Thursday, May 31, 2018

Wrapping up May

We had a lovely 4-day mini vacation, staying home but making day trips.  One of those included an outing to Itasca State Park and the headwaters of the Mississippi River.   We’re fortunate that so many state parks are just a short drive from home!

Weird – I notice the date on my post about the Itasca State Park outing is May 16.  Really?  We were on vacation from the 21st through the 24th, and the trip occurred during our time off.  Looks like Blogger was off about a week on that post.  I’ll be curious to see what date shows up for this one.

We wandered over to Park Rapids one day, just because we could!

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We strolled down the main drag, stopping in a few shops here and there.  Just playing tourist a bit.  The population of Park Rapids is just around 4,000, so it’s not large by any means. 

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That’s not traffic in the middle of the street; it’s parking!

I had not seen a Ben Franklin store in … well, I just don’t remember.  It’s been that long, and I had no idea there were still any in existence.  Just had to duck in there for a wee look around.  It contained literally just about everything!  It was like stepping back in time a few decades.

One thing we did notice was the high cost of goods, even in Ben Franklin.  Yikes!  I wonder if that is because it is such a small town and is pretty much geographically away from everything.  There is a Walmart there, but we didn’t see it.  Park Rapids does have community activities and festivals, and I bet during summer months it is busy due to its proximity (there ya go, Sue!) to Itasca State Park.

At any rate, it was a nice run for the Wee Beastie and for us.  Yes, it really was that cloudy in the photos!

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Our patio with some new additions this year.  The yard crew will be around soon to mow the grass.

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It was raining somewhere on this evening.

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One of the pieces from Bemidji’s 2018 Sculpture Walk.  (The website has not been updated for this year yet.) In addition to the sculptures, there are various painted dogs throughout downtown this year.  This one was, of course, outside Lucky Dogs, a hot dog café!

We’ve resumed our usual routine of work and life after a pleasant respite.  It was good to get out and about, but we also enjoyed just hanging out at home and truly relaxing. 

There is another vacation in the planning stages, this one a #MNbucketlist item for yours truly!  We’re looking at doing the Highway 61 North Shore drive in early Fall.  As former full-time RVers, this is not a massive undertaking, but will take a wee bit of planning. 

Looks like fun!

Stay safe out there, okay?  Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Day Trip to Itasca State Park–Mississippi Headwaters

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Dave had a bike ride this morning, and then we hopped in Wee Beastie for a run of about 35 miles south on Hwy 71 to Itasca State Park.   As you can see from the photo above, this is the origin of the Mississippi River! 

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There is a small beach there, and we both put hand in the water.  Cold water, that is.

We could not have asked for nicer weather today!  I think we peaked at 85 F, which was warm but comfortable.  I took along my “real” camera, but didn’t use the telephoto lens.  At least the camera got out of its bag for an outing!

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Here is where the water spills out of the lake and begins its journey as the Mighty Mississippi

Itasca is Minnesota’s oldest state park, having been established in 1891.  It’s pretty large at more than 32,000 acres and more than 100 lakes.  You can read more about the park’s history here. 

We parked at the Mary Gibbs Mississippi Headwaters Center, strolled down to the headwaters and then walked the Schoolcraft Trail.

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There’s a café and gift shop at the Center, but it’s still too early in the season for them to be open.

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The 2 “dots” in the center of this photo, those are birds on the lake.

After completing the trail, we drove the Wilderness Drive, which is a 10-mile, one-way loop.  It begins at the Headwaters Center and brings you back to the main park office.

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To the left of center is a good-sized beaver dam!  Biggest one we’ve seen in the wild.

We also saw a porcupine, but by the time we got close enough to get a really good look, he/she was meandering back into the forest.  Oh well, at least we can say we’ve seen one in its natural environment!

Another reason for moving this far north is the fact that we are so close to several state parks.  We hope to get out and make use of that proximity throughout the months of good weather.

Back home a few hours later, relaxed, and fed with leftovers from yesterday’s dinner.  Getting out for a wee day trip – out in Mother Nature – makes me feel like I’ve had a real weekend.

We have a short work week of 4 days starting tomorrow, and then we’ll be taking a wee staycation of 4 days.  I already have another couple of day trips in mind.

Hope you’re having a great week!

Stay safe out there, okay?  Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

We talked about a cat …

We talked about getting a cat, as cats are permitted in our townhome community. 

I’ve lived with cats before.  Funny, cats don’t live with you; they condescend to allow you to live with them.  Ha!

One of the cats I cohabitated with over the years was Rocky. He was indeed a Soul Mate.

Rocky in leaves

Can you spot the cat?

He was such a character, a playmate, my buddy, and exhibited some dog traits in being my protector.  And I was his Mom, his companion, his playmate, his protector.

When someone would come to the front door, he would run to it and growl.  On a few occasions, he positioned himself between me and dogs, growling.  Yes, a cat did that!  We would play … him up in a tree at about my eye level and we would play peek-a-boo … him “hiding” behind a branch and then “peeping” out.  Oh, those were just some of the shenanigans we had!  Often I would wake up with Rocky sitting on my chest, watching me.  Yeah, okay, probably because he wanted me to get up and feed him, but …

Rocky Christmas 1986 on Chantilly Lane

Rocky – Houston, TX – circa 1986

I have lived with cats – usually more than one at a time - at different points in my life throughout the years, starting in my college days.  Here’s a few …

Toto in Houston in 1984


Samantha 01


Rocky, Toto and Samantha were offspring of the cat who resided at the baseball park in El Paso where I worked. Their sibling Napoleon was also part of my life during that period.

Quita and Snookums

Quita (left) and Snookums (right) circa 1990– These 2 were bonded and “adopted” off the street during a cold Winter in Houston. Quita showed up early one Winter morning.  Fed her “just once” because it was cold and she was pitiful. Well, she again appeared with Snookums, the next day.  The rest was history.

Red September 2000 in Brenham

Red (Brenham, TX, circa 2000), who abandoned his former home (complete with tags) where he wasn’t getting what he needed.  This boy was the “thorn in my side,” the perpetual “awkward teenager,” one minute with my hand in his teeth, the next instant gently touching my face with his paw.  I was “his,” as he so obviously indicated once by marking me!   Never a dull moment with Red.

Each of those feline companions have left a paw print on my heart, but … Rocky and I had a connection that resides in the spiritual realm.

So.  Dogs not being permitted in our community, we have been tossing around the idea of bringing a kitty into our home.  I even was looking at cat supplies in Walmart yesterday.   I cruised the local shelter’s pages of adoptable cats.  Yikes!

It has been 13 years since I have shared my home and life with a cat.

I’ve spent some time researching different setups for the litter box.  Did you know there is furniture for housing a litter box?  There are systems with which you can (supposedly) train your cat to use the toilet.  Want a laugh?  Check out this YouTube video of a woman’s attempt at toilet training her kitty.  Best outright laugh I’ve had in a while.  You’ll “get it” if you’ve lived with a kitty.

However.  Much like attempting to configure space for a dining room table with no success, there simply is no practical place for a kitty litter box.

Yes, folks, it boils down to that.  The litter box. 

I’m still toying around the with idea of volunteering in some capacity with our local shelter.  Looks like that is the most viable option at this point.

And that’s not a bad thing.

Stay safe out there, okay?  Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, May 13, 2018

I Miss Being a Doggie Mom

Yes, I miss being a doggie mom. 

Maggie Happy Face Sikeston MO 2010

Maggie Mae Barnes shared Life with us from 2010 until October 2016.

Most days I’m okay with a dogless life, but hey, it’s Mother’s Day.  No card “From the Dog” again this year.

It is by choice at this point in my life that there are not paws heard in our home.  One of the reasons we chose this senior community is the fact that dogs are not permitted.

While that means our home is without a canine presence, my heart simply can no longer withstand seeing others treat their dogs in ways we would never dream of doing with one of our own.

Our dogs were family, and we treated them as such.

That being said, if management were to reverse the no-dog policy, we’d be hightailing down to the shelter.

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Baby, who shared Life with me – and then us – for about 12 years until crossing over The Rainbow Bridge in 2010.

Maggie was the child Dave and I never had together.  Baby, on the other hand, spent most of her years with me before Dave’s entrance on the scene.  She was my protector, my strength, my playmate, my Soul Mate.  She truly had more of the protector instinct in her and less of “being the child.”  Perhaps that was the Shepherd in her makeup. 

Maggie had health issues off and on during her life, and required quite a bit of care at times.  Baby had no health issues her entire life, except those associated with age in her last year.  She was pretty much “rock solid.”

Maggie had the innocence and spirit of a child.  Baby was a wise Old Soul and, although playful and silly, she tended to look after me probably more than she needed looking after.

Perhaps that’s why Maggie felt more of the “child” and why I’m missing her particularly fiercely today. 

I’m fine, really, and this will pass. 

I’m so very grateful for the years with Baby and Maggie, for the memories and love I carry in my heart now and always. 

I can just picture the two of them together in the Afterlife.  I am positive they are together and having fun, restored to youthfulness and health.

I know, absolutely know, that they will be waiting for me when my time comes to cross over The Rainbow Bridge. 

Stay safe out there, okay?  Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

New cancer center progressing nicely

We can see progress on the new Sanford Joe Lueken Cancer Center from our front porch.  All the buildings in blue are the new additions.  The hospital complex are the brown/tan buildings to the left of the new construction.  It’s been interesting to watch, especially the roofing endeavors over Winter.

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Scheduled for opening in 2018. 

All the land between here and there belongs to Sanford, so any future construction should be related to the medical center and not general commercial businesses.  I like that.  It’s also very convenient to be so close –walking distance - to healthcare.  With other medical buildings to the west of the hospital, our immediate surroundings are essentially within a non-commercial area. 

Today is our Sunday, our “weekends” being Tuesdays and Wednesdays.  The day started off gloomy and chilly with light rain, a carryover from yesterday.  Ugh.  I got a head start on the work week by preparing Dave’s dinner for a few days, a chicken stir-fry.  All done!  Yay! 

About the time I straightened up the kitchen from that, it was decent enough for a walk.  Yay for that, too!  Really need to take advantage of these months and get outside, as Winter will be knocking on our door before we know it!

I think I’m liking the new look of the blog.  I’ve always thought photos stand out better on a black background, so I’m pleased to have this looking more like it did in “the old days.” 

Hard to believe I’ve been blogging for almost 13 years, starting on a different platform back in 2005.

Two posts in 2 days!  Woot!  Don’t hold your breath for the next one!

Stay safe out there, okay?

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

We Survived Winter!

Yes, it was a long winter this year, having snow on the ground 7 calendar months.

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Plane on Lake Bemidji – February 2018

We didn’t have any real issues with the extreme cold temperatures and snow.  Having lived in Hibbing years ago, we knew what to expect, so we were prepared both mentally and physically.  Well, okay, there were a few times in April when we wondered if we would ever see bare ground again.  Living with a white world for 7 months is … really different.  Still, it is a relief that Spring/Summer is finally here!  Things are greening up outside and our town’s inhabitants are once again enjoying outdoor seating at local restaurants, walking dogs, riding bikes, and the like.  Convertibles are seen around town with tops down.  I’ve even seen an RV or two already and a couple of boats being towed through town.  During the height of Summer, there will be RVs all over the place, including clusters in the Walmart parking lot.  Bemidji at times takes on the feeling and appearance of a cozy touristy lakefront community.  Love it!

Our indoor plants provided us with greenery during the winter months.  This aloe was one of the first plants I purchased when we arrived last April.  It’s been doing some pretty cool things lately.

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This stalk is close to 2 feet in length now and continues to produce new blooms.

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Yesterday I noticed a new stalk!

We zoomed up to a high of 83F yesterday, but today we have a steady, light rain falling and we’ll be lucky to kiss 60 outside the next few days.  That’s okay, because we do need the rain.

A couple of weeks ago, I satisfied my need for windshield time and went up the road about 25 miles to the town of Blackduck. 

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Minnesota bucket list item – see the Blackduck statue!  Check!

There’s a few parks, access points to Blackduck Lake, a few shops, surrounding resorts, and a café I’d like to try at some point in the future.  The weather was absolutely stunning!  Turned my tunes up to “blow out the windshield” volume and cruised through the countryside.  Perfect.

One has to make the most of the good-weather months up here, hence the road trip.  I have a few more of those in mind for the coming months.  Speaking of making the most, I added a few things to our patio area this year.  Last year I had a couple of hanging baskets, and not much else.  Knowing that Nature’s Edge Garden Center had tomato hanging baskets, I headed out there last week to get one before they’re sold out.  Apparently they go quite quickly!

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If all goes well, we’ll have cherry tomatoes!

Oh, I tell ya.  I could have done some extreme damage to my bank account out there at Nature’s Edge.  So many lovely plants, containers, outdoor décor … oh my!

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See what I mean??

Menard’s is one of my fave places in town.  They have a wee bit of everything.  The rest of the patio decorations came from there.

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Side patio decorations 05012018

We had 2 “pink chickens” aka flamingoes at the New Jersey site, and I saw these at Menard’s a few weeks ago and kept thinking about them.  Finally asked Dave what he thought, and he voiced his approval, saying that they would remind him of our good times in NJ.  So!  Back I went to Menard’s, and these 2 cuties came home with me. 

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If you look at the large boulder above from a certain angle, it really does look like a toad.  In fact, we named it “Toad” pretty much on our first day here last year.  We also did have a real-life toad visitor last Summer, so … Toad House seemed appropriate!

You may notice no hanging decorations, no pots or patio table set, or anything really tall.  That is because of the wind.  Our townhome is on the back side of the community, and the wind on our patio/porch is incredible at times.  We seem to get whirlwinds on windy days, including accumulations of leaves and what resembles tumbleweeds.  It is quite often windy, so I really don’t want to risk hanging whirly-gigs and the like.  We can place decorations in the flowerbeds, but planting is not allowed.  I satisfy my “digging in the dirt” needs with a variety of indoor and outdoor potted plants.  I’d love to have a large container with daylilies, but I just know they would be battered by the winds.  Oh well!

One has to also keep in mind that whatever goes out on the patio has to come indoors during Winter due to the extreme cold temperatures.  The shepherd hooks stayed out and fared well, but everything else will need to be stowed indoors once cold weather begins.  Spending a lot of money and acquiring large items just doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

We finally got a garage a couple of months ago!

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There isn’t much room on either side; in fact, one can’t open the doors all the way.  There is some room at the front for storage, but all that’s inside other than the car are a few things hanging on the wall – snow shovel, snowshoes, etc.  It’s such a relief to have the car under shelter, not only during the Winter but in the event of severe storms during the summer months.  We did have some hail last year, but no damage to the car.  Yay for a garage!

After the weekly housecleaning on Sunday, I drove down to the south shore of Lake Bemidji for a wee stroll. 

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Quite the difference from February, eh?

We have been back up here for a bit over a year now, and still say it has been a good decision.  Our townhome is comfortable and nice, and we’re all settled in.  I confess I’d still like a proper dining table and chairs, but there’s really no room with the bikes.  Believe me, I’ve measured all different ways!  Ha!  Perhaps we’ll find a set that will suit us and the space at some point.  I’ve met a few neighbors and, while we don’t have what I’d call an active social life, it is nice to talk to neighbors now and then.  I’ve been invited to a few group gatherings, but I’ve never really been a “joiner” and prefer to nurture relationships on an individual level.

Our jobs are percolating along nicely.  Dave is well liked and respected at his, and he is finding it to be a much better situation overall than in Texas.  My telecommuting work as an administrative assistant is still enjoyable, and my responsibilities continue to expand. 

Days are full and have fallen into a comfortable routine.  We have a mini vacation of 4 days scheduled for later this month, with plans for some day trips both together and my solo windshield time, cycling for Dave, walks for me, and just “be-ing.”

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Sunset from our patio – May 4, 2018

Yes, I have to say … Life is Guid!

Thanks for stopping by!