Ruby Shoes

Adventure is good, home is best

About Anne

Writer, photographer, giant slider

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.

A Raptor Tale

Mr. Red Tail Hawk October 13 2013-01 (2)-2

Early last Sunday, on our first walk of the day, Scout sniffed out a hawk that was hiding on the ground in the sumac, not able to fly. It kept opening its beak to call out but no sound came out. I thought it was paralyzed with a broken spine or maybe sick from eating something poisonous. We headed back home to call the Raptor Center and get a photographer (aka husband, still sleeping.) We have coyotes in our woods so I thought we’d better act fast or the hawk would become coyote Sunday brunch.

Mr. Red Tail Hawk October 13 2013-01 (2)

Photo by Lit Field

The guy at the Raptor Center said to try to cover the hawk with a blanket or towel, folding the wings against the body of the bird, and place it in a box or small carry kennel and bring it over. I rousted the husband out of bed, urgently explaining that we had a critter emergency, and we went back to the woods with a beach towel and a LaBatt’s beer box. After a short search we found the hawk about 10 yards away from his original hiding place and I was able to wrap him in the towel and put him in the box. I was sure I had not folded his wings in correctly and that I was suffocating him and that for sure he didn’t like the smell of stale beer, because who does? He made eye contact with me the whole time I was trying to get the towel around him, swiveling his head to follow me. He opened his beak several times to call out. I got a good look into his mouth which was cool but I was very panicky about him not being able to make any noise. We drove him right over to the Raptor Center and left wondering what would happen next. It’s not like he’s our pet. He’s a wild animal. We put our names on the Patient Outcome list and finally on Tuesday morning they called us with an update. Our hawk is a red tail hawk with a fractured shoulder. He is receiving supportive care. His chances of survival are less than 50%. They see a high volume of rescues this time of year because of migration and they’re very busy with injured birds. We can call back next week to check on him.

Mr. Red Tail Hawk October 13 2013-01 (2)-2

Photo by Lit Field

It’s Not Over ’til The Peaches Are Gone


Even though the past week has been blissfully sunny and warm I know summer is over. The trees are beginning their golden turn and the wind has the energy of a colder season but…but…summer can’t be over yet!

I was going to a dinner party last week and I needed a hostess gift. I didn’t want to shop for a hostess gift. That’s boring. My friend Laura suggested I bring a bottle of wine like everyone else. Also boring. Besides, I know nothing about wine. Red or white? Yes, please. Instead I made Amy Thielen’s Roasted Peach and Honey Jam which transformed some raggedy end-of-season peaches into a heavenly peachy compote. Just like that, I had a hostess gift and I still have summer because if I still have peaches, summer is not over.


Sweet Honey in the Brine


This is three pounds of cucumbers, crisping up in an ice bath and ready to be transformed into refrigerator pickles by a honey brine. Jill at Garlic Pig is the source of this wonderfulness. She’s a beekeeper, a honey-lover and she had a grandpa named Orville who grew cucumbers for Gedney. I trust her pickle recipe.


In Jill’s recipe cucumbers meet onions and get packed into jars and covered with a sweet tangy brine of honey, vinegar and spices. I veered slightly off-track and put thinly sliced garlic into two of the jars.


I’m going to use up this whole jar of honey in September and this pickle recipe was the first of a stack of recipes I’ve pulled together. I’m not alone in my addiction. I have found enablers.


And here they are, all brined up with no where to go. The pickles must sit in the fridge for a couple days and I must wait. Patience is required for the magic to happen. So I’m waaaaaaiting…



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