To understand Minnesota you must visit in the summer and partake in lake activities at one of the 10,000 lakes.
To understand Minnesota you must visit in the summer and partake in lake activities at one of the 10,000 lakes.
Did you know lilac history is rooted in Greek Mythology?
For the ancient Greeks, lilacs were an integral part of the story of Pan, the god of forests and fields. It was said that Pan was in love with a nymph named Syringa. As he was chasing her through the forest one day, she turned herself into a lilac shrub to disguise herself because she was afraid of him. Pan found the shrub and used part of it to create the first panpipe. Syringa’s name comes from the Greek word for pipe, “syrinks”—and that’s where the lilac’s scientific name, Syringa, came from.https://www.bhg.com/gardening/flowers/lilac-facts/
For more information on lilacs worldwide- check out the International Lilac Society.
Art in Bloom is in full swing at the Minneapolis Institute of Art. It was a busy place today. Cars lined the south Minneapolis roads in the largely residential neighborhood of vine covered brick apartments.
When you think about a game (basketball, tennis, boules), how much of the game is about the rules and how much is about social entanglements? The idea is to play to win based on a set of predetermined rules. But in the process of doing so can there be interruptions? Who settles disputes? Is the audience able to comment and come to a player’s aide? Is there handicapping based on size or age of the players?
So, what say you? 90-75-50 percent of the process is the game, and the rest is social?
It has been a particularly cold winter in Minnesota this year. Which has one’s mind wandering to sunny shores and warm sandy beaches.
THERE is a flower that bees prefer, And butterflies desire; To gain the purple democrat The humming-birds aspire. And whatsoever insect pass, A honey bears away Proportioned to his several dearth And her capacity. Her face is rounder than the moon, And ruddier than the gown Of orchis in the pasture, Or rhododendron worn. She doth not wait for June; Before the world is green Her sturdy little countenance Against the wind is seen, Contending with the grass, Near kinsman to herself, For privilege of sod and sun, Sweet litigants for life. And when the hills are full, And newer fashions blow, Doth not retract a single spice For pang of jealousy. Her public is the noon, Her providence the sun, Her progress by the bee proclaimed In sovereign, swerveless tune. The bravest of the host, Surrendering the last, Nor even of defeat aware When cancelled by the frost.
Get outside and enjoy winter.
Nature entertains you with shadow play, to encourage you to walk every day.
The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree
Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.
As morning breaks over the Bitterroot Mountains in western Montana, the outlines of the craggy ridges materialize against the lightening sky. Big Sky. It’s the state’s motto. The blue atmosphere embraces you from all sides like a hug from a friend who will not leave you.
Montana is still remote enough to attract super stars who know the locals won’t be impressed by their presence. No autographs or selfies required. There are still craft fairs where the fine art is in the both besides Brenda selling her fleece lined choppers, made with used sweaters bought at thrift stores. She turned 83 today and we all sang Happy Birthday after the announcement came over the PA. She told me she didn’t have time to sit around. Idleness is not an option.
It’s hunting season and the locals are passionate about their public lands. Miles of it are open to hunters. They are out looking for moose, elk, prong horns if you are ambitious. Low lying clouds roll over the peaks. You can’t miss the beauty of the place. It’s all around you.
Can you place this valley?
I love this old photo of my great great grandfather Anfinson at a political rally. He’s the one holding the flag. What a motley crew of citizens out and about supporting their favorite politicians. And lest you think there are no women involved in the political process, take a closer gander behind the mule to the left. A covey of proper women folk are gathered.
If they can handle the maintenance and advancement of American democracy, then I’m sure we can too.
From my cousin: It’s definitely Cambridge, where he lived:
This pic is Main Street in Cambridge Iowa. The buildings match up.
I think they’re either campaigning for, or celebrating the victory of
Frank Jackson, Governor of Iowa 1893
This would make Anfin about 55 y.o.
Connectivity notes: The upshot of the phone upgrade to an iPhone 13 Pro is that it appears to have been completely worth while. In past years I have had limited connectivity in the Calgary, Alberta area (through Sprint). This trip I had a signal virtually all the time- when we went for a horseback ride in Sheep River Provincial Park the data didn’t load until we hit some peaks. Now whether the improved connectivity was due to my conversion to the T-Mobile 5G network or simply due to a superior antenna in the iPhone 13 Pro, I will never know. No matter- the result is that I had far better service.
Photos notes: The photos captured my new phone are fabulous. It picks up the light, focuses properly and has an ease of use that allows my subjects to be captured in the moment. I am sure I will produce more fun stuff as I get to know the phone’s features better. And it sure beats carrying around a bulky DSLR camera, especially in the great outdoors.
One way to show the level of depth in every picture is to enlarge it several times and see how grainy the image becomes. You can see the shot at the lower right is still nice and crisp.
I’m excited to keep playing with my new phone toy to see what other party tricks are encased in its new blue finish.
Transit notes: Calgary transit system is quite good. The bargain price is $3.5CAD ($2.8US). Google maps provides estimate timing for bus and light rail arrivals which are remarkably accurate. This helps to reduce idle time in the use of mass transit which in turn lines it up more favorably against a car. I even looked up directions (Google Maps) by transit from the airport. The duration of the trip increased considerably– by forty minutes.
My first inclination was to eliminate the option. But then I started to consider how long it takes to rent a car. You have to get from the air terminal to the rental agency. Then you usually stand in line as other passengers are doing the same thing. All in all, renting a car often burns the same 45 minutes. I’ll revisit the option down the road.
Covid notes: Canada is still under a lot of Covid stress. You need to be vaccinated and show proof of a less-than-72-hour-old-negative-test result to enter the country. You need to create an ArriveCan account. You will be asked to show your vaccine card at restaurants. But it was the random testing at the airport, after arrival, that I thought was completely over the top. Oh well– they let me in and it was sure nice to be back in Alberta.
Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;
Lengthen night and shorten day;
Every leaf speaks bliss to me
Fluttering from the autumn tree.
I shall smile when wreaths of snow
Blossom where the rose should grow;
I shall sing when night’s decay
Ushers in a drearier day.
The Battle of Largs (2 October 1263) was a decisive, albeit small, battle between the kingdoms of Norway and Scotland, on the Firth of Clyde near Largs, Scotland. Through which Scotland achieved the end of 500 years of Norse Viking depredations and invasions despite being tremendously outnumbered, without a one-sided military victory in the ensuing battle. That said, the victory caused the complete retreat of Norwegian forces from western Scotland and the realm entered a period of prosperity for almost 40 years.Wikipedia
The battle for ownership of land and all things seems to be part of the human condition.
Dream VariationsLangston Hughes – 1902-1967
“I am working with the enthusiasm of a man from Marseilles eating bouillabaisse, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to you because I am busy painting huge sunflowers.”
I finally was able to talk my husband into watching a classic film with me, and it was a success. Hitchcock’s unparalleled skill at maintaining suspense throughout the two hour tale proved to my spouse that old can be good, very good indeed.
You do have to overlook (or maybe find endearing) the painted scene backgrounds and the dubbed in film running in the windows of a taxi in motion. The music however is delightful and enhances the mysterious mood. But the caliber of photographic images captured by the camera lens throughout the movie are exemplar.
Cary Grant is of course a dream. Eve Marie Saint treads along that fine line of goddess-like blond and the self-sufficient female. It’s not surprising she won best supporting actress for the role. It was also delightful that she was not the solo female amongst a bevy of strapping men. The mother of Grant’s character is quite a character herself, and there is grumpy German housekeeper to boot.
I loved all the iconic 50’s (the film was produced in 1959) architecture. There are plenty of floor to ceiling windows, wood beaming and stone facades. The UN building’s oblique skyscape is instantly recognizable. But the barebone gravel road infrastructure in rural Indiana was a good reminder of how much has been built in the last half a century.
Hitchcock the master story teller outdid himself. The film is a work of art.
The Glasgow people do take pride
In their river both deep and wide,
In early times the youth and maid
Did o’er its shallow waters wade.
But city money did not grudge,
And dug it deep with the steam dredge,
And now proudly on its bosom floats
The mighty ships and great steamboats.
No wonder citizens take pride
For they themselves have made the Clyde,
Great and navigable river,
Where huge fleets will float forever.
Dunbarton’s lofty castle rock
Which oft’ has stood the battle’s shock,
The river it doth boldly guard,
So industry may reap reward.
But more protection still they deem
Is yet required so down the stream
Strong batteries are erected,
So commerce may be safe protected.
Old ocean now he doth take pride
To see upon his bosom ride
The commerce of his youngest bride,
The fair and lovely charming Clyde.
The soft golden color of late-in-the-day sun is nature’s best stage lighting.
I started posting my photos to google maps about four years ago, undoubtedly because some AI trick prompted a friendly message onto my screen encouraging me to do so. As I became more familiar with maps, and the cooperative efforts of people around the world to share what they were seeing on the ground, I began to value the service. Which led to more postings.
For instance, I was going through childhood travel pictures and family members could not recall the location of this fortification.
Google Lens was helpful, but it suggested more than one fortified option. The choices spanned destinations from the Punjab to Egypt and in between. Fort Attock Khurd looked the most promising so I went to Google Maps and found it sitting beautifully overlooking the River Indus.
Then I paged through the photos posted by recent visitors to the area. With a little adjustment for perspective, the ramparts, curved walls, the river all came into focus. It’s truly (I’m going to show my age!) spectacular that I can access vacation photos from someone on the other side of the earth. It allows for such ease in piecing together a road trip taken half a century ago.
So now I am asking my AI friend, if he/she is listening: Explain the mystery of why some of my photos get so many views and some not. For example, this park is located in a sleepy little suburb and the park itself is nice but not as heavily used as others. The numbers under the playground equipment are particularly strong– it doesn’t seem like the best photo to me out of the group. Why so many views?
I wrote about this DQ about three weeks ago and the views on it have taken off. I guess it is ice cream season. And people often search for food and restaurants. Still it seems like a lot in comparison to other photos of equal quality.
I liked the shot of the Minneapolis skyline from under the I94 Bridge. Maybe I’m biased because we had such a nice bike ride along the river. The river flats area is famous for being the low income housing area of a century ago.
My all time high views is of a beautiful beach at Fish Lake Regional Park in Maple Grove. I do love that park. In addition to the beach, there are walking trails, you can rent a variety of water craft and there is a dog park. We have an extensive regional park system in Hennepin County, and maybe the numbers reflect the number of patrons planning visits.
Still– if AI big sister is listening: Please explain the variance in views!
Now that my kids are past this stage of life, I miss it all!
Remembering my grandmother’s mother who was laid to rest in a grove adjacent to a white clapboard country church.
Was there a pool in your childhood where you whiled away the long hours of summer? There were several in mine– where is this one?
For additional help I pulled up the satellite view from Google Maps as it is still in use.
Bonus points for identifying the hotel.
Tomorrow is time enough to talk about the non-fungible nature of mothers’ work.
I realize a lot of people wonder about bird watchers and what exactly they are up to. How can it be that interesting to catch a glimpse of an avian creature? So here are some things to consider.
Where’s Waldo has been in print for over thirty years delighting fans all over the world in finding the little man in red and white stripes. Birdwatching beats Waldo any day. First off, it can be done outside anytime, any season without any printed materials. And there are a lot more variations to look for than stripes of two colors.
Walking about in nature is pleasant in and of itself, but add to that the possibility of coming upon a devoted couple of Hooded Mergansers can make any day special. The elaborate head plumage on the drake is bright white even from across the pond. While the hen can barely be distinguished from her surroundings. Sometimes you only get a quick glance before a bird takes flight, so stand-out features are a definite plus.
Hunting is part of the fun. But the distinguishing is the real skill. You might only get a few seconds, half a minute to make some critical observations before the subject at hand flutters off to a higher limb or across the tall prairie grass. In that precious time your eyes need to take in the size, plumage markings, beak thickness and any other mannerisms that may help you with identification.
With experience, an observer can collect an impression and plop it between a range of sizes, colors and markings, then scroll the memory banks for the best possibility of what it it that flies ahead. But that’s where it gets tricky. Once out of view, the memory becomes foggy. Was it a gross beak? Was the cap black and a black bar across the wings? You learn to look for defining features.
Before you know it, your trained eye see the Flicker on the hallowed tree by the driveway, and the Orioles making their way up for the summer months, and the Crested King Fishers down by the water. Life is richer, more varied and better understood.
Now if I could only spot those darn owls.
Even back twenty years a go when the death kneel sounded for the end of paper books, I was skeptical. I never tried the Nook or downloaded books from the library. The feel of the printed page in my hands is part of the reading experience.
In those in between years, when national bookstore chains were shutting down, I made a point to visit Birchbark Books which is one of a handful of independent bookstores to weathered the competition from technological alternatives. It’s a sweet brick storefront with a large glass paned window, owned and run by writer Louise Erdrich.
Her shop, which is in an old money neighborhood of Minneapolis, has an eclectic inventory on its shelves with brief commentary on handwritten cards taped up so as to give you a preview of what is to be found between the pages. Quite a few shelves are devoted to her books as well as the work of other Native American writers, as this is a venue for their display.
Last week while out in DC we visited Union Market, an old grocery marketplace now being rehabilitated after a long period of decline. Politics and Prose has a cozy presence in a slim shop settled in a long row of what appears to have been food distributers. The area has that cool vibe of a place artists would like.
The redevelopment, however, is coming fast and furious. The contrast is visible as the four to seven story apartment or building space surround the street level shops.
In honor of the alignment of the rising sun on the spring solstice between the ancient stones of Stonehenge, here is picture from my visit in the mid 1970’s. I do remember the now UNESCO World Heritage site as being well attended. And from the lack of grass around the ancient stones, it seems that everyone was allowed full access to the area.
One way to throw a wrench into infrastructure plans in China is to refuse to move for freeway projects. It’s a thing. It has a name. Nail houses, because they are like nails that refuse to get pounded down.
Here’s an article from 2015 with several examples.
Here’s a newer sighting.
Nimbyism knows no boundaries.
A hike up to the crater lake at Mount Zuqualla is a day trip from Addis Ababa. The drive out of the capital city and off the Ethiopian high plateau, down through the valley to the base of the extinct volcano can be done in less than a couple of hours. It is a bit of a climb up to the lake, and the road is rough. The verdure is thick right after the rainy season, and yellow flowers, similar to our tickseed, bloom throughout the countryside. Silhouetted on the ridge of the hill are oversized eucalyptus trees. They grow everywhere in the highlands and their fragrance is unmistakable.
The crater lake is not much to look at but the views back over the valley are spectacular. A 14th century monastery is visible off to the west, but we did not venture in its direction. I came across this post on twitter telling the story about how it was settled.
The British Museum has an extensive collection of Ethiopian manuscripts which are beautifully inscribed and illustrated. If you ever hear people complain that Christian art does not depict the stories of the bible in their image, send them to this resource. Ethiopians trace their Christian heritage back to King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.
We’re hitting a record cold spell as a polar vortex nestles in over the bold north state. So what do people do when the temps don’t climb above zero and hit lows in the -30 range? Go fishing on the ice of course! (see Grumpy Old Men for the Walter Matthau, Jack Lemmon and Ann-Margaret portrayal) For those of you who never get to experience cold climate living– this is for you.
The overall rating for our Christmas trip to Park City was five out of five stars.
Travel and logistics: There are multiple daily flights from MSP to SLC, accommodating early risers or those who want to tick out the very last minutes of the day. The front desk at the Marriot recommended Four Seasons Concierge Service (approx $75/person round trip including stop time at Wal-Mart) to haul the four of us, and all the equipment, the 40 min drive up to Park City. We no longer have any desire to drive on icy, unfamiliar roads and use whatever bus or car service is available. This one was excellent.
Lodging and Food: Marriott Mountainside offers villas which are two bedroom suites with a kitchen and living area. So we cooked-in most all meals. Our driver pulled into Walmart parking (conveniently right on the way), where an employee loaded a week’s worth of groceries into the back of the suburban. By ordering on-line the day before departure, our groceries were ready to be picked up, all confirmed by text message. Definitely a Covid lesson I will repeat. There was only one additional stop for groceries the whole week.
Marriott Mountainside is right on the hill. You walk past the pool and hot tub with your gear, pop into your skis and slide down into the lift line. This frees up the time normally spent stomping out to an early morning bus ride up to the ski area. Park City Mountain is the largest resort in the US, but more importantly for us were the number and quality of blue runs. Skiing on a 4-out-of-5-day pass ($415/adult) we had plenty of terrain to keep us busy. Lift lines were a little long, but thanks to Covid, a reservation system kept the numbers in check.
Since we had such easy access to the room, we took a break for lunch every day. We did go into town for a nice steak dinner one evening. Prime Steak and Piano Bar lived up to its on-line accolades both for food and ambiance. You wouldn’t be able to get out of there without spending $300 (us more) for four. We felt it was well worth the money. The live vocals and piano music were particularly welcome this year.
The Town: Silver mines brought people and wealth to the area starting as early as 1868. So there are a fair number of preserved historic buildings. Main street is filled with what you would expect in a resort town: restaurants (said to have over 200), galleries, merch shops, snow wear and gear.
Weather: Average temps in December and January are between 13-32 degrees. This year the snow cover was sparse–for guaranteed depth it is best to arrive mid-January. The climate is dry which allows the snow to remain powdery despite the warmer temps. It was sunny four out of the six days.
The building, located at 350 South Fifth Street, is an example of Richardsonian Romanesque architecture. The design is based upon Henry Hobson Richardson‘s Allegheny County Courthouse in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Washington School, the first schoolhouse in Minneapolis west of the Mississippi River, was demolished to make way for the new building. Groundbreaking took place in 1889, and the cornerstone was laid (a story off the ground) in 1891. Construction did not officially end until 1906, although the structural exterior was essentially complete by the end of 1895. The county began moving in to its side (4th Ave.) in November 1895, while the city (3rd Ave.) side was not occupied until December 1902. Cost was about $3,554,000, which works out to 28¢ per cubic foot ($10/m³).Minneapolis City Hall – Wikipedia
A bright blue rooster showed up on the Minneapolis skyline a few years back. Minnesota Public Radio ran a piece on the installation.
The rooster stands atop a brushed stainless steel plinth for a total height of almost 25 feet. An earlier edition of the sculpture stood in Trafalgar Square in London for several months. Fritsch is known for presenting everyday objects in a new and provocative light.
In 2017 the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, home to the adult male chicken, got a complete overhaul. The garden sits between Parade Stadium and the SW side of downtown, lining up like an elaborate front yard to the Walker Art Center. You can get a glimpse of the blue bird through the garden.
Before the avian monument’s appearance, The Spoonbridge and Cherry was the iconic Minneapolis placemaker. Since 1986 this whimsical piece was a prominent feature on all the brochures meant to lure tourists to our largest city. Which makes the argument, that at least one objective for public art, is to create a photogenic avatar.
As it turns out, Minneapolis is full of public art–69 installation is all. If you visit Minneapolis you’ll have to check out the self guided tours listed on the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation site. To facilitate planning your tour, there are time estimates for walking, biking or driving. No bike? No worries, Nice Ride has all sorts of stations with bright green bikes you can rent. Here is a screenshot of just the ones in downtown.
How did the city feather a nest so full of art? By getting the public involved, of course. Here’s how it works.
Community Organizations and Private Entities
There are more than 60 artworks in the Minneapolis park system, but only half are owned by MPRB, and they are mostly historic works. The rest are owned and maintained by the City of Minneapolis, community organizations, or private entities who sponsor and care for the artwork while it is hosted on public park land. Thanks to the generous support of these partners, dozens of creative and inspiring artworks are available throughout the park system for all visitors to enjoy. If you or your organization are interested, please see the “Sponsoring Art in Minneapolis Parks” tab.
The purpose and value of public art is more than just placemaking. It signals that residents care about their story, about their environment, about putting an effort to more than just the nuts and bolts of life.
Update–many of the California hills have closed. Same goes for the Alps. Sigh–maybe next year.
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All things considered, it has been an incredibly strong market for residential real estate sales in 2020. The spring started strong but was shut down along with everything else in March when the virus leapt the oceans and appeared in great numbers on the US coasts. Home sales were considered an essential service, but the apprehension of allowing strangers into sellers’ homes for showings slowed down the process.
This data from Northstar MLS shows the dip in April and then the take off of activity starting in June.
Issues that seemed to be on buyers minds when they came through open houses were 1. room for home offices 2. new flexibility in distance to job location 3. downsizing out of larger homes to avoid maintenance concerns. This broad range of interests led to almost all types of properties being snatched up, often in competitive bidding. Which has led to a sharp decline in properties available for sale.
In almost all markets, except the downtown Minneapolis condo market which is up 21.3%.
I think there is little dispute that Covid has dampened the amenities which a downtown offers. The lack of night life and restaurants, the lack of need to be blocks from work or near light rail for a quick trip to the airport. By displacing the relative value that residents place on these features versus a whole host of other variables that go into a home purchase decision (including square footage, proximity to family and so on), more owners are exiting the downtown community than joining it.
Nailing down the market prices on each of these amenities one-by-one would take data that is not readily available. Data sets for the performance of public sector goods would have to be statistically spun out to reveal levels of significance. An analysis of prices of these and other amenities which overlap through a variety locations would provide an opportunity for index setting. Due to the extraordinary living conditions in 2020, there is an opportunity to obtain counter factual data for many core neighborhood utilities. It is a unique opportunity.
According to the Mayo Clinic: regular brisk walking can help you:
The faster, farther and more frequently you walk, the greater the benefits.
After a section about technique and goals and progress, Mayo says, ‘Starting a walking program takes initiative. Sticking with it takes commitment.’ You see this costless effort toward your health takes work. Work because if you don’t do it you will lose out.
Scenery and wildlife keep me motivated.
Google photos is so good about reminding me where I was just a few years ago. Any guesses? A fabulous prize awaits those who participate.
It’s true, Minnesotans talk a lot about the weather. And it is snowing here today in the north country. Even as tourists, we have to get out and touch the snow. Luckily I had just gotten that wool shawl.
It is a chilly, overcast day in the north country. I’m thinking of the day when we can once again set our sites on sunny destinations.
“The notion that there are many values, and that they are incompatible; the whole notion of plurality, of inexhaustibility, of the imperfection of all human answers and arrangements; the notion that no single answer which claims to be perfect and true, whether in art or in life, can in principle be perfect or true – all this we owe to the romantics.”
I often stop at local parks, especially when I’m in an unfamiliar part of town. First off it is an incentive to maintain a regular walking regime. And you can almost always glean some insights into a community from its parks and trail system.
Yesterday I stopped at one which featured Nature Center in its name. Yet there was no building next to the forty by forty spread of asphalt off a deadend road, perhaps a half-mile from the heavily used I694 loop around the cities. Only the entrance sign confirmed I was in the right spot.
The trail led under a gorgeous canopy tall oak trees. Through all the dead fallen wood you could see a pond down to the left covered in a thick coat of pea green.
The signage was ambitious, from the greeting sign and then a series of signs denoting stations along the walk, pointing out the flora and fauna along the circular path around the pond. They were faded, and the plastic coverings cracked and damaged.
As the path descended down toward the water the noise of ducks alerted one to a large grouping of fowl. I first spotted a nice looking mallard. Then, hacking through the brambles and low brush to get a better look, a gaggle of no less than thirty wood ducks came into view.
If you’re a bird watcher seeing a glimpse of just a pair of these birds, with their exotically detailed plumage, is exciting. This site caught me spellbound.
My first impression of this park led me to feel sympathetic for the folks who must have spent so much time getting this 24 acre green space established. How disappointed they would be by the overgrowth and neglected beamed steps cut into the hill bank, washout at points here and there.
But I’ve changed my mind. Those folks, having invested work into this vision would probably be delighted not disappointed. For here was a habitat in the middle of a three and a half million people metro, where families of wood ducks floated contentedly on a pond.
Reminder to self: don’t be too quick to judge someone else’s point-of-view.