Tuesday, December 6, 2011


On one of my recent jaunts to Dodgeville I noticed a rather large bird perched atop one of the utility poles. (We used to call them telephone poles but, that's not necessarily true anymore.) As I got closer I still couldn't make out exactly what it was and being on a errand of mercy I didn't want to take time to stop and check it out. Suprisingly, on my way home, about an hour or so later, I noticed that the creature was still sitting up on it's lofty perch. Now I had time . . . and a camera. I pulled onto the shoulder across from it and just started shooting, The lighting conditions were so poor that even with my zoom lens I couldn't clearly make out exactly what it was that I was photographing. It wasn't until I got home and dumped my pictures into iPhoto that I realized that I had run upon a wayward Snowy Owl. With a little computer magic I was able to extract a suitable image or two. A few days later our newspaper ran an article about these owls being spotted in our area. Seems that the Lemming supply in the far north is low and they're looking to Wisconsin for vitals. (Not sure if they're into fishfrys) At any rate, about a hundred have been seen which, I guess, makes me one of the lucky few who got to see one up close. This just adds another thing on my list of stuff to watch for as I roam the back roads of the area. I've taken a couple of trips up along The Mississippi to check out the migrating Tundra Swans and have observed quite a few Bald Eagles on those rides. (I counted forty-one on the last trip) And, I'm always on the lookout for deer but, now another critter not native to the area has been spotted. Quite a few people (most of them sober) have seen Black Bears stomping around down here well south of where they normally stomp. This, along with several sightings of Pumas, kinda makes wildlife watching a little more adventurous than normal.

Here's our fine feathered friend on a lookout for a lemming lunch.

Some Tundras working on their more vegetarian diet.

About a half mile closer than I want to be when I spot one of these guys!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Still Alive?

Where's Grandpa been?

Just realized that it's been over a month since the last post. (Actually I was reminded by the wife person) It's not like nothing has been going on. I guess I just get lazy or, by the time I think of something to post, I get an idea for another one. Usually while I'm on on one of my driving excursions I get my great ideas. I even compose them in my mind but, by the time I get back to the computing thing, it's lost. (Too bad cuz some really good stuff is floating around out there in never, never land) I'm considering getting one of those voice recording gizmos.
As a matter of fact since the last post we've had a ninetieth birthday, a christening, a first tooth, at least one trip to the Twin Cities, Evansville and Madison. I cruised the Mississippi river shore line stalking the not so elusive Tundra Swan. I even had a "Man Date" grocery shopping excursion with a neighbor who is equally nutty about the super market experience. (Just take my word for it, we had a great time and scored some real savings at the cash register.)
And! Just this past weekend we celebrated our 39th wedding anniversary early by treating each other to dinner and a The Mannheim Steamroller Christmas concert in Madison. (It was an late afternoon performance so us not so youngsters could get home at a reasonable hour.)
All in all it's been a pretty busy month and rather than trying to tell about it in several hundred thousand words, I'll just drop in a few photos of the highlights.

Great Grandma gets an unexpected assist from Saffie.

A few of the hundreds of Sandhills gathered along the Wisconsin River
near Spring Green flipping me "The Wing" before they continue their journey South.

(Someone took the time to count over fifteen hundred of them)

Some of the thousands of swans on a stop over
on the Mississippi near Brownsville Minnesota.

(Just about ten miles south of La Crosse)
Picture quality suffered from being threatened by some renegade geese
who are in a witness protection program.

Edith either squeezing out a her first tooth or just another baby toot!
(Must be all that "Pull My Finger" training)

Don't know? I expected a German construction gang doing road work.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Too Much Input?

Wow! It's been nearly a month since my last blog. Things have been fast and furious around here. Probably one of the busiest months in a long time.
Where to begin (This is where a 76 year old memory comes in handy) There were trips to Minneapolis, Evansville, Chicago and Duluth as well as a paddlewheel boat cruise up the Mississippi. visits from my California son, an Evilbear and helpful neighbors. There's some funny things and some sad. I'll try to whip through the boring stuff and embellish the more interesting things. In not necessarily numerical, alphabetical or sequential order, here we go.
As a belated birthday present to JoAnne, we took a Saturday paddlewheel boat lunch cruise up The River. It was really pleasant and relaxing. (Just what Busy Bee Jo needed) A few highlights were going through the locks and whale watching. The locks part went smoothly but not much on the whale watching front. (Although it did keep the other passengers alert.) I guess the only real humor of the day was being accompanied on the cruise by a Tammy Faye Baker lookalike. I tried to get a photo of her without being too obvious because, I'm sure, she didn't want to cause a distraction from the less made up surroundings.
The following week my oldest son, Rick, flew in from California for a weeklong visit. We talk on the phone a lot but don't get together very often due to a couple of thousand miles of Nebraska separating us. We put in a pretty busy week of golfing, sightseeing and a bunch of picture taking (mostly on Rick's part). When he's not bragging about parring the eighth hole, I'm sure he's completely boring everyone back home with his hundreds of barn and tractor photos. We slipped in a trip to Chicago to lunch on Chicago Style Pizza with daughter Elaine and dropped in on niece, Michelle, and nephew Ron's (What a cool name for a nephew. Even cooler, he has a son named Ronnie!) birthday party at my sister's house. It was a great week with great weather. As a matter of fact Jo even let us use her convertible one day.
One of my favorite bloggers, Evilbear by name, emailed me that he was planning to take a photo tour along The River. Being THE Mississippi River nut, I was more than eager to pass on more riverside travel information than, I'm sure, he wanted. Somehow we have become fans of each other's blog without ever meeting or even having ever known each other. We made plans to get together for a face to face, in depth discussion of potential photo ops. We met at the local Hardies, exchanged pleasantries and got to know each other a little bit. Then I sent him on his way North not knowing that within twenty four hours I would be making the same trip.
Last Thursday night we received word that, Summer's husband, Reid's mother had passed away up in Duluth. Super G swung into action. We were packed, and on our way so rapidly that we actually reached Minneapolis before Evilbear was out of LaCrosse. On these "Missions of Mercy" my main job is to drive and provide comic relief. (when appropriate) On the other hand, Super G (Jo) is there to give relief to Summer and Reid caring for the grandkids. The wake and funeral service were quite emotional with many people eulogizing Rita (Reid's mom). In spite of her own physical ailments she really touched and improved the lives of many others.
Afterwards we headed back to good old Fennimore. The ride home was a little more relaxed and enjoyable than the trip up north had been. We took a number of scenic routes on the Wisconsin side of The River and other than a few blinding rain storms it was a pleasant ending to an otherwise sad week. The big surprise came when we arrived at our house. It seemed that on the previous Sunday, our Pastor had given a sermon about people helping people. (could have been the Good Samaritan story?) At any rate the following day some of our neighboring families, kids and all, swooped in on the Blume estate and raked up all the leaves in sight. (one family hadn't even heard the sermon) A little aside here. The kids from across the street had been "stealing" our leaves all week long creating a huge leaf pile in their yard. The funny part is that they would take turns burying each other in the pile. Not funny? Well it is if you realize that I live across the street from the funeral parlor and these kids belong to the undertaker. Makes you wonder what else they do for kicks over there.
The one thing that didn't happen was my high school buddy, Ken, and his wife, Linda, were due to come for a visit to Fennimore on Saturday. Needless to say, on Saturday Jo and I were up in Duluth. Not to be cheated out of the opportunity to see Fennimore first hand Ken and Linda drove up from Chicago anyway and seemed to have pretty good time without us visiting some of the local establishments that we've never been to.
Well, that's what I've been up to. As if this rant hasn't "run off" long enough, let me add a few photos illustrate a tad of the doings.

Just a peek of "Old Muddy" from the upper deck.
(I wish I could remember all the different nicknames of the Mississippi
that Chevy Chase used in his "Vacation" film.

"Big Wheel Keeps on turnin"
(Enough to make Mary proud!)

"Super G" enjoying a well deserved relaxing moment in the sun.

Tammy Faye???

Railroad Swing bridge.

The guy who sits in his little cabin waiting for a boat to come by
so he can open and close the bridge and wave.
(He had a special wave for Tammy Fay.)

Son Rick, in search of "The Photo".

Who sez we don't pamper of our cows up here?
Cows get thirsty too!

Kickapoo Valley dressed in it's Full Fall Finery.

The Blume Estate before being ravaged by leaf thieves.

For a peek at some fine photos, check out Evilbear's blog at - http://evilbearphotography.blogspot.com/

Saturday, September 17, 2011

"Hey! Don't Slam The Door!"

That's something I hear from JoAnne quite a bit. No, she's not referring to the device that blocks out the "peskies" of this world. Pesky insects, pesky salesmen, pesky Witnesses and pesky cookie sellers. No, she's referring to that pesky piece of land that interrupts the Lake Michigan Shoreline just Northeast of us, the County of Door. It's a little strip of land that, beginning in "Titletown USA" extends northward into Lake Michigan and becomes "The Cape Cod of the Midwest". For years I've stated my preference for the Northwoods section of Wisconsin over this fingerfull of hotels, motels, timeshares, condos, galleries, gift shops, restaurants, orchards and wineries. This past week has changed my view of Door County. This trip I viewed it over the shoulder of a three year old on an adventure and an eight month old whose every move is an adventure. Our vacation club membership provided us with a great two bedroom condo that was perfect for Jo and I as well as son Derek, his wife Jeanna and Grandkids Saffie and Sebastian. Saffie discovered, with some apprehension, the delight of waves lapping onto your bare feet as well as a giant bull gently lapping at your cheek. She took great pleasure in finding a stone to throw and finding it to throw again. She experienced the glow and warmth of a fire crackling away in a fireplace and the cackling of a mother hen with her brood of chicks. She learned that bunches of grapes grew on a vine and that baby goats went after a bottle of milk more eagerly than her baby bother. Hopefully all these things will remain in her memory for years to come, I know that they're etched in mine. After this past week, I still prefer The Northwoods but I have a new fondness for the Door. I promise not to slam it anymore!

Sebastian controls his excitement on the way to Door County.

Derek, Jeanna and Saffie check the Eastern shore for sea monsters.

Saffie works on her herding technique.

Saffie meet Mr. Bull . . .

. . . Mr. Bull meet Saffie.

Finding the perfect stone means everything
when you're only a stone's throw from an ice cream shop.

Al Johnson's may have goats on the roof but,
Julie's has Blumes on her chair!

"Watch it or I'll stomp the juice out of you!"

Meanwhile Sebastian tangles with a stubborn highchair.

Saffie contemplates a day well spent and
plans for tomorrow's adventures.

Grandpa toasts the Door for a fun and restful week while . . .

. . . Sebastian remains relatively unimpressed.

A complete album of the Door County Adventure (including a short video) will soon be available for viewing on Grandma Jo's Picasa page.