Sunday, October 10, 2010

Dalmålning - Swedish Painting

By Taryn
After the old table project, one of my first Norwegian Rosemaling projects on furniture with acrylics instead of oils, I was ready for another painting project - this time in the Swedish style called Dalmålning. I used a canvas and a traditional old design I found on the internet. The design was probably painted in the early 1800's originally.
This wall painting is at the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis, painted in 1983 by Swedish painter Bengt Engman, who was commissioned to come and decorate their ballroom and other areas of the museum in the same style as the old Dalmålning paintings, but with a theme based on the Emigration from Sweden to America.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Alexandria Antique Shops

Every summer I try to make at least one day where I go downtown Alexandria and slowly make my way through all the different shops. Since the big box stores moved in, the Target, Wal-Mart, K-Mart, etc. and the mall was built, downtown had to evolve into something else. No more shoe stores or JCPenney. I think the only store that is still downtown from my childhood is an office supply store, some jewelry stores and Ben Franklin, which now is mostly a craft store. This summer's find was a cute tablecloth for $6, from Sweden. The folk dress from the island of Gotland is on the left, below.
Here's a link to another view of Gotland's folkdrakt.

Summer in the Fall

Tracy and I - We spent time today with Cyndi, then Mom, and visited Tracy's friend, also at Knute for rehab. Then a good walk, grilling with the guys, and several games of Farkel. A busy and fun Saturday.
A year ago this weekend we had snow. Yesterday Alexandria reached a high of 84 degrees F. Today some Minnesota towns reached 90. The down side - mosquitoes. We haven't had a frost or hard freeze yet. The leaves are off most of the trees here, or golden leaves still on the trees reflect the sun, so the light is amazing.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Old Table

Chuck's mom had an old table at her house, which we then had at the cabin, then in a basement closet. After I'm off of work for a while in the summer, my creativity comes back. (Plus a few rainy days lately.) I started with Kilz primer.
I used acrylics in little bottles that I bought at Ben Franklin in Alexandria for both the background colors and the Rosemaling. I'd always used oils, but the joy of acrylics is they dry right away, and that's also the pain of using them. It's not easy to fix mistakes.

The designs are adapted from "Rosemaling fra hele Norge" edited by Bjørg Oseid Kleivi. The main design is from a Rosemaler named Marie Strædet, from Marnardal. The style is from Vest Agder county in southern Norway. The lacy border is from a Bjørg Oseid Kleivi design.

Road work continues

Taken from the front door.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Bedman Freeway

The road at Lake Ida reminds me of the book "The Little House" by Virginia Lee Burton.
If you want to watch the Disney video of the book,
In 1985 our road was a narrow two track road with grass growing down the middle, that wound right through the resort yard.
I don't have a before photo from 1985, but here is the road this week, in progress. One more layer of tar to go.

Friday, August 6, 2010


Renee and I went fishing today. Without any high tech stuff we caught 15 nice sunnies down by Bedman's.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Summer Flowers

We've had just the right amount of rain this summer, something never said about Minnesota. It rains every few days, then nice days of sun. My plants are doing well. I should also give credit to my neighbor Betty, who watered for me when I was gone this summer.

Fledglings in the grass

I was out mowing today. I trudge slowly when it's this hot and humid, and frogs have a chance to hop out of the way. But twice, once on each side of the yard, I miraculously spotted baby birds hunkered down in the grass, sitting very still, within inches of the mower. I'm glad I saw them. After moving the first one to safety, I did see later that it was chirping away and the mother bird was feeding it bugs. Later, on the other side of the yard, the same scene repeated itself. I love the beak. It makes this little guy look cranky.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Rute Stenugnsbageri

The New York Times recently featured a travel article about Gotland.
One of the places mentioned was the Stenugnsbageri (Stone Oven Bakery) in Rute. Chuck and I had lunch there with Ingvor and Christer. It was a very warm day, but we enjoyed our sandwich and rhubarb dessert at a nice table in a shady spot.

This labyrinth was in front of the bakery.

Rauks, Caves and Cliffs - Ancient Coral Reefs

After the weight of the ice age glaciers receded, Gotland has raised up from the sea. The limestone that makes up the island has eroded at different rates. Coral reef limestone was the hardest, so remnants of those Baltic reefs remain as rauks, cliffs and caves. This rauk was near Lickershamn, north of Visby. Ingvor noted that it has the typical Swedish potato nose. After that we could see profiles in many of the rauks.
This is Chuck in front of Jungfru rauk at Lickershamn. It is about 12 meters high, and 20 meters above Baltic sea level. Translated from the website link: The "Maiden" rauk has gotten its name after the tragic story about the Maiden Öllegard and her beloved Helge, which ended with them throwing themselves into the sea. (Which reminds me of a pun: She threatened to jump off the cliff, but it was only a bluff.)
In June, Andrea, Haylie and I toured Lummelunda cave. This is the photo of the original cave opening, which only skinny kids could crawl into. Since then, they have built an opening for tourists (and grandmothers), and an interpretive center. They showed this video before we went into the cave, about the three boys who discovered it.
We took a nice hike at Högklint, just south of Visby, where Haylie and I explored a shallow cave.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Burgsvik Limestone

Sundre, in southern Gotland, is the location of a limestone quarry, rich in fossils. It is used for floors, window sills, table tops, sculptures, counter tops, patios. The limestone and sandstones come from the Burgsvik beds, located near the town of Burgsvik. Here is a palm sized chunk of limestone that shows some of the fossils: coral, sea lilies, sponges, shells. Some of the layers have a pink color to them.
The quarry at Sundre.The blocks of limestone are sawed into slices with diamond tipped sawblades, lots of water, and very slow progress. Some of the limestone after slicing, but before polishing or cutting to size.

An Evening Walk

I try to walk every day when I'm at Lake Ida, either to the north or south. I saw this mailbox with a surprise inside, a paper wasp nest. That'll keep the mailman from delivering junk mail.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Fika - Swedish noun and verb meaning coffee break

l-r: Stefan, Andrea, Haylie, Göran, Anita, Taryn

Morning and afternoon coffee breaks (fika) in Sweden are an important part of daily life. Gotland in summer has so many wonderful outdoor settings to fika. We stopped at the parish farm at Vamlingbo in southern Gotland, which now features a museum about Gotland nature, an exhibition about the Baltic Sea, an art gallery of Lars Jonsson, and a cafe.

The church is from the 1200's, the parish manor house is from the 1700's. The red arrow indicates Vamlingbo parish.
The website for Vamlingbo Prästgården (parish farm) is found here:

The painter Lars Jonsson has exhibited his paintings at the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Painting with Haylie

I like painting. It's the prep work I'm not so crazy about, scraping and such. But painting new wood is fun.
Do I sound like Tom Sawyer? It looked so fun to Haylie that she had to paint too. But we still had time to "go in a-swimming" too! It was beach weather the whole time we were on Gotland.

When Tom Sawyer had a huge fence to whitewash on a beautiful day, Mark Twain wrote:
“Say - I’m going in a -swimming, I am. Don’t you wish you could? But of course you’d druther work - wouldn’t you? Course you would!”

Tom contemplated the boy a bit, and said:“What do you call work?”

“Why, ain’t that work?”

Tom resumed his whitewashing, and answered carelessly:“Well, maybe it is, and maybe it ain’t. All I know it suits Tom Sawyer.”

“Oh, come now, you don’t mean to let on that you like it?”

The brush continued to move.“Like it? Well, I don’t see why I oughtn’t to like it. Does a boy get a chance to whitewash a fence every day?”

That put the thing in a new light. Ben stopped nibbling his apple. Tom swept his brush daintily back and forth - stepped back to note the effect - added a touch here and there - criticized the effect again - Ben watching every move and getting more and more interested, more and more absorbed. Presently he said:“Say, Tom, let me whitewash a little.”

Somewhere in the middle of the process.

Gotland Traditional Games in Stånga, Gotland

Gotland Games are held every summer in Stånga, at their athletic fields. In this video a Swedish girl shows how to throw the pole (caber in Scotland), which has to make a turn in the air to land correctly.

Another game might prove the adage, "Age and treachery will overcome youth and speed". Unfortunately, the gray haired gentleman lost his match.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Mosquito control - another Minnesota sign of Spring!

Another sign of spring in Minnesota is when the helicopter comes to the wetlands outside my classroom window. According to the local Fox News:

"The helicopters aren't spraying chemicals, but broadcasting a material much like lawn fertilizer. Granules are dropped in sites where mosquitoes are present, then the mosquitoes eat the bacteria, killing the larvae that are in those wetlands." So that's the scientific explanation.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Painted Turtle On The Move

A painted turtle had come out of the pond behind Bedman's and was on it's way toward the lake. I only messed with it a little bit. They hiss, did you know that?

It had an injured carapace, but it didn't look recent.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The ice is out, let the fun begin!

The ice went out on Friday, April 2nd. A strong southwest wind and warm temps blew the ice sheet away, and a lot of it piled up on the sandbar at Pilgrim's Point. Already the neighbors started putting in their docks and boats. Our neighbors moved a pontoon lift along the shoreline almost 1/2 a mile. As we watched them go by, Tom said, with the past experience of a guy who's tried some ideas of his own, "There's only one good outcome, and a whole bunch of bad ones." Alex said, "That guy must know a lot more about engineering than I do." We watched them until they went around the point. Good use of a floating trampoline and some inner tubes. Click on the photo for a closer look.

Aaahhh! Spring Break!

We had the best weather on spring break! We took some nice bike rides, did yardwork, soaked up the sun.

Here are some little froggies calling in the pond behind Golden Lake Road off of Canterbury. The chorus frog's call sounds like a thumb on the teeth of a comb. They usually quiet down when you come near, but these guys were too excited about spring to notice.

If you want to learn more about the Boreal Chorus Frogs of Minnesota, here's the link.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Lake Le Homme Dieu Fish Story - It's a Whopper!

Here's a northern pike from Lake Le Homme Dieu in 1908. As a result of overfishing, you can't find them like this anymore. Although I'd be careful.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Another sign of spring . . .

. . . guys in crotch rockets getting pulled over for speeding. The cop is checking his ID. How embarrassing, you can't even slouch in your car while all the gawkers drive by.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Signs of Spring

Alexandria spring is always about 2 weeks behind the Cities, but there were still some good signs of spring. Today around Lake Ida there were lots of robins eating nicely fermented crabapples, killdeer flying overhead with their "Kill-deer! Kill-deer!" call, and redwing blackbird males, already staking their claim in the pond behind Bedman's. Here are some other signs of spring:
A pair of ducks taking off at Lake Carlos, by the Carlos-Darling bridge.
Pussy willow on our walk. One year on Palm Sunday our minister thought that it would be more authentic to pass out pussy willows to everyone in the congregation in lieu of palm branches. One of the choir members looked quizzically at his and said, "Walk softly and carry a big pussy willow?" We were cracking up.
The Lake Ida to Lake Charley creek is quite full of water, and noisy with Canada geese couples.
A nice sunset over Lake Carlos on the north end, near the State Park. We ate at Anderson's Outpost and were on our way home. The ice is turning black now on all the lakes, with large open areas where the creeks come in.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Random Thoughts in March

My dad Lester's birthplace is for sale on Jefferson St. in Alexandria. He was born in that upstairs bedroom (see window on the right, by the chimney). The house was owned by Lester's grandparents John and Selma (Granlund) O'Brien, after they passed down the O'Brien farm near Nelson to their son Erwin.
"Things that can't be used in March", or "Why we have to park outside"
Although the snowblower might still get a workout. It's happened before.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

St. Patrick's Day Blizzard, 1965

Okay, obviously this isn't a photo from 1965, it's the OTHER legendary Minnesota blizzard, the Armistice Day blizzard. But it's 45 years since the St. Patrick's Day blizzard of 1965, and 45 years since our dad Lester died at the age of 45. The numbers seemed to be important to me today.
I was thinking about how mom had walked a long way in that deep snow, during the middle of the night, because she got dropped off by the funeral home director quite far from home. He didn't want to get the hearse stuck. By the time she reached our driveway, she was suffering from hypothermia, and really couldn't have gone much farther. The stubborn tenacity she had (and still has) is what got her home. I'm thankful for that. Here she is 45 years later, still surviving.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Poem (or two) of Spring in Minnesota

In my box of special things that mom saved from my school days is a poem that I must have written in 4th grade. (It's in cursive.) Spring inspired me to write "When there's no icicles, There'll be bicycles." And so today that was true.
I have another poem inspired by this year's weather.
WINTer WINter WInter Winter
winter spring winter winter SPRING
winter spring spring SNOW spring
Because we all know there will be more snow in there somewhere.
Chuck was then inspired to write this one about Gotland.
WINTER WINTER WINter spring spriing spriiing spriiing SPRING SPRIING SUMMER FALL.