The Event

We all attended a banquet at the Blue Mound Banquet center and then the “Authors of Siouxland” program. The formal event was at the Palace Theater.

It featured authors Freya Manfred, Thomas Pope, John Rezmerski, Joe Paddock, Nancy Paddock, Jim Heynen, Scott King, with Fred Manfred Jr. as the host.










Here are some shots during the event including a shot during a reading of a part of a draft screenplay of Lord Grizzly.

The Reunion

It was a great weekend in Luverne MN. We (more about that in a minute) ventured to Luverne to join the celebration of the 100th anniversary of my Uncle’s birthday. Frederick Feikema Manfred was my Dad’s oldest brother. There were six brothers. An entertaining recapt of their childhood can be found in the Green Earth (ISBN: 0-517-529858).

This weekend had been months in the making. I am not just referring to all of the work that Freya Manfred, Fred Manfred and Ben Vander Kooi did to make the formal event happen. I am also talking about the reunion.

The “We”

12 out of 15 of the cousins (nieces and nephews of Frederick) all ventured to Luverne for the weekend. We came from MN, CA, AZ and WI. It was reminiscent of the reunion at Blue Mounds of the brothers (and families) and Grandpa Frank in the early 1970s. It wasn’t just the cousins; we had three aunts (Willie, Ellen and Marlene), 7 spouses and little Josie.

We started the weekend with a “tour” of Luverne hosted by Fred Manfred Jr. We visited many of the local spots, City Hall made of stones from the Blue Mound Quarry.

wpid-IMG_0221-Version-22-600x400-2012-04-24-14-40.jpgWe stopped at Roundwind (Fred Sr. last house),

wpid-IMG_0228-Version-2-600x400-2012-04-24-14-40.jpgwatched Ann, Jeri and Abby mugging for each of their cameras.

wpid-Photo-0-Version-21-600x364-2012-04-24-14-40.jpgand Blue Mound Interpretive Center (Fred Sr’s. prior home that is now a part of the state park).

wpid-IMG_0245-Version-2-600x400-2012-04-24-14-40.jpgIt was fun visiting the old house and reminiscing. We even found an old blueprint and remembered where the old rooms were.

wpid-AQ2B1417-Version-2-600x400-2012-04-24-14-40.jpgAfter that, our horde descended on the local Pizza Ranch.

wpid-AQ2B1415-Version-2-600x400-2012-04-24-14-40.jpgJeri with Willie, Ellen and Marlene in front.


Dawn taking a snapshot of Freya and John.

A great time was had by all.

On Saturday and Sunday we had additional time to tour the park, and attend the celebration. More about this in my next two posts.

Feeding time for the Red-tailed Hawk

Spring is arriving early in Lake Elmo. The critters (rodents) emerged from their winter hideouts and that seems to have attracted their predators sooner than normal.

This is half of our local nesting pair. They were both on this branch, but by the time I returned with the camera, only one remained.

They are quite successful hunters as you can see. He also seemed to want to brag about it. I am sure that if he could beat his chest, he would.

He seemed quite worried that someone else was going to ask him to share. He checked to his left;

And then to his right;

And finally decided that it was safe to eat the rest. Chipmunk tartare. Mmmmm.

February Escape (Part II)

This time we were able to venture off the property and do some touring.

We took a day trip (8AM to 6PM) to Chichen Itza. This is the Temple of Kukulkan, usually called El Castillo. One used to be able to walk to the top but now it is closed. Perhaps a tourist had too many cervezas and fell.

This is the first of two shots of the Temple of Warriors.

Here you can see part of the “Group of a Thousand Columns” which used to support an elaborate roof system.

At Chichen Itza I saw more Iguanas than near the coast. They were sassy and,

bold too.

On the way back we stopped in Ticimul for lunch. We had fresh hand-made tortillas

And were treated to a little song and dance.

Heading back we stopped in the nearby Town of Puerto Morelos. While we’d visited Playa del Carmen earlier in the week, I liked this much smaller town better. It was quite quaint.

Besides, it also has the Leaning Tower of Puerto Morelos.

February Escape (Part I)

We were able to escape to Mexico recently. It was a awesome 11 days of doing very little. At least doing very little that required effort. We went back to our favorite spot El Dorado Casitas.

Here are two views from our balcony. This one is looking down at the swim-up casitas and;

this one looks across at the other casitas on the second level.

Finally this look is facing east and gave us views of the Caribbean and;

nice sunrises.

From our vantage point we saw a number of feathered friends like this Yellow Warbler.

Some were visiting from the SW area of the US like this Hooded Oriole and

some were indigenous like this Great-Tailed Grackle.

We also had three Crocs, Roberto, Maria and Raquel. I think that these two shots are of Roberto.

Say “Cheese.”

Trumpeter Swans

I read an article recently about the annual arrival of Trumpeter Swans in Monticello. There is a lot of information about it here. They usually arrive in December but with the unusually warm winter, they are just starting to arrive. I ventured out there today and grabbed a few shots.

They come for two reasons. One is open water…

…the other is the 150 pounds of corn that volunteers leave every day. There were about 200 swans there today, fighting with the ducks for their share of corn.

They don’t appear to be going hungry.

Moon over Lake Elmo

Two weeks ago we spotted the full moon shimmering across the snowless ice of Downs Lake. It was one of those, “quick – go grab the camera” moments.

The Eagle Landed

November was slow. I even resorted to posting one of last years Sandies from our trip to the Bosque.

Today, driving along the Lake Elmo, Mary spotted our local pair of Bald Eagles. We were only a couple of miles from home so I was able to gear up and catch a couple of nice shots.

They are magnificent!

The Bosque in 2010

Last year in December we went to the Bosque Del Apache for the annual Sandhill Crane and Snow Geese migrations. It was amazing and we’ll never forget. Here is a shot at dawn. I think that it captures the mood and feeling of the day


Still getting the hang of the new body and the new autofocus system. I love it but it does take awhile to get the hang of it. In mass takeoffs like this its 45 points come in handy. Geese on Downs Lake.

This trumpeter decided to stop in for the weekend. There were a few pairs but not too many. Again – we were just temporary grazing for them on their way south.

Finally I think that this is a female Wood Duck. Cute in an odd sort of way.