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Gnomes, Lou T Fisk, tricked out Computer Commuter, tiny church & a fancy Mercantile, LQP County is rocking by Ann Treacy
May 26, 2022, 3:15 pm
Filed under: Minnesota

Mary Magnuson and I got to check out the broadband happenings in Western Minnesota – in person. We learned about new grants in Madison and Appleton that will help everyone get fiber, we visited the inspiring Madison Mercantile and we said goodbye to one of our favorite broadband projects of all time – the LqP (Lac qui Parle) Computer Commuter.

Traveling to rural towns is something I have missed through the pandemic, so it was fun to go to one of my favorite areas. Through the Blandin Foundation, we’ve both done a lot of work here. And back in the day I did a lot of fun training with the County EDA (Economic Development Authority). This is the sort of area where in 2010, they got funding to create a tricked out mobile computer lab (aka former hotel shuttle bus). I have taught classes there, but I think its best use was Mary Quick driving around and folks dropping in to get one-to-one (or one-to-few) hands-on support using technology. She once told me her busiest time was after Christmas when everyone brought in the new iPads or smartphone Christmas presents from their kids.

Fast forward 10+ years, and we visited the Madison Mercantile. From what we could see one woman has given birth to a community center that is as innovative and will soon be as loved at the Computer Commuter. Kris Shelstad is that woman; I’m not saying she’s done it alone but I’m saying it wouldn’t happen without her. Sounds like she came back home after the death of her spouse. A time that might drain many of us, she has turned it around to a time where she is creating community or seeding the space for community to grow based on the needs of the people around her. Super inspiring!

But truth of the matter, Mary and I most went on the road for the Gnomes of Dawson. We visited the garden and as a super bonus, we spied some special gnomes upstairs in the library…

Also we saw Lou T Fisk and the 45th Parallel (the midday point between the Equator and the North Pole)…

Finally, we checked out the Tiny Church, which is in the Gnome Garden. It seats 6. It’s weird; it kind of feels like being in a church and kind of doesn’t, which I guess means it feels a little irreverent but I got over it.



Last day in WA: Aine loves Evergreen & we visit the Museum of Ass in Tacoma by Ann Treacy
May 16, 2022, 11:30 pm
Filed under: Washington

Well I failed and Aine won. Evergreen is a lovely campus. The program, which is very student-drive (aka loosey goosey in a good way), which would suit her well. so long as she stuck with it. But she just finished a yearlong capstone program at high school and rocked it so I’m feeling pretty good about it. Just sad that after we found the most economical college choice for a Minnesota kid (go to a college in Manitoba) we are looking at US rates. It’s crazy.

The college is built in the middle of the woods. To be fair it would be way too remote for me (no First Ave equivalent that I could see!) but I can see the appeal. Her friend is going to school in Tacoma so she won’t be entirely alone but yikes. I think 75 percent of the student body are from the region, if not the state. As you move farther away, the percentages get smaller. A seller was the fact that Matt Groening went there. I was impressed with Carrie Brownstein. So we’ll see. It’s still pretty natury and we’re not. It is from Irish weather – and I have to say (again) my hair hasn’t looked as good since the last time I was in Dublin.

On the way to the airport we stopped in Tacoma at a restaurant called Duke’s on the waterfront, which I name because it was so tasty and the waitress was stop traffic nice. The view was spectacular. Now I won’t be sad if Aine tells me in a week that Manitoba is back as the front runner but I won’t be sad to spend more time in the area either. I wonder if I could sell my old Charlie’s Angel cards for big money, like other people sell baseball cards?

Our parting glance was the Museum of Ass (aka Museum of Glass). It was actually closed but was fun to see the glass bridge and the Chihuly work outside of the building. This area is spoiled for glass art.



Chihuly Garden (and more) in Seattle, Hendrix grave in Renton & introduced to Olympia by Ann Treacy
May 16, 2022, 3:24 am
Filed under: Washington

Luckily Aine and I have spent many years in Dublin – so a day of rain is no match for us. (Until I have to drive!) We checked out the Fish Market again. More people than the night before but we still feel like maybe we weren’t there in the height but that was OK. We enjoyed walking around the city. We saw lots of street art. We saw a Sleeping Jesus statue, which seemed appropriate given the number of people we saw experiencing homelessness too. No one approached us – just a sad reminder of bad luck.

We went to the Chihuly Garden and Glass. He is a favorite of mine. The art, especially in this setting, is so engaging. Originally from Washington, Chihuly studied glass blowing in Wisconsin (and other places). He works collaboratively and has exhibits in more than 200 museums, including the Minneapolis Institute of Art.

Our trip took a turn down the low road at the Chihuly where Aine found out that her boyfriend had been exposed to COVID. Prom is next week. She has been wearing her mask faithfully in Washington. They have missed so much over the last two plus years. We don’t know anything yet – but definitely sad-making. So we made our hotel to the car and headed to Olympia, which left her sad and me stressed driving unknown roads in the rain. Longest hour ever – although we weren’t too disgruntled to stop by the Memorial for Jimi Hendrix in Renton WA.

Eventually we made it to Olympia. First site was a tiny abortion rights rally – maybe 12 people. But I stopped and took a pictured. Gotta unite for reproductive rights!

So far, Olympia seems like a nice town. We walked around in the rain for an hour, bought some fancy consignment items and stopped for early dinner. Then the sun came out and we walked around some more – from the waterfront to the Capitol and back. (Don’t tell Aine but I walked 10+ miles today, which means she did too!)



From Reproductive Rights march in St Paul to strolling by the Pacific Ocean in Seattle by Ann Treacy
May 15, 2022, 5:11 am
Filed under: Washington

I started the day with the Women’s March and Planned Parenthood helping to host the Rally to Keep Abortion Legal. It was part of a national effort, post SCOTUS leak of their plan to do away with Roe v Wade. I though there’d be hundreds of people; rumor has it there were thousands. Well 3,000 anyway. It was great to see so many elected officials – including Senators Smith and Klobuchar. The signs were amazing and the hassle was minimal. There are always a few people countering the view – but turns we were able to ignore them or drowned them out.

I ditched early to head to Seattle. Aine and I are here to check out Evergreen College in Olympia. It was about 6:30pm by the time we got to the hotel. Neither of us had eaten. So we headed out to the Fish Market. (Out hotel, the Moore Hotel, is very central and boutique. We like it!) Not much was open but we did stumble unto a very romantic French restaurant. We shared a steak and frites with a salad. Not what I thought I’d be eating in Seattle but it was lovely!

Post dinner we walked from the Fish Market to the coast and down the waterfront. We ran across the gum wall, which is a portion of an alley where there’s gum stuck to all of the walls. Gross but fun. Then we headed down to the piers.

There was a Ferris wheel on one, they were showing a movie on another, another had a shop of oddities, lots of restaurants and bars. We heard lots of different languages. The view is gorgeous. It’s funny when you look up and realize the things you thought were clouds are actually mountains. It reminded us to Dublin, or actually Dun Laoaghaire between the port and the mountains.

We decided to walk to the Olympic Sculpture Garden, which was fun. Saw a giant head and then on the walk back to the hotel we saw plenty of street art. It was a good few hours but with the time difference, the stress of flying and excitement of it all – we’re beat!



Supernatural America at the Mia for Grandma’s birthday – creepy but cool! by Ann Treacy
May 10, 2022, 9:43 pm
Filed under: Minneapolis

Kate is working at the Supernatural America exhibit at the Mia. So, for my mom’s birthday we went to visit Kate and then out to lunch with Lily. It was a really, nice 3-generation day. The exhibit was interesting, disturbing and sometimes beautiful. But as my mom said on the way out – there wasn’t much I’d want to hang on my wall at home. To be fair, who is inviting haunted art into the home?

Quick insider note: Kate said one of her coworkers saw a ghostly hand reach out from one of the pictures – life imitating art, I guess.

The real beauty of the art is the story behind it. Some were created during a séance or while the “artist” was in a trance. We talked about how many of these artists would be written off as having mental health issues – or being witches or feminists or worse. Sort of made me like the art more. Other art tried to speak to or represent the supernatural. Here are some I found most interesting.

The Precipitated Portrait of Lizzie, Mary and Christina Daugherty with Dr Daugherty is one example. The work was created by sisters Mary and Elizabeth Bangs. They performed a ritual intending to conger the image of Mrs. Daugherty (deceased) with the Dr. who sat for the portrait. The image appeared on the paper like droplets. In the end the added the deceased twins as well.

John McCrady’s Swing Low Sweet Chariot depicts the moment of death when the forces of good and evil come to grasp the soul of the deceased. I love the imagery. I sort of love the idea that there is no connection in the art about the quality of the soul – but that’s it’s merely a fight of good and evil. I love that good takes an army and evil just one devil.

I learned about the idea of spirit photography, where the photographer tries to capture images of ghosts and other spiritual entities. Apparently, it’s used on ghost hunting but the examples they had were from the Civil War. People were photographed with the hope that a recently departed loved one would appear in the picture. It’s hard to think that the pictures are real but they are fascinating and I don’t entirely doubt it.

Interior Scroll by Carolee Schneemann are still images of a performance piece of the artist reading from a scroll she pulled from her vagina. I’m a feminist, but that might not be a little extreme for me but I appreciate that the pendulum swings and art like this pushes boundaries that need to be pushed. In the same realm, are the tiny goddesses found in the 1970s. Blood was included in the materials used to form the goddesses.

Maybe my favorite is Tony Oursler’s Dust from the Thought of Form series. It’s cloud that morphs into body parts. Kinda creepy, kinda cool. (We also loved his work MMPI in Milwaukee.)

Here are more pictures of things that drew us in…



Aine’s capstone defense for Depicting the Troubles of Northern Ireland in Art by Ann Treacy
April 18, 2022, 6:34 pm
Filed under: St Paul

To graduate Aine needed to do a capstone paper or project. She chose to do a series of three-dimensional works of art, a 30 page paper and a presentation – Depicting the Troubles of Northern Ireland in Art. She has been working on this for months and today she gave her presentation. She did a terrific job.

First – here’s the art:

Bird Cage
Wire bird cage with bird created from paper penal laws, design to restrain the Irish. The cage is broken on purpose. With constraints he bird is living but not flying as it should.

The Red Hand of Ulster:
Taken from the Ulster flag and representing the blood that has been shed

1916 package:
A more literal interpretation of a package full of bullet holes like many you might have seen during the rebellion

Easter Lily:
A memorial to those killed on Bloody Sunday and a message of hope

Phoenix:
A red phoenix made of wore, a representative of the IRA and symbolizing the rise from the ashes

Body Armor:
Warrior’s garb made from actual blanket to represent the Blanket Protest and meant to look like sheep, which are prevalent in Ireland

Toilet Paper Letter:
Bobby Sands communicated (and write a book) by writing it on toilet paper and getting it snuck out of the prison. This is the first chapter of his book.

Bonfire:
The bonfire represents Orangemen’s Day. It demonstrates the impact of icons/art based on your viewpoint. It may feel celebratory to the Protestants but angers and frightens the Catholics.

Second – here’s the story behind the art.

She explained that Irish and British people are not the same, despite the misconception. She started by giving the background of British invasion and occupancy of Ireland – going back to the twelfth century. The Irish and the British have a long contentious relationship, which has manifested greatly based on religion. The British tend to be Protestant; the Irish tend to be Catholics. Laws and discrimination has developed around both political and religious differences.

Aine focused her art on a few more recent segments of activity – or rise ups. She talked about the 1916 Rising, when the Irish Republican Army (IRA) of volunteer (Catholic) soldiers invaded Dublin, centering on the General Post Office (GPO). The GPO still stands in Dublin; the bullet holes remain in the walls. Aine walked by this building a hundred times as a kid.

The 1916 Rising gave birth to Northern Ireland as a separate entity from the Republic of Ireland. It meant the Republic had a great deal of autonomy; while in Northern Ireland, which was more predominantly Protestant, the Irish Catholics suffered.

The Northern Irish Civil Rights Movement bubbled up in the 1970s, buoyed by changes spurred around the world in 1968 (including the US Civil Rights actions). It began as a peaceful push until January 1972, when police killed 13 peaceful protestors. That ignited a flame of violent discontent. On the Catholic side that was the Provisional IRA (Provos); and the Protestant side has the Ulster Defence Association (UDA). These trouble continued through the 1980s and even early 1990s.

The IRA was campaigning to reunite Ireland and/or cease discrimination in Northern Ireland. Many suspected IRA members were arrested and not treated as politic prisoners. There were three major ways that prisoners protested their treatment. The Blanket Protests, where prisoners wore only a blanket. Dirty Protest, where they covered their cells in human excrement and refused to bathe. And the Hunger Strikes, led by Bobby Sands. Many of the hunger strikers died but that effort really caught the attention and ire of the rest of the world.

In 1997, a cease fire was declared and the “Good Friday Agreement” brought political changes and peace to the region. That peace holds today – mostly. Although generations of discrimination have left a mark.



Front and Center at First Ave Peeps Show – solo Peeps Diorama submission by Ann Treacy
April 8, 2022, 9:49 pm
Filed under: St Paul

When the kids we little we used to create Peeps Dioramas for the Pioneer Press contest. Aine and I even did one on 2020 – you know due to COVID boredom. Last year I bought Peeps with good intentions but never got around to building. Those Peeps have been in the cupboard laughing at me for more than a year. Today after lunch I realized that the Peeps deadline was 5pm today. Dramatic pause…

It’s not often that the muse visits me with a burning urge but when it does I’ve got to listen. I decided I was going to Peep, dammit. I thought about possible timely topics – pandemic, war, ongoing racism and people dying because of it, oil winning over water, women losing rights like a needle in a haystack, never-ending winter – nothing felt right. Then I remembered something that does feel right – First Avenue!

So I recreated Front and Center at First Ave Peeps Show.

I hiked up to Art Scraps, the best place to go for diorama inspiration. I had a much bigger box in mind. So I have some thimble-drums and other things I may be selling on eBay soon. (Not really – total cost at Art Scraps was $3.27 – I will leave these tiny purchases to guilt me into another art frenzy next year.) Aine helped me find a box and walked up to the shop for glue and I let the magic work through me. I used the purple Peeps because – Prince. I found fairy lights, which make everything better. I created stars based on the Minnesota bands I’ve seen most recently and/or anyone who sent me a super nice note today. (List includes Kiss the Tiger, Golden Smog, Tina and the B Sides, Mae Simpson, Charlie Parr, Bathtub Cig, Mama Rose, Low Rats and Muskellunge.)

This diorama is inspired by First Ave, it is not a replica. I know the named stars aren’t inside the club. It did occur to me that if I had the time next year I would recreate (with liberties) the Clown Lounge in the basement of The Turf Club – but I’d focus on making the Peeps look like the actual bartenders. I might have to up my art skills through – or face retribution pricing for my pints.

In years past, the Pioneer Press would share Peeps submission on social media and folks could vote on winners. That’s no longer the case. So look surprised when you see me win. Actually I have great respect for the amazing artists with skill and time to create amazing art each year. And I appreciate a pastime that draws non-artists like me in too.

(Also I am allowing this terrible picture Aine took for me – because it looks as nerdy as I felt today.)



Three generations of Treacy testify to support Equal Rights Amendment in MN by Ann Treacy
February 1, 2022, 5:23 pm
Filed under: St Paul

Today my Mom (Elaine), my eldest daughter (Lily) and I did something important and a little scary. We testified in front of the Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Committee to support House File 726 (HF626): Gender equality provided under law, and constitutional amendment proposed. Big thanks to both Mom and Lily; this isn’t something we do every day but I think it was helpful for the legislators to hear from three generations and to get a glimpse at what has change and what hasn’t in the last 70 some years. And if you listen to the end you’ll hear Chair Rep. Jamie Becker-Finn say this is the first time they have heard from three generations. And thank you to Minnesota ERA for inviting us.

Here’s our portion of the meeting:

And the whole meeting:

I will paste the testimony we planned to read below. It’s pretty close to what we actually read. We thought this was important because gender is not currently protected in the Minnesota constitution. Most people think it is; most people think it should be. They had wonderful people testifying – some even more qualified than we are. In the end it was moved to Government Finance, which is a step forward. I expect is will pass in the House; not as hopeful for the Senate. (So if you care, find your state senator and ask them to make the ERA a priority.)

The sticky wicket seems to be the term gender versus sex. Detractors seem to think that including all genders means we somehow risk losing something. However, if we’re striving for equality for all, that means everyone – who cares what gender? It’s couched in a lot of different ways but in the end I feel like some folks feel we need someone to be less equal to make themselves feel more equal. I’d rather be on a team of all winners and we have the power (at least here) to do make everyone a winner.

See full testimony Continue reading



Road Trip Day 8: Leaving with a blast of energy covering as much of LA as possible by Ann Treacy
January 12, 2022, 3:35 am
Filed under: California

It’s been a long, yet fun, vacation. Yes, we had a few moments of being tired and hungry with 60 minutes before we got to the next hotel but mostly it’s been an awesome trip. We landed in LA yesterday but we saved most of the city for today. We started with a hike from Venice Beach to Santa Monica Pier. It was sunny and warm and great people watching. We dipped our toes into the ocean. It was a moment that you soak up to get you through the rest of the Minnesota winter.

Next chapter, we went to the J Paul Getty art museum. It’s free! And the buildings and grounds themselves are worth the jaunt out to the location. The garden was beautiful. Heather loved all of the succulents. We breezed through pretty quickly because it’s the sort of place whether either you commit to only looking at the works that really call to you or you spend a week there. We didn’t have a week.

Some of the highlights include:

  • Cindy Sherman – with Untitled Film Still #21 – she is amazing; so many different looks this one isn’t as disturbing as some but still has an edge
  • Antonio Rizzo with the Bust of Simon of Trent – he captures the sadness of the baby killed and then assumed to be blessed
  • Summer Azure with Tourmaline – very modern nonbinary self-portrait – colors are oldly vibrant
  • Fernand Leger with Walking Flowers – love the setting, love the retro cheerfulness
  • We saw more. Unfortunately the galleries I might have liked best (newest art) is closed this month but it’s fun to see new art. And really, again, the location, garden and structure are amazing in themselves.

Next we took a walk down Sunset Blvd. From the Getty to the end of our walk we really saw everything from very high end homes (we saw from the car) to people experiencing homelessness 5 miles down the same road and everything in between. The murals were fun and we saw a few places we recognized from lore or on TV, including the Viper Room to the Laugh Factory.

From Sunset Blvd we skipped to Hollywood Blvd. That means the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Chinese Theater and the foot prints out front, the Dolby Theater, where the Academy Awards happen. Please note that hand-size-wise I am clearly a dead ringer for Marilyn Monroe and Jean Harlow. We probably walked 3-4 mile sin this stretch, which was a nice amount of time to soak in the city – or at least a part of the city.

In the end we went back to the awesome sunset of Playa del Rey. And now we’re trying to figure out a night plan. I feel like this is where COVID and Tuesday may be fighting our desire to have an awesome night – but we’ll see and I can report back tomorrow.



Road Trip Day 7: Finally found the ocean at Playa del Rey! by Ann Treacy
January 11, 2022, 5:41 am
Filed under: California

We started the day at Joshua Tree National Park. We did one last hike. It felt great to be out in the sunshine.

Then we made the drive from Joshua Tree to Los Angeles – with a stop at Pioneertown. The views were pretty spectacular but very up and down. My ears can still feel it.

We made it to the ocean!! It took 7 days and 30+ hours of driving but we did it and our timing was amazing. We got into our hotel and walked to the ocean. It was about 2 miles and we weren’t really sure what we’d see but as you can see we had front row, center seats to an amzing sunset. We walked around a bit but really, we let the week of driving and meals from gas stations take it’s toll for the night because we have some amazing plans tomorrow!




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