Monday, December 31

December wildlife

Wildlife Seen in December

* 6 deer

December's Backyard Birds

* bluejays
* cardinals
* chickadees
* northern shrike
* white-breasted nuthatches
* hairy woodpeckers
* downy woodpeckers

Books read in 2007

* Square Foot Gardening
* Hamlet
* The Apple Grower
* Type 2 Diabetes Basics
* Everything I Want to Do Is Illegal
* Letters from a Nut
* This Country Life
* An Unlit Path
* Jayber Crow
* When Love Is Not Enough
* Cane River

Food preserved in 2007

* 15 quarts apple pie filling
* 5 quarts tomatoes
* 7 pints green beans
* 28 jars apple butter
* 42 quarts applesauce
* 14 quarts corn
* 12 oz. juneberry jam
* 18 pints gooseberry jam
* 24 pints blueberry jam
* 16 cups rhubarb

Thursday, December 27

This is the best year yet!

This is the best year I've ever had in the sense that, I got wonderful gifts! I got:

  • 5 pairs of clip-on earrings (3 from Michael, 2 from Grandma)
  • A diary (Grandma and Grandpa)
  • A beautiful purple shirt (Grandma & Grandpa)
  • A violin pin that goes well with the shirt (friends)
  • A Nancy Drew book (friends)
  • An Elsie Dinsmore book (Mom and Dad)
  • A picture frame with pics of my best friends (Mom and Dad)
And that's not even including stocking stuffers or family gifts! The funny thing is that I wanted all those things except the pin, which is so pretty that if anyone took it I would want it back right away, and there's nothing I really wanted that I didn't get. My favorite is the picture frame because it reminds me that my friends are still real, and still want to send me letters, and that helps me write the way that I would speak to them.

Well I need to get to bed. Thanks for reading!

Monday, December 24

Last minute plans

When I was growing up near here, there was an older couple who bought land across the creek from us and built a cabin there. B and E lived in the Cities and came up on weekends for years, until their cabin was built. We used to visit back and forth every weekend, and my mom kept in touch with them over the years.

When we came to MN on vacation, B put a fire in the stove for us before we arrived at the cabin my parents built. We stopped in to visit with them for a while (except a couple of the boys, who played in the snow the entire time).

Between then and the time we moved up here a year ago, B died. E sold their cabin and moved to town. I knew where she lived and thought of her every time I drove by, but never did call or stop in. I'm not good at that.

This afternoon, as usual, I got a call from Loren when he got off the interstate near her house. (From there, it's 10 minutes home on a poorly plowed road, so we know where to look if someone lands in the ditch.) I told Loren to stop at E's house, and if she was home, invite her to dinner tomorrow. And so he did. She was planning to spend Christmas home, alone. Instead, we will pick her up and she'll be here with my chattering, hollering, headstanding, somersaulting crew!

Sunday, December 23

Slender young hare #5

Was caught yesterday. I saw a slender young hare (SYH) trail through some high brush, so I put a 1 1/2 long spring trap right in front of where the good hiding places are on Friday. I caught an SYH the next day. Ever since then it has been snowing, and there are fresh tracks in that area, so I hope to catch another soon. I replaced the steel trap with a snare, because snares work better for SYHs.

In addition to slaying evil SYHs seeking to possess my high brush, I have learned some new songs on my guitar. I have learned to play "I'm for You" (Toby Mac), "East to West" (Casting Crowns) and "What Could be Better" (33 Miles).

Dog training is going pretty well. Alvin gets bored really easily, but he now alerts Mr. B at the sound of:
The smoke alarm
The telephone
Me calling Mr. B
Me knocking on the door.

Last night we made gingerbread houses. We got done around 10:00 p.m. and Mom said "OK, everybody put on your hats, gloves, coats, and snowpants. 2 hour snow romp". Well, we were out there till midnight. I would have checked all my traps, but it was too late because the law states that trap setting and tending hours are between 5 a.m. and 10 p.m.

Saturday, December 22

Welcome to my world

As winter descends upon us, the dry air leaves skin chapped. We are newly arrived at a point where the littles can apply lotion themselves without much risk of mishap. Jon's hands were so dry that when he first began applying lotion, they would burn. I told him to apply a small amount after each handwashing, and reminded him over the course of a few days with little acknowledgement. One evening he was remarking to Loren that his hands were very dry. Loren told him he should apply a small amount of lotion after each handwashing. His response: "That's a good idea, Dad!"

One afternoon, I took Lynae to volunteer at the nursing home. Since the hospital waiting room was empty, I took Jon and Michael in there to do school work. Between assignments, I got them a cookie and broke it roughly in half. I gave Jon the smaller half, broke a tiny bite off the larger half to even it out, and gave the rest to Michael. Later, I heard Jon telling Lynae about it... "Michael got the biggest piece, then her, then me. So I got the smallest piece."

Earlier this week, we found ourselves at a non-Arby's "fast" food restaurant. As I filled a cup at the drink station, I saw something I wish I hadn't seen on a soda head. I showed it to the cashier and let him know, very politely, that he might want to make sure the soda heads were cleaned well that night. Loren piped up from behind me, "Yes, just take them off and soak them." (I don't know what the standard is now, but I did that every single night when I worked in a restaurant. How about you?) Anyway, Jon's comment as we walked away was, "You're good at that, Dad!"

This morning we were enjoying doughnuts with our coffee. Toby hadn't had much to eat, so I told him he could make some toast, and even sprinkle it with cinnamon and sugar if he wanted. Jon chimed in, "I know, we could make cinnamon toast!"

Thursday, December 20

December Days

Written and directed by Lynae

December Days on YouTube

Don't try watching this if your connection is slow.

Monday, December 17

A snapshot of 14

"I can't control which nose I get, but I can control what I do with it. I have ambitious goals for my nose."



Saturday, December 15

Movie Recommendations

Lately, I've been surprised at the movies I've enjoyed the most. I guess you'd expect to find them on the Hallmark Channel, as they're relatively slow, simple, and sentimental.

The Last Sin Eater - Author Francine Rivers paints pictures so vivid they bring tears to my eyes. This movie adaptation, showing the need and power of forgiveness and Jesus' sacrifice, was no exception. Special effects were pretty corny, but I was able to look past that because the story grabbed me.

I Am David - The plot of this movie was fairly predictable, but it was still a joy to watch this boy discover so much that we take for granted on his journey from a prison camp, across Europe to Denmark . I was unexpectedly moved by the ending.

Sweet Land - Quirky story of a German mail-order bride who finds herself in a community of Norwegians, full of strong and memorable characters. This story moves slowly enough to let you savor the subtleties.

The Straight Story - This movie progressed at the pace of a riding lawnmower. All the better for appreciating its simplicity, beauty, and charm. Great portrayal of relationships, with plenty of wisdom between the lines.

Thursday, December 13

Wednesday, December 12

Glitter snow

This morning I looked out to see what appears to be a beautiful layer of frost coating the trees and bushes. That's when I noticed it's actually snowing. The flakes are so small and sparse, and the sun so bright, that the snow can only be seen as it reflects the sunlight, making it look like glitter is falling from the sky.

Tuesday, December 11

There's too much to do, and not enough time.

And if I'm not careful, then soon I'll write to a friend and receive a note from her mother saying 'She got married and moved out, but you can reach her at _____________,_____________.'
Well, at least I have a few more years 'til that happens (Thank goodness!).

We have been fairly busy lately. Toby has been setting traps hither and thither, I have been delivering banana bread and pumpkin roll to all the neighbors, and Mom has been trying to make the house look nice for those times when people come unexpectedly.

We finally got presents and cards out, a large and debatably fun task, and we are successfully doing a Jesse Tree with our little tree (something we have never done).
Well, I'm going to go take a shower and find out how ornery my discman wants to be. Thank you for reading!

Friday, December 7

Lesson learned in hindsight

I recently received a precious Christmas card, poem, and letter from a woman named Becky. For nine years, I have admired her. She embodies the "Titus 2 woman":

The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;

That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,

To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. (Titus 2:3-5)
I watched her nine children grow up, and the oldest get married. I remember when she became a grandmother. I received many gifts from her over the years -- plates of Christmas goodies, a cookbook, Above Rubies magazines (back issues I didn't already have), a catalog I'd never heard of full of great homeschooling tools, grapes, cherries, and green beans.

Becky was my neighbor. We had a bond going on through the little patch of woods between our homes, lots of prayers and thoughts and bits of news passed between the children at the fence. And yet, in the weeks before I moved from Kentucky, Becky and I realized how much we were losing. We wished we had taken more time to get to know each other over the years. We were respectful of each other's time and privacy, but at a cost. There was a great friendship potential there, and we'd barely scratched the surface. In fact, we'd only visited with each other a handful of times, and those were brief. We spoke on the phone sometimes, but neither of us had the time or inclination to be chatty. And now that season of our lives has passed.

Lynae and Regina had a similar experience, but did spend those last weeks visiting and leaving notes and gifts for each other at a special spot in the woods. And they still write to each other.

When we arrived in Bruno, then, Lynae and I were keenly aware of the importance of getting to know our neighbors. Unfortunately, I'm as socially awkward as I ever was, and it takes a lot of effort for me to talk to people I will be likely to know for a while. (One-time interactions with strangers, however, are not a problem. I'm just that weird.) Fortunately, Lynae takes after her father. She loves making friends, and is very good at it! I will admit, Toby and Lynae met most of our current acquaintances in town before I did. I'll also admit I'm ok with being in the shadow of their great reputation. But I don't want to repeat the mistake I made in Kentucky. That would be too much to lose.

I'm waiting

(I just found this drafted post of Toby's from 11/20 -- Mom)

For something to get caught in my trap and not slip out of the jaws. This is really irritating, because the foothold traps I set for cottontails are attracting the rabbits, and they eat the bait, and get caught in the trap, but the spruce needles I cover the trap with are slippery enough and abundant enough that the little stinkers keep pulling out and running away.

So I pulled those traps today and added them to the other 5 watersets I have that make up my trapline. Haven't caught anything there either, but at least the mink and raccoons aren't pulling their paws out. They are just stealing the bait from the pocket. And I think I fixed that today.

Later this year, when the ice freezes, I will probably find some muskrat push ups and stick a trap in each of those. Muskrat skins are supposed to be worth up to $3.50 this year. I also hope to catch a bobcat (worth about $100), so I can pay for all that stuff I need.

Mr. M said he would let me snare rabbits on his farm, 'cus they are abundant there. But I can't ride my bike that far every day, so if that were to work out, he might have to check the traps for me.

Thursday, December 6

Out of the mouths of babes

This morning Grace told me, as she made my bed, "When Jesus was a little boy, I don't think he knew he would die on the cross."

I agree. He knew before he was a little boy, and I'm sure he knew again as he got older and studied Scripture. As a little boy, I bet God made him blissfully ignorant of the details of his sacrifice. But I don't doubt he was full of love and compassion and sensitive to evil and pain and destruction.

It does my heart good to know my daughter ponders such things. I have learned not to take that for granted.

Monday, December 3

It's the holiday season

With the whoop-de-do and hickory dock

Tonight we attended the Christmas concert at my old school. The man who encouraged me to learn trumpet as a shy little 7th grader is still in charge of the music department. Toby and Lynae noticed a big difference between public school music programs, in which some people "participate" solely because they need the credit, and the fine arts program they were part of in Kentucky.

The whole family enjoyed the concert. It proved to be a bit much for Jon in the end, though. I had to help him through the predictable meltdown afterward. I feel bad for him each time he goes through that, but it is a good reminder that we've done the right thing for our family in keeping holidays low-key.

I'd like us to make some goodies to give out to the neighbors later this week. Maybe we'll have a chance to do that tomorrow.

Friday, November 30

Wildlife seen in November

  • 132 geese
  • 14 deer
November's Backyard Birds
  • bluejays
  • cardinals
  • chickadees
  • downy woodpeckers
  • goldfinches
  • hairy woodpeckers
  • red-breasted nuthatches
  • white-breasted nuthatches

Monday, November 26

Photos you won't find in your Christmas card

Now give thanks and enjoy the Christmas season!

Well now that the pictures are over, time to get serious.

And this program keeps canceling what I type. I'm feeling discouraged now, and Grace wants to know why I'm not chatting.

I will summarize what my last attempt said, in the unlikely case that this information won't disappear.

I moved my steel traps from the water to leaning pole sets, in hope of catching a fisher, bobcat, gray fox, or pine marten. I used scraps from the slender young hare I caught last night to bait the sets. I hope to catch another slender young hare soon so that I can put them together in the crockpot and have some hasenpfeffer.

Mr. M said he would let me snare slender young hares on his farm, but that is several miles away and might be inconvenient.

Today Mr. B took me to his house to help train a hearing dog. Alvin (the dog) is getting the point, but he is really hyper. So I will be going to Mr. B's house for the next few weeks to help train Alvin.

I, clever little freak that I am, just thought of something. Since I will be going over to Mr. B's house on weekdays for a while, I could ask to snare slender young hares at his house. He walks his dogs on a long path through the woods, so maybe he could check my snares on weekends.

Sunday, November 25

Found a niche

I've been listening to XM online lately. I find it quite ironic that my favorite station is "The Village". But alas, they play Heidi music. Here's an example, a song I just heard:

The Lilac and the Apple

A lilac bush and an apple tree
Were standing in the woods,
Out on the hill above the town,
Where once a farmhouse stood.

In the winter the leaves are bare
And no one sees the signs
Of a house that stood and a garden that grew
And life in another time.

One spring when the buds came bursting forth
And grass grew on the land,
The lilac spoke to the apple tree
As only a old friend can.

Do you think, said the lilac, this might be the year
When someone will build here once more?
Here by the cellar, still open and deep,
There's room for new walls and a floor.

Oh, no, said the apple, there are so few
Who come here on the mountain this way,
And when they do, they don't often see
Why we're growing here, so far away.

A long time ago we were planted by hands
That worked in the mines and the mills,
When the country was young and the people who came
Built their homes in the hills.

But now there are cities, the roads have come,
And no one lives here today.
And the only signs of the farms in the hills
Are the things not carried away.

Broken dishes, piles of boards,
A tin plate, an old leather shoe.
And an apple tree still bending down,
And a lilac where a garden once grew.

Friday, November 16

So creative, it's scary!

Overheard during a discussion of the impending Christmas Photo Shoot:

"I know, we'll all wear our jammies and climb into your bed. We'll change the bedding..."
"Yeah, to historic bedding. We'll have a picture of Abe on the comforter."

"We could all wear turtlenecks."
"Do you even have a turtleneck?"
"Well, no, but I have a hoodie I could wear..."
There were also references to ski masks, bubble wrap, the Green Dragon, kilts, and hula hoops. It's anyone's guess what we'll end up doing this year!

Friday, November 9


I've changed one of the comment settings. If you've had trouble commenting on my blog in the past, try leaving a short comment here. If it still doesn't work, email me at lowcloud at yahoo dot com and I will try something else.


10/20/30 Meme

I think I've been tagged by Mrs. *Nicklebee, as one of her faithful readers, to share what I was doing 10/20/30 years ago.

10 years ago, I was living in a tiny old trailer in Kentucky. I was rebuilding my marriage after two years of separation. I was praising God enthusiastically, and listening to Amish buggies driving by late at night. I was also discovering a group of Christian moms online, many of whom are still friends, and some of whom read this blog. (Y'all go ahead and leave me a comment!)

20 years ago, I was a complete mess. I was discontent with every area of my life in upstate New York. School was a bad dream, involving daily humiliation, both real and imagined. Home was a nightmare, as my father turned my world upside down. I was quite sure I wouldn't survive it.

30 years ago, I was living in a tiny old trailer, beginning to learn about Minnesota winters. I was breaking the habit of sucking my thumb in school, and hoping someone would realize I could read very well and take me out of the first level reading group with John, John, and Tommy. I was trying to remember APRIL in the list of months, and trying to get out of the lunch room without having to drink my warm milk.

How about you?

I tag... anyone who reads this blog and wants to be tagged!

Monday, November 5

First snow

We have beautiful, big, fluffy snowballs blowing this way and that all around us. The kids are SO excited! (Me, too!)
I love this picture. Not only is there snow, but now I KNOW there's an apple tree, a partially pruned lilac bush, roses, irises, and over a dozen peonies within this frame. The green plant under the lilac bush is still a mystery. It's got beautiful flowers and intriguing seeds. I might send some to my mom and see if I can talk her into trying to grow them. I think they'd look great by her decorative fence.

Friday, November 2

That'll teach 'im!

One of the roosters tried several times to attack me this morning.

My sons are great protectors and defenders.

Now I'm looking up yummy chicken recipes.

Thursday, November 1

I was all set and ready for whatever

And a few days ago, when I was tending my traps, I saw the strangest thing near my trap. Was it success? Maybe. If you want to call it that, go ahead. Anyway, what I saw was a surprisingly large mound of pine needles next to my trap. I had to investigate.

I got closer and saw that my snare was empty, but looked like it had caught something. I pulled away at the pine needles out of curiosity, and what was buried under there was a headless rabbit.

I don't know exactly how the rabbit became headless. However, I have a very convincing theory. My theory clearly states:
1. At around 3:30 am, the rabbit smelled the apple I had used for bait, and carefully situated himself comfortably in my snare.
2. Suddenly, he remembered what happens to bunnies that get caught in snares, and began calling for help.
3. He heard something approaching. His plan had almost worked. His mommy had come to help! Only, it wasn't his mommy. It was Bob the Cat. She pounced on the rabbit and bit his head off, and went away to hit a cricket.

Well, it doesn't really matter now, because we ate the rabbit last night. Oh, let me tell you about supper. We had bubble and squeak, pork chops, applesauce, and hasenpfeffer (rabbit). That was good. I need to catch more rabbits.

Mom is cool for letting me plant garlic today. And while I was in the garden, I brought the dogs out and we played in the garden together. Our wonderful town does not allow dogs running at large, so we played in the fenced-in garden.

Mom and I went walking in the back of the property a few days ago, looking for a place to trap foxes, and we saw a bald eagle. She really is a cool mom.

Wednesday, October 31

Wildlife Seen in October

  • 2 Loons
  • 5 Rabbits
  • Red fox
  • Gray squirrel
  • Mink
  • Chipmunk
  • Porcupine
  • Beaver
  • 14 Wild turkeys
  • Assassin bug
  • Rufous-sided towhee
  • 50 Deer
  • 4 Bald eagles
  • Pileated woodpecker
  • Red squirrel
  • 5 Flocks of geese

Backyard birds:
  • black-backed woodpeckers
  • bluejays
  • cardinals
  • chickadees
  • goldfinches
  • hairy woodpeckers
  • juncos
  • large, chicken-eating owl
  • red-breasted nuthatches
  • white-breasted nuthatches

Tuesday, October 30

About Halloween

OK, Mom has finally stopped laughing so hard she can't talk. (She was proofreading my letters to some friends.) She communicated to me that she wanted me to post this paragraph on the blog, so get ready. Mom thought it was funny, so you may want to grab something stable.

"You know, Halloween is coming, and I've been thinking about how dumb the whole thing is. I mean, if you shop at Wal-Mart (which I do), you probably don't need a calender to know Halloween is coming. If I am waiting for Mom and Lynae to come out of the hair color aisle, I see a box labeled 'Bloody Foot $3.97'. I can't even go get flour without seeing that stupid inflatable skeleton on a motorcycle. And what is with all these signs saying 'Happy Halloween'? Happy? I wish. They ought to say 'Creepier than last year's Halloween, and it'll be creepier next year!'"

Wednesday, October 24

Oh, what a week!

Tuesday morning, I went to the doctor for an infection which included kidney pain.

Tuesday night, I was in the ER with what seems to have been my first gall bladder attack. It was a nightmarish experience, reminiscent of laboring with Lynae (during which I basically threatened to fire my doctor... in an Army hospital). I am not a typical patient, by any means.

Today, I had a second appointment with the dietitian regarding my leap into the world of learning to control diabetes. She is very encouraging, and I felt much better after talking with her.

Tomorrow morning, I'm sending Loren and Lynae to the clinic. Loren has had his cough for two months, and still sounds awful. Lynae has had hers for a month, and it's gone from "tickly" to "congested". I have a touch of the same cough, but right now that's almost beside the point.

On Friday, I have a scheduled ultrasound to find out if Tuesday night's pain was really my gall bladder.

We may have to change our plans here soon... Christmas gifts may include removed stitches, co-pays, labs, and prescriptions.

"If you haven't got your health, you haven't got anything." -- Count Rugen

The dog drama was minimal. Hospital reported to law enforcement, I got a phone call, information was filed away, if it ever happens again we may have a situation. Dog and boy are remorseful, wounds and relationships are healing.

While I was gone on Tuesday morning, the son of the person who sold us this house (and is trying to sell the 80 acres behind us) was loading his tractor and wagon onto a trailer to haul to the Cities. Toby went back to ask if he could trap on the land, and was given permission to do so. He was then offered the tractor and wagon, in exchange for letting the guy drive it around when he comes up to visit. So now Loren and Toby are learning how to operate the tractor, with help from our friendly mechanic. (Please don't ask.)

For some reason, my dear, wonderful husband thought that with two weeks' worth of rain soaked into the ground, it would be a good time to take my never-meant-to-be-taken-off-roading SUV through the field to the tractor. So tomorrow morning, the friendly mechanic will be here to pull out his co-worker's truck with a newly broken winch, as well as my truck. Maybe it will come home with less damage than it sustained when he drove it through a creek. :-)

Monday, October 22

Oh, what a night!

Well it's a good thing Toby was all set and ready for whatever! Shortly after he finished his blog entry, he spent some time with the dogs. He invaded Manoah's space while Manoah was enjoying a meaty knuckle. Next thing Toby knew, Manoah had bitten his face.

My heart sank when I saw the two ½" gashes on his earlobe. We went to the ER, where he received 5 stitches and a lot of Mom's lame jokes. Yes, the boy will be scarred for life. But praise God, he will otherwise be just fine.

We'll probably have some dog and law enforcement drama tomorrow.

Sunday, October 21

I'm all set and ready for whatever

Except school tomorrow. Dang. Let's talk about what all I am ready for:

3. I'm ready to go trap some cool animals.

Let's talk about what I am ready for: obviously, trapping. Well, I felt like I wanted to trap rabbits this winter, so I looked at my hunting and trapping regulations, and lo, behold, I can't trap unless I have a trapping license. Weird, huh? Anyway, I really needed this trapping license dealio, so I thought... who would know about how to get one of those things? Mr. R had told me that there was a guy a few miles away from my house who was president of the MN Trapper's Association, so obviously I needed to talk to this guy. So I called Mr. M and asked him how to get a license. (continued in next paragraph)

He said I needed to take a trapper education course, but since there was no such thing in the area, he told me to call so and so to get a correspondence course.

So I did that, and I took the test afterward, and then Mr. M took me to Palisade where I had gone to camp, and had met Mr. R. I learned how to set traps and make different sets, and I was the only one who wanted to make a set by myself, so I took a fox/coyote trap and made a "dirt hole set". It was fun. Trapping season for most species opens... either yesterday or this Saturday. I can't remember. Anyway, Mr. M told me that if I want to trap, he has traps I can use, and lures, baits, and all the stuff I would need, and said not to spend my money on that stuff. Wicked cool huh?

So I need to call Mr. W and see if I could set some traps in the 83 acres behind us. If not, Mr. M offered to let me trap on his trap line with him, so I'm excited.

Sunday, October 14

A little silliness

One afternoon, I took the girls grocery shopping while Loren and sons worked on the chicken coop. Being the youngest of 5 kids, Grace has made it to 5½yo riding in the cart seat. It's about time she learns how to walk with us while we shop. So I was teaching her what I expect, and my helper-wannabe kept pushing the boundaries.

Halfway through the store, Loren called. We ended the conversation just after I looked down at my daughter and said, "I'm trying to teach someone how to walk holding onto the cart in the store, and she just took off her shoes in the soup aisle!"

As I saw a woman walking by us just after I said that, I realized how ridiculous it sounded. I thank God I was able to see the humor in it. That kind of silliness would normally make me angry.

Friday, October 12

Exploring Minnesota: Return to Banning State Park

October began with gorgeous days interspersed with rain showers. We took advantage of a sunny afternoon and returned to Banning State Park for a picnic and a hike. Driving between rows of glowing yellow trees, we could feel the light from them, as though God was pouring a special blessing on us. And just how wonderful is it of God to have designed the trees to do this every year?!

Chicken Update

This week we got our first egg! Yes, it's really green.
Unfortunately, we also lost a hen to a large owl.

Thursday, October 11

Accurate and convicting

The lost tools of living: do for yourself by Rick Saenz

You can't go home again

But you can have fun trying. We took a trip to the "town" where I grew up and had a great time driving over washboard roads, following a pileated woodpecker, searching for deer in the fields, and collecting agates we found in the road down by the creek.

Wednesday, October 10

Exploring Minnesota: Moose Lake State Park

We celebrated Loren's birthday by taking him fishing with his new lure. Toby and Loren fished, Lynae and the littles explored, and I took pictures. I couldn't keep up with the explorers, so I hung out with the fishermen. Loren caught a gorgeous bluegill, but those pics aren't blogworthy.

Monday, October 8

Exploring Minnesota: Chisholm

For our first field trip of the year, we headed up to the Iron Range. We went on that day with a specific purpose in mind, so we weren't altogether disappointed when we found a museum closing not only for the day, but for the year. We'll definitely check that out another time.

I guess we were still in Monkees mode when we got there.
Our target destination was Iron World -- we wanted to hear Charlie Maguire! When I learned of the concert he would be performing with area elementary students, I didn't realize the extent of the interconnectedness of things. His performance was part of a traveling Smithsonian exhibition, Key Ingredients: America by Food. Once again, we saw the shift away from the agrarian lifestyle and people's ability/desire to produce their own food. That shift and its consequences have been the focus of much of my own study over the past several months.
Grace quickly found the applesauce, made using the same tools we use here at home.
After learning from the exhibit, we settled in to enjoy great stories and songs by Charlie Maguire. He was accompanied by several 4th graders playing the spoons and jaw harp. We were pleased to hear many familiar favorites that night.

Sunday, October 7

Photo shoot

To celebrate the end of our first week of school, we went on a field trip. The day was so gorgeous, we had to stop for a photo shoot on the way. It felt like a scene from The Monkees. All these were taken within about 10 minutes, then we were on our merry way. Remember, you may click on a photo to see it larger.

In the following picture, each of the children is expressing the very essence of his or her personality. What that says about Grace, I will leave to your imagination.

Here is another photo which captures their personalities.

Friday, October 5


I couldn't stop thinking about this commercial, so I finally hunted it down on YouTube.

Edited to add: I do have my own cute dancing boys.

Hands-on learning

We finally began working on the chicken coop in September. I think we've procrastinated as long as we possibly can on this project. As of today, it looks about the same. The guys are building stud walls in the garage, and will erect them when they're all ready. In this picture, Michael and Lynae are digging a trench around the perimeter so we can attach hardware cloth and backfill. While studying the Israelites' captivity in Egypt, we made a scaled-down version of bricks with straw. Yes, they look yummy. But they're not. They're made of modeling clay and grass. If the inside of your oven doesn't look like mine, I don't want to hear about it. I bet you're wondering why Jon is wearing a backpack. He wore it for most of that day, as an example of a heavy burden. Kinesthetic learning in action.