FOTOFRIDAY

FOTOFRIDAY: Summer, Like the Lake Lily, Will Fall

Posted on: Friday, September 30th, 2022
Posted in: SoulTrain, Unplugging, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

One month ago to the day, the lakes (the lucky ones!) were abloom with these indigenous lilies that take your breath away and beg loudly to pose in the sun.

The lovely White Water Lily, so common on MN lakes and vital to their ecosystem, has now ceased blooming and begun its descent into, well, fall. My kayak has lots of lily friends, so we hang out quite often. They host a great environment for meditating (meaning: catch a tan…and some vitamin D). Who needs the trendy lotus, wherever they are?

I snapped this pic with the iPhone 13 and did a bit of editing later. I still find myself in discussions (debates?) of 35mm, film, digital, phone camera brands, what have ya. Sure, my opinions can make a modest splash like the waves around the lilies. But in the end, a good shot is a good shot.

IMHO, this is a pretty good shot. FBOW, I have hundreds of lily portraits. The lilies always shout, “Take a picture of me.” Then the ones over there shout louder, “No! Me!” And so it goes. They all deserve their moment. And I love staring at the images later, when the blooms have begun to sink slowly to the muddy bottom, rather like a SAD reaction to fall…

But hey, we’ve got the pics to reminisce. And remind us that this whole annual upheaval remains as natural as the lily’s fragile cycle. Did you know these blossoms each last only one day? Well, now you do!

The seasonal changes can feel almost violent here in MN. We try to like the drama; helps us know that time is passing. Like life itself. So seize the day. And snap that picture.

Speaking of weather violence, the BreakAway staff sends love and hope to the people and nature of Florida. Sanibel…Captiva…the Keys… Manatees, pelicans, dolphins showing off alongside our sailboat… So many still-palpable memories. And surely many fine pics, dating back to my first visit (for a spring break) in 1980…

May all that precious nature somehow survive and revive. Keep the faith.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Low Cut Connie…Incomparable Creative Combustion!

Posted on: Friday, September 9th, 2022
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Meet Adam. Leader of …a band? A dance party? An improv troupe? A bunch of giddy prodigies? Yes!  

Most people don’t know this band. But I do…

Adam Weiner and his band (Low Cut Connie). helped me live through Covid. And I told him so. Among the brilliant things he and they have done: When Covid hit and his tours got postponed, he performed over 100 1-2x/week livestreams from his spare bedroom in South Philly.

That show was called Tough Cookies, one of many his brilliant branding and performing offshoots. A cult grew, from all over the world. We wrapped our virtual arms around each other, took catharsis and livestream spectacle to new levels, and left each show with a euphoria and faith that, YES! We are Tough Cookies…we still love life…and We Will Survive!

TOUGH COOKIES is a concert, a church service, a support group, a strip club, a punk club, but mostly a SOUL MUSIC VARIETY SHOW.

Now the band is back on the road. Thank God. Because live music may be the ultimate BreakAway, where your worries wash away through the cosmic gift of song and verse and dance and risk.

Low Cut Connie, who embodies all that magnificently, did a two-night stand at the MN State Fair last week. The lucky crowd had an unbridled blast, even if newbies’ eyeballs popped out and groupie dancers collided.

Best of all, the explosive band had even more fun than us. Which is way more contagious than Covid.

Little Richard meets Mr. Rogers

~ The New Yorker

To paraphrase Star Tribune’s critic Jon Bream, “Low Cut Connie is part Springsteen, part Meat Loaf and 100% rock and roll.” Right on. No wonder The New Yorker dubbed him Pandemic Person of the Year.

I second that emotion. And will treasure my Covid-show memories, 1-1 moments with the band, and recent photos worth more than 10,000 words.

Rock on.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Picture Roulette…Returning to College

Posted on: Friday, August 26th, 2022
Posted in: SoulTrain, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

A new student steps through the historical arches and into the metaphorical portals of her life-changing BreakAway for higher education.

In my world, the mind is racing, the desk is a neglected mess, and this sunny day screams for some overdue yardwork. So I let my puter roll like a shot machine to choose this FOTOFRIDAY. Imagine my surprise when, out of 70,000+ digital images, the Gods landed on the August 2015 weekend I took my favorite (and only) son to college at Princeton.

Cosmic? Just this morning, my favorite (and only) daughter left to fly away to college at Lewis & Clark (Portland). I was not a part of this posse—just one of the many perks and pains of a broken family. My house seems quiet and empty already, though I try to avoid the verklempt. But no matter what, I STILL BELIEVE IN EDUCATION. Emphatically so.

Learning. It’s complicated. And getting complicated-er. Thanks to Covid, more than 50% of the students in MN high schools are now wa-a-a-a-ay behind standards for math and well, everything. Meanwhile, Biden is wiping out $280 billion in student debt. Nice. For those with the lucky timing to qualify—not me, not my kids, no one I know. Education costs a lot.

Is it fair? Of course not. Life is not fair. College teaches that. And so much more—the most memorable and meaningful having little to do with books, and more about inspirational teachers, best friends that last forever, card games and cold pizza at midnight, and mastering the art of juggling competing demands and emotional thunderstorms.

College remains, without question, one of the ultimate potential BreakAways of a lifetime. Imagine: 4 years of Ivory Tower living and learning, somewhere away from home, with new besties and lovers and beer bashes at your fingertips. Oh sure, there are risks and jerks and a million things that can go wrong. But smart students learn: It’s what I make of it.

That’s what BreakAways are all about. Most of us envy you these youthful learners. So hey, students: Take this precious gift seriously (moreso than yourself). Open your minds to weird opportunities and people. See the world. Change the world. Turn those roots into wings and help fly us all into a better future.

We’re counting on you!

PS And above all, have fun.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Sailing into a Yachty Sunday of Yore…

Posted on: Friday, August 12th, 2022
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, Travelog, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

If the wind is right, you can sail away…and find serenity. ~Christopher Cross

When in San Fran recently, I snapped this pic, and these sailboats blew up a priceless flashback from my memory bank…

Years ago, I found myself in San Francisco on a glorious, sunny Sunday. With friends who lived there, new and old. The two main sailors had been dear friends since Day 1 of college, and had become master sailors as youth on Lake Superior. Both had embarked on major voyages—including one who’d traversed over from Europe with parents and six siblings!

  • SUB: California daydreamin’

Being spontaneous, free-living Cali types, they mused, “What a day! We should go sailing!” So we did, thanks to a boat rental firm they both knew and used. In no time, we were crashing through heavy waves and winds, ditching monstrous barges, and dodging the smart-ass, daredevil windsurfers who would dart in close to splash us (and loved to ride the barges’ tsunamis).

We started deep in the bay, running gradually against a stiff wind toward the bridge and sea. Though we had to be back by dark, Captain G said, “What do ya say, we’ve GOT to get under that bridge, right!?!”

  • Keeping an unevel keel

We all agreed, cheered the ballsy challenge, and braced ourselves. Then we tacked, leaning sideways, back and forth—sometimes barely making forward progress—and confronting evermore angry barges as the bay got skinnier and each beast seemed determined to nonchalantly wipe us out like a rambunctious boy playing with toyboats in the bathtub.

Did we make it? Of course we did. Just as the sun went down, naturally. So we enjoyed a boisterous group hug while staring up at the legendary Golden Gate Bridge, turned the vessel about, and raced back to the marina by dark (almost)—thanks to now having…the wind at our backs.

FOTOFRIDAY parable summary: The bigger the memory bank, the richer the life.

Please keep investing.

Happy sails…

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FOTOFRIDAY: Cheers to the Humble Kayak!

Posted on: Friday, July 29th, 2022
Posted in: SoulTrain, Unplugging, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

The swift, spacious Bayliner runabout of my future remains on hold. Until then, a kayak always offers a dreamy ride.

Kayaking is booming. And why not? They’re eco-friendly, easy to schlep around, provide exercise, and promise a delightful time for most anyone with two arms and sense of … balance.

On this summer evening, I expected a boat party invitation (or two). But alas, folks were out of town, out to dinner, or running out of the frenzy that erupts during those early giddy weeks of boating season. I knew what to do: Jump in and paddle out into the warm setting sun.

Oh sure, I missed the friends and laughter and booming tunes. But I instead savored a simple, solo bliss. And there was little risk of feeling lonely, as the local loon couple stopped by to warble hello before soon flying south for their annual snowbirding BreakAway.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Have a Day in San Fran’s Tadich Grill

Posted on: Friday, June 17th, 2022
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, Travelog, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

This shot offers a rare view of the iconic seafood joint at rest, since the place is always packed to the, er, gills.

Few destinations promise a mini-BreakAway as intoxicating as a good restaurant. Especially for those of us that have worked (and visited) dining establishments as a way of life and, at times, obsession.

Tadish Grill, serving San Francisco since 1849, fits the bill. As their website states and your experience confirms, you get Large Portions…Fresh Ingredients…Fun atmosphere. I loved it, but so obviously did every other person cherishing their lost-in-time meal there. Even the waiters were like something from a Bogart movie. Talk about great people watching!

So I spent a day there last winter when on vakay in SF. Yes, a day. I met a few longtime friends for late lunch. One, a regular patron, had arranged a spacious, private booth. We lingered over a long, luscious meal of seafood courses and fine California wines. As the lunch crowd slowly left, we stayed on. Until we were the only table left…and this picture became possible.

At around 4:00, people started trickling in again. And the place became full by 5. The wine kept pouring, the conversation moreso. We actually pondered staying on for dinner. But, no, we eventually found the bright, busy streets. And stopped in to enjoy a few classic hotel bars for more conviviality and catching up as the day turned to night.

You can’t do this kind of BreakAway often. But I’ll remember the experience as long as I live. And with any luck, have another chance some day to return to Tadish.

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FOTOFRIDAY: CDC Opens Up Re: Testing Requirement 

Posted on: Friday, June 10th, 2022
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, Work/Life Hacking, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment
Quarantined in leave Italy and think you’ll have a view like this? Think again!
  • Finally! You can ditch the jitters about getting stuck in lockdown somewhere

Quickly and quietly, the Biden Administration and the CDC have announced that you won’t have to provide proof of a negative C19 test to get back into the USA. Whew! Having travelled internationally a few times during Covid, I can attest to the angst of wondering…am I going to get stranded in a hotel room for a week or two, maybe more?

The new rules take effect on midnight, Sunday. No more will moms need to drive from Minneapolis to the Mayan Riviera to rescue a kid who got stuck sick on spring break…and then sneak him into the US at the US/MX border! (Yes, I know someone who did that.) 

People are already traveling like lemmings to Amsterdam, Paris, Rome—the usual prospects. The airlines are printing money again, while using high gas prices and inflation babble as a reason to raise fares and make (even) more money. But now? Expect the numbers—all of them—to, uh, skyrocket.

Budgets aside, this is great news for travelers.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Savor Your Sacred Spaces

Posted on: Friday, May 20th, 2022
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, SoulTrain, Travelog, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

Sunsets always impress at Sutherland Park in Sioux City—that’s in Iowa. 

How many times have I gathered with friends to throw frisbee, swill beer, play guitars, sing songs, take pics, kick off reunion opening ceremonies, hug through closing ceremonies, and (of course) watch the sun set? How many times have I done variations on those themes with my own kids or…alone?

Who knows? But the number would be staggering. And each visit feels sacred; I still travel to Sioux City often to visit my parents and others, and no visit there is complete without a BreakAway to that park. I make time, no matter the flurry of reality, and feel a profound gratitude for simple priorities and spaces.

The park has a history, naturally. In a way hilly town, this park sits atop one of the highest elevations and once had a functioning water reservoir underneath it, before water towers. Then the name changed—along with a few trivial details. But otherwise, it’s just a huge, grassy, glorious, flat space with a view of forever. And that includes Nebraska, South Dakota, endlessly rolling hills, and more.

Worries blow away there, while memories suddenly swirl inside the head, heart, and soul.

Is this heaven? Yes, and it’s Iowa. It’s also just a park. A nearly-forgotten place. And it is sacred. Please stop by your sacred spaces soon.

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FOTOFRIDAY: Hola Mazatlán!

Posted on: Friday, April 29th, 2022
Posted in: Travelog, FOTOFRIDAY | Leave a comment

Mazatlán boasts countless beautiful sculptures along the waterside. More than pelicans, maybe?

When a reunion of old friends got scheduled for late April, my initial impression was…Too late! By then, with any luck, the green is glowing and the tulips are dancing in MN. But this year…there is no such luck. It’s 38F with sleet at home, so I’m happy to be in Mazatlán. Here, the temps this week will range from 63 – 83. Clouds? Ain’t seen none yet!

I’ve been here before, and usually come as a lazy tourist eager to soak up sun, sand, and surf. So I’d make a lousy tour guide. Still, I know a lot about the place from observation and osmosis. One thing I know: This gritty city (yet golden in the right, rich places) has a LOT of sculptures. Most in a certain style, perhaps by the same artist or era?

Research will follow. When I get home and am back stuck indoors. For today, and there IS only today, I’ll snap the pics and enjoy the warmth and sights—highlighted by the artworks along Mazatlán’s 5.6 mile malecon. See! I do know a few factoids!

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FOTOFRIDAY: The Como Conservatory Minni-BreakAway

Posted on: Friday, April 15th, 2022
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Winters are fierce in Minnesota. So lush greenscapes like Como’s Conservatory radiate a quick dose of sun and sanity.

FOTOFRIDAY today lauds one of our local treasures around here: Como Park, which features all kinds of things—the most visited park in MN, an 18 hole golf course, a killer outdoor music venue (on a lake with rentable little watercraft), some eateries and shops, and—best of all—the glorious Como Conservatory. Take the whole family. Often!

Sniff real flowers. Bask in the trickling waters and stare back at the turtles. Inhale the deliciously sultry air in the fern room. Feel agog in the bonsai and orchid rooms. And above all, soak in some rare green during the 5.5+ months that MN goes dormant, dark, and dank.

St. Paul created this masterpiece starting in 1915. The conservatory has been through a few disasters (like a huge hailstorm), but also ongoing additions and improvements. It’ll set you back $0 US to visit, though donations are welcome. This essential winter survival strategy will forever remain…Highly Recommended!

PS Bonus FF pic (though he really deserves his own post)…Yes, Como Conservatory has a sloth. When you go, can you find him? That’s part of the fun! He rarely moves, eats, or poops, yet always fascinates fans and leaves us with hopeful grins.

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