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Art in Arizona – street art and art crawls by Ann Treacy
March 31, 2018, 1:12 am
Filed under: Alaska

After our hike today we had lunch near downtown Phoenix at Roosevelt Row. It’s an areas with a lot of murals and street art. Grandpa noticed that the sidewalk walk built in 2017. Often a sign of sprucing up an area. The community has a university-hipster feel. There’s a lot of building happening. But there are some boarded up buildings and we saw a fire truck come support a person who clearly had been outside too long – living outside I mean.

So it’s a community in flux, but it’s fluxing up. Also it looks as if it hasn’t yet gotten rid of all of the long term residents. It’s never sad to see a crack house leave (and apparently the area had its share at one time) but you hate to see regular citizens get the bump – better to have a good mix.

We also had an opportunity to check out the art in Old Town Scottsdale last night. It’s a very different scene. Expensive art to buy, but some free wine (which we didn’t have). It was fun to check out some of the kitsch. We left about 9 pm; I’d say that place can get a little rowdy, especially in spring break season after 11.

Forgot to mention – dinner at In and Out, a special request from Aine. The same girl who had filet mignon, lobster and caviar the night before!

Hiking in Arizona – saguaros, chollas and prickly pears by Ann Treacy
March 30, 2018, 10:11 pm
Filed under: Arizona

We’re not gone yet – but tomorrow we start the road trip home, I thought I’d get a jump on the archive of the trip. We’ve had a great time. First – it’s snowing back home and I’m sitting in an air-conditioned house with 90 degrees outside.

Second – we got in a lot of hiking. Aine, Grandpa and I made two trips to Tonto National Forest; both times to the Sears Kay Ruins, which are a pretty easy but high walk to the peak of a mountain. The ruins include a village, homes and fortification of Hohokam – an ancient Native American Tribe, who “may be” ancestors of the Pima Tribe.

The location is beautiful but it’s amazing to think that people would choose to land here – high up in the mountains with limited access to water. The village isn’t built on the side of a cliff as we were used to seeing in Ireland but it’s slippery enough. You can definitely see the where the rooms would be in the building of the ruins. It’s pretty cool to see. We also like see the rock formations that look like a strong wind would take them down. (Though none toppled while we were looking.)

On one visit we made a detour to see Lake Bartlett – a reservoir for much of the water used in the area. Pretty and huge.

Aine and I spent about 30 minutes climbing Piestewa Peak. It’s a much more difficult climb, many more people and it was a super-hot afternoon. I can’t tell you what the top of that peak looks like. I’m sure it’s not as nice as the Sear-Kay Ruin.

We three also went to the Botanical Gardens. The big highlight was the butterfly pavilion – and some of the art. It also gave us a quick 101 on cacti. We learned about saguaros, chollas and prickly pears. I think my favorite part of visiting Arizona is the fact that you’d never mistake a drive through Minnesota’s Superior National Forest with a drive through Tonto National Forest.

Musical Instrument Museum – country to country history of music in Phoenix by Ann Treacy
March 30, 2018, 12:41 am
Filed under: Arizona

Aine and I are in Phoenix visiting Grandpa. I’ll do a post on our visit and hiking and saguaros and maybe Aine’s steak, lobster and caviar dinner – but the visit to the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) seemed worth its own post.

First – it’s huge. When you check in, they give you headphones. As you walk through the galleries, the headphones pick up the music being played at each station of the exhibit. The theme is musical instruments throughout the ages. The rooms are broken up by continent, then mostly by countries. There are 200 stations.

The docent suggested we start with Africa since so much music stems from there. Then follow the trail – which is shaped like a j. (I assume he meant the letter – but I’m not that great at shapes.) Each station includes a number of instruments, maybe some costumes, masks or other regalia and a video that includes music from the featured area. I am tempted to post the 100 or so pictures I took. But I will keep it to my very favorites.

It’s kind of amazing to see types of instruments that you find everywhere – drums for example. Or scrapers, which were my favorites. Instruments where you just scrap one things against the other – be it fork across a cheese grater or Cheshire cat with the bamboo mohawk. I loved the bowed lutes, which I feel I don’t see around now. The closest thing I can think of is Paul Metzger playing banjo with a bow. There are also lots of variations on bagpipes – the creepiest, yet coolest, was the one made from calf skin. You can pick is out below – it looks just like it sounds.

I decided that if ankle rattles count as musical instruments that maybe I could learn to play or I’d maybe try a belt rattle – but maybe not the one made of goat hooves.

After the geographic tour (and partially in the US rooms) there are a number of famous people instruments. Highlights include – guitar and suit from Johnny Cash, bodhran signed by the Chieftains, Glen Campbell’s suit and guitar, Ravi Shankar’s sitar and Tito Puente’s drums (timbales).

I thought we’d be lucky to get two hours in at the museum – we went for almost three and then came back for a while after lunch!

March for our Lives – kids should not worry about being shot or being left behind to grieve by Ann Treacy
March 24, 2018, 8:01 pm
Filed under: St Paul

Aine and I went to March for our Lives MSP. We were helping to amplify the messages as the Women’s March. I used Twitter; Aine used SnapChat. I’m glad we had a little role to play. And I’m grateful that so many people showed up for the event – thousands! Here’s hoping that we’re loud enough to be heard. Loud enough to get run reform bills heard in the Minnesota Legislature.

There’s something exciting and shaming to have the next generation take over because we the grownups are falling down on the job of keeping kids safe. I guess all we can do is ask – how we can help?

The students met at Harriet Island and marched to the Capitol. We met them there. It was cold. So cold! But we were out there for hours chanting, holding signs, listening to stories, demanding change – and some registering for vote!!

There was one speaker who struck a chord with me. A 15 year old girl who talked about her brother teaching her how to disarm a gunman when she was 8. Heartbreaking on its own, she went on to talk about the evolution of planning for a shooter in your classroom. At 8 there was a bravado of planning to save your classmates as you take down the shooter. Sadly as you grow older and school shootings become more common the lessons shift to how to keep yourself safe. You learn to use the blood of fallen classmates to disguise yourself before playing dead.

Her tear-wrenching last line spoke brutality of the schoolyard today – she feared being shot at school but more than that she feared being the last one left standing – drenched in her friends blood.

I’ve included video and pictures. Sadly I don’t have this young woman on video. If/when I get her name I’ll add it. The video is rough – it was difficult to hear on site at times – but it gives a flavor of the crowd, the day, the wind. (Let’s hope it’s a good wind!)


Kate leads the revolution to safer schools and gun control by Ann Treacy
March 7, 2018, 9:12 pm
Filed under: St Paul

OK – maybe she isn’t singled-handedly leading the effort – but she’s there in the front row and I’m super proud of her. The MN School Walkout is a student-led effort to raise awareness and protest gun violence – especially in the wake of the school shooting in Florida last month. Apparently there were 15 schools participating. I saw that 770 people had signed up to participate as of yesterday. I’m terrible with estimating crowd size but I heard there were 2,000 students.

Kate worked with her school (CDH) to get involved. In fact, Kate was one of a few students interviewed for an Editorial in the Pioneer Press. For the CDH kids, the walkout started around 10:30; they walked (or drove) to Central High School where they met with the rest of the group and walked to the Capitol.

I caught up with them midway; I was Tweeting for the Women’s March at the event. They marched to the Capitol – cheered and then moved to the Leif Erickson Park (next door to the Capitol) for a rally. Their signs were great. They kids were super enthusiastic. Plenty of legislators watched and I talked to a few who also had kids in the crowd. People were proud and optimistic for our future to have kids so ready to rally. I couldn’t hear much of the speakers – but there was plenty of cheers. It was chilly (20 degrees and windy) and the park was covered in deep snow but the kids persisted.

Kudos to CDH for embracing the opportunity. I got a call saying Kate was missing from school, that many students were going to the walkout and that the school was OK with it. Please contact the school if as a parent you weren’t OK with it and your kid would get Saturday detention.

There was one odd duck in the crowd promoting “Castle Laws” but I have to give him props – he’s exercising his right to free speech!

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