Friday, August 29, 2014

Pier Natural Bridge Park - Rockbridge, Wisconsin

Yesterday I mentioned that the entire post today was going to be about Pier Natural Bridge Park in Rockbridge, Wisconsin. If you ever get to southern Wisconsin, it's a place you shouldn't miss.

Eric, our personal tour guide, and Kevin
aka 'Mr. Cranberry'

"Pier Natural Bridge Park is located along Hwy. 80 North, at Rockbridge in Richland County. The park obtains its name from the Pier family, who donated the land to Richland County to preserve the site as a park.  The site has a very unusual geological feature - a half-mile long "finger" of blocked and layered sandstone rising nearly 60 feet above the flood plain of two merging valleys.  This narrow finger is topped by tall pines and covered with green shrubs.  The West Branch of the Pine River meets with the Main Branch underneath this rock formation, which forms a Natural Bridge...This 10-acre county park has 6 campsites, two shelters, picnic tables and grills, play equipment, and pit toilets.  Camping permits may be obtained for a minor fee from the Natural Bridge Store, located next to the park.  All camping is on a first-come basis."

 - From Richland County Parks Commission website.

The red dot marks about where the Pier Natural Bridge Park and Rockbridge are. 

Pier Natural Bridge Park is south of Hillsboro and north of Richland Center. It's about halfway between LaCrosse and Madison, as the crow flies. That whole area is beautiful, so I'd highly recommend a visit. Maybe we'll get to go there again soon!


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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Wisconsin Barns, Westby Fences, Vintage Caboose

The first two photos were taken in the Westby, Wisconsin area. I always love the look of the black Amish buggies. I was going to say that it takes one back to a simpler time but really, there's nothing simple about the Amish way of living. It's got to be tough doing the field work by hand, hot and sweaty, taking forever, and watching your neighbor farmers sitting in their air-conditioned tractor cabs, harvesting a field in about 20 minutes (Okay, I'm exaggerating here, but not a lot).  On the other hand, if we ever have a huge solar flare that takes out the grid, we know who will not be affected.

 Westby Caboose
Now used just for fun.

Next weekend we're going to be hauling some slate blackboards to a few Amish families in the Westby area. I love that unglaciated part of the state. It is so gorgeous. I'm hoping to get many more photos. It's the perfect time of year to visit Westby.

Want to learn more about Westby? Check out Westby Remembered. 

One last fence:

At Pier Natural Bridge Park
Rockbridge, Wisconsin

Tomorrow's entire Cranberry Morning post is on Pier Natural Bridge Park. It is a gorgeous place to spend an afternoon. There are stairsteps so you can climb up to the top of that rock that is covered with trees and trails.




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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Hopping into the Hodgepodge

The little pal at my pond the other day

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1. As August draws to a close, share what's been your favorite weekend of the entire summer?

The family reunion at our home in early August.

2. Labor Day is marked in the US of A on Monday, September 1st.  What paying job have you held that you've loved the most? Liked the least?

Paying job I loved the most: clipping turkey toenails at the turkey hatchery - when I was 16 - the same summer I got my first kidney stone. The kidney stone was not a favorite part of that job, but the rest of it was pretty fun.

Paying job I liked the least: - when I was 15 - babysitting for 3 kids the entire summer.  Long hours and extremely poor pay. I think I was told that it would build character. I don't think it worked.

Non-paying job I loved the most: Homeschooling my own kids for 21 years.

One of my favorite students

Non-paying job I liked the least:  Cleaning the refrigerator.  (Unfortunately, this still applies.)

3. Does the new school year start before or after Labor Day where you live? When do you think it should begin? There is much discussion now about older students having later start times to their school day...your thoughts?

I think that public schools in Wisconsin now start after Labor Day. They used to start about August 18. Since most kids stay up to all hours of the night anyway and don't seem to be able to get up in the morning, I suppose it's not a bad idea for them to have a late-to-late school day, as long as they're able to grow up and find late-to-late employment.  Are there no morning people these days?

4. What's something you've worked at recently that could be deemed a 'labor of love'?

Baby Oliver's baby blankie. I've located the flannel, the batting, and the satin edge. Now I just have to get to work and sew it. I wasn't in a rush because the weather's been so warm - until today. Suddenly, fall is in the air and I see myself sitting at the sewing machine in the next couple days. I don't want to be responsible for that little fella getting cold!

5.Which of the following work idioms can you most relate to right now...'A woman's work is never done.', 'All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.' 'Many hands make light work.'

All of them apply at different times, but right now none does. Maybe, 'All play and no work makes Jack a jerk.' That might apply to me this summer.

6. Crab or lobster or thanks, but no thanks? Favorite way to have your choice prepared?

No thanks. Beef tenderloin, please, made just the way America's Test Kitchen made it. Mmmmm. I would be happy to be a taste tester for them. (That one and Lydia's Italy are the only cooking shows I like and I rarely even catch those.)

7. Albert Einstein is quoted as saying, 'Three rules of work: Out of clutter find simplicity; From discord find harmony; In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.' Which of the three do you consider to be the most important? Share one of your own 'rules of work'.

Maybe, 'From discord find harmony.' One of my own rules? Work comes first. Only after chores are done, is it time to have fun. It was a rule at home when I was growing up. I think it's a great idea. I can't even read a book if the house is a mess. I have to have order in order to think. I have to make sure the kitchen is clean before I go to bed at night.

8.  Insert your own random thoughts here.

Tuppence drinking from the dog water bowl
This would explain why her own water bowl is never empty.


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Monday, August 25, 2014

Late Summer and Birthday Parties

There's an odd sort of feeling that comes over some of us NW Wisconsinites as the calendar approaches September. We know that summer is nearly over, which means that fall is rapidly approaching, which means that winter will be breathing its frosty, annoying breath down our necks before long.

But late summer tends to be the hot, humid, sticky time of year. One late August it was so hot that my German Shepherd lost most of the hair on his tail - and he was an inside dog. If we had cattle, the flies would be everywhere during this kind of weather. I remember when I was a kid that my mom would constantly be hollaring  telling us to 'Shut the screen door!' so that the flies wouldn't get into the house. Even so, we had one of those fascinating fly tapes (which I loved) hanging in the kitchen during the worst of the fly invasion, which also coincided with canning time.  The good thing about late summer is that the zinneas, rudbeckia, and echinacea are committed to stick around until a hard frost. In fact, they are worth covering with old bedsheets those first few frosts just because they've given me so much cheer throughout the season. 

But the best thing about late summer is the little 4 year old grandson's birthday. He and his baby sister are such a delightful blessing and treasure. We enjoyed spending the weekend with them, and yes it is a lot better to have them only 2 hours away, instead of 9. We hauled one of our many slate boards to their house so that Daddy and Grandpa could install it on the bedroom wall for this little guy. I've never bought into the chalk paint = chalk board idea. I'm old school when it comes to chalk boards, probably because these slate boards came out of old schools. Several old schools.

The beautiful, smiling baby you see pictured above is always happy. Oddly enough, she only cries when there's a good reason, such as being hungry or teething or needing a diaper change. I never had children that were that easy, so she continually amazes me by her cheerfulness. And because I'm their grandma, I never tire of looking at those sweet faces and listening to the funny things the 4 year old says.


 Sunny, cheerful disposition, generous,
Eager to please, friendly,
Loves a party

Why do my rudbeckia spread everywhere and my echinacea don't spread at all?? I'm going to have to plant more of them, I guess, but I don't understand why they need coaxing when the rudbeckia are so prolific. I suddenly realized that I'm starting to assign personality traits to these flowers. I think the canning of the green beans might be getting to me.

 Beautiful, but stingy and snooty
Introverted, aloof,
Doesn't play well with others,
Hates crowds.
Will most likely remain single.

I hope y'all had a great weekend. I'm hoping to get to your blogs now and find out!


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Saturday, August 23, 2014


Oliver, about 25 minutes after birth

I remember some months ago when I was first told that our son and daughter-in-law were going to name their baby Oliver. My first thought was, 'Oliver. Oh. Liver.'  Really? It's certainly not a name that would have been top on my list. Who names their kid Oliver?

But then Kevin and I walked into the hospital room Thursday evening and I saw that sweet, darling little boy snuggled up against his mama. No kidding, he melted my heart!

Then I saw his face, now I'm a believer
Not a trace of doubt in my mind.
I'm in love, I'm a believer!
I couldn't leave him if I tried.

I said, 'He's so CUTE!'  

to which our son responded, 'Don't sound so surprised.' LOL 

Anyway, here's a photo of the little family. I'm going to schedule this to go up in the morning, get the coffee ready, and go to bed. We're going to leave tomorrow morning to go spend a couple days with another grandson (and his little sister and parents) to celebrate his 4th birthday.

P.S.  It's just the strangest thing, 
but Oliver has suddenly become one of my favorite names!

Thank you, Lord, for blessing this family with a healthy baby boy!

Have a great weekend!

P.P.S. I phoned the University of Wisconsin, Madison and talked to a bird expert about the mysterious sound (Update on my eagle post). 


Thursday, August 21, 2014

Good Fences and an Early Anglophile Friday

Behind Richmond Castle

Some of you have already seen this photo of the River Swale behind Richmond Castle, North Yorkshire. I figured that a second look couldn't hurt, right? Besides, it's one of my favorite views.

Another favorite Richmond photo


Our youngest son's wife is in labor with their first child right now, which is quite exciting. She's been in the hospital for 38 hours now. I'm expecting to meet that little boy child later today! Daddy has been sending me text updates.

Other, not so exciting news: I've been in the midst of canning green beans and freezing peaches. I plan to get a lug of peaches today at the local farmers' market and can them, if I can find some that can wait a few days before they need canning. I was hoping to can without any sweetener, but read that the sugar helps retain the texture, shape, and color of the peaches. Maybe I can use an extremely light sugar syrup. The home-canned peaches, SO much better than disgusting store-bought canned peaches, remind me of days past, when my mom canned peaches in the late summer. She would serve them as a dessert at Sunday dinner, always one peach half on a leaf of lettuce, topped with cottage cheese. I didn't eat the cottage cheese, but it probably was not a bad idea to offset the sugar in the peaches with the protein in the cottage cheese.

This weekend we'll be gone to a little grandson's birthday party. Friends will stay in our house and take care of the house and animals. It is wonderful to have someone we can trust to step in and take care of things while we're gone. I'm hoping to enlist them next spring for a longer trip, still in the hopeful planning stage.

Little Birthday Boy
4 years old next week


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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Eagle Has Landed - Again (Update on Sound)

Nearly-Resident Eagle

NOTE:  Here's an update, posted on August 22 for those of you who haven't been able to sleep, due to obsessing over bird sound identification. Okay, fine. But it did bother me of course. I finally phoned the University of Wisconsin and talked to a bird expert there. After giving her my rendition of the bird sound and answering a bunch of other questions, she said that there will be variations within species sometimes, due to other circumstances. She cited a bluejay in her own yard that has a somewhat different sound from all the others. So, we're going with this answer: It was, indeed, the eagle making that sound. He was merely softly contemplating his domain and pleased with his position of dominance. There you have it. No more sleepless nights. :-)


This photo was actually taken last fall, but either this fella or a close friend of his was in the top of our tall pine tree just on the other side of the driveway again yesterday.  I hadn't noticed him right away, only because I tend not to walk with my head tipped way back to view the top of the tree. But I had Misty outdoors for her 'duty' and kept hearing a strange call. I'm going to try to write it here, and I don't know if it was the eagle or not. Whoever it was made the call over and over and over, with a few seconds between. I looked up 'eagle sounds' on the internet and listened to lots of them, including the one I remembered from the eagle being here last fall and others (or the same one or two) who visited in times before that.

Here's the sound I heard yesterday (and it seemed to be coming from his direction). The first syllable, written below, was kind of staccato, followed by a sort of whistle that started high and then descended in pitch.

CHK...PEEeeeeeeeeeeww.  (The lower-case letters are to denote a descending whistle.)

Got that?  I'm not a bird linguist, so I maybe not be writing that totally accurately, but I think it's pretty close. There were no glottal stops or anything that should make it difficult to write out.

So my wild bird-loving friends, do you have any idea if that's the contented sound an eagle makes or if it was from a hostile squirrel nearby.  Or was it an annoyed cardinal? Whatever it was, I need to know. I'm turning to y'all because I've already spent too much time online listening to bird sounds, and I need to can the green beans.


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Red line points down to the eagle.
Can you see him?


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