octoberfest

Today marks Octoberfest in downtown Appleton, WI. Yes there are ^this^ many peeps on College Avenue from about 10 am to 6 pm. There are several stages of live music, arts and crafts, an inordinate amount of food vendors and BEER. What is Octoberfest without BEER? The sky is blue today and highs are expected at 77 degrees. Perfect!

Natasha and I will be among the throngs of peeps. A report may or may not come later, depending on the amount of BEER consumed and whether or not we get lost in this crowd.

Later, gator…

What nocturnal photos do you like taking? Whether it’s a starry sky, a street lamp, or the shadows cast by your cat, share them with us. Your shot can be outdoors or indoors, blurry or crisp, overexposed or ominously dark. As every owl (and night owl) knows, nighttime is when the real action starts.

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During a July camping vacation, the camp fire was a must…whether it be for cooking tin-foiled, buttered potatoes and onions, sizzling a bratwurst, or for a relaxing respite while sipping on adult refreshment. Camping is not camping without the day glow and night flames of a fire. This photo was taken on the last evening, when every piece of fire wood had to be utilized or left for the next person. We tried our best to use every last piece.

To view additional night time photos, click here.

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Natasha and I had a blast! An absolute blast!

Monday and Tuesday of this week, we explored the Elroy, WI, area with an SUV and our bicycles. The trees were beginning to change colors and we saw glorious hints of red, yellow and gold. We breathed in the fall odor of crushed leaves and purchased chocolate from an Amish bakery. The tires of the two-wheeled vehicle met gravel and fallen twigs and discovered the dark, dank interior of former train tunnels. Natasha and I ate the best burger and fries in the area and pushed out a leisurely 45 miles or so in two days on the Omaha and Sparta/Elroy trails.

The sky was clear blue, the temps around 70, and life almost perfect.

Natasha and I stayed in an extremely small town called Kendall. There was one hotel here, the Sugar Maple Inn. It was the mom and pop variety. Mousing cats roamed the grounds and hotel keys were left in the outside freezer when the office was closed. Yes, in the freezer. Small town trust. While the accommodations were very basic, it was all that we needed for our stay – soft beds, hot shower, TV, coffee pot, fridge.

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We didn’t get a start on the trails until Monday afternoon…after a French toast breakfast and a ride to Fort McCoy to enjoy the scenery and allow the cool, 45-degree morning temps to warm up. Around 1:00 pm, we headed to Wilton, home of the annual Wood Turtle Days. Evidently, the wood turtle (a threatened species in Wisconsin) made an appearance during the straightening of a local road many years ago. Although a local believes it to be a myth, there is never a bad reason to celebrate anything in this state, especially when it involves adult refreshment and silly games. Another local community, Hustler, has a chicken pooping contest at it’s annual Hustler Days. Awesome.

Natasha and I finally hit the trail early afternoon, heading west, in the direction of Sparta. Before we left, a local Tomah couple told us about the Omaha Trail. They said it was their favorite and that we could connect with it in Elroy or Camp Douglas. We made note of this as a possibility for Tuesday and commenced to riding. It was not long before we encountered the color of nature’s beauty and the awestruck wonder of man-made tunnels.

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“Tunnel No. 3 is 3,810 feet long and was completed in 1873 after three years of digging.  It cost $247,272 to build or $65 per foot which was much more expensive than the other two tunnels on the trail.  This tunnel was so long that workers dug two long, deep shafts from above to help remove rock, in addition to digging from both ends.  These shafts were later sealed with bricks.  Workers struck an overhead spring which kept the tunnel wet and difficult to excavate.  Today the ceilings and wall still drip with water and provide cool relief on a hot day.”

Natasha and I can attest to the dripping water in Tunnel 3. I shot a video while standing at the entrance to the tunnel. The sound was similar to rain falling. An elderly gentleman who had just come through the tunnel told us to take a bar of soap with us as we would surely have a shower inside. We decided to stay dry and head back. Dinner and a good sleep awaited.

After another French toast start to Tuesday, we chose to spend the day on the Omaha Trail. We were not disappointed in this choice. For the serious bikers, one could start at Camp Douglas and end up over in Minnesota – utilizing four connecting trails. For Natasha and I, we would stay on the Omaha and complete the 26 mile round trip.

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Color, leaves, rock, bridge, tunnel. No bears…only squirrels, chipmunks and one antlered deer off in the distance. It was all there, plus an excellent stop in Hustler for a huge sub sandwich. Did I mention that life was almost perfect?

It was.

Sadly, the bicycle tires stopped turning around 5:30 pm as we had a two and a half hour ride home, plus a bit of unpacking. Natasha and I had wondered on the trail this day why we had not been serious about biking until this year…why we had not done this last year or the year before. I’ve always preferred nature over roller coasters and these two days absolutely cemented that preference. I am already itching for spring if for nothing else, to explore more of the state’s trails with the bike.

It does not get better, right Natasha?

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Right!

But then fall comes, kicking summer out on its treacherous ass as it always does one day sometime after the midpoint of September, it stays awhile like an old friend that you have missed. It settles in the way an old friend will settle into your favorite chair and take out his pipe and light it and then fill the afternoon with stories of places he has been and things he has done since last he saw you.
~Stephen King~ Salem’s Lot

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Natasha and I are celebrating this old friend called autumn with our bicycles and a road trip. We leave Sunday, return on Tuesday. The Sparta to Elroy Trail beckons us to ride its 32.5 mile trail, pass through its three rock tunnels, discover the five communities it supports, and perhaps come across a few colored leaves. This was the first rail to trail project in America and we have chosen this place for our autumnal adventure.

I will be back in a few days to settle into the computer chair and share stories and photos of the places we have been, the things we have done, and the memories created.

Until then…

PS: I would not have called summer treacherous, but whatever Mr. King.

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According to folklore, the amount of black on the woolly bear in autumn varies proportionately with the severity of the coming winter in the locality where the caterpillar is found. The longer the woolly bear’s black bands, the longer, colder, snowier, and more severe the winter will be.

As I walked on the Friendship Trail during lunch on Tuesday, I had to keep an eye out for the woolly bear caterpillars. They were everywhere and I could have easily stepped on one.

What does this have to do with endurance? It’s not about the caterpillar’s folklorish indicator of winter. Rather, it’s the endurance of crawling their way to a safe spot to curl up and survive the winter. And much like humans and other animals, no matter what the season will bring, to endure to the other side - spring – is what really matters.

Warning! If you are of the male species, this may not be the post for you. To all others, THIS is what happens when I have nothing else to write about (unless you want to know about a dental appointment, allergies, or the amount of cat hair sucked up by the vacuum cleaner).

Proceed with caution…

I hate shopping for a bra. Hate, hate, hate it…with a passion. It is akin to having a tooth pulled at the dentist. Or fingernails on the chalkboard. Or listening to a dry, boring speaker right after eating a turkey club sandwich, fries and a brownie. Or trying on a bathing suit in spring when the skin is white and the extra 10 holiday pounds have not gone away.

Bra shopping is NOT fun.

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Wipe that smile off your pretty, blonde face, it’s not funny or fun.

I dread the trip to the department store. While some women have a hard time with fitting due to their SIZE, I have a hard time fitting due to my size. One would think that not being endowed would make it easy, but it does not. Girlfriend Kelly agrees. She has “the nones” which is the flattened interpretation of “the girls.” I’m there with you, Kel. Let’s just say that coming up with a bra size that has two letters instead of one has been a great help, although that doesn’t always work across brands. And, when I think I’ve found the right brand and size, a busty babe at Victoria’s Secret announces that I do not need two letters, I just need a new letter.

Really? I’m so confused.

  • Did you know that women spend $16 billion worldwide, annually, on bras? (Spent begrudgingly, except for the ^pretty blonde woman^.)
  • Or that we each have nine boulder holders (tm Natasha) or pebble slings in our dresser drawer? (I come in at a mere 5.)
  • Or that the average cup size is 36C? (I feel so inept.)
  • Or that women change sizes at least six times in their life? (That would explain my need for a new letter.)

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In October 1932, the S.H. Camp and Company correlated the size and pendulousness of a woman’s breasts to letters of the alphabet, A through D. Pendulousness? I can’t relate. How about a description for me and my kindred spirits? Noncleavageness comes to mind.

It’s not just the size and fit that is at issue here. It’s also the price. I will pay a mere $20 for a long-sleeved T-shirt that covers my entire upper torso, but must fork over $30 for a bra that covers a teeny tiny piece of me. (That’s the cost of the cheap bra at Kohl’s after using the 30% off coupon, buying three bras, and getting a $10 coupon to purchase a $20 pair of underwear.)  Seriously, I don’t have that kind of money for bras and I will not stand on the street corner, dressed like a cheeseburger, in order to make extra money to buy one.

Senseless inhumanity…

Thankfully, bra shopping is not in my near future. I was reminded of the ordeal, recently, as it was Natasha’s turn to sift through racks and racks of multi-colored cotton, polyester and spandex lace. She had a coupon and meant business. One hour later, Natasha declared victory. Lucky. Not everyone can find three bras that fit in one hour.

“I can never find the right bras.” ~Kate Upton~

See? Even the supermodels hate shopping for a brassiere. If Kate Upton can’t find a bra to fit, what hope do I have to find the correct size or letter?

What of your feelings, my friend, of bra shopping? Love it? Hate it? Are you forever in search of the perfect letter?

 

For this week’s challenge, share what humanity means to you.

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Every Saturday morning, from mid June to late October, College Avenue is filled with humanity.

Humanity in search of home grown peppers, tomatoes, corn, heirloom tomatoes, fresh farm eggs, bouquets of flowers, trinkets and an assortment of food items.

Four blocks, 150 vendors, a few shopping humans.

We filled our bags.

Perseverance, persistence, determination, resolution, resolve, grit.

Or luck.

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I bought mom a potted Gerbera daisy plant in 2013. I don’t remember when – it may have been Mother’s Day or her birthday or “just because.” When it stopped flowering, mom asked me to take it away. I didn’t have the heart to throw the daisy in the trash, but couldn’t keep it in the apartment due to the felines. I took the little plant to work, and kept watering the pathetic creature. It’s been pathetic most of the time – half of the Gerbera leaves died over time and if I would forget to water the daisy in a timely manner, it wilted as though on death’s door. I was THIS close (my thumb and forefinger are a half centimeter apart) to putting the poor daisy out of its misery more than once. THIS close.

I’m so happy that I pardoned Gerbera and kept on giving her liquid life. The persistence paid off.

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Or it was just plain luck.

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No, not me. I am the Oreo junkie, remember?

It’s mom. She’s the Kit Kat junkie.

And it’s my fault.

In the past few years, mom’s taste buds have packed their suitcase and gone on vacation. The buds return at times, long enough to savor an adult refreshment or a ham sandwich. For the most part, though, they either betray or stay away. The vacant taste buds make it especially difficult to find a snack or treat that mom can enjoy in her room, in between meals.

Mom has dabbled with gummy bears and licorice, but they both stick to her dentures. Potato chips and Cheetos are pronounced “too salty,” even though that is one thing mom can taste. Boxes of Russell Stover waxy chocolate from visitors have been pushed aside (I don’t blame her on this one). Star mints and root beer barrels have come and gone. The choices for snacks and treats have become slim to none.

Two weeks ago, as I was shopping in the local mega grocery story, I had an epihany: Hey! Mom used to love Kit Kat bars!  Mom would keep a paper lunch bag up in the kitchen cupboard, filled with Kit Kats. The ex-husband used to tease her about “the stash.” That was her favorite candy bar. She made no excuses for the contents inside the paper bag.

So, guess what I bought for her at the mega grocery store? (I shouldn’t have to answer that question.)

Not even a week later, after I had left a bag of Kit Kat minis in her room, mom had one of the aides call to leave a message. Bring more Kit Kats. Mom was out of Kit Kats. Then mom proceeded to call me three times in one day to tell me she needed a fix more Kit Kats. Mom still loves the chocolate-covered cookie. So, being a good dealer daughter that I am, I bought mom another bag of Kit Kats.

Then I proceeded to unwrap each individually wrapped Kit Kat and put them in a Ziploc bag…to make it easy for mom to feed her addiction have a Kit Kat instead of wrestling with the wrapper.

That was Saturday. Mom inhaled four piece of this chocolate goodness during the unwrapping process. She told me several times how much she liked the Kit Kats.

I don’t know what happened after I left. Mom may have eaten half of the bag, for all I know. I have turned her into a Kit Kat-addicted junkie.

I fear the dealer may get another call or three on Tuesday.

And it’s my fault.

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No, dear human, I am not lazy.

I am simply saving my energy for later.

Maybe around 4 am Sunday

*human frowns, Mr. Gibbs laughs*

“Whether your own or someone else’s, literal or figurative, take us on a photographic adventure.”

~The Daily Post~

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Sunset, biker babe, friend, adventure.

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Daylight, biker babe, friend, adventure.

(Peace, love and crabs to all.)

 

If haiku is the sashimi of poetry, tanka is its heartier hand roll cousin.

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Summer, why leave us?

You take the long days with you

The warmth seeps away

We shall miss your smiling skies

Please stay, for just one more month


It’s football season

Summer is waving good-bye

The pigskin is tossed

A wave breaks across the fans

Green and gold color the field


Summer is now gone

Frost covers the browning grass

Pumpkin patches rule

The holidays stand nearby

Waiting for fall to take course


Fall makes a brave stand

Red and gold leaves loosen grasp

Gently falling down

The season turns, turns again

Falling white and cold appear


Summer, we miss you

Miss the swimsuits and flip-flops

Stead, long underwear

Snow shovels, short days, gray skies

Winter tightens grip forever