In the Midwest we often joke that, “if you don’t like the weather, wait 15 minutes.” It sure felt like that today.

The fog was so thick during my morning commute that I questioned the safety of driving. Caring about safety as I do, I pulled over and took some photos. (Because as we know, the safest place during any crisis is behind a camera.)

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By the time I reached work the fog had burned off and it was a beautiful morning. I expected the same sunshine as I exited my office, but instead was greeted by an ominous roiling sky.

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If it had been 15 or 20 degrees warmer, I would have worried about a tornado; all the signs were there.

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But nothing came of the bulbous mammatus clouds, which followed me home for a bit and then dissipated in my rear-view mirror.

They were soon replaced by a sunset that defied description. I swear on the bones of my forebears that these JPEGs are exactly what came out of my camera — no Photoshop, except to add a border.

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And of course I was witnessing this magnificent scene in a shopping-mall parking lot. AAARGH.

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Something tells me this isn’t the last of the fireworks though: It’s only February 21. Anything could happen! And if I’m lucky, I’ll be there to witness it with my camera.

This post is dedicated with love to a special someone in Florida who is having surgery tomorrow. I’ll be thinking of you and sending positive vibes! ❤︎

On my desktop sits a folder called “funnies.” Some of its contents date back to the earliest days of the internet, so I no longer remember their source.

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The internet circa 1973. I had a lot fewer bookmarks back then.

But no matter: Whenever I’m having a rough day, the “funnies” file always brings a smile. I hope these selected nuggets will bring a laugh your way today, too.

Let’s start with a follow-up to my most recent post, about the importance of saying “I love you.” ICH LIEBE DICH!!! Because life is short. And terrifying.

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Speaking of languages … English isn’t always a stroll in the park, either.

english-loose-grammar-blogThe breadth of our borrowed vocabulary can lead to some pretty funny auto-corrects, like these helpful suggestions from my email at work:

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And let us not overlook the power of a single misplaced letter …

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Yes, this mess we’re in is all your fault, you satin worshipers. Darn you to heck!

Not to mention how a news story can change when you append the byline to the headline:

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Remember …

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Another category in my funnies file is “signs of the times.” These are fairly self-explanatory so I will provide them without further comment.

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OK, I lied. I *have* to comment. THIS is why we always hit “preview,” folks. Always! Yikes.

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And this is why you should always hire a pro to illustrate your drowning signs, LOL.
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Umm … thanks for the encouragement, but no thanks.
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Then there is the category of “infographics and charts.”
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I also have a subcategory of Beatles-related infographics. Like this one that quantifies the historical concentration of localized troubles in Yesterday:

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And for anyone who has gotten stuck in an infinite loop while singing Hey Jude, finally there is help:

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And let us not forget IKEA! If you have ever attempted assembling something from the jolly Swedish giant you will appreciate these instructions for building a HËNJ. Notice that it calls for 10,000 people, though, so maybe recruit some friends on Facebook before you unpack it.

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Speaking of Facebook: Here’s a post from a friend that really made me laugh. I haven’t had arms like that since I was in my 20s!

unrealistic-body-image-blogAnd then there is Facebook itself, with its suggestion that I tag a planter as one of my friends.

facebook-tagging-fail-blogfacebook-tagging-fail-detail-blogFacebook also flunked geography in placing some photos from Cancun, Mexico just off the African coast. (Though in all fairness maybe Cancun *used* to be there before Pangaea broke up.)

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The funnies folder also has a few things created by yours truly for the amusement of her friends, such as this manufactured Mac dialog box …

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… this birthday greeting for a yogi pal …

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… and this disturbing image of my husband as a youth, thanks to a malfunctioning scanner. Ironically, he really did grow up to be that tall.

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And the rest of the folder, you ask? The rest of it is filled with assorted, random treasures I’ve collected over the years.

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Well, that’s about enough for today. Thanks for stopping by, and cheers to you from fair  Llanfairpwllgwyngwllgogerychwyrndrobwyllllatysiliogogogoch!

 


The first time I met Aunt Lisa, Esteban and I had rented a Plymouth Reliant in Queens and had driven it through rain and sleet almost 300 miles north to Lake Placid. I remember almost every mile thanks to the bald tires and absent windshield wipers (which presumably had been stolen back in Queens).

Lisa wasn’t there to receive us when we arrived, but I liked her instantly by proxy: The photos of her and her husband, beaming in their kayaks and on the slopes, spoke of a life well lived.

Over the next 30 years I grew to admire her. Lisa was a wonderful listener and was always quick to laugh, even when the joke was of dubious quality. Her soft-spoken ways belied her sharp intellect.

From her social graces to her simple life, her devotion to her family and her love of the outdoors, Lisa was my role model in so many ways.

It’s a pity I never told her that. Lisa died of cancer last Saturday, and now I’ll never get the chance.

Don’t put off saying “I love you.”


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Graphic created with images and posts compiled from UNICEF’s Twitter feed. All images copyright UNICEF.
Read more about UNICEF’s work with refugees.


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Image copyright Pete Souza / White House

After shooting some 15,000 frames in the past 12 months it took me a while to choose my 2016 Picture of the Year. But here it is, at last: Supermoon over Downtown.

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I know what you’re thinking. “IT’S TOTALLY OUT OF FOCUS!” Which is why it seems like a perfect metaphor for my past year.

2016 was the year I tried to do too much. In my zeal to get better at everything, I succeeded at improving nothing. Why? Because I lacked focus.

I bought into the myth of multitasking, that doing more yields more. But as the photo above attests, maybe I would have gotten better results if I’d focused just on my photography. (Or my driving.)

That’s why I’m again copying my blog-friend Jim in choosing a theme word for the year ahead — but only one: focus. If all goes according to plan, by the end of 2017 … well, you’ll see.

I’ll leave you with some reading that informed my choice of 2017’s theme word, and with my heartfelt wishes for a happy, healthy, rewarding year ahead.

 

Want to get more done? Try “monotasking.”

Feeling anxious and scattered? Maybe it’s your multitasking.

Is time getting away from you? Here’s one way to change that perception.


It’s been a wild weather week in the Midwest.

Last Sunday the thermometer plunged to 25 below zero (-31.666 Celsius). As an exotic tropical import, I find this intolerable. I’ve never gotten used to my eyes freezing shut, or having my hands turn into painful, purple stumps. I’ve also never adjusted to the fact that the sun is purely ornamental.

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There are some things I love, though — like the brittle sound jet engines make, as if the sky itself might crack. And I especially love the clarity. When it’s this cold, the air looks as crisp as it feels and the sky turns extra-blue.

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Last Monday was unusual because some moisture managed to stay in the atmosphere — albeit as ice crystals — causing this rare “icebow” as the sun rose. Too bad I had to choose between keeping an appointment and getting a decent photo. (I kept the appointment.)

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Less than a week later, on Christmas day, we had proper thunderstorms with lightning and torrential downpours. And today the wind was gusting so fiercely that taking the trash out felt like walking into a leaf-blower — but not in a good way.

And what might tomorrow bring? That’s anyone’s guess. A plague of frogs, perhaps, or scattered meteors.

I’ll keep you posted.

 


In memory of Leonard Cohen, 9/21/1934 – 11/10/2016

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October has been a full month. Friends have been ailing. My loved ones have had health scares. I’ve been busy at work. I’ve been busy at home, too, as Esteban and I have begun preparing our home for sale. But through it all I’ve tried to pause for a few minutes of stillness and reflection every day. And although none of the resulting photos is a masterpiece, at least I have a record of the moments I may have otherwise missed.

October 1
The kids next door held an epic party. The next morning my neighbor across the alley found a pair of shoes in her pond. All I got was an all-night hip-hop soundtrack, and the time to finally dig into my vacation photos from last May.

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October 9

A flock of wild turkeys ran toward me in the woods. I thought I was about to earn The Most Interesting Obituary of the Year, but it turns out they were just habituated and looking for handouts. We all parted peacefully, if a little disappointed.

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October 15

One of my walks around Como Lake coincided with a fundraiser for brain-tumor research. “There are nearly 700,000 individuals in the U.S. living with a brain tumor,” read one of the signs. I felt grateful to be one of the lucky ones who is truly living and not merely surviving.

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October 16

After a summer of gorging on our compost, our resident squirrel finally got too corpulent to run away from us. Soon it will be sound asleep, and I’ll miss the thumpa-thumps of its furry Riverdance on our roof in the morning.

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October 17

I decided to sell a bunch of stuff on eBay. I took the pictures, but never listed anything. Oh, well. Maybe next year.

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October 22

Even from a block away I could spot our ash tree’s golden leaves shimmering against the deep-blue fall sky. An hour later I was cursing these same leaves for sticking to the wet paint I’d just put on the garage.

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October 23
During a morning walk in my neighborhood I spotted this sign on a business that has survived a market crash, a fire, and Minneapolis’ new zoning laws. I immediately adopted it as my new personal motto.

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Also, I paused to admire my city’s beautiful urban canopy — and another rotund squirrel.

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October 23

After 30-some years of driving past the Gibbs Farm Museum, I finally went inside. It merits its own post, but here are a couple of teasers.

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October 29

Esteban and I voted. Those may have been our most important 10 minutes of 2016.

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October 30

From historic walks to run-ins with rattlesnakes, the tiny town of Frontenac has hosted many wild adventures with my friend Pam. Sunday’s visit was more subdued, in keeping with the season’s muted hues — but still beautiful.

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October 31

I got the results from my annual physical, and it appears my growing girth has brought a rise in blood pressure and cholesterol, too. That means no Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups for me this year. Sigh. Happy Halloween anyway.

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Years ago, when we still had our dog Arrow, Esteban and I used to hike in a state park almost every weekend. But after Arrow died and our lives grew more complicated we slowly abandoned the habit.

I’d almost forgotten we even had state parks in Minnesota until my friend Silke — who was visiting from Paris a couple of weeks ago — specifically requested a prairie walk. I was glad to oblige, and we were blessed with a gorgeous day.

This post goes out to Silke with my thanks for not only reintroducing me to William O’Brien State Park, but also for being the perfect prairie roam companion.

À très bientôt, j’espère !




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