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  • Writer's pictureSusan Lawson

Daybook and the Aurora Borealis

Updated: 1 day ago

Above - Rachel's actual photos

A collage that looks more like what we saw without the camera. I used photos from Canva to try to show a more realistic image of what we could see with the naked eye.

Giving thanks - for this wonderful life that God gave me.

We had been hearing for days that we might be able to see the Aurora Borealis for a brief window of time. I hadn't paid much attention to it until that Friday. We were sitting watching television and Rachel saw a post from someone in our neighborhood that included a photo much like the one above. They claimed that they were seeing it. We bolted out the door to see what we could see. Not much as it turned out. So we decided we needed to drive to the other end of the neighborhood where it was further from the street lights to see if the view was any better. There was a woman there with her phone camera pointed to the northwest. She said you can't see it with the naked eye, but if you use the camera on your phone you can see the colors. Sure enough, it was true. We chatted for a little while and then got in the car to go back to the house. But something nudged me and instead of turning to go back to the house I turned onto the highway and headed further east of town where there is mostly country roads and open fields. Rachel was getting more and more of the beautiful color through her camera lens, but still not much we could actually see with our own eyes.

Then we reached the open fields where the sky was only lit with the stars and moon - and the Northern Lights. We pulled off on the side of the road and got out (in our pajamas) and turned our eyes to the huge expanse of something I'll never be able to put fully into words. It didn't look like the photos that are circulating on social media, of course. It was even more wonderful, because we knew we were seeing this through the lens of our own eyes. We laughed and giggled and jumped around a little, in complete disbelief that we were actually witnessing this perhaps once-in-a-lifetime-for-us event. We stood in awe and took it all in and were surprised to discover that it literally wrapped itself around behind us.

Yes, many people see this on a regular basis - those who live in an area where it is common place to them. Yes, many people will travel to those locations to see the phenomenon. And, yes, we are aware that, although beautiful and magnificent, the scientific reason behind the event is actually a danger to our planet. Still, it brought me great joy to experience it. It made me sad to see people who took to social media to poke fun at people who also found some thrill in the joy it brought them and the myriad of photos that looked the same - because it was the same from many different angles, right? But to each his own. As for me, I am incredibly grateful that I got to witness it. I can speak for those members of the family that missed it the first night, that they were sorely disappointed that we weren't able to see them the second night despite our best efforts.

Outside my window - It's another cloudy, rainy day. I never realized how much traffic there is in our little neck of the woods (aka our cul-de-sac) at this time of the morning. It's May 15th and I have the doors open. We've had the AC on mostly because of humidity and allergies, but some days I just need the connection to the sounds of outdoors, even when it's the mowers next door LOL.

We managed to get the canopy on the deck last weekend. Took the Christmas lights down - hey, don't judge me! Uncovered the furniture and seasoned the new barbecue grill. We're ready!

The garden is hosting some garlic that John planted last Fall, chives that I transplanted from another bed that will have to be dismantled in order to move our shed (another story), and scallions as an experiment. I had stored a bunch of uncut, store bought scallions in a jar of fresh water in the fridge. Those roots went crazy. I looked up the likelihood of planting them as starts for future harvest, and sure enough Google declared it possible and a good idea. So I did. The seem to be doing fine - I suppose I'll learn soon enough when I need one for my omelet.

I'm not sure it counts as out my window, but we did have an adventure last weekend. Our grandaugher had started a fire in our microwave when she forgot to add water to her ramen noodles (don't we all have a fire-in-the-microwave story if we're honest?) while we were away to camp. Momma did her best to get the smell out, but her best wasn't good enough LOL. We really needed a new microwave anyway - had for a long time since the handle had come off. So I decided to get one on a trip to Lowes for some other supplies, and while I was gone, John initiated taking the old one down. I came home to discover it hanging partially from it's perch on the wall. He just needed a little helping hand, and so together we took it down. What we discovered behind it was more than a little disturbing.

Listen, we knew that birds had been nesting in our vent for a very long time. Every year they would come back and we'd hear them building their nest, then we'd hear the little baby birds chirp, chirp, chirping away, until finally they were old enough to fly the coop. I had one of my son-in-laws get on a ladder one year to remove the nest with plans to put a grate of some sort in place to keep them out, but it never happened. But to discover their construction project had reached into the actual vent of the microwave was a wakeup call.

The process of digging and prying that mud-packed 2 ft x 2 ft bird home from our walls was not fun. It was gross. But now it is done and there is a fine mesh grate in place to prevent future feathered squatters. At least I hope and pray it works well. The microwave is in place and working better than ever since the vent is now open and clear for what vents are supposed to do.

Clothing myself in - Ankle length, high wasted gray capris and a moss green tank. I'm dressed to the tennis shoes because there is more work to be done today. My hair in not in the ponytail - yet. The day is young.

In the kitchen - Still learning to navigate the new season we're in. Doing a little better each week. The refrigerator is less stuffed and it's easier to find what we need. I have discovered slaw packets and I am enjoying the ease and the taste of one in particular. For camp I picked up a packet of Sunflower Bacon Crunch from Walmart. It was perfect for my contribution to our dinner with family, and I have since purchased a couple for home. It's the epitome of easy. I'll be looking for other shortcuts that are simple but still not over the top in processing and price.

I have very good intentions to get back to creating the content for the Year of Menus on the blog. I actually have most of the menus written down and just need to create the digital versions to upload. I'm trying to find balance between creating and home updating projects.

Writing - I have not been doing much of this... hence the long break between posts. I have not been doing Morning Pages either though, and that's not like me. It's been one form of therapy for a long time and it's time to get back to it, so I'll consider that a goal.

Reading - First Lie Wins by Ashely Elston. It's out book of the month for Beyond the Pages. This is the second book we've read for the newly formed group. Although this one is better than the first, in my opinion, it's teaching me what I enjoy reading and what I don't. It's a good book, but it's not my favorite genre. I like a little fantasy and magic in my stories. Going forward, we're going to integrate a little more of both in the books we choose because I'm not the only one who feels this way.

Watching - We finished Suits. Last night we started to rewatch Game of Thrones. I told John it's not really something I want to invest my evenings in again. It's not something that lifts me up or makes me happy. Don't get me wrong, I admit that I did end up liking it after watching it through the first time, but it's not the thing I want my mind wrapped around every night before going to sleep. It's not happy thoughts, admit it.

That being said, I did happen across a few good movies last weekend. Mother of the Bride with Brooke Shields was a bit similar to Ticket to Paradise, but I thought it was better. Both belong on my favorite movie list though. The Judge with Robert Downey Jr and Robert Duvall was also not a feel good movie but worth every second. I am so happy to see Robert Downey Jr in a role that doesn't make me relive Iron Man's death every time I see his face. Too much folks, too too much. I am a Marvel fan through and through and I love me some Iron Man and Tony Stark.

And last but not least, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 3 I'm going to tell you this now, in case you haven't already figured it out - I don't really worry what other people think about my kind of movies (and books for that matter). They may think they are lame or a big flop, but when I enjoy a movie I will say so without apology. I enjoyed all three of these and would recommend them. ;-)

Listening - Quiet a lot of the time. Birds and other critters as often as I can. Music, because now I can. That's a bitter-sweet fact.

Making - Mostly a plan for updating the house. When I stepped back and realized how much effort and money we're putting into our permanent camp lots to create what essentially will be our second home for retirement , I had to ask myself why we aren't doing the same for our space right here. This will remain our primary home and the hub of most activity for family and gatherings. I had that conversation with John and we agree, it's time to do the same here. We're going to split our efforts accordingly to get them both to a better place for our comfort and peace of mind. Let me share some of the inspiration for the work we have planned.

For inspiration purposes only! Not my photos, but those I found on Pinterest!

We will be converting our front room (which has been the dining room, the quilting room, the office, the play room, the ginerbread house, and family room for a brief time) back into a small family room, for our now-small-family. As our kids have grown up, moved out, and now have families of their own, the needs for the space in our home has evolved. We want more space for family dinners, holidays, and celebrations and more cozy space for just the two (or three) of us when we want to snuggle up to a good movie.

We previously planned a different board and batten design, but John and I both love natural wood. When this popped up in my Pinterest suggestions I knew he would love it even more than the original version which was mostly white wood. This is the perfect look to extend a warm welcome to those crossing over our threshold.

Sometimes it take a photo to help you see potential that you just couldn't imagine before. This changes everything for us. Silly, yes, but true!

Same potential, different view.

The gathering space

Again - photos are for inspiration only.

When our family all gathers, there are (or ultimately will be) twelve adults, and currently eight grandchildren. The new vision includes a big table with seating for twelve, and adjustments made to the space that will provide room for an extra table with seating (for growing number of grandkids) when needed. I really like the style of this table and I'm confident I have people in my life who can build one equally lovely.

We will update the existing breakfast bar and counter. The plans include making sitting at the bar more inviting and comfortable.

There is a corner where my cookbooks have lived for most of the years we've been in this house (22 years!!) I know you are not suggesting that I get rid of them, wipe that thought right out of your mind! Need I remind you of the importance this collection holds for me?

I've considered the now popular coffee bar in this space, but never really landed on a perfect design. This one speaks to me - it says, "I'm the one". John agrees. Again, the natural wood look is the thing for us. We are gaining an awareness of the need to soften the edges some with color. That is forthcoming as well.

But painting cabinets is definitely no on the list of things we are willing to do... This, however, we are very willing to do. I'm over the golden oak look. Or is it honey oak? Whichever, I'm over this and want something more along the lines of the photo on the right. There are claims this can be done with gel stain. We shall see.

Another decision that has held us back for a long time - whether to raise the kitchen cabinets and install floating shelves or build them up and use the space for storage. I think this is our final decision, but since it's still not a completed project I need to be careful about what I declare final. For now, the plan is to raise them, install floating shelves, and add blacksplash. New countertops, stainless sink, flooring and windows. Oh, and building a box around the refrigerator so the cookbooks have a new home :-)

And on to other things...

Camp - Upon arrival for our most recent trip, we were discouraged and frustrated to discover that the work we had paid to be done was not completed to our satisfaction. I'd just get angry if I revisit all that, so I'm just going to say that we hired yet another person to complete the work that was not satisfactory and to do some additional final work. This time I took a more active lead in directing the work. Unless photos are deceiving, which I am well aware that they can be, this time it's done very well and we are pleased and excited that we will be able to move forward. Some before and after photos...


(When I say before, I mean before the most recent work was done

and after the previous two attempts...)


More random photos of why we love camp, traveling, visiting family and life in general.

The view from my chair at Lawson Landing

Going fishing


and the pure pleasure of golf carting

unlike our "spirit tasting" at Hermann last month. We learned we don't much like spirits. Not the kind you imbibe anyway.

Now a good sangria on the other hand...

is a whole other story...

White Sangria from Firebird Wood Fired Grill


So there you have experienced some of my rambling thoughts. If you've made it this far, you must be my reader! LOL

The week ahead - I have work that I can actually do to prepare for the work that I cannot do myself. There is yet more rearranging to be done, but this time it feels like a big tangled ball of yarn that finally loosened up and released the confusion. I have a clearer vision of how we want our home to function and serve our family and friends. This vision is driving the decisions and we are more motivated than ever to get it done - and willing to hire people to help us this time.

John has a big birthday on the horizon - 60. My sweet husband turns 60 tomorrow. I'll follow close behind, but he is leading the way into our next decade together. I keep seeing and hearing that 60-70 is the most productive time in life. Well, I snoped that study and it judges the claim as false. But you know, I think that depends on a whole lot of things, and it's up to us to decide, to the best of our ability, whether it will be or not. For us, we are going to choose to make it the best years so far, and whether than means productivity or not really doesn't matter. We're going to focus on the most important things, which as always turns out is actually people and not things.

Have a great week!


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