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Posts from the ‘Travel & Places I’ve been’ Category


walnuts20on20ground202-mA familiar fall task in Southwestern Wisconsin is picking up walnuts. The lime green husks are easy to spot; not so easy are the ones fallen a few days earlier with the husks now a dark brownish-black. Although gloves might be used to pick them up, fingers are always stained a luscious brown for more than a few hand-washings.

walnut20tree-mOne tree stands behind the garage on my farm–it wasn’t there when I grew up there–but squirrels conveniently planted it and it has survived. It now provides shade and an abundance of walnuts.

green20husked20walnuts-mI could leave them for the squirrels and one year my husband picked them all up and put them in the bath-tub that lives in the garage. The squirrels thought this quite convenient as when he returned in the spring thinking he could spend evenings shelling walnuts, the bath-tub was empty.

My father used to lay them all out on a tarp to dry; then would husk them, let them dry again and then shell them in the evenings. He cracked several pie platefuls on an anvil in the basement; sometimes used a vise, turning the handle being a bit easy than whacking them with a hammer.


Before dogs arrived I would spend twenty minutes or so on my front porch cracking and shelling walnuts—until the mosquitoes descended upon me. Whacking away at an inanimate object was a great stress reliever.

two20bags-mfilling20a20bag20with20walnuts-mPicking up all those walnuts–I stopped at two dog food bags full was a pleasurable reminder of past days and memories.


Thinking back upon my experiments with indigo dye–the first color appearing is a wonderful lime green—the same as the walnut husk. green20husk20closeup-m

Winding Down

Last night I turned into my driveway….home from a week in Wisconsin.

I drove through rain several times, the worst being in Arkansas with cold rain hitting hot pavement, sending up waves of fog amidst the downpour. No-one was driving very fast, including the semis. I stopped in Pocahontas for the night; I felt quite safe that night as I was surrounded by Sheriff Deputy marked cars—there must have been a convention/meeting/gathering…they were all out chatting and talking–no SWAT rifles or helmets or shields evident–just a lot of laughing and chatting.

Google sent me down 49 in Louisiana and through some really rough two lane roads; not to my liking. The small town of Keach established in 1888 struck my eye but I cannot find anything about it on the internet. Google must have heard me grousing about the quality of the roads and the lack of rest-stops and availability of auto-diesel as it then sent me around Toledo Bend Reservoir.

Rain again in Beaumont with steaming roadways and a deluge. People were driving slowly but fortunately I was heading south and they were mostly heading north.

unloading20from20trip20to20wisconsin-mI managed to catch half hour of no rain to unload the inside contents of my truck—a large box of produce===MacIntosh apples from my Auntie Hazel’s yard, pears from a high school friend’s yard, and tomatoes from our garden on the farm.

Today is a day to catch up with all the things that need doing—retrieving the dogs from the kennel–they had a wonderful time as I signed them up for extra play-time, dealing with email and work issues, reviewing photos and contemplating the events of the week.

I’ll be commenting on them as the next week goes by—but the primary reason for the trip was to attend the wedding of one of my nieces and to deliver the quilt my mother–her grandmother had pieced for her and I had finished.

This was the hardest of all the quilt tops she had left for me to quilt–I finished all those edges with a facing—and Tami–my niece—had a huge smile on her face as she peeked at the edges of her new quilts.





sign-mSometimes there are signs that must make perfect sense to people who see them every day but then there is the occasional tourist type–such as I was this past weekend and spotted this sign.

I’m not sure what was at the end of that road; it was tempting to drive down it just to see–of course the Mission was there–but then the road must have ended at the bank of the Rio Grande.

And for those who might be curious–the Val Verde Winery–the oldest continually producing winery is just to the right of this sign. Their vineyards are also here along the right side of the road.



Mishaps and Adventures

One of my job assignments takes me to Del Rio Texas. It is an all day drive for me–through Houston and then the southern border of San Antonio and on to the Rio Grande. I’ve been there several times and try to explore the area a bit each time I go.

Seminole Canyon with the pictographs and the Amistad Reservoir were easy first choices and I have been to both several times. Sometimes the weather is not cooperative for outdoor exploration and my day ends too late to do much exploring.

Last time I visited the Whitehead Memorial Museum featuring Judge Roy Bean. This time I wanted to find the Brinkley Mansion.


Brinkley was known as the goat gland doctor; implanting goat glands into men for impotence. He did not have a formal medical degree; his diploma was from a mail order place. His mansion was opulent and showy–at one time painted apple green with his cars in a matching color. Light shows against the fountains were entertaining for the general public; he had a 4 inch water pipe installed in this area of irrigation–just for his fountains.

While it seems silly to us to think of someone implanting goat glands (testicles) into people, at that time, Banting and Best were working on an exogenous source of insulin–grinding up beef pancreas to extract the insulin for diabetics. There are a lot of goats in this area—and provide one of the main meat sources for many here—-I had never heard someone list goat after beef as a meat they didn’t eat.

I didn’t visit the mansion itself–rainy mist made for an unpleasant day–spent better in my hotel room with a good movie and a hand-sewing project.

Sunday Morning in San Antonio

img_7945-mThe end of summer is here with school buses stopping awkwardly in the streets, students standing eagerly dressed in new clothes and shoes next to their parents in designated bus stops and I am cleaning.

After digging through boxes and bags for a project–more on that later, I set myself the project of consolidating and tossing–glue bottles with solid glue, paintbrushes that no longer brushed, and pens that no longer wrote.

And now I am tackling one of my SD cards.

Sorting photos several weeks or months afterwards tends to take away the preciousness of each image–making it far easy to delete those duplicates. I do have a fair number of works in progress photos for that day when I am famous and everyone will want to know how I worked through creating a piece.

For now here is San Antonio on an early Sunday morning when the streets were empty and a few people gathered at the church in the square.img_7950-mimg_7952-m

Telephones, typewriters, and Insulators

Vintage items I remember using. Does that make me old?

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Odd Machinery

sheep20shearing20machine-mAs an avid fan of all those nature shows, I always pictured sheep-shearing as something akin to calf roping. Apparently my grand-dad did sheep shearing along with a lot of other farming tasks. My dad planned to make a chicken feather plucker so as to avoid the defeathering of butchered chickens task. Butchering chickens was an all day project, started after morning chores and lasting through the afternoon. Plucking all those feathers was a messy task; burning the pinfeathers a smelly project, then cleaning and cutting them up for freezing. Dad loved fried chicken but hated all the preceding tasks. Thus the feather plucker.

I have never actually sheared a sheep, although I’ve had a go at reducing fur load on first a poodle mix and now an Aussie Shepherd mix. At one time I bought raw wool–unprocessed–a smelly oily product that I quickly passed on to someone else.

I don’t know exactly how this sheep shearing machine worked or how it was adjusted to accommodate different sized sheep or different thickness of coats. But someone disliked the task enough to make this machine.

On display at the Whitehead Memorial Museum in Del Rio Texas along with some other oddities.



Why Fly when you can Ride?


A routine followup visit to a specialist in Galveston means a ferry ride from Bolivar Peninsula to Galveston. I’m sure the many people who make this a daily trip for work don’t find it as intriguing as those of us who do it on rare occasions.

The ferry line was quite long and I was in the line for over an hour before boarding. Once aboard, nearly everyone gets out and stands at the sides to watch for dolphins–I spied four dorsal fins–it would be fun to capture them as they play but I  always manage to get a wonderful photo of just the water. It is too hot this time of year to wait in your vehicle and the engines==therefore air conditioning –must be turned off.

Gulls follow the ferries hoping for bread to be thrown to them; large swooping bands of them but a few prefer to ride along. Some are quite careful and choose the lifeboat boom.gulls20on20the20lifeboat-m


Grandfather of Waters

img_8324-mI grew up just a few miles–as the crow–or now as the eagle flies–from the mighty Mississippi River. Early mornings were marked by the view of the mists rising from surrounding rivers–the Mississippi to the west, the Wisconsin to the South, and the Kickapoo to the east. The Kickapoo was also north of us but too many ridges between us to see mists.

The sun might shine brightly on the ridge but the valleys were frequently foggy.

I cross the Mississippi three times on my route from Texas to Wisconsin–St. Louis, the Quad Cities, and then in either Dubuque or Marquette. There are always fabulous vistas to view and enjoy.

There are two channels–the East and West–both quite wide and in the spring time those channels swell and expand with melting snow from further upstream. The locks for the barges close sometime in the fall and re-open in the spring with ice blocking traffic. Eagles nest near the dams/locks. Sometimes the bridge access is under water and those people living in Iowa but working in Wisconsin use boats to cross.

At one time the crossing was a toll bridge. The Locals were not appreciative of this inconvenience since they had paid for the bridge–and so one night, the toll-taker’s little shed was taken apart. Imagine my surprise one year when the bridge was moved about half a mile south–no longer entering Wisconsin on Blackhawk Avenue.

Blackhawk and his tribe named this river many years ago. At its origins in Minnesota, this river can be easily stepped across—here you need a canoe or water craft of some sort. I always thought it curious that they called it Grandfather rather than Grandmother or Mother.

In the past there was a brisk business in fishing for clams for the pearl button factory. I have some of those buttons–my grandmother bought them–as they would have been inexpensive at the time. I have a few postcards of the fishing rafts used to collect the clams somewhere in my post-card collection.

French fur traders used this area as a jumping off spot for the west and north–collecting supplies; French and Indian wars meant several forts and a battle or two–including George Washington.  Geronimo supposedly hid out in a local cave. And then there was William S. Beaumont who studied the stomach and its workings in one of his patients he had patched up.

Each trip to Wisconsin means a mandatory stop to see the Mississippi from a high point, a drive along the Kickapoo and Plum Creek, a view of the mist rising from the Wisconsin, and the farm.img_8328-m


Get Bees, Will Travel

bees20are20home-mWe really wanted to set up a hive or two or more on the farm. I had four hives in Texas but they would have been a real challenge to move—much easier to get a nuc (small hive of 5 frames instead of the usual 8 or 10) and move it to Wisconsin. Some beekeepers move their bees all around the U.S. to pollinate various crops—it should not be a big deal. Right?  So maybe not!

I had previously baked a nuc of bees in our hot Texas sun and worried about traveling with a nuc in the bed of my truck—no-way were they going to ride in the cab with me. Although I did have some friends who took home a hive in their car and had to wear their bee suits all the way home—all 30 miles or so. I had no intention of wearing a bee suit for 18 hours of driving.

My good friend and mentor provided me with a nuc with a nice opening on top—covered with hardware cloth providing plenty of air flow. The doorway was blocked with hardware cloth—lots of air flow—no baked bees.

We put the box in the bed of my truck and I started off.

I stopped to fuel up and noted a bee flying about the bed of my truck. I thought perhaps it had hitched a ride from my friend’s apiary.

I stopped again for fuel and this time there were about a half dozen flying about trying to figure out where they were. I could not see where they were exiting the box but it was quite obvious they were not bees that lingered around the gas station just coming over to make friends with the Texas bees.

So I started throwing a tarp over the top of the box whenever I stopped—hoping they would think it was bed-time and they would stay inside—I’m sure I really messed up their internal clock and they had so many more days and nights than really passed by in ordinary time.

I stopped for the night, threw the tarp over the box and registered at the motel. Did I have any pets? I said I had a box of bees in my truck but they would not be staying in the room with me. The clerk looked surprised and noted that they welcomed pets but maybe not honey bees.

I made it to the farm and unloaded them by the garage.

I felt the box and it felt warm. Bees maintain the internal temperature of the hive at about 93 degrees year round. In the summer, they sit outside the door and on top of box flapping their wings to move air—-and in the winter they huddle together like penguins in the Antarctic.

We pulled the entrance and immediately they flew out.

Did we keep enough bees in that box to maintain or make a hive? Or did I leave a trail of bees behind me?

I worried about those bees last night when a huge thunderstorm passed through—was the covering over the top enough to keep the rain out—or did that covering get knocked off in the wind?

I put my ear to the box and could hear them buzzing—they may have been discussing their plans for the day or trying to figure out just exactly what had happened—going to bed in Texas and waking up in Wisconsin with different flowers and different birds and different landscape and no nearby neighbors.this20is20their20view-m

It seems silly to worry about a group of insects when I have no qualms about squashing cockroaches or dumping soapy water or poison in ant beds—