“I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar”

September 19

Saturday, Sept 19, 2020, 2:00 matinee

This was the final show of Theatre L’Homme Dieu’s COVID-shortened 2020 season. And executive director Nicole Mulder outdid herself with this blockbuster finale. So, buckle your seat belts, we’re about to begin . . .

Featuring: Patty Peterson, Lori Dokken, Debbie Duncan, Judi Vinar, Rachel Holder

Lori Dokken Presents: I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar
FEAT: Lori Dokken – Piano and Vocals, Patty Peterson – Vocals, Debbie Duncan – Vocals, Rachel Holder – Vocals, Judi Vinar – Vocals

Location: TLHD Outdoor Stage Watch from the comfort of your car or reserve a spot in our designated seating area.

The Music • The Show Join us for an afternoon celebrating some of the greatest women singers and songwriters ever! With Lori Dokken at the piano and vocals and Twin Cities’ vocalists Judi Vinar, Debbie Duncan, Patty Peterson and Rachel Holder turn the Theatre L’Homme Dieu’s outdoor stage into a celebration of some of the matriarchs of music.
Sit back and enjoy the vibrant vocal harmonies these musicians put to tunes made famous by such divas as: Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Annie Lennox, Carole King, Tina Turner, Judy Garland, Christina Aguilera and many more.
It promises to be a fantastic afternoon of hearing these women “roar” as only they can!

The set up: Crooners

[Why yes, it was going to be an RBG kinda day!]

[Still a couple days from autumn, a little color along the road to the theatre . . . ]

Life is very busy now. I find that in today’s cities, the public is very tired after working the whole day. When concerts start at eight o’clock, the wife pushes the husband to go to the concert, where some promptly fall asleep! ~ Vladimir Horowitz

[Our route to the theatre is a designated scenic highway. And then we turned into the campus . . . ]

[We were so shocked to see the Boy Tenor (a/k/a, the Emperor of TLHD) directing traffic that I didn’t have the camera ready . . . ]

[So, a couple tree shots in the driveway . . . ]

To me, in life, if there’s, like, a rule, and I think it’s ridiculous, then of course I’ll circumvent that but also point out how ridiculous the rule is. Other than that, if I go to a concert, and my seat is Row G, Seat 12, I’m sitting in Row G, Seat 12. I don’t care if I’m with five other friends, I’m supposed to be in Seat 12, that’s my seat. ~ Wanda Sykes

[Janet and Jan ran a season first adult beverage stand – we partook of a bottle of cab . . . ]

[We were greeted at the entrance by Joe, as usual. But this time he was ably assisted by the Empress of TLHD . . . ]

[At our designated rows and seats, everyone began stripping. The surrounding woods protected us from the wind making it almost too hot . . . ]

[People were still arriving when I pitoned onto the stage for the panorama shot . . . ]

My first concert makes me sound like a real old man. My very first concert was Jackie Wilson. ~ Eddie Murphy

[A non-fat member of the Fat Boys Walking Club, Ken sitting with Jean on the left. In the center distance, our hosts for the afternoon, Nicole and John Mulder . . . ]

I have stage fright every single concert I’ve ever done. I have at least four or five minutes of it. It’s absolute living hell. ~ Brian Wilson

[The performers take the stage . . . ]

[From our vantage – later photos will show the advantage of the 400mm lens . . . ]

[Nicole readies for the welcoming introductions . . . ]

[Whatta crowd, whatta crowd!!]

[Behind her, l-r: Lori, Patty, Debbie, Rachel, and Judi . . . ]

[A breath . . . ]

[Major kudos to Nicole for pulling off what season we had . . . ]

[It was emotional, to come up with anything in the year of the pandemic was amazing . . . ]

[She was a trendsetter. Similar venues later adopted the outdoor approach. I’m sure it was a major relief for her, for the theatre, to make it through this season . . . ]

[Nicole came up with this stage from a business in Brainerd. We used it all summer. And as she noted, the crew that erected it were 66% women. So what an ending theme . . . ]

[And away we go with Judi taking the early lead . . . ]

[The panoramic view from our seats . . . ]

[Patty and Debbie . . . ]

[Patty . . . ]

[I found an individual YouTube for each of the performers. But it created issues, so I beg your indulgence – and support? WordPress recently changed its whole format on how to create and post a blog. Any change at my age throws me for a loop. Absent any understanding of their explanations on how to use the new format, I mostly figured it out by trial and error (mostly error). But the video posting I still can’t figure out. As you will notice with each one, they bleed into the following photo? It does not show that way in either the edit or preview stages, only in the final?]

Patty ~

To wear a floral shirt is an experience. ~ Brian Wilson

[Lori and Patty . . . ]

In my career I have never felt that my being a woman was an obstacle or an advantage. I guess I’ve been oblivious. ~ Carole King

[Lori (from Benson, where it swings) reminds me of Megan Rapinoe, the look and the demeanor – loved it . . . ]

Lori, at the piano ~

[She was a hoot – Benson soul . . . ]

[Rachel joins in with Patty and Debbie . . . ]

[They each had leads, and solos, sometime in groups of 2 or 3, sometime all 5 . . . ]

[It was all quite perfect . . . ]

[With all due deference to the telephoto lens . . . ]

Debbie ~

My life has been a tapestry of rich and royal hue, an everlasting vision of the ever changing view. ~ Carole King

[Rachel and Judi . . . ]

It should be a firmly established part of the curriculum that children should visit theatres and concert halls. ~ Philip Pullman

I love pulling people into concert halls who might not otherwise go and getting their ears tuned. ~ David Ogden Stiers

My audience are the same people who bought my albums years ago. These people are now married, with their own homes, their own families. If I’m in concert, I get people now who bring their kids. ~ Helen Reddy

Something in the way you move. ~ Ellie Goulding

To achieve style, begin by affecting none. ~ E.B. White

[I think it’s so nice that in this day and age a mother can take her twin retired-doctor daughters out for an afternoon of entertainment . . . ]

God, I’m just a fat bald guy, 60 years old, singing the blues, you know? ~ Joe Cocker

[For Rachel’s big song, her fellow performers moved to the rear of the stage . . . ]

[It was a powerful song, her voice showing more range than Byron Buxton . . . ]

Rachel ~

[And it is extremely unfortunate that her video cuts off the top half of her body in the following photo?]

[And then Judi took off – all of them had great individual voices . . . ]

[The problem was that from my angle I could not avoid the stage support for her photos . . . ]

Judi ~

My idols are Janis Joplin and Annie Lennox, who are neither of them from the typical pop culture. ~ Natalie Cole

[We didn’t want it to end . . . ]

It’s such a rush doing a concert and seeing people actually mouthing the lyrics. ~ Carnie Wilson

[Everybody was having fun . . . ]

[Bringing it on home . . . ]

To come to a concert and hear a lot of songs from a female perspective should not make men say, ‘Oh well, that’s for women’. ~ Holly Near [Editor’s note: I saw Holly Near in concert on Okinawa in 1970.]

We have pink hair and purple hair. We have tattoos and dreadlocks. We’ve got white girls and black girls, and everything in between. Straight girls and gay girls. ~ Megan Rapinoe

I don’t want to be the next big anything. I just want to play for people and that’s it. ~ Norah Jones

[It was a way too fast 90 minutes . . . ]

[And then, a much deserved standing ovation from the assembled masses . . . ]

[And then they were gone . . . ]

I have no idea why a guy would bring a jar of peanut butter to a concert. ~ Iggy Pop [Editor’s note: I have no idea who Iggy Pop is?]

Up Next: I thought it was going to be girls basketball – and then the gale winds began . . .

Editor’s note: I subsequently discovered that if you click on “AMP” on the upper left side it relieves the image problem created by the videos. 🙂

Merely Coincidental (Part 1)

September 11

As you know from reading Part 2, it’s merely coincidental that this happened on 9/11. Part 2 was the evening addition, this is the morning addition. It all began with a ride with the Super to St. Cloud to have her car serviced – I went along for the ride and an opportunity for a road trip . . .

[Upon arrival in the Granite City, I first noticed what to my eye seemed to be a bit of political commentary . . . ]

Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal. ~ Albert Camus

[We have been to St. Cloud many, many times over the years, of course. But always with a specific destination in mind. We had never just wandered the city. So, we asked the desk guy at the Super’s dealership where we could go for an hour’s walk. I said I’d never been to the Lake George area – he said just down the road a bit on the other side of the street from the library. Well, on the other side of the street was also the old St. Cloud Tech high school, which I’d never seen before – they opened a new high school within the last year or so . . . ]

[Also at the old high school was this . . . ]

[A monument to James J. Hill . . . ]

[I do not know what his connection was to the city or the high school . . . ]

[Lake George . . . Yes, St. Cloud has its own lake! This urban lake is an oasis, just steps from the hustle and bustle of downtown St. Cloud. Surrounded by gorgeous walking paths, water features, bench and picnic areas, and even a beach, this is the ideal location in St. Cloud for a morning stroll, a bag lunch to go, or some scenic relaxation (visitstcloud.com).]

[The neighborhood has a population of about 1,800 . . . ]

All the things I really like to do are either immoral, illegal or fattening. ~ Alexander Woollcott

[Lake George in all its splendor . . . ]

[The Super, in all her splendor, in the Lake George Municipal Park . . . ]

[And the old high school is just across the street from the park . . . ]

[And here’s where they hold the outdoor concerts . . . ]

Education is learning what you didn’t even know you didn’t know. ~ Daniel J. Boorstin

[Nice park . . . ]

Biologically speaking, if something bites you it’s more likely to be female. ~ Desmond Morris

[The Super going to school . . . ]

I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that I don’t know the answer. ~ Douglas Adams

[HQ for the Lake George Municipal Complex . . . ]

[“Tiger Country” (oh, you can see that too) . . . ]

[And now the scary St. Cloud Tech Tigers and the St. Cloud Apollo Eagles team up in some sports in an attempt to beat up on our little Alexandria Cardinals . . . ]

[The old high school is kitty-corner from the old football stadium . . . ]

[The park from said kitty-corner . . . ]

Analyzing humor is like dissecting a frog. Few people are interested and the frog dies of it. ~ E. B. White

[Tech taught winemaking???]

Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive. ~ Elbert Hubbard

[The ‘neighborhood’ reminds me of my grandparents’ neighborhood in north Minneapolis . . . ]

You’re only as good as your last haircut. ~ Fran Lebowitz

[Would you buy CBD from these dummies?]

[On the way home, though we also passed it on the way in, is the town of St. Joseph, population 6,500, about 6 miles from St. Cloud . . . ]

[We wanted to check out what may be the hottest new restaurant in the state . . . ]

[But, despite the sign, it wasn’t (open, that is). I don’t know if its just a COVID schedule, but they’re only open at night from Wednesday – Saturday (as I recall) – reservations strongly suggested . . . ]

[A look inside, though they appeared to have plenty of outdoor tables . . . ]

[How you know you’re adjacent to a college campus . . . ]

[Though we have been through St. Joe’s hundreds (?) of times, we had never visited the St. Ben’s campus (though Ruthie later recalled our niece was once in a gymnastics meet here 12 years or so ago) . . . ]

[And here we are . . . ]

[A campus of 1,800 students on a lovely 300 acres . . . ]

Good advice is something a man gives when he is too old to set a bad example. ~ Francois de La Rochefoucauld

[As I understand it St. Ben’s and St. John’s (5 miles away) basically share students and professors . . . ]

[Love those Bennies!]

We learn from experience that men never learn anything from experience. ~ George Bernard Shaw

Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city. ~ George Burns

[Lest you didn’t know, a campus building . . . ]

[Arts center and auditorium – the staff of life . . . ]

[Why Saint is in the college name . . . ]

The only mystery in life is why the kamikaze pilots wore helmets. ~ Al McGuire

[Birthdays on this day: Angie Annen, daughter of Vivian and Fat Boys Walking Club’s Weakie Annen. Angie works for the state health department and is personally responsible for tracking COVID19 statewide numbers . . . ]

[Louis Johnston, Economics Professor, St. Ben’s-St. John’s, born in 1960, thus now 60 years old. A longtime favorite of the local Senior College attendees, he gave the semester’s first virtual session last week . . . ]

Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all others because you were born in it. ~George Bernard Shaw

Up Next: ?

Merely Coincidental (Part 2)

September 11

Yes, it was 9/11. That was the merely coincidental part. And yes, there has been no (Part 1) yet. Part 2 is going first because it is more time sensitive. And remember, all this is happening under the new norm . . .

Shining a Light on MN Musicians

Support Minnesota musicians + enjoy a unique concert experience! Friday Night Lights will feature 3 Minnesota bands live on TLHD’s Outdoor stage. Two ticket options allow you to watch from the comfort of your car or BYO chair to sit beside your car or in a designated seating area.
Join us for an eclectic mix of folk, acoustic, and synthetic sounds – a perfect mix for a Friday night this fall. And perfect for people who love all kinds of music! Each of the following groups will play a set.
• Her Crooked Heart
• King Pari
• James Case feat. Jimmy Peterson + Casey Gooby
~ Nicole Mulder, TLHD Executive Director

The set-up: It appeared it was going to be a “dark and stormy night.” As I noted on FB the next morning, “[T]hat was quite a feat Nicole, Joe, Jorge and friends pulled off at Theatre L’Homme Dieu last night! One of the performers, James Case, even called Nicole during the day and said, ‘You’re cancelling, right?’ In keeping with the ole showbiz tradition of the show must go on, Nicole said, ‘Nope!'”

[It seemed to be more a mid-November rather then mid-September evening. The weather forecast was rain for sure during the performance. We met Deb & Paul Trumm at Lure Lakebar for a pre-performance nosh and beverage. The fishermen on Lake Le Homme Dieu looked dressed for a nor’easter . . . ]

[We still insist on eating outside, of course. Fortunately, such were few and far between so we got the table by the fireplace . . . ]

When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become President. I’m beginning to believe it. ~ Clarence Darrow

[When we arrived at the theatre, they were undergoing sound checks . . . ]

[Once we were all in our places with bright shining faces, Nicole addressed the assembled masses regarding the protocols under the new norm . . . ]

[Our neighbors to our right, close personal relatives of Nicole, were our only contact during the evening. We phoned each other between sets . . . ]

Her Crooked Heart

[Rachel Ries and Hilary James]


With ‘To Love To Leave To Live’, Minneapolis-based Her Crooked Heart presents a debut record unique in form, made up of cyclical narratives and intertwining histories, each informing the next. The result is a transformative song cycle, led by a charismatic personality, wholly indifferent to expectations of genre and instrumentation. Rachel Ries, the writer, multi-instrumentalist and producer behind Her Crooked Heart, demonstrates immense vulnerability and multifaceted musical craftsmanship to deliver a personal and profound musical soliloquy on love, leaving and the life that follows after burning it all down.

In 2013, after two and a half years of marriage, Ries found herself touring a record around the world, accompanied by a stack of divorce papers in a pocket of her suitcase. She had left her marriage and a good man in New York City and leapt into the untethered unknown. What transpired was in turns euphoria and despondence; old lessons learned in new ways.

To bring these songs and this record to the stage, Ries has enlisted a powerful group of women; women who can, in their way, take on the feminine, humanist mantle of Her Crooked Heart and make it their own. The quartet blends classical and electric guitar; piano and vintage synths; cello, woodwinds and drum triggers. This merging of acoustic and synthetic sounds is all in service of the voice: four part vocal harmonies that shift from ethereal to an elemental wail, but always tell a story of transformation.

Rachel is a 2018 Rauschenberg 3Arts Fellow and a recipient of two 2019 Minnesota State Arts Board Grants: Arts Initiative and Arts on Tour.  ~ tlhd.org

[Now I can have some fun as I will be shooting through a rain covered windshield for the entire performance, allowing for some poetic license in the artsy-fartsy area . . . ]

[Obtained through the marvels of modern technology . . . ]

[We found Hilary and Rachel to be quite enjoyable . . . ]

[Rachel noted she grew up Mennonite in South Dakota and felt guilty about not going the full Amish by giving up the pleasures of electricity . . . ]

It would be nice to spend billions on schools and roads, but right now that money is desperately needed for political ads. ~ Andy Borowitz

The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits. ~ Albert Einstein

I don’t believe in astrology; I’m a Sagittarius and we’re skeptical. ~ Arthur C. Clarke

War is God’s way of teaching Americans geography. ~ Ambrose Bierce

You may have noticed that the quotations have nothing whatever to do with the following photos. It’s just my way of providing filler when I can’t think of anything to say . . .

My opinions may have changed, but not the fact that I’m right. ~ Ashleigh Brilliant

[I tried to capture them playing their variety of instruments. Rachel was lead singer and often soloed on vocals . . . ]

[I recognized one of the stage organizers. He is the father of . . . ]

[Cardinal basketball player Alayna Strand, who will be going into her senior season if there is one to go into . . . ]

James Case


Jimmy Peterson and Casey Gooby.

This country-folk acoustic duo just finished recording another album and will debut some of their new work on the TLHD stage! Soulful and insightful. Sophisticated music yet a laid back vibe. ~ tlhd.org

[Nicole introduced the next performers . . . ]

[Who you already know from reading their introduction . . . ]

[Jimmy & James]

[Nice acoustic stuff . . . ]

Trouble knocked at the door, but, hearing laughter, hurried away. ~ Benjamin Franklin

Facebook just sounds like a drag, in my day seeing pictures of peoples vacations was considered a punishment. ~ Betty White

Money won’t buy happiness, but it will pay the salaries of a large research staff to study the problem. ~ Bill Vaughan


The surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that it has never tried to contact us. ~ Bill Watterson

But primarily, the drummer’s supposed to sit back there and swing the band. ~ Buddy Rich

[Just let the camera go . . . ]

[And again . . . ]

If you’re going to tell people the truth, be funny or they’ll kill you. ~ Billy Wilder

King Pari

King Pari
King Pari


King Pari is an almost accidental project. Cameron Kinghorn and DJ Stepmom didn’t even set out to start a band. When Joe (DJ Stepmom) texted Cameron some jams whipped up on his tape machine, Cameron hit him back with “what is this? I want in”. Ten minutes before they first linked up, Joe built the loop for their first single, ‘Sunshine,’ which they then wrote on the spot in a flurry on collective inspiration. The rest of their forthcoming ‘MARY EP’ grew from recording sessions in Joe’s Northeast Minneapolis bedroom, a guest house in New Orleans and a cabin in rural Wisconsin. Minneapolis left an obvious mark — the influence of Prince and the Minneapolis Sound, approached from a fresh psychedelic angle. It’s been called stonersoul, lo-fi R&B, dub meets 80’s electro with a heavy dose of funk.

With these new songs in hand, the group played their first public show on the historic First Avenue Mainroom stage in Minneapolis, opening for the incomparable Kamasi Washington in August 2019, and charming the full house that night.

The music is dancey and funky, but often dreamy. It’s a distillation of every group and side project they’ve played in before – even a 90s R&B cover band. Nothing is forced; it all just falls into place like a Rube Goldberg machine of chill-ass vibes. More than anything, King Pari is having a good time, and they want you to get on their level. ~ tlhd.org

[Cameron & Joe]

[Their music was not exactly our cup of malbec . . . ]

[But Cameron is very charismatic . . . ]

[And extremely comfortable with himself on stage . . . ]

[Joe put down the music . . . ]

But the fact that some geniuses were laughed at does not imply that all who are laughed at are geniuses. They laughed at Columbus, they laughed at Fulton, they laughed at the Wright Brothers. But they also laughed at Bozo the Clown. ~ Carl Sagan

[And we’re still weathering . . . ]

[Until magic cleans it up . . . ]

[The charisma shining through . . . ]

All right everyone, line up alphabetically according to your height. ~ Casey Stengel

He who laughs last didn’t get the joke. ~ Charles de Gaulle

[And, the wrap up . . . ]

[The following morning’s rain gauge . . . ]

The play was a great success, but the audience was a disaster. ~  Oscar Wilde

Up Next: Part 1

Just Because . . .

September 8

Now famed in song and story . . .

My grandmother started walking five miles a day when she was sixty. She’s ninety-seven now, and we don’t know where the heck she is. ~ Ellen DeGeneres

All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Click here:


Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time. ~  Steven Wright

I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me. ~  Noel Coward

They walked through the rainy dark like gaunt ghosts, and Garraty didn’t like to look at them. They were the walking dead. ~  Stephen King, The Long Walk

This made her remember why people take up walking: It is because they no longer have anywhere to go. ~ Chuck Klosterman, Downtown Owl

If you walk the path less taken, you will discover why it is thus so. ~ Some Local Bard

Addendum: What “click here” shows . . .

Alexandria’s ‘Fat Boys Walking Club’ puts on the miles, shares smiles

Group gathers on Central Lakes Trail for camaraderie and exercise.Written By: Celeste Edenloff | Sep 8th 2020 – 6am

A group of men, who dubbed themselves "The Fat Boys Walking Club," walk six days a week along the Central Lakes Trail.  The members are , from left, Roger Johnson, Rich Beltz, Tom Obert, Harvey Kranzler, Bob Annen and Mike Bump.  (Celeste Edenloff / Echo Press)

A group of men, who dubbed themselves “The Fat Boys Walking Club,” walk six days a week along the Central Lakes Trail. The members are , from left, Roger Johnson, Rich Beltz, Tom Obert, Harvey Kranzler, Bob Annen and Mike Bump. (Celeste Edenloff / Echo Press) 

If you were to station yourself down at Big Ole Park about 7:30 every morning – except Sundays – you would see what looks like a bunch of old guys trying to get some exercise by going for a little walk.

And you would be mostly right.

Except those old guys aren’t just going for a little walk. They walk at least an hour, if not more, and usually end up walking more than three miles each time. They like to get the miles in, despite the fact that a couple of them use walking sticks for assistance and one even carries his oxygen with him.

Exercise is one of the key reasons they walk, but it is also about the camaraderie and possibly the harmless heckling, joking and interesting conversations. Or perhaps it’s about having time away from their better halves, although none of them would deny or confirm that reason.

The group of mostly retirees have happily dubbed themselves “The Fat Boys Walking Club.”

The club has a total of nine members, although you will most likely never see all nine walking at the same time. There might be two and there might be seven, but at least one member will always show up six days a week.

At about 7:30 a.m. six days a week, a group of guys, who all live in the Alexandria Lakes Area, meet at Big Ole and walk the Central Lakes Trail.  Pictured, from left,  are Tom Obert, Roger Johnson, Mike Bump, Rich Beltz,  Harvey Kranzler and Bob Annen. (Celeste Edenloff /  Echo Press)

At about 7:30 a.m. six days a week, a group of guys, who all live in the Alexandria Lakes Area, meet at Big Ole and walk the Central Lakes Trail. Pictured, from left, are Tom Obert, Roger Johnson, Mike Bump, Rich Beltz, Harvey Kranzler and Bob Annen. (Celeste Edenloff / Echo Press) 

Ranging in age from 68 to 82, with all of them living in the Alexandria lakes area, The Fat Boys Walking Club includes:

  • Bob Annen, 82, worked as vice president at Honeywell.
  • Mike Bump, 81, worked in meat sales and also former owner of Bump’s Restaurant in Glencoe.
  • Paul Fieldhammer, 77, worked in medical supplies.
  • Ken Howell, 75, worked in medical supplies (but not with Fieldhammer).
  • Tom Obert, 73, worked for the Department of Labor in Washington, D.C.
  • Harvey Kranzler,72, worked as a social studies/history teacher, retiring from Alexandria District 206.
  • Roger Johnson, 71, worked as a public school educator, retiring from Alexandria District 206.
  • Tom Mulder, 70, is an investment advisor.
  • Rich Beltz, 68, works in farm management as a farm broker.

Interestingly, none of them go by their real names. Each of them has been given a nickname.

Annen is known as Weakie because he once said his golf swing was weak. Bump is fittingly called The Bumpster, while Kranzler is called The Harvster. Johnson is known as Coach, because well, he was a coach. Howell, who is on the tall side, is referred to as The Crane, while Mulder, who sings, goes by The Boy Tenor. Obert is Cub Reporter, Beltz goes by Sleepy Eye and Fieldhammer is known as Rock.

If you were to tag along with the group, you would hear conversations ranging from food to politics or sports to weather or health and everything in between. Regardless of the topic, the one thing you will always hear is laughter.

So, just how did this group get started walking, Obert, the cub reporter, explained.

He said his mom lived next to Annen and that the two of them met back in 2001. At first, it was just the two of them walking. They would meet at Big Ole and walk for two or so hours at a time. Obert further explained, however, that walking outside for that long of time became a challenge because they are old men with weak bladders. And most often if they had to relieve themselves, it was always when a group of “old ladies on bikes” would go whizzing by.

A couple of the guys standing around Obert tossed out some jokes about binoculars and magnifying glasses as the rest erupted with laughter. Obert then explained that the YMCA opened in Alexandria and an indoor facility with restrooms seemed to be a better fit. He also mentioned that mall walking was the way to go once the weather forced them inside before the Y opened.

As the sun was rising over Lake Agnes near Big Ole Park, six of the nine members of "The Fat Boys Walking Club" walk along the Central Lakes Trail. Some members of the group have been walking together for more than 15 years. (Celeste Edenloff / Echo Press)

As the sun was rising over Lake Agnes near Big Ole Park, six of the nine members of “The Fat Boys Walking Club” walk along the Central Lakes Trail. Some members of the group have been walking together for more than 15 years. (Celeste Edenloff / Echo Press) 

Back in 2005, before the full Fat Boys Walking Club, Obert and Annen were inspired by a story about a woman who walked Minneapolis. They decided to walk all the streets within the city limits of Alexandria. By the way, Obert quipped that Annen doesn’t really fit the “fat boy” title anymore as all the walking he’s done paid off and he’s lost 60 pounds.

During that walk, they found out that Alexandria, at that time, had 94 miles of streets. They started their quest April 13, 2005, and finished on May 5, 2005, by walking for an hour and a half to three hours each day. This equaled about five to 10 miles each day. They walked a total of 19 days with a day or two off for what Obert said was “good behavior.”

In all, they guesstimated that they actually walked more than 130 miles as by necessity, they often had to cover the same street more than once to get to the next unwalked street or for return trips on dead end streets.

As time went on and the two of them continued their walking at the YMCA, other guys started joining in on their walks. Many times, they would walk at least 30 laps and some of them, Annen said, would work out on the machines.

One of the guys started laughing and said they most often would just lean on the machines and keep up the chit-chat. And then eventually, they would leave so they could go have coffee.

Obert, as well as the other guys, continued laughing, when he shared a story about their time at the fitness facility. He said the walking track is on the second level and parts of it open up into the lobby where everyone walks in. Well, with some of the guys hard of hearing, their voices weren’t always the quietest and so often people would note that they knew the “Fat Boys” were there as soon as they walked into the facility because they could hear them chatting and laughing up a storm.

Although the group is made up of all guys, Obert shared that they do have one honorary member, who they of course nicknamed. “The Professor,” otherwise known as Christine Hollermann, who teaches at the Alexandria Technical and Community College, used to walk with them at the Y.

Obert said, however, that due to COVID-19 and the closing of the YMCA earlier this year, the group no longer walks there. Even though the facility is reopened, the guys have continued their daily walks outside on the Central Lakes Trail.

As for when the weather gets too cold, the guys said they are leaning toward going back to being mall walkers. But added that they weren’t sure.

For now, they are enjoying their time on the trail – talking, laughing and ultimately, trying to stay healthy.

Six of the nine members of "The Fat Boys Walking Club" head out on the Central Lakes Trail near Big Ole around 7:30 a.m.  Wednesday, Sept.  2. The group, although not all the members, walk six days a week.  (Celeste Edenloff / Echo Press)

Six of the nine members of “The Fat Boys Walking Club” head out on the Central Lakes Trail near Big Ole around 7:30 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 2. The group, although not all the members, walk six days a week. (Celeste Edenloff / Echo Press) 

The 8th Decade

This was my birthweek (why just have a single day?)! This one was a biggie as the birth day was the ultimate confirmation that I have been alive (and kicking) in eight decades . . .

Birthdays are good for you. Statistics show that the people who have the most live the longest. ~ Rev. Larry Lorenzoni

September 1

[It’s always nice when a local candidate for state office stops by for a visit as the Fat Boys Walking Club ambled along the bike trail in the wee small hours of the morning . . . ]

September 2

[And even more so when she does it on a regular basis . . . ]

[Thanks, Carol!]

Paid letter: Wenner is capable and compassionate to lead House District 8B

Sep 2nd 2020 – 10am Echo Press

To the editor:

When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me, Speaking words of wisdom, do something about it!

Carol Wenner has always been one to not let it be. So in these times of trouble, Carol is running as the DFL candidate for Minnesota House District 8B. Please vote for Carol.

Carol’s campaign slogan is capable and compassionate. Now how could you not vote for someone who is capable and compassionate? Carol’s whole life has been defined by those words. She works at Kids Against Hunger Alexandria, has worked for the Chamber of Commerce, did fundraising and grant writing for the Knute Nelson Foundation, and volunteers for a variety of local activities such as United Way, Habitat for Humanity, children’s sports and activities, and diversity and cultural inclusiveness programs. And in her spare time, she’s just plain nice to people.

Nice and decent are words not often mentioned when discussing candidates for public office. Carol is so nice that when she encounters the Fat Boys Walking Club on the bike trail, she walks backwards to more easily carry on a conversation. Nice and decent are great qualities. Be nice. Vote for Carol.

Ruth and Tom Obert

Alexandria, MN

(A paid political letter)

[Birthday cupcakes at our Alexandria Golf Club Wednesday fine dining night. The Super brought them for Ken Esala and me (joint birthdays on the 4th) to share with the cast of several . . . ]

[The proper technique for devouring a cupcake . . . ]

Growing old is like being increasingly penalized for a crime you have not committed. ~ Anthony Powell

My policy on cake is pro having it and pro eating it. ~ Boris Johnson

[Thanks again to Marlene and Richie . . . ]

There is still no cure for the common birthday. ~ John Glenn

[And a fine looking group we are . . . ]

[Birthday cupcakes help make that so . . . ]

[The spoils of birthdays . . . ]

September 4 (The Day)

[Thanks to the Super, won’t have to rely on the neighbors for precipitation results . . . ]

[Birthday dinner with Deb and Paul at the Garden Bar alley . . . ]

[And assorted other Alexandrians . . . ]

[And some heavy metal music courtesy of Terry, Bill, and Jim . . . ]

[The local constabulary threatened a disturbance of the peace citation, but the friendly patrons were able to dissuade them from doing so by brandishing their menacing asparagus stalks . . . ]

[Looks like someone has a birthday present . . . ]

[No asparagus stalks here (yet) officer . . . ]

[And out pops the present (it was a yummy breakfast the next morning) . . . ]

[Thanks, guys!]

[Some day I’ll show you how to make an apple disappear . . . ]

[Fortunately, I’m not Kyle . . . ]

September 5

[A taste of the coming season – a touch of steam coming off Lake H2Obert . . . ]

When I was younger, I could remember anything, whether it happened or not. ~ Mark Twain

[A road trip of a mere 8 miles from home. Nevertheless, we almost lost our lives twice on the way! On the main highway, a pickup truck towing a boat was upset we were only going the speed limit and passed us as we were making a right turn. But a truck was making a right hand turn entering the highway, had to swerve to the shoulder to miss the boat guy, horns blaring all around. Then we were on a dirt road to the farm and came to an intersection, a car coming from the left had stopped at a stop sign, then took off right in front of us apparently thinking we had a stop sign too – we didn’t. Uff da!]

[We arrived safely with a sigh of relief . . . ]

[This was a much larger operation than I thought it was. I was little nervous inside so went back outside. There were more people here than at the average college football game . . . ]

[The Super bought some cookies and a 10-pound caramel apple pie – it was very good!]

[Big orchard – lots of families came pick their own apples . . . ]

[Sweet Tangos were the apples du jour . . . ]

[So we walked down the hill to see what it was all about . . . ]

[Looking back the hill to the store . . . ]

[Back in the big city, Ollie’s Used Cars (where the gorilla’s would wave at the passers-by) at the corner of 3rd and Nokomis is now gone. A new Casey’s convenience store (the 3rd one in Alex) will take over this busy intersection . . . ]

[And the Super, all by her own self, completed “Minneapolis – Mill City” . . . ]

September 6

[Anthony Miltich at Lure Lakebar . . . ]

[Same guy . . . ]

[A fine way to wrap up birthweek . . . ]

[Not a perfect day – gray and quite windy (the Super had to make a diving save on her wine glass) – but a good time was had by all . . . ]

[The wind and the shadow made the video a challenge. But Anthony does a great job channeling his fellow Minnesotan – and we were having fun watching the guy across the street trying to trim a tree (the big branch came down shortly after the video stopped) . . . ]

When the rain Is blowing in your face, And the whole world Is on your case, I could offer you A warm embrace, To make you feel my love. ~ Dylan

[Background entertainment on Lake Le Homme Dieu. A very young lady was waterskiing – I guessed she was 3, Karin said 7. She’s likely right . . . ]

[Remember this family from the Garden Bar?]

[The Super went over to check them out . . . ]

[We were tabled with Karin and Dave . . . ]

[She had amazing stamina, as she appeared to ski by for the whole two hours we were there . . . ]

The way I see it, you should live everyday like it’s your birthday. ~ Paris Hilton

[And, as usual, the rush to put bread in the jar of the piano (guitar) man . . . ]

[The Super loves that gig . . . ]

A man is getting old when he walks around a puddle instead of through it. ~ R. C. Ferguson

September 7 – Labor Day

[It’s a gray, cool, and windy day. Stayed home, didn’t do much, worked on this blog, and now getting ready to binge watch the last 3 episodes of season 1 of Modus . . . ]

[What was that previous meme about showing off one’s spheroids?]

As you get older three things happen. The first is your memory goes, and I can’t remember the other two. ~ Sir Norman Wisdom

First you forget names, then you forget faces, then you forget to pull your zipper up, then you forget to pull your zipper down. ~ Leo Rosenberg

Up Next: Working some old negatives . . .

Europe 1997 (Summary)

September 2

OK, it’s a wrap!  These are mostly the photos that found me on the business end of the camera.  Well, there’s no accounting for taste . . . 

I get pretty much all the exercise I need walking down airport concourses carrying bags.  ~  Guy Clark


Don’t worry about the world ending today, it’s already tomorrow in Australia.  ~  Charles M. Schulz

[As you may recall from just the previous post, the background is Smedenpoort, the historical gateway to Bruges . . . ]

1 - Copy

[These photos, as with those throughout the travelogue, don’t appear to be in any particular order.  Here with Roy-san and the Ghent Belfry . . . ]


[The Belgium-Netherlands border . . . ]


[I, as usual, appear to be a bit out of focus . . . ]


[T Zand Square Fountain in Bruges, with a lovely display of PDA in the background . . . ]

5 - Copy

[Still Bruging . . . ]

6 - Copy

[In Bruges, Guido Pieter Theodorus Josephus Gezelle (1 May 1830 – 27 November 1899) was an influential writer and poet and a Roman Catholic priest.  He is famous for the use of the West Flemish dialect (Wikipedia).]


[In Bruges, Simon Stevin (1548–1620), sometimes called Stevinus, was a Flemish mathematician, physicist, and military engineer. He made various contributions in many areas of science and engineering, both theoretical and practical (Wikipedia).]


[The ever-popular Atomium in Brussels . . . ]


[The occasionally-popular me in an airport (methinks Brussels) . . . ]


[Me on an airplane – we appear to be heading west, and thus home . . . ]


[Mark Spits at (I believe) La Chapelle-d’Abondance, a commune in the Haute-Savoie department in south-eastern France (near Geneva).  La Chapelle d’Abondance has accommodation ranging from Gites to Chambre d’Hotes.  Several independently run, fully catered ski chalets offering accommodation and meals (Wikipedia).]

12 - Copy

[We dined under the tutelage of our hostess, the divine Madame Jeannette.  She was a hoot.  This may have been the day Carine arrived (thus, in Chatel), or it may have been in La Chapelle-d’AbondanceThe same may be said of the following photo . . .

13 - Copy

[But I suspect that it was with Madame Jeannette that we experienced the marvel of a raclette dinner.  raclette dinner party is a twist on fondue that can be a crowd-pleaser for birthdays, holidays, showers, and many other special occasions.  Raclette is a type of cheese from Switzerland that is prepared with vegetables on a special grill  (thespruce.com).]

14 - Copy

[Walter and Roy-san demonstrate that Dave Barry was right – skiing is a fine way to introduce your face to a tree . . . ]

15 - Copy

[Roy’s restaurant in Brussels . . . ]

16 - Copy

[Two tourists and a resident in the Grand Place . . . ]


[Mannekin Pis, one more time . . . ]


[OK, two more times . . . ]

19 - Copy

[Chatel, our home base . . . ]

20 - Copy21 - Copy

[Diehard skiers behind Roy . . . ]

22 - Copy

[But absent good skiing, a tour of our neighborhood . . . ]

23 - Copy

[Hi!  Do you know us?  Why yes, we are tourists from Minnesota . . . ]

24 - Copy

[(Hmmm, I’ll be retired in about 4 years . . . )]


[At the Mont Blanc tunnel . . . ]


[Geneva, I think . . . ]


[Parc des Bastions, Geneva, I think . . . ]


[Parc des Bastions is a lush park below the Old Town is situated in the heart of the city.  It is here that Geneva created its first botanical garden.  In and around the Parc des Bastions you will find the world-renowned Reformation Wall.  On its side, a giant checkers game and chessboard attract players and spectators alike (geneve.com).]

29 - Copy

[Continuing the Geneva theme . . . ]

30 - Copy

[The pollarded plane trees along Lake Geneva . . . ]


[Jean-Jacques Rousseau (28 June 1712 – 2 July 1778) was a Genevan philosopher, writer and composer.  His political philosophy influenced the progress of the Enlightenment throughout Europe, as well as aspects of the French Revolution and the development of modern political, economic and educational thought.  His ‘Discourse on Inequality’ and ‘The Social Contract’ are cornerstones in modern political and social thought (Wikipedia).].


This city of wealth by stealth.  ~  Robert Morley

33 - Copy

I should like the window to open onto Lake of Geneva, and there I’d sit and read all day like the picture of somebody reading.  ~  John Keats

34 - Copy

[The Prisoner of Chillon by Lord Byron . . . ]

35 - Copy

[Double-dipping at the Evian source . . . ]


[With Carine in Yvoire . . . ]

37 - Copy

[Yvoire . . . ]

38 - Copy

[Yvoire . . . ]

41 - Copy

[The Okinawan veterans in Yvoire . . . ]

42 - Copy

[Yvoire . . . ]


[Yvoire . . . ]


[The sweatshirt says St. Olaf, I think not . . . ]


[Chateau La Tour de Marignan, Yvoire . . . ]

46 - Copy

[And the owner of that 1,000-year old winery.  Carine came in really handy as an interpreter here . . . ]


[Back in our Chatel neighborhood . . . ]


[The snow covered mountains of the Jungfrau . . . ]

49 - Copy

[In shorts, what’s not to like?]

50 - Copy

[A rose and two thorns . . . ]

52 - Copy

[Just little ole me and the Matterhorn . . . ]

53 - Copy

[I shopped?  I shopped??  In Zermatt, I guess I did . . . ]

54 - Copy

[In one of the previous “parts” I noted I’d get back to this.  So, here we are.   As you will note in the next visual, Obert still life plates originated here around 1900.  The Super and I have 10 of them; other family members have some as well.  We have found them in various states, from garage sales to antique shops, and have paid anywhere from $.25 to $25 for them.  Let me know if you run across any . . . ]



Keller and Guerin (K&G) in Luneville, France, made antique plates.  They produced porcelain in Luneville, France, from 1788 to 1890. From 1812, and during the following century, Lunéville was the seat of “Keller and Guérin” (Société KG), father and son-in-law.

obert plate3obert plate5obert plate12obert plate13obert plate15obert plate16

[So by pure coincidence, Luneville happened to be on our route back to Brussels.  It’s a small town, so we easily found K&G.  I wanted to find out who Obert was, if perchance we were related.  But alas, my French is tres weak and nobody in the place spoke English.  When I got home I tried to contact the company on-line, but any request for information required a down payment of an excessive amount of euros.  C’est la vie . . . ]


[The say au revoir photo.  Not to worry though – I’m sure I can find other trips from the previous century . . . ]

51 - Copy

You got to be careful if you don’t know where you’re going, because you might not get there.  ~  Yogi Berra

Up Next:  Heading to the archives . . .

Europe 1997 (Part 8)

September 1

One time we played a concert in Antwerp, Belgium.  At least I thought it was Antwerp, Belgium.  Turns out it was a Stop ‘n Shop in Wisconsin somewhere, but it was fun man.  ~  Slash *


*  OK, we didn’t actually make it to Antwerp this trip – we would a couple years later.  I just wanted to us this quote about Antwerp.   Besides, Antwerp is the location of our current favorite TV show (on PBS), Professor T.  This was the last full day in the neighborhood, so we took the road west out of Brussels . . .

[The Grand Place in Brussels . . . ]

4-97-208 - Copy

[Out past the Atomium . . . ]

4-97-209 - Copy

[The Atomium is a landmark building in Brussels, originally constructed for the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair (Expo 58).  It is located on the Heysel Plateau, where the exhibition took place.  It is now a museum.  it stands 102 m (335 ft) tall.  Its nine 18 m (60 ft) diameter stainless steel clad spheres are connected, so that the whole forms the shape of a unit cell of an α-iron (ferrite) crystal magnified 165 billion times.  Tubes of 3 m (10 ft) diameter connect the spheres along the 12 edges of the cube and all eight vertices to the centre.  They enclose stairs, escalators and a lift (in the central, vertical tube) to allow access to the five habitable spheres, which contain exhibit halls and other public spaces. The top sphere includes a restaurant which has a panoramic view of Brussels (Wikipedia).]

4-97-210 - Copy

Ninety-five percent of all Brussels sprouts come from California.  ~  Danny Meyer


[No, we didn’t enter . . . ]


[The Brussels International Exposition of 1935 was a World’s fair held between 27 April and 6 November 1935 on the Heysel Plateau (Wikipedia).  This is the Palais des Expositions built for the exhibition .]

4-97-215 - Copy

[Ghent is a city in the Flemish Region of Belgium.  It is the capital and largest city of the East Flanders province, and the third largest in the country, exceeded in size only by Brussels and Antwerp.  It is a port and university city.  The city originally started as a settlement at the confluence of the Rivers Scheldt and Leie and in the Late Middle Ages became one of the largest and richest cities of northern Europe, with some 50,000 people in 1300 (263,000 currently) (Wikipedia).]

4-97-216 - Copy

[While it’s less “Disney world/honeymoon-paradise” than its neighbour Bruges, Ghent is no less beautiful, and no less short on canals. A simple boat trip will take you on a relaxing trip around the city’s watery arteries, providing a new perspective of the beautiful buildings lining the canals (themostbeautifulplacesineurope.wordpress.com).]

4-97-217 - Copy

[Main square of Ghent . . . ]

4-97-218 - Copy

[Gravensteen Castle . . . ]

4-97-219 - Copy

[Spire on the Town Hall . . . ]


[Appears to be a street of fine dining . . . ]

4-97-221 - Copy

[The Royal Saint-Hubert Galleries are an ensemble of glazed shopping arcades in central Brussels (and here, Ghent).  Designed and built between 1846 and 1847, they precede other famous 19th-century European shopping arcades.  Like them, they have twin regular facades with distant origins in a long narrow street-like courtyard, with glazed arched shopfronts separated by pilasters and two upper floors, under an arched glass-paned roof with a delicate cast-iron framework (Wikipedia).]


[And then on to The Netherlands (it says so on the sign).  As previously noted, going between countries at that time was like crossing a street . . . ]


[Then we walked over a dune to take a look at the North Sea . . . ]

4-97-225 - Copy4-97-226 - Copy

[Another reason why we knew we were in The Netherlands . . . ]


[Well, that was enough of the Dutch.  Here we are back in Ghent again . . . ]

4-97-228 - Copy

[I think we were in search of a fine dining venue, which became my sole major remembrance of the city.  I can’t remember where we ate, but we were well distanced another couple eating there.  As they left, they stopped at our table and asked if we were Americans.  We said yes, how did you know (I doubt they could have heard us talking).  They said by the way we eat.  Only Americans cut their meat, then move the fork from the left hand to the right hand before eating the morsel.  I’d never thought of that before, but it’s true . . . ]

4-97-229 - Copy

[Belfry of Ghent . . . ]


[No, this is not Central Illinois – we’re on the road to Bruges . . . ]

4-97-231 - Copy

[Back to Bruges (I think) . . . ]

4-97-232 - Copy

[The Smedenpoort, a historical gateway to the city of Bruges from the 13th-14th century, is in its current state to narrow to organize a fluid traffic of cars, pedestrians and cyclists. The city of Bruges decided in concertation with the Commission of Monuments and Landscapes to add new footbridges on the both sides of the existing building (10.aeccafe.com).]

4-97-233 - Copy

[Belgium” is the rudest word in the universe, which is “completely banned in all parts of the Galaxy, except in one part, where they could not possibly know what it means.  ~  The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

4-97-234 - Copy

[The Super with the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse in the city’s Central Square . . . ]

4-97-235 - Copy

[Back home to Arlington, Virginia, where we discovered . . .  The Newseum opened at its first location in Rosslyn, Virginia (about a half mile down the hill from where we lived), on April 18, 1997, and on April 11, 2008, it opened at its last location.  As of December 31, 2019, the Newseum closed its doors (at its downtown D.C. location) and is seeking a new site, while many exhibits and artifacts went into storage or were returned to their owners (Wikipedia).]

4-97-199 - Copy

[The above photo is of a section of the Berlin Wall; below is the entire section of the Super, I believe with a fallen, beheaded statue of Lenin . . . ]

4-97-200 - Copy

[A history of news . . . ]

4-97-203 - Copy

[I’ve already forgotten the significance of the dome . . . ]

4-97-204 - Copy

[We were basically just across the street from the USA Today headquarters, with all their news gathering satellite antennas . . . ]

4-97-205 - Copy

[Women’s suffrage – of major significance this year . . . ]

4-97-206 - Copy

[Again, I believe, the headless Lenin . . . ]

4-97-207 - Copy

[And from there it was just a couple of blocks to Arlington National Cemetery . . . ]

4-97-201 - Copy

[And the Netherlands Carillon . . . ]


[Overlooking the nation’s capital . . . ]

4-97-212 - Copy

[And the Iwo Jima Memorial . . . ]

4-97-213 - Copy

He didn’t really like travel, of course. He liked the idea of travel, and the memory of travel, but not travel itself.  ~  Julian Barnes

Modern traveling is not traveling at all; it is merely being sent to a place, and very little different from becoming a parcel.  ~  John Ruskin

Up Next:  Finishing Europe 1997 . . .

Europe (Part 7)

August 30

Switzerland’s been weird since they unplugged the clocks.  ~  Carly Simon


As we had to the finish line, I’m finding the order of the photos on the discs often did not match the order, or place, where they were taken.  Bear with me while I try to muddle through with 23-year old memories . . . 

[Whoa, another shot of the Matterhorn . . . ]

4-97-137 - Copy

[Still in the Matterhorn vicinity . . . ]

4-97-138 - Copy

[And Roy-san waving from the Gornergrat observatories . . . ]

4-97-139 - Copy

[And heading back down in the cable car . . . ]

4-97-141 - Copy

[Must be a view of Zermatt, our end destination . . . ]


[And here we are in Zermatt . . . ]

4-97-140 - Copy

[I believe I still have a Zermatt tee shirt somewhere . . . ]

4-97-149 - Copy

[I have no idea, but it may be at the Swiss-French border.  In the good old days of the EU crossing from one country into another was like crossing from Nebraska into Iowa . . . ]

4-97-142 - Copy

[Why Luneville?  Will be discussed in more detail in the last Europe 1997 blog post . . . ]

4-97-143 - Copy

[The sign says it’s a museum.  Based on the next photo, it may be of crystal . . . ]

4-97-144 - Copy

[Why yes, we’re in Baccarat . . . ]

4-97-145 - Copy

[Baccarat is a French commune in the district of Luneville in the Grand Est region of north-eastern France.   Louis VI authorized the creation of a glassworks in 1764 at the instigation of the Bishop of Metz who was anxious to sell the important local production of firewood.  A glassworks named Antoine Renaut responded to the authorisation.  The works became a crystal glassworks in 1817 and was sold to the Compagnie des Cristalleries in 1881 subsequently achieving worldwide fame under the name of Baccarat  (Wikipedia).]

4-97-146 - Copy

[Shop till you drop.  I don’t recall whether anybody bought any crystal . . . ]

4-97-147 - Copy

[And then it was on to Bruges (Dutch: Brugge; German: Brügge) is the capital and largest city of the provence of West Flanders in the Flemish Region of Belgium, in the northwest of the country, and the seventh largest city of the country by population.  The historic city centre is a prominent World Heritage Site of UNESCO.  The city’s total population is 117,073 (1 January 2008).  The metropolitan area, including the outer commuter zone, has a total of 255,844 inhabitants as of 1 January 2008 (Wikipedia).]

4-97-150 - Copy

[Bruges has most of its medieval architecture intact, making it one of the best preserved medieval towns in Europe.  The historic centre of Bruges has been a UNESCO site since 2000.   Many of its medieval buildings are notable, including the Church of Our Lady, whose brick spire reaches 115.6 m (379.27 ft), making it the world’s second highest brick tower/building.  The sculpture ‘Madonna and Child’, which can be seen in the transept, is believed to be the only of Michelangelo’s sculptures to have left Italy within his lifetime. Bruges’ most famous landmark is its 13th-century belfry, housing a municipal carillon comprising 47 bells.  The city still employs a full-time carillonneur, who gives free concerts on a regular basis (Wikipedia).]

4-97-151 - Copy

[Bruges became then, and remains now, one of our all-time favorite cities.  That’s the City Hall above, and a canal (obviously) below . . . ]

4-97-152 - Copy

[Church of Our Lady . . . ]

4-97-153 - Copy

[The Belfry of Bruges (Dutch: Belfort van Brugge) is a medieval bell tower in the centre of Bruges.  One of the city’s most prominent symbols, the belfry formerly housed a treasury and the municipal archives, and served as an observation post for spotting fires and other dangers (Wikipedia).]


[The historic City Center . . . ]

4-97-155 - Copy

[Having a nosh in the historic City Centre . . . ]

4-97-156 - Copy

Belgium is the best remedy against patriotism.  ~  Geert Van Istendael [Discuss?]


[I think these final four photos will wrap up Bruges . . . ]

4-97-158 - Copy

[But who knows what will be found on the final CD’s . . . ]

4-97-159 - Copy

[BTW, In Bruges is a 2008 British-American black comedy crime film written and directed by Martin McDonagh (Wikipedia).  I would recommend except it has a lot of really naughty language (in English) – but the film does end with a marvelous travelogue of the city itself . . . ]

4-97-160 - Copy

[An overly crowded pedestrian way, so we decided to head for Ghent (next) . . . ]

4-97-161 - Copy

Au revoir, Switzerland . . .


And even before the current president, from In Bruges (a reviewer’s favorite quotes):

Ray: Bruges is a s***hole.

Ken: Bruges is not a s***hole.

Ray: Bruges is a s***hole.

Ken: Ray, we’ve only just got off the f***ing train. Could we reserve judgement on Bruges until we’ve seen the f***ing place?

Ray: I know it’s gonna be a s***hole.

Up Next:  Winding down Europe . . .

Erik “Trumps” Europe

August 29

We were anxious for an afternoon out of the house.  And I needed relief from the Europe 1997 blogs.  So, out we ventured to the winery, joining fellow wino music fans, Karin and Dave Berg, and Deb and Paul Trumm, for the music stylings of Erik Schultz.  And away we go  . . . 

[The sanguineness of the cirrus . . . ]

8-28-20-1 - Copy

In the end we are all just clouds wandering around without fighting off the winds.  ~  Sijdah Hussain

8-28-20-2 - Copy

Behind every cloud is another cloud.  ~  Judy Garland

8-28-20-3 - Copy

[And then Erik offered an afternoon of shelter from the pandemic . . . ]

8-29-20-1 - Copy

[Even though he was wearing a Boogaloo boys shirt . . . ]

8-29-20-2 - Copy

[His last performance before going into a 14-day quarantine so he and Kathy can pay their first visit to their first grandchild . . . ]

8-29-20-3 - Copy

All music is folk music. I ain’t never heard a horse sing a song.  ~  Louis Armstrong

8-29-20-4 - Copy

All the good music has already been written by people with wigs and stuff.  ~  Frank Zappa

8-29-20-6 - Copy

Erik with “Pancho & Lefty” from 3 years ago . . .

[The Fan Club . . . ]

8-29-20-7 - Copy

[Just back from the Duluth music festival that never was this year . . . ]

8-29-20-8 - Copy

Jazz is not dead, it just smells funny.  ~  Frank Zappa

8-29-20-9 - Copy

[The Fan Club, part deux . . . ]

8-29-20-11 - Copy

[Everybody but Karin . . . ]

8-29-20-12 - Copy

[Since she was lost in the crowd in the previous pic, here she is on a different day at the same venue . . . ]

6-20-20-1-1 - Copy

[Now going for the artsy shots . . . ]

8-29-20-13 - Copy

[If not the fartsy . . . ]

8-29-20-14 - Copy

[The grape vines covering the pergola we’re sitting under . . . ]

8-29-20-16 - Copy

[Appear to have a bumper crop of grapes this year . . . ]

8-29-20-18 - Copy

[Bye-bye, buy bonds!]

8-29-20-19 - Copy

Who knew that Frank Zappa was such a bard he was quoted twice here?  ~  Me

There are two kinds of artists left: those who endorse Pepsi and those who simply won’t.  ~  Annie Lennox

Up Next:  Likely Europe again . . .

Europe 1997 (Part 6)

August 28

OK, here comes your highlight reel of outdoor scenery, the Swiss Lakes, the Jungfrau region, and the Matterhorn . . . 


Switzerland is a place where they don’t like to fight, so they get people to do their fighting for them while they ski and eat chocolate.  ~  Larry David

[The Jungfrau (“maiden, virgin”), at 4,158 meters (13,642 ft) is one of the main summits of the Bernese Alps, halfway between Interlaken and Fiesc. Together with the Eiger and Monch, the Jungfrau forms a massive wall of mountains overlooking the Bernese Oberland and the Swiss Plateau, one of the most distinctive sights of the Swiss Alps.  The construction of the Jungfrau railway in the early 20th century, the saddle between the Mönch and the Jungfrau, made the area one of the most-visited places in the Alps.  Along with the Aletsch Glacier to the south, the Jungfrau is part of the Jungfrau-Aletsch area, which was declared a World Heritage Site in 2001 (Wikipedia).]

jungfrau region - Copy

[The Jungfrau region is part of the canton of Bern and it encompasses a portion of the Swiss Alps, including the Jungfrau massif, Lauterbrunnen Valley, Interlaken, Lake Brienz and Lake Thun, and extends west to Adelboden and Gstaad (earthtrekkers.com).]

4-97-162 - Copy

[The Grindelwald–Männlichen gondola cableway is the third longest passenger-carrying gondola cableway in the world.  Each gondola carries up to four passengers, and cableway can transport 900 persons per hour at a speed of 4 m/s (13 ft/s).  The journey time from Grindelwald to Mannlichen is 30 minutes (Wikipedia).]

4-97-163 - Copy

[I’m so ecstatic to be riding the GGM!]

4-97-164 - Copy

[Meanwhile, back on the ground, I always remember this photo of Thun as one of my all-time favorites . . . ]

4-97-165 - Copy

[The Super and Thun . . . ]

4-97-166 - Copy

[And now back to the mountains (?) . . . ]

4-97-167 - Copy

[The cable car has landed.  The Männlichen is a 2,343-metre (7,687 ft) mountain in the Swiss Alps located within the Canton of Berne.  It can be reached from the new (December 2019) Grindelwald Terminal station using the Grindelwald–Männlichen gondola cableway (GM).  It then takes 15 minutes to walk to the summit.  It is a popular viewpoint over the Lauterbrunnen valley and a popular start location for hikers and skiers  (Wikipedia).]

4-97-168 - Copy

[The aforementioned view of the Lauterbrunnen valley below.  I get acrophobia just looking at the photo . . . ]

4-97-169 - Copy

[‘Twas a lovely day, obviously!  So lovely I seem to recall folks taking in the sun on the lounge chairs in their swimsuits (unfortunately, no photographic proof).  Based on the map above, I think we have the Eiger and the Monch as the lead characters in the background.  Remember Clint Eastwood’s movie, “The Eiger Sanction”?]

4-97-170 - Copy

I’ve always wanted to go to Switzerland to see what the army does with those wee red knives.  ~  Billy Connolly

4-97-171 - Copy

[The Mannlichen summit, surprisingly (I guess) snow free . . . ]

4-97-172 - Copy

[The Super’s lovin’ it – she was a skier back in the days . . . ]

4-97-173 - Copy

[Ain’t we got fun??]

4-97-174 - Copy

[Heading back down . . . ]

4-97-175 - Copy

Switzerland is only bearable covered with snow…like some people are only bearable under a sheet.  ~  Graham Greene

4-97-176 - Copy

[Another favorite photo with view of altitudes above and below . . . ]

4-97-177 - Copy

[Interlaken (between lakes) is a Swiss town and municipality in the canton of Bern.  It is an important and well-known tourist destination in the Bernese Highlands, and the main transport gateway to the mountains and lakes of that region.  The town is located on the flat alluvial land called Bodeli between two lakes, Brienz to the east and Thun to the west, and alongside the river Aare, which flows between them.  Interlaken is the central town of a Small Agglomeration with the same name of 23,300 inhabitants.  The official language of Interlaken is (the Swiss variety of Standard) German, but the main spoken language is the local variant of the Alemannic Swiss German dialect (Wikipedia).]

4-97-178 - Copy

[It’s too bad that a lot of the photos from this trip got “shuffled” on the disc, and after all this time I’m not sure of their proper order.  Anyway, this appears to still be in the Jungfrau?]

4-97-179 - Copy

[My first parachute jump.  I heard I was doing great until I hit the Matterhorn . . . ]


[Again, Jungfrau?]


[Or on the way up to . . . ]

4-97-182 - Copy

[The Matterhorn]

4-97-183 - Copy

[The Matterhorn is a mountain in the Alps, straddling the main watershed and border between Switzerland and Italy.  It is a large, near-symmetric pyramidal peak in the extended Monte Rosa area of the Pennine Alps, whose summit is 4,478 metres (14,692 ft) high, making it on of the highest summits in the Alps and Europe.  The four steep faces, rising above the surrounding glaciers, face the four compass points and are split by ridges.  The mountain overlooks the Swiss town of Zermatt, in the canton of Valais, in the Aosta Valley to the south (Wikipedia).]

4-97-184 - Copy

[I was told how lucky I was to have such a clear day for photos (so I took lots), that usually the summit is hidden by clouds


I don’t like Switzerland; it has produced nothing but theologians and waiters.  ~  Oscar Wilde

4-97-186 - Copy

[The Gornergrat train goes from the village centre in Zermatt to Gornergrat (3,089 m) in 33 minutes.  From this vantage point, one of the most beautiful mountain panoramas in the world opens up – with a view of the Matterhorn (4,478 m) (zermatt.ch).]

4-97-187 - Copy

[Zermatt is a municipality in the German-speaking section of the canton of Valais in Switzerland.  It has a population of about 5,800 inhabitants.  It lies at the upper end of Mattertal at an elevation of 1,620 m (5,310 ft), at the foot of Switzerland’s highest peaks (Wikipedia).]


Switzerland is a curst, selfish, swinish country of brutes, placed in the most romantic region of the world.  ~  Lord Byron

4-97-189 - Copy

[Roy and . . . ]

4-97-190 - Copy

[Company . . . ]

4-97-191 - Copy

[At the Matterhorn viewpoint . . . ]

4-97-192 - Copy

[Time for our 2-miles high bag lunch . . . ]

4-97-193 - Copy

[The building sign tells all . . . ]

4-97-194 - Copy

[We’re at Gornergrat at 3,100m . . . ]

4-97-195 - Copy

[In the late 1960s two astronomical observatories were installed in the two towers of the Kulmhotel Gornergrat. The project ‘Stellarium Gornergrat’ is hosted in the Gornergrat South Observatory (Wikipedia).]

4-97-196 - Copy

[The Gornergrat Railway is a mountain rack railway.  It links the resort village of Zermatt, situated at 1,604 m (5,262 ft) above mean sea level, to the summit of the Gornergrat.  The Gornergrat railway station is situated at an altitude of 3,089 m (10,135 ft), which makes the Gornergrat Railway the second highest railway in Europe after the Jungfrau, and the highest open-air railway of the continent.  The line opened in 1898, and was the first electric rack railway to be built in Switzerland (Wikipedia).]

4-97-198 - Copy

[The above photo was actually the last.  But I made this the last because it will be the display photo for Facebook, featuring the three stars of the day: The Super, The Matterhorn, and Roy!]

4-97-197 - Copy

Switzerland is simply a large, lumpy, solid rock with a thin skin of grass stretched over it.  ~  Mark Twain

Up Next:  Nearing the end of Europe . . .