Sauk Centre Journal Archive
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Sunday, December 29, 2008. I haven't been out much since last weekend, although I did notice that the new Ace Hardware's decorative roof is moving toward completion.
We haven't had much snow for the last few days, but there's still plenty left from the last snowfall.
My wife got herself a snowblower for Christmas this year. Mostly, she's had our son use it. One of his tasks was to cut paths around the garage, to a shed. He did a fine job, removing the snow, and rasped a fraction of an inch of sod off in the process. I admire people who maintain beautiful, even, lawns: but this is one time I'm particularly glad that I'm not one of them.
If this season follows the usual pattern, people will keep their Christmas displays lit through New Year's, and then most will close things down until next year. Between family excitement and entertaining some sort of a bug, I'm not likely to get out to take many photos. Happily, I got some earlier.
Friday, December 26, 2008. Merry Christmas, a Day Late.
On top of all the usual seasonal distractions, my second-oldest daughter's boyfriend proposed Christmas Eve. And, she said 'yes.'
I'll be back, I trust, tomorrow or Sunday, (good grief! it's Friday already), with a less woefully incomplete entry.
Sunday, December 21, 2008. More snow this weekend, and quite sincerely cold weather, made me decide that I didn't need to grill lunch. With the thermometer getting up to zero, and a twenty-something mile an hour wind, I think I made the right decision.
Christmas is coming Thursday. And it's almost certainly going to be a white Christmas this year.
That's about it for now, except for this thought: It's easy for me to enjoy the snow: I'm not the one who shovels it.
Our Lady of the Angels had the Christmas tree lighting ceremony tonight. We've learned from the 2005 incident, where the tree clipped the priest and the deacon got star-struck. Literally. The tree is inconspicuously, but firmly, tethered to the wall.
That tree isn't moving, unless the wall goes with it.
Which it didn't, happily.
I plan to add the usual Wednesday entry this week, but in case I don't, Merry Christmas!
Wednesday, December 17, 2008. We had the first winter storm of the season this week. By my reckoning, it started late last week, but the serious snow and spectacular cold was mostly Monday and Tuesday. I read that St. Cloud tied a record, getting down to -24. Cool! I've read that we got around five inches of snow around here. Other areas got eight or more.
School was two hours late yesterday: smart move, I'd say. This household's car needed a new battery, and the van's starter gave out in the Holiday parking lot on Monday. My guess is that we're not the only ones with vehicle problems. Even my second daughter's car wouldn't start - today, I think that was. And it's the newest of the lot.
That's about it for now, except for this thought: It's easy for me to enjoy the snow: I'm not the one who shovels it.
Sunday, December 14, 2008. I've been under the weather most of this week. Between that, and the weekend's weather, I didn't get to grill once.
I've heard that parts of Minnesota got something like eight inches of snow this
weekend, but around here it was more like three to five inches.
Hats off to everyone who kept stores open through this storm.
I think that a new assisted living place on the north side, Fairway Pines, was going to have something like an open house today. If that's so, they sure picked the wrong day.
Thursday, December 11, 2008. The band concert for the grade 6 through 12 bands was at the high school auditorium this Monday.
There wasn't the overflow crowd we had for the Christmas program, but quite a few people came.
Grades 6 through 9 had their own bands, and there was the Junior High Jazz band (Joy To The World, with personality!), Senior High Jazz Band (one piece was a re-arrangement of something b Beethoven), and the Senior High Band.
Between all those bands, each playing at least two pieces, and music that wasn't exactly simple, it was an ambitious program. And, it worked. I thoroughly enjoyed the concert: from "My Two Front Teeth" and "Rock On Merry Gents" to Prokofiev's "Midnight Sleighride."
One of the guys in the percussion section was either having a terrible time getting his music and drum sticks in the same area - let alone organized.
More likely, we were looking at some well-done physical comedy. The conductor stayed calm, and the audience laughed, happily.
I've been under the weather this week, so that's it for now. See you Sunday: That's the plan, anyway.
Sunday, December 7, 2008. We've got a good chance of getting a white Christmas, the way this week has gone. Snow has been falling over the weekend - and, more to the point, over Sauk Centre.
Not much: less than an inch, I'd say, but quite enough to cover the grass. And, give my son an opportunity to go outside and get some exercise, shoveling the sidewalk. He told me that he had fun. The snow was dry and powdery, he explained, and when he threw a shovel-full in the air, it sometimes looked like a ghost.
The high point of the week, for me, was the elementary school's Christmas show: "Santa's Holiday Hoedown" this year. Strictly speaking, that's what the fifth and sixth grade musical presentation was called, with kindergarten through grade four, plus the fifth and sixth grade choir, singing two songs each.
There was a "Barbershop" section, too.
The kids did a fine job - and so did the audience. A family near me quite prudently let their two toddlers quietly run in circles when they were inspired by the faster-paced songs.
After the show, my son and I went to the Soo Bahk Do class, and rejoined the rest of the in-town part of the family.
That's not all that happened during the week, of course, but it's all I'm going to write about. Good night!
Friday, December 5, 2008. At the rate I'm going, I don't expect to get Wednesday's entry done until Sunday. See you then! I should have a photo or two from the Christmas show at the school.
Sunday, November 30, 2008. Christmas season has started: Advent candles have been lit in churches and homes, and red-and-green garlands with big red bows and their little tiny lights are lit on Main Street - and Sinclair Lewis Avenue, too.
It's not all greenery and holiday lights. The new Ace Hardware store is getting closer to being ready. They've got the roof decoration's framework up. And, happily for the video store next door, took down the construction tarp.
I understand that an Ace Hardware store is going in, next to Coborn's Video. A crew was working on the front of the building on Monday. I can't say that I envy guys with jobs that put them on a roof in late October.
Quite a few folks around town have their Christmas displays up and lit already. Or inflated, as the case may be.
That's all for now. I had a big Thanksgiving holiday with the family, and need to get some rest.
Thursday, November 27, 2008. Have a Happy Thanksgiving Day!
Thought for the day: What if turkeys got organized?
Wednesday, November 26, 2008. Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day.
And, Sauk Centre has its holiday season street decorations up. I really appreciate those green-and-red garlands on the sort of gray days we've been having. They're great on bright blue days like today, too, of course.
I understand that an Ace Hardware store is going in, next to Coborn's Video. A crew was working on the front of the building on Monday. I can't say that I envy guys with jobs that put them on a roof in late October.
It's getting late, so I'll wrap this entry up now.
Have a happy Thanksgiving!
Sunday, November 23, 2008. I knew I forgot something this week! No Wednesday entry. Sorry about that. I had a cold, and had some extra work to do. That's my story, and I'm sticking with it.
Winter is definitely coming. Docks are out of the lake, down in the park and campground.
Stores have their Christmas displays up. Including something that is either new, or that I missed last year: Combination soft drink bottles and Christmas tree ornaments.
I like to think that I'm open to new ideas: but this strikes me as a little, well, odd. Sure, they'd work, once you emptied them, as ornaments. but: why? It's a cute gimmick, though.
Gas prices are still going down. I know that this can't last, but I'm enjoying the experience while I can.
Yesterday we had what I call 'cat track snow:' just enough so that a cat might leave tracks. What was actually on the front walk were rabbit tracks, though.
I drove my wife and the two kids who are at home to the Fall 2008 Soo Bahk Do Championships in St. Cloud today. The event took a bit longer than I expected, but was worth the time.
I went to the parent-teacher conference Monday night. In an informal way, it's a community event. Parents meet each other, talk. And, of course, the business of teachers and parents comparing notes gets done.
What I call the winter session of school has just gotten going, so we have a four-day weekend for Thanksgiving. I suppose there's a really good reason why it's scheduled like that, but it felt like the winter session started twice, back when I was in school: and it still feels that way. Time to quit: I'm running out of Sunday.
Please be patient with me: the odds are pretty good that I'll remember to write Wednesday's entry this week.
Sunday, November 16, 2008. It's been a great weekend for me: The two oldest daughters were here, making this one of those increasingly rare occasions when 'the whole family' is under the roof.
That didn't help get this entry written, though, so it's going to be a little short.
Work is going on in front of Coborn's video store. Looks like they're either taking up the pavement, doing a King-Kong-size patch - or something else.
And, there's now a concrete pad on the west side of the building that Coborn's video is in. Don't know what it's going to be used for, but there was some of that metal siding stacked there on Friday.
And, there was a somewhat stiff north wind. As I was rolling up to the parking lot entrance, one of the sheets of siding went airborne, bounced off the pavement in front of a car that was leaving, and clanged to rest in the other lane.
The driver stopped to let the siding go by, calm and collected as if he played dodge-em with sheets of siding every day.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008. Memorial Day, as we're calling Armistice Day these days, has come and gone, along with the usual display of flags downtown. I appreciated those splashes of color. It's been a gray week, so far.
I was in Melrose yesterday morning: they're putting up a sizeable hospital expansion, and I think they've got a new fire and ambulance building near the Interstate.
Light snow was coming down yesterday morning. I discovered that it was thawing and re-freezing on the pavement. Exciting. A Sauk Centre fire truck and a tanker went screaming onto the Interstate at a deliberate pace, headed west, as I got back to Sauk Centre. My guess is that at least one of the drivers who hadn't noticed, or were ignoring, the ice had learned about inertia the hard way.
Thanksgiving isn't as big a decorating event as Halloween and Christmas, but that doesn't stop some households from getting something out in the yard.
The schools made a four-day weekend out of the break between terms. It won't be long until it's time for Thanksgiving break. And Christmas. And New Year's. This can be a hectic time of year.
Sunday, November 9, 2008. Snow came down Saturday: enough to fill in space between the taller blades of grass.
Gas prices are lower than I've seen them in a long time, It's not just here. It was a dollar ninety-nine nine up in Moorhead when I filled the tank this afternoon, just like here in Sauk Centre.
I was out of town most of yesterday and today, so this is going to be a short entry. It's late, and I'm not a forty-year-old kid any more.
I'll have another entry ready Wednesday night, God willing.
Thursday, November 6, 2008. Snow is on the ground in South Dakota as I write this: quite a bit, I gather. Snow was on the ground in March of 2007, when I saw several pairs of shoes on overhead lines, over on Birch Street.
They're back. Not the same pairs, I assume: but the same stunt's been done. In the same place.
My guess is that shoes like that still go for thirty to fifty dollars a pair. For someone in my income bracket, that's not chicken feed. Actually, for this household, that's likely the equivalent of a couple day's meals decorating the utility cable.
Sure: It's just youthful hijinks. At least, I have trouble imagining an adult bothering to do something like this. And, I've got to admit that there's something funny about high-flying shoes. On the other hand, I'm one generation away from the Great Depression, and inherited an attitude about waste.
I voted Tuesday, like quite a lot of folks in Sauk Centre. My wife and #3 daughter voted in the morning. I think about 500 people had already voted by the time they got there. When I got there, later in the afternoon, I was voter # 1,181. The ballot reader has a counter over the paper feed.
I voted in City Hall, down in the big meeting room. Hats off to everyone who worked there: Running an election's a real job.
There's still work going on around Coborn's. I'm not sure what they're up to now, but it involved making quite a mess in front of Coborn's Video.
I finally stopped in at iWANT COMMUNICATIONS/Verizon Wireless last Saturday. They had their grand opening last week.
This isn't likely to last, but gas prices are still going down. That's fine by me: I've got some serious driving coming up.
Well, that's it for the "Wednesday" entry. God willing, I'll be back with more, Sunday night.
Sunday, November 2, 2008. We endured the 'fall back' part of day light saving time this weekend, i Want Communications had their grand opening this week, and stores have replaced Halloween products with Thanksgiving and Christmas displays, but today I'm going to concentrate on Jack 'o lanterns.
It's just about Monday: Back to work.
Friday, October 31, 2008. Happy Halloween!
I went trick-or-treating with my son tonight, and had an excellent time. He was impressed by how nice people were. So was I, but I also thought the Halloween decorations were pretty special. Here's a sample.
There's more, but I need to save some for Sunday night.
Thursday, October 30, 2008. I ended Sunday's entry with "I expect to be back with an entry sometime late Wednesday." Ha! At least, this time I got something out Thursday.
Tomorrow's Halloween. I'm hoping the weather holds. Most of this week has been "October's bright blue weather." With the occasional morning frost.
Gas prices? They're still going down. I can't say that I'm too upset about that. Actually, I'm quite glad. When I topped off the van's tank today, there were quite a few other folks at the station, doing the same thing. I know: this won't last, but for now it's good news.
Main Street has a new, smooth, asphalt surface. Which now has traffic markings on it. It's rather nice, knowing where the lanes are. Not as exciting, but nice.
I don't know if it's the lane markings, or what: but it seems that I've seen more drivers actually stopping for pedestrians in crosswalks. Now, that's good news.
The Stearns County Highway Department unit, down between "Rivers Edge" and the River, is getting ready for winter. They've been shoving sand around, off and on, for quite a while.
I saw a sign for a dry cleaning company in the Coborn's window the other day. That outfit is offering to clean military uniforms and flags for free, through Veteran's Day. Good for them.
Once in a while, I hear about how isolated small towns are: cut off from the cultural mainstream. Unlike people who live in cities, small town folks are supposed to be ignorant of the wit and sophistication that flows through the streets of America's great urban centers.
A century or so ago, that might have been true. Now, not so much. First National Bank of Sauk Centre has a branch in Coborn's. A display screen there was proof that Sauk Centre citizens are exposed to the same high culture and sophisticated entertainment as city folks.
I'd better stop writing now. This Halloween is going to be my son's last one for trick-or-treating: and I intend to walk along with him and enjoy it.
I'd say 'I'll be back Sunday,' but with my record lately ---.
Sunday, October 26, 2008. I'd been told to park in the back of Main Street Press, when I came in Tuesday, to get a bulletin printed. Main Street, at least from the river, south through downtown, was being chewed up and re-paved.
The Coborn's Pharmacy drive-through is still almost done. It's been that way for a while now. I've been told that when the orange traffic cones are gone, that'll be a sign that it's open for business
Gas prices are still going down here in Sauk Centre: and most places, I hear. I felt so good about that, I took a photo to commemorate the occasion.
And, since it looks like winter is just about ready to take over, here's some of this season's autumn color.
It's getting late, and this is as good a place to stop as any. Goodnight, and have a good week. I expect to be back with an entry sometime late Wednesday.
Saturday, October 25, 2008. Unless something unusual happens, I'll have an entry ready Sunday night. Late Sunday night.
That's not a very firm assurance, considering how the last week or so has gone at this household. I wrote a little about it on Wednesday, in a blog. Late Wednesday. It was Thursday before I was done. (That post is titled, "Thursday: Catching Up; and Catching My Breath")
We'll see if I actually get this updated on Sunday night.
Thank you for your patience, by the way.
Sunday, October 19, 2008. We haven't been having quite so much of "October's bright blue weather" lately. I don't mind the rain, though: it'll help the new grass get through the winter.
It's a little hard to read all the the Bourbon Street Restaurant & Lounge sign, but I think the part they really want you to notice is the flag that says, "OPEN." Bourbon Street R. & L. is actually on 12th Street south, on the east side of The Palms motel.
I topped off the van's gas tank this afternoon. Quite a few other people had the same idea. I had to wait quite a while, for someone to put almost thirty gallons in their vehicle.
I think it may have had something to do with the price that gasoline has gotten down to.
There's more, but it'll have to wait until Wednesday.
Thursday, October 16, 2008. I didn't plan it this way, but getting the Wednesday entry out today let me add this photo.
The street work downtown on Tuesday problably had something to do with the traffic lights. It looked like the crew there was putting in some of those sensors that let the control mechanism tell whether or not there's a vehicle in the left turn lane.
A crew on the bridge, a couple blocks north, was getting something done before winter. What, I don't know.
Halloween's coming. Coborn's had a fancy walk-through display set up: bats, ghosts, and a not-for-sale mini-mummy.
And, of course, Monster Manor's coming back, down at the Fairgrounds. It's been years since it was on the second floor of the old Main Street Drug.
Jitters Java has been turning the room on the north side of its building into a wine and beer bar. It's taking shape nicely. I understand that there have been a few parties there already, and a weekly Yoga class.
That reminds me. The local Soo Bahk Do class has some new, and returning, members. I ran into them when I took my son to a session a couple of weeks ago.
There's probably more, but it's late and I still have a couple of jobs to do. I'll be back Sunday. I trust.
Sunday, October 12, 2008. October's bright blue weather this weekend was damp, grimly overcast, and occasionally raining. That's okay, though: it didn't keep me from grilling lunch both days, and probably did our new grass a world of good.
Trees are still turning colors. The rain's gotten quite a few leaves of the trees and onto the grass, but we've still got a nice display.
Coborn's Pharmacy drive-through is another step or three closer to being ready. The phones and displays were in place on Friday. And, I see that they're using a pneumatic-tube delivery system. I can see how the prescriptions get out to the drive-through. I'm not so clear on how the containers get back.
I'll grant that I'm assuming that prescriptions will be in some sort of container on their way out. Blasting a paper bag full of little plastic bottles of pills down those tubes, without some sort of protection, doesn't seem like the best idea.
I knew that the folks at Coborn's treat us well, but it's good to know that the Coborn's chair thinks so, too. A sign in the 'employees only' part of Sauk Centre's Coborn's is a 'thank you' from the manager to everyone else in the store, for the "exceptional customer service" that won the store a runner-up plaque.
I wouldn't have noticed that sign, except that someone left the door open. It's right next to the rest rooms. That's probably too much information.
On my way out, I noticed the official plaque. I think whoever designed that plaque might have made it more clear that it's the people at the store that are outstanding: not the location, so much: but that's quibbling. It's good to see a local store's staff get recognized.
Have I mentioned that I like the autumn colors?
St. Paul's church, down on Sinclair Lewis Avenue, is doing a little more than window maintenance. They've added a sign at the back, by the handicapped parking spaces, showing Mass and Confession times. Good idea, I think.
Funny: We say, "handicapped parking space," but the parking space isn't handicapped at all.
I know I've written this before, but I really like autumn colors.
Our Lady of the Angels church had a Polka Mass today. This time, it was a band from Cashton, Wisconsin, Gary Brueggen & the Ridgeland Dutchmen, who provided the music. They came prepared, with a keyboard, a tuba, two accordions, drums and cymbals.
It was a fine experience, hearing those oom-pahs ring through the church. I'll admit to being biased, but I think a tuba adds valuable oomph to the oom-pahs.
Tomorrow is Columbus Day, officially. Which means that the banks and the post office won't be open. I think the holiday suffers a bit from coming right before the Halloween-Thanksgiving-Christmas-New Year's blitz. It's hard to get too excited, knowing that four occasions for buying glitzy decorations and special food are lurking on the calendar.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008. The last couple of days have been rather typical Minnesota autumn days: bright blue skies, dreary overcast with on-and-off drizzle all day, picturesque cloud drifting in the sun; all in no particular order.
Down by the lake yesterday, I saw gulls and ducks sharing the fishing pier. They'd sorted themselves into a sort of two-tier arrangement, with ducks on the ground floor and gulls in the penthouse.
Minnow and Jason are a proud couple. They had a boy, back on the 28th. This isn't news, of course: anyone walking by Eyes on Main, downtown, this week has seen the sign.
Autumn is here. Even without the (for me) comfortable temperatures and leaves turning color, I'd know what season it is. The sun is skidding southwards. Each sunrise is a little more to the right as I look out the window.
The Coborn's pharmacy drive-through is moving along. This week, a couple of guys were putting trim on the roof. We can see what it's going to look like, now.
Over a hundred years ago, Helen Hunt wrote a poem called "October's Bright Blue Weather." That phrase is a good way to describe October's cheery mood. I'm not sure what words would capture those days in October when clouds lie like a sodden blanket just above the treetops.
Today was one of those "October's bright blue weather" days, for the most part. And I was glad to get out for a few minutes.
Halloween is a little over three weeks away, and some of Sauk Centre's more enthusiastic yard-decorators have their displays up and ready.
Trees aren't changing color at the same time here, which is about par for the course. It's quite a sight, seeing a tree in full fall foliage, against a background of lush summer green.
There hasn't been work (that I noticed) on Ash Street this week, so maybe we're done with that project for the year.
Sunday, October 5, 2008. I've wondered what I'll write about, when the Ash Street Project is done. Just when I thought it was pretty well over until some follow-up next year, a crew came back with a back hoe. Not a big one, this time.
Autumn is here. Even without the (for me) comfortable temperatures and leaves turning color, I'd know what season it is. The sun is skidding southwards. Each sunrise is a little more to the right as I look out the window.
Minnow and Jason are a proud couple. They had a boy, back on the 28th. This isn't news, of course: anyone walking by Eyes on Main, downtown, this week has seen the sign.
I haven't swung by Coborn's drive-through pharmacy since the 25th. At that point, the awning seemed to be done, except for some trim. This is going to be a real convenience.
Sauk Centre isn't immune to what's going on in the rest of the nation, but our gas has been cheaper than quite a few places. Not that $3.399 a gallon is exactly "cheap."
The sign by the road leading to the elementary school has had a rather nice thought on it for a while now: Live Laugh Learn.
We've had a bit of "October's bright blue weather" this week. Not today, though. It was the other kind of 'typical' Minnesota fall day: overcast, wind driving low-hanging clouds past, and light rain.
That didn't keep me from grilling lunch, though.
Parts of Sauk Centre still look like a 'typical' small town, in the Mayberry RFD/Tom Sawyer tradition. On the other hand, parts of town are very solidly in the 21st century.
That's it for tonight. I most very sincerely hope that the coming week is more regular than the one that's just ended. I may write about that, sometime.
Not tonight, though. I've got to get some sleep.
Monday, September 29, 2008. Maybe Tuesday? Meanwhile, here's a picture I took, earlier this month.
The Ash Street Project is still winding up. There's a lot of detail work to do, I guess. Today a crew or two were out, doing something with the sewer.
Sunday, September 28, 2008. What with one thing and another, I don't have an entry ready today. I plan to get one out tomorrow, but you know how that's gone in the past.
Here's a really brief summary of what I'll cover: The Ash Street Project is winding up, and we've gotten a notice of what it's going to cost this household. The amount is only slightly heart-stopping, so I'm not complaining.
We've had some rain, which I don't mind: saves me the trouble of watering the new grass.
Sunday, September 21, 2008. If I've got my facts straight, tomorrow is the autumn equinox: the first day of fall. A few trees in town have gotten a head start on the season, turning color on a few branches.
And, of course, there's still the Ash Street Project. I think it'll be a while before we all get used to there being three lanes on south Ash: A parking lane on the west side, then two traffic lanes.A little north of my place, at least two different drivers parked within a yard or so of the same spot: in the northbound traffic lane. They had a good reason. There was a big rummage sale going on across the street. Still, it's a good thing that traffic was fairly light.
I found out why the new street lights on south Ash came pre-marked with dirt. They'd been lighting up Sinclair Lewis Avenue, where it crosses the Sauk River, before getting moved to Ash. Someone had said that Sinclair Lewis Avenue's lights looked like runway lights, before every other one was moved to Ash. I see the point. I sort of like the effect, before, but the current setup seems to work - and sure beats buying new lights.Mostly, though, I've spent so much time on this road widening / infrastructure updating project because it's a pretty big deal for Sauk Centre. For the southeast part, anyway.
And, excellent news about the berms on Ash. The outfit that had the job of re-seeding yards that got dug up? They were back, with that bright green grass spray on Friday. I think they got the bulk of the remaining yards, and they did a few on the east side a second time: including ours.
The drive-through at Coborn's Pharmacy is taking shape. A crew was working there again last week.
That's it for this week. Have a good Monday.
Thursday, September 18, 2008. So much for the regular Wednesday entry. I had most of this done last night, late, but decided that sleep - and the relatively clear head that follows - was a higher priority. On the whole, I think I was right.
Sooner or later, I won't be writing about the Ash Street Project quite so much. I've concentrated on it so much partly because I live on south Ash Street, and it's been a big part of life here this summer.Mostly, though, I've spent so much time on this road widening / infrastructure updating project because it's a pretty big deal for Sauk Centre. For the southeast part, anyway.
I found out why the new street lights on south Ash came pre-marked with dirt. They'd been lighting up Sinclair Lewis Avenue, where it crosses the Sauk River, before getting moved to Ash. Someone had said that Sinclair Lewis Avenue's lights looked like runway lights, before every other one was moved to Ash. I see the point. I sort of like the effect, before, but the current setup seems to work - and sure beats buying new lights.
Make that 'newer' lights.
The outfit with the job of re-seeding Ash Street yards was back, raking one set of berms, and spraying that brightly greenish soup on yards further up the street.
At this rate, they'll probably have seed on everybody's yard, and have it sprayed with that stabilizer/fertilizer mix, before winter.
I'm just glad that they got our yard seeded, and then sprayed within a day or so.
In a way, I'll miss the excitement of the Ash Street Project. There's a sort of liveliness to living here, when the roar of diesel engines outside contributes to the ambience of a summer evening, only to disappear as I reach the door.
There's more going on in town, of course. Coborn's drive-through for the pharmacy is moving along. A crew is here this week, doing some landscaping and putting a roof up.
Downtown, nobody's moved in, where Winter's was at the corner of Main and Sinclair Lewis. It's a pretty big building, so I suspect that the "for sale" sign will stay up for a while.
If I'm going to get this done while it's still Thursday, I'd better stop.
See you Sunday. Maybe. I hope.
Monday, September 15, 2008. As you see, Sunday's entry isn't here. I'll make an effort to have something new: at least in time for the regular Wednesday entry.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008. Someday, I'll make an entry in the Sauk Centre Journal, and not mention the Ash Street Project.
But not today.
A crew, including some of the guys I've come to recognize this summer, came along today, picking stuff out of the yards. They've done it before, but there's always a little more. When a front-end loader is involved, "tidying up" doesn't seem to be the right phrase, but that's what they were doing.
Someday, the outfit that seeded yards on part of Ash Street will probably come back and finish the job. One thing that got my attention was that quite a few yards got seeded, but didn't seem to have gotten that blue-green frosting of stuff. (From the looks of it, it's chaff that should help stabilize the soil until the new grass takes root, along with (probably) fertilizer, and a good deal of water.)
Yesterday, I saw a householder on Ash Street watering the grass seed. Smart. Also, a good excuse to get out and enjoy the weather.
The place has been there for years, but I hadn't checked it out. When they're not doing a sale like this, there generally isn't much to see except an open garage door. It looks like a sort of permanent garage sale, with a hand-painted sign in the window.
I figured I'd see a counter and a cash register inside. I did, as a matter of fact, but that wasn't all.
Centre Consignment has several rooms inside, besides that garage space, but you've got to go inside to find out.
Funny: I've lived in Sauk Centre for well over twenty years, and I'm still finding new places.
Monday, September 8, 2008. The Ash Street Project looks like it's just about over, except for maybe a second layer of paving next year.
The landscaping outfit showed up, and got started on seeding yards on Ash Street.
I found out that we'll have to get a 'rural' mailbox. I'd wondered why so many folks around here had roadside delivery boxes up.
I've heard that putting mailboxes at the curb will speed up delivery. I can believe it. Navigating through all those front yards must eat up a lot of miles over a year.
Not all that far off Ash Street, the Coborn's Pharmacy drive-through is still taking shape.
School's started, too, and the homework that comes along with it. Since our son is taking band this year, I'm getting used to hearing trombone practice in the evening.
Friday, September 5, 2008. That whizzing sound I heard was this week going by. Aside from the start of school, there wasn't any one big event that preoccupied me: but I still feel frazzled.
The start of the school season brought the sounds of revving engines and squealing tires back to the corner of 9th and South Ash. Not all day: just that time, right after 3:00, when a mixed bag of elementary school kids, motorized high schoolers, and the occasional rubber screecher pour out of the school.
Seriously, most of the kid drivers are fairly sensible. I only counted two tire screechers on Tuesday, none on Wednesday, and three or so Thursday. Today, I can't be sure, since I wasn't near the corner.
Meanwhile, the Ash Street Project is closer to being done. As I write this, the new old-fashioned street lights are lit. I think this is the first night they've been on. The PUC crew working on a power pole on 9th may have had something do do with this.
And, part of the Ash Street berms now have grass seed planted. I'll be back Sunday (I trust), with yet more about the Ash Street Project.
There's been more going on in Sauk Centre, than just the Ash Street Project, of course. Maybe I'll get to some of that on Sunday. Then again, maybe not.
Monday, September 1, 2008. For many families in town, this is both the end of Labor Day weekend, and the last day before school starts. Open House at the elementary school was last Wednesday.
I spent quite a bit of Labor Day weekend with my oldest daughter, and my son, talking and playing with a computer game he'd gotten recently. Also, grilling lunch all three days.
If this year was like most, folks around here spent the weekend getting a last long weekend in at the lake, visiting friends and/or family, or just kicking back and relaxing. I can think of much worse ways to spend three days.
Coborns Pharmacy's drive-through is shaping up. They've filled in that hole in the ground, got paving in place, have plastic drums set on a sort of concrete curb. I'll be interested in seeing just what the drive-through looks like.
Fitness Guru closed its doors for the last time last week. Almost. They'll be available briefly this month, and next, to wrap up some business with people like me, who were paying for a year at a time.
I didn't quite make it through this entry without mentioning the Ash Street Project. It's winding down, for this year anyway.
Two things puzzled me about the Ash Street Project. The paving, in my neighborhood, anyway, is about an inch shy of the concrete curbing. Also, I'd been wondering about the yards. I'd understood that an outfit would come in and re-seed or otherwise fix up the area that had been converted from grass to deep-tilled dirt.
It's quite unofficial, but I heard that the rest of the paving will be done next year, bringing the street surface up level with the curbwork. That makes sense: Otherwise, they'd have been laying pavement awfully close to the opening of school.
The yard situation is something else. Apparently, the outfit that's supposed to take care of re-seeding - or whatever they've got in mind - is more than a tad relaxed and easy-going about getting the job done. Of course, that's just scuttlebutt.
Sunday, August 31, 2008. Labor Day Weekend. I hope you're having a good time, here at the unofficial end of summer. I've grilled burgers twice, so far, and plan to do so tomorrow. I'll be back, Monday night, with this entry of the Sauk Centre Journal.
Thursday, August 28, 2008. The Ash Street Project is definitely winding up. As you see in the webcam, the portapotty that graced the corner of 9th and South Ash is gone. We've got street signs, and street lights.
I've got photos, but something came up, and I'll be a few hours late (sound familiar?).
Part of my tardiness has to do with the Web publishing I do, part of it is something else. I may go into that later. I expect to have something here by midnight or so.
We had a little power outage at about 3:00 Wednesday morning. It lasted maybe a second: but that was enough to bollix up the clocks, and the computer. If you were looking at a night scene in the "Small Town America: Central Minnesota" webcam, that's because I didn't get the thing set up again until about noon.
I was going to give the Ash Street Project a rest for this entry, but the crews were out again, getting things done.
And now, I have got to get some sleep. I'll be back Sunday, I trust, with whatever has happened between now and then.
Monday, August 25, 2008. Ash Street South is looking more like a street now, and less like a construction zone. I can't say that I'm disappointed to see the project winding down: But I've enjoyed watching it happen.
Wondering why I got Sunday's entry done on Monday? I'm probably not the most well-organized man in town, I've been enjoying having three, sometimes four, of the kids back under the roof, and I had a bit of a bug over the weekend.
Excuses, excuses. Thanks for your patience.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008. It's in the Sauk Centre Herald: "There's an end in sight to all the construction going on on Ash Street in Sauk Centre." The project is even ahead of schedule.
I can't say that I'll miss living on a dirt road, but it's been fun, watching the street getting dug up, filled in, and dug up again.
They've been preparing the street around here for several days, and asphalt went on yesterday. Judging from the edge of the curb, there's still about an inch and a half to go, but now this neighborhood has a paved street again.
Coborn's has part of the parking lot torn up and excavation going on. They're working on their new drive-in pharmacy.
Maybe you remember a stop sign I wrote about, back in June. The one by the west entrance to Wal-Mart.
First, a look at how it was, back in June.
I wondered how long it would take, before something was done about it: either setting it in place, or removing it.
I'm still wondering.
This is how that area looked yesterday.
The stop sign was there yesterday afternoon. It's moved around, as the weeks turn into months. Sometimes it's been on the grass on the west side of the sidewalk, sometimes on the east side. Sometimes it's on the pavement. But it hasn't moved far.
Maybe it's a sort of symbol of permanence and continuity in changing times. Or, maybe it's a stop sign lying on the sidewalk.
Sunday, August 17, 2008. I'm giving the Ash Street Project a bit of a rest today: Sidewalks have been poured in my neighborhood, and I hear that there may be tarring of the road next week.
Things have been busy on Main Street ("The Original Main Street," I probably should say). City crews were out last Monday, putting up new old-fashioned lamps on Main, near downtown. I've got to admit, the new lights look classier than the run-of-the-mill ones we had.
This weekend, people in the Our Lady of the Angels parish learned that the cash boxes by the votive lights have been broken into. Twice. The boxes are gone for now, and will be replaced with something that's a bit harder to crack open.
The good news is that we still don't have to lock the church.
On a happier note, my son and quite a few other kids were at 'band camp' last week: spending most of the morning learning to play their instruments, and getting ready for a recital on Friday.
As for the weekend, it was what the Chamber of Commerce might call 'typical.' Warm, enough breeze to discourage most mosquitoes, and a lot of sun.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008. Fitness Guru in Sauk Centre is closing. The doors close for the last time on August 28th, at 8:31 pm. It's been there for 7 1/2 years. Debby Ellering-Rosenberg had a fitness place in St. Rosa for five years before that, and had done work in her home earlier. All in all, she's been in the fitness business for two decades.
I've been going to Fitness Guru regularly, since around the first of 2007, and will miss the place.
There's more to write, about what's been going on in Sauk Centre lately, but I'll pick up on that later.
Monday, August 11, 2008. The Ash Street Project isn't the only thing that's happening in Sauk Centre.
On Main Street, the place just south of the Hillcrest Motel has been remodeled. A place called I Want Communication is there now. I think that's where Centre Rental used to be, before it moved across the street, and then to a place with elbow room, off the frontage road.
Coborn's new pharmacy is coming along. They still don't have the drive-through done, but the inside looks finished -finally. They seem to have finished the changes to their sit-down deli, too.
Sure looks better than it did last month.
And, there's still the Ash Street Project. The part I live on has sidewalks now, for the most part. I'm told they'll be hard enough to walk on in a day or so. Getting set up to pour the sidewalks was a big job in itself. The bedding for the sidewalk had to be prepared: and that included cutting through existing driveways. Including ours.
They had to remove the corner curbing on the east side of Ash and South 9th. The reason on the south corner was pretty obvious. The curb was cracked. One of the fellows told me that someone had driven over it. He didn't sound too happy about it.
Those two guys with the wooden frame and carpenter's level were positioning an orange string, so that it was exactly the right height above the curb.
There was a good reason for that. I'll get into that, on Wednesday. Maybe I should say "I plan to," considering how I've been doing lately.
Sunday, August 11, 2008. Despite what's happened the last couple of weeks, I still plan to do two entries a week here: One late Sunday, and another late Wednesday.
Or, this week, one posted sometime Monday. It's already Monday, as I write this, and what you read will make more sense if I get more sleep.
Mostly, though, I'll show some photos I took at the fair.
Finally: Sorry about missing the Wednesday entry. There seems to be something going around, at least in my family. And, in a cooperative spirit, I've caught it. The coming week had better be better.
Sunday, July 27, 2008. I've been out of town since Friday, so I'm not quite up to speed on what's been going on. I always enjoy coming in, a little after sunset, from the west I-94 exit. Driving east on Sinclair Lewis Avenue, with those new old-fashioned orange lights is a treat.
I hope you like photos of the Sinclair Lewis Days Parade. I've got more of the things to show:
Don't worry: Sooner or later I'll run out of Sinclair Lewis Day Parade photos. Besides, there's more going on in Sauk Centre. I just haven't found out about it yet. .
Thursday, July 24, 2008. Well, I thought I'd be back Wednesday. But, I do have more photos. With more left to go. That's a long parade - about a hundred units, I think.
I read in this weeks Sauk Centre Herald that there was another car fire recently, besides the one near the parade route: the other one was a Corvette that burned in the Wal-Mart parking lot. Maybe I'm just more aware of it now, but there seems to be a lot of incendiary cars just now.
The Ash Street Project is moving along. Another two trees had to be taken down in front of our house. This time, it was to get a new water pipe in from the street. They got the water hooked up yesterday or today, I think. Which is just as well. My son shredded the hose that's been feeding water in through the back faucet. If there'd been pressure in that, we'd have had a little geyser in the back yard.
That's the sort of work that's been going on, all along south Ash Street. I'm still impressed with how the project is coming along.
Sunday, July 20, 2008. Sinclair Lewis Days is over now. I'm pretty sure that the street dance or the fireworks is the high point for a lot of folks. But for me, it's the parade.
A little after I took that photo, I saw one of Sauk Centre's finest loping by, talking rather earnestly into that radio they keep on their shoulders. He got in his car, and the man who'd been leaning on the trunk got up as the car raced off, lights and sirens on.
About that time, I heard other sirens coming my way, most likely over on fourth. Looking east, it was pretty obvious why they were in a hurry. Smoke was coming up from somewhere this side of St. Paul's Church. I got rather personally interested at that point (I explain why in "Saturday: Sinclair Lewis Days Parade and a Car Fire").
I don't know whose car caught fire, but it had been towed by the time I got back, after the parade. The folks in the next car ahead were saying something about "heat damage" as they looked at the back end of their car - it's the one just off the right side of this picture.
The fire and rescue units got back in the parade, near the end of the procession. I think that unplanned interruption may have thrown the folks in the parade off - some of the units were over a block apart by the time they got to Sinclair Lewis and Oak Street.
They all went past, though - marching bands, clowns, trucks from businesses around here going by, flinging candy at folks on the curb.
It's late, and I've got to get some sleep. I'll be back Wednesday, with some more photos.
Friday, July 18, 2008. Sinclair Lewis Days is under way, but that's not why I'm making this entry.
We had a break in routine this afternoon, in the 900 block of south Ash Street today. Also, a break in a gas line.
It happened around mid-afternoon. What looked like half the Sauk Centre Fire Department showed up, and encouraged people to back off about a block and a half.
After what seemed like a very long time, a crew from CenterPoint Energy came and fixed the break. One of those inch-wide lines had been severed.
I wrote more about what happened in my Through One Dad's Eye blog ("Friday: A Break in Routine - and in a Gas Line").
Wednesday, July 16, 2008. Finally: I'm getting caught up. Thanks for your patience.
Quite a bit has happened in Sauk Centre since the sixth, and got on the front page of the Sauk Centre Herald.
Last week's Herald reported that Sauk Centre was #4 in foreclosures for 2007 in Stearns County. ("Sauk Centre sees spike in foreclosures" (July 8, 2008).) That's absolute numbers, not per capita. Sauk Centre had 10 foreclosures in 2006, 23 in 2007. Figuring foreclosure rank as percent of residential properties getting foreclosed, we were #2, right behind St. Joe for 2007.
I'd just as soon be near the top for something else. Still, it could be worse. For one thing, the Herald's third paragraph suggests that these foreclosures may not all be the losing-the-homestead crisis I'd expect. It looks like some people have been doing a bit of creative accounting. They'd buy houses after the real estate agent listing expired, rent the places out, grab the rent money or refinance, and then stop paying back the loan.
On a happier note, in this week's Herald, a woman who works at Truckers Inn on the south side got tazed three times. The good news in the incident is that she's okay, apart from a a few minor burns and a bruise or two, and the guy who tried to rob the place may be more shaken up than she was.
According to the paper, he got away with $200 in stamps, a cancelled credit card, the surveillance system's hard drive,some other computer parts, a company check, a Blue Tooth, and a garbage can. (More in this week's "Stunned woman foils robbery.")
Coborn's expanded pharmacy opened Wednesday, July 9, in their new location. Or part of it, anyway. I understand that the folks there had a busy night, Tuesday, getting everything moved over, the dozen or so feet between the old and new place, and set up.
By the next Monday, one of those walls was gone. Plastic sheeting made a sort of symbolic barrier between the grocery and the pharmacy, and a construction zone, and a nicely hand-written sign assured people that there really was a way to walk through.
It became Thursday, while I was writing this - It's been a crazy month in this household. More about that at "A Month in Fast Forward." (July 17, 2008).
As for Sauk Centre, there's a lot coming up: Sinclair Lewis Days, the Stearns County Fair.
I just thought of something: Where are they going to have the Sinclair Lewis Days parade this year? There's no way the Ash Street Project will be done by then. I don't see it, anyway. And those floats and convertibles sure aren't going to be navigating that construction zone.
I'll try to find out.
Sunday, July 13, 2008. You probably expected to see an entry here, with some photos of the Ash Street Project, and maybe something about that weekend storm.
I expected to write one.
But, it's been a slightly crazy week, and I didn't.
I plan to get it done tomorrow, but you never know what's going to happen.
Sunday, July 6, 2008. Coborn's pharmacy expansion is moving along. The plywood wall, blocking the construction area off from the rest of the store, was gone last week.
Meanwhile, the Ash Street Project is still working its way south, for the street work, and north, for the sidewalks.
I'm pretty sure that the crew will be back tomorrow morning, digging up, filling in, cutting, hauling, installing, and all the rest of the -ings that it takes to get the street, sewer, water, and gas lines replaced.
Thursday, July 3, 2008. What with one thing and another, I'm a day late with this entry. No good excuse: this week, I feel like I've been running in circles. Which reminds me of words of wisdom I learned from a refrigeration technician on the west coast. "When in trouble, when in doubt, run in circles: scream and shout."
I've lost track, how many times Ash street has been dug up, filled in, and dug up again in front of my house. I'm sure there's a very logical reason for it: and it's certainly convenient, being able to drive through the intersection when the street is filled in.
For once, I'm not going to put photos of the Ash Street Project in this entry. Fair warning, though: They'll be back Sunday.
A front page story for the Sauk Centre Herald this week was "Restroom break proves costly for fruit stand man / Robber makes off with cash box, wallet, check book..." Scott Weirschem has been running a fruit stand down at what the paper calls "County Road 186 and Highway 71," and I think of as South 12th and Main. Same thing, of course.
This wasn't a particularly good time for him to lose $90, his wallet, cell phone and credit cards. Mr. Weirschem's been having, ah, challenging financial times since he lost his job as director, when the old Oak Ridge Correctional Facility closed, a few years ago.
On a happier note, There's a new store on Main Street.
When Bag Me moved across Main Street and a block north, that left space open next to the thrift store.
Last week, Main Street Outlet moved in there. The place mostly sells on eBay (and will sell for others, if they like, I understand). Main Street Outlet carries "all new closeouts and overstock: a varied selection."
More than that's happened, but I'm calling it quits. It's after midnight, and I've got to get some sleep.
Have a happy Fourth of July!
Sunday, June 29, 2008. This won't surprise you: The Ash Street Project is still going strong. I think that replacing the pipes under South Ash was a good idea, considering the the sort of shape some of the old equipment was in.
I've been impressed with how smoothly the operation seems to be going. On the other hand, sometimes I don't understand why the crews do what they do.
For example, here's a sequence of photos from Wednesday and Thursday.
Okay: They excavated the street, filled it back in, smoothed and compacted the surface so heavy equipment could drive over it, then dug it up again. My guess is that there was something that had to be moved from one end of this block to the other, and it was easier to fill in the street and dig it up again, than it would have been to drive around the Stearns County Fairgrounds, or try bringing the thing down Main, and under the Lake Wobegon Trail bridge.
Not all of Sauk Centre looks like our street this summer.
Two weeks ago, I noted that the Red Carpet had a new front and awning. I asked someone there, and found out that the new face and shade had gone on last month. Here's the photo and caption again:
Finally, on the cultural scene, WALL-E, Disney/Pixar's new movie, came to town this Friday. My son and oldest daughter and I went to see it this afternoon. One of the things I appreciate about the Main Street Theater is how they bring these movies in when they're released.
Wednesday, June 25, 2008. You've probably gathered that the Ash Street Project is a pretty big deal in Sauk Centre. At least, for the folks who live on south Ash.
Some folks seem to deal with the stress better than others. A week ago, I was driving home, coming in from the northwest. After I passed the "Road Closed to Through Traffic" sign at Birch and Eighth, a car whizzed past me. No problem. For me, anyway.
Ahead of me was one of those monster forklifts that the contractors use to haul around shed-sized pieces of concrete casting. The forklift's driver was, quite sensibly, keeping to the center of the street. There's a definite crown to the roadway, and one of the last things the young man would have wanted was to have that rig tip over.
The driver of the car had other ideas. After jerking right and left, trying to find a way around the bouncing behemoth, the car driver followed it around the corner. Then, about a half-block later, the car's driver let loose with the horn.
The forklift driver just kept going, as fast as safety permitted, without tipping his rig. Eventually, he cleared the corner of Ninth and Ash. At that point the car driver swooshed around the corner and headed out of my sight, flying southward.
I've mentioned before, that small towns aren't Brigadoons, cut off from the rest of the world. I was reminded of that yesterday, when a cable news network cut to live coverage of a government center hostage situation in Little Falls, about an hour's drive north and east of here.
Today's St. Cloud Times carried an article about the incident. One person was killed, the owner of a number of 'adult entertainment' venues in that area, named Wheeler. He's been in trouble with the law quite a bit, including a stint in jail, after he was convicted of "promoting and profiting from prostitution."
Yesterday, Wheeler took a gun into the Morrison County Commissioners meeting, took hostages, and got shot by police. He's dead now, and there's a good chance that commission meetings in this area won't be as open as they were.
After that, a torn-up street and an irate driver or two doesn't seem so bad.
Before getting back to the Ash Street Project, I ran into a little mystery. There's a stop sign at the west entrance to Wal-Mart. I'm pretty sure that it used to be facing north, reminding drivers that they should stop before turning right and heading west, out of the lot. Friday, it was on the grass, near the parking lot entrance. These pictures and captions tell the rest.
Back to the Ash Street Project. Looking at some of the antique pipes I've seen dug up, I'd say that this was probably a good time to replace the lot of them.
Meanwhile, at Coborn's:
I put a couple more photos of the Ash Street Project in my blog, Through One Dad's Eye - "Wednesday: The Ants are Back."
Sunday, June 22, 2008. I'm still preoccupied by the Ash Street Project. It's shuddering its way closer to our home, at Ninth and Ash. Thursday, a crew was filling in that pit that they'd dug at the corner of Ash and Eighth.
That's all I've got time for now. I've got to get some sleep, so I'll be awake for Monday.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008. It's been a beautiful couple of days, and the Ash Street Project is right outside my front door now. Meanwhile, sidewalks are being laid south of us, with that crew working their way north from around Wal-Mart.
I figure they'll meet the street crew somewhere around Lake Wobegon Trail: but that's just a guess.
There's some very serious digging going on: ten feet and more down in some intersections.
There's more to Sauk Centre than the Ash Street Project. There's a new business at the northeast corner of 4th and Main: The Corner Shop. I haven't found out when they moved in there. The last I noticed, Ceramic Cafe was at that location.
Back to the Ash Street Project. A crew was doing some very serious digging at the corner of Ash and 8th Street South. I'm not the best at judging distances, but I think the hole was around fifteen feed deep. When I was there, a couple of guys were getting a pipe ready to be fitted with what I'd guess is an access tube: something to allow work to be done on it, down the line, when the dirt and the street's back where they belong.
Yesterday, our household had a few minutes without water. And had faucets spitting and hissing at us from time to time after that. Our plumbing is pretty much back to normal now, so I suppose they'll be re-arranging the water lines again soon.
That's an experience people have been having all the way down Ash, as the project's been moving this way. We were without gas, too, for a little while yesterday. That wasn't so much of an inconvenience, although we do have an embossed yard now.
This household isn't one of those "House Beautiful" places. We don't have a lawn: We've got a yard. Just the same, I'm told that a restoration company will come, after the excitement's over, and patch up the sod.
I wrote more about how our new gas line was put in, with photos, in Through One Dad's Eye.
Sunday, June 15, 2008. Father's Day. Also the day after Flag Day, which explains all the flags downtown.
Last week, I noticed that the Red Carpet downtown had a new front. It may have been up for some time: I just hadn't noticed it before. Really makes the place stand out, now.
Sauk Centre, along with quite a bit of the rest of west-central Minnesota and the Red River Valley, got rain over the weekend. And, I read, at least one wind gust over 35 miles an hour. That might be why the sign over the Chinese/Mexican restaurant downtown is damaged. That lighted sign still has fluorescent bulbs inside, but no outside to go around them, apart from a frame.
The Ash Street Project is slogging its way along. I don't think this week's rain has helped things any.
Finally, sorry about being so late with the "Wednesday" entry for the Sauk Centre Journal. It's been a hectic-feeling week, although I didn't actually get that much done. If you want to try figuring out out what happened, check out Through One Dad's Eye.
Friday, June 13, 2008. Finally, I'm getting Wednesday's entry done.
Or, I would be, if I didn't have to leave seven minutes ago. This has been quite a week for me.
In short, the Ash Street Project is moving along, this household has three less trees than we did last week, but we've got a much better view of the sky.
Unless something unexpected happens, I'll be back with a real entry, sometime late Sunday night. With photos. I hope.
Sunday, June 8, 2008. Coborn's Video moved into half of the old Alco store last week, making room for the pharmacy to go into where the video store was. That was fast work. There's still construction going on in the old video store space: and the Coborn's convenience counter is a very noisy place.
School's out for the summer. There's an encouraging and hopeful message up on the sign by the north entrance, encouraging the kids to read over the summer.
Meanwhile, the Ash Street Project is moving along. I had a talk with someone working with the project on Friday. He had some questions about what arrangements we'd made for digging. My wife has done the planning for that, so I was pretty useless. We had a good talk, though, for a minute or two, mostly a matter of me making sure that he and my wife could swap information on Monday.
She was out of town, along with our #3 daughter. There's a little more about that in Through One Dad's Eye.
I know that the Ash Street Project is necessary, and I think there's good reason to believe that it's been thought out pretty well. Still, I'm going to miss the three big trees that had stood in our front yard long before we had the place. And, I'm sure that people up and down the street have something that just isn't going to be the same after the project is done.
But, things don't stay the same. And that's probably just as well.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008. A downtown landmark will be gone soon. Winter's Main Street Drug, on the southwest corner of Sinclair Lewis Avenue and Main, is closing. Gary Winters bought the pharmacy in 1986, the same year my family moved into town.
This week's Sauk Herald has a good article on Winter's, and a history of the place. It starts, "A drug store has stood at the southwest corner of Main Street and Sinclair Lewis Avenue in Sauk Centre for 120 years. In that time the store has been called Hanson & Emerson, Corner Drug and Main Street Drug...." (More at "Customers make Winter's years enjoyable.")
According to the Herald, Gary Winter sold his pharmacy to Coborn's. I hear that Coborn's is going to move their pharmacy into the space their video store is now, and put their video store next door, where Alco was.
I'm going to miss Winter's. At least now, having read the article, I know why I tended to call it "Winter's Corner Drug."
Meanwhile, the street rebuilding part of the Ash Street Project is digging it's way south from Sinclair Lewis Avenue, while sidewalks are getting poured at the south end of the street.
Our house is between the two. The way things look, it's not unlikely that the new sidewalks will reach here about the same time that the street gets dug up.
Dug up more, I should say.
I heard that someone on Ash, a block or so from Sinclair Lewis Avenue, got an unpleasant surprise. That household has a finished basement, but they don't go down there every day.
Apparently, their sewer line got nicked. The construction crew didn't notice - and neither did the homeowner for a day or two. By that time, there was no end of a mess in the basement.
I've been advised to keep a sharp watch on the basement, when the crew gets up here. Sounds like a good idea.
Monday, June 2, 2008. Normally, this entry would have been made yesterday, but I've been a little off-schedule.
Driving downtown today, I saw a "sale" sign in Winter's Corner Drug, with quite a discount. I also saw a lot of wet streets. We had rain today, and some lightning.
The Ash Street Project caught up with our household over the weekend. I heard roaring outside Saturday morning, and saw that big street-chewer going by. That was an impressive sight.
I'm sure that more happened in Sauk Centre over the weekend: but I missed it. Maybe this week I'll get around more.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008. I see in the Sauk Herald that we're getting a new police chief in August. He's been here since 2006. I wish Chief of Police Jim Metcalf well, in his job as teacher at Alex Tech.
The Ash Street Project is still approaching our house from both sides. The street digging is still concentrated down by Sinclair Lewis Avenue, but there's digging south of here, too. Room for sidewalks (both sides of Ash now) is being made from 12th up to near the Lake Wobegon Trail.
A contractor came to our house today, to look at what was involved in cutting a trench for water line work. A sort of up side of the project, for me, is that I'm getting an up close look at how small-town infrastructures are put together.
Too bad it's going to cost so much: but that's the way things work.
There should be photos on the Sauk Centre Journal for the Sunday entry. The main computer is working again, and should hold together long enough for me to get some pictures processed.
Sunday, May 25, 2008. Besides being an unofficial opening of summer vacation season, Memorial Day is when garage sale season begins. At least, around here. I spotted quite a few, including one next door to our home.
Memorial Day weekend is about half-over now. A squadron of thunderstorms rumbled by this morning, mostly east of Sauk Centre. I hear that they dropped quarter-sized hail on Cold Spring, about forty miles down the road.
Since the storm drains are blocked on Ash Street south, we had a sort of pond between Ninth street and Lake Wobegon Trail. It'll be interesting to see how long it lasts.
The Ash Street Project is moving along. Crews have the street near Sinclair Lewis Avenue "buttoned up" again, after the weeks excavation. I've been impressed with the way that the contractor has been approaching this project. Our household got a four-page pamphlet, telling what to expect. Three-page, actually, since the back page was blank.
Some of it wasn't very good news for homeowners: "Landscaping issues - Underground sprinklers systems, pet containment systems, and other landscaping items need to be removed from the right of way. The contractor will remove anything within the easement interfering with construction; however, they will not try to salvage or reinstall these items when construction is complete. Property owners will not be compensated if these items are damaged during construction."
On the other hand, "Refuse Collection - Residents should continue with the same disposal schedule/practice a before construction. If construction conditions require further transportation of your refuse containers, Bonestroo/Larson employees will transport the containers for haulers to pick up and will return your containers to your property."
There was more, including a map of the project, and contact names and telephone numbers. This was a great deal more information than I expected to get.
If you're thinking that it's odd that I've got no photos in this entry, you're right. My main computer is still on the sick list. I'm hoping that it will be in working order by Wednesday, but that's a hope. What actually happens remains to be seen.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008. This has been a beautiful day: clear, just enough clouds to be picturesque, perfect temperature.
The Ash Street Project is still busiest a few blocks south of Sinclair Lewis Avenue. It's a mess, but I'm impressed at how little dirt and debris I've seen on people's yards.
Memorial Day Weekend is coming up, and I suspect that quite a few households are planning which rummage sales to go to - or setting up for their own sales. My wife has marked up a listing of rummage sales, and has it by her place at the kitchen table.
I was hoping to show some photos I'd taken since the last entry, but this afternoon my main computer got bucky. I'm taking it in for therapy next week, but until it gets back to normal, I won't be able to work on photos, or do much of anything else on my digital to-do list. Happily, I can get at the Sauk Centre Journal with my old laptop, and write updates with a text editor.
Friday, May 16, 2008. This weekend is going to be crazy for me, so I'm writing Sunday's entry today.
The Ash Street Project is moving along. Even with today's powerful machines, the guys on the crew get their exercise, moving the buckets (?) of those overgrown backhoes.
It's still there, except now it's "Andy's Wok" and "Andy's Taco:" Sauk Centre's first Chinese Mexican restaurant. Come to think of it, I've never heard of a Chinese Mexican restaurant before.
Sounds like a good combination, though. They've got two menus: one for the 'wok' and the other for the 'taco' style. The place opened May 15, 2008: Thursday of this week.
I saw in this week's Sauk Herald that there's a Norwegian exchange student in Sauk Centre these days. The article included her photo. Made me feel a bit nostalgic. She looks a lot like many of the kids in my high school class, up in the Red River Valley of the North.
The fishing opener came on Mother's Day Weekend (who thought that one up?!) as usual this year. It wasn't very exciting, I gather: between high fuel prices, cold water, and rain to match. Resort owners here, and in the rest of Minnesota are understandably concerned about this year's tourist season.
And, I read that the city council is thinking about taking some street lights off County Road 17, and putting them on Ash Street. Seems like County 17 is too bright (didn't say too bright for what).
They're going to try turning off every other light on the county road for a while, to see what happens.
If there really is too much light there, I wouldn't mind the city saving a few bucks that way.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008. A beautiful day here in Sauk Centre. Unlike yesterday, when it was raining. Not that we can't use the rain: It's one of those useful things that aren't always pleasant to experience. Particularly on a chilly day.
The Ash Street Project is moving along. Monday, there was water fooshing out of pipes in the 700 block of Ash Street. I don't know why that was being done, but it seemed to be by design: not an accident. Maybe this is a way of flushing water pockets out of the pipes? Or maybe they needed the ground to be wet.
The addition on the United Methodist Church, near the Ding Dong Cafe, is taking shape. Aside from giving the church more room inside, I think it's giving the outside some visual interest.
On the north side today, I spotted a household that seems to be set for summer. An outdoor grill, picnic table, and birdbath, with some shade: they've got it made.
This weekend is going to be an interesting one for me. I'll be back, later this week, to tell a little more about it.
Sunday, May 11, 2008. Mother's Day.
I see in this week's Sauk Herald that a meeting at City Hall a week ago tomorrow unveiled "plans for a Small Business Development Center to help these businesses succeed and hopefully spur some new businesses to break through." I got the impression that it's not so much a new facility in Sauk Centre, as periodic opportunities to talk to people from the St. Cloud Small Business Development Center.
Sounds promising: The SBDCs seem to be intended to help people with business ideas get started.
Also in the paper, I read that a group went on a tour of St. Paul's Church as part of a course in church history and architecture in this part of Minnesota. The article says that St. Paul's is just about through with a $250,000 window renovation project.
Meanwhile, the other Catholic Church in town is getting ready to pay for sewer work and the rest of their share of the Ash Street Project. That's the church my family goes to. Today I learned that the outfit that's doing the work has said that they'll "button up" the street for Saturday and Sunday Masses, and that they'll make an effort to do the same for special events like weddings and funerals, providing that we plan ahead. How we could plan ahead for funerals, I don't know.
A few blocks west of the Ash Street Project, you wouldn't know it was happening. Traffic on Main Street seems a little heavier than usual, but so far I haven't run into anything serious.
If this keeps up, people will start feeling inhibited about jaywalking across Main Street.
Finally, some good news. We got a soaking rain yesterday. I understand that this is good news, agriculturally speaking. Unless you were planning to plant or till right about now. Still, I can't help but think that, with sandy soil like we've got, almost any rain is good rain.
Thursday, May 8, 2008. This post is a day late. No excuse, but I've got an explanation of sorts. This has been a crazy week for me. I wrote about what's been happening in another blog:
Ash Street isn't the only place in Sauk Centre that's been getting refurbished. 12th Street South got new power poles this week.
The Ash Street Project is still a preoccupation for me. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that around the first week in June, I'll be able to take photos of the project from my front stoop.
Starting work on the north end of South Ash, leaving the south part until after school is out for the summer probably has something to do with that gymkhana of cars and assorted vehicles that pours out of the high school parking lot every day.
Sunday, May 4, 2008. I've been out of town since Friday. And, since I live on Ash Street South in Sauk Centre, I'm a bit preoccupied with the Ash Street Project.
That explains why there's nothing by photos of Ash Street to show today.
Now that I'm back in town, I hope to get around a little and see what's been going on. See you Wednesday night.
Wednesday, April 30, 2008. The Ash Street Project started today. They got the street torn up from South 8th to Sinclair Lewis Avenue. This is going to be a very interesting summer.
(My webcam on Sauk Centre's south side, at the corner of Ash and 9th Street South, should a fine view of some of the Ash Street Project's work - when it gets down here. Meanwhile, I'm hoping for hummingbirds.)
That last picture, the one with the caption that starts, "Won't be long," Shows part of our yard. Some people have lawns: we have a yard. Those three trees that the red van is hiding behind? A photo of them was used by the City of Sauk Centre to illustrate how some trees would have to be removed.
That was when I realized that I didn't have much of a chance of negotiating my way into keeping them. Apparently they keep people driving on Ash from seeing vehicles on the cross street. Okay, I can see that, sort of. I'm going to miss the shade, though, on summer afternoons.
Not that the Ash Street Project is the only thing going on in town.
And, the United Methodist Church addition, near the Ding Dong Cafe, is moving along.
Sunday, April 27, 2008. The school referendum passed, by quite a margin this week. The Ash Street Project starts next week.
A crew from Sauk Centre Public Utilities was here ten days ago, getting an idea of where the sewer line for our house went.
When they were done, the Minnesotan phrase, "it could be worse" pretty well summed up the situation. The line apparently was laid before sewer service extended beyond 9th Street. The thing heads north, then northwest: under two trees and a bush we were hoping to save.
I'm pretty sure people on Ash are having similar experiences.
One of my webcams,
"Small Town America: Central Minnesota"
"Minnesota doesn't have a climate: It has weather." Our spring showers closed Interstate Highway 94 from Osakis to Fargo for a while, yesterday.
I heard someone say that wooly mammoths would be heading into our region next week, but I think he was kidding.
Yesterday's snow is something I'm glad I didn't have to drive through, but it was just about ideal for snowballs or snowmen. I made a small snowman, about nine or ten inches tall, while grilling lunch yesterday.
There's already quite a bit of spring-green grass showing through the snow. Maybe we'll get a reasonable facsimile of summer, yet.
Wednesday, April 24, 2008. This has been a beautiful, warm, sunny day. There are more colored marks and little flags on and around Ash Street, a reminder of what's coming after school lets out for the summer. And, there's more about the school referendum vote in the Sauk Centre Herald. Including a passionate letter to the editor or two.
I also read that a sort of committee of 10th, 11th, and 12th graders from the school painted a mural on a wall of the bus garage. I haven't seen it - the mural, that is - but I'll try to get a photo.
This is a very short entry, I see. What can I say? I've been distracted. That will change, like everything else in this mutable cosmos.
Sunday, April 20, 2008. What with one thing and another (Through One Dad's Eye gives a little detail), I'm at the end of Sunday, and still don't have any photos ready.
Ash Street South has more marks painted on it now: I think there's a very good chance that they'll get this project started shortly after school ends in May.
Deacon Kaas helped celebrate Mass at Our Lady of the Angels church this Sunday - with a walker. He explained that his knee had gotten twisted again, and a muscle was spasming. Doesn't sound pleasant, but he's getting around pretty well.
I'm pretty sure that isn't all that happened, but it's all I can think of at the moment.
If I think of more, tomorrow, I'll be back.
If not, I'll be back Wednesday: whether I've got anything to say, or not.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008. You may have expected some photos to go with this entry.
So did I.
Meanwhile, I got a call from somebody with Sauk Centre utilities. The other day, they had a crew out here with a crawler and a camera, getting up close and personal with the sewer. Turns out, the sewer arrangement for this house is a little odd. Their best guess is that after in goes out the west side of the house, it heads north to ninth, then on into the Ash street sewer.
They want to do a little work, which will get done tomorrow morning, to give them a better picture of what's going on down there. It involves putting a sort of tape in our sewage pipe, and having a crew outside play 'find the signal.' Should be interesting.
I also learned that they'll probably doing some core sampling at the south end of this block. That's my phrase, not what I was told. It seems that there may be granite down there. One of our neighbors is not going to be happy about that.
With this Ash Street Project coming, I really feel sympathy for people on Ash who have put special effort into fixing up their front yards.
Being a relatively small town doesn't deprive Sauk Centre of experiencing today's problems. There's drug and gang information meeting coming up Tuesday, April 22, 7 p.m. at the Sauk Centre High School Auditorium.. The Sauk Herald has more information about it.
I suppose, as a responsible homeowner, I ought to go.
Sunday, April 13, 2008. Deacon Kaas is back, after one of his carpal tunnel procedures. And, we still have snow on the ground. Lots of it.
I thought it would be fun to lead off with a few photos from this week.
Week before last's Sauk Centre Herald had an article on a family we know: the Lauers: "Quite a Feat!" The eight Lauers each have earned a black belt in Soo Bahk Do. My wife and the two kids who are still at home practice Soo Bahk Do regularly. It's a very good discipline: As Master Westbrock put it, "It's a lot more than just the breaking of a board."
I'd hoped to pick where I'd left off, some years ago, this month. Maybe in March.
This week's Herald has quite a bit about a school referendum that we'll be voting on soon.
Good grief! I forgot about the wooden golfing bear! That bruin will have to wait. It's late. If I'm going to get any work done tomorrow, I've got to knock off now and get some sleep.
Wednesday, April 9, 2008. Last week, I noticed fresh tar in some cracks in the streets. Looks like the street department wasn't wasting any time, once things warmed up.
I got out for a few minutes today, and enjoyed the spring weather. Good thing, too, since there's a winter weather advisory, starting about 1:00 tomorrow afternoon, and running until Saturday morning. We could get half a foot of snow or more.
Then again, we might not. The last time there was snow forecast, it went north of us.
Another change in town that I missed: There's a new eatery (or at any rate, a new name) below The Palms Motel: Bourbon Street Restaurant and Lounge ("Taste of New Orleans"). New Orleans? In Sauk Centre, Minnesota? Works for me.
There's more to show, including a wooden golfing bear: but this is it for now.
Monday, April 7, 2008. I've crossed out the major-league goofs in the last two entries (Friday's and Sunday's). I thought of deleting them, but the idea didn't sit well. my explanation (excuse?) is that I still haven't quite caught up on sleep. Besides, there was quite a news blitz on the MLK topic, Friday.
On more important matters: we had a light coat of snow this morning, almost enough to fill in the spaces between blades of grass. All of it - as far as I could tell - was gone by sunset.
As long as I'm here, a word about my webcam on Sauk Centre's south side. It's at the corner of Ash and 9th Street South: and give a fine view of some of the Ash Street Project's work.
Sunday, April 6, 2008.
It's been a wet weekend. The snow we expected went north of us, which I don't mind. It's starting to look like spring and/or summer, apart from the occasional shaded snowdrifts.
Deacon Kaas's carpal tunnel surgery will have to wait. The knee replacement he got was working fine, until he twisted it. Or, at any rate, it got twisted. He's getting around with a walker and will power. We're waiting to learn more.
There's been a really bad bug going around for the last month or so. I haven't seen anything about it the news - and haven't looked very hard. I doubt that it's the sort of thing that's easy to pin down. Whatever it is, it acts like a cold, with some lower g.i. tract unpleasantness.
Mostly, it's been more of an annoyance than anything: but it sounds like one family in the area got hit very hard. A young couple's infant had what appeared to be a cold. They did everything right, took the kid to a doctor, the whole nine yards: and a little after that, their child was dead. That hurts.
The street sweeper has been roaring up and down Ash Street, cleaning up the winter's grit. Even with the construction that's coming, I suppose that makes sense. It'll be dusty enough this summer, without traffic redistributing the winter's accumulation first.
The Ash Street Project is still bearing down on us. I understand the need for repair and maintenance. That doesn't mean I'm going to like the mess in what's left of the front yard this summer: and having to find other ways of getting the van out.
The Sauk Herald did a good job of reporting, in week-before-last's paper (March 25, 2008): but may have left an inaccurate impression. The headline read, "Ash street residents oppose sidewalk decision," and the first sentence was: "Two Ash Street residents opposed the council's decision to put a sidewalk on the west side of Ash Street as part of the 2008 reconstruction project."
Accurate, as far as it goes. But I know it's not the whole story. There are at least three Ash Street residence who oppose the council's decision about a west side sidewalk. I'm not convinced that it's the best decision: but I didn't put my signature on the petition.
I put a copy of that petition, and my reasons for not signing it, in the March 14, 2008, entry.
Friday, April 4, 2008.
Which reminds me: I have something to say about the Ash Street thing. It'll have to wait until Sunday, though. I'm still waking up from night-before-last's all-nighter with my tax records. (A little more about that at "Thursday: Beautiful Day with Ducks.")
Funny, I used to rebound from things like that faster, back in the seventies.
There's been a change downtown, and I missed when it happened. It's not as big a change as the one back in 2003, when "all star PIZZA" closed and The Grand Buffet Chinese Restaurant opened at the pizzeria's location. The Chinese restaurant's telephone number is still the same as it's been since then, but now it's called "Lucky Bamboo Chinese Restaurant."
The weather has been changing, too. We had snow Monday, beautifully clear weather for part of the day after, more snow, and now today was a balmy sixty-something with blue skies and warm sun. I understand that there's snow coming tomorrow.
All the times I've heard Minnesota's weather described, "boring" was never mentioned.
Ah, spring! That rapturous season when a duck's fancy turns to another duck. I saw a pair obliviously waddling along a street near downtown today.
Granted, it was a lovely day for a stroll, and the traffic was light, but that was a bird-brained place to take a constitutional.
Let's see: taxes; Lucky Bamboo; flowers and snow; daft ducks. I seem to have covered everything. Apart from that Ash Street business. But, that'll wait.
Wednesday, April 2, 2008. Snow on Monday, a beautifully clear day yesterday, a little more snow today. So far, this week has been "typical" Minnesota spring weather. All we're missing is a thunderstorm, a blizzard, and sixty-degree weather.
I have until tomorrow morning, to get my 2007 tax information together, so the rest of today's entry will have to wait until tomorrow.
Sunday, March 30, 2008. Mercy Sunday. Quite a few years ago, my wife and I got married here in Sauk Centre, the day before Mercy Sunday. The next day, Sauk Centre was dedicated to The Divine Mercy: quite possibly the first town to be dedicated that way.
Anyway, winter is melting. We call the process "spring." I've started wearing a medium-weight jacket when I go outside, and the snowmen are starting to show their age. Grass is green, brown, grayish-brown, and everything in between. These photos will give a better idea of what it's like: It's the old 'picture worth a thousand words' thing.
That's all for now, until next time, when there will be more.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008. Alco is closing its Sauk Centre store. 'Store Closing Sale' signs are in the window. It's a rather somber sight. I thought they had a good operation there, and I'll be sorry to see it go. And, I sympathize with the folks who will be looking for work now.
The Alco closing is the one change lately in Sauk Centre businesses that I think might have happened because Wal-Mart moved into town. Alco is a discount department store, like Wal-Mart, and I suspect that the businesses were too similar - and that Sauk Centre isn't big enough for two, yet.
On a brighter or at least different, note, First National Bank isn't in Sauk Centre any more: Despite what it says on that old-fashioned clock. As of last Saturday (March 22), First National Bank of Sauk Centre and Lake Country State Bank merged.
Now they're Minnesota National Bank. The 'new' bank started operations on Monday. Their FAQ says that they're working with pretty much the same people in the same jobs: for which I'm glad.
"I'm dreaming of a white Easter" might have been the theme for the Maundy Thursday - Easter Sunday period. We had a Christmassy covering of snow.
There's more: I'll get to that tomorrow night, I trust.
Monday, March 24, 2008. I did it again. I've run out of day, and still have tasks left over. Sunday's entry is going to bump into Wednesday's, at this rate.
Sunday, March 23, 2008. I did it again. It's actually Monday, when I'm writing this, and the photos, and what I have to write, aren't ready. I haven't exactly been wasting my time (Through One Dad's Eye tells what I've been up to), but it didn't get the Sauk Centre Journal done.
However, I intend to get working at it again, after a few hours sleep.
Thursday, March 20, 2008. It's Maundy Thursday, so this family went to Mass at Our Lady of the Angels Church today, along with quite a few other people.
Easter, at least the greeting-card variety, is supposed to be bright, blue, warm weather. It's been warm, above freezing at any rate, but the sky has been either overcast, or really overcast.
Maybe that's why there aren't as many Easter displays out this year. At least, I haven't noticed them. There are some, though.
I won't be back until Sunday night, so: Happy Easter!
Wednesday, March 19, 2008.
Actually, it's Thursday already. I didn't get yesterday's entry done. Right now, I plan to put the mid-week entry up later Thursday evening.
Sunday, March 16, 2008. The day after St. Patrick's Day!
So, Happy St. Patrick's Day, a day late! St. Pat's day is usually March 17, but this year that would have run it into Holy Monday. I didn't realize this until yesterday. (I see that things are back to normal next year.)
It's also Palm Sunday, the start of Holy Week. This family brought palm fronds home from church, as usual, and will probably be weaving them tomorrow evening. Maybe tonight, but I doubt that.
As usual, hats off to householders who decorate for the holidays. One of our neighbors is particularly energetic that way. He was on the roof, yesterday. I think he was stringing lights. Right now, that house is configured for St. Patrick's Day. My guess is that there'll be a scramble soon, and when it's over there will be something of a culturally-Easter nature on display.
I'm looking forward to that.
It's springtime in Minnesota. Snow is melting, receding to reveal patches of grass, and a winter's accumulation of dust and dirt. I spent part of Saturday and Sunday, grilling lunch: as usual.
Much as I like the crisp blues, whites and grays of winter, I'll be glad when the snow and ice is completely gone.
Friday, March 14, 2008. A neighbor of mine stopped by this morning, with a petition. It's about the Ash Street project. He isn't too happy about how it's working out, and - more to the point - how it's been handled.
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