Thursday, August 30, 2012

Walking in Anoka

On Tuesday I did a 5K in Anoka, Minnesota. I had intended to do a 10K but when I got there I found a lot of street construction going on in the town that made part of the route quite a bit uninteresting. But maybe that's a wrong thing to say - because one of the funny things that happened is that a construction worker asked me if I wanted to put my foot in the wet cement and leave a mark forever!

Anoka, I learned was a border area between the Dakota and Chippewa American Indians. European settlement started in the early 1850s when this became a town, again associated with the lumber industry.

In fact, had the organizers of Wisconsin had their way I would have been walking most of the town in Wisconsin. The original proposed border of Wisconsin was the Rum River which runs through Anoka on its way to the Mississippi. A history I read said the lumber interests prevailed in setting the border further to the east on the St. Croix  (see walking in Stillwater earlier this month) River, reasoning there would be a better chance to "rip off" the timber if this area was a territory rather than a state. Anyway, it was all a grab for the timber in this area.

Anoka now is a small town, about 17,000, but that's hard to comprehend because one just drives from one metropolitan town to the next without ever seeming to leave a city area.

I found the start point after a bit of trouble navigating around the town due to the street construction. The first part of the walk was just back and forth through the business district. I did see some interesting old houses.

One, the Ticknor House is now a bed and breakfast. The front facade of this house is quite imposing, but I like how this turret peaked through the trees better.

A sign along the street said this house was built in 1867.

Then the walk went along to a trail area along the river and it was suddenly more interesting and scenic.

The park along the river is peaceful, too. I walked south for a distance with new town houses being the "land" feature. Then the walk backtracked towards the dam on the river. This part of the walk brought me back to a more historic area where there was an old band shell and people having a morning in the park feeding the ducks.

Finally after passing a foot bridge I found the dam.
A dam was placed here first in the early 1860s for powering lumber mills. Various floods destroyed dams across time. This dam was constructed about 40 years ago. The sluice on the right is reminiscent of the time when the river dam had as many as five sluice running water power to various lumber mills.

At a dock along the river I found interpretive signs explaining that the Rum River is the longest river protected under Minnesota's Wild and Scenic River Act.

The walk then crossed over the business district again to an area called Swede Town, named after the Scandinavian immigrants who first settled there. The houses here are all 20th century, but much smaller than the "lumber baron" part of town. It is obvious this was where the mill workers lived.

I laughed when I saw the people designing the sidewalk simply gave up and let an old tree have its way.

The walk finished back at the coffee shop. When I started out I was so concentrated on signing up right, getting the map, and  deciding whether to do 5 K or 10K that I didn't pay much attention to the coffee shop. When I had finished I ordered a yogurt freeze and sat down to relax. It was then that I realized the Avant Expresso Bar had probably really started its life as a bar. It still had one of those huge long built in bars along the wall.

Probably a place where "everyone knows your name." Check it out if you are ever in Anoka for the beverages and food is quite good.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Cooking Adventure -- Apple Crumble

When I was in Romania in May, the hotel where I stayed was across the street from a Lidl grocery store. I was quite surprised by the amount of English labeling on food products as well as the that many products came from the states.

However, I found this:

but this was made in Germany!

I just had to get one and carry it home, and finally made it today. Last week while walking in Stillwater (see blog below), I stopped at an apple farm and got some fresh new Minnesota apples.

Here's how it looked when it was going into the oven.

And when ready to eat.

It tastes quite good, but I like the Midwest way of making this better. The traditional topping here has oatmeal and comes out crispy -- which is why we call it Apple Crisp rather than Apple Crumble.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Walking in Stillwater

Today I did a 5K Volksmarch in Stillwater. This is a small town set on the border of Minnesota and Wisconsin. It is along the St. Croix River, and so is one of the older towns in Minnesota.

It started from the Ann Bean B & B. On a charming porch I found the box with the sign up sheet and all the information. It was simply lovely sitting on this porch.

There are a lot of 19th century homes in Stillwater, all in very good repair and all dressed up with correct paint colors. Stillwater was a place of lumber mills for the timber that was cut in the forests of Minnesota and Wisconsin and then floated down the river to Stillwater.

Within a short bit of walking I found myself at an overlook that provided a great view of the St. Croix.
From here I walked down a long, long flight of stairs to the river level. There must have been at least 100 steps. All I could think about is that later there must be a place to go up!

I walked along the river a bit and then indeed the route started to go up, and up indeed to Pioneer Park which had the same view, but from upstream of the bridge.

The guide map told me to pay attention to a nearby house, built with profits from selling blankets to the Union Army during the Civil War.
I walked my way out of the park and then to another set of stairs going down into a valley.

Eventually I got of the valley, but in an area where all street signs were missing due to street reconstruction. I walked in error for a bit and then got myself back on the route map and finally got to the nearly the end and what a reward -- the ice cream store.

This was called a "single serving cup." There were easily 50 flavors from which to choose. This is Mackinac Island Fudge. Very nice on a somewhat warm day. The only place to sit at this store is outdoors and thoughtfully there is a sink for washing up after eating this scrumptious dessert!

Found my way back to the end of the route and where I had left my car. A very nice walk. I went to all sorts of places in Stillwater that were new to me. And 5 K allowed me to finish off a 500 K book. Next time I start on a new 500 K record.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Trying to Find the Night Owls

If you got here thinking it will be about birds, sorry.

Shepard Road in front of my building is used for many races and similar activities. This past week signs suddenly appeared saying the street would be closed between 7:00 - 11:00 PM on Saturday night. I couldn't figure out what would be taking place during those hours.

Coming home yesterday afternoon I caught a glimpse of a sign saying Night Owls, so I hit the computer to Google for information.

 I learned this was to be a non-competitive bike ride of either 14 or 21 miles depending upon the chosen route and starting no earlier than 7 PM from the State Capitol Building.

My older daughter and I started out around 7:30 thinking that was the earliest we would see any bike riders about here. Perhaps we should have gone a bit earlier. There were a lot riding down Shepard towards Crosby Park.

We crossed the street to enter the small garden associated with the Science Museum.

We found late summer flowers.

Oh, and we did see a few bike riders. I think this bike ride didn't get much publicity. Too bad, it was a beautiful night for a bike ride or a walk.

Have you heard of the Polish Edison?

While visiting Tarnow this summer, I saw an exhibit about Jan Szczepanik, often called the Polish Edison.

 I must admit I'd not heard of him before.

Why should we care? Well, have you watched television today? Have you seem a film in the past few days? Have you enjoyed pictures of your family or recent vacation? All of these things are possible because of Szczepanik. In his life time Szczepanik acquired several hundred patents for his inventions, primarily in the areas of color photography, television transmission, and color films for motion pictures.

However, he also invented the first ballistic vest and was honored for this by Alfonso XII of Spain. One story says Alfonso's life was saved by the wearing of this vest.

The exhibit in Tarnow centered on the development of color photography. According to this story, Szczepanik looked at the beautiful buildings in Tarnow and wondered how those colors could be reproduced in a photograph.

 Szczepanik received a patent for the color photography process in Poland, Great Britain, and the United States. In the United States Kodak bought the rights to the process.

Szczepanik, shown above with his family, was taken from us too early by liver cancer. He died in 1926, but at least with in what was then free Poland, having been born into the Austrian-Hungarian controlled area of Poland.

It's amazing what one can learn taking a walk around town. I really enjoy how Poland museums put displays up in public spaces such as the market areas, so one can learn outdoors!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

From Europe to Minnesota

Well, a week ago I was in Amsterdam, having flown there from Warsaw. I had intended to take the train to the city central and have dinner, but I was tired when I arrived. All of us on Saturday morning complained we had not slept well. I felt like I had flown all night instead of just for two hours in the afternoon. So after checking into Citizen M -- love it by the way -- I walked back to Schipol Plaza
and had a hamburger.
It really tasted good. Notice the fries are served in a paper cone.

The next morning I flew back to Minnesota.

Oh, the fun of jet lag! I've not felt tired, but rather couldn't get back on a Minnesota schedule. I kept waking up around 3 AM unable to get back to sleep.

On Monday I took a walk around the area to see what has been  happening.

 The river is no longer at flood stage and so the fountain is running. I don't know what the fountain designer had in mind, but this always makes me think of grain moving on  conveyor belts.

The river looks beautiful, too.

As are the flower baskets.

On Thursday I went to a performance at the Showboat.

 The actors meet the audience as they arrive, dressed in 19th century clothing.

It's called the Centennial Showboat because this theater started in 1958, the year Minnesota celebrated its 100th anniversary as a state.

Meanwhile real life as intervened -- problems with my car, having to renew my nursing license, having to renew my driver's license, and getting courses ready for Fall Semester.

Monday, August 13, 2012

How Ethnocentric Can We Get?

Yesterday I flew back to Minnesota from Amsterdam. This flight was at 10:25 AM and the airport was very busy everywhere.

When I got to passport control I saw big signs for self-service passport, but this turns out to be a new innovation for those holding EU identification. So I headed for the All Passports line. By me were Americans loudly asking, "Where's the line for the USA?" I loudly answered back, "We go in the all passports line." Do some Americans really expect we get special treatment?

We don't give it. The choice for passport control here in Minnesota is for U.S citizens or visitors.

And then some were loudly complaining how slow it was. Well, I guess 4 minutes in line might seem slow, but if  you don't like it, don't travel at the very height of the vacation season. Many Europeans take vacation in August, so the lines for travel activities are long in August. Go in September if you want shorter lines.

Most Americans act like good guests. The ones who don't seem to have to do it loudly!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Huge Surprise

For two reasons -- First I wrote about the surprise and then managed to delete it. So perhaps you will think you have read this before and you may have.

Now to the real surprise.

Polish Night is a tradition of the Reymontowka Language camps. The students practice dances, make posters, and prepare presentations about Polish geography, history, and notable persons. I felt quite badly they were going through all of this work for our team of only two -- since we are both experienced volunteers and have participated in language camps several times.

Then I walked into the tent and found people I had known at previous language camps, here just for the other volunteer and me -- to give us a bit of honor for serving many times. This almost brought me to tears. One was a former camp director, now taking a bit of rest after directing summer camps for 20 years! The other were two very accomplished young men who are excellent musicians. One is a camper I have known since he was about 8 years old. What a joy to see him now nearly an adult.

We had a wonderful evening. The campers again did a version of the polonaise. You may see this on my previous entry about Polish Night with a date of July 19. The students also sang Kochem Cie Polkso and you can also see a performance of this on the July 19 blog.

When the student part of the evening's presentations were completed, we were given a treat of a short concert.  All of the above guests performed several times. What a wonderful treat.


The evening closed with Hey Skoly -- not written correctly for I have an American keyboard. I found out later this song was in the evening's activities because they remembered it as one of my favorites.
Here is part of the celebration:

What a great time. And it wasn't over. Then were guests for late evening refreshments and conversation.

This will be an evening to remember for a very long time.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Reymontowka Language Camp

Add 58 children, some counselors, staff, and we volunteers and this is where I've been for nearly the past month.

Oh, add some heat, too! This has been a very hot summer in Poland. And the woman in the video is not me!

Today I had my students first write about a city or country they would like to visit and then design a tourist poster for that place. One of my students did this for Warsaw:

 I hope this drawing the video above found on You Tube put to rest the stereotype of Poland as gray and dark place. The natural world is very beautiful, the people are wonderful, and you all should come visit or better yet volunteer at language camp. See for more information about being a language camp volunteer.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Could they have believed it?

This weekend I went to Lodz. If I had a Polish keyboard I would changed three letters in the word and then you could all understand why it's pronounced something like Woodge. But that's not the "Could they have believed" question.

The weather was perfect on Saturday and then the sun set and the air cooled so it was even more perfect. I sat along the "beach" in the Rynek within the Manufactura area watching a huge TV screen showing the 400 M swimming race at the Olympics.

It came to my mind -- the pictures in my blog entry of December 14 showing photos of the Solidarity exhibit that was in Minnesota. I remember those faces of despair looking through the shipyard gate in Gdansk and wondered if they could ever have believed a beach ion a rynek with the Olympics on the TV screen.

Poland holds surprises everywhere -- not the least a beach in a rynek! Come see for yourself!

More about Lodz when I have time. Back to teaching tomorrow morning.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Learning Adventures

For this camp session I have eight students. They have a lot of vocabulary, but don't quite know how to use it. It is rather as if someone taught students the names of the tools for a carpenter, but neglected to show the students how to use the tools.

Today I had a worksheet that directed the students to make as many words as possible out of the word, woodpecker. One of my students really struggles, but his attitude is great, and his effort is 110%. I was trying to help him get some words and gave him the word, dock. He didn't know this word, and so I asked him where the alligator is sitting. He really looked puzzled, and said, "I no understand what you are talking about." So I told him to come with me and we walked to the pond and saw this scene.
 I could almost see the light bulb come on over his head. He said, "Alligator sit on dock over water." Yes, precisely!

And in case anyone is confused, there are not alligators in the pond! This is a product of the wood carvers who add to the beauty and fun of Reymontowka.

Another thing we do is use songs and dance. After the students work hard in three classes they are ready for a different type of learning activity in the 4th session. Here is Cotton-Eye Joe. I'm so very glad we have some young teachers and counselors who can teach this. This dance is quite beyond my skills and stamina.

 I hope you enjoy it!