November 20, 2014

November. My Now.

I've started to post several times over the past couple of months, and for various reasons haven't finished.  So I'm starting fresh today. 

It's cold in Minnesota (frigid they call it.)  Winter arrived early and abruptly for us. 
The view outside my window:

Inside, I'm incredibly grateful for warm fires.

After a busy fall (October had us go-go-going, long miles back and forth, which I don't care for.. makes me feel like I'm part of a great global rat race).. November brought welcome temporary change. 
We've had about a month off from sports events.
Hunting took center stage.
Our dinners have been full of good things.  Venison.  Grouse.  Goose.  More grouse and venison. 
With dark coming earlier, we've been enjoying a lot more time inside our home together. 
Pictionary in the living room with the younger kids, and nightly chats with our young adult kids.

I've been able to sit down with a book or two or three.  Whoever said "travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer" forgot about books.
“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.” ― Charles William Eliot
I agree about travel, too though.  I've had a persistent yearning to go somewhere I've never been for months.

November is a busy birthday month for us.
Mason and Eric turned seventeen years old last weekend.
Johnathan turned twelve the weekend before.  Time keeps on slipping into the future.

The clock change and the cold, along with birthday shenanigans, have tired us out some.
Naps have happened here & there.

All of the sudden we have four kids playing basketball.  Both Mitch & I agree, we didn't see that coming.
I spent Monday in Duluth on a mission to find a pair of 11.5 basketball shoes, among other things. 
I took this picture on my way.  A blustery, biting cold November day. 

Thankful for mittens, scarves, hats, warm boots.
Our snow sleds are out.  We have a slippery base under the snow, which makes for fast traveling sleds.  The other day Beau went sailing into the woods, getting into a scuffle with wild raspberry bushes.  He came out with scrathes all over one cheek that look like wildcat whiskers.

I'm thinking holidays much earlier than usual.. the weather & whiteness may have something to do with that.  Wow, this year has flown.

I have much to catch up on.   This was a start. 
Peace, Love, and Very Warm Wishes,
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November 2, 2014

Happy Trails on Halloween

Halloween happened. 
I was really not feeling into it this year, and the great thing was- I felt perfectly ok about that! 

For most of the past several years of my life, I've been up all night before Halloween, sewing to beat the band.  Not this year. 
This was a Grab-Something-Out-of-the-Old-Dress-Up-Box year. 
All three younger kids decided they wanted to be cowboys/cowgirl.  The only thing I made the night before Halloween was a cardboard and tinfoil belt buckle that we taped onto Beau's belt.   Easiest Halloween ever!
I had sewn these faux-swede chaps and vest for Eric (now almost 17) years and years ago.
Fun seeing Beau (7) wear them now.   The spurs were also from that brief era when Mason & Eric had big cowboy dreams.. they'd been a Christmas wishlist item.

It was a calm & clear day, thank goodness for that! 
The evening before, we'd had mixed precipitation, bitter winds, and our first ice of the year.  I'd gone slipping & sliding on our front porch. 

We didn't carve pumpkins, and I felt ok with that, too.  Confession: I've always loved pumpkins better in their un-carved state.  We grew an armful of very teeny tiny ones in the garden this year.  My friend, Alaina had given us some cornstalks she'd grown.  I was surprised when I found ears of corn still attached, and when I went to peel back the husks I had a most colorful surprise.  Indian corn! 

Johnathan ventured out from under my Halloween wing for the first time, spending the evening trick-or-treating with a group of friends.  Kind of a big deal.  I worried some. 

Our first stop is always our neighbor Marianne.  Next, we picked up Lilly's best friend (also a cowgirl) and I took them Trick or Treating to familiar doors in town, then to our local Trunk or Treat event. 

My posse was dwindling at that point, as Lilly & her friend met up with the other parents there, with plans for a sleepover at their house.  It was down to just Beau and I.  I had never before had just one child in the car in all of my many Halloweens as a mom! 

He and I capped off the evening by making our traditional jaunt to Granny & Gramps' house about 20 minutes away. 
We stopped at a few homes of people dear to us.  We admired pumpkin carvings and decorations.  I thought of our wonderful friend Violet - who was part of our Halloween tradition for so many years.

Beau and I enjoyed the one-on-one time coming back home.  We deliberated whether we liked the candy or the costumes best about Halloween, deciding it's an even toss up.  Candy is good, but he said it makes him feel thirsty.  Seeing costumes was lots of fun, and he felt awfully special dressed up like a real cowboy.
He asked me what my favorite thing about the day had been.  I told him it was taking a few pictures of he and Lilly before we got going.
They were both so willing & cooperative, it took just seconds.  That hasn't always been the case with five kids and taking planned (non-action) pictures.
I told him how important it is to me to capture pictures sometimes, so we can look back at them, remembering fun things we did. 

At some point during our drive, I also told him he's about the nicest boy I've ever known, and that I am so lucky to be his mom.  He was quiet for a minute in the back seat in the dark.  Then he said softly, "Thank you."

He filled me in on all the kids in 2nd grade wanting to touch his spurs.  We picked up Johnathan, who was just fine, and had scored big on treats.  He'd had a good evening, too.  
And when we got home, before going to bed, Beau asked if he could wear his aluminum foil belt buckle again the next day.  :)

Peace, Love, and Happy Halloween Trails,

October 6, 2014

Gooseberry Falls State Park, MN (and a shout out to the CCC)

Gooseberry Falls is known as the gateway to the North Shore of Lake Superior -and many more waterfalls- and one of the most visited of Minnesota's 67 state parks.  (2nd most visited after Fort Snelling, which is located way down within the twin cities grid.)  Located close to the road, Gooseberry's falls are popular for their easy access. 
The park has been modernized quite a bit since I was a kid, with paved walkways and major improvements to the visitor center.  Because of that, I haven't been there much as an adult. 
We were last there when Mason & Eric were about 4 years old and I was expecting Johnathan.   I believe we attempted to stop a few years later after all five kids were born, but the parking lot was pure madness, so we left and continued north. 
But during our Last Hurrah of Summer, a quiet weekday before the Labor Day rush, our younger three kids were able to climb around these beautiful falls at last. 
We arrived after dinner time and there were only a few cars in the large lot.  Perfection.

As you can see, Lilly has entered a stage of not enjoying having her picture taken..  she is so much like her older twin brothers it amazes me. 

Although, they hadn't reached that stubborn stage yet when I took their photo in the same place 12 years before:

A quick photo and she was free to roam about, happy once more. 

Johnathan didn't mind photos at all.  He & I took a separate trail (we took the longer route to a bridge crossing, those in bare toes & waterproof shoes splashed across river rocks.)  Johnathan explores much like I do, stopping to look closer and investigate often.  And to my delight - to take pictures.   

Late summer, nearing fall, water volume was low, making for a quiet river bed, and plenty of climbing in the gorge.  I watched THIS VIDEO back in April of the raging river when ice went out - a different story.   Minnesota is always changing.

Upper Falls, on the other side of scenic highway 61, one of five of the Gooseberry River's waterfalls tumbling down toward Lake Superior:

Gooseberry Falls State Park has many stone structures built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. 
A major part of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal, the CCC was designed to provide jobs for young men, to relieve families who had difficulty finding jobs during the Great Depression in the U.S. while at the same time implementing a general natural resource conservation program in every state and territory.  In nine years 3 million young men participated in the CCC, which provided them with shelter, clothing, and food, together with a small wage of $30 a month ($25 of which had to be sent home to their families).
Principal benefits of an individual's enrollment in the CCC included improved physical condition, heightened morale, and increased employability.  Implicitly, the CCC also led to a greater public awareness and appreciation of the outdoors and the nation's natural resources; and the continued need for a carefully planned, comprehensive national program for the protection and development of natural resources.
During the time of the CCC, volunteers planted nearly 3 billion trees to help reforest America, constructed more than 800 parks nationwide and upgraded most state parks, updated forest fire fighting methods, and built a network of service buildings and public roadways in remote areas.
By 1942, with World War II and the draft in operation, need for work relief declined and Congress voted to close the program.

This statue of a CCC worker was enough to get all three kids smiling.  :)

Peace, Love, and State Park Appreciation,

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