Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Police blotter.


You may have noticed that I haven't been posting as many snippets from the police blotter as usual during the last few months.  Well, this one I can blame on something other than blog neglect and my own general laziness; the reason I haven't been posting police blotters like I used to is that the local newspaper stopped printing them.  I don't know why -- I don't know if it was a staffing issue, or if they don't have the space to run them in the paper, or what -- but I miss them dearly and I know other readers do, too.  (There've been a handful of letters to the editor complaining about it, though I haven't taken the time to write one myself since, well, I'm not sure they even have an editor on-staff right now since they've had so much turnover lately.)  They'd been running excerpts from the police blotter for as long as I can remember, so I'm not sure what prompted them to stop all of a sudden.

For a little while, I thought I'd be able to bridge the gap myself -- earlier this year, the Ashland Police Department started posting pdfs of their blotters on their website.  It required a little more legwork on my part, but I kind of got a kick out of scrolling through all the reports, finding the funny stuff.  But then, alas, they quit posting theirs at the end of May.  Sad face.

Admittedly, I primarily find all of this a bummer because of the sheer comedic mileage I've gotten out of them over the years.  I can remember cutting them out from the newspaper when I was in high school, and during summers when I was home from college, mailing them to my roommates down in the Twin Cities...one of my all-time favorites was "loud, ugly Harley reported driving eastbound on Highway 2."  (I mean, "ugly" -- that's subjective.)  Another:  "report of kittens in mailbox."  There was even one about a pie being stolen from a windowsill once -- seriously.  The goofier entries in the blotter encapsulated what makes living in a small town so fun and ridiculous; if you went in the ditch or hit a deer, you'd wait and see if your call made the blotter in the paper.

But the blotters were a public service, too.  While I only posted the funny stuff here, there were a lot of serious things in there, too, like there are in any community.  Domestic violence calls...theft...burglary...car accidents, fires, fraud.  When a rash of paintball vandalism would pop up on some random avenue in the east end, people could see it in the blotter and know to pay attention where they parked until the hoodlums were caught.  Seeing a string of burglaries and reading about it in there made people pay attention to their houses & their neighbors', too.  You'd show up to find the funny stuff, and you'd stay to keep a pulse on the more serious stuff.  (Or I did, anyway.)

I don't know if they're ever planning on bringing the blotters back -- I suspect it's a staffing issue, but who knows.  In the meantime, I'm hoarding the last few entries I had left in my stash...but tonight, for old time's sake, here's one to savor.


Sunday, 4:38 P.M.:  Caller wants an officer to call his girlfriend's mother and tell her to stop texting and calling him a "piece of shit."



P.S.  Maybe if lots of people write and ask for the blotters to come back, it'll help?

Dylan does Duluth (again).


There was a Bob Dylan concert!  In Duluth!  During the busiest, most hectic week of my entire summer!

Me & my mom went anyway.  We were there when he & Paul Simon came in 1999, and I was there in the cheap seats when he snuck through town in 1998, too...it seemed a shame to miss the third time, even though it was really bad timing (for me).  My brother Nick tagged along, too, mostly to take in the spectacle.

July 9.

As an added bonus, it was down at Bayfront Park -- one of the prettiest concert venues in the Midwest, as far as I'm concerned.

Wilco.

And as another added bonus, Wilco was on the bill, too.  My mom had no idea who they were, but I thought they put on a fine show (as usual).

Boats taking in the show for free.

Plus, we stood near the water and watched all the boaters and kayakers taking in the show for free.  They're scofflaws, but pretty awesome scofflaws.

Eventually, Bob Dylan came out.

Bob Dylan.

Nick, upon hearing Bob Dylan start to sing.
(Nick, upon hearing Bob Dylan sing live for the first time.)

Antenna farm in the distance.

Mom & Nick.

Now my mom can say she's had her picture taken with Bob Dylan, and it won't be factually inaccurate.

Boats out on the water.

Oops -- I almost forgot -- we saw this in the parking ramp and busted a gut:

The Pervertible.

Well-played, Duluth.  Well-played. You never cease to delight me.



Monday, July 29, 2013

What's making me happy this week.


I had a ton of plants when I lived in Helena.  It wasn't on purpose.  I mean, I like plants and all, but when you're in your early 20s and tend to move around a lot, the last thing you need to accumulate are heavy pots full of dirt.

And yet, I had a ton of plants.  Mostly because as friends kept coming & going, moving in & out of state, somehow their plants all wound up at my apartment.  What can I say -- I had lots of shelves and lots of windows.  It seemed the neighborly thing to do.


Kitchen.
(Weirdly, this is one of few pictures I can find of my old apartment that shows any plants.
This was just a drop in the bucket, I swear.)

When the time came for my own move back east, I was worried that I'd have trouble finding new homes for most of my collection.  But good karma came back to me -- after taking in so many other VISTAs' frond-y friends, when I threw out an e-mail to the current crop of volunteers serving in town, several of them came over with boxes and whisked the bulk of the 'em away, where they probably eventually got passed on to even more strange new homes as those people left town.  The circle of life and all that.  The rest wound up over at my friends Emily & Kevin's house, and last I heard, when they sold that house, a lot of the plants stayed with it...

Anyway:  when I came back, there were two plants I wanted to bring with me. One was named Wendell Gee.  (Yes, named after an R.E.M. song.)  I'd gotten Wendell at Target when I was in college in Duluth during my sophomore year, and after miraculously keeping it alive for that long (including during the move out to Montana), I felt I owed it to him to get him back to his mother country.  Alas, Wendell was kind of scraggily and old by then, and the trip took a lot out of him.  He made it back to Wisconsin, but I think he finally bit the dust and had his last leaf fall off by Christmas that year.

The other plant was named Milton. Milton came to me via a styrofoam coffee cup one day during my second VISTA term; a coworker with a good sense of humor in a neighboring cubicle had taken a shine to the antics of me & my buddy Ryan and when her spider plant erupted with babies, she wanted us to have one.  "You guys are HILARIOUS.  Oh my god, don't ever grow up and leave, the office will be so boring without you."  We named it Milton and kept a red stapler nearby.

Long story short, Milton wound up at my apartment, then he wound up in my Lumina, then he wound up in Wisconsin, and he's been here ever since.

Like his namesake, he's always been kind of squat and sulky.  Hasn't grown much, even when I've made the effort to move him to sunnier/shadier spots, or into bigger pots, or gave him new dirt or fertilizer once in a while.  He's never even come close to having any babies, which has always struck me as odd since the plant he came off of was popping them out like gangbusters.  But still, he wasn't looking sickly or wilting or anything, so I figured I'd just let him be.


But then, last week:


July 27.

Poof!  Out of nowhere, that big long tendril!  With little eensy-weensy babies on the end!!  Squeal!

I don't know what set this off.  He hasn't been moved lately, hasn't been getting more sun, hasn't been getting more water...he's just a late bloomer, I guess.  Better late than never, Milton.

(I just hope he's not planning any sort of fiery revenge like his movie version.  I'll make sure not to move his desk down to the basement, just in case.)



Oredock demolition update.


It's getting near the end. Literally.

From the east side.

Crane.

Surreal.

From the west side.


Tugboat by the end of the dock.


Enjoy.


Sunday, July 28, 2013

Like a breath of fresh air from the west...


July 6.

Emily & her family came to town!  I'm embarrassed that she's gotten here two years in a row, and I haven't been out there since 2011...and I don't have three kids and a family's worth of stuff to organize to make the trip.  Maybe I'll do better in 2014.  Huzzah to having a new job with more vacation days, huzzah!

Anyway:  it was beyond lovely having them in town, especially over the 4th of July.  The 4th is one of the best days of the year in Ashland -- between the parade, the fire run, the fireworks, and all the other goofy stuff going on, it's the high point of the whole summer and I'm so glad Emily was able to be here and share that goofiness with Kevin & the kids.

Plus -- the beach!  This year, the water was ice cold and it was a lot harder to coax the kids in than last year (when it was freakishly warm) -- but it's good that they got to experience that, too.  I don't think they believed all the stories me & Emily were telling them about how cold it normally is last year...now, they've been set straight.

At the beach.)

At the beach.

At the beach.

Romance novel cover.

The kids still haven't quite mastered the whole "don't walk on the towel with your wet, sandy feet" thing, though.  Maybe next time?

Still learning why not to walk on towels with wet, sandy feet.


Highlights from the 4th of July.


The parade was pretty great this year -- more floats than usual, and since I watched it down in the west end, I got home way earlier than when I watch it on the east end (and have to wait forever & ever for everything to get that far, with horses pooping and tractors breaking down and people stopping their floats in the middle of the parade to chitchat with their friends on the sidewalk).  I love a parade and all, but I particularly love an efficiently-paced parade.  What can I say, I'm German.


Oredock float in the parade.

Awesome oredock float, complete with a Barbie doll jumping off the top.
It kinda seems like cheating if there's a wheel on the end...

Isn't it kind of cheating if there's a wheel on the bottom?

Maybe it was just us...

Maybe it was just us...but on first glance, what with the "flying high" sign and all the plants, we thought this was a float about legalizing marijuana. I mean, from a distance, the helicopter kinda looks like...well...

(On second throught, it wasn't just us, because we heard half the people around us whispering the same thing.)

You get to drink from...the fire hose!!


You get to drink from...the fire hose!!

And have I mentioned yet that we had special guests from Montana in town for the 4th?
Soaked.

And that my friend Peter got interviewed on the news?
Area man.

Then there was the city band concert.  I've been a terribly unreliable city bander this year, but managed to keep it together long enough to make it to the concert on the 4th.
End of the band concert.

The requisite standing ovation after our rousing rendition of "Stars and Stripes Forever." Or as I think of it every year, "SOUSA!  SOUSA!  SOUSA!!!" 
(This tends to cross my mind at least once per city band season, too.)

Then, Emily's husband and kids got to experience the fire run for the first time.
Emily's family experiences the fire run for the first time.


They found it about as confusing as they should've.

Last but not least: the fireworks.  We sat right at the edge of the hill where they were launching them off, and the kids were dazzled.  "Oohs" and "ahhs" aplenty.
July 4.


It's weird not hearing the reverberations zinging off the oredock, though. 
That'll take some getting used to.

Three steps forward, two steps back.


July's been crazy -- tons going on at work, tons going on at home -- so chances to take Toivo in to get weighed at the vet were few & far between.  I finally got him in almost two months to the day after he started his cat diet...and (drumroll please) he's down three pounds!  Now he weighs just a smidge over nineteen pounds, which is pretty awesome considering that he probably hasn't weighed less than twenty pounds since he was, like, a year old. 

July 19.
So (relatively) slender!

Alas, two days after that, we woke up to find this on the kitchen counter:

Mmm, forbidden donut.

The downside to Toivo losing weight and having more energy?  He has more energy.  And can jump up on the kitchen counter again.  The evening before we found the donut massacre, he found his way to an unattended bowl of potato chips and had his way with those, too.

Fearing his willpower is waning, we decided it was time to call in the big guns.

July 22.

Maybe Richard can keep him on the straight & narrow.


Tuesday, July 02, 2013

What's making me happy this week.


A mash-up of one of my favorite SNL skits, plus a song that's maybe just a smidge overplayed.



"It's a simple question. Would you eat the moon if it were made of ribs?"