May 25, 2013 – High School is Over!

Graduation 2013.  And Emma couldn’t have had any more symbols behind her name!

The one that’s most indicative of Emma is the one designating “Silver Cord” recipients, for those students with more than 100 hours of community service per year of high school.

Emma was also selected as a commencement speaker. Since the school is about half minority students (yes, in the middle of Iowa there is a school where there is such diversity), she presented a speech with a Hispanic friend.

Emma being a boss at the podium.

The ceremony was one most will not forget.  During the ceremony, which included a storm that pushed the local river to a record flood level, the sound of the civil defense sirens filled the gym.  As the principal was giving instructions to seek shelter from the storm, the policeman on duty alerted him that the sirens were for a flood warning, not a tornado, so the ceremony continued until… the power went out. And about 15 minutes later the lights came back on.

By the time the ceremony finally ended, the storm had passed and we could gather for a photo.

July 18, 2010 – At the Waterfall

The final photos from the trip are from Tettegouche State Park.

baptism river sign

The primary feature of the park is the Baptism River and its journey to Lake Superior.

superior hiking trail sign

Part of the Superior Hiking Trail goes through the park.

Lake Superior Lookout

We took a slight detour and hiked up to this overlook along the trail.  Martin was a good sport and enjoyed looking back at the lake and knowing he had hiked from the water’s edge up to this point.  He put seven miles on his feet on this hike.

high falls on baptism river

The reward is the high falls of the Baptism River.  It is an enchanting place with a big pool below the cascading waterfalls.  For July, the falls had a pretty good flow.

Swimming in the pool is a great thrill among the sound of the crashing water and the spray from the falls.

As the week draws to a close, a group shot.  Emma commented that this was the first time she really missed her sister!

one year ago…”Final Day of Vacation”

May 30, 2010 – OK, We’re Almost Done with Claire

OK, I promise, we’re almost through with Claire posts for a while, but when your baby graduates from high school, it’s best to note it in this Dad’s “Online Scrapbooking” as others have referred to this blog.

Sp there she is, all done with high school!  As her achievements have been previously chronicled, I’ll leave them be for now.  But she did have one last high school honor – she was selected to address the audience at the graduation ceremony.  We were far away, it was hot, and the parameters of the speech left little room for outlandish creativity (aka duct tape school dresses), it is put here only for those relatives who are very interested, the rest of you can wait for tomorrow’s post.

one year ago…”Martin Planting”

January 1, 2010 – Looking Back on 2009

Seems like everyone puts together some kind of year-in-review (and some decades in review this year). I’m not ambitious enough to sort through the last decade, but I will take a shot at the year in review. So without much further ado – the things we’ll remember most about 2009 in no particular order:

  1. This year culminated in some serious progress in outbuilding renovation, most notably, the refurbished hog barn which resulted in an added bonus as the overhanging shelter turned into a nice sheltered place to butcher turkeys on a cold and snowy November afternoon.  An old machine shed was partially demolished and rebuilt, with clear panel tops to let light in. This was a first as it was the first partial building implosion on the farm. In addition, three of four sides of the barn were repainted.
  2. The money targeted for a new garage/siding instead went into a hole in the ground in the form of a new septic system.  The old one was particularly hackneyed, in that it was a small tank (500 gallons) that flowed through an old cistern, and finally to one field tile.  I’m glad that it started acting up in spring rather than in the dead of winter.
  3. The wind continued to be a popular topic – we hosted a PFI field day, I presented a number of times regarding the turbine, we gathered some press on Oprah.com, a feature article in the local paper, and was awarded a grant to defray the costs of erecting another turbine to act as a small wind demonstration site.  We are encouraged that there is such interest in renewable energy and self-reliance.
  4. Linda was flattered to be a finalist for the position of Endowed Chair of Sustainable Agriculture and Local Food Systems at the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine.  After a couple of days of intense interviews for Linda, we had a chance to do some relaxation around Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park.  The college ended up not filling the position, so we’re not sure if they didn’t like any of the candidates or had budget problems.
  5. Linda also had the honor to be invited to be the keynote speaker at the Unitarian Universalist Prairie Star Annual Meeting, held in Duluth, MN this year.  The theme was “Our Blue Boat Home” and Linda was rewarded with a standing ovation from the 300 or so in attendance.
  6. We endured the rainiest vacation week in our 17 years or so of visiting Northern Minnesota.  The first day and a half were warm and sunny, and then, rain, fog, mist, and cold set in.  On the upside, it was some of the best fishing we’ve ever had.
  7. This growing season was notable for the cool summer and long growing season.  We had our first pears and hazelnuts.  We were eating lettuce from the garden up to Dec 6th!
  8. We had the joy to watch Emma seemingly effortlessly switch schools and enter high school as a Freshman.  Emma loves her new friends, band, and basketball. She had an exceptional travel year, with a school trip to Washington DC, and a church trip to Boston.  Both Linda and I wish we were as content and happy as she is when we were in high school.
  9. Claire’s last year at home were full of honors – from earning a trip to the national debate championships in Alabama, to participation in the World Food Prize Symposium.  College searches started in earnest – we appreciate the energy and motivation Claire devotes to her future studies.
  10. Finally, Martin is at age and has a temperament that makes him excited about exploring the world.  With his enthusiasm after reading about it in some books, he and dad tapped maple trees in the yard and made maple syrup.  Martin remains joyful and helpful boy, fully engaged in life.

one year ago…”Burning up the New Year”

July 12, 2008 – Rainy End to Vacation

The last few days of the trip were more rain than sun.

The high the last full day was supposed to be 80 degrees, but it struggled to reach 60.

A little rain doesn’t stop the kids from going outside – otherwise it’s time to snuggle up to a board game or deck of cards and be thankful we’re not in a tent in an all-day rain.

The sunset brought a ray of clearing on the last evening.

The final official vacation act is a stop at the Tower Cafe, amazingly enough, located in Tower, MN for a final breakfast on the way back home.  The cross-winds were strong on the way home, so with the canoe on top of the van, we couldn’t truck along at 70 mph, so it was a slower-than-usual trip home, but as trips home from vacation go now that the kids are older, it wasn’t even close to the longest ride home.

one year ago…”BWCA Trip”

June 28, 2008 – Des Moines Art Festival

Since Aunti Julie was here this weekend, we went to the Des Moines Art Fair.


Here Martin is amazed by a contraption that moves balls around a series of loops, falls, twists and turns.


You might recognize this guy from the July 21st Wind Turbine Dedication – one week at high hopes gardens, the next at the art fair!


The neices and nephew with auntie!


Linda seldom sees something that strikes her fancy – this artist, Mark Orr, had a series of ravens bearing keys in their mouths and Linda could not resist!  Here she is with the artist.


Here is the raven on its new perch in the living room near the front door.  One of the symbolisms of the raven and the key is the opening of doors and the welcoming of positive change into our lives.

one year ago…”Thingamajig Thursday #78″

January 5, 2008 – Rain in the Desert

The unseasonal weather held off until our last day.  Rain. I was tempted to stay in the house and read or just be lazy, but I ended up walking over to Cathedral Rock to see if the rain brought another mood to the landscape.


Here’s a wet prickly pear cactus with drops of water – a welcome event.


The kids spent some time in the hot tub in the back yard – they used the umbrella usually used for sun as a rain umbrella.


Cathedral Rock in the rain.


The beginnings of dry washes filling up with water.


It was such a neat time to see the water cascading off the red rocks, that I called the kids on the cell phone and told them to walk down to meet me.  They, too got to have a good time – we just followed one dry wash up the mountain and came down another, exploring all the ephemeral pools and small waterfalls.


The whole family, dressed in various clothes depending on age and sensibilities – from Martin in his winter coat to Emma in a T-shirt!

one year ago…

January 4, 2008 – Hanging Around Sedona

After a bit of driving the last few days, today we stuck to Sedona to look around.  Our first stop was Red Rock Crossing, which was just around Cathedral Rock from our house, but about a 20 minute drive by car because there just aren’t that many roads, and only one crosses Oak Creek Canyon near Sedona.


The first treasures we came upon were a group of rock cairns down by the creek.  Originally constructed for trail markers in remote areas, they seem to pop up in many places, and once you see one, you want to make one yourself.  Soon a village of cairns appears.  But not to worry – the next big rain will knock them all down and the cycle will repeat itself – we like to think of it as biodegradable folk art!


Here the kids start building their own.


Martin ponders, well, I’m not sure what he is pondering, but it looks like a good place to do it!


Here’s our entire group – it was fun to have both grandmas join us on this trip.


You might remember Emma up in a tree at Sunset Crater a few days ago – here she is at it again (with Martin in training behind her!)


Later in the day we hiked up Long Canyon trail and Emma found another tree over a dry wash.

one year ago…

July 15, 2007 – Saying Good-bye to Kawishiwi

The last morning we leave early and stop about an hour down the road at the Tower Cafe for breakfast.


Notice Claire’s sense of humor on the shirt she and Emma bought together. Written in upside down letters, “If you can read this, pull me back into the canoe!”

one year ago…

June 16, 2007 – All Dressed Up (Kind of)

Today we had the pleasure to attend the wedding of one of the faithful blog readers.  Congratulations to both of you!  It was an outdoor wedding overlooking a lake, so it was a nice setting.  Special commendation to the groom for enduring the 90 degree day in the black tux!  I’ve often heard the advice to newlyweds “Never go to bed angry.”  I’d like to amend that slightly to be “Never go to bed without telling your spouse what you are angry about.”  So much for the unsolicited marital advice!  Now go have a great life!


It’s hard to know exactly what to wear for an outdoor wedding on a hot day, so here are the kids after the ceremony.


Our anniversary is coming up in a few days – 18 years this June.

one year ago…

April 14, 2007 – Finally a Day!

Today, we finally had a day that wasn’t cold or snowy! We were able to get a few things done outside. GJ dressed up a crowd to do some bee work.  She brought her stepson from CA and a friend visiting from Fiji.


Here is the crew and, of course, the youngest one gets to hold the fire!


Marty leads the procession down to the hive.


Smoking the hive to settle the bees before lifting off the lid.


Yeah!  There’s still bees inside (that’s no longer something taken for granted).


More hive work. (I’m not sure what’s going on today!)


Linda got the first few things in the ground, although most of the garden is still to wet to work.

one year ago…