Saturday, August 6, 2022

5x5 for August 2022

There's a swap on Swapbot that I signed up for called 5x5 in which there's a list of five things and you list five items for each one. Here are my answers:

5 websites you visit every week 

On a daily basis, I go to Outlook (to check and send emails) and Facebook. Other websites that I go to, but not on a daily basis are: 

Ancestry - I have been doing more with filling in my family tree recently. My sister and I have been working together to go through items that belonged to my parents who died in 2012 and 2015. We are in a much better frame of mind now to go through photographs and other memorabilia, scan the items, and then upload them onto each ancestor's record. 

My dad in his younger years.

One thing that we also have been doing is searching for information about how each relative died since Ancestry lists their age at their time of passing, but not the cause. My sister and I have ordered some death certificates for relatives (grandparents, great-grandparents, great-great-grandparents) and are seeing a pattern in terms of health conditions. We also are seeing a lot of ancestors who died in their 50s and 60s which is rather surprising. 

My mom in her younger years. 

My favorite part, though, is definitely uploading photos and finding newspaper articles about ancestors. Reading and looking at their Life Stories paints a much better - more personal - view of who our ancestors were and what their lives looked like.

iNaturalist - I opened a free account in March 2020 and have uploaded photos of animals, insects, flowers, trees, and shrubs. So far, I have uploaded 1,371 observations which reflect 466 species. The most frequently seen things I've seen are: white-tailed deer (23 observations), goldfinches (19 observations), gray squirrels and black-capped chickadees (18 observations each), and ruby-throated hummingbirds, house wrens, and robins (15 observations each). 

Black-capped chickadee at the oriole feeder.

The most frequently seen amphibian I've seen is the American toad (8 observations) and reptile is the painted turtle (7 observations).

For plants, the most common thing I've seen is milkweed (11 observations) and red-berried elder (7 observations).

Pinterest - When I was homeschooling my daughters, I would use Pinterest to gather ideas for different subjects. There were so many creative ideas for hands-on projects that we've done over the years. I also use the website for ideas for projects for county fairs, holidays, birthdays, and recipes. 

Currently, I have over 13,400 pins. That's a lot. Will I be able to do them all? Not in my lifetime. What would be good to do is to go back on them and delete what I won't be doing and then start making more of an effort to try some of the pins - like this window star I made after seeing this pin.

5 people from history you'd invite to a tea party 

My first answer would be five ancestors - my dad, mom, and grandparents on both sides of my family. That would actually be six, though. However, I don't think that's what the question means. 

From a historical standpoint, I would like to invite five people from different times, beliefs, and faiths to a tea party. My five would be:

- Jesus - because of his commitment to his beliefs and wanting to share them with others, how he inspired others to lead better lives, and how his legacy lives on through the lives of people throughout the world.

- Martin Luther King, Jr. - Although he died at only 39 years old in 1968, he had a tremendous impact on the Civil Rights Movement.

- Mother Teresa of Calcutta - She was a Catholic nun who dedicated her life for caring for the destitute and dying in the slums of Calcutta (now known as Kolkata). She received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979 and, after her death, was canonized as St. Teresa.

- St. Francis of Assisi - He is the patron saint for ecologists because of his boundless love for animals and nature. There's a quote that is attributed to him: "Start by doing what's necessary, then do what's possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible."

- Betty White - Although she was a comedian, she defended civil right, condemned racism and homophobia, advocated for marriage equality, and advocated for animal rights and welfare. 

5 topics you'd like to know more about 

- Dog allergies and natural ways to address them. One of our dogs has allergies and the vet said that sometimes it can be an allergy to chicken. We've removed chicken from his diet since May along with giving him two allergy shots - one in April and the other in May - and he seems to be doing so much better. I want to see what other things we can do to further improve his skin (he has dandruff which can be a reflection of allergies) and coat. 

Endangered trees. When I was at Kew Gardens in England I came across a sign by a tree that was endangered. I had no idea that trees could be endangered. Animals...yes...but trees? I need to read more about what types of trees are at risk of being endangered in the United States and/or extinct.

- Utopian communities that existed in the United States. There were many Utopian communities set up in the U.S. in the 1800s. Only a couple survived into the early 1900s...with the Amana Colonies being the only one to make it to 1932. There were more Utopian communities started in the 1900s. Interestingly, there are a handful that still exist today.

- Photography and taking more "professional" photos. Ideally, I would upgrade my camera to one that has better clarity when printing photos. Currently, I have a Nikon D3400 which has 24 megapixels. However, I would like a camera that has more than 24. We'll see...with better quality comes a higher price. 

- Service as a spiritual practice. I ordered a book from the library called "Deliberate acts of kindness: service as spiritual practice" by Meredith Gould. I found the book on Pinterest and it piqued my interest. The book is basically a handbook for volunteers that explores the significance of service as an expression of spirituality, and provides advice on discovering the type of work that best suits you.

5 things you'd like people to know about you 

- I was raised by two parents who loved me unconditionally and provided a childhood filled with simple - yet memorable and meaningful - pleasures. It was the little things that truly created a childhood that I can look back upon with good memories. 

My brother, me, and my sister either in 1974 or 1975.
We had just moved into our new home that my parents 
worked with an architect to design.
Things were financially tight back then, 
yet I remember being so happy on Christmas Day. 
As I look back, there weren't a lot of presents, 
yet my parents made it feel like there were. 
It was these traditions that we'd return to and 
treasure with each passing year. 

- I have two daughters who were born in China and adopted by my husband and me in 2001 and 2003. They truly have blessed my life more than they will ever know. 

My parents, daughters, and me in Grand Marais, Minnesota.
September 8, 2010.

- I love animals - especially dogs - and having them be a part of our family. I can't imagine my life without having dogs. We had two corgis when I was growing up. 

Here's my brother with our first corgi. 
He was such a good dog.

Since 1990, as an adult, I've always had at least one dog. We have four dogs now which I like. I've never had that many at one time, but it is fun to see them all outside in the backyard or sitting nicely together waiting for a treat. 

Olivia and Sophia with Aspen, Cooper, Danny, and Scooby.

- Service is a HUGE part of my life and values. Growing up I volunteered and am thankful to my parents for integrating that into my life. When I began homeschooling Sophia and Olivia I made sure that service and volunteering was a significant part of their education. Since 2017, I have been involved with the local Lions Club and coordinate the majority of their service events.

One of the events I thought of during the pandemic was a 
drive-through breakfast with the Easter Bunny. 
It was so well-received that in 2022 we did a 
breakfast with the Easter Bunny again, 
but this time inside the community center. 

- I am an off-the-scale introvert. Consistently, whenever I have taken personality tests, I am to the far side of being an introvert. I am the complete opposite of people who are extroverted who get their energy from others. I find that being around others and having to talk (especially small talk) literally drains my energy. After any gathering, I need to spend time alone to re-energize myself and feel like I can interact with others again.

5 simple joys others might overlook

- A fire in the woodstove on a cold winter day.

Homeschooling in front of the woodstove.
Olivia was 5 and Sophia was 7.
January 19, 2008.

- A sunset or sunrise.

A sunset on November 22, 2021.

- A meal together as a family.

Mother's Day 2021.

- Watching butterflies, bees, hummingbirds, and hummingbird moths visit flowers in the yard. 

Bumblebee on monarda.

Hummingbird moth flying towards monarda.
Look at the curled up proboscis. 

- Fresh produce from the garden - either eaten raw or steamed. 

Beans and carrots - just picked and cooked. Yum!

Friday, August 5, 2022

My Favorite Photos - July 2022

Below are some of my favorite photos from July 2022. 

The month went by so quickly. What's not pictured below is taking Sophia to and from volunteering at a summer school program for children who are behind in school three days a week as well as to work 5-6 days a week; taking Olivia to work multiple days per week; getting ready for entering my 46 projects in Open Class at the county fair; and teaching the girls how to drive. 

And then there's the mundane...the things that either happen daily or weekly: weeding the 16 flower gardens; taking care of the pets; making meals; and cleaning the house. 

It was full month...just not as exciting as May and June with Olivia's high school graduation, graduation trip to London and Edinburgh, and then her high school graduation party. 

Olivia received several scholarships for college during July. Here she's with some other high school graduates receiving a scholarship from the Scandia-Marine Lions. 

One of Olivia's 4-H projects was making recipes for her Global Connections project. She's making a spiced chicken on the grill. 

This was another grilled dinner that Olivia made for her Global Connections project. It was a recipe from New Zealand for grilled lamb.

Olivia's 19 1/2 year old birthday was on July 18th. We gave her some gifts to celebrate it...not as many as in past years, though, because of all the expenses for her graduation, graduation trip, and graduation party. She wasn't expecting anything...which made receiving the gifts a special surprise.

This year, the county fair was back to normal after the past two years being affected by COVID. Olivia entered 14 projects this year. Less than in past years, but she was juggling PSEO courses this year which took a lot of her time. She did really well at the fair with her projects.

Afterwards, just like we do each year, we went out for dinner to Dairy Queen. Sophia joined us, even though she is too old now for 4-H.

When she got home, Aspen was excited to see all of Olivia's ribbons. Danny was somewhat interested in the background.


At church, the pianist had COVID and the organist was busy, so Sophia was asked on Friday afternoon if she could play the piano for two services on Sunday. She took a look at the songs and practiced Friday and Saturday nights. She did a great job on such short notice.

On the Sunday of the county fair, we picked up projects. Olivia got top blue awards for two of her photographs. She was happy with that.

She got quite a few grand champion, reserve champion, and top blue awards this year!

I entered this window star in another county fair. I got a blue ribbon (1st prize) on it.


Made this bouquet of flowers for my step-father-in-law who is on hospice. The flowers are from our gardens and pastures - a combination of hybrid and native flowers.


This is another arrangement I made using yellow and orange flowers.


These are flowers that are growing by our back door. The holder is from my grandma on my mom's side. It is meant to hold flowers with short stems.


This is the backyard butterfly garden. It looks like a bunch of weeds, but it's not. It's actually a lot of native plants (though there are hybrid ones in there too). The native ones look more "messy" and some are very tall - over 7 feet tall for some plants!


This is lavender monarda and purple phlox. The bees, butterflies, and hummingbird clearwings (aka sphinx moths) love these flowers!


The prairie onions are blooming. A variety of bees visit these flowers.


This is butterfly weed. I like the vibrant orange.


These are lilies that my dad gave me from his garden.


This is another type of monarda that we have. It attracts a lot of pollinators.


These are coneflowers that are in Olivia's garden.


This is smooth ironweed that is growing in the west pasture. We haven't had horses now for 11 months and this year all these native wildflowers came up. These flowers are as tall as I am - about 5'4".


This is blue vervain. It's also growing in the pasture.


I was happy to see swamp milkweed coming up in quite a few areas.


The obedient plants started blooming. Now, in August, they have pink flowers all the way to the top of the plant. The bees - especially bumblebees - love these plants.


The Oriental lilies came up with their beautiful fragrance.


The black-eyed Susans are blooming in the backyard garden.


Cooper is standing next to the cup plant - another native plant - that's about seven feet tall. There are little yellow flowers on the top. Where the leaves meet near the stem, water collects (when we get rain or I water the garden).


This is an oxeye daisy. There are several of these daisies blooming at once.


This month, we've been hearing great-horned owls quite a bit. Olivia spotted this one in the oak tree in the east pasture while she was swinging. She got off her swing, came into the house to tell me to bring my long lens, and went back out to take photos. I joined her and this owl sat on the branch for a long time. There was a second great-horned owl on the other side of the tree. 


I liked watching it turn its head. It was also interesting to see how big its talons were.


The owl heard something in the grass below. It didn't end up flying down like I thought it would. Either it wasn't hungry or the animal is in an unaccessible area - like the brush pile we have in that pasture.


The bees love the monarda.


This is a hummingbird clearwing. It's a type of moth that overwinters in leaf litter. If people blow or clear their leaves away, none of these moths will be born. 


This is a blurry picture, but you can see how long its proboscis is for drinking from the flower, plus you can see its two front legs. They are fast-moving moths - just like hummingbirds!