Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

While it  has not been exactly "Indian Summer" weather, nevertheless, it has been very nice up here, perfect temperatures, and lots of sunshine, for the past week or so. Tracy, Jon, Val, and Warhol came up Sunday and we had a great dinner followed by a really good French movie

We had lunch at Mary's in Port Sanilac on Monday, shopped for a way to move my antique seed separator from behind the pole barn (where it I had found it half-buried in the dirt) up to the house, dreamt about rehabbing a building in downtown Port Sanilac, and squeezed our butts into the clearly not-designed for-adults-swings in the park.

Sadly the ice cream store was closed for the season - how silly is that? People eat ice cream all year these days. Later before a pasta dinner we had an amazing appetizer picnic with grape juice on our rocks at the "Waterfall".

Today was a wake-up call; the weather changed dramatically overnight to more seasonably normal wet and chilly. Dogs are exhausted!

Sunday, September 28, 2014


When I lived in Royal Oak, weekends were great. Most people went up north to their cottages to spend the weekends which meant it was usually very quiet down there.
The day started out foggy but still lovely.
Most trees up here have not started to change.
Usually stressed trees change before healthy ones.

Now that I live up here, the reverse is true.
Interesting pattern in the clouds - like zig zags!
Clicking on photos enlarges them.

The weeks are great because the weekenders (aka city people) are not up here and it's very, very quiet. However, the hum of lawnmowers starts when the first people arrive for the weekend; the first thing they must do, apparently, is mow their lawns to golf course perfection. I don't. Mow. As a result I have crickets, grasshoppers, praying mantids, ants galore, garter snakes, and, yes, ground dwelling yellow jackets, etc. in abundance.

On the way back from breakfast in Bad Axe, I saw these wild gleaning turkeys, I'm guessing a hen with poults. They had been out in a field until I stopped to photograph them. They then warily ran to an out building. I hear them at my house but can't get them to pose for me. Hmmm. Wonder why!

Friday, September 26, 2014


For Brian: -


A field of ripening soybeans can be as beautiful as a field of sunflowers or haystacks, ain't it?

Tell me that isn't Monet or Van Gogh!
A silver maple in Sandusky, Michigan

Many Hosta are hybrids between "wild" species. The majority now are several generations removed from their wild ancestors. This is one species that I am very fond of. It was moved up north (leaving the majority of the clump down south) this spring and has done very well so far. It will get to be a bigger clump with time.

There are several of these one room red brick schoolhouses scattered around here. Can you see the date? These were built to last and look like they are still in good conditions even though unused now. Many still have outhouses behind them!

Power Outage

Thursday we lost electrical power from DTE. That's the fifth or sixth time we've lost power in the last month. At 11:00-ish a.m. I came in to feed the dogs their daily carrots and found the house 'powerless'. I called immediately; they said it would be out until one o'clock. (We had just lost power the previous weekend; both times the weather was gorgeous.) The next message said the power would return before 3:00; then - before 5:00; then - before 7:00; then before 9:30. Of course we all realize how dependent we are on electricity; I couldn't even exit the garage in order to get something to eat at The Forester Inn because the garage door opener is - - - electric. ( I could have opened it manually but considering my age and condition, I opted not to try. Getting things back up and running has become more complicated. Alas.
The sun was trying to burn off the fog over Lake Huron this morning.

Before we lost power I had been pruning back some Russian olive shrubs and had disturbed a yellow jacket nest in an abandoned mouse nest/burrow. After at least four stings, I realized what had happened and ran. Thank goodness for baking soda! However, I think I deserved the stings. Karma! I had complained about having the pest control people go to my former house in Royal Oak to eliminate some "bees" at the request, the reasonable request, of the prospective new owners. The "bees" were really most likely yellow jackets and I cavalierly suggested that they are not as serious a potential problem as a colony of honey bees would have been. Easy to say when you haven't been stung. It's been probably four or five decades since I've had a hornet, yellow jacket, mud dauber sting. Like an electric shock! Unfortunately I dropped my clippers after the stings and cannot find them - - - yet. Maybe I'll wait until some killing frosts to look for them more carefully. The nest is big and active today. Once stung, twice shy - - to borrow a phrase.

Dumb and dumber. The day before I was working in a part of the north forest clearing out dogwood and choke cherries and ran into some poison ivy. this summer I have removed several patches of poison ivy without incident. Karma! I got cocky. And I got poison ivied! With no Calamine, Caladryl, etc. in the house. I washed carefully but uselessly. Fortunately there's a small pharmacy in nearby (15 minutes away) Deckerville which had some lotion. It's working.

Coming back from Sandusky, Michigan I saw several trees with Virginia Creepers (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) in them. They turn such nice shades of red and burgundy in the fall and, unlike grapevines, do not strangle the trees they climb in but seem to coexist peacefully with them. They cascade down from the tree whereas grapevines cover the trees preventing the sun from reaching the leaves of the tree which eventually causes the death of the tree.

The silver maple tree is still green but its companion Virginia Creeper has colored already.

The mail-lady came today with some spring flowering bulbs (84 of them) from McClure and Zimmerman to be planted now in the north forest so I'm off to work play. Some blue anemone blanda, Daffodil poeticus and actaea, some wild tulip species (clusiana chrysantha & tuberens, preastans Zwanenburg, tarda - dasystemon). I really love the species tulips and unlike the large hybrids, they spread if they are happy.

Clicking on photos enlarges them.

This variety of Colchicum is as large as hybrid tulips. The flowers emerge in the fall sans green leaves which appear in the spring and last until early to mid summer when they die back completely. Then in early to late fall, depending on the variety, the flowers emerge amaryllis-like, a wonderful autumn surprise during the last gasp of nice weather.

Serendipity! The much smaller flower of a white colchicum variety which I found at the base of an old stump which had to be removed when the house was built up here, must have hitched a ride along with another plant from Royal Oak. That plant I moved on purpose must not have survived because this tiny flower looks desolate and alone in the weeds wildflowers. (See the Lily of the Valley leaf at about 7:00? Back in R.O. this white variety produces many, many small flowers from each bulb. The different varieties of Colchicums extend the fall flowering season for about a month or so with each one coming into bloom at a slightly different time.

I have a large all-volunteer patch of Lily of the Valley plants. They are not native to North America but have spread. Some people don't like them because they are aliens but I do like them. Deer don't eat them. Neither do slugs. As a result, if I plant a tasty plant in the middle of the Lilies of the Valley (Lily of the Valleys!?), the deer and slugs leave them alone. That's how I plant some Hosta too. I also like Vinca for the same reason - alien, and not liked by deer and slugs. And Lythrum. I found a patch of Lythrums along a dirt road up here. I will move some to my property next time I see them flowering - next summer. I know they are aliens but so are phragmites and dandelions and no one is obsessed with removing them, are they?

Often, very often, I find surprise hitchhikers growing in with a plant I moved up here on purpose. I love, love, love those volunteers, those pioneers! They bring back memories - - while also leaving some relatives behind for the future enjoyment of new owners, I hope.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


I just finished enjoying "The Roosevelts", the newest Ken Burns special on PBS, filled with interesting stuff about Teddy, Eleanor, and Franklin.

Among the sillier things: Kermit was the name of one of the Roosevelts' children. Below Kermit sits on the rock for the first time. I named him after the Jim Hensen character and before I learned about Kermit Roosevelt. but it "works" I think. Perhaps Tryggur is actually Miss Piggy? My Totty was named for Eleanor whose pet name was Totty.

After 10% of the pond was dug by John, it started to rain so things were put on hold for about three or four weeks; there was rainstorm and a resulting flooding disaster down in the Detroit area in August and John had to return down home to rescue people and their basements. Kermit, as a very young and small froglet, showed up at the pond site before it was finished and moved right in! He got a web-foot hold on his new territory and has stayed around since then.

Clicking on photos enlarges them.

The cross hatch shadows on the rock is from the netting which protects the fish, frog, turtle(?) from aerial predators like herons, seagulls, bald eagles, etc. Yesterday morning I found a big wet spot on one of the rocks and the netting was in disarray. This morning I saw a woodchuck running from my vegetable garden. (I use the term "vegetable garden" loosely! Next year will be better, all gardeners say.)

Got my flu shot today. Lost electricity last night for about the fourth time in the last month and a half. Is there something about monopolies that makes them feel like they can do (or not do) anything. I'm concerned about our deteriorating infrastructure. Water, gas, electricity, roads - you can't just set them up and forget them. Politicians.

Talked with Daren about doing some improvements on the west end of the pole barn. He did a great job on the east end. He can't get started until December; that would be fine, said I. He'll get back to me with a bid.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Last Day of Summer

Even so, it feels like fall. Today. Tomorrow, some summer days still.
We have had new ferocious storms almost every other day for several weeks now. Gorgeous and awe inspiring. We remain snug as bugs in a rug. Even the Pond is filled to almost overflowing. Yesterday a snapping turtle baby was found curled up inside its shell and upside down on the wood chips by the dogs. I suspect a bird had snatched it up and accidentally dropped it. I let it go in the pond, probably not the best idea. John made himself to home and disappeared.

There are some birch trees west of my kitchen window. I've put out bird houses all over my North Woods; most were occupied by house wrens and chickadees this summer. The best house - above - didn't measure up to any bird's standards and remained empty all summer. Maybe it was too close to the trunk; the others were all hanging from wispy branches where they would be safer from possible predators.

This Michaelmas Daisy has just started to flower and reminded me of one of those modern Christmas trees with fiber optic lights. Only the tips of the branches have open flowers so far. You might be able to see it better by clicking on the photo to enlarge it.

An interesting line from a current read: - Flying Shoes by Lisa Howorth - "You're only as happy as your unhappiest child." That's a line some parents should take to heart.

Last summer the lake shoreline was about a hundred yards out, probably where the white caps are breaking in this photo; now my two islands are really islands. Maybe by this time next year they, and the saplings and shrubs on them, will be submerged. My yellow stone Adirondack chair may be submarined also.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Saturday, September 20, 2014

How sweet it is - was that a line from Jackie Gleason?

Clicking on photos enlarges them.

Saw these on the way to meet a friend for lunch. (Can anyone guess what they are? Here's a hint: Big Chief and Pioneer. Another one? Swiss chard - related.) It seems like many, many months since I've seen her and it was good to catch up.

When you get away from the scenic road (M-25 or Lakeshore Road) which follows along the edge of the Thumb by Lake Huron and Saginaw Bay, you see dozens and dozens of these! I wonder what the farmers make from them? Seems like a good "crop", eh? They are huge.

My Colchicums have started to flower. I am so happy about that. I was concerned that they hadn't survived. (See my post from 9/15/'14.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

I love sunrises and sunsets up here near Forestville. Spectacular!
Looking east towards Canada - Ontario.
I'd call that a Constable sky, would you? Clicking enlarges photos.
Same day/time looking west back at the front porch.

These shots, because of the shadows probably, reminded me of our family cottage west of South Lyon on Silver Lake between Ann Arbor and Brighton where we Harding cousins spent glorious summers in the country.

My Mother's family was from the South Lyon & New Hudson area. Grandpa moved the family away from South Lyon to Rosedale Park because he had offices in the Fisher Building. They wanted a place they could go back to in order to visit family. It's most likely the last cottage on the lake now surrounded by big-foot houses. I decided to build up north because my family didn't welcome my visits to the lake. I wanted to retire on water, prices around Southeast Michigan were outrageous, prices up here were better, the dogs wanted more room. However, I miss the conveniences of living crowded.

Went to Mary's for breakfast and then to Sandusky for a ten minute oil change - which took less than ten minutes but it took about 15 minutes to roll the oil gauge up to 100% - a problem I have every time I change my oil. Honda!! I love Homer, my Odyssey, but on a car with this many gadgets and innovations you would think they could get that right, right and easy!

I also stopped in the Secretary of State's Sandusky office to change the address on my driver's license and register to vote up here. No line! No wait. Done in about a minute. I'm used to taking a number and waiting in hard metal chairs along with two dozen other unhappy folks for our turn with grumpy, overworked clerks - plural. My clerk was alone and quick and happy. I didn't even get a chance to sit down to read my Kindle.

On the way back home, HOME!, I saw a man putting flags on the fire hydrants - an annual chore done in the fall so firemen-women can find the hydrants in winter snows. The height of the flags is a warning, I suspect. Ha!

Monday, September 15, 2014


The colchicums I moved up here are not flowering. Stress? Soil?

I'm hoping they have started to flower for Ed and Kate.

Here are some photos from previous years. Can we call them a harbinger of autumn? (I've always heard 'harbinger of spring'! Why not fall? It's a beautiful time of year too.)

Clicking on photos enlarges them.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Icelandic Sheepdogs were shown in conformation at an AKC trial in nearby St. Clair County; we now live in Sanilac County. So early Saturday morning I was traveling on small country roads in order to get there at show time around 8:00 a.m. I'm glad I did - even though I got lost twice (of course I did NOT ask for directions and I do not have GPS). Some corners where two roads meet have no road signs so you don't know the names of the roads unless you live nearby. Duh! Other roads change their names every few miles. One road had four different names! (I know, I know, I'm making excuses. I'm allowed.)

I saw some good friends including Coleen Schmidt whose male Laki (Foothills Laki) was used with Totty for her first litter, and Tina Carney who was there with a very nice boy (I missed his name) that I would love to be able to use with Totty some time in the future. His temperament was very calm like Bear's. I wonder if the relationship is too close, however. I also wonder if he carries either the b-gene or the at-gene - or both?

Jennifer was there with two of her girls Nella (Hidow Stassa Nella) who is almost two years old I think and her newest puppy Isabella (Stefsstells Ingalo Isabella) born in February from a great kennel owned by Stefanía Sigurðardóttir in Iceland. They both did very well last weekend.

Nella - left and a new male (right) bred by Colleen
Clicking on photos enlarges them.

I've been lobbying for Edgar as a handler - so far unsuccessfully. I've been reminded of the phrase several times recently: Things will turn out OK in the end. If they are not OK, then it's not the end. I'm never sure if it's "Che sera, sera." or "Que sera, sera." (Probably the former.)

Lake Huron looked pink this morning. Something I apparently cannot capture on film - well, it's not really "film" per se anymore is it?

David and Carolyn are taking one of their fantastic trips soon. I'm envious, of course. I wish I had a traveling companion.

Kathy's older brother and wife are coming back from their new home for their "homecoming". I shudder at doing same. Never. Not this old rose!

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Gilda Snowden

I just found out that Gilda Snowden passed away today. She was an instructor at College for Creative Studies in Detroit and was exhibited at the Detroit Institute of Arts. A few years ago I met Gilda, her husband Bill Boswell, and their daughter Katherine Boswell at Gilda's studio. Over the years I also ran into them a few times at shows. She enfolded people with her love and caring. My thoughts and prayers are with the family.

Before I met Gilda in person I fell in love with her by way of a painting that Craig Nowak did. I think you can see her, really see her, in that portrait. It's now hanging on the wall of my home in Palms, Michigan.

In addition to being a great artist herself, she was a dedicated instructor and committed mentor to students, staff, and her fellow artists. She will be deeply missed.

Clicking on the photo will enlarge it.

Rudbeckia lancinata

It  was a long trip and a struggle to survive but the few Rudbeckia lancinata I brought up here from 810 managed to make it, even if they didn't actually "thrive", and are a pleasant reminder of their relatives back in R.O. The goldfinches have found them and the one Silphium perfoliatum that actually flowered this summer. The latter is a perennial sunflower and stunning when it reaches full form. The stem comes through the leaves which form a cup where they meet. The cup collects water when it rains and stores small amounts which the birds quickly find. I'm hoping some seeds will survive and grow next spring. They certainly spread throughout my 810 yard!

Rudbeckia lancinata
Clicking on photos enlarges them.

They were both picky eaters this year but next year they should do much better. Everything I transplanted from R.O. survived thanks to the overly generous rain we've had this summer. The water level in Lake Huron is way up!!

I plan on going to the 6:45 p.m. showing of "The Hundred Foot Journey" in Sandusky this afternoon.

Brian of HF Architecture (see the link above right) said he and his photographer were coming up this week to take photos, indoor and outdoor, of the house. I haven't heard from him, not surprisingly, so I don't know if their plans have changed. We are expecting yet another severe storm on Wednesday. The dogs love storms, the louder it is and the more lightening flashes there are, the more they like it. I suspect that's from being natives to Iceland where they are farm and herding dogs. Gotta be tough to survive there! Maybe the coming storm will change Brian's plans.

Speaking of Icelandics, earlier this week I thought Totty was coming into season, now I don't. She has done this before: started and then stopped. It's in her nature. I'm wondering if Sunna takes after mom!

Eric from last year's new house building up here in Palms stopped by yesterday and tried to fix the flashing around two of the door-walls.

I've never talked about my geothermal - so far I'm loving it.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Super Moon - Sunday, September 7, 2014

I'm thinking tonight we'll have a full moon.

n.b. - I missed the full moon by one day. I just heard that this moon was a super, super moon and a harvest moon. Harvest moons are defined as the full moon that comes closest to the autumnal equinox - I think I have that right - which is in late September. Super moons are full moons that occur when the moon comes closest to the earth. That happened in July, August, and September this year.

(Clicking on photos enlarges them.)

I have NEVER been as aware of the phases of the moon as I am now. Fascinating. And the stars up here! Amazing. It is no wonder that remote ancestors were so impressed by the night skies.

Korpur, Tryggur and Kata

My southern neighbors up here have started cutting down and burning their phragmites. My turn next - as soon as the weather turns cool, perhaps.

Totty and Pila

Totty may be starting her season. If so we may have chosen her mate. Getting them together, however, is going to take a village!

I had a very nice note from Kate who along with her husband Ed and the two sets of twins, Curtis and Rose who will be living in the two southern bedrooms on the second floor, and Marion and Pearl who will be living together in the original master bedroom on the northern side of the second floor. The largest bedroom on the second floor will become a playroom, sleepover room (and perhaps when they are older, a study room?). They have moved in and slept there for the first time last night.

Perhaps the real PITA people were our agents.

I asked if they might close off the first floor master bedroom with a door; there isn't one there now; it's open. She said, "I love the flow of it and we would need a very good reason to change that."

Real estate agents insisted that I remove a door that used to be between the kitchen and living room. I did not like the idea but gave in. I kept that door closed 99% of the time because it provided privacy. Kate said, "This was one of the first conversations my husband and I had!  I told him I felt closing that off would be a good idea."

People used to think that my gardening took a lot of time. It didn't actually. I know it took less time than mowing the lawn would have taken. I worked on the garden in the spring and the fall when the weather was moderate. If I kept ahead of weeds before they had a chance to grow, it was easy. I rarely worked in the yard in the summer; too hot and I'm too fair - the sun has done a job on me over the years.

I loved this remark about the plants in my former yard: - "Do you feel you got everything you think you would want?  If not please don't feel as if you couldn't come get things." I did try and take cuttings and divisions of many of my plants; quite a few of them are heirlooms from Grandpa and Grandma Hansen and Grandpa and Grandma Harding. It was exceedingly nice of her to offer, don't you think?

I did get virtually everything I wanted. If they survive the transplanting and the coming winter, I'll be happy.

I read that Lake Huron is up 28" this summer. My two islands are almost NOT islands now. Last summer they were surrounded by dry land and rocks. People up here say that it may still be going up because of all the rain this summer. If we get another snowy winter like the one from 2013/2014, and another totally iced-in Great Lakes winter too, the water should be at an all time high!

By the way, the new goldfish from "The Pond Guy" and two native (indigenous) bullfrogs are doing great so far. The frogs arrived after John Cynar had started digging the hole for the pond. It sat unfinished for about three weeks because of the disastrous rain down south in the Detroit area. Water collected in the hole and the two small bullfrogs showed up. I rescued them and kept them in the garage. As soon as the pond was done, they went in. They have more than doubled in size in less than two weeks!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Good Buy - Good Bye


I went to the 810 house before closing today and pruned and weeded a bit. Ron, my Re-Max agent, stopped by with more "unusual" news from the buyers - some last minute demands. - the day of closing.
Later at closing they wanted to meet and ask me questions. That ship had sailed. I acceded to all their demands. I did not want to be ambushed any further by revealing any more information on the house. I had written several pages with the names and contact information for virtually any worker they might have need of. Those guys were/are all good people - - - - and I did not want to burden them with a, IMO, PITA-person. I had also revealed some of the quirks that virtually all houses have. I did not want those revelations to come back and bite me in the butt. Sorry.
On the plus side - - -  at least her (their?) behavior took away any sadness that I might have had leaving my home for literally half of my life, and my city for virtually all of my life - - behind.

Also on the plus side, I was gone from 7:30 to almost 4:00 and the dogs had been GREAT! No accidents, no damage; they were happy to see me. Thank God for them.