Saturday, March 31, 2012

What's This?

My daughter and I went to the Minnesota History Center today. We found a very interesting exhibit about a house, located quite near to where I work, that is 118 years old and has been lived in by more than 150 people. This house was built in the middle 19th century by the Schumacher family who immigrated from Germany. This family lived in the house for 15 years or so -- in fact one of their daughters was married in the house.

The neighborhood gradually changed over to Italian immigrants. At this time the house was divided. The left hand half of the home was divided into a upper and lower unit, while the right hand half remained a double story dwelling.  Over time the neighborhood then changed to immigrants from Mexico, and then domestic immigration of African-Americans from the Chicago area, and finally Hmong families.

Now for the question -- what is this? It is a mustache cup, a special cup for a man with a mustache designed to allow him to drink without getting his mustache into the drink. Even though some men these days have mustaches, the mustache cup has disappeared.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

March Meandering

Late last week I had to drive to a northern suburb for the faculty organization Delegate Assembly. I drove back home both days on different routes. And of course, there are errands and tasks that took me to other places in the past few days.

On Saint Paul's beautiful Summit Avenue I saw wonderful signs of spring.

And this lawn of blue just took my breath away. I stopped after grocery shopping to take the photos below. Aren't I lucky to have such a beautiful place on a my route to grocery shopping?

Here is a close up view of these flowers.

Yesterday I had the need to walk through downtown Saint Paul. My travels took to the Landmark Center, largely to use the ATM there. Then I started to cut through Rice Park and I saw blocks of ice. My first thought was that I was seeing the last blocks of ice associated with bar that was there during the Winter Carnival. I also thought that this was impossible because of the very warm weather we have been enjoying. Here' what I found.

I was a bit puzzled about why someone encased a bicycle in ice. Later in the day I learned this is publicity for the Nice Rice program. Nice Ride is a public bike sharing program.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Award Adventure

I don't show up in the blog very often! I'm on the right with dark hair. Here I'm receiving an award for Community Engagement from Dr. Sue Hammersmith, President of Metropolitan State University. This is associated primarily with my Health Policy class. In this class students construct a policy brief and then meet with an elected official on an issue. They also interview people in the community and write a short report about what these people know about health reform on both state and federal levels. My glasses are a bit dark because I had been seated in the Great Hall looking into the huge window that faces west right into the late afternoon sun, and the darkening feature was working! Recently got an award too for 10 years of teaching at Metropolitan State.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

More Signs of Spring

Out for a walk this morning at what should be sunrise, but because of clouds, there is no sun to be seen. I did, however, find this forsythia bush showing off its colors. I always associate these with late April, so its showing of  colors early is another sign of the unusually warm weather we are having.

Speaking of signs -- Near the place where the trails interface with Upper Landing Park I found the sign below.
 Before taking the walk I was writing content for a new course and making the observations that policies in different states make a difference in health status. This sign may be a reminder of why Minnesota and Saint Paul are good places to live. In some places, the idea of residents getting together to do a spring clean-up of a public place would be quite a foreign idea.

I noticed a goose in a new home. You can easily see this is a one goose nest!

I thought that if this goose was on HGTV's House Hunters there would be complaints that the master bedroom was not big enough.

The mate is hanging out on the river!

Can't complain about the clouds -- we surely need the rain!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Signs of Spring

Today I took a drive to my auto shop for an oil change for my car. My new car's computer automatically shows a message when either one gets to the right amount of mileage or right amount of time for an oil change. This is a mixed blessing, for I was becoming annoyed with the message appearing every time I started the car. The nice thing is that I wrote an exam for a course while waiting for the oil change.

When coming home I noticed a tree at the gate trying to show off its spring colors.
Here is a close up of the bloom on the tree.

When leaving home this morning I noticed a pair of ducks in the pond by the gate. I decided to take a walk along the pond to see what I could see. No ducks apparently trying to make a home for raising a family. I noticed how low the pond is with the continuing lack of snow/rain in this area. Maybe the ducks did too!

I noticed some shrubs along the pond already showing a lot of green.
On the way back to my apartment I found this fat robin.

We always say the fat ones have spent the winter further south!

As I write I can see a lot of green color showing on the trees across Shephard Road and up on the nearby bluff. I didn't notice this color yesterday, so the warm weather is moving spring along quite quickly.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Mundane March

The blog heading says this is about both mundane and wonderful things. Mostly the last week has been mundane. One thing stands out. I had a meeting of theGlobal Health class on Monday evening. The students were assigned to bring something to illustrate the connection between culture and health. It was a wonderful evening - they were so creative. Their "somethings" ranged from a popular Central America song illustrating the infidelity of men  in one country with the consequent health problems to how firecrackers in the Philippines for a Christmas celebration become a public health problem for people lose their fingers shooting them off to a root used in Africa that is supposed to be a s good as Viagra. Every student was fascinated with their other colleagues' presentation.

Earlier that day I went to sign all the papers associated with my retirement benefits. On Wednesday I went to another sales meetings for supplemental insurance associated with transitioning over to Medicare. Tuesday included a meeting related to planning services for my daughter who has disabilities. That afternoon my CPA office called and said my taxes were done. Not to my surprise the packet came with instructions about how to pay additional federal and state taxes. Only thing I can say is that it's nice to get all this stuff done in one week, and not have these sort of activities messing up other weeks.

On Wednesday morning I looked out the window while eating breakfast and saw something that was a bit of a surprise.
It was a flock of wild turkeys making their way between the buildings and the highway.
Flocks of geese are quite common to see, but wild turkeys in the city are still a bit of an oddity.

The rest of the week was full of meetings and other mundane things, including attending a workshop on Saturday about tools to enhance online courses. That means I missed St. Patrick's Day in Saint Paul -- which is a great big deal.

Went out walking about 6:30 PM and observed the celebrations were continuing.
Above are some young adult playing what I guessed might be a modified game of Bocce Ball -- nothing like an Italian game to celebrate an Irish holiday!

This walk was the first I had done along the river in a couple of weeks, and I was startled to see how low the river is.

Above is one of my favorite scenes, a reflection of the High Bridge arch in the river. This is the area where I monitored the river level last year during the flood. The river is 25 feet lower than the high flood stage of last March; it is about 10 feet below normal.

As I write there is no snow, the first tow boat and barges have arrived for the Mississippi River shipping season, there is no sap coming from the maple trees because the weather is so warm -- the price of maple syrup will be dear this coming year -- and I'm  wearing shorts as I write, for the temperature in my apartment is 83 (28C). Maybe will have to run the air conditioner later so I can sleep!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Visiting Sheldon Museum

Today my friend and I went to the Sheldon Art Museum here in Lincoln. The prime thing on our list was to see a new collection of Andy Warhol pictures here.

What took my eye though first was a model train exhibit.


Nearby is a gallery with art related somehow to trains. Since so many transcontinental trains cross Nebraska, trains are a big topic here.

The Andy Warhol exhibit are Polaroid pictures he took of friends who came by his apartment sometime in the 1960s. This museum received 153 of this photos. Reading elsewhere, this is one small part of a huge collection which has recently been donated to museums across the country.
One can see familiar faces as well those who are not celebrity figures.

We enjoyed all the other galleries. This museum organizes a bit differently than others I have visited. For example, one gallery featured art that illustrated the symbiotic relationship between artists and galleries. Another featured the relationship between artists and models. Another room held art related to the broad theme of revolution. The room will hold a variety of mediums related to the theme, not limited to paintings. 

In the atrium is an unusual piece. 

This sculpture is made of a rubber cast. 

Our next stop was lunch at The Oven, an Indian restaurant. 
Oh yum! 

One of the publications put out by the Nebraska Tourist Council says something like people from the East and West coasts think this is the middle of nowhere. When Nebraskans hear this, they just smile, because they know they have all the amenities of the coasts, but way less hassle!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Wandering in Nebraska

We left Lincoln about 9:30 am yesterday, traveling west in Nebraska to learn more about the Sandhill Cranes that migrate through Nebraska this time of year. Our first stop was a Nebraska Visitor Center at Exit 305 of I-80 near the town of Alda.

Many museums will have a map on which visitors can mark their home location. Someone from Saint Paul had already been there, so I looked at the European map and was pleased and surprised to see evidence from visitors from Central Europe.

We enjoyed the short video, actually from the International Crane Center in Wisconsin about Sandhill Cranes and Whooping Cranes.

The Center had a large visual display, made from both paintings and photographs about the Sandhill Cranes and other birds that migrate through this area.

The Visitor Center had a diorama with the Sandhill Cranes displayed.
 There is a small electronic display that illustrates the flyways.

We left the building to take a short walk out to the Platte River. Our walk there was well supervised by a herd of cattle in the property next door, including this cute little calf.

Since we were visiting at mid-day when the cranes are out feeding, what we saw was basically the Platte River.

From here we followed a rural country road along the Platte River. We saw many birds feeding in the corn fields. When they do this one basically sees a low line of gray-blue. From the distance the cranes on the ground are difficult to see, but one can surely hear them -- and that's is what you get below!

From the rural road we journeyed to Grand Island and had a late lunch at a rather cute restaurant called Freddy's. This is a small chain in this area of the United States, but not one I can find in Minnesota.

Then we went to the Stuhr Museum. Here we were greeted by some very friendly and noisy ducks.

The Stuhr is a county historical museum. It seems museum usually have old, traditional architecture. This building seems an unusual style for a county historical museum.

We went here especially to see an art exhibit related to birds. The art pieces were everything from photographs to paintings to wooden pieces.
Our next leg of the trip was a drive down to Hastings. Along this route we saw many cranes feedings in the fields and also some flocks beginning to collect for their flight to night quarters.

We enjoyed a coffee stop at the Blue Moon Coffee Shop. Then we headed back to Lincoln, arriving about 8 PM and enjoyed a temperature that still a bit more than 60 degrees F (16 C).

Easy to stay in the house today and do things like read student papers even though it's Spring Break week. The wind has turned to the north and rain is coming.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Finding Poland in Nebraska

I drove to Lincoln, Nebraska, some on Saturday afternoon and finished on Sunday morning, to visit friends there. Today we did a bit of shopping and my friend suggested going to the European Market to see what we could find there.

Here is something I found in a refrigerated counter.

And here's what I brought home.

I told the store owner about the great treat in Poland which is plums in chocolate. She knew what I meant and said she would try to find them. But I'm quite pleased with these two purchases. Meanwhile we had black currant juice for breakfast -- this from the Polish grocery store in Minneapolis.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Late Winter Colors

A winter storm moved through Minnesota Tuesday-Wednesday. North and west of here, a lot of snow accumulated. We, instead, got rain,  a bit of sleet, and a bit of snow. I took a walk this morning and found the only colors out in the world are gray, black, and white. We surely need a bit of spring to add some zest to the colors of the world.

However, close to my building I found a scene that may make someone "see red" or "feel blue." The snow fall was enough to cause a snow emergency to be declared. When this happens one needs to leave cars parked in the correct locations. The snow emergency is declared and announced on the radio stations, TV stations, on web sites, and in my building with big yellow signs in all the elevators and also on a bulletin board in the mail room.

In St. Paul, one side of north-south streets are plowed beginning at 9 PM of the night of the snow emergency. One can park on the opposite side of the street or on an east-west street. The next morning one may park on the plowed side of the north-south streets or, what most people do, take the car to work anyway. Meanwhile the east-west streets are plowed and the other side of north-south streets are plowed. The first plows came into my neighborhood about 9:30 last evening. St. Paul has some new plows and they are really noisy. It sounds as if the nearby train is actually running down a track right outside my window.

But despite all the notice of a snow emergency, there are always some oblivious to the world out their door. And that leads to this:

Bye, bye car to the impound lot. This will end up costing the owner at least $200. The fee is a combination of the ticket for the parking violation and then the fee for the tow truck. After a certain number of days, too, a daily fee kicks in for storing the car in the impound lot. That's why I said there may be someone "seeing red" (for those of you who speak other languages -- meaning being angry) or "feeling blue" (being sad and/or upset).