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.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The Smell of Orange

Here's what's left of a bar of Fast Orange soap. It's got pumice in it, and is supposed to be as good as Lava. In case you are wondering, I think not.

Fast Orange soap

However, I ended up buying a bar in a week when apparently every store was out of Lava. "You'll like it, the salesman said." Nope. You can see that I'll soon get to buy a new bar of something. Hopefully, Lava. But the strangest thing I noticed was that the orange soap smelled just like something else. Something not at all related to soap.

Fast Orange soap

This story actually begins in second grade. But it became a critical mass today... enough to set off a blog post.

Over Thanksgiving Break, in second grade, I had my tonsils out. I remember having to eat tomato soup instead of turkey. I wasn't happy about that. But I did get to chew gum in class for a couple of weeks after going back to school. That would be Aspergum, orange flavor. It didn't taste like oranges, and it didn't taste like aspirin. But it had a distinctive odor. Some scents have stuck with me my entire life. This is one of them.

The package of medicinal gum looks disturbingly like the soap wrapper! Actually, this hasn't been made since 2006, but another company bought the brand, so it could come back. The soap and the gum smell just the same.


Just a few days ago, I realized that the Ibubrofen caplets, which are also orange (but not the dark red tablets), smell this way too.


I think this odor must be due to the orange dye. And today, my scent sensors were set off again. The soap dispenser at work is empty, so I used the bottle of cheap dish soap by the sink to wash up with. It's orange. It smells exactly the same!!!

This is a little eerie. Two medications and two soaps. All orange. Has to be the dye. It's not a pleasant or unpleasant odor, but it's distinctive. The smell of orange.

See Maggie Says, "More Orange, Mom!"
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Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Kayaking the South Branch

I promised you a paddle event, and today was the day! This was a semi-impromptu get-together of people who have been doing the Challenge hikes. Eight of us met at Laura's house, and with only about 4 miles of driving could put in at Washington Bridge and take out at Anthony Bridge with 2.5 hours on the river. The river is the South Branch of the Pere Marquette. No permits or time limits like on the main branch.

kayaking the South Branch of the Pere Marquette

A lot of my pictures really aren't very good. The water was a little low at this time of year so almost always there were rapids or rocks or trees to steer around. I couldn't keep the camera out of its plastic bag very long at a time or I was getting turned sideways to the current or pushed into a tree. And all the most interesting pictures would have been at the places where I needed both hands on the paddle.

kayaking the South Branch of the Pere Marquette

Sue and Sophie were there. Sophie not only hikes, she canoes!

kayaking the South Branch of the Pere Marquette

Actually, they both took a dunking. There was one rapids where you had to go through the "chute" (we're not talking serious rapids, ok), and then make a sharp left turn to stay in the current and not hit a gravel bar. Somehow, Sue was already through it, and flip! over they went. I have to tell you this because it leads to the funniest image. Sophie quickly swam for the rest of us who were waiting at the edge to be sure everyone made it. Her life vest has a handle on the top. So Michael plucked her out of the water by the handle, and she kept paddling like crazy all through the air as he lifted her into his kayak!

Gary and Sue righted her canoe. And Gary got his butt dunked doing that.

kayaking the South Branch of the Pere Marquette

I have no pictures to prove it, but Michael was the winner. He went in the drink twice. He and Gary borrowed sit-on-top kayaks. It may just be the brand, or the fact that they are both pretty big guys, but they sure didn't like those kayaks. They both said the boats were very tippy.

Here we all are at the end, the same number of people we started with, but with a little digital magic, we completed the trip with two of Sophie.

kayaking the South Branch of the Pere Marquette

And how about my Sea Wings? They work great. The kayak feels much more secure. But it's still annoying to tie all those straps and ropes.

kayak on car

See Kicking Back- Awesome Day
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Monday, August 14, 2017

How Do Plants Make You Feel?

These plant pictures have all been taken in the past month. I present them to you without identification (exhibiting great restraint), just to let you react. Tell me how they make you feel.

scouring rush

big bluestem grass

hematite hillside

basswood flower


scouring rush

I got a lot done today! Laundry, mowed grass, worked at the paper because they were short-handed, stripped more paint off the trailer, did some housework, did some computer work. Wish I could get this much done every day! Tomorrow it's back to work, but I have some fun planned for later in the day.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Manistee National Forest Challenge Hike #8

We had a smaller group today: 8 humans and Sophie the wonder dog. Several people had other things going on. We also picked up one new hiker. He walked partway with us and then back to his car for a total of 6 miles. No shame in that. He's 82!

group of hikers

This red pine plantation in the low part of a valley always captures my attention when I walk through it.

red pines

Here's one of my infamous attempts to give you a sense of the bowl the trail goes around at this point. I never can get an angle with the camera that captures the depth. But I'll keep trying because it's one of my favorite places.

valley in the woods

Delicate harebells, Campanula rotundifolia, lined the trail in some places.


McCarthy Lake is always on my list of favorite places. And it always seems to look a bit different every time I am there.

McCarthy Lake

Sure signs that it's August. The late summer flowers are in bloom. Here's flat-topped aster, Aster umbellatus.

flat-topped aster

Last week, we did 8.4 miles and everyone was very tired. Today we did 9.7 and it didn't feel bad at all. Several of us said we could have done more. Who knows why? (Although I suspect last week's humidity level as the culprit.)

North Country Trail, Timber Creek (US 10) north to 3 Mile Road, 9.7 miles

See MNF Hike #7
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Saturday, August 12, 2017

Remember the Mystery Shrub?

Do you recall that I was trying to picture a spring shrub every few days until we could identify it? The last time I showed you pictures was April 2! See link at the end.

I managed to get back there a couple more times in spring, one of them right before I left for my Ohio hike. At that point, I knew for certain what it was, but there were much more interesting things to blog about. Today, I went there again.

Here are the two buds I'd been watching, on April 9.

Sambucus canadensis

Sambucus canadensis

On April 16, I knew for sure what I had.

Sambucus canadensis

Sambucus canadensis

These three buds hadn't yet opened into flowers, but I did find one that was just barely in bloom.

Sambucus canadensis

Still have no clue? The Furry Gnome guessed it right on the first go-round. Yeah, Stew!

Here's what it looked like today (where it wasn't covered with wild clematis or poison ivy). I'll bet a whole lot of country folks will recognize it now.

Sambucus canadensis

Elderberry, Sambucus canadensis. I'll be back with a bucket in a few weeks when those berries turn dark purple.

Meanwhile, tips to recognize it early next time. Opposite leaves (it's related to honeysuckle), and corky bumps on the bark. Those are good winter ID tips too.

See The Life and Times of...?
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