Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Three phrases I’d like to ban June 13, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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ARE THERE CERTAIN WORDS or phrases that bother you? I mean big time irritate you to the point that you want to shout, DO NOT SAY (WRITE) THOSE WORDS TO ME!

Here are the top phrases/words I would like to ban:


Words buck up


My husband once advised me to “Buck up!” when I was gasping for air while in the middle of a major asthmatic type attack. I was ill at the time, severely ill, with whooping cough. Rather than suggesting I “Buck up!”, he probably should have been dialing 911. (In his defense, neither of us fully realized the seriousness of the situation.)

Why do I dislike those two words? In my particular instance, no amount of bucking up would solve my medical emergency. This was out of my control. Telling someone to “Buck up!” minimizes their situation/issue/problem. Rather than suggest someone toughen up, how about offering help and/or a solution? Or simply listen.


Words awesome


How can everything in life be awesome? It is the most overused trendy word. That’s awesome. That’s awesome. That’s awesome. Really?

Rather than apply the worn-out word awesome, which has lost all meaning because of its repetitive use, tell me precisely why something is awesome. Is something awesome because it’s an incredible accomplishment? Is something awesome because it pleases you and solves a problem? Is something awesome because it’s uniquely creative? Use specific words that hold meaning.


Words it is what it is


I’ve heard these five words spoken in trying situations. These are not words anyone facing or managing a crisis or challenge needs to hear. Why? This dismissive phrase only makes a person feel worse.

Instead, validate an individual’s feelings and then offer support, comfort, encouragement and/or assistance. No one needs to be reminded that a situation is bad; that’s already a known.

Now it’s your turn. Tell me what words/phrases bug you. Or, if you wish, defend usage of the words/phrases I dislike.

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


Bratty Boy Scouts March 11, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 8:38 AM
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APPARENTLY I’M NOT ALONE in noticing, appreciating and photographing interesting signs.

After reading my post this week about the Antique Maul in Sleepy Eye, photographer Harriet Traxler of rural Carver e-mailed a photo of a sign supporting the Boy Scouts. The only problem—read the words the “wrong way” and they take on an entirely different meaning.

Here’s the sign Harriet spotted several years ago in front of a garden store along U.S. Highway 212 between Chaska and Cologne, Minnesota.

“I did a double take and had to turn around and get a couple of photos before they changed it because I knew it wouldn’t be there the next day and it wasn’t,” Harriet says. “Sometimes it is all in how you read it!”

Brats (as in food) or brats (as in bratty Boy Scouts)?

But Harriet wasn’t finished sharing her silly word stories. “We were once on a road trip to Florida and we stopped at a small cafe in Georgia to have breakfast,” she says. “No one in our group knew what ‘grits’ were so several had to try that (cereal like cream of wheat). Someone at the next table saw a sign on the counter that said ‘Polish Sausage’ and asked the waitress how they ‘polished their sausage.’ We are still laughing at that one.”

SO HOW ABOUT YOU? What humorous or intriguing signs have you spotted while you’ve been out and about? Watch for them. You’d be surprised how many can have double meanings.

© Text Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

© Photo Copyright 2011 Harriet Traxler


On patrol with the spelling police July 22, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 7:46 AM
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WORDS ARE MY BUSINESS. So when I see a misspelled word, I can’t ignore it.

I tried. I was going to give them time to change the spelling before publishing this post. But I waited several weeks, and that’s long enough to correct the error.

So the other night while waiting at a stoplight in Faribault, I snapped this image of signage at the Community Co-op Oil Association through the passenger car window. I’m aware that the photo isn’t razor sharp. I didn’t have much time to pull my camera from the bag and fire two shots at a slow shutter speed before the light changed.

Do you see the spelling mistake? Does it jump off the sign at you?

Yes, “purchase” is incorrectly spelled as “PURCHASH.”

I admit that the creative spelling seems fitting if you delete the first “H,” making it “PURCASH.”

Did I tell you I once earned runner-up status to represent Vesta Elementary School at the Redwood County spelling bee? My friend Robin beat me in a spelldown. I’ve never quite gotten over that defeat.

(I sincerely hope that I’ve correctly spelled every word in this blog post.)

© Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling