Giving Thanks

Goose all dressed up for Thanksgiving

So, how was your Turkey Day, Oh Best Beloved? We broke with tradition, and had salmon for our main dish, instead of turkey. I made parfaits for dessert, each created with fat dollops of thick heavy cream that we whip ourselves, sandwiched between layers of freshly-made warm apple compote and crumbled Pamela’s pecan shortbread cookies, then drizzled with real maple syrup. We only make them three times a year (Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter), as they have an alarming number of calories and fat in each serving. They’re lovely to indulge in on special occasions, but more than that and I’d be waddling off to a cardiologist to schedule a triple coronary bypass delux.

The afternoon was spent visiting a county park we’d never seen before, and it turned out to be delightful. We saw several does, a gorgeous sunset, and this sign:

In Wisconsin, We Pay Based on the Honor System

It made us chuckle as we talked about how much we enjoy living in a place where one can pay for items on the honor system. Park entry fees for county and state parks are handled this way, when it’s ‘after hours.’ You put your money for any park fees in an envelope, drop the envelope into a locked pipe or mailbox, and drive into the park. Even local farmers have produce stands by the front entryway of their farms that are unattended. You pick out your fruit and vegetables, total up what you owe from the prices listed on the hand-printed chalkboard wedged in between the goodies, and leave your payment in the cash box that’s sitting there. The unwritten rule: you make your own change, and you don’t take anything that isn’t yours.

By the by, most of the time around here the honor system works. On Thanksgiving Day, when we saw this sign, we realized that we’ve grown accustomed to living in a place where that’s the norm, instead of the exception.

For that, I am truly thankful.

P.S. Yes, that’s our Goose pictured at the top. As always, when it comes to Goose: don’t ask. Just enjoy.

Why Wisconsin?

Most Sundays, Michael takes me out for a ride to some spot where we can quietly enjoy the glorious countryside that is all around us. I thought you might want to see some of my favorite shots of what we’ve seen this year.

Lodgepole Pines

These lodge-pole pines tower several stories above the earth, each as straight as the next, with a thick carpet of sweet smelling needles underneath them. When I snapped this shot, a family of coyotes had just finished serenading us from a nearby spot.

Blue Heron at Dusk

We were watching twilight darken into night last week, at a nearby marina, when this blue heron flew past us, then settled in for the night. Before moving to Wisconsin, the majority of birds I noticed were house sparrows, and city pigeons. Living here, we regularly see scores of different species of birds, from tiny hummers to majestic bald eagles and even, on one memorable occasion, five of the extraordinarily rare and magnificent whooping cranes.

Lodgepole Pines

This is one of our favorite spots to watch sunsets, at the edge of a nearby lake. During the summer, we sometimes see lake sturgeon come to the surface, always a surprising sight as these fish are up to five feet in length.

Many of our friends and family have asked us why we moved, over twenty years ago, from one of the largest metropolitan areas of the country to a ‘backwater’ state, and into a small village to boot. “What’s there?” we’re asked. “Don’t you get bored?”

Bored? Surrounded by this?


A Gathering of Owls

Autumn Sky

Each year, as the trees lose their leaves, we hear — often nightly — the haunting sounds of great horned owls as they begin calling to one another. A week ago, we had the most extraordinary concert as not one, not two, but four owls called back and forth for over two hours.

Two of the owls were in our neighbor’s tree, roosting in branches that are right over our yard. A third was across the street, and the fourth, which we heard only a few times, was several blocks away. At one point, one of the owls flew right over our heads, no more than twenty feet above us, giving us an incredible display of one of the largest and deadliest night-flying predators in the northern hemisphere winging over in full flight.

Michael had his little digital voice recorder out with us, so we managed to record some of the concert for you.


eBay To The Rescue!

One Huge Honking Set of NFL Football Cards That Are Useless To Me

One of the funniest eBay auction descriptions I’ve ever read was written by a thirty-something Mom who auctioned off a set of Pokemon cards on eBay after her kids snuck them into her shopping cart (and a H/T to Kris and Sarah for pointing Dawn Meehan’s blog out to me – it’s great!).

I love looking at auctions on eBay, primarily because I always enjoyed poking around at church rummage sales and eBay is, to my mind, the world’s biggest rummage sale.

Getting rid of old PCs that were new when Pong was a fad? Sell them on eBay. Looking for that one figurine you never found for your collection of purple carousel horses? Oh, yeah, you can find that on eBay.

Bought something that wasn’t what you expected?

Sell it on eBay — like I’m doing right now with something I bought that turned out to be totally different than I expected. Auctioning something off is vastly easier than burying one’s errors! Want to read the story? Click here to read about just how little I know when it comes to the wonderful world of NFL football cards.

Hint: Forrest Gump could thoroughly trounce me in terms of sheer knowledge in regards to anything relating to football trading cards. Or sports collectibles. Or sports memorabilia. Or sports. Or… well, you get the idea.

Oh, and thank you, Dawn Meehan, from the bottom of my heart. You set a great example to all the rest of us on how to admit that we need to get rid of something we know absolutely nothing about and shouldn’t have gotten in the first place. I just wish every eBay auction was as amusing as yours!

Veterans Day

Lieutenant Rachel Skiles, US Army Nurses Corps

“In order that a grateful Nation might pay appropriate homage to the veterans of all its wars who have contributed so much to the preservation of this Nation… let us solemnly remember the sacrifices of all those who fought so valiantly, on the seas, in the air, and on foreign shores, to preserve our heritage of freedom, and let us reconsecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower, October 8, 1954

My mother wore army boots.

I’ve never been prouder.

Mom, from your caboose child and a grateful nation:

Thank you for your service.

Lt Rachel Skiles, 42nd General Hospital, Pacific Theater, WWII, U.S.Army Nurse Corps