Tag Archive | photography

America the Beautiful

Today is the last day of Macy’s annual flower show in downtown Minneapolis.  This year’s theme is America the Beautiful.  There are displays of flowers or plant life from every region of the United States.  As usual, the scenes were beautiful.

Bachman’s replaces some of the flowers, such as Daffodils, Hyacinths and Tulips, to keep the flowers looking fresh.  Each year, more than 65,000 people visit, and it’s always on my list of things to do in the spring.  Seeing the flowers gives us hope for our gardens as we wait for flowers to bloom.

Earth laughs in flowers.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

No Crumbs Were Left Behind

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For Christmas, my husband surprised me with a gift of a weekend getaway for both of us at the Ann Bean Mansion in Stillwater. As the temperatures dropped, my vision of wandering around Stillwater to shop sunk like the rapidly decreasing temperatures. We knew it was going to be a hibernating sort of weekend, and we decided it would be a great time to hang out in a mansion instead of being cooped up at home.  Besides, it gave us a reason to be lazy and just relax, which is always nice.

Before we went to the mansion, we stopped at Pub 112 in downtown Stillwater for dinner.  To warm my bones, I had a Sunburnt Nutty Irishman which is made with Tullamore Dew, Frangelico, Bailey’s Irish Cream, River Moon Coffee and topped with whipped cream.  I also ordered the Guinness Beef Stew.  The beef was tender and accompanied by root vegetables, peas, mushrooms, fresh herbs and topped with baby red mashed potatoes.  The green stuff that adorned the plate tasted like kale.  When I asked the waitress what it was, she confirmed my suspicion and said it was deep-fried.  The crisp kale was different prepared that way, and I wondered if all the nutrients got fried away too.  As I savored each bite, hubby enjoyed his burger.  After we cleaned our plates, we were off to find the mansion which was just a short trip away.

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When we entered the place, it felt warm and cozy even though the entryway is quite large.  We were greeted by Jeremy, the innkeeper.  Jeremy and Erin, a husband and wife team, have been innkeepers since 2004.  Jeremy told us that the mansion was built in 1880, and he escorted us to the Hersey room.  Mr. Hersey was part owner of Hersey, Bean and Brown Lumber just when the town of Stillwater was getting settled.  To read more about the history of the mansion, click here.

Jeremy brews his own beer and told us about the never-ending supply of warm chocolate chip cookies that can be found in the dining room.  After we got settled, we ventured off to find the cookies with melted chocolate chips.  We had to restrain ourselves from visiting that room too much, but we did go there a few times!

We explored the living room, and I took these photos.

I enjoyed looking at the antiques and the beautifully carved woodwork that surrounded the rooms.

Mr. Hersey’s room, below, was quite large and is heated by a fireplace.

Looks like someone forgot their shoes!

That night, besides eating cookies, we lounged, watched TV, and I browsed through the History of Stillwater where I discovered that Mr. Hersey was quite the lumberman. It was very quiet even though we heard other guests come and go every once in a while. I was surprised that the old windows in the building didn’t make the place too drafty, but closing the shades helped a lot.  The still night turned into a peaceful morning.

We had breakfast in our room, but guests do have the option of eating in the dining room, if they’re feeling social that is!  Somebody knocked at our door, and left a sumptuous tray of food without being seen.  No crumbs were left behind at this meal either!

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Menu:
Merlot Poached Pears with Yogurt and Granola
Cheddar Gougere with Tomato Jam
Buckwheat Blini with Dutch Apple Compote and Sausage
Peach Mango Crumble

St. Michael's

Thankfully, our old van turned right over even though the temperature was still below zero.  We visited the Church of St. Michael for mass a few blocks away.  We got to explore another beautiful old building that is one of the oldest parishes in Minnesota that was built in 1853.

We had such a nice and relaxing time, we’re thinking about going back again when the weather gets warmer or maybe we’ll go when it’s below zero again…

Hanging On . . .

While on walks at the preserve with Lila our dog this fall, I snapped a few pictures.  Seeing some of the leaves still hanging on during mid-November was quite a change to what we’re used to in Minnesota – our fall weather was so nice this year.  Now that Mr. Frost has visited us, almost all of the leaves are resting on the ground waiting for the snow to fall.

In autumn, don’t go to jewelers to see gold; go to the parks! ~Mehmet Murat ildan

With the Light

Camp Fire

The stack of logs was perfectly arranged. Each one stood at an angle resting on its neighbor like a stack of playing cards waiting to be made into a house.  A match was struck to the tinder below.  We watched as sparks slowly ignited.  As each spark grew to a flame, each log became part of the fire.  The smoke gently blew towards me but quickly jumped to make another route.  The smoky trail chased away the ones in its path.  They moved to breathe in the more pristine air that was untouched by what the flames left behind.

I watched the tiny fragments that fell away from the log. The fire embraced the embers surrounding it inside and out.  Even though it burns, the ember doesn’t disappear quickly.  It sits and waits as if it enjoys the hot flame.  Does it know the beautiful colors it’s made by being with the light?  Deep red and orange flickers travel up towards the sky to make a yellow glow.  That light illuminated the pine trees that surrounded us and sprang towards the sky.  I imagined the glimmering tower of brightness could be seen in the darkness from many miles away.

“Look how beautiful the fire is now,” I said to my family. I grabbed my camera to take a picture.  Just before I was ready to snap a photo, the stack crumbled.  We giggled at the timing.  I didn’t get the perfect picture I hoped to get.  Even though the stacks of firewood fell in a pattern of their own, it still made a pretty picture.

This post was inspired by Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop:  Write a blog post inspired by the word “light.”  Check out other blog posts by clicking on the link below. 

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Happy Birthday, Kona – One Year Old!

Dear Kona,

When I first met you, you were a little fluff of beautifully colored fur. Your little eyes peeked at us through heavy eyelids. As you walked a few steps and found a boot to sleep on, we wondered if you thought it was one of your brothers or sisters. We knew you missed them.  After a short nap, you woke up to make a very small puddle on the carpeting in your new home. You looked at us again like you wondered if that was okay. I knew then that you would learn what you needed to know because German Shepherds are smart, and you live with good teachers.

After you grew a lot and spring arrived, you were no longer carried into our house like a little baby, but entered like a bountiful bunch of energy.  The afternoon you came to stay at our house, we spent our time together in the backyard. I fastened your collar to a rope that was secured around our maple tree. Lila had her rope too. I spent most of the afternoon untangling both of you. You watched me plant zinnias in a garden you couldn’t reach because the rope was too short (for a reason), and I swear you barked a warning to me that bees were buzzing about my head because that was the only noise I could hear. I knew then that you would be a good watch dog.

Kona and Lila

After I planted the flowers, I grabbed the hose. The hose unraveled as I walked with it over to the garden. When I turned on the water, you pawed at the liquid like it was a new creation. You whinnied and whined and tried to get a drink. I knew then that you could make an adventure out of something ordinary.

When you came into our house and the water bowl was empty, you pounded on it with your paw to let us know you needed more. After I brought you back to your own house, you showed me where your treats were by standing patiently in front of the cupboard in the kitchen. I knew then that you would always be a good communicator.

Kona on the Front Steps

Whenever someone you know comes to your house for a visit, you make them feel very welcome. You murmur several greetings or maybe you sound like a hyena. It seems like you greet certain people in different ways, either with a tall hug, a nudge with your nose, or an accident on the floor. When this happens, we know you love us!

It’s been a fun year getting to know you.  I’ve enjoyed the walks we’ve gone on with Laura and Lila around the preserve, Lake Harriet, or the dog park.  I can always tell when you’re ready for a break by how you sit by the water bowl.  Sometimes I wonder if any water ever ends up where you want it to go!

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I know you’ve learned a lot in a short time, but don’t forget that you’re very lucky to have these two to love!  They’ve done a great job of taking care of you, kept you out of dangerous situations, and helped shape the delightful dog you are today.

Laura, Mike and Kona

Laura, Michael, and Kona
Spring 2015

Love, (You know me as) Your Grandma 🙂

 Kona and me Jan 15 2015

To Keep Them

Not changing something is sometimes a relief. For instance, the grapevine that was planted in our garden before we arrived will stay. My husband and I have often talked about whether or not we should tear it out, but the backdrop of leaves makes a pretty sight, acts like a canopy behind the flowers, and it gives us some privacy. We have to watch our grapevine closely and cut away any little tentacles that reach out to wrap themselves around innocent flowers. When their direction gets changed that way, the vines grow to take a trip along a neighboring tree. They stretch and climb as far as they can. We let it go along the trees because we know it will be fine once freezing temperatures arrive. It’s too bad that other things live in the grapevine and are causing problems.

Last spring, I planted a tray of multicolored zinnias among the daffodils, irises, and yellow-four-o’clock flowers. As I checked the zinnias each day, I noticed some sort of insect got ahold of their leaves and worried they wouldn’t blossom and mature as they should. After they were planted, of course, I read zinnias like to have a lot of breathing space, plus it didn’t help that little bugs live in the grapevine. I hoped the zinnias would take over when the other flowers settled down. Now the coneflowers and phlox are making a grand appearance in our little garden – our treasure that’s stuck in the corner of our yard as if it’s our own little secret. There are times when I look at other gardeners neatly manicured show places and wonder what went wrong with our little potpourri. Even though theirs are perfection, our garden is more true to life, I think. It’s squished, has blemishes, craves attention, but is beautiful at the same time.

We could thin it out as we should, but we want to keep those flowers, just like we want to keep the grapevine. Almost all of the flowers made their beginning in my mom’s garden. Mom shared with us her daffodils, irises, four-o’clock flowers (which are all done blooming now), and coneflowers. Mom would probably laugh at how I’m taking pictures of flowers all the time because it used to drive me crazy the way she had Dad take pictures of all her little beauties. Now I know it’s another way to keep them since soon the cold weather will take them away.

Next year, we hope to expand the garden out a couple of feet, install a new border, and get rid of the decaying railroad ties that now frame our mixture of blossoms. I hope to plant zinnias or some hardier flower in the expanded spot. Hopefully they will be able to breathe there. We’ll also have to figure out how to trap the pesky pests.

Thankfully, the zinnias are doing better than expected but not looking as good as some of the neighbors. Talking and whispering sweet little nothings to them on a daily basis has helped. 🙂 If things go well, I hope to make another garden in the other corner of the yard.  Maybe if there were more flowers in our yard, our garden wouldn’t seem like such a secret.  I’d like to separate out some of the flowers and plant them in the new garden because I want to keep them.  Then, when the time is right, I’ll share those little beauties just like Mom did!

Weed it and reap. ~Gardening Saying