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Wednesday, December 30, 2009. I see in the paper that we got an estimated 15 to 18 inches, Thursday through Saturday. That seems about right. My household's gotten the driveway and sidewalks cleared - several times - and now my son's working at excavating my oldest daughter's car.

Ads saying "no payments until 2010!" and Christmas decorations on discount signal the end of 2009. Sauk Centre's about the same now, as it was a year ago. Except for stuff that changed.

For example, Coborn's Pharmacy has a drive-through now.

It'll be interesting to see how this works: Coborn's Pharmacy drive thru. January 10, 2009.

Ace Hardware's storefront got finished early this year.

Let there be no mistake: Ace Hardware is open! February 18, 2009.

Spring came, along with a bit more water than the streams and storm drains could handle.

Not every small town has street fountains. Or wants them. This pair was gone the next day. March 16, 2009.

Part of the Conservation Park was underwater. Good for the ducks, I suppose.

It's actually rather restful down there, with the sound of rushing of water in the air. Bitterly cold, that day, though. Felt that way to me, anyway. March 25, 2009.

Main Street Press, downtown, is now Main Street Printing. They've gone by that name before, I heard. It's the same outfit, same people: just slight name change.

Rather classy sign, I think. April 6. 2009.

The County Road 186 bridge over I94 looked like it was unraveling, but it's been rewoven. Or repaved, or something.

Most of the bridge deck's off Sauk Centre's County Road 186 overpass. That wad of steel bars puts me in mind of a bird's nest. A really big bird. May 19. 2009.

AmericInn, by the Interstate: I really ought to stop by there and get a closer look at their addition.

AmericInn, Sauk Centre: Looks like they're adding maybe two dozen rooms. June 11, 2009.

The Sinclair Lewis Days Parade, alpaca and all, didn't go by my house again. The Chamber of Commerce Sinclair Lewis Days page has 2010's events listed already.

Someone called this fellow a llama. I'm pretty sure it's an alpaca, though. Also quite tired after walking the entire parade route. July 18, 2009.

Next stop, the Stearns County Fair.

A colorful affair: Ferris wheel and tractors at the Stearns County Fairgrounds. July 28, 2009.

There's a reason why that skunk looks odd. It's two skunks. August 1, 2009.

Our Lady of the Angels church has a Marian garden now.

The Marian Garden by Our Lady of the Angels church: statues, a bench or two, flowers and plantings. I'll want to spend a little time there. September 6, 2009.

Flooding in the spring, drought in late summer. Too bad we can't average out the water.

From the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, U.S. Drought Monitor.

The way it was, Almost a week ago. September 8, 2009.

From the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, U.S. Drought Monitor.

The way it was, almost three weeks back. August 25, 2009.

The Marian garden at Our Lady of the Angels has been used for at least one wedding now. Which isn't when I took this photo.

The Marian Garden by Our Lady of the Angels church. October 25, 2009.

Getting back to "now," that foot-and-a-half of snow gave us a sort of picture-postcard 'white Christmas. And nearly buried some of the yard displays.

There really is a manger scene under the star. And snow. December 30, 2009.

In a way, it'll be good to have a vacation from the Halloween-Thanksgiving-Christmas-New Years holiday marathon. That's hardly a new thought.

"If all the year were playing holidays, To sport would be as tedious as to work." (William Shakesepeare, "King Henry IV Part I", Act 1 scene 2, from The Quotations Page)

Sunday, December 27, 2009. This afternoon I saw it: blue sky. It's been a long, long time since we saw that here.

Christmas is over: sort of. Some folks, this family included, keep rolling through Epiphany (January 3, this time around). But the crazy-making cultural business that Yogi Yorgesson immortalized in "I Yust Go Nuts at Christmas" is over, except for trading in presents that are either the wrong size, or something like a stuffed lizard with a clock in its belly. Next stop on the holiday parade is New Year's Eve.

Christmas Eve in Our Lady of the Angels church. December 24, 2009.

My family has a tradition of me taking at least some of the kids on a drive after Mass on Christmas Eve, officially to take a look at the Christmas lights. They're getting a bit old for that sort of thing - but it's still fun: for me, anyway. My oldest daughter went along for the ride this year: and I got some photos.

Each year, those lights on the front walk look like runway markers for Santa to me. December 24, 2009.

This is one of my favorite displays: particularly those bluish-white silhouettes. December 24, 2009.

There's something to be said for lighting up the night, too. December 24, 2009.

Cool. December 24, 2009.

A household on the near north side has, most years, had a very exuberant display. They seem to have the philosophy that, if one glow-in the dark snowman is good, a crowd is better. With cartoon characters, Mr. and Mrs. Claus, and a Christmas choir to keep them company. I like it.

If they tell you, "you can't miss it" - believe them. December 24, 2009.

Same house, another side. They've even decorated a sort of patio in their back yard: If you know what to look for, you can make out the stairs at the photo's far right. December 24, 2009.

I'm not going to try figuring out who's prepared the most elaborate household display in town. There are a few 'top performers.'

Santa in an airplane, Santa in a racer, inflatable merry-go-round: and that's just for starters. Wow. December 24, 2009.

Civic decorations on Main Street and Sinclair Lewis Avenue, downtown, are a bit more low-key, but they're nice too. The new 'old-fashioned' street lights have strings of lights spiraling up them.

Main Street ("The Original") in Sauk Centre. December 24, 2009.

The computer store in town, on south Main Street, is another place that makes sure you'll see their Christmas display.

This year, the snow globe had a cap of snow. December 24, 2009.

Christmas lights and holiday decorations are fine - and the Christmas weekend storm gave the town a sort of 'picture postcard' look. But eventually someone's got to shovel out the cars and clear the sidewalks. And streets.

Christmas Eve. Think this is impressive? Check out the next photo. December 24, 2009.

That was a lovely scene, and I'm told that chickadees found shelter under this car. But it's going to be a job, shoveling it out. December 25, 2009.

Good job! Then more snow fell. December 25, 2009.

Lovely: as long as I can stay inside. December 25, 2009.

I took that last photo just a few inches from my webcam. It's not on quite 24/7: I have it offline most evenings for a few hours after sunset, for example. But, barring technical glitches, it's usually there, giving a view of south Ash and 9th.

That bit of self-promotion done, here's something really interesting: The choir director at Our Lady of the Angels had her first baby, a boy, right around Christmas.

Driveway in an alley getting blown clear. December 27, 2009.

The rest of the family's come home from Soo Bahk Do class, so it's time for me to wrap this up.

Monday's coming, and no winter weather advisories. That's fine by me. And, as usual after the sort of weather we've had, the forecasts say it'll be a bit colder: Eight below (Fahrenheit) Monday night: which isn't all that cold, by my standards.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009. For me, this is Lille Julaften, or Little Christmas Eve, when the final touches were put on the Christmas tree. I'm half Norwegian, and it took a little getting used to, having Christmas decorations up so early. I like the way we do things now, too: so I've got good memories, and a good present.

This was around 3:00 this afternoon: and dark enough for headlights. December 23, 2009.

There's a winter storm coming: It's in southern Minnesota as I write this. Happily, there wouldn't be any school for the rest of the week, anyway. I posted a map of the area under weather watches, and some comments, on the Sauk Centre Journal Blog: a sort of companion to the S. C. Journal. I plan to have streaming video from my webcam, showing the corner of south Ash and 9th, through the storm. Apart from the occasional interruption for maintenance.

It's sure going to be quiet just after 3:00, for the next week. December 23, 2009.

Okay: I've plugged some of my other efforts, now back to Sauk Centre and the holiday season.

Merry Christmas, everybody, from my house to yours. December 23, 2009.

Or, for for this household and much of Sauk Centre, Christmas season. I see that I have a few hours left before Christmas Eve - and good grief! I've still got stuff to wrap!

Sunday, December 20, 2009. We've had enough snow to make it look like winter, but not enough to be problem.

Snowmobile tracks on Sauk Lake: Don't know how thick the ice is, but it's held up so far. December 17, 2009.

I swung around one of my favorite Christmas displays this week. There's a household that seems to go with the 'you can't have too many glowing figures by your house' philosophy.

"North Pole" sign, candy cane, Santa and Mrs. Claus, elves - or maybe gnomes - lots of snowmen, Tweeties, Pooh, a Christmas choir, and more around the corner. December 17, 2009.

The place is - memorable - at night:

Snowmen and Tweety Birds, Sauk Centre, Christmas 2005
Hark the Herald Tweeties Sing?! Christmas, 2005

Our Lady of Angles church has a more traditional display outside.

Last night's snow: natural flocking for the wreaths. December 20, 2009.

Another candle lit on the Advent wreath. And, I see that Christmas is here on Friday.

No, his hand is not over the candle. December 20, 2009.

This family's gotten most of the major get-togethering done already. #1 daughter is here for the break-without-a-name, and isn't going anywhere soon - except maybe a quick trip back to Alexandria, to pick up her laptop.

The rest of this family went down to the metro yesterday, for the extended-family get-together. I had to miss it, for roughly the same reason I didn't grill burgers this weekend. Well, as we say here in Minnesota, "it could be worse."

Odds are pretty good that, if you're not traveling yourself, your house is crammed with kinfolk or will be soon. If around my age or older, you may remember the days before Yogi Yorgesson's "I Yust Go Nuts at Christmas" was banned on the radio. I trust your family isn't as nuts as Yogi's.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009. Nothing quite says "it's Christmas!" like a snowboarding polar bear and blue poinsettias.

No question about it: It's Christmas. December 14, 2009.

Seriously? I like the Christmas displays in stores, this time of year. There won't be eruptions of color like this until closer to St. Valentine's Day: and that tends to be mostly red, white and pink.

We've had maybe an inch or two of snow: enough to cover the ground, but apparently not quite sufficient for snowmobilers. At least, I haven't noticed anyone out yet.

Serene. December 14, 2009.

I was at the Post Office Monday: a busier-than-normal place this time of year.

Reflections in the Post Office. There's a play on words there, but I can't figure out what it is. Maybe you'll come up with one. December 14, 2009.

Lots of people walk through the Post Office. That fan's surprisingly effective at keeping the floor dry. December 14, 2009.

Another week, and we'll be coming up on Christmas Eve. I thought I was done with all the Christmas shopping, when one of the kids came to me, asking for some gift-giving assistance. I can't write any more about it, since these things are supposed to be secret.

There's something to be said about simple swags of greenery and red bows. December 8, 2009.

Wherever you are, whatever friends or family you're near - or not - I wish you well this holiday season. Good grief, I'm getting sentimental. See you again, Sunday night.

Sunday, December 13, 2009. It's the third Sunday in Advent, with not-quite-two-weeks left until Christmas Day. This household is just about ready: my wife only had to remind me twice to get labels ready for the cards and letters.

I promised (warned?) Wednesday, that I had photos of Christmas lights.

Looks like these folks are using those new (for me) LED lights. December 7, 2009.

Neighborhood lights near the school. December 7, 2009.

Islands of light in the winter night. December 7, 2009.

Quite a few folks put some sort of display in their front yards. A few take another step, and light up their back yards, too.

Amazing, what you can do with a swing set in winter. December 8, 2009.

Another tip of the hat to Main Street Theatre - and local businesses - for those free Saturday matinee movies. The list of contributing businesses makes three columns on the posters you'll see around town. If I'm reading them right, I passed up an opportunity to see Monsters and Aliens yesterday. Actually, one of the "matinees" is in the morning: 10:00 a.m..

As I think I said before, it's a pretty good way of getting Christmas shopping done, making a family day of it, and not going crazy in the process.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009. Christmas is coming. No question about it. We even have snow on the ground. Not much, but at least the grass is (almost) covered now. I've heard that the bulk of the heavy snow went well to the south and east of us.

Santa Express, now boarding in Sauk Centre. December 7, 2009.

More households have their Christmas displays up: ranging from rotating inflatable snowmen and mini-merry-go-rounds, to a few lights or a simple crèche.

A traditional Santa. Judging from those bench colors, under the window, the homeowner likes John Deere products. December 7, 2009.

One of Sauk Centre's more enthusiastic displays. December 7, 2009.

A garland, a few candy canes, and a crèche. Nice. December 7, 2009.

It looks like folks have prepared for winter: including, sometimes, laying in a supply of firewood. You can't see it too well, in the picture below, but there's quite a few cubic yards of wood piled behind and to the side of that gray shed.

One thing I like about this town is that it's still relaxed enough to let people have pickups parked in their yards, or store firewood behind a shed. Neighborhood associations and regulations banning pink flamingos or garden gnomes never made much sense to me.

This was before Tuesday's and today's snow. December 7, 2009.

Moving along.

Hats off to everyone who keeps things running: particularly in winter. December 7, 2009.

One more thing. The school bands put on a concert this Monday: the 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th grade bands, Junior High Jazz Band, Senior High Jazz Band and Senior High Band. There's more than a bit of overlap between some of those: some students had a lot of rehearsals.

At the back of the house: the camera crew. December 8, 2009.

That's my son, and the whole 7th grade band. December 8, 2009.

You weren't seeing things. Those really are corkscrew Santa hats. December 8, 2009.

I've got some pretty good photos of Christmas lights, but there's something to be said for knowing when to stop.


December 6, 2009. It's the Christmas season. Santa Clause put in an appearance at the Wal-Mart superstore on the south side, I'm told. Main Street Theatre, downtown, has it's annual special Saturday matinees. Yesterday's was "Hotel for Dogs." Hats off to Main Street Theatre: It's not every town of 4,000 or so that has a movie theater with a half-dozen screens.

Wait'll you see this at night: He glows in the dark. December 6, 2009.

There's more to the season than going crazy looking for gifts. Easy for me to say: There wasn't much on my list, and I (finally) took care of it a few days ago.

There's putting up decorations, for instance. The kids got our (artificial) tree up this week - and made a really good start on lights and decorations today.

It's cheery and warm - on this side of the window. December 6, 2009.

We've been getting more snow this weekend. Nothing spectacular, but it's been more than keeping up with what the sun melts. It probably won't be too long before the tops of the grass blades are covered. Looks like we'll have a 'white Christmas,' after all.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009. We had a light snowfall today. Not enough to reach past the top of mowed grass, but I'm pretty sure we'll have more as the winter goes on.

Before getting on with the mostly-Christmas-related stuff, something more serious. One of the front page headlines in last week's Sauk Centre Herald read, "Trail rapist gets 12-year sentence". And, the results of an "On-Line Poll." The question was "What do you think of Ajqui's sentence?"

Of 110 responding, 

  • 86% considered the sentence too short
  • 14% saw it as fair
  • 0% indicated it was too long

That surprised me a bit: both the overwhelming number who thought it was too short, and nobody marking off "too long." The rapist is, after all, a relatively young man: and will be in his mid-thirties by the time he gets out. And, quite possibly, deported. But then, he raped a 14-year-old girl: and that's just plain not nice.

I had no idea how the court came up with that "12 year" figure. Which seems to me to be a bit, ah, compassionate: considering the probable effect that the rape will have on the life of his young victim. But then, when it comes to interpersonal relationships, I tend to have a bit more sympathy with people who don't hurt others, than those who do.

I did a little checking, and found an interesting resource online:

Minnesota House of Representatives
Research Department
600 State Office Building
St. Paul, MN 55155
REVISED: September 2004
Mandatory Sentencing Laws

That link sends you to an 18-page pdf-format document on the State of Minnesota House of Representatives' website. I still don't know where the court came up with 12 years.

Well, I wasn't the judge: and all the facts didn't, I'm sure, get into the news. It's some consolation that there's a chance that the rapist will be restrained from wreaking havoc on the life of another teenage girl for a dozen years. Who knows? He may decide it was a bad idea, and not rape again. Stranger things have happened.

I've written about the 'Lake Wobegon Trail Rape' before:

Moving along to more pleasant topics.

We've had a suggestion of snow before, but I think today's precipitation could count as the "first snow of winter." Mainly, since it's stayed around for a few hours. As I wrote before, it wasn't quite deep enough to top out the grass on neatly-mowed lawns. Sidewalks and side streets, though, were (nearly) covered.

First snow of winter? Okay, I'll say that's what it is. December 5, 2009.

Most businesses have some token of the holiday season up: and a few make sure that everybody who sees their place knows that Christmas is coming. Like P's and Q's, on south Main:

Candy canes, Santas, a whacking great snow globe, and: a penguin?! November 30, 2009.

There are all sorts of household displays, too. One of my favorites is on the south side, about a block off The Original Main Street. It's small, and simple: which is part of its charm. And, it's been up each season for years.

Simple, gets the point across: I like it. November 30, 2009.

Some households break out of the familiar decorative themes.

These may be the three biggest Christmas lights in town. December 2, 2009.

And, of course, there are a lot of ways to do a crèche display.

A very simple-looking manger scene. I plan to be back, after nightfall, when the lights are on. December 2, 2009.

Now, I'd better get some Christmas shopping done: that I said I'd take care of, last week.

Sunday, November 29, 2009. It's definitely the Christmas season. 'Jingle bell' music is in the stores, and helical LED Christmas trees are alight in yards. Along with some more traditional decorations, of course. Around here, Thanksgiving is the unofficial start of the Christmas lights season: a number of households lit up right on time, Thanksgiving evening. As far as I know, it isn't an organized thing: it's just the way we do things.

"It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas." November 27, 2009.

And, in the church I go to, Advent has started.

The star's up in Our Lady of the Angels church. November 28, 2009.

Lights in the Marian garden by Our Lady of the Angels church. November 28, 2009.

I know: Our Lady of the Angels isn't the only church in town. But, it's the only one I've been near since Wednesday.

Which reminds me: Thanksgiving's come and gone. The four-day weekend is winding up as I write this. Folks who traveled to family gatherings are, I hope, safely home by now.

I spent the weekend at home, mostly enjoying having our oldest daughter home for the weekend. It's nice, being at the age where family comes to see me and my wife.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009. Sure enough: the house next to the one that caught fire on south Birch Street in September is getting new siding. And, from the looks of it, fresh insulation.

Looks like repairs are getting done just in time for winter. November 23, 2009.

Tomorrow's Thanksgiving Day. Which means that folks will be watching Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on television - or in person, if they're in New York City and don't mind the crowds.

Perhaps more importantly, families will be getting together. My oldest daughter showed up today. Looks like she'll be spending a long weekend here.

Autumn stuff, on sale. It's off the shelves now. November 5, 2009.

Things have changed in the quarter-century-plus that I've lived here. There's a Wal Mart superstore in town with piñatas for those special occasions. November 5, 2009.

My son and I were in the local Wal-Mart this afternoon, returning one router and picking up a new one: sooner or later, we'll get the home Internet connections working better. I noticed that the Halloween-autumn-Thanksgiving displays were down. I didn't see any, at any rate. Swapping holiday-themed merchandise around must keep folks in stores busy this time of year.

Sure, that's not "the true meaning of Christmas:" but I like the bright colors and shiny ornaments, anyway. November 5, 2009.

More householders have been getting their Christmas displays up. There's a sort of unofficial tradition, getting decorations up right around Thanksgiving, then pulling them down around New Year's.

I don't remember this one from last year. I've dubbed him "Fuzzy the Snowman." November 23, 2009.

The Sauk Centre - street department, I think - has been busy, getting the city's street decorations up - - -

Nothing's going to make a day like that cheery: but the festoons help. November 23, 2009.

That's outdoor lighting on, about 4:00 p.m. November 25, 2009.

- - - Including that safely generic "HAPPY HOLIDAY" sign over The Original Mainstreet. I've opined about that before.

"You are entering Happy Holiday? November 25, 2009.

Wherever you are, have a happy Thanksgiving Day. And, if that's not part of your national or cultural pattern, may your routine Thursday be a good one.

Me? I'm hoping to catch at least part of the Macy's Thanksgiving day parade on television. And enjoy being with the family, of course.

Sunday, November 22, 2009. It looks like work is being done on the house next door north of the one that caught fire on south Birch Street in September. Their siding got badly singed, parts of the roof didn't look the way I'd like: and there was probably damage inside, too. At least their house didn't go up, too. If there's been news about how the fire started, I haven't run into it.

I haven't been out much since Wednesday, so most of what I know about what's been going on is from the Sauk Centre Herald. If you haven't gotten the November 17th issue yet, or haven't read it yet, I suggest checking out page 6: There's a pretty good article on area inventers, including Don Lahr and Dick Zetah.

Sauk Centre Herald, "above the fold," November 17, 2009.

The "above the fold" stories on the front page were mainly medical: about the H1N1 vaccinations at the elementary school, and about a family that's been dealing with the sort of disease most of us never hear about: adrenomyeloneuropathy and Addison's disease.

The H1N1 vaccination program was the top headline this week. I'm not clear on whether my son's one of the kids who's going to get the H1N1 vaccinations tomorrow. The doses are being rationed, something the local school had to do, to get any. As I wrote Wednesday, I put together a set of links to pretty reliable sources of information. ("Swine Flu 2009") From what I've read, getting vaccinated - if you can - is a good idea.

Something I didn't see in the print edition of this week's Herald was on the newspaper's website: Benjamin Delacruz Ajqui, the 22-year-old who was accused of that July rape on the Lake Wobegon Trail (August 2, 2009, July 29, 2009) has been sentenced to 12 years. That probably won't be the end of his trouble. There's a possibility he's in this country illegally, and he may be deported when his sentence is up.

Sauk Centre Herald, "below the fold," November 17, 2009.

On a happier note, one of the "below the fold" articles in this week's Sauk Herald tells about training the St. Michael's Hospice staff is getting, about Hispanic culture. Makes sense, I think. Until a decade or so ago, just about everybody in town were either German- or Irish-Americans: and we'd figured out how to get along. And, more to the point for Hospice, we knew what the neighbors might reasonably expect from a service like Hospice.

That was then, this is now: and there are quite a few Hispanic families in the area: and like everybody else, some of their members are getting into the Hospice system.

On a not-entirely-unrelated note, having a new set of people in town has made quite a difference for my family: we're able to pick up prayer candles in the grocery now, for one thing. And, there's a somewhat wider food selection there, too.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009. I had some business at City Hall today, and saw this reminder of the 2009 H1N1 swine flu pandemic. Earlier this week, we signed up so our youngest child could get the H1N1 vaccine at the school. The immunizations take place next month, I think.

What the sign says should be just common sense. It (quite politely) says something like, 'if you're running a fever, coughing and sneezing: please don't infect us. November 18, 2009.

About H1N1 2009: I've been writing about what's happening, in another blog: and put together a set of links to pretty reliable sources of information. ("Swine Flu 2009") Enough of serious stuff.

We've had some beautifully clear, blue-skied days: "October's bright blue weather," come a little late.

Sauk Centre's Yard Waste Compost Facility: I don't usually hang out here, but I was out Monday, and wondered what was making the smoke. November 16, 2009.

It's no campfire: That's an orange dump truck down there. November 16, 2009.

I suppose there's a limit to how much "composting" can be done with Sauk Centre's yard waste. There was a lively fire putting some of the stuff through a really fast recycling process this Monday. Depending on your point of view, the city was endangering fragile Earth - or providing plants with vitally-needed carbon dioxide.

It's not exactly new, now, but I think this is the first time I've featured the Sauk Centre water processing plant. November 16, 2009.

A bit north of that Godzilla-size bonfire, the Sauk Centre water works was too good a photo-op to pass up. While I'm thinking of it: Thanks, everybody who keeps services like water, power and light running.

Some householders skipped right past Thanksgiving, and are getting set for Christmas. November 18, 2009.

On the other hand, some take the holiday's one at a time: in some cases, with distinctly non-traditional artwork. November 18, 2009.

I'm running out of time, and still haven't said anything about holiday displays in the stores. Well, that will wait.

Sunday, November 15, 2009. I drove up Fairy Lake Road last week, for no reason other than that I hadn't been out that way in some time. It was a fine day, and I took a few photos.

Small town America: a bucolic refuge from the hustle and bustle of the big city? Well, maybe: but we've got cable television and rural telephone service, too. November 5, 2009.

Farmers were taking advantage of the good weather, getting crops in while they could.

Harvest time. November 5, 2009.

I'll admit it: I like living here. November 5, 2009.

Like the title of this section of Brendan's Island says, "I Love it Here!" Sauk Centre's a fine community, and I enjoy living in a place where we have to be reminded to not feed the ducks, just north of downtown.

But this area isn't just about woodland scenes, the untouched beauties of nature, and all that. People live here, and we have work to do. Sometimes that involves getting at the sand that so much of central and Northern Minnesota is made of.

A lovely woodland scene: with skid loader and sand. November 5, 2009.

Don't knock it: sand pits can get downright picturesque, if you leave them alone for a season or two. November 5, 2009.

I was - and am - something of a science fiction fan. Stay with me: This really does connect with central Minnesota. Back in the late sixties, I ran into a few stories that assumed that the American bison had been driven to extinction in the 19th or 20th centuries. And, if my memory serves, a few "factual" articles said the same thing.

Which was sort of crazy, considering that I'd seen the bison herd at Itasca State Park.

You're not seeing things: those lumps are American bison: someone's herd, north of Sauk Centre. November 5, 2009.

I'm not sure if the word has filtered to the coasts yet: but the American bison is alive and well, and being raised for their meat. They make sense for this climate: They're built to withstand our winters, which the usual sort of cattle aren't, quite.

That was a big bird: I'm pretty sure it's an eagle.. November 5, 2009.

That's about enough for the photos for today. I plan to be back Wednesday, with whatever I've noticed in and around Sauk Centre. Happy Monday!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009. Veteran's Day, 2009. Also Armistice Day - and it has a few other names. I'd like to say something profound: but that's not going to happen today. I posted a few links to earlier efforts here: "The Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month: Yeah, It's Kind of Important."

I've been out twice, so far this week: both times on Monday. The first was to get something done at the bank drive-through, the second: I'll get to that. Whatever it is that I've got, it isn't H1N1 - but it's quite enough to encourage me to do as little as possible. (Don't worry, by the way: each time I was out, I made sure I didn't make direct contact with people - and kept my hands unusually clean.)

I checked the news a few minutes ago. If you got the impression that there were a lot of law enforcement cars on Minnesota Highway 23 Friday, you were right. There was a saturation patrol there - with three arrests and 12 citations, according to the St. Cloud Times. The Sauk Centre connection is that our police department was involved.

And I see that Glencoe is going to have a new Fleet Supply store. Bob Tomsche's chain is in Paynesville, Little Falls and Glenwood. And, of course, Sauk Centre. That I got from the McLeod County Chronicle.

Monday evening, the grades 7-12 bands put on a concert, Mad About The Classics.

Mad About The Classics: But they didn't look angry. November 9, 2009.

You're out in front of everybody, talking to bright lights and darkness: Giving that sort of talk isn't the easiest thing to do. November 8, 2009.

The music was well-done - arrangements of well-known (and not-so-well-known) classical pieces. And hats off to the young man who got up, talked to bright lights and darkness (I've been in that position: trust me, that's all you're likely to see), and made it look easy and natural.

Sunday, November 8, 2009. Thanksgiving is less than a month away, then there's the Christmas/New Year double holiday: and then we'll be able to relax. It's also autumn. I've seen flocks of geese heading south in those shifting V formations.

Householders who make a point of setting up yard displays have been shifting gears.

Halloween's gone: Here's Thanksgiving. Christmas? That's coming. November 5, 2009.

Hey, who ever said we can't have Jack 'o Lanterns out for Thanksgiving? They're ripe pumpkins, right? November 5, 2009.

Some folks have both Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations up: not a bad idea, considering what the weather's likely to be, after the end of this month.

Getting ready for the holidays. That snowman is doing something - unusual. November 8, 2009.

No, I wasn't seeing things. That snowman is roasting marshmallows over a wood fire. November 8, 2009.

The 1st State Bank sign is announcing time, temperature - and Toys for Tots, along with other community activities. The sign by the Stearns County Fairgrounds is advertising storage space, instead of coming events. We got more rain this afternoon, so this wound up being another one of those slow, gray days.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009. A week ago I wrote about the seizure of a small dairy herd near Sauk Centre, in the Sauk Centre Journal Blog. (Not All Dairy Farmers are Like This (October 28, 2009)) It was breaking news then: and on the front page of this week's Sauk Centre Herald. (the article's also online) As I said last week, this sort of thing makes the news because it's so rare. I was very glad to see Keith Streff quoted: "This is a rare and isolated incident."

Above the fold: Sauk Centre Herald. November 3, 2009.

Several households still have their Halloween displays up. And, happily, this year there aren't as many broken Jack 'o lanterns around.

I get the impression that group on the right's having a heated debate. November 4, 2009.

Those are expressions you don't see every day. November 4, 2009.

That's a more traditional set of spooky Jack 'o lanterns. November 4, 2009.

There's more going on in Sauk Centre, like Toys for Tots and Thanksgiving stuff in the stores. But that'll wait until Sunday.

Sunday, November 1, 2009. This afternoon was a fine example of "October's bright blue weather." A little late in the game: but I appreciated the sunlight and clear sky, anyway.

Sauk Centre got its first snowfall Friday, after (another) day of rain. There wasn't all that much snow, and it melted later: but it was a definite sign that winter's coming.

This winter's first snowfall. After rain. October 30, 2009.

I was going to take some pictures of Halloween displays people had set up: but in this weather they seemed more dreary than fun. Maybe next time.

It's been raining. Quite a bit. Drizzling, mostly, now that I think of it. Also overcast.

Holidays aren't for everyone. October 31, 2009.

Saturday was Halloween. There don't seem to be as many kids  out, trick-or-treating, as there were in earlier decades. On the other hand, one of the youngsters who came to this household wore a 'traditional' sheet with two eye holes cut in it.

While I'm thinking of it: Hats off to everybody who keeps emergency services running 24-7-365. What looked like a traffic stop happened in this neighborhood. I've been in situations like that, and it's no fun being pulled over. On the other hand, it's nice to know that the police are on the job.

Enough with the philosophizing.

Between the weather and the way I've been feeling, I didn't get out to catch the Halloween decorations this year. Almost didn't get out. On my way to church this morning, I saw a collection of Jack 'o lanterns.

Happy Halloween! November 1, 2009.

The next big holiday is Thanksgiving, so I figure the stores will have the things that go bump in the night down, and turkeys up soon.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009. It's been raining. Quite a bit. Drizzling, mostly, now that I think of it. Also overcast.

More of "October's bright blue weather." October 28, 2009.

I was going to take some pictures of Halloween displays people had set up: but in this weather they seemed more dreary than fun. Maybe next time.

Which I see will be after Halloween.

By which time I should be feeling more up to par. Right now, as Arthur Guiterman wrote, "Great Caesar's bust is on the shelf, And I don't feel so well myself."

Sunday, October 25, 2009. I noticed a new sign on the storefront next to the Thread Shed on Main last week. I know: It's been there for a month - since September 21, - and It's A Dollar had their Grand Opening last week. What can I say? I've been a little distracted.

I've mentioned how gray October is: and dark. That car's running with headlights on, and it's early afternoon. October 22, 2009.

They still had their "Grand Opening" signs and balloons up when I went this week, to take a look around.

Pretty good selection, actually. October 22, 2009.

I talked to Kirstin, one of the co-managers - the other one's Sundae - and learned that the place is owned by John Johnston, is tied to Thread Shed and the Todd County DCA - and that the Sauk Centre Herald had done a pretty good write-up on them about two weeks back. I figured I'd look up that article - but discovered that we didn't have that issue in the house.

Despite its name, I learned that not all the items in It's A Dollar sell for a dollar. Some go at two or four for a dollar.

Oh, yeah: That got my attention. October 24, 2009.

Around supper time, I heard a siren on south Ash Street and saw an ambulance turn east, a block north of us. Then another siren, and this time it was a fire truck turning here at the corner of 9th and south Ash.

And there were a lot of red flashing lights off in the general direction of the school. My oldest daughter and I went to see what was going on: three units from the Sauk Centre Fire Department, and an ambulance were parked on that stub of East Street near the school, and a police car was blocking the other end of the street.

It could have been worse: a lot worse. That light on the roof seems to be some sort of flashlight. October 24, 2009.

When we got over to south 8th, I realized why so many units had come out. There was a bit of smoke coming from the back of a garage: and a fuel oil tank sat just back of the garage. This time of year, there could have been well upwards of a hundred gallons of oil in there.

The fire crew had to push a cinder block chimney over, but they got the fire out. And, in what I thought was a really nice gesture, helped get a tarp over the new hole in the roof.

Halloween's coming. October 22, 2009.

In the two-decades-plus that I've lived in Sauk Centre, I haven't been to Monster Manor. Not once. It's been open this weekend, and of course will be on for Halloween - which I see is next weekend.

The Marian Garden by Our Lady of the Angels church. October 25, 2009.

Statues in the Marian Garden by Our Lady of the Angels church got blessed this evening. A fair number of people turned out. More about that another time.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009. The flag at the National Guard armory downtown was flying at half-staff today. I think - but haven't found out for sure - that it's to honor National Guard Specialist George Cauley, who died recently, of wounds incurred in Afghanistan. There's more at the Minnesota National Guard website and KSAX.

National Guard Armory, Sauk Centre, Minnesota. October 21, 2009.

We had "October's bright blue weather" on Monday. Blue skies, fluffy clouds, sunlight, the whole works.

Harvest's happening. October 19, 2009.

Agribusiness is a very big deal here in central Minnesota: and messages on the 1st State Bank sign often reflect this.

Ironically, H1N1 showed up in a few Minnesota pigs this month. October 19, 2009.

I'd have been at the Harvest Graces Mass, but they say to stay home if you're sick. October 19, 2009.

The big holiday trio is coming up: Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Quartet, with New Year's. Which gives some householders a chance to decorate their yards.

One of the more thorough Halloween displays. October 19, 2009.

Some folks put up a sort of combination display. This one would be fine for Halloween and Thanksgiving. October 19, 2009.

October's bright blue weather ended sometime Monday night. 

"October's bright blue weather"? The poet didn't have this in mind.
October 21, 2009.

Hardly the day to take a leisurely stroll. October 21, 2009.

Rain or not, some jobs won't wait. Like the fellow I spotted near Lake Wobegon Trail. Hats off, to everyone whose job takes them outside on days like this to keep the systems we all use working.

He's probably wondering why I stopped. October 21, 2009.

Tourist agencies don't emphasize it: but this is a fairly typical October day in Minnesota. October 21, 2009.

It's getting late, I'm still not feeling up to par, and there's more to do tomorrow. I trust that Sunday will be a better day. Dryer, anyway.

Sunday, October 18, 2009. We had a few hours of "October's bright blue weather" this morning. Then the clouds came back. I see that Helen Hunt Jackson, the poet who made a poem of that name, grew up in Amherst, Massachusetts. They may have more reliably bright blue Octobers there, than we do here in central Minnesota.

Enough philosophizing. That three-day mattress sale downtown is over now. (I wrote about it in the Sauk Centre Journal Blog.) The street sweeper's been by my house a few times, and it's about two weeks until Halloween. And, that Marian garden between Our Lady of the Angels church and the rectory is just about finished.

The Marian garden by Our Lady of the Angels Church is getting finished, one piece at a time. October 14, 2009.

Halloween's coming up. As I've said before, some households take holiday decorating more seriously than others. One place, near the river, has the biggest single Halloween decoration I can remember seeing: a sort of inflated gateway. "Cute" is an over-used adjective, but it's the only one I can think of to describe the thing just now.

Now that's a Halloween decoration! October 16, 2009.

With the drought this summer, I didn't think we'd have the most spectacular autumn colors this year. Looks like I was right.

October's bright blue weather? October 16, 2009.

My family and I moved to Sauk Centre in early 1986, so in 2011 I'll have lived here a quarter-century. In that time, I've spotted some places in town that tend to have really nice fall colors. Like the yards in these two photos. Last year they were a real treat.

This year, they're a bit more subdued. Okay: a lot more subdued. The overcast didn't help, but that tree just isn't the bright-red it was last year. Well, there's always next year.

Let's take a closer look. Those trees have been brighter, some other years, but it's still a nice scene. October 16, 2009.

"Spectacular" isn't everything. I think that's a nice, subdued set of colors. That tree's got a beautiful shape.

Then there's this yard. There's a whole lot of color going on there.

They're a chore to rake up, but autumn's leaves put on quite a show. October 16, 2009.

Maybe I'll catch some of "October's bright blue weather" on Monday. Looks like that'll be my last chance for the week. Tuesday through Thursday, we're slated for rain. Then, as a change of pace, the forecast says that Friday it'll be snowing.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009. I'm back. My family (minus #1 daughter, who couldn't get away) spent the weekend in northern Illinois. We buried the last half of my parents' cremains there. That's not a typo: They were cremated, their ashes comingled, and the cremated remains ("cremains") put in two urns. September was quite a month for this family. (More in my personal blog, October 12, October 5, September 30, 2009.)

My family and I were in Chicago on Monday. October 12, 2009.

It's good to be home. October 14, 2009.

The front page headline of this week's Sauk Centre Herald says that the house fire on South Birch Street a month ago (Monday, September 14) was probably arson. The article says there's a $2,500 reward for any information provided that leads to a conviction. The paper has a phone number for the Sauk Centre Police Department the State Fire Marshal's Office and the arson hotline (1-800-723-2020). Those phone numbers are on the Herald's Web article, too.

I drove around the north side today, to look around. There are fewer leaves on the trees, and more on the grass, than I saw last week. No surprises there.

Sunflower stalks, fallen leaves, and a garden waiting for next spring. October 14, 2009.

Pumpkins out for Halloween and/or Thanksgiving. October 14, 2009.

I've said this before, but it bears repeating. Just about everybody in Sauk Centre does a pretty good job of keeping their yards mowed. A few households go a few - quite a few, in some cases - steps further, and decorate.

One of the more decorated front yards in Sauk Centre. October 14, 2009.

I like that. My household isn't one of them: But I'm glad that there are people who take the trouble to make their front yards into a display.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009. It's been wet this week.

Or, to put in another way, it's been clammy, dank, dewy, drenched, dripping, drizzling, foggy, humid, misty, moistened, muggy, raining, rainy, showery, soaked, sodden, soggy, sopping, soppy, water-logged, watery and wringing-wet.

It's rained.

A lot.

This tree has it all: bare branches, autumn colors, and green foliage. October 5, 2009.

Sauk Lake, near the band shell parking lot. October 5, 2009.

Sinclair Lewis Park, down by Sauk Lake, has been looking pretty quiet. I was a little surprised to see the fountain still running, back on Monday the 5th.

The umbrella kids are still there, in the fountain. October 5, 2009.

Gulls, ducks, and other birds have either headed south or are getting ready to go.

A few gulls on the fishing pier, in Sinclair Lewis Park October 5, 2009.

These two didn't mind me getting closer. October 5, 2009.

Ducks on Sauk Lake. Getting ready for the trip south, I suppose. October 5, 2009.

I'd meant to see the Goat Show, last Friday and Saturday, but it slipped my mind. I see they're already letting us know when the 2010 Stearns County Fair will be.

I missed the Goat Show! October 7, 2009.

A friend of one of my kids has H1N1 / Swine flu. He's being well taken care of. I learned about it this morning. That sure brought the pandemic 'home' to me.

I saw blue sky today: and have a photo to prove it. October 7, 2009.

I saw a bit of blue sky today: and took a picture so I'd have proof. There was a scrap or two of blue, several days ago: but that's been about it. Today's flashes of sunshine were a welcome change.

I think I've mentioned this before, but September's been a pretty - ah, interesting - month for me. My second-oldest daughter got married, my new son-in-law got quite sincerely sick, and my father died.

With everything that's been going on, I'm giving myself a sort of vacation: So there won't be a Sunday entry this week. I plan to be back on schedule for Wednesday, October 14.

Thanks for your patience!

Sunday, October 4, 2009. It didn't rain today, not that I noticed anyway. I even saw a patch of blue sky around noon. It's chilly, though: or bracing, or brisk: and finally starting to feel like fall.

See that two-tone tree, to the right of the stop sign? Looks like it can't make up its mind what season it is. October 2, 2009.

That tree to the left of the truck is a bit undecided, too. About the streets: I've mentioned that it's been raining, right? October 2, 2009.

The baseball field, up on the north side, seems to have new dugouts. Either that, or I don't remember the ones that are there - not all that unlikely, this last month. I suppose the things will have roofs eventually. But, what do I know?

I suppose that 'please keep off the grass' sign isn't all that hard to read. Still: you'd think it'd do more good nearer where people might start walking. October 2, 2009.

Have I mentioned that it's rained most of the week? I didn't have to be out in it all that much, happily - and I suppose we can still use more moisture in the soil.

On the Country Club golf course's west side, there's this mushroom: looking like it's been planted there. October 2, 2009.

H1N1 / Swine flu has people's attention. Today in church, we heard that the bishop says that we shouldn't shake hands during the 'sign of peace' - instead, in the Our Lady of the Angels parish at least, we're supposed to put our hand over our heart and bow a little. Makes sense, in the circumstances.

I've got another photo or two, but enough's enough - and I've got more to get done tonight.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009. I see that Main Street Coffee Company, across from Marc'ette Floral in south Main's 600 block, was featured in an article in AgriNews (September 22, 2009). The focus of the article was on homemade bread pudding with caramel sauce.

When you see me lead with something like that, you know I don't have a whole lot of my own stuff to say. I thought about writing about what I read in the Sauk Centre Herald, but you can read that as well as I can - and I'm just about opinioned-out right now.

It's been quite a month - highlights in my personal blog. I'm hoping that October will be a little less eventful: but one way or another, my life has never been boring. We'll see what happens.

Speaking of not-boring: My webcam shows the excitement Monday through Friday, as a horde of teenagers in cars and trucks pour from South 9th onto Ash Street - and kids who don't have wheels negotiate the crosswalk. Come to think of it, some of the kids who don't have 'wheels' are on bicycles - which have wheels - but don't 'have wheels' in the colloquial sense. I think.

After the recent weirdly warm weather, it's finally feeling like fall. Highs in the fifties, frost advisories not too far west of here.

I plan to get out with a camera and catch some of the leafy action before Sunday. But then, I've planned a lot of things. Getting those photos, though, I'm fairly confident about.

Have a good rest-of-the-week.

Sunday, September 27, 2009. Quilts were on display in the 1st State Bank when I went in on Friday: One of them has something to do with a West Union sausage supper and a raffle. I didn't notice what the other one was about. I've been a little distracted lately.

Quilts being raffled, a boy and his dad in, attending to some business: another Friday afternoon at the bank. September 25, 2009.

At church today, I heard that the nursing home has asked that anybody with a respiratory infection stay home and not come to visit. Makes sense, I'd say, H1N1 or no.

We've had both sorts of typical Minnesota autumn days: bright and clear, when it's a joy to be outside; and grimly overcast with rain and wind. Birds are either on their way south or making ready.

Gulls. Lots of gulls. West of Wal Mart. September 25, 2009.

It wasn't raining around noon Saturday or Sunday, though, so I didn't get wet while I grilled burgers.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009. The headlines at the top of this week's Sauk Centre Herald are "Trail rapist pleads guilty" and "H1N1 is here / What to do to protect yourself" - and after that, a feature about Kevin Kerffeld's dealing with lung cancer.

The sky was as somber as the lead stories yesterday.

Ever have days like this? September 22, 2009.

Some trees were turning: but what I mostly noticed was the unsunny sky. September 22, 2009.

The "Trail rapist" pled guilty, with no plea bargaining. Turns out he's probably in the country illegally, and came here from Guatemala. Given the minimum sentence, 144 months (12 years), he probably won't be back in circulation for a while. Which is a bit of a relief.

Our Lady of the Angels' priest, Fr. James Statz, was the first person the victim met after the attack: my family is in that parish, which brings this incident a bit closer to home.

The paper gives some good, common-sense advice about not getting H1N1/Swine flu this year: Basically, wash you hands, don't get sneezed on, and don't sneeze on others.

I walked down to Coborn's this afternoon to get my annual flu shot. Which doesn't cover H1N1. Well, can't have everything. I'll just have to be a bit more careful than usual. (I've been keeping track of H1N1/Swine flu in one of my blogs, and collected a fair amount of information about the bug, and what's being done about it.)

Flu shots inside: I got the point. September 23, 2009.

There's something new inside Coborn's: a hand/handle sanitizer pole. The idea is to take one of the wipes, wipe it across the handle of the cart you take, and do your hands while you're at it.

By far not the worst idea I've run into.

Swab the handle and your hands? Yeah, it takes a few seconds: but I think it makes sense. So, apparently, did the folks who'd used the pole just before I took this photo. September 23, 2009.

The sky's cleared up today, I'm hoping to attract chickadees - plus a whole lot of sparrows - at the birdfeeder this winter.

Sunday, September 20, 2009. I'd been wondering why I wasn't seeing hummingbirds at the feeder. Then I found out: hummingbirds arrive here around May, and leave in September. On the up side, chickadees, sparrows and Minnesotans stay here all winter.

I can tell, by the way the sun hits my eyes at the computer after suppertime, that we're getting close to the Autumn Equinox. I see it'll come Tuesday of this week.

The grass, and most trees, are still green, but a few have gotten a head start on the season.

Sure, winter's coming: but I like the colors. September 19, 2009.

I see in the paper that a fire broke out at 4 in the morning last Monday. It was three doors south of where this family lived when we first came to Sauk Centre. The house itself is kaput, and from the looks of it it came close to taking the ones next door with it. The folks on the corner will need new windows on the south side, plus roof repairs, minimum.

Bad news, somebody lost their house: Good news, nobody got hurt. September 19, 2009.

That was a quite thorough fire. September 19, 2009.

The - potting shed, I think, off behind the corn - and garden weren't scorched, at least. September 19, 2009.

Again, good news: nobody got hurt. Still, that's a big - maybe huge - loss.

On a happier note, I spotted this - thing - over the weekend.

The incredible glass-bellied frog of south Sauk Centre. September 19, 2009.

And, since nobody in the family was getting married, and we weren't up in the Red River Valley of the North visiting my father and the newlyweds (yes we did leave them alone quite a bit), I had the pleasure of grilling - twice - this weekend. Perfect weather for it, too. Warm, but not too - and enough breeze to discourage the mosquitoes.

That's one thing I like about Minnesota winters: no mosquitoes.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009. We're in the last half of September. It still doesn't look or feel much like autumn, but the signs are there.

The lilac flowers, months later. Another cycle is ending. September 15, 2009.

Down by Sauk Lake, trees are still green, but a few leaves have fallen. And the campground isn't as full as it was earlier in the year.

Like the sign say: "open." It wasn't this quiet earlier, and it's likely enough that the place will be filled next year, too. September 15, 2009.

Those speed bumps encourage a slow-and-easy driving style. And things are still likely to pop off trailers and boats. September 15, 2009.

I see in this week's Sauk Centre Herald that the Sinclair Lewis Campground is expanding. The city would have added more camping spots west of the existing area before, but neighbors - reasonably enough - weren't all that keen on looking at a campground from their front yards. A row of pine trees has grown up now, making it hard to see the houses - and, presumably, hard to see the campground, too.

There's $20,000 of campground planned for this spot. The city figures it'll pay for itself in about two years. They're probably right: the existing sites fill early and stay that way each summer. September 15, 2009.

The Sinclair Lewis Campground is near the Sinclair Lewis Park, a couple blocks south of Sinclair Lewis Avenue and the Sinclair Lewis Boyhood Home: open and available for people who didn't get enough of Sinclair Lewis at the Sinclair Lewis Interpretive Center down by the Interstate. We're not likely to forget that Sinclair Lewis came from Sauk Centre.

Ducks are still around. A dozen or so filed across the campground road while I was taking photos. This was no milling crowd: rather, a purposeful procession, with a mallard and attendants in the lead. 

Ducks journeying through shadows and across asphalt. September 15, 2009.

This is it: the promised lawn. September 15, 2009.

Sinclair Lewis Park, down by the lake? It's still there: band shell ("Sauk Centre Bowl" it's called), playgrounds, picnic tables and all. And trees. Lots of trees. I didn't check out the east end, so the 'umbrella fountain' may be down for the season.

Sinclair Lewis Park: a pretty nice place, actually. September 15, 2009.

And, there's the less nostalgic-seeming sign of autumn's advent: revving engines and squealing tires, just after 3:00 in the afternoon, Monday through Friday, here at the corner of Ash and South 9th Street. It makes for a real change of pace from the usual view of yards, trees, light traffic, folks out walking, and intermittent hummingbirds.

You can see the excitement on my webcam. And, as I said, there's traffic and trees to look at the rest of the day. I think it's the first 'eye-on-the-street' webcam in Sauk Centre.

Sunday, September 13, 2009. At least the drought hasn't gotten any worse right here. Which is more than I can say for a few counties north of us. Looks like the rain we got helped us stay even with evaporation and the like: and that's about it.

Well, 'it could be worse.'

From the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, U.S. Drought Monitor.

The way it was, Almost a week ago. September 8, 2009.

From the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, U.S. Drought Monitor.

The way it was, almost three weeks back. August 25, 2009.

Aside from that, things are fine. As far as I know, that is. There haven't been any epochal changes downtown, traffic is still light enough, even on Main, so people jay-walk downtown instead of trudging over to the crosswalks.

After Labor Day, summer's pretty much over. September 4, 2009.

I've been out of town for the weekend. (A little more about that in the Sauk Centre Journal Blog.) It was good to be coming up Sinclair Lewis Avenue, a bit past 5:00 today.

Sinclair Lewis Avenue, near the armory. September 13, 2009.

Some of the trees have started turning. I don't know if they're 'really' turning color, or have been stressed by lack of water. Maybe a little of both.

A little fall color's showing up. September 13, 2009.

It's good to be home. September 13, 2009.

Barring any more surprises, I expect to stay in town for the rest of the week, grill burgers Saturday and Sunday, and generally revel in life as it's lived, here in 'small town America:' Minnesota style.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009. Labor Day's been called the unofficial end of summer. There's something to that. It's still warm, but between school being in session and rapidly-shortening days: it's time to put the boat away, make sure the furnace is in good shape, and get ready for the season of snowmobiles and shoveling.

After Labor Day, summer's pretty much over. September 7, 2009.

Sauk Centre's school year started yesterday, so there's a sort of rush hour around 8:00 and 3:00, as kids on foot, on bikes and in cars go through their weekday migration. My webcam catches the action - along with the more sedate hours when you're more likely to see a hummingbird, someone taking a walk or folks driving by on south 9th Street near Ash.

I see that zebra mussels are in a half-dozen Alexandria-area lakes. (More at the Echo Press and DNR.) It'd be nice if everybody who moved boats and equipment from one lake to another would check their equipment - although it looks like the mollusks aren't all that easy to spot.

On a happier note, we got rain last night - and may get more this weekend. I understand we're a bit short on soil moisture. Still, it could be worse.

Sunday, September 6, 2009. First State Bank got its roof re-shingled, or re-covered, or whatever, this week. Maintenance like that is just routine stuff: the sort of thing that doesn't get a lot of attention, unless it doesn't get done.

Maintenance: if you do it right, nobody will notice what you did. I doubt that the bank roof will look any different, next week. September 2, 2009.

I try to keep the tone in the Sauk Centre Journal upbeat: but it seems to me we've been having a lot of funerals this year. 

Again?! I've been seeing a lot of these, it seems. September 4, 2009.

On a much happier note, flags have been up for a few days, for the Labor Day weekend. We've had the right sort of weather for the holiday: warm, sunny. When I grilled burgers for lunch today, there was enough wind to discourage mosquitoes, but not enough to make the grill hard to light.

Sinclair Lewis Avenue, Labor Day weekend. September 6, 2009.

The Marian garden between Our Lady of the Angels church and the rectory is finished, as far as I can tell.

The Marian Garden by Our Lady of the Angels church: statues, a bench or two, flowers and plantings. I'll want to spend a little time there. September 6, 2009.

There's still a day left of the holiday weekend, but I've got a few 'gotta-do' tasks to get done tomorrow. For everyone who's being sensible and taking the day off: enjoy, and get home safely.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009. One reason I've heard for reading the news is that it makes you feel better. Between fires, floods, earthquakes and the occasional or wild- or car fire started by a flaming squirrel: no matter what's happening to you, odds are there's someone who's worse off.

I'm not sure I believe that, but it makes a good story.

I see in this week's Sauk Centre Herald that two men have been charged in the July 20 burglary at the GreyStone Golf Club. Melrose's Meadowlark Golf Course got burglarized around the same time. And, apparently, vandalized. As if stealing wasn't enough. The Saint Cloud Times ran a short article on the arrests, too. Can't say I'm sorry they were caught: I just hope the damage done at GrayStone gets paid for, and the stolen goods replaced.

There's also an article, available online, about how the family of Bryan Silbernagel is coping with his suicide, back on July 11 (or 12, according to a Fergus Falls paper). I've had some personal experience with suicide, and appreciate what an unpleasant, awkward topic it is. Hats off to the Herald for printing that.

Time for something that's not quite so depressing.

Again in the Sauk Herald, I see that Emily Lahr was a runner up in this year's Princess Kay of the Milky Way contest.

My second-oldest daughter's getting married this Saturday, which is a pretty big deal for this family. And definitely not depressing.

School's starting next week, which is probably why I've been seeing more kids going by lately. And hearing more squealing tires.

Coborn's had a spot of color out front this week: pots of red and yellow (mostly) flowers.

Local color. September 1, 2009.

I spent some time, yesterday and today, driving around town: mostly on errands. I'm still impressed by the many ways people have of using their yards.

One big garden of a yard on the north side. September 1, 2009.

A quietly understated collection on south Ash. September 1, 2009.

This household moved their 'bathtub Madonna' - this year, I think. It's probably not, strictly speaking, a bathtub Madonna: but the effect is about the same. September 1, 2009.

Now that's the way to be a birdwatcher: buy one, set it out by the grill, and watch at your leisure. September 2, 2009.

Finally, the Sauk Centre Journal has a Blog, named, unimaginably enough, the Sauk Centre Journal Blog. Mostly, it'll just be a repeat of what's written here: but I'll put commentary and extra photos there from time to time.

Sunday, August 30, 2009. We've had a run of ridiculously nice days: blue skies, picturesque clouds, gentle breezes, not-so-gentle breezes, and not a drop of rain.

Right here, near the northwest corner of Stearns County, the drought's about as severe as it was about two weeks ago. On the other hand, some folks are worse off: and some areas - including that red blot on the August 11 map - aren't nearly as dry as they were.

I'll call it good news.

From the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, U.S. Drought Monitor.

Don't get me wrong: I'm very glad for the rain we've gotten. On the other hand, we could still use more. August 25, 2009.

From the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, U.S. Drought Monitor.

Don't get me wrong: I'm very glad for the rain we've gotten. On the other hand, we could still use more. August 11, 2009.

From the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, U.S. Drought Monitor.

Here's where we were, back at the end of June. June 30, 2009.

Drought or no, my yard sprouted a few informal mushroom gardens this week. Nothing serious, I trust. On the other hand, I'm definitely not picking them to perk up the next meal. I'll skip the 'public service message' stuff about eating you find growing wild. The way I see it, if you've made it through a Minnesota winter or two, you've got enough sense to leave the things alone - or get someone who's seriously competent to coach you.

Sauk Centre has those solid-colored flags out downtown again: school colors, I think. A sort of celebration (warning, maybe?) that school is about to begin. Me? I like seeing the flags: It's a spot of local color.

I'm blaming this on my #2 daughter's upcoming wedding, and the affect it's having on my mind: I had the van out this afternoon, and had taken the camera with me. Didn't stop anywhere, I was just looking in the least-unlikely spots for #2 daughter. While she was out, she got a 'call back immediately' phone call about something.

Anyway, I got back: and then, about an hour later, realized the camera wasn't where it usually goes. I was still looking for it, off and on, when my wife and two of the kids went to Soo Bahk Do class. And, when they came back. That's when one of them found my camera. Right where I'd put it. In the laundry.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009. I see in this week's paper that two cases of H1N1 have shown up around the school: and elementary student and an adult staff member with the West Central Education District. They're both being treated, and it looks like the infections involve a small number of people. School's opening on time, and we're told there's nothing to worry about.

Okay. It does sound like it's a quite restricted outbreak. I've been following H1N1 (sounds somewhat less dreadful than 'swine flu,' doesn't it?) in one of my blogs. As far as I've been able to tell, some common-sense measures, like washing your hands, go a long way towards preventing an infection. Still, any kind of flu is nothing to sneeze at.

On a happier note, that Marian garden next to Our Lady of the Angels Church is looking more like a garden. A couple of guys were digging and planting there this afternoon.

Grass, dirt, plantings, and a Bobcat (I think). It's coming along nicely, I think. August 26, 2009.

There's been more going on in Sauk Centre: like the Blue Star Mothers of America Chapter 5 Motorcycle Fun Run last Saturday. The Sauk Herald did a pretty good writeup of the event. (I gotta get out more!)

On a personal note, my second-oldest daughter's getting married in a week and a half. I'm not all that involved in the preparations, thank goodness, but it's got me in a sort of fog, anyway: more so than usual.

Sunday, August 23, 2009. For families with kids, the big deal right now is probably the start of the school year.

Bus barn and emblematic skies? August 23, 2009.

Wednesday, September 2, is open house; then classes start on Tuesday the 8th. Why they don't start on Monday is a bit of a mystery: but I'm sure there's a quite good reason.

There it is: "what's happening". August 19, 2009.

The MCCL had it's big rummage sale this week. Good thing they use one of the buildings at the fairgrounds.

No kidding: it really looked that un-sunny. August 19, 2009.

The Marian Garden next to Our Lady of the Angels church has at least some of the plants in place now. I understand setting up the irrigation system is part of what comes next.

The statues will be the last to get put in place, I think. August 23, 2009.

Fr. Statz talking about the garden after Mass. August 23, 2009.

Squirrels get hungry too, you know. I'm not sure that the house owners see it that way, though. August 19, 2009.

That squirrel brings me up to date, until Wednesday.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009. We got more rain today, for which I am duly glad. It's doing a great job of keeping lawns green, but I haven't found out how the soil around here is doing.

The County Road 186 bridge over I-94 is still tying up two lanes of traffic: one going each way. It's a different two lanes now, though, than what it was before. Whatever's going on in there involves a log of hissing.

Secret bridge work?! August 19, 2009.

My guess is that they're doing  something like sandblasting inside.

Sauk Lake was placid today, but not many people were out fishing. Actually, I didn't see any. Not all that many people are free on Wednesday afternoons. The chance of thunderstorms tended to dampen enthusiasm, too, I suppose.

Nice, tranquil, cloudy day: with a chance of lightning. August 19, 2009.

The umbrella fountain down near the lake is still going strong. The water coming out the top and running off the umbrella was a bit redundant today.

The fountain at the lakeside part: one of my more favorite spots in town. August 19, 2009.

I finally got a photo of that construction site on south Main, across from the Hillcrest Motel.

Nice to see a patch of green, instead of dirt. I still haven't a clue what whoever owns the lot plans to do with it. August 19, 2009.

The Marian garden by Our Lady of the Angels church is still taking shape. The crew got a platform for the statues set up, but I suppose they don't want to work in the rain any more than most folks.

That pail by the sidewalk covers two exposed re-bars. You can just see the platform through the near arch. August 19, 2009.

School's starting September 8, with an open house on the second.

Sunday, August 16, 2009. We've been getting quite a bit of rain lately. Quite a bit at a time, at any rate. I've heard that Alexandria got over an inch today. It's helpful, but it looks like we can still use more. Just the same, I see it's much worse over in Chisago, Washington, and southeastern Anoka counties.

From the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, U.S. Drought Monitor.

Don't get me wrong: I'm very glad for the rain we've gotten. On the other hand, we could still use more. August 11, 2009.

From the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, U.S. Drought Monitor.

Here's where we were, back at the end of June. June 30, 2009.

Still, as we say in Minnesota, "it could be worse."

The Marian garden is taking shape. There's a paved walkway now, and I'm hoping to see more work on it next week.

It's looking more like a garden. I t sure that the bricks are ready to be stepped on, so I didn't try. August 16, 2009.

That construction site on south Main, across from the Hillcrest Motel, looks like a very green lawn now. I don't know if it was seeded, or sod was put down there: but it was a lush green patch last week. Did I get a picture of it? No. Well, maybe this week.

Sunset. I appreciate the rain: but it's nice to see blue sky, too.
August 16, 2009.

We had a presentable sunset this evening, and 

Wednesday, August 12, 2009. It got up to around 90 today, so naturally I grilled potatoes for supper. That's not as crazy as it sounds. I kept in the shade and relaxed: more at my Easy Griller blog.

Now that I've got that shameless plug out of the way, let's see what's been going on in Sauk Centre.

The Marian garden at Our Lady of the Angels is looking more like a garden and less like a lawn. Okay: this afternoon it looked more like a construction site.

Our Lady of the Angels church: So that's where the path goes. I think. August 12, 2009.

Construction on a larger scale is happening in a few places: a garage here, a building there. This isn't the day I'd have picked for working outside, but I guess it beats some of the alternatives.

West side scene: that building isn't nearly as isolated as it looks. August 12, 2009.

The County Road 186 bridge over I-94 is still being worked on: Whatever's being done makes quite a lot of noise now and again, and occasionally takes up a lane of traffic. No complaints: I'd rather have work done on a bridge before it collapses. (Think I-35W, August 1, 2007.)

Down by the lake, quite a few people are spending vacation time parked down at the lakeside park. Sinclair Lewis Campground, I think it's called.

Lake, grass, trees, downtown Sauk Centre a few blocks away: Yeah, it's pretty nice. August 12, 2009.

There's something called "Taste of the Town" going on: sounds good. There's more in the Sauk Centre Herald.

Small town America: Sauk Centre, Minnesota. Yeah, it's pretty nice, too. August 12, 2009.

I know that more has been going on, but somehow my second-oldest daughter getting married in - good heavens! about three and a half weeks - has distracted me. And I'm on the fringes of the frenzy.

Sunday, August 9, 2009. Coborn's Kid's Week: two weeks, really; had good weather for its parade on Thursday. A dozen or so kids - I didn't try to count them - showed up with grownups: some in organized groups, some pretty obviously with family.

A dozen or so kids and a big yellow duck on wheels. August 6, 2009.

Enter a cow. A purple cow. In knickerbockers. August 6, 2009.

A briefing, perhaps, on the parade route. August 6, 2009.

And they're off! Purple cow in the lead, the kids and grownups parade to Ace Hardware before processing southwards. August 6, 2009.

Anon the procession passed the southern passage between the parking lots, returning after a brief consultation between cow and clown. August 6, 2009.

After the parade the kids had a bounce hut, water balloon catching competition of some sort, and grilled hot dogs. It looked like fun.

Bounce Hut, water balloon toss, hot dogs being grilled: and a yellow duck. August 6, 2009.

Now, a more serious topic. The recent rape on the Lake Wobegon Trail has made a difference around here: members of this family now routinely carry pepper spray, for one thing. I think it's important to remember, though, something that was in this week's Sauk Centre Herald. Bryan Zollman, a news and sports editor, pointed out that Lake Wobegon Trail had been around 11 years. Apart from reports of suspicious individuals and indecent exposure around Holdingford, there hasn't been all that much trouble.

For a trail that's 54 miles long, and has about 100,000 people a year on it: that's not bad.

Lake Wobegon Trail: Yeah, it's a nice place. August 6, 2009.

On a happier note, work started on that Marian garden by Our Lady of the Angels church this week. There are archways set up, and (temporary, I trust) orange-painted rebars stuck in the ground at intervals. I understand that some rocks will start going in next week.

Marian garden by Our Lady of the Angels church. It's starting to take shape. August 9, 2009.

Ticks have been prolific this summer, but aside from that things are going pretty well: as far as I know. The recent rains have helped yards in town, at least.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009. I'd picked up some groceries yesterday afternoon, at Coborn's, when a police car, siren on, pulled up in front of Ace Hardware. Then another one. Someone from the video store next to Ace came out and talked to one of the policemen as they went inside - gesturing more than folks in this part of the country generally do.

Whatever the reason: This is not a good sign. August 4, 2009.

Something was obviously amiss. About three minutes later, an ambulance arrived. The ambulances are up on the north side, so I could hear the siren coming down main, with the flourish they make at the downtown stoplight.

Medical emergency. While I'm at it: Hats off and thanks to EMTs, police, fire - all first responders. August 4, 2009.

I'd just as soon never need their help - but it's nice to know they're there. August 4, 2009.

I heard that someone working the till at the video store had a 'seizure.' Given the flexibility of the English language, I'm not entirely sure what sort of seizure it was. I'm just glad we've got a pretty good emergency response system here in Sauk Centre.

I didn't stick around to see why they needed the wheeled gurney and this, too. August 4, 2009.

Someone's been sticking little colored flags into the lawn between the rectory and Our Lady of the Angels church. Work started this week on a sort of Marian garden. It's been paid for by passing the hat (metaphorically speaking). Someone gave a substantial sum that put the project over the top. (Whoever you are, thanks!)

"Before." That's going to be a rather special garden. August 6, 2009.

Those orange-red lines show where the edge of part of the garden will be. But it looks like someone walked across the lawn with a leaking paint bucket. August 6, 2009.

Coborn's in Sauk Centre is having "Kids' Week" - for two weeks. I just found out about it today. (I know: it's probably been in the paper and everything. But my second-oldest daughter's getting married in a month, and I'm a tad distracted.)

They're having a parade of some sort tomorrow, with games afterwards. Sounds like fun.

Sunday, August 2, 2009. It's been quite a week, for good and ill. I wrote about Tuesday's rape in the last entry. I see in this week's Sauk Centre Herald that GreyStone Golf Club and Melrose's Meadowlark Golf Course got burglarized. And while the burglars were at it they broke "computers and other equipment."

A much happier article started right above the fold on the front page, about the Sauk Centre, Minnesota - Migori, Kenya connection.

The Herald website says that bail has been set for the person arrested in connection with Tuesday's rape: $500,000. In conformity with American custom, the paper uses terms like "suspected of" and "accused of" and "first-degree criminal sexual conduct" - the good news, I think, is that the assault is being treated as a serious offense.

Moving along.

This year's Stearns County Fair is over. I put in some time at the Knights of Columbus Bingo game in the back of the Eagles' building. They use the west part, the K. of C. use the east end. That was two hours of saying things like, "B, eight. B, eight." and "Oh, seventy-one. Oh, seventy-one."

East end of the Eagles' building. I was calling out numbers for Sauk Centre's Knights of Columbus for about two hours, and didn't make too many egregious mistakes. August 1, 2009.

Something I wrote about six years ago is a pretty good word-picture of the Stearns County Fair:

No matter what you come to see at the fair, what you encounter most is people. Folks squeezing past each other at the exhibit booths, walking between buildings, tending to livestock, examining equipment, or sauntering down the midway. And there, at the heart of it all, right off the midway, a Knights of Columbus bingo booth is tucked in between a big, round beer stand, a food concession, and the race track.

The Conservation Club had an assortment of wildlife, as usual, this year. August 1, 2009.

This pintail was one of the more serene ducks: when I was there, at any rate. August 1, 2009.

One of the animals at the Conservation Club's exhibits was a very odd-looking skunk. The feet were pointed in the wrong direction, and the head was on wrong.

There's a reason why that skunk looks odd. It's two skunks. August 1, 2009.

After I took that photo, the skunk moved. Or, rather, one of the two skunks moved. One had been lying on his (her?) back, the other on his (her?) left side. They don't seem to have much of a sense of personal space.

Back in June, there was a Corpus Christi procession from Our Lady of the Angels to St. Paul's church. I've started putting photos and a few words about the procession on a post in one of my blogs.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009. A 14-year-old girl was raped on or near the Lake Wobegon Trail yesterday. I discussed this disturbing event, briefly, in my Through One Dad's Eye blog. The 'alleged assailant,' or whatever we're supposed to say these days, was apprehended. My family has made some changes in our routines and procedures, since we live close to the Trail. It wouldn't hurt anyone to review their habits, after this.

On a much happier note, several families were enjoying the playground down by the lake, yesterday.

'There's safety in numbers' - yeah, we have to think that way. July 28, 2009.

I've been meaning to feature this little garden spot for quite a while. Someone in the downtown area has a really nice garden set up in their back yard - which is the roof of one of the businesses on Sinclair Lewis street. I've enjoyed this spot of color, each time I need to park in the lot across from City Hall.

Garden spot, one floor up, downtown. July 28, 2009.

The Stearns County Fair started today. Some exhibitors and midway outfits have been setting up, earlier this week.

A colorful affair: Ferris wheel and tractors at the Stearns County Fairgrounds. July 28, 2009.

The Holiday Super Stop, west of the fairgrounds, got new paving at the back of their property yesterday.

Paving crew, behind the Holiday Super Stop. July 28, 2009.

Today, folks were busy at the fairgrounds, getting the midway rides and concessions ready; setting up, or putting the finishing touches on, exhibits, and staying out of the rain.

Stearns County Fair: Everything's there except the crowd. July 29, 2009.

Quite a few folks were in the 4-H building: I'm not sure what they were doing, but they obviously knew. July 29, 2009.

One of the 4-H exhibits: something to do with a power grid, I think. July 29, 2009.

'Inside' one of the exhibits in the 4-H building. July 29, 2009.

I mentioned it rained, right? I was in the Conservation building when the first heavy shower started. The sound those raindrops make on a metal roof is impressive.

Rain: It's fun to watch, when you're under a roof. July 29, 2009.

I sauntered from one building to the other between showers - or tried to. Not everybody had my leisurely schedule, of course.

Umbrellas - a wonderful invention. July 29, 2009.

We can use the rain, but I hope it lets up for the Fair. I plan to be back, Sunday night, with what I saw at the Stearns County Fair.

Sunday, July 26, 2009. I warned you that I'd be back with more photos from the Sinclair Lewis Days parade. There's a video, too: Sinclair Lewis Days Parade: July 18, 2009, over in the Central Minnesota Theater. In runs about three minutes and forty four seconds, featuring Shriners on go-karts, and (almost) the Wal-Mart dancing shopping carts. Also horses and a few still photos.

I was going through my 'parade' pictures in chronological order today, and noticed that this set is - colorful. You'll see what I mean.

There really is a Red Hat Society: and they're represented in the Sinclair Lewis Days parade. They generally have one of the more colorful units. Bright red. Also some - purple, I think.

Red Hat Societies - 'the red hat ladies' ride again. July 18, 2009.

On a more serious note, Blue Star Mothers went by a little after the Red Hat ladies.

A sign on the back of this float reads, "supporting our military, past and present." July 18, 2009.

Red Hat Societies, Blue Star Mothers, naturally a titanic paint can came after that, followed by an orange Volkswagen bug.

Red, blue: next red, white and blue - with a King Kong-sized paint can, followed by an orange VW bug. July 18, 2009.

Things have been happening in Sauk Centre since Wednesday: At least, I assume they have. About all I noticed was a hummingbird or three at the feeder - or maybe the same one, several times. That, wedding preparations, and a cat named Max, managed to distract me.

I did notice that Andrea Kerfeld is a Sauk Centre firefighter. It's a milestone of sorts: she's the first woman firefighter in town. I read in the Sauk Centre Herald article that one of her three girls was concerned about her mom having to wear a firefighter's outfit. "Their concern seems a little more fashion related at this point," Kefeld said. If the name sound familiar, it should: Andrea Kerfeld was a reporter for the Sauk Centre Herald, and did a documentary on the fire department.

Let's see: yet more photos from the Sinclair Lewis Days parade. Check. Link to a not-quite-four-minute video about the parade. Check. Mentioned historic event in Sauk Centre. Check.

That's it for today. I expect to be back Wednesday, with more. More what, I don't know.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009. There's more to Sauk Centre than Sinclair Lewis Days, but you wouldn't know it from this entry. I haven't been out of the house, apart from re-filling the hummingbird feeder and a few other chores, since Sunday.

Apart from finding a new way to hurt my back, I'm fine: it's just been a little hectic around here. I wrote a little more about that in Through One Dad's Eye today.

Back to Sinclair Lewis Days.

Saturday, on my way to check out Crazy Days, I parked on fourth street, just east of Main, so most of downtown was out of sight until I rounded the corner.

Crazy Days - where is everybody? July 18, 2009.

I was a little surprised when I saw maybe a half-dozen people, total, on the east side of Main. Well, maybe it's the economy, I thought. 

So, I took a picture and crossed the street. Same thing, only more so. Nobody in sight until past Eyes on Main. Then, my first clue: one of those sidewalk signs.

Crazy Days - Okay, that makes sense: do the Crazy Day sale over where folks can get a cup of coffee while they're there. July 18, 2009.

Cobblestone Court had its "Crazy Day Sale" over at Jitters Java. No wonder I didn't see anybody in front of the store. The rest of the storefronts on that side of main, from the corner to Eyes on Main, are commercial, not retail - so Crazy Days doesn't have all that much to do with them. 

Over on the other side of the street, another piece of the puzzle dropped into place. Hidden Treasure had a sign out on the sidewalk, but had their merchandise 'hidden' inside.

Crazy Days - No wonder I didn't see anybody: they're inside. July 18, 2009.

Don't think you'll get away from Sinclair Lewis Days that easily, though: I've still got more photos. Mostly of the parade. And, I hope, a few video clips. But those will be in Sunday's entry. At least, that's what I'm planning.

Sunday, July 19, 2009. Sinclair Lewis Days are over, and so is a horse show (Welsh pony, actually). My wife and one of my daughters helped clean up after the horses: I bowed out this time, since I'm not convinced my back is quite up to the task yet. The, ah, natural fertilizer redistribution process was a fundraiser for the local Soo Bahk Do class. Seems that Welsh pony enthusiasts aren't quite so enthusiastic over what their Welsh ponies produce, and are willing to pay someone else to shovel out the stalls.

Where was I? Right. Sinclair Lewis Days. That annual celebration of Sauk Centre - and central Minnesota - came to a head Saturday, with Crazy Days, the usual parade, and a street dance.

Crazy Days - They're fairly sane, actually. It's the prices that are a bit on the 'crazy' side. July 18, 2009.

Crazy Days, downtown, looked a bit less crowded than it has some years. Then I realized that one store had its Crazy Days event at another location, and another store put signs out front, and let people come in to check out the merchandise.

And, I'd come 'between' waves of shoppers. By the time I'd crossed the street, the sidewalk was crowded again. 

People had left chairs and blankets to mark a spot for at least three blocks along the Sinclair Lewis Days parade route by mid-afternoon. The parade itself didn't start until 7:00.

I wasn't at all disappointed that yesterday's parade didn't have the extra excitement of last year's. Still, it's good to know that the Sauk Centre emergency services can handle a burning car while the parade's going on.

Poor chap: He's been in the parade for a couple years at least; and, to the best of my knowledge, has yet to find a customer. July 18, 2009.

Dancing Off Broadway: That's an energetic bunch. July 18, 2009.

The parade took something like an hour and a half to pass. I'm not sure how long the route is, but it's probably upwards of a half-mile. That's not all that long a walk, but you'd notice that you'd traveled afterward.

Which seems to have been the case with the four-legged fellow in the photo. I'll get back to him (or her, maybe) another day.

Someone called this fellow a llama. I'm pretty sure it's an alpaca, though. Also quite tired after walking the entire parade route. July 18, 2009.

There's more: including, I hope, some video from the parade. But that'll have to wait for another day.

Thursday, July 16, 2009. Normally, this would be my Wednesday entry. But, between getting ready for two days out of town and the actual trip, this was about all that I've seen of Sauk Centre until today:

There's something cheery, seeing Sauk Centre's lights on the way home. July 16, 2009.

I'm still looking forward to the Sinclair Lewis Days Crazy Days and parade on Saturday.

Catching up on events, I see in this week's Sauk Centre Herald that something called the Valley Forge Village Project is proposed for the Minnesota Correctional Facility/home school/whatever up on the north side, east of the golf course.

Reading the Herald's discussion of 'nay saying' and concerns about 'unsavory' people moving in, I did a little checking around. The Valley Forge Village Project is a proposal by the Patrick McCaffery Foundation. The organization's writeup on the project says that they're trying to help vets make the transition between active service and civilian life: "...The primary focus will be on reintegration to family and society in general, family counseling, job training, as well as a retreat for rest and relaxation...."

I've heard worse ideas.

I've also lost track of how many different ideas have been put forward for making use of the buildings and grounds. Sooner or later, something will hit the wall and stick: it might be the Valley Forge Village Project.

Another for-sale storefront downtown. July 17, 2009.

The building that housed Main Street Drug, downtown, is still for sale and now has company. The storefront between the State Farm agency and Main Street Printing's new home is available for anyone with the money and a good idea.

Produce stand across from the Holiday station, near the Interstate. The sign says "new potatoes" - and the rest looks pretty good, too. July 17, 2009.

Down by I-94, the AmericInn's addition is coming along, and 'The Country Stop' produce stand is up and running.

I plan to be back Sunday evening, with photos of Sinclair Lewis Day's finale.

Sunday, July 12, 2009. The big deal in Sauk Centre this weekend, as far as I was concerned, was the Half Arabian horse show at the fairgrounds.

Also, I confirmed that the Sinclair Lewis Days parade starts at 7:00 after all, not 7:30 as another town's paper (mis-)reported it. While checking that out, I learned that this year's route will be the same as last year's, starting at the Industrial Park and ending at the lakeside park, by way of Sinclair Lewis Avenue.

There was more than a horse show going on around town, of course: like a drilling operation of some sort in the neighborhood. For a short while, we had one of the taller structures in town a few lots over.

This is nothing: You should have seen this rig when the boom was extended. July 9, 2009.

Sinclair Lewis Days kicked off today, with a waffle breakfast. Tomorrow the treasure hunt starts. The Sauk Centre Chamber of Commerce has a schedule on their website. I'm looking forward to the craft show and Crazy Days on Saturday.

Standing quite still, apart from the heads -and particularly ears. July 11, 2009.

I spent a few minutes at the Half Arabian horse show, enjoying the sound of hooves on packed dirt and the sight of well-trained horses.

Western hats and English (I think) riding habits. Not on the same people, of course. July 11, 2009.

Decades ago, at a Red River Valley Fair, I learned that some of the best horsemanship happens 'behind the stands,' where people who seem as comfortable on a horse as on their feet aren't tensed up, trying to perform a routine flawlessly.

Horsing around before performing for the judges. July 11, 2009.

My attention was focused on the horse show a bit more than it might have been, since my wife and a selection of daughters helped the local Soo Bahk Do class work the food concession at the show.

It was a bit off-peak when I took this photo at the food concession. July 11, 2009.

Finally, a word of wisdom from the Sauk Centre Chamber of Commerce: at Wednesday's turtle races (Jimmy's Pizza, 4:00 p.m.), bring your own turtle.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009. This weekend and next week's going to be an active one. A horse show starts Friday, and runs until Sunday, when it overlaps the start of Sinclair Lewis Days. That's a Half Arabian horse show.

I suppose that means that the horses' pedigrees are half Arabian and half something else: not that half the horses are Arabians and half of them are some other breed.

Then the last two days of Sinclair Lewis Days overlaps a Welsh Pony show.

I missed most of the daft duck season this year, but did spot this duo on Monday, downtown.

Trying to remember where they parked?! July 6, 2009.

An oddity of our language and culture is that the same plant can be a wildflower, or a weed: depending on where it's growing. 

This isn't a weed: I've decided it's an informal floral display. July 6, 2009.

These, on the other hand, are definitely flowers. July 6, 2009.

Meanwhile, our cherries are coming along nicely. I suppose I could think of them as free birdfeed.

Cherries: they're a colorful sight. Maybe we'll get them before the birds do this year. July 6, 2009.

The construction site on south Main hasn't changed much: although somebody's set out a string of hoses and sprinklers. Good thing, too: the way this summer is going, a good wind would make that dirt into a real nuisance.

Sprinklers: good idea. July 8, 2009.

I'm looking forward to Sinclair Lewis Days: particularly the parade. Which I see is at a new time this year: Saturday, 7:00 p.m. I hope they have the route back to where it was before last year's Ash Street Project: It's nice, being able to watch from your own yard.

Better yet, if you're out of town, but near a computer, you could watch it on my webcam.

Sunday, July 5, 2009. Flags downtown and red, white and blue banners in church marked this as July Fourth weekend. Sauk Centre's fireworks happen down at the race track, and toward the end of Sinclair Lewis Days.

We've gotten a bit of rain this week, which was welcome. But, looking at the Drought Monitor, it hasn't made all that much difference here in Stearns County.

Now, there's sky with character. July 3, 2009.

On the other hand, it hasn't gotten all that much worse. Which is more than I can say for some of the folks south and west of us.

From the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, U.S. Drought Monitor.

Earlier this week, I was introduced to a lovely spot in Sauk Centre that I hadn't known about: a sort of path where a railroad used to run. It's a beautiful spot: and already home to a respectable number of mosquitoes.

An idyllic path among the trees, with nothing to disturb the tranquility except mosquitoes. Maybe. June 30, 2009.

I'm no gardener, and my hat's off to people who maintain flower beds. There's a different set of flowers blooming now, in mid-summer: including this set of blooms that made a home for themselves in some shrubbery near our house.

I'm not particularly good at growing flowers. These volunteers grew without attention: which may explain their success. July 5, 2009.

Looks like Sinclair Lewis Days start next Sunday, with a waffle breakfast, so I'll have something to write about week after next. I'm pretty sure there'll be something to discuss next week, too. Contrary to the stereotype that 'nothing ever happens in a small town,' I've found that there's always something going on: you just have to stay alert. As the sign said:

The World Needs More Lerts

Saturday, July 4, 2009. First:

Happy Birthday, America!

After that this will be anticlimactic, but my webcam is back online. Thanks for your patience: It had worked quite well from December 27, 2007, to April 26, 2009, delivering one new picture every minute or so. I had it up and running for a few hours Wednesday, and hope to be delivering two new pictures a second - at least during most daylight and evening hours.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009. It's the season when a householder's fancy turns to lawn ornaments: artificial deer, tiny plaster (I think) bear cubs and that old standby, the birdbath. Garden gnomes were conspicuous by their absence in the Wal-Mart parking lot, and I didn't see a single pink plastic flamingo. Times change.

Assorted lawn ornaments and shrubs. Maybe. June 30, 2009.

Dutch elm disease is still a fact of life here in Sauk Centre. A tree down the street had been marked with that orange ring, and came down yesterday afternoon.

Another elm gone. Between the Ash Street Project and Dutch elm disease, there's a lot more open sky and sunlight on South Ash Street now. June 30, 2009.

After a few hours of delivering live streaming video this afternoon, my webcam went on the fritz again. Until the thing cam be made to work, I've put a photo of what it would have shown this morning in place of the live feed. I suppose I should be happy that, from December 27, 2007, to April 26, 2009, it was delivering one new picture every minute or so.

On a happier note, a big white fireworks tent is up in the Wal-Mart parking lot, with a half-dozen flags whipping in the wind.

Fireworks and the Fourth. That, and grilling burgers, are find American traditions. June 30, 2009.

This household won't be setting off any fireworks, but I hope to grill burgers on the weekend. Of course, I like to do that every weekend. I suppose we can think of something special for Independence Day.

Sunday, June 28, 2009. Next Saturday is the Fourth of July: Independence Day. And, a deadline by which I need to get a few things done. But that's my problem.

I'm wondering where Lakeshore Drive and Lakeridge Drive are going, south and east of this intersection on the north side. there's nothing but a field in those directions now. June 25, 2009.

The Corner Shop: a new Awning, and an "open" sign. June 25, 2009.

After more than a year at the corner of Main and south 4th, The Corner Shop is still there. I've yet to go in there: but obviously quite a few other people have been visiting the place.

We've had a bit of thunder and lightning come through town, as well as rain. The clouds put on quite a show, but I don't know how much water actually came down.

"There's wind in those clouds," my mother would have said. June 27, 2009.

Good news: that's east, and the clouds are moving away from us.
Better news: as far as I've heard, the weather wasn't all that severe.
By Minnesota statndards. June 27, 2009.

As of Tuesday, the drought map didn't look all that much different from the previous week's. We've had a bit of rain since then, though.

From the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, U.S. Drought Monitor.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009. I jumped the gun a little in Sunday's entry, when I said we might have seen the last of the Ash Street Project. A crew was back Monday, painting the other half of Ash Street's new crosswalk and lane markings. Maybe this is the last of the project. Then again, maybe not.

More traffic cones, more paint, and we're done. Maybe. June 22, 2009.

A week ago yesterday, this part of Minnesota still had "Abnormally Dry" conditions.

From the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, U.S. Drought Monitor.

If they update the drought information weekly, we may see how much good the rains have done tomorrow.

I don't mind 'thunderstorms,' as long as they behave themselves. June 23, 2009.

Looks like folks east of us were getting rain yesterday afternoon.
June 23, 2009.

We got enough rain today to wet the streets, but I don't know how much. Checking around, I found out that Minnesota's high temperature was 87°F, in Cambridge, Roseau, Silver Bay and Windom. The lowest temperature was 33°F, in Princeton.

As I've said before: weather in Minnesota isn't boring.

There's a new business downtown. "Rite Now" is a tanning and hair salon. That's a catchy name, and probably a better choice than something like "Sizzle and Scissors" or "Hot Hairstyling."

New tan-and-hair service, next door to Hidden Treasure. June 23, 2009.

Sunset. June 24, 2009.

As a sort of bonus, the lines of rumbling weather rolling overhead this week have given us some nice sunsets, as well as needed rain.

Sunday, June 21, 2009. Father's Day. It's been raining for most of today, which made grilling at noon and for supper a somewhat damp experience. The LP gas grill wasn't affected, though, so the food came out fine. If I do say so myself. And, I've heard that we can still use the rain.

The big deal in Sauk Centre this week, I think, was the severe storms that didn't hit town. Which is more than I can say for parts of southern Minnesota. We were in a tornado watch area Thursday, so it wasn't a total wash, as far as excitement goes. I shouldn't joke about it, maybe: Austin will be doing quite a lot of rebuilding. (More at "Thursday: Thunderstorms, Hail, and a Tornado Watch," in one of my blogs.)

Lovely, isn't it? Clouds after one of the afternoon's rain sessions. That's looking west, more or less, near the County 186 bridge. June 18, 2009.

A storm put on quite a show, after passing over Sauk Centre. I took this photo, and the others, around 9:30, looking southeast: more or less.
June 18, 2009.

Another one. Or maybe two. June 18, 2009.

This gives a pretty good idea of what the sky looked like just before 9:30 Thursday evening. June 18, 2009.

That was a bright one. I took these photos over a stretch of about two and a half minutes. At that, I missed many (most) of the lightning bolts. June 18, 2009.

What may be the last chapter in the Ash Street Project got finished this week, on Wednesday and Friday.

There's a sort of choreography involved, loading the paving machine: often while it's moving. June 16, 2009.

Look carefully, and you'll see two more road machines behind the one near the guy with the sort-of-a-rake. June 16, 2009.

After the paving's down, it has to be pressed into place. Over and over again. That driver backing up, and making sure he's correctly positioned. June 16, 2009.

I was reminded of something I'd forgotten, getting those three photos: asphalt, when it's freshly laid, sizzles.

A crew had been setting out traffic cones. Friday, it was time to paint the street. June 19, 2009.

It doesn't take long to get each set of crosswalk markings painted. June 19, 2009.

Between that wooden guide and spray paint, it's a fast job. But it gets done, over and over, at each crosswalk. June 19, 2009.

It's been fun, in a way, watching the Ash Street Project unfold.

Thursday, June 18, 2009. Sauk Centre had some fairly heavy rain and thunder late this afternoon. Nothing serious, although there have been weather advisories.

Normally, I'd have more to say than that: but at about 4:10 Tuesday afternoon the equipment I use to get online stopped working. Since I need that to update the Sauk Centre Journal, as well as my blogs, getting back online took quite a lot of my attention.

I plan - and expect - to be back Sunday. In the meantime, thank you for your patience. I wrote about my experience in Through One Dad's Eye.

Sunday, June 14, 2009. Flag Day. Flags have been up, downtown, for a day or so: and some households put up their own displays. 

Flag Day on Sinclair Lewis Avenue. June 14, 2009.

Red siding, white trim: all the house needs now is a blue roof. June 14, 2009.

Something's in process on Ash Street. A crew was chewing up bits of the street on Thursday.

Last year they poured new paving. Now, they're chewing it up. June 11, 2009.

By Friday, there were clusters of orange traffic cones up and down South Ash. Today, there's a rather artistic variety of colors sprayed on the utility covers.

Those traffic cones don't make much of an obstacle course, but I suppose that's not the idea June 12, 2009.

Bridge work on the Country Road 186 overpass is moving along. There's a new deck on it - or the start of one, anyway.

The steel bird's nest is gone from Sauk Centre's County Road 186 overpass. June 11, 2009.

Looks like AmericInn, by the Interstate, is getting an addition. I'll take that as good news: they must be getting enough people staying there to justify the extra rooms.

AmericInn, Sauk Centre: Looks like they're adding maybe two dozen rooms. June 11, 2009.

Finally, the two Catholic Churches in town has a procession around noon today.

It's not just Flag Day. It's Corpus Christi Sunday. A procession started from Our Lady of the Angels church around noon today. June 14, 2009.

The folks walked up to St. Paul's, and back. I'll be writing about that later, in one of my blogs. Right now, it's getting late. Barring unforeseen circumstances, I'll be back Wednesday: whether I've got anything substantial to say or not.

Thursday, June 11, 2009. I've been driving out of town more than I usually do lately, and noticed a new sign on the tank farm on the west side. The sign itself isn't new. It's been there for years. But the name on it keeps changing. Here's what it looked like a little over two years ago, with the caption I wrote then.

Today, it's a Valero facility
This sign changes quite often. I wonder: at what point would it be cost-effective to install an electronic sign to handle changing company names? April 12, 2007.

Then, it was a Valero terminal. Now, it's a NuStar terminal. I wasn't keeping track, so there might have been another name or three in use in late 2007, 2008, and the first part of this year. .

Okay: So one of those electronic signs might be too expensive. How about something like the directories in office buildings? You know: the kind with push-in letters, so it's easy to change as tenants come and go? June 10, 2009.

Back in town, folks have been out on the Sauk Centre Golf Club. All things considered, I think if I played golf, I'd rather pick an overcast, non-too-warm day.

Sauk Centre Golf Club, and young golfers. June 9, 2009.

Trees gone from the west side of the golf course. Happily, there are others. June 9, 2009.

South of the golf course, and on the other side of the street, is Shady Lane. I think it's one of the more charming spots in Sauk Centre. From the looks of it, the place used to be a resort. A rather nice one, too. The 'cabins' are smallish houses - the one I looked into has two bedrooms, and a walk-in basement under it. That place was being fixed up. It looks like the others have been worked on, too.

Shady Lane, Sauk Centre: In this case, the name fits the nature of the neighborhood. June 9, 2009.

And, they're for sale. Which is what brought me down there. My oldest daughter was very interested in one of the units. One of the nice things about looking at houses is that you don't necessarily have to buy them. Which nobody in this family is prepared to do at this point.

Tranquil, picturesque: and for sale. June 9, 2009.

Finally, on the way back from looking at Shady Lane, I spotted a sign on the back of a (microvan?), and had #1 daughter take a photo of it.

"Purseanality" - I like that. Catchy name, easy to remember, and seems to fit the business. June 9, 2009.

Finally, thanks for your patience this week. I plan to be back on schedule Sunday. See you then.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009. Good grief! It's Wednesday night, and I still don't have today's post done. My father's health is failing, and I'm getting around to some routine paperwork. At least, I thought it would be routine. Turns out, there's more to be done than I thought: more about that in "Transitions - Paperwork," in Through One Dad's Eye.

Right now, I expect to be working on today's entry tomorrow morning. We'll see how accurate I am about that prediction.

Sunday, June 7, 2009. It's summer: I checked the calendar to be sure. Doesn't feel like it, though. It's around 50 now, around 8:10 Sunday evening. The day's been overcast, windy and chill.

Other than that, though, the weather's been fine.

I was a bit surprised to see a hummingbird at the feeder today. I suppose they need to fuel up, even - or especially - when it's cool. Actually, I didn't see the hummingbird. I saw a streak that my oldest daughter said was a hummingbird.

Summer: the season when garage sales are in bloom. June 5. 2009.

That construction project on Main Street seems to be on hold. Or, I could be missing some subtle progress. June 5. 2009.

Downtown had a bit of extra color this week: not-quite-black flags alternating with rather bright blue ones. June 5. 2009.

Don't be concerned: Sauk Lake is level. It's the light pole that's tilted. June 5. 2009.

Sauk Lake, and a duck: right above the © symbol. June 5. 2009.

The campground by Sauk Lake is starting to fill up. June 5. 2009.

And, Father Statz, at Our Lady of the Angels Church, celebrated his 25th anniversary as a priest today. I'll have a bit more about that in one of my blogs.

The plans for Father Statz's 25th anniversary celebration called for outdoor activities, Weather permitting. I gather that it didn't. June 7. 2009.

That's it for now. Good night, all.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009. 111 high school seniors graduated Friday. The Sauk Centre Herald covered their transition from high school to the rest of their lives. I was more focused on the elementary school graduation that happened this evening.

Graduation ceremonies for sixth graders is a new wrinkle - for me, at an rate. Back in my day, we didn't even have wood-burning computers, and the only graduation a student would get in K-12 was the one at the end of the senior year.

Times change.

I should warn you, before you read any farther down this page: I took a few photos.

The graduation ceremony included a couple of slide shows - run from a computer, of course. But enough words: Here are those photos.

Folks getting seated, and a laptop's screen previewing what's to come. June 3. 2009.

The first students of the first of three classes started filing in. June 3. 2009.

It took a while, but they finally had everybody in, and seated. June 3. 2009.

It isn't a graduation if you don't have someone singing: in this case, the elementary choir - with soloists. I think they did a good job. June 3. 2009.

The best seats in the house aren't necessarily seats. June 3. 2009.

Part of the program was a reading of "Is There Really a Human Race?" I think the answer was 'yes.' June 3. 2009.

That "Is There Really a Human Race?" reading was actually pretty good. I think my favorite set of questions from it was "Am I a jockey,/ or am I a horse?"

A number of students got special recognition for good grades. June 3. 2009.

We saw a slide show, with captioned pairs photos of the students as very young kids, and ones taken recently. June 3. 2009.

Finally, songs sung, awards distributed, photos shown, and book read, it was time to hand out the diplomas. Also inflatable balls. June 3. 2009.

There's one of those inflatable balls, a bit above the center of the photo, being chased by the graduates. June 3. 2009.

The multipurpose gym (or whatever it's called) was just about the right size for the reception. family groups stayed near the auditorium side of the gym, leaving room for energized youngsters to run off some steam. June 3. 2009.

And, of course, photos had to be taken. June 3. 2009.

Hummingbirds are still here: I saw two at once at the feeder the other day. And Sauk Centre's still progressing. But that will have to wait until Sunday.

Monday, June 1, 2009. Getting up close and personal with leftovers from the Kandi Klassic Morgan Horse Show on Tuesday of last week caught up with me. Muscles in my lower left back revolted Friday evening.

It wasn't an altogether unpleasant experience. The time I spent bent over at the waist gave me ample opportunity to appreciate the floor in that part of the house. It's altogether too easy to breeze through life, not noticing what's right under our feet.

That's not why I'm a day late with this Sauk Centre Journal entry: but it didn't help.

We're in Minnesota's unofficial summer now: the time between Memorial Day and Labor Day. The last part of May and first part of June is one of my favorite times of year: The temperatures are comfortable, and the mosquitoes aren't out in full force yet.

Hummingbirds are back. I saw one a little after noon today at the feeder. (Which reminds me: I'm still looking for something that'll get my webcam running again.) It's fun, seeing those glittering green birds.

Cherries in the making. May 31. 2009.

Lilacs are very much in bloom. They're a durable sort of ornamental (shrub, I think) - with an industrial-strength aroma, I'm told.

We shoveled a whole lot of straw and, ah, organic fertilizer yesterday evening. Good exercise. May 31. 2009.

Grass and weeds are engaged in a territorial dispute in this household's front yard. The area dug up during the Ash Street Project could go either way: several patches of conventional grass have grown in the tannish stuff sprayed on last year; but there are large as-yet-unclaimed areas.

I think some households have spread their own seed - or possibly bought and set out sod. Our budget being what it is, we're sticking with weed-whacking. With time, and determination, I think we'll win.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009. This household's cherry tree blossoms are gone, as the tree settles down to the business of growing cherries. Lilacs around town are blooming: the ones I noticed are pretty close to 'peak' now.

And, somewhat more practically, there's been enough rain to keep fields green.

The Kandi Klassic Morgan Horse Show was at the Fairgrounds on the 23re and 24th. One of these years, I'll see the horses. I was with the Sauk Centre Soo Bahk Do class, yesterday evening, when we shoveled out the stalls after the show was over.

We shoveled a whole lot of straw and, ah, organic fertilizer yesterday evening. Good exercise. May 26. 2009.

I was able to stay a bit more tidy tonight. I drove my wife and #3 daughter to Camphill Village, north of town, for a recital. About a dozen people showed the skills they'd learned, playing violin or piano. That was a nice change of pace.

Music at Camphill village: This was a lot more fun. May 27. 2009.

The sun had set by the time we headed back to Sauk Centre.

Twilight: south of Camphill Village, east of Cedar Lake. May 27. 2009.

I appreciate the 60 mile an hour speed limit on Highway 71, north of town. It's a sensible speed for that stretch of road, I think. And, now that it's the legal speed there, I don't get passed by so many other vehicles.

Monday, May 25, 2009. Most of the family was over at my in-law's today, getting together with assorted cousins and other relations. I spent most of the day trying, unsuccessfully, to coax my webcam into working again. On the positive side, I now know several things that won't work.

About flags and bunting: There's more to Memorial Day than America's unofficial kickoff for the summer vacation season. I wrote about this a few years ago, and earlier today, for one of my blogs.

It's a colorful day, literally. There are the flags downtown and along Main, and Our Lady of the Angels church had bunting over the seven arches. My guess is that other churches did something like this, too, on Sunday: but I only made it to the one.

Memorial Day bunting in Our Lady of the Angels church. May 24. 2009.

I like this season for the nice temperatures, singing birds, and lack of mosquitoes. The flowers brighten things up, too.

Cherry blossoms. Lots of them. Maybe we'll get to the cherries before the birds do, this year. Then again, maybe not. May 20. 2009.

Which brings me up to the present. Looks like we may get rain: I understand the soil could use it.

Sunday, May 24, 2009. It's the middle of Memorial Day weekend: twilight, by now. Neighbors are out on their driveway, sitting around a grill. Flames are visible: the rest are silhouettes. I just got back from Soo Bahk Do class, along with the at-home part of the family.

Flags and bunting are out: but I'll go into that more, tomorrow.

Thursday, May 21, 2009. Thursday has been designated as "Wednesday," this week, in order to provide you with this Sauk Centre Journal entry on schedule. Or, I'm a day late. Take your pick.

The construction project on Main: about a week later, the land's almost level. Still no idea what's going in there. May 18. 2009.

There's construction going on here and there, but no signs up to tell what's being done. I suppose we'll find out soon enough.

Agribusiness - it's more than just farms around here. May 18. 2009.

Minnesota's soggy version of Spring is turning into Summer. Which unofficially begins this weekend: Memorial Day weekend.

Graduation day's coming up - a bit of small town atmosphere, 21st century style. May 18. 2009.

Not many days of school left: and graduation coming up. Lots of transitions.

Those markers are more than just IOUs now. The flowers are coming in. May 18. 2009.

The band concert this Monday was impressive. I lost track of how many combinations of students played which pieces. We heard quite a variety of styles: from Souza-esque band pieces to jazz and show tunes. Nice.

Senior band presented M. Roggenbuck some tokens of appreciation. Naturally, I forgot about my camera until it was practically over. May 18. 2009.

The Senior band gave Mary Roggenbuck flowers, and a battery-powered glow-in-the-dark baton. Pretty cool, actually. 

That's the glow-in-the-dark baton the gave her. Trust me: it's there. Look for a sort of bluish glowing blur, left of her hand. May 18. 2009.

There was some pretty nice artwork on the walls, outside the auditorium. May 18. 2009.

There was artwork up on the wall, outside the auditorium. I know: I only took a picture of one - but I've gone sort of crazy with photos this week, and had to stop somewhere.

You've heard the old gag: 'Minnesota has four seasons: Fall, Winter, Spring, and Roadwork. We're definitely in the Roadwork season now. The County 186 bridge over I-94, southeast of town, looks like some outsized bird made a nest on it.

The Interstate's down to one lane in quite a few spots, too,

Most of the bridge deck's off Sauk Centre's County Road 186 overpass. That wad of steel bars puts me in mind of a bird's nest. A really big bird. May 19. 2009.

As I wrote earlier, there's construction going on around town: but without those 'on this site' signs you see in some places. No problem. I'm a patient man (my wife may have other views): I'll wait.

Something's getting built near the AmericInn. May 19. 2009.

Utility crews are out, too, keeping things running.

Utility crews: without them, we'd be in the dark. May 19. 2009.

I trust that I'll be back Sunday, with another entry. This family's going through several transitions this year. On the happy side, #2 daughter plans to be married this September. On the not-so-happy side, my father's health is quite definitely going down hill. More in Through One Dad's Eye.

Sunday, May 17, 2009. It's one of those 'typical' Minnesota days: bright blue sky, birds singing, and the mosquitoes haven't come yet.

And, school's winding down for the year. There's a band concert tomorrow night, and the elementary choir put on "Pirates" on Thursday. Did a pretty good job, too.

Pirates! The school choir used a minimalist set. May 14. 2009.

The set design was quite minimalist: seven letters and an exclamation mark on those movable walls; and two pieces of cardboard. One said something like "the ship," the other "the brig." The brig was the most elaborate scene in the show: a sort of low railing. 

Pirates! Cast and chorus That's the brig, on your left. May 14. 2009.

I'm looking forward to the band concert.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009. News from this week's Sauk Centre Herald isn't entirely good. Alcohol, a controlled substance, and ammunition showed up in school lockers. I assume that the alcohol wasn't after shave or perfume.

And, I read that federal economic stimulus money for Minnesota is getting used to remove the County 186 bridge deck over I-94. Presumably, another bridge deck will replace the old one.

Out with the old deck. That's a huge jackhammer. May 12. 2009.

For me, the big deal this week is that the rain has washed down the grass and trees, and this year's leaves are coming out.

A good sight: fresh leaves. May 13. 2009.

Another few days, or a week or so, or whatever - I'm no expert - of this, and we'll have something that looks like that "springtime" that I've read about.

Lilac flowers, in proscess. May 13. 2009.

That's it for now: nothing profound, just some photos.

Sunday, May 10, 2009. Mother's Day.

There's been earth-moving getting done on South Main. Two lots don't have houses on them any more, and are on their way toward being level with the street. My guess is that something commercial is going in there.

Change on Main: two houses out, and a whole lot of dirt being moved. May 7. 2009.

A couple of guys were putting in weekend hours at the corner of South Ash and 12th. I've said this before, but: hats off to everyone who keeps the infrastructure going: waste management, water, power, communications, traffic lights, the whole thing.

At least they had nice weather to work in: South Ash and 12th, the 'Wal-Mart' traffic lights. May 9. 2009.

Our Lady of the Angels celebrated Mother's Day on a couple of levels. There were the 'one dollar' carnations - we've got one at home now - that were partly a fund-raiser. And, I suspect, partly a chance for husbands who, unlike me, don't have daughters to remind them when Mother's Day and other important dates are coming up. And, often as not, provide useful advice and insights on what to do about it.

Last-minute carnations in the entry at Our Lady of the Angels church. Helpful for memory-challenged guys, also a fund-raiser. May 10. 2009.

Judging from past experience, most churches in America make a pretty big deal of Mother's Day.

Which comes at the beginning of fishing season around here. I've no idea why that is. One suggestion that makes sense is that this odd scheduling was arranged at the request of mothers: who wanted some time alone.

There's a more specifically Catholic angle to Mother's Day. I'll probably write about that in one of my blogs: A Catholic Citizen in America. Not today, though. Some pictures I took turned out okay, so I'll share those:

In the sanctuary, roses and candles. Also, quite a few people. May 10. 2009.

I'm a creature of habit, and so are a few other people: so I generally see familiar faces each Sunday. May 10. 2009.

In case you're wondering: I took the first photos before things got started this morning. By the time we were through, there was quite a bouquet, and an array of candles lit. May 10. 2009.

Tonight the family and I went to Soo Bahk Do class. I'd been out of practice for several years: and glad to be back at classes.

Which brings me up to 'now,' which is about 9:20 Sunday evening. See you again, Wednesday.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009. The big deal this week, for me, was the D.A.R.E. graduation program at the Elementary school. The program's been around for a long time, but I had to look up what the acronym stands for: Drug Abuse Resistance Education.

Several people involved with D.A.R.E. spoke, including Sergeant Phillip J. Meemken: Cooper's human. Cooper is a bloodhound, Certified in Non-Aggressive Tracking for children, adults and suspects. While Meemken talked, and answered some questions, Cooper

Sergeant Meemken talked with the two D.A.R.E. classes, and answered some questions. May 6. 2009.

While Meemken talked, and answered some questions, Cooper explored the auditorium.

After walking down one row of seats, Cooper explored the auditorium. Here, he's on his way back to the front. May 6. 2009.

The people involved with D.A.R.E. did a fine job with the program: but it's hard, sharing the stage with a dog.

Cooper's walking through the rows, for the second time. May 6. 2009.

Finally, Sergeant Meemken took Cooper back up on the stage, while the program went on.

Cooper and Sergeant Meemken. May 6. 2009.

Looking at it from Cooper's point of view, things must have been pretty dull at that point.

A few minutes later. May 6. 2009.

You know how it goes, when you have to sit through some ceremony that you don't quite understand: it can be downright dull.

Still later. May 6. 2009.

Sure, you want to be polite: so you look try to look interested. But you can keep that up for just so long.

'Wake me when it's over.' May 6. 2009.

After a while, Cooper lost interest.

Sunday, May 3, 2009. A beautiful day today. After church, I grilled burgers for lunch, had a relaxing afternoon, and was outside with my oldest daughter and her rabbit when four units of the Sauk Centre Fire Department drove by. I'll get back to that.

Swine flu is making a difference in town. Since a case was confirmed, down in Cold Spring, the bishop sent word out that Catholics wouldn't be shaking hands or making other physical contact during the sign of peace: which worked out okay. Also, that if you're sick, it's okay: Stay home. That's not the way it was worded, officially, of course. And, St. Michael's Nursing Home is closed to visitors. Seems sensible to me, under the circumstances.

Maybe you remember: two weeks ago, I showed this photo:

Jostled junctions on South 12th. April 13. 2009.

There seems to be a lot of that sort of thing going around. I filled the van's tank at the Holiday station, down on 12th and south Main the other day, and saw this-

Another jostled junction box: this one's at the Holiday station. May 1. 2009.

On a more positive note, between rain and attentive householders, lawns in Sauk Centre are looking lush and green. Well, most of them are. Ours is green in quite a few places. Except for the tannish-brown patches where new seed was planted after the street and utility work was done last year - or the natural dirt-color where it wasn't quite.

That's a set of nice, green, lawns. May 1. 2009.

Some folks even set out flowers. I appreciate the trouble they take, adding color to the streets.

Some of those I.O.U.s - and some flowers for here and now. May 2, 2009.

Now, back to the Sauk Centre Fire Department. The units started coming by in the late afternoon, while I was out talking with my oldest daughter.

I counted four units on the south side of the school theater. A tanker was pulling up as my daughter and I - and her rabbit - walked up.

A tanker - responding inside city limits? There's a lot I don't know about the hows and whys of emergency response. May 3. 2009.

There was quite a crowd around the doors to the theater wing of the school. Since quite a number of the young ladies were wearing shiny, colorful, outfits, I gathered that some sort of dance performance had been going on. Something by Dancing off Broadway is my guess.

Lots of people: None of them seeming particularly concerned. Which was something of a relief. May 3. 2009.

When people weren't admiring my daughter's rabbit, I gathered that something like a fog machine had triggered the fire alarms. Or something had overheated. If I'd been taking a poll, I think the 'fog machine' version would have won.

On the up side, I got an up-close-and-personal look at a sizeable fraction of Sauk Centre's emergency response fleet. May 3. 2009.

Apparently the same thing happened last year. This could become a tradition.

And still more people, standing by the school. May 3. 2009.

My daughter and I headed for home a little before 5:00 - that's mealtime at this household - so I didn't see what happened after that. I suppose that the fire department folks took their equipment back after checking out the inside of the school - who knows? Maybe there was still time to wrap up the dance thing.

I'm looking forward to reading about it in the Sauk Centre Herald.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009. Monday and today were damp, dripping, dreary days: I may be coming down with something, which might have affected the way I saw them. As a sort on anodyne for my mood, I went back a couple weeks, and picked a photo I took in bright, shiny weather.

All we need now is birds - and weather that won't send them back south. April 17. 2009.

Those Elgin streetsweepers have been doing the rounds. Oh, right: I've already mentioned that. One was parked at the corner of Ash and South 9th this week, backed up to another vehicle. I don't know what the two drivers were doing, but it involved something underground. My guess is that they were doing something to clear the storm drains. But I could be wrong: wouldn't be the first time.

It takes a lot of effort to keep a town running: Thanks! April 28. 2009.

Let's see: Dreariness; Cheerful bird service station; Mysterious underground operations. Yep, I covered everything I had for today.

See  you Sunday, I trust.

Sunday, April 26, 2009. It's been your typical springtime week here in Sauk Centre: mid-eighties on Thursday with rain and snow forecast for Saturday. It got about sixty on Friday, with a little drizzle: and that seemed to be what was left from Saturday's promised rain/snow mix. Saturday: beautiful blue sky, a few clouds, and mid-fifties in the afternoon.

We don't have to travel: different climates come to us.

I haven't been up on the north side very much: there's a new-to-me woodcarving enterprise up there, where Highway 71 jogs east a bit. 

"Woody's" work, on display. I think that's a moose, on the right-hand pole. April 15. 2009.

Today's rain gave us a pretty good soak and rinse, which should settle the dust. Sweepers have been making the rounds, taking care of dust and debris left over from winter.  

That's too small to be a streetsweeper: and it's not on a street. Trailsweeper, maybe? That's Lake Wobegon Trail and Ash. April 23. 2009.

Now that's a streetsweeper. These units kick up a bit of dust as they roar along, but the collect sand, dirt, and debris, too. April 23. 2009.

I checked the U. S. Drought Monitor, and as of April 21, all but a little of southeast Minnesota is okay. Can't say the same for upper Wisconsin, though, more's the pity.

Seeds planted. Those markers put me in mind of IOUs, promising flowers later on. April 24. 2009.

It's "Tootsie Roll Sunday" weekend: Knights of Columbus are raising money for outfits like Camphill Village and Western Stearns County ARC.

Knights of Columbus' "Tootsie Roll Drive" at Coborn's. April 25. 2009.

I've gotten back into the routine of grilling burgers on weekends: This was the first winter since I started grilling, that I didn't.

This household got a folder in the mail, about passports. Starting in January, last year, we've needed passports to go into Canada. I understand why that's necessary. Still, I miss the more open border.

Some people have dreams of someday traveling to places like Katmandu or hanging out on Champs-Élysées. Mine is to see Winnipeg again, and see the Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature with my family. At around $100 a head, that's not going to happen in the foreseeable future. Well, central Minnesota's nice, too.

And that's about all I've got for now. See you Wednesday.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009. Earth Day. The patch of Earth I call home is doing what central Minnesota usually does this year: offering a sampler plate of seasons. Monday felt a bit like Fall, complete with a little drizzle. Today it's a little warmer, and tomorrow's forecast has it around 50 in the morning, then around 80 in the afternoon.

I've wondered if the old 'layered look' in fashion started in Minnesota.

Down by Sauk Lake, a few trailers are up already in the lakeside park. Or maybe they're still up from last year. I didn't keep an eye on the place over winter.

It's still pretty quiet down by Sauk Lake. Grass is turning green, though. April 20. 2009.

The docks at the campground, and the public landing, haven't been rolled out yet. April 20. 2009.

Let's see, what to call the weather Monday - Brisk? Refreshing? Bracing? April 20. 2009.

That's all for today. I expect to be back with another entry Sunday.

Sunday, April 19, 2009. Divine Mercy Sunday.

It's feeling like summer, although the new season's grass hasn't poked above last year's blades. For the m

Remember this photo?

Springtime in Minnesota usually looks something like this. April 6. 2009.

Here's the same pile, a week later.

It's been up to about 70, but that's a lot of snow. April 13. 2009.

I don't know what happened to the communications boxes on 12th, on the south side of the fairgrounds.

Jostled junctions on South 12th. April 13. 2009.

The Interpretive Center park, down by the Interstate, still has that pale tan from last year's grass. The sort of grass we use for lawns is fine: but it takes its sweet time, making an appearance each spring. 

Little Red Schoolhouse at the Interpretive Center park. April 15. 2009.

Wild grasses, though: they're self-starting, motivated, go-getters.

A blade of (wild) grass making an appearance on south Ash Street. April 17. 2009.

I may be missing something, though. Neighbors across the street have a yard that's more of a lawn than mine - and their place is starting to look green. And it's not just the plastic flowers, either.

April showers and all that. Reminds me of the Morton's Salt logo: but of course, it's not a good idea to put salt on a lawn. April 17. 2009.

It's been a big weekend at this household: we had some of the extended family over for an Easter get-together. Had a good time, but between that and Soo Bahk Do practice tonight, I'm a bit pooped.

Goodnight, and see you Wednesday.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009. Tax day. Nuff said about that.

It feels like summer, but the grass and trees haven't caught up yet. Actually, there are green blades pushing through last year's tan crop: but it'll be a while before they're easy to see.

Aside from that, I've mostly noticed birds. I saw two robins on Monday and a grackle on Tuesday. Today, I heard a mourning dove.

Life has been progressing in Sauk Centre: but I've been a little preoccupied. My computer developed a serious problem with malware last week, and I didn't get the problem fixed until late yesterday.

The big development is the Sauk Centre Herald's new Herald Eedition: "an exact replica of our print edition for those who would rather read their news on-line. Just click here and register to read the Herald on-line."

Sounds like a really good idea. There's more at the Sauk Centre Herald was the first Internet service provider in Sauk Centre, back when dial-up was relatively high tech, and hosted my first website. It's good to see they're still moving along.

Sunday, April 12, 2009. Easter Sunday! Lent's over, This family's spent quite a bit of time at Our Lady of the Angels church, and next weekend we have quite a few folks coming over for the yearly Easter get-together. This time, at our place.

Good Friday Mass, Our Lady of the Angels. April 10. 2009.

I'm going to repeat a photo, before moving on. Remember this, from last Sunday's entry?

That's more like it! No snow on the street, just a little on the yards, and lots of brown grass: Springtime in Minnesota. April 5. 2009.

That was taken April 5. Three days later, almost all the snow's goine, and street sweepers have been roaring up and down Ash and Ninth.

There goes a street sweeper: behind the stop sign. April 8. 2009.

The huge pile of snow on the Wal-Mart parking lot are shrinking, too. This one's a shadow (puddle?) of its former self now.

Springtime in Minnesota usually looks something like this. April 6. 2009.

There don't seem to be as many yards decorated for Easter this year. I remember one household that often had pastel eggs hung on a tree, and other places with colorful stuff on display

I could try kidding myself into thinking this is a whacking great Easter Egg: but even my imagination isn't quite that flexible. April 10. 2009.

There were some Easter decorations up, though.

Now that's nice!. April 10. 2009.

Some yards are just plain decorated.

This is one of my favorite places to drive by in town. April 10. 2009.

One of my favorites this year was a shy Easter Bunny.

Awww-a shy Easter Bunny. April 10. 2009.

And, one house in the neighborhood had something a bit quirky out.

So that's where the Easter Bunny get the eggs! April 10. 2009.

I saw a junco (I think that's what they're called) in the back yard this week. Juncos don't have the most ostentatious coat around: but I like the look of them.

A junco: those birds blend in very well. April 8. 2009.

Meanwhile, downtown, Main Street Press is Main Street Printing - I understand it's gone by both names over the years. They've got a new sign in the window - rather classy. I noticed the sign when I dropped off the Knights of Columbus bulletin for printing.

Rather classy sign, I think. April 6. 2009.

Let's see: melting snow, Easter, yard decorations, a bird, and a print shop's sign. Yep, I've done for the day.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009. It's Holy Thursday tomorrow: start of the Easter weekend.

And, it's Spring: I even heard a bird sing, just before dawn, the other day. I'd been up, doing some tax-related paperwork. I don't know my birdsongs, so I've no idea what species it was.

More bird-stuff: I've seen some juncos, or maybe the same one at different times and places, this week.

And, here at home, my computer decided to give me fits. I'm in the process of tidying up the situation now: which is part of the reason that this post is so short.

But, I'll be back: with photos, reports on what I've seen, and anything else I can think of, about life here in Sauk Centre.

At least, that's what I plan to do.

Sunday, April 5, 2009. Palm Sunday. The start of Holy Week.

And, for now, it's a bit spring-like outside. By Minnesota standards, anyway. The temperature's still sliding back and forth, across the freezing point, each day. So, it's just as well that I haven't seen any leaf buds yet.

That's more like it! No snow on the street, just a little on the yards, and lots of brown grass: Springtime in Minnesota. April 5. 2009.

I'll take this weather while it lasts. Next week, it'll be different. We live in Minnesota, after all.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009. April Fools' Day. Spring. First day of April. There was a few inches of new snow on the ground this morning, and plows had to clear the streets. Again.

It's definitely Springtime in Minnesota. I'm not complaining about the snow: It'll be gone soon, and Sauk Centre's flooding is comparatively minor: The Sauk Centre Herald told about the sunken picnic tables of Conservation Park, flooding by the public works buildings, east of there, and - what I'd missed - flooding on Hoboken Creek on Monday.

As the Herald said, "there hasn't been anything serious yet." Actually, that's part of a quote of city administrator Vicki Willer in this week's Herald.

Moving along. Jimmy's Pizza, on west Sinclair Lewis Avenue, has a new owner: and the sign outside says that something's free. I didn't catch what.

Jimmy's Pizza: new owner, and a free something. March 26. 2009.

Springtime! That wonderful season, when Mother Nature awakes from winter's slumber, to cover the earth with green grass, blooming flowers, and gentle breezes.

Then, there's Springtime in Minnesota.

Ah, to be in Minnesota, in the Spring! March 26, 2009.

Take a look at the photos of March 29, 2009. Seems we're going in the wrong direction here. Or maybe summer and Fall were cancelled. April 1, 2009.

I was in Wal-Mart the other day, and noticed some seasonal items on sale: stuff left over from St. Patrick's Day. Take a look at those green-and-white things. Maybe you've seen things like this before, but I hadn't.

As Yakov Smirnoff says, "What a country!" March 26, 2009.

Shamrock Piñatas. Shamrock. Piñatas. I love this country! March 26, 2009.

Finally, up in the Red River Valley, the water is going down in the Fargo-Moorhead area. I posted some of today's news - and my views - on one of my blogs. Good news: the water's going down in the Fargo-Moorhead area. Not-so-good news: The crest is heading north.

Sunday, March 29, 2009. My big-deal good news has nothing to do with Sauk Centre: The Red River at Fargo is, apparently, going down. A little. After a flood that out-did the big one in 1897. I've been distracted by what's been going on in the Red River Valley, partly because it's the biggest flood Fargo's ever seen; partly because Fargo-Moorhead is my home town.

I've been keeping track of news from the Valley: "Red River Valley of the North Flood, 2009: March 29: News Added As I find It" is today's entry, with links to earlier ones at the bottom of the post.

Meanwhile, back in Sauk Centre, Winter has been melting. We call it Spring.

Last Monday, I saw that the neighbor's front yard had a drift that ended in a very straight line. It wasn't fancy shoveling that did it.

Snow doesn't melt as fast, when it's in shadow most of the day. Obviously. With buildings like my neighbor's house, that have low-pitched roofs, there's often a sharp line on the north side, with snow on the shadow side, and grass north of that. lining up the edge of the snow. Draw a line from the edge of the snow to the edge of the roof and you've got the angle that the sun gets to at noon.

Here's an illustration for that little science lesson. March 23. 2009.

Okay: I'll admit it. Springtime in Minnesota isn't always when Winter melts. Sometimes it's when Winter comes back. like these two photos, taken a day apaprt.

A lovely Spring day in Minnesota: rain with occasional drizzle and gloom. March 24, 2009.

Same place, a day later. Except now it's snowing off and on. And, someone's put out containers for garbage collection. March 25, 2009.

North side, near the river, east of Conservation Park. Not exactly what people generally associate with "springtime." March 25, 2009.

I know: I promised ducks. They're there - more or less under the pines. You probably won't see them: but they're there. March 25, 2009.

I said that I'd have photos of ducks, and I do. Just not as interesting as I thought they'd be.

Okay: That's more like it. This is the Conservation Park, below the dam, and that's a duck on the shore. Actually, several ducks: but in this light, they sort of blend in. March 25, 2009.

We've got a flood of shorts here in Sauk Centre: but nowhere near the scale of what parts of the Red River Valley have. I don't envy them, though. It's a whole lot easier to let picnic tables dry out, than it is to try wringing out a house.

It's actually rather restful down there, with the sound of rushing of water in the air. Bitterly cold, that day, though. Felt that way to me, anyway. March 25, 2009.

That's about it for now. I should be back on a more normal schedule next week. Thanks for your patience.

Friday, March 27, 2009. More of the same. The 2009 Red River Valley of the North flood is the worst in recorded history.

Still, those are pretty cool photos of ducks that I took. Maybe tomorrow.

Thursday, March 26, 2009. Change in plans. Fargo-Moorhead may be evacuated. Fargo neighborhood evacuated. Concordia College evacuated.

I'm adding news in near-real-time on my Apathetic Lemming of the North Blog.

Bad news for Fargo-Moorhead and people in the Valley.

Also, I haven't had time for those pictures of ducks. I'll be back, with those, maybe late tonight.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009. I was out this afternoon, taking pictures of ducks at the park under the dam, and stopping in at the Adoration Chapel. My idea after that was to put gas in the van, pick up a few items at the grocery, go home and start working on this entry, and a few other tasks.

Here's what actually happened.

Getting back to the van with the groceries, I reached for the key. It wasn't where I'd put it, in my coat pocket.

No problem. I'd probably left it in the ignition. Not smart, but no crisis.

It wasn't in the ignition.

No problem. I'd probably dropped it, there in the van.

It wasn't on the floor of the van, anywhere near the driver's seat.

This could be a problem. But, I'd probably dropped them by the checkout.

It wasn't there.

Oh-kay. I retraced my steps, from the van to Coborn's entrance, and up and down the aisles I'd been in.

It wasn't there.

The key did show up, finally: after a long process I describe in "Wednesday: So THAT'S Where the Keys Were!" (Through One Dad's Eye)

That quick side-trip took up most of the afternoon, and put me seriously behind where I'd planned to be. I'm caught up, but it's Thursday by now: and I need my sleep.

Short report: In case you hadn't noticed, it rained and drizzled Monday and Tuesday. Today, we had snow showers. It's cold and damp outside, and the Sauk River covers part of the Conservation Park, below the dam.

I've got some photos to share, but that'll have to wait until tomorrow.

Sunday, March 22, 2009. There's less snow, and more water standing in our yard. It's that way all over town.

There's a story in this week's Sauk Centre Herald about putting cable median barriers on I-94 near here. H & R Construction put in the winning bid, for $1,449,837.82.

I sure don't mind: that's going to be jobs around here, while the project lasts. And those barriers might save a life or two.

As for the what's left of the winter snow? It won't be around much longer. There's a whacking great band of rain and lightning crossing the Dakotas-Minnesota right now (about 8:10 p.m.), headed this way.

Just what we need: more water. I wrote about that in one of my blogs: "Red River Valley of the North Flood, 2009: March 22."

Wednesday, March 18, 2009. Yesterday was St. Patrick's Day, I've got less than a month to get tax forms ready, and winter's melting.

That's a lot of snow, near the school. And, this was after some fairly warm days. March 16, 2009.

One of those temporary signs with flashing lights was up on 9th street, hear the school, letting drivers know about the perennial pond there. It was gone the next day: sign, pond, and all.

Not every small town has street fountains. Or wants them. This pair was gone the next day. March 16, 2009.

We've had warm weather, so snow has been turning to water and finding its way through the storm sewers. There was a charming little twin fountain on Main Street (The Original Main Street, I should probably say - that's what's on the signs), Monday. My guess is that water was coming up through holes in a manhole cover. The fountains, and the pond, were gone the next day.

Sunday, March 15, 2009. It's spring, sort of. Snow has been melting, making pools in yards and streets. I'm told that there's a temporary warning light up by a particularly extensive puddle near the school tonight.

I was inspired to shovel out the working grill, and grill burgers this noon. That's the first time I've been out grilling this winter. It hasn't been my best winter - but it could have been worse.

Springtime in Minnesota. March 15, 2009.

I see in the Sauk Centre Herald that three long-time Sauk Centre Fire Department men are retiring: Al Meyer, Tim Proell and Pat Robischon. Tim Proell and Pat Robischon were with the fire department on January 7, 1985, when firefighters David Kane and Douglas Zabel were killed in the Noah's Ark fire. Robischol chose January 7, this year, to retire as a way to honor Kane and Zabel.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009. I was glad to stay inside yesterday. I read that six inches of snow came down, two miles north of Sauk Centre. WDAY, up in Fargo, said that ten foot drifts were being cleared from I-94 west of Fargo. I grew up in the Red River Valley, and miss that sort of weather, down here in the south.

Even in Coborns, there's a goodly bit of green. March 9, 2009.

You can just barely make out the head and shoulders of some intrepid soul, blowing snow out as more comes down. March 10, 2009.

Days like this, with snow blowing off rooftops, I'm content to stay inside. March 10, 2009.

In a week, it'll be St. Patrick's Day, and store displays will change from mostly green to mixed pastels. I'm looking forward to spring.

Sunday, March 9, 2009. Spring is coming, and so is a winter storm: Tuesday, I read. A few puddles formed this afternoon, and probably re-froze by now.

A few cases of flu showed up around here, so I understand that St. Michael's nursing home has limited visitors to family only, until further notice. I don't think I've got the flu, but I haven't been at the top of my form since Wednesday. And, judging from the typos I found in Wednesday's entry, that day wasn't so hot, either.

I did, however, get a picture of Friday's sunset.

Aside from dealing with traffic issues, the Ash Street Project gave this household a much clearer view of sunsets. March 6, 2009.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009. What can I say? I like Family Fun Day, and have some more photos to show.

The biggest big deal in town this weekend was, as far as I'm concerned, Family Fun Day at the school. My son and I went, and were among the last to leave.

Bouncing around and throwing balls: I don't know if this 'dome' was empty for more than a few minutes during the afternoon. February 28, 2009.

Books were the prizes at one game. Somehow, I never thought of George Orwell's Animal Farm as a children's book. It's good reading, though. February 28, 2009.

Toward the end of the day, this was a busy place. It's where the yellow 'prize' tickets could be traded in for stuff. February 28, 2009.

St. Patrick's Day is coming up in less than two weeks, and some folks in town have yard decorations out. I enjoy the splashes of color - but it still seems a little odd, seeing a leprechaun wearing entirely too little clothing for the weather, frolicking around on the snow.

Support your friendly neighborhood leprechaun. March 2, 2009.

A foot of snow on the ground, and the leprechaun's dancing. Ah, those Irish! March 2, 2009.

That's about it for now, until Sunday, when there'll be more.

Sunday, March 1, 2009. The biggest big deal in town this weekend was, as far as I'm concerned, Family Fun Day at the school. My son and I went, and were among the last to leave.

Two inflatable attractions: one for bouncing and throwing balls, the other a sort of obstacle course. February 28, 2009.

Low-flying kids: part of the charm of Family Fun Day. February 28, 2009.

Lines weren't always this long, but there were generally people waiting to get on - or in - the inflatable things. February 28, 2009.

Basketball: There's always room for basketball. February 28, 2009.

I mentioned low-flying kids, right? February 28, 2009.

No clowns were harmed in the making of this game. February 28, 2009.

Face-painting attraction, in the hallway. February 28, 2009.

That pink blur is another energized child, passing through the silent auction. February 28, 2009.

The other big deal was a winter storm that freshened up our snow cover - to the tune of a half-foot or so.

More than a half-foot more snow. Lovely: as long as shoveling it is someone else's job. February 27, 2009.

One of my neighbors was getting St. Patrick's Day decorations out yesterday. More about that on Wednesday, maybe.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009. First, the good news: Dave Simpkins, the Sauk Centre Herald's owner/publisher, plans to be back on his bicycle in about three months.

The bad news is, that he'll have to work at being able to.

He's in a wheelchair right now, recovering from a run-in with a car on Main Street. He wound up with a broken arm (two places), a fractured ankle (that's probably what's got him in a wheelchair), and assorted other injuries.

Under the circumstances, it could have been worse. Which is about what he said.

The Sauk Centre Herald ("Simpkins recovering after being struck by car" (February 24, 2009)) has a pretty good write-up on the accident. (I'd link to it directly, but the last I heard, the Herald's archiving system makes linking to the home page a better idea.)

Just a little harangue: Mr. Simpkins was crossing the street on Main, at South 6th. This is a good reminder that pedestrians in crosswalks have right of way in this town. Stopping for them is a really good idea.

After reading about that accident, this summer when I (God willing) start walking around more, I'll probably be a bit more wary when crossing streets.

Another item from this week's paper: Sauk Centre is going to keep Bonestroo as its engineer. Not everybody's happy with the situation, apparently, but I'm with the city hall folks on this one: I was impressed with the way Bonestroo handled the Ash Street Project.

It's Ash Wednesday, so I've got an ashen cross on my forehead, like quite a lot of folks around town. My son and I went to St. Alexius in West Union - a scheduling thing - for Ash Wednesday Mass.

That may be the last out-of-town traveling we do for a little while. I see there's a winter storm coming.

Ash Wednesday, 2009. 40 days to Easter. February 25, 2009.

That's all for now. I'll be back Sunday, when there'll be more. 

Sunday, February 22, 2009. The new Ace Hardware, west of Coborn's and Coborn's Video, isn't taking any chances on folks not knowing they're open. They've got a banner up, with red letters about two feet high, letting anyone driving by know.

Let there be no mistake: Ace Hardware is open! February 18, 2009.

Coborn's new pharmacy drive-through is getting banner treatment, too. No sense taking chances, I suppose.

One of these days, I'll probably try the drive-through. February 18, 2009.

South of the Interstate, it looks like there's a new oversize sign going up. Judging from where it is, I suppose it'll advertise Felling Trailers.

That line of tall polls heralds a sign. February 18, 2009.

I don't know when Felling Trailers started putting units on the west side of Highway 71, but noticed them last week. With the economy as, ah, exciting as it is: it's nice to see a business that seems to need more room.

Coming in from the south, it's trailers to the left, trailers to the right. February 18, 2009.

St. Paul's Church is getting a new paint job inside. They've been doing a lot of work on that church lately. Like every other change, there's going to be a wide range of opinion, but I rather like the trim that's going up around St. Paul's arches.

That's not a job for someone who experiences vertigo. St. Paul's church is getting a thorough painting inside. February 19, 2009.

Our Lady of the Angels Church had a five-day retreat - Masses at 7:00 Sunday through Thursday evenings - with Father Pablo Straub. For me, that was a good way to get revved up for Lent. I'll be doing more of a writeup on the retreat, and what Father Straub had to say. If it's not here, I'll put in a link. Fr. Straub kept busy while he was in the area - including celebrating at least one Mass in Spanish, north of here.

Father Pablo Straub: . February 19, 2009.

Palm fronds from last Easter were burned, as usual, to give us ashes for Ash Wednesday, which comes up this week. Good grief, it's almost Lent.

Friday, February 20, 2009. This household's been experiencing some sort of bug. My oldest daughter, who lives in Alex now, has about the same thing, and someone else we know does, too.

I can think of community activities I'd rather be involved with.

Father Pablo Straub was in town for a five-day mission at Our Lady of the Angels church. More about that, and the rest of this week in Sauk Centre, on Sunday.

Sunday, February 15, 2009. Valentine's Day has passed, so the dominant color in stores will change from red to green: St. Patrick's Day is about a month off.

Our Lady of the Angels church has set out the chest where we drop last year's Palm Sunday fronds. They'll be burned later, to make the ash for this year's Ash Wednesday. Lent is coming up, too.

As usual, February isn't the most lively, lots-going-on month in the calendar. It feels that way, anyway.

Lots of new space coming, for the Melrose hospital and clinic. February 12, 2009.

On the other hand, down in Melrose construction is coming along on their big hospital/clinic addition. I noticed that Thursday, when I was down there for a checkup.

Here in Sauk Centre, we've got flags up, downtown, for Presidents' day. Or is it President's Day? Never mind.

A sort of combined-holiday display. I think a green theme is coming next. February 15, 2009.

inally, about that salmonella-in-peanuts problem. The FDA updated its list of recalled products yesterday ("Peanut Butter and other Peanut Containing Products Recall List"). Not all peanut butter is affected, and not all the products are peanut butter. I wrote about it in one of my blogs.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009. What jumped out of this week's Sauk Centre Herald, for me, was that 14 units of maybe-tainted peanuts showed up at the schools last month. And were part of the recall of Peanut Corporation of America's salmonella-laced legumes.

The good news is that the peanuts got spotted. That's still a very near miss, though.

It's been a gray week so far: starting out with freezing rain Monday morning. Sauk Centre schools opened two hours late: Alexandria and Osakis kept their busses and kids off the roads for the day.

I'm still a bit more distracted than usual by my family. #3 daughter went in for a CAT scan at St. Mike's this morning. No big deal, I'm told: just being very careful about knowing exactly where her neck bones are.

Sunday, February 8, 2009. I see that Monday is going to hit with unusual severity tomorrow. Starting about 3 in the morning, and running until noon, we'll be having freezing rain.

Assuming that the Weather Service got its numbers right. Looks like Monday and Tuesday temperatures are going to be swinging up and down, within a few degrees of freezing. Just dandy. I'd much rather have sincere cold, where ice doesn't get resurfaced so often.

I feel a little self-conscious, 'just talking about the weather,' but it's important for anyone who goes outside - and that goes double for people living in an agricultural area like this.

Besides, I haven't been out much this week - and not at all since the last post. I'm in relatively okay shape, but I'm still a bit distracted. (You know the drill by now: I link to Through One Dad's Eye, then move on.)

I read in the  Sauk Centre Herald that the Sauk Centre Lion's Club had an unusually big turnout at their annual pancake breakfast: 1,696. That's a record, I understand. The Lions here have been doing the breakfast for almost a half-century.

I'm with another Sauk Centre organization - the local Knights of Columbus. And, just to get a sort of a plug in for my bunch, we're involved with the Regional Free Throw Championship, next Sunday at the Sauk Centre multi-purpose gym. (I've never felt rivalry with the Lions - and know at least one man who has been involved with both.)

I see on the calendar that there's a Friday the 13th next week.

Wait a minute.

Friday the 13th. It's February. February 14 is Valentine's Day. I haven't gotten anything for my wife.

That's if for now. See you Wednesday.

Thursday, February 5, 2009. My family and I are settling into a temporary routine, while my wife and #3 daughter recover (I ramble on about it on Through One Dad's Eye).

Meanwhile, Main Street Theater is in the news. A 3D movie is showing there, starting tomorrow. It's digital, downloadable, Dolby - and sounds very impressive. Also a tad expensive. The 3D movie requires special glasses - that stay in the theater - and the tickets cost a dollar more than flat movies. Could be worth it, though.

The movie's title is "Coraline." 3D (with another technology) came out in the early fifties. Releases, or maybe escapes, like "House of Wax" and "Bwana Devil" drove a stake through the heart of 3D - or so I've been told. Maybe now, a half-century later, things will be different.

Back to Sauk Centre, with two photos.

Our Lady of Guadalupe - on a tire cover. Me, I like it. I saw this in the Wal-Mart parking lot this week. February 4, 2009.

I wrote that "the snow is a little wilted" in a blog post last Sunday. I knew exactly what I meant. It's what snow looks like after a day of sincerely above-freezing temperatures, followed by something more Minnesota-normal.

Obvious, right? Well, maybe not all that obvious. So, here's what "wilted snow" looks like:

"Wilted snow." I knew what I meant: now you do, too. February 4, 2009.

And so, on that informative, irrelevant, and mildly pointless note, I bid you adieu, until Sunday night.

Sunday, February 1, 2009. Thank you for your patience. It's amazing, how distracting a vehicular accident can be, even if you're not immediately involved. This family's van is quite a bit shorter than it was before Wednesday afternoon, one of my daughters has a broken wrist, my wife sprained her body (that's not the medical term), but other than that, we're doing fine. I've been posting updates on my family's experiences on Through One Dad's Eye.

I see in this week's Sauk Centre Herald that utility rates went up, starting January 1: on average, around 10.5% for electricity, 6% for water and 3% for sewer service.

Well, as we say here in Minnesota, "it could be worse."

Ace Hardware & Paint's store front is probably finished by now. I saw what looked like finishing touches being put on the roof on Tuesday. Coborn's Video, next door, has neon lighting in its sign.

Funny how neon's status has gone. It started out being 'cutting edge' tech, was associated with cheap diners and seedy businesses by the time I was growing up (fifties and sixties, more or less), and lately it's been back as a sort of hip element in signs. (I don't know if "hip" is still being used - but I'm going to leave that sentence alone.

This isn't the time of year I'd have chosen to be working in an open cage, something like 10 yards up. Or on a roof. January 27, 2009.

I don't often write about anything that's not happening in Sauk Centre, but this photo was too odd not to share:

"...Wedding & Party Store - WE SELL PROPANE"?! If they put it in the balloons, the party could be a real blast. January 30, 2009.

Unless something (else) happens, I'll be back Wednesday. I could use a dull, boring, uneventful week right about now.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009. I'm not sure when I'll get today's entry done. Quite possibly not today. My wife and daughter were involved in a vehicular accident. As far as I know, they're not badly injured, but both are at the Douglas County Hospital in Alex.

I plan to put updates about this family matter on Through One Dad's Eye.

Sunday, January 25, 2009. It wasn't all that warm today. My oldest daughter told me that the 'feels like' temperature in Alexandria was 30 below. Here, it was -14 in the small hours of the morning, and we basked in the -2 warmth of the afternoon.

Some of us did: I haven't been outside for a while now. More of that elsewhere. Until I get out to nose around on my own, I'll see what this week's Sauk Centre Herald has to offer.

Here's something: "The mystery of the carp" - Turns out that in the 19th century, introducing thousands of carp to North American waters seemed like a wonderful idea. I think people tried something like that in Australia, with rabbits.

And, I see in the Frazee-Vergas Forum that the Sauk Centre girls' basketball team has been doing pretty well: "Girls BBall: Sauk Centre remains unbeaten." Go team!

I see I took some pictures on Monday, when I got my eyes examined (I've still got two: and they both work well enough). Sauk Centre looks a lot brighter and cheerier than it did then.

This is the sort of day that makes Coborn's drive-through pharmacy look really good. About that vehicle parked across the traffic lane? They're still working on the Ace Hardware store. January 19, 2009.

Beauty is where you find it: in this case, in the Coborn's-Ace parking lot. January 19, 2009.

Kudos to everyone who's been keeping the sidewalks and streets free of snow downtown. January 19, 2009.

Not all that many people out, enjoying the day: for fairly obvious reasons. January 19, 2009.

That wraps up the week.

Except for one thing: After a four-day break, a new session starts for students in Sauk Centre.

Friday, January 23, 2009. Another late "Wednesday" entry. As has been the case for a while, 'I only know what I read in the papers.' I see in this week's Sauk Centre Herald that this area's National Guard unit, Charlie Company, went to Washington, D.C., to help with security at Barack Obama's inauguration. This duty was voluntary, though, so Guard members who were taking college classes or had other civilian duties could choose to stay here.

Actually, I know a little more than 'what I read in the papers.' I noticed that my son was home today (I noticed yesterday, too, but hadn't asked), and asked 'why?' It's quarter break at the school, and the kids get a four-day vacation.

Also, streets have been icy in town: and elsewhere. My oldest daughter was involved in a fender-bender in Alex yesterday: nobody hurt, and she's getting experience in how to get a car's windshield repaired. (More at Through One Dad's Eye)

Sunday, January 18, 2009. Some light snow touched up yards around town this weekend. Looking out the window, it looks like a Currier and Ives scene. Except that we use cars, trucks, and the occasional SUV these days, instead of horse-drawn sleighs.

I got out for Mass today, for the first time in weeks, but haven't had a chance to get around and see what's been happening.

Instead of talking about the new water plant that Sauk Centre may need, I'll put down a few words about the last couple of decades, and call it a day. (This week's Sauk Centre Herald has an article about the water plant.)

My family and I moved to Sauk Center over two decades ago. There weren't as many of us then, and Sauk Centre had only one traffic light, and no specialty coffee shops.

Now, Sauk Centre has three stop lights, two specialty coffee shops, and a Wal-Mart supercenter. It's not the same town. Which isn't at all odd: since "nothing endures but change." I'd be disappointed - and more than a little disturbed - if Sauk Centre had gotten stuck in the mid-eighties, like some 20th century Brigadoon.

It was a good town to raise a family in then, and it still is. Some of the people I knew then are gone, some new folks have arrived, but it's still a fine community.

Thanks, everybody,

Wednesday, January 14, 2009. It's heading for -28 tonight. (I'm actually getting this wrapped up at about 4:00 Thursday morning: by now it's -29 with a windchill of -48 over in Glennwood.)

School is canceled for Thursday, along with evening activities. This household got an automated call from the school this evening, letting us know. Considering that we may get up to a balmy -8 tomorrow, I'd say that's a smart move.

The bug I've got is, I think, starting to lose interest: but I still haven't been getting out. Which means that what I know about Sauk Centre's life is what I read in the papers.

Which includes a pretty big development this week. The Lynx National Golf Course, south of town, has a new owner. He's got plans for the place. Which I hope is good news for the 60 people living in homes along the course. The Sauk Centre Herald has a pretty good article on what's happening.

There's more, of course, to say. But I have got to get some sleep. The project I've been working on still needs work.

Sunday, January 11, 2009. I picked up batteries - those little pill-sized ones that some electronic gadgets use - at Sauk Centre's new Ace Hardware yesterday. Everybody there was taking the "helpful" part of the store slogan seriously. And, on a more practical note, we figured out what sort of batteries I needed.

Make no mistake: Coborn's Video is open!. January 10, 2009.

Ace Hardware, Sauk Centre: "now open." It's good to have a strictly-hardware store in town again. January 10, 2009.

Coborn's drive-through pharmacy is open, too. I didn't find out when, but a big blue banner makes sure that anyone with a hundred yards or so knows that pharmacy pickup is a drive-through thing now. Or, rather, that it can be.

It'll be interesting to see how this works: Coborn's Pharmacy drive thru. January 10, 2009.

The weather forecasts are talking about a winter weather advisory for right around here: a few inches of snow, and a whole lot of wind, starting some time tonight. Farther west, it's going to be a blizzard, I hear. I suppose we'll have to wait a day or so before we get the heavy part of the storm.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009. The big deal this week is that Ace Hardware opened its new store, west of Coborn's. I'm glad to see a hardware store back in Sauk Centre. There were three, when my family and I moved here in 1986. That went down to none, and stayed there for quite a while.

Fleet Supply has good hardware departments, and now so does Wal-Mart. Still, I like to see a specialty store like that opening up - and I wish them well.

Meanwhile, the "Happy Holiday" sign is back in storage. decorations on the downtown streetlights were still a reminder of the Christmas season, but they'll be going soon, too: unless there's a break in routine.

I've been told that quite a few folks in the area aren't feeling quite up to par: and I'm one of them. The bug I've been sharing with some of the family is still whooping it up inside me. I don't like to be a bad host, but I really wish it would leave.

Aside from interfering with getting these entries done, I haven't grilled lunch for weeks!

Sunday, January 4, 2009. I'm going to be writing "2008" where it should be "2009" for a while. I did that in the last entry - and have now fixed it.

This household's furnace is still down. I've appreciated central heating a lot more this last week. It's now up to "Minnesota Winter and No Furnace: Day Seven."

School starts tomorrow, so it'll be back to normal routines for many families now. The next big holiday hoo-ha is Valentine's Day, which is a merciful six weeks away, roughly.

I've been playing host to some sort of persistent and annoying bug, and don't really have a lot to report from personal experience. Happily, the Sauk Centre Herald has been on the job.

I see that Wal-Mart gave $15,000 to organizations around here. $1,000 to 15, more specifically. The published donee list (there's donor lists, so I suppose there could be a donee list) runs from St. Mike's Hospital Foundation, through Long Prairie Food Pantry to the Great River Regional Library.

Lessee - what else is there? Ah, here we go -

230 people were at the annual Community Christmas Dinner this year. The get-together was at the American Legion, local businesses give support, and the Jungers family hosted it again: ten years now, in the same location. Sounds like a nice tradition.

Must be more here. City budget details and something more about the city council. Important, but you can read it in the paper.

There's something about the Beuning's, over in Freeport. They've been running their house (partly) on solar power for 29 years now. Looks like Mr. Beunning hopes there will be a new solar-oriented business in Freeport's JOBZ zone.

I hope to have a little more of a personal look at what's going on in Sauk Centre this coming week: but we'll see what happens.

Thursday, January 1, 2009.


Sorry about the delay in getting "Wednesday's" entry out. I've been a little distracted. More about that in "Minnesota Winter and No Furnace: Day Four."

Getting a few groceries This Monday, I noticed work in progress at the new Ace Hardware store. Working outside has it's good points, but I didn't envy those folks. It was a little chilly. A lot, actually. It wasn't quite ten below, with a brisk west wind, as I recall.

That roof looks easy to stand on. The higher one, now, may be more interesting to finish. December 29, 2008

Meanwhile, over at Coborn's drive-through pharmacy, another crew was huddled over the electronics. December 29, 2008

Coborn's drive-through pharmacy is coming along, too. Someone told me that when the orange traffic cones were gone, they'd be open. The traffic cones were out of sight, but the folks there weren't customers: they were a crew, working on the outside electronics. One of the guys climbed a ladder and stuck his head into the overhead structure: which got him out of the wind for a while.

I see we've got a sort of heat wave going here: it's up to about zero now.

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