Feb 07

DJ’s Cleaning Service

I like to promote businesses owned by friends. It gives me special pleasure to recommend DJ’s Cleaning Service, a small business with a lot of heart and no shortage of cleaning agents. Wendy and I were among Jean and Terry’s first residential customers and we have never been disappointed with their fantastic work. How do they manage to get this crazy house so clean in so short a time? I imagine Clark Kent changing into his superman outfit and racing through the house making dust and grime disappear everywhere he goes. They have a new web site at http://djscleaningservice.us. Note the last part “US” … not com. Check it out. It was designed by my nephew.

May 06

“Tabling” at North Country Coop 35th anniversary

There is a small sign in the store. “North Country Coop in continuous operation for 35 years. That’s 200 years in Coop years.” You can say that again. What a remarkable achievement by the Twin Cities oldest food cooperative. Now they number possibly a dozen. North Country Coop, as the day manager explained, is “the mother of all food coops.” This in answer to my question about why NCDF has virtually the same name. Today NCC is not the largest food coop in the metro area and, by some standards, probably not the most successful. But they’re still plugging away and now they are one of only two coops that continues its volunteer program in addition to paid staff. Hampden Park, our coop here in St. Paul, is the other one. All of the other food coops in the metro area, anyway, now are entirely managed by paid staff. That’s not a bad thing but it is a different business model.

 Staffing the NCDF presence Checking Out Music 

Patrick open for business | Checking out | Music

Maybe it could be said about NCC that it is “the little coop that could.” It’s rich traditions has it continuing to serve a highly diverse customer and member base. New Americans shop in the store and volunteer. Clearly they have a very loyal base with the Seward Coop less than a mile away over on Franklin Avenue. Not too many years ago NCC had an opportunity to take a very big step: purchase the building in which the store is located. I am proud to say that NCDF was there when NCC needed a loan to make that purchase possible.

May 05


WE GO OVER TO the Midway YMCA today for about a 30-minute workout on the stationary bicycles. We are facing some people using those machines that have the big arms that look as though they belong on either side of a steam locomotive. As they “run” on these things they look to me like African Gazelles bounding along in slow motion. Very graceful.

African Gazelles

I choose the “personal trainer” option on my stationery bicycle. Wendy selects what she calls is the “Iowa Option.” In other words, it replicates the experience of riding across Iowa without the Mississippi River breaks part. She doesn’t like the “personal trainer” because it reminds her too much of gym class. The best part, at the end, when the machine is convinced she isn’t going to pedal anymore, it flashes “GREAT WORKOUT.” She looks forward to that part asking: “Has a gym teacher ever said anything nice to you at the end of class.” I think about it for a moment. Then say that because I never qualified for the Summer Olympics while I was in junior or senior high school, I could not recall ever hearing any such affirmation from my gym teacher.

However, she is being way too harsh on the “personal trainer” in my stationary bicycle. He (or she) is making very reasonable demands on me. Steady resistance. Heart rate rising to 123. Calaries burned about 315 per hour. Seeing as I’m doing this for 30 minutes I estimate I’ll burn the equivalent calories to one of the two pieces of cinnamon raisin toast I had eaten for breakfast. I’ve ridden 6.5 miles. See? Not so bad. Now I’m finally figuring out where I got the title for this post … “Doom.” It was the feeling I had each time in junior or senior high gym class when, having donned the white shorts and white T shirt, I headed out the gym door into the cold. There I was greeted by the stern visiage of the school’s head football coach who was moonlighting (or rather daylighting) as a physical education teacher. Nope I wasn’t going to qualify for the Olympics … or anything else for that matter.

Mar 05

A remarkably warm day in March in the Midway

PHOTO Title: Coming … soon?

PHOTO Title: Delirious about spring

PHOTO Title: Park?

PHOTO Title: Spring sport

Feb 05

In a bicycle crazy city, taking human-powered vehicles to new heights

IF YOU CLICK on the headline above you will learn more about two people’s fascination with human powered vehicles. In Minnesota it is none too fun to ride to work on two wheels through the muck and the splash and the cold. To say nothing of the danger of not being noticed. This is not the problem for Mary Arneson and Dale Hammerschmidt as they tool along in their brightly colored Velomobiles. They have theree of the cab versions and travel with winter held at least slightly at bay. Not long ago they took their Velomobiles out onto a frozen Lake Calhoun and created such a sensation that one of the local TV stations shot footage of them for their weather forcast. They also got a bit of ink from the Minneapolis Star Tribune when their “Flintstones cars” arrived. To learn more about traveling without aid of gasoline, contact these folks by clicking here.

Feb 05

Tuning in to A Prairie Home Companion on a Sunday mornng in St. Paul, Minnesota

We’re listening to A Prairie Home Companion on Sunday morning because the weather at 5 p.m. on Saturday was too sunny and too warm to be anywhere but on the narrow seat of a mountain bike riding carefully through giant puddles on the bike path in Como Park. Today is still pretty warm — 38 degrees — by Minnesota February standards. But yesterday it was, like, 59 and I swear it was 70 by our south facing back door where I was repairing a crumbling concrete step.

WE’VE BEEN LISTENING to A Prairie Home Companion for a much longer time than we’ve been living in Minnesota. I recall that my sister told us about it one day we were visiting Philadelphia and about to hop onto the then partially finished I-476 (Blue Route) beltway as we drove toward a bleary orange early spring Eastern sunset. She told us about the tall, thin, handsome cowboy who told folksy stories about life in the west (what Minnesota is to people who live in the shadow of Billy Penn’s hat). Thus began a long but intermittant habit of tuning in on Saturday afternoons. Driving from Lewiston up to Spokane. Coming into Missoula from the top of Lolo Pass. Chilling by the pool at our apartment complex in Topeka. A thread tying us to this mysterious, hilarious place called Minnesota populated by humorless Norwegians and Swedes who, suffering the tender mercies of Garrison Keillor, are very funny.

Now we live in St. Paul so close to tiny Exchange Street that it is within the realm of possibility to decide we want see the show in person and be in line for $10 rush tickets 15 minutes later. But there are some disadvantages. We now know things we might wish we did not. Some examples follow: 1) Garrison Keillor is tall but he is not thin and, he would be the first to admit, is not handsome; 2) Sarah Bellum, Sandy Beach, Angio Plasty and Warren Peece do not help to write the show. They’re made up names. Keillor writes the whole thing; 3) Yeah, he’s a pretty smart guy but not quite so smart as we thought. The things he says about Minnesotans … are not made up; 4) It really is as cold here as he says it is.

Feb 05

Minneapolis under warm and sunny skies

PHOTO Title: Yeah … and?

PHOTO Title: 10,001

Aug 04

Photo: Long ways

PHOTO Title: A little off the Interstate but a long ways from home

Jun 04

Photo: Corner Grocer

PHOTO Title: Corner Grocer