31 December 2010

not an ending, but a beginning.

Last post of the year--I can't believe it.  It's only natural on New Year's Eve to sit here and think about all the ups and downs of 2010, while starting to prepare myself for 2011. It never ceases to amaze me how fast one year can go, and yet life can change so dramatically in such a short time. The opportunities, blessings and obstacles of life are like clay, and I'm the artist trying to mold myself into the person I aspire to be using all the experience and knowledge each day brings.  Although there is plenty we can't control, it is incredible to think what power humanity has over the present and future.   As I sit in the same spot I almost always sit when writing these posts, I look outside the big picture window facing south and see the big elevator among the cold black and white earth bearing the simple word: Windom.  I knew this city had always played a role in shaping who I am today--you know, while growing up here and such, but I would have never imagined it would continue to change my life as it has these past few months.  What a glorious feeling.  So, as I reminisce, while counting my blessings and saying goodbye to 2010, just know that this is only the beginning, Windom.  I've got my 2011 resolutions all over you...

Finding Windom Forever.

29 December 2010

it's the reel deal.

Jackson State Theatre was recently mentioned on the Minnesota 2020 website, which is a good thing for us.  The owner of the Jackson Theatre also owns the Windom State Theatre and for this to be mentioned on this website raises awareness of the trials rural American small businesses face.  It is good to raise awareness of these trials, especially at a state level--it can lead to good things.

Check out the story at: http://mn2020.org/issues-that-matter/economic-development/video-movies-on-main-street

Don't forget to "cheer" for Windom today at http://www.wehearyouamerica.readersdigest.com/!

Remember, you are allowed 10 cheers a day, so use them today and tomorrow and the next, and the day after that...

If we get everyone to use them everyday until February 7th, we could give Windom a great financial opportunity. Tell them why we are great and tell them what we need--they are listening...

I'm casting my votes to help give the Windom State Theatre a face lift,

28 December 2010

i voted. will you?

I normally don't do stuff like this, but it is easy and worth a try...Reader's Digest is offering an awesome opportunity for towns to receive monetaries to help better the community, and Windom needs your vote!  I've signed us up and now it is up to us to "cheer" us on!  The city with the most votes gets the pot! 

What a great blog post that would make if Windom, Minnesota won!!  You can make it happen!

Tell your friends and family!!

Follow the link below and type in Windom, MN or 56101 to vote or "cheer".



Find Windom on a map of a million cities,

25 December 2010

merry christmas.

It has been a while since my last post, I've missed it and apologize.  The past week has brought me such winter luck as I have been ill.  It isn't often I come down with such sickness, but all in due time I guess.  I'm glad I have finally started to feel like myself again for the holidays, especially because I would like to wish you all a very merry Christmas.

Enjoy each moment, believe in the impossible, laugh much, make right, savor each taste, count blessings and have yourself a very merry Christmas.

Continuing to Find Windom together...

16 December 2010

honesty is the best policy.

Since the reason I started writing this blog was to track my journey of creating a more thriving and vibrant community in which to work and play, I don't think I should cheat anyone by not sharing everything.  While trying to remain very positive, as hard as it may be sometimes, I want to update you on some things I've been up to.  I want to start with my efforts to get Jim Austerman's original composition of "The Christmas Bells of Windom," which was written just for us and for our chimes and that I wrote about in a previous post titled "ring on", played on our beautiful courthouse bells.  After doing the research about who runs the bells and how to make this happen, I was unsuccessful for reasons beyond my control.  I cannot change the minds of those not willing to listen.  I knew I would have many hurdles in this journey, I knew I wouldn't be able to get everyone excited about the possibilities in Windom and to grasp its uniqueness. So after mulling it over in my mind and heart, I just have to move on from this project with my head held high knowing I tried and hope that someday this task will happen just as quickly as it was dismissed.  Just know, my friends, this task should have been as easy as the push of a button, I just couldn't get the finger to push it.  There is one thing you should know about me, I don't give up easy, nor do I easily accept the word "no" without a good, logical reason (and it is annoying at times-just ask my husband, I apologize), but I just had to let go of this task for the time being.

Second, I wanted to make a note that I so humbly applied for the EDA Executive position in town.  I was hoping this position would be a chance to really make a difference in the community by giving me an opportunity to use a WHOLE DAY to act upon my ideas for Windom's rural economic growth. Oh what a dream that would have been--for it to be acceptable for me to think about what I already think about day and night, which is ways to see this community flourish beyond its wildest imagination both economically and socially.  I was a little disappointed I wasn't notified by the Authority of their decision to rule me out or that they didn't give me an opportunity to interview as a sixth or third finalist, to share my assets and abilities, ideas and passions, but I will move forward knowing that everything happens for a reason.  There is a place for me to do my work of Finding Windom, I guess it just isn't in that office.

I am looking forward to meeting the gentleman they chose and pray he grasps the uniqueness and importance of our downtown Square by reaching out to prospective small businesses and exsisting business owners alike. I hope he takes into careful consideration where the EDA spends its money, by encouraging the Authority to invest money in reaching out to potential businesses and not in useless, expensive market research.  The community of Windom's voices should be the investment and the research--it's always free and always correct.  I hope he likes the idea of restoration along with new.  New is not always better, both concepts cost money, but only one makes our city more memorable, more distinguished and more desirable to potential tourists, families, and businesses than the next city--it is what sets us apart from the other million cities on the map. I'm am looking forward to meeting the new EDA Director--he will be an important asset to Finding Windom. 

press release.

I'm very excited about the opportunity I have been given recently.  This is just another important step in my process to Find Windom, and I can't wait to get started.  You'll be seeing me out and about promoting this great program for rural Minnesota.  I hope Windom grasps this opportunity as well--the internet is an awesome tool--take it from me *wink, wink*

Watch for this informational press release regarding this opportunity coming soon from yours truly:

Helping Windom Businesses Use the Internet to be More Successful

Mari Harries has teamed up with the University of Minnesota Extension in an eighteen month effort to encourage local businesses to use the internet.  The goal, says Mari, "is to show Windom businesses that there are simple and creative ways to use the internet that they may not be using now, to reach new customers, sell more products and services, and stay connected with their existing customers." Mari will work with Extension and local businesses to coordinate a series of workshops and guidance to resources to be offered to local business people and residents.  These workshops will include introductory topics such as why it is important to be "Doing business on the Internet," how to make sure your customers can find you, "Roadside Advertising in the Digital Age," and using social media (Facebook and Twitter) to improve your business.  These workshops will be taught by Extension Educators who will also offer more advanced workshops and will be available to consult with businesses.  The first workshops will be offered in beginning in March.

"I've just started working with Extension on this project," says Mari, "but I'm really excited.  They've got some wonderful ideas and great workshops.  What we'll be offering will really benefit our local businesses and the community overall." "Using the internet to promote your business does not have to be complex or expensive," says Hans Muessig, Extension's Program Director,"there are simple things almost any business can benefit from that can make a significant difference in their bottom line."

Extension's work in Windom is part of the larger Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities (MIRC) project.  MIRC is a coalition of statewide partners including the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, the Minnesota Learning Commons, regional development commissions, and Extension.  MIRC's focus is to bring the full promise of broadband (internet) technologies to rural Minnesota communities, businesses, and people.  The project is funded through an American Recovery and Reinvestment Grant and the Blandin Foundation of Grand Rapids, Minnesota serves as the project administrator.

For more information Mari encourages you to contact her at 507.822.1691 or findingwindom@hotmail.com.

14 December 2010

jealousy issues.

I’m going to go out on a limb and I'm going to really show myself here...ready?  I am going to boldly tell you that, well, I’m jealous.  I'm jealous of the people who get to work and play around the downtown Square all day long while I’m stuck looking at a computer and answering phones.  Don’t get me wrong, I am very grateful for my job and do like the pace and unpredictability the day presents, but oh, how I wish I could look at that beautiful courthouse all day and those unique historic buildings surrounding its grandeur, while I think up stories of their splendid past.  I could listen to those chimes sing to me on the hour, and I could greet Windom’s guests like Larry’s smile does.  How I would love to attend Chamber coffees every Friday morning and talk about my favorite subject, which is no secret at this point that it’s Windom.  Yup, I’m jealous of all the people who get to be on the Square all day…know that you are blessed.

12 December 2010

frosted windowpanes.

On Friday, I was looking forward to the idea of not being able to go anywhere.  With the weather reports in favor of one of the biggest storms since the Great Halloween Blizzard of '91, the idea of staying home would give me a chance to catch up on chores like cleaning, organizing that room that collects a bunch of misfit items or tackling that list of to-dos that have been piling up. As I woke up on Saturday morning to a whole lot of white and the promises of a blizzard had been fulfilled, I already started to get antsy.  It didn't take long and this whole idea of being able to go nowhere was unsettling--I quickly found out that I don't do well with stuck.  It wasn't even close to noon yet and I was wishing I could get out to go get my morning coffee...yeah, I could have brewed my own, I had some Dunkin' Donuts whole beans, a grinder, a brewer and a holiday coffee mug I got as an office gift last Christmas, but it just wasn't going to satisfy my need of my morning ritual of Super America's Dark Roast with a splurge of Caramel Cafe Latte to top off the last 1/4 cup.  I know, it sounds crazy, but I felt lost.  How was I going to get all the stuff done that needs to get done without my engine starting coffee?  This staying in wasn't as fun as I thought it was going to be.  I couldn't even see the grain elevator bearing in bold the word Windom which is only a few blocks away--heck, I couldn't see the neighbors across the street.  As the day went on and the crisp white snow crept up the screens on the windows, the outside world that I'm so familiar with was drifting away faster than one of my "normal" days-and that is fast. What now?  I looked at Henrik playing on the floor so delightfully and paying no attention to the cold wind blowing around the white burden falling so heavily outside.  I sat on the floor next to him, he gave me a big smile, and he showed me his world all afternoon.  It was simple, we played Patty Cake, he is so close to crawling and wishes he could just run instead, and I encouraged, he showed me his love for "big boy foods" like spaghetti, he showed me his belly laugh that makes me melt when it is paired with that mostly toothless (except for 2!) smile.  I quickly started to forget about all the things I should be doing.  That night, after a full day of being with my family in the home we created together, I noticed the windows were completely covered with white--couldn't see anything but pure snow and the outside world was gone.  All those things I thought I should have been doing that day, all those chores, well, they are still unfinished, still waiting to be done.  The one thing that should never wait are those simple things Henrik showed me while the snow kept us in our warm, peaceful home. 

08 December 2010

an evening on the square.

It was the second and final day of the Finding Windom fundraising event, a Young Writer's Workshop.  To get the kids' creative juices flowing we started with some Mad Libs.  If you aren't familiar with Mad Libs, let me explain: it is a short story in which you ask someone for a word such as a noun, adjective or verbs, etc, but the people providing the words have no idea what the story is about, so it turns out to be quite a wacky and funny story.  The kids absolutely loved to hear what the story would end up sounding like after filling in the words.  Damon created a story titled "An Evening on the Square," and this is what the kids came up with (the kids words are in bold):

It was a weird day and a group of hideous kids decided to run down to the Historic Courthouse Square in Windom.  They all couldn't agree on what to do so they split up.  Tori and Cheyanne wanted to go to the Plum Creek Food Coop to buy some hilarious hair designers. The ladies there said, "you must be angry, we don't sell those here!!"  Halen and Noah thought it would be more fun to see a movie, so they  jumped over the fluffy movie theatre.  The movie was good, but they had to sit next to a golf courseEric and Hannah decided to just scream around the square.  They enjoyed the cute buildings and courthouse and also took their picture with Larry Buhler and a Centerstop!!  At the end of the day everyone met back at the courthouse.  All of the bouncy kids looked at each other and said, "What a jig evil Barb day!!"

Crazy, but oh so much fun!

Thanks kids for making this class a success.  Keep writing!

06 December 2010

sharpen your pencils.

Today Finding Windom held the first day of a fundraising event, a Young Writer's Workshop.  After doing a few writing activities to get their creative juices flowing, which was not hard for those kids, and giving some instruction of helpful tips to selecting a subject and organizing, we gave them an opportunity to start writing a story.  The amount of imagination these kids have was nothing short of amazing.  I was pleasantly surprised they were so eager to write and learn about it as well.  Those two things, imagination and an ability to write, are very powerful and useful tools!  As the room quieted while they started to put their ideas onto paper, I could hear their pencils gliding across the lined paper as quickly as they shouted out ideas.  Every once in awhile some of them would stop to shake out the knots forming in their little hands from moving the pencil so quickly and then just as fast as they dropped the pencils to do this, they would immediately pick it back up and continue where they left off.  It was refreshing to see such excitement come from these youngs hearts and minds for the very thing I get excited about as well--writing.  They absolutely made my day, and I can't wait to do it again on Wednesday.  All these wonderful opportunities Finding Windom has made for me!

05 December 2010


The weeks just keep passing so quickly and Christmas is almost here.  Looking through the Shopper today, it was exciting to see all the great things happening around town.  So much to keep us busy and spend time with family and friends to enjoy the season.  One of my favorite parts of this magical season is the amount of selfless giving happening all around.  On Monday at the old Duebers store, kids will have an opportunity to pick out a gift for their parents or guardians and all money made from this fundraising event will go to the Christmas Cheer Box.  This is just one of the many ways our community has an opportunity to give to those less fortunate.  Today, a friend and I went to Subway with a gently used blanket and received a free sub! These are only a few things going on around the community that makes this the most wonderful time of the year!

Happy Holidays,

02 December 2010

wish you were here.

Dear Courthouse Christmas Lights,

The holiday season is upon us, and I was looking forward to seeing your bright face.  It has been a lovely year, and it seems like so long since I've seen you last.  I was hoping we could see each other this holiday season, but I guess life gets hectic and crazy, so maybe we will just have to wait for another year.  I looked to see if maybe I could catch a glimpse of you tonight, just like old times when you were so reliable, but all I saw was darkness.  It was even difficult to see the beautiful architecture you drape every holiday season against the dark, cloudy night tonight.  It made me sad to see only black in the very spot I used to see you. I wish you could have told me sooner that you wouldn't be making it for the holidays this year, so we could have made other arrangements.  May the spirit of Christmas be bright enough to light our community just as you did for us for so many years.  You will be very missed, Mr. Courthouse Christmas Lights. 

Until we meet again.

Your friend,

30 November 2010


It's cold and windy and snowy and I love it! And I'm sure most of you don't agree with me, and I completely understand.  Since I started working for the school, I feel like I'm ten years old all over again just waiting to hear those oh so delightful two words...SNOW DAY.  What a great birthday present for me today! It is rather funny to think about how my exciting snow day went from putting on my snow pants and boots to play on the big snow pile in the American Lutheran Church parking lot across the street to getting excited about finally having time to clean the house--something a ten-year-old me would have definately frowned upon.  Boy, have times changed--and so quickly.  What a wonderful, snowy day in southwestern Minnesota, it forces me to relax and slow down once in awhile, even though there is much to be done for Finding Windom. 


27 November 2010


I was rather excited when I was asked to write about rural economic development, a subject I'm very passionate about, for the blog Hindsight on Minnesota 2020.  What an awesome opportunity for Windom, and I look forward to writing more for MN 2020.

Check it out on http://www.mn2020hindsight.org/

Here is the post I wrote for Hindsight:

Rural: Not Just for Farmers!

One may think because I live in rural southwest Minnesota , I know everything one needs to know about harvesting and planting fields of corn and beans, I tend to farm animals like cows and swine, but I don’t. I may have dabbled in wearing cowboy boots because of a Hollywood trend some ridiculous celebrity magazine told me about, but I sure wasn’t wearing them for any morning chores. Although farming is one of the main reasons my small rural city of Windom, Minnesota, is on the map, the beauty of technology gives rural economy a chance to bloom beyond agriculture.

While the internet can hurt our rural economy by giving residents an easy option of shopping at the click of a button and finding the exact service needed by using a search engine, we must remember it would be that much easier for others to do the same to find us. Not only can we use the internet to market our services, but market our unique, pleasant way of life.

Despite past trends of flocking to urban areas to obtain employment and endless opportunities, technology gives many people an option to choose where they want to live based on the quality of life in which they seek, instead of where they are employed. Our rural areas are a wonderful place to live, work and play; it is a relaxed pace of life, surrounded by peaceful wildlife, neighbors, family, friends, and plain good living. I believe a lot of people are seeking just those things in a place to call home or to visit, so here is our chance to find and tell them “we have a place for you!” No need to be a farmer to live and enjoy rural, the internet works here too (psst…you don’t even have to own a pair of overalls or drive a tractor).

Read more about rural life at http://mari2cents.blogspot.com/

25 November 2010

giving thanks.

1. That big beautiful courthouse in downtown's center.
2. Our unique downtown square with a perimeter of history, character, and endless possibility.
3. The thriving businesses that give me that great small town service.
4. The parks.
5. The Des Moines River.
6. Lakes!
7. The Historical Society.
8. Hwy 60 and 71.
9. The school and my wonderful daycare provider.
10. The fastest fire department and EMT volunteers you can find.
11. The Toro Company.
12. The railroad tracks.
13. Wildlife and the peaceful outdoors at my fingertips.
14. Family and Friends so close.
15. So much to keep me busy and so much to keep my happy.
16. Windom and all its possibilities.

22 November 2010

o christmas tree.

I'm not a big believer in celebrating Christmas before Thanksgiving, but I've made an exception tonight, although I hate to admit I'm bursting at the seams just waiting to play Christmas songs. Tonight, Finding Windom decorated their very first Christmas Tree as an organization.  The Historical Society is putting on their annual Festival of Trees from December 1-23, and we are very excited to be a part of it!  I encourage everyone to check out the holiday cheer by going to see all the beautiful trees on display in the Remick Gallery, one of Windom's highlights, during the month of December.  Don't forget to vote for your favorite one...I won't tell you how to vote, but the Finding Windom tree is nice.  Season's Greetings from Finding Windom!

18 November 2010


Tonight I got to experience just another reason it is good to be here.  The Windom Area High School presented the public with Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and it was nothing short of amazing.  To see and hear all those talented and wonderful kids up on that stage blessing us with their almighty voices gave me the goosebumps.  Not only do I appreciate those kids on that stage, but the people dedicating their time and knowledge to direct these kids to do their ultimate best is something we should all be thankful for. 

Thank you to the cast, crew and directors of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.  You are a great asset to this community and put on a show tonight worth a thousand bravos!  THANK YOU!

14 November 2010

oh, mr. channing, you are so correct.

Beauty is so precious, the enjoyments it gives are so refined and pure,
so congenial with our tenderest and noblest feelings,
and so akin to worship, that it is painful to think of the multitude
of men as living in the midst of it, and living almost as blind
to it as if, instead of the fair earth and glorious sky, they
were living in a dungeon.

-William Channing

11 November 2010

it's nice here.

No person can perfectly put together the correct words to describe the beauty of a quiet night at home.
It is during these nights, when the world around me is settling in for the upcoming hours of rest, that I take a deep breath and find the inspiration that keeps me going.  I don't have to dig too deep or look too far to find just what I'm looking for.  I find it in that beautiful baby boy I just put to sleep and in the snoring Boston Terrier seeking warmth next to me.  I find it in the creaks and strange noises of this old house we call home.  I find it in the man who continues to adore me for exactly who I am (as hard as that may be sometimes).  It is during these quiet nights that I sit, write, count my blessings, and look forward to another wonderful day in Windom, Minnesota.

09 November 2010

just a thought.

How do you build a truly creative community--one that can survive and prosper in the emerging age? The key can no longer be found in the usual strategies.  Recruiting more companies won't do it...The rise of the Creative Economy has altered the rules of the economic development game.  Companies were the force behind the old game and cities measure their status by the number of corporate headquarters they were home to.  Even today many cities, states, and regions continue to use financial incentives--some of them obscenely extravagant--in their efforts to lure companies.

But while companies remain important, they no longer call the shots. As we have seen, companies increasingly go, and are started, where talented and creative people are.  Robert Nunn, the CEO of ADD Semiconductor, told the Wall Street Journal the "key element of building a technology business is attracting the right people to the company.  It's a combination of experience, skill set, raw intelligence, and energy. The most important thing is to be somewhere where you have a pool of people to draw that."

The bottom line is that cities need a people climate even more than they need a business climate.  This means supporting creativity across the board--in all of its various facets and dimensions--and building a community that is attractive to creative people, not just to high-tech companies.  As former Seattle mayor Paul Schell once said, success lies in "creating a place where the creative experience can flourish." Instead of subsidizing companies, stadiums and retail centers, communities need to be open to diversity and invest in the kinds of lifestyle options and amenities people really want.  In fact you cannot be a thriving high-tech center if you don't do this.

--Taken from the book The Rise of the Creative Class by Richard Florida.

07 November 2010

ring on.

Windom needs this beautiful song composed and written by Jim Austerman to be played on our courthouse bells.  I love waking up to the bells of the courthouse and hearing those bells play on the hour, and how wonderful that Jim Austerman has composed this song for Windom.  We should be proud and honored he has done this for our community, and this melody needs to be a part of our downtown in respect of his gift to us.

06 November 2010

the coop finale.

The finale of the Finding Windom experience with the Plum Creek Food Coop was a huge success!  It was an eventful and exciting Grand Reopening, and I had a blast.  There was a great turnout, and I appreciate all the support and attendees the beautiful morning brought to the downtown square.  How wonderful to have such events grace our square on a Saturday morning!  I can't thank Jim Austerman and his wife enough for the generousity of sharing such gifts with us.  Thank you to the staff of the Plum Creek Food Coop for allowing Finding Windom the opportunity to put our visions for the Coop to life. And a big Thank You to all the people who helped during this transformation--I couldn't have done it without you!  I'm looking forward to more exciting things to work on...
She's got the right idea.

Proud to introduce Wheeler Bread--available on Wednesdays and Fridays!

FRESH COFFEE will now be available everyday during Plum Creek Food Coop store hours!

05 November 2010

people do.

Ah, a Friday night.  I love Friday nights because they are full of possibility.  A carefree night, a weekend to look forward to.  And this Friday night was perfect--a night at the good 'ol Bergen Bar and Grill.  For those of you who are not familiar with this Bar and Grill, you are missing out on one of the ten wonders of the world because it is nothing short of amazing.  You are probably wondering what makes it so remarkable because it is so tiny that you have to wait for seating (sometimes for up to an hour or two), it is oddly located, and the parking, well, what parking?  But I'm telling you the food, the food is well worth the wait.  This place goes against all rules of the restaurant world except for one thing: people are willing to wait hours for and willing to drive miles for damn good food.

While you wait for one of the 10 tables that are crammed in the old small building located in the absolute middle-of-no-where between Windom and Jackson, you have two options based on the time of year--your car, in the winter of course, or the deck in the summer. And while you wait in one of these two places, you can order a cold beer or set up (you can bring your own bottle) and stare at the abyss of farmed fields and lose yourself in the abundance of wind turbines.  You can't help but think about the upcoming experience you are going to be giving your tastebuds because in the very near future the best piece of meat you can find on a plate will be sitting right next to the best twice baked potato you can find in Southern Minnesota.  I know you are thinking I'm crazy talking about food like a teenage girl talks about Justin Bieber, but this food does not disappoint...

And people come from miles, wait and eat.  Just goes to show--if you give them what they want, they will come.

03 November 2010

if those old tracks could talk.

As I sit here staring at the mocking, blinking cursor, I hear the train coming.  The whistles blow, getting louder and louder, making it easy to judge the distance the train is away from the city.  As the powerful push on the tracks makes its way closer, the walls of this old house start to shake.  We sit a short few blocks from the tracks that were laid years earlier than the foundation of this historic house we call home.  The tracks--one of the foundations of this city.  Some may find the shaking walls and boisterous whistle rather annoying.  I guess if you're not used to it, it may come as a shock when you hear the first whistle blow and the gradual vibrations become a noticeably obvious shaking.  Sometimes I don't even notice or pay much attention, but every once in awhile especially on a quiet, restless night, I think about how many days and nights that train comes through this town and how many days and nights I have felt the walls of my house bow down to its power--even in my childhood.  It is amazing to think how many times that train has come through this city so confidently and that it still does to this day.  A piece of true history.

01 November 2010

courtesy of Finding Windom.

This is the new addition to the downtown square donated by Finding Windom.  It was a beautifully dented, uniquely shaped, planter and I fell in love with it when I saw it at the old antique store on the edge of town on Highway 60. It was perfectly imperfect.  A can of paint and some natural elements later and it now smiles at those who walk by. 

31 October 2010

loving every minute of this.

**enter sigh here**
I'll be the first to admit it's been a slow week for blog posts.  I apologize.  I've been busy getting ready for Plum Creek Food Coop's Grand Reopening set for this coming Saturday, November 6th from 10am-12pm.  I hope to see everyone there because Finding Windom has been busy getting ready.  We have changed the layout inside, added tables and chairs because fresh coffee will be available during store hours, painted a new outdoor sign, added some words to the outside window so passerbyers can quickly read what the Coop features, painted a small part of the exterior entrance, and added a beautiful outdoor planter (which was donated by Finding Windom). Oh, and did I mention WHEELER BREAD will now be available at the Coop on Wednesdays and Fridays.  Fresh artisan bread at the Coop--I can hardly wait to get some!  So many great things happening...

And Henrik enjoyed his very first Halloween, and has many more first holidays approaching quickly.  What a beautiful day for trick or treating!  Every day of this weather is a blessing here in Minnesota. The Chamber hosted a Fall Festival on the courthouse lawn yesterday, and it was fun to see all the little ones running around downtown, dressed up for the occasion--little ladybugs, princesses and superheroes surrounding our amazing courthouse.  What a beautiful meeting place we are blessed with here in Windom.  I can't help but fall in love with this season every single year--it never gets old to watch the colorful leaves make their graceful descend here in beautiful Southwest Minnesota...

26 October 2010

socrates vs. wind

If you are anywhere near a window in Windom right now (and I hope your aren't outside), you can hear the wind.  The wind has been rather strong today, much like any other Southwestern Minnesota day, but a bit stronger.  The gusts make the windows shake a bit and remind me how powerless I am in the grand scheme of things.  Wind is such an amazing thing because we can't see it, but we can only see the effects of it.  I guess this would be an appropriate time to compare it to passion--the reason I sit here and type these words for you to read.  I can continue to give you the logistics of Finding Windom--the bullet points of things we are currently working on and will be working on, but thats not quite as fun right now as trying to figure out where all this passion comes from...all this wind. 

24 October 2010

so much to celebrate for Finding Windom.

1. My $.02: Finding Windom the blog has officially hit the population of Windom!  This is great! We need to keep the momentum going because there is power in numbers.

2. Thursday evening I met with the Free Masons of Prudence Lodge in Windom.  They are the longest running organization in Cottonwood County and the experience and hospitality during this visit was remarkable.  I will be filling you in about this great organization in the very near future, but there is just too much I need to tell you because Finding Windom has a lot going on right now!

3. All weekend, Finding Windom has been very busy working with the Plum Creek Food Coop getting ready for the FOUND! by Finding Windom Food Coop Grand Reopening, which will be held on Saturday, November 6th from 10am-12pm.   I hope to see everyone at the grand reopening celebration to grab a cup of fresh coffee, see some quick demos and tease your tastebuds with some samples. It will be great!  It has been such an awesome experience working with the Food Coop.  They have been so willing to accept our ideas and help, and we hope this will be a positive enhancement for their wonderful business on our beloved downtown square.

THANK YOU, THANK YOU (I really can't thank you enough) to all who have helped with this project-- it couldn't have been done without you, and I admire you all for your dedication to Finding Windom and its mission.

And with all this said, I'm beat...so until tomorrow, my friends...

20 October 2010

finding purpose, finding windom.

Last night I got out some so-called journals I have written over many years.  I guess I was interested to see the path my life has taken over the past, well, 15 or more years.  I have been writing for quite some time now.  My first memory of really enjoying putting my thoughts into words was in 4th grade when we were given an assignment to write a poem using our five senses.  To a 4th grader that doesn't mean much but the literal, but as my mind grew into my heart, I started to realize the power our five senses have and will testify that a human has many more than five.  Feeling the need to write down all the beautiful and ugly things my senses take in from life, I would go through periods of writing all the time.  I would write future plans,dreams, hopes--everything I write about here--and then I would stop.  I remember in college I told my mom, "I don't write anymore, I used to write all the time." And my mom, being the mother she is by always giving me the right answer, said "it's because you are living it now."  She couldn't have said it any better.  I have always believed that when you write it-so you do it.  It was a beautiful day in July of 2010 that I started writing again in hopes that I would be living it.  As I flipped through past pages of hopes and dreams, inspiring pictures cut out of magazines taped on a random page or old photographs of family tucked so precisely into the binding of a tattered book, filled with pages of sometimes meaningless thought about finding the purpose of my life, I realized that Finding Windom has been in my heart for sometime now.

I couldn't be happier doing all these things Finding Windom is working on--building relationships with businesses, organizations, and community members, connecting with businesses and community members of other cities who strive for their greatest potential--learning from eachother and with eachother, exploring possibilities, encouraging positive changes, enjoying all the wonderful things Windom and the world has to offer.  Write on! I can't wait to keep writing about all the possibilities for Finding Windom because this has been the most amazing thing to be a part of--a true purpose.

And what I learned is that we are all Pinocchio: We begin our life, waving to our mother and father with out schoolbooks in hand, hoping to do well.  But we are turned this way and that.  We make mistakes, we move from our course, we falter, flounder, and may suffer remorse, rebellion, or a sense of defeat.  We seem to lose our way. But no matter! If we keep our little flame alive, our first feeling of enthusiasm of who we are, without the influence or intervention of others, we will prevail.  And like Pinocchio, despite all his transgressions, find the courage to reunite with our little flame and be rewarded.  And the reward is this: We become ourselves.

In my life I have made many mistakes.  Sometime I was careless and inconsiderate of others...But through my family I learned the final lesson of Pinocchio--what it is like to be human.  And always through everything, through sacrifice and success, I have tried to stay close to my little flame, reminding me of who I am.

The cricket tells Pinoccio, "Always let your conscience be your guide." These words, by a small, insignificant insect, give us all we need.  The best person to tell you who you are, what you should be, is ultimately yourself.

--Patti Smith

18 October 2010


Finding Windom is half way there to be known as Finding Windom, Inc.  We are a short step away from non profit status and are very excited about the doors this will open for the Finding Windom mission and our community.  Thank you to Ron Schramel for donating his knowledge, time and money to help make this possible.  Finding Windom is very blessed to have such support.  We hope to be an official non profit organization very soon!

We are also excited about the monetary donation from the Kiwanis Club and the Pankonin family of North Mankato.  Wow, things just keep getting better for Finding Windom!  We couldn't do this without your support!

Much love,

17 October 2010


Like many people, I enjoy the possibilities a weekend can hold.  I try to spend my weekend catching up on things around the house and wandering around Windom enjoying its beauty and thinking about all its possibilities.  Well this weekend started with a bang.  On Friday night, my husband and I drove to Mankato.  I know, you are probably thinking "what does this have to do with Windom?"  So let me continue... 
On Friday night, Windom's very own David Strom had an art show opening reception at the Twin Rivers Art Gallery in old downtown Mankato.  As we walked into the little stone building which housed a wild appreciation for all aspects of art, I was pleasantly surprised to see a room full of Windom residents supporting a fellow community member, friend and artist in a city 70 miles away from their own and some strangers (to me) as well.  It was just plain cool. After taking in David's artist's point of view, we decided to have dinner at a little cafe in old downtown, which was just a few blocks away from the art gallery.  As we sat in this comfortable cafe, among dimly lit lights and a small band setting up mic stands, plugging in their guitars and doing sound checks for a night of entertainment, I told my husband how I could get used to such a Friday night. We went to an art gallery at 7:30 at night and had dinner at a small cafe.  It was something so simple and yet so enjoyable.  I would love to do it in Windom sometime.  Thanks for the evening out Mankato--you are an inspiration.

Oh the possibilities we have Windom...I will find you...


14 October 2010

Larry's closet.

I know you have all been waiting to buy your very own Finding Windom t-shirt, well, you won't have to wait long...more are coming and in black!  Look for them coming soon! You will definately be able to purchase one at the Plum Creek Food Coop's Grand Reopening on Saturday, November 6th since the Coop will be FOUND! by Finding Windom. We are looking forward to bringing our ideas and passions to life with the Coop and can't wait to share it with the community at the Grand Reopening.  Watch for more reopening details coming soon--I know, you are thinking November sounds like months away, but its not...

Don't forget...Larry B. wants you to have your very own Finding Windom t-shirt...only $12...

12 October 2010

if i could bottle it and sell it.

When you put yourself wholeheartedly into something, energy grows.  It seems inexhaustible.

-Helen De Rosis

10 October 2010

gunfighter ballad.

Today I took Henrik and my husband for their first applepicking experience, and Henrik was so excited he slept through it all. As we made our way through the seemingly endless rows of Honeycrisp trees, their roots surrounded by fallen tender apples, I was brought back to the moment I decided I wanted to come home--to Windom.  I'm going to be honest, I never wanted to make Windom my home.  Of course I was always going to think of it as the place where I grew up, important, but I really thought I was a big city girl. I was going to live in the heart of New York City.  Boy was I wrong.  Never say never...

It was during this time of the year eight years ago, I was in my second year of college at the Univeristy of Wisconsin in Milwaukee and I was absolutely loving it. I came home to Windom for a weekend.  I didn't come home for the weekends often because of the long distance and lack of interest to be in the place I had been running from since graduation, but my grandpa's days were numbered this year.  The doctors gave him 6 months to live and these 6 months were going fast and coming even faster. During this weekend home from college, my mom and I took my grandpa apple picking.  It was a gray and cold day, but it was a perfect baking day none the less.  My grandpa never showed me how much pain he was in, but it was getting harder and harder to hide.  As we drove among the fields just west of town, going up and down shallow valleys of autumn rusts and oranges, it looked as though a quilt had been laid across miles of land, he took it all in.  He sat in the front seat, leaning forward, like a little boy experiencing the humbling enormity of earth, its gifts of beauty, for the first time.  This was his favorite time of year.  He was a hunter. In 5th grade he helped me with my elementary bird report.  He borrowed me his birdwatching book and knowledge so I could learn and write about all the facts about my favorite bird, the Goldfinch.  But of course I ended out learning about all the birds found in his backyard (which was only 3 blocks away from mine) and all the birds hunted in Southwestern Minnesota, but he was always good for a lesson.  While I watched him take in the view, it was silent in the car until Marty Robbin's "El Paso" came on.  An old favorite, the volume was turned up, and I watched him take in the melody too.

We made it to our destination and started picking apples.  The bitterness of the cool wind and lack of warmth from the sun took a toll on his aching bones, but he managed to put some apples in our pail.  We didn't say much.  I think I was in fear of showing any sort of emotion of truth--the truth of time and pain.  It was a blessing just to share this day with him and my mom.  That evening the house smelled of warm apple pie. Nothing is more comforting than the fragrance of an apple pie on a cold autumn evening and, even better, a piece of warm apple pie on your fork.

Needless to say, it was an even longer drive back to Milwaukee on Sunday afternoon.  I played Marty Robbin's Gunfighter Ballads over and over again thinking about my grandpa and how much he means to me and how much he taught me.  As I passed each white dash in the middle of Interstate 90, I kept thinking about how much I wanted to turn around and be with my family, sharing all the beauty and hurt of life together. Family meant home to me. It was then, somewhere in Southern Minnesota on I90, among the dust of freshly harvested fields on a cold autumn day that I wanted to come home to Windom and stay forever. 

And I was just reminded of that again today with my husband and my son among those long rows of beautiful Honeycrisp trees and smell of fresh applecrisp on an October evening.

07 October 2010

47 years later.

Come gather 'round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You'll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you
Is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'.

Come writers and critics
Who prophesize with your pen
And keep your eyes wide
The chance won't come again
And don't speak too soon
For the wheel's still in spin
And there's no tellin' who
That it's namin'.
For the loser now
Will be later to win
For the times they are a-changin'.

Come senators, congressmen
Please heed the call
Don't stand in the doorway
Don't block up the hall
For he that gets hurt
Will be he who has stalled
There's a battle outside
And it is ragin'.
It'll soon shake your windows
And rattle your walls
For the times they are a-changin'.

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don't criticize
What you can't understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is
Rapidly agin'.
Please get out of the new one
If you can't lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin'.

The line it is drawn
The curse it is cast
The slow one now
Will later be fast
As the present now
Will later be past
The order is
Rapidly fadin'.
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin'.

--Mr. Bob Dylan

05 October 2010

To cheer yourself up, cheer someone else up.

Tonight there was a reveal at the Women's Night Out--this was after an amazing day of pampering.  It was wonderful to have the team of sylists at The Hair Hut give me such attention. I could think of a million people that deserved this day much more than me, but I did very much appreciate every relaxing moment. I'd have to admit it was an odd feeling to really have nothing to do for a few hours but sit--I'm not used to that (like a lot of people I'm sure). Not only did I have a great day, but the evening started with a great meal followed by and even better motivational speaker, Gaye Hanson.  She had us laughing and crying and thinking...all the things she promised us.  Among all of her wonderful, heartfelt stories, she said something tonight that stuck out to me most, she said how lucky we are to live in this small community.  I couldn't agree more. We should never take for granted the relationships, the opportunities and the power we have as a small community.  Ms. Hanson made a very important point tonight when she talked about the choices we make and how our attitude directly affects our lives and others.  In this small city, our attitude can have a big impact on many things, from fellow community members to kids and more, we all play an important role.  Attitude is definately contagious, I just hope we are spreading a positive one.   

03 October 2010

not all who wander are lost.

Man, it seems like I was just here talking about the beauty of carefree Sunday afternoons and here I am, Sunday night, another week passed.  Does life go this fast for everyone?  It is a scary thought to really think about how fast time goes, all the more reason to live for the days as they come so quickly and go so quickly.  I have to admit things are real busy for not only me in my personal life, but for Finding Windom as well.  We have a lot of things we would like to accomplish (but you already knew that). I do wish we had a few more months of summer warmth, but we are starting to make a list of to-dos for our winter months, and this will keep us quite busy as well. I'll try not to use the word "winter" until it actually happens, so I hope I didn't offend anyone by mentioning the "w" word.

I'd have to say I've been noticing some great things happening around town, like the new Loopy's window and some residential areas looking better than the day before.  I hope others are noticing it as well and are able to see what a difference it makes in our community.  I love fall and there is no better time to wander than during this time while the trees are making beautiful pictures for us.  I could write a whole book on the beauty and warmth (despite the dropping temperatures) of a Southwest Minnesota autumn, so it is nice to see these nice things happening while I take a Sunday stroll or drive around town.

Merry leaves are falling...

02 October 2010

I can see clearly now.

We have all been waiting for this for some time now--waiting to once again see through a real window.  I'm so excited and glad to see Loopy's has replaced the unsightly plywood with such a lovely, lovely window! Thank you!  It's is wonderful to see these small things make such a big impact in our city.

Also a few shout outs: thanks to Dick's Welding for making a Finding Windom sign to be used at all Finding Windom events, thanks to Kathy Hiley for donating an awesome Cricut machine, and thanks to the Trotter family for donating flower pots, grapevine wreaths and baskets for the Finding Windom project.  All these things will be used to enhance and beautify our community.  Thank you for your donations and wonderful support!

29 September 2010

a girl has needs.

This past Saturday I took a little road trip.  I wasn't taking the usual road trip to Mankato or Sioux Falls, I was going to the small Sibley, Iowa.  I had heard there was a new coffeehouse and roastery that opened and I was curious.  I guess I'm a self proclaimed coffeehouse bum.  I could sit all day, everyday in a coffeehouse, maybe because I always somehow find inspiration at the bottom of a great cup of strong, black coffee and I think I'm drawn to the people who have enough courage to open one.  I had absolutely no idea what to expect from The Latern in Sibley, Iowa, but when I walked in the door, I was pleasantly surprised.  It was so warm and inviting and smelled like inspiration.  The high tin ceiling, full of character, held together the exposed interior brick walls, so imperfect it was perfect.  The original wood floor had once again been found and restored to its original beauty.  Not only was the atmosphere just what I had hoped for, but we were greeted by a friendly smile.  I was sold before I even had a cup of their very own house blend or tasted their delectable cakes.  Of course my husband thought I was crazy for falling in love so soon and so hard (but he shouldn't question it because the same thing happened when I met him) for "just a coffeeshop".  To me it is more than a coffeeshop--it felt like hope, it was a dream put to life.  Yeah, I am probably crazy for wanting to drive all the way to Sibley, Iowa (which is 45 miles from Windom and for big city folk that translates into about 45 minutes away from Windom) for a cup of fresh brewed black coffee, but on Saturdays, they have live music--a perfect combination for yours truly.  But it just goes to show, people are willing to find what they need even if the gas it takes to get there is more expensive than the product they are seeking.

28 September 2010

dear diary.

I just put Henrik to bed for the 207th time, something I will never take for granted despite it happening every single night.  Every night around the same time, after a hectic day provided by life, the lights in the house are turned off and we sit, Henrik in my arms and me in the rocking chair.  It really is my favorite time of the day, a chance to finally breath and think about how lucky I am to have these precious moments with my son.  I whisper in his almost 7 month old ears all the secrets I know about life, some I assure him we will someday learn together.  I sing to him sweet simple songs that I hope he will always remember and find comforting.  He snuggles tight into my arms, where he fits so perfectly, but everyday makes my arms stretch even more around him--a different kind of clock reminding me of how fast time goes.  But tonight he did something different than usual.  Tonight, when I laid him in his crib, just after I could feel his tiny body finally relax into a slumber while peacefully sucking away on his new pacifier, he turned away, his back to me, and snuggled into his own comfortable position.  A position I didn't provide for him this time--the 207th time.  It made me start to think he was starting to become less reliable on me--a scary thought for a parent, especially a new one.  It seems I have become so accustomed to taking care of this baby, providing him life's necessities of care and love, but tonight, he didn't need me to put him in a likable sleeping position, he did it all by himself.  Such a crazy feeling for a new mother and maybe I'm making a big deal out of such a small gesture, but it is a feeling of sadness because he is growing so quickly and soon will not need me for such simple tasks such as feeding him or rocking him to sleep. But it is also a feeling of excitement because this is what it is all about, watching this tiny thing we brought into this world become, well, something capable of hopes, dreams, passions and ambitions.  I know this is only a small step in the giant world of parenting, but this is what my life has been for the last 207 nights, which is still very new to me (and scary).  I suppose this has become more of a personal journal entry, but I must also say that for the last 68 nights I've been trying to take care of my community the best I know how, just like I do for Henrik. And I guess I have the same hopes for Windom.  I'm hoping someday it will become something full of not only hopes and dreams, but passions and ambitions. Just a small step in the giant world of possibilities in Windom.

Goodnight sweet Windom, goodnight.

26 September 2010

sunday's best.

The echoing church bells, crisp air and warm sun were my best friends today. The golden hues of fall were brillant with life as I roamed freely on a Sunday afternoon, which brings me to the reason I write tonight. I wish to point out the amount of pride I see not only on Sundays, but everyday and every season--it's the pride I see in our community's churches, and I can safely say this about every single church in our city.  The lawns are always perfectly manicured, the landscaping not overwhelming, but a perfect amount of love and attention, inviting benches and tasteful seasonal decor.  Our churches look inviting and cared for, but I suppose this is the way it should be given the purpose for its foundation.  I appreciate the care and love put into our local churches.  Thank you for being a beautiful part of our community.

23 September 2010


With the craziness of building awareness by meeting with several groups in the past few weeks, which has been keeping me very busy, and our Divide and Conquer: Square Edition, I think many are wondering what is next for Finding Windom.  There are a lot of things we are working on, overwhelming at times, but we are to a point were we need to take one thing at a time (a problem I'm constantly working on in my personal life as well).  During the next few weeks, we will be working with the Plum Creek Food Coop to enhance their business, so watch for a Plum Creek Food Coop Grand Reopening "Found by Finding Windom!" coming the beginning of November.  More details will be given in the near future--we are very excited for this opportunity!  Along with the Food Coop project, Finding Windom will be launching a support local campaign by challenging the residents of Windom to shop and support local, especially with the upcoming holiday season.  With all these things going on, I'm also still continuing to meet with various groups and organizations in order to build partnerships and awareness of Finding Windom's cause and always striving to keep the enthusiasm of Finding Windom alive. 

There are more exciting things happening right now as well for Finding Windom, but I hate to give it all away in one post...you'll just have to keep reading...

21 September 2010

everybody, somebody, anybody and nobody.

This is a little story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody.

There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.
Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.
Somebody got angry about that because it was Everybody's job.
Everybody thought that Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn't do it.
It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.

--Author unknown

20 September 2010

ode to elementary poetry.

W indy most days
 I mperfect lovliness
N ot your average
D es Moines River
O ddly square
M any interesting gems

19 September 2010

differently the same.

This past week I had the pleasure of speaking with two groups in order to build awareness and to find partners for Finding Windom and our cause.  On Monday night I was invited to speak at Circles of Support and on Thursday I was invited to speak at Kiwanis Club. I talked about the same things at both meetings: my purpose for starting the blog and organization, Finding Windom, the things we have done and the things we are going to do in the future.  I'm going to be honest, I could easily talk all day, maybe two, about Finding Windom and just Windom in general if I could find someone willing to listen for that great amount of time (okay, well, maybe my husband does on occasion, and I can't tell you how much I appreciate his ears, his nods, his ideas, his support and for just loving me for who I am--I can only imagine how exhausting I am to listen to sometimes). 

It was just yesterday that it dawned on me how the two groups I met with this past week couldn't be any more differently the same.  You are probably thinking "how can two things be 'differently the same'"?  Well, in this case, it is quite possible.  I'm not going to write about the differences between these two groups--there is no point to dwell on negatives-it doesn't accomplish anything.  But what is being accomplish on Mondays from 5-7pm and Thursdays from 12-1pm is the push for a better community and I felt it in the atmosphere of both meeting grounds.  It is amazing how many groups around our city have the same focus--our community.  We have Circles of Support, Kiwanis Club, the Chamber, the Conventions and Visitors Bureau, Church and Society boards, the City Council Board and Commissions, the Riverfest Committee, the Lions Club, the Masons, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts, Women of Today...are you overwhelmed yet?  I'm sure I forgot a bunch.  All of these groups are promoting help to better our community of Windom, they are all paralleling each other to one grand destination.  It finally dawned on me that maybe we should all consider crossing paths?  Is it okay to call it perpendicularing?

Thank you to Circles of Support and Kiwanis for listening to me! I enjoyed my time with you and  I look forward to working with you...

Finding Windom together,

17 September 2010

check it out!

Finding Windom is making its way across the country thanks to Aaron Horkey art fans!!!

Thanks guys!  Come back soon!

Check it out: http://insidetherockposterframe.blogspot.com/

Also check out: http://www.burlesquedesign.com

16 September 2010

calling all women.

check out lady's night on october 5th starting at 5pm at the windom community center. come enjoy a night out featuring speaker gayle hanson, a chicken breast dinner, wine coolers and set ups, various area vendors and the revealing of  3 "makeovers".  get your tickets for $25 at the windom chamber. 

sounds like a real treat.  i know i'll enjoy it...


From an interesting book titled "Who's your City?" by Richard Florida:

Without question, both of those decisions—the what [job] and the who [life partner]—mean a great deal to our lives. But there is another decision that has an equal, if not greater, effect on our economic future, happiness, and overall life outcome. The question of where.

Maybe this seems so obvious that people overlook it. Finding the right place is as important as—if not more important than— finding the right job or partner because it not only influences those choices but also determines how easy or hard it will be to correct mistakes made along the way. Still, few of us actually look at a place that way. Perhaps it’s because so few of us have the understanding or mental framework necessary to make informed choices about our location.

The place we choose to live affects every aspect of our being. It can determine the income we earn, the people we meet, the friends we make, the partners we choose, and the options available to our children and families. People are not equally happy everywhere, and some places do a better job of providing a high quality of life than others. Some places offer us more vibrant labor markets, better career prospects, higher real estate appreciation, and stronger investment and earnings opportunities. Some places offer more promising mating markets. Others are better environments for raising children.

Place also affects how happy we are in other, less palpable ways. It can be an island of stability in a sea of uncertainty and risk. Jobs end. Relationships break up. Choosing the right place can be a hedge against life’s downsides. I hate to dwell on the negative, but you need to think about this. It’s always terrible to lose a job, even worse to suffer a breakup with a significant other. As bad as those are, however, they are substantially worse if you also happen to live somewhere with few options in the job market or the mating market. It’s exponentially easier to get back on your feet when your location has a vibrant economy with lots of jobs to choose from, or a lot of eligible single people in your age range to date.

The point is, where we live is a central life factor that affects all the others—work, education, and love—follow. It can make or break existing work arrangements and personal relationships. It can open new doors. And regardless of what kind of life we envision for ourselves—whether we aspire to make millions, have a family, or live the way of a bachelor—choosing where to live is a decision we all must make at least once. A good number of us will make it multiple times. The average American moves once every seven years. More than 40 million people relocate each year; 15 million make significant moves of more than 50 or 100 miles.

The stakes are high, and yet, when faced with the decision of where to call home, most of us are not prepared to make the right choice. If you ask most people how they got to the place they live now, they’ll say they just ended up there. They stayed close to family or friends, they got a job there, or more commonly, they followed an old flame. Some don’t even see that there’s a choice to be made at all.

I want to read more...I'll keep you updated...

14 September 2010

september blessings.

I can hear the rhythm of the crickets
outside my open window
the window that cools the floor
the old hardwood beneath my feet
another rhythm
the still September evening
supplies a simple song
a blessing
like the warmth of a rural home
surrounded by guards of crickets

happy times.

12 September 2010

courtesy of finding windom.

As I got out of bed this morning, my muscles felt a little tight and the blister between my thumb and index finger had finally scabbed over.  A small price to pay for the job that had to be done yesterday.  I woke up on Saturday morning to the sun making its ascend and the subtle season changing colors of the southwest Minnesota morning.  The two combined are nearly impossible to describe with words.  In fact, these colors are so incredible I think Crayola could sell a box of crayons of all the vibrant yellows, oranges, greens and browns specifically found in a southwest Minnesota morning horizon. But then again, I don't think it could be duplicated in a wax stick.  It was a pleasure to see the sun yesterday after getting two full days of heavy rain the days before, which proved to be a God's send for pulling weeds that would have otherwise been difficult to pull out of dry dirt and sand. 

I was excited to see the Finding Windom team weren't the only hands to show up, so thank you to those willing to lend their helping hands--you were amazing. I would like to tip my hat to the Masons who took the initiative to clean and touch up their beautiful historic building.  They even continued the work today, and its looks great! It makes the Finding Windom workload that much lighter. 

I am hoping those willing to offer their opinions on Saturday of what should be done will someday put their opinions into action.  We could only do so much in one day for a short 3 hours and my body (along with the others helping) had been worked enough for the time being, but I'm proud of what we did accomplish and so thankful for the people helping to make our city beautiful.

Our big pile-it was all found around our Square.
I look forward to another day where we can all come together to take pride in our river city and another gorgeous southwest Minnesota morning.

10 September 2010

the sun will come out tomorrow.

See you all tomorrow, Saturday, September 11th, on the square for Finding Windom's first clean up day.  Meet by Larry Buhler at 9am with gloves for picking weeds and trash.  We will divide and conquer from there.  A big thanks to Runnings, Scwalbach's Ace Hardware and Women of Today for donating to Finding Windom and our cause for this event. 

And the sun will be there... 

09 September 2010


Finding Windom is proud to announce that we will be working with the Plum Creek Food Coop of Windom.  The Finding Windom team has been using our creative minds to build plans to enhance the business.  Tonight, we walked into a meeting of Food Coop board members with our outline, visuals and helping hands to offer our services, and they so graciously accepted our offers.  We are very excited to help the Plum Creek Food Coop, and we are excited they are allowing us this opportunity to show what we have to offer.  Get ready, Windom, the Plum Creek Food Coop is going to be FOUND by FINDING WINDOM!  Thank you, Food Coop, for taking the time to hear us out--we won't let you down or Windom.

08 September 2010

Welcome Horkey Art Fans!

This Sunday, September 12th, from 2-4pm, Windom native Aaron Horkey will be revealing his work at the Remick Gallery at the Cottonwood County Historical Society for a show to last until November.  I can hardly wait to see his work in person.  His art is respected by many artists and people around the world.  He has designed for various skateboard companies and alternative bands.  His work is intricate and flawless and nothing short of breathtaking. Not only are we blessed to call this amazing artist local and that he is willing to show his famous works in Windom, but we will be blessed by the coming of many Horkey fans. So get ready, Windom, let's share our own Midwestern Hearts with the world this Sunday by welcoming these guests with open arms.  Lets dust off the Windom welcome mat and make them want to come back and with their friends.

07 September 2010

just some business.

First and foremost, thank you for all your support, each and everyone...

Second, for those of you who have read or will read the Citizen (http://www.windomnews.com/) this week I would like to clarify that all "my" ideas and things "I" would like to see are not only my ideas, but the ideas of the Finding Windom cabinet and Finding Windom supporters.  A lot of the things mentioned in the paper were a collabortation of the Finding Windom team and not only my ideas.  I must give credit where credit is due.  From this day forward (and past posts as well) when I say or write "Finding Windom," I'm talking about a team and not just Mari Harries alone because this blog would have been dead and gone without such crucial support and passion from beyond my heart and soul. 

Third and definately not the least important, Divide and Conquer.  This Saturday, September 11th from 9am-12pm, Finding Windom will be hosting one of many community beatifying days.  We will be focusing on the perimeter of the Square, front and back, and some spots along the highway.  I'm looking forward to this day for the community to come together, to take pride in what we have, and for us to all Find Windom with our own hands and cooperation.  We will be pulling weeds and picking up trash.  We will be helping businesses with any small "to-dos" that have been on the list, we will be enjoying the beautiful weather Minnesota has to offer in September, and we will be working together--all the things that make us a great community to live in and raise our children in.  Bring work gloves, wear appropriate clothing for dirty work that makes our city shine, and any tools that may help with the job. 

We will also be taking donations at this time to continue our mission of beautifying the city and finding its potential.  We will take work gloves, glass cleaner, brooms, trash bags, rakes, trimmers, hedge clippers, paper towels or reusable rags, old and/or new paint for signs and touchups (both interior and exterior), usable scrap wood for signs, flowerboxes, benches, etc, and flower pots of all sizes.  Anything  you can think of that could be repurposed somehow and be used to beautify the city.  Finding Windom loves to reduce, reuse, recycle and repurpose with a little TLC.  None of these things have to be "new," so check your garages, sheds and basements.

See you Saturday by Larry Buhler--let's give him something to really smile about!

06 September 2010

we must learn from the wise.

"As a boy the early pioneer scenes connected with the development of our community made an impression on my young mind.  As I grew older, my mind seemed to dwell upon these things more and more.  When I think of those early pioneers who went through these many hardships, how they sowed the seed that has grown to what we enjoy today, I ask: 'Should we not be thankful for their work and perseverance?' So let us stop a moment and think of these things.  Those days to me are almost sacred.  I know whereof I speak...I often think of the pleasant association I have had with all of these men and women of our church and community, from the time I was a small boy to the present.  And I think of how they tried, by their work and influence, to give us a clean community in which to rear their children, and their children's children.  In these later years I have wondered, sometimes, if we who have carried on this work have done it as we should, the work which they started and expected up to carry on?  In many ways I am afraid sometimes we have not measured up. We are passing through some very trying experiences, days when men and women are being tried.  We must all stand for those things that are just and right..."

Edward Ellsworth Gillam
The First Methodist Church of Windom, MN
Published in 1949

04 September 2010

a foot in the door to autumn.

The 52 degree crisp night air coming through my dining room window on an early September night makes these words I'm about to share even more beautiful.  I found this book called This Way of Life at an antique store.  The calm red cover with a picture of old barns and a silo that looks as though it was taken just a few miles out of Windom city limits caught my eye.  I immediately picked up the book and turned to a random page to start reading.  There was a humble, genuine truth in the short paragraph I quickly picked to read.  A must have after reading these words and $7 later, the book now sits next to me and my laptop on my dining room table.  The book is a compilation of thoughts of rural women, and I want to share the very first page, especially as we are starting to enter one of the most beautiful times of the year here in Southwestern Minnesota--autumn.  While reading these lines, Windom and its peaceful surroundings is all I can picture in my mind.

"Being an early riser, I often go at dawn to our front door and look out across the spread of fields.  The land lies table level as far as eye can see, stretching its flatness to reach a blue down-curve of sky.
At times the field before me suggests a proud piece of fabric cut to the pattern of a particular season.  The serenity remains constant, yet the field itself is forever changing.  During winter its dull brownness may lie under snow, with nothing more than an occasional jackrabbit train adorning that white blanket.  The sun lifts itself to cast a dazzling illumination over this expanse of emptiness. 
The snow melts, and after that tractors wend up and down pulling plows that stir the soil to a rich new browness.  The smell of moist earth drifts across the road...
The men plow, the spring rain falls on each straight-as-an-arrow row.  The men plant, and in a little while green shoots begin to peek through the earth.  They grow without a sound.
Spring green becomes the deeper green of summer as the stalk reach skyward.  Workers still come occasionally, to set the aluminum tubes through which pours all essential water for irrigation.  The sun, with sultry authority, commands the stalk to stretch high. 
The season progresses.  the sky's indigo blue changes to hazy gray.  My field's green begins to turn yellow-brown, and on the tops of the straight stalks sit proud heads of grain.  The ripen, pledging a rich harvest of grain sorghum.  The men come again, with more machines; the brown and red-gold field gives up its wealth and becomes an expanse of stubble.
All this I can see through the year, contemplating the seasons from our front door.  The tranquility and serenity of nothingness...then the birth of new life, the growth, the harvest...and again the waiting quietness."

02 September 2010

wish list.

Finding Windom is starting to find jobs, lots of jobs, and we need your help.  With all of these things on our to-do list, we are discovering there are many small things that would make our job so much easier and allow all kinds of people to be involved.  I have also had some requests to provide a wish list for people who want to help, but can't physically be here to do it, so here it is--Finding Windom's Wish List.  I realize some of these things are pretty big things, but everyone needs goals and I'm not afraid to go for it for the sake of finding Windom's potential and beauty.  All of these things would make our job of reviving our city that much easier:

Things to make the city shine: trash bags, brooms, rakes, window cleaner, paper towels, Round Up, working gloves and more helping hands to put in the gloves, lawnmower, trimmer, and any yard-working tools.

Things we can repurpose and need in order to repurpose/reuse things: flower pots of all sizes, scrap wood (big enough pieces to work with for signs, flowerboxes, benches, etc), hammers, screwdrivers, drills, nails, screws, new or leftover paint for signs or touchups, any leftovers you have from a project that could be used somehow, anything that may need some sprucing up and could be creatively used to add a unique touch to the city (I love fixing things up, repurposing and reusing things!).

Finding Windom could also use: a place to put all this stuff, a van to transport these items to a jobsite, ladders, paper to promote ourselves and our "community activities" and give Windom a good 'ol pep talk every once in awhile, willing business owners to work with (we want to help you and your business in numerous ways).  Hey, we could even use the expertise of a lawyer and/or tax dude to find out how to become a non-profit organization. 

Finding Windom is all about reducing, reusing, recycling, repairing, and repurposing in order to revive our city.  We are trying to think outside the box and we are willing to put a little elbow grease into things that will beautify and make our city welcoming and unique.  We encourage you to think outside the box as well.

If you would like to make any offerings or donations, send it to Finding Windom, PO Box 76, Windom, MN 56101.  We will also be taking any generous offerings on Saturday, September 11th from 9am-12pm at our "Divide and Conquer: The Square Edition."  There are so many things we would like to accomplish for the sake of saving Windom and thanks to all those people who have so willingly offered their help.  We appreciate your support beyond measure!

30 August 2010

our parks can beat up your parks.

Okay, our parks may not be able to beat yours up, but we sure as heck may have yours out numbered.  Quick Windom fact: Windom is home to nearly 14 so-called parks.  14!  We have Tegels Park on Cottonwood Lake, Mayflower Park (one of my favorites), Island Park, Abby Park, Kastle Kingdom, Legion Park, a freakin' Skate Park funded by the Tony Hawk Foundation and numerous other generous donors, Jen's Park, two school owned parks, Dynamite Park (a county park in town), Ken Witt Park, Obie Knutson Park located on Fish Lake and nothing says Minnesota like hanging out next to a lake on a hot summer day and we have lots of those too--lakes and hot days.  I know I'm missing a few too.  Each park features its own personality and offers lots of opportunity for playing hard. 

On Sunday I tried to hit up each park and get a feel for all the great splendors they offered.  Tegels Park on Cottonwood Lake was my first stop and it was beautiful.  The hot sun and prairie wind made for a heavenly combination.  The one thing I would like to do for this park: add more garbage cans.  Unfortunately while I was there I spent most of my time picking up trash near the banks of the lake's waves.  I only found a few garbage cans (all in the same place near the shelter) in the whole park.  The south side of the park, where I picked up the trash, had not one in sight.  Unfortuneately, no one was ambitious enough to walk across the park to throw away their trash, which I don't think is unusual these days.  All in all, Tegels Park was perfect.  I'd be happy to waste a day there any day (weather permiting). 

Mayflower Park is one of my favorites.  It is set back from the main streets of Windom with a perfect location just along the Des Moines River, and it is home to a great frisbee golf course.  It's quiet, cozy and inviting.  Just across the river you are pleasantly surprised by a big corn field swaying in the wind so proudly under the smiling blue sky. 

Numerous parks offer great equipment for children--a haven of jungle gyms, swings and monkey bars to keep the kiddos entertained the good 'ol fashioned way.  You don't need to look far to find these kinds of parks in town. It was good to see people out using them on such a beautiful Sunday afternoon.

Frisbee Golf at Mayflower Park
Not only are there parks in town, but Windom is surrounded by parks as well.  Forgive me if I've missed one, but there is Pat's Grove, Red Rock Ridge, and the resevoir (I can't think of the official name of this park, but it is near Red Rock Ridge), and the Jeffer's Petroglyphs are close too. There are great places to camp like Talcot Lake, Graham Lake and Mukaweegee.  Now I'm getting farther out, but still rather close to this great town.

I could go on and on about how wonderful our parks are in town and the great parks close to our town, but I think you get the point.  Just another reason Windom could be a rural hotspot and tourist   destination. You should check them all out sometime!

29 August 2010

Larry finally plays for a Minnesota team!

Good news, our man Larry Buhler has found a new, and local, team to play for and he is sporting his new jersey!  If it's good enough for Larry, it should be good enough for you, so play on Larry's team.   All you have to do is buy your very own new, clean white tee bearing your favorite hometown team, Finding Windom.  For only 12 George Washington's ($12), you will not only be supporting your community and your favorite rural city in southwestern Minnesota, but you'll look good doing it.  You can find them at Frank's Shoe Repair or the Windom Chamber of Commerce (after Monday).  You can also get them through any Finding Windom cabinet member--just ask. 

All proceeds will go directly into beautifying our lovely city.  We appreciate your support and keep reading to find out more ways that you can contribute your hands, minds and talents to Finding Windom's passionate cause.  Thanks for your wonderful support, it is appreciated beyond measure!

26 August 2010

convincing the impossible.

A short 3 years ago in a small town called Mountain Lake, I met my husband.  Yes, you are reading this right, this Windom girl married a Mountain Lake boy.  I'm still wondering how this happened myself.  Although we met in Mountain Lake during the craziness of Mountain Lake's Pow Wow celebration, we both lived in Windom at the time and ultimately decided to stay as well (this is where he worked and still works).  So we are now both working our 9-5s, we will be paying for our old house for the next 30 years, and we are raising our son all in this lovely town along the river.

So it is here that this story really starts, for the last 3 years I've been competing with that small town a close 10 miles away.  If you know a Mountain Laker, you know his undying passion for nothing else but Mountain Lake.  I'm not saying there is anything wrong with it, in fact I think it is great. But for this Windom girl, it has been hard to convince a Mountain Laker that Windom is even compariable to his former home--home of the almighty Pow Wow.  You can only imagine the look I got when I told him I started this blog.  Of course he was supportive like any wonderful husband would be, but it was pretty hard for him to see the visions I have for this town. 

A few posts ago (post titled "say cheese") I posted some pictures that my husband and I took on our somewhat daily walk.  We started talking more about Windom and its potential. Up until this point, this very moment of capturing some of Windom's points of interest, we had never actually had a good conversation about the subject.  You can imagine the one ended conversations I had been having with him, a Mountain Lake man by heart, regarding Finding Windom.  I think it was more like me talking to myself with an occasional nod and supportive "yeah" from the quiet person across from me who was patiently listening and watching t.v. at the same time.   I asked him if he knew about all the parks in town like Mayflower or the trails by Wolf Lake.  He didn't, so I took him to these two places--we only had daylight left for a couple, which he was probably delighted by knowing he wouldn't get a whole day's worth tour.  He was amazed that such neat things existed in Windom of all places.  I think I may have done the impossible, folks, I may have made a believer out of a Mountain Laker. To tell you the truth, at first I was kind of disappointed he had no idea about Windom's small splendors despite he has been living here for almost 5 years, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized it wasn't his undeniable passion for the next town over that kept him from truly knowing Windom.  All this time I thought it was Mountain Lake that I was up against when in turn it was Windom itself.

It was pointed out to me not too long ago that our highway, which blesses us with thousands of travelers in a week, has no signs to point our guests to these points of interest.  A person can drive right through and not even know Cottonwood Lake is a mere 2 blocks to the east or that we have numerous parks for a family to stop and stretch. Where can a person go to know all these great things exist in Windom?  We don't even have a sign to guide travelers to information at our Chamber and Visitor's Bureau. 

So the moral of the story is: Something as easy as a simple sign would make it a lot easier for a Mountain Laker, our guests and travelers to find Windom.