so many Reasons for the Season

Sign by Becky Frank


A few of my followers grew up in my home village, Clearwater, Minnesota.  You knew where the Kniss’s Grocery  sat–on Main Street, downtown Clearwater. Ellis Kniss carried everything that any grocer carried in the larger towns. While it didn’t sell clothes that I can remember, the window shelves carried candy jars galore.  From lemon drops to root beer barrels, a kid could satisfy that sweet tooth for a penny.  Its main source of income was the sale of all sorts of meats, shelves of Fairway canned vegetables and fruits, juices, frozen goods, lots of fresh produce, and plenty of ice cream novelties–sherbet push-ups, Eskimo bars,  Cheerios, fudge cycles, ice cream bars and so much more for a dime or less.  But a few weeks before Christmas, Ellis also stocked evergreens for the holidays.  


The Foundlings

My father’s search to find our tree

would often take him out to see

if he could find at Kniss’s Store

a Christmas tree like years before.


Up against the mart’s north wall

stood evergreens so lush and tall.

But on the ground, my dad detected

a scrub-discarded and neglected.


A tree to touch his tender heart—

for orphaned man, his counterpart.

He dragged it home where we awaited

a tree to love—when decorated.


As it stood in stand, we realized

the tree was less than he’d surmised.

The bells and balls, a garland rope

just didn’t help. We gave up hope.


Out of ornaments, so what to do?

We finally admitted we were through.

Tinseled and lit, a star on top

that dried up tree was still a flop.


           Now years later . . . in memory,

   I think that I shall never see

  a poem as ugly as that tree—

         or one that means so much to me.

Christmas is magical.  Even during Covid-19 times, we have renewed hope in dire circumstances. We love the lights and the sparkle in little children’s eyes as they wait for Santa.  I remember well my inkling that he might not be real., but I didn’t want to ruin it for my little sister. The setting again is at the Abeln farm on Warner Lake, Lynden Township, Stearns County, Minnesota–just a few miles from Clearwater.


Yes, Virginia

Navy-blue, crystally winter’s night.

Glittering sifted snow, icing topped lake,

evergreens muffed in white.  I plodded

as Becky pulled me down the glossy road.

A bundle of blue, she sometimes followed,

sometimes led, sometimes jumped over my feet

as she chattered about baby dolls, Santa’s snack—

star-shaped cookies, his tummy and our chimney.

Late autumn’s whispered secret unmasked the man.

a grown up woman of ten, I played my part

for my younger sister that Christmas Eve,

although I no longer believed.

Carolers sang, “. . .won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?”

I grumbled, “It’s time to go home.”

As I turned, my eye caught a wink of light

dashing across the blue-black sky.

Becky and I tumbled through pockets of snow.

The yard glowed—lit house and trees.

I blinked.

Who’s that hunching in the shadows?

Mom, traditionally dressed in pink flannel gown,

pulled off our coats and pushed us into the living room.

Becky ran to a diapered doll and teddy bear.

I gazed at a white-veiled Barbie,

Betty Crocker Bake set, white fur-topped boots.

On the floor lay the empty green 7UP bottle

and a plate of cookie crumbs.

I ran to the window.  Cupped my hands around my eyes.

No reindeer, no sleigh.

But on that navy-blue, crystally winter’s night,

I decided to believe another year.


   @ Cynthia Frank-Stupnik

My prayers, like all of yours, are for better and healthier year to come, for more sunlight than darkness, for more blessings than pain.  

Merry Christmas and HOPES for a Happy New Year.




The Magic Bag

Today, December 6, is St Nicholas Day.  You can click on the link for historical facts about the man, but my German community celebrated him in its own way.  I wrote and published the story in Postcards from the Old Man in 2004, but lately I have been reminiscing lots of home and family.


   In an insane attempt to get some Christmas shopping done early, I took off to the shopping mall the day after Thanksgiving.  Wandering shoppers, full of yuletide spirit, bumped into each other, smiled politely, and said, “Excuse me.”  Smiling clerks cheerfully reminded their customers to “make sure you keep your receipt if you want to return this.” 

   I knew that later in the season when shoppers rushed to finish their buying and clerks grew weary with the crazy hours and demands, the merry mood in the mall would change.   As I was pushed from one end of the mall to the other, I saw grown-ups and children standing in a long line. Once up close, I watched a young child, a curly brown-haired girl–maybe three or four years old, crawl onto Santa’s lap. I observed this nouveau man in his too-red suit and flat belly that made him look like he was just taking time out from his racquet ball game at the local YMCA. I remembered how I first met the man my small, German community called St. Nick.


It was a typical night in our pre-women’s lib household.  My ten-year-old brother Donnie stretched out on the floor to watch “Howdy Doody.”  Dad, sitting in the big rocking chair with his right leg hanging over the arm, read the evening newspaper. Mother washed the dishes and dipped them in clean water to rinse as I stood on a chair and wiped them dry with a white kitchen towel.  This night, though, I didn’t dilly-dally because I knew that company was arriving soon.

After I hung up the towel to dry, I ran to the living room window and peered out just in time to see two headlights beam into the driveway.  No Dasher, no Dancer, no Prancer, no Vixen, just a ’57 Studebaker station wagon screeching to a stop.

“They’re here,” I shouted.

“Big hairy deal,” Donnie mumbled and stared at the TV with his chin cupped in his hands.

How could he just lie there?  Didn’t he remember what happened last year?

I rehearsed softly, “I want a Tiny Tears and a Betty Crocker Bake Set.  I want a Tiny Tears and a Betty Crocker Bake Set. ”

Soon I heard the screech of porch screen door followed by a loud pounding on the door. Dad laughed but hid behind the newspaper.  Mom wiped out the dishpan.  Apparently, they weren’t going to make a move to let in the visitors.   Without being invited, a red-suited man with a pointed red hat, red blobs on his cheeks and a short, white beard opened the door and walked in. Behind him, brandishing a snake-like whip walked a big man whose name was lost on me.  Black soot covered the man’s face and his baggy, brown suit. V-shaped eyebrows rimmed his dark, beady eyes.

The man in red, St. Nick, looked in my direction and roared, “Have you been a good little girl?”

I walked over and stood beside Mother. I wanted desperately to hide my face in hers apron just so I couldn’t see their faces staring down at me, but I knew I was too old for that.  Mother smoothed my dark brown curls, nodded, and smiled reassuringly at me.

I looked up as the old red man boomed, “Then what do you want Santa to bring you for Christmas?”

I swallowed hard and babbled, “Atinytearsandabettycrockerbakeset,” in one long breath.

“Well! Help your mother; obey your father; don’t pout; don’t cry.  Then St. Nick will see what he can do.  Remember, I’ll be keeping an eye on you.”

Out of a big brown sack, that magic bag, the scary man with the black soot on his face pulled a small, paper bag bunched in the middle.  He handed it to me.  Quickly, I reached out and snatched it from the black, gloved hand before it could grab me. After I said, “Thank you,” I peeked into the bag, smelling peanuts and spicy candy ribbons.  I saw a couple of chocolate drops on the top.

Not Christmas, but about the right year.

“Donald!” bellowed St. Nick.  “Stand up here!”

I half hid behind my mother as I peeked at my brother.

“Ah, I don’t believe in you anymore.  You’re a fake,” Donald muttered.

Oh no, I thought, here we go again.

The man in brown growled and snapped his whip.  Grabbing my brother by his back-belt loop, he shoved him in the big brown sack.

I knew that sack had magic powers.  It held everything–candy for good children, charcoal for bad.  I knew that my brother was in that bag smothered in charcoal, yet Dad just sat in his chair.  I heard him laughing as he kept reading the paper.  Mom stood there with her hand covering her mouth.  Neither made a move to help my brother.

“Let me out of here.  You’re stupid!”

The devilish man untwisted the sack, snapped his long, shiny, black whip and growled as Donnie jumped out.  I looked at my brother, except for a very red face and sweat on his forehead, he looked all right–no soot!  He didn’t run to Dad or Mom; he just stood there looking at the floor.

“I thought you had learned last year, young man.  This is a warning.  You’d better watch yourself or there will be nothing under the tree for you this year.”

With another snap of the whip, the sooty man thrust another candy-filled bag at Donnie. Then growling and snapping, the two visitors stomped out the door, hollering, “Ho, Ho, Ho!”



I still remember the too-sweet taste of the chocolate drops I ate after our visitors left.  Although I do remember receiving the Betty Crocker Bake Set that year, I can’t remember if I received the Tiny Tears or if Donnie was “good.”

   Mostly, I remember the dual nature of the holidays–the joyous expectation mixed with dread.  Those same dualities have remained.  Every Christmas I look forward to buying one new tree ornament, drinking hot apple cider, and singing old carols with my friends and family.  But I dread the crowded stores, the hard gift decisions, and baking and frosting cookies.  For me, Christmas will always be a magic bag–full of good and bad.  Each year I hope for its wonderful gifts–while its demons lurk, waiting.


Warner Lake, my “Walden,” and my walking stick

Walden Pond or Warner Lake. Which is which? 



Warner Lake, November, 2020.

My sister usually knows when I am dry and need to revamp and refuel so I can write.  So one warm, Fall day, she and I hiked a bit around our lake. This is home.  We lived here for over five years when we were young. I have composed poems, essays, and even books about this area. It is honored to be called one of Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes. Even though it is about half the size of  another watering hole I am inspired by, Walden’s Pond, near Concord, Massachusetts, its size has never minimalized its occupation as a lake.  It is here at my inland sea, I seek my refuge, my muse, my soul’s nourishment, so to speak, when I wander around Warner Lake.

Often, after school starts in September, the paths and dock are nearly empty, but today we had quiet company.  Becky and I thought we had a clue to what was being gently pulled from a car when we parked  for our walk.  As we got out, grabbed our jackets, I grabbed my deerhead walking stick, and I locked up, we saw a ball of white fluff at the end of a leash.  I wondered: Maltese? White Terrier? Chihuahua? Ah, a Shih Tzu!  Nope, on all types. Instead, we would be followed by a white Persian, pulling its owner toward the lake while her boyfriend hauled the fishing gear.  What?  A cat heading for a lake?  Sure enough, the kitty laid on the blanket, but turned its head and body  away from the water.  While the couple started to fish for crappies and sunfish, they told us that they go everywhere with him, and he especially loves it here at Warner Lake.  We then settled down in quiet contemplation, me for a literary nibble, they for a chance to grill later in the day, and my sister for a photo op.

A couple years ago on a trip to Snake River Fur Post, I made an impromptu purchase that has serviced me quite well.  Until I had knee replacement last year, I hobbled around too vain to use a cane.  So there in the Fur Trading post, in the gift shop, I found wonderful walking sticks for sale.  I could have picked from bear, moose, wolf, or deer.  I chose Rudy who has guided me on my path since.  This day, he led me to where I could sit and stare at the familiar vegetation that has changed little since I was a child.  I think of our summers wher the fish jumped nearly into our boat, where I wandered down to the bridge crossing Plum Creek that flows in and out of the lake on its way to the Mississippi, and to winter where he led Santa’s sleigh across the black, starry sky for my little sister nearly sixty years ago. As I hang on to Rudy now, I do so for balance as while the knee is 100%, the back is suffering from years of injuries.

While kitty naps far away from me, (everyone knows I do not like cats) and sister takes her always surprising pictures, I feel refreshed and refocused.  It is the air, the swishing and lapping of the blue-green water, and the joy it gave my family, Camp Suima’s campfire girls, and George Warner, its namesake for the farmer who settled here in the 1860’s, and the Chippewa, Sioux, Ojibway that came long before us.  For me, this small lake creates stories and lessons my old friend Henry David Thoreau could appreciate if he were still at Walden.  I now have my next chapter.


P. S.  Pict on the left Walden Pond, Pict on right Warner Lake, me below at Warner with Rudy leading me on.


He was not a strong female character that I write about fin my Minnesota Main Street Women series  from Clearwater, Minnesota, but he held a few positions like in the village like mayor, church councilman, volunteer fireman, and good, steady father. Harold Frank would be 108 today. One hundred years ago, Feb. 20, 1920, he also became an orphan, along with his 2 sisters. Despite his loss, he was a quiet but strong role model for me and my two siblings. He also provided me with plenty of story and poetry material.  His strength and fortitude gave his two daughters and son quite a path to follow.



In hot pursuit

1 if by land, 2 if by sea…. Cindy Stupnik
is @ it again. Looking for clues on Lake Minnetonka…
Is she trying to find the footsteps of Simon Stevens,
founder of Clearwater and also the first white man
to lay eyes on Lake Minnetonka?
Is she looking for his mill site on Gray’s Bay
@ the headwaters of Minnehaha Creek?
Or more likely has she spotted the alcoholic beverages @ the bar…?
More adventures in the making.

Becky Frank


This huge body of water, circling the shores of many lovely towns like Excelsior, Deephaven, Wayzata, and Shorewood has intrigued me ever since I learned about Simon Stevens, Clearwater founder and brother John Harrington Stevens, Minneapolis founder.  Both men were born and raised in Brompton Falls, Quebec, Canada.  John Harrington, the older of the two, became colonel in the U.S. Army after fighting in the Mexican-American War. Simon followed his brother once he settled in Minnesota and helped build his house, the first house on the west side of the Mississippi across from St. Anthony.

Simon Stevens made his own history. Well-known around Minnesota during his life span, he and a group of fortune-seeking explorers paddled westward from the Mississippi River on the Minnehaha Creek approximately twenty-two miles.  The group portaged around a huge falls, but once they got to the headwaters of the creek, they viewed a huge body of water that would become known as Lake Minnetonka one day. At what would be called Gray’s Bay, they built a sawmill.  Simon did not stay around long but sold his rights to search for his own land to call home.  This would become Clearwater, at the mouth of the Clearwater River that flows into the Mississippi, and the setting for many and most of my works.

A couple of years ago, for a birthday trip, I asked my husband to take me to Lake Minnetonka to find the area where Simon Stevens and others built the mill.   This site has a wonderful hiking path, small dam, and offers lots of historic information, evening mentioning Simon Stevens.

So as I work on my next book and wanting to see if we could find any type of imprint of Simon’s, my sister Becky and I signed up for a cruise on Lake Minnetonka. We had beautiful weather, albeit a bit cool,  and viewed many luxurious homes, boats and their houses. We heard about some of the lake’s history, especially the Big Island where amusement called out to adventure seekers during the early 1900’s from nearly all over the world. Jennie Phillips, protagonist in Scruples & Drams visits relatives and friends in Excelsior, and even Jennie Phillips’s sister Ruthie’s autobiography refers to the the ride around Lake Minnetonka and Big Island Amusement Park:

The summer after my father passed away [1904] Pat [Ruthie’s older sister Harriet] and I were invited to go to mother’s sister [Harriet Ada Crossman] and family who lived at that time in Excelsior on Lake Minnetonka.   We had never been to a large city before so we were quite excited as we had to go to Minneapolis and then change trains to go out to Excelsior. . . I loved the trip over and we stood at the rail of the boat and watched the rainbow in the drops of water as they flew off the paddles of the large water wheel at the side . . .  So many beautiful homes and some places just woods.

We knew already that the park was no longer in existence. Yet, when the captain of our Lady of the Lake cruise ship drew close to the shore of Big Island and mentioned it was now a nature park, I was dismayed; I so wanted to see something of the past.

In past research for Pins & Needles, I learned protagonist Maude Porter’s aunt, uncle, and cousins settled near the lake in Excelsior as well.  Annette Robinson married Mark L. Knowlton.  Knowlton was the Clear Lake, MN, postmaster at the time.  The family eventually moved to Minneapolis and finally to Excelsior where he worked for the Pillsbury Company:

In the early 1900’s, [the Mark Knowlton] family was living in Edgewood at Lake Minnetonka and he would ride his motorbike from the Lake into Excelsior.  (Anyone owning a motorized vehicle in those days was noticed) where he’d park during the day, and catch the train or streetcar into Minneapolis.  The process was reversed in the evening.  In later years the family remembered the good bread that “Grandpa” brought home from the testing kitchens at Pillsbury.

On another trip a couple years ago, my sister and I toured more of Excelsior, trying to find where the Knowltons once lived. We found one house.  At one point in 1921, Mark Knowlton and his son purchased the James H. Clark’s home that was built to become a boarding house [and now is a bed and breakfast–the Bird House Inn] from the children of Clark and his wife. After Mark died, his son “J. E. “Jack” Knowlton who ran a horse and wagon delivery service around the lake via launch,  and was also the proprietor of Knowlton’s Cabin Camp adjacent to the south, at 411 Water Street, from 1932-1948 [took it over.]  His wife, Mrs. J. E. Knowlton,  always had roomers in the big house.  She was born Alice Howard, granddaughter of homesteader Silas Howard, for which Howard’s Point on Lake Minnetonka is named.”

Unfortunately, we saw nothing like horse and wagon, an old-fashioned motor bike, or even a mirage of a saw mill.  Our cruise did not even take us to Gray’s Bay because to get there from where we boarded in Excelsior would take a five – six hour cruise.  Since there is little to no public history tour of the lake, we had to admit that we had researched the people and had seen many  of the sites that were to be used in my next book.  (Please, if you know something we don’t know, let me know

Yes, I am  in a “hot pursuit” of characters, plots, and history again to bring alive another Minnesota Main Street woman for my next novel.  But I already have the makings of a couple HOT romances, some wiley twists and turns, a few not so nice individuals–with a juicy murder or two–and lots of historic tension.




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Destination: Pig’s Eye

My sister Becky took this picture of me along with other pictures and posted it and the following on Facebook after our trip on the Mississippi area of St. Paul.

Now where the heck is Cindy Stupnik looking for plots? She is smack dab in front of Pike Island and can’t decide if she should go to her right and visit St. Anthony Falls or head left to Fort Snelling. There are people to discover at both places. People that will settle the western frontier as well as Clearwater, Minnesota, “Hub of the Universe”! Tales to be found and tales to be told….. and some are true. Adventure awaits….”

Early in the week, my sister Becky and I took a trip up and down the Mississippi River by St. Paul, MN.  This has been on my bucket list for quite awhile. We had a grand, albeit slow, journey suitable for history buffs.  Mondays are $10 so it is a reasonably cheap ride. On top of that, when do we ever get such beautiful weather in June–mid 70’s?  The sun refused to shine, but we were comfortable and happy to see some of the original and oldest parts of  St. Paul.

I mistakenly thought we would also be heading further south to Ft. Snelling and the Sibley House on the Minnesota River.  Despite this, we learned so much. I’ve read Maud Hart Lovelace’s Early Candlelight ‘s novel a number of times, and she describes the area so well.  Like DeeDee, the protagonist, I wanted to also look up the bluffs on the Minnesota to where  Ft. Snelling stands.  Another famous spot, down and across the river, is the Henry Sibling House and the Fairbault House, to name just two, which are some of  the oldest structures in Minnesota.  I have visited both Fort Snelling and the Sibley Historic Site, but I wanted to see  it all from below on the river.

Padelford Riverboats

Unfortunately, our cruise’s itinerary did not include these sites so I have to rely on my memory. Goodreads says:  “This historical novel set at Old Fort Snelling in the 1830s is a rich and romantic re-creation of the early settlement period in Minnesota’s history.”  This is a work of fiction.

Last week, I read a non-fiction, autobiorgraphic work,  Early Days at Red RIver Settlement and Fort Snelling by Barbara Ann Shadecker Adams.  She, too, writes about this early day before Minnesota became a state in 1859. Her perspective is from her own experience set in the same time about 1830’s but from her own memory.   She, too, talks about the people and places that give life to this early time in Minnesota.

So, I’ve mentioned places like Fort Snelling,  the Sibley and Fairbault houses, the Red River Settlement, and the Minnesota and the Mississippi Rivers. Now let me mention another person–Pig’s Eye. Both books talk about him.  Pierre “Pig’s Eye” Parrant was a retired fur trader who took up settlement on the banks of the Mississippi where St. Paul begins.  Neither author show him much respect, to say the least.  He supplied booze to anyonewho had money to buy.  The site Minnesota Fun Facts reads, “’Pig’s Eye’ snuck over territory lines and found this rather convenient spot from which he could sell bootleg whisky to soldiers and Indians without ‘the pale of law.’ In 1838, Parrant erected a cabin at the mouth of the cave [on the Mississippi River] to sell liquor from.” Locals called the area “Pig’s Eye Landing” based on Parrant’s popular tavern.   Despite his lack of character development,I had fun seeing this area, the future St. Paul,  on our cruise.

Pig’s Eye cave 

So why all this interest in this part of the state and these white settlers who came to the newly opened area west of the the great river first?   It was a drop off point. From St. Louis north, the Mississippi River carried many  pioneers on its back to step off on its shores. Others from points east also rode the steamboats north and south to find  new homes.

Here travelled my characters into the area for my next novel, a prequel to the other two that are part of the Minnesota Main Street Women’s series.  I decided to write a prequel because Clearwater and Minnesota had a few first women settlers, one is my protagonist is.  I hate to leave you hanging for another year before you know she is. First, I wrote about Jennie Phillips, the woman druggist in Clearwater.  Her story takes place in 1895, and you can read for yourself the story line on my site.  The sequel was about Maude Porter, one of the first girls born in the village who stayed put–never married and never moved out except for when at the age of 102-3 she went into a nursing home.  Her storyline is set in 1909-10.  Now, DRUM ROLL, I am writing about Maude’s mother, Abigail Perkins Camp Porter.

This first woman in Clearwater, came in 1855 to become the housekeeper for the townsite hotel owners, one of which was Simon Stevens, a founder of the village and brother to the father of Minneapolis, John Harrington Stevens.  This book is still in progress–and I continue to research as I write.  Abigail’s story needs to be told as well as I can because as I dig, I find her remarkable because of the the strength, courage, and momentum she had to come nearly half way across the country to start all over again as a recent widow.  I can’t give away too much, but I promise I will stay true to her as another strong female protagonist.

I love what Ruth Benedict the anthropologist/scientist once said, “I long to speak out the intense inspiration that comes to me from the lives of strong women.”

This, too, is my desire, my direction, and my ultimate destination.

Happy Holidays and More!

I like saying Merry Christmas, but I have some friends who have different religious convictions.  So this is for all of you and us.

This is my summary of the year.  I am not sending out cards this season for a number of reasons.  Much of my time this summer and fall was taken up by healing from knee replacement.    I went into rehab right out of the hospital to start the cycle of strenuous physical therapy.  I got home and continued.  I did well, and continue to do well.  Thank you to those who knew and offered hopes and prayers.  It all worked.  It honestly took the summer to get my brain somewhat back to thinking straighter, though.  Medications and healing really can take a toll. 

Then when I started to get better, I sold books and spoke at a few United Methodist events while spending the fall editing and citing my essay on Rev. Mary MacNicholl, the first woman in Minnesota to receive full-clergy rights in the Methodist Conference.  Frank and I took off to Blair, Nebraska, in October to meet and visit with a good phone friend, Muriel Neve, who was Mary’s good college friend at Drew Seminary.  When I returned home, I concluded my editing and citing the paper that ended up to be 66 pages, not including 3 citation pages.  It has been sent to its new owners, The General Commission on Archives and History for the Methodist Church in Madison, New Jersey, from which I received the grant to write about her life.  I am still working on the video that I produced.  I have it in that format, but I cannot seem to sync it with the music.  Hopefully, that’ll come soon.

I was “on” Christmas until last week when my husband was admitted to the hospital with extremely low hemoglobin counts.  Four days of being put to sleep, three times for tests including bone marrow,  a transfusion,  iron shots, and blood testing each day, and we are no closer to an answer.  Some guesses but no answers….. I am thankful he is home, but this year on our anniversary I have come to realize the real test of marriage comes in the vow “. . . in sickness and in health . . .”  Frank has had many health issues since he retired–almost all of them here in Central Minnesota. Hopefully, we will have answers soon.

For all of you, I hope for a blessed season, and I hope for all of us a great and greater new year.

I leave you with a Christmas poem that I published in Postcards from the Old Man a number of years ago:

Around December 14, Dad, and sometimes the rest of our family, went to find our tree. For years, we drove in from the country and bought from Ellis Kniss at the Kniss’ Fairway Store. Because the branches were wrapped, wired, and often covered in snow, we were always surprised with what we had purchased once we began to unwrap our symbol of yuletide cheer.


My father’s search to find our tree

would often take him out to see

if they would have at Kniss’ Store

a Christmas tree like years before.


Up against the mart’s north wall

stood evergreens so lush and tall.

But on the ground my dad detected

a scrub—discarded and neglected.


A tree to touch his tender heart—

for orphaned man, his counterpart.

He dragged it home where we awaited

a tree to love—when decorated.


As it stood in stand, we realized

the tree was less than he’d surmised.

The bells and balls, a garland rope

just didn’t help. We gave up hope.


Out of ornaments; so what to do?

We finally admitted we were through.

Tinseled and lit, a star on top

that dried up tree was still a flop.


Now years later…in memory,

I think that I shall never see

a poem as ugly as that tree—

or one that means so much to me.




Video premier today—taken down.

Sorry, I had to take down my video because YOUTUBE and movie maker in Microsoft were incompatible.  I will let you know soon when I will reload.


Today, December 5th, 2019, my Mary MacNicholl video will premier at 5 pm CDT.  The title is “Mary MacNicholl: A Woman with Vision.”  I had no extra help creating the video from powerpoint but it meets the needs for the grant I received from GCAH of the International United Methodist Church.   I also sent a 65-page essay, with a 3-page bibliography to Drew, New Jersey, their headquarters.  I want to thank those who helped me (and everyone else who had to listen to me whine about it)  with this large project.



As I continue to research my next novel in the series Minnesota Main Street Women and attend various selling and signing events for my previous books, I think of how to answer those who do not know that the historic village of Clearwater, Minnesota, began beyond Nelson Brothers, below the hill,  and tucked under the Highway 24 bridge many  people travel to get from Clear Lake,  to Annandale, or Interstate 94.  Would a brown historic sign on the Interstate help those interested to know more about this quaint town?

Simon Stevens’ house in Clearwater.

Even when people know that Ole Man River rolls by this lovely village, they probably don’t know the history surrounding the area. Many are surprised that Simon Stevens, one of the founders of Clearwater, was a younger brother to Minneapolis founder Colonel John Harrington Stevens.  Of course, the name John Harrington Stevens isn’t just on the tip of their tongues either.  Both were mover-shakers-promoters in Minnesota, seeing the potential of milling around bodies of water like the Mississippi and Lake Minnetonka. Nothing remains of his house, but history and maps tell us he settled on section 1, somewhere near the Plastic Plant and the Lyons’ Club, off County Road 75. Here is another tidbit:


Star Tribune, 7 Jun 1876, Wed, Main Edition

Three unidentified women by Cedar Point

One book buyer, after browsing through my historical Around Clearwater and seeing the picture of three unidentified women  asked, “Where is Cedar Point?”   My answer was a bit ambiguous.  How do you explain what used to be is no longer there?  When I was younger, I might have told him to take Highway 152 north, turn right across the bridge, and drive down the dirt road past Michaels’ house. At the fork, turn right and go just a few hundred feet to see the river and the village island. This was Cedar Point, and little was left of the early settlers’ beloved spot. Now, I had to tell him to head north on County Road 75, turning east once past the dam. Maps on my cell show it is now called Franklin Rd. Go with the curve of the road a half-mile or so and take the road that leads to the right.   Now private property,  the little village park sat where half-million-dollar or more homes now stand.  Beware;  Locals aren’t necessarily invited to have a picnic on the owner’s property.

Clearwater has many historic homes, businesses, and landscapes waiting to be explored. I’m pondering where to go next?

Book clubs and other groups:  I’m waiting for an invitation to come to your group.  Just send me an email.  I love talking about Minnesota Main Street Women.







My journey

I can’t express the truth I find in this statement. As a researcher and writer of history, I get lost in the search. Sometimes, friends or relatives say, “GET WRITING!” But I love the sojourn of finding and learning so much the I wallow in its security. Sometimes, like right now, I make promises to return to my desktop “to begin” my new story as soon as I get whatever finished.  As of this minute, I am in the cleaning and re-organizing process of my computer room. The dust is thick, the papers are stacked high, the room with that overpowering blinking blank screen is hard to find. I know and appreciate all those who have helped me on this journey–my sister, my husband, my children, their wives,  the grandchildren, my friends, and followers. Although defeat is a word I don’t mention, except when dieting, I will soon get back on that lonely trail to find my truth again.

I’ll be selling and signing my books at the Perfectly Unique Arts and Crafts Fair this upcoming weekend, Oct. 12. Come out in the mess of rain and SNOW to pick up some early Christmas presents. From 10-3 at the St Cloud River’s Edge Convention Center, downtown St. Cloud, MN, I’ll be sitting at my table waiting for you.

This is a picture of young Lloyd Laughton in front of the Boutwell Hardware Store. Maude Porter is upstairs in her millinery store, creating her hats and wondering how long she can keep watch over the drunks going in and coming out of Quinn’s Saloon across the street. Read all about it in PINS & NEEDLES. My other books, SCRUPLES & DRAMS, and AROUND CLEARWATER, will be there as well.