Sh*t Show, Indeed

I’m baaaack . . . .

I’ve been on a blog hiatus for a few months. Last New Year’s photo-a-day goal kept me posting regularly, but after returning from a 3-week trip in September, I lost the photo-mojo a bit, and the blog lapsed.  On the other hand, 9 months of daily photos isn’t exactly a failure, even though more than a few were the “Oh crap, I don’t have a photo yet and it’s getting dark!” variety.

I’m making a photo commitment again this year, but changing it so it’ll be easier to keep going and still be meaningful (to me).  This year, I’m posting a “Weekly 7” group of photos instead — from Sunday to Sunday.  Some weeks it might be one pic from each day, but most of the time they’ll be taken from a few days.  I AM going to do my best to avoid the “Oh crap, I don’t have 7 photos yet and it’s Sunday . . . and almost dark!” syndrome.

Now to explain the Sh*t Show title. We went with friends Judy and Craig to see Lizz Winstead’s New Year’s Eve show at the Cedar Cultural Center in Minneapolis.  If you don’t know, Lizz is a comedian and writer whose resume includes co-founder and head writer of The Daily Show and co-founder of Air America Radio. She’s been returning to her home town for a year-in-review show every December 31st for over a decade.

Lizz calls her show “The Greatest Sh*t Show on Earth”, referring mostly to the political subjects of the past year. This was our first one, but 2017 being what it was, I’m guessing it was her sh*tiest show so far. It was a good show, given that some of the usually-funny jokes and ironies of political comedy are hard to laugh at these days because it’s all so depressing and painful. But Lizz seems to be an optimist at heart, and this was a good way to end a sh*tty year and work up a little hope for the new one.

The next day, we began the new year in a happy way with a visit from the grandkids. Sometimes that’s all it takes.

So Happy 2018!  Hang on, folks. Let’s get this steaming pile on the road!

Here are my 7 pics for the past week.

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A packed house at the Cedar Cultural Center on a very cold night. (Technically, it was a few hours before the week —  and year — began, but I’m counting it anyway.)

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Otto seems pleased with the healthy choices he made to top his already-healthy Mickey Mouse pancake.

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Svea loves how well Buffalo plaid and polka dots go together.

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I-35W south of downtown Minneapolis will be under various phases of construction and destruction for about 4 years.  This winter’s project includes closed lanes and replacing the Franklin Avenue bridge.  Drive the city streets and stay off the highway.

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We put in an order for one of these!  They’re very small camping trailers, built in Dassel, Minnesota by Escapade Campers.  It’s a husband and wife company with a couple of employees.  They hand-make 3 of these a week, offering quite a few custom options.  It seems like a good way to travel with a camper, tow with a modest-sized vehicle, at a reasonable price.  Owners Jeff and Brianna are nice people with a good business model and and what seems to be an excellent product. More to come about this in about 6 weeks.

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This is my health club, which, until a few days ago, seemed like an OK place.  Then the management made an odd decision to stop showing news stations on any of the numerous TV screens in the exercise area.  Cable news is one of the things that gets me through the drudgery of indoor exercise — and I’m pissed off about it. They didn’t directly notify members of the change, instead choosing to let the innocent people working the check-in desk answer questions about a poorly thought-out decision.  The official reason for this travesty — which ironically, member found out from reports by the local NEWS channels and the NEWSpapers — was  a pile of mumbo jumbo BS about news-watching being an unhealthy thing to do.  One of the employees told me (when I complained) that there had been arguments — and even fights — breaking out in health clubs over news programs.  If that weren’t so stupid, it would be hilarious. All I know is, I’m not taking this lying down, and it makes me want to “argue” and “fight” with the management.  In the photo, you can see that there are at least a dozen TVs (more screens to the right) and one person watching all the Basketball, Hallmark Channel, HGTV, TLC, Animal Planet, and E! she can handle.  I think there’s a network called PablumTV, too — now very popular at all the Lifetime Fitness Clubs. It helps keep everyone calm and very healthy. But I will probably join a different club soon — one that treats their members like adults.

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What ? — a tiny camping trailer and a new Ford in the same week? I know — what an ostentatious display. (And I just thought of this — the Escape will be pulling the Escapade.  Hey Will Shortz — use THAT in one of your Sunday Puzzlers!

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More photo-a-day pics from France

The third week of our trip began in Saint-Etienne-du-Gres, a small town between Avignon and Arles, continued to the Cote d’Azur (French Riviera), up through part of the Alps (in and out of Italy and Switzerland), and back to Paris.

Here’s a photo from each day of the that week.

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(9/17/17) Old car show in Aix-en-Provence

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(9/18/17)WWII Deportees And Resistance Memorial, Menton

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(9/19/17) Monaco

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(9/20/17) I forgot the name of this little town we drove through in the southern French Alps.

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(9/21/17) Paraglider over Chamonix

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(9/22/17) Beaune, Burgundy Region

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(9/23/17) Jardin du Luxembourg, Paris

Photo-a-day from the second week in France

After a couple of days in Paris and a couple more in the Loire Valley, we headed south to the Dordogne and Lot regions, and then on to Provence.

Here’s a photo from each day.

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(9/10/17) This little cabin contains an old bread-baking oven (the round part on the left) and is attached to the main house on the right.  We rented it as an Air BnB room. It was a terrific place to stay in the village of Rignac, a few miles from the well-known town of Rocamadour in the Lot region of France. Jean-Luc and Maud, both retired teachers, were our hosts. They were wonderful. We had great breakfast conversations with them, and they gave us a tour of the surprisingly large and beautiful church in their village.

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(9/11/17) Rocamadour cascades in 3 levels down a cliff. Yes, it’s a tourist town, but is so beautiful, that you can easily ignore the gift shops and daytime crowds. And it looks stunning at night.

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(9/12/17) At the recommendation of of our host, Jean-Luc, we took a drive south to the towns of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie (right side of this photo) and Bouzies, on the Lot River.  We took a 2 hour boat ride back and forth between the two picturesque towns.

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(9/13/17) After leaving the Rignac AirBnB, we headed southeast, in the direction of Provence.  After taking a few wrong turns, we finally found our way to the route we wanted, which was a drive through the the Gorges du Tarn, a deep valley cut by the Tarn River.  There are several small towns like this one along the way. It’s a popular area in the summer, with camping, hiking, and canoe/kayak rentals.  We arrived as the season was winding down, so it was quiet and peaceful.

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(9/14/17) The Pont du Gard remains largely intact as a masterpiece of Roman design and engineering. Almost 2,000 years old, it was built as part of an aquaduct that carried water across the Gardon River on a 50 km route to supply the city of Nimes.

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(9/15/17) Avignon

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(9/16/17) Arles

 

Off to begin a European vacation

After a trip to Europe, it’s time to post again.  While Minnesotans sweltered in the September heat that followed a cool August, the French and the Italians bundled up to face an early autumn after a hot summer.  It was hard to pack for a trip in either direction.

I’ll write more about the trip after I catch up with the photo-a-day thing.  Here’s a pic from each day of Week #36 of 2017.

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(9/3/17) I think our little back yard looks pretty good the day before we leave for 3 weeks.

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(9/4/17) 4:30 PM – We taxi onto the runway and take off toward the approaching storm. It was a bouncy and discomforting way to start the trip.

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(9/5/17) Bonjour, Pareee!  After landing at 7:30 AM, we dropped our bags at the hotel and set off to stumble around and see a few things. In 2015, the city decided to remove all the “love locks” from the Pont des Arts Bridge. Since then, “lovers” (such as those in the middle of an argument in this picture) have found a new home for their romantic trinkets nearby. It’s probably just a matter of time before these locks are also scrapped. I think it’s interesting, but doesn’t strike me as a particularly attractive assemblage. ( I think that might be a French word.)

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(9/6/17) Speaking of lovers, these two lovebirds jump in the air in an attempt to take flight in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral. A photographer snaps away in an obvious attempt to get a good photo for their engagement announcement (I hope).

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(9/7/17) After a couple of nights in the big city, we pick up a rental car and head south to the Loire Valley for a little Chateau-hoppin’.  First stop is Chateau de Chambord, probably the largest and most elaborate of all.  Lunch was bread, cheese, and an apple on the bench.

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(9/8/17) We visited two Chateaux today. The first was Château d’Amboise (home several Kings of France) situated on a cliff above the city of Amboise, and the second was the Château of Clos Lucé, also in Amboise. This photo at Clos Lucé was shot through an old glass window which warps the light, resulting in an impressionist-like image of the gardens. Clos Lucé is where Leonardo da Vinci spent the last three years of his life. He was persuaded to move here by his friend, King François I, whose city (and this house) made a better place for Leonardo to work than in Italy during it’s turmoil at the time.

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(9/9/17) One more chateau visit today, before heading farther south.  This is Chateau de Chenonceau, which is really beautiful because it spans the River Cher. It is nicknamed “The Ladies Castle”, because it was “built in 1513 by Katherine Briçonnet, decorated by Diane de Poitiers, extended by Catherine de Médicis and saved by Louise Dupin during the French Revolution.” (quote is from a blog post about the top ten Chateaux in the Loire Valley)

 

 

Will summer return?

Week #34 of 2017 is in the books. We had some rain, some sun, and some cool weather.  It seems like summer took a break in mid-July and never returned. Here are my photos of the day for last week.

 

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(8/20/17) A brief sun shower while biking on East 36th St. at 46th Ave So in Minneapolis.

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(8/20/17) We bought several varieties of Kale at the Barton School plant sale fundraiser. This one, planted in a straw bale, is the smallest but most colorful.

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(8/21/17) In today’s installment of the “Missed our flight, have to sleep at the airport” game, our two world travelers share a quiet moment together.

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(8/22/17) While walking on the Stone Arch Bridge in downtown Minneapolis, I ran across what appeared to be a wedding party photo session in the Mill Ruins Park below.  

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(8/23/17) Prairie grasses catch the last rays of the evening in Glendalough State Park, Minnesota

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(8/24/17) With rain and more rain in the forecast, we aborted our camping trip to Glendalough State Park after one night and headed for home. Guess which rig is ours.

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(8/25/17) Late summer color in the backyard

Dog Days are here again

The little bathroom is almost done.  The temps are starting to go down. We’re picking tomatoes.  The State Fair is just ahead.  Svea starts Kindergarten next week. Time to savor the remaining days of summer.

Here’s a photo from each day of last week.

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(8/13/17)  The tiny bathroom is nearly done, thanks to the hard work of expert craftsmen and artists (such as the one pictured here). It’s too bad there was no one around to hold that light for her.

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(8/14/17)  Urban fishing at its best — Lake Harriet, Minneapolis.  What you may not know is that there are some very large game fish (Muskellunge) in this lake.  Watch the video below to see someone catching a Muskie in Lake Harriet.

Here’s a video of someone landing a 39-inch Muskellunge from a dock in Lake Harriet within the city limits of Minneapolis. Muskies 6-8 inches longer than this one are not uncommon here. 

 

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(8/15/17) No, the PGA Champions Tour was not in town. But Ron Julien was the coolest cat on the course today at Como Golf Course in St. Paul. Thanks, Ron, for inviting me to play!

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(8/16/17) Imagine the odds against being in my photo of the day TWO days in a row! But Ron managed to do it during Happy Hour at Barrio Restaurant on the Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis.  Here, he reacts when Mary says, “Whoa, Ron, I think you’ve had about enough bean dip and guacamole.”

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(8/17/17)  It’s that time of year.

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(8/18/17) I tore my Meniscus for this photo of a Hibiscus.

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(8/19/17)  Sometimes those Groupons really pay off.  Osteria I Nonni in St. Paul is a fantastic Italian restaurant, and neither of us had ever been there before.

Photos to take your mind off nuclear war and white supremacists

Here are my photos of the day from Week #32 of the year that Trump built. Don’t be fooled, we’re not immune to extremism here in the heartland, but it doesn’t hurt to take a little break from the daily news and go out and find some good things.

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(8/6/17) Rainy evening at Lake Nokomis

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(8/7/17) Reid Parkinson at the Nicollet Diner

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(8/8/17)  Barbara Shelton invited us over at dusk for a Mojito and some catching up.  Her backyard screened porch, now in its third summer, is charming . . . and it keeps the rain and bugs away.

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(8/9/17) Roger walks through wildflowers on his way from the tee to his drive (in the middle of the fairway, of course) on the 14th hole at Keller Golf Course in St. Paul. It’s amazing to think that Keller, a Ramsey County public course, was a regular stop on the pro tour for four decades, and even hosted the PGA Tournament twice — in 1932 and 1954! While today’s players disagree about some of the design changes made three years ago, no one disputes that this place is more beautiful than ever right now.

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(8/10/17) As a heretofore non-vegetable gardener, you can imagine how cool this seems. Right in our yard!  Things you can eat!

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(8/11/17)  Mark and Deb Frette joined us for some excellent Scandinavian appetizers at “Erik the Red Nordic BBQ and Barbarian Bar” in the old “Hubert’s” building across the street from the Vikings Stadium in downtown Minneapolis. (Karen looked up from checking Facebook for a split second!)

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(8/12/17) A moment, Lake Nokomis, Minneapolis