Sunday, July 27, 2014

A digital gift and a natural beauty

If you have "liked" our B&B Facebook page, you may have seen the picture below that I posted today. We received it in an email message from our recent guest, Wendy Murkve, who, along with her husband, Jeff, stayed with us this week while they were kayaking on the Lake.  I haven't asked her how she made it, but I think it's so cool.  And she did it on her iPad while they were driving home!  I saw her out taking pictures, but I never expected to see something like this.  Thanks, Wendy!

So, that was our digital beauty, and now here is a natural beauty.
We have been looking all over our small forest of milkweed plants for signs of a chrysalis from all our caterpillars.  Finally the cucumber patch...attached to a little plastic trellis...a CHRYSALIS!  I just can't believe those little gold dots around the ridge.  It looks like jewelry!  The dewdrops are extra.
Still more caterpillars...of all sizes.

And tonight up in the meadow on one of our trails, we came to the scene below.  It's a patch of milkweed with pink flowers in front and a bigger patch of as-yet-unidentified weeds with white flowers in the back.  It was stunning in the sun but not quite as stunning on the screen.  Maybe we'll try again tomorrow night.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Finding our thrill on Blueberry [Hill]

The word is out.  The blueberries are ready to pick.  Now we just have to find the secret blueberry patch!  We heard from friends, who heard from friends, about a new blueberry patch, so we all went looking for it this morning.  Here are the blueberry pickers, a scene repeated all over the backroads in the area.
Cue the mosquitoes, although they weren't too bad today.  And no bears.

Here is an small area of the patch with the little purple bits of blueberry goodness:

And in the middle of the blueberries was this little patch of lichen that Leann called British Soldiers and John called Matchstick Lichen.  John also found some wintergreen leaves and he picked some fronds from a fern that had a distinctive aroma.

And then we left the first patch to go home, but found another patch with even more berries.  They aren't visible in this picture, but it was a mass of blueberries!

And here they are, ready for the freezer and future muffins and pies!

And then we helped John celebrate his July 22nd birthday at the Pizza Parlor in Iron River.
 What a great day!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Celebrating with Lake Superior

This picture is from earlier this month, but it looked like this tonight, too, since there is a storm coming.  It was possibly the hottest day all summer, up to 95˚ out on our deck, and very "soupy" (humid) outside.  We drove down to the lake tonight where it was still 85˚ at 8pm, saw some friends in wading, so we joined them.  And I actually tried the wading part with the water still around 50˚!  Cooled me right down, for sure!

But tonight I was going to show some pictures from Lake Superior Days this weekend.  The one exhibit that was going on both Saturday and Sunday was the Quilt Show, and that might be the part that we spent the most time on last week.  Here are some of the quilts on display:

Leann made the "Bugs & Creatures" quilt below.  Bugs on the fabrics and bugs and creatures in the quilt.

There were also displays of art and science projects from the school here and from the Iron River National Fish Hatchery.

Other events happening away from the Town Hall included a Power Boat Wash down by the lake, a visit on a Coast Guard Rescue boat, and a tour of Everett Fisheries where they smoke all the yummy trout, salmon, chubs and more that you can buy at Johnson's Store.  We took the tour a couple years ago and it was really interesting.  I guess we were otherwise occupied this year for some of these events.

Two main events on Sunday was the "bird talk" presentation by Laura Erickson.  She told us about her "Big Year" of birding and the 200+ pictures she showed were all birds she saw within a mile or two of Lake Superior, many of them right here in and around Port Wing. 

Below is Leann presenting Laura with a bird quilt that Leann made.

And here are some of Laura's suggested birding books, including her book, For the Birds, from a few years ago.

 And First Lutheran Church served lunch--sloppy joes, potato salad, beans, watermelon--and PIE!  

And the final event was the Michael Monroe concert at 2pm.  He has a guitar--electronic, digital, you name it--that is amazing and the things he can do with it is even more amazing!  It was a great way to wrap up the weekend.

It all kind of brought home to me that summer is half over.  Maybe sometimes you can be TOO busy!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

You blink and a week has passed by!

I was right.  It WAS a busy week with B&B guests, visiting cousins from Missouri and Kansas, and all kinds of preparations leading up to Lake Superior Days yesterday and today.  The days and evenings went by so fast and nothing was posted to the blog! So here are some of the highlights:
First, stringing ropes around the entire Town Hall to get ready to hang quilts for the upcoming Quilt Show.  Then on Wednesday, all the quilts arrived.  It was quite a process!

Here is the start.  More photos coming tomorrow when I post other weekend pictures.

Leann picked strawberries at Johnson's Berry Farm, then we made two batches of strawberry jam...and strawberry shortcake for my cousins, strawberries and ice cream, and still more strawberries in the fridge!  

And the garden is growing.  I never noticed how pretty potato blossoms are.  These are from the Kennebecs, the lavender ones below are from the Red Pontiacs, and the Yukon Golds aren't blooming yet.  

 We mowed the final loop on our trails because my cousins were hiking them in the mornings.  It wasn't until the last day that they noticed the presence of wood ticks on their shoes and clothing.  Nothing attached though so they should be okay.

We're still on Monarch Watch and taking note of all the caterpillars on the milkweed plant.  No chysalis[es] yet though.  

Brought the cousins to Village Inn in Cornucopia for dinner and checked out Siskiwit Falls after dinner.  Unfortunately, as soon as I led them down the bank to see the rest of the falls, Leann saw a bear cross the road behind us.  Oh, well, just missed that one!

Not sure what was happening at the marina tonight, but that is a person at the top of that mast repairing something.  I don't know how he got up there, but Leann saw that he was tethered to it somehow.  

And finally, here is our neighbor walking on water.  Okay, he's on his stand-up paddleboard.  He paddles every day on one of the bodies of water connecting to Lake Superior, or on Lake Superior itself.  He's really sold on paddling as a great way to stay healthy and connect with nature.  I think I'd be IN the water...often...
Tomorrow: Highlights of Lake Superior Days

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Looking ahead to a busy week

Our busy week will begin tomorrow by going to pick strawberries at Johnson's Berry Patch, if the weather holds out, of course.  I'm sure this seems late for strawberries to those of you "in the south," which is anywhere south of here, but they just started picking last Monday so the season has begun.

Then we have B&B guests, followed by several days of my visiting cousins from Kansas City, MO and other locations in Kansas.  We haven't spent much time with them since the summer of 2000, and that was for a family memorial service for my Aunt Corrine and cleaning out her house.  So, the setting will be different this time!  They have some "tourist-y" things planned, such as the glass-bottom boat in Bayfield and charter fishing on Lake Superior.  Again, hoping that the weather is good.

Also this week are preparations leading up to celebrate Lake Superior Days next weekend.  This event was begun by some people in Thunder Bay, Ontario, back in the 1990's to celebrate and feature Lake Superior for the ever-present influence it has in the lives of people around the lake.  We will have some exhibits and tours on Saturday, and on Sunday we will have a presentation by Laura Erickson, expert on birds, and a 2pm concert by Michael Monroe. So much of this week will be preparing for events next weekend, including creating lots of signage and preparing a system of ropes on the walls of the Town Hall for the quilt show of quilts by local quilters.  And First Lutheran Church is selling pie again!

In the meantime, our gardens are finally growing!  Here are some pictures from last week.  Again, keep in mind we are living in the north and we haven't had warm weather for very long.
Tomato plants surrounded by beets and lettuce.  

Our potato patch, now with blossoms!

Carrots finally showing up, cucumbers slower than slow, and a strip of lettuce.  I already picked all the radishes on this end and replanted yesterday.

 Green beans and peas, or what's left after the crows (I think) pulled out the seedlings.  Some of those had to be replanted, so progress will be variable.

Green peppers and our eggplant experiment, with beets around the outside.  I think the eggplants might even grow...a little...

Green peppers on top and herbs below.  Look at that parsley!

And our crazy onions.  We have to pick some just to thin them out. 
A nice problem to have at this time of year!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Monarchs are back!

Yes, the Monarchs are back.  Actually, we've seen a Monarch butterfly flying around here and there already, but today I saw one on the blooming milkweeds, so I'm counting that as the start of the season!
And if you look real close to the right of the butterfly, you can see the other reason I'm counting this as the start of the Monarch season...see the caterpillar on the chewing on the leaf?

Here it is a little closer...

And closer still but the butterfly flew away.  Now we'll watch for the appearance of the chrysalis.   I'll have to look up the Monarch Watch website so we can do our reporting.

Today was Saturday Market day again, and today we brought some actual produce--onions--white & red, lettuce, and herbs--summer savory, basil, two kinds of thyme, and oregano.  And we still had some of our "fleas" from the flea market last week.  And best of all, we got rid of several of those "fleas" that have been taking up space in our lives.  Yes!  One of the vendors had beets and carrots already.  He must have started them in heated garden beds!  And now they say it's going to get unseasonably cold again, just when we were starting to make some forward garden progress!  

Friday, July 11, 2014

First laundry hung outside but what's with the clothespins?

The day began with a nice rainstorm and I assumed I wouldn't be hanging up any laundry outside after our guests left this morning.  But the rain stopped and there was no colorful radar showing in the area on the computer, so I put the first load in the wash, even though it was still pretty cloudy.

I hauled the laundry basket out with the clothespin bag (remember those?), and prepared to hang up the first (white) sheet.  I picked the first clothespin out of the bag and started to slide it over the corner of the sheet...and then I remembered where those clothespins have been for the last almost 25 years--either in an old dusty basement or out hanging in the old garage.  I g-e-n-t-l-y just touched it to the corner of the damp sheet and saw that it was going to leave a dirty mark on it.  Glad I checked!  So I brought the bag of clothespins inside and dumped them all in a laundry tub full of water and soap, and they soaked all day!  Luckily we had an unopened package of clothespins, probably meant for some craft project like the clothespin reindeer.  You all know about clothespin reindeer, don't you?  
So here are some of them drying after soaking all day.  The water was the color of coffee so, yuck!  Notice those with the reinforcing wire around them.  Those are really old!  And there aren't many of the kind with the spring that you pinch onto the line.  My mother's hands always were so arthritic so she could never use that kind.  Funny how those things come back while doing something mindless like this.  It was kind of a Zen activity!

So I got two loads washed and hung up. But, alas, just when I was feeling so good about NOT using the dryer today for two 40-minute drying times, a little mist in the air late this afternoon convinced me to bring in the still-damp clothes inside and, you guessed it, finish them off in the dryer.  As my mother would have said, "It wasn't a very good drying day!"

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Finally...a clothesline! And what's "Welcome to Sweden" all about?

This will be a two-topic post, but I need to start with our completed clothesline!  You may remember, we had the upright posts for our clothesline installed a couple weeks ago.  Our carpenter took all the remaining parts home so he could drill the holes in the cross pieces that the coated wire would thread through.  And all the parts came together finally today!
We had a complicated assortment of hardware selected for us at the hardware store to connect the coated wire to the posts.  Fortunately, Leann and Dustin who was helping us got it all figured out.  The lines are nice and tight and ready for wet sheets and towels tomorrow...if it doesn't rain!

And the new clothesline was my big event of the day, and then I turned on the TV tonight.  What was on?  A new show..."Welcome to Sweden."  I had heard about it, Amy Poehler has something to do with producing it. But I could only wonder how weird this was going to be.  I think it's based on someone's real experiences going to live in Sweden with his Swedish girlfriend, but you never know what they will do for the sake of getting a laugh.  And now I see that it has already been airing in Sweden.

I wasn't really paying attention to the show because too many other things were going on, and then I looked up and saw them all sitting around a table eating...kräftor! And suddenly it was September, 1979, and I was back in Ludvika, Sweden, visiting my cousins Rutger and Pia, and sitting around their table enjoying kräftor or crayfish Swedish style!  As I remember, it was a seasonal delicacy enjoyed in August and September.
And they were delicious, if not a little messy.  So I'm still not sure how this TV show will be, but I could relate to at least one small part of tonight's show! And I discovered a new Swedish language/culture blog in the process of posting this!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Getting ready to say good-bye

Some things just don't last forever.

This is what our cherry trees looked like back in May, 2013--beautiful and full of blossoms.

And this is what the same cherry trees looked like last July, 2013--full of cherries, a bumper crop, in fact.

But then, as soon as all the cherries were picked--by us or the birds, all of the leaves fell off the branches, WAY too early in August!  We should have been wondered what was going on back then.

Because this is how these same cherry trees look this year--so very sad!  We waited and waited for any buds, blossoms or signs of life to appear, but nothing.  Was it the horrible winter or were they just too old and tired?  My cousin is 71 and he remembers them being there as long as he can remember.  It's still so weird that they would all die together.  Perhaps it was a pact?

But there is life growing underneath those old trees--all those bright green shoots are volunteer cherry trees.

And these skinny little trees below, full of little green cherries, were also once volunteer shoots.

But it still will be hard to see them go when our friend, Gregory, comes to take them down, reducing them to firewood or maybe some other creative ends!