Category Archives: General

Meander at the RedBarn-2013

Whew!  We made it through another successful Meander, 3-day art crawl event whose tour ‘meanders’ for 60 miles along the beautiful Minnesota River Valley each first October weekend for the past 10 years.  I had to wait a few days and settle back into my quiet country life before I could talk to you about it.  If I tried writing about it on Sunday evening after the last  visitor car had driven down the driveway and the last artist packed and scurried home. . .well, I would act like the starlet  (minus the gown, hairdo and facelift); all choked up, blubbering away the names that needed to be said and people who should be thanked.

Fresh coffee coming right up!  Thanks to everyone who visited at the RedBarn.  If you couldn't make it don't worry,  plans have already started to take shape for next fall.  Do you totally love the grapevine touch on the RedBarn?
Fresh coffee coming right up! Thanks to everyone who visited at the RedBarn. If you couldn’t make it- don’t worry; plans have already started to take shape for next fall.  Grapevines; clipped, strung on the barn. . . .dressed in her country-best for the Meander(I’m talkin’ about the RedBarn)  Boots n’ jeans n’ warm socks for this ‘country chick’.  A few hours west of us they had 48 ” of snow! No complaining about a bit of rain and temps in the 40’s.

It’s a ton of fun playing the supporting role of ‘lady who lives at the RedBarn’ during the Meander!  Thank you, to all of you fabulous  artists who made art, shoppers who really shopped this year, sponsors, volunteers, businesses who tagged on and added to the fun, families who worked behind the scenes and. . .just everyone who is part of the Meander ‘ village’ it takes to pull this off.   I’m certain that many of you deserve an Oscar!

Crackin’ Myself Up

Ever had one of those bright, sunny days when you’re having so much fun with just yourself?   Today’s my day!  I keep peeking out the window only to make sure no one is driving down my little dirt road to  spoil it.

Yesterday I had lunch with a friend.   Put on my best jeans, met her at a real coffee shop in the real town nearby and jumped up on the high stool next to the cozy(high) table for two.  Darn, she is good for what goes on inside my head!  It’s  a blessing to have a friend who picks up the phone and calls you for lunch.  You both know you have a long list of things waiting to get done. . .and you meet for lunch anyway because it’s that important!     During our friendly back and forth chatter I shared a little story about how the night before I had put my feet up on the coffee table(after one of those long intensely grueling country days I live), entered the world of ‘Cash Cab’ and made the dumb move to slide the screen on my smart phone.   Rather than type back a reply to any of the FIVE requests facing me at 11:00 p.m. on my really ugly sofa, I decided  to  speak them out loud.

Message:  Becky, would you like to meet us in the morning and talk on the radio?

Me:  It’s so nice of you to ask.  Let me think about that for a second(count to one-barely), NO!!!!!

Message:  Becky, are you still willing to make 25 pounds of b-b que?

Me:  Geez!! It’s a good thing you didn’t call and ask me that on a day like today.  Did I really say ‘yes’ to that or did I nightmare it?  Holy butchered Cow!

It gets worse so I’ll stop with the examples.  My girlfriend lovingly teased me, “You don’t need me, you crack yourself up.  A good reminder:  Laugh a little more, poke some fun at the serious world around us and go ahead. . . .crack yourself up once in a while if you feel like it!

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I’m working on a new ‘City Chicks’ greeting card for the RedBarn card shop.  Poor girls have traveled afar from Minneapolis to attend The Meander Art Crawl, on the advice of Mayor R.T. Rybak, and now they are scared to enter the RedBarn for the cooking class. Suppose they took a look at the recipes and saw ‘hot wings’ on the menu? (wink)


Billie and Brevik

Look who bought the little chair!!!  Providence seeps into life . . .when you least expect it.  “Life is not a problem to be solved, but a gift to be enjoyed.”


The auctioneer could be heard chattering in the distance.  I was enjoying the merriment of the children’s tractor pull contest during the hot afternoon of the Cornfest activities when a bell went off in my head, “Ohhhh, they are selling the painted chairs over there in the park.  I wonder if anyone will bid on the ones I painted (familiar self-doubt which we  toss around from artist to artist ).”

At the edge of the auction crowd I bumped into the smiling faces of two expectant parents(and much adored friends); Billie and Brevik.  These two lovable city slicker friends from Wayzata, Minnesota  cherish their week-ends-at-the-cabin on Big Stone Lake just as much as I adore them.  A moment of chatting, then Billie poked Brevik and reminded him to pay attention since the little chair she really wanted was soon coming up on the auction block.

You guessed it. . . .Billie and Brevik bought my little white-painted chair with the bugs on it!!!   Glee, big-eyes, speechless. . . .thanks you two. . .more than words can say!!!



Little Chair Is Painted!

Oh my, I heard the yes-word come out of my own mouth. In a weak moment I said, “Yes, sure, I’ll take a couple of little chairs and work up something to paint on them.”  Wait!! I’m not a painter! What was I thinking? It’s a fundraiser project put together by our local Big Stone Lake Area Chamber of Commerce , out here in beautiful western Minnesota farm and lake territory.    I didn’t have the heart to say “no”.

Deep breaths, no one else in the house, get started.  I have a ramble of self-talk, tucked in the back of my brain, that I  pull  up front whenever there occurs a shaking sensation in that ball on my shoulders.  It goes  like this,” Everything is MADE by someone and they had to START at sometime. You could most likely make ANYTHING if you really tried hard enough. Stop thinking about it and START”.   Being a crazy little thought, it propels me to jump in and try some things that a country girl should try and then. . . . .sometimes I simply should have had the good sense to turn the volume down, go pull weeds in the pumpkin patch or bake a cake instead.

How do you discern when to listen to the voices in your head ?

One memorable summer day I sewed  my husband a pair of underwear. . .you know, just to see if I could.   Sure, I could and did.  Have any idea how long it takes to sew all of those silly flaps and extra layers that someone decided should be in the front of men’s panties? Binding leg-holes and stretching on elastic? The ‘briefs’ lasted for years and my dear man often bragged(laughed) about his one and only pair of homemade underwear.

Turned the volume UP on my confidence building voice, dug through drawers to find some  tiny brushes, snatched a quart of white house paint from the basement shelf and  truly enjoyed  painting 2 summertime chairs!  Not perfect, not sure it’s my calling in life but it was artful, cheerful and. . . I’m done.     If we account for the time I spent thinking, painting, fussing around   the selling price should be $300!   That’s not so very realistic for a tiny chair.  Raising money for a good cause-yes.  Oh heck, most of the good things in life happen when you forget about money altogether, don’t they?

It felt good to let loose and tell myself, ” You are enough, whatever comes into your mind and jumps off the end of the paint brush will be. . . .what  is supposed to be.”




Summer Holiday Photoshoot

Flowers in full bloom steal my heart, make time stand still, almost cause me to write poetry. Does anyone else out there get a little overwhelmed, with the best of feelings, at the sight of the long- awaited garden flowers bursting open in bloom? The whole scene sends me into a Victorian era mood. Really! If it were a decision-making day, I would have at least one room destined for lace, old linen and wild rose spilling out of milk-glass vase. Anne of Green Gables, where are you when I need you?

So as not to really truly go overboard inside my home, I pack up some décor items that feel right and head out to the RedBarn for my annual mid July floral photo shoot! It’s a splendid-fun way to preserve the memory of gorgeous garden flowers. In my business it makes for some new ‘card shot’ material too.

Body temperature rises after a few minutes in that big barn and I find myself asking, “Why do you choose the hottest day of July to get inspired about this particular photo shoot?” Reminder. . . .that’s when the lily buds decide to unfurl!

Oh yes, it’s the gorgeous truth that each sun-filled Minnesota summer day begins and ends as a holiday. May as well add a bouquet!

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A Dog’s Life

Soon time to pack the cooler and head out for lake time on Big Stone Lake!  The 4th of July has always been cause to pause and reflect on good fortunes of living on American soil.  My dad has passed on, years back, but many of the little sayings he used are still with me and pop into my head at special times.    Son, Charlie, took this photo of dear Hunter-dog having a snooze on the porch. He presented it to me with a chuckle, “A way to celebrate the day.  See, red, white and blue.”

As a man of the land, farmer, my dad took very few nice summer days off from working.  The 4th of July was always a fun day off to celebrate the privilege being an American.

You might have guessed. . . . . one of his good old sayings was, “It’s a dog’s life.”


Art Rocks In Big Stone Lake Area

Oh, what a night. . . .late June, 2013.  I remember. . . .what a night.  You know the tune.   I swapped my RedBarn garden jeans for white capris and jumped in the car. . . .heading for a dose of culture.  I noticed the boys in the crowd left their fishing hats home and shined up a bit too!   The Italian meal was superb, the company was divine and the art on the walls of the Java Jules Coffee House and Bistro; nothing short of ‘wow’.  Our Big Stone Lake Area knows how to celebrate the success of an ‘art happening’ among us!    Have you ever heard that line about Minnesota being ‘the state of the arts’?  It has something to do with putting your money where your mouth is; healthy arts community means good things for everyone in the community.  That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it!

Local artist, Deb Larson, is publicly sharing her dynamic exhibition of ‘Couch Culture’ over the summer months.   During the opening evening Deb was visited by the Pioneer Public TV crew. They covered the event for an upcoming segment of their locally produced, art-related show, ‘Postcards’.   Ahh, a star among us!  It’s fun to talk about the growing number of artists, the growing support among the community, the sense of pride felt when we fill a room to support the success of an individual.  But really, what about all of those huge life-like paintings?  Now that’s one artistic challenge. . . .painting up friends and folks in the community and actually getting them to look like them.  I’m on the list of impressed viewers, Deb!


SONY DSC Lovely Eddie with the gorgeous feet.  Dan and Mo being Dan and Mo(above).


Deb’s interview with Pioneer ‘Postcards’ producer, Andrea Singleton. SONY DSC

Each dinner guest was asked to write a postcard to share about one of three things we have going on; accomplished area artists, Deb’s exhibition now hanging at Java Jules in uptown Ortonville, MN or the Upper Minnesota River Arts Crawl, known as Meander, that includes our area artists each fall(dates this year are October 4th,5th and 6th).  Beautiful people. . . .they all listened so well and dutifully spread the news of the arts among us!


Snapdragons, Oregano and Asparagus

For all of us who enjoy planting, growing and picking. . . .there are plenty of experts to help us succeed.   Should we follow along and do things by the book?   Nah!  Slap you knee, and shout, “It’s my little spot of dirt and I can do anything I want to in this garden.”   It does take my bravado down a level when overnight visitors stop by and. . . .eat off the plants in my garden.    Marigolds, Rudbeckia and Petunias; I picked the plain, but pretty, plants that I thought no one would want.  Wrong.

Among these longed for, stretched-out days of  late June in Minnesota RedBarn countryside,  it takes more than that to get me down.  Live and let live, eat and let eat.    Here’s my own little rule; every time I walk out into the flower beds I am going to  pick something.    Something that I can hold high, create with, eat or at least smile about.   It’s my garden and if I say it’s beautiful. . . . .it is, right?  I’ve always liked green.

Rogue asparagus spears popping up among the Day Lily.  That’s a nice surprise!   White snapdragon ready for snapping. Ok.  The clump of Oregano.   I’ve  tried to dig it out three years in a row and it doesn’t want to leave my garden.  Must mean I am supposed to let it be and start to love it.   I am happy with my nontraditional bouquet. Just right for celebrating the gift of a sunny, warm day.   Thank you, Mother Earth!

Asparagus soup with only three spears?   I’ll try.

SONY DSCWashing up while she decides what she is going to do with us!


The surprise asparagus popping out of the Day Lily patch reminds me of the movie, ‘ET’.  An unusual being that’s out of place?


‘Cheers’ to one lovely day in the countryside!


A dash of RED goes well with green-all year long.SONY DSC

Sharing The RedBarn Living Space

Stopping at the end of my driveway, to glance out over the empty, black front lawn flower garden, was meant to inspire a quick thought of floral transformation.   A happy sign of  life sighted in the garden, as the shiny swallow staked her claim.  Seeing a bit of nature, really seeing it, making a shift in  thought, slowing down, imagining what the subject has to say about the whole interaction, creates that magic-wand-joy-in-the-present.

The realization that all in life share so many of the same feelings; taking in, reflecting, wondering, protecting, finding a place to call home and guarding with our hearts the people we love.

We can share this space and these thoughts, dear bird.   I’m hoping you agree and promise not to  swoop me later today when I’m sprinkling in the  Zinnia seeds and pulling out some clumps of grass.


Can’t resist the charm of a vintage garden tool.


The Swallow is trying to fool me.  Which house do you think I live in?SONY DSC

Twinning On Graduation Day

What a blessing; two baby girls.  From the  ‘start’ ( check back in your biology book) we were talking two; two crying babies in the delivery room, two cribs, two new bikes, two back packs, two first bras, two prom dresses, two college funds. . .and two special young ladies growing up and driving off into the world(two new cars??)at the  same time.   One of my very best friends asked me to create tote bags as gifts for her twin nieces.   I don’t know if they will actually ‘tote’ them around, although they were so gracious and quite excited about them.  I’m thinking it might be a fun idea to paint up a large wooden peg, hang the bag and fill it with scarves, socks, journal, a stash of dark chocolate, popcorn and personal items when you get your first apartment in Duluth.

Graduation parties are a huge social event in rural Minnesota. . . .maybe everywhere.  Sweet Cassie and Amber live waaaay out in the countryside so the ‘townies’ had to drive forever to get there!  Tee-hee! A perfect reason to enjoy the open country on a spring day.   Kind of overwhelming to be the graduate(s) and see cars and people lining your little gravel road, tables full of friends enjoying the wonderful lunch, Aunties tearing up as they gaze at the precious baby pictures on the table and wondering, “Why did these years have to go by so fast?”   I know, I know, why do they?

Getting creative is always fun.  This project was simply ‘extra-fun’!  My artist/photographer friend, Krista, did the photo shoot for the girls last fall and gets the credit for the fun photos we had to choose from.   I asked the girls if we could do a triple shot (twin girls, Krista’s fun photos and my tote making) out in the backyard.  They were all for it.  I can see why you enjoyed working with Cassie and Amber, Krista.  Should I say, “Naturals”?

Mom and Dad are so goin’ to miss these two.  Grown up a bit. . . . . still those same two precious babies.


Ready for anything!


   Congratulations on your graduation, Cassie and Amber!  I’m so impressed; only the really cool kids  have a photo with their parents.  Now that’s a keepsake.  Guess who will love you the most, never stop, think of you every day and totally be-there for you?  I know you know!