Friday, November 17, 2017

I stole this idea...

I saw a post on Facebook titled FriendsGiving. My son was tagged in it and I realized that he and his friends must have gotten all together to visit and share a nice meal.

What a great idea.
Saturday is opening day for the annual Wisconsin Gun Deer Season. It is like a sacred day for hunters.
They clean their rifles, check their scopes, hang out the blaze orange coats, and make final preparations for the Big Day.

I normally do not go anywhere on opening day. Period. The shots ring out and the deer are running like crazy either from the Rut or from hunters. Last year two deer provided 6 people with enough meat to last one year. Imagine that.
The hunt season runs through Thanksgiving weekend.

Our friends from the other side of the state are coming out to hunt with Rich. Rich was sure that he'd never hunt again after his stroke. Yesterday he was busy getting things organized for opening day. There is no doubt in my mind that he will be hunting. Our K-town friends are coming for a long weekend.
This way if Rich does get a deer, we have extra hands to help.

Daryl suggested we do a *Thanksgiving* together. I saw the idea on FB and changed it up to *FriendsGiving*.
There is something good about being able to hunt to provide for your family. The deer population is quite large. Ask anyone who has had a deer-vehicle accident, and they will tell you how awful it is.

Friends. It will be nice to have friends to sit down with and have a celebrated meal together.

I can't recall the last time we had a meal with family on a holiday like Thanksgiving or Christmas.

The house is ready for the coming chaos of kids, dogs, and adults all going every which way. I'm looking forward to it.
This morning I'll be making some homemade bread, cheesy bread and cinnamon bread.

Our kitchen table will once again be graced by friends, we'll sit around the table and chew the fat. Everyone this evening will be talking about the upcoming hunt. I'll be doing the cooking and the chores.
The house will be full of conversation and laughter.

And that is how it should be.
I am glad I 'stole' this idea.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Dixie Saves the Day

It was cold, misty, and foggy. I still had a bunch of milkweed pods I wanted to get and I knew there were some I could find in the soybean field between the contour strips nearby.
It was only a 15 to 20 minute hike.

I decided to take Dixie the hound dog since she would end up being confined during the 9 day deer gun season. It had been a while since I'd taken her off the farm for a walk. A long time!
How would she do? Would she behave on a leash?

I clipped an old lead rope to her collar. She pulled a little bit at first and then settled into almost a perfect heel. I was so pleased that she remembered her manners.

Off we went. Dixie trotted alongside me swinging her head back and forth as her nose worked the air. As a hound, I'm sure she was investigating the 'air' off the farm. Since we were on a field road, I let her off leash. She promptly ran like a puppy in large circles stopping to smell the aromas that lingered in the damp air.
She didn't mind the misty fog at all.
I found the milkweed pods and began to clip them to length.

Dixie ran up and smelled what I was doing and then ran back out onto the picked soybean field.
I whistled and waved to her. She ran up to me.
"Dixie, sit!"
Dixie stared at me and trotted around me.
"Dixie! Sit!" I made a motion and tapped her hindquarters with my hand.
She instantly sat and looked up at me. I reached down and loved her up. She groaned.
I decided to follow the snow mobile trail down into the valley. I could always go up the creek to the trail that led back home.
It was the long way, but what the heck, I had Dixie with me and having company in the Wild Woods is a nice thing.

It is fun to have her along. She is exuberant in all she does.

We hiked the trail down into the valley.
Dixie would run ahead and then race back to me.

I thought we might get into some trouble when 3 nice doe bounded across the trail in front of her. She stopped and whined and looked after the deer. I whistled and yelled out "NO!" Dogs who chase deer are frowned upon in our area, especially only a few days before gun season.

She wanted to hunt and chase, that is her nature. But she wasn't sure. I squatted down and whistled again.
Dixie charged like a bullet. She ran up to me and past me. Then touched me and let me love her up.
Off she went again to lead the way and let her nose do some investigating.

We explored the damage done by the spring flash floods to the snow mobile crossing. The culvert had been washed away and repeated hard rains had made the creek cut in at least 6 feet below the crossing. The gap had widened considerably. I don't think the owners of the land even knew this was washed away. I guess they'd get a surprise come Saturday morning when they drove their trucks or 4 wheelers in. No access to the rest of the land by vehicle any more.

Upstream the creek spreads out but it is more like a swamp. A person can walk through it and I've ridden with Ariel and the mules through it, but a 4 wheeler or road vehicle is not going to get through the deep sucking mud.

Dixie and I went upstream. Just before we got to the Willows, 4 bucks crashed up out of the brambles and headed up the steep valley hill. Dixie ran to follow but crashed into the thick briers and brambles. My whistle stopped her.
She came back.
I put her on the lead rope.
"Oh Dixie," I said petting her. She wagged her whole body. "Now I'm going to put you on a tight rope. I don't think you'll be able to contain yourself if we pop up more deer!"

We came to a creek crossing. I didn't want to get my feet any wetter than they were, so I jumped. Dixie jumped with me. I was grateful that the big lug hadn't taken that moment to knock into me while on the lead rope.

I took a reroute along a deer trail to keep from walking in the creek. I reached into my coveralls pocket for the pink camera that I normally carry and it wasn't there. My first thought was. Good! I lost it! I can finally replace it!
My next thought was, Dang I had some fun shots of Dixie on it!

I set the bouquet of milkweed pods down and turned Dixie and I around. We had to go find the camera. I probably lost it in the big leap over the creek.
I wonder if it landed in the creek? I'd dropped it years ago in nearly the same place.

I started back the same way I came. Dixie now seemed to have a purpose. I let her lead me as she seemed intent on smelling her way back. She did retrace our steps and when we got to the spot I'd jumped the creek? She bore down and tried to pick something up ...

I plucked the pink camera out of the muck and zipped it into my pocket.
I loved Dixie up and let her off lead.

Time to head home.

Okay. Dixie never really 'saved the day'. But she was fun to have along. She was obedient and fun. I really needed to take her hiking more often. Especially since Morris can't really go anymore.

I wonder how she'd do with our friend's dog Scout?

Well, that remains to be seen.
Dixie is as always, a fine and wonderful dog. She simply IS. And that is good for me.
And that camera? It still works just fine.
Sigh. It is 8 yrs old and I'd really like one a bit better...

Dixie and I hiking together. Caught on our Trail Cam.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Domestic Goddess

Good grief and good lord!

What have I done?
I found myself looking up recipes on line for bread. It all started because I thought it would be nice to have a 'Bread Machine'.  I watched the videos on how to use certain ones and then Rich and I decided that since the machines were big and my kitchen is still small, that I'd try it the old fashioned way.

I haven't been a fan of baking or doing any cooking for years. Simply put, I didn't have time and I didn't have the space in my teeny tiny kitchen. With the new kitchen [which I love!] I did do more.
However it wasn't until I wasn't working those odd and strange shifts back to back and all over the map, that I decided to actually put my 'new' kitchen to use.

This summer found me canning jellies, tomatoes, making salsa, chili starter, and dehydrating everything I could get my hands on. Rich commented one time that he would have remodeled the entire house if he'd known I could cook like...this!

Ugh. When the weather is warm I prefer not to cook. But when it is cold? I guess I am finding it ... not so terrible.
I took Morris for a nice long walk, we did nearly 3 miles on the gravel road. Yes, Morris was bouncy and happy to sniff and mark anything he could. I was surprised at the amount of coyote droppings on the road.

So, when we got back, I helped with chores and then began.
Rich stood behind me watching in awe and subdued wonder.

He kept pinching himself and then me to see if we were dreaming. I threatened to toss flour in his face if he didn't stop with the Peanut Gallery comments.

I found out that I haven't forgotten how to make the bread. My hands remembered it well. I used the quick rise yeast to make things a bit easier and had pulled a basic bread recipe off from Fleischmann's website. I was concerned that it would hurt with the painful arthritis in my fingers and wrist. The kneading wasn't bad, the clean up was painful.

However I do have a devious plan.

Rich really went crazy for the fresh bread. He attacked the smaller loaf with a hungry vengeance.
If I get him 'hooked' on fresh breads, he would purchase the smaller of the bread makers. Well, he may.
The only drawback is I do like the hands on approach. And I don't want to keep an appliance like that on the counter all of the time.

It gets worse.
I am looking at making cheesy dinner bread for this weekend and recalling with great fondness how I used to make cinnamon and sugar bread so very long ago.

How long?
1978. That long.

I may even break out those mixing type things with little measuring type thingies I found when unpacking the boxes from the remodel.

This could be a wondrous thing.

But shhhhhhhh
don't tell anyone!

It would ruin my reputation.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Expensive Tripod. Well No.

I've ordered a replacement part for my absolutely most ever favorite tripod last week. About 7 years ago I picked up a Vanguard tripod that was on sale at Cabelas. It was a short one that was lightweight and sturdy.
It was camouflaged too.
Sometime this spring while in the woods I took out a different tripod and had to change the quick release.
I either dropped the Vanguard release on the ground or...the dog ate it.

I thought, no problem, I can do without it.

Nah. I hate doing without it.  However, while thinking about some of those low to the ground shots I wanted to do with my Olympus OM5, I came up with something else to use.

I'd read somewhere that using a bean bag would work. I didn't want to carry a bean bag. I thought of a little cloth bag of rice. Then discarded that idea fully as I am almost always in the creek when I walk. A bag of rice would get wet. Besides, I only had macaroni in cupboard.

How about a plastic bag of macaroni?


I wanted to take some photos of things near the forest floor and because of the poor lighting [very late in the day] I needed something to stabilize the camera.
Macaroni in a zip lock bag.

Now I did look up what it would cost me to get a similar tripod as sturdy as the one I had. And whew. It was not exactly cheap!

However until the replacement part arrives, I can get along with some macaroni. In fact I may get some cheap quick cook rice if it is lighter and use it. The plastic bag is sealed and doesn't get wet which is a bonus when you are setting things on snow or wet rocks.

And indeed, you can get low to the ground.

Or lay a camera safely on a damp mossy rock.

So there you have it, a DIY super low and stable non tripod tripod.

I'm thinking M&M's for those photographers who need a chocolate pick me up in their camera bag? Or trail mix?

Sunday, November 12, 2017

The Colorless Season is Here

It is hard to get a 'landscape' photo in the woods. There is too much clutter in the summer with all of the undergrowth. I do love this time of the year when the woods seem barren and bleak. I can see the shape of the land in the fall and winter.

I am now doing daily hikes or daily walks. I either go into the woods and explore or Morris and I walk along the gravel road if it is not too cold for him.

Yesterday was cold but not quite as cold as the day before when the median air temperatures were 12 degrees. However I went to the creek hoping to find a couple of places where the grass hangs over the water's edge. The splashing water from the creek freezes into beautiful odd shapes.

For lack of a better name, I call them Ice Fingers. They are small but beautiful.

I found 2 well developed bunches on my walk yesterday, this one and another.

View from further away and in color.

I wanted to go further into the valley but decided not to. I needed to get back and make sure the stock tank was filled. Rich seems to forget to tend to these things since the stroke.
Most of the hike back is uphill which gives me a great work out. Last year I'd have to stop part of the way up the hill for a breather. Yesterday I found myself full of energy.

I'm guessing the fact that I don't work odd hours anymore and get regular sleep has helped tremendously. That along with meals that are better thought out have improved how I feel. The hiking/walking is paying off!

I always love the creek at any time of the year. It is constantly changing and never the same.

There is always a spot to stop and look at interesting reflections. If I stop and stand or sit quietly, there is a chance I can spot a trout.

And there is always places where I can find mini water falls.
These too change each year.
This one is my new favorite created by the flash flooding last year.

I always leave the creek with a bit of remorse. I could literally spend hours there just looking for neat rocks and enjoying the noise of the water over the them.
It is like a siren song to me.
There is nothing more beautiful.

Alas. Home duties call and I have to bid ado to the creek until next time.

It may seem like there is no color in most of the woods, but there is plenty if you look for it.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

The old Pink Fugly Camera

Reflections in the small pond area

I stuck the old pink ugly camera in my pocket and fully intended not to use it.

However, it actually was more useful then my Nikon camera.

I thought this looked like claw marks

 Ice reflections

Sunset sky, taken while petting the red headed mule sisters.

After being dropped into the creek once by me in 2009, left in the woods, dropped into a drinking fountain once by the grand kids, and totally abused and mistreated for the past 8 yrs, this camera has outlasted all of my my more pricier pocket cameras and it isn't a freeze proof, water proof camera.
I paid all of $50 for it and it just keeps on snapping.

I wonder sometimes why I don't just leave the 'good' camera at home and take this like I used to!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Sticks and some stones

It looked warm and toasty the other day, but looks can be deceiving. I went for a walk into the valley because it was so windy 'on top' of the ridge.
I was browsing for some interesting 'sticks' for my winter collection of 'stuff'.

I sat by the creek and listened to the wind above. By sitting very still I was able to glimpse trout again. I wonder where they go when it gets really cold?
I thought about how my Grandmother Pearl used to take us for walks and we'd collect milkweed pods and nobbin' knockers.

I gathered a bunch of small stones from the creek bottom to take home. I wasn't exactly sure what I'd do with them, but I took them anyway.

Yes, a self shot. Camera on a tripod with a timer.
I was filling my pockets with small stones.

I did figure out what I would do with them later. I painted a plastic flower pot gold and put the rocks in it. They will help stabilize the small branches I put in them.

These are some of the branches I've already done. I'm stacking them in a corner right now until I figure out how to work them in with the Christmas Chair and old crates I have.

I found one bunch of Milkweed pods and need to find another. I'd like to give some to one of my friends so she can have a 'winter bouquet' too.

I discovered that spray paint holds dried Yarrow together and keeps the Self Heal plant together also.

I have a couple of more ideas for some leftover boards. "Ho Ho Ho!", "Snow", and "Thanks".
I think I rearrange my little bundled sticks every day. I haven't settled on how or where I'm going to use them. However they look pretty neat inside an old wooden sewing machine drawer.

I will have to get a photo of that soon.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Monday, November 06, 2017

Sticks, boxes, paints

What should you do when the weather is wet and cold outside? Well, I suppose some folks would just sit in front of the TV aka the Boob Tube [as my dad called it], I call it the brain drain...
Or sit in front of a play station and stare at a game that unfolds in front of you. [Sorry if I offend anyone who is a gamer. I consider playing video games equivalent to staring mindlessly at a TV. But that is how I was brought up.]

Between writing Morris's last big adventure [He has had a few good days and a few bad days] and chores, cooking..etc..., I've decided to try out some things I've always wanted to do.

Last year while looking for some winter decorations, I ended up at the local floral shop. There was a beautiful display of Stick Decoration. I stood there admiring the sticks in a vase that were colored. There were vases with sticks that had glitter on them and lit up. A little old lady walked up next to me and we both stared at the display.
I said, "It is pretty isn't it?"
She ruminated on that and replied, "If you want to pay that much for sticks I suppose!" She smiled at me and shook her head, "Only a city person would pay that much for sticks."

So last year I gathered some sticks. I put some in vases and used glitter glue as 'fake ice and snow'.  I looked around at images that I searched for under "winter decoration sticks". I found painted branches and sculptures of branches for quite a bit of money.

I have searched our old shed for other odd things and found old boxes. Most are in poor shape, but I've used some as end tables for the couch and the work quite nicely. 

This weekend was wet and cold. Rainy and cold...cold... icky damp cold.
So I decided to entertain myself with a challenge. 
What could I do with sticks? Left over chunks of wood?

I gathered materials and had no idea of what I may do. But things started to come together. I dried a bouquet of Milkweed Pods. During a break in the rain I used some spray paint to coat them. I used silver metallic paint to color a small and interesting branch I found on the side of the road while walking with Morris Friday. I think it was Bittersweet. 

*Note regarding the Milkweed Pods. My grandmother Pearl always decorated her house in the winter with painted Milkweed Pods and 'nobbin knockers', among other dried weeds. 

I've always admired those cute little signs that had "Noel" or some of those neat antiqued looking signs that people put up in their homes. But I never wanted to pay the price for them. 
Bingo! Since I stink at lettering, I'd use the sticks!

And what about those sticks?
Well, I'll get a photo of how that turned out after I put it together.

And that box?

It was a mess when I started, but it will be very useful in my Winter Theme. Let's call it a work in progress.

Here is my Fall/Thanksgiving table.
There is the old kitchen drawer on the bottom. That was the only drawer we had in the kitchen before the remodel. The other little box with three sections? I have no idea what it used to be. I found it in the garage filled with old nails.
The branch with the leaves is unpainted. I stuck it in a small crock filled with marbles and rocks.

Today looks like a fine day to be outside. No rain! The temps aren't supposed to get out of the 30's so it looks like the cold is settling in. 
After two days of being cooped up inside, I feel a hike coming on.

Of course there are chores to do, meals to make, a house to clean... and all of those dull and dreary things.

I need to get Morris out for a few more shots and then I can start his book.
I'm afraid though if I go on a hike I'll be searching for sticks...OH MY!

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Fall Decorations on the cheep cheep.. cheap

Have glue gun ... will craft!

Well. I went to find some discounted fall decorations at the craft store and was sorely disappointed. The day before Halloween and all fall craft things were stuck in a small section with few choices. Okay not a disaster right?
However, the store was now 90% Christmas craft stuff. Most of it was rather high priced too.

I'm glad that I've spent time collecting pine cones and acorns. Free and natural things that can be turned into 'crafty' stuff that won't make me feel bad if I have to toss it in a year or so.

I did manage to find some really cheap leaf bundles at the Dollar Store so I brought them home with an idea brewing in my head.
I had wanted a Fall Garland and a Fall/Thanksgiving wreath.

I couldn't afford the ones that were on display at the store.
Walmart stick bare stick wreath. $2.99
Dollar Store bundle of fake leaves. $1
Gold Ribbon ~ well this was something I'd bought years ago.

With my old glue gun and some acorns I made a small garland to see if it would look decent.

The acorns give it just enough weight to make it hang straight.

The wreath?

The white and orange acorn came from the yard. There is a painted hickory nut glued to the wreath along with an orange and yellow sparkly pine cone that also came from the yard.

I was pleased as punch. I used a pair of clippers to take apart the Dollar Store bunches and arranged them to my liking.

Hot glue and more ribbon. Viola! My second garland!

I used a hickory nut to add weight to the ribbon on the end.

I moved on to some dried 'weeds' I'd collected with Grace last weekend. She took some weeds home for her mom and I got the left overs.
I know where I can find some milkweed pods and I will collect those in the next few days.

I headed out to the woods and fields after writing most of this and came back with a few more ideas...

I'm going to get to work on them as I have some stuff running through my head.
I will leave you with this photo of a dog food can that the kids decorated for me.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Working at it.

The weather today is supposed to be a wintery mix of weather. I really don't mind it at all.
Yesterday was cold and breezy. The sky was overcast.
Perfect for hiking into the valley.

I got out my camera backpack and shoved a Crazy, Happy, and Terrible into it. I wasn't exactly sure what I was going to do, but at least I had a purpose for hiking in the blah brown season.

I headed of course to the creek with the toys. Ideas began to roll around in my head.

The idea of doing a last book with Morris and his toys seems like a good idea to me. I don't find it morbid or sad, but something I can get involved in with my whole heart.
I'd been waiting for an idea to pop up in my head since the last adventure story called The Long Journey. A story about unwanted toys and how they came to live with Morris.

For this final book, Happy the Hedgehog will make a comeback. Morris's long search for his puppy-hood buddy will be resolved.
Of course Terrible Tiger and Crazy Squirrel play an integral part.

This idea helps me deal with the eventual loss of my best friend. I think that by doing this story now, I will have a lasting 'memorial' to my pal. What better way than to have a story right?

By the way, Morris is doing well still. He sleeps a LOT. However after doing his business this morning at 3 AM, he thought it should be zoomy time around the living room, complete with barking, growling, and tail wagging.

I had to hush him and then bribe him with a dog treat to be quiet.

Now I have to take him out and bribe him with treats so he can do some posing for me.
That will be a challenge!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Friends Forever

So today I was cleaning out Morris's toy box. No worries, he seems to be doing just fine. I picked up Hoppy the Hedgehog, Terrible Tiger, and Crazy Tiger. I tossed the old pull toys but sat on the floor staring at Morris's characters that had been the subject of so many fun stories.

Morris pretty much ignores his toys now. Sleep is a big thing. Sleep and walking to the bus stop are his priorities. Well. Food.
He doesn't play even if I toss the toys for him.
I couldn't bring myself to toss the characters out. However they do need a good wash and a few repairs.

And then I began to think. One more storybook? One more adventure?
What would it be about?

How could I work Morris's aging into it? How would the story evolve?

Friends Forever.
I held the smelly toys and stared at Morris who gazed sleepily back at me.
I felt a welling up of emotions from deep within.

I may have hit upon my next project.

Fun with Topaz Studio

I'm not a huge fan of one particular photo program over another. I did try Lightroom and used the Free Trial for a few days. I didn't like how the program tried to force me into 'cataloging' my photos. I simply date my shots with a date taken and where/or what it was about.
I wish I could afford the Lightroom editing program, there are some nice features I could use for some of my more experimental shots such as star shots. However I don't see my self going into astro-photography.

I switched to Corel a few years ago and downloaded Photoshop C2 which was free at the time. I have used Topaz products and plugins ever since they came out.
Topaz offers 'Topaz Studio' in a free version. It works pretty darned well and has lots of tempting effects.

Below is the original shot. I did use RAW or the Nikon version of it called NEF.

With Topaz Adjust I was able to get this. I actually used a Toned shot setting called Vintage.
Now the shot was not perfectly in focus and I would have tossed it. In fact I probably will toss it as it really is nothing spectacular.

However this gives the view a better view of what I 'thought' I imagined when I took the photo. A quiet beautiful man made lake. It was built to prevent further devastation and flash flooding along the Bad Axe River around the year 1960.
You can see the dam in this shot.


Edited version with Topaz Studio. I used a Toned Sepia color here to bring out the fall colors and added some contrast. I had hoped in this shot to catch the mist rising off the water, but everything washed out in the original.

And then just because I had Topaz Studio open, I thought I'd visit Van Gogh and see how he'd see this shot. 'Van Gogh' setting:

That was pretty fun. As an experiment is worked nicely.

I used an HDR edit on the shot above to bring out the shadows.

My favorite shot of the morning was this reflection shot. The mist is nearly impossible to see, and the original shot had so much grey in it.


I used Topaz Adjust to bring out the colors and the trees I had to use a method similar to HDR processing.

And since I just wanted to fool around with it, I went into 'Trending' in Topaz Studio and found this effect:

I think it was an Orton glow effect.

Fun, but then again not something I'd print.

In truth, I don't think I picked the best time of day to come to Sidie Hollow to take photos. Sure it was right at sunrise, but the sun ... well, it doesn't peek into valley until at least an hour after the sun comes up.

I came away with a few shots I like, but I had to do some processing.

I'm not sure I'll purchase the full version of Studio. But I'll keep experimenting.