Friday, December 17, 2010


I have put my last payment for student loans associated with my PhD into the e-pay account. As soon as the credit union can write the check, I'm done with the loans! It 's a very good feeling to be done with this. But I'm glad I did it, for having the PhD rather changed my life and gave me lots of adventures.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Last Day Adventures

I went to bed really tired on Monday evening after the office party here. It was held downstairs in the party room, but still turned out to be a good bit of work for me beyond writing the check to use the room. Do you have --- four serving spoons, after that trip up to my apartment and back -- Do you have a creamer and sugar bowl -- after that trip -- do you have a serving bowl we can use? And of course, that wasn't the end of the list -- and took care of the trash runs and taking boxes down to recycling, etc.

I woke up with sunshine on Tuesday morning thinking it was about 7 AM., but in this season of the year, sunrise is more like 8 AM. The buildings across on the bluff were a gorgeous color.

I started in on writing more questions for a quiz for courses next semester. When one does online courses, everything has to be done the first day of the classes, or for the last time this coming semester, one week before the start of classes.

I happened to look out the window and saw the snow geyser.
Snow was being cleared and it was being dumped over the bluff down on the railroad tracks. Rather dramatic. By the way the buildings across the way are a convent and hospice for persons without insurance coverage operated by the Little Sisters of the Poor. Later in the day I saw the snow plow on the railroad tracks. Don't think I've ever seen that before.

In the afternoon I went to campus for a a bit of a surprise farewell party for a colleague who is taking early retirement. Then I wandered back to my neighborhood to meet a student at a nearby coffee shop. This appointment I had obviously made before knowing I was going to a surprise farewell party. I met the student and then tried to start back to campus to get a bus to the graduation ceremony.  It took me nearly 30 minutes to go four blocks. Finally figured out the slow down was due to a car illegally parked which meant that 2 lanes of traffic had to squeeze into one lane made even more narrow than usual by the huge piles of snow along the street.

I knew I'd never make the bus so turned off as soon as I could and decided to drive to the Minneapolis Convention Center. I knew better than to try the freeway. I was doing well on side streets. Then all of a sudden on River Road while heading north I found myself two seconds later heading south. I couldn't believe in that skid that I'd not hit anything. There was not another car around, no mailbox, nothing. I was really lucky.

It took me about 70 minutes to drive 10 miles. I had the job of carrying the college banner in the graduate procession so it would be real obvious if I wasn't there. Ended up being seated way off to the right so far I couldn't really even see the stage. But one good thing-- the time the parking ramp attendants were collecting money when people arrive, so we didn't have the one hour post-graduation slow down while everyone paid to get out. The trip home was quick and uneventful. (I've only done the 180 skid one other time and hope it never happens again. It is a long two seconds while it's happening.)

Today I bestirred my body to go do some shopping. A store that I like had a good sale going and I really wanted a new winter coat. Found one for $30.00 -- well actually $29.97 --  marked down from $120! While I was trying on coats, a woman stopped and told me the color was wonderful for me. That gift from the universe rather evened out some of the stress from yesterday.

Plenty of work still left on my lists to do during the break. People think faculty/teachers don't work, but we do -- it really feels like it never ends. I relate to about 70 students next semester, and in today's world, that means relate 24/7.

Monday, December 13, 2010

It Was Big!

The snow fall over the weekend now ranks as the 5th largest snow storm ever and the largest one for December. My daughter and kids didn't realize school was called off. My granddaughter waited for a bus a long time and then went back home and called me. Her mom had gone to work at a school and taken her brother to his school. I tried to get my granddaughter to spend the day with me, but after it took me nearly an hour to drive one mile, I turned around and came back home. The problem was that the downtown streets are down to one lane and can carry much less traffic. We couldn't get a turn off left from Shepard Road because the people who could turn right kept the uphill lane totally clogged up. I've learned in future after storms to try a different route.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Great Dig Out

The snow has ended, and yes, it's the biggest snow fall at one time since 1991, so there are great many in Minnesota who have never seen anything like this. The snow falls range across the Metro area from 15 - 20 inches depending upon one's location.

The Vikings were to play the Giants today, but the New York team got diverted to the Kansas City airport. The game was re-scheduled for Monday evening to give them time for travel. However, last night the roof on the MetroDome collapsed due to the weight of the snow. This is the first time that has happened since the early 1980s. So the game will be on Monday, but in Detroit.

Last evening the snow emergency started and our area did get plowing on the north-south streets as expected. That doesn't help this area much because the north-south streets are only one block long. Everything here runs on east-west streets, which are plowed secondly.In the afternoon plows came to do the east-west street, and we got cleaned up very well.

Cars on east-west streets have to be moved today. This photo shows just how much fun this is. I saw something truly amazing. One guy waited until most everyone had moved their cars, and then managed to get his car out of drifted snowbank and moved away using only his hands and feet to dig, supplemented by a window brush. He wasn't the only one who had only a window brush as a tool. I expect there will be a few shoppers for snow shovels in the next few days.

About once a week the 911 folks show up to go to the building at the end of the street. They appeared this morning and I wondered what they would do. Well, the first rule obviously is: "Don't get the ambulance stuck." The ambulance was left on the corner and the EMS personnel walked down the street.

This photo was taken about 9 AM this morning. That is morning sun shining between the buildings.

Walked down to the mailbox and looked out the back. There are some snow drifts out there about 4 feet high from the wind blowing the snow across the river. The building is the first thing to stop the snow and it really piled up. Looks like a good old-fashioned winter!

Updates: All three services of my church were canceled because the streets in the are were not plowed.  I can't ever remember that happening before. And St. Paul declared a 2nd day of snow emergency so that plows can go over all the streets again and try to remove snow in places the cars were not cleared simply because so many were stuck and not yet moved. I've not been out of the house for two days and won't be tomorrow either since everyone from work is to come here for a party honoring our retiring Dean. From what I've read the downtown area must be a mess with traffic down to one lane on many streets until greater snow removal can occur.

Now at 11 PM the plows are back out the door here trying to clean up some of the mess.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Snow Adventure

Is the above a black and white photo? No, but it's a very good representative of our black and white world today -- mostly white. The forecasts began yesterday for the worst snowstorm we have had since the infamous Halloween snow storm of 1991. All my extended family was up the hill last evening at Xcel Center enjoying Disney on Ice. They all got back to my younger daughter's apartment without any difficulty. I woke up at 3:30 AM and thought if this was a storm it didn't amount to what the forecast was. I went back to bed about 4 AM and when I awoke again at 10 AM the scene out my bedroom window was as if there was steam or clouds going by. The snow was so fine that it looked like a fog.

The Amtrak passenger train went by about 12:30 PM (it is supposed to go a few minutes after 8 AM). The engine and cars are a silver gray color and the train could hardly be seen through the snow in the air.

All day I've been watching cars getting stuck in the streets in front of the building. I'm wondering what part of "don't drive" people didn't understand.

I was fairly astonished to see we had mail delivery today, but felt so bad that someone struggled so much to deliver something that I moved from my mail box directly to the recycling box in the mail room. 

Well, the dig out begins tonight at 9 PM when the snow emergency kicks in. This is when I'm very glad to not only have a garage, but also to have an underground garage.

Update: About 7 PM I got an e-mail announcing that morning church services are canceled tomorrow.
Update #2 -- Official snowfall for Saint Paul from this storm is 15.2 inches. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


I have just read the news that Elizabeth Edwards has died. When John Edwards was running for Vice-President, one of my students e-mailed me and asked me to come to a rally because she was introducing John Edwards and wanted others to share this honor with her. Later she sent me a photo of she with Elizabeth Edwards with whom she spent most of the day. It was about 10 days after that when the first news came about Elizabeth's cancer. I see that smiling face in the photo and know the secret she was carrying at that time. Losing her is a loss for our country.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Parking Adventure

Today I picked up Dorota at her hotel and we went to Maplewood Mall, arriving about 9:45 or so. It was very easy at that time to find a place to park, close to a door. We agreed to meet at the door we entered at 1:00 PM. I got back about 12:45 and decided to take my packages to the car and get our coats that we had left in the car, so that they could warm up a bit. Much to my surprise, when I got to the car, there was one car in front of me, one car behind me, and one car on each side. The car behind was the problem, having parked behind me in what was really an aisle drive. I went back in to the mall and asked to have security called. After about 25 minutes we had it sorted out that there was nothing to do but wait until someone moved. The mall security said he would watch carefully. I gave him my cell phone number, and we decided to go to the food court and get some lunch since it was now about 1:30. When we were done, still no call. I said, "Let's give it 15 more minutes, " so Dorota went to check out a couple more stores. We decided to walk back and then that's when the phone rang with the news that one car had moved so I could get out.

I've surely never had anything like this happen before. Dorota later said it was funny,and I'm very glad she was good- hearted about it. Well she is going home with a new winter coat that she might not have found had we not been stranded for awhile.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Winter Arrives #2

We are in the midst of what the meteorologists around here call an Alberta Clipper. This is a fast-moving, very dry snowfall followed by cold weather. I'm so very glad I have only a 2 mile commute home from work on a day like this, and that none of that drive is on a freeway!
From my third-floor vantage point the snowfall is quite beautiful, particularly when I have an underground garage and no responsibility for shoveling the sidewalks.

I took the recycling down and then stopped at the mail room. I noticed from there the view out into the back area.

From my living room I look across the road and railroad tracks to the bluff wall. I always enjoy seeing the designs the snow makes in the blocks of the retaining wall.
Just another December day or rather night in Minnesota!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Global Volunteers Night

After the Global Volunteers symposium last year, I was asked to help put together a similar event again when the country managers are all in Minnesota. Last night was the night. We began to worry when the weather turned to rain and snow, making driving a bit more challenging than usual. But we ended up with a full room.

During our planning we came to the idea of doing name tags with symbols indicating where people may have volunteered. That made me think we needed someone to staff a registration table, so I recruited my granddaughter.
She did a great job. I am very proud of her.

We ended up with a packed room, full of great conversation. As the program moderator, I found it quite a task to shut down all the talking so the program could start. Awards were presented to volunteers who have done ten or more programs. Awards and recognition was also given to volunteer team leaders who have led many teams. Two of them have led at least 60 teams, and one said he was now at an even 50!

The country managers from Romania, the Cook Islands, and Peru gave presentations about their programs. These presentations really bring alive the programs in a way one can't get from the description on the web site.

Two local bake shops were gracious to donate some treats. What a wonderful night.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving Adventures and Misadventures

I will remember this Thanksgiving as the one in which many things broke! I noticed my car was driving funny, and noticed while it was parked on Tuesday before Thanksgiving that it looked like a tire was getting very flat. What to do? On Wednesday morning I got up at 6 AM and was at my service center at 7 AM. It turned out that that two tires had bead leaks and basically needed also to be replaced. I got them both temporarily fixed and came home to work and try to get ready for Thanksgiving. I decided to put together a salad, composed of cranberries and pineapple with some gelatin to hold it all together. It never made to the refrigerator; instead it went crashing down on the floor.
As can be seen, I had quite a mess. And the book on the floor? It is a library book, rather damaged, and that cost me $27.00 yesterday.

I cleaned up the floor the best I could and used some wet Swifters to clean up the floor more. Then I wandered out into a snow storm to pick up my older daughter and then deliver clean laundry back to my other daughter's family. I was glad to get home and glad to have tires in better shape for driving on such roads.

I came home and got out the scrub bucket and cleaned up the floor more. Cleaning up this mess is rather like cleaning up Easter grass. It ends up everywhere. I still keep seeing drops of this mess on places like cupboards. Since I had made a half recipe of the salad, I did it again. Also put together a strata for breakfast the next morning. Well, that didn't work either.

Up early on Thanksgiving morning to make pies and other preparations for a Thanksgiving meal. Thankfully the weather was much better than forecast.

I took the strata out of the refrigerator and noticed the eggs had leaked out of the pan into the salad. So that salad went into the garbage, too.

We had a nice breakfast and then started cooking the turkey. Pictures, too. No matter what we did we never got every one in the picture at the same time. This one shows my grandchildren and older daughter with me. My younger daughter got squeezed out of the image.

We enjoyed the Macy's parade on TV. This is Nilima enjoying the Sponge Bob balloon, her current TV interest.
On Friday I took my older daughter to meet the rest of the family to go shopping. I came home for a bit and then took off for the Black Friday service at my church. I got distracted by the low sunlight coming in a garage window and took the turn too short and scraped up a fender on my car on a post. And of course, this was on the side that had never before been hit. (The driver side has been hit by other people two times; this is the first bang-o I've put into the car.)

Elena had a great shopping trip, home with a new winter coat, which she definitely needed.

We settled down on Saturday to watch the Minnesota-Iowa football game, and it didn't turn out right. I may live in Minnesota, but I'm a University of Iowa graduate. Why did Minnesota have to pick this game to be the first one this season to win at home?

Somewhere along here the dishwasher began to misbehave. The sound totally changed, and I was having problems getting the water to drain out. Today we finally verified that the pump is not working. Sometime in the next two days this is supposed to be repaired. So we had a lovely family day, but oh, how many things decided to break!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Thinking about Values

This morning before sunrise I was out and about to a breakfast meeting event called Immigration Matters. This was sponsored by ECHO, a service here in the Minnesota to provide Emergency and Community Health Outreach to our immigrant and refugee populations. No other place in the United States has such a service. One immigrant said, "We didn't know what winter flu was anymore than we knew winter tires are." We really thought about the vitality of the new people in our state and how Minnesota is  better place because of the new Americans we have.

This event was hosted by the Wilder Foundation, a foundation that works in social service areas such as mental health treatment, residential homes for emotionally disturbed children, and other usually unmet needs in communities. As the sun lighted the outdoor courtyard I could see the words on the wall of the nearby parking ramp.

A man sitting beside me, himself an immigrant, spoke with me after the formal program and said one of the best things of Minnesota is that this is place where people care about relationships, not just statistics. I was quite surprised at this observation and grateful that he shared it with me.

I found this beautiful scene outdoors as I left to return home.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Snow Emergency

Oh, I was wrong. There is a snow emergency and I'm watching cars getting tickets and being towed out. To get the car back costs about $200! I don't think people expected a snow emergency with want we have. However, it is a very wet snow and getting it off the streets is a good idea, for soon it will freeze in the ruts. Thus plowing now means we don't have to drive on it until March.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Winter Arrives

Summer has ended in Minnesota. This morning I awoke to seeing snow out the window. The snow is one of those very wet and messy kind. It was nice to be able to stay at home all day and watch it out the window.
I tried to convince myself it would be good to get outside and walk for a bit. Walking was slow, it was hard to pull one's foot out of the snow for each step.
So on Wednesday I went for a walk quite comfortably in my shirt sleeves and on Saturday by the same area I find this!

Oh well, let's celebrate the first 12 days of November! Winter was inevitable.
And update: The first snow plow was out on the nearby street at 10 PM this evening. If one has to live in snow, Minnesota is the best place, and Saint Paul is even better. A snow fall is cleared in 24 hours from the start of the snow emergency. This snow fall didn't generate that, and emergency is perhaps an over-rated word. It means in this case a time when parking is restricted on streets until they are plowed. The news media will announce a snow emergency.  And as I write I see plows clearing the nearby 4 lane road that is pictured in the first photo above. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Summer in November

is quite an adventure.

Yesterday, November 10, I went out for a walk at lunch time in my shirt sleeves. Quite amazing for November. The dandelions must find it amazing too.

This week work in being done on the river bank. There is a very damaged cement layer over the river bank that is being pulled off and replaced with natural limestone. It is real fun to walk out the door and see all this.

I took the above photo about 4 PM when the fall light helps to create the most amazing reflections in the water.
Meanwhile traffic continues on the river. While the engine boat pushes the barges, it is still called a tow. There are two tows down at the Lower Landing waiting for their loads. (I live at what used to be the Upper Landing.). Lower Landing is about 1 mile down river.

This will all come to an end probably this weekend when the snow showers arrive, but it surely is fun while it lasts!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Beautiful Adventures

We are having a lovely start to November, apparently due to the lack of snow in Canada, so the air flowing south is warmer than usual. I took a walk about 4 PM yesterday along the river and got some lovely views.

I was entranced by the different colors one could see on the river surface.

And looking east what a great reflective scene.

This is the Wabasha Bridge. Much of the summer flags fly from the posts on the bridge, but they've been put away now for the winter. But what a view yesterday!! Beyond the bridge one can see the span for the Robert Street Bridge.

The mirror image of the river boats is a lovely view too.

The days are going too quickly. I have so much work to do and the week just whizzes by and the list is still long. Well, the only thing I can think is that working hard for the next six weeks makes everything after that a down hill run, and makes the next academic year easier, too.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wise Words -- We Can Survive New Coke

Everyone has a lot to say about the election results. One of the best things I read on Facebook today was to keep working for social, racial, and economic justice. And I like this from Bob Collins in his blog on Minnesota Public Radio's web site:

"What am I supposed to think? " my youngest (adult) son said to me in an e-mail today, after watching and listening to all the post-election rantings.
"It means that somewhere between everything you hear, is real life," I responded. "No matter what people tell you to think, keep working hard, do the best you can, do what you think is right, and everything else will take care of itself. If this country can survive new Coke, it can survive whatever good or bad anyone can throw at it."

Grandparenting Adventures

Here is my granddaughter after her first high school dance. I picked her up so her mom could stay home with my other granddaughter who is only 18 months old.
I also bought the dress  -- one of those adventures that only women can really understand. The dress started at $148, more than either her mom or I would pay. Then I got a 25% coupon for the store and I said we'd look again. We got there and the dress was marked $99.99. I said try it on so we know for sure. We decided to get it and and it rang up at $52.00!! When we were out of the store, I asked for the receipt. Turns out it was on a 30% mark-down and then another 25% off.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Visiting with Fulbright Friends

Today, Thomas and Carol, two of my Hungarian Fulbright friends were in town on their way back home to Duluth. We had a lovely visit over brunch.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

O! What a Fall is Here

This is why we endure winter -- with its sunlight like thin, cloudy gruel fit for inmates at a Soviet work camp. We don't suffer through it for the spring, when the sun first starts to tease us. We don't do it for summer, when the sun burns the skin to a red crisp. Here in St. Peter, it is for autumn that we suffer. Only autumn brings us October light.

And though the sun is moving away from us, its light, at this time of year, seems especially bright, warm and radiant. Slanted at a 45-degree angle, it gently rubs against the southwest horizon. It filters through the atmosphere -- thick with the golden dust of the harvest. It is like a mist of sweet honey that lightly coats everything it touches.

I imagine it aged like wine in a dark green bottle of hot humid air, all summer long. And now in late October, we finally get to pop the cork and tip the bottle, letting that light flow out. As it pours, it slowly stains everything into these beautiful autumn colors, red, yellow, orange and brown.
Autumn gives us all this, and almost at the same time takes it away. For that, it is the most honest of the seasons. It doesn't pretend to be anything it's not. It's about reaping and not sowing, endings rather than beginnings. It's about shortening days and long, cold nights. Here in the river valley, all the bright fall leaves are already mostly blown down, and the eastern bluffs are already fading into an ashy, copper brown.

So let's raise a glass and toast this fall and its light. We've patiently endured long enough and I think we deserve it. So Skoal! To the fall and to the light!

Commentary by Philip Bryant, Professor at Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, MN -- prepared for Minnesota Public Radio 

Friday, October 22, 2010

It's my birthday and I'll cry if I want to!

Yes, it's my birthday. Not a big celebration. Surprising work came my way and I expected a 12 hour day. It turned out to only be 10, but I was up at 6 AM doing work on my online classes and other tasks before I even went to work. I got up to print something while it was yet still dark and managed to knock off a very full cup of coffee on my living room carpet. After cleaning all this up I looked at a clock and realized I'd been working and also had now managed to wash the carpet and it was only 7:25. I stopped downstairs to get a cup of coffee and managed to spill some of that, too.

I got bumped in the parking lot while parking, but neither of our cars got any serious damage.

This evening I had to go to a business dinner. We parked in a ramp at which the restaurant honors the ticket and so one leaves for free. However, I managed to lose the ticket on the way to ramp, and had to pay the lost ticket price of $18.00!

I'm ready for a different day tomorrow!

However, there were kindnesses. I got a lot of nice wishes on Facebook and 9 of them had something to do with my volunteer work in Poland -- either Polish people I know or volunteers I met on service trips.

I'm very grateful that my life continues to expand with new friends.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Old Timers Adventure

Today I went to St. Cloud to meet with colleagues with whom I worked at the Minnesota Department of Health. Once a year there is a gathering of us who worked there, most retired but some of us took other jobs. We really had a good time recalling adventures and laughing. It made me think of my early career as a public health nurse. I worked in a county in southeast Iowa. Once a month some of us would get together at a supper club for dinner and then some kind of continuing education event. This was a time when married women weren't Sue Jones, for example, but Mrs. David Jones. Yet there we were, a bunch of women having a good time. Doing public health work takes a good deal of independence and confidence.

One time the bar tender at this restaurant told me he really liked our group. He said, "You talk more, you laugh more, and you drink more than any other group of women who come here. "

I'm working on a big, important project that has to be done October 29, plus balancing all my other work responsibilities. That is why the blog has been  quiet for awhile.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Back to Normal

Back to normal in many ways. First, I have completed the last piece of correspondence related to bureaucratic type problems that appeared while I was in Hungary. This last one relates to whether I should/could spend a health flexible account on two pairs of glasses.

Meanwhile at work I'm a bit over my head. The clincher was getting designated as the chair of a search committee. I didn't see this coming at all as I planned my fall work! I've done searches before, but this is the first time I've worked with one where all the materials for application are done online. Being very fair and making certain to practice all affirmative action tasks is difficult when applicants submit a cover letter outlining their qualifications for a different job!

The river is falling, but not yet back to the levels of mid-summer.

The tour boats are out again.

And I found this interesting reflection of the High Bridge.

On the other side of my building I get this beautiful view when I eat breakfast. The days are getting shorter and often it is now dark when I have dinner.

What's not exactly normal is the temperature. The past few days the temperature has been 80 during the daytime. I'm still wearing my flip-flops, and I've noticed a lot of other people are doing the same. I have the windows wide open in my apartment day and night. I can't make myself believe I should run the air-conditioner in October, but I'm sure I hear the units running from other apartments.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Back to School

Today I suffered through a Driver Safety Class. Minnesota has a program for which one gets a 10% discount on insurance if this class is done every three years. The problem is that the instructors are usually pitiful. And this one was no exception. I took the course sponsored by AARP through Community Ed. The pictures, etc, make older people look sick and helpless. It's worth a bit of money so I suffer through it, but oh! I wish the instruction would improve.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Flood Report

It  seems very strange to be watching the Mississippi River come up to flood stage against the background of the fall leaves. Also this evening, I took a walk wearing cut-offs, a sleeveless tank top and flip-flops and was perfectly comfortable. This is quite amazing for September 30.

The views are beautiful. Here's the sunrise this morning. 

To make it a bit possible to show the river change I've been taking photos of one of the bridge supports for the nearby High Bridge.

Here's how it looked two days ago. 

Here's how it looked about sunset today. The bridge support on the opposite side of the river has markings on the side to show the clearance from river level to the high part of the arch on the high bridge. Watching that bridge support, I can see the river has come up about 7 feet since Monday evening.

The pictures I show come from about three miles down river from where the Minnesota River joins with the Mississippi River. The flood crest on the Minnesota is still 40-50 miles away, so the water will still continue to raise outside the door.

The city has a web cam on which to watch the river. You may access it at the link below. 

City of St. Paul Flood Web Cam

Well, more pictures tomorrow, plus I'll be traveling to Northfield, a town that was highly impacted by the rainfall and then flooding. 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

How High the Waters Mama

Two feet more and rising! That's for sure. This change has occurred in 24 hours. I'll be out in the morning to see what has happened in 12 hours and will post some comparison pictures then. Meanwhile, this morning I saw a whole tree floating down the river. That is definitely a sign that the river has gotten into timberland along the side and floated things out.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Flood is coming

In my last posting I noted that devastating rainfall had fell in southern Minnesota. A good bit of the area that received this rainfall drains into the Minnesota River which joins the Mississippi just a bit upriver from where I live. About 5 PM I took a walk and found this peaceful river scene. The news is that, however, by Wednesday the river will be nearly as high as during the spring flood.

If I walk a bit up river I walk under the High Bridge. One of the foundation blocks has marks on the side telling the boats how much clearance there is between the river level and the high part of the bridge arch. Today there is slightly more than 55 feet , certainly enough space for anything that comes down the river here. I'll be walking there every day; it's a good way to see the change in the depth of the river.

Very near this area on my side of the river is Geological Survey monitor.
There is a cable that runs from the monitor down into the river.
Watch this space for more news. Meanwhile the Governor and one of our Senators is planning to visit the southern part of the state to begin to determine the need for disaster relief.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Is This the River?

Is this the river near my apartment? No, it's actually on the other side of the building and it's the start of a park. We've had very heavy rains this week in southern Minnesota. In some locations this is now a disaster, whereas I've just got a view of an interesting location. When I moved here this area that I see out of my apartment windows was still a bit of an industrial site. Last fall the railroad tracks were removed. Then it became snow covered.

When I returned from Hungary I found dirt had been hauled into this area. Under my door I found numerous flyers apologizing for the mess of the dirt hauling. My car in the underground garage was absolutely covered with dirt -- I'm sure sucked in by the fresh air fan not far from where I park. Since my car didn't move and so wasn't exposed to air, rain, or car washes, every grain of dirt from the last six months was on it.

Shortly after I returned a worker appeared and planted grass. I though the hot days of July were a strange time to try to plant grass. However, it did take and grow. Then last week the worker appeared again and harrowed the field. I then understood that the grass was meant to be green manure, to begin to enrich the dirt into something that might then be described a soil. New grass seed was planted and I thought this morning maybe I could see a hint of green. But then the monsoon hit. Again, the field is standing water.  I'm having a good lesson learning the difference between dirt and soil.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Views along the River

I decided to take a short walk along the river between 6:30- 7:00 before darkness. The first thing that attracted my attention was a tow boat along some of the stored barges. As I walked further downstream and from away from some trees, I saw a huge smoke ball.

I could hear the loud speaker system from the tow boat saying something about Robert Street. Just then a man came walking his dog, walking with his back to this. I called his attention to the view. His guess was a car accident or car fire. We could start to hear sirens, and then could easily see the red lights blinking on the road along the river rather than anything appearing to be happening in the river. In about 10 minutes the smoke dissipated.

Update -- a day later I drove along this road and saw a huge burned area on the concrete! 

My other view is of Echinacea. The seeds of this plant usually end up to be brown. But this one seems to want to be unique! Just a reminder we can all seek to be beautiful red-heads if we so desire.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Back to an Adventure

With the house gone and my apartment settled and everything so easy here, I find I have time on my hands. Well, then it's back to teaching English in the evenings as a volunteer.  This evening I subbed with a class at Guadalupe Projects. I had 8 Hispanic adults. I'll be back there next week too. My regular gig is going to be on the East side of St. Paul on Monday evenings. I'll have a beginner class which seems to be divided between Hispanic and Hmong adults.

Update -- Didn't end up teaching. The organization insisted I had to take the pre-service class. I had taught for them before and then pre-service was waived on the basis of my experience. This year they quickly referred me to doing sub work, and then this. With all the English teaching I've done, being a university professor and having a PhD in education, I didn't feel the need to take a class which included topics such as how to plan a lesson. I figure the organization doesn't need volunteers very much if this requirement is now in place. 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sights out the Door

I'm gradually become used to living again in Minnesota and enjoying the sights out the door. This is a busy time on the river out the door. Recently a working barge has been there creating a more stable shore. I think some of this work connected to washouts from the spring flood. However, part was also for new construction.

Today I could see that part of the work related to creating stability along the base of the new overlook that is being constructed.
I can hardly wait for all of this to be done. It looks now that a bit more work needs to be done on the shoreline and a railing constructed along the overlook. Grass or plants need to come in, too, in some of the spaces left between the sidewalks and the trails. It is going to be very cool to grab a cup of coffee and head down the hall, down the elevator, and then out on the overlook -- all in about 30 seconds.

This is also a time when many barges are tied up along this area of the river. They are being stored here in anticipation of moving the harvest of wheat, corn, and soybeans down the river.
This morning two tow boats are busy moving things about. It looks like the main tow is perhaps assembling barges, getting ready for a trip. I've seen this main tow down at what is called the Lower Landing for the last couple of days.

And on the other side, today is the annual Bike Classic Ride.
 Since about 7 AM bikes have been coming along Shepard Road. My older granddaughter was staying with me. Last evening she asked me to wash her jeans. When it was done I had something messy in a plastic bag -- What's this -- Oh my asthma medicine. From about 5 AM I could hear her coughing. At 7:30 she came to the bedroom and asked me to drive her home so she could get her asthma medicine. I didn't appreciate making this trip, needing a police escort in and out of this complex due to the Bike Classic! Where do 14 year olds park their brains? On the other hand, she had everything neat in the living room and she was totally packed up in a very orderly manner before she came to get to me!

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Bad Adventure

After my class on Wednesday I fell on a bad sidewalk. I ended up with a very bad soft tissue injury on my left hand, a big bruise on my shoulder, and for a couple of days aches and pains all over. Tonight I feel almost human again. My left hand is now turning in shades of yellow and green. I'm going to ask the safety officer to walk that sidewalk with me. The workmen in Pecs would have a fit if they saw how bad a "new" sidewalk had been laid.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

High School Adventure

This evening I took my granddaughter to her high school open house. She is attending a new school which has students from  grades 7 -10  this year. She will have intense math classes, English writing, High School reading whatever that is, physical science, world history, and band. Her band teacher is thinking of having her try the bass flute. I was impressed with all the teachers I met.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Cinnamon Roll Adventure

My granddaughter found a hot roll mix in my cupboard and has been wanting to make cinnamon rolls ever since. Making bread, even from a mix, does take some time. We got it done today.

She had done a science fair exhibit with yeast, but this is her first experience with using yeast for its usual function. I was dubious for the mix we were using was about 4 months past the use date. I warmed the oven a bit to give the yeast its best chance to do its thing. We ended up with some very good cinnamon rolls. This is not exactly "cooking from scratch," but is more like home-cooking that having them come out the cinnamon roll carton!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Laundry Adventures

Why a picture of me? To prove my camera still works. I put some clothing in the washing machine and soon I was hearing clunk, clunk. I tried to figure out what I had put in the machine that didn't belong there. Finally it came to me that it was probably the camera. OK here's the test. I got this camera because it is supposed to withstand water to the depth of 10 meters. Will it work? Thankfully the battery was elsewhere at this time. When I could rescue the camera from the washing machine, I opened it and removed the disk. I left everything to dry for several hours, put it altogether, and found everything worked, including the pictures that were on the disk. I took a picture into a mirror to prove it still works. Now Fugi should definitely contact me to pay me for such an endorsement of this project.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Culture Shock in the USA

Today I made a trip to Target to get things such as hand soap for the sinks, more laundry detergent, and things like that. This is really my first shopping trip such as this after coming back from Hungary, so that means the first time in about 9 months. Boy! has everything changed. I couldn't find the soap refill I wanted for the bathroom, the laundry detergent products are different, the graphical colors are so different. I needed shampoo and couldn't find anything I wanted -- it would have been so easy at the DM in Pecs!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

11 and 14 going on 20

I have been trying to keep track of my two older grandchildren while there Mom works a daycare job from 6 AM - 3 PM. They are old enough to take care of themselves and also old enough to get into trouble! And at home the main entertainment seems to be Cartoon Network.

They were really squirmy today, just couldn't settle down to much of any activity. We walked down to the nearby playground area to hopefully see some of the energy run off. I'm surprised my granddaughter still likes this activity, but she spends her time trying to remember some of the skills she learned at Circus Camp a few years ago.
This is rather the same picture, but from a different angle. If one looks carefully at the right center area, there is the Mississippi River flowing by. This is really a magical place to live. And today, the temperature was in the low 70s (maybe 22 for those of  you in Europe). Perfect day. I heard later on the TV that this was the coolest day since June 14, and I wasn't here for that day. I think it was right about then that I was 40 on the thermometer in Kaposvar!

Sometimes these kids act like they are five years old, with all the hitting and pushing and teasing. And then other times, it's like they are 20.

Here is my grandson downstairs in the Cyber Cafe making himself a cup of coffee. He sat down at a table, crossed his legs, and said, "Now this would be perfect if there was some jazz."