Meet Margaret and Vera… librarians across the globe.

Cullen-1100775rA community library serves as a resource for people of all ages and interests. Meet Margaret, the friendly and helpful librarian in Cullen, Scotland. If traveling in a region, the librarian can provide a wealth of local information for its residents and visitors.

Cullen-1100776rMargaret is a caring, conscientious person having a wonderful rapport with people of all ages and we notice a good mix of personalities and ages utilizing the facilities.

Cullen-1100777crSince Cullen, Scotland is located right on the coast of the North Sea along the Firth of Moray, it is appropriate to have a historical display of fishing equipment and coordinating books.

Cullen-1100778Visiting a community library provides a fantastic opportunity to explore things to see and do in the area, current local affairs/concerns with a local historical perspective.  Thank you, Librarian Margaret of Cullen, Scotland, for your helpfulness and we appreciated your helpful advice and services.

{CF645042-DE84-457D-8EE8-34FFEF2C11ED}We’d like to extend an invitation to check out the following link and visit the Gary, South Dakota City Library. Interested in area history? Genealogy research? Want to curl up by the fire with a good book? Librarian, Vera Meyer, will go out of her way to help you feel welcome, answer any questions you may have with a variety of resources at her fingertips.  While you are at it, you may as well get to know some members of the community by working on a puzzle or play a round or two of Marbles (a popular card game)!

Brookings Children’s Museum

I had the pleasant opportunity to experience the Brookings Children’s Museum as an adult and through the eyes of a child. What an incredible facility with hands on activities for children through all developmental stages of childhood.

First stop, the mechanic’s garage…   Fill ‘er up!



Get that tire fixed.



Next stop, the grocery market…



The garden…



The ice cream shop…



Water play with a physics lesson.




Just for the “divas.”



Time to build a shelter.



I can understand how real piglets can be smothered by the sow.  One false move and it’s curtains.



The fake hen clucks, but she doesn’t peck at the person gathering eggs like in real life.  Real hens seem much more annoyed.



Time to paint and wash windows.

ChMus_Bl-0146 ChMus_Bl-0134


Watercolor pencils, paint water on with a brush, and you have a masterpiece.



Turn the wheel and move the foam cement blocks up the ramp.  Rachel did not have much time for this, but the boys seem intent on their task.



A giant Lite Brite game for all sizes.



This may just be music for a 2 year old, but it’s also a cultural experience for older children.ChMus_Bl-0040


What a unique climbing activity.



O.K., so this dinosaur is a little creepy when it roars and moves his head.  I’m sure the older kids go for this. Not so much for a two-year-old.


I could tell that years of planning, utilizing brain and child development research, were put into effect at the Brookings Children’s Museum.  Kudos to the community and any other organizations that may have been involved to convert this historic building into an experience for generations to come.

Also impressive was the fact that each area had a staff member straightening displays and disinfecting after groups completed an activity.

With an admission fee of only $6 per person, it is a tremendous value for a family as it will provide you with hours of entertainment and memories for a lifetime.

Even the lunchroom staff put extra effort into our meal:


You might say we had a hoot at the Brookings Children’s Museum in Brookings, South Dakota!!

You don’t choose your life… you live it.

~The Way

Another phase of my life goes by… taking a career break from traditional portraiture.


This has been in the planning stages for the past 4 months and I was going to wait until mid October to announce my future plans, but I guess now is as good a time as any.

It’s been 16 years of growth and transformation, starting with 35mm and medium format film, darkroom processing and now the digital age with Lightroom and Photoshop. It is time to move on, so I will be closing the traditional portrait studio as of October 15, 2013.  All sessions scheduled up to that point will go on as planned and the current website will be up until May 1, 2014 to facilitate senior orders.  After that, I’ll start working on a new website reflecting the art of both Randy and myself.  The studio will then be transformed into Randy’s painting studio and workshop.  It’s his turn now.

I still love photography and hope to continue learning and exploring new, unusual techniques and push for a more and more creative style. Maybe even try an impressionistic painting style of photography.  I also plan to continue showing art work in galleries, promote the arts,  and hope to find time to put together other products using images.  (Greeting card line?)  I may ask to borrow some of your kids if I get an idea for some prairie photography because, after all, southwest Minnesota/Eastern South Dakota is a great place to raise children and that is a theme near and dear to my heart.

I will not be twiddling my thumbs and eating bonbons by the truck load, as I move into this phase of my life.  I’ll need to complete this year’s photo orders, try to be Randy’s farm hand/gopher, occasionally Granny Nanny (Grandkid #2 is expected in March 2014), clean/organize/paint inside the house and sheds (long overdue), continue involvement with community and art organizations, garden and go back to the classroom environment as a substitute teacher – look out, G-D!

Then, in my spare time, I’ll learn Spanish, how to knit/crochet, bike/hike or maybe even jog, work on songs with Randy (maybe my sister will dust off her accordion and we can hit the nursing home circuit!), read the books I haven’t had time to read and travel / hike anywhere I can, as well as visit friends and relatives.  Yep, lots to do.

Don’t worry, I’ll still blog about whatever trail I’m on or something that wanders through my mind and conjure up some “thought for the day” to amuse myself and the world from time to time.  Hey, I may even bring back “Photo Friday” with educational topics.

Thank you to all who have been on this journey with me…  It’s been a good ride.

When past and present collide…


The above image is a blend of images taken before renovation of the former South Dakota School for the Blind located in Gary, South Dakota and a wedding dance scene in the same room upon completion. Buffalo Ridge Resort has done an amazing job restoring the facility for modern purposes while maintaining the historic architecture and  feel of the former campus.  It is now used for wedding receptions/dances, conferences, family reunions, retreats, etc. and has lodging on site in the form of hotel rooms and camping.  The Rock Room Bar & Grill, located on site, is a unique dining experience with occasional local entertainment. In the summer the entertainment moves outside to the patio for a low-key, summer fun experience.  For more information about Buffalo Ridge Resort you can check out their website:

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

After the Storm

After the Storm

A little over seven years ago the eastern South Dakota/western Minnesota region experienced an ice storm of epic proportions. Heavy rain started in the morning and quickly turned to ice with rapidly falling temperatures. Power went out, schools and activities cancelled as our busy lives screeched to a halt. After the precipitation finally moved on the world appeared to be a combination of a fairy wonderland and armageddon. Powerlines and trees heaved and fell under the weight of the heavy ice which meant extended power outages for many.

I’m always amazed at what this old, gnarly tree can endure and, to this day, the tree still stands. (Click on the image for a larger view)

Make some noise ~ it’s Photo Friday!

If a picture is so boring that you notice the noise, it’s a boring picture. ~ Rick Sammon

Noise can be present in images. Electronic noise will be present in camera sensors, and the physical size of the grains of film emulsion creates visual noise. This kind of noise is referred to as “grain.” ~Wikipedia


I occasionally check out Rick Sammon’s photography blog and noticed this leading quote.  It stimulated some thinking about my own images and noise. I guess I’d say an image is a keeper if the noise does not detract from the impact of the image.  I’ve had some horribly noisy images especially with older digital cameras that did not perform well at higher ISO’s  but still had some keepers due to the strength of other elements of the image.  Or, sometimes it was just the best I could do under circumstances which deemed a photo “good enough.”

The image above is a blend of  6 images plus a very faded texture layer.  The image of the bar crowd is very noisy – shot at 6400 ISO. With all of the other activity within this piece the noise doesn’t jump out but I’m not sure if I’d enlarge this to a huge size.

It’s not the same road…

We all have our own roads to travel, don’t we?

It's all the Same Road

It’s Not the Same Road

The good thing about starting a new year (at least in our minds)  is the opportunity to evaluate life and how we are living it.  Resolutions, lists of things you wish to accomplish or goals to attain may have occupied your thoughts the past 24 hours.  How long the effort to work on these items may waiver as the year goes on, but we still must live our life until the end.  We can make all the plans and goals we want but sometimes life can make the decisions for us and we just have to roll with it.  So here’s to the new year and may your path be easy and smooth.  Hopefully, we don’t trip on our own feet!

It’s Photo Friday – Bliss…

My world, my bliss

My world, my bliss

Bliss is a viewed as a positive term and something we are constantly searching for.  How far do we need to look?

My guess is bliss is there as long as I pay attention.

  • spending the day doing something I love
  • sipping wine on the deck, overlooking my palatial estate (the cowyard and back pasture)
  • appreciating God’s creation wherever we go
  • volunteering to help someone in need and feeling good about it
  • eating a meal with the primary ingredients coming from my garden and meat raised locally
  • remembering road trips
  • when my grandaughter smiles at me
  • my cozy bed at the end of the day
  • a warm house during a raging blizzard and knowing your family is home and safe inside
  • feeling as though our kids are doing well even if one lives in a college “Animal House” from the John Belushi era, another lives on the other side of the planet in another culture and the other is discovering the joys and challenges of parenting

I’m sure younger people, such as the young man in the image,  have a list that is much more exciting than mine but this is my life and my list.

What’s on YOUR list?

Affairs of the heart…

The ability to tolerate pain may be considered an attribute but my husband, Randy, may have carried this a bit too far.  We associate pain down the left arm and tightness in the chest with a heart attack but pain located in the neck and shoulders we tend to blame on strained muscles from something we did. Never did we dream that strong, fit, healthy eating Randy who regularly has complete physical check-ups could be having a heart attack. Fortunately, he had been taking multiple aspirin tablets for pain so his blood was thinned down during the 1 1/2 hour drive to Sioux Falls, SD. (Thank you, Bryon, for being a good and speedy driver. Now you can put ambulance driving on your list of accomplishments.)

A primary artery was blocked 99% and was the culprit causing the heart attack. A stent was put in to fix the artery causing the attack but the angiogram showed another primary was 90% blocked and two secondary were 80% blocked. Who’d have thunk it, huh!   Two more stents were put in to form a “Y” 3 days later to fix a main and secondary at one time. The remaining secondary one will be controlled with medicine.

We have been educated on affairs of the heart this week and I’ll always be amazed by the advancements in the field of medicine. The Sanford Heart Hospital in Sioux Falls, SD is an amazing facility with  top notch staff.  Thank you for the exciting vacation – we were just discussing last week that it would be nice to get away for a few days and you were here to provide.

I try not to dwell on the “would have/could have/should have” so let’s just say that God was looking out for Randy in spite of everything we did or didn’t do out of either denial or ignorance. Randy commented that he was glad Pastor Mueller came to the hospital with a comforting message and Holy Communion. We are so blessed that we have Jesus and the promise of heaven. Sounds like a “win/win” scenario but I’m extremely thankful that Randy is all fixed up and after cardiac rehab will be good to go.

In time of trouble…He shall set me upon a rock. Psalms 27:5