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.

Friday, July 21, 2017

My Trailer - Redo Days 16-19 - Stripping and Swatching

COM... ing with me? The letters aren't as hard to strip as I thought they would be. The stripes are much harder than I thought.

stripped paint

Stripping the paint on my COM... panion is going to take pretty much as long as I thought. I just hope I'll be able to get it painted this summer. I sure wanted to get a lot more done than that. Again, I've outlined the completed parts in yellow. The part just above the wheel isn't done well enough, but I got rained out tonight. If you are reading this in search of info about trailer refurbishing, at this point, I've not quite used a quart of Citristrip.

stripped paint

Did you catch that: COM... pleted? Being able to really say that is drifting off into the future.

I had hoped the paint would come off like it is on the door. Here's a mystery. Same trailer, same container of stripper (yes, shaken before each use), same thickness of application. But on the door, the stripper bubbles up, and when I scrape the old paint just wipes right off. Now that would have been nice for all of it!

stripped paint

The COM... plicated part is the stripes. They are some sort of tape. And I guess this answers the question about whether they were original. Not. The paint is under them. They are hard to get off. First I tried sanding. It worked, but was slow and was pitting the gel coat because I had to press so hard. Next I tried acetone. That gummed up the adhesive and it did work, but I had to use a lot. That's when I realized there was paint under the tape. So I slathered on an extra helping of stripper, let it sit, and the tape peeled off easily- mostly dissolved. Then I had to strip the paint under it.

stripped paint

I'll do the final stripping close to window edges and hinges, etc when I take those pieces off. Since I am working outside, I don't want to take all those out/off until I'm ready to deal with the openings. I may have to buy a big tarp.

COM... fortable? Not yet. The inside is still a mess of wood pieces, cardboard, tools and stuff. But the vinyl for the floor is ordered, and I've chosen the fabric for the shelving curtains. Had to spend a lot on swatches to get the right one, but I guess it was worth it. Certainly better than driving hours and visiting multiple fabric stores only to learn they don't have enough yardage left, right? I'll be ordering that this weekend. The one I chose has the yellow arrow.

fabric swatches

And, I'm contemplating a fix for the sprung door bottom. Don't have it all figured out yet, but I have an idea that might not be a COM... pletely horrible job. Also, one that I have tools for. I've seen one (and only one) fix for this problem, but it requires a metal shop and skills I don't have.

Oh! And I have the fix for the "strike plate" (It isn't really that, but I'm not sure what to call it on this type of latch) figured out, and it's COM... paratively easy! I might have to find a friend with a larger vise than I have to bend some metal, but this is within my metalworking skills.

When I do finally get this on the road, I hope some of you are looking for some passive/aggressive COM... raderie, because I just might come mooch an electric outlet off you for a visit. I say passive/agressive, because I'm more of a hermit, you know!

See Redo Days 14 &15
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Thursday, July 20, 2017

A Journey of 3000 Blog Posts

Yup, this is my 3000th blog post (on this blog). I'd previously been posting on Xanga, a sort of pre-blog platform, with some friends for several years, and then did a short-lived blog called "Niblets from the Shark" that was more personal. Then I had the brainstorm to take the "Quality Day" exercise and make it into a blog that other people might enjoy (If you don't know what this is about read What is My Quality Day?). This was in October of 2008. Nearly 10 years ago. Blogging was in it's heyday at that point, and I signed up with Entrecard, CMF, and later Adgetize. I started more blogs than I could possibly keep alive. I tried to make money. OK, I made a little. More on that later. I have met a lot of good friends from around the world through this blog. A significant number of us are still friends on Facebook, and a few have made the transition to real life friends.

Are you ready for too many pictures and a bit of philosophy?

Joan H. Young

An awful lot has happened in 10 years. We had a dog, Maggie, and a cat,V-8, then. Now I have no pets. I never thought I'd live without a dog, but I want to travel, and society has little tolerance for people leaving dogs in vehicles any more. Even if the conditions are fine.

Maggie the Vizsla
When I began this blog adventure, I was completely self-employed. I had several accounts designing and maintaining web sites. All but one of those is now gone. People figured out you could make web sites on blog platforms for next to nothing and slowly, my customers faded away. I did a long stint of content writing. I wrote on a LOT of different sites. Mostly, I didn't enjoy it. The one exception to that was a site called Shared Reviews, where I was making the most money. I put too many eggs in that basket, and when it went belly-up, that hurt. But I still have a lot of Facebook friends from that adventure too.

I started writing cozy mysteries. Now I am working on the fifth one! People seem to like my writing, and spending more time doing that is one of my future goals. I want to keep writing mysteries, finish the sequel to North Country Cache, write a technothriller, and some non-fiction.

Dead Mule Swamp mysteries

Somewhere in there, I realized the content writing was making me nuts and not bringing in enough money. When the blog advertising networks folded- and that pitiful income went away, I couldn't make myself write enough pieces about things I didn't care about, and with so much dictated spin that it seemed dishonest. Yeah, I got a job in December 2010. That was the one where I took pictures for insurance companies. I really loved that job for about 5 years. I got to drive all over and see back roads and interesting places. Like this...

trees with red fruit

and this (Hawkins Road)...

Hawkins road view

But then, things changed, and the flexibility really went away. I quit that job in July 2016. Overlapping with that is the job in the mailroom at the Ludington Daily News. I started that in December of 2012, and I'm still there. It will never pay much, but I like the people I work with and it's quite physical, which I find satisfying. (This picture is NOT what the machine is supposed to do!)

mail room machine jam

My hope is that within a year I can quit and concentrate on writing. Fixing up the little trailer as a portable office is part of that dream. (picture from the week I brought the trailer home- December 2013)

mail room machine jam

You've followed me as I completed a major goal, to hike all the miles of the North Country National Scenic Trail (the first woman to do so).

North Country Trail E2E patch

I'm still in love with hiking and the North Country Trail. Lots of foot travel in my future for as long as I can walk.

My health is good. You've heard about almost all the issues- a new partial plate (not nearly as good as the one it replaced, I'm sorry to tell you.) was made in 2009.

funny teeth fitting

I did get lymphangitis from a cat bite, and have also spent 3 years recuperating from a bacterial gut infection they never did identify, but I'm pretty much over the after-effects of the hefty antibiotics they gave me. Probably the only thing I haven't shared is that my left shoulder started coming out of joint after I fell on it in 2013. So now, both shoulders are shot. That has pretty much put the kibosh on my dream to do a long swim unless I get them repaired, which isn't likely.

Other than that, I'm good to go!

We've weathered a crisis I haven't put on the blog at all, but I'm still here. (You didn't think that just because I choose to focus on quality items that my life is all roses and sunshine, did you?) Om and I will have spent 49 years together in another month. (I know... it's kind of a miracle!)

funny wedding picture

I still can't decide what to be when I grow up. But I'll try some adulting as an author for the next round.

I have no idea how many miles I've hiked since 2008, but it's in the thousands. And I've learned hundreds of new plants. Thank goodness the number of uncompleted craft projects isn't quite that high.

I've been through 5 cameras; 3 computers; 3 phones; 2 cars; gallons of yogurt, iced tea and soup; and one God. One. Yup, I'm one of those people. Praise the Lord, All Glory to Jesus. God is Good.

Hope a bunch of you will come along with me to see what happens next!

See Joan of Shark writing blog
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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Red, White and Blue- Benzie County Style

Anywhere in west Michigan from about halfway up the state north is fruit country. Cherry harvesting is in full swing. These trees are loaded! I know apple pie is supposed to be the most American, but in July, I think cherry wins.

cherry trees

Just look at those cherries!

cherry trees

Tomorrow is a big blog day. Stay tuned. BP -1 and counting.

See Cherry Pie II
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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Seed Pods of Interest

I told you I went nuts taking pictures of plant parts. A lot of them don't have very good focus, but hopefully, I'll see those plants again. The camera often doesn't seem to want to take a picture of the thing I think is interesting.

All of these are Benzie County, Michigan.

Let's start with a tree. These are the seed pods of Ironwood or Hop-Hornbeam. This is another common name problem, since there are several trees called ironwood. This is Ostrya virginiana. It's a small tree related to birch. This one was growing right out of a sand dune!

hop-hornbeam seed pods

I finally definitively identified these. It's a bellwort, but it looks like it should be Perfoliate Bellwort with the stems growing through the leaves like that. But, aha! Large-flowered bellwort does that too, it's just that most of the books don't really say that. But the one named "Perfoliate" doesn't grow in Michigan. If I'm farther east, I'll need to brush up on the flower differences. Also, the plant is really droopy when it blooms with dangly yellow flowers. Took me a long time to realize it was the same plant.

large-flowered bellwort seed pods

Here's a fun one where the common name makes some sense. And the seeds are much more interesting than the flowers. It's called Lopseed, Phryma leptostachya. See how the seeds are lopped over, along the stem?

lopseed seed pods
I've showed you a lot of different trilliums. This is the common white one, Trillium grandiflorum, gone to seed.

white trillium seed pods

Jack-in-the-Pulpit is another popular northwoods wildflower. Here's the seed pods emerging from the sheath. The seeds will turn bright red.

Jack-in-the-pulpit seed pods

Finally, I just like these. It's Sweet Cicely, almost certainly Osmorhiza claytonii (instead of O. longistylis) because it was in a woods, not a wetland (but the differences are technical). It's one of the plants that is susceptible to powdery mildew. As a result, the seedpods get covered with a whitish bloom, and they sort of look like fireworks going off in the woods. It's really hard to get a picture of that. However, this comes close. It always makes me smile.

Sweet Cicely seed pods

I had a tired day today. That hasn't happened in a while, but I gave myself a free pass. As much as I enjoyed the weekend, it was non-stop. Tomorrow after work, though, I have THINGS TO GET DONE.

(BP -2 and counting)

See Almost Doubling My Trillium Life List
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Monday, July 17, 2017

Arcadia Dunes- 3 More Trails and a Freebie

My goal for the day was to hike the rest of the trails at Arcadia Dunes. That was three more loops for a total of about 8.5 miles.

As I was driving back to the area from my campsite, I realized that the ridge ahead of me is the glacial moraine on which the Dry Hill and Camp Arcadia loops are perched. You can see what a long ridge of a hill it is.

Arcadia Dunes Dry Hill ridge

First I went back to the same trailhead as yesterday on St. Pierre Road. But this time I took the Camp Arcadia Loop to the southwest. This is a much flatter loop, about 3.5 miles. Still almost all wooded and makes a nice easy hike for those who aren't interested in ten hilly miles on the trail I did yesterday. It gets its name from the volunteers who helped build it from the Lutheran Camp Arcadia.

Camp Arcadia trail

The wildflower that was blooming everywhere was wild onion. Here's my best shot.

wild onion

Finished that trail by 10:30. Had a snack and drove the few miles to the Old Baldy trailhead. Keep in mind that just about every large open dune on the west coast of Michigan is named Old Baldy. This is the one at Arcadia Dunes in the C.S. Mott Nature Preserve.

This trail has two nested loops, and by doing a zig-zag pattern I hiked all but 0.1 mile in this system. I expected this to be a lot of open meadow, sand in the sun, and generally hot and not as nice except for the lake. Wrong. It's almost all forested except for the final approach to the dune.

The preserve is trying to keep people restricted to certain paths to protect the dune.

Arcadia Dunes Old Baldy trail

The view at the end is pure Michigan. I took a lot of pictures, but chose this one to show you. It really should have a series, because you can't tell from this picture that there is a very steep 380-foot drop to the surface of the lake. Climbing down and up is not recommended. I took one picture of a small boat and people down on the beach. They look like toys.

Arcadia Dunes Lake Michigan view

And, I got to fulfill one of my lifetime plant quests. I saw the federally endangered Pitcher's Thistle in bloom. It only grows on the shores of the Great Lakes.

Pitcher's Thistle

The biggest downside of this trail was that it had quite a lot of poison ivy. But I washed my legs when I got back to the car. About 4 miles for this trail. I should mention that one section is a nice accessible trail out to an overlook at the lake that was in good condition, and not all in blazing sun like many accessible trails are. Bicycling is not recommended on the Old Baldy loop because the soil is sandy and fragile.

Back to the car and ate some lunch. About 12:30.

Next part of the quest was to find Pete's Woods Trail, which was on the east side of the preserve. I had my doubts because I know the road the trailhead was supposed to be on. Seasonal, and definitely on the low end of that spectrum. Well, the trail was a nice 1.5 miles up and around the top of a hill and then back down. Interesting changes in topography without being too strenuous, and the spring wildflowers are supposed to be excellent. It was definitely different from the others.

But the biggest challenge was indeed the road. Puddles clear across the road (not my favorite because you can't tell how deep they are) and 8-inch deep loose sand ruts. My Subaru had no issues, but I think not every car would like that trip.

It wasn't a place where pictures can really show the trail features. This shot maybe captures some of the rolling topography. Pete was the farmer who owned this land until the 1970s.

Pete's Woods Trail

So, my "official" quest was done. But I knew there was a tiny nature loop I'd never seen that was only a couple of miles out of my way. Since this is still more than an hour from home, I decided I was up for just a little bit more walking so I could see it.

This loop is called Misty Acres, in the Borwell Nature Preserve (incidentally also managed by the Grand Traverse Nature Conservancy- the same as all the Arcadia Dunes trails). The loop is indeed tiny, under a mile, but it was a very nice walk. This is a fairly new preserve, and they are still inventorying the plants and features. There may be more public access in the future.

My pictures are crappy with too much dappled sun, but half of the loop is along a steep ravine with a creek at the bottom that flows into the Betsie River. At the north end of the loop you can get glimpses of the river through the trees.

Best picture there is some bright little mushrooms. Total miles for the day, about 9.5.

orange mushrooms

Home, car unloaded, clean, ate a big salad. A great weekend, but I think I'm going to bed early to try to rest up a bit to face work tomorrow!

C.S. Mott Nature Preserve, Arcadia Dunes, Old Baldy Trail, Camp Arcadia Trail, Pete's Woods Trail, Borwell Nature Preserve, Misty Acres Nature Trail

(BP -3 and counting)

See Arcadia Dunes- Dry Hill Trail
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Sunday, July 16, 2017

Arcadia Dunes- Dry Hill Trail

I'm off having an adventure at Arcadia Dunes, also known as the Mott Nature Preserve. Today I hiked the longest trail, called Dry Hill. About 10 miles. It gets its name because it's a glacial moraine and is so high above the water table that early settlers could not dig shallow wells and find water.

Arcadia Dunes Dry Hill Trail

With that information, I expected a xeric forest like most of the Manistee where I hike. Not so! The woods was exceedingly rich with wildflowers and I went nuts taking pictures. Maybe you'll see some of them this coming week, although a lot are of leaves and seed pods and other mundane things. A few might be blog-worthy. Tonight I'll just hit the highlights.

Almost immediately, I spotted the rare Crested Wood Crane striding through an opening.(wink)

stick that lookes like a bird

I thought this fungus might be unusual because of the way it seems to flow up the tree. There were several like this. Later, I decided it's just an Artist's Conk that is growing funny. I'll have to look in the books when I get home. But, as you know, identifying mushrooms may not be that simple.

white fungus

This is really interesting, although common. I'm fascinated with slime molds. They are a category of organisms that aren't like anything else. Can't believe I've never put a picture of this on the blog before. This is the absolutely most often seen one, called scrambled egg slime. And this was a beauty.

scrambled egg slime

After I finished my hike for the day I had to drive to a campground, because you can't camp in the nature preserve. On the way I stopped at tiny Glover's Lake just because it's pretty. This is my favorite shot. The pink is water smartweed in bloom.

Glover's Lake

Finally, this is such a trite picture, but I can't resist. I was setting up my tent, and lay down on the ground cloth to check how the "lie" was. When I looked up, this was my view. Pretty darn nice. Life is good.

sky through trees

More of the same tomorrow!

C.S. Mott Nature Preserve, Arcadia Dunes, Benzie County, MI, Dry Hill Trail

(BP -4 and counting)

See Arcadia Bluffs
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Saturday, July 15, 2017

Jordan Valley 45- Chapter Campfire

Here's where I've ended up for the night. Near Petoskey, at a potluck dinner and campfire with the Jordan Valley 45 Chapter of the North Country Trail Association.


I didn't get here in time for the hike, but people certainly looked happy coming in from the trail


Friends, old and new. Always things to talk about with trail folk.

people visiting

More good food than seemed possible.

potluck food

Have to take the group picture. And yes, the barn is actually along a "connector" piece of the North Country Trail (a roadwalk).

group of people

After dinner, the campfire was lit.


And we sang a bit- practicing the North Country Trail song before the conference at the end of the month.

campfire singing

Tired- but oh! so good! A bunch of the "girls" are camping out in the barn for the night.

(BP -5 and counting)

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