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.