Monday, September 26, 2005

Butterfly in the sky...

Er, or on a flower, technically-speaking. Another wonderful little snippet from life here at the Asbach compound...

Sunday, September 25, 2005


Wisconsin is considerably more damp than Montana. Proof: GIANT MUSHROOMS!!! ALL OVER THE YARD!!!*

*Note: My sandals are a women's size 7...which isn't very big. I could go find a ruler & measure, but that'd require going all the way upstairs, so no dice.

And wait--they get even BIGGER!!!

And behold--the monstrosity that is the CONJOINED GIANT MUSHROOM! AHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!

I'm so going to start having nightmares about giant goombas chasing me around the yard, I can see it now...

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

And to think, I almost missed it!

It would have been truly tragic for a pirate fan such as myself to have forgotten that today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day! (Thanks for the reminder, Aaron--err, I mean "Bloody Harry Kidd.")

Red Mary Bonney
(aka Vicious Ned The Ripper)
(aka Seaman Grainne O'Malley the Green)

Sunday, September 18, 2005

More scenic loveliness.

A few pictures I took down by the lake last week, as we were getting my grandma's stuff in order for her rummage sale this weekend.

I took these down by the boathouses in Ashland...I don't know if most people in town even know about them, as they're tucked away in a quiet neighborhood on the east side of the Oredock--the less-touristy side of the dock, by far. But then, it's kind of nice having it to ourselves. :+) I've been going down by the boathouses since I was a baby, because my mother's mom grew up down there. Neat little spot--great views, good swimming, and one of the last secluded-feeling places along the shore.

It's sad to see how the railroad tracks down there have gotten all overgrown--there used to be trains running across here a few times a day, but I guess now those are gone.

Monday, September 12, 2005

The Big Lake, Pt. 2

About two weeks ago, I went up to Duluth/Superior (aka The Twin Ports) to hang out with my buddy Shannon, and to refresh my knowledge of the place where I went to college for four years. (It's weird, the things I remember after being away in MT for four years--navigating was easier than I expected it to be, but I did find myself comparing the local geography to what I've gotten used to out west a lot. Duluth, I think many Montanans would find, is alarmingly hilly, especially by flatlander Midwestern standards. The drive down Central Entrance feels as steep as the drive down McDonald Pass outside of Helena, although not as long since the elevation's so much lower.)

Anyway--before I went back to Ashland, I drove up by Brighton Beach way up on the east side of Duluth to take some pictures before the sun went down. Brighton Beach is one of my favorite places around these parts--a long, rocky beach that's almost never crowded with Minneapolis tourists, with amazing views back toward the city and even more amazing views of "The Big Lake." I don't think people understand exactly how BIG Lake Superior is until they see it from a spot like this--the only thing I can compare it to is standing next to an ocean.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Look--you really can't see the other side. It's that big.

Looking back toward the south, toward the "head of the lakes" (where Lake Superior comes to a sharp tip at its most westernly corner)--you can see some Duluth/Superior landmarks, like the Aerial Lift Bridge, the Blatnik Bridge, a little bit of the Bong Bridge (yes, that's a real name), and scads of ubiquitous seagulls!

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Staring Contest

Cat relations are progressing fairly well. Flannery still hides in my room all day, but now we've gotten to the point where I can leave the door open so she can peek out, and Toivo (my parents' enormous cat) can peek in.

Toivo was adopted from the local animal shelter when he was quite we're not sure if he even remembers that other cats exist. He looks at Flannery like she's from Jupiter or something. Flannery*, on the other hand, pretty much ignores Toivo--until he approaches her food or litterbox, then she walks over by him and stares. The staring is usually enough to send him backing away. Wuss. :+)

*Flannery did raise a litter of kittens and survived on the mean streets of Helena for a while, lest we forget. She's crammed a lot more living into her four years of life than Toivo (they're the same age, coincidently). Hard living! She's like the Johnny Cash of cats! (Or not.) (Incidently, cleaning down at my grandma's house today, I found some old Johnny Cash LPs AND an album of Western standards performed by Clint Eastwood. SCORE!)

Sunday, September 04, 2005

No looters allowed!

Yesterday, as I was enjoying my morning (er, okay, afternoon) shower and about to rinse a bunch of soap out of my hair, I was suddenly the recipient of one of those steaming hot blasts of water that can only come from some inconsiderate bastard flushing a toilet elsewhere in the house. (I think you discover these sorts of perils even faster than most when you grow up in the country, on well water, with two brothers around constantly endeavoring to devise new ways to destroy you.) Only, it didn't surge in & surge kept on going. And going. Soap dripping down my face, contorting myself to avoid the burning touch of death, I got over to the faucet and got things cooled down--only to hear my brother Nikko thundering up the stairs seconds later. "Mary! There's water leaking all over downstairs!"

The scene that awaited me downstairs:

My first thought had been that this had something to do with me taking a shower (aka, my "oh god, I've only been back two weeks and already I've wrecked the house!" mentality). Turns out, some little doohickey on the bottom of the wash tub sink by the washing machine had suddenly, randomly, and unrelatedly busted off the cold water pipe leading up to the faucet. This created a river of ice-cold water flowing down the middle of the laundry room floor (thankfully, to the floor drain--it would've really sucked if that hadn't have been there). And it also led to that hot water surge I'd experienced moments before. (Nikko was off the hook...this time.)

Nikko set up some towel levees around the freezer and the filing cabinet, then set about climbing around underneath the spurting water spigot underneath the sink, trying to stop the leak. I was dispatched to the phone, to try to locate our parental units (no easy task, considering that neither works anywhere near a phone). In the midst of all this...oh god, you think I giggle a lot, you should see what happens when you get two Asbachs in a room together during a crisis.

"Secure the ice cream sandwiches!" "Protect the cat food, at all costs!" "Brandish the family BB gun to scare away the looters!" "Evacuate the cats! Where are the buses, dammit?" "This is our tsunami!"

(Bear in mind Nikko and I are sensitive types, and would never make fun of what's happening to all those poor folks down in MS/LA. It just seemed kind of timely and ironic that we'd experience a flood on the same day as all that was unfolding.)

Anyway--ultimately, we discovered how to turn off the house's water, which temporarily solved the problem. Later that day, under parental supervision, we got the pipe & faucet fixed, and once again all was well in the House of Asbach. We celebrated by deep-frying smelt on the deck and drinking Bud Light. Truly, the dinner of champions.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

The Big Lake, Pt. 1

On Saturday, I took a quick drive over to Washburn, the next town down the road from Ashland. Washburn's a nice little town--a bit smaller than Ashland, and on the opposite side of Chequamegon Bay, but with their own Dairy Queen (SCORE!). Looking east across the water, you can see many of the major Ashlandian landmarks along the coast--the Oredock, the Chequamegon Hotel, the watertower up by the high school, the power plant...

And here's that view I was talking about.

Here's one of the docks along the lakefront...there're also the remains of a collapsed dock out past the end of this one, where you see the trees up there.

Nothing like a "Use at your own risk!" sign to build up the tourists' confidence...

But, once you get out there (even if you have an irrational fear of deep water like I do), you can see that the water there isn't all that deep in that part of the bay. (Chequamegon Bay can be a pretty wild place weather-wise, but nowhere near as crazy as it gets out past the islands on "the big lake.")

Behold, some dock pilings from the dock that used to stand here.

Looking back toward shore from the end of the dock...I'm realizing how much I missed clouds living in Montana. We didn't really get as many out there, and there are some days where a blue sky just looks incomplete without them. (Also, maybe it isn't quite so deadly flat here as I felt when I first arrived--there's a bit of slope to the landscape, which you can see along the horizon here.)