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MN State Fair 2021: Music, art, vegan food and fewer crowds by Ann Treacy
September 7, 2021, 3:23 am
Filed under: St Paul

We missed the Minnesota State Fair last year because of the pandemic. Most of us went this year, but in shifts. Dad (aka Grandpa) and I went in the morning. We had some yummy food like cheese curds and Sweet Martha’s Cookies. We walked around to the DFL booth, Education Building and some others. I’ve heard up to 200 exhibitors have backed out of the Fair this year. It seems like many, if not most of State Departments have ducked out. No calendars at the Education Building. No going inside the MN DNR. That and the light crowds were signs of the time. Even with the lighter crowds, we avoided certain areas and wore masks in buildings.

We had a break for a car wash cookout. (Where Billy has a BBQ at the car wash, which conveniently is where we park to go to the Fair!) Dad went home and Lily and Kate arrived. We found all (maybe not all) of the vegan options for them. We also checked out some art. It’s always fun to see the subversive seed art. I am going to try to create a subversive work for next year. (I am a seed art pro, at least based on the Zoom class I took during the pandemic.) We also went to the Fine Arts Building. They have some incredible artists and such a wide range. Plenty of art recognizing the year of civil unrest.

We also had some random treats like the giant rubber duck, bull riding and the cows. Lily was disappointed that the Miracle of Birth building was closed. (I was not.) She loves to see the baby animals. We were just in time for the parade and we got in plenty of steps. (Clocked in 13 miles today!) I also got a glimpse at the MN DNR Wall of Shame, which highlights animals that have been poached. I was on the look for a deer that we used to see down at Wita Tanka and we haven’t seen for a while. I didn’t see him, but I saw a few others.

Finally the music. I’m always amazed at the wide range of free music at the Fair. I stopped to see three acts (Mae Simpson, Yam Haus and Rosie Flores) and enjoyed each but also it’s just fun to see and see the music as you walk by various parks and bars.



I walked 40 miles – in 12ish hours at a FANS Ultra Race by Ann Treacy
August 29, 2021, 7:22 pm
Filed under: St Paul

I want this saved for when I’m old and no one will believe I could do it. Yesterday I did a 12 hour walk. I suspect I walked just shy of 40 miles. But because I walked home after midnight (so more like Friday night but technically Saturday) and walked (to get places) after the race, I absolutely walked 40 miles.

I joined a FANS Ultra Race, the proceeds go to college and career mentorship program for high school students, specifically working with students of color, recent immigrants, and other groups that have been historically underrepresented in higher education. Heather got me into the race. She runs all of the time. She ran the race yesterday. Here’s a glimpse of how it went for the novice first-timer.

The race started at 8am. The track is a two-mile loop around Fort Snelling Lake. I know that area very well. People come from all over the world for the race. There was a guy in his 80s who has run every one of these. There was a guy who was hoping to get a world record. The deal is you can walk or run for 6 hours, 12 hours or (wait for it!) 24 hours.

I mostly walked it alone listening to music. (Thanks to everyone who contributed to the Playlist for me – it was very helpful!)  If it hadn’t been for the blisters (turns out sock choice matters), I would have felt no pain. It was hot and sultry and there were reports of thunderstorms all day. But the path is pretty shaded. There were to stops for water and I got a cup at each at every stop. I think that was my key to success. I didn’t eat anything partially because I didn’t want to stop.

They weigh you and if you lose too much weight, they make you stop. My first hope was that this might happen. Can you imagine a better win-win situation? You get to stop and you’ve lost weight! (Going by my scale I lost just over a pound from Saturday to Sunday. Probably bad math to have this be my weight loss plan.) Also I thought they might call the race if it poured ran or saw lightning.  We got caught in huge burst of rain and lightning. But it cleared up before we really had a chance to quit.

One of the volunteers noted on my last lap that I looked exactly as I did the first lap, which was true. Except due to weather my hair was curlier. Walking is the best because it doesn’t beat you up. The runners were amazing to see. But then they were very sweaty and then there were painfully stretching and then some were laying flat out. God love those real athletes, but walking is where it’s at!

Kallie walked a few of the last laps with me, which was a huge help. Really though I wasn’t super hurting. The last part of the race they have us on a smaller track. And it was nearly dark and the fast runner are trying to eke out every last mile they can. While some of us turtles wonder what the heck we’re doing. Remember Vacation, “look kids, Big Ben, Parliament.” That’s what it felt like – and there was no way to get off at that pint. Luckily that was only for 10 minutes and then I was done. And gotta admit it, I was proud of myself.

And an hour later I was at the Icehouse watching Happy Apple!



Help Monica and Ann Eat with the Pioneer Press at the Minnesota State Fair by Ann Treacy
August 8, 2021, 11:44 pm
Filed under: St Paul

The Minnesota State Fair is having a contest to win a trip to the Fair with Eat editor Jess Fleming as she samples her way through the 2021 new foods. I think Monica and I are the perfect walking companions to offer our opinion on the best the fair has to offer!

First, we are the best walkers for touring the Twin Cities. Last year, we walked a whole marathon in a day. Two years ago, we led a nighttime walk with Governor Walz and Lt Governor Flanagan to meet people experiencing homelessness. Often we grab our pickers and pick up trash walk on the shores of the Mississippi at Wita Tanka and folks seem to enjoy our #whatIsawonmywalk posts.

Second, we are huge State Fair fans. When my daughters were little, I started a tradition of creating a scavenger hunt each year for the Fair. That morphed into a big Treacy Family tradition of three generations wearing matching shirts and competing with the annual scavenger hunt. Last fall, Monica and I lit up the State Fair with the Love Vote Rise message.

We’re brave, we’re opinionated and like a diversity of food! And we’ve been walking all over the Twin Cities building up an appetite.

So how can you help? It seems like part of what the Pioneer Press would like to see in a contest winner is someone (or people) with a little social media muscle. And between now and the contest deadline, we will be posting periodic messages about how awesome we would be at the Fair. On Twitter and Instagram we’ll use the tag: #getustothemnstatefair and/or you look for posts on Facebook (from me or Monica). If you wouldn’t mind taking a second to like or comment on a random post, it might help!



Women’s Rights Protest: Helping legislators understand consent HF707/SF1683 by Ann Treacy
March 30, 2021, 2:44 am
Filed under: St Paul

The Minnesota Supreme Court recently ruled that Minnesota law doesn’t consider a rape victim “mentally incapacitated” if they consumed alcohol or drugs voluntarily. Instead, the mentally incapacitated standard applies only if a person was given drugs or alcohol without their consent. It doesn’t take much to imagine the repercussions; victims of unwanted sexual attention or rape will be held responsible. Perpetrators of abuse will not.

This is unfathomable. Given that 90 percent of adult rape victims are female and transgender college students are at higher risk of rape than non-trans students – this is an issue of Women and transgender/nonbinary rights. There are bipartisan bills moving through the House (HF707) and Senate (SF1683) that would change the mental incapacity standard to include cases where victims voluntarily consume alcohol and were subsequently sexually assaulted. We need our legislators to know that we will not stand for this!

Today I attended a Women’s Rights protest organized by two amazing young women, Madisyn Priestley and Kenna Groschen. Hundreds of young people showed up and told their stories of sexual violence, abuse and harassment. The stories were heartbreaking but the love and support was palpable. I applaud the brave women who shared their stories and their poetry.

 

One line that struck me, “I only control my body until its inconvenient to some man.” We need to change that. Women can no longer be asked to adhere to certain standards (don’t drink, don’t wear yoga pants in the grade school, don’t wear too much make up…) because men are not asked to adhere to standards like – don’t rape.

So I ask you to Contact your legislators. Tell them to pass HF707/SF1683.

Below is Madisyn Priestley’s introduction to the day.

One super frustration that is symptomatic of the problem. During what was a solemn event – suddenly a young guy in the back starts shouting about Jesus. His friend had a fistful of pamphlets. Both young, nicely dressed black men – interrupting women who were telling horrific stories of abuse and harassment. The organizers told everyone to ignore him. Some didn’t. One woman hit him in the face. Fast forward and she was arrested, which splintered the crowd. With some listening to women and some shouting “let her go” at the cops. Ugh.

The frustration is that given the situation, it is likely that she has firsthand experience as a sexual abuse and again based on the stories we heard, he maybe not have been held accountable. Clearly she shouldn’t have hit the guy but she will likely be held accountable. It is systemically what is wrong with our system.



Gathering the Grandmothers to Protect Water: Led by Jane Fonda, Winona LaDuke and Tara Zhaabowekwe Houska by Ann Treacy
March 16, 2021, 8:39 pm
Filed under: Minnesota

March 15, the Ides of March, I went with a group of Minnesota Women’s Marchers headed up Park Rapids to join Honor the Earth and Giniw for a gathering of grandmothers (and others) to protect the water from Enbridge’s Line 3. It’s a three hour drive from St Paul. It was an opportunity for us to build community and make plans for future Women’s March Minnesota events. It was an opportunity to soak up the beauty of Minnesota, which none of us have done much during the pandemic.

The advance details were a little clandestine because it’s not always safe to protest Line 3 in the area. People have been arrested. Enbridge security is everywhere and on high alert. Enbridge is trying to build the pipeline before they are stopped. Building the pipeline has brought protesters and builders to the area. The builders have formed man camps. Honor the Earth has statics on the increase in crime, especially crimes against women in and around man camps in North Dakota. We were there to protect the water and the women – especially the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women.

You know stuff is going down when you invoke the grandmothers! (In truth, all genders and all ages present but a real focus on the grandmothers and a celebration of being a grandmother!)

We got to the meeting place, created a caravan and moved to a beautiful area on the shores of the Crow River. We were greeted by a pack of wild turkeys crossing the road but we were not detained or hassled. However 20 minutes later, one of the cars in Jane Fonda’s group was stopped leaving from the same spot. They were well supplied with lawyers and were not detained long but they were hassled and stalled.

In the meantime, community was building at the site by the River. There was a prayer given and tobacco shared and returned to the River. Water protector Sharon Day gave a blessing and reminded us that Line 3 was a distraction what we really needed to be doing was looking to the water near where all of us live. We need to give thanks, spend time near that water with an intention that is meaningful to us and think about what the Earth needs. Later Winona LaDuke made a similar point recognizing that the pandemic is a sign that the Earth is fighting the infection of disruption. She spoke about the pandemic as portal to change. It is a time a reckoning – a time for more choices. Jane Fonda built upon Winona’s comments by saying that Winona often said as a community we had a choice of carbohydrates or hydrocarbons and we chose wrong; now it a time to make the right choice. And went on to talk about the dangers of letting a foreign oil company bring the most danger tar sands oil through our country at a time when scientists are telling us we are going through the most existential climate crisis. We have 10 years to cut fossil fuel in half – we must do it for our future. Line 3 is a step in the wrong direction. This is a global crisis that we can stop now.

There was humor – in the ongoing commentary by the giant dancing bear. There were warm drinks and some food. There were red dresses everywhere represented the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women, which always breaks my heart. The double vulnerability of being a young woman in an economically distressed area, being Native and knowing that the rules do not protect you. (National Institute of Justice reports that 84 percent of Native women have experienced violence in their lifetime.) Tara Zhaabowekwe Houska spoke about the man camps, trying to solicit underage women and creating an unsafe environment for women in the community. We could feel an ounce of that malaise when we drove away to men in shiny pickups at most corners of the country highways.

So much happening in what feels like plain sight that we are choosing to ignore – but we ignore at our own peril. We are trading the priceless future of our rivers, our lands, our women for nickels that will be overspent and worthless much sooner than we recognize.

So what can we do?

  • Tell President Biden to #StopLine3 As the ice on the rivers thaw, it’s more important than ever that we contact President Biden and tell him how vital it is that he Stop Line 3 and protect our lands, air and water. President Biden can stop construction immediately.
  • Sign the petition asking President Biden to #StopLine3
  • Donate to Honor the Earth (tax deductible) or to the frontlines.
  • Join a protest of rally  – follow #StopLine3 or Honor the Earth for updates
  • Monitor the construction with Watch the Line MN


Creating a new 2020 Christmas Tree tradition – the ghost tree! by Ann Treacy
December 24, 2020, 4:26 pm
Filed under: St Paul

It snowed up a storm yesterday. It looks like Christmas. I’ve been posting holiday music videos, so it sounds like Christmas. But Christmas is definitely different this year. It’s 2020. The world has shut down due to COVID, which means Lily and Kate will not be coming home for Christmas. It’s heartbreaking but I know they’re safe in Winnipeg, I know they’re together and there are 100 ways we can connect through broadband.

Aine and I decided we’d do something different with the tree. OK, I decided and Aine went along with the idea. I found a picture of what I wanted – a ghost tree! It did make for a fun night watching sitcoms and working on the tree last night. So that alone was worth it.

I started the project two days ago and I track the progress in video because I knew it was going to be a masterpiece. Masterpiece may be an overreach but I have to say I’m pretty happy with how it turned out – especially since I decided that the several variations of instructions I found online, were not for me. One big priority was that I didn’t want anything so heavy it might take down part of the ceiling.

Here’s a little step by step:

  • I got the Christmas balls and string from Target.
  • I had a fun birthday call with a friend while I worked on the first step. I drew a spiral on cardboard and plotted where to poke holes to hang the balls.
  • I went shopping for washers and dowels because I thought they would help. The washers did.
  • Aine and I worked together to measure string and tie up the balls. Each strong being a little longer than the next to create the tree effect.
  • We hung the balls. This became very tangled because one of us was tired. (And perhaps less dedicated.)
  • One of us untangled the balls. But that inspired the rest of the team.
  • We decided that if we hung the tree from the arch in the room that we wouldn’t need a super tall person.
  • We tried many tricks to find a way to keep the carboard level (since had been a box). Eventually we decided to thread the hangers through the cardboard.
  • We found picture hangers to hang on the crown molding, which was a stroke of serious luck


Getting out the vote in Northern MN with Love Vote Rise by Ann Treacy
October 19, 2020, 10:14 pm
Filed under: Minnesota

You know what qualifies has high excitement during a pandemic? A day trip to Duluth to hand out awesome posters to get out the vote!!

So we got the team back together. My dad drove and I worked as we went from St Paul to Duluth and back. It’s the type of trip we might do a dozen times a year outside of a pandemic.

We handed over more than 200 Love Vote Rise posters to some awesome locals who will now take on the tough job of sharing them around town. I think we’ve nearly hooked a connection to get a few of them over to the Iron Range too. And if that doesn’t work, my friend Mary Magnuson transported a bunch of posters from St Paul to Grand Rapids yesterday; we’ll make that work.

It’s the power of the people. The whole Love Vote Rise is a demonstration of the power of the people. It’s an all-volunteer social justice art installation of posters and light shows (think bat signals calling you to use your super power to VOTE!). It’s headed up by artist Leon Wang. (Learn more.)

If you want posters or have a great location for a light show – please let me know!!



Downtown Run Around with Mile in My Shoes – in Wita Tanka Mpls MN by Ann Treacy
August 24, 2020, 12:47 am
Filed under: Minneapolis

Today Monica Nilsson, Danny (her bro) and I did the Downtown Run Around with Mile in My Shoes. Except we went to the woods for our race. This is an annual fundraiser for Mile in My Shoes, an organization that brings folks who have experienced homeless and people exiting incarceration into a running community around the Twin Cities. (They take donations and running members!)

Normally, the race is held downtown Minneapolis but due to COVID, it went virtual. There were more than 500 runners this year; 150 were from outside Minnesota. And by outside I mean outside; there were folks from Uganda, Canada, the UK and several other places I can’t remember.

We figured this was a little chance to share our nature church (as Monica calls it) with the other runners and to our friends at home. We all did a 10K. One of us ran it; the other two wogged (walked/jogged). It was steaming hot but beautiful. Our only disappointment is that we didn’t see any dear, which is not unusual during the lush, hot summer. Next time we do come across the herd – we may try livestreaming again!



Como Zoo and Conservatory reopens after COVID19 closure by Ann Treacy
July 29, 2020, 11:42 pm
Filed under: St Paul

Aine and I visited Como Zoo and Conservatory for opening day today! We (including Lily and Kate while home) have loved Como forever. It’s super affordable. (Suggested donation $2-3 per person.) It’s small and therefore accessible for kids of all ages. Affordable and small have always meant that we could visit for brief times. So never has there been pressure to stay and get our money’s worth. So we have never had a bad time!

We were excited to be back. There are some new rules:

  • First and obviously, you must wear a mask. But the bonus is that it literally masks some of the smells of the zoo. And no one goes to a zoo for the smells.
  • You have to sign up for a timed entrance. There was no rush to get us out – but the entrance is scattered.
  • There is a path to take now. Frankly, this makes life easier. It certainly would have chilled some disagreements with toddlers who always want to go in different directions.
  • Some buildings and paths are closed. There’s clearly an effort to keep people outside and distanced. For better or for worse, the zoo is not huge and you can find the animals whether they are inside or out.
  • Another bonus: the butterfly zone is part of the package. It has been somehow separate in the past. Unfortunately we didn’t see a lot of butterflies in the area.

But with rules come some benefits. There zoo was not very busy. So we could get as close as we could get. For the first time ever, I saw the cougar outside. Turns out the cougar outside is pretty close to the visitors – like scary, exciting close. So that was fun! Also with so few people, we could camp out by the polar bear. The zoo expanded the polar bear area about 10 years ago. They seem happier and today we could soak up that happiness. (Although they looked hot too – but I may be projecting.)

We wondered if the animals noticed the difference of masked (versus naked) faces. Some were aware of us; some weren’t but that’s pretty usual. I was delighted that while they are working on the seal space – that building is open. So we got to see our very favorite puffins. We also timed our journey perfectly to see the orangutan climb to the top of the exhibit space – looking very much like King Kong. The kid near us loved that. (Watching the people at Como Zoo is always half the fun!)

We also spent some time in the inside rain forest space. Watching the underwater activity of turtles and fish is always relaxing. I hope they are able to keep that open through the school year. Whether we have online, on-site or hybrid, I feel like a mini-break to watch the underwater world of Como will help us both center ourselves.

One added note – the Conservatory is open. It has been for a while but even if you don’t go in – check out the lily pad ponds near the front doors of Zoo. Honestly even Monet would have a hard time doing justice to them right now!



What does it take to walk a marathon for your birthday: FAQ by Ann Treacy
June 28, 2020, 8:19 pm
Filed under: Minneapolis, St Paul

The quick answer is that it takes 11 hours and some great friends to walk a birthday marathon! Below are some of the details in a FAQ format:

Why?
I always feel like if you have a summer birthday, you should make the most of it. With social distancing, that meant getting creative. This was a way to see different people while keeping pretty social distant and outdoors.

Who do you want to thank?
Katie Lynch, Monica Nilsson and I walked a marathon on my birthday (June 26)!! I want to thank them so much for humoring my crazy idea. I want to thank my family (special nod to Chef Billy) for help with lunch and dinner! I want to thank Liz Draper with crew (Sarah York and AJ Srubas) and Little Man for playing at a couple of the stops. And I want to thank the friends who joined us along the way!

What’s the best part?
Having no responsibilities except putting one foot in front of the other – for 26 miles. Katie lists it as one of the top 5 days – ever!

Did you plan a route?
Yes. I used a tool called Plan A Route. (You can see the plan online.) It was pretty easy. I only planned for 25 miles because I knew we’d make up the difference running across the street to get water or running back three blocks to get a picture with the Mary Tyler Moore statue. Here are the highlights I planned:

  • 9:30am – start at my house
  • 10:45 – Minnehaha Falls
  • 11:30 – Dunn Bros at Lake Street
  • 1:30 – Sculpture Garden lunch
  • 3:00 – Stone Arch Bridge
  • 5:30 – The Monument
  • 6:30 – Turf Club
  • 8:15 – Midway Express Car Wash Cookout

Did you stick to your route?
No. I had a very urban wilderness plan where we stuck heavily to the River Road. (That’s Mississippi River for the non-local readers.) Then about 11am I freaked out that we were going to be late for lunch and then meeting Liz. So we took the most direct route from the River to the Sculpture Garden, which turned out to be Franklin Avenue.

Franklin Ave is pretty gritty. Monica, who has dedicated her life to the homelessness community, has worked in that area a lot. We walked past the homeless encampment of two years ago, The Wall of Forgotten Natives. Katie had two favorite moments – one was Monica giving us the history of the area for the miles we walked. Ask Katie about the history of Peace House, you’ll be impressed. Monica is a good storyteller! And every third person yelled hello to Monica by name.

Did you really go 26.2 mile?
Even with the detour, we walked into the car wash at 26.11 and then walked the extra four minutes until we got to 26.2! That was our marathon miracle. Monica, who is amazing at math, hit the wall before we did. So Katie and I had to trust our math – substellar plan. But it worked out perfectly!

What was the hardest mile?
I’m going 20-26 on that one. Monica hit the wall at 20. In part because she is the only one of us who has run a marathon – so she knew what was ahead. Also she got blisters. (Tip: can’t say enough about Glide for your feet. Not one blister here!) Katie and I hit the wall about mile 24.

Who joined you?
I was amazed that people joined us along the way. It made the walking so much easier. My dad started with us. He left at one end of the Ford Bridge and we met Mary Lindgren Carter on the other with her friend Tanya. Mary has been a friend since high school and we try to walk sometimes – although she’s an early bird and I’m a nigh owl. Mary and Tanya turned around at Lake Street and we met Denise Cumming who told us a very funny story about taking an online ornithology class at the U of M and unknowingly shouting the F word while unmuted. She dropped off as we got to her block and that left three of us until the Sculpture Garden, where my mom and dad, Kevin Somdahl-Sands and kid and Alyssia met us. We had a quick lunch, nice chat and a chance to sit down and a few pictures. Then the core three headed to downtown.

Kevin met us again downtown near the Mary Tyler Moore statue. We headed to the Stone Arch Bridge where Liz Draper and crew were playing for us. That was Katie’s other highlight. It had been so hot walking across the bridge then to get to the shade and awesome music was such a treat. And Ellie Sherwood met us. (Ellie did the amazing picture of me and Monica last year.) Then traced out steps over the bridge, walked by the place of a former homeless encampment that I thought was one of the most amazing things I had ever seen. Then I think we walked our longest stretch alone until Su Reanny met us on Summit Ave. (Summit Ave for non-locals is polar opposite to Franklin.) Su is a Women’s March buddy – we saw her the next day too doing extraordinary work marshalling a protest at the Governor’s Mansion. Kevin met us again near the Turf Club.

Right at 8pm, we landed at the Car Wash. (My dad and brother own the car wash. Billy often has a start and end of summer car wash cookouts and was kind enough to do the same for my birthday.) And we had Chris Perricelli (Little Man) play a few songs. Chris did a car wash video and interview with me and Heather Baker earlier this year. So I’m trying to think of the new people who joined us – Kevin and his family, my family, including Aine, Heather, Kathi Eilers, Jake and Julie Mortenson. Then as a special treat Daniela Smith met us at the Dubliner after the cookout!

How was the weather?
Amazing!!! We (Katie, Monica, my dad and I) left my house in the drizzling rain. We were worried but hopeful. We decided against umbrellas, which was a good call. Frankly we had near perfect weather all day. A few misty showers in the morning and cloudy all afternoon. Not too hot for too long.

How do you get musicians to play at your marathon or party or picnic or whatever?
You call, ask and pay. Without trying, I’ve been saving money during the COVID shutdown because the “no live music rule” saves me going out the 6 nights a week I used to average. I was super happy to invest a little into musicians. Maybe small outdoor shows are a way to help musicians pay bills, keep in tune and for us to have fun again! And maybe that’s an idea worth spreading.

Did you train?
Yes and no. We didn’t do anything special. (Heck, Katie decided to join us on Thursday!) But all three of us are pretty avid walkers. I probably walk the most with 8-15 miles a day. (Depending how many Zoom calls I can do on the move.) But the other two are runners; I am mostly not a runner.

Would you do it again?
Abso-stinking-lutely!




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