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)


Some Things Never Change . . . Comforting . . .

•June 9, 2014 • 8 Comments

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.” ~ Anne Bradstreet

During the turmoils of life, it is comforting to know that some things never change. Spring may be late, but it always comes. The birds return and things begin to grow again.

Screen shot 2014-05-24 at 8.06.58 AM

Predictability and familiarity are stabilizers, even if they are not wanted like woody woodchuck who survived another winter and enlarged his home right outside my back door (soon to be dealt with by my demolition/fill in plans ;-)).


Daily routines (getting up, eating, sleeping, etc…) and mundane work (dishes, laundry, grass cutting, etc…) keep you occupied in normality. At times so normal that you forget your grief and the reality that the phone is not going to ring and there is no reason to cook extra.

Squirrels chattering, robins singing, bugs buzzing, loons wailing, winds blowing through the new leaves fill the air with peacefulness … and it feels welcoming … Welcome back to the living, Welcome back to yourself … The ability to listen to inner thoughts and deal with hurts returns. Making memories, memories and not pains.

Solitude in nature calms the turmoil inside.
Sunshine and fragrant Spring lilacs heal the heart …

Some New Spring Pictures of my Woodsy World can be seen at Bear in Sight

“Solitude is such a potential thing. We hear voices in solitude, we never hear in the hurry and turmoil of life; we receive counsels and comforts, we get under no other condition . . .” ~ Amelia E. Barr



•April 29, 2014 • 5 Comments

“You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Care: feel affection for, provide for, protect, look after, provide for the needs of…. Care and I are meandering around each other, dancing in endless circles struggling with who is leading and unsure if the song is ever going to end or graciously change it’s tune

C.A.R.E. Is also a Continuous Ambient Relaxation Environment. It’s a tv channel meant to soothe the sick with gentle music and pictures of nature. (

Screen shot 2014-04-29 at 10.35.51 AM
As I sit by the hospital bedside CARE lulls me to sleep sometimes and at others it captures the camera eye in my brain (which has been on a forced vacation) to find pictures of faces and silhuettes of characters. in the scenery. An old man with beard in the river, ladies with big noses gabbing in the bushes, jabba the hut in the sand dunes, buffalo head on the hillside. In my attempts to provide a caring face to the ill person I love, maybe I in turn am also searching for my own caring faces as I feel the exhaustion of illness, too?

Maybe it has more to do with the search for life as death is also dancing around me, looming in the corners of hospital rooms, concerned glances and unspoken words. Death threatening to tear down the structure of a family as it has existed for over 50 years, waiting to take a loved one, and slowly eroding understanding and hopes.

“We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… we must do that which we think we cannot”  ~ Eleanor Roosevelt


A Wintry Rut . . .

•February 15, 2014 • 9 Comments


Polar Vortex, severe wind chill (go to school anyway), endless piles of papers to correct, seriously ill family members, sadness (death of an uncle and a former student – so very young), five days out with the flu, snow shoveling, dog hair everywhere from my new roommate Ike, did I mention the Polar Vortex?  Back pain, physical therapy, hospital visits, lesson plans (and more papers to correct), helping sick family member with daily stuff, staff meetings that last too long after school, icy roads, high heating bills, short daylight hours (no sun), falling asleep in the lazy boy (@8pm) with a lap full of papers to correct, more snow and no one to plow, a never-ending pot of soup (why these seem to grow in the refrigerator overnight has always been a mystery), car window stuck in the down position (during polar vortex), unable to sit for periods of time (back), dishes piled up in the sink, … and more school work to catch up on.

And, the winter rut I am in continues … pulled in all directions by people and events and nothing in the direction I would prefer to go (ie:  wandering in nature, taking pictures, sleeping in, blogging, etc…).

Pictures of a wintry sunset from this week can be seen at my photo blog (bear in sight)

Oh, to be a bear and be perfectly happy to hibernate through the winter ruts … 😉

“If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant; if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.” ~Anne Bradstreet