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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!

Road Trip Day Seven: Montana to North Dakota and prairie dogs by Ann Treacy
September 25, 2022, 2:54 am
Filed under: Montana, North Dakota

We left Missoula bright and early at 6am. So I got to see the sunrise, which doesn’t happen often and that meant we got some serious miles in so we’re down to six hours of driving tomorrow. We did make a few stops.

First stop was Prairie Dog Town in Greycliff MT. It is a super easy break from I90. It was a – minute break stretching our legs and catching serious wind and worth every minute. Plus I’ve never seen a prairie dog. Cute from a distance rodenty up close.

We stopped for a quick jump up a bunch of stairs at Pompey’s Pillar just outside of Billings Montana. Clark (of Lewis and Clark fame) has signed the giant rock or pillar on this site. The site is close to the highway but does include a lot of steps – the structure is 120 feet high in the middle of a field. It’s cool to think of the signature being preserved. Clark named the structure after Sacagawea’s son. Incredible too to see a rendition of the canoes they used to travel (carved into Yellowstone trees). I can’t begin to imagine taking one of those into a river or having to be in sync with the number of people they probably had in the canoe.

This site is close to the site of Little Big Horn (aka Custer’s Las Stand). It’s hard to know where the lines between exploration and colonization begin, end and blur. Historically, this was part of the Louisiana Purchase but made part of the Crow Indian Reservation in the 1800s. It’s no longer part of the reservation but Crow tribal members have first right to homestead the land.

We ended up at Bismark for the night. It’s the capitol of North Dakota. SO far have only seen it at night but seems pretty hopping.

Road Trip Day 6: Washington, Idaho, Montana – Aine is launched at Evergreen! by Ann Treacy
September 24, 2022, 3:06 am
Filed under: Idaho, Montana, Washington DC

Good news – after a fantastic breakfast at Hash in Olympia, we left Aine happy and ready at the Evergreen College campus. She was ready for us to leave and I can’t wait to hear how much she likes school once she gets started. So far, it’s just orientation and meeting folks. Sounds like meeting folks is going well.

Now we are trying to get home (1700 miles) in three days- and remember only one of will be driving and it’s not me. Dad (aka grandpa) continues to rock it. We’ve made it through the serious mountains of Washington and Idaho. And we managed to catch a few sights as we floored it.

We checked out Wild Horses Monument aka Grandfather Cuts Loose the Ponies in Quincy WA. Created by Chewelah sculptor David Govedare. We checked it out from a distance; next time we might march up for a closer look.

I wanted to stop to see something in Idaho so we stopped to see the Sunshine Miner Memorial in Kellogg. It honors the 91 victims of the Sunshine Miner disaster of 1972. Apparently there were 178 people working; 85 made it out safely and two were found alive seven days later. There was a big fire and spread quickly given in the mine. Very sad. The memorial is touching with mini gravestones for each lost miner and a 13 foot statute of a miner with a light shining from his helmet.

We have landed in Missoula MT with a hope of getting closer to home tomorrow!

Road Trip Day Five: Happy Landing at Evergreen College by Ann Treacy
September 23, 2022, 1:23 am
Filed under: Washington

While the mission is not completed, we at least know it was a success. Aine moved into her dorm this morning. And dorm does not do it justice. Aine live in a pod that she shares with three other students. They share a kitchen, living room and bathroom but each have their own bedroom. It feels like she’s pretty close to classroom buildings. She met one roommate while Grandpa and I were there. She was just so excited. We will see her tomorrow for breakfast and get the update.

The campus is gorgeous. The campus is in the middle of a forest. There are some sports fields. The center of the campus is pretty compact but there’s a nice outdoor amphitheater. It’s a little remote (for me) but Aine seems to love it. Also – as the quick tour of the main quad, you can see there are friendly deer.

We got to know Olympia a little better with trips to Target. It seems like a nice town. Grandpa and I walked around the boardwalk a bit and had a nice dinner. It is a strange place for a Midwesterner. The ocean and deep woods a couple miles apart and huge mountains in the horizon. It’s beautiful. And nice news for Aine there’s no fee for public transport, so the world (or at least Olympia) is her oyster.

Road Trip Day Four: Spokane to Seattle to Olympia by Ann Treacy
September 22, 2022, 2:40 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized, Washington

The last stretch was a rough one. It’s gorgeous in Washington but the traffic is much great and the road goes straight up. I’m not sure my ears will ever un-pop. I think we caught a glimpse of Mount Rainier on our drive. It was pretty amazing and about as close as we’re going to get on this trip.

We stopped in Seattle for a few hours. We dropped Aine off to see a friend at Washington University. Dad and I went to the Discovery Park on the Sound. They gave us a special permit to drive right down to the water. It was so lovely and calm after the week of driving that we’ve had.

Then we picked up Aine and saw a few quick sights of Seattle, mostly around the fish market. We had a lovely dinner in Tacoma and headed to Olympia to sleep. And now it’s Thursday and it’s move in day!!

Road Trip Day Three: Montana, Wyoming and Washington highlight Butte MT, where my great grandfather died by Ann Treacy
September 21, 2022, 3:33 am
Filed under: Idaho, Montana, Washington

Welcome to day three of the road trip. The highlight was when we accidentally stepped into our family history … we stopped in Butte MT and wanted to see something. (OK I wanted to see something, and I knew it better be quick and easy.) So, I picked the Granite Mountain Memorial Overlook, which seemed like an easy in and out. It wasn’t, in fact we never did get to the actual Memorial, but we saw so much more.

We circled the memorial, which means we saw the mines around us. Sounds like Butte started with gold panners laying claims in 1964. After the gold bust, they moved to silver and then copper. This area was number one producer of copper. In fact, they were the first to mine a full mile down.

Turns out my great grandfather John Michael Murphy died in the mines here, leaving a widow with six kids. Lots of Irish ended up in the mines here. Apparently in 1880s, it was the “Most Irish part of the US.” You can see in the names of the streets and bars. Most folks were from the Beara Peninsula, which would ring true with my mom’s family hailing from County Cork.

The area looks like area around the Iron Range in Northern Minnesota. (Also saw some timber commerce going by us.) The closer to the mines, the smaller the homes. While buildings in town are impressively stately. We were here on a cloudy day, which really gave us the feel of Ireland or Northern MN. It also looks like a Claes Oldenburg playland. So industrial in a way I think is striking and beautiful – I hate to admit but at least as beautiful to me as sun on a mountain.

After that we kept on going. We had lunch in Missoula and pushed on through Wyoming. We landed in Spokane, WA. Once we got here, Grandpa and I took a walk in Manito Park. I wish we had been able to spend more time. It’s a really nice urban park.

Complaint of the day – why does Washington State putting their welcome sign on the driver’s side of the road? Drivers are not taking pictures. Compare Washington to how I rocked Idaho!

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