Sometimes It Snows In April

It was snowing when I took this picture of the daffodils this morning.  Though you can’t actually tell from the photo, I was being covered in big snow flakes.  Most of what came down didn’t stay initially.  It did however, accumulate and stick more as the evening came.

Everyone was complaining because it is snowing in April. I can only imagine that when Prince wrote the song “Sometimes It Snows In April” it was because people were acting surprised about a weather event that has likely occurred a thousand times through out the course of history and it got on his nerves.  Probably not.

It is not unusual to see snowfall in the month of April.  It also has been known to snow in October, but I don’t want to get ahead of myself.  Enjoy the white on the yellows, reds and pinks of Springtime flowers and blue skies. It’s an opportunity.

These daffodils were not planted by me. I am not exactly sure where they came from. They popped up along the fence in the back of my property. I have lived in my house f  or almost 7 years and this is the first time they have made an appearance.

I am glad that they came.  Aren’t they interesting?

 

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How I Discovered the Pileated Woodpecker

It all started this past week when I discovered damage to the mirror on the passenger side of my car. It looked like someone had either come along and punched it or shot at it with a BB gun. We have a couple of kids in my neighborhood that I suspected of causing the damage, but I never said anything to their parents.  As much as it irked me, I let it go.

I am glad that I didn’t say anything because a few days later, I discovered that no one was responsible for the damage to my mirror. At least not a human being. The culprit was actually surprising.

This is the damage to my mirror. It’s cracked pretty good and even missing pieces. What was more impressive is that the mirror itself was pushed in and down and I had to readjust it back it its original position.

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I am a member of an app called Next Door. Next door is a social networking tool that connects you with people from your own neighborhood. There are several categories or topics to chose from.  Of these many topics, one of them is “Crime”.

I saw a post made by a neighbor about vandalism to his vehicle. He posted a photograph of his own side mirror that had been damaged and he wanted to know if anyone else had their vehicles vandalized.  The damage to his mirror looked very similar to mine.

Someone else piped up and said that they had witnessed a Pileated Woodpecker attacking its own image in the side mirror of their truck. They went outside and chased it away but it was too late, they too had damage.  They explained that the birds were aggressive towards other males during mating season, which was now. The bird believed it was fighting another male.

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The Pileated Woodpecker is the largest woodpecker that lives in our area of northern Indiana. They measure roughly 16  inches from head to tail and have a wingspan of almost 29 inches. They are usually recognized by the flaming red crest on their head. The Pileated Woodpecker is the second largest woodpecker in North America, second to the Ivory Billed Woodpecker, which is nearly extinct.

The Ivory Billed Woodpecker species is listed as critically endangered and possibly extinct by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. The American Birding Association lists the Ivory Billed Woodpecker as a class 6 species, a category it defines as “definitely or probably extinct”

I’m an optimist.

As the day went on more and more neighbors were popping in with their own experience. They had either seen the bird or had damage to their own vehicle too.  Neighbors in the know suggested putting grocery bags over the mirrors or fold them in to avoid attacks.

Later in the week, the St. Joseph County Parks had posted a photo to their Facebook of a tree that had been pecked pretty good by a Pileated Woodpecker. They explained that they will excavate deep into the wood of dead trees to eat nests of carpenter ants.

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Photo courtesy of Audubon.com

Quite honestly, as much as I love nature, animals and the outdoors, I had never paid much attention to the woodpeckers and the  different varieties. What an interesting way for me to discover them.

While I haven’t been lucky enough to actually see the one that’s terrorizing local vehicle owners, I have heard him. He’s been hanging out somewhere nearby as I’ve heard him several times in the mornings.

They really are beautiful. To learn more about the Pileated Woodpecker, visit Adubon.com

 

First And Final Camping Trip 2017

This year was incredibly busy and it seemed like my days never matched up to give me an opportunity to get out and camp and hike as often as I would like. Last year, by July, I had already gone camping 6 times. I hiked more often than that.

Sometimes in life, you have to take what you can get.

I completely understand the bumper sticker that reads “A bad day fishing beats a good day at work”.

A bad weekend camping also pretty much beats a good day anywhere else. Even if it’s cold and raining half the time and you have to will yourself to be there because it beats anything else that you have going on.

We tried. That’s all I can say.

I’ve known my friend, Chalisa since childhood. We are both equine enthusiasts, her a little bit more than me these days. We started planning about three weeks in advance to go camping for the weekend and to take the horses with us.

 

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Chalisa and I

 

Who plans a camping trip on Friday the 13th? We do. I was in charge of picking up the groceries for our dinners. I couldn’t resist buying a large package of chicken that retailed at $6.66. I dubbed this “The Devil’s Chicken” and claimed to everyone that I was using reverse psychology on the universe to avoid our pending murders at the state park.

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I’m known for my weirdness.

As only Murphy’s Law would have it, it was gorgeous all week up to the day of the trip and then the rain was to move in. Not just a little rain, but thunder and lightning on top of heavy downpours. And wind. We can’t forget the wind.

We weren’t going to let that stop us though!

I was finally able to make it to the campsite in the horseman’s campground at Potato Creek State Park. Chalisa was already there getting the horses settled in and our campsite squared away. She likes to stay in her trailer while I prefer the confines of my Kelty Trail Ridge 3 tent. It’s glorious.

Since we knew that the rain was coming, we set up a canopy over the picnic table.  We enjoyed some drinks and laughs while we caught up with our lives and gossip. There’s always plenty to talk about.

We were both exhausted from our day and turned in. We were blessed with a pack of coyotes calling very close to the campground. It was eerie and fantastic all at the same time.

We were up early and enjoyed a breakfast made up of coffee,  bacon, sausage, eggs and fried Honey Crisp apples.  The rain seemed to hold off a little while to allow the sun to peek through the clouds.  It was short lived.

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We didn’t waste a lot of time getting our horses saddled up so we could head out.   We got about 4 hours of riding in before the thunder and lightning arrived and we had to get off of the trail. It was even nice to just hang out in my tent and read a book.

It was about suppertime and we were contemplating if we were going to let the weather win or if we were going to stick it out all night in hopes that the morning might deliver some better news.

The radar told us that cold, wind and rain would be what we would have to look forward to. Other campers were already loading up and heading home.  I joked that they were quitters knowing that we would likely also be quitters before the night was over.

We decided to at least make our Devil’s Chicken for dinner before making the call to go or stay.  I wrapped our chicken quarters in the aluminum foil along with the other ingredients and placed them into the Dutch Oven.I had never used a Dutch Oven before and I was impressed by it. I didn’t think it would heat up as quickly or as hot as it did.

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We enjoyed our dinner and the conversation.  At about 7 o’clock when the rain and wind was picking up we decided to go ahead and call it and head home. The majority of the people that had managed to last the day were now starting to pack up and head out.

We were disappointed but at least we got to go out for a bit and enjoy our time together and with the horses. Just that one night and the day spent out on the trail was enough to recharge the batteries a little bit.

I’d do it again.

In other news. I hung my Kelty Trail Ridge 3 tent up to dry with a fan blowing on it.  It took almost 3 hours to completely dry. That’s how soaked everything was.  I also managed to drop my wifi hotspot on the ground at the campsite. I went back the next morning and found it buried under some leaves.  I was amazed when I discovered that it still worked. I dried it out and I am using it as my primary internet connection as I type this post.

Good times. Ain’t we lucky we got em?

 

Prayers for Delphi- Double Homicide Of Two Teen Girls In A Small Town

On February 13, 2017, fourteen year old Liberty German and her friend, thirteen year old  Abigail Williams were dropped off near the Delphi Historic Trail System near the town of Delphi, Indiana.  Delphi s approximately 60 miles north and west of Indianapolis.

The girls had planned to hike in the area and were to be picked up later in the afternoon. They failed to arrive at the predesignated area. They were missing.  Twenty four hours later, their bodies were discovered in the woods, along the shore of Deer Creek. They had been murdered.

Liberty had posted some photographs to her Snapchat. One of the photo’s was of a strange man that they had seen in the area. It is unclear to me how many snaps were taken or if there was any further explanation from Liberty as to who this man was.  Liberty also managed to get audio of this man’s voice.

You can find more information, including the audio clip of the strange man’s voice on the media release from the Indiana State Police. The Indiana State Police have posted the man’s image and his voice for everyone to see and hear in hopes that someone might recognize this monster..

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I wish Liberty would have dialed 911. Just call and scream at a dispatcher.  Scream where you are, if you can, and for help. A good dispatcher will wear themselves out tracking you down. Literally, will  wear themselves out until they exhaust all of their efforts in doing so.

I wish we could have found them sooner. I  wish a lot of wishes.

Liberty was a brilliant girl. I can speculate that perhaps she knew that they were in serious trouble and that they weren’t going to be able to get out of it.  I can speculate that she sensed this and she did what she could to help us find the monster that took them from us.

To quote Sgt. Slocum of the Indiana State Police, “Libby is a hero,”

I am so angry that this has happened.  These girls should have been free to explore and to go on an adventure without the fear of a monster lurking in the brush. Just like I did when I was a girl. I would roam the countryside from sun up to sundown, without a care in the world.

All they wanted to do was go hiking.

I am confident that the person who is responsible for this will be found.I have total faith in all of the law enforcement agencies who are investigating their homicide.  I have no doubt, this monster will be found.

God will not give our girls back to us but he will deliver the person who is responsible for taking them from us. We will find this person. We will have our justice for Libby and Abby.

This morning, Dingo Lu and I went on our morning hike. It was the first morning hike we’ve been able to go on in a few weeks. Work, responsibilities and lack of ambition have been my excuses. It would have been a shame to waste the final day of unseasonably warm weather we’ve had.

As I made my way down our familiar path, I couldn’t help but think about Liberty and Abigail. It was hard not to. With the exception of the warm temperature, it was a typical gray sky, winter morning.

Lu and I sat on a small footbridge that covers a small creek and enjoyed the view and the sound of the water passing below us. I grieved for these girls and their families.  I prayed for them. I prayed for the capture of the man responsible for harming them.

I am an advocate for the outdoors.  I encourage women to get active and to get outside. No fear. Just do it. Get outside. I write blog posts and reviews for trail systems and parks for other organizations. Being an introvert, a lot of my favorite places are fairly remote.  It angers and frustrates me to think about how women and girls have to be so careful as we go about our day to day lives.

Guilty of just trying to enjoy life.

I stop and think, maybe I shouldn’t do that anymore?

Maybe I should issue more warnings about being safe.

I don’t know that I would change any of my practices moving forward. I still encourage women and girls to get outside and enjoy our Earth. I think that females are hardwired to be hyper aware and vigilant for their own safety, even if it’s subconsciously. It’s not paranoia, it’s survival.

I just exhaled a huge sigh.

I am angry. I am tired.I am hurt. I am terrified. I am horrified.

Most of all, I am angry…

Please say a prayer for the people of Delphi, Indiana. Say a prayer for the dispatchers, the police officers, the firemen, the paramedics, the countless volunteers and the families.

Pray that they can find peace..

Last Of the Fall

We had an impressive rain fall last evening and the wind rattled the windows on the house until well after midnight.  At some point, during the night, we lost power. I noticed the clock on the stove flashing this morning. 

 I went outside this morning to find the temperature to be fairly warm and inviting. I noticed that nearly all of the trees were bare. The leaves are completely gone from the Maple tree in the front yard. I boast that I have the prettiest trees on the block.  I’ll miss them until the spring.

I made the most of the weather this morning and took what will likely be the last colorful stroll along the riverwalk. I snapped a couple of photo’s that I wanted to share with you. Gorgeous morning. 

I hope that everyone is having a wonderful Wednesday. 

It’s almost December. Can you believe it?

A Walk In the Park

Sometimes I don’t have time to venture too far from home. Sometimes, I lack the ambition to do so. I usually blame it on being tired. Quite often, I just don’t have time. 

I’ve explained before that I am your typical Introverted personality. I need a lot of space and quiet time to recharge myself. As you know, my life is crisis for six days a week, eight to twelve hours a day. Add the stress of everything else and it was easy for me to tell that I needed to detach and spend some time outside and away from people.

I enjoy the quiet. You can learn a lot by just sitting and listening. Solutions to problems can creep into your mind, you notice things that you didn’t before.

Sometimes even amazing little things can happen. Be quiet and see what transpires. Pay attention and own your moments.

I enjoy walking the three mile loop along the river walk in the city where I work. From the parking lot around the several conjoined city parks, it’s exactly three miles. 

It’s beautiful out there. Along the way, you may encounter wildlife. Ducks, geese, turtles and squirrels. Occasionally, in the early morning, I’ve seen a fox. 

With the exception of the turtles and the fox, the animals are fairly accustomed to people. People are guilty of feeding them. The city actually has an ordinance against feeding the ducks and Canada geese because the Canada geese are really aggressive. 

The squirrels are curious and always watch me as I pass by. When I sit near the wall by the river, they get really close to me in order to check me out. They’ve gotten used to me passing by and stopping. They stopped running away when I approach.

Overtime, as I sit and watch the river flow past, they’ve inched themselves closer and closer. No doubt looking for a hand out. I’ve always had a policy about keeping wildlife wild, however, I don’t live in a national park. 

They’re fun to watch. 


On the occasion, I leave shelled peanuts on the trail behind the trees where only the squirrels can find them. Recently, they’ve become brace and will actually take a peanut from my hand.

I’ve never claimed to be perfect. I’ve never claimed to know it all. When your childhood friend and your cousin find you to be “disgusting” based on your opinions about love and peace,  it’s good to know that the squirrels still think you’re awesome.


I don’t recommend feeding wildlife. With that said, these guys are fairly accustomed to people. As you can see they are obviously used to me but they are still leery of humans. So please don’t scold me. 

I don’t plan on giving up my Zen.

When In Doubt Take A Walk

Along with a lot of other people, I felt the stress and tension of this past week. I am sure that it probably won’t be any better this week either. I am a mix bag of emotions. I’m mostly disheartened at the loss of friends and family. I don’t get it, but at this point I’m just shrugging my shoulders. I’ll give it all some time and maybe if I feel brave, I’ll pick up the phone and call them.

I opted to skip the gym this past week and took some long walks instead. I find that fresh air and exercise can do a lot for your troubled mind. At least it is for mine. I was sick for most of October so it has been really therapeutic to be getting out again. 

Dingo Lu was also happy to be able to go hiking and join me on some of my walks near our home. We haven’t been able to venture too far for what feels like a long time. 

I love Autumn and thankfully we still have a lot of color to enjoy. The weather has actually been perfect. We are having a real Autumn and are making that smooth transition into winter. 

I’ve mentioned in past entries that we are  blessed with two really nice river walks that follow the St. Joseph River and of course I visited the Spicer Lake Nature Preserve.

 Between the air, the colors and the exercise I feel less tense and upset than I had. I snapped some photo’s along the way. Below are a few of my favorites. 

I hope that everyone had a wonderful week!! 

Squirrel! This guy was disappointed that I didn’t have any granola.

Roses still in bloom at Kate’s Garden

Fisherman on the St. Joseph River

View along the riverwalk on the St. Joseph River

Dingo Lu looking for frogs on the pier at Lancaster Lake

I love it when the forest glows.. Spicer Lake Nature Preserve

Life and A Half Assed Product Review-  Challenger K1 Inflatable Kayak by Intex

It has been a busy summer. It’s now looking to be a busy autumn season also.  I’m happy to report that. My absence from my blogging projects were due to being too darn busy and not having the time to dedicate to sitting down and typing out thoughtful or even informative blog posts. I’d offer an apology but I can’t be sorry because things were pretty good.

I confess that I am superstitious in a way that I hate talking about things going well or even being happy for fear that I might somehow jinx myself and have the opposite happen. This might sound silly but others may understand completely. Talking about the weather seems to change the weather.

In the Spring, I wrote about how I was going to start shopping for a new kayak.  I am still shopping for a new kayak. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the time to dedicate to research and thenpurchase exactly what I wanted. I decided that since I didn’t have the time to go on multiple paddle trips, that I might as well not even buy one.  So I didn’t.

This summer went by really fast! Before I knew it Dom was back to school!

Up until recently, I hadn’t been on a paddle trip since Memorial Day Weekend when I went camping and did a run on the Pigeon River. One time all summer. Not exactly great. With that said, I did hike and camp a lot.

I still dream of owning my own kayak.

As fate would have it, I came across a posting to a yard sale page I follow on Facebook,  where a local gentleman was selling an inflatable kayak at a reasonable price. I went ahead and bought it. I’ve been able to take it out twice in the week that I’ve owned it and I wish I was out in it right now.

This proved my theory that I would go more often if I owned my own kayak.  It also proved to me that it wasn’t a passing obsession and I’ve wanted to get my own since last year. At least I know I really want one. With that said, I am going to wait until spring to make that purchase. Maybe. It may still come sooner.

What did I get?

I got the Challenger K1 by Intex.


This is a basic inflatable kayak that should only be used on calm lakes ( no Lake Michigan for me ) rivers and channels. It came with an inflatable seat,inflatable foot brace, oar, bow/stern lines, skeg (fin) and a foot pump. It has two Boston valves and it  is easy to inflate and deflate. Once I figured out what I was doing the whole thing took me about ten minutes to get together from box to water.

The seat can be buckled in and is also held in place by plastic buckles on both sides of the interior. I don’t know how I feel about the seat. You can take it or leave it. I sort of felt awkward with it and I felt sort of up high versus with the kayak. I suppose that’s a matter of personal preference.

The skeg slides on to the hull of the kayak. I tried taking it out with and without the skeg. I would recommend using the skeg as it seems to really improve tracking and steering. It is really easy to attach and unattach the skeg. It slides on and locks into place.

It weighs approximately 20 pounds. The oar snaps together.  I want to remind everyone also that this is not a high dollar outfit. The oar is basic and cheaply made. With that said, I have been using them just fine. You can’t strong arm them or you may break them.  Also, the oar coul stand to be approximately 4 inches longer. However, with that said, the oar was usable and I got along just fine.

Since I have no interested in white water rafting or actually going out onto Lake Michgan, this is the perfect product for me. I mostly enjoy floating and paddling around at a leisurely pace and on my own time. There is nothing in a hurry about me when I am out on the water.

The Challenger K1 retails from $70-$100 online. It’s a good starter for someone who is looking for something affordable that doesn’t have real high expectations. I think it’s also good for someone who isn’t sure if they are going to continue with their interest in kayaking. Or hey, if you’re like me and just want something to tide you over until you get exactly what you want, it’s perfect.

This kayak has decent reviews. I want to add to that. The only thing I don’t like about it has nothing to do with the kayak itself and everything to do with the storage bag it came with. Shoddy. I am currently only using the bag to store the oar, seat, foot brace and the pump. When the kayak actually comes out of the back of my car,  I am going to place it in a plastic storage tub with a lid to store it.

I also want to point out that Intex is known for its pools, spas, inflatable mattresses and even other sporting goods. I have owned two versions of the Intex Easy Set pool and was very happy with them.  I also own Intex brand mattresses for camping and am pleased with them also.

You can check out their website and products on their website by clicking HERE

It is what it is. I think that as long as I take care of it, it will last while.  Since I enjoy paddling around on Worster Lake, which is a man made lake, I have to really watch out for branches under the water from where the area was flooded to create the lake. The material that the kayak is made from is durable however, I am sure that if a branch, rock or even a fishing hook could cause a tear.
My plan is still to get my “real” kayak and keep this one as a spare in the event that someone wants to come with me.  So far so good with it. It’s currently folded up in the back of my SUV.  I see no point in taking it in and storing it until I am done with it for the season. If I don’t get my other kayak before the end of fall, I probably won’t bother putting it away until it starts getting cold.

I hope everyone is having a good season!! I will write again when I have more time!

The box the kayak came in.

Everything always fits perfectly in the bag before you take it out.

The contents will never go back in this way. Ha!

The kayak has two Boston valves.

The state of Indiana requires you to have a watercraft permit. The permit was $5.00 and is good for one calendar year.

Maiden voyage of the SS Inflatable on Worster Lake, Potato Creek State Park Indiana

Jennie Takes A Vacation!

I was able to take a real live vacation this year. I haven’t been able to venture too far from home since July of 2014. After the consolidation of agencies in 2015, we all lost our vacation time for the year but gained it back this year along with our seniority.

I made my way to Virginia and stayed in the area of Front Royal, which is not far from the north entrance to Shenandoah National Park.  I rented a tiny cottage on Carson Mountain appropriately called “The Carson Mountain Cottage” for an entire week.

I stayed near the north district of the park but ended up making the drive every day to the central district. It was around 40 miles one way to the trail heads that I chose. It was a long drive at 35mph, but the Sky Line Drive and my numerous black bear sightings helped to make up for it.

I had a great trip. I feel a lot better mentally, than I have in a really long time.

I am going to write more as  I am getting back into the blogging groove.  I attached a gallery of photographs from the trip to Shenandoah National Park.