Thursday, June 22, 2017


This past weekend I was  in Port Wing, but since there isn't exactly a hotel in Port Wing, I stayed in Brule.  It is about 30 miles away, and there are, of course, several ways to get back and forth between the metropolises.  Of course there is the light rail shuttle or the interstate but most people travel on the beat up, hilly, deer filled Highway H.  However,  when you take this you have to slow down when you are going through the city of Oulu...

Well, not exactly.  Once a bustling Finnish village, Oulu now is far less bustling.  There is a great glass gallery, some beeves, the aforementioned deer, and a church.  I have driven by this church countless times in the past 30 years but Saturday I stopped.

This is really a sketch book, as I want to and will go back.  The church is a chapel supporting an Independent Apostolic Lutheran Church congregation, and to say it was charming is such an understatement.  That branch of Lutheranism came to the US in the 1870s and was, considering the family names prominent in area, a Finnish congregation.  Though I grew up in a largely Lutheran town, I never have heard of an Apostolic Lutheran Church.

With good reason.  There are only 55 such congregations with less than 9,000 celebrants in the United States.  The Apostolic Lutheran Church is similar to traditional Lutheran Doctrine but unless I remember incorrectly , there is another confession (the Augsburg Confessions), the Book of Concord, and another creed, the Athanasian Creed.    It has been a few years since confirmation, so perhaps I am understanding this incorrectly.  In Scandinavia, where this church is more common, they are sometimes referred to as Laestadian Movement from the minister, Lars Levi Laestadius, of course.  Certainly I am not certain about all of this--Google is a wonderful thing, but I probably should have asked the churchy-type people in my life for more and perhaps better information.

But as we all know, the church is not the building or even the name but the people.  What I found out about the people is that they take care of and are obviously proud of their church--it is clean, the lawn neatly mowed and it is neatly ordered inside.  And it is also a bit rundown.  I am guessing that church membership in Oulu is not growing, but I could also guess that its membership is getting older.

I think that the interior of the church probably reflects the order of the service.  It is a simple church, with chairs worn by years of hands and butts and the floor worn by probably more than a century of services.  A wood stove provides warmth beyond the fellowship, and no gilded alter dominants the sanctuary.   By doctrine lay-people are the leaders of the service and you can imagine and feel that.  You know, I have seen some of the great cathedrals of the world, but without a doubt this church was one of the most beautiful.

As I mentioned, this is but a sketch of a church I want to and will learn more about.  As you can see, the sky was more than threatening that day, but even the outside of this little church in the woods provided shelter.  I can't wait to learn more about this shelter.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

June 18, 2017

It is Fathers' Day, so best to all the fathers out there.  Someone asked me today to share one memory of my father and I guiltily said, let me get back to you.  It isn't like I don't have any, but it has been more than 9 Years since I last shared a Fathers' Day with him.  So I had to think, and there were many memories.  In no particular order, from just this weekend.
  • I waited for a refill of coffee at the Bear Paw Cafe in Port Wing because the coffee I had left in the cup was "just about drinking speed."  If I had heard that once, I heard it a thousand times.
  • I had a cheese omelette and don't think for a moment I didn't think of all the cheese omelettes I bought for him at Perkins.  And I had some smoked fish for a snack, something that he would have done until the 5 lbs box was empty or people got tired of the smell in the fridge and tossed it out.  I did gain a bit of smelly smoked fish moderation, I guess
  • I took a nap.  More than one, in fact.  And I have gotten the gene that allows me to fall asleep sitting down in 20 seconds.  What can I say?  It is a gift, I guess.
  • I was sitting there and my hand shook a little on my leg.  I am hopeful it wasn't for the same reasons his always did, but I watched it and wondered just a little bit.
  • I spent the whole weekend in Port Wing, all of which was made possible by my Dad and my Mom's crazy idea to buy 20 acres of land west of Port Wing in 1966.  What were they thinking?  Crazy people!
  • And I was crazy enough to celebrate that and just sit in the woods and just wonder about all this and more.
I am not an overly sentimental person, nor am I, sometimes to my great regret, close to my family.  But this weekend I felt close to my dad.  But realized how unsure I was about those memories and that is OK.  The omelette and the naps and the woods and the coffee were all good and I think that was a good start.

Pictures are from around Port Wing.  Please click on them to make them bigger and sharper.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Fall to spring

As you know from previous posts, I sometimes still shoot film now and again.  I love the "feel" of the cameras as they mostly metal and the older lenses on film produce another "feel" that I can see, and, well, feel.  The challenge with film, especially color film, is that it takes longer to finish a roll and get it developed.  Note that these pictures include fall and spring--it is hardly an immediate process.

Pay particular attention to the square photos.  I have always liked that format and perspective and I am enjoying thinking in 6CMX6CM views.  Most of the photos are self-explanatory but if you have questions, just ask.  As always, click on the photos to see them more bigger!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

We gather together...

This has been a week of gathering together, and that will continue through the weekend.  The week started out in Charleston, South Carolina, where a group of like-minded individuals gathered to talk about what for some would be just work stuff.  This conference gathered people together to learn about new and better ways to help our students persist and be more successful on their college pathways.  No matter the reason, the gathering of bright, committed, and passionate people who care about students is always recharging for me.

I also just appreciated the time away.  I haven't had any time off since December beyond the usual holidays, and that has kept me close to home.  Charleston is a beautiful city, and it shows its 300+ years of history as you walk the streets.  It has taken even more of a gloss as one of the South's gems.  Great things to see, wonderful shopping, terrific places to eat, and really, it is like a history text.  Fort Sumter, the harbor, and almost every street has at least a few historical markers.  Of course if you have  traveled with me anywhere in the world, you know that I read everyone of them.

That history also was troubling to me.  Underneath this beauty is an ugly past.  Walking past a slave market is not something that you can forget, nor should you.  Knowing that until a year ago the Confederate flag was part of the State flag is yet another reminder of an ugly past.  And knowing that until a white supremacist murdered nine Black citizens of the city in a church that this symbol of the segregationist, racist South was removed did take some of the shine off of the city.  Truly it was a contradictory city, both beautiful and terrible.

This was a week of gathering together at work as well.  It appears that I was able to hire the first two employees of the grant that I direct, so that is progress.  Other meetings also showed that for ever one or two steps we take forward we sometimes take three or four steps backward but that is par for the course.  I think I will celebrate the steps forward.

Today was the culmination of gathering together in a way that the Dutch theologian and ditty writer  Adrianus Valerius probably did not have in his mind when he wrote the popular hymn in 1597.  After a successful hunt for a fish and chips joint, The Anchor, in the Northeast Neighborhood in Minneapolis, we found an Slovakian/Ecuadorian Catholic church that was just preparing to bless the food baskets of the parish. Valerius wrote the hymn to celebrate a military victory that kept others out of Northern Europe, but this church has found a way to celebrate and welcome all those who have come to the neighborhood.  What a moving ceremony, one filled with children and families of many different cultures and countries.  And who wouldn't like a church service where they bless the wine?  That is a positive step in my book.

Tomorrow the world celebrates Christianity's holiest day.  Tuesday Passover ends with another gathering and celebration, and the Muslim holiday of Ramadan follows in May.  In this world where you actually can have a Slovakian=Ecuadorian church with all that this means, I hope that we can gather (peacefully) together to continue to learn and celebrate in the days and months ahead.

Monday, March 6, 2017

More basketball

Once again, the DCTC basketball team won, though this one was a little closer.  Playing the United Tribes Technical College of Bismark, ND, they won by a handful before a sort of full Inver Hills Community College Arena.  OK, it is a gym, and there were only about 75 people in the stands, but they won.  They aren't done with the qualifying for the national championship game as they play in Illinois or Nebraska later in the week.  The college president was on-hand to award the DCTC couch the "Coach of the Year" award, and #5 was the MVP of the regional championship.