Category Archives: Photos

Big Stone Lake Hosts Spring 2013

Jokes about the slow-to-arrive spring weather, with not everyone laughing,  have been tossed in among our  conversations.   Finally, the second week of May has arrived, the grass is greening up and the sun is shining full on our efforts to welcome Spring in Minnesota lake country!   In lake country, the heart knows it is spring when your arm reaches back and snaps a fishing rod forward.  The catchy whirr of a reel sending the line out into the cold open water brings on the smile you’ve been holding back all winter long.  What a natural high!

Mushy ice still hanging on in places along the headwaters of the Minnesota River, the largest snow piles still in the process of melting away.  With no time to waste it appears that winter and spring are doing a tag-team hand off.  It’s so good to see people out enjoying the open water once again.

One special little boy begged his grandpa to take him fishing today. . .after his kindergarten graduation.    Cute; fishing in his little black suit pants, vest and tie.   The family on the end of the pier is taking time to fish before they head over to the high school baseball game.

Nice to see you, Spring. . . .better late than never.SONY DSC

Answering the RedBarn Questions

Holy Snowman, another 12 inches of snow in our Big Stone Lake area of Minnesota!  Every time a heavy snow comes through I know I have a decision to make; roll over and pull the covers up or lace up the purple boots and boldly stride out into it.  It might sound silly but if you get out into it, talk to Mother Nature about her bad behavior and have some fun with it. . .you don’t dislike it all that much.   Yes, I’m trying to convince myself!

Old Hunter dog and I took a stroll, kicked some snow around and laughed about some of the funny questions I’ve been asked lately.  Nothing wrong with questions.   When you put yourself ‘out there’ on a blog you meet  new people, find daily inspiration from many of them, the lives they live and the beautiful things they have to say.    If you asked one of the questions that gave me a chuckle. . .today is your big day.

1.  Do you live in the RedBarn?  No.  It’s a big play house really.  We have a heated side room where we keep feed for our animals and other important things(ice fishing gear, pails, extra winter hats, hand tools,  a second fridge and a few chairs).  It cleans up nicely and turns into the welcoming room each fall during the Meander when a steady stream of visitors are stopping by to shop with local artists.  There’s something about that little room; the mismatched stools, the old couch, the turned over apple boxes.  The unpretentious nature of the little RedBarn  room always brings on a friendly visit for those who enter.   When I’ve put away the boots  I’ll wander out and take some photos of the other RedBarn spaces.

2. Were you teasing about having purple boots?  Nooooo.

3. Do you still have that really ugly chicken?   Come on!!!  Hunter and I asked the girls to vote on which one of them is the ugliest.  They looked hurt.  Ok, I think I know which one you mean, so. . .Yes.

4. Do you see any large, frightening animals  while living out there is the country?  Mostly no, with some worthy exceptions:  A crazy-wild-runaway pig wandered in one year and was digging in my children’s sandbox.  By the grace of God the children had come inside and I watched him through the window.   Two of my friends saw a mountain lion up close this fall and that was a wide-eyed topic of conversation for a few months.  They are big, usually travel alone and don’t choose tall, bright-colored girls for lunch(pheasant or rabbit are more in line with their taste buds I’d guess).  One day I thought I saw a grand, wooly bison thundering through the prairie pasture but. . . .turned out to be my imagination.  Darn.  I’d love that!


A moment of fun in the snow and an offering of cheer for Mother Nature.


OMG, did you hear what they asked?  Ugliest?  Not me, not me.


These boots are made for walkin’. . . .in the snow.


I love you, Hunter!  He is saying, ” Could you hurry up?  I don’t have boots on and this wet snow is cold.   Mmmm, can’t wait to lap a drink from of the water pail with the little fish swimming around in it.”

RedBarn Phenology

Have you scratched an entry onto the next wrinkled page in your phenology notebook just lately?  You know, taking the time to notice what is happening on any given day in the world of plant and animal life cycles.  Notebook or mental notes only, its great fun to ‘make note’ of the seasonal changes all around us in the Minnesota countryside.

Trees budding, skunk smell drifting from somewhere off,  the first Robin pulling a worm , lots of hawks this year.  Not everyone likes the growing turkey population along the lake.  Must confess, I get excited to see them every single time.  Any early ferns poking through?  A friend wondered aloud if her Lavender plant will have made it through the winter this year. What’s your guess for ‘ice out’ on Big Stone Lake?  It’s  country-style joy to watch the return flight of the migratory birds but sad to watch the hungry deer this spring.  After the long winter many deer are moving very slowly.  “Hang on babies, the green grass is poking through and a few bites will start you back toward health.”

I so admire the dedicated people who keep phenology and temperature records for each day of the year.  Often it becomes a life-long passion.    Imagine the reward, to look over a year’s worth of notes and consider the vast amount of things you will have observed in nature. . . .just because you took the time to look and jot it down.   My youngest son’s 4th grade teacher, Anne, introduced him to the study of phenology and the practice of keeping a progress notebook.  Not a new concept but new to this boy and mom at the time.  Good teachers leave their signature on your life in the wonderful  skills of project learning.   Thanks Anne!

This could be the year that I get better with my phenology notebook.  I have not always been so scientific, ” Hmmm, must be winter since the pumpkins are froze down on the step.    Hmmm, must be spring since the pumpkins are mushy and I need a shovel.   Ooooo, the whole yard smells like horse poop.  Yup, it’s spring.   It was my idea to put the fence this close to the house so I’ll leave that out of the notebook.

Daydream. . . .I wonder what day I will be picking the first ripe tomato.


Staking a claim for nesting territory.


Can you find a blade or two of green among the brown? SONY DSCFriends in the wild.

Spring Bird Sightings


Now that’s one lovely beak!  Are these birds immature Bald Eagles?

SONY DSCSpring is working hard to give winter the boot.  Wading through ankle-deep slush, heading toward the RedBarn door,  I was thinking about how I have turned enough seasonal corners to know what Spring is all about.  An unusual bird overhead caught my eye just then to  remind me. . . .there will always be something new to enjoy each and every year when spring arrives in the countryside.


Geese in flight, against the leftover pinks  of a glowing sunset.


New Energy at the RedBarn

Really, there is so much energy bouncing around in our countryside universe when the March sun shines and the deep snow packs start to shrink.  My measuring stick(the bird baths, fall flower stalks and garden ornaments) tell me that we had some deep snow this past winter.  This little exciting energy that I am talking about today happens inside of my house on that favorite spot where I mix up things in the big bowl.

Last fall I had a wonderful time when my young friends Eliza and Kate came to visit for the weekend.   Kate brought me a gift of homemade ‘energy balls’.  Don’t you love this name way more than ‘no-bake frozen blob of ingredients that are good for you’? I assured her that they tasted marvelous and she in turn assured me that I could make them myself with kitchen items I most likely have on hand.  It’s a flexible recipe and Kate was right!  Wanting something tasty, and not having a desirable morsel in the house, caused me to keep thinking about the little wonder balls that Kate had brought.   Ok, time to start digging for the healthy ingredients and see what I can create.

Here is what went into my bowl, it is my day for self promotion. . . .as I must say, “They taste so fantastic.”  Keeping them in the freezer, out of sight, is one of the best ideas about this whole energy ball craze.  Maybe a little baggy of two tucked into a jacket pocket to enjoy with a friend a half hour into a spring hike?   Can’t wait!

1 cup of dry oatmeal

1/2 cup of ground flaxseed (thank you to the grower of this fine flax near Golva, North Dakota)

2 Tablespoons of dark chocolate chips, or chunks cut into small pieces

1/3 cup of honey (thank you for this lovely dark Buckwheat honey from near Brandt, South Dakota – past mmmm)

1/3 cup of peanut butter

1/2 cup of dried pumpkin seeds

2 Tablespoons of dried cherry chunks, cut small

1/4 cup of chopped pecans

Simple, mix everything together until blended(just your arm with a big spoon attached), roll a gob around to make a ball about 1-1/2 inches across.  My recipe made 16 energy balls.   Easy on your budget for sure.  I doubt that I have $5.00 worth of goods dumped into the bowl and you can easily spend $2.00 on a three-bite health food bar. . . I did it on vacation.    This is a story problem with a nice result, “Honey, I saved you $27 bucks today by making homemade energy balls. Woo-hoo!”


 Ten minutes will make these little gems and you are set for whenever you need an energy-packed snack.


Check your cupboards.  You most likely can mix up a batch right away or at least get thinking about it.


Oh, the fun of looking back through photos!  The day that Eliza and Kate came to visit, with son Charlie, was one of those fine, late fall days that you want to grab onto, pull back and fight to keep forever.  You know the kind; the air was clean and crisp, the joy of sharing time with happy, hopeful  young people was full, and the sun filled the evening sky over the lake with heavenly colors  you could gaze on as long as they lingered.


Eliza and Kate are friends at Concordia College(Moorhead, MN)  Go Cobbers!  Wonderful kids, wonderful times. . . .those college days!

Part 2, Special People In Sedona

Wait! I have more to say.  Have you ever been cut-off when you were really on a roll?  Maybe it’s a hint that I have shared enough vacation photos.  My scrapbook just would not be complete without the following entries.  I know the two beauties in the photo below very well.  They are my sisters!  The girls were wintering in Yuma, AZ and made the trek up to Sedona to spend a couple of days.  It was wonderful to see you and spend time together, Judi and De!

photo (1280x960) SONY DSC

My dear chef Jesus, your eggs benedict option is simply superb.  (Kens Creekside, Sedona) SONY DSC

Bob and Deb, in a brief moment when they are sitting still, at their lovely home in AZ.  Old friends have become new friends; Deb and I attended school together in our much earlier years.  We were kindly invited to spend the night at their home.  We golfed, wined, dined and did some serious story-telling!  Good times! SONY DSC

Only Bob saw the little white ball actually roll into the hole for Randy’s first ever hole-in-one.  Deb and I were too busy visiting.   I’m thinking he won’t want to wait so long to go on vacation again after this.   Fun times!  Indeed, every part of life is enriched by the people we are so fortunate to be sharing it with!

Special People in Sedona

Mountains, resorts, cathedrals, spas, fine dining. . . .none of those travel memories mean much when you take the people factor out of them.   Meeting new people and meeting up with people already in my life are the very best part of vacation memories.    We outstate Minnesotans wave at everyone on the road and can’t get in and out of a grocery store without holding a dozen side conversations.  You can imagine my frustration over sitting next to a young man on my flight from Phoenix to Minneapolis who said nothing to me throughout the whole entire flight.  That’s just crazy!  No ‘hello’, no eye contact, no answer to my couple of little questions, no nothing!   I’m fine with reading, sleeping, eating and sitting quietly but somewhere in there, in that over 3 hours of time, I need a nod, a smile or a couple of words to acknowledge that you see me, Mister!   Back to thinking about some of the  great ones. . .the special people who made their way into my little- winter- get- away- in- AZ  memories to stay.


This may be one of my favorite  photos ever.  We were traveling by train, 2 hours deep into the Verde Canyon, listening to the annoying tour guide talk about the shapes of the various mountains.(I’m not being mean, we all agreed that the breathtaking scenery was complimented so grandly by the old western tunes being played between the times when he was laughing at his own bad mountain-shape jokes) The waitress had just finished telling us about a home that was built deep in the canyon with a 1 hour and 45 minute travel time to make it up the driveway!   Watching for the sight as the train whizzed past,”Hey, there she is, giving us a wave.”  I felt kind of helpless. . . .like I should have brought an extra gallon of milk or a bag of oranges to toss out for her.   I am happy to have had my camera ready and really enjoyed seeing that old gal in the country.    Wish we could have had a visit!  Bet she could give that kid on the plane a lesson.


You find a kind of unexplained energy in this area of our great United States.  All that talk about healing properties, vortex, spirit energy?   Certain thoughts and feelings were so vivid and refused to leave.  What’s that all about?  This is the spot in the Verde Valley where the first homestead settlers from the East arrived and ‘settled’.  No surprise, they claimed land that had been cleared at an earlier time by Indian people of the area.    The mountain road had been curvy and scary  so I may have simply  felt happy to get out of the car and put my feet on the ground but I had a sense that someone I knew was there with me.  Maybe a gardener who is anxious for spring planting season, like I am?SONY DSC

This is the guy I like a lot!  It took me FOUR years to convince him to take a winter vacation and what is he doing on the balcony in his robe?  Really, he never wears shorts or goes barefoot!  His answer, “I’m sun tanning my head.”  Now there’s a worthy expenditure of vacation time. . . . when you’ve had a hat covering that area for the last five months.   Don’t tell him you saw his legs.SONY DSC

I don’t know the lady who lived and died here, but I like her.   Story goes, this beautiful adobe style home was five years in the building some time back in the 1960’s.  The husband ran off before it was finished but his wife moved in, grew old and enjoyed the remote mountain area on her own.  There’s always more to the story but, hey, you’ve got to admire her tenacity.SONY DSC

Some people can manage to do their job and have fun at the same time; Bambi is that gal!  She joked with us, “Do you know how many times I been asked if Bambi is my ‘stage name’?  If I had a ‘stage name’ do you think I would be waiting tables?”      You might.    Thanks for putting a little extra kindness into the world, Bambi!SONY DSC

Dinner music. . . .everything tastes better with live music!   Great tunes, Jim!

The Mountains of Sedona

You dream and hope, listen to the stories of others, and then one day it’s your turn!  For a real winter vacation, that is.  I’m a  fan of King Solomon, whose words lay bare the layers of life we each are granted a portion of, “To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven.”(biblical book of Ecclesiastes)  The mountains of Sedona, AZ provide the perfect natural beauty and energy to restore the soul of this winter-weary Minnesota country girl who often carries on about the gifts of living in the countryside.   With that said, we all know there’s a sweet relief to getting back home.   Even sweeter when you travel down your dark little gravel road, turn the truck onto your freshly plowed driveway, see that all is well and notice a new feeling inside of yourself.   It’s a happy, little bit tired, heart-full of vacation experiences, sights and memories feeling.  Where to start?  How about simply. . . .with the splendor of those beautiful red mountains, everywhere you look, around that gorgeous Sedona area.


Red mountains to enjoy while golfing .



Red mountain views along every hiking trail.



A rainy day seems to freshen the face of the red mountain slopes.



Gentle snow moved in for a new look and feel to the mountains.  This is the breakfast room view from Ken’s Creekside dining room.



Chapel of the Holy Cross, a sacred mountain spot known as one of the world’s most- photographed sights.



Oooo, a little ‘life’ among the mountains!


The Arizona desert flora begins her look-but-don’t-touch new spring growth.

Please, Just a Little More Winter

When trimmed with snowy white or touched by morning frost most anything becomes a scene. . . .for those who slow to see.     Soul of the countryside is deep in thought with her last run at winter in force.SONY DSC

The slightest bit of red can polish up an outfit!



And, how does fate decide which leaf shall drop first windy autumn day and which shall hold the winter long?


  Stories from the past.SONY DSC

Animals peer, scurry and nose about,  winter branches draw their miles of crooked line and white is still the color of the day.