Category Archives: Minnesota

Our Midnight

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Our Midnight.  Midnight was the extended Bates and Gall family pet and everyone’s friend. His vivacious, contagious spirit made you laugh and love life.  Midnight loved his Dean, and the special attention Dean gave him.  He loved people.  He loved our kids and grandkids, “his kids”.  He loved the many friends and family who visited our home. Whined and cried with happiness when any one came to visit “him”, of course.  He loved his Elisabeth, stayed at her side after every chemo treatment until she was back on her feet.  He loved the morning ritual of seeing Libby and Brendan onto the school bus.  He loved crockpot dinner and Chinese carry-out nights.  He loved his evening walks especially those that included a DQ ice cream cup.  He loved going out to “the farm”.  Midnight loved lakes and creeks, and chasing  after all the waterfowl that lived in them.  But he hated thunderstorms.  Major anxiety raced his pounding heart except oddly for those he embraced outside.  One of my fondest memories was being on the boat dock of cabin #2 at Valhalla Resort on Island Lake in Minnesota.  The thunderheads rolled in above the lake so abruptly like the cap-size waves that July evening.  Midnight and I faced the storm together while missing our Dad who passed away too soon to enjoy that evening with us.  We ran together for shelter once the lightning strikes began. And that story reminds me of the time Dean, Midnight, and I ran for the shelter from a tornado overhead while at the farm and greenhouse.  The whirling winds rocked our van just inches from the creek.  I think all three of us had a few more gray hairs after that adventure!

Our Midnight passed away on Monday, June 11.  And yes, this is our Midnight’s eulogy. Our 13-1/2 year old Labrador-flat coat retriever mix was 115 years old in human years.  It came suddenly, the vet said his body gave way to old age.  Midnight lived and loved 5 generations of the Bates/Gall family.  He was given to my Grandpa Earl and Grandma Paula as a Christmas gift in 2004.  Puppy love with huge paws.  Grew into a 90-lb adult dog, too much for my elderly grandparents to handle.  In turn my Dad adopted Midnight, trained him to be an excellent waterfowl retriever.  This pet came to live at the 99 Jane house with Dean and I after my father passed away 5-1/2 years ago.  Sometimes a crowded house, but always had room for our Midnight.  For a few days Midnight lived with Dean’s parents when we all were displaced from our home after the main water line flood.  One night our dog stayed with a kind family after he wandered off through an unlatched gate, no thanks to the contractor during our house addition.  Oddly enough, this family lived one field over from where I grew up on the tree farm in St. Peters.  Our handsome Midnight had been dubbed “Nerm” and “Hercules”, and I cannot explain why.  Our easygoing dog co-existed with 5 different house cats during his time with us.  Beyond tolerable, he was sociable to his feline companions especially during the late evening cat treat time all gathered in Dean and I’s bedroom every night.  He made a few doggy friends … Nasa, Mokie, Jesse, Bleu, Beatrice, Barry, Daisy, Gus, Molly, Parker, Roman, another Molly, Shawnee, Peyton, Ellie, Eddie, Max … learned to accept or avoid the young whipper-snappers as he became an old man dog.

Midnight is greatly missed, our hearts feel an emptiness yet privileged to have known him and feel his love.  Our Midnight.  We will always love you.

 

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Earthy Goodness

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“We have learned that more of the ‘earth-earthiness’ would solve our social problems, remove many isms from our vocabulary, and purify our art. And so we often wish those who interpret life for us by pen or brush would buy a trowel and pack of seeds.” Ruth R. Blodgett.

The week-long sunshine and humidity boosted garden growth.  Clean, crisp leaves of arugula and leaf lettuce will make a big bowl of salad for the family crowd this week. My sister is in town from Minnesota, cause for celebration.

Sweat beaded my neckline, and then down my back and chest as I harvest the garden greens. Already 88 at 10 am. Soon salty droplets dribble onto my lips. The greens are almost sweet before the extreme afternoon temps turn them bitter. Are not we all?

The herbs thrive in the summer heat, with plenty of water. More chives need cutting. Snipette of tender dill and cilantro came ready in a couple of days. Next week I will be freezing my surplus herbs for the winter meals. The pea blossoms produced 1-inch pea pods in a matter of a week. Plant scraps are added to the compost. Earthy goodness. Primal to my taste buds. Organic gardening.Arugula.

Green Whispers And Wryly Weather

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After repotting my perennials and mulching last weekend, the weather turned wryly. Chilly, rainy days like very early spring or a late autumn started the week. What happened to May? My spinly pear tomato plant is probably wondering the same.  The rain water will help produce juicier fruit, but the leaves did not like the overnight temperatures in the 40’s.  Plants are resilient, as new growth is  coming from the base. This is the second growing season for this pear tomato plant given to me by my girlfriend from Minnesota.

An absolutely gorgeous Saturday today. Our plans changed for the day, and Dean and I will get to the Missouri Botantical Gardens tomorrow with family. This morn I rest and reflect on the front porch with my sanctuary of green surround.

I pitch a withered branch or two from my geraniums. The new buds have popped up and the leaves greened with the spring rains and sunshine. Their red blossoms should open next week or so. What I love about my gardens is there is no time table. I am an artistic gardener, rather than a scientific gardener like my father was. A meandering pace and organic existence are what I need from my green passion.

“Working in the garden gives me something beyond enjoyment of the senses…It gives me a profound feeling of inner peace. There is no rush toward accomplishment, no blowing of trumpets. Here is the great mystery of life and growth. Everything is changing, growing, aiming at something, but silently, unboastfully, taking its time.”  Ruth Stout

 

Let The Good Times Roll

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Many of you catch glimpses of our lives on Facebook and Word Press.  Thank you for the continual contact.  And we love hearing your news as well!  So we wanted to summarize 2015, and tell you what we are hoping for in 2016.  Wow, 2015 was like no other Dean and I have experienced.  In 2015, the first half included 2 sunny vacations, and the second half we worked through details regards housing, floods, and the beginning of restoration.

In February we lapped up sunshine in California and came back to Missouri’s bitterly cold winter.  Dean’s father celebrated his 80th birthday with family and friends.  We had another Gall wedding celebration in April.  Yes, that would have been the 4th in less than 9 months with the extended family.   We planted and harvested lots of herbs,peas, and beans this growing season.  During the summer we vacationed in our beloved Minnesota with my sister and our dog, Midnight.  Throughout the year we frequented local music venues. But in December we ventured to Nashville thoroughly enjoying the Amy Grant and Vince Gill holiday concert. We ended 2015 with a bang at the Pokey LaFarge concert on the Delmar Loop.

Dean and I’s government jobs keep us occupied, and we are thankful for them.  My quiet husband does not share his own accomplishments, but I will boast on his behalf.  Dean received a promotion and raise late this year, and it is well-deserved.   He loves the research and the customer interactions at the National Archives, and it shows.  This raise will be handy as we work towards an investment property in 2016.   I keep very busy at my job with St. Louis County’s benefits office.  I am constantly planning ahead, while reminding myself to take a breath and being mindful of the present moment.   After years of my supervisors’ prompting, I am public speaking now.  My position as the employee wellness coordinator gives me a platform to work from.  The series of enrichment classes I have and am developing for the employees are on “resilience and beyond”.  I speak from personal experience and with heart.

In July Dean and I visited the German town of Hermann, Missouri for our 5th wedding anniversary, where we married 5-1/2 years ago.  We came upon a “business opportunity”, a cute historic guest house, a late 1800’s cottage-style.    Dean and I took a few days to think and pray on this possibility.  We decided to act on this dream.  The next several weeks brought us a declined loan as it was the wrong type of loan for this property.  So we began the process again with a local Hermann bank on November 7, but we quickly ended the process on November 10 after our main water line in our residence burst sending 1 – 2 inches of muddy water onto the slab floor.  It was and still is unknown how much will actually come out of our pockets.  We anticipate a few thousand for the insurance deductible and upgrades with all laminate flooring and all new doors.  The unexpected inheritance from my deceased patriarch was very timely for Dean and I.  It is being stretched to meet many needs.  So that Hermann historic guest house still needs a new owner as the current owners are hoping to travel with their retirement.  They asked, and we continue to pray.  See what God has in mind for us.  Dean’s 1st grandchild is due in May.  Another girl to spoil!  Vacation plans are being sketched, may have us going North, South, and West this year.

This rental house we are in while our house is in renovations has broadened my thought on “home”.  “Home” is where you lay your head, and share your heart and blessings with your family.  And family comes in all shapes and sizes, this I have grown to understand.  One type and size does not fit all. The December record-breaking floods came 3 blocks from our rental house this week.  I had to remind myself where “home” is and who “family” really is to get through those stormy nights.  So “let the good times roll” and we welcome 2016!Home Sign

New Years Celebration BalloonsFrom Dean and Anna Gall’s home to yours, love and blessings that overflow this 2016.

New Homes

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Our bromeliads need to be divided as they had been quite busy this past year producing babies. A bay window in shallow terra-cotta pots had been their home. Showy fuchsia edges contrast with the fresh green, these babies needed new homes as they were crowding their parents. Dean and I carted two plants with us to our July Minnesota destination. The bromeliads stayed outside near the cabin and lake for a few days. When the storms brewed up, we brought them onto the screened porch. We hoped these showy plants were accumulated to their new surroundings, when we spent an afternoon dividing and repotting them. Five planters were made and given to our northern friends. We hope these tropical plants enjoy their new homes. We brought to our Missouri home gifts of heirloom tomato plants and streptacarpella, which have thrived well this past month. These tomato plants should produce fruit well into the winter months in the comforts of our semi-heated garage. And maybe the purple-flowering streptacarpella will find their home in window planters in the spring.
We are cleaning out that garage this month, finding new homes for bikes, toys, old furniture, and throwing away those “why did we keep this?” stuff. Our lawnmower and garden tools will go into their new home, a shed built in our back yard this week. We are making room for our beloved plants as the air changed this week. In about 6 – 8 weeks, our planters landscaping the yard this summer will be in their winter home, inside the heated garage under plant lights before the first frost of the autumn season.
Dean and I dream of a new home for just the two of us. The place we call ours, some where between St. Charles and Hermann along the Missouri River and the wine valley. If I chose, retirement from my office job is only 5 years away. But not retirement from living. So much more to experience. See what adventures come as we seek and find God’s will in this approaching season. Wherever we go, green things, art, and hospitality come with.

Duck Audacity And Boats n Birds Bobbin

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Bird life on Island Lake this summer is very active. Forty-one loons and counting as more were being hatched this week. Two families of ducks frequent the boat dock and lake side looking for handouts. Apparently vacationers were feeding them, and the presence of more people posed the promise of more handouts. Duck audacity was proudly displayed even with our 85-lb labrador, Midnight present. Midnight had a whining fit as we kept him on the porch until the ducks and ducklings were back in water swimming safely onto their next destination. Flies, butterflies, and dragonflies flew with the breeze. Owls by night and chipmunks by day sat on the tree limbs watching the life underneath. Co-existence.
The summer rains followed Dean, my sister, and I to our beloved Minnesota. It rained everyday we were at Island Lake. But each day also included some sunshine and low 80’s. Thunderheads would build up with steam as the day went along. Then, the winds would blow the rain across the lake in sheets, causing ripples and then white caps in the lake. The cool north air would follow. Those storms created some awesome views from the porch of our favorite little red cabin or the boat dock. Dean captured a few awesome photos. Our Midnight embraced the noisy storms outdoors or on the porch with us. The thunder sounds different at Island Lake than in our Missouri home. Momma loon and her baby weathered the white caps in the bay, bobbin with each wave. Dean caught the reflection in the water as a double rainbow arched above the lake. Friendships continue after so many years. And new ones form even amongst the dogs. Another memorable week at Valhalla.

Detour Ahead

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We will be on the road very soon for our trip to the Minnesota northwoods, a sanctuary of peace and quiet on a picturesque lake. Any lengthy road trip includes a detour sign or two. With the flooding in our region and anywhere in the central states with a river or creek, we suspect to encounter several detour signs. The detours slow us down, keep us on watch for the next arrow sign to give direction, and it just seems to keep us from arriving at that final destination in the time we desire. The word “detour” means “an indirect or roundabout path or procedure”. Isn’t life full of detours? In life, we sometime miss the neon orange detour signs. We simply see our flight delayed, a closed door, a failing relationship, no job offer, a difficult medical diagnosis, storm damaged vehicle, pay freeze, or failed crops. In reality, the detour ahead is a part of the journey. I would rather enjoy the curves, hills, and valleys in life’s journey, as well as “keep my eye on the prize.” What deep yearning or dream is hiding behind the detour signs?

Midsummer Day

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The Country Diary Of An Edwardian Lady by Edith HoldenI picked pea pods, lettuces, and herbs galore this past weekend. After a week of rain, the sun shined for a day. Finally, I was able to get to Boone Hollow Farm and Deanna Green And Gardens Art greenhouse without fear of rising creeks and rivers. I found an old saying in my book The Country Diary Of An Edwardian Lady “June damp and warm does the farmer no harm,” which I feel the local farmers and folks as far as Texas would disagree. Floods waters have ruined acres of crops. May be too late to try another round of crops this growing season.

Valhalla Sunset & Camp Fire

Valhalla Sunset & Camp Fire

Yesterday was the Midsummer Day in the US, the longest day of the year. A much celebrated day in the Old World and other countries around the world, but especially so amongst farm cultures and country folk. For some it is held on June 23 or 24. There are many rituals, most common is a bonfire. I had not the opportunity to have a bonfire for the summer solstice as we celebrated Father’s Day in Columbia, Missouri with family at a steak house. Does the flame from the grill count? No, I don’t think so. But the company and food was good. And it is not too long until the Minnesota destination of Valhalla on Island Lake. I will be memorized by the flames of many bonfires and the sound of chatter amongst friends.

The Dust of Everyday Life

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At times life can get messy or just plain mundane. A change of pace is in order, but another trip north isn’t feasible. So this past week and weekend I spent my leisure time in St. Charles, Missouri as well as worked my second job in the same historical town. The weekend I sold spices and gave out culinary advise to visitors and locals while at the spice shoppe on historic Main Street. One of my creative expressions, the culinary arts comes alive while there. Thursday night was an open house affair at the Foundry Art Centre in Frenchtown, where the French immigrants settled in this town over 200 years ago. Met some local artists, and viewed some creative art pieces in their studios. For the audience, “The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.” Aristotle tells us. I think and feel when I gander at artwork. While at the art centre I entered into a raffle for a pair of tickets to a September concert featuring the Man In Black, a Johnny Cash retro singer along with his band. And I won that raffle! Friday night was a catch-up double date with my brother and sister-in-law at Picasso’s Coffee House on historic Main Street. We talked about their trip to Hawaii and our trip to Minnesota, and about the kids and grandkids. Picasso’s has all the artsy ambiance that its name signifies and sharing “the art of coffee”. Folks sipping on coffee, tea, or spirits listening to a local jazz trio, Peaches. A couple of other locals brought their saxophones billowing high notes to the low bass, so it made the group a lively quint for a few songs. A famous Picasso quote is painted onto a wall of the local establishment. “Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life.” For the artist, musician, culinaire, author, and gardener a cleansing is experienced while engaged in their art form. Creating pots and gardens with plants and garden art definitely does this for me. I transplanted blooming red geraniums into the large planters outside the greenhouse this weekend. These 4-month old cuttings had good root systems, ready for a broaden growing space. Coming up with our signature flower, the geranium must be it as I primp and fuss with them everytime I am at the farm. I am learning how to grow them organically, friendly on the ecosystem. Once I had a geranium for over 6 years, bringing it indoors every winter. It would shed leaves through the dormant months, and I would wonder if it would come back once May finally arrived. Every now and then it would bloom while near the kitchen patio door, white snow in the contrasting background. Always in a terra cotta pot awaiting the spring and summer months. One year for Christmas gifts I created some book marks for my foodie friends with this saying,“Friendship, like geraniums bloom in the kitchen.” Not sure who to credit for those words, as many people have quoted it, but it is true on both accounts. I want to take a try growing scented and ivy varieties. Though the old-fashioned red contrasting with the broad green leaves are my favorite palette. I will bring my geraniums inside late autumn, sheltered from the cold, non-electric greenhouse and outdoors. Pruning and propagating once again for next spring. Life continues …

Remnants Of The North

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We had crisp mornings and evenings during our Minnesota vacation, as usual for the end of July into August. It is like Missouri’s September into October season. Apparently, Missouri has experienced the change in the air while we traveled back from the north country last weekend. The signs of autumn are in the air. Others feel it too. Talk of the “f” word, “frost” was on the 550 AM Farmer Dave’s radio show this week, talking like it may come earlier this year. At the spice shoppe visitors are buying apple butter, mulling spices, teas, chili powder, and soup mixes like autumn is here. I am enjoying a cup of hot tea every morning, my newest sensation is Stash brand chai white tea. I think remnants of the north followed us home.
Our vacation antique finds include a couple boxes full of Mason jars to make non-electric lanterns. $5 for the whole load of them. Love those bargains at the annual Crazy Days Sale in Park Rapids, Minnesota. Dean will repurpose the jars and design into lanterns to use alternative energy, solar and/or battery-operated lights. We will market at the Lake Saint Louis and Chandler Hill Vineyard’s Farmers’ Markets starting in September along with some beautiful perennials baskets. I cannot wait to use these lanterns on our patio and at the greenhouse. I also found a set of four tea cups with tea snack platters in my favorite farm color, leaf green. Included in the price of the Mason jars! These will go to the greenhouse for my tea time while working at Boone Hollow Farm. Just the simple things in life to make my day artsy and colorful.
Our plants are loving the milder temperature, greening up nicely before going dormant in a few short weeks. We just put all the greenhouse plants in the screenhouse a month ago. And I have another crop of herbs to sow before harvest. Our gourd plants need some warmth and sunshine to produce their fruit. I hope they get big enough before frost blankets the Missouri earth. Local weathermen talk like St. Louis may not hit 100 degrees this summer. It would be the first time in many years. Plenty of rain now, with more coming everyday this week. If you remember my blog posts from last year at this time, it was so blazin’ hot and Missouri was in a severe drought. What a difference a year makes! But is summer over?