Monday, November 30, 2009

so close, and I blew it!!!

I had faithfully been posting every single day during the month of November, as promised. And what did I do? I forgot to post yesterday! Duh! I guess I can offer the excuse that it was Mr. Attitude's birthday, and I was busy with that. I washed dishes, baked a cake and cleaned house in the morning, then in the afternoon one of the several friends he invited came over and they played video games and had a mini party. I was actually happy that even one kid showed up; I had not heard from anyone beforehand so I was afraid it would become a non-event. I think it was just about the right size as it was.

I think blogging (almost) every day in November was a good thing for me. I had some mediocre posts, of course, but I was thinking more about the whole discipline of blogging and I ended up re-kindling the initial enthusiasm I had for it. I realized that I had not run out of ideas, just discipline. When I challenged myself to come up with a post every day I actually had an overabundance of ideas, some of which will have to wait for a later date to come to fruition. But that is good too; some things just need a little time to develop.

My blog traffic has increased somewhat this month, but I do not know if I can attribute that to posting more frequently. A lot of it, I've noticed over the past couple of days, has come from image searches. That tells me I probably need to protect my images more, and I found out it is really easy to watermark them in Picasa.

It is likely that I will have a new blog post the majority of days in December. It is unlikely that I will post every day just because I feel I have to. As always, thanks for reading and commenting!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

A walk in the November woods


This morning I had an urge to go for a walk in our woods. Although the woods are practically at my doorstep, I do not get out there nearly as much as I should, and since during the week I leave at dawn and return in dark these days, today was a rare opportunity to explore.

Most of the color of the woods is brown these days, save for pine and spruce needles and this mini forest of Lycopodium, a club moss, growing on the forest floor.

The low light of the winter sun hits everything as it would only in morning or evening during the summer. It accented this old paper birch bark nicely.

I started my walk from the cabin, heading southeast on a path along the old logging railroad siding, which still stands slightly raised from the rest of the forest floor. When I approached our property line I turned west and walked through the fairly open forest of white and red pine. I made my way to the rim of the old gravel pit, above, long overgrown with trees. From this angle it looks like a definite trail, and it is in most places, although I would have to cut a few limbs to make a ski trail out of it.

Along the gravel pit trail I saw curious signs of a culture that had been there before me. I do not know what the ice cream pail symbolizes. :)

I went out looking for signs of birds and deer, and I did see a few. My walk was cut short as I was headed behind the new house. I heard a flock of small birds fly over, and they sounded a lot like crossbills. I followed their direction, hoping to find them in a spruce tree eating cones, but I could not locate them. But the best sighting came after I was back at the house, sitting out on the deck enjoying the noonday sun and calm, mild weather. I heard the sound of swans flying from the north. At first I thought maybe I would see a flock of tundra swans, but these had the unmistakable voice of trumpeter swans. I watched a flock of about a dozen or so as they flew over the swamp on the east side of our land. My bird of 2009 will have to be the trumpeter swan; I have never seen so many of them!

I had expected some peace and quiet in the woods, but in reality it was quite noisy. Since all the leaves are off the deciduous trees, we hear traffic louder, although thankfully there is not much. There were two or three trains that passed on the railroad some four miles away during my walk, and the sound rumbled and thundered through the woods. There were a few gunshots, probably grouse hunters or muzzleloader deer hunters. And there was the sound of Starflower and Mr. Attitude playing on the empty trailer, shouting and making it tip like a teeter totter as they shifted their weight. I guess 3 AM may be better if I want silence.

Friday, November 27, 2009

four miles

Things were kind of busy around here today, what with the propane guy trying to dig a trench to the new house so we will have it ready when we get the new heater we are ordering. We have not had reliable backup heat in the new house yet, but with the new heater we are getting we should be able to go away for a while and not have to worry. Not that we have anywhere to go.

The Hermit also had a friend come over to help haul away a load of old tarps and other stuff that was sitting in a trailer. We need the trailer because tomorrow he is going to pick up a washer and dryer he found on Craigslist! The plumber was also here, figuring out how to get water up and running.

I was kind of overwhelmed by it all, so I went for a run in the middle of the afternoon. I think I went four miles. It is so difficult to schedule running time these days, but I think I may be walking at the school next week while I wait for Calvin to be done with basketball practice. They have a walkway that goes around the level above the gym. Too slippery for running, but if I have a half hour to spare anyway, walking will do.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone

I realize to my Canadian friends this is just a normal day, but it's always a good idea to give thanks. I am thankful that we have a roof over our heads, food in the pantry, and a source of income and health insurance. I am thankful for family and friends, and pets who bring so much joy into our lives. I am thankful for health. I am thankful for the Internet, for bringing wonderful people into my life and for making more information available to everyone.

After making the 100+ mile drive to the city and back to celebrate a wonderful meal at my brother's house, I am thankful I live where I do, that I don't have to put up with that kind of noise and traffic every day! I am thankful that piling the family into the car and making that drive is even an option.

Yes, this world is imperfect, and sometimes I wonder with all the suffering and oppression how I deserve this good life I have. But if I resolve to live a life of grace and compassion, to share the gifts I have and raise my children to be good people, I hope to have made a difference.

Grace and peace to all.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sally's not so big adventure

My name is Deb, and I am a bad dog mom.

It all started last night, when I let Sally outside to do her business. I don't remember what time it was. Somehow I got distracted, human kids have a way of doing that to me, and before I knew it I was upstairs in bed reading the first pages of The Hobbit and trying to decide if I wanted to take the plunge into fantasy world and read the whole thing. The jury is still out. Testimony is still welcome.

The next thing I knew it was 1:30 AM. I usually wake up briefly around that time. Only something was wrong. I could move my legs freely. There was not a dog curled up at the foot of the bed. Uh-oh. At 1:30, Sally is never anywhere else but curled up at the foot of the bed. I got up and walked around the house, checking every place she might be. No Sally. I went outside and called her name. No Sally.

I had a thought that she may have sought refuge at the Cabin/Man Cave. The Hermit and Calvin have been sleeping there lately, just because they can. I went out there, opening the door carefully because I did not want to wake anyone. Sally is a light sleeper, and I thought for sure she would wake up if I so much as touched the door. And I thought the last place she would be was in bed with The Hermit; I thought she avoided him. I looked everywhere else. No Sally.

I was starting to worry, but for some reason I never jumped to grim conclusions. Sally would turn up somewhere, even if she had to sleep out in the 45 degree drizzly night, which was warm for this time of year.

I finally drifted off into sleep again, and woke around 6 AM. Shortly thereafter, there was a voice on our just-arrived intercom: "What's Sally doing out here?"

RELIEF!

It turns out Sally went over to the cabin after I totally forgot she was outside. She went into the cabin when The Hermit woke up in the middle of the night, and slept with him in the twin bed. I did not even think of looking there.

But all is okay, I am thankful Sally is here, and she seems to harbor no ill feelings towards me for my act of outright neglect. I promise I will do better as a dog mom!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Post redirection

My daily post is up at Under the Blue Roof. I don't know if I will post here today, but I just wanted to let you know!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

in the company of swans, part 2

video

Trumpeter swans are very vocal birds. Even when they are loafing around on the water, they seem to constantly be talking to each other. I took this video mainly to record their sounds. Turn up the sound and enjoy!

Friday, November 20, 2009

in the company of swans, part 1

I am having problems uploading videos today. For now, let me tell y0u it was good. Nearly 50 trumpeter swans on a lake within ten miles of my house. Beautiful. I took tons of pictures, so beware!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

the need for stillness

How many people these days have daily moments of stillness in their lives? Moments when the phones are off, nothing is urgent, thoughts of today's or tomorrow's problems are silenced, and even the ever uttering words in the mind stop for a while?

What do you mean? You don't have words going through your mind every waking minute? Tell me what world you live in. I would love to be there.

At this moment I am simultaneously telling Mr. Attitude how to organize the contents of his backpack and find his homework, going over the details of parent teacher conferences in my mind (they were pretty good!), planning meals, thinking about bills to be paid (it's payday tomorrow), blogging, thinking about how lame this post is rapidly becoming, and hearing the noise of the TV in the background. I need to clear my head.

I did go running this afternoon around sunset, since I arrived home a bit earlier than normal. I wore a blaze orange fleece jacket just in case. Three more days of deer season. Running, besides all its great physical effects, helps me to get into a more meditative state and quiets my thoughts a bit. There was no wind, and I stopped once or twice so I would not hear my shoes on the gravel, and just listened to the stillness.

The Hermit went to Crooked Lake today, where a couple dozen trumpeter swans are still resting, and he said it was so still he could hear it whenever one of them fluffed its wings.

That's it, I am taking off early tomorrow and going there.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

starlings

Every day I see them. Two, maybe three, maybe five starlings. Perched on a wire where I turn onto the freeway, after dropping kids off at school, just another part of my daily commute.

I wonder what the starlings find attractive about that place. Maybe they like the noise of the freeway; they are noisy, mimicking birds themselves. I wonder if they wonder what all the traffic is for.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ack, I've been found out!

I have known for quite a while, from looking at hits on my Site Meter and doing my own test searches, that this site is one of the top sources for info on Lloyd LaPlant musical instruments, thanks to this post. LaPlant does not have his own Web site, nor does he need one; his reputation as a quality craftsman speaks for itself.

I'm still not used to the idea of people I know in "real life", whatever that means anymore, knowing my blogging side. Especially when I find out in rather unexpected ways. Like when today I picked up an incoming call at the office. I answered in my usual voice, and the caller hesitated, then asked "Do you know where I can find a LaPlant guitar?"

After I picked my jaw up off the floor I smiled. Someone was on to me. After a second or two, the caller identified himself; he is someone from our agency whom we work with fairly often, and I have talked with him on the phone many times. "You're on to me!" I said. He proceeded to explain how he'd been to a couple concerts recently, and heard about LaPlant instruments, and decided to look for information online, which led him to this blog. He somehow put two and two together and figured out it was me. I did not know he was into bluegrass, and we had a good conversation.

Call it coincidence, synchronicity, or whatever. As Albert Einstein said, "Coincidence is God's way of remaining anonymous." At any rate, that call sure made my day at work a bit more fun!

Monday, November 16, 2009

November driving home

There is something lonely about driving home from work this time of year. Work is, for me, a pretty lonely place in itself, so I spend the long day looking forward to going home. Then when I actually do go home, sunset arrives within minutes and the gray and dead grass landscape takes on the shades of twilight. I drive through town looking for comfort in the lights; if I stop at the grocery store maybe I see someone I know, maybe the guy who has bagged my groceries for seven years now, who has watched my kids grow up, the guy who will yell hello from across the parking lot. He does not know, some days I live for that kind of friendliness, and I am grateful that he gives it so freely.

I arrive home as the last of the light fades, greeted by the welcoming lights of the house and a fire in the wood stove. But I sit in the car for another minute or two because there is a song on the radio, an orchestral piece for which I once played the essential flute part. Faure's Pavane. I have had part of this tune in my head for a while now, and I am glad to finally hear the whole thing again!

Darkness falls so early in November. I retreat quickly to comfort, to pajamas and my rocking chair by the wood stove and flannel sheets. It's the longest time until spring, and for now we must seek warmth and light and the company of others.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

herbal tip of the day

So Mr. Attitude had a little meltdown yesterday morning. Actually I should say Mr. Attitude and I, because when all was said and done I was worn out and feeling like the most incompetent parent ever. It began over his tendency to be overly dramatic when he is losing at a video game. I reminded him to keep his voice down. He argued that I never yell at Calvin when Calvin overreacts to video games. Right then and there I should have realized it was a lose-lose situation. But I yelled too much, tried to reason too much, and probably only ended up escalating the situation.

Chamomile tea is known for its calming effects. I have given it to Mr. Attitude on one occasion, with impressive results. However, he is not particularly fond of drinking tea (what almost 8 year old boy is?). So try and make him drink tea, even if it is liberally sweetened with honey, when he is already in an agitated state...it turned into another power struggle in itself. I should have spiked the cup with vodka and drunk it myself; we both would have been happier.

It eventually was resolved, as these things are, and he is back to loving me in his alarmingly Oedipus way. But today I related my story in a comment on Madcap's blog, and she suggested maybe I should have used a "topical" application (with the wink smilie). Maybe it was too early, I was clueless, until a commenter from Scotland translated it into terms I could relate to:

"Chuck the tea on the wee bugger's head!"

Ha! That almost sounds like a line from one of those Irish tunes I've been playing on flute lately!

So, the lesson learned is: Chamomile tea is calming and relaxing. Especially when administered topically with excessive force! ;)

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Saturday the 14th

Not much new to say. I am not at the symphony tonight. I am not very used to driving out after dark, and I decided I am a homebody. I did get some flute practice in, and even got my octave mandolin out of its case. Now I'm just listening to some very good music on the radio.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday the 13th

It just occurred to me that I did not see one media reference today to the superstition-riddled date. Finally they may be catching on to the idea that we have grown beyond that fear. Or maybe it's just that our attention spans are so short that we don't even make the connection anymore.

Starflower was born very early in the morning on a Friday the 13th of August. She spent another sick day home from school, as did Mr. Attitude. The Hermit took Starflower to the doctor, where she received yet another strep throat diagnosis and penicillin shot. She seems to get strep pretty often. I'm glad she's feeling better now. As for Mr. Attitude, he was already on the mend but just needed one more day. Both of them will be spending a bit of time this weekend catching up on homework.

I worked late tonight making sure another Minnesota lake was well stocked with walleye fingerlings. I wonder about the efficacy of such an effort, but then again I like my paycheck enough to question too much for now.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

the power of dreams

Lately I'd like to know just when it was that I stopped believing anything was possible and started telling myself I wasn't good at stuff. What if I hadn't listened to myself at that point?

My mind is working differently these days. There's an energy now, something that tells me I can understand way more than I thought I ever could. I am reading books and essays that would have passed way over my head when I was in college. I am listening to in depth radio news programs and starting to comprehend the complex situations in nations like Afghanistan. I am thinking that even had I chosen an improbable career like investment banking, I could have been good at it. I could have been good at anything, with the possible exception of organic chemistry. And I may have even developed some intuitive understanding of molecules that I did not have before.

I have been listening to classical public radio more and more lately, and it has felt like a reunion with my old college flute playing days, even my young adult community orchestra days. I miss being a part of a Mahler or Schubert symphony. I entered college as one of the best flutists in the freshman class, but I lacked the confidence that I needed to take it to the next level. But I still have the skill. Now that I play mostly for fun, I'm sounding better than ever.

So now I have this crazy dream. There is a symphony orchestra in the nearest medium size city. Not a huge status thing for a classical musician, I think they probably all have day jobs as well, but they do have a pretty good reputation. I was just wondering...maybe if I start seriously practicing again, the next time they have auditions for a flute player...I could have what it takes. I just have to take myself seriously enough. But not too seriously; not being chosen would not be the end of the world. I don't have anything to lose by trying!

This orchestra also happens to be playing Beethoven's Ninth Symphony Saturday night. I found this out just a few days after I declared to myself that I want to hear an orchestra and choir perform that symphony live some day. Coincidence? Tickets start at $25, and I just might be taking myself to the symphony this weekend. :)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Crooked Lake

We went there looking for the swans. They were there, but hidden. November has its own kind of melancholy beauty.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

warm November days

The pond has had a skim of ice on it a couple of mornings, maybe even today, although I did not take a close look on the way back from bringing Starflower to meet the bus. It was 24 degrees, so it could have happened. But by afternoon, with the temperature approaching 60, the ice was most certainly gone. Sally enjoyed it.

I stayed home with Mr. Attitude today, since he had a fever and sore throat. It was one of those throats that makes you wince when you hear him cough or try to talk. He seemed better after I gave him a Ricola cough drop. (Can you hear the alpenhorn in the distance?) I made him homemade chicken soup for lunch, with fresh sage, garlic and thyme. I am becoming a firm believer in the healing powers of herbs and chicken soup. I'm sure no small part of it is the care and love that goes into making the soup. He is napping now. I'll probably keep him home tomorrow as well, since I have the day off anyway.

update- it looks as if Starflower and possibly Calvin may be joining us at home tomorrow. More chicken soup is on order!

Monday, November 09, 2009

homegrown spaghetti squash

Doesn't have the ring to it like "homegrown tomatoes", does it? But this is probably the week where I'll enjoy the last of the homegrown tomatoes and move on to more durable storage things, like squash.

I did not end up with a lot of winter squash from my garden this year. However, a coworker started leaving bags of produce at my desk, by my car, everywhere, and among them was an abundance of winter squash. Mostly butternut and acorn, which are delectable and good keepers. I have probably over fifty pounds of edible squash flesh in my pantry and I am grateful.

I did manage, however, to produce a few spaghetti squash. This was my first year growing them, and considering the other varieties I planted didn't justify their space in the garden, I am impressed at the productivity of the spaghetti variety.

I must take issue with the name thing. While, when cooked, they do produce strands of flesh that may resemble a pasta product, the flavor is much more sublime than noodles, which are really just an excuse to pour on the sauce. I would never overwhelm the delicate flavor of spaghetti squash with a heavy pasta sauce. A little butter and salt and pepper, maybe garlic will do just fine, thank you.

They are really easy to cook too. The hardest part is cutting one in half, which I may have to resort to a kitchen size chain saw for. Once it is cut, by whatever means, scoop out the seeds, then spread a little butter or olive oil over the halves, put some water in the bottom of the pan, and bake at 375 for about an hour. Then take a fork and tease out the strands of cooked squash. Season as desired. That's it. We had them with boneless pork chops and rotini tonight (just because Mr. Attitude will eat more of anything when it is served with pasta!)

Sunday, November 08, 2009

November woods

This morning, after the end of a brief rain storm that had interrupted Calvin's deer hunting, he asked me if I would like to see his hunting spot. I had absolutely nothing more important going on, so off we went.

I really don't get out in our woods often enough these days. This is a spot just south of the cabin, in a grove of white and red pine. There were signs of deer everywhere in the carpet of pine needles. Calvin was thinking of using the fallen pine as a blind.

Since I had last been to this area, which was roughly one or two months ago, this long deceased pine trunk had broken and fallen to the ground. I'm guessing it made quite a loud noise, if anyone was around to hear it. This tree had been dead for nearly as long as we have owned this land (15 years). Now the fungi and invertebrates and single celled creatures will do their work of turning the wood back into topsoil.

The air was still among the pines, fairly warm for November, and as we stood there silently a feeling of peace came over me. I wanted to just sit there, find a dry spot and sit with the trees for some time, try and reclaim some of what is lost when we stay away from the trees for too long. I want to go hunting now, if for nothing else than to just be outside.

While Calvin and I were enjoying the moment, I noticed this little spruce with a very obvious antler rub! Some of the branches were even sheared off. Calvin can't wait to get out there later this afternoon.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

rites of passage

Calvin finally went deer hunting today. He saw a doe, but knew she was too far away for him to get a good shot. He is sleeping over at the Man Cave tonight, going out first thing in the morning. I think he's hooked.

I think this is a very significant thing in the life of a young man. Far from being some kind of "get more kids exposed to hunting" thing, this is personal. He will always remember his first hunting experience.

I never had exposure to a hunting tradition in my family. My grandpa went deer hunting occasionally, but it was not a tradition that was passed along. I don't recall any hunting on my dad's side. I have only carried a gun occasionally, and I don't think I have ever successfully shot anything, though I have walked grouse trails and sat in a deer blind. I would like to shoot maybe one deer, for the meat, but perhaps that is something for another day.

As for another rite of passage, I took Starflower to Wal Mart (yuck) today to get some supplies for a school project. While we were there, she reminded me that maybe we needed to start looking at bras, since some of the girls in her class wear them and all that. Yeah. So when did they stop making "training bras" and start making push up bras for ten year olds? I did let her buy one, though I really don't think she needs it yet.

So why was I not in the deer stand with Starflower today? Tradition I guess. I can't expect her to learn what I never learned myself.

Friday, November 06, 2009

a few more walleye, and deer season

I'll admit, I did not sit down at the computer knowing what I was going to post, and I really don't feel like writing anything. I came home early with the vague feeling that something wasn't quite right with me. I even went into the living room and turned on Emeril, just because I could and I certainly wasn't going to go running. I took my temperature and it registered at 98.6, which for me is a full degree above normal. I don't even feel like drinking beer. Why does this have to happen on the weekend?

Maybe it's the mom guilt. Calvin was complaining of a scratchy throat when he woke up, which I reassured him would be fine once he drank something. Wood stoves tend to promote dry atmospheres. I insisted he go to school, partly because I was second guessing my decision to leave Mr. Attitude home yesterday, and partly because Calvin had spent a couple questionable sick days home already. I told him he could always go to the nurse's office if he wasn't feeling right.

Of course the school nurse called me at work a little after 9 AM. I had a work thing I could not get out of, but I called The Hermit and he could pick Calvin up. They ended up going to Duluth, getting Calvin's first ever deer license and eating a 1/3 pound burger for lunch. Sore throat indeed. But did I mention our immune systems seem to be functioning pretty well.

Meanwhile, I ended up driving over a hundred miles following a fish stocking truck around to several lakes. The state contracts out some of its walleye stocking to vendors now, but authorized personnel (me) have to be around when the fish go into the lake. I don't know what to think about fish stocking anymore, but I kind of like my paycheck. Which came today, hooray.

No music tonight. I'm thinking if I can just drag myself up to bed that will be enough. It is nice that we don't need a fire in the wood stove tonight since the temperature almost made 60 in the afternoon. It is nice that the weekend forecast shows more of the same. Of course, I never enjoy the first weekend of deer season around here. During my travels today I passed several bars, and the parking lots were extremely crowded for the time of day. The freeway was busy with citdiots and their trailers with four wheelers, and I'm even thinking running this weekend might be a bad idea. Ah, deer season.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

musical moments

I realized a long time ago that I am way over my head with musical instruments. Flute, mandolin, guitar, octave mandolin, banjo, and keyboard although I gave that to the kids. If I have an hour of consciousness between dinner and bedtime I am lucky to get some practice in. That is, if Starflower or Mr. Attitude are not practicing piano; then I try not to disturb them with my own plunkings. I really need to reclaim part of the MAN CAVE as my musical practice area.

Today I had an unexpected day home as Mr. Attitude had a sore throat, and I had promised him last night I would stay home with him if he was sick today. He wasn't that sick, and I have decided we must have superior immune systems around here, since the kids are never very sick! But still, I believe a day at home is better than a day at school if there is any doubt.

I took advantage of the morning by playing my flute. For some reason I felt like playing a tune I had heard, but never seen written in music. I found out quickly I could play the tune well. Then I listened to the recording I had first heard that tune on, and learned a couple more tunes. By the end of my practice session I had mastered a set of three tunes: Rosie Finn, Sean Bui, and The Kid On The Mountain. My thanks to The Bothy Band for the inspiration.

We also put up a new bird feeder hanger. Hopefully the feeders are up high enough now that cats can't get to them.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

updates about our house

I have not posted any updates about progress we have made on finishing our house lately. Mainly being because there have not been any. Financial stuff and all that. I don't think I ever posted about The Hermit being laid off in April. I saw it as a silver lining thing. After he accepted the job, things changed with the organization, and the job he was hired for was not the one he was expected to do under new management, which caused a great deal of stress. If he would have quit on his own, he would not be collecting the unemployment benefits, which last I heard are expected to be extended another 20 weeks.

So we are getting along with the unfinished way things are, grateful to have a roof over our heads with no mortgage. It will all happen eventually, and really I think we are so fortunate to be living where we are.

But the cabin is what I need to talk about. I never imagined that, after we moved out, it would become a MAN CAVE! Duck decoys everywhere, two bird dogs sleeping in kennels, and Major League Baseball channel on 24 hours a day. Sigh.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

entering the dark days

The one thing I like about the "fall back" to standard time is waking up after morning has broken. To me, there is something unnatural about waking in the wee hours of the morning when everything is dark.

Maybe that is just an issue of mine that goes back to the days when they still let kids have newspaper routes, and my brother subcontracted part of his route to me. The alarm would ring at 4:30 or some ungodly hour like that, and by 5 I would have my papers counted and loaded into a canvas delivery sack, and I hit the street. In the summer it wasn't so bad, but in the dark of fall and winter I don't know how I did it. Houses that looked questionable during daylight hours were terrifying in the dark. And Lord knows, if the wrong person knew that a sixteen year old girl was walking a paper route, showing up at the same place at a predictable time...the thought didn't cross my naive mind then, but I swear there must have been an angel watching over me.

I never think about the paper route days any more. Funny how something that was so much a part of my consciousness back then never even shows up in my dreams. But I still don't like getting out of bed before the break of dawn.

This morning there was a beautiful moon shining through the huge west-facing window by my bed. The nice thing about the dark side of the year is that the moon does not hide itself behind the pines in our southern view.

I forgot to mention in my beach post, during the Wednesday drive I saw my first small flock of snow buntings for the season.

And now, totally off topic, why am I suddenly getting so many blog hits for the search terms "ugliest flower ever"?

Monday, November 02, 2009

November daily blog challenge

It's Madcap's fault. My longtime blogging friend from Alberta decided to challenge herself to post every day in November. That was good news to me, since I enjoy her writing and her bold determination to go after the life she and her family want. So I commented with my approval, and added the idea that maybe I should take up the challenge myself. She was enthusiastic about the idea, so I'm in!

It's not that I have a paucity of ideas to write about. On the contrary, my brain has been in overdrive lately. Call it an awakening, a spiritual shift in consciousness, or whatever. My main obstacle to writing lately has been the need to wrestle my preteen kids for computer time. Oh for a laptop.

Tonight I capped off my 2009 gardening effort by canning 7 pints of salsa. When you consider I harvested most of my tomatoes in the fully green stage since they didn't ripen on schedule in this incredibly cool summer and I had to rescue them from frost, 7 pints plus a lot of slicers is a respectable yield. Overall I had a good gardening year, considering it was cooler than normal AND I had a doe who was attracted to certain crops. Payback time is coming... But I had great harvests of garlic and onions, carrots did well, and I grew more kale and Swiss chard than I could eat. I even had a fairly good crop of potatoes, though I decided my 4x4 raised potato beds need to go for two reasons: I can grow potatoes just as well in the 4x8 beds, and the kids need more space for their baseball field. :) As for canned goods, I have blueberry, raspberry, and strawberry jam, crabapple jelly, chicken broth, and zucchini pickles. I canned more this year than I have in a long time.

We are entering the season of long dark, accentuated by the change back to standard time. It's nice to wake up to a setting full moon in the first rays of daylight, but depressing to realize sunset happens when I arrive home.

Well, this is a start. If I'm going to be rambling about stuff every day this month, I better not let too much out at once. :)

Sunday, November 01, 2009

lonely beach in October

On Wednesday and Friday of last week I was out of the office and on the road for work. I don't mind a 100 mile drive by myself once in a while. It's a chance to turn on the public radio news channel, or sometimes turn the radio off and just enjoy the quiet and the scenery. In order to get to and from where I was going, I had to drive around the shore of Mille Lacs, one of Minnesota's largest lakes.

On Wednesday the wind was out of the southeast, creating waves that splashed against the shore. I listened to the soothing sound for a few minutes, and I was reminded of other shores, other waters.

This beach on the north shore of the lake is a state-owned Aquatic Management Area, open to public fishing, swimming, birding, walking, contemplating, or whatever. Mille Lacs is one of the few lakes in this part of Minnesota that is big enough to have the wave action to form a natural beach, and there are very few stretches of beach along the lake that are undeveloped, in a natural state.

On Friday I drove through light rain for the first part of the day. When I stopped at the beach, the sun was just beginning to break through the clouds and mist. After I had turned away from the lake and was headed east, the wind came up, sending a storm of oak leaves and tamarack needles through the sky.

I saw very few shorebirds or waterfowl, but I did get this photo. I was carrying only my camera, not my binoculars, so I did not even see the details of this gull until I downloaded the photos. Bonaparte's?