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To each of our family members and friends, here’s a wish for a very Merry Christmas! May you be surrounded by those you love–present at your table, connected by phone or email, or in special memories.

Christmas Inspiration

Each year we look for inspiration from the trees and decorations of others. Our children are grown and, as we’ve seen most of them at Thanksgiving time, there’s a luxury in decorating or not. Today I’m posting my favorite Christmas tree of the 2015 Christmas season as seen in the foyer of Swan House, an elegant, late 20s neo-classical home designed by architect Philip Trammel Schutze for the Edward Inman family of Atlanta. Inspired by this lovely scene and in an excess of exuberance, we went all out in our own Christmas decorating here in Richwood Valley. Tomorrow I’ll post our own Charlie Brown tree for a smile! But for now there’s Christmas Eve supper to prepare.

May all the best and your hearts’ desires come to each one of you!

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas!

My favorite 2015 Christmas tree in the foyer of Swan House, Atlanta, Georgia

The King’s Sweater – A personal history, then and now
1940 and 2014 Then and Now

1940 and 2014 Then and Now

The King’s Sweater pattern was copied from an original mid-20th century child’s sweater. Its significance to a knitter is in the traditional Scandinavian design and colorway of true red with off-white. This particular sweater has historical significance as well having been worn by the current king of Norway, Harald V, on the early spring day in 1940 when on the ruse of a skiing holiday the entire family escaped capture in advance of the Nazi invasion of Norway. The little prince was then just three years old and the tale of the family’s escape is harrowing with twists and intrigues worthy of a novel. The child’s paternal grandfather was King Haakon VII and together with his son Crown Prince Olav (Harald’s own father and later King Olav V) spent the war years in London with the Norwegian government in exile. Prince Harald together with his mother Princess Martha and his older sisters, the Princesses Ragnhild and Astrid arrived later that summer in Washington D.C. and in early autumn they moved to a new home in Bethesda, Maryland, where they were to live for five years until the war’s end. There are photos of the little prince playing with President Franklin Roosevelt’s dog Fala on the White House lawn and in the background of FDR’s fourth inauguration. Today Harald is King of Norway and is said to speak English with a trace of an American accent.

A Personal History

We settled on a new version of this sweater as a gift for a very special child to honor his birthright traditions. Born a citizen of Norway and a citizen of the United States of America, it seemed fitting to remember a personal history that unites his two cultures. Still in the possession of the royal family, a Norwegian woman was given access to the sweater for the purpose of making a pattern. The yarn is from the same company, Rauma Strikkegarn, and in the same colorways as the original. The company has produced this true, clear red since 1927 although they’ve experimented with darker reds and bluer reds over the years. To make the buttons for the left shoulder opening, four ten øre coins were purchased from four different coin shops in order to have historically appropriate ones; these are circulated coins in good to excellent condition dated with the years of Harald’s birth and earliest childhood—1937 and 1938,  the year  the original sweater was made—1939, and the significant year of 1940 when the sweater was worn on the day of escape from Norway and also the year it was worn again for Harald’s passport photo taking him into exile at Pook’s Hill, Bethesda, Maryland, in the United States.

It’s an interesting story about the journey of a little prince who grew into a wise King and a story our little prince will learn more about as he grows. The best gift, of course, is to be loved by so many people on two sides of an ocean!

The King

The King’s Sweater is still in possession of the royal family of Norway and was displayed in 2007 at the 50th anniversary celebration of King and Queen’s coronation.

This Norwegian coin was minted and first circulated in 1937, the year the current King of Norway was born. Four of these coins form the base of the shoulder buttons. The other three dates are 1938 and 1939 when young prince Harald was a toddler and the sweater was knit. The fourth coin is 1940 when the sweater was worn into an American exile.

This Norwegian coin was minted and first circulated in 1937, the year the current King of Norway was born. Four of these coins are the base of the shoulder buttons. The other three are dated 1938 and 1939 when young prince Harald was a toddler and the sweater was knit for him. The fourth coin is 1940 when the sweater was worn into an American exile.

 

The design is cleverly made to fit easily over a young child

The design is cleverly made to fit easily over a young child’s head.

If you’d like to knit The King’s Sweater yourself, with or without your own personal history, you can find Laura Rickett’s pattern at Ravelry, along with others of her design.

Italian holiday in the Reiti Valley, central Italy at its best. This was early morning and the pink tint infused the sky and the day.

Italian holiday in the Reiti Valley, central Italy at its best. This was early morning and a pink tint infused the sky and the day.

 Italian holiday!

Here’s an early morning in the fertile Reiti Valley climbing a steep mountain toward Greccio and a complex of stone buildings clinging precariously to the vertical face of the mountain. This was the priory and church founded by Brother Francis in 1223 after locals asked him to stay and promised to build a home for him and his followers. He told them that close proximity interferes with a contemplative life but agreed to stay for a while in a spot no further from Greccio than a stone might be thrown. What a lovely day for an Italian holiday celebration!

Scene of the first Christmas creche in 1223

Clinging to the sideslope, it was in this place in 1223 that Francis of Assisi celebrated the first modern Christmas with a scene from the Bethlehem stable.

 First Christmas  crèche in the modern way

This place is best remembered for the first popular Christmas crèche, a tradition since spread throughout the world. As a consequence Greccio is full year’round with Christmas tradition and dozens of crèches in the tiny shop. And so it happened that once upon a time in the month of October, I celebrated an Italian holiday with traditional Italian food and customs here at Greccio followed by supper in Reiti a few miles away at Santa Maria de LaForesta.

The courtyard at LaForesta leads to the vineyards and gardens where once the friars grew their food. Today it

Italian Christmas holiday at Santa Maria de LaForesta, Reiti, Italy

Mondo X at the former Franciscan cloister

Christmas dinner was held at a former priory now the home of Mondo X, a self-help group of recovering alcoholics and drug addicts who established their own rule, not overtly religious but based on the Franciscan way, emphasizing beauty, hard work, and dialogue. Their record of success has led to several dozen locations throughout Italy. This one at Reiti earns money for their ministry and the upkeep of the former Santa Maria de La Foresta by serving as a lodge and restaurant. Thirty years ago The New York Times published another traveler’s visit to a hilltop monastery in Tuscany which suggests how little things have changed, perhaps only improved with success. The link is one to follow when you aren’t hungry as you surely will be after reading it.

Brother Sun, Sister Moon

This place in the hills has long been a resting spot for renewal and locals say it was here at this very cloister deep in the forests of 1225 that Francis wrote the Canticle in Praise of the Creatures with petitions to Brother Sun, Sister Moon, Brother Fire, Sister Water, acknowledged as the first work of literature in the Italian language (actually in the dialect of Umbria and translated into Italian). Based on their theory that substance abuse results from low self-esteem and a lack of productivity and personal responsibility, today’s Mondo X appears to be a solid concept for treatment well suited to the modern world. Here at LaForesta Mondo X members live off the land, maintain the stone structures, restore the vineyards, press the wine, care for their guests, and earn back their lives.

Italian holiday

It had rained earlier in the afternoon but within the hour the courtyard was filled (much to our delight) with abundant and colorful appetizers

Christmas Feast

We arrived to find appetizers and champagne in the cloister garden: tempura herbs (rosemary and thyme) with fried sausage-stuffed olives and chunks of a very good Parmesan. The Christmas feast began with polenta and fried pig rind in a white cheddar sauce. Very tender, moist, and well-seasoned turkey was served alongside shredded cabbage and other vegetables grown in the cloister gardens. Dessert was the traditional Italian panettone served on a spider web of dark chocolate and heavy English cream.

After dinner we strolled the beautiful gardens and vineyards; then off by myself I discovered someone had laid a heart of chestnuts to which I added the last, completing the design and thinking how much I wished Paul was here to share the beauty.

Italian holiday

I added the small chestnut at the bottom to someone else’s heart found serendipitously along the cloister wall.

This would have made a good Christmas post but figured to give you time to plan. If you extend your trip or your interests to Assisi check out the bakery window with luscious treats served fresh each morning with steaming expresso which I wrote about here two years ago! Ciao!

The largest paddlesports gathering in the world takes place each March–this year just as winter suddenly switched places with spring. For kayak, canoe, outdoor equipment and clothing enthusiasts, all those who’re interested in learning to select, purchase and use the gear, this is the weekend for 20,000 vendors and consumers to gather at the Alliant Center in Madison, Wisconsin! We’re not among them this year but reminded of the beautiful Wenonah canoe from Rutabaga Sports suspended from the garage ceiling. It’s our annual reminder that it’s time to dust off the cobwebs, wind the lines, and get ready!

Gig Harbor, Washington

So here’s a toast to spring and farewell to the last bits of snow disappearing today! The kayaks below were photographed by me several years ago just inside Gig Harbor from Puget Sound. Kayaks seem to be more popular than canoes these days but either is an intimate ride on the water. This lonely spit of land is a few hundred yards from the Gig Harbor lighthouse; that day a storm was brewing and the kayak owners were nowhere to be seen.

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Galloping Gertie to Sturdy Gertie! Crossing Puget Sound at Tacoma Narrows

Our arrival that day was by flying Fire Horse, an Aviat Husky A1C-200, from the airport at Pullman in eastern Washington State. This is the double span Tacoma Narrows bridge which crosses the point where Puget Sound “narrows” to less than a mile in width. The need for an easier way to cross the sound was recognized one hundred years earlier. Finally, in June of 1940 a bridge called Galloping Gertie opened and from its first day everyone knew it had serious problems, an unstable design that allowed huge vertical oscillations in even small winds. Immediately engineers tried to dampen and correct the problem but not before the bridge collapsed on an early November day that same year.  The first span of the new bridge below opened ten years later and is appropriately known as Sturdy Gertie! The fascinating story of the area from the Puyallop people to the 21st century and the tale of the bridges is told by the Washington State DOT with these links (will open in a new window).

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Sometimes a quiet ride on calm water needs only a small boat. These are working boats along Puget Sound near Point Defiance, rough and rugged.  A map to orient the bridge, the sound and the harbor to Tacoma and Seattle is here.

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One of the largest water falls east of the Mississippi River

Upper Tahquamenon, has a thunderous roar and a startling color. Four miles downstream the Lower Falls are less dramatic yet produce beautiful, foamy swirls deposited decoratively into broad pools below a central island.
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Nature’s golden hue and a backdrop to history

The river’s water is stained gold-brown from tannic acids leaching from cedar, spruce and hemlock swamps and used in tanning hide. The softening effect of the tannins combined with agitation from the falls produces the sudsy, natural foam. This is where Longfellow’s Hiawatha built his canoe, where Iroquois and Ojibwa fished the river, farmed the coastal prairie, trapped beavers, mink, otter, and bear. Two hundred years ago lumberjacks came to harvest tall timber and to float it downstream to mills on Lake Superior and from there to build a continent.

Tahquamenon, a wilderness apart

It was and still is a wilderness apart. The park area preserves old-growth maple and hemlock forest, and conifer lowland species, hosting songbirds, herons and ducks, woodpeckers, owls, hawks, eagles, and countless avian species.  In addition to white-tailed deer other large mammals are black bear, a free-ranging moose herd, and a controversy of cougar as evidenced on trail cameras and in fecal samples. Human inhabitants around the Tahquamenon River and Falls are relatively few: from the small village of McMillan near the spring fed source, small town Toonerville with its narrow gauge railroad, unincorporated Paradise with fewer than 500 souls to the east, three-times bigger Newberry to the west, and on to Lake Superior hugging the beaches and sand dunes at Whitefish Bay, all host sightseeing tourists, history buffs, hunters, fishers, campers, hikers, cross-country skiers, dogsledders, snowmobilers, and birdwatchers. Blueberries and cranberries grow here although the Centennial Cranberry Farm family operation near Whitefish Bay has recently closed after 140 years. Shipping lanes still ply rugged waters a few miles offshore of the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum at Whitefish Point and a series of sunken wrecks at the Whitefish Point Underwater Preserve.

Gordon Lightfoot’s The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald

Off this shore on November 10, 1975 the great oreship Edmund Fitzgerald sunk in a Lake Superior gale with the loss of all hands. Canadian songwriter, Gordon Meredith Lightfoot, Jr.’s haunting lyric made this sad event apocryphal and memorable. He got one thing wrong: when the bell at the Maritime Sailors’ Cathedral in Detroit rang out it would have been thirty times, not twenty-nine, as by longstanding tradition it rang once for each crewman plus one more time for all those lost at sea. Years later after watching a documentary that proposed a rogue wave had broken the ship, Gordon Lightfoot did alter his lyrics to eliminate a reference to a hatchway failure and the suggestion of human error.  The Fitzgerald is the largest and most famous of the Great Lakes shipwrecks and, thanks to the great success of Lightfoot’s song, it has come to stand for the thousands of others. As Lightfoot wrote, “Lake Superior never gives up its dead,” and only one Fitzgerald crewman has ever been discovered. For more on the story and the history of the ship they called Big Fitz checkout the videos below the Lightbox Gallery of my recent Tahquamenon to Whitefish Point photos.

As you will  see the entire area is compelling and its year’round colors are beautiful, but autumn magnifies the amber hues for an especially showy impression at the same time that late autumn weather makes a dangerous sea route. The trip is memorable! Enjoy the sites! Learn the history!

(Click an image for Lightbox Gallery)
Crewman found

In 1994 a manned submarine expedition discovered the body of a single crewman lying on the lake bottom below the ship’s bow. In the months that followed, families of the lost crew worked with the Shipwreck Museum toward a permanent memorial at Whitefish Point. An expedition was mounted to recover the heart of the ship–its bell–as the centerpiece of the memorial and to replace it with a new bell engraved with the names of the twenty-nine seamen. The Canadian government has designated the site as a memorial gravesite and prohibits visiting. The You Tube videos that follow are fascinating on all fronts. The first tells of the discovery of the crewman and the second from the Discovery Channel bell-recovery expedition is the larger story of the ship and the mystery surrounding its loss told with great respect and honor for the dead.

This is the last photographic installment from last summer’s travels across America and the final images from my old but reliable camera. After three years of considering the options, my L-lenses are mounted on a new Canon 5D Mark iii. It’s love at first shutter click! As an official farewell to my old EOS XTi, here’s a look at the Badlands of South Dakota from two perspectives.

Badlands, South Dakota

What’s GOOD about the Badlands!

First thing is to make a plan and then change it when that’s the smarter thing to do.

We left Afton on an early August morning with no certainty of where we might end the day. The forecast was thunderstorms and rain with low ceilings across western Wyoming and into the plains. We gave up our week long plan to land at Green River Intergalactic Spaceport (for the novelty and to be able to say we’d done it) but to make a beginning nonetheless. The first half of our VFR (visual flight rules) plan didn’t work out but we used all our resources, and made deviations to a fuel stop at Casper, Wyoming. You may recall that Casper is where four years ago in high and gusty winds we nearly rolled the airplane into a ball on its very first landing ever away from the Aviat factory in Afton. Today the winds were mild and the weather pushed us along in that direction. All went well.

 

Discover the unexpected!

We left Casper under instrument flight rules (IFR) and were able to resume the second half of our original plan which took us over the Badlands in good weather–clear air, visibility unlimited. We landed on a very nice grass runway at Philip, South Dakota in late afternoon and were met by a rancher/pilot who was driving past the airport when he saw our landing and wondered what kind of airplane it was. He helped us with keys to the airport loaner car, called someone to open a hangar for us ($15 for the night) and generally was a good friend to a pair of vagabonds new to the neighborhood. Before long the plane was refueled, installed safely in the hangar, and we were welcomed to a small, family run motel in the nearby town. The airport loaner car was in good condition so we decided to drive the 60 mile Badlands National Park loop road toward Wall, SD. 

The Badlands from two amazing perspectives

Without further ado, here are the Badlands first from the air as a bird or pilot sees it and then on the ground as others do. Other worldly I’d say–from either perspective. We ended the day with steak dinners in a local bar and fell into an early and sound sleep, full of anticipation for returning home tomorrow.

Like a living geography lesson, tablelands and ancient erosion carve a rugged topography

Like a living geography lesson, tablelands and ancient erosion carve a rugged topography

Aerial view of the Badlands, South Dakota

Wild and hidden from all but the most determined, note the road running diagonally through the scene.

Badlands, South Dakota

Cattle Rustlers, Cowboys, Homesteaders, Bandits and Lawmen. The transit was hard but the privacy was endless.

Badlands, South Dakota

Glorious South Dakota sunset over the Badlands

Badlands, South Dakota

Mountain Goat stare-down on the Loop Road in The Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Explorations near Salmon, Idaho

Imagine being a very young child raised by loving parents, suddenly snatched from your mother’s arms to new life among sworn enemies. Imagine losing contact with all you’ve ever known–torn from peace into a harsh and lonely life among Hidatsa captors, the years of hardship only ending when as a young woman you’re sold to a stranger as the prize in a game of cards.

From Captive to Heroine

Kidnapped from her Shoshone childhood Sacajawea became a slave in the Dakotas worth only what her labor bought. Tears would not move her captors’ hearts. Remember, Readers, what you were told of Sacajawea and know that you only learned the smallest part of her remarkable story; she was so much more than an Indian guide and so completely the reason Lewis and Clark survived to succeed in their Discovery Expedition!

Birthplace of Sacajawea

In August 2013 we landed our Husky in Salmon, Idaho. There are still places where you can expect a friendly welcome in the midst of strangers. Pilots in general aviation find generosity everywhere. No matter how big or small the airport, it’s typical to have a comfortable place to rest, a computer terminal, snacks, kindly advice, and most often the use of a free loaner car with a full tank of gas. In Salmon that loaner car took us into the countryside to discover the real Sacajawea, an unlikely heroine of the American west.

Salmon Idyll

Sacajawea Interpretive Center

The Sacajawea Interpretive Center outside of Salmon tells of her capture and then shows you what her native Shoshone culture (known among themselves as the Agaidika, the salmon eaters) was like. You learn that the stranger Toussaint Charboneau who bought her became her great rescuer, making her not just his wife but his full partner as trail scout and guide. She was a clever student, skilled in finding food and herbal medicines, and able to recall the difficult route back into the mountains to Shoshone lands. Her wise negotiations in two Indian languages saved them again and again. The Lewis and Clark party survived the harshest of seasons because of what she knew. And so it was that she found herself back in the summer retreat of her people introduced at campfire as interpreter to a great chieftain whom she recognized as her very own brother.

Sacajawea and the Shoshone Tradition

Shoshone Tradition

 

Long on accomplishments in a very short life

After her homecoming was warmly celebrated among family and while many months passed in gathering supplies, she and her husband Charboneau and their infant son, Pompy, continued the route west with the Discovery Expedition through the upper Columbia basin eventually to the Pacific Ocean. At the age of twenty-five Sacajawea was dead leaving Charboneau heart-broken and truly alone. For when the great journey ended at St. Louis their son went with Meriwether Lewis to be educated and apprenticed according to his parents wishes for his better life.

 

Sacajawea and Pomp

Within the 71 acre Interpretive Center she and her son Pompy are commemorated in this beautiful bronze sculpture by Agnes Vincens Talbot. Standing before the statue below the Beaverhead Range in the Lemhi River Valley surrounded by a garden of natural rock and flowers, it seems a fitting tribute to the little girl returned.

Sacajawea earned her place in American history by overcoming every kind of hardship and bias. She was fortunate in having a good mind for solving life’s thorniest problems and smart enough to give her loving heart to a good man who worked just as hard alongside her. While the full extent of her contributions are not widely known, be one of those who knows and remembers.

[To learn what the modern Agaidika think of Sacajawea, read the essay by Rozina George which evaluates the Lemhi Shoshone qualities in Sacajawea that helped share her culture and knowledge.]

Sacajawea and Pomp

“Sacajawea and Pomp” by Agnes Vincens Talbot

William Clark compared these to the “Pirimids of Egypt”
Lewis and Clark

In our adventuring into the backcountry hills on August 22, 2013, north along the Salmon River to Tower Creek, we discovered these just as the Discovery Expedition did more than two hundred years earlier. Their Shoshone guides led them along old Indian trails eventually toward the Columbia River and the Pacific. Along the way they camped at The Bluffs and the next day started into the hills where the travelers were amazed at sights like this.

The waist of Idaho is formed of sedimentary deposits where harder caprock protects softer limestone creating uneven erosion, odd promontories, and weird shapes. When William Clark explored beyond Tower Rock seeking a passable route through the mountains to the Pacific, he found these formations and wrote in his journal that the shapes reminded him of descriptions of the Egyptian pirimids and his name and spelling have stuck! Clark also wrote that the lead pack horse tumbled backward from the steepness of the terrain on the first morning out. It happened right here.

Salt River Valley

Salt River Valley

Afton, Wyoming, may be small but it’s the biggest little town in the Star Valley

Exhausted Mormon travelers emerged from the Lander Cutoff and settled in the Star Valley to build their futures. At fewer than 2,000 people in the 2010 census, Afton is the largest town among Smoot, Thane, and Etna strung along U.S. Highway 89 south of the Palisades Reservoir. It is ranch country for raising horses and cattle along with the grains to support them in rich pasture land beside the Salt River. Country people, cowboys and cattlemen live side-by-side with newcomers attracted by the pastoral calm of a gorgeous place. There is world class fly-fishing in local streams. The town’s water supply pours out of the world’s largest Intermittent Spring in the crotch of mountain peaks high above the town.

They ride horses, drive cattle, and they build and fly airplanes

The second family vehicle is often a horse trailer, an RV, or an airplane. Seventy-five miles north, the more famous Jackson Hole anchors Grand Teton National Park and the southern entrance to Yellowstone. But here in Afton the day-to-day is working class normal. This is a place where generous people judge your character and may offer you a place to rest or even perhaps their brand new truck to drive for the week. We know because it’s happened to us. Oh, and about those airplanes . . . the Aviat Husky factory occupies a hodge-podge of nondescript buildings which look like war surplus, the Second World War, that is. That’s what takes us to Afton! We fly a Husky A-1C 200 and return each year for its annual inspection.

Afton, Wyoming, on the ramp at KAFO

Afton, Wyoming, on the ramp at the fixed-base, the Afton Municipal Airport (KAFO)

Skilled employees build a world-class bush plane, the Aviat Husky

In 2010 we drove into Afton for the first time to take delivery on our plane. A Husky is a superbly competent little bush plane with excellent performance and short takeoff and landing capability. We tease that we spent our children’s inheritance which isn’t too far from the truth. Imagine then, arriving in a small western town with one main street, armed with an address to which we’d sent our money, and what did we find but a shabby collection of derelict grey buildings hard on the narrow sidewalk. (Since we first saw it, there’s been a makeover and last fall was nicely repainted.) Don’t judge this book by its cover! Inside is a factory employing a few dozen industrious employees who basically hand-build the aircraft. They know each one intimately by the time it’s finished and they take great personal pride in putting a bit of themselves into each one by building it right!

Star Valley and Afton WY

What is it about Afton Wyoming? THIS is what it is!

Afton, Wyoming

The Corral

The best food in Afton comes from the sea!

There are several good restaurants that serve generous fare but the most unexpected, and for our tastes, the most outstanding is Rocky Mountain Seafood run by the colorful Larry and his partner Julie. He’s a retired ship captain and she a harbor master transplanted from Pacific seacoast to interior mountains. And they still have good connections in the coastal fishing industry! The seafood arrives as air cargo and is trucked from Salt Lake City direct to the restaurant, deliciously prepared and on your plate before the tang of fresh salt air has faded. The menu is simple, a mix and match of basic preparations where one type of fish can be switched with another. The whole point is for the flavor and quality of fish to shine rather than indulging a cook’s conceit. If you have a kid’s tastes or don’t like fish, there’s always an excellent steak or Julie’s fine mac ‘n’ cheese. The atmosphere is dockside fish market, casual with sturdy picnic table seating, a diner where you can take your catch home in a sack or have it prepared, seat yourself–among friends or friendly strangers. Don’t look out the windows at majestic western mountains and you just may forget you’re in Wyoming!

Where dreams come true and those dreams can FLY! At the Aviat factory, home of our very own Fire Horse.

And for us there is the added inducement of this, the Aviat Aircraft Company where our very own Husky named Fire Horse was born. They also build the Pitts Special, the renowned competition aerobatic plane, as well as the Eagle II which is available as a kit or factory complete. But we’re partisans for the Husky given our 900′ runway below 200′ cliffs–we need a bush plane!
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I recently rediscovered a small handful of photographs that show small town, Midwestern hospitality at its best. Lanesboro is in bluff country inland from the Mississippi River in the southeast corner of Minnesota. Known for many Victorian and Edwardian homes converted to bed and breakfast use, the town treats its many visitors in such a way that they want to return and urge their friends to come too! In addition to the Opalotype bicycle outside the Arts Center posted here on February 27th, here are another three images. My wish is that, whether here or elsewhere, you too may find a restful haven of goodwill and generosity.

First is the side of a warehouse on a bluff above the Root River with an amazing, sliding door that rolls on a heavy iron rail above the lintel. Decorated with ivy that’s turning red-gold with the season, the door and the brick wall look well together in matching shades. An old reel mower still gives good service reminding me of the one my father pushed as he crisscrossed our yard in a neighboring Midwestern state. Focal length: 28.0 mm; 1/60 sec; f/5.6; ISO 400

Lanesboro, Minnesota where everything may not be old but it

Lanesboro, Minnesota where everything may not be old but it’s the town’s calling to evoque antique charm. To the right is excellent food at Spud Boy Diner, the third photo in this post.

Next is the old railroad trestle on the southwest corner of town. Where Milwaukee Road–Iowa & Southern Minnesota Division–trains once carried grain from the prairies, it’s now part of the Root River State Trail, an expansive pedestrian and bike trail that connects several picturesque towns in the valley. Focal length: 17.0 mm; 1/125 sec with the camera braced against the far rail and a vertical timber; f/5.6; ISO 400; AEB-Aperture Priority; Evaluative metering

Railroad bridge over the Root River

Spread along the banks of the Root River, the small town of Lanesboro is picturesque and inviting.

Last up is the Spud Boy Diner believed to have been built in the mid-1920s by the Goodell Dining Car Company at 30 Main Street, Silver Creek, NY where: “Quality Dining Cars [are] built of the best, latest equipment and fully complete; Sold on easy terms $4,750” It spent the next 75 years as a popular, trackside eatery in Wellington, Ohio. Turns out there’s a lot of history at Spud Boy! A most interesting part was the restoration by new owner, Gordon Tindall, over more than five years, inspired by a group of devoted diner connoisseurs, and supported in part by private donations and the American Diner Museum.

If you want to read the history and see photos of the restoration process, take a look at http://www.nydiners.com/cecilmove.html. The superbly renovated Spud Boy Diner opened for business in Lanesboro in the late spring of 2012; to find them and see what’s on the menu, check the Spud Boy Diner website at: http://spud.nydiners.com/ Focal length: 17.0 mm; 1/45 sec; f/5.6;ISO 400; Aperture Priority; Evaluative metering

Spud Boy Diner

Located next to the first photograph in this post, the 1920s Spud Boy Diner is at 105-3/4 Parkway Avenue North, where there’s “Booth Service for Ladies”

Historic Lanesboro

We’ve had feet of snowfall and icy cold for so long that it feels like a good time to warm up with thoughts of coming spring. Most of our Midwestern winter was spent indoors at the computer. In early January a Trojan virus hacked my firewall and opened the door to a new Exploit virus with full privileges granted to a hidden Administrator. Cleverly it looked like firewall protection was on and I was still in control–not so! Ultimately a hard reformat was the only option. On the way to that reluctant conclusion I learned to rewrite a registry and was reminded yet again that no education is ever truly free. I have a cast of helpful new friends around the globe, a fullsome respect for bleepingcomputer.com, and will be forever grateful that I keep backups current.

I’ve missed my Light Pixie alias and have big plans to post new work, including long neglected portfolio items forgotten in the busy pace of family life and creative work. Here is a first installment from a lovely, romantic autumn day in historic Lanesboro which calls itself the bed and breakfast capital of Minnesota. It’s a small town that straddles the Root River in the southeastern corner of the state and it welcomes tourists to cozy Victorian rooms, quaint shops and good food. On any normal, good weather day in all seasons, main street, quiet neighborhoods, and woodland trails will be filled with strolling couples, hiking and biking families, geocaching singles, cross-country skiers, the active and the sedentary. From the Stone Mill to the railroad bridge and everything in between and beyond will be the subject of countless vacation photos. Seats in the old St. Mane and Commonweal Theaters will be filled, as will the many shops, galleries, studios, and museums.

This was shot along Parkway Avenue outside the Lanesboro Arts Center in late October 2011, definitely heavy sweater weather. The English ivy was already tinged with frost dried leaves. The bicycle’s basket had been relieved of its summertime flowers and the wrought iron bench beyond was empty. My lens had a new 8x neutral density filter plus a UV protective filter; I’d chosen a longer exposure than the light required. The combination of old Lanesboro and the over-exposed image reminded me of an opalotype photograph printed on translucent white glass enhanced with pale, hand-tinted colors. It seemed tender and delicate like the day. Also called a milk-glass positive, opalotypes are a remnant technique, rare even from the mid-1880s when patented by Glover and Bold in Liverpool, England. My homage is not a true opalotype and was adjusted slightly in post-production. Expect to see more from historic Lanesboro in the coming days! Now available in a new Bluff Country post here:

Lens: EF-S17-85mm f/4.o IS USM; Focal Length: 24.0 mm; Exposure: 1/15 sec;   f/5.6;   ISO 200