Sunday, November 27, 2016

Family, fog, and other things

This was a good weekend and even memorable.  I was part of a fantastic Thanksgiving dinner with the bestest of friends and their family--a family that I am blessed to feel a tiny bit part of.  It was a bit different, though, with THREE different kinds cranberry relish.  They were not bad, and every one had polite mouthfuls of each.  I guess I am still confused on why people would have different kinds when the best, and the kind which a higher power has deemed the most authentic (that would be the kind that is jellied and comes from a can) was already on the table?

A more rare occasion was the gathering of the Tetzloff clan.  All four siblings made it to one spot at the same time for the first time in eight years.  While some families are aghast at this, ours unfortunately seems to just shrug and say, "Huh.  Eight years.  Wow."  I found that I, unlike my other siblings, have not aged at all and clearly I alone have maintained my very slim and athletic youthful figure.  We have all aged a bit, but have done well at it, and it was nice to share a meal with those that shared the table as we grew up.

Today was  very foggy and well worth a walk for photos.  It really was beautiful and very different than just a few days ago.  Ahh, Minnesota weather.  Give it a few hours and it will change.  One is of the same sidewalk/street that I took with snow.  Another series shows why you need to be patient and take more than one photo of a scene.  I love the woman and the dog, and people do add to photos.  There are a few frost-rimed leaves and flower thingies.  They aren't great, but if I didn't put them in a blog, how could I have used the word "rimed" in a blog.  That is almost triple word points, isn't it?

Oh, I almost forgot--there is one other thing.  I am gainfully employed once again.  Now that is good news.  I am working for several community colleges in the metro area directing a $3.2 million dollar grant.  There goes the leisure of my self-imposed (and unpaid) sabbatical, but I am pretty comfortable with the timing.  This was a definite Thanksgiving gift, as this was not finalized until last Wednesday afternoon.   That took a wee bit of stress out of my life and I am looking forward to this next adventure.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016


Happy whatever, I guess. 

I hope some will be happy with the Thanksgiving holiday and for whatever that means to and for you and yours. 

I hope that you will be happy with friends and loved ones, the people who make your life fun/exciting/safe/sane/crazy/calm and worth living. 

I hope you are happy because you are meeting most of Maslow's hierarchy need benchmarks and that you are safe and warm and have food to eat.

I hope you are happy because you received a smile from a stranger or because you were able to give a smile (or more) to someone who perhaps needed just that smile to feel appreciated.

This has been a hard year in many ways, sometimes for us personally but also I think for the group of individuals who make up our community, our country, and our world.  We have spent way too much time pointing out differences (and heaven knows that there are differences, some good and some more challenging) than we have pointing out and working on our common interests, goals, and needs. 

If I had a Thanksgiving wish, I would wish for that.  It would make me happy.

Happy Thanksgiving, in all its possible meanings.

Snow pictures from early this morning.  I have figured out that one side of my Street is an "early morning street, with all sidewalks shoveled by 7:15.  The other side not so much--not a flake was disturbed.

Friday, November 18, 2016

I suppose this means that the growing season is over...

We are in the midst of somewhat of a blizzard  though a bit less so in the Twin Cities.  As befitting our urban softness, we only are getting a few inches while those hardier folk west and north of us are getting up to a foot.  It is still a bit blustery and, frankly,  a rude end to warm fall.  Mind you, it was 62 degrees yesterday afternoon.  That is fine--I am sure that we will see temperatures in the 60s in five or six months...

I could do better, but I would have had be out in the weather a bit longer, but here you go.  It snowed. 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

On the matter of 50,049 views...

This blog began about 9 years ago, and amazingly after all that time more than 50,000 hapless viewers have wandered onto this blog.  No doubt that some of the views have been mine--I always have to check to see if the blog looks OK after it is published, so say 600 and so of those views are mine.

Still, this is a milestone of some sort, though I doubt that it will deserve a roadside marker.  This blog has chronicled victories and defeats, high points and low points and it really is a version of the story of my last 9 years, from Ohio to Washington to Minnesota to Michigan and back to Minnesota.  From friends that were and from friends that are no longer.  From semi-coherent thoughts to thoughts that, in retrospect, maybe even captured the moment.  I recently re-read most of the postings.  I cried.  I laughed.  But mostly I thought, "huh, that is what I was thinking at that point in time..."

I have, no doubt, thought more than I have said over these past years, (thank heavens)  but I am also sure that I have said more than I should on some occasions.  I apologize for both extremes--I have certainly been cryptic at times, though mostly to protect myself and others.  And I have probably written some posts which probably seemed too lightly veiled.  Damn.  That middle ground is often hard to find, and I do apologize.

Recently I have had to cull and edit my Iphoto and Photo libraries.  Even in this version of my laptop I had more than 55,000 photos, and my Mac was at capacity.  It groaned if I wanted to save or import anything.  If you might imagine, I deleted more than 40,000 photos!  What is scary is that I did not hesitate to hit that delete button.  Most were duplicates and most were easily replaced if I ever might want, say, a picture of a flower.  Ooh.  Can you imagine how hard and unlikely that it might be that I would take a photo of a flower?  Imagine.  The overwhelming feeling was "what a bunch of crap!"  It reminds of what Tom Miller, one of the best history profs that I have ever had once said.  He said, "most books should be articles, and most articles should be lectures."  I suppose the lectures could be blog posts with photos--moments in time, but pretty certainly not worth keeping.  So I did hit the delete.  Twice, and those of you who have Macs know that what that means.

I have found this blob or blot or blog useful to me.  As an introvert, sometimes this is my only public face or my only face in public.  Too often I ruminate alone, and this space makes me think (and be) more publicly minded to sometimes all of our cost.  But it is important, and I so appreciate the comments from the 11 or so people who might occasionally visit this space.   What can I say?  Here is to the next 50,000 views!

The flowers?  Because I said we should all buy flowers just because since November 9th.  I have said that I have been buying and selling cameras like crazy and here is some of the evidence.  Five Hasselblads (look them up) have ended up in lap and 8 or so Leicas.  I marvel at them and use them, but they are mostly for Ebay fodder to help pay the rent.  They do, on occasion, make/take a pretty picture.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Urban lunar photography

The so-called "Super Moon."  Apparently it is the biggest it will be for 70 years.  There is a slight banding, but it is not from any new features of the moon, but rather because I couldn't figure out how to shoot this without some power lines in the way.  I can tell also that I am shooting a cold sky over warm ground and houses because you can almost see the heat distortion.  Taken with a Leitz 560mm f5.6 lens on a Canon 70d, so an effective focal length of 840mm. 

Now for something completely different

I am sitting here writing this in my local coffee shop (I am sorry, that is not precise enough--I mean, the coffee shop that is a mere 200 yards away from my house.  Did I mention that I live that close to a coffee shop?) while I should be working, but I am distracted.

The first thing that distracts me is that I am sitting right next to a very, very, real, live princess, complete with a pink gown, a tiara, and of course, a wand.  As if the visual evidence wasn't enough, she told me (loudly, in a somewhat un-princess like voice) several times that she was a very real princess. As far as I know princesses, she was very nice and she did bring the "old" king and queen with her so they could have a treat.  Of course I was distracted.  Who wouldn't be?   Did you see a real live princess this morning at your coffee shop?  Did you?

I was also distracted because I was thinking of my adventures of last night.  I went and took photos of a Minnesota Rollergirls Roller Derby bout.  I saw the flyer for this highly anticipated sporting event, underwent the careful vetting process to gain photo access, and went to very Roy Wilkins auditorium and shot the bout.  It was different, that is for sure.  I understand the rules for the most part though I am not sure of how penalties were assessed or what all of the whistles were for as it is a simple enough concept.  Essentially, you support one member of your team, the one with a star on her helmet, as she goes through and around members of the other team.  You apparently earn points based on the number of opposing players that you are able to skate by or through or over.  At the same time you have to stop the woman of the other team with the star on her helmet by any means possible.  Well, not any means--that apparently is what the penalties are for.  Of course an added  challenge is that you are doing this while you are skating very fast on a small oval track.  See?  Simple.

Did I mention that this is a full contact sport?  The helmet should have given that away.  So, shod only with a helm, elbow and knee pads, and fearlessness, around and around they go. Some wore less, some wore more which added to the interest and the individuality of the teams.  Think about it--when was the last time you observed a full contact sporting event where some of the contestants were wearing garters and hose?  It happened here, folks, and sometimes never had so much been covered by so little tattered nylon and spandex.

 The players (the derby-ists?) range in size from a speedy, slight punt returner to a healthy line-person--on four-inch skates some towered above me and blocked the light and who ever else was in their way.  But every one  to a skater was polite and happy as they whizzed by me at the end of the bout.  Most of the women were out front greeting fans, especially the young ones, and they helped in the booths and passed out the programs.  This is a player-owned league, and they were all involved.

I am not sure that it will make regular rotation on ESPN, but why not?  It isn't any sillier than trying to put various sized balls into various sizes of holes or trying to hit a ball 30% of the time or watching men with helmets push a ball up and down a field.  No other sporting event  that I know of has players that were so engaged and focused on putting on a good show.  And none of those other sports have players wearing garters and hose while they bash into and claw past the defensive scrum.  Well, at least that you can see. 

As for the photos, a poor attempt.  The last sporting event that I shot was basketball almost three years ago and it shows.  Even more so this requires way more technical skill than I am used to--look at my previous blog posts to confirm that.  Flowers and trees and puppy dogs and all other cute things that I shoot require less technical skill.  There are a few that are OK, though, and perhaps some of the gladiators pictured can swipe them.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Longest growing season ever and other stories

Minneapolis has had its longest growing season ever this year.  With more than 210 days since its last frost, we have enjoyed the longest "summer" every and an absolutely amazing fall.  The colors have been amazing and some leaves are still hanging on.  Honestly a few are just now turning!  Flowers have endured as well--the photo of the daisies was taken yesterday.  The average date of the first frost is almost always before October 1st but we have yet to have a freeze in Minneapolis.  It is funny, but the stout Norwegian stock around here is worried about this.  Certainly we will have to pay later for all this pleasure, won't we?  Really, let's feel guilty about warmth and sunshine in November.  Can't have too much fun, can we?

I, on the other hand, think that we deserve this for enduring the longest election season ever.  I figure about 18 months of pure negative energy.  I, like others I know, am sapped of energy just from all those negative ads and memes and and and.  Added to that was my involvement in all of this--I donated I helped I watched I argued and kept up with all of this at some cost to myself.  Engagement is good and I generally recommend it, but it can be expensive and I think that we got the bill for this early Wednesday morning.  I am spent.

To say that the election did not go the way that 51% of all voters wanted it to  (thanks Electoral College!) would be somewhat of an understatement.  My FB feed and in box was filled with statements of "Oh no!" and questions of "what do we do??!!"  That question in particular has plagued  me and millions of others these past few days.  Indeed, what do we do?

Few of us can leave, and let's be honest.  Have you been to Canada in January?  Have you seen all the bugs/spiders/snakes/animals/sharks that can kill you in Australia?  Besides, I doubt that they are really looking and hoping for American refugees.  It is tempting, though, to think about it.  The Canadian Prime Minister is at least is not a color that doesn't appear in nature. 

I am scared, and I think I am not the only person who is somewhere on the scared spectrum, from mild "I wonder how that will work" to closer to scared poop-less.  And I do believe that we all should be somewhere on that spectrum.

But it simply cannot let it dominate our hearts and minds.  I have thought a lot about what would help me cope and I have some ideas, and I do welcome any other ideas that people can or will share.  Below are my coping mechanisms.
1.  I will continue to be an American citizen, a responsible American citizen, and be engaged in the process, even when at the end the day I carry a faint "odour" from the process.  Being an American is sometimes messy and smelly  so we can see the good things that grow from all the hard work. 
2.  I will remember that this country has endured more than 240 years with good and bad captains at the helm.  I mean it when I say that there have been some really really bad captains!  The historian in me knows this and rather than focus on one challenging instance of leadership, I will focus on the long term potential and strengths of the process and indeed, the overall success of this country and its people.  We will get through this.
3.  I will try and remember what I learned even before second grade:  Be nice to one another.  Listen to one another. Share.  Don't yell.  Find a friend.  Help each other. If you fight, fight fair, and forgive even more easily.  Enjoy nap time.  Listen to the teacher but ask questions.  Go to bed early.  Sing, even if you can't do it all that well.  Find time for recess.  Read books, not comics. 
4.  I will do more of some things.  I will be an artist even if my art won't make it on most people's fridge.  I will listen to more music.  I will explore more, even it is just my neighborhood or at local restaurants.  I will read more books, and some might be even not just on a Kindle.  I will read and write more (bad) poetry.   I will buy more flowers and burn more candles, just because.   I will try my best to keep an open mind but more importantly, to help those as I can who might be even more scared or are being left behind as we move through this transition.
5.  I will be doing less of some things.  I want to keep engaged but I don't always need the news on or my news alerts turned up quite so high on my phone or computer.  Since I will be so busy doing all the things in point four, I will not have time to focus on the news cycle.
6.  I will try and remember that politics and change is ultimately local. Trump has to change the course of a huge ship, and he doesn't have all the controls nor does he know what he is doing.  My local "ship" is a rowboat.  I can make a difference and I can foster change and progress that really can positively affect people.  And hopefully, in this local process, this less smelly local process, the idea of change will catch on.

I am guardedly optimistic.  If previous idiot presidents have not ruined this country, I can only hope that this one won't either,  We all got to vote in an historic election and we all have to endure and persevere the next few years.  I am certainly not saying it will be easy or fun no matter which side of the aisle you were supporting.  But perspective gives me hope, as does  the absolute belief that more than 51% of the people care more about the people they encounter everyday than the slogans or memes that drove this election.

I hope.

The photos are clean up photos from the past few weeks.  Click to make them larger.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

On the cusp of color

It is fall, of that there is no doubt.  I woke up to a temperature of 35 degrees, a temp that I felt even more because my bedroom windows were wide-open.  Thank heavens for a great down comforter, but let's agree that I stepped lively once I jumped out of my warm shower!

Fall colors, the reds, oranges, and yellows that indicate the season have been reluctant to show themselves in my neighborhood and I am not sure why.  It is kind of funny as everyone has a reason why they have been delayed--I have heard that it has been too warm, too cold, too wet, and too dry.  I think that it just different in an urban setting.  At my little house in the woods in Michigan, most of my neighbors were trees as they literally blocked the sun and surrounded me.  Here, trees are accents and lawn decorations, and the houses shield them from the elements.  I am sure that this has delayed the color.  And, of course, it has been too wet and dry and cold and hot.

But here are a few photos that show that fall might actually show its colorful face.  The maples are trending towards yellow with a bit of red, and plain trees as well as the ashes and walnut trees are bright yellow.  The oaks, the stubborn oaks, are still green and only reluctantly turning brown--oak leaves,  of course,  are the last to leave (ha ha) their branches.  People are raking but only those who start shoveling at the beginning of a blizzard--the "fall" is really yet to come.

As always, click on the photos to see them more larger and bigger!