Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Choosing a door November 9, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 2:49 PM
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See these weather-beaten, 1960s or 1970s vintage doors?

I'm selecting a new door to replace the wooden entry door on the right. Once the new door is installed, I'll choose a storm door.

I am ashamed to admit that these are the front doors on my house.

No one would argue that they need replacing. My husband and I are in the process of selecting new doors. We’ve chosen the brand and are working with John from a local lumberyard.

John is a patient man. But today I sensed that he is becoming impatient with me when I told him, once again, that I’m not quite ready to order the entry door. (We haven’t even discussed storm doors.) I can’t decide whether I want a single window, windows or no windows in the door.

My biggest dilemma, however, lies in choosing colors for the door, which will be factory-painted. My husband insists on this.

Do I choose one paint color for both sides of the steel-clad entry door? Or, do I select different colors? What color/colors are your door?

My friend Mike, who is a designer, suggested that we choose white for the exterior-facing side since the trim on our new windows will be white. He mentioned to me, however, how he dislikes the white door in his living room. Would I like a white door in my beige living room? I plan to eventually repaint that room.

So, readers, what would you do? I welcome any advice you can offer me on door colors and door windows (or not). And, as long as we’re on the topic of doors, what would you choose in hardware? A knob, handle, pull?

Please hurry with your answers. John from the lumber yard is waiting.


© Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


Saving barns

EVEN THOUGH I HAVE NOT lived in the country since I was 17, I still define myself by my rural roots, my Minnesota prairie roots.

Those formative years of connecting to the land shaped and defined me as a person and as a writer.

Picking rocks, walking beans, doing chores, tending the garden—all taught me the value of good, honest labor. I will always appreciate my rural upbringing.

Clearly, I value the family farm. I also value barns, which possess a nostalgic hold on me. I love to photograph them, even if only in passing from a car window.



I photographed this barn in the Hammond/Zumbro Falls area along Wabasha County Road 70 in October.




Another Wabasha County barn.



A quick shot of a barn along Minnesota Highway 60 somewhere between Faribault and Wanamingo.


Unfortunately, many barns today are falling into piles of rotting lumber. Landowners cannot always afford to maintain them or choose not to maintain them.

But many barns have been beautifully-restored, sometimes converted to new uses. Organizations like Friends of Minnesota Barns support efforts to save barns as part of our rural heritage.

This Saturday the FoMB will hold its annual Barn of the Year Awards Reception from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m. at the historic Brandtjen Farm Barn, 16965 Brandtjen Farm Drive, Lakeville. The 80-year-old dairy barn has been renovated as a clubhouse and community and recreation center for the Spirit of Brandtjen Farm housing development.

Barns contending for the 2010 award are owned by Paul Anderson of Pope County, John Lavander and Nan Owen of Isanti County, Eric and Shelly Liljequist of Wright County, and Lyle and Ann Meldahl of Fillmore County.

If you’re interested in attending this event, which includes a social hour, a tour of the Brandtjen barn, a talk by Minnesota Secretary of State and FoMB member Mark Ritchie and presentation of the Barn of the Year Awards, visit the FoMB website. Reservation deadline is November 10.

© Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling