Friday, October 4, 2013

Degrees of Separation to John Hancock

Today's blog will be for my Jepsen relatives but others may find it interesting.  You have probably heard of the 6 degrees of separation or the 6 degrees of Kevin Bacon where everyone in the world is separated from everyone else by six links.   I have one about John Hancock.  He was the famous patriot who had the largest signature on the Declaration of Independence.  My connection may actually be less than 6 degrees.

My mother and her family lived in Pray Wisconsin.  It is an unincorporated town.  When I was young my grandpa still lived in Pray.  Then as he got older, he lived with us in the winter and lived there every summer until he died on New Year's Eve of 1966.  The town consisted of my grandpa's house, a bar next door and a bar and house across the road.   We all loved to go out to Pray.  I never got to go into a bar when I was young except when we went out there.  Then I was allowed to go inside and get a grape soda.  I loved grape soda.  I wonder if I would still like it.  I haven't tried it in many many years.

Grandpa Jepsen a couple summers before he died.

Ma, grandpa and Jake

The owners of the bar/general store across the road were Jake and Ma Kozlowski.  Ma had a real name which was Justine, but everyone called her Ma.  My mother's brother married their daughter.  My cousin generously gave me these pictures.

This is Ma and Jake Kozlowski.

They had moved to Pray from Chicago in the 1930's.  Apparently they made some arrangement with the owner and moved to Pray for an easier life.  Nothing could have been further from the truth.  They worked so hard to make a living.  Running a tavern from morning to night is not easy.  Ma tended bar, cooked meals and ran the store.

The tavern is now abandoned.

This is how the bar looks today.  When Jake died their daughter Emily ran the bar with Ma.  Sad loss of history.

Next door to the tavern was a beautiful old house.  I never was in the house, but it always fascinated me.  I never knew why, but I liked it.  I imagine I was told of the historical value of it  and that was the reason.  The sad part of this is that in 1985 this beautiful house was torn down to build a new tavern and parking area.  I'm kind of surprised that it was allowed, but it is now gone.

This house looks so much smaller to me now than it did when I was young.

The house was originally owned by Colonel John Hancock.  During the Civil War Colonel Hancock was in the Second Wisconsin Infantry.  He was from a very distinguished family.  Supposedly he was the nephew of the famous John Hancock who was one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence.  I have read the nephew connection in articles but personally haven't done enough research to prove it for sure.  His wife, named Jennie was an elegant women and musician who was trained at the Madison School of Music.  They married and lived in Oshkosh for quite some time.  It was where all five of their children were born.  The Oshkosh Public Museum has a collection of the letters John sent to Jennie during the war.  His first cousin was married to Edward Paine which is also a very important name in Oshkosh history.  His cousin is probably why he located from his birth place in Pennsylvania to Oshkosh, Wisconsin.  John was a very successful lawyer so imagine the conversations and culture shock that occurred when John told his wife that they were building a cranberry marsh and moving to the wild land of central Wisconsin.  It was 1878 when they built their first house and then a few years later they built the house in Pray.  They had the house furnished with beautiful Victorian furniture including a grand piano.  One of their daughters named Louise ran the General Store next door which later became Jake's Tavern.

John Hancock became very active in local politics.  He died in 1894 but his wife remained in Pray until her death in 1911.  She must have learned to like it there.  She is not buried next to her husband but is buried in the same cemetery as my grandparents, great grandparents and many other relatives.  Colonel John Hancock is buried in the Catholic section of Riverside Cemetery in Oshkosh.  One of his daughters died before him and is also buried there.  Remember this photo of the old Oak Tree I posted a couple weeks ago.

It is the site of Colonel Hancock's gravestone.  It has almost been swallowed up by this large Oak tree.  We talked to the caretaker of the cemetery and he said that many times they find gravestones inside tree stumps.  I imagine he and his daughter were buried next to a small oak tree.   A very pleasant place in the cemetery, but in 120 years the tree has become so large that his stone is beginning to disappear.  His daughters stone is no where to be seen so we imagine it is inside the tree.

Colonel John Hancock was born 8/12/1830 and died 4/9/1894.  He was 63 years old.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Pelicans on Lake Montello

Last Sunday when we were on our way to Dodgeville Wisconsin, we went through Montello Wisconsin.  Montello is about 10 miles from our house.  As we were driving along, we saw about 6 pelicans flying above us.  Every year we see a few either flying in a small group over our house or in the other direction on Green Lake.  As we looked over to Lake Montello we saw some white birds.  I thought they were Egrets, and we continued on our way.  We kind of forgot about it and then on Tuesday we decided to drive over to get a closer look.  We drove to the small town of Packwaukee to look on Buffalo Lake.  The lake is almost dried up, and all we saw were a few egrets.

Buffalo Lake is almost dried up except for small pools of water.

An Egret

We continued back into Montello and stopped at the boat landing outside of town.  Off in the distance this is what I saw.

See the two groups of white birds off in the distance.

I zoomed in and saw them a little better but not good enough.

We thought we would look for a road which would put us a little closer to them.  As we were going down the road peeking between houses for a glimpse, we saw my cousin, her husband and daughter in the car behind us.  They had been out looking for them also.  As we were talking a man came out to his mailbox and allowed us walk out on his pier to look.  We couldn't see them so we headed back.  As we were looking between the houses again, we saw they really were pelicans and they were flying toward town.

They were flying in waves to a new location.

My cousin called us and said they were landing in a bay near a park in town. When we pulled in, there they were.  What an amazing sight. There were hundreds of pelicans in a small area.  They are probably migrating and took a little different route this year.  I was able to get quite close.  It was a thrill to see.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Staining the Garage-To Spray or Not To Spray

It is an absolutely perfect day in Wisconsin.  The temperatures are in the mid-70's, there is a very light breeze and there is no humidity.  It is a perfect day to do a lot of fun things, but also a perfect day to stain the garage before winter weather sets in.  We bought a spray gun and that is what I thought we would use.  I use the word "WE" loosely because my husband does the work, and I go out and check on him every now and then.  He isn't using it though.  He says that he can stain one whole side in the time it takes to set the thing up.  I asked him why we bought it then and he just shrugged and said he might use it to paint the garage door.  We will see.

Power washing the garage.

Three weeks ago he power washed the garage and prepared it for staining.  It took a long time to dry but probably not this long.  The instructions on the stain says that there has to be three days without rain.  Even though we haven't had much rain in our area, it is usually in the forecast as a possible chance.  There is a chance again tomorrow night, but he is taking a chance that it doesn't.

Oops, here he comes in the door.  What does he have in his arms?  Could it be the paint sprayer box?  Yes it is.  I guess hand staining the garage isn't as quick as he thought.

The paint sprayer is put together and ready to go.  Let's see if it really is faster and easier.

Here we go, start the timer.

The sprayer worked great and the whole garage was finished in a couple hours.  It did take another hour or so to clean it up which is a real pain.  Overall the job is finished except for the trim work.  It will have plenty of time to dry before the rain comes and well before winter sets in.

Now to paint the trim dark green and that will complete another project around here.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

This recipe is made with a vitamix blender, but could very well be made in a mixer.  I love my vitamix and use it for many things.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

2 large eggs
1/4 cup light olive oil
1 cup pumpkin, either freshly cooked or canned
1/4 cup skim milk
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly coat muffin pan with cooking spray or use cupcake liners.
Place eggs, oil, pumpkin, milk and sugar into the Vitamix wet blade container, set to variable 1, turn on machine and slowly increase speed to variable 5.  Blend for only 10 seconds
or place in a mixing bowl and mix well.
In another bowl combine salt, baking soda, allspice, cinnamon, flour and chocolate chips
Pour the pumpkin mixture into bowl of dry ingredients.  Mix by hand just until dry ingredients are moistened.
Spoon into prepared muffin pans, filling each cup 3/4 full
Bake 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
It makes a dozen muffins.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Nature Takes Its Course

We had a pretty quiet weekend.  We did take a trip with my dad to visit his brother.  We have an interesting family.  My dad (almost 89) has a brother who is 65 years old.  I was born before my uncle.  It was a very nice time and dad was so appreciative.  He was so looking forward to seeing family members, but a few didn't show up.  Family is very important to my dad and he felt hurt that they chose not to come. I told him that we made the effort, and we can't be responsible for others.  He prays every night for everyone in the family.  It takes him over 30 minutes and mentions everyone by name in his prayers.  A very touching thing to do, but......

today is a new day and Fall is definitely here.  The pine needles are falling like rain.  We call it pine straw and it makes wonderful mulch. 

Pine needles falling on the old garage roof.

Pine needles falling on the sidewalk.

Pine needles covering the grass.

With fall comes a fluctuation in daytime and night time temperatures.  It can be 80 degrees in the daytime and 40's at night.  When this happens we get foggy conditions.  Even the fog is pretty.

Last night as the sun was going down, I noticed this.  A layer of fog hovering over what is left of our pond.  It looks like ghostly spirits watching over us.