Summer cabins

July 28th, 2015 | tags: , ,  |

DSCF5517Vacation allowances in the USA are not as plentiful as in Europe. One weekend a friend leant me her lakeside cabin.

A mini holiday!

The cabins I’d visited in Scandinavia had no running water, no gas, no electricity. We had to stock up on water, candles, and collect firewood when we arrived. Half way between a holiday home and camping, like staying in a shed. A shed on a fabulous location.

Talking to the locals here, many have family cabins, their family will travel from all over the country for gatherings in the cabin. I stayed alone, watched the sun rise and set.

I listened to the birds and completely failed to be bitten by any tics or have any wildlife encounters. No bears emerging from hibernation, no swarms of mosquitos… almost like civilisation in the wilderness. Wilderness? There was good cell phone reception but my Satnav didn’t want to play, it announced that it wouldn’t give me turn information them did that passive-aggressive ‘silent’ treatment thing.

This Minnesota cabin was luxury. A fully equipped kitchen, light switches, flushing indoor toilet. Best of all, a fabulous lake view, the sound of children laughing in the distance and the timelessly peaceful ambiance.

Peace


Smell the potatoes

July 26th, 2015 | tags: , , ,  |

Farmers MarketDriving back from my weekly shop, I took a new route, ignored the Satnav and explored the back ways. Near home I passed a huge outdoor market. The traffic moved slowly, nowhere obvious to park. I parked at home and walked 10mins to the market. A treasure.

According to the signs its the biggest farmers market in the North Midwest. Size matters. I could smell the potatoes and beans. Everything liked good. From now on I’ll be visiting here for all my grocery needs.

Store holder vans reverse up to covered, raised, walkways. Their stock remains in the van behind them while they arrange a display of goods on the table in front.

At the western side the market changes nature as local artists display their wares, pottery, carving, stonework, garden ornaments made from rusting metal. A huge freeway sign overlooks the whole event. City life.
Farmers Market


Suspicions

July 25th, 2015 | tags:  |

I’m pretty sure I’m not cheating on anyone, but there’s always room for doubt, so I used an online service to check

My spam quotient has quadrupled since I checked up on myself

Being paranoid is a vicious cycle


Grown up

July 16th, 2015 | tags: , ,  |

IroningNow that I’m a real grown up I have to look like I know what I’m doing, look like I’m capable, at work. Theoretically I could pay someone to take my nice shirts away and iron them into fancy-flatness for me. But, um, I’d feel guilty doing that and it would take time to arrange.

There’s something very sobering about cleaning my own apartment and ironing my own shirts. It feels like I should do it, to keep my feet on the ground and all things ‘looking after yourself’ in ‘perspective. The only thing I don’t understand is why I have to iron 10 shirts every 7 days. Something is clearly going wrong here. My socks are not vanishing, I don’t wear 2 outfits a day, how come my pile of ironing breeds…..

Nice shirts Wendy? Hell yeah!

I love a good crisp shirt with cufflinks in the morning!


Non refundable deposit

July 14th, 2015 | tags: ,  |

Oh dear.

Apparently, today,  I’ve put a non refundable cash deposit down on a double kennel in British Columbia  and Chuck wants to know if I’ll pay the outstanding balance. What to do…
non refunable deposit


No bins in the cubicles

June 28th, 2015 | tags: ,  |

sanitary system instrictionsIs the sanitary towel disposal system so complex that women are unable to understand what’s expected of them? I don’t think so. Are women using the sanitary towel disposal system as it should be used? No. There’s a significant deviation from the behaviours designed into the system. I know what that is because I’ve seen the angry post-it notes on the inside of the toilet cubicles, describing of the non conformities in graphic ways, with angry words. Then a less emotive sign appeared on the inside of the cubical doors. The sign instructs users how to use the sanitary disposal system, but given knowledge of the system is not the problem this sign will have minimum, if any, impact.

What’s the problem?

A woman has to remove the sanitary towel from her pants before she can pull up her pants.

To pull up her pants she has to put the sanitary towel down (in the flowery paper bag) because pant pulling up requires two hands. The two most obvious places are on the floor or the toilet roll dispenser.

After pulling up my pants I flush the toilet, this is a strong habit ingrained over half a century of using western style toilet.

I suspect this is the break point, because the floor and the toilet roll holder are not in line of sight as a reminder of the package. It’s easy to turn and leave the room without remembering to pick up the frou frou package. picking up a package to carry into the bin under the hand dryer is not part of a normal toilet behaviour. People don’t do it anywhere else, so it’s not habit and there’s no in-situ reminder.

Now there’s a sign on the door, this will work temporarily, but then they will get used to the sign and cease to notice it… I think it’s time for me to talk to the facilities manager and request bins in the cubicles. A more usable system.

 


Forgetting to remember

June 27th, 2015 | tags: , , , , , , ,  |

City HallTo enrol for automatic payment of Wendy loft property taxes, I had to find the right website, print a form, find a pen to write on it, find an envelope to put it in, find a stamp to put on the envelope, then it get it to a snail mail address at the Gotham city style country treasury office

They send an annual invoice with a 2 date payment schedule. The first instalment is due 6 months after the invoice

I forgot to remember to pay my first instalment

The county has a reminder system, but you need to know that you have to sign-up for the reminders. I didn’t sign-up, I assumed I would be reminded

They’re not making it easy for me to give them money on their schedule


Neat endings

June 22nd, 2015 | tags: ,  |

sunset in local-wine glassWhat makes you think that anyone would be interested in what you have to say?”

The evening had dragged on, he had killed all my attempts to make light hearted banter or explore his values. Hard work. Passive-aggressive people are tiresome. With this line he ended what remained of something I’d previously believed was a friendship of equals. Silently, I gathered my jacket, bag, stood up, took a long draw of all the wine remaining in my glass and left.

No need to trouble him with the uninteresting niceties of saying the obvious, that I was leaving.


I accidentally drank 3 bottles of wine (at work before 10am)

June 20th, 2015 | tags: ,  |

Don't drink the wine in the storeThe office door slowly opened, Tina’s face peered into the room she glanced around until her bloodshot eyes met mine and her silent finger drew me into the corridor. I made my excuses, slipping from the hot office to the cool corridor. Tina’s words were fast, agitated and broken by sniffles. I caught the main gist quickly

Brenda’s unconscious in the toilets

Oh my goodness, Have you called an ambulance, what’s happened? As we stride out towards the toilets

No, she wouldn’t want us to call an ambulance. I’m confused, this seems odd to choose not to call an ambulance on request from a currently unconscious person who isn’t a doctor

She can argue with us when, IF, she regains consciousness. Let’s call an ambulance. As we walk briskly Tina seems to be calming down. Maybe it’s my clarity of belief about what to do

She’s an alcoholic, there are 3 empty bottles of wine by her, she’ll probably recover and be really angry with us. Now I begin to understand. Alcoholism has destroyed people I know, suicides, broken families, debt. An alcoholic might not even admit they have an addiction and hiding the symptoms is something they’re extremely good at doing. I’m  angry and more determined to get medical intervention from professionals

Are we able to know that she’s unconscious just because of the alcohol, are we sure she hasn’t had a heart attack or brain haemorrhage? We’re not doctors, we can’t know, she might die for all we know I’ve already  dialled 999 while talking. Tina clearly can’t break a promise to a friend. Tina stopped crying, we walk into the women toilets.

Brenda is on the floor wedged against the door, I take advice from the paramedic. Angela is pacing the toilets, tears streaming down her face, her crying is more like screaming. I want to slap her. I suppress the urge and hug her. Angela and Tina have been trying to sort this out alone for several hours. Trying to talk an alcoholic down to get help, trying to use what they think is a mutual friendship. While we wait for the ambulance Angela and Tina pour out their stories of Benda’s long history of alcoholism. So much pain and they’ve both taken ownership of it, they’re both seemingly paralyzed by their friendship with Brenda and what looks to me like overt Machiavellian manipulation of that privilege by Brenda.

The paramedics arrive and quickly assess the situation, taking Brenda away. I explain to Tina and Angela that I’ll take full responsibility for the decision to call the ambulance, they should point Brenda to me when she comes back. Then I had to deal with my own anger. I hate alcoholism. I have my own addiction (smoking), I have some empathy with addiction but I can’t deal with alcoholism. For me it dehumanisers the addict, they cease to be a person, they become a manipulative being who’s sole aim is to feed their habit and they trample on so many good hearts along the way.


The other side

May 27th, 2015 | tags: , , ,  |

Wendy Will it take about an hour to drive to Duluth?

3Sisters landlady: Depends if you go on our side or the other side

Wendy: the other side?

3Sisters landlady: You can drive in Wisconsin, or the other side  

Wendy: oh, Wisconsin, it’s so pretty here 

And I did, because it was…


SatNav desertion

May 25th, 2015 | tags: , , , , ,  |

SR 70 WISt Paul’s, Minneapolis, Duluth, the bigger cities of Minnesota, appear deserted during the spring weekends.

This Memorial holiday weekend I decided to drive ‘Up North’, a local spring tradition, in search of the populous. The Interstate out of Minneapolis was full of pick-up trucks loaded with, or trailing, ATV’s (All Terrain Vehicles). The smaller, State Routes, had signs for ATC crossings with mud tracks leading to and from them.

I left Minneapolis after work, with a B&B booked about 2.5 hour’s drive away, according to the land lady and my SatNav. I should get there before sundown. Traffic, and having to slow down to avoid hitting the deer who jump out from the forest to wander across the road meant the journey took longer than planned.  I learned that many ‘Roads’ in the wilds, of Minnesota and Wisconsin, are not ‘paved’, ‘tarmaced’. They’re mud and gravelled. They look like roads on the SatNav, but really they’re ‘tracks’. I guess keeping them in decent condition isn’t worth the expense for the local city. Those ATVs are useful.

As darkness fell my SatNav announced that it would no longer give turn by turn guidance.

What?!

It bailed on me, in the dark.

I have no map of the wilds of Wisconsin.  I panic’d, pulled over into a soft verge and reached for my cell phone. No reception. Bugger.

ThreeSisters B&BI grabbed my Surface 1. It still showed the Bing-delivered route directions that I’d checked before leaving. Phew. I worked out where I was, memorised the distances, road names and turns then drove on.

A pleasant surprise to find my pre-SatNav skill of memorising maps and directions was still in good working order. I pulled up at the Three Sisters B&B just before the tavern opposite, Gliders, stopped serving it’s hunger quenching pizza. Just in the nick of time. Pizza to the sounds of ABBA and a host of frisky frogs. Cheerfully surreal.

The landlady joined me for Pizza and told stories of her life, those of her 2 husbands & 4 children. Awesome, such a friendly and open hearted place.


rough surface

May 14th, 2015 | tags: , , , , ,  |

Since September 2013 I’ve been using a surface pro 1

4 frowns (NO! It’s just wrong) :( :( :( :(  Rating scale explained

In 20yrs of buying computers, this computer ranks as my single worst computer purchase. Expensive and ‘unfinished’.  The Microsoft surface range is already on Version3 and the company no longer manufactures compatible power-cables – that fail within 8 months anyway.  My current power cable has just died. This means I either have to get a new PC or try another power cable made by someone other than Microsoft. The last non-Microsoft produced power cable I tried lasted all of 2 months.

Furious, I was

When I first got the thing the software was all buggy, it took nearly a year of updates to get that working smoothly.

During skype-calls with mum, progressively we encountered problems where she could hear me, I couldn’t hear here her. Rebooting my surface solved the problem. Sigh.

The top volume has always been a bit too quiet for listening to music or watching films. I’ve been using a jambox to get a better volume but the sound keeps cutting-out, even when the Jambox is physically connected to the surface. It gives the impression that the hardware was too poor quality for sound production.

What to do now?

Microsoft will give me (up to) $150 trade-in on my current surface if I can take the risk that they’ve actually acted to change all the problems with the surface 1.  I’ll get a year’s free subscription to office 365 and free upgrade to windows 10 when it’s released.  Windows upgrades are not something that I enjoy spending half my weekend doing… I’m not sure $150 will cover the inconvenience because I have to mail them my old surface for them to assess if I’m entitled.  That means…

  • finding packaging, wrapping it, taking it to the post office, paying for the mailing.
  • Worst of all, that means being without a personal computer for how long? Days? Weeks?
  • I don’t get the advantage of checking the contents of my old computer against the contents of my new one

Oddly, there is still a risk I might buy a surface pro 3. I call this risk ‘optimism’ and a belief that Microsoft learns quickly from it’s mistakes..

Really, I don’t want a sensible plan, I want a new computer NOW!


Spring Garden Lutheran church

May 12th, 2015 | tags: , , ,  |

Spring Garden Lutheran churchWhile wandering around MN, I stopped at the Spring Garden Lutheran Church, founded in 1858. It’s white wooden construction, wrought iron railings, and graveyard intrigued me.

The church itself was locked. Sadly, passing travelers like myself do not feel welcomed.

I wandered through the graveyard and admired the many Scandinavian family names, the old (1870’s) gravestones and the lush grass that gave the church it’s name.
gravestone

graves, trees and sky


calling a spade a spade

May 10th, 2015 | tags: , , ,  |

Northfield HotelNorthfield, MN.  a city about 40 miles south west of Minneapolis, has maintained much of it’s downtown (1870’s) brick architecture and attracts day tripping tourists from nearby big cities. Like me from Minneapolis.

It’s named after Mr. North who decided to found the town there when the Dakota tribe ‘ceded’ the lands in 1855.  There seems to be a particularly descriptive tone to city naming in MN.  I suspect you can visualize some of the characteristics of these cities:

  • Plain View
  • Still Water
  • Lake city

Feel’s very “Yorkshire” to me. Both influenced by the settling of people from Nordic regions.  The local college is called St. Olaf’s. There are many other names that point directly to their Nordic heritage and Danish, Finnish, Swedish and Norwegian flags hang outside the main, division Street, hotel.

Police CarDespite some impressive flour-milling-related achievements the town is best known for a bank robbery by the James-Younger gang, where 2 locals and 2 gang members were killed. The town re-enacts the robbery annually (Sept 7th) to celebrate the courage of the local townspeople.

Thinking about the law, I was fascinated by the opportunity for a close-up look at the city’s police vehicles, major protection for hitting things, cage barriers for the people in the back…

 


Over dramatic

May 4th, 2015 | tags: , , ,  |

Freak hailstormOne minute everything is sunshine and light, the local dogs on the balcony are checking me out

Within the hour there are swirling winds, rain and dramatic hail.  Beating the coating off my hare and giving my guests cause to whip out their iPhones.

Wisely the guests hold on to their beers to prove my camera isn’t set on monochrome…

 


Low flying sofas

May 3rd, 2015 | tags: , ,  |

SpringSpring sunshine brings out the flocks of low flying sofas. Bald Eagles, fine arctic white feathers around their shiny white bald crowns and well groomed sofas freshly woken from winter hibernation

Slightly reminiscent of the UK summer flock to Matlock on lighter, faster, bikes


More ceilings

April 30th, 2015 | tags: , ,  |

ceiling decorationAs the sun comes out and the youngsters start getting frisky in public places, I find myself receding into the shadier places and looking at the ceilings. I like ceilings, they keep me warm, dry, entertained, protected from sunburn – Happy. This is only my second ceiling post, but there will undoubtedly be more, I felt a fetish coming on…

In this old  (1880s?) brick building the bare bricks support and ornate plasterwork(?) ceiling with directional lighting cunningly worked into the symmetrical ceiling pattern.

Black ductingBelow this modern, uncovered, wooden ceiling the ominous black ducting contrasts with the white glass shades. The fans were silent and motionless. Are they decorative of does it really get that hot, even with big-ass ducting to help out?


Hey! look at ME!

April 27th, 2015 | tags:  |

Flourescent Orange brideThe bride wore fluorescent orange

The groom was engrossed in his cell phone. Their clothes don’t fit. Her dress is too small, his suit trousers too long and jacket shoulders too wide.

I wore sunglasses. My clothes don’t fit, I’ve been steadily loosing weight for a couple of years now.

April in Minnesota is beautiful, wedding season is in full swing here, it’s a youthful, colourful affair. This wedding party acted out poses from “Charles Angels” very cute. Smiles all around. April may have just become my favourite month

Wedding grouphoto


Antiques theme park

April 25th, 2015 | tags: , , ,  |

You know those permanent, indoor, antiques markets dotted around English cities and towns? They have them in the USA. The riverside city of Stillwater is full of them. It looks like whole families make day trips to Stillwater to browse through the many antiques markets. I thoroughly enjoyed looking at the archaeology of different decades. The wood burners and red glassware were particularly beautiful.

Red glassware

Red glassware set and stained glass window

Woodburner

Wood burner, fender, vases and oil lamps

Antiques

Stuff on shelves

Antiques

Furniture and paintings

The British version of antiques roadshow is broadcast on the local Public (free) TV


Mind the gap

April 19th, 2015 | tags: ,  |

My furniture is shrinking

Starved of the natural moisture provided in the old, damp, Wendy House of the UK

It’s showing the strain as gaps appear. Oh Dear

shinking wood

Cupboard door no longer fits

shrinking wood

Seams in cupboard panels no longer meet

shrinking wood

Panels in my settle no longer reach their supporting borders

.


Artistic temperaments

April 18th, 2015 | tags: , , , , ,  |

The Minnesota Orchestra went on strike for 15 months, the nation’s longest-running contract dispute for a concert orchestra. Orchestra’s across the country are suffering similar challenges.  They’ve resolved the dispute with the orchestra taking another pay cut. They’re talented, dedicate professionals and their music should be accessible, but they’ve got to earn a wage that reflects their skill and societal value. If the orchestra is making a loss they need something to help raise awareness of their value. I’m now donating, but money isn’t always the answer,  I wonder what the management are doing to change the way they engage with potential audiences?  I’ll be popping along to see performance on May day. Hooray!

They’re based in a fantastic venue within walking distance of my home. I’m loving the advantages of city living, which I couldn’t really afford in southern, central, England.


too froufrou for me

April 14th, 2015 | tags: ,  |

Sanitary 'bags'Paper bags, Laura Ashley style print, in the women’s ‘restroom’ (UK toilet) cubicles. No bins in the cubicles.

“Serviettes” are removed and placed in these bags. For me it’s a process that leaves me feeling like lady Macbeth. Bloody handed. Not discreet at all. Especially when I have to carry the blood stained paper bag into the public wash area to reach the bin.

Not something I’ve had to do in the UK in the last 7 years living there, in shop toilets, in workplace toilets, in train station toilets, in friends homes. Nowhere.

I’m changing my sanitary protection to use try out a menstrual cup  process I used last time I lived here.  They lasted a whole day, meaning that I could remove and insert them in the comfort of my own bathroom, accompanied by a bath.

With BUBBLES! Hooray!

Not a froufrou rose in sight.


Beethoven in the baroque basilica

April 13th, 2015 | tags: , , , , ,  |
St. Mary's Basilica

St Mary’s Basilica

St. Mary's BasilicaSt. Mary’s Basilica  (1914)  is less than a mile from my home, I can see it’s imposing dome from my windows. It was the first ‘Basilica’ in the USA. Designed by a French architect, Emmanuel Louis Masqueray, trained in Paris, the Minneapolis-opedia says:

The pro-cathedral’s architecture reflected Masqueray’s training at the prestigious Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. The pro-cathedral was designed in the style of late Renaissance and Baroque churches in France and Italy. Masqueray wanted the pro-cathedral to create a serene impression through perfect proportions, good lighting, and sincere composition. The focus of his design was the wide nave, or main worship space. At the time, it was said to be the widest nave in the world.

The lower windows are colourfully decorated with characters from the old testament. It’s not a church style I’m familiar with. I did recognise the fluer de l’isle built into the decoration, recognise the French connection.

I lit a candle for Dad

St. Mary's Basilica

Detail of glass window

I wandered in at 2.05pm on a Saturday afternoon to find a fantastic concert in progress. Minnesota Sinfonia performing Beethoven’s piano concerto #4 in g major, opus 58. Beautiful music filling this vast place. The audience were all shapes, sizes and colours. Some people looked homeless, shabby and sleeping in the pews. Other’s looked wealthy, dressed-up for a special event. Children in smart outfits, families that looked like tourists

The event was free

Because it was free, it gifted a spontaneous happiness, I donated more than I would have paid for a ticket. Free, quality, live music produced by experts in a building built by experts, built for the people, this is the sort of ‘humanity’ that inspires

Wonderful


Hung

April 11th, 2015 | tags:  |

Oil copies of Rembrandt portraitsBen BauerAll my key art pieces  are hung.  They’re delivering mood changing and enhancing views from carefully chosen apartment walls.

Phillipo Lippi’s “Madonna” reminds me to wash my hands as I move from the bathroom into my bedroom. She prays for me at night and watches over me sleeping.

A couple of Ben Bauer views of the Minnesota landscape bring calm and countryside from the distance into the main living space.

Rob Piercey’s Snowdonia landscape and boats bobbing in Portmadoc harbour (Cei Ballast) show both peaceful and expansive opportunities for a fresh day. They greet me when I open my eyes each morning.

The 16th century maps in the living space show where I’ve been. They map my history with places.

A couple of (oil copies of) Rembrandt portraits keep an eye on everyone who enters my apartment and guest room. The evening light runs across them highlighting different brush strokes and their eagerness to look into my world.

Still unhung are the 20 Arthur Rackham and Edmund Dulac prints. I’m waiting to find out where and how they can move the apartment’s “feel” in the best direction. For now, they decorate the bedroom floor and move around the apartment in pairs and triads, testing the local light and mood like lost souls.

DSCF4970


Getting the greeting right

April 10th, 2015 | tags:  |

Wendy:HIYA!

American #1: Living the dream!

 

Wendy: HiYa!

American #2: Rockin’

 

Wendy: hi ya

American #3: Doin’ fine

 

Wendy: Hey!

American #4:  (Nods head and smiles)

 

I’m still working on it….


Honeywell hill

April 7th, 2015 | tags: , , , ,  |

Honeywell HillI took Holly’s advice and went in search of the locally named ‘Honeywell hill’. It was easy to find because Minneapolis is relatively flat. People had posted pictures of views from the hill on Flickr, which helped me to find it.

At the bottom of the hill is an old, neglected looking, Honeywell building with a brick tower announcing it’s name. I followed the tower, then drove into the cemetery next door.

Apparently people come here to court. In the quiet company of the dead they watch the city’s profile, cuddle and kiss.


Gotham city (hall)

April 5th, 2015 | tags: , , , ,  |

City HallMy brother renamed Minneapolis to Gotham city, as lightening danced across the black cloud encased sky. Gotham city. The city hall, with mayor, fire department, courts, CSI, District Attorneys and other city administration would have existed when Batman first appeared on the dark streets of Gotham.

 

The sunshine of day leaves a taste of the electric night. Surreal juxtaposition of city hall from last millennium and a skyscraper thrusting upward with no ‘twiddly- bits’ to distract from it’s line of action.

 

City HallCity hall has been beautifully maintained, restored. It’s a living museum that still works for it’s original purpose. The civil rights office is empty today. Letter boxes on the doors half frosted with glass to borrow light onto this big building, giving us a shadowy glimpse of what might be going on behind those doors. The lady Major’s name is painted on the glass of her door ‘Betsy Hodges’. I like her already.

 

The long corridors are lined in white marble and pews provide rest places for those who have to wait. I saw no one waiting, the city staff must be doing something right! City Hall

 

Stained glass lights the marble coated entrance hall. Statues, plaques, column all attest to it’s significance. I’ll definitely be visiting again to find out what happens behind the court doors, where my camera cannot go.

 

Quite right to leave the people in  courts to focus on the serious business of legal things.City Hall foyed


street walking

March 30th, 2015 | tags: , , , , ,  |
Minneapolis

Deco sky scraper reflected in modern glass sky scraper

Minneapolis

Forshay tower (circa 1927) seen from nearby street level

but where are the people? Where are the shops?  It looks deserted and there’s nowhere that looks like a place I’d want to stop and shop

Mum was a bit baffled by a drive through the heart of downtown Minneapolis, in December.

Downtown shoppers don’t walk on the streets, sidewalks. It’s too goddam cold! Why have a shop-front onto the street if there are no people to be lured into your store by that view? There are shop fronts. I’ve learned that you have to read the shop fronts in a different way. I’m not sure what I’ve learned, but I’ve learned something because I see more than mum.

Wandering, on foot, downtown in the warmer, above-freezing, temperatures of the Spring revealed some beautiful views of the city. Still no people on the streets.

The walk from my apartment to downtown passes a host of sex bars/shops, I counted 6 on one route…A depressing story that there is demand for this and women find it’s the best way available for them to earn a living. I wonder if mum noticed these places?

This area was clearly a seedy part of town, still is. The seeds of change are showing as restaurants, hairdressers, and other ‘local’ services start to emerge between the sex bars. Anyone for chargrilled Pizza?

Dreamgirls bar on the walk downtown from home

Dreamgirls bar on the walk downtown from home

Minneapolis

Augies topless bar/nightclub seen on the walk downtown from home

Minneapolis

SexWorld, 24hrs, seen on the walk downtown from home

 


the scary balcony

March 28th, 2015 | tags: , , , ,  |

Shadows from evening sunshineDog park in distanceExchanging the Wendy House staircase of doom for the Wendy Loft scary balcony, is a novelty. As the weather warms I’m sending myself as a scouting party onto the balcony to discover it’s virtues:

To the east in the morning an active dog park & neighbours’ BBQ’d balconies of similar scariest quotients

To the North in the evening dramatic shadow cast through the legs of a local state route ramp

 

The grass is yellow from months of snow-covered sun starvation. Now we’re in a ‘drought’. It hasn’t rained since I moved here in November. The local’s tell me the snowfall has been very light. It seems to come 3-6 inches in a couple of hours, but only for a couple of hours and not frequently. During the winter months snow falls and stays, gradually accumulating then spring temperatures above freezing melt it away.


testing, testing, 1, 2…

March 25th, 2015 | tags: ,  |

You know how much I LOVE driving. I bought myself that road trip, Route 66, in a red convertible as a 50th birthday present.

State law requires people to secure a local driving licence within 60 days of arriving. I booked myself a local driving exam, how long is the wait-time? First ‘behind-the-wheel’ test on February 9th. Online knowledge test, walk right in anytime. I passed the online  test in December without any studying.

The results of the ‘behind-the-wheel’ test. Were a little more surprising.

How do you think you did?” asked the examiner when we pulled up at the end of the test.

I could have stopped nearer to the curb, only just got within the 12″ and I had to make a significant adjustment when reversing around the 90° corner, other than that, I’m not aware of what I did badly

“Placement in the road, moving between lanes, you’ve failed, you need to practice moving between lanes and choosing the right lane to be in. Minimum of 1 week of practice before your next test

FAILED?!  “but am I allowed to keep driving here without a local license, there’s a 2 month wait list for another test?”

“It’s up to the discretion of the police officer

I weighed up the risks. I’ve never been in a car accident and I’ve driven in the USA for over 8 years in total. The reason that police officer will be talking to me is because of some other idiot, so I’ll probably get their discretion. Especially given the advantage of my English accent and a little humility and respect thrown into the mix. These people carry guns, that lures my humility and respect front to the fore.

Lexus. CarA perfect reverse parallel park, a perfect reverse into a tight 90° turn (pseudo parking space) showed my ‘handling skills’ were good. I realised that the mock road system I’d been driving on was supposed to all be dual carriageway. The lanes weren’t marked. I’d driven as-if it was an ordinary single lane in each direction. That meant I was never in the right lane and never indicating to move between lanes. Doh! No wonder I failed.

I didn’t argue with the instructor about the fidelity of the road markings, or ask to do the test again – there and then-  because I hadn’t heard the examiner tell me this feature of the road set up at the start. Examiners probably have to deal with lots of weird people being obnoxious when they’re failed. Plus:

  • I don’t like being uppity
  • Retest should be a doddle.
  • I don’t get charged extra for a retest – flat fee of $25 – Bargain

Though, the embarrassment of telling everyone I’d failed my test was pretty high.  Because I knew the driving course and why I’d failed, and I can drive, the result of the 2nd test, March 23rd, wasn’t a surprise

‘massive improvement. Passed’

My main shortcoming was not looking over my shoulder enough before changing lanes. But I was the only car o the circuit! It’s so easy to forget that you are pretending to be on a real road with real traffic when the is no traffic, NONE at all. I know there’s nothing behind me. Looking in the mirror is habit, looking over my should is to check for traffic,  I do it a lot when changing lanes on real roads. I didn’t’ say anything. I was happy to have passed.

Now, when I go on my holiday to France this September I can choose to take either my British or American driving license… choices…I’ve never driven a stick-shift on that side of the road…