Other items of interest · Reading

Another Minnesota Shooting

The news that a Brooklyn Center police officer fatally shot Daunte Wright during a traffic stop Sunday afternoon haunts my thoughts this week.  There is a shocking dissonance in this spring time, this vaccination time, when we should be focusing on new beginnings as the sun shines longer, crocuses offer a burst of color and vaccinations rates are increasing, that we are once again facing the ugly underbelly of an unjust society.

Last summer, I was appalled by the sinful video footage showing George Floyd’s murder on a Minneapolis street.  After the death of so many black men and, as we know from the shooting of Breonna Taylor in her own home, the shooting of black women, I wondered, how can this happen?  With those first thoughts of outrage I wanted to place responsibility for what we as a society were becoming on the rhetoric of the past four years.  But life is not that simple.  I knew we did not simply become a racist society with the results of one election.  I recognized that it was only as the hateful rhetoric went viral and the incidents of violence against People of Color went virtual that I became increasingly aware of what is and what has always been a dramatic difference between my safe white environment and threatening world faced daily by People of Color.

I did take some hope that we may have reached a tipping point last summer as people across the world spontaneously marched.  White celebrities sat down with Emmanuel Acho for Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black ManLewis Hamilton wore a Black Lives Matter t-shirt on the starting grid and on the winner’s podium even as racers sprayed champagne.  And, Formula 1 cars now carry a #WeRaceAsOne logo as a visible display of a new “initiative aimed at tackling the biggest issues facing the sport and global communities – the fight against COVID-19 and the condemnation of racism and inequality.”

Over the past seven months, our Common Read at church delved into the hard and realistic truth that the injustice playing on our screens again this week is not new but is as old as the country itself.  As we read, we were reminded with each well crafted paragraph, each page we turned that injustice is deeply woven into the fabric of our society.  That violence happens every day.  We need only look to other April days to recall shocking events: 

  • April 1873 – A white mob massacred an estimated 150 Black voters over the results of a hotly contested gubernatorial election;
  • April 1956 – Four white men attacked signer Nat King Cole while he was on stage performing for a white audience;
  • April 1968 – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated.

Earlier, I blogged about one of our Common Read titles, a powerful anthology, A Good Time for the Truth:  Race in Minnesota.  It is an eye-opening collection of personal stories shared by 16 Minnesota authors of Color that sheds light on life in our state and in our time.  In the book’s introduction, poet Sun Yung Shin, who edited A Good Time for the Truth, offers both a challenge and words to help guide us.

Good people need to take action continuously, and I would say daily, until [racism] is dismantled.  Because lives are at stake, every day; on sidewalks, in doctor’s offices, in the waiting room of the bank, and, most importantly, in classrooms.

I believe we can do it.  I know I am not alone in this conviction.

People of color and Indigenous people know with a specific, agonizing intimacy that racism was constructed and upheld by white society (in spaces such as the police precinct, the courtroom, school board meetings, newsrooms, Hollywood studios, mortgage loan offices, and everywhere power has resided in America) in order to confer unearned advantages on white people.  It is as simple as that.  It’s not a law of nature.  It’s culture.  It’s something we made, invented, maintained.  Since it was made, like a vast machine, it can be unmade, and it must. ...

Change is necessary.
Other items of interest · Travel

Squares Challenge: Bright with BeckyB

While following BeckyB of Winchester in the WordPress blogosphere, I became intrigued by her Squares Challenge.  The directions are simple:  Post a photographic square every day, or once a week, or even just occasionally.  Her April theme is Bright with a definition covering a wide spectrum of adjectives “sparkling, polished, shining, clever, cheerful, colourful, astute, brilliant, sunny, glorious, translucent, distinct and clear.”  Inspired by her Bright and Early in Portuguese Moments on April 1, I’ve selected a small collection of far and wide travel pictures some on sunny days and others just capturing the bright wonder of the moment.

Travelogue:

  • Cathedral of God’s Mother’s Birth at the Curchi Monastry, Orhei, Moldova – October 15, 2018
  • Phoenix Botanical Garden – March 23, 2019
  • Lake Como, Bittersweet National Forest, Montana – May 17, 2017
  • Westminster Abbey, London – October 12, 2018
  • Chicago – June 18, 2019
Other items of interest

Shoulda been…

It is March and we have been in pandemic quarantine for a year.  For me, our world shifted on March 15.  I know others may mark a slightly earlier day of that same week, but I started counting on a “Sabbath Sunday”.  That first day when we stayed home with a Covid purpose, treating Sunday as if it was a snow day, without gathering at church but still creating quiet time for reflection and meditation.

Like others, I could not have envisioned I would be writing this post 365+ days later.  Our Covid journey has been varied.  Days when it simply felt right to be home and other times when anxiety took hold in my temporal lobe and I wondered would it ever be safe to be together.  Now, with the first vaccines in our systems and second doses coming next week, I am starting to think beyond our small Kutzky Park environ, especially today when we shoulda been celebrating John and Hannah’s wedding in person rather than online.  Maybe we will all gather for an anniversary party next year but, in the meantime, Lynn Ungar’s poem, written as we went into lockdown, still offers sustenance.

Pandemic
What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.
 
And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.
 
Promise this world your love–
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.
 
–Lynn Ungar 3/11/20

Other items of interest

Waffles + Mochi

Continuing her quest to encourage kids (and adults too) to explore and enjoy healthy food, Michelle Obama is launching a new adventure with her puppet friends Waffles + Mochi.  They will travel the world to find just the right ingredients and, along their way, meet new friends that viewers will certainly recognize — Chef José Andrés, Common, Jack Black and more.  Just a quick view of the promotional trailer will have you smiling and looking forward to meeting Waffles + Mochi on the March 16 Netflix debut. 

Art · Other items of interest

Missing Lunch

Pressed Leaf by K. Lindsay, 2020

February 20, a year ago, was the last time I had lunch with the friends I dub my Art Group.  We were in that in-between time.  Corona virus was already in our vocabulary.  We had made the definitional change from epidemic to pandemic.  We had friends or family in parts of the world or on either coast that we were worried about but, in our small corner of Minnesota, Covid-19 still felt distant.  We were still a month away from our first statewide lockdown.  That day, as always, the food and libations were delicious and the company even better but little did we know as we set a March date for our next Ladies Night Out Lunch that it would simply slip by in a flurry of social distancing, masks and sanitizing wipes.

Over the years, I have self-described as the voyeur among this talented group of women all of whom were or still are SEMVA artists.  Despite being the odd duck without any artistic training (although I did get A-s in my art appreciation college classes) I was always enthralled by the intriguing discussions about gouache and pastels, resists and French dyes, plein air and pallet knives.  When I was still working, it was such a treat not to talk about library politics and, believe me, librarianship can be filled with intrigue.  In my retirement world, lunch with my Art Group was always inspirational and nudged me to explore new fibers and different knitting patterns.  Plus, what is not to like (and certainly miss!) when people appreciate the newest project off my needles.

While missing my lunch companions, I enjoyed a touch of Covid humor shared by a friend. This math word-problem is a spot on description for the year just ending and how 2021 is shaping up:

If you’re going down a river at 2 MPH and your canoe loses a wheel, how much pancake mix would you need to re-shingle your roof?

Art · Other items of interest

Caradori Kintsugi

A number of years ago, a friend described the Japanese art of Kintsugi in her opening words on a Sunday morning.  Amazing to think that in this all too quick to pitch, always buy new consumer world, there are those whose art focuses on the broken, carefully recreating that which was valuable and making it even more beautiful by re-assembling it with precious metals.

I am sure I must have passed ancient porcelain repaired with gold or platinum in the Asian Art collection at the Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA) but nothing immediately comes to mind.  Although, to be honest, we frequently walk the long corridor dividing period rooms without careful study simply because it is the most direct route to our timed entrance to tour a featured exhibit.

One day, while visiting Caradori Pottery for bowls to give as wedding presents, I indulged my love of pottery and treated myself. Unlike a piece of pottery broken by use, this vibrant green glazed bowl had developed a small crack during firing.  Rather than reject this beauty, David, artfully filled the gap with 24K gold.

Art · Other items of interest

Caradori Pottery

I bought the first of our many pottery bowls in an art gallery in Tiburon, California while visiting a friend in San Francisco.  Enough time has passed since that 1974 purchase that I have no recollection whether color or shape drew my attention.  What I do know is that I have continued to be drawn to hand-thrown pottery, especially bowls.  Whether the bowl holds dough rising or serves as a catch all for knitting notions, each bowl is blend of art and functionality. 

When looking for a unique gift whether a small token of holiday cheer or a gift for a momentous occasion I usually defer to pottery.  I have made purchases while traveling – Portland, Saint Petersburg, San Diego (carefully hand carrying my new treasure home) – but my favorite potter is David Caradori.  David grew up across the street from my house in Eau Claire.  His brother was in my grade school class and our Moms shared a church card club.  But regardless of our childhood connections, I buy from David because he is simply an amazing artist.

His years of study with Japanese masters are visible in his glaze designs and the wood firings take days to transform thrown clay with flames and ash.  A short (4 minute) YouTube video reveals the result of the 2020 Autumn Firing from the Suskenei Kiln which produced approximately 650 finished pieces including the nine small bowls I requested in May for Christmas presents.  Each small bowl is approximately 4 inches in diameter and perfect for holding a pinch of herbs to flavor a sauce or to keep stitch markers corralled or just to enjoy.

Other items of interest · Travel

Audi Q5 worth the 7 month wait

After months of car spec research, Richard determined the perfect combo of options for our new 2020 Audi Q5.  He placed a February order specifically timed for a spring delivery so we could enjoy driving at least one season with clear vision through a windshield without sand and salt micro-pits. 

After decades of silver vehicles we thought we’d whirl the color wheel and picked Azores Green only to learn that color had been discontinued just one week earlier.  Then came Covid.  Audi factories worldwide closed and our order for a Navarra Blue Q5 with Nougat Brown interior went into limbo.

Our excitement began building when Richard read factories were starting up.  Anticipation took a big leap when we learned our car was built on August 11, then grew a bit more when it arrived in Houston from Mexico on September 4  Needless to say I did a happy dance yesterday when we learned our new Audi was being prepped in Rochester for Saturday pick up.  With just 15 miles on the odometer, we have a future of driving fun starting with fall colors and nearby blue line twisty bits.

Other items of interest · Travel

Spa

There are those iconic images that immediately alert the viewer to a special place, maybe a special time and memory as well:  Mount Rushmore when I was seven; the Matterhorn on an early September morning in 1991 or the Circuit de Spa Francorchamps, Stavelot, Belgium, 2018.

After decades of watching Formula 1 with Richard (free practice on Fridays, Saturday qualifying and Sunday’s race) and attending five race weekends[1] onsite, I recognize a number of international race tracks.  One of the most iconic with homage to a bygone era is Spa where we watched a somewhat less exciting race from the bleachers at La Source in 2018.  My travel journal reports:

Pit lane and the run down to Eau Rouge

As races go, this one was not the most exciting. All of the drama happened on lap one right in front of us. Hulkenberg hit the back of Alonso’s car as they accordioned into La Source, sending Fernando airborne over the top of Charles Leclerc. Very scary.  Race results:  Vettel, Hamilton, Verstappen

Today’s race was viewed in home comfort with large screen details and ongoing color commentary without any of the radical weather changes for which the Ardennes Forest is known.  And, without Flemish Frietes (thick cut, twice fried French fries served with gobs and gobs of mayo.) 2020 race results:  Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen


[1]  Phoenix – 1989; Montreal – 2000 & 2014; Indianapolis – 2005; Spa – 2018

Other items of interest · Travel

Evening Flight

I can count on one hand the times I’ve flown in a small 2- or 4-seater plane and I don’t even need my thumb to complete the tally.  Last night’s flight, in a Beechcraft Bonanza, made four.  On a spectrum of summer evenings, this one was a definite top 10 with good company, cloudless skies and a rare spontaneous experience.  Our flight path took us northeast from Rochester to Red Wing, south over the Mississippi River nearly to Winona before heading back west.

Over the years, with countless trips from Hokah to Lonsdale, Vasa to Alden and all the libraries and bookmobile stops in between, I know the blue line highways curve through the rolling hills of our Driftless area.  But there is a missing link between knowing there are hills and only seeing our corner of Minnesota as a distant 2-dimensional view from the lightly scratched window of a Delta commercial flight.  From 3,000 feet the geological undulations are beyond beautiful. 

The evening sky had that early August haze and, while the groves of trees still held their verdant green color, the fields were twinged with late summer yellow, ripe for harvest.  It was evident that within weeks the landscape would shift from green to amber to rich fall browns.  

I always think of the Zumbro as more of a small stream than a real river but flying over the watershed showed an extensive network of creeks and a main channel that eventually winds its way east.  And then, almost to Red Wing, but not quite to Wisconsin, we banked right and so we could follow the mighty Mississippi past Wabasha, over Lake City (the home of waterskiing) and to Alma.  The bluffs on each side climb out of the river valley.  There was a small smattering of boat traffic, including one barge.  With the sun setting over my right shoulder, we made another sweeping right turn before engaging the instrument approach and landing.  After parking on the tarmac, we helped spray and wipe the leading edge of the wings and tail to remove the summer bug splats.

Our last single engine flight was in September 1991 when a Swiss cousin took Richard, Dad and me up for a view of the Alps around Luzerne.  While the landscape may have been more dramatic that day, this most recent flight was maybe even more memorable as it gave us a different view of our chosen home.