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Sunday, December 26, 2010. Today isn't Christmas. That was yesterday. That profound observation is my follow-up on the last sentence in Wednesday's entry: "Christmas is this Sunday!"

It's been that sort of a week.

The Christmas Eve service at Our Lady of the Angels church was a little unusual this year: the music included a drum, in Gaudete. Folks from Kenya had given our parish the drum, when they visited here earlier this year: and this was our first opportunity to use it. (More, including photos, in "Watches, Time, and Ugali," A Catholic Citizen in America (September 20, 2010))

Marian garden at Our Lady of the Angels church. December 26, 2010.

I've had a good Christmas weekend, and hope you did, too.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010. It's almost Christmas. The Sauk Centre Herald online edition has photos of kids singing Christmas songs, there's enough snow on the ground to last until New Year's: and tomorrow's forecast says we're likely to get more.

It's the time of year when folks either pack up and travel to see family, or stay put and let family come to them. I'm making the transition to the latter category. Our #2 daughter, her husband and dog came visiting over the weekend.

I'm still recovering.

We had a great time: but I'm still recovering.

Also in the Herald this week: a nice article about my father-in-law, L. N. Kaas and his new violin repair business.

I was out this afternoon, running some errands and taking photos. I'd show them, but getting them out of the camera and ready to present takes software that's currently on my old computer. Which at this time is a set of bulky door stoppers in the attic. I plan to get my son to put it in working order tomorrow. My son-in-law gave me a new (and improved) computer for Christmas. Wow.

Okay, so I didn't have photos for Sunday, and today. At this rate, it'll be next year before you see them. Which, right now, isn't all that far off. Good grief! Christmas is this Sunday!

Sunday, December 19, 2010. I thought I'd be getting out to take a photo of the Gopher Prairie Motel's '1,000 lights' Christmas tree by today. Instead, we've had family visiting, I got sick (nothing serious, and I'm keeping it that way), and: well, it just didn't happen. The Sauk Centre Herald has an article on the Gopher Prairie's tree in this week's paper, "Oh, Christmas tree." I plan to be back with a more complete report by Wednesday.

But then, I planned to get photos of that tree: and you see how that turned out.

Thursday, December 16, 2010. Tis the season for inflatable snowmen, wreathes on the light poles, and two "Happy Holiday" signs over Main. Also snow, crystal-blue skies, and not-so-clear skies.

Inflatables abound in Sauk Centre's first computer service's yard. December 13, 2010.

Advent is counting down, too, toward Christmas.

Monday: A beautiful, crystal-clear winter's day. December 13, 2010.

Tuesday: also a winter's day. Our Lady of the Angels' not-so-new-anymore heated sidewalks really help, this time of year. December 14, 2010.

This week's Sauk Centre Herald front page reminded me of reasons why I love living here. It's not that this example of small town America is some perfect little care-free haven, where improbably cheerful folks live just the way it was in the 'good old days.'

I remember 'the good old days,' by the way: and they weren't. Which isn't quite another topic.

Sauk Centre Herald: This week's paper, and a recent issue.

The top headline this week is about wind turbines, a wind farm that's planned for this area, and concerns that a couple of folks have about it. It's not the aesthetics of the wind turbines that bothers them: They've heard that the blades make infrasound. That's another invisible thing that may hurt people. Or, not. My guess is that we've got more trouble with the 60-cycle hum generated by the power grid: but I'm not terribly concerned about that, either.

For what it's worth, the National Institutes of Health posted some interesting papers on infrasound:

How much of the concern - and worry - about infrasound is legitimate, and how much is somebody finding a new way to get research grants, I don't know.

It's possible that there is a real problem.

On the other hand, I remember when everything caused cancer. During those particular 'good old days,' we were also warned that some carcinogens caused heart attacks. These dire threats were discussed - quite seriously - in newspapers and magazines, and worked their way into college textbooks.

Some of that, ah, concern was based on reality. Some - well, we've moved on to other terrifying threats.

I don't doubt that some folks won't like living near wind turbines: some of them because they really do feel funny when the things are turning. The abstract of that June, 2010, publication mentions "abnormal states in which the ear becomes hypersensitive to infrasound," and very carefully suggests that some folks might have problems with low-frequency sound from wind turbines. Maybe.

As for "infrasound" as such? It's just a five-dollar word for sound that's so low-pitched that we can't hear it. I'm a little disinclined to be worried about sounds I can't hear: since the same abstract points out that we're bombarded with infrasound each time our heart beats, when we breath, and when we cough.

Still, it shouldn't hurt for the Missouri university folks to dig a little deeper into how our ears work.

Then there's the front-page article about a Christmas tree with 1,000  lights - but I gotta leave something for Sunday.

Sunday, December 12, 2010. Compared to what happened in Minneapolis today, we've had an uneventful weekend here in Sauk Centre. I collected some news about the storm in one of my blogs - "Dome's Down: Next Stop, East Coast." Including a video of the Metrodome collapse. Happily, nobody got hurt.

Most of the snow is south of us. My family was still affected, though, indirectly: a Soo Bahk Do tournament in St. Cloud was canceled. Many folks were coming up from the Twin Cities: and would probably have themselves dug out by Monday.

That meant that I had the family van available this afternoon: so #1 daughter and I went to see Tangled at Main Street Theatre. Good show, by the way, in my opinion.

Snow and wind - and my wife's good sense - encouraged me to not grill burgers yesterday, but I was out today for that weekend routine. Beautiful weather: clear blue sky, sparkling fresh snow. Invigorating chill in the air.

We have a wind chill advisory tonight.

Sunday morning in Sauk Centre, at the corner of Ash and South 9th. December 12, 2010.

We really didn't get all that much snow. December 12, 2010.

'It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.' December 12, 2010.

Part of that wind chill advisory struck me as funny. After telling that the wind chill factor would be between 15 and 35 below zero, it gave this nugget of wisdom for folks out taking a stroll: "...make sure you wear a hat and gloves."

Wednesday, December 8, 2010. Christmas is advancing relentlessly. No: That's not quite the way I should put it. We've got about two and a half weeks before Christmas, which can be expressed as a countdown of shopping days, or Advent reflections.

A little frost on the trees, a little snow coming down. December 8, 2010.

I haven't gone into The Wax Pot, in the professional building on Main and South 4th, but it might be a new business. Or maybe I just missed the sign until this week: that's happened before. Anyway, I gather that The Wax Pot specializes in 'waxing' - a process which makes me glad that I'm a man, and expected to have hairy hands.

The Wax Pot: nifty name. December 7, 2010.

Sauk Centre's streets are spiffed up for the holidays: Garlands over the streets, (strings of) lights on the (street) lights. I'll want to get out after dark with a camera before it all goes back into storage.

Garlands over Main, downtown - with a touch of snow. December 7, 2010.

Then there's the lead story in this week's Sauk Centre Herald.

Normally, I think it's fine when young people display initiative and an entrepreneurial spirit. Like the young men who wanted to run their own dairy operation. Or, rather, like someone else: who would have had the good sense to buy or borrow the cattle. Not steal them.

Cattle Rustlers. Really. December 7, 2010.

Good news: The animals apparently are okay - and back with their owners.

Bad news: Those kids are facing very serious criminal charges.

Good news: We don't hang rustlers from the nearest tree.

Bad news: Felony theft is not a minor offense. The teens are looking at maybe 10 years in jail and a $20,000 fine - with another fine for possession of stolen property.

What, if anything, were they thinking?! Cattle, even young ones, are big, bulky animals: and don't just pop up out of the ground. How they thought they could explain 17 calves in a barn is beyond me.

At least they didn't steal from their neighbors and assume nobody would notice: the calves were stolen in Douglas, Todd and Stearns Counties, the older of the kids, 19, is from around Rothsay, the other, 16, is from Barnesville.

Sunday, December 5, 2010. Christmas is a little under three weeks away, and my household got our 'Christmas letter' out. No bragging on my part: all I did was print labels and the letters, then drop them off in the box near Coborn's.

The other day, I said I had some photos that showed, beyond a reasonable doubt, that it really is winter. Here they are.

Snow, clear blue sky, ploughed and lightly sanded streets: Yep, it's winter all right. December 1, 2010.

Bright sun, sharp shadows on the snow - and Christmas decorations in the yard. December 1, 2010.

We had a little snow coming down this afternoon - but that didn't keep me from grilling burgers yesterday and today. A little shoveling was required, of course: but like I said, it's winter.

Grilling burgers: It's a four-season thing here. December 4, 2010.

I read in the Sauk Centre Herald that the Sauk Centre police department has a new digital video camera now: a big improvement, since the two old VHS cameras "were old and not functioning properly."

Thursday, December 2, 2010. O'Reilly Auto Parts is open. They've got signs up - but Monday, around noon, when I took that picture, the lights inside told the story. That was one dim day.

O'Reilly Auto Parts: around noon. Monday was a dim day. November 29, 2010.

There's been a little shuffling around on Main, downtown. Hidden Treasure Christian Books and Gifts isn't sharing a storefront with Heartland Gallery any more. They've got their own place, where Cobblestone Court's been.

Look closely: That's a Hidden Treasure now. December 1, 2010.

From the looks of it, Heartland Gallery, next to the expanded Main Street Theatre, has a lot more elbow room now. Tangled is one of the movies playing there now, by the way. At the movie theater, not Heartland, of course. And yes: It's in 3D. They've been using the new 3D projectors since February 5, 2009.

That's where Hidden Treasure was: sharing space with Heartland Gallery. December 1, 2010.

On my way in to see what the Hidden Treasure folks had done with their new location, I saw an announcement for a scholarship benefit.

Christmas Concert Benefit: Carol Pelkey scholarship for a class of 2011 Sauk Centre High School senior. Next Sunday, the 12th, at 1:00 p.m. at Our Lady of the Angels church. December 1, 2010.

Okay-back to Hidden Treasure. They're using pretty much the same setup that Cobblestone Court did, and are in full Christmas shopping mode now. They moved in October 29.

Hidden Treasure, inside. Lots of Christmas stuff. December 1, 2010.

Lots and lots of stuff. December 1, 2010.

I got a little carried away, taking photos in there. The store is actually two storefronts, connected by a wide doorway/checkout counter. The two photos here are on the north side, where you come in. The 'book' part of the "Books and Gifts" is on the south side, along with a whole lot of other stuff that's not terribly functional - but very nice to look at. Which is sort of function, too, I guess.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010. There's snow on the ground. It looks like winter, and I've got photos to prove it. Time got away from me today, though, so I plan to be back with today's entry - tomorrow. By noon, I hope. Thanks for your patience.

Sunday, November 28, 2010. It's Advent Sunday. Also the last day of the Thanksgiving weekend.

Sunset over Sauk Centre's south side. November 28, 2010.

I've been spending the last few days, having a good time with my family, which involved driving to North Dakota and back. I hope your long weekend was as pleasant as mine was. Wednesday, I should be back to writing about what I've noticed in Sauk Centre.

Thursday, November 25, 2010. Happy Thanksgiving!

Hope you're having a better time than these two turkeys:

Wednesday, November 24, 2010. Like the song says, "it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas." And it's the day before Thanksgiving. The generic "Happy Holiday" sign is up over Highway 71/Main/"The Original Main Street, and there's a little snow on the ground.

Monday morning. Snow: covering the sidewalks, but getting lost between blades of grass. November 22, 2010.

Monday and today were dim days, the sort of thing that a Chamber of Commerce often doesn't tend to emphasize when discussing the virtues of their town.

That house next to St. Paul's on Sinclair Lewis Avenue: It's not there any more. November 22, 2010.

We didn't get the sleet and ice pellets that one forecast talked about. Can't say that I'm sorry about that. As it was, we've got a decent little coat of snow. While the snow was doing its decorating, around noon, it was dark enough for headlights to make sense.

Noon today. 2 of three vehicles have their headlights on. Seen through a decently-insulated window, it was a pleasant scene. November 24, 2010.

A closer look at the same photo. It's within a few minutes of noon - the mail truck and car have their headlights on. The SUV? I'm not sure what was happening there. November 24, 2010.

Tomorrow's Thanksgiving. I see in the news that Apple and Cider, two turkeys, were pardoned by the president.

That's been a light side of leadership that's been traditional since - well, actually it seems to go back to the Kennedy administration. Or Reagan. Depends on how you define the 'pardon.' ( You may have read something different in the papers. Can't say I'm surprised about that.

Back in 2005, by the way, the two famous turkeys - Snowball and Blizzard - were from Melrose. At least, that's what I read.

Sunday, November 21, 2010. Friday's moonrise was a bit more showy than most, with a distinct halo around the moon.

Moonrise: There's a reason it looks so big. November 19, 2010.

There was a distinct ring toward the outside of the halo - that doesn't show in this photo. Oh, well. November 19, 2010.

There's been more going on than that.

I've heard that O'Reilly's Auto Parts was offered the old Fitness Guru building, but decided that they wanted to build their own store. That location at South 12th and Fairlane Drive is about as good as it gets in that part of town, so I can see their point.

We may be getting a new Chinese restaurant: run by an entirely different outfit than the folks who had Andy's Wok downtown. I'll be keeping an eye on the old Fitness Guru place - that's where I heard the new restaurant might be going.

Don't take these predictions of mine all that seriously: My information is of the 'some guy said he heard' variety.

(I've written about Sauk Centre's first Chinese restaurants a few times, over the years: June 22, 2008, May 16, 2008, April 4, 2008, June 24, 2007 for starters.)

Which brings me up to this morning. Last night's freezing rain had left somewhere between a sixteenth and and eighth of an inch of ice on #3 daughter's car. We usually take the van, but it's in for repairs. I wrote about that in my personal blog.

Freezing rain left a nice, even coat of ice on the windshield. November 21, 2010.

That was more than just 'frost' or a film of ice. The black thing is one of the windshield wipers. November 21, 2010.

Street crews have been out, sanding intersections, so getting to work tomorrow morning shouldn't be too challenging. Anyway, folks who have lived here for more than a year should be used to this sort of thing by now.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010. I see in the Sauk Centre Herald that an outfit called Talk, Inc., will be building a wind turbine in the industrial park - to provide power for their plant, with the excess sold to Missouri River Energy. The tower's going to change the skyline on that side of town. The article said it'll be 120 feet tall with 24 foot blades. When something's that tall, the FAA says it has to have a red light on it. Should be an impressive sight.

The paper also tells about a teenager who got shot in the leg while hunting deer. Not the way I'd like to get my name in the news. Good news: He's expected to recover.

Helical 'Christmas trees,' a cartoony inflated turkey and scarecrow, landing lights along the sidewalk, and a Nativity scene: the holidays are upon us. November 17, 2010.

I took that photo around noon. This hasn't been the brightest of days. At least now, with temperatures staying below freezing, we don't have mosquitoes.

Sunday, November 14, 2010. We got our first taste of winter yesterday - or pretty near the first. Enough snow came down to fill in gaps in the grass. The temperature's starting to be plausibly wintry, too. Well, late-autumn-y, anyway.

Neighbors getting their yard decorations ready for Thanksgiving - and Christmas. November 11, 2010.

My family and I have what I suppose is a cold: the sort of thing where you don't feel sick, but you're not exactly well, either. I haven't done a scientific survey, but it's probably something that's 'going around.'

Snow, but not much, came yesterday and last night. November 14, 2010.

Quite a few households have Thanksgiving decorations up. And, in some cases, Christmas displays, too. We could have an open winter: I hope not, but it could happen. Folks who are serious about their holiday things generally seem to assume that we'll have snow, and in decent quantity: so they get the bulky items out early, while the walking is easy. Besides, this way they've got a good chance of having a nice, smooth layer of snow around the reindeer, sleighs, and crèches.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010. A few days of "October's bright blue weather" seem to have been delayed in transit, and arrived in early November. Today wasn't one of them.

About 20 minutes after 1:00 in the afternoon: and folks are driving with their headlights on. November 10, 2010.

O'Reilly Auto Parts is getting closer to being ready. A crew was inside today, working on the interior.

O'Reilly Auto Parts, at Fairlane Drive and South 12th. I took this picture at about 2:30 in the afternoon today. November 10, 2010.

This was a dim afternoon: and it finally started raining. I'm looking forward to nicer weather. Fewer clouds, anyway.

Sunday, November 7, 2010. Halloween's over: and after almost a quarter-century of living here, I still haven't seen the inside of "Monster Manor," in the fairgrounds across from Coborn's.

The midterm election's over, too: for which I'm duly grateful. The political ads for the state and national races - - - Well, it's over, and we've got a breather before the next one. I read in the Sauk Centre Herald that we had a pretty good turnout: 68% of the registered voters, ten points higher than the state average. I've suspected that we're a tad more likely to give a rip about what happens in our community: but I'll admit to a bias.

I love it here.

Take the front page headlines of this week's paper, for example. The first thing I saw was that Sauk Centre school bus drivers were "recognized for the superior procedures" after a surprise inspection. It's nice to live in a town where good news on the front page isn't a rarity.

Also in this week's Herald: Walt Junkin has played taps at military funerals here for 54 years. There's a pretty good write-up in the paper. And in the online edition. Something I didn't know: The VFW and American Legion posts here have a mechanical bugler.

Thursday, November 4, 2010. I said I'd have a little more about that band concert. Mostly, two photos:

About six minutes before 8:00 p.m., in the high school auditorium. November 2, 2010.

About 11 minutes after 8:00 p.m.: there's a reason this concert started later than they usually do. November 2, 2010.

The high school bands, grades seven through 12, had their first concert of the year this Tuesday, November 2. Which was also the day of the American midterm election. The concert started later than such things usually do, we were told, because one of the rules was that they couldn't start until after the polls closed.

As to why the concert couldn't have been scheduled on another day? I've no idea. Maybe that was the only time the auditorium was available.

Anyway: I enjoyed the concert - and the 'thank you' to admin and janitors at the end. 'Behind the scenes' folks don't get recognition all that often.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010. The emergency sirens went off today, at 1:00 p.m., right on schedule. I don't know whether to call that a tradition, a routine, or what. In practical terms, it's a good idea to test a system like that periodically: so maybe I should call it 'routine maintenance.'

Then there was last night's band concert at the high school. I'll get back to that tomorrow.

Sunday, October 31, 2010. I no longer have much of a cold. Instead, both ears are so plugged that I can barely hear. At least it's a change of pace.

One more thing: It's Halloween. Which meant trick-or-treaters coming to the door, and a little temporary redecorating of the entry.

The family got a little creative this year. That blond wig on the plastic Jack 'o lanterns is a new touch, I think. October 31, 2010.

Clear skies made for near-ideal conditions. The young trick-or-treaters and their folks started showing up around 6:00. At least, that's when I noticed them. October 31, 2010.

Some of the costumes were downright cute: like this butterfly. October 31, 2010.

One family had quite a variety of costumes for their kids: including a sort of horse - with four legs - for one of the little girls. Maybe it was a unicorn. I didn't get a very close look.

By nightfall, almost all of the younger kids have made their rounds, and returned home. October 31, 2010.

That last photo, with the glowing set: grinning pumpkins, a purple spider on the roof, and someone with a greenish complexion, is the work of our across-the-corner neighbors.

The O'Reilly Auto Parts store looks like it's just about ready to open: but I mentioned that on Wednesday.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010. October's bright blue weather turned gray this week.

Sinclair Lewis Park, by the public landing. It's mid-afternoon: one of those shadowless days. October 25, 2010.

Same place, pretty near the same time: turns out there are shadows, if you look closely. October 25, 2010.

The O'Reily Auto Parts store has their name on the front now.

The new auto parts store: now with sign. October 25, 2010.

As for me, I've still got a cold. The same one. I suppose there's something to be said for consistency: but I'll be glad when it's done.

I just about forgot about yesterday's wind. Quite a few folks here in central Minnesota lost power for a while. And St. Cloud set a new record for rainfall in a single day. I wrote about that, with some photos, in my personal blog. ("Wintry Weather and a Balky Furnace," Through One Dad's Eye (October 27, 2010))

Sunday, October 24, 2010. Another week, and it's Halloween. Then the midterm elections. I'm looking forward to the trick-or-treaters. At the rate things are going, I may be done with this cold (or whatever it is) by then. Or, maybe not.

There's good news, maybe, at the top of this week's Sauk Centre Herald front page. The article calls it a "former school building:" I still think of it as the IBAA building, but that's years ago. It's empty now. (September 1, 2010)

Looks like one of the options for what to do with the place is to have the Chamber of Commerce and the Sinclair Lewis' Interpretive Center move in there. Sounds reasonable to me: it's a decent location for the Interpretive Center and the Chamber, it seems, and has enough floor space for the museum.

Seems simple enough, from my point of view - particularly since I have nothing to do with ownership and working out financial arrangements. Besides having enough room inside, the old IBAA building has a good-size parking lot in back.

This weekend I'm in the position of the fellow who said, 'all I know is what I read in the paper.' The Herald had a good write-up of Gianna Jessen and the 1,300 or so folks she spoke to Wednesday before last. Also how the Miller family deals with Celiac Disease - from my own family's experience, I know it's interesting, trying to find gluten-free food.

I'd probably feel better if I hadn't grilled burgers in the rain today. That wasn't the smartest thing I've ever done - but I like grilling.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010. We're approaching that holiday marathon: Halloween/Thanksgiving/Christmas/New Years - followed by January and February, two months that could use a holiday to break the mid-winter routines. Maybe it's just as well that we've got a couple months to recover in, though.

Monday evening: It looked like a cover was being drawn across the sky. October 18, 2010.

I'm still negotiating with a cold. I want it out of my body, it isn't ready to move.

Sunset, seen from the Coborns parking lot. October 19, 2010.

A weather report on the radio today called this a 'breezy' day. With gusts to around 40 miles an hour. That's a noticeable "breeze."

"Breeze" south of the McDonalds in Sauk Centre. October 20, 2010.

A tip of the hat to sabrinabeans, who said that the new place at South 12th and Fairlane Drive would most likely be an O'Reilly Auto Parts store. (September 26, 2010) They've got a sign up now, letting folks know what's coming. And it looks like they may be hiring.

The corner of South 12th and Fairlane Drive: O'Reilly Auto Parts. "Coming Soon," that is. October 20, 2010.

There's road work - or maybe bridge work - being done where County Road 186 goes over Interstate 94, southeast of town. I didn't get close enough to see which. Or, rather, it was hard to tell from underneath: I noticed activity there while driving back from Melrose on the Interstate.

Upgrade at the sewage treatment plant? October 20, 2010.

Something's happening at the sewage treatment plant, too. That's probably the upgrade they were discussing at City Hall last October. (It's mentioned on pages 42 and 43 of the PDF file.) As my father used to say, "things take time."

Sunday, October 15, 2010. I'm still looking forward to a clear head, and added a clear throat to the list. Still, it could be worse.

October's bright blue weather turned dull gray today. I'd probably see it a pearly skies without this cold. But enough about me.

Sinclair Lewis Avenue, looking east from Holy Family School. October 12, 2010.

A fire at Centre Square Apartments, a week ago Friday, was top-of-the-front page news in this week's Sauk Centre Herald. That fire was one of four calls the Sauk Centre Fire Department responded to that day. Bad news: folks living there had to get out and stay out. Good news: they could go back in around 1 a.m.: and there's more in the paper.

As a rule, I don't mind publicity. On the other hand, the Sauk Centre Herald's online edition reports that a fellow was caught running naked down Main Street, around where it crosses the Interstate. To top it off, he got belligerent with the police. That's not a reason I'd like to have, for getting my name in the news.

A sign of autumn in Sauk Centre: the Elgin Crosswind street sweeper. October 14, 2010.

On a happier note, I've been hearing the roar of Sauk Centre's street sweeper going past. I took that photo next to my Small Town America: Minnesota webcam. Now that I've got that shameless plug out of the way, I'm out of material. For now. I'll be back Wednesday.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010. October's "bright blue weather" is still around, and the temperature is down to what we're used to this time of year. I heard that the Metro had a record high temperature a few days ago.

Whatever's being built down at the corner of Fairlane Drive and South 12th doesn't look all that different now, than it did a week ago. I suppose most of the progress is happening inside.

Here's what that construction at Fairland Drive and South 12th looked like last week. October 6, 2010.

And, here's what it looked like yesterday. October 12, 2010.

I was out yesterday, and noticed some work being done on the Central Minnesota Credit Union's sign. Around here, we have more trees than we do multistory signs: so it's natural that the outfit that's working on the sign is a tree service from Freeport.

Cutting Edge Tree Service: I like that name. October 12, 2010.

I picked up a cold somewhere along the line, complete with stuffed head, sore throat, and a wandering sense of balance. It's economical, in a way: I get most of the effects of inebriation, without the cost of a six-pack. I'm looking forward to a clear head.

Sunday, October 10, 2010. We had a polka Mass at Our Lady of the Angels church today. I enjoy those: particularly since we've been getting polka bands who aren't diffident about belting out the umpahs.

There's nothing that says "polka Mass" quite like having a tuba next to the piano. October 10, 2010.

We didn't quite have dancing in the aisles afterward. October 10, 2010.

This time it was Adam and the Jolly Jammers providing the music. They're a group based in St. Augusta, Minnesota. Pretty good, in my opinion: but I'll admit I'm no polka expert.

Other than that, October has been progressing, some trees are almost bare while others don't seem to have gotten the memo about autumn being here, and I've been a bit distracted.

My desk is next to the kitchen, you see: and there's been a lot of work going on there. Which has been a little distracting. I wrote about that on Friday, in my personal blog. The good news is that the job is moving along - and, I located the washer, dryer, and stove. (Saturday) Pretty soon they'll be back where they belong. I hope.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010. This can't last: the perfect temperatures, blue skies, mosquito-discouraging breezes. But it sure is nice while 'October's bright blue weather' is around. I've got yet more pictures of trees. Also something I found downtown.

Autumn - and other - colors. October 5, 2010.

This is why it's tricky, getting photos of Minnesota's autumn colors: the trees take turns, turning color. October 6, 2010.

More color on Sauk Centre's south side. October 6, 2010.

One of my favorite streets, this time of year. October 6, 2010.

I'd noticed the "Sweet Stop Candies" sign in the window of Centre Floral's south storefront a week or so ago. Today I went in to see what they had.

"Sweet Stop Candy Shop:" big sign, big display. October 6, 2010.

I'm told there was more candy during the summer - and will be when they re-stock. October 6, 2010.

This is still Centre Floral - and yes, they've got flowers, too. October 6, 2010.

Lamps, accessories, and a lot of stuff. Also flowers. October 6, 2010.

I'd been in Centre Floral before, so I knew they occupied two storefronts downtown. They've got quite a selection of stuff: parts of the store looked like a home furnishings place - there's that store-in-the-store with (mostly novelty) candy - and yes, about halfway back they've got fresh flowers.

Yes, Centre Floral has flowers, too. October 6, 2010.

They have a good-size selection of Halloween-related stuff. There's better word than "stuff:" "decorations," maybe?

I got a bit carried away with the camera in the store.

Looking past the flowers and novelty candy, into Centre Floral's south storefront. October 6, 2010.

"Spooky," "Wicked?" I know we've got 'truth in packaging' rules now, but - - - Oh, right. Halloween. And yes: this is Centre F., too. October 6, 2010.

Not a bad idea: that display packs a whole lot of wall into a small area. October 6, 2010.

Clocks?!. October 6, 2010.

Centre Floral's got display rooms upstairs, too: but I'm calling it quits for the day.

Sunday, October 3, 2010. October's been living up to its reputation for beautiful clear blue days so far. For the most part.

I took some photos of the Chamber of Commerce / Sinclair Lewis Interpretive Center site from some different angles this week. Partly because the area looked good and was displaying some autumn color: partly to get some "before" photos. It looks like there'll be commercial development there in - a few years, probably.

Mowed yard between the Chamber of Commerce/Sinclair Lewis Interpretive Center and Interstate 94. September 24, 2010.

Pretty much the same scene, just more of it. September 27, 2010.

The Interpretive Center, from the southwest. September 27, 2010.

Finally, the C. of C. & Sinclair Lewis Interpretive Center's parking lot. September 27, 2010.

The trees in Sauk Centre - and central Minnesota generally - seem to be individualists. Those photos you see of New England autumn landscapes, where square miles of hills are covered with brightly-colored trees? Around here, I've seen trees with bare leaves, full autumn color, and green leaves - on the same tree at the same time.

The northwest corner of the Stearns County Fairgrounds, near Lake Wobegon Trail. The nearby trees: it's summer there. The more distant ones? There, it's autumn. September 27, 2010.

Here's another look at those 'autumn' trees. This set, on South Ash by the Lake Wobegon Trail, put on a pretty good show most years. Including this one. September 27, 2010.

Here at the corner of South Ash and 9th, it's pretty definitely autumn. September 27, 2010.

I said that October had delivered it's signature "bright blue weather" - for the most part. Today was up to spec. Friday? Not so much.

"October's bright blue weather?!" The building at south 12th and Fairlane Drive is taking shape. October 1, 2010.

That skeleton is hanging from the basketball hoop by a hangman's noose: right next to the cheerful pumpkins. And yes, there's something purple on the roof. An inflatable spider. October 3, 2010.

We're coming up on a sort of holiday marathon: Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's. I'm looking forward to seeing what the folks in town who make a point of dressing up their yards do this year.

Thursday, September 30, 2010. Here are some of those photos:

Lake Wobegon Trail, east of Sauk Centre. September 24, 2010.

Pretty much the same scene, just more of it. September 24, 2010.

And in the distance: turkey barns. September 24, 2010.

Light, shade, grass a fence, and an SUV. September 24, 2010.

There's more where those came from. Whether that's a promise or a warning depends on what you think of autumn scenes. I like this time of year - as you've probably already guessed.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010. Trust me: I've got some nice photos to show. But not quite yet. Tomorrow, by mid-afternoon. I hope. Thanks for your patience.

Sunday, September 26, 2010. If you read the Sauk Centre Herald, you've learned that St. Michael's has signed a letter of intent, getting the ball rolling on a possible partnership. I gather the arrangements are intended to keep a medical facility here in Sauk Centre. With, I trust, some degree of local control.

It's definitely fall now. I'll be taking my hummingbird feeder in soon: it's been out there, on the off chance that a straggler might need refueling. Besides, I've been a little distracted this last week: water on two floors of the house. (More in Through One Dad's Eye.)

Some trees have - let's call it "subtle" colors. September 24, 2010.

Some seem in a rush to get leaf-shedding over with, others have barely begun. September 24, 2010.

On railroad Avenue, looking southeast: Lake Wobegon Trail's a half-block over, on the left. September 24, 2010.

There's a peak to the autumn colors here: and my guess is that we're not at it yet. September 24, 2010.

Then there are fiery displays like this. September 24, 2010.

It's not all bright colors in the fall. September 24, 2010.

This is one of my favorite views in Sauk Centre: down Grove Lake Street, looking toward St. Paul's church. September 24, 2010.

I learned that the construction by South 12th and Fairlane Drive is probably going to be an O'Reilly Auto Parts store. A tip of the hat to sabrinabeans, who left a comment on a post in the Sauk Centre Journal Blog.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010. Hummingbirds, if they had any sense, will have evacuated central Minnesota by now. I haven't seen any at my feeder this week: and the ones I saw before that seemed to be pulling their heads down between their shoulders. Or where their shoulders would be. I'm keeping my 'eye on the street' webcam going, though: There's still a bit to see at Ash and South 9th.

Whatever's being built at Fairlane Drive and South 12th is taking shape. There are a few posts above ground level now. September 22, 2010.

Same place, different angle. September 22, 2010.

Today - tonight, actually - is the autumn equinox, so summer is more-or-less officially over and autumn begun. Some of the trees around town jumped the gun and started turning early.

Let's not call that "overcast." It's a day with indirect lighting. September 22, 2010.

South Ash Street: This tree puts on a pretty good show, most years. I caught it just past peak, I think. September 22, 2010.

Closer to downtown: An early adapter, I suppose you could call that yellow tree. September 22, 2010.

There are a few autumnal trees near the end of Sinclair Lewis Avenue: but mostly I was getting a picture of the clouds. September 22, 2010.

Back on South Ash. September 22, 2010.

I went out this afternoon to get a few photos - and get a look at the sky. We'd been promised heavy rain: which seems to be going well to our south. Can't say that I'm disappointed.

Fairlane Drive, looking toward the Central Minnesota Federal Credit Union building. Around mid-afternoon, it looked like we really would get rain. Turned out to be a no-show, though. September 22, 2010.

I've been a big distracted this week - since really early Friday morning, actually, when a pipe burst in the laundry room. Things could have been a lot worse. I've been writing about what's been happening in my personal blog.

Sunday, September 19, 2010. As I realize that I won't have time or energy to finish today's entry, I am reminded of a none-too-amusing story.

It's not as well known as, say, the Great Chicago Fire, but quite a bit of Fargo North Dakota burned to the ground in The Fire of 1893. There was a brisk wind that day, which didn't help.

The start of the fire was a sort of good news - bad news situation. Good news: there was a fire department building close to where the fire started. Bad news: the truck was out, sprinkling the streets. That was just as well, in a way, since the building the truck was housed in caught fire rather promptly.

All of which may not seem to have much to do with Sauk Centre, Minnesota, here at the beginning of the 21st century.

Actually, it doesn't.

The pipe that burst in my laundry room in the wee hours of Friday morning didn't start a fire. I stayed up all night to make sure of that: a sensible action, I think, since water was drizzling into the basement in the vicinity of our main circuit breaker pane. I trust that piece of technology - but only so far.

I posted an update on my personal situation this morning in my personal blog, and will update that sooner or later.

I've got photos and observations to share: but between Friday's all-nighter and dealing with the aftermath, I haven't got them ready.

Sorry about that. Unless there's some more unexpected excitement, I expect to be caught up at least by my regular Wednesday entry.

Thursday, September 16, 2010. Our part of central Minnesota has been enjoying - or experiencing - 'typical' autumn weather this week. Starting with Monday: the sky, almost cloudless; the temperatures, nearly perfect; the wind, just enough to discourage mosquitoes.

Construction site on South 12th and Fairlane Drive. September 13, 2010.

Whatever's being built on the south side, on 12th Street South and Fairlane drive, has a floor now. The construction crew was pouring it on Monday. That extension arm with a hose in it, sending concrete out to where it's wanted, is a big improvement over the fill-a-wheel-barrow-and-trundle-it 'good old days.'.

Several blocks north, on Ash Street, Our Lady of the Angels Church was getting some maintenance work done: the sort of thing that isn't all that exciting, and won't get noticed. Unless it isn't done.

Bell tower maintenance at Our Lady of the Angels church. September 13, 2010.

Great view: but he's got a job to do. September 13, 2010.

Back at Coborn's, still Monday afternoon: a beautiful, wonderful, delightful autumn day. The sort of day that chambers of commerce write about, and that you see on postcards.

Monday afternoon, outside Coborn's, about 3:30: 'typical' autumn weather. September 13, 2010.

Those are 'fall mums,' if my memory serves. And, like I said, Monday was one of those wonderful, delightful autumn days. Yesterday, not so much.

Construction site around 4:00: too wet to work. September 15, 2010.

The restoration project at our neighbor's place, across the street north, is proceeding. They had insulation blown in on Wednesday. It was sort-of-raining at the time.

Insulation going in, around noon. September 15, 2010.

Later in the day, there wasn't any question about it. We had rain. Not hard enough to be interesting, or get us in the news: just enough to get a person wet, walking from a parking spot into a building.

The parking lot for Coborn's and Ace Hardware, about 4:00 in the afternoon. September 15, 2010.

So far, today, the streets are dry and street lighting is off. But this is Minnesota, so the weather will probably change.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010. I'm running late, and will finish tomorrow morning. Sorry about the delay: please check back Thursday afternoon. Thanks!

Sunday, September 12, 2010. It felt like early autumn today: perfect temperature, just enough wind to discourage mosquitoes, not a cloud in the sky.

Friday's weather was like early autumn, too: another aspect of the season.

Gray sky, gray lake, someone out in a boat on Sauk Lake. September 10, 2010.

That's one thing I like about Minnesota: Our weather isn't boring.

There's something new on the west side of Main ("The Original Main Street" on the signs). I'm not sure if "Sweet Stop Candy Shop" is a separate business: That's something to find out this week.

Something new on Main: a candy shop. September 10, 2010.

Main Street Theatre's new secondary entrance: Now with digital sign. And yes, the car has its headlights on: about an hour after noon. September 10, 2010.

And school has started, so there's a torrent of teens and elementary students going past my house, weekday afternoons around 3:00. My 'eye on the street' webcam's live feed of that, and the less exciting hours of the day, are at Small Town America: Minnesota. Technical issues and the innate perversity of inanimate objects permitting, of course.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010. It's been a nearly-perfect day: nearly-clear skies, a bit of a breeze, and a high around 67.

My neighbors across the street, north, have a crew at work repairing and restoring what was damaged in Friday's fire.

The restoration crew was blowing something out of the neighbor's house this morning. Maybe insulation. September 8, 2010.

Restoration work at Ash and South 9th: Even with one of the men spraying the dumpster, some of the dust got away from them. September 8, 2010.

I've turned my 'Small Town America: Minnesota' webcam to face the restoration work, and plan to keep it that way until the neighbors get caught up to where they were before the fire.

Meanwhile, down by South 12th, whatever's being built is moving toward completion. This afternoon they were digging at the west end of the site.

Excavating for - something - at the west end of the construction site on South 12th. September 8, 2010.

I'm trying to decide whether to ask around and find out what's being planned for that Fairlane Drive & South 12th construction: or have the fun of being surprised when its finished.

Sunday, September 5, 2010. Labor Day weekend is about half over now. I experienced a little of the early Labor Day traffic on Friday: more about that later.

The old joke about Minnesota's four seasons - fall, winter, spring, and road work - applies to streets, too. Given a choice, the only time you'd want to try digging up a street around here is when water isn't frozen, about to be frozen, or melting. I don't know what was going on, a block east of Marc'ette Place flower shop, on South Pine last Thursday: aside from the obvious. A crew was digging out the top few yards of pavement and soil.

Street work. September 2, 2010.

Foundations for whatever's being built on South 12th, south of Ace Hardware, are taking shape. I doubt they'll be done with construction before winter: but I've been wrong before.

New construction on the south side: 12th and Fairland Drive. September 3, 2010.

I spent Friday morning and the first part of the afternoon in St. Cloud. My guess is that on the way back I was sharing the Interstate with folks getting an early start on Labor Day weekend. They were sensible drivers for the most part: but I'll gladly stay off the roads this weekend.

The few who want to drive above the speed limit, don't realize that slower traffic goes in the right lane, or otherwise depart from the path of wisdom, make driving in moderately heavy traffic a trifle more exciting than I like.

On my way home, turning north on Ash, I saw flashing lights ahead. As I got to the Fairground's main entrance, I could see at least one fire truck near South 9th and Ash. Getting closer, it looked like most of the Sauk Centre Police and Fire departments were parked outside my place.

That isn't the most calming sight.

Fire trucks, police cars: It could have been worse. September 3, 2010.

Still closer, and I could see that whatever was going on was - apparently - on the north side of my house. Turns out, that yard was being used as a sort of utility area by the fire crew.

Our neighbors across the street north did not have a good day on Friday. I haven't learned just what happened, aside from a fire somewhere inside. Nobody was hurt, as far as I know: but whatever it was had at least two trucks from the fire department out here.

The fire crew was wrapping things up by the time I got home. September 3, 2010.

He's not trying to strangle the fire hose. They're getting water out before going back to the station. September 3, 2010.

Putting out a fire: there's a lot of people and equipment involved. September 3, 2010.

Aside from that, it's been a fairly quiet weekend here.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010. I read in yesterday's Sauk Centre Herald that the Stearns County Board of Adjustment revoked the license for Andy's Wok, downtown. That's not good news: but after all the warnings, it would have been prudent to clean the place up. I'm going to miss that place. (August 1, 2010, June 30, 2010)

Movers took a house right past my place Thursday morning: and I missed it! I've heard that they took the place that had been built on school property, on the back parking lot, around 7:00 a.m. or so - and even then had to ask some folks to move their cars.

The place is on south 2nd now, with a fine view of the lake: and a lot of work going on inside.

Delivered: one house, some assembly required. August 30, 2010.

Here's the same place, from the back/north side, looking across Lake Wobegon Trail. August 30, 2010.

A building on south Main is going through a transition again. Years back, it was the Independent Community Bankers Association (IBAA) building.

Since then it's been the West Central Education District building, used for Early Childhood/Family Education classes and later the BEACON program. (I didn't remember all that: I got the names from this week's Sauk Herald.) The program(s) aren't necessarily ending - The folks are moving to "the district building on State Road." The move is a way to economize, I gather.

The building will be left empty and then sold, or maybe something else. Whatever decision is made, I'm glad I don't have to be the one making it.

Sunday, August 29, 2010. We're a week from Labor Day weekend, the unofficial end of summer. Classes start at Sauk Centre schools right after that, and as someone said, 'all I know is what I read in the papers.'

Speaking of which, if you haven't read what the August 24, 2010 Sauk Centre Herald had to say about Emily Lahr and the butter sculptures: I suggest you look that article up. Turns out that molding a 60-pound block of cheese into a likeness of yourself is part of being involved  in the Princess Kay of the Milky Way competition.

Don't worry: the butter gets recycled as food after it's displayed.

Also from the Herald: as of September 1, Wednesday, it's no smoking anywhere at St. Michael’s Lakeview Medical Clinic. The idea is to help folks be healthier.

Between school starting and the November elections, I feel like I should have some sort of countdown here. It's probably more trouble than it's worth, though

Wednesday, August 25, 2010. I was at the Melrose Clinic yesterday, and finally decided to take a picture of signs they've got in the (new) entrance. Ku soo dhawoow is, so far, the only set of words I know in Somali.

Trilingual greeting at the Melrose clinic. August 23, 2010.

It's nice to know that this country is still a place where folks want to settle.

In the 13 years, two months and some number of days since I launched Brendan's Island: I haven't mentioned Tree Top Nursery. Not once. On the principle of 'better late than never:' Tree Top Nursery and Landscaping has been open in Sauk Centre since 1983. They've changed the look of their place bit since the last time I paid close attention - which is a matter of years now.

Tree Top Nursery & Landscaping: just like the sign says. August 25, 2010.

I've been to Tree Top a few times, on the comparatively rare occasions when we wanted to start a new tree, and will probably go there again. Not that my household's among the great lawn and garden enthusiasts in town.

They've got a pretty good website (, and did a good job with their About Us page. Here are some photos I took of the place today.

Tree Top Nursery's got greenhouses, and a decent amount of signage, on Highway 71 as it curves toward Sauk Lake. August 25, 2010.

The plantings and greenhouses are a growing area for Tree Top Nursery & Landscaping: the building with the green roof's Centre Sports, and that's another topic. August 25, 2010.

The opening day of school is coming - right after Labor Day, I see - so there's a lot of get-ready-for-school activity in the stores. At least, i assume that's the case. We've home schooled our kids from grade seven through 12 (their choice), and aren't required to wait for the official opening: so my son's already hitting the books. Not too hard, though: we'll get down to business more in September.

Sunday, August 22, 2010. Classes start September 7, 2010. Quiet scenes like this will be rarer around the school, after that.

Ball field and playground north of the elementary school. August 20, 2010.

The open land between South 12th and Ace Hardware/Coborns is filling in. At least, I assume that's why earthmoving equipment's been pushing dirt around there.

Ah, the blissful, unchanging serenity of small town life? Nope: We live in the real world, just like everyone else. August 20, 2010.

I'm looking forward to seeing what goes in there. August 21, 2010.

Another sort of tradition was played out over the weekend at the Stearns County Fairgrounds: the MCCL rummage sale. My wife and #3 daughter picked up an item or two there.

Downtown Sauk Centre: flower pots, old-style street lights, and - sometimes - clear skies. August 9, 2010.

Rummage sales - on a smaller scale - run through the months when it's practical to leave your garage door open, and sit outside for a few hours running.

Rummage sales are a common sight. Giant inflatable pink flamingos? Not so much. August 21, 2010.

Families with school-age kids are probably going through the lists of required materials and checking out clothing. My household's getting ready for the school year, too. We're homeschooling, except for band: so we've never really been 'away' from school. It's been more a matter of merging from one school year to the other, over the summer.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010. Thursday evening's storm included tornadoes, one of them near Sauk Centre.

"...The first tornado touched down north of Brooten at 7:35 p.m. Thursday. It was rated EF-1 and followed an east-northeast path over five miles, the NWS reports. It damaged several barns and sheds and blew an empty grain bin for a half-mile, according to the NWS...."
(St. Cloud Times (August 16, 2010))
The Sauk Centre Herald's home page has a photo showing what one set of buildings looked like after the twister rearranged things.

Here are photos from Sauk Centre, of Thursday evening's storm. I'd have had them up on Sunday - but it wasn't until later that I found out about the tornado. Besides, those pelicans looked cool.

The western sky in Sauk Centre, about 7:40: around the time that tornado was moving away from Brooton. August 12, 2010.

All we got here in Sauk Centre's south side was rain. Quite a lot of rain. Can't say that I'm disappointed. August 12, 2010.

Clearing skies after the storm here in Sauk Centre. August 12, 2010, about 8:30 p.m..

As long as I'm doing a sort of retrospective entry, here's something from June 1, 2010: Installation of that new sign at South Ash Street and 12th.

The crew had just gotten the sign upright and more-or-less in place when I took this photo. That's the 'Wal-Mart' stoplights to the right of the crane. June 1, 2010.

One man's operating the crane, the other's pulling the sign into position. June 1, 2010.

A little later, the sign's just about where it's supposed to be. June 1, 2010.

Here we are in the Information Age: and when it comes to a job like this, what works is two guys and a crane pushing and pulling the sign around until they've got it set up straight.

It's been fairly quiet after last week's storms. (August 13, 2010) Hot, at times: but this is Minnesota in August, after all.

School's starting in a little less than two weeks. Or three, depending on what you use as your 'starting time.' The public school's having an open house August 31, with classes starting September 7. Which means that three weeks from now, I'll be seeing high schoolers in cars and elementary kids walking past my north window around 3:00 weekday afternoons.

Sunday, August 15, 2010. I've lived in Sauk Centre since 1986: and never been to Diamond Point, an eatery on the north end of Sauk Lake. I'd have shown these photos Wednesday, but a storm and power outage took precedence. (August 11, 2010) I was up on Bayview Drive Monday, seeing if there was much damage from Saturday's storm - there wasn't much - and took these photos:

Diamond Point's roof and a radio mast are behind the trees. That wooden stair doesn't look like it's been used for years. August 10, 2010.

Diamond Point: and I still haven't been in there. August 9, 2010.

Not Diamond Point: Bailey's Bar is between the eatery and Saukinac Campground. August 9, 2010.

Saukinac Campground, where the Country Music Fest wasn't again this year. August 9, 2010.

By my reckoning, 2008 was the last year we had Country Music Fest up at Saukinac Campground, on the north tip of Sauk Lake. The campground is still very much there, but between free tickets going out and the cost of talent - like $225,000 for two hours of Martina McBride - the folks who run Saukinac couldn't keep the show going. (More at "Post Country Music Fest," The Sauk Centre Herald (June 8, 2010).) But, like I said, the campground is there and open for business.

Downtown Sauk Centre: flower pots, old-style street lights, and - sometimes - clear skies. August 9, 2010.

The motel down at South Main and 12th has new owners. Evy and Jim Schilling bought the place - a Guesthouse International Hotel - in February, they've had it open since at least March of this year, and replaced the palm trees with pelicans.

Guest House, South 12th near Main in Sauk Centre. That's Jim Schilling, walking along the sign. August 11, 2010.

Palms by the door have been deposed by - pelicans? August 11, 2010.

Pelicans. Pelicans and potted plants. That's a table, some chairs and - behind the windows - the indoor poo.. August 11, 2010.

The Schillings are from Pelican Rapids - which helps explain those birds. Besides, I suppose pelicans resonate a bit better with a central Minnesota location than palm trees.

We had another storm, Friday afternoon. There weren't any watches or warnings out, but I'd been following's radar: and a patch of very heavy rain was headed our way. As the edge of the storm went over Sauk Centre, I heard an emergency siren go off: so the family headed for the basement. I called City Hall later. Lightning had struck one of the sirens, setting it off. (August 13, 2010)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010. I drove around the north end of Sauk Lake on Monday, to see if there'd been much damage from Saturday evening's storm. All I found were some sticks in the road leading to Diamond Point (among other things): and those could have been dropped from a truck carrying debris from somebody's pruning job.

Looks like there wasn't too much damage from Saturday's storm. Those sticks in the road might even be from a pruning job, not downed branches. August 9, 2010.

Then, Tuesday morning, while thunder and lightning were putting on a show, the lights went out in my house. A little later, I went out to see what was happening. The traffic lights at the corner of South Ash Street and 12th were working - but downtown was dark, along with the north side along Main, as far as the convenience store, at least.

Folks were paying attention to that temporary stop sign at Sinclair Lewis Avenue and Main. August 10, 2010.

A repair crew on South 2nd, near Main. August 10, 2010.

Lights were out on the north side: Oh, right: and the old Citgo is now a Tesoro station. August 10, 2010.

About the convenience store: It's a Tesoro station now. I don't know what that change took place.

Driving back across the river, I decided to take a photo of the fountain - or, rather, of the statues. The water wasn't running, with no power for the pumps.

So, I swing into the parking lot by the band shell, get the camera lined up, start squeezing the shutter - and the water comes back on.

Power's back on, just before 10:30 a.m. by my clock. August 10, 2010.

By my camera's clock, that photo was taken at 10:29 a.m.

The traffic lights were working, too: and power was on at my place by the time I drove up the driveway.

The traffic light's working, so folks aren't guided by the stop sign now. August 10, 2010.

I've got some more photos, but that'll wait until Sunday. I hope that we won't have any more severe storms before then.

Sunday, August 8, 2010. I think the big event this week, for this area in general, was last night's storm. It started in North Dakota, produced funnel clouds - including a tornado that popped a house apart in Wilkin County - and thundered past Sauk Centre around 9:30 to 10:00 p.m.

I didn't see any lightning bolts, but the sky to the north and northwest was flickering for quite a while, and some of the thunder came close on the heels of its flash.

Lightning north to northwest of South Ash Street and 9th in Sauk Centre, about 9:40 p.m. on August 7, 2010. (Posted earlier today in the Sauk Centre Journal Blog.)

The good news is that - apparently - property damage around here was minimal. At least, nothing got in the regional news. I haven't been around the north end of Sauk Lake since yesterday evening. Folks living there have had two sever storms so far this summer.

The bad news is that at least one person in Wilkin County, near Campbell, Minnesota, is missing a house. Happily, nobody was home when the tornado destroyed the place.

I found some videos of the Wilkin County tornado and posted them in "Tornado Videos: Near Campbell, in Wilkin County, Minnesota," Apathetic Lemming of the North (August 8, 2010).

Wednesday, August 4, 2010. The Stearns County Fair done for the year, stores haven't started stocking back-to-school items yet - or if they have, I missed it - and we've been having gorgeous weather. On the warm side, and humid: but from inside an air-conditioned building it looks gorgeous.

Sauk Centre's streets have a little more sunshine on the sidewalks each year. A tree across the street from my house got one of those orange bands this summer. It hasn't been looking healthy for - well, quite a long time.

Another tree marked for removal. This one was green: but not in the right places; and decay had set in. July 16, 2010.

The same outfit - Hoffman Tree Service & Stump Removal - that hauled off our old willow was back today, to remove that (picturesque?) tree.

Another tree gone: more sunshine on the grass, and more sky for me to see; but I'll miss that misshapen thing. August 4, 2010.

L. N. Kaas, on Main Street, still repairs clocks: and now he's repairing violins, too. I was over there on Monday - there's a bit of a story behind that - and took this photo:

L. N. Kaas Company: clock repair and violin shop. August 2, 2010.

L. N. Kaas's place is closed on Monday, by the way: I was there as his son-in-law, looking for a telephone that worked. There's a bit of a story about that. ("Tree Removal: We've Had Enough Excitement This Summer," Through One Dad's Eye (August 4, 2010))

Sunday, August 1, 2010. The Stearns County Fair is over now. I'll get back to that.

Andy's Wok, downtown, is still closed. (June 30, 2010) A short article in the July 24, 2010, St. Cloud Times said that the owner asked for - and got - more time to correct health code violations. The hearing would have been on the 22nd of last month: now it's scheduled for August 26. The Times said that our downtown Chinese/Mexican restaurant had "seven critical violations" to correct this time. I hope this works out well for Andy's Wok: that's been a colorful part of downtown.

Back to the Stearns County Fair.

Saturday was an almost-perfect day to go: blue sky, fleecy clouds, and bright, hot sun. In the Knights of Columbus Bingo booth I worked up a sweat, picking up those ping pong balls, and calling the numbers. Like I said, an almost-perfect day. I took some photos:

Saturday afternoon at the fair: quite a few families. July 31, 2010.

Model rockets being set up for launch, near the grandstand. July 31, 2010.

This one wasn't the highest flyer, but it put on a good show. July 31, 2010.

Some of the 4H-ers brought models. July 31, 2010.

This display was interactive: pre-digital style. July 31, 2010.

Photo walls: each year. July 31, 2010.

Another model: those cars had simulated crash damage. July 31, 2010.

Model rockets: including, I think, the ones I caught earlier. July 31, 2010.

And: "How to make a Boo-Boo Bunny." July 31, 2010.

Over in another building, rock art.. If the second one from the right looks familiar, it should: It's a sort of replica of Centre Floral, downtown. July 31, 2010.

Flowers. Lots and lots of flowers. July 31, 2010.

The Stearns County Fair is a fund-raising opportunity for community groups like Lions and Knights of Columbus. That's the K. C. Bingo booth, next to the Lions. July 31, 2010.

Here's where I was, between six and eight Saturday evening: Calling numbers for the Bingo games. I've gotten to know that sign on the ceiling pretty well, over the years. July 31, 2010.

Flags, Ferris wheel, and colorful clouds. July 31, 2010.

There were still families on the midway around 8:15 or so when I left, but the crowd was getting to be more teens and young adults. July 31, 2010.

On the off-chance that you haven't had your fill of photos from the fair: I posted 23 more on Thursday, in the Sauk Centre Journal Blog.

Thursday, July 29, 2010. Sometime around midnight, last night, my household lost our Internet connection. Also phone and cable. I'd just wrapped up Wednesday's entry. That was frustrating. By 1:30 a.m., communications were still out - and I decided it was time to sleep.

Sorry about the delay, getting Wednesday's entry out.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010. The Red Carpet, downtown, has been a part of Sauk Centre for decades: it was established before I moved here in 1986. Now, someone has an opportunity to take over a Sauk Centre landmark.

The Red Carpet has been there, next to the Palmer House, since before I moved to Sauk Centre back in 1986. July 26, 2010.

Here's a chance for someone to own a Sauk Centre landmark. July 26, 2010.

All I know, at this point, is what I saw in the window: the owner of the Red Carpet is retiring, and the place is for sale.

Driving to Alexandria this afternoon, I saw several fields ready for harvest. And this one, near the tank farm west of town, where harvest was already happening.

Harvest has started on this field, just west of Sauk Centre. July 28, 2010.

Folks have been setting up the midway and getting exhibit spaces ready for the Stearns County Fair.

Stearns County Fairgrounds. July 27, 2010.

One day to go before the fair opens - and a whole lot of activity at the fairgrounds. July 27, 2010.

Stearns County Fair is a fund-raising opportunity for several local groups: like the VFW, with their parking spaces. July 28, 2010.

I plan to see what's happening at the fair tomorrow. And, probably, Friday. Saturday evening I'm scheduled to help at the Knights of Columbus Bingo booth. I've mentioned the VFW in that photo's caption: the Lions are just west of the K. of C. Bingo booth. Or, looking at it another way, K. of C. has their Bingo game in the east side of the Lions' building.

Sunday, July 25, 2010. A week from now, the Stearns County Fair will be over. I'm just as glad that I don't have to any of the preparation involved for that.

If I'd taken a closer look at that "Serenity Studio" display in the old drugstore window, downtown, I'd have realized that it was just that: a display. Diane Schmiesing's Serenity Studio ( isn't, quite, there.

She's got some of her work displayed in the window, with contact information printed on a card. Pretty good way of making use of an otherwise-empty storefront, I think.

That big "For Sale" sign is for the store itself. Dian Schmiesing's
Serenity Studio phone numbers and an email address are on the smaller card. July 21, 2010.

There's a fairly good range of subjects in the Serenity Studio paintings. July 21, 2010.

Meanwhile, on the other side of Main Street ("The Original Main Street," as it says on the street signs), storefronts south of the Main Street Theatre entrance are boarded up. There's a lot of activity going inside there: I think they're adding an overflow/bad-weather entrance. But then, I thought Serenity Studio had moved in where Winter's drug store used to be: so we'll just have to wait and see.

Sawhorses, ladders: Work in progress on Main Street. July 21, 2010.

The Main Street Theatre folks own those storefronts, where the construction work is happening. July 21, 2010.

I checked the five-day forecast, and see that there's a chance of rain on forecast for Friday. But this is Minnesota, so about all I'm really sure of is that we probably won't have snow.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010. The weekend storm that interrupted the Sinclair Lewis Days celebration made this week's Sauk Centre Herald front page, naturally enough. Folks living around the north end of Sauk Lake had property damage.

I've heard that people working at Pizza Hut, on south Main, looked up and saw a rotating could. This could have been a lot worse.

Gardens didn't, generally, have warning signs when I was growing up. This makes sense, though, I think. July 16, 2010.

Stearns County Fairground. It's going to be busy there, soon. July 19, 2010.

The Stearns County Fair starts a week from today. There's work going on at the fairground, getting things ready.

Electrical work being done, I think, at the Stearns County fairground. July 20, 2010.

It's a good thing I'd seen the fellow working in an electrical box near the base of the pole on the fairgrounds that has a siren on it. When the siren went off - briefly - two times - this afternoon, I wasn't quite as jumpy as I might have been. My guess is that he was testing the system. I checked the weather, anyway.

Sunday, July 18, 2010. Sinclair Lewis Days wound up yesterday, but not quite as planned. The Chamber of Commerce ends the week - most years - with the Sinclair Lewis Days parade and then a street dance downtown. Generally, the weather cooperates. This year, not so much.

By late morning, there weren't many empty spots left on the parade along South Ash Street. July 17, 2010.

A little farther north on Ash, same story. July 17, 2010.

South 6th, between Ash and Main: a few more empty spots. July 17, 2010.

Downtown: not on the parade route. I'll get back to Serenity Studio later. July 17, 2010.

Sauk Lake, the public access near the campground. Some folks out, having fun. July 17, 2010.

Same thing, a closer look. July 17, 2010.

Craft show at Sinclair Lewis Park. July 17, 2010.

More craft show, by the band shell. July 17, 2010.

Crazy Days, downtown. July 17, 2010.

More chairs and blankets set out for the parade, on The Original Main Street, between South 6th and 7th. July 17, 2010.

Back on South Ash Street, near Our Lady of the Angels church: yet more chairs and blankets. July 14, 2010.

So far, the day was about as nice as the Chamber of Commerce could have hoped for. Then, a bit after noon, I started paying very close attention to weather reports.

Clouds, looking northwest from the corner of South Ash and Ninth in Sauk Centre. July 17, 2010, about 1:20 p.m. (from "Tornado Sirens, Hail, and a Parade Coming This Evening," Through One Dad's Eye (July 17, 2010))

Around 2:26, I heard sirens and went to the basement with my family. A bit later, I found this hailstone:

Most of the hailstones were around the size of pea gravel. This was the largest I saw. July 17, 2010. (from "Tornado Sirens, Hail, and a Parade Coming This Evening," Through One Dad's Eye (July 17, 2010))

By 6:00 p.m., our time, the mid-afternoon storm had passed, but another line was coming our way.

(from, used w/o permission)

An hour later, we were getting more rain. The folks who had set chairs, blankets and - in one case - sofas to watch the parade had packed their stuff up and moved on.

(from, used w/o permission)

More about this week's storms:

'It could have been worse,' as the Minnesotan saying goes. A lot worse. Saturday's excitement was the second times sirens had gone off for a tornado warning here in Sauk Centre this week. I haven't heard of property damage: but I could have missed something.

Back to Serenity Studio, downtown.

Serenity Studio, where Winter's Drug used to be: the corner of Sinclair Lewis Avenue and Main, downtown Sauk Centre. July 17, 2010.

There's a new business on the corner of Sinclair Lewis and Main: Serenity Studio. It's where Winter's Drug Store was. That storefront has been empty for a long time. (June 4, 2008) I'm glad to see someone moved in there.

Serenity Studio ( has the art of Diane Schmiesing, of Sauk Centre. Some of her work is "done with the intention of sharing the beauty and the lifestyle" of the people of Migori, Kenya. Which is quite close to Sauk Centre, in one sense.

And that's another topic, for another day.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010. I looked out a west window around 2:00, and saw gray sky. Which was odd, since the trees were in sunlight. Stepping a little closer, I got a look at a somewhat spectacular thunderhead. A little later an Alexandria radio station told of a tornado warning - based on a sighting near Glenwood.

Right around 3:00 p.m. the sirens went off and my wife, kids, and I headed for the basement. I'd gotten some photos by then. After a while the sirens stopped.

The rest of the afternoon was a bit of an anticlimax: but I don't mind one bit. Tornadoes, up close and personal, can be unpleasant.

Here are those photos:

Here it comes: The storm was maybe 20 miles away at this point. July 14, 2010, a bit after 2:00 p.m.

I know these storms are dangerous. There's a beauty to them, too. July 14, 2010, a bit after 2:00 p.m.

Same set of clouds, looking north this time. July 14, 2010, a bit after 2:00 p.m.

Yep. No question about it. There's a storm headed this way. July 14, 2010, a bit after 2:00 p.m.

And there it goes. July 14, 2010, around 3:15 or 3:30 p.m.

Let's see. Spectacular clouds. Tornado warning. Sirens. Lots and lots of rain, but no tornado. There's something else.

Right! Sinclair Lewis Days is under way: and has been since Sunday, the 11th. The festivities wind up this Saturday, with the parade and an 18+ street dance. There's more about Sinclair Lewis Days at the Sauk Centre Chamber of Commerce website.

I'm particularly looking forward to the parade this year. I read in the paper, a few months ago, that they're going back to the old 'Ash Street' route: which will take it right by my house. I plan to be there, myself. If you can't make it, I'm also planning to show the whole thing through my webcam. I'd suggest coming to experience it in person, though: that webcam is vision-only. No sound.

Sunday, July 11, 2010. Sauk Centre, at least the part of the south side where I live, didn't get much more than hail the size of shriveled peas on Saturday. Can't say that I'm disappointed in missing the more interesting weather.

I think that streak across the third brick to our left of the chair leg's base is a hailstone coming down. July 10, 2010, around noon.

Looking south along Ash Street, from near South 9th. Some of the more lively weather was happening behind that dark sky. July 10, 2010, near sunset.

I put more photos, plus some weather data and news from Saturday, in "Minnesota's Saturday Weather Wasn't Boring," on my Apathetic Lemming of the North blog.

The front page of this week's Sauk Centre Herald is an example of why I like living here so much. It's not all good news: like Chris Norgren's accident. On the other hand, that article told about a benefit for Mr. Norgren that was held - yesterday, I see.

The other 'above the fold' story is a feature about Dr. Keith Olson's years here. He came here in 1985, expecting to be the fifth doctor at Lakeview Medical Clinic and St. Michael’s Hospital. It didn't take long before he was there with one other doctor - I'll let you read the rest in the Herald.

Sauk Centre Herald front page. July 6, 2010.

Then, about 2/3 of the bottom half of the front page is about Stroll for Epilepsy, Marie and Gary Nelson, and their grandson Nolan Rock. Young Nolan's got epilepsy. Stroll for Epilepsy is a fundraiser. The article gives the address of their fundraising page: The walk is on August 12, so you've got time to sign up for a donation. No pressure, of course: that's just an idea.

Sauk Centre Herald front page. July 6, 2010.

The Herald's front page isn't like that every week: three articles, two about charitable fundraisers. But I think it's a pretty good reflection of the town. We've got our problems: but folks around here do seem willing to help each other.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010. The emergency sirens went off this afternoon, as usual: it's the regular first-Wednesday-of-the-month test. Here are a few photos, left over from the Fourth.

Sinclair Lewis Park. July 4, 2010.

Now, that's a nice way to spend Independence day. July 4, 2010.

Sinclair Lewis Campground, and the public lake access. July 4, 2010.

This looks like water skiing: except you don't need to work so hard to keep your balance. Or maybe you do. July 4, 2010.

There's a horse show at the fairgrounds this weekend. The Sauk Centre Soo Bahk Do group will be helping out there, mostly behind the scenes.

The fairgrounds has newly-surfaced asphalt roadways now. I'd have taken a photo, but decided that asphalt really isn't all that exciting.

Sunday, July 4, 2010. Independence Day. That 'cheesy' sculpture wasn't in Sauk Centre. The carved block of Wisconsin cheese was on display in New York City two years ago.

The cheese went back to Wisconsin food pantries. July, 2008

The last whizzing, banging, popping and whooshing fireworks are, I hope, fading away as I write this. I don't mind folks celebrating - but I also need sleep.

Folks with this fireworks tent were waving and showing a sign to drivers this afternoon. July 1, 2010.

I suppose the flags downtown will go back into storage now that the Fourth is over. They put on quite a show this year, thanks to the wind.

Flags and wind downtown. Both in large quantities. July 2, 2010.

There aren't all that many bicycles on Main Street. July 2, 2010.

The Sinclair Lewis campground was full - or nearly so - today. This afternoon, at the south end of Sauk Lake, folks were sitting in the shade, on the lake, and at the playground with their kids.

Overcast - and enough wind to discourage mosquitoes. July 4, 2010.

Let's take a closer look. Yep, they're fishing. July 4, 2010.

Red-white-and-blue banners were up in Our Lady of the Angels church this morning.

Our Lady of the Angels church. July 4, 2010.

Which reminds me: L. N. Kaas, on south Main, is repairing violins now. He's built one, too: but I haven't found out if he's selling it or not. Which is an odd gap in my knowledge, considering that he's my father-in-law.

Clock repair - and now violins. That sign on his van reminded me, this morning. July 4, 2010.

There's more - there's always more - but that'll wait until Wednesday.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010. I've enjoyed being outside this week: the weather is just about ideal, plants are still lush and green from the rains, and there's been enough wind to discourage mosquitoes. For the most part.

Clear skies, near-ideal temperatures: it's been a good week. June 29, 2010.

I wasn't happy about one of this week's front-page items from the Sauk Centre Herald. Andy's Wok, downtown, is in trouble with the county health inspector. Again. The place was closed for three weeks last year. The Chinese-Mexican restaurant is closed again. Maybe for good. There's a hearing scheduled for July 22, the paper said: but the outlook for Andy's Wok doesn't look good.

According to the paper, Stearns County Environmental Health Division Director Hank Schreifels said that Andy's Wok's owner, Faxu Lin, "has not demonstrated any ability to comply with the regulations - We've given him many opportunities."

I suppose a person could present what's happening as a case of cultural differences. Americans are picky about food services keeping foods at safe temperatures - and the staff washing their hands.

I've written about Andy's Wok before (June 22 and May 16, April 4, 2008), and the other Chinese restaurant in that location (June 24, 2007) I hope that the owner of Andy's Wok is able to get his ducks in a row where it comes to operating the restaurant - and convince the county Stearns County Environmental Services Department that he's done so. That restaurant has been a colorful part of downtown.

"Caution" tape across the fairgrounds entrances. June 29, 2010.

Meanwhile, a crew is getting the Stearns County Fairgrounds ready for the end of July and the start of the fair.

I don't think that's a shadow (being cast by nothing): It looks like they've repaved that stretch of service road. There's a section with new asphalt at the main entrance, too. June 29, 2010.

The Fourth of July is coming: Sunday. I checked the forecast. This wonderful weather is supposed to last through Friday. Then we're in for a 30% chance of rain, lightning and thunder.

Fireworks for sale at Coborn's. June 30, 2010.

Fireworks displays are up in the stores. On the whole, I'm rather glad that the Minnesota legislature is no longer protecting us from dangerous things like sparklers.

Even if it rains, I'm pretty sure folks will find a way to set off fireworks. Within the limits of Minnesota state law, of course.

Sunday, June 27, 2010. Good news. Debris from the house on South Birch that burned down last September isn't there any more. I haven't been by the lot recently, but the dirt looks fresh. I'm very glad that the mess cleaned up. But not as much as the neighbors, I'd guess.

That's more like it! Debris from last year's fire is finally gone June 27, 2010.

"Before," in early April:

Maybe it'd help, if I looked at this as a sort of modern art sculpture? Unhappily, even as 'found art,' it's an eyesore. April 8, 2010.

It's a week until the Fourth of July. This weekend, someone set up a tent on the parking lot shared by Westport Liquor, Gerards, and other businesses.

A 'fireworks tent' in south Sauk Centre: a sort of tradition. June 27, 2010.

The storms that hit Minnesota this week missed us, for the most part. We got rain, wind, and a bit of lightning: but that was about it. I see on FOX9 News that over 5,000 homes didn't have power today, down in the Metro area. (That's the Minneapolis-St. Paul metropolitan area: "The Metro" takes much less time to say.)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010. I drove around the new(ish) residential areas on the east side of town, across the river, yesterday. There's one lot (at least) that's what would have been called a weed patch when I was growing up. Or, maybe, a patch of wildflowers.

That was then, this is now:

"Native Prairie Planting:" Sounds better than "weed patch, or even "wildflowers." June 22, 2010.

That "Native Prairie Planting" doesn't, to my untrained eye, look all that different from any other patch of open land around here does, after folks stop tilling it for a while. Which isn't too surprising, I suppose. It is a native prairie planting, after all.

Why it's between two residential lots on the east side, I've no idea.

East of town, part way to McCormic Lake. June 22, 2010.

I drove out of town, east, as far as McCormic Lake, hoping to get a picture or two. And see what the land looked like.

It's green: the result of the rain we've been having. Some of which came before I got back.

The vacant lots here are just vacant lots: no special signs to protect the weeds. Or wildflowers. This is maybe one street over from the prairie lot. June 22, 2010.

I see in this week's Sauk Centre Herald that Rick Kleinschmidt's two months into retirement from the Sauk Centre Fire Department: The paper did a feature on him.

On a more serious note, The D-Trading Post and Historic Town, east of Sauk Centre on the Lake Wobegon Trail, is missing three goose decoys. They were taken from a display there. From the Sauk Herald article, I gather that they were last seen on the afternoon of June 10, in the company of two teenagers.

Dick Young, who owns the D-Trading Post and H.T., would like the decoys back. The Herald article said that anybody with information should call the Sauk Centre Police Department ( (320) 351-7022), or the sheriff’s department ((320) 259-3700). I hope those goose decoys get recovered.

Sunday, June 20, 2010. Father's Day. Here's another photo of those flower pots - if that's the right word - hanging on lampposts downtown. I like those spots of color on the street.

The inset picture was taken Monday of this week. Sure brightened up for the weekend, didn't it? June 18, 2010.

I'm giving myself a sort of vacation today, partly because it's Father's Day: so this entry will be a bit on the short side.

Sinclair Lewis Campground: a few spots are still open, but not all that many. June 18, 2010.

I plan to be back Wednesday, with a little more about the Sinclair Lewis Campground on Sauk Lake. They've got a new set of lots opened up this year.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010. Let's see: Monday was Flag Day, and a dim, overcast day. Back in April, I mentioned that a group was going to hang flowers downtown: City funds would pay for the flowers, they'd do the work. I'd figured that my household's share of the cost came to around $1.65. Seeing the results, I think it was well worth it. Actually, you can't see the flowers too well in that photo. I'll try for something better, Sunday.

Friedrichs Oil and Tire, a flag and a flower basket. I took that photo in late morning: and yes, that car's lights are on. June 14, 2010.

I read in this week's Sauk Herald that there's been a transition at the Sinclair station. Bill Friedrichs and Shawn Olson bought the business from their fathers last year. A few facts and dates  from that article: Bill Friedrichs is the third generation of Friedrichs to own the place. Bill's father Jim became the owner in 1979, "taking over for his father, Peanuts, and Bob Friedrichs." Olson became a business partner in 1981. Friedrichs has been a Sinclair station for about 40 years now.

Two generations in the same family is something for a business: Three? That's impressive.

The lot on South Main ("The Original Main Street") that's more-or-less across from the Hillcrest Motel is for sale: as a commercial lot. Even from a strictly utilitarian point of view, I can see why whoever's doing the selling had the placed seeded with grass. My guess is that it's less expensive than paving: makes the lot look more attractive, keeps dust from causing a nuisance, and is easier for the buyer to build on.

We'll see what goes in there.

So that's it: the land's being sold as a commercial lot.. June 14, 2010.

Monday and Tuesday were not sunny days. They were overcast, dark, and distinctly not the sort of thing that photographs well.

Until late Tuesday. Earlier in the day, it'd been raining so hard that the raindrops seemed to be bouncing on the pavement. I'm pretty sure it wasn't hail: just really, really hard rain.

Then, the sky cleared. Not overhead, but off to the west, where the sun was getting ready to set.

Sunshine and rain. June 15, 2010.

I see there's a good chance of rain tomorrow, too. Maybe after that, I'll have a chance at a 'sunshine' shot of those flowers, downtown.

Sunday, June 13, 2010. I ended the last entry with "There's more, but It'll wait until Sunday..." Remember, I didn't say there was much more. I spent most of Friday and Sunday, and all of Saturday, enjoying a visit with our second-oldest daughter and her husband. My wife and I, all three daughters and our son had a good time. That's the good news. The sort-of-bad news is that I don't have much to say about what's happened in Sauk Centre since Wednesday.

However, not having much to say has never kept me from discussing what little I have, so here goes.

"Bring the whole family!" "German Bier (Beer) Garden" - folks who never lived elsewhere may not realize how wonderful it is here. June 6, 2010.

Sauk Centre's German (and Irish) heritage may be part of the explanation for part of that poster. I don't mean "German Picnic" for the title: it's the "Bring the whole family!" and, a few lines down, "German Bier (Beer) Garden." That poster was in Our Lady of the Angels church. Which reminds me: I love this place!

It's not the beer: it's the relaxed acceptance of the beer. Not all communities are quite so willing to let folks enjoy - in moderation - something our ancestors had since before history was written about us. Okay. I'll get off my soapbox now.

The rumors are true: It's summer.

Summer is definitely here. The public dock's in place, near the campground by Sinclair Lewis Park. June 9, 2010.

Back on the soapbox, sort of. I wrote a little about Energy Connection on Wednesday. You remember: the place where the Shake of the week was German Chocolate Cake.

Shake of the week: German Chocolate Cake?! This is not your grandmother's health food store. June 9, 2010.

Right there, you known this isn't one of those colorful health food stores, with stuff you can't pronounce - or recognize. I picked up a sort of brochure there this week: something they get with their Herbalife stuff. There's a little of what I see as 'expert' advice from folks who don't realize that not everybody is that imaginary 'average man/woman/child/human.' Most of it's common-sense advice, though, like 'stop smoking' and 'keep physically active.'

Let's see: The flags are still up downtown; Things like how the Sauk Centre Track Squads did in Moorhead, you can read in the Sauk Centre Herald. That's all I've got for now.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010. Driving along south Ash Street yesterday, I saw a beach ball rolling with the breeze. Where there are balls, there may be kids, so I slowed down and took a look around. No kids in sight, also no other vehicles, so I drew alongside the ball and picked it up.

One brightly-colored ball. June 8, 2010.

I still couldn't see any kids, but I figured that someone might come looking for it. I pulled into a driveway, tucked the ball under a bush where it probably wouldn't be picked up by the breeze again - but where anyone within maybe a half-block could see it. An hour or so later, it was gone. I trust whoever owned the ball recovered it.

There was a brisker wind today. Which explains why Energy Connection had their sidewalk sign inside.

Shake of the week: German Chocolate Cake?! This is not your grandmother's health food store. June 9, 2010.

I've been in 'health food stores' for one reason or another for several decades now. About 40 years ago, the emphasis in the ones I was familiar with were foods with exotic names, like "tiger's milk." And, of course, tofu. Lots and lots of tofu. The philosophy seemed to be 'the weirder, the better.

Maybe places like that are still around.

Energy Connection, though? Their shake of the week is - German Chocolate Cake. This isn't the sixties any more. Can't say that I'm sorry about that. That new eatery apparently has Herbalife products. Well, at least some of the brand names still sound mildly exotic.

This is what was left of Energy Connection's sidewalk display, after the wind hit it. June 9, 2010.

I've walked from the Sinclair Lewis Park parking lot - the one near the band shell - to the fountain many times, and never noticed a small plaque on the ground, near one of the trees.

"In memory of Sandra Barrett, City Deputy Clerk, 1999." June 9, 2010.

Now, that's just plain nice.

Up at the fountain, the 'umbrella statue' is in place, and the water's running. I think this can be taken as a sign that summer is really here.

The fountain's running in Sinclair Lewis Park. The fountain's working fine: it's the wind that's whipping the water toward downtown. June 9, 2010.

There's more, but It'll wait until Sunday. It's late, and I've got a few busy days ahead of me.

Sunday, June 6, 2010. There was going to be a Eucharistic procession today, from Our Lady of the Angels church to St. Paul's. I'd been wondering how it would go, since yesterday the forecast showed a 70% chance of rain. Last night it was down to a 30% chance, and today, when the procession was supposed to begin? See for yourself:

Clear skies, apart from a few fleecy clouds, ideal temperature, no wind to speak of: also no Eucharistic procession. June 6, 2010.

As Father Statz said this morning, "maybe next year." He had quite a cold - and I don't suppose walking to St. Paul's - and back - would have been a terribly good idea. As I said in a blog post, "we're called to holiness - not stupidity."

A week or so ago, I noticed a major sale going on at the Centre Consignments, on south Main. I thought of going in to learn more, but decided to wait until another day. That may not have been my best decision. Another business is in that location now: Techniques, a tattoo/body piercing place, open Saturdays and Sundays.

Techniques: Tattoos while you wait? June 3, 2010.

Downtown, we've got a new eatery: The Energy Connection. Oddly, they don't specialize in espresso and 'energy drinks.' Although you can get several varieties of latte. It's not exactly a 'health food' eatery: When I stopped in, you could get a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup or Snickers. Or a banana split. The emphasis, though, is on food that's got a serious punch of nutrition, and a minimum (or no?) artificial ingredients. I get the idea that if you go there often, the preservative levels in your body will plummet.

The Energy Connection: I think this is the storefront where a video store was. Nice to have a permanent business there. June 1, 2010.

Inside, The Energy Connection looks like a nice sit-down-and-eat place. Or, rather, sit-down-and-drink. A number of their meals are drinkable.

A few tables, a bulletin board that'll probably have more on it when I go there next time, and some folks talking at the counter. June 1, 2010.

Vanilla, Berry Chocolate, Cafe Late, Cookies & Cream: Pretty good variety. June 1, 2010.

That's it for me, today. I've been struggling with an online service - but that's my problem.

I'm also wondering when the 'umbrella statue' is going up at Sinclair Lewis Park. Maybe they got that done over the weekend? I haven't been there since Friday.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010. I definitely have catching up to do. Take Cullligan, for example. They've moved. To the Industrial Park on the west side.

Culligan, Sauk Centre's, new home: country atmosphere, three times the room. June 1, 2010.

They're under new ownership. And they're not just Culligan. It's Sterling Water - Minnesota and Culligan now. The new place has three times the floor area as their old quarters by Classic Auto, near downtown. Sterling Water? I know about sterling silver - but never mind. Culligan is supplying the water for Energy Connection downtown - but I plan to write about them on Sunday.

Culligan's been in the Industrial Park since last August, 2009, and the local outfit's had new ownership since March, 2009.

Like I said, I've got catching up to do.

Also in the Industrial Park, the Advanced Lighting Systems building is mostly used by Dunham Express, a shipping outfit. They're renting - or maybe it was leasing - the offices in front to NASA.

Scenic, isn't it? This is the Advanced Lighting building, where Dunham Express is now. And NASA. June 1, 2010.

This NASA isn't the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. It's NASA, the North American Software Association. The name makes more sense than you might think. The company started out in Belgrade, in 1982. The bank in Belgrade is the North American Bank: and that, sort of, is where the name came from.

North American Software Association has clients in 37 states, so they cover a fair fraction of North America. This NASA moved to Sauk Centre May 7, 2010 - last month.

The offices of NASA - the North American Software Association - here in Sauk Centre, Minnesota. June 1, 2010.

The Sauk Centre NASA provides software for independent insurance agents - bookkeeping, that sort of thing, I understand.

NASA offices - I really like that name. June 1, 2010.

NASA - North American Software Association - (I like that name!) hasn't changed the decor of the office lobby all that much: apart from the fancy lighting displays that went with Advanced Lighting, the room has the same very-contemporary look.

On a personal note, the coaxial cable that gives my house phone, television - and most important for me, Internet connections - got cut this afternoon. Accidentally. It's spliced together again, for which I'm grateful, with a more permanent repair scheduled. That accident gave me a sort of vacation this afternoon, which was nice. But now, I've been getting done what would have been done during the afternoon.

Sunday, May 30, 2010. Memorial Day weekend.

Let's not forget. Memorial Day, 2010.

There's more to Memorial Day, than grilling outdoors (which I did) and getting out on a lake (which quite a few other folks did). I've written about that today, and yesterday, in one of my blogs.

This also is a way of observing Memorial Day. May 29, 2010.

This week's Sauk Centre Herald had a piece about Minnesota's Main Street Program on the front page. I missed the Thursday event - so I'll have to read about it in the paper, next week. My family and I have been coughing less, and breathing through our noses more - so I'm looking forward to getting out more and enjoying this summer.

Mass at Our Lady of the Angels, Memorial Day weekend. May 30, 2010.

More rain came this morning: but it had soaked in by noon, so I was out grilling - and hope to do the same tomorrow. Then, since this is a three-day weekend, Monday will serve concurrently with Tuesday, and business as usual will resume.

I still plan to get out and enjoy the sunshine, though.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010. We had a full rainbow, near sunset yesterday. Toward the north end, it was a double. I posted a couple more photos on the Sauk Centre Journal Blog yesterday.

Rainbow, near sunset: double in a few places. May 25, 2010.

This week's Sauk Centre Herald has a little more detail about that plot of land near the Interstate, where the Chamber of Commerce offices and the Sinclair Lewis Interpretive Center are now. Looks like there will be some strings attached. Or, as the paper put it, "criteria" for whatever outfit buys the property.

Looks like whatever's built there will have to be "for retail commercial purposes only." Also that whatever's going to go there has to start going up within a year of the sale's closing: and get finished two years from closing - with an option for the city council to give the developer some wiggle room. So far, so good, as far as I can see We wouldn't want somebody picking up the property and doing nothing with it. (maybe in hopes that Sauk Centre real estate prices will skyrocket?)

From my point of view, those conditions are good for the city - and, indirectly, everybody who pays city taxes. What came next looks like good news for the Chamber of Commerce and Interpretive Center.

Whoever buys the property is supposed to help the Chamber of Commerce and Sinclair Lewis Foundation relocate. I hope the city council specified some specific - and meaningful - amount. City hall's thinking, though: if the first buyer re-sells the property, those conditions apply to the next seller, too.

I'll admit that I'd been concerned about the Chamber and Interpretive Center. Not as concerned as those folks were, of course. It's still going to be a lot of work and stress: but moving doesn't seem quite so impossible now.

That's more like it: This looks like summer. May 25, 2010.

The weather forecast I saw says it'll be almost disgustingly nice weather, right up to Sunday, when we may have some rain, lightning and thunder. About a one in three chance, anyway.

Still, it looks like we'll have a nice Memorial Day weekend. The (City Street Department, I think it is) has flags up on Sinclair Lewis Avenue and Main ("The Original Main Street," I should say).

Two days to go before Memorial Day weekend: and the flags are already up. May 26, 2010.

The Sauk Herald has a nice writeup on Father Sylvester Kleinschmidt, who'll soon be celebrating 60 years in the priesthood. The article tells how a young Sylvester Kleinschmidt got the idea of becoming a priest when a priest came to bless his family's farm. There'll be a special Mass with him a week from tomorrow, June 3. Two other priests in town celebrate their 25th and 26th anniversaries of ordination, on June 1 and 2. It's going to be a busy week.

Sunday, May 23, 2010. One more week, and it's Memorial Day weekend: the unofficial beginning of summer. Between thunderstorms last night and a warm and humid day, it already feels like the warm season.

Another photo from that band concert. Some outstanding seniors were recognized. May 17, 2010.

That dreary succession of rainy days had at least one good effect: The lawns in town are magazine-cover green. The weeds in our yard were flourishing, until we gave the lawn a somewhat-overdue spraying. The trick now will be to mow the yard - or wait a little while, and harvest the hay. I think we'll opt for mowing.

Each time I see that sign, I think of 'take out' food - but that's not what they mean. May 19, 2010.

The Wal-Mart Superstore on the south side of town has been open a for a little more than three years now. (April 18, 2007) Some of my more earnest and serious online acquaintances were convinced that Wal-Mart would "destroy" this small town. Hasn't happened so far. On the other hand, we've got another employer in town - that's drawing folks in from the Interstate.

I'll say this, though: our Wal-Mart doesn't look like those 19th century pictures of 'Small Town America' you see now and then.

Small town America, 2010: a Wal-Mart superstore is part of this small town: Not exactly the Currier and Ives look, but it works. May 19, 2010.

I didn't know what to expect when I saw that headline on this week's Sauk Centre Herald front page: "Gimse's bill could help local police with immigration." The bottom line seems to be that there may be an opportunity for Sauk Centre's police to take a four-week federal program in how to work with Federal Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) officials. Sounds like a reasonable idea. I opined about that, and related topics, in one of my blogs. (A Catholic Citizen in America (May 18, 2010))

Our Lady of the Angels church: I've got a few words about the financial situation elsewhere. (A Catholic Citizen in America (May 23, 2010))

Today's evening thunderstorms are moving away from us - can't say that I mind having missed them. We had a bit of a light show around 2:00 this morning: which I slept through. I got a report of them from my oldest daughter: who was up then, dealing with a cold.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010. The big deal for me, so far this week, was the high school band concert, Monday night. My son's in one of the bands, you see.

This year they tried something a little different: a massed band, with all the high school bands playing at once. Someone had arranged some of the pieces so the younger members could join in. Besides the bands, there was flag-waving going on in the aisles: with the house lights on so we could see what was happening.

I'm pretty sure it's not called "flag-waving:" but you see what I mean:

Massed high school bands and banners. May 17, 2010.

The householder who set up a sort of wooden sculpture garden in his front yard, back in 2006, started another project. Here's what the place, on State Road near the school, looked like yesterday. It's unconventional - but I like what I see developing there.

Someone's doing major work on their yard. May 18, 2010.

I walked down to Wall-Mart today, to get a printer cartridge. It was the sort of day that seems to make up for that long dreary run of rain we had. We needed the water - but day in, day out: for that long?

Oh, well. Today was bright, clear, warm, just enough wind to let you know you're outside.

Lilacs by Lake Wobegon Trail, near Ash Street. May 19, 2010.

Nice, isn't it?

There's more, including an item or two I read in the paper: but that'll all wait for Sunday.

Sunday, May 16, 2010. Fishing season has started - a few of Minnesota's many fishing seasons, actually. I wrote a little about that yesterday, in my Apathetic Lemming of the North blog - and linked to the MN DNR's list of this year's seasons.

The head cold - or allergies - or whatever it was - that had me sleeping through most of Tuesday and 'way below par the rest of the week is gone. Maybe it was the weather. That long , drawn-out, dank, dreary drizzling rain ended - giving us a fine 'fishing opener.' Oh, right: I already mentioned that.

Another week, another Sauk Centre Herald. May 11, 2010.

This week, generally, it's like Will Rogers said: "I only know what I read in the newspaper." That headline story about our health system caught my eye. One example of the "integrated" health system was a suggested merger of St. Michael's Hospital, Lakeview Clinic, and St. Michael's Nursing Home.

They'd still be three facilities - but they'd be financed and run as one unit. Makes sense, the way it was put in the paper.

I learned that St. Mike's Hospital and Nursing Home are owned by the city, and the clinic is owned by the attending doctors.

Whatever happens won't be done for a while, it looks like. Just as well, I think: That gives folks time to think over the alternatives. I'm just glad I'm not in a final decision-making position for this. No matter what's done, someone's not going to like it.

All that time that the skies were leaking over Minnesota, it wasn't just the sunshine that I missed. When trees and people don't cast shadows, there's something missing from the scene.

Well, we got our shadows back in time for the weekend.

Rummage sale and - sunshine!. May 14, 2010.

Memorial Day is coming up, a sort of unofficial mark of the beginning of summer. Another summer feature is already here: rummage sales.

Thursday, May 13, 2010. Before anything else: Have you seen this cat? The poster in Coborn's grocery didn't give the name, but someone obviously wants this black and white cat back.

May 12, 2010.

The family I grew up in had cats: They're fine creatures, by and large. May 12, 2010.

Coborn's has bright yellow "Sauk Centre" T-Shirts. They come in orange and light blue, too. I don't remember seeing those before.

Sauk Centre, an All-American town. Well, we're entirely within the 48 contiguous states. That's not what it means, of course. May 12, 2010.

It's been raining. Also drizzling, dripping, and then raining again. Followed by more rain. Also dull, dreary, dank clouds oozing across a viscous sky.

On a cheerier note, yards in town are green and flowers are budding: Some have started blooming.

Lilacs. May 10, 2010.

I hope to be back Sunday night, with a more complete entry.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010. Sorry about this: I came down with something late Monday, slept most of Tuesday, and thought I'd have a Sauk Centre Journal entry done today. I was wrong.

I hope you'll bear with me: There should be something here, by late Thursday. That's what I'm planning, anyway.

Sunday, May 9, 2010. Mother's Day. A little rain, a little snow, a little more rain: It was a pretty good weekend, anyway.

Agribusiness is a big deal around here: You'll see sprayers like this, livestock trucks, flatbeds with hay bales downtown. May 6, 2010.

I goofed, back on April 28, 2010. I said that Marc'ette Floral was adding a bed and breakfast to their operation. Bed, yes. Breakfast? Not so much.

This sign, in Marc'ette Floral, just about says it all. May 6, 2010.

This is about as close as Marc'ette Place will get to being a bed and breakfast, it looks like. May 6, 2010.

All that rain - and snow - got the grass growing. Also a marvelous assortment of - ah, wildflowers - on the berm in front of my house. Actually, much of the front yard is not just grass. The volunteer growth is thickest were Ash Street Project dug up the soil.

Along the berm, it's so thick I'm tempted to claim tat the area is a botanical diversity project, and say that we mustn't disturb this yard.

Fire hydrant and - a weed, or a wildflower: depending on how you look at it. May 6, 2010.

Dandelions: There always seem to be dandelions. May 6, 2010.

So, we're spraying this year.

It's not all weeds, of course.

Lilac flower buds. May 6, 2010.

I had a good time at a family get-together this weekend. I hope you had a good Mother's Day weekend, too.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010. The sirens went off today, right on schedule, just like they do on the first Wednesday of each month. I did a little checking, and found that quite a bit of the Wikipedia article on "Civil Defense" sirens for America was - several decades out of date. That was a groovy trip down memory lane for me.

Here's information that's from this century: "Preparing for tornadoes and severe storms," Severe Weather Awareness, Minnesota Department of Public Safety, Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. I've glanced over it, and intend to read it later. There's a pretty good description of what to listen for - and when to head for shelter instead of listening.

I haven't heard what happened at the corner of Ash and South 12th, near Wal-Mart, yesterday afternoon. A fair portion of the Sauk Centre Fire Department was out, along with police and at least one wrecker. I'd have gone in asked what happened, but something in the manner with which I was waved off told me that the emergency responders were as focused as they looked.

It took a while to untangle that accident at Ash and South 12th. May 4, 2010.

Which isn't to say that Minnesota is doing entirely well. I checked, and as of Tuesday, the Arrowhead region could still use more water.

I haven't heard what happened at the corner of Ash and South 12th, near Wal-Mart, yesterday afternoon. A fair portion of the Sauk Centre Fire Department was out, along with police and at least one wrecker. I'd have gone in asked what happened, but something in the manner with which I was waved off told me that the emergency responders were as focused as they looked. May 5, 2010
April showers bring May snowfall - in Minnesota. May 5, 2010.

Toward the end of the day, today, rain falling on my window was freezing. I checked, and: sure enough. We're likely to have snow Friday.

I'll say this for Minnesota: Our weather is not boring.

Sunday, May 3, 2010. We've gotten more of those "April showers that bring May flowers." Can't say that I really enjoy this sort of weather: but it photographs fairly well: and I haven't seen that "fire weather" announcement for a while.

One of the first steps is setting out those barrels. This was a mile or three west of Melrose on I94, eastbound. April 29, 2010.

Which isn't to say that Minnesota is doing entirely well. I checked, and as of Tuesday, the Arrowhead region could still use more water.

More from the Sauk Centre Herald: As of April 21, there's been a Life Link III base in Alexandria. Before that, it seems the closest one was in St. Cloud. That should reduce the time it takes to get a helicopter to someone who urgently needs medical help, and get that person to "definitive care," as the article put it.

Life Link base in Alexandria: definitely front page news. April 27, 2010.

Another, less vital, item caught my eye: the Sinclair Lewis Day parade is going back to it's old route. We had it on the west side of town for the last two years, to accommodate the Ash Street Project. I'm rather glad it's back on the old route: not so much because of hallowed tradition, though. I live on the old route, and enjoyed watching the parade go by, without having to go far.

Besides, this way I should be able to show the parade in streaming video, on the Small Town America: Minnesota webcam.

The Marian garden, by Our Lady of the Angels church: A nice place. April 30, 2010.

I've been able to walk more lately. Sauk Centre's new Ash Street sidewalks make that easier. One day, I walked to Wal-Mart. Don't get me wrong: I trust my neighbors, but I enjoy walking a little more when there's a curb between me and vehicular traffic. It works both ways: When I'm driving, I'm more comfortable when there aren't pedestrians sharing the lane with me.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010. That median project on Interstate 94, between Sauk Centre and Albany (roughly) got started this week. (More in the Sauk Centre Journal Blog, April 18, 2010) It's like the old joke says. Minnesota has four seasons: fall, winter, spring and road work.

One of the first steps is setting out those barrels. This was a mile or three west of Melrose on I94, eastbound. April 26, 2010.

Aside from observing that we've been having (mostly) clear weather, most of what I know about what's happened in Sauk Centre during the last several days is 'what I read in the papers.'

Like the bear that police escorted out of town. That was April 20, 2010: a week ago yesterday. This week's Sauk Centre Herald said that the bear was spotted around Fairlane Drive: which isn't all that far from where I live.

The bruin crossed Main Street, and kept heading westward, more or less. The next location mentioned in the article was the corner of Center Street and the Beltline Road, where police picked up the bear's trail. The critter kept heading west, toward the Interstate.

Then there's Marc'ette Floral, on South 6th and Main. They got a "conditional use permit" that'll let Marc'ette Floral add a bed and breakfast to their operation. The floral and gift shop is in a big add-on to an old brick house: and my understanding is that the 'house' part hasn't been rebuilt all that much. I'm looking forward to seeing what M.F. does with their expansion.

Then there's the group that's going to hang flowers downtown, in baskets about 10 feet off the pavement. It's 'our tax dollars at work' for at least some of the materials - but it sounds like the labor is volunteers.

The price tag is about $1,650: or maybe a fraction of that. I figure that if the expense is spread evenly among Sauk Centre residents, my household's share of the costs will be about $1.65. I think we can handle that.

And like the Herald article said, it'll "spruce up" downtown Sauk Centre. Melrose has had flower pots set out along some of their streets for years. It's not exactly practical: but they look nice.unday, April 25, 2010. Quite a few people were at Coborn's around this weekend: as usual. They had two opportunities to help others in this area.

The Sauk Centre Lions Club had a 'filling the pantry' stand up. It's a way for people to help with the 'food shelf' here.

About $6, and you get to help someone. April 23, 2010.

Then there's what the Knights of Columbus council has been calling our annual "Tootsie Roll" fundraiser. We're encouraged to call it a "Campaign for People with Intellectual Disabilities," which is a good idea. On the other hand, that's a mouthful: and it'd take a long time to get folks used to the new name. There's no official connection between the Tootsie Roll company and Knights of Columbus, except that they print up special wrappers for the half-ounce Tootsie Rolls we give away.

I was at Coborn's yesterday afternoon, and quite a few people were nice enough to hand back some money for developmental disabilities programs.

Knights of Columbus 'Tootsie Roll' drive. April 23, 2010.

Folks here in Minnesota are known for talking about the weather. A lot. I'm not surprised. Agriculture is a big deal around here: and getting the right weather at the right time is vital.

Never mind "right." We'll settle for "it'll do" weather. It's been raining, not heavily but steadily, this weekend. For which I'm duly grateful.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010. It was still 'shirtsleeve' weather today: provided you're comfortable with about 60° Fahrenheit. Tomorrow is Earth Day #40, by the way. I've been commemorating the event by discussing lint in one of my blogs. Don't laugh: the stuff can be useful; or dangerous. Depends on what you do with it.

Recycling? Yeah: we do that. A practical patch of color on Lake Wobegon Trail. April 20, 2010.

The Sauk River and a few back yards, from Lake Wobegon Trail. We've got it pretty good here. April 20, 2010.

Apart from a happily-non-fatal head-on collision (early Friday morning), nothing particularly Earth-shaking has happened in Sauk Centre since Sunday. Which is fine by me.

Not yet, anyway. The proposed sale of land that the Interpretive Center is on, down by I-94, was in the Sauk Centre Herald again. I wrote about that back on March 31, 2010. This week's Herald article had some numbers to back up the idea that putting something commercial there would be a good idea for Sauk Centre.

Don't get me wrong: I'll miss that little park and the Interpretive Center. They're part of the Sauk Centre that I've known for years.

Sauk Centre Interpretive Center
Park at the Interpretive Center. Probably summer, 2002.

But there's more to Sauk Centre than memories.

I knew that quite a few vehicles on I-94 drive past Sauk Centre each year. This week's Herald gave some numbers:

Over 7,000,000 vehicles drive by each year. Some of them turn off to see the Interpretive Center, or use the park. It's not too crazy to assume that more would come off the Interstate if there were a commercial facility on those four acres.

That article pointed out that if an additional 0.5% of that 7,000,000-plus traffic came up the ramps, that'd mean almost 40,000 more cars (vans, trucks, whatever) on the south side of Sauk Centre. Once they were off the Interstate, I suspect that the 100,000 or so folks might drive a little farther along "The Original Main Street" - and we've got a pretty nice downtown, these days.

Just a thought.

That still leaves the Interpretive Center (and Little Red Schoolhouse) looking for a new home: and nothing in the budget for a move. The Chamber of Commerce offices are in the same building. I suggested something like passing the hat to raise money, back on March 31, 2010. Here's the address of the Interpretive Center outfit again:

Sinclair Lewis Foundation
PO Box 25
Sauk Centre, MN 56378

As I write then, no pressure.

Oh, boy. Everybody wants money. I'm a member of the Knights of Columbus, and the rest of this Sauk Centre Journal will be about our upcoming fundraiser. Feel free to stop reading.

Still with me? Thanks! The Knights of Columbus is having their yearly "Tootsie Roll" fundraiser. I plan to be helping out at Coborn's this Saturday, after noon. The national Knights of Columbus organization recommends that we call it a "Campaign for People with Intellectual Disabilities" instead of "Tootsie Roll Drive."

Makes sense, in a way: There's no official connection between Tootsie Roll and the K. of C. - The Sauk Centre Knights have offered Tootsie Roll bars in appreciation for donations of whatever amount. So do quite a few other councils. But some have other ways of expressing their gratitude.

Now, about that "People with Intellectual Disabilities" title. The Knights of Columbus, national, discusses what we do and where that term comes from on their website: "Addressing People with Intellectual Disabilities."

That's it. I'll get off the soapbox now. I plan to be back with another Sauk Centre Journal entry, Sunday night.

Sunday, April 18, 2010. We've been having wonderful weather lately: clear blue skies, warm(ish) winds, lots of sunshine. That's probably why so much of Minnesota, north of here, had a 'Fire Weather Warning' a few days ago.

The 'other' specialty coffee shop in Sauk Centre. April 14, 2010.

I mention Jitters Java, the specialty coffee shop near downtown, from time to time. There's another place where you can get specialty coffees, too: The Main Street Coffee Company, on Main near the corner of 6th, across the street from Marc'ette Floral. Main Street Coffee Company is quite a combination: They've got specialty coffees (and that "famous bread pudding" you see on the sign) and a few tables. There's an antique store integrated with the coffee shop: and it looks like they rent bikes. That last actually makes sense: They're close to Lake Wobegon Trail.

Sauk Lake. Waves. Another month or so, and most of this view will be obscured by leaves. April 15, 2010.

I haven't run into many daft ducks this year. The fact is, I've never actually run into - or over- a duck. But a few addled avians have had close calls in front of my vehicles.

A duck following a drake. Both apparently oblivious to everything but each other. Lovely, romantic, and a traffic hazard. April 15, 2010.

One of Sauk Centre's more decorative front yards, during spring cleaning. April 15, 2010.

One of my favorite front yards in Sauk Centre is on the north side. I've made a point of driving by, at least a few times a year, to enjoy the view. Last week I found out a little more about the place. Apparently the same person has been living there for about 40 years, adding to and adjusting that remarkable collage bit by bit.

The yard was in the middle of what I'll call 'spring cleaning' when I took a look last week. I was assured that it'll look better when the job's done.

A pair of peacock statues moved in last fall. I plan to be back later, when the place is more presentable.

Main Street, Sauk Centre, looking north from Lake Wobegon Trail. April 18, 2010.

Here's something I read in the St. Cloud Times online edition:

"Safety project to cause I-94 lane closures"
St. Cloud Times (April 17, 2010)

"Motorists will encounter lane closures beginning Monday on Interstate Highway 94 while a 17-mile median guard rail is installed between Sauk Centre and Albany...."

There's a little more: like how much it's expected to cost ($1,800,000) and just where it is (I 94 from Stearns County Road 186 to just west of County Road 157). The important part, for most of us, is that the project should be finished by the end of July

That's "weather permitting," as the St. Cloud Times put it.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010. Vocational Biographies' main office has been down the block from Marc'ette Floral on 6th Street South for longer than I've lived in Sauk Centre. I worked there for about 20 years, and was impressed by the mansion that's hidden under commercial remodeling - which pre-dates Vocational Biographies' ownership of the place.

I think the original house could be called 'Victorian' - but I'm no expert.

Anyway, the building's for sale.

More than two decades on 6th Street South. April 13, 2010.

I hope someone - or some organization - buys the place. The original curved glass windows are still in the ground floor 'tower' windows: You get the idea.

Vocational Biographies? They're not going anywhere. Well, actually, they are: the company's moving its operations to a smaller place. Where, I don't know.

I see in the paper that the Sauk Centre School District is looking at about a quarter-million budget cut. Not good news, no matter how you slice it.

Scanning for - something. April 13, 2010.

Meanwhile, it looks like the sidewalk on 9th Street South betweent he school and Ash Street may get widened. That's going to be a job: There's at least one masonry (I think that's the word) wall in the way: and if they establish a sidewalk on the south side of the street, there's a little matter of a power pole. We'll see what happens.

This week's Sauk Centre Herald gave a sort of 'heads-up' on the third business and community meeting tomorrow night. It'll be at 7:00 p.m., in Jitters Java.

Here's a sample of notes from an earlier meeting, on the pillar in Jitters Java. April 7, 2010.

I don't know that I'd want to suggest commissioning a bronze head of Sinclair Lewis right now, with a quarter-million dollar hole in the school budget and what looks like another not-exactly-minor public works project coming up. But it doesn't hurt to think about something like that.

Nice. A like touches like this in a yard. April 8, 2010.

Meanwhile, like the sign on that umbrella says, "April showers bring May flowers." And we've been getting some of those showers this week.

Sunday, April 11, 2010. It's Divine Mercy Sunday, which is a fairly big deal for my household. It's also been a beautiful day: which made grilling burgers for lunch a great deal easier and more comfortable than it is in winter.

"Springtime, Minnesota style" is starting to look more like the conventional idea of spring: some of the grass has been turning green, and the lilac in our front yard is starting to bud.

Sure, this happens every year: but it's nice to see again. April 8, 2010.

On the other hand, snow is no longer covering that lot on south Birch where a house burned down: and the wreckage is still there, for the most part. Sooner or later it's going to get cleared away: I hope the interested parties figure out who's going to pay the bill for that job soon. I try to see beauty in everything: but this one's a real challenge.

Maybe it'd help, if I looked at this as a sort of modern art sculpture? Unhappily, even as 'found art,' it's an eyesore. April 8, 2010.

I took a walk on Thursday.

I don't do 'New Year resolutions,' but I plan to get out more this year, than I have in a while. Wouldn't take much.

Anyway, on my way back home, I stopped in at the Marian garden by Our Lady of the Angels church.

Yeah: This is more like it. Marian garden by Our Lady of the Angels church. April 8, 2010.

That garden is a great place to stop, sit, and think. Or pray. Or meditate. Or just be calm. It's a rather sheltered spot, between buildings, so the grass actually is greener on the other side of that particular fence.

A bit of green, by the walk. April 8, 2010.

I'm not sure if this is quite a 'sign of spring' - but one of the neighbors has a motorcycle for sale. I'll admit I took a look - but someone else can have the pleasure of being its next owner.

Motorcycle for sale on south Ash: Looks pretty good. April 11, 2010.

One thing I've noticed, after the Ash Street Project and Dutch Elm disease took out quite a few trees in my part of Sauk Centre, is that there's a whole lot more sunshine on the ground. Right now, that's great. Around July and August? Maybe not so much. Oh, well: That's moths away.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010. That's yesterday's sunset. One of the advantages to losing the trees in our front yard is that we have a much better view of the sky. That, and the comforting knowledge that they won't fall on somebody. Those trick trees were surprises. (June 15, 2008, June 13, 2008 in Through One Dad's Eye)

This sunset covered the sky at one point. April 6, 2010.

I see in the paper that Congressman Colin Peterson says he'll support the Valley Forge Village on the Home School site. I've written about that before. And was pretty intense about it. I wrote an explanation of my views in the Sauk Centre Journal Blog. (March 7, 2010)

I think even I could take adequate care of that flower. April 7, 2010.

Meanwhile, Freeport is building a new water tower. The one with the smiley face will soon be history. I read in this week's Sauk Centre Herald that there's a discussion happening about whether the new tower should have another smiley face.

I hope they keep that tradition. I know it isn't the drearily somber sort of thing that terminally serious citizens think is properly dull and conventional for civic projects. But that cheery smile has been a familiar part of that part of the Interstate for decades.

Plus, it's a big part of the reason why I got off at that exit one time, and took a look around Freeport's downtown. My guess is that I'm not the only one who's done that - for the same reason.

But, it's their town. I hope they keep 'smiley,' though.

Sign of the season to come: lemonade. April 7, 2010.

I had a cup - two, actually - of coffee at Jitters Java this afternoon. Sauk Centre has two specialty coffee shops - the other one is a charming place farther south on Main, Main Street Coffee Company. It's a fine place, too: but I like the 'retro metro' look of Jitters.

The point I was wandering toward was that I saw a collection can near the door of Jitters Java. Chris Norgren (Class of 1975) had a serious accident - and besides medical expenses, he's got modifications that need to be made to his home. The Herald had an article about him last November.

Money isn't everything: but it sure is important when you don't have quite enough to cover necessary expenses. This isn't exactly 'passing the hat' - but it's the same idea. I hope folks pitch in. And I'm pretty sure we will.

Hard to miss: I hope. April 7, 2010.

There's a "secret" benefit for Chris Norgren coming up March 20. Some 'surprise' - the announcement is online. I think the folks were having fun with that: good idea, I'd say. The benefit apparently is March 20, 2010 at the Mora Events Center in Mora, MN. The announcement says to go to Chris Norgren's Facebook page and provides a link - but you'd need to be on Facebook to log in.

I'm a member, but my guess is that are at least a few people in America who aren't.

I'm going into this much detail, because I think Mr. Norgren can use the help. Being paralyzed from the neck down is no fun - and wondering where the money for a house refit, wheelchair, and all the rest will come from doesn't help.

Chris Norgren and his son Pete were working on a deer stand when he fell - there's more detail on that can.

Sunday, April 4, 2010. Easter Sunday. I hope yours was blessed. Easter - Holy Week generally - is a pretty big deal for many families in Sauk Centre. Including mine. Just about the only places I've been since Wednesday have been church, the back yard grilling burgers, and Coborn's to get groceries.

That stone, with the names of folks who contributed to the Marian Garden by Our Lady of the Angels church, may be the 'final touch.' April 1, 2010.

Holy Thursday at Our Lady of the Angels church. April 1, 2010.

Aside from Our Lady of the Angels church getting two new 'blessing angels,' I'm pretty much clueless about what's been going on around town. I'll start catching up tomorrow, though.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010. I think spring is here for real. Of course, this is Minnesota: and it wouldn't be unheard of for us to get some more snow. Not terribly likely, though.

You may remember this photo, taken about two weeks ago, and shown in the March 21, 2010, entry. March 18, 2010.

Same scene, just over 10 days later. There's a little of the snow left: but not much. March 29, 2010.

I don't know that it's a sign of spring: but Sauk Centre has reminders out near several crosswalks. It's a state law to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks. It's also a good idea, I think. Almost all of us are pedestrians now and again: and if we don't stop when we're driving, how can we expect drivers to stop when we're walking? Or rolling, as the case may be.

Hard to miss: I hope. March 29, 2010.

There's the flip side, of course: Sauk Centre is still small enough for folks to think jaywalking is a good idea. I haven't had any near misses yet this year: but I haven't been out as much as I have been some previous years. Me? I've jaywalked a few times: but these days I think the benefit/risk ratio favors using the crosswalk. I haven't had the experience, but I'd think it would be downright inconvenient to get punted by a car.

The street sweepers are out: those Elgin units have been going up and down the streets in my neighborhood, dealing with a winter's worth of sand and grit.

An Elgin street sweeper, roaring along. March 31, 2010.

This week's Sauk Centre Herald has an article about the Sinclair Lewis Foundation: "Left in Limbo?" That building down by the Interstate has been their home since before my family moved to town, some two decades back. Since the city has decided to sell the land, they need to move.

So does the Chamber of Commerce.

The Sinclair Lewis Foundation is in a pickle. They doesn't have a backup facility to move into. And they don't have enough money to move, anyway. That Interpretive Center isn't the sort of thing you can pack up and move in the back of a pickup.

The Herald's opening sentence was suitably dramatic: "The city council's decision to sell the land that houses the Interpretive Center has drawn the ire of some who think preservation of history is more important than financial growth."

I'm going out on a limb a little with this, but here's a thought: Instead of just getting irate, how about doing something about the situation? From what I read, the really big issue is that the S.L.F. doesn't have enough money to cover moving.

Helping them to get the interpretive center set up somewhere else isn't, I think, quite the same sort of priority as the Haiti fundraisers earlier this year were. But the way we gave to help Haiti survivors demonstrated that folks in this area can pitch in when there's a need.

Moving is expensive, but a little upwards of 4,000 people live in Sauk Centre. and if each of us gave, on average, a few dollars - you get the idea.

I checked earlier today, and this is the current mailing address for the Sinclair Lewis Foundation. As far as I know, they haven't started passing the hat: but maybe you could help get them started.

Sinclair Lewis Foundation
PO Box 25
Sauk Centre, MN 56378

No pressure, but I can think of worse ways to spend a few bucks.

The Chamber of Commerce has to move, too. Not this week, but I'd be surprised if that property isn't sold before too many months pass. The Chamber of Commerce may not be in quite the same fix that the S.L.F. folks are in: but they've had a really nice location there, and probably won't get the sort of walk-in traffic they've had after they move. That's too bad, because I think they've done a pretty good job of letting folks coming into town know what visitors can do, besides drive straight through.

I'll get off my soapbox now. And like I said, no pressure.

Sunday, March 28, 2010. Palm Sunday: the start of Holy Week. For my household, this is a pretty big deal. It's been a pretty big weekend for us, too: we had the Easter family get-together here on Saturday.

It's also getting close to 'tax time:' April 15. I'm still getting over my marathon preparation session last weekend.

Good news, in the Sauk Centre Herald. From my point of view, anyway. The city council gave that veterans facility the okay to use the old Home School property on Sauk Centre's north side. I've written about this before.

The other item in the paper is probably good news, but I've got mixed feelings about it. Looks like the city's selling that 4.1-acre parcel of land that the Sinclair Lewis Interpretive Center is on. Chamber of Commerce offices are there, too: and I suppose it's the land that the park and the 'little red schoolhouse' is on, too.

I'll be sorry to see that picnic area go, and hope that the Chamber and the historical displays find good homes: but I've got to admit that it makes a whole lot of sense to let that land be developed for something commercial.

Meanwhile, it's springtime, Minnesota style: I need to get out tomorrow anyway, and plan to check around to see if there's snow left on the ground in spots. Some of those piles were big.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010. Okay, so the Streeters didn't come out first at state. I wasn't there, so what I know is what I read in the papers. If you live in Sauk Centre, you've probably read what the Sauk Centre Herald had to say. There's a pretty good write-up in the St. Cloud Times, too, dated March 18, 2010.

Sure, it would have been nice to come out first in the Class 2A state tournament. But in my book, getting from the gym at Sauk Centre High School to Williams Arena? For the first time? Yeah, I'd say that was a big deal.

Let's take a closer look at that sign. March 24, 2010.

I like that. March 24, 2010.

Meanwhile, winter has been melting. The flowers in one yard on the north side are already in full bloom. Of course, they were all winter, too. They're "permanent" flowers. That kind I think even I could take care of.

This is one of my favorite front yards: it's enthusiastic. March 24, 2010.

At least one household is going through the annual rite of putting screens on the windows.

Sure sign of spring: screens propped against the wall. March 24, 2010.

Last week I wrote about small town America's image as a sort of Brigadoon, idyllic islands untouched by reality. There's a sort of flip side of that stereotype: Small town America as cesspools of hatred, ignorance, prejudice, and inadequate dental hygiene.

Mayberry, RFD and Harper Valley PTA are pretty good examples of those two views of the sort of place I call home. Do I really need to say it? Neither one is particularly accurate.

I've written about this before, in the Sauk Centre Journal Blog: "Small Town America: Beyond the Tom Sawyer Clones" (December 10, 2009) and "Thucydides, Al Tingley, Myth and Me" (September 2, 2009).

I don't know about 'gritty reality,' but we do have large pressure tanks in odd places. That's somebody's house, behind the tank. March 24, 2010.

Also a week ago, I wrote about contemporary technology and small town America. We're fairly up-to-speed, actually, when it comes to our infrastructure. What we don't have, generally, is Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, or Von Maur stores. I suppose that contributes to the impression some folks have, of small towns being backward.

Sauk Centre, however, does have a WalMart supercenter. Which isn't quite the same thing. And Meads, downtown, is a pretty good clothing store.

Marian garden, Our Lady of the Angels church. March 24, 2010.

Technology is important: but I think the folks who live in towns are what make the difference. We're not Tom Sawyer clones, here in small town America: which is just as well. He wasn't real..

Sunday, March 21, 2010. April 15 is coming up, and I've been scrambling to collect and organize the tax information that I'm responsible for. On Friday, I thought I still had nine days. That afternoon my wife reminded me that I had to have everything ready. By the morning of the 22nd.

Well, I was only off by one week. It's been a crazy weekend: but I'm pretty sure I'll have everything ready by sunrise.

Normally, I'd write about a thing or three that I'd noticed in or around Sauk Centre since the last entry. I hope you'll settle for some photos. That's about all I've got. I should have my ducks in a row by Wednesday. (Famous last words?)

I figured I'd see snow: I didn't realize how much. It's the storage service at the west end of Sinclair Lewis Avenue. March 18, 2010.

More snow: that building makes a pretty good sunshade. March 18, 2010.

I've seen folks shovel snow onto sunnier parts of the lawn. This year, that might more sense than usual. March 18, 2010.

Not exactly scenic, is it? I figure that after the snow's melted, a good raking or two, rain, and growing grass should take care of the dirt left behind. March 18, 2010.

A delightfully funny - and strange - lawn decoration. March 18, 2010.

Civic Arena playground. March 20, 2010.

Yes: Those are eggs in the smoke. March 20, 2010.

I'm really looking forward to Monday this week. For once, it'll be the day I can relax.

Sunday, March 21, 2010. April 15 is coming up, and I've been scrambling to collect and organize the tax information that I'm responsible for. On Friday, I thought I still had nine days. That afternoon my wife reminded me that I had to have everything ready. By the morning of the 22nd.

Well, I was only off by one week. It's been a crazy weekend: but I'm pretty sure I'll have everything ready by sunrise.

Normally, I'd write about a thing or three that I'd noticed in or around Sauk Centre since the last entry. I hope you'll settle for some photos. That's about all I've got. I should have my ducks in a row by Wednesday. (Famous last words?)

I figured I'd see snow: I didn't realize how much. It's the storage service at the west end of Sinclair Lewis Avenue. March 18, 2010.

More snow: that building makes a pretty good sunshade. March 18, 2010.

I've seen folks shovel snow onto sunnier parts of the lawn. This year, that might more sense than usual. March 18, 2010.

Not exactly scenic, is it? I figure that after the snow's melted, a good raking or two, rain, and growing grass should take care of the dirt left behind. March 18, 2010.

A delightfully funny - and strange - lawn decoration. March 18, 2010.

Civic Arena playground. March 20, 2010.

Yes: Those are eggs in the smoke. March 20, 2010.

I'm really looking forward to Monday this week. For once, it'll be the day I can relax.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010. Happy St. Patrick's Day! And a fine one it was: only a few wisps of cloud in the sky, snow gone (for the most part), and it may be my imagination, but I think there was a bit of spring in the air.

I've heard that the Streeter girls' basketball team is going to state. And read about it in this week's Sauk Centre Herald. The headline was at the top of the front page, with a photo going across about three quarters of the paper. The Herald explains why this is such a big deal:

They did it. The Streeter girls' basketball team made it through the section playoffs with wins over New London-Spicer and Staples-Motley last week to advance to their first state tournament in the school's history.

That's the first paragraph of the store. There's a bit more online, and the whole thing in the print edition.

Daylight Saving Time struck again this weekend. The 'jet lag' aspect of it hit me particularly hard this time: it may have been more than just the time change. I've wondered if the 'spring forward, fall back' thing is still done because 'we've always done it this way.' I harangued about that in one of my blogs: "I'm Blaming Daylight Saving Time: or, Not," Drifting at the Edge of Time and Space (March 17, 2010).

I didn't do a thorough survey of Sauk Centre this week, but the places I did see were snow-free. Judging from past experience, there's probably still snow in a sheltered spot or three on the north side of buildings - or, outside Sauk Centre, on the north side of stream banks.

Looking east across the Sauk River. Snow, no. Water, yes. March 17, 2010.

Quite a lot of the snow is still around, disguised as water. Happily, we haven't had flooding problems yet. That I've heard of.

A mess, definitely. Toxic? Good question. March 17, 2010.

On the whole, I like the way Sauk Centre looks. It's not one of those picture-postcard museum towns, where everything looks just like it did in the 'good old days:' Which is just as well: since we're in the 21st century; and the good old days weren't all that hot.

I'd probably be more nostalgic if my memory was worse.

One lot on south Birch Street is a bit of an eyesore, even by my flexible standards. It's the place where a house burned last year. (February 10, 2010, November 25, 2009 and September 20, 2009) With the snow cover off, you can see the debris. The last I heard, one of the neighbors there wanted the mess cleaned up. She apparently was concerned about asbestos wafting over from the wreckage.

I think she may very well have a point.

There are pretty good aesthetic reasons for cleaning that lot up, too. I doubt anybody really wants the piles of stuff to be left there: the question is probably who's going to pay to get the job done.

Old-fashioned? Actually, yes. March 17, 2010.

I've written before, about the impression some folks seem to have about 'small town America:' a sort of Brigadoon, cut off from the world, where the kids are clones of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, and everything is just the way it was in the late 19th century.

Well, there's something to it. Quite a few of the buildings downtown date from around 1900. And look the part, now that we've had restoration work done. They do what buildings are supposed to do: keep rain and snow out, comfortable air in, and be a reasonably safe and comfortable place for folks to live and work.

I suppose it's the principle of 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' at work. We don't have all-new buildings downtown because the ones we have get the job done. Besides, the way I see it, with late-19th-century commercial buildings and an Art Deco theater, we've got the best that the last century-plus had to offer.

And it is sort of nice to see 'the way it was.'

It'll be a while before people get nostalgic about antenna farms like the one behind Mainstreet Communications, but I think folks may: after that technology is replaced by whatever comes next. And others will heave a sigh of relief that the things are gone, at last.

Me? I rather like the look of them.

Sunday, March 14, 2010. It wasn't exactly clear today, around noon: but the sun cast shadows. First time I remember seeing that this week.

And, it's been raining. Also drizzling: and I wouldn't be surprised if it snowed and sleeted a bit. When water wasn't coming down from the sky, it just hung around as fog.

The band shell benches were the opposite of crowded. March 13, 2010.

There's still ice on Sauk Lake, sort of. I wouldn't want to try stepping out on it: it looked mushy near the public boat landing.

This is not the sort of thing you'd expect Explore Minnesota to mention. March 13, 2010.

You might expect Explore Minnesota, the Minnesota Tourism outfit, to try hushing up springtime in Minnesota: or at least ignore it. But at least one photo on their home page was a scene a little like that boat landing one. The sky was more colorful in theirs, though.

Anyway, I doubt we'll be needing shovels or snow blowers again, until maybe late Fall.

Last sight of snow blowers until next winter? March 13, 2010.

The alley between Main and Oak, north of Sinclair Lewis Avenue, is more than a place to set out garbage cans and take deliveries. Unger furniture and a few other places have a sort of second front door in back - and there's been a (very) discount store in a metal-roofed warehouse behind Pride of Main Street Dairy. I knew I forgot to do something yesterday: I didn't check to see if they were open.

This alley is a sort of informal street. Complete with those new old-fashioned street lights. March 13, 2010.

See if you can guess what famous author's famous book put Sauk Centre on the map. Take your time. March 13, 2010.

Food shelf sign at a Coborn's entrance. Good idea, I think. March 13, 2010.

That's all for today. I'll be back Wednesday, when there'll be more. Even if there isn't I'll write about something. Maybe the weather.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010. So far this week, it's been overcast, it's rained, and snow has been melting. Hordes of teenagers in cars flowed past my house around 3:00 in the afternoon all three days, and one of the neighbors has cheerful St. Patrick's Day decorations on display. Apart from that, all I know is what I read in the paper.

Like the city council voting to waive billing householders who didn't get snow cleared on schedule, from January 26th to the 29th. to cancel all the billing that went out to city residents for failure to remove snow within a proper time frame between Jan. 25-29. It cost the city $2,352 to have contractors do the job.

Which sounds like a lot. But if my math is right, that means that, on average, each person in Sauk Centre is going to wind up paying about 0.59¢ in extra taxes and fees, somewhere along the line. If it's spread out evenly, my household will have to cough up around $2.36. 2009 was a rough year for us, but I think we can handle that.

And, as the Sauk Centre Herald article pointed out, there was a whacking great amount of snow to move in spots, after the snowfall and drifting. Considering how much the per-citizen cost is, after you spread it out, I think the council's decision was a nice gesture: and an affordable one.

Hats off to these folks, for adding a bit of color to the neighborhood. March 7, 2010.

Another week, and it'll be St. Patrick's Day: Wednesday. Good grief, I had it on Monday, in the last entry. That goof has been fixed. If only all mistakes could be cleared up that easily.

March 8, Monday, the school bands, grades 7-12, gave a concert. It wasn't exactly SRO (Standing Room Only), but considering the weather, I think the turnout was pretty good.

I'd say 'waiting for the curtain to go up' - but they go to the side here, and the curtains are already open. March 8, 2010.

The various bands played quite a range of music: from "The Pink Panther" and "Puttin on the Ritz" to Gustav Holst's Second Suite in F for Military Band. And some pretty good jazz, too.

This was worth walking through a March drizzle: and that's saying something. March 8, 2010.

Part of an AP article on music and language was on the back of the band concert's program: More about that in "Music, Language, and Workarounds for (Some) Stroke Victims," in one of my blogs.

Sunday, March 7, 2010. Back to Valley Forge Village, the old Home School property on Sauk Centre's north side, and making use of the place.

The last time I wrote about the Valley Forge Village proposal - in fact, I think the only time I wrote about it - was July 16, 2009. At that time, I'd read in the 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....'..."

This week's Herald's article says that Valley Forge Veteran's Village is "a veterans transitional housing project". Well, I suppose that would involve "unsavory people." Certainly not upper crust.

I don't have quite the horror of "unsavory people" that I might. Maybe because my family and I have been lived through a few hard times. Judging solely on the household income and the grandeur of our living arrangements, we've been "unsavory people."

Maybe that's not what the person who was quoted last year quite had in mind.

Anyway, From the sounds of it, the Valley Forge Village proposal still makes sense. And, unless something unforeseen comes up, they'll be opening up this summer.

Links to the Valley Forge Veteran's Village Project and their Oak Ridge page.

Springtime in Minnesota isn't about chirping birds, unless you count the overhead honks of Canada geese, and blooming flowers. On the other hand, if you look around there are wonderful sculptures of melting snow and ice.

That bit on the left is a shell, curved like a car's windshield. March 3, 2010.

A touch, and that would crumble. March 3, 2010.

Can't say I'll be sorry to see summer, but I'll sort of miss sights like this. Well, there's next year.. March 3, 2010.

The next big-deal holiday is St. Patrick's Day, a week from Wednesday. A neighbor has a display up - but I'll save that until the next entry.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010. The snow is still melting. At this rate, I'll be putting away my winter coat soon. After which we'd probably have a record cold wave.

St. Patrick's Day cards: That I was expecting. The Easter stuff, no so much. It's the next big holiday, of course. March 3, 2010.

I'm not surprised: The ice must be pretty soft. March 3, 2010.

I'm not a big fan of wading through ice water, but I enjoy seeing the ephemeral sculptures made by sunlight and melting snow.

My guess is that they're pointing at where the sun is, around midday. March 3, 2010.

Just a pile of melting snow? March 3, 2010.

Take a closer look: there's a sort of delicate, lacy ice here. March 3, 2010.

I see that something called Valley Forge Veterans Village may be moving into the hold 'home school' facility on the north side. But it's getting late, so I'll write about on Sunday.

Sunday, February 28, 2010. We'd better enjoy the snow while we can: It's been melting.

If we wait, spring will take care of that snow. February 24, 2010.

It'll take a while for that (two feet or so?) to go, though. Particularly where it's been piled up.

Eyesore, or sound barrier? Depends on your point of view. February 24, 2010.

That's barely a snowman. Snowkid, maybe?. February 24, 2010.

Springtime in Minnesota isn't that picture-postcard-lovely season of chirping birds and brightly-colored flowers you read about. The only bird song I heard today was a crow's caw.

Not that all we have around of an avian nature are crows. There are sparrows too: and chickadees. Speaking of which, I saw a chickadee after church this morning, in the alley west of Our Lady of the Angels church. The alley is covered in compacted snow, some of which has melted and flowed into wheel tracks. A chickadee was taking a bath in one of those little pools.

As I was saying, springtime in Minnesota isn't green grass, blooming flowers and all that. Not until rather late in the process, at least. Mostly it's winter, melting.

This year's snow is really rather clean. Even so, sunlight on the south face of snow banks melt away the snow, leaving whatever dust, dirt and debris got scooped up with the snow. As I wrote a few years ago, introducing a half-dozen photos, "it combines the more unpleasant aspects of winter and summer."

True enough, but a person doesn't have to see things that way. Take what you'll see on the north side of quite a few streets, for example.

I can see it as a mess that'd be a headache for someone who's particular about the appearance of the front lawn.

Or, I could see it as a sort of sculpture: a frozen cascade of crystal.

Frozen cascade. February 26, 2010.

However you decide to see them, those melting snow banks are ephemeral phenomena: they'll be gone, replaced in many places with grass that'll need to be trimmed.

I mentioned, Wednesday, how the chain link fence on the Lake Wobegon Trail bridge over Main is a sort of community bulletin board. Sauk Centre has quite a few places where folks can read about events that are coming up.

Last week this pillar in Jitters Java, downtown, had mostly commercial posts on it. February 24, 2010.

And you'll see the occasional ad for some product. Like Dr. Julian Dubiois, Jr.'s DVD, "A Walk to Remember." (I mentioned it in January.) You can't see the poster for that recording too well in the photo: it's that tannish bit toward the upper right.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010. First, the unpleasant news. I've got some nice photos, so stick around. Or skip over the next few paragraphs.

If Minnesota Department of Corrections (MN DOC) information is correct, Dustin Gene Ayres was released on Monday, and has probably moved into town by now. I can't say that I envy him. He's a Level 3 predatory offender: the sort of rapist who'd most likely to re-offend. He's also served his sentence, including whatever extra time he earned by violating parole the last time he was released.

Don't get me wrong. I think that second (third?) chances are a good idea. I also hope that nobody in town gives him a hard time because of what he's done in the past. It's possible that he'll change.

The Sauk Centre Herald had another couple of articles on Mr. Ayres, and related topics, this week. I wasn't pleased to learn that Stearns County is the #1 county for (relocated?) sex offenders, outside the metro area: but there's not much to do about that.

Something I read in the print edition of this week's Herald matches other information I've dug up. The recidivism rate for sex offenders is fairly low. On average. Mr. Ayres is in the category of people who are most likely to re-offend.

But there isn't much that, given the way the law works today, that can be done. Apart from what MN DOC is doing: keeping a rather close eye on Mr. Ayres for the next decade, and limiting what he can do. Unless he breaks parole again, he won't just be wandering around town. As I said, I can't say that I envy him.

And - what I think is a very important point - we're allowed to know about him now. I can remember when that wouldn't have been the case. The American judicial system has started to realize that protecting people who don't break the law is important, too: and I think that's a good thing.

More, in "Level 3 Predatory Offender Coming: Photos and Links," Sauk Centre Journal Blog (February 19, 2010).

That Haiti fundraiser's banner is a little dated. It's about something that was scheduled Monday. And yes, that's a snowmobiler. February 24, 2010.

The chain link fence on the Lake Wobegon Trail bridge over Main Street ("Original Main Street" the signs say) is a sort of community bulletin board. Quite a few events get announced there.

Snow. We've had snow this winter. Lots of snow. A drift in my back yard just about covers two lawn chairs - and even after excavations, I have to bend over to reach the grill when I'm fixing burgers on the weekend. I figure I'm standing on at least a half-foot of compacted snow and ice.

The band shell by Sauk Lake. February 24, 2010.

Finding a place to put snow from the driveway and sidewalk wasn't a problem for us. We've got more yard than pavement, so it's just a matter of throwing - or blowing - it onto something that can stay covered until spring.

Snow piled behind Jitters Java, downtown. And two guys on the other side of the street, probably discussing the utility system. February 24, 2010.

The city street department, and many (most?) businesses aren't in that position. There's been a whole lot of snow cleared off streets and parking lots this year: and it all has to go somewhere. In residential areas, at least some of it goes onto that rampart that grows at the edge of the street. Some parking lots have a few spaces piled high with snow. And, since nobody's using the band shell this time of year, a little is piled up on the edge of the parking lot there.

Finding a place to put snow from the driveway and sidewalk wasn't a problem for us. We've got more yard than pavement, so it's just a matter of throwing - or blowing - it onto something that can stay covered until spring.

A Christmas angel, half-buried in snow. This photo is almost crying for a caption, but I can't think of one. February 24, 2010.

I've heard people say that we're always talking about the weather, here in Minnesota. I don't want to disappoint out-of-staters, so: It's been a beautiful day today. Clear blue sky, sunlight sparkling on the snow, and not much wind. A little nippy: 11° below this morning. Fahrenheit. But hey: this is Minnesota!

Sunday, February 21, 2010. Getting your name in the paper can be good news, bad news, or just plain strange news. Sauk Centre's got it all three ways.

An article on DL-Online (Detroit Lakes) starts with this headline: "Paranormal Files: The Palmer House's ghostly guests" (February 13, 2010).

Then there's this, from KSAX: "Heavy Snowfall Boosts West Central Minnesota's Snowmobile Sales" (February 15, 2010). The connection there is Centre Sports.

And, there's another KSAX story: "Level Three Sex Offender Moving to Sauk Centre" (February 16, 2010). It's the same information we've been seeing for a while now: Dustin Ayres, a young man who's sexually assaulted underage girls and violated parole before - will be our new neighbor.

Second chances (third, in Mr. Ayres' case) are, I think, a good idea. And, according to the law, he's served his sentence. And will have his activities scrutinized for the next decade, I understand.

I hope he takes advantage of this opportunity, and makes better choices than he has in the past. That's his photo, by the way, from the Minnesota Department of Corrections, via the Sauk Centre Herald (Thanks, to Bryan Zollman, who has been covering the Dustin Ayres story. I read in the online edition that there's going to be more information in this Tuesday's Herald.)

I haven't been out all that much this week, apart from a trip Lakeview clinic, to get an expert opinion on how I feel. No big deal, but I've learned to listen when my wife tells me that the doctor should see me. (More, in a Through One Dad's Eye post.)

So, here's something I've been saving for an occasion like this: three photos of the Sauk Centre Herald. Big deal? If you live in Sauk Centre, yes. After the photos, I'll harangue (briefly) about home-town newspapers.

Sauk Centre Herald front page. February 9, 2010.

What can I say? It's a home-town paper: and pretty good reading. February 9, 2010.

And, like just about any paper, the Sauk Herald has an advertising supplement - the Classy Canary - and a sports section. February 9, 2010.

There's more to a home-town newspaper than being a place to put legal notices. Sauk Centre would probably get along without the Sauk Centre Herald - but I'm pretty sure that we'd miss the chance to read about what's gone on during the week, how the local teams are doing, and how some of our neighbors are doing.

And I'd have had to wait longer to get involved with the Internet. The Sauk Centre Herald was Sauk Centre's first Internet service provider, in the late 1990s. 1997, if my memory serves.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010. I missed that meeting, yesterday, about the rapist who's coming to town. The Sauk Centre Herald had a pretty good write-up, though. Here's an excerpt:

"Sex offender has history of sexually assaulting young females"
By Bryan Zollman

"...Dustin Gene Ayres, 27, is scheduled to move to the 600 block of Fourth Street South (located near city hall) after his release from prison on Feb. 22. He is currently incarcerated for violating probation from a previous criminal sexual conduct charge in 2005. His most recent arrest was in 2006 in Benton County after he was charged with First Degree Burglary when he entered a residence and sexually assaulted a 16-year-old while she was asleep...."

"...Dustin Gene Ayres, 27, is 5’11", 237 pounds with blue eyes and blonde hair. He has a history of sexually assaulting underage females while they are sleeping. In one instance he broke into a home to sexually assault a 16-year-old. He was known to both his victims. Ayres is moving to the 600 block of 4th St. S. after his release from prison next week...."

"...Much more information in regards to Ayres, including public reaction, will be in the Feb. 23 issue of the Sauk Centre Herald."

The article points out that Mr. Ayers is on parole, which involves some rather strict rules about what he can and can't do. Which is nice: and would be more reassuring, if he hadn't violated terms of parole before. I wrote about this matter last week, and probably will touch on it again. Don't get me wrong: I think forgiveness and second chances - third in this case - are good ideas.

I also think that people who don't assault other people deserve consideration, too. Which is happening to a greater extent, now. Remember: We're allowed to know about Mr. Ayers, which is a huge improvement over 'the good old days.'

On a happier note, I was sick today and didn't make it to Ash Wednesday Mass. Maybe it's just as well: I'd probably have taken another photo of my forehead, and put in in this entry.

On the whole, I rather like today's information technology. February 17, 2010.

So I show a photo of a TV screen? This is an improvement?

Icicles on my house are thinner and shorter now, than they were earlier. It's been a warm day: up around freezing. But this is Minnesota: I'm pretty sure the weather will change.

This has been one beautiful day. February 17, 2010.

Finally, and again from the Sauk Centre Herald, a rather nice piece about Charlie's Cafe, a sort of area landmark: "Even when Charlie Heidgerken retired and no longer owned the Freeport café, his spirit remained in traditions like the mile high caramel rolls. People continued to ask...." Oh come on: You didn't expect me to copy the whole article, did you? Papers should still be on the shelves.

Sunday, February 14, 2010. St. Valentine's Day.

I thought Cupid could use an equipment upgrade.

It's Valentine's Day: a Saint's feast day, and an occasion for putting a whole lot of red and pink merchandise in the stores. I don't mind a bit: this time of year, we can use a bit of bright color. Or, in this case, a whole lot of bright shiny color:

Lots and lots of heart-shaped balloons in Coborn's. February 11, 2010.

My oldest daughter changed her travel plans Saturday morning: freezing fog in the wee hours of the morning put beautiful frost on the trees, and made traction on the roads dubious. She and I went to see "Avatar" at Main Street Theatre this afternoon: maybe not as much fun as what she had planned, but I enjoyed having some "quality time" with her. Interesting: it's been a long time since I've heard that phrase.

What's left of the house that burned on South Birch. February 10, 2010.

This is the Sunday before Ash Wednesday, so that chest of palm leaves from last Easter season was carried out of the sanctuary after Mass at Our Lady of the Angels. The dry leaves went into a sort of cage, and were burned. We'll get the ashes on our foreheads on Ash Wednesday.

Last year's palm branches, before Mass at Our Lady of the Angels. February 14, 2010.

Those dry leaves burn fast. By the time I got there with a camera, it was over, except for a bit of cleanup. February 14, 2010.

My new son-in-law is from Louisiana, so I'm learning a bit more about the culture in that part of the south. And, I think he may be in for quite a surprise this Tuesday - if he hasn't already figured it out. Up here in the northern tier of states, we don't make much of a big deal out of Mardi Gras. Apart from things like a fundraiser at Holy Family School.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010. I spent more time in the Red River Valley of the North last weekend than I planned to. More about that in "Home, at Last! - of a Winter Storm, Interstate Traffic, and Utility Trucks" (Through One Dad's Eye (Feb. 8, 2010).

I hope you had a less exciting Monday evening than I did.

The Sauk Centre Herald has another story about the fire on South Birch street (November 25, 2009 and September 20, 2009). Or, rather, its aftermath. One of the neighbors is concerned about debris that hasn't been cleared away yet. There could be asbestos in it - and that could be the reason she's been feeling unwell.

Today, it's hard to see how asbestos - or much of anything else - could get out from under the snow. But of course, that's now. There was time before the snow fell when stuff could have blown off the property.

What's left of the house that burned on South Birch. February 10, 2010.

There's also a touching story in the paper, "From Haiti, with Love," about Kathy and Brian Borgerding's adopted daughter, three and a half years old.

And, again in the Sauk Centre Herald, a Level 3 Predatory Offender will be moving into town. An excerpt from the online edition of the Herald:

"...A community notification meeting is scheduled for next Tuesday, Feb. 16, at 6:30 p.m. at the Sauk Centre City Hall in the council chambers...."

I can't say that I'm really happy about the situation. At least these days, the police are allowed to tell us about this sort of thing. I wrote more about what's happening in "Good News, Bad News, and a Level 3 Predatory Offender" (Sauk Centre Journal Blog (February 10, 2010)). I'll probably be at that notification meeting.

Now, on a happier note, we had a winter storm roar through this area over the Super Bowl weekend, and it looks like there's more snow coming in a day or so. I saw several vehicles in the ditch, driving back Monday evening.

The new snow sure is pretty, though.

The grill needs to be dug out. Again. February 10, 2010.

I've been hearing on the news, how Washington, D.C., and other eastern seaboard cities are paralyzed by the snow they've been having. I sympathize. What's a fairly routine matter of breaking out shovels and plows for us is a rare and calamitous event for them.

Two days after the storm, streets have been plowed and sidewalks dug out. For central Minnesota: routine. February 10, 2010.

Just a reminder, for my fellow-husbands: This Sunday is Valentine's Day. Happily, I've got my wife's gift - - - and, yes: it's still where I thought I'd put it. I'm pretty sure she'll like it: She told me what to surprise her with.

This is the last time I'll add this plug for Haiti relief:

I see in the Sauk Centre Herald that First State Bank is offering $20,000 in matching funds. Here's what the Herald says, in part:

"To make a donation checks should be made payable to the American Red Cross and dropped off or mailed to First State Bank of Sauk Centre, PO Box 266, Sauk Centre, MN 56378. Contributions will be accepted until Feb. 15."

There's still the rest of this week to get a check to the American Red Cross, by way of First State Bank.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010. Sorry about that! I'd expected to be back in town by Sunday night. Instead, my family elected to stay at this family's newlyweds' home, and watch the Super Bowl. That was a good decision: but it meant that I was up in the Red River Valley of the North when Sunday evening came.

Then, I drove us home yesterday. (More at "Home, at Last! - of a Winter Storm, Interstate Traffic, and Utility Trucks")

I'll be back, Wednesday, with more about Sauk Centre.

Briefly, we've got more snow now than we did before: and there wasn't any school yesterday. Prudent decision, I think. School was two hours late today.

That was quite a storm.

Just a reminder: here's that plug for Haiti again:

I see in the Sauk Centre Herald that First State Bank is offering $20,000 in matching funds. Here's what the Herald says, in part:

"To make a donation checks should be made payable to the American Red Cross and dropped off or mailed to First State Bank of Sauk Centre, PO Box 266, Sauk Centre, MN 56378. Contributions will be accepted until Feb. 15."

Like I've said before, the folks there can use help. There's the rest of this week to get a check to the American Red Cross, by way of First State Bank.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010. I haven't been out of the house since Monday. Nothing serious: and I'm going to keep it that way.

So everything I know about what's happened here in Sauk Centre is either what I've heard, or read in the Sauk Centre Herald.

The big-deal item actually made it to the St. Cloud Times. The good news is that apparently nobody got hurt. The bad news is that Adam Gress is down by a snowmobile, a four wheeler, two cars and a house. The St. Cloud Times seems to say that the fire started in a wood stove. I'll skip the usual stuff about being careful with that sort of heater. I'm just glad everybody got out.

Remember that power outage, a week ago last Friday? The St. Cloud Times says that ice caused the outage. The headline was "Ice breaks pole; Sauk Centre without power". The two accounts aren't contradictory. The St. Cloud Times mentions the fire in their second paragraph.

We've gotten a little more snow since Sunday afternoon. My son cut a path from the driveway to the back yard - but didn't include the grill in his route. I'll be encouraging to get that done. I've mentioned this before: I like to grill.

Now, at the risk of getting dull (duller?), here's that plug for Haiti again:

I see in the Sauk Centre Herald that First State Bank is offering $20,000 in matching funds. Here's what the Herald says, in part:

"To make a donation checks should be made payable to the American Red Cross and dropped off or mailed to First State Bank of Sauk Centre, PO Box 266, Sauk Centre, MN 56378. Contributions will be accepted until Feb. 15."

If you haven't given yet, there's the rest of this week, and all of next, to do so. From what I've heard, the folks there can really use help.

Sunday January 31, 2010. Before anything else, an urgent reminder for my fellow-husbands: Valentine's Day is two weeks away. There's still time to get your wife something thoughtful. (I'm set: my wife knows my limitations - she told me what would be thoughtful.)

Okay. What's been happening here in Sauk Centre?

Cold. Snow. Ice. And Ice fishing.

Road to the ice fishing huts on Sauk Lake. January 29, 2010.

Minnesota is in that part of the world where water is a mineral for part of the year. That road is lake ice on Sauk Lake, east of Highway 71, by the bridge north of town. Right now, it's safe: and I've yet to hear of someone breaking through up there.

I'll say this for living in a slightly extreme climate: it encourages situational awareness and common sense.

Let's take a closer look at that photo:

A little village of fishing huts: and probably more around the bend. January 29, 2010.

There's a signboard on the landward side of that ice road, with official notices that are, by and large, more appropriate to the part of the year where unattended water is in its liquid state.

That "Exotic Species Alert" is important, but I've sometimes felt a sort of admiration for new species that survive a winter here. January 29, 2010.

Finally, a plug for my webcam's blog: Small Town America: Minnesota. You'll see live streaming video from near the corner of South Ash Street and 9th. I think it's the first on-the-street webcam in Sauk Centre, with 24/7 coverage. Apart from a few minutes interruption now and again, of course. Or, in the case of that power outage and some of my more spectacular technical issues, an hour or more.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010. That power outage Friday night affected quite an area. This week's Sauk Centre Herald says the lights were out from the north end of Sauk Lake to the Lynx golf course, south of town, and as far as West Union. All because of a fire at an XCEL Energy pole near mile marker 123 on I-94, between Sauk Centre and West Union.

What's still amazing to me is that there aren't more outages. The power grid is a finely-tuned, continent-wide system, and remarkably sensitive to problems like that fire. That far out of the way, I'm impressed that power came back on after no more than maybe an hour and a half. After reading the paper, I know why there was so much traffic here at South Ash and 9th. There was a boys basketball game at the school Friday night. And, a hockey game at the civic arena. I've yet to be in a public place when the emergency lighting kicks in: and don't mind a bit.

Jitters Java: new sign on the door. New hours, too, I think. At least, I don't remember their being open Sunday, 8:00 to 2:00. January 22, 2010.

Traffic at the corner of South Ash Street and 9th, around 8:50 p.m., Friday night. No street lights. January 22, 2010.

A column in Jitters Java serves as a bulletin board - one of several around town. If you've been meaning to donate to that Haiti fundraiser: there's still time. Here's what I wrote last week:

I see in the Sauk Centre Herald that First State Bank is offering $20,000 in matching funds. Here's what the Herald says, in part:

"To make a donation checks should be made payable to the American Red Cross and dropped off or mailed to First State Bank of Sauk Centre, PO Box 266, Sauk Centre, MN 56378. Contributions will be accepted until Feb. 15."

I'll admit that I'm emphasizing that Haiti fundraiser quite a bit. My household gave at the second collection at Our Lady of the Angels on Sunday. The folks in Haiti can use help.

Yoga and a weight loss program: and a desert display case in the background. January 22, 2010.

Main Street Coffee Company: with a new menu. Sauk Centre's other specialty coffee shop. January 22, 2010.

Again with what's in this week's Sauk Herald. There's a DVD available, "A Walk to Remember." Dr. Julian Dubois, Jr., walked around Main Street and Sinclair Lewis Avenue with a cassette tape recorder, talking as he went. Pretty good idea, actually. There's more about the DVD and the people who made it in the paper. I'm glad to see that folks are making records of what they remember about this town. It's sort of what I'm doing with this journal.

Wednesday afternoon, school bus, under-used bird feeder. January 27, 2010.

I took that photo this afternoon, out the north window where I do most of my work. That's also where my webcam is. It may be Sauk Centre's first on-the-street webcam. It's supposed to be on 24 hours a day, with a few minutes down time now and again. Key phrase here is "supposed to" - the thing was offline for quite a while today. I'd say "technical difficulties," but I may have hit the wrong button.

If you want to check out the view, streaming video from the webcam is at Small Town America: Minnesota, the webcam's blog.

Sunday, January 24, 2010. The big deal this week was the power outage Friday night. It lasted over an hour, starting before 9:00 and going until about 10:10 p.m. I'm looking forward to reading what the Sauk Centre Herald has to say about it. As I wrote on the Sauk Centre Journal blog Friday night, lights were on in Alexandria, but not West Union. I've heard that folks in South Dakota had it much worse that we did.

Traffic at the corner of South Ash Street and 9th, around 8:50 p.m., Friday night. No street lights. January 22, 2010.

Aside form that, it's been pretty much business as usual. Except that I just remembered that I've forgotten about my wife's Valentine's Day present. Hoo boy.

Okay. I'm back. I've made a sort of note to myself, about that Valentine thing.

Two of Sauk Centre's businesses. Their vans, that is. January 15, 2022.

Something new in town, coming in the last decade or so: businesses with vans, and advertising on the vans. Well, new to me, anyway.

My wife and #3 daughter are at Soo Bahk Do: and recording the Vikings-New Orleans Saints game. Ain't technology great?

Santa's landing lights: and Valentine's Day decorations. January 22, 2010.

Icicles: the long one's over a yard long. January 23, 2010.

Another 'winter storm' over the weekend didn't do much apart from touching up the snow with a fresh surface.

My household pitched in at the second collection for Haiti at Our Lady of the Angels church today. And, repeating from Wednesday's entry:

I see in the Sauk Centre Herald that First State Bank is offering $20,000 in matching funds. Here's what the Herald says, in part:

"To make a donation checks should be made payable to the American Red Cross and dropped off or mailed to First State Bank of Sauk Centre, PO Box 266, Sauk Centre, MN 56378. Contributions will be accepted until Feb. 15."

(Just a thought.)

Wednesday, January 20, 2010. You've heard it before. 'In Minnesota, if you don't like the weather, wait a few minutes: It'll change.' There's something to that old gag.

Like last Friday. The morning was foggy, around 9 and 10. Then, by 11, it was clearing. By noon, we had one of those picture-postcard days. Blue skies, frost on the trees, high swept clouds: the works.

Fog and frost: on just about everything. January 15, 2010.

Frost. Lots of really delicate frost. January 15, 2010.

Around 11:00 a.m., clearing. Not much wind, happily. January 15, 2010.

Once in a while, the road east of town, across the Sauk River to the two big cemeteries, looks really nice. Generally it's a matter of atmospheric effects: just the right amount of haze. Friday, around noon, it was the frost left by fog the night and morning before.

County Road 17, near the Sauk River. January 15, 2010.

I was downtown Friday, having my eyes checked (according to the doctor I have two, and they both work). Flags were up for Martin Luther King Day, this Monday.

Looking in the shop windows, it struck me how Catholic Sauk Centre is. We've got a fair assortment of churches. A Google map I've embedded in the Sauk Centre Journal Blog will give you an idea.

Still, there are a whole bunch of Catholics in town. I came from an area that was quite sincerely not Catholic - and the statuary and artwork, right out there in storefronts, still impresses me sometimes. Positively, that is.

Two-for-one photo: storefront and what's across the street in downtown Sauk Centre. January 15, 2010.

Martin Luther King Day was Monday: They got the flags out early. January 15, 2010.

I see in the Sauk Centre Herald that First State Bank is offering $20,000 in matching funds. Here's what the Herald says, in part:

"To make a donation checks should be made payable to the American Red Cross and dropped off or mailed to First State Bank of Sauk Centre, PO Box 266, Sauk Centre, MN 56378. Contributions will be accepted until Feb. 15."

Sounds good. My household's going to be giving at a second collection this Sunday, at Our Lady of the Angels church: but don't let that stop you from pitching in with what First State Bank is doing. Not that you would, of course.

Sunday January 17, 2010. The heavy snowfall encouraged folks in town to make snowmen. Lots of them.

The closer one is a snowman. Definitely. January 12, 2010.

A snowman with oranges for eyes: but a snowman nonetheless. And, a really big one. January 12, 2010.

The other one: The top part's a snowman - I think The frog's not snow of any sort. I'll call the whole thing a snow sculpture. January 12, 2010.

I'd been wondering about snowmobiles. I hadn't noticed as many as I expected - but it's pretty obvious that I wasn't looking in the right place at the right time. I've found quite a few of their tracks.

Snowmobile tracks on the north side. January 12, 2010.

And, I found a snowman who may have been frozen in fear.

With that many snowmobiles going that close: That snowman may have a reason to look scared. January 12, 2010.

Ever get that feeling: that you're being watched? By a snowman?

Sure - he looks like he's just gazing at nothing in particular. But as you can see: that snowman was definitely leaning over, to peek around the tree. January 12, 2010.

Then, after taking those photos, I went back the usual routine. Winter fun's fine: but the van needed fuel, and there were errands to run.

Holiday Super Stop, near the Interstate. January 12, 2010.

Sauk Centre has flags up, along part of (The Original) Main Street and Sinclair Lewis Avenue, in preparation for Martin Luther King day tomorrow. I took some pictures when I was downtown on Friday: but I'm saving those for Wednesday.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010. I don't generally come back to the same subject, after just one week. But these snowmen deserved a second look. You may remember them: They're the snowman family I showed back on January 6th. My wife saw them yesterday, and told me that one of them had week whackers for arms.

That's a new one to me: weed whackers for arms. January 12, 2010.

Quite a few folks have been making snowmen, making good use of that heavy snowfall.

I'm not sure if it's a sort of cenotaph, or maybe a snowman playing William Tell's son. January 12, 2010.

Faceoff of the snowmen. January 12, 2010.

The snowman on the left had corncob eyes. January 12, 2010.

I've said this before: Minnesota's weather isn't boring.

Picture-postcard weather yesterday, making a lovely scene of the bandshell and parking lot down by Sauk Lake. January 12, 2010.

Today, it was fog in the morning and overcast the rest of the day. January 13, 2010.

The fog left a delicate frost. January 13, 2010.

It's been quite a long time since there was a Snyder Drug downtown. Or a Ben Franklin store, for that matter. "Small town America" may be a changeless Brigadoon in some stories" but I've been over that before. I ran into "Snyder Drug" again today, in the news.

Like the fellow said: "Nothing endures but change." "Walgreen buys Minnesota's Snyder's Drug Stores," Reuters (January 13, 2010). I found out that there were 25 Snyder's in Minnesota. Looks like Walgreen will keep some of the stores they acquired open - and plan to keep the folks who worked at Snyder's working there. Smart - and good news for those people.

For what it's worth, back in the eighties I'd hear Snyder's downtown called "Schneider's" - not in writing, but that's the way it was pronounced by some folks.

Sunday, January 10, 2010. "I only know what I read in the papers" comes close to describing my experience of Sauk Centre this week. I've been doing not much quite a bit. I have one of those annoying bugs that are tough enough to produce a fever and a encourage staying inside: but without any interesting symptoms.

On a more serious note, one of the three funerals I heard about today was for Michael D. "Mike" Willhite. My condolences to his family and friends. I had a bit more to say in one of my blogs. (Another Death in the Community: This One Was Avoidable, Small Town Dad (January 10, 2010)).

I had to get to the Post Office Friday, and stopped by Coborn's on my way home. (I made sure I didn't breathe on anyone.)

No snowboarding polar bear at Coborn's now. January 8, 2010.

It was 'business as usual' at Coborn's: I suppose the Valentine's Day displays will be out, later in the month.

Sauk River. January 8, 2010.

Another week, another Herald . January 10, 2010.

Like I said, this has been an "I only know what I read in the papers" week for me. I was at Coborn's mainly to pick up coffee, partly to get the Sauk Centre Herald before it was next week. I learned that a barn burned - total loss - near Melrose. Good news, apparently nobody was hurt. There's that tax abatement thing I wrote about on Wednesday. That was front page news. Literacy tutors were the big news this week.

And, at the bottom of the front page, "The Power of 'No' " - an article that starts with "Wouldn't you like your kids or grandchildren to turn out to be adults who are self-disciplined, self-confident, honest, fun to be around and responsible?" (more online at the Sauk Centre Herald website)

Seems like a daft question. I mean, who would answer "no" to that? Well, I'm old enough to remember trailing edge of a time when parents were told - and often believed - that saying 'no' to your kids would stifle their creativity, or give them inhibitions, or something like that. My parents hadn't gotten the message, so I heard "no" fairly often. Good thing, too.

I know: parents can be over-strict ('no sneezing without permission'?): but this "The Power of 'No' " is a set of five sessions with topics like "Say no when you should," "parenting style and connection with kids,: "Real self-esteem and how to praise a kid," and "Knowing and presenting DDD." DDD, the article explains, is Disciplinary Deficit Disorder. Sounds reasonable to me.

Don't get me wrong: I think it's great for kids to be creative. Which is just as well, since one of my daughters is a music major, another is a writer, and the the oldest is back in school, studying commercial art. My son? He's close to publishing the beta version of software that he's developing. (Sounds like bragging, but I've got a pretty good opinion of my kids.)

Enough of that. I'm on the mend - I hope - and trust that I'll have something besides what I read in the paper to write about by Wednesday.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010. Maybe you're in this position, too: you've finally gotten a vehicle excavated from December's snowfall. Now you've heard that there's a winter weather advisory out, just west of here: more snow is on the way.

Before getting back to Sauk Centre: the clinic in Melrose has been in their new quarters for a while now.

Melrose clinic: looks better with the walls up. January 5, 2010.

Inside the new Melrose clinic: reception area. January 5, 2010.

I don't think a clinic waiting area can ever be really 'cozy' - but this is close. January 5, 2010.

Back to Sauk Centre.

Nice old-fashioned-looking streetlamps downtown - and a contrail.
January 5, 2010.

Downtown Sauk Centre: I'm enjoying the holiday decorations while I can. They'll be down soon. January 5, 2010.

A foot-and-a-half of snow coming down in less than a week can be inconvenient, even awkward, to deal with. On the other hand, it provides the raw material for really big snowmen: and some folks in town took advantage of the situation.

That snowman's well over life-size. And, festively wearing a wreath. January 1,2010.

A snowman family. That's no trick of perspective: they really are tall. January 5, 2010.

A snow fort. Someone arranged to get a generous dollop of snow
pushed up on their front yard. The kids must be having a great time. January 5, 2010.

I see in the paper that last summer Dunham Express moved into the industrial park building that Advanced Lighting had used. Durham Express is a Wisconsin-based courier service.

This week's article was mostly about a tax abatement Durham Express got. Can't say I'm sorry to see another business in town. Even if they don't employ a lot of folks, the people who work there - and pass through - will drink coffee downtown, or somewhere nearby, probably buy groceries and gasoline from time to time.

Sunday, January 3, 2010. The new year is off to a cold start. Right now, about 8:30 p.m., it's -10° in Alexandria. And probably not all that much warmer - or colder - here.

A little on the chilly side, even by Minnesota standards. December 31, 2009.

Between last week's snow, less-than-fully-efficient insulation, and sunlight, quite a few houses have icicles. Including mine.

They're not doing the roofing or the eaves any good: but icicles sure are pretty. January 1, 2010.

Down on South Main, the Knights of Columbus manger scene is up, as usual, in front of 520 Main.

With all the snow, it'll be a job: getting that out. December 31 2009.

Great River Regional Library's online catalog has a new feature. One of my kids pointed out that they now show a thumbnail of the cover, for many (most, from what I saw) of the books.

GRRL's online catalog: now with thumbnails. January 1, 2009.

I stopped in at Bryant Library, and took a few photos:

Bryant Library: I like what they did with the place. January 1, 2009.

Sauk Centre's public library started out looking pretty much the same as any other Carnegie library: except for that cupola. It's an architectural feature that was retained through an extensive remodeling a few years back. For which I'm duly grateful. It's distinctive, and I like the natural light coming down in the center of the library.

Bryant Library's cupola. January 1, 2009.

I'd wax poetic about the lovely snow gracefully covering winter's landscape: but it's dark out, I can't see a thing out the window, and it's too cold for me to step outside and take a look.

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