In Defense of Winter

It is a tired subject: winter in Minnesota.

It doesn’t help that the jet stream often covers our state in a deep blue-purple swath or that International Falls actually went to court for the official trademark title: “Icebox of America”. Yes, by some people’s calendar, winter lasts six months here.

By the astronomical calendar, the winter solstice will occur at 10:19pm Central Time on December 21, 2019. This means in very real planetary terms that the South Pole of the earth is tilted toward the Sun and the Sun will be at its southernmost position in our sky, the Tropic of Capricorn.

But for those of us living in Minneapolis on the 45th northern parallel, which is halfway between the North Pole and the equator, winter has already arrived. As of Wednesday morning, the day before Thanksgiving, the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport measured 9.2 inches of snow. We got an additional 2 inches last night and they expect another 4+ inches of snow tonight. Read more…

Frozen Turkey

It’s OK to serve pre-prepped bake in the bag frozen turkey this Thanksgiving.

I am talking to the cooks now. If you have never run the gauntlet that is cooking Thanksgiving dinner or if stove top stuffing with brown and serve sausage is your heirloom family recipe, you can skip the rest of this blog post.

But if you really cook…

If you would prefer a fresh turkey from the butcher (if you could afford it)…
If you intentionally buy overlarge birds specifically for leftovers…
If you inject or marinate or brine your turkey with a concoction of your own special design… Read more…

Deer Strike

I hit a deer.

I drive a 2013 Chevy Spark that is about the size of a postage stamp named Lorraine. On Sunday she was in great shape! As of Monday night, Lorraine had about $3,500 in damage- nearly the total value of the car.

November travel in the mid-west can be treacherous. It brings the official switch in weather, the harbinger of winter, and it’s mating season for deer. In fact, national auto insurance statistics place Wisconsin (#4), Iowa (#5), and Minnesota (#7) in the top 10 in the nation of likelihood for collision with deer.

Mom is in Illinois and I am in Minnesota. Any route I choose must go through Wisconsin or Iowa. Read more…

Natalie Diaz, Mojave American Poet

It is Thursday night and I ride the #2 bus along Franklin avenue, through the heart of the Minneapolis Native American community. My destination is McNamara Alumni Center on the world-renowned University of Minnesota (UMN) campus.

In 1851, seven years before Minnesota was admitted into the Union, the territorial legislature chartered the university. That same year, the Dakota were forced to cede nearly all their land in Minnesota and eastern Dakota in the treaties of Traverse des Sioux and Mendota (though Minneapolis and St. Paul are built on land ceded in 1805).

I am headed to see Natalie Diaz, Mojave American poet and language activist, read her poetry. Read more…

Months in review: Jul-Sep 2019

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” -St. Augustine

I have been so lucky as to read many, many pages of that book. And it is traveling that now disrupts the regular flow of my blog. It’s a good problem to have. Many people are not able to take time off work to visit family or for pleasure. I know how fortunate I am.

These past months, my writing career (such as it is) has been marked by an upswing in attendance of events, not performance of my own work. Open mics have been replaced with workshops, conferences, performances, and readings. And I have submitted my work for possible publication, I trend I hope to continue with more frequency.

On September 27-29, I attended the 16th annual Power of Words conference at the Casa Franciscan Renewal Center in Scottsdale, Arizona. The conference ran Friday night to Sunday afternoon and though there were accommodations, I stayed in a hotel off-site with a patio by the pool and palm trees. Read more…

Mary & Christine’s Big Adventure- Part 6

Tuesday, June 25 to Friday, June 28 ~ SC-NC-TN-KY-IN (803 miles)

Charleston, SC; Asheville, NC; Columbus, IN

Mom: “There’s nothing wrong with the South Carolina map. That Georgia map is made of cheap paper… probably peach skins…” (Free Georgia map rant continues)

Charleston, SC is only 107 miles northeast of Savannah, GA. They are considered the ‘sister cities of the south’ with a longstanding rivalry over which city is ‘better’. We spoke to a number of locals in Savannah and the consensus among them is that she is the younger, wilder sister. Their impression is that Charleston is more polished and uppity. We didn’t talk to any locals in Charleston to get their side of the story… What I will say about it is that Savannah feels smaller, more relaxed, and artsy. It is true that Charleston’s metropolitan population is twice the size of Savannah. So bigger city, more bustle. Read more…

Mary & Christine’s Big Adventure- Part 5

Friday, June 21 to Monday, June 24 ~ FL-GA (496 miles)

Jacksonville, FL; Savannah, GA; Tybee Island, GA

Every trip has its ups and downs…

The trip from Pensacola to Savannah is a bit of a downer. Neither of us want to leave Pensacola yet. It is a special place for our family, full of happy memories, a beach escape from the vast fields of Illinois corn. But we have made a plan to also visit Savannah and Charleston. Mom is determined to stick to that plan, despite the two days we are short on travel due to our late start and early return.

We travel the interstate through the Florida panhandle, far from the coast and surrounded by thick green forest. We get to Tallahassee and mom announces she “wants to eat somewhere where they have tuna fish on tap.” And the search for the seafood restaurant marks the beginning of Lorraine’s bad behavior. Read more…