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Sunday, December 25, 2011. Merry Christmas! My weekend was quiet, compared to the family get-together last weekend.

Maybe I've mentioned this before. Main Street Theatre still has its art deco marquee and lights: but displays current features on the new digital/electronic signs on the south part of the theater complex. I like that combination of old and new. 'Older' and 'newish,' anyway.

Main Street Theatre marquees: old and new. December 20, 2011.

Eyes on Main: lit up for Christmas. December 20, 2011.

I've got another set of 'Christmas lights' photos to show. My household hasn't done 'outside' holiday decorating for a few years, although I suppose the Christmas tree might count. We've got it near a window. A fair number of other folks around town put on quite a show: which I enjoy thoroughly.

Manger scene, conical helix Christmas trees: and there's more around the corner of this house. December 22, 2011.

One of Sauk Centre's more brightly-lit neighborhoods. December 22, 2011.

This house isn't all that large: but wow, do they have lots of lights. December 22, 2011.

I've got more photos, but they'll wait until another day. The software I've been using to get pictures ready for the Web finally gave up, and I'm learning to use something newer. I'll let you decide whether that's an excuse for not having more photos ready: or an explanation.

Either way, Merry Christmas, Happy Holiday, Happy New Year, whatever. One more thing: This is the sixth year in a row that the Christmas tree at Our Lady of Angels church hasn't fallen over.

My take on 'the true meaning of Christmas' is in one of my blogs, A Catholic Citizen in America:

Sunday, December 18, 2011. Like I said in one of my blogs: "Christmas is a time for frenzied purchases, family gatherings, and frazzled nerves. Sometimes family gatherings lead to frazzled nerves, and that's another topic." I suspect that we may hear more about the lunatic end of the holiday experience. My 'family gathering' for the season happened yesterday, and was fun. I hope yours is, or are, too.

Santa, maybe taking off - or landing - with a jet pack? Hats off to the folks who put that up, for a different angle on Christmas lights. December 7, 2011.

Holiday garlands over Main Street. The Original Main Street, that is. December 9, 2011.

Some lights in the yard, lights outlining the roof: and you've got your Christmas decorations. The outside ones, anyway. December 7, 2011.

My family has the 'permanent' Christmas tree set up in the living room, there's a largish real tree in Our Lady of the Angels church, and we've got just one week left before Christmas day. I (finally) remembered to get something for my wife: which I wrapped in a rubber band. Maybe I can get #3 daughter to help me do something a little nicer than that.

Sunday, December 11, 2011. Before getting into the usual Christmas-season photos, a sort of update on my house:

  • It's not for sale
  • We're having a larger garage built

I can see why folks may have gotten the idea that the big yellow house at South Ash and 9th was for sale:

The real estate agent didn't put the sign there. December 6, 2011.

That 'for sale' sign at South Ash and 9th is probably a prank. We live a few blocks from the school, right on the route quite a few kids walk on their way to and from classes. December 6, 2011.

It's about two weeks before Christmas, so stores have a lot of red and green in their displays. Marc'ette Floral, at Main and South 6th, and Hidden Treasure, downtown, also have a new kind of candle.

My son-in-law invented these 'candles that burn in a circle' earlier this year, and this is the first holiday season that stores have had them. I've been working for his company, Spiral Light Candle, off and on, for about a month now.

Marc'ette Floral, on south Main and 6th, has poinsettias, cards, home decorations: and Spiral Light Candles. December 9, 2011.

Hidden Treasure, downtown, has those 'candles with a twist,' too. And a whole lot of nice gift and decoration stuff. December 9, 2011.

Spiral Light Candle has a video on YouTube that shows how the candles work: "Spiral Light's Spiral Burning Self Filling Candle."
(One minute, 31 seconds)

Just one more bit of blatant self-promotion, and I'll get to more photos from Sauk Centre.

I've been writing about my experiences with Spiral Light Candle in two of my blogs:

I like the Christmas season for quite a few reasons: but it's the decorations that seem to make the best photo subjects:

Downtown Sauk Centre: lighted garlands over the street, and Main Street Theatre's signs. December 7, 2011.

P's and Q's Computing, on south Main, puts on quite a show each year. December 6, 2011.

Here's P's and Q's at night. Some of the lights go on and off: it's too slow to call 'flashing.' December 7, 2011.

Yet more P's and Q's, this time on their north side. The display is a little different each year. December 7, 2011.

One more photo, and I'm done for the week:

Marc'ette Floral, again: It's poinsettia season in their south room. December 9, 2011.

I thought of writing something about poinsettias, how the Aztecs called them cuetlaxochitl, who first mentioned them in Europe, that the red things are called bracts, and more of that sort of thing. But somebody beat me to it:

The U. of I. folks did a nice job with that website: including a history of the poinsettia; and how to care for your potted plant, provided that it's a poinsettia.

Sunday, December 4, 2011. Depending on how you calculate it, there are 20 or 21 shopping days left until Christmas.

There's a little snow on the ground here in Sauk Centre. Not much, though. I saw a few snowflakes come down today. But not many.

Even so, the air is nippy enough to make it 'feel like' we're on the pre-Christmas countdown.

I haven't been out much this week, so if you're looking for what's been happening in Sauk Centre, I'd suggest checking out the Sauk Centre Herald, our weekly newspaper. They do news, not the sort of thing I write: and that's another topic. There's a good piece of advice in the Sauk Herald, from Wednesday this week: "Residents reminded to lock up." Between high-value stuff that folks are likely to have in their vehicles, and holiday craziness, it's a good reminder.

I had time to grill burgers at noon Saturday and Sunday, and 'took Sunday off.' Otherwise, I've been spending a lot of my time doing some work for my son-in-law. He's been planning what Spiral Light Candle ("a candle with a twist:" will be doing next year. He's invented a new twist - literally - on candles, and I think they're great. The last I heard, Hidden Treasure and Marc'ette Floral are carrying them.

'Perfect gift,' and all that.

Okay, now that I've got that blatant self-promotion out of the way: I'll try to have something to show next week. With folks getting their outdoor Christmas decorations, that shouldn't be too hard.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011. Here's what I said I planned to get done, back on Sunday:

Remember that picture I took, on Saturday, November 19? Here's what it looked like by the next Thursday. November 24, 2011.

This is the picture I was talking about: Saturday's snowfall. November 19, 2011.

Twas Thanksgiving eve, and we view on the lawn
Eight reindeer, a sleigh, plus a tree and a fawn:
All spangled with lights colored blue, green and red,
And picture of Santa Claus hung on the shed.

Nope. I don't think that's going to outshine Clement Clarke Moore's "A Visit from St. Nicholas."

Christmas yard decorations start showing up before Thanksgiving, though. Which is a good idea, here in Minnesota. Quite a few folks got theirs out before the snow fell.

It's the night before Thanksgiving: time for the first Christmas lights. November 23, 2011.

Christmas lights at the corner of South Ash and 9th. November 23, 2011.

I like the way neighborhoods light up, this time of year. November 23, 2011.

The 'Sauk Centre Gills' visited #2 daughter & son-in-law for Thanksgiving, and I'm just about recovered from that trip. I hope you had a fine Thanksgiving, and will see you Sunday.

Sunday, November 27, 2011. I had a good Thanksgiving Day weekend, spent with my family at #2 daughter & son-in-law's place. I got home with the rest of the 'Sauk Centre Gills' last night.

Some folks have their Christmas displays up and lit, which is a sort of Thanksgiving tradition in this area.

We've had snow, quite a bit of it melted, we've had more snow: all of which is about par for the course here in Minnesota. There's more to say and show, but it's late and I need my sleep.

My plan is to get more done, sometime tomorrow.

Sunday, November 20, 2011. Sounds like some folks weren't quite ready for winter driving:

"Saturday's wintry weather is wreaking havoc on some of Minnesotaís major roads.

"The Minnesota State Patrol said westbound Interstate 94 near St. Cloud closed Saturday afternoon due to several crashes. The closure spread from St. Cloud to Albany and Freeport. The interstate was closed around 3 p.m. and reopened at 4 p.m. ..."
(I-94 Reopened Near St. Cloud: State Patrol," CBS Minnesota (November 19, 2011))

I heard that about 50 vehicles were involved in the Albany-to-Freeport pile-up. Definitely not good. That CBS Minnesota article has more about yesterday's weather and traffic, and says we had 200 crashes in the state yesterday. The good news is that apparently nobody got seriously hurt: or killed.

Remember that photo I showed, last week? The one that showed a little bit of snow from a Thursday-morning shower?

Snow on the ground, Thursday morning: not much; and gone by the end of the day. November 10, 2011.

We've got a lot more than that, now. This isn't official, but I'm pretty sure Sauk Centre got four inches by the time the snow stopped.

Green grass, and folks already have Christmas decorations out? Maybe they heard the weather forecast. November 18, 2011.

An inflatable turkey. There's a joke about low-calorie holiday eating somewhere here: but I can't quite find it. November 18, 2011.

I spent as much of Saturday inside as I could. Which is saying something, since I generally am out grilling burgers around noon on weekends. It wasn't entirely the weather: I'm not a 40-year-old kid any more, and decided to be sensible.

Cat. Window. Snow outside. "Tranquil" - that's the word I wanted. November 19, 2011.

Mid-afternoon in the back yard. It's Minnesota, so we might be using that table again by next Thursday. November 19, 2011.

Walmart parking lot, Saturday afternoon. Between plows and wind, there wasn't all that much snow to deal with. November 19, 2011.

Today was a beautiful wintry day: bright blue sky, sparkling snow, the works. If the five-day forecast is even close to accurate, that's going to change pretty soon. Which is no surprise. It's like you've heard before: In Minnesota, we don't have climate. We have weather.

Sunday, November 13, 2011. Looks like Friday the 13th falls on a Sunday this month.

Charlie Company is still deployed, I read in the Sauk Centre Herald that the public school is making some sort of change in its lunch schedule, and we got snow on Thursday.

Snow on the ground, Thursday morning: not much; and gone by the end of the day. November 10, 2011.

It wasn't much snow, and it had melted by the end of the afternoon. Or maybe evaporated. Whatever, it was gone. But, for one brief moment: we had snow on the ground! Sort of.

Some sort of bug has been making the rounds. I've heard that some folks got 'strep,' which doesn't sound like much fun at all.

Apart from that, and the sort of thing you can read in the Sauk Herald, I don't have much to report. Except that I was out, grilling burgers, again this weekend. I'm refining my technique, and didn't convert either Saturday or Sunday's batch into briquettes.

Sunday, November 6, 2011. It's that time of year, when pumpkins that didn't get converted into Jack 'o lanterns find their way into Thanksgiving displays. Or, this morning at Our Lady of Angels church, are pressed into service as makeshift doorstops.

The dock's been hauled ashore at the Sauk Lake public landing, down by the campground. Odds are pretty good that we're still a long way from having ice on the lake, but this is central Minnesota: and it doesn't hurt to be careful.

Autumn scene at Sauk Centre's public landing. November 4, 2011.

Folks who go in for yard decorations are probably concentrating on Thanksgiving Day themes at the moment, but as usual some folks are also getting their Christmas lights up now, before it snows.

First Christmas lights: First I've seen, anyway. They look better at night, of course. November 4, 2011.

This is the weekend when we're treated to jet lag, thanks to the 'spring forward/fall back' daylight saving time. Which I think may have been a slightly-sensible notion back in 1918. Today, not so much. I wrote about candle wax, Congress, and electric power, about a year ago, in one of my blogs. ("Ben Franklin and Daylight Saving Time: Even Homer Nods," posted in Apathetic Lemming of the North (November 7, 2010))

As a sort of joke, I came up with a proposal for 'improving' daylight saving time a few years ago. Happily, Congress hasn't enacted a single one of these ideas: each one as sensible as the system we have, I think. Here's what I wrote, back in 2008:

Daylight Saving Time: A Modest Proposal
Posted in Apathetic Lemming of the North (October 26, 2008)

  • Set clocks back 12 hours during August
    • Keeping people quiet during the day could save enormous amounts of energy that would otherwise be wasted on air conditioning in stores and offices
  • Set clocks back ten hours and forty minutes at noon on
    April 15
    • This 10:40 time shift would
      • Remind those who wait until the last minute to file tax returns of the date
      • Give them more than a full business-day's-worth of additional time to get their forms in
    • Ten hours and forty minutes is a large time shift, so clocks should be set forward one hour and twenty minutes at 2:00 a.m.
      • For eight days
        • April 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, and 15
      • To minimize psychological stress
    • Although this stress-relieving measure might not save significant amounts of energy, the psychological effects could make a significant difference in quality of life
  • Finally, replace the evening of December 31 with
    Substance Abuse and Drug Interaction Study Time
    • Instead of over-indulging during New Year's Eve parties, citizens would be encouraged to learn about
      • Substance abuse
      • Dangers of mixing prescription drugs and alcohol
    • This should
      • Reduce deaths in drunk-driving accidents
      • Alleviate the need for expensive security measures in places like New York's Times Square
      • Promote sober, healthy lifestyles among the general public.

On the other hand, maybe I shouldn't joke about this sort of thing. With an election coming up, someone might run on a 'more silly rules about time keeping' platform - and win.

Sunday, October 30, 2011. Tomorrow is Halloween, so 'happy Halloween,' a day early. My wife and #3 daughter have been cutting wicks for the Spiral Light Candle company. That's #2 daughter and my son-in-law's outfit. Aside from that, it's been a quiet couple of weeks in this household. I've had some sort of bug, and my wife's getting over something she ate. She's missed Soo Bahk Do Thursday of this week, and today.

Making long strands of wick into shorter strands. October 28, 2011.

Enough about me and this family.

Our Lady of Angels church had our annual polka Mass: Larry's Concertina Band from Rochester, Minnesota, did the music this year. I enjoy those polka Masses: but suppose they're not for everybody.

Larry's Concertina Band at Our Lady of Angels polka Mass. October 30, 2011.

Rain. We've been having rain. Not a whole lot on any given day, but we've been having rain. Damp, cool, wet, rain.  I grilled burgers this noon, anyway.

October's not-so-bright, not-so-blue weather. October 30, 2011.

I haven't gotten out much recently, so here's a selection of photos from recent Halloweens:

Whoops. That's getting ahead of the season. December 21, 2008

If that person's standing straight, the house is leaning. The top Jack 'o lantern looks a little worried. October 31, 2008.

I like this one: He's looking at the world from a new angle. October 31, 2008.

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

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

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

Here's my contribution to Halloween spookiness.

See you again, next week!

Sunday, October 23, 2011. Last Sunday was one of those wonderful October days. Today was another sort of October day: roofed over by gray ribs of cloud, dampened by drizzle, all a chilly reminder that summer is over.

I've had my flu shot for the season, at Coborn's pharmacy. There were only four pages of paperwork to fill out: and the injection itself was an anticlimax. I barely felt it. Not that I'm complaining.

Next week we'll be having a polka Mass at Our Lady of the Angels church. I'm looking forward to that: but then, I don't mind loud music.

Sunday, October 16, 2011. Today was another one of those "October's bright blue weather" days, pretty much like yesterday. A bit windy, seasonally brisk, and very blue sky.

Some trees, like the one at your left, seem to be going straight from green leaves to bare branches this year. October 15, 2011.

Autumn weather is pretty, and I appreciate that. It's also a sort of 'heads-up' that winter's coming: and that it's time for the usual seasonal routines.

We've had a technician come out and check out the furnace, so we should be good for the winter. At least, there aren't any obvious maintenance issues.

My wife put plastic sheeting over the window by my desk yesterday. #1 daughter's cat, who was here for the weekend - #1 daughter that is, accompanied by cat - was fascinated by what my wife was doing.

I've heard that Diversicom, a regional communications company, has changed hands: but didn't have time to learn details.

Sunday, October 9, 2011. The last few days have been the sort of typical Minnesota autumn days that tourism promoters probably don't like to emphasize: gray sky, wet pavement, the sort of day that makes being inside a treat. I like both the picture-postcard days and the other sort, myself. There's something to be said for contrast.

Sun hidden by a roof of cloud. October 9, 2011.

Wet streets, damp sidewalk: Our Lady of Angels church. October 9, 2011.

We're nowhere near having ice on the lakes. Not thick enough for ice fishing, anyway. Looks like someone's getting ready, anyway. At least, I'm assuming that the possibly-unique red trailer I saw is someone's ice house.

Part of a semi, refitted for ice fishing? October 9, 2011.

I've been watching a wind turbine going up in the industrial park on the west side of town. Today's the first day I noticed it in operation.

Wind power in Sauk Centre. Either that, or the biggest pinwheel in this part of Minnesota. October 9, 2011.

A closer look at the new-style windmill. October 9, 2011.

Charlie Company's been deployed, again, for a while now. The 1st State Bank sign has some good advice, I think.

"Remember Charlie Company?" Works for me. October 9, 2011.

Tomorrow's Columbus Day: which means that the banks and Post Office will be closed. I don't expect many stores or offices will be closed, though. And that's another subject.

Sunday, October 2, 2011. We've had those typical Minnesota autumn days: crisp air, clear skies, ridiculously cheerful sunlight.

Blue sky, trees turning color: a picture-postcard autumn day. September 27, 2011.

We've also had those typical Minnesota autumn days: chilling air, grim skies, not a ray of sunlight under the gray roof of clouds.

Ungers: stock liquidation sale in progress. September 27, 2011.

Unger Furniture, downtown, has been running radio ads this week: they're selling the entire inventory, to pay estate taxes.

On a happier note, Our Lady of Angels church has a new Gospel Book.

New/replacement Gospel Book at Our Lady of the Angels church. October 2, 2011.

Dr. Mayer, the dentist - and I hope I've spelled the name right - donated the new book, in memory of his wife, done in the same style as the one that got stolen. It's good to have one again.

I turned 60 on Friday, and am still enjoying these balloons. October 1, 2011.

I've been distracted this weekend: for a happy reason. I turned 60 on Friday, and celebrated the event with my family.

Sunday, September 25, 2011. I was out, as usual, grilling burgers after church today. It's been one of those picture-postcard days, except the autumn colors haven't quite come yet.

Clear sky, sunshine, trees not quite showing autumn colors yet. September 25, 2011.

Hey! This is cool: The Sauk Centre Herald says that CentraCare Clinic - Sauk Centre ( (that used to be Lakeview Medical Clinic) has medical records available on their website. You're supposed to be able to access yours and your children's, to get information like immunization records and medical history. I haven't tried it yet.

Or, rather, I haven't filled out the paperwork: which the article tells me I could do over at Lakeview, or at The CentraCare Clinic - Sauk Centre's "Online Health Information" menu gets visitors to a sort of newsletter with general information.

Sunday, September 18, 2011. The weekday afternoon rush out of school is part of my life again. Or, rather, part of my life's backdrop. That time of day, I'm generally at my desk, occasionally glancing out the window to see what the horn honking or tire screeching is about.

For some reason, there isn't so much of a concentrated stream of traffic going toward the school each morning.

That July 10 storm left quite an impression on Sauk Centre: figuratively and literally. I still see the occasional tilted stump. For the most part, though, folks here have cleared debris, patched sidewalks, and gotten back to life's routines.

Since I haven't been out much this week, and still have quite a few photos of storm damage: Today's entry is mostly pictures from July.

The AmericInn sign post and frame, near Main and the Interstate, weathered the storm fine. The sign, not so much: it's the tattered banner clinging to the frame. July 20, 2011.

Our birdbath works just fine, and looks a bit like the old-fashioned concrete sort: but it's a plastic shell. I put quite a lot of sand in the post, to make it stable, and let gravity and a friction fit take care of the bowl. The birdbath's bowl flew away during the July storm.

I looked around the yard, and the front yards of the neighbors, but didn't spot it. Given what I'd seen the storm do elsewhere, I figured that lightweight plastic bowl was somewhere in northwestern Stearns County. Or southern Todd.

As I recall, a bit over a week later, the birdbath bowl showed up on our yard, near the street. Someone must have spotted it at their place, worked out where it came from, and returned the thing.


Birdbath bowl's back. July 20, 2011.

More photos, from late July, 2011:

The little Marian shrine's pretty much undamaged. The debris is mostly pieces of trees that were cut into manageable lengths. July 25, 2011.

Jitters Java put a rather showy branch in their sign, sort of like a table's centerpiece. This photo shows what it looked like, shortly before they took it out. The branch, I mean. The sign's still there. July 25, 2011.

Gopher Prairie Motel's sign shows why it's a good idea to stay under cover during this sort of storm. July 25, 2011.

Today's been a seasonally-appropriate gray, rainy, cool autumn day. I stayed inside as much as possible. I never did see the charm in taking strolls in the rain. Maybe because my glasses tended to fog up.

Sunday, September 11, 2011. School has started, so the regular mid-afternoon rush down South 9th to Ash is part of the daily schedule again. We've been having picture-postcard weather, which is great for taking photos: not necessarily good news for crops. Still, it could be worse: Folks in Texas are not having a good year.

U.S. Drought Monitor. (map adapted from The Drought Monitor, National Drought Mitigation Center, Lincoln, Nebraska, used w/o permission) Tuesday, July 25, 2011.

Folks took care of the worst of that July 10th storm's cleanup as soon as the wind and rain let up, or the day after. I've seen tarps over a few roofs: good enough, I trust, to get the homeowners through winter, giving them time to work out finances for a more permanent patch.

Jitters Java, downtown, is one of the business with storm-stressed signage. They've got a pretty good temporary fix set up: a sort of easel at the bottom of the sign's apparently-undamaged mast.

Jitters Java sign: 'some assembly required. September 9, 2011.

Our Lady of Angels' Gospel Book hasn't been replaced. I don't know how long that'll take. The things can't be cheap: but of all the useless things to steal - - - who's going to buy the thing intact? The book's gold cover is real: but the gold was a thin layer of anodized gold, no more than a few microns thick. I doubt it'd be worth the trouble, trying to scrape the metal off.

Oh, well: we're getting by okay. This morning I learned that for the time being the church will be unlocked during weekday mornings and afternoons: nice for folks who'd been in the habit of stopping in.

Today's the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attack. New York City's put on an event for the occasion. We're not New York City: Our observances have been more along the lines of flags at half-staff.

Our Lady of Angels, Labor Day Sunday. September 11, 2011.

That's what I've got for this week. See you next Sunday!

Sunday, September 4, 2011. This is going to a short entry. I've had a big week: but not much of it had to do with Sauk Centre.

We're in the middle of Labor Day Weekend, the unofficial end of summer. It's been one of those nearly-perfect days: not particularly hot, and clearish skies. Except when it rained.

Our Lady of Angels, Labor Day Sunday. September 4, 2011.

There was something missing this morning at Our Lady of Angels church. Someone stole the Gospel Book, and the votive candle money. The loose-change-plus-bills in the candle boxes doesn't hurt all that much. The Gospel Book? I'll miss that. (More, in "Loving Our Neighbors: Even the One Who Stole the Gospel Book," A Catholic Citizen in America (September 4, 2011))

Now we have to start locking the church when it's not in use. This is the second time something's been stolen. Disappointing.

The good news is that nobody got hurt.

Sunday, August 28, 2011. I've been a little distracted this week: a lot, actually. The Sauk Centre Gills have been helping my son-in-law and #2 daughter at the Spiral Light Candle company. They've got a website up,, with a video showing how the self filling candle works.

Now that I've gotten that shameless plug out of the way, a few words about the beautiful weather we've had, Sauk Centre School's open house this Tuesday, and 'day after' photos from that storm we had back in July. Like this set:

Sinclair Lewis Park, down by the lake, lost quite a few trees during that storm in July. July 11, 2011.

What's remarkable is that the gazebo and the 'umbrella fountain' came through in one piece. And that nobody was hurt or killed. July 11, 2011.

That tree took part of the sidewalk with it. This was in Sinclair Lewis Park, but the tree-and-sidewalk situation was pretty common around town. July 11, 2011.

It takes a lot of force to snap a tree like that. July 11, 2011.

That's it for today. I've been up to North Dakota for the weekend: a sort of family visit plus working with candles. I'm glad we went, glad we're back, and in need of sleep. Good night.

Sunday, August 21, 2011. The Sauk Centre Herald is running a story about a scam that's costing us about $2,000,000,000 dollars. That's nationally: The Chicago Sun-Times published an editorial about cramming, and why Congress should let the FCC get the new rules they want. (Chicago Sun-Times (August 3, 2011))

Basically, cramming is a company getting your telephone service provider to add a little to your bill. Cramming companies often work through a middleman, and keep their bogus charges low enough to avoid getting noticed. That's the idea, anyway: checking your monthly bill for charges you didn't authorize is a good idea.

Here's more about telephone cramming:

Enough of the 'public service announcement.'

Once again, I've got photos to show off.

Much depends on what a person decides to notice. There's an empty sidewalk, a lawn with some bare ground: but look closer - - -. August 21, 2011.

- - - There's also a set of cheerful sunflowers in bloom. August 21, 2011.

This morning at Our Lady of Angels church. Just one word: Aww. August 21, 2011.

Summer clouds south of the Sauk Centre School. August 21, 2011.

I see that Sauk Centre Public School's open house is August 30: a week from Tuesday. Classes start September 6 - and the first two-day vacation is October 20 and 21. Why there's a vacation there I didn't see.

I plan to get out and enjoy summer while it's still here. Maybe next week will have more days like today. Or, maybe not.

Sunday, August 14, 2011. I've heard that 'a picture is worth a thousand words.' I hope you feel that way, since that's just about all I've got today. I got back last week from that trade show in Pennsylvania, and am still a bit tired. Odd - thirty years ago, I could do this sort of thing with scarcely any noticeable effect. (Links to posts I wrote while there: "Catholic Marketing Network Trade Show")

Anyway, here are those pictures.

There's something I wanted to get done tonight - what was it? Photos. Right.

Those 'stop for pedestrian' signs are out again. I suppose it could have something to do with school starting soon. August 14, 2011.

MCCL rummage sale at the fairgrounds. The sign at the main gate, actually. August 14, 2011.

The Stearns County fairgrounds is pretty quiet now. Look carefully, and you'll see two midway rides, packed up but still parked on the grass. August 14, 2011.

It's been one of those beautiful summer days - complete with fleecy clouds. I hope you had a chance to get out and enjoy it.

Friday, July 29, 2011. I generally add something to the Sauk Centre Journal on Sunday. That's not going to happen this week, since I plan to be on my way to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on Sunday. The plan is for me to help my son-in-law and #2 daughter at a trade show there. ("Trade Show in Pennsylvania, Ecclesiastes, Software, and Schedules," A Catholic Citizen in America (July 26, 2011))

If all goes well, I'll be back somewhere in the second week of August. So there won't be anything new here next weekend, either. After that: I hope to be back to a more normal schedule. Also getting some rest, but that shouldn't affect the S. C. Journal.

There's something I wanted to get done tonight - what was it? Photos. Right.

Folks get ready for the parade, often starting Friday morning. July 15, 2011.

Sinclair Lewis Days Parade went along its old route, past my house, this year: Minnesota's government shutdown made closing Highway 71/Main Street impossible. July 15, 2011.

Coborn's grocerymobile, or whatever it's called, is one of my favorite parts of the parade. July 15, 2011.

Sauk Centre's fireworks are for Sinclair Lewis Days. I've yet to see the show from lakeside. Still, the corner of South 9th and Ash gives a pretty good view. July 15, 2011.

More fireworks, obviously. July 15, 2011.

Sinclair Lewis Days, downtown. I hope the weather is better next year. No storm would be nice. July 16, 2011.

That's it for now. I've got a bit of preparation - and a good night's sleep - yet to do. See you August 14, or thereabouts, I trust.

Sunday, July 17, 2011. Another storm is coming as I'm writing this, about 10:40 p.m. - but the Sinclair Lewis Days parade did not get rained out. There was even a (comparatively) refreshing breeze now and then. Since the Minnesota government shutdown made it impossible to close Highway 71, the parade went along it's old route, more or less - right past my house.

That made it possible for me to get much of it recorded on YouTube, via my webcam. (Small Town America: Minnesota) The videos are at Apathetic Lemming of the North on YouTube. Or, rather, all but one is. I'm hoping that it's caught in a buffer, somewhere, and will eventually show up.

About last Sunday's storm. My house was without power for about 21 hours - with telephone, television, and Internet connections coming back a few hours after that. The Sauk Centre Herald has done a good job of covering the storm, and the cleanup. I'll be back, with more photos, as I get them ready.

Somehow, between the storm and the heat, I've been a little off my game this week.

Green clouds, part of a tree in the street, and lots of wind. July 10, 2011.

Candles, and a battery-powered radio. That was about it for amenities Sunday night and Monday. July 10, 2011.

Nobody hurt. Not one, that I've heard of. Remarkable, under the circumstances. July 11, 2011.

These trees were on South 9th, near Ash. July 11, 2011.

Cherry-pickers - lots of activity around town. July 11, 2011.

I don't know if a city crew got that tree trimmed, or if it was someone in the neighborhood. From what I've heard, it wasn't State of Minnesota employees who dragged debris off Highway 71/Main. July 11, 2011.

South Main - folks had been cutting downed trees into manageable chunks. July 11, 2011.

Same thing, another angle. July 11, 2011.

South Main - this light pole had been snapped off. July 11, 2011.

Yes: That's a house, under the tree. July 11, 2011.

Curb damage. July 11, 2011.

Nobody hurt - remarkable. There'd been more to that tree, before I got there with a camera. July 11, 2011.

Quite a few folks were working with front-end loaders. July 11, 2011.

More of the same. July 11, 2011.

That truck had been taller, Sunday afternoon. July 11, 2011.

Repair crew's truck. July 11, 2011.

And news media. July 11, 2011.

I've got more - including quite a few photos of pickups hauling greenery. But this is enough for tonight.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011. A bit after 8:00 p.m., Sunday evening, the lights went out at my house, here in Sauk Centre. That would have been about 8:15 p.m., according to a KARE article. Power was back about 5:20 p.m. - more or less - so we were without power for only about 21 hours.

Folks east of Ash Street had power restored many hours earlier - which is just as well, since that's where Coborn's is. I was there, buying 40 pounds of ice, yesterday - and my wife was back for more, later in the day. Refrigerators and freezers have good insulation these days - but not that good.

Storm, straight line winds rip Sauk Centre (KARE)

Warning Sirens Silenced by Storm in Sauk Centre (KSTP)

A KSTP Television truck was in Sauk Centre yesterday afternoon. KARE may have had a team here, too - they've got two pretty good photos.

So do I, but they were in my camera until power was back, Sunday night: and I had some catching up to do, from those 21 power-free hours.

I'd have written something about this, and gotten it online, yesterday evening - but this house didn't get a data connection (telephone, television and Internet) until somewhere between 10:00 and 10:30 p.m. last night: at which point my #2 daughter and son-in-law phoned in, and I did catching up with him until my brain turned to tapioca. At which point I got some needed sleep.

Sauk Centre's missing hundreds of trees, and there's a fair amount of property damage - but as far as I've heard and read there were zero injuries and zero deaths. That's incredibly good news, considering how many trees came down on houses or vehicles.

Those photos I took? I've got them in my computer now - but each takes a little fixing before it's ready to put online, so it'll be later today - at the earliest - before I get those out. I've got a little video, too - but that'll have to wait, too.

Sorry about the delay, getting this written - but things have been a little, ah, interesting here.

Still, as we say in Minnesota: It could be worse.

Monday, July 4, 2011.

Sunday, July 3, 2011. This week started out with lots of sirens going by my home. Sauk Centre's emergency responders had a sort of crisis drill at the athletic field, behind the high school. I didn't time it, but I think they were there for the better part of an hour: starting around 6:00 p.m. or so.

I'll say this - from a distance it looked real. June 27, 2011.

Ambulances were ferrying 'injured' folks out - not as fast as you see in the movies, but this is a (simulated) real-world situation. June 27, 2011.

No, it's not a picnic. June 27, 2011.

Then, on Thursday, a crew came out and pulled up a utility pole on South 9th near Ash. Last week they took out a tree, now a pole: Sooner or later they'll run out of things to pull out or cut down.

Neatly done - one utility pole, pulled up, swung over, and stowed on the truck. June 30, 2011.

Tomorrow's another day. Specifically, it's Independence Day. The Fourth of July. I hope you have a good one.

Now I know what that inflatable flag reminded me of - one of those air mattresses I've seen at beaches. July 3, 2011.

My plans for Independence Day are pretty simple: wake up, and see what happens after that. Have a safe and happy Fourth!

Sunday, June 26, 2011. Our neighbors, more-or-less across the street north, had a tree removed on Friday. It was one of those that had 'character.' Or wasn't all that healthy. Depends on your point of view. Anyway, South 9th was closed off for part of the morning, and a crew made fairly short work of the towering-but-scraggly thing.

Not as spectacular as making one cut at the base, and hoping for the best - but a whole lot safer. June 24, 2011.

I finally went to the new Sauk Hop Diner on Main Street - near the corner of Sinclair Lewis Avenue and Main. "The Original Main Street," as it says on the signs. The Sauk Herald did a pretty good article on the Sauk Hop and Golden Star on January 18, 2011. There isn't much connection between the two places: except that they're not quite across from each other on Main, and fairly new. The Sauk Hop opened in February, and I missed it. Oh, well - better late than never?

The Golden Star, by the way, has a sign in the window saying that they have no connection with the previous owners. Can't say that I blame them for pointing that out, under the circumstances. I wrote about the Golden Star, on June 12, 2011.

Where was I? Main street, eateries, Sauk Hop. Right.

"Sauk Hop?" "Shear Paradise?" Folks are having fun with business names. I like it. June 24, 2011.

Definitely '50s theme inside. Good coffee, too. I haven't had a meal there yet. June 24, 2011.

Quite a bit of the shed we pulled down last weekend is in a dumpster now - and there's still debris left over, so we'll be going back for seconds. My son-in-law and #2 daughter helped cut some of the larger pieces down to size. He's developed a self-filling candle. It's called the Spiral Light Candle - I'm not going to try describing it. There's a time-lapse video of an early version that shows how these things work.

"Spiral Self Filling Candle"

anoasisproduction, YouTube, (March 15, 2011)
video, 0:42

I've reduced the video's size, to fit this page - follow the link, and you should see the original at YouTube.

If you think I'm proud of my son-in-law's new spin on candles: you're right. They're available in a few states now, including Minnesota. Provided you go to Marc'ette Floral, on Main and South 6th, or Hidden Treasure downtown. I wrote about Hidden Treasure last year, December 2, 2010, and was back last Friday.

Those large candles in the center are the Spiral Light ones. Hidden Treasure has another new wrinkle in candles, too. June 24, 2011.

Those three candles are - not candles. C batteries run a little LED that flickers a whole lot like a 'real' candle. Another technology that I hadn't seen before. June 24, 2011.

There's more - but it's late, and I need to call it a day.

Sunday, June 19, 2011. Father's Day. Some plans I had this week got rained out: and then there was that tornado watch Friday night - and part of Saturday morning. Not much happened, happily, apart from some serious lightning, thunder, and rain. Can't say I'm disappointed at that.

This weekend, some of my in-laws came over to help my wife take down an old shed in the back yard. It's been useful for storage, but also is where my wife wants a garden. I think that's it.

Anyway, it's been leaning over for the quarter-century or so we've been here, and we figured it would be a simple matter of applying pressure, and making sure nobody was in the way when it went down. Here's how the project went, starting about 11:15 Saturday morning:

The job looked simple enough: pull down one old shed. June 18, 2011.

One end of a chain to a 4x4, the other looped around a stud on the back wall. One steady pull, and the whole thing should go down. June 18, 2011.

If you look carefully, you'll see the two strips of siding that came off: although they're partly hidden by the lilac. June 18, 2011.

It was around this point that my wife said, "I thought you said I could just push it over."

I gather that the chain had cut right through one of the studs. Result: one cut stud, about two feet pulled off one strip of siding, and another yard of siding gone from the strip below that.

Now we're getting serious: that chain's secured to a corner post - - -

- - - and the shed's still standing. June 18, 2011.

South wall gone, plus half the east wall and most of the west one. And - yes, the shed is still standing. June 18, 2011.

Here we go again, cutting through more supports. June 18, 2011.

Pulling another corner post out - and not much else moved. June 18, 2011.

Not long after this, there wasn't much left holding up the roof. And, finally, the shed finally was down. Pretty much. June 18, 2011.

The shed finally went down about 35 minutes after the first two strips of siding came off. The next step is hauling it away, a few pieces at a time.

The other big deal for me also has more to do with the Gill household than Sauk Centre as a whole. The freezer we bought a quarter-century back, more or less, stopped working today. (Father's Day - and the Freezer Gave Up, Through One Dad's Eye (June 19, 2011))

I've got checking out the new eatery at Sinclair Lewis and Main high on my 'to do' list for next week - we'll see how that comes out.

Sunday, June 12, 2011. I got around to putting the hummingbird feeder up today: a bit late, but we had a cool spring this year.

I was downtown, yesterday afternoon, mostly to take  few photos. ("The Original") Main Street doesn't look all that different than it did last year - apart from a new eatery at the corner of Sinclair Lewis and Main. There are changes, though. Heartland Gallery offers a laser engraving service now - I didn't ask when they started doing that.

Heartland Gallery's new(ish) service. June 11, 2011.

Main Street ("The Original") west side. June 11, 2011.

Across the street, Gold 'N More has a going-out-of-business sale. They've been a downtown feature for quite a few years. I'm sorry to see the gifts-and-stuff store close. I've mentioned Gold 'N More before: April 3, 2004, November 14, 2003, October 16, 2003, October 5, 2003, September 19, 2003.

On a happier note, Sauk Centre has a Chinese restaurant again: Golden Star: "Take Out or Dine In," as the sign says. I understand the place has new owners as well as a new name.

This is at least the third Chinese (or Chinese/Mexican) restaurant at that location. Watching their efforts has been an interesting ride, so far. I've written about that on June 22, May 16, and April 4, 2008. There was another Chinese restaurant in the same location: June 24, 2007. More recently, I've mentioned Andy's Wok in the Sauk Centre Journal Blog:

I don't generally keep track of one business like that - but the Chinese restaurants have been a colorful part of downtown Sauk Centre, and I'd like to see this one succeed.

Gold 'N More: They've been around for a while. June 11, 2011.

Golden Star: New owners, I understand, and new name. June 11, 2011.

Golden Star's heads-up to my parish. June 12, 2011.

So far, the new owners seem to be a great deal more on-the-ball than previous ones: at least as when it comes to letting folks know that their Golden Star is open and ready for business.

It's a beautiful evening: There's still time to sit outside and enjoy it, which is what I'm going to do now.

Sunday, June 5, 2011. Weather and the calendar are finally on the same page. It feels like summer, and has for several days.

Lilacs: I like the way they look. I understand the odor isn't everybody's favorite. Still - they're pretty. May 28, 2011.

This belongs with last week's post - 'better late than never?' Our Lady of Angels church, Memorial weekend's Sunday. May 29, 2011.

Maple (I think) seed - fun to watch. June 5, 2011.

I'm no expert, but I think that's a maple seed. They're ripe - and fun to watch as they whirl through the air. I ran into an interesting article and video about the science behind the seeds. Dandelions have been in bloom, too - colorful, and it's fun to blow seeds off the ripe heads. I think so, anyway. The things are also weeds, since they grow like, well: weeds.

Wildflower, or weed - depends partly on where they are. June 5, 2011.

A sort of raised fire pit. June 5, 2011.

My wife and #3 daughter went to a Soo Bahk Do tournament in St. Cloud today, so I walked to church this morning. On the way back, I noticed something I don't remember seeing before: a sort of raised fire pit that somebody's obviously been using to have a sort of 'sitting around the campfire' experience in their front yard. Neat!

Finally, Amy Poepping & Family, and Nick Lahr have made a music CD, Perfect Love. I understand it was recorded on Wednesday of this week - and isn't out yet. Proceeds will go to St. Paul's Church - the next parish over from Our Lady of Angles, where I go. That's an interesting variation on the usual 'bake sale' fundraiser.

Sunday, May 8, 2011. Mother's Day. The week before this one, we had the usual 'Minnesota sampler' variety of weather: dreary rain, relentlessly cheerful skies, and just about everything between.

Thursday afternoon rain, last week. April 27, 2011.

Friday afternoon lilac bud, last week. by. April 28, 2011.

Right - I almost forgot the blooming trees and all that. Springtime in Minnesota. Which is the time of year when the local Knights of Columbus council does our annual 'Tootsie Roll drive,' for places like Camphill Village. I don't know the latest 'correct' term for folks who have (developmental disabilities???).

Which didn't keep me from putting in time at Coborn's, a week ago last Friday. Some of the other fellows handed out Tootsie Rolls at Mass in several churches around here, that weekend. (A tip of the hat to Coborn's in Sauk Centre, for letting us stand there.)

Charity fundraiser at Coborn's: the K. of C. 'Tootsie Roll drive.' April 29, 2011.

Today had it all: gray skies with dreary rain; and bright blue cheerfulness.

Before Mass at Our Lady of the Angels Church in Sauk Centre, Minnesota. May 8, 2011.

During Mass at Our Lady of the Angels church. May 8, 2011.

We said a series of prayers for mothers this morning at Our Lady of the Angels church. Since one of my daughters and son-in-law were here for the weekend, I got my first look at Gerard's meeting hall, behind the restaurant. I'd known it was there - but hadn't realized how large it was.

Gerard's meeting room, Mother's Day. May 8, 2011.

There's more - there always seems to be more - but it's getting late, and this will do for this week.

Sunday, May 29, 2011. It's the midpoint of Memorial Day weekend. I'm taking it easy this weekend, in sharp contrast to the folks in Charlie Company. Here's an excerpt from the Sauk Centre Herald's website:

"The community of Sauk Centre said goodbye, for the next 12 months anyway, to the 131 soldiers in Charlie Company on Wednesday, May 25, at the VictriVillage Campus as the unit prepares for their 12-month mission in Kuwait.

" 'We will deploy to write the final chapter of the Iraq war,' said Lieutenant Colonel Brian Melton, commander of the 1st Combined Arms Battalion, 194th Armor (1-194 CAB). He addressed the friends and family who gathered to support the troops that afternoon...." (Sauk Centre Herald (Friday, May 27, 2011))

There's quite a lot more at the Herald website ( about Charlie Company, and their sendoff. Including photos.

Our Lady of the Angels church had a special collection for tornado relief this weekend. Weather around here has been, thankfully, much less interesting.

I plan to be back, before next Sunday, with a photo or two: but we'll see what actually happens.

Sunday, May 22, 2011. I'm mostly doing 'catch up' today, with some photos that could have gone with earlier entries - but didn't.

Most yard sale items go for a whole lot less than this. May 15, 2011.

Blue sky. Sunshine. Lilac flower that aren't quite out yet. May 15, 2011.

Just before the last season's last high school band concert. May 16, 2011.

These are the 'band concert' photos I mentioned last week. The auditorium wasn't 'standing room only,' but there weren't many empty seats, either.

Sauk Centre High school band concert. May 16, 2011.

Photos of a band concert miss something important, of course: the music. May 16, 2011.

My #1 daughter and I went to the afternoon showing of Thor at Mainstreet Theatre today. Good movie, by the way: in my opinion. Crossing the corner of Sinclair Lewis Avenue and Main, I noticed that the First National Bank clock looked odd.

First National Bank clock: or, rather, where the clock has been. May 22, 2011.

Taking a closer look, I noticed - there was no clock in the bank sign. No wonder it looked different. Why the clock isn't there, I don't know. As I said last month, I gotta get out more.

Monday, May 16, 2011. Another beautiful day. I've been distracted by the clear blue sky, and a few tasks around the house.

Then, this evening, I went to the last band concert of the school year. I might even have a photo or two for Sunday's entry. Or, not. We'll see how that turns out. Folks filled the auditorium, someone at the back was making a video of the concert, and they were out of programs by the time I arrived. I enjoyed the music, anyway.

Besides: It's not all that easy to read in the dark.

Sunday, May 15, 2011. What a beautiful day! Blue sky, mild temperatures, and too early in the season for mosquitoes. Neighbors across the street had a yard sale this weekend, folks farther down the street have a boat for sale.

I grilled burgers around noon, and relaxed for the rest of the day.

I'll get around to writing something tomorrow.

That's the plan, anyway.

Sunday, May 1, 2011. Divine Mercy Sunday. A few snowflakes were coming down this morning when the family went to church this morning. As I've said before, springtime in Minnesota is - different.

My oldest daughter came to visit this weekend, arriving Friday afternoon. As usual, she brought her cat, Twitches, with her. Twitches earned her name - and was even more 'twitchy' and nervous Friday afternoon.

Probably for good reason: #1 daughter told me that she'd heard the early-morning earthquake in Alexandria that morning.

Normally, I'd be writing more about Sauk Centre: but this week I'm concentrating on excerpts from the news about that earthquake:

"Earthquake Hits Alexandria, MN; Very Unlikely in Duluth"
Jacob Kittilstad & photojournalist Jeff Ernewein, FOX 21 News (Duluth, Minnesota) (April 29, 2011)

"Early Friday morning in Alexandria, Minnesota, neighbors had a shakey awakening.

"An earthquake rattled part of the city causing no injuries but leaving some Minnesotans wondering if it could happen anywhere else.

" 'I have never heard of an earthquake happening in the Midwest,' one Duluth woman said leaving the grocery store.

" 'Yeah, it would be weird.'

"But, at 2:30 a.m. it happened the U.S. Geological Survey said. The magnitude reading was a 2.5 in Alexandria where worried phone calls poured into authorities...."

"Minor quake shakes western Minnesota"
U.S. News, UPI (April 29. 2011)

"A minor earthquake rattled western Minnesota early Friday, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

"The quake measured 2.5 on the Richter scale, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported. The epicenter appeared to be on the edge of the town of Alexandria, near the airport.

"John Bellini, a geophysicist with the survey, said about 20 people reported feeling the quake. There were no reports of damage...."

"Earthquakes happened in region in 1975, 1993"
Echo Press (Alexandria, Minnesota) (April 29, 2011)

"Keith Brugger, a Professor of Geology at the University of Minnesota, Morris, said he hadn't yet reviewed any information regarding Friday's quake, but added that it probably was an event on the Great Lakes Tectonic Zone.

"West Central Minnesota sits on a 'suture,' or boundary, of the GLTZ. About 2.5 billion years ago, rocks of the Minnesota River Valley, which are 3.5 billion years old, collided with the slightly younger volcanic mass represented by granites and 'greenstones,' Brugger said.

" 'That event happened so long ago and we're still living with its legacy,' Brugger said.

"The greenstones were volcanic island arcs -- such as Japan and the Philippines -- that previously collided and contributed to the formation of North America, Brugger stated...."

"Magnitude 2.5 Earthquake Strikes Near Alexandria, Minn." (Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota) (April 29, 2011)

"A rare earthquake struck western Minnesota early Friday, rattling ceiling tiles and prompting a few curious callers to phone 911 but going largely unnoticed by most of the sleeping public, authorities said.

"The quake, which the U.S. Geological Survey said was magnitude-2.5, struck at 2:20 a.m. and was felt mostly in the Alexandria area.

"Sgt. Tom Egan of the Douglas County sheriff's office said staff at the county's 911 center felt it and took 25 to 30 calls from the public, mostly from people who were just curious. By contrast, he said, county dispatchers typically get hundreds of calls during severe thunderstorms.

"Callers reported some noise and minor movement, including "ceiling tiles bouncing just a touch," Egan said. But he said nobody reported any damage or anyone hurt. Relatively few people in the largely rural area would have been awake at the time, he said.

"He said the department was referring callers to the USGS web site for further information.

"Minnesota gets a 'feelable' earthquake every five to 10 years on average, though that can vary a lot -- and more often than not, they're in west-central Minnesota, said Val Chandler, a geophysicist with the Minnesota Geological Survey...."

Sunday, April 24, 2011. Easter Sunday. It's been one of those spring days that live up to the season's 'flowers that bloom in the spring, tra-la' reputation: clear blue sky, not all that cool, and enough breeze to keep smoke out of my eyes when I grilled burgers this noon.

Palm Sunday in Our Lady of the Angels church. With - what else? - palms. April 17, 2011.

There's been more greenery in Our Lady of the Angels church, where I go, than any other season - except for Christmas. Palm Sunday's the most spectacular, in its own way, with those palm - leaves? fronds? whatever you call those shrub-size things.

Easter Sunday in Our Lady of the Angels Church: Not so much green, but a whole lot of lilies. April 24, 2011.

This week's Sauk Centre Herald's front page story was "Sauk Centre school board hears more public input on budget cut proposals." I gather that, one way or another, there isn't going to be as much money available for the public school: and none of the options are particularly fun. Aside from state and national economics, I gather that there just aren't as many students in the schools as there were a few years ago.

One of the cost-cutting ideas is to cut some administrative positions. My opinion is that I'm glad I'm not the one having to make the hard decisions. One set of folks or another is going to be displeased, no matter what, I suspect.

Also in the online Herald is a short piece about Main Street Gallery - a new business. I haven't been out for, well, a few weeks: so that's news to me.

Now that it's warming up, I gotta get out more.

Sunday, April 17, 2011. I see I missed last week's entry. Sorry about that. Today is Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week - and snow is off the ground. Again.

I'm not complaining: in a way, we're getting spring twice this year. The first week of April was bright, cheery, warm - and saw the street sweeper roaring by, giving the pavement a good scrub and rinse.

A sign of spring in Sauk Centre: the street sweeper roaring by. April 6, 2011.

Then, this week, we got our April showers. Snow showers: rain, frozen stuff, and finally snow.

April showers - Minnesota style. April 16, 2011.

I like living in Minnesota, where our weather isn't the same familiar routine, year after year.

Sunday, April 3, 2011. I see in the Sauk Center Herald that we got around eight or 10 inches of snow this week. It looks like more, but that probably has to do with drifting.

The snow won't be around for long. Probably. This is Minnesota, after all: we had no snow in March last year, quite a bit this year, and there was that April 5-April 7, 2008 storm. ("Very Heavy Snow of April 5 - April 7, 2008" (Minnesota Climatology Working Group, State Climatology Office - DNR Division of Ecological and Water Resources University of Minnesota)) Whatever else can be said about Minnesota's climate: it's not boring.

I took some photos of drifts outside my back door that didn't make it into last week's entry. Those are in the Sauk Centre Journal's blog: " 'Spring is Here!' - More Photos," Sauk Centre Journal Blog (March 27, 2011).

That's all for today. I've been a bit distracted: #2 daughter and my son-in-law had a lively time yesterday afternoon, when a car caught fire in their garage. (" 'It was Only a Small Fire'," Through One Dad's Eye (April 2, 2011)) They're okay, and so - thanks to quick thinking, cool heads, and a logging chain - is the house. Still, I've been a bit distracted. Which I wrote before.

Time to stop for the day: goodnight, all!

Sunday, March 27, 2011. Oops. I didn't make an entry last week. Sorry about that! I plan to remember that flu shot, next winter.

Wednesday was a fine day: provided you could stay inside. Wind blew the snow into artistically-sculpted drifts. The snow itself was warm and wet enough to be a tad resistant to anyone trying to shovel it, though. Still, it looked nice.

Ah, to be in Minnesota in the spring. March 23, 2011.

It may have been there for some time, but I noticed a ding in the First State Bank's doorway trim on Friday. How it got there is a good question. Someone going too fast, coming in to park, maybe?

Ding in the First State Bank doorway trim. March 25, 2011.

My wife and #3 daughter got inspired on Friday, and celebrated spring with a snowman trio. One of which is in a lawn chair.

"Spring is here!" That's the spirit! March 25, 2011.

You may find a photo of that in Tuesday's Sauk Centre Herald. We'll see how that goes.

More photos from today's entry, on the Sauk Centre Journal Blog.

Sunday, March 13, 2011. St. Patrick's Day is coming up this week, and last night we went through the 'spring forward' part of Daylight Saving Time. Which Ben Franklin apparently thought would be a great way to save on candle wax:

I experienced something like 'jet lag' this afternoon, but went to the Steve Ray Lenten kickoff this evening. That's not what it's called, though. "Lenten Parish Mission 'Contemplating the Passion & What Christ Has Done for Us' " is what's on one of the fliers.

Sauk Centre High School auditorium this evening, a few minutes before Steve Ray got started. March 13, 2011.

There's something about the Stations of the Cross tomorrow at 3:00 in the afternoon, at Our Lady of the Angels, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament from 4:00 to 7:00, and something about St. John the apostle from 7:00 to 9:00. It's going to be a different sort of Monday for me.

I've been sharing a cold, or something, with some of the family last week: and am duly grateful that it cleared up by the weekend. For me, anyway. Let's see, what else? We had a winter weather advisory Friday night and Saturday morning, which left an inch or so of heavy, wet snow on the ground.

That's all I can think of at the moment. Good night, and see you again - probably next Sunday.

Sunday, March 6, 2011. Ash Wednesday comes next week, the beginning of Lent. We get ashes for that day from last year's Easter palms: and today was the day the palms were burned. Our Lady of the Angels church has been using a wire-mesh burner for a few years now: a big improvement over what we had before.

This year the weather cooperated, with just enough breeze to blow smoke - reliably - in one direction. Last year's 35-mile-an-hour winds, I'm told, made burning the palms something of a track-and-field event: what with chasing down wind-blown palm bits.

Some of last year's palms reduced to ash, loading more in. March 6, 2011.

Those bits on the ground got gathered and burned a few minutes after I took this picture. March 6, 2011.

We got re-introduced to Scrip today, again at Our Lady of the Angels. I've written about it before. (February 17, 2008) Quite a few businesses in town have agreed to pay a percentage of what's bought with a Scrip card to Holy Family School. Sounds like a good idea.

Really brightly-colored poster, illustrating how Scrip works: at Our Lady of the Angels church. The kids at far right had been singing. March 6, 2011.

We've had quite a bit of snow this winter: more came down today. It's picturesque, and easier on the lungs than open winters where wind-blown dust turns the sky a tannish brown.

On the other hand, all that snow can be an inconvenience. Or worse. The roof of Wagner Hardware, over in Glenwood, collapsed back on February 1, if I'm getting the date right. 4:00 p.m., according to the Pope County Press. They've got an article about the collapse that starts with:

"It's a miracle of God that Dave (Guindon) and Sam (Martin) weren't skewered by broken wood timbers," said Garrett Wagner, who owns and operates Wagner Hardware in Glenwood.

"There were five Wagner Hardware employees in the building when the west side of the store's roof came crashing down at about 4 p.m. last Tuesday...."
(Tim Douglass, (February 7, 2011))

The Wagner Hardware roof collapse reminded me of when the Pamida store roof caved in, quite a few years ago now. Nobody hurt then, either. I've heard that Wagner plans to rebuild, starting this summer.

Like I said, we got more snow today: a nice, gentle, steady snowfall throughout most of the day. Nice to look at, from inside: and enough to keep me away from the grill. I've been out grilling burgers in much worse: but I'm getting over some sort of bug, and decided to be smart. Actually, my wife pointed out the prudent choice.

Finally, Our Lady of the Angels' Lenten Parish Mission with Steve Ray: starts a week from today, March 13th. The Sunday thing starts 6:45 p.m. at the Sauk Centre High School auditorium, I understand - then there's another session Monday at Our Lady of the Angels Church. I wrote about the mission and Steve Ray last week. Well, I mentioned it anyway.

Sunday, February 27, 2011. I took advantage of today's warmer weather - comparatively warmer, that it - and grilled burgers this noon. What with one thing and another, it's been a while since I've done that.

The big deal that I know about at the moment is Our Lady of the Angels' Lenten Parish Mission with Steve Ray: that's March 13th and 14th, a Sunday and Monday. The Sunday thing is at the Sauk Centre High School auditorium. I'll probably be writing more about that: but not just now.

I am determined to get a flu shot next season: I didn't this year, and that may be part of why I've been sincerely off my feed for so long.

I see in the paper that Charlie Company will be deployed (again) May 27. They tell about Beyond the Yellow Ribbon - a program that encourages folks in the community to help families of deployed soldiers. 'They' being the Sauk Herald, that is.

Then there's Snow Week Royalty at Sauk Centre public schools: Maren Greenwaldt and Dillon Dean.

It's late, and I'm determined to get a good night's sleep: so, goodnight!

Monday, February 21, 2011. I still 'only know what's in the papers.' Mostly the Sauk Centre Herald, plus a few major news websites. The 'cattle rustlers' I mentioned, back in December, are in the news again. Like I said then, I think it's great when young people show initiative and try to start a business. But stealing cattle isn't a smart way to start a dairy operation. By all that's sane, how did they expect to account for those calves?

Moving along.

One of the things I like - a lot - about living here is that quite a few folks care about something besides money. Don't get me wrong: I don't think there's anything wrong with money. For one thing, it helps pay the heating bill. What brought that to mind was something else in the paper.

Looks like some of the state legislators want to have Minnesota liquor stores open on Sunday. In a way, I can see their point: There's a little tax revenue going to other states in border cities. Then there's the owner of Westside Liquor, here in Sauk Centre. Darin Thompson says he doesn't want to be open Sunday. He said "Itís the one day our staff can spend time with their families" in a February 15 Herald article.

Like I said, I like living here. A lot.

Maybe not having to go outside today helped.

The phone rang this morning - maybe around 6:00 - letting us know that the Sauk Centre schools weren't opening today. Smart move, considering how much snow was coming down. It was a pretty sight, and not much of a problem for traffic. Here in town: thanks in large part to the street crews coming by with plows at intervals.

I found a report of snowfall amounts, and put some of the information on the Sauk Centre Journal Blog.

Yesterday, around 5:00 p.m., one of my kids noticed that a neighbor's front door was open. With nobody in sight. That got my attention: mid-February during a central Minnesota storm is no time to let the front door stay open. A little later the door was closed again.

Does checking back on that open door make me a nosy neighbor? Maybe. But if the door of our house stays open for no apparent reason: I hope our neighbors are just as "nosy."

As I've said before: Living in a small town doesn't give a person much "privacy." Not if "privacy" is taken to mean living among folks who don't know you, and don't care what happens to you. Again: I like living here. A lot.

Sunday, February 13, 2011. It's been a beautiful weekend: apart from an energetic wind that's whooshing by at intervals. There's a wind advisory out, according to we're supposed to have winds "sustained between 25 and 35 mph with gusts around 50 mph" until about six in the morning.

It felt like spring when I was at Mass this morning. Above freezing by several degrees, and it's mid-February.

I've had the flu - or something very much like that. Whatever it is, it seems to be popular. The nursing home, I hear, is asking folks to stay away: and if they come, to be really careful.

It's like the fellow said: 'I only know what's in the papers.' Specifically, the Sauk Centre Herald. Hog farming is an important part of the economy around here - like the farms Paul Fiedler owns.

The good news is that it doesn't look like anybody got hurt.

The bad news is that one of Mr. Fiedler's maintenance buildings exploded - some pieces hit a quarter mile away. Between that, and the fire that came after, around 4,800 hogs had to be moved in a hurry.

One more thing: Tomorrow's Valentine's Day. I got something for my wife: but don't be too impressed. One of my daughters picked it out for me.

Sunday, January 23, 2011. It's above zero this evening, which is practically tropical compared to the last few days.

Talking with someone at the Sauk Centre herald today, I learned that the Herald owns the Melrose Beacon now. A little more checking, and I found the article I'd missed:

"Sauk Centre partners purchase Beacon, Enterprise"
Dave Simpkins, Sauk Centre Herald (December 28, 2010)

Actually, it's Star Publications of Sauk Centre that bought the Stearns Morrison Enterprise and Melrose Beacon from American Community Newspapers II, ACN, of Plano, Texas. Star Publications of Sauk Centre is what happened, I gather, when the Sauk Centre Herald and Dairy Star merged: and Carol Moorman has gone from being the Herald feature editor to the editor of the Beacon. If you want more, you'll have to check out that article.

I don't want to seem too cocky, but Sauk Centre's doing okay when it comes to its local newspaper. Then there's Main Street Theatre, downtown. I think they're at a half-dozen screens now, with 3D projection equipment for at least one of them.

Not bad for a town of about 4,000.

Dr. Freese has a new diagnostic gadget at Eyes on Main now: a two-laser scanner that gave him a pretty good look inside my eyes - and records the images for future reference. It doesn't replace the older up-close inspection, but that visual record could be really good to have, in case I do develop some sort of eye issue later.

Apart from the industrial-strength prescriptions I use now to see past about 18 inches, that is.

There's more, but it's getting late and I've got a few chores to get finished.

Sunday, January 16, 2011. Sauk Centre's snow cover has been getting touched up fairly often, so we've still got a sparkling-white blanket. It's the light, fluffy variety, happily, so I didn't have much trouble yesterday, clearing a space to stand on while grilling burgers yesterday.

Grill outside in winter? Sure: Why not? January 15, 2011.

I spent most of today in St. Cloud, taking pictures at the Soo Bahk Do tournament there. And giving my wife and #3 daughter a ride there and back. They were with the Sauk Centre Soo Bahk Do class.

Folks from Sauk Centre's Soo Bahk Do class doing a group form. January 16, 2011.

That photo is of folks from Sauk Centre doing a group form, or pre-determined sequence of motions.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011. There seems to be some sort of bug going around Sauk Centre: which would explain the way I've been feeling lately. Fr. Statz, at Our Lady of the Angels, has had it, and now it's Fr. Todd's turn, at St. Paul's. For want of a better word, I've been calling it the flu.

Looks like we'll have another Chinese restaurant in town. There's a sign in the window, saying:

"Coming Soon
Chinese Restaurant

Andy's Wok & Andy's Taco, downtown. January 11, 2011.

Opening with new owners, the sign says. January 11, 2011.

I've written about Andy's Wok in the Sauk Centre Journal Blog, where these posts are repeated:

There's more, here on the Brendan's Island website: June 22 and May 16, April 4, 2008. There was another Chinese restaurant in the same location: June 24, 2007.

As I recall, Andy's Wok had its share of customers: I hope the same folks are ready to welcome the new Chinese eatery.

Sunday, January 9, 2011. Cold, over a foot of snow on the ground, and more in the forecast. I don't mind a bit. This is a lot better than an open winter. Besides, the snow's quite photogenic.

My household's settling back into a normal routine after the holidays. Twitches, #1 daughter's kitten, was here for an extended visit - #1 daughter, too, of course.

Twitches the kitten, and wrapping paper. January 3, 2011.

And that gave me an excuse to put a photo of a kitten under wrapping paper in this entry.

Like many other houses in town, we've got an assortment of icicles hanging from the eaves. They're not doing the roof any particular good: but they are picturesque. One, by our kitchen window, had melted near its base until the icicle was hanging by a very long, narrow, strand.

Icicle hanging by a thread-thin bit of ice. January 3, 2011.

The city crews have been keeping streets clear, for which I'm duly grateful. I drove around the southwest part of Sauk Centre this week, something I haven't done for a while.

There's nothing quite like a moose head over the door. January 6, 2011.

Ding Dong Cafe: a Sauk Centre Landmark. January 6, 2011.

We wound up the Christmas season at Our Lady of the Angels church today: which brings me more-or-less up to date.

Last Sunday in the Christmas season, Our Lady of the Angels church. January 9, 2011.

If I don't have something to write Wednesday, I'll see you in a week.

Sunday, January 2, 2011. Happy New Year!

It will take me a while to get used to writing "2011," but judging from previous experience, I'll get the hang of it. I see that I missed Wednesday's entry: and from the looks of it, will nearly miss today's, too. The holiday season struck with unusual severity this year, and I haven't been as organized as I'd like to be.

That's my story, and I sticking with it.

As to how Sauk Centre is doing? The street crews have been taking snow off and putting sand on the streets, there's what looks like a new sign going up at the professional building at South 4th and Main, and there's no doubt about it: we had a white Christmas.

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