Sunday, January 14, 2018

Gotta try the "Guacammus" at Kowalski's

If you love hummus and you love guacamole then you can't help loving "Guacammus," a super-tasty, super-logical mix of healthy spreads. Nancy and I were food shopping yesterday in Excelsior at Kowalski's market, tried a sample of the guacammus, and bought a tub. Reports from the East Coast suggest the dip is available in CT, though no one we know there has tried it.  Suggest readers of the Poppy Blog check it out. 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

"Second Chances and New Beginnings" - excerpt from the January 2018 e-newsletter from PPL, Project for Pride in Living.

As Blog readers know, I've volunteered with the PPL program Ready for Success, and have come to know CEO Paul Williams.  The January e-newsletter carries Paul's annual address.  See if you are not as motivated by his message of "Second Chances and New Beginnings" as I was. 

To learn more about PPL and their mission to end homelessness and unemployment, visit:

If you'd like to support Ready for Success you can donate here:

"It’s a new year, complete with second chances and new beginnings."

- Paul Williams, President & CEO, Project for Pride in Living

A Message from Paul Williams

It’s a new year, complete with second chances and new beginnings. This is what Joanne was given, and what PPL strives to bring to each and every resident we house, job-seeker we train, and youth we teach.

With the opening of our latest affordable housing development, EcoVillage Apartments, we welcome in a new phase of PPL’s work in North Minneapolis. This is not only a chance for individuals and families to find a safe, stable place to call home, but a chance to start anew thanks to our wraparound services and support. Whether it’s unemployment, unfinished education, homelessness, or other barriers to success, PPL works to unleash the potential of the thousands we serve, helping kick-start new beginnings.

The opening of EcoVillage Apartments is only the beginning for PPL in 2018. Indeed, we have set ambitious goals for our work in the year ahead. With your generous support, we know we will forge new paths and opportunities for our Twin Cities community.

Happy New Year!


Paul Williams
President & CEO, Project for Pride in Living

Monday, January 8, 2018

Dressed for 4-seasons in Minnesota, when anything can happen, and a guy can look as weird as he chooses.

To protect the identity of this woodsman, I'll simply say that this fella graduated from an Ivy League university.  Ya', sure, you betcha' he did.  You'd never know by looking at him now.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

It doesn't look like Everest from this angle, but to the kold kids hauling saucer sleds and toboggans up Hamel Hill, it might as well have been the top of the world.

I'd been walking around the baseball fields this afternoon, twisting and twirling, stretching and trying to stay warm.  Had to stop mid-way to catch this shot.  If you could have seen (and heard) the speed at which these sledders hurtled down the hill you'd have been taken back to your own sledding youth, when no hill was too steep, no run too fast.

I didn't see many moms and dads offering to schlep the kids' sleds up the hill for one more run.  Come to think of it when we were young sledders, there wasn't a mom and dad in sight.  Child's play.

Thanks to genie software inside the iPhone a colorful afternoon shot can be turned into an artsy Black & White. Don't you like those cattails in the foreground?  By the time I took this one my hands were freezing and the phone went into the North Face puffy jacket pocket, and hands into the gloves.

Friday, January 5, 2018

If this bronze sculpture outside Carver County library doesn't get your young ones to love reading, then I can't imagine what will do the job.

As soon as we find the name of the artist who sculpted this inspiring bronze, we'll post it.   Meanwhile, tweak the motto of the U.S. Postal Service here: neither snow nor zero-temp afternoons will keep young readers from their appointed date with classic books.  

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Gandhi Always Got it Right.

The world has enough for everyone's need, but not enough for everyone's greed.

                                       - Mahatma Gandhi

Monday, January 1, 2018

An Unjustifiable Human Wrong.?

Health care may not be a human right, but  

lack of universal health coverage in a wealthy 

democracy is a severe, unjustifiable, and 

unnecessary human wrong.

                       - David Frum, in an essay, March 2017.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Wayzata floods several sports fields each winter, creating vast municipal rinks for courageous, warmly dressed skaters.

In-town skating at the Wayzata municipal rink is not for the faint of heart. With temps in the minus-double digits as I post this foto, you can imagine how hearty and dedicated these skaters must be.  Oh, they dress warmly as well, as you can see. 

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Eugene O'Neill Theatre Complex Campus, Waterford, CT, December 2017

Young playwright holds prop -- a likeness of the actress'Cher,' made of papier mache -- as he poses for this foto for the Poppy Blog. My young friend (did not get his name) and other performance artists were finishing up a week- long workshop at the O'Neill when I happened upon them during a recent visit. 

To think that the classic drama "Death of a Salesman" helped made the O'Neill Center possible. My English teacher senior year assigned "Death" to our class.  I've now seen the the play itself on Broadway twice.  The character of Willy Lohman is synonymous with an employee no longer relevant to his job and company, where change has come quickly, and he has not been able to adapt.  Never mind that " ... they know me in the territory ..."  Willy beseeches.  We learned senior year that "Death" was a sterling example of the Tragedy genre.  We know now from personal experience how tragic the end of a career can be. 

The O'Neill boasts classy temporary quarters for actors, playwrights, and other theatrical professionals in-residence for performances and workshops. Each house is named in honor of the luminary who contributed the cost of construction.  Names I recognized included "Michael Douglas" and "August Wilson." Other houses are to be built as soon as funds have been secured.

Monday, December 18, 2017

“Friends are the clans we belong to by accident. Of place and space and grace. What a gift: could such pleasure really be just happenstance?"

        - writer Brian Doyle in his 2015 book, 
          "That's how the Light Gets In."

Sunday, November 26, 2017

"Baidarka" - handmade "skin boat" in Aleutian Islander kayak tradition.

Boat builder Christian puts his new "baidarka" skin boat through its maiden voyage paces on a quiet lake in the San Juan Islands.
Skipper Christian poses for a pre-shakedown launch foto by Mark G, well-known Whidbey Island professional lensman.

Stunning attention to detail. Aleutian Islander craftspeople used no plans, made each boat to fit the paddler.  Christian's technique was a carbon copy. 

Christian explains more about his creation:  "My partner Cat and I worked three weeks non-stop building our Baidarka which is a traditional Aleutian skin boat, kind of the predecessor to the modern day kayak.  They are super lightweight and flexible and really nice to paddle.  The traditional ones were made of driftwood and sea lion skin but since we had a hard time finding a dead sea lion this one was made of cedar and ballistic nylon. Neat boats. No screws or nails, everything is lashed together or sewn."

Just look at the size of the sewing needle take a break on the skin boat's deck. 

This baby weighs about 15-lbs, is 18' long, draws perhaps an inch of water.  In the hands of an expert paddler like Christian, the boat is virtually un-capsize-able. 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

1920's era Ice Boat kicked ass on Lake Minnetonka back in the day. Now she's in dry dock in the front yard of the West Hennepin History Center in Long Lake, MN, a mere ghost of her glory days under sail.

You've seen the old black and white fotos like I have.  Skeletal wooden frames, massive square feet of sail, and outrigger skate blades that create the bare minimum of friction. In her prime this baby could probably make 40 knots, delighting spectators along the shores of Lake Minnetonka, likely striking terror into the hearts of the skipper and crew.  I must learn more about the boat and reasons for celebrating her history in our neighborhood.  I'll write more soon.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Friday Night Lights in Key West, Big Oil in Maple Plain, Rocking a Boss San Fran Ride, and Big Cheese in Wayzata.

A long time and dear old buddy, really gets into the high school football scene. Here's our man this past weekend as hometown "Conchs" from Key West routed an arch rival from one of the other Fla. keys. Behind on the field during half-time, the "Conchquettes" twirl, dance and promenade to the delight of (sadly) a half-filled stand.  Wait 'til next year, they say. 

Meanwhile, a world away in central Minnesota, a random junk artiste has created a still-life of questionable meaning. Chairs, wagon wheels, an old Schwinn ... and then there's the rearing pony. I still don't get it. Can I get a little help here?

This one I do get.  Much-in-demand San Fran designer cuts a completely contemporary, fascinating figure in the City by the Bay. Add up the Boots, Bricks, Bike, and saddle Bag and you've got a hot, new and iconic brand pedaling the retro look into future. 

The cheese lady at Lund's in Wayzata said the big wheel of Parmesan you see in this foto weighs about 70-lbs. It has a street value somewhere north of $1250. Parm wheels arrive only twice a year at the supermarket, and if you savor the flavor of parm, you'll do no better than this parmesano reggiano, as my brother-in-law Mark G. refers to it.  Mangia, dude!

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Bikes, Cups, Bags, Vests, Lights, and a bloody mess of a right shin.

Red Rooster Restaurant in Long Lake would not give me an adult to-go cup full of icy cold water.  Against some state liquor regs, or something like that.  I did find a Kiddee-cup and the staff filled that w/agua and the rig fit just fine in the handlebar cup holder on the Giant Cypress.

Picked up a pair red rear flasher lights at Gear West the other evening. Now I am visible as possible to following traffic.  Fluorescent vest  from same bike shop and I feel pretty confident when I'm wearing it. As for the stylin' bag hanging off the rear rack: it's from the UK, handmade of waxed cotton, easily carries a quart of milk, loaf of bread and two navel oranges home from the market.

Delicious Cold Press now on tap at Harvest Moon Co-Op. Kombucha available as well.  Kombu seems sweet, Tiny C. Press is smooth, no bitter after taste, no gut-burn afterward.

I don't fall off the bike much, but I did take a tumble the other day. On my way to Panera, on a road under construction, all pavement dug up and removed, sand and gravel kinda graded smooth, plus a big orange sign that said No Thru Traffic. My front wheel ended up in much deeper sand than I imagined. Came to abrupt stop. Lost my balance, and went down on the road surface landing on my right leg. Of course I continued to my coffee destination, accepted the concerned comments from the baristas, stayed long enough to take a foto, then mounted back up and headed home to warm water, hydrogen peroxide, Neosporin and plenty of Band-aids. Boo-boo all better now, thanks for asking.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Sometimes Things look Clearer, make more sense, when they're Presented in Black + White.

 I bought this winter cap from a street vendor in lower Manhattan not long after Barack Obama had been elected President of the United States.

 Loaner bikes available for guests at classy new hotel "Landing," just opened this summer in Wayzata, MN.

 Back-lit shots never easy to capture in color or Black + White.  I'm inside super-hot retail destination, "Foundry Home Goods," in trendy Minneapolis North Loop. 

 These babies grow in my front yard and, right this minute, I cannot think what the flowers are called.  They are big and gorgeous, seem to have been in-bloom all Summer long.

Neighborhood support for striking bakery workers is seen here in the front yard sign, two blocks south of the Franklin Street Bakery.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Minneapolis Somali-American "Inside Out Project" - Personal and Intimate Portraits that Highlight our Shared Humanity.

Minneapolis has the largest Somali-American population of any city in our country. All during July the center hosts a stunning exhibit of photos in tribute to the people, personalities, capabilities and accomplishments of the S-A community.  We came across the "133 Pinnacle" building while exploring the North Loop last weekend. iPhone fotos do little justice to the beauty of the building and the posters.  I'm headed back there again to learn more.  Will report and post when I get back.

Inspired by large‐format street “pastings”, the Inside Out Project Minneapolis Somali-American Community gives those involved the opportunity to share their portrait and make a statement about Somali- American people and their commitment to our community and our Country. The Inside Out Project is a global platform for people to share their stories and transform their messages into works of public art. Over 260,000 people have participated in 129 countries. The Inside Out Project has displays from Ecuador to Nepal, Mexico to Palestine, inspiring group action on themes such as hope, diversity and climate change.
By bringing Inside Out to Minneapolis, residents will gain a new understanding of the Somali-American identity. These stories will not be framed through the lens of political news or immigration discussions; they are instead, personal and intimate portraits that highlight our shared humanity.
Inside Out is a large-scale participatory art project that transforms messages of personal identity into pieces of artistic work. Everyone is challenged to use black and white photographic portraits to discover, reveal and share the untold stories and images of people around the world. These digitally uploaded images are made into posters and sent back to the project’s co-creators, for them to exhibit in their own communities. These exhibitions will be documented, archived and be made available online at

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Hanging out at the Walker, getting to know the Walker Collage Multiverse #10 by Frank Big Bear.

You can see the new Sculpture Garden in the background, but the green grass, the angles, the strolling art aficionados are reason enough to  keep your eyes focused right here on the foreground.   

You'll read all about artist Frank Big Bear in the following image, but for now here's a look at his lengthy collage installation aross the blue plate special of a diner in the Museum's grill.

I love this one. It's in the underground parking garage and promises a child-like (adult-like as well) adventure if you'll simply walk through the door to your left.

If you happen to see this collage yourself
you'll note recurrent themes of war, cars, popular culture. Plenty of big, naked breasts as well.

Redesigned, enlarged, and more appealingly merchandised book-cum-gift shop than when I last visited the Walker.  Good stuff here as well as throughout the Museum.  Next stop and next time: the Sculpture Garden.  Stay tuned for more.

Monday, July 3, 2017

Independence Day the Hamel Way

Long-time Hamel resident and local legend Buck Manning waves the flag, wishes us a Happy 4th, and reminds us all to come to Hamel tomorrow to watch the parade!