I’m Picking My “Yes” Wisely

Thank you for your interest in BackroadTracks.com! I wish each of you well and hope you find ways to keep learning and engaging in life as you pick your “yesses.”

Purple flowers slightly dusted with snow with autumn forest floor in background.In a recent post, Seven Ways Not to be Too Busy with Life, one of the ideas is to pick your yeses wisely.

When you say “yes” to a project, it takes time, effort, energy, and resources to fulfill that commitment.

In effect, when you say “yes” to one project it may require you to say “no” to others. It is my turn to pick my “yes” wisely.

I have enjoyed the journey and the learning that goes with developing and writing a blog. However, it is time to devote these energies to other interests.

Thank you for your interest in BackroadTracks.com! I wish each of you well and hope you find ways to keep learning and engaging in life as you pick your “yesses.”

For the time being, one “yes” I’m keeping is the enjoyment of posting pictures to Instagram— #backroadtracks. Also, some of the Critter videos can be found on my You Tube channel – BackroadTracks.

Sincerely,

Cindy

Seven Ways Not to be Too Busy with Life

So, what can you do to avoid the disappointing feeling that you missed out because you were too busy with life? Which one of these seven ideas will you try today?

Rock People in white ring on the ground at base of bush. Rock People are rocks with painted on eyes.Seven Ways Not to be Too Busy with Life

Do you get so focused on the daily routine that you stop appreciating the little things in life?

I think this happens to all of us.

I recall a time when our family was camping at a Mountain Man Rendezvous in Montana. We were in the Flathead National Forest adjacent to Glacier National Park and surrounded by all kinds of natural beauty. We were in the midst of a high desert environment in the mountains recreating a fur trade rendezvous. There were all kinds of contests, activities, and the long walks to the portajohns to keep us busy along with daily life camping chores. The day before we were to leave our son realized he would not have the mountain view anymore. He was disappointed at missing out on it due to the busyness of rendezvous. Wow, the wisdom of children.

Purple flowers slightly dusted with snow with autumn forest floor in background.So, what can you do to avoid the disappointing feeling that you missed out because you were too busy with life?
Here are some ideas to consider:
  1. Learn to recognize when you are too busy. Plan your activities so you can enjoy them rather than jam pack your schedule. Jam packing and “having” to do it all can cause a lot stress.
  2. Purposefully think about the good stuff in your life. Each night before bed list 5 things you were thankful for that day. It might be stuff like sunshine, food you ate, the joy of someone you opened a door for, maybe you found a penny, or maybe you looked out your window toward a beautiful view. You get the idea.
  3. Schedule time to do something you really want to do but haven’t gotten around to. It could be starting that new book you bought a month ago, grabbing a cup of coffee with a friend, or just going for a walk.Purple flowers slightly dusted with snow with autumn forest floor and pine trees in the background.
  4. Train yourself to recognize the small niceties that keep life interesting. A friendly greeting from a clerk, an unexpected email from an old friend, or the smile you received when you complimented someone.
  5. Place mementos or photos in strategic spots in your home and work space to remind you of fond memories. When you see the memento, take a few seconds to think of and appreciate the memories you made.
  6. Pick your “yes’s” wisely. Realize you can’t do it all. Saying “yes” to one thing means saying “no” to something else.
  7. Take time to slow down and reenergize. A friend of mine likes to sit and “watch a tree grow.” What is your version of slowing down?

Which one of these seven ideas will you try today? Pick one now before you get too busy. Start appreciating the little joys in life!Snow piled high on tree stump with tree trunks, dried grasses, and other stumps in background on snow covered ground.

 

Remember and Pray for Families of Fallen LEO’s

As each of you prepare for Christmas . . . , please take some time and pray for the families and friends of these fallen officers. Thank you for remembering. Thank you for your prayers.

Beautifully decorated Christmas tree in McDonald's lobby. “Merry Christmas.”

These are words that 137 families will never hear again from a loved one due to a Line of Duty Death in the Law Enforcement Community during 2018.

There are also friends, co-workers, and acquaintances who are impacted by each officer’s absence.

So far there have been 137 Line Of Duty Deaths in our Law Enforcement community in 2018 through November. Thirty-seven states and Puerto Rico have been affected by these LEO deaths. Death is never easy, but Christmas time can be especially tender and tough for families and friends.

When we lived in Illinois, my husband worked many Christmases at the Police Department. That was the luck of the draw for an officer. As a supervisor he worked Christmas, often by choice. This allowed someone else to have the day off to be with their family. When this happened, I would take our son to the station and we would host a potluck for everyone that was assigned to work Christmas Day. These 137 officers won’t have the opportunity to either work or be with their families on Christmas Day.

As each of you prepare for Christmas and to celebrate with your families, please take some time and pray for the families and friends of these fallen officers. Please include the officers that are away from their families and working, the dispatchers that sit behind their consoles, firemen that are on duty, and EMS staff that are available to each of us. These folks spend their Christmas as well as other holidays away from their family as they serve their communities.

Large, outdoor Christmas tree in Corsicana, TX historic intersection.Look up the Officer Down Memorial Page for more detailed information. Two officers from Illinois and eleven officers from Texas are on the list. We are still waiting for the December numbers.

Thank you for remembering. Thank you for your prayers.

Another Cool, Curious, and/or Quirky Finds to Make You Smile

Be sure to keep up with BackroadTracks.com via the blog, FaceBook, and Instagram to get ideas for your adventures!

Interesting FindsMater in front of an Amy truck with a string attached to “ tow” the truck.for you to enjoy . . .

Leading these quirky finds is . . .

little ol’ Mater. He’s got his work cut out for him with this tow job!

Next up, lots of folks have a love of everything bacon. So, I just had to snap this picture to share with you.Dirty Texas pickup truck with the letters “BACON” on the tailgate above the license plate.

Speaking of love, LOTS of folks love Buc-ees, a Texas travel convenience stop on steroids. If you’ve never been, put it on your list. Their billboards are pretty entertaining and I try to capture them to share with you. Here you go . . .

Buc-ee’s billboard, “Oh fudge, almost there.” The Buc-ee’s beaver is on the sign too.

 

 

 

 

Buc-ee’s billboard, “#bathroomgoals.” The Buc-ee’s beaver is on the sign too.

 

 

 

 

Buc-ee’s billboard, “#1 #1 Stop in Texas.” The Buc-ee’s beaver is on the sign too.

 

 

 

This unique picture was on the ladies room wall of Ray’s Drive In Cafe in Lufkin, TX. I’ll be sharing an eatery review soon for Ray’s. This picture offers a unique scene with the black and white photo contrasting against the yellow picture border and black and white tile.Black and white photo of folks dressed up watching a movie with the cardboard dark lense glasses. The photo has a wide, yellow mat around it.

What’s wrong with this ad? Ad on cooler door at Quick Trip offering a free donut when you buy Nesquik Protein Drink.

Thank you very much for the diet help! Love a free donut but not if I’m going for protein and lower carb.

That’s it for this edition of Cool, Curious, and/or Quirky Finds. Enjoy this Christmas Season and may you and yours enjoy lots of love and laughter!Blue and pink sky with Buc-ee’s billboard, “#1 #1 Stop in Texas.” The Buc-ee’s beaver is on the sign too.

P.S. Check out these two links for more Curiosities, Cool Finds, and Quirky Stuff and Cool, Curious and/or Quirky Finds

Honoring the Humble Mason Jar — Nov. 30th National Mason Jar Day

These glass jars can be bought new or older jars hunted as collectibles. Whether you enjoy a mason jar gifted to you . . . , can your own, or . . . as a collectible, these jars are still a useful home item in our modern world!

Venison and pickles canned in glass mason jars.November 30th – National Mason Jar Day!

 

Mason jars can conjure nostalgic memories for a lot of folks.

This staple item in folks’ homes was used to preserve food for use throughout the year. Families were able to survive, stretch their food budget, and enjoy wholesome foods when they “put up” their stores of extra food they were unable to eat right away.

Sweet jellies and jams, tart and crunchy dill pickles, and thick tomato juice might be taste treats some folks remember. Also, there is the very welcome “ping” sound each jar lid needed to make as it made a “good” seal after being removed from the heat processing and the cooling down began.

Three mason jars. Two pints and a quart size. All 3 have dry food ingredients in them. The first is a square jar. The other 2 are round.These glass jars can be bought new or older jars hunted as collectibles. Some antique jars in rare colors or with misprints are highly sought after. Common brands were Ball and Kerr, and common glass colors were clear and aqua. Other less common colors are rare finds and more valuable. Should you want to learn more, information is available online.

In addition to canning food via a pressure cooker or hot water bath, mason jars can be used for jams or jellies with a canning wax seal. Dry goods, candies, potpourri, and other small items can be stored in these handy jars. Small mouth and large mouth mason jars side by side with butter knife on top for scale. Cheerios and chocolate chips in each of 2 jars.Choose your size “mouth”  or jar opening in regular or large mouth. Sizes for mason jars are: 2 quart, 1 quart, pint, half pint, and quarter pint.

If you want to carry out a mason jar decorator theme, you can find handled mason jar style cups, mini salt & pepper shaker mason jars, or footed goblet jars. You can also just incorporate dry bulk food storage in mason jars for your kitchen décor. We have used the 2 Quart size for dried bulk foods for years.Three Two quart size mason jars with chocolate chips, beans, and cheerios in them respectively.

Whether you enjoy a mason jar gifted to you with an edible treat, can your own, or buy the jars as a collectible, these jars are still a useful home item in our modern world! Here’s celebrating the Mason Jar!

12 Ways Dogs and Toddlers are Alike

Loving dogs as well as toddlers requires a commitment to . . . train them to be the best beings they are capable of becoming. Enjoy reading and relating to 12 ways dogs and toddlers are alike.

Landseer laying down and leaning toward baby’s arm holding a toy.Dogs and Toddlers are alike in many ways.

Enjoy reading and relating to 12 ways dogs and toddlers are alike.

1. They require food, water, and treats.

2. They recognize certain words that are important to them which forces you to spell said words so they don’t know what is about to happen.
Landseer shaking off water on Lake Superior beach.

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. They can be extremely entertaining with their antics, habits, and tricks.

Landseer with human reading glasses on face with head resting on floor.

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. They typically want what you are eating and will pester you until you share.

5. They follow you around the house—even into the bathroom.

6. They require your attention for restroom breaks.

7. They do not always listen and obey.

Landseer standing on frozen snow dusted lake looking out over lake.8. They have spurts of seemingly endless energy.

9. They will come to “help” when you are working on a project.

10. They will wake you up — early!

11. They will walk through instead of around a puddle.Landseer in pond and cattails at edge of pond.

 

 

 

 

 

 

12. They believe you exist to spend time with them and act accordingly.

Loving dogs as well as toddlers requires a commitment to meet their needs and to train them to be the best beings they are capable of becoming. Landseer sticking his nose out open truck window to sniff owner’s face.All the time, effort, energy, and love you pour into a dog or toddler is worth the investment!

Lake Superior’s Autumn Beauty is Breathtaking!

The rhythmic crashing of rolling and curling waves is mesmerizing to watch. Winds impacting Lake Superior create beautiful white caps and waves. Lake Superior’s Autumn Beauty is Breathtaking!

Lake Superior’s Autumn Beauty is Breathtaking!

 

Lake Superior’s Autumn beauty is breathtaking with its spectrum of moody changes between calm and violent.

Hollow Rock in Grand Portage, MN pictured above is a sight to enjoy no matter the mood of the lake. The whipping winds and waves are a joy to watch.

The rhythmic crashing of rolling and curling waves is mesmerizing to watch and offers a song unique to the day you are at the beach. Watching wave after rolling wave and seeing how far up the beach the water reaches offers endless entertainment.

Catching Autumn’s Fall colors along with Lake Superior’s beauty is a double treat.Rolling Lake Superior waves getting ready to hit the beach with Autumn trees in the far background.

 

 

 

Rolling Lake Superior waves getting ready to fall with Autumn trees in the far background.

 

Winds impacting Lake Superior create beautiful white caps and waves. You have to respect the power that wind and water generate!Rolling Lake Superior waves in foreground with white capped waves in background.

 

You have many lakes and streams feeding into Lake Superior that can also be appreciated. The Flute Reed River was especially pretty with its flowing brown water and complimentary Autumn foliage lining the riverbanks.

Flute Reed River flowing into Lake Superior with Autumn foliage on both sides of riverbank. Lake Superior waves are in the background.

Notice the Lake Superior white capped waves rolling inland as the river runs outward.

Enjoying Lake Superior and the North Shore of Minnesota is very easy no matter the season. Autumn offers its unique colors, winds, and occasional snow flurry. Note the northern Minnesota beach attire I’m sporting in the picture below. Also, don’t forget your tools for agate hunting as you are enjoying the sights and sounds of a LakeSuperior beach.Author dressed in jeans, camo jacket, orange cap, layers of clothing, and work gloves, carrying a bucket in one hand and a long handled agate tool in the other hand. She is on a Lake Superior cobblestone beach.

What is your favorite season and way to enjoy Lake Superior?

Black and white picture of Autumn foliage in foreground and rolling Lake Superior waves in background with the beach in between.

 

 

 

 

 

Nature’s Northern Fall Frolic

Take a few moments to enjoy Autumn’s Fall Frolic in the woods before Winter wraps the forest in a white blanket. It is fun to find some spots of color against the greenery of the forest and fallen leaves.

Looking upstream of the Flute Reed River with water rushing and Fall colors on the trees on each side of the river.Nature’s Northern Fall Frolic

Nature’s Northern Fall Frolic is providing us a new palette of colors with the changing of the season.

Summer is long gone as evidenced by the fading vibrant summer colors giving way to Autumn’s own rich hues. It is fun to find some spots of color against the greenery of the forest and fallen leaves.Fading purple flowers with evergreens, brush, and fallen leaves in background.

Winter can’t resist teasing with a few snow flurries so be sure to enjoy the Fall colors.Close up view of snow dusted flowers in Autumn forest.

 

 

 

 

Side angled upward view of snow dusted flowers in Autumn forest.Appreciating each season means looking for the various shades of color. The yellows, oranges, greens, and browns of Fall each offer a continuum of color for us to enjoy.

Deer print in rocky mud with a pen beside it for scale.

Appreciating Autumn in the woods might have you looking for animal tracks in addition to other interesting growths around fallen or decaying trees.

Fallen log in Autumn woods with interesting lichen and moss growing on top.

 

Tree stump in Autumn forest with snow covered fungi at the trunk base and dying grass in the foreground.

 

 

 

 

 

Upright dead tree in background with evergreen and other forest trees and white topped plants in foreground.Long dead trees still standing in the forest are interesting to see and they still serve a purpose. Sometimes you can catch a woodpecker or birds enjoying the remaining branches. These silent sentinels of the forest offer a unique beauty in their neutral colors.

Take a few moments to enjoy Autumn’s Fall Frolic in the woods before Winter wraps the forest in a white blanket. And no matter the season, it is always fun to be surprised by a rainbow.Autumn rainbow captured near twilight with evergreens in the foreground with a dead tree and sun topped hills in the background.

Where do you enjoy Autumn the most? Feel free to share in the comments section. These pictures were taken in Cook County, Minnesota. Here’s to enjoying Autumn and all of its color no matter where you are!Colorful hillside view of Autumn trees in the background with a curving road in the foreground.

 

Collect Rocks Day

Rocks can be a decorative item both inside and out. Rocks can represent memories made with loved ones and bring to mind special times.

Lake Superior pebbled shoreline.Did you know there is a “Collect Rocks” Day?

September 16 honors collecting rocks. Rocks, stones or pebbles can be relatively easy to collect if you chose small ones. You’ll have a bit more of a challenge as you select larger ones.

Agave plant in large flower pot with a pinwheel and two rocks.Remember when Pet Rocks were popular? There is just something about rocks. They come in all sizes, shapes, colors, and textures. You can sometimes find heart shaped rocks or even state shaped ones. Your imagination can run a bit here.

Rocks can be a decorative item both inside and out. Rocks displayed in pretty candy dish on window ledge.Displaying your vacation souvenir rocks in a pretty jar or candy dish can brighten a spot in your home. Rocks are a great flower bed border or a garden accent piece. Rock lined garden bed.Whimsical painted rocks, a mobile of rocks, or stacked rocks can be strategically placed to please the eye. Enjoy your favorite rock as a paper weight.

Rocks can be made into a variety of “pretties” whether as a pendant, stone beads in a bracelet, or as earrings. Donut shaped stones can easily be turned into pendants with a bit of cord and a clasp.

Rock strewn creek with evergreen trees in background.Who doesn’t like to throw rocks into a lake or river? Skipping rocks can be a fun pastime or competition. Children enjoy playing in pebbles where they can build mounds, valleys, and run their toys around their creations. View of Lake Superior with a bit of beach in foreground and a lone evergreen on the rock left side.Watching water flow over rocks can be beautiful and mesmerizing.

Rocks can represent memories made with loved ones and bring to mind special times. Father Baraga monument with rocks placed as a memorial.Stones are used as both formal and informal memorials. They provide both function and beauty.

Garden Guard Gnome by large rock in mulched bed.So, to celebrate Collect Rocks Day, do something with those special rocks you collected that are sitting in a coffee can or bucket. And remember — “You Rock!”“You Rock” spelled out in rocks on sand and pebble Lake Superior beach.

P.S. Be respectful of rules at your local, state and national parks.Rock border of mulched garden bed.

Ways You Can Enjoy History

. . . learning a skill puts a new perspective on history and you might find the key to enjoying history too.

Great Hall porch looking through the doors of the Great Hall toward the Kitchen doorIn a previous post, I shared how historical reenactments can be enjoyed by the whole family.

Would it surprise you to know that I hated learning about history growing up? It definitely would surprise my reenactor friends to know that at an earlier time in my life I couldn’t understand why people would dress up in those “funny clothes” and sweat all day while pretending to live in an earlier time period. Well, I actually ended up doing just that and loved it!

As I look back over my family’s reenacting years, I realize that we usually learned 1-2 new skills a year. Learning a new historical skill is something anyone can do whether or not you think you’ll ever reenact history. Also, learning a skill puts a new perspective on history and you might find the key to enjoying history too.Equipment used for power generation

Here are some ideas or areas you could choose to explore if you want to learn a new skill or try to enjoy a part of history.

Calligraphy
Paper making
Basics of traditional book binding
Embroidery
Knitting
Wood carving
Splitting wood
Fire starting
Campfire cooking
Bread making from scratch
Sourdough bread making
Making butter
Wine making
Fashions of specific historical periods
Artworks of specific historical periods
Beadwork
Basket making
Pine needle basket making
Knot tying
Courting/Marrying/Burying customs
Child rearing practices
Herbs and their historical uses (Thieves essential oil blend)
Candle making (beeswax, tallow)
Pottery
Leather goods
Folklore remedies and medicinals
Accoutrements of defense and war
Toys

From the above list, you might get the idea we are preppers or survivalists, but we just have a love of history.

Autobiographies can be an intriguing way to learn about history as well as a specific person. Historical terms can be fun. Do you know the origin of SHIT? The phrase, “It’s cold enough to freeze the balls off a brass monkey” can be an interesting conversation starter. Do you know what it means?

Brick arched, recessed window well inside museumThere are so many fun, interesting things to learn about related to our history. I encourage you to get a book or video from your library on a topic of interest. You could also “Google” or use YouTube to learn about your area of interest. I’d love to hear what historical interests you have. Feel free to share in the comments section.

“Herd Thinning” Venture

What do you do with your surplus of stuff as you . . . downsize your possessions?

Display of antiques and other merchandise on a table with a four shelf fixture on it.With our 35 years of marriage, my husband and I have accumulated lots of stuff, trinkets, treasures, antiques, interesting items, and a little bit of junque.

Note, junque is classier than junk.

Not to mention the extra goodies we acquired after 3 of 4 parents have passed. We both love books, pottery, historic memorabilia, and the unusual. What do you do with your surplus of stuff as you “thin your herd” and downsize your possessions?

You could open your own store, have lots of garage sales, donate, and/or do nothing and let your family deal with it when you are gone. My parents chose the last option and I really don’t want to do that to our son, but my husband does.

My solution—set up a booth in an antique store! In our property search to relocate to Texas, we enjoyed the small town of Navasota in Grimes County. Navasota has a quaint downtown and lots of small shops. One shop we enjoyed was the Navasota Emporium and it came to mind as a good fit for our new venture.

And we’re off and running with our herd thinning. Stayed tuned for further updates.

Coming soon — a blog page for Fort Couch Quartermaster LLC.

Historical Reenactments are Fun for the Whole Family

You’ll miss out if you don’t talk to the reenactors. Ask questions or strike up a conversation. Inquire about what’s for supper. The majority of reenactors will gladly converse with you.

Front of the Great Hall at Grand Portage National Monument with Mt. Rose in the background.Are you looking for a fun event or activity your whole family can enjoy?

And do you really, really want your children to hopefully learn something in the process? Give a historical re-enactment a try!

If you walked into a Midwest Rendezvous encampment, you would see a lot of white canvas tents in a variety of shapes and sizes as well as some tipis with lodge poles extending toward the sky. People of all ages would be dressed in long sleeves unless their morals aren’t up with societal expectations. Meat roasting over an open campfire, children hauling wood and water to their camp as well as running and playing would be other sights. Women might be putting together a pie for supper or sitting and sewing while they visit with one another. Vendors would be selling a variety of trade goods, sewing notions, beads, hats, clothing and toys. Items from the “period.” You may also see a variety of friendly competitions of knife throwing, shooting, and tomahawk throwing.Reenactor making pies in the kitchen.

All across America, all sorts of history is being relived by historical reenactors. Revolutionary War, French & Indian War, Civil War, Fur Trade Era, Renaissance, Mountain Man and Rendezvous. There are many more historical venues than those mentioned here. Check your local county historical society and historical parks for possible opportunities. Also, look at a state’s tourism guide for events.

White canvas tents in green field with evergreens and blue sky in background.You can attend an event and soak it all in as you walk through and check out displays and watch scheduled performances. However, you’ll miss out if you don’t talk to the reenactors. Ask questions or strike up a conversation about politics of the era. Inquire about what’s for supper or what is cooking over the campfire. Observe how their daily life is different from yours and ask polite questions. It is important to use your manners when conversing and also to respect their property and accoutrements. Do not enter tents uninvited or touch items  without permission. The majority of reenactors will gladly converse with you, and share about their belongings and daily life.Campfire with fish being smoked over it, birch bark lodge, and birch bark basket.

Beware—attending a historical event can be contagious! You just might get the “wild hair” to start reenacting. There are so many facets to reenacting. Clothing, shoes, toys, foods, cooking methods, music, dance, crafts, tentage, military uniforms, language, religion, eating utensils, and phrases just to name a few. With all these facets there is bound to be something everyone in the family can enjoy. Oh, this is in addition to the period foods that are great to try. There are usually vendors selling interesting foods of the time period.Wild ricing display

Find an event, go and enjoy, and then plan to springboard more learning from something you or your children really liked. Intrigued by the Dutch oven or campfire cooking? Want to know more about a specific general and their battle strategy? Wonder what life as an endentured servant was like? Hit your library or the internet and learn more. Oh, and don’t forget to mark your calendar for next year’s event! Your gonna wanna be there.

P.S. Check out the post about Rendezvous Days in Grand Portage, MN the second full weekend in August. This is a fabulous event!