FOTOFRIDAY: Big Beer BreakAway Boom Continues

Posted on: Friday, October 1st, 2021
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

Nut Goodies have been a coveted, regional treat forever. But as a beer? Did not see that coming!

You’d have to be living under a vineyard to not be aware of the craft beer revolution that’s been happening for years now—with few signs of bloat yet. Even Covid can’t stop this party.

This pic comes from a local fundraiser event with lots of free beer, as donated by the many (MANY!) brewers roundabout. What a great idea, and oh boy, do people turn out to, uh, support the nonprofit!

Beer has gone beyond beverage and deep into BreakAway territory. People plan passionately around their drinking, er, tasting, er, exploration; they embark on nights out, day trips, weekend getaways, bus tours, bike jaunts, and ways to smuggle precious bevvies home from faraway locales.

Speaking for myself, I try to swill (way) less suds than I did in, say, college. And yet, I REFUSE to miss this buzzy escapist movement. So while not a fanatic, I AM a fan. So much so that I even sampled the Nut Goody Porter though, frankly, the idea sounded most unappetizing!

I was wrong. I liked it! Which…magically and effervescently brings us back to a taste of the BreakAway Creed: Get off your butt, go somewhere, and try something new. You’ll be glad you did!

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FOTOFRIDAY: Bittersweet Signs of Summer Passing…

Posted on: Friday, September 24th, 2021
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The warm daze always ends too quickly, so savor every morsel, moment, and…memory.

My favorite season always flies away too fast, like the loons on the lake that arrive with bombastic fanfare after ice-out, and then one day just disappear. Away to warmer climes they go, brilliant water birds that they are.

2021 brought a strange summer indeed. Droughts, wildfires, and an on-again/off-again approach to a pandemic without end. Still, I had a blast—even if I begrudgingly became an empty-nester and felt the usual social gatherings were unusually quiet and some people rather…distant.

  • Garden, take me away…

Gardening is one of God’s great BreakAways. And the pandemic sent lots of folks outside, where attention to lawns and plants made a comeback against a more subdued summer pace. I even tried growing tomatoes again. The results were modest, at best; my property needs more sun, even in the summer!

But the lesson in patience was on-point and appropriate. And the prizes? Delicious!

“Only two things that money can’t buy,
That’s true love and homegrown tomatoes.”

~Guy Clark




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FOTOFRIDAY: Weird Weather Upsets Travel Plans

Posted on: Friday, July 30th, 2021
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Mini Donuts Smothered in Orange

That’s the sun about to set, although the full moon this month looked much the same. Dusty orange. In MN, especially when the wind is out of the north, we are the unlucky recipients of dangerous smoke from wildfires Up North and in Canada.

While the suns and moons may look magical, the truth is simply alarming. Today (7-29-91), in fact, MN hit the worst AQI reading on record: 422. Anything over 150 is considered unhealthy for all people, not just those with conditions.

These freaky weather events are disrupting travel, too. In my world, one friend just cancelled a CA visit because the fires are too near the destination. People Up North in the Boundary Waters are being evacuated. Heck, the radio just told us to avoid grilling, minimize driving, and stay indoors if at all possible. Not only is travel hitting speed bumps, so is going outside for ‘some fresh air!’

Well, we all knew that when “things opened up” that it might be fake news. The pandemic is making a most unpopular comeback. The fires and heat look downright dystopian. The good news, of course, is that global warming (er, climate change) is a hoax. And Covid-19? Just another conspiracy, right?

Enjoy the getaways, crowds, and orange sundowns. While we still can.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Hark! Live Music is Back!

Posted on: Friday, July 9th, 2021
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Mick Sterling and 12 musicians perform an outstanding Springsteen tribute show at Crooners, an innovative MN super-club. 

I know. The proper photo would show off euphoric music-head crowds of fans, not the band. But when the proprietor offered me a ringside table, and I had brought my Nikon, my focus turned to the stage.

Oddly enough, this shot came from iPhone—since the setting sun only beamed through the tent opening like that for a few seconds. My Nikon’s monster lens makes for fun closeups and such, but the iPhones hold their own, are QUICK, and know that photography is LIGHT.

Venues are booking—and filling. Artists are giddy and ready to strut their stuff, regardless of genre. Live music once again calls as an ultimate, quickie-Breakaway. And while COVID may have silenced the joyful noise, the sudden boom in shows provides proof that the most inspirational pleasures in life (to paraphrase Buddy Holly) are real…

Won’t fade away…

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FOTOFRIDAY: Full Moon, The Cosmic BreakAway

Posted on: Friday, June 25th, 2021
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In this whirling, churlish world, the full moon remains one peaceful event the whole planet adores.  

The full moon showed her lovely face last (Thursday) night—startlingly radiant in gold and hinting of many nicknames. To Native Americans, June’s ‘strawberry’ moon told them it was time to pick those earthly treats. Today’s paper says the same thing.

These days, we also dub the June orb the Supermoon, since she rides a low, close arc along the sky and ergo glows extra golden and bright. Regardless of where you live, how you vote, or what team you root for, the full moon erases worldly worries and inspires a reverent awe.

No wonder full moon gatherings erupt here, there, and everywhere. During COVID quarantine roundabout, one winter full-moon night brought ~55 neighbors outside for an early sundown, a blazing bonfire, and then a slow moonrise that had the otherwise repressed group cheering, toasting, and—best of all—believing in something bigger than us and…more heavenly.

The parties of late have been, well, much more boisterous and buzzy. Summer has arrived. The cruel plague is retreating. And it’s again safe to hug your pals, hunker down, and howl in rapture and hope. If the Gods stick with us, and we stay stubbornly patient, that’s exactly what can happen when we…

Keep the faith.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Vaxxed and Unmasked, Turtles Bask

Posted on: Friday, May 21st, 2021
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The turtles have had a rough run, but are slowly becoming optimistic.

Like this “Friday” post may be, the turtles were late. A long, dreary spring did little to inspire them to escape their hibernation. And although nobody really likes wearing masks, the turtles proclaimed the practice to be particularly problematic.

So they were palpably relieved when the mask mandate ended, their vaccinations were complete, and the sun finally came out.

Even turtles need BreakAways. And like to take some time to relax in the sun—in the actual company of others. They look elated, don’t they, in that turtle way? Some are even necking and humping.

At least for now, the future looks warm and sunny. Hope you, too, are taking time to rest & relax and hang out with your besties.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Gorgeous Norway, 1994

Posted on: Friday, May 14th, 2021
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Beauty abounds in faraway Norway. You can also find this shot spinning on the homepage carousel!

When I stumbled on a pile of precious photo prints yesterday, my son kindly ran some scans with his new scanner toy, procured at a garage sale. The truth is I have thousands of photos in boxes, wondering if they’ll ever see the light of screen.

This shot was from just another bucolic landscape in rural Norway. I texted my new scan to a California friend who shares my Norwegian heritage and adoration. He replied back, “Do you ever wonder if all those old Norwegians should have stayed over there?”

Oh yes, I do. But when they came to America, they were leaving a land of poverty, hunger, and overly large families (because they expected child deaths and needed helpers) living in cold, tiny cottages.

It’s no longer like that, not at all. In fact, Norway is one of the richest countries in the world—with governmental assets (from oil) in the low trillion$. They can support a sky-high standard of living for all on a modest draw alone—yet they also work hard and are keenly innovative.

Savviest of all: Unlike most countries, the oil money goes to THE PEOPLE. Not the Koch brothers, not BP, not some crown prince.

The wealth (and taxes and things) does make Norway a jarringly expensive country to visit. As the Danes joke when taking a BreakAway to Norway, “Don’t forget your cucumber.” Indeed, the many outdoorsy Euro-tourists who flock to Norway in the summer pack their camper with ample provisions—much to the dismay of tourism businesses.

The oil will run out someday, sooner than later. Yet their financial plan looks sound enough to keep them comfortable into perpetuity. I loved my visit there—which included time with long, lost relatives. Now that travel is resuming, I can put kjaerlig Norge atop my bucket list again.

Can I make it happen? Can I justify the expense? Will you welcome me again, beautiful homeland? One never knows for sure. So for now, I shall daydream with old photos and…

Keep the faith.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Will Our Slumbering Cities Rise and Shine?

Posted on: Friday, April 30th, 2021
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That’s me, at One World Trade Center, a place that stirs both emotions and humility. 

I’ve been talking with friends in big cities lately. The ‘state’ of the city varies depending on the state it’s in. But many, like NYC (pictured here) are still seemingly deserted. Tourism businesses have closed or are barely hanging on. The few people in the streets still sport masks.

Do we miss city chaos? Do we long for crowded subways and traffic jams? Are Times Square and Disneyland atop our bucket lists when (if?) ‘things’ return to normal? And will those soaring skyscrapers (like that monolith in the pic) fill with thousands of workers again?

These are the questions of our times. From my vantage, I hope so. But when travel becomes an easy option for those of us craving a stimulating BreakAway, I’m more excited about Tuscan towns, playful beaches, and undiscovered master chefs. Meantime, we dream on…

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FOTOFRIDAY: Wish You Were Here, Prince

Posted on: Friday, April 23rd, 2021
Posted in: SoulTrain, FOTOFRIDAY, Wily Mktg | Leave a comment

Our local superstar took ownership of our hearts…and the color purple.

Price died 5 years ago, and fans still ache from his unexpected passing—another day the music died. A local radio station pumped his jams from Song 1 to his final release; my personal tribute was to pick up a purple orchid to prompt memories and provide beauty.

I am not alone. IMHO, Prince was (without question) THE consummate musician creator, and performer—probably the best ever. (And I was fortunate to see him many, many times.) Paisley Park allowed some guests yesterday and, as usual, still-grieving fans from all over the world showed up for a mere few moments of presence.

Sometimes I wish that life was never ending.

~ Prince

Music remains the ultimate BreakAway. Listening takes you somewhere else, relieves whatever’s ailing you, and opens your ears and brain to new impressions and possibilities. People in the KNOW say there are at least 8,000 finished, unreleased songs in The Vault. Yet another reason to…

Keep the faith.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Portland’s Natural Popularity

Posted on: Friday, April 9th, 2021
Posted in: Travelog, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

It’s easy to see why Portland’s population has been popping.

Life takes me to Portland next week, as my daughter resumes her search for a college, a chore much compromised by the complications of COVID-19. Thanks to a lifelong friend there, I visit now and then. The city has its share of problems (like homelessness). But also boasts cool things to do and abundant natural beauty.

Seems like it always rains when I’m there, with rare sun sightings and persistent moistness and wind. So, though I live in frozen Minnesota, Portland’s appeal plays hide-and-seek. This time, though, the forecasts predict 60s and sunny. My camera and I look forward to some more comfortable sight-seeing.

Check this out: Portland’s population has grown from ~544,000 in 2000 to ~645,000 in 2020. No wonder some longtime locals all but wear KEEP OUT t-shirts when wandering around waterfalls.

Travel remains arduous, but it’s good to get away again, and to see people stepping out.

Keep the faith.

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