Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

About this blog & commenting here August 10, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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That’s my post, labeled “Barn Memories,” published on November 30, 2013, on Freshly Pressed, a feature of WordPress, my blogging platform.  My work has been highlighted on FreshlyPressed thrice. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

 

I’M NOT A PARTICULARLY opinionated person, at least not publicly. I mostly steer from conflict, discord and disagreement. I’m more the mediator type, the “let’s work things out” and treat others with kindness and respect. That includes the topics I generally cover here on this blog. My blog.

In recent weeks, several particularly mean-spirited comments filtered into this site. They were inflammatory and accusatory and just plain awful, with some directed at me personally. I chose not to publish them. I refuse to allow this blog, my blog, to become a platform for hatred, false accusations and unproven allegations.

Yes, I’m aware some may term this as censorship or a denial of free speech. I have worked as a newspaper reporter and value freedom of the press. Suppression of the media rankles me. In recent months the media have been under intense attack unlike anything I recall. This scares me. Freedom of the press is essential in a democracy. I hope the general public understands that.

We may not like what the media report. But we also need to stop blaming the messengers for the news they deliver. They are just doing their jobs.

That brings me back to Minnesota Prairie Roots. This blog is not mainstream media. No one pays me to write here. I earn some income from photos that people/businesses/organizations find here and buy from me and also from writing jobs tracing to this blog. But I am not on anyone’s payroll nor do I have an agenda other than to share my images and words with you. Writing and photography are my passions.

If you choose to submit hateful, accusatory and inflammatory comments, I won’t publish them. This is my blog. It’s as simple as that. I won’t bend my values, morals and beliefs.

To the many faithful readers and commenters who write with respect, thank you. I appreciate you and value your thoughts.

© Copyright 2017 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Thanks for great friends, a grandbaby on the way & no more mice November 26, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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I created this Thanksgiving display in a stoneware bowl. My sister-in-law Rena created the Thanksgiving card.

I created this Thanksgiving display in a stoneware bowl. My sister-in-law Rena crafted the Thanksgiving card.

DURING THIS THANKSGIVING WEEK, thoughts naturally turn to, well, thankfulness.

Life has presented numerous challenges in recent years. But I still have many reasons to give thanks. Like most of you, the obvious food and shelter cannot be omitted from my list of blessings along with my family, my dear dear family.

The extended Kletscher family poses for a photo on the Fourth of July. Seven are missing.

The extended Kletscher family poses for a photo on the Fourth of July 2015. Seven are missing. My nephew’s wife, in the purple-and-white striped shirt, gave birth to a daughter in August. Hattie joins two other great nieces, Sierra and Evelyn, born this year. What a blessing to have all of these new babies on both sides of the family. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2015.

In five more months, my immediate family will grow in size as my eldest daughter and her husband welcome their first baby, my first grandbaby. Excited? Yes, you betcha.

I just know that my husband, Randy, will be a wonderful grandpa. He’s not the most demonstrative with words or emotions. But when it comes right down to it, he’s as good as they come. He works hard. He’s loyal and strong and smart. And funny. He makes me laugh. That is a blessing. Plus, he’s great with kids. Our 2 1/2-year-old nephew Landon, who moved a year ago to rural Faribault with his family, considers Randy one of his “papas” (aka grandpas).

And then there are those close friends… Honestly, these are the people who are here for me through the ups and downs of life. They don’t judge. They don’t criticize. Rather they listen and encourage. They pray and support and show care and compassion. Life would be a lot harder without them.

A snippet of the stained glass window in the balcony.

One of my favorite depictions of Christ, this one in a stained glass window at Trinity Lutheran Church, North Morristown. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo.

Which brings me to my faith. Thank God for God.

This photo from March shows the basement project in progress. We removed Styrofoam insulation and paneling from the clay tile walls. I then painted walls white. We also removed Styrofoam sheets from the ceiling and I painted the ceiling boards white. Later, we also removed the rest of the paneling from the stairway and surrounding area, replacing it with sheetrock. That, too, was painted white.

This photo from March shows the basement project in progress. We removed Styrofoam insulation and paneling from the clay tile foundation walls. We brushed and scraped loose concrete and paint from walls before washing with Borax and painting white. We also removed Styrofoam sheets from the ceiling. I painted the ceiling boards white. Later, we also removed the rest of the paneling from the stairway and surrounding area, replacing it with sheetrock. That, too, was painted white. Floors are now covered with carpet tile. We installed a Beaver waterproofing system and a sump pump. (Yes, eventually I’ll post more about this project.)

And thank God we finally finished our basement project after more than a year. (OK, the steps aren’t carpeted yet, but I’m still calling the project done.) We now have a waterproofed basement with white walls and ceiling. The clean industrial look. Gone are the mold, dark paneling and red carpet. Totes are now neatly organized on a corner shelving unit. But the best part of all—the absence of mice after we uncovered, and sealed, their entry point. Everyone knows the arrival of cold weather in Minnesota brings mice inside.

Given my love of words, I created this Thanksgiving display with thrift store art purchases and Scrabble letters.

Given my love of words, I created this Thanksgiving display in my dining room with thrift store art and Scrabble letters.

I’m not particularly fond of Minnesota’s cold and snowy months. But I am thankful to live in a state that embraces and supports the arts. In the past year, I’ve participated in three poetry readings, been published in two anthologies (poetry and creative nonfiction) and penned poems for a joint photo-poetry exhibit. All of these opportunities connect me to other writers. Minnesota truly is a great place to engage in all facets of the arts.

That's my post, labeled "Barn Memories," featured today on Freshly Pressed.

That’s my post, labeled “Barn Memories,” featured on November 30, 2013, on Freshly Pressed. Daily, WordPress editors highlight the best content from WordPress sites in a section now tagged “Discover.” My work has been showcased thrice on Freshly Pressed. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo 2013.

I also count this blog as a major blessing. Through my writing and photography, I’ve connected with some pretty fantastic people both in person and online. And, as a blogging bonus, I’ve also sold photo rights to clients ranging from creative agencies to authors to an Austrian musician to a local funeral home and more. I’ve had an especially good year in photo sales, just at a time when the extra income is especially needed. (If you’re interested in buying rights to my photos, email me at audrey at mnprairieroots.com.)

Yes, I am thankful for you, dear readers. You are the best. Happy Thanksgiving!

I purchased this vintage turkey candle several years ago in a Redwood Falls thrift store. The candle has never been lit and never will be.

I purchased this vintage turkey candle several years ago in a Redwood Falls thrift store. The candle has never been lit and never will be.

Read a related story on NPR about gratitude being good for the heart and soul. Click here.

This concludes my three-part “blessings” series.  Click here to read my first blessings post and then click here to read my second.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Minnesota Prairie Roots needs your “best of” vote August 5, 2015

TYPICALLY, I AM NOT ONE to promote myself. That is why, perhaps, I am not some famous worldwide blogger.

I have, though, made a name for myself in Southern Minnesota. Not because that’s highest on my priority list. Rather, I am passionate about writing and photography and my work seems to resonate with readers, Minnesotans or not. Minnesota Public Radio has noticed as has MinnPost.

Best of Southern MN 2015 logo

That all said, I am once again among nominees for the “Best Local Blog/Blogger.” The regional arts and entertainment magazine, Southern Minnesota Scene, is sponsoring a competition to choose the “best ofs” in Southern Minnesota. And I happen to fall in to the miscellaneous category.

Now, if you think my Minnesota Prairie Roots blog worthy of this honor, please vote for me in the miscellaneous section of the ballot. There are lots of other categories to vote in, too, such as art, music, theater, restaurants and more.

You can vote once a day per email address.

I am competing against four other blogs/bloggers. So your vote is important. Please share this on social media, if you wish.

Minnesota Prairie Roots has been voted the best in southern Minnesota.

Minnesota Prairie Roots was voted the “Best Local Blog/Blogger” in Southern Minnesota in 2014.

Thank you for your support as I defend my title of “Best Local Blog/Blogger” in Southern Minnesota.

FYI: Click here to vote.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Minnesota Prairie Roots named “best local blog” in southern Minnesota October 17, 2014

Minnesota Prairie Roots has been voted the best in southern Minnesota.

Minnesota Prairie Roots has been voted the best in southern Minnesota.

WE DID IT.

Yes, readers, I use the plural “we” because, without you, I never would have garnered the award of Best Local Blog/Blogger in southern Minnesota for 2014.

I was notified several weeks ago of the honor bestowed upon me by the regional arts/entertainment/lifestyle magazine, Southern Minnesota Scene. Editor Rich Larson phoned with the news and then interviewed me. You can read his story by clicking here. Reverse roles for me since I’m typically the one asking questions or gathering information. I prefer holding the pen and notebook.

The cover of Southern Minnesota Scene's November issue featuring the 150-plus "best of" winners.

The cover of Southern Minnesota Scene’s November issue featuring the 150-plus “best of” winners.

Larson requested that I not share the news online until the magazine published. Fair enough. Look for a hard copy of Southern Minnesota Scene so you can read about all 150-plus winners in the “Best of SoMINN 2014.” Or go to the publication’s website by clicking here.

The process of being named best local blogger started late this summer with online nominations. Thank you to all who nominated me. Once ballots were tallied, the top three then entered the online voting process to choose the winner.

I was competing against Kevin Krein, who blogs at Anhedonic Headphones and also writes for Southern Minnesota Scene. Fiction writer Dennis Vogen, a Faribault native who has published three books and is working on his fourth and fifth, was the other nominee. He blogs, too, but has published only eight posts. Too busy, I suspect, working on those books. As Vogen suggested, maybe a category for “best writer” should be added.

I questioned editor Larson about the number of ballots cast in the blogging category. But he declined to release stats, indicating only that the voting was close. He reveals in print, however, that more than 25,000 individual votes were cast in the entire competition and that Owatonna produced the most winners. Last year it was Northfield.

While recognition of my hard work at Minnesota Prairie Roots is welcome, I can’t take sole credit for my success as a blogger. Without you, my devoted readers, this blog would not exist. Thank you for your ongoing support of my writing and photography, for continuing to read and appreciate the stories and photos I share.

You own this award, too.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Keep voting for Minnesota Prairie Roots as best blog in southern Minnesota August 16, 2014

southern minnesota scene best of logoVOTING CONTINUES now through Labor Day for the Best Local Blog/Blogger in southern Minnesota. “The Best of SOMINN 2014” is sponsored by the regional arts and entertainment magazine, SouthernMINN Scene.

And just to remind you all, Minnesota Prairie Roots is one of three blogs vying for this honor.

I’d appreciate your vote. I’m in the “miscellaneous” category. Yeah, I know…

Unlike other elections, you can vote once daily per email address. Yes. Hey, I don’t make the rules. So, please, exercise your democratic right and stuff my ballot box.

Thank you for your support.

I make this campaign promise: I will continue to blog about people, places, events and more with a passion. I love writing. I love photography. And I love this place called Minnesota.

And I appreciate all of you faithful readers, especially the nearly 1,000 of you currently subscribing to Minnesota Prairie Roots.

Click here to vote.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Vote for Minnesota Prairie Roots as the best blog in southern Minnesota August 1, 2014

southern minnesota scene best of logoTHE NOMINATIONS ARE IN, dear readers, for the “Best of Southern Minnesota 2014,” sponsored by the regional arts and entertainment magazine Southern Minnesota Scene.

And, ta-da, Minnesota Prairie Roots/Audrey Kletscher Helbling is among nominees for best blog/blogger, along with Dennis Vogen and Anhedonic Headphones/Kevin Krein.

I am honored. Truly. To those of you who nominated me, thank you.

Now, you have one month, until 11:59 p.m. September 1, to vote.

Click here to cast your ballot for Minnesota Prairie Roots and nominations in more than 150 other categories of “best ofs” in southern Minnesota. You need only register your name and email (there’s a promise not to sell your information).

You will find the blog/blogger ballot in the miscellaneous category, near the bottom of the page.

If you are reading this post, you likely are already among the nearly 1,000 Minnesota Prairie Roots subscribers. You know that I write from the heart about places I go, people I meet, everyday life, area events, my native prairie, the arts, small towns, poetry and so much more.

Writing and photography are my passions.

I love Minnesota. I love sharing stories and photos from rural Minnesota. It’s as simple as that. I give this place, and you, a voice through my words and images.

If you are so inclined, please share this “vote for Minnesota Prairie Roots” request via good old-fashioned word-of-mouth or on Facebook and/or Twitter. I’m not on either social media outlet. I know. I’m among the last hold-outs, just like the last one to get a cell phone several years ago. My husband and I still get our TV reception from a roof-top antenna.

But that’s me—the woman who hangs her laundry on the line, finds the scent of freshly-mown alfalfa intoxicating and writes with a passion.

Again, click here to vote.

Thank you for your support, but most of all, for reading Minnesota Prairie Roots.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

When blogging friends become “real friends” May 13, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 6:00 AM
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IN THIS WONDERFUL WORLD of blogging, I expected to share my passions for writing and photography.

I never anticipated, though, the friendships and connections I would form with other bloggers and with readers.

Doreen, left, and I at Crossings at Carnegie.

Doreen, left, and I at Crossings at Carnegie.

Saturday evening, I met, in real life, my blogger friend, Doreen, who writes at “Treadlemusic.” She and her husband, Tom, drove 1 ½ hours from their southeastern Minnesota home to the small community of Zumbrota for Poet-Artist Collaboration XIII at Crossings at Carnegie. I read my poem, “Lilacs,” at the event which paired 26 selected poems with art they inspired. (Click here to read about that.)

I was impressed that Doreen and Tom would drive that far to support me. But I’m not surprised. Doreen, whom I’ve gotten to know through blogging and a few phone conversations, is that kind of caring person. Just read some of her blog posts (click here) and you will meet a woman passionate about quilting and about bringing joy into the lives of others.

She was everything I expected. Funny. Bubbly. Full of energy and enthusiasm and genuinely happy to be at the collaboration. She cheered me on, gave me two thumbs up after my reading. Doreen is the kind of friend you cherish.

And Tom is equally as delightful, albeit much more subdued than his wife. People would likely say the same thing about my husband, Randy. They are a good balance for their wives. I figured the two husbands would get along just fine and enjoy some guy conversation. They did.

Crossings at Carnegie, site of the Poet-Artist Collaboration XIII.

Crossings at Carnegie, site of the Poet-Artist Collaboration XIII.

Tom shared with Randy that, if not for the woman he married, he would not have attended events like the Poet-Artist Collaboration. Randy would say the same. Today both guys embrace the arts, for the most part.

As for Doreen and me, there’s no question we share a passion for creativity. She stitches hers into fabric. I stitch mine into words and images.

And now we’ve stitched together a friendship that goes beyond the exchange of blogger comments and the occasional email and phone call. We are real life friends.

IN ADDITION TO DOREEN, I’ve met four other bloggers whom I now consider friends:

Beth Ann, who writes from northeastern Iowa at “It’s Just Life,” also traveled 1 ½ hours to meet me for the first time in December of 2012. She and husband, Chris, came for my poetry presentation and reading at Buckham Memorial Library in Faribault. Since then, Beth Ann and I have lunched together, talked many times on the phone and recently dined together in nearby Owatonna with our husbands. She possesses great compassion and care, makes me laugh and has this wonderful Southern accent. I am blessed by her friendship.

Gretchen is the second blogger (“A Fine Day for an Ephiphay”) whom I met when she and her family drove to Faribault from rural Worthington to attend a play directed by a friend. We invited them to our home for supper. Since then, Randy and I have been to their home for supper. Gretchen is an incredibly gifted writer. But more than that, she is a kind and loyal friend who listens and cares. She has a wonderful husband and kids and we all feel like we’ve known each other for years. Such comfortable familiarity endears this family to me.

Jackie, who writes at “Who will make me laugh,” is the third blogger I’ve met. We share a passion for barns, country churches, gravel roads, Sunday afternoon drives and more. She’s one talented photographer. Jackie and I met last summer when my husband and I were in Rochester moving our son into his new apartment. She had scouted out apartment options for him and tipped us off to suitable options. For that I was grateful. Jackie and her husband, Rick, are also the type of individuals who make you feel right at home with their warmth and friendliness. A bonus of our meet-up was meeting their adorable granddaughter, Audrey. Within minutes of meeting, Audrey gave me a bracelet. She is sweet and kind, just like her grandma.

Sue, who lives in the metro (and elsewhere depending on the season) and blogs at “Ever Ready,” traveled to Faribault last fall with her sister for lunch at my house. She is among the most enthusiastic supporters of my poetry. I am so appreciative of Sue’s encouragement. She writes poetry, too, and heads up the Northwoods Art and Book Festival in Hackensack. My poem, “Lilacs,” was selected last year as a “Work of Merit” at that event. Sue is a real foodie and I’ve gone to her blog numerous times to find great recipes.

There you have it. Blogging is about so much more than writing and showcasing photos. It’s about community and friendship.

© Copyright 2014 Audrey Kletscher Helbling