Sunday, June 17, 2012

Back from Boulder Lake

We are back from our weekend camping and rafting trip. My sincerest apologies if you've been looking for updates during the weekend. Despite my best efforts, the blogs that I thought I sent did not come through. Regardless of that, we had a wonderful time! We camped at Boulder Lake Campground  for two nights. We were concerned about finding a campsite as we traveled northward, however, when we got there we discovered that there were plenty of vacant sites, and found one with a fairly level tent pad and plenty of space for our screen tent in a somewhat secluded circle near the back of the park. There are a lot of trees (duh! that might be 
Our Campsite
why they call it a National FOREST!) which made the site feel more private. After we arrived on Friday and got our camp set-up, we took a ride over to the river and walked along it for a ways just to get a feel for what we would be up against on Saturday. We also spoke to a person at the desk about the rafting trips, and she informed us that the top part of the 6 hour trip was closed due to low water. We were also told that if we wanted to go out for longer, we could redo the 3 hour trip just by paying the difference in the cost between the 3 hour and the 6 hour trip. We thought that was a good idea, but about half way through the trip we decided that once was enough. The water was pretty low, and at least one person in the raft had to get out fairly often to move the raft around the many boulders we encountered. Some day we hope to raft it again when the water is higher.

White water on the Wolf River - with LOTS' of boulders in evidence

More white water on the Wolf River - June 2012

Wild Wolf Inn and Herbs Rafts - with the rafts

Flora and Fauna

Norm and I are always on the look-out for interesting things that we don't often see in the city when we go camping. This time we saw a couple of very unusual looking trees that were growing over some huge boulders. The formations were quite intriguing. There were also some pretty wild irises in bloom along the river bank, but we were moving too fast for me to get pictures as we went by. We did some fishing on Friday evening, and then again early in the morning on Saturday and Sunday. We did manage to catch a few, but they were mostly too small to keep. There were schools of small blue gills around the dock that we were able to watch swim about because the water was so clear. On Saturday morning we were visited by a momma mallard and her six little ducklings. I couldn't resist the photo op. We also heard bullfrogs every morning when we were by the lake, and a small woodpecker that we didn't see so I couldn't positively identify. At the campsite I briefly saw a yellow-bellied sapsucker, but he was in such a hurry to leave that again - no photo op. We also heard but didn't see a pileated woodpecker. You can always tell them by the deep timbre of their tapping.

A tree growing over a rock

Momma duck and her ducklings

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Sometimes It's the Little Things that Make Me Happy

I'm so excited I can hardly stand it. I have several reasons for feeling that way, right now, but the most immediate is that Norm and I are getting ready for a camping/rafting weekend that includes a couple of my favorite nephews, Hunter and Max. In preparation, I did some shopping this morning for a few items to add to our camping gear. Nothing big, mind you, but things I've wanted and now finally have - like that cool red and white checked tablecloth that makes a campsite look so homey, and the clips to hold it onto the picnic table if it happens to be windy. Since we're planning to go rafting, I also picked up a few small items that I thought would make that more enjoyable, like a waterproof box to put my camera in - that is IF I don't chicken out and decide not to take it rafting, and a 5 gallon waterproof bag to pack our lunch in. Soggy sandwiches just don't sound very appealing to me! Norm took a group of men to Boulder Lake - the campground we are headed to - last year, and I'm trying to learn from their experience of losing items that were not attached when they went rafting, so I also picked up a package of caribiners so we can attach anything we take to the raft. The cats meow will be getting to do some fishing - I love to fish, but haven't been for several years. I fully intend to remedy that this year. I'll be happy if we catch a few pan fish. Will report back - you know there always must be a "fish" story! Well, have tons of packing yet to do, so better get to it. Oh - and you might be hearing a bit more from me this weekend, as I'm planning to try my hand at some "on location" blogging. Signing off.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Something Nice in Madison

The gazebo

If you live in Madison, Wisconsin or happen to be visiting for a day, there are a lot of possibilities for how to spend the day. You might visit the State Capitol or the Historical Museum or the Veteran's Museum. You might walk down State Street, stopping in at whatever eclectic little shop that tickles your fancy, then end up with lunch from one of the carts on Library Mall and Babcock ice cream from Memorial Union. What you might not think about doing is visiting one of the small gardens that grace the beautiful campus of the University of Wisconsin - Madison, and for sure, then you would be missing out on something special. Today when lunch time came around I took a short walk, and ended up at the Botanical Garden. Granted, it is only an acre and a half, but that just means you can take a relaxing stroll and not be in a hurry to see everything. It is a sweet little nook in which to come to rest your mind. If you have a few minutes when you're in Madison, I recommend it. Here are a few photos to give you a taste.

Water lily

Prickly Pear

Hydrangeas in all colors

Sparrow taking a bath
Goldfish in the pond

The Blossom Sculpture
Disclaimer: for those of you who are familiar with my husband, Norm's photography, he get's neither the credit nor the blame for these pictures. For better or for worse, they are my original work.

Saturday, June 9, 2012


It started a couple of weeks ago when my SECOND batch of home-made chicken stock got away from me before I could take care of it. I told my sweet darling, Norm, that I needed to cook the chicken on Friday so I would have time on Saturday to take care of it – strain the bones out, package, and freeze. That may not appear to be a lot of effort, but when life is moving forward at the speed of a freight train, it seemed like plenty. So, I planned it, and put the chicken in the crockpot yesterday morning before leaving for work, using a variation of this recipe. Then, last week when we were headed to the Dane County Farmers Market, Norm put in a request for one of his favorite foods that his Mom used to make. Now, you must understand, Norm’s parents were both of German heritage, and this dish is distinctly German. It is creamed lettuce on boiled potatoes. Since we were headed to the Farmers Market, I made sure to get the lettuce and the potatoes – couldn’t have timed it better, as one of the vendors had German butter potatoes. How totally appropriate for the dish I intended to use them for. It was a gamble to get them, though, as I knew nothing about the cooking properties of German butter potatoes. As it happened, they turned out to be perfect for boiled potatoes. Since asparagus is in season and we love it, we bought some of that, too. So, here we were with all the fixings for a “down-on-the-Farm” meal, and just the two of us to eat it. Hmmm – must be time to invite company. Then Norm’s buddy, Tom, called him on Thursday about getting together. How perfect is that? So we invited Tom and his lovely wife, Lesa, to join us, and getting into the spirit, they brought home-made corn muffins, honey from the bee’s that Tom keeps, and a marvelous rhubarb crunch and ice cream for dessert. It isn’t often that circumstances come together in such a way but what a joy and blessing when they do. Thanks, Tom and Lesa for a fun evening of mutual camaraderie! Hope we can do it again soon! Now I’d better go and take care of my THIRD batch of chicken stock!
Doesn't this look like a meal you'd like to sit down to? [the creamed lettuce is mid-right]

Check the “In the Kitchen” page for recipes for the chicken and creamed lettuce. You’ll also find a picture of the turkey on the gardening page.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Do you ever run into one of those times when you reach an end? You know the kind I mean - where you’ve finished a big project or made it through an especially busy period of your life? That’s me right now. I just finished a very busy school year and was plagued with illness along the way, and am very much feeling the need to take time to be refreshed. I’ve been asking myself what that means over the course of the past few weeks, and realized that I simply need to do some of the things that I enjoy that tend to get shelved when I take on outside commitments. So - I made a short list of summer priorities. If it’s not on the list, it might not get done. As I write this, I’m reminded of the summer after I finished taking college classes. I hadn’t had much opportunity to read for pleasure, so I promised myself that is would be a summer of reading - and it was - 11,000 pages of reading strictly for enjoyment. This summer’s priority list includes gardening and working in the yard, practicing my music, writing, 15 minutes a day of housecleaning (ala Flylady), camping and fishing. Here’s to hoping that by summers end I will feel mentally and physically restored. What do you plan to do this summer to refresh yourself? Write a comment and tell me about it.