chewed electric wire. And no, the wire was not 'on' over the winter. I don't keep it hot unless the mules have access. 

The wire needed to be replaced this year anyway. It has lasted 5 years and had been patched quite a few times.

I finished everything up including detangling a big mess of wire that I'd brought with me. It took roughly two hours and a lot of walking back and forth.  

Below is the tangled up wire that had been in another pasture at one time. I had 3 lines with one low to the ground when we had Dexter Cattle in the woods and pulled it after we sold the cattle.

A good chunk of the time was devoted to de-tangling. But the wire was in perfect shape and there was no reason to toss it.

It was a big job I had been putting off for quite a while. All the summer lines have been checked and fixed. Next up? I'll go through and clear off anything that is under the wires.

Forest Fencing can be a never ending job.

Tuesday, April 09, 2024

It was like a dance

with the sun and the clouds.

The sky was clear in the morning and the clouds swiftly moved in along with cold winds. I was going to go to the Reserve to watch the eclipse and enjoy some peaceful quite time. I decided that with the heavy clouds, I'd stay home.

After all, if the clouds were going to obscure a partial eclipse, so be it. At least I could go in the house and warm up.

I set one camera up to do a time lapse, it took shots every few minutes. It lasts all of 3 seconds. You can see the conditions for the big eclipse.

I started the time lapse at 12:30 our time and until about 2pm. These photos were taken 5 minutes apart.

The heavy clouds presented an issue in that only once in a while would the sun get momentarily bright enough to see through the camera. The NOAA reported our area with an 81% cloud cover, so it was a great challenge.

My Camera Assistant. Little Richard.

It was great when we caught a bit of a break.

This is what I saw through the flip screen on my OM-5. I used a solar filter I'd purchased years ago and unless the sun was peeking out, the screen was black. That is part of what made it so challenging. The other part was being able to twist like a pretzel to re-aim the camera to track the sun when it glimpsed at me.

These were the shots I picked out of the many I tried.

By this point I was just starting to get the hang of catching the sun with the camera. I had to search for a bright spot and then zoom out and zoom in. When I found the sun again, it was sometimes so breathtaking with the cloud movement that I nearly forgot to hit the shutter.

At times the clouds were moving so fast across the sun that the exposure was up to a few seconds. Then the clouds blurred. I felt like Mother Nature was doing a painting just for me.

By the time it reached its peak, I decided to bug out and go inside to warm up. I was SO cold! I had been wearing my heavy coveralls and a stocking cap. My hands were ice.

I was not disappointed at all though. The cloud cover made it a huge challenge and also made the event in my opinion much more beautiful than stark photos of a crescent in the sky.

When I got in the house, I grabbed a blanket and a pillow and headed for the bedroom for a warm up nap. 

I'm going to remember this day for a long time. The work at getting the shots was a bit brutal with the weather [cold and windy] and the clouds. I spent from noon to 2:15 when the moon was moving past the sun outside.

Yep, that dance was worth it!