Friday, February 28, 2014

Wind can be awesome

This week I attended a free concert at the University of Wisconsin - Barron County here in Rice Lake.  Performers were the University of Wisconsin - Madison Wind Ensemble with special guests The Wisconsin Brass Quintet.
The Wind Ensemble is made up of students & they performed several pieces that were very excellent to hear.  My favorite being Shadowcatcher composed by Eric Ewazen.
The Wind Ensemble - U of W Madison, School of Music

The Wisconsin Brass Quintet is made up of professors from UW-Madison.  They played several pieces alone and then joined with the Ensemble for another.  This brass quintet was on fire.  In fact, one of the selections they played was called Line of Fire and it was just fabulous.  Two trumpets, a tuba, a trombone and (my personal favorite) a french horn.  These 5 musicians really can play!  
This was my first experience hearing only 'wind'.
It was awesome.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

It's that cold

This morning I noticed that the water in the heated bird bath had evaporated, and before I got out there to refill it, this mourning dove decided that it was a warm, dry & snuggly place to rest.
Dove in a bowl on a frigid morning

Monday, February 24, 2014


This is a note about notes.
A year or more ago, I read an article in the Rice Lake Chronotype that a Steinway piano had been donated to the University of Wisconsin - Barron County Campus here in Rice Lake.  The piano, built in 1891, needed restoration and repair and an effort had begun to raise the necessary funding.
I decided right away that I wanted to support this project.
Donation recognition was cleverly set as follows:
$100-$199 ~ White Key
$200-$1999 ~ Black Key 
$2000-$4999 ~ Chord
$5000 ~ Pedal
I decided to contribute at the White Key level.  
As result, my name was to be listed on a permanent plaque at the University.
(My many years of fund raising experience for United Way at Coors gives me a good understanding of how much work goes into not only raising the needed money, but also the proper recognition of donors as well as planning an event of this importance.)

Even the tickets were lovely and a nice item for the scrapbook (or blog)
To celebrate the completion of the restoration of piano #70299, a concert was planned and donors were given a ticket to attend both the concert and a reception following.
The concert would be performed by Namji Kim on the piano and Aurelien Petillot on the viola.  Both artists are also professors at the University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire.
So, on a cold Wisconsin night, we headed to the Fine Arts Center to celebrate a piano.
The concert was fabulous and the piano spectacular.
Number 70299 ready and waiting
At the completion of the concert, 
we were invited to come on stage to have a close up look at the beautiful piano.
(Regrettably, I only had my cellphone for photographs.)

This piano has only 85 keys, rather than the normal 88.

The Steinway logo is true to the era that it was built.

The gleaming pedals stood out in the stage lights, as did the turned legs.

The sound board, hammers and strings are something to see, really beautiful.
The donors were enthusiastic about getting to be closer to the Steinway

Friends Peter & Carol Kramer had a visit with Namji Kim, finding some common ground in Korean experience.
I had one moment of concern when I opened the program for the evening's festivities and saw my name listed with the other donors...
I started wondering if it would be better to tell them about the error,
or just change my name to Wand.

At the gala reception, champagne and cake was served.
The musicians were circulating and visiting with the crowd.
And the citation plaque was well placed for viewing.
It was a wonderful evening.
This citation was a work of art in itself.
And as you can see when I zoom in, there is no need to change my name.

The music played was composed in the era that piano was built.
Our evening was delightful, the notes were many and beautiful, and the weather forgotten, as we listened.

Here is the story of the piano from the concert program.
I expect that this piano will be making beautiful sounds for the next 100 years.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Searching for Swans

On Tuesday, after KJ and I had taken lots of photos of the swans in the St. Croix River, we decided to go in search of more swans.  Clear Lake is open now and since there are usually swans there, 
we decided to go take a look.
Unlike the St. Croix River area, Clear Lake does not have nice easy access to getting close to the open water.  Someone had been there and blazed a trail but it had been snowed over since then.  We gave it a try.
The snow was deep, footing very tricky, I kept sinking up to my butt. 
As soon as I started heading to the lakeshore, the swans headed our way, telling me that they had been fed before from someone who had made the same trek.

Kathy tried to see if she could get closer by taking the higher path.
Finally she joined me on the lower path.

Three swans a swimming.

Moving in for a snack

The water had an interesting texture of ripples.
  The topic of feeding animals is always debatable.  I can see both side of this discussion.
On this day, Kathy had some corn along to throw out for the geese and they liked it!
To be helpful, I offered to toss the corn so Kathy could be camera ready,
but that didn't work out.
Next time, she won't let me hold the corn!
As soon as she handed the baggie of corn to me, I managed to turn the bag upside down and instantly dumped all of the corn into the deep snow.
So, that ended any controversy about feeding the swans for that visit.

Swans after the corn
The trumpeter swans were well worth the search.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Honking their trumpets

Okay, this posting might be a little racy but I'm going for it anyway.
When KJ and I were in Hudson among the trumpeter swans,
I accidentally observed a pair of swans making whoopie.
What was most interesting was the reaction of the others swans nearby.  
As soon as the couple started to mate, the other swans made such a racket, it was laughable.
Here are a few photos of the 'romantic' couple and their entourage.

Notice the open mouths of the peanut gallery.

No peace and quiet for this couple, the on lookers were 'honking their trumpets'

It was an awkward moment for me, but not awkward enough that I didn't use my camera to document.

I'm guessing that this darker swan is the chick from last year's mating of this couple.

This seemed to be 'showing off'

Very sweet how they form this natural heart.
So, a little look at swans in the throes of romance, kind of racy.
And humorous how all the onlookers were 'honking their trumpets' during the whole thing.
These trumpeter swans are really quite lovely 
 I'm hoping to get back to this area again before they migrate.

My Valentines

This year, I got two Valentines in the mail.  
Kyle and Heather's traditional annual greeting and a delightful one from Erin and Dana too.
Cute kids and cute parents.
Life is Good.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

What a bonus

During my outing with KJ on Tuesday, we stopped on a country road to take some photographs of an old out building, just as I was getting ready, I saw an eagle coming our way.  He flew to the East and circled back right over our heads.
We found a cool old building and the eagle was just a bonus.

Nice bonus, eh?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

This was the day we needed

Tuesday was all about sunshine and warmer temps.  After all the snow and cold, it felt great.  Photographer friend, Kathy, invited me to tag along to the St. Croix River to see the swans.  I debated but wow, I am so glad I went.  We drove to an area near Hudson, Wisconsin where the swans are and what fun to get so close to them and see so many and to feel the sun on my face again.
Kathy knew right where to go to find these beauties.

Some just couldn't get along, so then one had to bite the other on the butt!

There were quite a few disagreements.

But others just looked peaceful.

A family gathering

The sun probably felt good on his wings just like it felt good on my face.

Some Mallards were mixed in among the swans.

Taking off looks like walking on water.



A mallard pair getting some sun.

Unusual coloration, or lack of coloration, in this male mallard

yak yak yak...seriously, when these swans all started in, it was loud.

Some are just sooo white.

I wonder if this Mallard is showing off a little

The peanut gallery was making some noise.

Dance a little, yak a little

Like angel wings

Warm sun makes a swan thirsty, or was it the corn?

Stretching to show who is taller

Gotta run


Love was in the air
What a fun day, with such compliant subjects for the camera.  
It was warm and sunny and it felt great to be out.
Today was the day we needed.


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