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Road Trip to Naperville, Springfield and St Louis: Betsy’s Senior Dance by Ann Treacy
May 7, 2023, 12:49 pm
Filed under: Illinois, Missouri, Uncategorized

Dad and I have a tour of the Midwest going this week. We start in Naperville to see a friend of his. (OK, only dad stopped in to see his favorite high school teacher Jack Lane.) I walked around the Naperville Century Walk, a downtown riverwalk peppered with artworks. I’ll share a few pictures. The highlight was the big statue of Dick Tracy; well-place because the creator of the comic book hero is from Naperville.

We also checked out the Morton Arboretum. We have been there before. Sadly, the summer sculptures were not out yet. But we did get to see some gorgeous flowers. Even better, we got to smell them! I’ve always said the best thing about coming from Minnesota is that anywhere you go has better weather and that is doubly true this year. It was warm and spring had sprung and I could almost be tempted to move this year.

I had a work meeting in Bloomington (at the Illinois Soybean Association). Quick nod to best refurbishing of a former Gold’s Gym and nicest hospitality. I heard heartwarming stories of rural counties on the path to getting better broadband. But I’ll save those notes for my work report.


After the meeting we set out to St Louis, but not without a stop to see historical sites in Springfield. We checked out Lincoln’s family home – by that I mean with Mary Todd and their kids. Here we were given a fantastic free map that pointed out just about anything and everything you might want to see in the areas related to Lincoln.

Based on new info from the new map, we also checked out Lincoln’s Tomb. It was cook. It is a big tomb, where he and his immediate family are buried. Apparently, someone tried to snatch his body in 1876, resulting in a bunch of new laws, an onsite groundskeeper and his body moving 10 feet below ground. There’s a bronze casting of Lincoln’s face. Apparently, it’s lucky to run his nose. (I’ll report back if good luck comes my way!) Fun to see the impact of a nose rub on the statue.

St Louis

We spent a couple days in St Louis and the whole family joined. We’re all here to see my niece, Betsy, do her senior dance at St Louis University. She has completed four years of her six-year program in Physical Therapy. But with the fourth-year completion, comes the end to her Dance Minor. So we all came to watch her. You can see why below; this is the dance she choregraphed. We’ll never forget the touching note that Grandma left on Emily’s dance poster – thinking it was Betsy’s. But it was very funny.

We also got to see a few of the sites, such as Forest Park, You can see the video Katie and I made in honor of the Kentucky Derby.

We checked out some nightlife and ate a ton!

… last minute addition: Dad and I stopped in Cedar Lake, Iowa. Dad was a huge Buddy Holly fan back in the day, and remembers the day the music died. Originally we weren’t going to go this way but fates intervened and once you’re getting on 35 near Mason City, you might as well stop by the sites!

A work week in rural Illinois with Black Hawk, Joseph Smith and Abe Lincoln by Ann Treacy
March 17, 2023, 4:56 pm
Filed under: Illinois

The band is back together. I’m on the road in rural Illinois with Bill, one of my favorite work-road-trip buddies. It’s always a good mix of productive work chat, small town sight seeing, catching up and good advice. We saw a few highlights.

The tourism portion of our trip began with the Black Hawk Statue in Oregon IL. It’s quite impressive at 50 feet and is a memorial to Chief Black Hawk, Sauk leader in what is known as the Black Hawk war 1832. We also did drive-bys for the birthplace of John Deere and childhood home of Ronald Regan.

For work, I got to tour a hog farm with 60,000 hogs as well as soybean fields and processing facilities. (Thankfully, we couldn’t see the hogs because of bio-security issues. Whew!) I’ve toured hog farms before. What’s amazing is that success is made in pennies per pound. So every penny you can save in the nurturing, butchering or process of making the bacon helps and precision ag makes a big difference. Also I got to sit on big tractor. Woo!

Because we were in Carthage, we visited death place of Joseph Smith, founder of Latter Day Saints. We went to the jail where he was shot and we met by tour guides who may or may not have been dressed in period piece attire. They are clearly devotees; super informative but also a little unsettling. Here’s the abridged story (thanks to Wikipedia)…

Carthage Jail is best known as the location of the 1844 killing of Joseph Smith, founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, and his brother Hyrum, by a mob of approximately 150 men.

We spent time in the jail. Creepy! And saw the door through which Joseph was shot and the window through which he thrust himself to save the followers who were with him (in front of the mob) in the small room. Word is, the Smiths knew they were going to die in Carthage but were peaceful that day anticipating the murder.

Our biggest stop was the Abraham Lincoln Museum in Springfield. It is worth av visit! The multimedia makes it feel interactive. The segment on the emancipation was particularly interesting. Even on his own team, some think he goes too far, and some think he doesn’t go far enough. There’s a hallway set up that reminds me of walking the MN Capitol when contentious topics are being discussed. No one listens; everyone shouts. It emphasizes the need to vote for people you think you will actually do the right thing when the time comes.

A striking exhibit is a bronze cast or Lincoln’s face as he started he’s presidency and five years into it. The aging is palpable. Then there are “rooms” that focus on segments of Lincoln’s life that help us see how that fast aging happened. Lincoln not only led the nation during an extremely tumultuous time but he had a lot of person tragedy happening at the same time. Hearing about his plans to focus on the positive on the day of his assassination is heartbreaking.

Treacy ladies helping to make the ERA happen in Minnesota by Ann Treacy
March 3, 2023, 10:36 pm
Filed under: St Paul

It’s true! The Treacy ladies are making the ERA happen in Minnesota – although clearly we’re not doing it alone. But, for the family blog … Aine and I testified at a MN House Committee on a bill to get the Equal Rights Amendment on the ballot in 2024. So that voters can chime in on whether ERA should be added to the Minnesota constitution. It’s nervous work but we did it and the bill passed out of Committee to get one step closer to a vote on the House Floor. Today my mom and I testified to the companion bill in the Senate. The hope was to have me, Aine and my mom testify together but the agenda moved slowly and items were moved around so that eventually she had to go to work. But she gets a nice nod from Senator Latz for being there. And in the end mom and I were persuasive enough to make it happen.

You can see the full videos for the Senate and House committee meetings online or see our aspirational written testimony; we may or may not have stuck to script.

Again, we weren’t working alone – ERA Minnesota is a powerful group that has worked tirelessly for years – founded by former Representative Betty Folliard and led by Suzann Wilhite. And they aren’t working alone either – there’s a great group of folks  – a sea of green you see all over town.

It is nervous work. Often there’s a push to hurry up. You know people are watching and the cameras are on. And by the nature of the topic, most of us have been taught to not believe in ourselves as much as we should. And that’s part of what makes the growing success taste sweeter. Big thanks to the legislators who are moving us forward but introducing bills and getting them heard – Rep Her, Rep Bahner, Sen Pappas and Sen Kunesh. It’s exciting to be so close – a mere 100 years after it was first raised!

One quick observation … civic engagement is hard because for most of us it means taking a day off work, maybe getting a babysitter, getting to St Paul – never mind you have to know who to contact, how and when. Lobbying is easier – you get paid, you’ve probably gone to school to learn what to do and you build relationships with the legislators so less scary and you have time to chat between meetings in case there’s something you’ve forgotten to say in testimony. Technology has helped because you can at least watch meetings remotely but it feels like sometimes the barriers to civic engagement give policymakers a skewed view of what “most people” think – because “most people” they see are lobbyists or people who can afford to take time out to speak up.

Mia: Botticelli, Period Rooms and Van Gogh’s fingerprint with three generations by Ann Treacy
December 7, 2022, 10:12 pm
Filed under: Minneapolis

Grandma, Kate and I took a multigenerational trip to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts today to see the Botticelli and Renaissance Florence exhibit and more. It was fascinating to see how Sandro Botticelli reached back to classical Greek and Roman statues for inspiration he adapted to a humanistic approach more characteristic of his era in the last 1400s. It’s as if Botticelli breathed a color gust of life into the statues.

I was able to capture a picture of a statue in the foreground with Botticelli’s Pallas and the Centaur in the background. You can see the similarities in the silhouette of the statue and centaur. There’s a slouch that identical. The maiden in the painting is clearly in charge; always a plus in my mind.

There’s a balance of reverence and playfulness in the art. Sometimes that comes out in the action (he Banquet of Queen Vashti) and sometimes that comes out in the personalities and expressions in the faces of the models (Adoration of the Child with Angels). The personalities take a real turn when we look at Adoration of the Magi, which features Botticelli himself on the far right.

A boon to knowing people at the Mia, my friend Kevin was there and clued me into the fact that there was a painting where Mary steps on an angel. It took a minute for me to find – but definitely worth it. I’m not entirely sure what the meaning is. Maybe it’s a baby-like cherub archangel – maybe she’s just overwrought with too much of a good thing. But I’ll be spending time in the next few days wondering. Sign of good art.

Period Rooms

On the way out we couldn’t resist a quick stop in a few of the period rooms. My personal favorite is the Grand Salon, a 7-minute immersive piece where you can watch and hear the room go from day to night in the room.

Van Gogh’s Fingerprint

Kate knew about the discovery of Vincent Van Gogh’s fingerprint accidentally left on Mia’s Olive Trees. You can see where it must be below. It’s near the top right edge of the sun. Unfortunately the frame around the picture shades that area but that won’t stop us from pretending to see it.

Midwestern Thanksgiving: Family, food, art and gratitude by Ann Treacy
November 26, 2022, 3:20 pm
Filed under: Chicago, Wisconsin

Yup, going to the Chicago cousins is a long-standing tradition in family. Now, this was the first year that none of the St Paul cousins made it but the St Paul grandparents, auntie and uncle did. We have a great time.

I started with my parents heading out through Milwaukee. We stopped at the Milwaukee Art Museum to see our favorite Tony Oursler (the talking head video) also Kehinde Wiley, Chuck Close, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg and others. We love the Oursler without any back story but even more with it. He has recorded himself answering questions from the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI); a tool used to gauge mental health.

Thanksgiving day we had a beautiful meal cooked by Katie, who had made Thanksgiving dinner for maybe 20 years and Billy who went to the Culinary Institute of American in NY. It was delicious. Billy’s addition was duck. I’ve had duck before. Sometimes it’s OK; sometimes not. But with Billy’s prep it was amazing. The whole meal was gorgeous. And a nice addition of cranberry cocktails prepared by Sean.

Black Friday Katie, our mom and I spent at the Museum of Contemporary Art in downtown Chicago and consignment shopping in Evanston. The MCA had an exhibit on the Art in Caribbean Diaspora.  including fascinating videos of movement methodical, haphazard, independent, interconnect, so interesting to think about the difference in the voyage. Movement happens regardless and aside from the brick dominoes, it’s hard to know exactly what’s going to happen but there is movement and it seems to be forward.


Then we had an amzing meal at D & J Bistro; it’s a little bit of a drive but worth it. We had all of the fancy food – mussels, steak tartare, carpaccio and some fancy drinks. And now we’re never going to eat again. It’s nice to be in a family where everyone genuinely enjoys a meal together. Like any other holiday table these days there are a lot of no-go topics and I get to hear more about sports ball that usual but also we laughed a lot. And for that we are thankful!

Final Day for Mom in Montreal: bittersweet and snowy by Ann Treacy
November 16, 2022, 10:31 pm
Filed under: Montreal

Turns out I was around for the first serious snowstorm in Montreal. It was heavy and wet, perfect for building a snowman and beautiful. And now I’m sitting in the airport, one of my least favorite places but it was absolutely worth it to see where Lily is living and meet her friends and roommates. I am so excited for her. Things seem to be clicking for her. We polished off her “get settled” to-do list by getting a mirror, sheets and all of that good stuff. We found a job she thought was worth pursuing so that’s great.

I just have random pictures of Lily and her new environment, including a post from her zinefest happening this weekend.

Day 4.5: Barbies and sculptures of Montreal by Ann Treacy
November 16, 2022, 3:09 pm
Filed under: Montreal

After being so productive during the day, Lily and I relaxed at night. We went to the Barbie Expo, which is in a downtown mall. It is apparently the largest collection of Barbie dolls in the world. To borrow from my favorite podcast, I’m a feminist, but I love Barbie. Yes, it encouraged us all to strive for unrealistic body standards. But also Barbie had her own townhouse, a boat and camper. She had lots of jobs in a world when lots of jobs weren’t open to women. She always felt fierce and independent when I was a kid. (To be fair, my sister had the Barbie Malibu doll and I had PJ, which was Barbie’s little sister or so I was told.)

Also, did you know a woman invented her? Yup, Ruth Handler. OK, enough explanation. The exhibit was fun. There are 1000 Barbies from different eras and styles. (I found a doll that resembles each of my daughters.)

We also walked through the Montreal Sculpture Garden, which is really just some statues around the Musee des Beaux-Arts Montreal. Actually it was nice to just walk around. This was clearly a swankier area than we’d been hanging much of the week. It reminded me of the Miracle Mile in Chicago. We did see a fairly amazing mural of Leonard Cohen. Then we had a nice meal at the closest restaurant we could find. Because sometimes on family vacation people get hungry and tired and cold and we just need a pep talk about the next super exciting stage of life – Montreal!

Day 4.0: Walking the streets of Montreal with the perfect chair by Ann Treacy
November 15, 2022, 9:24 pm
Filed under: Montreal

Ostensibly my job was to help Lily get set up in Montreal. She is doing an amazing job on her own – as earlier reported she set up a secondhand bike, government paperwork and tabling the zinefest this weekend. Today we did things where a mom can be helpful – like a walk a chair too big for one person from the seller to Lily’s new place. You never really know a city until you move a move a bright orange chair through the streets.

We set out to Hochelaga, a part of town that has a Village des Valeurs (Value Village) and Fripe-Prix Renaissance (Good Will). We took the Metro. Folks who know will know how much I love an underground. The Montreal Metro is like The Tube or NYC Subway but I love them all. We entered in the middle of a cloudy downtown and emerged in a sunny residential part of town. Think more Midway than Kenwood for my Twin City friends. What we did learn is that folks in residential Montreal are not as quick or as fluent to answer in English. They all had better English than my dusty French but once my French helped.

The area looked like part of North Dublin, which may be helpful to only some readers. But it means it has an old-world charm but with upgrades that were maybe DIY. There are also new elements but new like 1974. And there are lots of quick food places – not McDonalds but pizza or sandwiches.

Lily got a basket for her bike and a table. My usefulness was ordering the Uber home and helping to carry a gorgeous chair that Lily got online from a neighbor. Thankfully just a few blocks away. That gave me a chance to really check out and photograph her new place. It’s lovely with a kitchen, dining room and beautiful back garden. The local is amazing. She really is exactly where you’d want to be at age 24.

Now we’re gearing up for more fun. We’ve earned it!

Day Three: Church, State and food in Montreal by Ann Treacy
November 15, 2022, 12:44 am
Filed under: Canada, Montreal

Day three really starts on day two where I last left off. Lily and I had a gorgeous meal at Majestique, an oyster bar on Saint Laurent. We didn’t have oysters; we did have delicious smoked mackerel and fries. The place was toasty warm on a cold night. There was a guy at the bar that looked like the lost brother of Russel Brand and Father John Misty and I liked the beer. What’s not to like? We talked about all of Lily’s plans. She was so nervous about getting into a zinefest this weekend. (Spoiler alert: she got in.) It was the fun chat you travel to another country to have. Lily is nervous but excited and the whole world is open to her!

Real day three we were all business; well, one of us was. We headed out to get Lily the paperwork she needed to move forward with jobs and stuff. Turns out that sort of thing can take a long time. (Second spoiler alert: she did it!) So, I went walking around town. It was chilly and I was traversing area that we visited yesterday so suddenly stopping into churches seemed very appealing. I was St Patrick’s Basilica, Cathédrale Marie-Reine-du-Monde and Notre Dame. Each was so different.

St Patrick’s Basilica was most like the European churches – or even like grander versions of churches I’ve attended in Minnesota. It’s ornate but warm. The weird thing was the altar to what looked like the shroud of Turin.

Cathédrale Marie-Reine-du-Monde was majestic but stark. It felt more modern in a lot of ways. They had a message that called out the possible offense some of their art might incur in regards to the representation of indigenous people. (Years ago I did a tour of the MN State Capitol with Jim Bear Jacobs talking about the art, which details a lot of tropes that serve to put down indigenous people.) The main altar was gorgeous. But also it felt cold.

Notre Dame was very church-sexy and it was the only one that charged a fee ($15). The dark colors and lighting was beautiful. The statues behind the main altar were like frozen stage scenes. There was somehow a movement to them. Turns out they have a light show in the church six nights a week. That seems brand appropriate after my 20 minute visit.

I also saw some amazing art and history. I love the juxtaposition of old (cite memoire) and new. There are areas around Rue Saint Laurent that seem pretty bohemian and there are areas closer to the river that seem very upper crust. And then there are areas that are very industrial or feel like regular downtown centers of business. And of courses the Olympics!

Lily gave me the call when she had success and we celebrated with a much-needed early dinner in Chinatown. Nothing better than noodle soup on a chilly day going down. On the way home we say some amazing street art. And now we’re hanging out waiting for her secondhand bike to arrive. (Third spoiler: new bike shown below!) One by one she is getting through her “new to town” to-do list!

Day Two: New Life in Montreal the walkable city by Ann Treacy
November 14, 2022, 12:53 am
Filed under: Montreal

It’s Lily’s first full day in Montreal since the move after a very fun night. So, I spent the morning walking up and down Rue Saint Laurent checking out the murals by myself. They are amazing. Luckily, Lily lives very near the boulevard and I’m staying near it too. It’s a great area, lots of restaurants and shops and people. The vibe is very European. I’ll add most of the pictures at the bottom of the post but add a few favorites directly below.

I also checked out Parc Jeanne-Mance. It’s a nice park. You can see downtown, which is also fairly close to Lily’s new place and Mount Royal, which is a gorgeous mountain with a cross on top that lights up at night. But it was fun for me to see a different terrain in the city.

Once Lily woke up we had brunch and started walking around the city more. Our goal was to find a used bike but that’s a little aspirational on a Sunday. So we just ambled. We headed indirectly to the St Lawrence River by way of Chinatown and traversed the historic quarter, which skirts the downtown area. We saw Notre-Dame Basilica, Marche Bonsecours and from a great distance we saw the Biosphere of Montreal. It is a Geodesic Dome pavilion designed by Buckminster Fuller for the 1967 World’s Fair, apparently it’s 20 stories tall. I’m hoping we might see it closer in the next few days.

We also saw a couple of great, modern sculptures. Les Tourists features four different types of tourists. There was something I really liked about it. Then there was Les Chuchoteuses aka The Gossipers by Rose-Aimée Bélanger. Just look at the facial expressions – perfect!

One funny thing that caught our attention was a photo of an eye with a flier nearby that invited people to contact the artist if they wanted to model to have their eyes photographed open or closed.

On the way home we came upon a surprise concert at Places des Arts by Shauit. Clearly we were on the tail end of a daylong series of free community art activities. It’s an idea that I just love! All in all I’ve walked 10 miles today. Lily is resting up so we can gear up for a night of adventure, presumably a less adventurous night than last night!

More murals:

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