.

.
Pink Lady Slippers, Tamarac NWR, MN

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

A seven year olds wisdom

I think what I like best about visiting with my grandkids is when I have a chance for some one on one talk time with each of them.  I just like the way their minds work, and how they make statements in a matter of fact style that get to the heart of an issue.

_MG_0605

Son Andy and his boys, Joseph and Seth, arrived from Rochester about 1:30 this afternoon.  The grandboys were a little antsy after a six hour drive in the car, so after a bit of visiting we headed for Lost Lake so they could drown some worms. 

Andy thought the boys should change into long pants and shoes because of the bugs, but I suggested they stay in shorts and sandals.  Joey is eight and Seth is seven.  My experience has been that kids that age need stuff to wear that can get wet if you’re going to be that close to water.

_MG_0608While Andy got the poles ready, the boys did what comes naturally.  Joey found a live snail that he brought to show me.  I was impressed that they stayed dry for most of the time we were there.  Winking smile

_MG_0610

Eventually they settled into the serious business of catching dinner.  They had several bites, but were somehow distracted at the time to manage to haul anything in.  Go figure!  A bald eagle flew over and there were so many interesting things along the shore.  Andy was kept busy untangling lines, baiting hooks, and teaching them to cast an open face reel.  He’s a good father.

During one of the breaks in action, I had a chance to have a discussion with seven year old Seth about fishing licenses.  He knew that kids got to fish for free, and he knew that his dad had to pay for a license.  He asked if I liked to fish, and I told him yes, but a license for me here would cost $45.  He thought about that for a minute, and then came up with this priceless response, “Asking old people to pay for a fishing license is like asking them to get a license to breathe!”  Ha Ha!  I like this boy.

_MG_0615 _MG_0612

After a hotdog cookout with all of us and John and Bridget, we headed over to their site for some rousing games of ladder golf.  Seth told me he was surprised that someone living in a motorhome would have neighbors.  Didn’t get a chance to pick his mind about that.

_MG_0619 _MG_0623

After the boys were done, it was time for the adults to compete.  Joey asked if he could go check on Emma, and I said “Sure”.  In short order, Joey had hooked her up to her leash, and she was taking him for a walk.  Disappointed smile  He held on with both hands, and as they went over the hill I heard him say, “ She sure is strong!” 

Both boys and dog eventually returned safely.  Two boys and a dog… a good mix.  They were all worn out!

_MG_0625

When Bridget and I were playing, Seth said he wanted to be the referee of the contest like in wrestling.  I wasn’t sure if I was going to have to put Bridget into a full Nelson or not. Winking smile  Luckily, he only wanted to lift the winner’s hand at the end of the match.  These boys may only be here for two days, but I swear they’re likely to wear me out.  Such fun!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Monday, July 28, 2014

Good news today

Quite a few of our National Wildlife Refuges support the Youth Conservation Corp.  That means every summer, high school students apply to spend about six weeks working on a refuge.  It can look good on their resumes if they plan to eventually work in the wildlife field.  Sometimes these kids work out well, and some times they don’t.  The two boys we had last summer weren’t exactly go getters.  This summer, the refuge started out with three teens; two boys and a girl.  One of the guys dropped out after about two weeks.  Tawny, the young woman, was a real worker.  Wyatt wasn’t as dedicated as she.

They finished up their stint on the refuge last Friday.  Wyatt turned out to be the only one interested in washing and waxing my rig, but he told me that he was afraid of heights.  I agreed to have his younger brother, Walker, help him out and do the roof.  They arrived today at noon to begin the chore.

_MG_0599 _MG_0600

This is the first time I’ve used teenagers to do this job.  I usually find a refuge intern that’s several years older.  I decided to skip mowing this afternoon so I could supervise things.  Walker turned out to be a real gem.  I’m sure glad I had him on top.  First I had them wash the whole rig with a bucket of water with Dawn in it and rinse it off with the hose.  Then everything got a second cleaning with The Solution.  At least until the next rain comes, the rig is shiny enough to see your reflection in it!  It looks brand new, and I think the boys were happy as clams to have earned $150 to split.  It was worth every penny to me.  Good news for sure.

I also got another call this morning from my youngest son, Andy.  He and the grandboys had been disappointed too that they wouldn’t be able to visit.  After thinking about it overnight, he asked if it would be all right to drive up tomorrow and stay for two nights before beginning his new job.  You know my answer!

So I’ll be adjusting my work schedule for their visit.  Made a mad dash to the store this morning to stock up on hotdogs and other things that young boys like to eat.  Little Ruby won’t be making the trip with them, but I’m thinking Joseph and Seth are going to be excited to catch some fish.

IMG_8144

Now I’ll have some more youngsters to help me count the swans.  They seem to be coming back to the point on Flat Lake.

IMG_8147

There were thirty some of them out there tonight when Emma and I made our drive by.  For you long time readers, it seems that Not So Flat Joey will be going with me to Flat Lake.  Winking smile

IMG_8163

And just maybe this doe will make another appearance as we drive along.  If good things like bad things come in threes, I wonder what the other good news will be…

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Ordinary days

The weather was quite nice on Friday and Saturday as I worked the VC.  Not much exciting to report about those two days.  Saturday afternoon, I got a call at the VC from Bridget asking if I’d like to join her and John for a cookout after I got off of work.  Easy answer there… you betcha!  They had picked up some pineapple brats at a meat market in Frazee, and they wanted to compare them to the great pineapple brats they get near Branson, MO.  Turned out that they were nothing special, but who can pass up a chance not to cook after a hard (?) day at work?

Sunday is usually my day to do laundry since I don’t have to work.  I like to hang my wash out on the line to dry.  Not only for the fresh air smell, but it’s quicker than drying stuff in the Splendide washer/dryer.  Of course, since it was a day off, it rained off and on all day.  That made it a challenge to dry the clothes.  _MG_0594

                                                                            False Sunflower

While sitting outside with Emma this evening in between the showers, I thought I’d get some pics of the flowers blooming in my front yard.  Nothing else seemed to be going on.

_MG_0574 _MG_0588

                                                                  Common Tansy

I remembered these button-like blooms from last year.  It turns out they are an invasive species from Europe.  I do know that one of the biologists here spends a lot of time each year mowing them down before they seed to try to control their numbers on the refuge. 

_MG_0582 IMG_8121

                                      Bull Thistle

According to my ‘Wildflowers of Minnesota’ book, the bull thistle seeds are a favorite food of American goldfinches.  Well, fancy that!  Right on cue, a male goldfinch showed up to dine for supper.  He eschewed the nearby Hard Rock Bird Café for more local cuisine. 

IMG_8122 IMG_8127

He went into some contortions to get just the right seed too.  I knew that goldfinches used thistledown to line their nests, but I’m thinking this guy was more interested in filling his belly than providing a soft place for his offspring.

I talked to both of my sons today, and it seems that Andy will not be able to bring the grandboys up for a weekend of camping and fishing.  I was looking forward to having them bustling about.  I’m a little bummed about that, but he’s starting a new pipeline job in a week, and won’t be able to get any time off.  Such is life.

Dan, on the other hand, wanted to know how the installation of my surround sound was going after he installed the new TV when he was here over the 4th of July.  Well, I’ve finally got all the wires and the receiver that are needed, but John Hatch and I have just not been able to get together to get everything installed yet.  I’ll have to work on that.  When John works, I have off, and when I work, he has off.  We’ll figure it out soon I hope.  He has the tools and know how, and I’ll just be a gopher.  Winking smile

Whenever I’m at a refuge for some time, I try to hire an intern to wash and wax my rig.  This time one of the YCC (Youth Conservation Corp) kids has told me he is willing to do it.  He’s supposed to show up tomorrow to begin the work.  I’ll see how that goes.  More ordinary days are in store.  Life goes on…

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The sponge candy saga

On my last post, several of you guessed that I had ordered a batch of sponge candy as a special birthday gift to myself.  I wish it were so.  I would be enjoying a delicious piece of that right now if it had worked out that way. 

Evening Primrose ?

Evening Primrose – Tonight’s pics are from yesterdays job of refilling kiosk pamphlets, picking trash, and checking trails on the refuge.

Last winter while I was volunteering at Anahuac NWR, I figured out that I could order sponge candy in my most favorite way, not chocolate covered, from The Vermont Country Store.  I could get three bags of it for about $20.  Since I only ate one piece a day, each order lasted me over a month. 

Wild Bergamot  (Bee Balm)

Wild Bergamot (Bee Balm)  - This flower is in the mint family, and its leaves are used for flavoring in Earl Grey Tea.

Just before I left Anahuac, I wanted to stock up for my journey to the north.  To my displeasure, The Vermont Country Store stopped stocking it.  Oh nuts!  Okay, I’d just wait until I got to Fargo to pick up a box of dark chocolate covered sponge candy at Carol Widman’s Candy Co. 

Fireweed

                          Fireweed – most often found in recently burned or disturbed soil areas.

After I got the rig set up at Tamarac NWR in May, one of my first trips was to Fargo, ND, to visit the Breadsmith Store and Carol Widman’s.  I got the bread that I wanted, but no sponge candy was available.

IMG_8076 IMG_8079Red-tailed Hawk posing, and then thinking better about it.  Going…

It seems that in the making of sponge candy, it can’t be done in humid weather or it flops.  Such was the case the last time Carol Widman’s tried to make it.  Crying face They would be waiting for lower humidity to make it again.

IMG_8080 IMG_8081

                                                          …going… gone!

I put in an order for two pounds whenever they could make it.  They thought surely that would happen before my next trip to Fargo on July 15.  Well we’ve had a lot of rain and humidity this year so that didn’t work out.  I’m still waiting for a call.  I hope the humidity goes down before I leave in September.IMG_8089

                                                  Sandhill Cranes in the Chippewa prairie.

Far Side of Fifty suggested I try the Cuzzins Candy Store in Park Rapids for chocolate covered sponge candy.  I may just do that, but I wonder if they have it in dark chocolate; that’s what I prefer if it has to be covered in something.  I’m getting pretty picky in my old age.  Sarcastic smile

So I’m sure you’ve gathered by now that I didn’t receive an order of sponge candy for my birthday.  Instead, I ordered this:

_MG_0571

                                                                           An Apple iPod!

That’s a pretty drastic move for me, and it’s proving to be quite a learning curve.  I haven’t gotten around to syncing in the magnetic Bluetooth keyboard yet.  It was a big enough challenge for me to just set the thing up last night so I could begin to figure out how to use it.  I’m pretty happy that I was able to download two of my favorite word games so I can sneak in some play time during boring times in the VC.  It’s a lot easier to carry around than my backpack with the laptop in it.

I sure wish it came with a hard copy user’s manual.  I’d like to page through it while I’m trying to figure out how to use it.  Could it be that I’m finally getting out of the 90’s??

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Another year slips past

After escaping the clutches of Paul Bunyan on Sunday, yesterday was a day filled with chores.  I had several errands in Detroit Lakes, and in the afternoon my financial planner made a trip up to Tamarac to visit me at my rig.  I was surprised she wanted to drive all the way from Mankato, but it turned out she has a cabin in Alexandria which isn’t that far away.  Her biggest question was, “How much longer are you going to continue as a full-timer?”  As usual, I didn’t have an answer other than as long as I can.  I think such uncertainties bother financial planners.

This morning I had a call from daughter Robyn wishing me a happy birthday.  She asked if I was doing anything special for the day.  I told her that yes, I was.  I had to take Emma to the vet in Hawley for a heart worm test so I could get some more tablets for her.  She was not impressed.  Some days, that’s as exciting as it gets.

Emma got a clean bill of health, and that’s a pretty good birthday present in my mind.  The vet asked if I had any concerns about her.  Just one.  Will she ever calm down?  The vet thought she might by the time she turns 14!  Oh boy.  Seven more years to go.  I hope I last that long so I can see it.

IMG_0551

After they finished working today, John and Bridget came over bearing a gift.  I haven’t had a birthday cake baked for me in many years, and John was the one to do it!

_MG_0552

They know I like a glass of cream sherry in the evening, so he baked a pecan laden cream sherry bundt cake.  It was very moist and delicious.

_MG_0553

I brought out the vanilla ice cream, and we enjoyed this special treat out at the picnic table with the marsh in the background.  They had also sung happy birthday to me on their way to work this morning.  You sure couldn’t ask for nicer neighbors!  Thanks to both of you.

Another year has gone by, and I really don’t feel any older than I did yesterday.  However, I do have to admit that physically, I do feel older than I did when I began this full time journey.  Sometimes it isn’t easy growing old, but at least I’m still seeing the grass from the right side.  Tomorrow the item that I ordered for myself as a present is scheduled to be delivered.  Care to guess what it is?

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Sunday, July 20, 2014

He had me right in the palm of his hand

It hasn’t been what you would call an exciting week around here.  Other than the blonde turkey, it’s been pretty mundane.  After mowing on Thursday, I worked the VC on Friday and Saturday. 

_MG_0537

Had to resort to taking some pics of wildflowers in the newly seeded prairie area outside of the VC.  Haven’t even been ambitious enough to figure out what they are.

_MG_0543

                                            I thought this grass had some interesting seed heads.

_MG_0546

After two slow days in the VC, I was more than ready to have today off.  I decided to take a little road trip just to change things up a bit.

IMG_0549

I took the Lake Country Scenic Byway from the refuge to Walker, MN, with stops in Nevis and Akeley.  None of these towns are what you might consider booming metropolises.  First stop was Nevis.

_MG_0515 _MG_0514

This is a town with a population of a little over 400, but who wouldn’t want to stop to see the Worlds Largest Tiger Muskie?  Winking smile  Apparently, too many visitors wanted their picture taken with their head inside the muskies mouth, so now there’s a ‘KEEP OUT’ sign there.  There were no signs indicating where I might find this behemoth, so I just drove around the few streets until I found it.  I knew from the Roadside America site, that it was on County Road 2 somewhere.

After that thrill, I made my way to Akeley, but couldn’t find what I was looking for there.  I found the Wood Tick Theater (not sure I’d want to sit inside for a play),  but according to my map the roadside gem I was looking for was a little further down the road.  I struck out, so continued on to Walker.

County Highway 34 is a two lane road running east to west/west to east.  I couldn’t believe the traffic for a Sunday morning.  It seemed like I passed a thousand trailers, 5th wheels, and motorhomes going the opposite direction as I headed for Walker.  That town has a population of 900 something, but has at least three stoplights and traffic was backed up for miles.  It’s right on the edge of Leech Lake, and I’d guess half the population to the Twin Cities (Minneapolis/St. Paul) was exiting after a weekend up north.

That’s where I turned around to head back for home.  I didn’t stop there since visiting all the tourist shops on the main street is not my thing.  It seemed they were doing a booming business though.

_MG_0518

On my way back through Akeley, I found what I missed earlier on the way through.  How could I not have seen this giant Paul Bunyan on the side of the road?  Akeley claims to be the birthplace of Paul Bunyan, not Bemidji. If you look closely, you can see Paul’s baby cradle next to him.

_MG_0521

After I stopped to get a photo, several more cars stopped too.  I asked one of the other visitors to take my picture in Paul’s hand so you can get an idea of his size.  I get a kick out of finding these roadside oddities along my travels.  I hope my brother shares the same passion as we make our way from Minnesota to Arizona this fall.  There must be a lot of Worlds Largest things along the way.

Sorry to say, I had to leave Paul behind and head back to the rig.  I really liked his big blue eyes…

_MG_0523

…but then I never was a fan of facial hair.  Disappointed smile

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy