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.”