Archive for the ‘Doors’ Category

Behind the Gateway Lodge in Land ‘O Lakes, Wisconsin.


The Gateway was quite the swanky place back when it was built in the 1930’s. Heavy timbers, a massive fireplace in the main lobby, trophy heads all over the walls–the quintessential hunting lodge in Wisconsin’s north woods. The dining room was huge, with high timbered ceilings and room for a band at one end, the bar dark with leather-upholstered booths.  A long list of B-level celebrities stayed there over the years and their autographed black and white photos line the walls. (Trophy heads of a different sort, I think.)

I worked here as a waitress, summers and holidays, from the time I was 16 until I was 21. The Gateway was already in steep decline from its glory days but it was still an adventure and an education for me.

Like Kellerman’s from Dirty Dancing, there was an alternate universe at the resort where the help existed, especially the summer help.

In the kitchen, wait staff quickly learned to fear the chef–a cruel and moody ass. His assistant had a serious speech impediment, so often you could only smile and nod and hope that you had somehow not agreed to bear his love child. Do not piss off Sylvia, the salad dominatrix, or your life could be a living hell.

 I will spare you the rest of the stories: how to stack a tray and carry it above your shoulder on one hand, how to smile at rude and boozy patrons, fold napkins into boats and chip candle wax out of the table lights. It was both an adventure and an education.

*** *** ***

Taking a week or so off for adventures of other sorts: a houseboat trip on the Mississippi is next on the Wabi Sabi agenda. Packing all my camera gear for this one.

And meclizine. Lots of meclizine. It is only just now occurring to me that I am not a big on-the-water kind of gal.



Six images. No idea why WordPress is featuring the You Tube embed from the end of the post.

Life at the Abandoned Sawmill was fraught with danger.








Seven images from last fall’s sawmill adventure in northern Wisconsin. This fellow was tucked around behind a garage and it was the logo on his door that first captured my attention.



I am just going to say that I am the least gear-headed individual you will ever meet and could not recognize a 6-cylinder winkle-loaded frammis with dual rotator cuff exhaust pipes if it was perched on my shoulder and humming in my ear.  However, that personal handicap does not prevent me from looking at old engines as works of art.



20141001_4166              20141001_4171

I’m going to whisper here because I don’t want my Toyota to hear me, but I’ve looked at its engine and was not all that impressed. All business in there. Zero use of color.  What would be so bad about adding  a little yellow or dusty rose just to make the whole thing pop?

What? Are you going to tell me that turquoise is not a fuel-efficient color?


For more of the Abandoned Sawmill, see “Holy Mother of Pearl” and several other posts tagged “Abandoned Sawmill.”

One photographer whose work I really enjoy is Jane Lurie. She recently posted a “Red and Green” collection ( ) that includes the interior of an old Ford. I couldn’t help but think of it as I was prepping these shots today.

Five images

Okay. Start humming  “Thus Spake Zarathustra,” then check out this first shot:


Majestic or what?

The rest of today’s offerings are much calmer.




I was–and am, I confess–pretty enamored of this last shot. I entered it in a juried competition but it didn’t make the cut. However, I am happy to report that a non-barn picture was selected for that show which opens in January. (Insert emoticon of Wabi Sabi doing cartwheels across the page.)



Wow. There is sooooo much going on here. Image #4 from the last post is part of today’s larger “broad side of a barn” picture. I thought you would enjoy seeing the window in context.

I am trying hard to present these shots in a logical progression, but sometimes I just want to Skype every last one of you (group call!) and say “Look! Look! Is this not amazing?”

Maybe we could call this image a tease for the upcoming “Doors” series.


Assuming that my passport and papers are in good order, I will be back from visiting my Minnesota family in a few days. Happy Thanksgiving!


Your friend, Wabi Sabi, is a serial monogamist, falling in love with this bridge, that sawmill and the other deserted barn. But always just one pretty face at a time. Seventeenth-century poet Sir John Suckling wasn’t exactly talking about me…but darned close.


Out upon it, I have lov’d
Three whole days together;
And am like to love three more,
If it prove fair weather.


Time shall molt away his wings
Ere he shall discover
In such whole wide world again
Such a constant lover.


But the spite on’t is, no praise
Is due at all to me:
Love with me had made no stays
Had it any been but she.


Had it any been but she
And that very face,
There had been at least ere this
A dozen dozen in her place.      


One last visit to the Barn ‘O Wonderful this morning.

My good friend, Karen, tossed the first stanza of “Constant Lover” at me the last time I was hyperventilating over a site–the Abandoned Sawmill, I think. Long, long ago, we were most fortunate to have an extraordinary woman for our high school English teacher.  Mrs. Kelly insisted that her students memorize poetry…lots of it. You had to make an appointment with her and then recite your lines one on one. She would let us sing our poems if we wished and this is how I know that Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” can be sung to the melody of “Hernanado’s Hideaway” and ANYTHING by Emily Dickinson works nicely with the melody from “The Yellow Rose of Texas.”



Five images

I have had some serious photo-lust going over this farm site for at least three years.  When I go walking, I park my car maybe 10 yards from the property, sigh mightily and promise myself that I will beg the owners for permission to shoot the many buildings there.


But it’s not easy to walk up to a stranger’s door, introduce yourself and ask permission to roam around their yard with a camera.


Last night when I parked in my usual spot, there were actually folks out front and buoyed by…I don’t know…having had a really good day, I made myself do it.

I won’t kid you: I choked, babbled and blushed like a nervous suitor. In fact, I was so nervous that I (I cannot believe this) neglected to ask anyone’s name. Seriously. As a result, I cannot call ahead to say I’m coming. I don’t even have an address—I just know how to get there. HOWEVER…I have permission to photograph the site. (YES!)


So, this is what I can tell you:  the barns and sheds are over one hundred years old, they are falling down and things are falling down inside them as well. I swore to stay outside of all structures, which is apparently a great idea since families of woodchucks and raccoons have taken over the space. Spiders, too, I’ll bet.

And they are astoundingly beautiful.

The buildings. Not the spiders.

Now, I HAVE always felt that woodchucks are truly handsome creatures, but perhaps I am straying…


When I started to process this bunch, I made myself a promise: no fussing with the colors. The reds are not pumped up, but truly pop this way on the weathered gray boards.




I will pack smelling salts in my camera bag when I go back, because I am going to be doing some serious swooning.