Caravan001

My Little Beach House

from imgkid.comFor two glorious summers, I spent May to October in my very own little beach “house”, at Sauble Beach on Lake Huron.  If you were lured here by the blog title, thinking you would see something magnificent á la California, well, not quite, lol!  But maybe to me, at the time, it was all that and more.

This little house was my very first I-Own-It home, paid for by I-Earned-It money, and to me it was a symbol of freedom and accomplishment.  I bought it so that I could have a place to write in solitude, within easy hearing distance of waves hitting the beach, because water seems to be my muse, along with soft forest sounds.

Beach-Waves-Background-1280x1024My house was a 16 foot trailer, which I purchased in Stratford, and left with my Dad for a couple of weeks because he wanted to improve it for me. My wonderful Dad took blank panelled areas and cut them out, installed doors to give me extra cupboard space – everywhere.  He created shelves and put in hooks to hang things.  He set up sturdy elastic towel racks in the tiny bathroom.  He made an opening to the boot on the inside of the trailer, so that I didn’t have to go outside in the dark or in bad weather to get things stored there.  He created a drop-down shelf for my typewriter. He installed an awning on the side of the trailer so that I could put a picnic table under it, and enjoy the shade on hot days.  As for my Mom, her contributions were curtains I could see through easily, but which didn’t reveal much to anyone looking inside, along with kitchen stuff, and other practical, useful things, like clip-on lamps here and there for extra lighting.  One was over the typewriter shelf, which could also be directed to use for reading in bed.

Smith_Corona_PortableMy little house had a panoramic-view window at the back, from where I could look out at a road that led to the beach, just beyond the fence that enclosed Carson’s Camp,

Carson's Camp Entrance Wall

Carson’s Camp Entrance Wall

with deep woods and lakes on the other side of that road.

Bird's Eye View of Sable Beach and Carson Lake

Bird’s Eye View of Sauble Beach and Carson Lake

I even had my own little gate leading from my big lot to the roadway, so I could slip out without having to go back to the main entrance of the camp to leave it. Beside my site was a large empty site where I would occasionally find morels to add to my pantry.  The woods were filled with birds, awakening me in the mornings and crooning me to sleep at night.  There were delicious little wild strawberries to be found at the edge of those woods. (And Canada Lily, Fiddleheads, Ground Cherry, Mayapple etc).

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This trailer, though not identical, looks very much like my little beach house

My husband carefully deposited a .22 rifle in the boot, close to the inside door “just in case”.  He showed me how to posture with it in front of a lighted window in case any nefarious night-time lurkers were lurking, so they would see I was loaded for bear and tough as nails about it.  Which was pure fantasy on his part, but what else can you expect from a policeman? Plus, he gave me his very own razor-sharp hunting knife and made me promise to take it with me everywhere, showing me exactly how to flip the blade sharp side up, and use it protectively.  Did I say he was a cop?  (It certainly came in handy when I was collecting herbs.)

Daisy .22 riflehunting knife

At the back end of the trailer was a comfortable sofa which pulled out into a full bed, long enough to easily accommodate my 6’2” husband when he was able to come “visit”.  At the front end, the table which seated six, collapsed down into another bed, quite large enough for two, where my daughter and the occasional girlfriend would sleep.

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…something like this…

In between, on the doorway side was my little kitchen, with stove, cupboards and a tiny fridge, (I also kept a larger portable fridge/freezer for storing uncooked wild jams outside the trailer) and enough counter space to put a small television/clock/radio unit my husband found for me. (Alas, no phone).

Vintage-Retro-Classic-RCA-5-TV-AMI was all set!  Happy and ready to spend the summer writing, exploring and enjoying the beach and forests.

Beach entrance at Carson's Camp

Beach entrance at Carson’s Camp

At that time, there were plenty of bush and swamp trails to explore, along with a seven-mile stretch of white, sandy beach (said to be the 2nd longest freshwater beach in the world), and new roads to hike, so that I could search for and gather wild plants, á la Euell Gibbons.

StalkingThis amazing man had inspired me with his wild-plants-as-food books, and I decided I would be Stalking the Wild Asparagus and the Healthful Herbs.  I wish I had bought a copy of his Handbook Of Edible Wild Plants, as I notice it sells on Amazon.ca for paperback $430.14 (used) to $696.70 (new). Wonder if my local library would have a copy? hmmm.

HandbookYes, I stalked the wild plants, and the wild herbs and they were plentiful in the Sauble Beach area. But I’ll leave what I garnered for perhaps another blog.  Hint:  Lamb’s Quarters is delicious and out-vitamins spinach….cattails are like a supermarket of food and nutrient…. uncooked wild strawberries can be made into a wonderful frozen jam… (later!)

seed eating-on

Yellow-Warbler-RolandJordahl

Outside my trailer, at the boot end, I created a feeding ground for birds of all shapes and sizes.  Alongside my trailer and at the fence, were shrubs that gave cover to the shyer warblers that liked to come and check out the ground feeders from time to time, so I could watch all the activities from inside my trailer and have a panoramic view. I watched a Chipping Sparrow stand up to and charge at a big old black Crow who was being a bully about the feed, and the Crow stood down…. I had just recently started recording my life-list of birds, and this was a wonderful way to have time to accurately identify them.  Blue Jays would loudly announce they were coming SO HAVE THE PEANUTS AND SUNFLOWER SEEDS READY!  Or else get a scolding….

Blue JayFrom day one, birds descended on the foodsite with vigour, in considerable numbers and varieties. So too, did seven little chipmunks, which became a particular cause of joy for me.

chipmunks-cartoon-chipmunk-eat-red-berries-online-154182They were feisty little guys, but different enough in their appearance and manners that I could identify them, so I attached names to them.  The one with the most scars (Scrapper) was the obvious macho male, with the other six scattering to give him first place at the table, avoiding his territorial rushes and nips.

from ilbe.com

Already full cheek pouches don’t stop chipmunks from looking for more goodies to eat

One morning, at my picnic table under the canopy, I breakfasted with cereal generously topped with wild strawberries I had gathered the day before. Suddenly, out of nowhere I had two little chipmunk guests hop up onto the picnic table, and without apologies or hesitation, balance their little feet onto the side of my bowl and start gobbling up the berries.  Of course I let them!  Wouldn’t you?  They had absolutely no fear, and I felt honoured to have them as my guests. They ate, stuffed their cheek pouches, took off, then returned a few minutes later for more. (In the meantime, I added more berries).

chipmunk pouchThe following morning I loaded my bowl with nothing but strawberries, and once again, two chipmunks hopped up, ready to dig in.  After “disappearing” a couple of berries, and stuffing some more into their cheeks, they hopped away as quick as lightning, and two more took their place!  That’s when I realized there were seven of them, taking their turns by twos.  Except for Scrapper, who ate alone.  After all, he was the boss.

wild-strawberries1A few mornings later, after a long night of writing, I felt I deserved a sleeping-in morning. Suddenly I heard a loud, slow banging at my door.  Startled, I cautiously peeked through the little peep-hole Dad had installed for me, but could see no one. Another loud Bang!  and then another….. and I then noticed a blurry little form flying through the air…. It was the chipmunks coming for their breakfast, throwing their little bodies through the air to hit the door.  I was amazed.  They knew I lived inside, and they knew enough to knock.

Blog-chipmunk-group-Colorado-George-Aldridge-108765-2010From that time on, I would occasionally leave the door open, and sit at my kitchen table for breakfast, and almost immediately in they came.  Up they would hop to the seat, then to the tabletop, and eat breakfast with me.  Besides berries and cereal, they would come for seeds — they loved sunflowers and peanuts, in the shell, or raisins, or pretty well anything.  Always eating their fill, stuffing their little cheeks to three times their normal size with “food for later”.  After they had hidden the seeds, they would return for more, until I would shut off the supply.   It was a mystery to other campers how many sunflowers grew everywhere that summer, but not, of course to me. How I loved those mornings!  How I loved watching them zip around and get scrappy with each other! And one morning, when my visiting daughter was sleeping, I opened the door and in charged two little nimble footed visitors, leaping up on their “table” – which had become, of course, a bed.  The look on my daughter’s face was priceless!  After the first initial shock of contact, she became delighted with her “guests”, who, however, when they realized there was no food there, beat a hasty retreat outside to wait on the picnic table to be fed.  (Which, of course, they were). By my daughter this time.

Paddy Patterson on Flickr (crop)

Image from Paddy Patterson on Flickr (cropped)

One morning when I was once again alone, I woke up very early, went outside, breathed the sweet air still touched with a bit of dew, and there, underneath my trailer, were two sets of eyes watching me.  I sat down in a nearby chair and watched back.  Shyly, with tails wagging, out came two magnificent Black Labradors, a male and a female, who apparently had taken shelter under my trailer for the night.  They had no name tags or collars, but looked sleek and well fed. It was love at first sight.

They came over to my chair for a pet, promptly settling themselves at my feet.  I thought I shouldn’t feed them, which might encourage them to stay, when they obviously belonged to someone. When they were still there at the end of the day, I had no choice:  they had to be fed.  Well, you would have fed them too, wouldn’t you?  Of course, that meant they weren’t going anywhere.  That night I could occasionally hear them under my trailer, and I actually slept feeling quite safe and secure. The night stalker I had heard on several evenings (where I had to posture with the gun by the lit window) never returned after the dogs decided to stay.

black labsThe next day, I walked to the store and the dogs loped happily along with me. When I arrived at the little store, they politely waited outside for me.  I asked the owner and his wife if they recognized the dogs, but they didn’t.  I posted a notice at the store that I had the dogs and asked the store owners if they would direct anyone enquiring after the dogs to my trailer site.  They said they would also ask others who came into the store if they had heard of any labs missing. I posted a couple of signs along the roadways, directing people to the store for information.

But those beautiful companions stayed with me.  No one came to claim them. They stayed all summer, and then, just before I was ready to pack up for home in October, they were just gone.  I got up one morning, and they were just gone.  Sad as I felt, I made myself believe the owner had finally found them, or that they decided their “vacation” was over, returning home for the winter.

The eerie thing is, when I returned the following Spring to the beach for my second stolen writing summer, my husband and I found one of the dogs waiting for me, tail wagging, and grinning from ear to ear.  I couldn’t believe it!  How did she know I would be coming back, and how long had she been waiting for me?  So I had almost a full summer with Raven, who was my constant companion, who never chased the birds or chipmunks, or disturbed the mother raccoon and her babies who used to tramp through my campsite. Where I went, she went. We walked and talked together everywhere.

Lab on trailShe led me into the swamps on doggie trails that were hidden from view to humans, I suppose, but I did some very interesting and rewarding travel with her.  She was a real joy to have around. I was so taken with her I was toying with the idea of taking her home with me.  Then one day, near the end of my time at the beach, a car pulled up on the other side of my little gate and a man said “You found her!  I’ve been looking everywhere for her!”  And Raven, a.k.a. Blackie, left me to go home — over 20 miles away!  Apparently, the previous summer, she and her son had been tethered in their backyard, and somehow slipped free and got away.  So they travelled to meet me and stay with me all that summer, until they decided it was time to go home, just as I had.  The next summer Raven had again broken away – sadly without her son, who had died. And she found me again.  I asked if there was any chance I could keep her, but the owners decided a life tied up in their back yard was preferable to being free with me, I guess.  Still saddens my heart. Especially when I know her son died choking, trying to escape his collar.

My daughter and I have an affinity for animals, she perhaps more than me because when she’s with them, they respond to her in a way that is almost magical.  I’m sure some of her father’s Irish and some of my Scottish faery ways have been instilled in her.  I wish now that I had had her with me those two summers away from home, all the time, instead of just weekends.  But she is not the plant and herb gatherer I am, so she might not have enjoyed it as much as I did…although, I must admit, she would probably have charmed the dogs to hang out with her and not go foraging with me…

Molly Brett faeries and animals

Molly Brett, illustrator

If you haven’t yet had the chance to visit Ontario’s lovely Sauble Beach, here’s a video that will give you a taste of how truly special it is, along with it’s peaceful surrounding forests and farmlands. (by thespacecaptain1-YouTube)

poetrycornerkat

Filled Up Days

Love the sun in its shining
in its warmth
where green things reach
to touch it
where shadows shrink away
and fear hides in the dark.

Love the rain in its pouring
in its quenching
where roots suckle the wet earth
where leaves direct the downpour
where the sound comforts me
In my warm, dry place.

Love the breeze in its wafting
in its touching
where blossom scents wrap ‘round me
where its fingers play through my hair
leaving me with a softness
and a feeling of clean.

Love the day in its mystery
its adventure
where life stretches out to connect me
to the sun, to the rain, to the breeze,
to see and touch and feel
aliveness.

© E J Finn / Collie

 

 

Bird-and-Notes- Music BannerHello everyone! I’m the “daughter”, and I’m back with a few music videos for you. I previously posted a number of “beach” themed videos in Mom’s blog “The Beaches of Toronto“, so this time I’m going to focus solely on the quintessential beach music band, The Beach Boys.  I’ve picked a few lesser known songs by them since many people are already familiar with their biggest hits from over the decades.

Here’s a relatively new song from 2012‘s 50th anniversary album “That’s Why God Made The Radio“, called “Beaches In Mind“, performed without original founding, but deceased, members Carl and Dennis Wilson, but with early, part-time members David Marks and Bruce Johnston  (GeorgeHoff-YouTube)

Next up is Do You Wanna Dance” from the album “Today!“, performed live in 1965 on the TV show “Shindig!” I guess I could have used this one in Mom’s last blog,”Dance Me” too! (Leonard Nosferatu-YouTube)

This tune from 1973 is called “California Saga: Big Sur” from the album “Holland” and the video features beautiful waves crashing on gorgeous beaches and surfers having great fun – for all you “California Girls” (and boys) (eMemoriesMaker-YouTube)

Lastly, this is one of my (many) favourite Beach Boys songs (just ask my husband) called “Disney Girls (1957)” which came out on their 1971 album “Surf’s Up” (Max Neira-YouTube)

Quotes #2(Quotes are from www.brainyquote.com and www.goodreads.com)

– Exploration is the engine that drives innovation.  Innovation drives economic growth.  So let’s all go exploring.  (Edith Widder)
– We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.  (T.S. Eliot)
– My theory in anything you do is to keep exploring, keep digging deeper to find new stuff.  (Blythe Danner)
– All those hours exploring the great outdoors made me more resilient and confident.  (David Suzuki)
– In my writing I am acting as a map maker, an explorer of psychic areas, a cosmonaut of inner space… (William S. Burroughs)
– I’m experimental by nature…always exploring my creativity.  (Christina Aguilera)
– I’m exploring the maturity, the wisdom that just comes from having gone around the sun 50 times… (Melissa Etheridge)
– I want to keep learning, keep exploring, keep doing more. (Jesse Norman)
– I love walks, hiking, exploring and being on the beach. (Ireland Baldwin)
– I’m just focused on exploring new opportunities.  (Yuri Milner)
– The things that keep nagging at you are the ones worth exploring. (Evan Williams)
– I’m concerned to see today’s kids spending more time browsing the Internet than exploring nature.  (Mark Udall)
– Children need to be exploring their physical world.  They need to be learning the fundamental laws of physics by manipulating objects.  (David Perlmutter)
– I invite you to turn off the boob tube, pry the Wii controllers form your kids’ hands, and drag them to a museum.  (Lynda Resnick)
– I’m always exploring other people:  trying to figure out myself, trying to figure out everyone.  (Bryan Lee O’Malley)
– My primary interest has always been about exploring the human psyche and humanity.  (Dana Snyder)
– I’ve been making music for a long time, but at the same time, I’m still exploring what works for me.  I feel like I’m just staring out. (Zedd)
– Now what we’re exploring are the full boundaries of human endeavour.  It’s not physical – it’s all in the head.  (Lewis Gordon Pugh)
– Writing is like a roller coaster ride for me, an adventure.  I love exploring the world through ‘playing’ people who are absolutely nothing like me.  (Karen Traviss)
– I was a bit of a wild boy – always swimming and exploring the mountains.  (Nobu Matsuhisa)
– It’s our potential for good stuff I’m most interested in exploring… (Morris Gleitzman)
– I grew up like Huck Finn, always outdoors, exploring, collecting frogs – there was space everywhere.  I want my kids to experience that too.  I love being outside.  (Josh Duhamel)
– The more I have written, the less it has been about exploring myself, and the more it has been about exploring the world around me.  (Nick McDonell)
– I like exploring both the light parts and the dark parts of a single person… (Rosemarie DeWitt)
– Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.  (André Gide)
– As for me, I am tormented with an everlasting itch for things remote.  I love to sail forbidden seas, and land on barbarous coasts.  (Herman Melville)
– In wisdom gathered over time I have found that every experience is a form of exploration.  (Ansel Adams)
– Sailors on a becalmed sea, we sense the stirring of a breeze.  (Carl Sagan)
– Adventure is allowing the unexpected to happen to you.  Exploration is experiencing what you have not experienced before.  How can there be any adventure, any exploration, if you let somebody else arrange everything before-hand? (Richard Aldington)
– If you do something that has never been done you will collect treasures that have never been found.  (Jenna Newton)
Paws for AwhileFor all those who love watching chipmunks, and especially for those that have never had the thrill of spending up-close time with the cute little critters, here’s a video from backyardiners on YouTube. Enjoy!

And now, just for the heck of it, how about a video of a talking porcupine named Teddy Bear eating pumpkin (from Zooniversity1). I didn’t see any porcupines at Sauble Beach, but I wish I had, from a distance of course. Go ahead, you know you can’t resist!

1937 Hunt Housecar from the RV Hall of Fame, Elkhart, Indiana

1937 Hunt Housecar from the RV Hall of Fame, Elkhart, Indiana

To everyone reading this: If you get a chance to be in your very own little house, whether it’s at the beach, traveling on the road, or in your own backyard, it’s an amazing experience and comes highly recommended by me as a valuable learning undertaking…

…and as Robert Frost said take the road “less traveled”…EJ

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Lazy, Crazy Days

 

lush & green wallpaper

Yes.  It’s finally here.  Summer.  In Canada, “summer” has special meaning.  Here, we like to cram t-shirt and sandals activities into a time frame of approximately mid-May to Mid September.  In other areas, farther south, they can take their lazy time with the same activities, starting January 1st and ending December 31st.

Don’t misunderstand me – I’m not being jealous, or bitter, or envious or anything, I’m just explaining how Canadians deal with summer.  Here’s how:  we play it to the hilt!  Every day is really, really precious and exciting!  Every blue sky, sun-drenched day is priceless!  And make no mistake, Canadian summers are really breathtaking!  We don’t have time for our grass to go brown, (well, maybe sometimes in a particularly hot August, but hardly ever.)  Everything pretty well stays lush and green…

lush-green-nature-wallpapers-17

with amazing arrays of flowers and flowering shrubs.

Summer Season Wallpapers001

This is the time we fit in as much activity as possible: volleyball, tennis, bocchia, lawn bowling, gliding, hiking, adventure racing, backpacking, cycling, camping, canoeing, caving, fishing, horseback riding, hunting, kayaking, mountaineering, photography, adventure park, rock climbing, running, sailing, water skiing, surfing, rafting, hill walking, water polo, trekking, bird-watching, amusement park…

Summer-Activities-Mosaic_thumb1

snorkeling, scuba diving, ballooning, Safari park, mountain biking, para-sailing, flying, dog parking, metal detecting, beach crowding, motorcycling, bungee jumping, tree climbing, windsurfing, picnicking, sightseeing, mushroom hunting, clam digging, swimming, canyoning, field tripping, skeet and target shooting, foresting:  in general – getting acquainted with the sun, wind and fresh, warm air again.

www.dennyzen.com summer-act

Or – maybe just the hammock…..

Girl in the Hammock -Winslow Homer (wikimedia commons)

Girl in the Hammock -Winslow Homer (wikimedia commons)

I have a solution to enable Canadians to  get the very, very most out of the summer season.  I think sometimes we take our two-or-three-week vacations entirely too seriously.  Yes, we should have them, granted.  We’ve certainly craved them, and probably earned them, but there’s more!  Instead of waiting all year for those precious free-from-work days where we trip off to the Algonquin area, or Barry’s Bay, or Collingwood, Lake Simcoe, Muskoka, Magnetawan, Georgian Bay, Haliburton, Huntsville, Kawartha, for a frantic few days, –

Muskoka Sunset, Flickr - Ed Nutt

Muskoka Sunset, Flickr – Ed Nutt

we can do all that, yes, but here’s something else to think about…..

In those two or three week periods, it usually takes at least five days to give your mind and body time to wind down enough that you can actually begin to look around you and start to enjoy what you see.  That time lasts for about a week or so, and then the anxiety factor creeps back in.  How many days do I have left?  When you realize you can’t fit in all the things you planned to do in those few days you have, you create even more anxiety,  starting and ending the vacation with a tight, tense feeling, instead of a relaxed high.

planning

So – why not take planned mini-vacations many times a year instead? By taking regular breaks throughout the year to augment summer vacations, it can make a world of difference to the health of your mind and body.  For instance…… what if you took two (or three) single weeks instead of taking them consecutively?  For starters, you could have a week in the summer, a week in the winter (or two).  That way, all the work you left behind which your substitute was going to cover for you – but didn’t – wouldn’t still be there when you got back.  Or at least, the pile would be smaller, because your time away was shorter. You also realize your vacation isn’t ended – you still have a week (or two) coming up – no anxiety.

Next, you calculate all the single holidays we have in Canada – there’s quite a list, depending on where you live.

Nationwide
New Year’s Day, (January 1)
Good Friday (except Quebec) the Friday before Easter Sunday
Victoria Day (National Patriotes Day in Quebec) on the Monday preceding May 25th (except New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland),
Canada Day (July 1)
Labour Day (First Monday of September)
Thanksgiving (Second Monday in October – except New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, PEI and Newfoundland)
Remembrance Day (November 11) except Ontario, Qubec, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland)
Christmas Day (December 25)

summer-activities-inspired-by-the-movies

Regional
Islander Day (3rd Monday in February – in Prince Edward Island)
Family Day (3rd Monday in February, second in BC) in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario
Louis Riel Day (3rd Monday in February) in Manitoba
St Patrick’s Day (March 17th) in Newfoundland
Easter Monday (Monday after Easter Sunday) in Quebec
St. George’s Day (April 23) in Newfoundland
National Aboriginal Day (June 21) in Northwest Territories
Féte Nationale (St. Jean Baptiste Day) – June 24 in Quebec
Discovery Day (June 24) in Newfoundland
Nunavut Day (July 9) in Northwest Territories
Civic Holiday (first Monday in August) in British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Nunavut
Boxing Day (December 26) in Ontario

Other time off can include saved-up “sick days”, or personal days (personal time off) which many companies allot and which can usually be accumulated.  So why not take some of those extra paid holidays and stretch them into long weekends?

Summer_Activities_Wallpaper_rrq18

A five-day cruise is a wonderful thing!  Any five days in the sun when it’s winter at home can be a life-saving remedy for winter doldrums.

Norwegian Pearl mini-suite with balcony

Norwegian Pearl mini-suite with balcony

In the summer, being in another country can be exciting too – like a trip to Italy, Spain, the UK, Japan, Australia, Ireland…. (how about a whiskey tour in Scotland, hmmm? just sayin’)

Speyside malt-whisky-trail-sign

….in the winter the beaches in Florida, Hawaii California or Costa Rica can beckon us to take a break from snow shoveling.

Fiji summer wallpaper

Because our business kept us busy, my husband and I expanded many, many weekends into “mini vacations” which were refreshing and exciting and jam-packed full of things to do (or not do, depending on the mood).  Because we were our own employers, we chose what would have been our summer vacation this way.  During that time we would zero in on an area in Canada or the US that was having a festival or had a regional flavour not found anywhere else.

To illustrate what I mean – pick a state (any state) – such as Iowa.

Where is Iowa located?

Check out what alluring, interesting events happen there, and zero in on a destination of your choice.

Boone, Iowa hosts a biennial Farm Progress Show, is home to the Mamie Doud Eisenhower Museum, the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad, and Ledges State Park. (Incidentally, BSVY #6540, is a former Canadian National Railway GMD FP9 with CNW markings – a hands-across-the-border link to Canada.)

BSVRR BSVY#6540 former Cdn. Natl Railway GMD FP9 with CNW markings

The Meskwaki Settlement west of Tama is the only American Indian settlement in Iowa and is host to a large annual Pow-wow.

Meskwaki Annual Powwow Assn copyrite meskwakipowwow@gmail.com

In Madison County is the John Wayne Birthplace Museum in Winterset.

John Wayne Birthplace Museum

The Cedar Rapids Museum of Art has collections of paintings by Grant Wood and Marvin Cone. It’s also home to the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library. Davenport boasts the Figge Art Museum, the River Music Experience…

The Redstone Building Home of the River Music Experience, Davenport, Iowa

The Redstone Building Home of the River Music Experience, Davenport, Iowa

and the Putnam Museum, Davenport Skybridge, Quad City Symphony Orchestra, Ballet Quad Cities, and plays host to the annual Bix Beiderbeck Memorial Jazz Festival…

Bix Bkeiderbecke

and the Quad City Air Show.

Quad City Air Show, Davenport, Iowa

Quad City Air Show, Davenport, Iowa

There are several resort areas such as Spirit Lake, Arnolds Park (having one of the oldest amusement parks in the country)  and the Okoboji Lakes.  Fort Dodge has the Fort Museum and Frontier Village.  Dyersville is home to the famed Field of Dreams baseball diamond from the movie of the same name…

"Field of Dreams", Dyersville, Dubuque County, Iowa

“Field of Dreams”, Dyersville, Dubuque County, Iowa

and the Maquoketa Caves State Park contains more caves than any other state park.

But Iowa is also the number one producer of corn in the US, and hogs, and chicken eggs. In 1872 the Red Delicious apple was discovered in an Iowa Orchard, and is now found in nearly every produce section of grocery stores in North America.

Red Delicious Apples

Red Delicious Apples

So Iowa’s food could become an enticement for you too – a little research will bring up the best places to go, then just center your weekend around that area. Those are only a few of Iowa’s attractions.  It’s so exciting to see new places, experience new things.  See what fun you could have in Iowa on an extended weekend?  C’mon, confess – before today it probably never crossed your mind, right?  (Unless you’re explorers like we are.)

I picked Iowa randomly – it is one of 48 states we were fortunate enough to visit together – for one of our mini-vacations.  I calculate we had roughly twelve – sometimes fourteen mini-vacations every year.  We tried to make them five days, but sometimes took four — all of them lazy, relaxed days. All of them providing priceless experiences and memories.

All of them making work just a bridge between vacations!

poetrycornerkat

 I trekked back into my older poetry books looking for something about vacations, and found a poem which could illustrate the Ultimate Vacation.  It was written by the youthful me, wondering what it would be like to travel to the stars.  At that time, we hadn’t even sent a rocket into space, so this poem illustrates that one invaluable commodity a writer must have – imagination.

 THE STARS MY DESTINY

If it were in our hands to choose
The time for birth – the time to die –
I’d wish my destiny to be
When Man controls the farthest sky!

Someday, somehow, I know, will go
Beyond the bounds of time and place,
A restless few who cannot stop
Until the very end of space.

This pod of mine is rooted here,
And only Earth will know its deeds.
My final planting here will be —
But ah! My seeds!  My seeds!

Someday a part of me will gaze
On unfamiliar shore and hill;
O! restless spirit, patience yet —
O! yearning, wandering heart, be still!

© E Joyce Finn/Collie

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Hi again! It’s the “daughter” signing in with a few songs for those hot “Dog Days” of summer coming up. As usual I’ve posted songs or artists that represent some special memory or meaning for me, and tie-in with the theme of Mom’s blog.  Hopefully you’ll enjoy them too.

Connie Francis (b.12/12/38-) is an American pop singer of Italian heritage and the top-charting female vocalist of the late-1950s and early-1960s who has remained a top concert draw and is still active as a recording and performing artist. (wiki)

1962 – To get the “beach” ball rolling, here’s Connie Francis belting out a popular sixties summer song “V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N” (vanderbeer/YouTube)

Nat King Cole (b.3/17/19 – d.2/15/65) was an American singer and musician who first came to prominence as a leading jazz pianist. He was widely noted for his soft, baritone voice, which he used to perform in big band and jazz genres. He was one of the first African Americans to host a television variety show, The Nat King Cole Show, and has continued to maintain worldwide popularity since his death.(wiki)

1963Nat King Cole performs one of his biggest hits, and one of my favourite old summertime songs, “Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer” live on BBC TV (the ladies singing live back-up are a bit more operatic sounding than the recorded voices I’m used to listening to!) – (Johnny Brown/YouTube)

The Lovin’ Spoonful is an American rock band of the 1960s, named to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. When asked about his band, leader John Sebastian said it sounded like a combination of “Mississippi John Hurt and Chuck Berry”, prompting his friend, Fritz Richmond, to suggest the name “Lovin’ Spoonful” from a line in Hurt’s song, “Coffee Blues”.(wiki)

(This band had a tie-in to Canada as the lead guitarist, Zalman “Zal” Yanovsky (b.12/19/44-d.12/13/02), was born right here in Toronto!)

1966 – Enjoy with me a TV performance by The Lovin’ Spoonful of a song that’s special to me, “Summer In The City” (DiscoBar80/ YouTube)

Mungo Jerry is a British rock group fronted by Ray Dorset, whose greatest success was in the early 1970s. They are remembered above all for their hit “In the Summertime”. It remains their most successful and most instantly recognizable song. Their name was inspired by the poem “Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer”, from T. S. Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. (wiki)

1970 – Listen to Mungo Jerry performing “In The Summertime”  and I bet you won’t be able to keep your toes from tapping along! – (Hits70s/YouTube)

The Go-Go’s are an all-female American rock band formed in 1978 who rose to fame during the early 1980s.. They made history as the first, and to date only, all-female band that both wrote their own songs and played their own instruments to top the Billboard album charts. Their debut album, Beauty and the Beat, is considered one of the “cornerstone albums of (US) new wave” (Allmusic), breaking barriers and paving the way for a host of other new American acts.(wiki)

1982 – Let’s take a nostalgic look back at what I affectionately refer to as an 80’s “Big Hair” band, The Go-Go’s, singing “Vacation” (emimusic/YouTube)

Elizabeth Woolridge Grant, known by her stage name Lana Del Rey (b. 6/21/85-) is an American singer-songwriter who started songwriting at the age of 18 and signed her first recording contract in 2007. Del Rey’s music has been noted for its cinematic sound and its references to various aspects of pop culture, particularly that of the 1950s and 1960s Americana. The singer has described herself as a “self-styled gangsta Nancy Sinatra”.(wiki)

2013 – Lastly, here’s a current favourite of mine, Lana Del Rey, performing her version of “Summer Wine” (sung with Barrie-James O’Neill) originally recorded by Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazelwood in 1967 – (Lana Del Ray/YouTube)

Wolverine-Drawing-by-C.G.Pritchard-Hall-&-Keson,-1959)

Wolverine-Drawing-by-C.G.Pritchard-Hall-&-Keson,-1959)

THE MIGHTY WOLVERINE

Because there are an estimated 20,000 or more of them in our Great Northlands, but only an estimated 700 in the USA, and low populations in Europe, China and Russia, I like to think of  the mysterious wolverine as being primarily Canadian. The Canadian provinces and Alaska state have the most stable and largest concentration worldwide. So let’s call him “The Mighty Canadian Wolverine”.  Many people are devoted now to the study of the fascinating wolverine, and up until recently, most information on him was scanty, and not totally accurate. I’d like to share with you what I’ve found out about this wonderful creature.

Wolverine, Arctic Interagency Visitor Center, Coldfoot

Wolverine, Arctic Interagency Visitor Center, Coldfoot

He is classified as Gulo gull which in Latin means roughly “gluttonous glutton”.  He has a hearty appetite, eats with gusto, even finishing off the bones and teeth of his prey.  His teeth and jaws are so powerful he can bite through a totally frozen carcass with ease.  Imagine taking a solidly frozen roast from the freezer (bone in) and trying to munch on it.  Child’s play for the Canadian wolverine!

Wolverine (Gulo) Global Distribution (Wikimedia)

Wolverine (Gulo) Global Distribution (Wikimedia)

For a mighty critter like him, the wolverine is actually quite small, like a medium-sized dog, but still the largest land-dwelling species of the Weasel family. He looks like a powerful, stocky little bear, muscular, furry, with a thick body, short legs, small rounded ears, broad flat head, little beady black eyes, arched back and a foot-long bushy tail.  He weighs in from 30 – 55 lbs, is up to 4 feet long (including the tail), the male being about 1/4 larger than the female.  In winter, his coat becomes dense and long, his large feet covered with stiff hair, helping him walk or run easily on snow.  The oily dark brown to black fur has light brown to yellowish stripes running from each shoulder along the flanks. There are sometimes white markings on chest and throat, or a light-silvery facial mask.  His fur is resistant to frost, (frost just brushes off) making it a popular lining in jackets and parkas in Arctic conditions, which is one reason its population numbers have dwindled worldwide, except for Canada and Alaska.

Wolverine On Rock (Wiki Seve Kroschel)

Wolverine On Rock (Wiki Seve Kroschel)

The Innu people of eastern Québec and Labrador called him Kuekuatsheu, known as a trickster and a hero at the same time. Kuekuatsheu built a big boat, putting all the species of animals in it, and when there was a great flood, he made an island of rocks and mud, which became the world. So he was in their folklore the creator of the world.

Wolverine Tracks on Snow

Wolverine Tracks on Snow

He is an omnivore – eating whatever he can find from nuts, roots, seeds, insects, berries, even greens at times, to small animals and nesting birds and their eggs, up to medium and big game.  He’s great for the landscape, because he eats mostly carrion, and constantly scours his 500-600 square mile territory (30 to 40 miles a day) searching for fresh or old kills, eating every bit of them, and leaving a clean scene. He has an extremely keen sense of smell, being able to sniff out dead meat two miles away, or under 50 feet of snow.  His powerful claws can easily dig down deep to find deer, elk or moose buried by avalanches or trapped in deep snow.  He can drag carcasses up to five times his own weight to a cache site, where he will return and devour every scrap.  Sort of like nature’s super street sweeper.  He will boldly steal a carcass from another predator larger then himself, because when it comes to getting fed, he considers “Me – first, last and always!” as his motto.

Wolverine, Kristiansand Zoo, Norway waiting for his meal (Flickr Lukasz Lukomski)

Wolverine, Kristiansand Zoo, Norway waiting for his meal (Flickr Lukasz Lukomski)

For his size, he is the strongest of all mammals.  He is absolutely without fear, showing courage and tenacity beyond belief.  Cougars, lynx, wolves and grizzlies are known to relinquish a freshly-killed carcass to him. Once he is in a conflict, it is “win or die” with him, although he is extremely cautious to enter a fray, always in ready-mode to run from perceived danger. He won’t back down from a fight, pursuing victory against all odds, and usually winning. Because he is intelligent and cunning, his thievery can be crafty and ingenious, sometimes stalking his prey while it eats or rests, taking small quiet steps, hiding, before making a quick final spurt to bite and kill. (Korzhechkin, 2005).

Wolverine Paw Tracks

Wolverine Paw Tracks

Jeff Copeland of the U.S. Forest Service who studies wolverines in Glacier National Park, says the wolverine embodies the image of wilderness.  “We see the grizzly as defining wilderness, but they can’t stay away from our garbage cans,” he says. “Wolverines don’t get in our garbage or go after our livestock.  They stay far away,” avoiding humans.

Wolverine Photo by Norton

Wolverine Photo by Norton

He’s a solitary, tireless journeyman. His incredible claws enable him to easily climb trees, and to be an amazing mountaineer, with no landscape posing a challenge to him.  Jeff Copeland once watched a male wolverine climb 5,000 vertical feel on Mount Cleveland in about 90 minutes. His claws can also tenaciously hold onto prey, as in one account clinging to the throat of a polar bear until it suffocated.

Wolverine (Wiki Zefram)

Wolverine (Wiki Zefram)

Although he’s a solitary traveler, he’s also a family man too. “Reproduction is by delayed implantation.  Females breed in summer, but the embryos don’t implant for several months, finally developing into fetuses in early winter, with birth taking place a few months later in late January through April.” (Montana Outdoors) So the female can decide when her kits are born.  Up to five kits are born in rocks, hollow trees or in deep tunnels built into the snow, and they are weaned and ready to go after two months, staying with Mom Wolverine a year or two, with Dad Wolverine coming for visits from time to time. Recent information reveals that the males will form lifetime relationships with two or three females, visiting them occasionally, although some males never have a mate.  Father makes visits to his offspring until they are weaned and some kits reconnect with their father at about six months, travelling with him for a time, with Dad teaching them the ropes.

Wolverine (Matthias Kabel)

Wolverine (Matthias Kabel)


A 1994 movie, “Running Free” (also known as “One Paw”) is about a young boy and his friendship with an Alaskan wolverine.  The first full-length documentary about them was called “Wolverines – Hyenas Of The North”, produced in 2006 by German Gulo Films for German TV, and has been broadcast in many countries as “Wolverine X” or “Wolverine Revealed”, and in the US as an episode of Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.  It has won more than 20 international festival awards and nominations.

Here is a great YouTube video called “The Wolverine Whisperer” which will give you a wonderful view of two tamed wolverine kits. I found it fascinating, and very informative, and I hope you will take the time to watch.  It’s a one hour documentary, so please come back to continue visiting my blog once you’ve watched it.

There is also a series of six videos showing a 2013 Canadian Alberta wolverine tracking project, showing the building of a special trap (they’re too smart for ordinary traps), how it works, various visitors to the trap – including wolverines, but also showing an ermine, marten, fisher and a wolf, how they gently treat the wolverine, wake him up, let him go, and examining what great clean-up artists they are at a kill site.  You can see these videos by clicking The Wolverine Foundation’s website link below. Once there, scroll down to “On The Wolverine Trail” and click Chapters 1 through 6.

http://wolverinefoundation.org/news .

We need to know more about him to keep this incredible critter around, so that the wolverine is not only safe in Canada but in the U.S., Europe and China as well.

Wolverine from PBS's Nature - Wolverine: Chasing the Phantom

Wolverine from PBS’s Nature – Wolverine: Chasing the Phantom

Hope you’ve had an enjoyable visit — come back again and see what’s in the other blogs….. (some neat stuff!)

Waving ‘bye!  …. ej