Photo a day from Week #18 of ’17

Here’s a photo from each day of Week #18.

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(4/29/17)  OK, I know this is a strange pick and an uninteresting photo, but it shows milestone for me. After putting off learning the “new” version of Final Cut Pro video editing system (FCPX) for a couple of years, I finally bit the bullet and put my nose to the grindstone (my old adult ESL class would have had fun with those two idioms) and figured out the new program enough to finish a video project for MinnPost (computer on the left). I was forced into this because my old program (FCP6) would not work with a second camera’s format that I used for the shoot. This feat may not sound like much, but believe me that being able to use the new program has lifted a great weight from my shoulders and brought me into the modern world of video editing.

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(5/1/17) May is here, we’ve gotten some rain, and spring colors are popping.  This is part of the Peace Garden near Lake Harriet in Minneapolis.

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(5/2/17) Otto is happiest when he’s either operating a machine or watching one. (Maybe some day he’ll figure out what the handles are for.)

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(5/3/17) The trees across the street from our house show beautiful fall-like colors when backlit by the setting sun.

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(5/4/17) Here’s another photo that’s more about the story than the image itself. Karen notice this light bulb in a gutter on the garage when she reached up to clean it out. A little detective work revealed that a critter of some sort (aka squirrel) chewed it off our heavy-duty string of lights on the nearby pergola and deposited it in the gutter for safe-keeping — to eat later, maybe? This is either very clever or pretty stupid, depending on who you ask.  But if the perpetrator is reading this, I have one thing to say . . . “YOU are dead meat if we catch you doing this again.”

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(5/5/17) My friend Aaron Westendorp (who I’m making a documentary film about) texted me this morning and said he’d been asked to introduce author and host of “Democracy Now” radio and TV shows, Amy Goodman, (a friend of Aaron’s) when she gave a speech this evening at Augsburg College in Minneapolis.  Never wanting to miss an opportunity to film Aaron in action, I made it over there to shoot his on-stage intro of Amy and was able to get some comments from Amy about Aaron. This photo is from the book signing after the show. Amy and co-author Denis Moynihan are in the foreground and Aaron in the center of the photo.

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(5/6/17)  The Frette Family makes its usual strong showing for a roofing party at Karen’s dad’s place in Cambridge, MN.  Only one person fell off the roof, which they tell me isn’t too bad.

. . . the behinder I get: 2 more weeks of a photo-a-day

Seems like more digging doesn’t get you out of the hole (!?!), but here are two more weeks of my photo a day project, including part 2 of our Arizona trip last month.

WEEK # 16

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(4/16/17) Easter Sunday morning hike in South Mountain Park, Phoenix. Ocotillo (“buggy whip cactus”) in bloom, with downtown Phoenix in the background. This beautiful park is a quick way to get out of town, do some mountain hiking, and see an undisturbed part of the Sonoran Desert. And this is a CITY Park!!!

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(4/17/17)  Staghorn Cholla cactus in bloom in the eastern section of Saguaro National Monument near Tucson

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(4/18/17) This room, now part of a store that sells art, dates back to the 1770s.  It’s in a preserved section of downtown Tucson that was once the Spanish-built Presidio de San Augustín del Tucson. In this photo, the original adobe walls, a strip of wallpaper, and the ceiling made of Saguaro Cactus ribs are visible.

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(4/19/17) A climber dangles above the road that winds its way to the top of Mt. Lemmon, northeast of Tucson.  The 30-mile drive up from the desert floor passes through climate zones that represent the geographical equivalent of a trip from Mexico to Canada. As you near the 9,159 summit, you’re surrounded by tall Ponderosa Pines and air temperatures that are usually about 30 degrees cooler than the city of Tucson below. It’s amazing that winter skiing is possible this far south.

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(4/20/17)  Surprises while traveling are often good, but this morning’s email was not one of them.  Our friend John Doom’s wife Ghislaine wrote to us that he was in the hospital in Flagstaff, having just been diagnosed with a nasty cancer in his back.  He was awaiting surgery this afternoon to install some metal rods to support vertebrae that had been compromised. We had planned to return our rental car in Phoenix today, but decided to drive from Tucson to Flagstaff to see him, to be with Ghislaine during the surgery, take her to their home in Sedona for the night and return her to the hospital in the morning.  In this photo, John gives us a little of his trademark wackiness and positive spirit as he prepared to go under the knife. John’s 4-hour surgery went well, and he is now receiving radiation treatment.

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(4/21/17) Apache Junction, Arizona at sunset. Karen’s dad (in blue shirt) prepares to leave his winter home and head back to Minnesota.

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(4/22/17) Amarillo en Arizona

 

WEEK #17

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(4/23/17) Omer takes the wheel for the first leg of the trip home, from Apache Jct. to Payson.

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(4/25/17) Back home, back yard in bloom.

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(4/26/17) The Happy Hour group ventured downtown this week, so here’s a view of the under-construction Nicollet Mall in Minneapolis. The Mall is being completely redesigned and revamped for the first time since in was built in the ’60s.

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(4/27/17) The kids are back!

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(4/28/17) OUTLOUD! a subgroup of the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus did a song and dance parody of ONE! at this year’s MinnRoast, which is MinnPost’s annual fund-raising variety show at the Historic State Theatre in downtown Minneapolis. I got such a close-up view because I’ve been lucky enough to be asked to shoot video of this event for the past five years.

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(4/29/17) We moved in to our house when this tree was blooming last year. Now, here it is again, right on schedule — one year to the day of closing and starting to move in. Happy anniversary, tree!

Dr. John Rutherford brings the Petrified Forest alive for visitors

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Dr. John Rutherford

We met John Rutherford last month in Arizona. He’s an 87-year-old retired doctor from Oklahoma, who has figured out how to put his love of science, history, and his people skills to good use in this chapter of his life.

When I was a kid, the Petrified Forest was one of those exotic-sounding places that those of us who weren’t lucky enough to be taken on the classic Route 66 trip to California we heard about from our friends who did get to go there. I remember that Dennis the Menace went there with his family in a comic book, and I’m pretty sure Archie and Jughead did, too.

For many travelers, Petrified Forest National Park has been little more that a brief pit stop on I-40 — or Route 66 in the old days — a welcome break in the monotony of the drive across the great plains and high desert. The family could pile out, take a few pictures of the weird rocks, take a bathroom break, and push farther west. But if you take a little more time to see this place, you’ll be rewarded.

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Woody’s version of the line, “Like a woodpecker in the Petrified Forest.”

I’d been here once, over 40 years ago. We bought our senior lifetime National Park passes last September. Inspired by Ken Burns’ documentary and the recent 100th anniversary of the National Park system, vowed to see as many as possible. So, on last month’s trip to Arizona, we wanted to make sure we took some time in the Petrified Forest. We thought we’d give it a couple of hours on the way up to Canyon de Chelly, but (of course) ended up taking half a day for the 28-mile drive from the Rainbow Forest Visitor’s Center at the southern end of the park to the Painted Desert Center near the north entrance. It’s easily worth more time than that. This National Park, like every National Park or Monument I’ve ever visited: 1. doesn’t disappoint, and 2. makes you always wish you had a little more time to spend there.

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A family with young children takes a break and enjoys the view of the petrified logs at the Rainbow Forest Visitor’s Center.

At one of the overlooks, we were greeted by man in wearing a National Park Service uniform. He told us he was a volunteer interpreter and offered a free guided walking tour down into an area that had a large concentration of petrified wood pieces. We heard the word “free” and signed on immediately, as did two people from West Virginia.

Version 2Retired Doctor John Rutherford was our guide.  As we followed him down the trail into a valley full of colorful rocks, he explained to us how the volunteer program works and told us about some of other National Parks and Monuments he’s worked at since his wife passed away nearly a decade ago.  He’s had to learn a lot about each of parks he’s worked in to be able to lead tours and answer questions. His knowledge of this park and its geology and history was very impressive, as was his physical ability to hike a mile or so down into the valley and back up in the warm sun.

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John Rutherford shows us a fine example of the colored rock that was once a living tree.

John gave us a crash course on the geology of the park. He started with, “I’m going to assume you know nothing”.  (Nothing to disagree with there.)  We learned a lot from him in a short period of time. For instance, did you know that because of continental drift, (“plate tectonics”) that this part of Arizona was located about as far north of the equator as Cost Rica is now when these trees were alive?

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In some areas of the valley where John took us, the ground was completely covered with color.

As a doctor, he was, of course, a man of science, and he’s found a way to continue his pursuit of scientific knowledge — and do some teaching — for many years after his retirement. It’s obvious that this is a big part of why he’s so physically healthy and mentally sharp.

I asked him how he explains this place to visitors who, for religious reasons, believe in the “young earth” theory — that the the Universe, Earth, and all life on Earth were created by acts of God about 6,000 years ago — a far cry from the science that puts these trees at 225 million years old. He paused for a moment before saying, “Yeah, we get those people here from time to time. When they start saying that kind of thing, I just tell them that if they believe that, then in this park we don’t have much more to talk about.”

What a great answer. Thank you, Dr. John Rutherford for caring for America’s special places and teaching us about them.  You were a highlight of our trip and an inspiration to a couple of fellow senior citizens.

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Catching up from a trip to Arizona

The past month has been kind of a blur. But it reminds me of why I like to take pictures. After a two-week trip to Arizona, we came back to yard word and the usual list of catch-up things to do. When I finally sat down this morning to look at the photos from the trip, I realized how important it is for me to have some sort of reminder of each day, a visual cue to trigger other memories of people and places we visited.

So, while I haven’t posted photos since April 8, I’ve been shooting every day.  Now I’m going to “post-post” photos, a week’s worth at a time, until I get up to date.

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(4/9/17) The trees were leafing out, the golf courses had been open for a month, and spring was in the air a couple of days before we left for Arizona. This was definitely not going to be a get-away from wintery weather.

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(4/10/17) Happy birthday to Karen on a rainy evening.

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(4/11/17) After flying to Phoenix, we picked up a rental car and headed north.  Holbrook, AZ is on old Route 66. The newer chain motels and chain restaurants are on the other side of I-40, and the older businesses try to survive by playing up the kitsch and schlock (and spirit) of a bygone era.

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(4/12/17)  This guy was galloping south on U.S. 191 in the Navajo Nation near Ganado as we were going north. I really wanted a photo, so I turn the car around and drove past him a ways and stopped to wait for him to ride by.  He saw me hanging out the car window with my camera and gave me a big smile and wave. I don’t know your name, sir, but “Baa ahééh nisin, díidí” (translation: “about this, I feel grateful”).

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(4/14/17) Canyon de Chelly is one of the most under-visited of our National Parks and Monuments and one of my favorite places I’ve ever been.  It’s located in the Navajo Nation in northeastern Arizona, and probably shows more respect to the native people that any other national park.  In fact, it’s the only unit of the National Park Service that is entirely owned and operated by a Native American nation. The “White House” trail is the only place where non-residents can hike into the canyon without a Navajo guide.  The trail zigzags down the steep walls of the canyon and then follows the river to the “White House Ruins”, an abandoned ancient cliff dwelling that lies below a dizzying, overhanging, 800-ft shear cliff.

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(4/13/17) Spider Rock is a famous formation in Canyon de Chelly and is a historic and sacred place for the Navajo people. It’s a magnificent spot to watch the early evening light soak the canyon floor as the sun goes down behind you.

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(4/15/17) Elgean Joshevama, Jr. is a full-blooded Hopi from the village of Lower Moenkopi, whom I met on the street in Flagstaff.  I bought this Kachina that he had carved.  He thanked me and said he was going to buy breakfast for himself and his friend. He’s a very nice man and he makes beautiful art.

Two Sixty-Fourths

Screen Shot 2017-04-10 at 8.36.03 PMSince my last post, two people residing in this house have had their 64th birthdays.

I will not name names.

And . . . since nothing is really going on in the world (ha ha) and I’m supposed to be packing right now for a flight to Arizona, I’ll get right to the photos. Here are my photos du jour for weeks #13 and #14 of this crazy alternative-universe year we’re living in.

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(3/26/17) I love the “cactus” with lights on it.

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(3/27/17) Lake Nokomis, Minneapolis

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(3/28/17) Loggers Trail Golf Course with Steve, Jerry, and Roger

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(3/29/17) Seems like we’ve been having Easter for quite a while, already, and we’re not even getting close yet.

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(3/30/17) This is a screen shot from a video I shot today for my friend — and Principal of Eagle Heights Spanish Immersion Elementary in Eden Prairie — Hernan Moncada.  Kindergartener Jack  won a raffle to be “Principal for a Day”.  One of the stops on his tour of the district office was to meet the district Superintendent Curt Tryggestad. (Jack wouldn’t share his sucker with the Supe.)

 

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(3/31/17) Bagu Sushi — nice to have this place in the ‘hood.

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(4/1/17) Lake Harriet.

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(4/2/17) This is my photo-a-day project, so I make the rules. Karen captured my day-after-birthday breakfast at the Birchwood Cafe in the Seward neighborhood of Minneapolis.

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(4/3/17) It’s a cold, drizzly day.  Don’t fall in the river, I say.

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(4/4/17) Theeeey’re back . . . . .

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(4/5/17) St. Anthony, now part of Minneapolis, is across the river from downtown. Now nearly forgotten as an independent town, it predates the city of Minneapolis. There are still a few of the old buildings standing along Main Street, including the Pillsbury “A-Mill” in the distance.

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(4/6/17)  Peet Cedermark — defiant, proud, unashamed.

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(4/7/17) Peonies in the backyard are also defiant, proud, and unashamed.

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(4/8/17) Outdoor roller derby?

 

 

 

Springing ahead with a photo-a-day

Week #12 — and the official arrival of spring — brought us a variety of weather. But any time we’re playing golf in March, that’s an early spring around here.

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(3/19/17)  The ice is out on the Minneapolis lakes. This makes most of us happy, as long as we ignore the fact that we’re living in very unusual climatological times.

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(3/20/17) Golf !!! Roger was swinging like he’s been playing all winter.

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(3/21/17) Yes, this is a puzzling picture. Becky Ramgren is not always easy to figure out.  After talking her family into going to Florida without her, she decided to stop over to “check out” our house. For some reason, she took an interest in these small salt and pepper shakers. And here’s the really odd thing — we can’t find them now.

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(3/22/17) This is the rather disturbing view out the window of Eric the Red, a bar across the street from the new Vikings’s Stadium. I felt like we were going to be pillaged and/or plundered at any moment. When the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome was across the street, this place was called Hubert’s, and it seemed a lot safer.

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(3/23/17) Doug Westendorp’s cut paper design warms up the house on a cold, wet day.  (See my previous post for more about Doug’s art.)

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(3/24/17) It’s raining eggs !!! (Hallelujah!)

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(3/25/17)  The stately Calhoun Beach Club, on the north shore of Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis, lends an air of sophistication to the neighborhood. Construction began on this building in 1928, but was paused when the depression began, and it wasn’t completed until after WWII. It’s always been a multi-use facility, now housing luxury apartments, drinking, dining, and an athletic club. Twin Cities baby-boomers will remember it as the home of WTCN-TV, with it’s local kids shows such as “Lunch with Casey” and the always-popular All-Star Wrestling (yes, they broadcast the wrestling matches from here!) Oh, and don’t forget about Matinee Movie with Mel Jass.

Doug Westendorp – visual musings

My friend Doug Westendorp is having an art sale and book launch on Saturday, April 1st. He has compiled some of the drawings he’s done over the past few months into a coloring book. He’ll also have some of his other work available.

It’s hard to describe the dream-like images in the coloring book. An odd combination of adjectives comes to mind, such as whimsical, lonely, peaceful, and upsetting. If that doesn’t make any sense, it’s because these drawings are perhaps better contemplated than discussed. Each one is a meditation, asking more questions than it answers.

Here are some examples from this series of drawings — both uncolored and colored — by Doug.

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Doug has been making art for many years, as well as teaching visual arts at the college level. He’s also a writer and a poet. You might remember him from my previous post about his son, Aaron, and the documentary film I’m making about him.  Oh, and by the way, he’s also a musician, and some of his music will be in the film.

Artists, of course, work in different ways.  Doug tends to find a theme and latch on to it for a while, until he either exhausts his energy for it or is inspired to move to something else. Since getting to know Doug over the past few years, we’ve acquired pieces from a couple of his different periods of work.

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If you’re interested in owning something beautiful, made by a local artist (who also happens to be a great guy), here’s the info for Doug’s sale next weekend.  If you’re reading this after the April 1st show, here’s Doug’s website. He’ll be glad to meet you at his studio in Minneapolis if you’d like to see more of his work.

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This cut paper design from last year hangs in our dining room.

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Still life by Doug is in the eating area of the kitchen.

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Doug with granddaughter Ramona Rae and daughter Jill at a show of his work last summer.