Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Creative house painting

I had to stop the car, get out and gawk, and of course snap a picture, after driving by a home the other day.  The home's exterior and garage were colorfully painted with artistic designs.  Someone took their house painting project to heart.  Wonder how many cans of paint they went through in this project?  I wouldn't want to be the one that has to repaint.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Americans with too much stuff

The reason why we in the United States have too much stuff may well be directly related to our search for meaning, support and affirmation from our stuff, instead of from other people. This problem of too much stuff is also fueled by a value system that believes more is better. A great example of the "more is better" mantra is currently being utilized in a massive advertising campaign by ATT. They interview children about why they think more is better..."It's not complicated "More".

An article in the StarTribuneBeating clutter is mind over matter, according to home organizing pro, provides additional information on ways in which we might work to de-clutter our lives.  Hint, it requires starting with a thought provoking question... "What's your vision for the life you want and the home you want?"

Elsewhere in the paper an article "A boost for living small", discusses a growing demand for smaller housing units, which may require an increase in the city of Minneapolis' current allowable housing density.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Combat without declaration of war

The last declaration of war in the United States was in 1941.  Yet, we've been in plenty of major "conflicts" that our presidential leadership has directed.  It is disturbing to think that we don't have checks and balances for such important matters.  Marvin Kalb has written a book on this topic, The Road to War: Presidential Commitments Honored and Betrayed, and has an interview on PBS Newshour; Diminishing checks and balances for U.S. Commanders in Chief considering war.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Dragonfly by the pond

One of my favorite insects is the dragonfly.  I love them not only because they're cool looking and are astounding aviators, but also because they have a great appetite for mosquitos!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Break from the internet

I will be taking a few days off of posting blog entries during this interim period, when we switch internet service providers.  Must say that it is a bit unnerving not to have an internet connection at home, but probably a good break from routine.  A wee bit like camping.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Practicing random acts of music

Yesterday a friend called to let us know about a driveway concert that was soon to take place just down the road from us.  We grabbed a couple of lawn chairs and headed on down.  How fun to be a part of this neighborhood event.  None of the musicians make a living through playing instruments, but all had considerable musicianship and experience on their brass instruments.  What a nice gift to the neighborhood!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Second Harvest Pack-a-thon

Add caption
It was heart warming to see hundreds of people show up to support Second Harvest Heartland's mission, through their financial donations and volunteer efforts today.  Just this morning well over 40 tons of corn was labeled and boxed; made ready for delivery to food shelves across Minnesota and Western Wisconsin.  How cool is it to see Minnesotan's on a beautiful Saturday morning taking time out to help others in need.

Packaging beans

In conversation It was touching to hear  the stories of some who were helping out, who at earlier times in their lives were on the the receiving end.

But by the grace of God go I!

Friday, July 19, 2013

An evening stroll around Lake Harriet

After listening to a bit of live 50's and blues music at the Lake Harriet bandshell, my wife and I took a stroll around the lake.  Despite temperatures well into the 80's, a cool breeze off of the lake made it feel reasonably comfortable.  There were also many people swimming and on the beach, enjoying the benefits of the Minneapolis public parks.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Perhaps we are more similar than we might think?

There was a funny juxtaposition of two large youth groups volunteering at the food bank earlier in the week; one a summer church program (Summer Stretch) and the other a camp serving atheists, agnostics and fee-thinkers (Camp Quest). Yet, if one was to look at these groups of kids it would be hard to discern which was which, without taking a clue from their red or orange t-shirts.

The pastor at our church on Sunday reminded us at human genes were 99.5 - 99.9% alike. So, while we often tend to focus on how were are unlike other groups, for the most part we are indeed quite similar.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Valley of Peace work crew
Home owner (right) and volunteer (left)
Yesterday I had a good experience volunteering with a group of others on a Habitat for Humanity house being build just down the road from our church.  It was also a delight to meet the new, soon to be home owner, who was working alongside of the group.

The new home owner works in the military and is a mother of four children.  I'm sure they will enjoy their new digs when it is done.

The picture at right shows the nailing down of Hurricane cleats.  Ten nails per cleat were nailed into the cleats for each roof rafter.  That should be one secure roof!

Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity will be constructing their 1,000th home this summer!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Shapely leaves

The morning sun accentuated the veins and shapes of these lovely leaves.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Rose garden

The rose garden at Bassett Creek Park was recently in full bloom.  What a wonderful memorial that Elliot Beltzer constructed in honor of his wife, who was a great lover of the park.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Black raspberries!

Nothing much better than seeing and tasting the fruit of one's labor.  These black raspberries are now in season.  Yum.  The only down side is having to confront a massive crop of mosquitoes, who want a taste of me when harvesting the berries.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The power of volunteering

Yesterday while working at Second Harvest Heartland I visited with one of the volunteers.  He was an engineering student from China who was interning with a corporation in town.  He mentioned that volunteering was not a common activity in China.  This reminded me of the great contributions that volunteers have made, and continue to make in American society.  Just this past year at Second Harvest Heartland nearly 100,000 volunteer hours were donated.  Thanks to these volunteer efforts, and to generous food donations, one dollar given to this food bank can go to buy eight dollars worth of food for those experiencing hunger.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Sunset over the lake

A relaxing evening spent on the dock watching the 4th of July fireworks over the lake.

Friday, July 5, 2013

This morning's clouds and sun

Though the sun often finds itself behind the clouds, if we have patience, and wait long enough it is sure to shine. Something tells me it is going to be a bright, sunshiny day.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Chinese Canada Goose Family

It appears that this Canada Goose family is abiding by the "one gosling" policy, so famously implemented by the Chinese government.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Second Harvest Heartland

I took a tour of Second Harvest Heartland's main warehouse in Maplewood yesterday.  WOW, it was simply amazing to see the vast quantities of food, both canned and fresh, on the shelves.  Last year Second Harvest distributed 78 million pounds of food to people who were food insecure.  These are folks who might not know where their next meal is coming from, or who are having to make the difficult decision as to whether to pay for food, or their medication, rent, or electric bill.  

I'm thrilled to be working with volunteers in this organization at their Golden Valley warehouse.  You can learn more about Second Harvest on their website

Monday, July 1, 2013

Fishing in the park

It was nice to discover a couple of boys fishing.  They rode their bikes down to Bassett Creek Park and may have been hoping to catch some of the small pan fish, or perhaps a monster carp.