“We have, what, 340 million guns in this country?” “You’re not getting rid of them. They’re not going away.” - Marie Zare, speaking at CPAC

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Hennepin County Library, Plymouth, MN.


What a fascinating stained glass window!  It looks west from the main reading room of the Hennepin County Library in Plymouth, beyond Vicksburg Road. When you're sitting at the long table, reading the prescient quotations from some of the world's big thinkers, you get inspired somehow to learn more, dig deeper, get involved more in life.

Hard to see the quotes on the photo, but this one from the late journalist and telecaster Edward R. Murrow is particularly important:  "We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. When the loyal opposition dies, I think the soul of American dies with it."

Amen.

Buttsie Puts Poppy Through Velo Paces!


Hard-body Jason Butts didn't exactly egg me on.  But I figured I'd show him a thing or two, keep up with his speed, stamina and determination.  So off we went on our Memorial Day ride -- 12+ miles around Medina, picking up roadside litter along the way, and attacking the hills, head-wind and serious heat and humidity with enthusiasm and elan!

I will spare the details, except to compliment Jason on his patience. He didn't chide me for huffing and puffing so hard I had to get off the Surly several times and catch my breath and cool my jets.  And when J headed into Orono and Long Lake to check out his childhood 'hood, he made sure I was strong enough to get back home under my own steam.

Buttsie is fit (and young!). Old Poppy has some miles to put in this spring to get back into shape.  Still and all, every ride is a good ride, and we made a small difference in the carbon footprint area.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Liz Toasts 40th Anniversary w/Morels!


We were at the Weir's house in Medina last night for a 40th wedding anniversary celebration. In this pic honoree Liz celebrates the Morel Mushroom season with a massive specimen from the Big Woods. Known for its abundant harvests of monster 'shrroms, Big Woods is one of 29 S.N.S.A's -- special natural resource and conservation areas around Minnesota which receive extra care from legislators and citizens alike.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

More Love + Goodwill than You Can Imagine.


Hang in there with me on this tale of supreme human kindness.

I stopped today on a bike ride to check out the little green two-wheeler held by the guy in the orange shirt in this foto.  The bike was on its kickstand in the owner's driveway on Holy Name Drive in Medina.  Price "tag" said 10-bucks and I thought: good thing to have for visiting grand kids Oliver, Duncan, Hugo and Isabela who might want to ride when they get home to Poppina and me.

So I gave the owner the ten-spot. As I was leaving a white pick-up arrived and out stepped a man from Morris, MN who had his eye on the same bike.  "I live next to a Mexican family up near the North Dakota state line," said the man. "And my little neighbor friend doesn't have a bike to ride with all the other kids. So I said to myself I'll take the little green two-wheeler home as a surprise."

Hearing this I thought: wow, what a generous, considerate guy. HE can have the bike, not me after all.  So we talked to the owner, the sale was consummated and, I'm sure, a very happy, surprised young boy is cruisin' around on two wheels he never dreamed he'd get.

Moral of the story:  neighbors do neighborly things, whether we realize it or not.  Self interest is trumped some times by service to others.  Thoughtfulness is not dead. Generous hearts abound.

If somehow the one-to-one kindness I witnessed today could trickle down to the institution of government at all levels, then the world be a much happier, kinder, gentler place to live.  How fortunate I was this afternoon to be part of a lesson in civics.

Words of the Prophets?


Simon + Garfunkle used to sing that words of Prophets of their era were written on the subway walls.  So true, so true.

Wonder what our boys would think of the back door prophecies on this Honda Element parked in the lot today out front of Lund's market in Wayzata?

Friday, May 27, 2011

World Traveler Is Home; Mom Happy.


Pina and I picked up Jason last night at Sun Country at Humphrey Terminal.  He arrived at midnight for a 10-day visit, and brought presents for Mom and me from his sojourn in Central America.  Bags of Britt coffee beans -- Costa Rica's finest brand -- and organic cacao, plus a fine "boligrafo" spill out of the backpack and onto the counter for examination by a very pleased mamacita!  Welcome home, Jason.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Paulie, Walter and I : Ready for Success.


Walter, Paul and I were volunteers together at the ECS "Ready for Success" program run out of St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral in Minneapolis.  My two buddies continued to do their work with  needy men this past winter, while I headed to the warm desert of Arizona!

Nonetheless, when there was a celebration this morning of new quarters for RFS, program manager Gary Veazie invited me as a past volunteer to come toast the success of this unique and vital social service.

I noted with more than a little envy that both Walter and Paul had fuller heads of hair a year after we came to know each other in service,  while I had grown balder!!

Deedee of Elawa + Dahlias at 2 Pony Gardens.


Lake Forest pal Deedee Borland drove up to Long Lake yesterday to spend the night with us -- and to collect her annual order of Dahlias from Lisa Ringer at 2 Pony Gardens.  Lisa offloads the plants while Deedee checks her inventory list to make sure every budding flower gets back to Chicago-land and planted in the magnificent gardens at Elawa Farm.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Storm's End, Medina, MN.


Felt pretty fortunate to have been able to capture this shot with my Elph 100S point-and-shoot.  It was Sunday May 22nd. Rain had finally stopped and I was driving north on Cty. Rd. 115, almost to Hwy 55 in Medina.

Parked the KIA, opened the door, stood on the jamb, held my breath, squeezed the shutter. Wow. These clouds are awesome, the sky is so blue, and memories of the ceaseless rain are beginning to fade away.

Greenpoint, Brooklyn to Manhattan.


Chris says that from his apartment window you can see four iconic New York bridges .  Look into the distance in this foto and you'll identify the Willamsburg, Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges.  Jessie adds that if you had "superman vision," you might catch a glimpse of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge, connecting Staten Island and Brooklyn.

Wait: there's more. If you were able to look down at the street through this same window view, you'd I.D. the Euzko Etxea Sport and Social Club -- the place where the Basque community gathers to relax, tell stories, play a little pelota, and dream of the homeland.

What a remarkable melting pot Brooklyn is.  How much I love being here.  How little I know the boro.  Jessie took me to Red Hook today, and I'll add a pic from there in a bit.

Red Hook, Brooklyn, JJ, Fort Defiance Cafe.


With Diver in the car seat looking back toward the Fort Greene section, Jessie drove the XC 90 over to Red Hook  to give old Poppy the grand tour of this enchating and myserious boro.  What that means to those who don't know me well is a meet-and-greet at the best local coffee shops -- where an afficionado de cafe meets the beans of his dreams.  In this snap, JJ leaves Fort Defiance on Dikeman and Van Brunt with a brace of iced lattes -- made all the more yummy with two fingers of half-and-half from the organic dairies of the Battenkill in Upstate New York.

Rainbow Signals End of the Deluge.


It's been nothing but rain, rain, rain here in the West Metro. Days or rain.  Inches of rain. No where left in the soil for the rain to drain.  But just when we're about up-to-here with the rain ... it stops.  And as we look to the east with a mixture of gratitude and caution, we see the big, beautiful, beneficial arco iris as we used to describe a rainbow when we lived in Panama.  Ole!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Cate Charles Gallery, Stonington, CT


Pina and I visited the Cate Charles Gallery in Stonington, CT last week.  Here La Nancita talks to gallery owner Kim Charles about the big piece of work by local artist Sky Hoyt hanging on the wall behind Kim. Sky's paintings sell well at the Charles Gallery, and continue to appeal to residents and visitors alike.  Hoyt is known for her special "touch" when it comes representing the multiple facets and joys of contemporary life. Sky's view takes the perspective of women who seem somehow "balance it all." Not easy .. but they get the job done. Beautifully.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Record Lobster Taken off Block Island -- in 1936!


Way back in 1936 a record lobster was caught by the dragger, "Maurice," 20  miles off Block Island in the chilly Atlantic.  Stuffed, shellacked and mounted for posterity in Grossman's Fishmarket in Mystic, CT, you can check this 56-lb. baby out the next time you're shopping for bounty from the sea.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

H. S. Reunion Choate Class of 1961.


Me and my Choate School buddies assembled in Wallingford, CT this weekend to celebrate our 50th high school reunion.

From  my left: Dave Phillips, Jim Sillin, Palmer Sessel, Paul Wachtler and Bill Braden.

Stay tuned for more about these great guys and a half century of friendship.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Corn Crib Columbia.


Old paint has faded, but Columbia Corn Crib stands tall and strong and proud along Lake Rebeca in Hennepin County's Three Rivers Park.  Looks beguiling in black & white or in color.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

1,000,000 Busted Clay Pigeons


How very spring-y, colorfully unusual this is, don't you think?  Photo shows the far-field at Sportsman's Gun Club in Orono.  Taken from atop Trap House #2.  The busted clay pigeons look like a blanket of wild flowers that have already started to bloom.  Dead birds give birth to stunning colors. Pull!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Scary, Steel Sculpture, Great Northern Pike.


Some sculptor with a great sense of imagination, and a light touch on the acetylene torch,  created this awesome Great Northern -- probably in a garage workshop not far from home.  It sits at the base of Old Glory, just a few feet from the Maple Plain Municipal Library.  Check it out some time.

Cutest Little Library, Ever.


Hennepin County in MN has an enviable record of operating public libraries that serve big towns and small.  When I saw this little cutie a block off U.S. Hwy 12 headed west out of Maple Plain, I had to stop, in awe, and take a snapshot! Wouldn't you imagine that the shelves are filled with little books? No room for bigguns.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Adam's Angels in the Yucutan.


Joe and Adam (my brother and his first-born) spent Spring Break with Mom Nancy in Tulum on the Yucutan Peninsula. Joe snapped a shot of Junior and his Mayan Angels from Ek Balam -- and encouraged me to tell readers of Poppy's Velo Ventures that warm hospitality, lovely people and very happy smiles await the adventurous visitor from the north.  Que buen viaje! 

Welcome to MN Valley Wildlife Refuge.

Bloomington Ferry, MN Valley Refuge

Still cold and windy and damp, but I had a chance to explore the Nat'l. Wildlife Refuge facility at the old Bloomington Ferry landing this morning.  You would not have BELIEVED the birds. OMG. Everywhere, every kind, only wish I spoke chirp.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Thin Ice: Spring Comes to Baker Park.

"Thin Ice" sign is sole reminder of a very cold winter in Hennepin County's Baker Park. Where once you saw skaters against the far shore, now -- if you look, just so -- you can spot a brace of swans gliding in the calm pond water of Spring.

Monday, May 2, 2011