Wednesday, October 26, 2022

A Short Guide to a Happy Life - Book Notes

On my GoodReads list, I have A Short Guide to a Happy Life by Anna Quindlen as a book I wanted to read. This week I read it. It is, indeed, a short book - only 50 pages with a good percentage of them full-page black-and-white photos. 

Despite its short length, there was a lot of good information in it. Some highlights include:

- No man ever said on his deathbed I wish I had spent more time at the office.

- John Lennon said,, "Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans."

- You are the only person alive who has sole custody of your life...your soul.

- I am a good mother to three good children. I have tried never to let my profession stand in the way of being a good parent. I no longer consider myself the center of the universe. I show up. I listen. I try to laugh.

- Turn off your cell phone. Turn off your regular phone, for that matter. Keep still. Be present.

- Get a life in which you are not alone. Find people you love, and who love you.

- Get a life in which you are generous. 

- Life is glorious, and that you have no business taking it for granted. 

- All of us want to do well. But if we do not do good, too, then doing well will never be enough.

- It is easy to waste our lives: our days, our hours, our minutes. 

- It is so easy to exist instead of live. 

- It's ironic that we forget so often how wonderful life really is. We have more time than ever before to remember it. The men and women of generations past had to work long, long hours to support lots and lots of children in tiny, tiny houses. The women worked in factories and sweatshops and then at home, too, with two bosses, the one who paid them, and the one they were married to, who didn't.

- Those of us who are second and third and fourth generation (immigrants) are surrounded by nice cars, family rooms, patios, pools - the things our grandparents thought only rich people had. Yet somehow, instead of rejoicing, we've found the glass half empty. Our jobs take too much out of us and don't pay enough....Let's be honest. We have an embarrassment of riches. Life is good.

- I learned to love the journey, not the destination. I learned that this is not a dress rehearsal, and that today is the only guarantee you get. 

- Think of life as a terminal illness, because, if you do, you will live it with joy and passion, as it ought to be lived. 

- School never ends. The classroom is everywhere. The exam comes at the very end. 

Sunday, October 23, 2022

Waymaker - Book Notes

The local library had some new books displayed in its entry including Waymaker - Finding the Way to the Life You've Always Dreamed Of by Ann Voskamp. 

I started reading the first chapter which interested me and then - by the second chapter - I could see that the book was going in a direction that didn't feel like it was the right fit for me. It had a religious focus which wasn't what I was expecting. 

That being said, there were a couple of parts that I found interesting. I just wish the rest of the book would have built upon the concept of finding and creating one's dream life, but in a secular way. 

Here are some highlights: 

- We may think we know what we want, but what we really want is to be known. Heard, Seen. Safe.

- How do you hope to find a way out of all that's going wrong in your one and only life? 

- Life is never made unbearable by the road itself but by the way we bear the road. It's not the hard roads that slay us; what actually slays us is the expectation that this road isn't what we hoped it to be.

That's where I left the end of the first chapter. I wish the book addressed this last quote - especially as it relates to more aspects than love and marriage which seems to be the focus of Waymaker

Having gone back to work after homeschooling my daughters for about 18+ years, my job isn't what I was anticipating it to be. In many ways, it is a huge disappointment after having had the opportunity to have the best job in the world - being a mother and homeschool educator to Sophia and Olivia. job...will ever top that one. 

So, my challenge is to figure out how to make this next phase of my life more bearable, to deal with the loss of no longer homeschooling the girls, and to figure out how to identify the positive points of my job each day. This, ultimately, will be a key to getting through each day. Each week. Each month.    

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Halloween College Care Package

Both Sophia and Olivia are in college, so I thought I would send them a care package. Each one basically has the same thing - some Halloween decorations, candy, snacks, window stars I made, closet scent, and a card.

There's a combination of healthy and not-so-healthy snacks, and some Halloween decorations they can hang from their ceilings (two bats and the word "Boo"). There's tape so they can hang up everything...just in case they didn't have it. 

The Halloween images are ones that are window stickers. There's also some lights and three window stars that I made for them. 

Each one got a decoration to hang on their door (the trio of pumpkins and black cat), a facial mask, more candy, and two scented sachets to put in their closet or drawers.

There were three layers of items. I realized that I didn't have enough of the orange and black tissue paper, so the middle layer uses white tissue paper. 

All the gifts are covered by orange and black tissue paper and then the card rests on top of that.

As my dad always said, "Write a message in the's more meaningful that way." So, I did. Each one has different letter/message in it. 

The outside of the boxes was decorated with stickers of ants (the only other black stickers I had). On the top, there was an orange piece of paper where I wrote their address and put two Halloween stickers on it. 

Olivia said that her room looks "more festive" now and that she has the trio of pumpkins with the black cat on her door. That makes me happy. I hope she continues to decorate her dorm room - and eventually her home - with these and other decorations to celebrate Halloween. It would be a legacy that lives on from my parents who used to decorate their home for the holiday and make it a fun one for our family. 

Friday, October 21, 2022

Life's Journeys According to Mister Rogers - Book Notes

 A couple weeks ago, I read a book by Fred Rogers that I enjoyed. There were many quotes and ideas in it that resonated with me. Mr. Rogers wrote another book, Life's Journeys According to Mister Rogers, that I found equally interesting. 

Below are some notes and quotes from the book:

- Each person in the world is a unique human being, and each has unique human potential. One of the important tasks of growing is the discovery of this uniqueness: the discovery of "who I am" in each of us - of "who I am" in relation to all those whom I meet.

- If we're really honest with ourselves, there are probably times when we think, "What possible use can I be in this world? What need is there for somebody like me to fill?" That's one of the deeper mysteries. Then God's grace comes to us in the form of another person who tells us we have been of help, and what a blessing that is. 

- You are a very special person. There is only one like you in the whole world. There's never been anyone exactly like you before and there never will be again. Only you. And people can like you exactly as you are.

- You're much more than your job description or your age or your income or your output.

- It's very important, no matter what you may do professionally, to keep alive some of the healthy interests of your youth. 

- There's often a tendency for us to hurry through transitions. We may feel that these transitions are "nowhere at all" compared to what's gone before or what we anticipate is next to come. But you are're "between."

- It's my belief that the capacity to accept help is inseparable from the capacity to give help when our turn comes to be strong.

- Sometimes it helps me to get away from the work - by taking a walk, sitting in a quiet room, listening to music, or talking with a friend. Sometimes I just go over to the piano and play out my feelings through music. That kind of break seems to nourish me, and I can come back renewed. 

- Try your best to make goodness attractive. That's one of the toughest assignments you'll ever be given. 

- We don't always succeed in what we try - certainly not by the world's standards - but I think you'll find it's the willingness to keep trying that matters most. 

- You can't be a winner all the time.

- I trust that you'll look back over your journey and recognize the blessings - great and small - which helped to carry you through, and also realize how other people shared their truth and their light with you and made the trip less lonely. 

   You know, none of us gets to be competent, mature people without the help of others. By now you've discovered that you don't have to go it alone. In fact, no one gets to be a graduate without the investment of other people - people who have loved you all along the way.

   During this extra-special time, I'd like to give you a minute to think of those who have believed in you...those you have helped you live your life knowing what was good and real. A minute of silence for all of us to remember those who have cared about us through our lives - people who have made a significant difference in our being who we are right now. One minute of silence. 

   Whomever you've been thinking about, whether they're here or far away or even in heaven, imagine how pleased they'd be to know that you recognize what a difference they've made in your becoming. 

- May you seek out your own continuing life education and, over time, over your whole lifetime, may you grow in faith and reverence, uprightness in morals, knowledge of language and arts, forgiveness, honesty, commitment, maturity, and your capacity to love. 

- My hope for you at the beginning of this new moment in your life is that you will take good care of that part of you where your best dreams come from, that invisible part of you that allows you to look on yourself and your neighbor with delight. Do your best to appreciate the gifts that you really are and always will look for every opportunity that allows you to clap and cheer, loving your neighbor as yourself. 

- In the acknowledgments of Life's Journeys According to Mister Rogers, there's a statement, "Fred's pioneering spirit calls on us to forge ahead and blaze new trails, much as he did in his lifetime." 

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

Peanut Butter Rocky Road Bars

For the county fair this year, I made several desserts. One of the desserts was Peanut Butter Rocky Road Bars - a pin I saw on Pinterest that led to Rock Recipes

This recipe reminded me of one that my mom used to make, but I don't recall her using peanut butter. I liked this version of Rocky Road Bars and would definitely make it again. Not only is it easy to make, but it is it won first prize in the county fair! 

Peanut Butter Rocky Road Bars 


1/3 cup butter 
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter (I used crunchy peanut butter)
2 cups chocolate chips 
10 oz bag mini marshmallows
1 cup roasted peanuts, optional (I included the peanuts)
1/2 cup dried unsweetened or sweetened coconut, optional  (I didn't use coconut)


Lightly grease a 9x9 pan and line it with parchment paper. You can dust the bottom with 1/4 cup of the coconut if you are using it. 

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and peanut butter together, then melt in the chocolate chips. As soon as the chocolate chips are melted, take it off the heat. You do not want to overheat this mixture. 

Add the marshmallows and peanuts to a large mixing bowl. Pour in the chocolate mixture and fold until the marshmallows are all covered in the chocolate mixture. 

Spread into the prepared pan and sprinkle the other 1/4 cup of dried coconut on top if you are using it. 

Chill for 3-4 hours before cutting into squares or bars (a serrated bread knife works well). Store in airtight containers. These will freeze quite well.

Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Bittersweet - Book Notes

A few months ago, the pastor at church had mentioned a book he read while on sabbatical called Bittersweet - How Sorry and Longing Make Us Whole by Susan Cain. His sabbatical focused on grief and loss, so I was curious to check this book out of the library and see what it was about.

Although there were some parts that resonated with me, the majority of the book seemed like it was meant for someone else. I did find the section about how creativity can be associated with sorrow and longing particularly interesting. 

At any rate, here are the parts that were most interesting to me: 

- Humans are wired to respond to each other's troubles with care. This instinct is as much a part of us as the desire to eat and breathe.

- Sad moods tend to sharpen our attention: They make us more focused and detail-oriented; they improve our memories, and correct our cognitive biases. 

- What if we took whatever pain we couldn't get rid of, and turned it into something else? We could write, act, study, cook, dance, compose, do improv, dream up a new business, and decorate our kitchens; there are hundreds of things we could do, and whether we do them "well," or with distinction, is beside the point. This is why "arts therapy" - in which people express and process their troubles by making art - can be so effective, even if its practitioners don't exhibit their work on gallery walls. 

- Whatever pain you can't get rid of, make it your creative offering - or find someone who makes it for you.

- Min Kym, a famous violinist, had her violin stolen. "The moment my violin was stolen, something died in me....I have to accept that the person I was with the violin gone. But I've been reborn....There's space now for a new me to emerge....When you do recover from any loss - when you heal, when your soul starts to heal from the shock - a new part grows." 

- In our house, getting into a good college was the holy grail. My mother dreaded my departure, but even more she desired my success.

- May I be free from danger, May I be free from mental suffering, May I be free from physical suffering, May I have ease of well-being.

- May I be safe, May I be happy, May I be healthy, May I live with ease. 

- A mother who developed Alzheimer's kept saying to her daughter, "I just want you to know what a good daughter you've been. I just want you to know." She would say this every single time the daughter called and visited. I won't be able to tell you much longer, so please remember how much I love you. A good daughter, a good daughter, you've been such a good daughter." 

Monday, October 10, 2022

Decorating for Halloween

It's that time of the year again when I pull out the bin of Halloween decorations and add some seasonal items to our home. We used to decorate the home - inside and outside - with lots of items to celebrate the holiday. I've scaled back this year since this is the first year without both girls here (they are both at college), so it is a bittersweet experience. 

Nonetheless, I did decorate our home for Halloween this year. There's a welcome sign on the gate for the holiday.

As I look at some of the Halloween items, they remind me of the girls' experiences in ceramics at the homeschool co-op they attended from Kindergarten through 12th grade. 

I put these jack-o-lanterns on the piano. It seemed fitting since both Sophia and Olivia played the piano from 3rd-12th grades. 

I chose not to put up the Halloween-themed artwork that they did throughout the years. When they move to their first apartment or home, I'll give them the art they created and they can decide what they want to do with it at that point. 

Some of the other Halloween items that we have are from my step-father-in-law who passed away last month. The trio of ghosts was something he gave to us when he went into assisted living (and eventually the connected nursing home) many years ago. I put these in the kitchen so it's the first thing we see when we walk into our home (we live in an 1890 farm home, so the main entry is a mudroom and then the kitchen).

He also gave us this Halloween train when he moved into assisted living. This year it is at the end of our dining room table so we can enjoy seeing it at every meal. 

This year there is a new addition from him - a witch with a black cat. He had that at the nursing home and we just received it when his room needed to be cleaned out after he died. I'm not sure what (if anything) is supposed to go on the platter that the witch is holding.

Also in the box of Halloween items was this string of ghosts that light up. Many of them are playing musical instruments which I love. Music has been and is such an important part of our lives, so it is quite fitting for us. The witch, dressed in white, also is from him when he moved into assisted living many years ago.  

Back in 2018, we had a fire here at our farm that burned our hobby shed where I stored some of our Halloween items. So, I purchased a few replacements - like this Halloween bunting. It is hanging right by our woodstove. It adds some color and festivity to this area.

Also by the woodstove is our Halloween tree. With its purple lights, it has become one of our favorite items. With each passing day, it is getting darker earlier so this adds a pretty glow to the room. 

The final Halloween decorations are window stars that I made. I chose purple, orange, and green. There is no black kite paper, so that color is not an option. 

This is the only window that has the stars on it this year. I could make more to decorate other windows. I have the time now in the evenings. Maybe I could make some extra ones, too, and send Sophia and Olivia a surprise Halloween package at college. 

I have not put up the Halloween lights yet - indoors or outdoors. The first step is to do the last mowing of the season and then put up t-posts before the ground freezes. Once that is done, I can put up the lights outside. Whatever lights are leftover, I use those on the windows inside the home. This is what one of the rooms looked like last year with the lights up.

This is what the string of lights along our driveway looked like last year. I also continued the string along the road for everyone to see as they drove by. 

Maybe this year I'll add some more lights to the other windows in the front of the house. It seems a bit dark in the front compared to the windows on the right side of the house.

Sunday, October 9, 2022

Black and White Photos

On Swap-Bot, there is a challenge to create three black-and-white photos. I chose six photos - three from walks that I took with the dogs last week and three miscellaneous shots. The first three photos were taken on my iPhone and the last three photos were taken on my DSLR camera (Nikon D3400 Series).  All the photos were taken in color and converted to black-and-white in post-processing. 

When I look for photos to convert to black-and-white, I am looking for images that either are very simple (e.g., the wooden post with coiled wire pictured below), have a lot of texture (e.g., pictures of the clouds and farm fields), or where the color detracts from the image and/or message (e.g., the image of the flower where the petals are white, the center is yellow, leaves are green, and surrounding flowers are red). 

The first image I created is of a wooden fence post with a large eye screw that has a loop of a thick coiled wire through it. It serves no purpose now - the owners just left this post and wire at the corner of their property. At one time, this fence blocked off an entry point to acreage with thousands of trees planted in it. During the past decade, the owners cut down or moved the trees and now the land is empty. Just grass. No cover or food sources for birds and other wildlife. So, as I looked at the photo in color with the bright and cheerful blue sky, white puffy clouds, and green grass it didn't convey the sense of loss and bleakness of this space that once was filled with life.

The second photo I took was on a warm, sunny day when I was walking the dogs. It was in the afternoon and the sun had come out from behind the clouds. The clouds were illuminated by the sun's rays. It was a beautiful afternoon.

This was another day that I walked the dogs in about the same area in the previous picture. I like this stretch of the walk because it feels so open and immense. The fields were being harvested, so there are different levels in the field. 

The picture below is of a white flower with a yellow center in the shape of a heart. I had to do a double-take when I looked at it because I have never seen a heart-shaped center...they are always round. I've been missing my parents (both have died - my dad in 2012 and my mom in 2015) and my daughters who are now both away at college. Perhaps this was just the thing I needed to see when I looked at this flower on October 8th.

This is a three-foot-tall bronze statue of a girl with a jug by Italian artist Vincenzo Aurisicchio. He lived from 1855 to 1926 and is known for his sculptural artwork. When my step-father-in-law died last month, we inherited this statue that he and my mother-in-law purchased in Italy and shipped back to their home in Minnesota. It is in the back of our car and at a different angle than what is typically seen when the statue is upright.

It's not a piece that I would typically be drawn to because the girl has a blank/sad expression and her jug is broken (that's the way the artist created the piece). I would like to learn more about the piece, but I cannot find anything written about it - just the images of it with the artist's name. So, the artist's concept for it and the story behind it will remain a mystery.

The last image I am sharing is one of a partially-completed caning of a chair. At an arts festival, coordinated by a local folk school, there was a craftsperson who was demonstrating how caning is done. It was interesting watching her work and learning about all the steps she needed to take to create this pattern. 

So, these are my six black-and-white photos. I enjoyed going through my photographs from the past nine days and picking ones that I felt represented things I enjoyed doing and learning, and were representative of life's transitions and changes. 

Saturday, October 8, 2022

The World According to Mister Rogers - Book Notes

 Recently I came across two books by Fred Rogers at the library. The first one I read is The World According to Mister Rogers - Important Things to Remember. It's a short book, yet one filled with a lot of wisdom and things to reflect upon. Below are some of my favorite passages from the book. 

- Some days, doing "the best we can" may still fall short of what we would like to be able to do, but life isn't perfect - on any front - and doing what we can with what we have is the most we should expect of ourselves or anyone else. 

- It takes strength to face our sadness and to grieve and to let our grief and our anger flow in tears when they need to. It takes strength to talk about our feelings and to reach out for help and comfort when we need it. 

- Who you are inside is what helps you make and do everything in life. 

- Solitude is different from loneliness, and it doesn't have to be a lonely kind of thing. 

- You rarely have time for everything you want in this life, so you need to make choices. And hopefully, your choices can come from a deep sense of who you are. 

- All life events are formative. All contribute to what we become, year by year, as we go on growing. As my friend the poet Keneth Koch once said, "You aren't just the age you are. You are all the ages you ever have been!"

- I believe it's a fact of life that what we have is less important than what we make out of what we have. The same holds true for families. It's not how many people there are in a family that counts, but rather the feelings among the people who are there. 

- To love someone is to strive to accept that person exactly the way he or she is, right here and now. 

- It always helps to have people we love beside us when we have to do difficult things in life. 

- Mutually caring relationships require kindness and patience, tolerance, optimism, joy in the other's achievements, confidence in oneself, and the ability to give without undue thought of gain. 

- Each one of us contributes in some unique way to the composition of life.

- I believe that infants and babies whose mothers give them loving comfort whenever and however they can are truly the fortunate ones. I think they're more likely to find life's times of trouble manageable, and I think they may also turn out to be the adults most able to pass loving concern along to the generations that follow after them. 

- You bring all you ever were and are to any relationship you have today. 

- Imaging something may be the first step in making it happen, but it takes the real time and real efforts of real people to learn things, make things, turn thoughts into deeds or visions into inventions.

- There is no normal life that is free of pain. It's the very wrestling with our problems that can be the impetus for our growth. 

- As human beings, our job in life is to help people realize how rare and valuable each one of us really is, that each of us has something that no one else has - or ever will have - something inside that is unique to all time. It's our job to encourage each other to discover that uniqueness and to provide ways of developing its expression.

- Anyone who does anything to help a child is a hero to me. 

- We want to raise our children so that they can take a sense of pleasure in both their own heritage and the diversity of others. 

- When you combine your own intuition with a sensitivity to other people's feelings and moods, you may be close to the origins of valuable human attributes such as generosity, altruism, compassion, sympathy, and empathy. 

- Spend one minute thinking of someone who has made a difference in the person you have become. 

-As you play together in a symphony orchestra, you can appreciate that each musician has something fine to offer. Each one is different though, and you each have a different "song to sing." When you sing together, you make one voice. That's true of all endeavors, not just musical ones. Finding ways to harmonize our uniqueness with the uniqueness of others can be the most fun - and the most rewarding - of all.

- Who in your life has been such a servant to you...who has helped you love the good that grows within you? Let's just take ten seconds to think of some of those people who have loved us and wanted what was best for us in life - those who have encouraged us to become who we are tonight - just ten seconds of silence. 
    No matter where they are - either here or in heaven - imagine how pleased those people must be to know that you thought of them right now. 
     We all have only one life to live on earth. And...we have the choice of encouraging others to demean this life or to cherish it in creative, imaginative ways. 

- If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourselves that you leave at every meeting with another person. 

- Whether we're a preschooler or a young teen, a graduating college senior, or a retired person, we human beings all want to know that we're acceptable, that our being alive somehow makes a difference in the lives of others.

- The real issue in life is not how many blessings we have, but what we do with our blessings. Some people have many blessings and hoard them. Some have few and give everything away. 

- The purpose of life is to listen - to yourself, to your neighbor, to your world and to God and, when the time comes, to respond in as helpful a way as you can find...from within and without. 

- The world needs a sense of worth, and it will achieve it only by its people feeling that they are worthwhile. 

- In The Little Prince there is a phrase, "L'essential est invisible pour les yeux." (What is essential is invisible to the eyes.) The closer we get to know the truth of that sentence, the closer I feel we get to wisdom. 

- I find out more and more every day how important it is for people to share their memories. 

-  Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping. 

Saturday, October 1, 2022

My Favorite Photos - September 2022

This month has been a challenging one as I've returned to the workforce after homeschooling my daughters since 2003...over 19 years. It literally was the best and most rewarding position I have ever held in my life. I was truly privileged to have such wonderful daughters who loved to learn, challenged themselves, and wanted to be leaders - especially in 4-H and the community. 

So, as I now have almost the first month of being a special education paraprofessional under my belt, I am so grateful that I took these photos throughout the month of things that sustain me, bring joy to my life, and provide the much-needed balance to working in a public school where the majority of the students are making me question if I made the right job decision. Time will tell. Right now, I am still reflecting on whether this position is right for me.

At any rate, here are the photos that are my favorite ones from the month. On September 1st, I coordinated a pontoon boat ride for the Lions club I'm a member of, and we saw this eagle fly right by our boat.

We continued to see more eagles on the boat ride on the St. Croix River. Here's another one.

This is a section of a bridge that spans from Minnesota to Wisconsin. The posts are open because people were wanting as much of the view of the river to be open and not blocked by the bridge.

This is an osprey that was flying rather low along the St. Croix River. 

I was seeing so many monarchs in our backyard, with 10-15 of them being on a single plant. At night, they would rest in the trees, especially the ash tree near one of the flower gardens, and then spend time in the morning eating and fueling up for the next part of their journey south to Mexico. 

Interestingly, I have not seen a monarch since the middle of the month. Yet, when I was writing this, I took a break and looked out the window. Within a short time, a monarch flew by, heading south. 

The hummingbirds also were migrating south. By mid-month, we no longer were seeing them.

Olivia competed at the state level for 4-H. This year she entered her Self-Determined project about painting The Girl with the Pearl Earring. It was a semester-long study she did for her Art Appreciation PSEO course she did in 2021-22.

While at the State Fair, I saw this quilt that had a fabric 3D frog. There also were 3D lilies on lilypads on this same quilt. 

Olivia was a good sport at the State Fair and sat on this chair filled with $1.7 million of shredded bills.

She especially liked the Harry Potter display in the Ag-Hort Building at the State Fair.

One of my favorite parts of the building is the floral kaleidoscope which is planted with colorful flowers in a base.

When you spin the base and look through the kaleidoscope, different arrangements are formed, like this one below.

Olivia and I also went to the Fine Arts building. This was a stained glass and paper display.

There was a painting of a cat which I thought was the background was in one of my favorite colors.

This was an unusual art piece. It was a piggy bank.

Olivia has settled into life at college and enjoys her private room. It is on the small side, but she is fine with it. The most important thing is that it is her own room.

On Labor Day, we visited Sophia and Olivia who are both attending the same college. We brought Aspen and Danny to visit them since they are the two dogs who are having the most difficult time with both the girls gone now. We had a nice time spending part of the day together.

The sun is setting earlier. I like how it highlights the clumps of native grasses in Olivia's garden.

Something unusual that I saw at the hummingbird feeder was an Antlered Flutter Fly. It's not a great photo, but this insect is rare - although widespread throughout the United States. In Minnesota, it can be found in a handful of counties. So, I feel lucky that I saw it.

The hostas still have blooms on them. The hummingbirds like these flowers, so I'm happy to see that there are still some blooming as they are migrating south.

The asters are now in full bloom and a few roses are still blooming. We have a variety of types of both, so it's nice to see them adding color to the gardens and yard.


Even the Mallow is still blooming. This plant has taken over half of one of my gardens. I need to figure out what to do about it next year.

During early-September, there was a trio of Great Northern Owls. This is one of the trio who landed on our garage room. It's not a great picture, but I like the memory of it there and around our farm. The owls called out to one another which I enjoy hearing.

On NextDoor, a woman was giving away perennials. By the time she was done going through her gardens, she had filled the entire back part of my car, One of the more unusual native plants she gave me was this cactus. Who knew that cacti could grow in Minnesota? 

During the second weekend of September, there's a local festival that our Lions club coordinates. I'm in charge of the vendors - businesses, non-profits, crafters, artists, farmers, and food trucks. Sophia and one of her roommates, Nessa, came up for the weekend which was fun. Enjoyed having them at the event again this year. 

There's a firefighters' waterball competition that is fun to watch.

Minnesota Armored Combat also was there and they had "fights" with different swords and axes. It was quite the show.

The Boy Scouts serve thousands of tacos at the event each year. This is the first year that Sophia had tacos there. 

The last event of the day is a parade. Many of the people on the floats and in vehicles toss candy to those watching the parade. Nessa and Sophia enjoyed that.

The next day, my sister and I went to another parade. This parade - in Osceola (WI) was about 90 minutes and, by far, is the best parade I've ever been to year after year. One of the floats had a Mexican theme. Even the dog got in the spirit of the day!

One of the parade units (a local church) gave free hotdogs to people watching the parade. Between that, popsicles and pop - in addition to the candy and other freebies - people leave happy after having a meal and treats!

Although this wasn't a favorite part of the month, I do like the flowers on my step-father-in-law's casket. He died on September 6th...the first day that I started my new job. I was going to visit him that day after work. Unfortunately, he died in the morning and missed that opportunity to see him and spend time with him before he died. The funeral home encouraged people to take some flowers. Olivia took some to bring back to her dorm room.


After our time at Fort Snelling (where he is buried), we went out to eat as a family.

On a more positive note, one of the things we inherited from him was this piece by Simon Bull. It's one of 450 pieces in the Brushstrokes series. The image is printed on canvas and then the artist hand-painted over it to enhance it. The majority of the canvas is covered with paint, so he put some time into this one.

The apples on the tree by the driveway are prolific this year...the best year yet.

The deer have been loving our front yard now that the pears and apples are ripe. Almost every night (and sometimes during the day), one or more deer walk through our front yard. This one is eating pears that have dropped from the tree.


On September 17th, my sister and I went to a fall festival that a local arts organization coordinated. They had sheep herding there.

The local history museum was there and showed some shoes that were worn in the past. 

I also watched how caning is done. 

Afterward, we went back to my home and we talked for a long time. It was good to get caught up. 

On the 18th, we went to our church's 150th anniversary. After the service, they provided fried chicken and the congregation brought salads, baked beans, and lots of desserts. There was even an opportunity to paint a piece of pottery which was fun. As we left, these autumnal flowers in a neighbor's yard captured my eye.


With the weather cooling down in September, the dogs and I have gone on some walks. Saw this Leopard Frog on one of our walks. It jumped across the road.

At my job, one of the boys likes nature, so we went on a walk by the school one day and saw this orange hawkweed. It's a pretty flower, but not native to the area. 

Towards the end of the month, someone in a neighboring community was offering a free dog pillow since none of her dogs liked it. I was the first one to respond, so now Danny has a new pillow to rest on. He loves it!

I have taken the dogs into the west pasture which is fenced so they can run and explore. Aspen is resting after running around quite a bit.

A variety of bees are visiting the fall flowers. The bumblebees seem to be slowing down, but are still out there even on cold days.

The pods of the swamp milkweed are dried and opening now. I take some of the pods and open them, letting the seeds travel and land where they want. Hopefully, there will be more swamp milkweed plants next year.


I have loved seeing the deer using our farm for a safe place to spend time and eat. This deer was eating grass and leaves along the driveway.

On September 24th, we went to the NAMI walk in Minneapolis. We could only stay for a bit to accept the scholarship Olivia won because we had to get a photo for the church directory on hour away. We enjoyed meeting the family who offered the scholarship in memory of their son. The mother is holding the puppy and the father is to the right of her in the photo. Their daughter is to the far left.  

Sophia and Danny spent some time together before the church directory photo session. 

As the month came to a close, it seemed like I was noticing more sunrises and sunsets. On the left, is a sunrise and, on the right, is a sunset.

Same thing with these two photos...the sunrise is on the left and sunset is on the right.


On September 30th at 1:40 a.m., there were two black bears that walked through our front yard, onto our driveway, and then went over the woven-wire fence (breaking it and pushing it down on their way over). On the left, is the first bear who walked onto our front doorstep; and, on the right, is the second bear - most likely a sibling - who followed along.


This is one shot of them from our Ring camera video. We don't typically see black bears in our front yard or driveway, so this was pretty exciting!

That wraps up the month. As I look back on the photos, I realize that family, nature, pets, and art sustain me. I just need to make sure that these elements are always a central part of my life.