Monday, June 30, 2014

It's time to hit the trails!

This is how our meadow/orchard acreage up beyond the creek looks in its natural state:
Apple trees, pine trees of various kinds and lots of weeds and very tall grass.  And guess who's hanging out on and around that very tall grass?  Wood ticks...lots of some visitors of ours recently found out. 

So we decided on this beautiful day that it was time to go up there and mow the trails.  Now the above scene looks like this:

We, actually Leann, is able to do this using a walk-behind brush mower.  She makes it look pretty easy but she's always just as happy when the gas runs out and it needs to cool off for a while.  But she's also very pleased with how they look when it's done!  Me too!

Above is another section of trail before mowing and after mowing below.  The little bird houses were gifts to Leann from her students when she retired.  This one says, "Miss Hess."

Below is one of our trail markers that we place where the trails intersect with each other.  We also have maps in the making.

 One of my favorite spots!  A bench to stop and take it all in.

 And what do I do for this project?  I run the SAG wagon!  I have cold water, extra supplies for the mower, and I watch for bears!  Well, not really...we haven't seen a bear around here all summer.  Mostly I think I'm there for moral support and keeping the "wagon" near where she's cutting.

And back at the house...we had these crazy winds all morning and afternoon.  These two poplar trees fell down this morning in all the wind.  We also saw another huge tree blown down in town.
But...other than trees falling down around us, it was a BEAUTIFUL day!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

An afternoon at the Port Wing Heritage Hall

Today I did my first shift for this summer, staffing our museum from 1-4pm when it's open to the public.  This museum came to be back in 2001 following the big Port Wing Centennial celebration.  They had collected so many items for the Centennial displays and then decided they should build a museum to permanently house those treasures.  So, lots of volunteer hours and $40,000 in donations later, they had a museum...and lending library!

Behind the museum you can also visit the old Port Wing jail and also what they call the "Booth Building" which housed a commercial fishing operation at one time.  Both of those buildings were moved to this location.  Also inside the Booth Building is a miniature replica of the town as it looked in the early 1900's.  Pretty fun!

We are very fortunate to have a talented and hard-working curator, Soney Rockenbach, who has spent the last 13 years organizing and recording all of the donated items, and setting up thoughtfully arranged displays by topic and category.

It's nice when people can feel confident in those running the museum to trust them with their family treasures.  There are LOTS of items from the Larson family farm taking up space here!

The sign on this chair says, "Parlor chair from the home of Fred & Regina Larson."  And,
"Fred Larson was the first homesteader to move his family to Port Wing."  

This is the carding bench and carding brushes from our farm.

Lots of old toys, some from our old house.

Nice displays with informative captions and signs.

Lots of family histories in these notebooks!  Each family has contributed their stories and memories of family members to the contents of these notebooks.  What a treasure for a little town!

And below is the Lending Library corner.  This is run on the honor system and has been cared for all these years by my friend, Sandy.  Today, since I was going to be there for a few hours, she mentioned that I could help her weed out the old stuff so it can go to the flea market fundraiser for the museum next weekend.  So I was back "reading shelves"--putting the shelves in alphabetical order, and weeding per her criteria--anything older than 10 years old or any duplicates.  When everything is donated, and there isn't an abundance of shelf space, it could get to be kind of a conglomeration over time.  So clearing up the old stuff in time for the flea market leaves room for new donations in the future.  And I felt like I was "back on the job" again!  Thanks, Sandy!

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Saturday Market & a visit from the "neigh"bors!

Today was the third Saturday Market of this summer.  We had guests here so Leann waited until after we served breakfast to go down there with our "treasures."  Everyone--vendors and customers--was pretty enthusiastic today because the sun was shining and they didn't have to wear their winter clothes to stay warm!  In fact, there was this weird mix of a warm blast of moist, humid air from the south one minute, and a cold Lake "breeze" from the north the next.  But overall, much warmer that the last two Saturdays!

The selection of produce is getting larger every week.  Rhubarb and lettuce has expanded to varieties of radishes, beets, kohlrabi, and onions.  What will next week bring?

A plethora of hens & chicks, next to the artwork and fresh eggs.

Little "hobbits" made from items from nature and lots of hand-made rugs

 Some of our "treasures" - most will be added to the Historical Society's Flea Market nest weekend.

 Right next to the pavilion a 4-H group was doing a freewill donation carwash.

This afternoon I checked the SD card from our wildlife camera, currently pointed at our front garden,  and this is what I found:

The "neigh"bors stopped by for a look at the garden.  They must have just been passing through, because they left no sign they were there--not even a deposit we could have used to amend the soil!

6:27am...I guess I need to get up earlier to greet our guests!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Fields & ditches are full of colors!

Our field in front of our house is full of colors!

These flowers probably have other names, but for me the white ones are daisies, the yellow are buttercups, and the red ones are hawkweed.  

When I exclaimed about all these buttercups today, I was reminded that probably all of these flowers are weeds of some kind.  But I like them.  The daisies remind me of a June weekend back when I was much younger--junior high maybe--and my cousin, Charlotte, and I were combing the ditches and fields here in the area, picking daisies for my Uncle Oscar & Aunt Alice's big anniversary party in the church basement--their 50th or 60th, can't remember which.  We had lots of daisies for lots of table bouquets!

In late May this field is usually full of another noxious weed, but, yes, I love seeing all the dandelions, least when they are in their yellow phase.  And now we get to have horses in the background!  Below is the new little colt that was born back in April.  So cute!

We finally got some rain tonight after about a week with nothing.  Summer is still avoiding us!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

June Port Wing Community Band Concert - chilly to watch but warmly received

Tonight we put on the first of our Port Wing Community Band summer band concerts & ice cream socials.  When Tom--one of the charter members & tuba player--gave the introduction tonight, I learned that this group first got together to play for a school talent show.  That was ten or more (I think) years ago, and they've been going ever since.  I started playing my French Horn with the band about four years ago.  It's definitely more fun now that we are living here and don't have to wonder if we'll be here for the August concert or not!

I'm not sure how many players participated those first few years, but usually there is at least one person for each that wasn't a very big band back then.  Someone counted chairs tonight and we are up to 21 with the director, Jody (who is also the school band director...we are so lucky to have her!)  We are also fortunate to have five students playing with us, and most have been there every year for the last four or more years.  UNfortunately, four of those students will be going off to college in the fall.  In honor of them, we played Pomp and Circumstance as one of our pieces tonight. They don't seem to mind playing with the old(er) folks and they add so much to the group.  We are excited to have several new people this year--another French horn player (yay!), another trumpet player (and Port Wing student), and you might be able to see the oboe (that looks like a violin) in the front row.  And we can already hear what having the oboe part adds to the sound of the group!

But it was chilly tonight--49˚!  They set up the chairs so most of us could be in the sun when the concert started at 7, but by the time it was over, everyone was feeling the chill!  Especially after the ice cream sundaes!  It brought me back to marching band season in the fall in high school and those cold early morning practices out on the football field.

We ended the concert with our traditional last song.  Yes, you guessed it--Stars and Stripes Forever with Beth playing the piccolo part.  Love it!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

A foggy day in Bayfield County

After an errand-filled trip to Ashland today, we played tourist on our way home, driving through Washburn and on up to Bayfield on the peninsula.  Besides seeing what we could see, we had one intentional stop in Bayfield--going to the Apostle Island Booksellers book store.  They had a 20% off coupon in the summer issue of Grapevine, the newspaper for the Chequamegon Food Co-op in Ashland.  Leann bought the newest Nevada Barr mystery, Destroyer Angel.  Her books usually take place in a U.S. national park since Anna Pigeon, main character, is a U.S. Park ranger.  This time, though, she is on vacation in the Minnesota Iron Range!

We knew there would be a detour on the road back to Cornucopia going around some construction sites, so we went up the hill to all the apple orchards on our way to our favorite backroad tour back through the woods.
The warm front to the south of our area, which was causing some dangerous weather near the town of Siren, was meeting up with the still-chilly temps coming off Lake Superior, creating some really cool fog around the edges.  Lots of lupines everywhere!

The sign below is located at a key intersection up on the top of the hill.  We especially like the bottom sign, "Still lost? Consider letting someone else drive."  Imagine hundreds of cars of people in and around Apple Festival weekend in Bayfield (first weekend in October), all driving this maze of roads going to all the apple orchards.  I'm sure there are a LOT of lost people up on those roads!
Go left and you go back to Bayfield; go right and where you end up depends on how many turns you take.  And that was our problem the first time we chose the right turn.  Our blacktop road became gravel which became a dirt road, but about 20 miles later we found ourselves right outside of Cornucopia!  Since that first trip, it's become a favorite drive of ours - Star Route Drive.

 When we got back home, we realized this was the first delivery day for our Chequamegon CSA.  We drove to the pickup point and retrieved our box for this week which included: Swiss chard, rhubarb, Bibb lettuce, chives, and a jar of mixed berry jam.  They always include a newsletter with recipes so we already tried the recipe for chive vinaigrette.
Swiss chard and CSAs have become a joke for us.  Younger Daughter was just telling me that she belonged to a CSA when she lived in South Bend and got tired of all the Swiss chard every week.  We'll see if this becomes an every week thing!

By the way, lots of things around here have taken the Chequamegon name, probably because of the huge Chequamegon-Nicollet National Forest here in this area.  It's pronounced as "she-wa-me-gon."  Q is silent.  Took me YEARS to learn how to spell it!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Project Monday - Rain gutters, rain barrel & clothesline poles!

A couple weeks ago I wrote about going to buy all the parts for our new clothesline poles.  We had asked they guys who built our house if they would set them up the same time they added rain gutters to our garage so we could set up our new rain barrel.

Well, today became "Project Monday!"  The projects included: the rain gutters, set up rain barrel, cement in the clothesline poles, and replace one freaky board on our deck...
Out of all the boards that make up our back deck, this one seemed to have a mind of its own.  You can see it was screwed into the supports below, but the "curl" was strong enough to pull out the screws.  And when the weather is warmer, it curls even more!  Then back down in the winter.  We placed a potted tomato plant next to it, but one of us...still managed to trip over it.  So now it is all fixed!

We didn't really need rain gutters on this side of the garage except for our wish to have a rain barrel for watering plants, and there didn't seem to be a better spot for it.

And here it is!  The wagon wheel was something we found in the weeds with all the other old farm equipment.

And here are the clothesline poles.  The don't look very tall but they are 6 feet high and 3 feet down in the ground.  The one that was left over at the old house was six feet high, so we went with that for this one.  And they are 22 feet apart..that's a set of sheets, pillowcases, and maybe more per line.  Jeff took the cross pieces to drill holes for the eye-hooks.  The coated wire will lace through the eye-hooks.  In this picture it looks a little crooked but they tipped them out just a smidge so when the tension pulls them in over the years, they will eventually be straight.
Can't wait to hang up a load of clothes!  Almost as fun as mowing the grass.  Really!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Next year: Raspberries!

Last week we created a spot to plant raspberries.  Before even the bed was finished and filled with dirt, I started searching online and local greenhouses for raspberry plants.  And I found out that the middle of June is NOT the time to be looking for raspberries.  Not a plant to be found.

But then, on Leann's drive to Mayo Hospital in Rochester with her sisters earlier this week (more on this later), she stopped at our friends J & H in Bloomington (MN) and guess who had raspberry bushes that needed to be thinned out?  So they gave us 12 raspberry plants!  (Thank you!)

Yesterday we got them planted after selling at the Saturday Market in the morning, attending the Swedish Midsommer Fest at church around noon, and then my cousins' 50th wedding anniversary party later in the afternoon.  (It was a big day!)  

Then today Leann put down straw around the plants and mulched the rows.  Now we just have to keep them from trying to grow berries this summer so they will be ready next year.

Update on Kristi:  The news was very good this time.  Her eight weeks of chemo made the spots of cancer in her lungs all but disappear, and partially shrunk the other nodes in her pelvis.  So she's starting up 8 more weeks of chemo tomorrow and then will be checked again at the end of August.  And based on everything the doctors could see, the one doctor who was so pessimistic last time said she would have "many more years" to live.  So, thank you from Kristi and her family to all of you for you prayers and positive thoughts!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Midsommer Fest at First Lutheran

A couple years ago First Lutheran Church here in town began the tradition of celebrating the first day of summer--Midsommer Dag--on the Saturday closest to the actual midsummer day.  And today the celebration and the actual day coincided.

Those in charge plan the day in the spirit of our Scandinavian (mostly Swedish) ancestors who founded the town and the church back in the late 1890's.  It gives everyone a chance to get out all their Swedish decorations and dress up the place in blue and yellow.  

We began the morning with a worship service officiated by our Paster Nancy and former Pastor James Kasperson.  Their theme centered around the thought: If you want peace, then work for justice, and at the end of the service we received an "action card" with a list of things to show justice for Mother Earth on one side and thoughts on how we can work for justice for humans on the other side.  It was a very nice service with LOTS of people attending...even on a Saturday!

Following the service was the Smorgasbord--or Smörgåsbord.  I'm not sure if all of these foods would be recognized as Swedish by people in Sweden today, but they are all a part of our childhood as children of Swedish parents.

The menu included Swedish meatballs (of course), scalloped potatoes, homemade baked beans, pickled herring, cucumbers & onions in vinegar, pickled beets, ham rolls, cheese and vasabrod, my cousin Rollin's homemade Swedish limpa rye, and more pickles...and strawberry shortcake for dessert.  Do you get the idea that pickling was really important to their food storage needs back then??

It was delicious!  They also held a raffle with a few handmade items that people could buy tickets for and put the tickets in the container next to what they would like to win.
The items included a bluebird house with a succulent garden on top, a cool piece of garden art that was made with the impression of a rhubarb leaf...a BIG one!, Also a replica immigrant chest, also made by my cousin Rollin, and rosemaled by our neighbor down the road. and Leann donated the blue and yellow quilt.

And later today we learned that Leann's name was drawn for the chest and our friends just delivered it!

A really touching part of the event for me came at the end when two sisters and their brother sang a couple hymns.  They are all longtime members of the church and would often sing together in the past.  One of the songs they sang was "Children of the Heavenly Father."  That song has meaning for me because my Dad would often sing that song in Swedish.  I looked online and found the words and a link to a choir of young people singing the first two verses in Swedish and the rest in English.  Good memories and a fun day!

And now we have friends here for a Summer Solstice bonfire!