Exploring Fabius Township and St. Joseph County, Michigan, with side trips all over this Great Lakes state

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Objects may be larger than they appear

Any that's what the blurry bit in the upper right corner of the rear view mirror says.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Good morning!

Greetings from our bear cub up a tree contemplating his world, our corner of Fabius Township.  He is another example of chain saw art and his creator lives in the next county over, Cass County, just west of here.

For history buffs, Cass County is named after Lewis Cass, a governor of the Michigan Territory from 1813 to 1831.  He was a military man who fought in the war of 1812, a member of Andrew Jackson's cabinet as Secretary of War, ambassador to France, Senator from Michigan, and the defeated Democratic nominee in the presidential election of 1848.  Turns out there are many places in the United States named after him according to this Wikipedia article.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

We bag our own!

We moseyed over to Corey Lake Orchards today to get pears and eggplants (and also some of the first apples just picked this week) when Beth saw me with my camera.  She asked me if I would take a picture of the guys bagging these onions.  People are asking, she said, where the bags of onions hanging in the market are from.  "Well, from here!  We bag our own onions!"  So here is the photo of the guys finishing up bagging onions for the day.  That is Beth on the right below and her arm and hand holding the onions above.  The market is full to bursting so don't miss out on the great fresh food here in our own backyard.  Next week Beth will have a special on tomatoes that are extremely plentiful this year.  Stay tuned for the date.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Cloud walkers

A caveman and his turtle cross the sky headed I know not where.
More skies for your pleasure and amusement at Skywatch Friday.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

a very furry fellow

My eye thought this was a bee on the sunflower but the camera eye caught this furry fellow.  Is he a fly?  Let's not be fussy or feud over his or her identity but faithfully follow those funnel-like wings -- to where I am not sure.
Follow this link to further fantasias in the key of F on ABC Wednesday.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Milkweed and friend

Another stage in the milkweed saga is reached with the formation of fresh green pods which have attracted a visitor other than myself!   Less than a month ago it was the butterflies who loved that milkweed when it was in full bloom.  And way back in March we knew these milkweed when they were still potential

Sunday, August 22, 2010

a doggy bridge in Three Rivers

You may recall my lament last week about lack of bridges in Fabius, so for this week's Sunday Bridges we wandered out of the township into downtown Three Rivers.  This pedestrian bridge crosses  the Rocky River, which has left the township half a mile back and is headed now for its junction with the St. Joseph River. The St. Joe then heads south for South Bend, Indiana, and then north again to empty itself into Lake Michigan at the twin cities of St. Joseph and Benton Harbor.  And it is the St. Joe that names this county in Michigan and South Bend's county as well. 

We were in town to participate in the Animal Rescue Fund's Doggy Wash.  ARF is a dedicated group of animal lovers who work to ensure the spaying of cats and dogs in the county.  Willow took part in this annual event for the first time and then got to wander the river's edge and cross the bridge.  Behind the bridge are the building backs of Three Rivers' one-block downtown district. 

With a cup of coffee in hand, explore more bridges at Louis la Vache's Sunday Bridges.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Sunset on Superior

This is the spectacular sunset we viewed from our cabin at Lake Shore Cabins in Silver City, Michigan, toward the western end of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  Waves crashing on the log strewn beach and stormy clouds scuttling northeast and a red, red sun kept us on the beach for a long time.  It was mid-September last year and this shot was taken about 8 pm.

Lake Superior is on our minds as Gene made final arrangements this week for our September trip, booking a room at the Straits View Motel in St. Ignace in order to break the trip to Shelter Bay into two days.  We have not stayed here in long while because the rooms reeked of smoke, but new owners have redone the rooms and promise a less rancid smell.  We will "dine" on pasties from Suzy's at a picnic table behind the motel and watch the Straits of Mackinac and THE Michigan bridge as we do.  The trip to Shelter Bay can be done in one day, but it is a very long day as a result.  It is close to seven hours to the bridge, the Mighty Mac, from Three Rivers.  As you might have guessed, I photograph the bridge at every annual crossing, coming and going!

Hope you have the time to visit more skies of our world at Skywatch Friday.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

White Pine Pinecone

White Pine, the state tree of Michigan, Maine and Ontario, are planted on the hill above us and every (or almost every night) we walk the edge of the plantation that is part of the Hermitage, the Mennonite retreat center next door to us.  Yesterday this newly-forming beauty beckoned and here is its portrait SOOC (straight out of camera).   The muted green of the background gives a mysterious air to this native that once covered much of Michigan.   In researching the formation of a pinecone, I discovered this is stage 1 (pine cone in three stages).

The largest stand of old growth White Pine remaining in the lower peninsula is at Hartwick Pines State Park.  There are several locations in the upper peninsula -- Huron Mountains, Estivant Pines, Porcupine Mountains, and the Sylvania Wilderness Area in the Ottawa National Forest.   They are impress giants, not Sequoias, but good enough!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


Edible -- probably not.  I don't mean to be evasive but it seemed to come down to this:  posting the question of eating a fungus or just posting everything.  Why is an E word making me edgy?  There are eggplant aplenty right now though elephants aren't in sight.  Extremes of weather are everywhere this summer and could be exploited. Even Mrs. N's (whose eccentric imagination extruded ABC Wednesday) encouragement wasn't helping.   I found myself finding excuses, muttering expletives, not my usual easy extemporizing on ABC Wednesday, unable to exert myself and execute a good posting for E day.  Why this lack of excitement for E?  Why not extol its extraordinary virtues as a vowel?  I talked to Eugene about it and he exclaimed, such an excruciating lack of exuberance over E!  I can find no explanation for my dearth of enthusiasm.  So I exit this posting with this exhortation: Visit ABC Wednesday for more exemplary E's!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Monday is laundry day

Monday is traditionally the day Midwesterners (and lots of others?) do laundry and I have recently installed good old fashioned outdoor clotheslines as a gesture toward energy savings (by not running that electricity hog, the clothes dryer).   And yesterday was a perfect day, sunny and windy, for drying clothes outdoors.  So why was I able to take this photo today early this Tuesday morning?!    Basically, the answer is trying to do too much in one day: to Three Rivers, then home to wash and hang out the clothes, prepare for dinner guests by cooking and cleaning (just a little of the latter), take down the dry sheets and make the bed..... and by the time the guests left, the laundry remaining on the lines was wet once more, this time from the heavy dew.  It was worth it, however, to see the colorful clothes in the early morning sun.  Life's small pleasures that brighten a day, if we only can notice them.

Back to the evening festivities for just a moment.  Gene did a Gazpacho from our plethora of tomatoes -- I am not complaining -- using our friend Claudia's "absolutely authentic" recipe from Barcelona.  And I fixed a Watermelon, Feta and Black Olive Salad from Nigella Lawson that I had heard on NPR last week.  Lots of time spent taking the seeds out of the watermelon, but it was well worth the effort.  Add whole flat parsley leaves, chopped mint leaves, red onion soaked in lime juice and olive oil to the ingredients of the title and you have an incredibly tasty and unusual salad that will cool you off on a hot summer day.  Here is the watermelon recipe and several other "stay cool dishes" for you: Nigella Lawson on NPR.

Since you have come this far, let me recommend another pleasure for you: a film about Piotr Anderszewski, called Unquiet Traveler.  It was the reason why we his fans gathered last night. He is a Gilmore Artist, whom we have heard play several times at the biennial Gilmore Keyboard Festival in Kalamazoo.   So you too can see and hear a part of this beautiful film about Anderszewski and the music he loves and plays, here is an excerpt from an Unquiet Traveler You Tube.  I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

Monday, August 16, 2010

New day

The sun rises but the temperatures are not -- 60 degrees this morning and the world seems clearer and less cluttered.  Certainly one less drain on the energy we need to face the day's challenges. 

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Bridges to the bins

At this large farm in Fabius Township, the pipes from the elevators to the bins could be considered bridges...... in the broadest sense of the word.  Not for cars or trains or people but for grain!   I hope Louis la Vache is feeling broadminded today as I submit this photo to the Sunday Bridges meme.  Why a township with so much water has so few bridges over water is beyond me.  My guess is that because our creeks were not mighty, metal culverts were used to channel the water with the road built over the culvert.  A very utilitarian solution though not a very aesthetic one.

But the real problem was too much water.  In the first decades of the 1800's, the incoming Yankee farmers found the land in southern Michigan to be basically swamp and wetlands, with occasional oak openings.  It needed draining to make tillable fields for growing crops.  As a result, the office of drain commissioner dates to to 1837, when first bill passed by the Michigan Legislature was a drainage act and the creation of drain commissioners at the township level. In 1897, the drain commission was made a county office elected every four years during the Presidential elections.  For more on this unique Michigan office, see this Wikipedia article: Drain Commissioner.  Because the drain commissioner can levy tax assessments for needed construction or repair of drains, it is an often very controversial post. 

Enough arcane Michigan local history, for real bridges please visit Sunday Bridges hosted by Louis la Vache proprietor of the Holy Cow Coffee Company.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Pontoon reflections for the weekend

A pontoon apartment, the first I have ever seen!  And it is docked right across the street from the Happy Landing whose beverage ads are in the background.  I have only known open air pontoons from which you swim or fish or just drift about with cooling drink in hand on Corey Lake.  Several years back nearby Long Lake had a notorious pontoon boat known every Friday evening as the Martini Wagon. 

More even cooler reflections can be found at Weekend Reflections.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Hazy, lazy skies of summer

I took this photo from the pier at the boat launch and had to obey the order not to swim here -- but it was oh, so tempting.  Despite the haze of heat over Corey Lake (right across the road from yesterday's Harwood Lake)  you can still see the blue skies and fluffy clouds of one more very hot day.  In the foreground are a couple of empty swimmin rafts/ floating docks, but in the far distance are manned sail boats seeking breezes at midday.
 Find more summer skies at Skywatch Friday.
Corey is the biggest of our many Fabius lakes with two summer youth camps and more than enough cottages which attract folks from Indiana and Illinois and beyond.  As a child I attended one of the camps run by the South Bend, Indiana, YMCA, never knowing that one day I would be back not as a visitor but as a resident.  What once used to be small summer cottages empty in the winter are rebuilt now into year-round homes.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Escaping the heat

This is a scene from Harwood Lake in Cass County on the west side of County Line Rd and technically no longer in Fabius Township, but the water from Harwood flows into Corey Lake in Fabius and St. Joseph County.  Technically, Louis la Vache should let me submit a photo of the road since it is the bridge over the intersection of these two lakes.  Today we would never fill in the wetlands between the lakes for a roadway.

In any event, Willow and I checked it out today, one more scorcher in this  summer of scorchers, and found this pontoon of "folks" cruising around the lake looking for the cool breeze of two.  I had no idea the driver had company until Willow attracted the attention of his passengers, first one, then two, and finally three of them interested in the Golden wading in the water at the boat launch.

Why were we even out and about today?!  Because Miss Willow had to go the vet for what I feared was bloating and a blockage and turned out to be a tummy ache to be treated with Pepto-Bismol.  The major symptom: refusing treats since dinner the evening before.  Truly that is a serious symptom in a Golden!  By the time we got to the vet at 10 am, she was feeling much better and so we did a tour of the more southern regions of the township as we headed home.  Stayed tuned for more photos of that tour.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A dog and the daylillies

Dang it!  I've done it again, daring to bring you more displays of the Willow, with this dose disguised as a duo of D's:  dog and daylillies.  Both make me delirious and neither are deleterious.  All this doggeral duly designed to delight the denizens of ABC Wednesday!

Georgia O'Keefe's tomato

It's OK to do another take, right?

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Rose of Sharon

Following Dave's example (his blog is Hidden Realms), here is a blossom and buds from the Rose of Sharon,   SOOC --straight out of the camera. 
To revel in more beautiful blossoms, visit Today's Flowers.

Pearl Harbor Memorial Bridge, Annapolis

Digging around in my photo archives in order not to be left out of Louis' Sunday Bridges once more, I came across photos from May 2006 when we traveled east for a wedding in Baltimore.  We had time to explore Annapolis and here is one of the places we visited, the Maryland World War II Memorial, situated above the Severn River and the bridge into Annapolis.  The bridge was dedicated as a Pearl Harbor Memorial just last December 8, 2009, so it was still simply the Severn River Bridge.  Here is a slide show of the dedication ceremony from Hometown Annapolis.  We stopped and strolled around the extensive grounds of this memorial, impressive on its own and then you add the view of the bridge and Annapolis across the river.

Here is the best description with photos that I have found about the Memorial, The Historical Marker Database.    Here is a site that shows all the plaques at the World War II Memorial and proclaims itself a guide to interesting sights all over the world,  Waymarking.com.

Discovering this photo has brought back many memories of that trip -- first long trip in the Prius and it was nearing 60 mpg in the mountains, the happy bride and groom and their friends and family from the US and Mexico, great seafood, the chance to see Baltimore and the places where The Wire was made.  You may visit the bride and groom at their respective websites: Carla is an internationally know opera singer (Carla Dirlikov.com) and Michael, also a magnificent singer, a Philadelphia restoration carpenter (WMG Restoration).  Talk about talented young people!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Northern Lights on Weekend Reflections

Dan Urbanski had a studio in Silver City just east of the Porcupines and was an extraordinary  nature photographer.  His photo of the aurora borealis hangs in the "room with a view" and reflects the light of day a little farther south of Lake Superior.  View the original without reflection at Quietly Wild.  The original was taken when Dan was artist-in-residence at Isle Royale National Park.

Urbanski's love and nature and art has been honored by Friends of the Porkies who support the annual Dan Urbanski Artist-in-Residence program at the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park in the UP of Michigan.   In fact, Dan was the founder of the Friends, an organization open to all who the Porkies and which sponsors Folk Schools and Music Festivals at the park.  For more information visit their website: http://www.porkies.org/index.html.

For more reflected light, visit Weekend Reflections at its founder's blog, Newton Area Photo.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Skywatch Friday: what is that thing up there?

 It is the tallest sunflower I have ever grown or seen.  It is so high it could be the sun itself!
How high is it? Probably 12 feet.  So I guess in the end it can't pass for the sun, not quite high enough, but it is a beautiful sunflower.
For more sunny skies, go over and visit Skywatch Friday!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Just one of the many offspring from this year's hatch at our house -- carndinals, grossbeaks, finches, blackbirds, towhees, and countless ones I cannot identify.   I captured a young grossbeak with its father a couple weeks ago and now this newbie cardinal who looks a little scruffy still.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

ah, the colors of summer eating

The colors are as scrumptious as the concoctions you can create with this summer cornucopia!  There are tomatoes (from our garden) and summer squashes from our CSA*  farmer Dale, and limes (from the grocery but essential to the quintessential summer cooler, gin and tonic.  Must keep the quinine coming to prevent malaria in Michigan!).
*Explore more about CSA at  Community Supported Agriculture.
Discovered on my tour of C words this week that my photographic composition contains more C's than I even knew:  a zucchini is also called a courgette.   According to Wikipedia, "Zucchini is the more common name in North America, Australia, Germany and Italy (zucchina/e), while courgette is more commonly used in the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Ireland, France, the Netherlands, Portugal and South Africa."  And the scientific name for the summer squashes is Cucurbita pepo.

On the wall behind my stilllife is a print by Ruth Conklin of Sleeping Bear Bay, one of our favorite camping sites in the lower peninsula of Michigan.

Get crazy with more C words at ABC Wednesday!

Vote today!

Yes, it is primary election day in Michigan and off we went to vote at the Fabius Township Hall.  (You see I do leave the meadow now and then!)

The big race is the one for governor since the current governor Democrat Jennifer Granholm is term- limited.   Five Republicans and two Democrats are vying to run in November.  No longer do you have to declare which party's ballot you want -- both are on the same ballot -- but signs everywhere in the hall declare, "Do not vote for more than one party!"     With our unemployment rate still the highest in the country, the slogan from all candidate is "I will create jobs!" or "As my record shows, I will be best at creating jobs."  One group will cut taxes to accomplish this and the other will rely more on government incentives to businesses.   Too bad that electioneering makes sloganeering the primary way in which we "discuss" solutions to complicated issues like this.

Our township hall is a recycled church of the Jehovah Witnesses whose congregation built a new one in Three Rivers.  Before that the hall was the recycled Grange building, which unfortunately stands empty today as does the original small one room township hall.   Monthly township meeting were held in the Grange and the township offices were in the one room building.  It was a visit to the past, probably the early 20th century, to go there and pay your property taxes.  Now everything is under one roof.  By the way the hall is on our very own Broadway which runs east-west through Three Rivers and Fabius Township, with only bright lights those of the Meijer store, a Michigan grocery/big box store once called Thrifty Acres. 

Monday, August 2, 2010

Love that milkweed!

If you enlarge the photo (just click on it), you will see that the butterflies have a little buddy with them -- look on the mid, right edge of the photo.  I only saw him when I download the photo!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Now this is bright!

Wow, I muttered, when this photo downloaded from the camera, my new Nikon.  Who saw that pink in the center of those New Guinea Impatiens?  Not you, I replied.  Right after a rain, these flowers are radiating color galore.  Imported from the tropics to the temperate zone and not an invasive species -- I give you the perfect potted, not to mention psychedelic, summer plant to cheer your day.

Speaking of color galore, try visiting City Daily Photo for all the responses to the August theme of Bright Colors.   This marvelous site inspired me to begin Fabius Day by Day.  It will give you an amazing trip around the world through the World Wide Web which is less exhausting than a plane or boat or bike or foot!
Click here to view thumbnails for all participants