The Ditchboat Gets a Name and Onto The Water.

The internet is a glorious thing. Besides cat videos, one thing you can locate there are various boat naming ceremonies. Well, we took one, and we named her. Meet Fiskeørn, the Osprey.

champagne naming



We’ve had her on the two biggest lakes in Madison, with great success, and the weekend before the wedding, Matt took her on Lake Michigan for a trial salmon fishing run, and a trip to the canal bars in Milwaukee. As the video says, with just the two of us in the boat, we clock about 37mph according to the GPS. When Matt took out my dad, brother-in-law, and one of his Marine buddies, they only hit about 32. She floats and she runs. We have a salmon boat.

Improvements for next year include a new carburetor (we can’t go quite slow enough to really troll- the carburetor’s jets are worn, and it won’t idle that low),  better planer boards, and a stenciled nameplate. Also, a kit so that we can reverse with the big engine, a small kicker motor, and a new interrupter switch. Possibly a new alternator.

If I could catch time in a bottle…

I’d slow things down and get more sleep. Fear not, though. Life is just bananas right now. This Summer, I decided to knock out the last gen ed credits that didn’t transfer to UW with me. I’m doing them at the local tech college, which is just a few blocks behind my house, and cheaper to boot. Plus, I took on extra responsibilities at work. And back in May, thinking that I was thinking ahead like a smart person, I took on a second job, planning on my hours to be cut in late June and through July like they were the last two years. Said cut in hours is also why I thought I could manage two Summer courses. So, this is what my weeks have looked like lately:

Mon- work, 8 am -2pm, Go out to the dog trainer’s after work. Maybe hit the grocery store. Clean up the house after that and cook a late dinner. Do algebra homework until about 11pm. Sleep.

Tues- Get up at 6:30. Class from 8:30am-10:30 or so. Do algebra homework on my laptop the whole time because it’s basic astronomy, and I watched Cosmos when it was on last summer, also the professor doesn’t give a shit. Get out of class, and, depending on the length of my algebra homework, stay home, clean a little, and do homework, or go to the gym. 40 or fewer problems: gym. 40-80 problems, homework. After either, clean up, makeup, head to work at 2pm. Work until everyone leaves, anywhere from 10pm-1am. Sleep.

Wed- repeat.

Thurs- repeat.

Friday- Actually sleep in until 8:30 or so, because by this time, I’m wiped from getting about 6 hours every other night. Do a little homework, go to the gym. Clean up the house, clean up myself. Head to work. Sometimes at 2pm, sometimes at noon. Work until 10pm at the earliest. Usually closer to 11. Sleep.

Saturday- sleep in again. Then prepare to head to job #2- mobile catered bartending. Drive to where ever it is. Tend bar until about midnight. Fall into bed.

Sunday- sleep in again, but only until about 9. Get up. Clean, have breakfast. Do algebra homework for the next week. Get maybe 2 of the assignments done. Spend 8+ hours doing it anyway.

So that’s a snapshot of why I haven’t posted. The most I’ve done in the last 6 weeks is futz with the Ditch Boat (which we named and will be a separate post), and pick blackberries (wine again).  I clocked out last night with 46.89 hours. I’ve been logging over time (time and a half of $5.50 is how much?) every pay period since mid-June. I have two more weeks of this.

The big news is that our honeymoon is coming up. Talk about burying the lede. Matt and I are going to South Africa in just over 2 weeks. We plan to take lots of video, and lots of pictures. We’re hunting in the East Cape, and then shark fishing.  Posting should return to something resembling normal after that. At any rate, I’ll have weeks’ worth of photo and video dumps to set up.

Rubber Backing and Carpet Glue

We had a wedding to go to on Saturday, so we didn’t do a whole bunch besides more boatwork. Not that fishing would have been productive- it’s been hovering near 90F the last week or so, but with humidity well over 70%, you could swim about as easily as you could walk. However, I’m not complaining. I was desperately trying to remember this weather last winter, to give myself hope and a reason to keep going. At least my feet are warm and sweaty, and I can feel my extremities burning in the sun. Continue reading

Hunting Season Draws Inevitably Nearer

I wanted to put together a bit of news while we’re in a lull just before hunting season. Early goose and teal both open on the 1st of September, and this year is Wisconsin’s first teal season. You used to just have to wait until regular duck season. We’re planning on canoeing and kayaking up to the very northern end of Cherokee marsh for the first time in almost two years, as that’s the only place we’ve seen them. I’ve asked a coworker if we can goose hunt in her family’s corn fields, since they already have people bowhunting. She’s getting back to me on that.

Matt went and bought all his permits at once this weekend. The roll of tags was about 3 1/2 feet long.



Wisconsin really changed around deer tags this year. They cut the number of tags dramatically. We knew the zone up north by his grandfather’s land was going to be buck only this year and probably next, but they are also only handing out two tags, and they’re now these “Farmland Zones”. This year is also the first for crossbow hunting. He has a tag for that, and plans to get a crossbow in the next few weeks.

I haven’t bought my tags yet, but I plan on getting my waterfowl stamps and archery deer. I was invited back down to Illinois to hunt, so I hope to make a 3 day weekend some time in October once their season starts, and Matt hopes to come with this time.

He also has his bear tag. His hunt is coming up fast- it’s the second week of September, the 10th to the 17th. I hadn’t originally planned on going, since my classes will be on by then. But I also need to work that week, and all the rest of September as much as possible.

The reason for my needing to work is an exciting one. Come mid-January, I’m going to Germany for ten weeks. Back in May, I applied for an internship with the State Department. I found out late Sunday night (Monday morning in Germany) that I got one of the open positions, after interviewing with Leipzig, Düsseldorf, and twice with the Embassy in Berlin (Public Affairs Section and the Economic Section). The pool of German speakers was fairly small. I’m going to be assigned to the US Consulate Leipzig, pending receiving my security clearance.

This means I’ll miss almost all of ice fishing season, and the first week or two of Spring turkey. In fact, I may be heading out to turkey hunting within days of getting back stateside. The internship is done April 15th, and as of now, I’m planning on sticking around at least 2 or 3 days to get my stuff packed. Last time I went to Germany, everything was too rushed, and I left stuff behind, never to be seen again. There’s a lot of planning to be done. I’m waiting to buy my airline ticket until my clearance comes through, just in case. I need to find a place to stay, and I won’t be able to do that until about month before I go. And then I have to pack.

I’ve been looking in to fishing and hunting both in Germany, and both look tricky. I plan to do my homework  little more closely now that I know for sure where I’m going. I think it would be an amazing experience to see how the outdoors gets done in a foreign country, and to do it not as a tourist so much as a visitor with a decent knowledge of the culture and language. To do that, though, it seems I will need to both make some connections and very likely travel to either Austria or Switzerland (I do not speak Schwyzerdütsch). It’s a good thing Europe has a good train system. At the very least, I hope to travel at least a little while I’m there, and do some hiking, hopefully in the Alps. We will see how it pans out, I suppose.

Fox Lake In Summer

Sunday afternoon, we hooked up the boat, dumped our gear into the truck, and headed on over to Fox Lake to do some fishing.

Orange cataran was cooking along.

Orange catamaran was cooking along.

The yellow house that marks the spot

The yellow house that marks the spot

At least we weren't skunked.

At least we weren’t skunked.

I’ll cut to the chase- it sucked. Last time at Fox Lake we were under basically opposite conditions. It was windy this day as a front rolled in, making us drift even with both anchors down. We forgot that this lake seems to have an early bite. People leaving as we put in had fish, and last time we caught them around 3:30 or 4pm. On the way down, our front trolling motor just…fell off.  And by the end we were both pretty chilly- in August. Naturally, as I write this, it’s almost 90F. Some nibbles, and possibly some pike or walleyes that got off the hook, but only the one bluegill at about 8 inches. I’m guessing there will be a bit of a fishing lull until the water cools off prior to turn over.



Sighting in and Target Practice.

I drove down to Illinois this past weekend to see my newest family member. My sister had a little girl two weeks ago. I hung around with her for a while and distracted my nephew so sister could do human things like nap and shower. But after a while, everyone was tired  and I decided to clear out. I took the dog to my mom’s house, and after a quick hike to the river to let him swim and catch crawfish, I got my new sight zeroed in and did some practice shooting.



PicMonkey Collage


Target at about 15 yards.

Target at about 15 yards.

Shot a little high at 15, but my grouping is excellent. Adjusted the sight after this.

Shot a little high at 15, but my grouping is excellent. Adjusted the sight after this.


I can remember shooting every day after school for hours when I was a kid. With a longbow, and no let off point. My arm, in spite of being stronger, doesn’t have the endurance anymore. So I decided that since our neighbors that had kids moved out, and since my bow is dialed in pretty well (no wild arrows flying into their yard, field point or no), I’m going to set my target up in the backyard to shoot at when I have time. Our yard is not huge by any means, but practicing at 20 yards is much better than nothing. I might look a little bananas standing on the roof of the garage to practice elevated shooting, but I do need the practice.

Soft Water Fishing on Winnebago, Pounding the Drums

Last weekend, Matt had a family to-do up near Appleton. Since we’ve barely made it out to do anything this summer, we decided to pack up the fishing gear and take the boat for some fishing on Winnebago while we were up there. The last time we were there was for sturgeon spearing back in February. 

Anyway, that was how we hoped it would work. We towed the boat up to his brother’s place and stayed the night, planning to rise fairly early and get out for the last half of the morning bite. Figuring that ‘Bago is the the single largest lake in the state, we assumed we could just head to a launch and snag some bait on the way. My friends, it did not work this way in practice.

Our route took us from a little ways west of Greenville in the upper left corner of that map southeast to Neenah. Apparently, not one person in that corridor thought to open a bait shop. The first bait store our GPS took us to had been closed for what looked like several years. Our next try was ten miles away in Appleton, and the GPS location of it was off by a solid two miles. Once we stopped and got real directions to find it, it didn’t open until 9am on a Sunday (seriously, what bait shop in this state doesn’t open at dawn or close to it?) All the next closest shops were a good 15 miles away in Oshkosh or Winneconne, or even further away down in Fond du Lac. We were driving around for a good 45 minutes to an hour, trying to find anything we could throw on our hooks. Eventually, we found a gas station selling worms, and grumbling, settled for that.

Once we finally launched from the very, very nice launch at Doty park (next to a Coast Guard auxillary post), we headed out to open water and got to fishing.

By the time we got out there, it was well past 8am, and well past the morning bite. Our only luck came in the form of 6 small sheepshead, caught in quick succession the first 30 minutes we were out. I’ve eaten them before, and they taste fine- just very bony. But these were small. We threw them back. I had one small rock bass on towards the end, but they don’t get much over 6 inches.

The only other positive of this trip, besides the family to-do, was a trip to Scheel’s, a place I find to be better than both Gander Mountain and Cabela’s combined. We both got new bow sights out of the deal. I plan to zero mine in this weekend.

Naming sights and other hunting accessories seems to follow the same conventions as naming action movie sequels.

Naming sights and other hunting accessories seems to follow the same conventions as naming action movie sequels.

Trail Cameras, June and July 2014

Last Sunday, Matt and I headed on over to check our trail cameras. We’ll probably get one more good check on them before hunting season starts. We got some images, though there aren’t as many good ones as the last time we checked them.

So, we’re still only seeing two different bucks. We didn’t get a good image of their antlers, but a month ago they looked pretty good. Hopefully we can get out soon and check out some new areas to hunt- I have some serious reservations about hunting this area again, even with how much time we’ve dumped into it (almost three years).

One positive is that on the way home, we found a new spot to duck hunt in. One that won’t require a mud motor to access, and which will hopefully be less populated than Mud Lake. Wisconsin opened an early teal season this year, so we hope to make use of the new spot.

We’re also at the month-and-a-half mark until Matt can go up for bear season.

Devil’s Lake Hike and Kayak.

Last Thursday, I had a day off on my hands. I hadn’t been fishing in a little while, so I got my kayak on top of the car with the aid of the two remaining foam blocks from the kit we purchased for the canoe last year and some pool noodles. I drove up to Devil’s Lake to do some hiking and then some fishing.

Normally, we hike up the cliff face, along the top of the cliff, and then down and back to the parking area along some old train tracks. This time, I wanted to hike the woodlands on the back side of the cliff. However, I got turned around and ended up on the “Upland Trail”, headed out on a long loop away from where my car and kayak were. Once I figured out how far away I was (a trail spur led to a cliff edge), I ended up doing a little bit of trail running back to the split where I took a wrong turn. All in all, I hiked about 6.5 miles, much of it uphill, and the one mile I ran to get back to the trail split. Then I got in my kayak and paddled around the lake. I saw plenty of bass in the gin clear water, but the only bite I had bit through my fishing line. Neither of my light poles has a leader on it, and I think it was probably a walleye or a pike. By the time I was ready to go home, my feet, legs, and shoulders were all pretty tired.

Wild Dessert: Blackberry Crumb Bars

After putting together wine and brandy, I used what was left of my blackberries to make a pan of crumb bars. Like with most of my recipes, I adapt an existing recipe for grocery store, domesticated whatever it is. I used smittenkitchen’s recipe for blueberry crumb bars (though at some point I’d love to go wild blueberry picking), and just swapped the fruit.

So, like most of the best desserts, these things are full of buttery goodness. I followed the recipe exactly:

1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup cold unsalted butter (2 sticks or 8 ounces)
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
Zest and juice of one lemon
4 cups fresh blueberries
1/2 cup white sugar
4 teaspoons cornstarch

And then once assembled, into a 375F pre-heated oven.

Mixing the dry ingredients with the butter.

Mixing the dry ingredients with the butter.

The texture you're shooting for.

The texture you’re shooting for.

Bottom crust pressed into the pan

Bottom crust pressed into the pan

Filling mix- berries sugar, cornstarch.

Filling mix- berries sugar, cornstarch.



Crumbs on top.

Crumbs on top.

A nice golden brown about about 45 minutes in the oven.

A nice golden brown after about 45 minutes in the oven.


The end result.

The end result.

I’ve already eaten about half the pan. I’d also go a further step and say I like them a bit better the second day. I also went out yesterday evening, and gathered another 3 pounds of blackberries. If I can scrounge up another pound or two from somewhere else (I’ve gotten just about all there were ripe out at sunny slope), I might start a second gallon of wine.