Will the real Summer please stand up, ‘cuz who is this imposter?

Well, the storm blew through here, just seconds after I published yesterday’s post.  I shut off the computer and pulled its plug.  It was the fourth storm with severe potential in two days, and I am sure I was not alone in the camp of weary weather worriers. 

But Saturday night’s volatile weather, unlike the other three recent storms in Southeast Michigan, targeted my neck of the woods.  While I was preparing the post about the moon landing, I was back-and-forth to Twitter checking the weather service, and local meteorologists’ posts regarding the progress of the impending storm, as well as reviewing a flurry of warnings by Nixle, the service that alerts residents to impending community disasters, weather-related or otherwise.  I heard the whoosh of the wind, the slow, long rumbles of thunder and the rhythmic pitter patter of rain on the patio roof, but no hail yet, thankfully.  I switched the radio on to monitor whether conditions were in fact still ripe for a tornado, a prediction that had been mentioned earlier in the day.  There was a seemingly endless list of traffic issues due to quick ponding on the roads, but nothing like the 60-vehicle accident last week, when sheets of rain caused drivers to hydroplane into one another.  I snapped the A/C off, as well as the radio, so I could hear any emergency sirens. 

Mother Nature sure has a bee in her bonnet this season – that’s for sure.  Even Garfield the Cat tweeted out the above cartoon about the #2019heatwave.

Summer – I hate this “new norm” and want the Summer of yesteryear back

Within minutes after turning the A/C off, it began to feel a bit stifling, so I switched on the fan.  I heard no emergency alert sirens, just the endless drone of the metal blades whirring around and redistributing the hot air.   I felt a bit sleepy and started to zone out.  My mind began to drift to yesteryear – Summer, with its seemingly endless, fun-in-the-sun days, spent playing with friends, and evenings outside collecting fireflies with a jam jar with tiny holes in the tin lid – how they lit up the night!

Back in the day, we soaked in our wading pools, or giggled when we ran through the sprinkler to cool off.  We didn’t sit in the house like a potted plant, stationed in front of a fan just because it was too hot to be outside.  Not at all – we were outside soaking up the sun, our arms and legs turning golden brown; we were towheads by the end of the season, with hair bleached from so many hours in the sun.  Our lips were puckered after chugging down a glass of lemonade, or purple from sucking on a grape Popsicle.

We caught grasshoppers with our bare hands, then felt them tickling our hands and they left “tobacco stains” on our fingers and palms when we released them.  We’d study fuzzy caterpillars as they inched up trees or bricks warmed by the sun.  Even the orb-weaver spiders fascinated us, while we’d watch them spinning their ornate webs between each cedar bush.  With wide-eyed wonderment we’d see them lure their prey into those sticky filaments.  Summer was not just fun, but a learning experience as well!

No wonder we were tuckered out at night, as we were either riding our trikes or bikes, or walking to the end of Sandmere Place, where we ran and played in the meadow for hours on end.   We would pick handfuls of sweet pink clover and pull the petals out and suck on the ends … it tasted like honey and looked like this. 

We’d lay on our backs, gazing at the shapes of the clouds and guessing if they reminded us of animals or whatnot, while enjoying our clover break.  Clover didn’t give us cavities or make us too full for supper. 

It was never too hot to enjoy our Summer break from school – we were young and carefree.  Summer seemed to hold so much allure back then.

Those honey bunnies love their clover too.

I watched some bunnies at Council Point Park recently.  Now that the ducks and geese have left this venue and Harry the Heron can’t land on the flooded cement landing, critter pickin’s for photo ops are slim.  (I’ve saved some squirrel photos though in case you need a “squirrel fix” and I’ll be sharing them soon.)  My squirrels, when they are not up in their nests, are on the ground or lower tree branches wilted and not their usual perky selves these days.  The birds are up in their nests.  So by default, the bunnies are the only furry friends left to enjoy right now.

While the bunnies are more chipper than the squirrels, they don’t interact with you and cannot be lured over with a peanut.  I’ve even bought baby carrots for them in the past, and, if you put some on the perimeter path, it really doesn’t interest them at all.  They want to munch on grass, unless you startle them and they’ll bound off, their powderpuff tail flashing at you.  The bunnies will find grass somewhere else with no humans looming over them. 

The Park bunnies are brave these days, because the clover is plentiful at the Park, as you see below.  This is just ordinary white clover, but there is plenty of pink clover too, though I’ll pass on that treat now – we never worried about pesticides back when we were kids. 

Come to think of it, I don’t think we worried about anything to tell you the truth.

I saw this interesting chalk art the other day and I’m going to use it to segue from bunnies to ice cream.

Today is National Ice Cream Day.

Growing up I wasn’t allowed to eat candy except at holidays, but I guess frozen confections like Popsicles or creamy treats like ice cream weren’t in that category, because they seemed to be plentiful in the good ol’ Summertime.  Last year I waxed nostalgic about splitting and eating grape Popsicles in the wading pool with my best friend Linda Crosby.   

So, when I popped onto Twitter earlier today, I was surprised to see that there is a movement underway to bring back “Popsicle Twins” as they were known to us. 

When I was a kid, if our family went into town, we’d stop at a little store that sold ice cream and old-fashioned candy.  While waiting for our ice cream cones, I would wander around peering through the big glass jars that contained all types of candy.  I always stopped at the jars of black licorice Scotty dogs or black licorice pipes.  That black licorice wasn’t sweet because it was pure licorice, made with licorice root and anise, so it was brown inside and a little bitter.  I think the bigger draw, more than that bitter-tasting licorice, was the fact that it made your tongue black.  So, the licorice treats I was allowed to have occasionally, but the gumballs and sticky, gooey caramels and peanut butter kisses were strictly verboten. 

When we got our ice cream cones they were a double scoop, but not like you’re used to today – they were side-by-side ice cream scoops.  I searched around for a photo of one of those old, very cool-looking, double-cone ice cream cones and sure enough I found one image on Pinterest.  The shop sold Sealtest brand ice cream and I’d get a scoop each of strawberry and chocolate – my parents never strayed from vanilla.

The brutal reality.

It was nice going back a little and remembering how fun Summer used to be.  In 2018 and 2019 Summer has lost its luster in my opinion – in fact it has become a bit of a drag.  I’m feeling fortunate, however, because this morning upon reviewing our City’s crime and local news Facebook site, I was amazed to see that the high winds took down several trees and many power lines just a few blocks away – they are on a different grid than me.  Meijer, my spot to walk in this oppressive heat, similarly lost power so I skipped a walk today.  Almost 400,00 homes or businesses are without power right now and some won’t have restoration until late Tuesday.

One last reflection on the past, if you’ll indulge me.  Even though the wicked storms and volatile weather which took down power lines and left us in the dark with no juice, were few and far between, back then, our neighbors banded together to make things more comfortable for one another.  We all know how neighbors want to borrow a cup of sugar for a recipe, but our neighbors across the street, upon losing their power, once asked if they could hook up an extension cord to our garage power outlet to get some “juice” to run a fan.  We indulged them.  My next-door neighbor brought over coffee and bacon and eggs made on their gas grill when we both had a power outage … her son, who lived in nearby Wyandotte at the time, took all our frozen food to their home, as he was a hunter and had a chest freezer in the garage.  They even accommodated some of our refrigerated food, thus angst relieved over food spoilage.  We lived like that for an entire week one time in the heat of the Summer. 

But it still does not rival what is happening these days.

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“Fly Me to the Moon”

When I think of the moon, the first thing that comes to mind is the song “Fly Me to the Moon” by Frank  Sinatra.  Though I’m not a Frank Sinatra fan, I grew up listening to his songs every Sunday as the 33 RPM vinyl LPs dropped, one at a time, on the stereo spindle.  Ol’ Blue Eyes was interspersed between Jim Reeves, Patsy Cline and  Hank Williams, Sr., my folks’ personal favorites.

I’m sure I’m not the only person whose parents parted the curtains so their kids could peer out the window at the full moon.  I was told if I squinted really hard, I could probably see the Man in the Moon looking back at me.  I squinted, but didn’t see anything.  I even waved, but he never waved back, like the friendly conductor in the little red caboose whenever we got stopped at the railroad tracks going to my grandmother’s house.

So, I guess as a kid I didn’t buy into the Man in the Moon story – did you?

But, fifty years ago today, I was sitting there, parked in front of the television as the culmination of the Apollo 11 space mission was displayed for everyone to see.  I am sure if someone had a camera, our mouths were open in an “O” shape as we stared in wonderment as Neil Armstrong stepped onto the lunar surface and uttered those now-famous words:  “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

So, you want to be a millionaire, eh?

My parents read the daily newspaper cover to cover back in the day, and when we had all perused the story and pictures heralding this monumental mission, my mom handed me the front page of the newspaper and said “put this newspaper in your desk and hold onto it – one day this will be worth something!”

Being the dutiful child that I was, I did just that, tucked it into my desk, and, because I was so much more organized in those days, I know exactly where it is today … top pull-out drawer, underneath a plastic tray that holds pencils, erasers, paper clips, maybe even a protractor and compass from circa 1969  – yup, that is where it has been for fifty years minus one day.

I decided I was going to get that newspaper out and take a photo of the front page for this post, then return it to its safe spot once again, only I didn’t factor in that back in 2017 when I cleaned the basement after the insulation job, I pushed a wall of blue Rubbermaid totes in front of the desk and a heavy coat rack in front of the totes.  Oops!

Nope, I wasn’t going to move all that – no way.  Maybe for the 75th anniversary of the moon landing.

In the meantime, I decided to Google around to find the same picture featured on the front page of “The Detroit News” on July 21, 1969.  My search took me to eBay where not only the July 21st newspaper was featured, but also the special edition and a local paper moon event special as well.  Bidding started at $29.99. 

Hmm – so much for being a millionaire!

So, I continued my search to find that elusive front page of “The Detroit News” … here you see it on July 21, 1969, both above the fold …

…and below the fold.

[I gleaned these reproductions from  “The Detroit News”.]

Moon pies and mishaps.

I was at Meijer a few months ago and a display of Oreo cookies honoring the 50th anniversary of the moon landing caught my eye.  It was a smaller-than-average package and had glow-in-the-dark stickers which you see in the header image above.  I decided I should have this treat “for the cause” so I bought them and put them away, intending to enjoy them today with Tang, er … a tall glass of cold milk.

Unfortunately, the day I smashed my finger in the garage door, the “cause” became immediate, and, in a moment of frustration, I slit open the package and ate them left-handed as I held my throbbing ring finger on my right hand above my head, cradled inside a bag of frozen berries.

Funny, but the Oreos didn’t make my finger feel any better and they were marshmallow, kind of resembling a Moon pie, not the traditional white cream … if you’re a purist about your Oreos, you know what I mean.  Also, the marshmallow inside the Oreos was purple, just like my finger.

The way I figure it, the moon and stars are not aligned at this house …

First, the garage door spring went wonky, then the new garage door held my finger hostage where the panels go together for a brief second, then the other day a simple Windows update caused my computer to have a meltdown and I’m still putting Humpty Dumpty back together again.  Hopefully normalcy will prevail soon.

The Kennedy Space Center.

I looked back in my online photos albums I scanned in a few years ago to see if I had any pictures from a family trip to Florida in 1972 where we stopped at the Kennedy Space Center. I was sure we had a family photo posed there, but  all I had was this space capsule.

“The Eagle has Landed!!”

Before the historic steps on the lunar surface, Neil Armstrong  announced that they had touched down on the moon by saying “Houston, Tranquility Base here.  The Eagle has landed.” 

You will notice that this post is devoid of any nature pictures – that is because I will slip in a post called “The Eagle has Landed” by fellow blogger Wayne of Tofino Photography.  You can  enjoy some beautiful moon and eagles of the feathered variety by clicking here.  

Not long ago, we reached 96 degrees at Metro Airport, one degree less than the record set in 1977.  I was successful getting this post done, barely, since still another storm, as a result of the oppressive heat, is now here, bringing strong wind, hail and possible tornadic conditions as I publish this post. It is whooshing around now and I can hear rain pelting down, so  likely will pull the plug on the computer and hope for the best.

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Made in the shade.

I remember hearing this expression when I was a youngster – my parents would say “oh ya, they’re doin’ great – they’ve got it made in the shade now.”  I’ll bet it was an expression that a beatnik like Maynard Krebs would have said.  But that saying, just like a lot of other fun, but archaic, expressions back in the day, like declaring someone is “sittin’ pretty” when they are doing well, have gone the way of the VW Bus and Beetle. 

Get set to sweat!

That’s what our weather forecasters told us last week already – well, they got that right!  Today I did not meander the pathways at Council Point Park, but instead I marched through the aisles at Meijer, wending my way around the perimeter of the store enough times to make four miles – any more trips and I might have been arrested for loitering.  I’m only kidding about the loitering of course, because I saw a few other walkers there, and besides, I’ve been shopping at this store since the good old Farmer Jack supermarket closed down suddenly in 2006 and Meijer instantly became my go-to spot for groceries.  I chitchat with many of the clerks while I am there and know several by name, including Barb, the weekday greeter, who is married to the former guard at the building where our office suite is, so we always stop to shoot the breeze.

Speaking of a breeze, there was none this morning, and that’s why I opted for the air conditioning to get in my steps – it was a sultry 75 F (23 C), with a real feel of nearly 80 (26 C), as the humidity was so high.  Just walking from the car through the parking lot left beads of sweat on my brow, so I headed for the big freezers and refrigerated section first, sidling past the frozen sweet peas while gazing longingly at the Klondike Bars. 

We’ve been in this wicked heat wave now for several weeks, but the end of the week will be oppressive – Friday and Saturday are predicted to be 96 F (35 C) with a heat index of 105 F (40 C) and storms both days.  I fear a power outage from electricity overload – it happened last year and I lost my power for a day last June.  I also worry about severe weather, including tornadoes, with this heat.

As to staying cool as a cucumber, it’s pretty difficult whether you are walking on two legs or four. 

If you’re lucky and your father built you a tree house, that’s the perfect venue to stay cool, up amongst the trees and having your parents sending cool drinks and lunch up to your hideaway via a pulley system, as you while away the hours on hot Summer days.  This is the same home I featured a few years ago – they have décor that is homespun and cozy-looking and I’ve complimented the homeowners on their décor several times through the years.  The Dad built this tree house five years ago and I spotlighted it in a blog post.  I had watched its progress over the Summer of 2014.  You can check out that post right here, or see how that work in progress looked in 2014 and how it looks today, all covered in ivy and with many more enhancements – perhaps this is a version of a small house, only up in a tree.

But how do you keep cool if you’re not cocooned in a tree house or in your own air-conditioned home or at work?  I don’t know how the people who work outside do it – I was pretty tuckered out after doing my steps yesterday. 

When it comes to shady things, I aim for the shady side of the Park in this hot weather.  One loop has more trees that are closer to the pathway and in some places form a canopy over the path – whew, it feels good to be in that area, and that is where the most birds and squirrels are as well.

Perhaps a little sit-down was in order.

I might have wanted to have a sit down, but there were a few issues that I could see.

This used to be a park bench and suddenly it was tumbling down; some cement and a few wooden slats are all that remain now. That happened Monday after I left.  It was good for some critter pictures as the squirrels used to run along the top of the bench, or perch nicely while noshing on nuts.

While you could have a sit-down here, the view is nothin’ special.

This bench has been warped like this for as long as I’ve walked at the Park … you could take a load off your feet, but I bet you’d get a sinking feeling, although it’s perfect to perch on if you’re a squirrel.

Speaking of squirrels – how are my peanut pals faring these days?

Last year, I did a post showing the squirrels up in the tree branches.  They looked listless with their tails stretched out like a banner, and all four legs dangling down.  Last week in a post you saw a squirrel stretched out in the shady part of the perimeter path, similarly looking lifeless.

Yesterday I saw one of my furry friends up in a tree, in a similar position – he looked at me as if to say “go away, I want to be alone in my misery” … I took several shots of him.

Then I jiggled the bag of peanuts and told him I was going to leave a little pile at the base of the tree for when he felt better.  I opened the Ziploc bag which I had just filled that morning and a fresh peanut smell wafted through the warm and humid air.  I think he came to life because suddenly he seemed to say:  “I was just stretched out contemplating life and very very hot, but wait … is that peanuts I smell?  Well perhaps I could persuade you to put the peanuts up here next to me on the branch – what say you Linda?”

I stayed awhile to see just how tempting those peanuts were and soon, very slowly, he descended the tree, grabbed a peanut, then scrambled back up to his shady haven.

Stay cool in this sizzling weather, and enjoy treats – especially the ice cream variety!

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Beauty is fleeting …

… or perhaps I should say flitting, as in flitting by.  That is the case with butterflies anyway.  We have to seize the opportunity to enjoy their presence, as we really only have a few short months every year to do so.

Here in the Midwest, we have four distinct seasons (or we used to – grrr).  During those dark and dreary, and brutally cold Michigan Winters, the allure of long summer days, baking in the sun or spending time on the water is what often keeps us going.  We glom onto all that Summer has to offer here in the Great Lakes State, not unlike a moth is drawn to a flame, or a butterfly will gravitate to the most colorful and beautiful blooms in a garden.

The rainy, not to mention hot and steamy, weather has Michiganders bemoaning climate change and declaring it to be a bit of a bummer Summer.  We expected more – even craved it, after our lackluster Spring.  I’ve already witnessed leaves fluttering to the ground, yet I’ve had only one goldfinch sighting, and zero glimpses of hummingbirds hovering about – even the butterflies have been scarce in the ‘hood, or at the Park. 

Except for the other day.

Well, this was an unexpected surprise.

I remember reading a quote many years ago by naturalist Henry David Thoreau about happiness and a butterfly, so I searched for it to use in this post:

“Happiness is like a butterfly, the more you chase it, the more it will evade you, but if you notice the other things around you, it will gently come and sit on your shoulder.”

I was at Council Point Park the other morning, just doing my steps and enjoying the trek, when another walker came along, pointed to my shoulder and said “did you know you have a butterfly on your shoulder?”  I immediately swiveled my head around, and sure enough, there was a Red Admiral butterfly perched prettily on my white tee-shirt.  Now, I often have more colorful, even tropical-looking, shirts I wear during those steamy hot days, and I could have understood if that butterfly honed in on one of those “flowers” … but a white tee-shirt?  At any rate, it settled there, daintily opening and closing its wings.  Janet, the other walker, said “look at that, its outside wings are brown and it would blend into a tree –  its coloring even looks like a brown leaf!”   Then the Red Admiral spread those wings to reveal its true colors:  black lower wings, orange stripes and white dots.  For a second or two, I thought “should I have Janet take a picture of it on my shoulder?”  Then I decided that butterfly’s visit was fleeting and it would soon flutter off.

But I was wrong (no, it’s not the first time).

That butterfly decided to go for a free ride.  It clung to my shoulder while I kept glancing back, craning my neck to get a glimpse of it in my peripheral vision, while it was opening and closing its wings and just enjoying the view.  Unbelievably, that Red Admiral butterfly stayed there on my shoulder for about a mile and a half before it finally took off. 

Maybe in a few months I’ll twist my neck around and discover a Monarch resting there, because we have many milkweed plants along the perimeter path. 

Today I was treated to more eye candy.

That’s because today was the annual Felty Farm’s Butterfly Garden Open House which is held at Verne and Randy Felty’s home in Southgate, Michigan.  They are kind-hearted souls, who use their beautiful backyard that is brimming with blooms, to enlighten visitors on pollinator friendly practices, while benefiting several local animal rescue groups.

For the small price of a donation of some items coveted by these local animal welfare groups, such as The River Rouge Animal Shelter, Lucky Day Animal Rescue and 4 PAWS Sake, you can step into this butterfly haven which is tended to with a lot of hard work and TLC by Verne and Randy Felty. 

Verne Felty, the hostess of this event,  published the list of the various needs, wants and desires by these groups recently on her Facebook page.  When I arrived at noon, the grass and driveway were already piled high with grocery bags filled with items tailored to each group’s needs.

Here was my contribution – paper plates used for feeding their smallest charges, peanut butter for Kong treats and I re-gifted my dog leash and jerky treats that I received at the Mutt Strut 5K event back in May.

But wait a minute … for this small donation, you too, will be benefiting.  Oh, it’s not just the eye candy, but you will have a warm and fuzzy feeling from helping our less-fortunate, furry and four-legged friends, and you also get three chances to win one of many raffle prizes which have been donated by various local businesses and creative folks in the Downriver area.

The last time I attended, I won a charm shaped like the Mitten State (the nickname for Michigan) that is made out of prized Petoskey stone, a rock that people in this state collect on the sandy beaches of northern Michigan.  These stones are rough fossilized coral and people polish them in tumbling kits to use as paperweights, or sometimes, like here, they are fashioned into jewelry.

I did not attend last year’s event because of the extreme heat – it was in the 90s and high humidity and I had already been on a six-mile walk that morning, but my friend Ann Marie went and said it was wall-to-wall people, despite those sultry temps.  At the 2017 event, (my first time), I enjoyed myself immensely.  I took many pictures, then wrote a post about the yard, including the Koi fish pond, creative and artsy yard sculptures and the flowers, then sent it to Verne Felty.  There was eye candy everywhere your eyes landed, and that’s not even counting the butterflies:  I have a picture of a Red Admiral butterfly in that post, so here it is if you’d care to read it:

Verne Felty commented on that post and has since contacted me to advise when subsequent events will be held – in fact she will host two events this year, today, plus one in Fall to witness the Monarch butterflies.  As you see in the post referenced above, this yard is a Monarch Waystation, an area of the backyard is solely dedicated to nurturing Monarch butterflies, because, as you may know, milkweed is the sustenance for the beautiful Monarch butterflies.

“Christmas in July” was today’s theme at Felty Farm.

I arrived early enough to seek out Verne Felty so I could introduce myself before she got too busy.  I wanted to meet the person whose picture-perfect front and back yards are a showcase, and who is doing such a wonderful and selfless deed to benefit our furry pals.  I even wore my Mutt Strut tee-shirt, to show that even though I nurture no four-legged pals at my house, I’m all in for helping out the less fortunate furry friends.

Now for the highlights of today’s event.

Upon entering Felty Farm, you really don’t know what to look at first – there are beautiful flowers, and a whole lot of creative yard art here in the form of statuary, wood, but mostly metal. 

There are signs to make you smile and/or nod your head in agreement.

There are informative and cautionary signs like this one.

As I meandered along, mixing and mingling with others on the mulch paths and wooden boardwalk, I was admiring the many flowers.  Even if you don’t delight in butterflies for some reason, it was a treat to see all the colorful blooms.  I recognized many of them, and, according to a recent local news story about today’s event, Felty Farm’s butterfly-preferred blooms include phlox, butterfly bushes, Mexican sunflowers, Joe-Pye weed, latanas, zinnias and coneflowers.  The Monarchs are treated to a trio of milkweed varieties including common, tropical and swamp milkweed.

Tucked here, there and everywhere are a variety of angels, bikes and birdhouses …

… as well as an assortment of other yard art.

The wind chimes that were hanging around the yard tinkled pleasantly in the very slight breeze.  A beautiful pond with a waterfall and many Koi fish was popular, as we all took in the peace and beauty of the fish leisurely swimming and looking up at us, perhaps for handouts?

I took this picture of the woman near the entrance of the backyard – be sure to check out her sign which I have enlarged.

When I asked Verne and Randy if I could take their picture, I said if it did not turn out well, I would have to use “The Bloomers Lady” to represent Verne.

The stars of the show.

So, who would be the stars of this event?  Verne and Randy?  The people who attended and gave selflessly to benefit animal welfare?  Maybe it was the butterflies and bees that drifted lazily around the flowers?

It was a hot and sunny day, one where you would think many butterflies would be sipping sweet nectar from all those flowers.  I did see a couple of Cabbage Whites and a few Monarchs as well.  Surprisingly, there was just one pair of Monarchs that flitted from flower to flower.  One admirer, who stood patiently with his camera, its long lens trained on the colorful blooms and a solitary butterfly that kept hiding behind a leaf in the shade, finally turned to me and said “it’s a little bit of a diva, don’t you think?”  I agreed saying “it is just trying our patience in the hot sun to see how badly we really want to take the photograph.”  Well, we were both rewarded with a few butterfly photos.

We lucked out to find a few bumblebees buzzing over the milkweed and coneflowers too.

As mentioned above, I understand a special open butterfly garden event catered specifically to Monarchs will take place at Felty Farm in September before they flit and flutter their way to their sunny and warm Winter homes and we collectively will hunker down, with the furnace blaring, just counting the days ‘til Summer returns.

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Beach bums and bare bums,

er … BEAR bums (that pesky autocorrect)!!

I know that title made you take a second look though, didn’t it?

It’s another sultry and sizzling day here in Southeast Michigan.  It got to 90 degrees F (32 C).  It was pretty steamy when I ventured out on my walk this morning, but I did get in five miles anyway – it’s all about that final goal of 1,242 miles (2,000 K).  The days are already getting shorter as we creep toward Winter.  Sadly, the sun is getting up nearly one minute later, and going to bed one minute earlier, every day since the Summer Solstice has passed. 

Due to my smashed finger debacle, I realized a couple of days ago that I never reported on my miles at the end of June.  I’ll wait and walk my socks off some more, then report my total at the end of July instead.

The heat and humidity were unrelenting for over a week.

In my last post, I wrote about sweltering away in our heat wave here in muggy Michigan.  Of course, the hot weather is a whole lot easier to take if you own a pool, or a cottage at the lake (or have dear friends whom you could visit).  While other beachgoers enjoyed the cool water of Lake Michigan over the recent holiday weekend, this deer was not going to let a few humans stand in the way of him becoming a beach bum.  Click here and scroll down for a smile.

Now, what about that bare/bear bum?

Monday was garbage day all along my route to Council Point Park.  I rounded the bend and the first thing I saw was one humongous bare bottom looking me in the eye.  Oh, by the way, I guess I should mention it was a plush bare bottom.

Butt, what a bummer (excuse the puns – I couldn’t resist)!  

The garbage cans were in the way to get a good picture (and, at one point, I even questioned why I would take such a picture, but I had an idea for this post, so what the heck).  If anyone was looking out their window, they probably thought I’d been in the sun too long, as I carefully angled myself to take not only the bare/bear bum shot, but a few more of this poor unloved teddy bear that was looking so undignified, all crumpled up, arms and legs haphazardly sticking out and flopped over onto his face, bum up in the air.  

Yes, the indignity of it all!

Perhaps because I collected teddy bears for decades, it gave me a smile, but maybe it is just a warped sense of humor on my part too?

When the heat finally took a hike, so did I – a few extra-long ones.

We were lucky to get a three-day reprieve so Sunday through Tuesday, I racked up the miles, six miles each trek, savoring those cooler, humid-free days.  I was here, there and everywhere, mostly hanging around my go-to place, Council Point Park, but strolling around the ‘hood  as well.  I actually took 200 plus pictures over the long holiday and this week without even leaving the City.   The squirrels were back to their ol’ perky, begging selves and the Cardinal and Blue Jay each scammed a peanut while Stubby went to bury his treasure. He had a rude awakening when he returned to see how short his pile of peanuts had become while he was away.

But alas, all good things must come to an end.

We returned to sweltering temps again today, in the 90s, and a possible storm on the way this evening.  So, this morning I sought shade, just like my feathered and furry friends.  I spent my entire walk on the shady side of the Park.  But, I had the luxury of returning to A/C after my trek in the heat – they did not. 

Interestingly, we are quick to credit our “new norm” of erratic weather to strictly climate change, and I have no doubt that is the reason too; just look at what is going on in Alaska.  But, for years, every time we had a prolonged heat wave, my mom would recount the story of the big heat wave of 1936.

I just researched a bit and learned that the heat wave encompassed all North America from July 8th to the 15th  – in fact, the peak of the heat (July 8th through 10th ) would have been on the same date as I am writing this post.  The death toll in North America was over 6,000 people (780 direct and 400 indirect deaths in Canada and 5,000 in the U.S.) and large numbers of crops were destroyed by the heat and lack of moisture.

My mom was ten years old at the time of the heat wave and she vividly recalled how Ontario residents wilted as the thermometer hovered at 105 to 110 F daily (40 to 43 C), only dipping down to the mid-90s at night.  She remembered her parents speaking in hushed tones about the deaths of mostly babies, children and older folks.  She told me that most people, her family included, had to make do with a single fan for the entire house.  My grandfather came home nightly from working in a stifling hot factory where he made rubber boots, and he’d have dinner, then he and most of the men in the neighborhood, who also toiled at factory jobs, each took their pillow and a blanket down to Sunnyside Park where they lined up to sleep on the boardwalk at the water’s edge, hoping to catch a small breeze from Lake Ontario.  Likewise, in those days my grandmother worked in the hot, greasy Planters Peanuts factory.  During the heat wave of ’36, she and my mom slept out on the front porch every night to get out of the oven-hot house.  The ice man would drop off the ice for the icebox and Mom said the ice would be melting as they carried it through the house to the kitchen. 

How lucky we are, even as we muddle through these 90+ degree days – it puts it all into perspective, doesn’t it?

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T.P.T.P.!!!

I know it’s not the best shot, but doesn’t your heart melt just a little at the sight of my furry friend, lethargic and listless, on the perimeter path? The heat and humidity – ugh, in fact … double ugh!!

When we were kids, we used this expression on hot days:  “Mom:  we’re T.P.T.P.!!!” 

What is “T.P.T.P.” you ask?  Why it means “too pooped to participate!”

Yes, it has been the long-awaited  holiday weekend and by mid-week the doomsayers (a/k/a the weather folks) were already predicting the Independence Day extended holiday forecast … continued hot and steamy weather, with afternoon thunderstorms every day as a result of the heat spikes.  Heck, they even threw in possible severe thunderstorms for a couple of the days as the proverbial cherry on top of the melting sundae. 

However, Sunday was predicted to be perfect.

So Sunday arrived.  I was up with the chickens, eager to get out to a different venue, but the 5:08 a.m. weather forecast was for continued heat, humidity, rain and a pop-up thunderstorm – all  slated for this morning when I would have departed.  (Hmm – what happened to clear as a bell?)  So, I’ve stayed in ‘til the highly anticipated cold front passes, so the humidity will vanish and cooler temps will be in place … for two days anyway.  This cold front was supposed to happen last night – sigh. 

We’ve had this extreme heat and iffy volatile weather for about ten days – the meteorologists predict storms and they don’t happen, yet we’ve had multiple pop-up rainstorms in the course of one day, or rain and rumbles when the forecast was clear weather.  It was just oppressive stepping outdoors, in fact some heat advisories were in place from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Friday.  The temps got to “real feels” close to 100 degrees F (38 C).  Though I’ve grumbled mightily about the brutally cold and ice-ridden Winter, then the chilly and rainy Spring, Summer’s been no picnic either with its continued heat and humidity and buggy and muggy – whew, I feel like I’ve been moving at the pace of a snail.

So, instead of heading out to a larger park where I could enjoy a change of pace and view, even if it was waterlogged or soggy, I just stuck close to home throughout the long holiday.  I got my steps in, then scurried home to the A/C to be a lady of leisure.

Or kickin’ back, propping my feet up – a few naps were necessary as the neighborhood fireworks went way past my bedtime.

On the Fourth of July, I ambled through the neighborhood to check out the patriotic swag.  I always like this home for their year-round homespun décor. 

I stopped long enough to take a few shots, then decided that I was very much unlike this sign advertising “fresh flowers” …

…  yup, I was not “fresh as a daisy” … nope, I was just the opposite of this bloom (sorry I didn’t have a daisy pic).

I was feeling very wilted.   

I am scrambling to do this post before the predicted thunderstorm, lest you think I melted into a pool like the Wicked Witch of the West.  I, of course, am not the only one suffering from the heat.  At my favorite stomping grounds. Council Point Park, even the squirrels are lethargic from the heat, as you see above.  This was one of several squirrels that were stretched out like this along the perimeter path or in the grass.  They did eventually come over for peanuts, but were not their usual lively selves.

I trust that St. Francis, the Patron Saint of Animals and the Environment is looking out for my furry and feathered pals as we get through this heat wave.  (He might have his hands full though with the California earthquakes and Alaska’s uncharacteristic heat wave.)

After today, the long holiday weekend is over, however, two days of beautiful weather are  promised.  Mother Nature needs a memo about her timing – anyone have the old gal’s e-mail address or Twitter handle?

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I’m back, but …

… they’re gone! The geese that is. More about them later.

After an angst-ridden ten days, give or take a day or two, I think I’m fairly caught up here on WordPress and other social media, and things are back to normal, so I’ll take a stab at posting my usual shtick, hopefully absent a rundown of mishaps, going forward.  I’m still typing with nine fingers, but thanks to some TLC and a lot of prayers, I think my finger looks much better six days after smashing it in the garage door panel.  The top actually looks and feels worse than the fingertip pad and it’s still a bit colorful looking – you might even say it looks red, white and blue!

I had taken a slew of photos about three weeks ago and divvied them up to share in posts, then stuff happened.  All the commotion and details as a result of the garage door debacle, left me fizzed and a bit frazzled and I decided that it is no fun “adulting” with little time to play.  I tried not to miss any walks and for convenience sake, since I was missing the car a good chunk of the time, I did most of my steps at Council Point Park. 

And, speaking of my favorite nature nook, the past week or so has been a little like “Dullsville” – the heat has caused everyone to lose their pep and stay up in their respective trees.  Today, I even took Nutter Butters as a treat for the holiday for my furry pals, but only three squirrels timidly ventured down to ground level, so I just gave them peanuts only.  I’ll save their cookies for cooler weather.  I didn’t see Parker the last few days and am a little worried about him – perhaps he just strayed to the ‘hood where the pickin’s might be better since none of the berry bushes at the Park are ripe yet.  A few squirrels were laying sprawled out beneath a tree, or on the pathway, their fuzzy tails stretched out behind them and four legs akimbo.  I’ve seen them do this before when it is hot and humid like it was today.  We are expecting a storm early evening so I’m trying to get this post done before it arrives.

It’s not only the squirrels MIA, but the Cardinals and Red-Winged Blackbirds weren’t popping down to the pathway either.  Harry the Heron has been missing for over a month and there was nary a swan, nor even a mallard, as I meandered along.

The only news of note came from the Creek where the carp are chasing one another out of the water and doing belly flops on the surface.  I couldn’t see them as the bushes are all leafed out, but I know the origin of the big splashes.  Happily, I finally heard Jeremiah, the big ol’ bullfrog that sounds off all Summer as I walk along the perimeter path.  That’s good news as I thought he might have been a goner after our brutal Winter.

While I miss the “regulars” along the walking path, the most noticeable absence lately is the Canada geese, whether they are ambling across the pathway, or gathering at the swimmin’ hole.

Who can resist this side-eye of the gander while his mate does the neck arch when they are perturbed by passersby ogling them?

Or the steely gaze I got for intruding on their respite at the cement landing where you see how the water sloshes over the top?

Bye, bye … gotta fly (or maybe not?)

Though the goslings aren’t ready to fledge, the geese and their offspring left Council Point Park this past week.  They’ve not been around for a week now, and, though their presence is missed, it sure was easier to walk on the perimeter path without stepping around fresh goose poop!

Every June and July the adult Canada geese moult.  They begin to lose their flight feathers in May – these photos show just a few of their large feathers I have seen sticking out of the grass the past couple of weeks, so I knew it was just a matter of time before they departed.  It has been that way every year since I began walking at this venue in 2013.

So, during this time, the geese must find a safe haven away from land predators while they cannot fly and this safe haven will be a body of water.  The geese families have evidently taken a water route to a place where they are safe since the goslings were not equipped to fly yet.

Additionally, this may surprise you, but Council Point Park, just like many other parks or golf courses, do not necessarily embrace the ambiance of the Canada geese during the Summer months.  There are soccer fields, baseball diamonds, inline skating, a playground and picnicking at the pavilion area … and don’t forget the walking path.  The geese sometimes act like they own the turf and get quite antagonistic toward anyone who gets in their way.  So, once the geese and their little families have left, the rest of the Summer the Park grass is sprayed with a non-toxic grape seed concentrate.  Even when the geese are able to fly again, they’ll descend onto the grass, but they don’t like the taste of it, so they go elsewhere to graze.  By the way, this is all approved by the Department of Natural Resources.  The goose repellent contains methyl anthranilate, a chemical that is found naturally in grape juice and gives grape bubblegum its flavor.  Come September, when the kids are back in school and the days are getting shorter, the spraying will cease and the geese will be welcomed back to graze as much as they want.  By then we won’t be able to tell the parents from their offspring!  There are Canada geese at larger parks where they have access to graze from the shoreline, though with all the lakeshore flooding that Michigan has right now, hopefully they will be okay during their transition period.

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