Ruby Shoes

Adventure is good, home is best

The Ford Plant


Demolition of the old Ford plant in St. Paul is nearly done, nearly down to the bare earth. The tear-down was a loud slow dance of heavy machines bending, snapping and crushing a structure I imagined would stand another 80 years.


October 2013


October 2013


October 2013


October 2013


October 2013


October 2013


October 2013

Lots of people worked at the plant. They made useful things. It meant something. One guy and his buddy were trying to save the old administration building, the Northwest Corner. He got choked up talking about it. They did not succeed.


April 2014



Spring Falls


A month ago I posted this photo of Minnehaha Falls. It was still frozen solid.


Yesterday, it looked like this.


I thank the Minneapolis Department of Parks and Recreation for trying to protect me from myself, but the ice was melted off the stairs on the north side of the falls so…you know…I had to go down the stairs. “If ice is gone, ignore large orange sign, locks and chains.” That’s what the sign really says.


The reward of going down the forbidden steps is this view below the falls. The penalty is the long climb back up.

DSC_0399Do you see those openings in the ice behind the falls? People hike back in there. They go behind the falls. I only go down closed stairs. I do not go behind the falls. There are limits to my lawlessness.

Not Quite


We had a 54-degree day yesterday. Lots of snow and ice melted, dripped, dropped, pooled and puddled in lots of inconvenient places. I know this because my feet were cold and wet. Because I was not wearing boots! The sun made me delirious. It felt so warm I wore sneakers and ditched my winter jacket. Others did the same, except those with responsible parents.


We were all trying to get closer to Minnehaha Falls — walkers, runners, parents and grandparents with young kids, photographers, the occasional creepster that hangs out in public parks — crowding around the stone fences at the top of the falls. The stairs down to the lower creek were closed, which usually doesn’t stop anyone, but this year I obeyed the sign. It was like a luge run to the bottom. I sloshed and slid around at the top with the rest of the folks who came hoping to watch a thundering gusher of spring melt come barreling over the falls.


But…we’re not quite there yet.


Range Light


No one mines phosphate from the Peace River any more and ships it out through Port Boca Grande. The mining companies and the big ships are gone. The railroad is a bike path. There are no oil holding tanks on the southernmost shore, only condos, and no fishermen dry their huge nets in the sun. Boca Grande is a vacation and retirement playland now. Few monuments from the old days have survived the fierce hurricanes and fickle economy, but the Coast Guard Range Light still stands.


It’s a tall metal tube, riveted and rusty, propped up by a geometry of white-washed iron beams and rods. It has very little of the romance of a stone or brick lighthouse, one with a great big witch’s hat roof and ornately spiraling ironwork stairs. Instead, the range light looks like a time machine space rocket that went off course 100 years ago and landed nose down in the barrier islands of southwest Florida. But it’s got a certain charm all it’s own and has been saved from the wrecking ball more than once.


I was picking up some essentials at the donut shop in town and struck up a conversation with one of the locals. When I told my new friend I was obsessed with photographing the range light, he told me the Coast Guard was handing it over to a private group on the island and renovation was planned. The group has $1 million and probably needs $1 million more to fix it up.


The light at the top still flicks on and off all night long but it’s been many years since anyone could climb to the top. My friend said that will change once it’s all spiffed up. I’ll definitely climb up to the little deck if it opens to visitors. The island is long and narrow so the views will be lovely — and vertigo-inducing, no doubt. I can’t wait.


Faces and Places 2013


This is what happens on polar vortex days when I have time to organize my photo library. You can go now, January. I’m done cleaning and organizing.

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Pardon the Dust


Pardon the dust. Ruby Shoes is open but undergoing a little blog renovation. I haven’t got it all customized yet but so far I love the lighter color palette and the big fat font size! I can’t read small type any more. My mother used to say that large type was for the “hard of hearing”, a malapropism that always cracked me up so I’ve adopted it. I saw a cartoon the other day that said, “Sometimes I open my mouth and my mother comes out.” True. Plus, I guess I’m hard of hearing.

Waking Up


I started blogging back in 2008 so I could share my travels with my parents. I liked blogging for them and they liked reading my blog. I had an audience and a purpose. That other people liked the blog was a bonus. Then my parents died. First my dad left us in 2009, then two years later my mom joined him. When they passed, my love for blogging kinda slumped over and grew sleepy and disinterested, like an overweight Golden Retriever, and then in October it drifted into a long nap.

It feels like it’s time to wake up. It’s January in Minnesota, not exactly the time to resurrect yourself, or maybe it’s the best time of all. I’ve read a few articles recently that the blog, in general, is dead. If you can’t express yourself fully in 140 characters or less — or a 7-second video, or a jerky little GIF — you don’t belong on the internet. At first I took these proclamations to heart but then my 20-something niece started a fresh and funny blog (you can read it here), and if a 20-something is blogging, the blog can’t be dead.

Before I fully caffeinate My Ruby Shoes, and face 2014 head on, I have one loose end from 2013 I’d like to tie up: the red-tail hawk lived. He was successfully doctored at the University of Minnesota Raptor Center and released near our home in late November. We think we’ve seen him flying again in our woods.


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