Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Highview Hills in Lakeville

"When I was a child and we put up loose hay on our farm, my job was to tramp the hay down on the wagon," Mary Olson explains casually to Nancy and me, as she starts to pull up her left sleeve to expose a long scare on the underside of her arm, near her elbow.
"This is where my dad accidentally put the hay fork."

She's grinning so we laugh too.
"Did they take you to a doctor?" I ask, expecting the answer to be negative.
"No," she says.

Friday, December 24, 2010

A Christmas Tradition

Expressions on faces of children as they listen to a story.

Tierney with her new book, A Farm Country Christmas Eve.

If you look at the pictures, you will easily figure out why for eleven consecutive years I've made it a Christmas Tradition to perform my Christmas book for third graders at Big Woods Elementary, St. Michael, MN, and Otsego Elementary, Elk River, MN.  The response is a storyteller's dream.

This year we added Fieldstone Elementary, which is also at St. Michael. On Monday, December 20, we did two shows at Fieldstone in the morning and two shows at Otsego Elementary in the afternoon.
On Tuesday morning we did two shows at Big Woods Elementary School.

The weather may have been nasty, but everyone seemed to have fun. Check the pictures of kids on the following pages.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tracy Library, Tracy, MN

We had been scheduled to perform A Farm Country Christmas Eve at the Library in Tracy, Minnesota, on Monday, November 29, but since they were experiencing blizzard conditions in the prairie town and it was snowing like crazy at our place, I called to postpone the event.
Even I get an attack of good sense once in a while.

Jamie Verdeck, the librarian at Tracy, was kind enough to reschedule us for Saturday, December 18, 2010, at 1:00 PM.
The weather provided us a scenic, winter wonderland for our three-hour drive.                                      
A lone tree flourishes without competition in the center of prairie farmland. 

Everyone who lives there knows, you do not need new snow to create hazardous driving conditions. All that is needed is a brisk wind and loose snow on the ground, so as we drive toward Tracy, we are very conscious of the wind, and we hope that drifting will diminish for our trip home.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Lakeville Senior Center, December

Since my stories in my books are based on my experiences of growing up on a farm five miles west of Lakeville, Minnesota, I feel a special kinship to audience members when I am performing at Lakeville Senior Center. My Heritage is their Heritage.
Before Thanksgiving this year we did my story A Farm Country Thanksgiving at the Lakeville Senior Center, and on Friday, December 17, 2010, we did a 45-minute show which included my story A Farm Country Christmas Eve.  Since some students from Kenwood Trail Elementary School were in the audience, Santa stopped by or a visit after the show.

Santa with children.

Santa with Nancy and me.

Santa with Linda Walter and me.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Coming Home in the Snow storm

I have no photos for this one. Things were too tense.

On Saturday, December 11, we're at the Maplewood Mall trying to sell books when the word comes down that the Mall of America closed because of the snowstorm. A few minutes later at 2:40 PM, we hear that Maplewood Mall will close at 3:00 PM.

Nanc and I pack up faster than Minnesotans winning a free trip to Florida, but when we get to the parking lot we have to deal with the challenge of carrying our heavy tables and cartons of books through thigh-high drifts and then loading everything into our Explorer. Our two-wheeler becomes a burden to carry instead of something to carry our burden. More than once I utter, "I'm too old for this ------."

Escaping the parking lot is fraught with excitement. Four-wheel drive vehicles scramble in every direction to find an open exit. I follow a guy with a big white pickup. When we finally turn onto I-694, all we can do is line up behind others. I question the sanity of getting on the freeway, but I cannot readily think of an alternative.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


It's not too late! 
Dakota City's popular "Christmas in the Village" is open this Saturday and Sunday from 1:00 PM to 8:00 PM. Treat your entire family to a Christmas in a village from the early 1900s, except this one is lit up to enhance beauty, modern Christmas cheer, and , oh yes, safety. These photographs are from last weekend.
C'mon, you know you can't resist a walk through winter wonderland, especially when a warm wood-burning stove awaits you in the next building, just 20 yards away, or when you can ride on a trolley pulled by a team of beautiful horses.
Here's the train depot. You can open the door and walk in just by clicking below. Then you view more pictures and read more details.. It's like stepping into a perfect winter scene on a post card.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Hector Historical Center, a Fundraiser

What's different when we do a show to kick off a fund-raiser?
Probably the only difference you would notice is that you won't see Nancy selling the books; instead, a member of the sponsoring organization is collecting the money, and the organization pays us about what a bookstore would pay us for the books they sell.
A relevant question here is, "Why would we do this?"

First, our goal is to tell the local story of rural America with accuracy and humor. We believe that preserving stories of the true heritage of the small farm is important and to do so we need to get the books out there.
Well, who better to sell "heritage" to people than people who are already focused on preserving heritage, like museums, historical centers, or people involved in creating the farm heritage of the future, like FFA, 4-H, or elementary students.
Like most of you, Nancy and I buy a number of items from students for fund-raisers: magazines, cookie dough, wreaths, wrapping paper, more magazines, and coupons. I'm not knocking any of these items for any reason at all, but I can say that none of these items represent the rural heritage like our books do.
Our books are collector items that are meant to be passed on from generation to generation. I don't think most other fund-raisers sell those kinds of products.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Pinewood Elementary, Monticello, MN

Why do you suppose second graders are holding up two fingers?
No, it's not because they are in grade two.
Just as the other groups of students in k-2 below, these students hold up two fingers to copy what Nancy does in the story If I Were A Farmer: Nancy's Adventure when she teaches a newborn calf to drink out of a pail.