Sunday, May 18, 2014

Visitors and garage sales

A few days ago I was looking out at our bird feeder at our various grosbeaks and sparrows when something I had never seen landed. It was blue. Bluebird? Indigo bunting? I get to see those rarely, but this was different. Stitch got out the nearest bird book and found it right away. It was a blue grosbeak.

Normally they would stay about a thousand miles south of us by St. Louis, but they do nest in South Dakota which is only about half that distance as the grosbeak flies. Like our former beloved wrestling governor, Jesse "The Body" Ventura said when asked if he was worried that Minnesota businesses might move to South Dakota because of lower business taxes, "Nah, 'cause then they'd have to live in South Dakota." He was right, but apparently it's okay for the grosbeaks.

Another sure sign of spring was the opening of our local Garage Sale Season on Saturday. While many of us were observing Syttende Mai (Norwegian Constitution Day) here in the Midwest we were also celebrating the fact that it is now warm enough to venture out to the neighbors in only a couple of layers of protective clothing. Also, as of Saturday, most of the inland lakes were declared ice free so people could go fishing without an ice chisel or auger! I noticed today when I was repairing fences that there is still a bit of snow in the woods, but I digress. Our community garage sale was at our community center in town where anyone could have a table or two and display whatever stuff they had that someone else might want. I suspect that a lot of the same stuff gets passed around every year or two as people decide they really didn't need that thing they picked up for a song at the previous sale. I usually play it pretty conservatively and don't buy much unless I really need it or think I can flip it for a little profit. This year's opening pièce de résistance was a WW2 cold weather flight suit pants in leather and fleece.
The really cool thing is, it fits! I was tempted to show the girls by wearing only these pants, but I am sure the screams would have frightened the neighbors. I could have left the full-length side zippers open for a real show, but then I would have to charge admission. I have since listed these on eBay to try and turn a small profit to "invest" in my partscaster. Since the wife and I split the original price of $20 and after eBay fees I might get lucky enough to buy a few strings for my half of the investment. Don't worry, I won't quit my day job. As Professor Batty mentioned last week, I have GAS. Gear Acquisition  Syndrome. It applies to photography equipment and guitar related things, but I have yet to admit I have a problem. Yes, I know there is a twelve step program to help, but I DON'T HAVE A PROBLEM! Okay?   

Sunday, May 11, 2014


As long as we don't slip in to a nuclear winter or have some major planetary volcanic event it looks like spring is finally here! I have been holed-up long enough and needed to get out and seriously try the bionic knee I got last November. And it really works! I went out for a walk and sneeked up on this doe.
Even though I didn't mean her any harm she didn't want to be disturbed while nibbling at the fresh green stubble starting to show itself. Once she realized someone was looking at her she decided to leave. In a hurry.
I guess it's for the best. There were a couple of them in the front yard when I went out this morning to look at the sunrise. They weren't too alarmed, but after a few moments they decided to mosey on. I could take some time and get them to relax around me and maybe hand feed them. Unfortunately, come fall, they would probably walk up to the first hunter they saw and ask for a handout. The results would be fatal and I would feel bad having caused it. On the other hand they are tasty.

Yesterday was the opening of the spring fishing season in Minnesota. Down in central Minnesota, places like Duluth and Grand Rapids, had open water on their lakes just in time. Up here they are still ice covered. Even our upper pond still had ice on it and it usually goes out about a week before the lakes.
Woke up this mornin'
Grabbed myself a cup
Brewed up some coffee
Went outside and looked up

And this is what I saw:

It was just before sunrise and the clouds were rolling in. After I fed the horses and let the chickens out it rained just a little. It cleared off now to mostly blue sky, but there is always something to do around here and it's not always chores or maintenance related. Sometimes I have fun projects. I am putting together a "partscaster" to replace the Stevie Ray Vaughan Stratocaster I sold last year. I still need to raise some more funds for the electronics parts, but here is what I have put together so far.
A 2003 body, a 1993 neck, and various hardware. As soon as people buy some of the stuff I have for sale I should have enough to finish it. Wish me luck!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Da blooz

Woke up this mornin'
Took a look outside
Was that frost I saw?
Thought I'd stay in and hide

The dog is tellin' me
She has to go
We went out the door and found
We'd been dusted with snow!

Got those late springtime blues again, mama 
Nothin' I can do
I'll just dream of summer
And have a beer or two

Of course the other way to start a blues tune is "I've got a woman," but since the Cooker sometimes reads this I'm not going to go there. Mama didn't raise no fool!

This was taken last weekend. The good news is most of the snow in the open areas is gone, but there is still plenty in the woods. Minnesota fishing opener is next weekend and the fear is that most of the lakes in the Arrowhead region (where we live) will still be ice covered. I don't fish much anymore, but in this part of the country it is considered to be one of the higher intellectual pursuits.

Migratory birds are starting to look for nesting material and they find it here on the farm. You might remember the ravens grabbing beaks full of horse hair from Vedas. Now the smaller birds are at it. I think these are cowbirds that don't know the difference between a cow and a horse.

Click on the pic for a better look.

Imminent signs happen every day. Raccoons have been caught at the bird feeder during the dark hours and now the striped rats (chipmunks) have come out of hibernation.

Even the Big Lake has lost its ice in these parts. Down by Duluth, however, it has been piling up and the cargo ships and ore freighters have been going with a coast guard escort in order to make it to the locks at Sault Ste. Marie. Usually they are just referred to as the Soo Locks, but they have been a real bottleneck since the shipping season started this "spring". 

Yesterday I stopped by the harbor on my way to work. Yes, I have to work an occasional Saturday. I missed the more colorful part, but managed to get a few shots of the rainbow (not a snowbow this time) over Grand Marais and its harbor. There is still a chunk of ice in the foreground, but you can see that the rest is actual water! I'll bet the folks in the U.S. southwest would love to see this much fresh water. Their drought is getting pretty severe.

We are well into mud season and soon things will be greening up. At least by next month, anyway. Time to go outside and watch the spring slowly creep in. The sound of rushing water from the snow melt is like music, especially when the birds add their songs. A natural cacophony of orchestral proportions. It even makes this grumpy old fart smile a little.