morning glories

One thing I absolutely love about summer in Minnesota is the abundance of morning glories.  My neighbor planted seeds several years ago and they’ve continued to reseed and make lovely blossoms along our shared fence.  Here are a few of some recent snaps of them that I hope you’ll enjoy.


The center of some of those flowers look electric don’t they? Interesting lighting that day eh?


Filed under Gardening

Weekly Photo Challenge – Silhouette

A silhouette of two of  my favorite people:

11th Crow Wing Lake-Sun reflection and Dad and daughter reflecting on life

11th Crow Wing Lake-Sun reflection and Dad and daughter reflecting on life

Here they are again in the canoe many years later (this summer):

To see more entries or to enter yourself, click here.


Filed under Challenges

Dear President Obama

So, I had a crazy thought to write to my president in hopes that he could help.  I was hoping it would catch his eye and I knew it was a long shot but I had to try.  I thought I would share my letter here.  Just because.

Dear President Obama,

I know you’re a busy guy with so many other, bigger issues on your mind.  But I hope you’ll at least spend the 5 or so minutes it will take you to read this letter.  It’s about my elderly mother and the Veterans Administration.

My mother is a widow and has lived on her own in her retirement complex in southern Florida for over 17 years.  For most of those years she was able to take care of herself.  During the summer of 2012 that all changed.  My siblings and I realized that she needed some help.  So, I hired Comfort Keepers and she and her aide get along famously.  It’s been a great arrangement.  That same summer we learned that Mom qualified for Veterans benefits because our father was a war veteran in World War II.  So we started the process.

My sister filled out the lengthy online application with Mom on the phone in the fall of 2012.  I don’t have the exact details on what happened with that application but suffice it to say we are now back to square one with the Veterans Administration.  There were a few issues with this application that we just learned about this week.  First, we apparently applied for veterans benefits for a living veteran.  The VA thought Mom was the veteran and opened a file under her name and SSN even though we put our father’s name and SSN on the original application.

Long story short, we now have to fill out another set of forms to apply for spousal benefits for our mother.  I’m disheartened and dismayed that nearly two years have passed and we still don’t have the benefits we believe our mother is due.  And now we have to start all over.

Mom is 91 now and fairly frail so the best thing for her is to stay in her home with an aide to help her.  But we need the financial benefits from the VA in order for her to stay there as her money will run out in about a year.  We’ve been told that some applicants have gotten retroactive benefits from the original date of the application.  And that seems appropriate in this case but how do we go about getting that?

That’s when I thought of writing to you. I’m sure this is a long shot but I am so worried about her that I thought it was worth a try to see if you could do anything for us.  We would be so grateful for anything that you might be able to do.

Thank you for your consideration.



You can probably guess that I didn’t get his attention.  I did get a reply in the form of a standard issue postcard that thanked me for my correspondence and that they’ve forwarded it on to the appropriate agency.  My letter was sent nearly two months ago. The new application was sent about a month ago.  I’m considering writing to him again.  What do you think?

UPDATE 8/17/14:  I did contact Senator Franken the other day and today I learned that the VA denied Mom’s claim.  So I sent another note to Senator Franken to disregard my first correspondence.  Pretty disappointing but at least we can move forward with Plan B.  Anyone have a Plan B?



Filed under Writing

summer gardening continued

I thought I had only taken a few photos in the last week but I just downloaded and there were quite a bit!  I thought I’d share some of my favorites.   First, some rudbeckia:

The balloon flower is at its peak:

A few more from the veggie/fruit gardens:

Random blooms:

Gratuitous photo of Fritz.  He helps me weed:

he helps me weed






Filed under Gardening

summer blooms

I love gardening!  And I love photographing flowers too.  Here are some of my latest photos from my own garden and a few from other gardens.

First, my neighbor’s delphiniums.  One without his chickens and one with:

These are a friend’s bee balm which are not the more common red ones we see everywhere, including my own backyard. These are almost purple and I just love them. I was trying to capture a bee on the close-up and actually stood there for a bit waiting for it to move.  Finally I got impatient and I had to move.

From Gold Medal Park near work on one of my strolls that I take as a break, beautiful red day lilies:

Pink coneflowers:

One great thing about July in Minnesota is that ALL of the lilies are in bloom.  Here’s another version:

We decided to grow squash this year and here is one of those blooms:

And last but certainly not least is what might be my favorite summer bloom, queen of the prairie:


Do you have a favorite summer flower?


Filed under Gardening

Chicago – my home town

I was lucky enough to receive an invitation to my aunt’s 95th birthday party to be held in her condo complex in Chicago, where I sort of came from.  Both of my parents and both of my siblings were all born in Chicago.  I happen to be the only one in my family who was not born in Chicago.  By the time my sister came along my parents needed a bigger home.  They decided on a new development in Carpentersville, west of Chicago, and that’s where I spent my first 9 years.

My father had three sisters, two of them and most of their extended families still live in the Chicago area.  I have been back many times and always have a great time there.  This time was no different and was filled with non-stop, mostly fun, activities.  We had the hiccup that was my bag getting lost.  It decided it wanted to see Detroit instead of Chicago but was returned to Chicago the following morning.  And since I flew a budget airline, you guessed it, I had to go get my bag.  No matter, we kept our spirits up for the most part even though it cut into our sight seeing time.  But, what do you do?  Get crabby and ruin everyone’s time? I think not! I was pretty disappointed since this was my first time flying with this airlines but it all worked out in the end.  I got my bag, was able to finally change my clothes and we headed downtown for our one day of sightseeing.  On the way we all decided we wanted to go up Willis Tower.  It was a gorgeous day so would be perfect for viewing from the 103rd floor.

But first, lunch:

Outside Willis Tower:

that's a long way up

that’s a long way up

As one might imagine, there was quite the line to ascend an elevator to the top of Willis Tower on a beautiful summer Saturday afternoon.  Here’s a “time lapse” set of photos of the wait that spanned just over an hour.  And yes, it was worth it.

There are things to keep you busy while you wait, several monitors with quizzes and factoids along the walls like this one:

Finally, we got to the top!  Rather, the 103rd floor.

My sister and I decided to sit out the skydeck.  A newer addition to the building, there are four glass boxes that jut off of the building where you can look down to see the street below.  This is a photo my daughter took of my nephew’s and her feet looking down at the street:

And one more of the three brave ones in the skydeck:

We spent that evening with the family of my other aunt and had a wonderful time catching up with all of them.  The next day was my other aunt’s party and believe it or not, I took no photos?  I was too busy chatting I suppose but I did copy some that my brother-in-law took.  Here are a couple of the birthday girl:

It was a very nice party and I hope that when I’m 95 I will look as good as my aunt!

We had a little time to kill before being dropped off at the airport so we decided to take a ride down Lake Shore Drive and end up in Millennium Park.  But first my brother took us on a little tour of a few places from his childhood (before they moved to Carpentersville).   One of those was the apartment building that my grandparents and parents lived in when my parents were first married.  He pointed out our grandparents’ apartment which was easy to spot as it faced the street and then showed us the door that led up to where our parents lived.  I was amazed that he could remember where the apartment building was after so many years!  It was great to finally see that piece of history from long ago.

We decided there wasn’t enough time to park and walk through Millennium Park so we were content to just drive by.  I did get to see “the bean” just not up close and personal.  Perhaps next time.

I have just one more photo to share that I hope my blog friend sees.  I couldn’t help but think of Lady of the Cakes when I saw this shop in the airport:

It was a quick but fabulous weekend and I can’t wait to go back.  I love Chicago!  What is your favorite thing to do in Chicago?


Filed under Travel

Summer gardening

Thought I’d share what’s going on in the garden right now.  First a couple of what I think is milkweed after they’re done blooming that I found on the walking path near the cabin.

The bee balm are about at their peak right now.

Check out my humongoloid rhubarb plant (time to harvest again!!) from the inside and from the outside.

Our veggie garden is coming along!  We’ve got tomatoes, cukes, beans, basil and a pepper plant(basil and pepper plants not visible).


Filed under Gardening