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Update: A sad day here on West Avenue. Steiner had stopped eating and drinking, and everything was shutting down, she was listless for two days, and clearly not having much of a life. So yesterday we took dear old Steiner to the vet to be put down, and brought her back and planted her in the back yard under a new Hosta. Steiner is dead — long live Steiner!
Dear ol’ Steiner has lost a lot of weight, and her intake and output is way down. Today she didn’t even want to eat chicken bits or get up to say “Good Morning” to her friend Kady. She’s also not hanging around in the kitchen asking for treats, and for a while was quietly huddled in a corner near the fridge. She’s resting on a pillow near a window… I wish we had a southern window where she could lay in the sun, it would probably feel good on her old bones. She’s at least 14 I think, I inherited her around 2001? 2002? Time for some medicinal catnip!
I just don’t know how Vivi does it. She was up past midnight at a sleepover, then awake at seven. After a mammoth post-lunch meltdown, we went for a three-hour hike slash creek stomp at a cool little park south of town. I have been basically catatonic since dinner, but she somehow had the energy to do this in her pajamas:
Today Alan got to stake the locations for the new trees, after the City Forester had come by to talk about options and locations. We’re getting four, three to replace the three we’ve lost, and one to get a head start on the BIG, MASSIVE one that will come out when the redo Sturdevant. Hate to lose it but they say no way, it’s up so high over the curb, the sidewalk is coming up. But this tree is at least twice the height of the house, as is the one across the street, probably planted way back in the 1920s when they built our house and the one across the street. Do NOT want to lose it. Oh well. As Alan says, we’ll be in the nursing home before they look like anything.
And the Great Wall? It’s coming together, they poured the first couple panels last week and the forms came off, and today they’re pouring the second group of panels:
And here they are pouring the concrete:
Tree branches swaying slightly
Leaves whispering to one another
Cornfield already asleep
Clouds have painted the sky a deep blue
Grass admiring the masterpiece
Everything ignoring the headlights
From cars slicing through the
Everything ushering everything else
To fall asleep
It passes quickly
But you experience every minute of it
Opposite of space
In space you feel slow
There is no movement
That you can feel
The longest thing possible
But it is there
You see it
Wispy but clear
It is there
It guides you
It will lead you
To those bright dots
It already led you this far
Light flashes in your eyes
Bats circling above
Clear your mind
It is nothing
But it still leaps in front of
Your eyes to wake you
But you smile
Because it is still nothing
When I think back over the past three months–glad that I will not be assigned an essay!–I still I wonder just what I did with my summer vacation, and how I will use my time this fall. As I review June, July, and August, I see how much did happen, though not always what I imagined would occur.Two themes, celebrations with friends and literary preoccupations dominated. Here is a long summary, (kind of a flip book of pictures), of those lazy but oddly hectic months–they made for a lovely summer, yet I am eager for the next adventure of autumn.
First, Julia left for Maine, traveling with friends, mostly on the train for her third trip to the Darling Marine Center near Damariscotta.
The day after her departure, Tim and I embarked on a home improvement venture: repainting the living room and dining room. From “Lapis Lazuli” in the north-facing dining room and “Alice Blue” in the living room, these spaces are now united in color: a grey-green “Horizon” on the walls and a pale purple “Lavendar Whisper” on the ceilings, the same as in my office upstairs. We thought two weeks of effort (including a week of vacation for Tim) would be ample, but it was a full month of effort to see it through. We love the results, though–still haven’t put up any pictures, because we’re still enjoying the serenity of fresh paint.
Even the primer made a dramatic difference! (Accent flowers from the Corrine and Elvin Heiberg cheered us on amid the disruption.)
Peanut tried to help lend a paw, but it was renting scaffolding that truly made a difference. Julia returned at the end of the month and held an early birthday party for herself so all her friends could attend.
Meanwhile, I took lots of photos in June, worked on a quilt, culled twelve bags of books to give away, wrote a dozen poems, and began planning a short story based on a memory of my father’s mother, and launched into study of the craft of fiction with another writer (using Janet Burroway’s book called Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft). The novel drafts, however, languished, and I took a break from sending out poems to journals, though I did submit my book-length collection, Reading the Bones, to several contests.
July began with “Zhivago Fest”. My friend, Ann, and I have for several years read ahead for a summer visit and discussion. Each year, we choose a new topic. This year, at my request, we planned a visit around a remedial read for me: Boris Pasternak’s novel, Dr. Zhivago. I have learned a little about Russian literature in the past few years, and I knew of Pasternak’s reputation. I also knew that I would not be able to learn Russian in order to enjoy the poems that made his reputation; on the other hand, all I knew was the blockbuster movie from the 1960s. Sad to say, for me Omar Sharif was Yuri Zhivago. Thanks to Ann’s willingness to keep me company, I have now a little better sense of the book behind the blockbuster. In addition, we worked in some related activities for fun.
Here is a photo Ann took of me in front of the Museum of Russian Art in Minneapolis. We also went to Moscow on the Hill, a restaurant in St. Paul, to sample to borscht, watched two film versions of the story, read some translations of the poetry,listened to lectures and read some criticism of Pasternak’s work, and made collages to commemorate the year-long enterprise.
Then I turned from Pasternak, briefly, to Dostoevsky. In preparation for a two-session online seminar with Julia Denne through www.bytheonionsea.com, I read his novella Notes from Underground. Very glad I was to have read this work and to have had a teacher to supply context.
August was a month of celebrations, on the road and at home, beginning and ending with birthdays. First, we hosted a mystery destination picnic for a friend.
The destination was Red Wing, Minnesota. Encouraged by the example of our culinarily superior neighbors, the Noers, who introduced us to the magic of Julia Child’s Queen of Sheba chocolate cake, I tried my hand at it. Both the recipe and the YouTube video were available for free online, confirming my wonder at the magic of the Internet.
Then Tim and I celebrated our anniversary with a road trip. We first went to Winona’s Great River Shakespeare Festival for the reading of the 2014 winning sonnets in the Maria W. Faust Sonnet Contest. They did not disappoint! Then we had lunch at the restaurant attached to the Blue Heron Book Store in Winona before crossing the Mississippi to idle our way up the western Wisconsin side. I understand why it is renowned as the most beautiful drive in the country–it is definitely a contender.
First we stopped in Pepin,
Then we stopped at the Maiden Rock Winery and Cidery and a wonderfully curated store called A Cultural Cloth that brings artisans and beautifully made hand-crafted items from all over the world to Maiden Rock. Finally, we had a splendid dinner at the unpretentious Chef Shack Restaurant in Bay City, where the cuisine outshines most of the upscale Twin Cities offerings.
Later in the summer, we feasted with our friends the Dennes. I was glad to have had help with making a Pavlova dessert, and old favorite from the middle school years I spent in Australia. Back then, you couldn’t attend a summer “barbie” (bar-be-que) or open a women’s magazine without encountering a “pav”, so for me this fruit-and-meringue treat was a blast from the past.
We were lucky that the Dennes could stay for several days. We even got to pitch a tent for the girls, make a first visit to Garrison Keillor’s book store in St. Paul (superlative poetry section), and see the “Marks of Genius” exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.
August wouldn’t be complete without the joyous capstone event for the Northfield Sidewalk Poetry project.
We ended the month with two more events, a lunch with three students from Doshisha University in Japan (followed, the next week, with a lovely dinner made by the Japanese students at Carleton)
and, to cap everything off, a “Sundae Party” on Sunday, August 31, which was our friend, LaNelle Olson’s 85th birthday.
Just a week or so into September, the summer seems very far away. As I write this, we’re socked in with a long forecast of chilly rain, and Julia is well launched into her fall activities. Projects that languished a bit for me in late summer are now beckoning, and will be the subjects of later posts–memorizing poems, finishing that star quilt–and I have begun a new personal endeavor: writing my autobiography.
As I conclude this review, I wonder what the summer was like for you, so if there is a highlight you’d like to share, please post a comment or drop me a line.
My review essay on Nicola Griffith's novel Hild is up now in the September/October 2014 issue of The Critical Flame.
Last night we went for another picnic, this time near home, at Memorial Bluff. They’ve spent a lot of time, money, and effort to rehab the park, and at the Upper Stone Quarry, have put in the most amazing stone picnic tables and benches, HUGE hunks of rock. The trail near our old house on 8th is now dubbed the “Cow Path,” apparently they regularly herded cows up to the top to graze!
We went to the Upper Quarry, and again picked the table with the view:
Yes, it’s got the “best view,” but look at this! Who would put a picnic table directly under a transmission line, with the upfront close and personal view of this transmission tower? What were they thinking? Not everyone has an affinity for transmission!!!
But some do — we were joined by two flapping and calling birds, hawks or immature eagles, who hung out on top of the structure objecting to our presence. Lighten up, birds!
Alan and I were invited to attend a climate change bicycle tour meeting, joined/hosted by Red Wing locals Mayor Dan Bender, and Evan Brown, cook extraordinaire (see his blog, Cooking for the Future) and member of the Sustainability Commission, so we went. What’s a climate change bicycle tour meeting? Well, they’re on tour, and there have been other meetings as a part of this tour, in Lakeville, Northfield, Winona, and here in Red Wing, other locations perhaps? I think there were five.
Participating organizations were:
When I first heard about this, what came to mind was Neil Ritchie & the solar bike tour back in 2004, they were in Northfield in September, 2004, and many other locations in SD, IA, and MN, raising awareness about renewable energy and urging people to contact their legislators!
This was similar but slightly different, focused on getting word out about climate change. Hopefully, it raised awareness and got Red Wing residents interested in the doings of Red Wing’s Sustainability Commission. The Sustainability Commission played a large role in getting the City’s solar project going. It’s a treat to go to City Hall, which we did yesterday to attend the West Avenue Construction meeting, and see the city vehicles parked under the solar array canopy. LOVE IT!! And there’s additional solar on the roof of the fire station and at the city’s Public Works vehicle parking lot. Yes, PUBLIC WORKS!
We had to do the “go around the circle” thing, and I noted “garbage” (the loud and stinky incinerator right behind me), “transmission” (directly overhead), and “nuclear” just up wind and upriver in the city limits, and that RES must be tied to shutting down coal.
Here’s that transmission line, and it seems to have been redone recently, look at that beautiful, decorative cortend steel:
Alan raised the incinerator issues he’s been working on, that the City of Red Wing burner has been shut down, and it was clear that they’d not really thought about incineration and the contribution of burning to CO2 generation/climate change. In discussing garbage and shutting down the incinerator, “zero waste” was not part of their vocabulary, and instead the binary response was “well, where will we put it?”
Here’s a photo as we were leaving of that former coal plant, now garbage plant, the one David Sparby and an IRP said would be shut down — ask Ramsey and Washington Counties about that:
Their handouts didn’t note shutdown of incinerators or coal plants:
Promote a just transition to clean energy to stop the progression of climate change.
Resist the aggressive expansion of extreme fossil fuel extraction, including tar sands, that threatens life itself.
Nothing about shutting down coal. ??? Nothing about decreasing burning. But again, there’s that insidious link that “clean energy = less CO2″ which we know isn’t true. Now that we have the electric market set up, and the transmission infrastructure in place to ship all that excess generation from the Dakotas through Minnesota eastward, they won’t be shutting it down anytime soon. Now that Sherco 3 is up and running after a year and a half off-line, we lost that opportunity to keep the biggest coal plant in Minnesota shuttered.
If you’re looking for reduction of CO2, and Renewable Energy Standards won’t do anything towards that goal unless it’s explicitly linked. RES MUST BE LINKED TO SHUTDOWN OF COAL. Otherwise, it’s just adding “renewable” generation on top of a surplus, and they can sell that surplus coal generation now that they’ve got the transmission to do it.
This past summer held pleasant surprises: many delights as well as a few intensely blue moments…but this morning I awoke to a peach-colored sky…
…and was able to observe, over several moments, the anatomy of a rainbow…
…as it became a double rainbow to the south…and culminated in a double heart, one golden, one tiny shape of clear air, to the north…
…and so I am heartened as I begin a new season of regular Wednesday posts (most Wednesdays, some longer, some shorter, on a variety of topics) that I will continue to find something that interests me to share with you.
For now, thanks for joining me again! More details of summer delights past and autumn plans to come soon! I truly hope that your own summer leaves you washed in warm and pleasant memories, and that fall carries you forward into new adventures and accomplishments!
West Avenue construction update:
Those huge fish ladders are done — thought I’d posted this but can’t find it! Today some poor delivery guys were dropping off a mattress to some house up on Sturtevant, maybe the new neighbors up the block at the top of that hill, and the were CARRYING THEM down from somewhere up the top of West, down around our house, and back up the hill on Sturtevant. Lucky for them it was just a twin and box spring!
Anyway, now that the fish ladders are set, they’re building the walls and are almost done with that now:
August 25, 2014, the upper fish ladders and beginning of the walls:
And these from August 13, 2014:
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission is winding up its rulemaking on the Certificate of Need (Minn. R. Ch. 7849) and Siting/Routing (Minn. R. Ch. 7850) chapters. My clients Goodhue Wind Truth and North Route Group have been participating all along, and their experience with the Certificate of Need and Routing/Siting process has helped inform this record and we sure hope leads to more sensible and workable rules, AND increased public participation.
Now is the time to download and make your comments on what should be included, what’s included that’s important and needs to go forward, and what needs to be reworded.
Send Comments to:
- and/or post to the Rulemaking Docket. To do that go HERE to the eDocket Filing Page, register if you’re not registered (it’s easy and almost instant), and post to Docket 12-1246.
It’s highly likely that the LAST meeting of the PUC’s Rulemaking Advisory Committee will be September 24, 2014 (9:30 a.m. at the PUC, in the basement).
A few things that need work:
- Ch. 7849 & 7850: Need language mirroring statutory language regarding testimony by members of the public UNDER OATH (ALJs have refused to offer people opportunity to testify under oath, and PUC has stated that it makes a difference, “but were those statements made under oath” and if not, less weight.
- Ch. 7849: Advisory Task Forces need language of statute, and membership not limited to “local units of government.”
- Ch. 7849 & 7850: Transcripts available online — need to address this in rules and reporter contracts.
- Ch. 7849: Scoping and Alternatives — compare with Ch. 7850. Similar process?
- Ch. 7849.1450: When is it Commerce EER & DER
- Ch. 7849 & 7850 – timing should be similar for completeness review, etc.
- Ch. 7850: Public Meeting separate from Scoping Meeting (Public Meeting is to disseminate information, Scoping Meeting is for intake).
- Ch. 7850: Power Plant Siting Act includes “Buy the Farm.” Need rules regarding Buy the Farm.
Now is the time to review the drafts, above, and send in Comments. There may be, I hope there are, revisions released prior to the next meeting, but usually it happens just before, and there’s no time. So here’s where we are now, and Comments would be helpful.
In the past month or so, I’ve managed to go riding with guys 25-40 years younger than me. Yeah, that’s a bit of bragging as they’re all very good riders and I’m able to more or less keep up with them, which makes me feel younger.
But putting that ego stuff aside, it’s one of the things I really like about mountain biking as a geezer: I get to meet and participate in a recreational activity with a younger crowd that I don’t normally have much contact with.
July 27: John Gaddo, sessioning in the skills park at Lebanon Hills:
Aug 17: Chris Knight, sessioning the technical stuff in the XX loops at Lebanon Hills:
Aug 19: David Starrs, sessioning the technical stuff in the XX loops at Lebanon Hills
Aug 24: Marty Larson, doing two fast loops of the smooth, flowy singletrack at Carver Lake Park:
Aug 26: Miguel Masberg, doing a fast loop with some sessioning at Murphy-Hanrehan:
GET IT THROUGH YOUR THICK SKULL
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So do it. Get it through your Thick Skull.
She’s gone… 232,000 miles, still full of life until the idiot down the block ran into the driver’s door and front quarter panel, insurance company totalled it out, and though I kept it, it wasn’t worth it to fix her, and we limped along for a while… She’s gone, and nothin’s gonna bring her back.
As a young parent I remember watching in awe as more seasoned friends effortlessly dropped off their children for preschool. Little did I know that many preparations had been done “behind the scenes” to make the event seem so effortless. Through much experience I now know that a child’s successful arrival for school rates right up there with “you get what you plan for.” And it is definitely worth doing well because the child’s arrival defines the child’s day. Here are the ingredients for a successful arrival:
The night before:
- provide a nutritious evening meal free of harmful additives (videos, television, cell phones, computers …) accompanied by interested and interesting family members
- arrange the selection of next day’s clothing for easy access
- gather and place all necessary items the child will need for school in one prepared place that is used consistently (tote bag, lunch box, jacket, any notes or correspondence, a book to read while waiting in arrival line …)
- provide a soothing, unhurried bedtime preparation (bath, story-time, lights out …)
- ensure ample, undisturbed sleep for child and self
The next day:
- arise early enough to greet your child with genuine warmth
- assist only as needed as child dresses for school (no switching outfits, stick to the plan!)
- provide ample time for routine chores (making bed, grooming, assembling lunch …)
- provide a nutritious breakfast free of harmful additives (video, television, cell phone, computers, newspapers, magazines …) yet injected with authentic camaraderie (no eating in the car en route)
- provide ample time for your child to collect items from the pre-arranged storage space, all assembled neatly in appropriate containers (totes, lunchboxes …)
- provide ample time for child to put on outer wraps, outdoor shoes, and assist only as needed – the key is AMPLE TIME
- have a signal for load up time that is consistent and stick to it (“Wagons ho!” “Get ‘em up! Move ‘em out!”) Be sure your child knows that he is expected to be ready. Most schools will accept children in pajamas!
- have everyone assemble at a pre-designated place, make a quick survey to note that all is in readiness, lock up and load up
- A VERY IMPORTANT STEP: provide plenty of travel time for unhurried, unharrassed, safe travel
- arrive on time! You are not only getting to school on time, you are building awareness in your child of responsibility, reliability and respect for her school community and its expectations. You are also providing the tone for the child’s entire school day.
- pull into the appropriate line of cars, settle back, and wait patiently. Perhaps read quietly from the book you so wisely planned for the night before, or have quiet conversation about what you see about you.
- keep your child seated and belted in until assisted to leave the car
- say your brief goodbye to your child before the assistant opens the car door. Make it upbeat and cheerful – and very brief. Prolonged goodbyes and hand- holding serve to increase the child’s anxiety about separating from you. A brief, uplifting goodbye says, “I have every confidence in you and your school. You will have a fine day!” Children are amazingly intuitive about our true feelings.
- recognize that, if you have done all of the afore-mentioned items, the remainder of arrival is the work of the assistant, the teacher and the child
- allow the assistant to accept your child, to include assisting her from her seat as necessary
- as soon as the assistant and child are safely clear of the car, drive away with complete confidence that you have worked hard to create an arrival that will start your child’s day off beautifully
- repeat daily because, as everyone knows (parent as well as educator), repetition breeds perfection