Tag Archive | camping

Happy New Year!

My type of fireworks! See all the colors? Georgia allows fireworks. We’re getting a free show from all the neighbors.
Downside.. the boys are freaking out. Breck is in the pooper, Oreo is under the table.  😳 Why do more folks like the boomers over the Ahhh pretty ones?

image

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

12/12/2016 ~ 1,000 Posts For Ilex!

twodogsGood day Friends of Midwestern Plants!!

On March 10th, 2013, I started Midwestern Plants with my first post. The only ‘LIKE’ on it (to this day) is from my hubby 😉

I started this blog to build a portfolio of work to break into freelance writing, along with a photo library of Midwestern plants. I didn’t really think of making any money from the blog or even building a following, let alone find some really cool friends here!!

I shopped free blog sites and settled on WordPress. It was easy to figure out and they even had a nice app to use (I’m an app-fanatic!!)  This was to be my first use of a ‘social media’ type site. Suffice to say, I’m not a fan of Facebook or other social media, due to many reasons that I won’t go into now.  I think FB can be a rude, unsupportive place for a writer.

Although, I was worried that WP could turn into FB, I was pleasantly surprised that after 4 years of blogging, I’ve only had maybe 1 or 2 ‘troll’ comments. And on the other hand, I have made so many friends here!!! Not only have I met friends, I’ve gotten so much encouragement, support, camaraderie, ideas, praise, laughs… I can’t imagine my life without all of you! =-D

On January 12th 2015, I wrote my 500th post. Seems like I’m on par for about 250 posts per year. It was January, so I had just gotten my report from WP with my ‘crunchy numbers’ (WP term). I don’t look at these kind of stats on a regular basis, however I do like to read this year end report. My ‘Top 5’ of read posts hasn’t changed much since then, however the folks that are following and commenting has changed a lot. Out of the 14 folks I mentioned in my 500th post (2 years ago), only 6 are still actively blogging. Some of the folks I follow posted that they were taking a break for whatever reason, however others have just disappeared. I always wonder what has happened to stop someone who’s posted daily for years to just disappear. Did they get a full time writing job? (YES!!!) Taken by aliens? Joined a cult?  Lost in a forest? Got caught with kiddie porn? Die? Ironically, the kiddie porn one kinda happened! A blogger I followed had an outstanding warrant for touching kiddies and was extradited back to his home country. =-( And he seemed so NORMAL to me =-O Another woman told me that she had contracted a stalker and had to quit posting, so this person wouldn’t learn more about her.

The internet can be a scary and peaceful place at the same time. Although I don’t post photos of myself and am somewhat anonymous, I have physically met a few fellow bloggers. We had followed each other for a while, so I was not nervous to meet them. I would also love to meet others in the future. Many bloggers in my circle are local, however some are from islands very far away. Maybe one day I will do some puddle jumping 😉

I want to pay tribute to some awesome fellow bloggers that sure make blogging worth it for me. Although I can’t thank everyone I follow personally, I do want to say, THANK YOU all for the comments, the laughs, the support, the tears, the wisdom and the friendship I get from all of you! ❤ ❤ ❤

Travels with Choppy: I just can’t get enough of Choppy’s outfits and celebrations of holidays we all should learn (Letter Writing Day! Who knew?!?) Even tho he’s a cat, Schooner is pretty funny also. And now that #@}0*%ing ELF?! I never know what else I’ll be laughing at next being subscribed to her blog!!

Thanks Sarah, for making me have to change my pants after I’ve pissed them from laughing… One of these days, the fur kids have to meet… Schooner? Probably not 😉

Mad Cap Dog: Scifihammy has me in stitches, whether it be from her Sunday musings or the antics of her Little Monkey! She also keeps me sane with the beautiful, warm, colorful landscapes of Cape Town, while all I see is white 😛 She chills out to my snow posts, so it’s a win/win!

Scifi, I love ya! I’m so glad someone gets my Star Trek references… otherwise I’d be hearing crickets. Thanks for always letting me know you’ll be out for a bit. I would seriously miss ya, if you just dropped off. Dropped off writing, I meant 😉

Easy Weimaraner: I’m beside myself as I write this. Two weeks ago, Easy left us for the Rainbow Bridge. There will never be another Easy. He was hilarious, from his classroom teachings to his indoor snow creations. His staff are equally funny, as Dad can’t stop injuring himself and Mom can’t stop shopping.

Kathy & Mark, I can’t say enough how missed Easy will be, butt time will heal the wounds.

Mongolope: Mongo is a Labrador Retriever that lives with his family in Seattle, Washington. Mongo usually gets in a lot of trouble due to his appetite. He is very smart, however very food driven also. My favorite thing Mongo does is fetch the paper, how cool is that? Be sure to read about Mongo’s first Halloween… You’ll be in stitches!!

Mongo’s Dad, Love the stories you tell about your buddy, Mongo! He is so much fun to read about and sure has some, um, interesting habits 😉

Eddie Two Hawks: Eddie posts wonderful photos of plants from a tropical, Florida location, along with beautiful pieces of wisdom. The photos excite my eyes and the quotes make me think.

Eddie, Thank you for all the wisdom you have brought to my life. I always feel warm and fuzzy after reading your posts. Your photos bring back memories of all the tropical plants I had in my yard while living down there.

THANK YOU!!

I’m not sure what directions all of us are going, however I am so glad to have met you all and share what time we have on this big, blue marble. Lastly, I share with you a favorite tidbit about friendship:

Friends are in your life for a Reason, a Season or a Lifetime:

When someone is in your life for a reason, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed outwardly or inwardly. S/he has come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally, or spiritually.

S/he is there to meet a need. Then without any wrongdoing on your part or at an inconvenient time, s/he will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end. Sometimes s/he dies. Sometimes s/he walks away. Sometimes s/he acts up or out and forces you to take a stand. What we must realize is that the need has been met.

When a person comes into your life for a season, it is because your turn has come to share, grow, or learn. S/he may bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh. S/he may teach you something you have never done. S/he usually gives you an unbelievable amount of joy.

Lifetime relationships teach you lifetime lessons. Those things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation. You must accept the lesson, love the person/people anyway, and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life.

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Time Keeps on Ticking, Ticking, Ticking…. Into the Future

imageHello, faithful friends of Midwestern Plants!!

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know that autumn brings less and less topics to write about, let alone that season of white groundcover! =-O It is time for me to hibernate to a three posts a week schedule. It’s a sad situation for me, as I do truly love to write.

I have kicked around starting another blog, however the topics I want to write about are a bit more sensitive than plants. I follow so many ‘upbeat’ blogs about being happy, and how to change your life to be more happy. Yes, they’ve helped me somewhat. However, I feel the need to rant!! I’m not totally sure about this, however I feel that if I could get things off my mind, and there are possibly folks out there that feel the same, I would feel better. The topics would not be happy ones or following the norm.

I’m not going to make any mention of this other blog on MP, as I don’t want to get a ‘cross-contamination’ of followers… ‘Trolls’ are what I’m talking about 😉

Otherwise, my life has been filled with wanting to find a different career. I religiously (nightly) search the job offers in the non-profit field and can’t find anything over $10 an hour. I GET IT! It is non-profit work, and it’s not money that brings you to this field, it’s wanting to make the world a better place. However, I make well more than that now, and can’t take that huge of a pay cut. I’m still looking and I’ve also signed up for more intense grant writing classes.

Another passion would be writing. I look for those job offers, however making $2 per blog post is fruitless also. There are so many scam websites out there, it’s hard to weed through all of them. Getting there. Do I write a book then??? Hmmm.

Worst case, I ask my boss for a raise and an ‘official’ promotion. After our designer died in 2013, I’ve been doing her job, for the most part. We have a contracted landscape architect, who draws the plans in AutoCAD (I use DynaSCAPE), then I tell him what plants I want. I don’t get to visit the site, I use Google Earth and other photos of the area, which is LUNACY! I recently got to go out and ‘set’ plants, because the original design got a bit off because of how the hardscape was laid out. It was a lot of fun, however the exposure (sun/shade) was completely off from what I was told (deep shade). I don’t feel our clients are getting the amount of service they should be getting for the price they are paying. This may be a HAIL MARY for me. As if he tells me he’s not willing to do this, well, then I may need to leave. I’m sure he knows I’m underpaid for this position, I should be getting another $15,000 a year for the job I do according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Otherwise, life has been pretty good to us this past year. We got to do a lot of camping at new and interesting places. By far, Door County was our favorite trip and we’ll be back there next 4th of July. Most of our trips have focused on areas where we could kayak. We even had fun at Merrick State Park, where the freight trains, about 100 feet away, would blow their horns (and sometimes shake the camper!) as they traveled by every hour. Kickapoo State Park near Danville, IL was a fun trip, because we were able to kayak every day we were there. Nice! Even better, I had read last summer that the park was doing to be closed, due to Illinois broke-ass status. Welp, money must have been found somewhere, as I just looked at the statuses of the forest preserves here, and many are not closing! Yeah!!!

My husband just told his boss he was free to work every Saturday in November… hmmm. That might mean I’d be free to do that 50,000 words challenge (NaNonFiWriMo) National Nonfiction Writing Month.

I’ve also been looking into all the ‘free’ college courses that are popping up as apps. EdX is one in trying now. Hopefully, going to learn some CSS styling 😃 Neither of these activities could be done if I was posting M-F.

On a sad note, a close friend of mine died this last Sunday of lung cancer. He was only 51. A few weeks ago his doctor told him he only had a few more weeks, so throw a Par-Tay! And a party he did throw! He’s part of a group of musicians that travel to different churches to play, so a stage was set up in the garage and everyone rotated up to play. It was awesome and sad at the same time. I would think because of his faith, he didn’t have much to fear. He knows he’s going to the good place =-)

Lastly, I’d really like to thank all of you blogging buddies that make writing here such a pleasant experience! I looked into many other blogging sites available (Blogger, Weebly, Tumblr… ) and felt WP was the most friendly and easy to use. I think we chose wisely!

So, on that note, I will leave to you continue on through your reader =-)

PS – IF anyone in the non-profit sector would like to throw me a bone about getting involved, please send me an email!


© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Who Who?!

During the Labor Day camping trip to Merrick State Park, the Park sponsored a presentation by the Audubon Center of the North Woods called, “Silent Hunters” an informative presentation on owls of the Midwestern area.

These two owls were injured and couldn’t be returned to the wild. They reside at the Sanctuary with many other  wildlife ambassadors, ranging from furry, to scaly, to feathery! If you are feeling generous, they do take donations.

image

Species:  Barred Owl
Sex:  Female
Name:  Athena
Age:  Hatched in 1994
Weight:  900g or ~2 pounds
Injury:  Likely hit by a car, left wing fracture
This barred owl’s call is one you know from childhood, “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you-all?”

image

Did you know owls don’t see any better at night than us humans? It’s true! They need to use their hearing to hone in on their meals. Owls also fly silently. Most folks think it’s so they do not spook their prey, however it actually helps the owl hear better and zone in on its prey when it doesn’t hear the whoosh, swoosh, whoosh of its wings.

image

These owls don’t migrate either. They enjoy the winters of the Midwest from their roosts high in the trees. Although they enjoy hollow trees, they may also reuse stick-platform nests built by other animals like hawks, crows, ravens, and squirrels, as well as human-made nest boxes.

image

Species:  Eastern Screech Owl (red phase) Megascops asio
Sex:  unknown
Name:  Ciça
Age:  Hatched in 2003
Weight:  145g or ~ 5 oz.
Injury:  Head injury, very slow processing information

image

This little one was right in the middle of molting and was having a bad hair day.

Red and gray individuals appear across the full range of the Eastern Screech-Owl, with about one-third of all individuals being red. Rufous (red) owls are more common in the East, with fewer than 20% red at the western edge of their range. No red owls are known from southern Texas, although they occur further north in Texas and further south in Mexico.


© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Hummingbird Nest

While we were camping at Illinois State Beach, we noticed a hummingbird  coming and going into the tree above our camper. After a lot of searching, we finally noticed the nest above our camper, with one baby in it. The nest was well hidden and mom was smart and used two cones of the Scots pine for the base.

image     image

Male hummingbirds don’t help the female build the nest (or helps at all, really) and she will spend several hours a day for week collecting materials to build her nest. The most common nesting materials found in hummingbird nests include:

  • Cotton fibers
  • Moss and lichen
  • Plant down from thistles, dandelions or cattails
  • Small bits of bark or leaves
  • Feathers
  • Fuzz, fur or hairs from leaves
  • Spider silk

These materials are intertwined into a dense cup that is decorated with moss, lichen and other local materials for camouflage. The edge of the cup is curved inward to protect the eggs and the spider silk gives the nest it elasticity to enlarge as the babies grow.

image    image

Help hummers build heir nests by planting clematis, honeysuckle, milkweed (Asclepia) and blanket flower (Gaillardia). Pasque flowers offer both soft foliage with silken hairs and mid-spring flowers followed by fuzzy seedpods.

image     image

Hummingbird eggs are no bigger than navy beans. Most females lay two eggs, which they will incubate for about 15 – 18 days. Juvenile hummingbirds will leave the nest about 18 to 27 days after hatching.

A neighbor of the hummingbird was a chipping sparrow, with one egg.

 


© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Adeline Jay Geo-Karis Illinois State Beach Park

This is the third time we’ve been to Illinois State Beach Park. Part one here  | Part two here.

This is a IDNR (Illinois Dept. Natural Resources) park, one of the most protected areas in Il. It’s located in Zion, kinda a rough neighborhood, but you don’t even realize where you are after entering the park. We also had a great view of the dormant Zion nuclear plant. Awesome…?

This area is 4,160 acres and has a recorded 650+ different plant species. Long recognized for its unique geological features, native flora and unmatched beauty, the Lake Michigan dunes area originally was, in the 1700s, part of the “Three Fires” of the Algonquin Nation: the Potawatomi, Chippewa and Ottawa.

This area was slated to be a preserve as early as 1888, when Robert Douglas, a Waukegan nurseryman, and Jens Jensen, a famous landscape architect (If you live/visit  Chicago, you’ve seen a lot of his work), worked together to make the area a regional park. With industry progressing from the south, sand mining ravaging the dunes and parts of the surrounding rural area succumbing to pasture and homesteads, legislative efforts to save the area finally began in the 1920s.

In 1948, the state obtained the first parcels of what is now known as Illinois Beach State Park. The Illinois Dunes Preservation Society was established in 1950 to protect the area. Through its efforts and the determinations of the Department of Conservation, in 1964 the area south of Beach Road was dedicated as the first Illinois Nature Preserve.

This area is unique, as it is a sand dune area, and the rest of Illinois is nothing like it. I was on the hunt for Opuntia – Prickly pear & Juniperus horizontalis – Trailing juniper, both of these are native to this area. In 1804, explorers Lewis and Clark noted that trailing juniper “would make a handsome edging to the borders of a garden”

image     image

Cicuta maculata ~ Water Hemlock    Stay away!!    ||   A mossy rose gall, caused by a Diplolepis rosea or Bedeguar Gall Wasp. So cute and fuzzy!! Not really detrimental to the plant.

image

Midwestern Plant Girl on the hunt for blooming flowers!!!image

The still standing Zion Nuclear Power Plant. It was built in 1973 and decommissioned in 1998. The hot, nuclear mess still sits in holding tanks below the buildings. Supposedly, the new date for clean-up is in 2020. All the hot stuff will be sent to a remote location in Utah. Poor, Utah… drew the short stick, didn’t we??? It will then be restored to its original habitat, hopefully.

Pretty scary that it sits right next to the largest fresh water supply of the Midwest….

image

There were a few gulls on the nuclear power plant side of the fence. 😉 They know folks are supposed to stay on the other side of the fence. There are still armed guards here, keeping folks away from the hot mess.

image

Pretty rocks… I would have made a great petrologist =-)

image

I love our savannas.

image     image

Chelydra serpentina — Common snapping turtle   ||     Lithobates pipiens or Rana pipiens ~ Northern leopard frog  They were everywhere!

image     image    
Wasps and beavers

image

wp-1468781048930.jpg

Breck with Daddy and Chicago waaaaay in the distance.