Poetry 11-30 G-gold-1

golden sunrise

in my eyes

sky’s ablaze

with magic rays

gold medal day

is under way

spring stands still

air is chill

sun is warm

will soon transform

lift our moods

winter concludes

Poetry 11-30 G-gold-2

 

 

Poetry 6-30 B-branch-1

bracing wind bare tree
branches vie for attention
nothing left to give

bare tree branches wave
against the sky become free
slice a rift in air

waving branch believes
she answers to no one else
now embraces sky

 

 

poetry 3-30 three bars

Through three blue bars

the world is white and wonderful

The sky sneezes snowflakes

in a cold that continues to cling

Nature refuses to be nudged nearer to normal

and the brightness of the blanket blinds us bit by bit

Why winter won’t wither away?

 

Two Days of Snow (2/30)

April 4, 2018

poetry 2-30 two days snow

Two days of snow in April

is not what you’d expect.

It’s true it’s Minnesota

but even we are allowed to have spring.

 

Two-times-ten degrees colder

than what we were expecting.

Yes, it’s Minnesota,

but even we are allowed to have spring.

 

One optimistic robin singing in the snow

is one more than I expected.

Hope sits in a tree in Minnesota.

I’m convinced we will have spring.

 

 

Winter weather, whoa!

April 11, 2013

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Spring has not sprung. I was willing to overlook the fact that I wore longjohns and a parka to the Minnesota Twins baseball season opener. I don’t even mind that I can’t wear shorts yet—though many break them out as soon as the temperature hits 40F/5C. This is Minnesota, after all.

Mother Nature teased us with mild daytime highs last week. They were a little below average but still warm enough for people to wear shorts and to inspire me to drag my bicycle out of the storage room. It was an exciting development to pedal to work for the first time in months. After work I stopped at the local bike shop to enquire about a spring tune-up. I was told of my bike’s immanent demise, that I would be lucky if the thing didn’t fall apart right under me, and that with the labor and parts for the required complete overhaul, it would be less than $100 more to just purchase a new one. But I digress.

My friend Jon is hardcore and bikes everywhere all year. Even he was optimistic enough about the weather to make the switch from his winter beater bike to his nicer summer ride.

None of this was meant to be. The temperature went back down to around freezing and for days we listened to dire predictions about a late winter storm. Yesterday the drizzle began. Jon showed up on (I think he said) his wife’s beater bike because he had stored his already. An Instagram friend lamented that he’d have to switch the summer wheels on his car back to the winter. People do that? Another friend, Brad, was not looking forward to his #30DaysOfBiking ride after he got home last night.

I had been keenly radar-watching all day. The system was moving very slowly and Minneapolis was above freezing. I brashly predicted that the forecasts of six to twelve inches of snow would not materialize, that it wouldn’t be nearly that bad. I’d had a meteorology class in college in 1983, after all. Were you even born then? You would have seen me walking my dinosaur.

By the time I went to bed, the radar had bloomed. I knew I’d wake up to whiteness in the morning. I did.

ImageFortunately, the temperature hasn’t been spending much time below freezing. There were about 3 inches/8 cm of slushy snow on my sidewalk and it was raining snow. On the radio, the traffic updates reported slick entrance and exit ramps, and “too many spin-outs to mention them all.” I knew that in downtown Minneapolis where I live and work, things would be sloppy but the urban heat island effect would preclude too much slipperiness. What I wasn’t expecting to hear was that light rail trains were not in service because of ice build-up. In the eight winters that I’ve lived where I can use the light rail, I’ve never heard of service being suspended for any weather-related reason. Metro Transit does a nice job with the rail line. And really, the buses, too.

I personally was not put out by this storm. I don’t drive my car very much, and I certainly don’t drive it to work. I train, bus, bike, walk. I got to work this without too much inconvenience, except for having to wait while the Brothers Deli cooked my breakfast because I failed to phone ahead.

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“Look closely ….. that’s the amount of rain we received last year June through October.” Photo by Bossy Acres. They grow organic vegetables. Get some this summer.

Sure, I might wish for milder temperatures and dry roads so that I can continue riding my dilapidated bicycle. But let’s all of us put aside the selfishness of our personal comfort and conditions for a moment and think about the bigger picture. Though it sucks to get a major snowstorm in April, for sure (and let’s face it, if it were 50F/10C and had been raining for a week, we’d still be whining), let’s remember the inconvenient fact that since last summer, Minnesota is in drought. Our late snowfalls and slow temperature warm-up are a boon for the farmers who put food on our tables. The slower melt reduces flood risk, which means more of the water can be absorbed into the ground rather than just running off. In a couple of months when you’re walking around your local farmers market in your Crocs with your wild children, you’ll be thankful.

Ahem.

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“Priority parking shoveled out.” Photo by Harriet Brewing. They make Belgian-style beers. Go drink some.

This is Minnesota. If you’re going to live here, you must have a sense of humor about the weather, whatever it is and whenever it’s occuring. Just look at this photo posted by local brewery Harriet Brewing. They know people like Jon will still be out on their bikes, even in these shit conditions. This too shall pass.

Watertower_weather

I feel like I might have mentioned this before in my blogging life, but I’m really glad that the desk I sit at for eight hours a day affords me a window view. And I’ve been having lots of fun with that view via my #watertowerweather series on Instagram.

This I know I’ve mentioned, that at one point in college, I was a meteorology major until the actual science got in the way. But my fascination with the weather has never waned. My work window faces the direction from which the weather comes and Instagram has been providing an outlet for the ever changing views that I’m privy to. In addition, a building in that view has a throwback watertower on the roof, and that has become the framing device for my Instagram photos.

Media_httpspydersdenf_wgghw

As I am writing this, I have going on the television Part 1 of the new Ken Burns documentary, “The Dust Bowl.” I was going to turn it off because, though the photos are dramatic, I haven’t heard anything in the narration that isn’t depressing or despairing, and that’s depressing and despairing. But then I decided that I should leave it on (even if it is uncomfortable) and perhaps add a crumb to my woefully lacking knowledge of American history, particularly from the last one hundred years. I learn a little about the World Wars from the shows on Masterpiece Theatre, but that’s not from an American perspective.

One of the women interviewed for the program, who was a child at the time, related that they knew that “we were being visited by Oklahoma today or we were being visited by New Mexico today” because the dirt from each place was a different color. (1)

Dustbowl_jackrabbit_cull

There was also a “plague of rabbits” when their natural coyote predators were wiped out, The landowners would round up the jackrabbits and cull them, pretty much by grabbing them and clubbing their heads. I perked up when I heard the rabbits part but was rather repulsed by the footage of what happened subsequently. (2)

The Dust Bowl program put in perspective my recreational and harmless views out my office window. The approaching weather is certainly dramatic sometimes, particularly in the summer (especially that one time when a nascent tornado passed across our building), but it will never be the horror of an approaching “black blizzard.”

(1) Dust storm photo is from spydersden’s blog article, which provides a good, short overview of the crisis.

(2) Jackrabbit images are screen captures from the Ken Burns PBS documentary “The Dust Bowl.” I suspect it’s all public domain footage, but I’ll cite it anyway.

Weather without you

July 14, 2012

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With all of the bike riding I do (by which I mean my eighteen-year span of bike-commuting to work), you’d think that I’d have had some bad luck with the weather at some point but I haven’t. I ride during the not-cold season, which for my personal tolerance of conditions here in Minnesota means when the temperature is above freezing and below 95F/35C. I used to bike through the winter down to about 15F/-10C but I’ve gotten soft in my old age. For eleven years, my commute distance was 2.75 miles. For the last seven years it has been a mere 1.75, a paltry twelve minutes of my time.

One thing that has never put me off from biking to work is rain in the forecast. As long as it’s dry in the morning, I don’t care what’s going on for the ride home. My general guide as to whether it’s raining too hard to embark on my homeward journey is car windshield wipers. If they’re only on intermittent then I’m good to go. In addition, my office windows look out to the direction from which the weather approaches. And thanks to iPhone and the WeatherBug Elite app I can zoom in on the radar, practically down to my block. Plus, I was a meteorology major for a term in college. These are all fine qualifications, right?

What I’m sort of trying to say is that there aren’t usually too many surprises. That’s not to say that I’ve never gotten wet because I have; sometimes I make an informed choice to set off even though I know it’s likely that the approaching stormfront will have its way with me. Such was the case this afternoon.

I’ve gone both ways. Sometimes I’ll hang out at the office (or a nearby bar, ahem) for an extra while to wait things out. But other times—especially if it’s after 4:30pm aka close enough to quitting time—I’ll boldly inform my boss that I’m leaving NOW.

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Today it could easily have gone either way. For most of the time it was pretty clear and sunny (and hot). We were dedicatedly working away on a Friday afternoon when we noticed—at exactly the aforementioned 4:30 no less—that there was doom and gloom on the near-horizon where previously there had been none. Three of us were on bikes. We lost all ability to focus on work and instead obsessed with looking out the windows and snapping photos to post on Instagram.

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Initially, I assessed that the rain was moving in quickly and that the line would pass quickly. I resolved to stay at the office for what I figured would be about an extra half hour. But then it got to be 5:00 and nothing had happened yet. That’s really close enough to bail out on the situation, especially on a Friday!

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It was like the storm decided to play chicken with me as soon as it realized I had decided to leave that instant. In the time it took me to stuff my things into my backpack I could see that the line of rain had barreled up to within about a half mile (a perk of being on the 11th floor). I should have sat back down but it was 5:00 on Friday. I would be traveling in same direction as the storm. The strong tailwind would help me ride fast. I took the gamble.

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It was already spitting when I exited the building. A block into the ride while I waited for a red light, it started raining in earnest. There was a building with a lovely, wide overhang across the street and I briefly made a move in that direction. Then I decided that it was hot enough, that the rain actually felt refreshing and wasn’t too annoying thanks to the visor on my bike helmet, and that it was only for ten minutes. I pedaled on, lightning be damned.

By the next stoplight the rain had let up already and I was glad I hadn’t wimped out. But by the next light it was raining hard again and I got to experience something I never have in all my years of bike-commuting—I got hailed on.

Luckily the hail was only pea-sized and the rain never went all the way to torrential. That’s not to say that a few of the hailstones didn’t sting when they hit my hands and legs, or that I didn’t get soaked. They did and I did. But after I got home and changed into dry clothes, I took comfort in engaging in two things that I love to do—sitting outside on my steps (or in my doorway alcove in this case because it was still sprinkling) and writing a blog entry, both made better with a refreshing beer in hand (Stone IPA in this case)!

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Aside #1: If it’s not lime green I don’t use it. You think I’m joking.

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Aside #2: I was visited by Molly the neighbor cat. She is a gorgeous and friendly beast.

Oh no, no snow!

March 10, 2012

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It obviously doesn’t come as a shock to anyone that we’ve had a mild winter this year. As you may recall (and if you don’t, please review here), last winter was quite a different story.

I don’t do a lot of necessary driving in my car, so snow or no snow it’s not usually too much of a deal to me. Having said that, it kind of seems like when it does snow, three out of four times it’s on a bowling night. But maybe that’s just me being overly sensitive because I don’t do a lot of necessary driving and when I do drive, it’s noticeable when the conditions are less than optimal.

Regardless, my party line is that if it’s going to be cold, I think it should snow. But this year, I don’t even get that. It hasn’t been cold and it hasn’t snowed. We’ve had about three inches altogether so far. Okay, that’s an exaggeration. We’ve had about ten. I haven’t looked it up but I think that’s pretty close to the truth.

Last night I dreamed that I was biking over the crest of the Rocky Mountains. Though it was Todd with whom I had been discussing biking every day in April and he mentioned he was “Riding the Rockies” in June—May?—June?—May?—you’re not missing the Small Batch Revival, are you?—it was actually Jon, Christine, and Chris who were my cycling companions in my dream. And it wasn’t the Rockies, but a mash-up of Rib Mountain in Wausau, Wisconsin (okay, Granite Peak, whatever), and Lutsen Mountain up Duluth, Minnesota-way. It was “Riding the Rockies,” but all I wanted to do was get to a roadside motel, such as the Big Orange Moose place in Black River Falls, Wisconsin, and have a Hacker-Pschorr, which I enjoyed when I got stranded in Mauston, Wisconsin, last year.

But I digress.

The point is, it has been unseasonably warm this year. That’s something you’re probably almost as sick of hearing about as the running commentary on the “front-runner” in the Republican presidential-nominee circus. 

I continue to digress.

Because of the warm temperatures, when I heard about a bike-every-day-in-April challenge I thought, oh, I can easily do that. In the non-winter season I do bike to work every day, and the challenge will get me out on the weekends, too. Though I prefer to walk home from work because it’s a very relaxing interlude, I can’t overlook the time savings of riding my bike both in the morning, when I would catch a ride on the light rail or the Number 7, and in the afternoon when it’s thirty-five minutes for the walk versus ten for the bike ride. Also, the downtown-traversing bike ride is a whole lot more stressful. But, because of the warm temperatures this year, I anticipate that I’ll start biking earlier, such as in April. Or on Monday.

Look at this forecast for the next week. Tomorrow I will take my bike over to the neighborhood shop and top off the air in the tires. How can I resist the lure of these temperatures?

Snow emergency? This whole winter has been a false alarm.

Snow_forecastf_blog

 

Snow_forecastc_blog

Laundry socks, er, sucks

October 9, 2011

Appreciatesmallthing_tweak

I hate doing laundry but at least I have clean socks again. I ran out on Thursday. More specifically, I ran out of white socks. You see, it has been unseasonably mild for a Minnesota early fall. The daily high temperature has been over 80°F/27°C for close to a week. That means it’s still shorts weather, and shorts mean white socks. Fortunately because it’s so warm, I could wear sandals for a couple of days and it wasn’t a big deal. But I’m kind of done wanting to look at my toes for the season, so I’m glad to have clean socks again.

I have enough socks (of all colors) and underwear to keep me going for weeks. I have so much because I hate doing laundry and wish to avoid it as much as possible. I know that in the end, whether I do a load a week or wait until running out of socks and/or underwear finally forces me to do four loads on one day, the amount of laundry is the same. And I don’t even mind the washer and dryer part so much. But I absolutely loath the folding and putting away. There again, if I did more frequent loads it might not seem like such a monumental challenge and I might think more kindly toward it. 

But that doesn’t seem to be how my brain works. I will consume a Saturday or Sunday with multiple loads and then fold in the evening while I’m watching a movie or Masterpiece Theater (sorry, PBS, I haven’t gotten used to how you now call it Masterpiece Classic, Masterpiece Mystery, and Masterpiece Contemporary). I feel good because I’m multitasking rather than just sitting and watching the tube.

At least I don’t have to travel to communal laundry room. Shortly after I moved into my condo, someone else moved out and sold me his old Sears Kenmore portable washer and dryer. I wheel the washer over to my kitchen sink and connect a hose to a special faucet attachment and I’m good to go. The dryer vents through a reticulated, wide hose to a box with about an inch of water in the bottom to trap lint and vents on the top to release the air. I like laundry day in the winter because my furnace nor my humidifier have to work as hard. 

Having the washer and dryer in my unit saves me from having to pass four doors each way every with every visit to the laundry room. I’m sure my appliances aren’t the most energy efficient, but I sure consider that $50 to be well-spent. I don’t even care about all the quarters I’ve not had to scrounge. I just adore the convenience, since I hate the task.

So that nice, clean pair of socks is now upon my feet, and I’m heading out with toes safely concealed in shoes.

Earliestmemory_thennow_blog

These two photos are the earliest and latest ones I have of myself. What has happened in between? Funny you should ask. Let’s take a look.

Ages ½–10

I’d swear I remember when the baby picture was taken. I have other toddler memories, such as what the kitchen in our first house in Manteno, Illinois, looked like. Yellow and floral.

We spent many summers in Bloomington, Indiana, while my dad worked on his PhD at Indiana University. He finished the work but his committee denied him of the degree.

To this day I have dreams that involve the house on Main Street in Ada, Ohio, where I grew up. I’d love to get back inside that house for a look. I remember listening to Winnie-the-Pooh and Peter and the Wolf records in the living room on our big, console stereo. It was a big deal when I got to operate it myself. We moved to a different house when I was eight.

Ages 11–20

Our new house was a block inside city limits. Most of the time I’d walk or bike to school, but if I wanted to ride the schoolbus, I walked over to Grandview Boulevard.

I spent countless hours in the city swimming pool. I spent countless hours playing Kick the Can with the neighborhood kids. I crashed my friend’s brand new bike that I rode around while she was inside eating supper. There was a horse at the end of the block, where the town suddenly turned into the country. There was a woods at the end of the block that seemed very big at the time. In it there was a treehouse.

We moved to Wisconsin two days before I turned fifteen. During the first year, my sophomore year in high school, it was novel and fun and not completely awful because it was to the small city where my grandparents lived and I already had a couple of friends. Then in my junior year, I grew to resent having been plucked from where I had grown up. I became a troubled teen. I stayed out all night one time without communicating with my parents. I broke up with my boyfriend which upset my parents who liked him a lot. Their reaction was very formative. I considered dropping out of high school.

I worked as a professional radio deejay.

I graduated high school.  I started college. I dropped out of college.

I moved out of the house. I moved into the house.

I went back to college. I dropped out of college.

I moved out of the house. I moved into the house. I still have nightmares that for one reason or the other, I have been forced to move back in with my parents at my current age with my youth issues, such as no boys in my bedroom.

Ages 21–30

I started technical college. I transferred technical colleges. I dropped out of technical college.

I moved out of the house. I went back to college. I dropped out of college. Rinse and repeat.

I moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota, to go back to college. I finished college! My mom proudly told a friend that I was graduating at age twenty-six. Her friend asked what my PhD was in. Sadly, it was just my bachelor’s degree, in English, after eight years.

I went to Europe for the first time on a trip with my parents that was a graduation present.

I worked for a year at a job that was pretty dead-end but which got me lots of promotional copies of albums on cassette. I decided to go to graduate school.

I moved to Madison, Wisconsin, to go to the University of Wisconsin for meteorology. I learned that a boy who had been one of my best friends growing up and who also went to Wisconsin for meteorology was, in fact, gay and that we’d never have that chance to get together that I had been denied when my parents ripped me away at age fifteen.

I flunked out of graduate school when I failed calculus for the second time. I began to get serious about bowling.

I went to the local technical college, Madison Area Technical College, and met Chris Gargan. I graduated with my commercial art degree and have been a graphic designer ever since.

Ages 31–40

I moved back to Minneapolis. I worked through a temp agency and met my two best friends, Jim and California Rob. I became employed at my current position which I’ve held for over sixteen years. Oh my goodness, I began to grow up!

I became a published author, though not in the way I imagined as a kid. But my name now appears in the Library of Congress, so that’s something.

I went to the United Kingdom for the first time and fell in love with it. I realized that London is my soulmate. I will live there someday.

I got more serious about my bowling.

Age 41–present

Along with other spending, all of my trips to England contributed to my declaring personal bankruptcy. I learned that it’s not actually that difficult, in the big scheme of things, to live without credit. Except for being deprived of more trips to England.

I kept getting more serious about my bowling. People think I’m joking when I say I take three balls with my to league. The people who are really serious take six or eight.

California Rob moved to California. Jim got married. Possibly in the opposite order. I began my descent into curmudgeonhood.

Oddly, still in my bankruptcy, I was able to procure a mortgage and buy my first home, a condominiumized apartment. Gotta start somewhere. The housing market tanked. I am stuck unless I want to take a significant loss in my selling price.

I began to develop my love of craft beer. I hate saying “craft beer” because it’s such a buzz-term right how. But if more people like it, more will be made and that’s not a bad thing. My gateway beers were Bell’s Oberon and the local Summit Extra Pale Ale.

I have slowly and surely been gaining weight.

Last night, I picked up a twelve-pack of Summit’s Silver Anniversary Ale. Then I went to the preseason meeting for my Monday bowling league. Then I stopped at a bar that had a firkin of a special, grapefruit-infused version of Odell Brewing St. Lupulin Extra Pale Ale, a current favorite of mine. I was chit-chatting with the young patrons on either side of me about beers in general and India Pale Ales (my preferred variety) in particular. My bartender asked me—almost accusingly, as though I were a spy for a distributor—who I worked for. When I said a small graphic design company, he blinked and said, “You know a lot about beer.”

That made me feel really good.

Tonight, I enjoyed some of that Summit Silver Anniversary Ale.