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Showing posts from 2019

Gobbler's Knob Marker - On The Square In Woodstock, Illinois

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Here's another landmark related to the film Groundhog Day (you know the one...Directed by Harold Ramis and starring Bill Murray, right?) around Woodstock, Illinois posted to the blog.  
The first one was this photo of me and little Lizzie at "Ned's Corner" in Woodstock.  Then I posted this letter that was sent to the citizens of Woodstock and hung at the Woodstock Theater - part of the Classic Cinemas chain - from Director Harold Ramis expressing his gratitude to the town during the filming of the movie.  
Today, is this small ground-level marker that reads:  "Gobbler's Knob in the Film Groundhog Day - 1992".  It is maybe 12 inches (almost) square mounted on a small concrete base.  It is located in the main park-like green in the middle of the Woodstock Square.  
There's - evidently- a Groundhog Day walking tour that takes place on/around Groundhog Day in Woodstock where you can visit a series of spots - most of which are marked with similar plaque…

Fall Seeding: Kentucky Blue Grass - September 2019

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I have always tried to put down grass seed in the Spring.  And have had mixed results.  But, the experts tell you - if you're willing to listen - that the best time to seed your lawn is in the Fall.  They say 60-75 days before the first hard frost in your zone is the ideal time to sow seed in bare spots and to overseed the rest of your lawn.  
Why?  Because the soil temperatures are high (70 degrees or so) and the air temperatures are moderate (not too hot, so it won't dry things out). 
This is the first season that I've tried this and I'll tell you:  ummmm...it worked?!?!  
According to this post, our first frost in Zone 5b is right around October 16th.  That means that 45-60 days ahead of that is between the middle and end of August.  That's when I put seed down.  
I used a bag of PURE Kentucky Blue Grass seed.  No other types of grass - and no weeds in the bag per the certification on the bag.  KBG is very slow germinating and my experience this Spring took abo…

Back Stoop Rhododendrons Early Fall Bud Setting - 2019

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On the right is the southern Rhododendron and on the right in the image collage above is the northern stoop one.  They look different, don't they?  The one on the left is larger, taller, has less broned/curled edges.  And it also kinda looks a little brighter green, doesn't it?

They looked different last Fall, too, when I applied Wilt-Pruf to one of them as a test.  And again this Spring when they came out of Winter.  What was most interesting to me is that NEITHER of these flowered this year.  Not a single flower.  Last Summer they flowered beautiful pink flowers.  See this post for the flowers, but also note how tiny they were last year.  They're really filled in that space more this year.

They both set buds in the Fall, but just like our Flowering Cherry Tree and Saucer Magnolia in the front, we ended up with no flower show.

The hard, cold Winter - including a long Polar Vortex - is likely to blame for those buds not blooming this year.

These Rhododendrons are right bac…

Vanilla Strawberry Hydrangeas Turning - 2019

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This is the third season with a set of Vanilla Strawberry Hydrangeas that are planted outside of our front porch facing due East.  Here is the post showing what the plants looked like in 2017 - the first season.  And here's the post showing the pink color emerging in 2018.  This year the plants are (obviously) the largest, most mature that they have been and some of the blooms are quite large.  Not Limelight or Incrediball large, but nice sized and cone-shaped.  
The past few early Springs, I have pruned these bushes and trimmed off some of the old growth to try to shape the plant a bit.  And, now I'm wondering if - for shape purposes - that's not the best move to make?  Reason I say that is that each of these hydrangeas have a TON of blooms down near the ground and like three or four huge, tall shoots each with a flower on top.   But, they almost look like a plant with a fat base and a couple of limbs climbing out of a vase.    
I'm going to plan to NOT prune them th…

When A Man Plants A Tree...

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On Monday, I shared a Washington Irving quote about planting Oak Trees.  From the preamble of that same book about Wisconsin trees comes this John Muir quote.  Both of them moved me a bit and reinforced why I've been so fascinated with trees and getting a variety of them added to our landscape over the past two seasons.

I haven't posted about John Muir here on the blog (a search that returns no results says that's a true statement), but anybody who watch like maybe more than four minutes of Ken Burns "The National Parks: America's Best Idea" series knows who John Muir was and what his impact on our country really is today.  He's someone who's been called a "Secular Saint" for the work he did to not just preserve vast expanses of wilderness but also advocate for our communal understanding of the value that nature brings to all of us as a source of renewal, understanding and connection.

There's a lot here that resonates with me - from fav…

A Look At Valley View Pool - Vintage Frankfort, Illinois

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I came across this photo of Valley View Pool - later named the Frankfort Township Pool through a friend who found it Via Frankfort Deleted on Facebook here.  That photo above is NOT mine, it came from Frankfort Deleted - which is run, I think by Pam Biesen, a mother of one of my grammar school classmates(!!) - who I presume got it from somewhere else.

Based on some of the cars, this photo was taken in the Summer of 1959. Or maybe the Summer of 1960.  The reason that I'm saying that is that I showed the image to my Dad and he was able to identify *some* of the cars.  He spied: a 1957 Ford Fairlane 500 Sunliner (the yellow one on the far right), a 1959 Ford Galaxie 500 (the red one second from the right), a 1958 Chrysler, a 1955 Buick and a 1950 Plymouth (this one is easy because there's one car - the grey one - that doesn't look like the rest of the cars, right?).

I'm saying Summer of 1959 or 1960.  Why?  Because the *newest* car shown in the photo is the 1959 Ford Gal…

He Who Plants An Oak Looks Forward To Future Ages, And Plants For Posterity.

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Right at the end of August, I posted a few photos showing some tree damage that occurred up in Twin Lakes Wisconsin including a felled giant, massive, hundreds of years old Oak tree.  In poking around trying to find information about Oaks in Wisconsin, I found this DNR publication called "Every Root An Anchor: Wisconsin's Famous and Historic Trees".  I haven't gotten through much of the book just yet, but I was struck by a few quotes that they included in the preamble.  The first of which is this quote from Washington Irving in Forest Trees

The idea of someone planting oak trees as a person who is looking out into the future - not for themselves - but for others.  Their children.  Future generations.  That's kinda interesting.

I've planted plenty of trees on our property in Downers Grove these past few years, but NONE of them have been Oak trees.

But you know what?  We're the benefactors of someone who lived into this Washington Irving quote.  We have…

Toto Washlet (Toilet) - Number One OOH Ad At Narita Airport

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I've posted a few times about Japanese bathrooms here on the blog.  Actually, I've posted about toilets in general a few times - which, I suppose is weird.  But, not that weird?

The oldest toilet-related post was when I was first exposed to Japanese-style toilets at Google in 2011.  That same year, I marveled at a toilet that Menards was selling that claimed it could flush a full bucket of golf balls.  Yeah...full bucket!

Then just this year, I shared the functionality of the toilet I came across in Tokyo that played bird chirping noises to sort-of, umm, muffle or suppress or combat whatever noises are being made.  And most recently, I posted a photo of a child-restraint made by Toto that is in the corner of a public restroom that you can strap your child in while you go about doing your own business.  I've been so moved by my experiences with Totos that I had one installed in our house in Downers Grove.

Today, I'm continuing the celebration of toilets and Japanese to…

Feeding Our Lawn With Mag-I-Cal Plus - September 2019

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Starting this Spring and continuing this Summer, I've chronicled my experiences with our lawn and the process, materials and thinking that have gone into it.  This is the first time that I've spent anything more than a passing thought about the turf, the soil and how to best tend to it as the seasons change.


Started in Spring with a Wild Onion removal - digging them out.Used a calculator to time my application of pre-emergent Crabgrass preventer (without food!)Started to use an organic fertilizer - Milorganite on the yard - instead of synthetics. Got serious about my weed spraying with a blue pattern indicator.Then I tested my soil and got a baseline on the front and back.  I added some Ironite (2x) this Summer to keep the lawn green.Cut the front yard higher than I've ever cut in the past.  Earlier this Summer, I bought and spread a big bag of granular Humic Acid.And most recently, I put down a second application of pelletized lime to make the backyard a little less hospi…

3.5" to 4" Kentucky Bluegrass Lawn Height - End of Summer 2019

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I have been keeping the grass in front longer than I normally have in the past.  I should say...the *I* and *normally*  here aren't quite fair, as this is the first year that I've been cutting my own front yard after having a service do it the past few seasons.  I wasn't that satisfied with how they were cutting it and after doing a bit of research into the whole turf-building process, I've learned quite a bit and have changed some things.
This post is about the length.  You can see that it is somewhere between 3.5" and 4" tall with some blades reaching even higher than that.  But, those blades aren't the normal - and haven't been cut.  Between the low suction on the Ego Self-Propelled mower and having the wheels 'bend' the blades in some cases, there are - on occasion - some blades that are higher than others.  
This is Kentucky Bluegrass and I've been mowing it on the second highest setting on the mower.  A month ago, I posted some phot…

Nightmare Before Christmas Pumpkins - Menards Halloween 2019: Jack, Sally and Oogie Boogie

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Menards has seemingly gone BIG on Tim Burton's Nightmare before Christmas movie with Jack Skellington, Sally, Oogie Boogie and even Zero items across their line.  From inflatables to stuffed plush, the licensing deal that they've struck with Disney appears to be their signature character line this Fall. 

In the photo above, you see three lighted pumpkins:  Sally, Jack Skellington and Oogie Boogie all have a built-in LED light that lights up their interiors.  They're cute and I could see the Jack or Oogie Boogie one on the porch.  The Sally one is teal colored and I wonder if it might become part of the trend/used as an identifier of an allergy-free house that the whole movement that the 'Teal Pumpkin Project' has delivered in most neighborhoods.  Could be a nice shortcut for some folks?

Below is another look at a different set of these same Nightmare Before Christmas characters, but instead of 12" to 16" versions, these are tiny ones - like the size of a…

Wasteland Pub Spookytown - Lemax Menards 2019

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Day three of the run of SpookyTown buildings from Menards this season is here.  First there was the Symphony of Screams bandshell.  Then the tabletop Halloween Gateway Countdown yesterday.  Today, is this Wasteland Pub building.  Just like those two, the Wasteland Pub is new for 2019 and part of the Menards Spookytown setup.


As I mentioned the past few days, Mantleburg isn't in a position to want or need any new annexations this season, so the Wasteland Pub is destined for other municipalities.  I posted back in 2016 about another Lemax Pub - the Big Ben Pub from Caddington Village.  A village like Mantleburg that is in distress can probably use a pub to have the community gather.  Alas, the Mayor hasn't been seen in months and there's nobody around to make those decisions.  Too bad, right?

Lemax SpookyTown Gateway Halloween Countdown - 2019 Menards

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As I mentioned in yesterday's post about the haunted bandshell from Lemax's Spookytown, Menards has a bunch of new (to me, at least) items in the Halloween Village.  Again....to be clear:  there's been a revolution and the Mayor of Mantleburg has been thrown out and the locals have opted to be annexed by other Villages.  Mostly by the Village of Craigslist.

This isn't quite a building and isn't quite a figure - in the Lemax world.  It is technically classified as a 'Tabletop Piece" in the Lemax site architecture.   And, I think that's justified.  Menards had this Gateway Countdown featured *inside* of their SpookyTown setup - you can see it below:


So, it can make sense inside of a Halloween Village setup. But, I think it could also make sense on it's own. The little bin holds the extra numbers on the right and you have to go in and switch them out everyday.  Or the kids have to go in and switch them out everyday.   Which, in our house means that i…

Lemax Symphony Of Screams SpookyTown - 2019 Menards

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We recently caught up with the Halloween stuff that Menards has out for the season.  A trip to Menards during the late Summer/early Fall wouldn't be complete without a look at the Lemax SpookyTown buildings that they have set up.  I've done this for the past few years starting in 2016.  In 2017, I started to post some animated images of the Spookytown buildings that moved including this Ghostly Manor building.  And last year, I posted a few of the Lemax Spookytown buildings, too.

I snapped a few photos of the most interesting structures in Spookytown and will post them in the next few days.  Today, let's start with the "Symphony of Screams" - which is new this year.   It has light, sound and movement that you can see below:


The full product page can be found here on the Lemax site

This is a cute bandshell.  The problem?  The fine folks at Mantleburg aren't annexing any property right now and in fact have shed some of the additions via Craigslist.

Frans Fontaine Hornbeam Hedge - Second Full Season - September 2019

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After close to a year of thinking and planning for the installation of a row of Frans Fontaine European Columnar Hornbeam trees along our north property line, we had eight of them installed in late May of 2018.   Now, seventeen months later, I wanted to document in the garden diary where the trees are in their growth and maturation.

A little bit more than a year ago, I posted some similar photos to document their growth.  Go check them out here.  They were vibrant and green.  But, very tapered and the gaps between the trees were large at between two and three feet in spacing.

I posted again as they were entering dormancy in November and began to turn yellow last Fall.   The trees and limbs were mostly the same, tapered, tight selves. 

Then again a few weeks later in late November when one of the trees dropped all of its leaves.  These photos give you a sense for the gaps in between these young trees last Fall.

By April of this year, the buds that had been set the previous Fall were …

Tree Heights Inventory - Summer 2019

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Last June of 2018, I posted photos and details that documented the heights of the existing trees in our inventory around the yard.  In September, I posted two more tree heights to the inventory.  This is the annual check-in with those same trees.

As a reminder, here's the heights that I documented in Summer 2018:
2018 Tree Heights Saucer Magnolia:  81"North Flowering Pear: 112"Frans Fontaine Hornbeam:  113"Red Maple Sun Valley:  96"Crimson King Maple:  112"South Flowering Pear:  80"Flowering Cherry:  112"Dawn Redwood:  63"Bald Cypress:  51"   2019 Tree Heights Saucer Magnolia:  104".  (+23").  22% growthNorth Flowering Pear: 182" (+70").  39% growth.Frans Fontaine Hornbeam:  162" (+49")Red Maple Sun Valley:  108"  (+12")Crimson King Maple:  112" (+0").  0% growth.South Flowering Pear:  115" (+35").  31% growth.Flowering Cherry:  129" (+17").  15% growth.Dawn Redwood:  …

Storm Damage - Twin Lakes, Wisconsin (Microburst)

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This mighty Oak tree came down in what is being billed as a "Microburst" storm up in Twin Lakes, Wisconsin last month.  We arrived the day *after* the storm.  Or...I suppose, the day *of* the storm since it hit at like 12:30 am.  The folks at the Kenosha News covered the aftermath and concurred with a meteorologist who billed the event a microburst.

From their piece:
A small area of Twin Lakes was hit by high winds that took down trees and left many residents without power early Thursday.  ...Aidan Kuroski, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Sullivan, said that a “microburst” storm with straight line winds estimated at 70 to 80 mph hit the area at about 12:30 a.m.

“It was a very concentrated area,” Kuroski said. “Basically from Elkhorn and Walworth County down to Twin Lakes.”  Kuroski said the storm developed so quickly the National Weather Service did not have time to issue a storm warning. The storm produced some damage around the neighborhood, but none …

Stay Back From The Sunset Cliffs - San Diego

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My personality is such that I wasn't able to fully enjoy the Sunset Cliffs as much as other people when we were *close* to the Cliffs.  From a hundred yards back?  I was totally fine, didn't have to grab ahold of which kid(s) were close to me for fear that they'd run and leap over the edges.  And, I enjoyed them.  Saw a few sunsets from the front deck there, too.  It is no Hotel Del Coronado, but...as LD would say:


Walt Disney World Opens - Life Magazine October 1971

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We picked up this copy of Life Magazine that features the opening day of Walt Disney World in Florida on the cover.  Being Disney people and vintage/Antique Mall people, this seemed like a good fit for us.  There's a lot of little things to note on the cover including the front row of characters (See Pooh Bear's costume?)

The inside headline is all about the east coast move:  "Disney Moves East" with Mickey the Mouse leading the marching band down MainStreet USA.



The biggest spread of photos is below and is from this pretty unique angle starting with the Rivers of America and Frontierland in the foreground and you can see the Seven Seas Lagoon in the background.  A few things to note - Frontierland really just had a cul-de-sac and didn't go over to where Splash Mountain and Big Thunder Mountain are today.  And the show buildings where Peter Pan and Philharmagic are located ARE HUGE.  Likely due to the perspective, but still.



Filing this under both [Vintage Disne…

Our Flowering Tobacco 'Jasmine' (Nicotiana alata) - 2019

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For Mother's Day this year, Nat's Mom gave her a small Flowering Tobacco Jasmine plant that came in a little plastic capsule.  There was very little instructions with it other than that it was potentially poisonous (see ASPCA page on it being poisonous to dogs here!).  Nat's Mom has given us a few Disneyland Roses (first one in 2017 and two more in 2018) and a couple of hydrangeas, but this is the first annual that she's gifted us.

I wasn't sure where to put it, so I ended up sticking it on the side of our house on the southside - near where I put the 2018 Disneyland roses and was planning to do a Belgian Fence.  I didn't pay it much attention and didn't even water it consciously.  And look at it above:  beautifully tall and graceful. 

But, this isn't just a looker.  Nope.  It does a couple of things that are interesting.  First...it transforms from day to evening.  The listing on Select Seeds calls it a "night bloomer".  Then it has a distin…