Archive for the ‘Stupid Rheumatoid Arthritis’ Category

Hiking Vermilion Gorge


Hi again! The summer was pretty busy at the farm (www.cookscountryconnection.com) , so Mr. Wonderful, Danny, and I took a Sunday off to make another hike up to Vermilion Gorge.  The leaves were still beautiful, and the high temp was 88!

People often mistake Vermilion Falls with Vermilion Gorge. The Falls are the really short hike that was shortened a few years ago. It’s right before Crane Lake. Here is the USFS sheet on that one. 

Vermilion Gorge is the 3 mile round-trip hike that takes about 3 hours “at a leisurely pace”, according to Vermilion Gorge USFS info sheet.  Drive all the way through Crane Lake and park in the private parking lot for Voyagaire Houseboats on the left. In the fall and early spring, the lot is full of said houseboats, but there will be signs pointing you to the trailhead.

The hike starts in a birch/aspen (popple) forest, and the sky was perfect this day. Most of the maple leaves were on the ground, but the vibrant yellows popped with the deep blue fall sky. We spent a lot of time looking straight up.

 

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As the trail climbed into the Norway pines, we noticed a million types of mushrooms.

Vermilion Gorge (18 of 195) Vermilion Gorge (26 of 195)And writing this post, I noticed we got photobombed by a bald eagle!! Very top of the photo, left of center. 
Vermilion Gorge (20 of 195)The reflections were breathtaking. 
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Some kind soul had left a walking stick at the trailhead, so the Boy happily used it, returning it for the next person.

 

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I could be wrong, but I think this is a glacial erratic. I didn’t get any good shots of it on this trip, so this pic is from last year.

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We sat for a break (for me, not them lol), and Paul noticed this birdnest in a birch tree overhanging the gorge.

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Yep, he has his device. But he got some awesome photos and is reading in this picture. No gaming.

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It was during this break that I noticed cairns farther upstream. Paul and Danny did some scouting, and were sure I could make it, with help. I’m so lucky to have these two; I wouldn’t have attempted this hike without backup. Not that it’s super-difficult; it’s just too much for me, with bum hips, knees, and ankles. They were such troopers, helping me up and down stairs and steep sections of trail.

Anyway, I remembered being on the other side of the monolith with BFF Terri several years ago, and had pretty much given up the idea of making it there this time. Luckily the lure of getting photos with the sun hitting the gorge dead-on and a little encouragement from my family got me over the hump.

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Would you believe that not counting the canoeists, we only saw two people on the way in, and a group of four as we were almost back out??

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Hope you enjoyed the hike!

 

 

Update


Holy hell have we been busy!!

As you probably know, we had a “catastrophic loss” of the dollar store and retail/residential building we (mostly Lois) spent seven years nurturing. Click here to read that post. That was over two years ago now, in June of 2013.

My sister already had quite the menagerie of pets–mostly “needs a good home” types, and now she had to figure out how to feed them.She’d always wanted to do animal therapy, but the store and life kept getting in the way. Now we had the time, and some insurance money that needed to be put to good use, so we went for it, and Cook’s Country Connection was born.

Last Labor Day was our first day open to the public (we’d been shooting for May, but you know how these things go!). We got a few field trips under our belts and worked out many kinks in that first two months of operation.

I also became a grandma in October of last year!! My Middle Spawn Harley had a baby boy, and he is the seventh generation to be on the farm! She is an awesome mom, nursing him and using (not to mention MAKING) cloth diapers.

Liam_Monster_Jammies-4

I love being a gramma, and helped a lot with babysitting his first few months while his mom worked midnights. Naturally I overdid it. Now we are easing back in, but wow is he faster and stronger than me some days!! The Toddler Corral is a great safe place to plop him when I am busy in the Farm Store.

LW and chicks at farm (8 of 8)

The Baby Exhibit!

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LW, perilously close to the poultry.

 

My Eldest Spawn, Bethany is getting married later this month! She has always been the party planner of the family, so of course everything is ticking right along on schedule. Her step daughter calls me Gramma, too, so that’s been arip.

I spent the winter being an artist…photographing and making jewelry which we sell at the Farm Store and the gallery in town, and writing. I even joined a writers’ group at the gallery, which helps force me to make time to write. Youngest Spawn has attended the group with me all summer, and it’s been really good for him, too. I always tell him how talented he is, but sometimes it means more from strangers.

I also signed up to teach a couple of Community Ed classes at the farm. Making a bowling ball gazing ball, vermiculture, and yoga at the farm. Yoga. What the hell was I thinking??? I was thinking that since my yogini moved out east, we could still do yoga at the farm if I taught it. Ugh. My procrastination is in high gear on that one!! Not to mention Imposter Syndrome! My rheumatologist thought it was a great idea, so we’ll see!

What else is new??? Mr. Wonderful would like me to tell you I’ve also been busy making him sammiches. I shouldn’t have to tell you that is BS. I have, however, made lots of jelly.

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Loveyabye! Talk to you soon, and hope to see you at the farm!

PS: You’re welcome, Dawny B!!!

 

 

 

Sunflower Ghosts


Ok,  my hands are killing me, but I wanted this post done before Halloween’s over.  Here’s the Cliff Notes version:

Back in September, I covered my sunflowers with old white curtains to protect them from frost. My neighbor thought I was just decorating early for Halloween! Which was a great idea; I’d already tried coloring eyes and mouths with Sharpie but was a failure. I was muttering about the problem when Paul (aka Mr. Wonderful) suggested using fabric. “But it hurts to use scissors!” I whined. Then I remembered the cutting board and rotary cutter I invested in a few years when Cook got a quilt shop (Thanks again, Susan Covey of Cabin Quilting!)

Sewing hurts too, so Paul suggested fabric glue. Woohoo! We were business. I have almost no range of motion in my wrists lately, so he helped position the ghosts, too.  One of the best things about making Halloween decorations is that they don’t have to be perfect! Get a kid to help. Or someone with crappy range of motion. It could be therapeutic. 😀

sunflower ghosts-2 sunflower ghosts-3 sunflower ghosts-6 sunflower ghosts-7 Tadah!!

sunflower ghosts-14

Another Halloween craft project that’s fast, cheap, and easy. Like my sister. Just kidding! Please Pin, Like, Share, or comment this project, or better yet, do it yourself!

Tea With Auntie Linden


What, you don’t name your trees? This is one of our favorite trees. Mine (Laura) shades my whole front yard in the summer. Lois’ shades the old wood shed/ice house at Cook’s Country Connection. Listen, if Pocahontas could have Grandmother Willow, we can have an Auntie Linden. And like Grandmother Willow, the Auntie Linden in our yard has smacked a guy or three in the head. So shush.

Linden, Basswood, tea, make your own tea

The last time I read Jean Auel’s Clan of the Cave Bear series, Ayla used Linden flowers to sweeten something. Finally! Something that grows in the near-arctic conditions of Cook, MN!! I searched Wikipedia to be sure it wasn’t just literary license, and discovered many other fun facts.

There is a Linden tree in Gloucestershire that is coppiced (omigod, I didn’t even know there was a word for that!! It means to harvest by cutting tree down to the stump, then letting its shoots start over. It’s technically the same tree) thought to be 2,000 years old. If you live up here, imagine a willow after attempted chainsawing.

coppice

Coppiced tree +1 year. Image Wikipedia.

The name of Linnaeus, the great botanist, was derived from a “lime” tree in Europe–what we Yanks call Basswood or Linden .

Linnaeus… You know, the guy who came up with a universal system for naming things. Binomial nomenclature. ie: Tilia americana. Ringin’ any bells??

There’s more.   “The excellence of the honey of far-famed Hyblaean Mountains was due to the linden trees that covered its sides and crowned its summit.” Beekeepers love Linden/Basswood/Lime trees! The first time I noticed a buzzing noise coming from the tree I park under (Auntie Linden), and looked up to see thousands of honeybees I called my sister in a panic. “Don’t come over!! You will DIE!!” (She’s allergic to bee or hornet stings.) She laughed and said ” They’re just doing what bees do. Leave them alone, and they’ll leave you alone. Just don’t piss ’em off.” Roger that.

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I read on:

“In particular, aphids are attracted by the rich supply of sap, and are in turn often “farmed” by ants for the production of the sap which the ants collect for their own use, and the result can often be a dripping of excess sap onto the lower branches and leaves, and anything else below. Cars left under the trees can quickly become coated with a film of the syrup (“honeydew”) thus dropped from higher up. The ant/aphid “farming” process does not appear to cause any serious damage to the trees.”

Well, that’s pretty awesome… and it explains all the ants in that area. And it doesn’t hurt the trees! Huh. Here I was all worried that the ants were a sign that one of my favorite trees in all the world was sick. Whew!

It’s also good for making guitars, and even clothing. You can eat the young flowers and leaves, too!

Linden, Bassweed, tea, make your own linden tea

But coolest of all, it has medicinal properties that my body needs, like fighting inflammation and healing the liver.

“Most medicinal research has focused on Tilia cordata, although other species are also used medicinally and somewhat interchangeably. The dried flowers are mildly sweet and sticky, and the fruit is somewhat sweet and mucilaginous. Limeflower tea has a pleasing taste, due to the aromatic volatile oil found in the flowers. The flowers, leaves, wood, and charcoal (obtained from the wood) are used for medicinal purposes. Active ingredients in the Tilia flowers include flavonoids (which act as antioxidants) and volatile oils. The plant also contains tannins that can act as an astringent.

“Linden flowers are used in herbalism for colds, cough, fever, infections, inflammation, high blood pressure, headache (particularly migraine), and as a diuretic (increases urine production), antispasmodic (reduces smooth muscle spasm along the digestive tract), and sedative. In the traditional Austrian medicine Tilia sp. flowers have been used internally as tea for treatment of disorders of the respiratory tract, fever and flu. New evidence shows that the flowers may be hepatoprotective. The wood is used for liver and gallbladder disorders and cellulitis (inflammation of the skin and surrounding soft tissue). That wood burned to charcoal is ingested to treat intestinal disorders and used topically to treat edema or infection such as cellulitis or ulcers of the lower leg.

Linden, Basswood, tea, make your own linden tea

Thus, last year I made tea from the flowers and the smaller leaves they were attached to. Honestly, I don’t know if it helped the Stupid Rheumatoid Arthritis. But I’m sure it didn’t hurt. 😉 And it tasted good. Want to make your own? Good. Here’s what I did:

  • when flowers are mostly open, gently pick them and the smaller leaf they are attached to from the bigger main leaves. This year, they are a month behind normal. Big surprise.
  • I spread them evenly on trays in my dehydrator and when crumbly I separated leaves from flowers and put them in old, airtight mason jars for winter.
  • Then, come January I added some Rugosa Rose hips for Vitamin C and voila! Yummy, healthy, tea for two.

Linden, basswood, lime tree, tea, arthritis, rosehip,

Linden, basswood, lime tree, tea, arthritis, rosehip,

As you can see, the tea has very little color to it. Go by taste- not color- to judge strength. 3 or 4 minutes should be fine for a cup to brew.

Linden, basswood, lime tree, tea, arthritis, rosehip,

You’re welcome.

As usual, if you liked this article, please click “Like” “Share” “Pin”, or leave a comment. Thank you for reading! Loveyabye!

 

 

 

For Fox’ Sake…


That may be my favorite blog post title EVER.

On Sunday July 6, Mr. Wonderful, Male Spawn, and I took a day trip to the Vermilion Falls and Vermilion Gorge hiking trails. Northern MN has been getting a lot of rain and so I hoped there would be lots of photo opportunities. The weather didn’t cooperate, but the wildlife did!

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Next time we’ll take video, too. On the short walk back to the car, someone pointed out a dragonfly.

Dragonfly, mn, pajari girls, cook's country connection, photography, pretty bugs

Then Danny grabbed my arm and pointed up the trail…

Canid, fox, cross fox, red fox,

Canid, fox, cross fox, red fox,

 

Canid, fox, cross fox, red fox,

Canid, fox, cross fox, red fox,

 

Could it be a Red fox? They come in many colors…including Silver, which is different from the Gray fox,  which are one of only 2 members of the Canidae family that can climb trees…but the Gray fox has a black tail. Crap.

This was driving me nuts! (I really really really hoped that it was a young Timber Wolf. That opened another can of worms. )

I sent the photos to my friend Colleen who works at the USFS, LaCroix Station. The biologist there said it was a Cross fox. 100% sure. At first I didn’t understand. Was that a cross between a Red and Gray? Nope, it is a TYPE of Red fox. At one time it was thought to be it’s own species, but DNA study changed that. However, “fur farmers and trappers continued to treat each red fox colour form as a distinct species long after scientists concluded that they were variations of the same one”, according to Wikipedia. Well, that clears things up!

I have hauled my Nook around everywhere with me, even to a Little League game. Jeremiah’s dad (John) said he would look into it, too. He works for the DNR. **JUST IN** The DNR says Cross Fox, too! Thanks, John V.!

 

I posted the pictures on Facebook, too, getting several different opinions.

At this point, my vote is Cross fox.

What’s your vote? Please Like, Comment or Share…for fox’ sake!

 

 

PS: If you liked this post, check out Cook’s Country Connection’s Wild Neighbors page. Chop chop. Tell Lois The Employee of the Year sent you. Loveyabye!

 

 

Through the Window


Every day, WordPress issues Prompts or Challenges. Today’s was “Look through your nearest window for one minute and tell us what you see”.

I hereby invoke the right of Artistic License and also include what I THINK when I look out this window.  I left it pretty much the way it came out of my head…stream-of-conscious style.  I included links so that if you fall behind, you can click to get the rest of the story.

window, snow, cat, houseplants

I Spy…..

  • Big Guy plowing. which means, since I don’t pay him for this service, I will hafta have my sister sleep with him. Good thing they’re married. This pimping out my sister barter system has worked great for me AND him for years. He fixes my brakes, and I say, “Thanks! I’ll have my sister sleep with you!” He delivers dirt for my garden, I say, “Thanks! I’ll have my sister sleep with you!”  You get the idea. Like I said, it worked great….until she had our friend The Electrician on Retainer wire in the tanning bed in the basement of The Barn. She said, “Great, thanks! I’ll have my sister sleep with you!” Poooooor Stewart. We both turned a few shades of purple and I said, “That’s not fair!! I’m not married to him!!” and I have since been thinking of alternate barter items. No, I haven’t paid up–and have since met Mr. Wonderful. Looks like Lois will need to break out the checkbook. Sorry… dollar!
  • and that I need to bank the house. Tricky with arthritis flaring in left wrist and right shoulder. Just kinda going in pathetic little circles…
  • the mail I am avoiding,
  • the steps grampa built  (how the hell am I gonna fix THAT?? They are cracked. 😦 I used to sit on them and wave to the tourists when I was little…squirrel!),
  • the spot where I grow hybrid sunflowers, morning glories, lilies, etc.,
  • Lots of houseplants!  Rosemary, celery, aloe, venus flytrap & sundew (both in terrariums) spider plant
  • GF Peaches, hopefully making sure the surviving Guinea Monster From Hell stays at the neighbors’.
  • the corn husks really need to come down… maybe the crows from Halloween can  stay. Should probably brush them off so they look real-er…
  • Lake Country Power trucks going to help the Lake People, I assume. All the snow has probably downed lines and trees all over.

I’m feeling a little guilty about this half-assed post. But I would feel guiltier if I kept ignoring all the other crap I need to do…. So there ya go. Have a nice day, drive carefully, and loveyabye.

 

One Lovely Blog Award


one lovely blog award

Thank you Heather of  Rambling of a Hedge Witch for awarding me the One Lovely Blog Award! I finally got around to really looking at your blog, and love the Pet Portraits blog, too..a very talented lady.

The rules of this award are:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you (manners, people! manners!).
  2. Add the “One Lovely Blog Award” image to your post.
  3. Share 7 things about you.
  4. Pass the award on to seven nominees.
  5. Include this set of rules (important, otherwise confusion and mass hysteria ensues).
  6. Inform your nominees by posting a comment on their blogs.

*If this is your first Blog Award Nomination, you might want to read this post. It’s things I wish I’d known earlier lol.

7 things about me:

  1. I have recently discovered I have a form of OCD involving spelling, grammar, and punctuation. I’m working on a post about that, but am extra-worried that I am doing something wrong.
  2. I don’t just love to laugh; I need to laugh. Daily. It’s part of how I battle depression, and I think I got the idea from Robin Williams. (But I’m fighting off a stomach bug and can only be upright for a short time. Sue me if I’m wrong.)
  3. My sister (The Queen of Poo, aka Boss Lady, aka Sissy Butt) says the best word to describe me is “irreverent”. “Insubordinate” was a close second. Whatever.
  4. I am on the fence about Blog Awards, but for today I find the pros outweigh the cons.
  5. We have two pets at my house, GF Peaches the neutered, male, half-Manx cat and Isabelle the Guinea Pig. (Any other creatures I talk about are my sister Lois’s.) That link is a YouTube video I made of GF playing piano/nippin’ out. He plays piano without catnip too.
  6. I am finally at a place in my life where I like who I am. This is not an accident; it took a lot of work. And a lot of mistakes, lol.
  7. I use texting shorthand quite a bit. The reasons? My female Spawn are 18 and 20 (our main form of communication is text), and I have RA so some days my hands are uncooperative.

These are my awardees, and a short note about each and why I chose them.   In general, I included blogs I was bummed I forgot for the Liebster, and then went through my “posts I recently liked” list. Please stop by and visit them as well as visiting my nominator’s very cool and interesting blog. Accepting this award is optional, and supposed to be fun. Don’t feel you have to do it; nothing bad will happen if you choose not to. 🙂

Quarter Acre Home: This chick boggles my mind; she grew up in a city and is living her dream of living sustainably on about 1/4 of an acre. Having been raised on a thousand acre beef and horse farm, I find her blog fascinating. Her latest post, “Animal Rights VS Animal Welfare” is a must-read if you are conflicted or confused about eating and raising meat.

The Return of the Modern Philosopher: This is funny stuff, written by a real-life screenwriter. Latest post titles include “Zeus Announces Contest to Name New God” and “The Mourning After, or How to Deal With a Drunk Leprechaun“. I always laugh, and have something new to think about when I leave this page.

Rag Bag Originals: This is my friend Ruth Huismann’s blog. She works across the hall from me and I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know her, her spawn, her mom (who scares me a little), and her siblings. I admire her sense of humor and the things she does with fabric. It’s because of her that I am thinking about buying myself an American Girl doll–she makes the cutest clothes for them. She also makes mittens that encourage the myth of Minnesota Nice. (Ever try to flip someone the bird wearing mittens??)

The Wicker Woman: This is another local lady who is a very talented artist. She makes the COOLEST baskets with antler handles, re-canes furniture, and does many other amazing things. She has been creating literally as long as I have been alive, and has been blogging for 8 years.

Single Dad Laughing: This guy’s blog  is kind, funny, smart, and honest, and I love the way he approaches parenting. I first found it through my sister, who suggested reading his post “16 Ways I Blew My Marriage.” Shortly after that, he posted “I’m Christian, Unless You’re Gay“, which is an eye opener for all faiths )or none) and sexual orientations. Most recently, he did an AMAZING thing for a neighbor of his, posting an appeal for help that resulted in a gift from his readers in the amount of $10,000. A great example of the good that can be done via the internet.

Fish of Gold:  According to Fish of Gold herself, “FOG is a eclectic assortment of opinions, experiences, gripes, stories and fiction.” Honest, interesting, uplifting and funny stuff. Her New Year’s post brought a tear to my eye, and The Middle Finger: The Jolliest Finger of All made me laugh out loud. You are missing out if you don’t follow this fish.

Bananas and Prunes: This lady and her hubby Bill have recently moved back home with her mother to be her caretaker.  Her latest adventure started with the question, “What Could Be Worse?” when she decided to clean out some of her mom’s belongings. I won’t spoil it, but it was freaking hilarious. I am still chuckling days later. Read this now.

Pouring My Art Out: His motto is “Ripping out my guts for your entertainment”. That sums it up nicely. Here, you will find adorable baby pics of his nephew Willy and pics of Saddam Hussein and Mother Theresa in footie (footy? feety?) pajamas. Kind of reminds me of myself….crazy, but in a fun, non-threatening way. Visiting this blog always makes me laugh, smile, and exclaim,  “WTF is WRONG with you?!?!?” Good times, good times.

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