Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Day 22 (7/28/09)
I went south today toward Belgium. I think it was the first time all year but I wanted to see how the coneflower field was doing at Jay road. Perhaps I knew it was going to be kind of depressing so I avoided it. There were very few coneflowers this year, maybe in another week. The most disheartening thing was when I got to where the old “Peace Memorial” once stood I now found only garbage. I picked up the garbage and started collecting rocks to rebuild it but people came along so I decided to wait. Matt, we have a new objective. Also, I have never quite understood the, Belgium side trail maintenance crew’s need to spray the trail with weed killer. It seems so anti-recreational somehow. It may be my imagination but there seems to be a lingering smell of chemicals that can’t be good to be breathing in, unlike mowing which actually leaves a pleasant freshly cut hay smell. There were some pleasant surprises however. Many of my friend Grant’s "plunker guys" were still on the poles, part of an art project he had done last summer. Almost all, if not all, are gone from the stretch of trail going towards Oostburg. Also, there were actually a couple of cairns up, obviously done by others. I will have to try to focus a little more attention in that direction.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

What do you do that for?

Day 21 (7/23/09)
O.K. I’ll bite, what do you do that for? This was a question posed by a man about my age, 50 something, who was rollerblading back and forth past our building site. We had dropped our stealth mode for the day because we had some friends, Matt and Tabitha, out building with us. He then asked if it was some sort of religious thing. Is rollerblading back and forth on the trail a religious thing? I imagine that anything you do on a repetitive, consistent bases could be construed as religious as in, “I do it religiously”. In that sense I guess our building is religious. That being said, it is not religious in their definition of the word and I don’t understand why that is the first place their mind always goes to. I suppose it is easier to condemn something that seems to go against our religious beliefs then just admit that we just don’t understand it. I find it somewhat amusing that we don’t question somebody running willy-nilly to and fro with no objective, after all that is how many of us spend our lives. If, on the other hand somebody is building something with no apparent reason it must be sinister. Matt is no stranger to this type of art. Matt was one of my former students and has recently graduated with a BFA, where his main concentration was construction of art from recycled items. For more on Matt’s art you can go to his blog site: http://mthwfarnsworth.blogspot.com/ . It was fun getting together again with Matt and Tab who I haven’t seen much of in the last five years and Eileen had never met. Once we started building though it was like no time had past and we were old friends. It is funny how a common interest does that. At any rate it was cool getting out there and building with new people. I was starting to feel a little stagnant.


Day 20 (7/21/09)
It was another one of those days that remind me why I love Wisconsin. The temperature was perfect for a ride and build. I spent a lot of time photographing flowers. There were several new blossoms today. As much as I would like to, I can’t photograph them all but I will include what I can. The first wild flower I came across appears to be a Spotted Knapweed (Centaurea Maculosa) a fairly noxious but pretty little flower of the Asteraceae or sunflower family. The second wildflower was equally as noxious, maybe even more so, and equally attractive. It was a Purple loosestrife. It turns out it chokes out wetland ecosystems and eventually kills them (beautiful but deadly). Like so many invasive plants, it was brought over from Eurasia for people’s flower gardens. No mention of noxious plants would be complete with out the mention of Queen Ann’s lace. I have always loved the lyrical quality of it, complete with the stories that go along with it (http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/1459/). I even did an art piece filled with Queen Anne’s lace imbedded in it. Oh yeh, I did do some building. One of the highlights was stopping at “Tripod Build” and finding the ceramic pot of a past student incorporated into the design.

Monday, July 20, 2009

St. John's Wort

Day 19 (7/14/09)
I feel bad that I haven’t spent more time building on the bike trail, but with all of the work on the tracks it is hard to get things done. I also have been trying to whittle down my to-do list at home. Things should start settling down now so maybe I will get more done. I am also hoping to get out with some other people and do some building. Today while I was out I saw my first build, done by others, in a long time. It got me thinking that I wanted to do a page of other people’s works that they have sent me. Unlike mine, most are in exotic, interesting places. One is from a friend’s (she wanted to stay anonymous) visit to Niagara Falls, two are from Maddie, Mica and Ava on their family vacation to the Boundary Waters and the rest are from Matt. For more of Matt’s art you can go to http://mthwfarnsworth.blogspot.com/. I hope people continue building and sending, I love them. Included are some of my favorites.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Birdsfoot Trefoil

Day 18 (7/10/09)
It was an interesting day on the bike trail. I hadn’t gone out last night like I had planned so I went out early this morning to rebuild “Boat Works”. I saw a white bus parked down by the road and figured it was the field workers I had seen out there yesterday. It appeared to be vacant so I went to work. Pretty soon I saw somebody watching out the window and thought about fleeing. At that point I was already discovered and figured time was of essence for rebuilding, so I continued. After I was done and was photographing it I saw the man get out of the bus and start walking toward me. At that point he had put on his hard hat and I realized he was with the railroad. He walked over and to my surprise asked if I wanted him to take a picture of me with the sculpture. We then chatted about what I was doing and he seemed genuinely interested. Then we talked a little about the process they went through to change the ties. He said that a crew would be coming through later to pick up the old ties and that they sorted them and sold the better ones for landscaping. He figured also, depending on who was doing the pickup, they might spare the ones that are already in sculptures. Maybe he will put in a good word for me. It never hurts to have someone in your corner. Today’s wild flower variety is the “birdsfoot trefoil”, a legume which is used in Missouri as a supplement to grass for cattle. Unlike other legumes it does not promote bloating, a good thing to know if you are going to eat it.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Evening Primrose

Day 17 (7/9/09)
I may have to wait a couple of days before I do much more building. I have a feeling that it is going to continue to be pretty busy out on the trail until Union Pacific is done with their work. The good news is that they seem to be leaving all of the existing sculptures alone. I couldn’t believe that they didn’t even touch the “Church Build”. The guy actually must have placed ties around it without knocking it over. The one exception is “Boat Works” which seems to be stacked and marked for moving but it had been knocked down and I had never had a chance to rebuilding it. I am thinking about sneaking out tonight and rebuilding it and maybe they will leave it alone. I spent most of the time on the trail today talking to an old friend Hubie (sorry if I spelled that wrong). There is little to do with indigenous, Wisconsin wildlife, plant or animal, which he doesn’t know about. So, as we rode I picked his brain for what information I could get. Again, it is these encounters which keep me going to the trails. I wish I didn’t have a to-do list as long as my arm.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Day 16 (7/7/09)
It was another beautiful day on the trail. Sadly, there is a lot of activity going on. Union Pacific is tearing up old ties and replacing them. I am hoping they leave me building materials but I have my doubts. I also noticed that somebody had striped the wires off the power lines on the southern end of the trail. I am sure that at least some of my building will become victims of the construction. I know I had vowed to quit rebuilding but I decided that I would make exceptions for some my favorites. As a result, I spent most of the day rebuilding. I also need to start going south but it seems like there is so much to do in the north that I never get a chance, maybe tomorrow. Right now it is hard to find rocks. The plants are so tall and thick. There are some blue flowers blooming and if I am right I think they are chicory. It is hard to photograph flowers along the trail. There are so many of them and you always wonder if you got the best bunch.

Monday, July 6, 2009


Day 15 (7/6/09)
Riding the bike trail is always an adventure and it is always fun to meet somebody new on the trail for a chat. Today I met an old gentleman who went by the moniker of “Stormy”. Stormy said that he had been riding the trail since it was a street car. He reminisced a little about how nice it used to be to ride the lines to Sheboygan. He had been out picking strawberries and had two pails full of beauties on the bike rack of what I always used to call an “English Racer”, the standard three speed bicycle with fenders and baskets. Unfortunately our conversation was cut short when he got to his turn off but he seemed in quite a hurry to get home and do something with his berries. I was able to start a build today. I am sure I will want to do more but at least I got the general structure started. I was actually surprised to get as far as I did. I definitely have to get out more.