Lake Logan

Today was pretty much the perfect early fall day.  Brisk warming to nice but not hot, clear with some puffy clouds, and just gorgeous.  We decided to take out the kayaks.  (!!!)  Due to some vigilant craigslist watching, my husband found a great deal on a second kayak.  It helped that it’s nearly the end of the season.  Now we can paddle around together!

He really wanted to go to Clear Creek, so that’s where we started.

Before unloading the kayaks, we trotted down a little trail to check for a good spot to put in and to check on the water level.Alas, even though we’ve had a little bit of rain lately, the water level was too low to make kayaking much fun, it would have been all scraping and portaging.  Onto Plan B:  Lake Logan.

Located in the Hocking Hills region of southeastern Ohio, Lake Logan is a 400 acre lake.  We’d never been before.  It was nice:  the leaves were just starting to turn, we saw all kinds of birds and water fowl, fish were jumping and biting, and conditions made floating around and enjoying the views really easy.

“I’ve got a hold of Nessi!”  Although he did catch a fish, maybe it wasn’t quite that big…

Early fall colors, just stunning.

Love, love, love the new-to-us kayak!My husband managed to snap this great shot of a great blue heron hanging out on a dead tree.

I got this one of a great blue heron in flight.  I love that their croaking scratchy call is at such odds with how graceful and elegant their appearance is.What a lovely and relaxing afternoon!

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Sad News

I was contacted a few days ago by the wild animal rescue group I had taken Freddie, the fledgling female red tail hawk we found in our backyard, to back in July.  Unfortunately, she died 3 days after I dropped her off.

The drought and the West Nile Virus have been taking a toll on area wildlife and they’d been busier than usual this summer.  They had been nearly overwhelmed by the number of animals brought in and only just got around to calling me to let me know about her fate.  Given that Freddie was at about 1/3 of her expected body weight when I found her, it’s not surprising that she was too far gone to be rescued and rehabilitated.  But I had really been hoping, given that I hadn’t heard anything for so long, that “no news was good news”.   What will be will be and all, but I’m still sad.  Hard way to go.

Admiral Sackbar

I don’t consider myself to be the most crafting-est of people, so it’s been nearly a year since I did a crafty/DIY type post.  But I did have to share this one:

Admiral Sackbar!  (and a Fortune Wookiee)  It’s a hand puppet made out of 2 lunch bags and some other odd bits of paper, a DIY homage to Admiral Ackbar from Star Wars.  I found the recipe in the fantastic book “The Star Wars Craft Book” by Bonnie Burton. And a Fortune Wookiee, based off  the one in the book “The Secret of the Fortune Wookiee” by Tom Angleberger.

I changed up the book’s instructions for the admiral a little bit:  in the book, you’re supposed to use felt to make his white uniform and arms.  I went with all paper and I’m pleased with how it turned out.  Oh, and I used a rubber band to make his little chin tentacles. (Bonus future DIY:  if I can track down some yellow bags, maybe some small yellow gift bags? I think it would be quite simple to use the same general idea to make a sack Homer Simpson hand puppet.)

Fishing With Pugs

Okay, so this time we didn’t really fish.  But we were out on the water with the pugs!  (I just couldn’t resist referencing John Lurie’s sublime show, “Fishing With John”.  If you haven’t seen it, you really should.  Amazing.)  Check it out:

We got life jackets for the pugs.  They are so top heavy that they are considered at extra risk of drowning, so PFDs are highly recommended.  Gus (pictured above) probably actually needs one a little more snug than the one we got him.  But doesn’t he look like a good little sailor?!?

All five dogs went out on the kayak (not all at once, though!) and seemed, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, to enjoy it.  What would I have done differently?  We really should have taken them on a decent-to-long walk before trying out the kayak.  It would have been helpful if we’d drained off some of their energy first.  (Rookie mistake!)  Also?  Taking all 5 at once was a bit hectic.  Some of them share a life jacket, so switching one dog out and putting it onto another dog got a little crazy, especially since we were sharing the lake that day with a hyper Cub Scout troop.  It’s a bit of a drive to Lake Hargus and we were just so excited to see how the pups would react to being on the kayak, that we underestimated how stressful and hectic juggling all 5 dogs while doing something totally new with them would be.  But still.  It was pretty awesome.

Bittersweet Covered Bridge

Back to work, alas.  Is being independently wealthy really too much to ask for? 😉

On my last day off, I took a nice hike at a nearby park, Slate Run.  One of the trails there passes through an old covered bridge:

For some reason, I associate covered bridges with autumn.  Between that and the fact that it was the last day of my vacation, it felt a bit melancholy and bittersweet.  Yet lovely.

View from the covered bridge.

Random lonely hanger inside the bridge. (???)

Meadow flowers.

Back to work.

Minnesota Souvenirs on the Cheap

My husband and I are both inveterate thrifters.  If there is a garage sale, flea market, thrift or junk store near us, you can bet we’ll pop in for a look-see.  Our trip to Minnesota was no exception.  During the heat of the afternoon when the fish weren’t hitting, we’d go poke around local stores and sales to see what we could find.   We ended up discovering some really fun stuff, chatting with some fascinating people, driving some pretty back roads, and we did it all for very little money.  Behold:

Above is a wooden train whistle found in a thrift store in Willmar ($0.49), a charming print by James Jean from a shop in Northfield ($3.00), a small tin globe from an antique store in Spicer ($5.00), a set of matryoshka doll measuring cups found in Northfield, and two jars of buttons found at a sweet grannie’s garage sale outside of Willmar ($0.75 for both).

I was especially pleased to find the print in Northfield because there is a medieval-style meditation labyrinth on the Carleton College campus there.  I feel like the matryoshka doll measuring cups were sort of cheating since they are new and they were one our priciest finds.  But I’ve always been delighted by matryoshka dolls, even though I’ve never had any.  Getting them in a functional form (each body part is a measuring cup!) seemed like a less creepy way of making that dream happen, given that I am a grown woman. 🙂

Check out the View-Master trivia game we found at a thrift store in Spicer:  all of the parts were there, including 2 View-Masters  (a steal at $1.99).  Then at a garage sale outside of Spicer we experienced some hardcore “Minnesota Nice”.  We found the old souvenir plate featuring Mitchell, South Dakota’s Corn Palace for $0.10, and when my husband asked about a lure he’d found in a tackle box they were selling, they offered it to him for free!

The embroidered piece came from a garage sale at a cabin a few doors down from where we were staying.  I chatted with the kindly elderly woman running the sale for a while.  She used to breed Shelties.  My husband was rather startled to walk up on us right as she was telling me about the time one of her prize bitches gave birth to a litter of 9 puppies.  Apparently she scolded the dog “But you only have 8 teats!”  and the look on his face as he overheard this was priceless.  I think I was as tickled to find this piece of Norwegian embroidery as she was to know that I knew what it was (and for $0.25, no less!).

Here we have a fun print of G.I. Joe’s Storm Shadow we picked up in Northfield.  I can’t remember the artist’s name, and it’s only signed with his initials:  M.K.  At $15.00, it tied with the matryoshka measuring cups as our most expensive purchase.  Another gorgeous print by James Jean ($3.00).  Below that is a Hypno-Twist exerciser.  Doesn’t that look like a broken something waiting to happen?  And yet, awesome. We found it at a junk/antique shop in Spicer ($5.50).  I couldn’t resist the CD soundtrack for Twin Peaks Fire Walk With Me when I found it at a St. Cloud thrift store ($0.99).

Bargains galore and we got to meet some interesting, kind people.  Good stuff!

The one that got away?  This amazing, crazy-comfortable vintage couch we found in a thrift store in Spicer:

It was only $10.00!!!  Alas, it would not fit into or onto my mom’s car, or this baby would have come home with us.

At the Cabin on the Lake

Minnesota is known as “the land of 10,000 lakes”.  After visiting my sister’s family and enjoying a night at the lovely Archer River House Inn in Northfield, we drove about 100 miles west of the Twin Cities to experience one of them.

Wild geese flying over the lake at dusk.

As I mentioned, a dear friend and mentor loaned us the use of her cabin.  She is a rare and special person —knowing her makes me want to be a better person.  She is generous beyond telling, incredibly smart, tough, funny, strong, and she always reminds me to take a moment to reach for some compassion rather than simply reacting.  Her honesty can be bracing, but also very refreshing.  She will always give you the truth.  How many people in your life can you really say that about?  Not only that, but she lives her truth.  In doing so, her example encourages me to strive to be my better self.  She’s also the master of the understatement and much, much, much too modest.

How so?  Take her extreme underselling of her cabin.  It is a fantastic place, a true slice of heaven.  It has an amazing view and came equipped with everything we could have possibly wanted.  The lake itself has 2 islands and covers 945 acres.  Look at the view from the backyard:

So lovely.  We had use of a canoe and a kayak, both of which made exploring the lake great fun.  I just paddled around

while my husband paddled around and fished.

He actually caught something much larger than this little bluegill:  after 4 days of trying, watching other anglers on the lake, and talking to bait shop dudes, he landed a monster 35 inch pike!  Of course, neither of us had a camera on us (guaranteeing his success, no doubt!) but I saw him catch it.   Strictly catch-and-release for this trip, but he was very pleased.  The next day, he caught a slightly smaller 30 inch pike.

This is a Northern Pike, the kind of fish my husband caught. This isn’t the one he caught (his was bigger) but gives an idea of what they look like. I found this image here: http://www.jeffsundin.com/article-Northern-Pike-Care-Cleaning-50406.htm

We also rode bikes on a wonderful paved trail that passed close to the cabin.

Some of my favorite moments consisted of sitting on the dock watching the sun set and the blue moon rise.

Also high on the list?  Watching an otter swim around the dock watching us as we sat there enjoying dusk, and having a rafter of wild turkeys –about 14 of them!– dart out onto the bike path in front of us and then being amazed and delighted as my husband started gobbling at them quite proficiently.  Who knew he could gobble???  Well enough to make them look, even!  But most of all, the peace of this special place touched us both.  Absolutely wonderful.