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Minnesota River Rocks by Ann Treacy
September 22, 2008, 12:48 am
Filed under: St Paul

Last night I went to the River Rocks Festival with Anita. The weather was perfect. We got free tickets. The bands were super fun. We saw a crazy woman who tried to tell us that we were standing in her space. I’m not sure that she quite understood the nature of an outdoor concert – but mostly we were glad not to be her.

I took some video mostly of Mike Doughty and Semisonic. I would have taken more but my batteries were running low.

See the other Semisonic videos:


More Mike Doughty:


And one of the McNally Smith bands:

Chemistry Experiments at Merriam Park Library by Ann Treacy
September 22, 2008, 12:29 am
Filed under: St Paul

Today we went to the Merriam Park Library for some chemistry experiments. They stuck a skewer through a balloon to demonstrate the elasticity of polymers. The heated a wire into a new shape because it is created with an alloy that was formed at a very high temperature. In a cooler temperature the atoms become flexible but once heated the atoms again become rigid and sort of snap back into shape.

So now I feel like we could all pass a high school chemistry test – well maybe not quite, but I’m hoping that when some of us take high school chemistry that these experiments will come back to them and help them pass some test or get some scholarship.

It was a fun day.

Nativity County Fair by Ann Treacy
September 20, 2008, 10:15 pm
Filed under: St Paul

Last weekend was the Nativity County Fair. It’s the big fundraiser for the girls’ school. Sadly it rained all weekend. But we were up there a lot. The last year we were in town we helped out a lot. But since all of our phone numbers changes while we were in Ireland we were not called upon to help with anything. We were just patrons.

We played a lot of bingo. Lily won a game. We did the Twinkie Walk; again I think Lily won once. Kate and Aine went on the Tilt-a-Whirl. They played a lot of kid games. We wanted the talent show in the rain.

I nearly forgot – we also did the fun run before the Fair. So we ran a mile around the Fair. Aine and I were the last people to finish. In fairness I think she was also the youngest runner. The big girls did a good job. I’m not sure they ran the whole mile – but they beat us.

Renaissance Festival by Ann Treacy
September 20, 2008, 10:10 pm
Filed under: St Paul

OK I’m way behind on the blog again – despite the fact that we’ve done some fun stuff. On a Saturday we went to the Minnesota Renaissance Festival. It was Irish weekend. So we visited our friends and neighbors who edit and publish the Minnesota Irish Gazette.

The weather was perfect! There were about a billion cars – but it’s way out there so there’s plenty of room and they do a great job with the traffic.

Our most fun thing – Kate, Aine and I rode an elephant! Aine also rode a llama. Lily was the official photographer.

We saw the jousting match, which is cool. No one gets killed but it looks pretty real. I just finished The Other Boleyn, where they joust and stuff so it was particularly fun for me.

We saw the snake farm. The girls were very brave about petting the snakes.

Aine’s hospital testing by Ann Treacy
September 20, 2008, 9:56 pm
Filed under: St Paul

Last week we went for some medical testing with Aine. She had renal reflux. Kate had it too until she outgrew it. I won’t go into great detail with the testing – Aine called it the potty experience, which is an apt name. She also said it was very, very, very painful but she did not cry and she didn’t.

Kate had to be sedated when she had this done a few years ago. I guess each kid is different. The good news is that we got the tests back and she’s in the clear. She’s also outgrown the condition and there will be no more potty experiences.

Outside the radiology department at Children’s Hospital is a Winnie the Pooh tree. It’s tradition for Patrick to try to crawl through the hole in the tree. He has yet to succeed.

Civic Fest at the RNC by Ann Treacy
September 8, 2008, 5:29 pm
Filed under: Minneapolis

In our effort to do everything related to the RNC except attend the RNC, the big girls and I went to Civic Fest on Thursday. Grandpa dropped us off downtown. I have to say the traffic was no worse than ever and the security was minimal. We saw some heavily armed cops – big night sticks but that was about it. And they must have been at the end of their shift as they were getting pictures taken by friends.

Civic Fest was dead. There were very, very few people there. I’m not sure if that was the case through the whole week, but I think it was. Originally I think the cost was about $15 per person although kids were free. By the time we got there (their last hours open) everyone was free.

We did get to see some cool things that the girls enjoyed. There was a huge replica of the White House. You could see into it and it was completely furnished. Aine would have loved it; we were sorry she wasn’t there. We got to walk through a replica of Air Force One. We got to see samples of various presidential china patterns. They also had sample dressed from all of the first ladies. We though Dollie Madison’s was a little risqué. Lily did a report on Zachary Taylor a few years ago, so she was excited to see a few things about him.

It was like a little taste of the Smithsonian and made me realize that we really need to go to Washington DC at some point. The kids would love it. The kids enjoyed the Civic Fest.

There was an area dedicated to Minnesota and the Sesquicentennial. I took a video of that area for the Sesqui Blog.

Ron Paul Rally for the Republic by Ann Treacy
September 4, 2008, 11:36 pm
Filed under: Minneapolis

On Tuesday I went with my brother to the Ron Paul convention. It was an all day affair. We arrived about 5 minutes before Ron Paul spoke. First – there were no storm troopers in Minneapolis. I don’t even think there were any extra cops. They seemed to have more wrist bands but that was it. You could walk down the streets. It wasn’t scary. It was normal. Well, it was as if they had a big conference in town.

So from the local merchant’s perspective Minneapolis is hopping and St Paul has become like a police state. Now maybe St Paul is more welcoming now – but if Monday was any indication no one is making any money – well no retailers anyways. I did see a Hummer Limo outside a neighborhood restaurant (The Heartland), I assume that was convention-related so the people outside downtown are doing well.

Back to Ron Paul… I think the event sold out. Jesse Ventura spoke during the afternoon. I saw a little press on that – in fact I think that’s the only local press I saw about the event.

I have nearly the whole thing on YouTube. Here’s a quick look from the end of his talk:

After the gig we went to Kieran’s with some of Billy’s friends. I think the no-cover policy was the draw. But eventually we headed to the After Party at the Lone Tree, where Jimmie Vaughan played. Actually we first walked into the wrong Lone Tree where we did get to talk to a few people – many had come quite a ways to see Ron Paul. But once we figured out that there were two Lone Trees – or maybe just two entrances we went to the right one and found ourselves front and center right next to the band.

Here’s a video from the Jimmie Vaughan gig:

Take Back Labor Day by Ann Treacy
September 2, 2008, 4:43 am
Filed under: St Paul

It’s been a full day – here are the videos from the show. We really just stayed for Billy Bragg, who I love. The event was a nice chunk of calm in the middle of an exciting day. Actually it was a really nice event. There were some things going on for kids and Billy Bragg for me.

Rumor has it Bruce Springsteen was goign to show up. I haven’t heard if he did.

Continue reading

Demonstration at the RNC by Ann Treacy
September 2, 2008, 4:13 am
Filed under: St Paul

So I’m hoping that when the kids go to school tomorrow and the teacher asks – what did you do over your summer vacation – that they’ll think of the Fair. Today we went to the demonstration downtown St Paul that coincided with the Republican National Convention.

We don’t necessarily have extreme political views – but I think it’s important to exercise your right to voice your displeasure with the government. Our intention was to go to the demonstration for an hour or so and then hit the Take Back Labor Day celebration on Harriet Island.

It was quite a day.

We parked up on Summit and walked to the Capitol. Unfortunately we saw a bad accident on the way that sort of set the tone for the day. A van had hit a cyclist. We don’t know what happened; it wasn’t good but it was an accident, there’s no doubt about that.

We forged on. We’ve been to peace rallies before. On the way to the Capitol we saw plenty of police – but it was pretty normal. I have some pictures and videos included. We loved the rapping Bush and McCain. The speakers were riling people up. People had a lot of energy. But it was very peaceful. Even the girls started to relax. I pointed out that most folks just want to demonstrate peacefully. I did suggest that you didn’t want to hang out with the protestors who wore bandanas on their face.

Eventually we headed into town to get lunch. (In retrospect we clearly had no idea – but how were we to know?) On the way to get food we were interviewed by Annie Baxter from Minnesota Public Radio. So that was a thrill.

A couple blocks further, the folks from Central Presbyterian were giving out cups of water – to everyone. And they had lunch in the basement. So Patrick and the girls made the stop. These were the best church ladies ever! Clearly they were out all day. I could guess their political leanings but they were careful to simply give water and relief. The best line of the day was Lily’s observation that these were the Peace Makers.

While the rest of the family ate – I stood watch. We were keeping our eye on the big demonstration but quickly learned that the real action happens around the demonstration. First off, I was absolutely overwhelmed with the police and the riot squad and then the army. They were on feet, on bikes, and in vans. I was also amazed with the barricades – the reminded us of the peace walls in Belfast. Also there were a few groups – maybe 6 groups of fringe demonstrators. They wore bandanas. I saw a group that had been pepper sprayed. I also saw a bit of the cat and mouse game between the more spirited demonstrators, the cops and the reporters.

I told the girls that we should be pleasant to everyone because everyone had a job to do. So when people asked me to step off the steps of wall, I did it and smiled. I was surprised at the number of people who got snarky with the security guards and cops. It may be a free country – but the walls were on private property. Plus people were hot and hungry and looking for excitement. I just don’t know why you’d want to fuel the fire.

Well the real demonstration (10,000 people) eventually started. Our plan still was to watch for a few minutes and then sneak off to the event on Harriet Island. Unfortunately they changed the direction of the parade (or maybe I got it wrong; sometimes that happens) and we kind of got stuck.

Between the barricades and the riot squad we were really starting to feel boxed in. Unfortunately we also ended up deeper into the fringe than we really wanted to be. I spoke to a neighbor who had also been to the demonstration. She marched with the group and saw little to no violence. We also saw no violence – but we certainly saw the potential. We saw a couple of people get carried away. (We heard later that 283 people had been arrested.)

One thing I really didn’t like – we had no perspective. We really just wanted to get out of the way – but the riot squad wouldn’t let us out of the path. In fairness that’s their job and I did catch a few of the guys waving at the girls to be friendly – and at no point were they disrespectful of us. (And at no point were we disrespectful of them.) They tried to tell us how to get out – but it ended up getting us deeper and deeper in. Eventually we just slunk past everyone to get out. (I saw the guys in the black bandanas circling and decided we were getting out now – and after some serious hoofing it we were out.) Also we did end up on one block with the mounted police on one side of us and the bandanas on the other. But we walked calmly by the horses and on our way.

I never felt like we were in imminent danger – but I certainly felt like we were a few blocks away from it. (And watching the news I know see that we were.)

Anyways we eventually made it to the Take Back Labor Day party on Harriet Island. (I’ll write about that in a separate post.)

After the Labor Day gig we headed back to our car on Summit Avenue. Sadly there was no good way to get there. It started when we crossed the bridge and saw a full our army surrounding the Crowne Plaza (old Radisson) Hotel.

I suspected that they were just protecting delegates and politicians – but it didn’t bode well for an way to the car. We ended up walking along Kellogg to Rice Park. We were able to see how they had fixed up the park for the RNC. (No sign of the barricades here!) Unfortunately there was a definite line that we couldn’t cross to get home. Eventually we walked around St Joseph’s to the History Center and up past the Cathedral to the car.

The girls were troopers!! Thankfully we had tons of practice walking miles upon miles in Dublin. Once we were back home the girls admitted that they were glad they went.

(I feel like I should add that I appreciate the need for the bandana types to be squeaky wheels to get attention – but when you’re with your kids you don’t want to be too close to a squeaky wheel.)

Continue reading

Forty Things about Katie at the State Fair by Ann Treacy
September 2, 2008, 2:52 am
Filed under: St Paul

On Sunday we went to the State Fair for Katie’s birthday. Katie turns 40 in October so we were celebrating with a scavenger at the State Fair. We had an amazing day. The weather was perfect. Sadly Uncle Billy couldn’t make it but everyone else did.

We ate, we saw things, we ate, we walked, we ate, we went on the giant slide. That’s about it.

We met up at 11:00 and we left at 7:00 – with 7 kids. There were some high points and some low points. Everyone got a malt at the Dairy Building – that’s a high point. Sean got lost on the way to the Sesquicentennial – that was a low point.

The kids loved the show in the Eco Experience building; the show was an hour long. So that’s a long time to watch a kid enjoy a show. But we all had seats.

They ran out of Obama buttons. Sad for us; good for Obama. We saw the tiny newborn pigs. I learned that Summit beer goes well Sweet Martha’s Cookies.

We just had a perfect day. Just in case you want it (forty-things-about-katie-at-the-state-fair) – here’s the scavenger hunt. We didn’t get through everything – but it sure kept us busy.

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