Life Under Quarantine

We are now in the midst of our 17th week thusly.   We are venturing outside more as weather permits.  We do not expect to venture anywhere indoors for the foreseeable future . . . 

July 3

[The Fat Boys Walking Club returning from its 6 days-a-week amble along The Central Lakes State Trail, a 55 mile former railroad route turned paved bike trail that runs through 3 counties and 10 communities. This trail begins in Fergus Falls and ends in Osakis . . . ]

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[The boys ambling toward the Big Ole parking lot, along side the newest additions to Big Ole Park – musical instruments available to do your best impressions of Lionel Hampton . . . ]

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[The other four guys continued their walk while I stopped for these photos . . . ]

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[The Big Ole garden . . . ]

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[The Big Ole Farmers Market . . . ]

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[The Big Ole welcome to Alexandria . . . ]

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[Followed by our afternoon visit to Carlos Creek Winery . . . ]

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[Erik Schultz was flying solo.  We brought our own chairs to socially distance . . . ]

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[Winery owner Tami Bredeson stopped by for a chat.  Later, we joined Erik and Kathy for dining in the alley at the Garden Bar on 6th . . . ]

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July 5

[Patchouli at Carlos Creek – a fine way to top off the holiday weekend.  You may have noticed we skipped the 4th – that’s because we did . . . ]

[Due to a camera faux pas (OK, it’s on me as an aging Cub Reporter), I came home from the day to find I had no photos on the memory chip.  I can only figure it must have been askew in the camera and I hadn’t noticed it.  Absent live photos, here are some I must have borrowed from the internet at one time or another.  The first is an example of Bruce’s artwork, all featuring guitars . . . ]

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[Bruce and Julie sitting on . . . a Rubik’s Cube?]

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[My guess is Naples or Marco Island, where they hide out and perform in winters . . . ]

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[If any of my crowd shots would have turned out, they would have looked something like this . . . ]

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[And then we came home for the end of the only live sporting event we have . . . ]

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July 6

[Just a generic shot of a many a day activity to pass the time . . . it’s puzzling?  And with our access to PBS Online, we spend our afternoons watching episodes of such as “Unforgotten,” Professor T,” “The Tunnel” . . . ]

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[An evening Zoom meeting between SHAPESHIFT, a Minneapolis dance collective, whose founder performed with Prince’s band 3rdEyeGirl and which has danced in front of 20,000 strong at Xcel Energy Center, was created on the fly.  Seven years ago, Creative Director, Ashley Selmer and a collective of then 9 dancers, joined together to create a one time show for their generation – something fresh and innovative that would feature all types of dancers from various socio-economic backgrounds, trained in dance styles from hip-hop, contemporary, to modern and Ballet (from their website) . . . ]

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[And board members and interested patrons of Theatre L’Homme Dieu . . . ]

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[We’ve teamed up with SHAPESHIFT again to continue the talkback. Those of you who experienced this powerful work on stage are invited to (virtually) join me and the cast of SHAPESHIFT for a conversation and reflection in the wake of George Floyd’s murder.  ~  Nicole Mulder, Executive Director, TLHD]

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July 7

[Just another day in Vacationland USA . . . ]

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Whenever . . .

[Some day we will be released to once again become serious shoppers, as so identified here in the Arlington (VA) Journal, December 27, 1994 . . . ]

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If plan A doesn’t work, the alphabet has 25 more letters — 204 if you’re in Japan.  ~ Claire Cook

Up Next:  Only COVID knows . . .





June 19

After 12 weeks of quarantine, we ventured out for outdoor dining at the golf club a couple weeks ago.  We maintained spacing for our first social event of the season – the usual suspects were there.  We have subsequently ventured out to other venues – the first criteria required is that they be outside.  We expect to do something inside by 2027 . . .  

[On the shores of beautiful Lake Irene, 13.2 miles north of Lake H2Obert . . . ]

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[We joined fellow winos here on a lovely day.  It was a venture of first impression for Karin and Dave.  We all enjoyed wine flights, with some Redhead Creamery Havarti cheese (more on that later).  We hadn’t paid a visit to our friends’, Polly and Dave, winery for a quite a while but hopefully made up for it with a case of their finest . . . ]

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[6 of each . . . ]

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June 20

[The next day we joined Karen and Dave again, along with their daughter Jody from Chicago, at Carlos Creek Winery.  Our first visit of the season there as well.  They appeared to be doing well in keeping within the pandemic guidelines.  Only one masked person at a time at the bar to order wine – then take it to your outside tables for . . . ]

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[Josie, in believed to be her 10th season performing here.  Soon to be 21, she’s heading into her senior year of college and has applied for medical school . . . ]

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[In doctor school, she’ll learn how to suture and thus repair her jeans . . . ]

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[We had a nice properly distanced visit with her folks and grandma as we left . . . ]

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June 24

[As a prelude to our usual Wednesday fine dining at the golf club, we took a drive out to Theatre L’Homme Dieu to see how things are trending on campus.  Along the way, one passes Rotary Beach on Lake Le Homme Dieu . . . ]

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[A beautiful evening with lots of boat traffic . . . ]

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[The beach has a lovely bottom, not unlike Jennifer Lawrence (can I say that?) . . . ]

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[The Super and I would dip here when we were living with Mom while our Lake Darling home was being built . . . ]

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[We really don’t miss not having a boat?]

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[We can run through the sprinkler at home . . . ]

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[I’m not sure how many people know Theatre L’Homme Dieu has lake front property . . . ]

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[Well, this is it – on Lake Le Homme Dieu, naturally.  The main campus is across the street, on the northside of County Road 120 . . . ]

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[Because the theater season remains in flux and is totally dependent on COVID activities, we have not put the dock in this year.  When in, it can accommodate 6 boats for those who choose to come to the theater by water . . . ]

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[The entry onto campus . . . ]

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[We have removed trees from the south (front) and east (parking) sides of the theater with plans for an extended patio with tables in front and for handicap parking  on the side . . . ]

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[The dreary concrete block east side is now looking spiffy painted black . . . ]

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[Backtracking to the golf club, Interlachen is the most northern ‘Alex’ restaurant at the intersection of County Roads 42 and 120.  Restaurants with available space have set up covered outside dining areas . . . ]

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[Now Rotary Beach is on the left side and Lake Carlos on the right.  This whole stretch of County Road 42 is a designated scenic highway . . . ]

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[Next up is Lure Lakebar (previous site of Bug-A-Boo Bay) and next door to Zorbaz . . . ]

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[And then the Alexandria Golf Club.  We have covered the patio . . . ]

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[But our group prefers the deck . . . ]

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[Fine dining . . . ]

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[“Here we come . . . Walkin’ down the street . . . We get the funniest looks from . . .  Everyone we meet.  Hey, hey, we’re the Monkees!”]

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June 25

[In our continuing efforts to patronize our favorite dining venues, tonight The Garden Bar on 6th.  Again, covered outdoor dining in the alley parking lot.  That’s Jack making sure everything’s OK . . . ]

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[That’s the Super . . . ]

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[The Super scouring the menu . . . ]

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[She ordered the beef and mushroom cavatappi and I beef ramen.  Both tasty . . . ]

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[And live entertainment on the red carpet . . . ]

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[Terry and Bill’s (Tuesday Night Club) easy listening music with the best acoustics ever (per Terry) . . . ]

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[We were joined by Deb and Paul as a prelude to our next scheduled event . . . ]

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[Deb is the founder and director of our nonfiction book club . . . ]

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[Then it was on to “Say Their Names,” sponsored by Change in Motion, at Big Ole Park.  Here Ruthie visits with some young members . . . ]

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[Change in Motion is a new organization that focuses on educating and uplifting diverse cultures in our area . . . ]

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[We joined with Deb and Paul (on the left here) after the Garden Bar . . . ]

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[And here’s their purpose . . . ]

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[Mattie Bogart, an AAHS graduate and upcoming college sophomore, started the program and was joined by AAHS classmate Nikki Botzet . . . ]

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[And here’s Deb, showing herself to be ambidextrous . . . ]

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[Pamela Turner, Bayton, TX, May 13, 2019; Michael Brown, Ferguson, MO, August 9, 2014]

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[The Super with Paterson Brown, Richmond, VA, June 14, 2016 . . . ]

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[And me with Phillip White, Vineland, NJ, March 31, 2015 . . . ]

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June 26 – Road Trip

[This trip was originally scheduled for the previous week, but the weather then was not conducive to a convertible ride.  This day looked good so off we went on the beginning of a 94.5 mile loop around the greater West Central Minnesota neighborhood . . . ]

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[Here and above going straight south on Highway 29 toward Glenwood.  Well known along this route as one gets close to Glenwood are the “booted” fence posts . . . ]

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[A bit hard to get a good shot as you’re hurtling along at 60 mph . . . ]

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[The Gateway to Glenwood: The intersections of Highways 29 & 55 and the railroad . . . ]

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[And we’re here . . . ]

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[The first view of Lake Minnewaska . . . ]

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[Down the big hill (mountain in Minnesota) to the lake . . . ]

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[To the 13th largest lake in the state . . . ]

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[Why, thank you!]

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[The Pope County stoplight, the heart of town . . . ]

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[We are now on Highway 104 continuing our straight south route.  The city beach on the lake ahead . . . ]

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[The first planned stop on the trip, Barsness Park.  Amazingly (?), I had never been here before.  Just the other side of the road from the lake, it is surprisingly large and lovely with stuff such as this playground and two woman having coffee at a picnic table . . . ]

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[Driving back out toward the lake . . . ]

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[Lots of open space . . . ]

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[Approaching the lake and Highway 104 again – we’ll hang a left at the stop sign . . . ]

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[Shooting back towards town . . . ]

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[Lake view on a gorgeous summer day . . . ]

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[Along the route, a farm and its pond . . . ]

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[Bucolic . . . ]

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[Heading into the land of one inhabitant per square mile . . . ]

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[Swift Falls, population unknown.  We did not go there, unless I missed it . . . ]

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[A 175 acre lake (i.e., about half the size of Lake Cowdry) named for a pastor’s wife (you can’t get this information just anywhere) . . . ]

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[The only road sign within a hundred mile radius with 4 road names on it.  No, I don’t know how old the Millpond is . . . ]

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[But it led us in to destination number 2 . . . ]

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[Terrace is another place of unknown population, but it is 42 acres large and is an historic site . . . ]

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[We have a history here and this is it.  More later . . . ]

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[The restaurant on the Chippewa River . . . ]

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[We know Cimarron . . . ]

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[The river . . . ]

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[This is truly fly over country . . . ]

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[Mostly a photo of the tree . . . ]

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[Because it’s such a beautiful setting we probably were here for 20 minutes.  In that time we saw a woman walking a dog and one truck went by.  No other signs of life . . . ]

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[The mill falls . . . ]

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[And trending out the other side . . . ]

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[The Super at the neighboring overlook . . . ]

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[Looking back at where I was . . . ]

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[Not current construction.  It had a list . . . ]

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[As noted on Facebook:  On the road with Ma & Pa Kettle . . . ]

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[Historic . . . ]

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[And the restaurant across the street.  It does not appear to be open.  It was a destination dining place in the past, and over the years it has had multiple owners . . . ]

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[Back in the day, we went to the restaurant at least twice with friends Viv and Bob during the Christmas season for a fine dining experience.  This was December 13, 2006 . . . ]


[We went for eats in the summer as well when the owner chefs were here (one wintered in New York, the other in Florida, back in the day) . . . ]

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[Where we were . . . ]

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[Interesting street sign arrangement in downtown Terrace . . . ]

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[Within feet of each other, “parallel parking” followed by “no parking any time”?]

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[And don’t camp either!]

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[Moving on to our next stop, a church at the top of the hill . . . ]

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[Where Elmer Brandanger is buried (his plaque is on the bridge) . . . ]

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[Hey, big boy, lookin’ for a ride?]

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[Next up, Sedan, which is at least large enough to have a population . . . ]

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[Interesting song on the radio as we pulled into Sedan . . . ]

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[Lest you missed it the first time . . . ]

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[Downtown Sedan, and that’s about it . . . ]

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[An educated guess would be the old school . . . ]

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[When you come to the fork in the road, take it.  Padua, population unknown, has (or had) a noted restaurant; Brooten has a population of 746, a relative monster . . . ]

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[We, on the other hand, were headed to the Redhead Creamery (with a Brooten address), the major destination of this adventure . . . ]

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[Left, then right?]

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[It was a 2 1/2 mile gravel road in to get there . . . ]

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[While it is a beautiful example of rural Americana . . . ]

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[I love this shot.  We met two cars and a big truck heading outbound.  The truck, in particular, created a brown out of a dust storm as it went by . . . ]

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[But we finally came upon another sign . . . ]

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[Getting close . . . ]

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[Cows!  We must be there!]

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[Why I wanted to come here.  The Super had been here a few years ago with the AAUW.  But a full page story in the U of M Alumni Magazine, Summer 2020, was impressive, backed by our trip (at the top of this post) to L’Etoile du Nord where they served Redhead Havarti cheese with the wine tasting, made it a must see destination . . . ]

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[This is the store, and restaurant . . . ]

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[We bellied up to the menu bar and ordered the baguette to split and two glasses of Burr Vinyards Frontenac (Burr is in Brandon, and owned by friend Florian Ledermann) . . . ]

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[I’m starved!]

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[Ahhhh, lunch has arrived!]

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[Loved the baguette (darn, we forgot to ask if they sold them) . . . ]

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[Inside for additional purchases.  That’s our server behind the counter.  She took the outside photos of us.  She’s a summer intern, from Lester Prairie, going to school at South Dakota State where she majors in cows . . . ]

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[We bought Havarti (of course) and beer cheddar . . . ]

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[The Redheads.  We didn’t meet any of them.  I wanted to ask what kind of impact the alumni magazine article has had on their business . . . ]

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[Load ’em up . . . ]

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[Back to the car . . . ]

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[The Super speaks cow . . . ]

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[She wouldn’t tell me what they said . . . ]

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[We somehow missed “downtown” . . . ]

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[The road home, through the mountains of Minnesota, where wind turbines ruled the skyline . . . ]

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[Just some along the road shots . . . ]

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[When you reach Osakis, you’re as good a home . . . ]

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June 27

[The Salty Dogs moved onto the Marquette state at Carlos Creek where Josie worked the previous weekend . . . ]

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[Annie, Greg, Annie, and Tom were in mid-season form despite not having performed in many months . . . ]

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[Do you see those guys over there?]

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[I think they’re talent scouts!]

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[Mr. Selfie wraps up the weekend!]

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June 9 (2007)

[The last photo in the blog appears in the Facebook post.  I thought this would be a good seasonal grabber, shot somewhere on a back road between Sauk Centre and Alex 13 years ago.]


What is the logic, or reasoning, for hating a fellow human being because of the color of their skin?  ~  Me

Up Next:  Only COVID will tell . . . stay safe, wear your mask, and VOTE

Time For Change

June 11

Collective fear stimulates herd instinct, and tends to produce ferocity toward those who are not regarded as members of the herd.  ~  Bertrand Russell

PRESS RELEASE For immediate release:
Alexandria, MN

Alexandria citizens, Inclusion Network, and other civic leaders join forces and plan peaceful Time for Change event to promote creating a community of equality.
Time for Change event is Thursday evening, June 11, from 7:00-8:00 p.m. The peaceful, family friendly event is at 1401 Jefferson St, adjacent to Alexandria Technical & Community College.

All who are in support of creating a community of equality are welcome. Attendees are asked to wear masks and support Stay Safe Order guidelines.

Event will be livestreamed:

Objective is community awareness of the importance of creating a culture of equality (specifically racial justice) and inspire people to take positive actions going forward.

The event will bring attention to the objective of equality by coordinating a peaceful, family friendly event which includes speakers who stand for equality and/or have experienced and witnessed inequality in our community.

The event is being planned by a number of local citizens with input from several community stakeholders and in cooperation with key civic leaders.
Speakers to include: Pastor Hans Dahl, Mattie Bogart, Niki Botzet, Jay Sieling, Kevin Taylor and Josette Ciceron. Welcome by Mayor Sara Carlson.

The Inclusion Network (IN) is a group of dedicated, passionate people with a common goal: to make Central Minnesota an inclusive and welcoming place for people of all backgrounds to live and work. Our goal is to strengthen the region through an appreciation and understanding of diversity and cultural differences.

Kelli Minnerath
Director of Development, West Central Community Action Inclusion Network, committee member

[The Super prepares for the event . . . ]

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[We arrive on the footprint of our old Jefferson High School . . . ]

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[Trying to maintain proper distancing and have shade . . . ]

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[Our next door neighbor, Dave, standing on the left . . . ]

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[You may recall Jon and Rita from our 3rd Avenue vigil of a week and a half ago . . . ]

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[The stage, featuring an Alexandria water tower as a backdrop . . . ]

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[A turn of 180 degrees, the Alexandria Technical and Community College . . . ]

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[And the five person foreground just happened to be friends Dave (yes, the same one), Harvey, Susan, Judy, and Dwaine.  It took me a while to figure out how easy it was for people to recognize a masked me – I wasn’t wearing a hat . . . ]

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[Alexandria mayor Sara Carlson led off the program.  She is stepping down from her mayoral duties after a successful 8 years on the throne . . . ]

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[Next up was Calvary Lutheran pastor Hans Dahl, always a hoot . . . ]

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[Then the multi-talented and ATCC educator, Jay Sieling . . . ]

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[Some of you may recall that Jay and I are identical twins.  We are unique in twindom in that I am 16 years older than he is . . . ]

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[Friends Ken (“The Crane”) and Jeanne were spotted seated in the crowd . . . ]

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[Then the 526 second moment of silence to honor George Floyd . . . ]

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[Jay and company helped spread flowers . . . ]

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[To 526 drum beats . . . ]

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[The crowd estimate was around 300 . . . ]

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[Next up were 2019 graduates of Alexandria Area High School . . . ]

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[They were incredibly impressive . . . ]

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[Polished performances by Mattie Bogart . . . ]

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[And Niki Botzet, who I watched play basketball for the Cardinals . . . ]

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[Then Kevin Taylor . . . ]

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[Who as he noted the only black minister in town and the difficulties therein . . . ]

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[Then the main speaker, Josette Ciceron, who received a standing ovation . . . ]

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[Originally from Haiti, Jo came to Alex 5 years ago and is now involved in such as her own podcast, Definitive Woman magazine, and the Inclusion Network . . . ]

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[Alexandria Police Captain Scott Kent closed the program serializing tipping points in U.S. history . . . ]

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In full disclosure, where I’m coming from (with yet another rejected letter by the Strib):

June 2, 2020

I am a 72-year old white man. I grew up in all-white Alexandria. I spent most of my working career in majority black Washington, D.C. My extended family is multi-color and multi-religion. I have lived through many and participated in some demonstrations concerning law enforcement’s treatment of people of color. We cannot continue like this. I am prone to remind people that nine out of 10 inhabitants of this planet are people of color and that five out of seven are not Christians.

My proposal, therefore, is to hire only black cops. I know there are all kinds laws, rules, and regulations regarding equal employment opportunities (I worked for the Department of Labor), but we all know those rules have been eschewed whenever it suits the white majority. So, let’s give it a shot. To paraphrase our president, what have we got to lose.


Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.  ~  Martin Luther King, Jr.

Up Next:  Unknown, still dealing with COVID-19 . . .

“We Stand With Black and Brown People”

May 31

Racism is prejudice, bias, discrimination, unfairness, injustice, intolerance, xenophobia, jingoism, stupid, insidious, ignorant, foolish, idiotic, moronic, obtuse, cruel, evil, immoral, cretinous, sinful, ungodly, bad, wrong, foul, has no basis in science and is just plain not nice.  But then, you knew all that.  So, what’s problem?  Apparently we all don’t know it is a problem that has afflicted mankind since time immemorial.  I’m certainly not going to solve it here.  But it seems its basis may now be found in what appears to be a recently coined term called “alternate facts.”  If there are “alternate facts” you have no basis for discussion.  If you say something is a Buick and are rebutted with it’s a pine tree, you have hit a wall from which there is no detour.  In this day, if you say someone or some organization is racist, you will be countered with such as 1st or 2nd amendment or Constitutional rights in general, or with the “what abouts?”  You may as well just go home and sip a Drambuie.  Is there now light at the end of the underground railroad?  Dare I say maybe?  There seems to be possibilities within Generation Z.  For among other things, they by large majorities recognize the need to combat climate change, for gun control, for health care for all, and that “equal justice for all” means exactly that.  Our morning of “silent witness in solidarity” was heartening in that locally 125 people participated and the public response was universally (almost) positive.

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[The gathering at 3rd and Broadway, 9:30 am, Sunday, May 31 . . . ]

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[This gathering point is where a new business and residential facility will be built consuming the entire block . . . ]

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[It was a beautiful morning . . . ]

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[The why . . . ]

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[In the era of COVID masking, I could only identify most folks by their voice . . . ]

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[The liquor store kitty-corner would ultimately sate the Super’s thirst desires . . . ]

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[Father Steve has joined the group.  That’s the armory across the street . . . ]

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[I don’t care what you say, we aren’t crossing the street!]

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[Jay and Gail have tried mightily to bring civility to the local political discourse . . . ]

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[The rest of us are beginning to join Jay and Gail as we will stretch out along the north side of 3rd Avenue . . . ]

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[Head ’em up, move ’em out . . . ]

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[With final words of advice from our fearless leader, Jon Koll . . . ]

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[Mr. Koll’s protocol . . . ]


[The Supervisor pitched in to help hold up the banner – except from her middle position she couldn’t see over it . . . ]

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[Father Steve, in the anchor position, in discussion with Rita Koll, the power behind the throne . . . ]

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[To maintain proper distancing, I walked up the parking lots behind to get an idea on the length of our congregation . . . ]

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[That may be the Echo Press shooting photos from across the street . . . ]

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[A plug to our realtor, as Preeti (backpack), an organizer, heads down the hill . . . ]

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[Still going . . . ]

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[I crossed the street for some full frontals (the previous day I binge watched “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee”).  They seemed to be spaced quite nicely . . . ]

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[Crossing back, the photo on the run was a bit fuzzy . . . ]

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[President-for-Life of the Nonfiction Book Club . . . ]

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[New arrivals on the far side . . . ]

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[Well, we were standing together (someone has to keep an eye on them . . . ]

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[Media coverage by Al Roepke TV . . . ]

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[Rita and Sylvia in discussion . . . ]

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[I believe that to be Tommy Lee, media coverage from radio . . . ]

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[Shooting back up 3rd . . . ]

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[Rita says it all . . . ]

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[After 2 1/2 hours on the line, we retreated to Big Ole Park to discuss the day . . . ]

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[Led by Jon and Preeti . . . ]

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[This is just the start . . . ]

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[We have to keep this going . . . ]

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[All-in-all, it went quite well . . . ]

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[Many thanks to the organizers.]

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[Kids’ ornaments on the Big Ole tree . . . ]

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The reason people think it’s important to be white is that they think it’s important not to be black.  ~  James Baldwin

As the entire world is now demonstrating on behalf of George Floyd, it may be useful for the United States to consider that nine out of 10 people on this planet are people of color and that only two out of seven people are Christians. 


May 27, 2020

On this day, the country’s COVID-19 death count reached 100,000.  We are in our 11th week of quarantine.  We had not seen Jami and Danny probably since Christmas?  They usually visit Alex once a month for meetings, but between winter weather and the pandemic it has not been possible since then.  We had not driven the car farther than 6 miles in 3 months.  We decided to make a dash for The Harn on a beautiful weather day.  This is the first blog posting in two months, the longest such stretch in a decade (you’re welcome) . . .

[Jami recently posted this on Facebook, on the highway along their property in Shevlin, Clearwater County, Minnesota.  Why yes, this is not a heavily populated area . . . ]

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[Alida, Minnesota, which we passed on the way, is walking distance from The Harn.  This country store is basically all of Alida, whose population has never been censused but is believed to be single digits . . . ]

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[The Super dropped me off at The Harn mailbox, and I videoed my amble up the driveway . . . ]

[Jami greeted us outside as we unloaded all the things they haven’t been able to pick up in the last 6 months, including her birthday presents . . . ]

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[Yay, my birthday presents!!]

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[Jigsaw puzzles seem to be the order of the day under quarantine . . . ]

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[We all wore facemasks to protect each other and to annoy the president . . . ]

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[A political button banner from Mom . . . ]

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[And a bottle of the grape . . . ]

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[A warm wrap for around the house in the winter . . . ]

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[A peek into their greenhouse . . . ]

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[A previous present from Mom . . . ]

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[Showing off recent plantings and to be planted . . . ]

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[Apparently this is an issue in their “neighborhood” . . . ]

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[I always thought the “fallen” tree in the driveway was dead . . . but it isn’t!]

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[Looking back towards the highway . . . ]

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[A worm sac!  Who knew?]

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[Planted flowers along the driveway . . . ]

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[Back out on the highway as part of the property tour (they have 20 acres) . . . ]

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[Where Jami was on the first photo.  You take a left in the distance ahead and there’s Alida . . . ]

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[Heading back in to The Harn, one of the gardens . . . ]

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[Jami points out new plantings on the short side of The Harn . . . ]

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[Talking to tulips . . . ]

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[The cistern for catching rain water, which they use for watering stuff . . . ]

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[We had a nice visit and lunch on the porch.  The porch photos by Jami . . . ]


[Then it was time to head for home . . . ]

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[We didn’t go back the detoured way we came.  It involved a more exciting route by way of Zerkel, and Siri eventually caught on . . . ]

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[Zerkel, like Alida, apparently has never been censused either.  I believe it to be larger than Alida but the “downtown” was not on our route . . . ]

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[Alida and Zerkel were the only signs of communal living in the first 10 minutes of our trip . . . ]

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[Appears to have a successful crop of black dirt . . . ]

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[Ditto . . . ]

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[Before we left Becker County (just south of Clearwater County) we came upon this body of water . . . ]

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[It was substantial in size . . . ]

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[Shell Lake is substantial at 3200 acres, or about 600 acres larger than our own Lake Carlos . . . ]

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[At the 70-minute mark we finally hit signs of civilization again.  Butler was at the northern entrance to Otter Tail County and a relative monster with a population of 315.  The Great Pyramids of Otter Tail are featured below . . . ]

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[At the 80-minute mark we finally hit a town you would find on most maps.  New York Mills has a population of 1,200, about the same size as Osakis . . . ]

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[What’s orange and black and has 38 fins?  A: A school bus in New York Mills.  (You see, it’s a Finnish community – so if we had written 38 Finns, it wouldn’t have been funny . . . ]

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[Next up, Deer Creek . . . ]

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[We’re in the “neighborhood” of Alexandria now . . .

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[Pretty darn big . . . ]

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[They even have museum . . . ]

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[And then before Alex, the last town with at least a 4-digit population . . . ]

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[And 20 minutes later, home.  It was a 251 mile round trip (used less than a half a tank of gas).  The trip home was 120 miles and took a little over 2 hours.  We were surprised how few pockets of population there were along the way – it was an all nature drive.]

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[As now for something completely different.  Sister Gretch matriculated to the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, D.C. after high school.  Now in retirement she has returned to her avocation.  Below our brother Chris and her rendering thereof.  It was much appreciated on Facebook . . . ]



[So, I wondered about her rendering of me . . . ]

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[Whad’ya think?]

nude drawn at paul bakery 9.4.2019

If you think adventure is dangerous try routine, it’s lethal.  ~ Paulo Coelho

Up next:  Whatever will be will be . . .


“The Heights”

April 1

You Can’t Go Home Again.  ~ Thomas Wolfe

This, of course, is the title of the novel published in 1940.  There are two immediately recognizable reasons why Mr. Wolfe couldn’t go home again:  1) He was dead (the book was published posthumously), and b) it was before the advent of GPS and he was geographically incapable of finding it otherwise. But seriously folks, Wolfe’s novel was not well-received by the residents of his hometown, Asheville, North Carolina, because of how they were depicted in the book.  He would have feared physical endangerment if he ever went back. Sounds very similar to the love/hate relationship between Sinclair Lewis and Sauk Centre, Minnesota, after Main Street was published. 

Anyway, this is not about Mr. Wolfe’s hometown.  It is about mine (it’s my blog, after all).  And specifically remembrances of growing up in Victoria Heights in Alexandria, Minnesota.  Those glorious days of yesteryear, when the white middle class was burgeoning and all was right with the world.  The writers and creators of the Ozzie and Harriet TV show came to Victoria Heights for inspiration.  Thus, when I retired 19 years ago in Washington, D.C., and people asked where I was going to live in retirement, I said Alexandria, Minnesota.  They were alternately amused and confused, most thinking federal law required one to retire in Florida or Arizona, that there were no other choices . . . 

The following was recently shared with the local populace by the Douglas County Historical Society and was the inspiration for this missive . . . 

[Dad was the editor of the Park Region Echo; Dick Dyke was the general manager of the paper.  Our families were thusly very close – Dad always said that in all the years he and Dick worked together, they never shared a cross word . . . ]

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[The “Heights” was like the first suburb of Alexandria, though it was in the city limits.  We were geographically distant (by a whole two miles) from downtown and were separated from downtown by a farm, some sand pits, a slough, and the city dump.  In rural schools, you were identified as either a townie or a farm kid – but in Alex we Heighters were the third option.  We were isolated from town – in those days families had one car, dad drove it to work, and mom stayed home with the kids – so we became a close knit community.  Everybody knew everybody else and all their kids and all their pets (by name).  I learned 50 years later that the townies thought Victoria Heights is where the rich people lived?  All households had a mom & dad and 4 kids and one dog and other animals and lived in 1,500 square foot ramblers with one car garages that were turned into summer porches (when a large screen door replaced the garage door) and a few households had 14 foot aluminum boats with 5 hp motors that they kept at our Lake Victoria public landing and the yearly excitement was when everybody raked their leaves into piles on our dirt roads and then set ablaze to provide that burning leaf aroma throughout the neighborhood and at Christmas there would be a bit of one upmanship when it came to outdoor decorating and where a most memorable childhood memory was running behind the road grader when it came to level out our dirt roads – that cool hardness of compressed graded sand on our bare feet was magic – and where as school approached Wencil Kroupa would drive his dump truck down from his sand pit and throw pencils out his window to the kids as we chased down the street after him.  It was all almost as good as sourdough toast with butter . . . ]

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[So, let me take you back to those halcyon years of childhood, where “angst” was just a 5-letter word that only applied to your father when he thought about mortgage payments.  The wishing well below was on our founder’s, Fred J. Foslien, property on Lake Victoria.  We called him “Friendly” Fred.  Fred had to drive through the Heights to get to his house and when we kids saw him coming, we would line up on both sides of the street to wave to him as he passed and he’d wave back with both hands, thus with hands free driving.  The photo below the wishing well is of the road through the Heights to our public boat landing on Lake Victoria . . . ]

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[I never understood why it was called Victoria “Heights”?  It was actually down hill from town . . . ]

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[The Brandenburg’s backyard abutted our backyard.  They had three daughters, the one in the middle is Linnea who moved back to Alex a few years ago and who I run into at high school basketball games.  I bet I hadn’t seen her for 60 years until then.  In the next photo, Smitty.  Smitty was the handyman every neighborhood needs.  Dad called on him many a time over the years . . . ]

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[The first four houses one encountered on the left after turning into the Heights off Highway 52. The bottom houses were on the lakeside of the circle formed by Knut Street Fingal Drive, and Victoria Street . . . ]

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[We played baseball and football in the park across from the boat landing, we played starlight, moonlight (wondering how parents ever let us stay out after dark in the summer – must have been at least past 10:00), we fished off peoples’ docks without asking (it was generically accepted), we would walk along the highway (where we always found coins?) to the channel between Lakes Victoria and Geneva where there was a nice sandy bottom for swimming, we built forts and tree houses in the surrounding woods, we played in the constantly being constructed new houses when the workers left for the day (obviously in violation of every OSHA regulation today), we played sack which may not yet be beyond the statute of limitations for further explanation, we sat on the front steps listening to rock ‘n roll on KDWB or WLS (Chicago, at night) and to baseball games on WCCO (Twins) or KOMA (Cardinals); in winter we played basketball outdoors at the Skaar, Hintzen, and Sherry backyard hoops, we rode our sleds down the Big Hill and parents would hook the sleds on their car back bumpers and drive us up the hill again, we skated on the lake (when we could get away with it), our house never had a TV until I was a sophomore so we were all big readers (all the Mel Martin baseball books), we collected and traded baseball cards.  We had fun.]

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[Knut Street had not yet been completed along the lake to the east where it wrapped around and provided another connection to the highway.   We lived on Lot 24, the Seims Lot 25, the Gaffaneys Lot 26, Smitty was Lot 27, the Brandenburgs Lot 28, the Sherrys Lot 54, the two houses on the bottom of the previous photos were Lots 46 & 47, and Fred Foslien was on Lot 42 (next to the boat landing) . . . ]

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[Although I was born in Minneapolis, we had already lived in two places in Alex before we arrived here, 1406 Elm Street, in 1949 (Gretch was born in February but Mom must have stashed her someplace before this picture was taken) . . . ]


[It was while we lived on Elm that my first memories of life took place.  This is the first song I remember.  It was the theme song of “Bingo” on KXRA radio, and I remember Mom played along using Creamettes to mark her numbers.  I don’t know how you won?  Called in (before speed dial) to yell out, “Bingo”?)]

Mom and Dad were both from the Cities (and that’s where their parents continued to live), but after Dad graduated from the U (under the GI Bill after the Big One) with a degree in journalism (Mom & Dad lived in married student quonset huts where I ‘arrived’ before graduation) there were only two newspapers in the state with job openings . . . Alexandria and International Falls.  So, they pulled out an atlas – Alexandria was 140 miles from Minneapolis; International Falls was a two-week trip by wagon train.  They opted for Alex.

[And shortly thereafter, the move to the “forever” Alexandria address – Victoria Heights.  This is a photo of our new home being built c. 1950.  This is where the family lived until 1966.  Initially, a 3 BR rambler for Mom, Dad, Gretchen, and me.  . . . ]


The above photo gives you an idea how Mom felt about living in Alexandria.  She hated it; thought it was in the middle of nowhere.  Dad asked her to give it 18 months.  The bleak construction gave way to a livable home below with three little chidrun playing in the front yard . . . 


[An early visit by the “rellies,” Great Grandma, Aunt Gail (Uncle Tom’s wife), Uncle Mike (holding Chris), and Grandma and Grandpa all drove up from Mpls. together.  This has to be the summer of ’55.  You will note Knut Street and Fingal Drive were still dirt roads at this time.  Fingal Court did not yet exist but would cut up hill just to the left of the tree line.  At the top center, there is a lone tree that pretty much marks the location of the replica Runestone park – and just to the right of that you can see old Highway 52 going up the hill on the way to downtown.  Since Highway 52 was the major highway into Alexandria in those days, the Runestone park was the town greeter for visitors . . . ]


[My birthday!  With Mom, Grandpa Obert holding Chris, Uncle Mike on the far right, I believe that’s a great aunt and uncle in the middle, Grandma Obert is holding the cake for Gretch and me . . . ]



[A true scene out of Ozzie and Harriet.  Parading down Knut Street, with moms likely requesting that we go out and play in the middle of the street.  With our house in the middle with the woody in the driveway, I’m leading the way, followed by Pete Hintzen (a classmate who lived up the hill in the direction we were heading), Jim Sherry (whose house is immediately to the paraders’ right), sister Gretch, Kathy Sherry (a classmate, see Jim), and only Gretch can figure out the last two kids in line . . . ]


[The neighborhood kids on our front steps, to the best of my knowledge not a juvenile delinquent among them.  Yes, I can name them all, which is frightening because I can’t remember the names of people I see on a regular basis today.  To at least name my class mates, the 2nd row from the top (in front of the Gaffaney sisters, Joyce and Judy) were me (with a substantial melon on top of my neck), next door neighbor John Seim (taught at Alex Tech (thus a forever Alexandrian, and whose daughter Amanda is the head honcho of the Runestone Museum)), and Russ Bey (a professor at the University of Minnesota who also retired back to Alex) . . . ]


[Life B.C. (before Cam).  My birthday (again?), with Mom standing in the door behind us (not having to chase after Cam) . . . ]


[My cousin, Katherine Conner.  We are the same age.  Our moms were sisters.  We didn’t see much of each other after this.  The Conner family lived in Wilmington, Delaware . . . ]


[Cam, the youngest, was born in 1954 so dating the photo is possible.  This was running through the lawn sprinkler weather.  Our St. Bernard, Buck, was named after the dog in The Call of the Wild . . . ]


[Gretch with her Easter bunny snowman, c. mid-50’s.  Before global climate change, such was possible at Easter . . . ]


[Christmas in the mid-50’s.  True Americana.  Mom (likely comfy looking after a Highball), 4 kids (how did they do it? Highballs?), a Christmas tree, and Dad’s art work on the living room wall . . . ]


[Dad with Great Grandma Obert, the only great grandparent we kids ever knew.  The ubiquitous bicycle in the driveway, with a good chance of being backed over by the car.  Cam, was that our blue ’52 Dodge?  Dad bought the car from the Echo sports editor, Jake.  It may have been one of the two cars that died in St. Joseph (or Waite Park) on our way to  Minneapolis to visit the grandparents – trunk fires in both instances.  Go figure?  Anyway, Dad did not own a car when we moved into this house.  He’d hitchhike to work every day on old US Highway 52 (now Highway 29/Co. Rd. 82). ]


[Dad (based on me in the background) in his mid-30’s.  He had 4 kids and a mortgage then.  At age 35 I had none of those five and thus did not have to wander the house in the middle of the night . . . ]


[From the Sherry archives:  Jim and Kathy here with their cousins, Seim’s house across the street, the Obert house on the far left, and the Brandenburg’s house in the distance right . . . ]

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[Here I demonstrate the proper technique for dragging a younger brother across concrete . . . ]


[Moving into the Polaroid era (dated June 1962), here’s Uncle Dick (Mom’s brother) playing badminton with the aforementioned Pete Hintzen on Knut Street, where such activity often took place . . . ]


[Uncle Dick was a regular visitor to Victoria Heights.  He took the Greyhound bus up from Minneapolis, and he was such a regular passenger that the bus drivers would drop him off at the Heights, right on Highway 52, so we wouldn’t have to go into town to pick him up . . . ]


[All the kids loved Uncle Dick because he would play ball with us.  And then lead a parade of kids up to Lilac Lodge Resort (the closest place we had to a convenience store) for Pepsis and Nut Goodies . . . ]


[Here Rick Gorham joins Pete and me in the middle of the street.  Rick was the first native Alexandrian to win the Resorters Golf Tournament.  His sister Sue was also a classmate of mine . . . ]


[Grandma Thompson, Mom’s and Dick’s mom, would occasionally make the trip up to Alex with Dick . . . ]


[And then almost before we knew it, the high school class of ’65 graduated . . . ]


[From the Heights it was Russ Bey, Sue Gorham, Pete Hintzen, Dave Jarvey, Chris McCabe, John Seim, Kathy Sherry, and me; 8 of the 264 graduates . . . ]


[The cut ups who survived all of Viola Halverson’s math classes together . . . ]


[In 1962 we grew a second floor on the house.  For my sophomore year I got my own bedroom after sharing one with the two Pigpens all those years.  And home now 6 BR’s, 2 bathrooms, and a den.  And the driveway featured our 1954 Buick Century, a\k\a, the Yellow Rocket . . . ]


[But within a year of my graduation, it was time for the family to move on.  With one kid already in college and three more on the way, Dad decided the only way he could afford all that was to take a job in Washington, D.C.  Mom and Dad actually ended up living in Arlington, Virginia, longer than they lived in Alex.  But despite their early apprehensions, Alex was now home for them and it’s where they were going to retire.  Dad never made it, but Mom moved back in 1987 with Uncle Dick – where they lived happily ever after.]


[Laura and Larry McCoy bought our house then – and lived there for over 50 years.]


Let’s go window peeping.  ~  Coed kids group in The Heights back in the day (an unusual and illegal preoccupation of small town Americana, specifically addressed by Dick Cavett in his autobiography about growing up in Nebraska)

Up Next:  All the houses (or as many photos as I could take before somebody called 911) in the Heights, if the demand is there . . .

A Blog Retrospective

March 26

We have all been sequestered for a couple of weeks now by the COVID-19 pandemic.  It appears quite likely this will last for at least another month, probably much longer.  That limits one’s abilities to do any cub reporting.  So, I figured, it might by fun to drift back into the archives to see what I could see.  This was a favorite based on blog comments received in late October 2008  . . .  

[According to this week’s Newsweek:  ” A study finds that men with average bodies [or slightly below average?] are as appealing as men with six-packs.  And it was published in Body Image, not the Journal of Things I’d Always Hoped Were True.”  Pass the doughnuts, please!  (Originally posted on June 1, 2010.)]


Because Alexandria is relatively small in size but has a national footprint, we often come upon “6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon” scenarios.  From December 2, 2007:

Our niece, Jessica, brother Chris and Janet’s oldest daughter, recently moved to Eden Prairie from the State of Virginia, where she was born and raised.  Jessica got married this summer.  Her husband, Colin, got a job with Channel 9 in Eden Prairie.  She is very much a hot weather person like her father.  She hates the cold and snow of Eden Prairie.  She wants to move to Miami.  [Follow-up: Colin and Jessica wasted no time in moving back to Virginia as soon as they could . . . ]

Alexandria’s Jefferson High School (JHS) is 50 years old, and we dearly want to replace it.  Jessica’s uncle, me, loves winter and thinks it’s the prettiest time of year.  A new winter snowfall even makes JHS look good.  We go to JHS in the winter to see concerts as part of the Central Lakes Concert Association (CLCA) series.  We sit with Larry and Laura McCoy at the concerts.  The McCoys bought the Obert house in Victoria Heights from the Oberts in the 1960’s.  They still live there.  Today we told the McCoys the Jessica story.  Larry said his brother was Eden Prairie’s school superintendent, until he retired 5 years ago.  In that position, he hired Bud Grant’s son, Mike, to be the Eden Prairie football coach.  Eden Prairie just finished an undefeated season and won the state class 5A football title.  Larry’s brother also taught Paul Donley, Executive Director, Alexandria Area Education Foundation, how to ski.  Mike Grant’s sister (Bud’s daughter) once taught in the Alexandria school system. [Follow up:  JHS was subsequently demolished and replaced by Alexandria Area High School in 2014.  The CLCA has been replaced in our lives by the Central Lakes Symphony Orchestra.  The McCoys subsequently moved to downsize their lives; then Laura died last December.  Eden Prairie is still a football power.  Paul Donley died three years ago.  I don’t know what happened with Bud Grant’s daughter . . . ]

Larry McCoy also mentioned that he recently went to Charles Krump’s funeral.  Charles taught in the Alexandria school system for 41 years.  His obituary mentioned that his brother and sister-in-law live in Loveland, Colorado.  Our Aunt Pearl and Uncle Ted have lived in Loveland for many years.  I e-mailed the Krump obituary to them.  Aunt Pearl responded almost immediately that she has known Joan Krump for years.  They met on a golf course and she is a pretty good golfer.  [Follow-up:  Uncle Ted died in 2013; we went to Aunt Pearl’s 90th birthday in Loveland two years ago . . . ]

We want to take Jessica and Colin to an Alexandria girls hockey game at Breck on December 22.  We hope an introduction to Minnesota’s beautiful winter sport will help change Jessica’s feelings about Eden Prairie.  Breck is a private school located in Golden Valley, a neighboring city to Eden Prairie.  Kathy Sherry Skadsberg is a member of Golden Valley Country Club (GVCC).  Kathy grew up in Victoria Heights, just across the street from the house previously occupied by the Oberts and now occupied by the McCoys.  Kathy has invited the Obert family, et al, to have lunch at GVCC prior to the Breck-Alex hockey game.  [Follow-up:  Kathy is now the proud grandma of a freshman girl basketball player, a starter for Hopkins, the No. 1 team in the state . . . ]

This getting too weird, even for me.

Subsequent comment:  Love your life, can I come and live with you?  Such a positive spin on winter.  You really are a writer of extraordinary skill, made me even reconsider my feelings about winter…not.  ~  Beth

December 6, 2007:  Yup, had to drive the biddies [that would be the supervisor and my mother] around yesterday for their various doctor appointments.  Of course, Mom had to say that she was going to direct me to the clinic (like I don’t know the way – she and Ruthie both have this thing that they know secret ways to get places that nobody else knows!).  So, I played along – “turn here, turn here” – well, on her last “turn here,” I knew she was off by a couple blocks but went along with it.  It was a sneaky way through an alley – except we had to drive through the alley for several blocks – ha!  Then she went in to the doctor first – when she was done, Ruth was already in to see her doctor, but stuck her head out to tell us to go.  It was time for Mom’s errands!  So, we went to Pete’s, then Trumm Drug (“I always do business with the locals!”), where she asked me to go in to pick up her “one” prescription – well, of course, they had “two” ready for her, so I had to go back out and ask her if she wanted them both – she went “hrumpf, hrumpf, hrumpf” and went in herself to see what the deal was – the 2nd one was a prescription she didn’t need till next week, so she gave them the business, and just got the one – I asked why she didn’t get the 2nd as long as she was there, and the response was, “Well, I don’t need it till next week!,” and then on to the vet’s to get Suki’s medicine and where we got a message that Ruthie was ready to be picked up at the clinic.  So we went back and got Ruthie, drove Mom home, went back into town for our meeting about the golf course clubhouse,  and finally drove back home where I hit myself over the head with a large mallet and went to bed.  ~ Me

And, again the comments (of course, I only share the good stuff):  Tom — this is HILARIOUS!!!! I laughed out loud until the tears rolled down my cheeks. I hear ya!!! Every step of the way.  I got the blow by blow from Mom last night about her days’ activities including the two prescriptions (I thought the same thing — why not pick it up while it was ready and there —- No, they have to STORE it with her name on it until she decides she wants to pick it up.  She is a pistol — no doubt about it.  She said the doctor told her she would live to be 100.  I told her a week ago to have him check her throat. She said “Why?” I said because you have a hoarse and scratchy sounding voice and sometimes you lose your voice.  Again, she went into denial and said “My God, all of my children take way more pills than I take. And furthermore, my throat doesn’t hurt.”  I said “It doesn’t matter if your throat doesn’t hurt (remember, when she had the tumor she said her throat didn’t hurt then). I just hope there isn’t another tumor growing.  Then I asked her last night if the doctor checked her KNEE (Cam said she favors one knee and walks really slow). She said “No!!” I asked why she didn’t have the doctor check it since she favors one leg (she paused, obviously wondering where I got the inside scoop) and said “There’s nothing wrong with my knee — the doctor said I would live to be 100!!”  Go go driving biddies around.  I can just picture all of you in the car and the biddies barking out directions. tee hee  ~ Gretch

Tom:  Thanks for sharing, I just love your mom stories, what a character. ~ Beth

[Amidst a little ditty from Annie, Bruce, and Mikko . . . ]

October 27-28, 2008:  A Compendium of Responses (and who doesn’t like a good compendium?) regarding my efforts at meteorology.  They could prove to be useful someday as part of an insanity defense [Editor’s note:  Though the following comments were not solicited, they were not unexpected.  There are several of you yet to be heard from – those that when they see such a softball lobbed up there, swing from the heels to hit it out of the park.  They will be added to the compendium as received. – Cub Reporter]:

–  “You are NUTSO!!!  Love your e-mails . . . as usual.”

–  “I would much prefer to hear from Ruthie.  You are not now nor ever have been a CUB.”

–  “Our whole family enjoyed the report!”  [Maybe should have advised to hide the women and children?]

–  “We were kinda hoping Ruthie would join you on this one.”  [I’m sensing a trend!]

–   “You are right – you have no shame!!  No offense, but we are glad we are in Arizona.  Thanks for the update.”

–  “I think the “snow” is up your nose!!”  [Did you catch that, Mr. Prosecutor?]

–  “I’m concerned about your mental health.”  [Very useful!]

–  “I can see the shoes . . . but it really would be better without the trunks . . . the trunks they’re for woossssies.”  [Love the prurient interest!!]

–  “I love it when you frolic!!!! LOL”

–  “You wear shorts in the shower?  (You wouldn’t fit into your white ice cream man suit anymore . . .)  [Do I detect prurient interest?]

–  “I think the cold has done something to his brain ;)”  [Useful.]

–  “That was just too cute . . .”

–  “You have gone over the top as our Cub Reporter . . . what fun!”

–  “Good grief, my friend.  Get a warm stocking hat on your head.  Long underwear wouldn’t be such a bad idea, either.”  [Thanks, Mom.]

– “OMG!!! That is AWESOME!!!  Love it!”  [OK, family.]

–  “Cub Reporter, time for the long pants.”

–  “It’s sad to see senility affect one so young.  Hope a hot toddy helped reduce the damage.”  [That one will help!]

–  “You may be zoftig, but you’ve still got great legs!”  [OK, that was from me.]

–   “I’d be surprised if the Nanner doesn’t nail you.”  [Follow-up: We lost the Nanner last year . . . ]

–  “I like the frolicking better than the obscene almost nude pose which made my stomach turn.  You look so athletic when you romp through the yard it makes me want to run the treadmill and get in shape, but on second thought, I will pour a 2nd cup of coffee and mull over the sports section.  Thanks again for the updates, keep them coming.”

–  “I love it!!!!  Please tell Tom how much I appreciate him and his Christmas cards.  This is wonderful and I’ve forwarded to everyone I know.  [Editor’s note:  Ooops!]  He may be up for the short documentary spot at the Academy Awards if he’s not careful.”  [Not from my agent – honest!  However, the latest Washington Post/NBC poll does indicate that these views reflect those of the vast majority of Americans!]

–  “I have suspected for some time that you have spent too much time in the sun . . However, I have changed my mind.  I love it when you frolic!”  [Occasionally my agent.]

–  “Please make Minnesota snow “blue” for us next week.”

–  “I loved the frolicking.”

–  “You Minnesotans are nuts! :-)”

–  “You are scaring me into re-evaluating my travel wardrobe for next week.”

–  “You were always unique but this is disgusting!  People have been put in a  straight jacket for such behavior.”   [Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about!]

–  “Aside from Penn State and the Phils, you’re the most entertaining thing  happening . . . way more fun than Joe the Plumber.”

family isolation

Hawkeye Pierce (M*A*S*H, 1975, “Dear Ma”) : What a unique device, the human tush. An architectural wonder, one of a kind… actually two of a kind. Designed to support our weight for a lifetime of sitting it also has the subtlety to do the samba. And when attached to certain members of the female species at a time when light summer dresses are worn can cause some of us to drive our cars straight up a lamppost.

Up Next:  You can go home again . . .

STATE (of things*)

March 11

And then COVID-19 broke up the game.  As we drove to Minneapolis for the opening round games of the girls state basketball tournament, I had a pretty strong feeling the tournament would not be completed.  (DYK, it is exactly a 274-mile round trip from north Alexandria to the U of M campus, exiting town by way of West Union and returning by why of Two Guys Pizza.)  While nothing had been called off yet, I was sure the boys tournament the following week would be cancelled.  The girls did play the 1st and 2nd rounds (in classes 3A and 4A), but then all the championships were cancelled.  Alex lost to the No. 2 seeded Becker Bulldogs in a very close game (the game we attended), and then beat Red Wing in the consolation round (the consolation championship game was then cancelled).  The boys section titles were completed (Alex lost by 2 to No. 1 seed St. Cloud Apollo, a really good game I watched streamed before a limited crowd), but then their state tournament was cancelled.  Now that I’m in the late autumn or early winter of my years, I really don’t pay much attention to sports anymore.  I don’t follow the pros at all, only follow the Gophers at the collegiate level, and prefer high school sports to all.  But when they’re all gone, it really limits your TV options.  I had settled in at home ready for a girls class A semifinal game between Minneota and Waterville-Elysian-Morristown when the word game down – all games at every level in every sport were called off . . . 

[Loni Anderson greets all guests in every room of the Graduate Hotel, two blocks from Williams Arena on the U of M campus . . . ]

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[The Super greets every guest at happy hour . . . ]

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[When you now live in a small city, the view from a 4th floor is awesome . . . ]

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[A campus view from the hotel . . . ]

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[Halsey Hall, even more famous than Loni, was also in the room . . . ]

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[Lest you weren’t sure, we’re in Williams Arena now . . . ]

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[You can’t tell the players without a program . . . ]

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[This will be explained anon . . . ]

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[This is explanation No. 1 . . . ]


[I wanted to see Paige Bueckers play live and in person.  I have seen videos of several of her games.  The No. 1 player in the country did not disappoint (Strib photo) . . . ]


[This is explanation No. 2 (Strib photo) . . . ]


[OK, here’s the further explanation.  Taylor Woodson (20) is a 5’11” freshman starter for Hopkins.  This photo is up for Strib photo of the year.  Taylor’s grandma is in the photo above from the early ’60’s (re me: yes, that was a fake tie, with the ever popular corduroy suit).  “Grandma” Kathy was my classmate and across the street neighbor growing up in Victoria Heights in Alex . . . ]

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[Kathy and Taylor (photo from the Woodson family archive) . . . ]

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[Continuing from the program . . . ]

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[And now to the games (finally?).  We started in Williams Arena where Hopkins would extend their 60-something game two-year winning streak against Cambridge-Isanti . . . ]

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[Here Ms. Bueckers launches a two-hand pass to a teammate (or to the old guys in the stair well) during warm-ups . . . ]

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[Here’s Taylor rebounding in warm-ups . . . ]

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[Here I was trying to get a shot of my look-a-like to her right but Paige got in the way . . . ]

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[And here she totally blots him out . . . ]

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[Hopkins line-up is all Division 1 talent.  I don’t know how they determine such things, but they are ranked in the top 4 in the country . . . ]

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[One can hardly believe Taylor is only a freshman . . . ]

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[And Paige not only has all the skills, but she’s 6′ tall as well . . . ]

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[At center for Hopkins is Maya Nnaji, a 6’4″ sophomore.  Needless to say, she’s on everybody’s recruiting list.  Her brother was just named Pac 12 freshman of the year at Arizona . . . ]

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[And away we go . . . ]

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[The Cambridge center is only 6′ tall, but she gave it a go and had a pretty good game offensively.  On the defensive end though, nobody on her team could match up against Maya . . . ]

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[The freshman Taylor (20) and senior Paige (1) clicked all year.  Paige always has a knack for finding Taylor open underneath . . . ]

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[When she has all 3 defenders concentrating on her, Paige will give a little flip pass to Taylor for a lay-up . . . ]

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[KK Adams (22) is the only Hopkins starter not near or above 6′ tall.  She’s the 3-point shooter . . . ]

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[Maya already has all the tools and is a good free throw shooter . . . ]

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[Paige following through on one of her rare shots in the game . . . ]

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[Taylor, who runs track, and Paige often out on the break together . . . ]

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[Paige looking to cut behind Taylot . . . ]

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[And here it looks like she has a short dribble to the right for a hoop . . . ]

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[But she back passed to KK for the shot . . . ]

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[It was 54 – 24 at the half.  If it was any consolation for Cambridge, that happens to a lot of teams.  Hopkins won handily.  Paige only had 7 points, I believe, as she only took 4 shots preferring to get assists instead . . . ]

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[From there, the Super, Kathy, and I moved over to the adjoining Maturi Pavillion for the Cardinals game.  This is where the Gopher volleyball, wrestling, and gymnatics teams compete.  This is the first time I had been in here since 1968 – when I was going to the U this is where the hockey team played . . . ]

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[The Cardinals came on the floor for their game while game two was still ongoing . . . ]

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[Simley was then scheduled to play DeLaSalle, the winner of game one . . . ]

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[The Cards warmed up at our end of the court.  Coming in, we saw two ex-Cardinal roundballers – McKenzie Duwenhoeger, now at the U on the track team; and Macy Hatlestad, now playing basketball for St. Thomas.  I asked both if they would suit up again for the Cards . . . ]

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[Changed off the telephoto lens so I could shoot the whole arena, and you can see where we were sitting . . . ]

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[The Becker student section on the far side all in white . . . ]

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[From my vantage at the top of the stairs, I could see all the Alexandria movers and shakers come in . . . ]

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[And my game-to-game hero . . . ]

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[The Amazing Mr. Ripley at his courtside station . . . ]

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[Pre-game discussion between the teams and the constabulary . . . ]

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[I assume they were asking where to eat in Dinkytown now that Vescio’s has closed . . . ]

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[And Coach Kohler may have been asking if she’d get carded at Stub & Herbs . . . ]

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[Not to worry, Mark.  I’ll be a character witness . . . ]

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[Boom!  Dynamite!  Well, that’s the Super’s favorite cheer . . . ]

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[Cheerleading is oft a hair raising experience . . . ]

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[And introducing the Cardinals:  Alayna Strand (25), 5’11” junior . . . ]

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[Ella Grove (11), 6′ senior . . . ]

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[Here with Bulldogs star of stars, Julia Bengston . . . ]

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[And the basketball sorority handshake . . . ]

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[Myah Kremer (15), 5’8″ junior . . . ]

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[Mia McGrane (5), 5’7″ senior . . . ]

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[Jaya Hatlestad (3), 5’5″ junior.  The Cards basically have 9 starters so there have been different combinations introduced all year, Ella and Mia being the two constants . . . ]

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[Alayne prepares for the opening leap . . . ]

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[And she gets it . . . ]

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[Ella gets ready for a free throw while another starter Mataya Hoelscher (23), 5’5″ junior, prepares her footwear for the next possession . . . ]

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[One of my most favoritedest shots of the day.  Ella, an automatic free throw shooter, against the white background of the Becker students.  And another starter, Lilly Horn (33), 5’10” junior, has joined the fray . . . ]

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[And readying . . . ]

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[And swish . . . ]

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[The coach’s reminder:  Steal the ball, and push, push, push . . . ]

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[So Mataya and Ella pushed . . . ]

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[Mataya and Lilly play catch while Alayna tries to establish post position . . . ]

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[Mataya cuts around a double pic from Lilly and Alayna along the baseline while Myah looks to hit her in the corner . . . ]

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[Myah here, and otherwise Mia, tried to keep an eye on Ms. Bengston, a surefire Division 1 prospect . . . ]

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[Lilly and another starter Summer Gerhardt (35), 5’10” also on defense.  The Cards played great defense the whole game (I think we were 2nd in the state in opposition scoring) holding Becker well below their season average . . . ]

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[Cards looking to break after a rebound or turnover . . . ]

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[At the half.  Becker was seeded 2nd in class 3A, which became even more apparent why when they scored 95 points in their semifinal game the next day . . . ]

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[Kathy was kind enough to join us for her alma mater’s game after we’d all been to the Hopkins game in the morning.  Fine lunch dining was a hotdog between games . . . ]

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[In the 2nd half, the Cards would be defending at our end.  This almost looks like a volleyball formation . . . ]

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[And then the scrum began . . . ]

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[The Bulldogs are built around three really good guards, now juniors, who have started together since they were freshmen.  Alex plays them every year and the games always go down to the wire . . . ]

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[Alyna hit a couple of free throws here . . . ]

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[Then Ella, ole Otto Matic . . . ]

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[And the dogfight again . . . ]

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[Adeline Kent (11), sophomore guard, hurt us with a couple 3’s in the 2nd half . . . ]

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[Very few, if any, breakaways by either team as both always hustled back . . . ]

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[We may have had a 6 point lead at one point, but the game was always close though most the time Becker had a slight lead . . . ]

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[Courtney Nuest (15) for the Bulldogs I believe had the highest 3-point shooting percentage in the state . . . ]

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[And Alayna Lindquist (14), another one of their shooting guards . . . ]

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[Back to Ella . . . ]

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[Who had a great game with 21 points and 10 rebounds . . . ]

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[I think Alayna missed ’em here . . . ]

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[Mataya (23) chasing on D here had a really good game and was the leading scorer against Red Wing in the consolation game.  Hers and Myah’s games really developed as the season went along – both have terrific speed which, of course, can’t be taught. . . ]

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[We’re winding down now . . . ]

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[The Becker center was also a good free throw shooter . . . ]

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[The Cardinal broadcasters in fine form . . . ]

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[DMac and BCun . . . ]

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[The Cards had to foul to catch up.  Becker hit 86% of their free throws in the game making it impossible to do so . . . ]

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[The Cardinal girls exceeded my preseason expectations, as did the boys team.  Both teams were really fun to watch as they play at high speed with pressure defense.  The girls will return 6 of their 9 starters; the boys return three key starters, so both teams should be able to give it a run again next year.  We’ll wrap this up with a few shots from the Echo . . . ]

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[And a congrats to coaches Wendy and Julie . . . ]


[And to the team, as consolation co-champions (these last photos from Wendy’s FB) . . . ]

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[They say nobody is irreplaceble, but the three seniors – Mia, Ella, Summer – formed the core of this year’s team.  Congratulations and a lifetime bon voyage.]

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When I grew up, I never – I wasn’t allowed to go out.  I missed my prom because I went to an AAU tournament and all that stuff.  For me, it was basketball, basketball, basketball.  ~  J. R. Smith

Up Next:  We’re pretty much home bound for a while . . .

One Down; Two to Go

March 3

The basketball boys opened their section run.  We hope they can follow what the girls have done so far.  This was the last game of the season on Pohlig Court – we’ll be back in the fall when volleyball starts . . . 

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[Senior Carrson Jones (11) . . . ]

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[Senior Ethan Patience (14) . . . ]

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[Sophomore Kristen Hoskins (21) . . . ]

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[Sophomore Eric Hedstrom (22) . . . ]

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[Junior Colton Roderick (35) . . . ]

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[Eric jumps the jump v. the Lakers center . . . ]

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[The Cards jump started everything . . . ]

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[They played a textbook first half, beginning here with Eric hitting what I think was the first shot of the game . . . ]

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[The girls team, who play for their section title on the 5th, were there for support . . . ]

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[It seems they know all the cheers . . . ]

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[And of course stand for the whole game (when they should be resting?) . . . ]

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[I think the kid in the Pelican jersey works at the Y on Saturday mornings . . . ]

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[Meanwhile, back at the game . . . ]

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[The Cards defense generated many turnovers, and they scored on lay ups, short jumpers, and 3’s putting the Lakers in a deep early hole . . . ]

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[A couple minutes into the game it was all over except for the final score . . . ]

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[The coach’s message likely was, “Keep doing what you’re doing.”]

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[A shout out to assistant coach Ty Granning, on the right, who coaches the girl throwers in track and they will tell you he is the reason why they are the best in the state at shot and discuss . . . ]

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[Carrson got off to a quick start in the scoring business . . . ]

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[Half time score – note the Cardinal scoring balance.  Our ability to share the ball, and to make free throws, should make us a tough out . . . ]

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[At the half, the Amazing Mr. Ripley has also discovered the girls basketball team . . . ]

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[This shot features the three seniors:  Ella Grove in the white No. 4 Alex shirt, Summer Gerhardt directly behind her, and Mia McGrane, 2nd to Summer’s right . . . ]

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[And featuring Mr. Ripley . . . ]

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[Ooops, and a final . . . ]

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[Thanks again to the multi-talented Mr. Hinrichs, who puts down the mic at halftime . . ]

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[Mr. Ripley discovered more girl basketball players an aisle over.  I recognize juniors Lilly Horn and Alayna Strand, from l-r  . . . ]

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[Meanwhile back at the game . . . ]

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[Carrson at the line in the 2nd half.  As a team, the Cards made 14 of 15 free throws in the 1st half . . . ]

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[The ball, upper right.  The 2nd half was just playing out the game . . . ]

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[Kristen’s been hitting 3’s lately because the defense has to back off so far to prevent him from driving . . . ]

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[At 6’5″, Colton also drives to the lane for lay ups or teardrops . . . ]

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[In fact, all three guards prefer to score from in the lane . . . ]

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[Colton here, also similarly done by Kristen or Carrson . . . ]

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[And . . . it drops . . . ]

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[And here Carrson looks for a driving lane . . . ]

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[A solid win.  Next up we go to Bemidji to play the Lumberjacks in the semi-finals  on the 6th . . . ]

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We have a bunch of great outside shooters. Unfortunately, all our games are played indoors.  ~  Weldon Drew (New Mexico State coach)

Up Next:  A state tournament would be nice?

The Quest for State

February 29

The end of the season is nigh.  There’s light at the end of the flashlight . . . 

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[The refs have the pre-game discussion with the captains.  Then they went on to create a bit of heartburn in the section where I was sitting, which just happened to include the Cardinal moms.  It happens . . . ]

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[I offer my apologies for uttering some unkind words in their direction.  It’s just that in a tournament game, a team shouldn’t have half its starters in foul trouble in the first three minutes of the game . . . ]

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[Ella Grove, our leading scorer, sat out almost all of the 1st half with two fouls . . . ]

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[Mia McGrane similarly . . . ]

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[Coach Kohler visits with the Lakers coach, who must have worked some late season magic with his team . . . ]

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[My photo of Cardinal broadcasters DMac and BCun somehow focused on Solveig and Wayne (my high school principal) Elton in the background . . . ]

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[Have I made you nervous about the outcome yet?]

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[Here’s the thing:  We played DL twice this year and beat them 54-30 and 54-27; Bemidji, the section’s 2nd seed, also beat DL by 30 during the regular season . . . but at the end of the regular season DL beat the Lumberjacks by one point . . . ]

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[Something was happening as the very young Lakers went on to push us in this game.  Their towering 6′ sophomore center got the tap on the Cardinals’ Alyana Strand (25) to start the game . . . ]

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[Mia (5) chases the Laker guards in pressing mode . . . ]

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[Aided at the center line by Mataya Hoelscher (23).  Mataya is one of our 9 starters, and I think had her best game . . . ]

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[Here ‘Taya launches a ‘3’ . . . ]

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[Myah Kremer (15) and Ella (11) in full-court press mode.  Ella may have picked up one of her early fouls here for “standing too close” . . . ]

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[A hidden Card made a baseline move here.  The other photographer obviously had a better vantage on the action . . . ]

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[Let’s join hands and do-si-do.  Out front are Summer Gerhardt (35) and Jaya Hatlestad (3), more of the 9 starters . . . ]

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[Summer appears to be pointing at the Lakers No. 53.  As well she should have, because that freshman was 4-for-4 on 3-point shots . . . ]

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[Myah also had one of her best games.  As I recall she was perfect from the free throw line.  She and Mataya have grown into their roles as speed dribblers to help break any pressure.  Cate Bloom (21) in rebound position is another of the 9 starters.  Other than for Ella and Mia, the other 7 seem to get about equal amounts of PT . . . ]

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[Mataya has also been solid on her free throws . . . ]

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[Since we’re now going in the other direction, you may correctly assume we’re in the 2nd half.  And now the Cards had a well-rested Ella, and she made sure the team was going to expand on their too close 35-33 halftime lead . . . ]

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[And to the surprise of at least me, she scored her 1,000th career point along the way, which led to a celebratory stoppage of play . . . ]

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[I think it cool that on the next shot the camera auto-focused on the clapping hands . . . ]

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[Congratulations to Ella on a terrific high school career . . . ]

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[I think it all caught her by surprise too . . . ]

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[Oh-oh, 53 appears open for a ‘3’.  The Cards could never fully pull away because the Lakers kept hitting 3’s to close the gap . . . ]

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[35 could make them too.  Nice looking stroke here.  The whole Laker team will be back next year . . . ]

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[Here’s Summer, who like her teammates was clutch down the stretch.  Free throw shooting should be an asset for us down the line . . . ]

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[Mia too . . . ]