Thursday, July 31, 2014

Cardinal in Maple Tree

Sometimes I get lucky and take a photo that I really
like or that someone else takes a shine to.
In January of 2013, I happened to get a shot of a cardinal in the maple tree right outside my living room window.  The white and gray background colors of January in Wisconsin were the perfect backdrop for this flashy fella.  I used him on greeting cards and was delighted with the positive feedback I heard from friends.
One friend in particular, Lorrie Covert, loved this cardinal.  I offered to send her the jpg file and she was very appreciative and gushed with compliments.  
Flash forward to this week, almost 2 years later.  Lorrie's husband Mark, a close Coors pal of mine, called me to chat on his way home from the Coors League golf club as he often does.  We catch up on Coors news, golf stuff and always a little baseball.  Mark and I were part of a 4 some that bought season tickets to the Colorado Rockies in their inaugural season and we held those tickets for 10 years.  So, we always have lots of chat about.  Mark played baseball for the St. Louis Cardinal organization in his youth, and then had a fine career at Coors before he retired.
In the course of the conversation, he told me that a friend of theirs, who is a framer and owns a shop, had taken my cardinal photo and given it to an artist.  The artist painted an oil rendition of my photo and & the framer friend finished it off in a nice frame for Mark and Lorrie.  The framer friend knew Lorrie loved the photo and knew Mark was a former Cardinal so it fit together.
I have to say I was pleased and proud to see my photo displayed so beautifully.  
Here is the original photo taken January 12, 2013.
Cardinal in Maple Tree - wjophotography - 1.12.2013
The framed oil painting is below.
Cardinal in Maple Tree in oil - Rick Brogan artist

Biography:Rick Brogan has been painting full-time for over 20 years and has worked as an illustrator, cartoonist and production designer. His work is included in many collections, including the Xcel Energy collection.

It's kind of a thrill to see one of my photographs as a work of art.

Life is Good.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Yay for rain

We had a storm roll through Saturday night, complete with Tornado Warning, but luckily we only had a little light hail, not much wind and a nice amount of rain.

This morning the lily blooms were very pretty with a little bit of rain left on their petals.
This bee was busy visiting the yellow lily blooms.

Close up beauty shot.

This orange lily, new this year, has vibrant color and curled petals, very unique.

I really love the delicate lemonade color of this lily.  A little ruffle around the petal edge adds to the charm.
A few hot days this week and the tomatoes are starting to turn.
These beauties might be on my supper plate tonight.
It's been a wonderful summer, not many hot days at all, windows open at night most every night.
My plants look great and the flowers are abundant.
And now, the tomatoes are getting ripe.
Life is Good.

Friday, July 25, 2014

A big family

Glenn and Kathy and family were recently featured in the Mayo Hometown News flyer that is mailed out to folks in this area of Wisconsin.
The photo include all of their children, grand children and great grandchildren.

Here is the article.

A nice article and a fabulous photograph!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A good year for flowers

Until now, we have had plenty of moisture here in Northern Wisconsin and it has made it easy to grow flowers and plants.  I've had to water the last few days, but hopefully Mother Nature will give us a little rain soon.
My front entrance is looking good.

I planted poppies this year, have always wanted to have them in my yard.
I hope that the kind I planted are perennial.
 I grew one plant from seed and bought one in a pot.
Of course, I can't remember which one is which.
Owell, they are unusual and I hope they return next year.

I new plant for me is this Button Flower.
After it blooms, the remaining button is almost like a thistle head.

My day lily patch is really starting to look great.
 Many blooms and many, many buds in the waiting.

Here is a sampling of my day lily collection.




Purple with lemon center

Purple with lemon center

Red with many buds on this clump.


Each time Gary & Mary gave me lilies, they urged me to pick ones I wanted, but I wanted the colors to be random.  I've ended up with a nice assortment of colors and types of day lilies and it's a delight to walk out the front door each morning to see them in bloom.

It's been a good year for flowers.
Life is Good.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

A few blooms

I've been taking quite a few photos of the plants and bushes around the yard, and my plan is to create a yard map with identification of what I planted, & where.
The perennials are just so that I remember, but the annuals are so that I can remember what did great and what didn't for the following year.

I planted about 9 lavender plants in my raised bed garden this year.
I used this area for tomatoes for a couple of years, but the blight got bad and it was inconvenient for watering anyway.  So, this year it started its life as a lavender bed.
Lavender is listed on a chart I saw over the winter as being especially good for bees.
It looks like this bee is liking what he sees.

Getting deep into his work.

It's fun watching these guys do their work.
This spring I transplanted another bunch of day lily clumps from Gary & Mary Erickson's gardens.
The damp, cool weather must be agreeable, because there are buds too numerous to count!
This well worn butterfly was making its way across the tops of the buds, while an ant watched from above.
Ev got a calla lily plant a couple of years ago and has painstakingly saved the bulbs each year, wrapping them in newspaper and storing them over the winter.
She gave me about 5 bulbs this spring, I planted them with low expectations.
These lily flowers are lovely and surprised me!

Purple petunias always attract me, most of the time, they end up in bad shape,
this year is an exception, they are stunning.
I never know what color the lilies will be that I get from Gary & Mary.
Not only do I not let him look up on his chart as we are digging them,
but then when I go to plant them, I sometime split the clumps further.
All of that makes it a nice surprise once the blooms start to show their colors.
I love this lily, such a pretty yellow center and lovely purple petals.

My favorite lily, so far.

This little toad found a nice spot to spend his summer day.
More to come on him later.
A few years ago, Dad and Ev found some seeds for flowering beans that Dad remembers his mother planting each year.  The pods are huge and the beans are purple.
I had a good crop the first year I grew them, and passed out seed to all the family members who would take them.  Some planted them and had success.
Last year, the deer ate my beans off at the root, so I didn't have a single pod to harvest.
By luck, I found a little zippered plastic bag with 6 or 8 seeds in it that never found its way to anyone for planting two years ago.
I planted them, and am very pleased to report, it looks like I'm going to have a bean harvest again!
The flowers on the beans are so bright red / orange, they are show stoppers.
The hops look good.
After failing 2 or 3 years in a row, I am finally a hop grower.
Dad & I both noticed the day the hops hit the top of their tower, 
and I sure wish I could give them more vertical climb space.

The hops look good in my Danish Garden.

I checked later on in the day, and the little toad was still lounging in the lily bloom.

Another shot of my favorite lily.
Favorite until my next favorite blooms.
It has been a good year for the orange day lily, otherwise known as ditch lilies.
I have an abundance of these that were here when I moved in.
From what I've read, they are nearly impossible to get rid of, so I'm loving them.
Ditch lilies grow everywhere.
The first day I saw the toad in the flower was Wednesday, he was there all day, gone on Thursday but Friday morning, as the lily bloom was closing and finishing its cycle, the toad had crawled back in.
I'm hoping he shows up again in a new bloom.
He seems to like the yellow day lily.
It has been a nice week with not too much happening.
I like just being home and hanging out.
Barley and I have had some nice deck time too, she likes to relax in her cat condo.
She usually just relaxes and naps while I read.
I like enjoying the view in the backyard.
It's been a good year for growing.
Life is Good.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

It is a good year for planting

I've added several bushes and other perennials to my yard this year.  The continue cool, wet weather makes for good survival rates.  My friend Aggie called me Saturday and said she was dropping off some hosta.  There had been a plant sale and these were the left overs.  I was happy to take them.  I didn't see here pull in the driveway, and when I went outside later, I was surprised to see how many plants there were.
I could have easily split all the hosta into over 50 plantings, but I decided a clump a few together and ended up with 25 hosta, 1 lupine & a coral belle.
I've been wanting to put a border of hosta around the front deck.

Some of this area gets a little more sun, hopefully these little babies will do okay.

Nice and shady, these hosta should do well here.
I also added a few hosta to the area around Ansgar's Lille Barn.  Only moss grows since it gets little or no sun due to the maple trees, hosta should do great though.
For now, I think I'm done planting.
For now, I'm done spreading the word that I love free plants.
For now, I'm just going to enjoy the plants I have and hope that they thrive.
But later....I might be on the lookout for more iris and a few more hosta.
It's a good year.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


I've been trying to figure out how to solve a nagging problem at my front door.  
The wooden pergola roof on the porch is a nuisance after a rain or snow.  
Drip drip drip, right on my head.
I thought about taking off the slotted roof and attaching an awning to the house, and I even called a local company who sells these door covers, but they never did return my call.
So, I kept noodling on what I could do to solve this problem.
This year, I came up with the idea of adding a tarp/fabric cover to the pergola.
I asked Glenn if he had any scraps of the water resistant fabric he uses to sew harp cases.
He offered to sew me up the size of tarp I needed and even offered to put grommets along the edges for me.   Within about a week, Glenn had my project done and I did the install.
 Using zip ties (my solution to 80% of life's problems), I attached the fabric to the wood frame.
From the driveway, it was nearly invisible.

Standing on the porch and looking up, the fabric cover looks really nice.

Then came the rain.
Yes, it was dry under the fabric, and that was the goal.
But, there were pockets of water up there and if you were unlucky, you'd get a dump on your head just when you didn't expect it.

Dad and I discussed how to properly solve the pooling of water.
He suggested a series of arched support boards which would give the fabric even support and a good water shed design.  A proper solution.
Since I didn't have the materials, nor the desire to take on that big project, I came up with a plan B.
I found a piece of cedar lumber that was saved from the remodel of the porch, & it measured the exact depth of the pergola roof.
Installed on edge, this gives my fabric roof a tent-like slope.

I re-fastened & stretched the canvas cover and once again used zip ties to secure the fabric.
Now my pergola has an awning roof that drains well.
I'm not sure it is perfect, but by the weather forecasts, I'll know soon enough.
I am pretty confident my DIY fix will work for rain, 
and I hope it is several months before we have to test it on the snow & ice.

I wonder if you can still call it a DIY project when your brother sews the fabric and your Dad gives you guidance on the installation.
Maybe this one is a DIO - Do It Ourselves - project.


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