Friday, December 30, 2016

A New Year

When judged against a governing record rather than an opponent, 
what must a President do to keep earning the support of citizens. 

This is a question for 2017.

As we creep up on the new year, 
I hope you enjoy this little quiz from a birthday card I received from friend LeAnna.

1. LaBatts
2.  Heiny can
2.  New Castle
4.  Stella Atois
5.  Colt 45
6.  Blue Moon

Thursday, December 29, 2016

They are amazing

Every time one of these male pileated woodpeckers lets me take his photo, I am delighted.
His lip stick tells me he is a male.
It was windy so he had a little shoulder pad fluff going on.
I can't get enough of these big dudes even though the suet really flies when they start chipping away at the log.  It's a small price to pay for the entertainment.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

A Merry Christmas Eve

A Merry Christmas Eve at Kyle and Heather's

Johansens on Christmas
Left to right, back to front: 
Aaron Chivers, Emily Chivers, Ryan 
Milena holding Jude, Megan Chivers, Gage Johansen, Lois Skow Johansen, Jack Johansen, Elliana, Camilla Johansen, Lois Skow, Larry Skow, Kris Johansen
Lora Ebersold Johansen, Ruby, Anders, Owen Chivers, Jens, Stella, Heather B. Olson-Johansen, Kyle Johansen, Wanda Johansen
Ivan Chivers next to Ozzie the dog
Angela Chivers holding August Johansen. — with Lora Ebersold JohansenGage JohansenLois Skow JohansenAngela ChiversJack Johansen, Emily ChiversCamilla JohansenHeather B. Olson-Johansen and Kyle Johansen.
It was an evening of great food and drink, a visit from Santa and the dice game for gifts.

Merry Christmas 2016

Wanda’s Ode to 2016

Christmas is nearly here, the year is spent 
Leaves me wondering just where it went.

As spring and summer memories fade into the past, 
Snow boots & shovels are ready and snow will be coming fast.

A Big Trip Out West was October's big deal, 
Scenery, visits to friends and family & 5000 miles behind the wheel.

What fun to reconnect with relatives, pals and workmates of years past.
Gave me a nice feeling to know that solid friendships can last.

The Pacific Northwest is beautiful with its mountains and sea water.  Upon reflection,
If only Wisconsin had those peaks and oceans, it would be perfection.

Thanks to all who housed, fed, entertained and made room in busy lives for a 715 me.
I’ll be back to each area code again soon for more fun & time together & much more time at the sea.

I started the trip visiting my Auntie Jeanne & Uncle Nel in Washington, it had been awhile,
My last night on the road was spent with Tante Johanne in Iowa.  These folks make me smile.

My daily gig here in Rice Lake is still filled with piano lessons, playing bridge and family events,
Watching kids play sports, dance or make music in a concert, these are my kind of presents.

My yard continues to mature as I add more and more perennials to the mix,
I love seeing the flowers blooming, trees growing and each year find a new little area to fix.

Occasional trips to our cabin Up North, or Glenn’s lake cottage add to the Up North feel,
Retirement lets me plan each day as it comes, I have to pinch myself to remember it is for real.

I enjoyed many concerts in Eau Claire, Community Theater here in Rice Lake, talent close by,
Old time radio show of It’s a Wonderful Life was a nice holiday treat, bringing a tear to my eye, sigh.

Volleyball in late summer, and basketball now in winter, make for many miles in the car,
But watching the kids, and I do enjoy the sports, it really doesn’t seem like that far.

Our family said goodbye to another this fall.  My half-sister Bonnie is now at rest,
A complicated story in our family, but her kids (my half nephs & niece) are the best.

An election year always brings controversy, who are you for, who are you against?
It was not my choice of endings, but now we move on to soothe relationships that were tensed.

I almost forgot to mention the two cats, that live here and make all the rules,
Barley and Hops are fine, lazy, and sometimes stubborn as mules.

My outside birds continue to pose for photos, and eat me out of sunflower seeds,
It’s not hard work & a small price to pay, to tend to their suet and feed needs.

The page is filled, my story for this year has been written, & time for me to cease.
My one and only wish for you is to find, spread and enjoy the season of Peace.

Have it good,

Keep in touch.

Friday, December 23, 2016


I guess I didn't really know it was going to snow today, but it is coming down hard and is very pretty.
I'm lucky I don't have to leave the house today,
although I had thought I might run to the grocery store later.

But then, I was sitting in the living room and hearing a car engine reving, over and over.
Finally, I went out the front door to see if someone was in the ditch and there was, my neighbor, deep into the ditch in front of my house.
He came down his driveway, thought he would turn right
and then promptly slid right across the road into the ditch.
I couldn't do a thing to help him.

His pal came over to yank him out and that's exactly what he did.  YANK!

I was nervous he was going to get tangled up with my plant trellises as the yanking out was a little out of control.
But he popped out just in time.
So, I guess I'll work on cards and puzzles today, leave the car in the garage.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Winter Weather

We had -21 on Sunday morning, but the sun came out and that makes it seem much better.

By Monday afternoon, we had climbed back up into the +20s, a 40 degree swing.  So, Sunday most of us were snuggled in at home, Monday I saw many out in just vests & sweaters.  

Monday night was the Christmas Concert at Luck.  Janice and I drove over and we both enjoyed the show.  Gage plays saxophone and Emily plays the flute.  The choir was small in numbers but they carried their songs well.  The Jazz Ensemble, a last minute student organized group, was great.  Of course I'm a little partial to jazz.  The full band has many players and they were really good.  
A new instrumental teacher this year was a big change, 
but it seemed like all are handling it with hard work and grace.

This morning is a blustery but sunny day.
My driveway has melted and is almost totally clear of any slip hazard, and that makes me glad.
The birds are busy at the feeders, with many, many woodpeckers around.
This big guy, the Pileated Woodpecker, showed up just now to hammer away on the suet log.

Pileated Woodpecker pounding away on suet log
Downy Woodpecker on suet log.
You can see the difference in size, 
those Pileated Woodpeckers are really huge, and a little scary looking too.
Laila and I have become addicted to the Lake Superior ship traffic.
A webcam located in Duluth gives a birds eye view of these big ships coming and going.
It is amazing to see these ships nearly encapsulated in ice, yet sailing along.
It must be quite a life aboard one of those vessels.
It also gives a great view of the lake, ice is starting to form overnight now.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Snow Day

Today is a well forecasted snow day.  
Many of the schools announced early closures for today last night and by noon, the basketball games for most schools were postponed due to weather.
I had canceled my plans to drive to Luck by Wednesday night 
as I believed that this storm would be significant.
Lots of people complain about how much stress the media and weather people put on hyping up a winter storm, but I would much rather they over promise and under deliver to keep folks safe and warm, off the roads and snuggled in at home.
I cleared the driveway using my plow shovel this morning, about 3-4 inches of new snow had fallen.
High bush cranberries make for a festive sight in the snow.

My Colorado Blue Spruce in the backyard is all decorated with snow flakes.

I'm enjoying a quiet day.
Tomorrow it will be time to work on writing a Christmas card story and addressing some cards.

*But for now, Snow Day*

Saturday morning update.
They promised 6 to 8 inches of new snow and I believe it has arrived and it is still snowing.
The blue spruce in might white.
Beautiful, and I'm happy I don't have a single place I need to be today, except in the house.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

A favorite

One of my favorite birds is the Tufted Titmouse. 
A rare sighting this far North in Wisconsin, but I'm lucky to have seen them at my feeders about once or twice a year.  It's the only bird I submit my observation data to
Right now, the feeders are pretty full of chickadees, goldfinch, dark eyed juncos, nuthatch and woodpeckers.
This morning, I was surprised to see the Tufted Titmouse return to the feeder, I thought they were long gone by now.

 I was standing at the window taking his photo when he suddenly flew down to the feeder tray,
I couldn't back up fast enough to get a good in focus photo.
He's so cute.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Winter roads and such

Janice and I made the trip to Webster on Friday night to watch the Luck Cardinals play basketball.  We came about as close to hitting a doe as you can be without making contact.  The crazy doe was walking across the road, never did break into a trot.  I was breaking though.  Lucky no one was right on my tail and lucky the road was not slippery right there.  We both got a big shot of adrenaline and we both got a really close look at that doe in my headlights.  
Crisis avoided, and the boys won their game!
The drive home was without drama.
Winter is finally here and on Saturday night it started snowing.  
I think about 6 inches of new snow is no the ground by now.
It's good, we needed the moisture and the insulation for our perennials too.
Mourning Dove

Downy Woodpecker on empty suet feeder.  I have work to do.

Mrs. Cardinal visiting the seed tray

Mrs. Cardinal queuing up for the feeder.

Hairy woodpecker on tree branch.  The woodpeckers were making so much noise pounding away on this tree.

Mr. Cardinal in his spot where we waits for the coast to clear.

When it is safe, the cardinal comes for some seeds.

Hairy woodpecker on suet log.

I used the snow blower for the first time for this winter today.
I was pleasantly surprised when it started and I had just enough gas to clear the driveway.
Winter brings lots of change and I love seeing the birds.
I wonder if the birds love it?

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Luck vs Unity at Luck

Janice and I arrived at the school at about 10 to 6 on Tuesday, thinking we would be about the first ones there, but much to our surprise the parking lots was quite full.  
Luck was playing Unity, one of the closest opponents in terms of proximity, so the fans had really rolled out.  And, we were mistaken about the JV / Girls' Varsity start time, so we were late, thinking we were early.
So, it is fun to have a full gym, not so much for getting our favorite seats on the top row behind the boys' bench, but for the excitement factor of having a loud bunch of fans.
Unity lost their 5 starters last year as they were all seniors, but they have repopulated their team with some very big kids.
It looked to be a runaway, Unity getting ahead by 15 or more, but the Cardinals showed a lot of heart and fought back and with less than 2 minutes to go, we had a 4 point game.  Very exciting for sure.
Great nephew Gage is a freshman who is playing off the bench on the Varsity since there are not many boys on the Varsity.  Great nephew Jack is a Junior and he starts on the Varsity squad.
Near the end, Luck had fouls to give so Jack ended up with 5, not his usual.
It's so fun to see the brothers on the same team and I hope they think it is as special as I do.
Here are a few photos from the game.

Jack on the move

Gage on the Left and Jack on the Right

Gage inbounding

Gage trying for the steal

A three point try by Gage

Gage subbing in for Jack

Jack is a leader on the court

Jack going high on defense

Jack getting on his man

Shot was blocked

Jack in the corner

Jack and the rest of the Cardinals

Time out

Gage takes the 3

Half Time Score
But the Cardinals did not give up.

Jack to the hoop

Jack looks like he is mimicking the cardinal painted on the wall.
Within 4...

Jack gets his 5th foul

The final score.
It was a closer game than what this shows.
 The game ended in favor of Unity, 
but with a few free throws 
and a couple less turnovers, &a three pointer that rimmed out,
it could have been a different ending.  

If, If, If.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

First of many?

This morning the ground was white when I got up.  
I am calling this the first snow of the winter as I had to use shovels.
It was pretty warm so I got busy and pushed the snow off the driveway so that it could melt down to the asphalt before any cars drove on the snow.
I had forgotten that I bought this fun pom pom cap in Colorado.
I like it.
I have a shovel on wheels that works like a little snow plow.
It does a good job and I got a few steps while I was busy.
I haven't fired up the snowblower yet, but those days are coming.
And when the snow is too deep or I don't get to it in time, I have a neighbor who I pay to plow.
So, bring on the many snows.

Friday Night Bleacher Butt

On Friday, I drove to Spring Valley to watch Alyxis play ball.  This year Alyxis is playing about a half with the Junior Varsity and then she is playing quite a bit with the Varsity too.  This means more bleacher time for her fans of course.  
It's a pretty good haul to Spring Valley, but the roads are still dry, no snow in sight, so I have to try to get to as many games as I can until the winter roads set in.

A losing effort for the JV team.

Spring Valley student body.
Great niece Breanna is in the 3rd row, 5th from the left.

Losing effort for the Varsity as well.  No joy.
I'm hoping to see a few more of Alyxis' games, but the school live streams all the home games, so that takes a lot of pressure off.  
Go Cardinals.


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