Thursday, February 27, 2014

Polar Vortex, Be Gone!

It was -19 degrees F this morning, -28 degrees C.
I drove past a sign in front of a florist shop that said, "Fight the Polar Vortex With Flowers."  These are from my garden last summer, enhanced with a new app called Waterlogue.  
This is the original photo.  I love watercolors and I thought it would be fun to turn some of my photos into that medium.
I hope you all feel warmer now. 

Thanks for reading my blog.  Your comments are warmly appreciated.  :-)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


    Caught red-handed! (Or gray-pawed maybe?)

 The day after I rehung the birdfeeders, this guy was back at itThe squirrels have their own feeder with ears of corn to chew on, too, and this is the thanks I get! 

  If the feeders come down again, nobody gets seeds until some of this snow melts away.  There's no way to set up the ladder.  

Another round of snow coming tonight.  Sigh . . . .


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Say YES!

   It's taken awhile to come up with the right one, but I finally picked my word for the year a couple weeks ago.  And the word is . . .
   I can always think of a million reasons not to do something or to try something, and sometimes get paralyzed and stuck right there.  Next thing you know, the opportunity has passed by and I'm left standing right where I was.  I need some practice at saying . . .

"For all that has been, Thank you.
For all that will be, Yes!"
Dag Hammarskjold, Secretary General of the United Nations


Friday, February 21, 2014

Walkin' In a Winter Wonder-Land

  And what am I wondering?  When this winter will quit!
Nine more inches of snow fell yesterday, on top of ice and freezing rain.  Schools are closed again, of course.  These are the feeders I rehung yesterday.

I won't be shovelling out the back gate. Spring can do that job.  There is a huge drift on the other side.

The mailboxes on the road are buried and knocked askew by the force of the snow as the plow comes around the curve.

Before the latest deluge I measured the snow on the flat and came up with an average of 18 inches.  18" + 9" yesterday = 26".  Where the snow has drifted it is much deeper than that.
So what's it doing in your neck of the woods today? Are you snowshoeing, paddling in floods and rain, basking in the sun?  Do tell! 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Tree Rats Strike Again

   Some of you might remember this scene from my garden from last summer.

St. Francis on his head, the birdbath broken.

Well, the culprits are back at it.  I saw two squirrels chasing each other around yesterday morning and next thing I knew, my cleverly "squirrel-proofed" bird feeders had bit the dust.  Er, snow. 


Repairing the damage meant shoveling out a place to put the ladder legs.  The snow is 18 inches deep on the flat, which means it is over the top of my knee high boots.  I use snowshoes to get to the compost pile.  Anyway, as you can see, the feeders are back in the air so the cardinals don't have to stand in the snow to get their safflower and sunflower seeds.
We'll see how long before the tree rats get the urge to gnaw on rope again. 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Spring in My Step

   Even though there are mountains of snow outside and a blizzard is predicted for Thursday, today it feels like spring might really return someday!  It has warmed up a bit and there is a certain smell in the air, the smell of old snow almost ready to melt.
This is the way spring looks in my dreams!
(taken in the gardens in Hyde Park, London, 9.20.13)

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Counting My Blessings

1. The sun is out!
2. I was (mentally anyway) getting ready to go out and shovel the 4 inches of snow we got yesterday and I heard my neighbor's snowblower comng across the road!
3. Yesterday morning I stopped to get a cup of coffee at Caribou.  The father of three of my previous students was there and insisted on buying mine!
4. There is still plenty of snow on the patio and the paths out to the bird feeder and compost heap for me to get my exercise.
5. I discovered a whole 'nother source of free books for my iPad!
5. I still have a mom to send me valentines.
6. Last but not least, my twin grandsons celebrated their 5th birthday Saturday and they wanted their Nana at the party for their "friends"!
                         My TWINkies

Thanks for reading my blog.  What blessings you are counting today?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy LOVE Day!

On this day of hearts and flowers, I thought I'd share some treasured Valentine cards. They have been around for awhile, but the sentiments are ageless.  So, some oldies but goodies:

"Every Good Wish Be Yours,"  1912, to my grandma from "Ma and Pa"

"Will she accept my token?  She'll smile I know, Had I the words but spoken: I'll be your beau."  Grandma's but with no signature on the back!  Hmmm ... a mystery.
Another mystery:  to my aunt from "Gerald".  No one in the family remembers Gerald, and we found it in the attic after she died, so we can't ask my aunt. 
And my favorite:
To my dad, serving in World War II in the Pacific Front from his aunt, uncle, and cousins back home.  I can only imagine how much it meant to him to get this Valentine.
Happy Valentine's Day to my bloggy friends!  May love be abundant in your life, today and always.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

My Besetting Vice

"For the born traveller, travelling is a besetting vice.  Like other vices, it is imperious, demanding its victim's time, money, energy and the sacrifice of comfort." 
Thomas Nashe
Well, I think that describes me.  I had worked and saved my money for several years before my first solo trip abroad in the fall of 1979.  I traveled the UK for three months, hiked much of Hadrian's Wall, crossing England east to west in the North, and made my way over most of the miles between Land's End in the south and John O'Groats on the north coast of Scotland.  I also traveled for a month in Ireland and Northern Ireland. What an adventure it was!   

InI flew into London where I bought a bus pass that allowed me to travel all over the UK, but much of my travel was on foot.  I slept and ate in Youth Hostels and carried a far-too-large backpack with my belongings.  My first stop was Hexham, where I began my walk on Hadrian's Wall. This bit is Vindolanda, a Roman fort built in 80 AD. 

The hostels I stayed in were amazing.  This one, right on Oban Bay in Scotland, was filled with beautiful details of colored and etched glass, a few feet from the sea with a gorgeous view.

In a hostel in Scotland I met Hiroshi and Marie.  Sometimes we traveled together, sometimes we arranged to meet at a hostel in a day or two. Hiroshi spoke Japanese and a little English (very little!), Marie spoke French and a little English, and I spoke English and a little French. It made for many laughs and a few misunderstandings.

Walking alone, heading north for John O'Groats, there were more sheep than people...

and such glorious scenery.  I wrote in my journal, "Blackberries, a cat to pet, chickens, a pony I fed cookies, black and pink rocks, mustard colored lichens--the photos I would take are huge, too big for a camera, filled with smells and winds and sounds.  10-14-79"
I didn't quite make it to John O'Groats. I ran out of food, youth hostels, and transportation (my boot and sole parted company), and had to turn back.

Another beautiful hostel, this one in Ayr, Scotland, with stained glass, leaded glass, an archway inside with panels of beautiful paintings, wood parquet floors.  Why would anyone stay in a hotel?  Well...there is the noise....
At the end of October, I took an overnight ferry from Stranraer in Scotland to Belfast, Ireland.  I'll finish the rest of the journey in another post.
If one has travelled, "...wherever one is, some part of oneself remains on another continent."  Dame Margot Fonteyn
And so, a piece of my heart remains forever in England, Scotland, and Ireland!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Romanovs--The Museum of Russian Art

   The Russian Romanovs seems an unlikely subject for me to be interested in, and truthfully, I wasn't.  Much.  But yesterday I had an opportunity to see an exhibit at the Museum of Russian Art in Minneapolis and I decided to go for it.  I'm glad I did!  The docent tour was an hour and a half long, during which we moved 30 feet.  So many interesting stories, and there's nothing I like more than a story. 
No photos allowed.  That always irks me.  If I paid my money, I want some memories.  My brain doesn't store them as well as it used to (my theory--and I'm sticking to it-- is, it's getting full!), so I need photos to help me out. 
Here is the museum.  It's in an old, outgrown church that looks nothing like other churches in Minnesota.  I think it's called mission style. 

This is the marquee for the exhibit.  It says, "The Romanovs, Legacy of an Empire Lost," with a photo of the last Romanov czar and his family.
Yup, that's the family that was murdered, their bodies mysteriously lost for many years.  And several funny old ladies over the years have claimed to be the youngest daughter, Anastasia, still alive and ready to resume her rightful place in history.

(Photo from Wikipedia) 
Of interest to me were some items found in a cave in the forest where the Romanovs were secretly buried.  These include the false teeth of the doctor who was executed by the Bolsheviks along with the family.  A single earring belonging to Mrs. Romanov and a few other things were also found in the cave. Another moving display was some of the clothing of the beautiful young daughters on a manikin, including a handmade slip with initials sewn into the waistband.  That made the sadness so real to me, almost as if you could reach out and touch the girl who lost her life so tragically young.

I'll leave you with this beautiful window I spotted on the side of the museum.  I bet the amber and blue colors are gorgeous when lit up and glowing from the inside.
Thank you for reading my blog.  I enjoy reading your comments.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Walking Home

        A favorite poet, a favorite poem . . . .

                    Walking Home from Oak-Head
                                                             by Mary Oliver
There is something
  about the snow-laden sky
    in winter
      in the late afternoon
that brings to the heart elation
  and the lovely meaninglessness
    of time.
      Whenever I get home--whenever--
somebody loves me there.
    I stand in the same dark peace
      as any pine tree,
or wander on slowly
  like the still unhurried wind
      as for a gift,
for the snow to begin
  which it does
    at first casually,
      then, irrepressibly.

Wherever else I live--
  in music, in words,
    in the fires of the heart,
      I abide just as deeply
in the nameless, indivisible place,
  this world
    which is falling apart now,
     which is white and wild,
which is faithful beyond all our expressions of faith,
  our deepest prayers.
    Dont worry, sooner or later I'll be home.
      Red-cheeked from the roused wind,
I'll stand in the doorway
  stamping my boots and slapping my hands,
    my shoulders
      covered with stars.
Thank you for reading my blog.  What's your favorite February poem?

Monday, February 3, 2014

A Hard-Working Door

   Outside the Chapter House at Westminster Abbey is a simple door. You might not give it a second look if it didn't have an obvious sign in front of it.
   For nearly a thousand years, the door has opened and closed on business of life in Westminster Abbey.  It is Britain's oldest door, and the only Anglo Saxon door still in existence.  It was placed here during the reign of Edward the Confessor, founder of the church, in the 1050s. 
   The heavy door is made from one oak tree which experts say grew between AD 924 and 1030.  It is 6 1/2 feet high (shortened from an original 9 feet) and 4 feet wide, and made in five panels. 
   At one time the door had a leathery cover which for many years was thought to be of human skin.  Supposedly someone committed a crime within the abbey in the Middle Ages, and his skin hung on the door to deter others with similar inclinations!  After modern tests, the fragments were found to be cowhide.
   The door opens into the vestibule of the Chapter House where monks met to pray and discuss the day's work in the 13th century.  Parliament met in the Chapter House in the 14th century, and now religious documents are stored there.

The Cloisters, Westminster Abbey.  The door is recessed on the left.
   When the Abbey was rebuilt by Henry III (who felt it wasn't grand enough!) in the mid-1200s, no expense was spared and nearly everything was replaced . . . except, for some reason, this simple door No one knows why this door alone remains.  
   If for no other reason, maybe as witness to those who have come to this place for almost a thousand years with their prayers, petitions, hopes, and fears, commoners and royalty, the exultant and the bereft, to find solace, and to feel a little closer to heaven. 

Thank you for reading my blog.  I love to read your comments and will make a visit to your blog in return.

Joining Our World Tuesday at

Saturday, February 1, 2014

This, That, and the Other

   It was so good to get out of the house today!  Other than short bouts of shoveling, it's been too cold to do anything but run between house and car, car and grocery store, and hurry home.  So far we have not only had frigid cold, but also the 7th snowiest December-January on record.  This is my driveway this afternoon.
The snow piles are so tall, it's hard to throw the snow on top and too many times, a big shovel full slides right back down into the drive.  We had four more inches Thursday, which I just finished shoveling this afternoon.
Parking lots are so full of snow, you can't see around them to pull out into traffic.  Same with street corners.

I was excited to find a few new foods I can eat, especially something that crunches.  I'm so hungry for crunch!  In my never-ending quest for the end to migraines, I am doing a diet with no sugar (only sour fruit.  No oranges, bananas, etc), no gluten, and very low carbohydrates.  Pretty limiting.  Twenty two of these peas only have 22 grams of carbs.  The tortillas are corn and lime, nothing else.  One is only 12 carbs and I can crisp it in the oven. Oh, boy!

I got new glasses in November.  I have been back 7 times for adjustments, and have not been able to wear them for a single day.  I had an appointment today to have my eyes re-examined.  And, it was a block away from one of my favorite charity shops! 
Gift wrapping paper with birds (downy woodpeckers and loons), a skein of cashmere and lambswool knitting wool, a Valentine doily for a certain pink-loving someone, tiny socks with cars, and two brand new photo albums for 99 cents each--all found their way into my basket.
Last stop: the library.  Now I'm ready to hunker down and stay home to knit, read, draw, embroider, and shovel, shovel, shovel.  Snow...cold...bring it on!
Thanks for reading my blog.  I love reading your comments.