Monday, June 30, 2014

Valkommen Hem to Minnesota

   After a series of poor harvests in the 1850s, Swedes began to join the wave of immigrants coming to Minnesota.  Cheap travel was available on ships carrying iron ore to New York -- only $12 for a trip that took about 7 weeks. Seventy-five percent were unemployed farmers and some found homes in a fertile area of Minnesota, naming their town Vasa after the Swedish royal family.

   The town is mostly gone, but an old schoolhouse and one residence have been made into a small museum where you can imagine what life was like for these brave families.

    All items in the museum are from homes in Vasa.  They are explained with sweet handwritten tags, many in old and shaky handwriting.

Wood stoves for cooking and heating
 How many buckets would you have to heat on the stove to fill the tub for the family's Saturday night bath?
Tall, steep stairs
to the family bedroom.
Hmmm . . . I think these would have been hidden away under the bed.
Tak sa mycket for reading my blog! 


Friday, June 27, 2014

Prairie Storms

The skies are wide on the prairie.  As a storm rolls and roils in, you can see it coming for miles.

"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to DANCE in the RAIN."

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Celebrating Summer, Small Town Style

  Summer is so precious Up North because it's so short and we wait for it for so long.  So, we take every opportunity we can to celebrate outdoors. Every little town, it seems, can find something that sets them apart from the others, get together a committee, and put on a festival.

   Ellsworth, Wisconsin, has a cheese factory that has become well known for its delicious cheese curds and their festival is called -- you guessed it! -- the Cheese Curd Festival.

Here are the ladies getting those curds ready for sale.  Fresh from the vat, still warm, and soooo squeeky when you bite them.  You have to make someone else hold the bag for awhile in order to stop eating them.
So, how do you turn everyday cheese into a celebration?
You need booths of people selling those things they have been making all winter.  Best if you can market to the local sports fans!
Something fun for the kids to do
Artists . . .
. . . making yard art
Fried food with lots of calories and cholesterol 
Local music, and of course, dessert -- a maple ice cream cone from the Wisconsin maple syrup people, who bring you everything maple including maple milk shakes and maple root beer floats!  


Monday, June 23, 2014

Swedish Vasa

   Vasa, Minnesota, was one of the first Swedish settlements in Minnesota.  A group of them came from Indiana in 1855, searching for a better climate as they believed Indiana was too warm and people needed a more sensible six months of winter to be healthy.  They certainly found that here!

   Led by Lutheran minister Eric Norelius's group to an area reminiscent of their lives in Sweden, most Swedish immigrants to America would soon choose Minnesota as their new home. 
Today, like so many small towns in America, the highway bypasses Vasa and it isn't even a town anymore.  There are no photos of its earliest days, but this is one artist's view.

The church still rides the tallest hill, and near it are the  school and grave digger/church janitor's old home, both a museum today.
The early settlers traveled by oxcart, and amazingly, this one has been preserved and is on display in the museum.
Most walked much of the distance  to Minnesota in their homemade shoes to save the strength of the oxen.  They were sturdy people -- look at the size of these shoesBehind is a photo of the man who made and wore these.

I was intrigued that such a small settlement of a couple hundred could muster a community band with uniforms, concerts, and a little bandstand between church and school. 
Of the old town itself, nothing remains today except the old Vasa creamery and a handful of the beautiful old houses.

Thank you for visiting my blog today.  I love to your comments and I will visit you in return.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Midsommersdag and a Bargain

Here's to the Summer Solstice!
(or Midsommersdag in Scandinavian Minnesota)

To start the day, strawberries, picked with the dew still on them.
Right into the bowl with a little cream, a lovely view, and a nice cup of tea.
And now the bargain.  I was out for a bike ride and passed a little home having an estate sale.  The grown daughters and granddaughters were selling the contents and moving their dad into an assisted living apartment. 

Dad was in the garage, looking sad and wanting to visit.  I picked out a breakfast tea tin from England because the tin looked old, and as soon as I picked it up, the man began to tell me stories of their travels.  He was a former watch repairman and he asked me to wait while he went and found something to show me.  He came back with a 4 inch tall Eiffel Tower clock.  I listened to his stories for quite awhile and then went on my way with the clock and the tea tin for $1.50.  

Oh, yes, the bargain.  When I got home I found that the tin was still sealed and filled with the original tea, which is still really quite good.   But the best part of the bargain was the trade of a few good stories--his-- for the pleasure--both mine and his-- of someone to listen to them, a sweet bargain for both of us.

It's hot, the sun's out, I'm off to a cheese festival.
How do you celebrate the longest day?

Friday, June 20, 2014


 "Every morning when we wake up, we have 24 brand new hours to live.  What a precious gift."
Thich Nhat Hanh


We have had a record amount of rain so far for the year and, with four more inches yesterday, the total for June is 11 inches. Rivers and roads, fields and even lakeshores are flooded.  But today, we are promised some sun!

See the tiny black specks?  Tadpoles, thousands of them.  Although you can't see them because of the reflection, there are also larvae of Minnesota's unofficial "state bird" swimming around in there -- the mosquito.  Because of all the rain, there is a bumper crop of these tormenters.

Most of my peonies were beaten down by the rain to a sad and soggy state.  This is the last one to bloom and it is perfuming my whole house from a vase in the livingroom.  I could even smell it as I fell asleep last night.


Field of flax

Tomorrow is midsommersdag,  already the summer half gone where I live.

I wonder what today will bring to love and enjoy and say yes! to.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Street Art

Here's a medium you don't often see in the art world:  pottery (etc.) on moving vehicle. 


In case you were doubtful that it is art, it's spelled out for you.
Been there, bought the ... plate.

Have a fun and fanciful day! 
I love to read your comments and visit your blog in return.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Father's Day Memories

   It's Father's Day in the US today. I lost my dad a couple years ago, and my grandpa several years before that, but I have sweet memories of them to treasure forever.


My dad and me. 
Dad came home from the war, married and had a child pretty quickly.  Like most dads of those days, his job in the family was to earn a living and he was gone a lot in my early years, working and also building a house for us to live in with his own hands.  

Later, "Papa" to my girls. Now he was the fun guy who always had time for games and treats and holding on laps. 
My grandpa and me. He kept chickens, gave me rides in the wheelbarrow, and broke up Hershey's chocolate bars to share.  He always had doublemint gum in his pocket.  I was his shadow and I adored him. 

One of our last Christmases together.  An orphan, he was mistreated and had to work and support himself from a very young age.  Still, he was the happiest guy, always laughing, telling a story, appreciating life. 
So, Happy Father's Day wishes and thanks to dads everywhere!  And happy memories-in-the-making to the children.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Mushroom Log

  I've been coveting a mushroom log for years, but it sounded so complicated.  A watering/not watering schedule.  An even temperature of 60 degrees or something, impossible where I live.  But when Mushroom Guy appeared at the farmers' market with birch logs innoculated with mushroom spores, I was a goner! 

   Then the log just sat there in the garden for a year, and I gave up hope.  There was $12 ill-spent.... 

Imagine my glee when the snow left after our terrible, cold winter, spring arrived . . .

 and I noticed the log was sprouting mushrooms!

Even at $4 each, these tasted lovely.
They aren't much less expensive at Mushroom Guy's market stand.