Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Just My Viewpoint - We Need Variety To Be Strong

The store was fine when I drove up on Monday, and we actually had a really busy day with lots of fun, interesting customers, so that was great too. There were more peaceful protests taking place in the Cities - the days seem to be full of peaceful protests, the nights are a bit more fraught with tinder, tempers and confrontations. We're far from an isolated voice in the wilderness. It seems that almost every large metro area is having its own riots and demonstrations - many not peaceful at all. 

I'm putting pictures of flower gardens in my blog today. Why flower
gardens? Because they are beautiful to look at, calming to the eye,
and because it is the diversity of plants that makes for a beautiful

I look at the history of demonstrations in this country - so many demonstrating for equality, for human rights, for dignity for people of color, and so many starting out with great promises and ended up running on the same old tired treadmill to nowhere. It's no wonder to me that people are angry. They have every right to be. Yes, opportunities have increased since I was young, but true equality isn't there yet. When Navajo Indians are fighting COVID without running water to more than 30% of their homes, and when multitudes of Lakota Sioux people live in substandard housing without heat in the bitten winters of South Dakota, there is no equality. There are no jobs, there are limited opportunities, and the only ways out are by leaving home, family and heritage behind. 

I love the red and blue flowers in this garden. They're
bright and colorful in the sunshine. 

People of color are looked upon with greater suspicion, watched more closely in a crowd, and dogged when in larger groups. Why? The white person around the corner is just as likely to be a thief, but it's the brown person who is watched. People are tired of feeling like they're not good enough. They are tired of walking with a target on their backs, and tired of having to take low paying grunge jobs because that's all they can get in their neighborhoods. 

Here are some shorter flowers, but again, the mix of colors
and blooms are what's so interesting and beautiful about
the garden. 

I'd like to see some serious changes because I've always believed it is possible if corporate America would just wake up to the reality of a huge pool of talented people that just need a place to be able to use their talents. I want large corporations to start looking at the poorer, more colored sections of town as opportunities to set up a location and hire local talent. I want manufacturing plants, design studios, architects and think tanks to spread out from their comfort zones and see what America can truly offer to them. You want thinking outside the box? Try hiring a poor black kid who's been trying to self-educate. You might be very pleasantly surprised at the viewpoints and skill sets he/she can offer. 

Even in the wild, nature prefers to mix things up. Here we
have a bee garden in the wild, and I'm quite sure the
bees enjoy visiting the blooms. 

Just my thoughts, and I fully admit I'm a privileged white girl who got really lucky. But I think that luck has to spread, thus this little rant as we all try to get our feet back under us once again. Have a wonderful Tuesday and please, stay safe and stay well. 

Monday, June 1, 2020

A Scary Time on Sunday - Protesters vs Tanker Truck

It's 6:00 am on Monday morning. The curfew just lifted and the freeways are once again open for traffic. Oh ... you didn't know? Well, Saturday and Sunday new tactics came into play and the expanded forces of the police, state patrol, city police and National Guard shut down the freeways. On Saturday they closed at 8:00 pm, but on Sunday there was a massive march of 5000-6000 people and groups of that size in our area tend to walk onto the freeway and stop all traffic. For safety, they closed the freeways around 5:00 - 5:15 pm. Then this happened. 

A tanker truck barreled into a huge crowd on the I-35 bridge.
  Here's a link to YouTube if you want to actually see this idiot. It's a
rather remarkable video, but some might find it disturbing, so I'll
leave the clicking up to you. 

Yeah - a tanker truck appeared on the empty highway and barreled into the crowd doing at least 30 mph. It then slowed, almost stopped, and then sped up again, before finally coming to a complete stop. The driver was pulled out of the cab and beat up, because he had just been stupid enough to drive into a crowd of people. After he was taken into custody by the police, he was treated at a nearby medical center and placed under arrest. It broke the momentum of the demonstrations, though, and people began to split off, most leaving the area completely. It's a shame, it was a great group - very cohesive, very peaceful and very positive. 

For a really interesting video and interview,
here's another link.
The interview is rather lengthy, but well worth the listen. 

So, I'll be leaving in an hour or so for the shop. Although the nights have been much more peaceful, I have no idea what might be awaiting me. I'm hoping I'm untouched, but I could come in to a bunch of graffiti. Who knows? Living in "interesting" times isn't for the faint at heart. 

I hope your beginning of June goes well. Please stay safe and I'll be back tomorrow. 

Saturday, May 30, 2020

We Dodged a Bullet and I'm Grateful

The protests in Minneapolis turned into riots which spilled over into St Paul. In Minneapolis, the main area for uprisings and protests is Lake Street, in St Paul, it's University Avenue, located a mile south of my store. The main North-South street that intersects University is Snelling Avenue, the street where my little shop is located. 

Friday morning started out with a text and accompanying video from Chickie. Lloyd's Pharmacy, a 100-year-old building on my corner was engulfed in flames. I was very unsure what I would run into when I went to the shop later. I could find graffiti, hate slogans, who knew? I knew I hadn't had a break in, I would have been contacted by my alarm company. But almost anything else was a possibility. 

When I arrived at the shop, the fire trucks were still pouring water
onto Lloyd's Pharmacy. They had been boarded up, but were looted
and then torched. I hope the owners had everything insured, but I know
insurance often won't cover events happening in riots. 

DH decided we would drive in together. He wanted to take some things away from the shop and also check on some payments we were making for end of the month. So we drove out and actually couldn't get to the store on Snelling because of the firetrucks still pouring water down onto the remaining structure of the pharmacy. I pulled off the street onto a side street and we went to the store via the back way. 

These two pictures were taken right from the front door of my
shop, so you can see how very close this was to all of us. The
building was a total loss. 

The shop looked fine, the alarm was still set, the front of the store was untouched, I was extremely grateful. My landlord texted me later in the day telling me that two guys (one owns property on the block, the other works for my landlord) managed to turn away at least two separate waves of looters and keep them away from our small group of stores. The pharmacy, however, was a total loss. 

As I left for the first time, equipment had been brought in
and they were starting to knock down the walls. When
I returned later in the afternoon, it was just a pile of rubble.
This pic was taken through the window of my shop,
looking at the intersection. 

We stayed for an hour or so, DH finished the things he needed to do, and we decided to stay closed for Friday and re-open on Saturday. I put signs in the window, texted Chickie telling her not to bother coming in, and we headed home. Each of us actually ended up coming back once more through the day to pick up documents left behind (DH) and to double-check to make sure all of the doors were properly locked (me). 

It's going to seem very odd when I look out of my
front windows today and I don't see Lloyd's across
the street. I hope they are able to stay in business,
they were thriving and always busy. I enjoy supporting
a small business, so they were my pharmacy as
well as DH's and Chickie's. 

The cities of Minneapolis and St Paul slapped curfews on the cities yesterday, running through the weekend. Nobody allowed on the streets from 8:00 pm until 6:00 am. It didn't seem to make any difference in Minneapolis. DH was watching news reports until after 1:00 am last night, so I suspect there were more riots and more property damage. St Paul, however, was quiet. I'm quite relieved. 

A final look as I was waiting in the intersection to turn and head
back home. One hundred years of history gone in just a few
hours, leaving heartsick people behind and lots of people hoping
they still have jobs in the wings. 

So, as I wrap this up and prepare to go to the shop for a "normal" day of business today, I'm hoping that things start to calm down. I have no idea if they will, though. Sometimes it only takes a single spark to start a conflagration, and that's what the murder of George Floyd was - a single spark. Please, stay safe and be well and spread love and kindness. Hatred doesn't deserve a part in our lives. 

Friday, May 29, 2020

I'm Living In "Interesting Times" and I Hate It

Yesterday was a little scary - the riots about the George Floyd killing moved from Minneapolis across the river to St Paul, and into the southern portion of my shop's neighborhood. It was a tense afternoon, and we locked the door, leaving a sign on it to knock for entry. We have bars across our windows and solid doors, and we're a mile north of where the major riots and property destruction was going on, but it was uncomfortable. 

At 5:30 pm, I made the decision to close early. We brought the cloths back up and covered the display cases, just as we had while we were on stay-at-home. We're basically a bead store, but why tempt fate? I was out of the shop by 6:00 pm, normally when I would be locking the doors. My landlord texted me later hoping that we were all away from the shop and to let him know if anything happened (break-in or similar) and he would go over. He lives quite close to the shop, so he could get there faster than I. Fortunately, as of now (6:30 am on Friday) nothing happened. I hope we haven't been spray painted or such, but I think we survived the night. 

For those of you who are overseas and might not have heard about this clusterf__k, here's some bare bones details. A grocer in Minneapolis called the police about a suspected thief. Four police officers arrived and accosted George Floyd, wrestling him to the ground and holding him down, forcibly, one officer by kneeling across the back of his neck. Despite numerous requests to "Let me breathe. I can't breathe", the policeman kept his knee on Floyd's neck for more than eight minutes, causing his death. 

The Minneapolis mayor was incensed about this, as were a LOT of people. Since Floyd was a black man and the police were not (they were a variety of non-black people), race and the problem of race relations and black dignity raised its head. We give a lot of lip service to equality in this nation, but a lot of times that's all it is - lip service. 

Riots happened because people were angry. The four policemen were fired, but have not yet been arrested (which they certainly SHOULD be, for murder and accessory to murder), and the people are angry about the lack of action by the authorities. As of this writing, we've had riots for three nights now and also looting and violence during the days. 

UPDATE - Chickie just sent me a Twitter video that shows the pharmacy, kitty corner across the street from me, engulfed in flames early this morning at 1:30 am. (it's a 100-year-old building and I just love the people there). I'm seriously considering doing the bare minimum at the shop today and staying locked until next week. What a mess. 

I think I don't like living in "interesting times". Stay safe and I'll be back tomorrow. 

Thursday, May 28, 2020

A Catch-up Post - Just Because I Haven't For A While

It's probably time for an ankle update, since I'm actually doing pretty well, four weeks along. I'm spending too much time ignoring my crutches. I know I'm supposed to use them, but Dr Jorgensen said as long as I don't get any spiking pains, it's all good. I ache a bit at night after being on my feet a lot, but it's just a small ache, no shooting pains, so I think I'm doing things correctly. Maybe. In any case, most of the swelling is down, and the bruising is gone. Things look much better. 

I'm wearing my walking boot 24/7 (except for
showers, of course) and it's working out really
well for me. I'm very grateful that I'm not in
a plaster or fiberglass cast which would be
SO much more uncomfortable. 

I still have two weeks to go until I see Dr Jorgensen again. I'm only without crutches (sometimes) when I have the walking boot on. When the boot is off - showers and such - I am ALWAYS on my crutches. No weight bearing on a bare foot yet, and no intentions of being quite that stupid. 

Although I love using the knee scooter I purchased, I
guess I really didn't need it as much as I thought I might.
It's a fun thing, and it works pretty well at the shop, but
in reality, I'm doing just fine without it. 

The scooter turned into something that's sometimes nice to have at the store, but basically wasn't worth getting because I'm healing too quickly to make it necessary. I use it to perch my leg up on at the shop, and that's actually rather great, but I rarely use it for the intended use. I'm glad I didn't spend a lot of $ on it. It wasn't dirt cheap, but it could have been much worse. 

I have an old terracotta strawberry pot
that's quite similar to this. We planted it
a few weeks ago and the plants are doing
well. Some beastie is eating my fresh
strawberries, though! 

I went into my patio and garden area yesterday afternoon to harvest several strawberries I had noticed on Tuesday. They were missing! Each one of them! If it was a bunny, it ate very carefully because neither DH nor I could figure out exactly which stems had been robbed. But I was very bummed. I had been looking forward to a few fresh strawberries. I think DH might put wire fencing around my strawberry pot during the day today. 

Congress votes electronically at their seats by inserting a
card and pressing a button. The vote is then recorded. 

He's been fighting with the PPP Loan Repayment paperwork for three days now, and it's a bit of a nightmare. I think we're close, but I also know there are some amendments that might be voted in by Congress today, so we're settling back to see what happens there. I also sent an email to my loan officer late yesterday asking a few questions. Once the answers come through, we'll have a better idea on a couple of question areas. 

So, that's about it for a catch-up. I hope all of you have a wonderful Thursday and I'm planning on being back here tomorrow. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

An Ode to the State Fair 2020

I mentioned a wonderful poem composed by my friend Sharon to address the fact that our Minnesota State Fair has been cancelled. She's given me permission to share with all of you, so here you go. Here's Sharon's rendition of "No Fair? No Fair!" 

No Fair? No fair!
No Fair! NO FAIR!

No special summer place to go!
No fair, this litany of NO!

NO International Bazaar,
Where treasures come from near and far!
NO Coliseum! NO Eco-X!
NO 4-H, young farm hands, or pets!
NO tractors on Machinery Hill!
NO lumberjacks! NO lumberjills!
NO West End Market, shiny, new!
NO butter sculpts! NO Farmers U!
NO Creative Activities!
NO snickerdoodle fantasies!
NO walleye cakes! NO Pronto Pups!
NO sweet fresh milk in endless cups!
NO onion rings! NO flavored malts!
NO "Isn't that a new food?" halts!
NO roasted corn! NO cheese curds, hot!
NO cookie cones! NO pretzel knots!
NO crop art, fine art, school art, 'bots,
NO orchids, bees, or bonsai pots!
NO DNR! NO Ye Old Mill!
NO Skyride and Space Tower thrill!
NO pigs! NO chickens, cows, or hay!
NO animals born that very day!
NO fireworks! NO music shows!
NO singing with the Cantus bros!
NO lip balms! pencils! luggage tags!
NO new St. Tommie's purple bags!
NO souvenirs! NO crowds that roar!
NO educational History Tours!

No Fair?

But, no.

It's fair.

A vile contagion's in the air.

And till we breach this virus wall,
We'll do what's best, what's fair, for all.

We'll sanitize, we'll do our part,
Wear masks, and stay six feet apart.

We'll follow every wise decree,
Until, at last, we all breathe free.

We'll gather in good health next year,
With joy, with thanks, and with NO FEAR!

Fare well, all fans of Fair and fun!
We'll meet again in '21!

-Sharon Nastick, 5/22/2020

Thanks to my dear friend Sharon for such a wonderful testament to our annual summer cap-off. Have a wonderful day and I'll be back tomorrow. 

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Summer is Here in the Frozen Northlands

Memorial Day has passed, Summer is officially started in the Frozen Northlands, and it's cold-ish, rainy, and semi-shut down due to Covid-19, so ... the new normal. Today DH will be wrangling with the instructions and worksheets for our PPP repayment. If we can fill it out properly, we'll owe interest on the amount we borrowed, but no principal. If we fill it in incorrectly, or if the premise of what we had originally filled out was incorrect, we may owe more than that. I don't regret having tried for the PPP loan, it was the only thing that allowed us to reopen a week ago with everything still in place, including employees. The paperwork for the repayment, however, is a nightmare and DH already has enough grey hair. 

DH has been tearing his hair out (not literally)
trying to fill out the paperwork for the
PPP loan repayment forms. They're a mess!

The two-day weekend was a delight, though. The weather was perfect on Sunday, and we spent hours outdoors enjoying it. On Monday the weather was a bit less pleasant, but still nice enough to go outside for a while, and DH grilled dinner outside - very good! So, here in the Frozen Northlands, Summer is officially here. I know there is such a thing as a calendar, but here, Summer extends from Memorial Day until Labor Day. 

I generally enjoy summer, although the heat waves can be
rather beastly. Still, it's really nice to put the snow blower
and shovels away until after Halloween. 

My friend Sharon wrote a marvelous poem about how we'll all be missing the State Fair this year. I'll ask her permission and if she allows, I'll post it to my blog this week. It was a wonderful read. 

So, on that note, I'm off to grab my breakfast and head off to the shop. It may not be exciting, but that's OK. It's nice to be back to a schedule, even if I am still walking with crutches most of the time. Have an excellent Tuesday and I'll be back tomorrow.