Saturday, July 20, 2013

The House Wren Won

I give up!  I am pretty intense and for almost a month I have tried to discourage a House Wren from building a nest in one of our birdhouses.  I wrote about how she started removing Tree Swallow nesting material the moment the young swallows left.  That was about June 21 and here it is July 20 and she is still at it.  Never Trust a House Wren

Everyday I can hear her twittering away, daring me to remove the sticks she has put in the house, and everyday I open the house and remove everything.  Some days I do it three or four times.  She doesn't pay any attention to any other birdhouses on our property.  Right now we have five totally empty houses.

She just sits there nearby watching me and yelling at me.  It goes on from morning until night.

Yesterday I went out to check on things, and I was so happy to see very few sticks and pine needles in the house.  Instead I saw this little frog or toad.  He was just sitting in the house so content.  I thought as long as the house is occupied, then the wren would go away.  There was very little activity yesterday afternoon and evening.  I slept good last night knowing that this nasty little bird wasn't going to trouble us anymore.  I figured I had finally won.

Boy was I wrong.  As soon as I got up I heard the little creep.  A while later I thought I should go out and start all over again removing sticks.  I wasn't going to let a little tiny House Wren get the best of me.  I opened the house and "OH, NO".  There were eggs in the nest.  She snuck in and laid a couple eggs.  Now I had a decision to make.  I could break the law and remove the eggs,  (The House Wren is a native bird and it is illegal to kill them or remove eggs from the nest) or I could leave them and write about it.  I decided that it was a long hard fought battle but she won.  I concede.

Now the only hope I have is that the eggs aren't fertile and they will never hatch.  That is probably wishful thinking on my part because every now and then I see a little fella hanging around.  It's probably the baby daddy.  I guess you can't fool Mother Nature.

Friday, July 19, 2013

July Pellet Delivery

You have all heard of Christmas in July, but have you heard of Pellets in July?  Probably not.  This is the time of year we stock up on the pellets that we burn in the two stoves we have to heat our house in the winter.   Pellets or Wood - Another Source of Heat

The hard part is estimating how many we will need.  If the winter is mild, we don't use as many as when the winter is harsh.  This year we ordered five tons.  We have a ton or so left over from last year. 

This morning bright and early this truck pulled up to our driveway to deliver the bags of pellets.

He put a pallet of pellets on the forklift and brought them in one ton at a time. 

Notice all the leftover garage sale stuff still sitting on the driveway.  Time to get that cleaned up.  It looks like the whole load is going to tip over, but it didn't.

He maneuvered around and stacked them in the garage.

Hopefully this will be enough to keep us toasty warm all winter, even though it is hard to imagine being cold.  The last few days have been beastly hot and a little cooler weather will be welcome.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Invasive Trumpet Vine

Eleven years ago when we bought our house, there was a little vine planted in the yard.  We weren't quite sure what it was, but we just left it.  We thought it was a Trumpet Vine.  The next summer it grew a little, but it didn't bloom.  The next summer we went to a garden center to see for sure what it was.  It was a Trumpet Vine and the garden center said it can be at least three years before they start blooming.  At that point, we thought we should have something for it to climb on.  We bought some  pieces of rebar.  We had someone cut it in pieces and weld it into a trellis shaped like a obelisk.  We thought the trellis was big enough, but we were wrong.  The next summer the Trumpet Vine started to grow and grow fast.

It started growing around and through the rebar trellis.

If you look carefully, you can see the bark growing around the rebar.

It is now huge and looks like a Trumpet Vine Tree.  All these years it has been confined to the trellis and got bigger and fuller.  Last year we had an extreme drought.  We didn't have any rain for most of the summer.  The grass in our lawn died and most of it didn't come back this year.  A strange thing happened with the vine.  I think it was searching for moisture because it sent up hundreds of shoots.  They are coming up in the yard and in the flower garden.  If anyone wants a Trumpet Vine shoot, we have them. 

They are coming up everywhere.  This fall we will have to cut them or mow them off.  They are becoming invasive searching for moisture. We have shoots coming up at least 20 feet away from the original plant.

Early this summer we had plenty of rain, but the last few days have been very hot.  The blossoms are falling off the vine.  Here they are all over the ground.  You can also see there is no grass.

The blossoms are so pretty and the birds love them, especially the hummingbirds and orioles.   We hate to destroy the extra plants,  but we will have to. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

A Book That Hit Close to Home

Today I was having an off day.  It is hotter than hot here in Wisconsin on this 17th day of July.  There was no going out in the weather today.  It was a day for those chores that we can so easily put off.  I vacuumed the coils under the refrigerator.  I gave my husband and my dad a hair cut.  I washed the sheets and mostly sat around trying to keep cool.  My dad can't be out on his porch in this weather so he was sitting in his room listening to a new book.  I walked in with a bowl of grapes for him to snack on, and I could see he was kind of nervous or was having some sort of adrenaline rush.  I asked him if he was ok and he started telling me about the new book he was listening to.  It was called "No Less Than Victory" by Jeff Shaara.  He writes war novels.  This particular novel is part of a trilogy on
World War II.

The spring after my dad graduated from high school, he was drafted into the army.  It was 1943.  He had to show up at a certain time and place in a nearby town.  Then they were loaded on a bus and sent to Fort Sheridan Illinois.  They had their physicals and got inducted.  From that point they put the guys on a train, didn't tell anyone where they were going and headed south.  The train traveled without any lights on so they wouldn't be targets.  They ended up in Fort Jackson for training.  He was put into the 106th Infantry Division, Regiment 424.  He was in Platoon D which was the Heavy Weapon platoon.  At this time he had a friend who talked him into applying for Aviation Cadets because the word was out that the air force was looking for pilots..  He applied, was accepted and sent to Miami.  By the time he got there he found out they had enough pilots.  He transferred into the Army Air Corp and became a B-24 armorer/gunner assigned to the 319th Bomb Squadron of the 90th Bomb Group. He flew 44 combat missions in the Pacific Theater..  He did an interview about this which I blogged about a while ago.

The reason I mention this is because the book dad is reading is how the 106th Division, Regiment 423 were sent in to replace the 102 Division in Europe during WW II.  It talks about all the terrible conditions and hardships the soldiers had to endure in battling the German army.  They were cold and muddy most of the time.  Dad told me that it could have been him in that situation.  It hit close to home and that was the reason he was seemed anxious.  He couldn't wait to get back to the book though, so he must find it interesting.  The friend who encouraged him to apply to aviation cadets stayed in the 106th and was taken prisoner.  My dad said that he was probably lucky to have only had to fly 44 bombing missions.  I thought that was an amazing statement and it turned my OFF day into a day to be grateful.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Danish Junket Dessert

Today is recipe Tuesday again.  Today I am sharing a recipe that I have made for the past forty years.  It is a favorite of the family.  It uses Danish Junket Pudding.  I like the Raspberry flavor because as I have said before, I don't really like the fake strawberry flavor in things.  For those not familiar with it, it can be found in most grocery stores.  I buy it in bulk at our local Mennonite store.

Danish Junket Dessert


1 Cup Flour
1 Cup Butter
1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
1/4 Teaspoon Salt

Mix together like pie crust and pat into a 9 x 13 pan.

Bake at 375 degrees for 12 minutes.

Cooled crust.
Let the crust cool completely.

Then put 2 packages of Raspberry Danish dessert ( or 1 cup of powdered mix) into 3 1/2 cups of cold water.  Mix together and bring to a boil.  Boil for 1 minute and let cool completely. Then stir in two or three cups of sliced Strawberries.  You can use frozen berries that have thawed.  Drain them well and use the liquid for part of the liquid needed to cook the pudding.

Next take one 8 oz. package of cream cheese, 1/2 cup of Powdered Sugar and 2 Tablespoons of Milk.  Mix it all together until smooth.  Spread this over the cooled crust.

Then slice 2 or 3 bananas and place in a single layer over the cream cheese mixture.

Crust topped with cream cheese mixture and bananas.

When that is finished top off with the sliced strawberries and cooled pudding mixture. 

Layer of junket pudding and sliced strawberries.

Put it in the refrigerator until it has set.  Sometimes it takes quite a while.  I like to make it and let it set overnight.  When it is set, then top with Cool Whip.  Mine isn't quite set so I can't show the final product, so just picture cool whip over the whole thing.  This makes a nice summer dessert.

Monday, July 15, 2013

The Green Lake Conference Center

About a month ago my sister came for a visit.  One day we took a ride to show her the area.  We drove into the Green Lake Conference Center off of Hwy 23.  It used to be owned by the Baptist Assembly and wasn't open to the public.  Now it is.  A lot of people are familiar with the conference center because it has hosted many events throughout the years.  My husband went to a conference when he was in high school and also went there to a math conference when he was a teacher.  We didn't know our way around so we just explored the various roads.  We saw how big this complex is and noticed that there was a lot of history in this area, but didn't know the depth of it until today. 

Apparently,  in 1880, a couple named Victor Lawson and Jessie Strong Bradley were married.  They were from Chicago and came to Green Lake for their honeymoon.  He was the founder of the Associated Press and later became the publisher of the Chicago Daily News.  By the time he was 38 years old he was the owner of the newspaper.  In order to escape city life in Chicago, they purchased their first parcel of land in 1888,   Eventually they owned the 1100 acre farm they called Lone Tree Farm.  Jessie was a go getter woman, and she designed and developed roads, stone walls, bridges and many buildings.

Mike searching for the cache.

Today we went back.  There are several geocaches placed in the conference center, and we decided to see if we could find a few.  Geocaching As One of Our Hobbies  It was pretty quiet without many people around so we were able to find some.  Then as we got deeper into the center, we discovered a lot of people doing all kinds of things.  Some were swimming, some were kayaking and boating, some were biking and some were just exploring the place like we were.  While looking for one geocache we came upon an old log cabin.  I got out to take some photos and a lady invited us over.  She showed us around the cabin and gave us a little history lesson.  The cabin was built in 1847.  It was the only building on the grounds that was there when the Lawson's bought the land.

This small one room cabin was the home to seven people.

Backside of the cabin

She showed us inside.  This small little cabin was the home to a couple and their five children. 

The only heat source, but they were living in just one room.

Writing desk in the front room

 The cabin was eventually sold and the new owner put on an addition with the original cabin as the parlor and sleeping rooms, a kitchen and dining area, and a wood shed.

This quilt is set up and everyone who visits is asked to quilt a few stitches.

The lady we spoke with was a volunteer and knew a lot about the area.  She told us how Mrs. Lawson had roads built throughout and had workers build walls along the edge from stones they found on the property.  Soon farmers from the area would pile rocks along the perimeter of the property and Mr. Lawson would buy them.

Roads are lined with rock walls.

They even built a suspension bridge that is solid and standing to this day.  I don't know how it is supported because it spans quite a distance.

The stone suspension bridge.

The photos above are taken from under the bridge.  Here is the road that goes over the top.

Road over the suspension bridge.

There are tons of things I learned today.  The conference center has a big golf course called Lawsonia which many people are familiar with.  It has hotels, cabins to stay in, campsites, boat rentals and access to beautiful Green Lake.  It also has secluded areas as well with lots of woods and prairies.

The prairie was blooming today.

If anyone wants to take an interesting trip, I would recommend the Green Lake Conference Center.  I went to the gift shop and bought a book of the history of the whole area.  Some day I may tell about other things I learned from the volunteer and this book.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Be Careful Who You Trust

We had two rings that needed some repair.  One of them was my husband's turquoise ring.  It was too big and the stone was loose.  This was a replacement ring to one his mother gave him in the early 1970's.  He wore it everyday for thirty five years.  Then one day we were bringing the boat into the landing and as he reached out to grab the rope, off came the ring into Green Lake.  We searched and searched.  Our daughter even went early the next morning and dove into the water to look with a mask and wetsuit.  Of course, it was never found, at least by us.  He didn't want that to happen again to this ring.  The second ring was mine.  I received it after my mother in law passed away.  I wore it for a while but the band was hinged and it broke off.  All I needed was to have it sized and a new band put on.  So just after Christmas, I decided to take them to a jewelry store in Berlin Wisconsin.   They are a store that has been in business for many many years.  The ladies were very nice but said they couldn't repair them in the store, but they would send them to whoever they use for an estimate.  They told me that my ring had two little diamonds missing.  I said I couldn't even see where they were missing, so I didn't need to buy any replacement diamonds.  A few weeks later, I got a phone call.  They said they couldn't make my husband's ring smaller because the turquoise stone would be compromised.  They said they could fix mine and it would cost $600.  I told them I would think about it.  Then the end of January 2013, we attended a children's theater performance that our granddaughter was in.  When we were leaving, we saw there was a store across the street that said Goldsmith.  The store was open and I had the rings in my purse, so we went in.  He was an older gentleman who owned the store.  The store smelled like pipe tobacco.  He put his little eye piece on and said he could easily fix my husband's ring.  Then he sized the ring.  Next he looked at my ring.  He said that there were NOT any diamonds missing, and he could replace the band.  He said he was sorry that it would cost $200 because the price of gold was so high.  I told him to do the work.  Now months have passed and I kind of forgot about the rings.  In June,  we got a call.  The goldsmith asked why we hadn't picked up our rings.  I told him that I had not gotten a call that they were done, and we would come right over.  The store was in Green Lake Wisconsin and was about twelve miles away.  He fixed the turquoise ring for $30 and it fit perfectly.  He told me that mine was a lovely ring, and the band would last for the rest of my life.  He saw I was old so I guess it was a pretty safe statement.  He was old too, so any guarantee he would give wouldn't mean much.  Anyway, the point of my story is that you have to be careful even with well established businesses and that it is good to get a second opinion.  Now we can wear the rings everyday and not worry about losing stones or having them fall off.