Blogging like no one’s watching

I used to post quite often years ago, but I just blinked and realized almost two years had passed since I wrote anything here. I’m not sure why I lost interest, but I think it had something to do with wondering who my audience is and what I want to say to them. Then it hit me. Who cares? Nobody but me reads these things anyway. I do blog posts for the same reason I take pictures — because it helps me remember stuff. I don’t need a bigger reason than that. So, after a long hiatus, here’s another try at “Trying to Pay Attention”. It’s all about me. But of course it always was.

Dear Steve, Remember when you played golf on November 28th? In Minnesota? With a bunch of good guys? And the temperature (briefly) hit 50?! That was fun, right?

Practice green at Oak Marsh. Notice the ice on the pond. (It had only warmed up to 43 degrees by kickoff.)
Dennis Van Norman (Out-of-work-due-to-Covid-Shopping-Mall-Santa) had the foresight to reserve two tee times a week ago after seeing the weather forecast for today. Then, he invited 7 of his closest friends to play. Luckily, I was one of them.
Dennis proceeded to take the honorary “first step” on the first tee. It’s a largely ceremonial tradition, a symbolic sacrifice of the leader stepping on the turd so that the rest of us don’t have to.
A thirsty Dave Johnson uses his divining rod to find water.
Dick Swords started playing much better after Roger said, “Try hitting AWAY from the houses and the water, Dick.
Because the ice is not thick yet, errant shots into the pond were easy to find, but hard to retrieve.
Roger Buoen nails a 5-footer.
Dick chose to spend a little time at the beach before heading up to the green.
Republican kids — obviously with too much time on their hands– make the neighborhood surrounding the golf course a dangerous place.
Our other foursome (AKA “the bad guys”) trying their very best to not count all their strokes.
Not a bad place to be on November 28th.
And . . . there was even enough time and temp left to hang around for a bit — long enough to give our money to the guys at the far table.

Dear Jesus

Dear Jesus,

Happy Birthday and Happy Holidays to you, Sir!

I know that today is not your actual birthday, but it’s the day chosen by the Roman Emperor Constantine 300 years after you died. I hope you’ve taken that change in the spirit which it was intended, which was to make the date of your birth near the time of the winter solstice and coincide with as many existing Pagan traditions as possible. This fake date has held up quite well, however, as most of the decorations I’ve seen around here are modern versions of those pagan, solstice-related traditions. So thanks for your acceptance of this multicultural mishmash. Also, thanks for being OK with Santa dominating the holiday.

Since it’s kind of hard to tell whether you’ve been paying attention to us down here or not, (I know you’re busy) I’d like to take this opportunity to give you an update on some things that have been happening. If you already know this stuff, then please forgive me my trespasses.

First, I would like you to know that I’ve read the books about you that people tell me were dictated by your dad. But the fact that they weren’t written down until several generations after you lived makes me wonder a bit about their authenticity. Also, since they contain exact quotes from you, and given all the different translations they’ve been through since they were originally written in Greek (which was, at best, your second language), I’m more than a little skeptical about all of the quotes being accurate. But I do my best to try to extract the general messages, or main ideas, from these writings — mostly because so many people I know say they base their whole outlook on life and death (and beyond) from your words.

So here’s the thing. I’m sure you’ve heard about our election in 2016. And of course you’re also aware that a LOT of people who voted for this president invoke your name, as well as the book of your stories I mentioned earlier, as being reasons for their support for him. As I said, I’ve read quite a bit about you, and to be frank, the things this president has done and said over the past couple of years don’t seem to match up very well with the the things you did and said and tried to teach us to do. (Just yesterday, he tried to talk a 7 year old kid out of believing in Santa Claus, for Chrissake!!!)

This president (and his followers) seem to think that you’ve indicated that America is your favorite country. I’m pretty sure that’s not in your book. In fact, I don’t remember reading much about your thoughts on different countries or particular governments at all, other than telling people they should pay their taxes to Caesar. But this president seems to think that Americans are better than everybody else, and that you have his back on this. He also doesn’t seem to have a lot of compassion for poor people. What the H – E – double – hockey – sticks was your “good Samaritan” story all about, anyway? Have you heard about how this guy feels about poor people from other countries?

There are a lot things he does and says that make it hard for me to believe he’s trying to live his life in a way that you would approve of. But some preachers on TV are even saying that this president has your endorsement and that you and your dad put him in office to represent you!  WTF!?!?

Even though the “bearing false witness” (i.e. lying) commandment is from the older books that weren’t about you — (and which I’m often told to ignore parts of, like directives for us to kill gay people and people who eat shrimp or cheeseburgers or screw around on their spouses and stuff like that . . . . . but I digress.) — it does seem to me that you might think that lying, as a way of life, is probably not the ideal path.

There are many more examples of the appearance of a lack of connection between the president’s words and actions and your words and actions. Sometimes I think he’s never even read your books. (“So, two Corinthians walk into a bar . . . . .”) But I digress again. Forgive me my digressions, too, please.

By the way, a couple of things I haven’t mentioned is that he’s also a mean man and very self-centered and wealth-centered. I’m not going to be the judge on those, but he seems more naughty than nice, if you know what I’m sayin’.

I’m sure I’ve bored you enough by now, and you probably have a lot of people hoping to talk to you at your birthday party up there. Give Tammy Faye a hug and Pat Robertson a knuckle tap for me. (Oh wait, he hasn’t flown up quite yet, right?) So I’ll wind up my birthday card now. But I’m just not understanding it, Jesus. I can see how one person might be kind of screwed up in the head and think that he’s the smartest person in the world and knows what’s best for everybody and only wants people around him who worship him. (Just to be clear, I’m talking about the President, not you.) But what I can’t figure out is why the people who are the strongest followers and supporters of you, are also the strongest supporters of this other guy. They have the same information about you as I do. I’m not aware of a different book about you than the one I’ve read.

But I just . . . don’t . . . get it.

So my question for you is this (and I’d like an honest answer, please):

Is this stuff that’s going on right now REALLY what you were trying to teach us do?

Happy Holidays and have a fun birthday! Hope to talk with you again on Easter, if not sooner. Stay in touch!



(Oh, and P.S. At the risk of sounding like a tattle-tale, I hope you know he doesn’t give a shit about the environment. OK thanks. Bye.)

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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.


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.)


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

Svea scarf

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


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.


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.


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.


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!

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.


(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


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


(9/21/17) Paraglider over Chamonix


(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.


(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.


(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.


(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.


(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.


(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.


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


(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.



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


(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.


(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.


(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.


(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. 



(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!


(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.”


(8/17/17)  It’s that time of year.


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


(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


(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.


(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.


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


(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!)


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

Just a regular old summer week – but it never gets boring.

It was good week, with great weather (except for one weird day). I hung out at some lakes and a creek, went to a block party and a baseball game, drove up north for a wedding– pretty much what summer’s all about.

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(7/30/17) Airliner on final approach to MSP over Lake Harriet.


(7/31/17) Two kayakers negotiate a fallen tree over Minnehaha Creek.


(8/1/17) National Night Out block party on our street.

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(8/2/17) This kid waved at me as he floated down Minnehaha Creek. As he went under the bridge, I asked him how far they were floating.  “We go a long way”, he said, “maybe about 3 hours today”.  Not a bad way to spend an afternoon.

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(8/3/17) Today was a really strange day.  It was cold and cloudy all day — high temps in the mid-50s with on-and-off rain. So when I saw a smidgeon of blue sky in the distance at Lake Harriet, I grabbed it.


(8/4/17)  I went to the Twins game with Lauren tonight.  When we were walking around, I saw her taking a picture of the big “shaking hands across the river” sign in center field and felt happy that she appreciates these retro things as much as I do. I was 8 during the Twins’ first season in 1961. This logo takes me back — and it’s cool that my kid loves it too. Now, if they’d play the Hamm’s Bear commercial on the big screen and have Herb Carneal, Ray Scott and Halsey Hall calling the game on the radio, I’d be all set.

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(8/5/17) A lovely outdoor wedding at Karen’s cousin’s farm near Brooks, in the Red River Valley in northwestern Minnesota.  Congratulations, Tyrell and Natalie Hamrum!