end of summer

but it really looks like fall with the trees just starting to change colors.  second to last day of summer here in the frozen tundra.  here are some photos from this evening’s walk around the pond.

 

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Minnesota State Fair 2014

Also dubbed the great Minnesota get together, it’s held every year the 12 days prior to and including Labor Day here in the great white north.  Our tradition has been to go opening day and then once or twice more.  This year was a bit different as I was not able to join hubby and kidlet for the usual visit first thing in the morning due to my new job.  Instead hubby and kidlet went without me and they got their hands stamped so that they could return with me after I was off of work later in the day.  Oh and kidlet got her braces off in between too.  Her teeth look great!!  It was definitely worth it!

I didn’t take as many photos this year due to not returning for a second trip.  Hubby and I had planned to go together the last weekend but I had to bow out because I stubbed my toe so badly that my foot got swollen and I could barely walk.  I was bumming because I really wanted to see the dahlia display in the Agriculture building.  However, I do have some great photos that hubby took when he went without me.  I hope you all enjoy the photo tour of this year’s fair.  Next year I will see the dahlias in person!

Up first, the crop art photos that I took:

The rest of the photos are the ones that hubby took.  Here are some from his first trip on opening day:

A bit of explanation for those that might not be aware….there are all kinds of foods on a stick at our fair. Every year there is a list of the new foods on a stick to try. So, the booth with the original eraser on a stick is a play on that.

In closing, please enjoy hubby’s photos of the dahlias I could not see in person.  He did a great job!

 

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Wild River State Park – the annual camping trip

Each summer since we’ve been in Minnesota we’ve gone on at least one camping trip.  For the past several years we’ve gone to the same spot in the Jay Cooke State Park campground.  One year we were rained out and got refunded for some of our reservation.  Two years ago was the great flood that closed our favorite Jay Cooke and we got refunded our entire reservation.  I think maybe we didn’t go camping that year.  But this year again it looked like lousy weather so we opted to cancel at Jay Cooke and on the fly chose to camp at Wild River State Park.  We had camped there before but it’s been many years.  It may have been where Miss M camped for the first time.

We chose a spot the same way we found the best spot at Jay Cooke: by looking at the map of the campground online and doing our best to choose the most private spot.  And we got “the” best spot at Wild River, according to hubby dearest.  It was rather nice, so nice we’re talking about going back there again.  And likely at the same spot.  Wild River is in a very scenic area along the St. Croix River.  We can see Wisconsin from the banks of the St. Croix.

Once we got the tent set up we set out for a hike.  This park has 35 miles of trails!  And there was a path to one of them right next to our campsite.  Of course I took photos along the way.  Here’s my photo tour of our trip to another great Minnesota State Park.  We will be back!

A few photos from our hike down to the river:

Some beautiful things we saw along the way:

Check out these great reflections!  The river was so still, and the sky with white puffy clouds and brilliant blue sky.  It was so beautiful:

While we were hiking along the river a small rain shower happened by.  In fact, here is a photo of the rain cloud that passed by:

Naturally we wondered if it was raining at the campground.  We weren’t sure we had secured anything that might get wet.  It did rain a little but all seemed well.  We started to talk about making dinner when it started to rain again.  Miss M and I hid out in the tent and hubby later joined us when it didn’t stop after 5 or so minutes.  We sat in there for about 20 minutes while it rained.  It was actually quite pleasant.  Here’s the view from the tent:

The weather was nearly perfect, albeit a little soggy.  After the rain it never really dried out.  The towels I used in the evening were still damp in the morning.  But that’s why you bring extra towels :)

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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?

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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.

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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.

Sincerely,

tobyo

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?

 

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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

 

 

 

 

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