about that project

Brad and I worked together on a very special project this past year. Each season, another layer of progress was accomplished.

Similar to healing, heart projects do not happen all at once.

The project I am referring to is my mom's memorial area which began with her tree planting and bench unveiling on the first Mother's Day without her here with us on earth (2022).

It has become such a special serene place for us. 

This area is the first thing you see when you get to the bend of our long driveway.

The memorial area is not about the bench perse. It is about connection. Spiritual and otherwise. Feelings of remembrance, joy, sorrow, natures awe and inspiration. To name just a few.

It brings out all the feels.

Giant Swallowtail

Giant Swallowtail close-up

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Monarch and Bubble bee
sharing late season zinnias

Late Summer, a Berry White Hydrangea was planted (pink blooms above). My mother had a prolific white one growing in her backyard. It is my first time growing Hydrangeas. Fingers crossed. 

Zinnias grown from collected seeds

The flower pots also had overwintered Calla Lilies.
They bloom before zinnias.

I thought Spring crocus named Remembrance would be a perfect way to add early season color. My plan is to naturalize low profile early blooming bulbs in the general area. Brad reminded me, he will have to work the area up in order to plant grass. 

I came up with Plan B for the bulbs I had already purchased. Several packs of crocus and species tulips were planted inside a triangle shaped area, within 3 existing pines. There is a stump in the middle, so it won't be worked up. I can't wait to see what blooms!! I can always relocate the bulbs, or better yet ~ plant more! 

Late Fall, Brad poured a colored concrete base for the bench. Notice the two circle indentations he added. Great idea! The two pots that flank the bench are in full sun & wind exposure. The pots dry out quickly and frequently tip over. Even with a rock base. Setting the pots down inside the circles will prevent tipping and they will still drain to the ground. He added drainage rocks as a base inside the circles. 

Over the Summer, the bench stayed on a pallet so it could be moved with the bobcat.


While walking our woods, another idea crossed my mind. 

I asked Brad if we could stamp the concrete base with actual leaves.

Poor Brad. I always ask for the unusual. Which translates as complicated. I never do things the easy way. Not intentional, it is just how I am wired. After all these years together, my requests no longer surprise him. Brad is more practical and we balance each other out. Stamping concrete is nothing new to him, but stamping with leaves is. He said yes, we could try :))

My mom loved trees. I think in part because she grew up with very few of them. She was born and raised in a big city (Madrid, Spain) where few trees grow in selective areas. In addition, the Fall month of September is both her month of birth and death.

I went on a mission collecting whatever leaves I could find that still had pliable life. It was slim pickings this late in the season. I noticed some semi-vibrant Maple leaves in our woods, high above on branches. Maple leaves have a distinct shape. I thought they would work great. 

I remembered t
he three Maples we planted a few years ago along our driveway and was happy to find they still had a few leaves. I climbed a ladder and plucked the few remaining leaves. No doubt my neighbors (rightfully so) thought I was nuts. The wind was whipping and there I was on a ladder collecting leaves.

For weeks, I kept all the collected leaves in plastic bags with moist paper towels. Waiting for the "concrete stars" to align. And they did.

Brad finishing the concrete base

A few of the Maple & Oak leaves were gently pressed into the concrete, after it formed up for a while. We left them in overnight and Brad carefully removed the leaves in the morning. The imprints turned out just as I had imagined!

See random leaf imprints (front area)

 Brad will probably add some concrete sealer and might stain the leaves to help them stand out. 

My mom would have loved the many detailed reminders of her…in disbelief she would have said "all this for me?". To which I would have replied, “Yes mom. All this, and SO much more love ~ all for you”.

Brad backfilled the base with black dirt

Mom's memorial area will be considered completed, when Brad plants grass in the Spring. Making it feel more connected to us, instead of a separate island area. 

I really wanted to add something during the Winter months. Brad made more of my wishes happen. We added 3 trees that light up on each side!   

notice the light crystals

light twinkles above the bench

We are considering adding a water feature of some kind in the future. Perhaps a stand alone rock bubbler, or a ground stream that flows to another water feature. If you know me at all, then you know the aura of water is an important part of what fuels me.  Adding year round flowing water or a large wildlife pond somewhere on our property has always been on our original wish list. Perhaps someday. Or not. I am totally okay, either way. It is nice to dream.

View from behind

Somehow, the three trees on the right form a distinct heart shape.

We were so surprised!! 
I will have to get a better photo with my camera.

My mothers memorial area is so healing just the way it is. Love can be felt, in every season.


Merry Christmas 2022

After over a decade, I had decided to not make Christmas cards this year. In the past, I have either taken a planned photo or used a favorite one from that year and made it more holiday-ish. My photo plan for the past several years has yet to happen. Maybe some year?

There was one 2022 action photo that stuck out in my mind. It has a fine art-ish feel. The type of photography that speaks to me.

I decided to make cards with whatever supplies I had on hand, just in time. No embellishments this year. Card stock colors used vary. My favorite was a sparkling light gray on top of dark green. It made the pines pop.

Here it this years card, along with my
sincere wishes that each of you has a peaceful and Merry Christmas, filled with love. The meaningful kind.

Nemo 2/2022

inside sentiment


the wonder of winter ~ 2 of 2

If you missed it, my first post "wonder of winter ~ 1 of 2" can be found hereI left off with mention of noticing an unusual thing.

That thing I saw was a caterpillar on top of the snow, just outside the pines. Weird. I figured a bird must have dropped it, or it fell out of a tree. 

After finding several more spread out in the field behind the arena, my curiosity was heightened. I consulted with my sometimes correct friend Google. Apparently winter caterpillars are not unusual. Amazing that they get to/from the top of the snow without freezing.

Being a caretaker of this land has taught me many things.

winter cutworm (yellow underwing moth larva)

I found this right before the second set of snow wigglers: 


top corner of the pasture

After turning off the hot fence, Tank and I removed branches with a little help.

Koda and Harmony were the brave ones

Nemo got done snorting, then came over to help

Harmony, Cierra and Koda

(sorry for the dark crappy phone pics)

I would grab a branch and toss it aside. Tank would drag it back. Sigh. After being told "OFF" he left the big branches alone. I gave up and let the four year old puppy play with the little branches. 

There are no branches too large for our dog! He will drag (or try) entire trees, it you let him. I have to leave Tank home in order to actually clear branches off the trails.

branch-free trail

snow play*
(18 seconds)

Jameson is a big attraction

He is wearing our old dog Sam's coat, to cover his shaved area's

my first snowshoe outing* of the season

Winter is just coming into its own.
Looking forward to experiencing more winter wonder! 



the wonder of winter ~ 1 of 2

Truth be told, life has been hard(er) lately. Making it more challenging to keep the many blessings that make up my world, in the forefront of my mind and heart.

Just like every snowflake that falls, every day is completely different. 

Yet comfortably similar. It is the differences, that fuel my curiosity. The similarity gives me deep appreciation, for all that surrounds me.

I woke up literally and figuratively, to be reminded of the wonder of winter. 
Wow! What a sight to behold!! 

I have seen our trees covered in snow many many times. Yet, my eyes cannot believe the incredible sight of being enveloped in beautiful soft shades of white, green and brown.

Overcast skies add to the mystical surround sound wonder of a wintery view.

Nemo & Harmony

Views cannot be duplicated with photos or video, although we humans do try. Replication is the next best thing to an in-person experience.

Nemo with a snowstash

Tank and I headed out to wander the woods. Our timing was perfect. Not too cold, not too hot, no wind and no timeframe. Kinda like the Three Bears experience. Only there were two of us. Jameson is recovering from his second surgery to remove fatty tumors.

Every single wintery sight made me wonder.

We started our hike by headed down to the area I call "where the wild things live" to reinsert a trail camera card. Tank ran, dove and popped snow up the entire way. His favorite thing to do. Next to carrying oversized branches, playing with tiny wood chips, zoomies, stealing socks, sleeping by a warm fireplace ~ correction ~ Tank loves everything!

Lessons to learn from a dog.

not today Tank

Our usual route includes a small but steep hill down into the hollow. I only attempt going up the hill in the Winter, until that also becomes too slippery.

path to where the wild things live

a newer trail Brad created, looked sooo inviting

Our dogs are not usually allowed to walk this part of our land. Occasionally if there is deep snow coverage. It borders a small closed town dump. Broken sharp debris has worked up/over onto our property. Hard to tell broken glass to stay on its own side of the property line. My guess is the entire general area was used as a dumping ground, to some degree. Too bad, it is so pretty and offers different terrain.

For now, we enjoy the area as is. Without our four legged family. This area is the furthest away from our house and therefore last on our lengthy list of land projects to tackle. I've written about it before. Planting a prairie may never happen, but Brad assures me we will eventually work on making trails safer for all of us to enjoy together.

Tank and I turned around and walked the bordering field, over towards the Y path. 

Tank got to play London Bridge

I wondered if Tank would go around the bent tree. Silly me. He ran underneath it a buncha times. Me, I went around it.

We did a loop-de-loo through the hollow, and enjoyed more winter sights before heading onto other trails.

"Ma, are you coming?"

The main trail was a mess. Many trees were bent over, under the weight of heavy wet snow. Not passable, unless you are shorter. Like Tank.

Um, yah ~ no

We bushwacked our way through the woods to go around the many warped trees. I was thankful for my poles. They worked really well crossed, to clear the many small branches that would otherwise be smacking my face.

There were not many animal tracks to be found on any of our trails. Just a lot of gorgeous snow covered trees. It reminded me of Alaska.

The bent trees will eventually pop back up. I came across scattered broken tree limbs, mostly pine branches. Nothing major, they will be easy to clear.

I also noticed the most unusual thing. Every day nature teaches me something new.

...to be continued.


barn related updates ~ build-a-barn

Most of you were along for the ride, when we started building our barn in 2016. If not, the process is detailed here. There are things from our original plans that still need/ed to be added. In addition, barn improvements become apparent with use. It is part of the nature of the beast.

The reality is, our homestead will always a work in progress.

For starters, we finally picked out and purchased a long awaited barn refrigerator. It fits just right in the designated Saloon spot. No more walking back to the house because Brad forgot to grab Nemo's allergy shot. It also provides a little extra freezer space for frozen garden produce etc. The water dispenser is not hooked up, yet. Our water needs to be filtered. Brad drinks more water than anyone I've ever seen in my life. It will be put to good use, especially on hot muggy days. 

Brad continues improving air circulation in our barn. Our Big Ass fans do a wonderful job of moving air. They run 24/7/365 days. In the Winter, when the barn is closed up the fans are set super low. We didn't have stagnant air, but we didn't have fresh air circulating either. We all know what active barns that are closed up smell like. My smart hubby consulted and figured out a system to pull warmer air from the attic into the barn and push stale cooler barn air out. During warmer months, the system works in reverse to pull/push fresh cooler evening air.

interior/exterior wall fan

It was a little painful to see Brad cutting a large hole in the barn wall, but farms are not about looks. They are about functionality. This new ventilation system will improve the air quality and temperature for our animals, and us.

box of louvers (by ceiling)

Directly above the louvers is another taller set of boxed louvers in the attic. 

temperature control system

Our electricians hooked up the automatic temperature control system the week of Brad's staycation. It can be adjusted manually.

That same week, Brad poured a manure pit entrance pad. He worked hard pre/post, with only one helper the day of the concrete pour. Just incase you are wondering, I always offer to help with all of our projects.

Tank inspecting Brad's work

(Skewed photo angle, makes pad look really big and pit tiny.)

We clean stalls and take manure to the pit daily. Regardless of how carefully you make a Y turn getting in/out of the pit, the bobcat digs a big 'ol hole in the soft ground. Brad had to fix that area frequently.

enroute yesterday

As you can see, Winter has also arrived for us. There is another special outdoor project that was worked on during staycation, unrelated to the barn. I will post about that project, when it is closer to completion. Thankfully our ground hasn't frozen. Yet. 


rock hopping

We took advantage of gorgeous Fall weather (70's F) during Brad's staycation and revisited Parfreys Glen. A very popular State Natural Area. It was closed during COVID, due to overuse and disrespect. There are many narrow spots/landing areas, where you cross the creek water on rocks and cannot avoid being close to other's. Especially while waiting your turn. Been there done that. Thankfully that is not what we experienced on our third Fall hike. 

There were others enjoying the glen during the weekday, but it was far from busy. The hikers we encountered were spread out. Several just sitting and soaking up nature off the beaten path. We were alone most of the time.

heading out

lower part of the creek

"Parfrey's Glen Creek, a fast, cold, hardwater stream flows through the gorge and harbors a very diverse insect fauna including rare species of diving beetles and caddisflies."

along our way to the gorge

Not much changed since Brad & I were last there. A LOT changed since I started going there as a young adult. There used to be boardwalks and seating at the end, before multiple floods destroyed them. Note; the three old Spring photos are borrowed screenshots. My guess is they are from late 70's - early 80's.

I like Parfreys Glen better au natural, although the boardwalks made it much safer and accessible to more people. We passed several older couples not willing to maneuver more challenging rocks to get to end of the gorge. A common question "how far to the end".

my favorite amazing Parfreys tree

where things start to get really interesting

winding stream leads the way

wider views taken with my iphone

one of many rock-to-rock creek crossings

rock hopping at it's finest

small trout were abundant in shallow crystal clear water

the wonder grows around every turn

Brad led most of the way, and helped me at key moments. It was very risky rock hopping while holding my precious large camera equipment. Especially the wet unstable rocks. Unfortunately, I left my camera backpack in the truck. I handed my camera off to him more then once, while maneuvering the boulders below.

what lies ahead?

pausing to figure out the best way to scale the boulders
(much larger in real life)

looking back from the top of the boulders

For those of you into rock faces, enlarge this ^^ photo. There are many faces, including one that looks like Groot! I was so wowed by my surroundings that I didn't notice them, until I processed the photo.

waterfall at the designated end  


I tried to capture the vast secluded beauty of "the end" with video clips. They do not show dimension and depth very well. Specifically height. If you watch, sound up.

21 seconds

a distance from the waterfall
(8 seconds)

this is the way the end used to look

I was captivated by the sunlight peeking through the dark glen.

ferns growing on the side of rock, very high above

hope & perseverance