Earlier this month, there was a fire at the Mazomanie Oak Barrens, likely due to an extended drought that began in the spring. The damage was relatively minor, burning an area less than seven acres in size. While it’s a stark view, the DNR already performs prescribed burns in this area to preserve the health of the prairie. When we visited yesterday, the grass was beginning to grow back.
The path, which didn’t burn, can be seen in a photo that I took of my daughter a few years ago.
Sometimes when I go for a hike, I forget my camera. Despite the initial disappointment, it’s okay. The experience will be just as sweet if I don’t document it, perhaps even sweeter as I’ll only have my memories. I feel as if these months where I haven’t been keeping much of an online journal are like those hikes without photos. I still have a good time and live a full life; I just don’t have a tangible way to share it with others.
A lot in my life has changed, but the transitions have been smooth. My uncle passed away in early July. He lived with my grandma and, therefore, tended to her well-being on a regular basis. She is 89 and now lives on her own for the first time in her life. (She was one of 11 children.) I provide her primary care, visiting morning and evening for a total of three or four hours daily. In June, I never would have thought that I could carve 25 hours out of my week, much less do it while increasing productivity in other areas as well. It is quite unfathomable, yet I’m doing it. I think that it just goes to show that we are capable of so much more than we realize, so it’s good to keep challenging one’s self frequently.
I think that I’ll make a little list of what has been going on in my world this summer:
- Earlier this year, at the age of 20, my daughter finally received her Asperger’s/Autism diagnosis. We’ve long known that this was the case but, like with my own health issues, it was difficult to get someone to listen. This is quite validating and she can now receive services that were unavailable to her before this.
- I pretty much abandoned my garden around the end of June. Like much of the US, Wisconsin was stricken with a severe drought and extreme temperatures this summer. The month of July was absolutely unbearable. I am partial to cold weather as it is, so the heat really bore away at my whole being. In August, the heat broke and we received a fair amount of rain. The strange weather of March through July has affected many harvests in Wisconsin, not the least of which include corn, apples, and grapes. Soon I will pull that which I let go wild. I may plant some fall crops and I might yet hoop a few beds. I’m looking at you, leeks.
- Work has again slowed on the Mister Winter afghan. I crochet circles here and there, but to get my project-completed satisfaction on a regular basis, I have been squeezing in smaller projects. I made three plant hangers, a gazillion coasters, and various bits not quite worthy of an individual mention.
- While I did whip up one medium-sized basket because I was itching to do some weaving, I otherwise haven’t done much in that area. I’m planning to do a few Sauk Indian-inspired baskets for the local historical society, which is pretty exciting and interesting to me. I believe that I’m going to make a birch bark bucket and a sweetgrass basket. We’ll see…
- So many people have cut back on taking photos with their camera and are instead doing phone photos. I am guilty of this as well, yet I’m trying to change that a bit. In the meantime, I can be found on Instagram @sonotcool. One of my favorites there is @heiastrid. Her life is so interesting.
- I have been hiking quite a bit again. It hasn’t been lengthy or strenuous, but easy and beautiful. We hit a lot of Wisconsin’s State Natural Areas. Baxter’s Hollow is a current favorite. We’re out there at least once a week. The photos from the Stones Pocket Road post were taken on the way into that site. That reminds me… I need to purchase Baxter’s Hollow Bird Food this week. Their site is gorgeous and has bird song from its location playing in the background.
- I go to the local historical society about twice a week to archive glass-plate negatives. Although we started in March, we’re only halfway through the collection at this time. Each scan is like opening a birthday present. Hundreds and hundreds of birthday presents. One of them included the school above, Hillside School on Prairie Road near Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin.
Ten years ago today, I officially began to blog.
I had putzed around with Geocities-type sites before that, keeping a journal and sharing photos online, but that first blog really forged a new direction in my life. I can’t even begin to describe the scope of this exercise in sharing. I tried. I opted to keep it simple.
I love this gig, both here and guest blogging. I appreciate all of the folks who have been part of this grand ride.
I keep forgetting to note that Australia’s G Magazine included a photo of my husband’s upcycled garden bench in its April/May issue. The magazine is really lovely, high quality, and delightfully informative. It was an honor to be part of such a nice publication.
Today, I posted an article at the Portal Wisconsin blog. It is a short photo essay about learning to weave antler baskets this last March.
I’m trying to keep better notes about other places that I publish stuff. Thus, this post.
Today, I posted at the Portal Wisconsin blog and shared my complete obsession with a project that I’m involved with at the local historical society.
Tonight, Frontline is airing the episode for which we contributed some footage. It is about cell phone tower deaths. They contacted us in April after seeing some of our tower climbing footage. After that, we went out and shot a bit more. It should be airing at 10PM on most PBS stations. (There are two short clips of our footage. If you watch the online video, our winter scenes from the tower are shown at the 7:12 and 15:12-minute marks.)
Otherwise, just puttering in the garden.
My friend, Jen, made these antler baskets, although they were snapped at my house on a very cloudy day. These are just a smidgen of what she has weaved.
I’m not doing so great on the health front, with even more pain and less energy than usual. It’s been digressing this way for about eight months. I still plug away at my part, taking care of what things that I can, and that always includes balance. So, I do a little less of almost everything, a lot less of some things, and let unnecessary parts go completely.
In the past, life has always come back around and caught me for a bit. Granted, I have never fully gotten back any health that I’ve lost. Still I trust that my body will allow me some freedom and energy in the future, maybe tomorrow, to swing back into capturing what still exists, even grows, and preserving it here.
Each Saturday morning, I’ve been going to the Sauk-Prairie Historical Society and working with fellow archivists to scan and analyze local glass negatives from the early 20th century.
I feel like the person in the movies who sits in a dimly-lit library at night, only it’s morning, paging through thick volumes of material and looking for that obscure clue. I’m Lisbeth Salandar tap-tapping into online databases. Last week, I signed an email “Sherlock Holmes”. Next time, maybe, Encyclopedia Brown or Inspector Clouseau.
I was sharing with my daughter some of the subject matter. In the very first image, there was a man crouching in the bushes with a child while his wife posed in the foreground with a bicycle. Yesterday, in what looks like a graduating class of six young women, way over on the edge, there is a man peeking from behind the skirt of a girl. Silas joked that this must have been the photo meme of that generation, the 1910′s version of planking. Glass negative bombing, if you will.
When I get home in the early afternoon, I sit down with a stack of books at my desk and my favorite online databases open on the computer, and I take out the notes from that day’s scans. I generally find a few hits and I get sidetracked by a lot of misses. By Sunday, my desk is covered in papers, they are my tracks in the snow. Arrows. Lists of names and places. Initials instead of whatever RMV means.
Next month, I hope to share the project on PortalWisconsin’s blog, where I am a new contributor. Jody Kapp wrote a nice introduction to the glass slide project HERE.
[The daguerreotype above was found behind another photo when I bought a vintage frame several years ago. More here.]
And so, I think that I will sign off from my digital diary until the new year.
Before that, I have to note that although I keep this daybook for myself and write as if there is not an audience, the truth is that the feedback is truly humbling, welcome, and even life-changing at times. I have made so many friends after nine years of blogging. Some I have met and hugged, some I hope to meet in the future, and some, although we are unlikely to cross physical paths, I feel like I have spent countless hours in person with them.
I received some holiday cards and I think that I managed to thank everyone personally. I hope so. This year, I didn’t send out greetings of the season by mail. I sent good wishes via thought, but the trouble with those is that most don’t know that I’ve wished well for them. That’s okay. I will give everyone my best wishes every day of the year, so they’ll know at some point or another. Or not.
Okay with it all, I am.
Though scant, I will surely attempt to peek in on some of my favorite sites during my daybook-keeping break. If I can. No promises or I will surely break them.
Signing off now in the early evening, I am now going to lollygag for a while, take the dog on a brisk jaunt about the yard, then settle in with a bit of crochet and telly while I wait for my husband to get home from a work trip to Iowa.
P.S. I am sort of on Twitter again, after an off-again-on-again hiatus of … a while. I will probably post any relevant phone snapshots on there.