Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Lake Affect Snow - Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Foolishly last year I made my appointment for my annual physical at 8:00 a.m. for today. Duh! It was dark and stormy here at the edge of Lake Huron; the lake affect snow was wildly blowing so I left early for the meeting. Surprisingly once I got about a mile away from the edge, the snow and most of the blowing stopped. The first two photos below are from Monday morning. Twenty four hours ago! Clicking on photos enlarges them.

I thought the blowing snow storm was over and on the way back from the doctors' offices I loved the view and took these shots - looking carefully in the background (east towards Lake Huron) I saw clouds but didn't think anything about them. Silly me.

The closer I got to the shoreline, the more ominous the sky appeared.
Still it was absolutely gorgeous, however.

The clouds weren't coming closer to me; 
I was going towards them!
They hugged the lake's shoreline.

What a difference a week makes! 
The first three photos below taken last week.
Compare the road in then -

to now - - - -

My Clivia amply compensate me for the winter loss of the gardens. (I like the break from gardening chores.) This is the first plant blooming this winter (below). One of the other adult plants has two separate blooming stalks just starting. I started with one Clivia about 30 years ago; although very slow growing, they do well for me and now I have four adult plants - three are adult "babies" from seeds from the original one. The seeds take two years attached to the mother plant before they can be removed, potted, and live independently. I have also given away several other adult plants, one had creamy-yellow flowers. They are very long lived. I currently have two middle aged ones about 7 years old that have not flowered yet but should flower soon, and about a dozen four year old "seedlings" which I am going to have to separate and pot. Then I will need adoptive homes for them -  soon. Does anyone want one of these orange beauties?

They have very thick roots which seem to store water; they seem to prefer being 'pot bound' - to have their roots under pressure. (They do not like to be re-potted and won't flower for a few years after being transplanted until they are once again pot bound.) I water them twice a week and they get about four hours of good sunlight.  I never put them outdoors in the summer. Each leaf can live for several years and the risk of being sunburned is too great a threat to risk overexposure to the harsher summer sun. They love the conditions here. The flowers have a delightful light and pleasant odor; the color is perfect for chasing away the winter blahs.

Clivia miniata

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Lake Affect Flurries - Thursday, December 7, 2017

My lovely fifteen year old Icelandic Sheepdog Kata today at noon. She prefers going outside alone - the youngsters are so rambunctious! I think she looks pretty good; her sixteenth birthday happens this coming January. Clicking on photos enlarges them.

Early mornings I often see lake affect clouds of evaporated lake water developing over Lake Huron; at this time of year those clouds often dump lake affect snow on Canada which is right across the lake from me. Lake affect snow also develops along the west shore of Lake Michigan all the way across the sate but it rarely reaches me here.

For a couple of weeks I've been working in West Wood trimming dead branches off the evergreens and cutting down dead trees. Walking back from my "play" I travel down my road to my house; this is my view. Lake Huron is at the far end. Today there were white caps on the lake.

These were lake affect clouds this afternoon. Those clouds develop this time of year because the water is warmer than the air which causes evaporation of the water. Note the freighter in both shots

Over the years I have written some articles and filed them away thinking that one day I might use them as chapters for a second book on my beloved Icelandic Sheepdogs. I've been talking with the publishing company that worked with me on my first book. I'm crossing my fingers that things will work out and my second book on Icelandic Sheepdogs might happen and might be published sometime this coming winter. For the first book Christine Vowles and I used lots of photos contributors provided as illustrations for the chapters. If this all works out, and I realize that's a big IF, this time I will try and use mostly photos of my own dogs thereby avoiding the need to get permission from photographers and owners.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

December 3, 2017

Pete Mangiaricini inspired my life long interest in the arts generally and specifically the visual arts when I was in grade school and he was my art teacher. Today is his birthday; Thank you Mr. M.

This morning showed us a great view of a "super moon" - it's brighter (16%) and appears larger (7%) now than at any time in the last 68 years. The moon's orbit is not a perfect circle; it's more oval. It's now both closer to the earth by about 30,000 miles and it's also a full moon. Clicking on images enlarges them.

This morning looking west out my kitchen window towards my West Woods the moon looked like this: -

And a few minutes later look east towards Canada over Lake Huron before the sun rose, I marveled again at "first light" views: -

The soft pastel colors of first lights are amazing.

I've been working for a few weeks in West Woods trimming the dead branches of the evergreens, mostly several kinds of spruce but also some Scots pines, Austrian pines, red pines, white pines, balsams, and even a few enormous birch bark trees, maples, and even one red oak tree. Yesterday I managed to clear a path from the western part of the forest almost to Sans Souci, aka the pole barn. The goal is to be able to walk all the way from Sans Souci to the largest and oldest part of West Wood. I've been leaving all the branches where they fell with the hope that as they decompose they will enrich the soil. Time will tell.

Usually I have one or two feral cats; this year's feline I've named "Tom" as in tomcat! Not very creative but it's an easy to remember name. He, although it could just as easily be she, routinely scouts along the road in for small mammals and probably birds. Although he doesn't come when called, he isn't shy. I'm afraid a car coming in fast could recycle him.

Working in West Wood I found this deer skull half-buried in the soil at the base of a large spruce tree. A few years ago before I had moved here permanently a son of one of my former neighbors here, an erstwhile hunter, shot at but only wounded a deer that escaped. They looked for it extensively on my property before giving up. I didn't really consider him a hunter because they had been feeding deer about 50 yards from their cottage and that's where the deer was wounded as soon as hunting season opened.

I wonder if that deer had found refuge in my forest and hidden in the forest floor hugging branches of that spruce to die. The skull was all I found. Perhaps the rest of the bones were scattered by foxes, raccoons, mice, opossums, feral cats, etc.

Years ago, decades now really, this moose skull was also discovered in situ in a field - not hunted at least by me. As you can no doubt see they are close relatives.

To be perfectly clear. I am not opposed to hunting especially when the normal predator populations have already been decimated by humans. I'm deeply saddened and angered when "hunters" kill animals like African elephants, rhinos, giraffes, lions, bears, wolves, snow leopards, etc. The list unfortunately goes on and on. Of course we have too many deer and Canada geese. Their predators have been removed or severely reduced in number. Many of our problems like the  spread of Lyme and related diseases by tick infested small rodents and deer are, in my opinion, caused by reducing or virtually eliminating predator populations which in turn results in the overpopulation of prey populations. (Increasing the frequency and length of hunting seasons could perhaps reduce the incidence of disease caused by those vector species - one wonders.) Why on earth don't we have vaccinations for those horrific diseases?

Monday, November 27, 2017

Monday, November 27, 2017

Iris finally came up again and we had a "yuge" birthday celebration: -

Iris and her birthday carrot cake
Visiting once a year is not often enough I'm afraid.

We had an abundance of great food for Thanksgiving including: many stinky cheeses with crackers, broccoli salad, scalloped potatoes, baked squash, rolls, steaks, dressing, for desert - two kinds of pie and a fruit tart. Tracy made a beautiful seasonal centerpiece for the Thanksgiving table. John and Jon cooked the steaks without too much drama this year. Fortunately all the dishes seemed to be ready at almost the same time - something of a miracle considering.

 Sunrise Thanksgiving Morning

I think JohnC said it best, "A million dollar view!"

The shots below were taken last week. The views are spectacular, the environment is amazing, the air is clean and fresh. It's never exactly the same view.

Belle came up for a repeat visit with her new best buddies - Korpur, Bear, Kit, Pila, Totty, Kria, Kata. Warhol and Frank pouted probably in Sans Souci - which is, however imo, a great place to pout. Maybe next time? Our furry friends are getting older - so are we.

The weather was excellent for late November and walks were taken on the roads in and also all along the shore both north and south of our Lake Huron beach and, as usual, many interesting fossils - including many fossilized corals (called Petoskey stones here) - were found. We noticed that recent storms somehow managed to transport several large boulders to the ever changing water line. How on earth is that possible (rhetorically speaking)? The strength of water is amazing.

It has seemed like we saw freighters more often this year. Perhaps that's related to the economy? The breaking waves in front of the freighters gives, albeit from a distance, an idea of wave action a third of the way out into the lake.

The dogs and I are recovering from the excitement, drama, food, friends, and find peace after things slow down. Korpur especially misses his two legged friends; all of the animals are, however, much more subdued and, anthropomorphically speaking, saddened by the monotony of being with just me. Once again the cats feel free to roam the house trying unsuccessfully, for now, to tease the dogs with their presence. Normal! Clicking on photos enlarges them.

It's time to call the plumber, the upholsterer, the doctors, the vets, do some gardening- the dahlias need to be "garaged", and to mail checks, finish putting things back in place, do laundry, sigh! The congenial monotony of everyday life.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Frank and Warhol

Warhol and Frankie came up with mom and dad for a short pre-Thanksgiving visit. Clicking on photos will enlarge them.

Tracy and Jon preparing a yummy autumn breakfast of sausages, pancakes, and eggs on a cold November morning.