Sunday, October 30, 2011

Last Day of Autumn?

My older daughter and I took a small trip today to the Minnesota Valley Wildlife Refuge. I had attended a conference near here this past week and realized we had not visited for quite a long time. On a Facebook page a person said this day smelled like snow.
The sky today definitely has the "blue" look of November. This view is from an overlook over wetlands for the Minnesota River. The river begins on the very western border of Minnesota where the border has a bit of a bulge to the west. It flows rather than a half circle going quite far south before it curves back north to join the Mississippi River about 4 miles upstream from where I live. The water that comes in from the Minnesota is what has caused the most recent floods in this area.

We did see a bit of bright color.
The museum has two very interesting banners. They are huge -- perhaps 100 feet wide by 30 feet high.

Here is a part of one. It looks like it is made from pixels and you are right.

Above are some of the "pixels" for this banner.

Here is the banner in another area:

And here is a part of the bird's leg:

We did a short walk outside. These weeds below are quite ready for wind or birds to carry the seeds about.
We have one day of October and then it's November, the dreary month in Minnesota. By December the weather is much colder but we get sunny, blue skies. The trick for November is to stay busy! With my schedule that's not a problem.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


Somewhere yesterday I heard two adults give each other a final greeting: Have a happy Halloween. I'm trying to figure just when this turned into such a major holiday. I heard recently that it has become even more an adult holiday than a children's holiday. Looked around on the net and found an estimate that more than $6 billion would be spent on Halloween decorations, costumes, and candy.

Everything turns to pumpkins everywhere.

I found these outside Kowalski's grocery storm on Grand Avenue.

Target decorates for Halloween --
but probably on Tuesday it will turn to Christmas overnight.

There are as many greeting cards for Halloween as for Christmas or birthdays.
I thought perhaps Halloween celebrations aren't as modern I thought when I found this book display:
but I'm thinking perhaps the Christie book instead has a new cover for the 21st century.

Two memories emerge as this time of the year. One is the very memorable 1991 Halloween blizzard when we got 28 inches of snow. Because the streets were very warm -- the weather had gone from summer to winter in about 24 hour -- all of this snow turned to glaciers on the streets. It took road graders rather than snow plows to remove it.

The other -- my younger daughter was enrolled in Spanish Immersion School. The School had Amity teachers -- young university graduates from other countries. One of the Amity teachers taught a lesson as Dios de los muertos. At the next PTA meeting one parent complained about this, saying she didn't want her child to be exposed to Satanic practices. The Amity teacher burst into tears and the rest of us sat there with our jaws dropped, quite literally, recognizing this to be important holiday and commemoration  in other cultures and there is nothing Satanic about it. . Finally some got themselves well enough together to tell this parent that if she didn't want her child to learn about other cultures, she had certainly enrolled her in the wrong school.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Love the Credit Union

I've been with Affinity Plus Credit Union ever since it had a former name. I always feel sorry for people who do their financial work with a bank. A bank exists to make money for the shareholders. A credit union exists to provide financial services for its members and that is huge difference. Some of my fellow Fulbrighters had bank charges for using their credit or debit cards while in Europe. The only charge I got was when the Fulbright office wired money to my account.

Last week I needed a document in association with a former car loan. I knew it probably existed somewhere in my apartment, but just where was that box since my move from a house. Rather than going crazy trying to find something, I simply stopped by the credit union and explained my problem. In 10 minutes the staff there provided me with the information needed, plus the signatures on it were notarized so that there was no question about whether it was an official document.

Last evening I went to an event at the Minnesota History Center. Before it started I went to the Museum Shop as was delighted to find a puzzle that is a map of the United States. The ones we have at Reymontowka have been used and loved too  much and new ones are needed, and actually this kind of puzzle is hard to find. When I went to pay for this, I realized my debit card was missing. I thought for certain I'd left it in an ATM on Monday evening. While getting some cash things dropped out of my wallet and I was certain that distraction caused me to forget picking up the debit card. This morning I went to the credit union with my sad story. We verified that no one else has been using the card. I was also told that since I had not removed it from the machine, the ATM would suck it back in and destroy the card. I walked out from the credit union with a new card in about five minutes. I really hate to think what might have happened had I had to go to the one of the banks in this community.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Where's the water in Europe?

While walking this morning I happened upon this colorful fire hydrant. Suddenly I remember fire hydrant turning up on a vocabulary sheet while teaching English in Poland this summer and having the kids quite puzzled about what it was. That weekend I went to Kielce and while walking around I tried to figure out what firefighters used for a water source in Poland. I'm quite certain I never saw a fire hydrant in Hungary either. Might I have translated somewhat correctly about a plate in the street that can be opened? That was my guess about where firefighters might get a water supply. Send me a comment. It will help me teach English next summer.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Colors of Autumn

A walk in the late afternoon revealed many beautiful autumn colors.
This summer flower was found showing its face in a courtyard in a nearby condo complex.

These long stalks I think are mullen. My mother used to gather these and spray them gold and use them in winter holiday decorations.

Gold is a real autumn color.

And so are red leaves.

While walking I also found a sign of spring. Readers of this blog will remember stories of the Spring 2011 Mississippi River flood. My walk was on  a trail that was totally flooded when I left for Hungary in late April and still not ready for walking when I left to Poland in mid-June. Today I noticed the fence which showed the height of the river on this trail by the mud left behind on the fence.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Walking Along the River in Autumn

I took a walk along the Mississippi River right back of my apartment just about sunset. Interesting things are to be found.

One is pretty bush coming into bloom, shown here next to the native grasses. It is unusual to find pink blossoms in fall.

Here is a photo that shows the flower more closely.

We have had some very windy days and that has blown away a lot of leaves with some of the trees now looking like this.
Just how windy can be shown in the video below of the roses trying to hang on.

I heard a sound and turned to see some bike riders whiz by. It's a short video because they were truly flying!

 As I turned to walk back to my apartment the sun was now on my back. I noticed how long the shadows are this time of year.
This looks funny because the wind was blowing my coat open, thus the triangle shape.

Hope you all enjoy these views !

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Walking around Wood Lake

My older daughter and I recently took a walk around Wood Lake. Wood Lake is in the suburb of Richfield, a suburb immediately south of Minneapolis. The entire lake is part of nature center, and just one of Minnesota's 10,000 lakes, but we know there are more. Wikipedia says that are 11,842 lakes that are 40,000 square meters or more (Americans-- that's 10 acres).

Our views were beautiful.

About half way around we encountered this wonderful little bouncy bridge.

On the north side of the lake we walked through a bit of a forested area. I found the sunlight on the trees to be interesting images. 

We've not yet had a hard freeze in this area, but flowers are becoming fleeting. Thus, we enjoyed these brave little flowers. Where I was raised we always called these Brown-Eyed Susans, but I'm sure they have a more formal name. 
Hoe you enjoyed this stroll around Wood Lake.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Sharing the weather

The image above comes from the weather blog maintained by Minnesota Public Radio. For many years I kept the temperature from my home city in Minnesota next to the temperature for Siedlce, Poland on my computer. I marveled how many times the temperatures were the same or within 1 or 2 degrees. After doing this for a couple of year I went to book signing by Mark Seeley, a climatologist at the University of Minnesota. In response to a question from an audience member, he said we have a weather system that rotates around the Arctic Circle. I could understand that abstractly, but this photo today really helps one to see how this might be possible.

Now the similarity doesn't always work. Last summer while I was freezing in Poland the weather in Minnesota was setting heat records!

Back to the photo above -- it shows the snow in Siberia. The weather blog writers say there is evidence building that shows that the October snow falls in Siberia have something to do with the cycle of cold weather we will get in Minnesota in the winter. Thus far, we don't call October winter!!  That means late December and early January when its really frigid due for one reason to the shortness of the days and lack of sunshine to warm the world here.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Thank you, thank you

Today my blog passed 7000 page views. I thank all of you who have found my words worth a bit of your time.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Seasons of the Year

Here is Minnesota we have a saying, "There are two seasons: winter and road construction." My Polish friends tell me they have the same one.

It's a little heavier than usual. with the construction of light rail into St. Paul.
I took this picture today from a park overlook of the intersection of University Avenue and Robert Street. This is about one block west of the Capitol Building.

Yesterday I took the photo below of the construction for the 4th Street Station.
It is quite obviously taken through the car window. Was I doing something even worse than texting and driving? No, I was stopped at such a long stop light that I dug into my bag for the camera, took the photo, and put the camera away all before the light changed.

Monday, October 10, 2011

International Conference at Home

I'm attending the 2nd International Public Health Nursing Conference, being held here in Saint Paul.

It is being attended by public health nurses from 15 countries in addition to the United States and by public health nurses from 22 of states.

 The title of the conference relates to the idea that our societies around the world need public health nurses more than ever but public health nurses are quite invisible to the average citizen or the political decision makers.

We heard a wonderful presentation by a public health nurse from Norway -- with an Irish accent since that is her birth country -- about her interviews with nurses, clients, and policy makers about what public health nurses do. This speaker had an interesting technique. When she came to place where she wanted to summarize and then move to new part of her presentation, she put up a picture of her home in Norway --- way, way, up in the northern part of Norway.

She said this photo is taken from her bathroom window in April:

The second morning presentation was given by two public health nurses from Madison, WI, about their Health Equity team and the work they are doing to reduce violence and revitalize neighborhoods in the Madison. Their work amazed all of us, even though everyone in the audience knew that there is much more to nursing than working in a hospital and passing medications.

I've been enjoying seeing professional colleagues I've not seen for awhile. They all ask if I'm still working. One participant, bless her heart, approached me to say the class I gave her provided her with needed skills to be an excellent public health nurse. Readers of my blog may know I'm having a stressful semester with all the courses I have to get ready for spring semester. Nice to get a comment like my former student gave me. Another former student said, "Oh, I was hoping you would be here."

This evening they all went out on the Jonathan Padleford. I decided to simply walk out the back door and wave at them.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Lower Landing Views

In my last blog I wrote about how noncommercial the river looks out my door. That's because I live at Upper Landing where there really isn't much boat traffic.

About a mile downstream is the Lower Landing. The views there are a bit different.

I drive by this area every time I go to work. It is fun to see what may have appeared from the last trip. For the last couple days there have been four tow boats moored there. A couple are obviously doing maintenance -- my clue was the open paint cans!

Here is a close up of the Sierra Dawn. It is owned by the Admiral company.

I think the coiled ropes on deck look like art. This afternoon 4 members of the crew were sitting out on deck in the late afternoon sun. I asked them how they were enjoying Minnesota summer, since again today the temperature is in the lower 80s, (26 C).

Every day like this is one less day of winter! 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Oh Poor Me!

That may need a bit of "translation" for those of you from other countries. This comment really means the opposite, that I have access to something quite wonderful.

 Here is the view I see these mornings over breakfast. The autumn colors are coming in quite beautifully. This view is over Shepard Road and over two sets of train tracks. One would never know! Right now we get just a glimpse of an old brick house up on the bluff. When the leaves fall off the house becomes more prominent and I still have a great view.

This evening I went for a walk about 7 PM. Now the darkness is coming at that time, but the temperature this evening was still close to 80 degrees ( 26 C for those of you measure temperature that way).

Here is one view of the river this evening. In many ways it is surprising how wild and noncommercial the river is at this point.

And another. There is a building in the upper left of the photo with a blinking light. That is the 1st National Bank building. For many years it was traditional that the color of this light told one the weather forecast. Now it simply blinks in red, keeping the traditional a bit alive.
Hope you enjoy a little bit of Minnesota autumn.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

2theloo -- who knew?

Looking at my blog stats I see someone got there by searching for 2theloo. I was amazed by these in the renovated Warsaw train station. But whoever hit my blog caused me to search more, and I find this is a new business from the Netherlands. Who knew?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Carpathian Festival

From an e-mail from the Polish-American Minnesota chapter I learned about a Carpathian Festival being sponsored by the Minnesota Hungarian Association. I ordered a ticket and went to a dance festival on Sunday afternoon. It was terrific!

The web site for the Minnesota Hungarian Association says this is the first Carpathian Festival in North America. There are multiple events for the festival and now I bummed out that I have a work commitment on Tuesday night because I'd love to go the historical "archeological" dig at the Minnesota History Center that is part of the festival.

But let's get on with this wonderful event. The MC for the program introduced that the theme for this event was culture through the Carpathians, going on to note how country boundaries move and one country's cultural group is suddenly found in another country. Speaking of culture in this manner, he said: " it ain't simple; complexity is wonderful." He is referring to how all the Carpathian culture mixes through many of the countries, and in fact, my first sentence illustrates the complexity -- learning about something the Minnesota Hungarian Association is doing from the Polish-American Minnesota group. Also cultures from one country may be in another country, particularly if one is looking at Hungarian culture which has significant populations in Transylvania  in Romania as well as within Slovakia.

But let's get on with the fun -- and first  -- all the videos have music. You may wish to adjust the audio on your computer.

A musical group-  Duvo Ensemble-- played alone and also provided music for many of the dancers. Their music is terrific, much better than the sound I could capture in the videos below.They played one song at the very beginning and then moved to the side of stage. I never got a good photo or video of them, but hey! you've got their web site if you want more info.

 The first dancers appearing were the Lipa Slovak Dancers

The above dance features just two men. What I didn't know until today is that some of these male dances were designed to recruit soldiers for the various armies. Below is a view of the greater group of dancers from Lipa.

We next went to the Ukraine for music by the Ukrainian Village Band. This group was founded in 2006 and specializes in early 20th century Ukrainian music. The combination of instruments provided an entirely different sound. If this music  is associated with the Carpathian basin then it must be from western Ukraine.

The next group, the Videki Hungarian Dancers gave us yet another sound. Their performance featured music from Magyarbod, a Hungarian town now in present day Slovakia. It features the polyphonic sound associated with some Slovakian music.
This group was followed by Pal Mlinar and Katalin Korosi Mlinar. This couple specialize in dances from this region. The MC explained they are so skillful that they now improvise rather than choreograph their pieces. I'm guessing they live in Hungary since Pal has a Hungarian Facebook page. They danced several times during this show, but the one I liked best was the Roma dance below.

I had heard about the group, Dolina Polish Folk Dancers.  I didn't realize how wonderfully talented this group is until I saw this performance. Dolina has been around for 62 years and their director has been working with the group for 30 years and it shows! They are super.

The MC explained that in conjunction with the theme of the Carpathian basin that Dolina was presenting dances from the Beskid. Mountains areas. The MC was of Hungarian origin and I enjoyed seeing him stumble over the Polish words in his introduction of this group!

The Dolina performance began with the men displaying their skills..  As soon as I saw them I recognized they were dressed as the mountain culture, but it is a little different than how men dress in Zakopane. One difference I noticed is that the hats do not have sea shells. And if a reader is curious about why men's hats in Zakpane have sea shells add a comment and I'll explain there.

And here is one with the entire company. I had staked out a seat in the very front row of the auditorium so I could get good pictures. Unfortunately, so had a professional photographer who didn't care at all that he walked about during the performances. In the video below he crosses for a moment.

 Dolina was followed by the St. Paul Czech and Slovak Folk Dancers. This group began in 1962 and work to keep alive the Bohemian and Moravian traditions -- cultures that were located now in  the boundaries of the Czech Republic. The MC noted dances such as the waltz and murzuka came from these cultures, and much did to my delight, he noted also the polka comes from this area. So many people in the United States think this is traditional dance of Poland, and it's not.

 The final performance featured all the dancers and musicians joining together to celebrate Uncle Lajos's Namesday. It started with a group of men celebrating and enjoying slivovitz. Then women came to present flowers and finally all began dancing! A celebration with a celebration of Carpathian music. What a wonderful afternoon.

I could tell I was in a bit of Hungarian culture because of the calls of Bravo! during some of the performances and the group sort of did the rhythmic clapping that is used in Hungary, particularly, to call for an encore.Hungarians have a unique way of doing this.

And minds in blog land think alike. I had thought about saying that if  you liked these dances to perhaps look back on my blog from the dance festival in Pecs in 2010. And today in my blog stats I see someone already has -- saved me the trouble of going through the blog and looking for the date: April 30

Hope you enjoyed a bit of trip to Carpathians!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Lovely Saturday

What does one do on a lovely Saturday in the autumn? Work! About 75 of us gathered for a special seminar on the health care costs, health care reform, and the impact of those two concepts on business and the economy in the United States. All the presentations were very good and now it appears I may need to revise the final module in the Health Policy class for spring semester -- a task that may be a bit difficult because that is one of the files that disappeared during this past week's computer meltdown. (However, I may have found a place to get into the back-up files -- for awhile I kept getting a message I wasn't authorized to do so, but made it last night. Since I'm the only person who uses this particular computer I fairly puzzled about not being authorized to get into my own back-up files.)

We had lunch, a speaker, and then a panel discussion in the Great Hall at my university. This has two story windows that overlook the St. Paul skyline and the Mississippi River Valley.

After the event concluded I walked outside on the balcony and took a couple of photos.

This one faces north and catches a corner of the library building. Seventh Street is shown at the bottom of the picture.

Here is the view we enjoyed during the luncheon events. One can see a bit of fall color, but the peak has not yet hit this part of Minnesota. Last Saturday I had lunch with former colleagues from the Minnesota Department of Health. One used to travel the entire state and she remarked that one thing she missed was seeing the color change from north to south. She said, "Now I only get to see what's out the door at home."