Photo a Day for Week #6 (no politics this week!)

Here are my 7 photos from last week, week #6 of 2017.  I’ve decided to take a short break from complaining about President —–.

You’re welcome.


(2/5/17) A successful day of Valentine making.  (They each did one for the other parent, too — no favoritism here.)


(2/6/17) I drove through my old neighborhood and thought about how damn lucky some kids are compared to others.  Pretty cool to have this in your yard, huh?

Version 2

(2/7/17)  There used to be dozens of movie theaters in St. Paul.  Now there are exactly TWO, and this is one of them. The Grandview Theater and the Highland Theater are both owned by the Mann Theatre Company.  The Grandview opened in 1933.  The interior has retained much of its original charm, however the balcony was walled off and turned into a smaller second floor theater.  It’s still a great old place though, and one of an endangered species of  older neighborhood movie houses. I hope these two remaining St. Paul gems can hang on.


(2/8/17)  Lake Calhoun feeds into Lake Harriet through this half-mile channel.  It’s been so warm lately that most of the ice is gone.


(2/9/17) This bridge over on I-94 in downtown Minneapolis was designed (sort of) by Frank Lloyd Wright.  I qualify that because it was built from some of his drawings from 1937 and adapted to fit this curving bridge.  I think a lot of people don’t even realize that it’s a Wright design. (This is not a great photo, but then again, not all that bad considering I shot it out the car window on my phone while driving down the freeway.)


(2/10/17)  Centennial Lakes park is one of those places you drive past all the time without really taking the time to explore.  When we finally did stop for an hour today and walk around, we realized that it’s really nice — especially considering its location in the middle of a suburban office park and very near Southdale, a big and busy shopping mall.  A string of ponds provides good skating (skate rental available).  Those strips of grass in the foreground are part of a funky natural grass putting course that skirts the water.  It’s kind of like mini-golf, except this course requires actual golf skills.


(2/11/17)  Near St. Anthony Main, across the river from downtown Minneapolis.  They can’t be called Christmas lights in February, but I think I like them even more at this time of year.



Trying to catch up

I’m getting a little behind in keeping my New Year’s promise to myself to shoot and post a photo each day. (Shooting – yes.  Posting – late)  I’m going to blame the new President of the United States for this, because he and his yes-people have been sucking a lot of my mental energy over the past few days. I’m going to have to figure out a way to get my retirement work done with the current regime in power.  Right now, it’s tough. Before too long, it will be golf season.  I hope that by then I can concentrate enough to get myself to the course and play.

Here is a photo from each day last week (Week 5).


(1/29/17)  Quiet! — Artists at work.


(1/30/17) It was 7:30 PM, and I hadn’t gotten around to taking a photo for the day yet.  I took off out into the darkness, and luckily, there was a hockey game at the neighborhood park. Three things I noticed: 1. These kids are good skaters, 2. There were at least as many adults watching as there were kids playing, and 3. Quite a few of these guys are girls.  It was very fun to watch. (And yes, she scored!)



(1/31/17) Minneapolis is know as the “Mill City”, but several other communities could also claim that title. Minnehaha Creek starts at Lake Minnentonka and meanders for 22 miles before it floes over its famous waterfall and then into the Mississippi River.  In the 1800s, there were several milling operations on the creek.  Just before the creek enters the city of Minneapolis, the Edina Mill Dam still slows down the water and widens the stream to a small lake.  Edina’s picturesque Browndale neighborhood is named for the prominent Brown family’s farm.  According to a sign in the little park where I shot this picture, “In the late 1800s, the Browndale Farm was a vast campus of buildings and a significant employer in the area.  Its cattle and progressive farming methods made it famous.  Visitors and dignitaries from around the region and overseas came to admire its operations. Central to the farm’s success was the neighboring Edina Mill, which gave access to high-quality grains.”


(2/1/17)  Summit Avenue runs westward from the Cathedral near downtown St. Paul all the way to the Mississippi River.  This section of the river is considered the only “gorge” on the enter river.  High bluffs on each side provide stunning views.  This park at the end of Summit Ave. on East River Road offers some great walking trails.  When I took a geology class field trip here as a teacher about 20 years ago,  I also learned that the sides of these cliffs are great places to find fossils.


(2/2/17)  Dan Berg invited me to breakfast at Curran’s, a pillar of the Kingfield neighborhood. Our paths have crossed occasionally in recent years, but we haven’t sat down and talked in a long time. I first met Dan and his wife, Welcome Jerde back in the ’90s, as very active parents in Windom Open School community, where I was teaching.  Their daughter Hannah has now graduated from college and is pursuing a career as a filmmaker.  Their other wonderful daughter, Julia, was in my class.  She passed away tragically in 2005 at age 15 — in what turned out to be the result of mis-diagnosis by the medical professionals who were treating her. Dan, Welcome, and Hannah have been able to recover as well as any family possibly could from such a loss. There are many reasons for why they are so strong today, but Dan attributes a lot of it to their decision to embark on a mission to educate doctors about this issue, and through their University of Minnesota Lectures, actually change some practices and procedures in the medical community.  It was great to see Dan again, have some laughs, catch up on news, and remember Julia. 

For more about Julia’s story and Dan and Welcome’s journey, go to their website here



(2/2/17) Just before sundown on the south shore of Lake Calhoun (“Bde Maka Ska” in the Dakota language). The downtown Minneapolis skyline is in the background.


(2/3/17)  Apparently ice kiting is a thing now.  These people were having a good time on Lake Nokomis.  Maybe I’ll give it a try — as soon as I get some skates and a kite.

Is Topsy-Turvy Town the New Normal?

I’ve had an annoying little song playing over and over in my head for a few days. When I was a little kid back in the ’50s, we had a 45rpm record called “Topsy-Turvy Town”. It was one of those silly kids’ songs about a place where everything was the opposite of the way things really are.  Of course the reason it’s popped back into my consciousness is because it feels like Topsy-Turvy America right now. The new administration wants us to believe them when they tell us that “When you look to the front, you see to the rear”, or “When you open your eyes, that’s when you can hear”.  Have a listen to to “Topsy-Turvy Town by clicking here.  (Warning: Don’t listen to it more than once or you’ll still have it in your head 60 years from now, like I do.)screen-shot-2017-02-07-at-1-29-04-pm

Little kids laugh at the ridiculous. They find a backwards, upside down, world funny, precisely because they know what the truth is. Even a 4-year old understands this kind of humor. Of course the trees are not blue and the river brown, as the song tells us. Now as adults, we laugh at the Donald, KellyAnne and Sean characters on Saturday Night Live. But then frustration, even anger, take over, because the SNL version of Topsy-Turvy Town is not fictional — it’s really happening. So after a good laugh, we get serious and try to figure out what we can do about the mess we’re in.

TrumpTweets are now part of each days news.  Because his opinions are not often based on facts, the tweets range from laughable, to self-aggrandizing, to mean-spirited, to jingoistic, to offensive, all the way to downright dangerous.  This President’s use of Twitter is perhaps the most noticeable way the he is different than his predecessors, because he’s the first POTUS to expose his impetuous and narcissistic nature so immediately, publicly, and vociferously. He has no filters and he sees no value in getting any.

His other forms of communication are no less troubling, however.  We’ve all seen plenty of wince-worthy (if not scream at the TV-worthy) moments already.  Even many of his supporters hoped that President Trump would act a little more “normal” or “presidential” after he was elected.  It hasn’t happened.  His staunch supporters say that an unpredictable rogue is what they wanted, his lukewarm, but-he’s-better-than-Hillary voters are getting increasingly uncomfortable, and the rest of us are horrified.

Because he (and his hench-people) are SO outrageous, and so consistent in their level of outlandishness, I’m worried that there’s a danger that some of us will become accustomed to this noise, this distractive clutter, this barrage of blunders, and the lack of connection to facts.  I fear that some in the Republican Party have already adjusted their level of acceptable lies and pernicious attacks from their President.  Too many seem to have found a place in their minds where this President’s tenuous relationship with the truth is somehow manageable to them.  David Brooks wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times last week calling out the “Republican Fausts” who have made a deal with him to get what they want.  To quote Mr. Brooks,  “The Republican Fausts are in an untenable position. The deal they’ve struck with the devil comes at too high a price. It really will cost them their soul.”

I hope we don’t lose our soul as a nation.  I hope we don’t adjust our standards of decency, fairness, human dignity, and pursuit of the truth. I hope we don’t get warn down — not the slightest bit — by the daily bucket of bullshit being dumped on us by this administration and change out standards for how big of a bucket is acceptable.

When I restarted this blog on the first day of this year, I hadn’t intended it to be a political diatribe. But, since January 20, we’ve begun to see how serious our situation is. If I really am committed to “pay attention”, then that YUGE elephant in every room in America has to be paid attention to. He really is as bad as we thought he’d be. “Give him a chance” is not an option now, if it every was. Every day’s news makes it more difficult to see our way out of this. But we can’t stop looking for a way forward, can’t stop speaking up, can’t stop calling nonsense by its true name.

Oh, and one more line from the song:

“They call it a crowd when there’s no one at all, in Topsy-Turvy Town.”

How did they know about that 64 years ago?


With today’s confirmation of Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education, it won’t be long until your kids will travel to school in style in a cool new Topsy-Turvy bus!



We hold these truths to be alternative

The Emperor undressed, and the swindlers pretended to put his new clothes on him, one garment after another.  The Emperor turned round and round before the looking glass.

“How well Your Majesty’s new clothes look. Aren’t they becoming!” He heard on all sides, “That pattern, so perfect! Those colors, so suitable! It is a magnificent outfit.

It’s been only 9 days since his coronation.  We’ve all been watching him perform self-proclaimed amazing and alarming feats of strength each day.  His opponents have been vocal, and his supporters have been oddly quiet (at least my Facebook friends who supported him, anyway).  In a way, I get it — there’s no need to stick your neck out right now in support of his impetuous actions and crazy words, because he doesn’t need you anymore. He is now the king, and he will rule. He’s going to do what he said he was going to do for as long as he can do it, and none of us can feign surprise. He’s what we thought he would be.

Many voted for him because they wanted a “strongman” — someone who would put a stop to all this compassion, fairness, and unalienable rights nonsense.  Most wanted him in power because he said he would shake up the status quo and “drain the swamp”.  But many Americans didn’t bother to vote at all.  Others chose a third candidate who had no chance of winning. Did they do that because they didn’t mind the idea of being ruled by a narcissistic bully?  Because  now we have one. We have a president that fancies himself as an emperor. To those of you who didn’t try to prevent this, aren’t his new clothes magnificent?  To those of us who see him for what he is, and find nothing but the world’s yugest ego, we need to keep calling out what we see, as loudly as we can, for as long as it takes.

And in alternative news  . . . . it’s been a quiet week here in Lake Wobegon.

Continuing my photo-a-day project, here’s week #4 . . . . . of 1984!


(1/22/17) This is what some people on Lake Harriet in Minneapolis are doing to avoid hearing about what’s been going on in Washington this week.  But if you ask them, they claim to be trying to catch fish.

Version 2

(1/23/17) The Highland Park neighborhood of St. Paul is home to one of 4 great old water towers in the Twin Cities.  Shown here is the top section of Architect Clarence “Cap” Wigington’s design, constructed in 1928. Wigington, an African American, was a renowned midwestern architect at time when there were few black architects anywhere. His tower, covered in Kasota and Bedford stone, rises 127 feet from its hilltop location. The 151-stair climb to the observation deck is only open to the public a couple of days each year.


(1/24/17) Any day I get to spend time with these two knuckleheads, it’s going to be hard for me to think a photo of anything or anybody else could be more noteworthy. Today, Dr. Svea said, “This is a special stethoscope.  I can hear your heart AND look at it at the same time.” Meanwhile, Nurse Otto took great pleasure in giving me several injections of an unnamed substance.

Version 2

(1/25/17)  We were driving down West River Road, it was starting to get dark, and I didn’t have a photo yet.  Karen said, “look at that orange kayak”.  I whipped into the parking lot and met a young man named Cassidy who had just been out kayaking in the frigid Mississippi River.  “It’s still fun when it’s this cold”, he said, “but you have to be really careful, and let somebody know what you’re going to be doing”.  Thanks, Cassidy, I’ll try to remember to do that the next time I go kayaking in January.


(1/26/17) One of the things I’m very grateful for in the the neighborhood where I live, is that I can walk a few minutes in one direction and go to coffee shop or restaurant, or walk a couple of blocks in another direction and be in a place as quiet and natural as this.


(1/27/17) Joel Beck is an old friend and a great carpenter.  He built a beautiful deck for us last year.  Today he stopped over to talk with me about possibly remodeling this old side entry porch into the world smallest bathroom. It would be a dream come true to be able to take a leak without going upstairs.

Version 2

(1/28/17) We went to the Minnesota Opera’s production of “Diana’s Garden”, an almost unknown (but delightful) work by Vicente Martin y Soler. Soler was a contemporary of Mozart, and his musical style is similar to Wolfie’s.  Lorenzo da Ponte, Mozart’s favorite collaborator, wrote the libretto.  This photo is at the preview session in the lobby an hour before the show.  I love these pre-show shows — some history, some background, some musical theme stuff, and a couple of up-close arias from the show. Out the window is Rice Park, with its trees all lit up for the St. Paul Winter Carnival’s ice sculpture competition.  What a great night in downtown St. Paul.








What the hell just happened?

So . . . . President Trump.

How does that sound to you . . . . ?


This did not really happen.  Right?

No, I can’t do it. I can’t talk about it right now.  Everybody’s yakking about it, and for one of the few times in my adult life, I want out of the conversation instead of in. We all know where we stand, and we now pretty much know where everybody else stands.  I will say that the enormous crowds at all the marches and rallies yesterday made me feel better.  The videos and photos of all the people were truly inspirational and uplifting. I regret not going to the state capitol and being part of it all. But I’m really proud of all my friends who did.

Even with yesterday’s boost, I’ve not emerged yet out of the damp, dark, gray week we just finished. It’s going to take more than a few million people marching together and vowing to fight the good fight to shake me out of what I was hoping was just the fog of a dream. But with each day, each action, each utterance from the new guy or from the people who got him to the White House, I am going to build my strength and resolve to do my part in fighting back.  It’s time to wake up and get busy.

In the mean time, here is a photo from each day last week — week #3 of 2017.  Did I mention we had a damp, dark, gray, foggy week?


(1/15/17)  The week started out great, thanks to Mary Livingston agreeing to stop over and belatedly celebrate her birthday with us.  Later in the week, she took off for a warm beach and left those of us back here in the US of A to sit and stare at our TVs in disbelief.

Version 2

(1/16/17)  This guy stopped over, lookin’ all handsome and healthy and happy.

Version 2

(1/17/17) You either have to be tough or dumb  — or maybe unable to fly(?) to be a Minnesota duck. A big  group of Mallards is hanging out in the stream that flows from Lake Harriet to Minnehaha Creek. Wikipedia tells me that a group of ducks on the water can be called a “flock”, a “brace”, a “raft” or a “paddling”.  When they take to the air en masse, they are a “skein”, a “string”, or a “team”. (Note: This will be the most educational picture this week.)


Version 2

(1/18/18) What a great surprise.  Old friend (and now neighbor) Bob Jansen asked me out on a date. Lots of laughs, a little wisdom, tons of bullshit.


(1/19/17) Tis not the season any more, but I’ll take some bright colors (and maybe a little bit of peace on Earth) wherever I can find them.


(1/20/17) I shot this just at the moment in the speech when I realized that our new POTUS was ripping the crap out of President Obama, everything he did as President, and everything he stands for. I love the way Mr. Obama looks like he has just shed a YUGE weight and is in a happier place somewhere far away .


(1/21/17) As millions of people around the globe were marching in support of women, this guy was attempting to win our local Stupidest Male competition. A week or so ago, Minnehaha Falls was all over the local TV news when a DIFFERENT idiot was very seriously injured by a gigantic chunk of falling ice (see the big hole on the upper left?) Everyone was strongly warned to stay away from and off the falls. So after a few days of thawing temperatures and weakening ice, this new genius decides to climb about halfway up the 53-foot waterfall, right next to the cascading water, so that his very proud girlfriend can take his picture.  I didn’t stay around long enough to see if he survived, but he didn’t deserve to.




More than just Survival

The second week of January is alway pretty quiet in this part of the country. Everyone is solidly back in the daily grind after the holiday season.Version 3

The bulk and the brunt of winter are still ahead, which can be a daunting thought.  A small percentage of  Minnesotans actually enjoy going outdoors in the bitter January air. We all like to brag about being hearty souls, but honestly, most of us merely survive the winter — relatively few embrace it.                                 .
If you venture out in single-digit “high” temps, you might see a runner on Minnehaha Parkway, a cross-country skier on Hiawatha Golf Course, and increasingly over the past few years, grown, intelligent-looking men and women riding bicycles with big fat tires on the snow and ice.



These guys are riding ON the creek.

Seemingly every time I shovel the front sidewalk, the ever-chipper neighbor walking her dog with its little boots comes by and says something about what a nice day it is. Not to be argumentative, I find my self mumbling a semi-agreement. It works for a moment, long enough anyway to remember the bigger picture, that life really is pretty darn good right now.  One day, I even found myself thinking (for a split second), “I’m thankful I can still shovel snow”.


One of us is better at the embracing- thing than the other.

Being retired brings other, more predictable, moments of gratefulness.  We had a mild snow storm earlier this week and a voice on the radio said the usual, “There have been hundreds of accidents on Twin Cities roads already this morning. If you don’t have to go anywhere today, stay home”.  I did, and I liked it a lot.

I’ve managed to keep my photo-a-day resolution going for two weeks.  According to a survey by a site called, 68.4% of those who make a new year’s resolution keep it going for the first two weeks.  I thought that percentage would be lower, but I’ll take it.  I’m already ahead of 31.6% of the resolution-makers!

With my back still stinging from that self-pat, here is one photo from each day of week two. You’ll that see I did manage to get my butt outside a few times. And OK. . . .yes, it was a good thing.

Version 2

(1/8/17) We dropped in to see my friend Graydon Royce do his a radio show / podcast called “The New Frontier Lutheran Radio Hour” (More about this in the coming days.)

Version 2

(1/9/17) Svea

Version 2

(1/10/17) Karen doing all the work, as usual. (Hey, SOMEBODY has to take the picture.)

Version 2

(1/11/17) Catching some rays at Minnehaha Creek

Version 2

(1/12/17) 4:40 PM – Stained glass (made by Karen) holds onto the last sunlight of the day.

Version 2

(1/13/17) Walking on water . . . a stroll across Lake Nokomis at sundown.


(1/14/17) The rocks in Minnehaha Creek somehow remember their summer colors.

A photo a day keeps the cold weather away. (No it doesn’t.)


A week ago, I made resolution to revive this blog and post observations from time to time. So far, my most profound thought is that it’s been very cold here in the Twin Cities.  Of course, I’m not surprised by this, nor am I freaked out by it.  It hasn’t even been an especially bad cold snap for January in Minnesota.  But a couple of days this week when I decided to go out for a walk, even at the “warmest” part of the day it was downright uncomfortable. The sun just mocks you when it’s 7 degrees and windy at 1:00 in the afternoon. I’ve lived here all my life.  I’m “used to it”.  I don’t want to move to Florida or Arizona or California.  But this morning, I find myself tempted to throw my golf clubs in the car and just start driving south.  I know nothing is more boring to read than a Minnesota native complaining about cold weather in January, but I’m not really writing this for you, I’m writing it for me. Thanks, I’m done now.



My second New Years resolution was to bring back another idea that I’ve tried a couple of times before — to shoot and post one photo each day.  One thing I learned the first time I did this is that I need to keep in mind the reason for doing it. That is, to help me remember one thing from each day by saving a visual representation.  Photos-of-the-day don’t have to be works of art, but they do spur a memory of something or someone. It’s actually a pretty cool assignment, because I’m always searching for a photo.  Occasionally I have a pretty good idea ahead of time, like last night’s picture of friends I knew we’d be visiting.  Other times something just catches my eye, like Thursday’s picture of the little snowman lights hanging in front of the stained glass window that Karen made. Sometimes I take a different route while driving, hoping I’ll notice something interesting, like the wild turkeys near the old Veterans Home on Monday. Other times, I’m motivated to get out of the house just to go get a photo, like on Friday, when I braved the cold to walk to Minnehaha Creek and saw big sheets of ice tilting up out of the water.

This projects reminds me to notice interesting and the beautiful things that are all around in our every day lives.  And . . . it reminds be to be thankful for good friends, family, and neighbors.

Here are my 7 photos for the first week of 2017.


(Sunday, 1/1/17)  What a great way to start the year!  Otto and Svea — the two best kids ever.


(1/2/17) Here are those turkeys I told you about.  They didn’t seem the least bit afraid of me.

Version 2

(1/3/17)  One of the best things about our new neighborhood is Hakan Sezer and his coffee shop called “Sovereign Grounds”.  Originally from Turkey, Hakan has been roasting beans and serving up excellent coffee and food at 48th and Chicago in Minneapolis for 22 years.  Plus, he has a playroom full of toys for my grandkids!  Hakan is a a neighborhood treasure.


(1/4/17) January in the kitchen


(1/5/17) These started appearing around our neighborhood a few months ago. I like them and I want one.

Version 2

(1/6/17) Minnehaha Creek near the 12th Ave bridge in Minneapolis.


(1/7/17) Our good friends Craig and Judy Jensen had us over for a nice evening.