Thursday, April 30, 2009

Sign Of The Times

Ten years ago, we purchased one of those big ole blue highway signs to direct people to our business. That sign was one of the loose ends I needed to tie up. Far Guy said he could take it down for me, I thought better of that idea..there is a $700 fine for tampering or destroying those signs. Not that taking it down would be destroying..but tampering..maybe. I finally called Ollie ( we went to grade school together), and left him a message, MN DOT took it down, and delivered it to us. Well, since I paid $300 for this sign, it needed to go someplace...I am way against nailing stuff into trees..ouch. Far Guy graciously agreed it should go above my garage door, he tried to decapitate me with it only once during the hanging. He cussed, he had to switch out screwdrivers, he had to drag the ladder around while I was standing on my tippy toes. You would think, that if your cordless screwdriver always lets you down during a project..that you would just get out the one with the electrical cord in the first place. I was going to suggest this at the beginning of the project..but sometimes I am just silent. I know this may seem foreign to you all...but if I am silent....I do a lot of thinking to myself.. "Oh Lord, not that worthless battery operated piece of crap again." " My arms and legs are not long enough for this." " Hurry up, or the obit will have to say..she died because of short arms and legs..if she looked more like a Neanderthal she would have lived." Far Guy is encouraging... "Just hold it up there for a few more minutes..darling." I think it may have been the darling part.. :)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Wistful Wednesday: Early 1920's

These are Meady's children. Two girls and a boy, Far Guy's Mom is the oldest. This photo was probably taken in 1922, the children's ages would have been, 5, 3 and 8 that year. Somehow I cannot imagine perching a two year old up on that beautiful bench. A three year old 1922 it is! When I look at this photo I can see a number of cousins reflected in the faces of these children. I love that everyone has a bow, and is wearing some kind of stockings. This is a photo to treasure. The little boy is still living..he turned 92 this week. He is ageing..and can no longer hear people on the phone. He lives in a retirement community with his lovely wife, and a very spoiled dog that has been known to swallow a hearing aid. It was do I say this..retrieved in due time:)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

"Flat Adam"

For those of you not in the grandparent/parent loop, school children often make a likeness of themselves and mail it off, this was inspired by the book "Flat Stanley" by Jeff Brown.

Yesterday we had a visit from "Flat Adam" he was well travelled, too bad he didn't need a Grandma chaperone. He had been to Kodiak, Alaska..the lucky little flat guy, New Jersey and Washington State before ending up at his other Grandma and Grandpas way up in Northern Minnesota. Flat Adam has a few words written on him .... Try your best!

"Flat Adam" had quite an adventure here too..first we discovered how he became flat...
Then he visited lots of big boy toys...Far Guy had lots of fun with this part...
No, I will not bore you with all fourteen photographs..he just had to go to the Fire Hall too! He was definitely getting very tired by the time I made him rest among the Day lilies...

Then Far Guy needed a nap so he left Flat Adam with the best of babysitters...

Sadly Flat Adam was stuffed into an envelope after an appropriate story with photos was written. It was puzzling..Flat Adam had no blankie, he didn't whine once, he wasn't starving to death and there were no requests for chocolate milk. Not even one "Grandma Can you..?"
No hugs either..guess I like visits from round real Adam better:)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Trumpeter Swans: A Minnesota Success Story

Since Far Guy and I discovered Sven and Sophie up on Swan Pond we became curious how many other Swan pairs are in our area. On Saturday after I was done bitching about the snow, we went for a drive. Once the snow melted I was in a fairly good mood. We made a sixty mile circle and it took us all afternoon. We had a wonderful late lunch/early supper and returned home six hours later with my camera cards full. I may need larger cards. Back in the 1880's these Swans were hunted into extinction in Minnesota. For their meat and for their feathers for some ladies fancy hats. In the1930's, only 69 Swans remained in the lower 48 States. Those 69 Swans were all located in the Red Rocks Lake area of Montana. Through Conservation efforts and the Wildlife Nongame Wildlife Program these beautiful birds have been brought back to good numbers in Minnesota..exactly how 2004 it was estimated at 2000. Success!!
In 1987, 21 Swans were released in our area. We have discovered five pairs in our travels. Some are in potholes far from "Nowhere" ..some are in ponds very near the road. None of the Swans that we have viewed have identification I surmise that these are all wild swans versus released swans.

A Swan mainly eats submerged plants like water celery. I have noticed that one Swan..usually the largest..has a real dirty head. Now this is only my theory ...but it makes sense to me. Take the case of Sven..he is hard to photograph because he always has his head underwater. I am positive that Sophie tells him " Sven, you need to get me food cause I need to lay eggs soon. I will keep watch and you will rip plants out of the muck ALL day long for me to eat." Remember this is only my theory.. :)

All photos taken with Canon PowerShot SX 110 IS

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Swan Pond : Sven and Sophie

Yes, there are swans at Swan Pond, Trumpeter Swans. I have named the pair Sven and Sophie. Since Swan Pond is just up the road a piece we will try to get there once a week to keep an eye on them. The cob (Sven) and the pen (Sophie) mate for life. They can live for 20 to 30 years. The Swans we have observed are not nest building yet. They may be using an old nest on top of a beaver lodge that is way out in the slough. When the nest building commences Sven is the day laborer and Sophie is the actual builder. He brings Sophie the raw materials and she does all the placement...after all she will sit on that nest for many days and it must be just right. When it is perfect she will lay one egg every other day until she has five to nine eggs. She will leave the nest only to feed, bathe, and preen. She will cover the nest when she leaves, and Sven will stand guard in or on the nest. Nests are usually quite large..and can be up to six feet across. The eggs will hatch in about 33 days.

Sven is just a little larger than Sophie, he also spends much of his time with his head underwater eating vegetation. He is really hard to photograph. Sophie eats also..but not nearly as much as Sven..
Swan Pond is a very relaxing place to visit. I wish there was no traffic, about the time you are enjoying the silence and just listening to the sounds of the pond..a big ole truck comes roaring down the road. I also have to be very careful where I step, as the ditch is really steep, and the culvert is really flowing..if I end up down here..
I will be taking a little trip under the highway, and end up in the river..and possibly unhappy. I am wondering if there is some type of a screen or grate that prevents entrance into that culvert..maybe I should just wear a rope around my neck, tie it to the car and hope that Far Guy doesn't drive away without me... :)
Photos: Top two with the Canon, the last one with the now busted HP camera.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Snow on April 24, 2009

Yesterday late in the afternoon, it started to rain, thick icy cold rain that turned to ..SNOW. Now whose fault is this fine howdy- ya-do? It might have something to do with Far Guy, last Monday he was being a smarty pants and put away his snow boots, and his lined winter coveralls. I told him he was pushing it. Yesterday he moved my snow shovel from it's spot right outside the front the garage. One hour later it began to snow. So clearly the snow must be all his fault. The only thing I could have possibly done was to take down the Christmas lights and the swag, and the Christmasy snow picks with packages and reindeer on them.. oh and I changed my flag..bluebirds seemed more appropriate than geese with red bows. I still think the shovel moving was what pushed ole Mother Nature over the edge.

We had ONE lovely day of summer, it was actually hot on Thursday..77 degrees here, the neighbor had 83. He is always either warmer or colder than we are. I wore my crocs without my wool socks! We slaved away moving leaves, some were mulched, some were raked or blown into the woods. Far Guy was waging war with the sand and rocks that get on "the lawn" during snow removal, and wandering around with a bag of grass seed. Far Guy is way more particular with the lawn than I am, he grew up in the city, me in the country..that might be the big difference in our "lawn" ethics.
Just for the record I have not put my snow boots away yet..I wore them yesterday:)

Photos taken with Canon PowerShot SX110 IS ( Click on photos to enlarge them)

Friday, April 24, 2009

I have gone Loony AGAIN!

We are very fortunate here in Minnesota to have an individual by the name of Larry Backlund who has a Loon nesting platform near his dock on a small lake in Minnesota. This is a project that is near and dear to Larry's big ole Loony heart.

The Live Cam is up and running, I have a link to it on my sidebar...on the left.. right above My Weather.This year Minnesota Bound ( The web site that hosts the Live Loon Cam) has added some extra features. There is a Loon Blog written by Larry, and a Loon Chat Room, It is my understanding that there is also a spot in the chat room for live chat. I left comments on both Larry's Blog and the Chat Room last evening..just type in your name.. and leave a comment if you wish.

Larry gives up the use of his lake shore property so that the Loons have a safe place to nest, he built a platform and supplies it with cat tails and weeds. The Technical Crew comes in and sets up the Cam and all it's various connections. After the Loons have hatched their young they will leave the nest, and Larry can have his lake shore back again.. he follows the Loons and their activity on the lake very closely.

Once the eggs have been laid the Loons will never leave the nest for very long. They trade spots day and night, wind and rain..Loons are very devoted to their eggs.

Last year, my grandsons were here when we watched the first chick go for his first swim. It was a wonderful sharing experience. I hope you enjoy this years Loon Experience as much as I will :)

Here is what I wrote last May 5, 2008:
I have been doing some reading about Common Loons (Gavia immer) ..I just love those scientific names! Imagine yourself a Male have had a foot loose, fancy free winter in the south. One day something says fly north...something draws you to the nesting site you had last year. Finally the ice is out and you use your magical calls to establish your territory. Then you wait for your mate, when she finally shows are really happy to see her.. "Hiya Toots"...lets get on with the laying of the eggs! You are both tireless parents, taking turns on the nest..then spending most of the summer rearing and protecting the chicks. One day you say, "Time to go junior or juniorette...hope you have a good loony life." You and your mate take off to gather with friends, and head south. You might see your mate over the winter, you might not, you may be 100 to 1,000 miles apart.."See ya at the lake in the spring Toots."Such is the life of a Loon..fascinating creatures!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Swan Pond: Ole and Lena

Up the road a piece there is a wildlife area, a slough. I have named it Swan Pond. It is located right next to a highway, but there is a safe place to pull off of the road to view the birds or to take photos! I have named the Canadian Honkers Ole and Lena.
I was watching for quite some time. Traffic does not seem to bother them. They "Honk-AHonk" occasionally. Then all of a sudden they got very, very upset. They got unwanted visitor..Lars. He flew in and landed.

Ole took off into the water after Lars..AHonking many warnings. Lena stayed on the island..then she pitched a real fit. Apparently Ole was not doing a good enough job of thwarting advances by Lars. During mating season male geese are supposed to defend their territory, their mate and the just that order. Lena should have just been concerned with the nest...maybe she has not laid her eggs yet..or maybe she didn't read the same book as I did. Maybe she was REALLY hormonal and cranky. Ole and Lena both took off after was nasty.

Lars flew back in by himself, then in came Ole and Lena as a pair. They flew in between Lars and the nesting island and landed.

They are all quiet now, Lars swims in the distance, while Ole and Lena swim to the Island and once there they huddle close together and preen their feathers. They preened and preened, Lars swam and swam..everyone was quiet.. I have no idea what they discussed in flight..but apparently Lars got the message.

Far Guy and Chance watched from INSIDE the car, Chance was curious but he watched quietly and never barked. He did roll down his window to get a better view. Far Guy kept saying..I hope you got that:)
All Photos taken with Canon PowerShot SX110 IS (Click on photos to enlarge them)
April 22: I heard one lone Loon on the lake.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Wistful Wednesday: Old Car

This is a photograph of Far Guys Dad. The car is a Willys Knight from the late 1920's (according to Far Guy) I have no idea when the photograph was taken... I would guess in the late 1930's. I have not been able to come up with a better date than that. Perhaps a relative knows.. If anyone out there can date the car more precisely..just leave me a comment.

I have many photographs of Far Guys Dad and cars. He loved cars. He loved looking at and talking about cars. In the eighty years that he lived (1914-1994) he had lots of cars. I think he must have made the rounds to all the car dealerships when all the new cars were released for the year. Car dealerships used to print out wonderful brochures, he stored them in his magazine rack next to his chair. Sometimes they would be all spread out on the floor. He could car shop from his chair!

When I was on a quest for a new to me four wheel drive vehicle back in 1987, it was just natural for him to accompany me on my quest. We spend days looking and comparing. I think he was just a little bit sad when I found the vehicle I wanted..our days out and about vehicle shopping in Park Rapids, Wadena, Perham and Detroit Lakes..were over..shucks..:)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Chance : Playing Ball With Lefty

Hello! It is I Chance the wonder dog, I get to guest blog again today! We went to the "city" for Easter, Far Side has "city" rules, they are different from country rules. She says " Blah Blah traffic Blah Blah Listen Blah Blah play ball Blah Blah Listen" the other rule is less complicated... "Pee before going in the house" I always try to get by with this one, as I run wildly toward the door, I am so anxious to see my girls. Far Side says "Chance, Come" .. so I do.. she points and says "Pee" and I do. Anything to get into that house. I love my girls, you know they lived with me for ten months, and I got to see them every day!

Ah, the girls, they are giggly heaven, they call me Chancey...they like my kisses. Sometimes they let me wash their entire is starting to wear she tastes a little funny. After all the is time to find a ball. I do and I know I can get Maddie to play ball, IF Maddie can convince Far Side that we can be allowed to go outside together. Far Side says "NO, not now, he must be supervised." OVERPROTECTIVE isn't she? Finally we get to go out. More attention.. there are German Shepherd dogs across the street in their yard barking..should I go over and say Hi? Far Side says "No" She is SO bossy. " Get back here and play ball or you will go inside." I love to play ball..and it is allowed as long as I pay attention, and mind. I am such a good boy.

Maddie has quite an arm! The wind up...
The pitch..yes she is a lefty...but I don't mind

Off like a flash..
I always bring the ball back
Aren't I handsome running with a ball in my mouth!

We can't play ball for a real long time in the city..because they have an Ass-Fault drive, which is way different for my sensitive country, dirt road and grass pads on the bottom of my feet. I am a Border Collie, I like to "herd" but I am very ball driven. One time in Nebraska Far Side was not paying attention until I began to then I had ripped up my pads something painful..but I still wanted to play ball. It took a whole week for my pads to heal. So I guess it is a good thing I have Far Side and Far Guy to watch out for my feet. On the way home, Far Side said "Chance you did real good, but we need to work some more on your off leash skills, she wants me to be perfect all the time." Far Guy is a push over.. he just says "Get back here, and good boy." I guess I was a little wild during the Easter Egg hunt..running willy nilly trying to help the girls who were also running willy nilly to find hidden eggs..three girls and only one of me..that was quite a challenge for a Border Collie that wants to herd children:)

All photos taken with the HP now busted camera.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Old Lady Camera

A week ago, My loyal HP Photosmart M627 (7mp) Digital Camera died. My lens stuck, it would not retract. It was stuck..lens error. I looked up the error on the Internet..and did everything I was advised.. low and behold Far Side the Camera Repair Woman was successful. For a whole five days.. about 200 photos later..until it died again..and no matter how many times I did the suggested is still dead. I was sad. I was comfortable with my tried and true camera, however I did yearn for a better camera. HP stopped making cameras.. I complained to my brother.. apparently it was a division that was expendable. He didn't care as long as it wasn't his division. He is camera savvy..or used to be..guess not so much anymore. I complained directly to HP..they are truly sorry but they have no plans to resurrect their Camera division anytime soon.

Far Guy offered to give me his camera..which in reality is my old HP Photosmart (2.1mp.) He is so generous. But it still works..and it does take good photos.

I did some research.. and had my choices written for the shopping part..gosh I hate to shop. I walked around, looking at all the choices. Nikon or Canon?? A camera with lots of dials and settings..I barely understand shutter speeds ..I am camera stupid. I was discouraged. Then I found my old HP Camera, it must have been stuck in some warehouse someplace..I almost grabbed it and ran to the checkout counter. I stopped myself..and said self "You need a better camera..Perhaps not a Canon Mark III..but a better camera."

I compromised and got another old lady camera. One with automatic settings, but with the capability to choose my own settings..for when I am comfortable enough with ISO and all that technical jargon. When I have time to read the entire manual and feel like experimenting. I have thirty days to decide if this is the camera for me or not..and I will probably go back and get that HP Photosmart M627 and see if I can get a service package for ten years..because I really liked that camera..I can send my old one in for repair..but that will cost as much as a new camera.
One of the reasons I wanted a new camera was to take bird photos.. In my old camera they would have looked like this...honest..there is a bird in that photo.

The new camera...

A cropped photo.. with practice... I should get better..maybe.

The camera I ended up purchasing was a Canon (9 mp) Powershot SX 110 IS ..thirty days will tell the story:)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Fundraiser Photos

Last evening was the fundraiser for our Great-Niece Aubrey. An evening for the community to come together to support a little girl in her quest for a perfect smile. The donations of items kept pouring in all week, we ended up with 130 items for the silent auction. People working together and coming together can accomplish so much....many very talented people came out of the woods for this fundraiser. The local Lions Club was in charge of serving and preparing the food, my Mother and my Aunt headed up the food preparation....the food was awesome! There were some great cooks/chefs in the kitchen. The dinner was roast pork and beef ( it practically melted in your mouth) , mashed potatoes, gravy, Finnish flat bread, coleslaw (simply out of this world), green beans and carrots (prepared in such a way that their flavors just popped) and every kind of homemade bars that you can imagine. I believe that about 450 people were served dinner. It was a "free will" donation.

After the silent auction was all set up, I managed to get a few photos..before the place filled with people.
Handcrafted Oak Cabinet ( the firefighter that made me leave my house during the forest fire).
Handcrafted Boat Bookcase by an elderly craftsman.

My Dad made the doll cradles..and my Mom the dolly blankets..

Baskets of goodies!

Potholders sewed by my sister, and big foot pillows sewed by my Mom.

An R2 D2 Cooler, a hand carved Blue a very talented cousin

The Lions Ladies at the door.

Quilts, my Mom made the one on the left.

Baby blankets....
A Spruce Boat Bookcase hancrafted by a cousin. A hand turned walnut bowl by my very talented son in law Andy.

More Quilts..I even have a cousin that is a Taxidermist! :)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Birthday Girls

Last weekend when I asked our eldest daughter Trica if I could take a birthday photo of her, she said "NO, M-O-T-H-E-R." So fine.. I will use old ones then. She still has a uterus and ovaries and sometimes I just drive her nuts. She is 37 today.. Happy Birthday Sis!
Earlier this week, I told you all about how she shares a birthday with her Great Grandmother A (Meady), I forgot to mention that they also share the same wedding just worked out that way. Trica picked her own wedding date..I had absolutely nothing to do with it.

Great Grandma and Trica in 1981..not a great photo.. Trica was 9 and Great Grandma was 88.

Trica in 1982 ..when she was ten years old.There is a method to my madness, two of her daughters also have had birthdays recently. The "Irish Twins."

Paige was ten years old last week. I asked her if she ever counted her freckles..she doesn't. She is the gal that can fake cry at the drop of a hat. In this photo she is holding their family cat, Bailey. Bailey hates me, ever since I squirted her with cold water for jumping on the table.

Madison was eleven years old yesterday. While Trica was in labor with her, I asked her if she didn't want to hold off until her birthday.. the only problem was Madison was born very early in the it would have been a long 22 hour wait. That was another time when she said "NO, M-O-T-H-E-R."
Maddie is in love with horses, she needs one, (a need is way different than a want Grandma..Maddie's famous words). She is our hunter, explorer outside gal.

So now that you have met all the birthday girls..have some was really yummy:)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Spring Fires

Last night "The Natives" were restless..either that or someone was released from jail. Fire bugs, those people that love to watch the pretty Fire Truck lights scurrying around putting out fires. It is brown here, and there is lots of dead tall grass in the ditches. They drive along in their cars and throw rolls of toilet paper out the windows..flaming rolls of toilet it unrolls it spreads the fire.

Last night was a busy night. Far Guy and Pyro (Nephew) burned off my wild flower area, then we got company and Pyro finished the burn and wet everything down, and brought Chance back to the house. A little while later a page came out for a Medical call, and shortly after that a report of a fire..on our corner! Now our fire could not have escaped ..could it? No, it was the flaming toilet paper perpetrators. ..and the fire was across the gravel road. Far Guy is only on duty during the day, last night he shut off his pager, he said it was a busy night for the Fire Department...hopefully it will rain soon..the grass will green up and the fire danger will have passed for awhile. The BIA has it's own fire crew, they stay really busy this time of year.
The Oaks, I may bitch and moan about how late they leaf out, and complain about the leaves. It only took one crowning Forest Fire in the property in the Pines south of us to make me a believer in Oaks.

May 01, 2004. I was working in my greenhouse..

Far Guy was in his..

Jo stopped by..and Far Guy said I think there is a fire just south of us. ( Actually, I think he said "Holy shit, that fire is coming straight for us." ) It was a really dry spring that year, and this particular day there was a wind from the south about 30 mph. The fire was intentionally set, needless to say it spread like wild fire. Fire Departments began to arrive...four different departments. Jen and Andy were coming to visit that evening..they were on the way and noticed all the smoke.. Jen called and said "YUM, Mom there is a whole lot of smoke in your direction..where is the fire?" I replied " Across the road in the pines." By the time I went out to check on things can't see very much back here in the woods..the plane was here dumping the wet stuff on the red stuff.

I then went back to the house, to find I had my own personal fire truck stationed at my house, and two firefighters who I knew..that told me.. "You have to leave, it is not safe back here anymore, our orders are to evacuate everyone." Well, I of course asked who issued THAT was the Chief..I asked what buildings will you protect? The reply was "just the house" ...not the Greenhouses? "Nope, just the house, but we should be able to save it, your steel roof will really help." Then the Firefighter who I have known all my life ( I remember when he was born, I probably even changed his diaper a time or two) said.. "you have to leave now"..and he gave me a hug. I told him to help himself, there was food and cold soda in the fridge..just in case he was hungry. Then I went into the house, and grabbed my camera and my hooded sweatshirt and hopped on the three wheeler and left. No ID, no money, no checkbook, no real vehicle..Far Guy had his truck and a shovel. We waited out by the end of the sister in law was pretty smart..she packed up her possessions and put them in her car. She had all her important "stuff."

There were a few "spot" fires that came over the road that day, they were quickly extinguished, the wind switched to the southwest and forced the fire toward the lake, and as soon as it hit the was manageable..and the fire went out. The fires back in the pines, smoldered for was determined to be a fire set by someone..they were never apprehended. Thank goodness for the Oaks. You couldn't pay me to live in the Pines..they are beautiful..but deadly in a forest fire. I will take my Oaks, leaves and all:)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Early Spring Happenings

Snow: It is almost gone, the huge drifts are always the last to go and we still have a couple in the yard. We really need a rain to clean things up..everything is brown..sure, various shades o' brown..but still brown.
Chance enjoying one of the last of the snowbanks.

Bluebirds: They are here, building a nest, they first showed up on Monday April 13. I sat out for an hour one day trying to get a photo, no didn't help that Chance wanted to play ball, instead of watching for birds. As soon as I got up and played ball, the Bluebirds were behind me chirping away.
Loons: None heard yet, a neighbor said he heard one.. so any day now.

A couple of Swans.

A Red Winged Blackbird

Canadian Friends!

Deer Ticks: They are here. The little tiny itty bitty size of a pin head ticks. Chance had one crawling on him yesterday April 15. We capture them on pieces of scotch tape, then we fold the tape over on itself and then cut the tick in half with a knife or a scissors. Duct tape works really well can line them up and then smother them. You can also get out a magnifying glass and watch their little legs go a hundred miles an hour trying to escape the tape. We use Frontline on Chance, I stopped by the Vet's Office and they said "Yup the Deer ticks woke up on Monday..and Frontline business was booming." They have a new Office gal..I am not sure that she will work out either..she might be a few sandwiches short of a picnic.

Chance perfectly framed, gathering ticks :)