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.


Filed under Minnesota, Travel

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:


Filed under Family history

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.


Filed under Gardening

Back to the 50s

I’ve lived in the twin cities for nearly 30 years and I’ve never gone to Back to the 50s! An old bandmate of hubby’s was performing with her current band, Super Modified, at the Pin-up Contest so we decided to finally attend Back to the 50s and see her band too. Since this event is always packed, we decided to take public transit to avoid the parking mess. We parked at Rosedale and got on the A-line for $2.00 each. And we managed to see everything we wanted to see before our bus tickets expired for our return trip. Whew! And we were right about the parking mess. The bus dropped us about a block from the entrance and the bus driver scooted by all those cars in line to park.

This event occurs every year on the last weekend in June and is sponsored by the Minnesota Street Rod Association. I live close to the fairgrounds so have always seen the cars driving around. And in years past when I worked on the St. Paul campus of the University of Minnesota I’d see many cars on the streets and I felt like I didn’t have to pay admission to see the cars. But it was fun to be on the fairgrounds viewing all those cool cars. Of course there were food and beverage vendors, but curiously no benches to sit on. I did notice, however, that many fair goers brought their own portable chairs.

Check out some of the cool cars we saw!

A couple more photos, one of the Pin-up Contest winner and the band we saw, Super Modified:


Filed under Minnesota, Travel

Random summer flowers

Another quick post to display some flowers around the neighborhood, most of them are not from my garden. I’ve been working on two others posts and hope to post at least one of them soon! So, please come back. In the mean time, enjoy this gallery of beautiful flowers.


Filed under Gardening

The bee balm are blooming!

I love these flowers! They usually bloom at the end of June and into the beginning of July. I used to have just red and light purple ones and a few years ago a friend gave me a little clump of the magenta bee balm and that little clump has done so well. You’ll see how big that clump has gotten in the gallery below as well as the cover photo.

I do love perennials but most of them only last a couple of weeks and so it is with bee balm. I noticed as I was choosing the photos for this post that I didn’t take many photos of the red ones. They, along with many other plants this year, are not as nice as in years past. We’ve been in drought this summer and that has affected plant growth, or lack thereof. So, I think I will start with the one red bee balm photo that I liked and let it stand out from the pack of magenta bee balm photos.

There are also a light purple type of bee balm that used to be in my garden, alas, I guess they’ve moved on. They are blooming in the park and Willow Pond. Love this color too!

And just for fun, I’ll close with this photo of wild raspberries that are ripe right now. Or are they blackberries? On my walk at Willow Pond yesterday most of these berries were black and I’m including another, updated photo from yesterday. I think I have had this query in the past so I googled and what did I find? They are actually wild black raspberries! Okay, let’s see if I remember that next year. I didn’t know there was such a thing but I love the color.


Filed under Gardening

Spiderwort in bloom

I learned about this plant at the first house that we bought in St. Paul years ago. These plants just appeared one day, another one that grows like a weed. But I like this particular weed-like plant. It blooms in June and I’ve only seen purple spiderwort this year. I have seen pink ones in the past but not this year. Most of these photos are from Willow Pond where I take my short walk. Please enjoy this handful of spiderwort photos.


Filed under Gardening