Saturday, June 17, 2017


My heart is broken and I am almost without words.

My sweet old horse died this afternoon, just a few steps out of his barn.  I was getting ready to feed him before we went to eat supper.  I looked out towards his usual hangout, where he would stand to escape the flies and the sun.  I knew when I saw him down he wasn't getting up again.

He was 39 and until the last couple years he had been in perfect health.  He had been having some breathing issues the last year or so, but he never was in distress.  He just slowed down.  He ate his breakfast this morning with his usual relish and gusto.

 I wasn't expecting it.  I still don't believe it.  I keep looking out to see where he is.

But he's gone.

I know I will look for him every morning.  I will feel like I should be feeding him, heading out to see him watching for me.  Listening to him call when I come out the door.  Sticking his nose out to get rubbed, scratching that spot under his neck that sent him into another place.  Licking my hand and arm when I'm trying to fix the fence or reach the feed buckets.

He was such a good horse, so sweet natured.  So funny.  So calm. The horse I always wanted and more than I could every have hoped for.

Good bye Jac.  I hope your life was as good as you made mine.

Friday, June 9, 2017


Well I feel bad that I haven't written in here for over a month.  But I have been doing a lot of stuff and haven't had the inclination I guess.

My back yard has some really good views!

I am super tired this morning.  I have been getting up and getting to school by 6 (bangs head on table) to get my hours in for our "summer curriculum writing camp".  I am not sure who thought they should call this camp, but they are wrong.  There was no singing campfire songs and toasting marshmallows involved.  The word camp should never be involved with an extension of your work year,- truly it was an inservice and involved no ghost stories at night or swimming or any other "camp activities".

So, I will be done by noon because I have been getting to school so early- my 40 hours of "camping" will soon be up.  I am going to get a nice little lunch in with my dear friend the Mad-Science Teacher but then home I go.

This weekend I have to make a run to Rhinelander for what I shall call a little repair project for now- more to come on this later, stay tuned.  Sunday I can't even think of what the heck I was going to do because I am TIRED and could have slept for ages.....   But if nothing else, Monday it seems that grand baby #5 will be born so I am on Gramma duty for that day.  Unless something happens earlier that is.  :)  And it will be a little girl!

Oh I know, the Mad-English teacher is coming and we are going to go up to Bayfield for our end of school thing.  And he and I have an additional adventure scheduled in just over a week.  But I will tell you more about that at a later date as well.

Anyway, I can't sit here and ruminate over events of the last month or so as I have to go get ready for work.  My hand is so sore from computer work (and from garden weeding as well) that I am just shuddering at the thought....  I am not made to sit at a desk all day.  I will take the kids to teach, thank you very much.

Meanwhile I think I will post the requisite cloud picture and get going.  I believe my coffee has begun to kick in and I don't feel quite so zombie like.  Sort of.

Have a wonderful Friday- as I prepare to get the heck out of here and go to school......  if someone came and kidnapped me and say gave me a ride on their motor cycle from here to maybe way WAY south - or east or west- or even possibly north, I would not object.  Just sayin' people.  ;)

Find your
And kayaking happened a few days ago!  

joy and be kind.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Nostalgia..... or the old houses that I have found

Winter was not particularly fun this year.
 I did not manage to get out on my snow shoes- thank you to my broken toe for that one.  I only got to Bayfield a couple times, and I was stuck in a funk that sucked my soul dry.  Most people have no idea this happened, as i was pretty  much acting like myself most of the time.  But I got stressed out so easily, I was so emotional when I was away from people (I spent a lot of time trying not to fall apart), and really I just didn't feel like moving.  And then there was the play.... 

Turns out this is a shed a friends Great Grandpa lived in for a while back in the day

The hidden side of life

And consequently I went for probably a month without taking photos.  This is never good- I get my energy off of this "hobby" of mine. And as shown in my last post, I began taking pictures and for some reason I decided to go after abandoned houses of the area.  The reason among other more personal things is that this subject really stretches your abilities- and is a challenge.  These are not traditionally "pretty", so you  don't take them on like many subjects.You have to think about how to best compose the photos, straight on, to the side, from a low angle.... what lighting, what about inside?  I rarely go inside of the houses because I value my life and limbs, however sometimes if it is the right situation, that is an amazingly satisfying thing to do.  Up here, there are not a lot of big abandoned farm houses and Victorian mansions- there are a lot of small houses that people eked out an existence up here in the 20th century, it was not an easy life.

Quickly breaking down

One of the rare Victorians left from the turn of the 20th century

North side of the stone house

Of course you all know that I have a history of photographing old houses anyway- the stone house and its partner across the road have been subject of mine for about 10 years.  But with the urging and directions from a friend, I discovered the schoolhouse up near Cornucopia and that sort of planted the seed of exploration.

Abandoned school house that sparked the fire

In late March I decided that I needed to get out of the house and do something creative.  I knew my lull had to come to an end, so I went up to Butternut and shot the old Victorian that is sitting right on the highway.  It was sort of magical, I went and shot a couple other little places that day.  I then started asking people if they knew of abandoned houses, and you know what?  People don't notice them, so no one knows where they are at first.  This is frustrating, but I keep nudging at people until they start to think.
The textures of the paint, the curtains and trees growing in front of the door are so compelling

And now we know why it is still here

Fortunately I KNEW that the Mad-Barber would be a great source of information and indeed we went on a very satisfying road trip to the north a bit one afternoon and that was quite fantastic.  I think we found 5 places, including a very cool car at one place that wasn't all that interesting.  I had a friend take me to two abandoned cabins- more on that later- and the MA and I finally were able to get out and about and we found some together too.  Good stuff!

This is hidden by brush much of the summer

The things that people discard is incredible
Would a new tire help?
So speaking of abandoned cabin- I have had some incredible responses to these photos.  Which was very exciting but also a bit surprising!  What was real surprising was the fact that I had 4 people want to buy prints from me- 4!  WUT??  This is my passion and creative outlet and obsession, but I never truly imagined selling anything.  So, yeah.  I am still a bit stunned by this.  

Little cabin in the woods.....
An edit of this is being printed- a few times

I have an unreasonable love for this

Anyway, that has been my thing for the last few weeks- I have been shooting old stuff.  And fortunately so far avoiding wood ticks.  It was nice that we had a couple days off right after the play, I got lots of good shots those days- it is nice to have time beyond the weekend to really be able to spend a proper amount of energy on fewer locations.  

It's a Jeep!

Old garage in an alley in Fifeld

And yes I have a few more places in mind!  :D  And I have another post about these places and objects as well, but that might have to wait for a day or two.

Be sure to find your joy this spring, no matter the weather, no matter the people who want to keep you from it.  Summer is coming people, hang in there! 
Behind the Stone House 

Up to it's axles in grass

Come on in 

Watch your step


The stories it still holds

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Well, Well, hello April

Doesn't time fly??  


The Musical is over and I had a super short week of school, and have now really enjoyed 3 days of a ridiculously short "spring break".  I realized when I sorted through and deleted probably 800 photos on my editing program that I hadn't downloaded any pictures for at least 3 weeks.  I had a few on the camera, but not enough to make me remember after a long day of work and play practice to open up the camera and insert SD card into card slot on my trusty little laptop.

Pancake ice on Lake Superior
That was sad.  So I invited my dear friend Cat to come along with me on a journey to the north and of course I took my camera.  We did a little hiking, a little eating, a little shopping and a whole lot of catching up- good day. My camera got a great workout, and I then had days in front of me that are lending themselves to mini photoshoots.

One of several lovely sunrises lately

I have many photog friends whose work I admire, and several of them do a spectacular job capturing abandoned houses, buildings and vehicles.  I have been a fan of this for a while, but until recently haven't specifically worked on those subjects.  I mean I have taken photos of the stone house and the remnants of the ghost house for years, and I have painted pictures of old trucks and cars that I had photographed, so the interest has been there.

Not much holding this up
This fence appears to be keeping this building from falling over
So  I have done a few photos of different abandoned or empty buildings which is a hoot.  When something is part of your landscape, sometimes you don't really see them.  I shot one place that is on my drive to school, I mentioned it to the MA and he said- yeah I had thought of that, but didn't think it was worth it..... well, don't make that decision for me!  It was worth the stop.

Not worth mentioning....

Trumpeter swan

Speaking of the MA, another nice thing about these days off is that I actually sat at the dining room table and ate lunch with him in my own house!  As mundane as that sounds, it doesn't happen much.  When one (ahemCPAtypescough)  gets home at 8/9 at night, one's spouse does definitely NOT wait for you for supper.  Of course Saturdays are meant for eating out and Sundays we both seem to be hurrying to get back to something else, so lunch may or may not be eaten in the living room.....  rumor has it, you know!
yesteryear wasn't so long ago

AND speaking of eating out, I am very very excited to anticipate the opening of a new restaurant in town here.  The likes of which we have NEVER had here- the likes of which you have to travel many miles to get a similar experience.  It is called Valerie Mae's and it is being opened by a former student of mine who is involved in running his family's farm (Shady Knoll) and has brought farm to table produce almost all year round.  I am thrilled to be getting some fresh green things again to eat and can't wait to begin dining in the restaurant.  YAY!!

Anyway, the sun is shining and I am feeling the need to go out into it.  Hope your April 1 is fun and not annoying like many April Fools jokes are-

Be a joy giver today and always, and it will be returned to you.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

A whole pile of random things...

So I sort of have lots and nothing much to say.....  this is my mood these days.  Which is mostly just fine with me.  Those who need to know my stuff do- and those who don't, well, don't.

First off, I recently purchased an AMAZING wide angle lens for my camera. (Insert happy dancing here)  And I do mean amazing.  It is the lens I have wanted my whole life and didn't know it.  I will be using it for cloud pix and landscapes mostly, and already, it is so incredibly satisfying.  It ticks off so many many of my photography needs....  I could soliloquize for days, but I won't.  But look!  LOOK at those pictures!!! It really bothers me that I didn't have it for my Bayfield trip.  I had ordered with what I thought was plenty of time, but the order got hung up in processing.  Um- wut?  If I didn't know that lens was going to be amazing for me I would have canceled.  I'm glad I didn't though- so very glad.  But what is up with that Canon???  HMMMM???

This was a really good weekend for the most part, I got a lot of little things done- plus finished one book and polished off a collection of short stories.  GOOD STUFF PEOPLE!!

The short story collection especially was excellent- called Drown by Junot Diaz.  A group of 10 stories about different members of a family based in the Dominican Republic and in the US.  Some brutal stuff, but quite compelling.  One of my favorite books in this genre!   The favorite other short story collection that I always recommend is Interpreters of the Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri - both worth picking up and reading.

Old house with a bit of mystique

In other news it has been cold and tomorrow will be warm and then it will get cold and I want daffodils.  The warm weather has pushed me into premature daffodil longing- I try not to think about it too much before the end of March, but here I am- wanting some.  I've had a couple photos sent my way by people that understand- - -  I will take more of those!!!!  :)    Pictures will do until I can either pick some or procure them in another way.  

The MA has been busy busy this month, as you all mostly know.  He sort of hit the ground running very early in January and has been in the office every day since.  LONG days....  So when he gets here we do chit chat a bit.  The man is getting even funnier these days- I feel like I should get a book and record the things he has been saying, sort of like what you want to do for your kids or the students at school.  Because you know you are never going to remember them in an hour.  The last thing he said a couple days ago- and maybe it is funnier to me than any one else when we were discussing the lengths that people go to maintain their accountant.  The miles they drive, the things they do.....  he tells me: No one wants to tell the new guy about their life.  Which like I said, sent me into fits of giggles, but other people may not get it??  No?  Oh well.  Anyway, he sleeps a lot in front of the tv after he finishes supper.

LOOK at that smooshy, kissable face
Not me though, the more I do at school the less likely I am to sleep.  It is just a wonderful thing being awake for the 4th time at 11:30 pm- said no one ever.  So I slept a lot (I got laughed at when I said I slept "in" until 6:30, but that IS sleeping in for me!) this weekend, as I really was able to relax.

As you may or may not know, tis the play time of the year and the Chequamegon school is putting on The Music Man- you know- 76 trombones and all that.  Lots of fun- silly, catchy songs.  Plenty of scenery to paint.  And my initial massive group of enthusiastic volunteers has dwindled a bit.  But such is the life of the Mad-Art teacher!  We will be fine, the troops will rally.

Last month's visit with the grandgirlies
It has been intense at school, though.  Many students have a hard time in the middle of the year like this- the winter, the school work, the rare days off and the stresses of families seem to add up to a lot of kids in distress.  Seniors are focused on finishing strong, junior are worried about imminent ACT tests, sophomores are sort of lost and freshmen still- as a group- are pretty clueless. But warmer, longer days are coming- and we will make it. As I said in my last post, this snow day could not have come at a better time.  We needed this unexpected mental health day.

I still have more artwork to get into the hallways, I need to do my high school progress reports and I shall be needing to get to looking at art work for the upcoming art show as well.  So there will be no easing up in the foreseeable future.  But that just makes the week go fast, so thats ok.

Lots of things coming up, lots of things to make the day go by fast.  I've said frequently the last few weeks that I would love to discover a worm hole and a perpendicular universe so I could come to school- get into that time warp and clean both of my rooms- then come out of it and teach school.  In a tidy art environment.  That would be great- someone needs to hook me up with that - K?  Anyone?

So, I am feeling like I need to get out a book and read and relax and get myself to bed here soon.  I hope all of you have a great productive week and if I find someone who can direct me to the nearest 4th dimension, I will let you know so you can get everything done you need to do, too!  I'm helpful like that!  And I send you a week full of joy as well.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Best Possible Snow Day

Yesterday we had a snow day.  The weather people were messing with us for a week saying we would get x number of inches of snow- then they would decrease the number and then increase and winter storm watch and then warning and then advisory.....  sheeeeeesh.

I got up yesterday and was bitterly disappointed that a. there was barely a dusting of snow on the ground and b. that the phone hadn't rung at 5am announcing that there was no school.  I was secretly mad at the MA as he predicted  the night before there would be no storm to speak of because it didn't "feel right" out there.  I ordered him to bed as he laughed at me and made fun of me/pitied me.  Lol.  Such a smartie pants he is. Who died and made him weather man??  

Ah..... a cup of joy and delight perfect for a snow day

Anyway, I was kind of worried as there was virtually no snow.  So I was wasting my time, dragging my feet getting dressed until the last minute and literally the second I had begun to stand up to find my jeans and something presentable on top- my phone rang!  WHAT???

So yeah, there was a snow day with virtually no snow.  AND the storm stayed south of us.  BUT thanks to the weather people and almost every school in the northern half of Wisconsin, the threat was real enough for everyone to call school.

Don't you dare judge the administration for this!!!  First of all can you imagine how obnoxious it is to call an early day if the weather had disintegrated and we needed to get the kids home early?  AND in our particular case we have the largest area wise school district in the state- there are some kids who are on the bus for an hour or more and in the remotest places you can imagine.  So, lets not be hasty to call them out.

The thing is that we all needed this day. Staff, administration and students.  A break from all practices, meetings, classes, hallway incidences, sickness, traumas brought to school from home and on and on. WE NEEDED THIS!!!!!  For me (it's my blog and I'll whine if I want to) I have been pushing to get art work done for next week, trying to get grading done for progress reports, do scenery painting after school, etc. etc.  Lots of drama everywhere.  Lots of counseling of many of my favorite kids. (On the record- I have no favorites.  Off the record- some of them just need me, so of course I secretly love them the most ;) )  I come home, crash and burn, eat a little and then sleep like crap.  So this day was needed and wanted and it was loved and cherished and admired.

I cooked a little, read a lot, had a visitor (hi Jake!), drank copious amounts of coffee, chatted a bit on the phone, and I felt layer after layer of stress and anxiety (oh yes I have that in spades) peel off of me.  I slept really well last night.  whew.

So today it is windy and pretty and I don't foresee a whole lot of outside activity.  I have to do a little grading, some prep work for a meeting I have next week, and a touch of mending, but there are these books that need to be read and probably some photos that need to be edited from fun trips, and a camera that needs to be mastered....  

I will find my zen, my peace and my joy!

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Winter Photo shoot

Last weekend I took a fun mini-vaca with a couple of my friends- the Mad-Science teacher and the Mad-English teacher- to (prepare yourselves, it will be a surprise, I am confident) the north- specifically we stayed in Bayfield (told ya) :P

Abandoned school 

Anyway, I needed to get my mojo back (winter depression?- idk)  and that has to include some photography and that is what I want to feature here!

Lake Superior and not a lot of snow, but lotta ice!
We did a LOT of fun things, some of it food related, most of it activity related.  We did a swing around the Hwy13/Hwy 2 loop of northern WI, including a couple waterfalls, an abandoned school house, replete with an equally abandoned piano (obsession admitted), an extremely cold beach, and awesome diner and 3 tired travelers.  And oh so many many photos- plus there was some dogsled races and a ferry ride with a hike on an island as well.  Add in an amazing apartmenty-sort of sleeping quarters, some Big Water coffee shopping and of course Coco's- and there is some amazing time away from home that was just what we all needed.

It was a perfect day for photography
I have been smitten by the idea of this abandoned school since I heard about it a few months ago.  It is in a state of disrepair and it will indeed decay completely if it is left as is.  There have been a lot of people in there tagging and such, which I suppose is what happens these days.

The piano is amazing- in an old abandoned sort of way.

Only ivory left to tickle
The audience was silent tonight
As is expected in Wisconsin in February, most of the water was frozen- including the waterfalls, but there was certainly enough beauty to record.
Walking on the creek to Twin Falls

Frozen Twin Falls by Port Wing, WI
Pancake ice in the little bit of open water at Amncion Falls.

Mother Nature was kind enough to gift me with this INCREDIBLE sunrise.....  I sure can get dressed in a hurry.  Lol.  Bayfield just never disappoints. Seriously, this is not color enhanced, just cropped.  It was astounding

This still amazes me

We had a cold and fun time both at the Apostle Island Dog Sled Races and also hiking around on a VERY cold Madeline Island.  Going on the ferry cutting through the ice is an experience unlike any other.
They LOVE to run....

and they smile all the way!

It was dreary that day but oh well.

I heart Madeline Island and Big Bay State Park

Found a little blue shelf ice by the Ferry Dock in LaPointe- but no where else

Looking towards Bayfield

Frozen (ice)  hills on Lake Superior- I was standing on the lake there, and I could only take about 2 shots before the cold wind forced my hands back in my gloves.

Will the next performer please take a seat....

If you think sled dogs don't get love- you are all sorts of wrong

I have so so many pictures to edit yet, but I am going to take my time.

It really was a  fantastic weekend for photos and catching up with good friends....  and finding so much joy in totally expected places.