Borrego Springs, CA

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The battle of the sheets

Before I talk about the neat things I saw today, I want to vent a bit about my personal battle with bed sheets.  Changing the sheets on a queen sized bed has always been a struggle for me, but the skinny passageway around my bed in the rig enhances the battle.  I’ve generally had to be frugal in my life, and sometimes that has been my downfall.  I’ve always purchased on sale sheets in the twenty to thirty dollar range.  I choose only those sheets with deep pockets since I have a foam topper on my mattress.  Well, deep pockets in a cheap set of sheets doesn’t really mean deep in my opinion, hence the battle to stretch them to fit.

A couple of years ago, a friend of mine suggested I buy a set of sheets that were more than 500 count threading (whatever that means).  So I did, and paid somewhere around $100 for them.  They turned out to have sufficiently deep pockets and were very silky to sleep on.  I’ve had my cheap sheets for over seven years.  Then the other night as I was asleep and rolling over, I heard a loud rrrrip!!  My foot had gone through the bottom sheet.  It wasn’t a huge tear, so I tried to ignore it.  Then last night my foot got stuck in the tear, got entangled in some threads, and was a bear to extract. 

So today, I put the other sheets on, and the battle returned.  With fitted bottom sheets I know you’re supposed to pick a corner to put on and then put on the corner diagonal from it.  Why is it I always pick the wrong first corner, get to the diagonal, and figure out I have to rotate the sheet around?  I didn’t have that problem with the expensive sheets because it was more obvious which way the sheet was supposed to go.  I finally got it done, but it took me over a half hour to make the dang bed.  So now my dilemma is, do I buy another set of expensive sheets that don’t last very long, or go with a set of cheap sheets and continue the battle?  This is probably more than anyone ever wanted to read about bed sheets, but that’s how it is while I wait for the fridge to get fixed.


Maybe some of you remember when I took this picture of one of the ponds on the refuge back in early August.


Well this is what it looks like six weeks later.  The grasses have done their thing, and the deciduous trees are starting to come into color.

Co. Rd 26

I headed out this morning for Detroit Lakes for a couple of errands, but took some time on the refuge first to enjoy the blue skies and colorful foliage.  I started out driving along county road 26 that bisects the refuge.  The speed limit is 40 mph, but I drove much slower to soak up the beauty.  Yesterday’s rain meant that the gravel road wasn’t dusty at all.


       As I got to the Chippewa Picnic Area, I stopped to have a look at the waterfowl in the Otter Tail River.


                            Among the Canada geese was an adult trumpeter swan with its two young.


                    Being inquisitive youngsters, they made their way toward me to see what was up.


They only approached so far, and mom was starting to get a little nervous in the background so I moved on.

My main reason for going to Detroit Lakes was to purchase some more bird seed since I’ll be here at least another week or so.  The little birds had been letting my know their displeasure with the empty bird feeders.  Embarrassed smile  After that, and picking up some ice, you know I had to stop at Mr. Smith’s for some more home grown tomatoes.  Last week I had stopped along the way to Fargo at a vegetable stand, but their tomatoes just can’t compare in taste with Mr. Smith’s.  As usual, he was shirtless and wearing the same velour sweatpants and Crocs.  I was in long pants with a sweatshirt on.  Makes me wonder if he ever changes his clothes.  Disappointed smile  Maybe he puts on socks for winter…

Pine Lake

I liked this view of Pine Lake this morning.  While I was out and about, I got to thinking what I would do if I was incredibly rich.  I decided I’d probably continue to volunteer at National Wildlife Refuges, but I’d hire someone to drive my rig and change my sheets!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Still here at Tamarac

What a dreary day today was.  It started raining last night and didn’t stop until late this afternoon.  Ugh! 


This was the view out my table window most of the day.  The wind was whipping around too, so I hope all the leaves aren’t blown off of the trees.


Yesterday while Emma was outside, she started barking in a most unusual way.  I hopped outside to find this big salamander trying to cross the patio.  Emma didn’t harm it, but really didn’t know what to do about it.  It eventually made its way across the patio and under the rig.

As for the refrigerator, I’m going to be here for a while longer.  I really don’t want to go into all of the details, but the first available date for someone to come out and fix it is October 7.  I’ve decided to sit and wait instead of trying to travel somewhere else and wait there.  I have the fridge and freezer up in the bunkhouse to use here in the meantime, and the staff will help me get the thing out of where it is installed and onto my floor so the repair person can work on it easily.  I think it is the best decision for me.


So, I’ve got several days before the repair person arrives, and I’m feeling that parts will probably need to be ordered before I can leave.  I’ll probably be late to my next assignment in Louisiana, but that’s the way it goes.  Sometimes life gets in the way of the best plans.


The sun finally returned about five this afternoon, so Emma and I made a quick run up the hill to take a look at Flat Lake.  Not as many swans were around as usual, but the pair of bald eagles was there along with about 20 ring-billed gulls.  With the passing of the front, I’m thinking temps will be dipping a bit tonight. 

It’s supposed to be sunny tomorrow, so I’m hoping to get some nice views of the fall colors on the refuge while I’m making my trip to buy more ice.  According to the news, colors are about 75% peak right now.  That’s the positive thing about this delay.  I’ll get to see the peak colors up here.  There’s also the Tamarac Fall Festival next weekend that I’ll be able to help out with.


                                                                              THE END!!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Last workday this season

I finished the last day of my commitment to Tamarac NWR today, and said, “I quit!” on my way out of the office this afternoon.  I have enjoyed my time here, but I’m ready for a little vacation.  Of course, I’m returning next year, so you know I must have liked it here.


That being said, I’m not leaving here in the morning.  Let’s just say that the fridge hasn’t been fixed yet.  I really don’t want to go into that tonight.  So I’ll just show you some pictures I took yesterday as I worked on an assignment to gather ‘treasures’ that might be found along the trails by kindergartners later this week.

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The milkweed pods are sending out their seeds for next year, so I thought collecting some of these pods would work with the little ones to compare soft to hard.  When I was little, my mother always called these seeds that blew around on the winds ‘money stealers’.  Don’t know where that came from, but that’s what I’ve always called them too.  With the expenses I’ve had this summer, I guess they’ll leave me alone.  Winking smile


I found other treasures along the way, but some of them I couldn’t collect.  After our rains last week, mushrooms are popping up all over.


I decided yesterday to just use my little Canon Power Shot X280.  I’m not totally comfortable with it, and will probably always prefer my Canon Rebel DSLR’s, but I was pretty happy with the results.

IMG_0305It’s just on the edge of prime leaf peeper season here, and the sumac was just brilliant yesterday.  With my repair delay, I just might be here through the prime time for fall colors.  I’m thankful that the refuge is allowing me to stay as long as necessary to get things taken care of.  I’m trying to go out each day to notice the changes and sooth my anxieties.


While Emma and I took a stroll through the woods in the afternoon, we encountered some interesting shelf fungi.  Tomorrow’s another day, and I hope to make some progress towards my departure.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Monday, September 23, 2013

I’m getting over the shock

I have to tell you that the fridge breaking down again really threw me for a loop.  I didn’t sleep well last night, and I woke up with a lot of anxiety and thoughts streaming through my head over this.  Things like worst case scenarios, finances, when can I leave here, etc., etc.…

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Attending the staff meeting first thing this morning didn’t help one bit as there was talk of things that needed to be accomplished before freeze up. Disappointed smile  That made my nervous stomach do a loop-de-loop.  I busied myself with refilling all of the kiosks with pamphlets and other things on a list I’d been given for chores this week.  It helped some to be busy, but not enough.

IMG_0266My state of mind improved some in the afternoon.  As I was going to the maintenance shop to do some more laminating, John and Bridget (who visited me on Saturday) were outside on the ramp talking to Janice about volunteering here next summer.  That would be nice.  When I finished the laminating, all four of us were chatting, and John volunteered to take a look at my fridge.  He is a man of many talents.

His diagnosis was that he thought the compressor had died, and he thought it could be replaced through the outside access so I wouldn’t have to round up some help to take the fridge out of the cabinet area it is ensconced in.  I sure hope he is right, as this means there is a real possibility that it could be fixed here.

Of course, I didn’t get a call from any repair place today, but I’m hopeful for tomorrow.  John really helped relieve a lot of my anxiety.  I think I’ll be able to sleep tonight.  One of the disadvantages of travelling solo is that you don’t have anyone to share your fears and anxieties with.  Sad smile

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After making my 20 mile round trip run for bags of ice, Emma and I sat outside this evening.  I’d been too upset during the day to take any photos, so as I relaxed I found tonight’s pics in my yard outside the rig.  Since last week’s rains, all sorts of mushrooms are popping up, and there are some small wildflowers giving their last hurrah before colder weather sets in. 

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I’ll leave you tonight with a couple of shots of Emma on squirrel watch duty.  See how her ears are standing up?  It’s been very windy around here the last two days with gusts up to 45 mph.  It blows her ears straight up on edge.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Here we go again

Remember last night when I mentioned I was a little nervous about the ice maker in the fridge?  Well, my worst fears came true last night.  Not only was the fridge not making ice, but the temps were creeping upwards.  Along about 10:00 pm, I emptied most of the food from the freezer that I had been stockpiling for my journey and took them up to the bunkhouse freezer section of that refrigerator.  I’m sure glad I did.  By this morning the freezer was at 50* and the fridge part was at 70*.

I’ll be doing battle with Samsung once again.  It is almost two years ago that the same thing happened to me while I was traveling.  At least this time, I’m at a place where I could move my freezer contents to a safe place. 

I called Samsung this morning, and they are supposedly finding someone to repair it.  Of course it will take up to 2 days for them to get a hold of me to set up an appointment.  If I receive no contact, I’m to call Samsung back.  I don’t have a very good feeling about this in the pit of my stomach.  I’m not exactly close to a metropolitan area.

I reread all of my blog posts from two years ago to refresh my memory on what happened last time with the same situation.  I would just like to say that this sucks!  In the meantime, I’m once again using my bottom freezer area as a cooler.  I’ll be making trips to town each day to buy ice. 

I really doubt I’ll be able to leave by Thursday, and that makes me feel bad.  My plans included stopping at Sam and Donna’s place near St. Louis to visit for a few days, and Donna has already arranged some time off from work.  Last time, no one would consider fixing the fridge, and I had to hot foot it to my favorite repair place in Scott, LA, for a replacement.  I can’t believe I got two lemons in a row!

I sure hope ‘Minnesota Nice’ means someone will fix my refrigerator…

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Yahoo! The sun returned.

There was fog when I woke up this morning, but the power of the sun with no clouds in the sky soon burned it off.  Hot dog!  I hung out a load of laundry, and then got ready to greet my morning visitors.


Bridget and John of Travels of John and Bridget….and Fred, finished their camp host volunteer assignment in North Dakota and stopped by for a visit while spending some time in Detroit Lakes.  What a beautiful morning we had for a tour of the refuge.


My friend, the young bald eagle, was perched as if on cue by the Chippewa Picnic Area.  I parked the refuge truck, and we were able to walk right under its favorite perch without it spooking off.  It only screamed at us a few times.  We even witnessed a small kettle of northern harriers catching a thermal to spiral up over the Otter Tail River so they could attain altitude to continue their migration south. 

IMG_9458It was a stellar morning to be out and about.  We could hear the far off guns of the waterfowl hunters, but we stayed in areas that were closed to hunting.  The trees are just beginning to turn their fall colors, the Chippewa rice harvest is over, and it just felt good to enjoy the scenes without overcast skies and sprinkles.


I was hoping to see the brilliant reds and oranges of fall leaves before I headed south, but I’m not sure that will happen in the next several days.  I’m scheduled to pull out on Thursday, but tonight I’m a little nervous about my refrigerator.  Even though the freezer says it’s –2*, it doesn’t seem that cold to me, and I’ve suddenly been having trouble with the ice maker.  It’s reminding me of the troubles I had in 2011. 


During out tour, I spotted this caterpillar.  Isn’t this the one that predicts how long the winter is going to be?   I think the size and place of the brown is supposed to tell the length and severity of the winter, but I just can’t remember.  Can anybody help me with this?

I did want to announce that there was a winner to last night’s little bird identification contest.  While three people came close to identifying the ten species, one person got them all correct.  That person is Brigitta!  She got all ten species correct by guessing white-throated sparrow, ruffed grouse, black-billed cuckoo, brown thrasher, indigo bunting, rose-breasted grosbeak, golden-winged warbler, woodcock, veery, and mourning warbler.  I think Brigitta writes a wonderful blog, but viewing it is by invitation only.  I’ll be getting in contact with her about the little prize.

Tomorrow, I’ll be checking to see how my freezer is doing, and continuing to get ready for departure.  I sure did have a nice visit with John and Bridget, and they are thinking about volunteering here at Tamarac next summer.  Perhaps we’ll meet again?


                                                                               THE END!!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Friday, September 20, 2013

Are you ready for a little contest?

I had my scissors ready for cutting this morning as I headed for work.  Last Monday, during the rain, I spent the morning finding good pictures on the internet of 10 different bird species.  The Tamarac Fall Festival will be happening about a week after I leave here, but one of the activities for visitors will be to learn to identify these ten species.  After Janice, the volunteer coordinator, printed my found pictures off, it was my job today to cut all their silhouettes out and then laminate them.  They’ll be posted in trees and grasses at the festival site.  Visitors will be given a pair of binoculars and asked to find these breeding birds of Tamarac at one of the activity stations.


After I got them all cut out, Janice gave me a run through on how to operate this large laminator.  Most of the laminators I’ve used at other refuges have been little desk top models that are quite easy to use.


One of the challenges of using this bigger model is its location.  Since the normal office and visitors center has been closed for a year, all of the equipment is crammed into the maintenance buildings.  I won’t go into all the details of operating this thing, but just let me say it was interesting for a vertically challenged individual.


Janice got the first batch going, and it really took two of us to manage it in a timely manner since it was too high off of the ground, and you couldn’t get behind it to keep the laminate taut as the pictures rolled out.

After lunch, I spent some time trimming all of those birds so they could be used individually.  Not very exciting, but it was something to do on another dismal rainy day.


                                                      Here’s half of what I ended up with. 


              And here’s the other half.  (You can ignore that dark chocolate Milky Way on the right Surprised smile)

There are some duplicates, but all in all there are ten species of birds displayed.  So, here’s the little contest.  Can you identify what ten species are represented?  They are all birds that breed on the refuge in the summer, and there aren’t any exotic birds in their midst.  I even have a small prize in mind for the person that can name the most amount of species correctly. 

I know most of you aren’t bird nerds, but if you have a bird guide it shouldn’t be too difficult.  You also have to understand that after seven days of rain, fog, and dreariness, I’m getting a little desperate for blog topics.  Here’s a hint to get you started: the bird in the top center of the first pic is a black-billed cuckoo.

Tomorrow, some fellow bloggers will stop by for a visit, and if the drizzles ever stop I’m hoping to dry my outside rug and pack it away.  Slowly but surely I’m getting things packed up for my departure.

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

Thursday, September 19, 2013

This and that

I was off early this morning to get the new tires on the toad.  I only had to wait about an hour or so, and I was back in business.


One of the forecasts I read said it would be bright and sunny today.  So much for the weather guessers.  This is Balsam Lake that is a pretty good size, and you can normally see the treed far shore.  I took care of several other chores in town, and then headed back home.


By the time I got back, it was noon and those sunny skies surely hadn’t shown up yet.  Believe it or not, there are five trumpeter swans and a couple of ducks on this pond.  They’re hard to see, but they’re there just right of center.


Can you see the visitors center and headquarters through the fog where I was watering the sod last weekend?  I kind of enjoyed this softer view of the refuge.

About a week ago, while I was out checking signs for painting, I came upon some trash at one of the boat launches.  It seems some boaters left a six pack of glass bottles of Miller Lite Beer behind.  Three were empty, one was half full, and two were unopened.  It made me think of Sam Weibel when I saw it.  Winking smile  I don’t drink beer, but I do use it occasionally for beer battered shrimp.  I don’t know of any place where you can just buy one can/bottle of beer, so I put those unopened bottles in my fridge.


Yesterday, I decided to fix some shrimp, but wasn’t interested in having them in batter.  I just wanted cold cooked shrimp to be dipped in my homemade cocktail sauce that leans heavily on Hellman’s Mayo, a squirt of ketchup, and a scoop of horseradish.  A cookbook I have from the Mississippi Gulf Coast suggests boiling the shrimp briefly in beer for added zest, so I used up one of those bottles of beer.  The shrimp were delicious, but I sure didn’t taste any difference over using boiling water.


I got an email today from my son, Dan, telling me I hadn’t made my picks yet for this week’s football games.  He’s the one that talked me into joining a fantasy football pool.  I’m not doing very well, but that’s to be expected since I don’t follow football.  It does give us something to chat about weekly though, so it’s worth it to me.  Anyway, that email surprised me since I made my picks yesterday while chatting on the phone with him.  I needed some clarification of the statistics that were showing up on my pick list.  He didn’t know where I was getting these statistics from, since they didn’t show up on his pick list. 

After his email warning, I decided to check it out.  It seems I was making picks on the CBS network as opposed to our football pool, and was competing against four of the top football announcers and analysts.  Ha!  What a hoot!  I hadn’t made any picks in that pool the first two weeks, so I am in 71,400th place.  I don’t know how I ended up in that guessing game.  I finally got back to the right fantasy pool, after writing down my picks from all the ‘analyzing’ I had done.  Open-mouthed smile  I’ll see how that goes.  I’d just like to beat him one week, but I doubt that will happen.

Tomorrow, I’m slated to be the ‘Laminating Queen’ on the refuge after cutting out pictures of birds with a scissors.  Now there’s something to look forward to!

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy