I HAVE SEVERAL TOPICS on my mind today, all unrelated, but a trio of information I want to share.
First up, Aspelund Winery and Peony Gardens. This is one of my favorite rural Minnesota places to visit each June. On this 10-acre parcel of land just outside Aspelund (northeast of Kenyon or northwest of Wanamingo), Dawn and Bruce Rohl have created a little bit of heaven. Here they cultivate 50-plus varieties of peonies and also make wine. The couple are the most down-to-earth friendly folks. I always feel welcomed by them and their roaming dog, Rascal.
Now, with fragrant peony buds opening, is the absolute ideal time to visit Aspelund Peony Gardens and walk among the rows of flowers. I do so at a leisurely pace—dipping my nose into the perfumed petals, stopping to photograph these old-fashioned flowers that once graced many a bridal bouquet, noting the lovely shades of pink and crimson.
The gardens are also a business. The Rohls invite guests to stroll the gardens, then order peonies. In the fall, root peony tubers are available for customer pick-up or shipping. Gardens are open from 4-7 pm Thursday and Friday, from 10 am-7 pm Saturday and from 10 am-5 pm Sunday.
Be sure to order a glass of wine to enjoy on-site outdoors overlooking the scenic Zumbro River Valley. And then buy a bottle to take home.
Next up, Mailbox Mysteries created by OrangeGuy Games, aka Matt Stelter. During the pandemic, this Cannon Falls librarian crafted mysteries to mail to patrons stuck at home while the library was closed. It was a creative outreach program that I learned about while visiting Cannon Falls. I got on the mailing list for those mysteries and found them challenging, informative and a welcome escape from reality.
Now, with the library reopened, Stelter is no longer creating Mailbox Mysteries for the library. But he is selling his mysteries via Etsy through his private business, OrangeGuy Games. Given all the hard work, time and effort he invested in the games, simply letting them languish seems unwise. Thus the Etsy offering. His three mysteries—Spy School, Gangster’s Gold and Cypher Cabin—have been tweaked, updated, fine-tuned and improved. And they are half-price from now until the end of June.
Lastly, applications opened Wednesday for the Minnesota Frontline Worker Pay program for those who continued to go to their respective workplaces during the pandemic without the option of working from home. There are income and other guidelines.
I’m thankful this legislation finally got passed because, as the spouse of an employee whose job requires him to be present (in the automotive machine shop) and in close contact with co-workers and customers, the risk of getting COVID was (still is) real and concerning.
State officials expect approved applicants to get about $750/each in frontline worker pay, depending on number of qualified recipients. That’s not a lot considering the risk. But it’s something and will help us as Randy is now paying more to commute 30 miles to and from work daily. In less than three months, he won’t have that gas expense as he’s losing his job of 39 years under new company ownership.
And so that’s what’s on my mind today. Peonies. Mysteries. Pay. And a glass of wine.
© Copyright 2022 Audrey Kletscher Helbling
I love the peony garden and wine combo, seems like a natural fit. I also love the created mystery packages, so much time and effort clearly went into those and I’m glad he’s selling them on Etsy now. I’m glad the state understands and sees fit to reward those who put themselves at risk as they continued to do their jobs throughout the pandemic. I’m not glad about your husband’s loss of his job, even after all of that, and hope for the two of you to make it work
Peonies and wine are, indeed, a great combo. May head out to Aspelund this weekend.
Thank you for your concern about Randy’s job loss. Lots of uncertainties right now. It’s just been really hard to take after 39 years of hard work and loyalty.
Glad about that frontline pay. Not nearly enough but at least acknowledgement of a job well done during difficult times. I love seeing the pictures of Randy.
I agree that the pay is not nearly enough, but it’s something. I was thinking I really need to photograph Randy in the shop before his job ends. It’s been a long time since I last did that.
Thanks for the reminder of Aspelund Peony farm…maybe we’ll see you out there. 😉
Good to know about the frontline pay and that Randy will qualify.
I’m uncertain as to when we will head out to Aspelund…but, yes, maybe we will see you there. I can text you, but it likely would be last-minute.
Yes, all the NAPA employees should qualify for frontline pay.
I liked learning about Randy’s work and I think they are making a Huge error in letting him go. Such skill!(s)
Your library guy Matt is brilliant.
And your peony gardens most colorful and impressive.
I agree with you on Randy, Matt and the peonies. As far as Randy, I see him as a real asset to the business given the shop is profitable and brings in related parts sales. Closure of the automotive machine shop leaves garages, farm and car implement dealerships, farmers, walk-in customers and others with no (few) options. Randy is widely-known for his skills, talent, expertise, work, etc.
Audrey still sad to hear that such skill is not going to be available to farmers in your community. Randy’s skill sets are not something that can be replaced overnight. On the bright side… a new chapter in lifestyle will be ahead.
Learning from you, my friend. Thank you for your care and support.