Category Archives: Uncategorized

Falling Waters State Park, Florida

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We left our friends behind in Florida and began our long slow migration north. In previous years we have taken 4-5 weeks to get home and our plans was to do the same. Our first step was therefore only a short distance away at Falling Waters State Park. The park was badly damaged by Hurricane Michael and had only just reopened after months of clean up. As we expected the park still showed a lot of damage from the hurricane. While the campsite itself was mostly clear, there were a lot of places still piled high with windblown debris. Several stretches of the hiking trails had major detours and one large boardwalk trail was still closed. However the main attraction, the creek flowing down and falling 72 feet into a large sinkhole, was open. It was running fairly quickly that first visit on our arrival day.

We stayed two nights and very much enjoyed ourselves. The campground is very busy and the sites are highly variable in quality. I strongly recommend reservations. Ours was a tight fit and we had to unhitch. It was beside an area still uncleared from the hurricane so we had to deal with things like mounds of overhanging and tangled vines with big spikes. The washrooms were in clean and excellent shape and the hosts were wonderful. There is a small artificial lake and swimming hole with a sandy beach that would have been very attractive except for the alligator dangers signs. We didn’t go swimming. 

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The second day we spent walking the trails that were open. Many of the trails were long boardwalks and they had lots of sections with brand new wood. There were also crews busy repairing and cleaning so all day long we heard the sound of small tractors and chainsaws. Even so it was really lovely The spring flowers were all in bloom. There were many beautiful ferns and mosses. It had rained a lot overnight and so the creek leading to the waterfall was running vigorously and we got really lovely display. 

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Overall it was well worth the stop and I’m glad we visited the highest point in Florida and saw Florida’s biggest waterfall. Next stop on our long migration home for 2019 was Isaac Creek, Alabama.

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That Canada Goose Problem

When I was a little girl, the Canada Goose was in danger of extinction. I explicitly recall a great event when I was perhaps four or five years old. There was an uproar in the neighbourhood and my father grabbed me to run outside and see something wonderful. All up and down the street were neighbours pointing at the sky and hold up their children in great excitement. My mother clapped her hands and shouted “Spring is coming at last!”

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As we all watched a flock of about fifty Canada geese flew over honking and calling, me on my father’s board shoulders. I remember thinking it was pretty neat. I had never seen such a bird before.

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My father then went on to tell me the great birds had once filled the skies but they were now in danger of going extinct because of the greed and stupidity of humanity who had over hunted the glorious bird. I was really sad that the day might come that these majestic birds with their haunting call might vanish from the earth. If things don’t change, my father said, my children would not get to see a migrating goose. I was sad. It was the start of my interest in being an environmentalist.

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Flash forward five decades (okay five decades plus a few years) and not only has that Canada Goose not gone extinct, it has become a right bloody nuisance. There is currently a Canada Goose hiding out in a Winnipeg car wash trying to survive the winter in the cold. It is far too canny for anyone to catch. The reason geese are thriving is because they have adapted to us and like our golf courses, suburbs and even our car washes. All I can say (after a muttered curse when I have goose poop on my shoes again) is I wish every species in danger of going extinct could have such a resurgence. On the other hand, I should be careful what I wish for.

Update” That silly goose was finally rescued.

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Migration South Day 7-9 – South Kansas

We left Fort Kearney and it was freezing cold. As the day progressed and we moved south it got warmer. Our original plan was to try to get to a KOA just north of Oklahoma City. It was a long trip. Dick checked our KOA campground book and discovered there was another year round KOA near Wellington Kansas about twenty miles (32 km) or so from the border with Oklahoma. That shaved some two hours of driving so we diverted there. We settled into the Wellington KOA and signed up for two days.IMG_4273

We had been driving in above zero weather for about four hours and temperature was a balmy (compared to what we had been dealing with) 7C (45F). To my great relief, as soon as we hooked up to the sewer and I pulled the valves, they opened easily and the trailer drained. More important, they closed perfectly afterward. Letting your plumbing freeze up is a bad thing to do. When it freezes you can damage things. This time we got lucky.

There were a few things we really needed to do. Most important, we both needed a good hot shower. We had a big pile of laundry to do the next day. We also had tracked mud all over the trailer and it was in sore need of a good cleaning and there was a lot of stuff to sort and put away. This is why we like to check into a “proper” campground every so often. KOAs are rarely beautiful on lakesides with gorgeous views although that can happen. They are almost uniformly solid and reliable when it comes to whether the WIFI works, the cable connects, and full hookups with water and sewer are available. They are also pretty uniformly clean and well run. We have rarely been disappointed. The Wellington KOA was a better run KOA with a cheerful fellow who greeted us nicely. We settled in for a day of cleaning and catch up. The weather was lovely and we took a long walk the second afternoon. We found some neat things like a windmill and lots and lots of hedge apples and glorious junipers taller the us and magnificent cedars.

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The weather reports were turning ominous though. Our area was supposed to be hit by severe weather Friday night. We did what we usually did. We changed our path to go a bit west out of the yellow hatched danger zone on the NOAA map. There was a promising state park near Enid, out of the danger zone. It was called the Great Salt Plains State Park. The drive was only 72 miles (116km) an easy hop skip and jump, so we decided to take it. We slept in, we said goodbye to the Kansas, and the very nice KOA just before check out, and by 2:00pm we were comfortably settled in a wonderful spot on the river in full view of a beautiful spillway that looked like a big two tier waterfall. Lovely!

Preparations to Head South Again

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We are in preparation mode as we get ready to head south again. It’s cold in Manitoba and the snow is here to stay. We had some friends over for supper last night and they left with hugs and wishes for safe travels. I fell asleep considering what lies ahead.

We had replied to an invitation to visit West Texas but our potential host meanwhile went on her own trip during this time frame, so we have no specific destination and no specific plans. Last year we returned to Panacea, Florida by following the coastline and we stopped at several lovely seashore campgrounds along the panhandle. We had tentatively decided to do that again but many of our favourite spots were horrifically damaged by Hurricane Michael and won’t be open. Our special favourite St Joseph Peninsula State Park is just plain gone. The camping spot we enjoyed so much is now part of an island. Falling Waters State Park was on our to do list but you can’t get to the waterfall so we’ll wait. I’m not sure I want to take that coast road and see the region I loved so much in its mortally wounded state. All our plans are up in the air, except of course Gulf Specimen Marine Lab which was injured but was back up and running in a week having gotten only the edge of Michael.

This trip represents our nineth trip south. Some of our best experiences have been found by just winging it as we travel wandering about with no special plans. Part of me is delighted with the prospect. Another part of me is looking forward to going back to some of our favourite discoveries from past trips and another part of me wants to go looking for new wonders. Last year we finally got to Utah and it was as wonderful as I expected it would be. I kind of have a hankering to finally get to the Corpus Cristi area which is the winter home of so many snowbirds. There are a couple of iconic places like San Padre Island I would like to see. I loved Galveston and I kind of want to go back there. On our trip to visit a colleague in Beaumont we passed a few intriguing looking campground in a barren area cleared by Hurricane Ike that are tempting. Then again, there are all those lovely Army Corps of Engineer campgrounds across the middle of Alabama and Mississippi the we loved so much and would love to camp in again.

Right now our only firm plans are to get to the year round Sioux City North KOA in South Dakota, the first place we can hit with full hookups. Unless of course we decide to go south via Minot which might happen yet. Which way go will depend on the weather, what strikes our fancy, and what calls to us. We’ll see.

Baking Soda Paste for Sliver Removal

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My life has been quiet in our little town. I haven’t had much to share. However I did have one experience that I think deserves sharing. A few days ago I was rototilling my garden in preparation for winter. I was pulling some large dead parsley plants up and I got a nasty sliver in my thumb. It hurt. I pulled it out but it kept on hurting.

I had three days of pain and misery that interfered with my sleep and the spot fussed and wept and pussed. I couldn’t see anything. I soaked the wound in salt water and I tried peroxide. Nothing helped but pain killers. I decided after the third night that if it wasn’t better by morning I would have to make a trip to a clinic and get a doctor to help. I couldn’t see anything but maybe I had an infection.

Just before I took a pain killer and went to bed, I tried a search on line and found a reference to using baking soda to remove slivers. The instructions are simple. Make a thick paste of the baking soda and water. Place this on the site of the sliver. Bandage loosely. Leave overnight.

The next morning I carefully removed the bandage and checked it. Nothing. I looked at the wound and saw something sticking up about 1.5mm (about 1/10th inch) from the wound. I used a tweezer to pull and to my astonishment a sliver nearly one centimetre long came out of the wound. The sliver was stuck in at 90 degrees to the skin and must have gone in to hit bone. It was also stiff and hard, almost as hard as wood. Because of the colour, I couldn’t see it in my skin. Because of the angle it went in, only the end was visible but it was far too deep to grab before the baking soda treatment. After I pulled the sliver out, I could see a hole in my thumb. No wonder it hurt!

The pain immediately eased up. Within a few hours the hole was closed. Now, two days later, the wound is almost healed. Anyway, that sliver was a very small thing on the scale of things we suffer with in life, but I think it worth sharing. The baking soda trick worked for me.

UNSAID …

A philosophy that deserves embracing. I will try.

Regie's Blog

All marriage counselors tell you to never cross that line.

Every married couple knows where that line is. It’s the point of no return …the thing you cannot UN-say. Once you have shared enough of your soul with another person, they know where your weak spots and painful places are. And as married people, we have a sacred duty to each other, to never go near those places.

If you know your spouse has a horrible body image and has battled that her entire life, you NEVER say anything about her weight …even if she’s struggling with it. In fact, ESPECIALLY when she’s struggling with it. If that is her issue, your saying, “you know, it wouldn’t hurt you to lose a few pounds,” is shattering trust you might not ever get back. They are only words and there are only a few of them. But they represent something deep…

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May 2018 Garden Update

We finished one of the coldest (but not record breaking) Aprils on record with one of the coldest (but not record breaking) starts to May. We are now baking in a powerful (but not record breaking) heat wave for the end of May. My point is our climate in Manitoba is one of extremes. You have to garden by going with the weather nature sends. I folded up my wonderful greenhouses and put them away until next year four days ago. While we may have more cold yet, (and that would not break a record unless it got colder than the -6.0C high of 1983) with severe storms in the forecast and the plants having outgrown their shelving, it was time. I had great fun with the greenhouses this year. That is especially so because of the cold spring delaying the normal greening I would otherwise have been outside enjoying. I look forward to being able to enjoy them again next spring.

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Spring was unusually cool though not record breaking. I used my greenhouses daytime but for many nights had to bring plants indoors for the nights. This picture was April 26 which shows how cold our spring was.

I was concerned that the extreme cold we had this winter combined with low snowfall meant that many of the precious trees I had so carefully planted would die. I was delighted to discover I only lost one tree. We planted nearly 200 little spruce trees that were government giveaways to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary. These trees were once abundant in our quarter section but spruce were largely extirpated by settlers for use in making furniture and they used spruce for firewood. The majority of the seedlings we had went into our quarter section so we could help restore the natural state of it. We planted 12 in our yard and all but one survived so I am hopeful it will be the same on our quarter section. About half, like this one, had some cold damage but also have new growth and should recover.

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Little spruce coming back after some winter damage.

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I am most excited to see my Saskatoons are taking off. They seemed to spend most of last year and their first year just kind of sitting there. I know they were putting in deep roots in preparation for the big take off but it was discouraging to have to wait for visible signs of growth. This spring it’s there. I am still years away from any substantial crop but this sweet blue-apple berry is a special favourite of mine and it has deep historically important roots for our area. Because of the dry weather I have been diligently watering all my little trees. This had no doubt helped even though well water is never as good as rainwater for trees.

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Due to the weird weather, very cold spring followed by a week of steady 30C+ (86F) daily heat in extreme dry conditions (for the end of May) an explosion of blooms has taken place. Normally we have one thing blooming and then the next. Right now it feels like everything is blooming all at once. I am enjoying the insane catch up blooming a lot. I have never before had so much in bloom all at once. You have to watch where you step because of all the bees feasting in the grass.

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I planted the seed part of my garden in a frantic rush because of the prediction for rain. I rototilled twice, added peat moss and fertilizer and then seeded. I spaced my rows at least double wide from previous years. Hopefully I finally got the rows wide enough to actually run my tiller between the rows. This has meant some downsizing in what I am planting. This year I dramatically reduced certain things we had too much to use last year, like beets. I also switched my cucumbers to the same pot method I use for zucchinis. I moved my green peppers from the main garden where they never did well, to my herb garden. Hopefully they will do better there with more sun and better drained soil. This year, with the bigger greenhouse giving me more room, I also started flowers. They are now in pots hopefully planning to bloom soon too. Morning glories are a special favourite of mine and I have had no luck at all with them here near the 51st parallel. This year I started them early in pots. Maybe I will finally get to enjoy their blooms again. I also found that the heat caused my tomato plants to take off so quickly that their tops quickly outgrew their pots. Even though it is entirely possible to have more frosts, I relented, perhaps foolishly, and set them out in the tomato garden. I moved six plants into bigger pots. That way I can still have a few tomatoes even if I get frosted out and I am also going to be trying growing tomatoes in pots if it doesn’t freeze.

Of my garden vegetable/fruit perennials all of them survived and are growing nicely. I have rhubarb, chives, horseradish, asparagus, strawberries, raspberries, and garlic in abundance. It has been very dry so I have been watering even the established plants. I also kept red onion seeds and I have planted them among my tomatoes to drive off aphids. I have already said the special blessing for great events, the shehecheyanu because I was able to use chives from my garden in my potato salad which I have not been able to do since the last Jewish new year.

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Our stately Manitoba Maples were the only plants that did not seem bothered by the strange weather. They were covered in their hanging blooms the bees love so much that the whole tree buzzes each spring. For a while they were the only food available for the poor little bees. The maples have long since dropped their blooms and are fully leafed out right on schedule, oblivious to the crazy weather. My hammock was out once the weather warmed up but I took it in because of the rain forecast. It has been too hot to use it since the rain. We had an extremely dry spring. I put in my potato plants the standard eight inches deep and the ground  was bone dry even that deep. I postponed the planting until the day before the rain was due. We had about an inch and the garden is now in better shape water wise but we need a lot more rain.

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There is a spot near our garage which I have left to go wild. For the last three summers I have enjoyed blue bells in this location and it looks like I will again this summer.

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Finally there are the nuisances. Each year I have to hunt up new thistle plants and pour boiling water on them or I end up with giant ugly plants that are a danger to everyone. And the maple trees drop seeds everywhere and they grow fast and would soon wreck walls and foundations if not removed. It was apparently a good year for both thistles and maple seedlings. Dandelions are both in and out of this category. I love their bright yellow blooms but they are growing in a lot of places I don’t want them.

My rain barrel is full and I have a new garden box the will remain covered for this season. The result should be the grass and weeds underneath will be killed and with the additional some soil I will have a new garden box for next year. I have a lot of weeding and cleaning and mowing ahead. The grass is out of control. Bring on summer. I am so ready for eating fresh veggies and fruit from my garden.