Sunday, July 24, 2011

Enchanted Forest

Located in the historic and attractive Old Town Plaza area north of downtown Mankato, the Enchanted Forest sells quality locally-made crafts, Minnesota-authored books, a variety of other gifts, and ice cream. The store features Sitting Eagle Creations, which are locally made Native American crafts, some of which are made by the owners of the store.

Starting Saturday the store carries my books on consignment, and Nancy and I were invited to visit for a book-signing. The day was warm and windy and traffic was slow, but we met several people who took time to share their stories and buy a book.

The morning provided ample opportunity to visit with the owners and hear their stories. 
To my left above is Andrea and her sister Regina.
Below we see their niece Jessica behind the ice cream counter.  Jessica is a student at Mankato.
In the upper-right corner of the picture, hanging on the wall are Dream Catchers made by Andrea, which are just a few of the many unique items the store offers for sale.

In addition to the front entrance at 529 N. Riverfront Drive, the store has a handy side-door entrance off Elm Street which takes you right to the ice cream counter and the Sitting Eagle Creations display. 

I urge you to take a drive to Mankato, stop by the Enchanted Forest, visit with the friendly owners, and do a little shopping. You probably won't find a soda pop for a nickel as the large sign indicates, but you will find an interesting, historic atmosphere that offers unique selections.

Nancy and I wish to thank Andrea and Regina for inviting us to visit their store.

Photographs by Nancy A. Fredrickson

Friday, July 22, 2011

Grand Meadow Public Library

As we park by the  Community Center at Grand Meadow on Wednesday morning, we meet Alicia Baugh, the librarian who had arranged our visit to the Grand Meadow Library. It's about 9:30 AM and pleasant outside as we visit and she tells us some stories about growing up on the farm and her adventures with riding horses.

I'm doing a show that includes two of my books, If I Were a Farmer: Nancy's Adventure and A Farm Country Picnic. Some children come early and seat themselves on the floor.

A few gather under the projector table but move up after I start the show.

Families tell me they like the show and I get to sign some books.

Thanks to Librarian Alicia Baugh for arranging our visit to Grand Meadow and for taking the time to visit with us before and after the show.

Photographs by Nancy A. Fredrickson

Thursday, July 21, 2011

University of Minnesota-Rochester

Honestly, I felt honored at the opportunity to speak at UMR CONNECTS, a weekly outreach program that features Minnesota Authors during July of 2011. The programs are always scheduled to be held outdoors at the Peace Plaza on UMR Campus in downtown Rochester, but Tuesday's heat and humidity caused them to move the program to roomy, air-conditioned room on the 4th floor. No one complained.
 Director of Outreach, Teresa Puetz, introduces me before my program, which includes my new book, A Farm Country Picnic. Teresa grew up on a farm and lives on that same farm with her family today.
After the show, Teresa had me draw the names for door prizes. Winners got to choose prizes which included a couple of my books and a gift certificate.
First prize winner has me sign a copy of Field Work while she tells me some interesting stories of growing up on a sandy farm in Wisconsin.

Nancy and I wish to thank Executive Office and Administrative Specialist Mary DeWitt for coordinating the event. Mary says she has fond memories of time spent on the farm of her grandparents.
Special thanks to Outreach Director Teresa Puetz for inviting us to the event and taking the time to visit with us before and after the show. It's good to know that people leading outreach programs have enthusiasm for the farm. 
Also, thanks to Greg, the on-duty technician who spent the evening ensuring that all things electronic worked in our favor. Greg grew up on a farm in Iowa and his father still farms the place. Nancy and I enjoyed visiting with him before the show as he helped set up the equipment.

It gave us real joy to experience the close connection to the farm with these UMR professionals.

Photographs by Nancy A. Fredrickson

Friday, July 15, 2011

It's been a year.

It's been a year since David H. Jewell passed away on July 15, 2010. David illustrated three of my books in the If I Were a Farmer series. On July 19, 2010, I posted a short tribute to him, which is available to read in the archives.

Since Nancy and I daily sell books containing my stories and his illustrations, and since customers often ask questions about the illustrators, we talk of David often, lamenting his passing but expressing our good luck at meeting him and having him complete illustrations for three of my books.

David loved little kids and I often hoped he could come along with Nancy and me when we performed our show, but either he was busy working or "busy" recovering from an episode with his diabetes.

When I sign books for little kids, I often think of how David would've enjoyed doing so, but never have I wished him present at a book signing more than when Nancy and I were at the Lonsdale Library last Tuesday evening.

A very friendly, astute girl of about 9-11 years named Angela bought my book If I Were a Farmer: Nancy's Adventure and brought it to me to sign as I was talking to some audience members. Even though she seemed to be in a hurry, she politely waited before she asked me to sign it.  I recognized her as the child who had asked some pretty good questions immediately after my show. She asked me to address the autograph to her and her two younger brothers.

She seemed to really embrace the book and I thought how David would have been gratified at how much kids like the story and the illustrations. The character of Nancy in the story was the first thing David and I had worked on together. I loved the way he drew her as an assertive little girl who could tackle anything. Everyone, especially little girls, seem to love her spunk. Little boys seem to like her too.

On the drive home, my wife Nancy explained to me that Angela and her younger brother came on their own. She purchased the book with her own money by handing Nancy a five dollar bill, two one dollar bills, and then three hands full of change, each containing a dollar. She apologized for all the change, which included many pennies, but she had needed to use it to get the ten dollars for the book. Nancy had explained the change was not a problem, thanked her for the purchase, and sent her over to me to get the book signed. Before she left to get the book signed, she asked for another free sticker for her younger brother who could not come to the show.

The whole episode with Angela would have made David's day, as it did mine and Nancy's.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Lonsdale Public Library

Lonsdale has a beautiful new library with a large activities room. The library is connected to senior assisted living, which makes it handy for the seniors to use library facilities and attend any programs the library offers. The result was that we had quite a few of the seniors attend our show, A Farm Country Picnic,  in the library's activity room on July 12, 2011.
Before the show, Library Director Diana Tallent introduced me to the audience. She is originally from Atlanta, Georgia, and seems to enjoy her role as library director at Lonsdale.

Audience members were a mixture of the very young to very senior, and they provided lively comments and responses throughout the show. It was a fun 45-50 minutes for me as they listened to me show them the real-life farm elements in each of my books.

After the show both Nancy and I answered lots of questions as people stayed to chat. Questions came from adults and from the very young. Since the library is conveniently located near family housing, young children and their parents walked to the show. Some young children came on their own. A wonderful child named Angela came with her little brother Jonathan and visited with me as I signed the book she purchased with her own money.

Nancy and I want to thank Kym El-Wailli for arranging our visit and helping us set up and Director Diana Tallent for greeting us, giving us a tour of the library, and ensuring that we had everything we needed. We had fun visiting with both ladies as we prepared our equipment before the show.

Photographs by Nancy A. Fredrickson

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Valley Natural Foods visit

Since Nancy acquired allergic reactions to a number of food ingredients nearly a decade ago, we have done much of our grocery shopping at Valley Natural Foods in Burnsville, where they offer abundant choices of all kinds of foods without some of the suspected additives that cause her pain.

When Erin Edholm, Promotions and Education Coordinator at the Burnsville Store of Valley Natural Foods, asked me to do a show during their free children's program, which encourages healthy living for children, I was thrilled to have an opportunity to perform at the store. They scheduled me for 1:00 PM and 3:00 PM shows on Monday, July 11, 2011.

Their program to encourage kids to eat right is new so we didn't expect big crowds, but many shoppers came with their children and some were able to stay for my show. The kids liked the free stickers and their moms generously purchased books for them.

My cousin Evie brought several of her grandchildren to see the second show about a half hour early so we were able to get a picture with them before others arrived.

A day care provider brought her group and generously bought some books for the kids. You can see the kids liked to wear our free stickers in the picture above and the picture below captures them feeling the oats in the coffee can.

I thank Erin Edholm and her manager Charli Mills for inviting me to be part of their program to encourage kids to eat better. The four-week program continues through July 27th. Kids can pick up a Free Fruit Coupon each week in the store's wellness department. The healthy living program is called "5-2-1-0" because the first week the kids are encouraged to eat 5 daily servings of fruits and vegetables, the second week to limit their screen time to two hours, the third week to get 1 hour of exercise, and the 4th week to consume 0 sugary drinks.

Erin indicated they may have me back to do another show before Halloween or Thanksgiving. Check my event schedule at if you would care to attend. I'll post the dates as soon as we confirm them.

Photographs by Nancy A. Fredrickson

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Chatfield Public Library

Friday, July 8, 2011, our early morning drive to Chatfield, Minnesota, is lovely. Corn is nearly hip-high, fog hangs in the lowlands, and the smell of cut hay permeates the country air. It doesn't get any better than this.
But wait!  Yes, it does!

For me, nothing is a greater thrill than talking to families after the show. Seeing parents with their children enjoying a story that brings together their experiences about farming gratifies and encourages me in my work.  Above, the Koenig family members each get a book as Mrs. Koenig tells of their farm activities.
Below, parents and grandparents watch with their children as I do a program which includes my book, If I Were a Farmer: Nancy's Adventure, at the Chatfield Public Library, Chatfield, MN.

Monica Erickson, the Director of the library, snaps a photo during the show.
The Chatfield Public Library is located downtown across from a park. 
The area has a rich history, which is partially summarized on a sign outside the library.

I'd like to thank Children's Library Programmer Kay Kirtz for arranging our visit to Chatfield, Kristi for showing us the facilities, and Monica for helping us prepare the activities room and having us do the show at the library. We especially appreciated Monica generously spending time visiting with us before and after the show.
We hope to return soon.

Photographs by Nancy A. Fredrickson

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Belle Plaine Public Library

 According to Librarian Georgine Gansen, June marked 100 years of library service to the Belle Plaine community, and when she emailed me last February to ask me to do a show at the library, I was happy to comply. Although Belle Plaine is over 30 miles from my place, I still consider it part of my "home town" territory. Our show was scheduled for 4:00 PM on June 29, 2011.
Access was easy and we set up quickly, but when it was time to start, no audience had assembled.
Outside, the weather was warm and pleasant, and I had noticed the municipal swimming pool was full of kids when we had driven by earlier. I started to doubt that anyone would come inside to see my show on such a nice afternoon.
Nancy and I decided to wait about 15 minutes before tearing down and packing up.

But then two mothers came with their children.
Although the numbers were small, the audience was very appreciative.

Both mothers were farmers and/or grew up on a farm and told me they enjoyed the show.
The children queried their parents about the farm activities as shown in my book immediately after the show.
With no audience assembled less than an hour earlier, I had not expected to be signing any books, but after the show, the mothers and their children were kind to indulge me in my favorite pastime. 

I wish to thank Georgine Gansen for inviting us to perform at Belle Plaine Public Library. Nancy and I enjoyed visiting the town and talking to audience members, and we especially thank the mother who attended the show with their children and stayed to chat with us after the show.

Photographs by Nancy A. Fredrickson

Friday, July 1, 2011

Something Cool To Remember

Since I expect it to be hot today, I get up early and take care of my outside work so I can get into the house by 3:00 PM, the hottest part of the day. Now, I sit in air-conditioned comfort as I write, while my new thermometer, which I got for Christmas last year, reads about 96 degrees in the shade of my porch. Nancy tells me of a FB posting of 100 degrees in a town nearby.

Sure I like the outdoors, but when it is really hot or really cold, I prefer to be inside.

Let me remind you of cooler times. On Monday, February 21, 2011, I sat at this same station, feeling pretty smug about being cozy and warm as a snowstorm raged outside. Many people had to go to work, but since it was President's Day, many people could stay home.

As the day passed, I started to feel a little less smug as the drift outside my window grew to be a bit intimidating, and I feared that I would have to shovel snow off the roof when the storm eased up.
Pictures above and below show the view outside my window next to my computer. My rose bushes are somewhere under the drift.

From the outside, it looks like a stalactite and a stalagmite formation in a cave. The stalagmite drift from the ground might grow to meet the stalactite drift peeking over the edge of the roof.

In this picture you see that the wind kindly blew the snow off the roof, leaving me very little to shovel.

I handled all my snow removal with the tractor. I even drove over my rose bushes and blew out the drift by my window.

It didn't seem to hurt the rose bushes because they are doing very well this year,  as long as I remember to water them in this heat.

Photographs by Nancy A. Fredrickson