Hi again! The summer was pretty busy so Mr. Wonderful, Danny, and I took a Sunday off to make another hike up to Vermilion Gorge. The leaves were still beautiful, and the high temp was 88!
People often mistake Vermilion Falls with Vermilion Gorge. The Falls are the really short hike that was shortened a few years ago. It’s right before Crane Lake. Here is the USFS sheet on that one.
Vermilion Gorge is the 3 mile round-trip hike that takes about 3 hours “at a leisurely pace”, according to Vermilion Gorge USFS info sheet. Drive all the way through Crane Lake and park in the private parking lot for Voyagaire Houseboats on the left. In the fall and early spring, the lot is full of said houseboats, but there will be signs pointing you to the trailhead.
The hike starts in a birch/aspen (popple) forest, and the sky was perfect this day. Most of the maple leaves were on the ground, but the vibrant yellows popped with the deep blue fall sky. We spent a lot of time looking straight up.
As the trail climbed into the Norway pines, we noticed a million types of mushrooms.
And writing this post, I noticed we got photobombed by a bald eagle!! Very top of the photo, left of center. The reflections were breathtaking.
Some kind soul had left a walking stick at the trailhead, so the Boy happily used it, returning it for the next person.
I could be wrong, but I think this is a glacial erratic. I didn’t get any good shots of it on this trip, so this pic is from last year.
We sat for a break (for me, not them lol), and Paul noticed this birdnest in a birch tree overhanging the gorge.
Yep, he has his device. But he got some awesome photos and is reading in this picture. No gaming.
It was during this break that I noticed cairns farther upstream. Paul and Danny did some scouting, and were sure I could make it, with help. I’m so lucky to have these two; I wouldn’t have attempted this hike without backup. Not that it’s super-difficult; it’s just too much for me, with bum hips, knees, and ankles. They were such troopers, helping me up and down stairs and steep sections of trail.
Anyway, I remembered being on the other side of the monolith with a friend several years ago, and had pretty much given up the idea of making it there this time. Luckily the lure of getting photos with the sun hitting the gorge dead-on and a little encouragement from my family got me over the hump.
Would you believe that not counting the canoeists, we only saw two people on the way in, and a group of four as we were almost back out??
This was one of the prompts at our last Summer Writers’ Group, and it was a great one! Easy to write, and fun to listen to everyone else’s answers. Do you write? Why?
I write to make people laugh, and to help myself cry.
I write to educate, elucidate, enumerate and illuminate.
I write because in seventh grade, Mr. Durbin told me to never stop doing so.
Sometimes I write to reason things out for myself and others.
I’ve written a few moral inventories to save myself from myself.
Lately I’ve been writing to advertise, trying to build a dream and share it with the world.
When I was a child and young adult I wrote because I knew my brain would forget the important, terrible truths of life. Even at 5 I knew the inexorable nature of denial. It took many years to see denial differently; a tool the mind uses to protect itself.
Sometimes now I write for posterity–hoping future generations will be a fraction as grateful as I am toward previous generations efforts, to capture the present for the future’s past.
First, I took all the molds outside and then filled them using pitchers of water. (This idea came to me last summer, so every time I saw a Bundt-shaped mold at the Thrift Shop, I snagged it. I’m happy to report that even the plastic ones worked great, and have yet to crack.)
Then I did it all again so there were two of each design.
To release them from the mold, I ran a little hot water in the kitchen sink. They pop out after a few seconds. Sometimes, if the water freezes too fast, there will be a bulge in the ice. You can chip it off carefully, use a warm cookie sheet to melt it flat, or if you’re not a perfectionist, just build up the other side with snow later when you put the two halves together.
Now here is the genius part: Solar garden lights will work, depending on their size and the diameter of the hole in your mold, but this Halloween, I found these awesome solar-powered jack-o-lantern lights at K-mart for $5. They change color, so I didn’t have to add food coloring to the water to color the ice!
Now, of course you could use a real wax candle, too; but dang, that’s a lot of candles. And, you’d have to go out and light it. Solar lights come on automatically! Even regular white garden solar lights work, but they aren’t as bright as the one above.
Mr. Wonderful even admits this is one for the “Nailed It” File, so please Like, Share, & Pin away!
Another fast, cheap, and easy craft idea brought to you by the Pajari Girls. If you’d like a few more ideas, check this post out:
Ok, my hands are killing me, but I wanted this post done before Halloween’s over. Here’s the Cliff Notes version:
Back in September, I covered my sunflowers with old white curtains to protect them from frost. My neighbor thought I was just decorating early for Halloween! Which was a great idea; I’d already tried coloring eyes and mouths with Sharpie but was a failure. I was muttering about the problem when Paul (aka Mr. Wonderful) suggested using fabric. “But it hurts to use scissors!” I whined. Then I remembered the cutting board and rotary cutter I invested in a few years when Cook got a quilt shop (Thanks again, Susan Covey of Cabin Quilting!)
Sewing hurts too, so Paul suggested fabric glue. Woohoo! We were business. I have almost no range of motion in my wrists lately, so he helped position the ghosts, too. One of the best things about making Halloween decorations is that they don’t have to be perfect! Get a kid to help. Or someone with crappy range of motion. It could be therapeutic. 😀
Another Halloween craft project that’s fast, cheap, and easy. Like my sister. Just kidding! Please Pin, Like, Share, or comment this project, or better yet, do it yourself!
What, you don’t name your trees? This is one of our favorite trees. Mine (Laura) shades my whole front yard in the summer. Lois’ shades the old wood shed/ice house at Cook’s Country Connection. Listen, if Pocahontas could have Grandmother Willow, we can have an Auntie Linden. And like Grandmother Willow, the Auntie Linden in our yard has smacked a guy or three in the head. So shush.
The last time I read Jean Auel’s Clan of the Cave Bear series, Ayla used Linden flowers to sweeten something. Finally! Something that grows in the near-arctic conditions of Cook, MN!! I searched Wikipedia to be sure it wasn’t just literary license, and discovered many other fun facts.
There is a Linden tree in Gloucestershire that is coppiced (omigod, I didn’t even know there was a word for that!! It means to harvest by cutting tree down to the stump, then letting its shoots start over. It’s technically the same tree) thought to be 2,000 years old. If you live up here, imagine a willow after attempted chainsawing.
The name of Linnaeus, the great botanist, was derived from a “lime” tree in Europe–what we Yanks call Basswood or Linden .
Linnaeus… You know, the guy who came up with a universal system for naming things. Binomial nomenclature. ie: Tilia americana. Ringin’ any bells??
There’s more. “The excellence of the honey of far-famed Hyblaean Mountains was due to the linden trees that covered its sides and crowned its summit.” Beekeepers love Linden/Basswood/Lime trees! The first time I noticed a buzzing noise coming from the tree I park under (Auntie Linden), and looked up to see thousands of honeybees I called my sister in a panic. “Don’t come over!! You will DIE!!” (She’s allergic to bee or hornet stings.) She laughed and said ” They’re just doing what bees do. Leave them alone, and they’ll leave you alone. Just don’t piss ’em off.” Roger that.
I read on:
“In particular, aphids are attracted by the rich supply of sap, and are in turn often “farmed” by ants for the production of the sap which the ants collect for their own use, and the result can often be a dripping of excess sap onto the lower branches and leaves, and anything else below. Cars left under the trees can quickly become coated with a film of the syrup (“honeydew”) thus dropped from higher up. The ant/aphid “farming” process does not appear to cause any serious damage to the trees.”
Well, that’s pretty awesome… and it explains all the ants in that area. And it doesn’t hurt the trees! Huh. Here I was all worried that the ants were a sign that one of my favorite trees in all the world was sick. Whew!
It’s also good for making guitars, and even clothing. You can eat the young flowers and leaves, too!
But coolest of all, it has medicinal properties that my body needs, like fighting inflammation and healing the liver.
“Most medicinal research has focused on Tilia cordata, although other species are also used medicinally and somewhat interchangeably. The dried flowers are mildly sweet and sticky, and the fruit is somewhat sweet and mucilaginous. Limeflower tea has a pleasing taste, due to the aromatic volatile oil found in the flowers. The flowers, leaves, wood, and charcoal (obtained from the wood) are used for medicinal purposes. Active ingredients in the Tilia flowers include flavonoids (which act as antioxidants) and volatile oils. The plant also contains tannins that can act as an astringent.
“Linden flowers are used in herbalism for colds, cough, fever, infections, inflammation, high blood pressure, headache (particularly migraine), and as a diuretic (increases urine production), antispasmodic (reduces smooth muscle spasm along the digestive tract), and sedative. In the traditional Austrian medicine Tilia sp. flowers have been used internally as tea for treatment of disorders of the respiratory tract, fever and flu. New evidence shows that the flowers may be hepatoprotective. The wood is used for liver and gallbladder disorders and cellulitis (inflammation of the skin and surrounding soft tissue). That wood burned to charcoal is ingested to treat intestinal disorders and used topically to treat edema or infection such as cellulitis or ulcers of the lower leg.“
Thus, last year I made tea from the flowers and the smaller leaves they were attached to. Honestly, I don’t know if it helped the Stupid Rheumatoid Arthritis. But I’m sure it didn’t hurt. 😉 And it tasted good. Want to make your own? Good. Here’s what I did:
when flowers are mostly open, gently pick them and the smaller leaf they are attached to from the bigger main leaves. This year, they are a month behind normal. Big surprise.
I spread them evenly on trays in my dehydrator and when crumbly I separated leaves from flowers and put them in old, airtight mason jars for winter.
Then, come January I added some Rugosa Rose hips for Vitamin C and voila! Yummy, healthy, tea for two.
As you can see, the tea has very little color to it. Go by taste- not color- to judge strength. 3 or 4 minutes should be fine for a cup to brew.
As usual, if you liked this article, please click “Like” “Share” “Pin”, or leave a comment. Thank you for reading! Loveyabye!
On Sunday July 6, Mr. Wonderful, Male Spawn, and I took a day trip to the Vermilion Falls and Vermilion Gorge hiking trails. Northern MN has been getting a lot of rain and so I hoped there would be lots of photo opportunities. The weather didn’t cooperate, but the wildlife did!
Next time we’ll take video, too. On the short walk back to the car, someone pointed out a dragonfly.
Then Danny grabbed my arm and pointed up the trail…
Could it be a Red fox? They come in many colors…including Silver, which is different from the Gray fox, which are one of only 2 members of the Canidae family that can climb trees…but the Gray fox has a black tail. Crap.
This was driving me nuts! (I really really really hoped that it was a young Timber Wolf. That opened another can of worms. )
I sent the photos to my friend Colleen who works at the USFS, LaCroix Station. The biologist there said it was a Cross fox. 100% sure. At first I didn’t understand. Was that a cross between a Red and Gray? Nope, it is a TYPE of Red fox. At one time it was thought to be it’s own species, but DNA study changed that. However, “fur farmers and trappers continued to treat each red fox colour form as a distinct species long after scientists concluded that they were variations of the same one”, according to Wikipedia. Well, that clears things up!
I have hauled my Nook around everywhere with me, even to a Little League game. Jeremiah’s dad (John) said he would look into it, too. He works for the DNR. **JUST IN** The DNR says Cross Fox, too! Thanks, John V.!
I posted the pictures on Facebook, too, getting several different opinions.
At this point, my vote is Cross fox.
What’s your vote? Please Like, Comment or Share…for fox’ sake!
Sometimes, it’s the shots you DON’T get. A few years ago, I captured a hummingbird moth on my camera phone. It was mostly a blur, and I had never seen anything like it. It sounded like a bee or a hummingbird, and the wings moved so fast that usually I could barely see them with the naked eye. Plus, Lois and I were probably having daiquiris in the garden. Ever since, I have been interested in, and wanted to capture these bugs on film. All I had was this one blurry, crappy picture and it kinda drove me nuts.
This spring, I was delighted to see them on my own lilac bushes. At first, the yellow and black stripes on their bodies reminded me of a bee of some kind. But when I sped up to 60 frames per second on the Nikon, I was surprised to see that the wings on these moths were … transparent!
Also, the proboscis is funky! Their tongues just kind of curl up under the chin when not sipping nectar.
I made a Fairy Cemetery for Halloween this year. It seemed appropriate, considering what a year of loss 2013 has been.
I’ve always liked cemeteries. We grew up close to the Cook (Owens Twp.) Cemetery. Micki, Melissa, and I would meet there on bicycle and ride around the circular drives, marveling at the children’s stones and looking for relatives.
When we got older, Lois and I would take dad’s pickup for an unauthorized joyride, we’d be forced to go to the cemetery’s circular drives (because it was a standard and finding reverse was tricky.)
As an adult, I spent some time mapping, cleaning, photographing and transcribing stones at a few small local cemeteries for a genealogy project.
This year, unfortunately, has been a year of visiting friends and loved ones at Hillside, a beautiful local resting place. And you know what? The closer I get to 40, the more names I recognize on the stones.
This year we lost Karla A., Katherine L., Vanessa C., Cindy P., Mrs. Oles, Rich W., & Dave B., and others in our little town. And though they are not human, the loss of Mr. Stinky Droolface and Mad Bird and The Dollar Barn has been hard, too.
If you or someone you love is grieving a loss (and really, who isn’t??), maybe something here will help:
Delta Rae, Dance in the Graveyards is a song our friends Kris and Dan shared with us. It helped them; it helps us. I hope it helps you, too. Please, please, please watch the video!! “When I die, I don’t wanna rest in peace. I wanna dance in joy. I wanna dance in the graveyards….And while I’m alive, I don’t wanna be alone, mourning the ones who came before, I wanna dance with them some more, let’s dance in the graveyards.”
Bertram’s Blog is about grieving, and I have found the author’s writing to be empowering and soothing.
It also helped me to be able to know that all these fricking FEELINGS will pass. It’s all part of the process. Check out The Five Stages of Grieving. Chop chop. Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance will come and go, usually when you don’t expect it.
This week, I started decorating for Halloween. I don’t feel like it. I hurt physically and emotionally, but am trying to do something I would normally do were I not grieving.
So back to my Fairy Cemetery… A year ago, I found this lovely old Planter’s Peanuts cookie jar (it was probably my grandma’s), and decided it would make a lovely terrarium for my Venus fly trap, Audrey Two. This year, I found some Halloween miniatures and added them to the terrarium for Halloween. Fast, cheap, and easy. And it makes me smile,
As usual, thank you for reading. If you found this useful, pass it on. Like, Share, and/or Pin at will.
Another proud parent moment–the Middle Spawn (AKA youngest Pajari Girl) is blogging!! And the title of her blog is… Musings of an Intellectual Badass. Because we Pajari Girls are the perfect blend of brains and brass. 🙂