Karma's When I Feel Like It Blog

June 30, 2014

Weekend Fun for 8, 9, &10

Summer days 8, 9, and 10 were spent on our annual group camping trip. If you are curious about this tradition of ours, you can read a couple different posts I’ve done about it using this link.

We returned to Shawme Crowell State Forest on Cape Cod for this year’s trip. We arrived on Friday afternoon with relatively few traffic hassles, which is always a nice bonus.
Bourne Bridge

We set up our tent in the sunshine and enjoyed a beautiful, rain-free weekend.
Sleeping spot

At the campsite

A short exploration of one of many trails in the state park started our day on Saturday.
walk in the forest

That was followed with lunch at a local seafood place and an afternoon at the beach by the canal.
Beach by the canal

boats in the canal

Cape Cod Canal

My group of forever-friends posed for a shot by the canal (that’s me on the far right):
Our crew

It was a beautiful, relaxing weekend spent with great people.

Our dogs even came home from the doggie-spa (kennel) fresh and clean!
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July 29, 2013

State of My Year

WordPress’s Daily Prompt today says to “Write up a mid-year “State of My Year” post.
Photographers, artists, poets: show us NOW.”

I’ve been receiving the Daily Prompt in my email for quite a long time now and often thought the idea presented sounded interesting to blog about, but I’ve rarely participated for no good reason other than being busy with other things or just being distracted by daily life. I was thinking I’d like to write a blog post today but wasn’t sure how to collect my thoughts. The prompt arrived in my email and seemed like an interesting “take stock” idea. The prompt calls it “mid-year” – it is the end of July, that’s really a bit past mid-year, isn’t it? It is also just a little past the mid-point of summer vacation from school too, so here’s where things are at for me.

Anticipation for Meghan’s move to campus has begun. We’ve been out shopping for dorm supplies.
dorm supplies
Target, Bed Bath & Beyond and Christmas Tree Shops have all provided us with some great deals and bargains to get her set up in the place she will live for 9 months starting on August 22nd. It is exciting and scary and happy and sad all at once. My stomach does flip-flops whenever I think about it.

My garden seems to be doing nicely. I’m pretty much keeping up with the weeding this year.
garden mid-summer
Those piles to the right of center are weeds I’ve pulled and hoed and raked, but I just haven’t removed from the garden yet. I’ve harvested some of nearly everything I’ve planted this year, including tomatoes.
garden harvest
I’m not used to having tomatoes until mid-August, so those early girls were a nice treat.

The butterfly bushes are in full bloom and the swallowtails and hummingbird moths have returned to drink their fill of nectar.
tiger swallowtail

hummingbird moth

Other plants surrounding my deck, I’m ashamed to admit, have not fared so well. During the intense heat wave most of the country endured a little over a week ago, I spent little time outside and forgot about my poor little potted plants needing water!
oops forgot to water them
Oops! I’ve never been so neglectful. I killed every one of my potted annuals, except for this mini-rose the girls gave me for Mother’s Day.
mini-rose
It was lucky enough to be planted in a “self-watering” container with a little reservoir in the bottom of the pot, so it survived. Maybe I should look for a few more of those containers, huh?

looks ok
Ah, the pool. It has been both a blessing and a thorn in my side this summer. I told you in this post about the liner tearing and needing replacing. Then, I explained here what happened when we did replace it. Since then, hoses have sprung leaks and needed replacing and parts have come loose, unbeknownst to me at the time, and drained a couple hundred gallons of water from the pool. Then last night, as I was cleaning up from dinner, I noticed the lights in the house were flickering. I looked around trying to figure out if there was a brown-out going on, when smoke billowing up from my backyard caught my eye! At that moment, a small burst of flame appeared in the area of the pool’s filter. I ran outside, unplugged the filter and turned on the hose. The flame was gone, but this was discovered:
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I have no idea why but the power cord to the filter shorted out and fried. Goody, yet another pool part that needs replacing this year. I do feel lucky, however, that the flame didn’t go anywhere and cause any other damage.

Before the smoking adventure with my pool, we had just returned home from our annual camping trip. This is a tradition 20+ years in the making which you can read about here if you are interested. I didn’t take any pictures this year on our trip to Tolland State Forest in Otis, Ma, except for this pretty great one of our whole group of campers, couples and families who have been friends since we were teenagers/young adults:
da gang
We were all pretty happy we made it through the weekend without a drop of rain. That isn’t usually the case for our camping trips! In fact, this past weekend had to be one of the nicest we’ve ever experienced while camping: sunny skies, pleasant temperatures and no humidity.

I am looking forward to the rest of what summer holds. My younger daughter turns 16 this week! Party and learner’s permit coming soon. Our annual vacation to Maine is less than two weeks away.

That’s the “now” of my life at this little-more-than-mid-point of the year. How is your “now”?

July 17, 2012

Camping Critters

No, the critters didn’t go camping, but I did see quite a variety on our camping trip to Goshen, MA last weekend.
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A morning hike to a fire-tower brought me my first dragonfly shot of the season:
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as well as an encounter with a bird that I’d never seen before:

grouse

We wondered at first if it was a quail, but the members of our group believed this nearly chicken-sized bird to be too large to be a quail.  Later in the day, the word for this bird just popped into my head, unbidden: grouse!

When I came home, I double checked my thought on the computer and the description of this bird seems to match that of a ruffled grouse.

An afternoon walk to the small lake beach provided a couple more interesting creature encounters.  This creature was of a very familiar type, but I’d never seen one quite doing this before:

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I know many dogs, especially retrievers (not MY retriever of course!), enjoy swimming, but I’d never seen one swimming along side a cayak.

A pair of ducks made their way into the swimming area too.  They were unafraid of the people in the area.  I took a few pictures out of habit, but then I was happily surprised to capture this one:

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I don’t know if this was the he or the she of the pair, as both ducks looked virtually identical.  I think he/she looks ready to conduct a symphony!

A far less symphonic critter was the next to slither by my lens:

snake

I’m not generally bothered all that much by snakes, not that I’d like to have one for a pet or anything mind you, so getting this photo didn’t require much bravery on my part.  Later, however, my friends at the campsite looked at this picture zoomed in and believe we were in the company of a small copperhead snake – a venomous, but not overly dangerous or agressive snake.

There were also the usual chattering, curious red squirrels and chipmunks that ran around our campsite, but I somehow didn’t manage any photos of those.  One brave chipmunk that chose to come a little closer to us was rewarded with a treat of peanuts – I wish I had gotten a picture of those stuffed up cheeks.

Heat and humidity have taken over this region once again; upper 90’s are forecast and we are under a heat advisory.  Hope you are keeping cool today, whatever you are doing.

July 11, 2011

Camping with the Silly Walks Gang

Filed under: Travel — Karma @ 3:56 pm
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Camping.  It is a word that produces mixed responses from people.  “Oh camping!  I LOVE camping!” or “Oh, camping, uh, no thanks,” are two typical responses.  I find myself in a place somewhere in between those two responses.  Let me explain.

My only camping experience as a child was with my family and our best-friend neighbors.  My mother considers “roughing it” to be staying at a hotel that doesn’t have room service, so it was an interesting experience.  I don’t remember a lot about it except that it ended early due to heavy rainfall one night and that my sister lost a doll’s arm in a near by creek.

My husband, on the other hand, practically grew up in the wilderness.  He was a Boy Scout for years (in the days when Boy Scouts really camped out) and a summer camp counselor when he was a teenager.  When we had been dating for a few years, he and some friends of ours wanted to go camping.  I agreed to go and was happy to spend the weekend with friends.  Thus began a tradition 20 years in the making.

With the exception of a few years here and there due to events such as the birth of children, since 1990 a group of great friends has gotten together for a camping trip.  The people available and the location of the camping have varied over the years but the one truth is this:  we have a great time enjoying each other’s company.  Our children range in age from 8 to 18 now, and our kids look forward to it as much as we do now.  For those of you on the “camping, no thanks” side, let me say that this isn’t normal camping.  With the exception of being outdoors, there isn’t much about our trip that is roughing it.

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Yes, we do sleep in tents – tents equipped with comfortable air mattresses, pillows, and blankets.

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Yes, we do cook over a fire – but we also use propane powered campstoves and grills.  This year’s big Saturday night dinner included 7 pounds of spicy beef brisket, grilled summer squash and zucchini (from my garden), tortellini salad, cheddar broccoli rice, baked beans with bacon, and strawberry-rhubarb compote for dessert.  During the day we munched on piccadillo (a Mexican dish) for lunch, homemade beef jerky, chips and salsa, trail mix and fresh cherries, to name a few of our snacks.  Oh and breakfast both mornings was quite delicious.  Blueberry pancakes and sausage on Saturday, egg sandwiches, bacon and cinnamon rolls on Sunday.

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Check out this set up.  We are prepared for rain, have plenty of comfy seats, and did I mention plenty of food?
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Yes, we do have to walk a bit to the restroom, but that’s really okay when you have a pretty sky like this to look at while you walk:

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On my many walks in this direction, I was able to see red squirrels and various birds during the day, and circling bats and even a raccoon in the evening.  No pictures of them, but I loved seeing them.

So, to return to my explanation on my position about camping.  Roughing it? Uh, no thanks.  Camping our style? I LOVE camping!

For those interested, this year’s camping trip was at Wompatuck State Park in Hingham, MA.  For those curious about my blog title, “Silly Walks Gang” is how this group of friends refers to itself and is the title of our group email.  We are all great fans of Monty Python, hence the name.

August 2, 2010

Cape Cod Camping

Filed under: Photo assignments — Karma @ 8:57 pm
Tags: , , ,

After a beautiful camping trip to Cape Cod this weekend, I thought I’d take the opportunity to practice my photo essay assignment that I will eventually be composing for Scott Thomas’s challenge due in September.

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My family and a group of close friends visited Shawme Crowell State Forest in Sandwich, MA this past weekend for our annual group camping trip.  Shawme Crowell is part of the extensive Massachusetts state park system.  It offers 285 shaded sites for both tents and campers on 700 acres of pine forest and is conveniently located less than 2 miles from the Cape Cod Canal Recreation Area.  (Do I get my extra credit for including people in this shot, Scott?)

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The Cape Cod Canal is a 17.4 mile long waterway which artificially divides the pennisula of Cape Cod from the mainland of Massachusetts.  It saves ships much distance in travel by not having to go completely around the “arm” of Cape Cod, as well as helps them to avoid the hazardous waters off the outer Cape and Nantucket Sound which were responsible for many shipwrecks during the 18th and 19th centuries.  Seven point seven miles of land was cut during the project that began in May 1909 and finished in July 1914.  The canal was originally a toll system, but when it failed to make money for its owners was sold to the U.S. government in 1928.  The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers improved the waterway, making it deeper, wider and safer, as well as constructed the current bridges that serve as today’s transportation routes to the Cape.

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The Bourne and Sagamore Bridges connect Cape Cod to mainland Massachusetts.  The original bridges built before the canal first opened, were draw bridges.  The bridges that we travel today bear the same names as the originals, but were reconstructed when the U.S. government took over ownership of the canal.  The Works Progress Administration approved the construction of the new bridges in 1933 and as much work as possible was hand labor in order to employ as many people as possible.   They opened to traffic in 1935.

I don’t know if this is exactly what Scott is looking for; I had a difficult time showing my places of interest with only one photo each.   

Correctly done photo essay or not, we had a lovely camping trip.  This trip is a tradition with a group of friends that has gone on for more years than I care to count now.  We’ve been to many different campgrounds over the years and have expanded the trip to include our children as each couple’s family grew.  We don’t camp simply either!  We plan out great meals and all share in the work of providing, cooking, serving and cleaning,  and then retire to wonderful nights of telling stories, reminiscing and laughing around the campfire.  It is a tradition we look forward to each year and that I hope will continue for many years to come.