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Why Did I Wait So Long?

It seemed like a nice day for a walk around the lake. Katie and I got into the van where Lila was patiently waiting. There was just a little hint of thunder way off in the distance, but we ignored it and went on our way.

Just as we were about to park, a couple little raindrops speckled the windshield. This was our first walk around Lake Harriet since all the snow had melted away, and we really didn’t want to turn around especially since we all had been suffering from a very bad case of cabin fever.

“Let’s just walk a couple blocks and see how it goes,” Katie said. She pointed to Lila as if to say that we didn’t want to upset her because it seemed as if Lila had been trying to control her little squeaks of excitement on the ride over. We really didn’t want to disappoint our dog by getting back in the van and heading home right away, did we?

As we walked, the sweet lilac blossoms and flowers from blooming trees mingled together to help us forget the long cold winter that seemed like a bad dream to us now. We slowly climbed down the steep and narrow stairs. Lila listened to me as I told her to go slow, and we made it safely to the walking path. I thought it would be better to go in a different direction than usual because as I looked at the clouds, I hoped the rain would pass over the east side of the lake and miss us.

When we passed by the Elf’s house, we could see that his door, that is located in the nook of a tree, was closed. Under the crack of the door, we could see that many brightly colored dandelions had been left by some visitors.  A couple little drops of rain started to fall on us and on the path before us. We hoped that the Elf’s house would stay dry.  Many walkers passed by and no one seemed to mind the little rumblings of thunder. Not even the little boy who was on his bike and cheerfully asked his Dad, “Is it raining?”

“Yes,” said the Dad in a chipper voice.

Since it was warm and humid, the cool raindrops felt good. I was glad that no one could tell that underneath it all, I really was sweating! The clouds rumbled back and forth to each other as if they were having a conversation. Their lightening didn’t seem to brighten up the sky, so we just walked along more than just a few blocks. Lila kept us on pace and still seemed to be as excited to be outside as we were. As we rounded a corner, the rain started to fall down in sheets and we couldn’t see across the lake any more. Sometimes the trees sheltered us with their new bright leaves.

When we came to the area close to the band shell, many people sat in the sheltered area out of the rain. We decided to keep on going. A girl continued rollerblading while she held onto her Mom. Even though the wheels kept slipping along the path, the girl didn’t give up and neither did her mother. They just kept on going.

Lila got off track for a bit to sniff at something as Katie and I patiently waited. When we saw that Lila had found a stinky dead mouse, I told her she had a good sniffer, and that we had to keep on going.

For a short time, the sky was bright and we thought that maybe it was going to get clear. We walked along, and no drops of rain hit us to get us any wetter. As we got closer to the van, a bright light flashed and soon we heard the thunder. The lightening was showing itself now, and was no longer having a conversation just between the clouds. The rain came down again, but now it was a little bit harder.

We made it to the van safe and sound. Even though our clothes got soaked through, we realized that it was a nice day to walk around the lake after all. I also realized that I hadn’t walked in the rain like this since I was a little kid. Why did I wait so long?

Some people feel the rain — others just get wet. ~Roger Miller

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The Painted Garden

One of the first signs of spring in Minneapolis is the Macy’s Flower Show which takes place in the 8th Floor Auditorium of Macy’s downtown store.  Every year all the colors are such a welcome sight for those of us who have been surrounded by white, drab snow.

This year the theme is the Painted Garden which celebrates India and the southern regions of Asia.   Every color ever imagined can be found here in the beautifully designed creations, and the fragrant flowers remind us that spring will soon be here!

The free event is being held from March 24 through April 7.  Most of the flowers looked great yesterday, but don’t wait too long because the hyacinths were starting to look a little tired.

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Flowers don’t worry about how they’re going to bloom.  They just open up and turn toward the light and that makes them beautiful.  ~Jim Carrey

Wishing you and yours a very Happy Easter!

How I Survived the Water Main Break of 2013!


I’m glad this wasn’t me!
“Worker Tim Green carried an unidentified pedestrian
across a virtual river of water along Hennepin Av.
on 1/4/13,” picture courtesy of StarTribune.

“We have lost water pressure in the building,” a monotone voice reported over the loud-speaker. “Do not use any water at this time. We are trying to figure out what the problem is. As soon as we figure it out, we will let you know.” It was around 2:45 p.m. I sat at my desk at work, my hands hovering over my keyboard. “How can we just lose water pressure like that?” I thought. It was not funny the way my mind started to draw a conclusion that surely there was some sort of Joker in the building who was going to start it and all of us on fire. I prayed, “Make it quick, if it’s my turn to go. You know I’m a wimp.”

Yet, everyone else around me seemed calm. I continued on with whatever I was doing and pretended to be a calm person too. I tried not to worry about there being a fire.  When Mr. Monotone Voice told us not to use the water, I knew that meant not to use the bathroom too. Luckily I was okay in that area, but I don’t think others were.

Reports started to come through via co-workers and emails that a water main broke on a street that was a few blocks away. Some people decided that it was time to go home because it was unsanitary. Others worried that it would take longer than normal to get home with everyone leaving downtown at the same time. Did I mention that I thought it was unsafe being in the building in case there was a fire?

A few minutes before 4:00, we received an email telling us to leave the building because it was not safe in case there was a fire. I think I heard that somewhere before. I quickly gathered my things and shut down my computer in record speed.

When I got to the street level, many people with concerned faces were leaving office buildings too. The noise from the helicopters flying overhead and the blaring sirens echoing off the buildings made me feel even more eerie. I just wanted to get home.

As I waited for my bus, more and more people crowded around. There was no water by us, but it did delay the buses. My bus was a little late, and when I got on, I found a spot. A man sat next to me in one of the three seater benches that go sideways. I was at the end spot and my neighbor who was in the middle sniffled all the way home. I don’t think he was crying. I think he had a cold. I felt so squished that I couldn’t even get my phone out of my purse.

When I got home, I watched the news on TV and listened to all the reports. It appears that a contractor was working by the water main, and it broke. The nearby streets were instantly flooded. Any cars parked in underground parking garages were ruined. Twelve million gallons of water floated up and away that day.

We wondered how it all could possibly get repaired overnight. It did get fixed, and it was business as usual the next day. While some hoped for a day off, I guess I’m just happy we didn’t all float away. It’s a good thing I kept calm and didn’t jump to any wild conclusions!  I’m glad we survived the Water Main Break of 2013.

Going in Reverse

Thursdays are the days when the Farmer’s Market booths line Nicollet Mall between 5th and 9th Streets. It was shoulder-to-shoulder shopping that day during the lunch hour in downtown Minneapolis. Excited shoppers rush along carrying beautiful bundles of brightly colored flowers. Others look as if they are being weighed down by their many packages.  Most everyone seemed to be in a big hurry to find their favorite vegetable, fruit, or jar of honey.  The smell of nuts being roasted in cinnamon filled the air.

 Photo Courtesy of Minneapolis Farmer’s Market

Since my refrigerator was plumb full of fruit, but needed lettuce, I scanned the booths for that leafy vegetable. My friend thought that all the lettuce would be gone by the time we got there. We found Swiss chard and kale at the first booth we visited, but no lettuce. I never ate kale before, and I am pretty sure I never heard of it.  I held it up and found that it looked thick and course and as if it would involve a lot of chewing.  The saleslady said that kale is good to eat if you crunch up the leaves and make it like a Caesar salad. I still wasn’t sure about it, but the thing was that shoppers could buy three bunches of greens for $5.00. We got two bunches of kale and a bunch of Swiss chard and decided to split up our shares later. We wandered farther down and found tomatoes to share too.  After carrying around all these veggies, we found the fresh lettuce that I had been searching for. I bought some to add to the load, and worried if we could possibly eat all these greens.  After finding and tasting a sample of the cinnamon nuts, I realized the roasting always smells better than the tasting.  No nuts were purchased that day.

After we divided up the kale and Swiss chard, I found a recipe on-line for an Apple-Walnut Kale Salad which just so happens to call for Swiss chard! The ingredients sounded great, and since the whole family was going to be home that coming weekend, the next day I ventured out to get the rest of the ingredients.  On Saturday night, I put the salad together to go with our Saturday night meal. It quickly disappeared.  Everyone liked the blend of flavors and didn’t even complain about all the chewing! You can find the recipe here.

Apple-Walnut Kale Salad Recipe
Photo Courtesy of Cooking Light Magazine

I enjoy visiting the Farmer’s Market and wish that I would more often. The merchants are so welcoming, and it’s nice to buy fresh, local produce. Kale led me to Apple-Walnut Kale Salad.  When I shop at the grocery store, I only buy something different after I find a new recipe. For once, I found the recipe after I bought the kale which is totally out of my routine.  Doing things in reverse can get a person out of a rut!  Plus, not one morsel of greenness was left to waste.

Crossing Things Off My Bucket List

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Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

I bet some people’s bucket lists are extravagant sorts of things that include travel to exotic places and once-in-a-lifetime experiences.  Even though I never actually sat down and wrote out a list, I keep coming up with things that I would like to do that are not very extraordinary.  Yesterday, I got to cross another thing off my imaginary list.

We had our route all timed out.  Three of the four of us were waiting patiently for the fourth to arrive.   The three of us gazed out the glass doors of the tall building and looked across the street as the train sat there.

“Look, there it is.  It’s going to leave.  We’ve missed it,” said Sylvie.

“No, it’s going in the other direction,” I said hopefully.

The train chugged away from the stop, and we worried that we had missed our chance to go to our destination.

“A train just left,” we said to Cheryl, the final arrival.

“Well, let’s just go and see if another one is coming,” said Jill.

“Ya, it’s not even 12:05 yet.  I bet another one is going to be coming by soon,” I said.

We walked two-by-two to the train stop.  The warm and dry heat of the day enveloped me and chased off the chills of the air-conditioned building.  I watched my friends hold their To Go cards over the circle of the ticket machine, and it beeped giving them the okay to travel on the train.  I held my card over the circle too.  Now I was free to travel on the Hiawatha Line for the first time even though light rail has been in service since 2004.  Of course, I have been on trains such as these in other cities, but this was my first time traveling on the light rail in Minneapolis, my home town.  Funny how we sometimes end up exploring other places more than the places we live.

After a short wait, a train slowly approached us, stopped, opened its doors and we filed in one-by-one.  We all sat together two-by-two facing each other.  There were a few other people on the train mostly traveling by themselves.  They gazed out the windows with their earplugs in, and we chatted on about why other people get angry at passengers who talk on their cell phones.  Was it because they are so loud?  We were being loud, and no one seemed to be getting angry at us.  We decided that people get mad because they only get to hear one side of the conversation!

We went along and enjoyed the smooth ride of the train and commented about how different it is from riding a bus.  The train didn’t lurch forward or swerve back and forth.  There were no jerky moves.  We passed by another line of light rail that is being constructed and is heading towards St. Paul.  We wondered how many future travelers would use the train going between the Twin Cities, and I could see myself going on more rides like these.

“Wasn’t there another thing that you just crossed off your bucket list?” Jill asked me.

“Yes, jello shots,” I said.

“That’s right.”  Jill talked about how she ran across a recipe for jello shots that were red, white and blue and how she thought of me when she saw them.  Since none of us are from the generation that made jello shots popular, I sort of thought it was funny how I never ran across them before especially since many of my friends have.  A few months ago, the three out of the four of us went to Lyon’s Pub in downtown Minneapolis.  One of the drink specials is jello shots for $2.00.  That jello shot was okay, and I didn’t really see the fascination of it.  I just look at it as being one thing that got crossed off my imaginary bucket list.

We left the train at the 50th St. Minnehaha Station and walked a short way towards Cap’s Grille.  I knew the area quite well, having driven by many times on family visits to Minnehaha Falls or to visit relatives who used to live in the area.


Photo Courtesy of www.minneapolis81.com

Cap’s Grille is a no frills sort of restaurant.   Two chefs were at the grill close to where we walked in.  The Formica topped tables with steel legs looked like the table that used to be in my childhood home before we had the kitchen remodeled over 40 years ago.  The chairs were something right out of the past too, matched the tables and had familiar red cushions.


Photo Courtesy of www.flick+er.com

A waitress welcomed us, and instructed us to go have a seat in the only empty table in the corner.  We were surprised to see a giant Charlie Brown statue with his chef’s hat and smile standing in the opposite corner.  The silverware stood straight up in the plastic cup in the center of the table.  The floppy menus showed us all the treats to choose from.  I had already decided what I was going to order from the menu that I found online.

The waitress came with four waters, and asked if we would like anything else to drink.

“Is The Stacker huge?” I asked.  The Stacker is a sandwich that is piled high with slowly cooked pork and a tasty barbecue sauce.

“Yes, it’s a very large sandwich.  It’s the only item on the menu that doesn’t come with a side,” said the waitress.

While Sylvie ordered her salad, Jill and I whispered back and forth and decided to split The Stacker.  Jill and I also ordered a small salad.  The small iceberg lettuce with tomato salads and dressing arrived shortly after ordering and were sure to leave some room for our sandwich.

The buzz of conversations swirled around us.  It wasn’t like some restaurants where the sounds bounce off the walls and echo about making it difficult to hear.  Formica table tops and the same floor covering must act like sound absorbers.  We talked about the goings on in each other’s lives like friends do, and before we knew it the rest of the food arrived.  The sandwich that Jill and I split took up the entire dinner plate.  The top of a bun sat like a hat on the plentiful portion of pork, and the bottom of the bun was hidden underneath it all.

“There so much food here that we can split this and if you like we can take the rest home,” said Jill as she took the small portion she wanted and handed the rest to me.

“There’s enough here to feed a family of four,” I said.  I dug in and tasted the tender pulled pork and sweet and tangy barbecue sauce, and decided that it was well worth the trip.  We sat around waiting for the waitress to take our money, then realized that we needed to pay the cashier.  Jill and I left clutching small cartons of pulled pork.  Just a short walk and we were back to the tracks of the light rail.

Our trip to Cap’s Grille turned out to be a very special treat that was out of the ordinary.  What sorts of things do you have on your bucket list?

Cemetery Thieves Cause Emotional Rollercoaster Ride


courtesy of kimberkraft

As I looked to make sure that the words were spelled correctly, and that the dates were right, I started to feel that I needed to get some flowers. I hadn’t thought about getting flowers when we first arrived, but since it was Mother’s Day, it was the right thing to do.  Luckily there’s a flower shop close by. While we waited for the lady to put together a bouquet, my husband and I walked around the store. I had never been there before though I had driven by many times.

“Do you have any water?” the little man with gray hair asked me.

“No,” I said.  He must have noticed that I looked lost.

“The water isn’t on in the cemetery yet. I can get you a pop can filled with water.”

“Thank you.” It was a weird feeling, being at the cemetery without my mother. My mother and father always made sure that we paid our respects and visited the cemetery every Memorial weekend. It was a family outing, the kids going with Mom and Dad and even way back, with my Grandpa and Aunt. Mom used to bring peonies from her garden for my Grandma’s grave.

After my Dad passed away, my children and I went with Mom to make sure that the gravestones were swept off and that there weren’t any mysterious critters lurking about or grass growing where it shouldn’t. I cleaned off my Grandma’s grave most of the times because she was the one I never got to meet. Like I used to do when I was small, my kids read the dates on the gravestones trying to see which were the oldest.  Plus we made sure that no one ever stepped on the markers.

Mike and I went back to Mom’s gravestone. I unscrewed the bronze vase, poured in the water from the pop can, and placed the bouquet of flowers inside. Mom would have loved the sweetheart roses.  I know it would be important to Mom to have flowers placed on her grave and being remembered in a respectful way since it was always something she did during her lifetime.

The next week, I had to go back to the cemetery to make sure that the vase was put back the way it should be. Even though I called the cemetery and they assured me that the workers put the vases back, I just wanted to be sure.  Plus, I had a funny feeling.  When we pulled up to the familiar spot, I saw that someone had thrown the dried up bouquet on the side of Mom’s grave, and the bronze vase was gone. We looked around and saw that many other vases were gone. The grave markers looked so bare because there were holes where a vase had once been. I looked around and saw all the empty spots, and it made me so sad. A place where most people come to pay their respects had been tragically dishonored.

When we got back into our car, I told my husband that I felt violated.  I tried to imagine what type of person would steal from a cemetery.  That sad feeling stuck with me for days even though I tried to push it away.

On Thursday, when I came downstairs for breakfast, my husband told me that there was an article in the newspaper about how lots of vases had been stolen from gravesites from three different cemeteries on the north side.

“Did you bring that paper home from work yesterday?” I asked. We only get the paper delivered to our house on Sundays.

“No,” he said. “The paper was out on the steps this morning. This is today’s paper.”

“Isn’t that weird?” I kept asking over and over again.

“Your Mom wanted you to see what was going on,” Mike said.

If you want to read the article, click here.

On Friday morning when our clock radio alarm went off, the first news story we heard was that the vases had been found in a park.  I hope all the media attention scared the thieves off forever.  The vases are being inspected by the police for any signs of evidence, and then will be returned to the cemeteries.  You can read about it here.

I was very happy to hear that the vases were found and will be returned.

I wasn’t planning on going to the cemetery this weekend, since I was just there twice, but since it’s Memorial Day, it’s the right thing to do.

To the Rescue

Cars passed by tossing slush piles in our direction. The bus shelter reminded me of a vertical can of sardines. I decided not to join the crowd, and I looked up above just to make sure that no icy power lines were waiting to snap in my face. I was happy to see that not one power line was even close to us.

“There’s a bus stuck trying to get up the hill,” a bicyclist said as he pedaled towards us and pointed down the street that was out of view. His yellow outfit must have been keeping him dry, and little lights blinked from his bike and helmet even though the white snow made everything clear.

One of the sardines squeezed out and walked down to the stuck bus. I thought that maybe someone smarter than me would suggest that we all go sit on the bus, and with that extra weight maybe it would get unstuck because that hill is not very steep. But, nobody said anything.

“The bus says, ‘Out of Service,’” he announced to us, so we gave up hoping for a ride from there, and sorry to say, the sardine lost his spot.

More time passed, and I wondered if anyone was going to make a bold move and offer to give some of us a ride downtown in their car, but it looked as if no one wanted to drive that day. I am sure they wanted to avoid any type of fender bender.

After a longer wait, a bus came from the other direction, made a U-turn and pulled up in front of the bus shelter. To us he looked like a knight in shining armor. Shoulders stopped slouching as we puffed up to hear what he had to say.

“Can we have a ride?” someone asked.

“No, I can’t right now. I have to run some errands for my wife,” the bus driver announced. Many chuckles were heard as people piled out of the bus shelter.

“There are two 875s stuck on that hill over there,” the bus driver pointed. They were probably stuck because they didn’t have enough people on them, I thought.

“Where are you going?” someone asked.

“Downtown,” he said. The bus driver must not have known that he did not have the right sign displaying his destination. All the buses that usually stop there are going downtown. His joke did not get a laugh.

“Are you a 461 or 875?” someone else asked.

“Oh, I am a 461,” and he changed the sign. We were glad because we have to know which way we are going. We all hopped aboard. As we traveled along, one of the passengers asked the bus driver if he could change the bus into a 875 (because that bus gets downtown a lot faster).

“Ya,” he said, “and let’s stop at Perkins on the way!” We headed through town taking the slow and long route. The bus driver greeted each passenger with a cheery hello trying to improve their moods. They looked as if they had been waiting a very long time with their wet and stringy hair and winter coats soaked and dripping.

As one lady got off the bus well before we reached downtown, she fell on her rear after her foot touched the ground. Even though some of us said “ouch,” she went on her way as if nothing happened. As more passengers got on the bus and the fog on the windows grew even thicker, I started to wonder if other people were wondering why we live here.

The bus started picking up speed once we got on the freeway. I decided I was happy to be here because where else can you find an adventure like this? Not only did I see a person riding a bike in a snow shower, I never saw so many people in one bus shelter, and it’s the first time I saw a bus make a U-turn. Plus it’s a place where a person who is working his regular job suddenly becomes a knight in shining armor.

I thanked our knight very much for coming to our rescue as I got off the bus, and I was glad that I was only a half hour late for work.