Sunday, December 4, 2016


I'm need a break. Not just from blogging, but from a lot of things. I'll still get a chance to read yours, but I need to refresh my mind. I am aware that this is a difficult time of year for many people other than myself and we all have our reasons. I may need just a few weeks or maybe a little more, but I will be back. After the solstice my attitude will brighten, the days will lengthen, and I will no longer let the bastards get me down.

Thursday, November 24, 2016


Winter has finally come to the North Country. Not to be confused with the country north of here which would be Canada. For the United States (as long as they're still united) we are the northern edge and a lot of Canada actually lies south of us.

The transition to winter was quite abrupt this year occurring in less than two weeks. We had a windy day on the lake, but the day after was still good enough to get some pictures. When the skies clear, the temperature drops, and the dusk can get kind of pretty. Click on the pics to embiggen.

Even after the sun went down there were still some waves rolling in. There were quite a few photographers and people wandering around, but being that it is off-season for tourists, most of them were locals. The colors get more intense this time of year.

Then it was the Supermoon rising in the east. At this time of year it is also called Hunter's moon, Frosty moon, or Full Beaver moon (I know what you're thinking!). It was big and bright and I am sure you saw many pictures of it.  This is one shot from across the harbor and over Coast Guard Point.
This is also the time of year when shipping tends to stay closer to shore in order to avoid the heavier winds out on the lake. I am not sure, but this looks like the Indiana Harbor, which is a thousand footer with a 105 foot beam. Sometimes I can identify them by their profile.
Then we had a howling blizzard last Friday night and had to play at  the Winterer's Gathering dance at North House Folk School. Travel wasn't recommended, but about fifty people showed up. Last year it was about 200. Winds were gusting to 50mph and the temperature was around freezing, so the precipitation varied from snow to freezing rain and back again. It added a challenge to the evening. It snowed again yesterday and added a little more and made driving more exciting than most would prefer. It looks kind of pretty this morning here on the farm.
It is definitely winter now and will be for the next few months.

People have their favorite music for the holidays and my favorite for this one is Alice's Restaurant. It is about 18 minutes long, but tells a great story. At about the same time this came out I started driving and turning into a grownup. I'm almost one now. Maybe just a few more years.

Happy Thanksgiving to us here in the United States!

Saturday, November 12, 2016


So now we have a new President-elect in this country. Half of the voters chose a man who, by his own words and actions has marginalized a large part of the population of this country. Muslims, refugees, immigrants, LGBT people, people of color - anything other than white - the disabled, women of all types and in so many ways from health care to their appearance, and who knows how many others. I can't remember them all as there have been so many.

I get that there may be other reasons, like Mr. T (no disparagement to the REAL Mr. T*) isn't a Washington insider, but then most of the incumbents (Washington insiders) were put back into office. What's with that? I also get that Hillary has a lot of baggage and may not be seen to be a suitable president, but she knows how things work, or don't, in the political landscape. She knows when to keep her mouth shut and her temper under control where the president-elect is often out of control and reacts like a thirteen year old bully. That will not bode well in the international scope of the world. Don't forget that the rest of the world knows a lot more about us than we know about them.

The president-elect promised to rescind the ACA (Obamacare) in it's entirety last week and take millions of people back out of the rather lame health care system that we have. This week he is backtracking on that. We'll have to wait and see what his base thinks of that broken promise.

By the way, I know he is not technically the president-elect until the Electoral College votes, but it is easier than calling him by name, so it will have to do for now. I will not forget that he insisted that the current president was not born in the United States and maintained that for years until very recently when he denied ever saying it.

The evangelical support he got makes me rethink what a Christian is supposed to be. Certainly not the loving and caring follower of Jesus who said something like, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," at his sermon on the mount. That must mean something else to his Christian supporters.

I guess the point of all this is that a KKK supported, fear-mongering, misogynistic, homophobic, xenophobic, racist, got elected by the voters to be the next president of the United States. I am not okay with that now nor will I be in the future. I am glad that at least half the voters did not vote for him and I will not support him nor the people that are his base. I will do everything I can to be sure something like this doesn't happen again and help folks to see the error of their ways.

For all those disenfranchised and marginalized Americans and residents in this country I am wearing and will continue to wear a safety pin so they know they are safe around me and know that they are not alone.

* P.S. I did not mean to insult this man by using the name Mr. T which rightfully belongs to him.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Mule on the Hill

Day after day alone on the hill
The ass with the foolish grin
Is keeping perfectly still
But nobody wants to know him
They can see that he's just a fool
And he never seem to notice
But the mule on the hill
Sees the sun going down
And the eyes in his head
See the world spinning round
Well on the way, his head in a cloud
The ass of a thousand voices
Is talking perfectly loud
But nobody ever hears him
Or the sound he appears to make
And he never seems to notice
But the mule on the hill
Sees the sun going down
And the eyes in his head
See the world spinning round

Oh, round, round, round, round, round
And nobody seems to like him
They can tell what he wants to do
And he never shows his feelings
But the mule on the hill
Sees the sun going down
And the eyes in his head
See the world spinning round
Thank you Beatles

I've looked at clouds...

Sorry for the absence, but the Fall Panic puts me in a panic. Lots to do around the farm to get ready for winter, but we have had very warm and relatively dry (for the first time since the snow melted) weather.

 I also started a pottery class. It was something I did back in college for a few years and became nearly competent at doing. I had wanted to get back to it on several occasions, but life got in the way. There are only so many years you get with a life and when the opportunity came up again I decided to take it. Some of the techniques are still there in my memory, but most of the subtleties are having to be relearned. We have class once a week, but have been given 24 hour access to the studio. I have very little opportunity to take advantage of that which is a bit frustrating, but I do the best I can. The instructor is a wonderful woman I have known of for a long time, but never got to meet.

Any break from our never-ending election cycle is very welcome. We vote by mail in this county, so I already sent in my ballot. Most of you who follow me know that I did NOT vote for Orange Cosby (aka Donald Trump). If everything goes wrong on Tuesday there is a good possibility I will move to a place where I can eat Tim Horton donuts every day and do much of my shopping at Canadian Tire.

Speaking of Canada, remember that colorful Maple tree in my back yard? It changed.
It has been a good year for the Mountain Ash trees and their berry crop. The waxwings and other winter resident birds will have a good winter.
The tourists have thinned out considerably and we have our little village back to ourselves. This shot is from right before the leaves dropped.
The clouds and sunsets have been lovely to watch as the season changes. The weather patterns move into their short day and long light pattern and are quite striking. Sometimes I just want to lie on the ground and look up for hours. Just lay back and daydream about all the possibilities of life on this planet.

Here are some sunsets.

As always, click on the pic to embiggen.


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Fall Panic

It is still autumn, but there are signs of impending doom winter. The days grow short and I have to turn on lights to feed the horses. We have had our first frost and while it was several weeks later than "normal" it was having some effect on my little part of the world. When I looked out that morning I knew it was frosty because there are no less than 4 different colors of shingles on the run in shed on a
summer day. 
Another sure sign of fall is the return of Professor Batty and the Weaver to the North woods all the way from Flippist World Headquarters to the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. It was a fun visit as usual sharing a meal at Trail Center on the Gunflint Trail. This is getting to be one of the annual highlights of autumn. Pardon the blur, but low light, no flash, beer, and poor judgement are somewhat responsible. At least that's my story.
On the way back down the Trail we came upon a younger, maybe a thousand pounds or so, bull moose trotting along the road. At least he stayed on the other side of the road and made no attempt to attack the car. However, as a result of this chance encounter I kept a death grip on the steering wheel, slowed down a bit, and my vision miraculously improved for the remainder of the drive home. It was a dark and cloudy night.

Despite the frost and the wind and rain there are still some bright colors to be seen. Here are a few around the house.

Last weekend was another nice one with a bit of a chill in the air. A couple of friends came over and we all decided to go for a walk in the woods and take a look for mushrooms. It has been a wet year and the tasty ones have kept us in fungus for most of the warm months. We brought books, baskets, and bags to look, gather, and study our discoveries.

We didn't have to go far to find an abundance of 'shrooms of various colors, sizes, and shapes. I think we identified about half of them, but there are always lingering doubts. We have a strong tendency to be careful as we are all too young to die from a mistake caused by ignorance.
The squash harvest was also pretty good with some rather large samples. We have already started to eat some and give some away. Some are fairly huge so to judge the size you should know that the table is three feet wide.
We'll be eating well this winter.

No snow at the farm yet, but a few miles inland and farther from Lake Superior they have had a little. It won't be long now before it's time to get out the snowshoes, skis, shovels, and make sure the tractor is ready to dig us out.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Beautiful Days

Still in autumn mode here, but at least the weather is nice enough to get out for a walk. We have had several lovely days in a row which has been unusual this year, but things are still soft and squishy as if rain had just fallen. It is still quite lush, but the greenery is still pretty green and the colory is still pretty colorful.

The interesting thing is that here on the farm we are coming into peak color. A half a mile farther inland is already past peak. I went past our apple tree and picked the last three on there. Seems like the woodland creatures have beaten me to it again. Maybe next year.                                             

We took a drive a little while ago looking for the last rich colors. Four of us stuffed in the Subaru.
There was also a little hunting for mushrooms, but when we looked up there were nice things to see. We stopped at a nearby lake.
There was still some color in the maples and there were others out looking and playing with their dogs. I saw a few people I knew out looking at the same stuff, but we were all enjoying a beautiful day in the North Woods.

As always, click on the pic to embiggen.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Bumpkin goes to the Big City

Earlier this week I had to go to Duluth for some medical checks and follow ups. All is well in that department, but there were so many things to do I had to stay overnight. Between appointments, including one for the car, I had a  little time to enjoy the nicer parts of the city. I stayed on the Duluth side of the mini metro area which also includes Superior (or "Soup Town"), Wisconsin.

After my Monday morning appointment I decided to go to the beach. Now this is not an ocean beach as there is little in the way of tides and the water isn't salty, but it has sand and water which is good enough when you're a thousand miles in from an ocean. So I took a walk on the beach. As always, click on the pic to embiggen.

It was nice to have the beach mostly to myself as I would expect on a Monday morning.

I had an appointment early in the afternoon and after that I went over to Canal Park where the St. Louis River flows into Lake Superior and wandered around. There were more people, but it was still very relaxing and uncrowded and the clouds had gone away.

The cormorant didn't care if I was looking at him and the lift bridge was going up.

The harbor is large with room for lots of commercial and private ships and boats. It is a main terminal for shipping products from the Midwestern grain fields and iron ore mines as well as other bulk goods. It is also a great place to hang around and see the history of the area which, thanks to the native population, goes back thousands of years.

The Lakewalk begins at Canal Park and follows the shore for several miles. It is used by walkers, gawkers, bikers, runners, and anyone else that wants a nice place to get out and about in the city.

Even young moms trying to help their kids negotiate rocks. That concrete thing behind them showed up after a rather large storm a few years ago. That might give you an idea of the power of this calm looking body of water.

Since the Lift Bridge fascinates me as well as others, I thought I'd take a walk up to it and get a close up. Just before the bridge was my post dinner destination, the Vikre Distillery. I stopped there after dinner and had their vodka, one of their gins, and two of their Aquavits, just to see what a craft distillery was like. I was not disappointed and came home with a bottle of one of the Aquavits.  I will save it for special occasions. Of course, those special occasions can come around quite frequently and are sometimes called "evenings." A funny thing happened while I was at the distillery (that sounds like the beginning of a joke). I went upstairs to enjoy my samples and my neighbors from across the street are sitting on the sofa enjoying hors d'oeuvres and a drink at 8:30 on a Monday night 120 miles from home. What a coincidence!

After a good nights rest at my hotel I had a nice breakfast and went on the next appointment. When that was over it was time to come home, but I had one more scenic stop. It was time to stop and smell the roses at the Rose Garden of Leif Erikson Park. The Lakewalk passes by this park about two miles from where the walk starts.
That's the North Shore Scenic Railway on the right.

The roses are fading a little as we all do in time, but they are still beautiful and will bring joy to many before the seasons change.