Skip to content

All Aboard the SS Badger

The SS Badger is a National Landmark and operates between Manitowoc Wisconsin and Ludington Michigan as a coal fired steamship.

It was originally one of many car-rail ferries between Wisconsin and Michigan designed to avoid the traffic snarls created by going around Lake Michigan through Chicago.

The Badger was one of three ships built in Sturgeon Bay and was christened by Mrs. Kohler, the wife of the Kohler plumbing fixture owner. It was launched sideways and created such a splash, it knocked over three rail cars stationed in front of the mechanic shops in the harbor with lake water flowing through the shops and flooding the streets.

The season of sailing is short due to winter weather with the last sailing the middle of October. The trip each way takes about four hours but there is a time difference as Michigan is on Eastern Time and Wisconsin on Central Time.

For those of you who have taken the Galveston Ferry from Bolivar Peninsula to Galveston, this was very much the same but on a much grander scale. The cars and trucks and RV’s were driven on and off by porters who seemed to have only one speed on land–full-out run!. The large vehicles were backed in while the cars were driven in frontwards and somehow turned around to drive out forwards.

The interior of the shop had several hot food dining options, an interesting museum filled with information and a video about the Badger.

Interestingly, I discovered some photographs my grandmother had taken in 1954 when she went to Manitowoc to see the ferry. I don’t think she traveled on it as there are no Lake photos or any labeled as Michigan.

And here are two of my grandmother’s photos. There was much speculation at the Badger office regarding which ship it was and when the alterations to the ship had been made. However, my grandmother carefully noted on the back that this ship was the City of Midland.

inscripton on back reads ferry approaching August 1954

notation on back reads City of Midland August 1954Acccor

According to the Maritime Museum in Sturgeon Bay there were over 17 car ferry ships built along with multiple other ships as part of the War Effort in the 1940’s. Most of the transport was rail cars loaded with steel, produce and other goods.

Winds and perhaps a Gentle Breeze

I’ve decided to be more aggresive in promoting my artwork. That also means I will have to produce.

I’m working on getting myself organized (Again!).

I don’t mind sorting, filing, looking through art supplies…In fact, playing with those materials–and I have a lot–I really don’t need to buy much of anything for a long time.

Organizing my digital files and photos—that is another thing. I’ve taken the photos but my labeling is haphazard and I can’t find things—maybe I just don’t know how to work the search part of the photo site—so I end up taking repeat photos.

But I think I have come up with a plan to get those organized so I can find things.

Today I entered a call regarding ‘Wind’. I have in mind two other pieces that will be fun and not so serious.

Here are the three pieces I submitted.

This was a challenge to portray the Wizard of Oz in such a way the viewer would want to read the book.

with a birthday in March, I have always been fascinated by the imagery of kites. One of my husband’s early adventures with my brothers was driving his LandCruiser over a hayfiled to generate enough win to fly a huge box kite with a brother hanging on for dear life out the back window.

Sometimes a gentle breeze is all we want–and this piece of silk with ink splattered and leaves from some young trees falling on the sidewalk in Houston functioned as templates and stamps.

It’s hard to predict what will happen. There are usually a lot of entries, the competition is quite stiff. But no-one will come looking for my artwork unless I enter. Even if rejected, it has been seen by jurors who might just remember my work.

Zinnias in my front yard

Sometimes ordinary common place flowers have a special place in our hearts.

My mother along with nearly every other farmer’s wife=-and the in-town wives planted a row of zinnias in their vegetable garden. They grew readily and produced abundant blooms. But then in Wisconsin it was hard NOT to grow things like walnut trees in the middle or the yard and ragweed so tall it looked like trees and required a saw to cut.

This part of Texas has its own unique flowers, azaleas, crepe myrtles, gardenias, snow bells and daffodils. This year I scattered a ‘free’ packet of zinnia seed in a front flowerpot and the chimney flue in front.

The front pot does not get enough sun—but the ones in the chimney flue are blooming gloriously. Colors such as deep purple, lavender, salmon in addition to the traditional red, orange and yellow are a bright spot and make me smile every time I walk or drive past them on my way to work.

Common place flowers but not everything needs to be exotic. They say ‘home’ to me.

Don’t Feed the Ducks

Last weekend we spent several days in Houston. I had two doctor appointments—clinics were kind enough to schedule on same day and with enough time between so as to make just ONE trip rather than two. Then Glen was lucky enough to get his Pulmonary Function test done while I was at my appointments. Finally I had a CT scan that the imaging department moved up so we had an afternoon free.

I like to park at Herman Park Zoo parking lot and walk through Herman Park to get to appointments at the medical center. It is a relaxing walk through trees and I can see turtles and various sorts of water fowl ranging from swans to assorted ducks not native to the area.

Unfortunately that part of the park is blocked due to construction of some sort–a new water garden and probably a parking garage.

But we had a picnic lunch and sat at a table under some live oak trees.

It wasn’t long before a young squirrel approached us. Glen tossed chex mix piece by piece. it was very shy and would quickly grab a piece and run back to safety. Ten minutes passed by before that squirrel was joined by others–at last count there were five. And then a grackle appeared also interested in a snack.

While I am not fond of squirrels near my house—they chew electric wires and torment the dogs, these are in a public park far away from electrical wires.

And they were definitely not ducks.

Here are a few photos from the day;

Just one grackle.

Zinnias and Honeysuckle

Growing up in Wisconsin it was so easy to grow some things. Those long summer days, cool nights with dew made everything flourish. Everyone I knew had a garden and it always included a row of zinnias and marigolds—to keep away the rabbits and deer—or so we thought.

Tomatoes were particularly easy and every table featured sliced tomatoes from late July through August when the first tinges of frost appeared.

Here in this part of Texas I have year round gardening–but tomatoes are not so easy. They like cool nights—we don’t get many of those.

But I was successful in growing a few zinnias in a front chimney flue.

That greenery to the right is a huge rosemary shrub. Some people here grow it as a hedge—smells so nice as you brush across it on your way into a building.

And then there is the honeysuckle.

I didn’t plant it but with all of our recent rain—rain every day for nearly two weeks, it is abundant. The air is redolent but those vines are choking out the shrubbery and trees I wish to keep.

And it is far too late in the year to harvest the honey from these blossoms—the bees will need it for the coming winter months—we do have some blooms but not enough to sustain.

At last!

For the past three months I’ve had an art piece on my design wall—in progress.

I don’t work fast.

I’m always experimenting with a different way to accomplish my end goal.

I’ve started making part of the piece off the finished piece. This is something I learned from some traditional applique classes. I also put a foundation under the top. doing a lot of stitching on it first and then putting on the backing and quilting.

This time I also experimented with a different way of finishing the sleeve and the bottom. I add washers to the bottom to ensure it hangs straight. This is a home decorator device for curtains–a chain is put in the bottom hem—I put washers in a sleeve at the bottom. The guys at the hardware store are surprised to hear my end purpose……In the past I sought out sand paper to sand cardboard…!!!

My workspace is always a mess while I work on a piece. I save every little bit of fabric until the piece is finished. I use a variety of threads, pulling them from my substantial collection of thread–sorted by color. Usually I use an old deli tray–the one with a central round depression for the dip with sections around it for the various vegetables—I sort the threads by color into those sections. But sometimes there isn’t enough room and I resort to a lid like this.

While a lot of folks scoff at my use of Coats and Clark–I really like the consistency, the colors–there is a purple that no-one else has….and now there is a purely poly thread with incredibly low lint production.

That piece is now quilted, photo’ed, and entered into a show—I can’t show it until I hear if it has been accepted—I don’t have a great deal of hope that it will be—but you never know.

Here is a small section.

Note the sittching goes both horizontally as the stabilizing stitches to a piece of corduroy and the vertical stitches as the quilting.

Typically I work on a pieced background of some sort–choosing the block pattern as part of the piece–this background is composed of ‘crumb’ blocks. These blocks are my leader-ender pieces sewn while working on a more traditional quilt or garment. It doesn’t take long before I have a huge stack ready to iron, trim up and add the next piece.

I’ve been asked to present a program on these blocks—and I may just do that. They are easy and appeal to those of us who enjoy using up what we have.

Grapevines and the Raspberry Patch

Some years ago, I think my mother planted some grape vines in the garden, thinking she would be able to harvest them for her jelly making. And instead of going to the woods to pick blackberries—that was always one of the tasks for me and my siblings, she planted raspberries near the farm house.

They were not well tended.

Wild grapes are also in abundance but produce very little in terms of usable fruit—I think the birds enjoyed them—and widely distributed them around the farm buildings.

So each year I weed the patch.

The first year was huge ragweed–and so dense, a brown thrasher had made her nest there. I weeded around her; left her nest until the fall when I weeded the remaining section.

I’ve put down chaff from the grainery in an attempt to combat weeds–but I think I planted nettles as the following years there were a lot of nettles—much harder to pull than ragweed—although some of the ragweed reaches ‘tree’ stature and trunk thickness.

I’ve cut back those grape vines to the ground–as that is how they are supposed to be cultivated—but no fruit!

So it was time to deal with those grapevines.

Here is what it looked like when I arrived in Late July.

After considerable work–and surprisingly no gnats this year—I’ve worn a bee veil when the the gnats are bad—but this year there was enough of a breeze to keep them away.

So here is what it looks like after weeding. I put done sheet rock to discourage weeds and pile corn fodder on top—fifteen wheel barrow loads.

I was very pleased to see so many raspberry canes; they bear the second year. My first weeding the end of May had only three canes on the periphery—I was thrilled to see this many throughout the patch.

And so I decided it was time for those grapevines to go.

I sprayed them daily for five days. And finally they looked near gone.

My husband was not happy with this—but I will plant grapes elsewhere—and much further apart and in a place there they can flourish without compromising those raspberries.

The ragweed and burdock didn’t seem to mind the brush spray….drat!

I’ll have to dig out that burdock.

Just some pretty flowers

Wisconsin summers are always abundant with flowers and things that grow magically overnight—including the weeds.

Here is the corner of my friend’s house.

that tall green thing behind the purple flowers was a tree sapling—and I nipped it off with some big clippers.

These flowers had a delicate scent–a few bees buzzing around.

Take a few moments to just enjoy.

Pickles and Paper Wasps

In our very early married years, we did not have a lot of money–in fact we had almost none. Someone gave us a book by Euel Gibbons featuring things to do with foraging for food on the roadsides instead of grocery stores or dumpsters.

One delicious adventure was to try lightly steamed day lily buds as a vegetable—they were abundant along roadsides, and then to try pickling them.

Day-lilies of this variety are not in southeast Texas and our previous trips had not coincided with blooms.

This year I was determined to make some—if buds were to be had.

And in case you don’t remember–here are the flowers…..

I made seven jars of these putting fresh dill in each jar. The pickling process is simple…pour a mixture of hot vinegar, salt and some water over buds placed in jars, add the dill, and cap.

However, one morning when I went out the screen door, I was stung by a wasp. It had been caught between the screen door and the regular door earlier in the night and showed its displeasure at its captivity by stinging me on the wrist. I’ll spare you the view of my swollen hand, wrist and forearm—I did have to take Benadryl, Tylenonl, and a Prednisone. But I”m sure you want to see that nest.

It was about five or six inches across–I had sprayed it with hornet spray during early morning hours to ensure they were all ‘home’ for the occasion.

Now to wait for the pickling process on those pickles to be complete and enjoy with broiled or baked fish.

Cornfields and Chicory

Tradition and farmer’s wisdom or perhaps optimism always noted that corn must be knee-high by the Fourth of July for a successful crop. My Dad always made a habit of walking out to one of his fields and measuring the corn. I always wondered whose knees were the appropriate measure–mine–being not as tall as his Six foot something frame?

For years after buying that farm to support my parents in their senior years, I have returned to Wisconsin for the Fourth of July—the parade, the brats made by my second cousin–or maybe a more distant relationship–but still one of the many in the county….and for a photo of myself standing in the cornfield. Rarely has it ever been lesss than shoulder high and sometimes I must put my hand up to be seen over the top of the tassels.

I missed this year due to some health issue scheduling canceled at the last minute—but I managed a trip in the last part of July and took a few photos.

Here is a storm coming our way with high winds and lots of rain—lots here being about two inches…not the six inches I am accustomed to in southeast Texas.

And there was the chicory in full bloom.

Chicory is a fascinating plant. The blooms are a lovely blue but fold up at night and if you dare pick some for a bouquet immediately close up. I always wondered what part of them was used for coffee but was never quite impelled to dig up the roots and try—chicory blended coffee comes in cans on the grocery shelves here in this part of Texas.

And because I know you want a closer look at those pretty blue flowers…..