Sunday, August 31, 2014

Brats, bands and blue ribbons!

Well, this is it!  The BIG Labor Day weekend in Port Wing, Wisconsin.  On Saturday we had the 56th Annual Fish Boil put on all these years by the Port Wing Baseball Club.  And on Sunday--today--we had the 63rd Annual South Shore Lions Club Fall Festival put on, of course, by the Lions Club.

Here's a scene from the Fish Boil--5 or 6 big iron pots in which they cook the trout or white fish, potatoes, whole onions and spices.   They drizzle melted butter over all of that on your plate, and add coleslaw and rye bread.  It's pretty yummy, I think, but sometimes waiting in the line to get the tickets to get in makes it easy to bypass it for another year...and that's what we did yesterday.  See the line below.  I know, no stamina!

But today was the Fall Festival and not-so-daunting lines.  The Lions sell brats, hotdogs, and corn, and the fire department sells hamburgers and pop.  And then there's beer on the side, of course.  And First Lutheran Church sells pieces of pie with ice cream!  We brought blueberry and pecan pies.

Somehow we are able to get the University of Minnesota-Duluth (UMD) marching band to come to our celebration to add to the fun.  They did a short performance right outside the Town Hall and then marched in the parade later.  One of our high school 2014 graduates was supposed to be playing with them today but for some reason the freshman weren't with the group today.

The parade begins at 2pm and we always have good seats right in front of Hoth-Lee Gallery.  It takes a while to get everyone lined up so below is the American Legion color guard waiting for the high sign to begin.

Here is a car full of four of our long-time residents of Port Wing.  Notice the nicknames.  It seems like just about every male over the age of 40 has a nickname, probably given to them from something they did in their younger days.  Sometimes if you need to know someone's real first name, other people really have to think about it because the nicknames are so a part of them.

Then come the Port Wing fire engines and emergency vehicles--today there were about five of them.  Every entry throws candy, even to old parade-watchers like us!

This vehicle was purchased using funds gathered from the raffle tickets sold at the Fish Boil and other fundraisers.  (We won $10 in the raffle, by the way, and a cooler!)  This vehicle is used to fight fires and respond to emergencies up in the woods and out in the boonies where trucks sometimes can't go.  Always happy to support the fire fighters and EMTs!  And may they NOT ever have to come to see us!

UMD Marching Bulldogs again.  Don't you love bands?

Along with the Port Wing FD, we also get to see emergency vehicles from the other area towns--Iron River, Herbster and Cornucopia--two or three from each town!  You just hope nothing bad happens in the time it takes for the parade to pass by!

 And did I mention Blue Ribbons?  Another event on Fall Festival day is the Garden Club Flower Show.  Leann tried some entries this year and we even got some winners.   This flower arrangement below earned a 3rd place or white ribbon.

 Those are tiny Tansy flowers in a tiny coffee pot and the pink ones are some other little weed in the tiny cups.  This, of course, is the Miniature category and she got another 3rd place.

And as an afterthought, we entered our little cactus in the Succulent category and it earned a Blue Ribbon!  The original stem fell off of our 3-foot-tall cactus, so I stuck it in some water and it rooted.  And now it's become a prize winner!

And finally, this was the entry from the Museum and Historical Society, and this will be the next big event that I'll be writing about.  Smorgasbord--Swedish meatballs, ham, turkey, potatoes, gravy, all kinds of salads and desserts.  Saturday, October 11 - Y'all come!

And tomorrow is September?  Not possible!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Parks and Recreation and Weeding?

To my surprise, we now have the start of a park up in the meadow/orchard behind our house.  You may remember, or maybe you've seen it, previously we had several trails leading through areas of grass and weeds as tall as I am.

But then Leann had an idea.  She talked to Carl, a neighbor up the road who has a tractor and brush-hog, and now we have the start of a park!
He said he could get it down shorter, but it's pretty tough since it hasn't been mowed--or tilled--in over 50 years.  This used to be a field where they grew crops until farming stopped and it went wild with apple trees and weeds.

I told him we'd call him back for another go at it next year, and he suggested doing it in July before all the weeds go to seed.  As it was, he said, he was really just spreading seeds yesterday...and not the good kind!
I was driving around in our 4-wheeler while he was working, but without our defined trails, I got pretty disoriented.  We still have our little numbered markers, but the trails are blended into the whole mowed area.  Of course, now we can drive wherever we want and don't need the trails!  I hope we don't get lost!
I know Leann is already planning how she's going to mow up closer to the apple trees and REALLY get the "park" looking nice!

And speaking of looking nice, our little post office was moved to its new building on Washington Street sometime in the early 1980's.  At the time my father was newly retired here and offered his landscaping expertise and his labor to landscape the south side of the building by the parking lot.  

Fast forward to summer, 2014.  The USPS has cut the hours of our post office so it's only open noon to 4pm weekdays and a couple hours Saturday morning.  Our postmistress had to cram more work into fewer hours (surprise, surprise!) and the weeds were taking over.
So we went down there today and took a first stab at cleaning it up a little.  After just a half hour, a small section was cleared out, a giant weed/tree was whacked out of a good tree, and the back end of Cammie was full of brush!

Just a little less shaggy but we'll be back...with a broom next time!
Don't you just love black-eyed Susans?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Insects, harvests and a Mystery Trip!

I can't believe I'm saying this, but there really hints that fall is in the air.  Besides the cold, damp weather we are having, a couple maples in our backyard are getting a faint gold tinge to the leaves, and the hummingbirds are sucking up sugar water at the rate of a cup every amount that would have lasted almost a week earlier this summer.

And on the subject of hummingbirds, what was that other hovering "thing" hanging around our petunias?  It was a hummingbird moth, otherwise known as a hummingbird hawk-moth. Leann noticed them while sitting at her computer the other day and snapped these pictures.

The article linked above call these "day-flying moths" and that's when she took these pictures, but usually we see these in the evenings when it's almost dark.

And more about insects, that second chysalis we had been watching never produced a monarch.  We think it may have gotten too warm in the summer savory plant it chose to hang from and cooked.  Leann found another one today, though, hanging from the bottom board of our siding.
It's right near the other one that didn't make it, so we'll see.

August is a great harvest month.  Yesterday we made the first batch of "best ever luncheon pickles," a fresh relish of cucumbers, onions, green & red peppers that you keep in the fridge.  Today I canned three quarts of beet pickles.  And yesterday we harvested all the onions where the tops had fallen over and were shriveling up.  So now we have red, white and yellow onions drying in the garage...because there is no sun outside and it might not be back outside for a while.  Yes, the garage smells a little pungent!

And finally, the Mystery Trip.  Last week sometime Leann talked me and a couple of our friends into taking a Mystery Trip this week.  Tonight was the night and the only clues I got from her was that it was about 37 miles south of here.  Turns out the destination was the town of Lake Nebagamon--a little town on a nice inland lake.  Below is the deck of the Waterfront Bar & Grill where we ate dinner and enjoyed the lake.

 But I think the real reason for her wanting to trek to Lake Nebagamon was to make a stop at the Dairy Queen!  It's located in an ideal spot for doing summer business--right near the lake and all the young kids swimming there.  The joint was jumping!

And then we made our way back home in time to see the sunset over our favorite Lake Superior.

Who is going to plan the next Mystery Trip?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Retirement...again, and picts around the farm

It's all I can do NOT to begin these blog posts in a Keillor-esque manner..."It's been a quiet week in Lake...," and while I think it, so far I haven't actually done it.  But during most weeks, it actually is REALLY quiet!  Several of our recent guests have commented on it--quiet, serene, restful--so if that's the product we're selling, I guess we're doing our job!

Today we had the privilege of celebrating the [second] retirement of our friend and mechanic, Carri, down at the Town Hall with all of her friends.  Carri retired several years ago from teaching auto mechanics at two of the area technical colleges, and since that retirement has gone on to be our go-to person for ALL engine repairs--cars, boats, mowers, ATVs, whatever you've got, she can repair it!  

A year ago at this time, she announced that she was retiring from doing repairs; she even put an announcement in the newspaper.  She wanted to spend more time with the things and people she loves--daughters, granddaughters, friends, and airplanes! That was last year, but why was her yard still full of everyone's cars, boats, etc. etc?  (The word "no" is missing from her vocabulary!)

So THIS TIME her daughters held a surprise retirement party for her, hoping that will help make this retirement thing stick the second time around.  It was a great celebration with lots of her loyal friends from town, and we feel blessed to be a part of that group.  Of course, I pulled my phone/camera out of my pocket and it was dead, so I'm borrowing her Facebook picture.  Hope she doesn't mind!
Carri in the cockpit of an airplane - what she wants to do more of!

And on the homefront, we've been celebrating August with our gardens.  Yesterday for the Saturday Market we had beans, three kinds of onions, basil, parsley, kale, and carrots!  Really nice carrots!

This garden is on the south side of our red shed where we cook off maple syrup in the winter.  Look at those cute sunflowers!  Also in this bed, tomatoes & Roma tomatoes, yellow squash, and onions.  It's starting to look kind of wild now...hard to get through the rows to find the produce!

This vine with the pretty white blossom is growing out of one of our compost bins.  The leaves and stems are so soft compared to those prickly cucumber vines, and we didn't know what it might be that was growing from something that had been composted!  But now that we saw the first little object growing, we know...birdhouse gourds from when Leann was making birdhouses and had reamed out all the seeds and fibers from inside the dried gourds.  Unfortunately we don't have a growing season long enough to fully ripen these gourds, so we'll settle for vines!

This are our new raised beds--tomatoes in the back left, cucumbers and carrots back right, beets, peppers, eggplant (still with no sign of an eggplant) and carrots bottom left and a jungle of green beans bottom right.

This is me, scissors in hand, trying to get control of our giant tomato plants!  I'm trying to clear away a little green so the tomatoes can show through!  Finally our first red-(dish) tomato is almost ready.

And here is our silo pit garden with more jungly tomatoes and our monarch waystation flowers--milkweed, zinnias, others I've forgotten the names--and cucumbers.  We also have a bunch of volunteer petunias growing that came from seeds from last summer's petunias!  Leann dumped the old pots in there last fall and they sprouted from seeds this summer.  Now, if you planned for that to happen, it never would have worked!

August is such fun...maybe even September, too, as long as the frost stays away!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The good, the bad, and the no-it-can't-be-so!

A beautiful August day up here in the land by the Lake!  We spent it doing laundry from our guests from the last couple of days and then mowing everything so it would be cleaned up for the next guests tomorrow night.  We also went downtown to vote in the primary and check in with friends in the Gallery.  A great day!

Tonight Leann wanted to do some work on the trails up behind our house, and that led to other jobs up there and, of course, pictures.  So, first the good:
I know I shouldn't count our apples before they are ripe, but, boy, do they look nice this year!  And these are the ones up in the meadow in our "wild" orchard!  They are big and plentiful and relatively free of blemishes...compared to most years.  We'll see how things look in October!

Now for the bad...  Remember tent caterpillars or army worms? Those creepy green caterpillars that munch their way through all the leaves on the trees?  Well, last spring there was some threat that they would be coming through this summer.  Then later that threat was changed to maybe next year.  And then we started seeing some tents up in our apple trees. 
So tonight we drove our trails looking for these tents, cutting them out, and then later torching them in the fire pit.  We found 7 or 8, and we know it's a drop in the tent caterpillar bucket, but we feel better and the ugly is gone!

And now for the "no-it-can't-be-so" picture.  Below is a maple tree with leaves changing color.  Maybe the tree is ailing somehow for it to be changing so early.  Or maybe these early morning temps in the 40's are sending some message to the trees.  But, no, it can't be so!

And one more from the Lake tonight.  The clouds looked ominous to the north so we drove down to see how it looked over the Lake.  What we found were a series of rain showers drifting across to the north east.  Nothing much landed by our house though.  More watering tomorrow, I gues!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Even our wheels are blessed!

Yesterday at the Saturday Market, the women at the First Lutheran booth reminded us that today's church service was going to be a pot-luck picnic at the Pavilion following the "Blessing of the Wheels" service.  I had heard of "Blessing of the Animals" in the past, but this "wheels" thing was something new!  It was meant for all kinds of wheels, but we thought maybe our 4-wheeler, Cammie, might need to be blessed.

We finished up breakfast with our guests, jumped into Cammie and headed for the Town Hall...almost late, as usual.  We parked along with the other cars, but then noticed Pastor Nancy running over to us.  She motioned us to pull in over to the right a little...right next to the altar!
She focused her children's sermon on all things with wheels and even the woman in the wheelchair joined in! (but not pictured)
This was a joint service with Pastor Nancy's other church in Washburn, so it was a pretty big group of people today.  Of course there was a pot-luck dinner following the service and included in the food offerings was pickled herring and also smoked herring from the smokehouse here in town.  Yum!

Pretty quiet the rest of the day, but I found the first two cucumbers of the summer.  Yay!  Maybe the rain we're getting now (finally) will coax out some more!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Super Moon end to a Super Saturday

The days go too fast; the summer goes too fast, but we pack as much in as we can.  Today was Saturday Market day, so Leann loaded up the car with our limited produce--beans, beets, red onions, and basil, along with some of our choice "fleas" for the flea market table.  I stayed home to see off our B&B guests and then begin the room change-over for our next guests--clean up the kitchen, wash sheets & towels and hang them outside, clean room & bathroom so it's ready to go again.

And Saturday is Dump Day so I was off to bring our garbage and recyclables to the dump.  On the way I stopped at the Port Bar with a couple of Leann's baby quilts for the benefit dinner and raffle for one of our Port Wing residents this afternoon and evening.  Then I stopped at the Saturday Market and spent our market proceeds on some cucumbers, tomatoes, a turnip and some dill.  By next week we should have our own cucumbers and tomatoes!  I told my California daughter today that I was watching for cukes and tomatoes and she laughed, suggesting that we must live up in the Northwest Passage!  How soon she forgets!

Anyway, now to the pictures.  First are a couple from my monarch chrysalis watch, then some baby milkweed pods.

I saw this one last Saturday for the first time and it had a couple dark spots on it.  Now today it is all black.  I think it will be hatching out tomorrow.

This was the first one I saw back when it was all green with the gold band.  Yesterday it was all black and today all that remains is what's left of the white shell.  So...I missed the big hatching!

Here are the little milkweed pods growing out of what used to be the beautiful and fragrant flowers that the bees were so crazy about.  The leaves are chewed up by all the caterpillars.

And tonight we all get to see the Super Moon, or in astronomical terms, perigee-syzygy or perigee full/new moon.   This is our first view of it tonight over in the town of Herbster, seven miles east.

Then I turned around and saw our Super Lake and a beautiful sunset.  The Lake has been hazy lately and the sunsets have been extra nice thanks to the smoke from forest fires out west in Canada and our western states.

Then we came back to Port Wing and brought our visitors to Quarry Beach where we saw the Super Moon from there with a Super reflection.

We planned to enjoy the Super Moon from the deck tonight but the mosquitoes had other ideas.  And this time of year is supposed to be the peak time to see the Perseid meteor shower but the moon is so bright and you can't see the stars!  Astro Bob suggests going out just as the moon is setting...and that's just before dawn...gotta think about this...