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Saturday, May 26, 2018

Author and Artist Event

 
Today was an event at the local bookstore, BookMark, in Ludington. It featured interviews with Linda J. Sandow, my cover artist for the children's mysteries, and me. This was a somewhat low-key event, so I was really happy to have this good a turnout.

author event at BookMark, Ludington, MI

Hanne Kelly is a great moderator for these. She is good at asking questions and instigating interaction. She is the one standing.

You can see cover art from The Secret Cellar on display. Linda is selling a few limited edition prints.

author event at BookMark, Ludington, MI

Here is some of that interaction between Linda and me. It was actually pretty exciting, because Linda brought the draft of the color cover for The Bigg Boss. I had not seen a completed version of that before. We talked about how our collaboration came about, and how it has grown.

We both think it's been a great thing!

author event at BookMark, Ludington, MI

Linda also shared about the children's book she's been writing. It's based on her known family history in the early 1700's. She says she's just writing it for her grandchildren, but it's really very good, and several of us hope she'll publish it.

I sold 11 books today, and BookMark stocked up with some more copies of my titles! Next event I'll be at is June 5, at the Scriptorium book store in Clawson, MI (near Detroit). 7 pm... Come if you live over that way!

In other news: Well, not much. I was mostly getting ready for this event or doing it. And it's the hottest day we've had yet. I don't do hot very well.

I did locate the shirt I'm wearing. It's cooler than a fitted shirt, and doesn't make me nuts by looking too girly. I have a piece of fabric I love from which I could make another... wonder if I can find the pattern. By July 6th would be good- I have a 2-day event that weekend.

Oh yeah. I knew there was something else. Spent time on a support chat to get my FTP server working right again. No clue why it stopped working unexpectedly. I changed nothing.

See Book Launch Event
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Friday, May 25, 2018

Being Good AND Having Fun

 
I managed to leverage a task that needed to be done with a series of fun events.

The recycling that we can't do close to home needed to be delivered, and that's also where we buy trash bags for pickup. We were completely out of bags. So, I drove up to the landfill and took care of all that. Then I visited four nearby sites that needed updating for GetOffTheCouch.info. Actually, two of them need to be added.

First I stopped at Hoags Lake. It's just a pretty little Forest Service spot where one can picnic or fish. All info was still correct.

Hoags Lake, Mason County, Michigan

Then I stopped at Canfield Lake. It's not much of a lake and didn't have true public access until a couple of years ago. (Just a local party site). Now the DNR has added some parking and it's "official." There was a guy there playing frisbee with his dog. The dog was named Prince, and he was friendly. He let me throw his frisbee for him.

dog swimming in Canfield Lake, Manistee County, Michigan

There's often a swan or two there. Today was no exception. Just a mute swan, but they are always pretty. And I like the horizontal ripples with the vertical reeds.

swan on Canfield Lake, Manistee County, Michigan

My serious goal of the day was to hike all the trails at Magoon Creek Nature Area and make good notes. It's complex because there is a whole booklet of interpretive info. There are only about 1.5 miles of trail, but I managed to make it 3.5 by the time I walked every part of every loop and got correct info. It's particularly nice because there are several ecosystems even though the area is small, and there are some good hills.

Here's where Magoon Creek empties into Lake Michigan.

Magoon Creek, Manistee County, Michigan

Just one more quick stop at Sundling Park. It's pretty much just a narrow access to the Lake Michigan beach, but Filer Township has done a nice job of landscaping that strip so you can enjoy shade and have a cooler place to picnic or rest, as well as climb down to the beach.

Sundling Park, Manistee County, Michigan

The lilacs are in full bloom and I think I'm getting high just taking in the scent. I drove home with the window open and it was wonderful!

lilacs in vase

In other news: I tried to get all those pages updated after I got home, but there is something wrong with the FTP. It was working FINE two days ago. I'll have to figure that out. All in all, a mighty fine day. A perfect fit into my master plan for my life. See a very early blog post I Could Do This for a Living.

See Spirit of the Woods at Magoon Creek
See A Lilac Year
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Thursday, May 24, 2018

Buckeye Trail Circuit Hikers

 
One of the neat things about trail conferences is talking to other people who have hiked long distances. There are more people who have hiked all of the Buckeye Trail than those who have hiked all the North Country (makes sense- the BT is "only" 1440 miles)

I like to take pictures of me with other hikers. Call it ego. Call it a club. Call it fun. Anyway... here are some.

First up is Andy Niekamp, who also wrote a book about his adventure called Captain Blue on the Blue Blazes. I had read and really enjoyed his book, so I was happy to meet him.

Buckeye Trail hikers Andy Niekamp and Joan Young

These three people are "old" friends. Ruth and Dan Dorrough and I are now the only three people who have hiked all the North Country Trail, the Finger Lakes Trail, and the Buckeye Trail. In between them is Randall Roberts who has completed the BT, and is now working on pieces of the NCT. I failed to put myself in a picture with them. Next time. (Although I have lots of pictures with Dan and Ruth)

Buckeye Trail hikers Ruth Dorrough, Randall Roberts, Dan Dorrough

You've heard about this person before. It's C.W. Spencer. Ester and I stumbled upon him and wife Bonnie hiking in northern Ohio in the fall of 2016. His book about his BT hike is also a book about grief, called Hiking Without Dave. Excellent. He also led the Sunday morning worship service at the conference.

Buckeye Trail hiker C.W. Spencer

These three people are also circuit hikers. I thought I hadn't met any of them. Wrong! The couple on the left are Chuck and Beth Hewett. They have written Wandering Ohio, which is a journal style account of their hike. Beth remembered talking with Marie and me in 2014. We had a chance encounter in northern Ohio! But this was definitely the first time I'd met Mei Ling (on the right). She is now off hiking the Appalachian Trail.

Buckeye Trail hikers Chuck and Beth Hewett and Mei Ling Liber

Long-distance hikers just naturally have things in common. It's a great informal "club" to belong to.

In other news: I was good- I stayed home and did stupid odds and ends that needed to be done. I mowed the rest of the grass and my trails, which I then hiked in the early evening. I wrote a little bit. I got the recycling sorted. I think I may go to bed with a book.

See NCT End to Enders
See Spirit Mountain
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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Red Trillium- Color Variant

 
This is hands-down the most phenomenal plant sighting of my recent trip to Ohio and Alabama. It took me a long time to figure it out, but I did accomplish the deed. I was waiting to share with you until I had my suspicions confirmed by someone with professional plant knowledge. I sent my question off to a couple of people, and Tony Reznicek (University of Michigan) was the first to respond. He verified that I had correctly identified this flower.

First of all, look at this forest opening full of trillium. Do you see anything odd about it? Probably not, it's too long a shot.

large-flowered and red trillium color variant growing together

But the trilliums aren't all the same kind! If you were there you would see how some of them look yellowish or even yellow-green. The large-flowered trilliums fade to pink as they age, so I suspected a different species. As far as I knew there is only one yellow trillium, but I wasn't sure of exactly what key features to look for. I tried to take enough photos to help me later.

red trillium color variant white yellow green

Got home and looked it up. Definitely not yellow trillium! What the heck is it? So I got out my serious guide to plant identification, Britton and Brown Illustrated Guide to Plants of the Northern States and Canada in three volumes.

When I was still at Cantwell Cliffs where we found these, this was the biggest thing that convinced me it was not the large-flowered trillium. See how the flower on the left is much shallower, and snuggles into the sepals instead of having a deep cup of petals like the one on the right?

red trillium color variant white yellow green
Then there are the business parts of the flower. Here is large-flowered on the left and the mystery trillium on the right. See how the stamens are different? See how the ovary of the one on the right is sitting right out in plain view? And it's pink.

red trillium color variant white yellow green
Sometimes that ovary is deep maroon.

red trillium color variant white yellow green
That was the aha moment. And Britton and Brown said that red trillium can occasionally be found with yellow, green or white petals. And there you have it. This is a red trillium! How awesome is that? That's one problem with flowers named for their usual color. Anyway, this is Trillium erectum, as in erect... the flowers are above the leaves and not curved downward below the leaves.

In that same patch there were a few red trilliums that actually were red!

red trillium color variant white yellow green
Color variants occur more often than you might think. I also have a picture (a very poor one) of a white pink lady slipper orchid that I saw a number of years ago.

In other news: It was a very productive day although no actual writing occurred. I spent the morning getting yet more typos fixed in the first three Dubois Files books and uploaded to all the different platforms. Hopefully that will be the last of those edits- good grief! Then I mowed lawn and dug up some autumn olive. Went to the bank and to get mower gas. Took a 5-mile walk. The weather was absolutely gorgeous. Tomorrow is supposed to be more of the same. Maybe I'll be able to justify driving a bit to hike an actual trail. Maybe I'll just finish the mowing. Stay tuned. And I'm sitting here breathing in the scent and sight of a jar full of lilac. Wonderful day!

See Cantwell Cliffs
See Almost Doubling My Trillium Life List
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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Yellow and Orange Make Me Smile

 
Just got home from writers' group, so I'll do a fast post and call it a day. The two brightest flowers from yesterday are so intense they just seem to glow.

The yellow is hoary puccoon, Lithospermum canescens. It's really similar to hairy puccoon, but it's less hairy. Now you know. I think these two plants come the closest to having the exact color of the old Crayola boxes called yellow-orange.

hoary puccoon

The other is a flower that is stunning to find in the wild. The color is outlandishly fluorescent red-orange. It's commonly called Indian paintbrush (as are several other plants), but this is Castilleja coccinea. It's secret is that the color isn't the petals. the actual tiny flower is hidden inside the bright calyx.

scarlet Indian paintbrush

I had never seen either of these flowers till I moved to Michigan.

In other news: I hung out laundry and wrote chapter 3 in The Bigg Boss. Also participated in a meeting via computer about trail stuff, then went to writers' group.

See Hairy Puccoon
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