Monday, December 23, 2013

Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas Card Photo Shoot - not always "Merry"!

Christmas Card Photo Shoot 
- not always "Merry"!

  What kind of card should we choose this year?
I sure appreciate receiving beautiful cards with scenes of winter...  sparkly, reminiscent of old days...  etc.
  And also the pictures bringing me up to date on friends’ trips, their joyous occasions, etc.  Sometimes they share their griefs, which is hard, but very kind to those of us who don’t get to see them often.

Myself - having done over 50 years of picture cards - I wonder if I can stop?

On the one hand, I no longer have to try to get the children to smile at the camera when they would rather be doing just about anything else.  I remember when our son was two years old and we had taken way too many pictures trying to find one that would work. As a last resort I gave him a large marshmallow to eat... and the result was that he looked like he was smiling... we settled on that shot.

Now, with kids and grandkids living apart from us it’s not possible to get a group picture - unless you know how to do some work with your computer’s photo program.  

 In the past our cards have featured the Little Cannon River valley... in its pristine snowy splendor.  That also was the year my sister died and the beautiful wooded trails gave me comfort in a quiet gentle way.   Other years we featured the critters who have shared our farm with us... they are “family” too.

This year I was stumped as I looked over the pictures stored on my computer.  Nothing seemed to fit a Christmas Card.  
But for some reason I kept coming back to one picture... maybe it reminds me of the popular Duck Dynasty family on TV!  They seem to care about each other and have fun.  (Although I hope I personally never have to watch all those fellows with their beards eating spaghetti!  Not a happy thought!)

But while visiting one of our kids and their family, they decided to have a “photo booth shoot”.  This is where you put on outlandish costumes and get your picture taken.  Actually, I thought some of my regular clothes would probably have fit in just fine.
It took me a while to get in the swing of it.  Actually I was not just hesitant - I was a little crochety until I saw how much fun everyone else was having!

And we got some pictures taken.  Although I’m not allowed to put names in, I think you’ll recognize Grandpa and Grandma!

Will I use this family picture on our Christmas card?  Maybe.. or not!  But you can see the video on Youtube “Da Funny Family learns to dance!” or find it on

    And a very Merry Christmas - Happy Holidays - to you!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Dave Mona - Sports Huddle

  Sharing memories brings a smile! 

            As a kid... did you ever hide a radio under your blankets at night  in bed because you were supposed to be asleep... but you wanted to listen to a baseball game?
            (Keep in mind that portable radios were clunky in size over 50 years ago!)
            Our town only had a minor league team.  But that didn’t stop us from being passionate fans.   In a book by Dave Mona, Beyond the Sports Huddle, I recall this radio sports talk show host explaining that some major league teams were only “liked” by their fans but the Minneapolis Millers were “loved” by theirs.
            And when I e-mailed him and told him how I had secretly listened to the Millers in bed as a kid, he wrote back that he had done the same thing.

            But Dave also wrote in his biography about so many other things that brought me back to those days in the 1950’s.
            You see Dave grew up a couple of blocks from my home.  He was the little brother of one of my best friends. His sister Judy was actually a bridesmaid in my wedding.
            But when we were teenagers, I rather ignored him!  I was overwhelmed by her dad who was the basketball coach at an opposing high school.  He taught me about coaching styles.  (My school won the state championship.)
            And Judy’s mother made the best “sloppy joes” for a slumber party we had.  I tried finding that recipe recently when we had company.  I couldn’t figure out why I was stressing out on this detail until our company came.  
            I mentioned my frantic search for the recipe and they explained that years ago they had worked with Judy and knew Dave!  Who would have thought there was a connection!
            But back to the memories.   How as a 13 year-old I carried a newspaper clipping of the Millers team standings in my billfold.  And how I was devastated when the New York Giants called our star player, Willie Mays, up to the Majors and would eliminate our chances in the minors.
            Today, by living in our time period of computers, I could “google” a  sports announcer of that day.  And I could listen to Halsey Hall for one more time!
            It was a coincidental moment when I read about Dave coming to WCCO for his first session of his present popular radio program with sports columnist Sid Hartman.   Dave found he had been locked out of the station.  It’s broadcast on a Sunday and that was normal procedure.  Dave had to find another business that was open to find a phone to call the station to let him in!
            Many years later I came to the same radio station to do an interview and sit in on his broadcast.  But I found myself also locked out!
            They hadn’t changed their policy I guess.  But I had a cell phone and that helped me contact them to let me in.
            Afterwards, leaving the studio and heading back down stairs to the entrance, I got lost.  Found places like a remote bathroom, etc., and I got some interesting video of places you probably don’t usually see.
            Then Dave wrote about the time he flew with the Blue Angels... upside down!   
            I don’t have any experience that dramatic.  And I’m grateful!  
            But it reminded me of the “fun” of flying as a reporter.  Depending on the group involved, I figured I would be put through tests.  But once you passed it was great!
            Like the time one pilot remarked,  “Oh, you know better than to watch the horizon!  And then with the Army - Company C manueuvers at Fort Ripley, the pilot commented, “The (other) reporter was throwing up at this point.”  I grinned (kind of) but made it!   
            And was treated like a friend.

            And I am grateful to my friend's little brother for sharing that time period and memories with all of us.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Items may be worth $2 or so...
   but the stories were “priceless”!

Their collectibles and antiques may not have been worth as much as they hoped... but the stories they told were “priceless”!  And like the old TV advertisements for MasterCard... our hearts were touched.

The Antique and Collectible Appraisal Event with Mark Moran was sponsored by the Cannon Falls library for three hours recently.  There was no charge to the folks bringing their items.  And if you didn’t bring anything, you still got to learn how things were valued and the stories of those who brought them.

Like Tom Meinke who had found a rocking chair with inlaid mother of pearl decoration.

Moran has been an antique and fine art appraiser for over 20 years.  He is co-author of over 25 books on antiques and collectibles.  He’ll be on the Antiques Roadshow TV program in the near future.

One thing he wanted the audience to know is that he never offers to buy or sell the items he appraises.  He just provides information.

Like the name of a website where you can check out the value of old books:  

And the concern when looking at the matting of pictures if there is “mat burn”. This is a brownish color caused by acidic mats which can creep in from the outside onto the displayed piece.  Although I liked the effect, now I’ll know what it might be doing.

And then he showed how you can use a flashlight or magnifying glass when looking at a picture or a piece of sculpture. Here Moran and Heidi Helgren find the name of the artist of the nicknamed: “Naked Lady” sculpture, by Paul Gramlin.  Heidi explained that this piece had been in the library for 20 years but they didn’t know why.  Value: $400-500.

I didn’t get the values for every item because I was busy trying to take  pictures and mainly because I got so interested in hearing their stories!  

Al Johnson displayed a beautiful bisque vase he had purchased for his mother at the time of WWII when he was in Odessa, Russia.  How sweet to think of him as a young man buying something for his mother... because she liked vases... but how careful you had to be when trying to bring it back home!   (I think an afghan or wood sculpture would have been easier to trek around with Al!)

Ted Byrne showed a "turn of the century" mahogany Victrola along with a Casino guitar he bought back in 1961.  (We've got to hear him play it sometime!)

Lee Ellison showed a beautiful “turn of the century” silver overlaid vase from 1890-1910.  One of a kind piece.  Her husband inherited it.   

Unusual pieces were the walrus cribbage boards from Jim Flakne.   

 And then there was the cast iron peanut dispenser brought by Ray Meglic.

Helen Baughmann had oriental porcelain with a raised design that might be 100 years old.  Moran valued it at $20-$35.

Cindy Molenaar showed a silk screen 1967 “mid century modern” picture whose style is very popular now, Moran explained.   

Gayle Finne had a photo mechanical print made up of dots from around 1900.  Moran used the magnifying glass to see them.

Pete Otto brought an interesting piece called a “home shrine”.  Moran expalined that  today it’s “a tough sell”.  About $20 would be a fair price.

And then we saw the antique musical revolving Christmas tree stand from 1932-34 that another person's mother had bought.  Moran explained that one had sold recently for $500-$600.

I was fascinated when I saw it because it looked like the one I found in my uncle’s estate 40 years ago.  But I couldn’t get it to work and it got thrown away!  

What did I keep?  A small old brass tray.  The appraiser said it reminded him of one his grandmother kept ribbon candy in.  
It’s worth about $2.

I could only smile... it’s the memories that are “priceless.”


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Virtual parties… is this the future?

“Virtual” parties!  
Is this the future?

   A request came via e-mail that seems to be appropriate for today’s internet savvy folks.  It was announcing a bridal shower.  
Not the regular kind where you go to someone’s house to celebrate.  Where they have spent hours cleaning and decorating.  And planning games.  And we have to get all dressed up to attend.

This was a “Virtual Bridal Shower”.  It was to be a surprise for the bride-to be.

Of course it wouldn’t bother her by surprising her at an inconvenient time because it would be “virtual”.

According to an internet dictionary this means that it’s not “physically existing... but “made by software to appear to do so”.

Those of us invited were asked to just send the “bride to be” a favorite family recipe.   And if we wanted, we could send a little something extra as a gift. That would be OK but no obligation.

I had mixed emotions on the idea.

On the one hand, I hate going to “showers”.  Maybe I’ve just gotten embarrassed by the dorkie games we are supposed to play and laugh at.  And because I probably won’t win any of the prizes.

And if I do win, they’ll continue to play and take the prizes away from those of us who won!  (I don’t like my attitude here, but it’s what it is!)

On the other hand, the nice part of “real life” parties is that I can see real people.  I enjoy hearing everyone talking and kidding each other.  And I learn so much about them and their families.

So, I guess I really feel both ways about having "real" and "virtual" parties.

Now my only question is: how do you eat a “virtual dessert”?


Sunday, October 6, 2013

A country moment... in the sky

After hours of frustration on the phone
 with our internet provider... 
trying to figure out how to recover files
 that had become inaccessible...
 after downloading the program
 they required me to change to...  

I went outside to feed horses... 
and saw this
"Country Moment"...

and a touch of beauty caressed my soul.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

 A “Country” way to party!

It’s a “country” way to “party”!   And economical too!

Businesses having “Open Houses” to show off their products can be special treats in a small town because it’s a neat way to see what opportunities are available locally but also visit with your friends!

Last Saturday I “partied” all afternoon!

We started out at the Open House at Cannon Power Sports off Highway 52 south of town.   My husband would love an ATV but I want a vehicle that will cross the LIttle Cannon River, not just stay on land because we have property on both sides of the river.  But we hadn’t found a compromise we agreed on.

CPS was offering treats of hot dogs, cookies, popcorn, chips, etc.   And the owner is a friend of ours, Ray Schoenfelder. It was an excuse to say “Hi!”.

After getting a tour of the place from Ray, eating the treats and signing up for prizes - we had fun talking to all sorts of other friends - some we hadn’t seen for years.  

And of course, one of the company reps figured a way to modify an ATV to go through the river for me!
I’ll think about it fellas!

A short while later there was another Open House happening at Raw Bistro Pet Fare.   They have done a remarkable job remodeling the Lorentz Meat Locker Plant on Cannon Street.
They also had tasty hot dogs, chips and fresh salsa, fresh fruit, cocoa, etc.

I was excited to meet their guest speaker Katie K-9 from twin cities radio station FM 107.1.  Katie Riopel has a talk show giving advice and sharing her sense of humor from her many years of teaching dog training, etc. on Sundays from 4-6 p.m.  
On a podcast of her latest program at, Katie mentions Cannon Falls and a certain photographer who has horses.  A couple years ago I used to have a “blog” about the happenings in our town that I read on another program on that station.

I made some new friends too.  One is Pat Greene of Raw Bistro.   She explained to the guests before we went on a tour that the facility makes dog food as carefully as they would for human consumption.  They base their sourcing of quality ingredients from local or regional producers.
Actually, they have animal products that are more nutritional than some of my favorite human snacks.
It could be that our animals are fed better than we humans are.  

Actually that’s not a new idea.  You don’t want a sick or weak animal.
And I have often thought that mine are healthy because I don’t give them a choice as to what they can eat!    
Perhaps I need a “farmer” who is as strict with me!
Food for thought anyway.

Now this is not the end of the story... this weekend, Ferndale Market’s Five Year Anniversary Open House is coming up with more treats!

Look forward to meeting friends there too.

A fun “country” way to party!


Sunday, September 22, 2013

My "Diamond Jubilee" 

 75th Birthday Wish for YOU! 

       (Photos from video production of a queen from history - although the tiara is plastic! Fun!)


Thursday, September 19, 2013

Strong words... but better!

The words you say…  

                may surprise even you!

The fence post had rotted in the horse pasture alongside our road and needed to be replaced.  I got out the post hole digger and was glad I remembered we had a “hot wire” along the fenceline so I went to the barn to turn off the electric fencer as I headed out.

We hadn’t had much rain and since it was such sandy soil I went back again for water to pour into the hole as I dug so the sand wouldn’t keep falling back into it.

A while later Paul came driving by on the road and slowed down to tell me he was going to the workout center.  I stood up and paused and thought - I’ve got 40 acres of “work out center” right here.

He must have thought it over too and said, should I help you?
Good thought!

Paul’s extra strength in digging the hole made quick work of the project.  Until he decided to put the seven foot wooden post into the hole... and he didn’t notice where I was standing... and I got clobbered on the head!

My doctor had warned me when I had gotten hurt previously to wear my riding helmet when sawing down branches.  But there wasn’t a tree around the fence.

So why wear one?
Now I know!

At that point I just walked away, clutching my head because I thought it must be pouring out blood and if I didn’t die I would probably be incapacitated and immobile... 

My neighbor had been hit in the head with a tree branch and for months was in a coma... hospital... recuperating.

My teenage granddaughter was still recovering from a concussion from a soccer game... months earlier... having only half days at school... headaches... etc.

And maybe that’s why I just kept saying, “Go ‘way... go ‘way...”  

(“Minnesotan” for “get out of here!")
I thought I meant Paul.

I know I appreciated him digging the hole faster than I could but I didn’t realize how tricky it can be when working with another person.   Like earlier in the day when we were fixing a wire by the gate and Paul’s finger got squished when I was holding onto some tool.

But mainly I am surprised at my verbal response of just saying “Go ‘way.”!

I know many other words I could have been saying.
That would have been appropriate in my mind.

But this is better. 

  P.S.  Of course the next day when watching the last minute of the Minnesota Vikings football game on TV I decided to just walk away from it.   They were winning by six points.  But the other team had the ball...  you probably know what happened.

Yes, it was better that I didn’t watch.

 I might have remembered some other words a little stronger than: “Go ‘way!”



Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Scary scenario - late at night.

Honest - I didn’t do 
     anything wrong!

My “friends” on Facebook are having a good time teasing me about my recent post.  I thought you’d get a chuckle too.

Here’s the background for the story...
Paul and I were coming back from Wisconsin late Sunday night.  It was my turn to drive so he pulled over to the side of Highway 52 a few miles north of Cannon Falls.

I got in behind the wheel and was fixing my seatbelt when I saw lights coming through my rear window.
That was kind of creepy.

I didn’t know who it was.
There weren’t many cars on the road.
I hadn’t been driving so I figured I hadn’t done anything wrong.   

Were they going to hijack us?
(I know - I can come up with a lot of scary scenarios at night!)

I just sat in the driver’s seat trying to figure out what to do - run or fight or just be confused?
I chose the last one - confusion - it comes naturally to me.

I’m not sure what the Dakota County deputy sheriff was thinking but a couple moments later she pulled up next to my window.
We both rolled them down to talk.

And here is what I posted on Facebook:
“If anyone saw my car pulled over to the side of Highway 52 late last night... with a deputy sheriff's car right behind me... don't worry!  Paul and I had decided to “change drivers” on our way home.  After I had gotten in the driver's side, a patrol car saw us. They pulled up along side and said they just wanted to know if we were OK! Then they pulled behind us so we would have more light when getting back on the road. That was thoughtful. Thanks Dakota County!”

But my “friends” on Facebook may not have “bought” my story!  Twila Simonson  wrote: “Good ‘story’ Rosie... but we’ll be checking the papers to confirm this is true!”
And Jackie Peterson said:  “Ohhhh... I gotta remember that one!” 

It sure is good to know you’ve got friends who trust you!
(Love you guys!)

Monday, August 26, 2013

War and the dedication of those who served... Cannon Falls Military History Museum

  "Train for war… but pray for peace."
The estimated survival rate of a “tail gunner” - the man operating a machine gun in the tight rear compartment of a B17 airplane in WWII - was seven missions.  But Army Staff Sergeant John Cockriel lasted through 50 of them and came back home again.
Vince Cockriel has the uniform of his Uncle John on display at his recently opened Cannon Falls Military History Museum a few miles southwest of Cannon Falls at 33504 Warsaw Trail.

The display shows Vince’s dedication to honor the men and women who valiantly served their country.
Vince explained that John, “hit all the big ones.”  He bombed in front of the invasion of Normandy and at Anqio and on and on.  “He was  typical of the WWII era ... sacrificing, unselfish -  they didn’t expect a lot.
“Not only the men but the women sacrificed equally as much... either as nurses or correspondents or on the homefront.”

Vince explained his family’s role in the military.  His two grandfathers were in WWI.  Then his father, five uncles and one aunt were in WWII.  Later, six cousins and Vince himself were in Vietnam.  And three nephews were in the Gulf Wars.  

Recently at his museum, WWII reenactors explained the importance of recognizing the valor of these military heroes.  They help you step back in time - to the 1940’s - to get the feel of those tense and tragic times.

Alissa and Paul Wirth from Hastings, MN portray a war correspondent and a member of the 117th Infantry Regiment.  Alissa explained how only about 259 women were correspondents compared to a thousand or so men.  But they wrote about the fighting men they met and folks back home read their stories and in that way they would know their loved ones were still alive... at least at that time.  
Women also had to deal with the male attitude prevalent in some units.  For example, women became pilots but they were mainly based in the U.S.

  Paul Wirth explained that his reenactment character would have enlisted soon after the Pearl Harbor attack and then landed in Normandy on D Day.  Paul describes some of the dangers they encountered like the wire stretched out when landing at Normandy that cut off body parts.  And although a “Command Car” was supposed to be used for officers, it was soon noticed that the Germans had discovered this and would target them.   It was safer not to ride in them.

  Paul continued that even though they knew that “every step could be your last...  we always thought we would come home.”

Another reenactor, First Sergeant Steve Landgraf, wanted to clarify what war is really like.  He explained, watching war on TV is all “shoot-em up”.   “But it’s not glamourous... it’s horrible.”  

“It’s a shame we ever have to have a war.”  Steve concluded: “As the saying goes: You train for war but you pray for peace.”  At least today there is patriotism back in America... so please...when you see a someone who has served... "just say thank you.”

And we also say “Thank you” to Vince for reminding us of all who served so valiantly.