NOTE: IN ORDER TO BETTER SEE PHOTOS IN THEIR FULL 1600 PX. RESOLUTION, VIEW THEM IN THE ALBUM FORMAT BY CLICKING ON THE LEAD PHOTO OR ANY PHOTO IN THE POST. This is especially true for landscape shots. Thanks to Mark for the idea of adding this alert so the photos can be seen at their best!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Stoughton's Post Office Mural

Unlike the other 3 post office murals I've seen in Wisconsin, Stoughton's mural had a U.S. Mail theme instead of a local theme.  It is titled "Air Mail Service" and was painted in 1940.

It was painted by Edmund Lewandowski, a leader in the movement known as Precisionism. He taught at the Layton School of Art in Milwaukee and eventually was head administrator. He also has a mural in the Caledonia post office that I've yet to see.  In addition to these fine works in Wisconsin he painted some for Minnesota and Illinois, but I'm not sure if they're still around.

In addition to this mural his other publicly visible works included postage stamps and covers for Fortune magazine.


He also completed a gigantic mosaic mural in Milwaukee.  Hmmm...might have to track that one down. If you'd like to see other New Deal WPA art, click on the link at the bottom of this post.  Linking up to Mural Monday, check out the murals there too.  Wisconsin Post Office Mural #5 next week!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Fall Color Coming Soon to a Park Near You!

It's starting.  Fall color, just a hint here and there, and before you know it we'll be in the thick of it.  It's my favorite time of year and it goes way too fast so I'm savoring the beginnings of it today.

That's my neighbor Margie above, looking for "fishies" in the old quarry just minutes from our subdivision.  See the spot of red in the trees on the far left?  And the grasses and flowers are starting to yellow and fade as well.

The milkweed was doing a lot of things, some were still green, some almost purple, and a couple had even dried out all the way and released the first seeds.

I can never remember the name of that roadside bush (above left) that gets those red pods.  As you can see its leaves are turning red now too.  It's usually the first red we see around here.  But, some plants are still throwing out beautiful crisp blooms as if it's summertime.

The grasshoppers have been out in full force lately, everywhere I go they are springing off to either side of the trail as I walk by.  This guy was just hanging out on a milkweed plant and tolerated me getting in for a close-up.

I actually went out to our county park to try out my new Gorillapod.  I didn't find a tree branch to wrap it around, but I set it up on the ground for some footsie-shots.  Worth every penny.  I bought it on Amazon, a few weeks ago for less than they have it advertised now, free shipping, easy returns.  I know there are those who will scream SHOP LOCAL, but Amazon employs people too, right?  Besides, our local camera store has a nasty tendency to not accept returned items once they've been "used".  How are you supposed to know whether it's what you need unless you try it?  I paid $51 but now it's shop around is the lesson there.  I got the one with the ball head and bubble level for my SLR.  But, I digress.  Here are my promised footsie-shots.

Not a bad collection of photos for what was essentially a backyard shoot at high noon, if I do say so myself.  Thank goodness for polarized lenses and exposure adjusting software!

Special thanks today to Linda for recommending the Gorillapod!  Very lightweight, affordable and versatile, it will serve me well hiking in the future.  Now I regret buying the big expensive may have a future spotlight on Ebay if the Gorillapod ends up being as versatile as I think.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Also Seen in Stoughton

Bill gave me a few other tips on my way out of the Stoughton Opera House, including the one about the Carnegie library on the next corner.  The town library at the turn of the century was located in the basement of City Hall, but the town was eventually convinced that a larger separate library would eventually be needed.  They applied for a Carnegie grant and received $13,000, the remaining $8,000 to completely finish and furnish the library was raised through local fundraising efforts.

They've built an addition onto the original library, and you can see what was once the outer wall on the inside.  The renovation and expansion ran $1,450,000, talk about inflation!

This sweet marble bust from the late 1800's entitled "A Young Swiss Girl" also graces the lobby area.

When the library was first built one of the most popular sections in the library was the large collection of Norwegian prose and poetry and I noticed that they still have a cultural collection. In the library there are works by local artists and display cases housing folk costumes used by the Stoughton Norwegian Dancers.  I wish I would've had my polarized lens and my SLR instead of my SX50 to better capture the intricate embroidery without the reflections on the glass.

Of course there is a lot to see in the downtown district, including architecture and art.  I'll save the mural for another day!

Thinking about visiting Stoughton?  Check out the Nordic Nook for shopping for Scandinavian items or plan to visit during the Syttende Mai festival.  I've added the festival to my "Things to Do in Wisconsin" list, I have 7 years left to attend before we sell it all and leave!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Lucky Girl in Stoughton

You know my theory that you just have to go inside and see what you might find, right?  Well, I hit pay dirt on Tuesday when I stopped in the town of Stoughton, Wisconsin.  I rolled into town to check out the post office mural (don't worry, I'll show it on Monday) on my way to Madison and caught a glimpse of this building.  I was parked just a block away, so I headed up the street.  That clock tower called to me.

The building is City Hall, but it also houses the Stoughton Opera House.  Built in 1901, it also held the library.  In 1982 this building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.  I saw a marquee for the Opera House outside, but ducked in to see the interior of City Hall.  Nothing of note, except a man in the hallway at the bottom of a staircase who asked me if I was there to see the Opera House.  My reply was, Well, I guess I am now!

The color when you walk in is just overwhelming.  Everything glowed.  I could picture the box and balcony seats filled with community members out for an evening of entertainment.  Everything from operas and concerts to fiddlers' contests and political rallies were held here.

I had made the offhand comment to Bill on my way up the stairs that I was a fan of architecture as well as paintings and other items of historical interest.  Bill said he had something special to show me.

The original asbestos fire curtain had been restored, including the mechanisms for raising and lowering it.  Lucky girl?  I sure think so.

By the 1950's the Opera House was extensively damaged by water damage from leaky roofs and it was shut down.  However, in the 1980's it was decided that it was worth saving the building instead of erecting a new City Hall.  Public funds were used to restore that section, but donations were used to restore the clock tower and the Opera House.  At first occupancy was still limited due to fire escape route concerns, but that was eventually addressed and by 1992 central heating and air conditioning were even added.

As the money kept coming in more work was done, including the incredible replastering and painting job of the wall.  Special techniques were used to determine the original designs under the layers of paint, and gold leaf fleur de lis adorn the walls.  Over the years almost $600,000 in restoration work has been done, every penny well spent in my opinion.

The wood stage is made from Southern Yellow Pine, and the orchestra pit was enclosed using the wood salvaged from another nearby building that was being thrown out.  Can you imagine throwing away such beautiful wood?  The seats are all original oak as well, and they look as if they were just installed a few years ago.  They don't make chairs that stand the test of time like that anymore, that's for sure.  The Opera House could seat 600 people when it opened.

High school class plays and commencements were held here for over fifty years, and playful graffiti adorns the backstage area.  The loft pictured above used to be the ladies dressing room. At some point space was discovered under the stage floor area and the dressing rooms are down there at this time.

The picture above shows one of the panels that used to hold the ticket stubs and had a slot for every seat in the house.  Now electrical components hide behind the panels, but I think it's great that they kept these items in the ticket booth when doing the restoration.

Up in the balcony, everything comes together.  One of the chandeliers originally was wired with both gas and electric because at the time of construction it was unsure whether electric was going to "catch on".  It's those kind of details that make history come alive for me.  Imagine a time when it was thought electric might be a fad!  The chandelier above the balcony is a replica.

As if all that wasn't cool enough, check out the original embossed tin ceiling!  Gorgeous.

Bill, the man upon whom sainthood would be placed if it were up to me, then asked me if I wanted to see the clock tower.  Um, yes please!  Bill himself is a little leery of heights so he let me ascend the ladder through the trap door by myself.  

The clock tower was removed in 1961 but in the 1980's it also was renovated.  I was standing in the area where the bell and the windows are located, which is the original stone, everything above that is part of the renovation and is new.  I especially liked the jaunty red color.

Special thanks to Bill, one of the best tour guides I've ever had anywhere, for letting me into his world for a half hour. I might have felt like the lucky girl, but he's lucky as well to be able to spend time in such a special place.  Any inaccuracies in this post are my fault and not his.

 The Stoughton Opera House is open for performances, just follow their link here.  I'm adding it to my list of things to do myself!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Fungi Finds

Here in southern Wisconsin you don't usually see much fungal variety.  Even the ones I'm showing you today from my 2 night campout in Kettle Moraine aren't very exciting.  The first shot is actually not a fungus but monotropa uniflora, also called ghost plant or Indian pipe.  I love its delicate stalks.

I was pretty excited when I saw it, the only other glimpse I've had was in Newfoundland of all places.  Here's my blurry shot from that sighting.  Couldn't get it to focus, can't remember why.  Operator error, for sure!  I was having the same problem with the above photo until I switched to full auto mode.  I hate shooting in full auto, but the above shot did turn out very nice.

The ghost plant is mycotrophic, which means it gets part of its nutrient supply from a symbiotic association with fungi, therefore I'm going ahead and including it here with its fungal friends.  Check out the highlighted link, more mycotrophic flowers with cool names like sugarstick!

The above tree had an impressive display of a common fungal variety in our area. I loved the lavender tinge to the edges so I got a close-up below.

Just down the loop from my campsite sat this proliferation of orangeness on a tree stump.  Only orange I've seen so far this fall!

You're probably thinking, wow! What diversity!  Remember these were taken in four different areas of the forest covering at least 10 miles of paved roadside or trailside.  I looked hard for these guys, most fungi I happened to see were of the humdrum variety.

The above is an example of that humdrum variety, but located in an interesting spot!  It was rather large as well, bigger than my fist.

I saw a total of three of these white and red mushrooms, this one was the least damaged.  Some Boy Scouts were passing me on the Ice Age Trail and I told them to keep their eyes peeled for it up ahead.  They were moving very fast and were probably seeing absolutely nothing on their hike.  What a shame.

After they went by me so fast I decided to leave a little nature still life by the side of the trail to delight some kid passing by in the future.  I hope someone sees my work and appreciates the colorful grouping.  This mushroom was about the size of my thumb! It was the only one like it I saw it all day.  As you can see, a few leaves have changed and fallen off trees, but fall color hasn't really even begun yet, those are just the ones too eager to wait.  I'm hoping my next hike in Kettle Moraine will have some color to keep me entertained.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Oconomowoc Post Office Mural

Ta-da! Another New Deal era Wisconsin post office mural found this past weekend!

I really do get unreasonably excited by these darn murals. This 5' x 14' oil on canvas is titled "Winter Sports" and was painted in 1938 by Edward Morton.  It was taken off the wall in the 1970's and stored in the basement.  In 2003 it was sent out for extensive restoration and was rededicated that same year.

As I've mentioned before, most of the post office murals were not actually WPA art but were executed by artists working for The Section of Fine Arts of the Treasury Department.  Artists competed for the jobs, and guidelines and themes were set forth.  As I'm sure you've noted already, local scenes were the usual topic.  Current tragic economic scenes, however, were to be avoided and historical events were favored.  If you want to see the other ones I've found, click on the New Deal art label at the bottom of this post.  Other states have some of these murals as well in public places and I'm adding them to my travel list.  As a matter of fact, the Community Center in Newport, Tennessee is just a 40 minute drive down the Cosby Hwy from our Gatlinburg campground next month.  Perhaps?

Oconomowoc is home to Olympia Ski Resort & Spa, not that we have much snow these past few years in southern Wisconsin.  Linking up to Mural Monday.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Hill Work

So much to talk about this morning!  I shot the above picture on the Ice Age Trail on Friday using a well placed bench, little did I know that the Gorillapod I ordered was sitting at home waiting.  Linda had recommended it to me a long time ago when I mentioned my difficulty getting shots of myself while alone, but I forgot about it until Kim buzzed along and jogged my memory by commenting on that old post.  She suggested the Stick Pic, which I might look into as well.  That attaches to the end of your hiking pole..except I don't own a hiking pole yet!  Maybe soon, I'm thinking it's probably time.

Moraine Ridge Trail

On Friday morning I pulled into the Ottawa Trails parking lot to check it out.  It's a horse trail system, and the lot was full on Saturday but empty on Friday.  Due to the heavy overnight rain it was a bit messier than I was prepared to deal with, but the intersecting Moraine Ridge Trail was high and dry and free of horse dung.

Bees drying out
 Most of the ground in this area is very sandy, so even with heavy rain the hiking is still good.  I walked about 2.5 miles before getting back in my car and driving to Oconomowoc to do a few things while keeping an eye on the weather.

By mid afternoon it was obvious the rain was done for the day even though it was still overcast, so I walked fifteen minutes from my campsite to the Ice Age Trail.  The trail crosses the Scuppernong Trails and I struck off in a different direction that what I've gone in the past.

At a few spots what was either the remains of an old wall or some other boundary line crossed the trail, much like what I've seen in the Smokies.  Like how I snuck mentioning the Smokies in?  It was inevitable.

Is this my good side?

Or is this my good side?
 The trail went down, down, down, which was exactly what I wanted to prepare for those hikes in the mountains in October.

This way down...and down...and down

What goes down eventually has to come back up though, right?  I was plenty tired.  I did a total of 5 miles, half of it hill work on Friday.  On Saturday morning I got up and did 5 miles total on that same stretch of trail, ALL hill work.  Today the bottom of my feet are sore and the tendons around my knees are throbbing mildly, but not too bad for 10 miles in two days. Tomorrow I'll show you one of the murals I found in Oconomowoc, and Tuesday I have some trailside fungi to share.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Both Lady Colors

I came home from a 2 night solo camping trip at Kettle Moraine today.  After unloading all my gear and making a sandwich I decided to check my email.  My daughter Katrina had sent me an email with a clip from the Ellen Show.

It's okay, click the link, I'll wait right here until you come back.


I've noticed this trend in advertising myself, just yesterday in fact, in the pharmacy aisle.  What product have they revamped for women, you ask?  Laxatives.  Yep, you can now buy a pink laxative "for women".

Curious, I read the label.  What makes a laxative "for women"?  They added a smidge of calcium.  So, if you're not getting enough calcium in your diet, take the laxative for women.  Really?  The pink color is supposedly an indication that it is "comfort coated" because women take laxatives more than men.  I didn't realize that suffering from constipation more than men also meant our stomachs couldn't handle the strength of a standard laxative.  Good thing the makers of Dulcolax are looking out for us ladies.  And, as Ellen Degeneres pointed out with the pens, there is a price difference for those little pink pills.  The CVS web site has the pink ones for $9.79 while the regular Dulcolax is only $7.49.  I guess they think women are stupid enough to buy anything pink without reading the label.  Personally, I'll take the generic equivalent for almost half the price.

To be fair, I've seen a lot of new hair products on the market "for men" so they don't feel girly when they get all dolled up for a night out impressing the ladies. Hair spray is hair spray, isn't it?

The pink and purple craze for women idiocy is a big problem for me in the shoe department.  They don't make running shoes in white anymore, which for the most part is a good thing because the dirt doesn't show, but try to find a pair that isn't shocking pink or purple!  I've been left with buying variations or neon orange and blue.




I just had to find an excuse to post pics of my shoes since Sharon at The Odd Essay broached the topic of all the wildly colored shoes on the market.  By the way, Sharon, that post was a lot of fun to read!

Sigh.  Feminist rant over, I guess.  For today anyway.  One last pink thought (must be pink if it comes from a woman, right?) before I go.  I know I've mentioned this before, but it still bugs me that whenever I mention camping alone most women react as if I'm in some mortal danger doing so.  Even a doctor who goes horseback riding alone told me she'd be afraid out there on the trails or in a tent by herself.  In Wisconsin.  In a state park.  You'd think someone with all that schooling would have a little more sense.  I'm more afraid of being attacked by a weirdo in the Walmart parking lot than in the state park.  My daughter has a lot to say on the statistical probability of being raped by the lunatic hiding in the bushes, such as 2/3 of  assaults are committed by someone known by the victim.  I'm safer in my tent than in my neighborhood according to that statistic!

Site 266 at Pinewoods, my home the last 2 nights 

So, to sum up, don't fall for gender targeting in advertising, buy shoes that fit good and feel good instead of ones that are pretty, and get outside and don't live in fear of the bogeyman!