Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

How I spent my first weekend of spring April 29, 2013

Perennials are finally popping through the earth.

Perennials are finally popping through the earth in my yard.

SPRING OFFICIALLY SPRANG in southern Minnesota this weekend.

Yes, readers. No snow. Temps in the 70s, maybe even 80s. I should know, but I was too busy to check.

Flip flop weather, for sure.

Sunshine and windows thrown wide open to vent the stale winter air from the house.

Most of my weekend I labored outside, trying to make up for lost time, for all those weekends when snow and cold prohibited any sort of outdoor work.

I raked these leaves from backyard flower beds. Look at that lawn and the hillside. No snow. Anywhere.

I raked these leaves from backyard flower beds. Look at that lawn and the hillside. No snow. Anywhere.

I raked leaves from perennial flower beds.

And when I wasn’t raking, I was sanding a table for our son who moves into a Rochester apartment a week after my husband and I retrieve him from college in Fargo. He’s interning with IBM. The oak table, purchased at a thrift store for a song, needed refinishing.

Compare the two table halves, the left side stripped and sanded, the right side top, not.

Compare the two table halves, the left side stripped and sanded, the right side top, not.

Smokers owned the table. Do not ever, I repeat, ever, purchase a table owned by anyone who smoked cigarettes. Do you know how difficult it is to remove cigarette smoke odor and tar and nicotine build-up from wood? Nearly impossible.

I sanded the skin right off tiny sections of two fingers from the hours, and I do mean hours, I sanded. Take that times two, because Randy worked side-by-side with me. All the while I was thinking, if this cigarette-exposed wood looks like this, imagine a smoker’s body inside and out.

Lecture finished for today.

The Frankoma teapot I purchased.

The Frankoma teapot I purchased. There’ s a slight chip in the lid handle.

On the way to the paint store to purchase supplies for that table refinishing project, I stopped at a garage sale and picked up a beautiful Frankoma teapot. I seldom drink tea, but I loved the artful shape and simple style of this collectible.

As a bonus, Mike, the guy having the garage sale, told me about all the old Mason and other fruit jars he buys and rents out for weddings and/or sells after I noticed an oversized blue jar for sale.. Since my eldest daughter is getting married this fall and mentioned perhaps using fruit jars for flowers, I was interested. So Mike took me inside his old stone house and showed me his boxes upon boxes of jars.

Although the jars initially drew me inside, they were not the find of the day. In the corner of Mike’s living room stood a deer. Yes, readers, a deer. Dead, of course, and mounted. An entire deer, not just the head, although several deer heads are suspended from walls, too.

Totally creeped me out and I told Mike that. He may have laughed. I so regret leaving my camera at home.


Spring, grill

My husband grills year round, so there’s nothing unusual about him grilling this weekend. But focus on that landscape. No snow. Anywhere.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


25 Responses to “How I spent my first weekend of spring”

  1. Beth Ann Says:

    I LOVE THE TEAPOT!!!!!!!! I had to shout it!!! Lucky you!!!! The no snow look is fabulous!!! While you worked we played but hopefully I will get some work done this week until it gets cold again!! Blah. I was glad to read that Caleb will be doing the internship! Good for him! And he will love the table that you are working so hard on!!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      I knew I would hear that “love the teapot” comment from you. Do you have one at all like this, or a Frankoma?

      Yup, Caleb better appreciate the table because we have invested a lot of time in it. Varnishing starts today, when the temp gets warm enough. I have today and tomorrow to work on it before the cold roars in again. Sigh. I hope I have the table ready by moving day.

      • Beth Ann Says:

        I don’t have any Frankoma!!! I will admire yours from afar!!! I am sure Caleb has no clue….if he is the typical college guy, that is!!! 🙂

      • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

        At 19 they really do not understand. He told me last night, “That’s why you use an electric sander.” I tried to explain that the wood was uneven, the table has curves…

  2. Wasting no time in welcoming Spring – ha! Congrats to your son for landing a great intern position and getting a place of his own – growth is good! A whole deer – could not imagine – creepy. Happy Monday:)

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Yes, the internship is a wonderful opportunity. The good thing is that he will be only 60 miles away for three months instead of 300 miles away.

      • He should be PROUD – earned his spot! 60 miles is much better and you can make sure he is happy and eating well (bring him food stuffs if necessary).

      • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

        Yes, to land a computer programming internship after his freshman year of college speaks to my son’s skills and talents. I am proud of him. He’s already classified as a junior, credit wise, given all the Advanced Placement tests, CLEP test, Post Secondary Enrollment Option classes, Challenge by Exam, etc. that he took/passed. He likes to learn and highly-motivated to learn on his own rather than waiting for someone to teach him.

  3. cecilia Says:

    No snow.. anywhere.. JOY! I am so glad you are finally getting outside.. c

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      The only snow I’ve seen about town is in parking lots. JOY, yes, JOY at no snow within my line of vision.

  4. hotlyspiced Says:

    I’m so excited for you Audrey. I was concerned that snow was never going to leave! How quickly your landscape has changed. And I do love temps in the 80’s. You’re doing a great job with the table – your son is very blessed to have parents work so hard to help him get set up in an apartment xx

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Charlie, we were wondering, too, if the snow would ever stop. These past few days have been glorious. And we need to enjoy them, because come Wednesday, temps are supposed to dip back into the 40s and even possibly the high 30s.

      I started varnishing the table today and will work on it again tomorrow. But then the cold will put the project on hold again. I do hope Caleb appreciates our efforts. Thank you for recognizing our hard work.

  5. Jackie Says:

    You are a busy busy lady, the table looks good, hope you post the finished product. Such a labor of love! It really was a beautiful weekend to be outside and welcome the warmer temperature before they dive again on Wednesday.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Oh, yes, Jackie, a post will be forthcoming on the table. Now I need warm weather for several days to finish varnishing. No such luck, apparently.

  6. Marilyn Says:

    Lucky son, lovely Mom and Dad! NO snow – way to go!!

  7. M. Hatzel Says:

    We still have a few small snow piles, but we’re moving toward spring in Saskatchewan, too. My first house had been owned by a smoker. It was an ugly job to try to clean up. The carpets had to go, everything needed to be repainted. To this day, the smell of cigarette smoke reminds me of filthy yellow shag carpets.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      I do not think I could ever live in a house owned by smokers. I can only imagine the undertaking to make it habitable. This table has been quite the undertaking. Really, it became a challenge we were going to beat. A few times I was ready to burn the darned thing.

      Good to hear your snow piles are disappearing in Canada.

      • M. Hatzel Says:

        It looks beautiful, but I can understand the temptation to set it ablaze. I’m putting up some spring pictures tonight. We had rain this evening, which gave us some pretty skies.

      • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

        Well, the matching chairs may be set ablaze as the upholstered seats need to be replaced and foam cushions are ridiculously priced. Unless you or another reader has an idea how to get cigarette smoke smell out of foam cushions.

      • M. Hatzel Says:

        Foam… not a clue. That stuff holds odours unlike anything else. I once bought foam directly from an upholstery shop, which was much cheaper than buying it at a sewing supply store.

      • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

        Thanks for the suggestion. Never thought of an upholstery shop.

  8. A whole deer?! Crazy. Every time I find myself out and about without my camera – and regretting it – I think of you saying, “Never leave home without your camera, Gretchen!” 🙂

  9. […] to see Audrey from Minnesota Prairie Roots I was given a wonderful teapot that Audrey featured on her blog here that she found at a garage sale.  She parted with it and now it is in my collection along with a […]

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