Miscellaneous Stuff & Retired?

IMG_0375Cactus

I think Mr. Spiny the cactus is about to bloom! The cactus has been doing really well out there tucked up against the side of the house but it hasn’t blossomed in two years. It is currently loaded with new pads, but I noticed some of the new buds looked different, and may be flowers, not pads. I really hope so. The flowers on this plant are absolutely spectacular.

Whitefish Dunes State Park has become one of my favorite places. It has about 880 acres of shoreline along Lake Michigan up in Door County, and it’s well worth the price of admission. I’m not sure what the cost is because I get a yearly pass as part of my conservation patron license, but I think it’s about $8 for a day pass.

It’s hard to pick out a single photo from the park that is representative of how beautiful it is, but perhaps this one will do:

IMG_0343.jpg

People seem to think Wisconsin is a rather dull place, with flat land, corn, cows and football. But we have more than 14,000 lakes, plus Lake Michigan. We have cliffs, rivers, forests, water falls… Well, you get the idea.

Alas, I’m not sure how long the state park system is going to continue to exist, though. The current administration down in Madison has cut off all state funding for the park system. It’s only funding now is what it can generate from entrance and camping fees.

Lichen

I continue to be fascinated with lichen for some reason. If I’d ever actually gone to the botany class I signed up for in college I might actually know something about it. But I find the colors, the forms, and everything about it fascinating, and if you’d look through my photo library you’d find a lot of images of lichen and mosses. Most people find the photos rather dull, without the splashy colors of my flower photos, but I think lichen has it’s own unique beauty. Like this, for example

IMG_0362.jpg

The subtle shadings of greens and yellows and browns, the amazing shapes. Like I said, I’m fascinated with it.

Storms

We’ve been getting a lot of them of late. We’ve had severe thunderstorms roll through here two or three days in a row now, and we’re getting a bit tired of it. Here at the house we’ve avoided the worst of it, but there have been trees taken down, power outages, minor flooding and building damage all over the area with every one of these. It’s kept the SkyWarn people busy, as well as the utility crews trying to keep up with the damage.

I was really glad we had the backup generator yesterday. Power was out for about 45 minutes and if I hadn’t been able to use the generator we’d have ended up with about a foot of water in the basement because of the heavy rains. We got over an inch and a half of rain in about half an hour here. The sump pump was kicking in every 2-3 minutes all the while.

We actually have 2 generators. One is a little 2KW Yamaha inverter that was originally intended just to run the radio equipment for field day or in emergencies for ARES operations. The other is a big Generac 9KW that was intended to power most of the house. The intention originally was to put a big connector on the outside of the house going to the Generac and using it to run the whole house. As long as we don’t use the ovens, turn on every light in the house, etc., it would have enough capacity to keep everything going. But we never got around to installing the bypass switches and connectors necessary. And when we do have a power failure, the little Yamaha can keep the sump pumps going as well as the radios and a few lights. It’s also much, much easier to move around and get started. It also uses a hell of a lot less gas and is much, much quieter.

IMG_0377Roses! The first roses of the season have popped open at last. I’m not a huge rose fan. I like them, but generally I find them a bit fussy and fiddly to deal with. The one we have in the front of the house takes care of itself pretty much. It just keeps coming back year after year, surviving drought, wet, cold, heat…

That’s my kind of plant – just stick it in the ground and ignore it and it takes care of itself.

Oh, and while I’m on the subject of plants, we found this incredible tree up in Door County as well when we were up there on Monday. Neither of us had ever seen anything quite like it before. Covered with these beautiful red, white and yellow flowers.. Absolutely breathtaking. I don’t know what it is. Have been too busy (i.e. lazy) to actually do research to look it up.

IMG_0372

Retired

I turned in my resignation at work last week and I am still trying to wrap my head around the fact that I am unemployed. Willingly unemployed. It doesn’t seem right somehow.

Well, it isn’t like I was putting in a lot of hours at the job anyway, to be honest. The position I’ve been in for the last two years or so was part time, and more or less on an “as needed” basis. I worked for events at the theater, filled in when one of the day guys was out sick, or there was a situation that required extra help, that kind of thing. A lot of weeks I didn’t work at all and it was rare for me to put in more than 20 – 30 hours a month.

Still, not having a job? It feels — strange. Feels, oh, not right somehow.

 

Gardens, Flowers and Mr. Spiny

I never thought I’d have a cactus growing outside in my garden here in Wisconsin, but this is the third year we’ve had Mr. Spiny and he really seems to like it here.

IMG_0302.jpg

When we pulled this guy out of the compost heap and brought him home I never thought he’d survive more than a single summer. Instead it’s been thriving back there against the wall of the house. When we got him, he wasn’t in real good shape to begin with, but he showed his appreciation for being rescued by putting out brilliant yellow flowers, then embarked on more than doubling his size by shooting out new pads. Then last year he put out more new pads, and this year I counted 40 new pads sprouting off him.

I admit I know nothing about cactus, so him surviving and thriving is due more to him and dumb luck, but I’m pleased. Since we got him, I’ve found the same type of cactus out in Wyoming (found the hard way, I knelt on one. OMG did that hurt!). So if they can survive Wyoming winters, it makes sense that they could survive here.

IMG_0303.jpg

These guys put on a brilliant show in early summer, but to be honest I don’t really like this plant all that much. The long, pointed leaves flatten down to the ground and look shaggy and unkempt and kind of ratty. But when they flower they do look pretty for a while.

IMG_0304.jpg

These — I love the flowers, but they’re annoying. The flower stalks are spindly and very tall and tend to fall over. And they’re rather aggressive, getting into everything. Still, they’re really cheerful looking

 

IMG_0305.jpg

I’m eagerly awaiting the lilies. They’re loaded with buds this year. Ours are coming a bit late. Some of the neighbors’ are in full flower already, but they’ll be here soon enough.

IMG_0306.jpg

This guy, he popped up out of nowhere, a “volunteer”, as they call them, I guess. We didn’t plant him. It’s always fun when surprises like this pop up in the garden. Well, sometimes. Sometimes there is stuff you don’t want, like creeping jenny and ragweed, etc. But when something this pretty pops up? It’s delightful. Our maple tree in the back yard was a volunteer, springing up from seed in one of the vegetable beds one year, so we let it grow there for a couple of years, then moved it to a more hospitable area before finally putting it in its permanent location. It’s about 8 inches thick now and 20 feet tall.