Beautiful autumn colors

In the nick of time before autumn is done, I wanted to share some photos I took throughout the season. All of these were taken in the twin cities between mid September and early November. I don’t recall beautiful colors here in the frozen tundra into November, ever! So we enjoyed this year’s display much longer than in previous years. Please enjoy the gallery of my favorite photos this year. Click on any photo in the gallery to see larger images.

And two images of sunrises this autumn.

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Minneapolis Institute of Art – an out of the ordinary visit

We love MIA and go at least once year, sometimes more if there’s an interesting exhibit. For our most recent visit in October I decided I wanted to check out a couple of galleries that I’d never ventured into before. I studied the map and chose gallery 316 as one to visit this time. I took a Friday off so we were able to get there when they opened. We even found a spot on the street in front of the museum.

Gallery 316 happened to have a captivating display of psychedelic posters from the 60s. I chose a great gallery, score!! The rest of what we saw at the museum were bonuses. Click on any photo to open the photo galleries in this post to view larger images.

I chose the Parska/Shada exhibit as another gallery to explore. The exhibit opened in August 2021 and will run through April 2022. It was a room full of pueblo art from New Mexico and what sounded like a pow wow being played on overhead speakers. There were drawings, pottery, mantas and one bronze statue. It was so interesting and it made me want to explore New Mexico.

Here’s some information that I copied from MIA’s website that tells you a little about this exhibit:

Explore Mia’s collection of Pueblo art highlighting Keresan, Tewa, Towa, and Hopi voices and culture. Curated by Juan Lucero (Isleta Pueblo), Mia’s Mdewakanton Native Art Fellow, this exhibition transports visitors to the oldest villages in the United States for a parska (in Keresan) or shada (in Tewa) community dance. Over 40 works of art—watercolor paintings, bow guards, manta weavings, ceramics, and Hopi katsinam dolls—come together to create one ceremonial spirit. Through the breath of memory and longing, you can experience the emotions of distant drums and songs as you travel from Grandma’s house to the ceremonial plaza. There, sights and sounds create kinship, family, and tradition to be handed from generation to generation.

Some photos of the pueblo art:

We popped our heads into a couple of period rooms. I enjoy being transported to a different time when viewing these rooms. As we walked past the impressionists, which we always visit except this time, I caught sight of a Degas ballerina statue and just had to go look. I love these statues. There are more of them at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. and I always see them when I’m there. I was curious if there were more of them and learned that after the death of Degas in 1917 his heirs found more than 150 figurative sculptures in his studio. His heirs authorized that copies be made in bronze to sell to museums. But I couldn’t find where all of these sculptures reside. I found this information on the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s website so click on the link for more information if you like. I knew of one other of these Little Dancer sculptures that resides at the Saint Louis Art Museum from my officemate at the University of Minnesota. She saw one of my photos on my computer’s desktop wallpaper one day at work and said she knew that the sculpture was at the Saint Louis Art Museum, except the one in my photo was from one of my trips to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. It seems one could write an entire post on this one statue! Instead I will link you to the Wikipedia page should you desire more information.

Across from the ballerina is another Degas, Woman in a Bathtub. While admiring this piece a security guard approached us and told a story of how he watched Bruce Dayton lift this piece out of his trunk many years ago and how amazed he was that he could do that! The piece was donated by Ruth and Bruce Dayton but the security guard wasn’t sure if that was the day it was donated. Such fascinating people you meet along the way and he shared his unique story with us. Cool!

We also stopped by the gallery called Judaica, a small section containing Jewish artifacts such as dreidels, menorahs and noise makers used for Purim. To view all of the items in MIA’s collection, click here.

I decided to take photos of the museum itself: the entrance, the long staircase between the first and second floors and other areas of the museum. Not only is there great art displayed throughout, the museum itself is a piece of art. Also included in this gallery are other pieces along the way that I found intriguing.

Lastly, a photo of Chihuly’s Sunburst. Always a joy to see at the entry. You get to see it both as you arrive and when you leave, as well as from the staircase. It is definitely prominently placed. I always recommend this museum so if you’re in the twin cities area, do pay it a visit.

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Nerstrand Big Woods State Park

Every autumn we talk about taking a drive to see some fall foliage and we have in the past but in the last several years we have stayed in the cities, which with the right timing is very beautiful. And there will be a post with those photos coming soon! Because I also made a couple of trips to the Mississippi River again this year.

We timed this adventure perfectly and were treated to scenery filled with fields of dried up corn stalks and some empty fields where we think corn had grown and farms galore along with colorful trees as we headed south with our destination about an hour away. It was a nice day for a drive and then a hike at this state park to find waterfalls. Temp was mid 60s, perfect for a hike.

We had never been to this state park and I had read that it is known for its fall colors. It’s about an hour from the cities so perfect for an afternoon’s outing. It was a fairly easy half mile hike to Hidden Falls with a section roped off to protect the Dwarf Trout Lilies. I’ve never heard of this plant and now I want to go back next spring to see this endangered flower in bloom. If you’re interested, more information about this plant can be found here, then click on “Learn more about this special plant” about two thirds down the page.

Hidden Falls itself is lovely but I had to wonder what it looks like in the spring. Another reason to go back next spring! All the waterfalls that we saw on hikes at the North Shore in August were not as voluminous as in years when we’re not in drought. And I’d love to go back to the North Shore in springtime as well.

On with the photo galleries! First, some scenes from the road:

Next the park and the falls including some helpful information along the way. I notice that at all the state parks we’ve visited this year have great placards with interesting stuff to learn along the trails.

It was a beautiful and perfect day for hiking and leaf peeping. I can’t wait to go back!

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Minnesota State Fair in pandemic times

This was such a different year for the fair. We did not have the fair last year due to the pandemic so we were glad to be able to go this year! I’m still working through how I want to create posts about our North Shore vacation in August so in the mean time I thought I would add my state fair post.

We always take a free bus to the fair and this year masks were mandated on the bus, except that they weren’t enforcing it, at least not on our bus. I counted 8, mostly young people, not wearing masks.

I decided to wear a mask while in the buildings and my daughter wore hers most of the time. It wasn’t my favorite visit to the fair due to the continuing pandemic but I’m glad we went. Normally we go more than once since it’s held for 10 days ending on Labor Day. I was just too uncomfortable to go another time.

I thought I would share some photos of our day and I’ll start with the photos from the art building. We always check out the art and this year was no different, except for the masks. This gallery displays some of my favorites. Click on any photo to open the gallery and view larger photos:

Next, a few Peanuts statues that live at the fair:

We always visit the agriculture building and especially the crop art. But the line was long for the crop art, my daughter had to get to work and I felt uneasy being in that room with so many people, so we stepped out of the line. So we didn’t see much crop art this year but I did capture a couple of them on our way out. Here are the scenes from inside and outside of the agriculture building:

Next, a few more fair scenes. Hubby and daughter decided to go on the big slide and I wish I had captured hubby’s face when he got to the bottom. If I had to describe it, I think it would be something like “whew, I made it!” Later he said that was probably the last time he’ll go on the slide. He said he got a little scared when he was air-born at one point. The first photo is a band we always stop to see on opening day, Darlene and the boys. I am pretty sure I have seen the older couple dancing in years past. In this photo the older couple is teaching the younger couple some dance moves.

I’m hoping next year I’ll feel more comfortable to do more of the things I enjoy at the fair. We didn’t make it to any animal buildings, for example. And no shopping at the grandstand. I just wanted to minimize my time inside buildings so ended up limiting that to the art and ag buildings. Again, I’m glad we went but I’m sure hoping for a more “back to normal” fair next year.

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An up north vacation

It was more of a long weekend than a vacation but still enjoyable. A post coming soon on our summer vacation in August but for now I’m trying to catch up on posts I intended to create but didn’t. Here we go!

We spent a long weekend at the family cabin in Akeley at the end of June. Once again we timed it so that we could see Minnesota’s state flower in bloom, the Showy Lady’s Slipper, at Itasca State Park. We did a similar long weekend in 2020, the exact same weekend, but this year we missed the peak of that lovely flower due to the drought. We did about the same trip to Itasca and drove the Wilderness Drive again. It was just as lovely but this time I didn’t spot any flowers along the road like I did last year, likely because it was past peak. We stopped along the way so that I could capture the water lilies in a pond. We also stopped on our way into the park because all the views of the lakes along the way were so still that I had to get some photos of that loveliness! We hiked down to a good vantage point and here are a few of those photos, so peaceful with lovely reflections:

While at Itasca it is obligatory to check out the headwaters of the Mississippi River even though we’ve been there dozens of times. It’s still fun to see. After the morning drive we had a little lunch at Douglas Lodge, which wasn’t open last year due to the pandemic. It was so nice to eat there again!

The lady’s slippers are just down the hill from Douglas Lodge. There was something different on this year’s journey down the stairs to view the flowers: a contraption to pull water from the lake if needed. I’m including a photo of that since that’s something we’ve never seen before. I don’t know if they ever did pull water from the lake but maybe so as the drought lasted all summer and continues today as I write this.

We happened to be in Akeley for their annual festival, Paul Bunyan Days, so we walked to town to check it out. There was no festival last year due to the pandemic so this was a welcome sight this year! Akeley is the town where my mother-in-law grew up and there is a museum that contains many items that she donated. We stopped by the museum as we hadn’t been in several years. It’s always interesting and we always check out both hubby’s mother’s as well as her sister’s class graduation photos. There are a couple of walls dedicated to these graduating classes. I noticed a plaque on the wall that we also have in the cabin, the first snowmobile in Akeley. Rather, it is entitled “Akeley claims first snowmobile”. The volunteer sitting at the entrance heard us speaking about the plaque and asked how we came to have one. Turns out this woman grew up across the street from my mother-in-law and her sister and she said she inherited some of their toys as she was younger than the two sisters. So interesting!

There was another car show at Paul Bunyan days, about a half a block long across the highway from the other festival goings on. It wasn’t quite as big as Back to the 50s but still interesting and we got to choose our favorite car. I chose the oldest car, from 1930, the one with the rumble seat. I took a couple of photos of the giant Paul Bunyan statue but apparently forgot to capture the front of it. There is a photo of it at the link above for the museum and some interesting Akeley history too!

Here’s a gallery of other stuff we saw at festival including the car show.

Lastly I will close with some sunset photos from the cabin.

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The search for family history

One thing on my list for retirement was to work on my family history for my mother’s side. My uncle did quite extensive research on my father’s side so I wanted to have something about my mother’s heritage. I started this project about 1996. I know it’s about that time because upon cleaning out our mother’s apartment I found a letter I had written to her that year. I sent her a rough family tree that I had written up based on a chart and a cassette tape that my uncle, her brother, made for my sister’s college project in 1979. I asked her to fill in what I had highlighted on that family tree but I guess she never found the time to do it and I didn’t pursue it further at that time.

Some time last year I did a DNA test with Ancestry. In the DNA match list I found someone with a 4% match, with a familiar last name from my grandfather’s side. I sent him a note hoping to learn more but he never replied. I was poking around in there again recently but this time I clicked on family trees wherever I was able to view them. One of those trees had two familiar names so I messaged my DNA matched relative and he replied!! He is my second cousin and we’ve been getting acquainted via email and we became Facebook friends too. He gave me his cousin’s(another of my second cousins) email and said that he might have more information about that side of the family. Between the two of them I have learned so much!! And I thought I’d put together a post here and share some family photos for anyone else that may be interested.

My sister and I attempted to get through the huge stack of photos that our mother had. We still need to get back to that but during that trip to my sister’s I found my grandmother’s inspection card when she arrived in northern America. We didn’t know any of this so we were very excited to find that! It had the date she arrived, the name of the ship she traveled on and that her ship landed in Quebec. Quebec? That was a surprise because until two years ago I assumed she arrived via Ellis Island. Here’s a photo of the inspection card. Thank goodness she passed! (editing to add that my niece actually found the ship’s manifest after I posted a photo of the inspection card on Facebook and I’m so glad she did!)

At the time we found this card I calculated Pearl’s age to be about 17. And then sat in awe wondering how such a young woman could take that long trip to America. I looked on every page of the ship’s manifest looking for other family names but did not find any. As far as I can tell she travelled alone. Alone at 17!?!?!? Wow. I later learned that she was actually 18, not much different, and that at least one of her brothers travelled to America first. Eventually all 7 siblings and their mother made it to America.

Another fun story is about a photo that my sister and I labeled “unknown Russian man”. There were a handful of photos with Yiddish on the backs and we put them in a separate pile to find someone to translate the Yiddish. We labeled it unknown Russian man’s photo because it looked like there was Russian writing on it. One day after I connected with my two second cousins I was studying that photo and finally I saw Samuel Rabinowitz written on the bottom of the back of the photo. One of my grandmother’s brothers was Samuel and if this photo was my grandmother’s brother then he was the grandfather of my two second cousins. I sent the photo to both of them with the subject “could this be your grandfather?” The first to reply confirmed my suspicion but he also attached the exact same photo and gave me roughly the year it was taken. Mystery solved!

I did find a translator and learned that the writing on Sam’s photo was in German. Luckily my translator knew German as well and here is what Sam wrote on the back of his photo: A memento so that you will remember me forever. I sure will remember him forever! The unknown Russian man is my great uncle about 1908. Here he is:

The back of Sam’s photo postcard.

I spent a lot of time searching Find a Grave and Family Search for pieces of my family’s history and I found tons! I also looked for obituaries of people I know have passed on and learned many details there as well. It’s been an interesting quest but just about everything that I’ve found was on my mother’s mother’s side. I haven’t much of her father’s side. It’s too bad the first relative I contacted didn’t reply. I am pretty sure he is from my grandfather’s side of the family.

I typed up what I had in Word because I’m still not sure which software I want to go with. I got some great advice from a Genealogy forum and I’m still working through all of that. So far I’ve keyed in most of what I have on Ancestry.

So in the meantime I at least have my Word files typed up now. It feels great to have that done as I have been thinking about it for a long time!

I also wanted to share some photos here as I have figured out who a lot of the people in the photos are. I started writing this shortly after I connected with my second cousin back in March, 2021. I had intended to add more photos to this post but I’m going to get back to that later as I still need to get together with my sister for that. In the mean time, here’s a gallery of some of my mother’s family One photo of a man is wrapped in plastic likely because it’s falling apart. I think this man might be my great grandfather but there’s no writing on it so I am left to guess:

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Random summer stuff

I’m a little behind with my posts. It’s been a busy summer! I wanted to share my trip to the North Shore before I forget it all and I’ll get back to the posts I’ve intended to create all summer soon!! But first, a post of more random summer flowers and other random stuff. I thought I should get this one done since this is our last summer weekend.

I was going to do a post with photos of my morning glory fence from this summer, alas, this year’s morning glory fence did not turn out to be as spectacular as in years past. In cleaning up her yard, my neighbor probably didn’t realize that by yanking the morning glories that had wandered into her yard via her side of the fence, it destroyed a big part of the garden of morning glories on the fence. But I did manage to capture a few nice blooms. I included photos of the fence, before and after the clean-up.

Next, a gallery of the randomness I mentioned earlier. Just some photos of the rest of summer, more flowers and a favorite bird, as well as my other neighbor’s green beans on our shared fence. Enjoy and stay tuned for more travel posts coming soon!! As always, thanks for looking.

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