Happy Halloween…

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Happy Halloween everybody.  Yesterday at work we had a pumpkin decorating contest.  There were some really creative and fun pumpkins.  I really liked this cookie monster in his trash can pumpkin.

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A lot of them were just creative and fun, your normal Halloween spooks and critters.

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Others were made to represent our products within our company.

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This one for instance, this is our Vest device.  This Vest attaches to a device and it shakes your body in just the right places to help you bring up your sputum.  It is very helpful for people with diseases such as ALS (Lou Gehrig’s), Cystic Fibrosis, quadriplegics, etc.  People who have trouble coughing up the sputum from the lower lungs so they get a lot of infections/pneumonia’s.  It helps them to live a longer life and a better quality of life. 

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A couple other examples of our devices.  They are all geared toward helping people clear the lungs and airways and breathe better.  Very beneficial for those who just can’t cough things up themselves. 

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Today is Halloween, we didn’t get a single trick or treater at our door this year.  Usually there is one little gal that comes around with her parents in a golf cart.  I saw a wagon down the road with a tractor attached and lawn chairs set up on it, thought maybe they would bring some kids around this year so I bought more candy than normal.  Nobody. :( I like seeing the kids in their costumes, I think I buy candy getting my hopes up that this will be the year.  Part of the price of living in the country, I love it most of the time but you miss out on things like this.

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The oaks seem to be hanging on to their leaves some but the majority of the leaves are now on the ground.  We took the day off work today as there won’t be many more of these nice fall days before winter.  It was the coldest day we have had, supposed to warm up again for the weekend and next week. 

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Convenient of us to choose the coldest to take off and spend outdoors.  We had a great time though.  Took a class in a different type of shooting, pistol instead of camera.  We got to class and he informed us he felt it time to learn to shoot weak hand and strong hand, one handed only.  I was nervous, could I control it with my left hand only.  I actually managed with frozen fingers to pull from a holster on my right hand side, switch it to my left hand, shoot three different targets at three different heights, moving between targets and on my first sweep I hit all three within the center circle.  Pretty proud of myself.  I didn’t shoot all my sweeps that well but for the first time with my left hand only, I was pretty happy.  What amazed me too, after half an hour of shooting in 30 degree weather with no gloves and just a windbreaker, you warm up really quick.  It doesn’t seem that physical but after two hours my hands were fairly warm and so was I.  A lot of fun.

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I did manage to get to a few fall leaves photos, as I said, they are now all the ground.  Still very pretty though. 

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Some ferns I found that I thought were cool looking, brown and fragile and still hanging on to the stem.

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The fall leaves were falling and landing on the fern for some nice contrasting effects.

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Fall is really my favorite time of the year, I like the seasons and changes but fall will always be my favorite.  The bugs are mostly gone, the temperatures are near perfect, the colors are vibrant and invigorating…. just a great time to be out and about enjoying the day.

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They are talking at least another week of 50′s for highs and sunshine, I will gladly accept it.

Happy Halloween and fall to all…

 

Beautiful Fall Day…

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It has been a beautiful week of fall weather, 60′s most of the week and near 70 today.  I managed to get out to the park on Sunday.  Most of the fall leaves are now on the ground however, I did manage to find some fall colors on the trees yet.  This is a view from the pier at Linwood Lake. The yellows seem to be what is left on the trees at this time.  The reds and oranges seem to have started off our fall and are on the ground. The yellows are very pretty yet though.

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The skies were a perfect blue with the big, puffy white clouds.  Just a perfect day to be out with a camera and enjoy.

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The trails were gorgeous with the leaf cover on the bottom and the color left in the trees.  I could have stayed out there all day.

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This particular park had these majestic oak trees, I love the oak tree.  They just towered above me to the skies.  Still some pretty good color on the oaks yet as well.

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These were taken standing right against the bottom of the tree trunk with a wide angle lens, it really gives the perspective of how majestic and tall these mighty oaks stood.

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They lined the road the whole way into the park.  This road was of the finest, silkiest sand I have ever touched.  It pulled the car in and was difficult to drive in, almost like driving on an icy road. Was very pretty and good for walking though.

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I really liked how the sunlight came through the trees onto the leaves below. 

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I headed on down to the lake where the skies were amazing.  This is a rock path that led out into the lake a ways. 

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Along the rocky path I found these birds, I am not sure yet what they are.  They were in large flocks and stayed right along the waters edge.  They had the most vivid white belly when they took to flight. 

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I was able to get fairly close to them if I moved slowly.

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I will have to do some more research and figure out exactly what they are. They are larger than an average sparrow but not quite as large as a robin. Very pretty little birds.

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The flowers were done on the water lilies but there were still all these lily pads along the shores of the lake. 

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They were starting to turn yellow with the fall weather as well.

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Just a few shots I took of the dock and the landing area for the boats.  The skies were so perfect that day I had to capture them from different areas. 

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I only explored one of the many trails that this park seems to have. I am looking forward to more trips to explore the other trails and see what else there is to discover.  It looks like the trails join up with other parks through other cities and I should have plenty of exploring ahead of me.  This is just a small portion of the photos I took on my trip Sunday. 

Hair Raiser

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So, last night we are in the house watching TV, this fun loving frisbee chaser was sleeping at our feet.  All of a sudden he growls and the hackles on his back stand straight on end.  Not just on the neck, all the way down to the tail they were on end.  He and my other dog ran to the door barking and growling.  No car had pulled in or anything, what is out there…..

Thankfully, since we didn’t want them barking and waking the neighborhood, we didn’t let them out.  5 minutes later we knew what was out there when the lovely aroma of skunk permeated the whole house. I can only imagine how they would have smelled had we set them lose.  A few nights earlier we had let them out and they took off barking, we smelled skunk when we brought them in but we were lucky, they hadn’t been sprayed. 

All I could think is, we will have to be very careful letting them out at night if this guy is around.  It reminded me of the day I was walking my dog, while we lived in Wisconsin.  A skunk popped out of the weeds directly in front of me and the dog.  She, of course, wanted to go after it.  I grabbed her and we ran the other direction, at least I ran, I was dragging her.  The little skunk ran after us, this little black and white critter with the tail straight up in the air, chasing us down the road. It must have been a comical site.  All I could think the whole run was, I am so going to stink, he is going to get me, I am so going to stink…. Thankfully we were blessed with NOT being sprayed, the little critter must have realized we weren’t a threat. Either that or it had used up its supply, a skunk can only spray 5-6 times before they use up the supply they have.  It can take up to 10 days for them to build up a new supply.  They are reluctant to spray because of this.

This afternoon, I headed out for my walk, going down the road I smelled….. you guessed it, skunk.  I started looking around, you can smell them if they are just in the area so I was hoping it wasn’t close.  Up on the side of the road I see…..

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The source of the smell.  Great…… it wasn’t moving, we hurried on by, hopefully it won’t see us.  On the way home, still  there…. my dog found a bloody patch on the road and started sniffing it out.  Apparently it was hit by a car and crawled up here to die.  Poor guy, didn’t die instantly, hopefully it didn’t suffer long.  I hate to think of an animal suffering like this but at the same time…. YAY, no more skunk for me to worry about with my dogs.  At least for now.

On a different note, it has been an interesting month.  I went to a wedding in a park, thought I would get some good fall colors while I was there too.  Never made it that far.  The wedding was to start at 2:00, by 2:30 all were there but the minister.  She finally showed up, drunk, fell flat on her face.  It annoys me to no end that a minister could do this to a couple on such an important day.  Her husband was tracked down and she was sent on her way without performing the ceremony.  Luckily for this particular wedding, it was a small family group, no reservations and time lines that were critical to keep.  They were able to save the day, track down someone last minute to come and do the ceremony and everything worked out.

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I passed the time taking some fun photos of people enjoying the day while we found a justice of the peace to come out.  This gal was too cute…..

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Entertaining the kids with throwing leaves in the air, looked like fun. 

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Even the dog came to the wedding.  What really bothered me, this minister was headed to another wedding after this one.  If this next wedding is a large wedding with reservations, relatives from out of town…. she could be ruining a day that can’t be saved as easily, costing a couple a lot of time, money and happiness.  I hope she sobered enough by then to not ruin it for them.  If she continued to drink, she may have not even shown up.  Pretty sad.  How many weddings, how many people has this woman let down…. Sad.

On a lighter, more fun note.  I was  wandering the backyard, since I had the camera out for the walk I continued to seek out shots.  It was just too nice of a fall day to stay inside.  I ran across this little guy….

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He was running from tree to tree and stopped here when he heard me coming.  I thought the colors, his orange against the yellow leaves and the white bark were pretty cool for a fall shot.

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He started to run away, I kept taking shots as he/she ran and jumped.  I caught one in mid flight but the head was cut off, nice shot of a body and tail flying through the trees though. :) I won’t post that one….

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One large, mouse with a bushy red tail….

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Still, something playful and fun to photograph.  Look at the size of those feet, the long toes…… I suppose that helps grasp those tree branches. 

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Grasping for take off, he/she pulled itself by the front feet, launched into the air and disappeared into a tree where I was no longer able to photograph it.  Cute little buggers huh?

They are saying another perfect fall weather day for tomorrow, I may have to take the camera to the park and see if I can get some more fall shots.  The leaves are falling rapidly, not a lot left on the trees but there are still some areas that are colorful to shoot.

 

 

The Leaves They are a Changing…..

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Fall is in the air…. it was a perfect day for yard work and I sure had plenty of it to do.  However, it was too tempting to get out with the camera for the day.  I took a nice long drive in quest of fall colors. 

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For the most part it is the Maples and Oaks that are changing here.  The other species are starting but the Maples are by far the most vibrant right now.

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It was 60 degrees and sunshine, the perfect day.  I could have done more without the strong winds we had though.  I love the fall, my favorite season.  The colors on the trees, the perfect temperatures, the lack of pesky summer bugs…. who could ask for a better season.

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The only downfall to fall is that it means the snow will be here soon.  And though I do really like the snow, driving to work in it is less desirable.

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Well I was out on my journey in search of fall color, I found a lake that I didn’t know was there.  It had a beautiful park with walking trails.  It is only 10 minutes from my house and I spent a good hour or more here.  Have to go back to this park a lot more as I didn’t explore it much at all today.  Stayed mostly at the lake for my photos.

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The skies were such a pretty blue with the big white fluffy clouds.  You couldn’t ask for a better day.

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Linwood Lake

I think I could have stayed here all day, very relaxing.

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This was a little river spot I found before arriving at the park with the lake. 

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It was an odd place as there was a sign stating parking and a little lot but no trails.  Maybe people come to fish down by the bridge???  There was really no place else I could go, maybe 50 feet up the river and I came to a fence with no trespassing signs.  Took a couple shots as long as I was there.

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Just a mushroom on a tree that I found.

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As I said, it was a very windy day, these seed pods were blowing apart before my eyes.

Do you ever, while out walking and exploring, see things that make you wonder…. hmmmm… how did that happen.   I found this goose hanging in a tree dead…. how did it get there? Hit by a car and thrown there?  Strange phenomenon….

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I felt really sorry for him/her and whatever happened here.  Poor thing.  And just across from it, there was this other critter that I couldn’t identify.

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Other than the term road kill…. poor feller…..

And this poor frog, did someone need frog legs for dinner?  Or kids torturing an innocent critter, how can anyone be so cruel.  Just very odd to see it on a rock rotting, I really hope it was dead before it lost its legs. So sad….

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And this bird I couldn’t identify but, since I was taking shots of death on this beautiful day, might as well include them all. 

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Morbid, I know…. such a gorgeous day and I take shots of death to share.  I just get fascinated by all aspects of life and death and circumstances behind everything.

Here is a shot of life again to make things better, I cannot identify this little guy.  He was much smaller than a normal duck, has a much shorter bill, but he dove under water while swimming away from me just like a duck would.  I did a DNR search on MN waterfowl and the only thing I see that looks close is a baby loon.  We don’t usually see loons down here though. Shouldn’t a baby be more grown up by fall if that is what this is?  And where is momma and poppa if this is a baby…. such mysteries…. I will keep looking to discover what this little fella is for certain.

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This next duck I do believe is a female wood duck. Very skittish duck but pretty.

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This is a very small portion of the photos I took today, it will take me a while to go through all of these. Life has been so busy and hectic the last months that it just really felt good to get out in the wilderness with my camera again….

I had asked my brother from the north woods of Minnesota if he had seen the bird above, while I was doing my blog he replied to my email.  It appears the little fella pictured above is probably a Grebe…. he mentioned that was his thought and an internet search shows it to be  a pretty good thought.

Wasp fascination

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Wasps are fascinating little critters, as fast as we destroy their nests on the eaves of the house, they are building more.  They have so much energy.  They had this huge nest in our tree out front last year, we lost the branch of the tree the nest was on and removed the nest. Now this year already they have replaced the nest in the same tree.  wasp nest

This is the newest nest, how do they build such a large structure so quickly.  I think it is a wasp nest anyway, the ones on the house are a honeycomb look but they are only beginnings of nests.  Maybe this is a different variety of bee that built this one.

We destroyed a hornets nest that was in the ground where we were putting up fencing for the dog, those I didn’t really want around.  To put my dogs in a fenced area with a hole in the ground full of hornets…. not a good mix.  Camie already got stung by a wasp a month or so back and came in with her face all swollen up.  She seems to like to catch them and eat them.  Doesn’t learn either, silly dog.

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The first year we were in the house, these bumble bees were everywhere, hundreds of them.  I could take photos of them in large groups on the mums.  Last summer and this summer they haven’t been around much at all.  I miss my bumble bees.  Even the honey bees haven’t been as plentiful this year as they were the first summer here.

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With the blooming of the mums each year, I hope to see the return of the bees, sad to see them in decline.  The wasps are plentiful but not my other friends.  Even the Thread Waisted Wasp hasn’t been around this summer much, saw a couple really tiny ones only.

I really hope they come back again….

 

Neatest Dragonfly I have seen…. and other photos…

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I was out enjoying the wonderful weather today, should have been working but took the camera out instead.  There were these huge dragonflies all over the place.  I finally saw one resting and they were so colorful.  I have never seen anything as large and colorful as these before.

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Some of them weren’t quite as vibrant as the first one but they started to pose for me all over.  Such a cute face huh?

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I experimented a little with black and white on this one, just having some fun.  I kind of like the effect it has.

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I did the same playing with color and black and white on this one that was resting on the house. 

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And I got up close and personal with this pretty fella.  I love the faces on dragonflies, they are sooo cool looking. All bugs have cool faces though, so much character to such a little face.

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Like on this little bee…. they are different critters. 

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The apples are ripe and good for eating, they have spots but the flavor is wonderful.  The deer come and stand on their hind legs to pick and eat them too.  We have a good crop of them this year so plenty to go around.

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Can’t you just taste them, crisp and juicy. 

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I think we are getting an early taste of fall.  They were saying on the news this morning we are going to have a very colorful leaf change.  With the heavy rains this past spring and the cool, early weather, they say conditions are perfect for leaf changes.

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This is one example I found in my garden this afternoon.  I took several more of various varieties around the yard that I haven’t processed yet.  I love the fall, I can’t wait to get out with the camera for some good color shots.  It means winter is following close behind and I am not sure I am ready for the snow yet.  It took too long for it to leave us last spring.

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My mums are blooming nicely now as well.  Some of them aren’t doing as well with all the rain, they seem to have died back a little from too much water. 

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My pinks and yellows are doing pretty well though.  My dark burgandy are just starting and my orange were nice but are close to done now.

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I played around with black and white on the mums as well, something a little unique.

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I have been noticing these mushrooms in all the yards on my walk every morning.  They seem to be in abundance with all the wet weather we had.  They are huge, some are almost as large as a dinner plate. 

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I don’t know my mushrooms so I don’t have any idea of what variety they are.  I just like to shoot them.

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These little green and red things are growing on all the wood around the yard, a fungus of some type I am sure but I have never seen anything like them before.  Very different looking to me.  

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Played with one more thing, just to see what I could get, this is the fence in my front garden.

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Just a great day to be out shooting. :)

 

 

Strange bug

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Not sure what this guy is, he has been sitting in my entryway window all day today.  That looks like one very long, nasty stinger to get stung by though.  He hasn’t moved at all, very strange, bugs don’t sit still like this.

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Mr. Froggy was sitting next to him on the ledge, had to take a shot of him while I was at it.

Young Woodpecker came to visit…

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I heard a woodpecker pecking away, looked out and saw it on this branch.  It was only after I snuck out with the camera and took a close up of it that I noticed it was a very young one. He/She sat and posed for a little bit for me as I tried to creep closer for a better shot. 

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I wasn’t able to get as close as I wanted before he/she left me though.  Managed a few okay shots.

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Since it was an absolutely perfect day out there today, I stayed out a while longer to see what else I could photograph.  It had rained overnight and the ground was too muddy for any of my other projects.

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I was attempting to get a good shot of these seed pods on one of my bushes when this dragonfly came to pose for me.  Pretty nice of him/her to come along like that.

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Then this grasshopper nicely jumped in front of me as well.  He/she was just too cute to not photograph. :)

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This is a new addition to my gardens this summer, I can’t remember the name of the flower but I buy my flowers based on being resistant to deer and attractive to hummingbirds, bees and butterfly’s.  The name of the flower really doesn’t matter to me.

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I had this orange mum show up in a garden across from my mum garden, it is taking over a  rose bush and another plant so I will have to move it next spring.  I didn’t know mums would do this. There is a cement walkway between this and my other mums, kind of strange. Pretty though so I will keep it.  The little green frog was what made me stop to take a picture.

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I went out to relax and read a book on our new deck and this little wasp came to join me, can’t pass up a photo opportunity like this one. 

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And just to add a cute, fun aspect to my day…. Ares didn’t like the cone the vet gave us for his head to keep him from chewing his stitches.  I tried an old shirt we had around the house and yesterday he looked like Superdog in his blue cape.  However, it was only an extra large and was too small for him, I had to cut it open and by doing that he was able to get to the stitches and it didn’t work very well. I ran to Walmart to see if they might have a dog shirt in his size, Chuck and Don’s was closed for the day.  They only had dog shirts for small dogs so I found a 3x large t-shirt for $5.00, I tried a   2x and it was still too small.  The sleeves are big on him but to fit in the chest it was the best I could find. You can see it is still a little tight but stretching out.  Today he is now Ares Duck Commando….. He actually seems to almost like wearing it, has a calming effect on him.

I hope everybody had a relaxing Labor Day weekend.

Almost completed…

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We have a nearly completed deck and it is wonderful compared to the old one.  This deck should last quite a while, very sturdily built.

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The dogs are glad to have their back yard again.  I think they missed being let out to just play and do their own thing.

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Because matching the white siding that was already on the house would be extremely difficult, the old siding has been sun worn and faded, they used cedar on the house where there was no siding.  I think it really helped tie in the deck to the house and looks great.  There is still some finishing work along the roof there which will tie it all in completely.

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If anyone should be in need of a new deck, or a kitchen or bathroom remodel, these guys can do the job for you.  They do really thorough work and take pride in doing the job right the first time.

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nearing completion

They will be back in the next couple days for the final finishing touches like the electrical outlet here.

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You can see the detailing they put into every aspect of the deck.  You can also see how well built and sturdy everything is.

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They put this nice taper on all the deck railing tops for a little extra flair.  I love the care they put into the work they do.

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So, if you live anywhere around the Forest Lake area and are in need of remodeling around your home, these guys are the guys to call.  Just contact me and I can put you in touch with them.  We hope to have them do our kitchen next.

 

Deck Progress and Yard Visitors…….

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This lovely eyesore is the deck/screen porch that came with the house when we bought it.  We wanted to remodel our kitchen first but from the day we looked at the house, before even purchasing it, we felt this deck was built incorrectly and unsafe.

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Not to mention, when I sit on the deck I want to enjoy the outdoors, not be cooped in this dark, gloomy room.  We felt pretty confident there were no concrete footers under this deck at all.  We knew when the snow melted in the spring, it leaked really badly between where the porch roof and the house roof came together. It was carpeted inside so to have the heavy leakage, the floor had to be rotted and moldy under that carpet. 

What we didn’t know, until we hired someone to tear it off, is just how dangerous it really was.  We had been looking for someone we could trust to do the work for us as we just weren’t sure about detaching it from the house and knowing what we were doing, it was more than just building a deck.  We were at the range one day and they were trying to talk us into buying yet another gun…. we said, sorry, at this point we need a deck first.

Sometimes things just work out in conversation like this…. it turns out the owner of Lakes Trading Gun range used to do construction before opening a range.  One of his employees at the range also worked with him in construction.  They still do jobs like remodels or decks on the side for extra income. We felt we could trust them and they are good guys so we asked them for a bid. 

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They came out and started working on the deck a couple Mondays ago, Monday is the only day the range is closed.  It rained all day on them but they worked hard and had it looking like this by the end of day one.  James was home with them for the day because we weren’t sure how Ares would act.  He said when they pulled the first post out, not only was it not set in concrete at all but it was only about 18 inches into the ground.  They just pulled it out for the most part.  One of the posts was completely rotted.  James made the comment to Ben, I told Ann the roof was the only thing holding this deck up anymore.  Ben replied…. about the roof, it was never tied into the house roof correctly.  It was basically just screwed to the roof board.  James was shocked and commented back, so I am lucky to be alive….. Ben replied, with a chuckle… well, it is a short fall. 

Needless to say, this re insured my feeling that the kitchen could wait another year or two, we need to do the deck first……

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We now have 6×6 treated timber posts that are on concrete footings buried 50 inches deep to go below the frost level.

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This is the end of day two for the deck, they have the main frame up and it is sturdy. My husband tried to give me a hard time, he emails me at work what a terrible job they are doing. I get home and he says look at the mess they left, and how can I use this deck, you can’t walk on it without falling through…..

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The frame looks pretty secure to me, even though anything would after the old deck.  They have three support beams on top of the 6×6 posts.  The frame will be all in treated timbers.

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The top of the deck will be all cedar.  It smells wonderful in my garage right now with all the cedar sitting in there.  Hopefully it will help keep the mosquitoes at bay when we sit out there in the summer. 

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The end of day three, they have made some pretty good progress, they had the holes to dig for the staircase which took some time.  They built this platform for partway down the stairs.  We have this dog that gets a little too excited to play ball in the yard so he runs down the first 5 or 6 steps and then jumps the rest of the way.  He keeps hurting his leg and having to rest for several days.  We thought if we had them put this platform with a railing and a 45 degree turn, put the final 2 steps after he has to stop and turn, he would no longer jump and hurt himself.  I hope it works…. cost extra and slowed things down but saves on vet bills down the line if he seriously hurts himself.

They will be back tomorrow and hopefully finish or come close to finishing.  It is getting tiring walking the dogs at 4:00am in the dark because we can’t just let them out the back door to the fenced area right now.  We knew it would take longer higher these guys on a side job but I would rather wait and deal with this than chance someone coming in and doing it wrong again. You don’t always know who you are getting when you hire someone.

I am excited to have it finished for my photography as well, will be nice to be able to sit out there and catch my many pets and visitors to the yard.  It is tough trying to sneak outside after they are already there.

deer visitors

This group of deer come several times a day to pick and eat the apples on our tree.  It would have been easier to sneak out on the deck through the back and get some photos of them.  I tried to sneak out the front but she saw me and stopped eating and headed to the neighbors.  She was up on her hind legs picking the apples and I would have loved to catch her doing that on camera.

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She had the babies with again too, they were playing some but this time when I came out they left right away. They are cute little buggers to watch.

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You can see the apples on the tree, plenty of apples for them to pick and eat.  They are pretty tart, I tried one when I was out there earlier this morning. If you click on a photo in this blog, it will enlarge and you can see these details better.

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This is the second baby, he/she realized the others were leaving and ran to catch up.

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There are two adults and two babies, this is the final deer to leave the apples.

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This is the first one that left when I initially walked out the door and she spotted me.

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Yes, that deck will be nice, I can sit out there in the evening and see all kinds of friendly critters and hopefully they get used to seeing me there and not running away.