All posts by Barbara in Rivertown

I Love a Parade

I believe every little town in the land has some kind of summer weekend festival/carnival. The Twin Cities’ one grew into the Aquatennial. Winona calls theirs Steamboat Days, and it happened this past weekend.

Husband and I pretty much steer clear of the crowds and the midway at this point, partly because our bodies no longer enjoys things like the Tilt-a-whirl. But there are a couple of things I like to do:

– the Vintage Car Show – 3 blocks of downtown cordoned off, for a walk down memory lane. (Click on link for actual colorful photo…)

– and The Parade. Quoting from the Winona Post:  “The Winona Steamboat Days Grande Parade is… packed with great enterainment including the U.S. Marine Corp Band from New Orleans, the Milwaukee Dancing Grannies, 34th Infantry Red Bull Army Band, area community royalty and several awesome high school bands…” 

The Parade at noon on Sunday is kind of a big deal – I think it’s the only city-wide parade all year. People start staking out their territory on Saturday, cordoning off their turf or setting out awnings, blankets, and lawn chairs. I got there right at noon, expecting to just stand, but was able to sit on an unoccupied stair step for a while – Husband came later.

There was an enterprising guy with a wagon stuffed with bags of kettle corn for $6. . There were Clydesdale horses, a collection of colorful Jeeps, and a person on stilts.

Winona’s Clown Club gave the Shriners some competition, and there was a group of little dancers from a local ballet studio that stole the show for a while there.

Winona’s own Little Warriors Drum Corps brought up the rear – they are amazing when they are in there element, many ages and cultures of kids who have found a place to showcase their talent. (Wish you could see the littlest guy better.)

When was the last time you watched a parade, or attended a summer festival?

Where else have you been able to gather where there are people of all ages, and from all walks of life?

Spitting Snow

Spitting Snow

It was what we call “spitting” snow today, and while getting back in my car after errands, I noticed a flake that had landed on my black pant leg as I got behind the wheel. I looked closely, and actually heard myself shout “WOW!”, because this snowflake looked so different. This was not a flake of the lacy or feathery kind, that we try to imitate with scissors and white paper folded multiple times. It looked more like a tiny plastic “confetti” piece – like a flower I would have drawn as a child – with 6 identical and evenly spaced “petals” around some imaginary center.

https://www.bing.com/images/search?view=detailV2&ccid=s3rxzF48&id=3EC34A1387EE7A4D68DE8530A77D32CFF11C0E71&thid=OIP.s3rxzF48kK7FUL5OnCxVZAHaH1&mediaurl=https%3A%2F%2Fth.bing.com%2Fth%2Fid%2FR.b37af1cc5e3c90aec550be4e9c2c5564%3Frik%3DcQ4c8c8yfacwhQ%26riu%3Dhttp%253a%252f%252fcliparts.co%252fcliparts%252f6cy%252fX7A%252f6cyX7AXdi.jpg%26ehk%3DSIqnv8jopNXpFcZ%252bzXRZX9QBx03samVmPlyFyLM9jWY%253d%26risl%3D%26pid%3DImgRaw%26r%3D0%26sres%3D1%26sresct%3D1&exph=437&expw=413&q=6+petal+Flower+Template&simid=608018368400600089&form=IRPRST&ck=CFD7A5423D5832FF597A349452AB93AC&selectedindex=21&ajaxhist=0&ajaxserp=0&vt=0&sim=11

It seemed thicker than the usual flakes, but smaller in diameter – 1/16 of an inch at most; these flakes took longer to melt than the usual ones. I caught a couple more to make sure they really were snow – yep, just like the first one.

The snow let up, and the next time I noticed it coming down, I put on a black sweater and went outside to check. But the flakes were of the standard variety – the “magic” ones were gone. I wonder if anyone else noticed them.

When have you seen something really unique in nature?  What does it take to get you to slow down and look closely at something in your path?

Oh Good, A New Library

Husband and I were treated last week to a “field trip” with some friends to one of their favorite Winona hangouts – the Winona State Library AND adjoining Coffee Shop. This building has only been around for 20-odd years, so was not here during our last time living here, and we had not yet seen it.

The Darrell W. Krueger Library, named for a former WSU president, is located on campus, overlooking the bluffs. It is spacious, light and airy, with several clusters of comfortable chairs, where we eventually alighted.  After shedding our coats to claim one of these on the second floor, we headed down to the coffee shop for hot chocolate with whipped cream, and were surprised at being allowed to bring our to-go cups up to our sitting area. We sat and talked quietly for a bit, and then I skimmed some nearby stacks to just get a flavor of what all is there, and found a fascinating book on the history of cookbooks. I will come back another day and find it again.

Everyone we encountered in the library was masked. There were several students scattered at tables, carrels, or the comfy chairs, but I was surprised that it wasn’t more populated on a weekday. And I have to wonder, knowing how many books must now be available to students electronically, how long libraries like this will be relevant, and what will happen to all these “hard-copy” books in the decades to come.

We had a lovely time, and Husband and I returned a couple of days later to get our own WSU Library cards. It is another place for us to spend some time on wintry days.

Do you have a favorite library (past or present) that you would show to others?

Any good library memories or stories?

The Big Re-arrange

Over the weekend, Husband saw that the last warm days were upon us, and cooler weather is ahead. He got the idea that he wanted to move his reading chair from beside the window to a more sheltered spot, in the dining room. And he was, with good reason, not fond of a temporary move I’d made while he was in rehab when I needed a desk for all kinds of medical paperwork – I had dragged little desk into the archway, partially blocking traffic flow.

Now, I’ve written before how I love to re-arrange the furniture. This was very unusual for Husband to initiate, and for me to follow, but it actually worked this time! If you’ve done this before, you know there is no way to move just one piece of furniture. We spent most of Sunday afternoon and eve pulling things out, dusting and cleaning, trying one position and giving it up for another. ALL KINDS OF FUN. We realized at one point that the TV, located near the computer, had to stay put if we wanted to continue watching via streaming. But when we were done, every other stick of furniture in the living and dining rooms had found a new home.

I wish I had a “Before” photo, complete with the renegade desk. But these “After” photos are the end result, with which we are well pleased.

What motivates you to make (any kind of) a change? If you live with others, who instigates a change in your surroundings? What would you most like to change about your dwelling space?

Making Friends with…

I believe that, as I write this on Friday June 11, we are in our 7th consecutive day in the 90s. I am not a happy camper. I wilt any time the thermometer rises above 80, especially if humidity accompanies the heat. Husband usually loves heat, to a point, and tolerates it much better than I, so we have what I call the A/C wars, just like my folks had. [Mom would just hole up in the air conditioned rooms, and Dad would hang out in his room (nice large one with its own sitting area and TV) with the window open – he had a nice magnolia tree right outside the window.] I can do climate control with shades in windows in the a.m., but by mid-afternoon I need A/C.I just looked ahead via Weather.com:  between now and June 24 in SE Minnesota, there is one (1) day when the high is predicted to be below 85˚ F.  And we are in a bit of a drought – greatest chance of rain predicted in that time frame here is 56% chance today, and there’s not yet a cloud in the sky.

So an interesting thing happened after I got up this morning – I’d had a really nice and complicated dream in the wee hours, and wakened with a pretty strong shift in attitude:  I am going to Make Friends with the heat. It could be that our entire summer will be like this, and I do not wish to be miserable all summer. Instead of hating and grousing about it, I will embrace it, and do what I can to enjoy it. This will mean shifting my schedule, my way of doing things, where I do things, and perhaps what things I do. And I may have to buy awnings or screens to create more shade for the patio out back (and my out-the-back-door summer kitchen – worth perhaps another blog post).

There is shade on our back patio till about 10:30, and there was a little breeze this morning. I invited a nearby friend over for ice water, if she could come by 8:30. (She’s an early riser.) After that I placed a lawn chair in the driveway under the beloved Hackberry Tree, and till about noon I perused my recipe books for chilled soup recipes. I have fans on right now, and am about to go to the NICE COOL BASEMENT to clean it up and find some sewing projects, perhaps clear a place that we could play Mexican Train. Once the A/C has cooled things off upstairs, I can watch movie clips for a zoom class I’m taking on Musical Theater…

In other words, I’m trying.

How are you coping with this heat wave so far?

Is there anyone or anything you might “make friends” with that could make your life easier?

Accidentally On Purpose

I woke up at seven this morning thinking “Dang, I forgot to set the alarm” – I needed to be up at 6:30 if we’re going to do our regular Zoom workout class. But then I remembered it’s also our 41st anniversary, and wondered if I had unconsciously planned this so we could “sleep in” this morning.

As kids we would have called this “accidentally on purpose.” We might “forget” to go home at the time our moms had told us, or do that extra chore, or tell ourselves we couldn’t find the borrowed toy that we didn’t want to return just yet.

Do you remember this phrase from your childhood?

Can you recall doing anything “accidentally on purpose”?

Do you see any “accidentally on purpose” actions going on around you – personally, or in the greater scheme of things?

The Little Guys

This Saturday, April 24, is Independent Bookstore Day – which I’ve written about here before – five years ago now (!) https://trailbaboon.com/2016/04/27/indie-bookstore-day/ .

We have a little bookstore here in Winona called Paperbacks and Pieces. It’s mostly a paperback exchange except for one corner of new books, and a shelf of popular new titles that you can rent. They will do special orders for individuals and book clubs. Pre-pandemic, they hosted author signings (including our Chris from Owatanna!), local speakers, and occasional local group meetings. Spring and Fall would bring a huge Sidewalk Sale – actually in the side street which was closed off for the occasion.  They’ve been everything I want in a local, independent shop. P & P recently changed owners, but I have no doubt they’ll continue in this same vein.  The other local bookstore (not counting Target & Walmart) is downtown, Chapter 2 Books – used and vintage books, CDs, DVDs – which I also try to support; different vibe, and they have a wonderful cat.

The Big Box retailers did awfully well in the past year, according to this August 2020 article from the New York Times .  As we come out of isolation, I know some of our favorite places – restaurants, coffee shops, small independent businesses like hardware stores – have already gone under. A lot of the remaining ones are struggling to survive, hungry for customers as we start to open up again. I occasionally notice on Facebook posting for one of these places, and share them when I can – like this one for Swede Hollow Café in St. Paul, where I loved to go when I lived in the Cities.

Do you have any favorite small businesses in your vicinity that you will support, as we “open up” from isolation?

Have any of your favorites disappeared with the pandemic (or before)?

Our Favorite spots

The other day as I was typing a comment here on the Trail, I inadvertently slipped into “pirate talk”. I’m not sure why, but I suddenly had Cap’n Billy of the Muskellunge on my shoulder. It didn’t last long, but it’s not the only time lately that I’ve spontaneously conjured up one of the regulars from TLGMS – The Late Great Morning Show – MPR’s varietal music wake-up show which aired between 1983 and 2008. For instance, Lloyd’s of Monday pops into my head whenever something goes awry on a Monday.

For the uninitiated who might wander onto this blog, here’s an excerpt from a 2006 article describing the show: 

“Fans of The Morning Show know they can expect to hear comic sketches, ad spoofs and other skits featuring characters such as Captain Billy, Bud Buck and Genway’s Dr. Larry Kyle. It all originates at Dale Connelly’s keyboard. “Basically, I create the characters in the scripts,” Dale says, ‘then I hand the scripts over to Jim Ed and he brings them to life in his own way.’

[The late Tom Keith, whose stage name was]  Jim Ed Poole is a master at doing various voices, dialects and characterizations. ‘There are so many different characters,’ Jim Ed laughs, “that some characters are starting to sound like other characters.”

I’ve been missing the Morning Show a lot lately – I’ll be cooking and want some music instead of the yammering of the radio’s talk shows. Or I’ll turn on the classical station, but they’re playing something weird, so I try Radio Heartland on my iPad. But they don’t play the old favorites any more (from what I can tell), and besides, RH doesn’t do the fun stuff like those fake sponsors and quirky character skits I used to laugh out loud at.

Dial it back several years

What were some of your favorite “spots” or characters from Dale and Jim Ed’s collection?

(If you click on the little magnifying glass at the top right of this page, and type in your favorite character or “sponsor”, you may find old blog posts on that topic from the archives.)

A Little Diversion: The Queen’s Gift

Today’s post comes from Barbara from Rivertown:

Drawing on our recent discussion of what it’s like to be Royal, I wonder if part of the fun might be owning stuff no one else owns, and having the power to give things away if one was so inclined.

I happened on this article listing 31 unexpected things owned by HRH Queen Elizabeth II.

They are as follows:

1. All the swans on the River Thames

2. A pair of corgis

3. All the Dolphins in the United Kingdom

4. Nearly all of London’s Regent Street

5. Half of the UK’s shoreline

6. Six royal residences

7. More than 200 Launer handbags

8. A private ATM

9. The best seat in the house at Wimbledon

10. The Tower of London

11. 150,000 works of art (many of them priceless)

12. Queen Victoria’s Sketchbook

13. A winning team of race horses

14. A car collection worth more than $10 million

15. A tiara covered in 1333 diamonds

16. A massive Faberge Collection

17. Westminster Abbey

18. Hyde Park  [et al.]

19. A Gold Record

20. A bat colony

21. The world’s largest clear-cut diamond

22. Three Crown Dependencies

23. An Aberdeen Angus Cow

24. Two tortoises from the Seychelles

25. Her own flag

26. Four Guinness World Records

27. A bold Blue Peter badge

28. The British seabed

29. An offshore wind farm

30. The UK’s Continental Shelf

31. All of Scotland’s gold mines

32. 25,000 Acres of forest

33. Trafalgar Square

34. Queen Victoria’s wedding dress

35. Henry VIII’s armor

36. Queen Elizabeth II’s own tartan

37. Millions of square feet of retail space

38. A baptismal font

39. A national collection of Mulberries

The game is:  

The Queen has decided it’s time to “lighten up”, and will give each of you one  (or more) of these gifts.

Which of these items would you most like to have?

The Chess Gambit

Several baboons responded on Tuesday to a comment about the 6-part Netflix mini-series called The Queen’s Gambit. It’s based on a book by Walter Tevis (who is also author of three other books which became movies: The Hustler, The Color of Money and The Man Who Fell to Earth).

Apparently chess sets have been flying off the shelves, both in-store and online. I have located our set here, a Christmas gift years ago from son Joel. I’ve never really taken to chess – though Husband has tried to teach me, I never thought I had enough…  desire, mental acuity, or stamina to be a competitive player.

Because of this movie, I’ve become aware that women have been serious chess players for centuries first documented during the Middle Ages – this from Wikipedia:    “Chess games between men and women were a common theme of European art[2][3] and literature in the fourteenth through 18th centuries.” By the 19th Century, the field was dominated by men, and “during the 20th century, female players made significant progress in breaking male dominance on the game.” The first female International Grandmaster was Nona Gaprindashvilli, who received the title in 1978.

Back on the home front:  It wasn’t that I thought women in general wouldn’t be good at chess, just me. I am willing to rethink that and, with a long and at-home winter facing me, I think I just might take another stab at chess. I will, however, need to do a quick room-arrange to accommodate a table where we can leave a chess board up. And wouldn’t it be fun to paint our own chess board right on some old table?   

Here’s a puzzle:  Imagine you’ve decided you need a chess set and there are none to be had in all the land. By what art or craft would you create the board?

What found objects around the house could stand in for the various pieces – pawns, rooks, bishops, knights, king, queen ?

OR:

Because you may be home-bound for several weeks (or months), what other sort of learning might you tackle, that you would otherwise not have attempted?