Saturday, September 29, 2007


Today is Michaelmas, or St. Michaelmas Day. This holiday isn't celebrated in the United States to my knowledge, but it is observed in England.

We do, however, have Michaelmas Daisies in the U.S. These late-blooming purple flowers are a welcome addition to the fall garden. They get their name because they are usually blooming profusely on Michaelmas Day.

Since I don't celebrate the holiday, I'm going to let an Englishwoman take over. Please check out Leanne's wonderful post today at "Somerset Seasons". To see history, lore, quotations and poetry surrounding Michaelmas Day, just click here:

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


The Harvest Moon is the full moon nearest the autumnal equinox, which occurred here Sunday. Tomorrow evening, we'll see this yellow-orange orb floating near the horizon. The moon has fascinated mankind since time began, but is there anything so mesmerizing as the Harvest Moon? It appears bigger, brighter and more colorful than other full moons.

The brightness of the Harvest Moon is an illusion. Wikipedia gives an excellent explanation: "The yellow or golden or orangish or reddish color of the moon shortly after it rises is a physical effect, which stems from the fact that, when the moon is low in the sky, you are looking at it through a greater amount of atmosphere than when the moon is overhead. The atmosphere scatters the bluish component of white moonlight (which is really reflected sunlight) but allows the reddish component of the light to travel a straighter path to your eyes."

I hope I didn't destroy your romantic illusions about the Harvest Moon with this scientific explanation! This also happens to a lesser extent with the next full moon, The Hunter's Moon.

Our eyes actually do see the low-hanging Harvest Moon as being larger than ones that ride high in the sky. This is known as Moon Illusion. I'm not even going to begin to try to explain or understand this visual or optic illusion.

In addition to color and size, the Harvest Moon is special in another way. At this time of the year, it rises about the same time the sun sets, but more important, instead of rising its normal average of 50 minutes later each night, the moon seems to rise at nearly the same time each night. The extra light these evenings gives the farmers hurrying to finish their harvest added time to work their fields. Hence the name "Harvest Moon." In some years, the Harvest Moon occurs in October.

By the way, I misquoted the lyrics to "Shine On Harvest Moon" in an earlier post. Here is the song as it is supposed to be:


(By Norah Bayes and Jack Norworth)

"Shine on, shine on Harvest Moon, up in the sky

I ain't had no lovin' since January, February, June or July.

Snow time ain't no time to stay outdoors and spoon,

So shine on, shine on Harvest Moon, for me and my gal."


I wish I could take credit for these amazing photos, but I can't. I found them on the Internet. I think the last one was digitally enhanced.

Monday, September 24, 2007


There's a saying in North Dakota that if you don't like the weather, stick around a bit and it will change. Saturday it was in the high 80s. Yesterday it was 90 degrees. A cold front blew in last night and today I don't believe it even made it to 60, and there was a strong, cold wind. I have been resisting, but it's time to drag out my fall jacket.

However, this weather puts me in a mood for hearty meals, cozy afghans, sweaters and socks, cocooning, decorating for fall and giving things away. You may remember that I had promised to do a giftaway when I reached my 200th post, and this is it!

Put a comment on this post and you will be entered for a drawing to receive all of the things you see here. I had already given you a sneak peek of the fall fairy shown below. The photo above is of a squirrel holding acorn salt and pepper shakers. In the top photo, there are the following items: a kitchen towel with (not too) scary black cats, some hedgehog tissues, a Halloween bracelet with vintage scenes, and a ceramic leaf. There's also a "cinnamon bun" candle to be placed on the leaf, but I couldn't scan it so you will just have to imagine it.

I will keep this giftaway open for a week, and draw a name next Monday evening. Good luck to all!

Sunday, September 23, 2007


By Elizabeth Stanhope Forbes
Today was the first day of autumn in the United States. Although it is celebrated and shown on the calendar on dates ranging from September 20 through September 23, the date in a particular area is based on the actual astronomical event. The first day of fall, or Autumn Equinox. occurs when the sun crosses the equator on its journey southward. Due to the the fact that the earth wobbles on its axis slightly, the date may vary by a few days depending on the year. For us in the central time zone of the United States, it occurred at 4:51 a.m. today.
The first day of autumn is also known as Alban Elfed, Cornucopia, Feast of Avilon (Avalon, possibly?), Festival of Dionysus, Day of the Aspen, Harvest Home, Harvest Tide, Mabon, Night of the Hunter, Second Harvest Festival, Wine Harvest, the Feast of Ingathering and Witch's Thanksgiving.
It is, simply, the second day of each year in which the day and night are of equal length, the other day of course being the spring, or vernal, equinox in March.
It is called the The Feast of Dionysus or Wine Festival because this is the time when grapes are harvested from the arbors and put away to become wine. It is called Harvest Tide because this is the time of the great tides. (Living in landlocked North Dakota, I have no idea of this is correct or not.)
Mabon is the term used by some Wiccans and Neopagans, and it's one of their minor
holidays. The name may derive from Mabon ap Modron, a character from Welsh mythology. In Pastoral England, it was also the Second Harvest Festival (the first being Lammas.)
The full moon closest to the autumn equinox is known as The Harvest Moon, and farmers would harvest their crops by the light of the moon. I remember driving with my family from Crosby to Larson at night, the huge orange Harvest Moon low to the horizon. We all would sing, "Shine on, shine on Harvest Moon, up in the sky, keep on shining, January, February, June and July."
Interestingly, I learned that Mabon is not an authentic ancient festival. The name Mabon has only been applied very recently, the term being invented in the 1970s. Previously simply called the autumn equinox, the event was re-named to impart a more authentic-sounding "Celtic" feel, since all the other festivals either had names deriving from genuine tradition, or had had names given to them. The use of the name is much more prevalent in America, with many British Neopagans being dismissive of it "as an unauthentic name with not even a glimmer of connection to any seasonal lore."
Alban Elfed (Elved/Elvid) is the Celtic and Druidic name for this holiday, the counterpart to Alban Eiler (Spring Equinox), which I wrote about in a post in March. "At this time, our ancestors saw the Lady who is the Spirit of the Land stand before her people with the full bounty of her harvest. Here is the reward of labour and perseverance of the Land. This is the fulfilled promise of the days of spring and summer. This is The Reckoning of the Year, for Harvest is now complete and the portions are set to feed folk and animals through the cold dark days that lay ahead. This is a time of wonder and gratitude for the gifts the Lady showers down upon her people." In short, it is the original celebration of Thanksgiving.
As I mentioned before, one of the names for this celebration is Harvest Home. I read Thomas Tryon's delightfully creepy "Harvest Home" years ago. Fortunately, the website "The Witches' Inn" reassures us: "Despite the publicity generated by Thomas Tryon's novel, Harvest Home is the pleasantest of holidays. Admitted, it does involve the concept of sacrifice, but one that is symbolic only. The sacrifice is that of the spirit of vegetation, John Barleycorn.
This spirit - also known as the Spirit of the Fields and The Spirit of The Barley, was believed to reside most especially in the last sheaf or shock of barley harvested. The sheaf was dressed fine clothes, or woven into a wicker-like. man-shaped form (hence the term The Wicker Man). This effigy was then cut and carried away from the field and usually burned, among much rejoicing.
This annual mock sacrifice may have been the origin of the misconception - a rumor started by Julius Caesar when the Romans were messing about Britain - that Druids made human sacrifices. In fact, there is not one single eyewitness account of a human sacrifice performed by Druids in all of history.
The next post will be my 200th post. Time for an autumnal/Halloween celebration. Make a comment on that post and you will be entered in my giftaway. It doesn't matter if you live outside the US. Please stop by and enter this celebration of one of my favorite times of year!


Yesterday, my book club friends and I celebrated the last day of summer by driving to Dickinson. What, you might ask, would entice us to travel 90 miles to this small North Dakota city with few attractions besides a very good dinosaur museum (southwestern North Dakota is excellent dinosaur fossil country).

One of our members moved to Dickinson some years ago, and we drive out every September to see her. The day always includes lunch at a local restaurant, some shopping, visiting with dessert and coffee at her home, and of course, discussing the book. Dickinson actually has several nice shops, including one called "The Village", which is far nicer than any home decor/gift shop in Bismarck.

It was a beautiful day, and I think the best part of it was the drive there and back. Although I followed the conversation of my fellow travelers, and joined in from time to time, for the most part I was content to gaze out the windows and note the subtleties in the scenery.

Hundreds of thousands of cars follow our route, it being Interstate Highway 94. I am sure that for most of those drivers, North Dakota is flat and boring. They put the pedal to metal, hurrying to see real scenery in Montana. But I - and my fellow passengers - found beauty in this warm turn-of-the-seasons day.
Many of trees have now changed color, just a week after I reported here in this blog that parts of trees but not entire trees had turned. A small stand of trees (yes, the prairie has trees) in a coulee was a mix of green, yellow and red, breathtaking when paired with a red barn in the background. The yellows, golds and light oranges of cottonwoods against gently rounded hills was our backdrop to the south. To the north were prairie potholes with deep indigo coloration at the centers and lighter blue at the shorelines.
The crops have been harvested, except for the sunflowers and the corn. I was amazed to see miniature sunflowers, and actually had to ask what "those yellow flowers" were. The corn is no longer green, but beige. One harvested field still bore the colors of its crops - strips of green alternating with tan. I am a North Dakota girl but I am not a farm girl. I can't tell wheat from barley even when they're ripe, and I can't ever recall seeing different crops planted in stripes across a field.
I remember thinking to myself that I would need to use a thesaurus to describe the various colors I saw. The prairie grasses had turned as well, and covered the gamut from rust to russet to brown, tawny, ochre, bronze, auburn, cinnamon, fawn. Were the leaves on those bushes in the ditches red, or were they vermilion, scarlet, maroon, or crimson? I settled on vermilion.
Did the drivers in the cars breaking the speed limit see the small herd of pronghorn antelope that we spotted? Did they notice the subtle difference in the hay bales? Bales in the fields are covered with plastic wrappers, while bales in the ditches are left bare.
Do the truckers rushing to deliver their loads note that there are many different kinds of buttes? There are ones with rock outcroppings on the top, little ones that look like miniature volcanoes, ones containing rosy red scoria, and the stair-stepped butte near New Salem whose bottom step is home to Salem Sue.
Salem Sue (or New Salem Sue), by the way, is the world's largest fiberglass Holstein cow. Located at New Salem, a little town 30 miles from Bismarck, Salem Sue is near the beginning of our trip. Near the end of the trip is a highway exit featuring "Geese in Flight", the world's largest scrap metal sculpture. "Geese" marks the turnoff for the 32-mile Enchanted Highway of metal sculptures - jumping deer, fish, Teddy Roosevelt, the Tin Family, grasshoppers, pheasants. It's a fun little side trip, if one has time.
Our group has always meant to take another side trip, to tour the beautiful Assumption Abbey at Richardton, and to visit the monks' bluebird trail. As it was, we didn't leave Dickinson until 6 p.m. By 7:30 p.m., we were nearing home, and long soft blue shadows began to cross the land. We didn't do it this time, but usually at this point one of us begins to sing "North Dakota" and the others join in: "You oughta go ta, North Dakota, see the cattle and the wheat, and the folks that can't be beat. You say hello ta, North Dakota, and you just can't say goodbye. The skies are bluer than blue, the sun is sunnier too, and if you don't believe it then there's only one thing to do (repeat from beginning)."
And as I arrived home I saw, peeking over my front fence, the last pink rose of summer.

Friday, September 21, 2007


There's no telling what a person will turn up when she sets out to organize drawers, files and boxes! This is a school picture of me at age 15, a sophomore in high school. I thought I'd print it here because I think it bears quite a resemblance to the photo on the top right side of my blog.

Oh, sure, I didn't have big bags under my eyes back then, I had only one chin, and I was a whole lot slimmer (skinny, actually), but I think the inner essence of "me-ness" is the same. For sure, I have come full circle to almost the same hairdo. There's not much a person can do with absolutely straight, fine, thick hair and a darned cowlick!

I still have the same facial expression too. People who don't like me would call it a smirk; people who like me (or myself) would call it an enigmatic, Mona Lisa smile.

I'd like to think that the 15-year old Julie is still inside this 58-year old. I'm still the avid reader, I still love to learn, I am still the unquenchable romantic. I still love the songs of the British Invasion. I still love nature, the country, dogs and family, birds and flowers.

The first time I saw the formal Sears portrait of my infant niece, Kelsey, the thought instantly came to my mind that "this is an old soul." There was just something in her eyes that told me so. And at 16 now, she is a wise young woman.

I think I am a young soul, still "trailing clouds of innocence", as Wordsworth said of children, but perhaps not so young as my soul at 15. I'm not so painfully shy, or so terribly sensitive. I have also definitely become tougher, though it may not show on the outside. I'm not a naive, inexperienced young thing anymore, but then what woman is? One certainly would not want to be arrested at that stage of development forever. I had not yet had my first kiss at age16, from Jim Peterson after a church group hayride.

People have debated from time immemorial about what the soul is, and where the soul resides. Where is my soul? I think it rather abides with me, rather than resides in me. One quote I read that has stayed with me for a long time is that we are not bodies with souls, we are souls that happen to have bodies.

Did I exist as a soul without a body before Julie was born? Will I go on as a soul when Julie's body is gone? I don't know. I don't know when the soul is born or dies; I'd like to think it never dies. But I do believe that my soul was with me in the beginning, and made - and makes - me what I am. My soul has created the expression on my face, the particular light in my eyes, the words I speak, the words I write, the thoughts I think. And I think I like my soul.


By Christine Mason Miller

"Being creative feeds a well that, as humans, we are all born with. To watch the level of abandonment with which children create and not recognize this deep need within ourselves is a bit like trying to stay cold in front of a roaring fire. We can't help but want to create. We are human, after all."

The collage above is by one of my favorite artists. How fitting that I should find a piece of her work that speaks to creativity, not long after I posted about giving up my fears regarding creating art. (By the way, you can see more of her work at

I have one little criticism directed at her use of the word abandonment. I think she meant children create with a level of abandon. (Though creating art helps abandoned children therapeutically, I don't think that's what she meant.)

I want to thank all of you for leaving such encouraging and thoughtful comments and emails. I can't begin to tell you how much I appreciate it. You have really lit a spark for me and I hope it grows into a lively, snapping, warming fire.

Here's another bit of serendipity: I bought the magazine Mary Englebreit's Home Companion yesterday and found a painting of hers with the phrase shown below. I do agree. No matter what level of skill we are at, we are all gifted and we cannot neglect or suppress it.

P. S. It is going to take a while for me to launch my new blog. I want to create a banner instead of having the "prefab" banner that's on this blog. Since I don't know HOW to create a banner, this may take some time, especially since I want something that is my own creation, not a photo that I have lifted from some source. I mean, it's going to be an ART blog so how can use someone else's art? Also, I completely forgot to mention this will also be a POETRY blog as well as an art blog. Plus, I've made some bits of jewelry that I want to show, and I WILL - dammit - create that "Spirit Doll" I have been planning for weeks in my mind.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Okay, so I lied in my previous post. Here's one more. But actually,
I think of this not as a piece of art but a visual journal entry.
(Click on picture to read writing)


SACRED JOURNEYS by Julie Fredericksen
(*One lesson I learned - don't use so much Mod Podge!)
I promise you I am not going to barrage you with a whole bunch of my collages - not in this blog, at least.

I am using this collage of mine - which happens to be the cover of a spiral bound journal/notebook, to tell you that I am no longer going to be afraid. Somewhere recently (in a blog, I think), I read this question: "What are you afraid of?" I am afraid to create, and I am afraid to share the results of my creativity.

But I have a burning need to create, and I have more than enough materials at hand to do so. I mean, I have all the paints, ribbons, markers, crayons, colored pencils, stamps, papers, embellishments, findings, magazine clippings, etc. that one woman could want. Mostly, they sit unused in boxes or in drawers.

I have read books on journaling, collage, book making and writing poetry. Now it's time to stop being afraid and get to work. I had a good start when I took my visual journaling class, but that ended in early April. Since then, I've hardly opened the door to Kristen's old room, which has become my office/work area.

Creating art is something that I WANT to do; something that I enjoy doing once I begin. But there's this inner critic, this subversive, nasty voice, that usually prevents me from even getting started. It censors me. It dampens my flame.

How did I get to be that way? I think I, like most people, think that if I can't draw, I can't create art. Also, one summer during my college years, my stepfather saw me pasting some magazine pictures into a scrapbook. He was very scornful about my "childish" activities. He was forever putting me down, killing my spirit and sucking my soul.

However, I have come to believe that playing with papers and scissors is good for your soul, no matter what age you are. I have put this quote into another collage of mine (sorry I don't know the source): "I've talked to a lot of women my age, and they say it all goes back to cutting out paper dolls. When women are together and they cut out or color in, I notice an almost-going-back to childhood feel in the atmosphere of the room, and it's an escape. That's what's magical and delightful - it's almost a return to something in your childhood."

I vow, from now on I am not going to be so fearful any more. And I am also going to push the envelope beyond what I have already done. All of my "art" so far is pretty. I can't seem to help it. I want it to be less pretty, less structured, more spontaneous. I want it to have texture and depth. It is too glossy, too planted in reality. I need to push my boundaries further and further.

I need to grow and stretch. I need to "think outside the box." I need to go beyond the cliches and be truly creative.

I think that the more I explore with my toys, the more free my expressions will become. I need to break out of the conventional traps that I find myself in, and find my real self.

I am 58 years old, and if I am going to do it, I have to do it now. There will be a lot of trial and error, a real learning curve.*

To that end, look for my announcement of a new blog coming soon.


(This photo is REALLY cool when enlarged. Just click on it.
You'll even see the birds on the sandbar!)

What is this place, emerging out of the mists? Is it is the enchanted Isle of Avalon, home of the priestesses of the ancient goddess? Is it Brigadoon, the Scottish town which is visible only one day every one hundred years? No, it's Bismarck! But today it appeared enchanted.

When I left home this morning the sky was morning-glory blue. As I drove west, I couldn't believe my eyes. Was that fog I saw a few blocks ahead? Indeed it was. By the time I reached the river's edge, I was enveloped in fog. Emerging from the mists which shrouded them were the construction crane for the new bridge and the beautiful lacy ironwork of the old bridge. (The photo above shows yet another bridge - to the south of the one I drive across every day).

As soon as we got to the Mandan side of the river, the fog was gone, instantly! When I reached my office a few minutes later, I looked out my second-floor window toward the river. A dark grey ribbon of fog followed the river's course. Fifteen minutes later, and the fog had turned pure white, but still clearly delineated the river's path. By 9:00, the spectacle was gone.

In recent days, the Missouri has looked so serene and calm as I cross it. It's hard to believe that underneath its surface it is shifting sandbars, eroding banks, and moving hundreds of thousand of gallons of water in its quest to meet the Mississippi River and eventually drain into the Gulf of Mexico.

A mighty dam holds back the river at Garrison, about 50 miles north of Bismarck. We folks upstream, the Montanas and Dakotans, want the river levels to be high here. When they are down, recreation suffers, and our states need the recreation revenue. (And our residents deserve to enjoy their lakes and rivers.) The U. S. Corps of Engineers has a different idea for this river. They have lowered the water level here so that it will be high down south, for barge traffic.

I am not going to get into this argument at the moment. And the Mighty Mo, in the long run, doesn't care. It just keeps on a-rollin' toward the sea, and it will do so long after we are gone. But today it showed me part of my sacred life.

Monday, September 17, 2007


Waiting for me when I got home from a long, dreary Monday at work was a package from Australia. I had won Robyn of "Tales From Inglewood's" Faerie Magick giftaway a couple of weeks ago and never expected the package to arrive so soon. It certainly instilled a lot of faerie magick into my day.
In case you can't read the (sideways) note on the package, Ms. Robyn wrote: "When I was little, my nan would buy me Honey Jumbles and I would sit under the ancient willow tree, eating them while I chatted to the faeries." I immediately had to open the bag and taste this treat that entices faeries. They are delicious - sort of like a soft ginger cookie with either pink or white frosting. I have already eaten several.
Since it is a beautiful warm day, I will take them out to my patio and eat them under my own magic tree, a huge American elm.
The package also included the faerie stones, the greeting card and the faerie card you see here, plus a little bottle of faerie candies and a cardboard pouch with a teeny, tiny pink ring just the right size for a faerie. I am going to leave it out on my computer and see if anyone spirits it away to her faerie den.
Everything was wrapped up in purple tissue paper with a hot pink ribbon. It was the most fun thing I've gotten in the mail in a long time. (Since I got my package from Carmen, tee hee.) Thank you, Robyn, for the magick.
There are only eight more posts until my 200th post, when I will be having a fall giftaway. Please add your name to the post on that day to enter. Even if you live Down Under, you can still enter and enjoy the fall gifts six months from now.

Sunday, September 16, 2007


I mentioned in my previous post that I had soup in a bread bowl during the street fair on Saturday. I had chicken tortilla soup, with big nice chucks of white meat chicken, but I could have chosen beer cheese soup or wild rice soup. What a dilemma! As I like them all, it was hard to pick just one. This year, they even furnished pieces of bread for dipping, as it is a little hard and messy to wrest soup-soaked bread from the top and insides of the bowl. It was nummy.
I have become a real soup aficionado lately. Now that it's fall, I want to have heartier food, and soup really fits the bill. It seems I must have soup for every lunch, either by itself or with a sandwich.
There's a local market that offers a half dozen freshly-made, takeout soups each day. Talk about being difficult to choose just one. Saturday before last was cold and rainy, and I was wet when I got to the market. No wonder I chose two soups - a small cup to consume with a plastic spoon right in my car with the heater blowing warm air, and a larger cup of chicken tortilla to bring home for later. My "breakfast" soup was new to me, a lovely hamburger "chowder" with cheese and thinly-sliced potatoes. I liked it way better than New England or Manhattan clam chowder, which are among the few soups I can pass up.
What I can't pass up: The aforementioned soups; broccoli cheese, cauliflower cheese or California Medley cheese soups; beef noodle or beef barley soup; chicken vegetable soup (preferably homemade but I'll take the "homemade" canned); and vegetable beef soup. The Wood House Restaurant in Bismarck makes the best vegetable beef in town. It has wonderful big chunks of beef and a savory base, and they cook the soup so long that I can actually eat the carrots and green beans.
My little brother, Ronnie, so loved my Grandma's potato soup that he would eat three or more bowls at one time. Grandma always said Ronnie had a hollow leg to hold all that soup. I myself had a great bacon and potato soup with vegetables the other day.
I must mention the Munro Family's homemade chicken soup. My Grandma and mom made - and now my sister carries on the tradition of - making the best chicken soup in the world, with homemade, gnarly fat noodles. I remember so well Grandma cutting the noodles and placing them on chair backs to "cure". My sister has actually found store-bought noodles that are just as good, and she buys chicken breasts instead of roasting a chicken, but her soup is as good as Mom's and Grandma's because the stock is exactly like theirs, and that is the secret.
Bismarck is the "capital" of knoephle soup, which is supposedly a potato and dumpling soup in a chicken stock base. Several Bismarck eateries claim to have the best knoephle soup, but I find each wanting. The "dumplings" are actually just clumps of gummy dough. The best knoephle soup, in my opinion, was made by The Drumstick Cafe, which is now closed. That knoephle soup had real dumplings, and a delicious creamy herbed base.
It takes living in Bismarck to be a connoisseur of knoephle soup, as well as borscht soup. I resisted tasting borscht for years, thinking it was a red soup made with pickled beets. I finally learned it is more like a vegetable soup, and Dakota Farms Restaurant in Mandan makes a wonderful borscht. Another Mandan restaurant makes a borscht with a creamy pink base but I could not wrap my mind around eating pink soup the one and only time I ordered it.
Speaking of colored soups, I have never tasted vichyssoise, which I imagine to be green but perhaps is not.
Some soups are best left to restaurants. In my early marriage, I actually made a homemade French onion soup (I was a much more adventurous cook in my early wedded years.) I could not believe how much work that soup is. Later, my husband and I liked Cross and Blackwell's French onion soup, to which we added a layer of croutons and Swiss cheese. Now that our local stores have stopped stocking this soup, I have it only at restaurants. Oh, that wonderful melted cheese topping that strings out from you spoon as you lift the spoon to your mouth!
And Chinese soups, naturally, are best in restaurants. I can readily pass up won ton soup. I like egg drop soup for its flavor but not for its looks. But consomme soup is exquisite, with its green onions and beef consomme flavor, with a bunch of hard noodles thrown in. Like in the Goldilocks story, the noodles, when ready to eat with the soup, can't be too hard or too soft, but just right.
In our family, along with 7-Up, Lipton's dry mix chicken noodle soup was our comfort food when anyone was sick with cold or a flu. I sent packets of this soup to Kristen when she was going to school in France, and I think it is the only soup she eats today. I prefer the variety with diced chicken; she likes the extra noodle. I'll often have this soup for breakfast Saturday morning, with the doggies sharing soup-soaked saltines.
You'll notice that I have mentioned soup for breakfast twice now. You may think I am off my nutter. My Mom served pancakes or bacon and eggs, not soup, for breakfast. But I'll never forget the time I stayed with my two farm girl friends/sisters from school. Charlotte and Lenore. Their mom served us soup for breakfast. I must have looked askance at her, as she explained to me that she wanted to give her children a really hearty, stick-to-your ribs breakfast for their long bus ride, school day and return trip.
A wonderful cold weather meal when you have worked a long hard day and don't feel like cooking an elaborate meal is tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. Where can you find a more perfect duo? My husband sometimes adds ham to the grilled cheese sandwiches to make it an even heartier meal.
Campbell's soups, like the chicken noodle soup, chicken vegetable soup and tomato soup were staples in our home when I was growing up. We had tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches on Christmas Eve, my savvy mom knowing it was an easy meal that us kids would readily eat, as eager as we were to open Christmas gifts. After we kids grew up, my mom discovered a wonderful salmon, corn and bacon chowder that I salivate over just thinking about.
Some soups, like the above-mentioned clam chowder, just don't ring my chimes. I remember the homemade tomato soup with stewed tomatoes floating in hot milk that my friends' moms used to make. Yuck times two. Bean and bacon and bean and ham soups are OK, but rather bland.
Cream of chicken soup? Okay, but best left to cooking, in my opinion. And who could eat Lipton French Onion Soup as a soup? Only in recipes, I say. Cream of mushroom soup? Gack! I always substitute cream of chicken in a recipe. I really dislike this soup, and mushrooms in general, and had to check with my friends' moms to make sure they weren't serving mushroom soup when I was invited to dinner or supper.
There are new soups out there to be tried. The market recently had a great looking tomato basil ravioli soup that looked just fabulous.


Two perennial favorites at Bismarck's Folkfest Street Fair - Turkey Drumsticks and Funnel Cakes (this Bismarck Tribune photo was taken Friday - no jackets were needed Saturday!
Saturday was what my husband calls a Bluebird Day - a warm fall day with blue skies. Thursday and Friday had been unseasonably cold, and my right hand completely swelled up with an acute attack of what I like to call rheumatism. Dan, a former physician's assistant, says it is arthritis, plain and simple, and it know it really is. But I prefer what the old folks called it, "the rheumatiz", and I definitely felt like one of the old folks last week.
But Saturday dawned blue and mellow, with leaves just beginning to turn. Not entire trees yet - but portions of trees - are starting to show color. I was so glad it would be nice, because my sister and I were set to attend the Folkfest Downtowners' Street Fair that afternoon.
Glad, because I have vivid memories of shivering under grey skies while trying to eat a fleischkeuchle (German deep fried meat pie) during Oktoberfest. Bismarck's fall celebration used go by that name and was held a a month later, so as to celebrate the German heritage so strong in our area. But some years ago - in hopes of generally better weather - the celebration was moved to the third weekend of September and re-named to encompass a wider group of people.
Oktoberfest used to be little more than some local bars putting picnic tables in their parking lots and serving fleischkuechle, brats and kraut, knoephle soup and kuchen. Now, a large area of downtown Bismarck is roped off from auto traffic, and hundreds of food and craft booths dot the streets.
I used to go mainly for the crafts, but after 25 years nothing much is new. Now, we go mainly for the food, and I suspect a lot of other people do too (the men, for sure). Whatever you are hungry for you'll find it at the street fair: soup in a bread bowl, Indian tacos, gyros, buffalo burgers (they're good!), cheese curds, fry bread, satay (skewered beef in spicy peanut sauce), Chinese food, deep-fried walleye, Norwegian lefse, I could go on and on. It always made me chuckle to see my petite, extremely picky daughter chow down on a turkey drumstick like there was no tomorrow!
The only thing I regret about leaving my previous job is that my friends and I could go right out the front door of the Wells Fargo Bank building on Folkfest Fridays and immediately be in the midst of food heaven. We used our morning and afternoon coffee breaks to go scout out and bring back fresh raspberries on ice cream, mini donuts, kettle corn, cheesecake on a stick, caramel apple slices.
Yesterday, my sister and I followed our usual agenda - cover the entire fair, check out all the food and craft booths, then decide which foods we'd like to go back for, and secure two places among the crowded tables (this year, a table in the shade was a must). Oh, it was hard, especially as I had left most of my cash in a bank envelope on the seat of my car and I had to be very choosy.
I finally settled on a grilled pork chop sandwich, a bread bowl of chicken tortilla soup and a freshly-squeezed lemonade. My sister chose Chinese stir fry and rice, and an ice cream brownie sandwich. After we ate, we lingered at the table for the best part of the day: people- and dog-watching. I have never been able to figure out why people bring their dogs to a crowded street fair, but they were there, along with cute babies, excited kids, men bearing big plates of food, ladies carrying bags with fall crafts peeking out, teenagers having a good time but hardly deigning to show it, and the lovable eccentrics.
After we left, we went to Starbucks, as my sister had been shut out in her attempts to buy a frappuchino at the Starbucks' and other coffee booths downtown. We took our drinks outside to the patio, unwilling to end a perfect day. We sat under the tree and watched the world drive by, both on South Third Street and in the Starbucks drive through. More people watching!
As an added bonus, Glori drove me out to her house in Lincoln, five miles outside of Bismarck, to see her seven new kittens. She assures me at least one has my name on it, if I could get Penny and Gracie to accept it. There's an all-black little sweetheart named Stevie . . .We got our beloved Dusty the day before Halloween when Kristen was five years old. Now, it's 20 years later and Dusty has passed after 18 1/2 wonderful years. Maybe I could have another Halloween kitty in my house?

Thursday, September 13, 2007


(By Timothy Easton)


September: It was the most beautiful of words, he's alway felt, evoking orange-flowers, swallows, and regrets."
~Alexander Theroux
(Many many thanks to Mari-Nanci of "Smilnsigh" for sharing with me a site that contains lovely paintings. (The painting shown here and the one in the post below were "stolen" from Mari-Nanci's blog.) Because I love them so much and because I begged her to tell me where she found them, she graciously shared that she finds them at Please do visit Mari-Nanci's blog. It is so delightful!:


(Popular translation by Johnny Mercer)
The falling leaves
Drift by the window
The autumn leaves
Of red and gold
I see your lips
The summer kisses
The sunburned hands
I used to hold
Since you went away
The days grew long
And soon I'll hear
Old winter's song
But I miss you most of all
My darling
When autumn leaves
Start to fall

This is a familiar song to most of us, having been performed by a number of famous American recording artists.

I do enjoy this song - the melody, the evocation of falling leaves drifting by a window, and the thought that the lover will miss his darling most of all "when autumn leaves start to fall."

However, this song is a translation of a French song called, "Les Feuilles Mortes." And I learned it in French. So where Mercer wrote about sunburned hands and lips, I learned "Les feuilles mortes se remassent a la pelle, Les souvenirs and les regrets aussi". Loosely translated, with nearly 40 years between me and my last French class, this means: "The dead leaves are gathered on the rake; the memories and the regrets as well." (Dear Kristen, my French-major daughter, I can visualize you grimacing. So please if you have time send me a proper translation of the song or at least of the few lines above.)

I found several English translations of "Les Feuilles Mortes" on the web. One, by a Frenchman, is extremely literal, awkward and inept. ("I loved you so much, you was so pretty.") By the way, this translation recites that the leaves are gathered by a shovel. The correct translation of "la pelle" is shovel, but I am sticking with rake as it is what I learned, and it sounds so much nicer.

The other translation is by Coby Lubliner, who has some interesting things to say about translating lyrics in general, and in particular, the practice of creating a virtually new song with only vague connections with the original: "One of the most egregious examples of this practice is the poignant, bittersweet French song Les Feuilles Mortes, whose lyrics are by the great poet (and screenwriter) Jacques Prevert and which made a star of Yves Montand. The American music industry, alas, amputated this song of its verses and published only the refrain as the ballad Autumn Leaves, with typically mawkish lyrics by Johnny Mercer. But since this version was recorded by the likes of Nat "King" Cole, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and their ilk, not to mention countless instrumental performances, it has, like the north wind, swept the original song into oblivion's icy night, except perhaps in French-speaking cultures. I have modestly tried to remedy this (in my opinion) travesty."

I am re-printing Lubliner's version below. I think he keeps pretty well to the spirit of the song, if not the letter, if my shaky French is any indication. But he strays too far sometimes. He avoids the whole shovel/rake quandary and instead makes it "Dead leaves are gathering as in December." The word December does NOT appear in this song! I'll forgive him, however, because he uses December to rhyme with "remember". He is successful in rhyming the English translation, which is extremely difficult to do when moving from one language to another.

Oh, I would like you so much to remember
Those happy days when we were friends, and how
Life in those times was more lovely and tender,
Even the sun shone more brightly than now.
Dead leaves are gathering as in December
You see how one never forgets ...
Dead leaves are gathering as in December
Just like the memories and regrets.
And then the north wind comes and sweeps them
Into oblivion's icy night.
You see how I never forget
That old song that you sang for me.
A song like us, birds of a feather,
You loving me, me loving you,
And we lived happily together,
You loving me, me loving you.
But life tears apart gentle lovers
Who quietly obey their heart,
And the sea invades the sand and covers
The footsteps of those torn apart.
Dead leaves are gathering, dead leaves are piling
Up just like memories and like regrets.
But still my love goes on quietly smiling
Thankful for life and for all that it gets.
I loved you so, you were ever so lovely,
How can I forget? Tell me how!
Life in those times was more sweet and beguiling,
Even the sun shone more brightly than now.
You were my most sweet friend and lover,
But regret is all that I can do,
And I'll keep on hearing the song
That I used to hear sung by you."
But to me, forever, the French version is the most beautiful:
"Les feuilles mortes se remassent a la pelle,
Les souvenirs et les regrets aussi
Et le vent du nord les importe
Dan la nuit froide de l'oublie
Tu vois, je n'ai pas oublie
La chanson que me me chantais."
Talk about bittersweet!
Added Friday morning:
My eyesight must really be getting bad. I just noticed that this beautiful painting of trees in autumn contains Eeyore, Pooh, and is that Piglet too? All of a sudden, the painting isn't quite right for this post about bittersweet love. But I'm going to keep it. We all need a little Eeyore and Pooh in our lives.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


When I was looking for photos for my post about bittersweet (below), I wasn't surprised to find this photo labeled "Bittersweet." Not surprised, because a lot of people mix up bittersweet and Chinese lanterns. I suppose it is because of their shared orange color and their appearance in fall. FOLKS, THIS IS NOT BITTERSWEET! It is CHINESE LANTERNS.

I tried growing Chinese lanterns once, but failed miserably. I have never seen it grown in any garden in Bismarck so I had supposed it was not suited to our climate. However, since then, I have been able to purchase stems of Chinese lanterns at fall craft fairs from area vendors.

The "lanterns" are extremely fragile but if you take really good care of them and pack them well from season to season, they can last a long time.


Just as bittersweet is found entwined around trees and bushes, the word "bittersweet" is entwined in my mind with the word "autumn".

The first time I ever heard about bittersweet was when I was 15 and read Betty Smith's book "Joy in the Morning." In the book, Annie McGairy, who had never seen bittersweet either, passes by a florist's window and is captivated by the beautiful red and orange berries. She stops in to inquire about the cost, which turns out to be 10 cents a stem. For Annie, this is a lot of money - a real extravagance - but she can't resist purchasing some, and the florist wraps her bittersweet stems in florist's paper.

When I moved to Bismarck, I learned that keeping one's bittersweet-gathering spot a secret is akin to mushroom hunters in Provence keeping mum about the location of their truffles. I have a friend who always brings home big loads of bittersweet branches every fall. I kept asking her to take me along on these excursions, but she never seemed to call. Finally, it dawned on me (I am a bit slow on the uptake) that she was NEVER going to call me to go with her.

Actually, I know where a lot of bittersweet grows - south of Bismarck in Sibley Park by the Missouri River. However, it is against the law to take any natural material from state parks, so I have never taken any. I suppose I could scope out a site in the daytime and return at night to purloin some. However, knowing my luck, I would fall in the river instead.

I have managed to find some bittersweet on my own - in ditches along the back roads by the river. In North Dakota, at least, this is where bittersweet seems to thrive.

I especially love finding bittersweet that hasn't opened yet. In this state, the berries appear orange. But pick them, bring them into your warm home, and in a very short time you'll see the orange outer layer split and flare out to become the bittersweet "petals". Hiding inside are the orangey-red berries. Some years, I can't find any bittersweet, and have to rely on finding some at the various fall craft festivals held in the area.

Stems of bittersweet look wonderful no matter how they are displayed, but they look especially good in straw baskets or copper or rusty containers.

I could belabor the obvious and natter on about autumn being a bittersweet season, but I think that's all been said before.

P. S. I mentioned the book "Joy in the Morning" by Betty Smith, of "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" fame. Apparently, a lot of people think this book is not quite up to par with ATGIB, which is of course a classic. But I thoroughly enjoyed it, and Penguin Books has chosen it as a Modern Classic. It tells the story of Annie McGairy, a Brooklynite like ATGIB's heroine, Francie Nolan. Annie is transplanted to an unnamed (in the book) Midwestern university where her brand-new husband is studying law. I just found out tonight, by Googling Betty Smith's name, that the school is the University of Michigan. Like ATGIB, "Joy" is an autobiographical novel for Smith.

Joy in the morning? Yes, it is a joy to see an uneducated Annie try to be a good wife to Carl, to see her make friends with members from all the social strata of the town, and to slowly, slowly start to gain an education for herself. I especially loved the part where she finds a tattered old copy of "War and Peace" for a quarter, patches it back together and laboriously - with the help of a dictionary - studies the book page by page and re-writes it too!

By the way, do not bother with the dreadful movie that was based on this book.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


(Collage within a collage by Julie Fredericksen
and Lila Rostenberg)
(Click on photo to enlarge for detail)
A few months ago Lila from "Indigo Pears" sent me some fabulous artist papers and the 4x4 card "A Bit Bohemian." Lila's card, plus the theme of the papers she sent, made me think of a Bohemian lady who is still a simple country lass at heart.

Lila contributed the "Bohemian" collage, the dotted brown paper, the feather and the robin. I took it from there.



Collage by Julie Fredericksen
(Click on photo to enlarge for detail)
This was an exercise I did while devouring the book "True Colors: A Palette of Collaborative Art Journals." I highly recommend this book. The collage is actually not crooked. I just didn't scan it correctly.



Collage by Julie Fredericksen

A tribute to Autumn in Firenze (Florence)
(Click on the picture to enlarge for detail)
(The background is crinkled copper foil paper - which is why the word "Italian" looks funny on the scanner.) This is also an experiment in the color palette of brown, peachy orange and yellow, with blue for highlights.

Saturday, September 8, 2007


After my disappointment over not being able to go to Woman Song, I decided to go out and about in Bismarck today. All the shops are full of fall decorations, which put me in an autumnal mood. (And once I get over my grief every year at the flowers dying, I can embrace fall.)

Today I found myself an Autumn "Green Man", or whatever he would be called. I just really liked his expression. It's not a very good image, as I could not fit all of him on the scanner.

I also found a little someone who would be perfect to add to my next giftaway. I am approaching my 200th post, and when I do hit that number I will advertise a giftaway of autumn- and Halloween-themed items. I can't wait to show what else I found too, so I guess I will be writing a lot of posts in the next couple of weeks! P. S. I'm keeping this little fairy's sister (seated) for myself!


Rain, rain, go away
Why'd you ruin my special day?
I'm not going to Woman Song
It'll be raining there all day long.
Driving 300 miles in heavy showers
Is not a fun way to spend my hours.
Artists, vendors, I feel your pain,
And singers hate "singin' in the rain"!
I wanted to be a Woman Wild
Now I'm just a pouting child.
The radar screen is totally green
But I am blue - get what I mean?
It'll be cold too - only 60 degrees;
I'll need hot soup and an afghan, please.
You can tell that I'm depressed;
The dogs are all muddy - what a mess.
It's ruining Bismarck's Powwow too;
That's Mother Nature, what can you do?
It'll rain on the Natives' pretty parade
And the beautiful costumes that they made.
I guess it's time to end this drivel,
Before it makes your poor head swivel.
I think I'll just go back to bed
And pull the covers up over my head.

Friday, September 7, 2007



This little sea otter came to live at my house today, all the way from California. This photo really doesn't do him justice. The color of the waters swirling around him is actually a lovely shade of blue, his little tongue is shell pink and he has the most wonderful expression on his face! Yeah, he's a he, I just know it.

I thought I had better have a representation of my sea otter totem to join my dolphins figurine and my bluebird of happiness sitting on an acorn. The bluebird is a precious symbol to me and my sister, although we have never seen real bluebirds, because our Grandma had bluebird patterned china. Whenever we see some bluebird china in a shop, we draw a collective sigh of remembrance (and a little gasp at the prices). Each of us has just a tiny bit of bluebird china - for me, a teacup and saucer. I also gave my sis a little bluebird (pin) to sit on her collar.

As for the acorn, that is my remembrance of Daisy Lupin, who wrote about the mighty oak and about the protective powers of its acorns. One of these days I will try and take a photo of all of these creatures on my desk, but for now, in lieu of a digital camera, please enjoy my playful sea otter.

Thursday, September 6, 2007


North Dakota has a possible second albino buffalo (actually bison), an extremely rare occurrence. The white calf was first spotted with its mother, "White Cloud" over Labor Day weekend. White buffalo are sacred to the Lakota, or Sioux, Indians.

The following is the newspaper article on the calf, copied from the Grand Forks (ND) Herald:


White Cloud, the albino bison that has been a tourist attraction here for 11 years, has given birth to a calf that could be a rare albino as well.

Bob Mountain, the treasurer of the board of Jamestown's National Buffalo Museum, said White Cloud and her calf were spotted for the first time Saturday. The calf was believed to have been born late Friday night. Officials said they did not know whether it is a male or female.

"It has a pink nose and ears, so I think it's an albino," Mountain said. "But it will be awhile before we know for sure."

White Cloud is a DNA-tested albino bison. The calf was her fifth since she joined the Jamestown museum herd 11 years ago.

Officials say the odds of a white calf being born are extremely rare. Many bison born white eventually turn brown.

"The problem is, there's nothing to compare it to," Mountain said.

The odds of White Cloud giving birth to an albino bison are considerably better than normal, however, Mountain said, because she was bred back to her only bull calf, Dakota Thunder. The process called line breeding gave her a 50-50 chance she would have a white calf, he said.
"You line breed for certain traits," he said.

Daniel and Jean Shirek, of the northeastern North Dakota town of Michigan, own White Cloud and lease her to the buffalo museum. The Shireks also are joint owners of the new calf with the museum.

"It took us by surprise, and we think it's wonderful," Daniel Shirek said. He planned to come to Jamestown to see the calf and discuss DNA testing with museum board members.

"We'll do whatever they want to do," he said.

The white buffalo is sacred to most Plains Indian tribes and is often seen as a sign of great changes in the world. To some tribes it is a blessing. Others believe it is a sign of peace, prosperity, unity and hope.

The birth of a white calf is a boost for tourism in Jamestown, said Buffalo City Tourism Director Nina Sneider.

"White Cloud has been a tremendous draw for the last 11 years, and I'd guess we'll have even more visitors now," Sneider said. "We get visitors, even in the dead of winter, who want to see her."

Sneider said it doesn't matter whether the calf is an albino or was just born with a white hide; it's still a rarity. Part of the Lakota legend speaks of the white buffalo changing to a brown one as it walked, she said.

"So, it's in keeping with the legend and, spiritually, makes the calf precious to them," she said.

When I go to my Woman Song Retreat this weekend, I'll be turning south right at Jamestown (which is about 90 miles east of Bismarck). It would be fantastic if I could see White Cloud and her calf. That would really make my trip special.

In the post below I have reprinted the Legend of the White Buffalo Calf Woman.