Times Up for “New” Challenge . . .

•July 22, 2014 • 2 Comments

“Music is the wine that fills the cup of silence.” ~ Robert Fripp

(also the engraving on my iPod ;-))


It has been over a week … did you try or do something new to meet my blogging challenge?

wineryTo meet my own challenge of finding/doing something “new”, I became a backyard tourist for the day and visited The Forestedge Winery (link)  near Laporte Minnesota. It is about an hour and a half drive from my home in the woods to the winery in the woods.
(click here for a newspaper article about the winery)

This winery has been making wine for many years (20+), but this was my first visit. And, even though I also saw the wine in the store many times, it was also my first taste. What makes this winery unique is that their wine contains no grapes. Instead, it is made with locally grown fruits. The wine has its origins on a small farm at the winery where they grow rhubarb, lots of rhubarb (one of their most popular wines). They also buy locally grown fruits for their other wine varieties (ie:  blueberry, raspberry, plum, etc…). All the wine is made and bottled at this small woodsy winery.  When you visit, you can request a free tour and enjoy free wine tasting (yes, it is FREE). This truly is an all Northern Minnesota wine that will definitely surprise you with greatness.
(Below find a local news video about the winery and how they make their wine:)

My visit started with wine tasting. After a quick lesson on the proper way to taste wine, we got down to wine business. I happened to mention that I don’t like rhubarb, so my friendly wine tasting teacher made that one my first to taste (with a big grin on his face). Besides not liking rhubarb (the fruit) I don’t like sweet-fruity wines, so I was amazed at how much I enjoyed their wines. Believe it or not, the wines and not heavy and sweet … they are crisp and smell so very good, fruity and natural. The rhubarb wine was a terrific white wine that any Pinot Grigio lover would prefer. During our wine tasting we were privileged to try about 10 different wines. My favorites (and the ones I chose to bring home) were the white cranberry (a lot like riesling), red cranberry, black current (dark red and crisp), rhubarb and apple (sweetest and lightest).
After wine tasting and feeling a little giddy from all the wine tasting (do people still use that word?) we enjoyed our picnic lunch with a glass of rhubarb wine at a shady, woodsy table on the winery patio and then browsed through the locally made crafts they sell in a little shop off the patio.

Here is a little math equation for you about my “new” thing …. a trip to the local winery …

Sunny + Cool 70º + Slight Breeze + Great Company + Yummy Food + Locally Grown Wine = Perfect Afternoon.



Drop me a comment or a link to your “new” blog post if you met my “new” challenge …
I am waiting to hear about your “new” thing!

What Gets Us Through . . .

•July 12, 2014 • 8 Comments

“There is something you must always remember. you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” ~ Winnie the Pooh (one of my favorite bears)



The human race, in fact all living things, are amazing. Our ability to adapt, think, build, change, and find our way through life and all of its obstacles is phenomenal.

To get through the heat we … invented air conditioning, ice boxes, fans, and silly beach things.
To get through the cold we … built fires, insulated houses, thermal clothing (even fuzzy hats with ear flaps)
To get through the rain/water we … made boats, bridges, umbrellas, yellow rain coats and boots
To get through an accident we … organized rescue units, safety procedures, trauma units, and trained caring people to handle disasters
To get through isolation we … connected phones, roads, mailboxes, and now blogging sites.
To get through physical pain we … developed pain killers, medical procedures, induced sleep and new methods to comfort each other

To get through grief … well, this is one area I’m sure that we haven’t developed a concrete method to help get us through. The problem with grief is that it is unique to everyone, can be a long process, and the healing needs to take place within us … other people can’t fix it for us. Counselors, friends, family, prayer, and for me music can help us .. but it is up to us to find a way to move past the pain, depression and even despair.

Jason Gray’s new CD (“Love Will Have The Final Word”) showed up in my mailbox when my mom first got sick and I played it over and over again during the hours and hours of driving I had to do during that 8 week period. The songs (not all sad because they are about love) and Jason’s deep understanding of life that he shares in the words of his songs got me through and are still helping me today. Unfortunately, it is one of those days when grief pops back up and takes me in reverse a bit, so I’m listening to Jason. Although every song on the CD is great and will open your heart and provide some healing, I thought I would share his song on grief with you … maybe it will help get you through if you are struggling, too … or help you help someone else who is grieving. The worse part of grief is feeling that you are alone in your suffering … and you are definitely not.


Here is a link to Jason’s WordPress post on grief and this song: http://jasongraymusic.wordpress.com/2014/03/06/not-right-now-the-story-behind-the-song/#comments

“You give yourself permission to grieve by recognizing the need for grieving. Grieving is the natural way of working through the loss of a love. Grieving is not weakness nor absence of faith. Grieving is as natural as crying when you are hurt, sleeping when you are tired or sneezing when your nose itches. It is nature’s way of healing a broken heart.” – Doug Manning


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Grief is not always about death of a loved one … loss of a job, health issues, trauma, relationship break up, selling family home, loss of a friendship … many other things can make us experience grief.  Sometimes it is not about just one big loss, but the combination of many smaller losses … whatever the case, know that you are not alone in your struggles and seek help when needed.

More information on grief: (http://www.helpguide.org/mental/grief_loss.htm)
“Grieving is a personal and highly individual experience. How you grieve depends on many factors, including your personality and coping style, your life experience, your faith, and the nature of the loss. The grieving process takes time. Healing happens gradually; it can’t be forced or hurried—and there is no “normal” timetable for grieving. Some people start to feel better in weeks or months. For others, the grieving process is measured in years. Whatever your grief experience, it’s important to be patient with yourself and allow the process to naturally unfold.”

Share Something New Challenge . . .

•July 4, 2014 • 11 Comments


A great thought begins by seeing something differently, with a shift of the mind’s eye.”  ~  Albert Einstein


There is something special about “new” things that can raise your spirits, add excitement to your life, make memories, make you feel more alive and inspire you.  Think about how “new” feels …. the excitement of driving a new car (even if it is only for a test drive), meeting new people, attending a new event, a new coffee shop, a new hiking trail, a new haircut,  listening to new music, tasting a new kind of chocolate perhaps ;-) … or finding a new wild flower like this one, maybe?

woodlilyI have lived in Northern Minnesota for most of my life and if I ever saw this flower growing wild in the woods before, it never registered with me until this week.  I don’t remember ever seeing them.  I am known to stop for many things while I am driving down the country roads .. usually to take a photo, watch an animal, or even pick berries.  The brightness of these orange colored flowers caught my eye immediately and as soon as I slowed down enough to realize that they were not the common Indian Paintbrushes, I was stopped and down in the ditch with my camera (amidst the bugs) taking pictures in the wind (sorry for the blurs).  These are wood lilies (I looked them up when I got home).  Unlike the lady slippers in a recent post, these can be picked (I only took 3 home to enjoy ;-) ).


“See any detour as an opportunity to experience new things.”  ~  H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

woodlily2New out of the ordinary and off the beaten path shops were also a part of my week.  A craft shop with locally made things (where I found a New little star candle holder and battery operated wax candle to put in it – not that I needed more “stuff”), a very small coffee shop with a “mom’s” lunch menu (3 special items for the day) and homemade pies (the wild rice quiche was heavenly), and an antique shop with sidewalk cafe (Italian sodas and homemade goodies) … These places were all in a small city/town that I visit all the time.  However, they are places I don’t usually see as I am too busy running errands and don’t take the time to explore the little corners of the town, the little shops and try new things.


“Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions.   All life is an experiment.”  ~  Ralph Waldo Emerson 


New things … newness … can inspire you in a variety of ways.  This week’s newness has inspired me to slowdown and explore the unknown more.  I am looking more closely at the details, I am looking in unseen corners of my little world and I would like to challenge you to do the same.

A challenge post:

I challenge you to look around this week for something “new”.  Take some time to slow down and look around your world more closely.  Venture into an out-of-the-way place in an area you are familiar with but never visit, look more closely at something you pass by every day but never really “see”,  try something new, do something new … and in a “new” post, share your new thing with us and tell us how it made you feel.  How did this  “new” thing put a little life into your life this week!

Simply provide a link to your post in your comment and we will all come and visit your newly found “new” thing …


“To see a world in a grain of sand, and heaven in a wild flower; to hold infinity in the palm of your hand and eternity in an hour–is inspiration.”  ~   William Blake



If you would like to see more of Minnesota’s Wildflowers that growing this first week of July, check out my recent posts at BEAR IN SIGHT (my photography blog):


The Whimsy Challenge . . .

•June 29, 2014 • 8 Comments

I believe one of Murphy’s Laws is that when you are truly looking for something, it is no where to be found.  When it comes to photo challenges, I take them seriously in meaning that I have to find something new, dipping into my photo history seems like cheating to me.  However, when it comes to  Karma’s topic for her latest photo hunt  “Whimsy”, I am going to have to dip into them this time.  Seems the more I looked for ‘new” pictures of whimsy this month, the less whimsy I saw.  The gray rainy days made finding playful, humorous, odd, fanciful sights really tough … everything I was seeing this month seemed to0 serious or just plain normal … (or maybe it was just my own personal rainy day/month attitude stomping out Whimsy?)

When I first heard the topic was Whimsy, the picture that came immediately to mind was from one of my first years in my new house .. years before I started blogging, so I have not posted the picture of my scarecrow (I don’t think).  Here it is, now … Some fawns were checking out and  playing with my scarecrow … Murphy laws visited again as the purpose was to keep the deer out of the bird feeders, not provide a playmate for them.

The squirrels also enjoyed playing with my scarecrow … this poor scarecrow was not scary to any critters even though he could swing around and move in the wind.  Instead, he became on object to tug on, climb, hide in, sit on and gradually he disintegrated as bits and pieces were torn off for bedding/nesting materials or just for fun.


Squirrels and chipmunks entertain me quite often, but I can not always catch them in the act with my camera.  Here is the typical Squirrel acting whimsical by teasing the dog/staring him down and an up-close and personal smile at the camera when caught in the bird feeder.


Anything having to do with “butts” will make a middle-schooler giggle … so, how about some Swan butts?Not the usual end we get to see.  With those long necks, they must be able to reach down at least 3 feet when they are upside-down.A whimsical sight on the river in the Spring time.
And, last butt ;-), not least the most whimsical critters I know and love … black bears, particularly the cubs. Whimsical sleeping positions (you knew the bears would be in my post somewhere, didn’t you?):

Now, that I have finally posted my “whimsy” hunt using old photos, I am sure I will find some new whimsy in the woods … especially when I stop looking for it.  And, I am looking forward to it popping up in my life…. we all need and want whimsy in our life to make us smile.


A Whimsical Note … turns out this was my 200th post at Bear In Mind.  Imagine that!  I can’t.

What was a whimsical fluke to start a blog in the first place turned into 200 posts here and a second blog of photos (Bear In Sight) …

Who knew?


Trapped, Send Help . . .

•June 25, 2014 • 6 Comments

“We are all sentenced to solitary confinement inside our own skins, for life”.  ~ Tennessee Williams


Confine: restrain or forbid someone from leaving (a place). solitary confinement: imprisonment, internment, incarceration, custody, captivity, detention, restraint; house arrest. the confinement of an animal: caging, enclosure; quarantine.


Remember those old OFF bug spray commercials where the man put his arm in a container of thousands of hungry mosquitoes? (If not, you can see it for the first time here at YouTube). Those mosquitoes swarmed every inch of his arm and started biting immediately (and even after the spray I can see some on his skin). It makes my skin twitch to watch.

Life in the woods is the opposite of that commercial today. I am the one trapped in a box (my house) and billions of mosquitoes swarm my entire body if I step out the door (OFF is not working – I think they are hybrid mosquitoes that have become immune to our deterrents of the chemical kind).

  • Mosquitoes are not picky … they swarm and bite eyes, nose, face, neck, feet, hands, ears, etc .. any part of the body is fair game.
  • They are tough … they can bite through two layers of clothing - no problem.
  • They are sneaky and clingy … they hangout by the doors and windows, camouflage themselves in your clothing and hair just to get inside the house with you.
  • They are the enemy. I have been captured and am being held hostage in my own house.

When the mosquitoes are this abundant, there is not a lot you can do about it except stay indoors, pray for some heat and the dragonflies to return to work. The can of powerful bug spray is outside the door so that you can spray quickly and enter through the door without too many hitchhikers and stealthy sneakers getting into the house to torture you with their buzzing. One buzzing mosquito in a quiet room can drive anyone crazy, especially at night. Part of the emotional trauma they inflict happens after you have been bitten a few times. “Mosquito Syndrome”  develops shortly after a mosquito encounter, it is an affliction where you constantly feel phantom bites and swat invisible mosquitoes.

My escape attempt this morning was a failure. I knew it would be, I could tell from my window reconnaissance that I did not have a chance .. but, I had to try. The mail was waiting for me in the mailbox and the rain (which is never going to end this summer) was sitting on everything like jewels and I really wanted to get a few pictures. Yes, I knew they would outnumber me and attack on sight, but I knew I had a good supply of hydrocortisone cream for any itches I would suffer.  Bundled in long sleeves,  pants, socks, and hooded jacket (with hood on and tied tight) I ventured out the front door with my camera for a brisk walk to the mail box (normally less than 5 minutes). The enemy was on me before the door closed. The walk was mostly a brisk run with arms swinging, flailing and sometimes swatting mosquitoes. Stops for pictures were extremely quick, because that is when they piled on to tackle me down.  I was not prepared for the difficulty of breathing without inhaling a mosquito or two.  It was not pretty, but I survived for about 2 minutes and even clicked a few photos .. Take that mosquitoes!


They are definitely not my best pictures, because they were taken in the midst of battle .. mosquitoes biting legs, hands, face … blocking my eye sight .  However, I feel successful because I got some pictures … They might be a bit blurry and out of frame, but I got some … and you can not even mosquitoes in them (because they were all on me).


Honestly, I have never ever seen mosquitoes this bad in the 30 years I have been in the Minnesota woods. Our cool weather and unending bouts of rain for the entire month have made the woods a mosquito heaven. Our only hope of freedom is some hot weather to dry things up and a return of the dragonflies that normally keep the population under control. Trapped in the house because of the cold/wet weather and hordes of mosquitoes .. it is a summer like this that makes you ask yourself “why do I live here?” … then you see something like this and find your answer.


“Protect your vision.
Prevail over adversity.
Persevere in the midst of turmoil.
Passionately act upon your convictions.
Purposely walk into the day.”
- Mary Anne Radmacher

UPDATE:  Woo Hoo … having a short dry spell (thursday/friday) … It is still cloudy, gray, and thunderstorms are predicted for tonight and most of the weekend … BUT, I got out and took some wild flower pictures (they are here:  Wild Flower Pictures)

Where We Sit . . .

•June 21, 2014 • 4 Comments

“Never make your home in a place. Make a home for yourself inside your own head. You’ll find what you need to furnish it – memory, friends you can trust, love of learning, and other such things. That way it will go with you wherever you journey.” ~ Tad Williams


Carries everything around in it’s shell. ;-)

Trees and flowers do not have a choice, they are grounded by their roots and sit where they were born and stay put (sometimes spread). Humans and animals have freedom to move, sit in a variety of places, and make our homes anywhere, yet, we often do not exercise that freedom. The birds sit on the same perches, the deer follow the same paths, and dogs curl up on the same rug. In our homes, I bet we have “our place” at the table “our side of the bed” and “our favorite chair” in the living room. Students always want a new seating chart, but upon change complain about it. There are no seating charts for the teacher’s lounge or church, but people usually choose the same place to sit .. why is that?

Easy answer is that we are creatures of habit. We are comforted by the familiar and maybe that chair is simply the most comfortable.“A house that does not have one warm, comfy chair in it is soulless.” ~ May Sarton


What brought on this weird train of thought this morning? Well, that would be my family of flycatchers (feebee birds). The nest they made on my porch light is on year number five (5). A little bit of maintenance each Spring and its ready to go again. I find it amazing that these same birds create a new family every summer, fly south for the winter and are back on my porch early every Spring. They fly thousands of miles, visit hundreds of other homes and yet find their way back and choose their old nest on my porch in the middle of the woods.

My words are not going to live up to how much I love these birds .. they are my summer favorites. Their feebee calls are fresh, they have hummingbird abilities as they chase down their buggy prey which is entertaining to watch, and their amazing bug catching abilities and hungry young keep the bug population way down on my front porch and yard! I am extremely thankful for them living on my home (especially this year where our rainforest woods are producing an over abundance of bugs).

“Our character is basically a composite of our habits. Because they are consistent, often unconcious patterns, they constantly, daily, express our character.” ~ Stephen Covey

There are advantages for being a creature of habit. This instinctive characteristic of animals helps when it comes to photographing them. For instance, my blogging friend Robin pointed out a year or so ago that dragonflies fly away when you get close to take a picture of them. However, if you stand still and have patience, they come back to the exact same spot where you saw them. If you know where the birds habitually fly to crack open their sunflower seeds, you just need to wait for them to go get one.
(We love Dragonflies because they eat lots of bugs, too!)



My Latest Post at BEAR IN SIGHT: A Glass Lake … (symmetry photos at the lake)

Rain Forests of Minnesota . . .

•June 15, 2014 • 4 Comments

“A rainy day is the perfect time for a walk in the woods.” ~Rachel Carson
(Note to Rachel .. that is a romantic thought, but I don’t believe that you have ever tried it on a cool rainy day in Minnesota … it is only perfect for the clouds of starving mosquitoes that will devour you.)


Northern Minnesota has turned into a rainforest this Spring. Tons of rain for days and days … lake levels raise, rivers rush, puddles (small lakes) appear across the lands, culverts overflow, roads wash out and the dark gray skies hover over us in a smothering manner.

And, it could be my fault!
Yes, it could have been me … I must confess … Yes …
I killed several spiders last week … found in the bathtub, the laundry room, the corner of the staircase.
Timber spider on the porch and a really big one in the garage.

Is it the number or spiders killed or the size of the spiders that determine how much rain will fall?

“Rain is grace; rain is the sky descending to the earth; without rain, there would be no life”. ~  John Updike

Through a rainy window

Through a rainy window (click to enlarge)

Rainy Window

Rainy Window (click to enlarge)

The glow of the wet green trees is the only brightness we see on these dark rainy days. The greens are generously green this year, a gift from the rain. The thick clouds block the sun and the full moon at night. No lightening or fireflies. Just dark grayness engulfing our woodsy world.

Northern Minnesota has needed moisture for a few years, but getting caught up all in two weeks is not the best way to get those lake levels back up to normal. In some places the winds and new high lake water levels are causing destruction of docks and boats. (News: Rainy Lake Swollen)

The best thing one can do when it’s raining is to let it rain.” ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Let it rain and fill your life with weather comfort activities ..  take naps, drink warm coffee, read a good book, clean out a closet, take another nap, bake bread, call a friend, pop corn and watch an old movie … visit your dad for Father’s Day.

(more Spring Pictures are here: Bear In Sight)



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