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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Friday, August 11, 2017

My Trailer - Redo Days 23-29 - Half Stripped

This is the milestone I was trying to reach on Monday. Now it's Friday. I would have finished yesterday, but the thunderstorm beat me to the last square. I'm going to be really lucky to get the exterior of the trailer done this summer, but I'll keep trying. It's half stripped. Actually, a tiny bit more than that, but the door side from the center seam down to all the bottom edges is done (first pass, not including removing the windows and lights, and final scrub and sanding).

For the record, this took almost exactly 3 quarts of Citristrip. I just cut the larger jug open to use the last bits that cling to the plastic.

1984 Companion trailer

And look at all the Bondo-ed spots on the back! That makes one wonder, eh? And, yes, it was really difficult to get the bottom of the curved wall behind the welded-on gear rack.

1984 Companion trailer

No similar surprises on the front end.

1984 Companion trailer

Did you think I was going to tell you it was all stripped? I wish. It's just not that easy. Even on days when I have lots of time to work on it, my shoulders will only tolerate so much. It really makes the right one ache.

1984 Companion trailer

I also got the old dead solar panel off the roof. My Dremel oscillating saw was a big help to accomplish that. I used both the scraper blade on the sealant, and a metal blade to cut some of the screws. Note to DIYers- don't use regular steel screws as exterior exposed fasteners.

1984 Companion trailer

Scrubbed the area, too. That panel predates the paint job. I find that quite interesting. Wish I knew how many previous owners this trailer has seen. I'm considering a small solar set-up. Expensive. Fussy. Not sure yet.

Just a footnote. Those plastic scrapers that work well for this, but get soft and dull... I used my Dremel to put an edge back on one. It did make it better, but the stripper definitely softens the plastic. I bought a couple more, since they are cheap.

Also sanded the two fiberglass patches that are now ready for the filler layer. And I have stripper soaking on one more area right now. Have to go scrape that. Of course, it's Friday night, so I'm off to work in just a bit.

Energy level has been high the last couple of weeks. That is good!

See Redo Days 21 & 22
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Thursday, August 10, 2017

Hundreds of Miles

I'm so pathetic. I didn't even mention it when I completed the 2016 Hike 100 Challenge on the North Country Trail. Now I've also got one for 2017, and am working on the Hike 100 for Parkinson's.

North Country Trail Hike 100 patches

This challenge has been a really great idea for the trail. Over 5000 new people have gotten involved hiking sections because of it, but it has seemed like something of an afterthought for me.

Here's the patch set I'm really proud of.

North Country Trail End to End patches

You could have pieces of this too. If you've hiked all the NCT in any state, or more than 1000 different miles, you can get the central patch and the appropriate rockers. NCT Long Distance Hikers.

You get to see this because I still haven't finished the goal I was working toward on Monday! Thought I would have it today, but got rained out. Maybe tomorrow.

See The Party's Over but It's OK
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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Bizarre but Common

Found this handsome but bizarre specimen crawling on my trailer yesterday. Oddly enough, someone from New England posted a picture of one too. I suppose it's just the right time for them. I'm thinking White-marked tussock moth. Here's my thinking.

white marked tussock moth caterpillar

I knew it was some kind of tussock moth caterpillar but had to go hunting to figure out which one. I'm sure it's an Orgyia Say or-GEE-ya. The name itself is interesting. Orgyia means "to stretch out," because of its habit of extending its forelegs, but after that I'm not positive if it's leucostigma, or detrita Leuco=white (think leucocytes= white blood cells), and stigma=marks (think stigmata=the marks in Jesus' hands and feet). See you knew more Greek than you thought.

So... I think it's leucostigma because detrita has bright orange spots along the sides. I see no orange spots. I looked at pictures of the other one, and those gray-white tufts at the centers of the starbursts of hairs on the sides (not the toothbrushy things on its back) would be bright orange.

white marked tussock moth caterpillar

Here's a really good flat-on top view.

white marked tussock moth caterpillar

Now I need to find one of the moths hiding in plain sight.

Just in case you were interested, "orgyia" is also the origin of the idea of a fathom, a nautical measure equal to 6 feet. But it came from stretching out the arms, a distance of about 6 feet. That will sure help me remember how long a fathom is.

AND, I suddenly was hit with the notion that moth caterpillars are furry and butterfly caterpillars are smooth. I wondered if this was really true. The answer reads like one of those logic problems from school. All butterfly caterpillars are smooth, but not all moth caterpillars are furry. Got that? (according to Purdue University!)

See Little Furry Baby Surprise
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