Snowy Evening

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

BY ROBERT FROST

Whose woods these are I think I know.  

His house is in the village though;  

He will not see me stopping here  

To watch his woods fill up with snow.  

My little horse must think it queer  

To stop without a farmhouse near  

Between the woods and frozen lake  

The darkest evening of the year.  

He gives his harness bells a shake  

To ask if there is some mistake.  

The only other sound’s the sweep  

Of easy wind and downy flake.  

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,  

But I have promises to keep,  

And miles to go before I sleep,  

And miles to go before I sleep.

Our home is snuggly nestled behind those low, snow-laden branches in the photo below.

Advertisement

Nonfiction November

As Nonfiction November comes to a close, here are a few books I’ve enjoyed.

First up are the field guides – birds, trees, mammals, plants – these wonderful guides are helpful when we visit parks and playgrounds. You’d think I’d have them memorized for as many times as I’ve pulled them out to put a name to that interesting bird, tree, plant, we just saw.

The next set of faves are travel-associated. I have many maps and guides from nearly every state and other places around the world. Here are 3 books I revisit – MN State Parks, Volunteer Vacations, 1,000 places to see…. Travel is important to me. There aren’t many things more exciting than going on a quest – to learn truths about how others live, to see things in a new way, to gather information, to adore fascinating landscapes and architecture, to explore new worlds…

I own a horse-riding book. I don’t own a horse, but I love horses. I love to sit down with this book and (re)learn about different horses and how to care for them. My top two favorite horses are Friesians with their beautiful black flowing manes, and the wild, enduring Mustangs.

The next few books are more science-y. Astrophysics allows me to imagine what my life may have been like if I’d joined the Air Force and chose to study space (I also follow many Aviation and NASA sites). Algorithms to Live By gives a fascinating look at how computer scientists have been solving many everyday dilemmas (and being married to a computer scientist has shown me how many of life’s purchases can be data-driven for best results).  How to be an Explorer offers simple advice – notice your surroundings, write things down, play in the dirt, do new things…. Hacking Electronics is a fun way to put my soldering iron to work. (The last 3 books I borrowed from the local library.)

Do you have any nonfiction favorites?

Fun Friday Project – Notebooks, Paris, and Picture Formatting

I adore beautiful notebooks and journals.

I find it so difficult to pass up leather-bound or brain-stirring journals, such as Sir Isaac Newton’s ‘Gravity’ cover. My greatest wish is to write the most world-changing words ever written in each of these journals.

Who can pass up anything with the gorgeousness of Paris on the cover? Not me.

Some notebooks and journals stoke my sense of superheroism, rebellion, and adventurous nature.

And sometimes we just need gentle reminders to keep going, loving, and enjoying life.

In our house, you’ll find many old, partially-used classroom notebooks. I look for ways to pretty them up and reuse them. For this experimental project, I took an old college notebook and decorated the cover with an old Paris calendar photo and added a few accents.

After taking a picture, I used the Picture Format feature in Microsoft Word Documents, to alter the look of the original photo.

Items:

  • Old partially-used college notebook
  • Old Paris Calendar photo
  • Glue Gun
  • Old Lace
  • Butterfly from an old card
  • Old Golden Paper Doilies
  • Glitter
My Work Station

Original Photo of finished product

Next: Add a few Picture Format changes for comparison.  


Turn up the Brightness by 40% and the Contrast by 40%

400% Color Saturation

Sepia

Artistic Effects – Glow Edges

Blue Accent – Dark

There are tons more curious options when it comes to using Picture Format in Microsoft. I’m not a photographer, I’m more of a lover of written words. In this present day – so much is communicated by images. It was fun for me to attempt a bit of self-guided learning about how images can be manipulated to evoke certain emotions.

It’s interesting how the Formatting changed the image and the ‘feeling’. Each photo could lend itself to a fascinating ‘story’.

~Dream, Believe, Achieve~

Stream of Consciousness Saturday – Hat

Even though I don’t participate in group blogging activities, sometimes a topic kindles a joy I can’t help writing about. I follow the blog, “Anything is Possible! With Love, Hope, and Perseverance”; and today’s topic caught my eye – Hats.

Thanks for sparking a fun memory.

My favorite hat is my Northpoint Aviation hat. I won it in a “Name The Plane” contest.

About 8(ish?) years ago, I was reading our local airport’s lovely newsletter. At the end of the newsletter was a picture of a plane, with no other identifying information. Whoever could correctly identify the plane in the photo won a prize. I don’t recall a lot of the details now; I think I emailed in the correct name of the plane. It seemed I didn’t hear anything for a while, so I thought maybe I guessed wrong. (The name of the plane was a Douglas D-558-2 Skyrocket.) At a later date, the airport emailed me to let me know I was the winner of the Fall Name the Plane Contest. The prize was waiting for me at the airport.

It was this fantastic hat!

Here’s a photo of the hat, near other airplane mementos. I have a tiny obsession with planes – especially the P-51 Mustang.

The map on the wall is from our visit to EAA AirVentures in OshKosh, Wisconsin. (I also have a tiny obsession with maps.) EAA AirVenture Oshkosh is an annual air show and gathering of aviation enthusiasts.

We went to the EAA show one year and I was able to wear my Prize.

Snapshot of me, my Prized hat, and my favorite plane – The Rebel, a P-51 Mustang.

Fun Times!

P.S. I tend to use hat and cap interchangeably. I don’t have enough hats or caps to be a connoisseur.

Healthy Thinking During Un-Positive Days

While I tend to be a positive person, there’s a lot in life that isn’t positive. We all know this, right? Life is hard, crying- in- the- shower- so- hard- you- nearly- drowned- hard (yet you’re grateful to have a shower). Life makes no sense sometimes. Is there a quota, a certain number, or amount of suffering we all have to endure? How much atrocity, cruelty, violence, illness, and pain do we need to persevere through before it stops? There are days I’m certain I surpassed all the levels of hell I needed to overcome. Still there’s more…

Apologies, I’m over-tired, and tired of trying to overcome physical pain, and I’m so broken-hearted that so many people I love are suffering. Many are in need of physical, mental, emotional, and financial care, and there’s none to be found. No cures available, no rich people to donate, no counselors able to help distressed folks out of their chaotic life. Wouldn’t it be great to fully fund every CaringBridge, GoFundMe, and Charity site?

But I can’t stay in the pit of tired despair. I can’t navigate the hard parts of life from here.

What I need to do is focus on healthy thinking in order to manage difficulties in a better way. After the tears, and the talking, I need to look at what comes next. What is the next step, no matter how small, that I can take forward?


What I appreciate about the following article is that it makes a distinction between ‘positive’ thinking and ‘healthy’ thinking.

Healthy Thinking Author: CMHA BC and Anxiety Canada

https://www.heretohelp.bc.ca/wellness-module/wellness-module-8-healthy-thinking

“What is healthy thinking?

Healthy thinking does NOT mean positive thinking! No one can look at things positively all the time. Sometimes bad things happen, like getting fired at work, having an argument with a friend or losing someone you love. It’s normal and healthy to feel upset and have negative thoughts when these things happen. Healthy thinking means looking at the entire situation—the positive, the negative and the neutral parts—and then coming to a conclusion. In other words, healthy thinking means looking at life and the world in a balanced way, not through rose-coloured glasses.”

“What are common thinking traps?

Everyone falls into unbalanced thinking traps from time to time. You’re most likely to distort your interpretation of things when you feel sad, angry, anxious, depressed or stressed. You’re also more vulnerable to thinking traps when you’re not taking good care of yourself, like when you’re not eating or sleeping well.”


Cultivating a Healthy Mindset can help us gain Healthy Thinking habits.

5 Key Elements Of A Healthy Mindset by : CATHERINE BEARD

theblissfulmind

“What Is A Healthy Mindset?

A healthy mindset involves finding ways to grow from your thoughts instead of letting them control your life. Rather than dwelling on a negative thought until it becomes overwhelming, the healthy mindset tries to a) move beyond that thought or b) simply accept it.

Instead of obsessing over a positive mindset (I wrote about why you don’t need to do that in this post), we should focus on cultivating a healthy mindset. I say that because you can have a healthy mindset even if you feel negative sometimes.

So what do you need for a healthy mindset?”


And while we’re talking about minds, here’s one of the greatest on display.

Raphael was radical and relentlessly inventive—and 500 years later a new exhibition of his work will show he still is By Hugo Chapman

https://www.theartnewspaper.com/2022/03/31/raphael-500-years-after-his-death-is-still-radical-and-relentless

“The inclusion in the show of drawings for sculpture, decorative arts, tapestry, prints and architecture underline Raphael’s versatility, yet this was not uncommon among his contemporaries. What set Raphael apart was his unerring eye for spotting the most talented artists and craftsmen to collaborate with, and then pushing their creativity to new heights through the expressive power and intelligence of his designs.”

“Even after 502 years, Raphael’s talent remains excitingly fresh and still very much worth celebrating.”


Finally, it takes brains and courage to do what this young person is doing.

Alyssa Carson, the Youngest Astronaut in Training, Wants to Make Space for Women in STEM

By Alyssa Carson

https://www.teenvogue.com/story/women-stem-alyssa-carson

“In college, I was one of the only women in my STEM (Science, Technology Engineering, and Mathematics) track. In many classes, I was the only woman, period. To say it was a little lonely is an understatement and I’d often find myself wondering where all the other women in STEM majors were. STEM is for women too, right? Of course it is. Women are smart, curious, capable beings who want meaningful work that can afford them a very healthy means of living. Why is society telling us otherwise?”

“Alyssa Carson, also known by the call sign Blueberry, is an American undergraduate college student whose goal is training as an astronaut and being selected for future human spaceflight to Mars. In 2013, she was recognized by NASA as the first to visit all 14 NASA Visitor Centers in the United States and sat on the NASA Mer 10 panel at age 12 discussing future missions to Mars in the 2030s. Alyssa’s personal experiences as a young woman in STEM drove her to partner with science-backed skin-care brand OLAY for its #FaceTheSTEMGap initiative, working alongside the brand to help double the number of women and triple the number of women of color in STEM by the year 2030. Alyssa has her rocket license, advanced scuba certification, pilot license, skydiving class A license, and is a certified aquanaut.”


Hopefully all your Heart-Cloud-Angels Guide your Brilliant Mind to Great Heights.

~Dream, Believe, Achieve~

One of the things I enjoy most about the Internet

is that it can connect us to anywhere in the world.

When we can’t travel to all the places we dream of, we like to look for bloggers and YouTubers from the areas we long to go, and get a glimpse of the lifestyle and countryside.

You probably have your own favorite online sites you visit, to gather information for places you want to travel.

Before the Russian/Ukrainian Battle

Before we even realized the extent of the unrest in the area, we listened to YouTubers from both countries.

They were so fun to observe!

They gave their audience – ‘their friends’, tours of their apartments, of their shopping excursions, of the countryside, and daily routines. They talked of their children, parents, and grandparents. They shared their wonderful community with viewers all around the world.

And now they’re supposed to be at war with each other?

This makes no sense. I don’t understand this.

In none of the videos or blogs from Russia or Ukraine, did I see ‘drug addicts or Neo-Nazis’. I didn’t see any families vilifying the other. I saw none of what leaders say are the ‘reasons’ for war.

I saw regular people, living regular lives.

On my television, I saw one confusingly intense warring leader getting compliments from another confused former leader.

Who elects these types of people?

I look at these lovely families all over the world, and I wonder, why isn’t our leadership more like the people they’re supposed to represent?

How do such dishonorable people get into such high ranks of power?

This makes no sense. I don’t understand this.

My heart goes out to every good and decent person who loves their family and friends, and their country.

I don’t know what I can do to help. I support all of the people who are doing their very best to live life fully, to be peaceful, happy, and honorable, to work hard, to be in love, and to protect their families.

Please keep sharing your goodness with your friends online and everywhere you possibly can.

Please keep showing the world who you really are!

Everyone should see what horrible leadership does to all good and decent people, no matter what side they are on.

Antique Snowmobile Rendezvous 2022

Or “How to have a Good Time in Minnesota in the Winter

5 things to know:

  1. Our local community puts together an annual event entitled the Antique Snowmobile Rendezvous. It’s an antique and vintage snowmobile show, with trail rides, and competitions. The races include only snowmobiles built in 1966 and older.
  2. People come from all over the country to share a mutual enjoyment of snowmobiles.
  3. It’s amazing how owners have managed to keep these machines running. Some snowmobiles look like cardboard boxes on skis, and they’re still capable of trail rides.
  4. The weather was perfect for this event. Day time high temperatures were in single digits above 0 Fahrenheit. There’s plenty of snow. I don’t have an exact tally, but on December 27th we had over 15 inches of snow in one day. Multiple times this winter, we’ve had snowfalls ranging from 2-6 inches.
  5. My husband and I each worked at competing snowmobile factories in the early 1990’s. He worked at Arctic Cat. I worked at Polaris. We have our biases about which snowmachine is better. (Of course, it’s the Polaris…)😊

The littlest snowmobile in this family is called a “Kitty Kat”.

Here’s a few websites for more information if interested in Antique Snowmobiles:

https://www.facebook.com/pequotbrushpilots/

https://www.facebook.com/Antique-Snowmobile-Club-of-America-190368174397789/

The Conflicting Stages of Grief and Loss

My mom died. The funeral is over. And now I have so many conflicting emotions, I’m not sure which way to turn.

The Stages of Grief is such a wild ride. I had to do some research to try to figure out what to do with this jumble of emotions that don’t make any logical sense.

The internet’s most-often given advice was to turn to a neutral, nonjudgmental listener. Normally, that would indicate talking to a counselor. But basically that cost me money I don’t have.

From the moment it became apparent mom would not recover from illness, to the moment we walked her casket to the gravesite – I did not cry.

On the way home, grief suddenly overwhelmed me, and I cried.

Not just from the loss of my mom, but also for the loss of what I hoped we’d have.

I spent so much of my life trying so hard to make our family what I wanted it to be – loving, strong, fun, but we never quite reached the levels I hoped. And now I’ve been ‘relieved of duty’ without completing my mission. It seemed I was so close, finally finding some peace. And now, without any acknowledgment for my last 55 years of service, unceremoniously I fade into the background.

My mom had me when she was 17. Think of every 17-year-old you know and try to imagine them being a parent.

I had the ‘17-year-old mom’. The mom who was still a kid herself, with kid emotions, ambitions, and a kid’s self-focus. We went through some really hard times. I was in foster care for a while. My mom did not hug me or say I love you when I was a kid. After I was in foster care, where people hugged me and said I love you, I was sent back home. I remember one day when mom looked really sad. I reached out to hug her, and she let loose on me a whole tirade of derogatory swearwords, not appropriate for print.

But that only made me more determined to make her into the kind of mom I thought she should be. Because if she didn’t change, I was afraid I’d have to go back to foster care.

Watching the photo slideshow at her funeral, made me feel as if I was successful. I helped her understand it was ok to love people. (Maybe I’m hogging credit that doesn’t belong to me, but I put in a heck of a lot of work to get us to this point.)

I saw so many photos of her hugging and loving – others.

Then, I felt sad. I didn’t get the same mom my younger siblings got. I felt a little bit resentful that I had to ‘raise’ her, and them. My siblings and I don’t remember mom in exactly the same way. They had a different version, an adult version of a mom.

At the same time, I was so proud of who she became.

I’m so proud of how we lived, and survived, and all that we overcame. We’re definitely a strong-willed, feisty bunch.

Conflicting emotions are running rampant.

This doesn’t seem fair.

Mom and I argued about fairness a lot. Every time I’d complain of something not being fair, or people being mean, she’d yell, “Life’s not fair and people are mean, stop being a baby and get used to it!” And I’d yell back, “I’m changing that when I grow up!” Or she’d say, “Life’s not fair!” and I’d yell, “It Should Be!” You can probably see she had her hands full, with a kid as annoyingly naïve and stubborn as I was/am.

People keep trying to tell me, that mom is in Heaven waiting for all her kids to join her. And I think all these things at the same time:

  • Every person who tells me she’s ‘waiting’, has no idea how impatient mom was. Every one of her kids can testify, mom was not good at waiting. If I called to ask to visit, she’d ask how soon I’d be there. “I’ll be there at 1:00, right after lunch. I can’t be there until 1:00,” I’d say.    At 11:00, she’d call to ask if I was on the road yet. “Yes mom, I’m on the road, see you at 1:00”.    At 11:30 she’d call, just to make sure I was on the road and hadn’t changed my mind. “Yes, mom, I’m on the road. I’ll be there at 1:00.”    At 12:00 she’d call. I’d say, “Mom, I said 1:00. I’m still an hour away.” She would say, “Oh oops, I meant to call your sister.”    At 12:30, she’d call to see if I got lost…. Now you might think that maybe she couldn’t rely on me to be on time. But I was always on time, often early. I always showed up when I said I would. Still, she would call multiple times to check on my progress. Mom is NOT good at Waiting.
  • I don’t want endless check-ins from Heaven asking when I’m going to get there.
  • We had to work so hard on our relationship here. I don’t want to spend eternity doing that kind of work.
  • My idea of Heaven is flying around on Pegasus’ with my True Love, learning about the Universe, and stopping to have fun-filled happy visits with my son, his love, all the grandbabies, and other cherished loved ones.
  • And while people think it’s appropriate to tell me that they know she is ‘saved’, I’m too embarrassed to tell them where mom said people can stick their Bible.

I imagine there will be a whole lot of feelings and memories that pop up over the next year or so.

As I packed for our trip to go to her funeral, I was thinking of packing her favorite candy, her favorite cookies, and her favorite soda. All the things I used to bring her every time I visited with her. I forgot that she was dead. She doesn’t need any of that.

Already, I was planning what day to call her on our weekly check-in, and then realized I can’t call her phone. I’m one part relieved that I don’t have to worry about her, her health, her safety, her care, or her feelings. Even though I thought of these calls more as gifts to mom, since she did most of the talking, they were gifts for me too. I spent time before our calls trying to find good news or funny jokes or silly stories to laugh about.

And I was able to share some of what made me happiest, like stories of my grandbabies, her great-grandchildren.

I’ll miss you momma bear.

End of Life Care, Covid

Many people have gone through this similar experience. The pandemic of 2020/2021 has left countless families unable to be with their loved ones when they need us most. I’m searching for guidance, especially from anyone who has been through this before. How can I support my sister who will be providing End of Life Care for our mom?

We’ve been through a similar situation many years ago with my stepdad. My mom cared for her husband when he had cancer, until his death at home on Christmas Eve 1999.

I’ve been trying to find the best way to help from a distance. It’s an 8-hour round-trip drive for me to be there. I’ve searched for answers and have read the Hospice brochures. All the traditional advice on how to help, isn’t an option.

I asked my sister to please let me know if she can think of anything I can do. So far, she hasn’t thought of anything. But I’d like to find some things to offer her, so she doesn’t have to spend valuable time trying to think of ways to keep me involved. I’m grateful for her ability to do this. She has a better understanding of mom’s wishes than I do.

I think about what I would want if the situation were reversed. What would I need if I were to care for mom to the end? All I can really think of is that I’d like short messages of love, support, and appreciation. And any suggestions and advice about what our family thinks mom would want or need. Or if she told them anything that they think is relevant, I’d love if they shared it.

But my thinking is often different than other people’s. So, I need someone to really tell me if they need something different than that.

My mom and I love each other. We’ve made that very clear to each other. Mom had a heart attack 6 years ago that kept her in the hospital for 45 days. We’ve talked weekly on the phone since that event. She’s stayed with me for a few weeks each year. I’ve visited with her at her various assisted living places, sleeping on her floor when she felt lonely.

I love my mom.

An Angel my mom painted many years ago, protecting the grandchildren’s fairy garden.

At the same time, we have opposite views on almost everything.

We’ve had short discussions about the end of life. She has always wanted to die at home surrounded by all her loved ones. And that was all she would say on that subject, refusing to discuss any arrangements further. She hated the topic and didn’t understand why people talked about it. I read obituaries, they’re like mini-life stories, and I always wish we knew all those awesome things about people before they died. When I die, I want to be doing something wildly heroic, or at least be outside, probably alone or maybe holding my true love’s hand, he is so ‘comforting and comfortable’. I have many of my arrangements taken care of, so there shouldn’t be too much for anyone else to do.

My mom loves to be with people all the time, all the time, especially when there is chaotic drama and misery. I like to be with people when I’m happy, celebrating, or learning something. But I need alone time equally as much, if not more than I need together time. I especially need to be alone to process heavy emotions or big life problems.

My mom has Covid, as does my sister’s household. Mom has been staying with my sister for the last two years. Their family is in Covid recovery phases. According to doctors, Mom is not expected to recover. Illnesses at her age and with her health issues are life-threatening. The doctor has said he doesn’t see that mom has long left. He is the same doctor that my stepdad had in 1999.

I feel helpless, and kind of numb? We’ve been dealing with so many nightmares these last few years…

I think it’s time to be hit with avalanches of happiness and health, to wash away all the misery we’ve endured.

Even though I’m busy distracting myself with world problems or writing about maps and books, always in my mind will be my mom, my family, and the future of things to come.

I hope we fulfill all mom’s final wishes, and things end exactly as she would want. And when my mom passes, I hope she gets to go see her husband and dance all those old-timey country songs they like.

“Death is but a transition from this life to another existence where there is no more pain and anguish. All the bitterness and disagreements will vanish, and the only thing that lives forever is love.” ~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

“Real love doesn’t die. It’s the physical body that dies. Genuine, authentic love has no expectations whatsoever; it doesn’t even need the physical presence of a person. … Even when he is dead and buried that part of you that loves the person will always live.” ~ Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Extraordinary Miracles

During this Birthday/Holiday Season people often ask me what I want.

I don’t want ‘things’. With all the heartache around me, ‘stuff’ is of little importance.

Can I tell you what I really want?

What I want, what I really want is –

Extraordinary Miracles

What I really want:

  • ALL my LOVED ONES HEALED
  • To watch all my AMAZING GRANDBABIES GROW INTO AMAZING ADULTS
  • Everyone to be Free to be their Best, Truest, Bravest, Kindest, Strongest, Wisest, most Awesome Self
  • Everyone to Make This World Awesome with Good Words and Good Deeds
  • Everyone to never settle for anything less than True Love
  • Everyone to be HAPPY, HEALTHY, WEALTHY, WISE, AND GENEROUS
  • The Planet to be HEALTHY, with LUSH GREENERY, CLEAN WATER, FRESH AIR, and Beautiful Wild Animals
  • Everyone to be filled to the brim with reasons to feel GRATITUDE
  • My son and his family, my grandbabies, my husband, my family and extended family, my friends, and countless others to know – to deeply, truly, endlessly know –  I Love Them