Sunday, October 1, 2023

Northland Ladies Retreat

My daughters and friends traveled to Wisconsin for a retreat. My sister, Ladina, came too. There was a whole room full of friends, old and new. Cousins came. As Ladina and I ate our salad luncheon in the dining room that first day I looked around in amazement. 

"This reminds me of the Ladies Retreat in International Falls, Minnesota!" I said between mouthfuls of salad. "We just need Karen Layman to walk in now. And Kay Knepp."

Kay Knepp lives in Colorado so it didn't seem likely that she would show up. Later, when we were eating supper Ladina said, "Here she is!" Karen was walking toward our table.

There was such a feeling of *deja vu* every  moment I was there. I don't remember what year I went to International Falls and have no pictures of that retreat. Just many fond memories ....

             Tea party Saturday evening 

 My friend, Connie Stoll - we share the same birthday. Some day we'll celebrate our birthdays together. I've reached a dilemma. I didn't ask Connie for permission to put her picture on my blog. Shall I post this blog and ask for forgiveness later? 

                  .    Krysta and Seema

            photo credits go to Ruth Witmer
         Deanne Harshbarger and Krysta Nolt

We were invited to Behold His Glory through songs, prayer, and the testimony of the main speaker. There was time for fellowship and several workshops to choose from for our learning experience. 

We were at a beautiful camp next to a lake. Canoes, kayaks, and walking trails through the woods were all available for recreation.

It rained. There was thunder and lightning and streams of water from the sky.  After a very dry summer with little rain this was a welcome sound.

How does a person sum up a Ladies Retreat?
Laughter and tears
Bible stories 
Sharing our every day stories
Praying together
Delicious food 
Coffee, tea, ice water
Talking with family and friends 

So many stories....
Here is one I love.
I was hobbling slowly to my last work shop. I noticed another gal walking in the same direction.  I asked if she was going to Marj Weaver's work shop and she said she was. I asked her where she's from and she said Colby Wisconsin. My ears perked up and I told her I taught school in that area years ago. Four families got together and decided to have a small Christian Day School for their children. The school was in a trailer house sitting in my uncle's yard.

I described my uncle's house and the farm where they lived. She looked at me and then said, "That's the place where I grew up."

I described the house - upstairs and downstairs - and after each description she nodded and said that's the way it used to be. Some things have changed because they remodeled the house.

We exchanged names and phone numbers.

My daughter once jokingly told her cousin,  "Mom could start a conversation with a fence post and before she's done find out she's related." I laughed and took that as a compliment.  

No, I wasn't talking to a fence post, but in a random conversation found the daughter of the family my uncle sold his farm to. 

How cool is that?!

I don't think it was a coincidence. 

The planning committee asked for ideas for next year. I hope to go again and walk on those hiking trails. No more hobbling - no more pain. 

My surgery for a hip replacement is scheduled for October 9th. So many friends wished the best for me and promised to pray for me. I am grateful!

Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Highway 11

That's the road across the top of Minnesota we traveled so many times in our childhood. Mom, my sister, Trenda, and I went from Baudette to Warroad with little sashays on either side to explore our old stomping grounds.

Is there still a flowing well at Vernon's home place? That must be where Gingerich's used to live. What is their daughter's name? The one that used to ride a pig bare back? Debbie!

The tiny Mennonite Church at Graceton -- trees growing in the yard and even in the parking lot out front. What happened to Willie Big George? The tall Native American who stepped inside to listen to the singing some random Sunday evenings. He usually wanted money or a ride to the next town. How brave our Grandpa and Dad and the other men were to talk to him and figure out a plan to help, while Leah and my sisters and I shivered in our bench and tried not to stare. 

Any chance I get I'll come to the top of my state and wander down memory lane, even when the occasion is a funeral of a family member. 

My mom's sister, Mary, went home to be with Jesus. Her husband, Uncle Paul, is buried near Warroad so that's where Mary's home going was celebrated. Such a relaxed, happy funeral - if you can describe a funeral in that way. 

The Stoll cousins sang and played guitars and Alvin's wife, Rita, played the accordian. They invited the audiance to help sing a lot of Mary's favorite songs, the ones she sang and whistled even after she had forgotten her children's names. Even though she forgot her family she didn't forget Jesus, her Savior. 

We heard these comforting verses again. Psalm 23 and John 14. Stories and memories shared by many people ... worshipping our faithful God with songs and prayers and Bible verses. 

After the graveside service Nelson and Rhoda, Trenda, Mom and I started out on our adventure. We drove to Grandpa and Grandma Skrivseth's homes near Roosevelt. Then Trenda found the little church in Roosevelt where Grandpa had Sunday School and church for that community. 
It has seen better days. I remember a Christmas pageant in that little church complete with angels. Seems like someone shone a bright light down from the loft and a booming voice proclaimed to the shepherds that a Savior had been born.

We stopped at Blueberry Hill and drove around the old paths. We used to have potluck lunches there on a Sunday afternoon. If we could talk fast enough to persuade Dad we got to climb a fire tower before we went home. We hardly ever found blueberries there but we picked red wintergreen berries from waxy green plants and devoured them.

The town of Williams came next where we went to grade school. I didn't take a picture of our sad school house. It is all boarded up. 

We stopped at the family/neighborhood cemetery where our Skrivseth family has several family members resting. 

A train went past and I attempted to video that event for my grandson. It was a miserable failure.  Apparently I need someone to show me how to take a video.

We lived about one fourth mile from that busy railroad track. A train went past every hour ... about 23 trains a day according to a friend's count. I love the sound of a train horn tooting a warning at a railroad crossing. 

Eventually we came to Graceton and the little church where we went to Sunday School and Vacation Bible School every summer.
Photo credits to Arlene Pierce
A winter scene

Graceton had a post office and small store on the corner. A book mobile stopped there during the summer so we could keep on getting library books to read. I just finished rereading a book that I found in that book mobile so many summers ago. 
The Taste of Spruce Gum by Jacqueline Jackson  I read it out loud to Ellis when we traveled this summer. 
The depot was moved away from the railroad tracks, there it is in someone's yard.

We drove to Graceton Beach and stood on the shore of Lake of the Woods.
The house where our great aunt lived.

Morris Point Resort was another stopping place. We ate our supper on the deck of the restaurant there. The weather was perfect! 
The food was delicious! Catching up with Nelson and Rhoda was a treat. Nelson is Mom's brother and Rhoda is Dad's sister.

We had to say Goodbye at last then drove to Baudette where Trenda had reserved a room in a motel. 

Hmm! I forgot to take a picture of Willie Walleye in Baudette. You can Google it and see what he looks like. This is not the original Willie Walleye that we used to pose beside for pictures. 

Saturday morning we met a grade school friend for breakfast. Arlene and Trenda were in the same grade. Her older sister, Ellen, was in my grade and they have an older brother, Andrew. Their family went to the same church we did. So many memories surfaced. We had a wonderful time.

After visiting with Arlene we drove on a wilderness drive from Williams over to "The Bog Road" which is really Hwy 72. We found our way to the little community of Rako and had our picture taken by this sign. Trenda loves traveling down dirt roads when she gets a chance.
One of these days I hope Ellis and I can take our family on that wilderness drive and show them all the old places in Lake of the Woods County. 

   This is how we ended the day at Trenda's        house. A couple scrabble games in which Mom won the first one and Trenda won the second. 

Monday, August 21, 2023

Ladina's Garden

      Welcoming yellow and black petunias 

                 A picture inside the door

                  Flowers inside and out

       A photo tour 


      A beautiful day for a walk in the garden

              JoAnna, Maria and Ladina 

Saturday, August 19, 2023

this crochet hook

This is the summer for crocheting book markers. I lost this hook two times and felt sad both times. It is an old friend. I could easily replace it but then it turns up again. This morning it was stuck safely in the top of the crochet thread. When we stopped at Casey's to get a bit of breakfast- poof - it was gone! I looked under the car seat. Beside the seat - everywhere I could think of and it was gone. I walked into the store feeling a kind of blue sensation because I wanted to crochet while we traveled.  

When I came back to the car with a couple pieces of pizza in one hand and a bag with cold drinks in the other there was the crochet hook on the ground right by the car door. Yeah! 

I crocheted while Evan drove and Mom rested in the back seat. And missed all the scenery as we whizzed by it on our way to a family reunion. 

Up north 

Doesn't that phrase send a delightful shiver down your spine? It's always a good day when you head north to blue lakes, green forests and who knows what kind of wildlife. 

Although there is plenty of wildlife just in my own backyard. Twin fawns with spots peeking at me as I drive in the lane. Wild turkeys prancing along in a row across the meadow. A skunk sneaking cat food out of the dish by the back door. A raccoon brazenly eating cat food in the same spot. We should have a dog at our house to chase away these creatures. 

Well, here we are beside the lake enjoying the scenery.

                  Flowers on the deck

         I need more pictures of the lake 
   Ellis and Deanne drove up later in the day
In other news these sweet babies are back in                 Allen and Krysta's home.
     They are running around on sturdy legs
      Enjoying a milk bath instead of napping

          Photo credits go to Rhoda Martin

I ran out of purple thread so I switched to cream. Then I can choose any color for the ribbon. 
Earlier this summer Ellis and I traveled to WI. I couldn't find my crochet hook that time either. I messaged my daughter in law (in a bit of a panic) asking if she had seen it. When we got back to Blooming Prairie I found it in Krysta's drive way. It fell out of the car when we were transferring luggage. This crochet hook has nine lives! 

It's a beautiful day in Minnesota!
Happy Happy Summer!

Friday, August 11, 2023


     We went for a drive in the country after                    supper, Thursday August 10th.
Someone collects windmills and sets them whirling again.
In town the buildings were made of lovely stone
The quarry was closed to the public of course. So we said Goodbye to the little town of Jasper.