Saturday, August 01, 2015

Life On The Mighty Missip!

This morning I headed to Dubuque, Iowa to the Upper Mississippi Museum.
 I started up under where it says 'You are here' in Madison.

I went to see the Titanic Artifact Exhibit and it was AMAZING.  They wouldn't let you take any pictures though.  When you get to the entryway, they give you a boarding pass with a name and bio of a passenger on the ship. There are costumed folks that introduce themselves along the way as passengers of the ship.  There are posters, photos, artifacts all the way through and even a real iceburg that you could touch. Then at the end there's a big board of names and you find the name on your boarding pass and see if you survived the sinking.

My name was Edith Evans and I was a first class passenger so I knew I probably made it. I smuggly joshed with folks along the way who said that they were third class passengers; saying that it was 'nice to know them'. When I got to the end, I found that I WENT DOWN WITH THE SHIP. I was one of only 100+ first class passengers that didn't make it. I can't do anything right! I was in good company though. Some of those steerage boys were cute!

Next I went to the 4D movie about James Cameron's journey to the lowest point in the Mariana Trench in a submersible that he designed. It was cool enough that it was 3D but what made it 4D was the fact that when the submersible splashed into the water, there was a spritz of water than fell on you. When the sub landed, your seat thunked. When you soared over a forest, there was a stiff breeze. There were bright lights, mist and fog. I LOVED it.

After that, I roamed the museum which was chock-a-block full of amazing things to see dealing with the animal life and history of the Mississippi river.
This is a red tailed hawk that some bozo shot the wing off. She's beautiful and in a well turned out enclosure with a cool mist for her to dunk into whenever she wanted.

There was another enclosure with two stately bald eagles who had been injured and unable to return to their habitat.

This little guy looks like an eel but is actually a salamander. He had such a cute little face that I wanted to smuggle him home with me! Creatures with stubby, little legs unite!
This is a lousy picture but man were these paddle fish cool! The fish on the left has his mouth wide open filtering the water for food.  What looks like sharp white teeth are actually gill slits. You can look right through him! They look like basking sharks when they feed but they have this long Cyrano-like schnoz on them. I was lucky enough to get there just in time to see them being fed!

There was so much more native wildlife that I didn't get photos of because I was too busy playing with it. I patted a sturgeon and played with craw fish. I 'noodled' a big fake catfish that scared the bejeepers out of me by making a weird noise when I pulled it out of the 'water'. I played with all of the hands on games and videos. I watched the otters and beavers. It's like they put this museum together just for me!

There were other exhibits about water animals that weren't native to the Mississippi.  I loved this green sea turtle. He entertained us with his graceful acrobatics...

Dancing through the water with his little fishy friend...

Other turtles (who-shall-remain-nameless) were less graceful.  This guy has his head stuck between the rocks and the glass.  Keep trying little guy!

And this one is on a hunger strike until she gets a bigger tank.  What a diva!

Probably my favorite exhibit in this part of the museum was this beautiful octopus. He has over 200 suckers!

He can change his colors to match his mood or surroundings and he is the sort who can unscrew jar lids to get at the food inside.  Handsome AND smart. What's not to like?

After seeing the things inside, there were plenty of things to see outside. Beautiful paths and docks led to a huge paddle boat that you could explore and through the surrounding river eddies. 

I was shocked by how many turtles of every conceivable size that there were basking on every available rock and log all along the river.

After I saw everything, I sat down to visit with old friend Mark Twain, whose spirit was very much alive in many parts of the museum. He read me some of 'A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court' while I rested. You are a gentleman and a scholar, Mr. Twain!

Before I left the museum, I was treated to a boat parade on the river. Colorful and fun! Huge boats all dressed up in streamers, banners, fake palm trees etc. floated down the water. There was even one all decked out like Gilligan's Island's 'SS Minnow, Let's hope they make it back from their three hour tour!

Since the Diamond Joe Casino was directly across the street from the museum, I took $20 and enjoyed a little air conditioned gambling. I left with $291 (and I was playing pennies) so it was well worth the stroll across the road!

It was an amazing, Amazing, AMAZING experience and I highly recommend a visit if you're ever in Dubuque!  

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Diva Challenge 228: Nature Tangles

Haven't done one of these in a while. Life has been moving a a gigabillion miles an hour this summer. But when I saw this one, I had to make the time to get 'er done. Cari Sultanik is the guest blogger over on The Diva's site this week and her challenge is to make a tile that was inspired by tangles that represent nature. Since I am obsessed with Tess Carlson Imobersteg's new tangle 'Breakers' the way that I am obsessed with the actual sea, the answer seemed obvious.

I've been doing this design and others on necklaces recently. I took a jewelry making class at Zentangle Expo last month.

 I may need some sort of an intervention, actually.

At any rate, thank you so much for the awesome challenge, Cari! Right in my wheelhouse it was!
Hope the rest of you are having a fabulous summer too! Tangle on!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

All About The Ink

Business first! I haven't done a Diva Challenge for a while and finally took 15 minutes to sit down and do a real basic quicky for this week. Color is not my thing (obviously) but it was fun to give the new Sharpies a workout. The pink and blue grid pattern is one that I came up with recently. It's called 'Camden' and I will do the step-outs and post them soon.

Here is a color one I did a while ago.  I took the photo with the BubbleCam app that I added to my to my phone and it automagically does this to pictures! Pretty cool, no?

It's been all about the ink at our house this spring. I've been totally obsessed with Narwhal and have a big project going on the kitchen table right now. Clash of the Narwhals. It might be fun to make straight tusks, doodle it in pastels and glitter and call it 'Clash of The Unicorns' too! My friend, Klara, would be all over that!

Narwal is an easy pattern, but tangling it isn't easy when I have to get by Satan's Gatekeeper, 'Fang', in order to do it. (Actually he's just yawning here, but he is woefully unhelpful when it comes to drawing! The end of the pen moves just like a pesky mousie!)

Seems like every tangle that I do has Narwal in it somewhere. This is a doodle of a notebook that I did in MY notebook last weekend. I've seen several examples of the idea of this layout on line lately so I decided to try and emulate them. Narwal still showed up!

I created a new chop recently. Zentangle encourages you to use your initials to create a unique signature to put on your work- like a Chinese chop seal. I've discovered the 'M' and 'B' make a groovy kitty cat to sign my work with. Can you find him on this picture?

Anyway, so in between all of the chores, work, trips to parks and the zoo, movies, dinners and everything else there has been art. Because it's all about the ink.  

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Farmin' and Doodling

Sunday afternoon found me at Heartland Farm again. It was good to catch up with my feather and fur babies although a wicked storm was coming in and they were all feeling it and kind of antsy. I snuggled with my buddy, Reggie the gorgeous pantalooned rooster. He's just a bitty thing but when I first started working there he was FIERCE. We couldn't get into his stall to feed him or clean without having to use as a dustpan as a shield or putting a laundry basket over him to keep him from attacking. I have a lot of scars on my legs, arms and face from His Nibs. But somewhere over the years, he turned to corner and decided to give peace a change. Now I pick him up , snuggle him and carry him around. He loves to be talked to and clucks back. If you fondle his comb, his little eyes close. What a sweetie!

(photo courtesy of Sarah Konkle)

The reason I was there was to help load  this little guy...
(photo courtesy of Sarah Konkle)

Tyrion the Nigerian Pygmy Goat, and Ellie the Mini Pig into the Heartland truck and head on over to the Fitchburg Fair for the afternoon to let the fair-goers know about all of the programs that Heartland has to offer. Ellie had other ideas and decided that she needed to spend the rainy afternoon sleeping in with her sisters, Lola and Lucy, (see the '3 Little Pigs below) so Tyrion was the main man! 

(photo courtesy of Sarah Konkle)

For a tiny goat he was surprisingly difficult to catch on the 80 ACRE grounds! He played 'I'll-let-you-catch-me-oh-no-I-won't' with me for 15 minutes, kicking his heels up, bouncing around and leading me on a merry chase! Finally he took pity on me and let me put the leash on him. 

It was a stormy afternoon and he was a little unsure of the rain on the tent roof and the sides flapping in the breeze when we were at the fair, but he was a trooper and enjoyed being adored by all of the kids and a lot of adults too! We were in the Children's Tent where a group who runs kids' sports teams was signing up teams and providing arts and crafts for the kids. We also had a visit from Truly Remarkable Loon (he goes by just 'Loon'), a juggler/entertainer from the Madison area. Very interesting guy! And a fun day despite the rain. 

Saturday we had our semi-annual Wisconsin Zentangle Artists' Coalition Meeting. There weren't as many folks at this meeting, which is to be expected in May-especially around graduation time, but we had a wonderful meeting as usual. There was a demo on stenciling backgrounds which I cleverly avoided. I have a bad case of monkey-see-monkey-do-itis and don't need one more thing in the way of crafty stuff to add to by brimming supplies! The work that my friends were bringing back to our table was A-MAZ-ING though. I did overhear that they made their own stencils out of hot glue but then I stuck my fingers in my ears (LALALALALALAL) so that I couldn't hear how to actually do it, thus avoiding a stop at Wisconsin Craft Market on the way home!

There has been (non-stenciled background) drawing going on though. I seem to be in a bit of a frenzy actually.  It comes and goes. When it goes, I knit socks! Lately, there has been no sock-knitting except when I'm with the Knit Chicks!

This was a tile that I made for the front of a Thank You note for my big boss. He gave me a generous gift card for Administrative Assistant's Day.

I've been geeking out on the Ben Kwok templates too, now that I have shrunken them down and put them in one sketchbook. This is his elephant template.

(When I talk about Ben's templates, this is what they look like-kind of like a coloring book page.)

And this is his zebra. I did a larger version of this one a while ago, but wasn't happy with it. I took a lot more time with the shading this time and like it a lot better. 

I stumbled across a new pattern this weekend that I am IN LOVE with called Narwhal (like the tusked whale). I got to bed WAY too late on Saturday night because I was playing with it.

But there's just so many possibilities!!!

This weekend there is a Zentangling Day at friend-Katy's house that I'm looking forward to. Looks like there will be 20 or so of us there and it's an all day thing with lunch and other shenanigans. I'm sure there will be lots of tips and trick and fun to be had. 

What are YOU doing for the long weekend?

Monday, May 11, 2015

Hiking to the Chapel in Typical Molly Bee Fashion

So after I got done hiking the lake trail, (see post below first), I decided to climb the hill to see a chapel that was built on top in 1857. 

(Dead center is the hill- from the other side of the lake. the chapel is on the tippy top.) 

In typical Molly Bee Fashion, I took the steepest trail, which in retrospect may not have actually been a trail, since coming back down afterward, I was on some stellar ones that had steps, gravel and paving. My path was one that was more like a muddy rut just big enough to put one foot in front of the other and meandered through the pucker brush and brambles.

Those of you who know me know that it is physically impossible for me to accomplish ANY task or activity without taking a divot out of myself somewhere. Hence the picture below. 

I wasn't 20 feet into the woods when I met a broken branch up close and personal-like. BANG! Right in the chin. This is routine and didn't hurt all that much so I just brushed off the bark shrapnel and  kept going.  Also, those of you who know me, know that I am built for comfort, not for speed...and not, apparently,  for steep inclines. By the time I reached the top of the hill, I was sucking wind like I had just climbed Mt. Everest.  The sweatshirt that has been such a good idea when I got to the park two hours earlier, was now a pressure cooker in the warming, humid air so I was sweating profusely. But I made it! I got to the wee chapel!

There was a family there already as I crested the hill and the Mom gasped...'Oh my G*D! Are you alright?!?!?!?'  I looked behind me to see who she was talking to...hmmm, no one there. They were still all gaping so I say, 'Me? Yeah, well, it's just quite a hike is all.' In reality, I'm kind of a little bitter actually. It WAS quite a hike and how dare they stare at  and comment on my disheveled appearance?!

Then the Mom says, 'You're covered in blood!' Seems my little chin scrape hadn't bothered to clot and couldn't hold up to the pressure of my racing heart as I climbed the hill. There was blood all down my chin, neck and sweatshirt and I hadn't even noticed! 

Now see, this is one of those times that two different parties experience the same event in vastly different ways.  So what I saw when I arrived was Mom, Dad, two small boys, and a dog, in front of the charming, tiny, chapel, Our Lady of the Oaks, in the beautiful woods on a gorgeous, spring day. What THEY witnessed when I arrived was a mad, wild-haired, blood-covered woman stumbling out of the bushes into the clearing, huffing, puffing, and looking like she had somehow barely managed to  survive a chainsaw massacre or Zombie apocalypse.

I assured them I was OK, though Mom looked less than convinced. I think if she had had her way, I would have been Med-Flighted off the hill to the nearest Emergency Room. And I'm pretty sure she's already gotten her sons in for therapy first thing this  morning to help them un-see what they saw. But they finally, FINALLY, left me there alone so I could go inside.

This picture and the one above were gleaned from online. My phone/camera died on the back side of the lake so it wasn't even an option. I'm glad whoever took a picture of the open chapel took it in the gloaming so you can see inside. There is enough room for a couple of people to stand side by side and that's it. The alter was covered with fresh lilacs and roses and the smell was absolutely wonderful-so strong you could almost taste it. A stone smith built it in 1857 and down through the years, local families have looked after it. There is no way to get there other than climbing the hill but it's worth it and the views from up there are amazing. I'm so glad I did it, despite the trauma caused TO my face and BY my face! This was one Mother's Day in the park that none of us will forget!

Weekend Update: Indian Lake

I had a day all to myself on Sunday so I decided to go check out Indian Lake County Park in Cross Plains. I've lived here 25 years and it's only a few miles away but I had never been there! I'm so glad I went! What a beautiful spot. There is a 4.5 mile trail around the lake that I walked twice. It was overcast and coolish but it was still a magnificent walk with  the symphony of the birds and the breeze through the new leaves and the bull rushes. Heaven. On. Earth.

When you get there, the first thing you notice is the ruins across the street. It's an old stone building next to an intact brick barn and there's a sign that says that the are is a prairie restoration and wildlife viewing area. The new spring greens made it look straight out of Scotland, no?

I parked the car and started down the wooded path beside the lake. Came across this cool, old stump that was huge and almost as tall as me. I thought that it would be cool to take a picture of myself in it, but I was alone so...

Here's me inside the stump talking a pic up the trail!

This is the big bluff from the backside of the park. The stump is directly across the lake from where I'm standing here. This area was where the ice age glaciers stopped. The lake is a kettle formed from the melting ice. There are bluffs and driftless area as well. Beautiful!

Here, are the signs that tell you about it better than I can!

The park is trying to revitalize the lake by killing off the overabundance of carp so there were lots of dead ones along the shore. The dogs I saw were loving that! I'm guessing a lot of them got baths when they got home. 


The lilacs, fruit trees and early spring flowers were all in bloom. There were Canada Geese with babies, every manner of songbirds, and I even got wicked close to 3 Sand Hill crane. Holy Moley they are big up close! Almost like an emu! Best of all, there were no mosquitoes yet!

This is probably my favorite picture of the whole day....the new spring buds and leaves making a green tunnel over the road. 

After I walked the lake road, I decided to go up the steep bluff to a tiny chapel that was built up there in 1957. That in itself is a story so I'll tell about that in another post!  But overall, I highly recommend  stopping by to visit this park!

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Weird Start To The Day

I'll admit it.  I wore my favorite pair of cranky pants yesterday for no particular reason. All. Day. Long. Actually I wore the entire ensemble-bad-mood shirt, intolerant underwear...the whole shebang, right down to the short-tempered socks and hissy-fit shoes.  Things went wrong all day. I had no sense of humor about it. I got through it by sheer will and determination, (and a healthy dose of irritating other people) and then went home, curled up in the fetal position and watched the Smithsonian Channel until it was time to go to bed. 

So when I got up this morning, I was determined to  wear a different outfit and see where the day took me. If you look for amusement, you will never cease to find it. I went to Hyvee to get breakfast for my department. I picked up a fruit tray and four clam-shell packages of sticky buns and went to check out. I was the only one in line. I put the bags in my little cart to leave and the bag boy says, 'Don't forget this!' and hands me another bag which I add to the others. I get to work and start unloading the grocery bags; fruit tray-check, sticky buns x 4-check, doughnut puffs x 2...huh?...pecan rolls x 1...whatta?

I call HyVee to tell that that apparently it is prime breeding season for their bakery goods and that I arrived at work with three offspring I hadn't paid for. The guy laughed and said that they knew. The lady to whom the extras belonged had  let them know she was missing them. I told him that while I couldn't bring them right back, I would be in at lunch to pay for them and he said that it was their mistake and to enjoy them on Hyvee! Score! My kids were agog when they saw the plethora of sweets on the table when they got in. 

I settled in to work when I heard cooing, turned around and this fancy dancer was on my window sill. I can't work under those conditions! I watched for 5 minutes while he apparently worked out his Magic Mike II audition number.

Work it!


Shake your tail feathers!

Get down!

 Get back up!

All the while cooing his little heart out. I would have cast him. Finally he flew off to look for a ledge that belonged to a lady who actually had dollar bills and I was able to get back to work. 

It's not even 9AM! I wonder what the rest of the day will bring?