Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Tip of a Hat

Probably tops among the things that I enjoy watching, other than Eagles, flowers, waterfalls, birds, wild animals and puppies, is people. Last Wednesday we attended a musical event in Madison called "Concert on the Square". It's great fun. On Wednesdays during the Summer, hundreds (maybe thousands or millions) of music lovers, picnicers, patrons of the arts and a few winos gather on the lawn around the State Capital building . . . "The Square" to listen to a performance of the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra. You can pack a picnic basket with your dinner or purchase pretty good food from vendors in little tents around the venue OR if your among the privileged you get to sit at fancy table set up along the main sidewalk that leads to the Capital steps and have a fine dinner, complete with wine served by a formally dressed wait staff. These are reserved for sponsors, their friends, family, employees and anyone else that can come up with millions of dollars for dinner. (A few years ago, thanks to Lands' End, we actually won the opportunity to dine at one of these tables. It really beats the crap out of trying to balance a root beer, an Uno's pizza and bug spray on a blanket in the grass.) We normally make it to at least one performance each Summer. Usually one that Lands' End sponsors. For a small fee employees can ride in big, comfortable buses, provided by LE, from Dodgeville to the concert and back. Most of the concerts that we attended were really enjoyable with some outstanding guest musicians. This year, not too great. For a change we opted to forgo the pleasure of sitting on a blanket on the lawn and sat on our folding chairs along the curb. This provided for a not-so-good view of the performers but was excellent for "people watching". People, like our fine feathered friends, find it necessary to adorn themselves in bright, strangely shaped costumes. Unlike the birds, who have no choice in color or shape (Mother Nature dresses them), people actually choose how they dress. While observing the passersby for quite a while, I became amused by the variety of headware on display. Although I missed a lot of really "interesting" hats, caps and wraps, I managed to record a few of them. Earlier in the evening there were a lot of bike racer caps but they were undoubtedly too fast for digital agility. Unfortunately the "Best of Show" had settled in by the time I dug out my trusty camera from amongst the many "supplies" that we had toted with us. I'd like to tell you about the ones that got away but, you'll just have to settle for the ones I got.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Walk The Walk!

Just a quickie about a little fun I had the other day while taking my Mother-In-Law to a Dr. appointment in Madison. She received passing grades from the Doc so we decided to celebrate by going out to lunch. We called Jeanna and asked if she and Saffy wanted to join us. She did, we ate and as we started to leave the restaurant, I was struck by one of those "great" ideas that I have so often. Jo's mom uses a walker to help her get around nowadays and, Saffy is just learning to walk. Maybe that walker could be of use to both of them. We already know it works for Vi (Jo's mom) but will it aid in Saffy's attempt to solo. After Vi got comfy in the back seat I acquainted little Saffy with the walker by placing her in the little basket compartment. That was it, she was so content to just sit and be driven around that walking didn't seem necessary. The pictures below illustrate how easily she took to "walker".

Grandma Jo provides the power while
Mommy, Jeanna, nods approval.

"Is this as fast as this thing goes?"

"Wanna race?"
"I bet my Greatgrandma can beat your Greatgrandma!"

Friday, July 10, 2009

Tales of the Northwoods (part two)

During our recent trip "Up North" (UN), I became aware of, what I call, "Summer Color". We normally travel UN in the fall when color is king, or as Mother Nature would prefer, Queen. This year we made our Northern journey in June instead of September and discovered a whole new season of color. Sure, as you drive through towns and past country homes, you experience endless waves of color in neatly arranged flower beds, hanging baskets, big pots, little pots, window boxes, tree stumps, tipped over wheelbarrows and even old bed frames. But, drive the back roads, country lanes and even the freeways and you'll find that Mom Nature didn't confine her exterior decorating to Autumn. The White of Winter gives way to the Green of Spring and while the Reds, Oranges and Golds of Fall wait in the wings, the countryside explodes with its own glorious costume.
We left our nephew's graduation party in Neenah, and headed UN. It was a usual drive, watching for wildlife, barns and other photogenic sights. We passed through Mercer a hit the county road leading to our "home for the week". We had barely entered the winding little road when we were greeted by a sea of pinks and purples, Wild Lupines. From that point on we were treated to a week of roadside wildflower color. I guess the Lupines kinda made me more aware that the colors of Summer aren't restricted to UN but, also surround us right here in Southwest Wisconsin and I'm sure throughout the rest of the country. Rather than going on with thousands of words, I'll try to sum up the story with several photos. I might add that if you give in to the urge to grab a spoon and dig up some of these beauties to add to your home garden, remember, Wild Flowers are in truth Wild Weeds and your lovely flower bed will soon become a tangled bed of choking weeds. And, those weeds are a lot stronger than your dainty petunias and impatiens. (See photos below as evidence of this)

The Wild Lupines that greeted us on County Highway FF.

A scene from "Lupines Gone Wild".
A yard in Bessemer Michigan.

Orange Hawk Weed

Orange Hawk Weed yard. Park falls Wisconsin.

Wild Day Lilies on the roadside in Southwest Wisconsin.

A Black Eyed Susan "Garden".

People call these by different names.
Beautiful as you drive by.
In your garden they're Blue Weeds!

Thimbleberry Blossom.
The beginnings of a tasty fruit found mainly
on the sandy shorelines of the Great Lakes.

Orange Butterfly Weed

A poor attempt at shooting a lovely field of
Wild Daisies on the outskirts of Butternut, Wisconsin.

PS - The abundance and variety of Wild Flowers along the roadside is endless. I could have used up all the megapixels I have available trying to capture images of them all. Take a ride and find them for yourself. "Try it you'll like it".

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Tales of the Northwoods (part one)

Yeah, I've been back for days and haven't blogged in. I've really been having trouble sorting out my thoughts of the trip. I guess I just need to jump in with the first thing that comes to mind. As usual, it's the goofy stuff that leaps out. I was fortunate enough to be a first-hand witness to an example of old fashioned "Up North" child abuse. While enjoying a pleasant afternoon motor boating with Mark, Kate and Chase, (our landlords/friends/hosts/cottage barons) we pulled into a quiet little cove to try our hand at some fishing. The girls (Kate and Jo) spent most of the time catching up on office gossip and the guys did some serious nightcrawler drowning. Chase hooked the first fish, a rather nice Walleye. I guess that this irked his dad who, almost immediately yanked a good sized Yellow Perch out of the water in such a manner that it released its grip on the hook and proceeded to slap Chase smack in the head. You might say that he was "Phish Phaced" or "Caught a Perch in the Puss". This, so called, disciplinary action seemed to work because Chase caught no more fish after that. The whole thing happened so fast that I had no time to record the incident. But, I can quote Chase's verbal reaction, "I can't believe that you just hit me in the face with a perch!". Jo and I each caught, and released, small Northern Pikes and Mark capped off the day by landing a very nice sized Smallmouth Bass. Then he took his boat and went home. Kate went "fishless" for the day but didn't seem to mind. She probably didn't want to risk being "Bass Bashed". That pretty well wraps up our first day on the flowage.
More adventures and wildlife spotting tall tales to come . . .

Chase with the first catch of the day.

Mark with the final catch of the day.

Dad, Mark, explains the theory of
nuclear fission to son, Chase.

Jo and Kate discuss world peace and
the international economic situation.

Master fisherperson, Ron, with prize catch of the day.
A rare multi-branched Logfish.

Chase emerges from boat after being
tonneaued in dry dock.