Saturday, June 30, 2012

Big Stone Sculpture Park and Mini Golf: Part Deux

Today was a completely summery summer day, with temperatures in low 90s and barely a cloud in the sky.  Holly, Lydia, Magnus and I donned our sunhats, sunglasses and sunscreen and took off for a super secret surprise day (Holly gets mad props for agreeing to be surprised by my plan - It is hard to let go of the need for knowledge and control!).  Holly packed us a fabulous picnic and I surprised them with a day at Big Stone Sculpture Park and Mini Golf.   

Since I had been to Big Stone before, I was pretty confident they would love all of the art and the animals.  I'll let the pictures tell the rest of the story.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Make Way for (Falling) Ducklings

As I was leaving work today, I came across this cute scene.  A mama duck (I presume it is the mama) and her 5 little ducklings.  The location where I spotted them was pretty far from water, so it was strange to see them there.  I had my camera with me so I stopped to take some pictures.

I took a few pictures before I realized she was behaving strangely.  She seemed distressed and was pacing around.  She was quack, quack, quacking and pacing, pacing, pacing and it didn't seem to be related to my photo taking.  I finally put together what the issue was.

Here is what I figured out: She had laid her eggs on a terrace of the 2nd floor of this building.  So, think about that for a minute.  Five little ducklings and mama duck on the ground, but mama wasn't leaving.  Can you guess why? I'll tell you!  She didn't have all of her children down there with her!  You can see in the photo above that the terrace was pretty high up there.  The mama duck had hatched her eggs up there and when the time was right, she led her ducklings over the side of the wall.  The problem (besides the obviously enormous fall!) was that not all of them fell/jumped.  There were distress sounds coming from above.

Every time the mama heard the distress sounds, she would try to figure out where her little one was.  But, as soon as her little ones on the ground lost sight of her, they started to freak out.  Their overpowering distress forced her to come back to them.  This poor duck was being pulled from one crisis to the next with no available solution!  She kept looking at me in a very pointed way.  I am not sure if she was telling me to back off or if it was an exasperated plea for help.

I did end up calling the Landcare office to see if they could access the terrace.  Another passerby and I had determined it wasn't a space that could be accessed from inside of the building, so I was hoping for a ladder.  While I was waiting for someone to show up, a duckling made its way on to the ledge.  After much quacking and peeping, the little one scooted over to a rounded lip on the wall and fell off.  WHOA!  Thankfully the bushes below worked as a cushion. After the duckling got over the shock of falling, mama brought him/her into the fold.  At this point, I called Landcare again and said, "Nevermind!  Problem solved!"

Mama was heading on her way when all of the sudden, "PEEP! PEEP! PEEP!" Duckling number seven!  There was another one up there!  Another call to Landcare yielded the Facilities Management Duckling Rescue Crew: Mark and Andy.  Mark climbed up the tallest ladder they had, which was still too short to reach the terrace.  He wasted no time!  He climbed to the top of the ladder and then with a jump and a lot of upper body oomph, made his way over the ledge.

Duckling #7 was quickly found and passed down to Andy.  Notice how their tallest ladder was way too short to reach the 2nd floor!  I'm telling you, those ducklings all survived a very big fall!

Here is the cuteness I waited an entire hour to see!

Andy offered the little one to the mama who had backed off when the rescue crew arrived.

 I think the mama was grateful for the assistance.

Reunited, they continued on their adventure.  Fingers crossed that they made it to the river without any more drama!

Photo showing only 6 of the 7 ducklings as I didn't want to freak the mama out after we handled #7
A big thank you to the rescue crew.  My call for help came in at shift change, so I am impressed that Facilities Management was able to follow through and get the job done so quickly.  Way to go above and beyond (literally and figuratively!), Andy, Mark and Anatole (from dispatch - sorry if the spelling is off)!

It was totally worth missing my yoga class to be there for the happy ending!  

Dinner Date at Mosaic Cafe

Paul and I enjoyed a bike ride to the library followed by dinner at a newly reopened restaurant in our neighborhood last night.  Mosaic Cafe gets two thumbs up from me for their lentil walnut veggie burger.  Yum, yum, yum.  Since they just opened yesterday, they weren't very busy.  We had the whole patio to ourselves!  We will have to go back soon to try some of their frozen custard.

They have really cute feedback cards.  I hope our server got a kick out of our drawing.  We really did that face up fancy (not pictured)!

Unrelated, but also taken yesterday:
At the urging of my photo class, I am playing with setting my camera on the ground for pictures.  As it turns out, train drivers are weirded out by that.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Photo Evening with Jessy

This week, my sister Jessy picked me up from work and we went on an evening of wandering with our cameras.  Here are a few of the shots.

A stranger!  She actually made the first move.  We were taking pictures of  the shoe tree and she yelled out, "Want to take a picture of me?"  Well, hello universe, thank you for sending her to break the ice for me!

This gentlemen appears to be getting a little catch and release fishing in right after work.  He put his waders on right over his fancy business man clothes. 


Jessy's offering to the Shoe Tree

A Jessy Shaped Hole
Which dock?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Art of Climbing and Climbing Art

VEGA hosted the workshops
You can see 3 of the 4 options for the climb that day. 

It seems our caving adventure in New Zealand planted a little seed with both Paul and I.  Last weekend, we drove north to Interstate State Park for a climbing workshop.  As I mentioned in my New Zealand post, I am afraid of heights, but somehow I feel like rock climbing could become a thing for me.

I want to learn how to tie those fancy knots!
It definitely helped that the VEGA guides were super patient and nice and had already taken care of all of the safety equipment.

I was super scared most of the time, but I liked it anyways!

In this photo, the guide was yelling some helpful instructions on where I should go next, but I wasn't so sure that he wasn't crazy!  You really have to use everything you can to your advantage.  Having long arms and legs helps!  And, I never realized it before, but using your hips to brace and leverage is a key factor in maneuvering some of those angled spots.  I made it almost to the top but called it quits before I got there.  As soon as I got back on the ground, I regretted not pushing it further and wanted to go up again.  I only had a chance to go up once, though, because Paul needed a turn, too!

Paul chose the hardest of the 4 routes.  He didn't need any coaching from below and he made it look so darn easy!

He also wasn't afraid of using the tree to his advantage when he got into a tight spot.

We will definitely go climbing again!

Here he is at the top! Go, Paul!

Our climbing adventure happened right next to the St. Croix River, which is flowing really full and fast due to a really rainy spring/summer season.

After the park, we ventured on to another park!  The Franconia Sculpture Park.  It was here that we enjoyed our picnic lunch and checked out the sculptures.  This park keeps getting bigger every time I go.

This two sculpture were my favorite.

The colorful sculpture is called Play Station.  It inspired us to play!  (And, it also injures little kids who try to play on it.  We watched no less than 5 kids get hurt and cry while we ate lunch nearby.)

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