Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Come Walk with Me in the Woods

Winter is despised by lots of folks but I love it.  As a matter of fact, I love each and every season.  This morning we woke to a panorama of winter white.  I snapped some pictures as I walked this morning and come along and enjoy the sights!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Another Way to Preserve

We are loaded with apples and have been giving them away to anyone interested.  We have 8 different trees - 1 Macintosh, 3 Cortland, 2 Honey Crisp 1 Wolf River and 1 Yellow Newton Pippin. .  This was an excellent year for apples and that was nice because last year was the opposite for Wisconsin apples.  I've frozen slices for apple pies and cakes, made sugar free applesauce, canned apple juice and made a few pies and now I'm turning to a time honored method of preservation - dehydration.  We have an electric dehydrator but long ago, people used the sun or wood ovens to dry their fruit or veggies.  It's a clever way to keep the goodness of the food and conserve space.  The dehydrated product has concentrated flavor and nutrition and can be eaten as is or rehydrated with water.  I love the tasty little dried apples and they make a nice portable snack to carry in a small plastic bag............. Parsley from the herb garden is easy to do too and keeps us supplied for the year. ...........In case our planet gets a little too crowded in the future, perhaps our scientists will figure out a way to dehydrate people in a humane and workable way.  The human body is made up of 57 to 65 per cent water.  We'd probably need less food and living space if we were paper doll sized folks and wouldn't it be fun to float from place to place on the wind?!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Looking at the Big Picture

I was reading the National Geographic the other day and was stunned by one of its facts.  I guess they can't be perfectly accurate, but they estimate that since human beings appeared upon the earth there have been 107 billion of us.  That just boggles my mind.  Oh sure, I knew a lot of people preceded we who now tread carefully and not so carefully upon this nature based orb we call home.  But 107 billion is a lot of moms and pops and kids and food to feed us all.  We really are nothing new.  We have benefited so much from all of the advances made by earlier generations and hopefully we will leave this place a little bit better for having been here but if you know someone who thinks the sun rises and sets because of them, just remind them of the bigger picture - the bigger picture with 107 billion people smiling and laughing and crying through the ages.  And thank you, God, for not giving up on us!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Raspberries and Reminiscence

Wow, time really got away on me this summer - it must have been that month long road trip that threw us for a loop.  Here it is "back to school" time already and some of the leaves are turning color, the duck and geese babies are adult size and the part timers on the lake are getting ready to take out their docks.  Due to the erratic and downright cold summer weather, the garden produce is about a month late and that adds to the confusion too.  ( Today it got up to 94 degrees so who knows what is in store for us - unpredictable is a good way to describe our Wisconsin weather.).........I thought I'd tell about one of my favorite crops - the ruby red, fragile, gloriously tasty raspberry.  The bushes we planted about four years ago are producing nicely now and I've been picking a couple of quarts of raspberries every two days for a couple of weeks.  We eat them with cereal, with milk and mostly in the seedless jam that I make.  I love the little red orbs but every picking brings my mind back to years ago when a friend and I would go to the nearby forests and together pick wild raspberries.  Each of us had small children so we'd rise early and get out to the woods before our husbands had to be at work at 7:45.  Then we'd rush home with our bounty and tend to the homemaker/mom things till the next foraging day.  It was fun to pick in the early morning forest air and share stories and friendship on the trips to and fro.  My friend was Karin and an exceptional person in my eyes.  She was kind and brilliant and the mother of four children, three girls and a boy.  Karin came over from her German homeland when she was 19.  She spoke English fluently with a little German accent, also spoke French and of course, German.  She had an incredible knowledge of botany and seemed to know every species of plant and tree and weed.  While she was homemaking, she earned a degree in education and then a job at the local high school as a German and French teacher.  The students loved Frau Karin and she showered them with her special kind of attention and affection.  She rode her bicycle the five mile trip to and from her teaching job and one bright morning, a driver with the rising sun glaring in his eyes, did not see Karin on the highway shoulder and drove right over her as a school bus passed in the accompanying lane.  Karin was killed instantly and some of the children were witnesses. She was in her mid forties and it still hurts to think of the loss.  There have just been a few funerals in my life where I just could not attend because I knew that my sobbing would be impossible to stop, and Karin's was one of them. Raspberries remind me of Karin but they also remind me of the good times we had.

Friday, July 12, 2013

A Pop Up Storm

The weather people have lots of curious terms and one is a "pop up" storm.  Our summer has arrived and we are now enjoying sunny days in the eighties and just enough rain to eliminate the need to water the plants.  The lake water is now a comfortable 78 degrees and I'm back to exercising in it whenever we pontoon over to the state owned land.  I wear my trusty speedo water running belt and it keeps me up while I pedal like a cyclist in the cool clear water.  I love it and usually go for about a half hour, merrily splashing with the loons and herons and the occasional eagle.  Bing prefers to use the time on the water to cast a line or two and often pulls in some walleyes or perch.  Well, the other day, we headed for the swimming hole and it was sunny and warm.  (I should emphasize that Bing is a veteran weather watcher and studies the patterns and radar maps and whatever else the TV and internet offers.)  When we arrived, it started to drizzle, not expected but we figured we could handle it and decided to proceed with our cycling and fishing.  It was so refreshing to be in the water and watch the pretty little raindrops splash on the lake surface.  We both thought that this was a short little cloud passing over and we'd soon be high and dry again.  Then the rain intensity increased gradually to a pour.  The wind began to blow and the rain splashed harder.  I looked to see where Bing was, and a white haze and pouring rain blew the placid lake into a sea of whitecaps.  Soon the raindrops were large and cold and I kept praying that it wouldn't turn to hail - the veggies in the garden were finally shooting up but their tender shoots couldn't take hard hail.  Bing managed to drive the boat back to my area and it was good to see him.  We waited out the storm, me in the water and Bing soaking wet on the boat.  He estimated the winds were 25 to 35 mph. .....So, that's a pop up storm.  Very interesting!   
I didn't have the camera with me but included pix of the lake  anyway.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

A Reluctant Summer

Reluctant is a real neat word.  It conveys a subtlety to unwillingness to do something.  When one knows that something should be done, and it is the right time to do it, but one is opposed to doing it.  That is exactly what is happening in our neck of the woods with this magical time of the year called summer.  We've already passed the longest day of the year,  June 21st.  The daylight is getting shorter now.  The fourth of July fireworks are beginning to echo across the lake.  But those warm sunshiny days are rare and the spring flowers, ( peonies and irises,)  are just now blooming.  The piers and boats are in the water and ready for sailing and skiing, for canoeing and kayaking.  But instead, the people are tending their landscapes in sweatshirts and raincoats.  They're using their campfires for warmth and heating their cabins and homes at night.  Instead of garden rows bushy and tall, tiny plants are fighting to grow.  Summer teases us with  a day or two near 80 and then sends hail to add a touch of irony. According to our local weatherman, this area has been in drought for the last ten years but this year we're getting caught up and that is very good but we're hoping for some nice steady sunshine to get the garden caught up to its usual splendor.  O, reluctant summer, unloose yourself and smile your sun upon us!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Bear With Me

Omigosh, it was a happy happy Memorial Day for me.  We've lived up here in the deep dark woods since 1972 and I've really really wanted to have a close encounter with a bear because when you live in a deep dark woods for over 40 years, you should be able to brag about your ursine encounters.  You should be able to top the story of the three bears and Goldilocks.  You should be able to at least say that a bear ate your homework.  But no! It hadn't happened.  Oh sure, we had shoveled dead skunks into garbage bags, chased raccoons from our wading pool filled with crayfish,  swum with the loons, and harvested deer.  But no bear for  me!  Until last Monday.  Bing had gone to golf with his league and Bernie and Jamie had left to return to DePere.  I decided to go to town and get some groceries.  I went to the bedroom to change into my "goin to town" clothes, looked out the big bedroom window and there was a fine black bear right outside the window, ready to climb the mighty white pine at the top of the hill.  I could hear dogs down the hill barking and the bear started clambering up the tree.  It looked like a yearling bear and I grabbed the camera and snapped away as he or she got higher and higher.  I could hear whimpering from the bear and opened the window wide to hear it better.  Then I quickly closed it in case a Mama bear was nearby.  The bear seemed to be watching me and kept climbing and climbing till it was way up in the branches.  The bear seemed to be planted up there till maybe it was dark so I left for town.  Coming back, I was curious to see if
my furball friend was still in the tree but as soon as I drove into the driveway I saw the bear teetering along the deck railing like a gymnast hoping for a ten.  Oh boy, I snapped into digital action and had the time of my life watching that creature, whom I have named Ebony,  show incredible patience, forebearance, ingenuity and perseverence, trying mightily to reach the bird feeder half flled with bird seed.  She never did get to the bird seed but I watched her lunge off the railing , grab onto the pole and helplessly slide down the pole, then she'd climb back up on the deck and try again and again and again.  After at least forty minutes of trying, she finally gave up but as she lumbered away, I thanked her for the excellent entertainment.

Love - A Many Splendored Thing

Love is precious.  Love is a gift.  Long long ago, Bing's Mom and Dad introduced their baby girl, Susan, to Bing and his older brother, Paul.  Bing was almost 8 and Paul was almost 9.  Love blossomed with these siblings and still flourishes.  The picture shows Bing and Sue on the deck.  Sibling love is a special kind of love.  It comes from all the shared family experiences and the intimate day to day exposure to each other.  It's fun, as the years go by, to examine the likenesses and differences between the siblings.  Certain traits from the mom and certain traits from the dad are evident and having decades to watch makes it easy to identify them. It's a comfort after your parents are gone to still have a connection to the family and all those days long ago when you ate and drank and housed together. Enjoy your siblings!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Images of Spring in the Northwoods

The power of nature is undeniable.  Every time we see the aftermath of tornadoes and hurricanes, earthquakes and tsunamis, we know that there is a force that cannot be controlled by man, (or even woman!)  But another most beautiful side of nature is its ability to transform and heal.  Every spring in our latitude there is an incredible transformation of the landscape from grey and brown and black to every shade of green imaginable, to the subtle pinks and whites of cherry and apple blossoms, to the bright yellows of daffodils and dandelions.  The air's bitter crispness softens into sun sprinkled warmth and the spirit soars.  I walked around our place and captured some of spring's delights.  Some day our technology, besides offering us a way to capture the digital images of these miracles, will figure out a way to capture the warmth of the sun, the smell of the rain soaked earth,  and the ability to breathe the fresh clean air of spring's revitalizing properties.  Now, these aspects are left to one's imagination and memories.  Enjoy the spring of your life and soar with the season!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Where in the World are Grandpa and Grandma? Back Home and Happy to have Traveled

    Great God, we made it home again - wow, what an amazing trip.  We were stunned and awed and frightened and exhilirated and so very joyful to be in the presence of our children, grandchildren and our beautiful daughters-in-law.  The weather extremes were from about 16 degrees in Montana to 98 degrees in western Minnesota.  America is blessed with such richness and diversity - God bless America and thank you for the ability and resources to make such a trip.


Where in the World are Grandpa and Grandma? One More for the Road!

This state has very special meaning for Bing and me.  We started our married life here and our firstborn son joined us in 1970.  This is a state that was explored by Pere Marquette and Joliet for France.  There was heavy fighting between the white settlers and the native americans.  The state produces one tenth of the nation's food and its farms sell over ten billion dollars worth of crops and livestock annually.  It leads the nation in corn, soybean and hog marketing and is third in livestock sales. The capital sports a French name.

Where in the World are Grandpa and Grandma? Thanks Walmart

This state is the only state we went through that didn't list tourism as an important feature.  It kind of proved it when we found very few RV parks along the way.  Luckily, Walmarts across the country offer their parking lots to travelers and we found one when we needed overnight rest.  The capital of this state is named after one of our presidents.  The state entered the union on March 1, 1854, the 37th state.  The first permanent white settlement was in Bellevue in 1823.  We happen to have family in Bellevue.  The state is a leading grain producer with bumper crops of sorghum, corn and wheat. The state's sizeable cattle and hog industries make Dakota City and Lexington among the nation's meat packing centers.  Manufacturing includes electronic components, pharmaceuticals, clothing, farm machinery and equipment.

Where in the World are Grandpa and Grandma? Wear Your Blinders if You're Afraid of Heights!

Breathtaking scenery and world class skiing make this state a prime tourist destination.  A famous singer has the capital city as his name.  The territory was claimed for Spain in 1706 but it entered the union on August 1st, 1876, the 38th state.There are more than 1000 mountain peaks over 10,000 feet high and 54 peaks towering over 14,000 feet.  Condominiums and cabins line the valleys below the popular ski areas and roads  and tunnels through rock and around sheer cliffs speak of past engineering marvels.  This state was once primarily a mining and agricultural state but its economy is now driven by the services industry - medical providers and other business and professional services.  It has a strong manufacturing base also with food products, printing and publishing, machinery and electrical instruments.  The primary crops are livestock, corn, hay and wheat.

Where in the World are Grandpa and Grandma? You Don't Need a Salt Shaker Here!

This is a state with only four letters in its name.  It has a great huge lake in which it is very easy to float.  It was the 45th state to enter the union and that was on January 4th, 1896.  The region was explored for Spain by Franciscan friars in 1776 and then in 1847, Mormons who were fleeing religious persecution in the eastern United States and the midwest, settled and began the capital city.  The state has varied topography, beautiful mountains and awesome multicolored canyons and arches, great salt basins and stretches of sand.  It is a state rich in natural resources, a leading producer of copper, gold, silver, lead, zinc, potassium salts, molybdenum, oil and natural gas.  The top agricultural products are cattle, calves and dairy products.  Every January it hosts the Sundance independent film festival, the largest film festival in the nation.

Where in the World are Grandpa and Grandma? Bring Your Water Bottle

This state is the driest in the nation.  Much of it is uninhabited sagebrush covered desert.  Trappers and traders entered the area in the 1820's and the United States obtained the region after the Mexican War in 1848.  The state entered the union on October 31, 1864, the 36th state.  The first permanent settlement was a Mormon trading post near modern day Genoa.  In 1931 the gambling industry built the city of Las Vegas and it draws visitors from all over the world.  The state manufactures gaming equipment, lawn and garden irrigation equipment and titanium products.  The capital city rhymes with criminal fire igniting and is near the Comstock Lode, the richest known silver deposit.  The leading agricultural industry is raising cattle.  

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Where in the World are Grandpa and Grandma - Just Passing Through

We just spent a few hours traveling through a very small part of a very big state.  It is the number one state in the USA in terms of population.  It was the 31st state to enter the union - Sept. 9, 1850.  Mexico surrendered the land to John C. Fremont in 1847, and a year later, gold was discovered at Sutter's Mill.  The gold rush began and large numbers of settlers moved to the wondrous and rich land.  This state has the lowest point in the nation and the highest point in the 48 contiguous states.  The lowest is 282 feet below sea level and the highest is 14, 491 feet above sea level.  Leading industries are: agriculture, manufacturing, biotechnology, aerospace-defense and tourism.  The pictures don't show the vast diversity of this state but show a lttle of its beauty.