August 25, 2015

a walk in the woods, macro-style

Small details of a late July afternoon walk in the Wisconsin woods, captured courtesy of my macro lens. Looking down (and up) at the small details gives you a different view of things. 

Click on any picture to see the photo larger.

wild raspberry (macro lens)

leaf patterns

golden light
(I did alter the coloring a bit in this photo)

lichens and moss (macro lens)

Lichens #1 (macro lens)
--reminds me of something out of a Dr. Seuss book

Lichens #2 (macro lens)

lichens and tree bark (macro lens)

forest renewal...

thistle (macro lens)

unknown forest plant (macro lens)

late afternoon sun

I hope you enjoyed my trip through the woods! 

August 24, 2015

in other news... the random edition

  • I am finally starting to feel like myself again after being sick with a cold. I had a cough that started in the middle of July when we took a 3-day road trip to Denver (to see the band Rush in concert-- it was great!!)... the cough didn't subside, and turned into a full-blown cold when we were back in Illinois and Wisconsin.  The cold symptoms were starting to go away a little more than a week ago, but the cough was still lingering... and a week ago, I either broke or dislocated my rib from coughing so hard! The doctor says the cough is getting better, and he gave me some medications to help quiet the cough so that my rib can heal.
    (only I could do something weird like that...)
  • At my work, we recently had a visit from inspectors representing the Health Ministry of the African country of Sierra Leone, because some of our products are sold there. It's amazing to think that this job allows me to meet people from places like that-- it was fascinating to talk with them.
  • We recently made a bulk purchase of 40 lbs of super-lean ground beef, so I've done a couple bulk cooking sessions- meatloaf, sloppy joes, that sort of thing. It's nice to know the freezer is stocked with menu options that I can choose from without having to cook a meal from scratch. Now, to work on menu-planning for the entire week! (that will allow me more free time for the next bullet point... plus, we're out of room in the freezer, lol.)
  • I've started scrapping again.  It's my seasonal shift in crafting, I think... the scrapbook store in Gilbert has 12-hour crops once a month, which I attended a couple weeks ago, and I just attended a Saturday night session from 5:30 to 11:30 pm. Now that I have my scrapping mojo back, I want to keep it! (gotta make some SB layouts of the Honey Museum we went to, before I forget even more of the information!! I also have some ideas in mind for Christmas presents, and it's never too early to start working on them... it is, however, too early to see Christmas decorations out for sale in the stores- ick!)
  • this is about the time of the year I get truly SICK OF the endless hot weather, and just wait for the temperatures to cool down. Fall doesn't come to the desert until about the end of October, though-- unfortunately, the 100+ F temperatures are not coming to an end anytime soon. (more time to spend indoors scrapbooking and crafting, I guess... lol!)

August 23, 2015

A honey of a museum-- ha ha!! (just a BIT of a pun, there...)

Okay, it's not really MY pun, it's the museum's pun... When we were back in IL and WI, I spent the afternoon with my older sister Judy, who lives in southwestern Wisconsin... we had a really nice lunch out, and visited a local museum she knew about in the town of Neosho, Wisconsin, about 1 hour from Milwaukee and 1 hour from Madison.  Who knew that honey had its own museum? It's associated with Honey Acres, a family-owned business that's been around since 1852 (the Honey Acres website is here).

notice the bee boxes in the background, there??

It was a gorgeous day for a drive through the country... it looked to me like the museum might be in the same building as their corporate offices? There was also a small sales area where we (of course) bought a couple items...

my sister Judy in front of the first exhibit, about bee-keeping in ancient Egypt.
I love the sort of retro honeycomb glass wall that's part of the doorway to the museum!

As far as museums go, it was typical of small quirky museums (in that it was a bit dusty and a bit 'aged' and 'kitchy') but it was also pretty neat, in my opinion. It showed bee-keeping in different periods of history and in different countries, and then went into the history of the family who founded the Honey Acres company.

This is a painted wooden bee-box used in Yugoslavia during the 1800s.
According to the literature, the painted murals 'helped the bees return to the correct hive.' Not sure whether I believe that or not (can bees really see those kind of details? Or, do they really have that poor a sense of direction?) but the decorations on it were folk art in their own right.

a close-up of one of the bee-box murals...
not sure whether this bear is going to win, or lose!

(Like usual, I took a ton of photos, and am only showing a few of them here in this post.) 
One of the exhibits that caught my eye was a display of postage stamps from all over the world featuring bees and honey... (they'd look good on a scrapbook or art journaling page, wouldn't they?? lol!)

a small selection of the bee and honey related postage stamps
(you can click to make any of the photos larger, of course!)

I confess, I don't remember exactly what I thought was so neat here to take a photo of it--
possibly I liked the different shapes of the woven bee skeps? Or possibly the fact
that bee-keeping is done all over the world, even in Japan?
In looking through my photos, I apparently didn't take as many photos as I thought-- or my memory is worse than I thought-- because I don't remember all that much of the information about the museum exhibits.  I do remember the exhibits explained the life cycle of the bees, how much work they have to do in order to produce honey, and that they produce an enzyme that changes the flower nectar into honey in the hive. 

 A few bee and honey facts (from their website): one bee typically visits between 50 and 1,000 flowers per day but it can visit up to several thousand; to produce 2 lbs of honey bees fly a distance equal to 4 times around the earth; bees do not sleep but they sometimes will rest in an empty cell inside the hive; microbes can't live in honey, so it has been used as a topical dressing for wounds; bees are the only insect to produce food for humans.

One of the displays is a window that opens into an actual bee-hive, where you can watch bees coming in and out, and working inside the hive... it was tough to get any good photos, partly because there was so much activity in one area-- perhaps the queen was underneath that pile of bees? (no idea.)

this is neat- seeing the shape of the honeycomb as they build it

a kind of bad photo, but this is the doorway into and out of their hive to the outside.
There was also a thermometer in there-- the bees generate a lot of heat with all their industry and working, because their website says the average temperature inside a hive is 93.5 degrees. (just like home in AZ, lol!!)

a gorgeous stained-glass window displayed in their sales area
one of the bee-keeping history displays showing some antique equipment

The American Bee Journal publication, from 1873
(I can't imagine it had a large readership, but maybe it did...??)

Close up of the upper section of the window-- gorgeous designs!
A number of the exhibits showed honey-extracting equipment, patents, and improvements made to the honey-making process that were made through the years by the the company, starting with C.F. Dienholt who came from Germany to Wisconsin, and his son August, who also worked in the business. Today, the company is run by 5th generation family members, and they distribute their products all over the world.

close-up of the bottom of the stained-glass window
I never really thought I liked the taste of honey, but their sales room had tasting jars of different varieties, and a couple of them were really tasty! I had to buy some, of course-- I bought a honey-dill mustard, and a couple other varieties, including some dark chocolate coins with orange-flavored honey inside-- yum.

bee boxes outside the building-- I'm thinking there are a lot more somewhere else...
This can't possibly be enough to sustain their whole operation, lol!

one lone clover flower I found outside the front of the building--
alas, there were no honeybees visiting it when we were there.
I think there was also a nature walk outside the building for even more bee-keeping and honey-making information, but we didn't have enough time to do that; we had to get going so I could get back to Wisconsin Dells by dinnertime.

I did manage to get a couple honeybee photos, though:

busy as a... a honeybee stopping at Judy's Russian sage plant

it makes me tired just thinking of all the work they go through to make that honey!
As small as bees are, and as fast as they flit around, I will still keep trying to get good photos of them when they visit the flowers, because I'm fascinated by them. (unless there's, like, 10 or more of them buzzing around one of our night-blooming cereus flowers-- then I just step away slowly and leave them be... lol! no pun intended!)

It was a really interesting (if somewhat dorky and nerd-ish) museum, and I would love to go back when we had more time... maybe on the next trip! 

But then again, there's also the Circus World Museum in Baraboo, WI... and the Lead Mine museum and tour in Shullsburg, WI that I went on years ago but would like to see again... and Frank Lloyd Wright's house and studio at Taliesen... and the Historic Cheesemaking Center in Monroe, WI... and the narrow-gauge funicular railway in Dubuque, IA... 

whew-- I think I need to make a to-do list! :D

August 12, 2015

the golden hour: light and shadow (and spots)

a couple weeks ago we were back in WI and IL to visit our families. One day, I drove from the WI Dells area to spend the afternoon with my sister. Driving back from my sister's house to the Dells late in the afternoon cross-country, I drove around a corner and came upon this beauty... I grabbed my camera and opened the passenger side window to snap a couple quick shots. (As always, click on any of them to make them larger!)

on the edge of sunlight and shadow--

zoomed in-- turns out it's one of this year's fawns
(fyi, according to the internet, fawns have an average of 300 spots)

gone! (two white tails-- can you see both of them?)

zoomed in-- they run in leaps and bounds!! 
It's too bad this time of day lasts for such a very short period of time... from looking at these pictures, it's clear to see why photographers call it the 'the golden hour' for the golden quality of the light it brings to the scene.

August 06, 2015

tonight's blog post is brought to you by the letter 'B'

a few photos from our recent trip back to the Midwest to visit my parents and Tom's family. I have tons more, but here's a few. (Click on any of the photos to make them larger!)


Bumblebee (he's busy!)

Bumblebee's butt (they were tough to get pictures of, lol!)

Birdhouse (in the prairie grass / flower patch)

(the little red) Barn... along with Mom's flowers

These photos were all taken in Mom and Dad's yard... glorious summer weather (except for the humidity, which I can't handle anymore, lol!), wonderful company and lots of conversation with Mom and Dad, and a bit of Midwestern sightseeing, along with Mom's homemade pasty. (always a treat!!) It was a really nice time, although the time went by much too quick!