Entries to Win Afghan

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Winners are: 3rd place- e-book of your choice: Wendy Nystrom. 2nd place- book of your choice, paper or e-book: Sue Ann Crawford. Winner of the afghan: Elaine Hull.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Too Much Fun to Blog

Ester is here. We are just having fun, even though it was too hot to move. We went out for burgers, and had ice cream at home.

ice cream

We watched a movie and Jade watched us.

ice cream

I know this isn't a high quality post, but having Ester here IS high quality, so I'm going to stop writing and get back to enjoying our friendship.

See Saved by the Clouds and Ester
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Friday, September 22, 2017

My Trailer Redo - Days 29-49 - Stripping Round 1 Done!

The first phase of the stripping is 100% done! I thought I'd never get there.

fiberglass trailer

(Skip this part if you don't want the technical stuff.) Just for the record, I used almost exactly 1.5 gallons of Citristrip. In my opinion, it worked well. Some areas of paint came off with one application, some took two. This seemed to be related to the thickness of the paint, and how much it had degraded. However, the temperature also seemed to matter. I think the stripper worked best between 70 and 80 degrees. It definitely worked less well below 70. I left the stripper on for about an hour before scraping. It was usually dried in that time, but it had also soaked into the old paint. It didn't seem to soak in well at lower temperatures. If I left it longer than an hour it didn't seem to work better, but only took longer between coats. After each area was scraped, I wiped it down with mineral spirits.

I recommend buying as many plastic scrapers as you are willing to. They were only a buck each, but I'm cheap. I used 6. A better number would have been 8. Not only do they get dull, but the plastic actually softens. I was able to put a bit of an edge back on them, but it didn't help much because they got too flexible. I did like using a narrow one (1.5 inch) for tight curves. And I also used a kitchen scrubby for really tight places.

Getting this job done doesn't mean I'm anywhere near ready to paint. I have to finish filling those big holes with fiberglass, and there are a lot of dings to be smoothed out with filler. A final filler coat has to go over the bigger holes too.

fiberglass trailer

I also have to go over the whole thing at least one more time to remove the residue from this stripping. Lacquer thinner and a Scotch-brite pad were recommended. I tried a test patch and wasn't overwhelmed with the results. But that's something to figure out another day.

I'm also about ready to pull the windows and lights.

fiberglass trailer

Don't even ask how long this will take. It will take as long as it does. Some days the weather doesn't cooperate. Other days I'm just too tired after work. Today... Worked all day (but we did finish early), came home and did trailer stripping and wrote another 500 words of Dead Mule Swamp Druggist, and am headed back to work for the night in less than an hour. Energized is great, but eventually I crash.

It hasn't got much to do with the trailer, except that I was outside to see it... the sky was gorgeous!


and I finished the trailer job just at sunset.


See 23-29, Half Stripped
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Thursday, September 21, 2017


The early evening sky was swirly with clouds (north).


Sunrise and sunset weren't too shabby either (east and west).



I'm beat. That says it all for me. The sky just keeps on doing its beautiful things. I'm less consistent.

See Sky Show
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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Zucchini Days

Today was pretty busy- work, shopping, stripping trailer, and a meeting this evening. Still hoping to write a little. I also made zucchini bread- two loaves. That used up half of the smaller one I had. Took some to the meeting. Somebody from work gave me a monster one today. I think a big batch of soup is going to happen. But not today.

zucchini bread

If you work with me, you'll be having Heather's soup and my bread for lunch tomorrow. Otherwise... too bad! Or you can come visit- I think someone is coming this weekend. Stay tuned.

More bread could go in the freezer for work snacks too.

See Quiet
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Tuesday, September 19, 2017

36,37... Don't Ruffle My Feathers

Our feathers are permanently ruffled, so you can't make them any more so. We will just stand here in this corner and observe. Perhaps we have an attachment disorder.

metal flamingo

That would be really bad news, because flamingos need to be social, living in large groups, to breed successfully.

Over 20 different encounters, and now 37 flamingos. The series continues.

See flamingo posts
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Monday, September 18, 2017

Green Mansions

A few years ago, I came across a copy of a book at a rummage sale that I'd been wanting to re-read. The book is Green Mansions, by William Henry Hudson, published in 1904. Although he was an ornithologist and naturalist, and wrote many books, he is perhaps best remembered for this work. It was required reading in one of my high school English classes.

Green Mansions
And that brings me to why I wanted to read it again. It's certainly not my kind of book. Not then, not now. However, all I could remember from so long ago was the basic plot and that I found it strangely disturbing. There are only a few books that have ever left me with that kind of feeling. As an adult, I finally figured out that the stories that confused and troubled me this way were ones where I identified with more than one of the main characters.

Ever since I realized this, I'd been looking for a copy of Green Mansions. Found this one for a dollar!

I'm going to digress a minute to talk about the book itself. This is a Heritage Club reprint (1937) of a special book club edition. The Limited Edition Club was a subscription service created in 1929 by George Macy with only 1500 copies of each book printed. The Heritage Club offered more affordable reprints. The originals had stunning artwork, by famous artists. This book was illustrated by Miguel Covarrubias.

Green Mansions
Anyway, I wanted to find out if I would still react the same way to this book that I did as a young teenager. The answer is "no." Not at all. In fact, I had to force myself to finish the book.

I think back then I saw myself both as the explorer who wanted to search out the unknown parts of the jungle (not really the point of the first person protagonist- but I was too naive to "get it."), and as Rima the almost magical girl of the forest who could communicate with the animals, appear and disappear almost mystically, and who had no people, was unique. I think I somehow guessed that the story could not end well, but didn't understand why.

The style is flowery and romantic. Very much the style around 1900, but not so much a century later. It's the kind of book I can't really stand any more, where we hear every nuance of thought and emotion.

Even so, it will probably end up on my best books of the year list (that I haven't shared for a few years), because now it's disturbing for different reasons. It's all about lost love, and love that can never be fulfilled, and the death of innocence, and tragedies of non-acceptance. Classic literature is usually good for a reason, no matter the writing style.

It can be read online for free, at several sites that carry books that are out of copyright.

See Best Books of 2013
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Sunday, September 17, 2017

Manistee National Forest- Challenge Hike #11

Today there were nine hikers. Several of our regulars had other commitments, but we've added some new faces as we've gotten farther north so the group size stays about the same.

group of hikers

Warning- there are a lot of pictures in this post. Enjoy or skip, as you wish. It just seemed like there was good variety in today's experiences.

I'm always looking for the miniature scenes. Is this a condo for tiny elves?

mushrooms on log

Everyone who hikes the section through Udell Hills has to find This Is It. The outfits change with the seasons.

This is it

It was nice to have a picnic table for a break midway (and a latrine). Sara, Kevin and Ed shown here.

group of hikers at picnic table

Cedar Creek is a lovely little stream that meanders until it flows into the Manistee River.

Cedar Creek

Right in the middle of the second half is a 3 mile roadwalk that we haven't been able to find an alternate route around. I just get a kick out of it. The two roads are Michigan Avenue and Chicago Avenue. Seems rather pretentious for two ordinary dirt roads.

dirt road corner

Fall colors are just starting, but in a few places they were lovely.

fall colors

The trail crosses the road to Blacksmith Bayou campground.

blacksmith Bayou

I had forgotten what a pretty piece of trail this final section of we did today is. Because of that roadwalk, I don't do this piece very often. Most of it is on benched trail high above the marshy edges of the Manistee River.

trail on bluff

Then it drops down on a set of long switchbacks almost to river level. The willows were starting to look autumnal as well.


At last we reached and crossed the Manistee River. Our cars were just on the other side.

Manistee River

11.2 miles today. It was pretty hot- high seventies, but also cloudy so it wasn't brutal. By the time we finished it had started to cool down a little.

The joke of the day? For me it's this picture. I was going to make some sort of comment about the new polypore replacing the old, but clearly, instead I've caught a grinning shark coming around the edge of a reef.

smiling polypore.

Just a great day.

North Country Trail, Manistee County. Skocelas Road to Highbridge. 11.2 miles

See Challenge Hike #10
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Saturday, September 16, 2017

I'll Take a Slice of That Please!

Coming home from work this morning there was one slice of a feature that was so compelling I stopped at a place I could see it better. I had to lie down in the wet grass to get a picture with no wires across the face. And the focus isn't great.

rising crescent moon

I took more photos when I got home, with a tripod, but by then the moon was high enough that the orange color was about gone. It only takes five minutes to make all the difference!

rising crescent moon

By the way, if you want to remember which "direction" the moon phase is headed, try "right rising, left leaving." This means when the crescent is on the right side the moon is waxing (heading toward full). When the crescent is on the left, like this one, the moon is waning (heading toward new or dark).

And, it ended up that I did take a picture yesterday, after I did the blog post game. The sunset was peaceful in pastels. Nothing gaudy, but beautiful in its own way.


In other news, little Steve turned 43 today. I called him. He's celebrating by having the flu, poor guy! But we did have a nice talk.

See My Sweetheart's the Man in the Moon for a waxing crescent moon
See My Little Squirt is 39
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Friday, September 15, 2017

The Old File Folder Game

As it turned out, I didn't take any pictures today. Just busy. But I do have full internet and computer back. That sure is quality, but not much of a picture.

So, I just asked for numbers from friends on Facebook to match to files on my external hard drive. 42 got me in Family 2012 pictures. 2 selected pictures taken by me. Finally, 3 brought me to this gem. Actually, this is a really good picture of Omer, doing one of the things he likes best. Enjoying Christmas!

man in Santa hat

He's currently off on a road trip visiting friends.

Me? I'm off to work for the night. Feeling totally neutral about it. Not tired, stressed, or happy, It just is what it is.

See Om Says 12 for a similar post where he chose the number
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Thursday, September 14, 2017

Couldn't Put it Down

There aren't too many books I read any more that I find compelling. I still love to read, but now that I'm "really" a writer, I've also become a critic. That has it's drawbacks.

After I finished the previous blog post, I thought I'd read myself to sleep with the book by Judy Updike, Broken for His Glory. Ha! Stayed up most of the night reading and then had to go to work half asleep in the morning. As soon as I got home from work, did I take a nap? Heck, no. I finished that book.

Broken for His Glory

To be truthful, I'm a little too close to the story to be totally objective. Judy and I grew up in the same church. I remember the folds of land at her farm, the roads and houses. I know most of the people in the book. That said, these events happened after my mom died in 1995, and I haven't been back to that village more than a couple of times since then.

Judy's uncle Harlan was our pastor until I was 10. He had a dry sense of humor that I was just beginning to appreciate at that age, but he was always gentle and caring. Her aunt Rachael filled many roles (as pastor's wives often did) but I remember her most clearly as the leader of Junior Church. Thinking back from an adult perspective, I've realized what a gift she had, because the church was small and all the kids from preschool to 5th or 6th grade were thrown together for about 40 minutes. She handled them all with skill, and learning occurred despite the huge age range.

This picture was in 1958, the year they left our church.

Harlan and Rachael Clayton

They later came back to the area and were good friends with my mother in retirement years. Here they are again in 1983.

Harlan and Rachael Clayton

I'm sorry that I don't have any pictures of Judy's parents. Her dad was quiet and probably avoided pictures (at least at church), but her mom, Dorothy, was a Sunday School teacher, and VBS teacher. She taught 5th grade SS for so long that it was just a given that you had Mrs. Updike in 5th grade.

Judy was ahead of me in school. But we both played field hockey. Even though this was long before Title IX, because New York required physical education, there were at least some interscholastic sports for girls. That doesn't mean we got any respect. Haha. I just went through all the yearbooks from my highschool years, and the best field hockey (any girls' sport) got was an unlabeled snapshot or two. I loved field hockey. I called it blood and guts for girls.

field hockey 1964

But Judy loved it more. She went on to play in college, and then she became a phys ed teacher and field hockey coach.

As I said in the previous blog post, we weren't close friends. I suspect we were both too busy being shy and trying to figure out where small, extremely independent girls fit into the world back then. But I apparently worked up the courage to ask her to sign my yearbook. I was such an outlier on the fringes of the social world that it was a major accomplishment for me to make such a request. I was always afraid people would say "no," (some did) or write something unkind.

I haven't seen Judy since around 1965. But Facebook is great for some things, and we've reconnected. As it turns out, as adults we've enjoyed a lot of the same kinds of activities.

Judy Updike

Anyway, enough of the reminiscing. My familiarity with the people and places may be the reason I found the book so compelling. Nevertheless, this is a book that is sure to resonate with anyone who has found themselves at the end of their physical and emotional strength while caring for the needs of people they love. Beginning with a critical and eventually fatal injury of her oldest brother, through the deaths of her uncle, mother, father and aunt, over only 17 months, Judy shares honestly how these events took her to the end of her own strength. Her faith was tested in ways she never expected. Yet God always upheld her. She learned that the roller coaster of emotions is a separate "thing" from faith- not everyone gets that.

Her smile? Pictures I see of Judy now show an even bigger one than back then. Mine too, I hope. God is good.

If this stage of life is heavy on your heart, or looming in your near future, I highly recommend Broken for His Glory. It can be ordered from Higher Ground Productions, 771 Turk Hill Road, Fairport, NY 14450

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