Happy Monday!

Stories to start your week off in the Best Ways Possible! 😊

This story of butterfly heroes: https://www.americanforests.org/article/in-mexico-moving-a-forest-to-save-monarchs/

Mexican scientists are trying to move a forest to save the monarch butterfly.

This Tweet: https://twitter.com/JetpackMarne/status/1578006440500989952

Canceled class yesterday (yom kippur) & told my students they’d get extra credit for sending proof of doing something nice for themselves during class time. Today my inbox is all selfies of kids reading for fun in hammocks, baking, visiting friends, painting, getting coffees 🥲”

This Seasonal Food Guide: https://www.seasonalfoodguide.org/

Use the Seasonal Food Guide to learn when and where your favorite locally grown produce is in peak season and has maximum flavor by selecting a state and the time of year you’re interested in. You can also search by produce item — just choose your state and the type of produce you’re interested in learning more about.

This Happiness Podcast: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-happiness-lab-with-dr-laurie-santos/id1474245040

You might think you know what it takes to lead a happier life… more money, a better job, or Instagram-worthy vacations. You’re dead wrong. Yale professor Dr. Laurie Santos has studied the science of happiness and found that many of us do the exact opposite of what will truly make our lives better. Based on the psychology course she teaches at Yale — the most popular class in the university’s 300-year history — Laurie will take you through the latest scientific research and share some surprising and inspiring stories that will change the way you think about happiness.

This Inspiring Person: https://www.katysullivan.net/about

Katy Sullivan is breaking down barriers everywhere she goes, from the Olympic track to Broadway’s marquees. The Paralympian, who was born without her lower legs, is a four-time U.S. Champion in the 100 meter race and set an American record while competing at the 2012 Games. And now Sullivan has taken her talents to Manhattan’s Samuel J. Friedman Theatre.

And also this conference: https://und.edu/conferences/nd-water-pollution/index.html

The ND Water and Pollution Control Conference is an annual conference organized for educational and scientific advancement of water, wastewater, public works, and stormwater systems.  The purpose of the conference is to promote and encourage the exchanging of ideas and experience among attendees, protection of the public health, and operator education and certification.

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Peace, Hope, and Coincidences

Today, September 21, is the International Day of Peace. The 2022 theme for the International Day of Peace is “End racism. Build peace.” internationaldayofpeace.org

WHAT IS THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PEACE?

The International Day of Peace (“Peace Day”) is observed around the world each year on 21 September. Established in 1981 by unanimous United Nations resolution, Peace Day provides a globally shared date for all humanity to commit to Peace above all differences and to contribute to building a Culture of Peace.”

To inaugurate the day, the United Nations Peace Bell is rung at UN Headquarters (in New York City). The bell is cast from coins donated by children from all continents except Africa, and was a gift from the United Nations Association of Japan, as “a reminder of the human cost of war”; the inscription on its side reads, “Long live absolute world peace”. (Wikipedia)

Coincidentally, I’m reading “The Book of Hope: A Survival Guide for Trying Times” by Jane Goodall and Douglas Carlton Abrams, with Gail Hudson.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56268863-the-book-of-hope

I’m about halfway through the book. Today I happened to read about Jane’s experience with the UN International Day of Peace in New York. I’ll let her tell the story:

“Last year, on the UN International Day of Peace, I took part in a very special ceremony in New York City, along with about 20 high school children from across America. We all gathered around the Survivor Tree—the tree who was rescued after she was crushed and wounded on 9/11. We looked up at the strong branches reaching toward the sky.

Only a short time before, they had been filled with beautiful white blossoms, and now the leaves were beginning to fall. We stood silently and prayed for peace on earth and for a new respect for animals and nature. I looked around at the young faces—the faces of those who would inherit the planet wounded by countless generations of humans.

And then I saw it. I saw the neat perfection of the nest of some small bird. I imagined the parents feeding the nestlings, the fledging, the final flight into the as-yet-unknown world. The children were also staring up at the nest. Some smiled, others had tears in their eyes. They, too, were ready to move out into the world. The Survivor Tree, brought back from the dead, had not only put out new leaves herself but also nurtured the lives of others.

Now do you understand how I dare hope?”

In the opening of this book, Jane says, “Jane is almost 90 years old,” you may be thinking, “if she is aware of what is going on in the world, how can she still be writing about hope? She is probably giving in to wishful thinking. She is not facing up to the facts.”

But Jane insists she is facing facts, and she writes an entire book giving us facts to base our hopes on.

I believe in Jane. I believe in Hope. Maybe some of us are genetically wired to see hope all around us. I believe Peace is possible. When I say this, some folks assume I’ve lived a charmed life of ease. As if I have no idea how difficult life can be: despite enduring severe poverty, times of hunger, being in foster care, filling out welfare forms since I was 9 years old because my parents couldn’t read, working 23 jobs just to get to the point where I didn’t feel like I was always drowning, etc…

Still, I believe in hope and peace.

My imagination can see a world filled with peace, goodness, and vibrant energy. It’s all right there in front of our faces, just waiting for us to open our hearts and brains enough to bring it forth.

It’s possible.

~Dream, Believe, Achieve~

Health, Research, and Trust Yourself

The Lady’s Handbook for Her Mysterious Illness” by Sarah Ramey

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33516728-the-lady-s-handbook-for-her-mysterious-illness

This book offers a long and wide-open look at the struggle one woman had (and often many women have) in trying to find the answers to her mysterious illnesses. I appreciated the author’s courage in sharing her story. In the end, Sarah found some very real reasons for her illness, and was able to take actions that helped her.

Let me get a few negatives out of the way:

  1. The author tells us she is a privileged young lady whose parents are both doctors, therefore they have the ability to contact every professional they know to consult on Sarah’s case. They take care of Sarah in ways not possible for most of the rest of us. They move her back and forth across the United States whenever Sarah wants to try living on her own. They sit by her bedside for months/years when she’s too weak and sick to take care of herself. Most of us would’ve had the misfortune of dying because we do not have any healthy, wealthy people in our lives to help us.
  2. I believe in telling the truth, but I’m not a fan of criticizing doctors. Doctors are humans. They go to school for many years to try to help people get better. They’re often overworked with far too many patients. And sure, they suffer from the same imperfections as the rest of us – they can be racist, sexist, and many other -ists… They have bad days, can be jerks, and many can’t see beyond their typical textbook learnings. In the same way I don’t want them to see me as a difficult patient or gossip about my shortcomings, I don’t want to gossip about theirs. Just stick to the facts please.
  3. Rambling. I skimmed areas.

I read a few criticisms:

  • ‘she used the wrong terminology’
  • ‘she doesn’t look sick’
  • ‘if she’s so sick how did she…’

Many of those words seem to be spoken by people who don’t understand that:

Most of the world’s work is done by people who don’t feel very well.” ~Winston Churchill

What I loved about Sarah’s story – once she realized other women were suffering similar mistreatment, she made it her focus to help women everywhere! She put in a tremendous amount of research, trying to find answers to many of the mysterious illnesses that seem to plague (mostly) women. Thank-you!

One thing I truly valued from this story was the daring of Sarah to share her illnesses and all the conduct around it. She shares openly; doctor mistakes, her mistakes, all the efforts made to heal, and other random maybe-connected things.

I’m not always brave enough to share negative parts of my life despite encouraging myself to share both the good and bad as equally as possible. Illness seems an especially inappropriate thing to share, even though we’ve all been ill. Growing up with a very ill mother, led me to try to make my life about helping people get better. The best way to do this is through truth and education. I trust my pursuit to find answers.

Over the years I’ve suffered weird symptoms, doctors have yelled, “You work with kids, what do you expect!” and “That’s what happens in middle-age.”

I was given labels, which I thought meant cures. I was wrong.

I quit going to doctors, I quit taking the unhelpful medicine they prescribed. I decided the closest I’d ever get to ‘healthy’ was to eat healthy foods, drink lots of water, keep my body in motion, and get some sleep.

Through it all, I kept working hard in my careers. The place I felt the most value was at work. This is probably true for many of us. Often boosted by anger, I dragged my aching body to work. I was humiliated about being ill.

This year, I’ve been struggling to hold my value. In March, heavy lifting hurt my back and abdomen. Doctors order blood tests and scans and send me home with antibiotics. Each time telling me, this will fix it. After Multiple ER visits, I keep telling them something else is also wrong. I’ve lost a lot of weight. Antibiotics do not appear to be the answer.

It’s frustrating when the people who are supposed to help, are too busy to listen.

I could go in search of a second opinion, driving many hours away from home, costing more money than I have. And most likely put myself in the same position I’m in now, where the same tests will be ordered, ending in the same dismissive results.

It’s on me to figure this out. I have no medical training and I’m not a medical professional in any capacity. There’s a lot of things I do not know. But I do know my own body and I have to trust me to make the best decisions by learning all I can.

I asked for copies of all my scans. I’ve had time to study these files by myself to see if there’s anything I might notice. I’m not a radiologist, and these scans could just as well be Rorschach tests. I have no idea how radiologists make sense of these.

Next, I went to the library, looking for medical information as to why I might have hard lumps and swelling on my abdomen. (I suspect a slight hernia, and swollen lymph nodes caused by repeated infections, but I’m not a medical professional…).

In my limited research, I was surprised to discover that there isn’t a particular branch of medicine that deals with healing the lymphatic system. Sure, there’s endocrinology which deals with the endocrine glands, and immunology which deals with immune issues, and other ‘ologies, and other internal medical labels. There’s lymphedema, and lymph cancer, and lymph node removal. But the lymphatic system which spreads throughout the entire human body, and cleans out the debris and infections, transports white blood cells, and has over 500-800 lymph nodes, doesn’t have its own specialist category to heal it.

This has created tons more investigative questions for another time…

Unfortunately(?), the library was where I found – “The Lady’s Handbook for Her Mysterious Illness”. I read it in one day. It made me feel angry, vindicated, frustrated, and kept me wondering, if so many women have gone through this nightmare for this many years why hasn’t it changed?

Sarah’s story inspired me to maintain trust in myself and continue my own research. No one else is magically going to run here and heal me up. I’ll either figure out my health stuff on my own, or I’ll find someone who can. Or I might not. Sometimes we die before answers arrive. And sometimes we heal as unexpectedly as we got ill. Either way, at least I’ll have some information on hand in case someone in the future would like access.

I’ve also joined a large research program from the National Institutes of Health. I’ve been ‘warned’ by well-meaning folks that ‘the government is collecting my DNA for ill-gotten gains’. But the fact is, if you were born in a hospital or have ever been in a hospital, they have your DNA. Joining a research study gives me the right to have access to anything they learn about me.

It is impossible to fully enjoy life if you’re not healthy. Our health is important. The healthier we are, the better we can function.

Then we can take on larger tasks to heal the rest of the world.  

Meaningful Intelligent Conversations

One of the reasons I like blogs is because they feature wonderfully heartfelt conversations. People openly share their experiences, thoughts, and opinions. Bloggers add depth to their conversations that isn’t found on other social media platforms.

I appreciate people who are brave enough to share, and kind enough to listen.

Meaningful intelligent conversations are one of the best ways to move society forward in a healthier direction. By ‘intelligent’, I don’t mean everyone should have a PHD or a 180 IQ to converse. What I mean is that everyone should use the best parts of their own brain to add their own perceptions to a discussion.

There are multiple types of intelligence, therefore multiple ways to have intelligent conversations.

I’m always curious to know what people really, truly, deeply think and feel. I want to hear about their creative, inventive, innovative, brand-new ideas. I have millions of questions I’m seeking answers to.

Here are a few examples:

  • What are people’s thoughts on how to end wars? Can we utilize similar tactics parents use to get their children to stop fighting? After all, we are one big human family…
  • With our wide variety of personality types, and competing interests, how do we produce a world that works for all of us?
  • How do we develop a more equal society, yet preserve everyone’s individuality?
  • How can we balance the spirit of competition with compassion?
  • What does the future of politics look like? Will we always have two warring factions who refuse to peacefully compromise? Or might we one day really have politicians who want to find solutions by fully understanding truthful consequences?
  • Will we save the planet and ourselves from climate change? Why isn’t everyone taking this topic seriously?
  • Why do we have so many people suffering poverty and starvation, and what should we be doing about it?
  • How do we keep from overpopulating the earth, and at the same time eradicate deadly diseases?
  • What is the best education we can offer future generations? How do we decide what they should learn?
  • Why aren’t we further along in exploring the infinity of Space? What are we afraid of? What if there are perfect solutions out there to our problems, but we let our fear of something worse keep us trapped on this planet in our ancient miseries?

Why do so many people answer these questions with oversimplifications and defeatist attitudes? Why aren’t our higher thought processes fully engaged, creating solutions that are different from the same old dismal answers we’ve always heard?

One way to find better solutions is to have better conversations. We need the kind of discussions that fully engage our brains, our hearts, and our creativity. Better answers should involve thoughtful logic, and deep caring, and a profound quest to find brand new ways of doing things.

If we don’t engage, bravely share, kindly listen, open our brains and hearts to their hugest capacity, how will we ever help this world, or the universe become a better place?

The Woman They Could Not Silence

I enjoy reading history. It’s interesting for me to see if I can figure out how one life affected the world. What impact did certain figures have on those around them, and on the future? How did humanity change because one person chose to do something a certain way?

I recently read “The Woman They Could Not Silence: One Woman, Her Incredible Fight for Freedom, and the Men Who Tried to Make Her Disappear” by Kate Moore

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56132724-the-woman-they-could-not-silence

Reading the story of Elizabeth Packard, it’s easy to see how her bravery helped change the world for women, and the care of people with mental conditions.

What’s difficult for me, is trying to put my internal outrage into words. Why would any human in their right mind, think it would be appropriate to own other humans, or treat them in such a shockingly disgusting manner?

The story of Mrs. Packard takes place during the Civil War, when black people are trying to gain freedom. This was the way our country was, people owned slaves, and men owned their wives.

Elizabeth Packard was a woman who had no rights. She was owned by her husband. He was intimidated by her intelligence and independent thinking. He made claims that she was insane and had friends write letters to support his claims. Her husband had her committed to an asylum because she chose to have ideas of her own.

While at Illinois State Hospital, Elizabeth found many other sane women whose husbands had committed them to the asylum. Here Elizabeth was not allowed any contact with the outside world. Letters to and from her were intercepted by Dr. McFarland, who held her in the facility for 2-3 years, while waiting for her insanity to show itself.

Elizabeth witnessed atrocious abuse of patients in the facility. She spent her years inside the asylum overcoming many dastardly challenges. While there, she staunchly maintained the goal of getting out and telling her story and the story of other women.

When Elizabeth was released, she wrote books and helped create laws to protect women from such horrors.

Her story, and her bravery are powerful.

Some historical facts of the book startled me.

The time I grew up in was different from Elizabeth’s.

In my life, I only ever heard of female genital mutilation as something done in other countries. I didn’t know that it was practiced in mental health institutions in our country. I shudder that such a nightmare could be forced upon women simply because a man decided they were insane. Dr. Isaac Baker Brown published a book in the mid-1860’s, saying to cure a woman of insanity is easy, just cut off her clitoris.

All of my life, women have always had the right to vote. This was a right fought for by Elizabeth and many other courageous women. Sadly, too many women today refuse to use the right given them, they don’t bother voting. Unfortunately, I’ve seen arguments in families when the woman wanted to vote one way, but the husband wanted her to vote the other way. Often if a woman was voting, she voted the way her husband told her to. I’ve always thought this was backwards and outdated thinking. The right to vote is given to every American. Ballots are secret for a reason, so no one can pressure anyone else to vote a certain way. I believe we’re supposed to vote with our conscience, and choose the very best, most honorable person possible. I don’t think most of my country takes voting seriously. They vote party line, putting little to no effort into researching real issues.  

I grew up in a time when divorce was painful, yet normal, and it was normal for the children to be given to their mother, unless some irregular circumstances were involved. Under nineteenth-century law if a woman divorced her husband, she also gave up her children, her home, her money, and her reputation.  Father’s rights of that time took precedence. Whatever was the woman’s was the husband’s – her property was his, her earnings were his, her children were his, and she was his. It’s strange how divorce changed, from one extreme to the other. First, everything went to the men. Then, everything went to the women. I don’t understand why things aren’t fairly split as equally as possible.  

I just can’t believe these inequalities happened, and continue to happen today. I can’t believe anyone in their right mind would commit such acts. All I can think is that somehow narcissistic sociopaths have figured out how to get into powerful governmental positions and force their nightmares on the rest of us.

I struggle to understand why everyone isn’t shocked and offended by these behaviors. Even as a kid, it would eat at me that things weren’t fair. My mom and I had many arguments about fairness. She’d yell at me that life wasn’t fair, and that I should get used to it. I did not. Maybe these types of things don’t matter much to other people. Maybe there are only a few of us infuriated by these kinds of unfair injustices. Maybe I was the only one who had nightmares after watching the first few episodes of the “Handmaid’s Tale”. Maybe there aren’t enough people who’ve had their heart ripped out by real life horror stories of abuse of someone they loved…. I don’t know why all of us aren’t concerned more about equality and fairness.

As I said in the beginning, it’s difficult to put my outrage into words.

Around the world women are losing their rights. A great site to demonstrate this can be found here:

Jane has accumulated fabulous maps and guides showing how women are treated around the world. She describes how Afghanistan is returning to the Dark Ages. Women were able to go to school and become professionals, and now all those rights are gone.

In America there is no constitutional guarantee of gender equality, no parental leave, and more states are prohibiting abortion (women are forced to give birth no matter what terrifying circumstances, but not allowed time off to care for a child).

In our country, “lawmakers save their cruel treatment for others”, for the poor, for the uneducated, for minorities… There is little equality, justice, or fairness, when it comes to those who have money versus those who do not.

I can only hope that more of us have the bravery of Elizabeth Packard, and are able to make this world a better place for all.

Sweet Spots in MN Lake Country (a mini-series) – Part 4 and Final, Pequot Lakes

Welcome to Pequot Lakes, a place to reconnect to a simpler time. Come for a visit and fall in love with the area.

According to world population review, the city of Pequot Lakes holds about 2,278 residents.

The Pequot Lakes Heritage Preservation Commission says this about the history of the city:

A city once called Sibley and Frogtown became Pequot. In 1900, Walter and Flora Brown filed their plat for the E 1/2 of the SW 1/4 section 10 in T136N-R29W under the title Pequot. It’s easy to figure out where the name Lakes came from, but what about Pequot? The Pequot Indians are a small tribe that has existed in eastern Connecticut since the first European settlers arrived here. While no Pequot tribes ever lived in this area, the Algonquin language was carried here by the Chippewa (Ojibwe) tribes.”

Here’s a link to the city’s website: https://www.pequotlakes-mn.gov/

There are several things that make Pequot Lakes unique, besides tons of adorable local shops such as: All Things Herbal, Castoff’s Second Hand, Dennis’ Clock Service, Expressions Shoe Center, Fun Sisters, Latte’ da Coffee & Gifts, Lonesome Cottage, Red Ruby Art Gallery and Gifts, Seeds of Sommer, Serendipity Art Gallery, SuperValu, Sweet Life Bakery, The Celtic Cottage, Thurlow Hardware, Timeless Appeal, Weise Crafts & Variety, Wild Daisy and more…


First off is the Giant Bobber Water Tower. Legend has it that Paul Bunyan rested his bobber on the Pequot Lakes water tower and would keep an eye on it while he rested in his oversized chair.

Bobber Park where Paul Bunyan’s oversized Chair, Babe the Blue Ox, and human-sized park benches sit next to the Giant Bobber Water Tower.

Cute little Bobber Flowerpots can be found in front of many businesses and homes.

The next super neat thing you will see are all the flags flying along Main Street, from Government Drive to Patriot Avenue. There are flags for each state in the United States and its Territories.

Another unique tradition in Pequot Lakes is the annual Bean Hole Days Festival in July. The event began in 1938 and is centered around an old tradition of cooking beans in pots in pits. The festival originally began when store owners in the town hosted a bean feed for the local farmers. Over the years, new traditions were created, such as giving pots Scandinavian names like Ole and Sven, and electing a Bean Hole Days “King” and “Queen.”

This one-of-a-kind event is rootin’ tootin’ good fun for the whole family! The huge cast iron kettles of beans are buried to cook overnight and served on the next day at noon to more than 3,000 hungry visitors.

Pequot Lakes is one of the many cities located along the Paul Bunyan Trail. The Paul Bunyan Trail is the longest MN Bike trail at 120-miles, and it connects the Heartland Trail, the Blue Ox Trail and the Cuyuna State Trail. The 120 miles are continuously paved from Crow Wing State Park just south of Brainerd, MN to Lake Bemidji State Park in Bemidji, MN. The terrain of the Paul Bunyan Trail ranges from flat and open, to hilly and scenic. While biking is the main event, the Paul Bunyan Trail is open year-round with loads of other recreational activities available.

The Pequot Lakes Welcome Center near the Paul Bunyan Trail. Here is another Babe the Blue Ox statue.

Pequot Lakes has several parks:

The Babinski Playground is a lovely park by Sibley Lake.

Trailside Park, this is one of the grandchildren’s favorite parks. It’s near the Paul Bunyan Trail.

Near the Trailside Park is Dru Sjodin’s Garden. As a young woman, Dru was abducted from the Columbia Mall parking lot in Grand Forks, ND, and murdered. Her parents and community have been relentless in maintaining her memory in hopes of protecting others.

All Veterans Memorial.

 Pequot Lakes Post Office Mural.

Another mural in Pequot.

Welcome to the Paul M. Thiede Fire Tower Park. The Fire Tower was built in 1935. The county acquired it to preserve and protect its history.

The Park has 3,000 feet of walking trails on 40 acres.

You can climb the Fire Tower but there are regulations to follow. No more than 6 people can be on the Tower at one time. Be careful, don’t climb if you are dizzy or fear heights. The Tower is dangerous in bad weather and after dark. Take your time and hold on to the railings.  

We’ve climbed the Tower a few times. It’s fun to look out over the landscape above the trees.

Here is a view of the Minnesota Highway 371 bypass as it was being developed, taken from the Fire Tower in 2016. The bypass is now complete. If you look closely, you may be able to make out the Bobber Tower in the middle/top of the greenery.

Picnic Shelter and learning area at the Fire Tower Park.

Of course, I have to mention one of the special events that happen in Pequot Lakes in the winter – the Antique Snowmobile Rendezvous!! It’s an antique and vintage snowmobile show, with trail rides, and competitions.

As with all the small cities in our area there is far more to see, do, and enjoy than I can list here.

Thank-you for letting me share with you, the Sweet Spots in the Mid-Minnesota Lakes Country.

Sweet Spots in MN Lake Country (a mini-series) – Part 3 Nisswa

Nisswa is a lovely little city that has a population of around 2,200 (according to World Population Review 2022). The city stretches out along Hwy 371. One part of the city is filled with unique and fun shopping. And just when you think you’ve seen everything in Nisswa, drive down Hwy 371 a bit and see more interesting things.

Nisswa Square has some “Pretty Good Shopping”. If you like shopping for novelties, this is the place to find many interesting, one-of-a-kind, or locally sourced items. Shops have names like Meg’s Cabin, The Fun Sisters, The Chocolate Ox, Turtle Town Books and Gifts, The Woodland Meadow, Found a Curated Life, Appaloosa Ridge, Buffalo Plaid, Zaiser’s, PrimRose Park, Quirks, The Dock Panther, CoCo & Co, and more.

A glance down main street, starting at the DQ. The Dairy Queen is easily one of our favorite places to eat locally. There’s a Dairy Queen in many of our cities in Minnesota. Our local Dairy Queens even offer Gluten Free buns and other options, these aren’t on all Dairy Queen menus. This is one of the least expensive local places to eat, and the staff at every local Dairy Queen is so Sweet!!

A shot of Main Street/Smiley Road. Nisswa shops are terrific places to grab a classic Minnesotan gift for family and friends. Many of the shops support local talent: authors, paintings, metal works, soaps, candles, farm-raised wools, home-grown products, and other hand-made materials…

There’s a lovely tunnel that leads from Main Street Nisswa, under Hwy 371, to Nisswa Lake Park and Recreational Area.

View of Nisswa Lake from the tunnel.

The Nisswa Lake Park and Recreational Area is a lakeside park providing nature-based recreational opportunities and regional access to water for residents and visitors. The park is 2.1 acres.

Nisswa Lake.

https://www.cityofnisswa.com/departments/parks___recreation/nisswa_lake_park.php

The Paul Bunyan Trail is 120 miles of continuously paved MN Bike Trails from Crow Wing State Park just south of Brainerd MN to Lake Bemidji State Park in Bemidji Minnesota. The Trail goes through many of our area’s small cities. The paved trails are not only used by bicyclers, often visible sharing the route are walkers, joggers, and runners.

More information about the Paul Bunyan Trail can be found here: https://www.paulbunyantrail.com/

This location to enter the Paul Bunyan State Trail is just a bit off main street in Nisswa. It’s not difficult to find. The parking area includes a map of the Paul Bunyan Trail, a bench, and a handy Bike Tune-up station.

One of my favorite parts of the city are the Nisswa History Center and Museum which includes the historic Pioneer Village, and the Depot and Caboose.

Small towns and unincorporated townships in north-central Minnesota were established largely due to the influence of railroad companies and the rail lines they constructed.  In 1898 Ernest Smiley established a railroad stop and Post Office at his homestead located on what is now Poplar Avenue just off Nisswa’s main street.  The stop was called ‘Smiley’.  When the township was founded in 1900 it was named Smiley Township.  In 1908, when the village incorporated, the name was changed to Nisswa from the Ojibwe word “nessawae”, which means “in the middle”.  In this case, in the middle of Clark, Nisswa and Roy lakes. 

In the automobile phase (1920-1965), improvements were made along the Leech Lake Trail, now known as Highway 371, which allowed urban residents from Minneapolis/St. Paul and other urban centers to live and vacation in the Central Lakes area.”

https://www.cityofnisswa.com/visitors/about_nisswa/index.php

Enjoy a self guided tour of the Nisswa History Center and Museum which includes the historic Pioneer Village, Depot and Caboose. Nisswa is filled with rich history with Native American roots, logging and railroad industry, resorts and restaurants all of which contributed in making Nisswa the number one destination place in the summer months. By touring the grounds and log homes, you will have a glimpse of a quieter, more peaceful–but hard working life at the turn of the century. Take time to relax in the seating area alongside the Heritage Garden which is filled with native plants that come from local farms and gardens from over 75 years ago.”

https://business.nisswa.com/list/member/nisswa-area-historical-society-nisswa-history-center-and-museum-220

https://www.facebook.com/Nisswa-Area-Historical-Society-993480577710475/

This Depot and Caboose are across the street from the History Center and Museum.

Full disclosure: I know where many of the parks and playgrounds are in our area. I love taking the grandchildren to a new park every day they visit. We compare and contrast as we visit each one. Some have great swingsets. Some have better equipment. Some have more types of activities. Some have better picnic areas… Parks and playgrounds are on all the ‘sweet spot’ lists.

Playground

The Warming House near the playground is for use in the winter, along with the ice rink.

The Community Center in Nisswa is near the playground, and is available to rent for: Weddings, Birthday Parties, Reunions, Private Special Events, Anniversaries, Company Holiday Parties, Workout Classes, and more.

There’s more to see in Nisswa, as it stretches down Hwy 371. There are many other shops, stores, gas stations, eateries, places to stay, and things to do.

I have a love of outdoors, nature, parks, playgrounds, learning, libraries, history, and fun free activities. Some folks might not find these topics to their liking. I encourage people to check online to see if the local cities have the types of activities they’re interested in. In each city and surrounding area, there are far more things than I can list.

Sweet Spots in MN Lake Country (a mini-series) – Part 2 Crosslake

Another beauty spot in our delightful Lakes Country in mid-Minnesota is Crosslake. Over 2,500 residents live in this city (according to World Population Review 2022), the population expands dramatically in the summer with the influx of seasonal residents and tourists. The city also holds a few festivals each year, which brings in many visitors. Festivals include St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Celebration, Crosslake Days, and WinterFest.

These small cities in Lake Country are comfortable places to relax, enjoy trails, the woods, beaches, watersports, and many other outdoor activities. This isn’t New York or Paris, but they are all wonderful in their own way. The following images are simple glimpses of Crosslake. There’s more to see, do, places to stay, and shopping, than I can properly write about. These are just some of my favorites.

A link to the City’s website: https://www.cityofcrosslake.org/

Crosslake features dozens of lakes, including the 13-14 interconnected lakes of the Whitefish Chain of Lakes. The area of what is now Crosslake gained traction after the construction of the Pine River Dam in 1885. The Logging Industry in upper Minnesota at the time was flourishing, attracting many of the early residents of Crosslake.

The Town Square is a lovely family friendly place to enjoy Big Fun Tuesdays, Flea Markets, Music in the Park, food, and distinctive shopping. https://squirrellymama.com/pages/crosslake-town-square

A large gazebo sits in the middle of an open grassy area of the Square. The bands for Music in the Park have used it as a stage.

Here are a few shopping selections on one side of the Square – clothes, art, wellness, salon, real estate…

In the Lakes Area, be sure to keep an eye out for the many artistic ‘Babe the Blue Ox’ statues. They were created as a fundraiser and are located at businesses and homes around the region. I was hoping to find a good link to the exact history behind these creations, but my quick search only led to one older story. I vaguely remember these statues started appearing about 2008. https://www.twincities.com/2008/01/24/babe-ox-statues-to-help-promote-tourism-in-the-brainerd-area/

On the far right of this photo is the National Loon Center. It’s in the early phases and hopes to grow. The mission is to be an “interactive educational destination that transforms visitors into champions for loons and freshwater everywhere”. https://www.nationallooncenter.org/

The Crosslake Campground, Dam, and Recreation Area holds many fun memories for our family. On gorgeous evenings, when our son was little, we’d get a Dairy Queen treat and take it to the dam. We’d eat our treat and then play on the playground, or the swimming beach, or just walk around the beautiful grounds.

There’s a large campground a little bit away from the dam area. The campground has 122 campsites including 97 with electric hookups. Additional amenities include two accessible hot shower facilities, two boat ramps, several playground areas, boat beaching, 2 picnic shelters, dump stations and accessible fishing piers. I don’t have any photos of the campground, or boat launches, or other interior amenities, unfortunately. https://www.recreation.gov/camping/campgrounds/233472

There’s a nice fishing pier and boardwalk.

Water flowing from the Dam.

A map on the outside of one of the buildings at the Dam, shows how the lakes of the Whitefish Chain are connected. The Whitefish Chain includes more than 13,500 acres of water, 119 miles of shoreline, and dozens of bays and islands. The Chain offers great opportunities for boating, fishing, skiing, swimming, and more. Lots more info here: https://whitefishchain.com/

A plaque sharing more history of the Dam.

Another shelter near another fishing area.

Swimming beach.

Rest rooms and changing rooms, near the swimming beach. There are more restrooms and changing areas inside the campground.

The Lakes Area makes the most of Paul Bunyan’s tall tales of his superhuman labors. Rumor has it, it was Paul and Babe’s footprints that created over 10,000 Lakes in Minnesota. Images and references to Paul and Babe the Blue Ox are at all kinds of locales in our state.

This sign, similar to the one at the Breezy Point City Park, has Paul Bunyan sharing a tall tale, and a little history about the dam from the early days.

Another Babe the Blue Ox statue.

A fun learning experience near the dam.

Information on insect habitat, showcasing how insects are beneficial to the environment.

Lovely Butterfly bench.

Across from the Crosslake Recreation Area and Dam, is the Crosslake Area Museum and Historic Log Village. It is set in an era encompassing the late 1800s to the early 1900s. The Visitor Center is a cabin that was built in 1929 on Island Lake. The building was opened to the public in 2019 and is used as an information center and gift store where you can purchase books, toys, candy and a book that contains stories from Crosslake’s past, “A Taste of History”. There’s also an Olde Time Photo Booth where you can dress up in costumes provided and set out to take photos throughout the Village. I’ve been through it a few times, but it’s been a few years since I visited. https://crosslakelogvillage.com/

Peoples Antique Store/ Tulip Shop. This shop used to have a tall metal sculpture of the Eiffel Tower sitting outside, that reached to the roofline. I can’t believe I never took a photo of that Eiffel Tower, unfortunately it’s no longer here. If you enjoy antiques, this is a must see.

Sweet Dairy Queen treats and fast-food meals can be bought at this location. This is an older photo, so the hours may not be accurate.

Another wonderful location in Crosslake is the Community Center. It includes a library with adjoining pergola to sit outside and read, meeting rooms, gym, and weight room. Outdoor spaces include playground, baseball, basketball, tennis, pickleball, soccer, walking trails, and a dog park.  https://www.cityofcrosslake.org/parksrec

The playground is in the process of being updated.

Umbrella tables sit between pickleball, tennis, and basketball courts.

Signs for the Walking Trails.

The Community Garden at the Community Center.

I’ll end in a very peaceful spot in Crosslake, the Staircase Landing.

Walk down the stairs and enjoy the peace and solitude of the river slowly gliding by. There isn’t a beach or sitting space, so there are rarely any people here. But there is a space nearby to slip a canoe or kayak into the water and float down the river.

There’s much more to Crosslake, but I hope you enjoyed this view of my favorite sweet spots in the Lakes Country.

Sweet Spots in MN Lake Country (a mini-series) – Part 1 Breezy Point

I adore when people share photos and stories of their surrounding area. It’s neat to read real life stories, and see real images of places I’m unfamiliar with. This gave me the idea to share some of my surrounding area.

I live in the beautiful Lake Country of mid-Minnesota. We are surrounded by many gorgeous lakes, rivers, and streams.

Let me introduce you to Breezy Point, MN. A little over 2,400 people call this place home (according to World Population Review 2022). This little city sits on the shores of Pelican Lake.

The “anchor” of this community is the Breezy Point Resort. Publishing giant and owner of Fawcett Publishing, “Captain Billy Fawcett”, built Breezy Point Resort in 1921. The Resort was visited in the Roaring 20’s by the rich and famous, and movie stars including Clark Gable, Carole Lombard, Tom Mix and Jack Dempsey. When the village was incorporated in 1939, it had the name Pelican Lakes. But if I understand the history correctly, there was already a city named Pelican Lake in Minnesota. So, the city was renamed to Breezy Point in 1969.

The Breezy Point Resort sign sits at the bottom of the hill on one of the main roads coming into town. At this same intersection, are two gas stations – Pelican Square on the right also contains the Subway Sandwich fast food shop and car wash; and Breezy Point Ace Hardware on the left, a hardware store and gas station. There isn’t a plethora of shopping opportunities in Breezy Point, but usually any necessity can be found at the gas stations or the Resort. There are several towns nearby that offer unique shopping experiences.

The Resort has many amenities. There’s a convention center, three 18-hole golf courses, boat marina, four restaurants and bars, spa, rec center, and approximately 250 rental units ranging from hotel rooms, suites, condos, and multiple bedroom cabins.

A few years ago, I temporarily worked with the Breezy Point Resort in the Human Resources department. (My boss was amazing! She was in the process of transitioning careers, so we lost touch.) The Resort employed around 900 people at that time (with its partner properties). One of the most exciting experiences working at the resort was the influx of foreign exchange workers from around the world. In the summertime, the resort is filled with visitors, and the help of more workers is needed. I’m not sure if/how this exchange was maintained during the Covid years, or if this program still exists. More about the Resort and its history can be found here: https://breezypointresort.com/resort-history/

A lakeside view of one of the resort’s dining areas – Dockside.

If you’re interested in a lake tour, you can book a cruise on the Breezy Belle. The Breezy Belle is an authentic stern wheel paddleboat. She is propelled by two paddlewheels at the rear of the vessel. The Belle was designed and built in accordance with U.S. Coast Guard specifications for service on the Mississippi River. Belle is commanded by a licensed captain. https://breezybelle.com/

A late afternoon view of Pelican Lake from the City Swimming Beach.

Breezy Chapel is a gorgeous little chapel that just ‘feels special’. It’s in service from Memorial Day through Labor Day. I searched for more history, yet didn’t find much. This website tells us more about the connection to the Gloria Dey Lutheran Church in the next town over: https://www.gdlcpequot.org/brezzy-point-chapel

About: Services for the chapel began at  the Supper Club in Breezy Point in 1963. The beautiful log building was dedicated on September 6, 1964. Mr. and Mrs. (Ginny Simm) Don Eastvold, at that time owners of Breezy Point Lodge, donated the lots and the Captain Bill “Fawcett Steps” to the District.”

A small channel in front of the Breezy Point Chapel.

Breezy Point City Hall

This is the sign in front of Breezy Point City Hall. The old sign was recently updated to electric, and it is bright. It flashes notices all day long.  More info on the sweet city of Breezy can be found here. https://www.cityofbreezypointmn.us/

Next to City Hall is the City Park. This is the first sign you’ll see as you drive into the parking lot. It contains a funny tale told by Paul Bunyan about how the place was almost named “Elmer Point”.  As you can see from the next few photos, the park carries on the legend of Paul Bunyan.

Paul Bunyan’s giant footprints.

Within the City Park is a playground, basketball court, softball field, volleyball area, pavilion, restrooms, paved walking trail, and more.

The basketball court is located behind the playground.

Fun xylophone music can be created here.

Walking trail surrounding the park.

Children playing a ball game in the distance. I didn’t get close enough to see what they were playing. The children were quite young, so I might guess T-ball?

A sign inside City Park gives a bit more information and lists donors. When the irises, lilies, and other flowers are in bloom, it’s a pretty site.

Directly across from Breezy Point City Hall is our Breezy Point Airport. If you’d like to fly in, here’s the information you’ll need to know: https://www.breezypointairport.com/ (In the background you can see the Breezy Point Ace Hardware store and gas station, and the red roof of Pelican Square gas station.)

The next few photos are a small view of one of the Funnest Local Events – Breezy Point Aviation Days! This event is completely free. Pilots fly in and let us look at their planes. There’s Classic Cars, food, a pilots and friends social, and opportunities to meet with people in a few local aviation fields – the Civil Air Patrol, Emergency Vehicles, Medi-Vac Helicopter, and a Military Aircraft Flyover. In 2021, over 1,000 people showed up to see 72 airplanes and 65 classic cars.

I’m ending this glimpse of Breezy Point with one of my favorite Peaceful locations. Some may find it unusual, but if one is seeking serenity this is the perfect place to find it.

The Pelican Woods Cemetery and Nature Trail is designed as a final resting place for those who love the woods and lakes encompassing Breezy Point. It holds both traditional and crematory burials.

In 2010, a natural berm at the entrance was created for additional privacy from the adjacent road. The Master Gardeners have done a wonderful job keeping the gardens gorgeous.

The road slowly winds around into the Woods. There are graves along the route, please be respectful here. A short ways in, there’s a thoughtful sculpture for the All Veteran’s Memorial, designed by local artist Jeff Kreitz. Dedication for the structure was held in 2013.

Further down the road and around the curve is the Shelter. Across from the shelter (not in the photo) is a structure for urn placement. Those whose final wish is to be cremated, can choose a spot in the Urn Structure. Their name is carved on the outside of their urn’s location. I chose not to photograph this as it would invade privacy. People being laid to rest here are most likely looking for the peace this place represents.

A soothing “water-feature” was completed in the fall of 2007 near the shelter area.

A Monarch Butterfly Release is held near the Shelter the 3rd Saturday of July each year. One summer, we attended with our grandbabies. Each person is carefully given a little packet with a butterfly to release. It was so spiritual to watch all those little butterflies flutter into the air.

Blossoms in Pelican Woods Cemetery and Nature Trail.

There are many images I didn’t include from the city of Breezy Point; gas stations, restaurants, bars, golf courses, the disc golf course, the ice arena (for hockey and skating), events, nightlife, and more.

These are just a few highlights I enjoy in the mid-Minnesota Lake Country, at Breezy Point.

Fun Friday Project: Paper Quilt Cards

Serendipity has been the tune of my life lately. Solutions, stories, wisdom, kindnesses, images, seem to be appearing in sets. A recent happy coincidence involves quilting. I’m not a quilter but multiple quilting stories have made their way into my world. They’ve inspired me to take a warm tradition and add my own flair.

Quilt-making dates back centuries, a quick online search said it may date as far back 3400 BCE. People made quilts to keep warm. Nowdays, it’s a bit more of a personal art form. Patterns are affectionately put together and intricately sewn for loved ones, and memories are made for a lifetime.

In reminiscence of quilts, I have three stories.

  1. One of my favorite memories from when I was a child was the time my mom and I decided to make a quilt together. Neither of us could sew, nor did we have a sewing machine. What we did have were lots of old worn-out clothes given to us by well-meaning church-goers, a scissor, a few spools of black and white thread, and a half dozen needles. We cut and cut and cut squares. We sewed and sewed until our fingertips bled. We bandaged them and continued on. And after weeks of work, and many hours where we thought we might as well give up; we had a finished product. I was quite proud of our efforts and endurance. This was one of the most fun things we ever did together.
  2. Many years later, months before my little boy’s tenth birthday, I decided to make a quilt for him. We had plenty of his old wore out blue jeans, and some blue flannel material. I wanted so desperately to gift him a memory as special as the one I had with my mom. Sewing really wasn’t a natural task for me. Back when I was in high school, I had wrecked sewing machines during Home Ec class. I wasn’t a seamstress, and I didn’t own a sewing machine. My desire to gift him something special overshadowed my skill level. Fortunately, my mother-in-law lent me one of her older sewing machines. I cut and cut and cut squares. I plotted and replotted how to make the quilt big enough to cover his bed, but not too big or heavy so he overheated at night. I sewed, ripped up what I sewed, and re-sewed. Blue yarn was used as an accent in the center of each square. I finished his quilt in time for his birthday. I’m not sure if his memories of it are as special as mine. All I know is that my whole heart went into making it for my sweetest little boy.
  3. When my son was a teenager, he and his other grandma made me a quilt with a matching pillow. My heart just melted that they created this gorgeous, timeless, intricate artwork for me. My son’s other grandma has made many quilts, and each one is so special. I don’t know how she comes up with so many different designs.

There’s something sweetly extraordinary about quilt-making, especially when gifting it to a loved one. To honor the memory of quilt-making, I’ve been trying to make ‘quilt’ cards. This was my first attempt. These cards aren’t finished, I still have to find proper placement of items and glue them down. I’ll keep tinkering, and try a few other designs I have in mind. The best part is, the only time I might poke myself with a needle is when I sew a button on.   

Of course they’re not professional looking designs. They’re made from what I have on hand – homemade paper and left-over scraps. I’d rather use what I have, and not invest in more paper or better more artistic card-making tools. It’s certainly a challenge to work this way, but it gives my brain a stretch, and my heart goes into each effort.

Our dreary weather has me wanting to wrap up in a soft quilt, sip some tea, and enjoy a warm slice of apple banana bread. Two homemade, gluten-free loaves are cooling on the lovely hand-embroidered dishtowel my husband’s grandma made for us when we were married. The scent of fresh-made sweets and the warmth of the oven have me feeling so comfy and relaxed. Life has been filled with a bit more discomfort lately – I’ll enjoy this moment while it lasts.

*Update on a previous Fun Friday Project – Notebooks…

My Gorgeous Grandchildren visited and created fun covers for their own old notebooks. Grandson chose an image from an old car calendar and added some cool details to the car. Granddaughter chose a different route and used a dry-desert paper, sticky flowers, and inspiring words. They are so creative!!

~Dream, Believe, Achieve~