Thursday, January 31, 2019

Outdoor Mom's Journal - January 2019

During our outdoor time this week we went...outside briefly to the backyard and pasture. It was pretty cold out so I wore my face mask and a new hat that my friend, Yoshiko, sent me from Japan.

There was a beautiful sunset that night. Seeing the colors of the sunsets never gets old for me.

The most inspiring thing we experienced was...going to the Bell Museum for Olivia's 16th birthday. The museum used to be at the University of Minnesota for decades. For a couple of years, a new building was built and the dioramas were refurbished. 

They changed the glass between viewers and the dioramas, so it almost looks like you are part of the scene.

Many of the dioramas now have interactive informational displays. They definitely add new insight into what you're viewing.

There were birds and mammals that we don't normally see or have become extinct.

There was a section of the museum devoted to the Ice Age. I can't even begin to imagine walking around and seeing animals this size near me.

Our outdoor time made us ask (or wonder about)…are there certain types of art and sculpture that fare better in the winter and sub-zero temperatures? 

Olivia and I went to the Walker Art Center and went on a tour with a group from our local art center in the northeast suburbs. It was a pleasant day outside, so we walked in the sculpture garden and took some photos.

There have been a lot of changes to the garden - mostly the removal of sculptures, buildings, and vegetation. It's a lot different and less engaging than it used to be.

There were some familiar sculptures that we saw when the girls were younger. Many, though, have been moved elsewhere. There are new sculptures, but not as many as there used to be. I remember being able to spend a lot of time in the garden. Now, we were able to walk through the entire space in less than a half hour.

In the garden, we are planning/planting/harvesting...nothing. It's too cold to even think about planting and harvesting.

I added nature journal pages about...daily things I'm observing in nature. I'm using a new nature journal which I'm really enjoying. There's a calendar where I put a note or two about what I see outside; and then blocks where I can write in greater detail. I'm also keeping track of the birds that I see this month.

I am reading...
nothing related to nature. 

I am dreaming about…
warmer weather. It's been a challenging and cold month!

A photo I would like to share...
actually, there are few photos from the fireworks show on January 26th that Sophia and I went to. It was about 8 degrees below zero, but felt a lot colder because of the wind. 

The fireworks were beautiful; and she was excited to see them since she's been in Arizona for the past two years at a leadership camp on the 4th of July.

I'm happy that we went to see the fireworks. It was a nice way to wrap up the end of the month!

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

10 Questions about Me

The 10 Questions about Me is a swap in the ESG group on Swap-Bot. Below are my answers to the questions.

Recent photo of myself with my name, city/country, and a brief bio.

Sophia, Olivia, and I with Santa.
December 2018

There I am - the second from the left. A rare photo of me since I don't like haven't my photo taken. Usually, I am the one behind the camera taking photos of others.

I live in Minnesota - and have for my entire life minus two years when I lived in Charlotte, North Carolina, and another two years in San Francisco, California.

As for a bio: I'm 52 years old, have been married for more than half my life (28 years in October 2018), and have two daughters who were adopted from China when they were 11 and 10 months old (Sophia and Olivia, respectively).

Sophia, Olivia, and me about eight or ten years ago.

I worked in the development/fundraising field from when I graduated from college to when I started my own non-profit in 1995. After doing that for about eight years, I transitioned to being a stay-at-home mom who homeschools both her daughters.

My interests are: education and life-long learning; photography; nature and wildlife; the arts (visual arts and music in particular); cooking and baking; embroidery; sewing; and quilting.

Now the questions...

What's the most interesting thing you've read lately? 

I read somewhere that the trees you plant now should be ones that will survive 20 or 25+ years from now in a different climate. So, as we're seeing the temperatures gradually warm in Minnesota, for example, we need to think of trees that grow and thrive well in warmer climates.

There was a workshop or class about this topic that was promoted on Facebook. Unfortunately, I didn't write down the information; and I can't find the event now. Perhaps it has passed. Nonetheless, it was an interesting thought about being mindful about what you plant; and the importance of looking at the long-term.

What's a fact about you that's not included in your Swap-bot profile?

I was in a car accident on November 14, 2018. A guy wasn't paying attention as he drove up an exit ramp and rear-ended my car as I was waiting at the intersection. The thing was - it wasn't even my car either. It was a loaner vehicle.

Due to the accident, I have whiplash which has required a CT scan and MRI of my neck and brain; and many medical appointments with the doctor, spine specialist, and chiropractor. Next week, physical therapy sessions begin. I've been told by multiple medical professionals that it is a long journey to recovery.

Do you listen to any podcasts? Which ones? If not, what topics would interest you?

I do not listen to podcasts. However, if I did listen to them, I would be most interested in subjects about nature, art, and creativity. A couple that I found include:

Pulse of the Planet. The description says: "Each weekday, Pulse of the Planet provides its listeners with a two-minute sound portrait of Planet Earth, tracking the rhythms of nature, culture and science worldwide and blending interviews and extraordinary natural sounds."

Another that would interest me is Your Creative Push. The description says, "Your Creative Push is the daily podcast that pushes YOU to pursue your creative passion. Every week, Youngman Brown interviews artists, musicians, writers, photographers, graphic designers, and other inspirational creative individuals in an attempt to get them to inspire you to put aside your excuses and START DOING WORK. 

"Each artist opens up to YOU, revealing the things that hold THEM back on a daily basis, and how they FIGHT THROUGH IT. They then give you one final push, in an attempt to motivate you to start doing work as soon as the episode is over. If you have a full-time job or full-time responsibilities and WISH that you had the COURAGE and MOTIVATION to FINALLY do that thing that has been on your mind, this podcast is for you!"

If you were in charge of the playlist right now, which five songs would you play next?

The only time I listen to music is when I'm in the car. Rarely do I listen to music at home. It seems like the current songs keep repeating themselves so often. So, I would want to listen to songs that are rarely - if ever - heard on the radio.

Let's go back in time, shall we?

Jesus Christ Superstar - 1970. My dad had this album and I remember him playing it turning up when the song with Judas, the girls, and angels came on. This was his favorite song. Today was the first time I saw the video (click on the link above), but the song is as vivid in my mind now as it was then. It brings back so many good memories of him and his love for music.

My Dad playing the organ in Pella, Iowa, when he, my Mom,
Sophia, Olivia, and I took a trip there in April 2009.

Under Pressure - 1982 - by Queen. I would listen to this song regularly when my parents were struggling with their own  serious health issues towards the end of their lives (2009-2012 with my Dad; and until 2015 with my mom).

When I was driving by myself to visit them - whether in the hospital or nursing home - I would put this song on and the whole car would reverberate with the music. It was the needed mental escape I needed during a highly stressful and sad period of my life.

Body Talk - by the Wallets. This is a band I used to listen to in college. I watched them many times live at local bars and the evenings were always so much fun. People would be singing and dancing. You always would leave in such a good mood. The video is fun to watch. It was typical of the time period (1980s).

This Must Be the Place - by the Talking Heads. I hadn't heard this song until about a year or so ago on a show that Sophia and Olivia were watching. I liked the melody, but didn't know it was the Talking Heads (a band that I liked back in the 1980s).

You Can Call Me Al - by Paul Simon. This is just an upbeat song that I'd end the playlist on. It, like the others, is one from decades ago. In my mind, though, it seems like yesterday that I listened to these songs and performers. How quickly time goes by. more: Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes - also by Paul Simon. This came from the Graceland album. I listened to that cassette so many times (this is before music CDs were created). So many times I would listen to the songs and sing along to them as a I drove to work, back to college after visiting my parents, and going on driving trips. Lots of good memories when I hear these songs.

What's the best gift you've ever gotten?

I've thought about this questions for a while and nothing material comes to mind. The physical gifts I've received are thoughtful or useful.

What truly is the best gift I've received is time. Time with my family I grew up with: my parents, my sister, and my brother; and my family now.

A trip to Duluth's children museum in 2008.
The girls were dressed up in costumes and playing on the 
equipment they had there for kids to explore.

The every-day experiences, meals we've shared, trips we've taken, talks we've had...all these are so much more valuable and meaningful than any possession I've been given.

My sister, my mom, Sophia, Olivia, and me celebrating 
my mom's birthday on April 24, 2010.

What's your favorite part about living where you live right now? 

There are many things that I love about living here. It is very peaceful and quiet; and on holidays people go out of town so it is even more quiet!

Nature surrounds us which I enjoy. The sunsets and sunrises are amazing; and the beauty of each one never gets old.

Sunset on November 2, 2011.

There is wildlife all over our farm or right by it. I've seen and/or heard a variety of birds, raptors, mink, deer, fox, pheasants, coyotes, turkeys, and bears.

Least favorite?

The cold weather! We've had a very mild winter so far. However, the weather - starting tomorrow - will be getting into the teens and single-digits during the day, and below zero at night. As long as it stays away from being below zero during the day and double-digits at night, I can tolerate it.

The girls throwing snow at each other in the backyard
on February 29, 2012.

What's something that people assume about you, that isn't true?

Some people think that I either grew up on a farm or have always lived in the country since we used to have chickens, sheep, and  turkeys; and we have two horses now.

In reality, my dad grew up on farms in Illinois, but as a child I grew up in the inner city and suburb of Minneapolis. My parents sent us down on a plane to visit my grandparents (my dad's parents) when my sister and I were young; and then my dad, mom, and baby brother would drive down to Illinois from Minneapolis.

My sister and I would get to visit relatives' farms, pick peaches from my grandparents' peach tree, play outdoors, and ride on the tractor. That was the extent of my farm living.

Bailey and Hoss in the pasture.

When we moved to the farm here in 1995 and got livestock, everything was a learn-by-doing process. It was fun, exciting, and something new that I had never done before.

If you had to sum up 2018 in three words, which would they be?

Losses. Challenging. Resilience.

A couple photos from the fire on May 5, 2018, that burned the 
hobby shed, playhouse, 15 trees, and 14 acres of farm land. Also burned 
(but not completely destroyed): the animal barn, deck, and outdoor furniture. 
Melted: siding and window on the back of the house; and car. 

What event/trip/holiday are you most looking forward to?

Going as a family to Seattle (Washington) and multiple cities in Alaska for Sophia's graduation gift. We had originally wanted to go to China, but the political atmosphere is a bit tenuous right now; and there have been enough situations that make traveling there and back into the U.S. too unnerving.

The Space Needle in Seattle.
I went here on June 5, 2016, with my sister.

We want this trip to be fun, memorable, and exciting - not stressful. Hopefully, someday in the future, we will all be able to travel to China to show the girls where they were adopted from; and share stories about their adoptions and the process with them now that they are older.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

2019 Nature Goals

During 2019, I would like to work towards the following goals. Some I've done in the past and others are new ones for this year:

1. Keep up-to-date with the new Nature Observer nature journal I received for Christmas.

2. Read 4 books about nature.

3. Visit 1 national park.

We plan to visit Denali National Park this year 
for Sophia's graduation trip.

4. Visit 2 state parks and their nature centers that I’ve never seen.

5. Take 6 new hikes.

6. Go on a camping trip.

Olivia and I went camping in southeastern Minnesota in 2018.

7. Plant on our nature trail 10 trees and shrubs that are native to Minnesota. (Do this after assessing what types of trees we have at the farm and aiming to have at least 25 different varieties after everything is planted.)

8. Have 4 picnics when the weather is pleasant and we aren't battling with mosquitoes.

9. Finish re-grading and sodding the backyard so weeds don't overtake our lawn; and finish the flower and prairie gardens by early June so we can enjoy them during the summer; and wildlife can benefit from them. Use the National Wildlife Federation's checklist for gardening for wildlife as a reference.

10. Learn about and/or interact with two different animals or birds while in Alaska while at the aquarium and/or wildlife conservation center.