Monday, September 30, 2013

What do those "sell-by" dates on food mean?

Have you ever wondered if it is okay or not to eat food that is older than it's "sell-by" or "best-buy" label?  An article in the Washington Post, "The 'sell-by' dates on your groceries are uselss. Here's why.", explores this topic. It seems many of these labels are largely for use by the retailers, and shouldn't prevent customers from enjoying the food products after their package "sell-by" dates have gone by.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Seagull soaring in the wind

I was at an Ultimate tournament yesterday and couldn't help but notice a couple dozen or so beautiful seagulls that quickly descended upon the field just as the games were ending.  I'm thinking they must have been there to make sure no left over food scrapes went unclaimed.  I have no idea how they knew to check out the polo fields in Maple Plain around 4 pm for a possible food rescue.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Veggies in the sink

It is that time of year when the rewards of gardening finally come through.  Hooray, veggies in the sink, in route the the stomach!.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Great Blue Heron eating Bullhead

Swallowing a small bullhead was no easy task for this Great Blue Heron.  The heron placed the fish back in the water a few times in an effort to regroup and get it down the hatch.  Finally it succeeded.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Busy bee

Even with fall in the air, this bumble bee was still in full pollination mode. Having just pollinated this Zenia it was quickly off to another flower.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Monday, September 23, 2013

Hummingbird Hawk-moth

Hummingbird Hawk-moth and Zenias

We enjoyed a visit to the Seed Savers Exchange yesterday.  This farm is located just a few miles north of Decorah, Iowa.  As a nonprofit organization it grows a vast number of heirloom varieties of vegetables, flowers and apple trees in order to save and exchange their seeds.

I was happy to hear that despite a tough economy they are continuing to grow in their mission of saving and sharing heirloom seeds.  We helped them out just a bit with a purchase of some seed packets.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

"Liberal" or "Conservative"?

I’ve been accused of being a “liberal” more than once, but I think I’m one of the most conservative “liberals” I know. 

Consider the fact that I’ve been married to the same woman for 29 years straight and am a regular church goer; including choir and council member. Never gambled, or even purchased one lousy lottery ticket.  I pay off my credit cards before having to pay interest on them.

I agree with President Eisenhower of the dangers of the vast Military-industrial complex that has developed since he left office in 1961. 

I do my best to conserve the planet, with small acts, such as riding a bike, turning down the thermostat, gardening and drying laundry outside. I hate wasting things, and even ride a bike to reduce my use of fuel. I buy used cars when needed, and even purchased used goods at the thrift store. Reduce, reuse and recycle!

I also believe in the value of nutritional food and exercise, and agree that an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of intervention.

I strongly believe in personal and corporate responsibility.

Quite frankly I’m not sure why I'm often labeled with the proud title of “liberal”… Perhaps I'm identified as such because of the indoctrination I had during my impressionable years from a Liberal Arts college, which that encouraged me to think "outside of the box"?  Maybe it because I like to give liberally of my time to strengthen the community? Or could it be because I like to zig when I'm told to zag?

Seems much of this "liberal" versus "conservative" talk that is polarizing our nation is simply a false dichotomy.  If we actually took time to know one another we might well discover we're all much more alike than we have been lead to believe.  

Saturday, September 21, 2013


This mallard was splashing and cleaning itself in the pond at Bassett Creek Park.

Friday, September 20, 2013


An American Goldfinch perched briefly on a flower growing by the water's edge at Bassett Creek Park.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Flower with dew

While most of its friends had already dropped their petals, this flower was still looking good earlier in the week, showcased with morning dew.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Walking meetings

A Ted Talk speaker, Nilofer Merchant, noted the benefits of taking walking meetings.  In addition to exercise she also notes it is beneficial for "out of the box" thinking.  It is also helpful to reframe problems that might otherwise be held in opposition. Makes a lot of sense doesn't it?

You can view her short presentation, Got a meeting? Take a walk.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Orchestra conductor taking one final bow after free community concert
Generations enjoying the concert together
One final bow?  I joined throngs of people at the Lake Harriet Pavilion to watch our world famous MN Orchestra.  Their beautiful music was only briefly interrupted by 747s passing overhead, on their ways to who knows where.

It was overwhelming to see the level of community support, yet sad knowing they're not the decision makers. Who knows where our orchestra might be in the months and years ahead, with the likely departure of the conductor and key musicians.  Let's hope for a resolution to the lock out.  It would be a shame to see their newly renovated orchestra hall made into a movie theater or perhaps a museum to the wonderful "good old days" of live classical music.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Much needed rain

Much of our region has been in a severe drought.  So, last night's 0.7" of rain was most welcomed.  Our garden cabbage is coming close to harvest time.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Canada Goose fly by

While focusing on a Canada Goose perched on the shoreline another came flying by in close proximity!  

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Gray squirrel

This gray squirrel appeared to be enjoying a morning snack in the tree.  He/she and its friends are also busy storing away black walnuts and acorns for the winter months.  This one didn't appear to be of the Stand Your Ground variety ;-)

Monday, September 9, 2013

A gathering of egrets

It seems the egrets like to gather this time of year in the pond at Bassett Creek Park.  Yesterday I counted 11 Great Egrets assembled an hunting for fish.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Fresh from the garden

Hooray!  Our tomatoes have finally ripened.  Before we know it, winter will be on our doorstep and fresh tomatoes will be a distant, but ever so fond memory.
Fresh tomato

Saturday, September 7, 2013

September is Hunger Action Month

During the month of September people and communities are encouraged to fight hunger, be it by advocacy, fund raising or volunteering.  Even in the world's breadbasket 1 in 10 people are food insecure. That figure is as high at 1 in 6 of our region's children. This means families are missing meals and might have to make the difficult decision as to whether to pay for food or their electric bill, food or their rent, food or their medication.  Hard choices!

Second Harvest Heartland West staff
One way in which people are drawing attention to this issue is to wear orange. Another great way to develop hunger awareness is by taking the SNAP challenge, and living on a food budget of just $4.50 per day.

Locally Bremer Bank is doing a "Double Down Challenge; donating $5 for every hour people volunteer at Second Harvest Heartland's food bank, up to $50,000. Many volunteer shifts are available and can be easily accessed through the volunteer opportunities website.

More information is available from Second Harvest Heartland's website.

PS  An article, Food insecruity, in today's StarTribune notes that at some point during 2012 there were 49 million Americans who didn't know where their next meals would come from.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Watch out for the rabid Stand Your Ground Squirrels

Have you noticed those increasingly common rabid Stand Your Ground (SYG) Squirrels? You know, those crazy squirrels chasing other squirrels in yards filled with acorns.  What gives, you might ask? 
Squirrel hiding from a SYG Squirrel

They are defending their territory under vast oak trees. These trees provide more than enough acorns to last them well beyond the next year, but being highly possessive of the land to which they claim ownership, these SYG squirrels fend off others who even dare to look at their abundant and vast supply of acorns.  Theirs is a scarcity mentality, this despite the fact that most of these SYG squirrels claim allegiance to ancient squirrel scripture that identifies claims of ownership to the creator, and requires generous sharing with those who have little.  These SYG squirrels will literally kill another squirrel who attempts to take even one acorn from their over abundant grounds. 

Know, however, that these SYG squirrels are not selfish and greedy through and through. These territorial squirrels loathe when others from their neighborhood come onto their property, or even eye their acorns from above. Yet they will occasionally host a tea party for others like them, just so long as they are not seen as a threat, like those who aren’t quite so blessed as they believe themselves to be. 

Despite claims of ownership and self made prosperity, these SYG squirrels are living under fruitful trees, which they themselves didn’t plant, and on earth where other squirrels lived for centuries.  The previous stewards of this property would never have dreamed of “owning” something so sacred as the land, trees or even acorns. 

So if you see one of these SYG squirrels chattering with their cheeks full of acorns, warning others to stay away, know that this too shall pass. Every last acorn that they stored will one day either go to other squirrels or return back to the earth as mulch. They too will find themselves a part of the soil that will feed the trees that will some day nourish other squirrels. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Bumble bee in action

This bumble bee seems to reflect the colors of the sunflower pretty well, don't you think?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Monday, September 2, 2013

Sad state of the labor movement in the United States

Seems the labor movement has been getting crushed in this country.  Outsourcing continues to increase while declining wages and benefits for those still fortunate enough to have employment, are on the decline.  Although the Red Wing boot pictured above, size 638 1/2, was made in the USA, some their shoes and boots are now being manufactured in China.

An article in MPR news, Report finds steep drop in MN median income, notes how when adjusted for inflation the state's median income fell by 18 percent between 2000 and 2010.

You can read more about the widening gap between the poor and wealthy in Minnesota and across the this nation from the Crime and Justice website article, Widening economic inequality in Minnesota: Causes, effects and a proposal for estimating its impact in policy making.