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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…

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