More than a long weekend … Memorial Day


Many people think of Memorial Day as a long vacation weekend and the beginning of summer. Memorial Day is so much more. The intent of Memorial Days is to commemorate the men and women who lost their lives serving the county and defending our freedom.

The original unofficial Memorial Day

I recently read a very interesting story about the first memorial day. It is a story not often read – lost in history. On May 1, 1865, a group of African-Americans conducted a ritual of remembrance at the Washington Race Course and Jockey Club. The track and facilities had been turned into an outdoor prison during the Civil War. Union soldiers were confined to the prison and were kept in deplorable conditions. 257 Union soldiers died there. The African-Americans were remembering those Union soldiers. (For more background on this story, click HERE.)

The original official Memorial Day

The article cited above goes on to describe the first official national memorial day that was held in 1868. General John A. Logan, commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic (the Union Veteran’s Organization) called on former northern soldiers to conduct ceremonies and decorate graves to remember their dead comrades. City after city began to participate and the holiday grew from there.

Honoring others

Many of us decorate graves – not only to commemorate lost soldiers – but also to commemorate, honor, and remember family members and friends who are now gone. Perhaps this is out of character with the original intent but certainly it is a natural progression. The important thing is to also remember and honor the original intent along with remembering others.

What can you do on Memorial Day

There are many ways to honor the fallen soldiers and others:

  • Decorate graves
  • Donate to you favorite charity and consider donating to a veteran’s museum, organization, etc
  • Fly your U.S. flag at half-mast to honor fallen soldiers (This is required for all governmental agencies.)
  • Attend a Memorial Day parade
  • Visit a local memorial
  • Attend a local memorial day event
  • Plant a memory tree
  • Create a memory garden
  • Create memory stones to place in your garden
  • Create a walking path of memory stones (the walk of life)

I’m sure there are many more ways to commemorate Memorial Day. I hope you make this Memorial Day weekend more than just a long weekend off of work and that you find a way to remember.

Just one more thing

Although not the intent of Memorial Day, think about  saying a kind word to someone … perhaps a veteran. It’s not hard to do and it may very well make a difference in that person’s life. Last summer I was at the Veterans Administration facilities in St. Cloud, waiting for my btother who had a doctor appointment. I was sitting in my car, in the parking lot, watching workers cut down a tree. I also watched an older gentlemen, with a glorious silver ponytail, park his vehicle, get out and talk to the workers, and then back up his pickup. The workers then loaded some of the cut wood into the back of pickup. The gentlemen saw me watching, with my car window open, and came over to talk to me. He explained that he couldn’t work anymore so he did woodcraft to earn extra money. He also explained that the tree was a black walnut tree – wonderful wood for carving. We talked for about fifteen minutes – until he realized he was late for his appointment. As he left, he exclaimed. “I am going to tell them I am late because I was talking to the Planning Director from Anoka!” I laughed – because I don’t think that talking to me is that exciting – but it made his day and that is all that counts.

No act of kindness is ever wasted.

Thanks for reading!




Snowballs in May …

Every year we have snowballs in May. Of course, they are not the frozen kind (well, at least most years they are not). They are the flowering snowballs . . .

PicMonkey Collage2.jpg

We call this bush the Grammy Becker bush. Long ago we brought a small piece of one of her bushes home and planted it. Grammy Becker’s soil, however, was southern Minnesota ‘black gold.’ Our soil is Anoka sand plain – and I emphasize sand. While her bush had very large blossoms (snowballs), our are much smaller. Every year, though, it has more and more blossoms and has turned into more of a tree-bush.

In the pictures below, you will see a picture of Grammy Becker’s homestead not long before it was torn down to make room for a new house. The snowball bushes were near the front door. All are gone – the house, most of the out buildings, the snowball bushes and Grammy Becker. We think of her often, especially in May, when our snowballs appear.

PicMonkey Collage.jpg

And here she is – peeking out of the old shed … The shed is long gone … but perhaps Grammy Becker is still watching over her home place.

PicMonkey Collage3.jpg

Thanks for reading! 






A peek through time … the mystique of abandoned homes

What is it about old, abandoned homes and buildings that draws you in? Do you wonder who lived there long ago? Do you wonder who passed by or stopped for a visit? Do you wonder about the lives of those who lived there?  I sure do.

For me, the buildings are begging to have their story told. This can be done by reviewing the property abstract to find out who lived there. Then the real search begins – looking in newspaper, census records, historical society records, genealogies, etc … to create a building history based in large part on the people who lived there. Similar work is done when properties are listed on historic registers. Typically, however, those properties are eligible for listing because of the architectural character, important events that occurred on the site, or people living there who had a significant impact on history. I find that many properties – not eligible for listing on a historic registry, have equally interesting stories to tell … stories of common people and how they lived and died. They all hold a mystery begging to be told.


Of course, abandoned buildings are also great settings for a fairy tale, a creepy story or a ghost story. Can you see a woman looking out of the upper story window? Look long and hard … she may well appear.


It’s not just homes that have stories to tell. The building below is struggling to keep the windows  and siding in place … while standing tall. Who played in that loft? What landscape did they see when they peered out the window? Where they hiding? Was it there hideaway?


Next time you drive by an abandoned building, will you wonder about its story?

Thanks for reading!






More than Mother’s Day …

mother's day.jpg

Today is Mother’s Day – a time to celebrate Mothers.

Mothers encourage, promote and support you,

They keep an eye on you and pay attention to you,

They mind the ‘store’ when you need someone to fill in,

They pay attention to you, nurture and protect you,

They nurse you, pamper you, and minister to you,

They foster, feed, humor and cherish you,

They watch out for you, watch over you and love you.

This mother may be your biological mother, your adopted mother, or someone

Who does all of these things.

Whoever it is, take some time tomorrow to acknowledge your ‘Mother.’

It doesn’t take much –  even a thank you or a kind word.

Because that’s how mothers are. They are there for you.

Happy Mother’s Day!

ReNEWing our landscape decor … meet Shirley and the winged goddess

One of my favorite things to do is paint … pictures, decor items, walls – it doesn’t matter. However, it’s getting harder to paint walls so now I find little projects to work on – such as reNEWing oiur landscape decor.

Meet Shirley. Shirley is named after my mother, who loved and collected frog memorabilia (especially salt and pepper shakers, which are now residing at my niece’s house). Shirley (the frog) was looking a little worn after a few summers outdoor. She was very faded and frankly, she looked like she should be sitting in the dumpster.

However, I just didn’t want to part with Shirley. So my husband gave her a new green shiny coat.




Next it became my project. First, I painted the log she is sitting on – from it’s rusted, faded color to this ….



Then I started on the face …


And here is Shirley – standing proud on the deck – ready to welcome guests. I should note that the real Shirley had brown eyes – but the blue stands out much better – and never fails to get a comment or two from visitors.


Shirley sits next to the refurbished winged goddess (fountain). The goddess is about 20 years old; she was very tired and  very faded. So my husband too her all apart, made sure the pump and all the other items were tight (because she used to leak more water than the water that came out of her pitcher), painted her with spray paint, and reassembled. Good as new.



Behind the goddess, you will find this …



And now on to the next project …

Thanks for reading!

A gator and a hammock … or, how to be a hit with grandkids

Last week we got to have two of our granddaughters for the day. They are  8 and 10 and full of energy. Drawing, coloring and watching TV lasted about five minutes. Luckily, it was nice outside … and Papa needed a little help.

First, the girls helped pick up sticks from the soft maple tree ..



While picking up sticks, the girls picked my first bouquet of the season …


Next they helped rack leaves.  Then papa set up the hammock … again, great fun …



Soon it was time to dump the leaves and sticks … bring on the gator.


Then a quick trip to the store to get lunch – hot dogs, chips, and lots of etc. and a quick ride on the horse.


After lunch and a little more work, it was time for another ride with Papa  … they love having their hair blow in the wind.


The hammock kept the girls occupied for most of the afternoon …  until … you guessed it … another gator ride  – this time with Grandma along …  a half-hour ride. What fun!!

Thanks for reading!