Friday, January 31, 2014

Sunshine is good for cameras

Today, I took a drive around town after I finished a few errands. 
My camera was my copilot. 
The sun was bright and it felt good, even though the temperature was low.

I found a spot behind the Police Station where I could get access to a little footbridge over the Red Cedar.  
Sunshine on Red Cedar - panoramic view
Footbridge over Red Cedar
A light mist was rising off the water.
A group of ducks came from the right and motored quickly across to the left.
A large cottonwood and untouched snows.
A sunny day is good for the soul and the camera.

Thursday, January 30, 2014


Today, I was trying to shoot some pictures of the snow and my camera was sounding odd.  
Finally, in the nick of time, I realized that the mounting ring on my 300mm lens was cracked and the lens was just barely attached to the camera.
Some of you who read this blog often (and should really get a life), 
might remember me dropping my Pentax K2000 on the pavement in the driveway last summer.
So, now I am sitting with two broken Pentax products.  
After a quick on line chat, I have the info I need 
and have packaged both camera body and lens and will put them in the mail tomorrow.  
Hopefully both can be repaired and it won't cost one arm and one leg.
Travel safe my babies

Luckily, I have my new camera body, 
and my old 55-200 mm lens seems to be working okay (it was involved in the dropped camera deal).

It's a weird feeling to realize how attached I am to this camera equipment.
But I think that's a good thing, and at least its the lens ring that is cracked and not me.
Here is my little tree, just barely peeking through today.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Trying to catch a cold one?

I saw a post on Facebook yesterday that there were some river otters in the Red Cedar river near the bridge downtown.  On my way to some other appointments today, I made a stop to see what I could see.
I found one very hardy fisherman was trying his luck.  I watched him cast his line out several times.  I'm not sure what he was after, I sure wish he would have had a hit while I was watching, but he did not.
Casting into the cold water
The river is mostly open in this area, but I did not see any otters.  A few ducks were out in the distance.  I'll be checking back to see if I can see those otters though.
Red Cedar River

A little flash of fun

Yes, it is cold.  Yes, I was home again today.  Yes, I'm getting weary.
No, I am not bored.  No, I don't have everything done that needs done.  No, I don't have cabin fever...yet.
But a sight like this does help.
Just by luck, I noticed a cardinal at the bird feeder this afternoon but by the time I grabbed my camera, he had perched up in the maple tree and didn't give me a very clear shot.
But he sure was a pretty dude.
A little flash of color is fun on a cold winter day.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

My Eyes are Opened

I had my mammogram last week.  I do it annually, it's a simple check/test.
My technician was a very nice young woman and when she was recording my family history, which includes the recent diagnosis of breast cancer in my Mom's sister, Jeanne, she mentioned how the odds are so much greater for a cancer diagnosis in older women.  I was surprised to hear this.  I read a lot and considered myself fairly well informed about breast cancer, but it turns out I was clueless to the increase of breast cancer diagnoses in aging women.
The technician was sorry that she didn't have some literature to give me, but I assured her I would check it out on the Internet when I got home.
But as I was walking down the hallway to my next appointment at the clinic, she chased me down and give me a little slip of paper with the odds of breast cancer by age bracket.
When I posted this information on Facebook, several of my friends were as surprised as I was.
Of course, the older you are when diagnosed, there are other circumstances which may influence what treatment you may or may not choose.  Nevertheless, the data is pretty eye opening.
I hope it opens your eyes and you'll continue to have a regular annual mammogram.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Good Old Fashioned Winter

Lots of people around here keep saying, well, this is an old fashioned winter.  
Oh yeah?  well the record keepers are telling us that we are setting records with some of this cold, so I'm not so sure that the memories of those who remember Old Fashioned Winters are that accurate.  
However, clothing was not as warm back in the olden days, so that might explain some of the discrepancy.  Snow fall might have been more, I'm not sure about those records.
 I do believe that the climate is changing with the impact of human behavior on the earth.  But when cars were less comfortable and clothing less insulated and boots not designed for below zero weather, I'm sure extreme winters seemed to be almost unbearable and were very memorable.  
One thing that has changed a lot, is that now when the weather is extreme, people cancel events, schools close, public buildings close and police encourage people to stay inside.  Attitudes about toughing it out in the cold weather have changed.  We are more aware of wind chill temperatures and the risks involved in exposure to extreme cold now, even though our attire is more suited to keep us warm.
So, whether the weather is an old fashioned winter or not, it's really making an impression on me.
I tried to take a quick panoramic photo with my phone from the mailbox, but the focus got frozen.
I'm getting a little nervous about how much snow is on the roof of the garage and house.
I might have to get out the snow rake, my least favorite winter job.

My gardens are well covered.
The lump on the left center is the top of my raised bed garden where I grew Grandma's beans.
The peony bushes I planted last fall are all around the fire number post, looks like they have about 2 feet of snow cover.

The snow pile is getting big, my plowman came and cleaned up the edges some today.
So, the winter might be like an old fashioned one, 
but the snow and cold are starting to wear down most all the locals.
The schools are closed again tomorrow, you hear both sides of the argument about whether the weather should be closing school so often.  Some folks say they never remember having any days off school due to cold weather when they were kids.  That is very possible, but IMO, that didn't make it right.
Coors drilled it into my head,  
Figure out the rest later.
So, I'll be having a safe day indoors tomorrow, as will many of the local school kids. 
I made a pot of Kale soup and I'm working on a knitting project.
Now that sounds like an old fashioned winter to me.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Little Tree

My little tree that I used with my poem, doesn't look the same today.

About 5 inches of snow overnight and now this little guy is nearly out of sight.
Stay tuned for more little tree updates.

Since my snowblower hasn't started for me yet this winter, and the Sears guy hopes to get it running in a week or so, my snow piles are starting to encroach around the areas where I push the snow with a shovel.
It's hard to get any contrast with snow on snow, but the area between my garage and front steps is getting smaller and smaller and the snow pile is getting higher and higher.
And it is only January.
Winter is Good.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Heavy Chevy

I don't think I have any photos of my first car.
I was in college in Eau Claire, went up to Luck for the weekend and Gus told me he had bought me a car.
I had no money, I mean NO money.  He paid $100 and I had to make payments to him to pay it off.
He helped me get some insurance and from then on, I was a car owner.
Previous to that, I was a bicycle owner.
The car was a 10 year old 1962 Chevy Impala, pale puke metallic green and it had been t-boned so the passenger door had a pretty good dent.  But it ran fine and I got around.  It had a running light in the middle of the front grill, kind of a cyclops deal.  It was kind of a boat, so I called it my heavy chevy.
I drove that car for about 5 years and then sold it to a high school kid for $100.  He was thrilled to have it and I was glad to sell it.
Today, my Vibe had to be in the dealership for some recall work. I was given a courtesy car to drive home.  
It was a 2013 Chevy Impala.  
40 years later, it's still kind of a boat, but I got around okay for the day.
I hadn't thought about my heavy Chevy for years until this morning.
Life is Good.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Piano Heaven

Friends Pete & Carol and I had a fun evening last night.  A local tavern was hosting Midwest Dueling Pianos.  A two piano show where the audience can request almost any song under the sun, the the piano players will play and sing and entertain.  It's a small bar, but it has as stage, just big enough for two electric baby grand pianos.  The dance floor was filled with tables and chairs and about 50 customers.

The show started with the younger of the two piano guys playing a jazz / blues number and then it really took off from there.  
These guys really play.  
I kept thinking about what they do on the piano compared to what I do on the piano, and it is two completely different things!
Midwest Dueling Pianos
The show started at 7pm and we left just after 9pm, but it was far from over.  
If I hadn't been riding with P & C, I would have stayed until closing.
One of the most entertaining evenings I have had in a long time.
I loved all the rock and roll.  The level of talent on the keys that these guys have is amazing.
I was in piano heaven for a couple of hours.
I'll be watching for these guys to make another appearance around the North-woods.

Thursday, January 23, 2014


Even in the dead of winter and cold,
A little pine tree shows something ever so bold.

Holding its head above the frosty snow bank,
The sunshine helping; Mother Nature to thank.

Soon  five years since its planting as a seedling,
It says to me, Spring is coming, and so I start believing.

Soon these dark Winter days will be filed away,
And Springtime will be here, bringing a warm sunny day.

wjo 2014

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Sand/Snow Castle

Nephew Kris and high school friends Ty and Todd headed up to our cabin for the weekend to ice fish and hang out.
They sent these photos to me on my cell phone tonight.  I expected that there would be a fair amount of snow to shovel up there, looks like it was the truth.
The driveway is plowed by the city for a fee.

The path to the front door had to be shoveled.

The path to the out house and generator hook up had to be shoveled as well.

Now that it is all shoveled out, I might have to take a run up there.
Sure is pretty with all that snow and some sunshine!
I guess in the winter we should call it the Snow Castle.

Friday, January 17, 2014


Wind chill is always part of the weather discussion in the Wisconsin winter.   We had some record cold as we kicked off the new year.
The weather app on my phone gave the run down on the temps and wind chills.
25 below is dangerous and annoying
Another weather app gives warnings about conditions that could be dangerous.
But this warning, to me, was kind of depressing.
Warming Rapidly to -23F????
I'm not sure if this was some tongue in cheek work by the typist or what, but it did get my attention.
Happily, we are now above zero and winter is once again doable.
Life is good, although a little chill.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Payoff

If you read my ramblings here often, you already know that I love Thank You notes.  I love to receive them and I love to send them.  In my career at Coors, I received more than one, hand written note from the President of the Coors Brewing Company.  It meant more than money to me, not that I wouldn't have taken more money, mind you.  Recognition was something that Coors tried hard to build into their culture.  I'm not sure it was an across the board success, but for many of us in management, it reminded us to take time to recognize our employees, not just for above and beyond the call of duty work, but for the daily grind as well.  I remember having quite a discussion with one of my peers about saying thank you to one of the crew for doing their job.  My stand was that it cost me nothing to say thank you, whether it was something the employee was expected to do or not.  Not everyone agreed with me.  
So, what does it have to do with today?
I have tried to impress on the young people in my family, that a note written is often very valuable to the person who receives it.
Here are two fine examples of Thank You notes that made me smile.
I suppose you could argue that when a young man receives a few bucks in a birthday card, that a thank you note is expected.   But I really love this one, not only did the $5 go to a savings account, it went STRAIGHT there.
I'm spoiled by how many of the great nieces and nephews send thank you notes after receiving their birthday card and $5.  I look forward to receiving the notes.  I see how they are growing up by the font in their writing, the words that they chose and how they sign their name.  Plus, I think it is a very excellent life skill. 

 I wouldn't say I am surprised by receiving these notes, 
but I was surprised to get this text message from my nephew last evening.
Like I mentioned in my last post, I spent some time converting and uploading some old videos to YouTube.   I sent the link out to all the nephews and nieces.
Late last night I got this text message.
Add caption
The Pay Off is sweet.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Video conversion can suck up a whole day

Recently, I've been going through a surge of organizing, purging and cleaning.  Along the way, I ran across a stack of old DVDs of home movies from about 25 years ago.  We used to gather at Gus & Lois's cabin in The Barrens, near Cushing, WI over the New Year holiday.  Some years we exchanged names and did homemade gifts.  Everyone wanted Grandpa to get their name, and over the years we each ended up with a jewelry box or bullet box.  
A few years we really got busy on a theme.  One year it was the Olympics, and we had silly events out in the snow and an awards ceremony on a brisk January morning.  There was a Star Search year with lots of lip syncing performances.  I have lots of video of those two years.  
It has always been in the back of my mind that I hated to see those videos be lost over the years.  I have the original DVDs that I had made from the VSH tapes, that I made from the video camera.  I had a Sony HandyCam, which was a good home video camera back in the '80s.  I labored hour after hour to 'edit' my final editions of the videos.  Then I worked to make VHS copies for the families, and more recently I had DVDs made.  Today, I was able to covert those videos into a format that allowed me to upload it to my channel on YouTube. is my YouTube channel, and I've not stored those movies so that they are easy access for any of the family to see.  In a funny way, that takes the pressure off of me as historian of those films.  
I also came across a couple of Seabee related videos with Dad in them.  Now they are on YouTube as well.

It is awesome technology that these films can be pretty easily converted, and it only really takes a few clicks, but like most things that only take a few clicks, my whole day got sucked up before the job was done.
Life is Good.

Friday, January 10, 2014


Today, I had a fun day acting as an interview judge as part of the 2014 Regional Academic Decathlon.  This is an academic competition for high school students in Wisconsin.

According to the CESA Website:

WIAD challenges students to push themselves beyond what they thought academically possible, motivating and recapturing their interest in academics.  The program rewards the heroes of the academic arena.  
It encourages "C" students to excel beyond their current achievement level and teaches other students they have strengths they can contribute to the team. 
Regional Competition will be held simultaneously at five host sites on January 10, 2014.

Twenty teams will progress to the State Competition in Wisconsin Dells on March 13-14.

The state winner and runner-up will represent Wisconsin at the National Finals April 24-26, 2014 in Honolulu, Hawaii.

I was so impressed by the high school students I had the honor of interviewing today.  I am pretty sure at least a couple of those kids are going to make a real difference in the world.   We had 7 minutes with each young person, and we asked them as many questions as they could answer in that time frame.  

The questions were diverse, here are just a few examples. 
If you didn't live in Wisconsin, where would you want to live?
More than one of the kids said London.
What do you think make for a good friend?
The answers were pretty interesting here, but honesty came up more than once, and standing by you through think and thin, including when one friend is a Justin Bieber fan and the other is not.
What do you read everyday, and why?
Some of these kids are reading classics and mentioned authors that I have only heard of, and true to the teenage popular theme, many read fantasy.
What one person has influenced your life and why?
A couple of kids mentioned a teacher that had taken time to steer them in a new direction or supported their interests or helped them in some way.
One girl talked about her Mom, and said that she knows that most people think kids raised by a single Mom aren't going to turn out well, but that she thought she was going to prove that wrong.
(This made me glad yet sad, do kids really think that being raised by a single Mom means you don't have a shot?  We have to change how we think, we just have to.)
What three things do you want us to know about you?
This was a fun question, the kids lit up talking about their love for music, their passion for art, their pride in bringing up grades, one of the girls talked about hunting with her Dad, one young lady told us about her father dying when she was in grade school and how she is strong now because of living through that.

There really are a lot of good kids in the world, but some of the bad ones hog all the news.

I wish I would have stayed for the awards, next year I will plan to be there.
I'm hoping for an invite to judge at the state level, I probably won't be going to the National Competition.

What a fun day!

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Knit and Purl

Growing up, my Mom was constantly knitting or sewing.  I remember her buying yard that came in a skein and she would have me roll the yarn in to a ball for easier use while she knit.  I can remember that she knit sweaters for herself mostly.  She wore them to work, must have been drafty in her office.  Thinking back, it seems like the pattern was the same but each sweater a different color of yarn.  As a novice knitter, I can imagine that she learned a pattern, it fit & she thought it was easy enough and stuck with it.

I have been a knitter sporadically over the years.  Right now I am knitting a few things.  I've made several scarves this winter, and I started a baby blanket for my new great great niece, Alaina.  I got about 1/2 of the little blanket finished, decided I didn't like it and put it aside.  Meanwhile, I started a little hat to match the blanket, then decided I didn't like it either, and so now it is set aside.  I had enough yard to start a new baby blanket, I'm pleased with the results but am only about 1/4 of the way to finishing.  I'm not too worried about finishing quickly as it is a lighter weight and won't really be used much until the weather is MUCH warmer.

Knitting gives a person time to think.
  While I have been sitting here working away, I started to think about a retirement gift I was given by Coors friends Fateh & Hilary.  It was a fun package with 3 skeins of washable wool yard and some other treats.  The more I thought about it, the more I wondered where that yarn had been stored.  After a couple of weeks, I finally tracked down a basket of knitting supplies and found the special yarn.  
But then what...
I've been wearing scarves more and more and decided to make a tri-colored scarf out of this special yarn.  I am happy to report, I finished the knitting today.  I made it a fun project and tried out several different decorative stitch patterns.  The internet makes finding and learning new stitches so easy.  YouTube is full of instructional videos on how to complete the different stitches and the webpages are many that have lists of projects and ideas.  So, my scarf is tri-colored with many patterns.  
I'm quite pleased with the results and even though it took me 6 years to use this yarn, 
it is a wonderful reminder of friends in Colorado.
Now that this project is done, I better get back to working on that baby blanket, and making up my mind about finishing the little hat as well!

Monday, January 6, 2014


All Minnesota schools were closed by their Governor today, tomorrow each school district decides, and many have announced closures.  Western Wisconsin was mostly shutdown today and already tomorrow's closings are being announce.  The kids are getting some time off, but many of these schools end up having to make up days in June, and by then the fun of a day off is long forgotten I'm afraid. 

Very few icicles on the house, no melting, too cold.
 I support the closure of schools and public buildings on days like this.  I believe that the less folks who are out, the less folks who will end up in a serious situation involving the cold.  Our emergency folks are busy enough with calls when the weather is so severe, so if staying home lessens those calls, I'm all for it.  I have been home since Friday, and that's just fine with me.  Normally I tutor a student in reading on Tuesdays, but I cancelled that meeting so I can spend another day at home, safe and warm.  The weather people say we should warm up by Weds and Thursday, hurrah!
A friend reminded me today that I chose to live here in Wisconsin.  And it is true, I did, and I do love it.  So, while I'm not crazy about this extreme cold, I'm not really complaining, afterall, I have a warm house and no need to be out in the elements.

It is great niece Milli's birthday today.  She turns 6 and was looking forward to taking cupcakes to school to celebrate.  This summer I met up with Milli and her sisters and grandparents at Erickson's flower gardens.  Milli is a budding artist and captured one of the flowers in a pastel.
She's a delightful little girl.
The bird feeders were busy here today.
A flock of about 20 goldfinch were coming and going to the feeders.
They really puff up their feathers to help insulate their little bodies.
Gold finch grabs a seed.

The Red Breasted Nuthatch has been a good photo subject for me this winter.
Here is tasting the suet in the bag.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Freezer time

The historic cold front is on the way and today we barely saw zero.
Most of the schools in the area announced Monday's closure yesterday, including the entire state of Minnesota.  Libraries, and non emergent city office are all closed.  I plan to stay home safe and warm, and hope that many others do the same.

Today, I spent the day watching football and I also whipped up a batch of treats for the birds with some lard, peanut butter, and dried fruit.  Hopefully that will help some of my feather and furry friends survive this bad streak of below zero temperatures.
Downy woodpecker, queuing up for the suet sack

House sparrow

When you look at these little birds head on, they look kind of crabby...maybe it is the weather.

One of my favorites, Junco, but hard to catch the gleam in the eye on these little dark birds.

Resting I guess. this red breasted nuthatch looks like he is kind of mad.

One of my favorite birds, red breasted woodpecker

Finally, so squirrels have arrived to help eat the seeds and suet.
Life is good!
Now, if the Packers would get in gear, Life would be better.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Happy New Year from Rice Lake

As you know, winter has been busy here.

Today there was some sunshine and temps in the teens.
The new snow gave the yard a pristine coating of white and shine.
The prediction now is for sub zero temperatures and wind.
But as my Grandmother Frederikke used to say, "It is good that houses are hollow".

The kitties and I are staying warm and snuggled into our house, with the fireplace keeping us toasty.
Barley has become a lap cat lately, especially when I am trying to knit.
She makes herself comfy using the arm rest as her pillow.
Hops has no shame.  She gets comfy in her toes up position.
All three of us are hoping for a good new year filled with more of the same.


Related Posts with Thumbnails