Sunday, November 30, 2014

I Missed a Chance

I missed a chance to be kind yesterday. I waited for a parking place, slowly pulled half way in, and a car came barreling in from the other side and pulled right into it also. I slammed on my brakes; he did not. He kept coming until he touched my bumper and then just sat there, challenging me with his eyes. I sat there for a few heartbeats, too, knowing I was in the right and half expecting him to mouth "sorry" and back up. He didn't. I did.

He drove a beat-up old car, obviously an immigrant, and young. A sad looking woman was hunched beside him. As I said, I was in a hurry, I felt threatened and ticked off, and I'm sure my face did not look happy and pleasant. I parked in the next row and got out and they sat in their car watching me. I looked back from the door of the store and they were still sitting in the car, watching me.

As I said, I missed a chance to be kind. I wish I had smiled and backed out gracefully, I wish I had walked over and handed them the 50% off coupon I had in my hand. Maybe they would have enjoyed their shopping and passed the kindness along.


Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving Day

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday, a whole day set apart to relax, consider our blessings, and be thankful. What could be more heartwarming than that?

I had planned to drive to my sister's house, almost 300 miles away, but a snowstorm yesterday changed my plans. Instead I will be having dinner with my daughters and their families tonight.

Along with the snow yesterday, the weatherman is also bringing us the coldest Thanksgiving Day in 30 years. When I got up this morning, my window thermometer showed -2 degrees F ( -19 C) and there was frost on the inside of the windows.

It has been my tradition to do a hike in the morning, before the family is up, before I start cooking dinner. Some years the weather has been quite warm and I've only needed a jacket. Today I was bundled up from head to toe in my warmest down parka, fleece pants, hood, scarf, and two layers of mittens.

A beautiful walk to think my grateful thoughts, so many things to be thankful for!


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Cathedral of St Paul


Last Friday I got to meet another blogger from Minnesota, and she took me on a tour of the Cathedral of St Paul. Goodnight Gram knows a lot about it because she used to be a tour guide there.


I took the train into our capital city and we met for the first time at the station. You can just see the State Capitol in the distance.

We found each other easily, but I have to say, GNG looks nothing like her picture on her blog!


It was a very cold day when we headed for the cathedral on the highest hill in St Paul, Summit Hill. The cathedral was finished in 1915 and looks out over the city. It has a 120 foot wide copper dome and lantern on top that make it visible for miles around.











Inspired by French cathedrals, it has many beautiful features inside. I only had my phone with me, and my photos don't do it justice, especially the colors.


Here we are looking up 175 feet to the ceiling of the dome. Each of the windows are stained glass and we had to view them with binoculars.

These brass grilles between marble pillars surround the back of the sanctuary. GNG got to squeeze in a little tour-guiding for some other curious folks, too.



The altar was designed by the same person who designed Grand Central Station in New York.


The bronze canopy above honors the life of St Paul.














One last intriguing bit of history, this is a block from Rouen Castle, where Joan of Arc was imprisoned in the tower in 1431 before her trial, in Rouen, France! It's set into the wall of a shrine to St Teresa at the side of the cathedral.







GNG gave me the sweetest gift. A few years ago, the exterior dome copper roof was removed and replaced, and pieces of it were sold to the public.


I'm going to have a hole drilled and wear it as a necklace.



I'm so glad I had this opportunity to meet another blogging friend. And I'm hoping we can get together again and enjoy some more Minnesota adventures.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Fa La La La La -- My Kind of Shopping


Unless you love Walmart, shopping can be limited in a small town these days. So, holidays present an opportunity for the local churches to get in on the Christmas tradition of good cheer and spending money. I love to shop at these. They have unique gifts, support the local economy, and there is a sweet spirit there that is nothing at all like Black Friday shopping in the chain stores.

They have all sorts of names. "Bazaar" is kind of an old-fashioned one, but still popular in the older churches.











Most of the traditional items are made by the older ladies of the church. They get together all year long to stitch and sew, share news and "have coffee." (Having coffee always involves baked goods.)

My mom is one of these ladies.



She helps with quilts like these.









I liked this one a lot, and I think my grandsons would, too. They do love quilts. Fortunately (because they cost a lot of money) there were only two and I have four grandsons, so they stayed on the rack for someone else to take home.







There are always some Minnesota items, for sending to those poor unfortunates who have moved elsewhere, or gone South for the winter. Poor things.







I bought a zebra puppet for a certain tiny boy. There were about 10 choices when I started making my decision but they were being snatched up so fast, I just grabbed the zebra before they were all gone. He'll love it!








I bought some of these for myself, including several kinds of milkweed for the Monarch butterflies.






Lots of men hanging out here. They succumbed to the smell of coffee and cinnamon. That and shopping fatigue, I think.









And in case you have any money left, you can't get out the door without passing all this! It included all the Norwegian Christmas traditions like rosettes and krumkake, and everyone leaving seemed to have a plate of something in one hand.






I actually bought several more things, but family and friends read my blog and I don't want to give away any of Santa's surprises. Wink, wink.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Reflections -- Three Thoughts for Thursday

Past and present meet in Stockholm, Wisconsin

When people think about Internet social media, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are what come to mind. Not blogs. It is a surprise to me in my one year of retirement how meaningful and even precious blogs and the bloggers who write them have become. I have been lucky enough to meet one of them in person and share some time with her in her part of England, and I will meet another tomorrow, right here in my own state. I can't wait!

Thanks to blogs, we are able to share our daily life, thoughts, and feelings with others all over the world. How amazing is that for someone who remembers snail mail penpals whose letters took weeks to travel both ways? And I am amazed at the talents and wisdom bloggers from all different walks of life and places on the globe share every day.

With Thanksgiving only a week away, I find myself filled with gratitude for things like bloggy friends, so for today's Reflections, I thought I would share three recent short gems of wisdom from blogs I read.


"It’s OK to create the life that speaks to you as an individual. You do not need (nor will you probably ever get) the approval of others to be yourself and to love what you love, so just do it… and let everyone else do it too."

-Mary Muncil, White Feather Farm


I know that not everyone will understand my choices. And that’s okay. I know that my love is not always received, often not even understood. And that’s okay. I know that so much of what seemed important, decades ago, has faded into obscurity now. And that’s okay. I know that even those who love me most will at times disappoint me. And that’s okay.

- Joss Burness, Crowing Crone


" I don’t believe in 'thinking' old. Although I’ve transitioned through many bodies—a baby, toddler, child, teen, young adult, mid-life and older adult—my spirit is unchanged. I support my body with exercise, my mind with reading and writing, and my spirit with the knowing that I am part of the Divine source of all life. Don’t program yourself to break down as you age with thoughts that 'decline is inevitable.' Time may be passing for our bodies, but because they house our ageless souls, we never need to see ourselves as old and infirm."

-John Katz, Bedlam Farm

Monday, November 17, 2014

Mazeppa Creamery

In days gone by every little town in Minnesota had its own creamery, a cooperative of dairy farmers to transport and sell their product.

A set of circumstances -- the economic situation following World War I, butter substitutes gaining popularity, and the entry of butter imported from Denmark -- saw milk prices falling at an alarming rate. Farmers had to band together to save their farms.

Creameries are unassuming boxy buildings with an unmistakable look. This one, which came about in 1919, is in Mazeppa.


Most of the old creameries have disappeared from the landscape and the buildings that remain sit empty.

I love that Mazeppa has found a new use for the building, and they have even saved the old advertising sign for Mazeppa butter.


The land in this area was occupied by Sioux Indians when the town was settled and I suppose that's where their butter logo came from. Mazeppa was named after the poem of the same name by the British poet Lord Byron, but I think the Indian maiden probably sold more butter than Lord Byron's face would have.


I'm lucky enough to live near enough to an old creamery to buy my dairy products. The cream is twice as thick and the milk and cheese cheaper and fresher than the grocery store. If I go early in the morning, there are a few farmers sitting at the dairy bar eating donuts and shooting the breeze.

Thanks for reading my blog today. I love to read your comments and I will be by to visit your blog in return.



Saturday, November 15, 2014

Reflections -- Flower Child Years

I was driving on a country road the other day, and toodling on ahead of me was a Blast from the Past that made me smile and sigh.

I, too, had a VW van of this vintage that took me many wonderful places. The middle seats were removed and an air mattress became a safe and comfy bed.

My dad built a cupboard "kitchen" that opened when you lifted up the back door. The door of the wooden cupboard folded down and became a little table.


Mine was forever breaking down and leaving me stranded. I loved it nevertheless.


There was always a long line of cars behind us on hills, but we chugged along at a driving pace that let you look around and enjoy the scenery.




I only have slides of my VW and no way to put those onto my computer. I do have a few actual photos from that era, though.

My first years of teaching, living in an old farmhouse in Wisconsin



Living in the NC mountains, with goats and sheep and chickens, teaching in a small, rural elementary school in Appalachia













Traveling in the summers, this time to Arizona
















The van was eventually replaced by a Bug and the summer travels continued.










Camping on the beach, waiting to buy shrimp from the shrimp boats in Charleston, SC.
















Backpacking in the Smoky Mountains


Remember Granny Glasses?

And now, here I am, a real granny!

How did that happen?


Wednesday, November 12, 2014

London Animals in War Memorial


There is an unusual war memorial in London on a traffic island outside Hyde Park that I found beautiful and moving. It is the Animals in War Memorial, unveiled in 2004, commemorating all the animals that have served in 20th century wars beside the human soldiers.






All types of animals that have served are represented, from dogs, birds, and horses to camels and elephants.

"They had no choice."

These two halves of a semicircle with an opening at the center form the front.








This dog, called Sargeant Gander, served in World War II. He died by grabbing a grenade about to explode and saved the lives of several Canadian soldiers.



From the back of the memorial, looking through at the pack animals in the front



Animals at the back of the memorial

The horse seems to lead the animals into eternity, the dog looking back at the donkey and pony coming from the front of the memorial. It's beautifully done art, thought-provoking and moving.