Three Days of Jazz

Over the last three days, I have spent many hours in St. Paul, MN enjoying the Twin Cities Jazz Festival.  If you are in the area next year, I highly recommend this event.  Not only are there multiple outdoor stages located around the downtown area, the night is alive with club action.  Many fantastic professional acts share the stage with the up and coming young musicians from the upper midwest.  The Saturday highlight of the festival was an appearance by New Orleans artist, Dr. John. Hopefully, if you come, you will be treated to the same amazing weather the festival was blessed with this year.  Oh, by the way, the entire festival is free!  But donations are welcome.
I took time to visit the renovated Union Station, home to many forms of transit coming and going from St. Paul.  I also had a chance to speak with the mayor of St. Paul.  I so appreciate that we have some elected politicians that are willing to be out, mixing with the public, supporting the arts and willing to converse with all the citizens of the city instead of hiding in their offices behind security, afraid to answer for their ideologies and voting patterns.  Mayor Coleman, and my own mayor, Don Ness of Duluth, are two such politicians who are out there with their constituents, supporting their communities.


Urban Explorations: Sochacki Park

My frequent trips to visit my father at the nursing home take me across 36th Avenue North in Robbinsdale, MN.  On each pass, I have noticed a sign pointing to Sochaki Park (pronounced: so-hockey) and have wanted to investigate the site.  Today I made it the destination of my morning walk.  Unlike South Halifax Park, on the east side of the railroad tracks that run through Robbinsdale, which is geared more to the playground set, Sochacki Park is more for those seeking a woodsy setting.  The park offers hiking, biking and access to the western side of Grimes Pond. A meandering internal trail system connects to Mary Hills Park in Golden Valley.  The park is a wooded gem situated in an urban setting with much wildlife.
As I wandered through a small portion of the park, I couldn’t help noticing all the edible plants.  If you were lost in the park, you would be able to survive for awhile if you knew your wild plants.  And, if you had your cat with you, (no, not to eat!), it would enjoy the abundant catnip.  I spotted stinging nettle, plantain, burdock, wood sorrel, lambs quarter, raspberry, monkey tails (the twisty ends of grape vines) and cattails.  The plantain has medicinal properties: if chewed and applied to an itchy bug bite as a poultice, it will relieve the itch.
WARNING: be sure you know your plants before ingesting any wild plant.  Also, be aware of whether the area is sprayed with chemicals or exposed to excess pollution.  There were plants there you would want to avoid, one being poison ivy.  The burdock is something of a mixed blessing.  The root is very healthy, but the burrs are troublesome, especially if you own a pet that gets covered in them.
I was perturbed by the sight of a oily looking water discharge, not sure where it was coming from.  I was also witness to a couple of interesting insect events.  One involved a burdock that was under attack by very small bugs, and the other was an ant colony in motion.

Time On The Water and The first Day of Summer

During a recent trip home to Duluth, my wife and I were invited to spend time at our friends lake home.  It was a nice respite from all the business of my current life and an opportunity to capture a few images from around the lake.  I couldn’t help zeroing in on two homes that each had a collection of colorful lawn chairs set by the water’s edge, and I especially like the reflections of the second set.  The lake grass was also attractive.  The motion of the water moving the grass in various directions created fascinating patterns in the water.  Finally, sky and reflective water combine to create a mirror effect.  This was how I spent the first day of summer.


I may have the gift of seeing, but my wife has the gift of words. In this blog she says everything that needs to be said so eloquently.



June 11, 2015

I am sitting on my comfortable old porch, watching the sun set behind the bluffs. Water burbles as it falls into the little pond in my rock garden. Birds are having multitudinous dinner conversations. My thoughts wend their way to my dying father-in-law, sitting in his chair in a bright yellow room in a building 200 miles away.

What does it feel like, I wonder, to be removed from the familiar rooms and gardens of your home to spend the days that remain of your life in a single room in a building full of old and dying people? What must it feel like to live with the knowledge you will never return to your home–never sit in your old chair or wander through the cluttered rooms to sneak a slice of pie from the refrigerator?

….One day you drove to a routine doctor appointment, and…

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Poppy Perspectives

After watering the garden recently, I noticed that the poppies had a collection of water drops covering them.  Hmmm, better grab the camera!  The results of my vision are somewhat alien in nature, but I assure you, all very terrestrial.