Thursday, April 30, 2009

Still in the game...

I never expected him to last.
American Idol is down to the Final Four contestants, and Arkansas' own Kris Allen is still in the running.
He's meandered through the theme weeks always holding his own, but not making enough of a splash to be an overhyped frontrunner. Last week, Allen could claim three of the top 10 most-downloaded songs from i-tunes. Of course, the overhyped frontrunner Adam Lambert had like 5 or 6. Everyone has Lambert picked to win.
But I think I'll keep rooting for this one.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Twins Time

There's alot of hype about this year's Twins season. It's the last season in the Dome, and Twins fans say it's about time. There's a guy at work who claims to have held onto a Twins tickets package for 20 years, just waiting for the day the Twins move to "a real baseball stadium" and he will be able to buy "real season tickets." To say fans hate the place is a vast understatement. They loathe it with seething hatred, the hatred usually only reserved for the Packers and anything Wisconsin. Nevertheless, Dave has relished going live there lately, and since he Twittered these pictures to his adoring public... I don't mind posting them here.

The fella below is the trusty sports photog, Rover. Yes, Rover. I don't know why he's named Rover, and since this is the sports department, I'm sure there's a long, funny story behind the nickname that makes completely no sense. They never do. I'm still trying to figure out why they nicknamed their producer "Yen" when his name is Patrick O'Shaunessey and therefore, clearly nowhere near anything resembling Asian decent.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Founder's Day

I celebrated Founder's Day last Sunday, April 19th with other Alpha Xi Deltas from all over the midwest. We had alumnae from Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Colorado. We had collegians from both Wisconsin chapters. Our fraternity turned 116 years old.

We had a lovely brunch at the Bachman's headquarters Heritage Room. As a sign of the times, a few members have lost jobs lately and are looking at new options. One woman who worked for the Minneapolis Museum of Art for 20+ years lost her job. What's she doing next? Going on an Art Tour in Russia. Good for her. Alot of people have lost jobs up here, and it seems everyone else is worried about losing one. It's been a topic of conversation lately at every social outlet we've been to, which is very sobering.

One member reached the 'Order of the Pearl' which means she has been a member for 60 years. She's a Michigan alum, and here is she celebrating with our new president and Michigan alum Jen on the left and our past president, Laura on the right. Laura is an Iowa girl who is leaving the Twin Cities this summer. She doesn't know where she's moving, but she says it has to be warmer than here. She's got Tampa and Memphis on the table right now...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Skunk Cabbage

Thanks to those of you who chimed in to identify this plant. I got a few responses, and after looking at pictures, I think the Queen Pauline got it right--skunk cabbage. Now you know.

I found these plants while walking around the Schwartz house in upstate New York. I know many plants, but I haven't been able to identify these. I'm curious by nature, and these things look out of something from "The Little Shoppe of Horrors." They were growing in a low-lying, marshy area, and were probably bigger than my hand.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Far Out in Woodstock

The year was 1969, and my MIL (mother in law) faced quite the conundrum. Should she go to this music festival where all sorts of popular bands and musicans would be playing? Her friends were. But where would she sleep if she went? It was this line of logic that made her decide to stay home while her friends went and checked out what would later become famous to some and infamous to others. It's Woodstock--a music festival that switched venues a time or two until landing outside of this cute, artsy New England town.

Forty years later the town is still generating income from the music and hippie culture that camped out and jammed there for three days. The small town is a very odd mix of artsy-fartsy high end art, overpriced antiques, tea & coffee shops, and hippie stories. It's all jumbled there together as if a teenager in an identity crisis, but that's what makes it unique. There had to be incense burning in just about every store. By the end of the rainy day we would go in stores, take a breath, and turn around and leave. Stink, stank, stunk!

The hippie store where we got our picture made was rather interesting. They had a whole wall of bongs, and I'm sure they were selling pot out the back door or under the counter. There was a crony woman out front harping at people to put their cameras and cell phones away, and when we stepped inside we saw why.

It was a fun day, and I brought back a T-shirt for my music-loving sister and some "Woodstock Tea" for my aunt--it looks like a grain, and at the price I'm sure there wasn't anything else suspect inside. But if Aunt you-know-who starts acting funny, now you know why.

I thought the slave sign was funny and innocent enough, but very regional--can you imagine the riots and ruckus if this was posted ANYwhere in the South?! Sharpton would be there in a minute.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Pass the Wings

Some of Dave's fondest memories growing up are Friday nights at the Schwartz household. Dave would invite over his friends and his parents would cook and entertain. His father is known for his wings, and his mom is known for cooking just about everything else. From the stories I've heard, these nights were filled with laughter and plenty of renditions of Tommy Boy and any other Chris Farley interpretation.

On this trip, we got a special treat on Friday night when my brother and his girlfriend visited. The both live an hour and a half west of Dave's parents. One of Dave's classmates, Johnny, came over too. Dave's parents seemed more than thrilled to bring out the deep fryer for wings and homemade fries. His mom made a beautiful antipasto platter. I could see them smiling from the kitchen and urging the crowd to eat more. I think it's safe to say this brought back lots of memories for them too.

Brianne brought dozens of her homemade italian cookies that she'd made for Easter. Sadly enough, she and Luke gave up sweets for Lent so they couldn't eat any. I'm sure they made up for it the next day on Easter.

We played guitar hero. We laughed. We ate. And we laughed some more.

Oh yeah--Johnny finally decided to call Dave's sister by her name, and not by "Dave's sister." This was a big deal, but it's not fit to print why they decided to make that change--so this note is only for our newest reader in the RCS area....and we are looking forward to the big visit here in June!

Local girl finishes in top 10

A girl from our ultra-local viewing area finished in the top 15 in the Miss USA pageant. Since Minnesota isn't known for producing pageant winners, that's pretty good. I got a chance to do a few stories with her in her quest for the crown, so I was proud to cheer her on this past Sunday night.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Somewhere over the Hudson

If you've only been to New York and gone to the City, then you are missing alot. From the Finger lakes to the Mohawk Valley to the Catskills, the state is a beautiful place. When Dave says he's from New York, most people assume he's a city boy. Not really. Dave grew up in the Hudson River Valley on well water--definitely not in an apartment in the City. These pictures are literally across the street from his house. Jake took us on a nature walk through some of the woods where he plays with one of the neighborhood boys. They've got a nice dirt bike track back there.

I am in love with one of the neighborhood homes. It was built before the Revolutionary War, and it overlooks the Hudson. The last time we were here we got an inside tour. It has a built-in brick oven from the 1830s and coffin doors that allowed coffins to come in and out of the house back when people had public viewings in their homes. The house has a bell outside, hitching posts, and an old barn with post and beam construction. You can tell the logs were cut with a broad axe. Can you imagine how the view from the cuppola has changed in the last 200-something years? From wooden barges hauling hides and crops down river to steamboats carrying passengers to big hunks of metal transporting industrial supplies, river traffic has changed as much as the scenery that has become dotted with new, modern and not-so-pretty homes.The same family has lived in this house since the 1700s, and now it's for sale. It's a sad thing, and it hurts my heart to imagine a family losing that much history. If I won the lottery, I'd buy this place, put it on the historic registry, and operate a bed and breakfast out of it. Wonder if visitors would like biscuits and sausage gravy?

Ghosts of Passover Past

We made it back from New York, and we've been extremely busy since we came back to Minnesota. So you'll find a quick visit update here over the next few days.

We had a relaxing and enjoyable five days in New York, where it was nice to see green grass and flowers. It was somewhat of a drag to fly back into brown Minnesota. We attended a seder (or dinner w/some reading) at the Schwartz household and at a friend's home. This picture is of Jake reading the four questions, which always falls to the youngest at the table. For some reason, this is the only picture I have from the seders.

Dave's dad takes a walk every day, and he is very strict about going the distance. He doesn't cut any corners, although Dave definitely tried to get him to.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The case of the possibly stolen wallet

We've had an interesting episode in the Schwartz household this past week.

On Sunday evening, Dave either lost his wallet or it got stolen. The act happened at the gym where Dave is unsure if he locked his locker. The jury's still out as to exactly what happened and the details seem to be as fuzzy as Dave's recollections. But that doesn't really matter. Someone wound up with the stolen wallet and all the credit cards, and were probably initally disappointed to find out we don't normally carry cash.

They were disappointed when they tried to use the credit cards too, because Dave acted quickly and had everything cancelled and reordered within 45 minutes of discovering the stolen wallet. He reported it missing at the gym. Then, he walked around looking for guilty culprits. I'm not sure how he would've known someone was guilty unless they showed him his stolen wallet, but he felt like this gave him purpose. It did burn off a bit of stress, and I didn't mind him prowling the gym looking for wallet-stealers.

Fastforward to this morning at 6am. A local police officer woke us up by knocking on our door. By the time we actually woke up and made it to the door, (hey, we work evening shifts normally)he'd left a note on Dave's truck and left. After calling the officer back to the house (all before 7 am of course), it seems someone discovered Dave's stuff (minus the wallet) at a trailer park not too far from the community center. We didn't even know there was a trailer park around there. The stash even included business cards that Dave had picked up on the job.... but no wallet, which was incidentially part of his wedding gift from me.

Somewhere a thief out there is very unhappy. He or she made a grab and all they have to show for it is one lousy wallet. Not even a business card.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Alpha Xi Delta told to "simmer down" on Today Show

Alpha Xi Delta adopted a new philanthropy on April 2nd, World Autism Day, and it's been a big deal in the fraternity. A group got up at 5 am to be on the Today Show to promote Autism Speaks. The philanthropy used to be 'Choose Children,' which was rather vague and unfocused. This should give Alpha Xi a clear, direct philanthropy, and it doesn't hurt that this is one of the "hot" causes right now. I have done numerous autism stories in the past few months--my first ones in seven years of reporting.

My only concern is that this does take out the non-financial aspect of volunteering. Most college kids don't have money. They give time, not money. Sure, they can go ask for money, but who likes that? It's hard to donate "time" to autistic children--sometimes special training is required. It will be interesting to see how the fraternity defines and promotes this.

The Minneapolis-St Paul Alumnae who could met up downtown at the Mary Tyler Moore statue on Nicolette between 7th and 8th Streets for a quick picture and lunch. We are planning to participate in the Walk for Autism at Canterbury Downs in September. I am slated to the on the officer board of the alumna chapter and I'm on the advisory board for the Epsilon Alpha chapter at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. It's been a great outlet to meet professional women my age who are all transplants to the Twin Cities. Below, there's a teacher, a student, a genetic counselor, a financial person, a museum curator, and a journalist.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Payton has arrived

Okay, the baby blog is back.
Payton Ann arrived this morning in Little Rock. She weighed 7 lbs and 4 oz. Her mama was only in labor for 7 hours.
Congrats to the proud parents and grandparents. The new Grandpa doesn't even have to cancel his fishing tournament that he scheduled on the baby's due date, much to the new grandma's dismay.
But I learned a funny story--the new Grandpa is the yard sale king. He scours weekly yard sales and Goodwill stores for the perfect bargain. One time he even found a KTAL hat at a Pine Bluff Goodwill store! He bought it for 10 cents. Well, as he and Grandma were on their way to the hospital early Friday, he spotted a yard sale... and had to stop and pick up a few things and then had to make a trip back to the house!
Payton looks like her mama.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

April Fool's Jokes around here

Note from the sports guy to producer: Ran into someone in Osseo today and they've got a story for you. Call 651. 487.8282 and ask for Mr. Fox. ((That's the Como Park Zoo number))

Note from the producer back to the sports guy: The father of one of the soccer players in Brooklyn Park wants video of his kid. We can't find it. Can you find out more? Name is Andrew Bah. Call 763. 263.7931 and ask for Mr. Bah ((That's the Shonyo Sheep Farm in Elk River))

Meet Zoe and Sofya

No, they aren't babies this time.

But it is the brainchild of my friend, Mary. Mary was one of my students at HSU, then she was an intern at my station, and somewhere along the way we became friends. She and Martin live in Central Florida where Martin works in video at Disney and Mary works in nonprofit work. Mary spent some time working for a church, and she's now undergoing a rigorous process to become a deacon in the Methodist Church.
She and a friend have noticed there aren't many websites out there that meet the needs of younger Christian women. Sure, there are plenty of mom sites, many conservative sites, and several mainstream Christian news sites. But not many appealing to the young, educated modern Christian woman. So, they have created one. (Think, HSU Baptist versus OBU Baptist...and I think you've got it....and I don't mean that in a bad way....They are equal opportunity Christians :) )
Zoe and Sofya means life and wisdom. They hope to spark good debate, much discussion, and thoughtful devotion. If you know anyone that fits this genre, send them to meet Zoe and Sofya.

Honcho finishes sixth in a downpour

I thought about skipping this blog, but it wouldn't be honest, would it?

Shannon's Honcho finished sixth in what my grandmother described as "a flood." She said he was very skittish because of the rain, and then they put blinders on him. So, it was a sixth place finish. She said after the race, he was literally covered with dirt.

Halfway through the batch it's not bad, but here's hoping for a faster finish next time.

L'As De Pique by J. Riquelme
Go Faster Forest by J. Court
My Magical Breeze by L. Espinosa
Ten Commandments by A. Birzer

Pop said "He just didn't like the dirt, I guess. But if he was at the front, he wouldn'ta had that problem." As Oaklawn is about done for the season, Honcho will be running next at Louisiana Downs.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Rush Hour Remorse

So I've complained about rush hour a time or two. I've really wanted to complain a lot more.
I feel a bit remorseful now. My rush hour commute has dropped from an easy hour and fifteen minutes-plus to about 40 minutes. I can make it in 35 on a good day. No jams. No breaking. It's like a holiday. It's like it was when Obama was giving his inaugural address. Smooth driving.

The reason? So many people in this town have been fired or dismissed or given a pink slip or whatever that they just aren't on the roads anymore.

That kinda makes me feel bad.

But, it sure is nice to get home in 35 minutes or so.