Wednesday, January 31, 2024

January is Done...

January wrap.
The first of the year was mild and not very wet. I was able to get into the furthest valley in our area and hike along Black Bottom Creek.

Mid month we got walloped by two huge snowstorms. Next came the cold temperatures and wind chills. These are all normal events for January in a sense. But the winter has been warmer than usual due to La Nina.

For the past two weeks it seems that we've had nothing but fog, rain, dampness, and more fog. At first I was pretty excited about the fog. I could walk in it and enjoy the ethereal beauty of it. 

After a few days though, that wore off. 

Then we had a dense fog freeze advisory. I spent an hour walking around looking for frosted plants and leaves.

If I'd had my MapMyWalk App on, it would have shown me going back and forth and around in circles. I wanted to find some exciting and beautiful frost formations on plants.

The key word was 'exciting'. I didn't really find anything spectacular.

I went back out right away after hubby was up and had his breakfast. I wanted to take Charlie for a walk while the snow was still firm and he could walk on top of it.

I grabbed my snowshoes and off we went on a jaunt to the creek. The deeper we got into the forest, there was less frost.

By the time we got to the creek, I had to take off my snowshoes and carry them. Since the creek has so many little springs in it, the temperatures can be much warmer near the water. The difference is startling. You walk in mud and green grass as opposed to a foot of snow. 

I set my little camera on a log and took a photo of Charlie and I walking along the creek.

Our trekking area.
This is the spot where I always stop to admire the little trout. Since the last flood that cleaned out the creek bottom, trees have been falling down across the creek and through out the area.

Our walk becomes a bit more adventurous by having to negotiate around fallen trees and nasty multiflora rose.

The only times I can easily walk through this area is early spring, winter, and late fall. In the summer, it is impossible. The weeds and plants grow so high here that they are taller than I am.

When cattle grazed on this land, it was easy to get around. But the cattle have been gone since 2005 and the land is not managed very well. So it has a lot of invasive plants and it has gotten very wild.

Once we got out of the creek, I had to put the snowshoes back on. We followed the old deer/cattle/4wheeler trail which is growing in now too.

We climbed the hillside and went out to the meadow just east of our property and headed back home. Charlie was such a champ. The only time he asked to get picked up was when we heard a big boom far off.

We came up through the back of our land and walked through the area where the mules had dug up snow and had browsed during the the snowstorm.

This photo shows the back of our shed and the long hill driveway. The mules really dug things up, I was surprised at how much the snow had melted in this particular spot.

The sun came out late in the afternoon to provide us with a stunning sunset.

I was pretty excited since we haven't had an evening with a beautiful sunset in ages:

Let's see what February brings!

Tuesday, January 30, 2024

Mobility and working out

 What can simple exercises do for you? 

My simple exercises at home don't need more than a chair, a wall, a floor, and sometimes even a couch. I can sit on the kitchen chair and do leg raises. If I want, it can be one leg at a time or both. I can use the chairs or go free standing to do squats. 

The hardest part of exercising is sticking to it. It sure is easier to just go for a nice long walk.

Right now I am doing chair sit ups, one legged balance exercises, and a variety of other exercises to keep up with my Mobility and balance. I'm having fun trying to do a work out at home. Other times I just say: Heck with it all and go for a hike.

I'm not at the gym this winter because of the weather and the colds, flu, and Covid that is traveling around our community. I can't bring home any illnesses to the other half. 

I could just hang out and nap most of winter away.

But I need feed for the critters. Those 75 lb. bags take some technique to heft up and into a feed barrel. Thankfully, I've been taught a great way to do it without harming myself [thank you coaches!]

Last Friday, I moved washing machine and dryer to clean under and around them. I also took apart the vent and gave it a good once over. Hubby asked if I needed help and I did ask him to hand me a few things after I'd climbed over the washer and was in behind the dryer.

I didn't want to pull everything totally out, but made enough room so I could get in behind the washer without disconnecting the water.
I took a milk crate and tied twine to it. I used the milk crate to get up and over the dryer. Then I pulled the crate over with the twine when I was done and used it to get back out. Clever me! Rich's comment?

"I married a monkey."

Maybe this is unusual for a person of my vintage and maybe not.

The month of January is almost over and I am trying to see what I have as far as hiking and walking for distance. Right now I am using the free app which adds everything up for me. I don't count steps, they are deceiving. Ok. Let me qualify that statement. Steps are great and necessary to help us keep track of moving which is essential to keeping our abilities to MOVE.

My steps include inclines of 150 to 300 feet. If I hike for a mile or less, it can be in very steep terrain, so each step could be much harder than a person walking on a sidewalk or on a flat easy surface. 

Does that make sense?

So far in January? What are the miles I've actually accounted for?

25 miles on the Map My Walk app -- and I didn't account for walking to the mailbox through the woods or the times I went out and checked fences. I'll see what January 31st brings.

I'm hoping to actually GET off the farm this weekend and go to Duck Egg or perhaps KVR and tromp around for some different scenery.

The Fog is still here. I'm beginning to think that Stephen King made up this weather for this week.

How is it going with you?

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Never on a Sunday

I finally got off the farm and out for a hike! Whoo Hoo! I got out to Duck Egg County Park. 

The footing wasn't very good. I would have done better with snowshoes which would have floated me over the rough tracks. Another rookie mistake.

I still made it from the lower parking area and out to the pond.

Photos from crossing one of the footbridges over
Springbrook Branch of the Bad Axe River.

My whole idea was to do a morning hike, stop in town at the Walmart and grab some groceries, grab some gas, and my last stop was to be Culver's for a nice salad and a Shrimp Dinner for Rich.

Walmart was a mess a total mess. Apparently they are getting ready to remodel also. Which made the weird Sunday crowd even worse. Everything was in the wrong place, departments were shoved together and some of the food shelves were empty.

It threw me for a total loop. I hurried through and got what I just barely needed and got out. I wanted to smack myself in the head for going on a Sunday during the middle of the day. 

I got into Culver's and got in line to order. There was that Sunday crowd again. Nothing against OLD folks, but wow. An old fella at the order counter was getting his undies in a bundle. It was super busy. I stood quietly waiting.

The old fella got loud and started cussing at the young man behind the counter who was desperately trying to figure out how to make up an order of 2 Pints of coleslaw and how to charge him. The old grumpy dude got louder and started to yell. 

I thought Dude! Coleslaw doesn't come in pints at a fast food place!

He started yelling for a Manager and indeed the Manager came out. At the same time one of our local fire fighters walked around to the counter and asked the elderly guy if he was okay. The old guy started getting loud again. It was a grand scene.

Long story short. The Manager calmly told the old grouch that he would not serve him today and he was sorry that he had trouble but he could not serve someone who was verbally abusing his help and causing a problem in the order line. It was done politely while us onlookers felt like grabbing the old sour puss and tossing him in a dirty snow bank.

But we didn't. The grouch was calmed down and shown the door and we all just looked at each other. The Manager addressed everyone in line with an apology and asked us to enjoy our meal and weekend.


Just as I was ready to place my order, a lovely elderly lady with a cane brushed me aside and placed her order. I say lovely...because surely I don't think she even saw me. Besides, she was dressed up as if she'd just come from church. 

Finally, I got my order placed and walked out to the car. Forget the gas! I was headed home.

I thought to myself ... Now I remember WHY I -- don't go do things in town on the weekends.

And this song popped into my head....
I recall my mom and us singing this in the car.
Connie Francis---->

Never on a Sunday

And of course, now I can't get the song out of my head.

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Joe gets it...

Homeless Joe and Dog

Joe agrees with Dog, he should have something more to keep himself warm too. Perhaps they should go to the Time Warp place where he found Dog and see if anything has appeared.


Joe gestures down into the giant rusty artifact. He still isn't sure if Humans actually existed but this is a very curious metallic thing. This is where Dog appeared so ... maybe...

They climb down and discover something that could be useful.

Dog smells it and bites a hole in it.

They leave this place quickly before Time changes again. They don't want to be swept into another place.

OH! So that is why Dog bit a hole in the blanket! 

Joe is pleased, this feels pretty comfortable.

They head back to camp. Joe hears himself laugh. Dog licks his face.

Life certainly feels pretty good for Joe and Dog.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ is how Charlie helped with this series.

Honestly, Charlie has now learned not to tip figures over while I am photographing them. He has become quite the assistant. These figures are small and easy to carry in a small plastic case. 

The 'cape' is a piece of material that I hand stitched some floral wire into so I can 'pose' the cape. Pretty cool, huh?


This was my driveway looking up towards the ridge and mailbox and back towards the house in the dense fog on Wednesday.

I think of this tree as the Little  Haiku Tree. It is invisible in the summer when hidden by greenery.

These Grey Dogwood seed pods were ice covered on Wednesday.

Foggy Forest scene.

I'm just loving this mix of weather. I know it looks dreary and awful but I like it when the weather is odd and strange.

I wonder if I lived in a city or a suburb, if I could find enchantment with fog and ice. 

Thursday was fog and rain. I went out in the morning to grab the mail and then later down into the creek bottom. The creek was still covered in knee deep snow except in places where it trickled over the rocks.

I found a large north facing rock outcrop that had frost on the rock face along with moss. This was thanks to Charlie who took a detour and led me past this spot.

The rain started coming down pretty hard while I was in the creek. I'm thankful to have an Olympus weather sealed camera and lens.

The snow had fallen off a log the crosses the creek and I was able to grab some rain drop shots of the moss holding droplets.

The rain got pretty intense so I headed back up the hill towards home.
I met the mules in the another section I'd let them into. They were digging through the snow and eating some of the long grasses that they left this summer.

After their hay and grain, they wander off to find 'goodies' in the forest. This is the first year I've let them do this and I am finding that they will eat the leaves off from weeds and multi flora rose plants that they won't touch in the warmer months.

They are half donkey and donkeys are browsers. So this seems to be a pretty good thing for them.

I had a lot of outer wear to hang up in the basement to dry when I got home.

We may see the sun shine again by Sunday afternoon. Hang in there, decent weather will come again.
However I am grateful that it isn't 99 degrees and smokey. 
So there is that.

Thursday, January 25, 2024


The last we saw of Joe, he'd found Dog.

That was just before two big snow storms. So I wonder what exactly have they been up too lately? How have they been doing? 

Did they survive the deep freeze? What's going on?


Joe cooks up some vegetables and offers some to Dog. He feels something strange going on. He doesn't know why, but he CARES about Dog. At one point in his life he was determined not to care for anything.

Dog shares with Joe and helps him gather more sticks for the stove along with some nice warm moss to sit in.

Joe notices Dog is shivering even though he is close to the stove. 

Maybe this could help? 

Dog receives the gift and jumps up and down in the snow. 

Joe looks down at Dog and feels another strange thing happening aside from the warmth in his chest.
He feels like jumping up and down with Dog. What feeling could this be? 

Joe doesn't understand the smile on his face. He has never smiled, not that he can recall.

This world may be much better than the one he left. 

Perhaps this is not The End?


Homeless Joe is a concept created by Zhi Park. Joe has a back story that I wasn't even really aware of until I was sent a link to the creator's Instagram account. The story is vague but at the same time I felt everything that was written just by posing and using this figure. I found this after I wrote the above. 

Joe and Dog keep giving me endless places to go in their story.

About Homeless Joe :As for Joe, the world is covering in gray. Ever since aliens captured Joe’s family, he got away from the crowd to observe the sky and extinct volcanoes. No one knows exactly how long Joe was in the wilderness, he changed, became loving life, and looking forward to the end of the world, expecting an end to give himself an answer passively. He likes to sit in the tent and soliloquize oddly, listening to his shabby no-signal radio with the rustle sound current or just lying down in the tent floor scribbling.

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Still Life Challenges


I do enjoy Toy Photography as much as Still Life. I don't have to wait for perfect weather or perfect light. With a little effort and fun, one can create any world they wish too.

I took an on line class to learn and force myself to do Still Life years ago. I was pretty sure I'd hate it, but I also thought it would be an interesting way to spend time learning a new skill. 

I found out that I really did enjoy it. The class I took was in 2014.

I should do some more of this. Still Life is beautiful and always open to any interpretation. 

I don't want to be stuck in any one genre of photography.  I will say that I am not comfortable with Portrait Photography though. Weddings and portraits are tough and I am very uncomfortable with that genre. 

I have done portraits but mostly those just of my grand kids and a few other little ones. Kids are naturals and fun to follow around with a camera.

Maybe it is time to refocus during these cold, wet, and nasty days.  I might  put the toys aside for a little bit or just mix things up more.

My regret is that I didn't pick up any flowers at the store yesterday!

But I did have some time to make an effort at something much different anyway:

Glass Heart 

Glass Heart
Old Silk Rose

Below: Old Thank You Card I made when I was making all of my own cards to send out in the mail. Remember sending things in the mail???
It is a good challenge on a dreary wet and nasty day!

Monday, January 22, 2024

Perfect ~ A lesson in a spring fed creek

Andrew Wyeth says it quite beautifully, but I do have to disagree with him on one aspect. Winter doesn't give me a Dead Feeling. Winter in the woods is not dead.
Winter gives me a feeling of wonder and awe.

Nature can throw blizzards at us whipping up beautiful windswept carvings called drifts. The snow can adorn trees and they bow their branches to nature. Winter creates frost on windows in exquisite patterns that no human can replicate.

Winter can literally take your breath away when you step outside. Things freeze. Cars won't start. 
In all its brutal behavior, it also creates infinite beauty.

Under the dark looking waters, creatures still stir. Tiny pouch snails are feeding on algae. Caddisflies are in their tiny stone houses are waiting for spring. Trout are eating nymphs and aquatic sow bugs that are hidden under pebbles and mud.

Any trail left in the valley is usually not human. The trails are a mixture of  deer, coyote, and raccoon, plus the occasional bobcat. Once in a while I come across a deer carcass or another carcass. The woodpeckers, blue jays, crows, and other birds are surprising visitors. They too, assist in the clean up of the land. Mice also benefit from chewing on the bones to add calcium to their diets.

Life goes on. It just seems to be so much quieter than in the warmer months. Or perhaps it just isn't as noticeable because rarely anyone sees these things.

These streams or creeks in our valleys are spring fed which means the water coming up out of the ground is about 45 F or 7 C. The water is warmer than the air which creates a moisture that freezes on anything just above the water.

That is why all of the grasses and rocks have beautifully formed frost on them.

Below is a stick that fell from the trees above and landed across some rocks. Frost built up on the stick to decorate it. This is why I go out in the cold and explore. These things fascinate me.

How can it be -7 F and the water still runs? How come the frost decorates the rocks, sticks, and grasses?

It sure took me a long time to figure these things out.

But years of observation have helped.

Perhaps winter is boring to many. Fortunately, I have access to a unique landscape.

Saturday, January 20, 2024

Thursday -- Breaking Trail

Well Thursday was the first day this year I was able to get to the Kickapoo Valley Reserve. I had grand ideas of hiking with Charlie along the Wintergreen trail.

Easy, right? This is one of the most traveled trails in the Reserve. I slipped on my YakTracks in case it was slippery and tossed Charlie's day glow vest on him.

I was very surprised when we got past the buildings. 

Not one human had been down this trail yet. I should have worn snowshoes. 
Right away, Charlie kept getting stuck. Fresh powdery snow went down the front of his vest and clogged him down. I picked him up and we slogged through the deep snow...again.

By the time we got to the 'lookout' I was getting tired and decided that we would go no further. I reached down and pulled ice and packed snow out of his vest. I took it off and stuck it in the backpack.

The view from the bluff was interesting. I didn't get near the edge of the bluff so I took my shot from further back. 

I think it is the second time I've seen the river completely covered in ice and snow at this spot. The wind was coming right into our faces there so we didn't stick around. 

Enough was enough I was heading back.

Charlie was a different dog then. He took off bounding through the snow without a care. I had to call him back to me. What a good little guy.

 5 seconds....of a Happy Dog.

From there on, he led the way back to the parking lot.

That black dot far ahead of me is Charlie. He was bounding through my footsteps and having a grand time.

Did we get in a lot of miles? Oh heck no we didn't. 

I wonder how one mile of chugging through deep snow works out?

I guess it doesn't really matter. We enjoyed it and we were happy to get home and cuddle in the warmth of the living room.

Today is the 20th and so far I have racked up 18 miles of hiking/walking/adventuring. 

This doesn't include the days I didn't take my cell phone but I don't care. It is fun to track right now. 

Yesterday afternoon I took a break from the cold and spent time reading and relaxing.

Let's see what the weekend brings.