FOTOFRIDAY: Whither Spring Break?

Posted on: Friday, January 14th, 2022
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Life’s a beach! So…where is everyone? Oh yeah. They’re hiding at home, suffering in the hospital, or out scavenging for at-home Covid tests.

People are not happy. What’s there to giggle about? A pandemic that makes people sick, literally, just keeps on keeping on. Inflation threatens pocketbooks yet shelves sit impossibly picked-over. The political mood gets more grotesque by the day, with no sign of peace talks.

And then there’s winter. Sigh. I actually found myself in an argument with a Bostonian recently about who had the ugliest gray snow. I won, but there was no cash or prizes involved.

A guy could go on and on. But why bother? In years past, the lucky ones (and that used to include me, usually) would use these ugly times to plan a spring break. And think about it. A lot.

So instead, if we dare, maybe we’ll look at a picture or two. Like this shot from last year’s spring break (which actually did happen for me, at a resort that was blissfully limited to 33% capacity). And we’ll binge on whatever takes our mind away and helps us…

Keep the faith.

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FOTOFRIDAY: The Ghosts of NYE Past

Posted on: Friday, December 31st, 2021
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, SoulTrain, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

  • A picture dances 1,000 words…so take pics, take breaks, and take nothing for granted.

This picture features my 2 perfect children. On New Year’s Eve, 2017, playing at sundown on a pristine beach on St. John, USVI. The theme here might be, “If you’d have told me…” The punchline is always the same: Do it now…or at least ASAP.

  • If you’d have told me…they fly away

One was back from college out east, so I had seen that disappearance already. But the other was still at home, 6 years younger, and still (relatively) carefree and un-adult. Now she, too, is far away at college. So vacation scenes like that don’t much happen. Obstacles grow like seaweed over time.

  • If you’d have told me…cancer

Oh yeah. On this date, I had just finished several months of several kinds of tumor treatments. So the notion that I somehow managed a getaway during this period seems impossible. And indeed, the worst effects (long illness) politely waited until after returning home. Proving: I’m so glad we went. Even though I was scared to near-death.

  • If you’d have told me…family dissolved

Few things last forever. Including marriage. And when they conclude, that’s usually for the best. Still, that makes doing wild and crazy things (like ditching everything for island Breakaways over holidays…while you still can) more brilliant. Cuz you likely won’t do it when the family is no more. Yet, with any luck, good memories live forever. Trust the pics.

  • If you’d have told me…pandemic

With all the life ch-ch-ch-changes, epic breaks to escape winter become harder than ever. Then enters the trump (no not him) card: Covid. Oh sure, some people still travel. But at their own risk, and with much more effort and hassle. Aren’t you glad you went that place when it was relatively easy? I am.

  • If you’d have told me…passion still matters

Most likely, we’ve all simplified our goals and dreams over the past few years. And that’s….OK. Reality Resets happen throughout life. Sometimes from exterior forces (pandemic), sometimes from inside your own house. But please, keep the passion. Somewhere in your heart, your photo collection, and your hopes for better days ahead.

And when you…finally…arrive at that happy place again, take lots of pics!

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FOTOFRIDAY: Weird Weather Offers Ice Kayak BreakAways

Posted on: Friday, December 17th, 2021
Posted in: Rants & Roadkill, SoulTrain, Unplugging, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

If you conquer fear, you can do dangerous things worry-free! 

As I write this near St. Paul, news radio keeps telling us about yesterday’s weather records: Highest temperature; highest dewpoint; first December tornado(s); first December tornado and severe storm warnings.

Most peculiar. And, as some might say, just another sign that we are in the End Times. If so, there’s a certain relief in that—since most of us have found planning ahead perplexing lately, if not laughable. The 11 Commandments of Fiscal Fitness on this site offers a big-pic, life-loving approach to designing the future. Perhaps it’s time to pen the parody?

Meanwhile, this lake lover ditched the tech-desk and took advantage of recent unseasonal ice thaws—brought on by oddly hot days and strong winds. Only part of the lake turned back to water, so that’s the part I paddled on. Mostly. But as this pic shows, sometimes it’s fun to play close to the edge, too. I’ve even been known to paddle through the ice. Scary? Maybe. But the noise is amazing, rather like crashing a giant cocktail.

When I share pictures like these, some scold me, while others offer advice like, ‘I hope you were wearing a life vest!’ or ‘You better be in a dry suit!’. Nope. I trust my skills—and find stupider things to worry about. Anyway, if these are the end times, why worry about the future? Carpe diem! BreakAway on a sunny day and rejoice in winter warming!

And, now more than ever, keep the faith.

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Portland Provides a Pepper-Upper BreakAway

Posted on: Monday, December 6th, 2021
Posted in: Travelog, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

You’ll see it all in P-Town, even perky water-bikes at sunrise!

My daughter chose Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, and has acclimated swimmingly to a life of higher learning, new friendships, and next-level soccer. It was my fault she ended up here; a lifelong friend I visit has resided there for decades, and our gatherings and outings create the stuff of priceless memories—since age 5. 

Now I can get there even more often—this pic is from last month—and like savvy repeat travelers, seek to create a home away from home yet keep hiking new trails. That’s proven easy in Portland. Available outings extend like the mountainous vistas; the past is alive; and backdrops burst with curious stories. As for the people? They’re warm, weird, and friendly—see Portlandia, the TV series.

Unfortunately, like so many urban centers, the downtown has suffered from the firestorms of Covid and political riots (to simplify: Anarchists vs. Antifa). And the homeless are countless, if usually harmless. But locals keep up the good fight of rebirth, and it’s easy to find welcoming places and feel safe enough. There’s something unique and intriguing around every corner.

My ‘home’ is near the college, just outside of the city. Lake Oswego has a funky, call it kitschy, ‘old’ lakeside hotel, the Lakeshore Inn, with a decidedly 70s (my salad years!) flair, worry-erasing views, and a super-short walk to a world-class (and rather tony) village. Or just stroll waterside to Stickmen, the convivial brewpub and bbq next door.

If travel seems rougher as age and pandemic pains increase, arriving at this town serves me an instant tonic. And for those of us living car-centric lives to go most anywhere, carousing a well-endowed neighborhood on foot is itself a rare treat. There’s almost something Swiss-y about this place.

About those charming water-bikes. When I awoke with time-zone and stayed-out-too-late blurry eyes one sunny morning, this was my first sight as I flung open my shades. So I knew it would be a good day. Pastries at a French bakery…enthusiastically attending a victory for my little girl’s new soccer team and meeting many parents…some evermore precious time with my daughter…life is good.

Travel is good, too, despite the hassles and hazards. Now if I could only find me one of those cool water-bikes…

PS Watch for more Portland pics and tales in a follow-up post soon!

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Supply Chain Mess Hits Home

Posted on: Friday, December 3rd, 2021
Posted in: Rants & Roadkill, Work/Life Hacking, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment
The post-it says: The bigger the headache, the bigger the pill

Don’t ever travel. Or leave home. You learn about things, yes! But never forget: You must go home again. And…you will encounter things you didn’t want to know about, like the supply chain.

Who knew that was a thing? Well, now we all do. At least when the fridge decides to die. Or you need a car part that is nowhere to be found. Or the SuperTarget isn’t so super and hasn’t stocked your prescribed vitamin or favorite hot sauce in months.

I can’t figure out if we’ve become spoilt brats. Or if this stubborn frustration is yet another sign that the world is coming to an end. Both/And, maybe? May we remember that for many residents of this planet, these are First World Problems. Sobering…But does that solve the problems?

Not in this case. At least that’s how I felt when coming back from a recent short BreakAway visiting the parents. So lovely, until I walked in my house…The rotten food. The cleanup. The umpteen hours I spent trying to find a fridge that would fit, the countless reps along the way who could only laugh at my naiveté, and the 6 weeks and countless screw-ups the whole debacle endured.

Folks, there’s a fridge freeze-up. Warn your belly.

I ended up—eventually—procuring an overpriced, lower-end appliance that didn’t exactly fit. And ripping up part of my house to get it in. I’d be surprised if it’s still functional in 5 years.

And I couldn’t be happier.

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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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