Tag Archives: nature

The last day of the original Bell Museum, U of MN, Minneapolis

Ever since hubby talked to a U of MN employee at the fair last summer about the Bell Museum, we have been planning to go before they closed on December 31, 2016.  A couple of times our plan was foiled by the weather, but New Year’s Eve day was our very last chance and we made it!!  To say I was impressed is an understatement.  I had no idea there was this gem of a museum at the University of Minnesota.

Before you get into the building the antiquity of the place hits you.  The front doors look to be original to the nearly 145 year old structure.  The James Ford Bell Museum of Natural History opened on March 1, 1872 after the Minnesota legislature approved this:

“An Act to provide for a geological and natural history survey of the state…” and in turn, that “natural history and geological specimens be prepared, and a museum to be established at the university.”

You can read a little more about the museum at this link  although I’ll warn you that I’ve tried to play their video about the history of the museum twice and it’s not there.

There are two floors with the world famous  3D dioramas that depict scenes of typical animals in Minnesota. They are so realistic and in looking at the photos, they look like portraits but those are life-size imitations of real animals.  There is a mezzanine that displays other exhibits but we skipped it that day.  There is an auditorium on the lower level and a room with items you can touch, the Touch and See Discovery Room.  And I was surprised to see a Rainforest Gallery with live plants and trees.

I had no idea there was so much in this museum and I’m so glad we finally got there.  Hubby actually had been there as a child so it was fun for him to relive some of his younger days.  He said it looked exactly the same too.  The new museum will be on the St. Paul campus, where I work, and is scheduled to open in 2018.  One day I happened upon the construction webcam.  It’s fun to watch the time lapse movie.

Below are some of my favorite photos from our visit:

 

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Marjorie McNeely Conservatory – Como Park, St. Paul, MN

One of our favorite activities during the winter months is to visit the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory in Como Park. It’s a ten minute drive from our house and provides a nice refuge from the frigid weather.  And boy howdy, have we ever had frigid weather this year! Not to mention the piles of snow we’ve accumulated.  Here’s a good view of that snow with the conservatory in the background:

This year I focused more on the blooms.  Last year I documented many of the plants that are contained within the conservatory.  If you’re interested, check out that post by clicking here.  We managed to strike it rich in terms of seeing beautiful orchids. The winter carnival is happening right now and there was an orchid contest and the winners were displayed in one of the rooms.  I also noticed that there were many more orchids blooming this year than last year.  Last year we visited the equivalent of about 3 weeks ago.  What a difference 3 weeks makes!

I did snap some photos of lovely greenery too:

A collection of some other things blooming:

The sunken gardens where many couples get married:

And here’s a photo from hubby’s camera, the photographer at work ;)

This was quite the scene with the sloth named Chloe and the lone sun bittern.  There was a volunteer who just told us how the bittern loves to torment the sloth to gain control of this tree.  Another volunteer watched with us while the sloth moved away from the bittern.  He said he’d never seen that sloth move so fast! It seem the bittern won this round:

I’m thinking the bonsai room was either closed last year or we missed it.  There’s a nice display of a few bonsai plants but it wasn’t a good day to take photos in there.  It was too bright.  But I did get one of an olive tree and then a view of the room:

Finally, a study of amaryllis. I liked hubby’s photo a little better than mine so he let me display it here.

I’m participating in my friend Marianne’s new photo challenge “one trip every month”.  Do check out other trips at the link to her blog and enjoy!!

one trip every month

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vacation in northern minnesota

We are amongst the many people that are lucky enough to have a family cabin in the woods in northern Minnesota.  We just had a nice vacation there and here is a brief synopsis of our time at 11th Crow Wing Lake.

We arrived around noon on a sunny summer day.  The lake was beautiful and as peaceful as ever.  Here’s our view from the deck:

This ginormous dragonfly was on the door.  Isn’t it beautiful?

And Lady of the Cakes will be so happy to see food in this post ;) We decided to cook our dinner in the camp fire the first night.  Here’s one of the fire builders at work:

Pretty soon we have a fire hot enough to cook corn.  First, we soaked it in water for about an hour.  Then wrapped it in foil and put them in the fire.  They took about 10-15 minutes.  We got our corn unwrapped, peeled, buttered and salted and then roasted our hot dogs.

And just look at how talented I am.  I can roast a weenie and take a picture at the same time!!

Ready, set, eat!!

Ready for more food?  I clipped a recipe in this week’s food section in the newspaper for a different kind of rhubarb crisp.  This was made with ginger snaps and “candied” ginger.  All the store in Walker had was crystallized ginger.  It was just a tad too gingery for me so I’m not going to make it again.  But it sure looks yummy doesn’t it? (if I do say so meself):

We always have beautiful sunsets over the lake.  Here’s a couple from our first night’s sunset:

Here’s one of my favorite photos this trip, the paddlers returning in the canoe:

Two more sunset photos from our last night there:

We are so fortunate to be able to enjoy this lovely spot.

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summer gardening fun

Well, that weatherman who said that summer was over was just plain wrong.  It’s back!! Not quite by popular demand.  We’re having another heat wave, back into the 90s for the next several days.  Thank goodness there is A/C!  Meanwhile,  I’ve taken a lot of photos of things growing in the last few weeks that I wanted to share.  I hope you enjoy.

To start, a short story of the squash/melon/pumpkins growing on our fence.  Hubby heard that we had melons on our fence.  But I thought our neighbor had planted squash.  It looked like squash, bloomed like squash.  So we thought we’d take the largest one off the vine and cook it, thinking it was summer squash and the person who told hubby these were melons was mistaken.  After it was cut we thought it sure looked like a pumpkin just not matured.  It’s the dark green gourd as well as the one cut open that you see in the gallery below.  We cooked it, tasted it and declared it an early, bland tasting pumpkin.  A few days later I asked my neighbor what he planted and he said it was different kinds of pumpkins.  He mentioned that his mother put the vines on the fence.  We were both thinking that was probably not the best idea. Here’s a gallery with some of the pumpkins growing on our fence.

Next, some other things growing in the garden.  These tomatoes are yummy:

My neighbor’s arugula, two views:

Some other things blooming right now:

a little bee action

Let me squeeze in another rudbeckia, black eyed Susans:

Balloon flowers.  The first is a singular blossom with a bud of Joe Pye Weed behind it.  I especially like the second one that shows one in bloom, one that has bloomed and another blossom on the way:

Next another little gallery of photos from the cabin this past week:

And just a few other photos.  A red day lily and morning glory in my yard and petunias in downtown St. Paul:

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Early summer gardening

Can you  tell that I love gardening?  And I have such fun photographing plants and flowers.  So, sit back and see what’s growing in my yard.

My penstemon are very nearly done for the season, but here they are at their peek.  You can even see the queen of the prairie showing its first buds in the background.

A freshly harvested rhubarb plant:

If you look closely you can see a tiny cucumber forming:

Cherry tomatoes:

These are actually my neighbor’s squash, but he doesn’t mind if I photograph them:

Here’s one squash plant climbing the fence:

Now here’s a plant I do not recommend unless you don’t mind it taking over.  It is quite prolific and grows wherever the wind blows it seems.  The flowers are rather beautiful, if you don’t mind it taking over.  Suddenly they aren’t as beautiful any longer.  Here’s a close-up of one variety of lamium that grows in my yard:

And here it is taking over under the evergreens.  It’s duking it out with lily of the valley, another plant that likes to take over.  I didn’t plant any of this lamium you see here:

One of the benefits of a rhubarb plant that just keeps giving, rhubarb slush:

Remember the great start of summer storm?  Well, that nice neighbor whose hubby has a chainsaw, gave me two recipes that weekend.  One for rhubarb cake and another for rhubarb slushes.  Both excellent uses for rhubarb but most especially the slushes.  It’s the perfect summer drink.

My bee balm are just getting started:

And lastly, Stella d’oro day lilies.  They’re so beautiful:

Do you have a favorite summer flower?

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Winter beautiful

Some people around here really bemoan winter.  And I have to admit that I sometimes do as well.  When I first moved to the frozen tundra of Minnesota I was all agog at the beauty and serenity that winter can produce.  But now that I’ve been here over 20 years I am finally starting to feel what many Minnesotans express each winter, having to deal with moving the snow, driving in the snow and the challenges that come with all of that.  But every so often a snowfall comes along that produces such loveliness like the one yesterday.

It was a bit foggy this morning and all the trees were covered in the snow that fell yesterday.  I was out running errands and decided to stop along the way and snap some photos to share here as it was so beautiful.  I stopped at the church where we vote and a woman was driving into the lot as I was snapping a photo.  When she saw what I was doing, she smiled broadly. Aha!  Another person who appreciates the beauty of fresh, white snow.  Then I went to the park and snapped a few more there.  I hope you enjoy these few photos of the beauty that winter can be if you just stop to notice.

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A visit to the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory at Como Park, St. Paul

What started as a fun visit to one of my favorite spots in St. Paul, has turned into a post I’d like to dedicate to a friend who just died.  I had posted one of my orchid photos on facebook and there was a message from a mutual friend letting me know that our dear Lish lost her battle with cervical cancer.  On her facebook page was another friend reminding his female friends to get tested, indeed it is so important.  So, this will also serve as a reminder to all women out there: please get tested for cervical cancer.

I try to go to the conservatory at least once during winter and most especially when it is so frigid outside as it is today.  When we woke up it was only 2 degrees!  It’s a wonderful taste of the tropics that helps we in the frozen tundra survive the winter.  Indeed, as we entered the building our glasses fogged up.  Perfect time to clean them eh?  Following are some of my best shots.  I hope you’ll all enjoy.

From the frigid outside:

Marjorie McNeely Conservatory

Marjorie McNeely Conservatory

Next, a gallery of some beautiful orchids:

In the north garden are a variety of tropical plants as well as helpful signs that teach the visitor a thing or two.

We were told by a volunteer that there was a cacao pod in the tree but it was too far back for me to photograph, but here’s the sign for that tree:

This huge plant particularly spoke to me as it is called the Traveler’s Tree but I had to photograph it in pieces as it is quite large. Here’s the top:

The bottom:

The accompanying sign:

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There are so many interesting plants here, here’s some sugar cane:

A Manila hemp plant with rope made from its leaves:

IMG_0867Spinach anyone?  This is a Malabar spinach.  I didn’t know spinach grew up?  And can you see the black “berries”? Are these seeds?

And here’s one that made me think of Z at Zeebra Designs & Destinations and I wonder if she sees these all the time, the Panama hat plant:

This most gorgeous blossom is on a ginger plant.  I have been to the conservatory many times and I see different plants and flowers each time.  I don’t recall ever seeing this blossom before. Isn’t it beautiful?

And from another angle (it’s so beautiful I had to take several shots):

Here’s another gallery of shots of other beautiful plants and flowers:

In another area of the conservatory, adjacent to the original building (pictured up top) is the fern room:

Another fun sign:

IMG_0914Some gorgeous green ferns:

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And hubby’s favorite, a Wooly Tree Fern:

There is so much more here since they expanded it several years ago.  In another section a bit further away from the fern room is the Rain Forest room.  The best way to get there is through the gift shop, for if you take the corridor in front of the gift shop, which is full of windows, you get a bit of a chill on a cold day like today.  In this room we saw many more plants but also birds, ants, fish, a tarantula (ewie!!), snakes and well, I just could not photograph all of them.  But here are two photos of some of the things we saw. A pretty blue and yellow bird who was nice enough to sit still long enough for me to get a good shot of him:

IMG_0900And would you believe a sloth lives in here too?

IMG_0895I also recorded the birds singing in this room, and I wanted to include it so that you could hear what the birds chirping sounded like.  Alas, I am not sure how to do that.  I will look up how to do this and add it later if I can figure it out.  For now, I will leave you with a last photo of the sunken garden.  The display in this room is changed every few months and it’s already time for the spring display even though it’s only January.  They rent this room for special occasions and I know at least one couple that got married here. What a great venue for a wedding don’t you think?

IMG_0885Rest in peace dear Lish.  You made this world a brighter, happier place with your great wit, compassion and sense of humor.  I will remember you always.

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