Images By ME! A Peak at 11 more photographs.

Two Clear Bottles Containing Over The Counter Pills

A Bee Enjoying a Beautiful Yellow Bloom

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A Lonely White Bird Feather In the Grass

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Closeup of Windows in an Old German Building

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A Classical Guitar Closeup

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Two Curling Stones on the Icy Lake

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A Close Up of Red Berries on a Tree

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A Happy Snowman Enjoying a Winter Day

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A Pair of Acorns on a Tree Branch

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Sunset on a Northern Minnesota Lake in July

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A Beautiful Sunrise on the Lake

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About Me: Life is precious, capture its beauty. I am lucky to have a loving family, and wonderful friends. Like everyone, I have good days and bad days, happy days and sad days, patient days and crabby days, beautiful days and ugly days, etc. I try to “hold the bright side up” as much as I can because it makes me feel better, and I think it helps others feel better too. I am so far from perfect, but I try to be kind and respectful. I truly believe that life is precious and that there are so many extraordinary ordinary people and moments in life. I want to share and celebrate the “extraordinary ordinary” through my writing and photography. Please check out my photos at Fine Art America Photography https://fineartamerica.com/profiles/35-laura-smith; at Adobe Stock at https://stock.adobe.com/contributor/207669601/Laura%20Jean%20Smith or at Shutterstock https://www.shutterstock.com/g/LauraJSmith. Perhaps you will find something you would like to have as your own?

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Sing "Joy to the World" In July?

My Father-In-Law on a camel during one of his trips to the Middle East. He had spirit, curiosity, respect and love for God, life and the beings he met along the way.

I imagine that most reading this are very familiar with the hymn “Joy to the World”, written by Issac Watts in 1719. “Joy to the world, the Lord has come! Let earth receive her King; let every heart prepare him room and heaven and nature sing, and heaven and nature sing, and heaven and heaven and nature sing. …” Most of my life this song was simply a beautiful Christmas carol to me. Then, I met Reverand Lyle Christianson (my father-in-law) and those assumptions were first shaken, and ultimately shattered.

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The first time Reverand Christianson suggested that we as a family sing “Joy to World” in July as our grace before a meal I thought it to be very strange, … quirky. You know, one of those things you find out about your in-laws that you think is odd, but harmless. I had never sung this hymn in July, but we did! As time went on I realized that along with other occassional songs he would want us to sing before meals (e.g., such as”Johnny Appleseed”), “Joy to the World” was sung in July, October, March, …. all year long.

After doing a little reflecting and research I learned that my assumptions about the intention of this beautiful tune were so, so wrong. It turns out that Issac Watts never intended for this song to be just a Christmas carol. The lyrics of this hymn make no mention of the story of Jesus’ birth. Watts wrote this song after reflecting on Psalm 98: 4-9. “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all the earth: make a loud noise, and rejoice, and sing praise …
With trumpets and sound of cornet make a joyful noise before the Lord, the King. Let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. Let the floods clap their hands: let the hills be joyful together
Before the Lord; for he cometh to judge the earth: with righteousness shall he judge the world, and the people with equity.

Watts gave this hymn the heading “The Messiah’s Coming and Kingdom”. This hymn is really about Christs’ second coming, rather than his first coming at birth. This song celebrates the joy of Christ coming again. It calls for every heart to prepare room for him and celebrate. So, I should never have doubted the wisdom of my loving, gentle, kind and extremely intelligent father-in-law, Lyle. I am thankful for all the gifts he gave to me and our family, including introducing us to the perfect song of praise and thanksgiving that is perfect to sing any day of the year, not just at Christmas.

About Me: Life is precious, capture its beauty. I am lucky to have a loving family, and wonderful friends. Like everyone, I have good days and bad days, happy days and sad days, patient days and crabby days, beautiful days and ugly days, etc. I try to “hold the bright side up” as much as I can because it makes me feel better, and I think it helps others feel better too. I am so far from perfect, but I try to be kind and respectful. I truly believe that life is precious and that there are so many extraordinary ordinary people and moments in life. I want to share and celebrate the “extraordinary ordinary” through my writing and photography. Please check out my photos at Fine Art America Photography https://fineartamerica.com/profiles/35-laura-smith; at Adobe Stock at https://stock.adobe.com/contributor/207669601/Laura%20Jean%20Smith or at Shutterstock https://www.shutterstock.com/g/LauraJSmith. Perhaps you will find something you would like to have as your own?

More…More Photos By …ME!

Breisach, Germany – June 2019

Hopefully you will enjoy taking a peak at more of the photos I have taken. I love capturing life with my camera and sharing my photos. I especially like it when people feel they were there with me after viewing my images.

Ship On Lake Superior

A cool morning on the shores of Lake Superior in Two Harbors, Minnesota. A silhouette of a small ship in the background

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Cacti Arizona Style

Picture of cacti as part of landscaping in an Arizona yard

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South Rim Of The Grand Canyon

A view of the Grand Canyon on its South Rim. This photograph was taken in March 2018

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Naples Walking Path

A walking path in a Naples, Florida, USA State Park

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Sunset On A New England Harbor

A golden summer sunset on the harbor

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Red Rock Of Sedona

A picture taken in the town of Sedona, Arizona in March 2018

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The Thames And Shard At Night

The River Thames in London, England with the Shard in view

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Little New England Castle

A tiny historic castle in New England

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Sky Through Arch At Mission San Juan Capistrano

The bright blue sky through the arches at Mission San Juan Capistrano, California

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Minnehaha Creek

Minnehaha Creek in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

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bout Me: Life is precious, capture its beauty. I am lucky to have a loving family, and wonderful friends. Like everyone, I have good days and bad days, happy days and sad days, patient days and crabby days, beautiful days and ugly days, etc. I try to “hold the bright side up” as much as I can because it makes me feel better, and I think it helps others feel better too. I am so far from perfect, but I try to be kind and respectful. I truly believe that life is precious and that there are so many extraordinary ordinary people and moments in life. I want to share and celebrate the “extraordinary ordinary” through my writing and photography. Please check out my photos at Fine Art America Photography https://fineartamerica.com/profiles/35-laura-smith; at Adobe Stock at https://stock.adobe.com/contributor/207669601/Laura%20Jean%20Smith or at Shutterstock https://www.shutterstock.com/g/LauraJSmith. Perhaps you will find something you would like to have as your own?Posted in: #lifeispreciousalcoholarizonaArtBalancebankBaselBig BendenverDrinkEnglandequipmenteuropeFishfrescoeGreat LakesKingLondonMinnesotaMojitonatureNortholdoutdoorsPhotographyPlatePlayplaygroundrainyrainydayRocksroute 66rusticsavingsseatsolidstandardstandard oilState ParkstonesSwitzerlandTeeter TotterToiletstonguevintagewhimsyZoo

5 Movies With Lots of Heart – "Life Is Precious"

A Beautiful Quilt Displayed at the 2015 Minnesota State Fair

We each have our opinions and preferences for food, drink, fashion, colors, seasons, sports, books, movies, etc.. It is so true “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” – Margaret Wolfe Hunger (in her book ‘Molly Bawn’ – 1878). I recommend you take time to watch or rewatch 5 older uplifting movies that are full of heart. These types of movies remind me that “Life Is Precious”.

My all time favorite is a 1995 film based on Whitney Otto’s novel How to Make an American Quilt. The film, by the same name as the book, is directed by Jocelyn Moorhouse and stars Winona Ryder, Maya Angelou, Anne Bancroft, Ellen Burstyn, Kate Nelligan and Alfre Woodard. It is about a young woman, Finn, played by Winona Ryder, who decides to visit her grandmother for the summer under the guise of focusing on writing her graduate school thesis, but really she is taking a break from her Fiance’ and thinking about what she really wants for her life. Finn’s grandmother and her friends are busy making a beautiful quilt together and while they create they talk and share their life stories. Their stories and the women who tell them are inspiring. At the end of the summer, Finn takes her summer experiences, which include the stories shared by her grandmother and her friends, and forms clarity on what she wants for her life. A story about strong women, who have much wisdom and love. They clearly reinforce in their stories that part of life is what happens to you and most of life is what you do with what happens to you.

Another wonderful movie is a 3D, animated, comedy, drama released in 2009 by Pixar, UP!. This movie was directed by Pete Docter and Bob Peterson, written by Bob Peterson and Tom McCarthy and the music was composed by Michael Giacchino. The story revolves around a widower names Carl (voice acted by Ed Asner) and a boy named Russell (voice acted by Jordan Nagai). Carl ties balloons to his house and sets out to fulfill a dream of seeing South America, a promise he made to his late wife, Ellie. It is an exciting, beautiful, funny and touching film. A reminder that companionship, love, dreams, hope, adventure, purpose…. are uplifiting.

Most of my gal friends will agree that a 1987 romantic, drama, dance film, written by Eleanor Bergstein, produced by Linda Gottlieb and directed by Emilie Ardolino by the title of Dirty Dancing is a super fun movie. The movie stars Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze. It is a fun summer romance story that is filled with many life lessons. And, ends with an uplifting dance number “The Time of My Life”(1987 song composed by Frank Previte, John Previte, John DeNicola and Donald Markowitz, recorded by Bill Medley and Jennifer Warnes). I love the music, defiance, energy, and joy. I think most of us have had that person or experience where we could sing this song, especially the refrain: “‘Cause I’ve had the time of my life
And I owe it all to you”. A fun, feel good movie!

https://youtu.be/zmV6YNqN43o

The title doesn’t sound like an uplifting movie, but it is. I love the 2012 movie The Guilt Trip. It is a comedy directed by Anne Fletcher and written by Dan Fogelman. Barbara Streisand and Seth Rogan star in the movie. It is a story about relationships. The relationship of a mother and son, the relationship with a past love, the relationship with a current love and the relationship with your dreams. Andy, played by Seth Rogan, invites his mother, Joyce, played by Barbara Streisand, on a road trip across the U.S. to pitch his invention. They have many adventures along the way, most of them funny. In the end, their relationship is stronger and they both have “extra wind in their sails”. A very entetaining and uplifiting film.

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is a 2011 British comedy/drama film directed by John Madden and written by Ol Parker. The cast of this film includes Judi Dench, Celia Imrie, Bill Nighy, Ronald Pickup, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson and Penelope Wilton. The story revolves around a group of retirees that move, for a variety of reasons, to India to live in a retirement hotel. It is refreshing to see a movie that reminds us that regardless of our age we all have the same emotions in our hearts. Our world too often discounts individuals as they age, and this movie celebrates the fact that although we age on the outside, our hearts are forever young. It is a very charming, funny and heartwarming movie.

I hope you make time to watch a movie that uplifts your spirit and puts wind in your sails.. Maybe it will be one of the movies I have hightlighted here: How to Make and American Quilt; UP!; Dirty Dancing; The Guilt Trip or The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel? What are your favorite uplifting flicks?

About Me: Life is precious, capture its beauty. I am lucky to have a loving family, and wonderful friends. Like everyone, I have good days and bad days, happy days and sad days, patient days and crabby days, beautiful days and ugly days, etc. I try to “hold the bright side up” as much as I can because it makes me feel better, and I think it helps others feel better too. I am so far from perfect, but I try to be kind and respectful. I truly believe that life is precious and that there are so many extraordinary ordinary people and moments in life. I want to share and celebrate the “extraordinary ordinary” through my writing and photography. Please check out my photos at Fine Art America Photography https://fineartamerica.com/profiles/35-laura-smith; at Adobe Stock at https://stock.adobe.com/contributor/207669601/Laura%20Jean%20Smith or at Shutterstock https://www.shutterstock.com/g/LauraJSmith. Perhaps you will find something you would like to have as your own?

"Life is Precious!" 11 MORE Photos by Me!

Blue Fish at the Denver Zoo

I love photography. I have been a “photo nut” from the time I was a teenager. I love photography most when I can share my images with others. Here are ten of the images I have available on Fine Art America (the 11th is just my introduction photo and is not currently available on Fine Art America). If you don’t find something you love within my current offerings you are sure to find something from another artist.

The King Sticking His Tongue Out Across the River At Little Basel, Basel, Switzerland
https://fineartamerica.com/featured/tongue-kind-of-basel-switzerland-laura-smith.html
An Old Standard Gas Station Sign, Duluth, Minnesota
https://fineartamerica.com/featured/old-standard-laura-smith.html
A Balanced Life, Along The Shores of Lake Superior, Split Rock State Park, Minnesota
https://fineartamerica.com/featured/balanced-life-laura-smith.html

About Me: Life is precious, capture its beauty. I am lucky to have a loving family, and wonderful friends. Like everyone, I have good days and bad days, happy days and sad days, patient days and crabby days, beautiful days and ugly days, etc. I try to “hold the bright side up” as much as I can because it makes me feel better, and I think it helps others feel better too. I am so far from perfect, but I try to be kind and respectful. I truly believe that life is precious and that there are so many extraordinary ordinary people and moments in life. I want to share and celebrate the “extraordinary ordinary” through my writing and photography. Please check out my photos at Fine Art America Photography https://fineartamerica.com/profiles/35-laura-smith; at Adobe Stock at https://stock.adobe.com/contributor/207669601/Laura%20Jean%20Smith or at Shutterstock https://www.shutterstock.com/g/LauraJSmith. Perhaps you will find something you would like to have as your own?

"How Old Is Dirt?" And Other Facinating Things

Take a moment to observe a young child and see how they live in the moment, how they have little concern for allowing others personal space, how they joyously skip from one point to another and how their great curiosity drives how they go about their day. As we grow toward adulthood it is expected that we leave those childish ways behind, and for most of us, one day these delightful childhood characteristics dwindle away and are replaced with worry, distancing ourselves from others, simply walking from place to place (even if we feel like skipping) and concern about asking a dumb question or looking silly. As such, there are many “adulting” days that don’t seem that magical or amazing because we forget to “stop and smell the roses” or take a chance. Perhaps we should take a lesson from our children?

One of the great things about being around children is they invite us adults to enter their world, and those moments often bring us a smile or giggle that pulls us into the moment with them. For example, take the simple game of “Peek-a-boo”. Who hasn’t played this game with a child and not felt the joy they experience when one’s eyes are covered and they are surprised with the “boo” that comes with uncovering the eyes? Isn’t it amazing that even when you don’t see something it can still be there? I can think of so many times when a child has reminded me through a simple action or innocent question that life is precious, and that is extraordinary in the ordinary.

How about waving at a stranger and having them smile and wave back? In the United States little children enjoy that delightful cause and effect of letting someone know you see them and getting a positive response. And, us adults in the United States enjoy it too. Perhaps we should try that more often….a wave, a smile, a hello? Note: In the United States a wave hello or good-bye is a positive gesture. I found the piece called “Kisses Handshakes and Fist Bumps, How to Say Hello in 40 Countries” by Hristina Byrnes very interesting. https://247wallst.com/special-report/2018/11/20/kisses-handshakes-and-fist-bumps-how-to-say-hello-in-40-countries/

One of the first words my kids got excited about saying was “ball“. What an extraordinary ordinary object that we forget is so amazing and fun! Balls are fun to hold, throw and bounce. Did you know that the word “ball” comes from the Latin word “ballare”(1) which means “to dance”? No wonder children are so delighted when they discover balls! Our society’s love of ball games shows that we don’t completely lose this love as we grow older, but that love of a “ball” transforms to competition and friendly rivalries: Soccer, basketball, baseball, rugby, tennis, bocce ball, bowling, Pétanque, football, volleyball, golf, netball, cricket, dodgeball, bandy, handball, billiards ……. the list goes on.

Did you know that stencils are amazing, magical things? I forgot about that until my young daughter came home from school one day and told me of her experience using stencils in Kindergarten class. You would have thought that she discovered a new continent or world, and I guess she had. The dictionary states that stencils are: “a device for applying a pattern, design, words, etc., to a surface, consisting of a thin sheet of cardboard, metal, or other material from which figures or letters have been cut out, a coloring substance, ink, etc., being rubbed, brushed, or pressed over the sheet, passing through the perforations and onto a surface.” As you know, stencils are not new, they originated thousands of years ago when pre-historic man held their hand up against a wall and blew pigment on it. (2) But, it took my 5 year old daughter to remind me that they are AMAZING!

How about your forehead? As you know, your forehead is the top part of your face, just above your eyebrows and below your hairline. One day my your daughter asked me “Mom, if this is my “four” head [forehead] where is my “fivehead”? That question made me giggle. Isn’t that a great question? At the time, I told her that we do not have a “fivehead”, but I have since learned that I was wrong. According to the Urban Dictionary some people do have a “fivehead”: “A forehead so incredibaly large it can be classified by the next number up.” (3)

My son, at the age of two could not contain his excitement when he saw a bulldozer or other heavy duty construction vehicle. He would point and yell “MOVE DIRT, MOVE DIRT!” Anyone close to him could not help but notice these amazing, magical vehicles who do so much for our world. Why are they called “Bulldozers”? According to “Bulldozers” written by Sam Sargent and Michael Alves: “Around 1880, the common usage of ‘bull-dose’ in the United States meant administering a large and efficient dose of any sort of medicine or punishment. If you ‘bull-dosed’ someone, you gave him a severe whipping or coerced or intimidated him in some other way, such as by holding a gun to his head. In 1886, with a slight variation in spelling, a ‘bulldozer’ had come to mean both a large-caliber pistol and the person who wielded it. By the late 1800s, ‘bulldozing’ came to mean using brawny force to push over, or through, any obstacle.” (4)

Finally, I want to share why I titled this piece “How Old Is Dirt? And Other Fascinating Things”. One day my daughter came home from elementary school and she had a burning question for me. She said, “Mom, how old is dirt?”. I asked her why she wanted to know and she said, “Because my teacher said he is as old as dirt and I want to know how old he is.” Of course, that made me smile and I had to explain that it is an idiom that means something is very old, but it does not say exactly how old something is. She did not think that made any sense at all and went away very unsatisfied with my answer. But, this question did encourage me to investiate the real age of dirt. According to Milan Pavich, a research geologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, dirt is over 3.9 billion years old, (5) which would likely be a bit older than my daughter’s teacher.

I hope you have been and continue to be reminded of the fascinating, extraordinary ordinary things in life. Those reminders often give us the “spark” needed to reignite the joy we all want to have in our hearts. I would love to hear your stories of being reminded of the fascinating, extraorinary ordinary things in life.

About Me: Life is precious, capture its beauty. I am lucky to have a loving family, and wonderful friends. Like everyone, I have good days and bad days, happy days and sad days, patient days and crabby days, beautiful days and ugly days, etc. I try to “hold the bright side up” as much as I can because it makes me feel better, and I think it helps others feel better too. I am so far from perfect, but I try to be kind and respectful. I truly believe that life is precious and that there are so many extraordinary ordinary people and moments in life. I want to share and celebrate the “extraordinary ordinary” through my writing and photography. Please check out my photos at WordPress http://lifeisprecious358866402.wordpress.com , Fine Art America Photography https://fineartamerica.com/profiles/35-laura-smith; at Adobe Stock at https://stock.adobe.com/contributor/207669601/Laura%20Jean%20Smith or at Shutterstock https://www.shutterstock.com/g/LauraJSmith. Perhaps you will find something you would like to have as your own?

Sources:

(1) https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ball

(2) https://mymodernmet.com/stencil-art/

(3) https://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=fivehead

(4) https://www.amazon.com/Bulldozers-Enthusiast-Color-Sam-Sargent/dp/0879388870

(5) https://www.popsci.com/science/article/2009-12/just-how-old-dirt/

When Life Gives You Dandelions, Make Wine

“When Life Gives You Lemons Dandelions, Make Lemonade Dandelion Wine”

The idiom “When Life Give you Lemons, Make Lemonade” is often used to encourage making the most out of something bad and turn it into something good. My Grandma Pieper is one of those people who was a master at making the best out of a situation that was far from ideal. She was born in 1923 and her parents gifted her the name Noreen Elizabeth Broich. It wasn’t long before they gave her another precious name that would follow her throughout her life, “Dolly”.

In 1941 my Grandmother married my Grandpa, Francis, and became known to us all as “Dolly Pieper”. She has 7 children, 14 grandchildren, and many great- and great-great grandchildren. She and my Grandpa lived many places, and often rented the most inexpensive place in town. These places often needed lots of “sweat equity” and humor to make them feel like home, and my grandma wasn’t afraid to sweat or laugh.

Francis Henry Pieper and Noreen “Dolly” Elizabeth Broich Pieper
Wilmont, Minnesota – April 16, 1941

Some of the stories about preparing homes for her family are simply gross. One of the homes they rented was used previously to house several dogs. The floors and cupboards were full of dog dung. To make the house their home she shoveled the dung out of the house, and cleaned the house from top to bottom with good old bleach. I cannot imagine moving into a home under such conditions, but she made it work. When she told this story she didn’t express sadness or self-pity, she laughed and seemed proud of her accomplishments.

She was a very hard worker and a very determined lady. I am told that if a house didn’t have water she hauled it in from the well, and captured rain water in a livestock water tank to get water to wash her clothes. If there wasn’t enough money to buy food she planted a garden and raised chickens. Protein for her family could include not only veal, beef, pork or poultry, but also fish, turtles, frogs or squirrels. Solutions required an open, creative and hopeful disposition, and she had that.

Like all of us, my Grandma was far from perfect. She had her moments where she lost her temper and acted inappropriately. She sometimes didn’t have a great filter for what she said and did, and that at times hurt feelings or made people uncomfortable. She was a little “rough around the edges”, but oh so loveable.

For over 10 years she took care of my Grandpa who needed help with everything due to a stroke. He spent most of his time in bed, received nourishment through a tube and struggled to communicate with others. I imagine taking care of Grandpa was much more difficult than she let on, but she did it and made the best of the situation. She had her crabby moments, but kept chugging along with love in her heart.

My Grandpa’s funeral took place on a very cold Minnesota winter day. She took time for remembrance, visiting, hugging, praying and mourning. Later that day when she returned home her son offered her a ride on his snowmobile. She did not hesitate one moment to take him up on the offer. Her smile and glorious laugh are part of the picture I remember of her and my uncle zipping away on the snowmobile. She did not hesitate to seize joy, even on a very sad day. My Grandma demonstrated many times throughout her life that joy is always welcome.

During one of our many visits to my Grandma’s home we joined her for lunch. In the middle of the meal she asked if anyone would like some wine. My husband said yes and she pushed herself straight backward in her wheelchair to the kitchen counter and grabbed a syrup bottle filled with a light color liquid. She took off the cap on the bottle and proceeded to take a swig and then smile. She then handed the bottle to my husband, who looked shocked and confused. She told him that it was her homemade dandelion wine. Being a good sport, my husband took a drink straight from the bottle. She smiled and laughed showing her delight with him sampling her dandelion wine.

I never did sample her dandelion wine or get her recipe, which I regret very much. For me, dandelion wine symbolizes my Grandma’s spirit and how she decided to go through life. She enjoyed life and made the most of whatever she had. She is one of my heroes. I raise my imaginary syrup bottle of Dolly’s Dandelion Wine and toast an amazing lady. When life gives you Dandelions, make Dandelion Wine!

Note: There are many different recipes available for dandelion wine. I understand it is a labor intensive task that requires lots of patience and time, mostly due to the fact that you need to pick a significant amount of dandelions. Unfortunately, here in the United States, most people view dandelions as weeds that should be removed or killed. Dandelions are not native to the United States, but were brought here my immigrants who knew that they had many good uses (in addition to wine). Bookstores, many free recipe internet sites, libraries, etc. have dandelion wine recipies, as well as dandelion anything recipes (tea, soup, salads, quiche, bread, etc.). I found several interesting dandelion recipe books on Amazon.com. One of the books I found was published about 1 year ago: Dandelion Recipes: A Cookbook Using Foraged Wild Dandelions by Laura Sommers.

https://www.amazon.com/Dandelion-Recipes-Cookbook-Foraged-Dandelions/dp/198069074X/ref=pd_bxgy_img_3/134-3825096-7372530?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=198069074X&pd_rd_r=24127f0c-327c-49ec-87d6-d87877d9296a&pd_rd_w=8QBZ0&pd_rd_wg=fUs5N&pf_rd_p=09627863-9889-4290-b90a-5e9f86682449&pf_rd_r=Y1DX2FV4WF5CG3XMKMKM&psc=1&refRID=Y1DX2FV4WF5CG3XMKMKM