Working on it….Winter JOY

Winter arrived swiftly this week.  I actually heard it coming across the South Dakota plains one late afternoon and felt the  change of seasons as the windy system pushed it’s way across Big Stone Lake and blew fiercely upon us RedBarners.  Snow came in the middle of the night so first peek of the snowy  blanket was through the upstairs window.  Pretty.    Day # 1  of being ‘snowed in’ is always exciting.  A mini vacation.  No, sorry, I can’t do that, go there, be on that committee…..I’m snowed in!  Whahoo!

The second wintery day arrives with thoughts of reality tagging along.  Chilly air still chilly, wind has settled down, snow is deep,  vacation is over and ITSREALLYWHITEANDCOLDout there.

Why is there 8 inches of snow on the ground and 18 inches packed on my car windshield? Scraper.  We had 4 of them last year….where’d I put them?  You say the water in the chicken coop is probably frozen? Brown boots down on the shelf in the basement. Who put my tall, brown boots away last year with dried mud stuck to them?  The road is in terrible shape and I should only drive 35 ?  More straw in the doghouse.  Shovel. The red one?  It’s in the lawn shed by the garden tools.    Ahhhh, the second day of winter we move into the ‘adjustment to winter’ stage and  act so silly….like we’ve never done it before.

We do adjust and we do find JOY in our Minnesota winters!  I’ve heard much talk about JOY lately.  Funny how a word will pop up here and there and it  becomes your word of the day, week or year.    Many of my creative friends have joined the ‘Wear Your Joy’ project.  I think we all have at least a few clothing items or accessories that help us wear our joy.  Kids are always so proud when they get a new coat or boots.  This project calls for one to be intentional. Feel like a child does.  It’s ok to  allow the joy of something new, something you really like,  to seep into your heart and bless your life.  Cool.    Today’s the day…here goes!

Naturally, I had to break out my favorite dark gray pea coat from last season.  I love it and have almost been waiting for a cold-weather day to wear it.  Quilted inside, feels good and is just right.(Thanks LLBean)  Here come my intentional winter JOY items; a new plaid scarf, handmade grey  hat and RED leather gloves. I’ve officially joined the “Wear Your Joy” movement. Minnesota style!

JOY is something that needs to be invited in, welcomed, encouraged and  allowed to bless our daily life.  Even on the winteriest of days.

Can't miss these.  My heart skipped a beat when I saw them on the store shelf.
Can’t miss these. My heart skipped a beat when I saw these beautiful gloves  on the store shelf.  Thanks Charlie, for helping me get a picture of both hands;)
Selfies are hard.  Scarey.  Looks like somebody with a big red hand is grabbing me and I like it.  Oh my.
Selfies are hard when you want to share a peek at your new gloves. .   Looks like someone  with a big red hand is grabbing me and worse yet,  I’m smiling about it.

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Where is Thumpkin?  I’m a dork.  Joyous, but still a dork.  Laughter feels good on a cold November day.

Great little handmade cap to keep me all toasty.  I'm loving this, Jessica from Madison, Minnesota you sweet knitter friend.
Great little handmade cap to keep me all toasty. I’m loving this, Jessica from Madison, Minnesota you sweet knitter friend.    Another one, please.   Red?    It’s so comfy and perfectly full of JOY.

RedBarn Leaf Peeper

These days and moments of intoxicating Autumn peak leaf color are filling my nature-loving soul….right plump up to the top and overflowing!  Days are busy with apple picking at the Hillside Orchard, hosting sweet grandchildren for a few days during school break; all the while drinking in each ounce of autumn splendor.  Pleasures of past October days seep from stored up memory.  Times of my own growing up years on the farm, leaf piles and bonfire evenings with my own dear children and grandchildren(and dogs) cuddled on my lap.   Thinking of the years I managed to talk my man into taking an autumn drive to the  Minnesota North Shore and leaf peep along Lake Superior.  Or headed SE and poked along the Mississippi River road.  Last fall my daughter joined me on a road-trip to Door County, Wisconsin and a few autumns back I traveled the coast of Maine with my dear friend Teresa.  Sweet memories!

This girl at the RedBarn could live out the rest of her days peering at only the russet reds, glorious golds and greens of autumn foliage.  Indeed, these are my soulful, most inspiring days of the year!  Have you noticed Autumn playing her tune on your heart?

Aha moment!  This could be heaven!  

Setting sun, a bit of breeze and a few stalks of prairie grass.
Setting sun, a bit of breeze and a few stalks of prairie grass join to create a heavenly moment.

 

Someone made the decision to plant this view along the lake.  Smart folks!
Leaf-peeper love!

 

Trees hidden in the middle of a farm section.  I'm here, I see you, nice colors this fall!
Trees hidden in the middle of a farm section. I’m here, I see you, nice colors everyone!
The color tones I'd love to wake up to all year long.
The color tones I’d  wake up to all year long.
Hurrah for a little green in the mix.
Hurrah, for a little green in the mix.
"I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree...."     Joyce Kilmer
“I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree….” Joyce Kilmer
Golden rays, golden days of farm life and lake life intertwined.
Golden rays on golden days; farm life and lake life intertwine in western Minnesota.
Look who wants to share the view on the orchard bluff.
Look who wants to share the view on the orchard bluff.

Big Days At The RedBarn

It’s that time of year when the RedBarn gets spiffed up to welcome the Meander Artists and visitors from near and far!  A very happy first weekend of October ,full with beautiful offerings of hand-made art and happy-to-be-out-in-the-countryside visitors.   Going on year number eleven for hosting Meander in the RedBarn.  It’s a pleasure!  Rain or shine, snow forecast or heat wave the visitors to our Big Stone Lake Area find us and stream in with a smile.  We are ready at the RedBarn for the joyful days of Meander to begin once again!

Welcome to the RedBarn for Meander October 3rd, 4th and 5th.
Welcome to the RedBarn for Meander October 3rd, 4th and 5th.
A bit of pumpkin love.
A bit of pumpkin love.
Time for a photo by the old car?  Get inside and take a little spin?
Time for a photo by the old car? Get inside and take a little spin?
Sweet Colin and Charlie have been pressing cider.  Our lucky guests we be getting a hot cup of spiced cider as our treat this year!
Sweet Colin and Charlie have been pressing cider. Our lucky guests will be served a hot cup of spiced cider as a treat this year!
Autumn gets into your soul....if you let it.
Autumn gets into your soul….if you let it.

 

 

Apple Season Along Big Stone Lake

Love, love, love apple picking season at our old orchard tucked in along the shores of Big Stone Lake.  I’m saying, “It is ooooold in the life of an apple tree.”

My dad started planting apple trees as his retirement project in the late 1970’s.   Some guys simply don’t like that word…retirement.   Or possibly, they do like it so much that they become inspired to act on the thing  they have always wanted to do but could only find the will to dream.  Dad fell into that thought somewhere and proceeded to plant, tend, graft, experiment with, pick and love up on over 1000 apple trees during his 25 years of ‘retirement’.  Many of the trees have gone to wherever old apple trees go to retire.  Nearly 400  of the hardy,beautiful, loaded-with-apple trees are still doin’ their thing in the peace-on-earth prairie acreage known locally as Hillside Orchard.    It’s a joy to pick, press cider, sell and use the apples.

If we do by chance utter the word retirement near the brave trees still bearing in the orchard…..we hold it down to a whisper.

Picking apples and pressing the most amazing apple cider with my son Charlie...he's in charge this time.
Picking apples and pressing the most amazing apple cider with my son Charlie…he’s in charge this time.

Summer Happy

What one thing makes you happy.….today?   It’s hard to pick just one single ‘thing’ on a perfect-RedBarn-August day.    And surely, with the human woe that slips into life, there will be days when we can’t find anything happy.  Who made the rule not to start a sentence with and ? Let’s break it!   It’s a big job……that stayin’ happy.

Living life from the vantage point of a three-year old seems mighty  happy to me.  Is that what we big folks call staying in the present….living one glorious summer moment at a time?  That’s my pick for today.

These two sweet little rule breakers(Josie and Ben)understand 'happy' when visiting at the RedBarn.  May you find something in each day that keeps you chuckling.
These two sweet little rule breakers(Josie and Ben)understand ‘happy’ when visiting at the RedBarn.  May you find something in your day that keeps you chuckling and gives you ‘happy’.

Art Night Big Stone Lake Area

You are SO lucky to live in a community where the arts are important to people.”   That’s what I hear often from friends in other locations.    Technically, I’m in my own little world out here at the RedBarn (until October when hundreds of happy people eagerly stream up my short driveway to pull the big RedBarn door open and shop for one of a kind local art creations).   I know what they mean and I sincerely agree.   Early this week I attended a Big Stone Arts Council meeting where big things are happening.  I’ll have to tell you about that sometime soon.  Last week I heard from a talented, new-on-the-scene jewelry artist in our area.  Ooooo, I can’t wait to see what she is making!    This week also held the opening of a new art exhibition at Java Jules Coffee House and Bistro in Ortonville,  MN.     For sure,  I am very lucky to know so many rock star creatives, share in their happy creative world and the life that it brings to the whole; little towns, big(wait, we don’t have any big towns), country folks, us crazy-about-the-lake-in-summer peeps and all of our many visitors to the area.    An evening  spent among artists who are sharing their work , and supporters who appreciate them , is simply one of the happiest summer evenings out of the house.   Thank you, creative friends!

BSAC 'pres', Becky Parker, welcoming artists and guests.
BSAC ‘pres’, Becky Parker, welcoming artists and guests.
Jim sharing some wonderful shots taken at the nearby National Wildlife Refuge.  Yes, we are very lucky to enjoy that in our community also!
Jim sharing some wonderful shots taken at the nearby National Wildlife Refuge. Yes, we are very lucky to enjoy that in our community also!
If this piece is missing some day please don't come looking in my living room right above the side table where it would be perfect.
If this piece is missing some day please don’t come looking in my living room right above the grey side table.  Thanks, Rick!
Erlys, always the one with the marvelous fiber-art contributions.
Erlys, always the one with the marvelous fiber-art contributions.
Miss Neva gets jazzed about her local art groupies asking her what she is painting next.  Here it is!
Miss Neva gets jazzed about her local art groupies asking her what she is painting next. Here it is!
Oh boy, I have a new artist in my RedBarn neighborhood.  I think I heard him pounding this handmade frame together last week one night;)
Oh boy, I have a new artist in my RedBarn neighborhood. I think I heard him pounding this handmade frame together last week one night;) ‘Welcome’, John!!!
Beeeuuutiful water colors, Rosemary!
Beeeuuutiful water colors, Rosemarie!
Patty, your bird is lovely!  The crazy little owl painting is by yours truly.
Patty, your bird is lovely! The crazy little owl painting is by yours truly.
Featured artist, Naomi!!!  She's new in the area!  Sometimes it takes years before you no longer feel 'new'.  It's our job to say 'welcome. . . .and get over that fast, will ya'?    LOVE her watercolor style!
Featured artist, Naomi!!! She’s new in the area! Sometimes it takes years before you no longer feel ‘new’. It’s our job to say ‘welcome. . . .and get over that fast, will ya’? LOVE her watercolor style!
Rob discovered 'Prairie Smoke'.  Nice!
Rob discovered ‘Prairie Smoke’. Nice!
Happy faces loving summer and the arts!
Happy faces loving summer and the arts!

 

Writer’s Workshop

 She needs a little culcher fix, that farm girl livin’ at the RedBarn, yes she does.  Rainy, gray night and too muddy t’ weed the punkin’ patch.   She’s sneakin’ off, mind you.  Rumor has it them ther’ friends a hers who like t’ daydream, hike the coo and get all expository(gulp), ‘stead a gitten’ the chores done on time, are meetin’ in the back room at the Matador Supper Club.  Best to shut  the door behind ‘em.  They’ll be purty loud when they get to readin’ the long -runnin’- on sentences  they bin’ scriblin’ down on the pages of ther’ wide-lined tablets and clappin’ ther’ hands and smilin’ big to each other.

Writers are a beautiful sort of human being!
Writers are a beautiful sort of human being!

Did I hear you say, “Whoa, I wonder if they let her in the door at the writer’s meeting tonight?”  I promised to behave myself and they did let me in.   What a beautiful, generous, talented group of writers joined together this evening!  It’s a powerful thing; that writing and sharing and listening among good people ’round the table.   Some read from their memoirs, some from journals, works of fiction, poetry or short essay.   Others simply content to listen.  It felt so good and right and exhilarating to hear and listen.   Listen to what the writer had to say about  the people, places and moments of time binding together to form a story. . . .their story in their voice.   Compelling thoughts fill my head still hours later; a stabbing in the family, moving alone across the country and starting over, Carol’s story of abandoned babies in the 1800’s, Sally and her tender visit with the elderly gardener, Marianne revealing the powerful voice of author Bill Holm within her own poem, Mo’s moving words of Maya Angelo, indeed a writer among writers.

Friend Mo  is project director for up coming Big Stone Writer’s Workshop. It  will take place in September at Lakewood Supper Club, along the shores of Big Stone Lake, Ortonville, Minnesota.    Last years workshop earned rave reviews!   Accomplished  writers/writing instructors Judy Wilson and Marianne Zarzana from Southwest Minnesota State University  will be leading the two-day workshop(fab meals included).  Beginning writers, published authors, poets, lovers of the written word, blogging nuts like me . . . .find it the perfect place to network, learn and grow at our own level in the craft.   Ready, set, go!  Registration informally opened up today.

 

 

 

 

 

New Puppy at the RedBarn!

Living in the countryside  of the Minnesota River Valley grants us the quiet, alone time and privacy that is called, uh,….living in the countryside.  No fancy words to wrap around it.     Country neighbors respect each other’s privacy but they also have a keen sense of when it’s time to stop in.   So what’s going on?  It’s big!  We have a new puppy at the RedBarn!!! That, my dear friends, is a plenty good reason to stop in and visit a country neighbor.   Crops are planted and growing,  good rains, plenty of sunshine. . . .and a new puppy in the neighborhood.

Celebrating  simple joy in the ‘countryside of life’ with Eddie.   He’s a heart stealer!

 

'Fetch', still the favorite puppy game.
‘Fetch’,  the ever-favorite puppy game.
TWO heart-stealers at the RedBarn.  LOVE!!
TWO heart-stealers at the RedBarn.      
"I wonder if she meant for me to have this.  Anything on the porch is mine, right?"
“I wonder if she meant for me to have this.  Anything on the porch is mine, right?”
"I'll cover it up and act innocent.  That might work."
“I’ll cover it up and act innocent.    That might work.”

 

American Flag

What a beautiful sight!   Guess it’s been around the world and back more than a few times. Thoughts of pride, our history and hopes for the future well up inside when the stars and stripes wave before our eyes.

God Bless America and those who serve in uniform, preserving the freedom we awake to every morning here in the Minnesota countryside and across our nation.  Grateful!SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC SONY DSC

Baltimore Oriole

Hurray!  One sure sign of spring flew through the Minnesota River Valley  today!  Bright, bold and whistling loudly, Lord Baltimore himself stopped  by.   Giddy with excitement that he picked my humble RedBarn backyard garden for his resting spot, I asked him to relax until I could locate the camera and complete his personal photo shoot.  He was really thirsty!

Why do you think he chose to drink from this sort of grungy bird bath over all of the great water sources(creek, pail by the hydrant, Big Stone Lake, horse water tank) that are nearby?

I’ve been lovin’ the vintage 60’s look on my outdoor photos lately.   Could it be because it goes against all the rules for good photography?   Rules?  Are there really rules?:)   Soften, let some pixels show, find the perfect crazy green or funky orange cast and you’re on the way to ‘vintage 60’s.

 

I just flew in from Florida and man, are my wings tired! (thoughts inspired by my lovable  brother-in-law Jerry's very old and very bad  jokes)
I just flew in from Florida and man  are my wings tired! (thoughts inspired by my lovable brother-in-law Jerry’s very old and very bad jokes)

 

Still early for a good caterpillar find, Lord Baltimore!
Still early for a good caterpillar find, Lord Baltimore!
A sunny day at the RedBarn.  Quiet here, no cats and only that same old-and-slow dog who can't hear much.
A sunny day at the RedBarn. Quiet here, no cats and only that same old-and-slow dog who can’t hear much.
Can't really blend in when you are this bright, buddy!
Can’t really blend in when you are this bright, buddy!
No where in our conversation did I say, "Go ahead and destroy one of my three red tulips." Hmmm.
No where in our conversation did I say, “Go ahead and destroy one of my three red tulips.” Hmmm.
We're almost done now.  That's right, sit still on the handle of my rusty-trusty lawn cart while we say 'good-bye'.
We’re almost done now.   That’s right, sit still on the handle of my rusty-trusty lawn cart while we say ‘good-bye’.   Stop at the RedBarn again next year, will you?