If you ever get curious enough to visit the prairie towns in Minnesota, you may want to visit Godahl.  It was founded by Norwegian immigrants in the 1800’s an its name translates to “Good Valley.”

It seems to be a little ironic since the town is on the prairie at least 30 miles from the river valley. In 1894, a bunch of Norwegian farmers got together and formed their own cooperative store so they would not have to travel the 60 mile round trip by horse and wagon.

The farmers once had a post office and railroad depot. Those buildings and remnants are gone. What remains of Godahl are ragged old houses and the remains of an old convenience store.

the fixer upper.

The expired store boasts a heading of 1922. The store that is still in existence and is the only functioning business in town, is the coop that the Norwegian farmers founded in 1894.


Godahl also boasts a beautiful ball field quietly nestled in between corn fields, kind of like the one featured in “Field of Dreams.” Godahl is only a stone’s throw away.

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Going to Godahl

A couple of years ago I bought some locally raised meat from a farmer and went to purchase it from a butcher in a small town called La Salle, in southern Minnesota. I got lost and ended up in a really small town called Godahl. There were no businesses in operation other than a Coop that was housed inside an old building and had a historic marker next to it.

I was frustrated as I had no idea where I was, but happy the coop was open. When I went inside, I was taken back to another time like I just went into the “Twilight Zone.” The shelves were situated in the same way as a store from the 1930’s.  The selection of items included factory made foods as well as homemade goods.

A woman in her fifties behind the 1930’s press button cash register was having a conversation with a man who appeared to be in his seventies. They looked at me with surprised eyes when I opened the door.

“Can I help you?” the woman asked.

“I’m lost,” I said. “I can’t find La Salle. But this is an amazing place and I just want to walk around and look at it.”

They turned to me, and smiled with eyes lit up by pride.

“La Salle is only four miles down the road,” the woman said, and she gave me a few more road directions.

“I’m coming back someday to take pictures and talk to you more if you wouldn’t mind?” I asked.

“We would love that,” she answered.

I never went back though I thought of it often, until recently. I bought a quarter beef from a local farmer and it was to be processed at La Salle. I couldn’t remember how to get to La Salle so I put the location on Map Quest and set out to get the meat that day as a blizzard was forecast for the next few days. Map Quest got me all screwed up and somehow I was driving on a road that would have taken me to Iowa.

I started thinking of the way to Godahl and it wasn’t too much longer before I found it. This time I did not go to the Coop because I knew the way to La Salle from the directions the woman had given to me.

I wasn’t able to get back to Godahl even though I wanted to, for a couple of weeks when the weather went unseasonably mild.


This old garage would make a great art studio, or maybe an awesome bar and restaurant. There are some fixer uppers that are not currently for sale, but you may be able to negotiate with the owners, if they are still alive.

the fixer upper.I submitted these images and some information to  #Ghosts of Minnesota.Com. Not sure if they will be interested in my idea for more pictures and stories or not. One thing I do know is that I am going back to go to the store again. It was founded in 1894 and is the oldest surviving coop in Minnesota.

I’m going back to Godahl for sure!

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How Fluffy the farm cat got 15 minutes of fame from a sunset photo

It has been an unusually mild winter in Southern Minnesota this year. We don’t have much snow and we have had temperatures in the mid forties (Fahrenheit) which is really rare for us. I wanted to take a picture of the sunset but Fluffy the farm cat wanted her picture taken and kept following me everywhere.


Fluffy is the daughter of a feral cat who decided to make our farm her home. Fluffy is not the type of cat who is “in your face.” But, she does follow me around, probably because I feed and water the farm cats so she tracks my every move.

I walked to the road to check out the sunset. It wasn’t quite ready for the photo but when I turned around, Fluffy jumped on a stump and started ripping it up with her claws like she was determined to take the whole thing down.


Even the horses were watching! Then she decided to dig further into the stump, but still no food!


I decided to make sure the horses had enough water and guess who followed…

on the fence

After everyone was fed I got the sunset photo…


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How to make the best frosting with hardly any electricity!

I’m going to share a delicious recipe for homemade frosting that will save you money, taste good and has no preservatives added. Did I mention the recipe is free? Everyone will be begging you for it. But first you will have to read my blog.


Cooking Under a Dim Light is what I would call my blog if it was about cooking. For the past month, the only overhead light in the kitchen has been out of commission. No, it’s not the bulbs, the fixture is done. My kitchen is currently lit by a floor lamp with one 60 watt bulb.

I decided to bake up a batch of brownies to take to work tomorrow since we will be working overtime and I really hate overtime. I needed something to make the day better. How about brownies?  The brownies needed frosting so I looked at an old Betty Crocker cookbook recipe for frosting.

I hate store-bought frosting. It smells funny, and it looks and tastes waxy.

Here is the recipe from Betty Crocker:

2 2/3 cups confectioner sugar

1/2 cup cocoa

1/3 cup soft butter

3 to 4 tablespoons milk

This should be whipped up well with your mixer or food processor. To this I added 3 tablespoons of instant coffee and 3 tablespoons of peanut butter.

Best frosting ever! I had more than enough to frost the brownies. Tomorrow I am bringing the brownies to work and am planning to sell the leftover frosting to the highest bidder!

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Finding a Reputable Copywriting Course

I received “The Copywriter’s Handbook,” by Robert Bly today. I skimmed over it and read a few chapters after working 8 hours at the factory today. After just a preliminary examination, this book looks worth reading for anyone who has an interest in copywriting. I will be reading it thoroughly and putting it to practice.

In my last post I wrote about “Paid to Blog,” by Tom Ewers. I subscribed to his course and paid $49.95.  I  sent him an email suggesting he view my post to let him know I was reviewing his course. I did receive an email response the same day, “I’m afraid Paid to Blog isn’t the “instant fix” you’re after; succeeding as a freelance blogger requires time and hard work.”

I think we may have a bit of misunderstanding here. The “instant fix” I needed was to start learning since I was impatient about waiting for my books to arrive. Anyhow, kudos to Tom Ewer who followed through on his promise that he responds directly to you within 12 hours.

I found the preface of the course to be rather boring and long. I know it is part of the sales pitch but I don’t want to hear that much about how dull his life was and how exciting it is now. I want content that will enable me to break out of my dull life. But I continued reading the modules.

You will be advised to create a WordPress blog advertising yourself.  Okay, I have a WordPress site that is not professional and I have no idea how to go about making one. On top of that, I don’t even know how to begin. Ewers recommends, http://fizzle.co/start-a-blog-that-matters?aid=437. Is it free? No. It costs $1.00 to join for one month. After that you are charged $35.00 a month if you wish to continue.

If you are interested in building a career as a freelance writer there are hundreds of courses you can choose. The fees range from thousands of dollars from the AWAI, to $29.95 for an infomercial when you might be better off buying a book like “The Copywriter’s Handbook” available at Amazon for 1 cent plus shipping (usually $3.99).

Writer’s Digest is a reputable source and offers courses, but they will cost around $300.00. WordPress offers courses in about the same cost range. It seems like every writing site offers something that will help you write better and get paid or at least noticed, but maybe you don’t have that much to spend.

One thing I did learn from going onto “Start a Blog that matters”  is that I am going to have to start a whole new blog. My current blog is a mish mash of subject matter and is not professional. I may want to retain it so I can write posts like “Death of a snowman,” or “A true account of meeting the Tooth Fairy,” just for fun.

In the meantime I hope you don’t mind if I continue to add posts about “Paid to Blog,” or “Start a blog that matters.” In a world where scams are almost the norm, I’ll continue with them for a distance. I’ll give them a chance. And by the way, I’m not lazy, Tom, just a little out of practice.

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Paid to blog

I’m looking forward to receiving some books in the mail. The post mail, not the email or downloadable type. The books I ordered are: The Copywriter’s Handbook: A Step-By-Step Guide To Writing Copy That Sells and “Start and Run a Copywriting Business“. The books are by Robert Bly and Steve Slaunwhite. I placed my order with Amazon.com about a week ago and have yet to receive them. The two books cost under $20.00 with shipping.

But I was getting impatient. I wanted an instant fix, not a scam. What do you think of AWAI? I think it is a scam. I could be wrong though. It sure would be great to hear from someone who took one of their courses and achieved success.

In the meantime I managed to get hooked and jumped for the bait. I paid $49.95 for it. It is called: Paid to Blog by Tom Ewer who claims to have been hired as a WordPress expert. “I already have a blog,” I thought. “Why not learn how to write them for pay?”

For a guy who claims he almost failed high school English and claims you don’t need to know it that well, his writing gets good grades from this former English teacher.

I don’t know if this course was worth it or not. It did get me to write a new blog and plan a series. Over the next 6 weeks I will update you with reviews on Paid to Blog. This is not an endorsement, just a review.

Please comment if you have anything to share in reference to Paid to Blog, the AWAI, or either of the two books mentioned earlier. I look forward to hearing from you!

I don’t like scams. I want to sort out what is legitimate and what isn’t. I don’t have that much money to spend investing in anything. Is your information worth what I paid? It better be…

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A true account of meeting the tooth fairy


Just thought I would share a Facebook notification from my daughter in law and a tooth fairy story.

“Well my sweet Ava Ryan lost her very first tooth. After assuring her last night over and over it wouldn’t come out in her sleep and she would not swallow it (she was very worried, almost to tears). Well, It decided to come out in her sleep and she indeed swallowed it.”

Poor Ava! Her worst fears came true. The tooth fairy is busy trying to think of ways to make this work out…

I am not so fond of the tooth fairy anymore because when I lose a tooth, a new one does not grow in its place. I do recall being 6 years old and losing a tooth. I can’t remember if it was the first or second tooth I lost, but I was ecstatic!

The tooth fairy would leave a shiny dime under the pillow in return for the prized tooth.

I remember the night I met the tooth fairy. I shared a room with my older sister and we slept on single beds on either side of the walls. I was so excited about the tooth fairy that I just couldn’t hold it in.

“I’m going to stay up all night and see what the tooth fairy really looks like. I’m not going to sleep until I see her.”

“Ok,” my sister Lynne said from across the room. “Tell me what she looks like tomorrow morning.”

Lynne fell asleep quickly and I was left to play with my stuffed animal toys in total darkness ever so quiet as I didn’t want to wake her or scare the tooth fairy away. After a while I thought, “The tooth fairy only does her magic when you are sleeping. So I should pretend to be asleep.”

After waiting and waiting, pretending to be asleep, the bedroom door finally opened . A dim ray of light and shadows were all I could see. My eyes were open nearly as big as dinner plates but in the darkness, the tooth fairy did not see this.

The tooth fairy was big! She was not little at all and she had long hair that was wild looking. I knew it was not my mom because she kept her hair braided. I could not control my excitement and shouted, “Lynne! It’s the tooth fairy!”

That’s when the tooth fairy said, “Close your eyes while I do my magic, or I will never come back!”

I squeezed my eyes shut and waited for the tooth fairy to leave. Then I reached under my pillow and felt the shiny dime.

The next day I told my sister that the tooth fairy does not look the way you think she would.

Not everyone gets the same tooth fairy. Mine was amazing!

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Riding the bicycle

Writing is like riding a bicycle. Once you learn the skills even though you are out of practice, you can just hop on and it will all come back to you, right?

I haven’t ridden a bicycle in years but the last time I did, it wasn’t pretty. I had problems with steering. Worse than that, I didn’t have the same strength or stamina I had when I was younger.

I found that writing is similar to riding a bicycle, at least for me. Without exercise, I’ve become sloppy and out of shape. Thinking about freelance writing for retirement income has been my latest endeavor. I started researching courses, books and came across a few golden rules for writing that I am sharing with you here.

Write Often

“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.” Louis L’Amour.

I want to be a freelance writer but I don’t write anything other than some Facebook posts occasionally. Seriously? I need to slap myself in the face! If I can’t find the time to write on a daily basis, how am I going to succeed as a freelance writer when I will have to devote several hours a day to writing?

It is also like riding a bike. Writing on a daily basis is exercise that strengthens abilities over time. Just because I once was a good writer doesn’t mean I am still a good writer when I let myself get out of shape.

Good writing does not just blossom out of thin air. It takes time and work.


“The first draft of anything is shit.” Ernest Hemingway

I really need to remember this because too often I publish my first draft and later am embarrassed by my writing. A good example of this is of some writing samples I sent in to a copywriting service where my test results were rejected . I spoke about this in my last blog.

The samples were still online with the company. I read them again. I was embarrassed at my sloppy writing. The editors had good reason for rejecting my samples. If they hadn’t rejected them, they wouldn’t be good editors.

“Proofread carefully to see if you any words out” Author unknown. (Ha! That could be me.)


“If you don’t have the time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” Stephen King.

This is an important step to writing better. Read whatever you want to read. Do it to learn. By reading more I’m finding ways to become a better writer and gaining a broader view of the world.

These three simple tips can be found easily by anyone researching writing.

I thought I could just hop on the bike and race. It doesn’t work that way.

(Please feel free to comment. I welcome your thoughts.)

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Someone is snoring too loud!

I can’t get to sleep because someone is snoring. I’m tired, but can’t think of anything else to but get up and write on my sadly neglected blog. I never really defined my blog as you can tell by its very boring name. I started it just as a way to express myself.

I was completely blown away when as a new contributor, I was freshly pressed with “Death of a Snowman.” I got something like 3,000 hits. I was never able to duplicate that success in later posts though I gained a small following.

My posts turned into photographs with some captions or a brief explanation. After a while my posts dwindled down into a once every few months kind of thing. I still can’t believe anyone is following me.

I’m getting cabin fever in a bad way even though it has been a mild winter so far. My boring factory job does not offer much in the way of personal fulfillment. The sleeping, snoring giant is waking me up.

I’ve been thinking about doing freelance copywriting for the last several months. I wrote radio and print copy several years ago so I thought, “I can do this!” I submitted three writing samples to a contractor off Craigslist to get started with a little extra income. They responded within the timeline they advertised and I was rejected. They wouldn’t say why I was rejected.

Oh well, that’s the life of a writer. The contractor didn’t pay that well anyhow. In the meantime, I bought a couple of good books on copywriting. I looked at online courses but many seem way overpriced. There are some that say you can make 6 figures by writing sales letters. All you have to do is send them around $500.00. They just send you course materials and you don’t get feedback.

But while these writers may be good at getting people to bite the hook, you may be wasting precious money. They sell dreams and get you to spend your hard earned cash for it.

I choose instead to research, read, write and forget about rejection notices. Just waking up the sleeping, snoring giant within.


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Open to change

I recently met a young photographer who is helping me learn my complicated camera and sometimes we go to places that are a little out of the ordinary. Here is a photo of the door leading to an overgrown courtyard in New Ulm, MN, a small little town In Southwestern Minnesota. I came here about 20 years ago. It isn’t all paradise…

George'sThis photo is of a doorway that actually leads to a courtyard from what once a grand ballroom in New Ulm.

Here is a photo of some of the interior of the ballroom in its current state…

IMG_6276For me it is not that scary since I’m getting older too. Anything or anyone falls apart after time.

I’m not a native of this town which is mostly of German descent. But if I want to get out and learn about photography and my camera, I have to go where my young friend wants to go occasionally even if it is in town.

route interiors

I’m learning that even places you might not ever think of capturing might be just the places you should go.

When you open the door to your eyes, you open the door to your mind.

I got a photo of the armory today too. Working with a telephoto lens getting the photo was not easy. But, I was able to get it from over a block away.


So my message is that sometimes we need to go outside of our comfort zone and open our eyes up to the world that is right in front of us.


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