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

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Couch kitty for ABC Wednesday

This kitty has a knack for finding comfort, not that I am kvetching.  If only she were (k)nodding off and (k)napping on a kilim rug,  my K-blog would not have gone kaflooey.  But the kitty, Miss Abbey Rose, is a knock-out, isn't she!
Enjoy less kerflooey K-blogs on Mrs. N and company's ABC Wednesday.  And take the time to kibitz about them in the comment section!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Mary and Joe's beautiful eggs

Friday was a banner day for Mary and Joe's chickens -- all 22 laid an egg that day.  This is a portion of them Mary brought me when we had tea and a confab that afternoon.  I dedicate this photo to the girls at Mary and Joe's and the girls at Mrs. Nesbitt's.  Nothing better tasting than eggs from free range chickens!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Reflecting shadows

Two for one: Weekend Reflections and Shadow Shot Sunday!   A handmade kaleidoscope on the cherry table in the eastern nook of the house gives color to the shadows of the lamp and rosemary plant

Yes, the sun is shining again today, and to help you understand why I seem to harp on sunny days here is a statistic from today's Kalamazoo Gazette.  The average number of sunny days a year in Southwest Michigan is between 83 and 116.  Yikes, nowhere near even half!  Hmmmm, maybe I should count up how many times my blog has featured sun in the past year.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

How we feel about a sunny day

Willow and I took a long walk on this sunny day, and as I started to flag she was still roaring to go.  Still no real green in those old grasses, but soon we hope.  Again this morning the temperature is below 20,  but it will be sunny again today!

Update on yesterday's crocus: somebody ate it last night! 

Friday, March 25, 2011


Brrrrr! this crocus is saying.   Despite the sun, our temperatures are starting the day much below average for this time in March.  20, not 30, or even 35, which are the averages according to the Channel 8 weatherman.  So this little guy seems uncertain about opening up just yet.  Yesterday, the day time temperatures made it over freezing, but just.  But that was OK for a long walk in the woods with Willow.  Tomorrow I will show you how she is feeling about the sunny days.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Super moon downsizing

It is a week later and the super moon of 2011 in on the wane this morning.  So sorry to see it downsizing.  The moon will not be this close to the earth for another 18 years, 2029.  Hmmmm, wonder if I will be here for it?!

For more skies from around the world, please visit Skywatch Friday.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Searching for j's on a monument

There is trinity of J's juxtaposed in this monument to the French explorer, the Rene-Robert Cavalier, Sieur de La Salle -- jabot, Joseph. Jesuit.     First, around LaSalle's neck is a jabot, a  piece of lace or cloth, very popular in the 17th and 18th centuries.  Second is Joseph, as in St. Joseph, the patron saint of New France and the name of the town where this bronze plaque is joined to a glacial boulder found in the river of the same name.    And last is Jesuit.  For LaSalle had left the Jesuit order to travel to New France, marry, and become famous as an explorer.  About that jabot -- did he wear it as he sailed through the St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes and down the St. Joseph River.

This monument is on the shores of Lake Michigan, just a couple blocks south of the St. Joseph River which divides the two towns of St. Joseph and Benton Harbor in the southwest corner of Michigan.  The river also flows through Three Rivers in the county of St. Joseph where there is a monument to a Jesuit Mission in the 17th century.  LaSalle continued down the St. Joseph River to what is now South Bend, Indiana, on his way to the Kankakee River and the Mississippi.
Find more jovial, jaundiced and/or juicy explorations of J at ABC Wednesday.

Monday, March 21, 2011

early days of Spring

The swans are back in the marshes that line Coon Hollow Road.  The red branches behind the grasses are either brambles or red dogwood (osier) beginning to come alive for another season.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Big Moon Shadow

Our big moon night was a little too hazy  with thin clouds hanging around, so here it is with a shadow or two to set it off.  The night before it was dazzling, but I thought I would wait for the full-moon version.  Mistake!  First day of Spring resolution: no more camera-procrastination.

For much more intriguing shadows, visit Hey Harriet's Shadow Shot Sunday.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

An acquired or possibly gene-based taste -- the Irish pipes

More music for you -- the only way to celebrate St. Patrick's day.  This is a video about the Irish pipes (Uilleann pipes) and one of the most famous pipers, Finbar Furey, with views of the west coast of Ireland and a visit with a pipes maker.

And here is my favorite Irish group, from my own hometown of South Bend, Indiana, Kennedy's Kitchen.  This is a promotional video, but it introduces you to the members and gives you a sample of their wonderful music-making.  One afternoon when they were performing at the Carnegie Center in Three Rivers, I did my knees in doing the jig to their great playing.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Ireland and Irish music for ABC Wednesday

Indulge me, please!  It is but an instant before THE celebration and the imbibing of certain liquids called whiskey in Gaelic  (translated, the water of life)  can be initiated.   And I invite you to include Irish music in your day-- dance and sing! 

A few of my favorites:
First, the incomparable Sinead O'Connor and The Chieftains sing the Foggy Dew about the Irish Easter Rebellion of 1916.

Second, at my father's wake, we danced jigs and sang this song several times -- Van Morrison sings Marie's Wedding live in Scotland in 1988, but you can find it also on the Irish Heartbeat from The Chieftains and Van Morrison.

And from the same Irish Heartbeat album, the Star of the County Down

And from the group who brought Irish music to America in the 1960's, here are the Clancy Brothers singing Finnegan's Wake, a particular favorite of mine, the source of James Joyce's title of the same name.

Monday, March 14, 2011

One in, one out

The cardinal about to land and the house finch off to the nearby bush.  Still working to catch my birds in flight, with a camera.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Lake MIchigan ice on Shadow Shot Sunday

An amazing scene is a Lake Michigan beach when the winter wind and cold has sculpted massive structures of sand and ice where once you lounged on your beach towel.  So we drove the 45 miles from home to St. Joseph on Friday to see them.  I was certain given the amount of ice we still had that there would be a shore filled with these sculptures.  This is it -- the ONE remaining example with the wreckage of the sand/snow fence beginning to emerge at Silver Beach.   The front loaders were working to move the migrated sands from the parking lots and road along the beach back in place for summer.

Visit warmer shadows on Shadow Shot Sunday.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

March is a green month, particularly on the ground

Moisture, either in the form of rain or snow and lots of it, has brought green back to our woods.  The light snow was melting quickly and turning to water almost before our eyes at the base of a tree where the moss was "blooming."    We did this walk twice yesterday so I could bring my camera the second time for close ups of these hints of spring.  However, the path up the hill facing north is still impossible to climb because of ice.

Friday, March 11, 2011

sky watchers

Yesterday's late winter was a somber gray.  This view of the angles of the brown roof struck me as symbolic of the day.  With only very small white flakes of snow falling,  the satellite dish and tired, old sunflowers reach for the sky, seeking more lively scenes and the return of color to the northern world. 

For skies of more color and life, go to Skywatch Friday!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Who is that masked man?

This was last Sunday when the sun was shining bright -- not today when the snows are flying again but not too seriously.  The snow and ice are still clinging to the north slopes and the shaded areas of the woods.  Two pathways can only be tread, still, in yak-traks-covered boots.  

So birdwatching is de rigueur from the kitchen windows.  I am trying to catch the birds in flight but am also coming up with little tableaux like this inquiring house finch and cardinal.  Is that sun flower seed shell falling from his beak?

Yesterday Willow and I tried to follow the cry of the Sand Hill Crane.  He or she was across the road, up a hill, and try as we might, he kept himself unseen but heard, oh so close.  We came back home and heard him once more, and then, could see him flying overhead and to the south.  No photos of him, just the sky where he had been!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Harbinger of Spring! for ABC Wednesday

Because of this harbinger of spring, the Snow Drop, my heart is no longer heavy!  I am able to horse around on this ABC Wednesday and cry, “hip, hip, hooray!” as, here in the northern hinterlands, we head out of winter. 

Homonyms, both harry (and hairy like Hobbit feet), hurry around in my head.   Honey dew melons and honey-do lists.   The hoary question, “how humorous need I be to hit your humerus?”   So many aitches hurtle, hustle, hover and holler their way through me until I am high on haitches!

Heavens to Betsy!  hells bells!  my mother was often heard to say, depending on how harried we five had made her feel.   Heavens to Murgatroyd!  said Snagglepuss in the 1960’s cartoon.   Gilbert and Sullivan used the name many times in their 1880’s play, Ruddigore.  (see http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/heavens-to-murgatroyd.html).   Holy Toledo! how this H-search leaves me feeling hassled!   A hideous horde of haitches have and hold hostage my brain!  Hoist on my own petard!  

Before I hide out, can you handle more H's?  How about horns from Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass, A Taste of Honey?* 

And in Hamburg, the Beatles version of Taste of Honey was most popular! Here it is from the 1963 album, Please Please Me.

* a little bit of history: Taste of Honey was on the 1965 album Whipped Cream and Other Delights, my favorite dance party music in those years. The title song, Whipped Cream, was written by the great New Orleans musician Allen Toussaint under the pseudonym of Naomi Neville.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011


The house finches are so happy with the milder weather!
According to scientists, the total House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus) population across North America is between 267 million and 1.4 billion individuals.  Whew!  Once confined to the western United States and Mexico, they were sold in Long Island in 1940 as "Hollywood Finches" and guess what?  They escaped their cages!  Learn lots more at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sunday Shadow Shot

The sun came out today warming everything in its path, in or out.  Here it highlights a cherry chair made by local Amish and Mennonite craftsman.  The cherry desk is much older having been made by my great-great-uncle, Henry Stuckey.

For more light and shadows, visit Sunday Shadow Shot.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Blown ice!

The ice is gone, except on the north sides, and more than half of the snow has disappeared.   The first Snow Drops are up, but I am still fascinated by the ice and the many forms it took over the last two weeks.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Seeking summer skies on Skywatch Friday

And I can only find them in old photos or in this wonderful watercolor by Kalamazoo artist, Susan Badger.  This is a photo from the exhibit at the Carnegie Center for the Arts in 2007 of her experiments with small works done on site in northern Michigan.   Exquisite works that help me dream of sunny skies!  For other skies filled with a sun that is not a dream, visit Skywatch Friday.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Goodness, gracious great Golden dog!

Here is the true gem of this blog for G-day, Willow, aka Lady GG (for great girl or good girl or goofy girl) and also Gold Feather with whom we have been bonded for just over a year now.  We are grateful to the Great Lakes Golden Retriever Rescue group and the patron saints of Goldens in St. Joseph County, Lynda and Tom Molter, for granting us the gift of her company.

Now grant me leave to give in to the temptation for doggerel (no offense, Willow) with which I have been greeting you during Round 8 of Mrs. Nesbitt's ABC Wednesday!

First, gather glittering words to build
the books of Ginsberg and Graham Greene,
also Germaine Greer, the so-glib guild.
They grant us visions of glamorous gams,
a gaffer in galoshes and the gentle geranium
midst gruff goats and gamboling lambs. 

Gravy and gulumki help grow our girth,
Garbage and gardens galvanize the earth.
What guarantees this grim verse mirth?
Gadzooks!  how much is a gag order worth!

And in case you are not already grumbling, here is Goodness Gracious Great Balls of Fire from my goofy teenage years when we gathered at the 5 & 10 to greet the latest rock and rollers who are now old geezers! 

Jerry Lee Lewis - Great balls of fire
Uploaded by rocky91. - Music videos, artist interviews, concerts and more.

my favorite part of town for CDP March Theme Day

We are in the city of Three Rivers just across the street from Fabius Township and you are in my favorite part of downtown.  Smiling at us is the Carnegie Caterpillar who inhabits the grasses on the north side of the Carnegie Center for the Arts.  The caterpillar and the outdoor gallery were created by children in the Summer Full of Art program in 2006.   

The Carnegie library was built in 1904 and became an arts center in 1980 when a local group of women led the fight to keep the old library building from being demolished.  The radiators are from another historic building in downtown, the Riviera Theater, which was being renovated and the old steam radiators had to go.  The art teachers, Kathy Bingaman and Kim Glessner, with their students recycled them into this marvelous creation.  Another class came up with the gallery showing the elements of art. 

Click here to view thumbnails for all participants