Thursday, July 31, 2008

Fish Creek: Bountiful fish, bountiful weeds

Lots of these dragonflies hovered around us as we fished.We recently went fishing at Fish Creek, west of Mandan. It had been quite a long time since I was at this lake. I was absolutely stunned to see the over abundance of weeds and plant growth in and around this lake. The water level seemed to be down a bit, but I don't think that's the reason for seeing more weeds. I think the weeds have just grown up so much more than in the past. As we fished I also noticed there seemed to be an awful lot of this variety of blue dragonfly. They hovered and swarmed around us all day as we fished. It was kind of fun watching them. Often we would find three, four or five of them lined up on our fishing poles like you see birds on a wire.

Fish Creek Lake seems to have been over run by weeds and cattails along the shoreline.With the tall weeds growing out from the surface of the water in so many places they had plenty of places to land for a rest from flying around. We used the trolling motor most of the time at this lake. The little bit of use of the larger motor just managed to wrap weeds around the prop. The water seemed to reflect a greenish cast to it with lots of floating material rising up from the lake bottom. There was also lots of small plantlife floating around as well.

The amount of weeds are denser than at any other time we have fished this lake.This was a fun afternoon. I caught a small mouth bass almost immediately upon casting out my line. And Mr. B also had one on his line as I was attempting to land mine. We caught our limit of both bass and trout within a few hours. Considering the number of small mouth bass we threw back (being too small to keep) we were kept busy with the fish biting for several hours. I don't remember how many we caught and threw back, or got away, but we certainly caught lots of fish this day.

There are still plenty of fish to be caught even though the weeds seem overwhelming.We used night crawlers on our hooks and were catching both bass and trout steadily. I didn't know trout were a type of fish that swallow everything: bait, hook and sinkers. Thankfully all of the trout we caught were big enough to keep since it was nearly impossible to retrieve the hooks without doing so much damage to the trout they wouldn't survive anyway if thrown back. The bass were different as they often would spit out both the hooks and worms in order to get away. If we did not have a net some of the ones we caught would have got away. There were quite a number that did get away with us being too slow to get them in the net in time.

Another view of the lake overflowing with plant growth.I found out I need a new reel for my fishing pole. I had trouble with the drag when it came to reeling them in. It didn't seem to matter how the drag was set, it just didn't work right. Looks like we'll be going shopping for fishing supplies before we head out to the lake again. That's okay, I've had that reel for so many years. I'm surprised it has held up this long.

There were some areas with fast flows of water, or deeper, where the weeds did not reach the surface.You can see one of the more open areas of the water here in this last photo. There were areas of the lake where a current went through, or the lake was deeper, so the weeds did not reach the surface. Most of this lake was showing 12'-14' deep on the fish finder, but there were some areas that were deeper, like 25'-30'. The fish finder revealed fish in nearly all areas of the lake. Some areas showed multiple large schools of fish. Our strategy was to position ourselves just behind a clump of weeds and allow the wind to cause us to drift away from the weeds. We were getting so many bites, Mr. B had to resort to pinching our night crawlers in half to bait our hooks so we wouldn't run out before we were done fishing for the day. (Okay, I admit it. I'm a big namby-pamby when it comes to baiting the hook. I'm happy to let Mr. B do it for me, and he seems okay with this arrangement, too.)

We left the lake with five small mouth bass and five trout that were pretty good size. After cleaning fish that evening we put the trout in the freezer for another day, and ate half of the bass that night. They are very tasty fish. I cooked the last of the bass last night for supper. Yum!

Saturday, July 26, 2008

New to

A close-up of one of my hand-painted Cat dolls.I recently signed on to and today signed up to be a seller on the site. This website features hand-made items for sale so is a good place to post some of the things I have made. At the moment the listings I am putting up are for items I have made in the past. As I have been cleaning up and sorting through my sewing studio I have come across a lot of items I am ready to part with.

These 16I have many boxes of things I made years ago for craft shows I used to participate in. When I quit doing those shows I just packed up the items that I still had left on hand. These dolls have been sitting here, boxed up in a box of favorite items to keep, for quite some time. I am afraid much of the other hand painted wood items may not be worth much now as that trend has pretty much gone by the wayside from what I can see. I may try to post some of those, but I think most of it may end up going to the second hand store for charity once I am all through with sorting it. My only other option if I cannot sell it on Etsy or Ebay is to give it away, give it to charity, or just toss it out. I've still got lots of boxes and stuff to go through, but decided it was time to start parting with some of it.

The blackbirds in the sunflower fields were a popular item also.
The cloth dolls I am now listing are some of the more interesting things I think should still be of interest for other cloth doll collectors. I have thought more than once about just boxing them back up to keep awhile longer, but I have to ask myself why keep it if I don't have room to have them out for display any longer. I have made so many things over the years I have run out of room for display, and would also like to free up some room from my storage area. I am interested in getting back into creating some new things, but feel I need to make room for more first.

This dove was my own creation with an original poem written on the wood rainbow on her wing.I made the white doves as a counter to all the black of the blackbirds in the sunflowers. My sister lived in Iowa at the time I came up with these. We went to visit that summer and witnessed the floods covering and blocking our route to get to her house. We must have driven at least an hour and a half or more out of our way trying to find a road open to get through. The dove symbolizes hope in a stressful and challenging time or event.
The original poem I wrote myself and put on the hand-cut and hand-painted wooden cutout of the rainbow and cloud motif. The poem reads:

Noah & Co. stayed safe in the ark. . . and after the flood on a mountain did park. A rainbow set high in the cloud above - God's promise forever of His abiding love!

I wanted to write something fairly short that I could make fit on the small wooden cutouts while also covering the message of the story of Noah and the Ark and God's faithful promise of hope given with the rainbow. The back side of this small wooden cutout is dated 1994. It's hard to believe it was that long ago when I originally made these doves. I always liked these little doves. Actually I liked all these little dolls, must be why I kept them around for so long. But, it's now time to make room for more things to come.

I looked for dates on the other two dolls, but apparently didn't mark these. I'll sign them before I let them go. I remember I used to hand sign the backs of the heads or on the back side or the back of a leg. The dolls are meant to be used for collector items, not for children's play toys. The garments are sewn on and are not meant to be removeable. Some of the stitching and small parts just are not recommended for children's playthings.

My etsy shop can be found by clicking on the sidebar where indicated, or click here at to see these and other current items I am selling.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Fishing at Audubon

Here is a view of me as the clouds start to get darker.We spent Friday late afternoon and evening fishing at Lake Audubon. It was a lot of fun. I caught the first bass just moments after dropping the first line in the water. Mr. B caught a walleye. We also caught two more small walleye and a tiny bass but threw them back because they needed to grow more. It was a fun, relaxing afternoon. The breeze and slight cloud cover felt like it was air conditioned outdoors. No overpowering sun to get sunburnt and a cool breeze meant no bugs or mosquitoes. Plus we were catching fish! One couldn't ask for more. We fished as the wind blew and some dark clouds built up even darker.
Mr. B steers the boat toward shore.Then I saw a bolt of lightninng strike further west out over Lake Sakakawea. We fished for just a bit more, then decided we better head for shore when we felt a few drops of rain. The sprinkles of rain were light and occasional. The rain held off long enough for us to head for shore. By this time it was cooling off quite a bit, especially with the random drops of rain. The waves are a bit more aggressive on Lake Audubon than other smaller lakes we usually fish. So rather than drive the boat up onto the trailer myself like I have been doing lately I let Mr. B do it. We were bouncing around on the waves too much to suit me.
Getting the boat on the trailer as we prepare to leave.Here Mr. B reels the boat up the final few inches up into position on the trailer. Even with all our bouncing around he managed to drive the boat up onto the trailer on the first shot.
Lots of minnows left in the bucket.When we go fishing I have the 'pleasure' of hanging onto the minnow bucket between my feet on the floor mat inside the truck. This is to ensure that it doesn't topple over during the ride out to the lake. This view shows we had lots of minnows left over from this fishing trip.
A view of Lake Sakakawea along I-83.North Dakota I-83 crosses the water with Lake Audubon on the east side and Lake Sakakawea on the west side. The water in Lake Sakakawea is the lowest I have ever seen it. When I first moved to North Dakota both sides of the road were very near to full with water coming very close up to the road.
The water in the lake is pretty low.Now with the water so low we can see there are trees and bushes growing on all the sand bars that years ago had been underwater.
We can see lots of sand bars showing above the water.Since I haven't taken a drive through this area for quite some time I was shocked to see the water this low. I know it has been low for a long time. Those trees must have been growing for many years by now to be as large as they are.
Years of low water show the growth of trees and bushes on the sand bars.
All this land used to be under water when we first came to North Dakota.All of this area used to be underwater when I first came to North Dakota and for many years when the kids were little. What a difference time makes on the landscape.
We ate tasty fish and rice for supper.We ended up taking only one walleye and one small mouth bass home from the lake on Friday night. Usually fish are cleaned outside, but by this time it was raining. You will notice I covered the canisters and other things on the counter with a towel so any tail flipping or sloppiness wasn't quite so much to clean up afterward. Our supper of fish and rice turned out to be very tasty.

We were going to go fishing again today, but the weather forecast calls for rain. So far it hasn't rained here.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Sewing Studio

My frazzled doll still needs a face.
I'm not quite as frazzled as this doll looks although I still have lots of work ahead of me to get truly organized. Work on organizing my Sewing Studio is progressing slowly. I seem to be working so slowly because I get sidetracked with other tasks. I did some straightening and organizing of other parts of our home the last few days. Those areas needed it, and I'm glad to have made so much progress elsewhere, but want to continue downstairs now. So this is my task today.

By the way, the doll is from an on-line class I took some time ago from Judi Ward. It is her "Whatever, Whatever" doll. She still needs a face. I have only pinned the head in place for now until I finish the face (in case I mess it up it will be easier to replace). The hair is from one of those scrunchies that was made up of synthetic 'hair' we used to sell at Claire's Boutique years ago when I used to manage one of those stores. I kind of like the 'all over' look of the hair like that. It looks like bed-head when I wake up in the morning. Right now she is just tucked away behind this older Compaq computer watching me as I compute and sew here in my studio. One day I want to set up a better display area for some of my dolls where they can be showcased with more flair. For now she's just a bit shy.

Button Heart has old collectible glass and shell buttons sewn to it.She's holding a stuffed heart filled with sewn-on glass buttons from my old button collection. Years ago I had a sewing machine that stitched out alphabet letters and I sewed up a bunch of fabric strips that said, "I Love Buttons." At that time I made up a lot of these hearts with old buttons and sold them through a craft sale (years ago when the kids were little).

Fabric wrapped around foam core and some beautiful decorative threads in a jar.
I purchased some of those stiff boards to wrap fabric around similar to like it comes on boards at a fabric shop. The purchased fabric storage boards worked nicely, but seemed a bit expensive selling at $1.69 for each piece. It occurred to me to cut some foam core I had sitting around my studio to the same dimensions to use for this purpose. The foam core might not be acid free because foam core is made of paper card stock mounted to a rigid plastic foam core, but they are sturdy and serve the purpose well. I had a few pieces sitting around, then went out and got more at a discount store. I decided to wrap some of the larger cuts of yardage like a mini fabric store. It is easy to unwrap to cut off chunks of fabric when needed, and makes it super easy to store fabric while being able to see it all on the shelf. In typing this up and looking for links I see there is foam core available that is acid free. I'm sure the kind available at my local discount store is not this variety, but I'm still okay with it. They look so nice lined up on the shelf this way!

Some of my fabric stash: folded and stacked as well as wrapped around foam core boards.
I still have quite a bit of fabric folded and stacked on my shelf, but the larger yardages of fabric are easier to work with when they are wrapped around these foam core boards.

In order to wrap the fabric around the boards (which measure 10" x 14") I took the 45" wide yardage that comes already folded in half, folded it in half again along its entire length. This way it fits the 10" x 14" board better for wrapping and is a manageable size to fit the shelf I store it on. This means there is an additional crease the length of the fabric, but I usually press my fabric as I cut and sew my quilts anyway. So far the additional crease has not posed a problem. I would love to have the big, long fabric boards from the fabric store, but do not have the proper space on my shelves to store fabric that way.

A close up of these fabric boards reveals the first in this row is one of the original corrugated plastic boards I purchased (with nice rounded corners). These are entirely made of plastic. The rest of the boards in this row are made of foam core that I cut to size myself. I am completely pleased with my own boards as a slightly less-expensive alternative to the purchased ones. I was able to cut four fabric boards from one large piece of foam core. I considered just using a couple layers of cardboard from salvaged boxes. The cardboard idea would have been cheaper, but it doesn't look as pretty as the white foam core boards, and cardboard is not acid-free either.

A start to a strip quilt.
While sorting through my stuff I came across this box of strips I started sewing for a strip quilt. These were started before all the rage of the jelly roll quilts and all the new patterns and books we currently see available. I really like those jelly rolls that have 2 1/2" fabric pre-cut for quilts. It makes it so much easier to just get right to the sewing process.

More 2 1/2 inch strips cut and ready to go into a quilt.
These are some 2 1/2" fabric strips I currently have sitting on my cutting table. I decided I would cut up all my smaller scraps of fabric into this 2 1/2" jelly roll size strip. I love having pre-cut strips ready to sew when I want to just sit down for some sewing relaxation, some sewing therapy!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Gone Fishing

Small mouth bass weighed in just shy of three pounds.We spent some time out on the lake on Sunday afternoon. It was a productive day of fishing. We snagged four small mouth bass using night crawlers while trolling slowly near the weeds. The water was clear enough today with a very light breeze to allow us visibility far enough to watch the fish take the bait. That was pretty cool being able to see them come up to the worm.

A view of the lake reflecting clear blue of the partly cloudy sky.Mr. B thought the largest one he caught might have qualified for the Whopper Club. Before filleting it he took it to be officially weighed to see how it measured up. This one came in at 2.97 pounds just missing the mark of 3 pounds to make it into the Whopper Club for the small mouth bass category. Oh well, slightly underweight for that, but excellent eating. We had fish, rice and vegetables for supper tonight. Very tasty!

Sparky got the bone while Sugar licks her lips.We went to see one of our sons this weekend for the 4th of July holiday. We grilled steaks on his deck. This bone was left over from that very tasty meal. Knowing the dogs would love to have the leftovers, we brought them a doggie bag. Sparky managed to get the bone in the end while the others scrambled after the smaller chunks of meat. He seems to be enjoying it immensely.

Close-up of Sugar licking her lips.Here's a close up of the previous photo. It shows Sugar licking her lips as she looks on longingly for Sparky to give up that bone. He never did; not until we finally got him to come inside. I think Ginger beat him to it when they were let back out the next time.

Flowering milkweed plantI am usually not an advocate for weeds, but this milkweed plant came up last year and the year before. I allow it to take up space in the garden for the monarch butterflies to feed on when they come through our area. That's the only reason it's still there. I did not remember it flowering last year, but here it is with it's unusual flower head and the buds popping open.

Flowering milkweed plant up closeHere is a close up of the flower to see it better. These seem quite different to me from anything else I have seen before.

This bug watched me water the garden.I don't know what kind of bug this is. At first glance I thought it might be some type of bee, but looking at the photo makes me think it could be something else. Bugs kind of creep me out, but they're still kind of interesting to see up close. I set the camera on the close-up setting and it takes wonderful clear photos very close. It sat on this lilac leaf while I watered the garden. Later by the time I was finished it was gone. As long as it doesn't try to land on me I can handle it. The wings and the shape of it make me think it might be some kind of deer fly - those bite - hard!

A climbing rose starts to take off along the fenceline.These are some of the flowers I like the best in the garden right now. I planted two new rose bushes this year. This small pink rose is alongside the fence. It is a climbing rose that should spread out along the fenceline eventually. I purposely planted it there hoping the scent of roses will help to mask the odor coming from the neighbor's yard as they do not bother to clean up after their dogs. Unfortunately on very warm summer evenings we cannot make use of our patio because of the overwhelming odor from their dogs. We're currently working to train the grapevines, honeysuckle and roses to cover the fence. In time it should block the view and hopefully mask the odor some.

This coral color rose has big, beautiful blossoms.This large blossom rose bush seemed so pretty at the time I got the other rose bush I decided to get it also. I love these colors of pink and coral tints mixed together with a touch of yellow. I'm not that great a gardener so I hope this one survives. I really love to see pretty flowers, but don't know much about gardening. My method is basically just select a hardy variety, plant it, water it, pull weeds once in a while and hope it grows.

My zinnias seem to have weathered being transplanted and are thriving.The zinnias were some of the last ones to be set into their pots. I was such a slowpoke getting them into the dirt I thought I might have killed them. They looked so dry and peaked for a bit. But they seem to have survived so far and more buds are popping open so I think they'll do okay. I think they are a pretty flower, it's almost like seeing mini little yellow flowers within the larger pink flowers the way the yellow comes out of the center of these. They make me smile - flowers within flowers!

These lilies come up every year.These lilies have been in this part of the garden since we moved to this house. They seem to be exceptionally tall this year. I didn't remember the wavy edges of the petals, but maybe I haven't been paying attention well enough. At first I thought they might be deformed from lack of water or lack of care, but perhaps they're supposed to be that way. In any case, they are just starting to bud out and look very tall and regal to me.

A quick look through all these photos shows alot of pink, yellow and green. Those must be my new current favorites. I am seeing them everywhere lately. They make such a good combination of colors. I should probably incorporate them together into a quilt or a wallhanging. I love the pink/yellow/green combo and also the blue/green/teal and red combo as well as the blue/green/teal/dark brown combo.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

New Life at Dakota Zoo

We spent some time this afternoon at the Dakota Zoo here in Bismarck. It has been awhile since we last visited. There have been some changes at the zoo so there were some new things for us to see.

Prairie dogs are always entertaining.We stopped to check out the prairie dog town for awhile. These little guys are always entertaining to watch. There were lots of babies to enjoy. We had the opportunity to hear one of the adults make their warning call for attention. It's fun to hear the animals once in a while along with watching their funny antics.

The prairie dog babies were so little and cute.These babies were really quick. If they wanted to run away they would certainly get away from me.

Prairie dogs are always fun to watch.The enclosure at our zoo has underground areas for the kids to go into to see the prairie dogs a bit closer.

Many types of pheasants make their home at our zoo.We have many different types of pheasants at our zoo. This is one of them. I liked the color combinations of this white bird with black and red features and feathers. One of the pheasant enclosures had white doves as well.

This squirrel found a pleasant lunch in a pheasant cage.This squirrel found a way into one of the pheasant cages to enjoy a pleasant spot of lunch. He seemed quite content to sit in the bowl and dine while the pheasant sunned himself below on the ground.

Two raccoons cooperated for a great photography session.Two raccoons were outside their den enjoying the sun. They seemed completely absorbed in watching some kids near us goofing off. Their interest in the the kid's antics gave me the opportunity to capture some great photos on them against the lovely green of the grass.

The grizzly bear was munching on a leaf.It always seems surprising to me to see how big these grizzly bears really are. They have such huge paws and claws to go along with their big heads and mouths. They would certainly be formidable to come across a grizzly bear in the wild.

The male antelope got his horn stuck in the fence.We came upon this antelope enclosure toward the end of our zoo visit. As we walked up it was evident the male was stuck in the fence. One of the females looked concerned and stayed nearby. We watched for a little while to see if, with all it's pulling, pushing and tugging, the animal might manage to get untangled on its own. It was getting fairly out of breath, seemed to be panicking with calling out and breathing harder as it became more agitated. It became evident he was not going to manage on his own. We had our cell phones and found the phone number of the zoo printed on our zoo map, so we gave them a call. By this time the small horses in the adjoining enclosure came over whinnying and running about when they saw all the commotion.

Zoo workers come to this antelope's aid in freeing it from the fence.Zoo personnel soon drove up in their little golf-cart type vehicle to assist. It didn't take long to free up the antelope, and then all the interest was directed at the baby lying on the ground nearby. We had not seen the baby from our vantage point due to the tall grass by the fence obscuring our view and all our attention being drawn to the male stuck in the fence. It's surprising the baby did not get trampled. Perhaps the concern the female that was standing around was more for the baby and less for the papa with it's horns caught in the fence.

Zoo workers assist in freeing the horns from the fence.The zoo personnel did a quick search through the tall grass in the rest of the enclosure. Apparently these animals usually deliver two babies and they were looking to see if she had the other one hidden somewhere in the tall grass. They concluded the second one had not been born yet. Mama was munching on grass nearby.

A baby was lying near the male's feet, surprisingly it was not injured during the struggle with being entangled in the fence.It wasn't until the male was freed from the fence, that we were able to see this little girl was not trampled. Zoo workers checked on its well being, than tagged her ear and gave her a shot. It was very good at lying still without moving. The zoo workers said it laid so still as an instinct for protection whenever other animals or humans were nearby. They said it thinks others cannot see it if it doesn't move.

Zoo workers attend to the baby and give it an ear tag and and an immunization shot.Once the male antelope was free and out of the way, all the female antelopes came closer to take a look at the baby, as well as the horses in the adjoining pasture and other human onlookers.

Proud papa with his small herd of females.Here's a view of proud papa standing among his small herd of females. The mama was not one of these, she was off by herself, munching on grass when we left.
It will be fun to go back again later this summer to see how the babies are doing.