August 15, 2015 – Gus Sent Me

Had a chance to see the bro’s band this weekend.

They played at the “Pallet Party” in North Oslo MN.

The paryt has evolved over the years – from a bunch of marines getting together once a year, to a two day blowout with live music, lots of food, beverages, fires, and more.

The band with namesake Gus – a black bulldog.

Gus enjoying the limelight. The band was named following a wedding reception where the bride and groom could only afford a short list of open bar patrons, so the close friends and family who went to the bar and said “Gus sent me” got free drinks.

Brother Kraig on lead vocals.

Sister Julie checking out the dairy bulk cooler with assorted beverage.  Was good to see the siblings and get an earful of Gus Sent Me!

August 8, 2015 – Canoe Beauty!

A few years ago I “accidentally” found a wood strip canoe for sale on Craigslist. I was actually trying to sell a canoe, not buy one.

But I found homemade this strip canoe that had been sitting in a shed for over 20 years, protected from weather and UV light. It was love at first sight.

After a bit of rigamarole to get it licensed (many thanks to the mother of the owner for handling all the paperwork), we finally got it out on the water.

It is a work of art – here is some of the detail inside the canoe. I think it would look great on a lake near a cabin someday!

August 1, 2015 – Goldfinch “Feeder”

A sunflower popped up inches from the kitchen window.

Mr. Goldfinch pulls seeds out of the sunflower and places them on the “table.”

And then proceeds to get the meat out of the nuts. A great addition to doing the dishes!

July 21, 2015 – Prairie Strips

Last year, we replaced a few tired rows of raspberries with strips of native prairie.

The general rule of thumb is that the new prairie plantings look pretty weedy and not very good looking the first few years.

purple coneflower

But true to form, there are signs of prairie plants peeking through the weeds – like this purple coneflower.


And these coreopsis.


and some silky prairie clover.


and a bit of mountain mint. Later in the season, it will be interesting to see how the late-season grasses appear.

July 19, 2015 – Hey, Hay

Very few things beat the scent of a freshly-cut hayfield.

The neighbor took a cutting off the back pasture as we don’t have enough animals to keep it mowed down this summer. It is rather novel to be able to walk anywhere in the pasture again.

July 15, 2015 – Squirrel Mischief

We’ve had a mysterious clothesline change of location. After returning home from vacation, a line that goes from the tree to the clothesline pole was snapped, and the end of the line was about 15 feet up on the opposite side of the tree. Couldn’t quite figure out how it got there – if it snapped, it couldn’t weave its way through the branches up the opposite side of the tree. I tied it back and a few days later saw a squirrel chewing on the rope.

Again, it happened – the line usually goes between the pole and tree.

The line up in the tree, presumably dragged up by the squirrel – for fun or nesting material?

July 10, 2015 – BWCA Excursion – On the Trail and in the Woods

There’s a lot of interesting flora in the wilderness.

lady slipper

Here’s a showy lady slipper, the Minnesota state flower (within a few paces of Emma’s tent to boot).

pin cushion moss

This soft little orb is known as pincushion moss.


One of the most spectacular plants we encountered was this colony of Sundew growing on a log in Cherokee Creek.


This is a carnivorous plant. The end of the red hairs on this plant look like little drops of inviting dew. Surprise, if you are an insect looking for a dew drop or bit of nectar. It is sticky and “eats” the insects in the highly acidic, nutrient-deficient bog.

pitcher plant

Another carnivorous plant of the floating bog – the pitcher plant. Named for the inviting entrance that attracts insects and small children (OK, maybe not small children).

The insects slide down, the hairs inside the pitcher facing down, where a reservoir of liquid drowns them since they cannot crawl back out.

woman portaging canoe

Once more sporting the Meadville-Lombard swag, Linda portages the canoe between two lakes.

boy portaging canoe

Martin get in on the action as well. The biggest portaging day was 4 portages totaling about 432 rods, or about 1.25 miles. Yes, that means carrying the canoes, all the food, tents, and equipment for over a mile – over rocks, through mud, up and down hill.

Here we are hiding out in a grove of cedar trees on Sawbill Lake while we waited an hour or so for the lightning to stop. We had originally planned on staying the last night on Sawbill, but the rain, and unsettled weather led us to get out at about 4:00 in the afternoon and power-driving home to avoid the big storms.

We raced the storms out of the BWCA, then also raced the storms in the car from Duluth to Minneapolis.

Finally, the aftermath – getting everything unpacked and dried out before putting it away.

July 10, 2015 – BWCA Excursion – At Camp

This post collects photos from around the campsites.

Emma enjoying the night after arriving at Cherokee Lake.

Mom making pancakes stylin’ her Meadville-Lombard swag (sunglasses).

Plenty of time for hanging out in the hammock gazing at the wilderness.

frost lake

Incredible beach at Frost Lake. Decidedly not frosty on this uncharacteristically hot day. The sand on this beach is a stark contrast to the surrounding rock. Amazingly, you could walk out probably 200 yards or more before it reached four feet deep.

frost lake, frost lake sand beach

The beach with the A+ campsite on the rocky point at the end of the beach. Imagine having this beach all to yourself all day!

Hanging out waiting for dinner.

Martin on KP duty.

The nightly ritual of hanging the food back out of the reach of (most) bears.

young woman around fire

Finally, at the end of the day, some time around the fire.


July 9, 2015 – BWCA Excursion – On the Lake

Rather than a day-by-day account of the trip, I thought I’d break it up into themes. First up is “on the lake.”

cherokee creek

The intriguing Cherokee Creek – it narrowed and became more boggy as you approached the portage. Lots of great bog plants along the way.

Sometimes there’s paddling out in the open lake.

Other times it’s more of a river.

Or a narrower river.

cherokee creek

And even places just wide enough for a canoe to pass. (But no matter how narrow, beats carrying the canoe around.)

woman paddling canoe

Another hearty stern paddler.

cherokee lake

Looking south from a campsite perch on the northern edge of Cherokee Lake.

cherokee lake

Looking south from a campsite perch on the southern edge of Cherokee Lake.

June 30, 2015 – Martin/14

Martin turned 14 on June 30. The neighbors down the road, drove over in the specially decorated Birthday mobile.

In addition, Martin also had an afternoon at Climb Iowa where he had fun with the climbing walls and bouldering. Happy Birthday Martin!