Posts Tagged ‘Minnesota’

A Minnesota Spirit of Giving

Bill FoussardThis is a re-post from a couple of years ago. It is definitely worth reading again. What an amazing man and selfless giver.

Back in 1970, Bill Foussard and his friend, Barb Aslesen, heard about a friend’s family that was not going to be able to afford a Thanksgiving dinner.  They immediately sprang to action planning to cook extra in Bill’s kitchen and deliver a full meal to them on Thanksgiving morning.  A few people heard what they were doing and asked Bill and Barb if they could help out with feeding two more families.  Those three families amounted to twenty four meals that inaugural year; this year they will feed 19,000 people.

Owner of the Best Western White Bear Country Inn in White Bear Lake Minnesota, Bill is no stranger to making connections.  That is how this Thanksgiving Meals on Wheels program works, all through volunteerism and donations.  Having no paid staff, a hundred percent of cash donations go to the program.  When I asked him where he got all the food, Bill gave all the credit to others, “People are just generous!”  Some of their contributors are Jennie-O turkeys in Minnesota and US Foods headquartered in Illinois.  They even get donations of some of their rolls from a bakery in Omaha, all a testament of the regional spirit of giving.

Initially they cooked the meals in Bill’s mother’s kitchen; feeding up to 400 people.  When the program outgrew that space, they moved to a mobile kitchen, working out of the Prom Ballroom in St. Paul.  After that location was torn down, they settled in their current location at Cretin Derham High School in St. Paul.    This is a convenient setting for the 3000 volunteers who start rolling in at 4:00 AM to cook and 7:30 to deliver.  The cars are on the road by eight with a minimum of two volunteers per vehicle.  Often times it is a family affair.  Since they are done with all the deliveries by eleven, people still have plenty of time to enjoy the rest of their day.

Barb works with over thirty agencies to find the families who are in need.  This year they will enjoy dinners of turkey, dressing, potatoes, peas, corn, cranberries, rolls, pumpkin pie and milk.  When I asked Bill how much time he spends all year organizing this amazing undertaking, he deferred any accolades, “I never talk about time.  That morning is so special.”  But I know Bill; his phone is like an extra appendage.  And if you think he gets to rest after Thanksgiving, you’re wrong!  He’ll be preparing for the Christmas party he is hosting for 150 local seniors at his hotel.

If you would like to volunteer for Thanksgiving Meals on Wheels in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, please contact Bill at 651-699-5404.  For people like Bill and Barb…we are truly thankful.


A Cold and Misty Start to October

Frosty Path

It was such a great morning; I couldn’t resist hopping on my bike and snapping a few pictures.


It was cold, but definitely worth it!

Mist on Calm Waters

These pictures were shot in Watertown, MN at Riverpointe Park.

My Favorite Tree

One of my favorite trees in the park!

Shallow Crow River

Shallow waters on the South Crow River.

Trees on the Path

Natural carnage. Could be old, could be tornado!

Purple Holdouts

No one told them it’s fall!

Misty Dock

The little fishing dock.

Smells Like A Memory


There’s something I love about a city waking up. Especially when it’s a little cooler outside and you can feel fall is looming.  The air seems fresher, just a faint hint of diesel as the trucks and buses begin to move.  Most days you can still smell the dampness of the pavement from the morning dew and an aroma of anything-is-possible is carried on the breeze.

I was enjoying just such a morning the other day as I was out for a walk in Minneapolis. Then I caught a whiff of coffee wafting by.  All of a sudden I was transported back to a tiny town in Southern Spain where I lived in the 1980’s.  I could still picture the scene as if it was unfolding before me that very moment.  The businessmen and shop keepers would be pulling back the gates to their ground-level businesses.  Women would pause briefly to chat while stepping outside to dump the day’s mop water.  Young people would walk past, often times shaking off a sangria-induced haze from the previous evening.  It was Spain coming to life.

As I would watch from my balcony, the smell of cappuccino and espresso would float up to me, calling out for me to come have coffee. Sometimes I had the strength to ignore it.  Many times I did not.  I would follow my nose to the corner shop to enjoy a diminutive cup of deliciousness.  But who could stop there?  The freshly fried churros were like little fingers waving me over, pointing out that amazing chocolate that went along with them so nicely.  Sigh.  How could a girl say no?

Then the sound of a bike coming up alongside me brings me back to reality, back to Minnesota. For a moment I am sad, missing my lazy Spanish mornings and afternoons filled with siestas.  But then I think of where I am, who’s around me.  I take a deep breath and remember why I’m glad I’m here.  A crisp Minnesota morning and the city is just waking up.  I sip my tea and walk on.



The Best Vacation in Minnesota

cozy tent

Nestled deep into the trees on the Minnesota/Canada border, this is where we spent our vacation last week.  After you’ve been in the hotel business for a few decades, this is the place to go to get away from it all.  No phones, no technology, and only the people you want to bring with you.  Yep, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is just about heaven.

Corissa Fishing

We spend most of our days (and some nights) fishing for walleye. I don’t think I’ve ever had as much good luck catching as we do up there.  At one point in the canoe with the Hub and the Caboose, we caught four fish in less than two minutes.  It was crazy and we loved it.  There is nothing better than fresh fish right out of the lake and into the pan.  My mouth is watering just remembering it!

Tea and GrishamI take a day or two the week before to cook and freeze our other meals.  This helps to keep the jugs of ice and cases of frozen water bottles cold.  It also makes it easier to cook up there, and I’m all about relaxing, not cooking, when I’m on vacation.  Since I’m the first one up, I even get quiet time with my vanilla chai tea and a little Grisham.  I realize we’re roughing it, but a girl needs a little pampering.

The ClotheslineThe campsite we were at this year was great for swimming.  This worked out splendidly since it was very hot and we needed to cool off at least once a day.  We string the clothesline up between trees and dry our suits and towels.  The kids did a lot of diving but the Hub and I did a lot more lazing in the water.  Circle of life, I guess.

HammockAnd if the slow pace takes its toll, you just hop in the hammock and watch the clouds go by.  Or watch your eyelids, it really is a great place to nap.

Basswood SunsetIt might seem like a lot of work, but when you see sunsets like this every night after supper, it makes it all worth it.  The BWCAW…over a million acres of paradise.


Solstice Fun, Frolic, and Festivals

Das BootTomorrow is the summer solstice, the longest day of the year.  For many folks that is the real beginning of summer.  Since we’ve already had the air conditioning on (which is practically unheard of in my house!) it feels as though it’s been summer for a while.  Although this is nowhere near my favorite season by any means, I will try to make the best of it and enjoy the slower pace and festivities.

The caboose actually talked me into using a free trial offer we received at a local gym.  It’s the time of year where the heat and humidity are just gross, not exactly conducive to running.  At least not for me.  So, I figured what the heck, let’s check out the AC in the gym and hopefully have a win-win situation.  I’ll let you know how that works.

It also seems to be festival season in Minnesota.  This weekend alone we have Midsummer Days in North Branch (Hmmm, isn’t it really early summer?), Manitou Days in White Bear Lake, and GermanFest at the historic Schmidt Brewery in St. Paul.  I love the street dance and music of Midsummer Days, might have to catch that tonight.  And White Bear definitely knows how to throw a party.  I love the marketplace they have, the arts and crafts fair, beach dance, pub crawls…literally too much to list.  In fact, this festival is so huge that it goes until the Fourth of July!

I’ve said in previous posts that the Hub is a hundred percent German.  I think there may be some kraut, dancing, and beer drank from footwear in my future.  If you don’t know what that means, they like to drink beer from “Das Boot”, a large glass boot-shaped drinking vessel.  By the way, there are rules that go along with drinking from Das Boot.  And ignorance of the law is no excuse.  Just make sure if you go to GermanFest that you’re wearing your dancin’ boots.  Because like the brochure says,   “If Polka’s wrong, we don’t want to be right.”  Yes!  Happy summer, everyone, happy summer indeed.

Well Played, Mother Nature

Lily of the Valley

This week started out good; the weather was mild, all of our snow had melted, and spring was in the air. Then came Wednesday, and a foot and a half of snow. Mother Nature is a cruel, cruel beast. We no longer could see the tulips stretching above ground seeking sun. Instead we saw piles and piles of snow. Sigh.

tulip bulbs

It came down so fast and so furious, but in a very bizarre fashion. The northern parts of the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro and up where we are got buried. The south metro only got rain. What the…?! Yes, a cruel spring prank indeed. Well played, Mother Nature, well played.


Thankfully I planted my grape tomatoes in small, movable pots where they can get plenty of sun inside. And thankfully we’ll see normal weather this week. Whatever that means in Minnesota.

Tomato Plants

5 Tips for Future Hockey Parents

Hockey Sticks

It’s “Spring Forward” weekend for us Daylight Savings folks.  Normally that brings images of grass and flowers sprouting in the long-awaited warmth.  Sigh.  But here in The State of Hockey, it’s Minnesota high school hockey tournament week.  Ah, hockey.  Where moms watch (yell) in the stands and dads watch (yell) around the glass.  It’s really a great system.

Hockey Van

In case you’re not or have never been a hockey parent, and you may be in the future, here are my top five tips for you:

  • Hockey practice is never cancelled.  Seriously, never.  Don’t call the coach.  Don’t call the manager.  Just wake up your kid and get to the ice.  Trust me.
  • Always (and I mean always) keep multiple blankets, hats, scarves, and mittens in your vehicle.  Oh, your team will be inside?  Silly, they play on ice.  It is freezing.  Bring the extra gear to the stands.  People will think you’ve got it all together and you will be very popular.
  • You will always need to have at least one vehicle that seats a small army.  Even if you personally only own one child, you will acquire others.  And their smelly bags.  Believe me, in a confined space, you want those as far away from you as possible.  Yes, I know your child is clean.  But he will smell…and his gear will smell even worse.
  • Never leave home without your cowbell or some sort of manufactured clapping device.  Laryngitis is not sexy.  And you will yell…regardless of your previous demeanor, you will be magically transformed into a hockey mom.
  • Learn the lyrics to The Gear Daddies “Zamboni” song.  It will give you immense pleasure to roust your children out of bed for those 5:00 A.M. practices when you can sing a little as you move from room to room.

 Hockey Mom

So as I leave you to retake my seat in front of the televised, non-stop action, remember to spring forward this weekend and always be a good sport.  And here’s a little joke that I swear my mother-in-law could’ve written:

Four women bragged about their children over coffee.  The first says, “My son is a priest.  When he walks into a room, everyone calls him father.”
The next woman tries to top her, “Really?  My son married the princess of a small European country and when he walks into the room, people call him your highness!”
The third woman chirps, “Well, my son is a cardinal of the church.  Whenever he walks into a room, people call him your eminence!”
The fourth woman is just sitting there sipping her coffee silently as the other three look at her. Finally she smiles and says, “Oh.  My son is a very large and handsome hockey player.  Whenever he walks into a room, women say, “OH MY GOD…!”