Monday, June 30, 2008

Meeting a Sweet Blogger Friend

Last Thursday I got to meet a blogger from Erie Pennsylvania. Through reading each other's blogs over the last year or so, Linda from Erie's Argonaut found we had a few things in common. he grew up for the first years of her life in Minnesota and both of our fathers were involved in the Civilian Conservation Corps in Minnesota in the early 1930s. Several weeks ago she emailed and told me that she and her husband Matt were coming to Minneapolis for a work convention. They would be staying in Minneapolis for a few days, then would drive up to Duluth and then onward to northern Michigan as they vacationed on their way home. I was thrilled and quite flattered when she said that they would like to see Hasty Brook while they were in northern Minnesota! We worked out the details and happily Linda had some free time while here in town to do some quick local birding. I've always enjoyed Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden so I picked Linda up and that's where we headed.

My sense of direction notoriously poor, we wound up in a not-so-very-nice part of Minneapolis. Eventually we made it to the Garden. Armed with 30% DEET bug spray and loaded with cameras and binoculars we headed in.

The day was warm and a bit humid. The garden trails led us down along a very wooded and shady path where there was not a breeze to be had.

One of the first birds we heard was this Common Yellowthroat. We stopped for a quick picture and were immediately swallowed in a cloud of mosquitoes. Didn't they read the memo about the effectiveness of 30% DEET? I'm not kidding- the mosquitoes were in my mouth and up my nose. Poor Linda! Well, we moved along the path and caught a quick look at an Indigo Bunting. No pictures of the Bunting, just mad slapping instead.

We did make one more quick photo stop in the bog area for a patch of gorgeous Pink Lady's Slippers. Linda remembered that this is the Minnesota State Flower. I suggested we hustle along the path and head for higher ground. Maybe the air wouldn't be quite so still and the mosquitoes so thick. Linda did not object!

Birds were few but the wildflowers were thick. Any ideas on this one?

Some kind of pea? The foliage was very pretty and about waist high.

Don't know what these are either but the white ones were VERY fragrant.

A variety of (Princess) buttercup?

I liked this short round fern but couldn't identify it in my fern field guide.

A yellow flag iris- finally something I know!

I'm pretty sure this is a Silvery Checkerspot. I didn't pay attention to the undersides of the wings. That would have helped. I took this photo at an odd angle and if I look at it too long it makes me feel tippy.

I'm always so impressed at people's knowledge of dragonflies. I don't have it. I am pretty sure this is a type of damselfly. When I was little we called these sewing needles. One of my brothers told me they would sew your lips shut if you talked too much. That didn't stop me!

Linda and I didn't spend too much more time on the upper trail before we decided to call it quits. So we jumped in the car, said good-bye to the mosquitoes and headed to Starbucks for coffee and a sweet. For me this was the best part of the day. Linda and I spent over two hours talking about our families, our lives and what we believed in. I was comfortable talking to Linda- it was like talking to an old friend. This blogging thing is really quite special. We all make choices of what and how much to reveal about ourselves through our writing. I think it is possible to get a pretty good sense of the person behind the blog. Linda is a gentle woman, kind and generous. I am so happy to call her my friend.

Stop in and visit Linda at Erie's Argonaut next week and read about her vacation.

But wait- there's more...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Playing Catch-Up

Sorry about the sad lack of posts lately, it seems I'm barely able to keep my nose above water with.... well I don't know what exactly, but I've been busy! I'm happy to say we'll be packing up the truck and heading north to Hasty Brook this weekend. I've been up there only twice this year and we haven't spent a night there at all. We'll be restocking the camper with fresh bedding, filling the propane tanks and thoroughly cleaning the water tanks. We'll also be bringing along two sets of loppers and a hand saw to scout out the newly annexed "South Hasty." I'm hoping the ticks are past their peak. Two weeks ago when I was there they were THICK. It seemed the deer ticks out-numbered the wood ticks by about two to one. Ugh.
I don't think I mentioned before that the beavers are back in the creek. I thought I'd seen new evidence of them last fall but two weeks ago I actually saw the pair. Maybe I'll regret their presence as I know they can do a lot of damage, but for now it's their creek and they're fun to watch.
His head is under water.
It's softball season. Molly has played for a community girl's slow pitch league for four summers now. The games are all on weeknights (except for the tournaments) and are all very close to home. I love watching the girls play. It's all about sportsmanship, skills and teamwork. I'll be parked in my chair in the shade tonight, sipping iced tea and snacking on spitters. Ahhh....
I took Molly to the DMV yesterday to take her driver's permit test. There were signs posted THANKING people for "complying with the policy of refraining from profanity and/or violence within the building!!"
We need a policy for that?
We need to thank people for compliance?
The line for the permit test was the same line for reinstatement of driving privileges following a DWI. Every single adult that was getting privileges reinstated argued about the fees. The fees are substantial- but give me a break- if you broke the law, put lives in danger- you're lucky that $$ is the only consequence.
One more rant. After Molly passed her exam (Hurray!) we were sent to yet another line to wait for her actual permit. Behind us in line was a man who must have BATHED in cologne, talking very LOUDLY on his blue tooth phone. For 35 minutes he crammed himself up behind us, yacking without a breath. Now maybe it's a Minnesota thing, but obviously he'd never heard about personal space. Or moderation with his cologne. Or how rude it is to blab at the top of your lungs indoors in a crowded line.
Where are manners? Why do we need a policy prohibiting profanity and violence?
That's all.
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Monday, June 16, 2008

Happy Birthday Art!

It's a big day at our house today. It's Art's 50th birthday and it's also our 18th wedding anniversary. When the priest that married us gave us the dates available he laughed and suggested we take Art's birthday because then Art would never forget our anniversary! We were both 32 years old when we married- older by some standards. We met on a blind date and married in under a year! One of my brothers worked with Art's brother and they set us up. We met in July, were engaged at Christmas and married in June. I guess at 32 we just knew what we wanted. I could not be luckier.
Happy Birthday and Anniversary to my best friend.
I've been a bit missing in blogging these last few weeks. Working a lot of night shifts really wipes me out. Good news on that front though, I should be moving to days pretty soon. I was offered a part time position in the Hematology and Blood Bank departments and will move to days as soon as my replacement is trained. Yahooo!!
Also- big news about Hasty Brook. For a while now Art and I have been thinking about buying more property connecting to Hasty Brook. We own 10 acres now with the Hasty Brook running through it. Because Hasty Brook is a designated trout stream, there is a DNR imposed 150 foot setback for disrupting the land all along the creek. The creek curves across the land about half way between the road and the back of the land (no road access at the back half). The ten acres we have now does not have enough room for a building site on the road half. Over the winter we found out the name of the owner of the 10 acres to our south and wrote them asking if they were interested in selling. Within a week we got a letter back with an asking price $5000 less than we were planning to offer! Molly and I drove to Duluth last week with our check and signed off with a lawyer that we hired to handle the transaction. We're waiting for a call from him early this week letting us know that he has the title and the 10 acres to our south will be ours! I'm thrilled! As soon as the deal is final, I'll be contacting folks at the county up there (St. Louis County) to look in to choosing a building site. I've all ready found the cabin plans that we like so we're hoping that next summer we might be starting a cabin at Hasty Brook.
It's been a dream of mine for so long.
Someone pinch me.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Compass Set for North

We packed the van and hit the road Friday evening. It was about a three hour drive to my brother Phil's lake home north of Brainerd. He and his wife Mary are retired and live in a beautiful home that they bought as a cabin years ago. It's gone through a few metamorphosis since then and it's now a lovely home that they opened to us. Another retired brother Charlie and his wife Michele were there for the weekend as well. It had been such a long time since we'd had a happy get-together, too many sad occasions this last year. This weekend was so good for me. It was good for us all, I think. We played card and dice games, watched movies, looked through old photographs and retold family stories. Lots of laughter and for me, a just a few tears. We talked lots about Dad and Mom and Phyllis. They would have loved the weekend. I could feel them smile.
I did get to do some birding too. We took two pontoon boat rides and I got a few nice pictures of the loons on the lake. I actually took 64 loon pictures to get maybe four that were keepers. I like the water droplets on this loon's head. If you look carefully you can see his red eye. Listening to the loons at night is a Minnesota experience that we like to think you will not find any where else.

I spied three loon nests on the lake. Trust me that we stayed a respectful distance away.

Water temps were in the high fifties but that didn't stop Molly and John from dipping in for some fun.

We had a fabulous view of a huge thunderstorm coming across the lake. You can see the line of wind rippling the calm water as it moved toward us. No damage at their place but the same weather system brought good sized hail to New Hope. Sadly, my new-to-me, used car got some dings. Ah well, life is short. I'm not going to be bothered by hail dents.

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