Welcome to the internet's favorite "family safe" blog

Double clicking on a photo will give you an enlarged view

Search This Blog

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Brenda's "Boys"

Riley at left and Reggie on the right in the back yard
Riley and Reggie are Brenda's "boys".  They sleep in the house at night, but live and play in the back yard during the day.  Riley is the lead dog.  Reggie is mild mannered and will do whatever Riley says.  One day, I made the mistake of leaving the yard fence gate open for a minute . . . too long.  Riley looks at Reggie and says, "Now's our chance, lets go for it!"  Off they went into the neighborhood.  I spotted them right away, but it was too late.
I knew I was in trouble with Brenda, so I immediately set about rounding them up.  It didn't take long to herd Reggie back to the security of the fenced-in backyard.  Riley was not so easily subdued.  Up and down the street I went talking kindly, "come on Riley, I just want to pet you and scratch under your chin.  I won't grab you, honest, I won't make you go back into the confinement of the back yard.  Really Riley; pretty please, won't you just come to old Grandpa?"

So went the humiliating pursuit.  Up the street and back again. Neighbors stood at their windows, chuckling to themselves as this old geezer approached Riley to almost within reach and then scampered way, enjoying the 'game'.  As we went by Brenda's one more time, Eve stood outside with the gate open.  For some unknown reason Riley took off for the home gate as if to say, "finally, why didn't you ask me before?"   The dog hunt was over.  Riley was home once again in the backyard haunt with ol' buddy Reggie.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Helping Brenda in Post Falls, ID

Brenda and her Dad plant shrubs in the front yard.
Brenda is a busy gal, so Chuck and Eve decided to head out west to see if we could lend a hand getting her new house shaped up.  We spend a week there doing odd jobs around the house and a variety of fun activities.  Some of the jobs we did were, wash windows, plant some new shrubs, help organize the garage, mow the lawn, fix a couple of screens, fix a leaking toilet, fix a door latch and just general fun stuff.  Brenda was working every day, but we cooked out, ate out, geocached, took our day trip, attended her softball game, attended her Rotary luncheon, etc.  By the way, Brenda was the 2010 Rotarian of the Year in Coeur d'Alene and we are proud of her!  I also was able to cruise around town on Rachel's bike which is stored in Brenda's garage.  Every morning, I went for a short walk in the neighborhood and would pick a fresh bouquet of flowers from the vacant lots in the area. (No wonder my allergies were fussing all week.)

Side Trip to Priest Lake Area

Priest Lake in Northern Idaho
Our little 'vacation within a vacation' consisted of a day trip to Priest Lake, about 60 miles north of Post Falls.  We rented a car for the day and Eve and I headed north.  We had heard that this was a premier mountain and lake paradise of Idaho.  Much of the area is National Forest and Woodchuck was in his glory with trees and wild flowers in abundance.  We visited the cedar grove (next post), several spots along the lake, a US Forest Service museum, ate lunch at a resort along the lake, drove up the west side of the lake, the east side of the lake and made many stops along the way to look at and photograph wild flowers.  Perhaps Woodchuck will feature more posts in the future featuring some of the flowers.  On the way home, we stopped for supper at a restaurant at Old Town, ID on the border with Washington State with a view overlooking the snow melt-filled Ponderay River.

Saw the Cedars

300 year old western red cedars make up a remnant grove that survived a 1926 forest fire
One of the stops that was on our 'must see' list was the Hanna Grove of old growth cedars.  Even though this was in an area of ponderosa, white and lodgepole pine, it was a springy damp area and so was spared a devastating forest fire in 1926.  This was on a tract of land that a family by the name of Hanna had claimed, but when they saw the sized of the trees, they moved on to find a claim with less daunting-sized trees to use to build their cabin.  Some of these trees were 4 feet in diameter and over 100 feet tall.  Loggers were only interested in white pine at this time. 

Geocaching in Post Falls

Woodchuck demonstrates his gps technique as Brenda and John look on.
Some of our fun times in Post Falls were spent geocaching with Brenda and her friend, John.  There were oodles of caches right around their neighborhood and all over the city.  We found quite a few, but there were some real "stumpers".  Once, John sniffed one out that the rest of us had walked by.  Another that we had made a second trip to look for, old Woodchuck bungled into.  Some had to be chalked up to: "must have been muggled", "the coordinates must be off" and just plain "lets give this one up". 

Caching at the Hot Rod Cafe

One of the caches we found was at this "California Surfer" type cafe.
We found a cache on the shady boulevard alongside this unusual cafe in Post Falls.

A Walk In The Park

Eve, Me and Brenda along the Spokane River in Post Falls Photo by John.
On a beautiful Sunday afternoon, Brenda, John, Eve and I stopped by the Post Falls Pita Pit.  We picked up our pitas and headed for the Kiwanis Park on the Spokane River.  Sitting at a picnic table in the shade of magnificent aromatic pines we enjoyed our healthy and delicious lunch.  Then, gps's in hand, we strolled toward the river searching for 2 geocaches along the way.  No luck - "muggled", but it was great just being there together. 

Friday, April 29, 2011

Back to Eagle River

On Thursday morning in Seward we were greeted with sunny skies.
Our third floor motel room opened on a view of the harbor and mountain range directly east.  We headed out to Historic Seward downtown and a hippyish coffee internet cafe where we had a coupon for a free Belgian waffle.  It was a pretty good and reasonable place to eat with just one hippy doing the cooking, cash register and serving. 
We then hit the road over the pass and to the wildlife conservation center near the end of Turn Again Arm. There we saw woodland bison, moose, caribou, brown bears, black bears and more. 
We stopped in Girdwood for lunch.  Logan had an exotic meal of macaroni and cheese.  Then on north to Anchorage and Eagle River, arriving home about 3:30, the end of a stupendous trip. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Our Visit to Seward, Alaska

On Wednesday morning we left Logan's house in Eagle River to head for the Kenai Peninsula.  Driving through Anchorage and along the Turnagain Arm of Cook Inlet, we then mounted Turnagain pass and down to Seward.  The 150 mile trip took us about 3 hours.  Logan was an excellent traveler only asking 'when we would get there' a time or two along the way.  We stopped for gas at Gridwood and then again for a few minutes at the top of the pass.  Roads were good, traffic was light and scenery was top notch.  Seward is a coastal town on the east side of the kenai Peninsula.  Tourism is a major industry here, with cruise ships, whale watching tours, charter fishing, the Sea Life Center and visits to the Exit Glacier.  We arrived in Seward about 12:30 and went directly to the Sea Life Center.  We ate a small lunch in the parking lot which Grandma had prepared for us and then embarked on our sea life adventure.

The Sea Life Center

Logan and Grandma just inches away from a passing sea lion
Logan along with several other school children are allowed to actually touch sea urchins, anemones and other small sea creatures.
I believe the Sea Life Center in Seward must be the finest display of ocean life anywhere.  They have live seals, fish, birds and invertebrates of all kinds, displayed in a simulated natural environment.  You can observe them from the surface or underwater.  It is very interesting and entertaining.  Many of the sea birds are extremely colorful and unusual from a midwestern viewpoint.  Like a loon they are also expert swimmers and may be viewed underwater pursueing their prey of small fish.  There were many school children on class trips at the aquarium as well. 

Off to Exit Glacier

View as close as we could get to Exit Glacier
After our visit to the Sea Life Center, we drove the ten miles out to Exit Glacier.  In summer you can drive almost up to the end of the glacier and then walk the rest of the way.  However, this time of year the road is closed about two miles short of it's end.  Still, an impressive sight. 

Waterfront Playground

Logan and friends having big time at the playground
After the glacier visit, Grandpa wanted to check out the shore for seashells.  There was a park and playground at the waterfront, so while Grandma watched, Logan burned off some energy along with the local kids at the playground.  Not a great variety of shells there just some barnacles and mussels, but fun just to walk along the shore and look.  By then it was getting towards supper time, so we looked for a place to eat.  We finally settled on a Mexican shop where Eve and I had halibut tacos and Logan had a cheese Quesedilla.  After supper, we walked to a nearby geocache, which we found and then to the motel. 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter with the Calivas'

Brian and Rachel with Alexis 2 mo and Logan 6 yrs
On Easter morning we  went to Sunday services at a nearby Assembly of God Church.  The people were friendly there and the worship music and message was good.  Afterwards, we hid some (real) eggs in the backyard for Logan to find.  Later, Logan and I flew his Buzz Lightyear around the back yard  while Brian cooked a good ham dinner. After dinner while we were waiting for Grandma's luscious layer cake to be served, we sat in a circle and played the Easter Egg Game where we each drew a numbered plastic egg out of a basket.  Opening them in chronological order, the item inside (cross, rock, etc.) tell the Biblical story of the death and resurrection of our Lord and Savior.  Appropriately, the last egg is EMPTY!  HE IS RISEN! 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

flying High

Logan's kite flies high toward the mountains.
Friday we went out to the Lion's Park to fly Logan's kite.  There was a goodly breeze, so the kite flew high in the sky.  As you can see Eagle River is nestled in the mountains.  The weather here is similar to what we left in Wisconsin.  However, there are still stubborn patches of snow in shady spots.  The lakes remain iced over and snow lingers in higher elevations.  Logan's dad Brian being an Air Force Sargent was able to offer technical assistance in flying the kite.

Logan Finds First Geocache

Logan and Grandma geocaching
On Friday, we went out to a ball field to fly a kite with Logan and Brian.  Then we went to find the nearest geocache.  There are zillions of caches close by.  We ended up logging 4 of them by Saturday. 

Sunday, February 20, 2011

God Bless America?

I wrote the following for the Duluth News Tribune.  It appeared in the Sunday, February 20, 2011 Edition. 

 “God Bless America”!   How can He?  Since the Supreme Court made abortion at any stage of pregnancy a ‘woman’s right’, we have disposed of (murdered) over 50 million unborn babies.  Not “fetuses”; babies.  The same God who is the author of our freedom has “created us in His image” Genesis 1:27 and “formed us in the womb” Psalm 139:13.   Our country’s founders based our Declaration of Independence on this premise. 
By far, most abortions are done for ‘convenience, not for the health of the mother. 

President Obama has supported government funding of embryonic stem cell research which requires the sacrifice of a living human embryo.  Yet according to David A. Prentice, PH.D. of the Family Research Council, “despite over 12 years of promises, embryonic stem cells still have not helped a single patient”. To the contrary, adult stem cell research has proven success at saving lives and improving health on a daily basis. Cancers, spinal cord injury, heart damage, MS and many other diseases have been successfully treated with stem cells taken from adult donors and the patients themselves. 

Health Care Reform Act advocates have defended government supported ‘end of life counseling’ proposed by the law.  Yet, a sensitive reading of that portion of the law makes it clear that the intention of the law is to reduce health care expenditures by encouraging the elderly and other terminal cases to opt for the economical rather than the personal choice.  Indeed, to die in these cases rather than to continue expensive treatment would save us all money.  But would it be the moral thing to do?  That is an issue to be considered by the patient and family.  Involvement by government leverage would be entirely inappropriate. 

“God Bless America?”  Only when we repent of our ungodly attitude. 

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Wise Old Owl

The Barred Owl stopped by for lunch the other day

A barred owl came by our bird feeder the other day to see if he could pick up a quick snack of chickadee or nuthatch.  His call says, "whoo cooks for youuuu?" To my knowledge, the owl eats his lunch uncooked.  

Annual Snowshoe Hike

Woodchuck and son enjoy a winter picnic
Every year for many years Dave has been hosting a snowshoe hike with his Dad.  They hike into the woods some distance and locate a suitable lunch spot.  There, they gather wood, lay a fire and cook a relaxing woodsy lunch.  Its a great day in the woods and time to philosophize, converse and observe the treasures of nature.   
Dave tends our cooking fire along the river

Deer Heiroglyphics

What does it say?
I found these odd markings on a patch of ice on the edge of the St. Croix River.  They were made by a "sure-footed" deer who was slippin and slidin on the ice.  Or was it an attempt by a highly evolved deer trying to communicate with us?  Another of the myriad mysteries to be contemplated in the north woods. 

Birdie Condo

A black spruce "developed" by a woodpecker"
The forest real estate developers aka woodpeckers chisel out large holes in bug infested trees in their quest for lunch.  Inadvertently, they provide homes for smaller birds such as chickadees and nut hatches. Our Creator, God, wastes nothing. 

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose."  Romans 8:28

Twizzle Stick

a vine wrapped around this young red maple
Vines, common further south, are unusual in our territory.  This one I was unable to identify in it's winter state sans leaves.  Perhaps a wild grape, it grew around a red maple sapling providing this twizzle appearance. 

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Snow Snakes Alive!

This snow snake awaits a victim to fall upon
Over the years, I have spent many a day trudging through the snow near and far.  I had heard old timers speak of strange wild creatures and not being one to doubt those more experienced than I, I kept an open mind.  All these years and my attention to the unusual was finally rewarded.  In the rugged area behind our home known as groovy gully, a favorite place for the grandkids to slide on Christmas Eve, I was on snowshoes packing the snow for the annual slide-a-thon.  When I heard a definite hissss coming from above my head, I jumped back just in time to avoid being struck by the biggest snow snake I had ever seen!  Forgetting the danger, I quickly grabbed my camera and got this shot to prove to those who would doubt that such a creature exists in the wilds of Lake Nebagamon. 

Woodchuck Discovers Natural Thermometer

On an icy morning our rhodadendron plant looks like this with leaves rolled tight and narrow.
A few hours later when the temperature reached the upper 20's the leaves relaxed and unfurled.
Yureka!  Woodchuck walks by these plants daily as he comes and goes along the front walk.  One day he says, "these plants have a life of their own - one time the leaves are plump and the next they are skinny!"  Further observation revealed a direct relationship to air temperature.  Sciencemarches on.
The Lord God who has created the heavens and the earth came up with this innovation to protect the leaf cells when exposed to extreme cold.

Heavy Snows Have Long-Term Effect on Some Vegetation

How would you like to trudge through here on snowshoes? 
Loop de hoop! In November, we experienced heavy, wet snows that bent flexible shrubs and trees over forming a hoop.  Add more heavy snow, pinning the top to the ground with thawing and freezing rain on top and you have a hoop that will last all winter.  In fact some of this vegetation will remain in this form permanently.  Alder and hazel shrubs and even slender birch and saplings of all kinds were vulnerable. If you are a careful observer, you will occasionally see historical evidence of this kind of phenomena which occured in the past.  Stressed trees may survive and express their 'bent' for years to come. As the proverb says, " As the sapling is bent, so the tree grows."

Sunday, January 02, 2011

The Perfect Christmas Gift

I wrote this for the Duluth News Tribune.  It appeared in the December 24, 2010 edition.

Christmas is upon us again.  Some of us are still in a tizzy trying to find that ‘perfect’ gift for our loved ones.  Psychologists tell us this is a stressful time for many; the lonely, the poor, the bereaved, and those in dysfunctional families.  Benevolent organizations such as the Salvation Army are stretched in their efforts to reach out to the desperate and needy. 

God has a better plan:  He came in the flesh 2000 years ago, born to a humble young virgin in Israel.  Jesus, the Savior of mankind, the divine creator of the universe, came to earth to experience humanity and to offer humanity the opportunity to experience the divine.  He had full knowledge that he was headed to the cross with the purpose of taking the punishment for our sins upon himself.  He was God’s gift of Love.

Most would agree that Jesus has had more influence on the world than any other man.  Some say he was a ‘good’ man or a ‘great moral teacher’; however, he said he was Truth, Life, and the only way to salvation.  If he was who he said he was, he deserves our complete love, worship and obedience.  He invites us to follow him and promises he will be with us, lead us, answer our prayers and give us eternal life. 

Someone has defined religion as man’s attempt to reach God.  Jesus is God’s way to reach man.  Mohammed did not die for us; Buddha did not die for us.  The many Hindu gods did not die for us.  Jesus did.  He loves all mankind and he commands his followers to love others as he does. 

No matter who you are and what you have done, God loves you and has the perfect Christmas gift for you - himself!