Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Scavenger Hunt - October 2018

For October's Scavenger Hunt on Swap-Bot, there were five things to find:

Something alive

These flowers are in a little prairie garden and perennial flower garden I established this past year. I don't remember what type of plant this is, but I was pleasantly surprised to see the purple flowers still blooming on it.

The flowers are very delicate and cup-like when in full bloom. They are the only flowers in the garden that are still blooming - even after a couple hard frosts.

Something woven

We have had these woven placemats for many years now. I put one down on the bureau in the dining room and placed the Halloween train on top of it so the ceramic wheels wouldn't scratch the wood.

The Halloween train used to belong to Paige's mother and step-father. It is only one of a few Halloween items that we still have after the fire on May 5, 2018, destroyed the hobby shed (where many of our holiday decorations were kept).

So, we are very grateful to have the Halloween train and a few other items as a connection to past Halloweens.

Something you’d never want to find in your house

I was checking on the status of the garage that is being built as a replacement to the hobby shed that burned. Sitting on the ledge in the sunlight was this Northern Paper Wasp.

Northern Paper Wasps are commonly found in Minnesota. They build nests near humans because that is where a lot of wood can be found (e.g., barns, homes, fences, sheds, landscaping, firewood). The wasps use wood to help create their nest.

What I don't like about these wasps is that the queens aggressively defend their nests and their oldest workers join her in that effort. Animals and people who disturb nests may be stung multiple times as wasps do not die after one sting (like honeybees do).

That being said, Northern Paper Wasps are useful insects in the sense that they do a great job of removing plant-devouring caterpillars from gardens. Still, I would not want them in my home.

A poster or marquee announcing an event

This was a recent poster that our Lions Club placed around town to let people know about our Service Project Sampler Day. We held the event when youth had the day off of school. Lions and community members of all ages came to do 13 different service projects (hands-on activities as well as donated items) that benefited 14 organizations locally and globally.

It was a fun event and everyone said they would like to have another Service Project Sampler Day. So, we are looking at having the next one in January. The goal would be to do an event once a quarter.

Something fluffy

This is Lucy, our cat. He is about 15 or 16 years old now. He and his sister, Maggie, came to our farm as kittens. They were wandering around the farm at only a few weeks old. We never could find the mother.

So, we ended up feeding them soft food and milk and they were thrilled to have something to eat. We fed them daily and checked on them many times (they were living in the hobby shed which had a cat door on it thanks to the previous owners).

Eventually, they made their way indoors and lived inside ever since. Although Maggie is no longer with us, Lucy is hanging in there. He is showing signs of aging - like reduced vision in his right eye, loss of weight, and not being able to jump up onto high things any more.

However, he's always eager to sit right next to you and purr; and loves being pet. He's a really good cat. We are fortunate to have had so many years with Lucy.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Outdoor Mom's Journal - October 2018

During our outdoor time this week we went..outside to enjoy sunsets. One of my favorites was on October 16th at 5:21 p.m.

In a matter of minutes, the sky changed colors.

Interestingly, to the northwest, the sky was still light.

Here's another view from around the same time.

During the day on October 28th, the sky was so blue. The clouds were pretty as they floated in the sky and were reflected in the pond.

The most inspiring thing we experienced was...the sunsets. Here's a sunset on October 30th. I really like the blues, lavenders, and magentas of the sky and clouds.

Our outdoor time made us ask (or wonder about)...if there are more typical colors of sunsets at different times of the years. Do you see more yellows, reds, and oranges in the summer; and blues, purples, and magentas in the winter?

In the garden, we are planning/planting/harvesting....
October is the time of the year when there's not much planting and not much (if any) harvesting. I did manage to plant over 100 bulbs in the garden by the back door once everything was completed in that area from construction/repair and residing the house due to the fire.

I have a variety of bulbs that I planted; and I'm hoping that the squirrels and voles don't eat the bulbs. Before planting the bulbs, I put down black dirt since a lot of that area was sandy fill that was brought in.

I also planted bulbs under the pine tree - mostly tulips in reds and purples.

There are a few bulbs planted under the apple tree. Not many, though. The ground was getting harder to dig in and get the bulbs planted.

 It was a rather meager year in the garden. I don't think I'll be planting vegetables next year. They don't seem to do well in the gardens by the driveway. Maybe I'll try bulbs or flowers next year. 

I added nature journal pages about...
again, nothing. I am thinking of getting a pre-designed nature journal where I can fill in information and observations. Maybe I would have more success then.

I am reading...
pottery and clay books, and getting ideas about how to incorporate natural elements into pottery. On October 11th, I picked some leaves and pressed them into clay.

I cut them out and let them dry for a week so that the imprint of the leaves would be left in the clay.

In a couple of weeks, the leaves will be fired, then glazed, and then fired again. They should be done by the first week of November.

I am dreaming about…
seeing more beautiful sunsets. They never get old.

A photo I would like to share...this is the last Halloween that Sophia will be at home. Next year she will be at college. This year, on October 31st, she wanted to be a bat. Interestingly, her first Halloween she also was a bat. She didn't realize that until she looked at her Halloween bag. Each year we trace the girls' hands onto their bags, write the year, and note what costume they wore.

Speaking of bats, we haven't seen too many this year. We have a bat house and had hoped they would have moved in. Maybe next year. 

Monday, October 1, 2018

My Favorite Photos - September 2018

During September, I had quite a few favorite photos. These aren't ones that are artistically skilled in terms of photography. Rather, they represent activities and events I was involved with; and/or memories of things that we did as a family.

On September 1st, a group of volunteers that I coordinated from the Lions, Leos, and community planted bushes and perennials at two corners of an intersection in town. It turned out well, and we received a lot of positive feedback from the community.

On Labor Day, we saw Crazy Rich Asians. What a great movie! 

Afterwards, we went to Dairy Queen. We go there every year on Labor Day. It marks the end of summer for us and the transition to the new homeschool year.

The first week of September, Sophia applied to one college. Within a few weeks she heard she was accepted and received generous merit-based scholarships.  During the third week of September, she applied to another college (also one of her top choices) and heard within two days that she was accepted!

The first weekend in September, there was a big community event. I was responsible for the coordination of the vendors. There were 47 vendors this year (up from 19 in the previous year). One of organizations that was there was the Wildlife Science Center. They brought this beautiful owl.

The day after the community festival and parade, we went to another community parade. There were a lot of floats, marching bands, and people throwing candy.

On Friday, September 14th, the farrier was here to trim the horses' hooves. In the process, while Sophia was holding the lead line, her middle finger got stuck in a metal loop as Bailey jerked her head up. There is a clean, diagonal break. It was buddy-taped in Urgent Care that day; and then examined closer and re-taped a week later by an orthopedic surgeon who specializes in hands. 

Because she plays the harp and piano, the surgeon did not want to do surgery on her finger and put pins in it to set the bone. There would be a loss of feeling and sensation in that finger which would not be good. 

So, although the experience was not a "favorite" one, what I (and Sophia) found interesting was the x-ray and how the bones look within her hands.

September marked the first day of 12th grade and PSEO courses for Sophia; and 10th grade for Olivia. How quickly the time has passed.

With senior photos coming up, Sophia needed some shoes to go with her dress. Olivia had fun trying on high-heeled shoes while we were at DSW at Mall of America.

On the 16th, Sophia and I co-led a session at a local church for people who wanted to volunteer to make shoes for children in Uganda through Sole Hope. Sole Hope takes the pieces that are cut from blue jeans and sends them to Africa. Tailors and cobblers there make shoes that are given at no cost to children who have jiggers (microscopic insects that burrow in one's feet and lay eggs).

By receiving medical treatment and a pair of shoes, children go from not being able to walk, run, play, and go to school to being able to do all of these things!

Volunteers make 22 pairs of shoes and assembled 17 Care Kits that are shown below. The Care Kits are given to children and adults to continue at-home care for jiggers (to make sure they don't return). Simple things like Bandaids, cotton balls, safety pins, alcohol wipes, and Neosporin ointment are life savers for people in Uganda.

Later in the week I attended the USA/Canada Lions Leadership Forum in Columbus, Ohio. While I was there, I visited Pilot Dogs and had the opportunity to go on a walk with Rudy, the guide dog. Rudy led me safely through an obstacle course while I was blindfolded.

Not being able to see and having to totally rely on a dog to guide me through the obstacle course was quite a memorable experience!

One night in Columbus, the Lions Club president and I went out to lunch in the German Village. It was a nice meal. Both she and I had the buffet and got to sample a variety of German dishes.

On the way back to the free bus that runs throughout downtown Columbus, I noticed these flowers.

While in Columbus, I ate at North Market several times. There was a donut shop with delicious donuts, a bakery, cheese/meat vendor, Vietnamese food, and more. There were all these mini-restaurants (without seating) that you could buy food from.

Towards the end of the month, on the 26th, Sophia got her senior photos taken. It was quite the process for doing her make-up and hair (part of the senior photo package which was nice).

One of my favorite photos that I took as she was getting ready was of her wearing her Chinese headdress. 

After the shots with Sophia in her Chinese headdress and dress, she changed and the make-up artists/hairstylist took her hair down for another look. 

This photo is one that Sophia took of herself on my phone as we were driving between the photographer's studio and a park.

The park had some beautiful flowers - including the ones shown below.

There were many different places that the photographer had Sophia sit, stand, and pose for her photos.

Sophia wanted one of herself laying on the grass in the flowy dress with white roses in her hair. She said she felt like Sleeping Beauty wearing the dress and with the flowers in her hair.

By the end of the month - the 29th - the entry to our cellar was completed. The cement area around it provides easier access to the basement and helps direct rain from pooling near the home and eroding the area by the other concrete slab. Aspen is checking out the step while Danny has already explored the new concrete steps and walkway. He'll like that in the winter since he doesn't like his paws to be in the snow.

The flowers that a friend gave me are blooming well. I don't know what type they are since they are not ones typically seen in the area. They are about 3 or 3 1/2 feet tall; and are perennials.

On September 28th, we helped oversee the first three hours of the blood drive that our Lions Club hosted. Sophia is sitting with Tom, the husband of the club's president. They welcomed people when they checked in to donate blood.

While Olivia was at gymnastics on the 29th, Sophia and I went to a Booya and Bake Sale at a local church. I used to take the girls to this event when they were younger, and would purchase containers of the soup/stew to take home and enjoy during the Fall.

For $9.50, we got two big bowls of soup, coleslaw, a roll, crackers, two cups of hot apple cider, and apple crisp. It was a very filling meal.

Afterwards, we stopped at Eichtens which sells cheese, meat, and other delicious items. They had tables set up with samples of products that we enjoyed tasting. Outside the door to the store, there were containers of these pretty red flowers.

We drove around a bit looking at the first signs of the changing leaves; and then stopped at an apple orchard. We bought some apples to eat plain and then make into applesauce and apple pie. We went down by some of trees and took some photos.

I like the one below because it shows the girls smiling naturally.

By the last day of September, the milkweed pods are getting ready to dry, crack open, and release the seeds. This one I opened to see the progress of the seeds.  They are so orderly as they wait to be caught by the wind and float to a spot to start a new milkweed plant.

So those are some of my favorite photos from September. It was a great month; and one that I can look back on and know that we enjoyed living and experiencing it to the fullest.