summertime in the FC

cornfield-background

i like to say i grew up in the faux-country. we were only a hop skip and a jump from town, and there were many houses across the street that had their half acre or acre parcels, none of which compared to the 80 acres our house stood on. we had the old, broken down farmhouse. a big white barn, a white 2-story garage, a pumphouse, the field, the pasture, the acres of lawn to mow (for years, my dad had an old farmall that would cut mowing time drastically). 

we didn’t plant. we didn’t own animals. we barely kept a garden. but we did grow pine trees. we rented out the fields to farmers who would use it. family or renters pastured their sheep, horses, cows in the pasture. we weren’t sheltered from country life, but we weren’t immersed in it. for that, we would have to drive the mile and a half down the road to my aunt and uncle’s farm.

we grew pines, and we had a lot of space to run around during the summertime. giant oaks dotted the yard. every spring, the crabapple tree outside the kitchen window would burst into pink blooms. we wandered through the pasture to the creek, or out to the edge of the field, wondering if we really WOULD get lost in the cornfield. (what a crock; follow the rows and you’ll come out eventually.)

the end of the day during summertime was the worst. when bedtime rolled around, it was still a little light out. the crank-out windows were wide open in the bedroom, and we could hear the yells and screams of the neighbor kids – all of whom were older – filtering into the bedroom while we lay there, wondering why god is so cruel as to create bedtimes during the summer months.

of course i could never sleep right away and instead propped myself up at the window overlooking the driveway, pumphouse, and pasture. the fireflies lit up at the edge of the pasture while the semis rolled over the rumble strips on the freeway a quarter mile away, the bass line to the neighbors’ playful murmur and crickets’ evening song. 

the guns amendment

i’ve been waiting so long to write this post, and now that orlando has happened, i’m not even sure if i do want to write it. but here it goes. 

i don’t want to take guns away. hunters? awesome. recreational gun enthusiasts? sure thing. conceal and carry? eh…not my cup of tea, but i guess whatever floats your boat.

but assault rifles? not necessary to shoot down that deer. background checks? ABSOLUTELY. if i can’t rent an apartment without one, why shouldn’t a gun owner have to go through one? why has this not been in place since databases were starting to be kept on criminals. but, i can see where that poses the problem: what if joe schmo down the street wants to buy a gun from his neighbor? sticky situations. and now, with the best 3D printers under 500 you can basically 3D print a gun.

but here’s the 2nd amendment:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

i think a lot of people kind of ignore that first part, “a well regulated militia.” 

i was talking to my dad about this, and he was actually going to write his congressperson about this. my dad is a conservative republican gun-owning constitutionalist. he votes for presidents based on who they might pick for the supreme court, who in turn decided constitutionality of cases.

his solution: why not take that first part of the amendment and make it literal? make community militias mandatory. you want a gun? put it in your local militia. you want to use it? go pick it up, use it, bring it back. you don’t bring it back? giant fine. 3 strikes, you go to jail. do not pass go; no get out of jail free card.

sure, this would take time for it to start to work really well; there are a lot of un-tracked guns out there, and some people really wouldn’t want to take part. but over time, any new gun would become a part of the local militia. 

i like it. it makes sense. it would keep track of guns. it would hold owners responsible. and the best part? it would really hold fast and true to the second amendment. i think our founding fathers would approve.

stuff again

i’ve been at my new job for a month, and i’ve already lost my ID card. *sigh*

i’m already planning on baking this weekend. in addition to going to the dentist (bleah) and the pizza farm (yay!). i’m also hoping there is an opportunity for a fire (and a smore!) and possibly a nice, long run. and here’s hoping there’s a house showing in there as well. that really has not been going well. 

we’ve had one showing since the house went on the market a month ago. the realtor keeps sending us online view and results like that, but i think i really want to know what she’s doing to promote the house. i mean, i can keep on commuting, i guess, but i’d rather be up here and not drive all the time. zillow has the top number of views in the area, and i’ve claimed the house and put some more info on it. are we going to have an open house? who knows. is she advertising it on facebook? (or St cloud realtor did that for our other house.) not sure. so far…not too impressed with the realtor. i’m not sure if she just doens’t care because we’re not rochester proper or what. (that wouldn’t surprise me.)

what i miss

when i took this job, i knew that i would be leaving something i really would miss. i was leaving a job i truly enjoyed, people i really enjoyed working with, and a place i could probably have worked at for a long time. that pesky sense of place though.

so here’s what i know i miss:

  1. my coworkers. aahh i miss how irreverent we were and how the banter could just happen without worrying if we were going to offend anyone. boo. for an inkling of how we worked together, a common saying was “yes, i’m 12.”
  2. knowing everyone. it takes a long time for me to feel comfortable enough and get to know everyone at a workplace. i just keep telling myself, “yes, i’ll get there. just give me time. i’ll get to know everyone.”
  3. the coffee. we had coffee every morning. brewed a pot, poured in half a cup of creamer, and called it good. i need to talk with the foundation director and see if she wants to start doing that (she’s the closest permanent employee who likes coffee.)
  4. knowing what i’m doing. ok, granted, this job was a MUCH easier transition than any of my other jobs. it is almost the same job in the same kind of institution. it was a smooth transition. but there are little differences and processes that are different that make me do a double take.
  5. my coworkers. can i say this again? 🙁
  6. baked goods! i have yet to bring in baked goods for the few people near me, but i hope they go over well.

ok, i’ve got to stop writing this list or else i’m going to get depressed.

wait for it

lots of driving = lots of time. normally i just turn on the radio and listen to mpr or some pop song while i drive to work, but on the weekends i’ve got 3 hours of driving time that could be filled by…

podcasts? yes. audiobooks? yes. mostly audiobooks. i’m multitasking! kind of.

reading a book book and listening to an audiobook are completely different experiences. a book book holds your attention undivided. a book book will let you zoom over words as fast as your brain processes them. a book book will let you reread a sentence over and over without having to fiddle with controls.

an audiobook, unless you’re sitting in your living room, raptly staring at your playing device, does not have your undivided attention. while i’m driving, i listen, then i’m worried about that guy coming up awfully quick on my bumper. then i’m listening, and then i’m seeing some weirdo trying to merge in a 75-mph lane at 35 mph and trying to move over. i’m listening, then i’ve got to figure out how to handle all this traffic. oh! an orange cone! but, for the most part, i know what’s going on.

if i want to reread something or skip ahead, i need to mess around with my controls. in fact, i don’t know if i want to skip ahead, ever, because i can’t do that overall skim with my eyes on a page while i’m mid-paragraph. plus, it’s frowned upon to mess around with your phone while driving.

an audiobook has one pace: spoken word. now, granted, i can scrub it up: 1.25x, 1.5x, 1.75x, etc., but i find that anything faster than 1.5x is just too scrubbed to make sense of the words.

that said, some books were just made (written?) for audiobook.

i just finished neil patrick harris’ autobiographical choose your own adventure, and i would HIGHLY recommend checking out the audiobook. while you’d think that a choose your own adventure would not lend well to the audio format, he and the producer worked to make it absolutely great.

he reads it himself, and while you might be able to infer certain things from written word, it was great to hear his inflection as he intended in his writing. it was great hearing him say “LEGEN – wait for it – DARY.”  it was even better hearing him intone “THEEEE EENNNDDD” whenever you met your untimely demise in one of the “adventures.” 

the best part? HE KNOWS HOW TO PRONOUNCE MISCHIEVOUS*. wtg, nph.

four stars: would choose to adventure listen again!

*where is that I after the v? THERE IS NONE. quit inserting it. say mischief. now add an “ous” after it. TADA. mischievous. 

involvement

i don’t know what happened: maybe i got a little older; maybe i was feeling left out; maybe it was just circumstance. but when i moved to rochester, i felt like i suddenly became more involved than i ever had up in st cloud. i went to land stewardship meetings. i met community members in my community garden meetings (and at the garden). i went to yoga classes. i went to a caucus for the first time! (that may have been a result of bernie.)

maybe it was the result of where i worked – it’s hard to work in an educational environment and ignore your surroundings. either way, i felt like i was doing a TON more down in SE MN than i had ever had up here. (or, maybe it was because being involved down SE was a lot more unfamiliar and took effort than in central.)

so i guess i’m going to try to hold that momentum and do the same up here. already it’s proving difficult to find a yoga class, and i’m hoping to have a house where i can plant a garden and not have everything die on me. but, i think i’ll make a concerted effort to try to be somewhat involved. 

evenings

after i walk out the door of the college at 6 p.m., my evenings begin. i have about four and a half short hours of free time before bed beckons and i have to start to sleep so i can wake up at the ungodly hour of 6:50. (i know; that’s not that early.)

the sun is high in the sky still at 6, with sunsets after 9 here and the gloaming spreading until after 10. but i know it will go quickly. i eat something, then think about going for a run. after my exercise has eaten 40 minutes and the subsequent post-run stretching and shower another 15, it’s normally close to 8:30. 

File_000

at this time, it’s perfect light and weather to be outside. the patio here is situated under a large oak tree and lined with flowers; the peonies are currently blooming, their puffy pinkness bobbing in the breeze. the bleeding hearts have finished blooming, and the tiger lilies are at attention, waiting for their time to bloom. 

i read, maybe look at my phone, gaze at the sunset across the trees and plains. the crickets chirp, the junebugs buzz (YUCK). the sun eventually exits stage west, and i go in. time to settle in so i can enjoy tomorrow’s four hours of evening.

MN state parks

last night i ran across the MN summer bucket list of one of my twitter friends. on it was “visit two state parks.” i tweeted back and said she should visit 5. 

which made me think: a great summer project would be to visit ALL the state parks and then blog about them. obvs this wouldn’t be a THIS summer project, but i think it would be a fun thing to do. make complete use of my state park sticker! 

it was nice living so close to a state park – i’d visit whitewater quite a bit during the summertime. lake andrew was also a good destination while we lived in new london. unfortunately, the closest one to st cloud is in little falls, which is about 30 minutes away. in the meantime, however, i’ll try to get to whitewater a few more times before i move. 

like the deserts miss the rain*

File_002i have a deck. vegetables are in. sunflowers to come (charlie…). next weekend, i’m hoping to relax. 

tonight i came back up to central via mankato, which means i dipped into west central mn before getting into true central mn. i headed up the minnesota river valley for bit and then hit lake country. i visited two biomes on my way up here. and vastly different parts of mn. 

for the record, there is something weirdly different about west central mn versus southeastern mn. i’m not sure what it is – perhaps the farms are farther apart and seem a little more industrial; maybe it makes no assumptions about what it could be, what it really isn’t (southeastern mn does that a little bit): it knows it’s farmland and it will always be prairie. it’s a little more desolate. a little more hick. a little less “our poo don’t stink.”

i need some blogging ideas. what do you all want to read about?

MNbiomes*the title needs a little explanation. remember that 90s song – “and i miss you; like the deserts miss the rain…and i miss you…. like the deserts miss the rain.” etc etc. it’s a song called “missing” by the band  everything but the girl. i actually didn’t know the name of the song until i just now looked it up, because my HS friends and i called the “the biome song.” weird? yes. we had just learned about biomes when the song came out, and my friend chandra said that since it mentioned deserts, it would be the biome song. 

and minnesota has four biomes in it – tallgrass aspen parkland, prairie, deciduous forest, and coniferous forest. i drove through two, as i mentioned above. this explanation took up more space than the blog post itself did. wow. 

driving

one of the more annoying things about this commuting thing is that i drive home and think “man! this is great running weather!” and by the time i get home, it’s too dark to do anything. bah.

speaking of driving….

compared to the last time i did this stint, i am saving a crapton of gas money. i still need to drive to and back from st cloud every week, but the distance to work from where i’m staying is actually less than my commute was down here to roch. so that’s a plus. last time i was doing this, i was driving 90 miles a day to get from austin to rochester for work. on top of the 175 each way back home. instead of filling up twice a week, i can get up there, go to work four days, and get back home on one tank of gas. huzzah!

ALSO. gas is not $3.95 a gallon like it was four years ago. (knock on wood.) that was heavy. so not only was i filling up twice a week, but it was at $70 a pop (i have an 18-gallon tank). 

to compare: $600/month last time (just for commuting – not any driving i did on the weekends). $160/month this go round for commuting. i was spending half that on just to and from rochester every month from st charles. that is fantastic. plus, i have been getting some killer gas mileage lately. 35 mpg this last tank, and that was mostly 70mph+ freeway driving. 

all this to say, i hope i can go for a decent run tomorrow.