St Croix River Road Ramblings

Welcome to River Road Ramblings.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


I help with 3 gardens.  Mom's kitchen garden with the raspberries, strawberries, grapes and normal vegetables. She gets out and picks things, but has an arm problem and so the tilling and hoeing fall to me and the brothers.

My sand garden is just for watermelons--but it is 1/8 acre or so and my 1/4 acre ? pumpkin and squash garden by the cabin is just for the River Road Ramble on September 28th this year.

The 1972 Cub Cadet Grandpa bought from Nelson Implement in Grantsburg (forerunner of Maki), is my cultivator.

You can watch it in action.

Monday, June 24, 2013

The View from Pine Island

Margo is rehabilitating (or is that vegetating) down at our winter home in Pine Island while I have all the work to do up here at the cabin in WI.  Son Scott took some photos today of the So. MN place. 

What happens to a rose bush when the neighbor's cat uses the flower bed for a litter box!

Margo--put on your hat--with that short hair you will surely get sun burned!  The butterfly flowerbed is not all gone. 

An old scraggly rose bush still looks nice. 

Russell Lupines, milkweed and in front a Joe Pye weed (or purple coneflower?) --butterfly fodder.

Peony before it tips over. 

Roses before the bugs start eating them up. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

View from on High

The Cabin's flat top gives a nice view of the lake farther down the hill but requires a yearly expedition to the top to seal the leaks.  
"Oh fiddlestix" my grandfather would have said if he had been in my place.  I used an slightly more colorful term.  "I should have brought my camera.  The view of the lake from up here (top of the cabin roof) is quite spectacular!"  I have gotten in the habit of taking pictures of everything, and a roof patching job on top of the cabin would have been a new perspective. 

I had scrambled up the steep roof on my annual "tar the seams" expedition.   The cabin has a 3-foot wide flat top that has been a nuisance for the nearly 40 years since Margo, Dad and I built it.  

Why does it have the flat top? 

My lumber was sawn on our home sawmill--a 100 year old circular saw like grandpa used when he was in the saw mill business.  I had cut many of my logs at about 9 feet  and other at about 11 feet (aiming for 8 and 10 foot lumber).  I had many 11 foot 2x4s to make a shed roof with two 10-foot pitches.  

   Actually trying that, I realized that would give me no head room in the loft, and so by using them the full 11 feet with a 3-foot flat top, I got plenty of headroom for me in the middle and Margo along the sides.  

But, a few years after the first black roll roofing flat top  began to leak and needed a yearly swab with thin tar. Then nephew Bryce shingled the cabin and the top with roll roofing overlapped and for 10 years it was fine, but flat roofs just don't work too well, and it again needed the yearly swab.  

   This year, I bought two rolls of 6 inch, rubber stick down membrane to stick on the seams.  I got up on the top again (getting up seems to be OK, coming down the ladders is more of a problem--and coming down without a ladder even more!).  

   It was hot on the black roof, so I sat, feet over the edge and stuck down the rubber strips on the seams and worst spots.  Probably should have had enough to do the whole roof, but the repair should keep my side of the bed from getting wet from above.  I have a new knee obtained from falling off a roof 3 years ago, so am pretty careful now as I do roof work.  My new knee works pretty good, but for some reason feels totally strange to put my weight kneeling on it--so I don't.  That makes things harder to do--guess I need to try knee pads. Anyway, while I was up there I turned my TV antenna at where I thought the Twin Cities might be located as it had blown off in the wind.  I have this huge leaf covered maple directly between me and the Cities, and that seems to mess up my summer reception. (Reception got even worse--turning a TV antenna on top of a roof without a rotator really needs a wife down below giving orders). 

    At the recent Sterling Eureka and Laketown Historical Society meeting, we inspected the leaks in the east museum room ceiling. The old 8 room school house has a flat gravel and tar roof that has been leaking for a few years.  Those kind of roofs are really impossible to find where the leaks are, and patching is sort of hit and miss.   

   We decided to offer $500 as a contribution for repairs or replacement of the roof to see if we might stimulate others to kick in a little too and get the ball rolling.  I joked that we could spend $500 on buckets to put under the leaks or on the roof itself.  The leaks are gradually staining the ceiling tiles starting from the west side of the room and now moving to the center.  Flat roofs seem to be questionable in our climate!   Of course, the building is 60 years old and probably on its second roofing job. 

Brother Marv and Mom have those Certain-teed Curling shingles--the ones that were 30 year warrantied and last 15 years in the sun.  Dad put it on in 1996 and said "it will do me and Mom out."   In his later years he estimated fixes by whether they would last as long as he and Mom did.  Well, it did do him out, but Mom, at 91, appears on her way to 100. 

Marv is getting estimates, so I, as landlord of Mom's place, had him get one for her house too.  Hope to hear in a week or two and see if we can afford a roof that will do me out.   Tin seems popular now, the kind that has the nails covered.  It is probably twice the cost of 30 year shingles, but it is supposed to be a 50 year roof.  I am 66, and will make a guess that 50 years will do me out.  Kind of hoping it will last long enough so my son won't have to replace it either (he is 37). 

Ahead for the week--Monday genealogy day at the Luck Museum; T, W working in the Cushing Museum getting ready for the 75th Annual Sterling Settler's Picnic (Sunday -noon Potluck at the Cushing Community Center -- in the big room where the leaks have not yet reached), and then Mon-Wed of the following week at Danish Family Camp at West Denmark.  
   Margo is taking it easy at Pine Island.  She has some "sun burned" skin from radiation that is sore -- like the trip to Florida in mid winter where you spend too much time in the sun times 5.  
  She needs to take a picture of the lupines blooming there so I can post it.  

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Butterflies Not Welcome

Margo uses her new garden tiller to destroy the butterfly garden and turn it into lawn!
Feeling embarrassed that her perennial garden had gotten out of control, Margo tore into it with her brand new garden tiller taking hundreds of lupines, Joe Pyes, cone flowers and other long established flowers and ground them into dirt!

Actually, most of the flowers had been replaced by milkweeds (for the butterflies) and thistles (for the gold finches), and they had run amuck inviting nettles from the woods,  blackberry vines, raspberry and wild roses, joined by pocket gophers from the field and bears, raccoons, rabbits, and possums from the woods to move in and thrive.  

That is down there in Pine Island, whereas up here at the cabin, I got the new battery installed, sprayed the apples, and did some work on the computer --some research and some posters and certificates and miscellaneous stuff that were needed for tomorrow when I have the Luck Area Historical Society board meeting at 11 am and the Sterling Eureka and Laketown Historical Society meeting at 7 pm at the Cushing Community Center round the back. 

An historian from Taylors Falls MN sent this query and I am attempting to help with the answers. 

In the booklet, Timothy L. Ericson, _Recollections of 1876 Polk County's First Written History_ (The Polk County Historical Society, November 1980), on pages 12-13, the following is written:

In the winter of 1857 a mining excitement broke out among a few adventurous characters, and it raged with great violence until spring. Among them were Dave Cannaday, John Robinson, Billy Foster, C. C. Somers, Ed. Dwyer, Gordon Smith, Oscar Roos, A. M. Dodd, Donald McCloud and Jack Shaw....Twenty years ago, they supposed, and with some show of truth, that they had found copper and silver in the huge cliffs of trap rock that abound in the neighborhood....Every crack and crevice, every point and pinnacle, was carefully explored for the hidden metal. Every rock of less than seven hundred pounds weight was broken up and carefully assayed in a rude way. Every little hole was prospected....

Cannaday, Oscar Roos and another partner or two, built a large log house for the benefit of the traveling public which was to flock to and through the embryo city on a supposed stage line, on a supposed road, that was to be built through the country from St. Croix Falls to Lake Superior. They called their house the "Kiesca's House" and ornamented one of its ends with a huge chimney built of clay and rock. The house soon became known as "Kiesca's chimney." A stable was erected capable of stabling forty horses; but the concern had more room than customers. The stage road was not built; the line of stages never started; the expected rush of travel was postponed; and as winter passed away, so did their hopes and prospects.

I have several questions regarding the above.

1. Who wrote the article on Clam Falls Township and what is the source of the information about the 1857 event?

2. Where are the huge cliffs of trap rock in Clam Falls Township? The article mentions a 7' high trap rock ledge which forms the falls. This is hidden today under the dam.

3. Where was the location of Kiesca's House? Is there any evidence of it today?

Thank you for any help you can provide.

Taylors Falls

My Rambling reply: 
The  Polk Co Historical Society passed this request on to me in the
hopes I might know something!   Sadly, I know very little.  I did put
a little in a Luck Area Historical Society newsletter

  Some other rambling notes:
    Kiesca-seba   Ojibway name for the Clam River which sometimes has
been translated "there are clams."

The original survey map is at this link.  You can zoom it in and see
the "trap ranges" marked on the map--where the ledges described were
likely seen.

The actual descriptions as the surveyors made the section boundaries
can be read at

for example a trap rock ledge between sections 12 and 13

    Map of Clam Falls in 1887 shows a hotel --might be the same as the
1857 house if it were still standing--hard to know from this. Possibly
the early Sterling Township tax records located at the University of
WI - River Falls on microfilm might list something in the 1857 and
newer records.  Most of the land entries in that area was still not
owned and were part of Sterling until the 1860s or 70s when they had
enough population to start a Town govt.  The Sterling records kept at
the Cushing Community Center by Sterling appear to be missing the
1850s books.   My own guess is that since the logging dam is already
shown in the 1855 survey map, the house is likely very nearby to
accomodate the traffic and activity around the dam itself.
A forest fire burned Clam Falls in 1891, so that may have destroyed
the house. You might check the old newspapers on microfilm at UW
-River Falls archives for 1891 fire information.

   In 1876 in writing the history of Polk County for the 100th
birthday of the USA, many of the Town (township) articles were written
by whomever was a "writer" in the area associated with Town govt.  My
first guess is Daniel Smith.  He "named the township of Luck" had a
sawmill there very early, cut out the St Croix Falls to Luck to Clam
Falls trail (by his account in an letter to the newspaper) and in
general was into most things in Clam Falls after it broke off from
Luck Township in 1876 (?)

  He was the pioneer there and likely was living there in 1876. He was
66 years old then and actively involved in the town.  He lived to be
almost 90 years old as I recall.
Dan F. Smith 1877-84

Daniel Smith And Page N. Butts

Dan Smith was so closely allied with the early settlement of Clam
Falls that a brief mention of his life’s history would not be out of
place here.He was born March 6, 1919 in New York. When he was 21 years
old he came West and stopped at Racine in company with his father and
his brother he moved to Milton, Rock County and built a  log house
into which he took his bride, 10 miles from any other white woman. In
1840 he and his brother built the first sawmill in Rock county.

In 1854 he came to St Croix Falls. He took the first saw mill to
Butternut Lake in 1868 and in 1872 started a saw mill at Clam Falls.
When asked why he gave the name Luck to Butternut lake he said”I
propose to be in “luck” the rest of my life”

Trouble arose between him and Jeb Cushing which resulted in a law suit
and a judgment in the Supreme
Court against Cushing for $10.000.00. The case was said to be
celebrated in the legal history of the state.

Mr. Smith died Dec. 30th 1900at the age of 87 in Chippewa Falls. His
body was taken to Rock county for burial.

How Luck Got Its Name

Daniel Smith was the one who gave the name to the town of Luck. He was
born in Chautauqua County, New York in 1813.  In 1834 he traveled to
Michigan and married Eliza Green.  They then moved to Racine County,
Wisconsin, and then to Stevens Point where he helped start two
businesses. One of his partners was accidentally killed and the
businesses closed. He then moved to Memphis, Tennessee where he
started a grocery business.   The business failed and he lost all of
his money.

Smith then tried many businesses including mining in California, and
manufacturing shingles.  In 1862 he returned to St Croix Falls and
started a logging business. In 1868 he built a sawmill on Big
Butternut Lake.  Daniel and William Foster both helped start Luck
Township in 1868.  Daniel is sometimes given credit for choosing the
name Luck, as his luck had changed from bad to good when he moved to
Big Butternut Lake.  “I want to be in Luck the rest of my life,” he
said as he proposed the name Luck for his new home.

Smith founded the city of Clam Falls in 1872.  Smith built a sawmill
in Clam Falls with the help of a partner, and the town became a
booming settlement.  Dan Smith was a Polk County Commissioner for many

I am attaching a letter from Dan Smith's daughter to W.H.C Folsum
(from the archives in the MN Hist Society) that gives a little Clam
Falls info too.  Copied it several years ago when I was interested in
that area.

If you have difficulty with the links, the attachments or whatever, I
can stop at the St Croix Fall's Library and help you (or if you like,
I volunteer Monday afternoons at the Luck Museum 1-4 pm for the Polk
Co Genealogical Society).

Hope this helps a little.  I think your best bet is to read old
newspaper accounts.

By the way, the copper craze was not limited to Taylor's Falls and
Clam Falls, but the traprock ridges near Trade Lake were also

Copper paint mine at Grantsburg

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Explosion on the Farm!

Awoke to the birds singing, full daylight and the feeling I had overslept.  Rolled out of bed and got up for the day and was making coffee before I glanced at the clock as noticed 5:30 am!   Now, that is earlier than I normally get up by an hour at least!  But, dressed and ready for the day, too much work to go back to bed. 
Grandpa's Barn on the River Road -- Long gone now. 

As it was cool, and I had stalled the Cub Cadet in the garden the previous evening, decided to see if I could get it going and finish cultivating the pumpkins and squash half acre in the field across the road from the cabin. 

The Cub has a rusty gas tank and my newly installed gas-line filter sometimes plugs totally.  I didn't try to unhook it and blow it out yesterday as I don't like to fool around with hot engines and dribbling gasoline.  Grandpa P.H Hanson did that ending up with some pretty serious burns back in ought 9 of the previous century (he was the first customer for gasoline in Barron WI--the druggist kept a barrel that came in by rail just for Grandpa and a couple of early horseless carriage enthusiasts.  When he filled his gas tank on his stationary gas engine used on his buzz saw rig while it was still hot--everyone went far away--Grandpa should have too). 

Filled the gas tank, checked the oil and pulled off the rubber hose gas-line --very little gas coming through.   A mighty puff (with my embrochure set just as band teacher Mr. David Bilderback taught me for the sax--don't puff up the cheeks) and the gas poured out again.  Stuck it back on with the pliers clip and the Cub started right up.  Adjusted the needle valve to lean it out a little and was off.  

I "checked" my pumpkin and squash hills again this year so I can cultivate North and South and then East and West and get most of the weeds without hoeing.  I spent an hour driving back and forth and up and down the rows trying to spot the tiny  2-leaf barely sprouted after a month in the ground seedlings. Looked pretty good behind the cultivator. 

Making a turn on the road ditch edge of the field, the small mounted cultivator with 6 shovels hit a stump under the surface and one of the shovels fell off.  Stopping to check it out, found that the channel iron holding the very end tooth rod had snapped right off.   I stuck shovel in another slot thinking a trip to the welder was in order sometime later in the day (yes, I have a welder, but Dad said my welding was more like 'dobbing' than welding).  

Spent some time hoeing and got inside at about 7 am.  Too early for breakfast, and filled with ambition, I took the weed whip and drove the 2 miles to Mom's to touch up her yard and around the garden fence.  I planned to spray the apples for the first time with Sevin with the sprayer mounted on the B-Allis  The Allis has an old 6-volt battery, so the first thing I did was hook the 4 amp charger up at 6-volts to give it a buzz while I then whipped things into shape and took the tiller through her 8 rows of deer-fenced garden.  

Her peas are growing, but not blooming; the radishes roots haven't begun to swell, the lettuce shows promise, but is about the size of a cat's ear; the strawberries set and a few showing tiny green berries; the Fredonia grapes blooming and raspberry canes lush, but not blooming yet.   Lots of weeds bit the dust with a few hours of hoeing still needed. 
Putting the tiller away, I turned on the gas on the B-Allis, turned on the switch and decided to leave the charger connected to give it a slight boost.  Into neutral, choke out and standing side of the battery, used my hand to push the foot rod starter.   With the first touch an explosion deafened me!

Taking inventory, I was OK, but the battery center cell had the top missing--blew the plastic completely off the top of the of it!  No acid on me and no damage to me or the tractor, but quite astonishing to happen.  The theory is that charging causes hydrogen gas to boil off and a spark can set it off--normally that means be careful when hooking jumping or charging, but never ever had anything like that happen to me before. Lucky standing so close I wasn't hit or acid drenched.  

I unhooked the charger, and after studying things a little and getting some hearing back, unconnected the two battery posts and removed the battery.   Figured I would have to dump it before I could haul it to town and get a new one, I tipped it over onto some weeds next to the shed to let the earth buffer the acid.   

Mom had some brunch ready so we visited a little and I told her to be on the watch for two separate deliveries of boxes of the new "75th Sterling Settler's Picnic" book coming by UPS later this week.  She was, as always, determined to pay me for tilling and weed whipping.  I would prefer to do it as helping out, but she is very stubborn, so I take the small checks and either buy some gas or rip them up--although I suppose I deserve the money as much as the charities she sends too (dozens from March-of-Dimes to Father Flannigan and his Boys Town and a bunch of Hell Fire preaching TV ministers).  Quite a racket those charities have with old folks.  

Headed to the sand garden where I grow watermelons and flowers and hoed a little but it is even less sprouted than the pumpkin and squash garden.  The flat seed plants just don't get going without some warm weather. Maybe this week that will happen.  I had set out some all ready started melons I got from brother Marv and from Walmart, but those the cutworms had left seemed to have gone into hospice mode too. 

Headed back to the cabin and weed whipped around until the machine and I ran out of gas so at about 11 came in and checked my email, posted some stuff on Facebook (did you know that the 2012 economic growth rate for MN at over 3% was more than twice the 1.45% growth of WI and the .24% growth of SD?)   I feel obligated to point out to my Republican friends that cutting taxes does not always lead to economic growth.  

Still having a little ambition, changed the oil in the 99 Hyundai mostly because I wanted to look under it and figure out where the extra sound from the exhaust system is coming from that I noticed leaving Mom's today.  Couldn't find anything obvious, so decided that the explosion must have improved my hearing and that is why the car has a louder purr than it used to.    I use Geritoil in the Hyundai--it has almost 200,000 miles on it likely has "iron poor, tired blood."

Friday, when my brothers helped me haul an old sewing machine and other miscellaneous museum items to the Cushing museum, we stopped at a garage sale.  There was a mountain bike--maybe a 24 inch or so--in nice shape for $10.  Marv took it for a spin and made it look so easy I got sucked into buying it "as I need something to make me bend my new knee and get it loosened up."   

I aired the tires and checked it out and everything looked OK except the tiny seat needed to be raised to the max to fit an adult.  Got on it and realized that the seat must be designed for riding while standing up.  Found I couldn't bend my knee enough to bring it up and pedal, so coasted to a stop,  and got off.  The seat, sort of like a hunting arrow, was pointed and very narrow--reminded me of a suppository.  

Realizing that bike is a little too small -- and will be donated to Marv's bike collection to help when his 16 grandchildren stop by, decided to see if my old bike was really past rehabilitation.   Tires held air, chain oiled up nicely and using a stepladder to climb over the bar, got on and started off.   Bike ran fine, but again my knee kneeds work on the bending further.  Hard to ride when you have the agony of deknee instead of the thrill of victory.   I just need to follow the doc's instructions and bend the damn thing every morning to get the hinge rust out. 

Worn out, headed to Tractor Supply, my best local chance of getting a 6-volt tractor battery.  $80 later, and after a McCrispyChickenBacon Wrap at McD's, and a stop at the Restore store and a couple of drive-by visits to the shiny new tractors at the Baribeau farm machinery lot, I came home--ready to put the battery in the Allis tomorrow and spray those 30 full sized apple trees.  Last year I didn't, and they were so wormy only the deer chose to try them.  

Writing this, got hungry for an evening snack to take out on the porch and watch the sun go down, so following my recipe learned by trial and error, took 4 marshmallows, a pat of butter and put them in a glass microwave safe cereal bowl and zapped for 45 seconds.  The microwave started making sparking noises and looking in I saw flashes of fire.  Standing far to the side, I turned it off and after time for reflection, pulled the dish out.   The metal twist-tie had fallen in under my marshmallows and had caused the microwave to spark!   So, fixed that and finished the melt and then dumped 1 cup of Rice Krispies in and stirred together to make one nice big Rice Krispie ball --instant gratification!

I noticed the electric blanket seemed to be fraying at the cord when I made the bed this morning--with the luck I'm having today, think I will unplug it tonight. Tomorrow--batteryfi the Allis, spray the apples, repair the cultivator (bought some rubber mounted springy hayrake teeth to try to add), change the oil on the Ford 2N tractor, work on some computer poster projects, tar the roof (although it hasn't leaked now for 2 days)... or maybe I will check the clock and sleep late!
Haying on the Hanson Farm took up much of the summer.  Marv on the wagon.  

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Pacman Bird

Fog at 6:30 am

Trumpeter Swan drifts by 7:30 am
Listening on my porch each morning and evening I hear a couple of amazing bird calls.  Sounds a little like a flute playing the scales very rapidly.

After going to the Cornell U Birdsongs website and listening to each one, I finally determined it was a Veery Thrush.

 A very nice video can be found on youtube. 

 Veery Thrush singing

  Son Scott, who grew up in the 80s and 90s visited the cabin with Margo for Father's day.   Hearing it yesterday evening, he said "Oh, the Pacman bird."

Pacman is a 1990 video game where a little circle with a mouth goes around a maze gobbling ghosts or being gobbled.  I searched the Internet and found a Pacman "ghost gobble" siren sound.   It does sound a little like the Veery.  Each generation has its own context it appears!

Pacman Siren sound

While listening to the Veery early this morning, the Trumpeter Swan swam by, a distant Sandhill Crane sounded, and all sorts of other birds chimed in.  I took a dew covered walk down to the lake--not a hint of a breeze at all. 

As I walked down the hill the temperature cooled and the sweet and pungent smell of lake water, swampy edges, rich with decay and life filled the still cool air.  In the distance, a deer stood watching me and let me approach to gradually before leaping in huge bounds off into the brush and trees.  

Far to the north, an occasional beef cow bellow reminded me that mother's are already grumbling about their children's behavior early in the morning.  Father's day is today, so other than the trumpeter honking, and the birds claiming their territory, we are too mellow to bellow.  

Margo is up for the weekend.  She still tires easily, but seems to be getting back to normal after a year from cancer diagnosis and ending treatment last Monday.  She visited her hair dresser who made a quick trim of her sideburns and back of the neck for free and where she caught up on what has been happening in Pine Island as well as moving back into the world of feeling like a normal person with normal schedules.  She plans to be up to the cabin in mid July after a few more appointments and a stay with a friend who needs a little help after hip surgery. It will be nice to have her back!

Spent most of Saturday at the spring writer's conference in Balsam Lake where we learned about the best book readers  and how to write books for book readers and to self publish.   As I am already very much into that, didn't learn much other than that most of the others are still just testing the waters.  The technical person who described the complications of choosing and using a book reader pretty much scared off many of the folks (average age >65),   I told them not to get too worried for if they got into trouble, their grandchildren could get things straightened out!

I ordered copies of the brand new "75 Years of the Sterling Old Settler's Picnic" picture book to get them back in time for the June 30th potluck picnic at Cushing, WI.  I was not finished--had much more captioning of photos to do, but it is such an exacting, boring, tedious effort, that my head and heart were just not into it this year.  Maybe edition 2, next year will be better.  I opined that it would be just as easy to take the flack for not captioning the individuals in each photo as to get them labelled wrong!   One hundred sixty eight 8.5x11 pages.   Ordered 15 full color books (cost about $15 each to print and will sell for $20) and 60 black and white (cost about $5 to print and sell for $10).  The financials are through the Sterling Eureka and Laketown Historical Society -- they pay for the printing and get the profit and I contribute my effort free (or maybe for the infamy). 

   You can get a preview of the books checking at Amazon
Picnic Book (Black and White)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Gerda Ravenholt Bune -- Obituary

Another one of the 9 Ravenholt children who grew up in Luck, WI passed away June 10th.   You can read about her at

I met her a few times when she visited Luck WI.  She and her siblings were well known in the Luck area.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Cancer Free at Last, Cancer Free at Last!

Almost a year after diagnosis, Margo has completed treatment for breast cancer and is cancer free!
When Margo completed her cancer treatments, she got to ring the bell in the waiting room and get a big cheer from the other patients and staff!  The poem on the bell:

Ring this bell
Three times well
The toll to clearly say

My treatments are done
Its course has run
And I am on my way

  Now for a few months resting recovery and then back to normal!!!!  Today she is headed for a hair cut--seems a little premature to me--but after 6 months of not needing one it probably feels good to get back into the normal routine and catch up on all the local happenings!

Father's Day gift

Son Scott, unbeknownst to him until he gets the bill, got me my Father's Day gift early!   A $72 (with tax) tablet computer.   I already had one, but it had flaws and was a year old, so desperately needed a newer better version.

Being quite frugal, I checked this one out -- generally quite well rated online and had all the features I missed in my old tablet--nicer touch response, camera, full Google Play store, USB, SD microchip and so on.  After day 1, I am fully functional with mail, facebook, browser, bookreader, and online newspapers all setup and readable.

Heck of a deal!  One of the best Father's day gifts in a while!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Margo to finish cancer treatment Monday!

Monday, June 10, Margo will finish her last of 25 radiation treatments that followed surgery and chemo for breast cancer that had spread to the lymph nodes. 

On the way out of the treatment center, she will ring the bell announcing to everyone in the waiting room that she is all done!

Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN has been very good to her and she has made dozens of friends in the medical staff there and with other patients.  

After the last treatment, the following Monday, she has her blood access port removed from under the skin and then begins the resting period to get back her strength and stamina.  

Yesterday, she was in her greenhouse re-potting some house plants and in general thinking about getting back to her hobby of growing plants each spring, and getting some flower beds in shape and so on.  

Scott, between jobs at the ski hill last winter and a local bee keeper this summer has been available to take her to the radiation treatments and let me loaf up at the cabin in WI.   They are coming up to spend father's day with me this coming weekend, after entertaining her father who is visiting a few days this week.  

She may soon have to start getting the curlers out as her hair is an inch long now and soon the days of not having to bother with it will be over. 

I think we may see her in WI in time for the Polk County fair--which you only have until Tuesday to get your entries in.  We both have entries this year and plan on helping with the old school house on the fair grounds as usual.  Last year when we were there, she knew she had cancer and was worrying about starting treatment in August.  

Always style conscious, Russ and Margo in their Sunday-go-to-meeting duds

Saturday, June 8, 2013

A 12-Tick 4-morel woods walk

Stalling on finishing off the latest book I am working on, 75th anniversary of the Sterling Old Settler's picnic--due June 30th at the picnic, I took a walk in the woods on the first partly sunny afternoon in a while.  

I wasn't looking for morels, but did find 4 more and a few that I left that were too old.  I bumped into my first real mosquito attack back in the deep wet woods and since I returned have found 12 ticks--the big ones--and expect more yet. 

The thorn apples are blooming wonderfully and have their own unique perfume.  The blackcherries and elderberries are full bloom too, and the wild geraniums add a violet contrast to the green ferns along my paths. 

Maiden hair fern 

Thorn apples all through the old cow pasture

Black cherries are all through the woods, some huge.

Thorn apple trees are the last to bloom; have tiny red apples loved by the birds, deer and bears and are the first to lose their leaves in the late summer.   They have long sharp thorns to keep cows from grazing them off. 

And by the time I got these pictures added here I found it was a 14 tick walk with hints of more yet. 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Fawny Business

A short video of one of two pairs of does and fawns gamboling below the cabin.
Fawn Link

The Deet T's

"Shall I take the nice large Mayo Clinic plastic bag?" I thought to myself as I prepared to head out for the woods for another morel mushroom hunt.

"Too presumptious, and such a nice throw away bag, better save it for something special."  Digging out two of the thin plastic Wal-mart bags, I stuffed them in my pockets as if I had just forgotten them from a trip to town.

Half of today's morels

Other half found today
"You gotta sneak up on those morels--if you go to the woods too well prepared you are sure to get skunked" was the advice I got from Dad back when I first started the hunt.  

Well,  I tucked my pantlegs into the thick wool socks I thought I needed this morning when I woke to 45 degrees in the cabin.  Then tucked my tee-shirt and sweat shirt into my pants and sprayed the pant legs with DEET --the bug spray to discourage wood ticks from crawling all the way up my tucked in clothes to my neck.

Not sure if it is the DEET or maybe a bad mushroom, but lately I have been dreaming of ticks crawling all over me.  Sort of like when Uncle Alvin was hitting the bottle too much and got the DT's, I wonder if this might be the DEET T's?   When you come in from the woods and pick off  the big regular ticks and the tiny bear ticks, all in a life struggle to climb the precipitous belt overhang to the pinnacle of the hairline and suck enough blood to lay eggs, the rest of the day you are sure there are ticks crawling under your pants, into the underwear, up the leg and on the back of the neck or into the beard.   Most of the time it is a false alarm, but even after I go to bed, these virtual ticks annoy me.  There are just enough real ones so every imagined crawler has to be checked out. 
Made what will be my last foray into the woods looking for morels.  Got enough altogether to claim this as even better than last year, and they are starting to be somewhat over-the-hill; some already broken off; some with spots of decay; slugs here and there and ants starting to hole them.  

  Was rewarded by the most yet--80 nice sized ones!   Found about half in the same place I found the others and the other half in the south woods in deep prickly ash thickets.  Filled one bag with a couple pounds and left it as I crossed the road and struggled through the prickly ash to the dead elms back in this woods.  

Both sites were south slopes in the edge of the woods near elms that died in the past year or two.  They were thick on the ground both places, probaby areas no more than 20x20 feet.  

Filling the fragile Wal-mart bag scraping through the prickly ash, hands dripping blood from scratches (proof my blood thinning aspirin a day is working), I stopped to reconnoiter and noticed the bag felt lighter than it should.  

The prickly ash had snagged it and torn a hole, so I spent the next 10 minutes backtracking the trail of morels feeling like Hansel and Grettel, lost in the deep dark brushy woods where I had struggled over downed dead elm limbs, brush and tender but potent nettles.  

Satisfied that I had all the obvious ones and wanting to leave some for spore spread, I headed for the open trail I mow into the woods.  The old cow pasture is growing in with brush--so all the open areas are ringed with prickly ash for 15 feet to scratch your way through out.   Just as I got out, the walking stick broke--I alway pick up a small dead branch for a stick to help poke around the foliage looking for mushrooms and to stablize my stumbles through the woods with my new knee--which although it is pretty darn good, I didn't quite get it bending the full 90 yet, and I tumbled down into the briar patch.

  I managed to hold the morels high and they were saved, but getting up in the prickly ash and back walking took a few minutes.   Finally I just grabbed onto a prickly ash bush, thorns and all and pulled myself out.  

The old timers thought a little blood letting was good for health, so I am probably in pretty good shape for a few days now.  

Soaking the morels so the critters can extricate themselves and will then freeze them for the winter ahead. 

Margo celebrates her birthday on June 3rd!  After her radiation treatment on that day, and a trip to McDonalds where she will get anything she wants off the dollar menu, she will only have 5 more days of radiation.  Then a week of tests and the port out and it is all done.  The radiation has been reasonable, although she is tired and needs a month or two to rest up.  She isn't coming to the cabin right away, but headed to visit her relatives as well as a stay with a friend for a week.   For some reason, she thinks that if she comes up to the cabin I might put her to work right away.  Nothing farther from the truth! Just a little hoeing, a little wood piling, some house cleaning, and maybe painting is all I have in mind.  

Gotta quit now--darned ticks crawling all over me again.  

Us with Scott, probably a year or two ago.