Bikes & the Ever Popular Stuff!

IMG_0398Even before I retired I knew I needed to seriously ramp up my level of exercise or I was going to end up looking like a blimp in very short order. At first I was just walking around town twice a day, but that got old pretty fast. So Sunday I went and got myself a bicycle and much to my family’s surprise, I actually enjoy it enormously and I’ve been doing about 10 – 15 miles a day.

We’re fortunate enough to live in a fairly rural area with a lot of paved back roads that have very little traffic. I’ve found it’s a great way to just get out and enjoy nature because some of the roads run through undeveloped land around here. I’m not exactly a power rider because I’m having too much fun stopping and looking at birds, trees, turtles, streams, taking pictures… You get the idea. Great fun

I end up in places like, well, this:

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Or this:

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Or this:

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What surprised me most about all of this was the smells. I can smell cedar, spruce, flowers… Along the trail I kept smelling an almost intoxicating floral scent that turned out to be this bush:

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The air was thick with the scent. It was amazing.

But then there’s stuff like this…

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Yes, more rain. We got 2 1/2 inches overnight according to the rain gauge in the backyard, and except for an hour or two this afternoon we’ve been getting light rain most of the day.

There are bright spots, though. Like these guys.

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Another of the lilies is starting to bloom. The color on these guys is spectacular.

 

 

Lilies, Peppers, Water and Stuff

One of the lilies is finally coming into flower and it’s been worth the wait. I love these things and grin like an idiot whenever I walk past this plant.

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For some reason MrsGf went pepper crazy this year and we’ve ended up with something like 30 pepper plants of various types out in the gardens. One of the raised beds is full of them, and then they’re tucked away in odd corners all over the flower beds as well. They’re all starting to blossom now.

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This particular one is supposed to be a small, round, hot pepper called a cherry bomb if I remember right, although it’s hard to keep track of what’s actually planted where. There are at least 4 or 5 different types out there. Both of us really love peppers, especially fresh from the garden, but there’s no way we’re going to be able to use all of these this year. I think it’s a hint that the family wants me to make and can a big batch of pickled peppers this year. The pickled peppers were an experiment last year and turned out so good we’re down to one or two pints left. I certainly don’t mind, but damn, that’s a lot of pepper plants…

Now that I’m not working I’m going to blow up like a balloon if I don’t exercise, and walking around town day after day is pretty darn boring so I went and got myself a bicycle. Biked about five miles down to the old stone bridge outside of town.IMG_0391.jpgIMG_0393.jpgIMG_0389.jpg

the bridge goes over a shallow, slow little river that dries up into a mud hole by mid-summer usually. I never really paid much attention to it before because usually I’m going over the bridge in a car. I realized it’s really kind of pretty down there, especially with the sky reflecting off the water.

Four thirty in the morning? Really? Ick… Why do I keep getting up this early? I have turned into one of those most obnoxious of people, a “morning person”. As soon as the sky begins to turn light in the pre-dawn, my idiotic brain has decided I need to be up.¬†Right now. I suppose there’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s annoying because I don’t want to be up at bloody 4:30 or 5 in the morning.

The cats are delighted by this, of course. Being the utterly annoying little goofballs they are, they’re generally all sitting outside of the bedroom door by 4:30 anyway because they want their breakfast. So I’m out here, bleary eyed, still half in the dark, trying to make coffee and tripping over cats, stumbling over cats, having cats butting against my legs (it’s not a sign of affection, they’re trying to trip you, you know) and having cats yelling at me. And trying to keep things quiet so MrsGF can get an extra half hour of sleep or so.

If they’re especially bored or hungry, they will drag their food bowl all the way across the room and put it directly in front of the bedroom door so I trip over it when I come stumbling out. One of them has developed the habit of going through the house, finding every cat toy she can, and depositing it in the empty food dish. Apparently she’s under the impression that if she makes some kind of offering¬†the cat food gods will refill her bowl?

Come to think of it, it works, doesn’t it? She puts her toys in the empty food dish and like magic I show up and refill it.

Photos

How about a hosta flower?

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This is the last surviving iris. These are some of the most amazing flowers.

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The roses are finally coming into full bloom.

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Took the one below yesterday morning just as the sun was hitting it. Didn’t notice the fly tucked away in there until just now.

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This last one is, I think, a real gem of a photo. The lighting could have been better and I suppose I could tweak that with Photoshop, but the raw image is still pretty neat I think.

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Hostas and What is it?

One of the hostas up in the hosta garden is blossoming for the first time and I was surprised by how pretty the flowers are. I generally don’t pay much attention to hosta flowers because I’m more interested in the foliage and I have to admit I don’t think the flowers are all that attractive. But this one? Take a look.

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When I was up at the state park I ran across this bush/tree:

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MrsGF and I have never seen this one before, and neither of us know what it is. Anyone out there know?

 

More Tiny flowers

It was always my opinion that even the best cell phone camera couldn’t do as good a job as even an average and relatively inexpensive dedicated camera. I may end up having to change my opinion. The camera in the iPhone 7 is actually pretty decent. It has some odd quirks, has difficulties figuring out what to focus on much of the time, but I have to admit it has been doing a decent job, certainly much, much better than the camera in the 6 was. It’s difficult previewing images on the screen, though, so I didn’t really know what I had until I got the photos transferred over and saw them on the big screen. Anyway, more tiny flowers! Here you go—

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Tiny Flowers

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Spent Monday at Whitefish bay dunes state park. Of course I forgot to throw the good camera in the car and was stuck with the iPhone. Maybe I’m just now starting to figure out how to use the thing and adapt to it’s quirks, but some of the photos I’ve been getting with it haven’t been utterly horrible, and even border on being acceptable. These little guys turned out pretty good. They’re tiny little flowers, maybe a quarter of an inch across.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

 

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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.

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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.