Sunday, June 29, 2008

Swede Fest

I had a great Saturday. It started with a 14 1/2 mile run in the morning, which went exceptionally well. The temperature was right, and I felt very strong throughout the run. This was sweet redemption from last weekend's long run when it was hot and I felt sluggish. Cooler temperatures, pleasant sunshine; what a wonderful morning to run!

Lots of birds and animals en route; there were many baby mallards floating around on the lake with their moms, I saw one of the local eagles, and various songbirds were everywhere, many of them bringing food back to the nest. Very nice to see.

I also encountered six different cottontail rabbits along the trail, including one that was a cute little baby. This works out to a paltry .41 BPM (bunnies per mile), so I would like to see that number increase! :)

Following some errands, I once again pointed The Silver Hornet south and made my way back to St. Peter to visit my aunts and uncles. In order to take in some additional Scandinavian festivities. This time we would be attending Swede Fest at Bernadotte Lutheran Church outside of Lafayette, MN.

The beautiful Bernadotte Lutheran Church



Swede Fest is in its 14th year and serves as a fundraiser for the church. They had plenty of food, a craft sale and silent auction, horse rides (courtesy of my uncle Jim), and also a program. And, just for the record, they did let me in even though I am mostly Norwegian! :)

Unfortunately, weather was not as cooperative as it was last weekend at the Norseland Sesquicentennial. On again, off again rain showers plagued the afternoon, forcing the program to be moved inside. It also created a challenge for the dinner, since most of the seating was outdoors in Bernadotte's lovely park. But we Minnesotans are a highly adaptable bunch, and we would never let a little rain spoil a party!

Horse rides at Swede Fest



I am still raving about the food! As far as festivals go, this was one of the finest meals I have had. Of course, there was a Swedish theme; Swedish meatballs, Swedish rice pudding, Swedish, cookies, and Swedish rye bread. But there was also some fantastic summer picnic fare including fried chicken, baked beans, potato salad, and cole slaw. Delicious! It was clear that much of the food was homemade, and people put a lot of thought, time, and effort into making an excellent meal.

The dinner at Swede Fest



In spite of the rain, the festival seemed to be a huge success. My uncle gave horse rides in between the raindrops, and the program was fun. A couple of the highlights were hearing Roger Erickson speak (a local broadcasting legend in the Twin Cities who was a member of the Bernadotte congregation), as well as hearing the "Swen and Ole," a comedy duo from Hanska who tell the infamous and heavily Scandinavian influenced "Swen and Ole" jokes.

A good time was had by all. At least, I certainly had a good time! It is always fun to see my aunts and uncles, to visit the old family farm, and to immerse one's self into some more Scandinavian culture!

Until next time,

Jean

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Summer is upon us

This week has been challenging, but good. At work, while things have been very busy, I learned I will be receiving a promotion (and a nice raise!). After only 9 short months at my new company, I was pretty surprised and pleased.

The weather has contributed to some challenges as well. We have gone from a cool, relatively dreary spring into full summer mode. Running in the heat and humidity is difficult (at least, for me). We have had temperatures in the mid to upper 80’s for much of this week, so it is time to get used to the summer weather!

On my last run, I noticed the baby eagles along my route have left the nest! It would have been fun to see them take flight. But it is about time; the little guys were not so little anymore. How enjoyable to watch those magnificent birds so close up.

I have also seen a number of deer on my recent runs. One was a forkhorn buck that still had the velvet on his antlers, and the others were does. It is obvious they are used to seeing people, as they just scuttle off the trail a little ways, and then they turn and stare! Their reddish summer coat is amazing right now. It is remarkable how much this will morph into their brownish-gray winter coat later in the year.

Sweating profusely,

Jean

Monday, June 23, 2008

Velkommen til Norseland

The Norwegian and American flags flying at the Norseland Lutheran Church



In 1858, a group of Norwegian and Swedish immigrants homesteaded an area of the Minnesota River Valley "where the big woods meets the prairie," as they say. They called it Norseland.

Yours truly in Norseland



Norseland is barely a dot on the map which today consists of a feed store, a co-op, and two churches, Norseland Lutheran and Scandian Grove Lutheran (both separated by perhaps a mile and a half). The old expression, "if you blink, you will miss it," rings true.

This past weekend I had the privilege to attend and participate in the Norseland Sesquicentennial where I got to learn what Norseland truly was and is.

The celebration has been a couple of years in the making, and this weekend it came to fruition. I met my entire family down there for the festivities.

The historic Norseland General Store



The sesquicentennial was a true celebration of local history. The Norseland General Store (which closed for good two years ago) was open for tours and had several exhibits, including soldier greeting cards from WWI, and also an American flag that had only 48 stars.

An antique Farmall tractor on display at the welcome center



The Anthony Feed Service building served as a welcome center for the whole event, and there were a number of historical displays and photographs from the early days, and also some souvenirs for sale. I bought myself a church cookbook from Scandian Grove, and I found some pictures in the displays of my grandfather with his 4H softball team, as well as a photo of great great grandfather, one of the original settlers in this area.

I love a parade!



Our family even participated in the parade! My uncle has several Percheron horses, so we all rode in a wagon being pulled by two of these black beauties.

We were not alone, either. It is hard to imagine, but for this event in the tiny village of Norseland there were nearly 80 entries in the parade. Horse-drawn buggies, covered wagons, antique tractors, fire trucks, classic cars, combines, and a a few different bands; the turnout was incredible. They had to shut down a state highway for a couple of hours to make it happen.

The parade lining up at the start. We know how to shut down a road here in Minnesota! :)



The parade was an absolute blast! It was so much fun to ride on a wagon being pulled by giant horses, waving to family, friends, and complete strangers alike. How can you not enjoy something like this?

The parade leaving town



Following the parade, everyone headed over the the park on the Scandian Grove church grounds for a good old fashioned cookout. Grilled pork chop sandwiches for dinner, and I'm talking 1 inch thick boneless loin chops (knowing me, I'm sure you will be in absolute shock to learn that I didn't take a picture of it!). Wow, was it good. And this town that is barely a dot on the map served nearly a thousand people!

The cookout was accompanied by plently of music and displays of local talent. The Lt. Governor of Minnesota was even on hand to read a proclamation from the Governor's Office declaring June 21, 2008, "Community of Norseland" day. We sat, listened, talked, and caught up with relatives and old friends.

In the episode of Anthony Bourdain's TV show, No Reservations, where he visited Korea, he concluded the show by saying (from my best recollection), "The best times are when it is impossible to be cynical." The Norseland Sesquicentennial was just that; It is the kind of place where people break bread together, where farmers reminisce about "fence line conversations" while out in the field. It is the kind of place where the St. Peter High School Marching Band (young kids, giving up a Saturday afternoon in the summer) offered to play in the parade for nothing more than the promise of a root beer float afterwards. It is the kind of place where history is important, where those who came before us are honored and appreciated. It is a community, and a caring one at that.

My hat is off to the Norseland 150 Committee for putting on such a memorable show. I won't soon forget this past weekend!

Until next time,

Jean

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Sesquicentennial

First, I would like to invite you all to check out Rick’s blog where, in response to my story about Father’s Day 2002 at the boat landing, he posted his own story about an experience he had when launching a boat. It is great; not funny at the time, but funny in hindsight, and his dad turned it into a great teachable moment. Very cool!

It is finally starting to feel like summer around here. Yesterday’s run was around 80 degrees, but a very comfortable 80 with no humidity. We seem to have broken the rather damp weather pattern and have actually settled into a pretty decent stretch of weather. It has been a lot of fun running the past few afternoons.

In wildlife news, I am noticing numerous painted turtles along the trail edge. They are cute little guys, and they must enjoy basking in the sun. I have physically moved at least three of them to keep them from getting run over by bicyclists! Most of the birds are still in nesting mode, and I see the eagles and the kingbird along my route daily. I did get half-heartedly attacked by a papa red-winged blackbird, so I must have gotten too close to a nest! :)

Sunday dinner...beefy, Italian-inspired goodness



I did some good cooking over the weekend and have been subsisting on leftovers. I made a red wine braised beef roast with a sort of Italian style couscous, which was full of sun-dried tomatoes, basil, peas, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, and two kind of beans (cranberry and garbanzo). The meal, and the resulting gravy from the braise, turned out to be a winner. At least, everyone sitting around me at work keeps asking what smells so good when I microwave my lunch!

This weekend should be fun. I am heading down to southern Minnesota with my family for the Norseland Sesquicentennial celebration!

Norseland is a small, unincorporated town neat St. Peter where my Mom grew up, and much like the State of Minnesota, they too are celebrating 150 years of existence. This is bound to be a classic Minnesota-style get together. In fact, not only is there a parade, but I will actually be in it! (Full report to follow, of course)

You only get to celebrate 150 years once, so we will make sure it is a good time! :)

Until next time,

Jean

Sunday, June 15, 2008

A funny thing happened at the boat landing

Happy Father's Day, Dad!

A shot of Dad with a furry friend



Back in 2002, my parents still lived in central Minnesota, and Dad and I had a somewhat regular tradition of fishing on Father's Day weekend. Mid June was always a great time to catch bluegills with fly rods, as they would be spawning in the shallows and eager to hit surface flies. So we would usually go to a favorite small lake in pursuit of panfish.

Yesterday, buried in the archives of my e-mail, I found this story I wrote to share with friends. It recaps a humorous experience Dad and I had on Father's Day weekend in 2002 while at the boat landing of Rabbit Lake in Aitkin County. I sent this to Dad yesterday just for kicks, and he has been laughing about it for the past two days now. The story seems to have gotten better with age for us, and I had forgotten how funny this whole episode was. I thought I would share it on my blog. Every word is true, and to clarify, "The Osbourne's" was a favorite reality show of ours at the time, hence the reference to Ozzy, "The Prince of Darkness" himself.

A Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there, especially mine! Enjoy...and work on your boat landing skills, will ya?! :)



Saturday, Dad and I made our way out to the little lake that we fished last Father's Day weekend. Well, we got into yet another bonanza of fish.

We caught and released over two dozen crappies (middle of the day, bright sun...what gives?), and easily three times as many bluegills on the fly rod. My hands are scarred and sore from taking off so many fish and getting stabbed with fins, etc. It was an absolutely legendary day on the lake. One for the books, without question.

However, one of the more entertaining moments came as we were trying to get in at the boat landing.

Dad had said earlier in the day that it never fails...you will always have to wait for somebody at the boat landing. It didn't matter that we were amongst the only people on the lake. Murphy's Law says that there will always be someone launching or landing when we are trying to get in.

Well, sure enough, Dad was right. Not only was he right, but we also got a front row seat to witnessing a father having a really bad day.

We cruised up to the landing where we see our Father of the Year candidate, his wife Sharon (we weren't introduced, rather, we deduced this from the occasional use of the phrase "Dammit Sharon!"), and four small children, the oldest no more than ten. They were trying to bring the boat into shore. The whole situation just screamed of somebody pressuring the dad into taking the whole family fishing on the weekend.

So, we sat quietly on the water out in front of the landing.

Dad made the observation that this guy had one of those trailers with the rollers that catch the sides of the boat, and it had no carriage in the middle to help center it. Dad also noticed that this guy had the trailer too far in the water, which meant that the back of the boat would still be floating when they are trying to trailer it, making it REALLY hard to center it. And, to top it off, Sharon and one of the children were still IN the boat, making it even that much more difficult to align on the trailer.

So, we waited and watched.

The dad is yelling instructions to Sharon. Sharon is lying on the bow of the boat, trying to hook the rope from the winch to the boat itself. One kid is in the water trying to hold the boat steady. The smallest child is sitting on shore crying. The other two kids are asking daddy lots questions. Daddy is getting mad.

Finally, after a whole lot of messing around, they seemingly have everything situated. He gets in the van to pull the boat out of the water. He pulls forward, and there is a loud "clank". I didn't see exactly what happened, but I suspect the boat shifted on the trailer. He stops, gets out, walks to the back of the van, looks at the boat, and exclaims very loudly:

"Well, what a F&%$ING load of SH&%!!!"

The guy completely lost it, unleashing a stream of profanity that might still be echoing throughout southern Aitkin County. He re-releases the boat into the water in an attempt to get it on the trailer correctly.

Now the dad is shouting instructions to everyone. Sharon says nothing. The smallest child, still crying since the time we pulled up to the landing, is having a complete meltdown. One of the middle children is bugging the dad, saying, "Daddy, I have to pee!" Straight from the pages of a Dr. Benjamin Spock parenting book, the dad says:

"Just drop your F&%$ING pants and go!"

I am absolutely dying...appalled, yet oddly entertained by this buffoon who appears to have never landed a boat before. I had to turn my back on the boat landing just so this guy wouldn't see how hard I was laughing at him. At this point, my dad is goading me into shouting to the shore to ask this gentleman if he is having a good time. I resist.

Finally, after about 20 minutes and a whole lot of shouting, they actually get the boat out of the water so we could bring ours to shore. The crowning moment was the oldest kid coming down to our boat and saying to us, "We're sorry it took so long."

This guy, the Father of the Year candidate, actually made his KID come down and apologize to us!

My Dad, ever the gentleman, resisted the urge to say, "That's OK, you weren't the dumbass that backed the trailer in too far," and just said to the kid, "Hey, no problem. Stuff like that happens when you are fishing."

We get our boat out in minutes, and we are packing up our gear as they began to leave. As the happy family was driving off into the sunset, their boat still not sitting on the trailer correctly, my Dad launches into his Ozzy Osbourne impersonation:

"Sharon! SHARON!!!"

I am doubled over in laughter at this point, thinking thoughts like "I am the Prince of f&@#ing Darkness, Sharon! I'll have nothing to do with landing the boat!!!" I was wondering if I had just witnessed Ozzy himself!

The rest of our evening was comprised of telling Mom about our great fishing stories, having incredible NY strip steaks on the grill with some Whitehall Lane Cab, and me shouting at random times for no apparent reason, "Well, what a F&%$ING load of SH&%!!!"

It was a really fun Father's Day weekend.

So with that, to my Dad, Happy Father's Day! Thanks for the awesome fishing outing!

And to the Father of the Year candidate at the boat landing...Ozzy, or whoever you were...Happy Father's Day to you too. I hope you are having a better day. :)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Saturday of play

I had a half day off in the afternoon on Friday, so I used that as my opportunity to do my weekly long run. We had a beautiful day with temps hovering around 70, and there was a fairly stiff cooling breeze, so conditions were very nice.

I put in 12 1/2 miles, and strangely enough I had the trails mostly to myself. I guess most people are working during this time, but I figured more people would be calling in...(ahem)..sick on such a glorious day! However, I only encountered a couple of other runners, and a few walkers and bikers during a couple hours on the trail. The run was most pleasant.

The Canada goose babies are growing rapidly. I saw several en route floating on the lake with their parents. They are getting to that awkward stage where they look slightly bedraggled and are only starting to develop their colors. Still very cute, nonetheless!

With my run out of the way, that left Saturday for screwing around. I took a drive out to Kimball to visit Knaus Sausage House, where I stocked up on some various meat products (I sense some BLT sandwiches with great smoked bacon in my future). I made a point to drive a lot of county backroads for a change of scenery, and there is some beautiful farm country just west of me. And I even saw a flock of American white pelicans flying overheard near Maple Lake. An enjoyable trip.

Spicy shrimp stir-fry!



Tonight's dinner was a stir-fry of shrimp with chile sauce. (Quite spicy, I might add!) This evening contains a full slate of sports. The US Open 3rd round is going on right know and will go into prime time, and NASCAR racing fires up at 7:30. All in all, a pretty darn good Saturday!

Until next time,

Jean

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Good candy gone bad

First things first, a hearty congratulations Rick and Bob for their triumphs at the Kettle 100 last weekend! Bob finished the 100k in incredibly difficult weather conditions, and Rick finished an amazing 3rd place overall in the...(gasp)...100 mile! Wow, way to go, guys! :)

Believe it or not, the last couple of days have been gorgeous here. I ran on Monday and Tuesday afternoons in sunny, comfortable conditions. What a treat!

The wildlife is still abundant. I am enjoying watching the eaglets growing up, and many of the songbirds are in full nesting mode right now. I even saw a large number of monarch butterflies in the park this afternoon. I love summers in Minnesota.

OK, so does anyone remember the candy called Good & Fruity? They were from the makers of Good & Plenty, the licorice pastel candies. Same idea, only they were fruit flavored, and I used to love them as a kid. I will bet it has been ten years since I have had (or even seen) them. I was beginning to wonder if they were discontinued. Well, imagine my surprise when I found some sitting on the shelves of a local grocery over the weekend! Smiling, I picked up a couple of boxes.

I opened a box at work on Monday and a look of horror came over my face. Inside were there oblong orbs that looked something like a stretched out jelly bean. What the hell is this? They look nothing like the pastel candies of old. I ate a few and the flavor is also different, but not in a good way; very citric and almost sour. The texture has become more like a jelly bean as well, with a slightly firm outer shell and a mushy interior. Absent is the pleasantly chalky exterior with a firm, chewy center that I remember.

I have no idea when this change occurred, but I am here to tell you the “new” Good & Fruity candies suck. How crushing! A favorite childhood candy, gone the way of the dinosaur. I suppose now they will reformulate Jelly Belly’s just to push me completely over the edge? :)

In some positive food-related news, here is last weekend’s coq au vin (French chicken and wine stew). Delightfully rustic and delicious! Much better than the Good & Fruity candy, anyhow... :)

Because I am French...



Until next time,

Jean

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Meteorology is not an exact science

Southern Minnesota should be good on Saturday morning, with showers and thunderstorms developing in the afternoon, the TV weather people said on Friday night. Alrighty, then.

Saturday at 4:50 AM, I hopped into The Silver Hornet and headed south to Rochester. More specifically, I was heading just east of Rochester to the Chester Woods County Park to partake in the Chester Woods 10 Mile Trail Run.

Rain was falling as I left the Twin Cities, but the clouds parted to treat me to a gorgeous and colorful sunrise. This was going to be a beautiful day.

Come to Rochester! See the world's largest ear of corn! I passed this water tower en route to the race.



The Chester Woods park is spectacular. What a beautiful piece of property! It sits along the edge of a creek and reservoir and features some very mature forests. The race course utilized a network of trails that would take us all over the park.

Shortly before the start of the race, I could see gray clouds moving in from the west. What the hell is this? It wasn't supposed to rain until this afternoon, or so I thought! Shortly after 8:00 AM, the gun fired and we we off on our adventure.

A shot of the race registration area, while the sun was still shining!



For the most part, the hills were rolling and gentle, and the trails wide and runnable. You did have to watch your footing in places, especially where the horses had been. There would be some bigger hills towards the later stages of the race, including the "Big Dam Hill" (which, appropriately enough, overlooked the dam!).

An incredibly unique feature of this race was its mile markers; they made their own Burma-Shave signs to denote the miles. I am too young to remember, but apparently this was a clever roadside advertising scheme by the makers of Burma-Shave that dotted the highways in an era gone by. A series of signs would have some catchy phrases, and the last one would tell you how many miles were left. Very cute!

I felt a bit sluggish at the start, but soon fell into a rhythm and ran my own comfortable pace. Aside from some curious onlookers in the campground, the only other people I saw were runners and the always enthusiastic volunteers, who were most kind and incredibly supportive the whole way around.

Now, about the weather...

The skies clouded up quickly, and it wouldn't be long until I started hearing some thunder in the distance. Uh-oh, this might not be good. Shortly after the 5 mile mark, a runner passed me and said, "Think we will beat the hail?"

"I hope so," I replied, somewhat puzzled. "It is not supposed to get bad until this afternoon, right?"

"No, it is only 20-30 minutes away!"

"[Expletive deleted]," I said.

I became a little concerned. Not so much for me, but for The Silver Hornet sitting outside in the middle of a wide open parking lot with no shelter! Ugh. I was really hoping this didn't materialize.

Shortly thereafter, I wondered to myself; how does he know that hail is supposedly on the way? We were both out in the middle of nowhere! Did he have KARE 11's "Skyscan" radar piped into his running watch or something? This mystified me, and still does.

Anyhow, by my 7th Burma-Shave markers, the skies had sufficiently darkened, and thunder was starting to crackle. Just past my 8th Burma-Shave markers, the heavens opened up. We got positively dumped on; big raindrops, thunder, and the occasional lightning bolt danced off in the distance.

But, thank goodness, there was no hail! It was only rain, and lots of it in a short amount of time.

I crested the "Big Dam Hill," enjoyed a spectacular view of the reservoir in the midst of a downpour, and made my way towards the finish, which would be mostly downhill from here.

One of the funniest things ever said to me during a race happened during the last mile when a young lady passed me. We were both soaked to the bone, and she said, "I didn't realize there was going to be a wet t-shirt contest today!"

My response: "Yes, and I am sure I am the loser!"

After a laugh, we chatted briefly, cursing the local TV meteorologists, but also noting that the did keep the temperature down nicely. So maybe that wasn't so bad after all? High 60's are better than low 80's!

I crossed the finish line in 1 hour, 33 minutes, and 10 seconds (by my watch), and I was very happy with my performance. I thought I ran pretty well today and felt very good. These trails were nice!

Soaked!



A lady parked near me kindly took my picture shortly after the finish. The picture does not do justice to how wet I was, but every stitch of clothing was saturated, and my shoes waterlogged. I wrung out a surprising amount of water from my microfiber running shirt that supposedly does not retain water. :) And wouldn't you know it? While I was cleaning up at my car, the sun started to shine again!

All things considered, it was a fantastic day on the trails, and the people were incredibly nice. Following the race, they had all kinds of food and drink (including dill pickles for salt replenishment!). Another lady in the parking lot offered me a fantastic homemade M&M cookie. Mmmmmm! In spite of the rain, I think it is safe to say a good time was had by all.

Three cheers to the Race Director and all of the volunteers. They did a splendid job, and bless all of those folks who stayed out at the aid stations in the rain! Well done.

To this runner goes the semi-regular tradition of post-race Chinese take-out for dinner; and let me tell you, the "eight treasure" beef and the hot and spicy chicken were firing on all cylinders.

Until next time,

Jean

Thursday, June 5, 2008

It was a dark and stormy night...

I’ve had a busy week. Lots of stuff going on at work, including a busy project load, as well as some client meetings that ate up a better part of Wednesday. It will feel very good when Friday arrives!

Kind of an interesting week weather-wise; for the most part it has been fairly gloomy and overcast. However, where yesterday was supposed to be overcast and cool, during my afternoon run it was sunny and gorgeous! That is kind of screwing up the forecast in reverse, isn’t it? That almost never happens!

Yesterday’s run was also kind of interesting weather-wise, as we had a bit of something that I hadn’t experienced in awhile; humidity, coupled with warmth. Temps were in the low 70’s, and in checking the dew points after my run, they were rising into the mid 50’s. Nothing oppressive or tropical, just enough to be noticeable, and definitely a harbinger of things to come as we roll into summer!

Birds are clearly in their nesting modes right now. Running through the woods, I can hear young birds cheeping and squeaking from their nests. And my local eagles have two offspring that are huge! They look like they should be leaving the nest any minute. Wow, do they ever grow up fast.

But today, it stormed and absolutely poured on the drive home. I'm talking sheets of rain. This was disappointing, as I had a run planned tonight. More rain is on the way. And as the great writer, Snoopy, once said; "It was a dark and stormy night." :)

I want to wish good luck to two long-time readers and fellow running bloggers, Rick and Bob. They are both running in the Kettle Moraine 100 (good grief!) in Wisconsin this weekend. Best wishes to you guys! I hope the Midwestern hospitality treats you well, and I look forward to reading about your experiences!

And, just because, here is last weekend's super yummy spicy chicken and vegetable stir-fry...

I like stir-fries




Until next time,

Jean

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Gnats? Gnuts! And, what the hail?

Saturday was a pretty nice morning here in the metro. The temperature was 58 degrees when I started my run, and after 12 miles it rose to 62! Quite pleasant, abundant sunshine, and a slight dose of humidity; this is what it should be like all the time.

One of the side effects of nicer weather is insects. While running along the trail today, I encountered the occasional cloud of gnats. Of course, this led to the inevitable; inhaling them, choking, and even getting a few bugs stuck in your eyes. Ugh! But that was my only gripe. The run was great, and the birding even better.

I stumbled upon a common yellowthroat, the cutest little masked warbler. I have not seen one of these in years, so it was truly a treat to watch him flutter about in the swampy grasses along the lake.

There also appears to be a pair of loons that have made their home on my lake. This is a neat thing, as the Twin Cities is really on the far southern end of the loon's nesting range. It will be fun to see if they have babies.

And finally, I found a nesting Eastern kingbird along a section of the trail. She made her home in a small tree that sits in an open area. The nest is kind of funny because it appears to be too small for her. She is really crammed in there, and you can see her tail sticking up out of the nest! Good stuff on a beautiful day.

Of course, being Minnesota, the weather can change in an instant. A tornado warning got issued for my county, so things got pretty interesting late in the afternoon. I was watching Christine Clayburg on the FOX 9 news to follow the track of the storm. I rag on the weather folks all the time, but giving credit where credit is due, she did an excellent job dissecting the storm and predicting its path. The "hook echo" of the super cell seemed to be heading straight for my apartment. So I scuttled down to the parking garage to take cover! There was no tornado, thank goodness, but my neighborhood did get pummeled with anywhere between dime and golf ball sized hail. It was insane!

WCCO has a slide show of yesterday's hail storm, and a few of the shots are from my city. Today on my run, I did not see too much storm damage except for a lot of leaves and twigs down on the trails, so we were fortunate.

Some hail stones from my deck



Following all of that excitement, last night's pizza was pretty tasty. Pancetta, pepperoni, fresh tomato, and four kinds of Italian cheese. Awesome!

Mmmmmm....pizza....



Until next time,

Jean

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